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?