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Since probably the mid 80’s, Thai cuisine has seen an explosion of popularity, likely due to a booming post-war tourism industry in Southeast Asia. As all popular things do, Thai cuisine was quickly adopted as the trendy go-to cuisine in America, built to excess, and generally ruined. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dish of Pad Thai as much as the next person might. But a vast difference can be found from one pad thai to another. Generally, when seeking out foreign cuisines, look for recipes that aren’t written in english.

Thailand is host to a litany of amazing dishes exemplifying the core four flavors of their cuisine: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. One thing that people don’t necessarily think about, however (maybe I can’t speak for you, but I’ve really never considered it), is what breakfast looks like in this part of the world. Rice and noodles are all well and good, but when it comes to the most important meal of the day I’ll usually reach for something a bit more familiar.

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Pa Thong Ko are a Thai version of a traditional Chinese-style cruller. Crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside; They’re almost more similar to the fried bread dough you’d get from a dirty cart at the county fair. Served with coconut jam (which is really a custard), you can see the influence from French colonialism, much the same way that the Banh Mi came about in Vietnam.

According to Thai tradition, the traditional X shaped fritters represent two inseparable lovers, always seen together. In stark contrast, Chinese tradition recounts a tale of two evil men who were put to death in boiling oil.

Pa Thong Ko, adapted from SheSimmers
makes 10-12 fritters

  • Bread Flour*, 260g
  • Active Dry Yeast, 2g
  • Baker’s Ammonia, 2g
  • Alum Powder, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt, 8g
  • Granulated Sugar, 14g
  • Warm Water, 170g (3/4 cup)
  • Vegetable Oil, 1 tablespoon, plus more as needed
  • Baking Powder, 4g

Combine all ingredients except baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and lightly coat top of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and allow to rise 4-5 hours. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust flour over dough. Sprinkle baking powder over dough. Fold and knead about 4 times. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut to desired shapes.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 4-5 inches of vegetable oil to 350F. Fry dough until deep brown and crispy, 1-2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil

*Yes, you can use All-Purpose flour

Sangkhaya (Coconut Jam/Custard)
makes just over 1 cup

  • Egg Yolk, large, 4 each
  • Palm Sugar, 3 tablespoons
  • Granulated Sugar, 5 tablespoons
  • Coconut Milk, full-fat, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
  • Dried Pandan Leaf**, about 1/4 cup
  • Kosher Salt, 1/8 teaspoon

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk vigorously until thick and creamy. Meanwhile, heat coconut milk, pandan and salt in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. While whisking, add 1/3 of the hot coconut milk to the egg yolk mixture. Continue whisking until full incorporated. While whisking, add egg mixture to remaining coconut milk. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking very frequently, until sauce is thick, about 5-8 minutes. Once thick, immediately remove from heat, transfer sauce to a bowl or other container and refrigerate until cooled completely.

**If you can’t find pandan or don’t want to buy it, substitute 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

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In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, British occult writer James Churchward became known for his studies of the lost continent of Mu, spanning the breadth of the Pacific Ocean and connecting the Polynesian Islands. Expanding on the ideas of Augustus Le Plongeon, Churchward claimed that the island was the site of the Garden of Eden and the native Naacal people spawned the great ancient civilizations of the ancient world such as the Maya, the Egyptians and the Babylonians.

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Churward’s own map, drawn in 1931, shows the migration of the Naacal eastward towards South America, through the great Amazon Sea, with distinct groups parting ways near the southern coast of Atlantis. However, as such civilizations normally do,  Mu was destroyed in a single day and night and lost beneath the waves, its knowledge and technology with it. Modern science has definitively shown that Mu, Atlantis and other lost continents exist purely in the realm of pseudoscience, because the planet doesn’t work that way. It’s a fun story nonetheless.

The 45th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge brings us to the Pacific Islands. I’ve always had a fascination with mysteries of the ancient world, much like Mu. Rapa Nui, better known as Eastern Island, is one of those mysterious things that’s just incredibly captivating. While they’ve pretty much figured out what’s up with the Moai, the cuisine of the island hasn’t been looked into much with modern eyes and ears.

img_4025 Po’e is a traditional dessert served throughout Polynesia. Typically made with banana or plantain with various tropical fruits, the Pascuanese version is known for using pumpkin. The fruits are mashed until smooth before being mixed with sugar, starch and a bit of vanilla. As with most traditional dishes in the area, it would normally be wrapped in banana leaf and baked in an buried oven. Once cooled, it’s cut into pieces and served with fresh coconut cream.

All the recipes I read refer to Po’e as more similar to a pudding, but that doesn’t really seem right. I would say it’s more like a less bready-y banana bread. Whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly delicious and makes for a filling breakfast or a light dessert to cap off a meal.

Po’e

makes about 3 servings

  • Banana, medium, 4 each*
  • Pumpkin, canned, 1 can*
  • Brown Sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Cornstarch or Arrowroot, 1 cup**
  • Vanilla Extract, 2 teaspoons
  • Coconut Cream, as needed***

Preheat oven to 375F. Puree bananas and pumpkin in food processor until completely smooth. Sift together brown sugar and cornstarch. COmbine dry ingredients with puree and vanilla, mixing to combine evenly. Butter a 9×9 baking dish and add banana mixture. Baking at 375F about 35 minutes, or until center is set. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving with coconut cream.

*A lot recipes suggest trying it with mango, pineapple or papaya. The goal is to have 4 cups of puree total, regardless of its constituents.

**Arrowroot is more traditional, but also more expensive. Your call.

***Full-fat canned coconut milk will separate when refrigerated. Chill the can, scoop fat from the top, and add enough of the milk to make a sauce with the consistency of a loose custard.

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For whatever reason, this post has me at a loss for how to  begin. I think it’s partially due to to complexity of the region at hand: the Caribbean Islands. Depending on how you look at it, it can seem like a wide array of prospects. To many, the first thing that may come to mind the serene beaches and palm trees, utterly ruined by hoards of hoaky vacationers. To others, a certain swashbuckling movie franchise may conjure images of adventure on the high seas. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Caribbean on several occasions in the past, largely from the boarding dock of a Carnival Cruise ship. Having spent my entire life in northern Vermont, it was a very otherworldly experience. Bright colors, ample sunshine, densely populated; It was almost entirely, but not completely, opposite of everything that I knew.

The first couple of trips, I was fairly young, I would say early teens. Whenever my dad got back from a tour in Afghanistan, we would take a cruise as a family for a week or so. Among the sights we saw, one thing that prevailed across every island we stopped at was the abundance of fruity, sweet, brightly colored liquor drinks. This is where my mom fell in love with Malibu coconut rum, and insisted that I loved it too (truthfully, even at 13 I thought it was nasty). On the islands, they were typically served in a short, clear plastic cup, but aboard the “Fun Ship”, they were served the way you imaging a fruity tropical drink to be served: a tall, curvy glass, with a little umbrella and a hunk of pineapple I’m pretty sure if you bought to cup the first time they would give you discount refills, probably so you’d forget how much money you blew in the casino. By and large, those are the kind of drinks you get in the Caribbean.

In a small shack on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas, one of the most iconic of these drinks, although probably one of the least known, developed in the early 1960’s.

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Photo Courtesy UncommonCaribbean

New Plymouth, which makes up the better part of the island, was originally settled in the 1800’s by travellers from New England. Almost smack-dab in the center, sits Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar. Adorned with tattered flags, postcards, and well-worn shirts, Miss Emily’s is a Bahamian institution, drawing travelers from across the world. While I’m sure you can get a variety of generic fruity drinks there, the Blue Bee is know for one thing and one thing only: The Goombay Smash. As the story goes, the drink was concocted by Miss Emily during a game of dominos. Likely for religious reasons, Miss Emily didn’t actually drink alcohol, so she had friends taste it and collective adopted the name Goombay Smash, after the style of music popular in the Bahamas.

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Photo Courtesy Rum Therapy

While the drink was an instant hit, the recipe has remained a family secret. Even today at the Blue Bee, the drink is never prepared to order, rather poured from a large jug. Violet, Miss Emily’s daughter, remains sole heir to the secret recipe, and has vaguely hinted at some of the ingredients that go into the classic drink: Coconut rum, various other types of rum, and pineapple juice. To me, that describes probably 90% of the drinks you can get in the area. After a good bit of Googling , my suspicions were confirmed. But during that research, the Goombay Smash turned up again in the last place I expected it to: right here in Vermont.

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Photo Courtesy Tripadvisor

In a town renowned for its ski resort, tropical drinks seem a bit out of place. However, the Goombay Smash sits prominently on the menu at Chalet Killington, and other bars in the snowy mountain town. First introduced by Bernie Pierce, a former bartender at the Chalet, little else in known about how the drink made it’s way to Vermont. If I had to place a wager, I would guess it’s due to seasonal work migration: When ski resorts die down in the summer, many employees pack off to places with better tourism, like the Caribbean.

In Vermont, the recipes maintain the shape you’d expect: rum, fruit juice, more rum, something sweet. In all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of this style of drink. They tend to be overly sweet, unbalanced, and boozy. But the history and tradition that the Goombay Smash was steeped in was too good for me to pass up, and I set out to make my own version.

The obvious starting place is the rum. The obvious starting place is the rum itself. In one regard, not much has changed in the past 11 years, and I still really dislike Malibu rum. To combat that, I tried my hand at infusing the rum myself.

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Coconut. White Rum. Not too difficult here. Two ingredients and time is all you really need to make your own version of the requisite spirit, minus all the sugar and artificial flavor. Combine the two and let steep in a cool, dark place for a about a week and you’re good to go. However, if you’re impatient like me, hot steeping is a quick fix: I vacuum sealed the two and steeped sous vide for about 2 hours. In hindsight, I wish I had waited. The coconut actually absorbed about 60% of the rum that went into it, so I was left with more rum-infused coconut than coconut-infused rum. The rum that it did yield also had a slick of coconut oil across the top, which I didn’t realize until after I had rebottled and cooled it, essentially corking the rum into the bottom of the bottle.

While I was in the DIY mood, I also made spiced rum, to a much high degree of success.

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This one is open to a little more interpretation, and can be built to suit your taste. Using amber rum as a base, I steeped it (again, sous vide) with vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, clove, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, orange peel and cardamom.

With our liquor in hand, we can start to build the cocktail.

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Among the various recipes online, a few ingredients appeared in nearly all of them: Pineapple, orange, apricot brandy. In the interest of making it more like a traditional Smash-style cocktail, I also added some thyme for a nice herbal flavor to contrast the fruit.

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In the bottom of a cocktail shaker. I muddle the pineapple and thyme with fresh apricot and molasses (another Caribbean staple, here standing in for dark rum). I went about 50-50 with the coconut rum and spiced rum, but this can again be adjusted for how you like your drink. Add a some orange juice, give it a good shake, and you’re ready to go.

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The result? My version of the Goombay Smash certainly looks the part of the fruity drinks tourists love to guzzle, but a little less sweet and a little more complex flavor profile. I could certainly see myself sitting beachside with a couple of these for the next 30 years and being totally fine with it.

Goombay Smash

makes 1 drink

  • Pineapple, chopped, about 1/4 cup
  • Apricot, chopped, about 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Thyme, 2 sprigs, plus more for garnish
  • Molasses, about 2 tablespoons
  • Coconut Rum, 2oz
  • Spiced Rum, 2oz
  • Orange Juice, 6oz
  • Ice, as needed

In the top of a cocktail shaker, muddle pineapple, apricot, thyme and molasses until juices are released. Add rums and juice, then fill the shaker with ice, then seal with the bottom shaker. Shake cocktail thoroughly, then strain into an iced glass. Garnish with thyme (optional).

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As the iconic government-issued infographic says, grains were once thought to be the mainstay of any healthy diet. However, more recent versions of the pyramid boast the benefits of a diet more balanced between fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains.  While highly processed grains and flours were once a sign of nobility and wealth, we’ve seen a trend in recent years towards cooking and eating whole grains. When less processed, grains retain more nutrients from the outer husks, thus making them better for you and easier to digest. We’re drawing near to the end of the 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge, and whole grains are the name of the game!

ricepudding

One of my favorite grains to cook, and one that is common in nearly all world cuisines, is rice. And as far a whole grain is concerned, nothing beats Forbidden Black Rice. Black rice contains an extra thick outer coating of bran, giving it the signature color and nutty flavor. Often called “forbidden” because it was once eaten solely by the ruling class of China, due to it’s rarity and high nutritional value, black rice has made it’s way into more mainstream cuisine throughout southeastern Asia. I’ve never cooked with the rice before, so I figured this week would be as good as any to try it out. Rice doesn’t make much of a dish on it’s own, unless you make some delicious rice pudding. Since black rice has the extra outer coating, it needs to be par cooked in water to soften the grain before the final cooking in coconut milk and sugar to create a rich, thick dessert. While it’s just as good cold or  room temperature, I like mine still warm from the pot. Perfect for the upcoming long, dark nights of winter.

Forbidden Black Rice Pudding

makes about 3 cups

  • Black rice, 1 cup
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon, divided
  • Sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Coconut Milk, full-fat, 1 can (15oz)

Combine rice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3 cups water in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, over low heat for about 45 minutes. Add sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and coconut milk, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until thick and creamy, about 30 minutes. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

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Colloquially, the term caramelization is used to refer to the browning of food; The “bake until golden brown and delicious” you’ll find littered on every third page of every cookbook written between 1974 and the present. Technically speaking, however, caramelization is only browning due to the cooking of sugars, as opposed to the browning of amino acids (proteins) like searings a steak or roasting a chicken, which is known as The Maillard Reaction. As wikipedia puts it, caramelization is a “complex, poorly understood process” . But anybody familiar to desserts or candy making will tell you that browning sugar creates a rich, nutty flavor that pairs well with nearly everything. It’s time to break out Grandad’s old candy jar for the 19th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge!

Most people are familiar with the standard uses of caramel for sweet applications: butterscotch, creme brulee or flan, or even topped on your favorite sundae. However, caramelized sugar can take on a totally contrasting flavor when used in savory applications. Caramelized, and in some cases burnt, sugar can bring out natural flavors of meat and fish and add a subtle roasted flavor without the longer cooking process. A perfect example of this idea is in the traditional Vietnamese dish Thit Heo Kho Trung.

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Thit Heo Kho Trung is a simple dish of pork, braised in caramel and coconut water and normally served with hard-boiled eggs. At the local Thai market, they sell these vacuum packages of pork and raw eggs and it always confused me as to what you could actually do with that, but now I think it may be for some kind of dish related to this. To make the caramel, sugar is combined with a little bit of water to moisten it, then cooked on high heat until it reaches a deep brown color. Adding pork, onions and garlic into the caramel begins to flavor the base and render fat out of the pork (similar to the way you may finish a caramel sauce with butter or cream). The main braising liquid consists of coconut water with a little fish sauce for that extra kick of umami that Asian cuisine is known for. The pork gets simmered until tender, then served up over rice, noodles, or just by itself. My original intention was to braise some bok choy in with the pork, but it slipped my mind at the grocery store and I ended up throwing some kale in. Hard boiled eggs are the traditional accompaniment to the pork, getting a quick simmer in the braising liquid to pick up some of the color and flavor of the caramel and pork. This dish wasn’t as sweet as I expected, but still had a rich caramel flavor; subtly enough to complement the other ingredients, but strong enough to let you know that it’s there. While an unusual combination, the hard boiled eggs made a very nice addition to the whole meal. Thit Heo Kho Trung is definitely going to be added to my dinner roster for my future day(s) off: Simple enough to make for one person but impressive enough to make for company, it could just as easily be made in a single morning (like I did) or thrown in a crock pot to cook overnight.

I would like to dedicate this post to the memory of my dear friend Mariah Woodward, who passed away in 2012 from chronic illness. Today would have been her 23rd birthday. Rest easy, Mariah.

Thit Heo Kho Trung, Vietnamese Caramel-Braised Por

makes about 2 servings

  • Granulated Sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Water, 1/2 cup
  • Pork shoulder, cut into 1″-2″ chunks, about 1 pound
  • Onion, thinly sliced, 1 each
  • Garlic, minced or crushed, 2 cloves
  • Coconut Water, about 16 fluid ounces
  • Fish Sauce, to taste
  • Kale, Bok Choy, or other vegetables, about 2 cups (optional)
  • Eggs, hard boiled, peeled, 2 each

In a medium sauce pot, combine sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar becomes a deep brown color, about 7 minutes. Add pork, onion and garlic, stirring to coat with caramel. Add coconut water and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until pork is tender, about 1 hour. 15 minutes before the pork is done, add vegetables (if using) and eggs, mixing to coat evenly with braising liquid. Serve hot over rice, noodles, or by itself.

 

 

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On a global scale, Australia is a relative newcomer. While native islanders have inhabited the country for nearly sixty thousand years, Australia only became an independent nation in 1901. At it’s deepest roots, Australian cuisine is known as Bushfood or Bush Tucker. Aboriginal tribes sustained themselves on local flora and fauna, such as fruits, berries, roots, and the iconic kangaroo. After European exploration of the land began, an era of colonization was ushered in, and with it, European culinary traditions. In that respect, Australian cuisine hasn’t changed very much in the past hundred or so years. Take a seat at any restaurant in Sydney and it would be hard not to noticed English, French, Italian and other European influences. The native cuisine isn’t far behind though. With some of the most vast coastlines in the world, Australia is home to a bounty of fish and seafood not found anywhere else in the world. I can’t claim that I know very much about traditional or modern Australian cuisine, although the country itself has fascinated me since childhood. I’ll admit that for the 10th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge, I took to the wikisphere to do some research. While kangaroo and alligator were a bit out of my reach, I found a classic dish that could also push me into the world of desserts that I’ve not explored thoroughly enough.

The humble Lamington is nearly as common of a dessert as you can find in Australia (or so I’ve read). So common, that they are akin to Girl Scout Cookies in America, often being sold a fundraisers dubbed “Lamington Drives”. A Lamington is a small square of yellow sponge cake that’s been dipped in chocolate and coated in finely ground coconut. The story goes that the delectable pastries are named after Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who held office as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, when Australian gained it’s independence. French-born chef Armand Galland, Lamington’s live-in chef, was asked to whip up a quick dessert for unexpected guests. Galland cut up leftover sponge cake from the day before, dipped it in chocolate and covered it in coconut. While coconut was not a common ingredient in French cuisine, Galland was familiar with it because his wife was Tahitian. Ironically, Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert bearing his name, referring to them as “those bloody, poofy, woolly biscuits”. The recipe seemed simple enough, and I’ve been meaning to work on my pastry skills lately, so I decided to give them a shot.

 lamingtons

This has to have been one of the most straightforward dishes I’ve made in a long time. Basic yellow cake batter, basic frosting, coconut. As long as you’re familiar with basic baking techniques, this recipe is a walk in the park. The final product: spongy, chocolatey, and delicious. Traditionally, Lamingtons are made with desiccated coconut. With that not being available, I opted for the regular, shredded variety. For anyone looking to add a quick, easy dessert to their arsenal, I would highly recommend trying this bit-sized Australian classic!

Lamingtons

makes about 2 dozen

Sponge Cake

  • All-Purpose Flour, 2 cups
  • Baking Powder, 2 teaspoons
  • Kosher Salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Butter, softened, 1/2 cup
  • Sugar, 3/4 cup
  • Eggs, 2 each
  • Vanilla Extract, 1 teaspoon
  • Whole Milk, 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar while mixing to cream together with butter. Add eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until evenly mixed. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk until both are completely incorporated. Grease and flour a 9×13 baking dish. Transfer batter to baking dish and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake at 350F until center is set, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool in the baking dish for about 10 minutes, then invert cake onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Chocolate Icing

  • Powdered Sugar, 4 cups
  • Dutch Process Cocoa Powder, 1/3 cup
  • Butter, 3 tablespoons
  • Whole Milk, 1/2 cup

Combine all ingredients over a double boiler. Heat over low heat until butter is melted and all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.

Assembly

  • Yellow Sponge Cake, from above
  • Chocolate Icing, from above
  • Shredded* Coconut, about 2 cups

Cut cake into 1-2 inch cubes. Working quickly, dip each piece of cake into chocolate icing, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and coat with coconut. Allow to set about 20 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container

*Desiccated coconut is dried, unsweetened, and finely ground coconut. If you can find it, feel free to use it in place of the shredded coconut.

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Vegan Food. Not exactly a phrase that makes many mouths water. Vegan food has gotten a bad rep in recent times, mostly because most vegans are assholes about the whole things. “Oh, YOU eat animal products? Well I guess you don’t care about the ENVIRONMENT. meh he he he.” What a jerk. In all actuality, some of your favorite foods are probably vegan without you even realizing it. Oreos. Oreos are vegan. Think about that.  My only main problem with veganism is cheaters. By cheaters, I mean those people who get soy-bacon and veggie cheese and, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, Tofurky. I actually saw Tofurky for the first time on an episode of Unwrapped on Food Network. The image of a tofu extrusion pipe, with a smaller pipe in the middle for stuffing, is probably one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen, and I’ve eaten the eyeball out of a braised goat head. I think that if you’re going to cut out animal products, you don’t get to cheat and get thinks flavored and shaped like animals. Tofurky? More like Tofu-ckyourself. Sorry, that was uncalled for. Anyway, for the 38th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge, I wanted something a little off the beaten path of veganism.

To stray away from the bad reputation of vegan food, my first thought was to make something incredibly unhealthy. Something like a big sloppy plate of nachos or poutine. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to recreate cheese in vegan form without it being totally gross. With that out of the question, I turned to another indulgent treat: Ice Cream. In 1904, the banana split was invented by David Strickler, a young apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy in Pennsylvania. At the time, it was common for pharmacies for also offer sodas and tonics, which then evolved into the soda fountain and then into ice cream parlors. To draw in local college students, Strickler offered a new sundae with three different flavors of ice cream and a variety of sweet toppings. Clearly, the sundae caught on and now entered into the lexicon of classic American cuisine.  You may think, where is he going with this? Ice cream clearly isn’t vegan. You’re right, it’s not. But it turns out that it’s fairly easy to make a coconut based ice cream that’s totally vegan friendly.

bananasplit

Sorry for the melty photo, it’s unseasonably warm out today.

Surprisingly, The ice cream itself was the only thing I had to swap out in order to make this classic dish vegan. Coconut milk, a little sugar, and whatever flavorings you want. If you have an ice cream maker, the rest is the same as the traditional method. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, like myself, it gets a little harder. The method that I have found to work the best is to make the base, freeze it for about an hour, blend it in a food processor or blender, and freeze for another hour. If you keep repeating this process, it breaks up the larger ice crystals that form in your base and gives it a much smoother texture once totally frozen. For my banana split, I went with the classic: Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry. Traditionally, the vanilla ice cream is topped with chocolate sauce, the chocolate ice cream with strawberry sauce, and the strawberry ice cream with pineapple sauce. As long as you use organic cane sugar, your sauces can all be vegan as well (in fact, regular Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup is already vegan friendly).  I topped my sundae with whipped coconut cream, pecans, and a maraschino cherry. I hate using the expression “If you didn’t tell me it was [blank] I would never have guessed!”. I think food should taste like itself and not be hidden away under a bunch of other crap to disguise it. However, I really wouldn’t have guessed that the ice cream was coconut based if I hadn’t made it myself. The flavors added into the base cover up most of the coconuttiness, and makes the whole thing taste just how you would expect it to. Who says vegan food can’t be totally indulgent and bad for you?

Coconut Ice Cream Base

makes about 1 pint

  • Coconut Milk, whole fat, 1 can (about 13 oz)
  • Organic Cane Sugar*, 1/2 cup
  • For Vanilla: Vanilla Extract, 2 teaspoons
  • For Chocolate: Cocoa Powder, 1/4 cup
  • For Strawberry: Strawberries, chopped, 1 cup

Combine coconut milk with sugar and flavoring of choice. Blend until thoroughly combined. Freeze in an ice creamer maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Ice Cream Topping

  • Water, 1/4 cup
  • Organic Cane Sugar*, 1/4 cup
  • Cocoa powder, diced strawberries, or diced pineapple, 1/4 cup

Combine sugar, water, and flavoring. Bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

*Normal white sugar is filtered through bone, making it non-vegan. Check different brands at your local store, but more organic cane sugar is vegan.

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