Monthly Archives: February 2014

Playing Around With Rambutan

Rambutan, a tropical fruit from Southeast Asia

Rambutan, a tropical fruit from Southeast Asia

I saw a bag of rambutan at the farmers market yesterday for only $4.00, so I broke down an bought it. I guess I’m longing for more summery days when lychee is available, but that won’t be for a while. Rambutan is so similar that it might as well be the same, at least as far as flavor. It just looks funnier, with all of the little “hairs” sticking out of it.

I thought it might be nice in a tropical fruit salad. I got online and found a really impressive one served inside of a pineapple bowl. Hmmm… nice. So, I ended up ended up buying a pineapple, a papaya, and some bananas, too.

pineapple

pineapple

papaya

papaya

apple bananas

apple bananas

The hardest part was trying to make the pineapple bowl… in fact, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really wanted to try to impress someone… or even impress yourself. I think it would work, too! It’s easy enough cutting a circle around the edge of the cross-wise halved fruit, but getting the meat out after that is challenging and a bit messy. The very top part of the pineapple can be cut, cored and diced.

The rest is pretty easy~ just chop and/or peel, slice and dice, and toss together. Add some kiwi slices in for color and garnish with a strawberry. The rambutan peel pretty easily, once you get them started with a paring knife.

All you need to do is peel it

All you need to do is peel it

I didn’t bother trying to seed the rambutan either, because the little buggers are slippery. I just figure as long as one is aware that there is a pit inside, it wouldn’t be that much different that eating a tangerine.

Tropical fruit salad with rambutan, pineapple, apple banana, papaya, kiwi and strawberry served in a pineapple bowl

Tropical fruit salad with rambutan, pineapple, apple banana, papaya, kiwi and strawberry served in a pineapple bowl

I imagine this could be a whole lot simpler, by simply serving the rambutan in a bowl of ice, but I had to try this once… glad I did, too! Bon appetit!

Italian-Style Brussels Sprouts with “Little Fishies” and Capers

I admit it. I have not always liked the little fishies that you can buy in the can. You know the ones I mean… anchovies. I was a little bit hesitant to try this recipe a few weeks ago, but I’m really glad I did, because we both love it! Monty was prompted to cook dinner last night, so he picked up some brussels sprouts yesterday, even though we had asparagus that needed to be used first. That was all good, because it gave me a chance today to gather what I needed to make this wonderful veggie dish again. This is adapted from Sunset Magazine, but I really added quite a bit more of all ingredients~ I really love food with strong flavor.

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If you’d like to try, you will need:

1 lb of brussels sprouts
about 2 tablespoons olive oil
approx. 3 tablespoons of capers, drained
2-3 cloves of garlic
4-5 oil packed anchovies
about a teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon

Wash the brussels sprouts, and then trim and halve. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then blanch the sprouts for about 3-5 minutes (depending on size) until they are a brilliant green. They just need to be slightly more tender.

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Drain and set aside.

While they are draining, chop the anchovies.

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Next, mince the garlic, or if you like, use a garlic press, like I usually do… it seems faster.

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Once the anchovies are garlic are prepared, you are ready to put this together. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the capers to the oil~ they should sizzle and sputter. Cook them, stirring a few times until they turn brown, about 5 minutes.

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Drain on paper towels.

Add in the garlic and anchovies until fragrant. Mama Mia! That smell right there is heaven! At that point, add in the brussels sprouts and red pepper flakes and continue to cook on medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the brussels sprouts get a bit brown on the outside, then transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle the capers over the sprouts, then squeeze the lemon over all.

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This is now ready to be served and enjoyed! Bellissimo!

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There is one event that we try to make every week~ it’s the only one that we’re really willing to get up early for on a weekend, and that’s the farmers market up at Kapi‘olani Community College. It is a year-round event held every Saturday between 7:30 am to 11:00 am, excluding holidays. We try to get there at about 7:00 am, to try to beat the tour buses, bringing in the hoards of tourists. All of the produce is locally grown, much of it is organic, and all of it is fresh and less expensive than most grocery markets.

It once was that I would only photograph images of the gorgeous orchids and other flowers that are also sold there, but then a friend became curious as I was talking about the breakfast food that can be bought. She had never heard of cooked food being sold at such an outdoor market, so I told her I would make a point of taking some photographs. This gallery is the result of that. (Pity you can’t smell this for yourself!) I know this will be a repeat for many Facebook friends, but it got such incredible response, that I wanted to share it beyond my personal friends. Enjoy!

Keeping “Warm” Thoughts on a Gloomy Day… A Simple Quesadilla with “Rainbow” Pico de Gallo

I have a thing for “rainbow vegetables.” Actually, I’m quite fond of any kind of rainbow, since I adore colors. For the past couple of months, I’ve been buying these rainbow tomatoes, especially when I can’t find my true favorites, which are organically grown on the Big Island. That’s another story that I’ll tell, one other day.

Beautiful, rainbow tomatoes

Beautiful, rainbow tomatoes

We do this little thing every Sunday… it’s a little tradition. We call it “Martini Sunday,” because I have two of “those,” and Monty usually just has a beer… or two. Only two ever for me, because I can get stupid after that. So, I indulge in a little bit of gin every week, but mostly only on Sunday… and occasionally on holidays.

It’s been raining here all day, and I was wondering what I would make for pupus, and then, I realized that I had these beautiful little rainbow tomatoes that I purchased at the farmers’ market yesterday. We had one tortilla left over from a dinner about a week ago, so the thought came to make a simple quesadilla.

For the uninitiated, a quesadilla is a bit like a grilled cheese sandwich (it’s just not made on bread) with the tomatoes and stuff thrown on top. It’s a Mexican thing, and when you grow up in California, Mexican stuff never leaves your heart, (and soul!) so you crave it unto eternity.

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy, providing you can get things like tortillas. Tortillas are a simple flatbread, much like naan… (I’m seeing a lot of creativity coming out of this!) I’m not sure you if can get these in the UK, Australia or other places, but I’m gonna give this a go! Just so you know, a tortilla is sometimes made from flour, or at other times, cornmeal. A quesadilla is usually made from a softer, flour flatbread, rather than the harder corn tortilla.

If you want to play, all you’ll need is some tortillas and some good Mexican cheese. My friend Reynaldo, who is Mexican-Korean, insists that none of this is any good if you use yellow, American cheese… it must be white cheese, and it must be Mexican. ¡Olé! The garnishes that you throw over them are tomatoes chopped with onion, garlic, cilantro (or what is known as Chinese parsley, but any kind of parsley will do) jalapeño pepper, salt and pepper.

It’s easy-peasy, or I wouldn’t have done it today. Rainy days make me lazy, and I’ve been busy enough. Still, it will take some chopping, so get out the sharp knife and cutting board. Be careful of your fingers, too.

I make the pico de gallo (it’s like a salsa, but fresher) first. Chop about 1 cup of tomatoes, any kind, really, but get rid of the seeds. The skin still has fiber, so don’t feel guilty about throwing away the seeds. Place them into a bowl, preferably not metal. Halve and seed a jalapeño pepper and chop into a very fine dice… one half is good enough for me, though many will like more. Go for it! Chop about a tablespoon or two of onion, and add to the bowl. White onion is traditional, but purple onion is ‘rainbow!’ You know where I’m going! Press (or chop) a small clove of garlic, and add to the mix. Lastly, mince some cilantro (Chinese parsley, for some) to your personal heart’s content. If that’s not available, any other kind of parsley will give better flavor. Salt and pepper to taste, and blend with a spoon. The juices will come out, and that part is all good.

The quesadilla itself is very simple… simply heat up a frying pan with a spritz of good cooking spray over it, and place the tortilla in it. Grate about 2 oz. of cheese on top of it, then cover with another tortilla. Heat on low heat, and then flip for a couple of minutes, until lightly browned.

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Meanwhile, get a nice medium-sized avocado, peel and mash. Add some salt, pepper and limejuice to taste, and mash some more. This is the simplest and healthiest kind of guacamole there is, and I really prefer it to anything with much more added to it.

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This is best on a warm day, but I must remind you that it’s not cold here… just gloomy and rainy. I hope I’m giving you something to look forward to… rainbow veggies can only bring us hope.
Happy Martini Sunday, everyone!

I know not everyone is seeing it yet, but there subtle signs that the season will be changing soon. Certain things come into bloom, longer days, and shifts of light. While I don’t really enjoy the intense heat of Summer, Spring is a season of hope. Here are some signs that I’ve seen over the past few weeks.

Clam Poke Beyond Pupus

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This one is for the peeps who live here in Hawai‘i. You know that wonderful clam poke that they sell at Foodland? We’ve been having it a lot lately for our Martini Sunday pupus, because of the wonderful, spicy flavor, and the fact that it’s only about $6.00 a pound. True, that includes the shells, but even if we have only the clams to snack on, they fill us up. We got the idea that this poke is so good, there had to be a way to make a meal out of it. Well, we tried doing this earlier this week for dinner, and it was an experiment well worth trying.

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What I did was buy a pound and I asked the poke counter guy if he could please add lots of juice. He didn’t seem to understand what I was saying, because I had to ask him twice. I really wanted more than he gave me, but the three-quarters of a cup or so, seemed like it might be enough.

I bought a can of whole, baby clams also, because I wanted it “clam-ier” and I figured I could use the juice, just in case the counter guy didn’t give me enough. I also bought the asparagus that was on sale and a package of Vietnamese rice vermicelli. I had bought red, green bell and jalapeño peppers, yellow and green onions, carrots, celery, Chinese parsley and basil from the farmer’s market.

veggies

First, I thinly sliced the yellow onion and sautéd it in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, in a medium-sized frying pan. When it was soft, I added in chopped celery, jalapeño and bell peppers, but I cooked them just until they were tender, because I wanted them to keep their vivid colors. I turned off the heat, put them into a heat proof bowl and set them aside. I boiled some water and par-cooked chopped asparagus and carrots that I sliced with a vegetable peeler, so they’d cook quickly. I boiled the asparagus first for about 3 minutes, then added the carrot strips and cooked for another minute. I drained and rinsed them in cool water (just enough to stop the cooking) and set them aside.

Preparation for the clams was easy enough~ I removed about three-quarters of them from their shells, and saved about a dozen for garnish. I then put a pan of salted water on to boil; I added some olive oil to it to help keep the vermicelli from sticking. I cooked the vermicelli for until it lost it’s stiffness, but not so much that it would get gummy… about 5-6 minutes. Then I drained it in a colander, without rinsing. Don’t worry~ it will stay hot! I then gave that big mass of vermicelli a few snips with some kitchen shears, to get them to a manageable length.

I minced a couple of cloves of garlic, and sautéd them in a little bit of olive oil just until fragrant, about a minute. I used a larger pan for this. I then added the canned clams, adding most of the juice. I let them heat up, and then I added all of the poke clams and that fabulous juice. I stirred to combine, and then I added the par-cooked veggies, bringing them back to steaming hot.

While the clams and veggies were heating, I put the rice noodles into a large bowl, poured the hot clams over it and tossed. It was wonderful hot, and just as good for lunch the next day as a chilled salad.

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Highly recommended~ I hope you enjoy!

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I’m not always positive, though I certainly try to be. I was feeling quite negative last week about a lot of things, which brought me to the place that I am right now. Just over a week ago, my longtime, significant other, Monty, was laid off from his job. Just after the first of the year, my own hours got cut, due to the fact that my part-time employer doesn’t want to have to pay for my health insurance. I was feeling pretty horrible, since we had gone through this before, over the past couple of years. But, we’ve always still tried to make the best of it.

It is our habit to go to the KCC farmer’s market every Saturday and then eat breakfast at the Whole Foods Kahala, right after. We decided that we didn’t want to give up that little, guilty pleasure, in spite of hard times. Monty stood in line to buy the food, and I went off to get coffee.

Of course, the coffee bar is attached to the bakery, and waiting in line means view the pastry case… the one with the French macarons, the petit fours, and other small delights. I was perusing the case, mentally drooling, as usual. Suddenly, the young man in front of me turned around and faced me. “Aren’t those yin-yang cakes beautiful?” He was referring to the little two-part cakes made for two… one half chocolate and the other vanilla. I took a good look and told them that they were gorgeous, but I thought everything in the case was just that. He proceeded to tell me that he frequently bought them, because he liked the chocolate and his wife adored the vanilla side. I think he was suggesting that I buy one. Of course, just getting the bad news the day before, I had to tell him that looking was eye candy enough. Then I spilled the truth out: My other half had just been laid off. I felt bad for saying it, but it had been staring me in the face all morning.

Just after I had said that, it was his turn in line. He ordered a coffee, and then he asked the counter person to “get the lady behind me a yin-yang cake and put it on my bill.” I was totally stunned. He turned to me and repeated that he was buying me one of the little cakes, and I suddenly felt tears welling up in my eyes. I felt like I was in some kind of movie or something, because I turned around and looked at the people behind me, and they were smiling, looking a bit leaky.

He did indeed buy me one of the beautiful, little cakes, and I thanked him gratefully and profusely. I realized that my thanks (and tears) were more of being grateful to find a human being who was being kind to a total stranger, more than just he buying me a pretty cake. I told him that I would pay it forward, just as soon as I was able, and the world looked a bit different, after that. Before he stepped away, I asked him who he was~ did he work there? He told me that he was the manager of the bakery department, and that he managed the entire area that we we standing in. Again, I thanked him.

yin-yang

Monty met me at the coffee counter after paying for breakfast and seemed surprised at the way I looked. When we got outside, I explained to him what had transpired and showed him the little cakes. He  was so surprised. There were “so-ugly-they-were-beautiful English Bulldogs” with their owners at the table next to us, and they gave us smiles all around. (My biggest regret then was that I left my camera in the car… they were absolutely adorable). Anyway, the world looked different. I felt  more peace and patience within myself, even though nothing on the outside had much changed.

The people with the adorable bulldogs left, and we finished eating. Two ladies with nice smiles came by and asked if we were leaving. I smiled and said, “Yes, we are~ you can have our seats. You’ll like the good karma here, too!”

The lesson is there are good people in the world, and it’s a very comforting feeling to have someone show kindness. Smile, emulate and be one of them~ the world needs us.

 

Aloha!

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My name is Chris, and I live in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, at least for the moment. I love nature, photography, (and nature photography, since for me, they seem to go hand in hand) cooking and eating good food, growing lovely things in pots and listening to jazz music, though not necessarily in that order. I also love a good reason to smile, which is why I’m here. In fact, that’s really at the top of the list. There is a lot to love in the world, and it’s my goal to share it as I see it. I think we all need good reason to smile, so please come share my journey with me!