Monday, August 29, 2011

Put the Mango in the Coconut Bread

This time of year I always find myself thinking about zucchini bread (and, subsequently, looking up how to spell "zucchini," seriously, I can't be the only one...right?) but once I'm elbow-deep in shredded squash I always think there must be something more exciting to be making.  Banana bread?  Meh.  This time around I actually did my homework to see what fruits are in season, as I'm usually pretty bad about just following my baking whims and making whatever I'm in the mood for, regardless of availability.  That's when I hit upon mangoes!  I may have missed sour cherry season, but I'm not too late for mangoes.  And coconut, let's throw some coconut in there for good measure.

I've actually just started liking mango recently, I think because whenever I get it in restaurants it's usually under-ripe and, as a result, kind of tastes like eating a pine cone or something.  But slightly soft, deliciously ripe mango is awesome and my new favorite snack when I need a little taste of the tropics here on the East Coast.

If you've ever worked with mangoes before, you've probably looked up one of those helpful online guides that show you how to score the flesh into a grid pattern so the fruit just POPS right off, magically, from the skin.  Well, as you can see, mine wasn't quite so magical, but I did manage to figure it out after some trial and error.

I also added mango nectar and coconut water to this recipe to try to bring out the flavors a little bit more (and also because I've just been really curious to check out the coconut water fad to see what all the fuss is about--it's delicious!) so you could definitely omit those if they're not carried at your local supermarket.  If you do decide to use them, I recommend hanging onto the leftovers for the most delicious cocktail or smoothie you'll ever make.  Seriously. 

Mango Coconut Bread
  makes 2 loaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup mango nectar
1/4 cup coconut water
2 1/2 cups mangoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 if using ceramic, glass, or dark metal pans). Grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

2.  Combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, coconut, sugar) in a medium bowl. 

3.  In a small bowl, beat eggs lightly with oil, mango nectar and coconut water. Add to flour mixture and stir just until combined. 

4.  Add mangoes and lemon juice.  Stir just until incorporated.

5.  Pour into pans, bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.                                   

Monday, August 15, 2011

Martha Monday: Blueberry Shortcakes

Summer is here and, with it, the arrival of shortcakes.  Recently I had the urge to bake but didn't really know what to make (pretty standard for me) but luckily Martha was there with her latest issue of Living, profiling summer desserts.  On their own, there's nothing really exciting about shortcakes.  I mean, let's be honest, they're like the biscuit's lazy cousin.  But where shortcakes really shine is with the addition of fruit.  Or specifically for this recipe, fruit compote. 

The word "compote" is somewhat of an inside joke in my family, ever since my father once tried to order pancakes at a Bob Evans restaurant and made the mistake of asking the waitress if they could put any "fruit compote" on top.  I've honestly never seen a more confused look come across a person's face while she stared at my father blankly until he finally said something like, "You know? Fruit sauce??" I guess you had to be there :)


I know these might seem somewhat sacrilegious too if you've only ever had the standard strawberry shortcake.  A cook out standby from my childhood, I have to admit that I was skeptical that blueberry could beat out strawberry in this fruit fight, but honestly I will never go back.  "Compote" may sound complicated, but I promise it's super simple and you'll probably be making this sauce for all kinds of toppings.  Martha's recipe also calls for a side of Sweet Corn Ice Cream...yeah, I know...but I have yet to try out my ice cream maker (a topic for another post) so I'd love to hear how it tastes if anyone else gives it a try. 

So what do you think? Are you on team strawberry or blueberry?

I call it: Shortcakes in the City :)

Sweet Corn Ice Cream Shortcakes with Blueberry Compote
     Ice Cream
4 ears corn, shucked
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Black Spiced Rum
2 teaspoons black sugar (see instructions)
1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
¼ teaspoon pink peppercorns
9 large egg yolks

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cups low-fat butter milk
½ cup whole milk
Heavy cream for brushing
Course sugar, for sprinkling

     Blueberry Compote
1 pint fresh blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Make the ice cream: Carefully cut kernels from cobs, transfer to a saucepan. Break cobs in half; add to saucepan. Stir in milk, cream, ½ cup granulated sugar, rum, black sugar, pink salt and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Let cool; discard cobs.

2.  Place corn mixture in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat.

3.  Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk together egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl. Whisk 1 cup corn mixture into yolks, then return entire mixture to saucepan, whisking constantly, until custard thickens and can easily coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
Strain custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing down solids; discard solids. Transfer bowl to ice-water bath, and refrigerate for an hour.

4.  Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.

5.  Meanwhile, make the shortcakes: Preheat oven to 400°. Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and 1 ¼ teaspoons salt twice into a bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small clumps form. Make a well in the center, and pour in buttermilk. Mix until a shaggy mixture forms.

6.  Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, spoon in batter until about ¾ way full. Place in the oven and cook for about 16 minutes. Brush tops of the shortcakes with heavy creak and sprinkle with course sugar. Finish baking for two to four minutes, until cakes are golden brown.

7.  Make the blueberry compote: Bring 1 cup of blueberries, the granulated sugar, water, and lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until berries burst and liquid thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining blueberries. Let cool.

8.  Split shortcakes in half, top each with a scoop of ice cream and a spoonful of blueberry compote, then sandwich with shortcake tops.