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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

COCONUTS (isn't that a Marx Brothers movie?)

Yesterday the young maintenance man from the home across the street came over with a treat for me. Just the day before the crew was out to trim the coconut palms and remove all the coconuts in preparation for fall. He had a whole armful of fresh coconuts for me! He had used his machete to hack off the top of one so that I could put in a straw and drink the coconut water. If you have never had this treat, I am sorry for you my friend......... Rush right on down to that grocery store and do yourself a a fresh coconut and try it! I had to sheepishly take the other coconuts back to him though, because I needed him to cut open the thick outer husk for me. I have taken a photo of them and you can see how thick this husk is. Almost impossible to get off unless you have an extremely sharp machete. Juan keeps his in his belt as it is a multi-purpose tool here.

When you break open a coconut, the clear liquid, coconut water, inside is a refreshing treat, but it is not coconut milk. To savor this sweet beverage, poke a hole in 2 of the 'eyes' of the coconut and either insert a straw (that is what we do here) or pour it into a glass. It actually is good at room temperature, but amazingly refreshing if it has been refrigerated. Try it!

To open a coconut, use the back of a heavy knife to break the outer shell. If you have already taken the coconut water out, then you shouldn't have a big mess. If you haven't taken it out, break the coconut over a large bowl. Hit it hard with your knife back all round the center of the coconut until it breaks into halves.

After you have it in large pieces, there are two ways to remove the coconut meat.
  1. You can heat the shell of the broken coconut, on a gas burner for a few minutes to loosen the meat. Make sure you have the shell side on the burner not the coconut meat. On a wooden board using a clean screwdriver (I have one specifically for use in my kitchen) place the blade between the meat and shell and pry to separate the two. NOTE: wrap the hand you use to hold the coconut in a thick towel so you do not cut yourself. The shell is very sharp and so is the screwdriver.
  2. I do not bother to heat the shell, I just use the screwdriver to pry the meat away.

Your coconut is ready to be used as you like. It can be shredded and toasted. or.......


You will need coconut (unsweetened) and warm water.

For one coconut you will need 4 cups of hot water (not boiling). Place coconut in your food processor or blender. Blitz until it is in tiny pieces or looks shredded. Add the hot water and continue to blitz until it is well pureed. Let sit for 5 minutes. Place a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl. Pour the pureed coconut into the cheesecloth. Wrap up and squeeze as much of the milk out as possible. This is the coconut milk. Use this instead of the canned stuff with all the junk in it that you normally buy. Put it in a jar in the fridge, or use it immediately in curry, drinks, sauces, or a smoothie! The coconut can be used again in baking, ice cream, anything you would normally use coconut for. The coconut can be frozen for later use.

As seen on:

As seen on: