Aug 30, 2014

Black Wood Ear Mushrooms

Black Wood Ear Mushrooms
Click on photo to view larger
Black Wood Ear mushrooms got their name because they look like ears growing out of oak, yang, and scholar trees in China. They have numerous aliases including black fungus, tree ear, and Judas' ear.

Most people in the United States haven't tried these little dried mushrooms because they are lost in the Asian section of our grocery stores (see package photo below, sometimes called Chinese Black Fungus). Because of an increase in population of Asian communities in the U.S., Wood Ear mushrooms can now be found both fresh and dried. When they are fresh, they are thick and smooth-skinned, but when dried and re-hydrated in warm water, they become more crunchy, but retaining their black ear-like appearance.

I first started using these little black mushrooms in hot & sour soup (see recipe below), one of my favorite Chinese soups. They added a nice contrast in color and texture to a soup, a soup that is already full of many other Asian ingredients.

I like cooking with black Wood Ear mushrooms for a couple of reasons, they have an unusual black contrasting color, a nice crunchy texture, and they are good for you. Wood Ear mushrooms have long been used for their medicinal benefits. They are used in Oriental medicine to prevent heart disease. They also contain anticoagulant substances that act like blood thinners creating effects similar to that of aspirin.
Dried Black Mushrooms
$1.25 at Misakis
and Friendly Market

Click on phototo view larger

The truth is that this little mushroom is nearly void of flavor, but mushrooms are like little sponges that take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with. Wood Ear mushrooms may be marinated, sautéed, braised, baked or roasted. Add to soups, stews, risotto, and grilled meats. Pair Wood Ear mushrooms with other wild mushrooms, mild cheeses, fresh pastas like stroganoff, or steamed vegetables. Cook them for only a short time. In fact, if allowed to stand with food for any length of time, these mushrooms lose their firmness. For soups, stir-fried dishes, or salads, add these mushrooms as the last stage of food preparation. 

To store any kind of fresh mushrooms, place in paper bag or between paper towels; refrigerate. Do not store in plastic. Use within two to three days for optimum quality.

When using dried Wood Ear mushrooms, you will have to soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes to re-hydrate them, but do it in a large bowl with lots of water because they will more than double in size. Some of them get so large that I have to cut them into bite-sized pieces, or cut them into thin strips. Be adventuresome, go out and buy a little package of dried Wood Ear mushrooms, and give one of these recipes a try. Who knows, you might find another creative way to use them.

Wood Ear Mushroom Salad
This is a simple Sichuan Chinese salad made with marinated Wood Ear Mushrooms, carrots, red bell peppers, green onion or cilantro, and for a little optional spice, chili oil. This salad would be wonderful served with hot and sour soup.

Ingredients:
.5 ounce bag of dried Wood Ear mushrooms (makes about 2 cups of re-hydrated mushrooms)
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced to 1/4 inch
12 thin slices from a large carrot, cut into flower shapes or matchsticks
1/3 cup of thinly sliced green onion or cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Ingredients for the marinade:
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons Tamari sauce
3 teaspoons sesame oil
5 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
5 drops of Asian chili oil, or to taste (optional)

Procedure:
Soak dried Wood Ear mushrooms in a medium bowl of warm water for 30 minutes. Then remove and rinse under clean water, drain.

Bring water to boil in a large pot and add the mushrooms and carrot slices. Cook for 4 minutes. Drain the water, then rinse in cold water. Put mushrooms and carrots in a bowl, set aside to cool.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Add the Wood Ear mushrooms, carrot slices, and red bell pepper and gently mix together, refrigerate. When ready to serve, mix in the sliced green onion or cilantro leaves and garnished each serving with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 4 small servings.

Hot & Sour Soup
This is one of my favorite soup recipes. I would like to suggest that you make this soup a day ahead of time to let the flavors meld, then heat and serve. If you can't wait, go for it!

Ingredients:
1/2 pound boneless pork, or chicken, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon red chile paste, such as sambal oelek, or Sriracha* 
8 dried lily buds*
4 dried Chinese dried Wood Ear mushrooms*
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup canned sliced bamboo shoots*
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks (julienne)
8 ounce square of firm tofu, drained and sliced in 1/4-inch strips
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil*
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion (to garnish)

*Available at Asian food markets, or in the Asian section of your supermarket.

Procedure:
Cut pork or chicken into 1-inch thin strips. Sprinkle strips with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon chili paste. Meanwhile, in three bowls soak lily buds, and Wood Ear mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms, in enough warm water to cover for 30 minutes, then drain. Cut off and discard tough stem end of lily buds and shiitake mushrooms. Slice each lily bud into 1-inch lengths. Throughly rinse Wood Ears and shiitake mushrooms under running water; drain well. Cut off and discard mushroom and Wood Ear stems. Cut mushrooms and Wood Ears into thin strips.

In a wok bring chicken broth to boiling; stir in pork, the remaining soy sauce, lily buds, mushrooms, Wood Ears, bamboo shoots, ginger, vinegar, pepper, garlic, and carrot sticks. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add tofu strips to soup. Simmer, covered, 3 minutes more. Blend cold water into cornstarch. Stir into soup with sesame oil. Pour eggs slowly into hot soup in a thin stream, beating constantly with fork till egg cooks and shreds finely. Cook soup till slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Serve with thinly sliced green onions. Makes 6 to 8 first course servings.

Crispy Shrimp Tempura with 
Edamame-Wood Ear Mushroom Salad
Ingredients for salad:
1/4 cup (.5 ounces) dried Chinese Wood Ear mushrooms (also called black fungus)
1/2 cup shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Tamari sauce, or soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Ingredients for shrimp tempura:
8 jumbo shrimps, peeled and deveined (with a knife, make 3 small slices on the bottom of each shrimp to keep them from curling while cooking)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sparkling water (club soda)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cups canola oil for deep-frying

Procedure:
Soak dried mushrooms in plenty of warm water for about 30 minutes or until soft, then drain (they will more than double in size, so use a bowl that will accommodate that). Boil water in a large pot with a teaspoon of salt. Add the mushrooms and edamame and blanch for 3 or 4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Make the marinade by combining salt, Tamari sauce, sesame oil, seasoned rice vinegar, and mirin, in a medium bowl. Add the mushrooms. Chop most of the edamame, leaving a few whole for garnish. Add the chopped edamame beans to the marinade. Stir to coat everything with the marinade, then let sit in the refrigerator to chill, while you fry the shrimp. When ready to serve, garnish the top of each salad with whole edamame and toasted sesame seeds.

In a wok or large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer, inserted in the oil, reaches 375˚F. While the oil is heating, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the club soda and sesame oil. Stir until just combined and still lumpy. Dip the shrimp in the batter and fry, 3 or 4 at a time, turning the shrimp until the batter is golden and crispy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve tempura shrimp with a sweet chili dipping sauce like Mae Ploy brand, or (see recipe index under sauces) with the marinated mushroom salad on the side.

Note: If you like, add a splash of Hawaiian chile pepper water or hot sauce to the mushroom marinade instead of the mirin, for a spicier salad. Serve with a bowl of Jasmine rice, cold beer, or hot tea. Makes 2 servings.

Stir Fried Kabocha Squash
Chicken & Wood Ear Mushrooms
Kabocha Squash
Kabocha squash is a Japanese pumpkin with dark green skin and a sweet orange colored flesh. It is wonderful in soups, stir fries, or cooked with rice. It's sort of like sweet potatoes, but more of a squash texture. This recipe is easy to make and is a real Asian comfort food.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of canola oil
2 cloves of garlic - crushed and chopped fine
2 chicken thighs, skinned, debone and cut into thin strips
2 cups of peeled and diced Kabocha squash cut into 1/2" X 1/2 cubes
3 or 4 big pieces of Wood Ear mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in warm water, then and cut into strips

Ingredients for chicken marinade:
1/2 tablespoon of oyster sauce
a dash of ground white pepper
1 tablespoon of chinese cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon of corn starch

Ingredients for thickening:
1 teaspoon of corn starch
3 tablespoons of water

Procedure:
Marinate the chicken for about 10 minutes. Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a wok or large skillet, when the oil is hot, add in the chopped garlic and the marinated chicken. Stir fry until half cooked, about 4 minutes. Add in the pumpkin cubes and Wood Ear mushrooms and continue to stir fry for a few minutes. Add in 1/4 cup of water and slowly simmer till the pumpkin and chicken are cooked through. Add in the corn starch mixture, and when it thickens, taste for seasoning. Add a little salt to taste if desired. Turn off the heat and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Pork with Eggs and Mushrooms
Ingredients:
1/2 cup dried Chinese Wood Ear mushrooms
6-8 ounces pork fillet
1 head bok choy
1/2 cup drained bamboo shoots
2 scallions
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
few drops of sesame oil

Procedure:
Rinse the mushrooms thoroughly in cold water and then soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly again and discard the hard stalks, if any. Dry the mushrooms and shred thinly. Cut the pork fillet into matchstick-size shreds and set to one side. Thinly shred the bok choy, bamboo shoots and scallions. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Heat a little oil in a wok, add the eggs and lightly scramble, but do not make too dry. Remove from the wok. Heat the remaining oil in the wok and stir-fry the pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the vegetables to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the remaining salt, the soy sauce and wine. Stir for 1 more minute before adding the scrambled eggs. Break up the eggs and blend well. Sprinkle with sesame oil and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Stir-fry with Wood Ear Mushrooms
and Chinese Long Beans

Ingredients:
1 cup of fresh Chinese long beans cut 3 inches long
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 inches ginger (peeled and cut into thin strips)
4 skinless & boneless chicken thighs (cut into thin strips)
1 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Tamari sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fermented soy beans
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
8 to 10 pieces dried Wood Ear mushrooms (softened in warm water for 30 minutes)
3 green onions (cut into 1 inch length)

Procedure:
Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling. Blanch the long beans for 3 minutes or until just tender, then remove and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the canola oil and stir fry the ginger strips until aromatic. Now Stir-fry the chicken for 4 minutes, then add in oyster sauce, Tamari sauce, fermented soy beans, sugar, garlic, and water. Stir all ingredients together. Add the mushrooms, long beans and green onions, stir-fry for 2 or 3 minutes. Serve with, or on top of steamed Jasmine rice. Makes 4 servings.

Black Wood Ear Mushroom Stir-fry
with Shrimp
Ingredients:
1 ounce dried black wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated
2 tablespoons each of sesame and peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 green onion, sliced
2 carrots, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup each green peas and bamboo shoots
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce

Procedure:
Rinse the mushrooms thoroughly in cold water and then soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Dry the mushrooms and cut them thinly into strips. Heat sesame and peanut oils. Add garlic and ginger, stir over medium heat. Add shrimp, black wood ear mushrooms and green onion. Remove mixture when shrimp are opaque. Add the carrots, bamboo shoots, green peas and stir for a minute. Add wine, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Return shrimp mixture and heat through. Serve with bok choy with oyster sauce, and white rice. Makes 4 servings.


Aug 27, 2014

Are You A DARK CHOCOLATE LOVER?

Dark Chocolate Brownies, Hawaiian-style!
Click on photo to view larger
My wife and I agree on most things, but when it comes to chocolate we don't agree at all. She likes milk chocolate and I love dark chocolate. It doesn't matter if you live on an island in Hawaii or in Lubec Maine, I know that there are a lot of people out there that feel the same way, so here are a few dark chocolate morsels for you to try.


Dark Chocolate Brownies Hawaiian-style!
Everyone loves brownies, but you don't need to buy the boxed kind when you can make these easy brownies from scratch. I have added coconut and macadamia nuts to make them even more decadent and delicious. These brownies are very rich, so I would advise cutting them into small pieces, nahh, it's ok, eat a big piece. 

Ingredients:
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Butter a 9x13 baking pan and line the bottom with buttered parchment paper.

Place butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until everything is just melted (about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, sugars, and vanilla. Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. Stir in coconut and macadamias and pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the brownies are shiny and are beginning to crack on top. Cool completely in pan, on rack, before cutting. Serve with a big glass of milk, or a small glass of Maker's Mark bourbon on the rocks. Makes 16 large or 24 small brownies.

Cooks Note: If using salted butter, cut the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. I have found that these brownies are better if they sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. They harden up, and their flavors have a chance to meld.

Dark Chocolate-Coconut Buttercream Bars
If you are like me, you are hooked already. Sort of like finding out the secret to making Mounds Bars, dark chocolate, covered in creamy coconut buttercream.

Ingredients:
2/3 pound of 70% dark chocolate, crushed
3/4 cup icing sugar 
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk 
3 1/3 cups grated coconut

Procedure:
Melt gently the chocolate in a double boiler. Pour melted chocolate in a small square or rectangular pan (lined with parchment paper) and let set in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile combine softened butter and sugar. Add the condensed milk and coconut and mix well. Spread the coconut mixture over the chocolate. Make an even layer using a spatula or frosting knife and place the dish back into the fridge for a minimum of 5 hours. 5. When ready to serve, gently lift the chocolate bar off the pan using a spatula or knife, place on a large cutting board, and slice with your biggest and sharpest knife. Makes as many as you want to cut.

Dark Chocolate Hula Cake
This is a beautiful one layer dark chocolate cake that is laced with nuts. You could use pecans or walnuts, but if you want a more Hawaiian cake, use crushed macadamia nuts, then this cake will make you want to get up and do the hula.

Ingredients for the cake:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup ground macadamia nuts (measure them after grinding, not before)

Ingredients for the icing:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
a few tablespoons buttermilk, as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla
ground macadamia nuts for garnish

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.

Melt the chocolate on the defrost setting, or 50% power of your microwave. (Or over a bowl of simmering water). Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a small bowl along with the ground macadamia nuts. Cream the butter using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla, then melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended after each addition. Spread the batter into the pan and bake until a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack.

For the icing, melt the chocolate as above and set aside. In a large bowl cream the butter and add in the sugar and cocoa powder, beating until smooth. Beat in 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and the vanilla. Beat in the melted chocolate. Thin with buttermilk if it’s too stiff to spread nicely. This makes enough frosting to cover the cake with a thick layer. Sprinkle the top of the icing with ground macadamia nuts. Makes 6 servings.

Dark Chocolate-Ginger Bundt Cake
with Bourbon Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bourbon Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup good-quality bourbon (I use Maker's Mark brand)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Butter a 9-inch Bundt pan. Dust with cocoa powder, and tap out excess; set aside. Put butter, molasses, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter has melted. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Let cool 5 minutes.

Add eggs, milk, and grated ginger to the molasses mixture; whisk to combine. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until just combined. (There should be lumps remaining.) Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

To make the bourbon sauce, put butter, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture registers 160˚F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes. Makes 1 1/4 cups of sauce.

When the cake is cool, invert, and un-mold onto a cake stand or a large serving platter. Using a spoon, drizzle the warm bourbon sauce over the cake in a back-and-forth motion. Serve immediately. Makes 10 servings.

Dark Chocolate Expresso Pie
OMG, this pie is to die for if you are a dark chocolate lover like me. Plus you get that hit of espresso in the ganache center topped off with a glossy pool of more dark chocolate that makes this recipe killer.

Ingredients for the crust:
I cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs (I used Nabisco's Famous Wafers, chocolate graham crackers, or any plain chocolate cookie)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Ingredients for the filling:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons espresso powder (instant espresso)
10 ounce bag of good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the glaze:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon warm water

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine the crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Stir until all the crumbs are moistened and everything is well combined. Press evenly into a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. (You can also use a 9" pie pan) Cover the bottom and up the sides, using your hands to smooth and pack it firmly. Bake for about 10 minutes, then cool on a rack for about 20 minutes.

To make the filling, bring the cream just to a boil, take off the heat and stir in the espresso powder. Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Stir together until smooth. Combine the eggs, salt and vanilla in another small bowl, and then add to the chocolate. Stir until completely combined. Pour the filling into the cool crust. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the filling is set along the edges but still a bit loose in the very center. The filling will firm as it cools.
Cool the tart on a rack for an hour.

To make the glaze, bring the cream just to a boil (I did this in the microwave) and add the chocolate. Stir until completely smooth. Add in the corn syrup and the warm water and stir again until smooth and glossy. Pour over the tart, swirling it around so it coats the top evenly. Let set for an hour before cutting. If you refrigerate the tart, let it sit out a bit before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Note: You can top each slice with sweetened whipped cream if you like, but I like it just plain.

Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
This easy-to-make recipe is perfect for the holidays, served after a meal with a cup of coffee. A lot of people give cookies as gifts, but I give these to myself.

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Cream the butter, cocoa powder and sugar together until completely combined and smooth. Add in the vanilla. Mix in the flour, and finish with a wooden spoon. Don't over mix.
Stir in the chocolate chips and turn the dough out onto a board and form into an smooth 8" log. The dough will be sticky.

Wrap it in waxed or parchment paper and twist both ends to secure, shaping the log as you roll. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. You can also freeze the dough for later use. 

Slice the log into 1/3" slices with a sharp knife. Put on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. They will feel slightly soft, don't over bake them. Cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer to a rack. If you're going to give them away make sure they are completely cool before you package them. Makes 12 cookies.

Dark Chocolate Gelato
You will need an ice-cream maker to make this rich dark chocolate gelato.

Ingredients:
2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup minus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg yolks

Procedure:
Coarsely chop chocolate. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan bring milk, cream, and about half of sugar just to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add cocoa powder and chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale. Add hot chocolate mixture in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into saucepan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let boil.) Pour custard through a sieve into a metal bowl set in ice and cold water and cool. Chill custard, covered, until cold.

Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, 1 to 3 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels
Ingredients:
1 large navel orange
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Procedure:
Using a vegetable peeler, cut the orange part of the peel from the stem end of the orange down to the navel end, forming long 3/4 to 1-inch-wide strips. Bring a heavy small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the peels and cook for 1 minute. Drain and then rinse the peels under cold water. Repeat cooking the peels in the saucepan with fresh boiling water and rinsing under cold water.

Stir the sugar and 1/2 cup of fresh water in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Add the orange peels and simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the peels to a sheet of parchment paper to dry slightly, about 1 hour.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the chocolate in a small bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Dip 1 1/2-inches of each candied orange peel into the chocolate then place them on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 15 minutes. Makes 12 pieces.

Chocolate Lover's Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup honey
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
zest from one large orange

Procedure:
Place first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and orange zest. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 2 cups.

For even more chocolate recipes, click here.

Aug 21, 2014

Recipes, Windows Into The Culinary Mind

Recipe for flank steak marinade
Click on photo to view larger
Written on scraps of paper, shoved into a drawer only to be resurrected later at the whim of the household cook. To me, a recipe is a fingerprint, a window into the culinary mind. It secretly tells something private about the person who wrote it. 

My mother was a great cook. She entertained a lot, so our refrigerator was always full of bottles of the latest nibbles and bits for her next party. She would often bring out an old recipe of her mothers, hand written on a scrap of paper, a recipe that obviously my mother loved and saved for years after her mother passed away.

I have written hundreds of recipes over the years, and usually start out by writing down what I think might be the right combination of ingredients to eventually make a delicious meal. I usually tape it to my kitchen cabinet, then test it, and usually by adding or subtracting ingredients and amounts come up with what I had hoped for. Ideas for recipes can come from many places, cooking shows, cookbooks, or just seeing a food item in the grocery store, like a flank steak.

In the olden days, thirty years ago, flank steak was one of the cheapest cuts of meat because it was tough. People bought it anyway because it had a great flavor, and it was dirt cheap. Naturally it became popular and now is harder to find, expensive, but guess what, it's still tough

The flank steak is a beef steak cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. A relatively long and flat cut, flank steak is used in a variety of dishes including London broil and as an alternative to the traditional skirtsteak in fajitas. It can be grilled, pan-fried, broiled, or braised for increased tenderness.

Yesterday I was in the meat department at Friendly Market, here on Moloka'i, when the meat cart came out of the back room to replenish the meat display case. I love it when that happens because I can be the first person to grab the freshest cuts. Naturally when I saw only one flank steak on the cart, I grabbed it, why, because they hardly ever sell it there. The last time I bought flank steak, I had to drive out to our local livestock CO-OP in Hoolehua, you know, the slaughter house on Maunaloa Highway (give them a call at 567-6994 for prices, and to find out their hours).

To me the best way to cook flank steak is on the grill, but it has to be marinated first for at least 8 to 12 hours, to help tenderize it. After it comes off the grill, it has to be cut thin across the grain with a sharp knife, then the toughness is not so much of an issue.

Being a carnivore, right now my mouth is watering. I can't wait to get this baby marinated and on the grill. Stay hungry my friends, and keep trying my recipes. Feel free to change them to make them your own. 

Grilled Flank Steak with Sides
Marinating Flank Steak
Click on photo to view larger
Ingredients:
1– 2 pound flank steak ($5.99 lb. at Friendly Market)

Marinade ingredients:
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 fresh bay leaves
1⁄2 cup red wine (I use burgundy)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stem removed and leaves chopped
1⁄2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or Kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
It's very important to trim any silver skin and unwanted fat and gristle from the flank steak, then with a sharp knife, score the meat on the diagonal on both sides, making cuts in both directions to form a diamond pattern. Next, place the meat in a shallow baking dish or I like to use a Zip-loc freezer bag. Add the marinade ingredients, close bag and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for at least 8 hours, and 12 is even better.

An hour before grilling, transfer steak to a plate and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; set aside so steak comes to room temperature. Transfer marinade to a small pot and bring just to a boil; set aside.

Build a medium-hot charcoal fire in your grill. Grill steak, turning only once until browned and medium rare, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve steak into thin slices, with a sharp knife, on the bias and serve with reduced marinade any accumulated juices. Makes 4 servings.
Note: If you have leftovers, try this recipe for "Steak Pita Pockets with Dill Yogurt Sauce".

Sides:
1. Whole wheat pita bread, heated in the oven, then sliced or torn in half, and served with lots of butter. Friendly Market carries pita bread, but it's not in the bread section, but rather in the frozen food section at the back of the store in the right hand corner. They are a wonderful thing!
2. Bacon Potato Salad – Click here for recipe
3. Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce – Click here for recipe

Aug 20, 2014

Forget TURKEY This Thanksgiving!

Honey Glazed Roast Duck
frozen duck from Misaki's (recipe below)
Click on photo to view larger
I know, it's still August and I'm planning for my Thanksgiving dinner already. This year I'm doing away with the turkey. Naturally you think everyone wants turkey for Thanksgiving, but those of you who either don't like turkey, or want to be a little more creative this year might be interested in a few fresh recipe ideas. 

Moloka'i is a special place, and as all of us know who live here, holiday ingredients are not always available when you want them... so lets plan ahead this year. I have put together a few special recipes for this Thanksgiving that are not in your usual repertoire of turkey and gravy. We all love living here, so this year let's make this Thanksgiving meal a feast to remember.

PS – If you must have turkey this Thanksgiving, here's a simple recipe from last year's post, Click Here.

This Thanksgiving's Menu Choices:

Oysters on the Half Shell 
with Passion Fruit Mignonette Sauce
Mignonette sauce is a condiment usually made with minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar. It is traditionally served with raw oysters, and is a perfect pupu for the Thanksgiving feast.

Ingredients:
1 lemon, juice only
1 lime, juice only
1/2 cup olive oil
2 passion fruit, cut in half, pulp scraped out with seeds
3 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
36 oysters on the half shell
crushed ice for presentation
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve

Procedure:
Place all the ingredients, except the oysters, lime wedges and ice, into a small bowl and mix well, cover and refrigerate. Carefully open the oysters using an oyster shucker by loosening the muscle from bottom shell, removing top shell. Arrange oysters on a large, deep serving plate filled with crushed ice. To serve, spoon a teaspoon of the passion fruit mignonette sauce over each oyster and garnish with lime wedges. Makes 6 servings of 6 oysters.

Lomi Lomi Salmon Lettuce Wraps
Lomi lomi in Hawaiian means to rub, massage, or kneed. In this case raw salmon is cured with salt, then the rest of the ingredients are added along with lettuce leaves for serving as a delicious Thanksgiving island pupu.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup coarse sea salt
8 ounce salmon fillet
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 cup diced tomato
16 butter lettuce leaves

Procedure:
Place salt and fish in a large zip-top plastic bag; shake bag to coat fish evenly. Chill 8 hours or overnight. Remove fish from bag; rinse well. Soak fish in ice water 2 hours, changing water every 30 minutes. Drain well. Pat fish dry with paper towels. Dice fish; place in a large bowl. Set aside.

Soak white onion in ice water 15 minutes. Drain well. Add diced onion, green onions, and diced tomato to fish; toss gently to combine. Spoon about 3 tablespoons fish mixture into each lettuce leaf. Makes 4 servings.

Liliko'i Shrimp Salsa
Ingredients:
1 ripe liliko'i (passion fruit), halved
8 medium sized shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 large Roma tomato, peeled, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons finely diced scallion (including green parts)
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
Scoop the seeds and pulp from the liliko'i with a spoon, and press it through a fine-mesh sieve. Reserve the juice (about 1 tablespoon) and discard the seeds and pulp. Put the shrimp in a small bowl, and toss with the olive oil to coat. Set a dry stainless-steel sautée pan over high heat and, when hot, add the shrimp. Sear, turning often until evenly pink, about one minute. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl, and add the reserved passion fruit juice, onion, tomato, scallion, cilantro, Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate.

Serve salsa in two ripe avocado halves as an appetizer, or spoon over your favorite sauteed fish, letting the juices from the salsa run onto the plates. Makes 2 servings.

Honey Glazed Roast Duck
If you haven't cooked duck before, you will find that there isn't much meat on it except for the breast meat and drum bones. This recipe is quite simple, and the honey glaze marries really well with the rich dark meat of the duck (see photo above). Misaki's always carries whole frozen duck. Buy them now and keep them in your freezer for Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:
1 (5 to 6-pound*) duck (available at Misaki's grocery store here on Moloka'i)
2 cups boiling-hot water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Ingredients for honey glaze:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce, or to your taste

Procedure:
Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 425˚F. Tuck wing tips under bird (see photo above). Remove excess fat from body cavity and neck, then rinse duck. Score skin with knife, in a criss-cross pattern, then prick skin all over with a sharp fork. Rub duck with salt, pepper and ground ginger. Fold neck skin under body, then put duck, breast side up, on a rack in a 13 x 9 x 3-inch roasting pan. Pour boiling water into pan. Roast duck, 40 minutes, then remove from oven. Turn duck over using 2 wooden spoons, and roast 40 minutes more.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, combine and simmer glaze, stirring until it gets thick and syrupy. Turn duck over again (breast side up), tilting duck to drain any liquid from cavity into pan. Glaze duck all over (top and bottom) and continue to roast duck until it is a beautiful mahogany color, about 20 minutes more. (total roasting time: about 1 hour and 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180˚F). Tilt duck to drain any more liquid from cavity into pan. Transfer duck to a cutting board, cover with foil, and let rest 15 minutes before carving. Discard liquid in roasting pan. Serve duck with a mixture of wild and brown rice, sautéed beet greens, and a nice red wine like pinot noir. Makes 4 servings.

*Note: Allow at least 1 pound of duck per person, as there is a rather large ratio of fat and bone to meat.

Venison Kabobs
There's plenty of venison on Moloka'i but it can be hard to come by unless you are a hunter, or know one. If you are or do, put away a couple of tenderloins for Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves
8 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1-2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons salt
1 pound venison kabob meat (tenderloin, shoulder, whatever you have, but the more tender the cut the better.)

Procedure:
Place the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and salt in a jar and shake until well mixed. Cut the venison into 2-inch cubes and marinate in the sauce for 1/2 hour. Thread meat onto skewers. Lightly coat a grill with nonstick cooking spray, heat, and grill the venison until done, about 6 minutes total. Makes 4 servings.

Whole Roasted Opakapaka with Salsa Verde
If you are a fisherman, or know one who catches our wonderful opakapaka off of Moloka'i, then you should try this delicious recipe for Thanksgiving. If you aren't or don't, then order one from PJ at Friendly Market.

Ingredients:
2 bunches cilantro
2 bunches scallions
2 jalapeño peppers
1/4 cup drained capers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 limes
1/2 cup plus 8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
4 whole fish, like opakapaka, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each, cleaned, head on or off
3 teaspoons coarse kosher salt.

Procedure:
To make the salsa: Coarsely chop 2/3 cup of cilantro leaves and transfer to a bowl. Thinly slice 2/3 cup of the dark green scallion tops and add to the bowl, reserving the bottoms. Seed and finely chop one of the jalapeños and add it to the bowl. Stir in the capers and garlic. Finely grate in the zest of 1 lime and squeeze in its juice. Stir in 1/2 cup oil. Season with black pepper. Cover and let stand until ready to use.

To make the fish: Heat the oven to 450˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Pat each fish dry and coat with 2 teaspoons oil. Generously season the outside and cavity of each fish with the salt and black pepper. Transfer fish to the prepared baking sheet. Thinly slice the remaining 2 limes and seed and slice the other jalapeño pepper. Divide the lime slices, jalapeño slices, remaining cilantro sprigs and scallion bottoms among each fish cavity. Bake until fish is just opaque and flakes when pressed gently with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve fish with salsa verde on top or alongside. Makes 4 servings.

Baked Mahi-mahi with Dill Sauce
Ingredients:
2 mahi-mahi steaks
1 tablespoon canola Oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon Juice
salt
white pepper

Dill Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper; to taste

Procedure:
Combine sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, and hot sauce. Stir in dill then add salt and pepper to taste. Blend well. Allow to stand at least 1/2 hour to blend flavors. Pat mahi-mahi steaks dry with paper towels. Combine oil and lemon juice and brush on both sides of steaks. Season lightly with salt and white pepper. Place an inch apart in a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 450˚F for approximately 15 minutes. Serve mahi-mahi steaks with dill sauce over steaks sprinkled with a dash of fresh dill atop each. Makes 2 servings.

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

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

Portuguese Sausage Stuffing
This stuffing is great with turkey, chicken, duck, whatever.

Ingredients:
1/4 pound thick-sliced slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 pound chourico, linguica, or dry-cured smoked Spanish chorizo, roughly chopped
Olive oil, if needed

2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2/3 cup dry white wine (a friend of mine prefers a red port, Sandeman Founders Reserve)

3 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons tomato paste
12 cups 3/4-inch cubes of day-old rustic bread

About 3 cups chicken stock
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Turkey giblets (see note below)

Procedure:
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the meaty bits are crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Pour off all but a thin film of fat from the pot into a cup and reserve. Turn heat to medium-high, add the sausage, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat, adding it to the bacon fat. If the pan is dry, add 2 tablespoons of oil.

Lower the heat to medium, add the onions and mushrooms and cook until soft, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more. Splash in the wine, add the paprika and tomato paste, scrape up any stuck-on bits, then simmer for a few minutes.

Turn the heat to low, add the bread and the reserved bacon and sausage fats, then gradually pour in just enough of the chicken stock to make the mixture moist. If you use all the liquid and the pot is still dry, add a little juice from the olive jar as necessary. Fold in the bacon, and sausage. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Scoop the dressing into a bowl and sprinkle with the eggs, olives and parsley. Makes 8 servings.

Note: If you have, and like turkey giblets, cook them with the chicken stock, chop them up, and add them to the stuffing. Personally I love giblets, but my wife doesn't, so one year we will make it with and the next without. Enjoy!

Garlic Ginger Rice
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ounce fresh root ginger, finely chopped
1 cup Jasmine rice, rinsed 3 times in water and drained
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh basil and mint, finely chopped 
(Note: Kumu Farms almost always has these fresh herbs)

Procedure:
Heat the oil in a wok or heavy pan. Stir in the garlic and ginger and fry until golden. Stir in the rice and allow it to absorb the flavors for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the stock and stir to make sure the rice doesn't stick. Bring the stock to the boil, then reduce the heat. Sprinkle the cilantro over the surface of the stock with the finely chopped basil and mint. Cover the pan, and leave to cook gently for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Turn off the heat and gently fluff up the rice to mix in the herbs. Cover and leave to infuse for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.

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

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

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

Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese
This is one of my favorite potato recipes, and yes it uses canned cream of chicken soup... but it's GOOD, and EASY!

Ingredients:
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup undiluted
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 medium onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup Ritz crackers (about 18 crackers)

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, stir together the soup and cheese. With a large spoon, fold in the potatoes and onions until thoroughly coated. Scrape into the prepared baking dish, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake until the potatoes are tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the foil. Sprinkle the top with the cracker crumbs. Bake until the top is golden brown, another 5 to 10 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

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

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

Swiss Chard with Pumpkin Seeds 
and Golden Raisins
Ingredients:
2 pounds swiss chard, stem ends trimmed
1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Procedure:
Place the chard on your cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut out the colorful stems from the leaves. Slice the stems crosswise into ¼-inch pieces and place them in a bowl. Working in batches, stack the greens, roll them into a thick cigar shape and slice them crosswise into ¼-inch-wide ribbons.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, toasty-brown, and plump, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a small plate to cool and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chard stems and cook until they're starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the greens and cook, stirring often, until they begin to wilt, about 4 minutes longer. Stir in the raisins and turn off the heat. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and turn the greens out onto a serving platter. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Fresh Green Beans Roasted with
Mushrooms and Sweet Red Bell Pepper

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh green beans or Asian long beans cut 3" long
6 cloves garlic, rough cut
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet red bell pepper
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Procedure:
Toss green beans with garlic, mushrooms, red bell pepper, 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Put on a baking sheet, making sure to spread everything out in a single layer). Roast at 450˚F until the beans are tender and slightly charred, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Note: Sometimes you can find oyster mushrooms at our Moloka'i Farmers Market, if you can't use regular button mushrooms.

Snow Peas & Tomatoes
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon sugar
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Procedure:
Cook first four ingredients over medium high heat for 2 minutes in a skillet or until liquid evaporates. Then add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are heated thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately as a side dish. Makes 2 servings.

Spinach Gratin
Ingredients:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
2 pounds spinach, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 375˚F and butter a gratin dish. Sauté the onion in the olive oil for five minutes in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and continue sautéing the mixture for 30 seconds. Add the salt, pepper, dried thyme, and spinach to the pan and stir until the ingredients are combined. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to low. Allow the spinach to wilt for 3 minutes. Stir the milk and heavy cream into the spinach mixture and turn it out into the buttered gratin dish. Stir together the melted butter, bread crumbs, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and sprinkle the bread crumbs over the gratin. Bake the spinach gratin in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is hot and bubbly, and the bread crumbs have turned golden brown. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Fruit Salad
with Sweet Ginger Dressing

Fruit salad is a good way to refresh your palette while eating a big Thanksgiving meal. Moloka'i has lots of fresh fruit to choose from.

Ingredients for salad:
a mixture of sliced fresh fruit (mango, papaya, orange slices, bananas, pears, etc., whatever is in season) on a bed of watercress, or other salad greens that you like.

Ingredients for 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

Procedure:
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, enough for 6-8 salads.

Mixed Green Salad with
Lemon Avocado Mustard Salad Dressing

Ingredients:
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salad greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and sweet red and yellow pepper strips

Procedure:
In a blender, combine the first ten ingredients; cover and process until blended. Serve with salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Tahitian Sweet Bread
Ingredients:
6 ounces all purpose flour
4 ounces whole wheat flour
6 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 fluid ounces plain yogurt
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teasp crystallized ginger, minced fine
the juice and zest of 2 oranges
4 ounces dried mango
4 ounces dried pineapple

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F, and lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together yogurt, egg whites, oil, orange juice, vanilla and ginger. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Do not over-mix or beat batter until smooth. Stir in orange zest, mango and pineapple until just blended then pour into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes before removing bread. Continue cooling bread on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Starfruit & Cranberry Chutney
This is a delicious chutney recipe that I put together last year when fresh starfruit are in season and is definitely a keeper! There are many varieties of chutney, they may be either wet or dry, and can be made from almost any combination of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. Chutneys are usually grouped into sweet or hot forms; both forms usually contain spices, including chili, but differ by their main flavors. This recipe uses fruit that can be purchased here in Hawaii, and is usually served during the Thanksgiving holidays, however I find that it is a delicious condiment to have on hand all year to serve with roast chicken, venison, pork, or wild game.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup golden raisins
3 1/2 cups diced starfruit, (if you can't get starfruit, use diced pears or apples (do not peel)
zest from one orange
2 bags (12 ounces each) fresh cranberries, or 12 ounces (total) dried cranberries (I like to use dried)

Procedure:
In a large non-reactive saucepan, combine all ingredients except the pecans, raisins, starfruit, orange zest and cranberries. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the pecans, raisins, and star fruit, cook until soft but not disintegrated, 5-8 minutes, depending on the firmness of the starfruit. Then add the orange zest and cranberries, cook, stirring frequently, over low-medium heat until the mixture has the consistency of thick jam (at least another 30-35 minutes). At this point you should taste the chutney and adjust, if needed, to your taste.

Let cool to room temperature, pack into jars with close-fitting caps, and refrigerate. This chutney will keep for three months or more in the refrigerator. Makes three quarts.

Red Grape Upside Down Cake
This cake is a real show stopper because instead of pineapple, we use sweet red grapes for this one layer cake.

Ingredients for the topping:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 3/4 cup or about 2 pounds red seedless grapes
1/4 cup orange juice

Ingredients for the batter:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Procedure:
Use a 9-inch round or an 8-inch square cake pan with 3-inch sides. To make the topping, place the butter and brown sugar in the cake pan. Place the pan on a stovetop burner over low heat and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the sugar has melted, after a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Scatter the grapes evenly in the bottom of the pan and drizzle in the orange juice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

To make the cake batter, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one to make sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add the dry ingredients and the milk in stages: mix in about a third of the flour mixture, followed by about half the milk; mix in another third of the flour, then the rest of the milk; finally, add the last third of the dry ingredients.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Beat the whites until they form firm peaks. Fold the whites into the batter in two batches. Pour the batter over the topping in the prepared pan and bake until the top is slightly brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a little orange liqueur, if you like. Makes one 9-inch round cake or one 8-inch square cake; serves 8.

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

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

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

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

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

Honey & Spice Oranges
This recipe makes a simply delicious, and elegant light dessert after a heavy Thanksgiving meal. The crystallized ginger adds a hot tropical flavor mixed with the honey and vanilla.

Ingredients:
6 large Navel oranges, peeled and sliced into sections
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 teaspoons crystallized ginger, minced very fine (see recipe below)
6 mint sprigs for garnish

Procedure:
Peel the oranges and slice sections into a bowl. Combine the honey with the vanilla and drizzle over the orange sections. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Serve in martini glasses, sprinkled with crystallized ginger, then garnish with mint sprigs and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Crystallized Ginger
Have you ever wondered why the Chinese and Japanese frequently add ginger to their food? It helps digestion, facilitates absorption, helps with flatulence, and helps prevent nausea. A delicious way to enjoy ginger is to crystallize it. You can buy ginger already crystallized at Friendly Market... if they have it in stock, but it is sometimes expensive. I like to make my own, it's very easy to do, here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra sugar for coating
1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices

Procedure:
Combine water and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add ginger, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer ginger to a wire rack, set over a pan, and dehydrate in a very low 170˚F convection oven for 1 hour, or dehydrator until dry, and then cut into smaller 1/4 inch pieces. Roll the small pieces of ginger in additional sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to three months. Use in recipes, or just pop a couple of pieces in your mouth every day.

Honey Ice Cream
I have made this recipe many times, and it reeks of honey flavor. Great to serve with Burnt Sugar Cookies (recipe below). You will need an ice-cream maker to make this recipe.

Ingredients:
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

Procedure:
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.

Burnt Sugar Cookies
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar (either light or dark)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 burnt sugar syrup (see recipe below)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Procedure:
To make the burnt-sugar syrup:
Place about 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a saute/frying pan, over medium-low heat. Sugar will start to melt and turn brown. Stir occasionally. When melted, add 3/4 cup hot or boiling water. Stir gently and carefully as the mixture will bubble like a cauldron. Though I'd been warned, I was still gleefully impressed. Simmer over low-ish, for 5-10 minutes, letting some of the water boil off. Then, let cool to room temperature.

For the cookies:
Sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, coriander, and salt. In mixer bowl, cream together (on HIGH) butter, brown sugar, and lemon zest til light and fluffy. Reduce speed to MEDIUM. Beat in egg and burnt-sugar syrup, till blended. Reduce speed to LOW; add dry ingredients in two additions, till just blended. Cover, refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Pour 1/4 cup of granulated sugar into a small bowl. Roll 1" dough-balls in sugar before placing on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until crinkly on top like gingersnaps. Makes about 16 cookies.

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

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

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

Procedure:
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.

Apple-Gingerbread Cake 
with Cream Cheese Icing
Ingredients for the cake pan:
Butter for greasing the pan
Flour for dusting the pan

Ingredients for cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1-1/2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples, about 2 apples

Ingredients for icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoon water, plus extra, as needed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Procedure:
For the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Liberally butter and flour a 10-inch fluted tube or Bundt pan. Set aside.

Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter with sugar in large mixing bowl with electric mixer, scraping sides occasionally, until smooth. Add egg and beat until combined. Stir in molasses. Dissolve baking soda in milk, then add to sugar mixture.

Stir in flour mixture on low speed just until combined. Gently fold in apples. Spoon into prepared bundt pan.

Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan and cool completely for about 1 hour before putting the icing on.

For the icing: In a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, heavy cream, cream cheese, 3 tablespoons water, and vanilla. Process until smooth, adding more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the icing is pourable. Spoon the icing over the cake and allow to set for 20 minutes before slicing.
Makes 8 servings.

Aug 18, 2014

What To Do With EDAMAME

Shelled edamame are very low in calories and fat, but packed with protein and fiber. Not only that... they have a nutty flavor and are delicious no matter how you serve them. If you are looking for a great snack for the family that's good for them instead of fattening chips, then try preparing frozen edamame (fresh soybeans) in the shell, it's simple. The frozen edamame comes in large frozen bags, and are already pre-cooked, so all you need to do is take out as many as you want, drop them into a pot of salted boiling water, cook for 3-4 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, then season with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. If you like them a little spicy, like I do, then buy a bottle of kimchee sauce. Just splash it on, toss and eat. Otherwise, here are a few other ways to enjoy this great product:



Salmon Linguini with Edamame & Wasabi-Soy Butter Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup shelled cooked edamame, thawed if frozen
1 clove garlic
1/2 pound fresh salmon, skin and bones removed
1/2 pound linguini dry pasta
1 tablespoon salt for pasta water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon Tamari sauce

Procedure:
Thaw the frozen edamame, if frozen, and remove the beans from the pods. Reserve about 1/3 of the edamame beans, then finely chop the remaining 2/3. Thinly slice the garlic, and slice the fresh salmon into bite size pieces. 

Put the linguini pasta in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. Cook pasta for about 9 minutes, or until just cooked.

Meanwhile, lightly sauté the garlic in olive oil in a frying pan over low heat. Add the salmon pieces, and sauté for about 5 minutes or until just cooked. Mix in the chopped edamame beans, butter, wasabi paste, and Tamari sauce for the pasta sauce. Strain the water from the cooked pasta. Toss the strained pasta with the sauce to coat. Plate the pasta, then add the whole edamame beans as a garnish on top of the pasta before serving. Makes 2 servings.

Crispy Shrimp Tempura with 
Edamame-Black Ear Mushroom Salad
Ingredients for salad:
1/4 cup (.5 ounces) dried Chinese black ear mushrooms (also called black fungus)
1/2 cup shelled cooked edamame, thawed if frozen
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Tamari sauce, or soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Ingredients for shrimp tempura:
8 jumbo shrimps, peeled and deveined (with a knife, make 3 small slices on the bottom of each shrimp to keep them from curling while cooking)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sparkling water (club soda)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cups canola oil for deep-frying

Procedure:
Soak dried mushrooms in plenty of warm water for about 30 minutes or until soft, then drain (they will more than double in size, so use a bowl that will accommodate that). Make the marinade by combining salt, Tamari sauce, sesame oil, seasoned rice vinegar, and mirin, in a medium bowl. Add the mushrooms. Chop most of the edamame, leaving a few whole for garnish. Add the chopped edamame beans to the marinade. Stir to coat everything with the marinade, then let sit in the refrigerator to chill, while you fry the shrimp. When ready to serve, garnish the top of each salad with whole edamame and toasted sesame seeds.

In a wok or large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer, inserted in the oil, reaches 375˚F. While the oil is heating, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the club soda and sesame oil. Stir until just combined and still lumpy. Dip the shrimp in the batter and fry, 3 or 4 at a time, turning the shrimp until the batter is golden and crispy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve tempura shrimp with a sweet chili dipping sauce like Mae Ploy brand, or (see recipe index under sauces) with the marinated mushroom salad on the side. Note: If you like, add a splash of Hawaiian chile pepper water or hot sauce to the mushroom marinade instead of the mirin, for a spicier salad. Serve with a bowl of Jasmine rice, cold beer, or hot tea. Makes 2 servings.

Edamame Wild Rice Salad 
with Cranberries
Ingredients:
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
4 cups cooked wild rice
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 cups shelled cooked edamame, thawed if frozen
2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
Place the almonds in a medium frying pan over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden brown (do not let the nuts burn), about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the almonds.

Add the rice, scallions, edamame, carrots, and cranberries to the bowl with the almonds and sesame seeds and toss to combine.

Whisk the olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Drizzle over the rice mixture and toss to combine. Taste and season as needed with more salt, pepper, and vinegar. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Edamame Salsa Salad with Quinoa
Ingredients for quinoa:
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup quinoa

Ingredients for salad:
3 cups frozen corn
1 16-ounce can black beans
1 1/2 cups frozen, shelled edamame
1 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
6 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons smooth dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil

Procedure:
Place water and quinoa in a small saucepan and prepare according to package directions (which will probably indicate that you will bring them to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed). NOTE: If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, then before you add it to the saucepan, you will need to rinse it in a sieve, swishing it with your fingers until the water runs clear.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse and drain the corn, black beans and edamame, just to wash away the liquid from the beans and help the edamame and corn to begin thawing. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add red pepper, cilantro, green onions, garlic and prepared quinoa.
To prepare the vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard and olive oil in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine and then pour over vegetable mixture.

Chill for an hour or two before serving to allow the flavors to combine. Makes 7-8 cups.

For even more recipes, check out this previous post "The Addictive Edamame" click here

Aug 16, 2014

It's AVOCADO Season!

Buttery Avocados from my small orchard
Click on photo to view larger
The avocado is found throughout the world, especially in warmer, tropical climates. They were first planted in Hawaii in 1825 and was common throughout the islands by 1910. Here on Moloka'i we have several varieties that have cross pollinated, creating its own unique buttery variety. I was so impressed with them, that I planted about 30 avocado trees in my backyard 10 years ago. They were started from the seeds of a local 70 year old tree that grows down the street in the village of Kualapu'u. These trees, while all slightly different, are now producing the creamiest avocados on the island. My wife often sells them, when in season, on Saturday mornings at our local farmers market.

Apart from being delicious, the popular avocado is also a nutritionally healthy powerhouse. Loaded with heart-boosting mono-unsaturated fat, a great source of fiber and teeming with over 20 essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Avocado Facts You Probably Didn't Know: 
•  Avocados are by far the fattiest fruit out there (about 75% of the calories are from monounsaturated fat), but good fat is good; we need it to assimilate fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
•  High in several of the Bs (including folate), moderate level of C, and E, and a bit of A
•  Super high in potassium (higher than bananas)
•  High in insoluble fiber
•  Filled with enzymes which help digestion. (Other fruits that bring their own enzymes are bananas, papaya, kiwi, mangos – perhaps this is why we often feed these to children.)
•  Unlike most fruit (but like bananas), they mature on the tree but don’t ripen until picked, which is why they’re so often rock hard at the store.
•  They ripen from broad-end to stem-end, so if you’re only cutting a small piece, start at the fat-end.
•  The actual word avocado comes from the Aztec word “ahuacatl” which means testicle because of the shape... some things we don't need to know.

Most people love to eat avocados, and the classic avocado recipe, and football food, is guacamole and chips (recipe below). My favorite way to have avocado is avocado halves filled with red wine vinegar or splashed with tamari sauce and fresh lemon juice. It's so good and makes a great snack or light lunch. However sometimes I find myself wanting some other flavors in there. I have found out that I am not alone, other people have been very creative with what they do with their avocados, like crushing roasted nori into mashed avocado, spreading it on rice cakes and topping it with salt, pepper and sesame seeds, or Avocado & Apple Salad! Cube the avacado and apple into similar sized pieces, mix in some sunflower seeds, and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice (keeps the apples from turning brown and it is so tasty!).

Check out these other avocado ideas:

Lobster & Avocado Martini Salad
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 pound cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped
2 shallots, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Old Bay Seasoning, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil or mayonnaise
2 teaspoons horseradish
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh, cooked corn kernels
one handful chopped parsley
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

Procedure:
Whisk the melted butter and one tablespoon of the lemon juice. In a bowl mix the lobster pieces with the butter/lemon mixture and one of the chopped shallots. Add salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle with the Old Bay Seasoning. (There’s salt in the Old Bay so consider this when adding the regular salt). In another bowl whisk the oil or mayonnaise with the horseradish, remaining one tablespoon of lemon juice, and the lemon zest. Add the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. If it needs more zing, add a little more horseradish or lemon. If too sharp, add additional oil or mayonnaise. Spoon into martini glasses and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Mixed Green Salad with
Lemon Avocado Mustard Salad Dressing
Ingredients:
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salad greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and sweet red and yellow pepper strips

Procedure:
In a blender, combine the first ten ingredients; cover and process until blended. Serve with salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Avocado Shrimp Tzatziki
Tzatziki is a traditional Greek dip and gyro condiment. The creamy yogurt texture and exotic flavors work really well as a topping for avocados. The shrimp take this appetizer/light lunch to another level.

Ingredients:
1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1 Japanese cucumber, seeded, finely grated and drained
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus 4 sprigs for garnish (kumu Farms on Moloka'i has fresh dill)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 ripe avocados
12 small cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and seasoned

Procedure:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill. When ready to serve, take a sharp knife and split each avocado in half. Take a large spoon scoop out the the avocado meat from its shell, being careful to keep it in one piece. Place each half in a small bowl, and fill each with the tzatziki mixture. Top each with 3 shrimp, garnished with a sprig of fresh dill. Makes 4 servings.

Shrimp Tartare with Avocado
Ingredients:
2 large ripe avocados, diced
1 pound cooked shrimp, diced, reserving 4 whole shrimp for garnish
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
capers for garnish
French bread, sliced and drizzled with olive oil

Procedure:
In a stainless steel bowl, combine ingredients, except for capers and bread. Mix gently. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 2 hours. To serve, fill tartare mixture in 4, 3-inch wide ramekins on 4 small chilled plates. Carefully remove the ramekin molds. Place one whole shrimp on top of each mold and sprinkle around the plates and on top of the tartare with capers. Serve with sliced French bread drizzled with olive oil. Makes 4 servings.

Avocado Rolls with Tobiko
Inspired by sushi bar rolls, these simple to make Hawaiian pupus are another way to enjoy avocado when in season.

Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
3 nori sheets (seaweed sheets, found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds, to make 18 slices
Tobiko (flying fish eggs, found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
zest of one lemon for garnish

Procedure:
Remove the flesh from the avocado and mix it with lemon juice, egg yolk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, leaving a few lumps of avocado. Take each nori sheet and cut it into 6 strips with kitchen shears. Put a teaspoon or so of mixture into each nori strip and roll the nori around the avocado mixture. Set each roll on end, on top of a cucumber slice, and top with a little tobiko and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Makes 18 servings.

Ahi-Olive Stuffed Avocado
"Poke" is a favorite pupu (appetizer) here in the Hawaiian islands. Try putting your favorite poke combination into half of an avocado for your next luau, or try this unique combination:

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, cut in half, pitted with skin left on
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper or seasoned salt
1/2 pound ahi tuna, sushi grade, diced into 1/4 inch dice
1 egg yolk
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Procedure:
Cut avocados in half and remove the pit. Leave the skin on the avocado halves. Sprinkle the avocado flesh with lemon juice so they don't turn brown. Sprinkle each half with a little salt and pepper or seasoned salt. Gently combine one egg yolk with the diced ahi and chopped olives. Spoon mixture into the cavity of each avocado. Chill in the refrigerator before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon-Avocado Poke
This delicious poke can be served either in the avocado shell, or over Jasmine rice that has been cooled to room temperature.

Ingredients:
1 pound sushi-grade salmon
1 avocado, cubed
cooked Jasmine white rice, to serve
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup Tamari sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
toasted sesame seeds

Procedure:
In a medium bowl, mix together red onion, green onion, Tamari sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and ginger. Set aside. Remove bones and skin from your salmon, if any, and cut the fish into 3/4 inch chunks. Add fish and avocado to the bowl with the marinade. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with extra diced green onions and sesame seeds on top. Makes 4 servings. 

Note: To make this recipe even more special, make roasted nori chips to serve with it. Simply coat one side of 4 nori sheets with a very thin coating of water (or spray it on). Sprinkle half of the sheet with a little salt, sesame seeds, and just a little wasabi powder. Fold the nori sheet over on itself and press down. Cut the sheet into strips and place the strips on a baking sheet. Bake at 300˚F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the strips are crisp. Repeat this process to make as many roasted nori chips as you like.

Chunky Guacamole
Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
hot sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste, or avocado seasoning (recipe below)

Procedure:
Mash the avocados with a fork until chunky. Stir in the lime juice, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and hot sauce, if using. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper. Serve at room temperature with corn chips. Makes 8 servings.

Avocado Seasoning
This avocado seasoning mix is perfect for guacamole or just sprinkled over a sliced avocado, cucumber, tomato salad garnished with cold shrimp. This seasoning is good to have around, especially during avocado season.

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion or onion powder
pinch of cumin, to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Procedure:
Combine all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container if not using immediately.
To make guacamole, mash two avocados with the seasoning, then stir in 1 chopped Roma tomato. Add 1/4 teaspoon lime juice to prevent browning. Serve. Makes about 1-1/2 teaspoons of seasoning.

Guacamole Salad Dressing
This dressing is great on sliced tomatoes, or on your favorite green salad, or try using it as a dip for shrimp. I like to skewer pieces cold imitation crab (surimi) and cooked shrimp and drizzle or brush this dressing over the top for a delicious appetizer. Another good thing is to put this dressing on top of mahi-mahi fish tacos... sooo goood!

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
2 tablespoons cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
Put chopped avocado in a small bowl or food processor, and mash until smooth. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole dressing to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3 cups depending on the size of your avocados.
Note: Remember that much of this recipe is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

Chips & Avocado Soup
Hawaii has some wonderful tropical avocados, just like Mexico. This simple soup satisfies my south-of-the-boarder cravings, and is a great way to enjoy avocado.

Ingredients:
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
cooking spray
1 3/4 cups sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups chopped tomato
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup (3 ounces) queso fresco, or shredded 4 cheese Mexican cheese
1 cup cubed peeled avocado
1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Place strips on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden. Set strips aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 7 minutes or until golden. Place onion mixture, tomato, and hot sauce in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

Place pan over medium-high heat. Add tomato mixture, and cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 30 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Divide the cheese, tortilla strips, and avocado evenly among bowls. Sprinkle each serving with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Buttery Avocado Coconut Cream Soup
Like a Vichyssoise, a French-style potato soup, this rich avocado soup is served cold as an appetizer.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 large jalapeno pepper, seeds & membranes removed (if desired), and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
3 avocados, peeled and cut into eights
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup diced tomatoes

Procedure:
Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeno pepper, and sweat (cook without browning) until the onion is soft and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for additional 2 minutes. Stir in the mint. Let cool slightly. Place the avocados in a food processor or heavy-duty blender, along with 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth. Pulse until finely chopped.

Add the remaining broth, along with the onion mixture, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour the soup into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the lite coconut milk. Cover the soup and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve chilled, topped with diced tomatoes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

For even more avocado recipes, check out this previous post "The Hawaiian Avocado", click here.