Saturday, May 2, 2009

A heart to heart and some Flambeed Pineapple and Coconut Cakes

I had a conversation a couple of days with someone about running a food blog. The biggest issue I think for most food bloggers is being able to find time in the middle of a hectic day. This is especially true for those without all the fancy studio lighting - you have to be at home in the middle of the day just to get a half decent photograph. I usually try to get to school early, work like crazy and take off at 3.30pm so I can catch the last glimmer of light. I'm really anal about making sure I finish work before I leave though, and lately that has gotten quite irksome and tedious.

The one thing I've noticed about successful blogs like The Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen, Tartelette, etc. etc. is that most of them either work from home or live a life where they are supposed to cooking all the time. They're all chefs, food writers or stay-at-home photographers. It can get quite disheartening after a while especially if you're trying to match your point-and-shoot with the cameras that these bloggers have that can trace Martian life and pick up radar pulses from the next galaxy.

I run a food blog because I love cooking and eating, I love having things come out of the oven and being able to look at it like an incredible achievement (I HATE baking bread because it takes too damn long!). It makes me happy when people tell me they like my cooking, or better yet, when they tell me my personal recipes are their favourites. Does that make me shallow and selfish in some way? Perhaps, but then I'm happy when the people I'm feeding are happy. And if I dare say, about 80% of the time think I am able to make a given recipe a whole lot healthier without compromising on taste (take that, Ina Garten!).

So why do you run a food blog? I think it's an interesting discussion and I would like to know why you do what you do!

In the meantime, enjoy a cautionary video of me trying hard not to burn down the house (and the dog) while making flambeed pineapples! May include some profanity and a barking dog. No animals or fingers were hurt in the making of this video.

Flambeed Pineapple and Coconut Cakes
Makes about 24 little coconut cakes, 4 servings
Adapted from The Organic Seasonal Cookbook

For the coconut cakes
3 oz. (about 2 cups) unsweetened coconut flakes (I used a reduced fat kind from Whole Foods)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick butter (vegan option, use Earth Balance or Saffola), melted and cooled slightly
1 egg, beaten

For the flambeed pineapples
1 tbsp butter
2 15 oz. cans of pineapple chunks in juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Carribean rum or light rum

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut and sugar. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter, stirring to combine. Add in the beaten egg and use a spatula to mix together the ingredients.

Use a dariole mold or a shot glass (I used a 2cl jigger!) to mold the coconut mixture into little pyramids on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes until the coconut cakes are browned.

To make the flambeed pineapples, melt the butter in a stainless steel or cast iron pan. Strain the pineapple chunks to discard the juice and saute the chunks over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add in the sugar and cook for another 4 minutes until the pineapples start to caramelize and are soft but not mushy. Pour in the rum and give the pan a quick shake, and set the rum alight (Be careful here! Please remember to stand back from the flames and don't attempt this if you're not quick!).

Serve with the little coconut cakes and vanilla ice cream when the flames have died down.


Beatrice said...

Haha!!! The video of you trying to set fire to the pineapples was so funny. It brightened my morning.

I'm going to try and make flambee'ed pineapples now. Maybe I can video it because I'm positive it'll take me about half a box of matches just to get the nerves to move the flame close to the pan, haha.

Kirby! said...

Those little cakes look really tasty. But I have to say that video scared the crap out of me!! I was like, "Her arm is going to CATCH ON FIRE!!" Flambeeing fruit it so good, but I am too much of a wimp to try it myself.

Amanda said...

@Kirby!: Yeah I must remember to buy longer matches next time. I just thought it's a good lesson to be learnt! :D

lgk said...

Food blogging for me is about following my passions, a promise I made to myself this year. I'm striving for community, learning more and more about food and even photography, but it's all a process. One of the first lessons I learned is not to compare myself to others, just to do the best I can.

I'm in grad school, I work 2-3 jobs and have a boyfriend, family, cat and friends who desire me and some of my time. Don't I wish I could parlay blogging into a full time food-centered profession? Sure! Will it happen? Who is to say? Day at a time and all that.

Best of luck.

Amanda said...

lgk: thanks for your input. learning not to be envious is one of the hardest things in life! and it's especially true when you're in a grad school and there's no end in sight, with the mile high workload and the measly pay.

Anonymous said...

Your video was hilarious. I found your blog by googling flambeed pineapple, as I wanted to attempt it myself and was looking for ideas. I must've added FAR more rum than you did, as my flames were over a foot high, nearly scorching my microwave. I was screaming in the kitchen as I did it, but the pineapples were fantastic. I served over macadamia crusted mahi with a side of roasted corn.