coconut sweet potato soup with thai pesto

April 24, 2013 § 12 Comments

There are few things more enjoyable than get togethers with friends and family.  This morning I read a book review for a newly published cookbook and without a doubt the book is spectacular.  I read a profound quote from the author.  He said, his book comes at a time “when home cooking is quickly vanishing from our homes.  Americans typically devote a mere 27 minutes a day to preparing meals, with four more minute for cleanup.”   This is astounding.   Why and how did our culture come to this?   My hope is we can get back to the basic values of family and the importance of gathering around the table everyday for a soul nourishing home cooked meal.


This soup is such a pleaser you could confidently serve it for your guests, but make sure you made enough!  The texture of the soup is velvety and creamy.  The thai pesto complement adds a spicy, herbal, subtle nutty crunch, assuredly to bring a sigh of  food bliss.


  •  3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups coconut milk

Thai pesto

  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, lightly toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 green chili, seeded and chopped (I used serrano)
  • a large handful cilantro
  • a large handful mint
  • a large handful basil
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the sweet potato and onion and cook for 15 minutes, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and just starting to turn golden.

Increase the heat to high and add curry paste.  Stir until sweet potatoes are well coated. Continue to cook for a few minutes until fragrant.  Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer.  Once the potatoes are tender use a hand blender and whizz the soup until creamy and smooth.  If you are not using an hand blender, transfer the mixture to a blender and carefully whizz until smooth.

To make the pesto

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whizz until you have a chunky paste and the ingredients are all evenly chopped.  If you are not using a food processor, finely chop all ingredients, place in a bowl. Add Thai fish sauce, lime and brown sugar and mix well.

Ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls and serve right away.  Top with a generous spoonful of thai pesto.  I place the leftover pesto on the table.  You’ll be going back for more!

Serves 4

buon appetite.

carrot cake with coconut cream cheese frosting

March 16, 2013 § 13 Comments

We had a birthday in our house!  Two weeks ago, our boy turned 15 years old!  After pressing him over and over regarding what kind of cake he would like, he asked for a carrot cake.  I was delighted!  I knew exactly where to acquire the perfect carrot cake recipe. My employer. She is a fabulous baker!  She shared a recipe she has been perfecting for years.  It is dated 2003 and I think the recipe originally came from Bon Appetite. She took a few ingredients out and added a few in.  Here it is.  Perfect coconut cream cheese frosted carrot cake.

Also…Happy Birthday to my sister today!


This cake can be prepared one day ahead.

Sweetened cream of coconut is available in the liquor section of most supermarkets. (think, pina colada)


  •  2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated peeled carrots
  • 1 cup apple sauce


  •  3  8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) coconut extract

For Cake: Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch high sides.  Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.  Combine 1/3 cup flour and flaked coconut in processor.  Process until finely combined.  Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda in medium bowl to blend.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Beat in flour-spice mixture.  Stir in coconut mixture, then carrots.

Divide batter among pans.  Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 1 hour.  Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes.  Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For Frosting:  Beat cream cheese and butter in large owl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and both extracts.  Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter.  Spread 3/4 cup frosting over top of cake.  Top with second cake layer, flat side up.  Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Top with third cake layer, rounded side up, pressing slightly to adhere.  Spread think layer of frosting over top and sides of cake.

Here’s where I tried something I’ve never done before…

I attached one mixer head to my electric mixer.  Turned it on and very lightly touched the top of the frosting to give it a swirly effect!  I was very careful not to put too much pressure on the cake.

Can be made a one day ahead.  cover with cake dome and chill.  Let stand at room temperature one hour before serving.

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