Some people think coconut needs to stay in pies and macaroons.
Me. That’s who.
I really am not my kama’aina daughter…just a plain ha’ole who likes occasional tropical delights, but not South Sea Island-tasting food as my only choice!
So, my limited start-off pantry consists of Coconut Flour, Coconut Oil, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Water. There’s Almond Meal in the fridge, and a small bit of Arrowroot flour tucked in a drawer in a baggie. I do have raw honey and some real maple syrup.
I like soup. (Thank goodness I don’t have to saute soup components in coconut oil, though I did try it. Not for me, I decided. Pure Olive Oil is what to use, or bacon fat.) Soup, or “stewp” is a great start, since a lot of these protein-rich meats and also the soupish greens have been in my diet for a long time. What I have done is toss out the beans and pasta and potatoes and barley. Easy.
My housemate likes a bit of dessert. Well, I like ice cream, but now dairy has so many recommended specs that I can’t find it in my store, and I am just abstaining because I cannot eat ice cream without eating way too much. But I like to have a bit of nummy stuff around to quell that lonely feeling I get at about ten pm when I used to go get my too-much-ice-cream “snack.” And my housemate thinks I am absolutely wonderful when I make something cake-like to share. Orange cake is okay made with coconut flour. But ALL cakes? It’s pretty powerful stuff, and I say no, not for all cakes.
The best person to complain to about this is my daughter who is the one who got me “converted” to this new lifestyle. She has a big household full of avid eaters who are eating Paleo style with her out of choice, not conversion. She is such a talented cook no one who lives in her house wants to ever eat elsewhere, including her husband who hurrys home for “real food”, and a niece whose specialty is being a chef at a “normal” nice restaurant. (you know, baked potatoes and pasta and chips and fries and pies and fresh bread? Remember?)
The niece comes home for meals even though she could eat anything she wants at that restaurant for free!
So I ask my daughter how to avoid coconut these days. And she serves me a nibble of chocolate cake while answering my questions. I am in love with this chocolate cake. Know what’s in it? Coconut flour!
Anyway, even though that cake gets away with it, some things just don’t and so she is now making me aware of various kinds of flour-like substances that can stand in for coconut flour. I think I am trending toward custard or pudding cake rather than the more traditional crumbly kind. But I have added that chocolate wonder to my list, and my housemate is WILD about chocolate, so she will be elated.
My shopping list is growing with various foreign-name types of agents whenever I have questions like this, and I am becoming a quasi-scientist with the info she passes along about which thickeners are okay for hot cooking, and which are better for cool cooking. Information about oils and dipping sauces that can stand in for more familiar ones. There’s a great sub for regular soy sauce, which is of course based on a starchy legume (soybeans) and is off the OK list. Thank goodness there are Asian foodstores near here where one can get fermented sauces which take away most of the ill effects of the starch and can be used without worry.
THICKENING SAUCES THE OLD FASHIONED GOURMET WAY:
There is that better-than-anything way to thicken a sauce or gravy–reduction! It’s a chef thing from the old days of ordinary cooking.
When I added some bone broth (oh boy, that recipe a few posts back made such elegant stuff!) to some slices of roast beef in the pan recently all I needed to do was let it simmer down a bit and it WAS GRAVY. The bone broth is already gelatinous, and just evaporating the water did the trick without adding any starch whatever!
What an elegant fast dinner! You get the slices from the freezer, and let them thaw. You also get a frozen baggie of your bone broth (first or second run) out of the freezer and stick it in the microwave for a minute or so to start it thawing. You put some pure olive oil in the heating pan, along with a blop of butter (at least I do), and get it just hot enough to brown fresh garlic and chopped onions and to wake up the dry herbs you love. Then you pour in a quarter cup of pinot grigio to scrape the bits up with. Then in goes the bone broth. You get it simmering and slip in the beef slices. You let it slowly become a gourmet meal! When the broth has become a sauce, you are ready to dine. Add a nice veggie salad and you’re a happy camper.
How easy is that? Be sure to make seconds. You’ll want them.