Archive for May, 2010

I was at the supermarket today after yoga and saw tomatoes in all kinds of beautiful colors and I thought oooh, I’m going to make a pretty tomato salad! I picked up red, yellow, orange, and green tomatoes and a container of feta and hurried home to put it together. I rinsed and cut the tomatoes and them arranged them on a plate, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and topped with feta. The result- AMAZING! It’s perfect for a light lunch or for a dinner appetizer. I can’t wait to make it again soon! 🙂

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This recipe comes from my Joy of Cooking day calendar. It would be great for a party appetizer, served with chicken or spring rolls, as mentioned below. I love anything with peanuts and peanut butter and I can’t wait to make it! 

Yield: 1.5 cups

Some version of this sauce is served all over Southeast Asia, with the small skewers of meat and chicken known as satays, or with many other dishes from spring rolls to grilled meats. Thin it with a bit of rice vinegar for a Thai-style salad dressing or marinade. 

Heat in a small saucepan over medium heat:

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil

Add and cook, stirring until golden brown, about one minute:

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

Add and cook, stirring until thickened, about 4 minutes:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2/3 cup chunky peanut butter, preferably unsweetened
  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar, or to taste

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Here is another recipe from my Joy of Cooking day calendar. I thought it sounded so light and delicious and I could just picture myself drizzling it over a delicious salad… 🙂

Yields: 1.5 cups

Combine in a blender and process until thick and smooth:

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped onions
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. catsup
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce

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“Like stones rolling down a hill, fair ideas reach their objective despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to speed or hinder them, but impossible to stop them.”

– Jose Marti, Statesman, Poet, Visionary and Cuban Revolutionary

We have been talking about trying Soul De Cuba Cafe since a dinner down the street at JJ Dolan’s way back in January….and after many failed attempts, I finally found myself there, sitting at a cozy corner table with Justin, Tori, my roommate Carol, and a large pitcher of soul healing mojito goodness.  After a less than stellar day, it was exactly what I needed.

Pollo Soul de Cuba - this lightly breaded chicken was the most moist, juicy and flavorful chicken I think I've ever had. Paired with the home made salsa of mango, guava, black beans pineapple and rum it was nothing short of amazing.

In a place where Korean BBQ, Japanese, Chinese and Pacific Rim restaurants reign king, and Cuban is rarer than rare, despite this places good reviews I feared that I would find myself in a situation similar to that of the Mexican food dilemma in Hawaii – there are few options to choose from and most of them miss the mark…by a mile.  However, with one dip of my spoon into the black bean chili Justin had ordered and I knew I was in for a spectacular meal.

The Eggplant Milanesa tatsted like a more fresh, healthy version of eggplant parmesan.

We started with an appetizer sampler and an order of the empanadas as recommended by our server.  Delicious.  After some deliberation about whether or not ox tail would make an appearance at our table that evening (I was vehemently opposed to eating it and so it was a no-go), we decided to share the Eggplant Milanesa, Pollo Soul de Cuba, and the Picadillo.  One word. Wow.  From the super moist, juicy chicken & homemade mango salsa, to the just barely still-crisp slices of tomato sauce smothered eggplant, to the slight and very welcome tang of the Spanish olives in the Picadillo, right down to the black beans, rice and the plantain garnish – not one bite was a disappointment.  We closed with a delectably moist, dense brownie capped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, and, of course, flan with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and caramelized plantain.  Oh my.

Tori especially wanted to try the Picadillo because she said she makes it at home...I thought it was delish, but forgot to ask her how it stacks up to her own. Tori?

As usual, even better than the food proved to be the company.  At one point conversation turned from the current hapennings of our days to my new-found obsession with an under-ground, invite-only supper club here in Honolulu called Spork.  Tori told us all about their friend’s supper club on the east coast and a plan to form our own was born.  Still in it’s fledgling stage, I think it will take at least a pizza night or two for us to really flush out the details 🙂

It is always a good time for a fudgy brownie and vanilla ice cream. Always.

It is evident in everything from the atmosphere of the restaurant to the stories about the founders on the website, and especially in the food prepared from the home style recipes of their families, that there is indeed a soulfulness about this place.  All in all, Soul De Cuba Cafe has officially earned a place in my top 15 favorites here on Oahu…which is a pretty serious statement considering how much I love to eat.  Go, try it for yourself – I am positive you won’t regret it.  Don’t live on Oahu?  Drop in to their New Haven, CT location and let us know how it is!

Flan topped with fresh strawberries, caramelized plantains and whipped cream was super yummy....not gonna lie, I think the flan I make is better 🙂

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Shibi (baby yellow fin tuna), grapefruit, pickled fennel and a whole bunch of other yummy goodness

Saturday, as Lesley and I lazed around wondering what to do with ourselves, I flipped through the latest Twitter posts on my phone for some inspiration and came across a photo from @edstown of that night’s dinner menu at Town which looked incredible.  Lesley had never been there before and I’ve been craving it for months so we decided to splurge a bit and make it a date night – problem solved.

Beet, Arugula, Orange, Chickpea and Ricotta salad

Good thing we made reservations because it was packed when we arrived.  I love everything about this restaurant; the aesthetic of it makes you feel like you are at your friends house for dinner, the food is all farm-to-table (New American type dishes), the staff is great, and everything I’ve ever eaten there has been to-die-for delicious.  And that night was no exception.  We shared a bottle of white Italian wine, bread (I would kill for their bread recipe)/olive oil/butter/olives, a beet/orange/arugula/ricotta salad, shibi(baby yellow fin tuna)/pickled fennel/grapefruit appetizer, fresh ono with fresh veggies and a meyer lemon berry butter sauce, hand cut pasta with eggplant and prosciutto, and finally buttermilk panna cotta drizzled in honey.  If that doesn’t make your mouth water I don’t know what will.

So ono!

Great for lunch as well, I will have to make it a point to not let so much time go by before I find myself back there.  The game plan for next time however is to share an entree so that we can share the apple banana/chocolate panini for dessert….heaven in between two slices of bread I imagine.  Also on the list of things to try is their Wine Down Wednesday event where they have a special menu with wine pairings….For reviews, phone numbers etc. go HERE.

The hand-cut pasta was silky, flavorful and not overly heavy. The leftovers the next day were amazing!

"Milk & Honey" Buttermilk panna cotta drizzled in local honey....perfectly light and refreshing after a big meal!

Cheers to good food and even better company!

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I came to work the other day to find a bag full of mangoes on my desk…not something that happens to often on Oahu where mango trees aren’t as plentiful as on Kauai.  Such a nice surprise.  Mango season is one of the reasons I don’t think I could ever call anywhere but Hawaii home.

As much as I have always loved mangoes – fresh and pickled specifically – I haven’t always loved mango chutney.  I remember wanting to just die as a kid when I would come home to a house full of my mom and her girlfriends cooking and canning their chutney…the smell of it all was enough to send me right back out the door.  However, as it often happens, these days I can’t get enough of it.  I now beg, steal, and horde jars that my mom makes each year, sparingly dolling it out on special occasions.

This year, in hopes that I get my hands on enough mangoes, I have asked my mom for the S&B chutney recipe (which apparently originated from a long-time friend Lynn Nunn, and has been passed down through the ranks).

Mango Chutney

Boil together for 5 minutes (you need a big pot):
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
6 1/2 cups sugar

Add the following and boil until mango is tender and clear:
12 cups chopped mango (I thickly slice it instead of chopping it and often put in up to 15 cups if I have extra – it cooks down quite a bit)
1/2 cup finely chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cups almonds (optional)
3 cups raisins
1 tsp. salt
4 finely chopped Hawaiian chili peppers (if unavailable, use dried crushed red pepper – several teaspoons or to taste)
1 large onion, sliced
1 orange, sliced (peel and all)

While the chutney is on the stove, wash and rinse your jars and lids, then dip them in a pot of boiling water to sanitize – drain. It’s best if you have some rubber tipped tongs for this job.  Fill each jar with hot chutney, leaving enough room at the top of each jar for the wax.  Use a can (save a soup can or something) placed in a small saucepan of water to melt your kitchen wax  in (found in the baking section). If you melt the wax directly in your pan, you will ruin it!  Pour a good layer of melted wax over the top of the chutney in each jar and let cool. When everything is set, put a lid on each jar and store in pantry until use.

I usually ask a friend over and we double the recipe and split the chutney. One recipe makes plenty to last all year, with a few jars extra to give to special people.

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Nutrition Starts in the Nest

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Weeks ago I forwarded my girlfriend Lesley an email featuring BYOB restaurants in Honolulu, and this past Wednesday we put it to good use and tried out Himalayan Kitchen for the first time.  Armed with a few bottles of cheap but yummy Pinot, we met our friends Tori & Justin and their adorable two year old Haley for an early dinner.

Located on the rooftop of a building in Kaimuki and with lots of outdoor seating, it was love at first sight for me and Lesley.  The menu, with pages and pages of what looked like the most delicious food didn’t hurt either.  Tori and Justin had been there before and as such they led the ordering process.  We shared a whole lot of things that I cannot presently remember the names of (I could barely pronounce them or tell them apart but that didn’t stop us), and enjoyed both the food and the company immensely.  Even little Haley dug in, simply wiping her tongue off with her napkin when she encountered something a bit too spicy for her liking 🙂

Completely satiated, we left a few hours later singing the places praises.  I think it’s safe to say this place is our new favorite, especially with Tamura’s Wine Shop located just a few blocks away.  Mom, Dad, we MUST go the next time you are in town.

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I stumbled across this recipe today off of a blog called Eat and Be Happy, and decided to post it to try at some point.  Obsessed with all banana related foods, this Banana Streusel Cake is right up my alley.


Banana Streusel Cake [adapted from Flo Braker’s Baking For All Occasions]

2 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp rum
100g unsalted butter, chopped and slightly softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

12 tbsp cake flour
6 tbsp packed light brown sugar
90g unsalted butter, chopped and slightly softened
1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Line an 8″ square pan with foil, grease generously and set aside.
  2. To make streusel Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter in until a mixture forms. Set aside.
  3. To make cake Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt into a bowl and set aside. Combine the mashed bananas, milk and rum together and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and creamy. Add the egg in, followed by the banana mixture, mixing well. Fold the flour mixture in, in two batches, until the mixture just comes together.
  5. Tip the batter out into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter.
  6. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with crumbs clinging. Serves 12

† Original recipe called for 1 cup of caster sugar. The amount of brown sugar I used yield a cake that allowed the sweetness of the bananas to shine through. Add more sugar if you like your cakes sweet.
† Batter will looked curdled after you add the banana mixture. Have faith and keep going.

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My mom came to visit me this past weekend and we had a fun few days full of food (cooking and eating out), gardening, Farmers Market shopping, visiting the Denver Botanical Gardens, and relaxing! Here are some pictures of our weekend!

Pork Tenderloin, Yams, and Potatoes that we made!




Corn Fritters at Tahona


Planting 2010


Cedar Plank Salmon


Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp


Pancake Man!


Veggie Garden at the Denver Botanical Gardens


Thomas Moore Sculpture at the Denver Botanical Gardens


Flowers at the Denver Botanical Gardens


Japanese Gardens at the Denver Botanical Gardens


Thomas Moore Sculpture at the Denver Botanical Gardens


Denver Botanical Gardens


Mommy at the Boulder Farmers Market


Herbs at the Boulder Farmers Market


Flowers at the Boulder Farmers Market


Out to Brunch!

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