Friday, August 9, 2013

Coconut milk and confessions

I can't tell you how I came to love coconut milk; I can only tell you how much I love it in everything I can possibly cook with it.  Coconut panna cotta with lime curd was my most recent incarnation when I found this fabulous recipe from Food52.  I subbed butter for the oil in the lime curd portion of the recipe because I wanted a depth and softness that oil wouldn't bring. 

I have a confession: the results stunned me, and I'm not easily stunned.  The combination of creamy coconut and tangy lime curd is a lively counterpoint of flavors.  And yes, it really does look like Jell-O 1-2-3.  Accompanied by a flute of good-quality prosecco, this panna cotta is a charmer.

Another confession: being a semi-hoarder, I always have at least 6 cans of coconut milk in my pantry.  I have no brand loyalty, I just buy it whenever I get the urge.  I'm especially susceptible to large displays of coconut milk in Asian grocery stores.  And I suppose that makes confession number 3. 

One of the brands I often buy.  Photo credit: Google Images

Why do I love coconut milk so much?  It's silky, creamy and enriches everything it touches.  Its flavor profile swings both ways.  No, you degenerates, not in a Masters and Johnson way, in a sweet-savory way.  Coconut milk is wonderful in soups, curries, sauces, baked goods, desserts, ice cream, drinks, smoothies and all manner of things.  It's a great substitute for dairy ingredients like milk and cream, and its slightly nutty, mild flavor and rich texture give body and substance to finished dishes.  It's a staple among those who prefer vegan and Paleo eating plans and a long-time staple among Asian cultures.

The benefits of using coconut milk are several; find them here; and find more than you probably need to know about your new crush here.  Although there are some drawbacks to consuming large quantities of canned coconut milk (or canned anything), I reached the conclusion long ago that there are drawbacks to eating and drinking just about everything anymore and that a person could drive themselves insane thinking about it too much.  Trust me, I've been there and back.  I've also concluded that there are just as many drawbacks to breathing.  Yet another confession: I secretly really like breathing, as well as the eating and drinking that comes along with it. 

If memory serves, there was an episode of The Galloping Gourmet years ago I watched in which Graham Kerr said something like this: "Everyone dies of something.  I want to die of lemon-butter sauce."  Likewise, I want to die of coconut milk.

Want some more ideas for how foodies like to use coconut milk?  I asked my fellow food bloggers to send me some of their favorite recipes and since they're a lively, gregarious and cooperative group, they immediately complied. 

Here's the list, sweet and savory:

From Allison Stevens of Prep DishRaspberry-Pineapple Popsicles

From Jane Ko of A Taste of KoKoVanilla Coconut Panna Cotta

From Jessica Alberthal of Bake Me AwaySpicy Purple and Sweet Potato Gratin with Coconut Milk

From Emily Teachout of A Time to KaleCoconut Milk + Quinoa = Winner

From Maggie Perkins of From Maggie's FarmLemon-Scented Coconut Milk Panna Cotta

May your tastebuds dance!

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