Imperfect Paradise by Dan Dembiczak - I'm so proud of Dan Dembiczak, whose first novel - Imperfect Paradise - is available for sale in both eBookor Paperback on Amazon.com! The story follows ...
Saturday, April 10, 2010
This evening we hosted Dan's family to celebrate Jennifer's birthday. Dan came up with a great Japanese-Hawaiian inspired menu, and Jennifer requested a coconut cream pie for dessert. Knowing that some of our family don't dig coconut (including her husband), Dan suggested we also make some chocolate chip cookies (since they're quick and easy) and have ice cream on hand.
The full menu ended up using a stack of cookbooks as reference: Sushi Making at Home, Quick & Easy Japanese Cuisine for Everyone, Best of the Best from Hawaii, Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, and How to Bake.
We started off with drinks and nuts out on the back deck, then brought out some ahi tuna hosomaki (thin roll) sushi, with wasabi and soy sauce.
Then we made our way to the dining room for dinner. I baked/poached two sockeye salmon fillets in a homemade teriyaki marinade, and we served that with a cheesy broccoli krab side dish, fruit salad, and rice. Everyone seemed to really enjoy all the dishes, and more than one person went back for seconds. Dan's fruit salad was a big hit - a mix of strawberries, bananas, mango, grapes, and basil, tossed with crème fraiche, lemon juice and vanilla.
2 full sockeye salmon fillets (one whole salmon)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tspn ginger root, grated
Mix together the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and ginger root. Place salmon in a Pyrex baking dish (or two) and pour sauce over. Cover and refrigerate overnight, to let the flavor and moisture seep into it. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees (uncovered) - until the thickest part was just cooked through.
(Teriyaki sauce ratios from Quick & Easy Japanese Cuisine for Everyone)
2 lbs broccoli
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 packages imitation crabmeat
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
Cut broccoli into bite size pieces. Place broccoli in boiling water just until color is bright and they're cooked but still crunchy (about 1 minute). Remove from boiling water and immediately place in a bowl of ice water, to stop cooking. Drain and place broccoli in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread 1 can of mushroom soup over broccoli. Spread crab meat over the top. Spread the other can of mushroom soup over the crab meat. Top with mixed cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then broil until top just begins to brown.
(Adapted from Best of the Best from Hawaii)
After dinner, we retired downstairs to open presents, then enjoy some dessert. I was surprised at how simply coconut cream pie is to make - and how much less cloying the coconut flavor is when you make it at home.
Coconut Cream Pie
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tspn salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3-5 Tbpsn cold water
1 cup sweetened coconut
2 cups milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 large eggs
4 tbpsn unsalted butter, softened
2 tspn vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup coconut cream
1 tspn vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in butter until well incorporated. Sprinkle one tablespoon of water at a time onto mixture, tossing with a fork. Push moistened portion to the side of the bowl, then repeat until all is moistened. Form dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, flatten dough with hands, retaining circular shape. Roll dough from center to edge forming a 12 inch diameter circle. Wrap dough around rolling pin and ease into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry dough. Trim edges to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pan, then fold under. Using the edge of the tines of a fork, press along edges to flute. Prick the bottom and sides of the pastry with the points of the fork (this will prevent it from puffing up too much). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Spread sweetened coconut on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 325 degree F oven for about 5-10 minutes, stirring often so the coconut browns evenly. Divide in half and set aside. Combine milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Whisk once to combine and bring to a boil over low heat. Remove from heat. Place 1/2 cup coconut cream in a mixing bowl and whisk in cornstarch, then eggs. Return the milk & sugar to a boil over low heat, then whisk about 1/3 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Return the remaining milk mixture to a boil and whisk in the egg mixture, whisking constantly until the filling thickens and comes to a boil. (This happens quickly, and will clot if you don't whisk constantly.) Allow to boil, whisking constantly for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, whisk in the butter and 2 tspn vanilla, the pour into a bowl. Press plastic wrap against the surface of the filling and chill until it is approximately 75 degrees F. Stir in 1/2 cup of toasted coconut, then spread evenly in the cooled pie crust.
Whip the cream, coconut cream and vanilla until it holds a firm peak. Spread the cream over the pie filling, then sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut over the top.
(Crust recipe from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook and pie recipe from How to Bake)