Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Sunday, April 27, 2008


No blogging till exams are over. Sorry, Charlie. See you after May 6.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Daring Bakers Do Dorie

As I recently wrote, I'm a new Dorie Greenspan cult follower, so I was pretty psyched to see that this month's Daring Bakers recipe was to be Dorie's own Perfect Party Cake. If Dorie Greenspan herself is calling something "perfect," you know it's going to be good. When Joe was here visiting a couple weeks ago, we set off on this baking adventure with great relish.

The Perfect Party Cake is a layer cake lightly scented with lemon, and between each set of layers it's got both raspberry preserves as well as buttercream frosting. More buttercream frosting finishes the outside of the cake, along with some shredded coconut for good measure.

Everything went perfectly this time around, and the flavor combination of lemon, raspberry, and coconut was truly sublime. However, I've come to realize that I simply don't care for buttercream frosting. It's just...too much. Too rich, too much butter. Nonetheless, Joe and I had a great time baking the cake, and an even better time eating it. I would definitely make this again with another, lighter kind of frosting.

To see hundreds of other takes on Dorie's Perfect Party Cake, head on over to the Daring Bakers Blog Roll. While the host doesn't appear to have the recipe on her site, many of the other Daring Bakers have posted it.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Easy Eggplant Caponata

I don't know about y'all, but I am really ready for spring and some warm weather. Luckily for myself, I'm headed home to Florida this afternoon for a weekend of fun in the sun. This post is going to be short since I still have tons of packing to do...

This recipe for Eggplant Caponata comes from the newest issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. So far I've really enjoyed most of the recipes that I try from it, and they're usually fresh, fast, and easy. I was really intrigued by the ingredient list in this one, and I think it would have been a 5-star winner if not for the overly vinegary taste. (Maybe that's how caponata's supposed to taste? But I found it to be way too much.) My word of advice to you: cut down the vinegar to a half cup at the most.

As you can see, I had my caponata over rigatoni with a little fresh-grated parmesan. Some of Martha's other serving suggestions: use as a topping for crostini; layer on toasted country bread, top with mozzarella, and broil until melted; or spoon over broiled flounder or other white fish.

Eggplant Caponata
makes 5 cups
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/4 c. golden raisins
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 large eggplants (2-1/4 lbs. total), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2/3 c. white wine vinegar (I recommend 1/2 c. or less--BH)
  • coarse salt
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium high. Add onions, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, cocoa powder, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook, stirring, until tomato paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar, and 2/3 cup water. Cover, and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is tender and mixture is thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and more sugar, as desired. Serve caponata warm or at room temperature.

To freeze: Cool completely, then transfer to resealable freezer bags, filling only halfway. Freeze bags flat, and store in the freezer, up to 2 months.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ramen Made Classy

Can you remember the good old days as a student when you ate ramen noodles for nearly every meal, enjoying their deliciousness while also delighting in the fact that you could buy a package for as little as 10 cents? If you're young (or my boyfriend), those days may still be upon you.

When Joe came to visit me this past weekend, we were trying to come up with something quick and easy to make for dinner, since we'd spent all afternoon working on this month's Daring Bakers project (coming to a blog near you on March 30). Then I remembered this ramen dish that my mom always used to make when I lived at home. (And I know Joe loves ramen because, like I said, he eats it almost every single day.) This recipe takes no longer than 5-10 minutes to make, and it's a good way to get protein and veggies even while indulging in what many consider to be a very lowbrow junk food. It's also fantastic because you can throw in whatever you want, as long as you give it a generous squeeze of lime juice at the end. The recipe I'm including below is just a starting point -- feel free to make this dish your own.

Big Eth's Special Ramen
Multiply these ingredients by the number of people you intend to serve (e.g., serving 4 people -- start with 4 packs of ramen noodles).
  • 1 package of ramen noodles, any flavor
  • 1 thin-cut pork chop, cooked
  • 1/2 pound of shrimp, cooked
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 carrot, sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • optional: mushrooms (yuck), other kinds of meat...
Break the dry ramen noodles into smaller, bite size pieces and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle the ramen seasoning on top. Boil some water while you're prepping the veggies and meat. When the water boils, sprinkle it slowly over the dry noodles until they are moistened but still crunchy. Add more water if you want them softer. Toss the semi-cooked noodles with the meat and veggies. Lastly, squeeze the limes over the mixture and toss again. Serve with extra lime wedges.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Just Make Yourself a Dang Quesa-Dilluh!

Because I am a giant nerd, every time I make myself a quesadilla I think of that gloriously nerdy movie, Napoleon Dynamite. Despite the fact that Napoleon and his grandma seem to think quesadillas are a boring fallback meal (not to mention a difficult to pronounce word), I tend to disagree. You can put all kinds of yummy things into a tortilla. Just look at this Potato, Greens, and Goat Cheese Quesadilla from the March issue of Bon Appetit. It's vegetarian and healthy but also has lots of delicious cheese, including goat cheese, which gives it a nice earthy flavor. Easy and fast, but still a hell of a lot better tasting than whatever it is Napoleon feeds that llama his grandma keeps in the backyard.

Potato, Greens, and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
makes 4
  • 1-1/3 c. half-inch cubes peeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1-1/3 c. packed coarsely grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/3 c. jarred salsa verde
  • 4-2/3 c. coarsely chopped stemmed mustard greens, divided
  • 4 eight-inch flour tortillas
  • 3 oz. chilled fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • olive oil
Steam potatoes until tender, about 8 minutes. place in large bowl; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Toss to coat. Cool potatoes 15 minutes. Mix in Jack cheese. Meanwhile, blend salsa and 2/3 cup greens in mini processor until greens are finely chopped. Arrange tortillas on a work surface. Divide remaining greens between each. Top greens with potato mixture, then goat cheese and 2 tablespoons salsa mixture for each. Fold tortillas in half over filling, pressing to compact. Brush both sides with oil. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas in skillet. Cook until quesadillas are brown, about 3 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla into 3 or 4 wedges and serve with remaining salsa.

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