Recipes

Three recipes from Al's favorite Harlem restaurant, The Cecil

May 21, 2014 at 5:04 PM ET

Video: In the series “TODAY’s Hometown Cookin,” Al Roker and Alexander Smalls, executive chef at The Cecil, cook up shrimp with yam flapjacks, one of the spot’s signature dishes.

This week, the anchors are giving us a taste of some of their favorite meals from a hometown restaurant. Al Roker convinced his favorite restaurant, The Cecil in Harlem, to share its popular recipes, including piri piri shrimp and coconut cake. 

Don't forget to check out recipes for watermelon ribs from Willie's favorite college spot, The Loveless Cafe, tamales from Natalie's favorite restaurant, Zafra, and BBQ recipes from Tamron's top Texas joint, City Market. 

Piri piri shrimp with yam flapjack

             For the shrimp:
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 cup blended oil
For the flapjack:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup packed dark palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup yams

For the sauce: 

  • 15 plum tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 6 birds-eye chilies
  • 1 orange zest
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

To cook the shrimp:

Zest one lemon in bowl. Add chili flakes, chopped parsley and blended oil. Mix with whisk. Once done add in 3 pounds of shrimp. Marinate for 1 hour. Once marinated, season shrimp with kosher salt. Place in hot pan and cook on each side for two minutes.

To
 cook the flapjack:

Take all ingredients and add to bowl, mix. Roast 2 yams in oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Smash yam and add to mixture.
Place non-stick pan on stove. Heat pan. Spoon in flapjack mix. You want it to be the size of a medium sized circle. Allow it to get golden brown on each side. 

To
 make the sauce:

Rough chop tomatoes, onions, chilies, ginger and garlic. Sweat onions, garlic, ginger and chilies. Add tomatoes and cook together for about 15-20 min or until tomatoes are cooked down. Add orange zest and blend together adding the oil slowly to emulsify.

Apple ginger salad

  • Cilantro
  • Black currants-soaked in bourbon
  • Julienne ginger
  • Julienne apple
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce sesame oil

Mix ingredients in bowl.

Collard green salad

For the cashews:


  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grapeseed oil

For the dressing:
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seed
  • Small piece of ginger
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/4 can chipotle
  • 1 small can coconut milk
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp champagne vinegar


For
 the salad:
  • 1 bunch chiffonade collard greens
  • 1/2 sliced red onion
  • 1/4 sliced seedless cucumber
  • 1 cup azuki red beans (in the can)
To make the cashews:

Put cashews in small pot with cold water. Bring to a boil, Strain out water. Add cashews to a bowl with cayenne pepper and sugar. Once coated and well dusted off, place in oil at 350 degrees. Fry until golden brown.

To
 make the dressing:

Toast cumin seeds and place in blender with all ingredients until smooth. Salt to taste.

To
 make the salad:
Place the chiffonade collard greens in bowl, add in the slice onion, cucumber and azuki red beans. Mix with 2 tsps of coconut dressing and six pieces of candied cashews. Season with salt to taste.


Coconut cake
 For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups eggs
  • 3/4 cups egg whites
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup milk

For the meringue:
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp gelatin powder
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut purée
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
To make the cake:

Mix together with paddle attachment. Butter, flour, baking powder, salt and coconut until combined. Add in remaining ingredients and mix.
Spread on 3-half tray lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes.

To make the meringue:

Bloom gelatin in water and melt. Whip heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside. Heat coconut purée and add in melted gelatin.

Combine sugar and egg in a mixing bowl and heat while stirring over a double boiler. Transfer to mixer and whip on high speed to stiff peaks and meringue is cool. Fold in meringue to coconut purée. Fold in whip cream.

To assemble:

Make sure cake is cool down completely. Alternate layers of coconut cake and mousse. Freeze before cutting. Thaw and serve. 

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