Date Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m nearly fully convinced that peanut butter is the most amazing thing there is.  It goes with pretty much anything.

Peanut butter and jelly. A classic.

Peanut butter on celery, pretty much the only thing that makes celery palatable.

Peanut butter and chocolate.  Divine.

Peanut butter and banana. Mouth-watering.

These are pretty much the basics.  But my newest obsession: peanut butter and dates. Words can’t even describe…

Even better, peanut butter + dates + chocolate.  A guaranteed winning combo.

Give it a try, in cookie form that is.

Date Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add flours, baking soda and salt and mix until almost combined.  Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts and dates, careful to not overmix.

Place golf ball sized amounts of dough on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Cool on a cooling rack.  Serve and enjoy! Makes about 24 cookies.


Coconut Cupcakes

On Saturday mornings, my boyfriend sometimes takes me on a hot date… to the swap meet.  What can I say, we’re classy like that.  Clearly by “hot” I mean it’s literally warm out.

He likes to get an enormous tejuino.

I like to get an enormous cup of mixed fruit, which I proceed to douse in lime and chili.   In my mixed fruit cup, there’s always cucumber, pineapple, watermelon and fresh coconut.  The only reason I get the mixed fruit and not the delicious mango covered in chili and lime is that I absolutely love coconut.

I pretty much like anything that’s coconut flavored but you can’t beat the taste of real, fresh coconut.  So next time you feel the need for a coconut treat I recommend going to the swap meet at OCC (if you live in Orange County), but if not, make these:

No extracts.  Just the real stuff.

Coconut Cupcakes

adapted from Epicurious

For Reduced Coconut Milk:

2 cans coconut milk (to be reduced)

For Cupcakes:

2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature (3/4 cup)
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk

For Frosting:

1 Stick of Butter, Room Temperature
4 oz cream cheese
3 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp reduced Coconut milk

In a deep saucepan, bring 2 cans of coconut to a boil.  Simmer about 30-40 minutes until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups liquid.  Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Then blend in vanilla extract.  Add dry ingredients, beat until just combined.  Beat in coconut milk.  Pour batter into 18-20 lined cupcake pan.  Bake 18-20 mins (depending on your oven this will vary).  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

Next make the frosting. Beat together all the frosting ingredients.  Gradually add in coconut milk until you get the right consistency.

Frost and garnish with extra flaked coconut.

Serve and enjoy!

The coconut flavor is light and delicate, but most definitely there.  So when you need your coconut fix, give these a whirl.

They’re probably easier to make than cracking open a coconut or searching for a swap meet… just sayin’.

Homemade Sushi and an Ethnic Food Rant

One of my biggest pet peeves in the food blog world is the cultural expert, who “knows” more about your culture’s food than you do.

Let me explain.

In the food blog world, we like to be adventurous in our culinary pursuits.  We want our blogs to be original and yum-inspiring.  A lot of times, that translates to some representation of ethnic cuisine that we hope no one has ever heard of and will be amazed by.    I say “we” because I’m just as guilty as any other blogger.  As a foodie and someone who studied international development for years, you can imagine how appealing exotic cuisines are to me.

But then one day a few months back, I was reading a blog while sipping my morning coffee.  As I read the blog post (featuring a recipe for arroz con pollo), my blood started to boil.

I won’t mention who wrote the post (I considered sharing a link but right now have decided against it) but the basic gist was that she grew up in Florida where she was surrounded by good Cuban food then moved to California and “was instantly homesick for good, authentic Latin American food.”

My question was who is she (a white woman) to know what “authentic” Latin American food is and how can California, full of Latin American immigrant communities, not have “good, authentic” Latin American food?  Don’t even get me started on all the racist undertones of the comments.

So you’re probably thinking I over-reacted.  In truth, I probably did, but as someone whose identity is so closely tied to being Latin American/Guatemalan, it made me think about the food blog world, documenting culinary traditions and what makes something authentic. Here a white woman who has an outsider’s superficial view of Latin American culture is telling hundred of people what “authentic” Latin American food is.

I’m not 100% okay with that.  In fact, it bothers me a lot, because for me food is so deeply tied to culture.  Not to mention food blogs are increasingly replacing cookbooks as a resource for knowledge of a variety of cuisines.  I mean how many times have you actually looked up a recipe in a book when you could quickly google it?

This isn’t to say that we as bloggers or people can’t make food from other cultures and share our experiences.  No no, I think trying new things is great.  But my hesitation comes when someone claims to represent an entire diverse culture that they know very little about.

The point of all this, is that this past weekend I attempted to make sushi.

I’m not going to tell you how to make sushi.  I probably did it all wrong.  It tasted good, and we (Guatemalan me and my Mexican boyfriend) had fun making it, but honestly we probably did it all wrong.  So I’ll spare you and won’t pretend to know it all.

Instead I’ll just share pictures, keep this from turning into an essay for an ethnic studies class and ask what you think?

What makes something authentic? Are food blogs changing the way ethnic foods are documented?  Do we have a responsibility to document that which is culturally “authentic?”  Other ideas?