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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