Jan 12, 2012

Hawaii's Backyard Citrus

Lemons from my backyard
The first citrus trees were brought to Hawaii in the early 1800's. These first trees grew and produced so well, that many more varieties were imported and hybridized in the years to come. Today Hawaii's citrus industry barely exists except for backyard gardens and small orchards. One small 7 acre organic farm worth mentioning is Poamoho Organic Produce located in Waialua on the North Shore of Oahu, a thriving certified organic tropical fruit orchard, specializing in tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, lychee, longan, avocado, breadfruit, jackfruit, herbs and citrus. Unfortunately Poamoho Organic Produce is not open to the public but they do sell their produce to Whole Foods at Kahala Mall on Oahu. http://www.poamoho-organic.com/index.html

Regardless of Hawaii's lack of large citrus growers, citrus continues to thrive here. Oranges are common in Hawaii home gardens. The Washington navel orange tree, known for its seedless, sweet fruit, grows throughout the state. Mandarin oranges are also commonly grown by casual Hawaii home gardeners. Grapefruit, particularly Ruby Red and other warmth-loving species; and pummelo fruits, which are similar to grapefruit; also flourish in Hawaii. Meyer lemon, tangelo, and several types of lime trees thrive in Hawaii's warm island climate.

Egg-Lemon Soup with Chicken and Avocado
6 chicken thighs
1 cup of celery roughly chopped
1 cup of carrots roughly chopped
1- 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, crushed
1/2 cup Jasmine rice, or other long grain white rice
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 beaten eggs (yolk only)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 avocados sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 whole lemon sliced thin for garnish

In a large soup pot, boil chicken thighs with celery, carrots and ginger in 8 1/2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 hour, uncovered. While chicken and stock is cooking, pour rice into a bowl and soak with water for about 15 minutes. Stir the milk and cornstarch together in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and beat the eggs. The mixture should become a yellowish color. After the chicken has cooked, remove from stock and shred, discarding the bones. Remove celery, carrots and ginger from stock and discard. Drain the rice and add it to the 8 cups of chicken stock. Lower heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the rice is puffy and tender (about 15 minutes). Remove the lid on the soup and reduce the temperature to low. Add the milk, egg mixture. Stir carefully and continue to cook until it thickens for about 5 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and shredded chicken. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls. Add avocado, parsley and fresh lemon slices for garnish. Makes 6 servings.

Linguine & Asparagus with
Creamy 'Bagna Cauda' Sauce

Bagna Cauda, pronounced (BAHN-yah KOW-dah), is a dish that is a specialty of Piedmont, Italy. Translated, it means "hot bath or warm sauce”. Olive oil, is gently warmed with garlic cloves, anchovies and fresh black pepper until the oil is scented, then cream, lemon and capers are added to make a delicious Tuscan pasta sauce. Traditionally the Piedmontese ate raw and cooked vegetables dipped in Bagna Cauda Sauce along with rivers of delicious red wine and hot crusty bread.

2 garlic cloves, minced
7 flat anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly grated
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons brine-packed capers, rinsed and drained
1 pound linguine
1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed and cut at an angle into 2 inch pieces

Cook garlic, anchovies and black pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add cream and lemon zest and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and capers and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook linguine in a large pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente (about 10 minutes), adding asparagus 2 minutes before pasta is ready. Drain, then toss with sauce. Serve with hot crusty bread. Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Cookies
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Lemon Cookies
These cake like cookies are sweet and tangy all at the same time, and very addictive.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar, for rolling plus more for dusting

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large sized bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, and beat on low speed just until combined. Do not over beat. The dough will be sticky, so chill it for about 30 minutes.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, form the dough into a walnut sized ball as much as possible, and roll it in the powdered sugar, covering it completely. Place the balls of dough on the cookie sheets spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 13-15 minutes, or until the middle is completely set and not dark on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack, then dust with more powdered sugar. Cookies can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature. Makes about 2 dozen good sized cookies.

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