Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Caribbean Sundae--Royal Foodie Joust Entry for January


It's the end of December and why am I posting about sundaes and ice cream?  Well first off it's in the 80's here today (don't hate me) but more importantly, January's Royal Foodie Joust is all about the Caribbean.  In honor of the newly published cookbook by Cynthia, of Tastes Like Home, My Caribbean Cookbook, we are taking a break from the regular RFJ to do a special island theme.  The three ingredients this month are bananas, rice and coconuts (or coconut milk).  I came up with a Caribbean Sundae because what would be better after a day spent lounging on a Caribbean beach?  The sundae features a yummy (and dairy-free!) ice cream made from bananascoconut milk and rice milk, and kicked up with a touch of rum and vanilla.  A sundae isn't a sundae without some toppings so we have a delicious topping of sliced broiled bananas and for a bit of mouth-pleasing crunch, a (gluten-free!) granola-style sprinkling of puffed rice, coconut flakes, and peanuts, bathed in some brown rice syrup.  It is delicious enough that you won't miss the dairy or the wheat!  So if you are freezing right now, turn up your heat and put on some Calypso music or some Bob Marley and journey with me to the lush Caribbean.  

Caribbean Sundae

Banana-Rum Rice-Coconut Milk Ice Cream
About 1 1/2 cups ripe bananas 
1 can Coconut Milk
1 cup rice milk
1 tsp vanilla or insides of 1 vanilla bean,
1 shot (1 oz) of Captain Morgan's Dark Rum
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Place in ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.  (About 30 minutes usually). Scoop into container and place in freezer until firm.  


Caribbean "Granola" Topping
1 cup puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Mix ingredients together, place on greased pan and bake at 300 for about 20-25  minutes, turning once, until toasted golden brown.  Let cool and break up into small pieces for garnish.

Broiled Bananas
2 medium to large bananas
2 Tbsp  sugar

Slice bananas in 1/2, sprinkle with sugar and cook under the broiler until sugar bubbles and turns brown.  Serve warm.

Assembling the sundae: place some of the granola topping in the bowl, lay warm banana slices on it and top with ice cream and more topping.  Serve immediately. 


Notes/Results:  The ice cream is surprisingly creamy and delicious even without the cream. The banana flavor comes through along with a nice island touch of rum.  You could leave out the rum or use an extract if you prefer and still have good flavor but we are on vacation in the Caribbean so why would you?!  The sweet/salty crunch of the granola and the soft creamy broiled bananas add some great texture contrast. I am really happy with the way this turned out and would make it again.


You can check out the other entries here and if you are a Foodie Blogroll Member you can vote for your favorite entry between the January 1st and 5th.  The winner wins a copy of the cookbook.   Thanks to Cynthia for donating the book and the Leftover Queen and team for another fun challenge!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuna with Sesame Soy & Smoked Salmon Rolls for Weekend Cookbook Challenge #35: Appetizers

I realized I haven't done a Weekend Cookbook Challenge since July. I'm not sure how that happened but when I saw that this month's theme was Appetizers, I decided it would be a good time to jump back in.  I love trying new appetizer recipes and adding to my "pupu repertoire".  I like appetizers that are easy, both look and taste great and any time I can work ahi or salmon in I do. (Both for the taste and how it looks on my blue and white dishes!) For this challenge, I have two simple but delicious appetizers, Tuna with Sesame Soy & Smoked Salmon Rolls from Very Simple Food by Jill Dupleix.  Jill is a chef from Australia, currently in London and I have several of her cookbooks. I like her easy, relaxed style of cooking. 


Tuna with Sesame Soy
Very Simple Food, Jill Dupleix
Serves 4

Jill says:  "Really fresh tuna has a pure, sweet flavor and melt in the mouth texture.  This no-cook, no-fuss first course makes the most of tuna by teaming it with soy sauce, sesame oil & mirin (sweet rice wine), available from Japanese food stores & helpful supermarkets."

12 oz fresh sashimi-quality tuna
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup watercress leaves
1 Tbsp minced chives

Trim the tuna of all bloodlines and cut into a neat shape to enable you to cut it into small dice, around 1/2 inch.  Discard any obvious sinews or icky bits. Whisk the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and mustard together in a bowl.  Add the tuna and toss lightly to coast in the dressing.  Mix the rice vinegar and olive oil with sea salt and pepper in a second bowl. Add the watercress and toss in the dressing, then arrange on four serving plates.  Place the tuna in little pyramids on top of the leaves, and scatter with the chives.  Serve with chopsticks.


Smoked Salmon Rolls
Very Simple Food, Jill Dupleix
Makes 8

Jill says:  "These glamorous rolls fulfill my three main criteria for easy entertaining: they take only minutes to make; they can be done ahead of time; and they look like a million dollars. Serve as a sit down first course or with drinks."

2 Tbsp hot horseradish sauce
2 cups mascarpone or creme fraiche
2 Tbsp minced chives plus extra to serve
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon

Beat 1 Tbsp horseradish into the mascarpone or creme fraiche. Gradually add the rest to taste, until the mixture is hot enough for you.  Add the chives, sea salt, and pepper and fold them through the cream.  (You can make this beforehand and refrigerate it.)  Trim the smoked salmon into 8 strips, each 2 x 6 inches.  Place a spoonful of the horseradish cream on one end of each strip and roll up.  It doesn't matter if the edges are a bit ragged.  Sit each smoked salmon roll on its end, and scatter extra chives on the exposed cream at the top. (You can even do this an hour or two beforehand and refrigerate until required).  Serve one or two salmon rolls per person.


Notes/Results:  As promised by Jill, two easy and delicious pupus.  I changed a couple of things of course.  For the tuna, I plated it with my metal ring onto one dish and added some toasted sesame seeds to the top as garnish.  I liked all of the flavors in the dish, the peppery arugula was great with the ahi and the sauce was very good, as was the dressing for the arugula.  I would probably add some chili or chili oil next time for a bit of spice.  For the smoked salmon rolls, I decided to drain some low-fat Greek yogurt (to make a cream cheese textured yogurt cheese that would be a bit healthier than the mascarpone or creme fraiche). I was sure I had horseradish but I guess that was before I had the great fridge meltdown a couple months ago.  Instead of running to the store for some, I substituted some wasabi powder and mixed it in for a similar kick and more of an Asian flair to the dish.  The wasabi was delicious but I will try it again with the horseradish to compare.  Also the smoked salmon I had in my freezer is already sliced but cut a bit thick. It is delicious but I would try using a thinner salmon next time so the rolls hold together a little better. I would make both of these recipes again.  


This month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge is being hosted by it's creator, Sara at i like to cook and you'll find the round up and I am sure some great appetizer recipes, there, on her site soon.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart

Normally I wouldn't post or even make a 4-part recipe because of my basic laziness and lack of patience, but this one for a Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart was so good I thought I should share.  This recipe comes from the Cacao Crazy class, my usual partner in crime, Michelle from The Accidental Scientist, and I took through Kapiolani Community College's culinary program a couple weeks ago. The funny thing was, for some reason both Michelle and I thought we were going to taste and learn about chocolate in this class, not cook with it, but cook we did.  Along with this recipe we also made a Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding stuffed in a Kabocha pumpkin and tried some spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate.  The class was given by Chef and Chocolatier, Melanie Boudar, who recently opened a chocolate store in Kailua: Sweet Paradise Chocolatier.  (I just may need to have a field trip over there to sample soon).  


Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart
Melanie Boudar, Sweet Paradise Chocolatier
Serves 6

Sweet Pastry
3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp almond flour (or substitute any nut flour)
2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
pinch salt
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and sliced
1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 Tbsp ice water (may not use all--don't get dough too moist)

Mix the flour, almond flour, confectioner's sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse the butter into the flour mixture.  Gradually add egg until dough is moist but not too moist.  Gather into ball and flatten on plastic wrap, chill for 2-12 hours.


Roll dough onto lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness and line a 9" tart pan with removable bottom.  


Prick with fork and refrigerate 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place tart on baking sheet.  Line with parchment and weight with pie weights, rocks or beans.  Bake 10-12 minutes until dough is set.  Lift off paper and set aside.  Bake until golden brown, about 12 more minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  

Salted Caramel Cream
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1 Tbsp water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/8 tsp sea salt (Fluer de Sel)

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a custard cup and let stand 5 minutes. Bring the cream to a boil and set aside. Put the sugar in a separate, tall saucepan without any liquid and cook over high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until melted and dark caramel in color.  


Carefully whisk in the hot cream (it will boil up) and cook until caramel is dissolved.  Whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk in the caramel mixture, tempering the eggs slowly first with some of the caramel).  Return to the saucepan and add the soaked gelatin. Stir over low heat until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 4-5 minutes).  Remove from the heat and stir in butter and sea salt.  Strain through a wire sieve into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it begins to set. Spread in baked pastry shell and refrigerate until fully set.



Dark Chocolate Whipped Cream
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled until tepid

Whip the cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Whisk 1/3 into the tepid chocolate until smooth.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Nut Brittle 
1/2 cup sugar
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter sliced thin
3/4 cup toasted, peeled nuts coarsely chopped  (almonds, peanuts, mac nuts, etc.)
pinch salt

Lightly oil a metal spatula and rimmed baking sheet on a heatproof surface. Cook sugar and butter in saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer read 310 degrees F., about 10 minutes.  Add the nuts and salt and swirl in pan to mix.  Pour onto baking sheet and spread thinly with spatula.  Cool completely and break into pieces.

To assemble tart:
Spread Salted Caramel Creme evenly in baked pastry shell.  Cover evenly with a layer of Dark Chocolate Whipped Cream and garnish by dotting the surface of the tart with small shards of Nut Brittle.  You can also drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top before serving.


Notes/Results:  As usual, Michelle was the perfect cooking partner. She willingly took on the shell, I did the salted caramel cream (which was easier and less scary than I thought it would be) and we assembled our tart together. The instructor and her helpers demonstrated the whipped cream and the nut brittle and made enough for all of us to use.  We each ended up with half a tart to take home.  I garnished mine with some drizzled melted dark chocolate on top.  Delicious!  It met my sweet salty needs perfectly. I think I would have been just as happy without the whipped cream but it was tasty and added a nice fluffy texture and more chocolate flavor to the tart.  I  think even being NOT A BAKER!, I would maybe buy a tart pan and attempt this at home sometime.  


Sweet Paradise Chocolatier
20-A Kainehe St.
Kailua. HI
808-640-5749
Wed-Sat 11-6

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hungarian Mushroom Soup for Souper Sundays

Many moons ago, when I lived in Portland, my roommate and I would go to Old Wives' Tales, a casual, funky, reasonably priced restaurant with a huge variety of options.  They have many vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. menu items and list out the ingredients so you know exactly what is in them. We went often to have their salad and soup bar for lunch, dinner and take out but we went mostly for their Hungarian Mushroom Soup, an impossibly pink and delicious blend of mushrooms and sour cream.  It wasn't a low-fat soup but it was so good that we treated ourselves often and it is so popular that it is always on their soup bar.  The other day I was thinking about it and started looking for a recipe on the web.  I found one from the restaurant itself on The Food Network (that makes enough for an actual restaurant to serve!) and also learned that the Old Wives' Tales soup recipe is based on the one from the Moosewood Cafe Cookbook. I ended up going with the Food Network recipe (drastically cutting it down of course).


Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Food Network, Courtesy of Old Wives' Tales
(16-20 servings)

1 pound butter
6 cups yellow onion
10 pounds mushrooms, chopped
1 cup dill
1 cup paprika
2 cups tamari
2 gallons water
2 pounds butter
6 cups flour
1 gallon milk
1.75 gallons sour cream
1 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons pepper

Melt butter. Add onions, and saute until wilted. Add mushrooms, saute until juice is rendered out.  Add dill, paprika, and mix well.  Add tamari, water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  In a large stockpot, make roux using butter and flour, cook 10 minutes. Drain some water from soup and beat into roux in stockpot until smooth. IMPORTANT- you will get flour lumps if you try to skip this step!  Add water-smoothed roux to kettle. Add milk and simmer until it thickens again, coating back of spoon. Turn off heat, beat in sour cream until well blended, then beat in salt and pepper.



Notes/Results:  I cut this down to make 4-5 servings and used a low-fat sour cream, a lesser amount than the reduced recipe called for and also used 2% milk.  The flavor of the soup was delicious and very similar to what I remembered. I wasn't able to get it the really "pink" color that the one from Old Wives' Tales was, even adding a bit more paprika but it was still very good. The Moosewood recipe is slightly different so I am going to try that one at some point to compare. Even cutting down the fat in the milk and sour cream and using less sour cream in the recipe, it is not something I would make all the time but if you love mushrooms, creamy soups and of course paprika you will love this soup too.  


My usual partner in crime, Natashya, from Living In the Kitchen With Puppies, brought along a delicious Turkey Pot Pie with Onion-Sage Dressing to share.  Using up the last of her Christmas turkey, this pot pie looks like a great way to get a little holiday comfort.  Thanks for dropping by and sharing another great recipe Natashya!


If you want to join in on a Souper Sunday, sharing a soup, stew, chili or any comfort food creation, leave a comment or send me an email by Sunday and I'll add you to that week's round up.  

Friday, December 26, 2008

Coconut Bread with Sweet Pineapple Butter for Tyler Florence Fridays

My pick this week for Tyler Florence Fridays (TFF), Coconut Bread with Sweet Pineapple Butter, comes from Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen, which is the first of his five cookbooks.  I was attracted to this recipe because I love anything coconut and it's always nice to have some tropical-inspired breakfast and snack recipes in my repertoire when people come to visit. 


Tyler says: "If you're ever in Sydney, Australia, there is a breakfast place in Darlinghurst called bills. The name is simple, and the place serves simply some of the best food I've ever had. When you order coffee, the waiter brings out small plates of warm toasted coconut bread freshly dusted with powered sugar. After one bite, my girlfriend and I decided to go back for breakfast every morning for the rest of our trip. This bread really holds up if you wrap it in plastic or put it in a storage container. You’ll still be snacking on it days later."

Coconut Bread with Sweet Pineapple Butter
Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen

Coconut Bread:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of I lemon, finely grated
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut, toasted (see Note)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Sweet Pineapple Butter:
1(8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In another large bowl, whisk together the melted butter with the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Pour in the coconut milk and whisk together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold everything together with a spatula until you have a smooth batter. Gently fold in the shredded coconut until evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and set it on a cookie sheet, Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning. Cool the bread in the pan for 20 minutes or so; then when cool enough to handle, remove the coconut bread to a cutting board and let it cool completely before slicing.

Press the liquid out of the crushed pineapple using the back of a spoon. (If there is too much juice, the fruit will separate from the butter.) In a small bowl, mash the pineapple with the softened butter until well blended. A food processor is a quick alternative to making the compound butter, so use it if you have one, Mound the butter in a small serving bowl. Toast the slices of coconut bread. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with the creamy pineapple butter.

Note: To toast the coconut: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring it periodically Toasting will fluff up the coconut and increase its volume (as well as make it taste better).


Notes/Results:  Being NOT A BAKER!, I took my bread out of the oven right at an hour and still managed to get it a bit too brown, but otherwise, I really liked this recipe.  The coconut flavor is excellent and the bread stayed moist, even though I over-baked it. The toasted, warm bread with the pineapple butter is delicious. I would make this recipe again and the pineapple butter would also be great on scones or muffins.


Do you love Tyler as much as we do? If so, consider joining us for Tyler Florence Fridays (TFF). You have the flexibility to choose which Tyler recipe you want to make each week, based on your needs. You can get the details at the TFF site here and also check out the weekly round up to see what the other TFF bloggers made this week and get their expert feedback on their picks.

Feeling soupy? (or noodle-y, or stew-y) and want to drop by and share your comforting creation? Join me for Souper Sundays! All you need to do is make a soup, stew, chili, slow cooker dish, etc. (Really almost anything that is served in a bowl will work!) Send me an email or leave a comment before Sunday and let me know you'll be stopping by and I'll add you to that week's round up so you can share your souper creation. You can make and post the soup any time, I just round them up on Sundays.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pappa Al Pomidoro--Barefoot Bloggers


Well the best laid plans... I am not writing this post from Portland, hanging out with my family as anticipated but instead from Hawaii. Bronchitis and inclement weather morphed into a sinus infection and inclement weather and I am stuck at home, sick for the holidays.  I guess there are worse things--I am not freezing, trapped at an airport or bus station and can go to the beach when I feel better but it doesn't really feel like Christmas right now.  I have become Max's favorite napping companion these past few days and have been getting lots of sympathy snuggles (of course a 15 pound cat on your chest doesn't exactly help with the breathing, not to mention his little drool problem but it's done with love), so life is not all bad.  


It also helps to have a warm, comforting bowl of really good soup. Ina's Pappa Al Pomidoro, selected by Natalie of Burned Bits, is definitely that, REALLY good soup...I mean REALLY, REALLY good. The kind of soup that warms you up, fills your tummy and your soul and makes you crave more, especially with the topping of ciabatta cubes, basil leaves and pancetta, all crisp and toasted. The smell alone is incredible--I may just make a pan of the topping every day.  I am not normally a tomato soup fan, but this one is so complex and flavorful and the bread really adds a nice, hearty texture. This may actually be one of my very favorite Ina recipes so far.   


Pappa Al Pomidoro
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Ina Garten

1/2 cup good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
For the topping:
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.



For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine. Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.


Notes/Results:  This makes a lot of soup--Ina says it serves 6 and as usual, they would be "ginormous" servings.  I made a half batch, which was at least six, decent-sized servings, but I ate it all the past few days and actually wish I had more. Don't omit the topping--if you don't do meat, still bake the basil and ciabatta cubes and then grate some Parmesan over it when you serve.  This soup is delicious and I will make it again. Thanks Natalie for a great recipe pick!  Since it's Christmas, the Barefoot Bloggers have until 12/31 to post this recipe and you can check out their results here.


This may not be the most fun or festive Christmas I have ever spent but I am grateful for family and good friends worrying about me and checking on me and I'll make it back "home" soon.  Here is to a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year for everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baked Salmon in a Saffron-Tomato Broth for Souper Sunday

It's Souper Sunday time and following my own guidelines of being able to make soups, stews, chilis and any soup-like creation, I decided to do a Baked Salmon in a Saffron-Tomato Broth. I just made a batch of soup this week for next week's Barefoot Bloggers post and I am still trying to get to Portland tomorrow for the holidays (I'll keep you posted as it isn't looking pretty right now), so I wanted to make something smaller and more manageable and this seemed like it would fit the bill.  The original recipes comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, by Ruta Kahate.  I have adapted this recipe before (see here) and since I love saffron, had some salmon in the freezer and some leftover fennel fronds. I thought the combination would be good.


Baked Salmon in a Saffron-Tomato Broth

adapted from the recipe Baked Fish in a Spice Broth, 
5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate

2 (5-6 oz) salmon fillets, at least 1" thick
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2  Tbsp olive oil
2 large shallots, finely minced 
1/4 tsp finely minced garlic (about 1 clove)
1/4 cayenne pepper
1 pinch saffron
1 cup water or broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium Roma tomato, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
fennel fronds for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
In a small skillet. toast the fennel seeds over low heat until browned and fragrant. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the shallots, and stir until they turn golden. Add the garlic and cayenne and stir constantly over medium heat heat for another 30 seconds, taking care that the mixture doesn't burn. Meanwhile place a pinch of saffron into a mixing cup and add 1 cup hot water or broth (or place saffron and liquid into microwave and heat), stir thoroughly.  Add the saffron broth and salt to shallot mixture and bring to a boil.


Place the fish pieces in a casserole large enough to hold them in a single layer, and sprinkle the tomatoes evenly over the top. Pour the spicy broth on top and bake until the fish is cooked through but not over done, about 13-15 minutes. You can use a fork to test one of the pieces of fish discreetly; if it flakes easily, it is time to remove the fish from the oven. Serve sprinkled with the fennel fronds over rice or cous cous
Serves 2


Notes/Results:  Exotic, slightly spicy, I really liked this dish and love the beautiful color too. I love the slight anise/licorice flavor that the fennel seeds and fronds add, combined with the savory pungency of the saffron and the kick from the cayenne. I served it over some Israeli cous cous, as the thicker texture is more pasta like, and ate it with a spoon. Even if you aren't a fan of fennel and saffron, the beauty of this recipe is that you can change out the spices any way you like; curry, cardamon, cumin, etc.  It's  quick and easy and fits the need for a soupy comfort food.


It's that busy holiday time and the Souper Sunday kitchen is pretty quiet today, but guess who popped in, all bundled up from the cold? Of course, it is my friend Natashya from Living In the Kitchen With Puppies.  I can always count on Natashya to come by with a gorgeous soup and this this week is no exception with her beautiful and exotic Carrot Soup with Harissa. Being such a spicy girl herself, Natashya doubled the spices in her soup for delicious results. It looks like the perfect, warming dinner for this time of year.  


Thanks Natashya for coming to another Souper Sunday!  If you want to join us sometime and share your soup, stew, chili or any soup-like creation, leave a comment or shoot me an email and I'll add you to the next round up.

I hope everyone is enjoying the season, staying warm (or cool depending on where you are in the world) and getting to spend time with family and/or friends.  Have a great week!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Foodie Field Trip--Upcountry Maui

I should probably be posting about Christmas, or cookies or other holiday fare but instead of a recipe today, I bring you a recap of a recent day on Maui spent when my friend Yoko visited.  People always ask me what is my favorite Hawaiian Island, which is hard to answer because I like different things about each island.  Probably one of my favorite places on any of the islands is upcountry Maui, where cooler temperatures, rolling hills and cute little towns, shops and galleries abound.  My friend Natalie and I try to go over at least once a year for a day trip of shopping, eating, touring, eating, shopping and some more eating.  Since Yoko had only visited the Big Island and Oahu, it seemed like the perfect plan to take her for a visit.  There is enough to see and do there that a couple of days is really nice and there are some cute bed and breakfasts, but Nat and I have it down to a fine art and can get a lot done in a long day.

After arriving in Maui at about 8:00 in the morning, we got our rental car and headed out to get some breakfast in Pa'ia but had to make an unplanned stop when we passed by Krispy Kreme. Maui has the only Krispy Kreme in Hawaii and when the fresh donut sign is on you really do have to stop.  Watching those crisp, freshly made donuts fall off onto the conveyor belt,


and get drenched with glaze, 


and then biting into the hot, fresh, crisp yet melty treat is heaven.  


When the Krispy Kreme opened a few years ago, people brought boxes and boxes of them back to Oahu and the overhead bins were jammed with the boxes.  (On our flight home a golf-playing foursome of men each had a box or two with them on our flight).  We told Yoko that the donuts were our "amuse-bouche" before breakfast.

Slightly out of the way on our drive to Pa'ia, we detoured to Old Wailuku, Maui's county seat and a cute little old-style town and drove up to the 'Iao Valley. ('Iao means "cloud supreme" and is pronounced "ee-ow").  It is a lush, tropical valley, beautiful and home of the 'Iao Needle, a chunk of lava peak, rising up about 1.200 feet from the floor of the valley.  


Since it was a pretty gray sky day and we had much to do, we didn't take time for the trail walk up to the viewpoint but took a few pictures, enjoyed the scenery and continued on our journey. On the way back, we were seduced by some roadside coffee and lilikoi (passion fruit) trees and stopped and took some pictures and "borrowed" a few coffee beans and a couple lilikoi


My apologies to the unknown owners but we couldn't resist.  If you have never sucked the fruit around a fresh coffee "cherry" and get a chance to, I highly encourage it!  I kept my beans and will try to grow a little coffee plant. I grew one once in Seattle but it didn't make the move to Hawaii with me.


Next stop, Pa'ia, a historic little plantation town that owes it start to the sugarcane plantations.  It's cute wooden buildings now house little shops, galleries and great places to eat. We stopped first at Anthony's Coffee Shop, a great little coffee roaster and retailer and place to get a little breakfast or nosh. Nat ended up with a cappuccino and a toasted bagel, Yoko a cup of their coffee and a mango scone, and I had some delicious "Snow Monkey Plum" tea and a bagel with lox.


And then we were ready to shop, visiting some of our favorite boutiques (Biasa Rose, Holiday and Co., Lilikoi Beauty, Nuage Bleu). They find it funny that we come to Maui to shop when people go from the neighbor islands to Oahu normally to do their shopping.  But they have many more original items that we want and don't see on Oahu and Oahu has the malls and bigger brand name selections that are not on other islands.  I bought a few things.  My favorite being these TOM's shoes, comfortable as slippers, patterned with one of my favorite quotes; "Be the change you wish to see in the world"  by Mahatma Gandhi, and best of all, when you buy a pair the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need.  (Way to make me feeling good about shopping!)  


I also bought some of my favorite stretchy hair bands,& pony-tail wraps, and some cute patterned fold- up shopping bags for gifts, and a few other little "gifty" things that aren't pictured.


Since it had been almost a year since Nat and I were last in Pa'ia, a few new places had opened, the most exciting being Ono Gelato Company, with fresh, beautiful, organic gelato.


We stopped in to check it out and the cases piled with fluffy, creamy gelato were impossible to resist. The pictures just don't do it justice.  


The great thing about this place is that in addition to your normal gelato flavors, they use a lot of local fruits and Hawaiian flavors in their gelatos and it is delicious.  We split two small combo cups between the 3 of us--Yoko chose the Lilikoi and the Apple Banana--both delicious and made with local fruit.  I chose the Lilikoi-Goat's Milk Quark and the Sea Mist. The lilikoi-quark, combines local passion fruit with a goat's milk quark, a kind of curd cheese (see explanation here) from a local dairy/cheese maker.  Sounds strange, but the sweet tang of the lilikoi combined with the rich, creamy, slightly tangy goat's milk quark was incredible. The sea mist features the Sea Mist tea they sell, lemongrass and lime and was also delicious. I ended up buying some of the Sea Mist tea and a couple other teas and may try to make some ice cream or gelato at home with it.  


We chatted with one of the owners, Stefano, who is a third-generation gelato maker and he and the other owners had a European style bakery in Vancouver before moving to Maui.  As good as their product is, I think my waistline is lucky they are a plane ride away on Maui!

Leaving Pa'ia, our next stop was Makawao, a paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town a few miles from Pa'ia.  This used to one of our favorite shopping spots with fun boutiques and shops, but lately it has changed from "Maka-WOW!" to only "Maka-OK", as we just haven't been finding things there the last few times we have visited.  Nothing purchased or consumed here and no pictures taken, so we headed up country to Kula to visit the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm and the Maui's Winery.  

We had our only low moment of the day on the way up to Kula. Stopped for a least a minute, in a line of cars at a stoplight, and suddenly "BAM!", a young girl in a 4Runner, slammed into the back of our rental car.  Luckily no one was hurt, except our car and its license plate but the hour+ that it took to wait for the police, get the report filed, etc. cut our time down. The girl said she "only looked away for a second and didn't realize we stopped!" Hmm...


So now, on double-time, we headed to one of our favorite stops the Ali'i Kula Lavendar Farm. Located at 4000 feet elevation on the slopes of Maui's Haleakala Crater, it is cool (sometimes cold) and gorgeous and as the owner, Ali'i Chang, discovered, it's the perfect place to grow lavender. They have over 10 hillside acres with 45 different types of lavender growing there.  


There are incredible views, (Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy, gray and drizzly when we were there) of the island, all the way to the ocean.  


It has been so exciting to see this company grow over the past few years.  They do a wonderful job of developing and collaborating with other local businesses to create wonderful lavender based products. Soaps, lotions, cooking products, even chocolate.  We didn't have time to take a tour this time but we made a little time to visit the gift shop and eat a lavender scone with lavender jam and tea (I tried the Lavender Earl Grey and my companions had the Lavender Herbal Tea) and relax and enjoy the scenery for a few minutes before heading off for a quick wine tasting.


I just grabbed a couple things there as I was pretty stocked up already--some lavender sugar, lavender poha (a tart Maui berry) jam and a lavender brownie.  


We had been eating little meals all day but were still a bit hungry but being a hour behind and feeling like we needed to get to the rental car return early to deal with any accident issues, we stopped on the way to the winery and grabbed a couple sandwiches to share at Grandma's Coffee House, thinking we would eat them on the grounds.  I forgot to get pictures but Grandma's is a great little place, they roast coffee there too.

Apparently they are calling Tedeschi Vineyards, "Maui's Winery" now, (maybe so people relate it to Maui more?)  In up county's Upupalakua Ranch, it is a beautiful property at about 2,000 feet elevation. Again, beautiful views, all though pouring rain when we got there, (so no pictures again!) and most importantly, a tasting room with four free pours!  Maui wine is not going to be the best wine ever but their fruity white, Maui Blanc and Maui Splash are nice, crisp, fruity wines that would be perfect for a warm afternoon or evening on the lanai. Their Framboise de Maui Raspberry Wine, their first specialty wine, was delicious as well.  I wish I had bought a bottle but should be able to find it on Oahu somewhere.  Yoko bought some wine to take back to France and I bought some vanilla beans and some locally made Thai-Basil salt (I am a sucker for salts!) in the tasting room gift shop.  


The rain finally stopped and we ate our sandwiches on a table under a tree where we fed some little birds our crusts.  (My one and only picture from the winery!)


Alas, it was getting close to 5:00, and we needed to get back to the airport, return our scrunched car and make our 6:45 flight so we had to leave.  We would have liked a little more time to enjoy tour last two stops and maybe spend some time at the Surfing Goat Dairy to taste and buy goat cheese, but we had a full and very fun foodie day on Maui.  Yoko enjoyed her first visit and it was fun for Natalie and I to experience it through new eyes.  I think that is what I enjoy most about having visitors, it causes you to re-expereince things in your own backyard as well as try new things.  Thanks to Nat (our excellent driver!) and Yoko for a fun foodie day! 

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Feeling soupy? (or noodle-y, or stew-y) and want to drop by and share your comforting creation? Join me for Souper Sundays! All you need to do is make a soup, stew, chili, slow cooker dish, etc. (Really almost anything that is served in a bowl will work!) Send me an email or leave a comment before Sunday and let me know you'll be stopping by and I'll add you to that week's round up so you can share your souper creation. You can make and post the soup any time, I just round them up on Sundays.