Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cuckoo for Coconuts

We've had a great  10 days with Don's parents.  The time has flown by!  We've done lots of sightseeing and just enjoyed spending time with family.  I'll share some of our adventures with you soon, but just in time for the weekend, I wanted to share a really great breakfast recipe.  Of course, unless you live here in Guam, you may not be able to find FRESH coconut to use, but try it anyway, your taste buds will thank you.

There are literally coconut trees everywhere you look here.  These trees actually produce coconuts, that fall to the ground when they are ready to be eaten ripe.  Although we have been surrounded by said coconuts for almost a year, we haven't taken the time (and trust me, if done the wrong way, it will take quite a bit of time) to crack one of these babies open.  It took out of town guests to get us acting like locals and eat some fresh coconut.

Our coconut fest started thanks to Martha Stewart.  My mother-in-law recently saw a segment on Martha's show about homemade coconut pudding.  The recipe (and Martha herself) very specifically called for fresh coconut.  I finally got brave and went to our local produce stand (AMAZING!!!!) and bought a coconut and had them grate it for me.  It was two bucks and produced about 3 cups of freshly grated coconut.

We made the pudding,

It was pretty good.  I am going to make it again with some modifications and report back to you.  But we had quite a bit of leftover coconut.  And we also got adventurous and decided to try to harvest our own coconuts.  Don spotted some on his daily run, so we picked them up and brought them home.

The thing you may not know is, the actual nut, the part that you eat, is buried deep within the husk.  The husk has a very thick shell.  A shell that can be opened simply if you know the right technique.  If you do not know the correct technique and attempt to open the coconut with a hammer, it will take two grown men almost an hour.  (we should  have Googled "how to crack a coconut" BEFORE cracking our coconut open).
We (by we, I mean Don and his dad while I took pictures) finally got the thing open and it was a beauty.  We even took sips of the coconut juice (another coconut fact- did you know coconut juice is the liquid that that comes out of the coconut when you crack it open, but coconut milk is produced by squeezing the "meat" of the coconut?  I did not, I thought the terms were interchangeable, I was corrected).

My house was officially overflowing with coconut.  So, for our last breakfast together, I decided to create some Tropical French Toast (I need a catchier name, but that was all I could come up with at such an early hour of the morning).  It turned out great and was super fast and easy.  Perfect for a Saturday morning treat. And my mother in law, lover of French Toast, declared it as the best French Toast she's ever eaten...  Not that I'm bragging.

Tropical French Toast  (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, Sticky Buns French Toast)
1/3 C Tropicana Orange-Peach-Mango Juice (or any orange juice you have on hand)
1/3 C Orange Curacao (or Triple Sec, or any orange liqueur or if you don't like alcohol, just use plain OJ)
4 large eggs
4 tbsp salted butter
3 tbsp honey
1/3 C FRESH coconut (it really doesn't need to be fresh, but unsweetened if possible)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 thick slices of a sweet bread (I used King's Hawaiian, but Challah bread would work well.  I used to think I didn't like French Toast, then I had it on good bread and realized that it's the only way to have French Toast on a good, thick bread.  To get the full effect of this dish, please don't make with Wonder bread)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Set oven to 400.  In 9x13 pan, add butter and honey.
Place pan in oven while heating and let butter and honey melt, but don't let butter turn brown.

While butter is melting, combine eggs, liquids and spices.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Once butter is melted, remove from oven and stir to combine and cover entire pan.  Sprinkle coconut over butter/honey mixture.

Set aside and dip bread into egg mixture.  Coat well, but don't let bread get too soggy.

Place bread on top of coconut in baking dish.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes, until edges slightly brown.  I baked for 18 minutes and it was perfection.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Take a bite.  Feel the crackle of the caramelized coconut on the bottom.  Enjoy citrus and salty as they waltz across your palate.  So sweet, you don't even need syrup.

Enjoy! And have a great weekend.


Kat said...

That french toast looks awesome!!!!

frosty said...

yum! & where is the awesome produce stand?

Terrell said...

Kat- it really was awesome, and I'm a pretty harsh critic of my cooking

Amy- it's the food stamp place by Guam Home Center... local avocados $1.50/lb- so good. Other local produce that I was afraid to buy b/c I had never seen it before :)

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