June 3, 2016

Dear friends,

In my continuing quest to have my ice cream and my figure, too, I made yogurt pops last week. Not just plain frozen yogurt pops, but coconut frozen yogurt pops with a mango swirl.

As I write this, on day five, the flavors have finally mellowed and deepened in the freezer. The chalky, bland hints of plain frozen yogurt have faded, leaving a tart tang that works in harmony with the pronounced coconut and fruity mango flavors. So if you make these, be patient. Do not gobble them up immediately.

Also keep in mind that these are low-cal pops. To make something like this taste good takes a bit of time. Most coconut yogurt pop recipes on the Internet call for stirring canned cream of coconut into plain yogurt for texture and flavor. That’s easy, but the product has a ton of calories. Instead I use cookbook author and columnist Mark Bittman’s technique of making a cooked custard to combine with the yogurt. Unlike Bittman I make my frozen yogurt with reduced-fat dairy products, and infuse the custard with shredded, unsugared coconut to produce my favorite flavor.

The custard base helps the texture. So does churning the yogurt-custard mixture in an ice cream machine. That whips air into the mixture as it freezes, which prevents the yogurt pops from hardening into little wands of ice. I’m lucky to have a countertop compressor machine that requires no pre-freezing of the bowl or messing with ice and salt. Any type of machine may be used to churn the mixture, though.

These yogurt pops are going to seriously improve my summer. Now, if I could just figure out how to make a low-cal Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Bar.

yogurtbar.jpeg

COCONUT-MANGO YOGURT POPS
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup Splenda granulated (or 1/2 cup regular granulated sugar)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1 ripe mango
1/2 tsp. lime juice

Bring milk to simmer. Remove from heat, stir in coconut and cover. Let stand for 1 hour.

Bring milk almost to a simmer again. In a small bowl or 2-cup measure, beat eggs with a fork. Slowly add about a half-cup of the hot milk mixture to the eggs, beating rapidly. Whisk hot egg mixture into the milk-coconut mixture in pan. Stir in Splenda or sugar. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow it to bubble or the eggs will scramble.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature (set bottom of pan in ice water to cool quickly).

Stir yogurt into cooled coconut custard. Dip out one-half cup of mixture. Cover remaining mixture with plastic wrap. Peel and cube mango and puree until chunky-smooth in a food processor. Measure out one-half cup and stir in lime juice. Combine with the half-cup of the coconut mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate both mixtures until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Churn each mixture separately in an ice cream machine if possible, or at least churn the plain coconut mixture. Spoon soft-set coconut-yogurt mixture into ice-pop molds, alternating with a couple of thin layers of the mango mixture. Freeze 4 or 5 days to allow flavors to deepen. To eat, run under hot water and remove from molds. Makes 7 or 8 half-cup ice pops.

TIDBITS

Bomba Tacos & Rum finally opened in Fairlawn in the former Hudson’s space, where walls were knocked out and Hudson’s cozy vibe was considerably lightened up. The restaurant offers tacos, rice bowls and lots of rum – more than 75 varieties including rum cocktails. I can recommend the mojito.

The restaurant is part of a home-grown chain that started in Cleveland in 2007 with Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar. The offshoot Bomba chain has three locations so far – Akron, Rocky River and Hallandale, Fla.

The “Latin American” food isn’t exactly Latin American; it is “inspired by flavors, ingredients, and dishes from Central and South America, Cuba and the Caribbean,” co-owner Andy Himmel told the Herald in Miami, where authentic Latin American food can be found on almost every corner.

“A South Florida Latin American cuisine’d restaurant hailing from Ohio is like a Peoria-originated Chinese restaurant opening in Shanghai,” the Miami writer noted.

But although you won’t find ropa Viejo or steak palomino on the menu, most of the food is pretty good and the atmosphere is fun.

Best bets: Chunky guacamole, fresh-made, with a list of add-ins you can specify; chicken tinga taco with chipotle sauce, fresh cilantro, onion and hot sauce; and lamb barbacoa taco with plenty of lamb. Skip the empanadas, which taste like they’re made with egg roll wrappers.

The menu and other pertinent details can be found at http://bombatacos.com/fairlawn-ohio/.
SMASHED SWEET POTATOES

I figured if chef Roger Thomas can smash redskins, I can smash sweet potatoes. They turned out pretty good, too.

Choose small, roundish sweet potatoes and cook them in the microwave until tender but not falling apart. Gently smash them between your palms to split the skin in four places around the sides. Marinate for 20 to 30 minutes in a mixture of 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger and 1/2 teaspoon sugar, flipping potatoes once. (Increase amounts for more than two potatoes.) Grill on both sides until crisp.
EEK!
Remember the big package of hot dogs Tony lugged home and I refused to cook? One morning last week I found him in the kitchen making the horror show below for his breakfast. I didn’t say a word; I just got my camera.

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THE MAILBAG
From Michele:
Liver and onions at the Ido Bar & Grille for the man who asked in your newsletter.

From Jocelyn:
I am not a liver and onions fan but my son loves it. Whenever he is in town we go to the Ido on South Main Street in Akron. He can have his treat and I can have just about anything else. One of my favorites is the almond-crusted halibut, delicious.

From George, Akron:
Liver and onions can be had at Rose Villa in the Portage Lakes area.  It’s pretty good.

From Jan C., Uniontown:
My hubby and I like the liver and onions at Rose Villa in Portage Lakes. Comes with good bread, salad, good veggies, and potatoes. Their fresh-cut fries are crispy the home fries too. Yummy and quite reasonable. Met a friend there for dinner a week ago and we all ended up having the liver.

From Martha K.:
Re: liver and onions — tell John to try Edgar’s Restaurant at Good Park, Lanning’s and the 
Ido Bar & Grille.

From Marilyn K.:
Regarding good liver and onions, Farmer Boy restaurant on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue in Akron makes a delicious plate of liver and onions. Real yum ! I tell my hubby it isn’t good for his cholesterol but he will be 90 later this year and is still running around the city, so why stop him now ? Enjoy  !!!

From Debbie:
I’ve never had them myself, but they are on the menu at Lanning’s. They come with the tableside mini salad bar and a side. The menu shows $24. But that includes the excellent service and view of Yellow Creek (if you dress appropriately – if you wear jeans, you can sit in the bar area. Still very nice and the same great service).

From Mary P.:
Years ago I had some of the best liver and onions at Denny’s Restaurants. They have a new location on Home Ave near Chapel Hill. In fact, across from Steak and shake. Hopefully, they still offer it and it’s as good as way back when.

From Sura:
Liver and onions is a simple dish best eaten at home. I’ve never found a restaurant that makes it as good as fresh homemade, and it’s so easy.

Dear readers: Thanks for helping John (and a lot of us, I bet) find the best liver and onions in the area. I can’t wait to try the liver at the Ido and Rose Villa.

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