Coconut Cake

I’ve been on a coconut kick lately. I’m hooked on coconut water and obsessed with coconut jam. Naturally, I love coconut cake. This recipe is an adapted version of Ina Garten’s coconut cake recipe, which of course is amazing. I’ve made it many times and it’s always a hit. As much as I love coconut, I actually don’t really like the texture of sweetened shredded coconut so I’ve omitted it from the batter and instead brushed the layers of cake with a reduced coconut glaze. And lastly, this recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting, which is my absolute favorite.

coconut cake

Ingredients (cake):

  • 3 sticks (3/4 pound) of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure almond extract
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of milk

Coconut glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup of sugar


  • 1 pound of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) of butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract
  • 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups of coconut flakes

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Tamarindo Y Tequila

I can’t exactly remember my first tamarind experience. Possibly as a child at the local taqueria, sipping a syrupy sweet tamarind soda. Maybe it was on the playground hopped up on sticky tamarind candy. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I tasted what tamarinds truly had to offer. The pulp from this pod-like fruit is widely used in food and drink around the globe. Its sweet and sour flavor tastes like a delicious combination of separate ingredients, yet is remarkably just one. For my first tequila recipe I knew tamarind was a must. I wanted something simple so the delicate floral and citrus notes of Patrón Tequila would shine, while also still being unique and festive. To add a hint more complexity I used serrano chiles, which give just a slight bite to the finish. Feel free to omit the chile if you’re not a fan of spice, but either way, you won’t be disappointed. This cocktail has it all: sweet, sour, spice and of course . . . tequila!



Tamarind Puree:

  • 1 cup tamarinds (peeled)
  • 1 cup water



Umami Mart

I enjoy collecting barware and various other tools of the trade. But after recently discovering Umami Mart in downtown Oakland, CA, what started out as merely a hobby is quickly becoming an obsession. Beautifully designed and stocked with an impressive selection of kitchen and barware imported from Japan, it is almost impossible for me to leave Umami Mart without something new catching my eye. I’ve found everything to be of the highest quality in both form and function. Recently, I picked up some sleek gold cocktail pins that were perfect for an elegant garnish.





Herriott Grace

What do you get when you combine an expert woodworker with a passionate, business-savvy photographer? The answer: father-daughter duo, Lance and Nikole Herriott, a.k.a. Herriott Grace. The pair sells dozens and dozens of hand-carved wooden objects. There are plates and bowls in seemingly every size, as well as spoons, cutting boards, rolling pins, and even ceramics, linens, and cookie cutters . . . the list goes on. My favorite are the cake flag stands with bark still intact!



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Marinated Olives

Olives are one of my favorite snacks. It’s a little frightening, but I can easily polish off a can of olives on my own. Making your own marinated olives is very simple and it keeps for a while in the fridge, so you can have them on hand for a party or just for snacking. This recipe is pretty versatile. I love the combination of lemon zest and coriander that I’ve used it here, but I imagine a couple dried chile de arbol would be a great addition too! The only thing I insist on is using unpitted olives. When olives are pitted, they turn into sad olives that lose that great meaty texture and complex fruity flavor.

marinated olives 1


  • 1 lb. of assorted olives.  I used Lucques, Nicoise, and Castelvetrano, unpitted
  • Zest of 1 lemon, peeled with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 tablespoons of whole coriander seeds
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 dried bay leaves

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