Homemade Coconut Milk

I love Starbucks for introducing the coconut milk option in their menus around the world because as the big evil milk alternative dictator, soy’s time in power was inching towards a well-deserved coup d’etat. Plus it makes people bloat like balloons.

Lucky enough we have wheelbarrows of coconuts being pushed around in Haiti. So if you manage to spend a whole minutes throwing a rock-hard shell against your patio floor and possess a blender (and an old Haitian woman’s dexterity in scraping out the white flesh from the husk with a sharp knife) – you my friend, are getting a white, creamy, delicious, (and very fat) treat.

For this recipe you need:

  1. An old dry coconut
  2. Water
  3. Blender
  4. Sieve
  • Wash your hands – it will get messy.
  • Trying not to lose a finger, unhusk the dried white coconut by wedging a knife between the husk and the flesh and gently loosening large chunks. Discard the husk.
  • Count your fingers.
  • Placing the chunks in your blender, fill it in half with drinking water.
  • Blend on high speed until a frothy white milk starts to form.
  • Pour the liquid through a sieve into a large jug or recipient, squeezing out the pulverised flesh to release any liquid it absorbed.
  • Place the flesh back into the blender, fill it again to about half and repeat the process.

Use your judgement and personal taste for the amount of water you choose to go with for this recipe in order to achieve the consistency and taste you want.

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Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte with Warm Spices


Homemade coconut milk is my all time favorite messy recipe. If you’re lucky enough to live in the tropics and have access to fresh brown coconuts, you will feel like Tarzan after smashing those babies open on hard surfaces. If that’s not enough to get you excited, the creamy dreamy texture and taste of homemade coconut milk will make you wonder why you ever went store-bought in the first place. I’m in love with the coco. nut. 
After getting a fresh flavorful coconut milk for your base, it’s all about quality ingredients for the rest on this recipe gotten off Laura Wright’s The First Mess blog. I was lucky enough to have a recent trip to Abu Dhabi where I bought incredible cinnamon, coconut oil and Medjool dates from Jordan. Haiti is also blessed with vanilla pod trees, so we have incredible extracts in the mountainous regions. 

Latte Ingredients

1 vanilla rooibos tea bag (I have previously used pure rooibos)

6 oz boiling water

6 oz unsweetened plant-based milk (homemade coconut milk recipe included below) – yes you can buy at the groceries but I’m hoping you won’t)

1 pitted Medjool date

1 teaspoon coconut butter/oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon + extra for dusting

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Method

  1. In your serving mug, brew the rooibos tea in the boiling water for at least 3 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium, bring the plant milk, date, coconut butter, cinnamon, and vanilla extract to a light boil. Carefully transfer the milk mixture to your blender and blitz on high for 20 seconds or so.
  3. Pour the frothy warm milk mixture over the tea. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and nutmeg over the top. You can leave the teabag in or take it out. Rooibos only gets better with longer steeping time.

Homemade Coconut Milk Ingredients

1 Brown mature coconut (dry meat inside)

4-5 cups of water

You’ll need a good blender and a fine strainer or clean cloth

Method

  1. Smash open the coconut on an outdoor surface (you know you want to) Don’t break your ceramics like I did once out of excitement. 
  2. Scoop out the white meat using a knife – this is harder than it sounds, and the two most common outcomes are cutting yourself or breaking the tip of your knife (I know, I know, but it tastes amazing so keep going) The best method is usually to wedge your knife between the white flesh and the husk, and to wiggle it deep enough and give it an easy flick to separate the two. 
  3. Place about 3 Cups of water in you blender with the coconut’s chunks and blend for a good 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the milk in a jug over a strainer or through a clean cloth and squeeze all the milk from the flesh. 
  5. Place the coconut flakes back in the blender and add the 2 remaining cups of water. Repeat step 3 and 4.

Ta-da, you’ve made coconut milk. Refrigerate it and save the rest of the milk and flakes for some Thai Coconut Curry soup or coconut macaroons. 

If you need a quick fix on a hot day, mimic Clear Café in Bali. They blend chilled coconut milk with ice, vanilla extract and honey for hot and thirsty travelers. 

Laura’s Note: Rooibos is my favourite variety of tea. It’s naturally sweet, caffeine-free, and apparently it helps with iron absorption too, which can never hurt for the plant-inclined. Because of the natural sweetness and a slight nutty edge, it makes a perfect latte. I do this up with coconut milk, warm spices and extra vanilla (in addition to the vanilla imbued rooibos that I start with). It’s so cozy and comforting to sip.

Easy Sundays: Dutch Baby

In our little Caribbean house, weekend mornings always echoed with crepes (there is nothing tropical about crepes, unless you’re like me and slather them with local roasted peanut butter, freshly picked bananas and a drizzle of honey).

But now that I’m all grown up, and somehow still have not learned that unholy amounts of sugary dough are not part of a balanced breakfast, I’ve upgraded to Dutch Babies as a Sunday staple.

I got this recipe off Chrissy Teigen’s new #cravingscookbook, because it’s the easiest one on the internet and you virtually cannot mess this up. Trust me, I was paranoid and I sat in front of my oven for 10 minutes to make sure it was rising. Not only did it rise, Paranoid me had to sit an additional 10 minutes to make sure the enormous fluffly golden pancake didn’t overflow everywhere in what would have been the most delicious explosion of dough ever to happen inside an oven.

Ingredients

Batter
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp butter melted

For the pan
2 tbsp of butter for greasing

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 475F
  2. When your oven has reached 475F, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a cast iron pan or baking dish until foamy. Make sure to coat all sides of the pan.
  3. Blend all of the batter ingredients and immediately pour into the pan that’s been greased with the foamy butter. Waste no time, pop the dish back into the oven.
  4. Now you can, A. Set your timer for 18-20 minutes. B. Sit in front of the oven like me and flash your iPhone light every so often to watch that baby rise. You can also listen to this while you do. Because rising golden dough should be dramatic.

I sprinkled powdered sugar on it, and drowned it in syrup. Whole week ahead to burn calories right? (no.)

Cook’s tip: I noticed that the hotter your oven, a croissant texture will form – the lower the heat, it will take on more a doughy, chewy, egg-like consistency. Both taste good.

Balinese grilled fish, sambal sauce and sweet basil

Let’s face it, I have scribbled down recipes on way too many backs of receipts, iPhone notes, slash any other available surface – not to mention the amount of ripped recipe pages I have lying around the house, stolen from food magazines – so I love the idea of having a food blog. Brownie points for being spill-proof, and immune to flying tomato sauce stains while I attempt Indonesian sambal sauce. Viva the digital age.
I got this recipe from Bear Naked Food and completely botched my first attempt. We are sacrificing fish number two tonight to the altar of hope and hot chili.

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Ingredients:

1 large / 2 medium sized whole fish (about 600 g) – either Snapper, Tilapia, Seabass etc
Juice from 1 lime

Marinade:
3 candlenuts (buah keras)
4 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

Basting sauce:
¼ cup (60 ml) kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 tbsp (15 g) butter or margarine – melted
2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

Method

  1. Clean and pat dry the fish with paper towels. Use a sharp knife and make a few deep scores on the both sides of the fish. Spread the lime juice all over the fish to get rid of the fishy smell.
  2. Using a mortar & pestle or grinder, pound all the marinade spices together and mix in the oil. Cover and let them hang out in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat up your griddle or grill pan. Add some oil to make sure to prevent the fish from sticking. Gently put in the fish and grill until cooked. Different fish vary in different sizes so cooking time might differ. Mine took about 4 mins per side. Avoid flipping them over too soon and too many times to prevent sticking.
  4. When the fish is about done, brush the sweet sauce all over the fish and continue to cook for another min. Serve with your favorite sambal sauce.

N.B. I used a different sambal than the one included in the recipe gotten from Indonesian Eats

Ingredients

150 grams Thai red chilies
75 grams cherry tomatoes
100 grams shallot
50 grams cloves garlic
5 candlenuts (I used cashews – I heard macadamias are good too)
1 tablespoon terasi (dried shrimp paste)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (gula merah, gula Jawa)
sea salt as desired
oil for stir frying

Method

1. In a high heat, roast all ingredients except, coconut sugar, sea salt and oil in the oven about 15 minutes or until the aroma comes out to the air.

2. Grind the roasted ingredients until smooth but not too fine. It’s up to you to choose a traditional way for grinding the ingredients into spice paste. I chose to use my favorite helper, a food processor to do the job for me.

3. In a wok or skillet, heat up the oil and stir fry the spice paste in the vegetable oil for a few minutes, then add the sea salt and coconut sugar. The amount of coconut sugar can be added as some Javanese tend to have a sweeter taste than any other ethnic groups in the country. Keep stirring until the liquid evaporates and the color turns darker (dark red).

Notes

Serve the whole fish on a clean banana leaf, along with some Jasmine or wild rice and a few sprigs of sweet basil – place the sambal on the side for dipping. Traditionally eaten with hands, use fingers to roll a ball of rice, basil and fish before dipping for a blast of flavors in every bite.