Jul 14, 2018

Fresh Asparagus From Moloka'i, Hawaii

Locally grown asparagus from the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i
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Asparagus grows really well here in Hawaii, especially on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Hawaiian asparagus farmers harvest nearly any time of the year with proper timing and forethought. As a matter of fact, there was a time (between 1937 and 1939) when asparagus was exported from Hawaii to Mainland markets.

A friend and local farmer, Chris Hammond, started a large crop of asparagus here on Moloka'i. A few years later plus a lot of hard work, he is selling his crop at the Moloka'i Saturday Farmers Market. People here have discovered him and his fresh green and purple asparagus. He usually sells out everything in his large cooler within a couple of hours. Naturally I am one of his loyal customers. There is a big difference between store bought and fresh local asparagus.

As a green vegetable, asparagus is actually quite high in protein (3 grams in 1 cup of raw asparagus). It has quite a few vitamins and minerals and is very low in fat. Of course, if you add a lot of high-fat sauces or use butter as a dip, an asparagus side dish may not be a diet dish. But eaten steamed with a little vinegar or lemon juice sprinkled on, it makes a tasty, low-fat, nutritious addition to almost any meal.

Here are a few simple asparagus recipes for you to try:

Phyllo Asparagus Blankets
Simply wrap cooked asparagus in a blanket of phyllo dough and bake. Very tasty, and they make a wonderful presentation.
Sheets of thin Phyllo Dough from Friendly Market
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8 asparagus spears
8 phyllo dough sheets, thawed
   (available at Friendly Market)
1/2 cup butter, melted (or use olive oil)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Special equipment
basting brush
parchment paper
baking sheet

Pre-heat oven to 350˚F. Snap off the tough end of one of the asparagus spears, then cut the rest of the asparagus the same length. Heat a large sauté pan filled with 1/2 inch of water to boiling. Add a generous pinch of salt. Boil for a couple of minutes until the asparagus is almost tender but not cooked all the way. Drain and pat dry. Cool.

Unwrap the phyllo and cut the stack in half if the sheets are big. What you want is for one side of the phyllo sheet to be the same length as the asparagus spears.

Take 1 sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with some melted butter (or olive oil). Sprinkle lightly with grated Parmesan cheese, a tiny bit of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fold the buttered sheet of phyllo corner to corner in half making a triangle. Place one asparagus spear on the straight edge across from the point. The dough should be the same length as the asparagus. Simply roll the asparagus up towards the point of the phyllo dough. It sort of shows you the distinct layers of the phyllo dough.

Place each piece, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Brush with more melted butter (or olive oil). Repeat until all the asparagus spears are used up. Place the phyllo wrapped asparagus spears on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Do check on them, as you don't want to them to burn. Sprinkle with a bit more Parmesan cheese when they come out of the oven.

Makes 2 servings.

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Sesame Asparagus with Bean Thread Noodles
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
a few drops chili oil (to taste)
3 2-ounce packages of bean thread noodles (rice noodles, I use Mum's brand)
3 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds

In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch (quickly cook) the asparagus until just tender (it should still have a snap), about 90 seconds. Remove asparagus with slotted spoon and quickly plunge them into a large bowl of ice water. Let cool for a few minutes, then drain and transfer onto paper towels to dry. Using the water you used to cook the asparagus, bring back to a boil then add bean thread noodles. Cook for 2 minutes (do not overcook). Drain noodles, then chop into 2" chunks and set aside.

In medium-sized bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and chili oil. Add asparagus and gently toss to coat. Divide noodles among 8 small bowls. Place coated asparagus on top of noodles. Pour sauce from asparagus bowl on top of each serving. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 8 appetizer servings.

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

Whisk first 6 sauce ingredients in small bowl to blend, set aside.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cut three 1/2-inch-deep slits crosswise in top of salmon (as if dividing into 4 equal pieces but do not cut through).

Arrange asparagus in even layer on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and turn to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place salmon atop asparagus; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until salmon is just opaque in center, about 20 minutes.

Transfer asparagus and salmon to platter. Spoon sauce over salmon. Cut into 4 pieces along slits and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Asparagus-Hominy Stew with Chicken
This is a very simple meal made with fresh asparagus, gold hominy, and leftover chicken.

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1 pound fresh asparagus
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chicken flavored bouillon
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 pieces of pre-cooked leftover chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 15 ounce can Gold Hominy, drained
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Wash asparagus and trim the tough ends. Cut stalks into 1-inch pieces, leaving about 3-inch of the top, set tops aside.

In a wok, add water, soy sauce, bouillon, sesame oil, and garlic. Now add the chicken pieces, and drained gold hominy, Bring to a simmer and then add the cut asparagus stalks. Simmer for about 5 minutes, not covered.

Put the corn starch in a small ramekin with 2 tablespoons of water, stirring to combine. Add this thickening mixture to the sauce in the wok and gently stir to combine.

Now add the tender asparagus tops and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes more. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste. Serve and garnish the top of each serving with toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 2 large servings.

Note: If you don't have any leftover chicken, then cook some uncooked seasoned chicken in the wok with a little canola oil, then remove bones and cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.

It's important not to overcook the asparagus, nobody likes soggy asparagus. It should be slightly crisp.

To toast the sesame seeds, put them in a dry frypan over medium heat and toast them making sure not to burn them. It only takes a couple of minutes and the seeds have a lot more flavor.  

Jul 10, 2018

Pork Belly Stir-fry

Hawaii loves pork belly, why not... it's bacon, well sort of, bacon is cured with salt and also smoked! Add Chinese wood ear mushrooms, red bell pepper and chow fun rice noodles and you have a beautifully simple Chinese meal that is easy to make.

Wok Fried Pork Belly with Black Mushrooms
Chinese dried wood ear mushrooms
This mushroom has other names
such as tree ear and black fungus.
Usually found the the Asian section
of your grocery store.
Click on photo to view larger
2 seven ounce packages of fresh chow fun noodles (wide rice noodles)
1 pound pork belly, cut into thin 1/8" thick bite-size slices
1 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in cold water for
    2 hours and chopped roughly
1 large red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
2 green onions, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces for garnish

Heat slightly salted water in a wok, enough to cover the chow fun noodles. When it comes to a boil, add the noodles and cook 3 or 4 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander in the sink. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of canola oil over the top of the noodles and toss to prevent them from sticking together, set aside.

In the same wok, sear sliced pork belly in a dry wok over medium high heat, about 20 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. You will need to turn the pieces often to keep from burning. 

Drain all but 1 teaspoon of the grease in the wok. Now add the bell pepper and stir-fry for a couple minutes. 

Add the low sodium 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 5-10 minutes over medium heat. Now add the cooked chow fun noodles. Stir one last time until noodles are hot, then serve garnished with sliced green onions. I like to serve this dish with cold beer and fresh fruit like black seedless grapes for dessert.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: The addition of fresh frozen Edamame (cooked fresh soybeans) adds more vegetables to this dish. Simply bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the beans and boil over high heat for 5 or 6 minutes. Don't cover the pot or the beans will lose their bright green color. When ready, drain beans and serve mixed with the stir-fry.

Jun 28, 2018

Easy Broiled Salmon

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Salmon was introduced to Hawaii by western sailors many years ago, and has grown in popularity ever since. The most common use for salmon here would be for lomi lomi salmon. Lomi lomi salmon is similar to poke, in that it is cut into small cubes and cured in salt instead of soy sauce. This dish is now a classic and integral part of most Hawaiian parties and gatherings, such as traditional luaus, and can be considered a Hawaiian ethnic food alongside poi, kalua pig, poke and laulau.

Most fresh salmon found in Hawaii is imported from the U.S. Pacific northwest, the Atlantic, and even as far away as New Zealand, but it is also very popular here right out of a can. It's one fish that you can always find in our small grocery stores here on the island of Moloka'i, alongside ahi tuna and mahi mahi. Salmon is also very popular served raw in sushi bars here in Hawaii. I love the stuff, who wouldn't, beautiful color, velvety texture, buttery flavor, and it's good for you because it's packed with omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.

Another simple way to serve this beautiful fish is to broil it with all of the flavors of the islands.

Hawaiian Broiled Salmon
1 green onion, minced
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4, 1/4 pound pieces of salmon, or 1 1/2 pound
   single piece of salmon with the skin on.
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Cooking spray
Heavy foil

Start by running a sharp knife along the bottom of the fillet to remove the salmon skin. Meanwhile, remove any bones from the salmon by running your finger over the flesh and pull the bones out with tweezers. If using one large piece of fish, cut it up into 4 pieces.

Whisk minced green onion, Tamari sauce, vinegar, lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes, minced garlic and fresh ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place 4 pieces of skinned salmon in a zip-loc freezer bag. Add the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 30 minutes, turning the bag half way through.

Move shelf in oven 6 to 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat broiler on high. Line a small baking pan with heavy foil and coat with cooking spray.

Transfer the salmon to the pan, skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil salmon until cooked through, 7 or 8 minutes. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve with a cucumber tomato salad with dill, or toasted Jasmine rice, and snow peas.

Makes 4 servings.

Jun 11, 2018

It's June... Mango Season In Hawaii!

June is the beginning of mango season here in Hawaii. What better way to celebrate than to prepare a shrimp recipe where mango is the star. I love this recipe because it allows the sweet juices of mango to mingle with locally grown large shrimp, coconut, and fresh lime juice for a sweet taste of the tropics.

Sweet Mango Coconut Shrimp 
with Toasted Jasmine Rice

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chili oil, or sriracha (chili paste) to taste
1 pound large raw, deveined shrimp with tails removed
1 large, fresh mango, peeled and cubed
4 cups toasted jasmine rice, for serving (recipe below)
1/2 cup toasted, sweetened shredded coconut for garnish
1/2 cup chopped green onions for garnish
1 large lime, quartered

In a large dry skillet over medium heat, toss coconut until just toasted. Remove coconut to a small bowl. In the same skillet, heat up oil over medium heat. Add red onion and sauté, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, chili oil, and stir. Add shrimp and toss to combine, about 3 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked. Now stir in the mango chunks, until warmed and juices release.

Serve over a bed or hot toasted jasmine rice, sprinkled with toasted coconut, and green onions. Squeeze lime just prior to serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Toasted Jasmine Rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 3/4 cups unsalted chicken stock or water if you don't have stock
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring to coat. Add stock, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to pan with rice; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover, and simmer 16 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove pan from heat; let stand covered for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

Makes 4 servings.

Apr 1, 2018

The Worlds Smallest 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 the Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly, is the wild ancestor of all the tomatoes we eat today, and still grows wild in northern Peru, southern Ecuador, and here on Moloka'i.

Red Currant Tomatoes from the Moloka'i Saturday Farmers' Market
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I had never heard of, or tasted, these little gems until my wife bought a little plastic bag filled with them last year. She bought them from a part time resident of Moloka'i named Max Quinney. He was selling them at our local Saturday farmers' market here on Moloka'i for $4. The next week at the market I asked him where he got the seeds and he told me that they starting growing in a pile of wood chips that he had gotten for his garden. The chips came from our local green waste land fill. I also spoke to a couple of local Hawaiians who said "Oh you mean Moloka'i tomatoes" as if they have been growing here for a long time. These little tomatoes 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.

After doing a little research online, I found that apparently each plant produces hundreds of sweet fruit within about 65 days 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 them.

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.

Yesterday Mr. Quinney came back to my wife's farmers' market booth with another bag of little currant tomatoes to sell. Naturally I wanted to find out where to buy seeds for this little tomato. To my amazement I found a number of sites online. Soon I will be growing, and enjoying my own red currant tomatoes. I took the photo above this morning using Mr. Quinney's red currant tomatoes that I bought yesterday.

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.

Mar 8, 2018

Spinach Alternatives In Hawaii

Most of the time I buy my spinach from the grocery store, but lately I have been disappointed in the quality of the product. Either it looks old and damaged, or dirty with long tough stems. So what can I do about it. I do enjoy growing my own vegetables. Living 1,200 feet above sea level here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i provides me with cool, rainy weather most of the year, and Spinach prefers cool, damp weather, but is sensitive to Hawaii's highly acid soil, so amending the soil is necessary for this vegetable. 

Beet tops and bottoms from Kumu Farms on Moloka'i
Another alternative is to grow a spinach substitute like beets for their tops, and beets will grow anywhere in Hawaii. I love beets, not only for the traditional beet root, but the leafy green top which taste very much like spinach when cooked. It takes 60 to 80 days before beets are ready to harvest, however you can pick up to 1/3 of the plant's leaves while the plant is growing without harming its root.

Tatsoi, from Kumu Farms on Moloka'i
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Another alternative to spinach is an Asian plant called tatsoi. Tatsoi is the new spinach but is actually not spinach at all. It is related to pat choi or bok choy, but is much smaller, with a texture similar to spinach, but sturdier. I first noticed this variety here on Moloka'i at Kumu Farms. It is sold in little bunches about 6 inches long, and has dark green leaves with a thicker stem than common spinach. It has a creamy texture and a subtle yet distinctive flavor reminiscent of mustard greens in heat although not as hot. Tatsoi seems to grow quite well here in Hawaii. 

Tatsoi is wonderful eaten raw in salads and sandwiches, in stir-fry recipes, or in soups like the wonton soup below. Actually you can use Tatsoi anywhere you'd use spinach. You will want to store tatsoi in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer with the other vegetables. Tatsoi has a short shelf-live and will only last a few days. Don't wash this vegetable until you are ready to eat or cook it.

If you are interested in this very easy to grow green in your own garden, check out this seed companies website.

Salmon with Sauteed Beet Tops

Ingredients for salmon:
4 (7-ounce) salmon filets, without skin
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced

Ingredients for spinach:
12 ounces fresh beet tops, cleaned and stems removed
2 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or to taste)
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Procedure for salmon:
Squeeze lemon juice over each filet, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat olive in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Sear skin side of filets, for 3-4 minutes until crispy and golden.

Flip and sear the other side of each filet for 2 minutes. Then, add in the butter, chopped garlic and more lemon juice. Continue to cook the salmon for 1-2 minutes, or until salmon reaches desired doneness.

Procedure for beet tops:
While salmon is cooking, heat olive oil and sesame oil in a wok or large pan. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cleaned beet tops and soy sauce to taste and saute just until the spinach has wilted. Serve immediately with salmon. Garnish everything with toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 4 servings.

Egg Drop Soup with Tatsoi and Edamame

6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 1⁄2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 eggs
2 cups tatsoi, stems removed
1 1⁄2 cups cooked, shelled edamame
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Bring stock, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. Stir cornstarch and soy sauce in a bowl until smooth; whisk into stock, cook until slightly thickened, 1–2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Whisk together remaining salt, sesame oil, and eggs in a bowl.

While gently whisking broth, slowly add egg mixture to scatter eggs as they cook. Stir in tatsoi and edamame until tatsoi is wilted, about 1 minute; season with salt. Divide soup between four bowls; top with scallions.

Makes 4 servings.

Wonton Soup with Shrimp & Tatsoi

8 dried black wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, divided
1 pound leftover cooked pork, remove fat and mince
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, or one slice of bread, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (16 ounce) package square wonton wrappers
8 cups chicken broth (see note below)
16 uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 or 2 heads Tatsoi, stems removed
16 snow peas
1 dash soy sauce, or to taste
1 dash sesame oil, or to taste

Put dried black wood ear mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.

Dice the green onions, and set aside all but 1 tablespoon. Finely chop the 1 tablespoon of green onions and place in a bowl with minced cooked pork, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, egg, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir to thoroughly mix the pork filling.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the pork filling onto the center of each wonton wrapper. Use your finger or a pastry brush to lightly moisten the edges of the wonton wrappers with water. Fold one corner of the wrapper over the filling onto the opposite corner to form a triangle. Press the edges together to seal. Moisten the two long ends of the triangle, fold them together, and press them firmly to seal.

Bring the chicken broth and mushrooms to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Drop the wontons, one by one, into the broth, and let them cook for 5 minutes, until they float to the surface. Reduce heat to a simmer, and gently stir in the shrimp and Tatsoi. Let the soup simmer 2 more minutes, until the shrimp turn pink, and then drop in the snow pea pods. Garnish with the remaining green onions and a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil, and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Note: I like to make my own chicken stock because it tastes better and it's much cheaper than buying store bought broth. Simply buy a 5 pound box of frozen chicken thighs from Friendly Market. Defrost it in the refrigerator over night. When defrosted, rinse the chicken well under cold water. Dry the chicken and put it in a large pot with one large chopped onion and 3 tablespoons of canola oil and brown the chicken for about 20 minutes. Then add one chopped carrot, 3 chopped celery sticks, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, a bay leaf, and a 2 inch knob of fresh ginger that has been smashed with the side of your knife. Now add 8 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours with the lid open a little on top of the pot. After 1 1/2 hours, taste the stock and season with more salt and pepper or soy sauce if needed. Strain everything, saving the chicken. When cool, put the chicken broth in plastic containers and freeze. Take the chicken apart and discard the bones. Divide the meat into plastic zip-loc sandwich bags, then put all of the bags into a zip-loc freezer bag and freeze for later use, like stuffing wontons, making chicken salad, or whatever. You just saved yourself $6. Chicken stock lasts about a week refrigerated or 1 month frozen.

Did you know that you can freeze leftover wonton wrappers and reuse them later. Simply tightly wrap them in plastic wrap, then put them in a zip-loc freezer bag. Let them come back to room temperature before you reuse them, otherwise they will be brittle and break.

Tatsoi with Oyster Sauce
This recipe is very easy to make and is a delicious served as a bed for a slice of broiled salmon.

2 bunches of Tatsoi
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
a pinch of salt and black pepper

Wash and dry Tatsoi. Remove the core and discard, cutting up the stems and leaves into 2 inch pieces.

In a wok or large fry pan, gently fry the garlic in the sesame oil over medium heat being carful not to brown the garlic.

Add the chopped Tatsoi to the pan and stir-fry for 2 or 3 minutes or until wilted but still bright green.

Stir in the oyster sauce and stir-fry until the stems have cooked through and no liquid is left in the pan.

Taste the Tatsoi and season with a little salt and black pepper if needed.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 2 servings.

Mar 4, 2018

Tasty Filipino Food In Hawaii

Click on map to enlarge
The Philippine archipelago comprises about 7,641 islands, of which only about 2,000 are inhabited. They are clustered into the three major island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Filipinos are now the fastest growing ethnic minority in Hawaii. Taken together, Filipinos and part-Filipinos constitute 275,728 or nearly 23 percent of the state population, slightly more than the Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian population. About 70 percent of the Filipino population live on the island of Oahu.

Fortunately for us, they have influenced Hawaii's cuisine over the years. Dishes like pork adobo, Pinakbet, pork, cooked with pumpkin, Chinese long beans, cabbage, and bitter melon, or tom yum, a sour tamarind soup. All so different and oh so good, and there are so many more.

One of my favorite Filipino recipes is grilled Chicken Inasal, a classic dish that is also enjoyed here in Hawaii. It tastes wonderful not only because it is grilled, but because of the zesty marinade. One of the marinade ingredients is 7up, yep I kid you not. It turns out that the carbonation and citric acid in 7up helps to tenderize meat, while the added sugar promotes caramelization during cooking. Try not to substitute any of the ingredients if possible. Also you want to be sure not to overcook the chicken, it should be moist and full of flavor.

Chicken Inasal is traditionally served with 'Java Rice' that is gently mixed with spices and formed in a tea cup, then turned over on the plate and sprinkled with chopped scallions. Also, pickled green papaya called 'Achara' is usually served as a side dish. For dessert, how about 'Bibinka', a unique soft, sweet, and gelatinous cake (recipes below).

Looking for more delicious Filipino recipes? click here.

Filipino Grilled Chicken Inasal

2 cornish game hens cut in half or 4 chicken leg quarters, with the skin side scored 3 times

Calamansi from Moloka'i farmers market.
It is widely cultivated in the Philippines and in Hawaii.
Your best chance of finding it on Moloka'i is at our
Saturday Farmer's Market where Filipino vendors sell it.
Marinade Ingredients:
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 cup white vinegar or coconut vinegar
1/2 cup calamansi or lime juice
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup lemongrass, chopped
1 cup 7up
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Basting Sauce Ingredients:
(see note below)
3 tablespoons annatto oil
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon calamansi juice, or lime juice

Combine the marinade ingredients, mix well. Set aside.

Arrange the scored chicken in a large resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces. Gently push the air out of the bag and then seal. Refrigerate for 3 hours, turning the bag several times so the chicken is well coated.

Combine the basting sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Heat-up the grill to 360˚F. Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe down stray aromatics. Arrange the marinated chicken leg quarters over the grates of the grill, skin side up, so that the chicken gets indirect heat. Turn the chicken every 5 minutes for about 30 to 45 minutes brushing with the basting sauce. The key is to grill over indirect heat until the chicken gets fully cooked and the internal temperature reaches 160˚F, do not overcook, you want the chicken to be moist. Transfer to a serving plate, cover and allow to rest for about 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Serve chicken with Java Rice (see recipe below), sprinkled with chopped scallions on top, and some pickled green papaya on the side (see recipe below) (this is also known as papaya achara). If you can't find calacansi, use fresh lime juice instead.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: I like to use cornish game hens for this dish because half of a hen is a perfect serving for one person, and they are so tender and look nicer on a plate. I use kitchen sheers to cut them in half, or a good sharp knife will do. They are a dollar cheaper at Friendly Market than Misaki's Market... it pays to shop around.

I couldn't find annatto oil here on the small Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, so I used annatto powder, which I found in a small packet in the Asian section of Friendly Market. I heated 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan, not very hot, certainly not smoking. Then I mixed in about 1 teaspoon of the annatto powder. The powder should settle to the bottom, allowing you to pour off most of the oil without the powder making it cloudy. You could also put it through a coffee filter, which will remove all of the powder residue. Then you mix in the rest of the basting ingredients. You will notice that a the Java Rice recipe below calls for annatto powder.

Java Rice
This rice recipe is typically served with Chicken Inasal. It is basically pre-cooked white short grain rice that is reheated and gently mixed with various spices. The end result is a seasoned golden rice.

4 cups cold pre-cooked white rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon annatto powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped for garnish

In a bowl, break rice to separate grains.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat, combine butter and oil. Heat until butter is melted. Add  garlic and bell pepper. Cook, stirring 2 or 3. Add annatto powder and turmeric powder. Continue to cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

Add rice and gently toss to fully coat. Spread the rice on entire cooking surface of the pan for about 45 seconds or until grains start to sizzle and then toss again to redistribute.

Add soy sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook, tossing gently, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until rice grains are heated through and evenly colored. Serve hot garnished with finely chopped shallots.

Makes 4 servings.

Pickled Green Papaya
This wonderful Filipino pickled green papaya recipe is called 'Achara' and is usually served as a side dish for barbecued meat or fried fish. Green papaya is underripe papaya that is green and firm. Look for it in Asian markets.

Ingredients for brine:
1 cup white vinegar or coconut vinegar
2 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

4 cups julienned green papaya (available at Kumu Farms or Moloka'i farmer's market)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup water
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
1 medium size carrot, julienned
1 small red onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 thumb size ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 teaspoon whole peppercorn

Using a non reactive saucepan combine coconut vinegar and sugar. Bring to a quick boil and remove from heat. Add turmeric powder and stir. Set aside and allow to cool.

Peel the green papaya and discard the seeds. Julienne the papaya into a medium size mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss well. Pour in 1 cup of water and squeeze out the juice from the papaya. Add the pepper corn, bell pepper, ginger, onion, garlic, carrots and papaya. Toss well. 

Pour vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Toss well, cover and let it sit, refrigerated, overnight before serving. Best when served cold.

Makes about 6 cups.

Note: Look for green (completely green and unripe) papaya. I prefer to julienne the ingredients (green papaya, red bell pepper and carrots, rather than grate them because it just looks better. 

To find out more about the health benefits of coconut vinegar, click here.

Filipino Coconut Pineapple "Bibingka"
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This cake is considered a delicacy in the Philippines. I have a friend who lives there, Ann Supan who recently had a birthday. She asked if I had ever heard of "Bibingka", and that she only has this special cake during the Christmas season. I researched it and came up with this recipe. It is a sticky cake, very different from other dryer American cakes, because of the glutinous sweet rice flour, which makes it have a unique soft, sweet, and gelatinous consistency, sort of like the Japanese Mochi. There are many different Filipino versions of the Bibingka, including a version that my Filipino friend Estella Ramos likes that uses cooked sticky rice instead of rice flour and only light brown sugar, not white sugar, plus a little less coconut cream. This dessert is a winner Ann, Happy Birthday!

Ingredients for cake:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 cups white granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 pound (3 1/2 cups) Mochiko brand sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 15-ounce can sweetened cream of coconut, not coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained of the juice
1 tablespoon Crisco brand shortening
9 x 13 inch metal sheet pan, or glass Pyrex pan

Ingredients for topping:
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Stir in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the remaining ingredients and stir, until smooth. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan. Combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Place in oven on middle rack and bake in a 350˚F oven for approximately 60 minutes. After 30 minutes of baking, cover the cake lightly with a sheet of foil to keep the coconut from getting too brown, then continue baking for 30 minutes more. Turn off heat and allow the cake to rest in the oven for an additional 20 minutes before removing. Now remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then cut into small pieces. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Note: The cooking time may vary depending on your oven, and the pan you cook in. For example I cooked this cake in a glass Pyrex baking pan and had to increase the time by 30 minutes. If the cake center jiggles when you give it a shake, continue cooking, and check again every 5 minutes. The cake is done when the top springs back to the touch.

Feb 24, 2018

Chewy ONOLICIOUS Hawaiian Chocolate Spice Cookies

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You deserve to put a little spice in your life with a blend of dark semi-sweet chocolate, laced with Hawaiian Island spices. Rich and chewy ONOLICIOUS chocolate cookies!

Hawaiian Chocolate Spice Cookies
1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup un-sulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons boiling water
7 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4" chunks

For Coating Cookies:
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter and grated ginger together with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the brown sugar, beating until combined. Now add the molasses and beat again until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water.

Turn the mixer to low and blend in half the flour mixture, then the water-baking soda mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Remove from the mixer and add in the chopped chocolate either with a spatula or by hand.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Pat out to about 1-1/2" thickness, wrap well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325°F.

Cut the dough into 36 pieces and form pieces into small balls and coat each into a plate of the granulated sugar. Place about 2" apart on a parchment paper baking sheet to allow for spreading. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the tops begin to crack, rotating the pan halfway through. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the cookies from the pan and allowing them to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Feb 19, 2018

A Symphony of Flavors in Every Bite!

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Hawaiian Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs
You will discover a Hawaiian symphony of flavors in every bite of this incredible dish. Tender baby back ribs with notes of sweet brown sugar combined with tart apple cider vinegar. Mysterious umami-rich flavor of Chinese fermented black beans, sweet pineapple, and soy sauce combine with fresh garlic and ginger to give you a climactic ending that's well-deserved of a standing ovation.

1 1/2 pounds of baby back pork spareribs (one rack of ribs)
   cut into individual pieces
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons fermented Chinese black beans*, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons water
toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Cut baby back spareribs apart and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place the ribs in a roasting pan, covered tightly with double-thickness foil and bake for 2 hours at 275˚F.

Whisk ketchup, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, Chinese black beans, chili sauce, and soy sauce in a pot. Bring mixture to a boil then simmer everything gently for approximately 10 minutes. Stir often.

Meanwhile, stir butter into a large hot skillet. When butter melts and just starts to brown, stir in all of the pineapple chunks without the juice. Cook, stirring, until pineapple is caramelized and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Now add the pineapple chunks to the ketchup mixture, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

Combine cornstarch with water and add to the sauce to thicken. Bring sauce to a full boil to properly thicken the cornstarch.

Put ribs in serving bowls and pour the thickened sauce and pineapple over the ribs to cover. Let rest for a minute or two, then serve with Gingered Jasmine Rice and Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce.

Makes 2 servings.

Note: *Fermented Chinese black beans (aka salted black beans) are actually fermented soybeans which adds a wonderful umami-rich flavor to this dish. It is available in the asian food section of most grocery stores including Friendly Market and Misaki's here on Moloka'i. It comes in little 8 ounce plastic bags, which is better tasting than brands in a jar. I usually add a little olive oil to them and keep it in a small jar in the door of my refrigerator. It can be added to a variety of stir fry dishes. It's nice to have on hand. 

Jan 24, 2018

Linguine with Clams

Clams are not native to Hawaii. In the 1920s several species of clams and oysters were introduced from Japan and North America to Hawaiian waters as a food source. Among these was the Japanese littleneck clam, also known as the Manila clam.

Today, little neck clams are actually farm raised here on the West side of the island of Kaua'i. Sunrise Capital, owners of Kauai Shrimp, not only raise white shrimp but also clams. I happen to be very fond of clams, especially when used in this easy recipe.

The ingredients are available almost anywhere, even on a small island in Hawaii. Once you have gathered them, it will take you about an hour to prepare this delicious meal for 4. It's best to eat it right away, naturally with a nice bottle of cold Chardonnay and some hot crusty bread.

Linguine with Clams
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt
1 pound linguine dried pasta (one 16 ounce box)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 pounds fresh clams, shells scrubbed clean
   (available at Friendly Market here on Moloka'i)
3- 6.5 ounce cans chopped clams with juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine, like Chardonnay
1 (14.5-ounce) can sliced tomatoes in juice,
juice reserved and tomatoes coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top,
   with hot crusty bread on the side

In large pot over moderately high heat, combine 10 quarts of water to a boil with salt. Add the linguine and boil on medium high for 12 minutes until pasta is 'al dente' (quite firm).

Meanwhile, in large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat butter and extra olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic, and red bell pepper, and sauté until the onion is just golden, about a minute or two. Add both canned and fresh clams and the red pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes (chopped) plus the juice, and 1/4 cup parsley and simmer, uncovered, just until clams open, 7 to 8 minutes.

Drain the linguine and return it to the pot, mixed with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together. After the clams have opened in the pan, pour the sauce over the pasta and carefully mix the ingredients together so that the clams remain in the shells. Transfer the linguine with clams to plates or a serving bowl and serve immediately, sprinkled with the rest of the chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread on the side.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: You can remove the fresh cooked clams from the pan before mixing the sauce with the pasta. This will allow you to place them on top of the pasta after plating. They say "presentation is everything".

Also, be sure you inspect the clams before you buy them to make sure that the shells are not open. This could be dangerous to your health.

Jan 16, 2018

A Tasty Soup That's Good For You!

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Chickpea & Lentil Soup
I have been told that Hawaiians don't eat lentils which explains why I had such a hard time finding them in Molokai's grocery stores (thank you Kualapu'u Market)!. 

 Lentils are considered to be the world's healthiest food. They are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate. A very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Additionally they are a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. 

Did you know? When combined with a whole grain like brown rice, lentils provide the same quality protein as meat! Lentils are a good source of protein. A 1/2 cup serving of dry lentils provides about 26 grams of protein. With such high protein content, you are sure to be fuelled up all day long.

This recipe is a good example of how you can easily make a delicious meal for you and your family that will be healthy. It's a hearty Moroccan soup called Harira, served during the holy month of Ramadan. There are many variations to this recipe, but this one is one of my favorites because the mix of spices makes an incredible flavor that works really well with the ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
4-5 grinds of black pepper
1– 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with the juice
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1– 14.5 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dried lentils (red lentils are the best if you can find them)
1/4 cup long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
A couple handfuls of roughly chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
1 small container of Greek Yogurt for serving (optional)

Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper as early as possible.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces in 2 batches and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until softened. Add all the spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, chickpeas and salt. Cook until fragrant.

Return the chicken to the pot with any accumulated juices. Add the stock, lentils, brown rice and paprika, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 50 minutes.

Stir in the chopped cilantro and parsley leaves. Place a small handful of roughly chopped spinach leaves in each bowl. Ladle soup on top of the fresh spinach and serve with a small spoonful of yogurt if you wish. Warm pita bread is perfect with this soup.

Note: This soup tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to deepen. Note though that the lentils and rice will absorb more of the liquid so you will have to add some broth to thin it out. Alternatively, if you plan to make this dish ahead, you follow the directions to simmer the soup for an hour and then the next day you can add the rice and simmer it for the remaining 30 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

A Pasta Classic

Roast Shrimp with Pesto Pasta
2 pounds medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pesto Sauce:
2 cups (one large bunch) fresh basil leaves
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

To make the pesto sauce, combine basil leaves, shallot, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, chopped macadamia nuts (toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat), and grated Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor; season with Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside. Makes about 1 cup of pesto sauce.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly oil a foil lined baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. Gently toss shrimp with 1/2 cup of the pesto sauce and place shrimp in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.

Place into oven and roast just until pink, firm and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve as a main course on top of 1 pound of cooked pasta. Taste for additional seasoning and serve mixed with the extra 1/2 cup of pesto sauce that has been heated, and crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings.

Jan 12, 2018

Pear & Ginger Chutney

Store Bought Pears for Chutney

Chutneys are savory preserves, usually fruit-based, that are served as a complement to other foods. Some are smooth, some are chunky; some are cooked, some are raw; some are served as a condiment or dip, some are served as a side dish, or if you live in Hawaii, on top of a warm manapua (steamed pork bun).

If you know anything about pears, then you know that they like to grow in cool temperatures. They actually do grow in Hawaii, but in cooler 4,000 foot elevations of the Big Island of Hawaii. At that elevation, both pears, plums, and ginger grow, which has inspired this recipe.

Pear & Ginger Chutney
Cooked Pear & Ginger Chutney
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2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup shallots (minced)
4 pounds (about 6) very ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears (peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons mustard seeds (crushed)

Hawaiian Manapua with Pear & Ginger Chutney
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Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large roasting pan over medium heat. Add minced shallots, and cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes. Add pears and lemon juice, and cook for five minutes, until softened.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a medium size bowl and mix everything together, then add it to the pears. Bring to a simmer for at least one hour uncovered, stirring occasionally until the pears are starting to break down and the mixture gets thick and syrupy as shown above. 

Pour chutney into sterilized pint or 1/2 pint jars and seal well. Store in a cool, dark place. This chutney needs to mature a little in the jar, so I would suggest keeping it for at least a month before opening. This chutney keeps well for up to two years. Once opened, store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Delicious served with roast pork, chicken, turkey, or as a topping on a warm Hawaiian manapua as shown above.

Makes about 4 cups of Pear & Ginger Chutney.

Jan 11, 2018

Finger Food

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Smoked Salmon Wraps
This is a very simple wrap that's perfect for a light, healthy lunch. Combine small pieces of smoked salmon with cooked long grain brown rice, topped off with marinated cucumber. Simply fold the lettuce around the rice/smoked salmon/cucumber mixture and eat it like a taco. I use smoked salmon because the flavor is stronger than just regular cooked salmon. I also use brown rice instead of white rice because of the texture it brings to the dish, and because it's good for you.

One pound of smoked salmon, broken into small pieces
1 cup of long grain brown rice
1 large head of leaf lettuce
1 Japanese cucumber
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

Simply buy already smoked salmon or smoke it yourself. Break the salmon up into small bite-size pieces and mix it with the cooked, and cooled, rice that was seasoned with a little salt. Put 3 lettuce leaves, minus some of the tough stem, on 4 plates. Fill each lettuce leaf with the salmon rice mixture. Now shred a cucumber and sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar and top off the wrap with the cucumber.
That's it!

This recipe will easily feed 4 people, with two or three wraps per person, or you could make one per person as an appetizer. For other wrap ideas, click here.

Note: Don't overfill the lettuce leaves with too much of the rice mixture because it makes it hard to fold and eat.

Jan 8, 2018

Tonight Serve Portuguese Chicken Paprika For Dinner

Sweet Hungarian Paprika
Most Americans only use paprika over deviled eggs or on potato salad, and don't know that their are many ways to use this delicious spice. There are a few things to keep in mind when using paprika. When heated, this spice blossoms, exuding a sweet flavor with rich earthy undertones and a heat level that ranges from gentle to spicy-hot, depending on the variety.

Most paprikas come from Hungary or Spain and are made from the same family of peppers, but only sweet, and hot paprikas are found here in the US. Generally when cooking with paprika, a lot is used. A good example are rubs and spice blends. Most spice blends have paprika as a main ingredient.

Chicken is very popular here in Hawaii, not only because it is tasty, but because it is versatile and inexpensive. My favorite way to use paprika is in a simple dish called Portuguese Chicken Paprika because the sauce is just incredible!

Portuguese Chicken Paprika
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Portuguese Chicken Paprika
Chicken Paprika is a classic Hungarian recipe. That's because it's an inexpensive comfort food in the form of a stew with a thick sour cream-paprika gravy/sauce. The Portuguese have taken this recipe to a higher level with more flavor and richness than the Hungarian version. It's easy to make, and is a favorite in my house, and is highly recommended by yours truly.

6 to 8 boneless, skin on, chicken thighs*, about 2 pounds, cut in half
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup dry white wine (use the white wine you like to drink)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large roasted red pepper from jar, cut into 3/4-inch strips
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup Sweet Hungarian Paprika*
2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry; season all over with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil and butter. Add chicken pieces, skin side down in a single layer being careful not to overcrowd the pot. If they don't all fit in the pot, divide the chicken into two batches. Cook, turning a couple of times, until pieces are browned on all sides, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, about 20 to 25 minutes (don't burn the chicken). Transfer chicken pieces to a plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon of rendered fat from pan.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and slightly reducing the wine. Add the onion, red bell pepper, garlic and bay leaves to the pan and cook covered for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the paprika and stir for about 30 seconds, being careful as paprika will scorch easily making it bitter.

Now add the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add the cooked chicken pieces, skin side down, and continue cooking covered, until everything is tender, about 30 minutes more.
 Now mix the sour cream with the flour and a little of the sauce until smooth, then slowly whisk the mixture into chicken stock to prevent it from curdling. Simmer uncovered, until the sauce has thickened. Taste for additional seasoning, then transfer everything to a platter, or into soup bowls. Season sauce with salt and pepper if needed, and spoon liquid over the chicken. Garnished with chopped parsley. Serve with boiled potatoes or white rice and edamame (soy beans) or green peas and Portuguese sweet bread to mop up the last of the sauce on your plate.

Makes 6 servings.

*Notes: There are so many different kinds of paprika, with colors ranging from orange to blood red, and tastes running from spicy to sweet and flavors from smoky to fruity. Sweet Hungarian Paprika is commonly found in the US. It is full-bodied, fruity, has a beautiful color, and is recommended for this recipe.

You can use any chicken part you like, from whole cut up chicken to chicken thighs. Personally I like the dark meat, drumsticks and thighs, of the chicken because it doesn't dry out like breast meat, and has more flavor.