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.

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)

Procedure:
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
Ingredients:
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

Procedure:
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
Ingredients:
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)

Procedure:
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.

Ingredients:
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

Procedure:
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
Amazon.com
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.

Ingredients:
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

Procedure:
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.

Jan 2, 2018

Pork Tenderloin–Island Style

Marinating pork tenderloin island-style
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A sweet and savory way to bring the flavors of Hawaii to your table. Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite things to make with pork because it is tender and loves to be flavored with a marinade. You will find a number of recipes for pork tenderloin on this website, and they are all good. This dish can be eaten sliced thin and served with cole slaw on a toasted bun for a delicious lunch, or served to your friends at a dinner party with elegant side dishes like Garlic Ginger Rice and Baby Bok Choy with Toasted Sesame Seeds. Finish the meal off with fresh fruit, like Honey & Spice Oranges. Go ahead... give it a shot!


Sweet & Savory Roast Pork Tenderloin
Ingredients:
Roast Pork Tenderloin
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2 pork tenderloin
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for sauce:
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth (optional)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or enough as needed) (optional)

Procedure:
Pat the pork dry and arrange in a shallow baking dish. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a bowl, and pour over pork. Place in refrigerator and marinate at least 8 hours, but 24 is better. Turn at least twice during this time.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove pork, placing in a clean shallow baking dish sprayed with non-stick oil. Reserve marinade if you wish to make a sauce with it. Bake about 45 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 155˚F. Remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes and slice thinly.

For sauce: Strain reserved marinade into a sauce pan. Add chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Cook down to about half original quantity. Add cornstarch as needed to thicken.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: You can strain and freeze the marinade to use on cornish game hens at a later date. Simply cut the hens in half and marinate them in a freezer bag overnight, then roast them at 350˚F for 40 minutes. 


Jan 1, 2018

Live A Little!


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It's the New Year, so live a little and treat yourself to a...

Grilled Hawaiian Lobster Dinner
Ingredients:
4–1 1/4-pound lobster tails
4 tablespoons parsley, minced

Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Procedure:
Combine sauce ingredients.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).

Transfer one lobster, shell side down, to work surface. With poultry shears, remove the transparent shell and paddle feet on the bottom of each lobster tail, exposing the meat. Carefully pull the meat out from the shell, then replace it. This will make the meat easier to remove from the shell after it is cooked. Repeat process with remaining lobsters.

Place lobster pieces, meat side up, on barbecue. Brush meat with sauce. Cover barbecue; grill lobsters until just opaque in thickest portion of tail, about 5 minutes. Flip lobster halves over and continue grilling until lobster meat is tender, 3 minutes more. Remove from barbecue; arrange lobster on a platter. Brush with more sauce and sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately. Serve with fresh corn pudding, and grilled asparagus.

Makes 4 servings.