Now that the holidays are over with and winter has REALLY set in – I’ve been having a hard time finding inspiration and energy…for anything! I have been trying to keep my spirits up, currently de-cluttering my studio room where I store all my props for the blog.

It’s a good idea to do a cleanse once in a while. I mean, how many shrimp cocktail dishes can one person possibly need? I have accumulated so many things over the last couple years at yard sales and the Op Shop, I didn’t even know what I had in there.

I came across a stash of some of my favorite cookbooks, cracked a few of the bindings, and felt instantly inspired to get in the kitchen. Which, I hadn’t felt in a while. It felt good. So, I went with it. And, this delectable Chocolate Chiffon Pie is what resulted from my efforts.

Chiffons are a rich, yet light and airy concoctions. Traditionally made by egg whites being beaten until stiff, then folded into a gelatin based mixture. In this case chocolate is the additive (although fruit chiffons are also divine), and it’s poured into a gingersnap crust and refrigerated until set. A dollop of fresh whipped cream on top, and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings finish each piece off just before serving.

Shoutout to Martha Hall Foose and both of her wonderful books (“Screen Doors and Sweet Tea” and “A Southerly Course“), which managed to light a fire in my heart and under my ass this week. Gonna try to keep it up, guys! Stay tuned.

Source: A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose

There are few things that scream Easter to me more than a sweet, fluffy coconut cake. I shared my favorite recipe for a traditional version years ago (six to be exact y’all – T & T gettin’ old af!), and it’s amazing. But, add an additional eight layers to the party? And you really have something that’s a showstopping level of spectacular going on.

I’d tackled the world of Smith Island Cake a couple of years back, and had alot of fun making it. I went with the traditional route then, yellow cake with chocolate icing. But, Smith Island cakes come in a rainbow of flavors these days, one of which is coconut. When I saw this cake gracing the cover of an issue of Edible Delmarva last year, I knew I had to make it.

The cake is the same base recipe that I used the last go-round (word to Francis Kitching, y’all), but instead of chocolate frosting, has a delectable cooked coconut frosting in between each layer. That add up to ten layers of coconutty perfection.

I did take a trick from my traditional coconut cake and added a bit of cream of coconut and coconut extract to the batter and frosting, just to kick the coconut factor up a notch. It was impressive and delicious. I also found the frosting to be alot sturdier and less temperamental than the chocolate fudge-type frosting I’d made in the past. The perfect addition to your spring time table this Easter!

Coconut Smith Island Cake

For the cake:
8 oz (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (plus additional for greasing pans)
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 cup cream of coconut

For the frosting:
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
2 cans (8 oz.) evaporated milk
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1 pound flaked coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Use butter to lightly grease ten 9-inch cake pans, or use 2 or 3 cake pans at a time and re-grease them as needed.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl, whisk to combine and set aside. Combine the evaporated milk, vanilla and coconut extract, and cream of coconut in a large measuring cup, whisk to combine and set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time; beat until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Place a hefty 1/2 cup of batter into each baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake 2 or 3 layers at a time on the middle oven rack for 8 to 9 minutes. (A layer is done when you hold it near your ear and do not hear it sizzle.) We’re aiming for 10 layers, but 8 or 9 is okay!

While the cakes are baking, make the icing: Cook sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and cream of coconut in a medium pan over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add 3/4 of the package of coconut, and the extracts, stir off heat until stiffens.

As the cake layers are done, run a spatula around the edge of the pan and ease out the layers. Let them cool. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate; spread 2 or 3 spoonfuls of icing on each layer. (Don’t worry if a layer tears; no one will notice when the cake is finished.) Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing; push any icing that runs onto the plate back onto the cake. Press remaining coconut onto the top and sides of the cake.

Source: adapted from Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook, via Edible Delmarva

Did you guys know that March 9th is National Crab Day? It’s true. So, while I’m counting down the days until I’ll be taking the back road to Saxis to buy a bushel of #1’s right off the boat, we’re not quite there yet. Nevertheless,I still wanted to mark the occasion here on the blog by sharing some crab-centric recipe recipe with you guys.

Now, it’s a well known fact that folks here on the Eastern Shore will put Old Bay on just about darned near anything and everything. In fact, I think it’s probably a part of my blood content at this point in my life. My dad had me dipping crabs in vinegar spiked with Old Bay as far back as I can remember, probably even before I started on solid foods. Heh. And, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Whether it’s a more traditional application of the seasoning – like steamed blue crabs or succulent steamed shrimp. To something a little more unconventional- like sprinkled on top of a creamy potato salad or a Chesapeake Bloody Mary. Or maybe by adding a subtle spicy twist to a batch of your homemade caramel corn…

I happen to adore salty and sweet combos to begin with. But add in a little spicy kick with a few savory notes going on (I’m looking at you celery seed),  and you really have something quite phenomenal going on.

I’m going to be making batches of this all summer long to take out on the boat with us for our fishing trips and beach days. It stays good for a few weeks if kept fresh in an airtight container, not that it will last that long. Handy to have on hand!

Have you guys ever heard the song “Coconut” by Harry Nilsson? We’re talking old school here, kids. If you haven’t, listen to it – it’s such a fun song. A song that I can’t help but singing out loud when I’m making mixing these babies up. My apologies in advance, it’ll be stuck in your head for a week! One of the lyrics is “put the lime in the coconut and you’ll feel better”… Harry was onto something – these little bites are a true taste of summer days, something that I’ve desperately been needing a dose of lately.

Macaroons are kind of an old fashioned sweet made with egg whites and shredded coconut. They’re great, because they’re really adaptable to switching up with different flavor combinations. But to be honest, you’re not going to want to look any further than the addition of the fresh zesty lime…

I got the recipe from my friends at Main Street Shop & Coffeehouse, who offer them in the afternoons when they’re open in season. I’m missing so many things now that everything is closed for the winter here on Chincoteague Island. Spring can’t come soon enough, y’all.

These macs couldn’t be easier to whip together, using just a few simple ingredients. Since they don’t have a bunch of butter, or oil, or egg yolks – they’re not too bad on the waistline. Also gluten-free for all you folks looking out for that.

After baking until golden brown, I let them cool and then give a nice drizzle of dark chocolate. They freeze beautifully, it’s nice to have a few on hand to package up as a little treat for someone you love. This recipe makes a dozen, so if I’m baking for a crowd I’ll often double it. They always fly out the door at bake sales! 

Source: recipe adapted from Martha Stewart via my baking friend Karen