Dec 23, 2013

That's A Carrot Of A Different Color

White Carrots From Kumu Farms
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Did you know that carrots come in different colors? Most of us are so used to seeing orange carrots, but they also come in purple, red, and white. I found these white carrots today at Kumu Farms, here on Moloka'i. Here is a little information about carrots that perhaps you didn't know:

Orange carrots have only been around since the 16th century. Carrots originated in present day Afghanistan about 5000 years ago, and had a purple or yellow root. Purple carrots were then taken westwards where it is thought yellow mutants and wild forms crossed to produce orange. Finally Dutch growers took these mutant orange carrots and developed them into the sweeter orange carrot we know today.

What's the difference between colored carrots?

Orange Carrots: Orange carrots won out in the breeding of carrots in 17th-century Holland, but carrots before then came in a wide range of colors – including green. Orange carrots, like their other-colored brethren, contain about 4 times the USDA recommended dose of vitamin A and lots of beta-carotene. They are just a tad earthy and quite sweet, good raw or cooked.

Purple Carrots: Purple carrots are only purple on the outside – their insides tend to be pretty orange colored. They have an intensely sweet flavor, though, that can sometimes even have a little peppery flavor.

Red Carrots: Red carrots don't differ in taste much from orange carrots. Their red color, though, comes from lycopene, the heralded antioxidant in tomatoes.

White or Golden Carrots: White or golden carrots are yellow or cream colored. They have a mild flavor with hardly any of the earthiness of other colors, and they're a bit sweeter than orange, red, or purple carrots. White carrots kind of look like parsnips but they are not. The parsnip is in the carrot family but a separate species. Parsnips tend to have a more golden brown or ivory color and a more nutty taste, and they tend to be larger. Though the white carrot is considered as having the least health benefits due to lack of pigment, the other compounds like phytochemicals in these carrots can help reduce the risk of cancer and stroke. Also the dietary fibre in these carrots help fight against colon cancer. White carrots are also good for carotene allergy sufferers.

White Carrot Salad
with Rémoulade Dressing
White Carrot Salad with Rémoulade Dressing
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One of my favorite salads is céleri rémoulade. It is made with celery root, which is similar to white carrots in texture and color, but the flavor is that of celery. The celery root is then sliced thin and a simple mustard-flavored mayonnaise spiced with garlic and pepper is added. Rémoulade is classified in French cooking as a derivative of the mayonnaise sauce.

one bunch white carrots (6 carrots)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
hearts of romaine lettuce

Peel the carrots, then slice lengthwise into thin strips. Slice the strips into matchsticks. Put the mustard and garlic in a small bowl. Combine the two oils in a measuring cup. Gradually beat in the oil to make a smooth and creamy emulsion. Slowly beat in the vinegar and lighten the sauce by beating in cream. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the tarragon. Coat the thin carrot sticks with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready to serve, place several small lettuce leaves in the serving dish. Stir the carrots to coat with the dressing. Place a serving size at the foot of the lettuce spears. Makes 4 servings. Note: You can also make bit-sized appetizers by putting a few carrot pieces on a small tip of lettuce as individual servings.

White Carrot & Cucumber Sesame Salad
3 cups julienned white carrots
2 cups julienned Japanese cucumbers (no seed)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 teaspoons finely julienned ginger
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
salt, to taste

Mix everything together just before you are ready to serve. Makes 2 servings.

White Carrot Soup
1 bunch of white carrots (6 carrots), peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, sliced in half, washed and diced (use the white part only)
1 stick celery, thinly sliced
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
pinch dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In a pot, gently saute the carrots, leeks, and celery in a little olive oil for 5 minutes before pouring in the chicken stock and adding the thyme and garlic. Simmer for 20 minutes until all of the vegetables are soft, then blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. 

Add the honey and heavy cream and stir well. If too thick thin with water to the desired consistency then season to taste. Note: Adding 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese will give you more flavor. Makes 4 servings.

Pickled White and Orange Carrot Sticks
1/2 pound white carrots - julienned or cut into thin match-like strips
1/2 pound orange carrots - julienned or cut into thin match-like strips
4 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar (more if you like the carrots a little sweeter)
2 tablespoons salt
6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

In small pot, bring the water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a simmer. Evenly mix the julienned carrots and place in a sterilized jars. Fill with the vinegar mixture. Cover jars and set on your kitchen counter overnight, then place in the refrigerator to pickle for about 3 days. Pickles can last for about 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Serve as a side dish. Makes 1 pound of pickled carrot sticks.

Pesto Carrots
This is a wonderful way to use basil pesto sauce. Cooked carrots with butter and pesto, how simple is that!

5 carrots, peeled and slice into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons basil pesto sauce (Kumu Farms makes a great pesto sauce, or make your own)

Boil carrots until cooked but not overcooked, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and add the butter while the carrots are still hot. Stir, then add about 3 tablespoons of pesto sauce, or until the carrots are just coated. Note: You can use any color carrots you want, however I think the sweet white carrot works nicely with the pesto sauce. Makes 4 servings as a side dish.

Dec 12, 2013

Christmas Cracked Crab!

Christmas cracked crab
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Christmas is a time for traditions, especially when it comes to food. In our house we traditionally have cracked dungeness crab either for Christmas or on New Years Eve. Fortunately for us, and the other dungeness crab lovers in Hawaii, there are aquaculture farms growing a huge variety of sea crops. High quality abalone, Maine lobsters, and dungeness crabs are now being farm-raised in Kona, on the Big Island here in Hawaii, making them available to restaurants and consumers without draining ocean resources. Best of all, they’re providing new industries for Hawaii, making us less dependent on outside suppliers.

The unique location in Kona enables the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) to pump water up from 2,000 feet below sea level through a 40-inch diameter pipeline, which has attracted aquaculture companies like Royal Hawaiian Sea Farms, Kona Blue Water Farms, Trout Lodge Marine Farms, Big Island Abalone Corporation, and Kona Cold Lobsters, to sell their products throughout the state of Hawaii. In other words, local Kona seafood shipped right to your door. Seafood like abalone, Main lobster, dungeness crab, Pacific oysters, Manila clams, PEI mussels, kampachi, moi, butterfish, Japanese abalone, and ogo seaweed. Kona Cold Lobsters has been in business since 1987, providing their products daily to resorts, supermarkets, fine dining restaurants and independent gourmet chefs in Hawaii. Here is a link to Kona Cold Lobsters website. Check it out for yourself!

Fortunately for me, my wife ordered 4 dungeness crabs through Friendly Market's meat department manager, here on Moloka'i, to be delivered to us for our Christmas dinner. They arrived, nicely packaged with jell packs. The frisky crabs weighed almost 2 pounds each, which is quite large. They had rubber bands attached to their claws so they could easily be handled. If you have not eaten fresh dungeness crab, you are in for a treat. Here is how to cook them San Francisco Style:

Cracked Dungeness Crab, San Francisco Style!
Live dungeness crab grown in Hawaii
I spent 35 years of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can't live there that long without tasting dungeness crab the way the Italians prepare it. Basically it is fresh dungeness crab that is boiled, cracked, and then briefly marinated in a vinaigrette, but not just any vinaigrette, as you will see. The crab is usually served on large tables covered with newspapers, and lots on napkins. The crab eating experience is one of silence. Once you've tasted the crab, you can't just eat one bite, you can't even stop to lift a glass of wine to your lips because they are full of the best crab on the planet. It's a food experience I always enjoy.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
1 cup of red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons dried dill, or fresh if you can get it
1 large bunch of parsley, minced
4 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced

Ingredients for cooking the crab:
4 large fresh live dungeness crab
2 tablespoons pickling spice
2 tablespoons sea salt, or kosher salt

1 very large pot
1 wooden mallet
large wooden spoon

Cooked dungeness crab
Bring a large pot of water to boil (large enough to hold 4 large crab, otherwise use 2 pots). Add the salt and pickling spice to the water and cover the pot. While you are waiting for the water to boil, get a large glass jar and mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients together. Put the jar aside. When the water comes to a rapid boil, slowly slip the live crab into the water. This instantly kills them, and they turn bright red in color. Cook the crab in the boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove the crab to cool for about 30 minutes. Dump the water out of the pot. 

After the crab cools, break the legs off of the crab and set them aside. Turn the crab body over on its back, belly side up. You will see a triangular-shaped belly flap. Remove the shell by prying it off using your thumb and fingers. Open to reveal the crabs breast meat, drain, if needed. Pull the breast meat out of the crabs shell. Cut the two breasts apart with a knife, then remove the spongy gills and small paddle at the front of the breast, they are not good to eat, so discard them. Now cut each breast into 3 parts, but don't cut all the way through. Return the breasts to the cooking pot. 

Cracked Dungeness Crab, San Francisco Style!
Now comes the messy part, cracking the crab legs. With a small hammer, or preferably a wooden mallet or meat tenderizer, gently crack each leg at each joint so that it is easy to break open the shell and remove the meat at the table. Put all of the cracked crab legs in the pot with the breasts. Now pour the vinaigrette over the cracked crab, gently stir with a wooden spoon, so the marinade is evenly coating the cracked crab. Set the pot aside to rest for 30 minutes, turning the cracked crab once more after the first 15 minutes. Serve the crab with a crisp white wine and lots of napkins. Makes 4 servings. 

Note: You can purchase these delicious dungeness crabs directly from Kona Cold Lobsters for $20 each, plus shipping, check out their website link above. It may seem like a lot of money, but think about if you had to fly to San Francisco to get them, how much would that cost. Happy Holiday Eating!

Dec 10, 2013

Making Crusty Artisan Bread In Hawaii

Artisan breads are breads that are baked by a baker who is trained to mix, ferment, shape and bake a hand crafted loaf of bread. True artisan breads usually only include flour, water, salt, and yeast. Controlling the fermentation and the action of natural bacteria can produce amazing crusty breads that have flavor profiles from light and delicate to deep, strong, and rustic. 

Panini Bread Rolls
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One of my favorite artisan breads is Ciabatta bread. Ciabatta bread is Italian, from the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche. It is somewhat elongated, broad and flat with a crisp crust, a somewhat soft, porous texture, and is light to the touch. A toasted sandwich made from small loaves of Ciabatta is known as a panino (plural panini).

In Italy, these bread rolls are cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients such as salami, ham, cheese, mortadella, or other food, and sometimes served warm after having been pressed by a warming grill. A popular version of panino in Central Italy is filled with porchetta, slices of pork roasted with salt, rosemary, and sage. 

In the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, the term panini has been adopted to refer to pressed and toasted sandwiches; there is widespread availability and use of sandwich presses, often known as "panini presses".

Mahi-Mahi Sandwich with Panini Bread Roll
Unfortunately if you want European artisan breads on the Hawaiian Island of Moloka'i, where I live, you pretty much have to make it yourself. I recently made these small panini loaves. The rolls are not only delicious, and easy to make, but they also stand up to the ingredients you put inside, like a mahi-mahi sandwich. One of my pet peeves when eating a sandwich made with a hamburger bun, is that the bread turns to mush as you eat the sandwich, right! hasn't this happened to you?.

If you choose to squash your sandwich with a panini press, that's up to you, I just want a crusty, flavorful sandwich roll, and this is the way to make them, and it's really not that difficult.

Panini Bread Rolls
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To start your panini bread rolls you must first make what is known as a "biga". It is a type of pre-ferment, or starter used in Italian baking making the bread's flavor complex with a light texture full of holes, with a crusty exterior. Besides adding flavor and texture, the biga also helps to preserve bread by making it less perishable, so we will start by making the biga the day before you make the bread.

Ingredients for the biga:
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup luke warm water (about 110˚F.)
1 1/3 cups bread flour
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the panino bread rolls:
1 recipe for biga made the day before (above)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for working and shaping)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
olive oil
1/3 cup cornmeal

parchment paper
plastic wrap
bowls, medium and large

Procedure for the biga: 
Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a bowl large enough to fit all of the ingredients, and let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Add the flours, and stir to combine. (The dough may seem stiff, but will soften up as it sits.) Cover the biga tightly with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 6 hours at room temperature. Stir it, and refrigerate it until the next day, or at least 12 hours.

Procedure for the rolls: 
Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and biga, made the day before. Stir the dough mixture until it is mixed. (It will be quite wet, and rough in texture.)

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter or breadboard, and using as little flour as possible, knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. (Don't worry that your dough still seems very loose and moist, as it will firm up as it rises.)

Place the dough into a large bowl three times the size of the dough that has been lightly oiled first. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled, punching down and turning the dough after 1 hour.

Panini loaves ready for the oven
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Place a sheet of parchment paper on each baking sheet, and sprinkle the parchment paper lightly with cornmeal. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Work with your hands until they are evenly shaped. Lightly roll in extra flour and place on your prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between each dough ball. Lightly press each ball with the heel of your hand to create a disc shape. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise again for 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400˚F.

Many people either spray water, using a misting bottle, every minute during the first 10 minutes of baking or they put a metal container of hot water on the bottom of the oven to create steam. I prefer covering the risen bread with a disposable aluminum lasagna pan, or possibly a deep roasting pan, for the first 10 minutes of baking. The cover needs to be at least twice as high as the dough to allow for rising, and should sit on the baking sheet tightly so moisture doesn't escape. The moisture that is already in the bread creates its own steam. After 10 minutes, remove the cover and rotate the baking sheet, then let the bread bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the dough is a light golden brown all over (see photo above).

Why do you need steam?
In the first few minutes of baking, loaves of bread will rise rapidly as the gases trapped inside expand and the yeast has a final burst of activity (this is called "ovenspring"). Steaming within this time helps keep the crust soft. This allows the bread to continue expanding freely. The steam that has settled on the surface of the bread also dissolves sugars in the dough. As the bread stops expanding and the steam begins to evaporate, the sugars are left behind to caramelize and create a glossy crust. Steaming is really only useful during the first 5-10 minutes of baking while the yeast is still active and the internal structure hasn't set. After this time, the crust needs its own time to set and dry out. Remember to work quickly when the oven door is open so as not to let the heat escape.

Remove the bread and let cool on a wire rack. For extra crispness, cool the bread right on the oven rack in the turned-off oven; prop the oven door open with a folded-over potholder. This recipe makes 8 panini bread rolls.

Note: These rolls will keep for up to 2 days, well wrapped and stored at room temperature. The bread will keep frozen for several months. Simply wrap them in foil and put them in a large zipper-loc freezer bag. When you are ready to use them, thaw the bread, out of the bag, and heat them up in a 425˚F oven for 6-8 minutes. These rolls are also excellent used as dinner rolls, or slice and toast the slices for mahi-mahi sandwiches, French onion soup, or put pâté on them, or make a panzanella salad when tomatoes are in season.

Bolillos – Mexican Yeast Rolls
If there was ever a staple in Mexico, next to the Tortilla, it would be Bolillos, crusty sandwich rolls or tortas. You can eat them plain as dinner rolls, served with butter, a meatball sandwich, or as a fish sandwich with chipotle tartar sauce (recipe below).

Ingredients for starter:
3/4 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon instant or active yeast
1 cup All Purpose Flour

Ingredients for dough:
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon instant or active yeast
2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 cup of shortening, melted and cooled
1 cup of warm water, not hot

Procedure for the starter:
The night before baking, place yeast and water in a small bowl, mix well and add the flour. Mix again. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on your kitchen counter all night, or at least 8 hours.

Procedure for the dough:
In a large bowl or your heavy duty mixer, place the starter, flour, salt, yeast and melted shortening. Start kneading the dough, adding the warm water slowly right at the beginning of the kneading process. IMPORTANT: If you live in a very humid place, you will need to reduce the amount of water by about 2 tablespoons less than indicated. If using a mixer, knead for 7 minutes on speed 2; if kneading by hand, knead the dough for about 15 minutes. The dough will separate from your mixing bowl like it shows in the above picture while kneading.

Remove dough from the bowl and place on your working surface to form a ball. It should look soft but still a little rough.

Grease a large bowl with shortening, oil or PAM spray. Place the dough and turn it all over to make sure all sides are covered with a coating of the grease. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume. If you live in a warm and humid weather, like in Hawaii, this step will take less time.

After the dough has doubled in volume, gently push your fist in to deflate it. Divide the dough in 10 pieces. Place the pieces of dough into your slightly greased working surface and cover with a greased plastic wrap and let them rest for 15 minutes to allow gluten to develop and help to shape your bolillos rolls easier.

To form the bolillos rolls, dust your work surface with flour very lightly, flatten one piece of dough with the palm of your hand forming ovals. Roll the ovals up, pressing gently but firmly, pinching the dough together at the seam making sure all the ends are sealed. Each piece should be 5 1/2" long and 2" in the middle, tapering to each end. In other words, each roll of dough looks like little football with a pronounced point on each end, sort of like a nipple, called the "bolillo ears".

Place each bolillo roll seam side down on the greased baking sheet and cover with a greased plastic. Allow them to rise until they’ve doubled in volume. About 1 and 1/2 hour.

Before the end of the rising period, turn oven on at 450˚F. Place the metallic pan for the water on the oven floor.

Once the rolls have doubled in volume, make a 1/2" deep cut the length of the roll using a sharp serrated knife or a razor blade, holding your hand at a 45˚ angle. You want to stop the cut about 1/2" from each end.

Spray the rolls with warm water, place them in a preheated oven and add 1 1/2 cup of cold water to the metallic tray you placed on the oven floor. The steam will create that beautiful thin and crunchy crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden, remove form the oven, and let them cool on a wire rack.

The bread keeps well for a couple of days in a plastic bag, or it can be frozen for up to a month. To reheat: thaw bread lightly, spray water, and place in preheated 400 degrees F oven until crispy. About 12-15 minutes until warm and crunchy. Makes 10 bolillos.

Bolillos Fish Sandwich with Chipotle Tartar Sauce
If you live in Hawaii, this sandwich works well with maui-mahi, opakapaka, or onaga, if not, try flounder, or any white fish fillet, with no bones.

Ingredients for Chipotle Tartar Sauce (enough for 3 sandwiches)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons canned chipotle chile with adobo sauce, finely minced
2 tablespoons  onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon dill pickle, finely minced
1 teaspoon dill pickle juice

Blend all ingredients and refrigerate.

Ingredients for Sautéed Fish Fillet sandwich:
6 ounce fish fillet per sandwich
1 tablespoon flour per fillet
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
vegetable oil
1 bolillo, or yeasted bread roll per sandwich
olive oil
sliced tomatoes

Procedure for Sautéed Fish Fillet sandwich:
Mix flour with salt and pepper. Dredge fillets in flour, coating the entire fillet well. Shake off excess flour.

Heat skillet over medium heat and add vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering, place fillets in pan and sauté 8-9 minutes per inch of thickness, turning halfway through cooking time. Do not over-cook.
While fillets are cooking, cut bolillos or rolls in half, brush with olive oil and toast in a hot skillet, cut side down, until golden.

Spread each half generously with chipotle tartar sauce, arrange tomato slices, lettuce, and fillet on toasted bolillo and top with remaining toasted bread. Eat while hot.

Dec 3, 2013

Have A Tropical Pâté Party

Red Ginger Pâté
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Tropical pâté parties are fun to have, especially if you live where it is cold. Use tropical fabrics for a table cloth and tropical flowers from your local florist.

Pâté (pronounced pah-TAY) is French for "pie." It is simply a mixture of seasoned ground seafood, poultry, meat or vegetables, and often a combination of several different base ingredients. The grind can be smooth and creamy or on the chunky side. It may be served hot or cold, molded or unmolded.

When I think of a tropical pâté, I think of using any combination of local food products that are found in the Hawaiian islands, the combinations are only limited by your culinary imagination.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for your next tropical pâté party:

Red Ginger Pâté
This recipe is full of Asian flavors for those who love liver pâté and want to try something new.

1/3 pound chicken livers, cleaned (trim the connective tissue on the livers and discard)
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced fine
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/3 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon dry hot mustard
3/4 teaspoon orange peel, grated
1/3 pound cream cheese, softened
toasted rounds of rye bread, or your favorite sesame cracker
shredded pickled red ginger (This is a Japanese product found at Friendly Market here on Moloka'i, or in the Asian section of your grocery store).

Clean, then simmer liver in slightly salted water for 10 minutes. Saute the shallot, ginger, and garlic until soft and the shallots are caramelized. Remove and allow to cool. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour pâté into a small bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pâté and refrigerate until firm. To serve, remove plastic wrap, and put dabs of pâté on toasted rounds of dark rye bread, and garnish with pickled ginger. Arrange on a serving platter, or in the case of the photo above, the leaves of a red ginger plant.

Smoked Salmon Pâté
Smoked salmon is always available here in Hawaii, however any smoked fish will work in this recipe.

7 ounces smoked salmon
7 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces creme fraiche (recipe on this website)
juice from 1/2 lemon, or lime
1 tablespoon chopped dill (available at Kumu Farms here on Moloka'i)
salt and white pepper, to taste
shrimp chips (available at Friendly Market)
watercress leaves for garnish

Break up the smoked fish in a blender or food processor. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a coarse pâté. Season with salt and white pepper to your taste. Fill a small bowl with the pâté and seal with plastic wrap pressed tightly on top of the pâté. Keep in the fridge until serving. I like to use Maui Style Shrimp Chips as a cracker under a dab of salmon pâté, with a watercress leaf for garnish.

Mushroom Pâté with Almonds
2 cups finely chopped white onion
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 cups finely chopped shiitake mushrooms (if you can't find shiitake mushrooms, use cremini or button mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
capers or chopped roasted red peppers for garnish

Sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme in 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil until the liquids evaporate. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the almonds and the remaining olive oil. In a food processor, combine the mushroom mixture and the almond mixture until smooth. Fold in the balsamic vinegar.

Chill and serve with crackers or sliced cucumber rounds or pipe into mushroom caps garnished with capers, or chopped roasted red peppers. Makes 2 cups.

Note: To toast the almonds, spread them on a baking sheet and place them in an oven preheated to 350˚F for about 7 to 8 minutes, turning the tray halfway through the cooking time.

Edamame-Ginger Pâté
Edamame, fresh green soybeans, are full of protein and make a great addition to stews, side dishes and salads. Here we have made a delicious pâté out of them.

1 1/2 cups edamame, shelled
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup parsley leaves
3 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame seed paste, found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Prepare edamame according to package instructions, omitting salt. Place ginger, olive oil, salt, cumin, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 2 to 3 times or until coarsely chopped. Add edamame, parsley, tahini, water, and lemon juice; process 1 minutes or until smooth. Spoon edamame into serving bowl. Serve with honey roasted pita points (see recipe under appetizers). Makes 8 servings of edamame pâté.

Nov 29, 2013

Pickled Green Tomatoes

If you live here in Hawaii, you know we have a problem with our tomatoes, it's called the fruit fly. They love to sting ripe tomatoes and lay their eggs. Eventually the tomato rots, usually on your kitchen counter. However if you eat green tomatoes, this is not a problem. Have you ever eaten pickled green tomatoes? It's a Jewish thing, and they are terrific! 

When I lived in San Francisco I used to go to a Jewish restaurant that always had pickled green tomatoes. Eventually I developed a recipe that I liked and I am going to share it with you, naturally. This is a recipe built for almost instant pickled green tomato relief, because it only takes 1 day of pickling before you can open the jar and enjoy a crisp tasty wedge of green tomato pickle. The longer the tomatoes sit in the jar the softer and more pickled they become, but I usually can't wait. This recipe is similar to my spicy pickle carrots posted this month, but with less spice.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
Pickled Green Tomatoes
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2- 1 quart canning jars
4 1/2 tablespoons sea salt, or kosher salt
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 red or green jalapeno pepper, cut lengthwise into 8 slivers, remove most of the seeds, or use Hawaiian chili peppers as shown in photo
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and skin removed
1/2 of a small yellow onion, cut into slivers
2 teaspoons dried dill
2 teaspoons pickling spice, divided
10 large green roma tomatoes, enough to fill 2 quart canning jars (you can use cherry or regular tomatoes as well, but they need to be green or they get too soft)

Sterilizing Canning Jars
Put your jars and lids in a large pot and cover with hot water. Put the lid on the pot and boil the water on high heat. allow to boil for 10 minutes, and then turn the heat off.

To make the brining solution, to a medium sized pot, add 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of hot water, 4 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt, and 3/4 cup of white vinegar. Stir and bring to a boil on medium heat. Meanwhile in a small skillet, saute the jalapeno pepper, garlic, and onion in the olive oil, over medium heat, until the onion just starts to get brown around the edges, but not burnt. Turn the heat off.

Sauted onions, garlic, and peppers
Next wash and cut the roma tomatoes into quarters, lengthwise, or use whole green cherry tomatoes. Divide the jalapeno peppers, onions and garlic equally and put them into the bottom of each sterilized jar, along with 1 teaspoon of dried dill and pickling spice. Now fill the two jars with the green tomatoes, gently pressing them into the jars to get as many into each jar as you can, but leave about 1/2 inch of room at the top of each jar. Put the jars into your kitchen sink and carefully pour the hot brine into each jar, leaving 1/4 inch of air space. Immediately seal the jars with the hot lids, and close them very tightly. Leave the jars on your kitchen counter at room temperature for about 24 hours. If you like crisp tomatoes, you can eat them the next day. After 24 hours, refrigerate the pickled tomatoes if there are any left that is. Makes 2 quarts.

Note: Unless you grow your own tomatoes here on Moloka'i, it can be difficult finding green tomatoes. You can sometimes find them at Kumu Farms or Farmer's Market.

Roasted Beet Carpaccio
with Pickled Green Tomatoes

Roasted Beet Carpaccio
with Pickled Green Tomatoes
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Carpaccio is Italian. It is a side dish of raw meat or fish (such as beef, veal, venison, salmon or tuna), thinly sliced or pounded thin and served mainly as an appetizer. I am a big fan of beets, so I am always looking for ways to serve them. While I was in the Caribbean years ago, I was served beet carpaccio in a French restaurant made from thinly sliced beets, placed in a circle on a bed of arugula, with a vinaigrette dressing. I have also seen thinly sliced roasted beets serve over thick yogurt, then sprinkled with dried mint, or thinly sliced roasted beets sprinkled with feta cheese, and garnished with watercress leaves. My version pairs the sweet taste of roasted beets against the tart and crunchy pickled green tomato. This is one of my favorite side dishes.

4 small beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
pickled green tomatoes (see recipe above)
dried dill for garnish

Pre-heat your oven to 400˚F.

Wash the beets, do not peel. Dry with paper towel. Place beets in a pouch made of heavy duty aluminum foil, large enough to enclose the beets. Sprinkle the beets with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the beets. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour (timings vary from oven to oven). Test with a sharp knife, if is slides through easily, the beets are cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the skin and carefully slice the beets very thinly. Set aside.

Next, thinly slice the pickled green tomatoes. On a large serving plate or individual plates, arrange the beet slices overlapping in a circle. Now place several slices of pickled green tomatoes in the center of the beets, also arranged in a circle. Garnish with a sprinkle of dried dill. Makes 2 servings as an appetizer or a side dish.

Nov 27, 2013

Japanese Kabocha Squash

Japanese Kabocha Squash
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Portuguese sailors introduced the kabocha squash to Japan in 1541, bringing it with them from Cambodia. Today it is eaten all over the world, and is very common here in Hawaii. 

It is a very hard squash, has knobbly-looking skin, is shaped like a squat pumpkin, and has a dull-finished, deep green skin with some celadon-to-white stripes and an intense yellow-orange color on the inside. In many respects it is similar to the Buttercup squash, but without the characteristic cup on the blossom end. It is a member of the species Cucurbita maxima, along with the Hubbard and Buttercup squashes. 

An average kabocha weighs 2-3 pounds but can weigh as much as 8 pounds. It has an exceptional naturally sweet flavor, even sweeter than butternut squash. It is similar in texture and flavor to a pumpkin and a sweet potato combined.

Kabocha squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important for healthy white blood cells, good immunity and for vibrant eyes, skin and hair. A single serving of kabocha squash provides 70% of the day’s recommended requirement! Kabocha is also a good source of iron, vitamin C and some B vitamins and fiber.

Kabocha Squash Recipes:
Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
The sweet squash flavors the rice, and the edamame (soy beans) not only tastes wonderful, but add a nice contrast to the dish. Serve with chicken, pork, or fish.

Japanese Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
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)
pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional

Put rice in a bowl. Wash and pour water out, then repeat 2 more times (this gets rid of some of the milky white starch on the rice which makes it sticky). Place rice and 3 cups of 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 because the tough to peel, so be careful). Set the squash aside. Just before cooking the rice, add salt and sake to the water and stir. Then add the cut kabocha squash to the rice and bring everything to a boil on high heat without a lid. When it reaches the rapid boil, put the lid on and reduce the 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 with the rice.) Serve and garnish with the cooked edamame, or perhaps pumpkin seeds, or both. Makes
4-6 servings.

Kabocha Squash, long Beans, and Shrimp
in Coconut Milk
This is a multi-layered soup recipe that my Filipino friend Estella told me about while she was cutting my hair. Coconut milk combined with sweet kabocha squash, shrimp and long beans make for a delicious main course or as an opener to a tropical meal. Be sure and suck the shrimp heads, sooo ono!

2 cups kabocha squash, pared, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 cups long beans, ends trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
1/2 pound large white shrimp (8 pieces), tendrils trimmed, leaving the heads on for sucking later
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups coconut milk
1 pinch dried chili pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt to taste

In a pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic just until the onion gets transparent, but don't burn the garlic. Add fish sauce and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in coconut milk and add a pinch of dried chili pepper. Bring to a simmer then lower heat and continue for about 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly reduced.

Add squash and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add long beans and continue to cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Add shrimp and continue to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until squash is softened, long beans are tender yet crisp and shrimps have changed color. Season with salt to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Kabocha Squash & Coconut Cream Bisque
This soup recipe is very popular in the Caribbean. They make their soup with "calabaza" pumpkins, which is similar to the Kabocha here in Hawaii. Normally they like their soup a little spicy, so they add scotch bonnet peppers to this recipe. Personally I would rather taste the squash and coconut rather than all that heat, so I only add a pinch of chili pepper to this recipe.

4 cups of kabocha squash, pared, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 quart chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
1 pinch dried chili pepper (optional)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and added to pot
salt & pepper to taste
sour cream for garnish

Add all ingredients, except the sour cream, to a medium sized pot. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash is very tender, then remove the 2 bay leaves and blend the soup with an immersion blender, or regular blender until smooth. Taste and add additional seasoning if necessary. Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream. Makes 6 servings.

Nov 25, 2013

Rosemary Pork Rib Roast with Mustard Gravy

Rosemary Pork Rib Roast
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This cut of pork is called a pork shoulder roast at Misaki's Grocery here on Moloka'i, but it is also known as a pork rib roast. Basically it's a rack of bone-in pork chops that are not cut apart (Ask your butcher to remove the chine bone (backbone) so you can easily cut the roast apart after it is cooked). There are a lot of great things about this cut of pork. One is that it only cost me $11.45 for a 3.28 pound roast, enough to feed 5 lucky people. This cut of pork is like a prime rib roast in the pork world. It's great for company or for special occasions, or to just treat yourself over the holidays, and it's very easy to prepare.

I have a tried-&-true recipe for this beautiful roast. The recipe comes out of the fact that I have a couple of rosemary bushes in my yard that I regularly use for pork ribs, venison roasts, or when I make mashed potatoes (I use rosemary in the water to flavor the potatoes.) However if you don't have rosemary growing in your yard, perhaps you know someone who does, or you can purchase it at Kumu farms here on Moloka'i. The rosemary is chopped and covers the roast with the addition of olive oil, sea salt and lots of black pepper. The end product is a juicy thing of beauty, especially with a delicious mustard gravy. I am sure you and your family will enjoy this recipe as much as my wife and I do.

Rosemary Pork Rib Roast with Mustard Gravy
1-3 1/2 to 4 pound pork shoulder roast
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sea salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons black pepper
1/3 cup rosemary, finely chopped
2 carrots - rough cut
1 small onion - rough cut and include skins
2 stalks of celery - rough cut
6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon grainy mustard

Defrost pork, if frozen, completely a couple of days in the refrigerator, then let it sit covered on your kitchen counter to room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450˚F.

In the center of a roasting pan add your rough cut vegetables. Rinse the rack of pork well and pat dry. Rub the olive oil into the meat, then sprinkle entire rack with the sea salt, pepper and chopped rosemary. Place rack, fat side up, on top of cut vegetables. Place pan in preheated oven at 450˚F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce heat to 325˚F and continue to roast for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until internal temperature has reached 150˚F with an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast. Note: The general rule is to roast your pork roast for 20 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 150˚F. 

Sliced pork rib roast with mustard gravy
and yellow wax beans from Kumu Farms

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Remove the pork from the oven placing it on a cutting board and allow it to rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes before slicing it. This will allow all the juices to remain in the pork, rather than have them run all over the cutting board, making the meat dry. 

While the pork is resting, remove the roasted vegetables from the roasting pan and discard, or give the carrots to your dog as I do, he loves them. Now remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil that remains in the pan. Set the pan across 2 burners turned to medium high. Sprinkle the pan with the flour and brown the flour, stirring it in the remaining oil, to a light brown color. Now add the wine and chicken stock to the roasting pan. With a wooden spoon stir the mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it thickens, making your pan gravy. Finally stir in the mustard. Taste the gravy and season with salt and pepper if needed. Cut the rack along the bones, making even portions of the pork, serve with mashed potatoes, with pan gravy and fresh green beans, or whatever vegetable you like. Makes 5 servings.

Nov 23, 2013

Spicy Mexican Pickled Carrots

Spicy Mexican Pickled Carrots
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Zanahorias en Escabeche or Mexican Spicy Pickled Carrots are one of the best ways to enjoy a pickled condiment. These carrots are found in many Mexican restaurants across the country, usually already sitting on the tables, ready for someone like me to sit down and dig in. What makes these spicy carrots so good is that they still have a bit of a crunch left in them, not soft or mushy, and the brine is a wonderful combination of flavors.

These pickled carrots are great with Hawaii meals as well. Serve with roast pork, or pork belly, with fried fish, or cut up the carrots and mix with your favorite poke, or on top of saimin noodle soup. I like them skewered on a bamboo stick and put into a bloody mary along with some of the pickled carrot juice, at happy hour.

One of my favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants is located in Salinas, California, called Rosita's Armory Cafe. They always have spicy pickled carrots, but that is only for starters. If you are ever visiting Monterey or Carmel, California, go a little out of your way and find Rosita's in Salinas, by the old Greyhound bus station.

The best Mexican Food Ever!
This great Mexican restaurant in Salinas, California

 unfortunately has closed after many years of great food.
Rosita's Spicy Mexican
Pickled Carrots

1 1/2 pounds of large carrots
1 large yellow or white onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 fresh green and/or red jalapeno peppers
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/8 cup of olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 pint canning jars and lids, sanitized*

Peel the carrots and slice into 1/4 inch pieces either straight across or diagonally. Peel and cut the onion into 1/4 inch slices, peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves. Slice the chili peppers into thin rounds with the seed intact.

In a pot mix the water and vinegar and bring to a soft boil under low medium heat. Let sit covered.

In a a large frying pan heat the oil, add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. Next add the chili, onion, garlic, and bay leaves then cook for another 5 minutes. Add the salt, oregano and peppercorns and cook for about 3 minutes more, stirring to combine the spices and vegetables well. Don't overcook, the carrots should be crispy.

Carefully take the 3 jars out of the hot water and put them in the kitchen sink. With a large spoon, place enough carrot mixture in each jar until it is about 1/2 inch from the rim, then pour in water/vinegar mixture to about 1/4 inch from the rim. Seal tightly with sanitized lids and set aside to cool, make sure they are tightly sealed. Once they are at room temperature you can put them in the refrigerator. Let them sit in there at least overnight or longer if you want, the longer the more the flavors will mix. The carrots will keep up to a couple of months in the refrigerator.

*To sanitize the jars and lids place them inside a large and deep pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Leave the jars and lids inside the boiling water until the carrots are ready to be poured in. Another way to sanitize the jars by washing them in a dish washer with very hot water temperature. Makes 3 pints, or about 4 1/2 cups.

Nov 10, 2013

The Other Asparagus... SEA ASPARAGUS!

Fresh Hawaiian Sea Asparagus
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There is another asparagus called Sea Asparagus. It grows on shorelines and in marshes across North America, as well as in Great Britain and parts of Western Europe. It also is grown hydroponically here in Hawaii, in Kahuku on the North Shore of the Island of Oahu by Marine Agrifuture. Salicornia virginica, or sea asparagus, is a distant relative of beets and spinach, however it doesn't taste like either. It has a crisp texture and salty flavor and tastes of the sea. Sea Asparagus look like delicate miniature asparagus, and is teeming with nutrients. Because it is very salty, it needs to be soaked in cold water before eating.

Traditionally, Sea Asparagus is a vegetable that is served with fish. Here is Hawaii, we blanched them and use them in salads, steam them and toss them with butter and serve them with cold smoked tuna, or we serve them with sushi, or pickle them. Note: Sea Asparagus should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap if not used immediately. It will keep in the vegetable compartment for no longer than 3 days. 

Today I bought Sea Asparagus from a vendor at our farmers market here on Moloka'i, and have put together several recipes for you to enjoy.

Sea Asparagus Recipes:
Ahi Poke with Sea Asparagus
4 ounces fresh sea asparagus, blanched*
1 pound fresh ahi steaks, cut into cubed, bite-size pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce (shoyu)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (tops included)
1/4 cup chopped Maui onion (or yellow onion)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 chili pepper, cored, seeded and diced (optional)
sea salt, to taste
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish

*To blanch the sea asparagus, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the asparagus. Blanch for 30-40 seconds. Remove the sea asparagus and cool it in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Mix all ingredients and chill in fridge for 1 hour before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Tomato & Sea Asparagus Salad
2 cups blanched sea asparagus, drained*
4 medium or large tomatoes, sliced 1/4inch thick
1 small sweet Maui or red onion, julienned
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced
1 teaspoon sugar

*To blanch the sea asparagus, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the asparagus. Blanch for 30-40 seconds. Remove the sea asparagus and cool it in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Mix all ingredients and chill in fridge for 1 hour. Makes 4 servings.

Sunomono with Sea Asparagus
Sunomono is a Japanese word meaning vinegared dishes, usually marinated vegetables, and is served as a side dish to go with various Japanese-style dishes.

4 ounces fresh sea asparagus
5 to 6 ounces Japanese saifun noodles or vermicelli noodles
1 medium size Japanese cucumber
roasted sesame seeds for garnish

Ingredients for dressing:
6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons tamari sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Blanch the sea asparagus in boiling water for 30-40 seconds, plunge into ice water. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Cook the noodles in boiling water until just tender. Rinse in cold water, drain and transfer to medium bowl.

In a small bowl, stir the dressing ingredients. Toss, cover and chill the noodles with the dressing.

Peel and seed (cut lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon) the cucumber, chop into small moon shaped slices.

To serve, divide noodles into 4 or 5 serving bowls and arrange the cucumber and sea asparagus on top. Lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 4-6 servings.

Pickled Sea Asparagus
3 pounds fresh sea asparagus
1 tablespoon pickling spice
whole dried red chilies
3 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3-5 garlic cloves

Place spices and 3 to 5 peeled cloves of garlic in each sterilized jar. Clean and soak sea asparagus for 1 hour in cold water (to leach the salt away). Drain; chop into 2- to 3-inch lengths and pack fairly tightly into the jars.

Bring vinegar, water and sugar to boil and simmer 15 minutes. Pour hot solution over sea asparagus, leaving l/2 inch headroom. Seal jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes about 10 pints.

Note: The asparagus is pickled after a couple of days, but gets better the longer it keeps.

Nov 4, 2013

Scared of Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner?

Preparing a Thanksgiving turkey dinner has always been a scary time for many people. Whether you are preparing a turkey dinner for your own family, or for friends and family, you start to think, what if the turkey turns out bad? What if it is dry, or the stuffing isn't right? The bottom line is that the pressure is on the cook to deliver a beautifully prepared, elegantly presented, perfectly cooked meal in a timely manner.

I think the problem is that we don't prepare Thanksgiving everyday, or we forget where the recipe is, or in my case, which recipe did I use last year? And then there are all of the side dishes to prepare, not to mention the dessert. This can be a frightening time for the cook in the house.

It is common in Hawaii to have pot luck meals. Neighbors, friends and family all bring something so the cook doesn't have to do all of the work, and if the cook is smart he or she will also think about disposable plates and dinnerware to cut down on the cleanup. Although cooking a turkey can be scary, you are not alone. Thousands of home cooks are as intimidated as you are. With a bit of effort and a little luck, your holiday turkey will be a success.

I have prepared many Thanksgiving meals over the years and have accumulated a lot of good recipes that I would like to share with you. Perhaps these recipes will become a favorite with your ohana (family, in Hawaiian), I hope so. Check out these turkey safety tips and recipes that I posted last year on this site... click here to link to that post.

Easy Roast Turkey with Basting Sauce
Basting a turkey is very important. The basting sauce helps to flavor the turkey, as well as to make the skin crisp. Cooks note: Be sure to allow at least 3 days for a frozen turkey to thaw properly in your refrigerator. Never thaw a turkey outside of your refrigerator, like in your kitchen sink, or in a cooler. You and your guests run the risk of salmonella poisoning, and I don't think you want that.

To roast a turkey, preheat the oven to 375˚F. After you take your thawed turkey out of its plastic bag, be sure to rinse it off with cold water, inside and out, and then dry it off with paper towels. Place the dry turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and brush some basting sauce over the turkey. Roast the turkey for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325˚F. Baste the turkey every 20 minutes or so. A turkey takes roughly 15 minutes per pound to roast; a 12-pound bird will take about 3 hours to
Meat Thermometer
cook. I rely on my meat thermometer to tell me when the bird is cooked to perfection. It should read 165˚ inserted in the thick thigh meat. When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and cover it with foil to let it rest 15 minutes, then the juices won't run all over the cutting board. It will still be warm for up to 30 minutes if you keep it covered.

Ingredients for basting sauce:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Melt the butter in a medium pot. Add the remaining ingredients and heat to a simmer. Leave on very low heat while basting the turkey every 20 minutes or so, while it is in the oven.

Easy Giblet Gravy
For those of you that don't know what giblets are, they are the bits of turkey meat usually found in a little paper bag inside the turkey that consists of the neck, gizzard, Kidneys, heart and liver. Some people don't like to add giblets to the gravy, my wife being one of them. To me they are missing out on a lot of flavor, and besides the giblets are totally cooked and minced before adding them to the gravy. This is an easy giblet gravy to make and tastes really great!

2 tablespoons butter
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
A few cracks of black pepper
Giblets from a turkey
A few sprigs fresh thyme (found at Kumu Farms on Moloka'i)
1/2 cup drippings from a roasted turkey
2 tablespoons flour

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the celery, carrot and onion for 1 to 2 minutes, until the onions are soft and beginning to color. Add a few cracks of freshly ground pepper.

Add the giblets, thyme and enough water to cover. Raise the heat and bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about an hour. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

Strain the broth into a bowl. Transfer the cooked giblets to a cutting board and discard the sprigs of thyme. Remove as much meat from the neck as possible, then discard the neck bones and neck fat. Chop the neck meat and giblets into very fine pieces.

In a medium skillet, heat the pan drippings over medium low heat. Add the chopped giblets and sauté for a minute. Add enough flour to make a thick roux, a teaspoon at a time. Allow the roux to cook and darken for a minute. Add the reserved broth 1/4 cup at a time, whisking thoroughly into the roux.

Continue adding broth as the gravy cooks and thickens. If necessary, add additional water to bring gravy to proper consistency. Taste for seasoning and serve. Makes 2 cups.

Classic Biscuits
Biscuits and gravy for Thanksgiving is always a winner. Biscuits with honey or jam is good anytime. This recipe is tried and true.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, butter or margarine 
3/4 cup milk

Heat the oven to 450°F. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until mixed. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or fork, until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the milk until mixture forms a soft dough and leaves the side of the bowl (dough will be soft and sticky).

Lightly sprinkle flour over a cutting board or countertop. Place dough on floured surface; gently roll in the flour to coat. To knead dough, fold dough toward you. With the heels of your hands, lightly push dough away from you with a short rocking motion. Move dough a quarter turn and repeat 10 times. Dough will feel springy and smooth.

On the floured surface, flatten dough evenly, using hands or a rolling pin, until dough is 1/2 inch thick.

Before cutting each biscuit, dip a 2 1/2-inch round cutter into flour to lightly coat it so it will cut cleanly through the dough without sticking. To cut, push the cutter straight down through the dough without twisting or turning. Cut the biscuits as close together as possible. On an ungreased cookie sheet, place biscuits about 1 inch apart for biscuits with crusty sides, or place with sides touching for biscuits with soft sides.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm. Makes 12 biscuits.

Oct 22, 2013


Trick or Treat?
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Hawaii celebrates Halloween just like the rest of the country. This is the time of year when people are thinking about buying a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. When I was a boy Halloween meant costumes, trick or treating, candied apples, and pumpkin pie. Now that I am old and gray, it's still a magical time of year for me. Just yesterday I stopped off at a church pumpkin patch in Kualapu'u, a small plantation town here on the island of Moloka'i. For the past 3 years I have been buying pumpkins from them.

My wife loves to collect the seeds from inside the pumpkin, then she roasts them in the oven. It has become a tradition this time of year in our house. We usually sit and eat them while they are still warm from the oven, and then watch football on television (see recipe below).

Pumpkin puree is actually very easy to make. I know that most people don't want to take the time to do it, but to me it just tastes better when I know what's in it. For homemade puree, buy a couple of small pumpkins. Cut them in half, remove the seeds and pulp, and lightly coat the outside with olive oil or vegetable spray. Place the pumpkin halves, skin side up, on a foil lined cookie sheet, and roast them in a 350˚F oven for about an hour, or until you can easily pierce the outside skin with a fork and the pumpkin meat is soft. Cool the pumpkins until you can handle them. Spoon or cut out the pulp into a food processor, discarding the skin. Puree the pumpkin pulp until smooth, about 10 minutes. Line a colander with cheese cloth and put the puree on top of the cloth. Place a larger bowl under the colander to collect water from the puree. I usually cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight to drain. Discard the pumpkin water, and the puree is ready to use in your recipes.

Coconut Pumpkin Pie
This is a delicious tropical coconut pumpkin pie recipe, almost like a creamy pumpkin cheesecake with coconut. Oh my!

Ingredients for the graham cracker crust:
1 1/3 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil, or melted butter

Ingredients for the filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (2 cups)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
whipped cream
1/2 cup toasted, sweetened coconut flakes for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. 

To prepare the graham cracker crust, lightly grease a 9" pie plate and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut flakes, and sugar until well mixed. Add in the coconut oil, or butter, and rub in until the mixture begins to clump together. (It will be pretty crumbly at this point.) Press into the prepared pie plate and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool while preparing the filling.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, coconut cream, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is set (about halfway through cooking, you will need to loosely tent the crust with a ring of foil to prevent the crust from burning.) Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream. Garnish the whipped cream and pie slices with toasted coconut flakes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Note: If you can't find coconut oil, you can use butter. If you are able to find coconut oil, however, I urge you to do so; it really adds a wonderful flavor and melt-in-your mouth quality to the crust! I was able to find it at Friendly Market, but they don't always have it in stock.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 medium pumpkin
4 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 250˚F. Cut off top 3 to 4 inches of pumpkin then scoop out seeds onto a clean work surface. Discard stringy fiber from seeds along with any seeds that are split or cracked then transfer to a strainer and rinse well. (You should have about 2 cups of seeds.)

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add seeds, reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes. Drain well then transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet tray and pat dry.

Transfer seeds to a medium bowl, toss with oil and spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast seeds, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until just crisp and golden brown, about 1 hour total. (They will become crispier as they cool.) Sprinkle with a little salt, then set them aside to let cool completely then shell or eat whole. Makes about 2 cups of seeds.

Oct 2, 2013


Blackberry Pie
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I have fond memories of picking blackberries in the summer as a child. There were large bushes filled with berries along the railroad tracks near our house in Jacksonville, Florida. My brother and I would usually eat them before we got home. I still crave the taste of those berries, but they don't grow on Moloka'i, here in Hawaii. Occasionally we get fresh blackberries in our grocery stores, but they are too expensive. So not giving up on my quest for a blackberry dessert, I developed this easy to make pie recipe that can be made with frozen blackberries, or a combination of frozen blackberries and raspberries. Naturally if you wear false teeth, watch out for the seeds.

Blackberry Pie
1 frozen pre-made 9 inch pie pastry, or make your own
1 beaten egg

5 cups frozen blackberries, do not thaw the berries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons cold butter, crumbled
1 teaspoon white sugar

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Put bottom layer of piecrust into 9 inch pie plate. Beat one egg with a fork in a small bowl. Brush half of the egg mixture onto the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Mix filling and Spoon the berry mixture into the pie shell. Crumble the cold butter over the berries, then cover with the top crust. Seal and crimp the edges, then cut vents in the top crust for steam to escape. Brush the top crust with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375˚F, and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Cover the edges of your pie with a ring of foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent burning. Cool completely on a wire rack. If sliced too soon pie will be runny. Serve pie with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 servings.

Blackberry Cobbler
1/2 stick butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup whole milk
2 cups fresh (or frozen) blackberries
whipped cream and/or ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 3-quart baking dish with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup sugar with the flour and milk. Whisk in the melted butter.

Rinse the blackberries and pat them dry. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the blackberries evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the blackberries. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 1 hour. When 10 minutes of the cooking time remains, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over the top. Serve topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 4 servings.