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Stir It 28 Campaign ,Chocolate Hazelnut and Banana Tarts, and a Book Giveaway

photographer and graphic designer, Dave Patterson of RH Media Group for creating the STIR IT logo!

Is it February already? Hard to believe it. This month has been filled with so much activity and emotion all over the globe. I don't think there was one person who hasn't been touched, moved, or affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti. Never have we felt so helpless as we see both tragedy and miracles on the television. So "What can I do ? ", you may ask. I love to see the blogging the community come together in Haiti's hour of need. A few of my blogger friends have decided to put our heads together and come up with a multi city effort. You may have seen us tweeting about it or sharing the news with on Face book already. Well here is the whole deal if you are interested. If you look to the left sidebar you will find the link to donate or purchase tickets for your cities event.

Together with Bren of Flanboyant Eats and Chrystal of The Duo Dishes, we have formed Stir It 28: Food Bloggers Align for Haiti Relief–a blogger based fundraising effort to bring money to Haiti. As food plays a very large importance in our lives, we strive to raise money to bring food, water and other necessary supplies to the people of Haiti, which will hopefully do a small part to aid in the short-term relief efforts. We’re calling on all food bloggers to help us make this a nationwide, international even, movement during the month of February. From February 1st through the 28th, we will do our best to come together as a unified group, along with the food community at large, to help bring relief to the island nation. All money raised during the month will go to Share Our Strength and Yele.
Here’s how you can help:

Each one of us will be hosting a food fundraising event on Sunday, February 21st in our respective cities–Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago. We’re asking chefs, restaurants, home cooks and food bloggers to participate by donating 2-3 dishes that will feed 15-20 people each. The events will be open to the public with advanced tickets or limited ticket sales at the door. Purchase tickets by clicking the logo image on the top right side of this page. We’re still formulating our respective events, but here are the details so far:

Host: Bren Herrera
Where: SPACE Atlanta, 1310 White Street, Atlanta, GA 30310
(historic West End)
When: 4-7 PM
Tickets: $30 in advance

$40 at the door
DJ Rev Lee will make you shake your rump
to each food station! 
Special surprise live performance by  
popular Atlanta-based artist!
Complimentary wine courtesy 
of Montaluce Winery! 
(visit them at 
and 2 Cash bars!
Host: Courtney Nzeribe
Where: Three Peas Art Lounge : 75 E. 16th Street
(Between Michigan and Wabash) Chicago, IL 60616
When: 3-6 pm
Tickets: $30 in advance
$35 at the door
* Cash bar and delicious house cupcakes for sale
Los Angeles
Host: Chrystal Baker
Where: Sexy Private LA Residence located at
6602 Cahuenga Terrace, Los Angeles, CA, 90068
When: 4-7 pm
Tickets: $30 in advance
$35 at the door
* Complimentary Valet will be available
for first 50 attendees!

Washington, DC
 * Details TBD. If you are in DC, and are interested in partnering with
Bren in hosting an event, please email
with the subject: STIR IT-DC.

New York City Just added!

Sunday, February 21, 2010
4:00pm - 7:00pm
NYU Department of Nutrition -
Food Studies and Public Health
35 W. 4th Street, 10th floor
New York, NY

The New York foodies have joined the Stir It 28 movement!
If you're in NY and want to attend, here's your chance.

Advanced ticket sales only: No ticket sales at the door.
$20 for students and $30 for adults/faculty & staff.
Students must pay via the PayPal General Online Donation
button on
or and indicate
"NYU student ticket" in notes.
Must show student ID at the door.

No tickets at door.

Street parking and parking garages
in walking distance.

Each event requires donations of food, so if you’d like to share your talent of cooking with the public, this is your opportunity. You don’t have to cook to be part of the fundraiser. We’ll need help with media/publicity, set-up/clean up, serving, working the door, etc.
You can be part of this! Contact each respective person to let them know you want to be on the team.
Los Angeles: Chrystal @theduodishes
Bren @BrenHerrera
Chicago: Courtney @glamah
If you are not in LA, Atlanta or Chicago, you can still help raise money. Perhaps donate what you would normally spend to create a dish for a post or give the amount you’d spend on a lunch or dinner out with friends. It’s not about how much you give, but the spirit in which you decided to help others. We understand that economic times are hard, but even $1 over 500 or more bloggers would make a difference. Spread the word to your friends, tell your families. Talk to restaurants in your area, chat with cooking school, visit bakeries! The idea is to bring the food community together as a whole, so anyone who lives and loves food should hear the word. You can donate through Paypal. The associated email address for the donation is

Bren has a hunger campaign called One Comment. One Eats, and this is a great opportunity to combine this effort with our Haiti relief project. For every comment you receive on your first post of February, we hope you donate one non-perishable food item to Share Our Strength. You can campaign for the full month of February in order to get as many comments as possible. We will let you know how to get your food to Share Our Strength. Email Bren directly at to get your badge that reads: “I gave to One Comment. One Eats.”

We can only make this work if everyone bands together. The cool thing about food bloggers is that we are a supportive bunch. Most of us have never met, but we forge virtual relationships with people in our own cities and across the world over food. If we combined that same strength and applied it to a great cause, imagine how powerful it would be! Sign up as a cook/volunteer for the LA, Atlanta or Chicago events, join the Facebook page, use the Twitter hashtag #stirit28, get the word out to your friends, solicit donations. We can make a huge difference! And for anyone in any city who is interested in starting their own fundraiser event, please email to let us know. You do not have to have a huge blow-out. An intimate dinner of 10 or 15 on Sunday, February 21st will still make a difference! As long as we’re donating as a solid group of the food community, that’s all that matters.

So to kick of my first my first post for the month of February, and to generate many comments, I am giving away the wonderful Ciao Italia: Five Ingredient Favorites by Mary Ann Esposoito. Forgive me as I have been sitting on this book for a month or so. But other evnts and issues have distracted me. I love the premise of the book . Take five ingrediants which we should all have in our kitchens and make quick, delicious, and flavorful meals. From Antipasti to dessert, Mary Anne Esposito has you covered. With everyone talking about Nutella for World Nutella Day on February 5th, I decided to do these amazingly simple and and decadent Chocolate Hazelnut and Banana Tarts. You wouldn't believe how simple these come together and you don't even have to be what I consider a true baker to make these . I even added a touch of rum to mine.
Tortine di Gianduja e Banana
Chocolate , Hazelnut, and Banana Tartlets
adapted from Ciao Italia; Five Ingredient Favorites by Mary Ann Esposito

1 sheet puff pastry
1 cup Nutella
8 oz Mascarpone cheese at room temp
3 tablespoons sugar
1 banana sliced

Preheat oven to 450 F
Roll out puff pastry on clean lightly floured work surface and cut out four 6 inch circles ( for 3 inch tart pans) or whatever shapes you chose to use. Press and line your forms, preferably with removable bottoms, with the puff pastry.
Place tartlet pans on a baking sheet and poke shells allover with a fork to prevent puffing while baking. Bake tartlet shells fro 7-8 min or until nicely browned.
Remove tartlet pans from oven and allow to cool completely.
In a medium bowl using hand mixer, whip up Nutella , Mascarpone , and sugar together until well blended.
Place a layer of banana on bottom of cooled shells, then spoon Nutella mixture into the shells. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Top with additional Bananas.

I will randomly draw a name from the comments generated by this post on Sunday February 7th. Remember , for each comment I get I donate a non perishable item. How easy is that? So spread the word.

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Homemade Duck Sausage Caramelized Onions Apples and Gruyere Tart

If you keep up with me via Twitter or Facebook, you know I am in the process of auditioning for the new American version of Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay on Fox. Things are going well so far and its been a crazy few days. Some people have been asking what I brought to my casting call. This post is going to be short and sweet, but I just wanted to share and thank everyone for their support.
Well here it is. I got high marks for this one. Enjoy.

Homemade Duck Sausage, Caramelized Onion, Apple and Gruyere Tart

With Frisee, Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Oil Vinaigrette

By Courtney Nzeribe

Equipment Needed

4.5 inch tart forms

Kitchen Aid stand mixer, meat grinder and sausage stuffer

Homemade Duck Sausage

1 duckling de-boned with meat and skin from legs, breast, etc.

Natural casing (hog or lamb)

1 tbsp juniper berries

1 tbsp Garlic Powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp green peppercorns

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp mustard powder

½ tsp ground sage

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, and marjoram

Soak casing in cold water for a few hours to remove any salt preservatives.

De bone a duck removing breast meat, skin, thigh/ leg meat. Reserve the carcass, wings, and extra fold of skin at cavity. Place the carcass, wings and skin, and bones in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper and roast at 450 to render some fat. Roast until golden and crispy. Set aside and reserve fat for later.

Using the Kitchen Aid meat grinder, grind small pieces of the duck meat and skin, on coarse grind first. Once done add seasonings and grind once more on a finer grind. Chill meat until ready to stuff into casing.

Prepare Kitchen Aid with Sausage Stuffer attachments. Take the casing and attach the stuffer funnel to one end and run under cold water to flush insides. Add the sausage funnel to mixer and roll the casing onto the length of the funnel. Tie off the end of casing in a knot. Follow Kitchen Aid instructions to stuff sausage. Once all meat is stuffed, cover the sausage with plastic wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight to let seasonings blend.

Caramelized Onions and Apples

1 large onion

1 apple

* 2 tbsp of Duck Fat (see Homemade Duck Sausage recipe)

¼ cup Cognac

Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Fresh Thyme

Thinly slice the onions. Peel and chop the apple. In a large skillet, heat the duck fat. Add the onion , salt, pepper, and thyme and sauté on med low heat stirring occasionally until they start to sweat and become translucent. Add the apples. Every few minutes add some cognac to deglaze the pan and continue to sauté and stir on low heat until soft and slightly browned. Total cook time is about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Tart Assembly

Puff pastry to line forms ( I made my own)

2 cups Farmers cheese

1 cup shredded Gruyere

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Baked Homemade Duck sausage

1 cup Caramelized Onions and Apples

Egg wash (1 egg beaten lightly)

Roll out puff pastry and cut and fit into tart form. Chill until ready to fill.

Bake the homemade duck sausage in a roasting pan with a little water at 450 F until golden and crispy. Set aside and let cool. Slice on diagonal.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl mix Farmers Cheese, Gruyere, eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the caramelized onions. Fill chilled tart shells with mixture and add the slices of duck sausage. Brush edges with egg wash. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Frisee, Dried Cranberries with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Wash and spin dry the Frisee. In a bowl mix ½ cup Pumpkin Oil , ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar, 2tbsp Peanut Oil, ½ tsp brown sugar. Add fresh ground Black Pepper and sea salt and beat until emulsified.. Toss the Frisee with some vinaigrette. Add dried Cranberries.

Plate the tarts with the dressed Frisee. Garnish tart with sprig of fresh Thyme or Rosemary and a few cranberries.

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Warm BBQ Crispy Tofu Buckwheat Soba & Arugula Salad

When I tweeted that I was developing a recipe for tofu, they all laughed and threatened to de-friend me. I have tried to like tofu, and seem to like it better when I order it elsewhere. Still not a favorite, but I have had some good tofu in my life. A package of tofu accidentally fell into my organic delivery box and I didn't want to waste it. I perused the Internet and found an interesting recipe for BBQ tofu here. I gleaned more from the comments about technique. See I don't like that slimy soft factor so much in my tofu. But I love a fried tofu puff. One commenter suggested baking the tofu slices first in an oven for more firmness and crispness. So that's what I did. I have created another recipe all together than the one referenced and have taken it further by tossing the crispy BBQ Tofu nuggets with Buckwheat Soba and fresh Arugula in a spicy vinaigrette. I know fried anything isn't the healthiest, but sometimes its OK especially balanced out with other healthy things. If you are looking for a meat alternative these chunks make a good tasty substitute. Use your own homemade BBQ or some stir bought. I used a Ginger Teriyaki sauce for mine. I also chose Peanut oil both the nutty flavor, its really one of the best oils for frying , and great with Asian cuisines.
This is a very filling and spicy salad that will win over those that may be skeptical about Tofu.
Warm BBQ Crispy Tofu Buckwheat Soba and Arugula Salad
Serves 4
Crispy BBQ Tofu
1 14 oz package Extra Firm Tofu
1/2 cup egg substitute or 2 eggs beaten
1 .5 cups Rice Flour
1/2 cup Peanut Oil(* great oil for high smoking points )
1/2 cup of BBQ sauce of your choice

Salad Fixings
4 serving bundles of Buckwheat Soba( 1 per person) boiled according to instructions
1 bunch Fresh Arugula washed and dried
Thin sliced White Onion to taste
Salad Dressing
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Chili Oil
1/4 cup Peanut Oil
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Ginger Powder

Slice your Tofu into squares. On a Parchment lined baking sheet brushed with a little oil, bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Tofu will start to brown slightly. Remove from oven and let cool. Save sheet as you use again.
Place Rice Flour in a zip lock bag. Dip each Tofu slice in egg mixture and then place in bag. Shake the tofu pieces until evenly coated with Rice Flour.
In a large fry pan heat the Peanut Oil. Place the Tofu Slices and fry o each side until Golden and crispy. Remove from heat and place back on Parchment lined Baking sheet from earlier. Brush each piece with the BBQ sauce of your choice. Bake at 375 until sauce starts to bubble and caramelize. Turn each piece mid way. Remove from oven.

Boil Soba according to instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix dressing ingredients and toss into Soba . Add Arugula and thin sliced Onions.
Arrange each serving dish with several pieces on Tofu on top of the Soba and Arugula.

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Roasted Sweet and Spicy Kabocha Squash, Mayo Clinic Diet Give Away Winner, and Some thoughts and News

Its been really hard to get in the groove with blogging and cooking this month. Between the diet and exercise, and now the devastation in Haiti, I admit I have more pressing matters on my mind. I apologize for not picking a winner earlier, but I felt I really needed to call out attention to Haiti which wears on my heart. Even before this earthquake , it always has. Some bloggers and I are trying to cook up a project to drum up more aid, so stay tuned throughout the week. As for the skeptics and naysayers, remember any help anyone can give is needed. This problem wont go away overnight, in the next few months, or even years. Do your homework and trust your gut as to who to give to. I'm distressed at the subtle and overt racism I'm seeing in regards to this human tragedy. Always know it could be you in need one day, whether your white black, Asian, rich , middle class, or poor.I don't care care how much you think you think you have your life in control. My heart weeps for our society.

Onto the other things...
I used to pick a winner of the Mayo Clinic Diet and Journal.
And the winner is my dear friend Jen of A2eatwrite. I cant figure out to paste the snapshot screen on Blogger to show you all. Congrats Jen. Email me your address. I will have another Give away next week with Ciao Italia...Five Ingrediant Favorites by Mary Ann Esposito. Stay tuned.
As for Ten In Ten. I have lost a total of about 2 pounds. I have been working out 3 or more times per week,as well as keeping my calorie in the 1200 range for t weeks thus far. The last two nights were not so good with a dinner engagement and takeout dinner. But that's life and the whole point of my challenge is how to function with all that and blogging while losing some weight and incorporating fitness. I feel good. I have been getting feedback about posting calories for all my recipes. I would love to , but the sites I find seem to keep them in a collective pool, and I just wont being doing that for everything. but some I will.

I received a Kabocha Squash in my Organic delivery last week. I took half of it and made roasted wedges. I can now say I'm a fan! I have seen many ways people make this, but roasting to me hits, the spot. Not to say I wont simmer it in the traditional Japanese style or put it in yet another squash soup one day. I still the other half to toy with this weekend.

Roasted Sweet and Spicy Kabocha Squash Recipe

Roasted sweet winter squash. Skin is edible. This comes in at about 82 calories a serving. I love munching on these wedges that are both filling and sweet.
1 1/4 lb Japanese Pumpkin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
Cut and slice the Kabocha Squash into small wedges. Arrange on parchment a lined baking sheet. Toss the squash in all the remaining ingredients to be sure the pieces are covered in the oil. Roast at 450 for about 15 minutes or until caramelized and crispy.

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Earthquake in Haiti...

We as food bloggers spend so much time writing about food. Imagine Haiti, even before the earthquake as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, ravaged by disease, poverty, and crime, and where most people live on $2 a day. Haiti needs out help more than ever. Lets raise awareness, give a little or a lot.

I have been affiliated over the years with Children's Place Association , here in Chicago. Here is a letter from them we received this morning concerning a home they run in Haiti to help those affected with HIV with International Partners.

Devastating Earthquake Hits Haiti
Yesterday at 4:53 p.m.
a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The devastation was immediate as this was the largest quake to hit the area in more than 200 years.

With many workers, children and clients in the area we are deeply concerned for their safety and well being. Our Chicago-based team is doing everything we can to reach our workers and find out if they are okay and learn how many of our children and families may have been affected. The
Red Cross is reporting three million people could be affected by the quake and photos and videos of the area are showing total devastation.

We hope to be able to reach our team members today and will keep you up-to-date as we learn more about the situation and the specific needs of our clients.

In response to the disaster in Haiti we have established a
Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. The monies raised will help provide everyday necessities to our Haitian children and families including medical supplies as well as food and clean water.

Please use our
Web site to make a donation today and look for further updates from us as more news is available. Make sure to enter the word HAITI in the space provided in the donation form to ensure your support goes directly to this fund.
Thank you for your continued support.
John Sweeney, Director of International Programs
How You Can Help
Donate today through our
Web site or contact our Development Office at 312-660-3030. Enter the word HAITI in the space provided in the online donation form.
As more specific needs are known we will post updates on our
Web site.

New York Times
Haitian Disater Releif. How to Contribute.

Red Cross

Earthquake in Haiti

Posted using ShareThis


Text 501 501 to donate $5

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Baked Cheesy Cauliflower and Baked Grouper Steaks in Parchment Paper...Low Calorie and Tasty Recipes

I hope everyone is settling into the New Year. This week was action packed with some of the goals I mentioned in the last post for the Ten in Ten Challenge.Staring last Sunday I have successfully maintained a 1200 a day calorie intake using My Fitness Pal as a Guide. Counting calories is a drag but this application on my phone makes its easier and I can save foods and info to use again. So it does get easier. I'm not for deprivation at all,and have incorporated going out and social functions in the mix. So yes I have a had a glass or two of wine, just knowing that goes against my calorie intake. I joined a gym and worked out 3 days in a row. Entering the workouts of course increased my calorie allotment because of what was burned. All this activity had me loosing 1 pound by Fridays weigh in. Not bad and totally in syncs with my goals.So that's my brief week and I don't want to bore you any more , for Ten in Ten.
I was craving a good fish, so I went to a fish wholesaler and settled on Grouper for the price and size. I love Isaacson and Stein .
Its a gritty place and any sort of fish you want is there fresh or frozen. Once you pay, they can clean it and gut it. I had mine cut up in steaks. I had him give the head and tail for stock later.Big mistake as Certain Someone is funny about bones and such. He like his fish totally filleted and devoid of skin and bones. While he liked this dish , he wasn't a happy camper with the bones.But the big firm chunks of white fleshed Grouper are so satisfying and pretty mild in flavor. As for me, I love a good fish steak. You can make this recipe in either form. Another cool time saving fact is that you can bake them at the same time on a lipped baking sheet. They finish in about 15 minutes.
I found another site to give you an idea of how many calories are in each recipe. The information comes courtesy of Calorie Count. I have used other sites before to calculate, so its great when you want to create but also need a idea of what the nutritional value is. This whole dinner comes in at 499 calories . Not bad at all.Click on the detailed links at the end of each recipe for a complete analysis.

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 124.5g

Amount Per Serving

Calories 123

Calories from Fat 68

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 7.5g


Saturated Fat 4.7g 23%

Trans Fat 0.0g

Cholesterol 21mg 7%

Sodium 166mg 7%

Total Carbohydrates 6.9g 2%

Dietary Fiber 1.7g 7%

Sugars 3.3g

Protein 8.1g

Vitamin A 5%

Vitamin C 53%

Calcium 21%

Iron 2%

* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation.

Serves 4
1 head Cauliflower
4 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Low fat milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup low moisture mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper to taste
Steam head of cauliflower and garlic cloves until soft. Drain, add milk. Mash with immersion blender. Add cheese and butter and mix until blended. Spoon in ramekins and bake at 450 F until golden.
More info here.

Baked Grouper Steaks in Parchment Paper
Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 262.3g

Amount Per Serving

Calories 376

Calories from Fat 139

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 15.4g 24%

Saturated Fat 2.4g 12%

Trans Fat 0.0g

Cholesterol 95mg 12%

Sodium 158mg 7%

Total Carbohydrates 6.2 g 2%

Dietary Fiber 1.5g 6%

Protein 1.3g

Sugars 1.1g

Vitamin A 10 %

Vitamin C 39%

Calcium 1%

Iron 4%

* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation.

Serves 2
2 grouper steaks
1 tomato chopped
1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 dried onion flakes
1 tsp balsamic
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste
Wash and dry Grouper steaks.Place in the middle of a piece of parchment paper. Mix chopped tomato, sun dried tomato, salt, pepper, dried onion flaked, balsamic, and some olive oil in a bowl. Spoon tomato mixture on top of fish . Drizzle remaining oil on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold and seal grouper in the parchment paper. Bake at 450 f for approx 10-15 minutes or until paper starts to brown.

More Info here.

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