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Thursday
Apr242014

Coconut Tapioca Pudding

Coconut Tapioca Pudding

I admire the resilience of the coconut—the tough outer shell, the softer interior. It may not be a traditionally beautiful fruit, as it hides itself between layers of thick husk, but the brilliant white meat is worth the trouble. Coconut used to be a passing fancy for me, an afterthought more than a headlining ingredient. I would toss a few flakes in granola or a quick banana bread, but I never gave it much attention, or appreciated it for what it was.

All of this changed when I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant, and I could not be more grateful for the coconut and its countless uses.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding Coconut Tapioca Pudding Coconut Tapioca Pudding

When I was in Hawaii a couple years ago, I insisted on pulling the rental car to the side of the road to stop at a small fruit stand. One coconut, please, I requested.

Young or old?

There's a difference?

Since it was a quiet afternoon, the stand owner took some time to give me a little lesson in coconuts. After chopping through two with a hatchet, he allowed me to sip the water from each. Young coconut water was fizzy and refreshing. Old coconut water had a thick musky scent and flavor—not bad, but not terribly pleasant either. Then, it was time to taste the meat. For the young coconut, he handed me a plastic spoon. The young coconut flesh was so tender, so soft, it had the consistency of custard. The old coconut had the hard white flesh I was already familiar with. When the lesson was through, he packaged them up and sent me on my way.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding

This coconut tapioca pudding combines coconut in three different forms. Rich coconut milk forms the base of the pudding. Whipped coconut cream, dolloped on top, provides a creamy thickness that is wonderful to eat between bites or to stir straight into the pudding. Lastly, a few flakes of toasted coconut are sprinkled on top, for flavor and for a pop of color.

A trifecta of coconut, in pudding form.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding

Coconut Tapioca Pudding is perfect for the unpredictable weather of spring. The pudding can be served warm or cold to suit the scene outside the window. Coconut is the clear star of the dish, adding flavor in texture in three separate forms. This is a simple dish best served for afternoon pick-me-ups or lazy evening treats.

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Sunday
Apr132014

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

The sun is peeking over the horizon when my alarm buzzes in the morning, my bedroom a hazy gray. The dim light makes it feel like a new day instead of a tired continuum of night. This has made all the difference, it seems, in mood and spirit. The long winter is over, the sun is warm once more, and it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I am beginning to feel human again. It is the most glorious feeling.

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

I've been having a hard time finding my voice these last few months. I can hold words in my mind as well as water cupped between my hands. Eventually the water slips through my fingers, as do any thoughts I may have wished to share. For the first time in years, the recipes have slowed. I want to write when I have something to say, not to just fill this space with empty thoughts.

I am certain the recipes will come more often in the future, but for now I need more time to myself: to think, to breathe, to find the words to say. Thank you for being patient and supportive—it means so much.

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

A few times a year, I make a large batch of granola to last me through a busy week. When creating this granola, I sifted through the cupboards to gather together a few ingredients, missing so many of the common ingredients such as dried fruits or chocolate chips. In the end, it didn't matter. Whole grains, nuts, and a natural sweetener brought this granola together, making it something quite unique.

This may be both the healthiest and most enjoyable granola I have ever made. I hope you feel the same.

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola is a whole grain breakfast both filling and wholesome (and gluten-free). The quinoa provides a lovely crunch, with honey for sweetness, and toasted almonds for nuttiness. Over the course of a week, I enjoyed this granola drowned in milk, sprinkled over yogurt, and eaten by the handful for a midnight snack. Healthy and delightful, this is a breakfast you can feel good about.

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Tuesday
Apr012014

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

It rained today, a slow drizzle from the sky bringing as much gloom as a single afternoon could muster. Never, I dare say, has such a day felt more needed. This feeling spread like a contagion through the high school, my students infected with the Friday afternoon jitters though it was only Monday. It was a sign that winter was going to end, that the months spent hiding indoors were worth the wait, a sign that we could begin to breathe again.

I feel as if I've been holding my breath too long.

Coconut Macaroons Coconut Macaroons

I am afraid winter managed to get the best of me this year. It was a longer and colder winter than I can remember from years past, weakening my spirit in subtle, but significant ways. The sun didn't bring warmth to my skin; the wind cut through my winter coat. With a heavy workload and small town isolation, I often slipped into a melancholy mood, feeling as if the light behind my eyes had dimmed.

Standing in the crowded school hallway, the bell ringing to signal the changing of classes, it smelled like rain and dirt and people. I breathed in deeply, filling my lungs. I never thought that this smell was one I could miss. I never imagined that this scent, damp and dank, would be the sign of spring I was so desperate for.

I paused to take another breath before heading back to class.

Coconut Macaroons

The best coconut macaroon I've had was at a small bakery tucked away in a large market. It didn't look like much, so small as it was, but the texture—dense and endlessly chewy—was worth noting. I've thought of those macaroons often since then, whipping up a batch here or there in my own kitchen. The cookies were neither dense nor chewy enough to satisfy my tastes. Though each cookie was eaten, but I could not help but compare them with each bite.

After fiddling around with this recipe, I uncovered a version that comes quite close to the coveted texture of that small bakery. I am satisfied.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons are a simple, five ingredient cookie, that celebrates coconut. With maple syrup to sweeten and vanilla to complement, these cookies become quite addictive (especially if you have a cup of tea in hand). If you prefer a lighter macaroon, simply decrease the baking time, but I enjoy them best when dark and golden (which the recipe reflects below).

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