While I was in Kaua’i, I rediscovered the joys of coconut. I now have pretty much replaced dairy in my diet for coconut milk and coconut cream, which gives me a bit of a hit on my sustainability cred, but it is really nice for my body and for my friends who are vegan, allergic to dairy or otherwise omnivorously impaired.
I now store coconut milk, coconut cream, and coconut water in three separate Mason jars in my refrigerator door. The quart-sized glass milk jugs I used to buy milk in would also work, as long as they hold more than 13.5 oz, the standard can-of-coconut size. These recipes are a continuation of my love for tropical foods that I rediscovered while in Kaua’i.
Grilled Pineapple and Ginger Coconut Bliss
Preparation time: 20 minutes. Serves 4–6, depending on the size of the pineapple
Grilled pineapple is both a delight and a bit of a dessert. Add some Coconut Bliss ice cream and you’ll be surprised that your vegan friends can enjoy this with you as well.
1 pineapple ([In the voice of The Count from Sesame Street] Ah ah ah!)
1 pint Coconut Bliss Naked Coconut ice cream (link: http://coconutbliss.com/coconut-bliss-products/naked-coconut )
2 oz. crystallized ginger
Optional: Capt. Morgan’s Private Reserve rum or other dark rum
Cut your pineapple into rings (a link for the fancy one-use tool-loving folks, or for those of us with knives). Heat a barbecue to medium (400F) and put the rings on the barbecue. The pineapple gets caramelized after about 3–4 minutes on the grill.
In four small bowls, drop a ring or two into the bottom of the bowl. Scoop 1–2 Tbsp of the ice cream on top. If you’re a drunk (like me) add a jigger or two of rum.
Preparation time: 5 minutes. Serves 2
If you’re fancy, I can recommend getting a young coconut and a machete. Crack that bitch open on the top and then hit it again at an angle to try to nick out a little piece. Pour out the coconut water into a bowl and then scrape out the young coconut meat with a spoon. In an executioner-style motion, finish off your coconut and bust it into two halves. Now you have the greatest cocktail glass known to humankind.
The rest of us will buy canned Thai coconut water from an Asian market.
1 can coconut water (with meat), chilled
3 jiggers Capt. Morgan’s Private Reserve rum (make sure you get the private reserve!)
3 jiggers light rum
slices of pineapple, nicked to sit on the rim of your glass
juice of 1 lime
4 jiggers pineapple juice
Cocktail umbrellas, optional
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rum and pineapple juice and shake it like a Polaroid picture (sorry, I was listening to Outkast when I did this).
Pour half of it, ice and all, into two glasses (fancy: two halves of your coconut). Top off with the coconut water and coconut meat and add pineapple to the side of your glass (fancy: You should have thought this through. No pineapple for you!). Top with a cocktail umbrella and then make three more because they’re awesome!
Coconut-cream Iced Coffee
Preparation time: 10 minutes, serves 1
This beats the pants off of Starbucks dairy-and-sugar-filled sweet iced-coffee concoctions. As a bonus, it is vegan because we don’t use white sugar. This is a great midsummer’s day non-alcoholic cocktail.
8 oz. French-pressed dark-roast coffee
2 Tbsp coconut cream
1 pinch cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar (or less if you don’t like sweet)
We use the leftovers from a full French press to get this rolling. My wife brews her morning coffee and saves and aggregates the leftovers in a Mason jar in the refrigerator. We pop open a can of coconut cream and put it in a pint-sized Mason jar to avoid The Botulism™. When we’re ready for this treat, we get a 32 oz. Mason jar (yes, we love Mason jars), fill it with ice, pour in the sugar and 8 oz. of coffee per drink. We add the coconut cream (2 Tbsp per serving), a pinch of cinnamon, put the lid on and shake it like a cocktail. Pour it into a separate glass if you like and add more ice as needed.
Tropical Shake or Congee Topping
Preparation time: 10–15 minutes, serves 2-4
After buying fresh tropical fruit from a farmer’s market, I was excited to have breakfast in the tropics. The first day I made this, I simply drank it. But the second day, my friend had a wonderful idea of topping rice with it to make a tropical rice gruel that was gorgeous and filling. The coconut milk in this made an almost buttery topping to the rice.
1 cored and cut pineapple (cut into wedges for easy blending)
1 papaya, skinned and seeded
1 mango, skinned and seeded
13.5 oz can of coconut milk
Optional: 1 cup of prepared white rice, hot (short grain is best)
Cut the pineapple into wedges and place in a bowl. Slice the papaya in half and scoop out the black, roe-looking seeds with a spoon. Scoop out the flesh from the peel and toss it in a blender. Halve the mango, avoiding the pit if possible. Do your best to scrape the flesh out from the peel and from the pit. Add the mango to the blender.
Add a dozen or so cubes of ice into the blender and use the ice-breaker/pulse functionality of the blender to try to get the ice cracked and some of the fruit mashed up. Add the coconut milk and about 1/3 of the pineapple wedges. Pulse again a few times until things are liquefied better. Add the rest of the pineapple and blend on high until you have a rich, wonderful slurry. Either pour that into a glass, with or without ice, or pour3–6 oz. of it over a bowl of hot rice.