Recipe

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I’m in the mood for roast chicken, and it’s probably because I’m feeling the “winds of change” blowing. Yes, it finally feels a bit like fall here, because the winds finally started up again, and it looks like a bit of rain may be coming with them. This usually means that I’m ready and willing to fire up my oven again, since it’s not so hot outside.

Roast chicken with lemon, garlic and herbs

Roast chicken with lemon, garlic and herbs

I have a favorite roast chicken recipe, that I clipped from a newspaper, many years ago. That’s not a great source to acknowledge, but It’s the best I can do. But, I’ve also made it so many times that I know it by heart. It is Roast Chicken Stuffed with Rosemary, Lemon and Sage.

 

Olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs

Olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs season this chicken

What makes it a favorite are the herbs and garlic that are tucked under the skin with olive oil. Then the roasting process starts with the chicken placed in the pan breast-side-down, so that those herbs get heated up first, the skin starts getting a bit brown from the start, and your kitchen starts getting really fragrant! The chicken is also stuffed with rosemary, more garlic and chunks of lemon, so the meat is permeated with wonderful flavor. I love this recipe so much, that back when I was single, I made it almost every Sunday for a year. I would feast on it the first night, and have chicken sandwiches for lunch for a week. If there was any left by the end of the week, it would go into soup.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 medium to large whole chicken
Fresh rosemary, 3-4 5-inch sprigs
Fresh sage, 3-4 large leaves
Fresh parsley, a small handful
5 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 lemon, cut into slices or wedges (I’m using Meyer lemons~ more is good for garnish, too)
Salt & pepper
Trussing pins and string

Potatoes for roasting along side, if desired…thinly coat them with oil or cooking spray to keep them from sticking

——————————————————————–

Preheat oven to 400°.
Prepare a roasting pan with cooking spray or a thin coat of oil. Thoroughly wash the chicken, removing giblets and neck from cavity. Pat dry with paper towels, and stuff the cavity paper toweling to dry the inside. When dry, rub salt inside the cavity.

Loosen the skin from the breast meat

Loosen the skin from the breast meat

A spoon can be helpful

A spoon can be helpful

Very carefully, without tearing the skin, loosen the skin of the chicken by gently running your fingers up under the skin of the breast. You also want to break the membrane that binds them together in the center. (The backside of a teaspoon can help break that membrane, if necessary.)

 

Tuck the wings

Tuck the wings

Fold and tuck wings beneath chicken.

 

Loosely stuff the cavity with garlic, lemon and rosemary

Loosely stuff the cavity with garlic, lemon and rosemary

Alternate placing rosemary sprigs, (crushing them first should release oils to enable them to give off more flavor) lemon wedges or slices, and the remaining three whole, smashed garlic cloves loosely into the cavity, until it is just full. Stuffing them in tightly will just take longer for the chicken to cook, and it’s not really necessary.

 

Mince the parsley, sage and garlic

Chop the sage, parsley and 2 cloves of the garlic together, until you have a small pile of finely minced herbs.

 

Tuck the herbs under the skin

Tuck the herbs under the skin

Next, carefully pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil under the loosened skin, gently massaging the outside of the skin to spread it underneath. Then, carefully put the herb mixture under the skin, again gently massaging the outside to try spread it evenly. If you can manage to do this without breaking or tearing the skin, then you are going to have a great roast chicken!

 

Pin and truss~ you can probably do this better than I can

Pin and truss~ you can probably do this better than I can

Truss chicken with pins and tie with string, tuckng the tail inside, being very careful not to stab yourself~ those buggers can be very sharp.

 

First roast it breast-side down

First roast it breast-side down

Salt & pepper all sides of the chicken to taste, then place breast-side down into the roasting pan. You can add some lemon slices to roast if you like, also~ they make a nice garnish. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven. Lower oven temperature to 350°.

 

Flip the chicken

Flip the chicken

Carefully flip the chicken over so it is breast-side up, and place back into the oven to finish roasting, about 1 – 1½ hours, depending on size/weight of the chicken. The chicken is done when juices run clear.

This is also a good time to add some potatoes to roast along with it, if you’d like. Just make sure that they are coated in a little bit of oil,  so they don’t stick to the pan. The oils and juices of the chicken will give them plenty of moisture, as the chicken cooks more.  Just be aware that this may add some to the cooking time.

 

Let it rest

Let it rest

When the chicken is done cooking, cover it and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

 

Rosemary & lemon stuffed chicken

Rosemary & lemon stuffed chicken

Serve with potatoes

Serve with the potatoes

Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and put them into as serving bowl.

Remove pins and string from chicken before serving, and carve it up. Enjoy!

 

Flavorful and juicy!

Flavorful and juicy!

Leftovers make a great sandwich!

Leftovers make a great sandwich!

As I said before, the leftovers make wonderful sandwiches!

Making the Best of Young Ginger

It’s been a busy week and again, we are in the mood for something refreshing. I noticed last week that young ginger is now available at the farmers market, so I picked some up. So many things can be made from it, and it  is so soft, tender and much easier to peel and grate. If you like ginger, and If you’ve never had ginger in this form before, you will love it!

Young ginger~ so tender

Young ginger~ so tender

I just made some cucumber namasu with what I bought on Saturday. If you’ve never had namasu before, it is a nice, little Japanese side dish made with uncooked vegetables, marinated in a simple vinaigrette. It’s then chilled and in the process, it becomes slightly pickled. The first time I ever had it, it was made from bitter melon, and it was absolutely delicious. An elderly, Japanese friend of Monty’s gave some to us, and what I loved about it was the bits of bean thread (also known as long rice or cellophane noodles) and imitation crab that was in it. Today I made it with Japanese cucumbers, and if you ask me, it really is about the marinade. Here’s how I did it:

1 large English cucumber (or several small Japanese cucumbers, if available)
1½ teaspoons salt
4 oz. mung bean or rice noodles
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (young ginger,
if available)
1 tablespoon bottled sushi ginger, chopped
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon bottled sushi ginger liquid
1 teaspoon sesame oil (or to taste)
4 oz. flake crab meat, chopped (optional ~
imitation is okay)
1 tablespoon sesame seed (I used white and black)

——————————————————————————–

Place mung bean or rice noodles into a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Allow them to sit for 1 hour, then drain.

Snip the bean thread into small pieces

Snip the bean thread into small pieces

Snip into 1-2 inch lengths with kitchen shears, if you have them. Set aside.

 

Peel, seed and slice the cukes

Peel, seed and slice the cukes

Spoon out the seeds

Spoon out the seeds

Peel cucumbers and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and then cut into thin slices. Sprinkle the salt over the cucumbers and mixit in. Marinate in the fridge for about an hour, then rinse excess salt off with water. Drain, then gently squeeze out any water from the cucumbers. Pat them dry.

 

I like to add some sushi ginger juice

I like to add some sushi ginger juice

Chop the green onions and gingers, and place them into a bowl.

Heat rice vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan, until the sugar dissolves. Cool. Mix in liquid from sushi ginger and the sesame oil.

 

Toss the ingredients, adding in the sesame seeds

Toss the ingredients, adding in the sesame seeds

Mix gingers, green onions, crabmeat and sesame seeds with the cucumbers.

Mix the bean thread in

Mix the bean thread in

Add the bean thread and toss again.

 

Cover and refrigerate for a few hours

Cover and refrigerate for a few hours

Dress with cooled dressing and chill for several hours.

 

A sprinkling of furikake makes a good garnish

A sprinkling of furikake makes a good garnish

Garnish with some furikake, if you have some.

Serves 4.

Namasu with bean thread

Namasu with bean thread

A cool, refreshing side dish

A cool, refreshing side dish

We enjoy our summer dinners on the lanai. I served this with one of our favorites~  Chinese pork with long squash, which I posted a few weeks ago. Delicious together!

dinner

Dinner on the lanai~ namasu served with Chinese pork and long squash

Dinner on the lanai~ namasu served with Chinese pork and long squash

Namasu with bean thread

Namasu with bean thread

Using Up “Hurricane Bananas”

Sometimes you get lucky, you know that, don’t you? I’ve been busy the past week, due to the existence of two hurricanes close to our waters. Hurricanes tend to throw a real, curve ball into whatever it is you are trying to accomplish at the time. Whatever you’re doing, you need to stop and prepare to survive. For me that meant gathering supplies, cleaning the lanai, so the plants wouldn’t become hurtling, airborne objects in the wind, and cleaning and organizing the household, so as to lessen any potentially disastrous impacts. It was a lot of work and not something I would want to do every week, but since we hadn’t had such a warning in twenty-two years, it was okay.

Since non-perishable food is so important in such a situation, I was so happy when Monty came home with a huge hand of bananas last Thursday night, given to him by a coworker. It is nice to have something fresh in such a situation. Thankfully, Hurricane Iselle fizzled out once it hit the Island of Hawaii, and Julio drifted well away from us, leaving me with a bunch of bananas, bottles of water, and a bunch of canned food to be stored for another day. Knowing how we only use maybe 3-4 bananas in a week, I knew the day would come soon, that I would have to whip up some banana nut bread. Since they are starting to get brown and soft, today must be the day.

Making healthy banana nut bread can be easy

Making healthy banana nut bread can be easy

 

Here’s what we’ll need:

1/3 cup vegetable oil

½ cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas

1¾ cups whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup hot water

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup chopped macadamia nuts

Mash the bananas with a fork

Mash the bananas with a fork

——————————————————————————

Pre-heat oven to 325º.

Grease (or spray with cooking spray) a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oil and honey. If you measure the oil first, the honey will pour out of your measuring cup much easier. Add in the eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla and mashed bananas.

 

Stir the flour and salt into the egg and honey mixture

Stir the flour and salt into the egg and honey mixture

Gradually still the flour and salt into the wet ingredients, mixing just until everything is almost fully moistened. If you over mix, the bread becomes tough.

 

Stir in the nuts

Stir in the nuts

Next, add in the nuts, again being careful not to over mix.

 

Mix the baking soda with hot water

Mix the baking soda with hot water

In a measuring cup, mix the baking soda with hot water and stir it into the batter.

 

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for one hour. Check with a toothpick for doneness~ mine usually needs another 10-15 minutes, or so.

 

Remove when done, and allow to sit for a few minutes

Remove when done, and allow to sit for a few minutes

Once done, allow to cool for a couple of minutes, before removing from pan.

 

Put on a rack to finish cooling

Put on a rack to finish cooling

Carefully remove from bread pan and allow to finish cooling on a rack.

 

Slice and serve

Slice and serve

Slice and serve. This bread freezes really well, if you’d like to stash some away to be eaten in about six months, or so.

 

Good for breakfast

Good for breakfast

Try it for dessert

Try it for dessert, too

 

Fig Bars with Thyme~ A Nice Twist On a Classic

Beautiful figs!

Beautiful figs!

I think figs are a totally beautiful fruit. I love the way they look, as well as their taste. I love the slightly crunchy texture of the seeds and that sweet distinctive flavor. I also love their beautiful, dark color on the outside, and when you open them up, the seeds display a whole other kind of beauty.

 

On the tree

On the tree

They do grow here, because I’ve seen quite a few trees with fruit. But I never see them at the farmers markets, and I when I see them at any other market, they are quite expensive.

 

Whole Foods figs, on sale

Whole Foods figs, on sale

A couple of weeks ago, I did find some on sale at Whole Foods, and trust me, I snapped them right up!

I knew what I was going to do with them, too. Last year, I made these fig bars last summer, and I liked them so much, I decided to make them again. Thyme is my favorite herb, so it’s fitting to put two beautiful things together.

 

Figs and fresh thyme

Figs and fresh thyme

 

For the pastry:

½ cup walnuts
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour (you can also use white whole wheat flour)
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the jam:

2 pounds very ripe figs, stems removed, unpeeled
¼ cup sugar
7 to 8 large sprigs fresh thyme
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice; more or less to taste

Make the jam first…

Coarsely chop the figs

Coarsely chop the figs

Coarsely chop the figs and put them into a saucepan along with the sugar, and thyme.

Cook the jam

Cook the jam

Cook them until the juices reduce and the figs become soft, tender and “jammy.” This should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.

What’s nice about the jam is that it can be made and stored for several weeks, if tightly covered in the refrigerator.

 

Next, make the pastry crust:

Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray or grease the bottom and sides of an 8″x8″x2″ pan.

I’ll come right out an tell you that I have a food processor, but it’s a small one. (We have no counter space here). So I’m going to do the first step in it, and then switch to more manual methods. If you have a nice, big processor, by all means make the entire crust in it.

Process the walnuts and a little sugar

Process the walnuts and a little sugar

For the first step, grind the walnuts and 2 tablespoons of sugar of the white sugar together. Remove and set aside.

 

Cut the butter in

Cut the butter in

In another large bowl (or the food processor, if large enough) combine the flour, remaining sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the butter, cutting it in with 2 knives or a pastry cutter, until the mixture becomes crumbly.

Mix until crumbly

Mix until crumbly

 

Add egg yolk and vanilla

Add egg yolk and vanilla

Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix them in. The mixture won’t form into to a ball, so just expect ti to be a little moist, but not really firm.

 

Press pastry into the pan

Press pastry into the pan

Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan, flattening with a spoon. Bake for 30 minutes, or until you can press the crust, and it will make a slight indentation. It should be lightly browned.

 

Spread the jam on top the crust

Spread the jam on top the crust

Spread the fig jam on top of the crust, working to make it as even as possible.

Fig jam~ try to spread it evenly

Fig jam~ try to spread it evenly

 

Sprinkle remaining pastry crumbs on top

Sprinkle remaining pastry crumbs on top

Sprinkle the remainder of the pastry evenly on top of the jam, and return to the oven for about 40 minutes, or until browned on top. Allow to cool, then cut into 1½-inch squares.

 

Fig bars with thyme and lemon

Fig bars with thyme and lemon

Serve and enjoy!

 

Fig bars with thyme and lemon~ sweet and healthy

Fig bars with thyme and lemon~ sweet and healthy

I’ve been keeping them refrigerated, tightly covered. They’re also  delicious with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla yogurt!

 

 

A Recipe Created from Eavesdropping

Title sounds kind of sneaky, doesn’t it? What happened was I just happened to be at the farmers market, waiting in line by two women talking about the offerings that morning. One of them picked up a long squash and asked her friend if she had ever had said variety of squash with pork & ginger. She went on  and on about how utterly delicious it is and how easy it is to make. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself. I didn’t buy one that day, but the next time I saw one. I bought one and went home to research.

Chinese long squash and ginger

Chinese long squash and ginger

 

That was last week. What I managed to make was so simple, easy and delicious, that I absolutely have to share it. It was also so good that we’re having it this week, too! From what I found out, this is actually a localized Chinese recipe. This is a simple stir fry with two kinds of vinegar in it, but don’t worry if you can’t find the Chinese black vinegar~ it is just as delicious using balsamic. I’m sure the vinegar helps to tenderize the pork, and it also gives the dish a nice, tangy flavor. I served this with some brown rice and some steamed Chinese broccoli, that I also found at the farmers market. This broccoli has a slightly bitter taste that goes well with the sweetness of the sauce. It’s also chock full of vitamins and nutrients.

This serves 4-6, depending upon what you’re serving with it. The leftovers are very tasty, too.

To make the stir fry:

1 (about 2-pounds) long squash

2 tablespoons peanut oil (or any other heat tolerant oil)

1 tablespoon fresh ginger,  peeled and minced, or grated

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1  pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and chopped into 2-inch strips

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic, if not readily available)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Garnish with:

½ cup chopped green onions

½ cup chopped Chinese parsley (cilantro)

————————————————————————————

You can peel ginger with a spoon, to get to the places between "knobs"

You can peel ginger with a spoon, to get to the places between “knobs”

Here’s a quick tip for the ginger: peel the spaces between the “knobs” with a spoon. It’s much easier and less wasteful, than using a knife.

 

Chop the squash into bite-sized pieces

Chop the squash

Chop the squash into bite-sized pieces and steam.

 

Drain the steamed squash

Drain the steamed squash

Steam the chopped squash in a steamer (or a microwave) until just tender. Drain and set aside.

 

Stir fry the grated ginger and pepper flakes

Stir fry the grated ginger and pepper flakes

Heat the oil in  a large skillet over medium heat and add the ginger and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

 

Add the pork to the ginger and peppers

Add the pork to the ginger and peppers

Increase heat to medium high and add the chopped pork~ cook for 4-5 minutes.

 

Combine sauce ingredients

Combine sauce ingredients

Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients with a whisk. Pour the mixture into the pork and stir, coating the pork. Cook until the sauce thickens, (a couple of minutes) then add in the squash, tossing to coat with the sauce. Top with green onions and cilantro and serve. The freshness of the garnish really makes it extra special, so do yourself a favor don’t leave it out!

 

I'm serving this on the side

I’m serving this on the side

I’ve also chopped and steamed some Chinese broccoli (gai lan) to enjoy with it. This is much leafier than “American broccoli,” and a lot less expensive, too.

 

Chinese broccoli

Chinese broccoli, a. k. a. gai lan

 

Chinese long squab with pork and ginger

Chinese long squash with pork and ginger

 

A lovely, light, flavorful dinner

A lovely, light, flavorful dinner

 

Serve with rice, if you wish, and another veggie. We're loving the Chinese broccoli that's in season.

Serve with rice, if you wish, and another veggie. We’re loving the Chinese broccoli that’s in season!

 

 

Frozen Watermelon-Strawberry Pops for the Coming “Dog Days”

The “dog days” of Summer are almost here, and we’re all sure to be hot and in need of some humor. Here’s a treat that will not only refresh and rehydrate, but it also has a lot of visual appeal for kids and adults, alike.  The visual part makes a real, fruit popsicle look like a watermelon. These will take a little bit more time than simple frozen fruit juice in a mold because of the different layers, but a little bit of extra delight seems worth it, to me. One of the nicest things about these pops, is the fact that the contain no added sugar. For once, hears a treat that’s truly healthy!

Summer refreshers

Summer refreshers

You'll also need mini chocolate chips, coconut, popsicle molds and sticks

You’ll also need mini chocolate chips, coconut, popsicle molds and sticks

The following makes 8 watermelon pops, but this is easily halved. You’ll need:

2 cups of watermelon chunks

6 strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (we want these to look like watermelon seeds)

½ cup coconut water

4 teaspoons (approximately)  flaked coconut (I’m using and unsweetened, reduced fat, organic coconut)

2 kiwi fruits

 

You’ll also need popsicle molds, popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, and an immersion blender.

Put the watermelon and strawberries together into a bowl

Put the watermelon and strawberries together into a bowl

Remove the black seeds from the watermelon and place the chunks into a medium bowl along with the strawberries.

Purée with a blender

Purée with a blender

Process with an immersion blender, until all the chunks are liquified.

Pour into molds

Pour into molds

Pour the mixture into the molds, leaving abut an inch from the top of each mold.

Cover with foil and poke the sticks through

Cover with foil and poke the sticks through

Wrap the tops of the molds with foil and poke the popsicle sticks through the center. Put the molds into the freezer, pulling them out after an hour to an hour and a half, or so. You may need to check a couple of times. (The mixture should be slushy, but not frozen solid).

Add 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate chips to each mold

Add 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate chips to each mold

When it reaches that point, add a ½ teaspoon of the mini chocolate chips into each mold, and gently stir them around with the stick. The mixture should be slushy enough that the sticks won’t need the foil.

Straighten the sticks in the molds

Straighten the sticks in the molds

Straighten the sticks and put the molds back into the freezer until they are frozen solid.

Next step is to make the “white layer” of the rind. This will be a thin layer made up of the coconut water with ground coconut mixed in it.

Coconut water & coconut

Coconut water & coconut

I poured the coconut water into a lipped measuring cup, to make it easier, but really any small bowl will do. You can use any brand you like, and I chose the one with the tiki on it.

This is the "white layer" of the rind

This is the “white layer” of the rind

Spoon a tablespoon of the coconut water into the top of each of the molds. Then spoon a half teaspoonful of dried coconut into the water in the mold. With the tip of a knife or another popsicle stick, carefully distribute the coconut in the water. When all molds are done, place back into the freezer until that layer is frozen, too.

The last step will be the “green layer” of the rind.

Spoon out the kiwi into a bowl

Spoon out the kiwi into a bowl

Cut the kiwi in half, remove the white core with a knife, and scoop the pulp into a small bowl or cup with a spoon.

Mash the kiwi with a fork

Mash the kiwi with a fork

Mash the kiwi with a fork, removing the lumps as much a possible.

Fill the last part of the mold cavity

Fill the last part of the mold cavity

Continue until all are filled

Continue until all are filled

Spoon the kiwi into the top portion of the mold, continuing until all molds are filled.

Freeze one more time

Freeze one more time

Freeze the pops until the kiwi is firm, then cover tops with aluminum foil until ready to serve. This will help them from drying out and getting freezer burn.

Serve. These are great on a hot, summer afternoon!

Delightful to the eye, as well as the taste!

Delightful to the eye, as well as the taste!

 

Truly healthy and natural

Truly healthy and natural

 

Imagine them at your next pool party…

Can you resist?

Can you resist?

 

 

It’s Kam Day~ Bring on da Chicken Long Rice!

Today is King Kamehameha’s Birthday, (Kam Day, to us folks who live here) so I am up for sharing a special Hawai‘ian recipe to celebrate! In case you didn’t know, King Kamehameha was the monarch who united the Hawai‘ian Islands, back in the 19th century. It’s a state holiday, so if you’re a working person, it’s a nice little break between Memorial Day and The Fourth of July. There is a big floral parade on the Saturday closest to June 11th, with lots of pageantry, marching bands, and pa‘u riders.

Pa‘u rider

Pa‘u rider

Pa‘u riders are beautiful Hawaiian women dressed in 19th Century riding gowns on horseback, bedecked with lei and other floral arrangements.

The Honolulu King Kamehameha statue on his birthday celebration, 2009

The Honolulu King Kamehameha statue on his birthday celebration, 2009

It’s a lot of fun to go downtown and check out the Kamehameha statue to see it bedecked in lei, too.

Chicken Long Rice

Chicken Long Rice

Anyway I’d like to celebrate by having a dish that’s usually a staple at a modern-day luau. It’s called chicken long rice, and it’s easy for someone like me to make, since I can’t dig an imu to roast a pig on our lanai. Most of the people reading this should be able to find these ingredients, which makes it more fun for everyone. If you have trouble, check your Asian food section at your local grocery.

Technically, chicken long rice really isn’t Hawaiian, but rather more Cantonese. The recipe came to the islands, back in the 1800s with the Chinese laborers, but the Asian influence has been so strong in Hawai‘i, people really don’t think twice about having a non-Hawai‘ian food, at a traditional Hawai‘ian feast. It is a kind of comfort food to many people, and you’ll soon see that it’s much like chicken soup, though there’s just enough liquid in the dish to float the noodles, rather than they be “swimming” in it.

Mung bean thread (long rice)

Mung bean thread (long rice)

 

Just make sure that you are buying “long rice,” rather than Asian vermicelli noodles, which are opaque. The are two different things. You want the ones that look more like cellophane.

Shitake mushrooms, celery, and carrots make chicken long rice much healthier

Shitake mushrooms, celery, and carrots make chicken long rice much healthier

 

This recipe is even more non-traditional, since I like having a few more veggies in mine. This is an adaptation of Sam Choy’s recipe, which suits me better. If you’d like to try, you’ll need:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs~ that’s about 2 large ones

2½ cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

½ medium sweet onion, (Maui, if possible) minced (I used one small one… same thing)

½ pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

2 carrots, julienned

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced cross-wise

6 ounces mung bean noodles (also known as cellophane noodles or long rice)

salt to taste

6 scallions, sliced cross-wise

 

Place the long rice into a large bowl, cover with warm water, and let it soak for an hour. Meanwhile, place the chicken breasts in a pan, cover with water and boil until just cooked. Remove from heat and allow to cool, at least enough to be able to handle it.

Julienne or slice these thinly

Julienne or slice these thinly

 

While the chicken is cooking, (and cooling) chop the veggies. Everything should be thinly sliced.

Slice mushrooms thinly, too

Slice mushrooms thinly, too

 

Make sure you remove the stems from the shitake mushrooms, also… they are somewhat toxic, while the rest of mushroom is fine. If you can’t find fresh ones, dried ones are fine also, though you’ll need to reconstitute them.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until tender and translucent. Add in the ginger, celery and carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes. Pour in the broth and stir. Allow the veggies to cook in the broth for a few minutes.

Shred chicken

Shred chicken

 

The last things you want to add are the chicken, long rice and green onion. Drain the long rice and cut into smaller pieces. I usually snip handfuls of the slippery stuff with kitchen shears, otherwise you’ll never get a spoonful~ it’s worse than spaghetti! Stir in the chicken, long rice and garnish with the green onions. Make sure you taste the broth and adjust salt to taste.

Luau food!

Luau food!

You can add additional onions as a garnish if you wish.

Simple, comfort food, for many

Simple, comfort food, for many

 

If it needs more seasoning, a dash of shoyu (soy sauce) and/or hot sauce (better yet, if you can access some chili pepper water) will usually do the trick.

 

A tasty spoonful

A tasty spoonful

 

Have a great “Kam Day” and Aloooooooha!

 

 

 

Hurray for Peach Season!

Mmmmmm… peaches!

Mmmmmm… peaches!

I am so happy to see good peaches in the markets again! I was getting worried, mainly because last year seemed to be a banner year for them, since I remember buying good, juicy ones in February. No such luck this year, and with the horrendous weather many mainland states had this past winter, I was afraid the season would yield mealy, not-so-good fruit. But it’s June, and I felt fortunate to find lovely, very fragrant peaches, yesterday. Better now, than never.

I’ve been waiting for them, because I love them spiced, just as much as I love eating them out of hand! I’m sure you can guess what’s coming…

roasted peaches

Yes, I have a wonderful, healthy, spiced peach recipe. Actually, what happens here is the honey that the peaches are roasted in is infused with vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and star anise. The infusion makes the spice flavoring more intense, and it also has a nice way of making your kitchen smell wonderful! It’s a bit like a scented candle or air freshener, except it’s natural. So lovely! 

Just add honey and spices

Just add honey and spices

All you need is:

4-5 ripe but firm peaches

1 cinnamon stick

1 vanilla bean

3-4 star anise

¼ cup honey

½ cup water

a shot of peach-flavored liqueur (optional)

First, split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds with a knife. Try to get as many as you can, and then put them into a small saucepan.

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean

 

In the same saucepan, also place the rest of the vanilla bean, the cinnamon stick, star anise, honey and the water and gently stir. Bring them to a boil and then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow the mixture to sit and infuse for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Infuse the honey with spices

Infuse the honey with spices

 

Next, slice the peaches, removing and discarding the pits.

Slice the peaches

Slice the peaches

 

Arrange them into a baking pan.

Arrange them in a pan

Arrange them in a pan

 

Pour the honey infusion over the peaches, including the whole spices~ they will continue to add flavor.

Pour the honey over them

Pour the honey over them

 

Roast for 30 minutes, or until the honey is bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Roasted peaches

Roasted peaches

 

These are good served at room temperature with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Serve with yogurt

Serve with yogurt

 

This makes a light and easy dessert. You also can serve these over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!!

A light and easy dessert

A light and easy dessert

An Easy, Smoked Salmon “Canapé”

As many people already know, Sunday is our main day for relaxing… that’s why we call it “Martini Sunday,” though we certainly don’t tipple all day long! Just two in the late afternoon is fine, and of course, accompanied by an appetizer or “pupu,” as they are called in Hawai‘i.

We got some smoked salmon at Costco last week, and I’ve been feeling anticipation at sharing this appetizer idea for you, since it’s been a favorite of ours for quite a few years. It is a sort of canapé, as people once called them, which translates into “finger food.” So get the napkins ready, and remember… umbrellas are mandatory! This is a recipe that I found from Sunset Magazine many years ago, and it’s so easy and delicious, that I’ve got it memorized. What I love about this recipe are its health benefits~ lots of omega 3 oils from olive oil, macadamia nuts (if you follow my pesto recipe) salmon and avocado, antioxidants from the basil and sprouts, and potentially good fiber, depending upon the bread you use.

What's needed

What’s needed

All you need is…

Bread, 2 slices of whole grain, seeded  bread (I use super high fiber) works very well here

pesto, about 3-4 tablespoons

½ avocado, thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 oz. smoked salmon

sprouts, any kind you like

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

This is so simple. First, toast the bread.

 

Spread the pesto on toast

Spread the pesto on toast

Next, spread about 1½-2 tablespoons of pesto over each slice of bread.

Slice the avocado and lay it on

Slice the avocado and lay it on

Grind pepper to taste

Grind pepper to taste

 

Then, place avocado slices on top of the pesto, and sprinkle with black pepper. You really won’t need salt, since the salmon is naturally salty.

Layer on the salmon

Layer on the salmon

 

The salmon comes next~ layer slices on top the of the avocado.

Cut them into pieces and add a "pinch" of sprouts

Cut them into pieces and add a “pinch” of sprouts

 

Cut each bread slice into halves lengthwise, and then place a pinch of the sprouts on top of each canapé.

Oh, yeah….

Oh, yeah….

You will be amazed at how elegant something so simple can be!

Serve with style~ food is beautiful!

Serve with style~ food is beautiful!

Now, serve in absolute style~ life is short, so enjoy the beauty! It’s not that hard really, with a little bit of imagination.

Elegant~ serve with style!

Elegant~ serve with style!

Welcome to our Sunday!

Welcome to our Sunday!

 

Thanks for joining us on our “Martini Sunday!” I hope you try this and enjoy!

 

 

Italian-Style String Beans, Inspired by the Past

Farmers market fresh

Farmers market fresh

I got these string beans at the farmers market over the weekend. It’s true I have a hard time resisting rainbow veggies, and the moment I saw these, they reminded me of my great-grandmother on my father’s side. She was French, and the most I know about her is that she lived in Louisiana, and eventually moved to San Francisco. Many things she cooked, including these, had a Southern style to them, in spite of her European-ness. The beans remind me of a very specific recipe that she would cook on holidays, which was string beans cooked in bacon and shallots. I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t know what her method was, but those veggies were  very well done! I mean, they were quite over-cooked. In fact, they were boiled to death! But at that young age, I really didn’t much care. It wasn’t until a bit later, that my palate developed into that love of tender-crispness, the style that California vegetables tend to be cooked in. So, I had a thought that since I was cooking Italian food, (that’s my lovely Caprese Lasagna Roll Ups) I could channel just a bit of my great-grandma and get a bit of the flavor, without the too-done-for-my-taste texture.

Shallot

Shallots

The shallots were easy enough to find.

The prosciutto end is inexpensive, if you can find it

The prosciutto end is inexpensive, if you can find it

What I decided to use instead of bacon was a bit of prosciutto. Honolulu doesn’t have a lot of delicatessens, but we do have a couple of stores with gourmet sections. I went to the Foodland nearby and found the price of prosciutto prohibitively expensive at $22.00 a pound. I swallowed and told the clerk I just wanted one slice. She looked at me quizzically and asked me what I was using it for, and I told here that it was just to add flavor. That’s when she made the suggestion to just buy an end. I didn’t even realize that they sold them like that, and at the total price of only $2.99, I felt I had scored.

Simple ingredients here:

1 pound green beans, any kind

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small shallot

1 prosciutto end, or 1 small slice prosciutto, chopped into small pieces

1 dash white pepper

That’s it. You probably won’t need salt, since the prosciutto has some in it.

Trim and cut diagonally

Trim and cut diagonally

Wash the beans, trim and slice diagonally. I made the slices kind of thin, because these beans can be tougher that the thinner variety. In fact, I’ll come right out and tell you not to bother with the paler ones~ they ere extremely tough. But, the rest of them were quite good.

Drain and cool

Drain and cool

Steam the beans for about 10 minutes. They won’t be quite done, but they are going to get another cooking. Drain them and set aside.

Mince the shallot

Mince the shallot

Mince the shallot and chop the prosciutto into small pieces In a medium-sized frying pan, sauté the shallot and prosciutto until tender and fragrant. Add the string beans and cook them for about 10 minutes, stirring to combine ingredients. Sprinkle with a dash of white pepper.

Italian-style Beans with Shallot and Prosciutto

Italian-style Beans with Shallot and Prosciutto

Turn into a bowl and serve.

Perfect with Italian food

Perfect with Italian food

They go wonderful with any kind of Italian food. Enjoy!