Saturday, July 30, 2011

About my leftovers plus WOW Farms tomatoes

Do you eat them? I've heard of some folks who won't. Never met them!

We were told that children were starving in China, so we'd better eat what was on our plates!

Food is expensive, so wasting anything is painful, and a shame. Since I don't know how to cook for just the two of us, there are always leftovers. That's also true when we go out to eat. Sometimes it's hard to find something you want to eat that you can finish in one sitting.

We went to the Blaisdell Farmers' Market on Wednesday, and I got the delicious black-eyed pea chili with cornbread and a piece of chicken from Pacific Soul. I ate half the chicken and cornbread, and a third of the chili, and was full. The DH got surf and turf: fried fish and beef curry - and ate half of it. No, we can't share - we never want to eat the same thing!

So dinner last night was the leftovers plus salad mix from the big box store, topped with the last of the Pirie mangos from Ewa Beach and luscious WOW Farms tomatoes that are almost the same color as the mango flesh - orange-skinned and fleshed, and low-acid.

Yum, yum, yum!

When the tomatoes are this lovely and ripe, I have not even bothered to chop them for bruschetta. Instead, I toast the bread* - which you can rub with a garlic clove - and drizzle with a combination of extra-virgin olive oil  and balsamic vinegar. Top with fat, juicy tomato slices and sprinkle with sea salt. And cracked black pepper, if you want. Sooo good!

*Please, please use GOOD bread! My two favorites are the olive bread from Ba-le, and La Brea rosemary/olive oil loaf. As Berry says, "Life is too short for bad bread!" So true!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ono Poke Salad for a Hot Summer Evening

Poke is a Hawaiian dish which usually consists of one-inch chunks of raw ahi or aku tuna fish marinated with a variety of ingredients and flavorings. We buy these ready-made at our supermarket fish counter. The types we  most often choose usually include shoyu (soy sauce), wasabi (Japanese horseradish), green onion tops, and Chinese oyster-flavor sauce.

Here's what we do when we have too much left over - yes, we are re-purposing food! Heat a small frying pan with a slick of sesame oil and fry poke chunks until lightly brown. Add ponzu sauce - a mixture of shoyu and yuzu citrus juice - until moistened. Then add enough agave syrup (or honey) just until slightly sweetened. Add a pinch of chili flakes or a shake of furikake (prepared nori seaweed flakes) if desired.

Serve on a bed of mixed baby lettuce, chunks of WOW Farms heirloom tomatoes. slivers of red onion or chopped green onion and chunks of Japanese cucumber. Don't forget to pour the pan juices over the poke! Newman light raspberry walnut vinaigrette is perfect with this. Add a slice of crusty bread or sesame lavosh, and it's a light supper.

Balsamic Eggplant with Goat Cheese

We've been eating some marvelous meals that have featured vegetables. OK, avocadoes are really fruits, but we eat them as vegetables! Here is a recipe for eggplant, from Fitness Magazine (no, I don't read it, but I do look at the recipes online!) that made the DH groan with pleasure. Always a good sign!

The recipe called for rosemary, which I didn't have. Instead, I used fresh oregano and thyme (which is much more aromatic). And after I cut off the ends of the Japanese eggplants and halved them, I cut off an inch-wide strip down the length of them AND pierced both sides with the point of the knife, so they could soak up the marinade better. I also adjusted the recipe amounts, as there are only two of us.

When something tastes good and is truly satisfying, I don't want to stop eating it, and that is the case here!

Balsamic Eggplant with Goat Cheese

2-3 oz. goat cheese
1 Tbsp fresh herbs
Pinch of salt
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
3 long Japanese eggplants
3 Tbsp golden raisins
3 Tbsp pine nuts

Combine the goat cheese, chopped herbs and pinch of salt and set aside. Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt. Cut off the ends of the eggplants, cut in half lengthwise, then peel off an inch-wide strip of skin from the outside, lengthwise. Pierce through both sides, using the point of the knife. Season with more sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Mix up and add more marinade if necessary.

Heat a grill, grill pan or black cast iron skillet to medium-high. Oil lightly and cook eggplant on both sides until soft and charred but not black. Remove as done and top with goat cheese, pine nuts and raisins. Lower heat and return to the pan, drizzle with remaining marinade, cover and reheat until cheese is slightly softened.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2010 Census Guacamole

I worked for the Census for a year and a half, and met some wonderful people there - Shelly, Junise, Wanda, Winnie, Laura, Lori, Kathleen, Bob, Malissa, Pam, Vinh, Ginger - you know who you are! Some of them had fantastic fruiting trees in their yards, and shared the bounty. We had wonderful mangoes, papayas and avocadoes. So wonderful, it hurts to have to buy them.

No, it's not only the price, but the quality! In the supermarkets, they are invariably the Haas variety - small and crocodile-skinned, with little meat. At the farmers' market, they were a good size, with smooth green skin, but as they ripened, the skin darkened to an eggplant purple.

Avocadoes and I have a love-fear relationship. I love to eat them, but I fear they will all ripen at once - massive guacamole-making session! - or I will be too busy, and they will go into the Twilight Zone of overripe and mushy! One of the farmers' market avocadoes was ripe on the stem end, but still hardish on the blossom end, so I ended up cutting it into eighths, and using the the fully ripe avocado and the parts. Here is the recipe I made many times while Laura's and Winnie's avocadoes were so wonderful and plentiful:

2010 Census Guacamole

  • 2-3 large cloves garlic
  • ¼ medium, sweet onion
  • ¼ - ½ small tomato, chopped & drained
  • Juice of 2-3 small limes
  • 5 small-to-medium size ripe avocadoes
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin or more
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt or more
  • 10+ shakes hot sauce
With food processor blade running, drop garlic, onion and tomato into bowl while it’s running and process until finely minced.  Add seeded, quartered and peeled avocadoes with lime juice, cumin, salt and hot sauce. Process until all ingredients are incorporated, stopping to push avocadoes down with a rubber spatula. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Serve with your favorite chips or crudités.

Notes: I prefer my guacamole chunky; for this, you can mash up to 3 avocadoes with a fork, mince the garlic, onion and tomatoes fine and just combine with the rest of the ingredients. For more than that, you need MACHINERY! Also, if the avocadoes aren’t buttery, add a little extra virgin olive oil.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

He put Pirie Mango in his Chili con Carne

And it was good!

When I left the library last night, I said I was off to drink red wine. And I did.

The pinot noir I picked went well with Chef Jeff's chili, which was pleasantly hot and spicy. I think I would have put more garlic, oregano and cumin into it, but I guessed rightly that there were both chipotles and jalapenos in it.

Pirie mangoes are less acid and "smoother" tasting than the more common Haden variety, which are more fibrous and tangy. The piries have a peachy skin color with a whitish cast, and softer flesh. Hadens are more "telegenic", with vibrant green/red coloring. But the best mangoes I've ever tasted were big, beautiful Rapozas and equally big Shibatas. Piries are lovely, but so rarely found.

We ate on the "man cave" lanai, while the winds tried to decide whether they were trades or westerlies.

The guys lit up their cigars, the ladies tried to stay upwind, and the only thing missing was hot black coffee to go with the cheesecake.

A great way to start my one-day weekend! sigh. It's back to work, tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Memory of a Wild Boar Ragu

On Sunday, we went across town to pick up kalua pig from a fundraiser.

When we got home, we cracked open the container and forked out some tastes - yum! Just enough salt and smoke - and probably too much fat! I put it in the refer until tonight. Most people in Hawaii would cook up some onions, add the pork and maybe sliced head cabbage, cook a pot of white rice, and eat it up.

Here are two things I do, for a change:

1) Heat the pork and add your favorite barbecue sauce, to your taste. Toast some buns or load some pork onto slices of good bread with a melty cheese like Havarti or Muenster top with another slice and grill in a pan with a little butter, Serve with pickles or salt and vinegar chips. Yum!

2) What I did tonight: thinly slice half an onion and saute in a pan sprayed with PAM or lightly slicked with oil until lightly browned. Examine your kalua pig and remove the obvious chunks of fat. Add to the pan, breaking up chunks, and heat through. Splash in a generous amount of red wine - 3 to 4 ounces - and stir until combined. Add enough spaghetti sauce - Barilla and Classico are ones that I like - until it's wet but not soupy.  Taste - I added cracked black pepper and garlic salt. Serve with linguine or pappardelle.

Why is this a dupe for Wild Boar Ragu? Well, it isn't, but it does bring back memories of the lovely restaurant where we had lunch, in the Pearl district of Portland, OR. The noodles were probably pappardelle, and the pork sauce was very rich and yummy - the perfect meal on a cool and rainy afternoon. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but we were seated above the street level, and there were large open windows and lots of beautiful wood interiors. So, this is my approximation of that delicious food memory.

Along with the pasta and sauce, we ate leftover cucumber salat - thinly sliced cucumbers and onions salted, drained and mixed with vinegar, crushed garlic cloves, olive oil and cracked black pepper. And peeled julienned raw beets and diced sweet onion, marinated in Angelo Pietro ume dressing. Sliced tomatoes on the side, simply sprinkled with sea salt.

No dessert necessary - this was all yum!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yogurstory - a new option for coffee and dessert, great spinach salad!

We've been to this Korean coffee house/yogurt shop several times.

The first time, we'd eaten dinner at home, then went to a movie. We wanted to have coffee and dessert, but Honolulu is no longer an interesting place for those who seek this. I miss Upstart Crow, and Little Oven has been MIA for months. What's left is Starbucks with its burnt coffee and cold prefab desserts, and Zippy's with so-so coffee and ho-hum dessert.

So it was 9 pm when we walked into Yogurstory. I ordered an Americano, and the DH had regular coffee, and we split the Red Velvet Waffle. Can you say decadent and different? The coffees were more strong than anything else, but the atmosphere was well-designed, unhurried and relaxing.

We returned for lunch and enjoyed a sandwich and loco moco - both huge, we needed doggie bags.

We came back another time for pasta and ahi - both great.

Our most recent visit involved the chicken pesto pasta - again - and the spinach salad. We shared both of these, and they were excellent. We have very different tastes - the DH loves noodles, I like a variety of things. Yogurstory works for us! We are still talking about how huge and satisfying that spinach salad with the mandarin oranges, bacon and blueberry dressing is - we can't wait to eat it again!

I finally got to taste the frozen yogurt. It's different from most of the choices in Honolulu - Orange Grove, Yogurtland, Tutti Frutti - it's less creamy. And let's face it, I do not go for cookies, nuts, candies or sauce. I reach for the strawberries, blueberries and jellies and popping boba toppings. I was very happy!

Do you eat frozen yogurt? If so, what is your favorite?

Is there a salad you love to eat - whether at a restaurant, or at home?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Best Doughnuts in Honolulu and why I don't eat them

You'll have to take my word for it, and I'm passing it on from the many people who love these.

The best doughnuts - fluffy, light, puffy, big circles of sugary glazed goodness - are made by Kamehameha Bakery, located at 1339 North School Street in Kalihi. When you ask anyone who lives in Honolulu - and loves doughnuts - which ones are the best, they will NOT answer "Krispy Kreme". And they will not pass up the opportunity to eat a Kamehameha Bakery glazed doughnut, even if they're on a diet. When I tell them they can happily help themselves to my share, they eagerly agree!

I have never eaten one. Once upon a time, I used to eat doughnuts. They were not the fluffy glazed ones. When Honolulu used to have Dunkin' Doughnuts, I would eat the doughnut with the handle at least once a week. That was so tasty but heavy - dropped to the bottom of your stomach like a hockey puck - I know they helped make me the woman I am today.

Why don't I eat doughnuts of any kind? I decided I had to draw the line SOMEWHERE. I no longer eat bacon, either. Well, OK, I no longer go out of my way to order it. Once in a while I'll have a sandwich and *forget* it comes with bacon in it. We eat turkey bacon at home. It is not bacon, but it has a similar smokiness and crispiness. I admit to having a recent salad I'll write about later that had TOO MUCH bacon - if such a thing is possible!

Back on topic, to the doughnuts! I did make an exception in 2006, when we were in Portland. I had to make a visit to that freaky Temple of Circular Pastry, Voodoo Donuts. I ate the vegan blueberry, and it was YUM!

Anyway, in my opinion, there is something else that Kamehameha Bakery makes that is BETTER than glazed doughnuts. These are a Pilipino pastry called ensemada - a soft, breadlike circular pastry formed into a spiral snail shape, spread with butter and sprinkled with sugar. It's another form of dough with sugar - but baked instead of fried - and these are the best tasting ones I've found in Honolulu. If there are better ones, please someone tell me where to find them? I've eaten them from Napoleon's Bakery, St. Germain, Liliha Bakery and they do not compare. What makes them wonderful? They have this wonderful yeasty taste that's not found in the others, with the right amount of butter and sugar. They come in two sizes: small (they're really more medium) and large (which are too large - too much to eat at one sitting unless it's already 10 am and somehow you've missed breakfast and have hot black coffee at hand!)

Every few months, the DH will TELL me he's going there to Kamehameha Bakery, to pick up some pastries for the folks in his office. He asks me what I'd like. This time I told him "3 small ensemada". He went there early enough that they still had them - they do run out! He doesn't see the wonderfulness of these; he'd rather eat a haupia doughnut or a chocolate eclair. It takes me 3 days to eat these, and they are never so wonderful after the first day, when that sugary buttery airiness dissolves in your mouth with each bite!

- Oh, honey!?

BTW, Kamehameha Bakery makes naughty bread for bridal showers, but that is a story for another time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Two great home-cooked meals


Saturday night: sockeye salmon from Costco (I hate that place!) with fruit salsa. Recipe: one nectarine, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice, 2 Tbsps diced sweet onion, one large Roma tomato, diced, 1/2 to one jalapeno - seeded or not depending on how hot you like it! Mix together with a splash of EVOO and one to two tsps lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro. I also made a version of this adobo-style eggplant. Trim ends and peel some of the skin from two large Japanese eggplants, then cut into one-inch-thick diagonal slices. Saute in oil until soft, Add 1/4 cup sliced onion and 1 cup haricots verts (French green beans - from Costco, as was the eggplant). Cook until onion is slightly soft, then sprinkle with one to two teaspoons sugar, 2 to 3 Tbsps shoyu, 2 to 3 Tbsps. vinegar, and garlic salt to taste.

4th of July Monday night: whole wheat spaghetti, 16/20 shrimp cooked with EVOO, homemade basil pesto from the freezer and wine to deglaze the pan. I made two salads: peeled and sliced 3 lovely beets and julienned them. I also julienned a finger. Ow! Mixed with Angel Pietro ume dressing, diced sweet onion and chiffonade of fresh basil. Instead of making namasu, I turned the remaining three cucumbers I talked about here into cucumber salat: trim ends and peel skin in strips, halve and remove most seeds. Slice thinly and sprinkle with 2 tsps sea salt. Mix and let sit for at least an hour. Slice 1/4 sweet onion and 2 cloves of garlic and mix in. Stir together 3 Tbsps vinegar, 2 Tbsps EVOO, 1 tsp sugar and mix into cucumbers.

The DH groaned with pleasure over both of these dinners - and that is the highest praise!

Happy Eating to you all!