Jun 29, 2013


Asian Salmon Cooked in a Foil Pouch
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The Hawaiian word lau translates to "leaf" in English. Lau lau simply means "many leaves". Lau lau is also known in Hawaii as a one-dish dinner made by wrapping taro leaves and ti leaves around pieces of salted butterfish, pork butt, beef brisket, chicken thighs, or a vegetable filling. These tropical pouches are then steamed for 3 or 4 hours in a layered steamer, or in the old days, steamed in an imu (underground oven). The results are juicy packages of island goodness with the unique flavor of the taro leaves. Similar Polynesian dishes include Tongan "lupulu" (containing corned beef) and Samoan "palusami" and "fai'ai" (which can contain fish, eel, shrimp, etc. Years ago French chefs started cooking in pouches made out of parchment paper called "en papillote". 

Lau lau is still very popular today in Hawaii, but for the past 30 years, cooks all over the country have been using another more convenient way to make tropical pouches by using aluminum foil. The foil keeps the moisture in so the food actually steams in its own juices, sort of like a mini foil pressure cooker. The trick is to make sure that the foil is tightly closed so the steam doesn't escape. Closing everything up in a pouch steams the protein and vegetables while keeping them moist. One of the great things about foil pouches is that they can be made ahead, then cooked on an outside grill in your backyard or at the beach, or you can cook them in your oven. If you haven't tried cooking this way, it's easy, a lot of fun, and clean-up is a snap.

How to make a foil pouches:
Lay a large sheet of heavy-duty foil (12-inch by 18-inch sheet) on a flat surface. Spray foil with cooking spray. Put the ingredients in the center of the sprayed foil. Bring up foil sides, double fold the top and ends to seal pouch, leaving room for heat circulation. Grill as directed below, or place the pouches on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 400˚F oven for 18 to 22 minutes depending on what you are cooking and whether you are using the grill or an oven.

Caution: Be careful when unsealing the foil pouches as the escaping steam will be very hot. Be sure and test one of the pouches to make sure that the food is fully cooked before serving. Individual pouches can be eaten right out of the foil, or transfer to a plate with a slotted spatula. Spoon some of the juices over the top and eat immediately.

Recipes for Tropical Foil Pouches:
Lau Lau
Lau lau can be made by using foil instead of ti leaves. Check out this recipe on Reggie's Kaukau Time blog for Hawaiian Pork Lau lau.

Coconut Shrimp 
Toss 1 pound peeled large shrimp, 2 each chopped lemongrass stalks and scallions, 1/3 cup coconut milk and the juice of 1 lime. Divide between 2 foil pouches. Grill over medium heat, 15 minutes, or in the oven at 400˚F. Top with chopped cilantro.

Pineapple-Herb Chicken
Divide 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts among 4 foil sheets. Top with sliced green onions (4 divided), 1 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks, drained, 1 medium red bell pepper thinly sliced and 4 basil leaves, sliced. Spoon a mixture of 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, and 1 minced garlic clove, divided over each chicken breast. Sprinkle each with freshly ground pepper, to taste. Fold up the 4 pouches and bake 18-22 minutes on a cookie sheet, or 14-16 minutes in a covered grill, or in the oven at 400˚F. Serve with brown rice.

Asian-Style Ribs
Mix 1/3 cup each hoisin sauce and ketchup, 4 teaspoons Sriracha and 1 1/4 teaspoons each salt, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Coat 2 pounds baby back ribs with the hoisin mixture; place in a single layer on a double sheet of foil and form a pouch. Grill over indirect heat, covered, turning occasionally, 1 hour.

For each serving, place 1 mahi-mahi fillet, 1/2 cup fresh salsa, 4 olives, and olive oil and lime juice on a sheet of foil. Form a pouch. Grill over high heat, 15 minutes.

Asian Salmon
On a sheet of heavy-duty foil, add a bed of kai choi, snow peas or asparagus, topped with thinly sliced lime. Put two 1/2 pound salmon fillets on top of the limes, surrounded by thinly sliced carrot sticks. Put thinly sliced red onion on top of the fish with minced ginger and garlic. Sprinkle everything with tamari or ponzu sauce, and a little sesame oil. Form a tightly closed pouch and steam on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400˚F for about 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, and serve with rice. Makes 2 servings. (see photo above).

Mustard-Dill Salmon
For each serving, layer a few lemon slices, 1 salmon fillet and some dill sprigs on a sheet of foil. Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and ground coriander; spread whole-grain mustard on top. Form a pouch. Grill over medium heat, 18 minutes, or in the oven at 400˚F.

Zucchini and Tomatoes 
Toss 2 sliced zucchini, 2 diced tomatoes, 4 smashed garlic cloves, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper on a sheet of foil. Form a pouch. Grill over high heat, 15 minutes, or in the oven at 400˚F. Top with grated parmesan.

Baby Beets
Toss 1 pound of halved baby beets with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and salt on a sheet of foil. Form a pouch. Grill over medium heat, 30 minutes, or in the oven at 400˚F. Serve hot, garnished with fresh mint and crumbled feta cheese.

Sesame Bok Choy
Toss 1 pound baby bok choy, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon each grated ginger and sesame seeds on a sheet of foil. Arrange in a single layer and form a pouch. Grill over medium-high heat, 15 minutes, or in the oven at 400˚F.

Roasted Broccoli
Toss 1 head broccoli florets, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt on a sheet of foil. Arrange in a single layer and form a pouch. Grill over medium-high heat, 15 minutes, or in the oven at 400˚F.

Pineapple Donut Cake
Place 1 cake donut on sheet of foil. Mix 1 tablespoon softened butter and 1 tablespoon brown sugar together and spread it over the donut. Place 1 canned pineapple ring on top of the donut. Wrap the donut in a tight flat pouch. Grill over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, or in the oven at 400˚F.

Jun 24, 2013


Moloka'i Bonefish (O'io)
Hallelujah Hou Fishing with Captain Clay
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A friend asked me the other day how to make fish balls. He said that someone had given him an Hawaiian bonefish (O'io), probably caught while fishing on the inner reef flats here on Moloka'i. I told him that fish balls are eaten around the world, and their are many ways to prepare them, from Jewish gefilte fish, to Spanish fish ball tapas, to Chinese white fish ball noodle soup, to French quenelles simmered in a flavorful sauce. The variety of recipes are endless, probably because people have found that it is a delicious way to serve a lot of people for very little money.

Fish balls can be made with almost any fish depending on what you like or what is available. The most common seems to be fish balls made from some sort of white fish like cod, halibut, sole, flounder, or in Hawaii, bonefish, but they can also be made with shrimp, salmon, Spanish mackerel, sardines, cuttlefish, etc. Generally the fish meat is blended in a food processor with egg, then bread crumbs, potatoes, rice or flour are added with herbs and seasoning, then rolled into small balls. They are then usually fried, boiled in soup or stew, or steamed.

Fish balls can be fried and served as an appetizer, steamed and put into a soup or stew, put between Hawaiian sweet bread and eaten out-of-hand with a little sweet-hot sauce, skewered on a bamboo stick, or sauteed and put into a salad. I find that when I buy fish, I usually buy more than I need. I cook the fish for a main course, then use the leftovers to make fish balls, or fish cakes for another meal. Here are some international fish ball recipes to consider the next time you are looking for a different and delicious way to feed yourself or your family without breaking the bank.

Salmon and Black Sesame Onigiri
(Japanese rice ball sushi)
Salmon and Black Sesame Onigiri
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This is a beautiful little recipe using smoked salmon, however leftover fresh cooked salmon works also. I like to use brown short-grain rice to make onigiri. It is a little less sticky than white rice and forms a looser ball. Another version is instead of mixing the salmon into the rice, you can stuff it in the middle of the rice ball: loosely form a ball of rice, press a hollow in the middle, stuff the filling into the hollow, and squeeze the rice to form the onigiri. 

4 ounces thinly-sliced smoked salmon
3 cups cooked short-grain rice, hot, or brown rice
2 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds, or use furikake seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt or less, if needed
1 sheet toasted nori, cut in 4 strips

Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Lay the salmon slices in the pan and cook until opaque and lightly browned, 15 to 30 seconds per side. Flake fish with a fork and mix with the rice and sesame seeds. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed.

Place a bowl of water nearby and use it moisten your hands frequently while forming the onigiri, so the rice doesn't stick to them. Place one quarter of the rice mixture (about 3/4 cup) in your hands and squeeze together firmly. Rotate and squeeze until it forms a circular cake that holds together securely. Wrap a strip of nori around the middle. Repeat with remaining rice mixture.

Serve immediately or wrap in plastic wrap to eat later. Most people recommend not refrigerating onigiri because it ruins the texture of the rice, but I find a 30-second warming in the microwave revives a refrigerated onigiri just fine. Makes 4 rice balls, serves 2.

Thai Fish Ball Salad
1 1/4 pounds (500g) white fish fillets (white fish), skin & bones removed, chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh coriander leaves
1/2 bunch snake beans (long beans, or green beans), trimmed, sliced
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (If you can't find kaffir lime leaves, substitute with 1 tablespoon of lime zest)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoons red curry paste
1/4 cup (60ml) sweet chilli sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) peanut oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 Japanese cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds removed, sliced
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
1 cup (100g) snow peas, halved lengthways

Place the fish in a food processor and process for 1-2 minutes or until a paste forms. Chop 1/2 cup of the coriander leaves. Combine the chopped coriander, snake beans, lime leaves or zest, egg, curry paste, 1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce in a bowl with the fish paste.

Use wetted hands to roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. In batches, cook the balls, turning, for 5-7 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towel.

Whisk the lime juice and remaining sweet chilli and fish sauce. Combine mint, cucumber, red onion, snow peas and remaining coriander leaves in a bowl. Scatter over the balls and serve drizzled with the dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Tunisian Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce
Tunisia is a small country located in northern Africa on the Mediterranean coast. This country is very close to Italy, hence the tomato sauce. This is a delicious recipe.

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or use more parsley instead)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon harissa (north African hot chili paste, or substitute Sriracha hot chili sauce)
1 1/2 pounds cod, or other white fish
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 egg
canola olive oil for frying

Ingredients for the sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water or clam broth
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
chopped parsley for garnish

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Fill a small bowl with cold water and set aside.

To the bowl of a food processor, add the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, salt and harissa. Pulse 10 times until the onion and garlic are minced and everything is well combined. Break the fish into chunks, and add to the processor. Pulse 10 more times or until the fish is minced.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the bread crumbs and egg. Knead with your fingers until the mixture is smooth.

Break off a small piece of the mixture and fry it in a tiny bit of olive oil in a nonstick frying pan. Taste for seasoning, and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary.

Keeping your hands moistened with cold water, form the fish paste into balls approximately one inch in diameter. Set the balls on the baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

To make the sauce: Warm the olive oil in a tagine base or Dutch oven. Add the garlic, crushed tomatoes, water or broth, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and add the fish balls to the sauce. Cover the pan, and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning the fish balls gently in the sauce midway through, until the fish is just cooked through. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve hot with couscous. Makes 6 servings.

Chinese Fish Ball Noodle Soup
This recipe is popular in Hawaii using bonefish (O'io, see photo above). The fish is so bony that it is usually put in the refrigerator for several days to allow the meat to separate from the bone, then cut open and using a spoon, the meat is scraped out of the fish. It is then mashed, seasoned and boiled in soup or stew, or coated with egg and Panko and fried, Ono!

6 cups water
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
about 1/2 pound fish heads and/or bones
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

4 ounces of bean thread/cellophane noodles

1 pound boneless, white-fleshed skinless fish fillets
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)

Place 6 cups of water in a medium pot, add the scallions, ginger, and fish heads and bones, and bring to a vigorous boil. Add the salt, partially cover, and cook at a strong boil for 20 minutes. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for another half hour or so.

Strain the fish broth through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. You should have between 3 and 4 cups broth. Add water if necessary to bring it up to 4 cups. Pour the broth back into the pot, add the vinegar, and taste for salt. Adjust the seasoning if you wish.

Meanwhile, place the bean threads in a bowl and add hot water to cover. Let soak for 15 to 20 minutes, then drain. Use scissors to cut them into shorter lengths if you wish. Set aside.

Chop fish fillets, then pulse in a food processor 2 or 3 times. Place in a medium bowl, add the minced ginger, cornstarch, and salt, and use your fingers or a fork to mix and blend well. Add water a little bit at a time until you are able to form a ball without the mixture crumbling apart. The amount of water really depends on the type of fish you use, so add the water slowly until you get the consistency you can work with.

Lightly oil a plate. Wet both of your hands with water and scoop up about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and try to press it into a ball between your moistened palms. Set the ball on the plate. It will be a little bumpy, but don’t worry. Repeat with the remaining fish mixture. You will have about 30-35 balls. Set aside, refrigerated until ready to cook.

About 10 minutes before serving the soup, bring the broth to a rapid boil. Add the soaked bean threads and the fish balls and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook at a strong simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fish balls are cooked through; use a slotted spoon to turn the balls over so all sides are exposed to the hot broth. They will turn white and expand a little as they cook

Remove from the heat, add the sesame oil, and serve immediately. You can also individually serve this by allotting about 5 to 6 fish balls to each, as well as noodles, and broth, and top each with chopped coriander leaves. Makes 4 servings.

Swedish Fried Fish Balls  (Fiskibollur)
with Sweet Dill Mustard Sauce
Ingredients for fish balls:
1 pound cod or other white fish, skinned and boned
3 potatoes
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
olive oil and a knob of butter for frying
lemon wedges

Ingredients for sweet dill mustard sauce:
6 tablespoons sweet honey mustard
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons plain or white wine vinegar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill

To make the sauce, mix together the mustards, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in 2/3 cup canola oil until well incorporated into a smooth sauce. Stir in chopped dill. Chill until ready to serve. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Makes 1 1/2 cups of sauce.

To make the fish balls, peel and cut potatoes into large chunks, boil in salted water till fork tender, mash with a fork. Steam fish for 5 minutes, flake with a fork. Saute garlic with a little bit of olive oil for a minute. In a bowl combine potatoes, fish, garlic, flour, egg, dill, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Form small balls, and roll in breadcrumbs. Heat olive oil and butter in a small frying pan, brown 3 or 4 at a time, drain on paper towels and salt them. Drizzle with olive oil and serve on a bed of lettuce with lemon wedges. Makes about 18.

Jun 23, 2013

WATERMELON, What the Angles Eat.

Moloka'i Crimson Sweet Watermelon
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When I was living in the deep south as a kid, summertime meant watermelon, and watermelon meant getting rid of those pesky seeds in order to get to that sweet red flesh. My friends and I would have seed spitting contests to see who could spit them the furthest, it was a boy thing.

Now that I'm much older, living in Hawaii, it turns out that the island I live on, Moloka'i, has the best watermelon I have ever eaten. Mid June on Moloka'i is not only the beginning of summer, but the beginning of the sale of our Crimson Sweet watermelon. A variety averaging around 25 pounds. This melon has exceptionally deep red flesh that's sweet and luscious.  

Moloka'i is well known for it's watermelon, I guess the sun, the soil, and the water must be perfect for growing them here. About 50 years ago, when commercial farming was more of a way of life on Moloka'i, watermelons were grown in large quantities and sold to other islands. Unfortunately those days are gone now, but thank goodness they're still being grown here by a few small farmers. On the main street of downtown Kaunakakai yesterday I saw 3 different pickup trucks selling beautiful watermelons. 

Ripe watermelon is not just made of sugar and water, it's full of phenolic antioxidants, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C, at least that's what the Internet says, and everybody knows that the Internet is always right. All I know is that watermelon tastes sweet and refreshing on a hot summer day. Mark Twain once said, "When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat."

Watermelon Recipes:
Watermelon Cups
This simple recipe makes a great pupu (appetizer), or you can make up something on your own to fill the watermelon cups.

1 small watermelon
1 (4-ounces) goat cheese log, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Garnishes: fresh basil and freshly ground pepper

Procedure to make watermelon cups:
Cut half of watermelon into 1-inch-thick slices. Cut slices into 25 rounds, using a 2-inch round cutter. Scoop just enough melon from tops to form indentations, using a melon baller. Stir together goat cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Spoon into indentations. Chill 1 to 2 hours. Garnish, if desired. Makes 10 to 20 servings.

Watermelon Ice Cubes
Pour your favorite beverage (orange juice, mango juice, pineapple juice, lemonade, etc.) over these watermelon ice cubes for a beautiful way to enjoy summer.

1 large watermelon, regular or seedless

Cut watermelon into workable pieces. Remove the seeds and the rind, or buy a seedless watermelon. Puree the watermelon pulp in a blender of food processor (for extra smooth juice, pour through a strainer and run a spoon through the pulp to allow the liquid to run through it). Pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze.

Watermelon-Raspberry Lemonade
Everyone in your ohana will enjoy this combination of flavors.

6 cups watermelon cubes (seeds removed)
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice

Place watermelon, raspberries and water in container of electric blender, cover and blend until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer into pitcher. Stir in sugar and lemon juice until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Makes 4 servings.

Spiked Watermelon Balls
Here's a unique way to spike up your next luau. Serve these little red rum balls in a martini glass, or individually with a fancy toothpick stuck in them.

1 small, ripe, watermelon
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup light rum
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime peel

Bring the water to a boil. Stir in sugar and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the rum and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool somewhat before adding the lime juice and the grated lime peel. Cut melons into balls with a melon baller. Pour the syrup over the fruit, mix gently, cover and chill for several hours before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.

Watermelon Margarita
4 cups cubed watermelon (seeds removed)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 limes, 2 juiced and 1 cut into wedges for garnish
8 ounces tequila
5 ounces Triple Sec, divided
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a blender, puree the watermelon and sugar until smooth. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer the liquid to a pitcher and add the lime juice, tequila and 4 ounces of the Triple Sec. Stir to combine.

In a shallow dish, combine the kosher salt with the chili powder. In a second small plate, add the remaining 1-ounce of Triple Sec. Dip the rims of 4 margarita glasses in the Triple Sec, then coat them in the salt and chili mixture. Divide the margarita between the 4 glasses and garnish each with a lime wedge. Makes 4 servings.

Cucumber-Watermelon Salad
4 cups watermelon, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups Japanese cucumbers (about 2 large cucumbers), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons seeded and finely diced jalapeño, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
black pepper
1/3 cup coarsely chopped lightly salted pistachios.

Combine melon and cucumber in a colander set over a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

Transfer melon and cucumber to serving bowl. Whisk lime juice, hoisin sauce, jalapeño and salt in a small bowl and pour over cucumber and melon. Add parsley and toss gently. Add black pepper to taste and additional salt if needed. Sprinkle the salad with pistachios. Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

Note: Add grilled shrimp to the top of this salad to make a main course. Shortly before serving, light a grill or heat a grill pan. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp (3 or 4 large shrimp, shelled and deveined, per serving) with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the shrimp over high heat until browned and just cooked, about 3 minutes per side. Place grilled shrimp on top of melon and cucumber before adding the dressing and pistachios.

Thai Chicken and Watermelon Salad
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, pale inner core only, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied
2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon, cut in 1/2 inch slices, then cut into rounds.
1/4 cup each of chopped cilantro and mint

In a bowl, combine the lemongrass, oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Light a grill and oil the grates. Grill the chicken over moderately high heat, turning once, until cooked through and lightly charred, about 6 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into slices.

In a mini food processor, combine the chiles, garlic, brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and water and pulse until the chiles and garlic are finely chopped. Pour the dressing over the chicken and watermelon rounds. Sprinkle with cilantro and mint. Makes 4 servings.

Kung Pao Watermelon Shrimp
2 tablespoons peanut oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 cup dry roasted and salted peanuts
1 cup prepared Kung Pao sauce (purchased in the Asian section of your grocery store)
2 cups chopped watermelon

Heat the oil in a large heavy sauté pan or wok over high heat . Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds and then add the shrimp. Stir-fry until the shrimp begin to cook and plump up. Add the peanuts and sauté another 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low and add the sauce. Simmer just until shrimp are cooked. Remove from heat. Stir in watermelon and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Watermelon-Yogurt Ice
Yumm! Watermelon combined with vanilla yogurt for a creamy, icy dessert.

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups diced seedless watermelon
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon lime juice

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a glass measuring cup and let cool slightly. Puree watermelon in a food processor or blender, in 2 batches, pulsing until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in the cooled sugar syrup, yogurt and lime juice until combined. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another large bowl, whisking to release all juice. Discard pulp. Pour the extracted juices into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. (Alternatively, pour into a shallow metal pan and freeze until solid, about 6 hours or overnight.

Remove from freezer to defrost slightly, 5 minutes. Break into small chunks and process in a food processor, in batches, until smooth and creamy.) Serve immediately or transfer to a storage container and freeze for up to 2 hours. Makes 8, 1/2 cup servings. 

Note: If frozen longer than 2 hours, break into chunks and puree in a food processor until smooth before serving.

Jun 19, 2013

Everybody Loves PIZZA, Even In Hawaii

Artichoke-Kalamata Olive Tortilla Pizza
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One of my favorite chefs is Jacques Pépin. He makes quick pizzas with flatbread instead of pizza dough. He uses pita bread, lavash or flour tortillas. My wife started making burrito size tortilla pizzas for us after reading the recipe in one of Jacques Pépin's cookbooks "Chez Jacques Traditions and Rituals of a Cook". She has mastered his recipe and now I think her recipes are even better than Jacques.

She has learned a couple of tricks which I will pass along to you. First of all, they call it flatbread because it isn't thick like traditional pizza dough. In one way this is good, because you can make the edges of the tortilla crisp, but bad because if your pizza ingredients have a lot of moisture, like using sliced tomatoes, or too much oil, the moisture makes the tortilla soggy. She uses halved cherry tomatoes instead of plum tomatoes, very little oil, and pats her ingredients dry before putting them on the tortilla. 

Another trick is to use as few ingredients as possible. The pizza shown above uses a small amount of olive oil, 2 cheeses (grated Parmesan and mozzarella), garlic powder, tomatoes, sliced red bell pepper, kalamata olives, and finally, pieces of artichoke hearts that were marinated in oil, and then dried off. She baked two burrito size tortilla pizzas on a cookie sheet that had been lightly coated with olive oil, in a 425˚F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tortilla was golden brown on the bottom. It made plenty for two adults. Naturally you can make whatever combinations you like. One time she made shrimp tortilla pizza, using shrimp that had been cut in half lengthwise pre-cooked in butter and olive oil, capers, cheese, etc. "It's a good thing" as Martha Stewart says, give it a try.

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
One of my favorite skillets is made of cast iron. If you don't own one you should. They last for generations, mine is an antique, made by Griswold about 75 years ago. You can still buy these great old skillet on eBay, but they are a little pricy. I suggest buying a new one from Lodge, All-Clad, or Calphalon. They are great for frying chicken in or you can even make a delicious pizza in it. Here's how to do it:

Ingredients for dough:
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active-dry yeast
1-1/2 cups very warm water (110°F)
18 ounces (4 cups) all-purpose flour; more for dusting
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Special equipment: 10-inch cast iron skillet

Procedure To make your dough:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside (a Pyrex 2-cup measure makes for easy pouring; be sure the cup isn't cold). Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade; process briefly to mix. With the machine running, add the water-yeast mixture in a steady stream. Turn the processor off and add the oil. Pulse a few times to mix in the oil.

Scrape the soft dough out of the processor and onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, quickly knead the dough into a mass, incorporating any bits of flour or dough from the processor bowl that weren't mixed in. Cut the dough into four equal pieces with a knife or a dough scraper. Roll each piece into a tight, smooth ball, kneading to push the air out.

Rising and storing the dough:
What you do next depends on whether you want to make pizza right way or at a later date.

If you want to bake the pizzas as soon as possible, put the dough balls on a lightly floured surface, cover them with a clean dishtowel, and let them rise until they almost double in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, turn your oven on to 500˚F.

If you want to bake the pizzas tomorrow, line a baking sheet with a floured dishtowel, put the dough balls on it, and cover them with plastic wrap, giving them room to expand (they'll almost double in size), and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight.

To use dough that has been refrigerated overnight, simply pull it out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before shaping the dough into a pizza.

To freeze the dough balls, dust each one generously with flour as soon as you've made it, and put each one in a separate zip-top bag. Freeze for up to a month.

It's best to transfer frozen dough from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before (or 10 to 12 hours before) you want to use it. But I've found that dough balls pulled straight from the freezer and left to warm up on the counter will be completely defrosted in about 1-1/2 hours. The dough is practically indestructible.

Shaping your pizza:
Put the proofed or thawed ball of dough on a lightly floured wooden board. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the ball. Using your fingertips, press the ball down into a flat cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Lift the dough and lay it over the back of the fist of one hand. Put your other fist under the dough, right next to your first fist. Now gently stretch the dough by moving your fists away from each other. Each time you do this stretch, rotate the dough. Continue stretching and rotating until the dough is thin, about 1/4 inch, and measures about 9 inches across. Unless your dough is still cold from the freezer, it will be so soft that its own weight will stretch it out. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough thinly on a floured board. If you like a very thin pizza, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Be careful not to make it too thin, and remember that the thinner the pizza, the less topping it can handle.

Gently lift the stretched dough onto the 10-inch cast iron skillet that has been thinly coated with olive oil. Top the pizza, scattering the ingredients around to within 1/2 inch of the border.

Topping your pizza:
Start with store bought pizza sauce, or make your own. See my recipe for "Mamma Mia" Marinara Sauce. Just spread the sauce on top of the stretched dough then add your toppings. Use any of these topping combinations to inspire your own creation.
 Sautéed onions, fresh sage leaves, grated pecorino romano, grated Parmesan.
  Basil pesto, toasted pine nuts, slow-cooked garlic, grated Parmesan.
  Sautéed leeks, chopped artichoke hearts, a bit of crushed tomatoes, grated Parmesan.
  Italian Fontina, Gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes.
  Garlic, olives, capers, anchovies, and crushed tomatoes.
  Sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil.
  Thinly sliced prosciutto, ricotta, fresh basil, grated Parmesan.
  Cooked Italian sausage, sautéed onions, Italian Fontina, mozzarella.
  Sautéed mushrooms, thinly sliced cooked potatoes, Gorgonzola, crumbled cooked bacon or pancetta.

A generous drizzle of olive oil is a great addition to just about any pizza.

Baking your pizza:
Put the skillet with the topped pizza, on the lowest rack of the preheated oven. Bake from 8 to 15 minutes depending on your oven. Peek underneath and if your pizza is a little pale, you can finish on the stovetop directly over medium heat until it's as dark and crisp as you like it. I like to finish off my pizza with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, but that's up to you.

Jun 15, 2013


Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt,
Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker
available on Amazon.com with
FREE shipping to Hawaii for $55.45
When I was in high school in Memphis, Tennessee, it was hot and humid during the summer, sort of like it is here in Hawaii, except without the trade winds. There was this drive-in called "Tropical Freeze" that made nothing but tropical frozen drinks and tropical ice cream goodies. Needless to say it was a popular place. Living here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i has it's culinary advantages. One of those is the tropical fruit grown here, some are seasonal and some are always available. I found that I could still have my "Tropical Freeze" all I needed was an inexpensive electric ice cream maker (I have an older model of the one shown here) and with these recipes you to can make your own "Tropical Freeze".

Berry Cheesecake Ice Cream
This is more of an adult ice cream because it's not too sweet, and the cream cheese makes it taste like cheesecake. It's important to strain out the seeds, otherwise they get hard as little rocks.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon or lime zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounce bag frozen raspberries or any berry you like
1/2 cup heavy cream

Special equipment: an ice cream maker

In a food processor, blend the frozen berries, then pour them through a strainer to remove the seeds. Pour the berry liquid back into the food processor and add the rest of the ingredients. Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Freeze for several hours until solid. Serve with graham crackers. If frozen solid, allow to soften in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Makes one quart, serving six.

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

In a wide skillet or saucepan, heat the brown sugar with one-quarter of the coconut milk or sour cream, stirring, until smooth and bubbly.

Add the bananas and salt, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the bananas are soft and completely cooked through. It should take about five minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining coconut milk or sour cream, rum and vanilla. Taste, and add a few drops of fresh lemon juice if it taste too sweet.

Puree in a blender or food processor until completely smooth.

Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. (If it's too thick when you take it out of the refrigerator, whisk it briskly, which should thin it out so you can pour it into your machine.) Makes about 3 cups.

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

Procedure to make pastry cream:
In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup of milk with flour, then stir in the egg yolks. Mix well. Heat sugar and remaining 1 cup of milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and heat until boiling. Turn down heat to low and keep cooking until mixture thickens. Stir in vanilla. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Procedure to make glaze: 
In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice with jam until thickened. Pour cooled pastry cream into pie shell. Cut pineapple slices into quarters and arrange them decoratively on top of pastry cream. Brush pie with glaze.

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

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

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

Lychee Ice
2, 20 ounce cans lychee
juice of one fresh lime
3/4 cup powdered sugar
fresh mango or papaya slices

Remove juice from canned lychees (makes a great drink). Place the lychee flesh in blender with lime juice and powdered sugar. Process until smooth. Pour into a container suitable for the freezer, freeze until slushy, then beat well. Repeat this twice. Freeze for several hours until solid. Serve in small scoops with slices of fresh mango or papaya. Makes 6 servings.

Mocha Mama
3 cups strong brewed, expresso coffee, chilled (you can use instant espresso coffee granules)
1 tablespoon prepared chocolate sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups chocolate milk or chocolate ice cream
crushed ice
prepared whipped cream
chocolate shavings, or cocoa power for garnish

Combine all the ingredients, except the last three, in a blender and process until frothy. Pour over tall, ice filled glasses. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Makes 2-3 servings.

Dragon Fruit & Coconut Ice Cream
2 cups dragon fruit (about 4 dragon fruit)
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine everything in a food processor and blend. Pour into an electric ice cream maker and process for about 30 minutes. Put into plastic containers and freeze for at least 3 hours. Makes 2 pints.

Mango Tango Ice Cream
Mango Tango Ice Cream
Click on photo to view larger
This is my favorite tropical ice cream recipe to date. I have made this many times for dinner parties with no complaints.

1 1/2 cups pureed fresh mango
2 whole eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 of a 15 fluid ounce can of coconut cream (shake can just before opening)
1, 14 fluid ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
fresh mango cut into small cubes for garnish (optional, but recommended)

In a food processor puree fresh mango. Add the rest of the ingredients except the garnish. Blend together and pour into your ice cream maker. Process until frozen to a soft consistency which should take about 1/2 hour. Freeze for several hours until solid. Serve with fresh mango cubes. Makes just over 2 pints, or 6 to 8 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.

Liliko'i-Pineapple Ice
2 cups fresh liliko'i juice (about 28 liliko'i)
1/4 cup fresh liliko'i seeds left whole (about 4 liliko'i)
2 cups pineapple pulp
3/4 cups sugar
2 egg whites

To juice the liliko'i remove all pulp from all the fruit. Place in blender and pulse for 5 to 10 seconds. Pour in a fine mesh strainer placed over a bowl and with the back of a spoon push the pulp around until you are left with just the seeds in the strainer. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. Pour the mixture into a metal or plastic bowl and freeze. When frozen, break up the ice and place a small amount at a time into the food processor. When whipped and frothy, return to the bowl and freeze again. This mixture will not freeze hard and solid, so it will be easy to scoop out to serve. Sprinkle a few of the reserved seeds over the top of the ice when it is served or they may be added when the ice is returned to the freezer for the second time. Makes about 5 cups.
Note: Liliko'i juice can be made in advance and frozen in ice trays then transferred to freezer bags for future use.

Liliko'i Ice Cream with Honey
This is a delicious recipe, creamy, tart with the sweetness of honey.

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cup fresh passion-fruit pulp (juice), seeds removed
Honey for serving

Special equipment: an ice cream maker

Place the cream, milk and 1/2 cup sugar into a large saucepan, whisk and then heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks and passion fruit together in a large mixing bowl until light and well combined.

Slowly add half of the milk mixture to the yolk mixture, whisking the entire time.

Slowly add the warmed yolk mixture into the remaining milk in the large saucepan.

Over very low heat, whisk until thickened and the mixture coats the back of a spoon; about 10 minutes. DO NOT STOP WHISKING or you will have scrambled eggs.

Place the custard mixture into a glass bowl, cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Next day, freeze according to your ice cream makers instructions. After churning the ice cream, place in a freezer proof container and freeze until ready to eat. 

Makes about 6 cups, enough for 8 servings. Serve with honey drizzled on top of each serving.

Rum Butter Dessert Sauce
I had to put this rum butter sauce in here. It's very easy to make and it really tastes good over vanilla or macadamia nut ice cream.

1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons dark rum

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and salt in medium bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add rum and beat until well blended. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Makes enough for 2 servings.

Starfruit-Lilikoi Sherbet
4 ripe starfruit
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 lilikoi (Hawaiian word for passion fruit)
1 cup whole milk
1 ripe starfruit sliced thinly for garnish

Chop 4 of the starfruit, put in food processor and puree. Strain the pureed fruit in a fine strainer to get all of the juice out of the starfruit without the pulp. Use a spoon to push the fruit through the strainer. Whisk in the sugar, orange zest and vanilla extract. Cut the fresh lilikoi in half and with a spoon, scoop out the juice and seeds and add both to the mixture. Add the milk, whisk, then place the mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn until frozen, about 1/2 hour. Scoop out the sherbet into a plastic container and continue freezing about 3 hours, or until hard. To serve, place one or two scoops of sherbet into 4 dessert glasses or martini glasses and garnish with a slice of starfruit. Makes 4 servings.

Mango Melon Freeze
3 cups chopped mangoes (peeled, pitted)
1 cup chopped cantaloupe
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup lime juice
a pinch of salt

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator for an hour, just enough time for the flavors to meld. Scrape the mango-melon mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. Serve in frozen martini glasses with a sprig of mint. Makes 8 servings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: Can be prepared 3 days in advance. Cover and keep frozen. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Fresh Mango with Sake Cream
1/2 cup sake2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
dash of salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 cups fresh mango slices
3 cups vanilla ice cream
1/3 cup sweetened coconut for garnish

To prepare sake cream, combine sake, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in cream. Gently stir in mango slices. Serve over ice cream and sprinkle with sweetened coconut. Makes 6 servings.

Avocado Honey Lime Ice Cream
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup pure honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lime zest
3 ripe avocados, pureed

Whisk together eggs, honey and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the half-and-half, buttermilk and lime zest to a full simmer. Once liquid begins to bubble, remove from the heat. Cover and let steep 2 hours. Once cream mixture has cooled, strain into another medium saucepan. Over low heat, bring to a simmer again. Temper the egg and honey mixture by adding the simmering cream to the mixture in a ladle a little bit at a time while whisking. Then, return the mixture to the saucepan. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat a spoon and the thermometer reads 170°F to 175°F, about 4 minutes (do not allow mixture to boil). Strain mixture into a clean bowl and allow the steam to escape. Cover and chill mixture until cold (at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day). Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add avocado purée halfway through freezing. Transfer to a bowl or tub and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days. Makes 4 servings.

Pear Sorbet with Red Wine
The flavor of the pears and wine mixed with a beautiful red color makes this an elegant frozen dessert.

2 1/2 pounds ripe Bosc pears
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups good Burgundy red wine
1 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Peel, core and quarter the pears. Place them in a medium saucepan with the sugar, red wine, water, cinnamon stick and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the pears are soft and translucent. This will take 15 to 20 minutes if the pears are ripe and soft to begin with, or about 30 minutes if they’re somewhat hard. Add the pepper. Using tongs, remove the pears to a bowl. Remove the cinnamon stick from the poaching liquid, and discard. Turn up the heat, and reduce until the mixture has the consistency of a thin syrup. Place the pears, in batches, in a blender, or place all of them in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Purée until smooth. Slowly add the poaching liquid and the lemon juice, and blend together. Transfer to a bowl, and chill. Meanwhile, place a 1-quart container in the freezer. Freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to the chilled container, and freeze for at least two hours before serving. If frozen solid, allow to soften in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Makes one quart, serving six.

Macadamia Nut Ice Cream 
with Caramel Sauce
Ingredients for caramel sauce:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup half-and-half (or light cream)
1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for vanilla ice cream base:
4 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups half-and-half (light cream)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped salted macadamia nuts

Procedure to make caramel sauce:
Pour sugar into small, heavy-bottomed pan. Place over medium heat and let sugar melt to make a dark brown liquid. Stir in butter adn half-and-half (mixture will sputter, so be careful). Stir over medium heat until mixture comes together as a sauce. Stir in salt. Remove from heat.

Procedure to make vanilla ice cream base:
In a heat-proof bowl, beat together egg yolks and salt. Set aside. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine sugar and half-and-half. Bring to a simmer. Pour about 1/2 cup of the mixture into egg mixture and beat. Return mixture to pan, and cook slowly over low heat until thickened to sauce consistency and it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Strain into bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

If Caramel Sauce is too thick to pour, microwave on low for 30 seconds.

Make ice cream according to manufacturer’s directions. While ice cream is soft but almost firm, drizzle in caramel sauce and nuts. Continue to churn ice cream just to mix ingredients. Remove from machine and freeze immediately for 2 hours before serving.

Brown Sugar-Ginger Ice Cream
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar - (packed)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Whisk yolks, both sugars and salt in medium bowl to blend. Bring cream and milk to simmer in medium saucepan. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolk mixture. Return to saucepan. Stir over medium-lowheat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil).

Transfer custard to medium bowl. Whisk in vanilla and ginger. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to covered container and freeze. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep frozen.) Makes 6 servings.

Jun 11, 2013

"Pigging Out" On Tropical PORK

Cooking Underground - The Hawaiian Imu
Click on photo to enlarge
From roast pork to ham hocks, pork is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide. Unfortunately pork has gotten a bad rap for many years, but recently scientists have given pork another look. 

First of all, ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has less fat than a chicken breast. When properly trimmed, pork contains far more unsaturated fat than saturated fat. Pork is naturally low in salt and a rich source of premium quality protein. A 100 gram (.22 pound) portion of pork provides you with about half of the protein you need for the entire day. It is also a good source of several life sustaining vitamins and necessary minerals including iron, zinc, as well as some of the B group vitamins, selenium and phosphorus. Pork also naturally contains "Conjugated Linoleic Acid" (CLA) which scientific tests show health benefits in the areas of cancer and heart health. Pork is a powerful, natural help in the bodies fight to avoid "Type 2 Diabetes" and help to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.

All of this is great news for pork lovers, but something to remember when cooking pork, the USDA recommends cooking ground pork to an internal temperature of 160˚F, followed by a 3 minute rest, and cooking pork steaks to a minimum internal temperature of 145˚F, also followed by a 3 minute rest. This kills off any parasites or bacteria that may be present. The bottom line is that pork tastes good, but it's nice that it can be good for you as well. Here are a few tropical pork recipes for you to pig out on:

Spiced Pork Ribs
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 cup of orange juice
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of black pepper
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of ground clove
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 rack pork spareribs, cut in half
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated

First preheat the oven to 350˚F. Mix together the brown sugar, ginger, cayenne, clove, cinnamon, paprika, oregano, pepper, salt, and lime zest; set aside. Next squeeze the limes and add the juice to the orange juice. rub ribs well with the spice mixture. Place into a glass baking dish, and pour in the juice. Cover the dish, then bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes. Now uncover and continue cooking until the ribs are nicely colored, about 20 minutes more. Brush the ribs with the pan juices a few times while they are cooking. Serve with rice. Makes 6 servings.

Lime-Garlic Pork Roast
5 pound pork loin roast
2 teaspoons sliced garlic
1/3 cup lime or orange juice
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Use a sharp knife to cut thin slits all over the pork roast, and into these slits rub or insert sliced garlic. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush lime juice on all parts of the roast, and sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper. In preheated 500˚F oven, sear the roast for 20 minutes fat side up. Then reduce oven heat to 350°F until pork is done to your taste, usually about one hour. Baste pork roast frequently with the lime juice or orange juice, starting when the heat is reduced, and being certain not to overcook the roast. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 150˚F with a meat thermometer. Allow to stand out of the oven, covered in foil, for 10 minutes, prior to carving. Makes 8 servings.

Filipino Oven Roasted Pork  (Lechon sa Hurno)
1 (3 to 5 pounds.) boneless shoulder picnic roast
Hawaiian or Kosher salt

Marinade Ingredients:
fresh sprigs of rosemary leaves
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Gravy Ingredients:
1/4 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon of flour
some olive oil and salt

Marinate pork for several hours. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove pork from marinade and pat dry. Rub generously with salt. Transfer to a roasting pan and bake 40 minutes per pound. Brush skin with some of the marinade every 1/2 hour, then with the fat drippings from the pan every 10 minutes during the last hour, making the skin crisp. Increase oven heat to 450˚F. Roast pork for about 20 to 30 minutes more or until golden brown. The skin should be crispy. Internal temperature reading should be 170˚F. Remove from the oven. Cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes. During this time prepare the gravy; put all the juices and marinade in a pot, add some water to the flour, stir to dissolve. Heat the juices in the pan. Stir in the flour mixture. As soon as it starts to thicken add the butter, stir. Slice pork and pour gravy over and serve. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Caribbean Roast Pork (Pernil)
1 7-pound pork shoulder picnic cut or butt roast (preferably boneless)
10 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
Adobo dry rub (enough to rub all over the roast, recipe below)

With a pointed knife, puncture 20 holes evenly around the roast, including the top, bottom and sides. Push the peeled garlic halves deeply into the holes. Rub adobo dry rub all over the roast and into the holes. Put plastic wrap over roast and refrigerate for 24 hours. Let the roast get back to room temperature before cooking (about 1 hour). Then place the roast, fat side up in a roasting pan with 2" sides (there will be a lot of grease), don't cover roast. Place seasoned roast in a 400˚F oven for 1 hour, then reduce temperature to 300˚F for about 4 hours or so, do not turn meat. The roast is finished when a meat thermometer, inserted in the thickest part of meat, reads 185˚F. Let roast rest uncovered for about 20-30 minutes before carving. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Note: leftover pernil is great used in tacos.

Adobo Dry Rub
Adobo dry rub is used to season meat, poultry and fish. You can customize the recipe by adjusting the ingredients based on the spices you prefer.

Adobo Dry Rub Ingredients:
6 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
6 tablespoons granulated garlic
4 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons onion powder

Dry Rub Procedure:
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of seasoning.

Braised Pork with Fresh Pineapple
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds pork butt, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 scallions (green and white parts), minced
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water
1 small pineapple, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with
2 tablespoons cold water

In a wok, heat the oil over high heat until just smoking. Add the pork in three batches and brown on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the ginger and scallions, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Return the pork to the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the orange zest, five-spice powder, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the pineapple chunks and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the meat is tender when pricked with a fork. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork and pineapple to a serving platter. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the pork and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Pan Fried Pork Chops with Fresh Apples
4 loin or rib pork chops
3 large firm, sweet apples, cored, peeled and sliced into 12 slices*
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup apple juice or cider
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Pan cook pork chops until barely done. Place on a platter in a warm oven. Add butter and brown sugar to pan used to cook pork chops and set over medium heat. Stir butter and sugar to blend well and to allow to caramelize slightly and to loosen small pieces of the pork chops. Add apple juice or cider and apple slices. Cook apples just until done, then remove with a slotted spoon and set apples aside. Reduce the pan juices to two to three tablespoons. Remove from heat and add vanilla, salt and pepper. Add apples slices and return to heat until the apples are hot. Pour over the pork chops. Serve with rice or potatoes.* Summer apples such as Gravenstein will work in this recipe; you may need to add a little extra sugar.

Note: This recipe can also be made with papaya, mango, peaches or nectarines. You will need less sugar and less juice as these fruits have lots of natural juices.

Stir-Fried Pork with Ginger and Napa Cabbage
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh ginger juice
2 tablespoons sake
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
3/4 cup napa cabbage, cut into small squares
2 inches fresh ginger, shredded
Combine soy sauce, ginger juice, sake, and sugar in a small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add pork and stir-fry until meat is partially cooked, about 1 minute. Remove pork from skillet and drain.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add cabbage and ginger and stir-fry until almost tender, about 2 minutes. Return pork to skillet with the sauce mixture, and stir-fry over high heat until pork is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve with rice. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Fruit Salad
and Sweet Ginger Dressing
The idea here is to create a bed of tropical fresh fruit and crisp lettuce of your choice, then top it off with slices of tender grilled pork tenderloin. A combination of island flavors served with aloha.

2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for spice rub:
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for sauce:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Tabasco

Ingredients for sweet ginger dressing:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Ingredients for fresh fruit salad:
a variety of your favorite lettuces, watercress, leaf lettuce, etc.
a selection of tropical fruit, mango, papaya, avocado, kiwi, pineapple, etc.

Prepare pork: Preheat grill. Coat pork tenderloins with olive oil. Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with spice rub.

Make glaze and grill pork: Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco. Grill tenderloin about 10-15 minutes on each side, brushing with sauce in the last 5 minutes. Watch it carefully, using an instant read thermometer, remove from the grill when the tenderloin registers 140°F. Cover the grilled pork and let it rest while you toss and compose the salad.

Procedure for salad dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, vinegar, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Serve over your favorite salad greens with fresh fruit. Makes 2 1/3 cups of dressing.

Assemble salad: Cut pork at a 45˚ angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Line a large platter with dressed fruit salad and arrange sliced pork in rows on top. Drizzle glaze over the pork. Serves 6-8.

Roast Pork Belly
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Roast Pork Belly
This is one of the fattier cuts of pork. Bacon is made from pork belly. Fortunately fat is flavor, and in this recipe, most of the fat melts away in the cooking process before the pork ever hits your mouth, leaving a piece of meat that is drenched in flavor. *I usually look for leaner cuts of pork belly with less fat.

1–3 to 4 pound piece of pork belly, skin on if possible and scored*
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

With a sharp knife, score across the skin, or fat if the skin has been remove, in a diamond or cross hatch pattern. By doing this, the fat works its way out, lubricating, bronzing and moisturizing everything in the pan. Place the soy sauce, garlic, fennel, coriander, thyme, salt, and pepper into a mortar and grind it using the pestle until a paste forms (you can do this in a blender). Spread the paste onto the pork skin, making sure you get into all the score marks. Cover with plastic and place in the fridge for 1 hour to marinate. Remove pork from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the pork, skin side up, on a rack, in a roasting pan and cook in the lower 1/3 of your oven for 30 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Lower the temperature to 400°F. Pour half a cup of water into the roasting pan and cook for 1 1/2 hours more or until the meat is tender. Serve in thick slices. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Watercress Soup with Pork Wontons
1 large bunch watercress, stems removed
8 ounces minced pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese wine or dry sherry
pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pints chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces ready-made wonton skins

Divide the watercress into two bunches. Chop one bunch finely and cut the other in 1 inch pieces. In a bowl, mix together the minced pork, finely chopped watercress, soy sauce. 1 teaspoon sesame oil, sugar, cooking wine, pepper and ginger. Beat well to combine throughly. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the middle of a ready-made wonton skin, gather up the corners to completely enclose the meat, then twist the top to close tightly. Continue until all the meat mixture is used up. In a deep saucepan, heat the chicken stock with the salt. In a separate pan, bring about 2 1/2 pints of water to a boil. When boiling, drop in the wontons. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain the wontons and place in a deep bowl. Line soup bowls with the remaining watercress. Put in the wontons. Pour on the chicken stock, sprinkle with the remaining sesame oil and serve hot. Makes 2 servings.

Tropical Pulled Pork Sliders
Ingredients for Pork:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 boneless pork butt or shoulder, fat cap scored (about 5 pounds)
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup bourbon (I use Maker's Mark, but whatever you like)

Ingredients for Pineapple Salsa:
1 pineapple, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

slider buns (small sweet dinner rolls - King's Hawaiian Bakery, 12 pack)
red cabbage, shredded

Mix together the brown sugar and spices in a small container. Generously rub the pork with the seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 2 hours or overnight, refrigerated. When ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 325˚F with the oven rack in the middle position. Remove the plastic wrap from the pork and place in a Dutch oven with a lid. Cover and place in the oven to roast for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, uncover and cook for another 45 minutes to brown the fat and cook until the pork registers 200˚F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.

Make the sauce by adding the vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper, salt, and garlic cloves to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat. Add the rum and set aside. Shred the pork with two forks. Right before you serve the pork, toss with the sauce, remove the garlic cloves.

While the pork is cooking, make the pineapple salsa. Mix all of the ingredients together and set aside. Check for seasoning, adding more salt as needed. To make the sandwiches, layer red cabbage, pork, and pineapple salsa on a slider bun. Serve with chips. Makes about 12 sandwiches.