Our resident produce authority, Robert Schueller (The Prince of Produce) of Melissa’s, joins us with a special report. Robert was a featured speaker at the recent Produce Marketing Association – Fresh Summit Expo annual gathering at the Anaheim Convention Center. It’s the largest produce show held in the United States. His topic was Produce Trends. Robert provides us with the intriguing highlights including the Organic EZ Open Sweet Young Coconut.
“Baker to the Stars” Mani Niall is fondly remembered for the groundbreaking Mani’s Bakery in Los Angeles launched in 1989. For the last 6 years he’s been the proprietor of Sweet Bar Bakery in Oakland which he sold last year.
For the last month he was the chef in residence at Playa Viva in Guerrero, Mexico. Playa Viva is an eco-luxury boutique hotel and treehouse resort with their own farm. They also source cacao from a neighboring farmer.
Mani provides some learned tips from Playa Viva on the prime havesting stage of coconuts for different purposes. Young coconuts are best for premium coconut water. On the other hand when you need to use the coconut for its meat an older coconut is in order.
We continue baking with Chef Mani of Mani’s Test Kitchen.
by Tess Masters
The Blender Girl
Blend, freeze, slice, and scarf. That’s how easy this cake is! Once you have your cashews soaked (essential for a righteously creamy consistency), this decadent dessert takes less than 15 minutes to put together. It looks and tastes just like dairy-drenched cheesecake, but my family and friends tell me they crave this more than the conventional kind. Add the lemon and poppy seeds for an awesome twist and a drizzle of strawberry sauce to up the indulgence.
Makes 10 Slices
1 cup (160g) raw whole almonds
1 cup (170g) firmly packed chopped pitted dates, plus more as needed
¾ cup (180ml) coconut oil (in liquid form)
½ cup (120ml) full-fat canned coconut milk (shake, then pour)
½ cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
½ cup (120ml) pure maple syrup
3 cups (420g) raw unsalted cashews, soaked
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
Pinch of natural salt
Coconut Cream, to serve (optional)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more to taste and garnish
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Sweet Strawberry Sauce, to serve
To make the crust, grease a 9- or 10-inch (23 or 25cm) springform pan with coconut oil.
Process the almonds and dates in a food processor until the mixture is well combined and clumps together. Form the mixture into a ball; if it doesn’t hold together, you may need to add a bit more chopped date and process again. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.
To make the filling, throw all of the ingredients into your blender in the order listed, including the lemon zest booster, and blend for about 1 minute, until rich and creamy. To achieve the smoothest filling, stop the machine periodically and scrape down the sides of the container. Add the poppy seed booster once the filling is completely blended, and then blast for just a few seconds to combine. Pour the filling into the crust. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and freeze the cheesecake for 6 to 8 hours, until solidified.
To serve, transfer the pan from the freezer to the fridge and defrost for about 30 minutes. Gently release and remove the sides of the springform pan, and then cut the cheesecake into 10 even slices with a very sharp knife. Keeping the slices together on the springform pan bottom, return the cheesecake to the fridge to continue defrosting for another 30 minutes before serving. Serve the slices plain or drizzle each one with 2 tablespoons of the Sweet Strawberry Sauce booster and top with a dollop of the Coconut Cream. Pass remaining strawberry sauce and coconut cream at the table.
Note: Because of the coconut oil, this filling will melt if left out at room temperature.
nutritional facts (per serving, based on 10 servings)
calories 594 kcal | fat 45.2 g | saturated fat 20.2 g | sodium 38 mg | carbs 44.8 g | fiber 5 g | sugars 28 g | protein 11.8 g | calcium 91.8 mg | iron 4 mg
Sweet Strawberry Sauce
This quick, easy sauce is like a little black dress. It complements almost any dessert without upstaging it, fits into any menu, and never goes out of style. Best of all, it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. Enjoy it over ice cream, cakes, or pies. Try it drizzled over this Classic Cheesecake. Depending on the quality of your berries and your preference, tweak the lemon juice to taste. With well-ripened fruit, I reduce the dates to a third of a cup. But a half cup typically hits the sweet spot. For a sensational sauce, boost with the Grand Marnier, ginger, and vanilla.
Makes 2 Cups (480ML)
¼ cup (60ml) raw coconut water or filtered water
½ cup (85g) firmly packed pitted dates, soaked
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
Pinch of natural salt
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon natural vanilla extract
Throw everything into your blender, including any of the boosters, and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth. Tweak the dates, lemon juice, and ginger to taste. This sauce will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.
nutritional facts (per serving, based on 16 servings)
calories 20 kcal | fat 0.1 g | saturated fat 0 g | sodium 18.6 mg | carbs 5.5 g | fiber 0.7 g | sugars 4.5 g | protein 0.2 g | calcium 6.6 mg | iron 0.1 mg
What’s new, fresh and exciting in the world of Summer fruits and vegetables? Glad you asked. Joining us for an update is our resident Produce authority, Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce.
Melissa’s Jackfruit is the world’s largest tree fruit, averaging between 15 and 33 pounds per fruit. This large fruit grows directly out of the trunk or branches. The exterior of the Jackfruit is covered with spiny, knobby bumps and is green in color.
As the fruit ripens the skin turns to a yellow color and is very fragrant. The pink or yellow flesh is best when eaten fresh with hints of mango and melon.
Jackfruit can also be enjoyed unripe, cooked in various recipes. The flesh of the Jackfruit can be used in desserts, as well. This soft, flaky, sweet fruit can be a delight for any meal. The many seeds in the Jackfruit are sensational when roasted, similar to a chestnut in flavor. Refrigerate Melissa’s Jackfruit. Choose Jackfruit with a strong fragrance and a deep yellow color.
Coconut Hearts are harvested before the meat is fully developed. At this stage, the water inside is at its prime, delicious, refreshing flavor. After you enjoy the coconut water you can cut the tender meat to make a perfect tropical snack. Coconuts are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Coconut nourishes the skin as well as boosts metabolism. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes and potassium, making it a much healthier alternative to sports drinks that contain artificial sugars or color.
Hatch Chile season is upon us around August 9th. Check the Melissa’s Web site for the schedule of Weekend roastings around Southern California at your favorite food emporium.