Sep 28, 2017

Roast Duck For Two

When you're cooking for one or two people you obviously cook smaller amounts than you would for a larger group. The other day I noticed Friendly Market had half ducks in the meat department. This is a perfect size for two people for a special occasion, or just because you deserve to treat yourself. 

I already have a great recipe for cooking a whole duck with a honey glaze, so I adjusted the recipe for half a duck, and here it is. Hopefully you will be able to find half a duck at your market, if not, defrost a whole one and cut it in half lengthwise with kitchen shears, re-freeze one of the halves and roast the other.

Honey Glazed Half Roast Duck For Two
Half a duck from Friendly Market
Click on photo to view larger
1/2 duck (at least 2 pounds)
2 cups boiling-hot water
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

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

Remove duck from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before roasting.

Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 425˚F.

Rinse duck half and tuck wing tip under bird, or remove the wing as I did. Score skin with a knife, in a criss-cross pattern, then prick skin all over with a sharp fork. Mix salt, pepper and ginger and rub the duck all over with it. Put duck, skin side up, on a rack in a 13 x 9 x 3-inch roasting pan. Pour boiling water into pan. Roast duck for 45 minutes, then turn the duck over and cook for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, combine and simmer glaze, stirring until it gets thick and syrupy. Glaze duck all over (inside and out) with a basting brush, then continue to roast duck, skin side up, until it is a beautiful mahogany color, about 15 minutes more (total roasting time: about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180˚F). Transfer duck to a cutting board, cover with foil, and let rest 15 minutes before carving. Discard liquid in roasting pan. Serve duck with a nice red wine like pinot noir. 

Makes 2 servings.

Note: Allow at least 1 pound of duck per person, as there is a rather large ratio of fat and bone to meat. If the duck comes with giblets, freeze them for stock later.

Sep 22, 2017

Pork Tenderloin Chipotle

Grilled Pork Tenderloin
1 whole pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped

Place the lime zest, lime juice, honey, soy sauce, and garlic in a small 1-gallon resealable bag, add the chipotle peppers with the sauce, and squeeze peppers to combine.

Add the pork tenderloin to the bag and seal, removing as much air as possible and place in a container to catch any leaks. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, rotating the bag a couple of times.

Light grill and bring to medium-high heat, about 450˚F. Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Remove the tenderloin from the bag and place in the center of grate. Discard bag with marinade. Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, turning every few minutes, until the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 140˚F.

Remove the tenderloin from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and slice. Garnish with chopped cilantro, Italian parsley leaves, or minced green onion tops.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Note: If you don't want to grill the pork tenderloin, you can cook it in the oven by searing it in a oven-safe skillet first (like the cast iron skillet in the photo above) over medium-high heat, then finish off in a 425˚F oven for about 15 minutes.

Sep 15, 2017

Tender & Delicious Pot Roast

I like to give myself a little challenge in the kitchen, like taking a tough and affordable piece of meat, like a chuck roast or chuck steak, and braise it until it is meltingly tender and full of rich, beef flavor. 
A chuck steak is the same as a chuck roast except it is cut into 1- to 3-inch slices. Here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, we seem to see chuck steak more often than chuck roast, so that's what we are using in this recipe.
"Today's Special"... Chuck Steak!
Click on photo to view larger

The trick is to cook either the roast or steak low and slow with lots of flavors all around it. After 3 hours of cooking, add vegetables under the meat and keep cooking in the oven with the lid on until they're tender (about 40 minutes).

The other thing we do here during the summer months is to try not to heat up the house with a 3 1/2 hour oven on, unless we have trade winds to cool us off.

The Pot Roast Challenge
2 or 3 tablespoons Canola oil
3 pound chuck steak
Salt and black pepper
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups of beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup good red wine, like Burgundy
2 dried bay leaves, left whole
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Cornstarch to thicken the sauce

Heat oven to 325˚F and arrange a rack in the lower third.

In a Dutch oven or large, high sided skillet with a lid, heat canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sprinkle roast all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place in pot, and brown on all sides for about 15 minutes.

Remove the roast from the pot and set it aside while you sauté the onions and garlic in the remaining oil. Then add the beef or chicken broth, wine, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning. Stir in tomato paste. Bring to a simmer, return the meat to the pot and cover; put the pot in the oven, and roast for 3 hours, flipping the roast every hour, until the beef is fork tender, about 3 hours total. Lift up the roast and add the cut carrots and potatoes to the sauce, and lay the meat on top of the vegetables. Continue cooking in the oven with the lid on until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.

Carefully transfer the roast to a cutting board, and the carrots, and potatoes to a platter. With a spoon, skim the fat off the surface of the cooking liquid. Slice the roast, and serve with the vegetables. At this point I like to quickly thicken the pan juices.

To thicken the sauce, for each cup of sauce in the pot... in a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of cold water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch, then stir it into the simmering sauce until it thickens. Naturally you should always taste everything before serving. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve with your favorite crusty bread or Classic Biscuits.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sep 14, 2017

The First Step Before Roasting Chicken

I love roast chicken, but I have learned that you need to brine your chicken first. If you do, the bird will be juicy and flavorful, not dry. A brine is a solution that basically consists of water, salt, and sugar. 

Salt in the brine not only seasons the meat, but also promotes a change in its protein structure, reducing its overall toughness and creating gaps that fill up with water and keep the meat juicy and flavorful. It's worth the time to go through this easy step before cooking the bird.

1 whole rotisserie chicken, about 4 pounds (see "Note" below)

Ingredients for the brining solution:
4 cups cold water or more if needed to cover the chicken
1/4 cup regular table salt
2/3 cup light brown sugar

Mix brine together.

Chicken brining in a Ziploc bag
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I like to use a heavy duty, gallon size Ziploc bag to brine each chicken, but if you don’t have one, you can use any bowl or pot big enough to hold the chicken and brine. Place a plate on top of the chicken so it is submerged in the solution for 2 hours or up to overnight. Cover and store in the refrigerator. 

When ready, remove the chicken from the brine and rinse chicken well. You are now ready to roast the chicken.

To roast a whole chicken, preheat oven to 400˚F. 

Dry chicken with paper towels. Rub it with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a roasting pan with a rack. Roast chicken until the internal temperature reaches 170˚F which will take about 1 1/2 hours. You need to check on the chicken after about an hour of cooking to make sure that the skin is not turning too dark. If it is, place a sheet of foil loosely over the chicken. Check again every 15 minutes until its internal temperature reaches 170˚F. Let rest for 15 minutes, covered with foil, before carving. 

Makes 6 servings.

Note: Please read the story I wrote in 2014 about "Slimy Chickens" which explains why we need to buy free-range chickens processed without chemicals.

Sep 5, 2017

Put some heat in your SALSA!

Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Fire Roasted Chipotle Tomato Salsa
This tomato salsa is all about fire roasting vine ripened tomatoes and blending them with canned chipotle peppers for spice and flavor. Everyone likes their salsa seasoned differently, some like it spicy and others don't, so adjust this recipe to your taste if you like. Do Hawaiians eat salsa? You bet, ever heard of Paniolos? Hawaiian cowboys.

6 fresh tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), cored and cut into quarters
1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (depending on your heat tolerance)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Tortilla chips for serving

Preheat broiler on high. Place tomato quarters on a broiler-proof sheet pan, skin side up. Broil on top shelf of oven for 15 minutes, turning pan once half way through cooking until tomatoes are charred on top. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and dispose of the charred skins. Cut tomato quarters in half. At this point you can freeze the tomatoes until you are ready to make the salsa.

When you are ready to make the salsa, defrost the tomatoes and set aside. Add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse a couple of times until combined but still chunky, then gently stir in the roasted tomatoes. Give it a taste to check for seasoning.

Make the salsa several hours before serving, as it will give the flavors a chance to meld. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Serve with tortilla chips, or serve heated over slices of roasted fish or charbroiled shrimp.

Makes about 2 cups.

Note: Friendly Market sometimes carries chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and so does Molokai Wines & Spirits, which is where I buy it. You can freeze any leftover chipotle peppers to use next time.

Sep 3, 2017

Potluck Salad For 12

Ironwood Hills Golf Course, Moloka'i Hawaii
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Potluck Taco Salad
I made this salad yesterday to feed my friends after a golf tournament at Ironwood Hills Golf Club here on Moloka'i. This salad is a meal in itself, full of good things. My golf game wasn't that great but everyone seemed to really like this salad. This is a crowd pleaser for any potluck meal.

1 pound ground beef (ground round)
package Old El Paso taco seasoning mix
1 large head each napa cabbage and iceberg lettuce, shredded thin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 tomatoes, diced
1 (15 ounce) can of corn, drained
6 green onions, thinly sliced on an angle
(15 ounce) can black beans, drained
(15 ounce) can large black olives, sliced in half
1 cup pepper-jack cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
(16 ounce) bottle Kraft Catalina dressing
1 lime, juiced (this is to cut some of the sweetness from the dressing)
(14 1/2 ounce) bag nacho-flavored tortilla chips, crumbled

Brown ground beef, drain grease, adding taco seasoning and following directions on package. Chill for at least an hour. When ground beef is cold, place in a large bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Mix well and serve.

Sorry I don't have a photo of this beautiful salad. I took all of the ingredients with me in a cooler filled with frozen gel packs and put the salad together in a large bowl on the back tailgate of my pickup. These guys were hungry and wiped it out before I could photograph it... next time I'll try and take a picture.

Makes 12 servings.

Aug 4, 2017

Thumbprint Shortbread Cookies with Liliko'i Butter

Thumbprint Shortbread Cookies with Liliko'i Butter 
Ingredients for liliko'i butter:
Fresh liliko'i from Moloka'i
Click on photos to view larger
3/4 cup liliko'i pulp (about 15 liliko'i,
  seeds removed)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Ingredients for cookies:
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup of powdered sugar for garnish

Procedure for lilikoi butter:
Cut liliko'i in half and remove the seeds and pulp to a blender. Pulse 5 times to separate the seeds from the pulp. Strain the pulp into a measuring cup to the level of 3/4 cup, discarding seeds. Heat the liliko'i pulp, and sugar, in a small pot. In a small bowl, like a ramekin, combine the cornstarch and the water. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the liliko'i mixture and mix using a wooden spoon. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it starts boiling and thickening, remove it from the heat.

Now place the egg yolk in a ramekin or small bowl and stir with a fork. Now gently pour 1/3 of the egg yolk into the warm liliko'i mixture  and mix vigorously. Place the rest of the yolk into the liliko'i butter and mix. Cover with the pot lid and place into the refrigerator to completely cool, about 1 hour.

Procedure for shortbread cookies:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix all of the ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer and mix until combined. Take 1 level tablespoon of dough and press it into a little balls, repeat this process, then place them separately on the lined cookie sheet (the dough will not rise so you don't have to leave a lot of space between cookies). Cup your fingers around each dough ball and with your thumb, make a deep indentation in the middle of each ball of cookie dough, being careful not to push through to the bottom. Spoon cooled liliko'i butter in the middle of each thumb hole. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven. Let the cookies cool completely on a rack, then garnish with powdered sugar before serving.

Makes 32 small cookies.

Jul 28, 2017

When The Summer Wind Blows

Lilikoi from our Molokai Farmers Market
every Saturday in Kaunakakai.

Click on photo to view larger.
I first experienced passion fruit in Bora Bora many years ago. Hotel Bora Bora served purple passion fruit, cut in half, as part of a breakfast buffet. It was very strange because you ate the tart pulp, seeds an all. It was delicious and unforgettable. 

Years later I moved to the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i and again I rediscover passion fruit, but it was yellow and had an Hawaiian name,  'liliko'i'. For years now it has become one of my favorite things to have with breakfast... when in season. The season is in the summer, July, August, and September, when it is hot and humid. 

I have been seeing them for sale at our local farmers market lately and have wondered if travelers to this lonely island know what a treat liliko'i is. Fortunately for me, they happen to grow wild in a vacant lot next to my house. Long vines covered with this wonderful fruit that falls to the ground 'when the summer wind blows'.

I have learned that if you remove the pulp of the liliko'i with a spoon, then gently pulse it in a blender about 5 times, you can loosen the pulp from the seeds and remove the seeds with a strainer. Then you can freeze the pulp in ice trays, put the cubes in freezer bags to use when the fruit is no longer in season. That's how good this flavor is in recipes, especially desserts. Hawaii is famous for lilikoi butter, which is actually a curd made with liliko'i pulp, butter, honey, and eggs. I have written many other recipes using liliko'i, which you will find on this site, here's a new one:

Hawaiian Liliko'i Ice Cream
Liliko'i Flower
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This is a thick, creamy ice cream that is more suited for adults than children because it's not overly sweet, but full of liliko'i flavor. You only need to serve a couple of scoops of this rich tropical dessert, then drizzle it with honey. Serve with a delicate cookie like my 'Ono Hawaiian Lace Cookies'

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups liliko'i pulp (without seeds) or 27 lilikoi
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup white sugar
honey for drizzling

Special Equipment: an ice cream maker

Procedure to make the ice cream:
Cut each liliko'i in half at the equator and scoop the pulp, with seeds, into a blender and gently pulse about 5 times to remove the pulp from the seeds. Strain the mixture, remove and discard the seeds, saving the 1 1/2 cups of pulp for the ice cream.
I have been using this small
ice cream maker for years,
made by Cuisinart.
It's an excellent product!
$47.73 at

Mix together the condensed milk with the seedless liliko'i pulp.

In another bowl, whip the cream with a hand help mixer for 3 minutes until peaks form, Then turn the speed to low and add the condensed milk/liliko'i pulp mixture and sugar. Mix just until combined.

Immediately spoon the mixture into your ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer's instructions. After about a half an hour the cream gets thick. Transfer the ice cream into air-tight containers and freeze solid for at least 4 hours. This is a very rich dessert that is not too sweet. I like to drizzle honey over the top and Serve it with a cookie like my 'Ono Hawaiian Lace Cookies'. You won't believe how good this recipe is!

Makes 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream, enough for about 6 servings.

Note: If you can't get fresh liliko'i where you live, try this product available at and on ebay. It is basically the same thing as liliko'i pulp, without the seeds, and the work. If you read the comments that people have written on Amazon you might want to try it. 

Cost: $9.90 for one 16.9 fluid ounces, or two bottles for $13.47. That's a bargain!

Jul 24, 2017

Fish Sauce

Dipping Sauce made with fish sauce,
pickled ginger, and Asian chili oil

Click on photo to view larger
I'm a big fan of Southeast Asian food, especially sauces like Tamari sauce, oyster sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil, and fish sauce. Fish sauce is sometimes made from different species of fish, but generally it's made from just anchovies, salt, and water, then fermented in wooden barrels. Fermenting gives this simple sauce a wonderful nutty, rich and savory flavor. In Vietnam, fish sauce can be sour and spicy when lime juice and chili peppers are added. Southeast Asians usually use fish sauce as a cooking sauce, or as a dipping sauce, instead of salt.

Fish sauce was also used in ancient Greece cuisine and in Classical Roman cooking. It is believed to be the precursor to soy sauce. Worcestershire sauce, is a related product because it is fermented and contains anchovies. As a matter of fact, the first ketchup recipe appeared in print in Eliza Smith's 1758 cookbook 'The Complete Housewife'. The recipe called for anchovies, cloves, ginger and pepper. Eventually tomatoes were added to ketchup here in the U.S.

I've been cooking for a long time and have come to love fish sauce as a complex flavor additive to enhance many different recipes, not just Asian recipes, so I always have a bottle in my kitchen. My favorite is a Vietnamese fish sauce called 'Red Boat 40˚ N, which does not contain added water, preservatives or MSG. It has a light amber color, not fishy tasting or too salty. For more information about this amazing sauce, plus great recipes, check out their website. This sauce is also available on

Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

Filipino Chicken Afritada
This is a Spanish-inspired, everyday stew served in Filipino households using fish sauce. Fish sauce or “Patis” is a commonly used ingredient in Filipino cooking. One of the top Filipino brands of fish sauce is 'Pufina', which can be purchased on Amazon. This dish should take about an hour to cook plus about 10 minutes of prep time.

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds whole boneless chicken thighs, each cut into 2 pieces each
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 14-ounce can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot, cut into bite size pieces
2 medium potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup frozen green peas
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar, or to taste
salt and black pepper to taste

Add oil to a large pot. Heat on medium high heat. Add chicken pieces and saute until it is nice and golden brown. Add garlic, and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until they are just starting to brown. Now add pineapple juice and the chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the tomato sauce and fish sauce. Now add the bay leaves, carrots, potatoes, green peas, and red bell pepper. Season with sugar, salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer another 5 or 10 minutes until vegetables are just tender. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve over steamed rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings depending on how hungry you are.

Note: Although this dish is traditionally cooked with the ingredients listed above, feel free to add other vegetables if you like, such as whole okra, yellow squash, celery, or zucchini.

Thai Beef with Broccoli 
in Oyster Sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound boneless beef roast, thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
1/4 pound broccoli floret, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup water

Heat oil in deep, heavy skillet or wok over medium-high heat; add garlic and cook until a bit of garlic sizzles at once. Toss well. Add beef and toss until it changes color. Add broccoli florets and toss for about 1 min., until they turn shiny and bright green. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, and water and cook 3-4 min., tossing often, until broccoli is tender and beef is cooked. Transfer to small serving platter and serve hot or warm. Makes 4 servings.

Thai Chicken Fried Rice
4 cups cooked cold jasmine rice (cold rice is essential so the grains will not stick together when stir frying)
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups boneless skinless chicken thighs sliced thin
2 eggs
4 green onions, sliced thin
2 teaspoons palm sugar (table sugar is fine if you can't find palm sugar)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 cucumber, sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. While pan is warming, toss the cold rice with your hands, making sure to separate the grains from any clumps. Add the garlic to the heated wok, and toss until fragrant and slightly golden. Add chicken and stir fry for about 1 minute. Push the meat and garlic up the sides making a well in the middle and add eggs. Scramble eggs for 1 minute in middle of pan then, add green onions and peas and incorporate all ingredients together, stir frying for another minute. Add rice, turning over rice with pan ingredients several times to coat and stir frying for 2-3 minutes. You want the rice to begin to have a toasted smell, making sure that all the ingredients are constantly being moved around the pan for even cooking. If your pan seems to have cooled down to the point where the ingredients are no longer sizzling, you may need to turn the heat up slightly. Sprinkle in the sugar and add the fish sauce and oyster sauce. Stir fry all ingredients together for one minute more or until sauces are absorbed and mixture is completely combined. Transfer to serving platter. Garnish plate edge with sliced cucumber, lime wedges, and additional whole green onions if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Grilled 'Opakapaka with Hawaiian Butter Sauce
'Opakapaka is also known as the Hawaiian pink snapper, a white fish with a delicate flavor. This fish is great grilled, then combined with a delicious butter sauce. Naturally you can use other fish for this recipe, like red snapper.

4 fresh ‘Opakapaka fillets, about 6 ounces each or use red snapper
Hawaiian Butter Sauce (recipe below)
cilantro for garnish
sliced lime for garnish

First make the Hawaiian Butter Sauce (recipe below). Then marinate ‘Opakapaka in 1/2 cup of the sauce for 10-15 minutes. Remove from marinade and grill very quickly, about 3 to 4 minutes on both sides. Brush fish with marinade as it cooks. Serve on plates garnished with cilantro and lime wedges on the side. Serve with white rice, topped with Shitaki mushrooms, that have been sautéd in Hawaiian butter sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Hawaiian Butter Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup finely diced Maui onion
2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese 'Sriracha' sauce
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons minced parsley

In a medium saucepan, heat the canola oil over low heat. Sauté the onions, garlic and shallots until softened, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Using a whisk, whip the softened butter until fluffy, then slowly add the Sriracha and Thai fish sauce. When the fish sauce and Sriracha have been incorporated into the butter, add the cooled onions, shallots, and garlic, and then add the parsley, whisk to blend. Makes about 1 3/4 cups of sauce. Note: This sauce is also delicious used as a dipping sauce for grilled lobster or shrimp.

Filipino Sardines & Tomatoes
Lately I have noticed in one of our local markets, Friendly Market, small, dried sardines. I asked the meat manager, PJ, how locals eat them. He said that the Filipinos fry them, then add tomatoes, onions, and garlic. He also said that they are a little hard on your breath, so I used fresh sardines for this recipe, which don't have that strong odor. 

If sardines aren't your thing, try this recipe using shrimp. If you can't find Southeast Asia calamansi limes, you can substitute lemon juice, however if you live on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, you can get them at our Saturday farmers market.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced (2 tablespoons)
4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, or regular paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large can of sardines in tomato sauce
Fresh calamansi limes, or fresh lemon wedges, for squeezing over the sardines

Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan over moderately high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, dried red pepper flakes, and paprika and cook until the shallot becomes soft and translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine, continuing to cook until the tomato paste just begins to brown, 1 minute more.

Toss the cherry tomatoes into the pan and sauté until the tomatoes soften and have released some of their juices, 5-7 minutes.

Pour the wine into the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the water and fish sauce and simmer until the liquid reduces and thickens a bit, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the sardines from the can and arrange them in a single layer, on top of the tomato sauce in an oven safe sauté pan. Pour the tomato sauce in the sardine can over the sardines. Place the pan underneath the broiler and broil for 5 or 6 minutes, flipping the fish over once during that time.
Serve with steamed white rice and calamansi limes, or lemon wedges, on the side for squeezing over the sardines. Makes 2-4 servings.

Lemon Butter Dipping Sauce
I particularly like this delicious sauce with boiled artichokes, shrimp, or crab.

4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce or soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice

Combine all ingredients and microwave for 30 seconds until warm.
Makes about 1/2 cup, enough for 2 servings.

Dumpling Dipping Sauce
A great dipping sauce for Asian dumplings.

8 teaspoons finely minced garlic (about 8 medium cloves)
4 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons fresh juice from about 4 limes
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
1/4 teaspoon Asian chili oil, or to taste

Combine garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, cilanto, and chili oil in a small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Makes 3/4 cup.

Thai BBQ Sauce
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon fish sauce or 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1-2 teaspoons chili sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring until well blended.

Taste-test your bbq sauce, adding more honey if not sweet enough, or more lime juice if too sweet or too salty for your taste. Also add more chili if desired.

Use the sauce as a marinade for your meats, fish, or seafood, and brush it on while grilling. Great with steak, ribs, burgers, salmon, shrimp, and more!

Note: I like to double this recipe and then drizzle a little more over the entree before serving. This great sauce will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Jul 6, 2017

Good Morning From Hawaii

July pineapples from my garden
Click on photo to view larger

Pineapple season in Hawaii begins around mid-June, and peaks in mid-July, then tapers off in September. The most common pineapple in Hawaii is the 'Smooth Cayenne' variety (shown above). It has a rough skin which turns completely gold with a sweet pineapple smell and tangy afterbite. People don't realize that it takes about 18 months to grow one pineapple, and depending on the variety, they can cost as much as $4.50 a pound.

Pineapples are native to the southern part of Brazil and Paraguay and eventually, it traveled all the way to Hawaii in the sixteenth century. Today, pineapples are second only to bananas as America's favorite fruit because it is so versatile. It can be used easily in both sweet and savory dishes. Below you will find some of my favorite pineapple recipes.

Pineapple Slaw
Ingredients for slaw:
4 cups cabbage (shredded)
4 slices fresh pineapple (diced)
1 cup carrots (shredded)
1/2 cup apple (chopped)
2 tablespoons green bell pepper (chopped)
2 tablespoons red bell pepper (chopped)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine vegetables in a bowl. In smaller bowl, dissolve sugar and salt in the vinegar, then pour over slaw mix. Sprinkle with black pepper. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Mahi-mahi with Roasted Pineapple Sauce
Ingredients for Roasted Pineapple Sauce:
2 cups chopped peeled and cored fresh pineapple
1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Fish:
4 mahi-mahi fillets, skinned (about 2 pounds of fish, total)
2 tablespoon sweet paprika
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

cilantro leaves for garnish

Prepare a grill for moderately high heat.

In a grill pan, sear and soften the pineapple and red bell pepper, turning occasionally with tongs. Transfer the pineapple and bell pepper to a blender and add the cayenne pepper and lime juice, then puree the mixture. Season the sauce with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more lime juice if needed, keep at room temperature.

For the fish, combine the sweet paprika, oil and lime juice and brush on both sides of mahi-mahi steaks. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Oil the grill rack, then grill the fish, covered, turning the fish once, until it is opaque and just cooked through, about 6 minutes total. Transfer the fish to a platter and keep it warm, covered. Serve the fish with a fresh green salad or slaw, roasted sweet potato fries, with the pineapple sauce on the side. Garnish fish with fresh cilantro leaves. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Grilled mahi-mahi is commonly used for fish tacos or fish sandwiches. For a variation on this recipe, prepare an Asian coleslaw, recipe on this site, click here. Break the grilled fish up into chunks and fill fried or steamed corn tortillas, or toasted hamburger buns, with the mahi-mahi. Top the fish with a little roasted pineapple sauce and Asian coleslaw for a delicious tropical fish taco or fish sandwich.

Pineapple Stir-Fried Rice with Shrimp
1 ripe pineapple
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped, veins and seeds removed
2 spring onions, the green tops only, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups shrimp, shells removed and deveined
3 tablespoons garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce or light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups cold, steamed Thai jasmine rice
cilantro leaves for garnish

Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise with green top. Scoop out the fruit, saving the two pineapple halves to use as bowls to serve the rice in. Chop the pineapple fruit into bite sized chunks, removing the tough core. Put the fruit in a bowl and add the shallots, jalapeno, ginger, green onion and cilantro. Add a pinch of salt to bring out the juice. mix and set aside. In a wok, over high heat, add oil, and stir fry the shrimp for 2 minutes or until just pink. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside. Stir fry the garlic a minute or so until golden brown, but not burned. Add the cooked jasmine rice, and stir thoroughly until slightly toasted. Add the fish sauce and sugar, and continue stirring. When the rice is heated through, add the pineapple mixture and cooked shrimp, and stir until thoroughly heated through. Pour the mixture into the pineapple shells, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve as a side dish. Makes 6 servings.

A light, fluffy and moist coffee cake 
that's not too sweet.

Click on photos to view larger

Pineapple Perfection Cake
This is one of the best cakes I have ever eaten.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped fine, or
1/2 cup of canned and drained crushed pineapple
1/3 cup of roasted, chopped Macadamia nuts (optional)

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

In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the sour cream mixture. Stir in pineapple and nuts.

Transfer to a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350˚F for 60 - 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Cover cake lightly with a sheet of foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking to keep the coconut from getting too brown. Makes 9 servings.

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

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

Makes about 5 cups.

Note: Liliko'i juice can be made in advance and frozen in ice trays then transferred to freezer bags for future use.

Jun 11, 2017

A Dessert Created For Anna Pavlova

Click on photos to view larger

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!
Click on photo to view larger

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
Click on photo to view larger

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
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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.