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Who's cooking: Doreen Bates

Doreen Bates, with her dish of tropical shrimp

Doreen Bates, with her dish of tropical shrimp inside a coconut, a look she got from a restaurant. (Aug. 19, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Ed Betz

A personnel manager for a major retailer, she lives in Stony Brook with her husband.


What got you interested in cooking? My mother used to entertain my father's colleagues at dinner parties. She used to take canned fruit cocktail, put it into a beautiful crystal goblet, and when she presented it, it was like giving a gift. That intrigued me. So when I first started cooking, I focused on the presentation. Later on, I started concentrating on the gift itself. I started watching Julia Child. I read "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I have many, many cookbooks.

Are there dishes you are famous for? I like diversity. My aunts, my mother, my grandparents were all good Italian cooks. So for me to serve a traditional Italian dinner to my family, that wouldn't excite them. Last Christmas, I made lobster thermidor for 16 people. I had lobster shells in my hair! But by the time everyone arrived, I was cleaned up and so was the kitchen. I'm planning something bigger this year.


Where did you get this shrimp recipe? I have an old piece of paper with this recipe on it, but I don't know where it came from. Many years ago, we were at a Brazilian restaurant, and I had a shrimp dish served in a coconut. I loved the look, the dish was delicious. When I saw this recipe, it reminded me of that restaurant. I said to myself, "If I make this dish, I'm serving it in a coconut." So that's what I do. I hang a shrimp over the edge of each coconut, and I put a paper umbrella in each, too.

What's the best way to remove the tops of the coconut shells? I've read that if you heat the coconuts at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, when you take them out of the oven and wrap them in kitchen towels you can use a hammer to remove the tops. But I've never tried that. I usually have my husband use his power tools.



1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large red pepper, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium tomatoes, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
2 teaspoons Tabasco
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
4 coconuts with tops cut off (optional), drained
1/2 cup fresh parsley

1. Combine shrimp, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
2. In a medium pot, heat olive oil over low heat. Cook red pepper, onion and tomatoes until softened. Add coconut milk, Tabasco, chopped garlic, remaining 2 teaspoons salt and remaining ¾ teaspoon black pepper. Turn heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in shrimp and cook until just pink, about six minutes more. Serve in coconut shells if desired. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Makes four servings.

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