Yes, it's California. So it's not the painful, freeze-your-hair-while-walking cold that I remember from college in New England. After all, it's 19 degrees in Providence, RI and 49 degrees in San Francisco. However, it's 72 degrees in Honolulu, so 49 is feeling cold enough for soup.
Here's what's on tap this week, in case anyone wants to come over.Monday
--Teddy Bear Chicken Soup
, just for my 'baby' boy, who is under the (cold) weather.Tuesday
and a good crusty breadWednesday
--A new and hopefully easy recipe for Hot Sour Soup with Pork and Tofu. It looks a little tame (i.e., not too spicy) and doesn't really include tofu, so stay tuned for major tweaking.
--TBD fish (again all new)--thinking about braised salmon with shiitake, salmon in grape sauce, or crispy salmon on tangerine/bacon spinach. Which one sounds best?Friday
--Number 1 Udon
(to use up the last of the New Year's kamaboko)
or a new recipe for pan-fried noodles.
--Benefit Spaghetti Dinner at church. And of course, bingo.
I wanted to add Korean Chicken Soup
too, but the bok choy were not looking too perky at the market today. Oh well, next week will still be "cold".
And to all of my ohana living in really, truly cold weather in the Midwest and Northeast, stay warm and be safe!!
Second time's the charm for Portuguese Sausage Sticky Rice. I decided to use Portuguese sausage instead of the traditional lup cheong (Chinese sausage).
While I used fresh shiitake mushrooms, I also added very un-Asian yellow onions and baby spinach, mostly because I love onions and I saw a risotto recipe using chard and figured that the spinach might work. And it made it look pretty. Very basic spices--shoyu, sesame oil, and oyster sauce. The Portuguese sausage and sweet sticky rice take care of the rest.
Simply cook the sausage in a little sesame oil, then add the onions, mushrooms and spinach (in that order). Put 2 cups of Japanese rice and 2 cups of sticky rice in a rice cooker. Toss everything else in, add water and mix it all up.
Push the magic "cook rice" button and you are done. Drizzle a little Sriracha sauce on your serving and be happy. Click here
for the complete recipe.
Ginger Cilantro'd Fish, Trial 1
Part 2 from New Food on Monday
. Started off with Sam Choy recipe "Ginger Pesto Crusted Opakakpaka with Coconut Cream" from the "Aloha Cuisine" one of my go-to books (see earlier blog). What I love about Sam Choy is that ingredients are always found at the grocery store. "Normal" mixed in unusual ways.
In English, Opakapaka is Hawaiian pink snapper and one of those fishes that are in the "good" category to eat, both in terms of how it is caught and its nutritional value (see Hawaii Seafood
In the Bay Area, you can find opaka at Whole Foods, but it tends to be hit or miss. I used equal amounts of cilantro and green onions, a little less fresh ginger, a little shoyu and oil for the fish marinade. Sauce from coconut milk, onions, heavy cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Oh yeah and a large cod fillet.
Sam Choy's beautifully plated dish
The taste and texture were quite good, but it definitely did not turn out like the cookbook picture (See right). My kids said, "Whoa, are you sure that's the same thing?!" Another friend thought it was chicken, and I think it would actually work really well as a grilled or baked chicken. Not an epic fail, but I definitely need to work on presentation...Click here
for more details and what I'll do next time.
Yesterday with New Food on Monday, and I started with an onion bacon tart. The end result was quite good, but too much prep time!
Here's what I did. This is descended from a recipe from Bon Apetit.
1) 1 onion, thinly sliced into strings
2) 1 sheet of square Trader Joe's puff pastry (I *LOVE* this stuff)
3) 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup white wine, mixed in a bowl
4) 1/2 package of bacon finely chopped
5) About 1/4 cup of creme fraiche with some nutmeg thrown in
Cook the bacon until crisp and drain. Mix together honey, wine and some bacon drippings in a bowl and then toss the onions with that.
Roast the onions flat for at least an hour until they start to carmelize. (The recipe said 30 minutes--NOT! This is where I started thinking it was too much prep time)
Roll out the the puff pastry so that it's pretty thin and then fold over the edges and smush them down with a fork. Spread the creme fraiche over the pastry. Spread the roasted onions and then top with bacon. Bake for another 30 minutes or so until the puff pastry puffs and turns brown.
It tastes marvy, and I'll definitely try it again. However, next time I'm streamlining in a major way. Click here
for the recipe in progress.
So I'm a little late on the turning over a new leaf for New Year's. Then again, I could just be early for Chinese New Year. In any case, after quite a bit of disorganization, a trip to Vegas and a major head cold, I'm back on the plan and here's what we're eating this week:
1) New, new, new food on Monday-ginger pesto fish w/coconut sauce (based on Sam Choy) and an onion tart using a puff pastry and bacon, really what can go wrong with that? I'll have to report back.
2) Tuesday--going out to with a friend who is visiting from LA. Maybe Hukilau, Japanese, or Malaysian.
3) Wednesday--Portuguese sausage sticky rice--I made this awhile back and have a few ideas to improve on it.
4) Thursday--Mayonnaise chicken, broccoli and leftover sticky rice
5) Friday--Plum sauce chicken and salad
I have big plans to get the garden in shape too, so we shall see how the week shapes up.
I love Indian food, but don't make it from scratch. First of all, there are tons of reasonably-priced Indian restaurants and take-outs all over the Bay Area.
Second, I have no problem using jar sauces or spice blocks. The Feeding My Ohana cooking philosophy is to get a good family dinner, without going through crazy cooking hoops to make it.
However, whenever I use jar sauces as a base, I always doctor it up somehow--and the chicken tikka masala venture was no different.
On the results front, unanimous thumbs up from kids, husband and mother-in-law
, and made in about 35 minutes, start-to-finish. The first 15 were ruminating about what ingredients I had, cutting an onion, defrosting the chicken, cutting the chicken and cooking the chicken and onions in the sauce. The other 20 was adding a little milk, agave nectar and finally throwing in half a bag of frozen cubed mangoes we happened to have.
It rather looks like peach cobbler in this picture, so you'll just have to trust me that it's really chicken tikka masala, with onions and mangoes, sprinkled with crushed peanuts, and later drizzled with a little Sriracha sauce.Click here
for the complete recipe.
We are a house of snackers. American snacks like chips and salsa, tapenade and crackers, guacamole, hummus, and my son's most recent, warm Jalapeno cheese sauce
And then there are the "Hawaii" snacks. Our recent Christmas haul was especially bountiful. One of our favorite treats for Christmas is the Big Island Delights Furikake Snack Mix
. It's only made on the Big Island, and even if you find it on Oahu, it's pretty expensive for 'snacks' (around $10!) for a chips-sized bag. Once we open the bag, any one of us can eat the whole thing. Quickly.
My son hit upon the brilliant idea that we could actually make furikake chex mix
. And so we (OK, he and my husband) did. This makes a lot of snack mix, but in our house, this is not a problem.
We also convince ourselves that because it uses cereal, it might be healthy. While it's not exactly un-healthy, and definitely healthier than say, the caramel-rocky-road popcorn with caramelized pecans (another blog should be devoted to this masterpiece) that we received and devoured for Christmas, this still sits squarely in the category of snack food. Click here
to try it and enjoy!
Apologies for the lack of blogging! I caught a nasty head cold, and am just finally getting back to Life as We Know It. Happy to report that the kids stepped up and even made spam, rice and eggs for dinner one night!
Which brings me to Li-hing mui
, (also pronounced lee-hee-mui) a salty, sweet, little sour, little licorice-flavored dried plum about the size of a large marble. Eat the 'meat' of the plum and spit out the seed. It's a Chinese snack and when I was a kid, it was one of many flavors of dried, preserved or otherwise salted seeds--my other favorites were rock salt plum and wet lemon peel (and yes, there is dried lemon peel as well).
In Hawaii, there are snack stores filled with glass jars of variations on seeds. The Crack Seed Center
is a good example. The salt content is probably off the charts, but you usually eat just one, and one is really all you need. As a side benefit, one home remedy for head colds is 'hot li-hing-mui water' Drop a seed into hot water and drink it like tea. I've done this several times last week. Clears your sinuses and soothes your throat
The flavor went viral in Hawaii, and red li-hing powder has been used to infuse flavor into everything from Alan Wong's dishes to popcorn, gummy bears, dried mango and shave ice (My favorite shave ice combination at Baldwin's is li-hing/vanilla/banana).
The li-hing apple slices
are a good example of how the flavor plays well with others. You can find li-hing powder anywhere in Hawaii, at Marukai or other Hawaii/Japanese grocery stores or online at Amazon. You can also find li hing mui seeds in Chinese grocery stores. Just remember to eat it a little at a time, or take a very light touch with the powder. A little goes a LONG way.
Every January, there is a huge tradeshow called CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. Approximately 120,000 people attend, and it seems like 119,950 of them are from technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. I even saw my neighbor there! I'm told it's the largest tradeshow held in Vegas.
I was there for a short 2 days, to staff my client's booth and show off their fancy-shmancy new products. But a girl has to eat, so here is the very quick assessment of the Paris/Bally's/Caesar's Palace eating experience.
First of all, a good breakfast and inner chi are essential to start the day. Day 1
(no pics, didn't want to be late) 7:00 am: Paris
. French ham and gruyere crepe in bechamel sauce. It was lovely, filling and just the right balance of savory, creamy, protein and carbohydrates. This was a good thing, because I didn't get to eat until 4 pm, when I got a leftover sandwich from a press room.
Dinner at Trevi
, Caesar's Palace. Very much recommend this place and eat "outside" by the fountain. Italian orange cream soda (see left) is delish. I had the penne puttanesca, which could easily be shared. In fact, my girlfriends split the chicken alfredo and it was the perfect size. We all finished with a sampling of desserts, but the clear winner was the creme brulee.
7:00 am: Paris
. Vanilla french toast and sausage. Even better than the crepe and just the thing I needed for a 9-hour booth shift! Plus French press coffee.
After a long day standing, all I wanted was junk food. Nathan's hot dog to the rescue. I only had one, but it was just the thing to go with soaking my aching tootsies in very cold bath water.
7:30 pm: dinner at Mon Ami Gabi
, a "classic French bistro" except it's in Las Vegas. It was very dark, so again no pix. This was the perfect way to end the trip. Not so heavy food, with delicate and complex flavor. The endive and bosc pear salad was well-balanced, sweet/crunchy/soft/salty, beautifully presented and just the right amount. I had the weekly special "coulibiac salmon" which is a fancy term for poached salmon in a pastry with mushrooms, spinach and wild rice. Delicous--if it could, it would dance in your mouth.
My colleagues sampled many more places (they stayed longer!), but perhaps this is a sign that I should go back. In particular, I want to try Hamachi/Pop Rocks sushi at Yellowtail
in the Bellagio. Tell me your Las Vegas stories.
Someone asked me for a very quick rundown on where we go for 'sit-down' dinners on O'ahu. In 15 seconds, just what comes to mind immediately. They range from way beyond plate lunch at Alan Wong's to the-only-difference-between-this-place-and-a-plate-lunch is a door and the food doesn't come in a box. Click here
to check out my favorites. I simply divided them into "No Slippers" (i.e., a little upscale) and "OK with Slippers" (more casual).
There are many more that deserve honorable mentions listed below:
1) Sam Choy's on Nimitz--the original
2) Maki-no-chaya--great cheap bentos and an amazingly broad buffet.
3) Kim Chee 2-5(?)--Korean food
4) Pineapple Cafe at Macy's Ala Moana (Alan Wong's casual and much less expensive restaurant)
What are your favorites?