Jun 27, 2012

Hawaii's Chicken and Egg Crisis

If you live in Hawaii you know that almost everything is imported from chicken to toilet paper. In 2004, the last chicken processor in Hawaii closed. Because of the high cost of importing feed (corn) to Hawaii, commercial poultry production is no longer economically viable. This means Hawaii will have to pay higher prices for imported chicken in our grocery stores. For more than a century, Hawaii has relied on the families that have dedicated generations to keeping fresh eggs on local plates. Today there is less than a handful of these local egg farms left. Mikilua Poultry on Oahu is the largest in the state, selling under the familiar Ka Lei, Hawaiian Maid, Maile and Times brands. The Peterson Upland Farm is another egg farm on Oahu that has been in business for 100 years. Hawaii only has one chicken hatchery, Asagi Hatchery, selling chicks, eggs, and feed since 1935. They not only supply island egg farms with chicks, but also farms in Guam, Palau, Samoa and the northern Marianas. If Asagi Hatchery were to close, those farms would be desperate, because the chicks can't survive being flown all the way in from the U.S. Mainland. The Asagi Hatchery is located at 1830 Kanakanui St., in Honolulu. Website: http://asagihatchery.com/. Unfortunately it is beginning to look like Hawaii is in danger of becoming the eggless, chicken-less state, unless more of us support these struggling farms. Note: Nutrient-rich, all-natural eggs are a welcome addition to any diet. One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, healthy unsaturated fats and antioxidants, for only 70 calories.

Chicken and Egg Recipes:

Tortilla Española
Tortilla is one of the most popular tapas dishes in Spain. It is basically a potato omelette, and is not to be confused with the Mexican maize tortilla. This Spanish tapa tastes great whether served warm, cool, or at room temperature. It makes an excellent breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, or crowd-pleasing tapa.

1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced to 1/8" thick
1 cup sliced yellow onions
1 teaspoon salt
6 whole eggs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, add the potatoes, and cook, turning frequently, for 10 minutes. Stir in the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook and stir for 25 more minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the oil and transfer the potatoes into a bowl. Wipe the skillet clean. Beat the eggs, paprika, and remaining salt and pepper together and stir in the potatoes. Heat 1 tablespoon reserved oil in the skillet over medium-low heat. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Cook until just set – 5 to 7 minutes. Loosen the sides with a spatula, place a heat-proof plate facedown over the skillet, and invert the tortilla. Heat remaining oil in the skillet over low heat. Slide in tortilla, cooked side up. Cook for 3 more minutes. Slide tortilla onto a plate. Cool slightly before serving. Note: I like to serve this as pupus (Hawaiian for appetizers) by cutting the tortilla into bite size squares or circles, then put a dab of sour cream on top of each square, then sprinkle chopped fresh chives or caviar on top. Makes 12 pupu servings.

Chicken Liver Crostini
Crostini means "little toasts" in Italian. These little toasts are topped with finely chopped chicken livers, and lots of other good things.

2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces chicken livers, trimmed of veins, tendons, and sinew
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 teaspoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves (about 4 medium leaves)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 sweet baguette, sliced and toasted

Place chopped anchovies on a cutting board and make a paste by dragging the side of a chef’s knife across them at a 15-degree angle about 10 times or until smooth; set aside. Melt butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat until foaming. Add anchovy paste, onion, salt, and pepper and sauté until onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium high, add chicken livers, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until livers are browned all over, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add sherry and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, capers, and sage and simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the livers are cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer livers to a cutting board, and reserve onion mixture in the pan. When cool enough to handle, finely chop the livers until they’re about the size of popcorn kernels. Return livers to the pan and stir in vinegar. Serve on toasted baguette slices. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Pupu-style GARLIC Chicken Wings
You and your guests will love these party chicken wings, laced with garlic.

3 pounds chicken wings & drummettes
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
canola oil for frying.

Garlic sauce:
2 cups soy sauce
2 cups sugar
1 cup minced garlic (yes, 1 cup!)
1/2 cup minced green onion
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili flakes
salt & pepper to taste

Combine sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or until sugar caramelizes slightly. Strain the sauce to eliminate the minced garlic, then set aside. Season flour and cornstarch with salt and pepper and mix together. Dredge chicken in flour and cornstarch mixture, deep fry or fry in large frying pan. Dip in garlic sauce and serve. Makes 12 servings.

Frisee Salad with Bacon & Eggs
Frisee is a feathery salad green with a slightly bitter flavor. It is a favorite spring time treat for me. In France this salad is often called "Salade aux Lardons", combining tasty morsels of bacon with frisee, and then coated with a warm bacon vinaigrette dressing and topped with a poached egg.

Frisee Salad with Bacon & Eggs
4 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1-by-1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
12 ounces frisee, torn into pieces, or watercress
salt and ground pepper
4 poached eggs
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

In a medium skillet, cook bacon over medium, tossing occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Set bacon aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from skillet; return skillet to heat. Add mustard and vinegar; stir, scraping up browned bits until dressing is combined. In a large bowl, toss frisee with warm dressing. Add bacon, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, topped with a poached egg garnished with a pinch of cayenne pepper and minced chives. Makes 4 servings.

Toasted Pine Nut Chicken Salad
The pine nut actually comes from a pine tree, the pinyon pine, but doesn't taste at all like turpentine. It is common today for commercial gatherers to harvest thousands of pounds of pinyon seeds for distribution in health food stores and outlets for gourmet chefs.

1/2 pound skinless and boneless chicken breast meat, cut into 1/4-inch thick strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 small bell peppers, 1 green and 1 red, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh ground garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
8 leaves romaine lettuce (for garnish)
1 tomato, cut into 8 wedges (for garnish)
4 sprigs fresh curly leaf parsley (for garnish)

Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper to taste. Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the chicken, over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. When the chicken is golden brown, scatter the pine nuts, peppers, dill, and garlic over the chicken, and add the vinegar. Shake the pan to distribute the peppers and herbs evenly. Continue cooking 5 minutes more or until the peppers are soft and chicken is cooked through. Adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper. To serve: Lay 2 leaves of romaine on each of the four salad plates. Divide the chicken, peppers, and pine nuts between the four plates and garnish each plate with 2 wedges of tomato. Top each plate with a sprig of the parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Asian Chicken Salad
This is a simple chicken salad with a delicious Asian vinaigrette salad dressing.

Ingredients for Asian salad:
2 chicken breasts
1 head romaine lettuce
1/2 cucumber
1 red bell pepper
1 carrot
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Asian vinaigrette, see recipe below

Ingredients for Asian Vinaigrette:
1/2 teaspoon wasabi
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil

Bake chicken with salt, pepper and canola oil at 400˚F, until cooked through and juices run clear (about 1 hour, covered in foil). Let cool completely, then shred the chicken going with the grain. Lightly toast almonds in the oven at the same time as chicken. Be careful they will burn quickly. Cut romaine into 1/4 inch thick strips. Peel carrot. Once the carrot is peeled use peeler to peel carrot strips. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.For the dressing, chop the garlic and grate the ginger. Mix wasabi, Dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, in a medium size bowl. Make sure the mixture is well blended. Slowly whisk in sesame oil and canola oil until mixed well. Don't mix too fast or it will separate. This dressing does separate over time so you will need to remix the dressing before adding it to the salad. Makes 4 servings.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap
Wraps are very popular these days. I think you will like this light, refreshing chicken recipe.

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup sliced water chestnuts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 large leaves of colorful pliable lettuce, like red leaf, or Boston
1/4 small cabbage, sliced thin
3 to 4 carrots cut into matchsticks
1/4 pound snow peas sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the chicken, lightly brown one side. Add the sesame and chili oil, onion and water chestnuts. Finish browning the chicken. Add soy sauce and set aside to cool slightly. Lay out a dry lettuce leaves, removing the stem if stiff. Place a couple of spoonfuls of the chicken mixture at the stem end. Add cabbage, carrots, peas and cilantro. Roll the lettuce like a burrito. Repeat for the other leaves. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken Adobo in Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is used a lot in Asian countries, and here in Hawaii. It has a wonderful flavor, that works well with chicken.

2 tablespoons garlic
1 large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
3 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a soup pot, saute garlic and onion in olive oil. Add chicken and 2 cups coconut milk. Then add black pepper, salt, ginger and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Add cayenne pepper. Add remaining coconut milk, stir and simmer 2 to 3 minutes until sauce is thick and oily. Serve over hot rice. Makes 4 servings.

Moroccan Chicken with Olives 
This delicious braised chicken dish is traditionally made with preserved lemons, which is basically lemons preserved in salt for months, then rinsed and used in Moroccan dishes. I have substituted lemon zest for those of us who may not have preserved lemons on hand. The lemon zest and olives work beautifully together, giving the sauce tons of flavor. Serve this dish with couscous instead of rice, you'll be glad you did.

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
zest from one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil 
6 chicken thighs
1 onion, thinly sliced and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pitted green olives, sliced

In a food processor combine the cilantro, parsley, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Process for 2 minutes or until herbs are finely chopped. Rinse the chicken with cool water, then pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Massage the chicken skin with the herb rub. Set aside and let the chicken marinate for 15 minutes. Heat a pan over medium heat then add sliced onion, garlic, and saute for 15 minutes. Add spices: black pepper, salt, ginger, saffron, and turmeric and sauté for 3 minutes. Add chicken thighs and the reserved marinade mix. Cover the pan and lower the heat; let the chicken simmer for 35 minutes. Add the green olives and simmer with the chicken for approximately 10 -15 minutes longer. Note: Do not add water or any liquid to this dish. Makes 4 servings.

Pelau is an iconic one-pot stew from Trinidad made with either chicken or beef.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar (white or brown)
1 chicken, cut up (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), or substitute goat meat or beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup pigeon peas, soaked overnight, or substitute black-eyed peas
2 cups rice
3 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups cubed fresh Hubbard squash
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bunch scallions or green onion, chopped including the greens
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons butter

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or skillet. With the heat on high, add the sugar and let it caramelize until it is almost burned, stirring constantly. Add the chicken (or meat) and stir until all the pieces are covered with the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Drain the pigeon peas and add them to the pot along with the rice, water, and coconut milk. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stir until well mixed, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. The pelau should be moist at the end of the cooking time. Makes 4-6 servings.

Thai Chicken, Mango, Mint Stir-Fry
We enjoy the best mangos here in Hawaii. The key to this low-fat, low-calorie dish, is to use a fully ripe mango.
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 mango
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup sliced shallots or chopped onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 cup chicken stock
4 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks. In bowl, stir together chicken, cornstarch, soy sauce and pepper; let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and cut mango into 1/2-inch chunks. Set aside. In a wok, heat oil over medium-high heat; stir-fry shallots until golden, about 3 minutes. Add chicken mixture, hot pepper and garlic; stir-fry for 4 minutes. Stir in mango and red pepper until combined. Add chicken stock, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar; bring to boil and boil, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in mint. Serve with plenty of Jasmine rice. Makes 4 servings.

Coconut Flan
We have flan all the time in our house, it is a dessert that is enjoyed worldwide. This version adds coconut and rum to the mix for a delicious tropical island taste.

Equipment12 (4-ounce) ramekins

Ingredients for caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Ingredients for flan:
3 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons dark rum

Procedure to make caramel:
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber. Immediately pour into ramekins and swirl so caramel coats bottom of each, then put ramekins in a large roasting pan.

Procedure to make flan:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Blend 2 cups milk with remaining flan ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, then divide among ramekins. Bake flan in a water bath until just set but still wobbly in center, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove ramekins from water bath and cool slightly on a rack, at least 15 minutes (flan will continue to set as it cools). Just before serving, run a thin knife around each flan, then invert onto plates. Makes 12 servings.

Jun 20, 2012

Shave Ice – The Hot "New" Way To Be Cool

"Rainbow" shave ice from Big Daddy's, Moloka'i
click on photos to view larger
Big Daddy's shave ice machine
Adding all the flavors of the rainbow
From the Imperial Woodpecker on Manhattan, to Ryupin on Okinawa, to Big Daddy's on Moloka'i, "Shave Ice" is the hot "new" way to be cool. 

In Hawaii, shave ice has evolved into a Hawaiian signature dessert. Since 1934, shave ice has been made by machines that produce a very fine ice that appears snow-like. It is then mounded and coated with colorful tropical flavored syrup. Because the ice is so fine, the syrup stays in the ice, not at the bottom of the cone. 

You can also add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or azuki bean paste at the bottom of the cone, or top it off with a "snow cap"-some sweetened, condensed milk drizzled over the top. In Hawaii, you can find shave ice almost 24/7 at specialty shave ice stands, mom-and-pop stores, cafes, or even several adult versions found in bars, with alcohol added.

Actually shave ice is not "new" at all, and is not even Hawaiian. It was first introduced to Hawaii by Japanese immigrants working on sugar plantations in the 1920s. They would shave fine pieces of ice from large blocks of ice using Japanese swords that were family heirlooms. 

The Japanese have been making shave ice since the Heian Period, 794 to 1185, and is known as "kakigōri" in Japan. Originally ice was brought down from the mountains and stored in caves, then shaved and served only to royalty. 

When first introduced to Hawaii, shave ice was sold solely on Sundays, the only day of the week immigrants rested. With the decline of Hawaiian sugar’s popularity, these immigrants moved off the plantations and opened their own family grocery stores. There they sold household goods along with shave ice which proved to be a huge commercial success. 

In 1934, the first shaved ice machine was invented in New Orleans, Louisiana by Ernest Hansen, called the "Sno-Bliz™". It was a machine that would spin a block of ice over an ice shaving blade. After 73 years that same machine is still being used in the original ice shaving shop, Hansen's Sno-Bliz™ and Sweetshop Inc., operated by Hansen's granddaughter, Ashley, in New Orleans.

Shave ice exists all over the world today and is known by different names, but the best shave ice is only found in Hawaii. While on Maui, try: Ululani's Shave Ice in Lahaina, or Local Boys Snack Shop in Kihei. If you are on my island of Moloka'i, try: Big Daddy's, in Kaunakakai, or Coffee's of Hawaii in Kualapuu. On the Big Island, try: Avenue Ice Cream in Waimea, or Tropical Island Flavors in Kailua-Kona. Oahu has the largest number of shave ice places in the state, try: Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa, Shimazu Store in Kalihi, Ailana Shave Ice in Ala Moana, Waiola Shave Ice in Moilili or Jung's Shave Ice in Honolulu. 

No matter what island you’re on, Manhattan, to Okinawa, to Moloka'i grab a shave ice, it's the hot new way to be cool on hot sunny days. Aloha!

Jun 17, 2012

The Insatiable Hawaiian Sweet Tooth

Pineapple Perfection Cake
Click on photo to enlarge
When they said "the sweet life", they were talking about Hawaii. As soon as you arrive on the Hawaiian Islands and the warm tropical breezes brush over your face, you smell the sweet fragrance of the plumeria flower. But that's only the beginning, you still haven't tasted the sweet life that Hawaii has to offer. Oh yes, Hawaii has it's share of tropical sweet treats, everything from Hawaiian sweet bread, shave ice, malasadas, haupia, mochi, kulolo, to mango, pineapple, papaya, and banana. The insatiable Hawaiian sweet tooth is alive and well. 


Pineapple Perfection Cake
Perfection is an understatement, you have to try this recipe!

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped fine

1/2 cup flaked coconut
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the sour cream mixture. Stir in pineapple. Transfer to a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350˚F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Cover cake lightly with a sheet of foil during the last few minutes of cooking to keep the coconut from getting too brown. Also if you like nuts in your cake, add 1/2 cup of chopped and toasted Macadamia nuts to the batter. Makes 9 servings.

Mango Cheesecake
2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Juice from half a lime
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pound sour cream
8 tablespoons mango puree (see note)

Preheat oven to 325˚F with rack in the middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or 1 tablespoon butter. Using metal knife in a food-processor, process cream cheese 30 seconds. Scrape container. With machine running, add sugar and butter; process 10 seconds. Scrape again. With machine running, add eggs, vanilla, lime juice, flour and cornstarch. Process 15 seconds, scrape, then process 5 seconds longer. Add sour cream and puree; pulse until incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 1 hour. Do not open oven door. Remove and cool completely in pan. Refrigerate 12 hours or up to 2 days. Remove from pan to serve and decorate with mango slices, or mango puree. For puree, scoop the flesh out of a mango and puree in a blender or food processor fitted with metal blade.

Mango Pudding
2 large ripe mangoes (make abouts 2 cups mango puree)
1/2 cup hot water
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin (I use Knorr's Gelatin)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
Fresh mango slices, raspberries, or kiwi slices for garnish, optional

Peel the mangoes and slice the flesh of the mango from the pit. Put the slices into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

In a large glass bowl, add the gelatin to hot water and stir until dissolved. Let the gelatin mixture stand for about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and evaporated milk and and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the mango puree and mix well.

Pour the mixture into ramekins, wine glasses, or small shallow dishes. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight. After the pudding is chilled, you can garnish with fresh mango slices, raspberries or kiwis (if using). Makes 4-6 servings.

Coconut Chocolate Pie
(9 inch) unbaked pie crust
1 cup milk
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake crust for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool. In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, coconut milk and 1 cup sugar. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in water. Bring coconut mixture to a boil. Reduce to simmer and slowly whisk in the cornstarch. Continue stirring mixture over low heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. In a glass bowl, microwave chocolate chips for 1 minute or until melted. Divide the coconut pudding evenly into two bowls. Mix chocolate into one portion. Spread on the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the remaining portion of pudding on top of the chocolate and spread smooth. Refrigerate for about an hour. Whip cream with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Layer the cream on pie; if desired garnish with toasted coconut flakes.

Pineapple Cream Pie
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons white sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons apricot jam
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
1 (15.25 ounce) can sliced pineapple, drained with juice reserved

To Make Pastry Cream: In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup of milk with flour, then stir in the egg yolks. Mix well. Heat sugar and remaining 1 cup of milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and heat until boiling. Turn down heat to low and keep cooking until mixture thickens. Stir in vanilla. Set aside for 15 minutes. To Make Glaze: In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice with jam until thickened. Pour cooled pastry cream into pie shell. Cut pineapple slices into quarters and arrange them decoratively on top of pastry cream. Brush pie with glaze.

Rum Raisin Rice Pudding
2 small boxes of raisins
6 tablespoons of rum
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup overcooked rice

One half hour before cooking, put raisins to soak in rum. In a large pan combine milk, sugar, cream & set aside. Dissolve cornstarch with 1/4 of the milk mixture In another bowl, beat egg, add vanilla & cornstarch mixture, beat well, and set aside. Heat original milk mixture, add cornstarch and egg mixture, and whisk. Continue cooking, stir constantly until mixture thickens, remove from heat. Add raisins, rice & rum to cooked pudding. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

Banana-Brown Sugar Ice Cream
1 1/4-pounds very ripe bananas (6-7 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups coconut milk or full-fat sour cream
big pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: lemon juice

In a wide skillet or saucepan, heat the brown sugar with one-quarter of the coconut milk or sour cream, stirring, until smooth and bubbly. Add the bananas and salt, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the bananas are soft and completely cooked through. It should take about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining coconut milk or sour cream, rum and vanilla. Taste, and add a few drops of fresh lemon juice if it tastes too sweet. Puree in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If it’s too thick when you take it out of the refrigerator, whisk it briskly, which should thin it out so you can pour it into your machine.) Makes about 3 cups.

Tahitian Lime Pie
Tahitian limes are a variety of lime that grows here on Moloka’i, they have a fairly thin rind and their flesh is pale green, seedless, and very juicy when they are ripe. Tahitian limes are often used in the well-known key lime pie because key limes are often not available in Hawaii. As far as I am concerned, Tahitian limes are much better than key limes. This is one of the best pies I have ever eaten, it is rich, and only a small slice is necessary. Trust me, you're going to love this recipe.

3 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Tahitian lime juice (about 4 or 5 ripe Tahitian limes)
1 tablespoon Tahitian lime zest ,using a microplane

For The Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

For the crust, place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs are the same size. Put cracker crumbs in a bowl and add the sugar and butter. Mix to combine. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool.

Use an electric mixer and beat the yolks until thick and turn to a light yellow, don't over mix. Beat in the condensed milk, lime juice and rind. Pour into the prebaked pie shell and bake for 12 minutes. Once it has completely cooled, cover and refrigerate, about 4 hours. To serve, whip the cream and sugar. Pipe a lattice pattern on top, or spoon dollops around the edge. Makes 8 servings.

Papaya Pie
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 cups (about 1 medium papaya) fresh papaya cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust

For The Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

For the crust, place the graham cracker crumbs in a bowl and add the sugar and butter. Mix to combine. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool.

Whisk together brown sugar and white sugar. Add papayas and toss to coat. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Place papayas with its juices in a heavy saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Continue to cook about another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fruit is softened, but not falling apart.

Remove papaya mixture from the heat and let cool until lukewarm. Stir in beaten egg with a large fork until well-combined, taking care to leave the fruit in chunks.

Pour papaya filling into graham cracker pie crust. Bake for about 45 minutes. Let papaya pie cool before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings (1 pie)

Tahitian Lime Mango Ice
2 ripe mangoes
zest and juice of 2 Tahitian limes
1/3 cup superfine sugar*

Peel mangoes and carefully cut the flesh away from each mango's pit, then roughly chop the flesh. In a blender, Add the chopped mangoes, lime zest, and lime juice. Add the sugar and 1/4 cup cold water, and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour the blended mixture into four serving glasses, and place in freezer for 1 hour. Makes 4 refreshing servings.

Cooks Notes*: Superfine sugar is nothing more than regular granulated sugar, but is finer. To make superfine sugar, pour sugar into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Cover food processor with a kitchen towel to keep the sugar dust from escaping into your kitchen. Turn the food processor on high speed for 1 or 2 minutes. Your superfine sugar is now ready to be used.

Banana Pudding Pie
1 9-inch pie crust, prepped, baked and cooled
2 cups chopped vanilla wafers
2 small bananas
1-8 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided
1 1/2 cups milk
1- 5.1 ounce box instant vanilla pudding
juice from one lemon
Caramel sauce for drizzling

Slice the bananas thin and then toss with the lemon juice. The lemon juice will prevent them from turning brown as fast as they normally would.

Whisk together the milk and pudding. Mix in half of the cool whip. Mix in 1 cup of the vanilla wafers and then the bananas. Scrape into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until set.
Top with the remaining Cool Whip, using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining vanilla wafers and then drizzle with the caramel sauce. Makes 8 servings.

Microwave Bread Pudding 
with Bourbon Sauce
4 cups King's Hawaiian Round Bread, sliced and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten

Ingredients for Bourbon Sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup bourbon (I use Maker's Mark bourbon)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

If your bread is less than a day old, you can “age” it by placing 1/2 inch slices in a 300˚F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then cut the slices into cubes. Spread bread cubes evenly in 8-inch round microwave-safe dish. Combine brown sugar, raisins, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle evenly over bread cubes. Set aside.

Place milk and butter in 4-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave at High for 4 minutes until butter is melted and milk is warm. Rapidly stir in eggs with a fork and blend well. Pour milk mixture over bread cubes. Microwave at Medium-high 9 to 12 minutes until center is set.

For the bourbon sauce, combine sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in 1-quart casserole dish. Combine water and bourbon. Gradually add to sugar mixture, stirring until smooth. Microwave at High 3 to 4 minutes stirring once. Add butter and salt and stir until blended. Serve warm over Bread Pudding. Makes 6 servings.

Jun 13, 2012

Asparagus: Always In Season In Hawaii

Sesame Asparagus with Bean Thread Noodles
Click on photo to view larger
On Oahu, Twin Bridge Farms in Waialua and others on Kaua'i, Maui and the Big Island are supplying local restaurants, farmers' markets and select grocers with fresh organic asparagus. Asparagus is from the lily family along with onions, leeks and garlic. It is a perennial vegetable, with individual plants lasting 10-20 years. The mature plant looks like a small shrub with lacy, fern-like foliage. In cold climates, the top growth of the asparagus plant dies, then grows back in the spring. In warm, wet climates like Hawaii, the top foliage, does not die back and the plants grow all year around.

Asparagus is considered to be a "superfood" because it is low in calories and carbohydrates and rich in vitamins and minerals. Compared to other vegetables, it is relatively rich in protein. Asparagus is an excellent source of potassium, vitamins A, C and K, riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid and vitamin B6. Asparagus is also a very good source of dietary fiber, niacin, phosphorus, and iron and suitable for use in low-sodium diets. Asparagus contains only 43 calories per 1-cup serving.

How to Choose and Store: You may have noticed that asparagus spears seem to come in two thicknesses, thick or thin (there really isn't any difference, it's a matter of your preference), look for firm, smooth stalks with tightly closed tips. The color should be bright and the ends should not be limp or dry. To store asparagus, trim the ends and wrap the bunch in a damp paper towel. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for two to three days. Or place the stalks, cut ends down, in a vase holding an inch of water. Cover the tops with a plastic bag and refrigerate. This versatile vegetable can be steamed, boiled, baked, grilled and eaten raw. Here are a few asparagus recipes to enjoy:

Roasted Parmesan Asparagus 
with Poached Eggs and Prosciutto
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
4 thin prosciutto slices, thinly sliced crosswise
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
20 asparagus spears, trimmed
1 2-ounce piece Parmesan cheese, shaved into strips
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; sauté until almost crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Toss asparagus on sheet with remaining oil, then arrange close together. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 12 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over; roast until melted, about 5 minutes. Divide among 4 plates. Cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, pour enough water into large skillet to reach depth of 2 inches. Add 1 teaspoon salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Crack 4 eggs, 1 at a time, into simmering water. Cook until whites are set but yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, gently transfer 1 egg to atop asparagus on each plate. Sprinkle each serving with prosciutto and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Sesame Asparagus with Bean Thread Noodles
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
a few drops chili oil (to taste)
3 2-ounce packages of bean thread noodles (rice noodles, I use Mum's brand)
3 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds

In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch (quickly cook) the asparagus until just tender (it should still have a snap), about 90 seconds. Remove asparagus with slotted spoon and quickly plunge them into a large bowl of ice water. Let cool for a few minutes, then drain and transfer onto paper towels to dry. Using the water you used to cook the asparagus, bring back to a boil then add bean thread noodles. Cook for 2 minutes (do not overcook). Drain noodles, then chop into 2" chunks and set aside.

In medium-sized bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and chili oil. Add asparagus and gently toss to coat. Divide noodles among 8 small bowls. Place coated asparagus on top of noodles. Pour sauce from asparagus bowl on top of each serving. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top. Serve at room temperature. Makes 8 appetizers.

Black Bean Asparagus with Beef
3/4 pound sirloin steak (London broil), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese salted black beans
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the beef across the grain into thin strips about 1 1/2 inches long. Add the marinade ingredients - the soy sauce, rice wine or dry sherry, 3/4 teaspoon sugar, Asian sesame oil, and cornstarch - one at a time, adding the cornstarch last (use your fingers to rub it in). Marinate the beef for 15 - 30 minutes.

Remove and discard the woody ends of the asparagus, then cut the asparagus on the diagonal into roughly 2 inch slices. Rinse the black beans to remove excess salt. Mash the beans with the side of a cleaver or the back of a spoon and chop. In a small bowl, stir together the chopped beans and garlic with a small amount of water. Heat the wok and add 1 cup oil. When the oil is medium-hot (between 300˚ and 325˚F.), add the beef. Blanch the beef by letting it lay flat for a few seconds, and then stirring to separate the pieces. Remove the beef when it changes color and is nearly cooked (the entire process takes about 1 minute). Remove the beef from the wok and drain. Wipe out the wok with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, add the bean/garlic mixture. Cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds until aromatic. Add the asparagus. Stir briefly, then add a pinch of salt, sugar, and the chicken broth. Cover and cook until asparagus is tender crisp (about 3 minutes). Add the beef back into the pan. Season with black pepper. Stir briefly and serve hot. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon with Roasted Asparagus 
and Lemon-Caper Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2-pound skinless salmon fillet (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut three 1/2-inch-deep slits crosswise in top of salmon (as if dividing into 4 equal pieces but do not cut through). Arrange asparagus in even layer on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and turn to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place salmon atop asparagus; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until salmon is just opaque in center, about 20 minutes. Transfer asparagus and salmon to platter. Spoon sauce over salmon. Cut into 4 pieces along slits and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Asparagus with Gremolata Butter
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until just crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water to cool quickly, and drain again. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Pat dry; wrap in paper towels, then plastic, and refrigerate. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lemon peel and garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add asparagus and toss to coat. Sprinkle lemon juice over. Sauté until asparagus is heated through and coated with butter sauce, about 3 minutes. Season asparagus with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Pickled Asparagus with Garlic
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 large glass jar

Wash and dry 1 1/2 pounds of fresh asparagus, trim off the tough, fibrous ends, and arrange them vertically in a large glass jar so that the tips are about 1/2 inch below the lid. In a pot, mix together 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of white wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of salt, 6 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly lengthwise, 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds, and 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds, and bring the mixture to a boil. The hot liquid is poured over the fresh asparagus in the jar. The entire jar is then left to cool to room temperature, then refrigerated, with the lid on, for 48 hours. (Thicker asparagus would take longer, possibly up to 3 days.) Imagine one or two of these in a cold bloody mary.

Jun 2, 2012

Eating Local Hawaiian Strawberries

Sweet Maui strawberries grown & packed by
Noel Escobedo Farm.

Click on photo to view larger. 
California is the leading producer of strawberries in the nation, and most of these berries come from the Salinas and Watsonville area. Having lived near Salinas, I am very familiar with these large red strawberries. They were dirt cheap and delicious because they were locally grown and picked ripe. Fortunately Hawaii produces its own strawberries. These strawberries are not picked until all of the sugar has developed into the fruit when they are ripe and sweet. It wasn't until I moved to Hawaii that I realized I had never really tasted great strawberries. It must be the clean air, temperature, aloha, something. Hawaii grown strawberries are packed with intense strawberry flavor. Here on Moloka'i and everywhere else in Hawaii, strawberries can be found in grocery stores and open markets. Unfortunately they are California strawberries. 

Waimea, on the island of Hawaii, is the main producer of strawberries in the State, and is known for having large and especially sweet strawberries. One food blogger put it this way "If you haven’t eaten Waimea strawberries, you haven’t quite lived yet. They are so sweet, they taste like perfume!" One of my favorite local strawberry farms is on the island of Maui, Kula Country Farms. They produce a year-round crop of these delicious berries on their 55 acre farm, and sell about a thousand cases a week. You can find their Kula Strawberries at their farm stand located past mile marker 13 on Kula Highway across from Rice Park. Call them at (808) 878-8381 or visit http://www.kulacountryfarmsmaui.com/. Tip: bring cash, they don’t take credit cards. Another strawberry farm in Kula, on Maui, is Coca Farms. They grow a variety of strawberry called "camarosa". The fruit from this variety is very large and firm and holds up well in rainy weather. Also the Noel Escobedo Farm, shown in the photo above. Many of Hawaii's top chefs are serving strawberries from these farms. More people are demanding locally made, locally grown foods, and the farmers and the markets are responding. I am also a big advocate of eating fresh food that comes from where we live, and eating locally grown fresh strawberries is the way to go.

Strawberry tips: For best flavor, do not wash the strawberries until you are ready to eat or use them. Moisture is the enemy when it comes to storing strawberries. As strawberries tastes best at room temperature, remove from the refrigerator approximately 1 hour before they are to be used. Store fresh strawberries in a colander in the refrigerator. This allows the cold air to circulate around them. Do not cover them. Remove caps from strawberries only after washing (the caps keep the water from breaking down the texture and flavor inside the strawberries). Remove the green caps (stems) with a light twisting motion or with the point of a paring knife.

Strawberry Nutrition: Strawberries are not only good to eat, they are also "good for us." They are an especially tasty source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Strawberries are low in calories: one cup of unsweetened strawberries has only 55 calories.


Dark Chocolate-Yogurt Dip
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons Hershey's unsweetened 100% cocoa powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until it is an even dark color and all of the brown sugar granules have dissolved, about 3 minutes.

For dipping, serve with fresh Maui strawberries, fresh pineapple sticks, sliced apple bananas, marshmallows, graham crackers, pound cake cut into squares, macadamia nuts, etc..

Makes 1 serving.

Strawberry Salad with Blueberries
Honey Mustard Dressing (see recipe below)
2 bunches fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried, and chilled
1 cup thickly-sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon sliced almonds or sesame seeds, toasted
1 small red onion, thinly-sliced (optional)
Fresh blueberries (for garnish)

Prepare Honey Mustard Dressing; set aside. Remove stems and veins from spinach and tear into bite-sized pieces; place into a large salad bowl. Toss spinach with 1/4 cup of Honey Mustard Dressing for every 6 cups of spinach greens; toss gently. Add strawberries, sliced almonds or sesame seeds, and onion; toss again and serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Strawberry Sorbet
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 pints fresh ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons vodka

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand approximately 10 minutes.

Lightly rinse and dry the strawberries; hull and cut in halves. In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries with 1/4 cup of the sugar syrup.

Add lemon juice, vodka, and pureed strawberries to the remaining sugar syrup; stir until thoroughly blended.

NOTE: The vodka (or any other type of alcohol) is the secret to a soft sorbet. Alcohol itself does not freeze and adding a little bit keeps the sorbet from doing the same. Vodka is excellent to use because it doesn't affect the taste.

Ice Cream Maker - Transfer mixture to ice cream maker, process according to manufacturer's instructions.

Freezer Method - Pour into container, cover, and place mixture in the freezer. When it is semi-solid, mash it up with a fork and refreeze again. When frozen, place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Cover and refreeze until serving time.

NOTE: Can be prepared 3 days in advance. Cover and keep frozen.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Zabaglione with Fresh Strawberries
Zabaglione is a light foamy custard-like dessert that is fantastic with strawberries.

5 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dry or sweet Marsala wine*
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream), whipped until stiff
5 1/4 cups fresh strawberries

* Marsala wine is traditionally used, but you can also substitute sherry, Madeira, or Grand Marnier.

Set up a double boiler or a medium-size stainless-steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. Check to make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, or the eggs may scramble.

With a hand held electric mixer or thin wire whip, beat the egg yolks and sugar together approximately 3 minutes or until pale yellow. Slowly whisk in the Marsala wine and set the bowl over the barely simmering water (Reminder - water should not touch bottom of bowl).

Continue to beat constantly, approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs triple in volume, thicken, and reach a temperature of 140˚F, as registered on an instant thermometer. The eggs will first become frothy, then as they cook, they will slightly stiffen but still hold the air. If you stop whipping or the water boils you might scramble the eggs. Be sure to move the beater or whip around the bowl so the eggs cook evenly. NOTE: If the eggs begin to curdle pull the insert away from the water for a few seconds to cool it (keep whisking constantly).

Remove from heat and cool the mixture completely in the refrigerator. When the mixture is cool, gently fold in prepared whipped cream using a rubber spatula.

NOTE: Zabaglione can be made ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for several days. Bring the sauce to room temperature before serving with your favorite berries.

In a serving dish (a large martini or wine glass makes a nice presentation), dollop some of the zabaglione. Add fresh strawberries. Finish by adding another good-side dollop of zabaglione and top with mint sprig and a few more berries. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Strawberry Cheesecake in a Glass
1 pint basket strawberries stemmed and sliced
3 tablespoons currant jelly or 2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons skim milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup light whipped topping
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

In bowl, toss strawberries with jelly; cover and set aside. In mixer bowl, beat cheese, milk, juice and sugar until smooth; fold in whipped topping. Spoon 2 tablespoons crumbs into each of four 8-to-10-ounce stemmed glasses; top each with about 1/4 cup of the strawberries, 1/2 cup of the cream cheese mixture, then the remaining crumbs and strawberries, dividing equally. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Strawberry Cream Pie with Dark Chocolate Crust
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar, divided
3 cups half-and-half
6 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (9-ounce) package chocolate wafer cookies
1/2 (4-ounce) semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 quart fresh strawberries (4 cups)
1/4 cup red currant jelly
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (I use Grand Marnier, you can buy an airline size bottle from liqueur stores)

Whisk together first 3 ingredients and 2/3 cup sugar in a medium-size heavy saucepan. Whisk together half-and-half and next 2 ingredients in a small bowl; gradually add to cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl; cover and chill 4 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pulse wafer cookies and chopped chocolate in a food processor 8 to 10 times or until finely crushed. Stir together cookie crumb mixture, melted butter, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar; firmly press mixture on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes). Spoon chilled half-and-half mixture into prepared crust. Cut 8 to 10 strawberries in half, and arrange around outer edge of pie (leaving tops on, if desired); hull and slice remaining strawberries, and arrange in center of pie. Cook jelly in a small saucepan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until melted. Remove from heat, and stir in liqueur. Brush jelly mixture gently over strawberries. Chill, uncovered, 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Victoria Sandwich Cake
This is a classic everyday strawberry cake meant to be served with a cup of tea in the afternoon in England. Two 9" round cakes are put one on top of the other with a strawberry jam filling on the bottom of one half, then a butter cream filling on top of the other half.  It is then sandwiched together. The top is then dusted with powdered sugar and crowned with fresh strawberry halves around its edges, making for a beautiful presentation. The cake itself is similar to a pound cake. You could use raspberries instead of strawberries if you prefer. Either way, it's a beautiful cake.

Ingredients For the cake:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup softened butter
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

Ingredients For the filling:
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar plus a little to sprinkle on top
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup good quality strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place all of the ingredients in a mixer or food processor and blend until everything is mixed.

Split the batter between 2 greased 9 inch round cake pans, and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar. Beat in vanilla extract. Spread the butter cream over the bottom of one of the cakes and then spread the jam over the bottom of one of the other and sandwich them together.

Dust the top with a powdered sugar before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Note: You can cut 4 fresh strawberries cut in half lengthwise and put them on top of the cake evenly around the outer edge after dusting with sugar. This will make for a more beautiful presentation.