Jun 11, 2017

A Dessert Created For Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova in 'The Dying Swan', Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1905
Anna Pavlova, was considered the greatest ballerina of her time. She was a dancing sensation across America, Europe, and the UK in 1911. It is believed that at that time a dessert was created in homage to her, a light, airy dessert called 'Strawberries Pavlova'.  It was a marriage of a delicate crisp meringue, sort of like the tutu she is wearing in the photo, with a soft sweet marshmallow center. It was then served with sweetened whipped cream and topped with fresh strawberries. Other countries like Australia and New Zealand also claim to have invented this beautiful dessert, using kiwi fruit, strawberries, blue berries and other fresh fruit as a topping.

To my knowledge, Anna Pavlova never visited Hawaii, so I created a tropical version of 'Pavlova' using local Hawaiian Mango. It has a crispy meringue shell that is filled with sweetened whipped cream. It is then crowned with slices of sweet fresh mango. The whole thing is then drizzled with fresh lilikoi (passion fruit) pulp, creating a crispy sweet, yet tangy dessert that's easy to make.

Mango Pavlova
5 egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon powered sugar
3 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 6, 3-inch circles on the parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Blend the vanilla, cornstarch and lemon juice together, gently fold it into the beaten egg whites.

With a large spoon, scoop the mixture inside the circles drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, building up the edge slightly, leaving a depression in the center.

Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and let the meringues cool in the oven for at least 1 hour, but overnight is better, with the door left ajar.

In a small bowl, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form; set aside. Remove the paper, and place meringues on serving plates. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream, and top with mango slices topped with fresh passion-fruit pulp, with or without the seeds. Serve immediately!

Note: Use room temperature eggs whites that have absolutely no yolk in them when broken.

Makes 6 servings.

For more information about the history of this dessert, click here.

Jun 2, 2017

A Tropical Dessert For Mango Lovers!

Coconut Sweet Rice with Hawaiian Mango
This simple Thai dessert is made with short grain sticky rice, seasoned with sweet coconut milk and served with juicy chunks of Hawaiian mango... this will make a mango lover out of you.

Sweet Hawaiian Mango.
Click on photos to view larger
1 cup short grain white rice
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, blended well to incorporate fat, divided
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
a pinch of cinnamon
2 perfectly ripe Hawaiian mangoes (about 6 ounces), peeled, pitted, and sliced into chunks
Toasted coconut for garnish

Procedure for cooking the sticky rice:
In a large bowl, cover rice with water by several inches and let stand at room temperature for 5 hours or as much as overnight.

Drain rice and put it in a heavy saucepan and 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring water to a boil. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low, and simmer, without uncover-ing the pot. Cook until rice is tender, about 18 minutes (taste it to be sure). At this point, remove pan from heat. Uncover, place a kitchen towel over pan to keep moisture from dripping onto rice. Cover tightly with lid. Let rice stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes to firm up.

Procedure for cooking the coconut cream:
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring half the coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Whisk in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt until dissolved.

Transfer cooked rice to a large heatproof bowl and pour coconut milk mixture on top (it will look like too much liquid). Stir well to combine, cover with plastic, and let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean saucepan and add remaining coconut milk to it. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with a couple of teaspoons of the hot coconut milk and stir to form a slurry. Whisk cornstarch slurry into the remaining coconut milk, then simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cinnamon, until dissolved. Keep coconut milk warm.

When ready to serve, mound coconut rice onto plates and arrange chunks of sweet Hawaiian mango alongside. Drizzle thickened coconut milk over rice, garnished with toasted coconut. Serve at room temperature as soon as possible.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: The coconut sticky rice is made to complement the mango, not the other way around. The Hawaiian mango must be at its peak of ripeness. If the mango is tart, unripe, fibrous, or tasteless, don't bother to make this dessert.

May 24, 2017

Hawaiian Eye Candy

Locally grown Moloka'i shrimp... grilled!
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Place large fresh Hawaiian shrimp directly over a hot grill, with shells on, and cook, turning occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through and well charred, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer shrimp to a bowl with a mixture of salt, chopped garlic, chopped parsley or cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice. Toss to coat. Peel and eat!

May 22, 2017

Reef Fish in Hawaii

Scaled and gutted Moloka'i reef fish
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Naturally, Hawaii's islands are surrounded by reefs filled with 435 species of fish. The small brightly colored fish range from 3 inches to 2 feet. Oddly enough, if you go to the grocery store here on Moloka'i you will only find a handful of types of fish, like ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, onaga, ehu, opakapaka, and akule. So when a neighbor gifts you with fresh reef fish, it's a rare event, mostly because locals usually catch just enough fish to feed their families.

The fish on the left, or what's left of it, is Weke ‘a (yellow-stripe goatfish) and the red head is `äweoweo (Hawaiian Bigeye). Weke ‘a are a popular food fish here in Hawaii. There are 10 species of goatfishes native to Hawaiian reefs, but no known general Hawaiian term for all goatfish. Care should be taken not to eat the head of certain species of this fish, the brain reputedly contains toxins which cause disturbed sleep, nightmares and hallucinations. The `äweoweo, which means "glowing red", is endemic to Hawaiian waters, living under ledges and in caves, and reaches 12 inches in length. It has a delicate white flesh that is delicious.

Naturally when someone is nice enough to share their catch with you, it's important to get it cleaned for dinner as soon as possible. It's best to do this outside so the fish scales don't fly all over your kitchen. Cleaning fish is really not a pleasant thing, but if you don't do it... who will? You will need a cutting board, sharp knife, and a fish scaling tool like the one shown above. Some people just use a butter knife. You can leave the head on, but I personally don't like what I am eating starring at me, so remove the head and guts, then start the scaling process by scraping from the tail to where the head used to be. Once all of the scales are removed, rinse the fish in cold water and refrigerate in a container with crushed ice until you are ready to fry them. 

These small fish were highly esteemed in early Hawai‘i and were eaten broiled, cooked in ti leaves, raw or salted lightly for two or three days, then cooked. Personally, I like to season them lightly with salt, garlic powder, and Old Bay seasoning, then coat them with whipped egg. Finally cover the fish with corn meal and fry in a wok or deep frying pan in a canola, or peanut oil until crisp. This process is very simple and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, which leaves you with a deliciously crispy crust. Serve with thinly sliced Japanese cucumber and slivers of sweet red pepper that have been marinated in seasoned rice vinegar and salt. This simple salad is delicious with fried or heavy food. Naturally some fresh lime slices will be needed for garnish.

May 2, 2017

Fried Chicken The Way It Should Be!

Up-Country Crispy Fried Chicken
A lot has been written over the years about the best way to cook crispy fried chicken. To start with you want your chicken to have as much flavor as possible. That means buying 'organic' chicken, not over processed chickens that have been given a chlorine bath after the birds are killed to prevent bacterial buildup (salmonella). This process makes the chickens taste slimy. 

Ask your grocer for organic chickens. Kualapuu market usually sells them here on Moloka'i, but be prepared for the elevated price tag.

Another trick is to brine your chicken for several hours before cooking them. This step adds flavor and moisture to the chicken. Next, follow the steps below for crispy fried chicken the way it should be!

To read more about slimy chicken, read this report I wrote in 2014.

2 organic chickens (3 1/2 to 4 pounds each), each chicken cut into 10 pieces
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon paprika
3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Peanut oil for frying

To brine the chicken pieces, put them into a large bowl. Cover the chicken pieces with water by 1 inch; add 1 tablespoon of salt for every quart of water. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 2 2/3 cups flour, garlic salt, paprika, 2 1/2 teaspoons pepper and poultry seasoning. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs and water; add salt and the remaining flour and pepper. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then place in the bag, a few pieces at a time. Seal bag and shake to coat.

Pour oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches in a deep skillet or Dutch oven; heat to 375˚F. Working in batches of 3 to 4 pieces at a time, carefully add the chicken to the skillet, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels. (if needed keep cooked chicken in a 225˚F preheated oven to keep warm while the other chicken cooks). Serve with Flaky Golden Biscuits, Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chicken Milk Gravy, and Sweet Memphis-Style Coleslaw. Makes 8 servings.

Flaky Golden Biscuits
These biscuits are great with fried chicken. I like to add more butter with a combination of molasses and honey, but then I'm a Southern boy.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, butter
1 cup whole milk, or buttermilk if you have it

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Transfer to a food processor. Cut butter into pats and add to flour, then pulse 5 or 6 times until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. (Alternatively, cut butter into flour in the mixing bowl using a fork or a pastry cutter.) Return dough to bowl, add milk, or buttermilk, and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat it down into a rough rectangle, about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently pat it down again. Repeat. Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Gently pat out the dough some more, so that the rectangle is roughly 10 inches by 6 inches. Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps the edges of the biscuit and impedes its rise.

Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
3-5 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2-1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1/2-1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4-1/2 cup sour cream
1/4-1/2 cup whole milk
1/2-1 teaspoon salt

About 1 hour before dinner, fill a heavy 4 quart pot 2/3 full with water, add 1 teaspoon salt, the rosemary, and bring to a rolling boil (this will take 10-15 minutes). Add the potatoes. Bring the potatoes back to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Once the potatoes are boiling, they will be done in 15-20 minutes (fairly tender when pierced with a fork). Drain the potatoes, and return to the pot. Discard the rosemary, cover and return to the stove with the heat off for a few minutes so the potatoes will dry. Add garlic, white pepper, sour cream, milk, and salt, then mash with a hand masher or whip with a beater, depending on the texture you prefer (a mixer will create fine, pureed potatoes, hand-mashing will yield chunkier, denser potatoes). When mashed, cover the potatoes tightly and leave on the back burner of the stove until ready to serve (it is warm there even with the burner turned off). Makes 8-12 servings.

Chicken Milk Gravy
4 tablespoons of the oil from frying the chicken,
     plus the little brown bits in the bottom of the skillet.
1/3 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Pour the oil from the skillet, leaving 4 tablespoons of oil and fried chicken crumbles in the skillet. Blend in the flour and cook and stir over moderately low heat for about 5 minutes or until a inch rich brown roux forms. Whisk in the milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, then cook, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes or until thickened, smooth, and no raw starch taste lingers. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Pour the gravy into a heated gravy boat. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Note: This gravy recipe is also great over skillet fried pork chops.

Sweet Memphis-Style Coleslaw
1 large head green cabbage, cored and shredded (I sometimes use Napa cabbage)
2 medium-size carrots, peeled and grated
1 red bell pepper, cored seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
2 cups prepared mayonnaise
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place shredded cabbage, carrots, red pepper and onion into a large bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together all of the remaining ingredients. Pour over the vegetables and toss well to combine. Cover the coleslaw and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours for the flavors to meld. Stir again before serving. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts of coleslaw.

Apr 20, 2017

HOMINY... Chewy Little Nubs!

White Hominy from Friendly Market here on Moloka'i. Click on photo to view larger.

You might be asking yourself what the heck is Hominy? Some people don't know what Hominy is, and probably pass it by in the caned goods section of their grocery store. 

Hominy is corn, made from whole dried kernels that have been soaked in a lye or lime solution to soften the tough outer hulls. The now swollen kernels are then washed to remove the excess solution, the hull, and often the germ (that's the part of the kernel that contains the genetic information). 

Fortunately for us, we can find ready-to-eat, yellow or white hominy in cans at most grocery stores, even at Friendly Market here on Moloka'i. You probably already eat a bi-product of white Hominy and didn't even know it, ever eaten corn tortillas, or tamales? They're made from ground white Hominy that is made into masa (corn flour). If you are from the Southern part of the United States, as I am, then you know about this Southern pantry staple, but did you know that grits are also made from Hominy?

I absolutely love these chewy little nubs, because I grew up eating them. My mother used to serve Hominy to us for breakfast. She would fry up some bacon, then used the bacon grease to fry large slices of green tomatoes that had been seasoned with salt and pepper and dusted with cornmeal. Then she would sauté a can of Hominy with a little butter and serve it with fried eggs. Simple, but good! Here's another tasty breakfast recipe I found online that sounds good.

Now that I'm older, I still crave the flavor and texture of Hominy. Here are a few recipes using Hominy that I like, I hope you will like them as well.

Baked Hominy
A simple recipe designed for snacking... sort of like Corn Nuts®, except you make it.
1 (29 ounce) can of gold hominy, drained, rinsed, and dried
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon chili powder
salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Drain and rinse hominy, then pat dry with paper towels. Now add all seasonings and oil. Mix together and pour onto a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until sizzling and lightly browned. Make sure to turn them a few times during cooking.

Makes 4 to 6 servings depending how hungry you are.

Mexican Black Bean Hominy Salad
Tired of the same old salads? Try this beautiful blend of delicious ingredients for something different.

Ingredients for the salad:
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can white hominy, rinsed and drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Ingredients for the dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl combine the beans, hominy, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and jalapeño.

In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, honey, olive oil, cumin and salt. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk & Peanut Sauce
I love this recipe because of the peanut and coconut milk sauce. The Hominy adds that chewy corn flavor as well. 

4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons chopped garlic, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
4 cups chicken broth, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup drained canned chopped tomato
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger root
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 (29 ounce) can white Hominy, drained
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Place the chicken pieces in a large mixing bowl, and add the salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic, and cayenne. Use your hands to mix everything together, making sure the spices are distributed all over the chicken.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and brown on all sides, then transfer to a platter or bowl.

To the oil remaining in the pan, add the onion, bell peppers, and the remaining garlic. Sauté the vegetables for 4-5 minutes until soft.

Pour in the chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the peanut butter, tomato paste, canned tomato, thyme, ginger and coconut milk, and simmer for two minutes, stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Return the browned chicken and Hominy to the pan and cook uncovered over low heat 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the sauce thickens. Be sure and taste the sauce in case it needs addition seasoning.

Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, and serve hot, over rice. Makes 8 servings.

Hominy Tamali Pie
1 pound ground beef
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 can pitted black olives, drained
2 (15 ounce) cans yellow Hominy, drained
1 (7 3/4 ounce) can El Pato tomato sauce
1 package of Fritos lightly salted corn chips
1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add garlic, black olives, Hominy, and El Paso tomato sauce. Simmer, stirring often for about 20 minutes. 

Crush 1/2 of the corn chips and put on the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Pour meat mixture over crushed chips. Add 1/2 pound of grated cheddar cheese. Bake until bubbly at 325˚F.

Makes 4 servings.

Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts 
with Garlic & Hominy
1 pound brussels sprouts
3 large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (15 ounce) can of white Hominy, drained
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Trim Brussels sprouts and halve lengthwise.

Cut garlic into very thin slices. In a 12-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil over moderate heat and cook garlic, stirring, until pale golden. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.

Reduce heat to low and arrange sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle sprouts with a little salt to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning, until crisp-tender and undersides are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

With tongs transfer sprouts to a plate, browned sides up. Add Hominy, garlic and remaining butter to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 3 or 4 minute. Spoon mixture over sprouts and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Great served with roast chicken. Makes 4 servings.

White Bean Chili with Hominy
2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (4-ounce) Portuguese (Chourico) sausage, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or one tablespoon of dried
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15 ounce) can white hominy, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 lime wedges

Mash 2/3 cup beans with a fork.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage, and sauté for 4 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and poblanos; sauté 6 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add mashed beans, whole beans, 1 1/2 cups water, and the next 4 ingredients (through hominy). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in green onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Binatog with Honey
Binatog is a famous Filipino street food made with white Hominy, coconut, and sugar. I have substituted honey for the sugar just to make this simple dessert even better.

1 (29 ounce) can of white Hominy, drained
1 tablespoon of salted butter
4 tablespoons of honey, or sugar if you prefer
3/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Drain the Hominy and pour into a pot. Add one cup of water to the pot with the Hominy. Bring liquid to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until the Hominy becomes tender. Drain the water and pour the cooked Hominy into a serving bowl with 1 tablespoon of butter, set aside until the butter melts.

Spread the coconut in the bottom of a large skillet and toast it slightly over medium heat until golden. Stir the Hominy and butter together, then drizzle with honey or sugar if you prefer. Top with the toasted coconut and serve warm in small ramekins. Makes 4 servings.

Note: To make this simple dessert even better, put several slices of fresh mango, papaya, or pineapple centered on top.

Mar 20, 2017

The Oldest Known Tomato... Now Growing In Hawaii!

I'm talking about the "Red Currant Tomato". The Red Currant Tomato is considered a wild species of tomato native to Ecuador and Peru but naturalized elsewhere, such as the Galapagos Islands. This plant is known to botanists as Solanum pimpinellifolium, or simply "pimp." The plant, according to Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly, is the wild ancestor of all the tomatoes we eat today, and still grows wild in northern Peru and southern Ecuador.

Red Currant Tomatoes from the Moloka'i Saturday Farmers' Market
Click on photo to view larger

I had never heard of, or tasted, these little gems until my wife brought home a little bag of them last weekend from our local Saturday farmers' market here on Moloka'i. They are amazing because they are so small, no bigger than a shelled pea. You truly can't just eat one, because of the intense tomato flavor that pops into your mouth.

After doing a little research, apparently it produces hundreds of sweet fruits on a single plant within about 65 days or so after planting the seeds. It is recommended to grow them in hanging baskets because its rambling branches can grow out to as much as 8 feet long. They like direct sunlight, and will produce fruit all summer long. Currant Tomatoes are a different species from standard garden tomatoes, and have been known to readily reseed themselves and continue to grow season after season if you maintain the soil fertility and water the plants.

I also found out that Red Currant Tomatoes are an exceptional source of lycopene, a naturally occurring pigment that doubles as an antioxidant. Lycopene is known for its anti-cancer benefits, such as preventing, fighting and repairing cell damage in the human body. The tomato’s array of nutrients and antioxidants, including the especially potent lycopene that is found in its highest concentration in tomatoes, also helps support healthy eyesight, cardiovascular health, and more. 

From a culinary standpoint, Red Currant Tomatoes are essentially miniature cherry tomatoes, and are treated as such in recipes. Hence, Red Currant Tomatoes can serve as a substitute for cherry tomatoes. Seasonal recipes and ingredient pairings are best suited to showcase the Red Currant Tomato's full flavors. Consider leaving Red Currant Tomatoes whole in any application, as their attributes will be amplified. Dot Red Currant Tomatoes onto appetizers, scatter onto salads, float them on tomato-based soups, or simply freeze them for a cold summer treat. Try tossing with couscous for a simple side dish, or use them to make your own sun-dried tomato raisins. With their tangy-sweet flavor, they are considered a type apt for pickling or making preserves, such as a sweet tomato relish, and they can also be used for juicing or making sauces. Like all tomato varieties, store Red Currant Tomatoes at room temperature until ripe, after which refrigeration can prevent further ripening and decay.

Naturally I wanted to find out where to buy seeds. To my amazement I found a number of sites online. Soon I will be growing, and enjoying my own Red Current Tomatoes.

Broiled Crusty Bread Slices with Ricotta Cheese
and Red Currant Tomatoes
4 slices crusty bread (Molokai Wines & Spirits par-baked crusty bread)
1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup red current tomatoes or 1/4 cup cherry tomato halves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Lightly toast bread. Spread each toast slice with 2 tablespoons ricotta. Scatter tomatoes over the ricotta. Drizzle the toasts with a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil (1/2 teaspoon each), and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: As a variation to this recipe, replace the Ricotta cheese guacamole made with avocado, mixed with fresh lime juice, salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with tomato and chopped cilantro.

Microwave Ham & Eggs 
with Red Currant Tomatoes
6 pieces of thinly sliced sandwich ham broken into bite-size pieces
4 large eggs
1 thin slice of butter broken in half
12 red current tomatoes, or 6 cherry tomatoes cut in half
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley for garnish
1 fresh orange, peeled with sections removed

You will need 2 microwavable ramekins (I use 6-oz Pyrex custard cups). Place half of the thinly sliced sandwich ham into each ramekin. Break two eggs on top of the ham. With a fork pierce the yolk of each egg. Put a sliver of butter in the middle of each ramekin. Now sprinkle tomatoes on top. Add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Place both ramekins in your microwave oven and cook for about 2 1/2 minutes. Place ramekins on a dinner plate, garnished with orange sections. Serve with toasted English muffins spread with your favorite jam.

Makes 2 servings.

Ground Pork with Long Beans, Kabocha Squash
and Red Currant Tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons fish sauce (Patis), or to taste
1 tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce or to taste
1/2 cup water
1 whole bunch of Asian long beans, cut or broken into 2 inch pieces, about 2 cups
1 medium sized kabocha squash peeled, seeded and cut into inch-long chunks
3 cups of red currant tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half.

Heat oil in a deep sauté pan, or wok. Sauté the garlic and onions for about a 1-2 minutes. Add the ground pork and crumble the meat with a fork to prevent clumping as you brown it on medium-high heat. Season with fish sauce and chili sauce, to taste. Pour in the soy sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Cover then simmer on low heat for at least half an hour to allow the meat to absorb the flavor of the liquid. Immediately add the long beans and squash, stir and cover. Simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the beans fully cooked yet still retain some crunch. Correct the seasoning if necessary. Finally, sprinkle each plate with whole red currant tomatoes or sliced cherry tomatoes. Serve with white long grain rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Red Currant Tomato Jam, Hawaiian-Style
Click on photo to view larger

Red Currant Tomato Jam, Hawaiian-Style
This fresh savory jam makes a fantastic appetizer (pupu) when spread on your favorite cracker with creamy goat cheese, or mixed in with ahi tuna to make "Jamin Poke". Try it on burgers instead of ketchup, or as a condiment with roasted meats or grilled fish or shrimp. I even make a salad dressing out of it by adding seasoned rice vinegar and olive oil to the tomato jam. I like using red currant tomatoes because of their intense tomato flavor.

1 1/2 pounds or 4 cups of whole red currant tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Tamari sauce
2 tablespoons Korean kimchi sauce, or to taste
1 pinch of sea salt 

To make this jam: Wash tomatoes then cut in half (if using cherry tomatoes). Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat slowly to a simmer. Stir every 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking, until the tomatoes are syrupy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, avoid scorching as the jam condenses. You should end up with a thick gooey tomato jam. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Use the jam immediately or let it cool and store, covered, for up to 1 month in the refrigerator, or put the jam into sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 2 cups.

Note: You don't have to use red currant tomatoes, you can use just cherry tomatoes, or a combination of both, as long as the tomatoes have a lot of flavor. This jam will taste different depending on the tomatoes you use.

Mar 10, 2017

Chicken Thighs Good Enough For Company

Chicken so full of flavor, yet so simple... it's good enough for company. The reason it's so good is because chicken thighs are moister than white meat, plus it's marinated with a great combination of flavors. I think you will love this one!

Tasty Roast Chicken Thighs
with Asian Noodles
Available at Friendly Market
here on Molokai, or in the Asian
section of your grocery store.

Click on photo to view larger
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons Sriracha Chili Sauce
3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup Tamari sauce, or soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
8 ounce package of Chuka Soba Noodles
3 scallions, sliced, for garnish

Whisk garlic, chile sauce, ginger, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and salt in a medium bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. Place marinade and chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Turn to coat, and chill at least 3 hours, turning the bag every 1/2 hour or so.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 450°F. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess, and place, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray so you will have easier cleanup. Roast on a rack in the middle of your oven until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F, 25–30 minutes. Strain the marinade into a small pot and simmer while chicken is cooking. 

Serve chicken with Chuka Soba Asian noodles and long beans with oyster sauce on the side. Strain the juices from the baking sheet into the simmering marinade. Taste the sauce and adjust if necessary, then mix, a little at a time, with the noodles until it's the way you like it. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Makes 4 servings.

Mar 8, 2017

Quick and Easy Hawaiian Avocado Salads!

Coconut Shrimp Salad 
with Hawaiian Avocado & Cucumber
This is a beautiful salad to present and is very easy to make.

2 large Hawaiian avocados, ripe but still a little firm, 
    halved, stone removed, peeled, thickly sliced
24 large cooked Kaua'i shrimp, peeled leaving tails on, deveined
1 Japanese cucumber, cut in half lengthwise & thinly sliced into ribbons
3 tablespoons fresh Tahitian lime juice
3 teaspoons honey
3 teaspoons fish sauce, found in the Asian section of your grocery store
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, lightly toasted

To cook shrimp, simply steam or boil in salted water for about three minutes until they turn pink. Allow the shrimp to cool. Meanwhile, spread the shredded coconut in a small skillet and toast for a few minutes, on medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Remove to a plate to cool.

Divide the avocado, shrimp and cucumber among 4 Asian serving bowls.

Combine the lime juice, honey and fish sauce in a small bowl. Stir until well mixed. Drizzle the lime mixture over the salad. Top with minced cilantro and season with pepper.

Top with toasted coconut and serve cold. 

Makes 4 servings.

Spicy Hawaiian Avocado Stuffed with Tuna
This spicy salad uses the avocado skin for its bowl.

1 (12 oz) can solid white albacore tuna, drained
2 avocados, halved and pitted
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)

Use a spoon to remove the avocado flesh, being careful not to damage the outer skin, leaving plenty of avocado to form edible bowl walls. Place scooped avocado into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Drain tuna and place into mixing bowl with avocado. Add in lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, cilantro, green onions, peanuts, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

Stuff into prepared avocado bowls.
Drizzle in a criss-cross fashion with Sriracha hot chili sauce and serve. 

Makes 4 servings.

Hawaiian Avocado-Surimi Salad
with Sweet Ginger Dressing 
Imitation crab sticks are a form of kamaboko, a processed seafood made of starch and finely pulverized white fish, shaped and cured to resemble the leg meat of snow crab or Japanese spider crab. These crab sticks, called surimi here in Hawaii, are delicious, and they shred into long threads quite easily for this delicious salad.

2 avocados, halved and pitted
8 pieces of imitation crab sticks shredded into strips 
   by pulling them apart from top to bottom
1 small head of leafy lettuce, cut into thin strips, about 2 cups
1 medium Japanese cucumber, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 sheet of nori (dried seaweed) cut into thin strips 2 1/2" long for garnish

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

Procedure for dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, vinegar, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Serve over your favorite salad greens with fresh fruit, like sliced fresh pears.

Procedure for salad:
Slice avocados in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the pit. Use a spoon to remove the avocado flesh. Cut scooped avocado into cubes and squeeze one lime over the cubes to keep the avocado from turning dark. 

Shred the imitation crab sticks into strips by pulling them apart from top to bottom. Set aside.

Mix the salad dressing ingredients and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap.

Wash, peel, and cut the cucumber and carrots into thin matchstick pieces.

Toss the lettuce, cucumber and carrots in a bowl with the sweet ginger salad dressing.

Place the mixture into 4 chilled salad bowls or plates, and top with shredded imitation crab strips. Serve garnished with 5 or 6 thin nori strips on top of each bowl or plate. 

Makes 4 servings.

Avocado-Tomato Salad with Anchovies, Eggs, and Capers
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Avocado-Tomato Salad with Anchovies, Egg and Capers
Many chefs have fallen passionately in love with anchovies, which is a core reason you now come across them on so many menus across America. The combination of salty and tart anchovies and capers with hard cooked egg and creamy Hawaiian avocado is a winner... and easy to make!

2 ripe avocados, cut in half, pit removed
1 head of butter lettuce
4 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
4 hard-boiled egg, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 ounce can anchovies in olive oil
1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
lemon juice
sliced baguette, toasted

Place each avocado half on a bed of butter lettuce in the middle of a salad plate. Gently mix diced tomatoes with chopped hard-boiled eggs, salt and pepper, and capers. Fill each avocado with the mixture, then drape each with 3 anchovy fillets. Top with some chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves. Drizzle with a good quality extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice. Serve with sliced toasted crusty bread or crackers.

Makes 4 servings.

Hearts of Romaine with Cream of Avocado Salad Dressing
This is one of my favorite salad dressings poured over romaine hearts.

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed and the hearts cut in half lengthwise

In a food processor, combine the first nine ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Serve over romaine hearts. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 cups, plenty for 4 servings.

Avocado/Cucumber Salad with Celery
2 Japanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
6 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, from about 4 limes
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a sharp bias
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
2 avocados, halved, pitted and sliced

Combine cucumbers, ginger, garlic, jalapeño (if using), salt, sugar, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature, stirring every so often, until flavors are combined and mellowed, about 40 minutes.

Fish out the garlic cloves and discard. Add celery and basil and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, sugar and lime juice if desired.

Arrange avocado slices on plates and spoon salad and dressing over top.

Makes 4 servings.

For more Hawaiian avocado recipes and nutrition information, click here.

Mar 5, 2017

Pancakes Made with Aloha

Pancakes come in many forms and thicknesses, and have been around for thousands of years. I wouldn't be surprised if pancakes have been in Hawaii since the first haole (visitor) arrived here. Regardless, today Hawaiians enjoy pancakes as much as anyone else. The difference is in the aloha. So tomorrow, start your morning tasting Hawaii with:

Fluffy Hawaiian Pancakes with Fresh Mango
and Honey Sweetened Coconut Cream

Ingredients for topping:
3 large fresh ripe mango
1 cup coconut cream (I use Kara brand coconut cream from Friendly Market).
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Ingredients for fluffy pancakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 large egg yolk, plus 3 egg whites
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Peel and pit 3 fresh, ripe mango, then thinly slice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Using a fork, blend the coconut cream and honey together. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes (for a soft consistency), or up to 3 hours (for a thicker consistency).

Whisk the flour, confectioners' sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the milk, egg yolk, melted butter and vanilla in a medium bowl until combined. In a separate large bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (it's OK if there are a few lumps). Stir in one-third of the beaten egg whites, then gently fold in the rest until just combined (do not overmix).

Heat an old cast iron skillet, or whatever you prefer, over medium-low heat; lightly brush with butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake; cook until bubbles form on top and the bottom is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. (If the pancakes are browning too quickly, reduce the heat to low.) Flip and continue cooking until golden on the other side, about 1 more minute. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with more butter as necessary. Serve with fresh slices of ripe mango, topped with a dollop of honey sweetened whipped coconut cream.

Makes 12 pancakes.

Note: If you are like me and don't want to cook early in the morning until you have had that first cup of coffee, then you want a really great pre-mixed buttermilk pancake mix, (see photo above), where you just add water, try Weisenberger Mill, an old mill located on the South Elk Horn Creek in southern Scott County, Kentucky. You can order it online, and they will send it via Priority Mail if you ask. I usually buy 4, 5 pound bags that they put in a large Priority Mail box to send to Hawaii. They have many great products that I highly recommend like: banana bread mix, cornbread mix, biscuit mix, fish batter mix, gravy mix, etc.

Feb 19, 2017

On The Side

Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Green Beans
The Red and green of fresh, sweet cherry tomatoes and crisp green beans, blended with fresh basil, butter and garlic make for a beautiful and simple side dish that can be served with so many things.

1 1⁄2 pounds fresh green beans, stems removed
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1⁄4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch green beans in salted water, until tender but not overcooked. Melt butter in a skillet and add blanched green beans, garlic, sugar, basil. Stir cherry tomato halves around until barely soft and heated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Hawaiian Baked Salmon.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: These beautiful cherry tomatoes were grown and gifted to me by my friend Chato Purdy. The green beans were grown by Larry and Lina, a Filipino couple who sell their fresh produce at the Saturday Farmers Market, here on Molokai, in front of American Savings Bank. The fresh basil comes from my garden, or you can get it at Kumu Farms here on Molokai. Remember, freshness counts!

For more side dish recipes, click here.

Feb 17, 2017

Fungus Among Us!

Rehydrated Chinese Black Wood Ear Mushrooms

Black Wood Ear Mushrooms are enjoyed in China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the 
Phillippines, in Europe and Hawaii. They are also called "Black Fungus" in English and mu er (木耳) in Chinese. Mu er literally means “wood ear” in Chinese. Wood Ears take their name from the fact that they grow on the sides of decaying trees. The broad, flat shape of the mushroom makes the tree look like it has ears.

The Wood Ear Mushroom is considered a "Super Food". According to Chinese medicine practitioners, eating dried and cooked Wood Ear can have health benefits for people with high blood pressure or cancer, and can prevent coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis. It may also be effective in reducing LDL cholesterol and aortic atherosclerotic plaque.
Available at Friendly Market on Molokai
Click on photos to view larger

They have a wonderful crunchy texture when cooked, unlike the average mushroom which has a spongy texture. They don't have a strong taste once cooked, instead, they tastes like whatever sauce it’s cooked with.

In Chinese cooking, Wood Ear Mushrooms can be added to all sorts of dishes to add texture. It is one of the key ingredients in the famous moo shu pork. It’s often used in northern style noodles with gravy, and also commonly used in dumpling fillings, and soups like hot and sour soup.

Dried Black Wood Ear Mushrooms are visually striking, and make a recipe really look, and taste special. To rehydrate the mushrooms, simply boil a pot of water, soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for about 30 minutes, drain, rinse and drain again and set aside, cover and refrigerate if you're cooking them the next day. You will notice that they will almost quadruple in size once rehydrated.

Black Fungus Salad
To Americans, eating fungus sounds gross, however mushrooms are fungus, so get over it. This is a Chinese dish, served as a side salad.

1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
3 small stalks of celery, cut into thin strips
8 pieces of dried fungus, soaked in hot water until soften, about 30 minutes
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar and/or a little lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2-3 drops sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon wasabi paste (optional)

Peel and then cut young ginger into thin strips, set aside. Rinse and cut celery into strips 2 inches long. Cut or tear rehydrated fungus into bite-size pieces. Cook celery in boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes. Remove and put into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. Mix all ingredients for seasonings in a small bowl. Add the celery, fungus, ginger and garlic to the bowl, and then toss the mixture until well combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings. Note: Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Wok Fried Pork Belly with Black Mushrooms
Fresh chow fun noodles (wide rice noodles)
1 pound pork belly, without the pig skin,
    cut into thin slices
1 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, then roughly chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
2 green onions, split down the middle and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces for garnish

Heat slightly salted water in a wok, enough to cover the fresh chow fun noodles. When it comes to a boil, add the noodles and cook 2 or 3 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander in the sink. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of canola oil over the top of the noodle and toss to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Set aside.

In the same wok, sear thinly sliced pork belly in a dry wok over medium high heat until golden brown on all sides.

Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the soy sauce, black bean sauce, garlic and mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes to blend all the flavors.

Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and simmer for 5-7 minutes over medium heat. Now add the cooked chow fun noodles. Stir one last time and serve, garnished with sliced green onions. Makes 4 servings.

Note: All of the ingredients in this recipe can usually be found in the Asian section of you grocery store, or online.

For more wood ear recipes on this site, click here.

Feb 14, 2017

Luau Bloody Mary

Luau Bloody Mary
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In the United States, the Bloody Mary is a common "Hair of the dog" drink, reputed by some to cure hangovers due to its combination of a heavy vegetable base (to settle the stomach), salt (to replenish lost electrolytes) and alcohol (to relieve head and body aches). Its reputation as a restorative beverage contributes to the popularity of the Bloody Mary in the morning and early afternoon, especially with brunch.

The origin of the name Bloody Mary is unknown, however the story that I like is that of a waitress named Mary who worked at a Chicago bar called the "Bucket of Blood "named it. But nobody really knows for sure.

I have had many versions of this popular drink, with and without alcohol. Actually I think the bloody mary stands on its own without alcohol. 

It's only natural to add local ingredients to this luau drink if you live in Hawaii. Things like Tahitian lime juice, local sushi grade ahi tuna, speared on a bamboo stick with a couple of slices of pickled ginger between it and a large Kauai cooked shrimp. Topped off with a coating of Furikake on the rim of the glasses.

Here's my recipe for a Luau Bloody Mary:

Luau Bloody Mary
1/4 cup Nori Komi Furikake*
Ice cubes
2 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon fresh Tahitian lime juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce,
   or Momoya Kimchee Spicy Chili Sauce*
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 bamboo swizzle sticks
2 ounces vodka, chilled in the freezer (optional)

2 celery ribs from the heart, including leaves
2 slices of sushi grade Ahi tuna, speared on two bamboo swizzle sticks
4 slices of pickled ginger
2 large cooked and peeled Hawaii shrimp, speared on the same bamboo swizzle sticks
Dried dill

Spicy Kimchee Sauce
Rub a fresh lime wedge around the rim of 2 tall glasses. Sprinkle the Furikake on a small plate. Turn the glasses over and rub the rim of the glasses into the Furikake to coat the rim. Carefully fill the glasses with ice cubes. Combine remaining ingredients in a large jar or pitcher, stir, or shake, and pour over the ice. Garnish with the celery ribs, tuna, pickled ginger slices, and shrimp. Sprinkle with dill. Serve at once.

Makes 2 servings. 

Note: Add a splash of your favorite vodka if you must, but it's really not necessary!

*Nori Komi Furikake is made up mostly of roasted sesame seeds, dried nori seaweed, and other seasonings, found locally on Moloka'i at Friendly Market, in the Asian section.

*Tabasco sauce is traditional, but try a splash of Momoya Kimchee Spicy Chili Sauce instead. Available at Friendly Market on Moloka'i or in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

Feb 10, 2017

Tops & Bottoms

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Beets are as popular in Hawaii as anywhere else, but the difference is that we can get them year-round because of our tropical weather. They are so beautiful and really good for you. Beets are considered a superfood because of its health benefits. Beets not only lower blood pressure by helping improve blood flow, but increase a person's stamina and energy. They're packed with fiber, vitamins A, B & C, magnesium, and iron. Including beetroot in your diet can protect you from many things like hypertension, possibly Alzheimer’s, cholesterol and even dementia. Pregnant women are encouraged to include beetroots in their diet as it is a rich source of folate and iron. Beets have shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. As beets are rich in sugar, they can even act as a high-energy snack. Beet’s richness in beta carotene helps combat anemia, especially for people who do not eat meat. Beets’ color pigment has also shown signs of fighting cancer cells. In research studies, beets have also shown to fight stomach cancer cells. It contains fiber and iron and lots of antioxidants. So if you are vegetarian you should include some amount beetroot in your diet. If you are a diabetic patient, check out this site.

Beet tops are also good for you. The greens of beets are very high in lutein and zeaxanthin which are good for eye health. They are a great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin K. They also have natural fiber which helps keep you full longer, and help with digestive health. For more information about beets, check out this great site, or for a delicious recipe for Beet Green & Mushroom Frittata, click here.

Roasted Beetroot Salad 
with Egg & Mustard Dressing
9 small, trimmed and rinsed baby beets and beet tops
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced beet leaves, rinsed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
A pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Hard cooked eggs, chopped or sliced, for garnish

Heat the oven to 375˚F. Lay a large sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Scrub the trimmed beets and lay them on one end of the foil. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt. Fold the foil over the beets to make a packet and roll the edges to seal. Bake until the beets are tender, about 30 minutes. Let sit on the baking sheet until warm but not hot.

While the beets are still warm, peel them by pressing against the sides of the beets with your thumb, which loosens the skins, slice each beetroot into 4 wedges. Add the wedges to a serving bowl as you go.

Whisk together the mustard, minced garlic, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, until the dressing is emulsified.

Pour the dressing over the beets. Sprinkle in the thinly sliced beet leaves. Season generously with pepper. Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning. Let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving with chopped or sliced hard cooked egg.

Makes 4 servings.

For more beet recipes, click here. If you want 7 recipes for beetroot juice click here!

Feb 3, 2017

Pasta-Chicken Salad Minus the Mayo!

Hawaii is in love with mac salad. My guess is that this salad's origin is rooted in Europe, along with potato salad, brought here in the early 20th century by pineapple plantation managers, who were mainly of European descent.

Hawaiian potato-mac salad is usually served with most local plate lunches, and is loaded with mayonnaise. I have tasted many variations of this salad in the last 15 years, but the common denominator is mayonnaise.

It's easy to make mac salad, but it's the 'mayonnaise-laden' part that bothers me. Face it, most of us could stand to loose some weight. I don't think you want to hear this, but the fact is that one tablespoon of regular mayonnaise has about 100 calories, and 80 milligrams of sodium. This is not a healthy condiment folks! It gets worse, click on this site to learn the truth about mayonnaise.

The recipe below is loaded with good things, minus the mayo. Give it a try, I think you will like it.

Pasta-Chicken Salad with Mustard Dressing
I use chicken thighs in this recipe instead of chicken breasts. Chicken thighs have a lot more flavor, however if you would rather use the breasts... go for it. I also use bow-tie pasta (farfalle) instead of elbow pasta because it looks so festive.

This recipe is all about flavor, for example I roast a red bell pepper over a burner on my stovetop, cool, and remove the burnt skin and seeds, then chop it up, click here for more info on fire-roasted red bell peppers. Feta cheese is loaded with flavor, but you could use parmesan if you prefer. Finally the mustard dressing takes this salad over the top, enjoy!

Ingredients for Salad:
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups (16 oz.) dried bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, sauteed and sliced thin
1 large Japanese cucumber, sliced lengthwise and cut thin
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup chopped fire-roasted red bell peppers (1 whole pepper)
1 cup sliced thin and diced pepperoni (about 8 ounces)
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided in half
1 large head of leaf lettuce for garnish

Ingredients for Mustard Dressing:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 12 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water and shake until very dry. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over it and gently toss to coat.

Add the sauteed chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, peppers, salami, onions, parsley, and half the cheese, gently toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, whisk together the mustard dressing; pour it over the chilled salad and gently toss again. Sprinkle the remaining feta cheese over the top. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve in lettuce cups.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Jan 23, 2017

Wait Until You Taste These!

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Fried Apple Banana Fritters
Fried Banana Fritters are popular all over Asia. It's important to use the right banana for this dessert. The Apple Banana here in Hawaii is perfect, with a sweet/sour flavor.  In my opinion this dessert/breakfast food is much better than Hawaii's iconic malasada, which is basically a fried doughnut hole.

These fritters are crispy on the outside, filled with a ripe apple banana chunk, that is tender and moist on the inside. Using ice-cold soda water helps the batter to get crispy, but you want to make sure that you don't put too much soda water in the batter, adding it slowly as you stir, keeping it thick. It's also a good idea to drain the grease from the fritters on a paper towel after they are fried so they are not oily, and use oil that has not been used before. Then simply dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey, very simple. Wait until you've tried these!

3 ripe apple bananas, chopped into bite sized chunks
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil (to add to batter)
1/2 cup club soda (ice cold)
Canola oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
Honey for drizzling

In a large bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, corn starch, rice flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil until smooth and thick.

Now slowly add the ice cold club soda and whisk gently just until well incorporated and smooth.

In a wok, or small skillet, heat one inch of oil on medium-high heat. While waiting for the oil to come up to temperature,  325˚F, begin dipping the apple banana chunks into the batter. Using a slotted spoon, test the temperature of the oil by carefully dropping a small bit of the batter into the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the batter should begin to bubble up and lightly brown within a few seconds.

Adjust heat to medium then carefully place the battered banana chunks into the hot oil, leaving enough room in between them to turn over. Fry on each side for just about 2 or 3 minutes or so until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Repeat as necessary with remaining banana chunks. Keep the fritters warm in a 200˚F oven, this will keep them crisp.

Place warm bananas on a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey before serving, or serve with vanilla ice-cream. Makes 18 fritters depending on the size of the bananas.

Note: If you don't have self-rising flour, you can make your own by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Also make sure your baking powder is current. Check the expiration date on the box. Baking powder can lose its potency over time, which means your baked goods won't rise as they should.

For more apple banana recipes, click here.

Hawaiian Coconut Cream Pudding
Hawaiian island sweetness with a light, creamy texture that keeps you dipping your spoon back in.

Kara brand from Friendly Market
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup coconut cream, Kara brand
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

Ingredients for toppings:
Cinnamon for dusting
Toasted coconut flakes for sprinkling
Crystalized ginger, chopped
4 ounces chopped macadamia nuts, toasted, for good measure
Honey for drizzling over everything

Mix one cup of milk with the corn starch to make a slurry. Stir quickly until the cornstarch dissolves completely.

Heat the remaining 3 cups of milk, coconut cream (not coconut milk), vanilla extract, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Pour in the milk and corn starch mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Remove from stove and ladle pudding into 8 small ramekins. Cover each dish with plastic wrap and allow to come to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

To serve, remove the plastic wrap and place a small serving plate on top of each ramekin, then holding each, quickly turn it over so the cold pudding comes out of the ramekin onto the plate with a little shake. Top each serving with a dusting of cinnamon, a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes, chopped crystalized ginger, chopped and toasted mac nuts, and finally a generous drizzling of honey. Serve with hot Fried Apple Banana Fritters to really take this dessert over the top (recipe above).

Makes 8 small servings or 4 larger servings as pictured above using larger ramekins.

Note: This tropical recipe is original and was inspired by the Middle Eastern dessert known as "Malabi". There are very few traditional Hawaiian desserts, however this is similar to "Haupia", which is served at many Hawaiian luau tables.