Showing posts with label coconut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coconut. Show all posts

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gala Parfait: Tiki Party

Tiki has become something special to me over the years.
It is not just a kitschy party theme, type of cloyingly sweet drank, or dive bar category. Bizarrely enough it's filed alongside heavyweights like Christmas and New Year's as an important family tradition. Yes, my parents, sister and I do Tiki. And if I do say so myself, we do it damn well.

Initially, the end of summer Tiki Party at my parents' home in Tucson was a heavily-anticipated annual celebration. A break from large family gatherings brimming with kids ("we love your keikis, but this one is for adults"), and the rare party to really have a focus on drinking. Since I was college-aged when the Tiki Party debuted, I was not only surprised by this, but fully on board! Each year seemed to one-up the prior, adding a pit-roasted whole pig, ukelele orchestra, and even tradition hula dancers in full garb. It was a fantastic tradition.

Then one year the invite never went out. Then another year. The masses were restless, when would there be another Tiki Party? I tried to sate myself in California with regular visits to Tiki Ti, Tonga Room, Trader Sam's and with a big fat Tiki episode on my podcast The Table Set, but it wasn't enough. Once I found out my sister Megan missed it as much as me we conspired to convince my parents by any means necessary to bring it back.

Then this year... we finally succeeded.

It's always a whirlwind driving home to Arizona and jumping in to the preparations. It's also always startling opening the fridge in the garage to see Laura Palmer as a pig, awaiting the sacrificial pyre.

Day of, first thing's first - Get that pig going. It takes all afternoon to get a proper tender slow-cooked Kalua-style pig.

The photo opp murals Megan painted are always a hit.

And while the tables are set, I have my hands full with another task.

Shocking, I know - I manage the bar. With the addition of the bamboo tiki hut-style bar this year, things got serious.

Selecting a menu is hardly an easy task. Each year we debate, recounting drink popularity from the previous parties. The true Mai Tai is our collective favorite, but seems to be too boozy for our guests, as we always have the most leftover of it. The Blue Hawaiian is garish, but always a winner. We pre-mix everything in large batches as well, so the recipe has to work in that format - and some ingredients, such as bitters, intensify over time. This year I decided to select all new drinks; Classics that cover very different flavor profiles as well as liquor variety. No need to be rum snobs - It's just not for everybody.

In lieu of the signature Mai Tai I went out on a limb with South Pacific Punch, a potent blend of dark and light rums, fresh orange and lime juices, Falernum and passion fruit syrup. Not for the faint of heart, I think the profile of the spicy Falernum is what set this drink apart.

To satisfy the sweet drink lovers, instead of a neon blue concoction (I just can't get down with Blue Curaçao) I opted for the popular Chi Chi, a vodka-based riff on the Piña Colada with coconut cream, pineapple juice and a dust of nutmeg. Sometimes simplicity is best.

For the first time we introduced a bourbon-based tiki drink, which turned out to be the crowd favorite, the ominous-sounding Polynesian Paralysis. Akin to a Hawaiian-style Mai Tai, this one blends pineapple and citrus juices with orgeat, which marry nicely with the bourbon for a dangerously smooth sipper.

We always try to think of creative ways to keep designated drivers and non-drinkers in on the fun, and this year hibiscus lemonade and tropical iced tea just wasn't going to cut it, so I whipped up a non-alcoholic tiki classic Rainbow Punch. Here pineapple, orange, and lime juices are blended with grenadine, soda, and bitters for a well-disguised virgin.

It was an exhausting night of shaking drinks, so I was happy to have some relief long enough to get in on the Kalua pig and Polynesian potluck before it was all gone.

Perlana, one of the "best dressed" winners enjoys a Chi Chi.

Yes, no matter how much math and careful planning goes into our batch drink making, we always over-do it and have SO much leftover. Not a huge complaint, but it suffices to say that Tiki Party turns into Tucson Tiki WEEK. Aw well, maybe we'll get it right next year... Oh yes, there will be a next year.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Buvare: Little Dom's Sno Ball

Sometimes you just HAVE to try something, and it will plague your every waking hour until you submit. That was my week after reading about Little Dom's summer offering of alchoholic shaved ice Sno Balls.
Leaving work early today, Cara and I cruised down to our favorite neighborhood joint for a couple of frosty balls. I got the Coconut Cream Sno Ball, shaved ice toasted coconut-infused evaporated milk and a no-nonsense shot of Old New Orleans Cajun Spice Rum on the side.
Cara opted for the Chocolate Sno Ball made with bittersweet Valrhona cocoa powder.
Though a nice idea, and quite tasty, consuming the hardened shaved ice and sidecar of rum in a brimming paper cup was... really a logistical nightmare. The tables on either side of us watched in disinterested awe as we silently fiddled with our balls using tiny plastic spoons, letting out an occasional "oh jeez!"
The woman next to us put it best when she exclaimed "it's really an event!"
The Sno Balls are available loaded up from Little Dom's, or of the virginal variety from Little Dom's Deli next door. Challenge your summer with a cocktail that's also a crowd-winning parlour game.
2128 Hillhurst Ave. Los Feliz; 323.661.0055

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Voyager Bien: Disney World Dining part 2

Since this was the week to do Disney World -and do it right- a handful of special events filled our agenda, especially around meal times. Our second day at the parks ended with one of the more anticipated - the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at WDW's waterfront Polynesian Resort.
A quick boat ride from the Magic Kingdom, and a stop along the WDW resort-wide monorail, the Polynesian is one of the most popular resorts, and I could see why. It's a slice of the Big Island with a breezy tropical lobby, two authentic Hawaiian restaurants, and even a sandy [faux] beach. In fact, one of the best meals of the trip was our breakfast at the Polynesian's casual Kona Cafe on our final day, with macadamia-pineapple pancakes, smoked pulled pork hash and eggs. Recommended! (Check out their menu).
This evening however we were not dining in one of their restaurants, we were attending an outdoor "all-you-care-to-eat", family-style luau featuring hula dancing and fire knife dancers.
Once we were lei'd and had our photo taken, we were lead to a table in a large bamboo dining hall. A server took our drink orders (I got a tiki cocktail served in a carved monkey coconut shell) and brought out heavy silver platters holding fresh cut pineapple, salad with mango poppy seed dressing and Mandarin oranges, and my favorite, lightly sweet coconut bread. A very refreshing start.
The main course consisted of barbequed pork ribs, roast chicken, Polynesian-style rice and seasonal vegetable. The ribs and chicken were smokey and tasty, but the sides left something to be desired. A picturesque chocolate mousse volcano (that ironically I did not capture a good image of) was a passable dessert, but second fiddle to the show which by now was well underway.
The talented performers represented the many nations of the South Pacific, with traditional dances and costumes from Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Climaxing with the crowd favorite fire knife dances, the Spirit of Aloha was an entertaining dinner theater event, though my itchy aversion to pure "tourism" flared throughout. I would recommend this to families with children, but perhaps dinner at 'Ohana for a slightly more adult Polynesian experience.

For reservations:
(407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463
or book online

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recettes Secrètes: Street's Kaya Toast

Thank you LATimes for this gift - I just discovered the recipe for one of my favorite dishes in LA posted on Culinary SOS... You may recall my blathering last year over Susan Feniger's exquiste "uniquely Singapore" Kaya Toast. Consisting of lightly toasted Malaysian white bread slices sandwiching slivers of butter and a thick spread of coconut jam, what makes Kaya Toast so magical is its pairing with a soft-fried egg drizzled with dark soy and a dash of white pepper. Breaking the egg yolk with the toasty sweet mini coconut sandwich and melding the soy, pepper, buttery yolk and tropical creamy flavors is, in a word, divine. Definitely make it to Street to sample the dish if you haven't, then use this recipe to tirelessly emulate it at home every weekend morning for the rest of your life.

Street's Kaya toast plate
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 1

Note: Adapted from Street. Coconut milk will separate; stir well before measuring. Pandan leaves can be found at Thai and many general Asian markets. Dark soy sauce is a slightly thicker soy sauce and is available at Asian markets.

Coconut jam:

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
8 pandan leaves, washed and tied into a knot
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
3 egg yolks

1. In a small sauce pot, mix together the coconut milk and one-half cup sugar. Stir in the pandan leaves and salt and bring to a boil over high heat, keeping the pandan submerged in the milk as the leaves cook and soften. When the milk has come to a boil, remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 10 minutes.

2. Remove the pandan leaves from the milk, squeezing any excess liquid from the leaves into the milk. Discard the leaves.

3. In a medium stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and remaining one-half cup sugar. Whisk in the coconut milk mixture to form a custard base.

4. Place the stainless steel bowl over a medium pot of lightly simmering water. Gently cook the custard, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. The final texture should have a thick custard consistency (a trail of the spatula should remain on the surface of the custard for more than 10 seconds).

5. Immediately remove from heat and strain into a medium bowl set over a larger bowl of ice water. Stir until the custard cools, then cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes about 2 cups coconut jam, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the jam will keep for 1 week, refrigerated.

Kaya toast plate assembly:

2 tablespoons coconut jam
2 slices dense white bread, such as pain de mie or pullman, toasted on 1 side
1 1/2 tablespoons shaved salted butter
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
Dash ground white pepper
1 soft boiled egg, peeled

1. Spread the coconut jam evenly over both slices of bread on the untoasted side, then place a layer of shaved butter over the jam. Place one slice of bread over the other to form a sandwich.

2. Halve the sandwich, then cut each half into thirds to form 6 even wedges.

3. Pour the dark soy sauce over the egg and dash with the pepper. Serve the egg alongside the sandwich wedges.

Each serving: 443 calories; 13 grams protein; 51 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 282 mg. cholesterol; 1,055 mg. sodium.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Recettes Secrètes: Thai Coconut Lime Pops

Here's a goodie from my sister Megan. Her popsicle molds were from Bed Bath and Beyond and have cool little spouts for sipping the melted bits at the bottom. If you don't have molds, just use little cups with wood sticks or simply ice cube trays with plastic wrap and tooth picks or cut-down wood skewers.

14-ounce can of coconut milk
zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1/4-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar (to taste)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup diced pineapple

Puree coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice and sugar in blender. Then stir in 1/4 cup shredded coconut. Pour into molds. Finely dice canned pineapple to equal approx 1/3 cup. Sprinkle the pineapple into the popsicle mixture (in molds) will slowly sink to even distribute itself within the mixture. Insert sticks. Freeze for several hours until firm.

Enjoy on a hot summer's day!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Buvare: My 5 Summer Cocktails

Summer weather may have just hit LA, but in the past several weeks I've already begun concocting a handful of cocktails that sure do quench a hot afternoon thirst. Here are my current favorites:

Kumquat Drop (or, Fallen Fruit Cocktail)
1 1/2 ounces Crater Lake Vodka
1 ounce fresh-picked-lemon juice
3/4 ounce Tuaca
1/2 ounce agave nectar
dash blood orange bitters
1 fresh-picked kumquat, halved
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
Shake. Strain into a martini glass.

1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Hendricks Gin
1 ounce Lemon Grove Limoncello
splash of sparkling mineral water
orange slice
Combine all ingredients except mineral water in a mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into a double old-fashioned over cracked ice. Top with mineral water. Garnish with orange slice.Coconut Lime Rickey
1 1/2 ounces Mount Gay white rum
1 ounce fresh coconut juice
3/4 ounce Velvet Falernum
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1 lime wedge
Using a large drill bit, twist holes into 2 of the coconut's "eyes." Drain liquid through a fine sieve. In a cocktail shaker, combine coconut juice, lime juice, Velvet Falernum, agave and rum. Shake. Strain into a tumbler over ice. Garnish with lime wedge.

1 ounce rye
1 ounce Laird's Applejack
3/4 ounce fresh meyer lemon juice
1/2 ounce pure maple syrup
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth
dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged bitters
orange peel
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with flamed orange peel (learn how here).

Strega Margarita
1 ounce tequila
1 ounce Strega
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
splash of Tuaca
Combine all ingredients except Tuaca in a cocktail shaker.
Shake, and strain into a high ball over ice. Float with the Tuaca.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Recettes Secrètes: The Anzac Cookie

Speaking of Australian cookies... I've had this Anzac Cookie recipe kicking around for ages and finally whipped them up last night in my obsessive orange blossom haze. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - Most stories tell of these cookies (or "biscuits") being made by Australian and Kiwi women for soldiers during WWI. The simple, spoil-resistant ingredients made them easy to store and ship, also as they were then baked quite crisp (read: inedibly hard).
The recipe has surely changed much since WWI, and everyone likes theirs baked differently (thin and crisp v.s. soft and chewy). One of the signature ingredients in this Anzac cookie recipe is golden syrup - tricky to find here in the United States (shh, I substituted honey - It gives the cookies a slightly different flavor, but is delicious just the same). This recipe also includes orange zest and orange blossom water, which you might exclude for a more authentic biscuit. There are many other things you can do with the tasty Anzac dough - great as a cobbler topping, or even a tart base. Leftover cookies keep well in an air-tight container for a few days.

Anzac Cookie Recipe

1 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fine grain natural cane sugar OR brown sugar
1 cup finely shredded non-sweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup butter, cut into little cubes
2 tablespoons golden syrup or honey
zest of one medium orange

1 tablespoon boiling water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl; flour, oats, sugars, and coconut. Mix well.
In a small saucepan over low heat combine the butter syrup (or honey), and orange zest. Stir until melted and remove from heat. In a small bowl whisk together the boiling water and baking soda. Stir it into the butter. Now pour the butter mixture over the big bowl of oats and stir. Add the orange blossom water and stir again. This is a dough I like to mix it with my hands to make sure the butter is evenly distributed and the dough is moist throughout. I baked this batch of cookies in a well-buttered, heart-shaped cast iron pan, but you can simply drop them by the tablespoonful onto parchment lined baking sheets. Make sure they aren't too flat or they will get crispy. Bake for about 12 minutes or until deeply golden.
Makes 18 - 24 medium cookies.