About Me

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I have recently developed this huge passion for cooking, even though I've been cooking since i was 15 and have been a chef for the last 10 years. I think I am addicted to it. Or am I addicted to eating my cooking? Either way, I want to share my experiences with whom ever is interested. That is why I started this blog. Currently I am self employed as a private/personal chef and a stay at home dad. I am very thankful to have ended my restaurant career not so long ago! It's a hard life, especially when your trying to raise a family! I live in Naples, Florida where I met my beautiful wife while working at a yacht club about 3 years ago. We now have a little 6 month old daughter and life as we know it has changed forever ( for the better)! There is something going on in the food world that is very exciting! People are starting to open their eyes a little. We're going back in time, back to the farm, back to the dinner table. Something that has to be done in my opinion. I spent a lot of time at the dinner table as a child and thought is was very beneficial in how I ended up. The thing I like best about being a chef is that I will never learn it all. Ever!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coco Nuts

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Hello All!  It's a beautiful day down here in Naples, Florida.  I've got all the windows and doors open and I can smell the ocean!  Sorry, had to brag.
I cook for a family not far from my house.  A married couple and their 4 children are just too busy to prepare dinner every evening so I do it for them, 3 days a week, at my home and deliver it to them.  All they have to do is reheat it when they get home.  The mother absolutely loves not having to cook or clean or grocery shop!
They let me cook whatever I want, except for a few items.  The kids love it too!  They look forward to the surprise when they get home.  Anyway, on the way back from a delivery one afternoon, I noticed a palm tree on the corner of a street that had a bunch of coconuts underneath it or what I thought was coconuts.  Curiosity got the best of me and I stopped to check them out.  Some of them had been there a while because they were all dried up but a few were still green.  There were also still a bunch of them on the tree.  I picked one of the greener ones up from the ground and smelled it.  It smelled sweet.  I shook it and I heard a liquid sloshing around in the middle so I figured this was a coconut.  Well, I took this little guy home thinking I was going to be cracking it open and enjoying the fruit inside with my dinner that evening.  I ended up forgetting it in the car for my wife to find it the next day crawling with bugs.  Oops!  I brought it in the house anyway and washed it off thoroughly.  I had seen people clean these things on television before and thought I could just use the heel of my chefs knife to peel the outer layer off and there would be a hard coconut in the shell underneath.  Turns out, the heel of my knife went right through the whole thing and a bunch of water gushed out.  Was this even a coconut, in wondered.  Which led me to the world wide web.  You can find a plethora of info on this site as I did: http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/coconut.html

Here are some interesting facts about coconuts:

  • Every bit of the coconut is used. As a result, coconuts are called the “Tree of Life” and can produce drink, fiber, food, fuel, utensils, musical instruments, and much more.
  • When intra-venous (IV) solution was in short supply, doctors during World War II and Vietnam used coconut water in substitution of IV solutions.
  • Botanically, the coconut palm is not a tree since there is no bark, no branches, or secondary growth. A coconut palm is a woody perennial monocotyledon with the trunk being the stem.
  • Possibly the oldest reference is from Cosmas, a 5th century AD Egyptian traveler. He wrote about the “Indian nut” or “nut of India” after visiting India and Ceylon, Some scholars believe Cosmas was describing a coconut.
  • Soleyman, an Arab merchant, visited China in the 9th century and describes the use of coir fiber and toddy made from coconuts.
  • In 16th century, Sir Francis Drake called coconut “nargils”, which was the common term used until the 1700’s when the word coconut was established.
  • It takes 11 -12 months for the coconut to mature.
  • At one time scientists identified over 60 species of Coco palm.  Today, the coconut is a monotypic with one species, nucifera. However, there are over 80 varieties of coconut palms, which are defined by characteristics such as dwarf and tall.
  • Coconut growing regions are as far north as Hawaii and as far south as Madagascar.
I'd like to add one more fact to this and that would be that coconut milk is a natural laxative.  I found this out the hard way. :)

As for using coconut in cooking, the ultimate treats to me would be coconut shrimp or German chocolate cake frosting.
You can check out http://coconut-shrimp.blogspot.com/ for some really good coconut shrimp recipes.
Click on the picture below for a very good German Chocolate Cake recipe.

Until next time, keep your saute pans hot and your taste buds happy.

Chef Don Paleno

German Chocolate Cake

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