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Orange Coconut Cake

orange coconut cake

My maternal grandmother (Teta) made an incredible orange coconut cake. Sweet, moist, and fluffy, the old recipe sitting in my mother’s tattered red leather bound book, brought back nostalgic memories to my mothers eyes as she touched its pages. She read through the fading blue ink to make out the ingredients she must’ve frantically jotted down when she prepared to fly off to America with nothing but her mother’s recipes to awaken the Egyptian flavors she was leaving behind in Alexandria.

orange coconut cake

We recently came across this recipe as we were recreating the orange cake of my Egyptian aunts and grandmother for my last orange cranberry muffin recipe. I knew I had to remake this cake for my mother, who was very fondly reminiscing the flavors of her mothers’ orange coconut cake.  The hand-written recipe was quite washed-out, but we only had to perfect some measurements that became faded overtime. With my mother’s help, I revived and baked this cake for my family’s Thanksgiving gathering, and it was a very special treat to enjoy. I experimented with the recipe at least 10 times, and this one really delivers a fabulously sweet and citrusy orange cake with hints of coconut, topped with an orange caramel glaze!

fresh orange juice

orange zest

A fragrant zest is critical. Use the clean skin of an organic orange for best results. Zest the skin of the oranges with a sharp zester or grater, such as Microplane.

Fresh squeezed orange juice, fragrant orange zest, and finely shredded coconut flakes go into this cake along with coconut oil, olive oil, and milk for moisture. 

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It is really important to generously grease and flour the bundt pan, as the cake can easily get stuck. 

orange caramel orange caramel glaze

For the caramel, I start with a basic caramel by simmering sugar and water. I add orange zest, some butter, and powdered sugar to make it more like a glaze. The scent is so delectable, you will find it hard to resist licking the spoon before serving this up! To decorate the cake, I experimented both with simmering orange slices in the caramel, as well as browning the orange slices in butter or oil. Either way, be sure to top the cake with some lightly cooked oranges; its so beautiful, fragrant, and festive!

orange coconut cake with glaze

slice of cake orange cake slice

Orange Coconut Cake
From the archives of my Egyptian grandmother, this is a sweet and citrusy orange cake with hints of coconut, topped with an orange caramel glaze!!
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For the cake
  1. 2 .5 c flour
  2. 2 tbsp corn starch
  3. 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 1.5 tbsp orange zest
  7. 1 3/4 c sugar
  8. 1/4 coconut oil
  9. 1/2 olive oil
  10. 1 c orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  11. 2 tbsp milk
  12. 1 c shredded coconut, unsweetened, plus more for garnish
  13. optional: Orange slices to garnish
For the orange caramel glaze
  1. 3/4 c sugar
  2. 1/4 c water
  3. 1 tbsp corn syrup
  4. 1/4 c brown sugar
  5. 1 tbsp orange zest
  6. 1 tbsp orange juice
  7. 1/4 c heavy cream
  8. 1 tbsp powdered sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (f).
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and cornstarch.
  3. In another bowl, whip the eggs with vanilla extract and orange zest. Add the sugar, oils, and orange juice, and mix well.
  4. Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Add the milk to soften, without overmixing.
  5. Fold in the coconut.
  6. Pour the batter into a well greased bundt pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes on a rack moved right above the center rack.
For the orange caramel glaze
  1. Over medium-high heat, simmer the sugar, corn syrup, and water until it begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium low, then add the orange zest and orange juice.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and heavy cream; simmer for another 2 minutes.
  3. Simmer a few of the orange slices in the glaze for a minute to flavor the sauce and gently soften the oranges, then remove them quickly before they overcook and break apart.
  4. Remove the pot from heat. Add the powdered sugar with a sifter. Stir until incorporated and thickened. If necessary, add another tablespoon of powdered sugar to thicken. Keep in mind, the glaze will thicken more as it cools.
  5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes at room temperature before pouring over the cake.
  6. After the cake has cooled enough, flip onto a serving platter. Place the orange slices around the cake, and pour the glaze all over.
Notes
  1. You may also brown the orange slices in some butter, as this browned appearance looks beautifully rustic and tastes delicious.
Adapted from My Grandmother
Adapted from My Grandmother
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes

roasted sweet potatoes

These savory sweet potatoes are a quick and easy side for any meal. I served them up along my Thanksgivng turkey this year, and they were a big hit! The sweet potatoes wedges are tossed in my special mix of sultry and savory spices, and roasted to a delicious crisp. The cinnamon I use is a high quality organic ceylon cinnamon powder; it has a aromatic scent of spicy cinnamon and tastes superior to others I have tried. Ceylon cinnamon is also cleaner and safer, contrary to the cheaper cassia cinnamon on most local grocery store shelves. Cassia cinnamon may have a toxin within it that may effect the health of children and adults if consumed frequently. Read more about this here.  

peeling sweet potatoes

I have to mention this major tip I learned only recently because it is incredibly useful: use an actual potato peeler. It works like magic. If you have ever tried to peel or cut into a sweet potato, you know how tough it can be.  A $4 peeler is well worth it as the skin slides off like butter.

I combine cinnamon with savory onion powder, white pepper, salt, and black pepper which perfectly balances the sweet and spicy flavors of the cinnamon and the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are an ultra healthy root vegetable, with a high content in carotenoids (vitamin A), a wealth of antioxidants,  and other nutrients that reduce blood sugar levels. Additionally, the absorption of the nutrients is improved when sweet potatoes are consumed with a healthy amount of fat, such as olive oil.

chopped sweet potatoes

So eaten in moderation, this side dish is an excellent carbohydrate to add to your meals or snack repertoire and feel great about. Just be sure to use organic sweet potatoes because as a root vegetable, it would absorb a high concentration of toxins and chemicals from the soil, if it isn’t organic! 

roasted sweet potatoes
It is mandatory to roast these orange gems on a large flat dish-the more surface area the better because you get more of that roasted, browned, and slightly charred flavor. When the potatoes are layered upon each other, you will have less of that desirable crunchy and charred texture and more that is softened. Rest assured, either way it is delicious, but I would say that the crunchy, slightly charred and crispy pieces are everyone’s favorite part!

sweet potatoes

Laying out the sweet potato wedges or cubes in a larger baking sheet like this will yield crispier potatoes.

roasted sweet potatoes

peel the sweet potatoes

roasted sweet potatoes roasted sweet potatoes roasted sweet potatoes

Savory and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4
A crunchy sweet and aromatic side of potatoes, this recipe is the perfect addition to any meal.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 3-4 large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
  2. 3 tbsp of olive oil
  3. 2 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  5. 1/2 tsp white pepper
  6. 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  7. 1 tsp onion powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degree fahrenheit.
  2. With a large knife, slice the potatoes into 1 inch cubes, or wedges that are about 3/4 inch wide. The thicker the potato chunks, the longer it will take to cook and get crunchy. So this size is about perfect. If it is too small or thin, it will burn and get dry.
  3. Mix the olive oil and all the spices in a bowl.
  4. Toss the chopped potatoes in the bowl until well coated. Add extra oil if necessary.
  5. Spread the potatoes evenly on a large, flat pan, avoiding any overlapping.
  6. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and golden.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and remove from pan with a large spatula.
Notes
  1. Serve this along with your favorite steak, chicken, fish, or just as a delicious and healthy snack!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Green Bean Casserole

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No cans involved here! I have eaten and cooked this classic casserole made with Campbell’s canned condensed soups and canned green beans, and I did love it. However, as you may have noticed from my posts, I am avoiding use of any canned foods, preservatives, and unnecessarily long ingredient lists that cause who knows what in our bodies. Once you taste it fresh from scratch, with fresh mushrooms and green beans, you will never want to go back either! This is also incredibly easy.

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All you need is my easy recipe for cream of mushroom soup, some fresh or frozen green beans, and fried onions. I make the soup in advance, which you could do the day before and refrigerate or days before and freeze. This really simpiflies the process the day of. You can also fry the onions yourself (see how to do it in my kushary post), but I will not insult the tradition of this casserole dish and leave out the classic French’s friend onions! They kind of taste like potato chips- some flavors are just nostalgic and shouldn’t be messed with! I have always used French’s fried onions, but the past couple of years I used the fried onions from Trader Joe’s because they are a little “healthier” and taste just as good. Use what you prefer!

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Green Bean Casserole
Serves 6
A Thanksgiving classic dish, this from scratch recipe oozes creamy delicious mushrooms and green beans topped with crispy crunchy fried onions!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 recipe of my cream of mushroom soup (2 cups)
  2. 2 c fresh or frozen french green beans (washed and trimmed)
  3. 1 1/2 c fried onions
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour the washed and trimmed green beans into a casserole dish.
  3. Pour the mushroom soup over the green beans and mix well. Spread with a spoon into an even layer.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After about 20 minutes, take the dish out and stir in half of the onions. This will thicken the casserole. Place back in the oven, uncovered.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with crispy onions over the top and serve warm.
Notes
  1. You may also add shredded cheese over the top at the 20 minute mark, after stirring in the fried onions.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Better than Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry Chutney

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I absolutely LOVE this chutney on top of turkey or chicken. It is so flavorful and gives the meat wonderful depth. I use all fresh ingredients: cranberries, a fuji apple, freshly minced ginger, a caramelized onion, and apple cider. The flavors combine to make a sweet, tangy sauce adding the perfect kick to your Thanksgiving spread! The colors are really beautiful as well; I loved photographing it!

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 Cranberries are very healthy little gems full of nutrients. They are low in calories, packed with vitamin C, rich in fiber, and are one of the best food sources for disease fighting antioxidants. So they should be slipped into as many foods as you can! Use the extra cranberries to make a cranberry ginger smoothie, topping on a salad, apple cranberry crisp pie, or a cranberry jam.

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I used spiced apple cider from Trader Joe’s which surely added some extra boost of flavor because of all the spices, and it certainly made the sauce smell amazing !I think a fuji apple is necessary because when cooked it really maintains it juicy sweetness. I’ve tried this recipe several times before with different apples, with oranges, with orange juice and they were all too tart. Fresh cranberries are quite tart so you really need to balance it out with sweetness. This sauce really perfect that sweet and tangy balance. I only share with you my best and perfected recipes! The special flavor in here that makes people wonder “what is in here?!” is a dash of apple cider vinegar. Yes, I always avoided the stuff simply because of its smell, but it really gives the sauce exactly what it needs! Apple cider vinegar also has quite a bit of health benefits! It has long been touted as a great dietary supplement for weight loss and detoxifying the body, and some studies indicate benefits in reducing blood glucose levels which is essential for diabetics, lowering cholesterol, and even killing cancer cells!

Back to the chutney; it is actually very quick and easy and can even be made a day in advance. First, you sauté and caramelize the onion and shallot. Once the onions turn translucent and start to brown, add the cranberries, fresh ginger,  sugar, chopped apple, and cider. I add a few spices and turn down the heat once it boils to let it simmer and reduce down into a nice, thick, red sauce. 

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Serve in a bowl with a ladle so that everyone can help themselves or drizzle on top of the meat if you are plating the food.

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Cranberry Chutney
A sweet and tangy cranberry and apple chutney that adds juicy flavor to your turkey!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c sliced onion
  2. 1 tbsp diced shallot
  3. 2 cups fresh cranberries
  4. 1/3 c brown sugar
  5. 1 tbsp white sugar
  6. 1 medium fuji apple, peeled and diced
  7. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  8. 1 c apple cider or apple juice
  9. 1/4 tsp all spice
  10. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  11. 1/4 tsp fresh minced ginger
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, sauté the onions and shallots until soft.
  2. When the onions start to brown, add the apples, ginger, cranberries, brown sugar and apple juice. Stir well.
  3. Add the apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced to a thick red sauce.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Citrus Herb Turkey

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The biggest food day of the year is just around the corner. Chefs and newbies everywhere are rolling up their sleeves to prepare a delicious (we hope!) roast of turkey to set on the table. With this fool proof recipe, you are sure to satisfy all and enjoy a delicious and JUICY turkey this Thanksgiving.

The first step is to brine the turkey the day before. This not only serves as an essential marinade, but it helps infuse this big lean bird with plenty extra liquids so that as it cooks, you are not drying out the tender meat. This leaves you with a nice moist turkey that even your pickiest eaters will love! Check out my easy brine recipe here!

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Once you wash the turkey of the salty brine solution, you will prepare a delicious lemon garlic juice to pour all over the turkey, similar to my lemon herb roast chicken. I also fill the turkey with a couple of lemons, rosemary, and thyme and cover it with small bits of butter all over. It is important to use FRESH rosemary and thyme because it is full of the flavorful and scented oils. The dried herbs, are well, DRY. So not nearly as much lovely oils to perfume and flavor your meat. I made my stuffing in a separate casserole dish, but still used the turkey drippings to cook it. The turkey can come out of the oven sooner if its not stuffed, which will help prevent over cooking the meat.

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As the turkey roasts, baste it with its juices every 1 1/2-2 hours. If you have a larger 20 lb turkey, like I did, it will take a good 5-6 hours to roast, so be sure to put it in the oven early! Check out average roast times on this helpful chart here.

Once the turkey is done, you will need to let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving. We have yet to master the carving part- so no pictures of that disaster haha! I also had a crowd of hungry people with their eyes “feasting” on this gorgeous roast, so could not take much time to photograph! 

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Serve with cranberry sauce and gravy! Stay tuned for my scratch recipes for gravy, cranberry chutney, green bean casserole, and stuffing to DIE for! Posting live 11/26/13!

Citrus Herb Turkey
A citrus herb turkey that is flavorful, juicy, and tender!
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Prep Time
24 hr 10 min
Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Total Time
30 hr
Prep Time
24 hr 10 min
Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Total Time
30 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 lemons, juiced
  2. 1 lemon cut in half
  3. 2 tbsp minced garlic
  4. 1 tbsp salt
  5. pepper
  6. 1/4 c olive oil
  7. 2 tbsp fresh thyme + whole sprigs
  8. 2 tbsp fresh rosemary + whole sprigs
  9. 1/2 stick butter, cut into 10 slices
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the turkey clear of the brine solution and pat dry.
  3. Place the turkey in the roasting pan.
  4. Combine the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and olive oil and stir well.
  5. Rub the turkey with salt and pepper liberally. Place pieces of butter all over the turkey, including underneath the turkey breast's skin.
  6. Pour the lemon marinade all over the bird and under the skin.
  7. Place the whole sliced lemons inside the turkey cavity, along with any extra sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
  8. Tie the legs together with cotton string.
  9. Cover loosely with foil and roast for 4-6 hours, depending on turkey's weight.
  10. Every hour or two, remove the turkey, close oven door to maintain interior temperature, and baste the turkey by pouring the turkey juices all over the top. Place back into oven to continue to roast.
Notes
  1. Prep time includes a 24 hour brine period the day before. Cook time varies depending on the weight of your turkey. Please check cook times for your bird's weight, as well as checking internal temperature with a meat thermometer.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

How to brine a turkey

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If you have not been bringing your turkey, then you are really missing out on some juicy goodness! I have had far too many dry turkeys and even started to dislike turkey because of this. I decided to brine and cook a turkey this year and I am SO glad that I did! I love marinating all my meats, so why not my turkey?! If the concept seems daunting, fear not because it is actually quite easy! Brining is quite important because as with any meat, cooking denatures the proteins, causing it to become drier. With especially lean meat such as turkey, that requires such long cook times, that leaves room for a lot more drying out. With brining however, you are soaking the meat in a salt solution which causes the turkey meat to essentially absorb a lot more liquid so that when it cooks, it is losing much less moisture lending itself to a juicy, tender, and tasty bite! Read more about the science behind brining and how it works here.

So how do you prepare a delicious brine? Here is how it happens step by step. I made a citrusy rosemary brine, which smelled incredible. In my trial, I was using a huge 20 lb turkey so I did need some help from my husband at one point to hold the brining bag open and then to carry it into the fridge. I’m a little weak. Nonetheless, the big bird still fit on one single shelf in my regular sized refrigerator. Beware of using a frozen, Kosher, or pre-marinated turkey as these will likely already be prepared in a brined solution so the meat has already been “broken down” and possibly already quite salty! I used a fresh turkey that was slaughtered the day I bought it; you cannot get fresher than that! (Visit taaza2u.com for fresh, halal meats delivered to your door!)

 

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You will need:

1-2 gallons of water (16 cups in a gallon)

brining bag (found near the meat section of your grocer, or try Reynolds oven bags) be careful about using trash bags or other plastics that are not BPA free or food grade plastic!

kosher salt (its larger crystals dissolve faster than table salt)

sugar

your favorite herbs and spices

First you need to wash the turkey in cold water and remove the giblets. 

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Next you will boil about 8 cups of water with 2 cups of salt and 2 cups of sugar, along with the herbs and spices. I used peppercorns, orange rinds, sliced lemons, sliced onions, salt, rosemary and thyme. Once the salt is dissolved, add about 10 more cups of cold water, and a few of cups of ice to cool the mixture. 

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Place the turkey in the bringing bag and pour the solution all over it. Seal it tightly, removing any extra air, and place the bag in a large aluminum tray. Refrigerate for about 24 hours, turning the turkey over after about 12 hours to ensure the breast is well covered too.

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The next day, before roasting, wash the turkey well and pat dry. Now it is ready for you to season and roast! Happy brining!

Turkey Brine
an easy brine solution to make a perfectly juicy, tender, and moist turkey!
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Prep Time
24 hr
Total Time
24 hr
Prep Time
24 hr
Total Time
24 hr
Ingredients
  1. one fresh (not frozen) turkey
  2. 1-2 gallons of water
  3. 2 cups kosher salt
  4. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  5. 2 tbsp peppercorns
  6. 2 tbsp cardamom (ground or whole)
  7. the rind of 2 oranges
  8. 2 lemons, sliced
  9. 2 onions, sliced
  10. 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  11. 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  12. brining bag
Instructions
  1. Remove giblets and any excess skin. Wash the turkey well and pat dry.
  2. Boil 8 cups of water and dissolve the salt and sugar.
  3. Add the lemon, orange, onion, peppercorns, cardamom, and fresh rosemary and thyme. Stir.
  4. Once the salt is dissolved, remove the pot from heat and add about 12 more cups of cold water and ice.
  5. Place the turkey in a brining bag and pour the brine solution all over.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the turkey over half way through.
  7. The next day, before roasting, remove the turkey and wash well to remove excess salt.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/