There may come the day when you begin to think that your spouse is as smart as you are. Or, smarter. It’s a matter to reflect on.
I know Suzen is smarter than I am. I simply refuse to acknowledge it. It’s not that she has an ego. I just don’t want to open the door any wider than it is.
Yes, husbands have pride, too.
Suzen has a very deep philosophy about cooking, about the power of the kitchen as the ideal place for communication and learning. I have seen her develop teambuilding programs for adults, using the kitchen as a metaphor for life. I’ve seen and I’ve believed, but now I’ve experienced.
How do you bond with a little kid? That boy in the picture is Zachary, the son of Suzen’s cousin-one-removed from Paris. [If you don’t know what cousin-what-removed means, then look up cousins in Wikipedia. Zachary is not a second cousin. That’s if I understood the mathematics in the Wikipedia article correctly!]
It’s my second time with Zachary and at two years of age, he’s naturally shy. So, again, how do you bond? After extensive experimentation, Suzen has determined the food that is best for bonding with young children. You may have heard of it before: whipped cream.
I got to Zeva’s place with a lug holding the core pie, a bowl of whipped cream, and a bag of freshly toasted coconut. “Zachary,” I said, “I need help. We need to complete this pie.”
Living in Paris, I doubt that is a sentence the two-year old had heard before. Not even if you substitute “tart” for “pie.”
I needed to demo. I took up a big spoonful of whipped cream and dropped in on the pie and spread it out with the back of the spoon. Zachary watched. I took another. Then another. Then, as proof of his great intelligence, and with no verbal prompting, Zachary literally grabbed the spoon from my hand, scooped up a mountain of whipped cream and plopped it on the pie. I had to do the spreading, actually. That’s how you learn: one motor skill at a time.
Further to his credit, all the whipped cream went to the pie. None to his mouth. I don’t have that control.
In the picture above, we are past the whipped cream stage and Zachary is helping me spread the toasted coconut. Zeva took the picture and I think she had the speed wrong, which is why my hands are blurry. I don’t shake that fast at all.
I would bet, bet a lot, that you have never made your own coconut cream pie. This recipe, from Pie by Ken Haedrich, is awesome. On my first bite, I honestly thought this is best pie I have ever made, ever tasted. It’s so easy, I feel like an idiot for only having tried cream pies from restaurants or bakeries before. Some were good, some were old. This was heavenly and fresh.
Everyone at the table, and I mean everyone, said this pie was a wonder. That crust picture is the graham cracker crust, also from Pie but my thicker version, that I blogged early.
As I said, everyone loved the pie. Zachary said something to me. It was in the French of a two-year old but it sounded remarkably like “more.”
Ah, two notes. This recipe calls for coconut extract. You have some, right? Neither did I. So, I used some caramel extract, from one of those unopened bottles in the back of my shelf. It was right there next to the purple food coloring I bought for some reason. Anyway, caramel was fine. You can always improvise.
And, the recipe here calls for toasted coconut. Ken Haedrick has ideas about that and I’ll post that tomorrow. In the meantime, yes, 10 minutes in an oven at 325⁰.
Coconut Cream Pie
Yield: 1 9-inch pie, 6-8 slices, 1-8 people [some people like a lot of pie]
- 1 graham cracker crust, baked and cooled [see the blog post on this site for a great recipe]
For the filling:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 cup sweetened flacked coconut
For the topping to be applied just before eating:
- ¾ cup cold heavy or whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
Whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium-sized heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick. Whisk in the milk and egg yolks. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking virtually nonstop, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil, about to 7 minutes.
[Note, the heavier and wider your saucepan, the sooner it will boil. Mine did in 4+ minutes. Keep the heat on medium to medium-low so things don’t scorch.]
Continue to cook, whisking nonstop for about 1 minutes.
[Note, you will know, don’t worry. The cornstarch will kick in and the mixture will thicken very rapidly. You may want to lower the heat a tad, again to prevent scorching. And, as it thickens, the mixture will begin to cling to the sides of pan. That’s the reason for wanted a non-stick pan if possible. The parts that do stick may scorch so you want to be careful about what goes in the pie and what stays in the pan. Remember, you can always lick the pan before cleaning.]
Whisk in the vanilla, coconut extract and flaked coconut. Immediately pour the filling into the cooled pie shell and smooth the top with a spoon. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly over the filling, leaving no gaps or air pockets to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool, thoroughly, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
[Note, this is one place where I take exception. After filling the pie, I would let it cool to down towards room temperature before covering with plastic wrap. The thought of very warm filling in contact with plastic is not one I’m happy with.]
When you are almost ready to serve the pie, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until stiff but not grainy. Spread the whipped cream over the pie, as decoratively as you desire. Dust with the toasted coconut.
This pie will save well in a cold fridge for a day or two, but that is an unlikely experience.
Source: Pie by Ken Haedrick
For some, Florida seems a weird place. For the rest of us, Florida is a weird place. Now the fourth largest state, Florida is a jumble of theme parks, trailer parks, strip malls, and highways.
But the “old” Florida, the Florida of 40 or 50 years ago was something else, mostly rural and quiet. Get off the interstate, and you can still find the old Florida. There are scenic byways that wind through modest hills and groves of all kinds of trees. The best place to stop? Any of those authentic old farm stands, clinging to the side of the road with a dirt parking lot and wooden walls that slope in all directions. There, you’ll be hit by the smell of citrus as soon as you leave your air-conditioned car. The smell, and the taste of any of the juice there, can be overpowering.
No matter how much you love your skis, your snowboard, your snow shoes, you can’t help standing in that parking lot and wondering, “What if?”
Next to the cash register in the farm stands, there is usually a shelf piled high with oblong cardboard boxes colored white or yellow. The boxes hold a tender goodie: coconut patties. You can buy them at the farm stand, at the airport on the way home [for $ more], or on Amazon [9 patties for $20 + shipping & handling].
I love the patties, I have not been to Florida in a while, and — I am not cheap — but I am being economical in these times. It’s funny, but these patties are exactly the sort of thing you always buy, but never make. It never crossed my mind to do-it-myself. A couple of nights ago, at 3AM I had a bad hour. I had monkey brains and I could almost taste a coconut patty in my mouth. Almost taste. Like some vision in a scene from Shakespeare, there I lay: wide awake, rehearsing a speech to tell off some jerk in my life, and watching that chocolate-covered patty dance before me.
What did I do? I got up. My doctor says don’t just lie there. I tried a glass of really good tequila [my doctor does not mention tequila but I do know how to improvise]. And, while sipping, I surfed the web. Since God likes coconut too, I found this recipe. Actually, I found several, all quite similar. One of them actually credits this recipe to Wolfgang Puck, so I don’t want to leave him out of my chain of thanks. The recipe below calls for a semi-sweet chocolate covering. If you wish, substitute milk chocolate [but then add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or shortening and blend into the melted chocolate before dipping the patties].
These are easy to make. Really easy. They are easy to eat. Really easy. They are good for you. Kinda good.
Florida Style Coconut Cream Patties
Servings: 15+ patties depending on size
- 1.25 cups powdered sugar
- ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, cubed
- 1 egg white
- 1.25 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
Fill a medium saucepan with an inch of water and set it over medium heat to simmer.
In the bowl of a double boiler (or a bowl that fits snugly on top of your saucepan), combine the powdered sugar, butter, and egg white, and whisk together. Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water, and continue to heat and stir until the mixture is well-combined and very runny, about 5-10 minutes. [Note: you don’t want to cook that egg white, so do stop if the mixture is quite warm but still viscous].
Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the coconut and vanilla extract. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is firm enough to scoop, about 2 hours — overnight is fine.
Once the candy has firmed up, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every minute.
Using a teaspoon, scoop small balls of the coconut mixture and flatten them into discs between your palms.
Using two forks or dipping tools, dip the discs in the chocolate and drag the bottom against the lip of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Place the dipped patty on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining coconut candy and chocolate.
Place the dipped patties in the refrigerator to set the chocolate, about 20 minutes. Store coconut patties in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks [Note: I seriously doubt the lifetime of these things is beyond 1-2 days, not weeks, so just eat them!]
Source: About.com and Wolfgang Puck