Thursday, August 17, 2017

Raspberry Turnovers

I never realized that raspberry seeds are annoying. Unless I kinda thought about it but the idea of eating sweet, tart and juicy raspberries was too awesome for me to pay much attention to the seeds.

It wasn't until recently that I learned that some people might actually avoid raspberries simply because of these tiny innocent seeds despite the incredible treasure that these berries are.

I, for one, embrace the seeds for the juice around them is sufficiently worth it.

Seeds don't bother me in jam, nor in pie and it certainly doesn't bother me in these off-the-charts raspberry turnovers!

Things with seeds that DO bother me:
   prickly pears (the worst!)

Let's recap something here... Pastry is easy! Don't glaze over this because you need cold butter and cold fingers and maybe a special pastry cutter tool (you don't need the tool!).

This is doable, 100%. Plus, it's summer so your butter is already in the fridge anyways.
Therefore Step 1 = complete.

Making pastry often scares people because it sometimes starts with rules. Don't think of them as so and you'll be ok. Just follow the steps and believe me, they are straight forward.

Steps to making flaky pastry:

1. Cut cold butter into small cubes.

2. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.

3. Add cold butter cubes and toss in the flour.

4. Using both hands, press the butter between your thumbs and forefinger + middle finger to break it up into small bits about the size of small peas and flatten some pieces out too.

5. Grab a fork and gently toss the mixture while you sprinkle in ice cold water just until the mixture starts to hold together in clumps but doesn't get soggy.

6. Press it all into a ball, turninig it over onto itself one or two times if necessary, and then flatten into a disc.

7. Wrap with plastic and chill at least 2 hours.

Making the raspberry filling couldn't be simpler and you can do it right after making the pastry since it needs time to cool and chill.

Add your fresh or frozen raspberries to a saucepan over medium low heat. Cover the pot and leave for 3-5 minutes until they release their juices and bubble. Stir in sugar and let boil for 10-15 minutes with frequent stirring until it thickens, looks glossy and resembles jam. You should be able to see the bottom of the pan if you scrape along it with a wooden spoon. Stir in lemon juice, bubble for a few more minutes and then pour into a bowl to cool completely.

Once cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If you were to use it like this, the moisture in the berries would create steam in the oven and cause the pastries to puff up excessively leaving you with big empty cavities and juice leakage.

To correct this, you need a very unique ingredient. Ready for this? I'm not sure you can find it locally... but you need FLOUR. Regular all-purpose wheat flour! Crazy. It does the best job at binding the moisture and creating a thick, almost pulpy texture instead of corn starch which is more sensitive to heat and leaves a more gloopy texture. Gloopy is the technical term us professionals use.

Two options for baking:
1. Now
2. Later

If you bake them all off now, then they will keep for 7 days in an airtight container so you can enjoy them all week long for breakfast and snack. To get back that crisp flakiness, pop it in the toaster or toaster oven and then let it cool for a couple of minutes before going at it. As good as fresh! Promise.

If you don't want to bake them all now, then freeze them individually filled and sealed on a tray like in the pictures above and below, then gather them into a freezer bag or container and keep them frozen for up to 3 months. To bake them off, put them in a preheated oven straight from frozen and give them an additional 1 or 2 minutes.

Pastry fears no one.
You fear no pastry.

Big Love,

Raspberry Turnovers
Makes about 20 little turnovers

For the pastry:
1 ½ cups (215g) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (40g) granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (125g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3-4 tbsp (45-60ml) ice cold water

For the filling:
10 oz (300g) fresh or frozen raspberries
1/3-½ cup (65-100g) granulated sugar (depending on how sweet your berries are)
1 tbsp (15ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp (6g) all-purpose flour

For the topping:
2 tbsp (30ml) whole milk or light cream
1 tbsp (12g) coarse sanding sugar

To make the pastry, whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold pieces of butter and toss in flour mixture to coat. Use your fingertips to rub fat into flour until it resembles a coarse, crumbly mixture. There should be pieces of butter that are the size of oat flakes and some larger pieces the size of peas. Slowly drizzle cold water over flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time, while gently tossing with a fork until the flour is moistened and it holds together in clumps. You may not need all of the water. The dough will hold together when squeezed or pressed when it is ready, but it should not form a ball. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and bring it together with your hands, pressing in loose bits. You should be able to see solid bits of fat in the dough. Press it into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To make the filling, place raspberries in a small 1-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes until they release their juices and look soupy. Stir in sugar, bring the mixture to a low boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes longer, uncovered and stirring frequently. Stir in lemon juice, cover and simmer until thick, about 5 minutes longer. Set aside to cool completely and then refrigerate for about 1 hour, until completely set. This filling can be made a day or two in advance.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Trim edges to make straight sides. Slice it into 3-inch squares or 3x2.5-inch rectangles. Carefully transfer these shapes to your prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps of both halves and re-roll to create more squares or rectangles.

Stir 2 teaspoons of flour into the cooled raspberry filling. Spoon a teaspoon of this mixture onto the center of half of the dough shapes so that it is slightly heaped. Make sure not to over-fill them and leave about ¼-inch border. Fold the dough over to cover the filling and press gently around the edges to seal slightly. Use the tines of a fork to press the two layers of dough together and seal completely. Place the baking sheets in the fridge for 15 minutes until the pastry is firm.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Lightly brush the tops of the pastries with milk or cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Or, for a more golden crust, brush with beaten egg. Use a sharp knife to cut 2 or 3 slits in the top to let steam escape and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and then store in an airtight container or freeze for later.
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chocolate-Coated Raisin Fudge Brownies!

Chocolate-covered raisins have been part of my life for a while.

Nonna always had a stash in the drawer below the microwave. She saved them just for me and I knew just where to find them.

A walk passed the self-service snack section at the University Center cafeteria meant a bag-full for study motivation. Dangerous yet delicious motivation.

And any run to Bulk Barn for some corn nuts, brown sugar or cocoa meant I'd also be buying chocolate-covered raisins. Inevitable is the right word here. 

I am particular too - I don't like Glosettes. What? I know. How contrary.

I prefer the no-name unbranded type. Glosettes have a sugary coating between the raisin and the chocolate that provides an unappealing and unnecessary grittiness. That shiny shellac interferes with the smooth melting quality of chocolate. The unbranded ones melt better and are texturally superior.

Then the supermarket by my old University started selling "Big Daddy's" in their bulk section and it was over! They were jumbo raisins (like the size of your thump tip). Plump, juicy and with a thick layer of chocolate. Studying was no longer an issue but fitting into jeans was. Freshman 15 was all over me.

I really love this combination and I have no idea why I never thought to pair them in my favourite chocolate dessert (BROWNIES!) until today.

If you like soft, if you like chewy then these are the BEST fudge brownies for you!

First up, soak the raisins. Feel free to add a splash of vermouth or whiskey.

Next, make the luscious dark chocolate batter and scatter the raisins on top.

These brownies are the perfect balance between soft and chewy. They have some of the softness that you would expect from boxed brownies but with an indulgent chew from solid dark chocolate. Please do not make boxed brownies to verify - just trust me since I used to create them for a living. I developed this one, and they are great. But trust no one else.

How do you make soft and chewy brownies?

You might find recipes that call for vegetable oil since oil is liquid at room temperature, therefore liquid = soft, and butter = firm. NO! Don't do this. Although it is technically true, using oil to make brownies is a disgrace and leads to oily, often rancid-tasting brownies. Oil is for deep-frying. Butter is for baking.

To get that texture, we want to use a good mix of chocolate and cocoa powder. I have made many (MANY) brownies in my time and often use a good dose of dark chocolate. Solid chocolate contains cocoa butter which is super hard at room temperature. That means it will make firm and chewy brownies. Replacing some of that chocolate with cocoa powder (but keeping the butter the same and making up for the sugar content) lends a softer texture. The beauty is that the softness comes at room temperature, but these babies are still sticky and fudgy from the fridge. The kind that you really sink your teeth into! It's the best of both worlds.

How to make silky ganache without cream?

Use a blend of butter and milk. Also, use chocolate (or a blend of chocolates) that have a moderate sugar content. I would avoid strictly bittersweet chocolate for this because the high cocoa content means that it is more tempermental. Here I use a blend of bittersweet and milk chocolate to provide sugar (and added milk solids) to help bind water from the milk and stabilize the liquid phase.

How to recover broken or separated ganache?

Ganache splits or looks oily because the cocoa butter separates out of the emulsion. It usually occurs when the fat phase is too grand. To bring it back, whisk in some cold milk a bit at a time until it tightens up and appears glossy and smooth. The gradual addition of milk provides room for the fat to suspend into.

Go ahead and add 1/2 cup of raisins. I thought 1/3 cup was just enough to add that juicy burst and intense dried fruit, almost fermenty/winey flavour without interfering with the texture or taste of the chocolate.

Everyone I shared these with enjoyed them so much more than you would expect since raisins tend to get an old-people rap. They asked "why haven't you put raisins in brownies before?"

I asked myself the same question. I'll be doing it again and again.

Big love.

Chocolate-Coated Raisin Fudge Brownies
makes 12-16 squares

For the raisins:
1/3 cup (50g) sultana raisins
2 tbsp (30ml) boiling water
1 tbsp rum

For the brownie layer:
3 ½ oz (100g) bittersweetchocolate (70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or rum
3 tbsp (18g) cocoa powder
½ cup (71g) all-purpose flour

For the ganache layer:
3 oz (85g) bittersweetchocolate (70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
2 oz (56g) milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp (30ml) milk
Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 8x8” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at each side.

First place raisins in a bowl and pour boiling water over top. Cover and let stand for a few minutes.

To make the brownie base, melt chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth.

Whisk eggs with both sugars until thick and lightened by a shade. Add hot melted chocolate mixture and whisk until well combined and glossy. Whisk in salt and vanilla. Whisk in cocoa powder until incorporated. Then sprinkle flour over mixture and fold it through. Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Drain liquid from raisins and scatter over the batter, poking them in slightly.

Bake until puffed and the surface looks matte, about 20-23 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. To make the chocolate layer, combine chopped dark and milk chocolate in a bowl with butter and milk. Microwave on medium power in 30 second bursts, stirring until smooth and glossy. Stir in salt. If the mixture looks oily and separated, add a few drops of cold milk and whisk until it tightens up to a homogeneous silky ganache. Spread evenly over cooled brownies and refrigerate until set before slicing.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Best EASY 1-2-3 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies are hard to beat. They never get old and don't need renovation. If there's anything I crrraaaaave, CCC's are up there with brownies and ice cream in the top three. It's that type of craving that stops everything - like I can not think, move forward or operate (semi-) heavy machinery until I get what I want!

The only thing that beats eating a warm homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie is knowing an awesome recipe that you can easily commit to memory and batch up as soon as you get THAT feeling.

These are called "1-2-3" Chocolate Chip Cookies for their easy-to-remember proportions by volume

1:2:3 = butter:brown sugar:flour

That is:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

It's a one-bowl deal with this recipe. No sifting, no mixing dry ingredients in a separate bowl, no browning butter (but brown butter is delicious!). We get around this by the order of addition - mix the baking soda into the wet mixture before the flour goes in to make sure it is evenly blended.

Do you know the story about resting cookie dough? It's worth it. But, I get it. We want to eat cookies NOW, not 24 hours from now. The thing with me is that I get the same fulfillment making cookie dough as I do eating cookies. An opportunity to chop dark chocolate or dunk my fists in a pile of chocolate discs means an opportunity for me to eat as much as I want. And cookie dough.... let's face it. It's delicious.

As a Food Scientist, I have to mention that you need to realize the risks. Raw egg is not much of an issue as eating raw flour. There have been a few cases of E. Coli contamination in flour recently, so keep that in mind and eat at your own risk.

You don't need a recipe to make this recipe. Well, the first time you do but then you're cool. Your memory can handle this. It is easy.

How to make soft chocolate chip cookies?

Use some liquid sugar, baby. I like to use honey because it is acidic and helps to balance the sweetness slightly and reacts with baking soda. You could also use corn syrup or agave. The point is that these liquid sugars are humectants, meaning that they bind water and keep these cookies from drying out too fast. Also, don't overweigh the flour - 1 1/2 cups is 215 grams. If you are not using a scale, use the spoon & sweep method and do not pack the measuring cup. It's better to err on the side of less here.

How to make chewy chocolate chip cookies?

Sugar is the ordinary ingredient that makes cookies chewy - and it's the right amount of sugar that counts. Trying to reduce the total sugar in a cookie recipe will produce crisp and crumbly instead of chewy. Unlike making crisp sugar cookies that call for heavy creaming of butter and sugar, chewy cookies should take less of a beating. Just mix the butter and sugar together until they are evenly blended and the mixture looks like wet sand or a slightly fluffy paste. It should not be pale and very aerated.

Resting the dough and giving time for the moisture in the dough to thoroughly absorb the flour will also lend chewier cookies since less water can be lost during baking this way. A chilled dough is stiffer so that it won’t spread as aggressively while it bakes meaning that the centers will stay thicker and chewier.

How to make rich-flavoured and evenly golden brown cookies?

Let the dough chill out. Refrigerating cookie dough for several hours or overnight allows the dry ingredients, including flour and baking soda, to evenly marry into the dough and become hydrated. This leads to more even browning (enhanced by baking soda) during baking and thus a richer flavour overall.


Let's not forget the star of the show - the chocolate! Your cookies can only be as good as the 6 ounces of glory that you put in. Although we call them chocolate chip cookies, I never use chips. I prefer to chop up a block of quality dark chocolate which produces irregular shards and chunks, or use gorgeous callets, which are lentil-shaped discs of chocolate designed for melting and with a high cocoa butter content. It will melt gently into pools of molten splendor and coax the cookies to spread with cracks and crevices.

Chipits? Don't even. They contain a lot of sugar and milk solids to help them hold their shape during baking (ie. the don't melt nicely).

1-2-3 Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 18-20 cookies

½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (220g) packed light brown sugar
2 tsp (10ml) honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups (215g) all-purpose flour

Mix together butter and brown sugar until smooth and creamy and somewhat fluffy using a spatula or wooden spoon. It should look more like a paste or wet sand than a very pale aerated mixture. Mix in honey and vanilla extract. Beat in egg until well incorporated. Mix in salt and baking soda. Fold in flour and chocolate chips just until evenly combined.

Cover dough in the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Bring the bowl out to room temperature 30 minute before using.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

oll heaped tablespoons of dough into smooth balls and flatten onto prepared baking trays. Space them 3 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until evenly browned.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Thailand's Street Food Travel Guide

A Guide to the Wonderful World of Thai Street Food

There's no denying that Thailand is home to the most epic street food scene around, and it's no wonder that CNN voted Bangkok as the city with the world's best street food. If you love food and love being surrounded by delicious smells and flaming woks with meals made to order for not much more than a dollar, then go there. Go to Thailand!

Let's take a peak at what there is on offer.

Tom Yum Goong is a spicy seafood soup laced with fresh sour lime juice. The shrimp-based broth (Goong means "shrimp") is intensely flavoured with red chili, cilantro and galangal as well as all the wonderful citrus flavours of Thailand like lemongrass and kaffir lime.

There are two versions of Tom Yum - one being clear and the other creamy. This particular version in the picture above is creamy from the addition of evaporated milk. The signature look of creamy Tom Yum is the firey red chili oil slick that floats to the top. It comes from a flavourful roasted Thai chili paste called nam prik pao.

If you are on an island you must have a whole grilled fish. This version was my favourite by far, piled high with fried shallots, sliced lemongrass, ginger, spring onions, red chili and cilantro and smothered with a sweet and sour tamarind sauce. Really, wow.

Thai Green Chicken Curry (Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai) shows off the fresh South East Asian flavours and tropical feel. It is based on green chilis, lemongrass, kaffir lime peel, coconut milk and lots of fresh Thai basil. It is one of my favourite Thai dishes for its clean and vibrant flavours. Grab a bowl with steamed jasmine rice for just 40-50 THB ($1.65 - $2.00).

You'll see mounds of fresh curry paste in colours of red, orange, yellow and green piled high in markets throughout Bangkok. They are so fragrant! Gotta give props to how smooth that red paste is - I'm estimating that would be about 35 minutes of pounding and sweating.

Above is one of my favourite curries - Massaman Curry. It is a southern dish with flavours influenced by the Muslim-Malaysian culture. Rich with coconut milk, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, this curry is so satisfying and tickles every single taste bud. Check out my recipe for Massaman Curry so you can make it at home!

Pad Thai is everywhere and it is so good. Now, this is one dish that isn't the same everywhere you go. Don't be tempted by the pile of pre-cooked noodles on a flat top griddle sold for super cheap (even for Thai standards) on the tourist roads of Khao San. Those fall flat and I would hate for your impression of pad thai to be based on this. Anywhere else - from a street food vendor that provides seating on playful tiny coloured plastic chairs and tables - will be delicious.

You will find that every vendor makes it slightly different from different types of noodles to a slightly different flavour balance in their sauce. Look for condiments - someone who sells Pad Thai without the usual offerings of fish sauce, extra lime, sugar, ground chilis and peanuts is not the truth! It sell for anywhere from 30-50 THB ($1.10 - $2.00) depending on if you order prawns or not.

This Pad Thai is made with thin vermicelli noodles, although I prefer the wider noodles called "sen ley", which are more traditional.

Green Papaya Salad called "Som Tum" is traditionally an Isaan dish coming from the North Eastern provinces but due to its popularity you can find it everywhere in Thailand. This is one of my favourites with intense chili, sour lime balanced with palm sugar and plenty of garlic. It is a perfect play on savoury and sweet where the two elements need each other for this dish to make sense. 

You can identify Som Tum vendors by the wooden mortar and pestle they use to make it in. They will lightly pound red chili, garlic, dried shrimp, long green beans, peanuts and tomatoes with strips of green papaya before seasoning with palm sugar, plenty of lime juice and fish sauce. Just 30-35 THB!

Bags of dried shrimp of various sizes are sold in street markets. They're used to make popular dishes like Pad Thai and Green Papaya Salad, just to name a few.

Noodle Soups are enjoyed all throughout Thailand in different forms and flavours. I've never met one that I don't like. Despite the sweltering hot climate, piping hot soup is extremely popular and it's quite an experience eating a boiling bowl of soup sitting outside in the humidity under the blistering sun. They often come with various types of meat and veg. The noodles could be thin rice noodles "guay tiew sen mee" or slightly wider noodles "sen lek", or it can be egg noodles "ba mee".

The meat varies from boiled beef to chicken drumsticks or sliced seasoned pork. It's also not uncommon to have fish balls or pork balls that have a spongy texture similar to hot dogs. The broth is always the star of the dish and seasoned well with soy sauce and fish sauce, sometimes aromatics like cinnamon and star anise are added and you can smell these from a mile away. Pick up a bowl for a dollar and call it lunch!

Pad Kee Mao (translated as "Drunken Noodles") certainly tops my list. It is a stir-fry noodle dish most commonly made with big fat wide rice noodles called "sen yai". These fresh noodles have a silky melt-in-your-mouth texture and take on some char from the wok as they are stir-fried. The "drunken" name comes from the fact that this is often quite a spicy dish with lots of red chili. Depending on who makes it, there can be an assortment of vegetables but certainly look for baby corn and fresh peppercorn berries!

Grilled Bananas called "Kluay Ping" can be found on almost every main street. They are so not what you will expect. If you are thinking bananas from South America, the ones we get sent up here to North America, then scratch those thoughts! These Thai bananas called "Kluay Nam Wa" surpass everything we think a banana can be. They are short and thick, very moist, almost creamy (never starchy) and slightly sour. They are extremely aromatic with flavours of coconut and pineapple.

A popular street snack is having them charred over a grill sometimes in their skins. In their skins they have a custardy texture and out of their skins they have a smokey dry exterior and silky insides. If you order the ones without the skins, be sure to ask for the syrup! What the vendor will do is take the banana off of the skewer, chop it into pieces and put it in a bag with the most dreamy coconut caramel sauce! I drink this stuff - no kidding. It's made from coconut milk, palm sugar and salt and I tell you it is gold. A going rate of 3 for 20 THB (less than a dollar). Can't beat it.

Northern Thai Sausage, called "Sai Oua" and often referred to as Chiang Mai Sausage is one of the most flavourful things you can eat. It is difficult to find in Bangkok, but ubiquitous in Northern provinces. Pork meat is mixed with so many beautiful fresh herbs and spices including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, turmeric, ginger, galangal, garlic and cilantro and then grilled over charcoal. 

It is easily identified by how it is presented in a coil shape and you can buy it by the kilo. Don't miss a chance to try it if you spot it in the markets!

Grilled meat skewers are everywhere, and hurry because your favourite pick will sell out fast! My choice is the pork shoulder skewer ("Moo Ping") and I can't tell you how many times I've come to a street cart and they were sold out. Bummer. All that was left was chicken ass (seriously, she called it chicken "ass") and chicken neck. I'm sure they are great, but I want pork and pork sells quick!

This isn't your typical shishkabob OK.
#1 - these skewers are always cooked over coal which makes them already 100x better than my backyard BBQ.
#2 - they are marinated in this sweet, salty, garlicky, coconut milk sauce.
#3 - one skewer = 10 THB. Incredible.

Mango Sticky Rice (Khao Neow Ma Muang) is one of Thailand's most well known desserts for a reason - it is utterly delicious. No where in north america will you see rice and fruit served for dessert, but in Thailand they know what they're doing. Sticky rice is first steamed to perfection so that it is translucent and chewy. Then it gets a soak in a mixture of coconut milk, sugar and salt until it soaks up all the syrup. It is served up with slices of fresh ripe mango and extra coconut cream on top. You will want to eat this all day and you can make it home with my recipe too.

If you have a sweet tooth then you will stop in your tracks when you spot this colourful display! An array of candied fruits and jellies are on show to cool you down on a hot humid stroll through the streets of Bangkok. Here you pick 3-4 choices and they are served to you in a bowl of shaved ice and coconut milk poured generously over top. 

As the ice melts it creates a sweet cold coconut milk soup with colourful goodies of all different textures floating throughout. There's candied pumpkin, sweetened dried bananas, ginko nuts, red beans, taro, barley, papaya, jackfruit, coconut jellies, herbal jellies, mango and more. It can be hard to choose sometimes...

Another way to cool off, especially if you are eating spicy food (and let's face it, you're in Thailand) is fresh juice. Here she's serving up fresh coconut water with young coconut jelly. You can also try lychee juice or have some mandarins squeezed right before your eyes. If you have never had coconut jelly, I would certainly recommend it. The coconut you might be used to is hard and dry - like the shredded or desiccated coconut we buy at the supermarket and often use for baking. This comes from old or mature coconuts and the meat is very thick and hard. Mature coconuts have very little water inside. 

Young or premature coconuts have a lot of water and you can hear it swishing around if you shake it up. Depending on their age, some of these coconuts have a soft jelly inside that is (for me) the best part. It is full of coconut flavour and has a slippery texture. Think JELL-O.

Similar to Mango Sticky Rice mentioned above, you can also find Young Coconut Sticky Rice. This one is less common on the streets and mostly found served in restaurants. If you love coconut, then whoa... you will flip over this. The coconut-infused sticky rice is smothered in more coconut cream and young coconut jelly!

Another one for the coconut lovers - Coconut Ice Cream! The best comes from the vendors that look the least legitimate. For real! If you see someone walking down the street rolling a buggie with a large metal cylinder and possibly ringing a bell, run for it and stop that guy! Open the lid of the cylinder and you will find home-made, hand churned coconut milk ice cream. 

The vendor usually has a variety of toppings including candied pumpkin, roasted peanuts, sticky rice, red beans, taro and sometimes more traditional toppings like sprinkles (but that's boring). I always choose sticky rice, roasted peanuts, and that purplish glob on the side? That's sweet taro paste. Oh, and don't leave without a drizzle of evaporated milk. All this for 10 THB! ($0.35)

Other icy cold desserts are these creamy ice blocks sold by mobile vendors rolling around a cart with a rectangular cooler. That's the problem with these guys - they are mobile so you never know when you might find them! I've been known to run after them on several (SEVERAL) occasions.

It's so hard for me to choose every time, but I'm partial to Durian, Black Bean, Taro, Coconut and Pandanus.... Ok I know that's more than half the list but I like them all! And again, just 10 THB! ($0.35).

Speaking of Durian, you can get it all year round now in Bangkok, but when it is in season it is everywhere and even more delicious.

Durian is known as the "king of fruits" for its unique taste, odour and appearance. It's hard spiky exterior makes it a challenge to get into, but luckily the vendors do all the hard work for you. Once you peel back the thick hard husk, you reveal pungent creamy soft flesh that surrounds quite large pits similar to an avocado pit. The flavour is so unique that is often hard to describe, but I would say it tastes like sweet egg vanilla custard with hints of banana and bitter notes of garlic and perhaps blue cheese. You either love it or you hate it. I love it.

The smell is so powerful that Durian is banned in some hotels and restaurants, and not allowed on airplanes. 

Mangosteen is another unique fruit that must be tasted if spotted. It is super sweet and exotic. To me it actually tastes most like a pimento pepper without the spiciness. Cut away the thick burgundy skin and indulge in the silky sweet white flesh.

You will know when they are in season because there will be mountains of them like this!

Tropical Fresh Fruit is inexpensive and everywhere to be found! It's the tastiest way to stay hydrated while you're market strolling and site seeing. Don't miss a chance to try southern "Phuket" pineapple which is super sweet and crisp.

Lychee fruit is familiar to most people now that has become a popular flavour for beverages. It has a distinct floral, rose flavour and is very pleasant.

Longkong (not to be mistaken for Longan) is a specialty of SE Asia and I have not tried it anywhere else! This fruit is tricky - sometimes they are sweet and juicy and sometimes they are a bit bitter. I always pay a bit more to get the best ones and when they are good they burst in your mouth with sweetness! They taste like a sweet grapefruit and are so refreshing. If you see these - buy a big bag. You need to peel back the skin and spit out the small pit that is in the center of each lobe (the pits tend to be bitter).

Cool sweet beverages are a major trend in South East Asia and this Nickelodeon-looking alien drink is one of my favourite - sweetened coconut milk with pandan-flavoured jellies. When you slurp it up through the straw, the jellies provide a fun texture similar to bubble tea.

Pandan is a tropical plant that is used to flavour all sorts of Thai desserts and even savoury dishes. It is often termed the "vanilla" of Asian desserts. The leaves are often tied in a knot and simmered or steeped in liquid to infuse their flavour or they are pureed in liquid to extract the colour. It has a pleasant sweet, caramel-like aroma with very slight floral and grassy notes.

Another one of my favourite snacks that you won't know is food until I tell you right now is black and white coconut sticky rice with red bean steamed in bamboo!

Since it can be often sold in the bamboo, you would not know to buy it if you walked right passed! Once you peel back the bamboo, you will reveal a sweet sticky carb-lover's snack. The rice is cooked with coconut milk and the bamboo lends a lovely fragrance.

I've only scratched the surface of what you can find for less than a dollar on the streets of Thailand. I hope you are inspired to go there and EAT!

Big big love,

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