Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coconut poi pudding!!! Trust me, yes poi the comfort food.

Most of my non-Hawaiian friends think this is a very bad idea to ruin a good dessert by pairing poi with any thing while my Hawaiian ohana and friends like the idea.

I don't know what it is, I like poi from the very first time I tried it. I remembered tasting poi at my roommate Cori's grandma's house. I didn't think it was bad at all. It is a bit bland, but it goes well with saltiness of many of the Hawaiian dishes. To me, it's just another form of starch, like rice or potatoes. Plus I like taro, so why not poi too.

Poi was not readily available on the mainland, especially in the Frozen Tundra. With some convincing and much support from the Hawaiian community here, United Noodles now carries frozen poi. In order to make sure they continue to offer the products, I would put in my part and have a bag in my freezer all the time. I am giving Mr Wonderful some proper Islander introduction. I serve him poi with Kalua pork or Laulau. He would never complaint and ate it anyway. He said it was a bit tasteless, but he didn't mind the texture and thought it mixed well with the meat!

As I told you a few weeks ago, my sister had her annual party and I made Kalua pork. I also fixed up some poi to go with it. We didn't have that many Islanders at the party, we had some poi leftover. I took it home with me. I found the container in my freezer last night and I was in the mood for some dessert. Why not Poi Pudding. I know poi does not have a lot of flavor, I used Indonesia palm sugar (gula jawa) instead of regular brown sugar. It has a darker molasse-like flavor. It goes very well with coconut milk. It is commonly used to make syrup many of the dessert in Singapore.

Now, trust me this is good, kind of a cross between rice pudding and custard. This is very comforting on a chilly fall night. I saved some and Mr Wonderful is going to have another adverture dessert this week!
Coconut Poi pudding with palm sugar
1 cup frozen poi, defrosted.
1 cup coconut milk
1/4-1/3 cup granulated palm sugar (gula jawa)
Reserve 4 tbsp of coconut milk on the side
In a small sauce pan heat 1 cup of cold poi over low heat. Keep breaking up the chucks till the poi return to its paste like texture
Slowly add remaining coconut milk.
Stir continuously till the mixture become a custard-like
Add sugar, stir to dessolve. Add more sugar to taste.
To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the pudding into a small bowl
Drizzle with 1 tbsp of coconut milk over the pudding, sprinkle with a dash of palm sugar
Serve warm
Serve 4


Vegetarian “chopped liver” for Rosh Hashanah

It is Rosh Hashanah tomorrow. I think of Phylllis, my Jewish mama on every holiday. She would be proud to know the culture that she immersed me in is now being reinforced and renewed by my “partner in crime” at work, Ilene. Ilene is a New Yorker through and through. She moved here a year ago. Through thick and thin at work, we became friends. In some ways, she reminded me of Phyllis.

Ilene is also a comedian. One of Ilene’s famous line: She is Jewish, so she makes reservations! Well, I am the cook; there is no question about that. When Ilene first told me about vegetarian chopped liver, I thought she was joking. Well, she wasn’t and she gave me this recipe and asked whether I would make this for her on Rosh Hashanah. How could I say no to a friend? I read the recipe and I was very skeptical, first of all, I am a vegetable snob, I don’t like canned vegetable. This recipe used 2 of my most dispraised vegetables – canned peas and canned beans!! I thought of changing the mix and use real green beans and peas, then I remembered many years ago, I tried to make the famous Minnesota green beans hot dish with real beans and mushroom, I ended up with soup. I reluctantly followed the recipe.

I am so amazed! I LOVE it. Ilene is right, I like this as much as I like real Chopped liver from Golden’s in New York. I will make it spread anytime! Hmmm I actually ate canned peas and canned green beans!

Thanks you, my friend and Happy Rosh Hashanah to you, and of course, you too, Phyllis.

Vegetarian “Chopped Liver”
1 can 14.5 oz green beans
1 can 14.5 oz sweet peas
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 hardboiled eggs
2 cups chopped walnuts
½ cup mayo
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a fry pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and carmalize the onion and garlic
In the food processor, add in green beans, peas and onion mixture process till blended.
Add in roughly chopped hardboiled eggs and 1 cup of walnut to start. Process and check for consistency.
Add additional ½-1 cup of walnut and mayo. Season with salt and pepper.
Process till the puree resemble the texture of chopped liver.
Remove and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Spoon some of the pate into a bowl
Serve with matzo or crackers.

Make about 2 cups. Use within 2-3 days.


Sunday, September 25, 2011


First Saturday in a long time that I am home. My Kumu went on vacation, we had a week off. Mr Wonderful is at a family event the whole weekend. What a treat to have a weekend that I can sleep in, have breakfast and have some quiet time to test recipes and do some writing.

Puka in Hawaiian means hole. Yes this is my version of the popular East coast brearkfast, Egg in a hole.I  was introduced to Egg in a hole when I lived New York. It's still one of my favorite breakfast egg dish.  I had some Rosemary bread leftover left from last night that I need to use, so it's a natural to make some eggs.

Egg-in-a-hole with goat cheese "smear"
2 1" thick slices of Italian bread, I had some leftover rosemary bread from the night before.
2 eggs, crack and place each egg in individual small bowl
1 tbsp chopped green onion or chive
2 tbsp ghee or butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Goat cheese smear
1 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp chopped green onion or chive
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut a hole in the middle of each slice of bread, save the bread for crouton and other purpose.
In a non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Heat 1 tbsp ghee till hot. Add the bread, flip from one side to another so that the bread will absorb the butter evenly. Toast both side till light golden.

Turn the heat up to medium high, Add the reminding ghee to the pan. Hold bread down with a fork or thong so that the bread is in contact with the pan. Pour the egg into the center. 
Lower heat to medium hot, cook for about 1 min till the bottom is set.
Sprinkle the top with some green onlion. saltand pepper.
Flip the toast slowly. Turn heat down to low and let it cook for 3-4 mins to desired doneness. I like my egg with a soft slightly runny yoke.
To make the smear- combine the green onion, salt and pepper together.

Transfer to a serving plate, Top with 1 tsp of the goat cheese smear.
The toast will melt the cheese lightly. When you cut into the egg, the crunchy toast, the yoke and the cheese creat a crunch and smooth contrast. Hmmm heaven....

Serve 2


Saturday, September 24, 2011

5 bananas to 1 big banana bread

My best friend May is in Canada visiting her daughter; she has 5 very ripe bananas and wonders what to do with it. Here is my version of Kona Inn banana bread. The Original recipe asks for 7 very ripe banana and you cream the butter and sugar together first. I modified it a bit to make it simpler for everyday baking. I also found the sugar content are a bit high, and the bread tends to fall in the center. I made some adjustment and use 5 bananas instead.

I happened to have exactly 5 bananas in a bag in the freezer. When I have extra over ripe banana, I usually peel them and put in a Zip-lock bag, smash it up in the bag and store in the freezer. I would have the “baking” amount in each bag so that I don’t have to measure.

I had a little accident with this today. I didn’t realize the center of the banana was still frozen. When I put the fruit in to the melted butter and sugar, the butter solidified. I had to use my mixer to break up the butter particles. This is why you see me using a mixer here. I usually make this with 2 bowls and a spatula.

Kona style Banana Bread
2 cups sugar
1 cup melted butter
5 very ripe banana, meshed
3 eggs
2 ½ cups of flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. If you are using a dark non-stick pan, heat the oven 325. It will avoid the “darkening” on the bottom and side of your bread.
Spray and flour 2 9x5 loaf pans or 1 bundt pan. I am using a coffee cake pan today
In a medium size bowl, blend all the dry ingredients together – flour, salt and baking soda.
In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar and banana till well blended.
Add egg, one at a time. Blend well with each addition
Fold in the dry ingredients. Mix well
Add vanilla
Pour the batter into your prepared pan

Bake for an hour till the center spring back when pressed or a toothpick came out clean when inserted into the center
Let cool for 10 min. Remove for pan.

Mr. Wonderful love to put a dab of butter on it when it’s warm. (He is from the Midwest, he loves butter). I prefer having a slice plain with a new hot Chai. It’s homie, perfect for cooler fall days.
Store any extra in the fridge. You can freeze the extra loaf for later if you are using 2 loaf pans


Friday, September 23, 2011

Simple end of summer Chard and tomato pasta

We had a cold snap here and part of my garden has gone “nite nite”.  All my plants from Hawai'i are now back in the garden window in the house. Yes I have a few poor plants that I brought here from the Islands to share the cold with me. I will have to move my water lilies out of the water soon, that would be the very sad moment that we will be facing 6 months of winter....

Fall is here. I love Fall, I look forward to the beautiful colors, yet I am sad too. We are coming to the end of the growing season. I will be going back to eating “imported” greens and fruit. Well, not really all import from overseas, just trucked in from other states etc. May be it is psychological, I just don't think it taste or smell as good as locally grown products. I am going to enjoy the local produce while we can.

Remember I made a Swiss chard pasta with vodka sauce a couple weeks ago? It was a  pretty good and simple dinner. Here is another version without the vodka, you can always add a few tablespoon of vodka in the sauce with you want. I am using angel hair; this would be even better with a thicker pasta, such as spaghetti and Lots of cheese!

Chard and heirloom tomatoes in cream sauce with Angel Hair pasta
1 large bunches of Chard, (Red Swiss chard, or rainbow chard), cleaned, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 cup of diced heirloom tomatoes.
2 glove of garlic, finely chopped
1 small shallot thinly sliced.
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp pesto
¼ cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp vodka (optional)
Pasta of your choice for 2.
Parmesan cheese, shaved.
Prepare all the vegetable
Heat a pan till hot over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil. When hot, 
Sauté garlic and shallot for a couple of mins till caramelized. Season with salt.
Add chopped chard, and sauté till soft.
Lower heat to med low, add thyme
Toss in 1 tsp pesto, mix well
Mix in tomatoes, mix well and cook till tomatoes are softened.
Drizzle with ¼ cup of cream and vodka (optional) I didn’t use vodka in this version.
Bring it to boil, lower heat to low and let it cook for a few mins to blend in all the flavor, When the sauce takes a tint of color from the tomatoes, it's ready (This one has a tint of yellow since I am using some yellow heirloom. If you use red tomatoes, the sauce will be almost pink.)
Season with salt and pepper.
To serve:
Pour the sauce over cooked pasta. Top with shaved Parmesan and garnish with thyme
Or you can serve this family style. Toss the cooked pasta into the sauce. Toss to mix and plate in a large bowl. Top wish shaved Parmesan and sprinkle with chopped thyme.

Serve hot with some warm crusty bread.

Serve 2


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Simple mid-week vegetable medley

There is no recipe for this, just an idea. If you have too much vegetable at home, how about making a vegetable medley. Use whateve vegetable you have with some herb. Season the dish well. Great simple meatless meal is served!
In this version, I am using most of the Week 11 and 12 CSA:
Sweet Corn,
Green beens.
Onion and garlic
It's cooked with olive oil, it is vegan.

It makes a quick lunch or you can top the medley with a protein, such as grilled salmon or chicken breast. Now you have dinner.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Memories of youth... Old English quick scones

We are going to have an “office warming” for another department at work. I was asked to make something for the occasion. I thought of making scone. Whenever I bake scones I thought of my Aunt Kathy. My aunt was married to an Englishman. I used to spend time at their place after school when I was teenager. We would have tea in the afternoon and scones were often served.

Unlike American scones, these are very delicate and tender. My version here is a very simple home style. This is an old recipe and the measurement is in ounces. We used to make these by hand. I adapted the recipe to using a food processor. You can gather the dough, roll it into 1/2” thick and cut it into 1” rounds. When we made these for tea at home, we would keep it simple by dropping the dough by a teaspoon on a baking sheet. It will spread out a little more. Since the dough is not “worked”, it is tender and also melt in your mouth.
You can serve this with traditional clotted cream and jam. I prefer to have it plain.

Home style quick Scones
12 oz self-raising flour
4 oz very cold butter
4 oz sugar
1/8 – 1/3 cup of milk or buttermilk
2/3 cup dried currents
Optional: 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tbsp of milk for glaze.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Prepare food processor with the process blade: Place 12 oz of flours in the work bowl
Cut the butter into 8 pieces and drop into the bowl with the flour
Cover. Put the processor in “dough” mold. Purse till the butter is worked into the flour and resemble breadcrumbs (about 3 mins)
Blend in sugar.
While the processor is on, pour in 1/8 cup of milk through the top feed tube. Check the dough, the amount of liquid will depend on the humidity and the temperture of your surrounding. I am in a dry climate and it is Fall here, I have to use about ¼ cup of milk. I would use all 1/3 cup in the winter, especially when the heat is on.
It's ready when the dough starts to stick together
Transfer the dough to large bowl, add the currents and mix thoroughly.
As this point, you can choose
1-  to use 2 teaspoon and gather into a round 
and drop onto a baking sheet.
2-  to gather the dough, transfer to floured working surface. Roll out to 1” think and cut into 1” rounds. 
Place 1” apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Brush top of each scone with egg-wash

Bake for 20-22mins till the edges are golden.
Let the scones cool for a few mins, transfer to cool rack
Serve warm with clotted cream and jam

Make 18 scones


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No measure “Pig in pit”?

 It was my sister’s 12 annual International potluck last weekend. Everyone was support to bring a dish that represents his/her culture or heritage to the gathering. She wanted me to make kalua pork. If you have been to Hawaii and one of the luaus on the Islands, you would have seen the ceremony to raise a whole pig from the imu (Hawaiian for underground oven). It was indeed quite impressive. It is a must have for Hawaiians/Islanders get-to-gethers!

Kalua pig literally means “pig in a pit”. Lua means pit. A few years ago, I was replanting my garden and cleared out a hole in my yard. It was also the first year that I decided to have a luau at my house. I had the idea of making kalua pork the old fashion way – in the imu! My big Samoan braddah (brother) tried very hard to convince me I should get a whole pig. He even offered to cook it for me. Hmm nope! I would work with meat, but I knew I would not be able to handle the whole thing. I used a few pork butts instead. I was not a big fan of pork, but it was wonderful, moist, a little smoky and lots of flavor!

I did not have a luau at my home for a couple of years now, but I still have the imu. I know we will make some real kalua pig again someday. Meanwhile I had to make enough kalua pork for 60 people. I didn’t cook it in an imu. I keep this very simple, cooking inside the house.

Most people make their kalau pork in the regular oven in the house. I use a crock-pot instead. I found the crock-pot simulate an imu closer than the oven. When you cook the meat in an imu, you actually slow cook the meat partly by steaming, not really baking it. I also wrap the meat with banana leaves before I put it in the crock-pot to give that “green taste”. A taste of liquid smoke was added to give impression of smoke from the burned wood in the pit. If you don’t like liquid smoke, this is optional and will not affect the meat at all.

There is no measurement with this recipe. It is a rustic preparation and it is pretty fool proof too. By the way, I love leftover kalua pork stirred fried with cabbage and seasoned with a little shoyu. I wanted the cabbage cooked in kalua pork juice more than the meat!  I was so disappointed that all the meat was gone at no time at the party! I may have to make some more if I get more cabbage on my CSA this week.

Kalua Pork in a Crock-pot
1 3-4 lb pork butt, you can use as small or as big a piece of meat that your slow cooker would fit. You don't need to get it boneless either. I had to make 14 lbs (2 pork butt) for the party and I used an 11 qt slow cooker
Hawaiian Alaea red salt
A package of frozen banana leaves. defrosted, washed and dry with paper towel
1 splash (about 1 tbsp) liquid smoke - option
Prepare our in house imu – the crock-pot.
Line the crock-pot by crisscrossing 2 large pieces of banana leaves, make sure there is a little “over hangs” and the pot is completed lined. Keep 1 extra piece, put aside.
I usually trim most of the fat off the meat, but for this recipe, I am keeping it to add flavor. If there is a lot of fat, you may want to trim some of it off.
In a large bowl, pour in a handful of Alaea salt
Add a splash of liquid smoke to taste to the salt.  If you don’t like liquid smoke, this is optional. Stir the salt and the liquid together.
Add the pork and rub the salt generously on the meat.
Put the in meat in the lined crock pot
Top with the piece of reserved banana leaf. Tuck in the “overhang”.
Cover and cook the meat in low heat for about 6-8 hrs. (I usually cook this overnight)
When ready, remove the top leaf 
Remove the meat to a large bowl, shred the meat with a fork.
There will be some liquid since the salt would draw the moisture out of the meat. In an imu in the ground, the liquid would have drained into the soil. Save ¼ cup of the liquid, drain and discard the rest.
If you are serving a buffet/ potluck, return the meat to the crock-pot lined with banana leaves to keep warm. I leave the banana leaf to give the dish a rustic, traditional look. Dilute the reserved liquid with ¼ cup of hot water, and pour over the meat to help keep it moist.
Or you can discard the reserved liquid and plate the shredded meat in a large bowl and serve.

Kalua pig traditionally is served with poi. Poi is a bit of an acquired taste. In modern days in Hawaii, you will usually find the meat enjoyed with rice.

If I make it for my mainland friends or my office, I always have small buns on the side; I found many enjoy the meat as a small slider sandwich! The meat freezes very well too!