Nov 27, 2012

Wrap It Up!

Spiced Beef Tongue Lettuce Wraps
See recipe under "Slip Me Some Tongue" August post
To view larger, click on photo 
Wraps are easy to make, and they are good for you. The best wraps are lettuce wraps, leaves of lettuce filled with whatever you like to eat, there are so many variations, limited only by your imagination and taste preferences. 

Lettuce wraps are also a great way to use leftovers from a previous meal but in a totally different way. Try making lettuce wraps the next time you have a party by putting out the components so everybody can put together their own. 

Pick a theme, like Mexican, Greek, or Asian, then decide what will work inside the wrap that goes with the theme. 

I have found that for best results, pick the largest, most pliable lettuces leaves. Boston, romaine, iceberg, red leaf lettuce, radicchio, napa cabbage, or large spinach leaves are possibilities. Core the lettuce and soak in ice water for an hour or two for easy removal of intact leaves. Separate the leaves and drain each one individually, then refrigerate on a towel for a couple of hours to crisp them. 

Lettuce leaves or cups can also be rinsed, dried and stacked, wrapped in a plastic bag and refrigerated several hours or overnight. Be sure to dry the lettuce well before serving. You can also use spices, sauces, yogurt, sour cream, and salad dressings inside the wrap to give it more flavor. 

Kids like wraps also because they can make it themselves and put what they like in them. So the next time you want something different to eat, "wrap it up"... with lettuce.

Wrap Recipes:
Ahi Poke Wrap
1 pound sushi grade ahi tuna
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup scallions, finely minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
8 butter lettuce leaves

Cut tuna into 1/2 inch chunks. Toast sesame seeds. Toss tuna with sesame seeds, sesame oil, ginger, scallions and soy sauce. Serve in lettuce leaves with steamed white rice. Makes 8 servings.

South of the Boarder Wrap
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
12 bibb or Boston lettuce leaves

In a large bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients. Refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, stir in avocado. Place 1/2 cup chicken mixture on each lettuce leaf; top each with 2 teaspoons sour cream. Fold lettuce over filling. Makes 6 servings.

Greek Salad Wrap
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup kalamata olive halves
1 green onion, chopped
seasoned salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup cut-up or crumbled feta cheese
6 butter lettuce leaves

Combine all ingredients except lettuce leaves. Toss until blended. Chill until serving time. To serve, place some of filling mixture on lettuce leaf, wrap up and eat out of hand. Makes 6 servings.

Mu Shu Pork Wrap
1 small head napa or savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 (8-ounce) boneless pork loin, trimmed
1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
4 mushroom caps, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

Reserve 8 cabbage leaves. Shred remaining cabbage to measure 2 cups. Combine soy sauce and next 3 ingredients (through cornstarch). Cut pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack several slices vertically; slice pork into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Repeat procedure with remaining pork. Add pork, carrots, and mushrooms to soy sauce mixture; toss. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1/4 cup onions; sauté 30 seconds. Add shredded cabbage and water; sauté 2 minutes. Remove cabbage mixture from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining 1/2 cup onions and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add pork mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Add cabbage mixture; toss. Place about 1/3 cup pork mixture into each of 8 reserved cabbage leaves. Makes 4 servings, 2 wraps per serving.

Spicy Asian Chicken Wrap
2 1/2 ounces bean threads (cellophane noodles)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken
12 large Boston or romaine lettuce leaves

Cover bean threads with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes or until softened. Drain, and rinse under cool water. Chop noodles. While bean threads soak, combine cilantro, soy sauce, chile paste, and oil in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add noodles and chicken to soy sauce mixture; toss well to coat. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of each lettuce leaf; roll up. Makes 4 servings of 3 wraps each.

Asian Beef Wrap
16 Boston, bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Asian chile pepper sauce (optional)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts,
drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside. In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito. Makes 4 servings.

Asian Turkey Wrap
1 1/4 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 4)
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
12 Boston lettuce leaves
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce (green top)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons roasted red chili paste
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for about 6 minutes or until turkey is browned. Stir to crumble. Combine turkey mixture, onions and chopped water chestnuts in a large bowl, stirring well, and set aside. Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and roasted red chili paste and drizzle over the turkey mixture. Toss to coat completely. Add about 1/4 cup turkey mixture to each lettuce leaf. Makes 6 servings of 2 wraps each.

Asian Barbecued Fish Wrap
This barbecued fish wrap recipe is great for a pupu or a light lunch around the grill.

4-6 fillets fresh 'white' fish, such as opakapaka (snapper), mahi-mahi, etc.
2 heads iceberg lettuce

Marinade For Fish:
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced

Dipping Sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 red chili, minced and de-seeded or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. dried crushed chili
1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), grated
1+1/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Topping Suggestions:
2-3 cups bean sprouts
1 cup fresh coriander (cilantro)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped or ground
1 cup fresh basil
3 spring (green) onions, sliced

Stir marinade ingredients together in a cup or small bowl. Rinse off the fillets and cut them into thirds or quarters (smaller sections, roughly 3 inches long, are good for this dish). Place these sections in a flat-bottomed bowl and pour marinade over fish, making sure all sides of the fish have marinade on them. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator while you make the dipping sauce and prepare the toppings.

Stir all dipping sauce ingredients together in a sauce pan. Place pan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste-test, adding more chili if not spicy enough. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. If too salty, add more lime juice. When the sauce is hot, add the cornstarch-water mixture and stir. When sauce has thickened, remove from heat and set aside until you're ready to eat. This sauce can be served warm, or at room temperature.

Prepare the toppings you have chosen. Place them in separate bowls on the table where you will be eating.

For the lettuce wraps, carefully cut out the core of each head and discard. Now you should be able to carefully peel away the separate leaves. If lettuce is unwashed, carefully rinse under cool water. Pile the leaves back together and place on a plate on the table.

Brush your grill with oil and heat up, then grill the fish until inner flesh is opaque and flakes easily. To serve, place the barbecued fish on a plate and place on the table. Now invite your guests to assemble their own wraps. Start with a leaf of lettuce. Add a small "bed" of bean sprouts, then place 1-2 pieces of fish on top. Add whatever toppings you'd like. Makes 4 servings.

Tuna and White Bean Wrap
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 can (6-1/2 to 7 ounces) solid white water-packed tuna, drained
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or use two to three teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 can of (15 ounces) cannelloni beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and well drained
6 leaves of red leaf lettuce

In a medium bowl, combine together tomatoes, tuna, green onions, basil, capers, vinegar, olive oil, garlic pepper and seasoned salt. Mix until blended. Gently fold in beans. Wrap up some of mixture in each lettuce leaf. Makes 6 servings.

Nov 25, 2012

Okra's Slimy Slimy Goodness!

Dill Pickled Okra
Click on photo to view larger
Okra is another one of those vegetables that people either like or they don't because they can't stomach its slimy texture when cooked. The trick to cooking okra successfully, if you don't like it slimy, is to cook it over high heat and long enough to remove its slimy texture. Actually cooked okra tastes similar to eggplant. In fact, foods that go well with eggplant also match up nicely with okra. Okra complements tomatoes, peppers, corn, lamb, ham, bacon, and other smoky meats–and is enhanced by spices such as coriander. It is also delicious with shellfish and fish. When buying fresh okra, look for young pods free of bruises, tender but not soft, and no more than 4 inches long. I was raised in the southern part of the U.S. I ate okra regularly, boiled, fried with cornmeal, in gumbo, you name it, but it wasn't until I moved to Hawaii that I realized how many other nationalities also love okra. The word "okra" comes from Africa and means "lady's fingers" in Igbo, one of the languages spoken in Nigeria. Although okra originated from Africa, it is now available around the world. If you're not a fan of okra, give it a second chance with one of these tasty international okra recipes:

Dill Pickled Okra
Most people seem to like pickled okra. When I have room in the pickling jar, I usually like to add a few green beans to keep the okra company. They are great in a bloody mary.

2 pounds young, small to medium okra pods, rinsed
4 small dried chiles, split in 1/2
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
12 sprigs fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dried dill
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 cups rice wine vinegar
2 cups bottled water
Special Equipment: 4 pint-sized canning jars, sterilized

Wash okra well, removing fuzz and stems. Leave the caps on; do not cut into the pods. In each of 4 pint jars, place 1 chile, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 3 sprigs of dill or 1 teaspoon dried, 1/4 of the minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns in the bottom of each of 4 sterilized pint canning jars. Divide the rinsed okra evenly among the 4 jars, standing them up vertically, alternating stems up and down. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the salt, vinegar and water to a boil. Once boiling, pour this mixture over the okra in the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space between the top of the liquid and the lid. Seal the lids. When the metal lid pops down, you know it's sealed properly. Set in a cool dry place for 2 weeks, and try not to eat them if you can until they are ready. Makes 4 pints.

Pickled Okra, Shrimp & Avocado Salad
This is a chance for you to use the recipe above in this delicious salad.

1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined, medium-size raw shrimp (31/40 count)
1/2 cup sliced pickled okra
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large avocados, sliced

Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan; add pickling spice, and cook 5 minutes. Add shrimp; cover, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Drain and cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine pickled okra, diced pimiento, and next 6 ingredients. Add shrimp, and serve immediately with avocado slices, or cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes 6 servings.

Southern Fried Okra
This is football food around my house. I grew up with this recipe and now I am passing it down to you. It's kind of a Southern thing, like hush puppies and black bottom pie. This is NOT a "slimy" recipe.

1 egg
2 cups buttermilk or regular, or low fat
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper depending on your taste
2 -3 cups cornmeal
canola oil
1 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/2" pieces (remove stems but keep the caps)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl beat egg with a fork, pour in milk, garlic powder and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Pour the cornmeal in another big bowl. Pour enough oil in a big skillet, halfway up, or you can use a deep fryer. Set heat to Medium-high. Put some okra pieces in milk mixture and then coat in cornmeal batter. Fry in skillet 10-15 min, occasionally turning/stirring them around. They are done when crispy and golden brown but not black! Drain on paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with rest of okra till all gone. Go Niners! Makes 6-8 servings.

Okra Tempura with 
Buttermilk Dipping Sauce
I am a big fan of tempura, but using okra along with other fresh vegetables like onion rings, string beans, red bell pepper and of course shrimp... it's a winner!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
16 ounces soda water
Canola oil, for frying
2 pound fresh okra stem removed and halved
Tempura batter, recipe follows
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, for seasoning
Buttermilk Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

Whisk tempura ingredients together and let chill. Heat canola oil in wok, deep-fryer or a large Dutch oven to 375˚F. In a shallow pie plate, add flour and 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and mix well. Season okra with 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning. Dip okra in seasoned flour and then in tempura batter and place in oil, 1 at a time and fry until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Season with salt. Serve with Buttermilk Dipping Sauce. Makes 6-8 servings.

Buttermilk Dipping Sauce
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, optional
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, lime juice, and hot pepper sauce, if desired. Add the green onions, parsley, and garlic. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Japanese-Style Grilled Okra
Grilling okra lets you enjoy the texture and flavor without the sliminess. The Japanese rub each pod of okra with salt, taking off the okra fuzz on the skin with their fingers.

sesame oil
soy sauce
lemon wedges

Drizzle the okra with sesame oil and soy sauce. Heat grill to medium-high heat and space okra apart on grill (you may need to skewer the okra to hold it in place). Turn after about 4-6 minutes and baste with a little more soy sauce. Grill another 4-6 min. Squeeze lemon juice on top; serve immediately.

Fried Okra with Parmesan Cheese
1 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (which is 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram, 1/2 tsp. dried minced onion and 1/4 tsp. dried minced garlic, if you want to make it yourself, but it's easier just to buy it already made)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté okra in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and seasoning, and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Simple Oven Roasted Okra
Stewed okra is great, but roasting keeps all of the flavor in, and the okra tends not to be slimy.

18 fresh okra pods, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoons black pepper, or to taste

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Arrange whole fresh okra in one layer, cut side up, on a foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 servings of 6 okra.

Microwave Okra Fries
1 1/2 cups okra, slit lengthwise and then cut into 1 inch pieces
a pinch turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
salt to taste
1/2 tablespoon chickpea flour
1 tablespoon rice flour
1-2 teaspoons canola oil

Wash and dry the okra. Discard the top and bottom of the okra. Cut it lengthwise. Again split each half lengthwise, so you would have 4 finger like pieces. If the okra is big cut the pieces half midway (so 8 pieces from each okra) or use it as it is. Transfer the okra pieces to a bowl. Add oil so that the seasonings would stick to the okra. Then add all the other ingredients and mix it thoroughly with your hands. Make sure the plate in the microwave is clean and place the seasoned okra on it directly. Set the time for 5 minutes, then stir it and cooked it for another 2 minutes. Be careful while stirring because the plate will be hot. Microwave oven settings vary, so chose the time considering the type of oven you are using. From then on I increased the time by 30 seconds each time until I got the crispy texture. Don’t forget to stir after every 30 seconds. Do this 3 times, being careful not to burn the okra.Taste it after cooling for 1 minute. It should be crispy. Repeat the same for rest of the okra. Makes 2 servings.

Curried Okra
This traditional recipe for Okra (or Okro, as it is called in some parts of Nigeria) is one that can be created anywhere in the world, as it uses ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores.

5 cups okra, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup canola oil
3 plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
pinch of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Gently saute sliced onions in oil. When translucent, after about 10 minutes, add tomatoes and garlic. Add the spices. saute gently for five minutes. Top and tail the okra and cut into pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Add to the spices and cook gently for 10-15 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Sautéed Pork Chops with Tomatoes,
Okra and Black Olives
This Portuguese okra recipe is delicious served with a spicy red wine and crusty bread.

4 boneless pork chops, around 3/4-inch thick
1 lemon, juiced
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped (or 1 32-ounce can of chopped tomatoes)
1 pound okra
1/2 cup black pitted olives, such as Niçoise
1/2 cup coarse cornmeal

In a large bowl, marinate the pork chops in lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion slices and cook until soft, around three minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomatoes have softened and broken down into a chunky sauce. Add the whole okra and the black olives and cook until the okra is tender, around 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Remove the pork chops from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Dredge the pork chops in the cornmeal and then season with salt. In a large sauté pan, heat two tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops to the pan and cook until browned on one side, then flip, lower the heat to medium, cover and continue to cook until the pork chops are done, around 2 to 3 minutes a side. Remove the pork chops from the pan and serve immediately with the okra and tomato sauce mix on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Okra with Tomato and Cucumber
A delicious side dish from India.

4 cups fresh okra
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 (whole) red chillies
1 onion, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste
coconut, grated, for garnish

Slice the okra diagonally into 1/2 inch slices. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and when hot add the mustard seeds. As they begin to 'pop', add the dried red chillies and onion. Stir-fry and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened and then stir in the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes and then turn the heat to high and add the sliced okra. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, season and remove from the heat. Sprinkle with grated coconut and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Crispy Okra & Potatoes
A south-indian crispy okra dish. Okra is known as Bhinda in Gujarati.

1 pound fresh okra, cleaned and sliced to 1/2 inch rounds
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut in small pieces
1 large frying pan
1/4 large onion, finely chopped
canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tsp Dhania-Zeera powder or 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded
salt to taste
Chopped cilantro leaves and lemon juice for garnishing
fresh lemon juice

Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. When well heated, add the sliced okra. Stir-fry, without mashing the okra, on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Then, put a lid on the frying pan and allow to fry till golden brown and no longer slimy, stirring occasionally. This should take around 15 – 20 minutes. Take care not to burn the okra. When cooked, remove the okra to a paper towel to drain. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan and fry the potatoes in it, till they are golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel to drain. Now heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and when heated, add the cumin seeds.

When the cumin seeds begin to crackle, add the onions and let them soften on low-to medium heat. When the onions are translucent, add the dry spices. Mix well and add in tomato paste and chopped tomatoes, the fried okra & potatoes. Mix well and add salt to taste. Finally, garnish with a handful of chopped coriander or cilantro leaves. Add lemon juice if desired. Makes 2 servings.

"Feast of the Seven Fishes"

(Hawaiian Pink Snapper)
A dinner, in many ways, is much more than just a meal, it's a collaboration of food, loved ones, and tradition. 

A few years ago my wife and I invited a few friends (10) over for dinner on Christmas Eve. The house was all decorated and ready when the guests arrived, and naturally I was in the kitchen preparing the meal. 

The theme of the party was "The Feast of the Seven Fishes", which is a traditional Italian Christmas Eve celebration, consisting of seven, or more, different seafood dishes. You can use any fish recipe you like. Anyway, everyone sat down around the table as I brought out the courses one-by-one. Needless to say, everyone had plenty to eat, and the party was a success thanks to good friends and food. 

I am sharing those recipes with you in the hopes that you will enjoy the same experience. The important thing is to prepare well ahead of the party, gathering all of the components. If you wait until the last minute, especially during the holidays, you may not find the ingredients you need for these dishes. Here is the menu for the...

"Feast of the Seven Fishes"


Appetizer – “Aperitivo”
Mixed Marinated Vegetables Served with Char Broiled Scampi and Cuttlefish Salad

Soup – “Zuppa di Pesce” 
Tomato Based Fish Soup with Crab, Mussels and Clams, Served with Garlic Bread 
and Assorted Bread Sticks

Pasta – “Farfalle con gamberetti e piselli”
Pasta Bows with Shrimp, Peas, and Mushrooms

Fish – “Pesce”
Broiled Opakapaka (Pink Snapper) with Garlic, Tomatoes and Olives, 
Served Over Baked Polenta

Salad – “Insalata”
Romaine Salad with Capers, Roasted Red Peppers and Creamy Anchovy Dressing

Dessert – “Dolce”
Apricot Cherry Cobbler Served with Homemade Honey Ice Cream and Coconut Macaroons

Naturally, all of this, from beginning to end, was accompanied by good table wines and friends with large appetites.

Mixed Marinated Vegetables Served with Char Broiled Scampi 
and Cuttlefish Salad
Ingredients for marinated vegetables:
2 cauliflower
8 carrots
8 stalks celery
2 green peppers
2 red sweet peppers
15 green beans
3 cups wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
freshly ground pepper
1 cup or more pitted green or black olives
fresh Italian parsley and capers for garnish
2 jars marinated artichoke hearts

Wash cauliflower, cut into small flowerets, and slice the remainder. Peel the carrots and cut into 1 1/2-inch logs or diagonal slices. Wash and string the celery and slice diagonally. Wash, trim, and cut the peppers into strips. Wash, trim stem end and remove strings from green beans. In a saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup water, the vinegar, oils, sugar, salt, oregano, and pepper to taste. Add the vegetables and olives. Cover the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Uncover, cool and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley and capers. Marinated artichoke hearts may be added to serving platter. Makes 15 servings.

Crispy Cauliflower with Olives, Capers and Parsley
2 tablespoons Kalamata or black olives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon capers, drained and finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups cauliflower florets\cooked
1 tablespoon flat leaf or regular parsley, chopped

Combine first 3 ingredients and 2 Tbs. oil in a bowl. Heat remaining oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook cauliflower 10 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Uncover skillet and sauté cauliflower another 5-10 minutes, until tender and browned. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and toss with olive mixture and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes approximately 4 cups.

Char-Broiled Scampi with Herbs
3 pounds large fresh shrimp - peeled and deveined with tails intact
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 cloves garlic - crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt

Combine olive oil and remaining ingredients in a large zip lock freezer bag; shake well; add shrimp, stirring gently; cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 8 hours, stirring occasionally; remove shrimp from marinade, using a slotted spoon; reserve marinade; place shrimp on water soaked skewers; grill over medium hot coals 3 to 4 minutes on each side, basting frequently with marinade. DO NOT OVER COOK. Makes 8 servings.

Cuttlefish Salad
2 pounds fresh cleaned cuttlefish (whole)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 small clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons wine vinegar

Boil the cleaned cuttlefish in a pan of water with the vinegar for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the remainder of the ingredients. Once the cuttlefish are cooked, remove them from the water and let them cool on a plate for 15 minutes. After they've cooled cut them into thin slices and put them in a bowl. Using a fork beat the oil with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the oil mixture to the cuttlefish along with garlic and parsley and then combine well. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve later.
Notes: This dish makes a good appetizer, you can serve in small plates on top a lettuce leaf. Makes 6-8 servings.

“Zuppa de Pesce”
Tomato Based Fish Soup with Crab, Mussels and Clams,
Served with Garlic Bread and Assorted Bread Sticks

2 pounds fish fillet*
1 cup onion -- chopped
1 cup celery -- chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper -- chopped
1 clove garlic -- minced
2 tablespoons oil
28 ounces canned tomatoes – un-drained
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 parsley -- chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon basil

Remove skin from filets & cut into 1 inch cubes. In a 5 quart pan, cook onions, celery, bell pepper & garlic in oil over medium heat until tender but not brown. Add tomatoes, broth, wine, parsley, salt, sugar & basil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add fish & cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Stir occasionally.
*Note: This recipe is for basic fish soup, however shellfish can be added for variety like crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, etc. Makes 6 servings.

Garlic Bread
2 loaves French bread
garlic powder
Italian seasoning or parsley
Parmesan cheese

Slice French bread, coat with mayonnaise, sprikle with garlic powder, Italian seasoning and or parsley and Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 300˚F oven for about 20 minutes, then lightly brown under broiler.

Olive Bread Sticks
8 ounces feta cheese, drained and crumbled
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup olive paste*
2 egg whites
1 (17-ounce) package frozen puff pastry thawed

*You may substitute a mixture of 1/2 cup pureed pitted Kalamata olive and 1 tablespoon olive oil for the olive paste.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease a large baking or cookie sheet. In a medium bowl, combine feta cheese, parsley, olive paste, and egg whites. Unfold one of the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface, keeping the remaining pastry sheets in the refrigerator. Roll into a 14x16-inch rectangle with a floured rolling pin. Cut crosswise into halves. Spread half the olive mixture over one pastry half. Top with the remaining pastry half. Roll gently with a rolling pin to seal the layers together. Cut the pastry crosswise into 1/2-inch wide strips. Arrange the strips 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheet, twisting each strip 3 or 4 times. Bake approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and light brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Repeat the process with the remaining puff pastry and remaining olive mixture. Serve at room temperature. Store in a tightly covered container. Makes approximately 56 bread sticks.

Creamy Phyllo Cheese Straws In Pesto
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 box phyllo dough, thawed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
store-bought pesto, for dipping

Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, lightly beaten egg, Parmesan, and salt. Stir to combine. Spoon mixture into a plastic zip-top bag. Set aside. To use as a pastry bag, cut corner off bag to make a 1/4-inch diameter opening. Lay out thawed phyllo dough. Working quickly to keep dough from drying out: brush top sheet with melted butter, pipe cheese filling along long edge of phyllo 1/2-inch from each end. Fold over ends to seal in filling and roll up straw. Repeat with remaining sheets of phyllo and place on a baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Serve warm with pesto for dipping. Makes 36 straws.

“Farfalle con gamberetti e piselli”
Bow-tie Pasta with Shrimp, Peas and Mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 pound shrimp, shelled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 pound bow-tie pasta

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly cook and stir mushrooms in the butter until tender. Mix in shrimp. Cook until pink, about 2 more minutes. Remove mushrooms and shrimp from saucepan and set aside. Reduce heat to low. Place flour in pan. Cook and stir approximately 2 minutes, then stir in chicken broth, heavy cream and pepper. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened. Stir mushrooms, peas, shrimp and Parmesan cheese into the sauce mixture. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook for about 8 -10 minutes. Drain the pasta when it is al dente. Add it to the pan with the sauce. Stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, coating the pasta with the sauce. Sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and more cheese and serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

Broiled Opakapaka (Hawaiian Pink Snapper) with Garlic, Tomatoes and Olives, Served Over Baked Polenta
4 x 4-oz opakapaka fillets (Hawaiian pink snapper)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 small onion, chopped
1 can sliced tomatoes
3 tablespoons garted Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil or parsely

Thaw snapper, if frozen. Rinse and pat dry. Spray a 10x6x2" baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, chives or green onion, and Worcestershire sauce. Spread mayonnaise mixture over fish fillets. Saute onion and add to baking dish with sliced tomatoes to cover bottom of dish. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add fish over top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, in a 450˚F oven for 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve over baked polenta (recipe follows). Garnish with freshly chopped basil or parsley. Makes 4 Servings.

Polenta Baked with Cheese
1/3 cup butter
cooked polenta, made with 2 cups cornmeal
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mozzarella or sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Stir a third of the butter into the cooked polenta. Sprinkle a work surface with a little water. Spread the polenta out onto the surface in a layer 1/2 inch thick. Allow to cool. Cut the polenta into 2 1/2 in rounds. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan with 1 tbsp of the remaining butter. Add the onions, and stir over low heat until soft. Season the onions with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an oven proof dish. Spread a few of the onions slices in the bottom of the dish. Cover with a layer of polenta rounds. Dot with butter. Add a layer of the sliced mozzarella or Cheddar, and a sprinkling of parsley and Parmesan or Romano. Season with salt and pepper. Make another layer of the onions, and continue the layers in order, ending with the cheese. Dot the top with butter. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Serve from the baking dish. Makes 4-6 servings.

Romaine Salad with Capers, Roasted Red Peppers 
and Creamy Anchovy Dressing
3 large cloves garlic
8 anchovies, rinsed to remove oil and salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons blue cheese
16 cups 1-inch pieces romaine lettuce
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 soft-cooked egg, boiled only 1 1/4 minutes
1/2 cup capers
4 roasted red peppers, sliced

In food processor, mince whole garlic cloves; add anchovies. Finely chop. Add mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, pepper, grated Parmesan, blue cheese and egg; process until smooth and thick. This dressing will keep in refrigerator for days. In bowl, toss lettuce and dressing. Top with capers, roasted red pepper slices and remaining Parmesan cheese. Makes 10 servings.

Apricot Cherry Cobbler with Honey Ice Cream 
and Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Drizzles
Ingredients for filling:
1 1/2 pound fresh apricots, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Ingredients for topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk

To make filling, toss all filling ingredients together in a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate and let stand until juicy, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F.

To make topping, sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk with a fork just until combined (do not over mix). Drop rounded tablespoons of dough over filling, leaving spaces in between to allow topping to expand. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake cobbler in middle of oven until fruit is tender and topping is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly, about 15 minutes, and serve warm with honey ice cream (recipe follows). Note: Other fruit may be added to the cobbler like canned cherries. Makes 4 servings.

Honey Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup honey
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large saucepan, add all ingredients. Stir to dissolve the honey. Heat over moderate heat, stirring from time to time, just until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes to cook the egg yolks. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Stir the mixture again to blend. transfer it to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions, or about 1/2 hour. Remove from ice cream maker into plastic containers and freeze at least 3 hours. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before serving to soften. Makes 6 servings.

Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Drizzles
3 cups (8 ounces) shredded, sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites, beaten
2 cups confectioners sugar
semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Have ready in a bowl: 3 cups moist shredded coconut: 8 oz. Add: 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Combine these ingredients with: 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk to make a thick paste. These cookies are much improved by folding into batter: (1 to 2 stiffly beaten egg whites) Roll the paste into balls or drop it from a teaspoon onto well-greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. They may be rolled in sifted confectioners sugar or dipped into or drizzled over with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Makes about 20 1-inch cookies.

Nov 21, 2012

"On The Side"... Tropical

Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple
and Red Bell Peppers

Click on photo to view larger
A side dish, sometimes referred to as a side order, side item, or simply a side, is a food item that accompanies the entrée or main course at a meal. The related phrase "on the side" may be synonymous with "side dish" - as in "French fries on the side" - or may refer to a complimentary sauce or condiment served in a separate dish. For example, a diner may request a salad be served with its dressing "on the side". Side dishes such as salad, potatoes and bread are commonly used with main courses throughout many countries of the western world. A typical American meal with a meat-based main dish might include one vegetable side dish, sometimes in the form of a salad, and one starch side dish, such as bread, potatoes, rice, or pasta. In Hawaii, the most popular side dish would have to be two scoops of rice or mac salad. Also there is, poi, lomi lomi salmon, chicken long rice, squid luau, bok choy, and many others that I have written about in my cookbooks, and on this blog. There are 45,000 tropical islands on earth and literally thousands of side dish recipes to enjoy, so on this post I will introduce you to a few side dishes that perhaps you haven't tried yet, food that goes well with tropical island cuisine, or perhaps "on the side" of your favorite main course.

Tropical Side Dish Recipes:

Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple
and Red Bell Peppers
Hawaii is famous for its sweet pineapple. When it is roasted, it intensifies the flavor. Adding red bell pepper and tropical seasonings makes this a beautiful alternative to a vegetable side dish.

3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
1 medium red bell pepper, cubed (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon sweetened coconut flakes, optional
1 tablespoon lime juice

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Arrange pineapple cubes, red bell pepper cubes, and red onion wedges on ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and vegetable oil, sprinkle with brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Toss to coat. Roast pineapple mixture on center oven rack 30 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning once. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sweetened coconut flakes, if using, then drizzle with lime juice. Remove to serving bowl and toss well to combine. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 4-6 servings. Note: If you are careful, you can create a pineapple serving dish (see photo).

Japanese Kabocha Squash Rice 
Japanese Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
Click on photo to view larger
with Edamame
This beautiful side dish is a great way to use Japanese kabocha squash. Kabocha is very common here in Hawaii. It is a hard squash, has knobbly-looking skin, is shaped like a squat pumpkin, and has a dull-finished, deep green skin and an intense yellow-orange color on the inside. The sweet squash flavors the rice, and the edamame (soy beans) not only tastes wonderful, but adds a nice contrast to the dish. Serve with chicken, pork, or fish.

1 1/2 cups short grain rice
3 cups water
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 1/2 cups Kabocha squash (peel and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 1/2 cups cooked & shelled edamame (soy beans)

Put rice in a bowl. Wash and pour water out, then repeat 2 more times. Place rice and water in a heavy medium sized pot. Let it soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile peel and cut the squash (I like to use a serrated bread knife). Set the squash aside. Just before cooking the rice, add salt and sake and stir. Add the cut Kabocha squash to the rice and bring everything to a boil on high heat without lid. When it reaches the rapid boil, put the lid on and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot stand for 10 minutes (don't open the lid.) Fluff the rice, and cooked squash, with a spatula (the squash will be so soft that it will be mashed a little bit, but that's OK.) Garnish with the cooked edamame. Makes 4-6 servings.

Potato Choka
This is a Caribbean mashed potato recipe that is flavored with fresh green onions, hot peppers and cilantro, and is usually eaten for breakfast with roti, an Indian-influenced flat bread. A nice change from regular mashed potatoes, which happens to be my favorite food of all foods.

1 pound potatoes, I like to use Yukon Gold, but russet will do
2 tablespoons canola oil
minced hot pepper or pepper sauce to taste
1/4 cup sliced green onions (white and green parts)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)

Peel the potatoes and add to a sauce pot with lukewarm water, cover and bring to a boil. When the pot comes to a boil, salt the water to taste. Cook potatoes until a fork or knife inserts easily. Drain well. Transfer drained potatoes to a large bowl, add oil and pepper sauce and mash until smooth. Toss in green onions and cilantro and fold into potato mixture. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Serve with roti or rice. Makes 4 servings.

Aloo (Potato) Balls
Aloo Balls are a popular street food in the English-Speaking Caribbean, where there is a heavy influence of Indian food. This would make a very interesting side dish with fish.

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and boiled in salted water
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)
1 tablespoon finely minced cilantro (optional)
minced hot pepper to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons oil
salt to taste
canola oil for deep frying

Batter Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

Mash the potatoes until smooth and then add in all the ingredients (except oil for frying). Be sure to check for salt before adding extra given that the potatoes would already have been cooked in salted water. Form the mashed potatoes into 2-inch diameter balls or the size of golf balls. Set aside. For the batter, mix the dry ingredients together and then add enough water to make a crepe-like batter. Add oil to a deep frying pan for deep frying and heat until 350˚F. Dip balls one at a time and add to heated oil. Do not over crowd pan. Cook on both sides until golden or lightly brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the balls are cooked. Serve hot or at room temperature as is or with some savory chutney or pepper sauce. Makes 18-20 balls.

Pea Pulao
Pulao is a rice-based dish which often also includes ingredients like vegetables and/or meat. Pea Pulao is also known as "Yellow Rice". It is an Indian-influenced dish served in the Caribbean, and is a great alternative to plain boiled rice. I love using turmeric in white rice because it turns the rice a beautiful yellow color, and turmeric is very good for you.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion chopped fine
1 cup fresh, or frozen green peas
1 cup Basmati rice (a long grain Indian rice)
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/2 cup warm water

Wash the rice well in running water and keep aside to soak for 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan. When it is hot add the onions and cook till soft. Add the peas and stir well. Add the rice and fry for 2 minutes. Add the 3 cups of water, turmeric and salt to taste to the rice and set it up to boil on a medium flame. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the flame to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook till the water seems to have almost disappeared - tiny holes will form on the surface of the rice. Add the 1/2 cup of warm water all over the top of the rice and cover the pan again. Simmer for another 5-7 minutes and turn off the fire. Allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Black Bean, Heart of Palm, and Corn Salad
1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 10-ounce package frozen corn, thawed, drained
1 7 1/2-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Salad can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Makes 4 servings.

Pineapple Stir-Fried Rice with Shrimp
1 ripe pineapple
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped, veins and seeds removed
2 spring onions, the green tops only, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups shrimp, shells removed and deveined
3 tablespoons garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce or light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups cold, steamed Thai jasmine rice
cilantro leaves for garnish

Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise with green top. Scoop out the fruit, saving the two pineapple halves to use as bowls to serve the rice in. Chop the pineapple fruit into bite sized chunks, removing the tough core. Put the fruit in a bowl and add the shallots, jalapeno, ginger, green onion and cilantro. Add a pinch of salt to bring out the juice. mix and set aside. In a wok, over high heat, add oil, and stir fry the shrimp for 2 minutes or until just pink. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside. Stir fry the garlic a minute or so until golden brown, but not burned. Add the cooked jasmine rice, and stir thoroughly until slightly toasted. Add the fish sauce and sugar, and continue stirring. When the rice is heated through, add the pineapple mixture and cooked shrimp, and stir until thoroughly heated through. Pour the mixture into the pineapple shells, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve as a side dish. Makes 6 servings.

Quinoa Hawaiian
If you have never tried quinoa, pronounced (keen-wa), it’s a wonderful whole grain that has a delicate nutty flavor and is easy to prepare. Quinoa is widely versatile and goes well with chicken, pork and fish.

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped dried pineapple
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped and roasted
2 green onions, chopped

In a small skillet, toast chopped macadamia nuts on low heat for about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn them, then set them aside. Next, heat olive oil and sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in quinoa and allow to toast for 2 to 3 minutes, then add vegetable broth, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Add dried pineapple and fluff quinoa with fork, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Serve hot, topped with green onions and toasted macadamia nuts. Makes 6 servings.

Purple and Yellow Passion Fruit
(Lilikoi in Hawaiian)
Click on photo to view larger
Muffins with Aloha
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh passion fruit (lilikoi in Hawaii) juice, without seeds
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts, or pecans

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, sour cream and passion fruit juice. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in the pineapple, coconut and nuts. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: about 1 dozen.

Sesame Seed Sticks
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups whole-wheat flour
about 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Dissolve the yeast in the water in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the honey. Let stand for five minutes. Stir in the olive oil. Combine the whole-wheat flour, 1 cup of the unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds and the salt. Add to the liquid mixture. If kneading by hand, stir until you can turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and work top. If using an electric mixer, mix at medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour as necessary so that the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be elastic and just slightly sticky. Lightly flour your work surface or brush with olive oil. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 14-by-4-inch rectangle. Make sure there is enough flour or oil underneath the dough so that it doesn’t stick to the work surface. Brush the top with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, then with a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until nearly doubled. (If you need the workspace, lightly oil the underside of a sheet pan and place the dough on top.) Preheat the oven to 400˚F with the racks positioned in the middle and upper thirds of the interior space. Brush sheet pans with olive oil. Cut the dough crosswise into four equal pieces. Brush each piece with beaten egg white, then roll each piece in 1 tablespoon of the remaining sesame seeds, until coated. Cut each piece crosswise into six equal pieces. Roll each between the board and your hands as if you were making a rope until it is as long as the baking sheet. For a tighter strip, twist the strands from one end to the other. Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets until you’ve filled two baking sheets. Continue to shape the remaining breadsticks while the first batch is baking. Place in the oven, and bake 15 minutes. Switch the pans top to bottom and front to back, and bake another 10 minutes until the breadsticks are nicely browned (they will be darker on the bottom). Remove from the heat, and cool on a rack. Shape and bake any remaining dough as instructed. Makes two dozen breadsticks.

Coconut Sweet Potato Puffs
2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Wash and scrub the potatoes (grease the potatoes prior to baking as this makes peeling easier). Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. After baking, peel the potatoes and discard the skins. In a large mixing bowl mash the potatoes. Add the salt, sugar, cinnamon, butter, and the egg yolks. Blend the mixture well. Cover and chill. After the mixture has chilled, form it into three-quarter-inch balls and roll the balls in flour. Chill the puffs. Whip the egg whites and add enough milk to equal 1 cup liquid. Dip the floured puffs into the milk and then roll them in the shredded coconut. Fry at 375˚F until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Makes 6 servings.

Onion Pie
1 cup saltine cracker crumbs, finely broken
4 plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups thinly sliced onions (2 medium onions)
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
dash paprika

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a small bowl mix the cracker crumbs with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pie plate. In a small skillet on medium heat cook the onions in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, stirring to separate the rings. Cook until the onions are tender but not brown. Place the onions in the pie shell. In a small bowl combine the milk, eggs, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the onions. Sprinkle with the cheese and paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge of the pie comes out clean. Serve hot. Makes 6-8 servings.

Sweet Potato Fries with Teriyaki Mayonnaise
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" thick French fry sticks
canola oil for frying
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, store bought or make your own (see post "Talking Teriyaki") 
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Peel sweet potatoes, cut into French fry sticks. Fry in oil until crispy. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt. Mix 1/2 cup Teriyaki Sauce with 1/2 cup mayonnaise for a dipping sauce. Makes 6 servings.

Nov 14, 2012

Have A SAFE Holiday!

"The turkey is done when the meat
thermometer registers 165°F."
The holidays are the best time of the year to celebrate with food, but they are also the most likely time to deliver a dose of foodborne illness to your guests. Give them the gift of safe food this holiday season. Take the time to read and understand food safety guidelines before you cook.

With the holidays fast approaching, most of us start thinking of the Thanksgiving feast, which starts the endless hours in the kitchen preparing holiday culinary favorites.

It comes as no surprise then that the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, have the highest reported incidents of foodborne illness. Note, I said “reported.”

Many cases of illness are less severe and do not require hospitalization and therefore go unreported. Certainly we have all had bouts of post-meal dysentery and thought, “Could something I ate have made me sick?”

Hand washing is the number one way to prevent foodborne illness. Use soap, warm water and friction. Sing Happy Birthday twice. Use a paper towel to dry. Be sure to wash handles of cupboard, stove, refrigerator and utensils so as not to cross-contaminate.

Let’s talk turkey. Did you know that turkey was never mentioned as being on the original Thanksgiving table? It is more likely they shared duck, venison or fish in celebration of the colony’s first corn harvest. At some point, the turkey became our Thanksgiving tradition and today, nearly 90 percent of Americans prepare a roasted turkey for their feast.

Traditional cooking techniques have been handed down over generations and many of them are unsafe and outdated. Here’s a refresher for safe and handling of your main dish.

Thawing — Turkeys, or any meat, must be kept below 40°F for safe thawing to prevent growth of harmful bacteria. Therefore, thawing your turkey in the refrigerator is optimal. But plan ahead, allowing 24 hours for each 5 pounds. Keep it wrapped but place it in a pan to prevent juices from leaking onto other foods. The average turkey is about 20 pounds, so that means to allow 5 to 6 days to thaw completely. In a rush? You can thaw by submerging the wrapped turkey in cold tap water as long as you change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. Cook immediately after thawing. A turkey thawed in the microwave should also be cooked immediately.

Stuffing — It is not recommended that you stuff your bird. Research has indicated that the density of the stuffing in the center of the bird does not reach internal temperatures high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Instead, cook your stuffing in a separate dish. You can rest the neck or other parts on top of the stuffing to give you flavoring. The bonus besides food safety is that your bird will cook more quickly when the internal cavity is not stuffed. Insert a thermometer into cooked stuffing to be certain it has reached 165°F.

Cooking — Do not wash the bird, since washing scatters bacteria that may contaminate other foods and surfaces. Clean and sanitize all surfaces after handling the bird since poultry have the highest risk of salmonella. Set oven temperature no lower than 325°F and place the turkey breast-side up in roasting pan. Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, being careful not to touch bone. Cover. Baste occasionally. The turkey is done when the meat thermometer registers 165°F. Juices should be clear, not pink. A 20-pound turkey may take four to five hours to cook fully.

Storing — Refrigerate cooked foods within two hours of removing from heat. That means no sitting around the table having conversation and dessert with the bird on the counter. Refrigerate immediately. For best use, consume within three to four days (if there’s anything left by then).

Reheating — Reheat leftovers, turkey or any other foods, until they reach 165°F to kill any bacteria that may have grown during serving or before refrigeration. The USDA has a Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-764-6854, available Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific time.

Avoid cross contamination

This is when bacteria from one food spreads to another. Keep raw meat juices away from other foods and separate from cooked meat. Use one cutting board for meat and a separate one for vegetables and fruit. And remember, when tasting, no “double dipping.” That goes for putting out chips and candies, too. Use utensils rather than hands to reach into community foods.

Safe refrigeration

When we make larger meals, we tend to pack our refrigerator with warm foods hoping they will cool quickly. But, especially with dense foods like mashed potatoes, stuffing and casseroles, foods need to be cooled BEFORE they go into the refrigerator. Otherwise warm foods will raise the temperature of the fridge and nothing will get cooled, giving bacteria ample opportunity to grow.

Cool foods by moving to shallow containers or placing in ice baths until it reaches 70°F. By now you should be realizing your food thermometer is your best friend.

Then move to the refrigerator. Buying a refrigerator thermometer is an inexpensive way to ensure your fridge maintains a safe temperature below 40°F.

Risky business

Keep in mind that seniors, pregnant women, children and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for foodborne illness. A compromised immune system could include those with diabetes, heart disease, auto immune disease, cancer or those with allergies. So, even though you may not get sick from poorly handled foods, your family or other guests might.

Credit for the excellent article above goes to this website:

Holiday Recipes:
Roast Turkey, "The Butterfly Method"
1 whole fresh turkey (12-16 pounds)
2-4 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
2-4 tablespoons poultry seasoning

"Butterflying" the turkey is a wonderful way to have the turkey cook faster and be evenly browned and cooked all at once—no fearing the breasts will dry out before the thighs are done. To butterfly the bird, use a large, heavy bread knife (my choice) or really heavy-duty kitchen shears. While the bird is still in the sink after washing, turn it over and saw away at the back along both sides of the spine from the bottom up, removing the whole backbone. Use the backbone for stock. It takes some effort but is well worth it! Once the backbone is removed, turn the turkey over onto a roasting pan, and push down with all your weight on the breastbone. The turkey will suddenly go flat with the thigh and leg portion sticking out. Season and roast as usual at 325°F, and you can figure the bird will be fully cooked in one hour less than if you had left it whole. Remove the turkey from the oven when the thermometer has popped out, the juices run clear when pierced in the thigh with a knife, or a meat thermometer reads 165°F. Place the turkey on a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving, which is just the amount of time needed to prepare gravy. Makes 8-12 servings.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
3-5 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2-1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1/2-1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4-1/2 cup sour cream
1/4-1/2 cup whole milk
1/2-1 teaspoon salt

About 1 hour before dinner, fill a heavy 4 quart pot 2/3 full with water, add 1 teaspoon salt, the rosemary, and bring to a rolling boil (this will take 10-15 minutes). Add the potatoes. Bring the potatoes back to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Once the potatoes are boiling, they will be done in 15-20 minutes (fairly tender when pierced with a fork). Drain the potatoes, and return to the pot. Discard the rosemary, cover and return to the stove with the heat off for a few minutes so the potatoes will dry. Add garlic, white pepper, sour cream, milk, and salt, then mash with a hand masher or whip with a beater, depending on the texture you prefer (a mixer will create fine, pureed potatoes, hand-mashing will yield chunkier, denser potatoes). When mashed, cover the potatoes tightly and leave on the back burner of the stove until ready to serve (it is warm there even with the burner turned off). Makes 8-12 servings.

Pork Sausage & Bread Stuffing
1 large loaf of crusty bread, torn into one inch pieces
1 pound pork sausage
1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
turkey liver and giblets (optional)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup red grape juice
1/2 cup craisins (craisins are dried sweetened cranberries)
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Rip the crusty bread into small chunks and place in a large bowl. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, brown sausage, minced onion and turkey liver plus giblets if desired, sprinkle with poultry seasoning. When browned and fully cooked, remove giblets and liver to cool so they can be minced into tiny bits. Toss the sausage and onion in with the bread. Pour the red grape juice into the hot pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to get the tasty brown bits. When the liquid has reduced by about half, add craisins, toss to combine with liquid, then add to the bread. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk and add to the bread. At this point the liver and giblets should be cool enough to mince. Add to the stuffing bowl and mix everything well. Place in a covered baking dish or cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 60 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking for a nice golden color. After removing the foil, drizzle a bit of the cooked turkey juices over the top for the final 10 minutes of cooking time if desired. Makes 8-10 servings.

The Best Cranberry Sauce
1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled. Makes 4 cups.

Green Beans with Pecans, 
Sesame Seeds & Honey
1 pound fresh green beans
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons honey

Wash and stem the beans. This can be done a day ahead of time and the beans placed in a zip top bag in the fridge. Bring a pot of salted water (at least 2 quarts) to a rolling boil. This takes up to 15 minutes. Add the green beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans to stop the cooking, but leave them warm. Heat the butter/oil in a medium pan and simmer on low with the pecans. Once they are lightly browned, add the sesame seeds and the honey, stir regularly. Add the beans to the pan and toss with the seasoned nut mix. Taste for additional seasoning. Place in a serving bowl and cover with foil. Keep warm until ready to serve. Makes 8-10 servings.

Sautéed Green Beans with Red Pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound fresh green beans, stem end removed
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 medium-size red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Bring a pot of water and salt to a boil. Add green beans to boiling water and cook 1 minute; drain. Plunge green beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain well, pressing between paper towels. Stir together brown sugar, soy sauce, and Cajun seasoning. Sauté bell pepper, onion, garlic, and green beans in hot oil in a large skillet over high heat 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt if needed. Remove from heat; add soy sauce mixture to green bean mixture, and stir to coat. Serve while hot. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Corn Pudding
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 cups FRESH yellow corn kernels cut off the cob (6 to 8 ears)
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
4 extra-large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup Ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar,
plus extra for top

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Grease the inside of an 8 to 10-cup baking dish. Melt the butter in a very large saute pan and saute the corn and onion over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Cool slightly. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and half-and-half in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and then the Ricotta cheese. Add the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and grated cheddar, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheddar. Place the dish in a larger pan and fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides of the dish with hot tap water. Bake the pudding for 40 to 45 minutes until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.

Cucumber Mint Salad
2 large cucumbers, (I like to use Japanese cucumbers, much crisper)
1/2 cup minced red onion or chives
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped fine

Slice the cucumbers in either thin rounds or half-moons. Mix with the minced onions. Blend yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mint together. Toss dressing with cucumbers and onions and serve immediately. Note: Make this recipe in small batches. If left to sit overnight it gets watery, so try to make just enough for a meal, and toss the dressing just before serving.

Pumpkin Muffins
2 medium eggs
3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix until smooth. Fill sprayed muffin tins with mixture until full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

Poached Pears In Cranberry Sauce
1 quart (4 cups) cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup light corn syrup
8 slices (1/4-inch thick) unpeeled fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks (2 to 3 inches)
8 slightly under-ripe Bosc pears

Combine cranberry juice, corn syrup, ginger and cinnamon sticks in heavy 4-quart saucepan; bring to a boil. While mixture is coming to a boil, peel, half, and core pears. Add to syrup mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until pears are tender. With slotted spoon transfer pears to shallow serving dish. Remove ginger and cinnamon sticks. Discard all but 2 cups syrup in saucepan. Bring to boil; boil 10 to 12 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly. Spoon sauce over pears. Serve with sweetened whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

Nov 13, 2012

The Hawaiian Macadamia Nut

To me, the world's best nut is the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut. This little round nut is not only delicious roasted, but also eaten raw. Here on Moloka'i, their are many macadamia nut trees growing. Occasionally you can buy them at our farmers market, but they are always available in our grocery stores. Unfortunately Hawaii can't claim the macadamia nut as their own. The first commercial orchard of macadamia trees was planted in Australia in the early 1880s by Rous Mill, in New South Wales. Macadamia seeds were first imported into Hawaii in 1882 by William H. Purvis, manager of the Pacific Sugar Mill at Kukuihaele on the Big Island, who used the trees as a windbreak in the sugar cane fields. By the 1920s, the macadamia nut was extensively planted as a commercial crop in Hawaii, and became well-known internationally. However, in 2006, macadamia production began to fall in Hawaii, due to lower prices from an over-supply. Outside of Hawaii and Australia, macadamia is also commercially produced in South Africa, Brazil, California, Costa Rica, Israel, Kenya, Bolivia, New Zealand, Colombia, Guatemala and Malawi. Australia is now the world's largest commercial producer – accounting for roughly 40 percent of the approximately 100,000 tons of seeds in shell per year produced globally.

Compared to other common edible seeds such as almonds and cashews, macadamias are high in fat and low in protein. They have the highest amount of monounsaturated fats of any known seed and contain approximately 22% of omega-7 palmitoleic acid, which has biological effects similar to saturated fat. They also contain 9% protein, 9% carbohydrate, and 2% dietary fiber, as well ascalcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. In 2003 human nutrition research in Australia showed macadamia seeds lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.

A note to fellow dog lovers: Nuts are one more "DO NOT EAT" item to add to your dogs list of toxic or harmful substances. Certain types of nuts like Macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, and pistachio nuts are toxic to dogs. It's best to keep all nuts away from Fido.

Many consumers are unaware of the many and varied uses of the macadamia nut. 
Macadamia nuts can be used for:
• Cocktail or snack nuts: salted, roasted, plain
• Candies (chocolate, honey or caramel covered and brittle)
• Spreads (macadamia nut butter)
• Skin products e.g., macadamia nut scrub, suntan oil, cosmetics
• Macadamia flavored coffee
• Breads and confections (cakes, cookies)
• Liqueurs and flavoring
• Cooking ingredients, garnish
• Cooking oil

The Macnut Trail on Hawaii's Big Island

The Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association has developed a fun and educational, agritourism experience for visitors. Newcomers to Hawaii and seasoned visitors alike will enjoy experiencing the natural beauty of wandering through a macadamia nut orchard, then harvesting and shelling some nuts to sample. The Big Island, heart of Hawaii's budding diversified agriculture industry, produces 80% of the state's fruits, nuts and coffee. The Big Island is also the site of the world's first commercial macadamia plantations. 

Mini Mac Nut Trail: Includes two farms and a visit to processing plant or candy factory. Visitors will enjoy the ambiance of the lush macadamia nut farms. They will also see how the nuts are processed, visit a candy factory and get to taste the nuts along the trail.

Full Mac Nut Trail: Four farm visits and processing plant or factory. Visitors may want to spread out their stops along the trail and stay overnight at a charming bed and breakfast on a mac nut farm.

Contact the Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association for more information about 
the Macnut Trail: 
P.O. Box 4983, Hilo, HI 96720, (808) 969-8033,, website:

Be sure and visit Purdy's Macadamia Nut Farm if you are on the island of Moloka'i, a small and personal family style macadamia nut farm selling macadamia nuts as well as mac-nut honey. This is the real deal not a mega corporation tour. You get to walk among the trees, pick the nuts, learn how to crack the hardest of all nut shells with a hammer, and enjoy them. Contact: (808) 567-6601.

Macadamia Nut Recipes:
Pork Tenderloin with Macadamia Nuts
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons canola oil

Heat oven to 350˚F. Season pork tenderloin to taste with pepper. Place nuts in blender or food processor container. Cover and blend or process until crumbly, but not paste-like. Transfer mixture to an 18-inch-long piece of waxed paper. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Stir together egg and mustard in pie plate. Dip pork tenderloin in egg mixture; coat pork in nut mixture using waxed paper to firmly press nut mixture on pork. Heat oil in large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork tenderloin and cook for 5 minutes or until surface is brown, turning tenderloin over halfway during cooking. (Tenderloin will not be completely cooked.) Roast pork tenderloin in ovenproof skillet in heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature is 145˚F. Transfer tenderloin to cutting board. Loosely cover with foil; let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. To serve, cut pork tenderloin into 1/2 -inch-thick slices and serve with roasted potatoes and a nice green salad. Makes 4 servings.

Macadamia-Crusted Salmon
2 salmon steaks (about 1-1/8 inches thick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 egg white
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, whisk egg white until frothy. Dip fish in egg white, then coat with nuts. Gently pat nut mixture onto fish. In a large skillet, cook fish in oil over medium heat for about 6 minutes on each side being careful not to burn the nuts. Meanwhile, melt butter. Stir in parsley and lemon juice. Drizzle over fish. Serve with rice and snow peas. Makes 2 servings.

Hawaiian Fruit Salad with Banana Dressing 
1 pineapple
1 medium cantaloupe
1 medium honeydew melon
1 papaya cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 mango cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 kiwi cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup seedless red grapes
1 cup strawberries -- halved lengthwise
leaf lettuce

1/2 cup roasted, crushed, macadamia nuts (for garnish)

Ingredients for Banana Dressing:
2 ripe bananas
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Procedure for Banana Dressing:
Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Cover and process for 12 to 15 seconds until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 1-2 hours.

Procedure for Fruit Salad: 
Remove the top from the pineapple. Cut into quarters length-wise. Trim the peel and remove eyes and core. Cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces. Using a melon baller, cut balls from melons. Arrange all the fruit on lettuce, and serve with banana dressing. Or cube all and toss together, serve on individual lettuce lined plates, and top with dressing, top with crushed macadamia nuts. Makes 8 servings.

Macadamia Nut Cake with Lilikoi Syrup
This bundt cake is topped with fresh passion fruit syrup. In Hawaii, passion fruit is called Lilikoi.

1/2 cup fine polenta
1/2 cup semolina
1 cup of macadamia nuts (either salted or unsalted)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
zest of one orange

For the syrup:
6 tablespoons lilikoi pulp (from 6 passion fruit)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
juice of one orange
4 teaspoons water

Pulse macadamia nuts in a food processor to make a fine meal but not into a paste. Add dry ingredients into food processor and pulse. Whisk eggs, oil and orange zest. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into well oiled bundt pan. Bake for 20-35 minutes at 375˚F or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave cake in pan to cool for 5-10min before turning it out. Make the syrup by incorporating the confectioners sugar, lilikoi pulp, orange juice and water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce and simmar until it reduces to a thin syrup (If the mixture is too dry add a few more teaspoons of water. If it's too wet or not sweet enough add 1-2 more teaspoons of confectioners sugar. You want a syrup that is sweet but tart. Pour syrup over cake and serve. You can also leave some syrup to serve on the side and it's also good with a bit of ice cream. Note: This is essentially a gluten-free cake if you omit the semolina and replace it with more polenta. Makes 1 bundt cake.

Chocolate Macadamia Shortbread Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
8 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped

Cream the butter until smooth and beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. When the butter and sugar are combined, slowly add flour and beat until incorporated. Mix in the 1 cup of coarsely chopped macadamia nuts. Roll the dough into a log and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat oven to 300°F and remove dough from refrigerator. Slice the log into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Place the slices on an ungreased baking sheet an inch apart and bake for 20 minutes or until the cookies turn golden around the edges. Remove from oven, and place cookies on a cooling rack. While cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate with the shortening, then dip each cookie halfway into the melted chocolate. Immediately sprinkle the top of the chocolate coated half of the cookie with the finely chopped macadamia nuts. Set cookies on parchment or wax paper, and let cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Brittle
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
4 ounces chopped macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

Procedure for Microwave cooking:
Spread coconut evenly over a buttered baking sheet. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on high 4 minutes. Stir in nuts and microwave the mixture on high a minute at a time, stirring and checking after each minute for up to 5 minutes, until light brown, being careful not to burn the nuts. The mac nuts will be lightly browned and syrup will be very hot. Stir in butter and vanilla and return to microwave for 1 minute. Stir in baking soda until light and slightly foamy. Pour over coconut in pan. Let cool until firm, 1 hour. Break into pieces. Makes about 30 (2-inch) pieces.