Archive for October, 2010

My friend Tanya and I made this dessert for our Cultural Nutrition class project and it was absolutely delicious. The main flavor is coconut and it gives the rice pudding a creamy and luscious flavor that is unlike anything I have ever had before! We topped it with fresh fruit, consisting of mango, kiwi, strawberries, and pineapple. In my opinion, the more fruit the better!

Here is the recipe for this delicious dessert!

Serves 2-4

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 33 minutes


  • 1 cup Thai Sweet Rice (also called “sticky rice”, available at Asian food stores)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1-2 ripe mangos, cut into bite-size pieces (look for mangos that are fragrant and easily bruised), or 1 pkg frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (for a natural sweetener substitute maple syrup)
  • 1 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. + pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. coconut flavoring
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water


  1. Soak the sweet rice in 1 cup water for 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
  2. The sticky rice can be steamed or made in a pot. To make it in a pot, do not drain. Add 3/4 cup (more) water to the rice, plus 1/4 can coconut milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring, and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Stir this into the rice, lifting any rice grains that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Turn the heat down to medium-low (#2.5 to 3 on the dial).
  4. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed by the rice. Remove the pot from the heat, place the lid on tight, and leave to “steam” cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Make sauce and serve the dessert right away, or store the rice (covered) in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
  6. To make the sauce, warm the rest of the can of coconut milk together with 1/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring (optional) and 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring over medium heat (5 minutes).
  7. Add cornstarch (dissolved in the water) to the sauce and stir to thicken it slightly. As it thickens, turn down heat to low. When thickened, remove from heat. Tip: Try not to boil the sauce, or you will lose that wonderful coconut flavor.
  8. Before serving, taste-test the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. If too sweet for your taste, add a little more coconut milk.
  9. There are 2 ways to serve this dessert:
  • Place scoops of the sticky rice in bowls (Note that sticky rice can be served cold, warm, or at room temperature, as desired). Ladle a generous amount of warm coconut sauce over the rice (creating an “island” of sticky rice). Add slices/pieces of ripe fresh mango. (If using frozen mango, be sure to give it enough time to thaw before serving.)
  • For “saucier” rice: Add rice (portion out 1 scoop per person) directly to the sauce pot and stir over low heat, gently breaking apart the larger lumps, but leaving smaller lumps/chunks). Now add the mango pieces and gently stir until everything is warmed through. Portion out into serving bowls, making sure everyone has equal amounts of rice, mango, and sauce. Enjoy!

Zoe’s Notes: This recipe originally just used mango as the fruit part of it. For our class project, we were challenged to make healthy modifications to the recipe, so we added the additional chopped strawberries (1 pint), 2 sliced kiwis, and 1 large can of pineapple chunks. If there are other fruits that you like, I would definitely recommend adding them and please let me know how they taste in the recipe!

Source: About.com

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Just in time for Halloween, here is a super fun recipe for pumpkin cupcakes! I got this recipe via the daily emails that Real Simple sends out and it seemed so quick and easy that I wanted to make them immediately. With only 6 ingredients, you can’t get a much simpler and yummy cupcake recipe!

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 pieces candy corn


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
  2. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Zoe’s Notes: Instead of making the cream cheese frosting, I bought it pre-made… you can do it whichever way you like! I also doubled the pumpkin pie spice since I love that flavor… try it and see what you think!

Source: Real Simple

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Lesson #1: It is critically important to taste test your product before serving it...sometimes this must be done over, and over, and over before being absolutely sure.

Whenever I get together with my friends Tori & Justin for a dinner party, Haley, their adorable two year old, excitedly requests to be my right hand woman in the kitchen; carefully helping to put the finishing touches on whatever dessert

Auntie Carol & Haley showing off their finished product

I’ve made for the evening.  We frost, caramelize, bake, slice, serve – you name it – she even gives me creative suggestions such as to add colored sprinkles to an otherwise dull chocolate cake to jazz it up a bit…I absolutely adore her.

So it should come as no surprise that when asked what Haley wanted to do while at Auntie Erin’s house for our Girls Night (while Justin & Tori attended Wine Down Wednesday at Town), her answer was “bake chocolate chip cookies!”  Done and done.

Last night Haley donned my great grandmothers apron and helped me assemble the spaghetti pie for dinner, and while that was in the oven, a batch of oh-so-delicious chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  I’m not gonna lie, I let her lick the spatula more than a few times during the process, but hey, what are good aunties for if not to spoil the little ones left in our care at least a little bit!  Everything was super yummy and Carol, Haley and I had so much fun together bonding over good food and Toy Story 3 that Haley requested we have Girls Night again very soon…anything for my little baking protege.

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My friend Tori is truly one of my foodie soul mates.  The yin to my yang, she dominates in the savory department while my strength lies in the sweet…I dare say that together we put out quite delicious meals.  So of course, it seemed only fitting that I bring a birthday cake to her 30th birthday celebration this past weekend.

A milestone birthday demanded a special effort, and when Tori suggested I give this coconut rum cake recipe a try it

Cake soaked in coconut milk

seemed like the perfect challenge.  That was until I read the entire paragraph explaining how to extract the meat out of a fresh coconut (there are hammers and screw drivers involved).  No easy task but well worth the effort, I was thisclose to calling around to find me a coconut when it dawned on me that there may be another way….indeed, one quick call to Whole Foods confirmed that they do indeed carry fresh coconut meat in their produce section – yet another plus of living in the tropics!

Although relatively easy, this cake does have quite a few steps and takes a few hours to assemble, so make sure you give yourself enough time.  Its presentation is gorgeous and it was quite good, however it lacked the punch of flavor that I was expecting (and also, to be fair, I am not a huge coconut or rum fan and tremendously critical of my desserts – everyone else seemed to think it was superb).  Post-cake, the consensus seemed to be that making an additional cake and layering a lemon curd or something similar in between the two might just be the solution….I’ll have to give it a try someday and let you know.  Personally I thought the frosting was too rummy (is that possible?) and not thick enough…I’ll most definitely have to play around with the proportions of those ingredients (perhaps more cream cheese and powdered sugar, a little less rum and heavy cream?).

Either way it was a good excuse to try something new and the party was quite the good time as well.  Happy Birthday Tori! xo



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs plus 3 large yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup well-stirred sweetened cream of coconut (I used coconut milk)

Coconut Slivers:

  • 1 medium coconut
  • 2 tsp confectioners sugar


  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp well-stirred sweetened cream of coconut
  • 1 tbsp dark rum (I used Meyers)
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar


Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.  Lightly butter a 9 inch round cake pan, line it with parchment paper on the bottom, and then lightly butter the parchment paper.  Flour lightly and set aside.

Two cakes are ALWAYS better than one! Birthday cake shot & coco rum cake yumm!

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together the whole eggs and yolks, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until combined.  Gradually add in the flour mixture until well combined, and then whisk the butter until just combined.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and rap on the counter several times to expel the air bubbles.  Bake the cake until golden brown and cake starts to pull away from the side of the pan – about 45 minutes (mine only took 40).

Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a rack to cool for 10 minutes (leave the oven on).  Next, invert the cake onto the rack and remove the parchment paper, allowing the cake to cool for another 10 minutes.  While still warm, generously brush the top and sides of the cake with the 3/4 cup coconut milk, allowing it to soak in before brushing more on.  Let the cake cool completely.

Coconut Slivers (if you don’t have fresh coconut meat already prepared for you):  Pierce the softest eye of the coconut shell with a small screwdriver and drain out and discard the liquid (or drink it as it’s quite yummy and good for you!).  Bake the coconut in a shallow baking pan for 15 minutes (leave the oven on).  Break the shell with a hammer and then pry the flesh from the shell with a screwdriver.

Thinly shave (preferable) or slice enough to measure two cups and then toss with the confectioners sugar.  Spread the coconut shavings on a baking sheet in one layer and bake until just dry but not golden (some tips may color), 5 to 10 minutes.  Cool coconut completely (it will crisp as it cools).  Shave and bake remaining coconut with more confectioners sugar to serve on the side, or freeze for another use.

Icing:  Beat together cream cheese, cream of coconut, rum, vanilla, and 2 tbsp cream with an electric mixer until smooth, then beat in confectioners sugar.  Icing should be smooth and slightly runny; stir in remaining tbsp cream if necessary.

Smooth icing over top of cooled cake, allowing some to drip over the side, then top with coconut slivers.

*Notes: Cake can be baked 1 day ahead and soaked with cream of coconut, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.  Cake can be iced 2 hours ahead.  Also, the coconut slivers can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, September 2007

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Quick, easy, aromatic and moist (i.e. amazingly delicious), this cake was a favorite the first time around, just as Nigella promised.  Made with basic ingredients everyone has in their pantry, it’s the perfect go-to dessert when you don’t have much time or can’t make it to the store.  What I love most is the versatility….change it up with different preserves, serve it with fresh fruit, creme fraiche, ice cream…mmmmmmmmm.


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1 1/3 cups good, thin-cut marmalade (or any other flavor jam you like – I used apricot, Nigella recommends raspberry or prune puree)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup self-rising cake flour
  • 8 inch springform pan, buttered and floured


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over a low heat to melt.  When it’s nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate.  Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted.  Now add the marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs.  Stir with your wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated, pour into a mixing bowl and beat in the flour bit by bit.  Put into your prepared pan and and bake for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

You can eat it slightly warm or cold.  To dress it up a bit, dust lightly with confectioners sugar pushed through a super fine strainer.  Serves 6.

*Nigella suggests that if you use prune puree, serve it with creme fraiche to which you’ve added a few crucial drops of Armagnac.  You can also had a slug to the cake, or just pour a little over as soon as you unmold it.

This recipe is out of ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson and you can buy it on amazon HERE.

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Sunset reflecting off the mountains behind Ma'o Farms in Waianae ... where we were also lucky enough to share in a potluck dinner at a Hawaii Farmers Union meeting ... my goodness the food was good!

All-local cooking competition hosted by Whole Foods

Exhausted after what seems like three straight weeks of pure madness (a friends wedding on the Big Island, Eat Local Week, work, work and work), I crawled into bed last night and couldn’t help but think about what fellow Eat Local campaign committee members’ James and Alani had said at our wrap up meeting just hours earlier; so few people in this world will ever have the opportunity to follow their passions and, on a small or a large scale, to be a part of something truly meaningful in their lives.  It seems to me that giving of ones self, ones time, is often seen as simply that; giving.  Being a part of this campaign was a good reminder that it’s much bigger than that – because so much is also received in return – ultimately, the process and the experience is a tremendous gift to everyone involved.

I have been deeply blessed to have been a volunteer for Kanu Hawaii over

Superstar kid chef Duke Kenney doing an all-local food demo at Kokua Hawaii's Eat Local Kick-Off Event

the past few years, most especially during the last few months as one of the volunteer chairs for their second annual Eat Local campaign.  It’s no secret that since the close of last years Eat Local week, the crazy foodie in me has been pining for a position on the committee (and a seat at all of our restaurant partners’ tables) – which ended up bringing life to the phrase “be careful what you wish for,” in a way I never thought possible – and only in a good way I might add.  In light of this, I am embarrassed to say (but will honestly admit) that I was less than diligent about eating 100% local during the week of the challenge.  I have no mouth watering all-local recipes to share or reviews of all-local meals prepared by others; nor do I have any really good excuses for why this is the case.  What I can share is a unique perspective from the inside of this campaign looking out, which I can only hope will be somewhat interesting and valuable on some level.

We started our planning over decadent dinner parties (which quickly had to be abandoned because there was more eating and chatting than actual work happening), during which we laid down plans for what was going to be one of Kanu’s biggest campaigns to date.  Over the next few months our team of volunteers reached out to and worked closely with people, organizations and businesses within and surrounding the food industry here in Hawaii, building a web of support and a pub of information intended to create awareness of and support for food sustainability here in Hawaii.

A double rainbow over Island School on Kauai where we screened the film 'Ingredients'

Our intention was, over the course of a week, to tell the story of harvest to table – to bring light to the issues and topics that surround the concept and the vital importance of food sustainability: land, water, economics, labor, energy, agriculture, vendors, restaurants, organic vs. non organic etc. etc.  No easy task and with many moving parts, Eat Local week was jammed packed with so many wonderful events, opportunities, stimulating information and conversations, and of course, amazingly delicious food – so much so that you would have needed at least a month (and a diligent exercise plan) just to take advantage of it all.

Call it fate, serendipity, or just plain coincidence, what was most inspiring (and honestly somewhat surprising) to me was that everyone we reached out to as potential partners of the campaign was already on the same page and of the mindset that creating a healthy and sustainable food system in Hawaii is of the utmost importance, and that it is going to take our collective effort to achieve it.  A trendy movement no doubt, to have everyone from the usual suspects like farmers and Whole Foods to the not so obvious such as Zippy’s echo the same sentiments about not only their short but also their long term plans, investments and priorities in regards to Hawaii’s food industry, gave me the distinct sense that although we have a long way to go, there is most certainly a light at the end of the tunnel.

Friend and fellow Kanu member Brandon Hayashi said it very poignantly following a particularly fascinating panel

The local kim chee burger from restaurant partner 'Umeke Market - so yum!

discussion mid-way through Eat Local week; “Once you have your eyes open it’s hard to close them.”  It is my hope that if we achieved one thing during Eat Local week, that we opened people’s eyes – because without knowing what’s out there, who you’re walking alongside, and where you’re going, getting there is almost an impossible task.

I know this has been the case for me personally, because as much as I have always shopped at the farmers markets and have fun tromping around in the mud at Ma’o farms during their GIVE days, I was completely unaware of the depth to which the simple phrase ‘Eat Local’ really runs.  It is now with a new-found curiosity and profound respect for the entire spectrum that is Hawaii’s food industry that I will strive to take action and responsibility for my personal kuleana of it all.  We were at a Hawaii Farmers Union meeting at Ma’o Farms and during our tour we were shown a structure of meticulously stacked rocks from the fields of the farm.  Our guide explained that it was traditional to have such a structure (the name for it escapes me, forgive me), a place to come throughout the day and say thank you, offer a prayer, to refocus on what’s important.  For me this place is my kitchen, and so I will start there.  Because there is no greater joy or satisfaction for me than preparing a meal and sharing it with the amazing people in my life; and doing so with the added intention of an outcome beyond a satisfied belly makes it that much sweeter.

My gratitude for all of the people I worked so closely with and the experience of being a part of this campaign is bigger and extends further than words can possibly express.  Mahalo for everything – it has been a truly meaningful experience, and for that I am incredibly fortunate.

To learn more about Kanu Hawaii, to get involved and to see the entire scope of the Eat Local 2010 Challenge go to www.kanuhawaii.org

Wrapping up Eat Local Week at Kokua Hawaii's 'Aina in Schools garden party at Kainalu Elementary where we helped build three raised bed gardens

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I’ve eaten a staggering amount of kale this summer and am constantly finding endless ways to prepare it.  Here’s the latest from Mom/Auntie Joan…

Wash and dry a bunch of kale leaves and remove stems and spines (I use my kitchen shears). Slice the kale. In a frying pan, saute half a sliced onion and a crushed clove of garlic in olive oil.  Add the kale and continue to stir fry for a few minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, put a lid on the pan, turn down the heat and let steam for a few minutes.  It’s the perfect side dish for almost everything.  Enjoy!

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