Nov 29, 2018

Cookies To Remember

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The Emperor's Pillow
These crispy little banana-nut wonton cookies are a great way to impress your friends, and it's very easy. They are filled with a combination of bananas, macadamia nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkled with more brown sugar and cinnamon. I've tried baking these, but frying works better. Eat them while they are hot and crispy, Yum!

Ingredients:
canola oil for frying
1 package of wonton wrappers (a 16 ounce package contains 50 wontons)
ripe bananas cut into thin slices (I use apple bananas here in Hawaii)
cinnamon and brown sugar, mixed

macadamia butter (recipe below)

Ingredients for macadamia butter:
1 cup crushed macadamia nuts, toasted a couple of minutes in a dry skillet
butter, softened
cinnamon
brown sugar

Procedure:
To make macadamia butter, simply place toasted macadamia nuts in a food processor with a little butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. Process until they are finely chopped, but not too fine. To assemble, fill a small cereal bowl with water. Place one wonton on a plate. Place two thin slices of banana and about 1/2 teaspoon of macadamia-nut butter in the middle of the wonton. Dip your finger in the water and coat the outside edges of the wonton with a little water. Then pull two opposite corners together and squeeze the points of the wonton to seal. Repeat this step with the other two corners. Finally press together the edges to completely seal the pillow. Continue this process until you have as many pillows as you want. 

In a small pot or wok, heat about 1 1/2 inches of canola oil to 360˚F. Fry pillows, one at a time, until golden brown, turning often with a slotted spoon. It should be ready when it is a light golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place hot pillow on a paper towel lined plate and while still hot, sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. Make as many as you like, but remember to eat them while they are hot and crispy. 

Note: Leftover wontons can be easily cut into 1/4" ribbons with a sharp knife, then fried and sprinkled with a little salt. Put these over salads, like Oriental Chicken Salad, or you can sprinkle leftover cinnamon and brown sugar on the fried wonton ribbons and serve them for dessert over orange sherbet.




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Chocolate Bourbon Balls
This is an easy, no-bake recipe. I make these for Christmas every year to give as gifts, they are delicious and very potent. They should not be served without checking the recipients ID.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries or cranberries
1/4 cup Makers Mark bourbon (you can use whatever brand you like, this is my favorite)
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (15.25 ounce package of Orios with cream centers removed, then crushed)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup finely chopped pecans to roll the bourbon balls in

Procedure:
In a small bowl, let 1/2 cup finely chopped cherries macerate in 1/4 cup of Makers Mark bourbon for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, combine well 2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs, 1/2 cup each of firmly packed dark brown sugar and finely chopped pecans, the cherry mixture, 1/4 cup molasses, 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls and firmly roll the balls in finely chopped pecans. Store the bourbon balls in an airtight container in your refrigerator for at least 1 week before serving. Makes about 30 servings.


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Fried Apple Banana Fritters
Fried Banana Fritters are popular all over Asia. It's important to use the right banana for this dessert. The Apple Banana here in Hawaii is perfect, with a sweet/sour flavor. In my opinion this dessert/breakfast food is much better than Hawaii's iconic malasada, which is basically a fried doughnut hole.

These fritters are crispy on the outside, filled with a ripe apple banana chunk, that is tender and moist on the inside. Using ice-cold soda water helps the batter to get crispy, but you want to make sure that you don't put too much soda water in the batter, adding it slowly as you stir, keeping it thick. It's also a good idea to drain the grease from the fritters on a paper towel after they are fried so they are not oily, and use oil that has not been used before. Then simply dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey, very simple. Wait until you've tried these!

Ingredients:
3 ripe apple bananas, chopped into bite sized chunks
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil (to add to batter)
1/2 cup club soda (ice cold)
Canola oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
Honey for drizzling

Procedure:
In a large bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, corn starch, rice flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil until smooth and thick.

Now slowly add the ice cold club soda and whisk gently just until well incorporated and smooth.

In a wok, or small skillet, heat one inch of oil on medium-high heat. While waiting for the oil to come up to temperature, 325˚F, begin dipping the apple banana chunks into the batter. Using a slotted spoon, test the temperature of the oil by carefully dropping a small bit of the batter into the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the batter should begin to bubble up and lightly brown within a few seconds.

Adjust heat to medium then carefully place the battered banana chunks into the hot oil, leaving enough room in between them to turn over. Fry on each side for just about 2 or 3 minutes or so until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Repeat as necessary with remaining banana chunks. Keep the fritters warm in a 200˚F oven, this will keep them crisp.

Place warm bananas on a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey before serving, or serve with vanilla ice-cream. Makes 18 fritters depending on the size of the bananas.


Note: If you don't have self-rising flour, you can make your own by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Also make sure your baking powder is current. Check the expiration date on the box. Baking powder can lose its potency over time, which means your baked goods won't rise as they should.


Nov 28, 2018

Savory, tender and affordable, Pork Rib Brisket


Oven-Roasted Rosemary Pork Rib Brisket
The difference between a pork rib brisket cut and spareribs is that it is located more toward the belly of the pig and has less bone-in and a little more fat. The pork rib brisket is savory, tender and affordable. Many chefs smoke pork rib brisket, but it can be braised and oven-roasted as well. I bought this 2 1/2 pound pork rib brisket at Friendly market here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i for $8.52, that's $2.13 per serving... how can you beat that?

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pound pork rib brisket
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef stock, heated
4 cups water, heated

Procedure:
These ribs cook low and slow in a preheated 350˚F oven. Make a dry rub by combining chili powder, salt, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard, and fresh rosemary. Season the raw brisket on both sides with the rub. Place in a foil lined roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.

At that point, add heated beef stock and enough hot water to yield about 1/2 inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower the oven temperature to 300˚F, and continue cooking for 3 hours more, uncovered, or until the pork brisket is fork-tender. At this point you will see that the brisket has lost a lot of its fat and gained a lot of flavor. The other good thing is that your kitchen will be filled with a wonderful aroma for 4 hours and people will start gathering around asking when's dinner?

Slice the rib brisket into individual servings. Serve with fresh corn on the cob and potato salad, or whatever you like (see recipe index).

Makes 4 servings.

Note: If you don't like rosemary or can't find it fresh, then serve with your favorite BBQ sauce.


Nov 25, 2018

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water



Hawaiian's generally do not use very many seasonings in their food. Sea salt is the primary seasoning, and I would say soy sauce would be second. However if you live in Hawaii you may have seen Hawaiian chili pepper water in stores, or at farmers' markets. 

On Moloka'i, chili pepper water is a common seasoning used for sprinkling on steak, pork, fish, laulau, even on eggs. At the heart of this hot sauce is the Hawaiian chili pepper (nioi), a small red or yellow pepper that has been in the Islands since around 1815, but is actually native to Mexico. These peppers will blow your head off if eaten alone. They are easy to grow and the plants are sometimes found at our Saturday morning farmers' market. If you like hot sauce, try and make this recipe yourself, it's very easy, but be sure you wash your hands after handling these peppers, you don't want to get the juice from them in your eyes.
Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
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Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
Ingredients:
1 cup fresh red Hawaiian chili peppers, stems removed and halved
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 quarter-sized slices fresh ginger, bruised
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut into thin strips (or crushed and left whole)
1 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cups hot water (not boiling)

Procedure:
Combine the ingredients in a clean and sterilized pint bottle or jar. Pour in about 2 cups of hot water and let the mixture steep at room temperature overnight, then refrigerate. It keeps indefinitely.

Makes 1 pint.