Crispy Coconut Curried Devils

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Today is about food. I know it’s been awhile. Moving forward the blog should mirror real life. Lately, real life is less about obvious grief and more about cooking, baking, photography, gardening and that little jelly bean better known as my grand-daughter. Make no mistake. My son is my first thought when I open my eyes in the morning, the last when I close them at night and many moments in between. I celebrate William in all that I do. Like grief, his inspiration is never ending. Enough said. Let’s move on. More food and less grief. I NEED it to be this way.

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Do you like deviled eggs? How about Crispy Coconut Curried Deviled eggs? I created this recipe for a contest sponsored by Eggland’s Best. As many of you know (because you have been voting for my entries non-stop) the contest theme is “foodtography” and I was lucky enough to have 3 of my food photos accepted. One, my smoothie bowl cake, made it to the final 4 (woot woot). While voting for the deviled eggs many of you asked for the recipe. Today, I am happy to be able to share it with you.

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Crispy Coconut Curried Devils

6 Eggland’s Best Eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and peeled

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon sweet Asian chili sauce

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus additional for garnish

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil for deep frying

1-cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs

½ cup flaked unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 Eggland’s Best Egg, lightly beaten with 1-teaspoon water

1 scallion, finely chopped

Slice hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Press yolks through a strainer into a bowl. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice, chili sauce and curry powder; blend well. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste; set aside. Heat 3-inches of vegetable oil to 350°F. In another bowl, mix panko and coconut. Dredge each egg white half in flour. Dip in egg wash to coat and then dredge in panko-coconut mixture. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Pipe or spoon yolk mixture into hollows of egg whites. Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley and scallions.

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When Worlds Collide Make Dulche de Leche Coconut Cake

dulce de leche coconut cake

dulce de leche coconut cake

Never under estimate the power of being a good friend. When one is grieving having a sympathetic friend whether near or far is priceless. Having a friend that reaches out from time to time reminds those in mourning that they are never alone. An occasional call or visit to a friend who is grieving gives strength and hope for a better tomorrow.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by some great friends. Not only my friends, but William’s friends. Whit, for example, is one of William’s very best friends in the whole wide world. Whit and Will met in high school and were captains of the Taft lacrosse team. They had fun and they had plans. I can’t imagine how Whit felt when he got the news of Will’s accident. How it is to lose a best friend?

Whit & Will: Taft Formal

Whit & Will: Taft Formal

Lynn is one of my best friends and William’s godmother. We’ve known each other for nearly 35 years. My kids grew up in the same house Lynn grew up in (’cause we bought the house after her parents retired and moved). When one day I was digging in the garden I discovered an old silver US Navy ring-we’re talking WWll. Turns out that Lynn’s dad was in the Navy. She gifted that buried treasure to William. In fact, William always felt like he hit the jackpot with Lynn for a godmother because she always gave him the coolest gifts. How does it feel to lose a much loved godchild?

bff's

bff’s

Whit’s and Lynn’s worlds collided at Will’s funeral. I don’t get to see either one of them very often, but I think of them every day and hold them in my heart along with so many other friends. Too caught up in my own grief I probably have never told them how sorry I am that they lost someone so near and dear to THEIR hearts. A best friend. A godchild. I am so sorry. So sorry to everyone who ever loved him, too.

Whit and Lynn often send me stuff–good stuff! The kind of stuff that inspires me to cook and bake… So when Whit sent me some dulche de leche from his travels and Lynn sent me some Wadmalaw Island Firefly Distillery Southern Accents Coconut Cake Liqueur their two worlds collided again and out came something as sweet as they are: “A Little Dulche de Leche Coconut Cake”.

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A Little Dulce de Leche Coconut Cake

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1-tablespoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs

¼ cup Southern Accents Coconut Cake Liqueur

1-teaspoon coconut extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup buttermilk

Topping

2 tablespoons dulche de leche

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons Southern Accents Coconut Cake Liqueur

toasted coconut (as much or as little as you like)

Heat oven 325F. Spray a coffee cake pan or (6 cup) loaf pan with no-stick baking spray. In bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda; set aside. In a large measuring cup, whisk eggs, liqueur and extracts until blended; set aside. In large mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add both sugars and beat on high until light and fluffy—a good 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour egg mixture in and continue beating until incorporated—mixture will look curdled. Add flour mixture, 1/3rd at a time, alternating with buttermilk just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack. Meanwhile, in small saucepan over medium heat, stir dulche de leche, heavy cream and coconut liqueur; bring to a low boil. Simmer mixture until it reduces down to ¼ cup. While cake is still warm spread glaze over top and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Benches & Blueberries

Will's Bench at Lake Elise Middlebury, CT

Will’s Bench at Lake Elise
Middlebury, CT

What do benches and blueberries have to do with each other? Well, it has to do with some of my fondest memories of my family and friends back in Connecticut. On one warm day in July, my friend, Carol, organized a venture out to a local farm to pick blueberries. On this particular day, as we headed in to get our filled buckets weighed, the screaming came out of nowhere. Without warning all my friends were suddenly standing behind me. Completely bewildered by their scared behavior, I said, “WHAT?” As they were hugging my back and pushing me forward, they pointed to a garden snake crossing our path. Well, I nearly peed my pants (sorry) responding, “What am I? Your secret service agent waiting to take the bullet?” In reality, I was quite flattered that they looked at me as the strong and brave protector. It certainly was how most saw my son, William.

Soon after the news of William’s death Carol went into organization mode again and this is where benches come in. She mobilized an entire community to join in to celebrate William with a memorial bench placed at his favorite fishing spot along the shores of Lake Elise. It is a protected place where one can enjoy the beauty of the lake and remember the boy who often went out of his way to make one feel loved, respected and protected. I love visiting this place with family and friends. After a bit of tearful silence we usually, without warning, turn to laughter, recalling the mischievous boy who made us so proud to be a part of his life. Lake Elise is worth the trip. Drop me a line if you ever take a seat on Will’s Bench. To those who have lost don’t hesitate to build a memorial celebrating your loved one. It is a good thing.

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So, if blueberries and benches have something in common why not blueberries and coconut. Luckily, winter fresh and frozen blueberries are readily available this time of year. Paired with coconut the blueberries make for a most memorable and comforting bread pudding. Kind of like a warm hug from an old friend.

Blueberry Coconut Bread Pudding

Blueberry Coconut Bread Pudding

Blueberry Coconut Bread Pudding

1 (8 to 10 oz) loaf challah bread, sliced into 1-inch cubes

1 ½ cups winter fresh or frozen blueberries, divided

1 (15 oz) can sweetened cream of coconut

1 1/3 cups milk

¼ cup sugar

1- teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon coconut extract

4 eggs

½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

Garnish: powdered sugar, mint sprigs

Spread 2/3 of the bread cubes over the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of blueberries over the bread. Top with remaining bread. In small saucepan, over medium-low heat, stir cream of coconut, milk, sugar, vanilla and coconut extract just until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. The mixture will be warm, but not hot. In large bowl, lightly whisk eggs; add warm milk mixture and blend well. Pour milk mixture over bread in baking pan. Using the back of a spoon gently push bread down into milk mixture. Sprinkle top with remaining blueberries and coconut. Bake 50 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve warm Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.