cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes

cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table

Easter and Christmas were the two big family meals that I looked forward to every year. The food, it was all about the food. A large oval dining table filled with way too many dishes for one person to cook (the tasks were wisely divided between my aunts and mom by my grandma, I think this is also one of the wisest ways to use your children, as soon as they come of age make them help you in the kitchen. I eagerly await the day, I have mine and they come of age to help me clean peas from their pods).

This Easter, I decided to take my favorite Goan cake, yup y'all know how much I love this Ba'ath cake because I've done different versions of it...this time it's a cornmeal cake that's got the sweet and delicate flavor of rosewater with coconut. I made little individual cakes in my mini-cocottes but you can even make them cakes in a lined muffin pan just like you would cupcakes. Just make a note that the number of cakes will change depending on how big/small the muffin pans are.

Instead of using milk, I've used Califia Farm's unsweetened creamer. The results are pretty amazing, I find that it adds to the flavor of the cake, the coconut flavor pops out. The cornmeal gives this cake a granular yet soft texture, there's the sweetness of the corn mixed in with the coconut flakes and rosewater. I mean honestly, this couldn't get any better and even if you don't celebrate Easter, you should still make this cake to welcome spring!

cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table
cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table
cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing the cakes;

  • I'm using coconut oil instead of butter in this cake batter. I amplifies the fragrance of the coconut in the cake but coconut oil's shelf life decreases after baking so I wrap and refrigerate the individual cakes in clingfilm for up to 4 days. You can warm these cakes up at 30 seconds on low power in the microwave if you prefer them warm.
  • I use cast iron mini-cocottes but as I mention above, muffin pans will work too, just remember the number of cakes will change depending on the size of the muffin pan. 
  • Don't use rosewater that's too old, it loses it's intensity and always store it tight in the refrigerator once you open it. 
cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table

cornmeal and coconut rosewater cakes

yields: 6 individual cakes

ingredients

150gm coconut oil + a little extra for greasing the cake pan

1 cup califia creamer unsweetened almond milk

1 cup(81g) cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I used desiccated)

2 cups(282gm) cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1cup (200g) superfine sugar

3 large eggs, cold

1/4 cup coconut cream

1 tablespoon rose water

1. Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 6 mini-cocottes with a little coconut oil and keep aside. Place the creamer in small thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat until warm for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from stove and add the coconut, stir with a silicone spatula and allow to steep for 20 minutes. 

2. In a medium size mixing bowl, dry whisk the cornmeal, salt and baking powder. Keep aside.

3. Attach the whisk to the stand mixer and in the bowl of a standmixer whisk the sugar and eggs for about 4 to 5 minutes until pale yellow on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add the coconut oil, cream and rose water and mix for about 1 minute until combined. Remove the whisk and replace with the paddle attachment.  Combine the ingredients on medium-low speed until completely combined. Divide the batter equally between the 6 greased mini-cocottes and place them on lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, turning them halfway through. The cakes will be lightly golden brown in color when done and firm to touch, a skewer should come out clean when inserted through the center of the cake. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 60 minutes before serving. Serve the cakes lukewarm in the min-cocottes or un-mold the cooled cakes using a blunt knife by running it between the edges of the cake and the mini-cocottes. The cakes can also be served cool at room temperature.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. However, all opinions expressed are solely my own.

weeknight mince

weeknight mince| A Brown Table

There are two things I took away from the Super Bowl, both Beyoncé and Lady Gaga will always be amazing performers, other than that I didn't pay attention to much. Football is more of M's ritual and in some way a religious sports retreat that involves a lot of appetizer types of food. I cooked him his treats as promised and he ate them as expected. I think he saved some of the wings and guacamole for his lunches during the week. 

Just as much as M loves his sports meals, I have my fondness for simple comfort food recipes and recipes with options to cheat and take little time to cook. There are certain dishes that I've probably eaten at least once a week growing up. Mince is one of them and though there are different ways to make mince, this Goan version is obviously my favorite. Though I've skip the carrots and the potatoes in this version (you can obviously add them in, see my kitchen notes below), this is one of my favorite meals to go to during the week. It cooks quickly and requires minimal prep work especially if you can use precut frozen veggies (no shame here). This is one of my favorite weeknight meals! Serve it with some cooked plain rice or or dinner rolls and you're good to go. If you're familiar with kheema, then mince will sound similar, it's simply a Goan version of kheema, similar flavors yet very different.

I cooked the mince in this gorgeous pan from . All-Clad's new cookware collection by Chef Thomas Keller. As with all of All-Clad's classic cookware, this stainless steel five-ply pan is a sleek and sexy beast. There's a universal lid that's equally modern and elegant to match the pan. There's a layer of copper sandwiched between the stainless steel to ensure quick and even heat for cooking. And now the folks at All-Clad are giving away one of these gorgeous 5 quart sautéuse pans that you for you to cook with! To enter all you need to do is leave a comment below and tell me what you're favorite comfort food is. This giveaway is open to all legal residents of the United States and will run from February 9th to February 16th till 12 pm. The winner will be announced and notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond.

weeknight mince| A Brown Table
weeknight mince| A Brown Table
weeknight mince| A Brown Table
weeknight mince| A Brown Table
weeknight mince| A Brown Table
weeknight mince| A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this dish;

  • Though I use frozen peas, you can use fresh peas.
  • I don't use finely diced carrots in this recipe (as is traditionally used) but you can always add frozen or fresh  carrots. 1 cup of finely diced carrots can be added after the onions are cooked for an additional 2 minutes and then cooked as described in the recipe. 
  • I've also skipped adding fried finely diced potatoes. Again, 1 cup of shallow fried potatoes can be folded in towards the end and stirred for 2 minutes before removing the pan from the stove. 
  • I use tamarind paste versus the concentrate so use less if you decide to use the concentrate.
  • I prefer the texture of canned tomatoes to fresh in this recipe and it works well here. On some days, if I'm out of fresh tomatoes, a can of tomatoes works perfectly in this dish.

CONTEST: This contest has Ended. The winner is Justin, congratulations and happy cooking!!!

weeknight mince| A Brown Table

weeknight mince

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon grated ginger root, peeled, fresh

1 tablespoon grated garlic, fresh

1 lb ground beef/lamb

2 green thai chili pepper, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder

1 cup frozen shelled peas (or fresh)

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (I like to use canned tomatoes in this recipe)

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon tamarind paste

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

1. Heat the oil in the sautéuse on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add the onions and cook until they turn light pink and transclucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds with constant stirring. Break the ground meat into small chunks and add it to the pan. Cook with constant stirring to break the meat into crumble like pieces using a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is browned, this will take about 3 to 4 minutes. 

2. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro and mint. Stir and cover the pan with the lid. Add the salt and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes until the meat is cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from stove and garnish with the cilantro and mint leaves. 

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by All-Clad. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

dosas and uttapams

Dosas and Uttapams |A Brown Table

I love dosas and uttapams, they are one of the tastiest savory crêpes and pancakes from the Southern states of India. Since they are made from ground lentils and rice, they are also gluten-free and vegan but either way they are good! One of my closest friends from grad school is of South Indian origin, every time, I visit her family in New Orleans, dosas are the first thing I ask for because her mom makes them the best. 

Several years ago, I tried making dosas and uttapams at home, the uttapams were easy but the dosas tricky. The dosas would rip while I tried to spread the batter over the pan and since a dosa should be thin and crisp (I still need a lot more practice making them crisp), these were not ideal. I finally turned to my friend's mom and asked her for help. This version is based on her recipe which she was extremely kind to share. Before we get into more details, let me just start by saying that this is the way, I make them at home. It is highly simplified from the traditional method of letting the batter rest and allowing it to ferment for a few days.

Dosas and Uttapams |A Brown TableDosas and Uttapams |A Brown TableDosas and Uttapams |A Brown TableDosas and Uttapams |A Brown TableDosas and Uttapams |A Brown Table
  • Black gram/black lentil/urad dal in most Indian stores and you should be able to find them at any International market. There are enzymes in this lentil that help break down the structure of the starch in the rice that are critical to producing this batter and forming the characteristic dosa and uttapam shapes. I've also noticed a lot of Indian stores now selling urad dal flour which would eliminate the process of soaking and grinding the lentils. I haven't tried that yet but I do hope to soon.
  • You will notice that my batter is a little greenish because I like to leave the skin of the lentil on, traditionally you would use urad dal which has the skin removed. This is completely up to you. I like the little colored flecks in the batter. 
  • I use rice flour and this rice flour is not made from basmati rice. Any regular rice flour will work here.
  • I add yeast to cut back on the fermentation time. In the past, depending on the ambient temperature, my batter would not rise properly and would take more than one day. You need yeast to ferment the components of the batter, instead of waiting for it grow naturally in the batter and speed up the process, I add a little bit of yeast to bump up the process.
  • To make the dosas, the pan needs to be warm but not hot when you add and spread the batter. Avoid adding to much pressure when spreading the batter or it will clump easily. It takes a little bit of practice on learning how to spread the batter (the two photographs below should give you an idea of how the batter looks, the image on the left is of the dosa, notice how relatively thin and spread out it is compared to the uttapam in the image on the right). Uttapams are an easy place to start and that is where I began to learn and practice.
  • This recipe will make a large batch of dosas and uttapams, around 3-4 helpings for 8-10 people depending on how thick or thin you make them.
  • There are lots of different accompaniments to serve these guys with, my coconut cilantro coconut chutney that I shared on Food52. I haven't posted a recipe for sambar (another great lentil dish) or the traditional potato filling that is sometimes wrapped up in the dosas in this post. I will share that sometime separately in another post, I wanted this post to be all about the dosa and uttapam. 
  • To store excess unused batter, I keep it covered with a lid in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Before preparing, I let it sit out at room temperature for about 4-6 hours and stir it once or twice. Dosas and uttapams are best when made fresh and straight off the hot pan. 
  • Lastly, I've given exact volumes of water I used but you should note that you might need to add a little more or a little less to get the consistency right to that of a thicker pancake or thinner crêpe batter depending on whether you want to make uttapams or dosas. 
Dosas and Uttapams |A Brown Table
Dosas and Uttapams |A Brown Table
Dosas and Uttapams |A Brown Table

dosas and uttapams

yields: about 8-10 servings

ingredients

1 cup urad dal/black lentils (split or whole, I used whole with the skin on but you can use the ones without the skin too)

500mL water + 2.5 Liters + additional 500mL for dosas

4 cups rice flour

1 teaspoon fenugreek seed powder, freshly ground

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon yeast

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup red onion chopped

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, freshly chopped

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin, freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

vegetable oil for cooking (I also find vegetable oil sprays to be pretty useful here)

1. Clean the lentils to remove any stones that might be present. Rinse under running tap water, place in a large bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. The next day drain the water and grind the lentils with the 500mL of water to a smooth paste with a blender. There should be no clumps in the batter. Transfer to a bowl and cover and let it sit for at least 12 hours or at this point you can either refrigerate the lentil mixture and use it within 2-3 days.

2. The next day transfer the lentil mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, fenugreek powder, salt and yeast. Add the half of the 2.5 Liters of water to batter and stir to form a smooth batter. Transfer the batter to a large container or stockpot (one with deep bottom will be useful when the fermentation causes the batter to rise and prevent it from overflowing. Allow the batter to sit covered (not airtight) for at least 6 hours before using. The batter will ferment and rise. 

3. On the day of cooking, mix the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chili, cumin and salt in a medium bowl and keep aside. (This will be used to top the uttapams)

3. To prepare Uttapams: Heat a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet on medium-high. Pour and spread a teaspoon of oil on the surface of the pan. The batter will be thick resembling the consistency of a pancake batter. Pour about 1/2 cup of the batter in the center and allow it to spread by itself into an 8 inch circle. Sprinkle about two generous tablespoons of the mixed tomato-onion mixture over the top of the uttapam and then drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil. Cook until the edges get golden brown and they start to come off from the sides. Using a silicone spatula, release the uttapam from the sides, and flip to cook on the other side for about 1 - 1  1/2 minutes. Prepare the rest similarly. Serve hot.

4. To prepare Dosas: Add 500mL of water to the batter and stir. The consistency should be thinner like that of a crêpe batter. Heat a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet on medium-low. Pour and spread a teaspoon of oil on the surface of the pan. Using a ladle pour about 1/2 cup batter in the center of the oiled pan and spread the batter with a circular motion using the ladle starting from the center moving outwards to form a large thin crêpe (don't use too much pressure or it will tear the dosa as it begins to cook). Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon oil over the dosa. Cook until the dosa begins to turn golden brown and begins to leave the sides of the pan. Using a silicone spatula, release the uttapam from the sides, and flip to cook on the other side for about 3 minutes. Prepare the rest similarly. Serve hot.

caramelized onion and acorn squash soup

caramelized onion and acorn squash soup | A Brown Table

For some reason, squash seems to take the center stage during autumn in the kitchen. I should rephrase that, it becomes more visible, however, most of us, do eat all sorts of squash year round. My friend, Amanda of HeartBeet Kitchen addresses just this, in her wonderful and informative new cookbook, Smitten with Squash . Not only does she share a wonderful collection of recipes but she also discusses easier ways to prepare and cook different members of this delicious and diverse family.

caramelized onion and acorn squash soup | A Brown Table

When I received her book a few weeks ago, I was immediately drawn to the sheer amount of helpful information on the different types of squashes and maintaining them, from how to select the best kind, to best the way in preparing them to cook. 

caramelized onion and acorn squash soup | A Brown Table

Amanda has come up with a collection of unique recipes that all utilize squashes in some sort of tasty way in her book, from savory to sweet there's something to satisfy everyone tastebuds. But since the weather is cooling down, and in some places faster than others (though not as much here in Northern California), I thought it would be perfect to share this simple yet delicious warm and comforting acorn squash soup from Amanda's book. There's roasting, caramelizing, and puréeing followed by sessions of eager eating of copious amount of this vibrant and tasty soup. This acorn squash soup has mild notes of a gentle sweetness from the caramelized onions mixed in with the silky and buttery texture of the acorn squash and then there's the little topping of toasted nuts. The acorn squash recipe originally called for pecans but I ran out and ended up using salted pistachios instead, they worked perfectly!

caramelized onion and acorn squash soup |A Brown Table

Folks, Amanda is giving away a copy of her cookbook, Smitten with Squash to one lucky reader! Leave a comment below to tell me what's the most innovative dish you've made with squash and I will pick the best one! The giveaway is open to legal residents of the United States only and will end a week from now on October 22, 2014.

caramelized onion and acorn squash soup |A Brown Table

caramelized onion and acorn squash soup (from the Smitten with Squash Cookbook by Amanda Paa)

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1 lb acorn squash, halved, de-seeded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter 

2 (1 lb) medium yellow or white onions, halved and thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

2 cups low sodium vegetable (or chicken) stock 

3/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1/4 cup salted toasted pistachios (or pecans), coarsely chopped 

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F. Remove any stringy material that might be present in the squash after it is deseeded. Brush the surface of the flesh of the squash halves with the vegetable oil. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet with cut side upwards, roast in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the flesh is tender and easily pierced by a fork. Remove the pulp with a spoon and keep aside until ready to use.

2. While the squash continues to roast in the oven, heat a wide, thick-bottomed stainless steel skillet (I used a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Scatter the onion slices evenly over the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, without stirring to brown, then stir and spread the onions to "sweat" and release their moisture content. After about 10 minutes, most of the released liquid should evaporate, add the salt and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring often to ensure the onions don't burn. When the onions are a uniform brown color, they are done.

3. Pour in 1 cup of the stock and scrape the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to release any bits and flavors from the onions. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend on medium speed for about a minute. Add the rest of the broth, half of the squash flesh and puree again for one minute. Then add the buttermilk and rest of the squash, purée until silky smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Before serving garnish each bowl of warm soup with a tablespoon of the pistachios.

butternut squash and green chutney tartines

Butternut Squash and Green Chutney Tartines | A Brown Table

I like sandwiches of all sort, shapes and sizes. Tartines are no exception and I love them loaded, stacked with all sorts of stuff with contrasting flavors and colors! I'm a firm believer that every bite into a sandwich should offer different and distinct layers of complexity in taste. So, I've prepared a little fall inspired tartine to eat and share with you this weekend. 

Butternut Squash and Green Chutney Tartines | A Brown Table
Fall in Virginia | A Brown Table

All week long, we've been eating a lot of these guys! These tartines are layered with my green cilantro-mint chutney along with a few cubes of butternut squash, a generous layer of mozzarella and a single whole shiitake mushroom. It's simple yet tasty, full of fresh herbs and flavors and a colorful open-faced sandwich at that. An easy dish that can easily be made into a snack or appetizer for a party. 

Butternut Squash and Green Chutney Tartines | A Brown Table
  • I used a rustic ciabatta bread here but any type of rustic bread will work for the bread base. 
  • Fresh pumpkin cubes can also be used in place of butternut squash. 

Go ahead and make yourself a few tartines and enjoy your weekend!

Butternut Squash and Green Chutney Tartines | A Brown Table

butternut squash and green chutney tartines

yields: 6 individual tartines

ingredients 

2 cups cubed butternut squash or pumpkin (about 1/2 inch sizes cubes)

1/2 cup red onion

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

6 slices of ciabatta bread

6 small shiitake mushrooms

1/2 cup green cilantro-mint chutney (click for recipe)

1/2 cup low skim fresh mozzarella cheese (drain excess water and pat dry with a clean towel, and tear the cheese into bits)

1 tablespoon olive oil + a little more for drizzling over the tartines

a little more salt and pepper for seasoning 

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Toss the butternut squash and onions together in a mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the salt and pepper and spread the mixture on baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 15-20 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and keep aside. Do not switch the oven off.

2. Take one slice of the bread and spread a generous 1 1/2 teaspoons of the green chutney with a butter knife. Place about 1 -2 tablespoons of the butternut squash mixture on the bread and 1 shitake mushroom in the center. Layer the top with about 1 tablespoon of the torn mozzarella cheese. Season with a little more salt and pepper. Prepare the rest of the tartines similarly and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the tartines with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately. 

 

thai and vietnamese inspired coffee granita

thai vietnamese coffee granita #food #glutenfree #dessert #asian #vegan #vegetarian #coffee #granita
thai vietnamese coffee granita #food #glutenfree #dessert #asian #vegan #vegetarian #coffee #granita

Labor day might officially mark the end of summer but I really don't want to give two hoots about the start of fall yet. It always seems too soon, especially when you love one season more than the others. It also really doesn't help that some of the television channels are running Christmas movies right now (what happened to Halloween and Thanksgiving?). Thankfully, the warm weather and I are on the same wavelength with neither of us wanting summer to leave, I know summer will put up a decent fight. So until autumn boots summer away, I'm going to happily chill out with these coffee granitas and think about all things . 

thai vietnamese coffee granita #food #glutenfree #dessert #asian #vegan #vegetarian #coffee #granita

I love Thai and Vietnamese iced coffees, each of them unique in their own special ways, one flavored with spices such as green cardamom while the other, sweetened with condensed milk. You can't go wrong with either of them, at least that's what I think. Since, it's hard for me to pick a favorite, I decided that the best thing to do, would be to create a granita, that represented the personalities of both of drinks. Double the inspiration and double the dose of flavor as the name suggests! 

Since this is a double granita, let's start with the first one, the coffee! I recommend using a chicory type of coffee but if you have a personal favorite, feel free to try that out in this recipe. The coffee granita is mixed with a sugar syrup infused with freshly crushed green cardamom pods that makes this simply amazing! The second granita is a little different, instead of using condensed milk, I decided to use sweetened coconut milk that is infused with vanilla, I find that it freezes well and tastes great. Condensed milk would give a more ice cream like texture that I didn't want for this dessert.

This coffee granita is going to be my buddy this weekend while I enjoy the long holiday. Have a great weekend!

thai vietnamese coffee granita #food #glutenfree #dessert #asian #vegan #vegetarian #coffee #granita
thai vietnamese coffee granita #food #glutenfree #dessert #asian #vegan #vegetarian #coffee #granita

thai & vietnamese inspired coffee granita

yields: 6 servings

ingredients

6 green cardamom pods

1 cup water

2 cups brown sugar 

3 cups of double strength (brewed) coffee (preferably chicory, I used Community Coffee but Cafe du Monde is good too)

4 cups full-fat coconut milk

1  vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract)

1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the green cardamom pods to release the seeds and crush the seeds. Add the crushed cardamom (the green shell with the crushed seeds) to a medium sized saucepan with the water and 1 cup of the sugar. Bring the contents to a boil on a medium-high flame. Once it begins to boil, remove and stir in the coffee. Remove from stove and keep aside. Allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar to the coconut milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Using a sharp knife slit the vanilla bean across its length. Scrape the seeds and add the seeds and the bean to the coconut milk. Heat the mixture over a medium-low flame for about 10 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and the milk just begins to boil. Remove from stove and allow to cool temperature. (If you're using vanilla extract, then add the extract after the liquid is removed from the stove).

3. Once the coffee mixture is completely cooled, stir and pass it through a tea strainer to get rid of the cardamom. Pour the liquid into a flat pan that is freezer-proof (I used a cake pan). Cover with cling film and place in the freezer. 

4. If you used a vanilla bean in the coconut milk, remove the bean and discard. Pour the rest of the coconut  is freezer-proof (I used a cake pan). Cover with cling film and place in the freezer. 

5. After 1  1/2- 2 hours remove both pans from the freezer. The mixture in each pan should resemble a frozen slush. Crush any large frozen chunks that might have formed and stir the contents. Cover each pan with cling film and place back in the freezer. After 30 minutes crush any large chunks and stir the contents, cover and place back in the freezer. After 1 1/2 to 2 hours, the mixture in each pan will be frozen, remove the cling film and scrape the surface with a fork to create flaky crystals. At this point the granita is ready to serve. Serve in chilled glasses filled generously with half of the coffee granita and half of the coconut milk granita. 

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup1

Summers are warm and depending on where you live, they can be excruciatingly hot and sometimes, even worse, accompanied by the dreaded "H" word............. humidity! And as much as I like hot weather, humidity is another story, I'll happily avoid it! But even in a hot and humid day, things can be fun and cool, especially if you can indulge in a bowl of this chilled walnut cucumber soup.

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup4

I've made a chilled mint yogurt soup in the past but this time I wanted to make the soup full of earthy flavors yet every bit cooling so you feel refreshed with every spoonful. By adding a few toasted walnuts to the yogurt, the soup acquires a rich and creamy texture which makes it delicious. I couldn't resist adding a little chili pepper but that is completely optional, if you don't want a little hot, skip it or remove the seeds from the pepper.

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup
I added a few cups of Stonyfield's organic plain low-fat yogurt to make this chilled soup, the yogurt by itself has a naturally fresh tangy flavor that really brought out the taste of the ingredients in the soup, making it the perfect summer soup.

 Note: Here's some geeky biochemical science for you! Cucumbers can be slightly bitter and there a couple of ways to get rid of the naturally occurring compound called cucurbitacin that causes this taste. The amount of cucurbitacin can vary within cucumbers picked from the same plant, however in general, the bitter compound is present in the peels and green parts and it will be less in the center. To get rid of cucurbitacin, I use the method I learned at home, slice the ends of the cucumber off and keep the tips aside, then with the pointed tip of a knife prick a few random holes into the cut ends of the cucumbers. Now rub the exposed cut ends of the cucumber with the cut tips for a minute or two, a slight white foam will form. Rinse the foam off under cold running tap water, repeat this on the opposite exposed side. Once you're done with this, peel and discard the skin and tips. 

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup2

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup

yields: 2 servings

ingredients

3/4 cup toasted walnuts

1 cup peeled cucumber, diced (see note above on how to remove cucumber bitterness)

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt 

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 green thai chili pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons lemon/lime juice, freshly squeezed (I used lime)

2 cups plain low-fat (non-fat) Stonyfield yogurt, chilled

a few chopped toasted walnuts for garnish

a little fresh dill/tarragon for garnish

a little walnut oil/extra virgin olive oil for garnish

1. Place all the ingredients from the walnuts to the yogurt in a blender and pulse until completely smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the amount of salt and pepper if needed. You can also add a little water to the soup to adjust the consistency if needed.

2. Remove from blender, pour into chilled serving bowls. Garnish with a few toasted walnuts, dill/tarragon and a light drizzle of walnut/olive oil. Serve immediately. 

Disclaimer: I am honored to be a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received product or coupons for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.