Showing posts with label Things I Am Loving This Week. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Things I Am Loving This Week. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Things I Am Loving This Week: Lamb Curry, Cookbooks, Local Products & By The Way... I'm Published!

If you are a long time reader of this blog you might remember a little feature called "Things I Am Loving This Week" where I highlight those (mostly) food-related things I am enjoying and want to share. It's been a while since I have written a TIALTW post. (Tuesday, November 2nd to be exact--my sister pointed that out to me the other day. Apparently she missed it!) It's not that I have not loved anything in the past three months, I just didn't get it together enough to post about it. So here we go!

First up I happened to find a small package of lamb shoulder nearing its sell-by date at the store and discounted 30%. Discount meat may not sound appealing ;-) but I love a good lamb curry and I love a value, so I bought it and went to the mother of all curry cookbooks, "660 Curries" by Raghavan Iyer to find a recipe. I am delinquent, because although I have had this book for a few years now I had not cooked anything from it yet--which is too bad because it is a fabulous book--curries for every mood and main ingredient.

The Cashew Lamb with Coconut Sauce sounded delectable and although it seems like a lot of ingredients, it goes together pretty easily. I ended up with a flavorful bowl of heavily-sauced tender lamb with a full, complex flavor. The cashews and coconut milk make it rich and creamy, the vinegar gives it a nice tang and the cayenne adds a good little kick of heat at the end. I loved this curry and intend to cook more (finally) from this book--only 659 curries to go. ;-) Served on top of some brown rice, with a little warm naan bread, it was a bowl of delicious curry love and comfort.

Iyer says, "There is a lot of sauce in this curry--all the more reason to serve it atop a mound of steamed white rice. The addition of ground red pepper at the end provides a sharp flavor, prized by many a Christian Goan, especially when it comes to vinegar-based dishes like this one."

Cashew Lamb with a Coconut Milk Sauce (Kaaju Nariyal Gosht)
"660 Curries" by Raghavan Iyer
(Serves 4)

1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
1 lb boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed off and discarded, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large red onion, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch cubes
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cardamom seeds from green or white pods
6 whole cloves
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
7 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 1 1/2-inches long, 1-inch wide, & 1/4-inch thick), finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp cayenne (ground red pepper)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems for garnishing

Combine the cashews, 1/3 cup water, and the salt in a blender jar. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to make a smooth marinade. Pour this into a medium-size bow, add the lamb, and stir to coat the lamb with it. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or as long as overnight, to allow the mellow cashew flavor to penetrate the meat.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry until it is caramel-brown, 8-10 minutes.

While the onion is browning, combine the coriander, cumin, fennel, and cardamom seeds in a spice grinder. Add the cloves and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. Set it aside.

Add the lamb, including the marinade, to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is completely absorbed into the meat, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sprinkle in the ground spices along with the turmeric, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring , until the spices are aromatic. 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of water and stir to deglaze the skillet, releasing any collected bits of spice and onion. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is fork-tender, 18 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, vinegar, and cayenne, and continue to simmer, uncovered, to allow the added flavors to blend in, 2 to 4 minutes.

Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve,

Tip: If you are allergic to cashew nuts, feel free to substitute any other nut that might be safe for you. If all nuts are taboo, puree 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion instead of the cashew nuts. It is obviously not a substitute for the nuts, making for a more pungent flavor, but it is an acceptable alternative that provides yet another layer of flavor to the wide world of curries.

I am always happy to find local products and businesses to love--especially when they involve food. I have written about all of these local businesses before--but I having been loving a few new treats from them that I thought I would highlight.

I have had lunch three times so far from the Melt truck--featuring gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Luckily, those lunches have been shared with friends so I have been able to try their tomato soup and six different sandwiches--Triple Cheese, Bacon Melt, Pastrami Melt, Harrisa Melt, Capicola (salami & tomato) and their very decadent special Duck Confit Melt and Foie Gras Soup. All of the sandwiches have been delicious--the bread crispy and buttery, the cheese oozy and good, the flavor combinations interesting. The duck with the super rich foie gras soup and the plain triple cheese dipped in tomato soup are my favorites so far. The down side--they are pretty spendy and not too good for the arteries --but what a way to go. Also the operational side lacks--they have seemed disorganized on all three visits, slow and the customer service needs a boost--there's just not a whole lot of friendly interaction going on. You wait... they stare at you... you stare at them... you try to make a little awkward conversation... it's a little painful, like a bad blind date. When paying $6-$8 average for a sandwich plus another $2 for soup I'd like to feel like they are happy to see me and have them engage a bit. ;-) Still, when the lure of the grill cheese siren makes its call, I am sure I will go back again and it is fun to have a few fun food truck options like Melt here in Hawaii.

Other new favorite products that I am happy to support on the "sweets" side include my new obsession Madre Chocolate. (Read my post from last week about the awesome class I took and the company here.) Dave from Madre was at the Hawaii Kai Farmers Market this past Saturday with two bars I had not yet tried. In the interest of research (you don't have to thank me), I thought I should try both. The Hawaiian Passion Fruit Dark Chocolate (see it in the top right corner--isn't it a pretty bar?!), takes passion fruit (or lilikoi) from The Big Island and pairs it with their 70% cacao. It is slightly tangy, a little sweeter than the hibiscus bar previously tried and the pairing works really well--a fruity bar, smooth texture and lots of flavor. The Triple Cacao Dark Chocolate is a unique combination of cacao in three of its forms--the dark chocolate, combined with the slightly tangy cacao fruit pulp and the roasty cacao nibs. I loved this bar for it's complex flavor and textures--it is full of chewy and crunchy bits worked into the smooth chocolate.

I have talked about Ono Pops before, Mexican-style fruit paletas made with locally-sourced ingredients in wonderful combinations. I try to keep a few in my freezer for an occasional treat. This week their special was the Chocolate-Strawberry, a delicious fruity strawberry pop was dipped in a thick layer of dark chocolate. So ono! After enjoying it I really wished I had bought more than one--both the bar and the chocolate coating were excellent.

Cake Couture is the cupcake place about 2 miles from my house that I try to avoid whenever possible as my hips do not thank me for going there. However, a few weeks ago when I saw an new addition to their Friday line-up--Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes, I had to try one. This is a moist cinnamon cake, topped with a fluffy, creamy vanilla icing, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with a little piece of Cinnamon Crunch cereal. Yum! This may top their Coconut-Lime as my favorite flavor--although I may have to try the special Caramel Banana again to be sure. ;-)

Finally, if you are going to buy only one ginormous 864 page, 600 recipe cookbook this year it should be "One Big Table: 600 Recipes From the Nation's Best Home Cooks, Farmers, Fishermen, Pit-Masters, and Chefs" by Molly O'Neill because I am in it! I keep forgetting to mention to all of you that I was lucky enough to have a recipe included in this book which I love because who doesn't love seeing their name in print?! ;-) It's kind of a funny story and happened so long ago I had almost forgotten about it until the book came out just before the holidays (guess what one of my Mom's Christmas presents was?), and my Fennel Frond-Yogurt Dressing was in it.

Almost two years ago, I got an email from a very nice researcher working with cookbook author Molly O'Neill saying they had been reviewing recipes and were looking for "a yummy yogurt-based salad dressing to round out the salad section of the book" and asking if I would consider sharing an original recipe they had seen on my blog with them. I had to laugh when I saw which recipe it was, as the Fennel Frond-Yogurt Dressing was a part of an Foodie BlogRoll Royal Foodie Joust entry I had done featuring fennel, dairy, and parsley as the three ingredients. (That's a photo of the sauce on the fennel frito I made below--it is from the very early days of my blogging adventures so please ignore picture quality.)

Satisfied that it was the recipe they wanted, much back and forth ensued about what the dressing could be used on and I filled out a questionnaire some of which became the basis of the intro to the recipe. It does sound a bit like I go around my tiny kitchen drizzling this dressing on everything I eat which isn't quite the case, but I do make it or a variation of it when I have leftover fennel fronds that I don't want to waste. It is fun to have a recipe out there and I really do love Molly O'Neill and especially her "The New York Cookbook" so it is an honor to be involved in something with her name on it. There are so many recipes in this book that sound delicious and I can't wait to get around to trying some of them.

So those are the very delicious Things I Am Loving This Week, brought back especially for my sister Phyl, and hopefully back again more often that it has been. ;-)


BTW--I am sending the luscious Cashew Lamb with Coconut Milk Sauce to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop hosted by my friend girlichef and some other fabulous bloggers because nothing is better for the soul than grinding and mixing homemade curry powder. Check out the round up of links for lots of wonderful recipes and ideas.

So, what things are you loving right now?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week--Back Again w/ Giada's Asian Chicken Salad, Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup & New Chocolate

If you have been reading or following my blog for a while, you'll know that Tuesdays were usually reserved for the Things I Am Loving This Week--those (mostly) food-related things that I am enjoying and want to share. Unfortunately, time has been scarce the last few weeks and I have not been good about doing my TIALTW posts regularly--so I am happy to bring it back this week.

First up--when I feel like I have been indulging a bit too much in heavier foods, I love a big tasty, colorful, full-of-good-stuff salad to lighten things up. This week it is Giada's colorful Asian Chicken Salad filling my salad plate as our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is "Out of Italy"--featuring recipes from cuisines other than Italian. Since I think it is a requirement for any Food Network star to have at least one Asian Chicken Salad recipe in their collection, I decided to give Giada's a whirl.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't make just a few changes of course. The recipe calls for a topper of chow mein noodles and I am not really a fan so I used some leftover wonton wrappers and a few spices to make some baked wonton strips instead. Spiced with a blend of sea salt, pepper, Chinese Five Spice and sesame seeds they make a much tastier and healthier topping in my opinion. I also doubled the Thai basil and mint and added a couple touches to the dressing with a bit of sesame oil, some lime juice and replacing the sugar with a little honey.

You can find Giada's recipe at the Food Network here.

Asian Chicken Salad
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

1 large carrot, peeled
3 cups shredded napa cabbage, from 1 small cabbage
3 cups shredded romaine lettuce, from 1 small lettuce
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil leaves or fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced store-bought rotisserie chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted* see Cook's note
1 tablespoon toasted white or black sesame seeds

1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional
1/2 cup chow mein noodles, for garnish

For the salad: Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot and add to a large salad bowl. Stir in the cabbage, lettuce, pepper, Thai basil, chicken, almonds, and sesame seeds.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, if using.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Garnish with the chow mein noodles and serve.

*Cook's Note: To toast the slivered almonds, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely before using.

Crispy Spiced Baked Wonton Strips
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups or so)

8 (or more) wonton wrappers
1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
olive oil or canola spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Stack won ton wrappers and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. (A pizza cutter works perfectly for this). Mix seasoning powder In a small bowl. Arrange the strips in a single layer on the prepared pan. Spray strips very lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with the seasoning mix. Bake strips until golden brown and slightly crisp, about 6-7 minutes total.

Transfer strips to a plate to cool completely (strips will continue to crisp as they cool). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes/Results: Loved this salad--refreshing, light but filling and great flavors and good crunch. I liked the changes I made, especially the wonton strips which are pretty addicting and add another layer of tastes with the spices. They would also be a great chip with the squares cut into triangles and served with a Asian-inspired dip. I would make this again with the changes.

You can check out what the other IHCC participants made for their "Out of Italy" choices by going to the post here and following the links.

Speaking of salad love, you will find the majority of the large "meal-sized" salads that I make on this blog are served on my beloved salad/bowl plate. About the size of a dinner plate but with raised sides, it is one of my favorite dishes. Love it!

While I don't love having yucky coughing, wheezing bronchitis flare-ups, I do love a good herbal home remedy like this Thyme Syrup, a homemade cough syrup from a favorite book "Drink to Your Health: Delicious Juices, Teas, Soups, and Smoothies" by Anne McIntyre. I started making this cough syrup last fall and it tastes much better than nasty bottled cough syrup. Although there is a lot of sugar in it, I feel good knowing it is local honey and pure organic, unbleached sugar providing the sweetness instead of chemicals and preservatives.

Does it work? Well, I have been using it all weekend for my latest bit of lung nastiness and I find it very soothing to both my throat and chest and it does calm down my coughing. Between the syrup and a little medication help to open up my airways, I am feeling MUCH better. I have taken to making it in double batches and used lemon thyme from my herb garden in my last run, which added another layer of flavor. In a cute bottle this would be a fun little gift for an under-the-weather friend, along with a little chocolate and a stack of trashy magazines of course! ;-)

McIntyre says, "This sweet fragrant syrup from Greece makes an excellent remedy for all kinds of coughs. Thyme is highly antiseptic and, with its expectorant action, chases away infection and cleans congestion from the chest. A perfect syrup for children with it's smooth velvety texture and delicious taste."

Thyme Syrup
"Drink to Your Health" by Anne McIntyre
(Makes About 2 Cups)

2 oz fresh thyme leaves or 1 oz dried
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups sugar

Place the thyme in a teapot. Pour boiling water over, cover, and leave to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Heat the infusion with the honey and sugar in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Stir the mixture as it starts to thicken and skim any scum from the surface. Leave to cool.

Pour into a cork-stoppered bottle and store in the refrigerator. Drink 2 teaspoons, 3 times daily for chronic problems, and every 2 hours for acute conditions in children.

Of course you know I loves me some good chocolate and I finally got to try one of the new Vosges bars, the Black Salt Caramel Bar. With black Hawaiian sea salt, burnt sugar caramel and dark chocolate (70% cacao) it sounded pretty perfect.

The box says, "Black Hawaiian salt or Hiwa Kai is a blend of sea salt and volcanic charcoal. The salt is harvested naturally in ocean pools that have formed from past volcanic eruptions. The salt's striking hue is matched only by its flavor on your palate--slightly nutty and smoky--the perfect combination with caramel and dark chocolate."

The verdict: The 70% cacao is creamy and firm, the caramel inside is soft and gooey and there is just the right amount of smokiness and salt. This is a very rich bar with a somewhat sophisticated taste--it would be great paired with a cappuccino.

I think the simpler Barcelona Bar with it's deep milk chocolate, sea salt and smoked almonds is still my first true Vosges love but this bar is delicious and comes very close--so definitely feeling the love for this one. ;-)

So there you have it--the Things I Am Loving This Week. What are you enjoying right now?

BTW--This post and the Asian Chicken Salad and homemade Thyme Syrup are heading to the Hearth 'n Soul Tuesday Blog Hop hosted by my friend girlichef and other fabulous bloggers (A Moderate Life, Hunger and Thirst, and Frugality and Crunchiness wth Christy) and featuring good food cooked from the heart that feeds the body and the soul.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week: It's Back!!! with Asian Taco Truck-Style Tacos, Blogger Meet Ups and Tea

You may have thought that my semi-regular Things I Am Loving This Week feature was never coming back. I got busy and behind and couldn't pull together everything I was loving for a few weeks, but due to popular demand it's back. (OK popular demand equals 3 or 4 of you asking about it. Then I knew for sure that it was time to bring it back when my sister, who only comments on Facebook ;-) mentioned she missed it. Apparently some of you really care about the things I love.) ;-) So this week, it is a bit of a long mish-mash, since it includes more than one week, but here are the (mostly) food-related things I am enjoying and want to share.

First up is tacos--I love me some tacos, in fact I probably eat some sort of taco (usually fish tacos) once a week. They are easy to throw together with whatever you have on hand. Last week, I hooked up with my wonderful blogging friend Kat, here for a visit from Japan, and we tried out the newish T.A.S.T.E. (Tasty Asian Style Taco Eatery) Food Truck for some of their fusion tacos. If you have heard about the famous Kogi trucks from L.A., the T.A.S.T.E. truck is a similar concept, serving small tacos with Asian ingredients.

The truck had six tacos on the menu, five regular and one special. Kat and I bought 4 to share: Shrimp with Honey Mayo & Wafu Dressing, Homemade Charsiu (Chinese bbq pork) with Shoyu Aioli & Hoisin Vinaigrette, Ribeye with Kalbi Marinade and Wasabi Dressing and Mahimahi with Green Onion Ginger Sauce and Miso Dressing. Each Taco was either $2.75 or $3.25 and all were really good, especially the different sauces and dressings. (You can see Kat's more detailed review here).

Fun to eat and it inspired me to throw together a batch of my own Asian-Fusion tacos. Since I had a small Maui Beef tri-tip, I made a kalbi marinade (kalbi or galbi is Korean and refers to grilled dishes, most often ribs, marinated in a sweet, salty, sometimes spicy sauce), then grilled my steak and topped it with the requisite chopped cabbage. For sauce, I went with a Miso sauce with ginger and green onion that I adapted from an Ellie Kriger recipe.

Kalbi-ish Marinade
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp chili paste
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Mix ingredients together together until well-blended. Place meat (I used tri-tip) in a Ziploc bag, add marinade and place in fridge 24 hours.

Miso Sauce
adapted from Ellie Krieger

2 teaspoons canola oil
3 scallions, white and green, sliced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
juice of one lime
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp low-sodium white miso paste
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the scallions and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Add the lime juice, chicken broth and rice vinegar and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Turn heat to low and stir in the miso paste and sesame oil. Stir until miso paste is dissolved, about 1 minute. Let cool and puree until smooth in a food processor or blender.

Notes/Results: Yum! I made my kalbi marinade a bit spicy and the sweet/spicy tasty was complimented by the creamy, gingery miso sauce. I plan on experimenting with more fusion tacos--they are delicious and a fun way to play with a classic. I think I may be ready for my own food truck! ;-)

Lest you were afraid that Kat and I didn't eat enough, splitting the tacos did leave us plenty of room to grab some mini cupcakes and a cookie at Cake Works down the street from where the taco truck was parked.

I had the mini Orange Cream and Coconut Cream cupcakes (both delicious--the only thing I love more than cupcakes are mini cupcakes!) and got my favorite Ishler cookie (two thin buttery almond shortbread cookies with raspberry jam between and partially dipped in chocolate), for Kat and I to try. Of course Kat just took a nibble, so I had to eat most of the cookie myself. ;-)

That brings me to my next love, getting to spend time with fellow food bloggers. This was actually the second time I got to see Kat on her recent visit. Our first meet up, a few weeks ago, was to try Peace Cafe, a fairly new vegan cafe that I had been wanting to try. I had a kinako latte. Kinako is roasted soy bean flour and it made the iced latte have an almost peanut buttery taste. Really tasty iced.

For lunch I ordered the Moroccan Stew--served with brown rice, salad and pickles and Kat got the Cilantro Hummus Sandwich. Both were good and quite filling. The downside was that everything is served in cardboard take-out boxes and there are no plates so it made sharing a bit more tricky, but we managed, both taking turns dipping our spoons in and eating our messy sandwich halves on napkins. Of course we had room for dessert. Kat got the Cocoa Berry Mochi cake--like a chewy brownie but not too sweet, and I got the kinako cookies. Like the latte, they have a nutty taste and were quite good. I will go back--I have been craving another latte.

Finally, as you know, I love tea and I also love that my tea cup runneth over with great teas, and all from some special blogger friends. First off, Kat was sweet enough to bring me a goodie bag packed with fun stuff when we met up. A box of Pukka Detox tea (fennel seeds, aniseed, licorice root, cardamom) and a package of their Three Berry tea (elderberry, blueberry and blackberry). Both are excellent. There was a box of tea-flavored cookies--soft and chewy with good flavor and some small chocolates (I ate them before I took the picture.) ;-) And if that wasn't enough, she made me an adorable little beaded purse to hook on a cell phone or bag. So sweet of her! I have been enjoying everything.

I am a lucky girl in that I also got a package of dark Turkish Black Tea a while ago from lovely Rebecca at Chow & Chatter. I am delinquent in not posting about it sooner. This tea is not for the faint of heart--it is very strong and full-flavored, but quite good and excellent when paired with the tea cookies from Kat as they sweeten it up a bit.

Spencer, aka The Mouse, from Live2EatEat2Live contributes often to Souper Sundays and his partner in crime, The Cat was sweet enough to bring me bag another bag of tea from her latest trip to China. Some gorgeous Dragon Pearl Jasmine from Ningbo, close to Shanghai. It is light, floral and slightly sweet in flavor. Very delicate and delicious.

Much thanks to Kat, Rebecca and The Mouse and The Cat ;-) for feeding my tea fixation!

I am sending this post and especially the homemade Asian Taco Truck-Style Tacos to Two for Tuesdays, co-hosted by my friend girlichef. Celebrating "real food" in all it's glory. ;-)

So there you have it--the Things I Am Loving This Week.

How about you? What are you enjoying?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week (Going Loco for Local--Real Hawaiian Burger, Apple Banana Jam & Tomato Salad)

Things I Am Loving This Week, (my semi-regular Tuesday post featuring those (mostly) food-related things I am enjoying and want to share), is going loco for local today! There is a lot to love this week--and all made from a bounty of delicious Hawaii ingredients from the farmers markets.

First up, I love a good burger! Many people would define a "Hawaiian Burger" as just a burger with a piece of grilled pineapple on top, My definition of a REAL Hawaiian Burger is one that is made with all locally grown or locally produced ingredients from the state of Hawaii, like this gorgeous, delicious, giant burger. (And with no pineapple--I love it but not on my burger!) ;-)

We have:
  • grass-fed ground beef from Maui
  • grilled sweet Maui onions
  • locally grown Nalo Farms baby romaine
  • North Shore Farm's fresh sweet yellow tomato
  • guacamole made with locally grown avocado and lime
  • an olive bun baked by Ba-Le bakery (OK, the ingredients of the olive bun aren't local but it was baked here!)
  • Oils of Aloha macadamia oil for grilling, and some Hawaiian Alaea salt (red clay salt) to season.

Fresh, juicy and delicious--served with a few more North Shore Farms cherry tomatoes for a little color. The Maui beef was so perfect and moist--it just needed a touch of the red salt to season it perfectly. A taro bun would have been good here, and a bit more local but the olive buns were really fresh, soft and flavorful. A great way to indulge while supporting Hawaii farmers and producers.


I like bananas, but I love small, sweet apple bananas so I used some extra-ripe ones from the farmers market to make some Banana Jam from "Sweet and Sugarfree: An All-Natural, Fruit-Sweetened Dessert Cookbook" by Karen E. Barkie, a little book I purchased for $1 at a library sale. (Yep--love that too!) Just mashed banana and lemon juice (I added cinnamon to mine) cooked down into an thick, sweet spread. The simmering concentrates the banana flavor and the warm jam is delicious on top of toast (or in this case a bagel thin) spread with nut butter. I made one half with almond butter which was great, and the other half with peanut butter--even better. Peanut butter + mashed banana = good, peanut butter + warm banana jam = a little piece of heaven!

Barkie says, "Fruit jams are easy to make and so full of naturally concentrated fruit sweeteners that once you have tasted homemade, you will never again settle for sugar-sweetened jelly. Ripe and juicy fruits, blended to a sauce and heated over low temperature, yield rich, condensed jams and spreads. Fruits can be combined into an endless delectable jams, satiny smooth or dotted with ripe and juicy chunks of fruit."

Sweet (Apple Banana) Banana Jam
"Sweet and Sugarfree" by Karen E. Barkie
(Yields 1/3 Cup)

"A very concentrated jam"

2 cups ripe mashed banana (mash banana with a fork)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
(1 tsp ground cinnamon) optional

Blend ingredients together until smooth. Heat to a boil in a saucepan; turn to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens.

Notes: Barkie recommends this with all types of fruit--from blueberries to mangoes, plums to papayas. It's a nice, quick way to make a natural fruit jam and it makes the kitchen smell incredible when it is cooking. I plan to make more.


Finally it is Raw Foods! week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, so we are making no-cook Mark Bittman recipes. You have to love that for summer. I was feeling extremely low-effort and wanted to use some more gorgeous North Shore Farms tomatoes (I went a bit tomato crazy at the market this weekend!) so I decided to make the simple Ethiopian-Style Tomato Salad from "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian." This quick salad takes local ingredients to exotic Ethiopia, which just happens to be the destination for Regional Recipes this month, hosted by my good friend Joanne at Eats Well With Others. I love a good multi-tasking recipe that I can use in more than one event. ;-)

Bittman says, "If you have time to chop tomatoes, you have time to make this salad, which also works as a relish to eat with sandwiches and salads. The light, fresh-tasting, oil-free dressing features turmeric, which which turns the salad a lovely sunset color. You can use almost any spice mix you like here instead."

Tomato Salad, Ethiopian Style
"How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman
(Makes 4 servings)
Time: 15 minutes, plus time to chill

3 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 Tbsp minced jalapeno chile, or more or less to taste
1 tsp ground turmeric
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped

Put the lemon juice, onion, jalapeno, and turmeric into a medium serving bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and toss to coat.

Chill for up to 30 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasonings and serve.

Notes/Results: Excellent! This is a great, little salad--full of beautiful bright color and flavor. I used both red and yellow tomatoes which made it even more colorful, and made the recipe exactly as written. The sweet tomatoes, combined with the turmeric, lemon, red onion and the little kick from the jalapeno is complex for such few ingredients. It is perfect as a side salad and since Bittman said it was good as a kind of relish with sandwiches, I took some and topped a Maui beef patty and toasted olive bun with it for a knife & fork-style burger. OK--Yum! Healthy and delicious, I will definitely make this salad again.

There you have it--a bunch of wonderful local ingredients and delicious dishes to love this week.

The Ethiopian-Style Tomato Salad is being linked to IHCC Raw Foods! and also being sent to Joanne for Regional Recipes--Ethiopia. This entire post, full of good local, natural food is going to be linked to Two For Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival at my pal girlichef's blog where real food is being celebrated each week.

So, what are you loving this week?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week (Exploring a New Farmers Market, Local Ice Pops & a BLT Salad for Bacon Lovers)

It's time for the Things I Am Loving This Week, my semi-regular Tuesday feature with the (mostly) food-related items and experiences that I am enjoying and want to share. This week it starts at the new(ish) Hawaii Kai Farmers Market--where great local real food and real food products like OnoPops abound, and ends with a bacon-lover's BLT Salad, made from some of the fresh produce I picked up on my market visit.

I love exploring a good farmers market--it is the best way to kick off a Saturday morning in my opinion. This past weekend I finally managed to make it to the new (OK, it has been open over a month, but still pretty new), Hawaii Kai Farmers Market at Kaiser High School. Although I usually attend the KCC farmers market on Saturdays, I have been getting a bit weary of fighting the large crowds and I was happy to have a new market open up so close to my home. The market has a little over 30 vendors currently, many from the Hawaii Kai area, and like the KCC market, the items the vendors sell must be made or grown here in the islands. This market is also green-inspired with vendors using environmentally-friendly serveware, and there is an easy to follow recycling system in place. Unlike some of the other farmers markets, it really emphasizes a spirit of community with live music, a cafe tent with tables and benches, and a keiki (kids) corner with crafts and a bounce house to play in.

It was a breezy and somewhat grey morning at the market, but there was a decent size crowd (they were expecting about 1000 that morning.) There was a nice blend of some favorite and new vendors to chose from. Otsuji Farms (the farm is behind the high school where the market is held) was there with plenty of greens and other veggies. (I bought basil, cilantro, corn & baby romaine.) They also had their well-known $10 veggie box where they put $13 of whatever is fresh that week into a box and sell it. Naked Cow Dairy had their flavored butters and also fresh yogurt, a new item they are carrying. Although their curry compound butter is my favorite so far, I tried and bought some of their butter with toasted coconut, thinking it would go well with fish and on the ears of the sweet corn I picked up

Of course it is always nice to have some island flavor with Kona coffee, fresh pineapple, (wait until you see what I do with my pineapple later in the week!), orchids, sugar cane and coconut juice. The group from Downes Grounds were very friendly and offered coffee samples in little eco-friendly ceramic tasting cups. Their Kona coffee is very smooth and has good flavor, which they say is from the sun-drying. Although I am not drinking much coffee these days, I bought a 1/2 lb bag for $13 for my freezer and a couple of ripe mangoes too. I also nabbed a large GMO-free papaya from another vendor and that and the pineapple rounded out my fruit purchases.

Northshore Farms was at the market with their bright tomatoes (and parsnips and leeks), and were serving not only their famous pesto pizza, but their fried green tomatoes too. This will make my mom very happy on her next visit in September--she loves her some fried green tomatoes ;-) I bought some of their sweet cherry tomatoes and a few Heirloom tomatoes too.

My breakfast was a veggie crepe (mozzarella, organic baby spinach, tomatoes, sweet basil and green onions) and Eau de Jouvence or "Water of Youth" (a blend of organic lemon juice, organic cane sugar, fresh mint and strawberries with orange blossom water) from Le Crepe Cafe. Both were delicious--although I am not sure I looked or felt any younger after the water. ;-) My meal was enjoyed at one of the community tables available under the cafe tent, while listening to a little live guitar music. The plate, serveware, and cup are all compostable and there are recycling bins at one end of the tent that make it easy to sort. It was so nice to enjoy a bite to eat at a table without needing to juggle a plate and my market purchases. I even got a chance to sit and chat for a few minutes with Pam Boyer and Ann Suite, the founders/owners/operators of this market and the one in Haleiwa on the Northshore. They are pleased with the growth since they have been open and they look forward to adding more vendors including more organic produce and more food options, especially breakfast items.

The sun finally came out as I was leaving the market, purchases in hand. There were plenty of people coming and going, and I wouldn't be surprised if they surpassed their estimated attendance for the day. Anytime you can bring a community together, support local farmers and vendors, and get fresh, healthy, real food, it's a good thing. I will be back.

Hawaii Kai Farmers Market
Saturdays 9am-1:00pm
Kaiser High School Parking Lot
Lunalilo Home Road
Hawaii Kai, HI 96725

After sampling their salty-tart Ume-Thai Basil flavor, I had been wanting to try more locally-made OnoPops and I was happy to see them represented at the farmers market. As the label says, these are "Fresh Local Hawaiian Paleta"--paleta means popsicle in Mexico, and they are made from locally sourced ingredients, many in some very creative combinations. OnoPops is a family business started by two brothers (I'm not sure whether it is Joe or Josh in my picture), and it's great to see their business growing and find them in more places.

There were 17 different flavors of ice pops for sale Saturday and I took home a half-dozen to try; Guava-Tamarind, Fresh Lychee, Honeydew Mint, Mango-Habanero, Kalamansi-Coriander (all water-based) and an Apple-Banana Banana Cream Pie (dairy-based). I love that they are made with natural, pure ingredients sourced from local growers and amazed at the variety of unique flavors. I have only tried 3 of the flavors I bought so far (I am allowing myself one a day!) The Apple- Banana Banana Cream Pie was creamy and delicious, the Honeydew Mint was cool and very refreshing, but my favorite so far has to be the Mango-Habanero. It has the perfect combination of sweet creamy mango with a nice kick of the chili at the end. A fun and tasty treat.

So, what to do with farmers market bounty like ultra-fresh local basil and baby romaine, tomatoes so sweet they are like candy, and a creamy avocado? Make Mark Bittman's BLT Salad of course! It's Better With Bacon week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and once again I am cooking out of "Kitchen Express." (While I love all my Bittman books, this is hands down my favorite for its simple, quick recipe sketches.) This is an indulgent salad to love.

Bittman says, "The avocado dressing really sets this apart"

BLT Salad

Fry a few small cubes of slab bacon for about five minutes or until crisp. Puree an avocado, a handful of basil leaves, a clove of garlic, juice from one--or more--limes, about one-quarter cup of olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a food processor or blender; if you like thinner dressing, add a few drops of water. Mix a head of Bibb or romaine lettuce with sliced tomatoes and chopped red onions. Add the bacon to the vegetables and dress with the pureed mixture. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Notes/Results: Yum! The combination of the fresh vegetables with the crisp bacon topped with the creamy basil-avocado dressing is fantastic and really makes this simple salad special. Rather than buying slab bacon, I used my favorite nitrate-free pepper bacon and I also chopped some extra avocado to add to the salad.
Bittman knows bacon! Here I thought his Pasta with Breadcrumbs and Bacon was my favorite bacon-filled dish from "Kitchen Express"--but this delicious salad certainly holds its own. I will make this again, especially the creamy dressing.

You can check out the other wonderful Bittman bacon creations the other IHCC participants made by going to the website and following the links.

So these are the Things I Am Loving This Week, and since they all represent wholesome, natural, real food, I am linking this post to Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival, hosted by my friend girlichef along with some other wonderful bloggers. If you want to see and read about "real food"--go to one of their sites and follow the links.


So what are you enjoying this week?