Feb 21, 2016

GERMAN Roots In Hawai'i

After 180 years in the state, 2016 will mark the end of an era in Hawaii. The last remaining plantation is phasing out it's sugar operations due to rising production costs, foreign competition and the use of corn sweeteners in soft drinks. Hawaii's sugar industry has limped along for years on state loans, fluctuating revenues and tax breaks. Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) cultivated sugarcane on 36,000 acres in Central Maui, producing raw and specialty sugars and molasses, using state-of-the-art agronomic practices which made their fields among the highest yielding in the world. 

German cane locomotive in the mill yard of the
Kekaha Sugar Company on Kauai, 1910
The reason the Hawaiian islands population is so diverse is primarily because of the sugar industry. The Reciprocity Treaty of 1876 allowed Hawaiian sugar to enter the United States completely free of tariff duties. This economic incentive caused a growth in the number of sugar plantations and a need for more labor including Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Portuguese, African Americans, and German immigrants. 

Sugar production was a major source of employment for native Hawaiians as well. In 1873, more than half of the native male population was engaged in cultivating sugar. Women were employed stripping, grinding, and boiling cane and were paid half the wages of male natives.

In 1881, 124 German immigrants arrived on the Lihu'e Plantation, on the west side of KauaiThey rose quickly from the ranks of sugar workers, becoming machinists, engineers and managers. These Germans were known for their discipline, leadership, and technical skills. They were builders and tool and dye makers who helped to construct sugar mills in Hawaii.
Rudolph Meyer

Several Germans were visionary sugar growers who brought the industry to a prosperous maturity. One of those Germans was Rudolph Wilhelm Meyer, who operated a small sugar mill from 1876-1889, on the island of Moloka'i. He was the first on Moloka'i to grow and mill sugar and coffee commercially and he exported these to Honolulu and California. While on Moloka'i Meyer met a young Hawaiian High Chieftess, Kalama Dorcas Waha, who became his wife on March 20, 1851; she was 18 years old. As a foreigner marrying a citizen of the kingdom of Hawaii, Meyer was required to post a $1000 bond before he could obtain permission to marry. He soon became a citizen of the kingdom on July 21, 1851. Eventually, King Kamehameha V hired the Meyer family to manage a vast ranch on the western end of the island called Moloka'i Ranch.

These Germans formed a strong community in Hawaii, building their own churches, and schools. The German language was spoken and taught for many years. German was one of just two foreign languages offered when the University of Hawai'i was established in 1908.

King David Kalakaua
The last reigning king
of the Kingdom 
of Hawaii
The German presence and influence was so strong in the 19th-century that King Kalakaua often appeared in the uniform of a German cavalry general. Princess Ka'iulani was sent to Germany to perfect her German, and Queen Lili'uokalani took German lessons in I'olani Palace. Many of the German people married Hawaiians and it is not uncommon in the Islands to meet Polynesian-looking people with German names like Meyer, Brandt, Smith and Hanneman.

World War I proved catastrophic for the Germans in Hawai'i who with the entry of the United States into the war, had become enemy aliens overnight. Many left for the mainland, others stayed but often anglicized their names.

German Americans established the first kindergartens in the United States, introduced the Christmas tree tradition, and most likely originated popular American foods such as hot dogs and hamburgers. The first meat grinder was invented in the early 19th century by the German engineer Karl Drais. The machine made it possible for minced meat to be sold at market in large quantities at reasonable prices. It is very likely that this meat grinder contributed to the birth of hotdogs and hamburgers in this country.

Hawaii has one of the richest culinary heritages in the United States. You would think that the German people would have left their mark on Hawaii's cuisine, however I haven't found much to prove German's culinary contribution to Hawaii's mixed plate... except for possibly pretzels. 

German immigrants certainly brought pretzels with them when they began settling in Hawaii. The Germans have been eating pretzels since the Middle Ages. The first pretzels were baked as a soft, squishy bread, like the soft pretzels of today. Some say they were originally called "bracellae," the Latin term for "little arms," from which Germans later derived the word "Bretzel." Hawaii is very fond of pretzels, with pretzel shops all over the state. Here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, soft homemade pretzels are served at Coffees of Hawaii, with a lilikoi (passion fruit) glaze, drizzled over the top. Here's a good recipe for Soft Pretzels, which are very easy to make, and delicious.

Here are a few of my favorite German recipes:

A Golden German Pancake 
with Mango & Powered Sugar
This is one of the simplest breakfast dishes to prepare and very impressive to serve. A German Pancake is a cross between a soufflé and an omelet - it is a light, airy pancake with sides. The sides of the pancake rise high above the edges of the pan, creating a light, puffy crust with a tender, custard-like middle. It makes a nice change from regular griddle cakes for breakfast. I like to serve it with powdered sugar, fresh Hawaiian mango, or mango jam and honey.

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Powdered sugar, mango jam and honey, for serving

Preheat oven to 425˚F and arrange a rack in the middle. In a medium bowl, lightly beat flour, milk, eggs, nutmeg, and salt until just combined. Batter should be slightly lumpy, be careful not to over-mix to keep the pancake light and fluffy.

Melt butter in a preheated 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the melted butter around the skillet to coat the bottom and sides. Add all of the flour mixture and transfer to oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until pancake is puffy and deep golden brown.

Remove the pancake from the oven and sprinkle with lemon juice. Slice and serve immediately with powdered sugar, sliced fresh ripe mango, when in season, or mango jam and honey. Makes 4 servings.

Note: If you can't get fresh mango, use marinated berries or glazed apples and pears, or whatever is fresh and sweet.

German Düsseldorf-Style  Mustard
Click on photo to view larger
If you like hot mustard as much as I do, then you will like a hot German mustard called Düsseldorf-style: Brown in color, thick and sturdy in texture, and very hot and intense. The ideal mustard for German/Eastern European sausages, bratwurst, and the like. 

I also use it to make a lively mustard butter to spread on grilled steak, pork chops, or fish by blending 2 tablespoons of Düsseldorf-style mustard with 1/2 pound of butter. Or mix the mustard and butter with a bit of apricot jam for a great condiment for cold cuts or as a coating for baked ham. Or combine 1/4 cup of this mustard/apricot mixture with 1/2 cup brown sugar and a bit of orange juice to make a paste for baked ham or pork roast. To purchase Inglehoffer Extra Hot Horseradish Mustard, click here.

German-Style Potato Salad
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 slices slab bacon, cut into small dice
3 fresh shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon Colman's original dry mustard powder
1/2 cup prepared chicken bouillon or broth
8 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a medium sauté pan, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and cook bacon over medium heat until soft. Add shallots and cook until transparent.

Remove pan from heat; stir in vinegar. Add parsley, mustard powder, chicken bouillon, and sea salt and freshly ground whole black peppercorns to taste.

Boil potatoes until done but firm; drain. Add vinegar mixture to warm potatoes in a large bowl. Toss well and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and mix well again. Adjust seasoning; serve at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.

Beef Rouladen with Pan Gravy
I love this recipe. Roulade of Beef is basically thinly sliced beef that is coated on one side with mustard, then a slice of bacon and dill pickle are placed over the mustard. The beef is wrapped around the pickle, bacon and mustard and the whole thing is seared, then slowly braised in beef stock, making a delicious pan gravy. It's easy to make and is wonderful served with mashed potatoes.

4 large, sweet onions, sliced
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 pounds beef top round, cut into 1/4-inch thick by 8-inch long slices, pounded until tender
Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard or Düsseldorf-Style Mustard
sea salt
whole black peppercorns, freshly ground
1 pound hickory-smoked sliced bacon
1/4 cup oil
3 cups beef stock (reserve 3 tablespoons for cornstarch mixture)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Dill pickle slices
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Additional chopped parsley for garnish

Caramelize onions in 3 tablespoons oil; set aside to cool. Place pounded slices of beef on cutting board and work with them one at a time.

Season each beef slice with mustard, sea salt and pepper to taste. Line each piece with 1 slice of bacon, 1 tablespoon caramelized onions and 1 slice of pickle. Roll the beef around the filling, folding in the sides until it becomes a bundle. Tie each bundle with string in 2 places to secure; set aside. Repeat until all meat slices are used. (Reserve any leftover onions to later place in the sauce.)

Heat large, heavy, stainless-steel skillet over medium heat for 1 minute; add 1/4 cup oil. Increase heat to high; add some of beef bundles without covering entire surface of pan. Sear bundles until golden on each side; remove from pan to plate. Repeat until all bundles are seared.

Take 3 tablespoons out of the 3 cups beef stock; refrigerate for later. Reduce heat to low in skillet; add remaining beef stock. Return all beef bundles to the skillet; add 1 teaspoon parsley and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bundles to serving platter; remove string.

Stir cornstarch and reserved 3 tablespoons beef stock in cup; stir into skillet to thicken pan juices. Bring to low boil; cook, stirring constantly until thick and glossy, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Ladle gravy over rouladen and garnish with additional chopped parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Braised Red Cabbage
Braised red cabbage is really wonderful served with sausages and potatoes.

2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter
2 small heads red cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 large tart apple, such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into 8 pieces
1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Heat a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon grease and heat. Add the cabbage, onions and apples and stir to coat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until cabbage is tender, about 40 minutes. (If there is too much liquid, remove the lid and allow some to evaporate. The cabbage should be very moist, but not soupy.)

Serve immediately or keep warm over low heat. Makes 8 servings.

Gingerbread with Chocolate Chunks
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark German beer (such as Becks or Warsteiner Premium Dunkel)
1 cup molasses
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for coating pan
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 (3 1/2-ounce) bar dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) finely chopped crystallized ginger
Confectioners’ sugar to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Generously butter a 10-cup Bundt pan, dust with flour, and shake out excess.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together the dark German beer, molasses and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine butter, sugar and egg in a large bowl and beat at medium speed with a mixer for 2 minutes, or until mixture is light and fluffy. In 3 additions, alternately beat in flour mixture and beer mixture at low speed until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate and crystallized ginger. Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing top of batter.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Dust cake with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Makes 12 servings.

Feb 11, 2016


I'm a pork lover, always have been and always will be. I'm in good company, because Hawaiians also love pork as much as I do. Three of my favorite pork recipes are Roast Pork Belly, Pork Ribs using my Pork Rib Rub, and Rosemary Pork Rib Roast with Mustard Gravy

One of my favorite cuts of pork is pork tenderloin, because it's tender, with no fat, and it couldn't be easier to cook. I usually buy two of them so I can have leftovers to use in Potluck Fried Rice or Stir-Fried Pork with Ginger and Napa Cabbage, but my favorite is to make chopped pork tenderloin sandwiches topped with my "Memphis-Style" Hawaii Barbecue Sauce, then piled high with my Sweet Memphis-Style Coleslaw (see photo below).

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Brown Sugar

There are many ways to cook pork tenderloin, but let's talk about how easy it is to just roast it. I think pork tenderloin needs a little extra flavor. Sometimes I will marinate the tenderloin overnight in a zip-loc freezer bag with soy sauce, fresh ginger, and sesame oil. Other times I will make Sweet and Savory Roast Pork Tenderloin with honey and oyster sauce. But here is a simple way to prepare pork tenderloin by giving it a rub made up of salt and pepper to taste, with a tablespoon of brown sugar. The salt and pepper seasons the pork, while the brown sugar gives the pork a chance to caramelize a little while in the oven, giving it that burnt sugar crust. Naturally you can add other herbs and spices to the rub depending on your taste. Sometimes I'll add chopped rosemary and minced fresh garlic to the dry rub.

Chopped Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
with Sweet Memphis-Style Coleslaw

Click on photo to view larger
After you have given the pork tenderloin a flavor rubdown, grab a large, heavy oven-proof skillet. I use a cast iron skillet that I have had for many years, and is essential in my kitchen. Put the skillet on a burner that has been turned up to medium-high heat, swirl in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When the oil gets hot, carefully add the seasoned tenderloin. Sear the meat, turning every 2 minutes or so until it's browned on all sides, for a total of about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400˚F. Place the hot skillet, with the browned tenderloin, on the center rack of the oven after it has come up to temperature. Roast the meat for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning it over halfway through cooking, until the tenderloin reaches 140˚F with a meat thermometer inserted into its middle, or until the juices run clear when poked with a knife. At that point, remove the skillet from the oven (you don't want to overcook it because it will get dry), and place the tenderloin on a cutting board. Cover with foil and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing it across the grain into 1/4 inch ready-to-eat medallions. Serve with brown rice or sweet potato steak fries, steamed asparagus drizzled with lime juice and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. 

A one pound pork tenderloin will easily serve 2 people.

Feb 6, 2016

Valentine's Day In Hawaii

Sunday, February 14, 2016 is Valentine's Day, so why not make it special for you and that significant other. Prepare him or her a romantic dinner for four, that way you can invite your best friends over to enjoy the meal...
as long as they bring the wine.

Chef's Shooters
Start this meal out with my Chef's Shooter, sort of like a short bloody mary with a surprise at the bottom. Be careful, oysters are thought to be an aphrodisiac... bottoms up!

4 small freshly shucked raw oysters with juice (liquor)*
4 ounces of V8 Vegetable Juice
4 ounces ice cold high-quality vodka, I like "Tito's" from Texas**
Hawaiian chili pepper water, or Tabasco sauce
fresh-squeezed lime juice

* If you can't find small oysters, cut oysters into smaller pieces that are easy to swallow.
** By chilling the vodka in your freezer, it acquires a thick, silky texture.

Place oyster and its liquor (juice) in bottom of a chilled martini or shot glass (any small glass may be used). Pour in V8 Vegetable Juice, then Vodka; add a splash of hot Sauce and lime juice. Drink as a shot, allowing oyster to slide down your throat, try not to chew. Makes 4 oyster shooters.

Chinese Cold Asparagus Salad
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimed, cut into thirds at a slight angle, and left to soak in water for 15 minutes
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil (or less, to taste)
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed but whole

Roasted sesame seeds for garnish

Drain the asparagus. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and put the asparagus in for just one minute. Drain and run under cold water. Drain again. Leave in a colander.

Mix the rest of the ingredients for the dressing. Just before serving, put the asparagus into a bowl. Remove the garlic from the dressing and toss the dressing with the asparagus. Serve garnished with sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Serve with a chilled white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or a nice Riesling.

Steak with Oyster Sauce
4 (12 ounce) New York strip steaks
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Press the black pepper into the top of each steak. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet. Cook the steaks over high heat on each side until lightly caramelized. Remove the steaks and keep warm.

Add the oyster sauce to the pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter, cut into small pieces. The sauce will get creamy. Slice the steaks thickly on the bias, or leave whole. Pour the sauce over the top. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Serve with a bold and high tannin red wine such as Petite Sirah or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mushrooms with Garlic & Rosemary
Serve alongside sliced New York strip steaks.

16 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add garlic to the butter and sauté until the butter is infused with the garlic. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Once the mushrooms start to soften, add the fresh rosemary to the skillet and continue to sauté. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are tender. If they release a lot of liquid, turn the heat up to high until the liquid evaporates. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and serve with sliced New York strip steaks. Makes 4 servings.

Baked Portuguese Potatoes
3 cups water
1 or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pound of chorizo (spanish pork sausage)

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Pour water into a roasting pan. Add vinegar to taste. The water should have just a hint of vinegary taste. Sprinkle paprika over the water and mix, removing the lumps. Add salt, pepper, onion, tomato, parsley and potatoes. Remove the casing from the chorizo and break apart the meat, add to other ingredients. Bake for 2 hours. Do not cover potatoes because they will steam and not roast. The potatoes will have a nice red color when they are done. Makes 6 servings.

Fresh Maui Strawberries with 
Homemade Chocolate Sauce
Sweet Maui strawberries grown & packed by
Noel Escobedo Farm.

Click on photo to view larger. 
Homemade chocolate sauce couldn't be easier to make and is much better than store-bought. Great over vanilla ice-cream, or make a large batch and dip fresh Maui strawberries into the sauce.

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or pure chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup heavy cream (no substitutions)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 large fresh Maui strawberries

Pour the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Set aside. Combine the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and pour immediately over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Makes about 1 cup, enough for dipping 16 large fresh strawberries.

Note: Serve with a dessert wine like Vintage Port or Madeira from Portugal, or sweeter versions of sherry from Spain. These wines bring a natural sweetness, balanced by fresh acidity, to help keep up with the sweetness of the chocolate sauce.