Nov 29, 2014

BONE MARROW, “the frugal man’s foie gras”

Moloka'i Roasted Grass-fed Angus Beef Marrow Bones
Recipe below

Click on photo to view larger
In recent years, bone marrow has re-emerged as "haute cuisine", taking the culinary world by storm. It has even been labeled as “the frugal man’s foie gras” unless you eat it at a high-end restaurant, then expect to pay big bucks for it. Bone marrow is also considered an exotic "superfood". It has been found to be rich in calcium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium, and helps strengthen bones and connective tissues in our body. A three-ounce serving of bone marrow contains nearly 500 calories, around 7 grams of protein and over 50 grams of fat (most of which is monounsaturated). It is a smorgasbord of fat-soluble nutrients (including vitamins A. E, K and D) that fuel the heart, protect cells and boost the immune system.

Bone marrow has been popular all over the world as a core ingredient in a variety of dishes from a soup base for the national staple dish, (phở) in Vietnam. In the Philippines their is a native dish called "bulalo", a sweet-salty-peppery broth which highlights bone marrow still in the bone. In Italy, osso buco, translates as "hole in the bone", referring to the delectable marrow in the center of the slowly braised veal shank bone. In France roasted beef bone marrow is traditionally eaten on toasted bread sprinkled with coarse sea salt. 
Bone marrow at Galatoire's 33, New Orleans
(Photo by Dinah Rogers, / The Times-Picayune archive) 

In New Orleans, Galatoire's 33 is serving horseradish crusted bone marrow with fried kale and Leidenheimer toast rounds as an appetizer. Montreal's Joe Beef restaurant is serving roasted bone marrow with a variety of garnishes including snails, goat cheese, ramps, mushrooms, even crawfish étouffée. These are the reasons I am not a vegetarian, rather an unabashed carnivore!

What better place to enjoy this delicacy than Hawaii. Our premium grass-fed Angus beef are prized for their high-quality meat. Hawaii's second largest ranch, Moloka'i Ranch, is raising hormone-free Angus beef, locally born, raised and finished on Moloka'i. This only means that the bone marrow will also be of the highest quality, without the toxins found in conventionally-raised, chemically-treated animals.

You may be hesitant about trying this exotic super food, because you're not sure how it will taste or you have no idea how to prepare it. Not only does bone marrow taste great, it's very easy to prepare. When roasted, marrow behaves like a cross between pâté and melting butter. Like pâté, marrow is usually spread over thinly sliced, toasted bread. Trying marrow once often results in never turning it down again.

If you want to try this delicacy at home, you will have to find a butcher to properly cut the bones for you. I've been told that on Oahu, Whole Foods in Kahala sells beef marrow bones, and will cut them for you for $5.00 a pound, but I'm not sure if they are from grass-fed beef. On Moloka'i, Friendly Market sells them for the same price, but not from grass-fed beef, unfortunately they hardly ever have them, so you would have to order them special. 

"Special-cut" bones from
the Moloka'i Livestock Cooperative

Click on photo to view larger
The Moloka'i Livestock Cooperative, on the other hand, will be able to provide the highest quality, grass-fed beef marrow bones for a whopping $8.00 a pound if you buy them cut lengthwise, which they call a "special-cut".  I buy it cut across the bone for $1.89 a pound and work a little harder for my marrow. I guess it depends on who you are serving as to how much you are willing to pay. What is "superfood" worth anyway? 

The Moloka'i Livestock Cooperative is located at 3367 Mauna Loa Highway, in Ho'olehua, on the way to the west end of the island, just before the airport on the left side. They are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 567-6994. In addition to beef, MLC also processes other meats like venison, sheep, and hogs.

Roasted Bone Marrow, Hawaii-style
This is a simple way to try this "beefy butter" delicacy at home as an appetizer (pupu).

Roasted Bone Marrow, Hawaiian-style
Click on photo to view larger
6 beef leg bones cut in half lengthwise, about 4 or 5 inches long (see photo above), or buy 6 bones cut across the bone 3 inches long (see photo to the right)

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup soy sauce (I like Tamari sauce, which is a stronger soy sauce)

3 tablespoons lemon zest

Togorashi (a peppery Japanese condiment found at Friendly Market, use sparingly!)

12 sprigs of fresh thyme (from Kumu Farms)

1 jar of pickled sweet Maui onion with ogo (seaweed) from Friendly Market (see photo below). If you can't get this wonderful product where you live, try another pickled vegetable, like kimchi.

1 9-ounce package Saloon Pilot crackers from Diamond Bakery ($4.59 at Kualapu'u Market)

Mix melted butter, soy sauce and lemon zest into a soy glaze. Place the bones in a casserole dish and brush the glaze over the bones, coating all of its surfaces. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Put bones, marrow side up, in a roasting pan. Brush the top of each bone with more of the marinating glaze. Season lightly with a few shakes of Togorashi seasoning and top each bone with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. Roast for about 15 minutes depending on how big the bones are, or until the marrow begins to slightly bubble and gets soft, but not cooked so long that the marrow melts and drizzles out. Let marrow bones cool slightly before serving, you don't want your guests to burn their fingers.
Pickled Maui Onions

Serve each roasted bone with a little pickled sweet Maui onion with ogo (seaweed), and Hawaii's own, Diamond Bakery Saloon Pilot crackers. Let your guests remove the marrow from the split bone with a narrow spoon and spread it on each cracker, topped with a little sweet Maui onion. Makes 2 delicious appetizer servings.

Note: Another way to serve bone marrow is to soak the raw cut bones in warm water to loosen the marrow. Remove the marrow and use in other recipes, such as dusting the marrow with salt and flour and then sauté it in butter on medium low heat so as not to melt the marrow. Or add the marrow to scrambled eggs with torn parsley leaves. Or slice the marrow into medallions and serve floating in a rich beef consommé. To make bone marrow butter, roast 10, 3-inch bones as described above, remove the marrow and place in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter. Puree until combined. Spread on toasted crusty bread. Sooo many ways to use this delicious, nutritious product. Go ahead, give bone marrow a try!

Oxtail & Barley Soup
Oxtail & Barley Soup
Click on photo to view larger
In case you were wondering what oxtails are, they are the tail meat of the steer.  In olden days, it came from the tail of an ox. The tail is skinned and cut into sections; each section has a tailbone with some marrow in the center, and a bony portion of meat surrounding the tail. The tail is gelatinous, and is best used for stocks, soups, and braises that are rich with flavor. This is a simple recipe that does take a little time to cook.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds oxtails, rinsed and patted dry ($6.99 a pound at Friendly Market)
3 quarts cold water
1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon beef base or 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
Salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil and brown oxtails on all sides. Discard any fat in pan. Add water, and bring to a boil, skimming off any frothy foam that comes to the surface. Add barley, bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic, celery, onion and beef base. Bring back to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the oxtails and let cool.

Now add carrots and tomatoes, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. At this point return the oxtail meat back into the soup. Taste for seasoning, and add salt if necessary. Remove bay leaf and serve with a sprinkle of parsley in every bowl. Makes 6 servings.

Note: For another delicious Chinese oxtail stew, check out this recipe for Chinese Braised Oxtail Stew.

Nov 25, 2014


Diamond Bakery's Saloon Pilot Crackers
Click on photos to view larger
Saloon Pilot crackers, "pelena poepoe" in Hawaiian meaning "round cracker", are an important part of Hawaii's culture, a staple snack food found on grandma's kitchen table along with butter and jelly; or a classic plantation snack: dipped in canned condensed milk. 

Diamond Bakery, founded in 1912 by Japanese immigrants on Oahu, is the home of the popular Saloon Pilot cracker. Saloon Pilots were a descendant of hardtack, or “sea biscuits”, a nonperishable staple of 19th-century sailors' diets. Hardtack was made from unleavened bread, which gave them the ability to survive rough handling and long voyages on the high seas. It was a product which kept for a long time and was
19th-century Merchant Seamen
easy to store. They were made of oil, flour, baking powder and salt, and were oval-shaped with a little 
dimple in the center. It is believed that Diamond Bakery's founders got a recipe for these crackers from merchant seamen from Maine who settled in Hawai'i. Nearly nine decades later, Diamond Bakery's Saloon Pilot crackers are being sold back to Mainers where they are a favorite alongside chowders and stews.

Because these crackers are so dry, and almost saltless, they beg for a topping. Today Saloon Pilot crackers are enjoyed in Hawaii topped with cheese or Spam or spread with peanut butter and lilikoi, mango jam or kiawe honey. Some locals spread them with ground meat, cheese and tomato sauce making little pizzas out of them, or they eat them topped with ahi tuna poke, along side "da' kine", a cold Bud Light. I like to "kick it up a notch" by spreading roasted beef bone marrow on top with some sweet pickled Maui onions on the side as a pupu, or served alongside a nice hot bowl of Coconut Fish Chowder (recipe).

Sea Biscuits
If you want to try making your own hardtack crackers, here's a simple recipe. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter flavored shortening
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Mix all ingredients together. Turn onto a floured board and knead for five minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Knead again for a couple minutes and allow dough to rest for another 10 minutes. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Use the rim of a cup or container to cut out 3"- 4" circles. Use a fork or skewer to prick the center of the circle a few times. Arrange on 2 baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes rotating baking sheets every 5 minutes. Turn oven off and leave crackers in oven until completely cool. This is what gives the crackers the "hard tack" texture. Makes 9-12 crackers (depending on size).

Nov 20, 2014


Downtown Kaunakakai, Hawaii
Click on photo to view larger
I was surprised when I came to Moloka'i to see artichokes in our two grocery stores in Kaunakakai. Kaunakakai is our largest town and that's saying a lot. Just one main street with a few old wooden buildings. Most of the residents on Moloka'i are not what I would call adventurous eaters. Yes they eat turkey tails and pork belly, but then so do I, but I can't see locals eating artichokes. A few years ago I was asked by the lady who was in charge of the produce department at Friendly Market how you cook artichokes. Naturally I told her what I knew, she shook her head, smiled and that was it.

I spent a few years living near the heart of the artichoke growing world, Watsonville, California. Artichokes have been harvested in this area since 1922. Driving around that area, you will see massive fields of huge thistle plants with beautiful globes of artichokes sticking out like marshmallows on a stick (click here for artichoke photos from Watsonville). All you have to do is pull your car into one of many roadside artichoke stands and buy any size you like. However, just like everything else, after a while you take them for granted... until I moved to Hawaii, then I wanted them back, like dungeness crab, crusty bread, and mortadella sandwiches. Anyway you get my meaning.

My mother introduced me to artichokes about 55 years ago when we lived in Memphis, Tennessee. She was a good cook and one day she came home with a bag of artichokes. She boiled them and served them to us with a melted butter dipping sauce. I have been cooking artichokes that way ever since, with one minor adjustment, I put soy sauce in my butter now.

Artichokes like my mother cooked them
Click on photo to view larger

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of eating artichokes, this blog is for you. Artichokes are strange looking with prickly pointed leaves, but at the heart of the leaves is the gold. Wonderful buttery artichoke meat. Getting to that heart is the adventure, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Take two large artichokes, trim the brown tips off of the bottom of the stalks, then trim the fiber off of the outside of each stalk, just cutting about 1/8-inch off the entire length. The next thing to do, at least some people do this, is to take some kitchen sheers and trim the tips off of the outside leaves. That way your guests won't get pricked, plus that's the way fancy restaurants do it... I don't bother with that step. Also remove any very small leaves from around the stem by just pulling on them.

Now you are ready to boil the chokes. Simply place your two trimmed artichokes in a large pot. Fill the pot with warm water to about 2 inches from the top. Set the pot on the stove and add a tablespoon of sea salt to the water and also a healthy splash of olive oil. Put the top on the pot and turn up the heat to high until the water boils, then turn it down to simmer leaving the top on the pot. Simmer for one hour, then remove the artichokes to a large dinner plate. When the chokes are almost cooked, melt a stick of butter in the microwave or in a small pot. Add about 1/4 cup of soy sauce to the butter. Sir the mixture and pour into two small ramekins as your dipping sauce. That's all you have to do. Other popular dipping sauces are lemon-butter, or mayonnaise.

Now comes the fun part, learning how to eat the artichoke. Peel off a leaf, dip the bottom meaty end in the sauce, then drag the leaf between your teeth. Repeat this process until you have eaten all of the leaves. At that point you will be down to the thistle or hairy part of the choke which needs to be discarded. Just take a spoon or dinner knife and remove the hairs from what is known as the artichoke heart... the best part! Take you knife and cut the heart into four equal pieces right through the stem. Dip them in the remaining sauce for four of the best bites known to artichoke lovers.

Note: Many artichokes recipes call for frozen artichokes, and unfortunately, all that Moloka'i grocery stores carry are canned or jarred. If more people ask for frozen, perhaps they will bring them in.

Artichoke Dip with a Little Kick
This is a classic recipe, but you can add spinach, shrimp, or crab if you like.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 (14-ounce) cans water-packed artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded pepper-jack cheese
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Beat the softened cream cheese in a large bowl with a hand held electric mixer until creamy. Add the mayo and sour cream and beat until smooth. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the Parmesan cheese, until combined. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and bake in a pyrex pie plate or casserole dish at 350˚F oven for 40 minutes until the top is bubbling and golden brown. Serve, cooled slightly, with crackers, pita chips, corn chips, or toasted rye bread.

Creamy Artichoke Soup
This recipe is based on a creamy soup served at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero, California.

2 large fresh artichokes
2 (14-ounce) cans water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 (12-ounce) can chicken broth
2 (10.5-ounce) cans condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine (to make the soup a little greener)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
warm crusty bread, for serving

Precook two large fresh artichokes covered in a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 hour, (this can be done a day ahead of time). Reserve 1/2 cup of the water from the cooked artichokes.
Creamy Artichoke Soup
Click on photo to view larger

Drain and rinse the canned artichoke hearts. Then purée the canned artichoke hearts with the 1/2 cup of the reserved artichoke water and the chicken stock, with a stick a blender. Transfer puréed artichokes to a 6-qt. pot. Add the cream of celery soup, cream, parsley, garlic, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes. (Stir soup occasionally so the soup at the bottom of the pot doesn't scorch.) Strain soup through a mesh strainer into a clean pot over low heat; discard any stringy solids. 

To serve, remove the leaves from the cooked fresh artichokes, discarding the small outer leaves. Set the other leaves aside and remove the hairy fuzz from the artichoke hearts with a spoon. Cut off the stem from the hearts and discard. Cut the hearts into small chunks, ladle soup into 6 bowls and garnish the soup with the cut artichoke hearts. Place the best artichoke leaves around the soup bowls on a soup plate beneath the soup bowls for eating with the soup. Serve with warm crusty bread. Makes 6 servings. (see photo).

For another delicious "Cream of Artichoke Soup" recipe, visit this site.

Nov 5, 2014

What's Hiding In Your Cantaloupe Rind?

Cantaloupe Rind
The netting can hide Salmonella
One of my favorite melons is cantaloupe. Most of the cantaloupe grown in the U.S. comes from California, however they are also grown here in Hawaii and are the best I have ever eaten because they are picked when they are ripe and sweet, not half ripe and tasteless. They are a heat-loving fruit with a long growing season.

I recently found out that because of their net-like rind, cantaloupe can have special food safety risks such as Salmonella, especially if cut before purchase. I had never heard of that before so I looked it up online and here is what I found out:

Safety of Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe and other melons present special food safety risks. Netted melons like cantaloupe grow on the ground and can come in contact with pathogens in non- composted fertilizer or through handling. Unlike other fruits, cantaloupe are not acidic and readily support the growth of pathogens once they are sliced open. Outbreaks of illness linked to melons contaminated with Salmonella are an unfortunate occurrence each year.

It is recommended by the FDA that consumers take the following steps to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella or other foodborne illnesses from cantaloupes:

• Purchase cantaloupes that are not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh-cut cantaloupe, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

• After purchase, refrigerate cantaloupes promptly.

• Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh cantaloupes.

• Scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating. If you use soap, detergents or bleach water (see note below), be sure to rinse the melon well before slicing.

• Use clean cutting surfaces and utensils when cutting cantaloupes. Wash cutting boards, countertops, dishes, and utensils with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, or seafood and the preparation of cantaloupe.

• If there happens to be a bruised or damaged area on a cantaloupe, cut away those parts before eating it.

Uncut cantaloupe can be stored refrigerated for 5 or 6 days. Leftover cut cantaloupe should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours. Cut cantaloupe can last in the refrigerator for about 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

• Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing cantaloupes outdoors. Sliced or cut melon should never be out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours, 1 hour when it's above 90°F.

Symptoms of foodborne Salmonella infection include: nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Children are the most likely to get Salmonella. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other persons. Young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections. The infection also poses a particular risk to pregnant woman because it can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. It is estimated that 1.2 million people become ill from Salmonella each year.

Actually there have been quite a few recalls of contaminated cantaloupes associated with a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella. The CDC reported a total of 178 persons were infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium from 21 states in 2012. Nationwide, 62 persons were hospitalized. In Kentucky, two deaths were reported. Cutting, slicing and dicing contaminated cantaloupe may transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit’s surface to the fruit’s flesh. One of the most deadly outbreaks in U.S. history occurred in Colorado when Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes killed more than 30 people and sickened more than 140.

The next time you buy cantaloupe, give them a good scrub before cutting them open. Just remember to keep them off of your kitchen counter and cutting boards before cleaning the outside surface to avoid cross contamination. 

Do yourself a favor and buy a small plastic squirt bottle from the Hardware Store, fill it with water and put 3 or 4 drops of bleach in it. Keep it right on your kitchen counter and use it to decontaminate your counter tops and cutting boards everyday. Bugs don't like bleach. Postharvest practices on cantaloupe farms should include treatment with a sodium hypochlorite or bleach wash to prevent mold and Salmonella growth, but who knows if they did it, so do it yourself. It's better to be safe than sorry, besides who wants to give up eating cantaloupe! 

Here are a few delicious things to do with this beautiful melon:

Coconut-Cantaloupe Balls
1 large cantaloupe
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon lime rind zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup flaked coconut
lime slice for garnish

Cut the cantaloup in half and scoop out and discard the seeds.

Use a melon baller or ice cream scoop to form the cantaloupe flesh into balls. Place in a bowl.

Combine orange juice, lime rind zest, lime juice, salt and honey in a bowl. Mix this well and pour over the cantaloupe balls. Chill the cantaloupe mixture thoroughly, about 2 hours, in the refrigerator.

Sprinkle with coconut and garnish with thin slices of lime before serving. Makes about 3 servings.

Cantaloupe Wrapped In Prosciutto 
with Mozzarella Cheese
This is a classic Italian recipe. I had to include it in this list of recipes because it is so easy to make and always makes a big hit as a first course. If you live on Moloka'i, you can purchase prosciutto at Moloka'i Wines and Spirits.

1 whole cantaloupe
12 thin slices of Mozzarella cheese
12 slices of prosciutto, about 1/3 pound

Halve the cantaloupe and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Next, cut each half into sixths, each shaped like a crescent moon, making 12 total slices. Slice along the inside of the rind just above the green portion so that eating doesn't become hard work, discarding the rinds. Place one thin slice of Mozzarella cheese on each slice. Wrap the prosciutto around the middle of each cantaloupe/cheese slice, with the ends of the cantaloupe peeking out. Place one or two on each person's plate. Makes 6 servings.

Spicy Cantaloupe Pineapple Salsa
1 1/2 cups diced cantaloupe
1 cup diced pineapple
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 spicy red pepper (seeded and finely diced)
2 large jalapenos (seeded and finely diced)
Small handful of cilantro chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
Pinch of salt

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss to combine well. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve with grilled shrimp, barbecued pork, or chicken. Makes about 2 cups.

Honey Sweet Cantaloupe Frozen Yogurt
3 cups cantaloupe, cubed
2/3 cup honey
2 cups plain low fat yogurt

Puree the cantaloupe in a blender or food processor until smooth. Combine with honey. Add the mixture to the yogurt and stir well to combine. Chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 1 hour. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions, or pour into popsicle molds and freeze until firm.

Cantaloupe Cream Pie
1 pre-baked pie shell

Ingredients for filling:
1 cantaloupe, washed, peeled, seeded, and pureed in blender or food processor
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for topping:
1 (8 oz.) package light cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups fresh whipped cream

Place cantaloupe puree, pinch of salt and sugar in medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Dissolve cornstarch in water and lime juice and add to pan while stirring. Simmer mixture while stirring until it begins to thicken.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks with fork. Gradually add some of the hot melon mixture to the eggs, one spoon at a time, stirring in between to prevent eggs from cooking. Add the warm egg mixture to the pot and simmer while stirring for two more minutes until thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Pour melon mixture into pre-baked pie shell and place in refrigerator until cool and firm.

While pie is cooling, whip light cream cheese with sugar, milk and vanilla until soft and smooth. Gently fold in whipped cream. (Do not use canned whipped cream. If not using fresh whipped heavy cream, substitute thawed, frozen whipped topping.)

When pie is cool, spread cream mixture over the top and place pie back in refrigerator until serving time. Serves 8.

Cantaloupe Jam
5 1/2 cups cantaloupe puree, (about two cantaloupes)
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger
3 cups sugar
1 package "no sugar needed pectin"

Puree cantaloupe pieces in a food processor and add, orange extract, ginger and lemon and bring to boil in a large pot. Add pectin and boil for 1 minute. Then add sugar and bring back to a boil for 3 minutes. Ladle into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Makes 7 half pints.

Frozen Cantaloupe Cocktail
2 cantaloupe cut into 1/2-inch cubes (8 cups)
1 1/2 cups ginger ale 
1/3 cup water 
1 (6-oz.) can frozen limeade concentrate 
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 shot of vodka for each glass (optional)
lime zest to garnish the edges of the glasses

Place cantaloupe cubes in an extra-large zip-top plastic freezer bag, and freeze 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. 

Process half each of cantaloupe, ginger ale, water, limeade concentrate, and ginger in a blender until smooth; pour mixture into a pitcher. Repeat procedure with remaining half of ingredients; stir into pitcher, and serve immediately with or without a shot of vodka in each glass.

Nov 3, 2014

Hawaii 'English' Muffin Sandwiches

Toasted bread gets boring on sandwiches, so I have revisited English muffins. I love English Muffins, the way butter melts into the nooks and crannies in a toasted muffin, with the soft interior and the crispy toasted top. In some ways, English muffins are better than bread. Sure, you can toast bread, but it's not the same. Not at all.

So why are they called 'ENGLISH' muffins? Good question, because the closest thing to an English muffin in England are crumpets, teacakes or scones, however 'American' English muffins are available in some British supermarkets, where they are usually sold simply as muffins. The English deny that they ever heard or saw anything like it until they were imported from America. 

Samuel Bath Thomas
The story is that a 26 year old English baker, Samuel Bath Thomas, started making English muffins in 1880 in his bakery in New York City, using his mother's tea cake recipe. In 1919 Thomas died leaving his business to his four daughters and nephews. It wasn't until 1970 that Samuel Thomas' English Muffin company was bought by CPC, a food conglomerate that eventually renamed itself as Best Foods. Today the Thomas' English Muffins brand is owned by Mexican food conglomerate Grupo Bimbo SAB. Thomas' English Muffins are the original and still the #1 selling English muffin brand racking up $500 million dollars in muffin sales annually. Obviously someone out there likes English muffins.

Besides the United Kingdom, English muffins are available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and of course the United States. Here in Hawaii, even on the small rural island of Moloka'i where I live, several brands, including Thomas', are easily found in our small grocery stores.

In case you can't get English muffins where you live, they are about 3 inches round and 1 inch high, yeast raised (basically a bread dough) and baked on a griddle (see recipe below). To get the proper texture when split in two they should not be cut with a knife, but should be split with a fork. The resulting rough texture gives them a certain crunchiness when toasted, which help them hold gobs of butter and preserves.

English muffins are famous in America for the classic eggs benedict and more recently, the Eggs McMuffin, tuna melts, and mini pizzas. What else can you do with them? Here are my English Muffin sandwich recipes with a taste of Hawaii:

English Muffin Portuguese Sausage 
Breakfast Sandwich
Click on photo to view larger
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 Portuguese sausage, about 10 thin slices
1 small red bell pepper (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
salt (dash)
soy sauce (dash)
butter (softened)
2 English muffins, split and toasted
2 fried eggs
cracked black pepper

In a skillet, add oil, Portuguese sausage slices, bell pepper, garlic, salt and soy sauce, cook until the bell pepper is slightly wilted on medium high heat. Spread butter on toasted English muffin slices and add the above cooked ingredients. Top each with one fried egg, a little cracked black pepper, and a toasted English muffin top. Serve with fresh fruit. Makes 2 servings.

Topless Smoked Salmon English Muffin 
Breakfast Sandwich
half of an avocado
juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
1/2 pound smoked salmon
4 thin slices of Jarlsberg Swiss cheese
1 English muffin, split and toasted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Remove avocado from its skin and mash it in a small bowl. Add a small squeeze of lemon.

Toast the english muffin and top it with cheese, avocado, and smoked salmon.

Boil 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon vinegar. Fill a ramekin or any microwave safe bowl 3/4 of the way with boiling vinegar/water solution. Crack an egg and gently slip it into the water, making sure it's completely submerged. Cover with plastic wrap or a plate and microwave on high for 1 minute, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Drain the water using a slotted spoon and place each egg on top of your english muffin halves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Topless English Muffin Honey-Banana 
Breakfast Sandwich
Elvis would have been proud!

2 English Muffins, split and toasted
1 large ripe banana, mashed
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 teaspoons Hawaiian honey
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together and spread on toast. Makes 2 servings.

Ahi Tuna English Muffin Sandwiches 
with Mandarin Sauce
1 1/4 pounds fresh ahi tuna
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lite soy sauce
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 English Muffins, split and toasted
1 recipe Mandarin sauce (optional; see recipe below)

Remove any skin from the tuna and coarsely chop in a blender or food processor (or with a knife) until it is the consistency and texture of ground beef. Transfer the tuna to a bowl and combine with the garlic, mustard, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and salt and pepper. Shape the tuna into 4 patties and refrigerate 30 minutes before cooking.

Heat the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook the tuna patties for 2-4 minutes on each side until done. Serve on toasted English Muffins topped with Mandarin sauce (recipe below). Makes 4 servings.

Mandarin Sauce
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
1 (8 ounce) can mandarin oranges, chopped (saving the juice from the can)
1/3 cup mandarin juice, reserved from can

In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Shrimp English Muffin Sandwiches
with Chipotle Cream and Avocado
1 pound raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chipotle from a (7-ounce) can of chipotles in adobo sauce, more if you like it spicy
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lime, juiced
1 pinch of salt
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro for garnish
4 English Muffins, split and toasted

Add shrimp to a food processor and pulse until chopped. Transfer to a bowl and add egg, panko, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, onion, and basil. Mix until combined, then form mixture into 4 patties (form tightly with your hands, trying to prevent cracking). Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then cook shrimp patties until golden on each side, about 3-4 minutes. In a blender, blend together sour cream, mayonnaise, chopped chipotle, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Spread on top of toasted English Muffins, then layer with avocado and garnish with fresh cilantro, topped with a fried shrimp patty. Serve with slices of fresh mango on the side.Makes 4 shrimp MyMuffin sandwiches.

Baked Salmon English Muffin Sandwich 
with Sriracha Mayonnaise
Ingredients for salmon patties:
3/4 pound salmon fillet, cubed
3 tablespoons Thai fish Sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
3/8 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
splash sesame oil
kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Ingredients for the pickles and brine:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cup daikon, cut into matchsticks

Ingredients for the Sriracha mayonnaise:
1/4 cup Sriracha chili sauce
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger

Ingredients for the sandwich:
4 English Muffins
soy sauce
cilantro sprigs
1 cup cucumber, cut into matchsticks

Combine first 4 ingredients for pickle brine. Add carrots and daikon, cover and let pickle for 30 to 60 minutes.

Chop all ingredients for salmon patties in the bowl of a food processor until finely minced and well combined. Make 4, 3-inch salmon patties. Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Place salmon patties on a baking sheet, lined with foil, and bake in the oven approximately 25 minutes.

Mix Sriracha mayonnaise ingredients together, tasting as you go so that the sauce is spicy enough to your taste. Toast split muffins in the oven until just beginning to brown, approximately 10 minutes. Brush the muffins with Sriracha mayonnaise and add salmon patties. Add cilantro sprigs on top. Drizzle with soy sauce and add pickles and cucumber matchsticks. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Spicy Grilled English Muffin 'Spam' Sandwich
Ingredients for Spam burger:
24 ounces freshly ground beef chuck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 1/4-inch slices of Spam
4 slices fresh pineapple, about the same size as a Spam slice
8 slices Swiss cheese
4 English muffins, split

Ingredients for the Sriracha mayonnaise:
1/4 cup Sriracha chili sauce
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger

Divide meat into four even piles and shape into burger patties about 1/2-inch wider than English muffins. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

Mix Sriracha mayonnaise ingredients together, tasting as you go so that the sauce is spicy enough to your taste. Set aside.
Place burger patties directly over hot side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until well charred, about 6 minutes total. Top each grilled burger with 1 slice of cheese, then transfer to a large plate and tent with aluminum foil so the cheese will melt.

Place spam and pineapple slices on grill and cook, turning occasionally, until heated through and well charred. Place 1 slice cheese on top of each Spam patty. Transfer Spam and pineapple to cool side of grill.

Toast English muffins on grill. Place bottom buns on a cutting board. Top with a slice of grilled pineapple. Add burger/cheese patty, then top with cheese/SPAM. Top with Sriracha mayo, then close burger with top of toasted muffin. Serve immediately with Asian Coleslaw (see recipe). Makes 4 Spam burgers.

Homemade English Muffins
I know, it's a lot easier to buy them than make them, but the end result is much better homemade.

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
a pinch of sugar
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening (or butter at room temperature)
3/4 cup milk

Combine the yeast with the warm water and sugar.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the shortening. Now pour in the yeast water and milk. Stir until a dough ball forms. If you are using a stand mixer and dough hook to knead the dough, this will take about 6 minutes until the dough becomes elastic like. If you knead by hand it will probably take 8-10 minutes plus a lot of muscle. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 60-90 minutes).

Put the dough out on a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Roll each muffin into a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a little bit of cornmeal (or flour). Cover, and allow to rise for an additional hour.

Heat a cast iron skillet (or other oven safe pan) over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil. You don't want too much as our goal isn't to fry the dough, plus we don't want it to stick to the pan either. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. You want each side to get very brown, but not burnt.

Once you've cooked each side put the skillet in the oven at 400°F for 10-12 minutes until the english muffins are cooked through.

If you do not have an oven safe pan, or you don't have one large enough for all the muffins, you can remove the muffins after cooking on each side to the baking sheet (still lined with parchment paper and cornmeal) and bake on there. Either way.

These are wonderful just out of the oven the day they are made. If you have leftovers, just place the cooled muffins in a Ziplock bag and seal it up. These will easily last a few days on the counter, or up to a week in the refrigerator or frozen in an airtight container for 6 months. Makes 8 English muffins.

Note: Use caution if heating in a microwave as the muffins will toughen.

Nov 1, 2014

Getting Ready For Winter In Hawaii

Believe it or not we do have winter here in Hawaii. It comes right after hurricane season. The coldest it gets here is 60 degrees or so, and the winds and rain pick up. This is a good time to look for warm comfort food recipes like soups and chowders, or bake some crusty bread to warm up the house.

Braised Cabbage and Linguica with Apples
Linguica is a Portuguese sausage. They were brought to Hawaii during the late 19th century by Portuguese immigrants. This recipe is simple to make, a wonderful blend of sweet, and savory.

small head of cabbage (1 1/2 pounds)
1 onion, halved and sliced
4 slices of bacon
1 package (19 ounces) linguica sausages, casing removed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
Braised Cabbage and Linguica with Apples
Click on photo to view larger
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup apple juice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices

Cut cabbage in half and remove the core. then cut into 1/4-inch slices; set aside. Cut onion in half and cut into 1/4-inch slices; set aside. In a large nonstick skillet, fry bacon until crispy, remove to paper towel to drain, then break bacon up into 1/4-inch bits. In one tablespoon of the fat from the bacon, cook and stir linguica over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Remove sausage pieces; set aside.

Remove all but 1 tablespoons of the remaining fat and add cabbage, onion, and caraway seeds to the same skillet with tomatoes and apple juice; cook and stir for 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cook and stir for 4 minutes longer. Now add the linguica back to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the apple slices. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes to allow everything to meld. Serve immediately garnished with bacon bits, and cornbread on the side (recipe below). Makes 4 servings.

Portuguese Bean Soup
This is a delicious hearty rustic soup/stew, the way the Portuguese would have made it.

2 ham hocks
1 10-ounce mild Portuguese sausage, thickly sliced
1 chorizo sausage, peeled and broken into pieces
1 medium onion, minced
2 quarts water (8 cups)
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 celery rib, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can whole stewed tomatoes, broken with your hands
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 to 4 cups cabbage, roughly cut
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place ham hock, sausages, onion, and water into a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour, covered. Take ham hocks out and remove the meat, roughly chop, and return to soup, discard bones. Stir in potatoes, celery, carrots, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic and vinegar. Cover, and continue simmering for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in cabbage and kidney beans, cook until the cabbage has softened, about 10 minutes. Taste, then add salt and pepper and more water if needed. Serve with a garden salad and fried bread (recipes below). Makes about 10 servings.

Maui French Onion Soup
This is one of my favorite classic soups, a rich addition to start your next dinner party whether you live on Maui or the French Riviera.

2 teaspoons olive oil
8 cups thinly vertically sliced Maui Kula onions
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry white wine
8 cups less-sodium beef broth
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
8 (1-ounce) slices French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 (1-ounce) slices Swiss cheese (Gruyère, Comte, or Emmental)
Special equipment: 8 (8- to 10-oz) flameproof soup crocks or ramekins

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in sugar, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high, and sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is golden brown. Stir in wine, and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours. Preheat broiler. Place bread in a single layer on a baking sheet; broil 2 minutes or until toasted, turning after 1 minute. Place 8 ovenproof bowls on a jelly-roll pan. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl. Divide bread evenly among bowls; top each serving with 1 cheese slice. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. Makes 8 servings.

Mustard Greens & Ham Hocks
Mustard greens show up in our farmer's market here on Moloka'i occasionally during the winter months because our Filipino community enjoy them either pickled or wrapped around pork adobo. I grew up in southern part of the U.S., and enjoy my greens cooked southern-style with ham hocks. My favorite greens are collard greens, but you don't see any of that here in Hawaii unless you grow them yourself... which I have done in the past out of desperation.

3 large bunches mustard greens, or collard greens, washed, and chopped
1 large ham hock
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

First, wash your greens well, at least 3 or 4 times in fresh water, draining them each time. Now strip the leafy part from the stems and discard them. Chop the greens into large pieces and set aside.

In a large pot, cover the ham hock with water and salt. Simmer, covered, for about 3 hours or until it is fork tender. Remove the ham hock, cool, then remove the meat with two forks. Put the meat and bone back into the pot with the cooking juices. Now add the greens. Stir over medium heat until greens start to wilt and are tender. Add more water if necessary. Some people cook mustard greens, collard greens and turnip greens all together in one pot. You can add a teaspoon of sugar in the water to sweeten the greens a little. These go well with Hawaiian chili pepper water, or hot sauce or vinegar of your choice, and sweet skillet cornbread (recipe below), or hush puppies (see recipe index). Makes 2 servings.

Iron Skillet Corn Bread
Click on photo to view larger

Iron Skillet Corn Bread
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (you can add up to 1/2 cup if you like it sweet)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons shortening or butter, melted

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, milk, and 1/4 cup shortening and beat with a wooden spoon or spatula until smooth, about 1 minute. Grease an 8 or 9-inch iron skillet (or a heavy 8-inch baking pan) with the shortening, pour in the batter, and bake in a preheated 425˚F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown on top. Bring the skillet to the table and cut into wedges to serve. Great with chili or black bean soup. Makes 6 servings.

Note: For a moist interior and a nice crisp crust, put an iron skillet two thirds filled with water on the floor of your oven before you begin to preheat it. If you prefer corn muffins, grease just the bottoms of 12 regular-size muffin cups, or place paper baking cups in muffin cups. Fill about 3/4 full with batter.

Hot Spiced Raspberry Rum Cider
12 ounces (2 2/3 cups) frozen raspberries
4 cups apple cider
4 dashes ground cinnamon
1/2 cup spiced rum (optional)
lemon twists for garnish

Set aside 8 to 12 raspberries for garnish. Place apple cider, remaining raspberries and ground cinnamon in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Heat until boiling, then let cool. Strain. Stir in spiced rum, if using.

Pour Raspberry Cider into coffee mugs. Drop in a lemon twist and garnish with 2 to 4 raspberries per mug. Makes 4 to 5 servings.