Coconut extravaganza! ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

11 April 2013

Coconut extravaganza!

red lentil curry with avocado

I have a new favorite ingredient and its name is coconut. Coconut oil, coconut milk, actual shreds of sweetened coconut--I want it all. Okay! Let's do it!

My stash of extra virgin coconut oil had been sitting around alone and unloved ever since I used it in my 3-ingredient DIY deodorant. (This has been working just about perfectly for me, incidentally, so if you've been putting off making your own homemade deodorant, go for it!) But now? Now it is no longer alone and unloved. I've started using it as a cooking oil, and is it ever great.

I started out by making Gena's curried lentils, substituting red lentils for the specified yellow, and serving the whole shebang over basmati rice. The coconut oil gives this curry a faint tropical undertone and a richer mouthfeel, making the whole dish much more satisfying.

This was amazing, not to mention practically free. Isn't that a great feeling? I heart practically free food. And it tasted just about perfect, whether with avocado (always a plus) or with a big spoonful of plain yogurt and some sriracha sauce. When you put those two traits together, you know you have a good thing on your hands.

I liked it so much that I made a big pot of very similar red lentil soup with coconut oil and quinoa several days later. That one got the yogurt and sriracha treatment too. So good.

coconut bread

Next, I started drooling over Michelle's beautiful-looking coconut bread. Clearly, I needed to test it out and determine its actual deliciousness level. So I bought a bag of shredded coconut and went to town.

This recipe is based on the original at Smitten Kitchen, but substitutes in coconut milk in place of dairy. I'm thinking this made the loaf a bit heavier overall--but it also made it an especially coconutty delight. COCONUT!

The only change I made was to sub in wheat flour in place of the all-purpose. This is kind of the default at our house, since we almost never have all-purpose flour, but always have whole wheat kicking around. Wheat flour generally gives a slightly more damp and hearty character to baked goods, and that was certainly the case here. I think it worked especially well with all the chewy strands of sweet shredded coconut.

coconut bread with strawberries

Toasted in the toaster oven, cut into cubes, and topped with sliced sugared strawberries, this bread made one of the best desserts ever. Or maybe one of the best breakfasts ever. Either. Both. Yes.

Speaking of strawberries, how about a coconut milk and strawberry smoothie?

I had just about 1/4 cup of coconut milk left after making my coconut bread, so I stuck it in the freezer for a few days. Then, when I scored some windfall white grapefruit, but didn't want to make it into a typical alcoholic beverage--the fact that it was Monday at 11:30 am helped a lot there--I decided it was smoothie time.

coconut milk, strawberry, grapefruit, and yogurt smoothie

White grapefruit, strawberries, frozen coconut milk, and yogurt made a delightfully tart, thick, and filling creation. I also got to avoid the bane of my smoothie existence: frozen bananas. Seriously, frozen bananas are one of the main reasons I don't do smoothies more often (the other reasons are my visceral repulsion as regards the word "smoothie" and my dislike of washing the blender), so discovering the wonders of frozen coconut milk essentially made the heavens open right there.

coconut milk, strawberry, grapefruit, and yogurt smoothie

I put my smoothie in a mason jar. This worked out especially well, because when I discovered I was too full to drink the entire thing, I just put a lid on it and put it in the refrigerator, a la KERF. Then, the next day, I drank it for completely instant and ready-made breakfast. Hooray!

What's next on the coconut agenda? Hmmm...any suggestions?


Michelle said...

I. Love. Coconut. It's such a love affair. So versatile. So glad you liked the coconut bread. I bet the wheat flour was super good. I love a good, dense bread.

So this frozen coconut thing? Why have I not thought of this? I cannot stand frozen bananas as well (but I go through phases to partake in the benefits it lends to the creaminess of it), so this is perfect. I've thought about grabbing avocados the next time they aren't $2830298329. That's another fun one to add.

This is next on my coconut agenda: and

Catherine said...

I pop popcorn in coconut oil ... :)

Caz said...

I love coconut too! I've used coconut oil in baked goods for a while but I've just started using it for general cooking too. Even things like frying eggs. It's also great for making granola with of course extra shredded coconut. You've inspired me to start using coconut milk more. Frozen coconut milk in smoothie's sounds like a genius idea.

foodfeud said...

I'm with you on the homemade deodorant but coconut is SO great in everything edible. It's the only oil I bake with anymore. I treated myself to an incredible coconut bar coated with dark chocolate the other day - kinda like a mounds bar but drier and it was amzing.
Sounds great with the lentils too.

Joanne said...

I have a jar of coconut oil hanging out on my shelves that I rarely ever use!! Need to change that, especially since I'm super into coconut these days!

Monet said...

Clearly I need to jump on the coconut bandwagon! I have used it in a few recipes, but this post was so inspiring. SO many yummy recipes to try! Thank you for sharing with me.

Cate said...

Coconut is seriously where it's at. My new favorite thing to make is homemade coconut manna/butter from shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes. It's so so good. And super easy to make if you have a high speed blender!

adriennefriend said...

Seriously, frozen bananas are one of the main reasons I don't do smoothies more often (the other reasons are my visceral repulsion as regards the word "smoothie" and my dislike of washing the blender), so discovering the wonders of frozen coconut milk essentially made the heavens open right there.