Tag Archives: store cupboard

Cocoa Chilli Olive Oil

It’s been awful quiet around this blog and I won’t bore you with all the reasons why. Instead how about an olive oil infused with cocoa nibs and chill recipe you might like to try. Continue reading

Creamy Coconut Milk – Homemade

Coconut Milk-0054-2If you have subscribed to Food and Tools you might be feeling a sense of “Déjà Vu”…  I’ve seen this post before! Yes you have! I never knew blog posts could disappear and I have absolutely no idea how that happened. It did bring to my attention that some older posts have some broken links and missing photographs, so it seems I have a little housework to do. Maybe it happened when I switched themes! Thankfully I had most of this post saved… always backup EVERYTHING!

This post was also part of the February photography challenge over at Simone’s blog JungleFrog Cooking and the theme, Homemade… making a homemade recipe from scratch. My first introduction to fresh coconut milk was in Thailand some years back and seeing how easy the process of extracting fresh coconut milk from grated coconut was, encouraged me to make coconut milk at home. It’s so easy to grab a tin of coconut milk (maybe not so easy to find a good quality brand) from the store cupboard, but there is a great sense of culinary pride when you make your own coconut milk… give it a try.

Making delicious creamy coconut milk at home is easy but cracking the hard shell of the coconut might be the most difficult part and result in a few painful mishaps!  If you have a supermarket (Lulu and Geant in Riffa) that grates fresh coconut it might be a good idea to avail of this service. Homemade coconut milk means no additives, stabilizers or salt and it’s dairy free. When selecting a coconut, gentle shake and listen for the sound of liquid sloshing around inside, no sound or very little means the coconut has cracks, leakages or old and dried out.

Coconut reminds me of Halloween and as a child I have memories of myself desperately trying to pry the coconut flesh from the shell with a dinner knife, stabbing myself a few times in the process. Placing a coconut (cracked and water drained) in a preheated oven on moderate heat for about 15 minutes helps loosen the coconut flesh, making it easier to pry away from the shell… a tip I could have done with years ago! Although you can complete the process of making coconut milk by hand, some kitchen tools make it easier. To grate the coconut flesh use an electric coconut scraper, the fine side of a grating blade on a food processor or a manual grater. Using a blender to blend the grated coconut flesh with hot water  helps extract more of the oils, resulting in a creamier milk with more flavor. You can also soak the grated coconut flesh in the hot water and when cool, massage the coconut flesh with your hands for about three minutes before straining. Using a cheesecloth bag or nut milk bag makes it easier to strain and squeeze the coconut milk from the grated coconut flesh.Home-made Coconut Milk

On standing, the strained coconut milk separates and the coconut cream rises to the top. If you only need the coconut cream for a particular recipe, leave the coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. The coconut cream on top will have completely solidified (will soften again at room temperature), making it easy to remove, leaving behind a light coconut milk.  When making coconut milk you can experiment with the grated coconut and water ratios to make a consistency you like. Use the coconut milk or cream to whip up some tasty coconut desserts like a coconut and date dipping sauce or  chilli coconut broth with caramelized fresh pineapple. Use coconut milk or cream in curries, sauces, soups, smoothies, custards, ice creams, rice dishes, bread and cake making… the list is quite endless. Grated coconut can be frozen so its handy to keep a few bags in the freezer.

Coconut Mlk-LRE-0179

Creamy Coconut Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 coconut ( 260g when grated)
  • hot water (used 260g of hot water)

Note: Depending on how many coconuts you use, weigh the grated coconut flesh and use the same weight in water. Based on the above weights I extracted 350ml of creamy coconut milk. On leaving the coconut milk to separate and solidify, the coconut cream (when removed) weighed 120g, leaving behind 230ml of light coconut milk

How to make: If using a whole coconut; Preheat the oven to moderate temperature. Holding the coconut securely in one hand, held over a sink ( which will catch the water), whack the coconut along the middle with the back-end of a heavy chefs knife or cleaver. You may have to repeat this step a few more times to break the coconut in half. Place the coconut into the oven for fifteen minutes, remove from the oven and cool before handling. Pry the flesh away from the shell using a knife and grated the coconut flesh.

Place the grated coconut flesh and hot water into a blender, blend for a minute, scrape down the sides and blend again. Pour the coconut mixture into a straining bag or nut milk bag placed over a bowl and when the mixture is cool enough to handle, twist the straining bag and squeeze out as much coconut milk as possible. Transfer the coconut milk to a suitable container and refrigerate until need. Coconut milk can be stored in the fridge for 2 days.

Note: You can repeat the process a second time, mixing the coconut flesh with more hot water, blending and straining again which results in a watery coconut milk with not as much flavor. Do not mix both together as it will dilute the taste of the creamier coconut milk… unless it’s a consistency and taste you prefer!

Once the grated coconut is squeezed of all its goodness it is quite tasteless, especially after a second pressing, I usually discard it.

Preserved Lemons

I always like to keep a constant supply of what I call my must-have store cupboard essentials, like home-made vanilla products, dried tomatoes, preserves etc.  Even though I refer to them as store cupboard items some need refrigeration, as living in the middle east does not allow for a cool enough pantry or store cupboard!

Used in Moroccan and North African cooking, preserved lemons are an indispensable and wonderful item to have in your store cupboard… at a moments notice food can take on a new dimension both in flavour and taste by adding small amounts of preserved lemons to salad dressings, salads, stews, relishes, pizza toppings, stuffings, marinades and so much more!

When I started preserving lemons I remember following a recipe that used so much salt that I found them inedible and quite horrible, throwing the whole lot in the bin and not thinking much of preserved lemons!

Before satellite TV came to Bahrain my parents would record cookery programs for me and send them by post! Dad was usually in charge of editing but I could always tell when he had nodded off on the job, leaving me to watch cookery programs along with long TV commercials and bits of other programs! So it was in one of those recorded cookery programs I gave preserved lemons another chance… and if you have never tried making them before, it is so worth the effort!

A little goes a long way with preserved lemons, which are salty, tart and intensely flavoursome, and when it comes to slicing and dicing the preserved lemons, a good sharp knife is a must, obtaining the finest results!

With a lemon tree (two years) growing in the garden I would so like to tell you that I am using my own organic lemons, but I am going to have to wait until next year… all my lovely little lemons this year turned black and fell off 😦  I am still not giving up… so fingers crossed for next year.

 Preserved Lemons

Ingredients:

  • 5 lemons, (see note below if not using organic or un-waxed lemons)
  • 5 rounded tablespoons of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaf
  • extra juice of 3 or 4 lemon (zest beforehand and use in another recipe or dry the peel)
  • olive oil

You will need a suitable preserving jar with a tight fitting lid.

How to make: Using a sharp knife cut the lemons lengthways into 4 quarters, stopping just about 1/2cm before the stem, keeping the lemon quarters intact. Open the lemons up a little and place a rounded tablespoon of salt into the middle of each lemon. Tightly pack all the lemons into a clean sterilized jar, adding the mustard seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Cover the jar with a lid and set aside for several hours, by this time the lemons will start to release a little of their juices.

Open up the jar and using the back of a small ladle, push the lemons down into the jar, helping to release more juice. Pour in the extra lemon juice to fully cover the lemons. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the lemon juice and cover with a lid.

Store in the refrigerator for one month before using! When using the preserved lemons remove the pulp and dice or slice the required amount. The pulp can be liquidized and used sparingly in marinades, stews or discarded if wished. Use lemons within six months.

Tip: To help remove and melt the wax from lemons; place lemons into a heatproof bowl and pour over some very hot (not boiling) water. Leave the lemons to sit for a minute or two. Remove the lemons using a slotted spoon or tongs and immediately dry the warm lemons by rubbing them with some kitchen paper or a clean lint free tea towel.

Try using different whole spices like, fennel seeds, cumin, coriander seeds, cardamon pods allspice and star anise, you could also add whole dried chilli!

Have you made or used preserved lemons before? What is your favourite way of using them?

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