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Archive for the ‘Thai Dessert Recipe’ Category

Romancing with Lavender

Can you smell that? This time it is something familiar to us all: lavender. It is not an indigenous Thai ingredient, but it is one that is easily adapted to Thai kitchens, just like any fragrant flower. So here is my contemporary Thai dessert, Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream. It was born last week from romancing with lavender in my kitchen. It has been three years since I met my friend Kathy Gehrt, cookbook author and the founder of the website Discover Lavender. She opened my world. Like most of us, I wondered how could one eat perfume flowers? The more I learn about how to cook with lavender, the wilder I get. It is an amazing discovery. For a change this post is not directly related to Thai cuisine, but a study of taste as a food lover. One should never stop exploring.

Culinary Lavender

Two years ago my friend purchased a few varieties of culinary lavender plants from the Lavender Wind Farm. This summer the plants took off. They have yielded many flowers, so last Tuesday Barbara and I got together and celebrated our first harvest day. We prepared lunch together and added a lavender accent to everything we had for lunch. We got creative. First I made an avocado and nectarine salad with lavender as a fragrant herb and garnish. Then we added a sweet bread spread with lavender butter, followed by baked salmon with lavender salt, and a lovage and lavender earl grey tea. After lunch we made lavender sugar, lavender infused honey and lavender salt. How lucky am I to have then also returned home with two large bunches of fresh lavender? Please feel free to check out my photos on I Love Thai Cooking flicker.

Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream with mixed melon

 Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream is ideal to serve in a summer month with a chilled mixture of water melon, honey dew melon and cantaloupe.

For a summery dessert in July there is nothing better than coconut ice cream with a scent of lavender. I have made a few versions and love to keep the coconut with a custard texture as the main flavor followed by a hint of lavender. It is a simple, easy recipe but the trick is to heat the cream mixture above 175 degrees, then after tempering it with the egg, bring it back to the stove top again but do not let it get higher than 160 degrees. When churning the ice cream, I recommend starting with a cold batter then do not churn it more than needed—about 25 minutes or until it starts to form a solid ice cream consistency. Finish the process in the freezer. Follow these tips to get a custard-style ice cream with a soft silky texture. I hope you have a chance to share this coconut-lavender ice cream with your families and friends this summer. Let’s create a romantic flavor and the fragrance of lavender in the air.

coconut cream, half and half and lavender

Heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and lavender.

Coconut-Lavender Ice cream

Coconut Lavender Ice Cream

ไอศครีมมะพร้าวลาเวนเดอร์

Anyone can make ice cream today. All you need is a simple machine and a good recipe to follow. For a lactose-free recipe, simply replace the heavy whipping cream with the same amount of coconut milk.

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons culinary lavender
8 egg yolks
1 ¼ cup lavender sugar (please click to see recipe)
 

First you will need to freeze your ice cream churning bowl at least 24 hours beforehand.

Prepare an ice water bath in a container that is larger than the pot.

Bring heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and lavender to a gentle boil and cook on medium-low with a gentle boil for 5 minutes or until it reaches 175 degrees.

Whisk yolks and lavender sugar in a large bowl until they are creamy, light and puffy like ribbon, about 10 to 12 minutes.

While slowly pouring the cream mixture into the yolks and lavender sugar mixture, stir constantly with the other hand to prevent the egg from curdling. Strain the mixture to remove the lavender as you pour it back into the same pot; whisk constantly while cooking on medium-low heat. The setting should keep the temperature below 160 degrees and the mixture should be steaming but never boiling. Observe the texture; watch for it to begin to thicken, changing from creamy and beginning to take on the appearance of a soft custard. When it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, remove the pot from the heat and place it in the prepared ice water bath.

Cool it in the ice bath and and then pour it into the prepared ice cream machine. Turn on the machine and continue according to the machine instructions, usually about 20 to 25 minutes. It should have a texture of soft ice cream. Put it in the freezer for 4 hours before serving.

Pranee’s Note

For further study on making ice cream, please check out the science related to making ice cream by Harold McGee.

Where can you find culinary Lavender in Seattle?

I found culinary lavender at Pacific Food Importers, Inc. By chance you can sometime fine them at some Seattle Farmers Markets. But best of all is if you have sunny spot in your garden, plant your own culinary lavender. Kathy Gehrt recommends the Royal Velvet variety. Next I recommend that you immerse yourself in a lavender world by visiting the Sequim Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington.

Lavender at a Hmong farmer’s stand at the Columbia City Farmer Market

© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com  
 
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Dreamy Coconut Frosting

I have been home from Maui for over a week now and I still dream of the luscious tropical deserts from my recent trip. I am totally inspired and determined to create an easy version of a coconut dessert that will reflect my trip. For a dinner party last Sunday I baked a coconut cake the day before by following a layer cake recipe from a box of cake flour and using coconut milk in place of milk and substituting coconut flavoring for vanilla. (You can do the same or try the links to the many wonderful coconut cake recipes that I have added at the bottom of this page.)

Last Sunday was perfect. I brought the coconut cake to a Thai friend’s dinner party to complement their Thai dinner. I was glad they liked the cake. They loved the light texture of the frosting and the generous amount of sweetened shredded coconut. I hope you will enjoy this recipe and add a dream-like tropical dessert to your Thai dinner at home.

A Creation of Tropical Flavors

Primroses greeted me in January; I used them to decorate the cake.

Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting was the answer to my longing to create a dish to duplicate the flavors of a tropical land in a western kitchen. I personally have never tasted coconut cake in Thailand but came to love the cake in America and most recently on my visit to Maui. I can’t live without coconut and was excited about adding coconut cake to my repertoire.

The body of the cake that I envisioned can be any white, spongy cake that gets its coconut flavor from coconut milk and natural coconut flavoring. Its frosting should be light and fluffy with pure coconut flavor and a mouthful of shredded coconut.

Butter, Coconut Cream and Powder Sugar = Coconut Frosting

First step: Cream butter, then add powdered sugar and coconut cream.

Step 2: Coconut Frosting

Step 2: Stir in coconut flavor, jasmine flavoring essence and sweetened shredded coconut.

Step 3: More Coconut on Coconut Frosting

Step 3: Spread frosting between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake; add sweetened shredded coconut on the top and along the sides.

Dreamy Coconut Frosting

Pranee’s Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

When it comes to making coconut frosting for coconut cake, I keep it simple, low fat and fast.  The whole process should be easy and carefree. The frosting needs to be creamy, but thick enough to stick to the surface of the cake and to allow the shredded coconut to stick to it. We need either cream cheese or butter to begin with, then I use coconut cream to lighten it up and add powdered sugar until the mixture gets to the desired texture. For coconut, you can use dry coconut chips/flakes, freshly grated coconut or simply sweetened, shredded coconut. I baked the cake the day before and made the frosting the next day—it doesn’t take long to whip up and spread—then the cake is ready to serve. The secret to making this frosting dreamy is to have a real coconut flavor heightened with either vanilla, rose, lavender or jasmine.

Yield: 2 cups

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup coconut cream (the thick top layer from a can or carton of Thai coconut milk)
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring (I like Frontier Natural Flavors)
1 teaspoon flavoring essence Jasmine (Mali)
2½ cups sweetened shredded coconut, divided
 
With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. With a spatula, fold in sugar and coconut cream; beat until creamy, about 3 minutes. Fold in coconut flavoring, jasmine flavoring essence and 1½ cups sweetened shredded coconut. You may use ½ cup of the finished mixture as a filling and the rest, about 1½ cups, as frosting.

Spread the frosting to cover all of the cake surface, then cover the frosting with the rest of the sweetened shredded coconut.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 

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Holiday Sweet with a Tropical Accent

Coconut Tea Cakes

Finally, this is the year that I have set aside the whole month of December to indulge myself with food and friends. I am a well-pampered cook.

This past week, my Italian culinary group, who traveled together to Italy in 2004, got together for a fun cookie exchange. I returned home with assorted cookies and sweet delights. My son, who appreciated them all, loved the Russian Tea Cakes, also called Butter Balls or Mexican Wedding Cakes. My friend bakes them every year from Betty Crocker’s Recipe.

I love the flavor and the texture of the Russian Tea Cakes and imagined that they would be good made with Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes and almond meal/flour, both of which I have had in my freezer for a long time. So I started by following the recipe but played with the proportions of coconut flakes, almond meal and flour. I kept the amounts of butter and powder sugar from the Russian Tea Cakes recipe as a backbone structure and kept the preparation and cooking methods the same as well.

Several friends who love coconut loved the coconut tea cakes instantly. My son, however, still prefers the traditional Russian Tea Cakes!

Coconut Tea Cakes

Bake until slightly yellow-brown on the top and the bottom.

Coconut Tea Cakes

If you prefer, you can add coconut flakes to the powdered sugar to dust the baked cookies; it won’t stick, but it makes a great garnish just before serving.

Credit: Russian Tea Cake by Betty Crocker’s Recipe

Coconut Tea Cakes

I love coconut and incorporate it into recipes any time I can. While baking Russian Tea Cakes for my son, I played around with my concept of Coconut Tea Cakes and it worked on the first try. Coconut flakes are edible in all forms, toasted or not. Personally I love dried coconut flakes just the way they are. This recipe should also work with sweetened shredded coconut but the outcome will be different than my version which highlights the dry coconut against the buttery texture of the other ingredients. Anytime that the dough fails to form a ball, add a little more melted butter to hold it together.

Yield: 3 dozen
 
2 cups flour
¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
¼ teaspoon salt (omit if salted butter is used)
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Medium Shredded Coconut
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar, plus ¼ cup for dusting 
1 teaspoon either coconut extract or almond extract
 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a wire rack for cooling the cookies.

Combine flour, almond meal/four, salt and medium shredded coconut and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter, ½ cup powder sugar and coconut or almond extract on medium speed until creamy. Using a spatula, fold in flour mixture slowly until it is well-combined and you have a  large ball of dough. Divide the dough into four balls. Roll each ball into a cylinder and cut into 9 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a perfect round ball and place onto a baking sheet. You should have about 3 dozen.

Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until a tiny hint of yellow-brown appears on the top and the bottom. Remove cookies to the wire rack.

Place ¼ cup powdered sugar in a small bowl, then drop in slightly cooled cookies one at a time, dusting them with powdered sugar before placing them back on the wire rack. Before packaging, storing or serving, dust the cookies once again with powdered sugar.

Photos: © 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 

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A Divine Fruit, Persimmon ลูกพลับ 

Here in Seattle, I have been savoring persimmons during all of November and now into December. Persimmons reached their peak this last week. The abundance of this fruit at peak season provides a low price and high quality sweet fruits and this is when I am inspired to cook with persimmons. This year in my kitchen I found two delicious new ways to cook with them: persimmon-orange butter and persimmon upside-down cake. Today I will share with you my discoveries of this divine fruit which only appears once a year.

Fuyu Persimmon fruit – ลูกพลับ

The yellow-orange color of persimmon and its aromatic sweetness make this fruit special. In the U.S., the season for persimmons is in November and December, and they give us  a special way to celebrate the holiday seasons. Persimmons arrived in the U.S. and Europe over 200 years ago. There are two varieties in Seattle market: Hachiya and Fuyu. The former is recommended to eat when it is fully ripe. The latter, Fuyu, is my favorite and it is the variety most commonly available, so my focus today will be on the Fuyu persimmon.

Fuyu persimmons (Diospyros Kaki L) are native to Northern China. It is an ancient fruit—a fossilized persimmon was found in the tomb of the emperor of the Han Dynasty. Fuyu persimmons first traveled from China to Thailand in 1937, but they did not become widespread until the Royal Project Foundation under Kasetsart University  conducted a study in 1969 that grew various varieties of persimmons in Thailand and led to the successful establishment of persimmon farming in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phetchabun. These are three persimmon varieties in Thailand: Xichu, Fuyu and Hyakume. (Source: 111 Thai Fruits by Nidda and Thaweethong Hongvivat published by Sangdad). The season for harvesting them is from July till September each year.  The nutritional benefits from persimmons are priceless. It is high in potassium, vitamin C, and much more.

Unripe Fuyu persimmon early in the season

When the hint of green disappears from the skin and is replaced by a yellow-orange color, one can snack on unripe Fuyu persimmon, though the ripe ones are the best. Persimmons can accompany an assorted cheese platter, much like pears or grapes, or combining green salad with bacon. For dessert, last year I found my pleasure by adding persimmons in coconut milk to my pearl tapioca pudding just before serving. This year, in the process of creating a dessert for 70 people, I found myself preparing persimmon-orange butter to serve over sweet sticky rice. Then came persimmon upside-down cake; this was magically created right after baking cranberry upside-down cake for my family. For an impromptu inspiration, all we need is to have plenty of persimmons around while they are in season.

Fuyu Persimmon

Persimmon-Orange Butter

Yield: 2 cups

You can use persimmon-orange butter on just about everything, or you can eat it plain like apple sauce. This is my favorite way:  served with sticky rice, on top of peanut butter and fruit butter for the sandwich.

6 fully ripened Fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped
Zest of one orange
6 oranges, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons triple sec
3 tablespoons butter

Place persimmons, orange zest, orange, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick, triple sec and butter in a large saucepan. Let it cook on medium heat until softened and all juices from the fruit have evaporated, about 30 minutes. Stir often during the cooking. Remove cinnamon stick. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Making of Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

Sliced persimmon, brown sugar, star anise and triple sac

When I was looking for a spice to compliment the flavor of persimmon, I picked up my cinnamon powder from Vietnam and star anise powder from Thailand. After smelling the star anise, I decided it was a sure thing. At that moment my eye glanced over at the star-shaped center of the persimmon and I decided to place a star anise in between the slices of persimmon. The star anise mirrors the pattern of the star-shaped center of the persimmon. Perfect.

Right Side Up

I was also happy that I had some persimmon-orange butter that I had created on another day. This allowed me to add some persimmon flavor in the body of the cake.

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

I used organic brown sugar, but any brown sugar would do the work.

A Perfect Persimmon-Star Anise Upside-Down Cake

The pretty star-shaped centers creates a perfect look for this upside-down cake.

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

Burnt brown sugar with creamy  soft persimmons melt in your mouth, almost like a crème caramel.

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

เค้กลูกพลับ

I baked Yankee Cranberry Upside-Down Cake many times last week, which is what led me to this project.  I played around with persimmons and spices I had in the kitchen, and by the time the cranberry upside-down cake was finished, my persimmon-star anise upside-down cake was ready to go in. It became totally a different cake with its own flavor profiles, but it was the Yankee Cranberry Upside-Down Cake that inspired me with confidence.

Baking time: 35 to 40 minutes

Serves: 8 to 12

6 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons star anise powder, divided
1 tablespoon triple sec, divided
3 persimmons, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 6 pieces, each about 1/3 inch thick
5 star anises, whole
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons persimmon-orange butter, persimmon pulps or orange marmalade
 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cover a 9-inch spring form pan with 2 tablespoons melted butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar, triple sec and ½ teaspoon star anise powder to cover entire surface. Arrange persimmon slices and star anise as shown in the photo above.

Combine flour, baking powder, remaining star anise powder and salt.

Beat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and the sugar very hard by hand until they are well mixed. Then beat in eggs, one at a time, very hard by hand until the mixture is custardy. Whisk in ½ cup of the flour mixture, mix well, then whisk in ¼ cup buttermilk; continue this method of adding the flour and buttermilk until you finish with ¼ cup flour.  Pour the batter into the center of the springform pan, smoothing it with a spatula to make it evenly cover the persimmon.

Bake on a rack in the center of the oven until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. While the cake is still warm, invert the cake onto a serving platter.

credit: http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/yankee-cranberry-upside-down-cake-687053/

Photos: © 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 

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Dragon Crystal Ball – แก้วมังกร

Last Tuesday a friend and I prepared a tropical fruit salad together in her kitchen to test a version of my versatile Thai mixed fruit salad recipe. It is a recipe that I have made countless times and the results are always good, though never the same due to seasonal inspirations. This time I focused on just three different kinds of fruit, each high in anti-oxidants and at their peak fresh in the market. Tropical fruits have so many potential healthy benefits, I loved creating a recipe of the moment for you to enjoy. This combination of dragon fruit, papaya and Thai grapefruit is unique; I hope that you enjoy the recipe. It works really well with all fruits, so let’s play with tropical fruits!

Dragon Fruit in a fruit tray at my family's Chinese New Year altar

Dragon Fruit  (Hylocereus undatus) is also known as red Pitaya, or in Thailand we call it Kaeo Mangkon – แก้วมังกร. The most commonly-seen “dragon fruit” in the market is a red-skinned fruit with white flesh. There are two more varieties, one with red skin and red fruit and another with yellow skin and white fruit, but the red skin and white fruit with black seeds is the most common.

Dragon Fruit - Pitaya

Dragon Crystal Ball – แก้วมังกร

Dragon Fruit is native to Central American and its neighboring areas. It came to Southeast Asia about a century ago and is believed to have been brought to Vietnam by French missionaries. It is now very popular throughout Southeast Asia where there is an ideal tropical climate to grow this cactus-like green plant with its abundance of large flowers that become the red fruit. Because of its beautiful looks and auspicious name, dragon fruit is often seen in Thailand and Vietnam on ancestor altars or being presented to a friend as a gift. It is quite dramatic looking both inside and out.

Dicing Dragon Fruit Flesh

Dragon fruit is easy to prepare. After trimming off the top and bottom, cut the fruit in half then use your thumb and pointer finger to press the skin away from the fruit; it will peel off easily. From there cut the fruit into the desired shape. The flavor is not dramatic compared to its appearance. The fruit is similar in someways to a kiwi fruit, but the texture is denser. It has a gentle sweet-sour taste and the seeds, which look like black sesame seeds, provide a fun texture. Dragon fruit’s texture, unique look, and unassertive taste combine to make it a star in this mixed-fruit salad.

Dicing Papaya

This deep rich yellow-orange papaya is so delicious and creamy. I was careful to add it gently into the salad, mixing just enough so that the papaya flavors become well combined with the dragon fruit and Thai grapefruit.

Som Oh - Thai Grapefruit

Pomelo, the third ingredient in my salad, is also known as Asian or Thai grapefruit. It adds a citrusy sweet and sour flavor to the salad. In America, pomelo is available in the markets for many months beginning in September. Please check my blog post on Pomelo Salad with Crab to learn about Thai grapefruit and how to open them.

Dragon fruit, papaya and Thai grapefruit salad

Thai Mixed Fruit Salad with Dragon Fruit 

Som Tum Pollamai Kao Mangkon

ส้มตำผลไม้แก้วมังกร

Servings: 6    Preparation: 15 minutes     Cooking time: 5 minutes

Som Tum Pollamai has become a trendy dish in Thailand over the last few years, even though it has been known for centuries. It is simply a fruit salad with an accent of Thai herbal flavors and aromas. Dragon fruit, papaya and pomelo make a great combination because they give you a great anti-oxidant boost and much more. My friend commented that this would make a great fruit dish for a holiday brunch as well as being fun to serve at a poker party because the cubed dragon fruit look so much like dice. 

6 cups mixed seasonal fruits, peeled and cut into small bite-size cubes
4 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemongrass, thinly sliced (see Pranee’s Youtube video demonstration how to prepare lemongrass)
3 Kaffir lime leaves whole, or 1 tablespoon lime peel
1 cup mint leaves

Mix sugar, lime juice and salt together in a small bowl and stir well. Place the mixed fruits in a large salad bowl, then sprinkle the liquid mixture over the fruit; toss gently but thoroughly until the dressing and fruits are well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour to let it sit and develop flavor. Before serving, add lemongrass, Kaffir lime or lime peels and mint and mix gently. Garnish with mint leaves or short stalks of lemongrass as desired.

Cook note: Other fruits that go well together include apple, pear, guava, cantaloupe, pineapple, Som Oh (Thai grapefruit) or any citrus fruits, grapes, melon, honeydew melon, banana, strawberry and half grated green mango.

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .

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Conditional Love

My durian tree

Durian ทุเรียน, Durio Zibethinus Merr., is a native plant to Brunei, Sarawak, Malaysia and Indonesia. Southern Thailand is a part of the Malay Peninsula and it has a tropical climate pattern similar to Malaysia.

One of my memories of growing up in a village on a hilly isle of PhuketSouthern Thailand, is of the beginning of durian season. It would begin after two months of monsoon, around June and July, when the earth was moist and the mountains a lush green. The villagers would gather ripe durians that had fallen to the ground the night before and sell them out in front of my grandmother’s home the next morning. Many piles of 4 to 8 durians in all sizes were auctioned off each morning. Later the winners carried home the thorny fruits which had been tied up with twine or string. Then the whole extended family would luxuriously savor the heavenly durian, a feast of nature. Durian was not a fruit we enjoyed everyday, just as you would not want a rich custard everyday. Eating and sharing durian once or twice a year was an indulgence and a family ritual.

My last visit to Thailand in July 2011 was a memorable and fruitful one. I spent many days working on my plantation with my gardener and it was right at the peak of durian, bamboo shoot, and sator season. Durian (known as stinky fruit) and sator (also known as Petai or stinky beans) are infamous for their unique smells, though their health benefits transcend their strong odors. On my plantation, durian and sator grow side by side, a part of the Southern Thailand hillside landscape. One morning we had durian for breakfast with dark Thai coffee. As those of us who love durian say, “it tastes like heaven, a perfect custard on earth.” I was glad to taste durian again after a long time without it.

Life and culture around Seattle are not the same as in the village of Thailand. Here it is hard to convince friends and students to embrace durian’s infamous stinky side. My rules for eating durian are these: it must be a good durian (for me, this means a Phuket durian), in-season, not too ripe, eaten in small portions once or twice a year, and never mixed with alcohol. I would also recommend not socializing with people who don’t like durian the day you eat it, and don’t carry it around in a small closed space or a home with an air conditioning system. In Thailand, durian is considered contraband if you carry it in a rental car, or in air-conditioned public places such as buses, hotels or airplanes.

Pranee with Phuket cultivar of durian

There are many durian cultivars in Thailand but in Phuket the small, native cultivar is popular with locals as well as tourists from all over Asia. When visiting Thailand during durian season, ask someone who is knowledgeable about durian to introduce it to you. If you try the right one, chances are you, too, will taste the heaven—and the smell won’t put you off too much. And you will have something to talk about for a lifetime!

The best way to enjoy fresh durian is in moderation. Some people experience a fever after eating durian because it contains so many calories. One hundred grams of durian has about 30 grams of sugar, 25 grams of protein and approximately 144 calories (please see source below). Besides eating fresh durian, you may find durian in many desserts: Kao Neow Thurian, sticky rice with coconut milk and durian sauce; Thurian Icecream, durian ice cream; and Thurian Gwan, durian candies.

How to open the durian with a paring knife and cleaver

Opening durian requires some skill. Below are step-by-step pictures on how to open the durian the way a Phuketian does it. You will need two thick towels to protect the counter and your hand, a cleaver and a paring knife.

Look for a split in the durian

First remove the stem, then find the natural split in the hull. Use a paring knife to follow the split and make it wider, then use the cleaver to twist the hull open.

Insert the cleaver into the split line and then use the cleaver to twist the hull open.

Use both hands on each side of the split to pull and force until the hull opens completely

A perfect custard fruit snuggles inside

The custard lumps and seeds are snuggled inside each hollow hull.

Durian with delicious custard and seeds inside

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .

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Drink Me

It has been exactly a week since I returned from Thailand and I am still trying to catch up with our Seattle summer. My friends have all assured me that I didn’t miss much during the past month as we are still having the same cold weather we had in June. This July, Seattle hit the record lowest temperature for summer, so all I really need to catch up on is eating the plentiful seasonal fruits and vegetables from the local farmers markets and nearby towns.  

Hami Melon

During my first grocery shopping back here in Seattle, my cart was full with all sorts of berries. And then my eye caught on a good-looking melon that I haven’t tried: Hami melon. It is grown in California and available from mid-May to July and from September to December. I let it ripen at home for a few days and its sweet aroma was inviting me to taste it. The sweet scent reminds me of the Thai long muskmelon that I used to grow a long time ago in my organic garden in Phuket—it grew abundantly despite my lack of knowledge and farming experience.

Hami Melon

Hami melon is a type of muskmelon, a Chinese melon variety. A good one can taste sweeter and have a higher sugar content than most other varieties of melon. I decided to make a smoothie with coconut milk to duplicate Taeng Thai Kati, a famous Thai muskmelon dessert made with coconut milk, but we will drink ours instead of eating it. I kept the flavor profile and the amounts of ingredients the same as in Taeng Thai Kati, but added a generous amount of crushed ice and simple syrup to turn it into a nice cold smoothie. I used only one-third cup coconut milk in my recipe, a perfect amount to make a smoothie, a healthy summer drink. But if you are looking for a nice milkshake-like drink and dessert combo, add a scoop or two of coconut ice cream; it would taste heavenly. When a sweet flavor is needed, honey or palm sugar simple syrup are good choices to add a dimension of sweetness and aroma.

Coconut Melon Smoothie

Stock up on a few cans of coconut milk, then anytime the sweet floral scents of melon invite you, all you have to do is prepare this recipe. Hami melon is hard to resist, especially when it is combined with alluring fresh coconut milk. Drink me.

Coconut Melon Smoothie

Nam Kati Taeng Thai Smoothie

น้ำกะทิแตงไทยสมูทตี้

Serves: 2 to 4

Yield: 3 cups

16 ounces (see note) diced Hami melon, seeded, peeled and diced, or substitute honey-dew melon
⅓ cup coconut milk or coconut ice cream, more as desired
1½ cups crushed ice
2 tablespoons palm sugar simple syrup, optional (see note)
pinch of salt

Place melon, coconut milk, ice, sugar and salt in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve right away with a straw.

Pranee’s Note

A 4-pound Hami melon (medium size), seeded, peeled and diced will yield about 2 pounds of diced melon.
 
To make palm sugar simple syrup, place a disc of palm sugar (about 4 tablespoons) and about ¼ cup water in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool and chill. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.   Yield: ¼ cup.
 
© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen  
I Love Thai cooking 
 Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .

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