Mandarin orange coconut cake

For obscure reasons I was not able to find out, in Switzerland tradition include giving bags of mandarin oranges, peanuts and a few chocolates. The kind of thing you might get at office or from a distant relative…. I was looking for a Christmassy dish, when I saw this on Cinco Quartos de Laranja who had seen it on All Recipes and then tweaked it a bit. By a happy coincidence, I actually had  way too many mandarin oranges on the fruit bowl, a tiny bit of coconut in my cupboard and just enough time to bake it. And, voila!, a Christmassy and at the same time fresh and casual dish. Actually, it is also delicious and light, with different flavors and textures in each bite. An excellent way of fooling kiddies into eating their daily dose of citrus.

Mandarin orange coconut cake

Ingredients

  • 200g  flour and 1 spoon of baking powder, sifted
  • 175g  sugar
  • 170g  unsalted butter
  • 150mL of mandarin orange juice
  • The zest of 3-4 mandarin oranges
  • 30g dry powdered coconut

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat a baking tray with baking spray (or butter and flour)

in a large bowl, beat the butter and the sugar until light and pale yellow.

Add the egg one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.

Fold in the flour and mix well. Once it is well mixed, add the coconut, the mandarin orange juice and zest. Mix until the mixture is uniform.

Put the cake tin in the preheated oven. Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (about 30min)


Coconut and zucchini bread

I saw it on Canela Moída, whom had seen it on The Novice Housewife, whom had seen it on Thru The Bugs On My Windshield, whom had seen it on Meet the Swans whom had seen it on Cooking Light Comfort Food Cookbook.  Somewhere along the way, the bananas in the original recipe were replaced by an equivalent amount of zucchini (= courgette=calabacin). The combination of flavors sounds a bit iffy – Zucchini? in a cake?? with coconut???  But, have not prejudices: the result is scrumptious. Not only it passed the 11-year old test, but also the 8-month eat it all with gusto and impatience. If he only knew those green dots belongs the same family than the green soups he spits all over himself…

Some bloggers made a Coconut Rum Lime glaze to put on top of it. I am not a big fan of sugary things and excessive ornamentation of cakes, and skipped it. Keeping on sugar matters, this cake is not at all sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to add more sugar than the quantity I used. Or replace the zucchini by an equivalent amount of bananas.

Coconut Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (about 60g)
  • 1 cup sugar (about 200g. You might want to increase the amount, if you like yours more sweet)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups ripe zucchini, grated (about 1 medium size 2 zucchinis,  app 120g)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used a whole small pack, with about 180g, minus 1 table spoon))
  • 1 teaspoon rum (I used Malibu – maybe a little more than a 1 teaspoon)
  • The seeds of a vanilla pod (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  • 2/3 cup grated coconut (about 100g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour (about 250g)

Methods

Pre heat the oven to 180 oC . Grease a loaf pan with butter and powder it with flour.

Cream butter and sugar until the mixture is white and fluffy.  Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well.

Add the zucchini, the yogurt, the vanilla seeds and the rum. Beat until well blended.

Fold in the coconut and all the dry ingredients,  and mix until just blended (do not over stir).

Spoon the  batter into the loaf pan previously buttered.

Bake for about an hour, or until toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the bread.

Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to serving plate.

Coconut Rum Lime Glaze

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • The seeds of a vanilla pod (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  • 1 teaspoon of  rum or rum extract
  • 3 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Milk as required to get the glaze to the right consistency (you can use coconut milk, in case you have that in hand)
  • Roasted coconut to taste

Method

Mix all ingredients except the milk in a medium bowl. Add milk until it becomes a thick but smooth glaze. Set aside.

Toast coconut under the broiler until just browned. Set aside.

Drizzle glaze over bread. Top with toasted coconut and lime zest.


Russian egg and mushroom salad with mustard vinaigrette

I saw it on Orangette, who warned in no equivocal terms: this is not a beautiful egg salad. She was right. Indeed, this is not a good-looking salad. In fact, it is as ugly as dark stormy night. But, the flavors! Oh, the flavors!  It is just something that you cook, and have to it eat. And eat it again. And again. And again…  I now do it in relatively large batches, and try to make it last through the week by carefully rationing the portions. The flavors deepen over time, and can be eaten warm or cold. In the original recipe, the salad is served over toasted bread.

As I still cannot see mayonnaise in front of me without feeling nauseous, I replaced it with home-made mustard vinaigrette. I used the recipe of  The Reluctant Gourmet. Actually, his post on home-made vinaigrette is worthwhile reading if you have a vinaigrette fetich – it is one of the most comprehensive and detailed explanations I have seen. Not that I have seen many, but after reading his, I don’t feel the need to look at something else.

Russian egg and mushroom salad with mustard vinaigrette 

Ingredients

Salad 

  • 5 tablespoons of canola oil (I replaced it with olive oil, as usual)
  • 500g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped fresh dill (about 1/3 of a cup)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Mustard Vinaigrette 

  • 1 glove of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I also use old style mustard with all its grains)
  • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of dried parsley
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Methods

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the mushrooms. (If they don’t all fit in the pan at once, let the first panful wilt down a bit, and then add the rest. It’ll work out fine.) Cook, stirring often, until lighly browned, 14-16 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Wipe out the frying pan.

Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan over medium-high heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften; then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until lightly caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the dill and eggs, and stir to mix.

For the vinaigrette, in a clean jar or small bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, mustard and mix well. Slowly add the olive oil while either whisking or stirring rapidly with your fork (I use a small stirrer, and add 1 spoon of olive oil at a time).  Add the parsley and thyme, salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

If you really must use mayonnaise, the in a small bowl, whisk together a 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, with 2 tablespoons of mustard, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

Pile the salad on lightly toasted bread – preferably sourdough rye, if you’ve got some – and serve open-faced.