Friday, December 14, 2012

Autumn Dinner @ Home in Honolulu

My vegetables are talking to me. Again.

Tonight, they said: make me into a soup to warm up to this cool, blustery day.

This time it was a big ole yam and a pile of baby kale talking.

I peeled and chunked the yam, covered with water and microwaved until almost done.

Peeled and sliced a small onion and 3 cloves of garlic, then sauteed those in olive oil.

Added the yam chunks to the pot, along with about a cup of the water they were cooked in, as well as 1-1/2 cups of turkey broth from Thanksgiving.

Shredded about 4 cups of the baby kale and added that to the pot, along with 2/3 can of coconut milk.

Seasoned with black pepper, cayenne (just a pinch), salt, cumin. Simmered until the kale was soft.

Served the resulting soup with chopped tomatoes and Christopher Sy City bread. Sorry, no photos.

How would I make this better? Maybe some nutty garbanzo beans.

Monday, November 12, 2012

When I Cook

It's usually vegetable-based. By that, I mean the vegetables that are crying out to be used need my attention.

Tonight, we ate purslane salad with slivers of red onion, and cubes of cucumber and Roma tomatoes, with Angelo Pietro ume dressing. And miso steelhead with Sun Noodle soba. The marinade was thinned with water and heated in the pan the fish was cooked in. All simple, but good. And there are enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Now, if only the asparagus, zucchini and kabocha would stop talking to me!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dinner at Prima Kailua

WARNING: the following photos (all by Mike) show plates with bites taken out of them or worse, plates with only a sad bite left. This is both a reflection of how tasty the food was AND how hungry we were!

We were there a week or two before they celebrated their first anniversary. We were so happy to be greeted at the door by smiling Blaine. I wouldn't know where to start talking about him, so for now I'll just say he's welcoming and capable - between him as host, and our waiter, Keenan, we were in good hands.

It had been a while since we'd had dinner there, so we'd asked Mike, who lives in Kailua, if he wanted to join us. We got to eat more things with three of us. We started with some liquid libations: Ted had the Bamberger lager, which he enjoyed. Mike and I had the aperitif of St. Germain with I think - prosecco - and soda - refreshing and delicious!

We heard the specials, and quickly ordered 3 of them. We enjoyed the opah, Samoan crab ravioli and grilled tako.

You're talking about three hungry people, so photos of food were secondary to tasting and eating! At right, the last bite of the local opah belly gravlax with cucumber, egg, creme fraiche. Yum!

Next photo below left is the grilled tako with lima beans. Confession: I hate lima beans! These were yum! The octopus was caught nearby, expertly grilled, beans wonderfully tasty. Mike said even his grandmother would eat this, it was so tender. This was the favorite of both guys.
After the tako, see the Samoan crab ravioli with chorizo, potato and crab sauce. Two orders, because I'm greedy! So good.

The pasta dish is onolicious Spaghetti Amatriciana - with tomato, guanciale. Am I the only one who wants to pronounce guanciale with a soft "c"? There were no prisoners!

We were ready for dessert from the creative mind of Aker, Alejandro Briceno. We had the gelato sampler, and the flavors were banana, fig, almond cake and Mike's favorite, milk.We demolished the anise fritters - like very light and tiny andagi - they are gone in the photo.

On the left is chocolate juniper cake with brulee shards, a crumble and grapefruit sorbetto, and on the right is mango gelato with pistachio crunch, and - I think - tuiles and panna cotta. Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong on any of these! Basically, we just ate 'em because they were delicious.

Above, see the hardworking crew of Prima Kailua, who looked like this most of the night. They had a full house! Lindsey, in the background, was kind enough to say hello, and thank us for trekking over the mountains. We'll be back, as there are still things we haven't tried: the fennel panna cotta, brussels sprouts and grilled baby romaine, chicken-fried sweetbreads, more. What else should you eat there? The papardelle with curried bolognese, asparagus risotto, the crudo of the day!

Congratulations to Prima - not only for their first anniversary, but for their 'Ilima Critics' Choice Award for Best New Restaurant 2012-2013! They are open 7 days a week from 5 pm to 10 pm, located at Kailua Town Center, next to Foodland. Ph. 888-8933.

By the way, Mike, I want to eat with your grandmother: she's a champ!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Second Dinner at Whole Ox Deli

Even before we finished our first dinner at Whole Ox Deli, we started making plans for our second! We were full of good food and wine, but we needed to eat the Pork Shank for 4! We weren't sure what to expect, but pork and shank said "beer" to me. Mike & Laurie said to leave the beer to them, and we picked a date for two weeks in the future.Well, none of us could stop thinking about it, and every time we bumped into each other - Honolulu is such a small town - we were just reminded of our dinner date.

When I emailed Mike to remind him of the date and time, he replied asking if he could bring his friend, Vinh. I asked, Vinh ____ ? Then I said, "NO!"

I was just kidding - I'd worked with Vinh about 3 years ago, but we hadn't been in touch for maybe 2 years. So with the DH, that made 5 eaters for this dinner!

When we got to the Whole Ox, we found we weren't the first of the group to get there. Vinh had staked out an inside table, but we convinced him to sit outside. We quickly caught up on our families, and Mike arrived from parking his car. Laurie joined us, and this is the beer they brought.

It went very well with the vegetable pakoras of lightly battered and fried kale and alii mushrooms served with a harissa sauce. We also had another appetizer because we spoke to Chef Bob so longingly about it. That is all.

There are no photos of those items because we ate it all. All. Gone.

By this time, we were ready to take a deep breath before the main event. And here it is in all its glory. Deep-fried. Pork. Shank. With Ma'O greens and fried potatoes. For just a moment, all of us just stared. Then we tried to figure out how to dissect it.

Well, all we needed to do was pull out the bone, and it literally fell apart. And we fell in. So delicious. Indescribable. Add the sides of pickles, mustard and lime-chili vinaigrette - heaven. And the beer - perfect!

Our only reference point of comparison would be the German pork shank, schweinhaxe. But that is roasted and served with sauerkraut. This is gloriously better. Don't let us get started on the skin!

Did we have room for dessert? Of course! Especially when they're from the inventive mind of Aker, Alejandro Briceno. These are not in order, but, here's the Smoked Brownie with Lay's BBQ potato chips, and the Jasmine Rice Panna Cotta. Both ono! So much that Mike got a panna cotta for himself! And just about licked it clean.

I've included our desserts from the previous dinner. The beef and pork fat cookies with chocolate ganache and cacao nibs and dulce de leche with shaved coconut, respectively. And the caramelized white chocolate cake that looks like bacon.

The Whole Ox Deli Dinner Fan Club needs to return. We have to eat the tasso, the New Orleans-style ham. We don't know how many of the group will assemble, or when. And there's always lunch!

See you there Thursday, after 8 pm. I'll need a burger by then. Our group agreed that Chef Bob's burger has spoiled us for any other!
Please note: all the lovely food porn photos are from Laurie, @konaish
Dinner at Whole Ox Deli, 327 Keawe St. in Kaka'ako around the corner from Auahi St. - across from the former COMPUSA - is served Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 pm to 10 pm. Last order in by 9:30, please. BYOB

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adobo Eggplant

Or how to use it up. This is a made-up recipe; this isn't fancy, it is home cooking. I did look up the ingredients for the seasonings in order to get the proportions right.

Trim and cut 4 to five small to medium long eggplants in diagonal pieces. Lightly saute these in canola oil just until slightly soft. You will probably need to do this in 3 batches; set them aside on a plate as they finish cooking. I had a small piece of pork - about 1/3 lb. - that I sliced into 1/2 x 2-in. strips. I cooked the pork along with half a medium size onion, sliced;

Combine 1/4 cup shoyu, 1/4 cup + 1 T. rice vinegar, about 1-1/2 tsp. sugar (I'm sure I used less; I don't care for sweet food) and a grinding of fresh black pepper. Put this sauce mixture in the pan and heat until slightly bubbling. Add the eggplant back to the pan, along with 1/2 cup hot water. Heat all of the ingredients through, then turn off the heat.

Take a package of Sun Noodles Yakisoba, gently break up the noodles into a microwave-safe bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and nuke this for a minute or two.

Note: this yakisoba does not come with sauce. Costco carries a multi-pack - more economical plus you can freeze it.

Drain the water, plate the noodles and top with eggplant mixture and, of course, some sauce. If you have cilantro and sliced green onions, garnish heavily with those, but I had neither on hand.

The DH took the leftovers to school for lunch, the pinay office staff all tasted and declared they loved it, "cause it's not strong like adobo usually is". Must be the Japanese rice vinegar and light hand with the pepper.

I've written about making adobo-style eggplant before here, but the seasoning and the noodles made this a winner.

There is another eggplant recipe with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar I make over and over because it's delicious. I thought I'd written about the banchan-style vegetable recipe I made up because I don't want to eat Korean takeout just to eat that. But I haven't done so yet, so that will be posted here soon.

But I think you might want to know about the second meeting of the Whole Ox Deli Dinner Fan Club before that? Coming sooner!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Late Summer Dinner

The temptation to eat out is huge after a day of work, when my brain is fried. It helps me to do two things before I even leave work. First, I make a short list of the produce available at home. Then, I try to think of ways to combine those vegetables so they resemble something approximating dinner, and write them down.

Last night, I sauteed the few remaining asparagus spears and Hamakua alii mushrooms with sweet onions in a little bit of olive oil, then dumped in leftover whole wheat spaghetti. Please try the Garofalo brand whole wheat variety from Costco - it actually tastes good! I added four good glugs - you know what I mean! - of leftover dry white wine and a healthy grinding of black pepper. To all of this, I added about 3 tablespoons of the compound butter I made with stinky Red, White & Bleu cheese from Naked Cow Dairy. Yes, I figured out another use for the butter, other than bruschetta, or on some lean steak! Finally, I added about a cup of purslane sprigs and some fresh thyme.

I served the above topped with a few Gida Snyder oil-packed Roma tomatoes grown by Ho Farms and local over-easy eggs. And accompanied the pasta with thinly sliced, toasted Christopher Sy bread topped with Naked Cow Dairy cow's milk chevre. You must taste this chevre - to die for! We tried this at the Wednesday Blaisdell Honolulu Farmers Market, and HAD to buy some to take home - so, so good!

The DH asked if I'd dreamed up the above pasta. Yes! Who else would?

Please check with the above vendors to see if these tomatoes and cheeses are still available. If not, find the very best substitutes you can afford, as using fine ingredients truly makes a difference. Enjoy the bounty of summer; the produce is at its best.

More nights of summer dinners to come, including adobo eggplant and red pepper tortas. The eating is constant, especially the consumption of fresh vegetables; the writing is unfortunately more sporadic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Monday Night Dinner Party

We were invited to dinner at a cigar friend's home. It's ALWAYS last minute, and when there is nothing fantastic in the cupboards or refrigerator, I just grab or buy a couple bottles of wine.

This time, there were some goodies! He grilled ribeye steaks and sauteed onions to go with them. Other people brought noodles, giant wontons and roast pork. I took Christopher Sy artisan bread, sliced it thinly, had the DH toast it, and spread it thinly with compound butter made with Naked Cow Dairy stinky Red, White & Bleu cheese, topped with cucumber and Ho Farm mixed grape tomatoes. If only I hadn't forgotten the watermelon radishes!

After dinner, I put out a plate of Naked Cow Dairy Waianae Sunset cheese with a sliced French bread epi, Naked Cow Dairy cultured butter and sweet black seedless grapes. Spread bread with butter, top with cheese, eat with grapes - heaven!

I'd seen these Ines Rosales tortas in R. Field, but the price was prohibitive. When I found them on the bargain shelf at Foodland Beretania, they were marked down 70%! I bought half of them, and I should have bought them all, because there were none when I returned. I bough 3 flavors: plain, rosemary & thyme and orange. They're made in Seville, Spain and they're delicious! At the dinner party, I broke the orange flavor tortas - which are sprinkled with sugar with orange zest, and slightly caramelized - into wedges, and spread them with the last of the kaya. I topped this with slices of sweet white nectarine. When the nectarine ran out, that was it!

I later found out this went over very well with the cigar guys. They asked for more, the DH said, "No more!" They now call this the "Not Enough" dessert. Who knew? Guess they don't lose their sense of taste!

Are there photos of any of this? No, the food was in our tummies, and it was good!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dinner at Whole Ox Deli

Bob McGee served his first dinners on Tuesday, August 14th. Two nights later, this bunch of hungry eaters assembled, and two bottles of wine were shared. This is the current menu:

Whole Ox menu photo via @docrock
And there are specials. For the four of us, we ordered the lardo, the poutine, the kielbasa and the sirloin. How do we describe the poutine? Laurie (@konaish) tweeted it was better than any poutine she'd ever eaten. I forgot what Michael said about it. I'd never had poutine, and I can't imagine curds larger than cottage cheese that squeak being a good thing. Ever.

Whole Ox Poutine with foie via @konaish
Upon seeing Laurie's Instagram, @NonStopMari said: "Omg i wish i cd crawl thru my phone and eat that food!!" Here's the poutine, with that jaunty piece of foie gras on top, and stinky, delicious taleggio. I'm pretty sure Mari meant that about the lardo, too. 

Bob explained that the lardo could only be made from piggies from Malama Farm on Maui. These Berkshires - or kurobuta - may have a better lifestyle than mine! They sure have a better view! Their diet and life make a difference in the way they taste. And the fact that it takes Bob weeks to cure the lardo, and weeks more to age it, means that it took almost 5 months to get to perfect. And a few minutes for us to eat it! Sooo delicious. The kielbasa with Ma'o kale, pierogi and kim chi cream was as good as it looks and sounds. The sirloin was lean and tasty, and all of us ate the baby carrots like they were candy. 

Did we have dessert? Of course! We won't tell you what they were, except that they were made by @KIAWE_FIRE , Alejandro Briceno. It'll be a sweet surprise! 

Whole Ox Lardo with Asian pear via @konaish
Kielbasa with pierogi, kim chi cream via @konaish             
Whole Ox Sirloin with baby carrots, potatoes via @konaish

When Whole Ox Deli & Butcher first opened, I wrote about the dream of having my own butcher, as my mother used to. Well, that dream is now possible. From time to time, Bob now offers lovely cuts of pork and beef - chops and steaks. Follow him on Twitter, @WholeOxDeli.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Too Many Cucumbers?

I'd make this salad I had Saturday night at the Pacific Gateway Center, an organization that helps immigrants become self-sufficient. No recipe, I'd finely shred the cucumbers after deseeding and removing some of the peel. Dress with mild vinegar like rice or apple cider, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon or less of sugar. Let dressing sit with a sliced clove of garlic and one teaspoon sliced deseeded jalapeno pepper for at least an hour. Remove the garlic and pepper before dressing the salad, and garnish with mint. 

The other things on the plate are vegetable curry and chicken biriyani, and they were all delicious! This dinner was $20 for 5 courses, $4 for beverages. The next Burnese dinner will be Saturday, August 25th at 6 pm. Call 851-7070 for reservations. Seating is limited.

The best thing about the dinner - besides the food - I got to meet three Burmese people! Delightful!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two Farmers' Markets in Two Nights

Wednesday night, after a day of THREE appointments in a row, we headed for the bustling Blaisdell Farmers' Market. We ate, as usual, at The Pig & The Lady, Vietnamese street food. No photos of what we ate - it's all in our tums - but it was all good! From the kim chee bruschetta - so messy it squirted out on my shopping bag and slacks - to the bun cha (yes, I know bun is noodles, but only pork patties, pickles and other goodness on crusty French bread) to the oxtail pho - so, so yum!

Then there was Mr. Le's series of "special" drinks - from the iced coffee to the delicious tea made even more so with some ginger syrup, meant for the tofu dessert. All the Le family members have fantastic, inventive palates! After the sun goes down, the Blaisdell Honolulu Farmers' market turns into a cool oasis of relief.

Cheese plate: Naked Cheese Bastille Day dinner
We came home with Ho Farms Indigo Rose tomatoes, a large watermelon radish, enough TP&TL leftovers for lunch, and Naked Cow Dairy Waianae Sunset tomme cheese and cultured butter. I spoke to her for only a few minutes, but congratulations to cheesemaker Gida Snyder on her recent, well-deserved award from Les Dames d'Escoffier International!


The next night after work, we headed for the Thursday night market at St. Clement's, in Makiki. If you get there just around 5:30, there's ample parking on Wilder next to Makiki Park. We headed straight to our favorite food vendor and got 2 plates of the shrimp stir-fry: well seasoned with a pile of fresh vegetables. We both had enough leftovers for another meal. I was happy to see a new produce vendor, and picked up an avocado and a bunch of watercress.

Before I left, I stopped at the Sweet Revenge tent to congratulate Kathy Masunaga, the second Hawaii recipient of the Les Dames d'Escoffier International award.

Two farmers' markets, two award winners. No coincidence here; this is where you'll find the best food. And the best people in Hawaii.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bastille Day Cheese Dinner at the Naked Cow Dairy

The DH and I are townies, so anything beyond city limits is an excursion!

Last week Saturday, we headed out to Waianae, old-school map and GPS, with two lady food writers, @NonStopMari, & @Melissa808. Our destination was Naked Cow Dairy, where Gida Snyder cooked us an amazing dinner. Gida has just been recognized - deservedly so - with an entrepreneurial legacy award by Les Dames d'Escoffier for her locavore activism and mad cheesemaking skills.

Earlier in the week, Gida commented that she'd never cooked for us before. She needn't have worried - we were blown away by the menu she devised, from the champagne/cherry aperitif, to the entree, cheese course and sweet ending!

I can't stop thinking about the first course of red, white & bleu sauce with sweet potatoes, chard and entrecote - that has embedded itself in my taste memories! It is astounding that all the vegetables were so delicious: from the arugula to the Tokyo negi! Here's the rest of the menu from NonStopMari.

I remember we toasted to "local", and that was the most marvelous part of it - that 90+% of what we ate that night was grown or raised in our islands. Butter & cream from the Naked Cow Dairy cows, and other cows. Rabbit from Kapolei, beef from Waianae. Local vegetables, herbs and fruit. All the ladies - NKD and adjuncts - were lovely. Especially Sabrina/Sam and Monique! You must read NonStopMari's account of the evening, including a newborn calf, and fabulous photos from @dallasnagata - she of the "hottest kiss" - and some from @MikeSumida!
The flip side to that story is that most of the time, 90+% of what we eat came from somewhere else! Since I started going to farmers' markets regularly, we eat a lot more fruit and vegetables that were grown here: from the mango and cantaloupe ripening in my baskets to the local eggs, beets and cucumbers.

Here is some of what came to be after this memorable cheese dinner:
I took the leftover butter from my Indiegogo NKD grilled cheese sandwich perk to work, along with artisan bread baked by Christopher Sy. One coworker was hooked on the butter, so I bought her some the next time I was at the farmers' market. Another one loves the bread! Still another asked me what my latest food adventure was, so I'll let her know when the next cheese dinner is scheduled. As a librarian, I never knock people on the head with information, rather, I introduce them gently, with a taste. A taste of change.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dinner @ Home

How boring? No!

The night after we came home I made a watermelon salad dressed only in chili pepper water with mint and cilantro. The DH shucked opihi from Hawaii island so fresh, it was moving! Just add shoyu and lime. Stew luau from Hawaiian Style Cafe - just outside of Kamuela - came as a portion so huge, we brought half of it home, frozen in the tiny ice tray section of our hotel mini-refrigerator. I added a heaping saimin-spoon of powdered coconut milk to tone down the saltiness, heated and served it with day-old poi and chili pepper water. Rounds of purple Okinawan sweet potato completed the meal - a feast!

How do you gild a lily? Go for a walk, then come back to vanilla ice cream with Kona King mango (from the Hilo Farmers' Market) cubes - so buttery they could crown an expensive French/Japanese pastry!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Early Summer Dinner

Dinner last night - well, we should begin with LUNCH yesterday. I had the very rare Monday off, so we went to Whole Ox Deli for lunch. Always great fun to see Bob & Erica McGee, and the food is great! Ted had the chicken fried chicken sandwich, I had the porchetta.

I also got a piece of pork terrine - with cherries and hazelnuts - to go, and that was dinner! Along with cornichons from Ho Farms, a sliced heirloom tomato from Wow Farms, and Herb 'n Farmer cheese from Naked Cow Dairy at the Honolulu Farmers Market. There were also crisp slices of apple, rustic bread from La Tour Bakery. And there was wine. We ate all of this on the lanai as the sun went down.

Note that I didn't actually cook anything. Life is good.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

When life gives you long beans

And you have eggplant and kabocha pumpkin, what do you make?

The custodians - specifically Rich - make a wonderful pinakbet. This is lots of healthy vegetables with a bit of  pork or shrimp which is more condiment than focus of the dish. The key ingredient is bagoong, a thick fish sauce. Instead, I used patis, a liquid fish sauce.

I had leftover Chinese roast pork from a foray into Chinatown, so I started with a little over one cup of those chopped pieces of pork. After they took on some color, I took them out of the pan and set them aside. I added a bit of oil to the pan and sauteed 2 long eggplants sliced on the diagonal until they had some color and were softened a bit. Removed those from the pan, added a little more oil and sauteed 1/2 an onion until they started softening, added 2 cloves of garlic, sliced.

I had about 1-1/2 cups kabocha from the freezer that I put in the microwave on the defrost-then-micro-one-minute each cycle, then added to the pan with 1/2 cup water. Place pork and eggplant back into the pan, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then add about a cup of long beans cut to 2-3 inch lengths along with a tablespoon of patis and black pepper to taste. Turn vegetables gently, add 1/2 cup tomatoes cut in 1-in. pieces, then serve with hot rice.

Notes: because roast pork was used, this was richer and saltier than if you had used uncooked pork to begin with. The traditional recipe calls for okra, which I didn't have, and bitter melon, which I don't care for. There are enough leftovers for one very hungry person, or two with a side dish.

Naimas, masarap!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Salad Weather

It's just the start of June, and it's already hot. The golden shower trees are blooming beautifully.

When the produce is so fantastically ripe and perfect, doing very little to it is a marvelous idea. It's the right thing!

I've been craving this salad, and even made a version with roast pork and cracklings previously, but the fruit for this is now optimum: sweet, juicy and ripe.

Combine about 2 cups of seedless watermelon cut into one-inch cubes with the same size cubes and amount of ripe tomatoes. I used a combination of beefsteak and Roma tomatoes from WOW Farms. (We picked out a premium beefsteak that cost $2.50. I know. BUT it weighed TWENTY ounces! And YUM!)

Add a cup of mint leaves - large leaves torn - and 2 tablespoonsful of diced red onion. Gently toss all with dressing made with juice of one large lime, 2 tablespoonsful extra virgin olive oil, about 1/2 teaspoonful honey and coarsely ground sea salt to taste. Our coworker shared his Sudachi limes with us! Top individual servings with a sprinkle of Naked Cow Dairy queso. If you're not so fortunate to have access to this delicious local cheese, use a moist feta instead.

This salad was the perfect contrast to The Pig & The Lady Viet Loco Moco we brought home from yesterday's farmers' market at Blaisdell Center. This was jasmine rice topped with a local beef patty, poached egg, curry leaves and curry gravy. So delicious!

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's better with cheese from Naked Cow Dairy

There are no photos here. You'll just have to imagine how good these salads were, and how much they elevated the leftovers we ate with them last week.

The first was a whole bunch of purslane snipped from their stems, tossed with chunks of WOW Farms tomatoes and bites of Naked Cow Dairy Herb 'n' Farmer cheese, all in a simple red wine vinaigrette. This was happily and greedily gobbled up by both of us.

The second consisted of road kill avocado. Just kidding! This was foraged from the neighborhood. No, we did not steal! It was SOOO windy last week - we were on our evening constitutional, when we heard a big THONK. We were on our way home, and in the vicinity, we found a nice-sized avocado in the grass next to the sidewalk. After a couple of days, one spot was brown, but the rest buttery and delicious! This was served with slivers of sweet red onion, shreds of mint, more chunks of WOW Farms tomatoes, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, and generously sprinkled with Naked Queso.

Which Naked Cow Dairy cheese do I like best? This is like asking a mother which child is her favorite! Fuggedaboudit! But I can't wait to get my Big Cream Little Rind brie!

Here's my first post on the return of Naked Cow Dairy to the Honolulu Farmers Market at Neal Blaisdell Center.

Monday, May 28, 2012

So happy Naked Cow Dairy is back

We had leftovers tonight, but dinner was made sooo much brighter with sliced Orange Blossom tomatoes from WOW Farms in Waimea on the island of Hawaii. I just added a pinch of sea salt, splash of extra virgin olive oil, basil chiffonade and a sprinkle of Naked Cow queso crumbles. UNBELIEVABLY good!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When Push Comes to Shove

What's your favorite pickle? DON'T tell me you don't like pickles, 'cause then I can't talk to you!

My favorite pickle is the large garlic dill served with the hot pastrami at Carnegie Deli in NYC. I haven't been there in years, but my tastebuds remember it.

Why pickles? Every culture has them. They serve as a contrast to rich food. An example is the lightly pickled cucumbers in the BBK - smoked pork with Carolina vin - at Whole Ox Deli. In homestyle Japanese food, tsukemono - which means "pickled things" is always an accompaniment to the meal, as necessary as rice. Pickles can be savory or sweet, anything from nasubi (eggplant) to daikon (radish).

I didn't realize until this past Christmas Eve dinner with family, that one cousin's memory of our grandmother was the takuan (sweet yellow radish pickles) she made. And that the takuan served to stretch out meals that were meager in meat. Grandma was very frugal, and guavas from her trees became jelly, jam and juice. Orange peels were saved, sugared and eaten as candy.

Each of us prefers pickles of different kinds. For me, takuan needs the zip that comes from either a pinch of dried chili flakes or bit of fresh bird chili provide. Pickles can be as fiery as South Asian lime chile, or as soft as our family friends' cabbage tsukemono.

But, I was jonesing for that wonderful pickled mustard cabbage that's served with Mama Le of The Pig & The Lady's coconut water braised pork shoulder "Thit Kho Trung". I could eat it EVERY DAY, it is THAT GOOD. And I don't even like mustard cabbge! The pickles are a bit salty, a little tangy, with the edge of the mustard cabbage, but provide a zip in contrast to the rich pork and fragrant jasmine rice. 

I looked online, and one version had 4 ingredients, another 8! Here's my recipe:
Wash well and chop into 2-in. pieces 2 lbs. mustard cabbage and 1/2 sweet onion sliced and immerse in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and drain. Measure 4 to 5 cups of the water and add 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons sugar, 3-1/2 to 4 tablespoons salt, an inch of ginger, peeled and chopped and combine all until dissolved. Put all of this in a non-reactive container (I used a plastic bowl with cover) with a plate on top of the greens as a weight before you cover it. Leave it out (don't refrigerate) overnight. In the morning, taste for saltiness. If too salty, you can pour off the salty water, boil an equal amount and add to the greens. Transfer to jars and refrigerate.

She Has Not Been Cooking

More like assembling. She made:

Salsa topping for salmon, consisting of local vine-ripe tomatoes, a black plum, red onion, garlic, cilantro, local Mandarin orange and Sudachi lemon. The last two from a kind coworker who shared the bounty. The orange was a bit fibrous and the lemon very tiny, more like a lime.

The salmon was cut into serving pieces, sprinkled with one of those ubiquitous local seasoning blends of coarse salt, garlic and spices, and sauteed.

This was served with baby bok choy zapped in the microwave and sesame oil, shoyu, oyster sauce and sesame seeds stirred in. And quinoa.

The DH liked all of this very much, even though he was made to help by stirring salsa and cooking the salmon. And we have enough leftovers for another dinner!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Whole Ox Deli or My Neighborhood Butcher

I remember the days when my mother had her own butcher!

My dad needed to watch his cholesterol levels even back then, and once a week we made the trip to Kaimuki where mom bought lean cuts of meat like flank steak. She picked out pieces of round, had the butcher trim the fat, and ground them to order. That butcher shop doesn't exist any more.

Yes, there are butcher shops in Chinatown, but where does all the pork and beef come from now?

I remember, too, the pigs feet and oxtail soups my grandmother would make, how delicious they were. Much of it was the love and care she put into making them, but the meats were fresh and sourced locally. No such thing as frozen for grandma!

I saw my friendly neighborhood butcher (I wish!) yesterday when we went to The Whole Ox Deli. Folks were eating sandwiches as fast as they could dish them up, and drinking water like it was running out. So I had to go to the tap to fill my own cup - just like your hole-in-the-wall Chinese or Korean restaurant!

A voice called out and said, "Hi, darlin', I'd hug you but I'm all porky!" Huh? It was my favorite butcher, Bob McGee, the Whole Ox Deli proprietor. WOD has been open for less than a week, but I confess we've been there for three meals! Breakfast and lunch on opening Wednesday, and lunch yesterday (only because we're trying to practice moderation).

What did we eat? Opening day, we shared the steak and eggs and ordered the Medianoche (pork AND ham!) and roast beef - both delicious. Yesterday, DH had the Reuben, and I had the burger - beautiful AND tasty! Try the sides, too - the tomato and watermelon salad was yum!

Well, Bob WAS porky - up to his elbows in half a pig, cut into 4 pieces. This looked quite fresh and beautiful, and I'm going to guess it's from Shinsato farm or somewhere else local. I'm also sure the end products - porchetta, ham, whatever, will taste wonderful, too.

In the future, when the craziness settles down into routine, Bob and the Whole Ox want to be YOUR butcher and mine.

Take a look at Melissa Chang's reporting on Gayot and NonStopHonolulu.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Part Two: Dinner Party - Yes, Last Minute on a Work Night

When Chef Jeff invites, you'd be missing out if you said no! This is the second recent dinner invitation from him.

No time or energy to pick up something fantastic or cook, so we arrived with a very food-friendly Sangiovese and a robust Zin my brother-in-law would probably love.

What did we eat? Some lovely sashimi, "popcorn" potatoes, artichoke with lemon/garlic sauce prepared by Russ. Smoked fish - aku? And the highlight of the night: rack of lamb cut into chops. Yes, the Sangiovese went well with everything. We do not know about the Zin, as a disappointing Erath pinot noir was opened instead.

For dessert, there were cigars and spinach salad with bacon bits, onion, langostinos.

I'll have to check with the DH to see if he smoked my cigar!!! And I need to buy another bottle of that Zin...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What She Cooked in her Rice Cooker and Elsewhere

I've come (late) to the realization that I'm not good at multi-tasking.

Not at work, and much less so in the kitchen. So, if I can cook one part of a meal in the microwave oven, or even in a rice cooker, this is so much less stressful for me!

I'd purchased barley to make a hearty turkey-vegetable soup, but there was lots left. I wasn't in the mood to make something as decadent as a barley risotto (maybe next time!) So I decided to try and duplicate Chef Bob McGee's purslane salad from one of the dinners at his popup restaurant, Plancha. Here's what I did:

I rinsed 2 cups of pearled (dehulled) barley, sprayed my rice cooker pot with oil, and dumped in the barley with 4 cups of water and a splash more along with a generous pinch of salt. I let this soak for ten minutes, then hit the cook button on my very basic 8-cup rice cooker. This was cooked in about 45 minutes, and I let the barley sit for another ten minutes. I had the husband trim the stems from a bunch of purslane, then I made a dressing with 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and agave syrup to taste. (About 1 tsp. of the agave.) I took about 1-1/2 to to cups of the barley, added most of the purslane to this, and tossed with all of the dressing. (I put the leftover barley in zip-loc bags in the freezer.)

I had a bunch of beets with beautiful tops. I scrubbed them, then cut them into sections, placed them on a plate, covered tightly with Saran wrap, and microwaved them for about 5 minutes per side. Perfect! Not as tasty as roasted beets, but a LOT faster! The tops were washed well, sliced into pieces one inch wide, the stems trimmed into one inch pieces.

First, I sauteed the stems in a little olive oil, then I added the leaves and chopped garlic. After about 3 or 4 minutes, I added some white wine to the pan, salted to taste and added 2 Tbsp of pine nuts.

I microwaved thin stalks of asparagus and drained them. Then I put salt and pepper on both sides of some very thinly sliced pork cutlets. I rolled up 3 asparagus stalks in each of these pork pieces, then I floured the outsides of the rolls lightly. I browned the rolls in a pan, then added white wine to the pan along with some Worcestershire, water and a touch of agave syrup to make a sauce. Returned the cooked meat rolls into the sauce to warm through.

All of this made a feast for the two of us, and we had marvelous leftovers the next day!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to Stop Cars in Kakaako

Yesterday, I met Pickles. She sure got attention on Auahi Street, near downtown Honolulu. As I admired her, I watched the cars just about stop, or at least slow down!

Pickles is pretty, has much better eyeliner AND lashes than most of us, and yes, she was NAKED.

It's not often you see a cow in a parking space in Kakaako, but the cowgirls from Waianae's Naked Cow Dairy put Pickles under a nice tent, with a tarp under her feet and water to drink. As @yelphawaii said, it was "Cow-kaako"!

So, why was Pickles far away from sweet home Waianae, visiting the big city? She and the cowgirls, Sabrina and Monique, and their cowhands, were there for a cheese tasting in the @HIGreenHouse @RnDHI area to promote their IndieGogo fundraiser. In one afternoon, they raised about $3000, but that still leaves them $6000 short of their goal of $15,000. Although they received a USDA grant to promote their cheese, the dairy needs the fundraiser money for a cheese vat and pasteurizer, and to build an aging room.

Tasters were (subtly) encouraged to donate on the spot, in the tip compote jar or via the IndieGoGo website using the handy laptops available. @hnlfarmers @LisaAsagi was there - she is always so gracious and welcoming. Once again, I missed @Jayparasco - since we hang out in some of the same places, we'll meet IRL some day! I did get to properly meet @gidasnyder, Cheese Sorceress, who conjured up many of the great cheeses we tried.

What did we taste? Naked Farmer (!) cheese and a soft young cheese flavored with herbes de Provence or cumin and other flavors, Gouda - all good. But the Brie with port wine soaked figs and the buttermilk bleu with alae salt - Oh My Buddha - yum, yum, yum! I had tasted Naked Cow Dairy cream cheese and delicious feta at the farmers' market, but these little tastes left me WANTING MORE.

If you can, contribute something to the fundraiser in this way. As I write this, they have advanced and are only  a bit less than $6000 away from their goal.

Why should you contribute? Almost 100% of the cheese we eat in Hawaii comes from Somewhere Else. Somewhere FAR AWAY. 80% of the food we eat is imported. It comes here on boats and planes, and the carbon footprint is immense. Gas cost $4.35 in my neighborhood for regular yesterday!

Helping farmers who are working to produce good local food will benefit all of us by contributing to food security. The food will be fresher and last longer, too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When the Kabocha Looks Great

And they've been looking wonderful both in the supermarkets as well as the farmers' markets. Kabocha is a pumpkin with green skin and firm sweet flesh.

I picked out a nice one, and decided to cook it in traditional style. When you go to a Japanese restaurant here in Honolulu, you may be served a small portion as part of your meal. It tastes delicious - skin and all.

Here is the recipe I used. The only thing I did differently was to microwave it for about 2 minutes, turning it over once halfway, after I scrubbed and wiped it. It makes cutting into that tough skin a bit easier. I also made miso pork, using this recipe. Next time, I'd use 1/2 to 2/3 the amount of miso, and 1-1/2 to 2 times the amount of alcohol. I used white wine instead of sake, as that is what I had. Separately, I sauteed half an onion which I put in the bottom of the dish before I placed the cooked pork - the onion took in the pork/miso flavors. This was so delicious that next time, I'll saute an entire onion.

With the pork and the kabocha, we ate homemade cabbage tsukemono from a family friend which complemented the meal because it had a lot of fresh ginger and a touch of fresh bird chili. And of course, we had hapa rice - brown and white cooked together.

What are you eating these cold and rainy Hawaiian nights?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Reader Looking for Hamakua Alii Mushroom Recipes

To all two of those readers:

I don't have any new recipes. I haven't seen any mushrooms in the market to buy, but I also wasn't looking very hard for them.


I do have a Hamakua Alii mushroom idea!

A couple weeks ago, we went to V Lounge, one of our favorite happy hour spots in Honolulu. I'm not sure if this is unique here, but the character of the place changes over the course of the evening. Monday through Saturday, at 5:30 pm when we get there, the two booths are already full with couples or quads. One or two of the other tables have couples. They are either professionals like us or tourists. By 7 or 7:30 pm, when we're ready to leave, groups celebrating an occasion, or families - young children in tow - troop in.

I've never been there at 10 pm when it's crazy-packed with pre-clubbers, or 4 am when they push the last of the post-clubbers out the door. So, you decide which group you fit in with, and come!

Back on topic. What do you drink there? It's up to you. The happy hour prices on selected items are insane! And now they have a wine list (not happy-hour priced, but it looks varied and interesting!)

What do you eat there? Have one or two of the specials - they are always good and super-delicious. We had roasted cauliflower with pesto, anchovies and a touch of melted gorgonzola - heaven! Groan-inducing. I could attempt to duplicate it, but I don't have a kiawe (mesquite) oven. The other special was roasted mortadella with grainy mustard and sauerkraut. So yummy!

Other specials have included moi (farm raised fish) - #ohsogood! - also Waimanalo prawns and roasted beets.

But we always - ALWAYS! - have the Prima pizza. These are thin-crusted pizzas with charred edges. The Prima has fresh mozzarella, an egg yolk, truffle oil, other good stuff and - YES! - Hamakua Alii mushrooms, thinly sliced lengthwise.

I think it's the combination of the mushroom texture with the truffle oil umami that make this taste like abalone to me. Trust me when I say: IT TASTES GOOD!

If you can't make it to V Lounge, then you might try this at home. And please let me know how it turns out.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Philosophy of Eating

The original reason I kept this link was that the NYC food truck chicken and rice dish from the Serious Eats Cookbook via Gilt Taste sounded great. Though I haven't found the time to make the recipe yet.

But when I re-read the online article recently, I scrolled down after the fold - newspaper types will get this! - and found words that resonated with me:

"Serious Eaters are people who may come to food face first, tongues wagging, but who are about appreciation, not judgment. Who are about finding the delicious, not one-upsmanship. A community who may first consume the food, but who also want to engage with the people who make it – to learn from and respect and, in some cases, reverse-engineer from them."

Because I can't always afford to eat out, I do sometimes try to recreate something I've eaten in a restaurant.

Sometimes I'm just not good at reverse-engineering, though, and I just give up!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Beef/Asparagus Rollups & Recycled Soup

I know that soup doesn't sound good, but the DH said it was heaven! I took the leftovers from this Love Soup, warmed them and added 1/3 packet of powdered coconut milk and attacked them with my immersion blender (red!)

Then I warmed up some hapa rice - white short grain and brown jasmine - from the freezer.

For the main course, I had thinly sliced beef that I seasoned with salt and pepper. I rolled these slices around blanched asparagus and fastened with toothpicks. Browned the rolls in olive oil, then deglazed with white wine and seasoned with Worcestershire and shoyu.

Next time: I'd flour the outside of the rolls so they'd brown a bit more, use butter to brown in, and deglaze with red wine.

But... that's what I had. It was fast. It was good!

Sorry, no pics - we ate it all!

Otherwise, we've been eating lots of salad with baby greens and cara cara (pink) orange or Bosc pear with local tomatoes from the Waialua farmers' market, slivered red onion and cucumber. Last night, we ate that with salmon filets (the DH ate the skin!) and leftover V Lounge pizza. It was ALL good!

Now, to tackle that kabocha!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Favorite OnoPops

What's an OnoPop? A local, Hawaiian paleta or popsicle. The flavors are natural and fresh. They are the perfect dessert after a meal at The Pig & The Lady at the Wednesday night Honolulu Farmers' Market. Nothing like a bowl of @PigandtheLady soup first, then a tangy OnoPop!

Recently enjoyed flavors have been: Candied Kumquat - @Melissa808 's new fave, also Rangpur Mojito - especially refreshing after something spicy, and Surinam Cherry Chocolate Chip.

Older favorite are: Pickled Green Mango, Pink Lemon Cream and Ume Thai Basil.

We have also enjoyed Pineapple Li Hing, Calamansi Coriander, Mango Habanero-Lime and Caramel Shoyu.

If you notice a trend here - you are CORRECT! We like our @OnoPops puckery with tart flavor!

We admit there are some flavors (no longer available) we were much too afraid to try: Saimin - yes, REALLY! Complete with noodles and fishcake! And Spam. We're not too big on Spam, and when we do eat it, it's on a musubi.

Tell me what your favorite OnoPop or paleta flavors are!?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just in Time: the Soup of Love

Well, it IS very red!

Last night, I looked around and saw beets. I microwaved them in some water until soft to the touch, and cut the smaller one into crescents which I placed on tender salad greens with tomato chunks, small pieces of blood orange and slivers of red onion, and I served this with balsamic vinaigrette.

That left the big beet, which I cut into chunks - this wasn't big enough for soup on its own. I chopped a small onion, and a small carrot as well. I chopped the carrot into 1/2-inch dice and microwaved this in some beet liquid.

I sauteed the onion in butter until soft, then added the drained carrots and beets. I added a cup and a half of chicken broth, a thumb's worth of peeled, chopped ginger and about a cup of canned diced tomatoes. I seasoned it all with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, turmeric and garlic salt as well, as I've run out of fresh garlic.

At this point, I had the DH taste the very-red soup. I fully planned to add half a packet of coconut milk powder and use my immersion blender to pulverize all and make it smooth and sexy, but the DH said, "No need!" I may still do this to the leftovers!

I served the soup and salad with young, fresh corn on the cob, and slices of La Tour kalamata olive bread toasted and topped with havarti.

Lots of fiber, and very warming on a cool night, this was a bright red soup for the one I love.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lunch at Work: Part Two, or When the Custodians Cook, It IS Good!

The maintenance crew where I work usually cook lunch on Saturday. Is it a coincidence that no one from admin works that day? They set a pot of rice cooking and sometimes plan to make pork or chicken. Here's an example of what they've cooked previously. When they cook adobo, the aromas get into the elevator, then permeate the library!

What's new is that I now PLAN to eat with them! Why? Well, the food is good, but so is the company! I choose to sit with them because - shhh, don't tell - they're more fun than the librarians and other staffers! We usually talk about what we do and don't like to eat, and new things we're learning to cook.

When it's my turn to do storytime, I have DH join me for the crafts, so we pick up lunch from Gulick delicatessen that morning, then he joins us all for lunch in the lunchroom. The DH always eats the Gulick fried rice and short ribs, I always have the shiso musubi and eggplant.

Yesterday, the custodians cooked up onions with sardines in tomato sauce, and fried Spam with scrambled eggs, and one of them brought adobo from home. Of course, they always have their condiment of vinegar with hot bird chilis. My contribution to the potluck was cucumber namasu and California roll from Gulick. The custodians like the DH because he's an eater who enjoys!

Other times, it will just be fried rice or fried saimin. Some of it is very humble local food, indeed - but delicious!

I can't wait for them to make my favorite: pork or chicken soup with taro or green papaya, both with lots of garlic! I have to stop at one bowl, or risk sleeping at the reference desk!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spanish Rice/Public School Lunch Update

The DH reported that just the other day, he had something called "Spanish Green Beans" for school lunch.

I asked him, "What happened to the RICE?"

He said, "Oh, it was served separately."

I can't imagine that tasted as good as the REAL Spanish Rice! It couldn't have!

We talked about school lunch in the lunchroom at work, and one remembered how good the apple crisp was, another said the cafeteria manager at her elementary school was SUCH a good cook, and made everything from scratch. So intermediate and high school lunches were a rude and disappointing surprise, as she said it, the food was, "Junk!"

One last great thing about public school food: the cinnamon toast! The cafeteria ladies would save stale bread in the freezer, then, when they had enough, they would butter it (or who knows, it may very well have been OLEO, aka margarine!?), throw on a ton of cinnamon sugar, and bake until crisp.

THE BEST cinnamon toast!

NOW I'm hungry!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Comfort Me with... Spanish Rice??? Comfort Food, Part Three

How coincidental is this? I made Spanish Rice two nights ago, tried to write a post about it last night, but the desire to sleep won out over the need to write! Then, I look at this morning's StarAdvertiser food section and see the article on the same dish! (If you're not a subscriber, there's a paywall and you won't be able to read it!) Or just check out the recipe below. We were talking about the food we grew up on - public school cafeteria lunches!

I'm not a sentimental person when it comes to the past, or about music, and I don't remember much that was good about school lunch - except the sloppy joes and SPANISH RICE! Every time I mention the latter, folks ooh and aah! It sure wasn't the healthiest lunch. Leftover white rice cooked with ground meat that was probably 25% fat? The DH remembers green beans in this, but I don't!

Making Spanish rice a couple nights ago took a bit of planning. The night before I made it, I soaked about 1-1/2 cups each white rice and long grain brown rice, then I cooked, cooled and refrigerated it. Yes, it made lots more rice than I needed for the recipe, and I refrigerated and froze the rest.

From the grocery store, I bought 90% lean ground beef. Growing up, my dad had to watch his cholesterol, so my mother ONLY bought lean beef, rarely pork, never hamburger. Instead she went to the butcher in Kaimuki (WHERE are all the butchers now?) where she chose a piece of round, had the butcher trim the fat and grind the meat! With the use of lean beef and brown rice, it was a conscious effort on my part to make this a healthier meal.

Yesterday, I bought yellow and green bell peppers at the farmer's market downtown. When I got home from work, I chopped a medium size onion and half each of green, red and yellow bell peppers. I cooked the beef, onions and peppers and seasoned them with black pepper, sweet paprika, ancho chile powder, garlic salt, some fresh thyme and sea salt. I added 1-1/2 cans of diced tomatoes, and finally, 3 cups of cooked rice. Cooked through until heated, and adjusted salt and pepper.

I served this with mixed baby greens, slivers of red onion and a sliced tomato with balsamic vinaigrette.

Oh, were we comforted! And there were enough leftovers for lunch for one and two for dinner!

There WERE other good things about public school cafeteria lunch: ice cake when you worked cafeteria, the shortbread, and almond cookies (remember the latter with the big Red Dye #2 splotch!?), and the cream puffs (Manoa School, and I only had 2 or 3 in my entire time there!)


What school YOU went?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last-minute Dinner Party on a Work Night

Lots of the Usual Cigar-Smoking Suspects said the dinner invitation was delivered on too short notice. They got the invite at 2 pm, and couldn't get wine or spirits, cigars or food together by 6 pm.

They missed out! When Chef Jeff, an ER doctor (NOT the sushi chef!) who loves to cook, calls - if you come, you WILL be fed!

It was Wednesday, and as usual, we planned to head to the Honolulu Farmers' Market at the Blaisdell Center. We needed bananas and pickled mango, as well as our usual The Pig and the Lady fix!

The 2 pm phone call changed things a bit. I put the wine in the refrigerator, got out 2 medium-sized and one large container, bought some disposable soup bowls and grabbed some disposable chopsticks

At the Farmers' Market we picked up the fruit we needed, then headed for The Pig and the Lady. Word is spreading about how good the food is, because every seat was taken! But we ordered our food to go. Andrew worried about the soup in our to-go container, but Ted got it home safely by driving like a granny. (No offense to grannies!)

Back at home, we grabbed the wine, bowls and chopsticks, and headed to the Doc's house. We met his friend Gary from SoCal, cracked open the Bonterra organic cab we'd brought, and looked at the poke. Before we could even try to eat it, the Doc handed us paper plates of scallops with capers on air-popped fingerling potatoes. Very good!

At this point, the guys swapped or shared cigars and lit up. Gary asked me if I smoked - maybe something small and vanilla? No way! No flavored cigars for me, and I told him I need to be on vacation and on a nice beach. Then there was foie gras on naan bread or nigiri rice with secret sauce. Excellent. Fresh Kauai prawns with garlic followed - so ono you gotta suck the heads!

I have no photos of this food - I just tucked in and ATE it!

Everyone loved the Bonterra, finished it much too fast, and moved on to other red wines. There was steak with another secret sauce. We needed a rest after that!

The doc said The Pig and the Lady Pho Bo Tai Nam would be our dessert! I headed to the kitchen to heat up the broth, portioned out the rice noodles, onions, herbs, meat and tendon. Ladled out the soup and served it.

Result? Six very happy diners! Gary said he wished he'd had that fragrant, warming soup a couple of weeks ago, when he was sick with the flu. I'm sure it would've helped to heal him!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Last Supper: Plancha Honolulu, and now: Whole Ox

I thought I'd have time to write this before the New Year, but I thought wrong. Life and living it, working and enjoying life got in the way.

I know it takes me a long time to digest things before I can write about them, but this is ridiculous. That second and final supper at Plancha was almost 3 months ago!

Everything was cooked on a plancha - a large metal plate. Plancha was a popup - a short-term restaurant with limited life, hours and seating. We had enjoyed our first dinner there so much, when one of our tablemates offered 2 of his seats for the final seating, we had to return. Once again, it was communal seating, and we said hello to old and new tablemates.

The menu was:
Opihi with papaya seed dressing
Ahi with heirloom beans and salsa verde
Prawns with kochu jang butter and cucumbers
Onaga with peppadew and small tomatoes
Pavlova with fruit

I love opihi, and so does the DH. We shared stories of opihi famine and bounty and of eating them so fresh they might crawl back up your throat, if not chewed well! These were yummy. My favorite was the ahi -along with the beans and olive oil that were so delicious, I could have eaten more of that for the rest of the night! The kochu jang with the prawns was very restrained and just right. DH's favorite was the onaga, which was cooked perfectly. The pavlova came with a raspberry/pomegranate sauce, as there were no lilikoi (passionfruit) to be found.

But I've since found a vine growing in my mother's yard, and have been enjoying lilikoi on toast with The Pig and the Lady kaya, and on ice cream. Even on my oatmeal!

What I liked so much about Chef Bob McGee's cooking at Plancha was that it was NOT sweet. So many local dishes come with such sweet sauces that put me off! Instead, the flavors are restrained, the ingredients locally sourced, and the lamb, seafood and produce just shine!

Which brings us to Chef Bob's latest project, the Whole Ox Deli. As our friend at V Lounge tells us, the name refers to eating the whole animal, nose to tail. There will be smoked meats, charcuterie - bacon, ham, sausage, pate, confit maybe?, sandwiches, butchery classes, whole pig, as well - it all sounds "nokaoink"!

The eating community - as well as the cooking and drinking ones! - have become a part of this project by contributing toward the purchase of a smoker for Whole Ox which could enable USDA inspection. This, via alt online fundraising site

This is a chef with a big dream, and the communities have embraced it. I'm always fascinated with people with an obsession, or at least a passion for something. And by watching all of this unfold, I've become much more aware of who cares about the food we eat.

Too, Whole Ox will be part of the growing #Kakaako community of places to eat, meet, shop, live and plan for the future!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Pig and the Lady's Hu Tieu Nam Vang: Two Ways to Know Something is Good to Eat

The first way: when you're eating it, you can't stop. You have to tell yourself to pause and BREATHE!

The second way: thoughts of it come to mind, both when you're hungry and when you're not. And this can be DAYS or MONTHS after you've eaten it.

The other night, I was eating ramen that my husband had picked up from a nearby Japanese restaurant. The husband has passed on his chest cold to me, and I needed something hot, salty and wet.

But, it wasn't the soup I'd been daydreaming about.

That soup is The Pig and the Lady's Hu Tieu Nam Vong Vang, Cambodian-style pork and chicken broth with pork, chicken, egg, noodles and herbs. I tasted it for the first time at the Blaisdell Farmers' market last week, and hope they serve it again this Wednesday. It's THAT good. Hot, fragrant and satisfying.

And the people, the Le family, are super-nice. Andrew, Alex, Allison, Mama and Papa and friends.

Next week, they may very well have a new soup, as they've served turkey, chicken and beef soups so far. Also super-ono la lot - pork or beef wrapped in betelnut leaves and grilled. And recently, delicious turmeric rice cooked in chicken broth and served with chicken, onions and herbs with lime.

I'm drooling, and I just ate lunch. (Albeit, the lunch of person at home from work. Translation: leftovers.)

Hungry? Feed your stomach and your soul at The Pig and the Lady!

BTW: The DH is bringing his own spoon, the better to eat more noodles and broth at once. Alex says to bring your own bowl. Think saimin bowl size, not mixing bowl!

See you there!

Edited to correct spelling. Sorry, I was under the weather!

Monday, January 16, 2012

When a picky eater eats your vegetables

Our son has been home from school for the holidays. We do not eat fast food, but his leftovers are in our refrigerator.

We try to eat at least two meatless meals a week. One night I cooked chana masala (chickpeas with tomatoes) and curried ratatouille with 12-grain rice. You know something's good when your picky eater son eats seconds!

First, he tasted some ratatouille off my plate. Then he served himself some, though he passed on the chickpeas and rice. Then he came back for another helping. He did qualify it by saying he wished I'd left out the zucchini! So he was tolerating the 2 kinds of bell peppers!

After his birthday dinner tonight, with all the butter and olive oil, I'm eating a ratatouille sandwich! Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I don't drink

Tequila - don't like the taste of it. Except in a margarita, where most of the taste is lime and salt.

Gin - don't like the taste of that, either.

Beer - likewise. My friend Sandy had an interesting story about NY Eve. They went with older friends; one was a lady who was sucking down the champagne - she'd never had it before, as she was a beer drinker!

Champagne - its appeal is lost on me. Too many bubbles! I do like prosecco (less bubbles, and tasty!) I like wine better. Like most things in Hawaii, I pick the wine for the temperature. Cooler = meats, soups, stews, heartier, more alcoholic red wines. Hotter days = lighter reds and white wines that go with seafood, pasta.

Soda with sugar - I am a sodaholic. Reformed. I could drink 3 or more a day, but limit myself to one. Sometimes 2. Sometimes none. My soda of choice is diet 7up. Why can't I find it everywhere? Yesterday I had a diet Coke - not my favorite. I prefer diet Pepsi - more tangy.

Right now, I'm drinking something called Neuro Bliss. Purely experimental - I wanted to know what it tasted like, so I bought all the flavors. Yesterday I was drinking Neuro Gasm. The cigar guys were eyeing it up and asked me about it - but the truth is, I did want to try it. Even though it's supposed to help you in that area, I don't need help, so can't say it worked. The last one in the refer is Neuro Sun, with vitamin D. These have sucralose, and at least one of them has fructose, so not sure how healthy these are - probably not. Which brings us to:

Red Bull. Just the smell turns me off! DS is writing a paper, so in the past 2 weeks I've bought him more than a dozen of these, and he's ingested most of them. We were at our favorite pizza place (which is a bar) a week ago, and the pizza cook was slugging down a RB. The mini refer next to the bar is full of regular and diet RB. It is what that generation lives on. I know there is more than one cocktail combining liquor and RB - and how healthy is that? Okay, just a bit unhealthier than the above Neuro drinks!?

I'm sure there are more things, just can't think of them right now. What do you/don't you drink?