Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Week of Eating Local--Eat Local Challenge: Day 4--Featuring "Guess That Produce Item"

Here's my Day 4 recap for the Eat Local Challenge I am taking part in this week. Yesterday was a challenging day since I was out and about at meetings and things most of the day. This causes me to grab lunch from my neighborhood natural foods store, Kale's Natural Foods. They are participating in the Eat Local Challenge in their deli but not as rigidly as I was trying to. All of the vegetables in the stir-fry I purchased were local but the rice and seasonings were not. Oh well! A girl can only do her best.

Breakfast: On the go--two small apple bananas and a hard-boiled local egg. No time for photos!

Lunch: The above purchased stir-fry with beet greens, bok choy and other assorted Asian greens. I ended up bringing it home and eating half of it with some of my leftover Thai-spiced Maui ground beef from yesterday's lettuce wraps on top. Very filling.

Pupus: I did a demo at Whole Foods, cooking two all-local dishes. I made a version of yesterday's Thai lettuce wraps--done pupu-style on mini lettuce leaves and grilled Maui pineapple drizzled with Waialua Extra-Dark 70% Cacao. Both went over really well. Unfortunately I got busy cooking and answering uestions and the samples went really fast so no photos but I did manage to snag one of each to try. If you haven't ever grilled slices of pineapple and drizzled it with dark chocolate, i insist you do so ASAP. It is ono! (delicious)

Dinner: I bought some local fish--Opakapaka, which is Hawaiian pink snapper, at Whole Foods and just cooked in in the pan with a little macadamia nut oil, sea salt, and a squeeze of local lemon. Served on top of salad greens with tomatoes and cucumber it was perfect. The fish was moist and so flavorful. Opakapaka is considered to be a ocean-friendly, more sustainable seafood choice, and although a bit more expensive than some of the other fish in the case--well worth it.

Dessert: a Pots Au Chocolat (see yesterday's post).

Notes/Results: Another delicious day of eating. Though it was nice to not cook lunch and to pick up a mostly local dish from a participating business, it is much easier to control the "localness" of my food when I make it myself.

Can you identify this produce item?

My friend Natalie, the marketing person at Whole Foods suggested we try this brown, potato-looking item in the Thai lettuce wraps we demonstrated. We used my julienne cutter to cut it and cucumber and put it on top of the hamburger mixture on the lettuce leaves for some crunchy texture.

Any guesses as to what it is? This one was grown on Oahu. I brought the the portion in the photo that we didn't use home--we used the last one in the store until the next delivery comes in this week. I had heard the name before but it was not familiar to me. It can be eaten raw, or cooked and discolors quickly when cut unless coated with something acidic like citrus juice. And that's all I am saying. ;-) Leave a comment with your guess and I'll tell you tomorrow what it is if no one gets it.

Tune in tomorrow for the Eat Local Challenge: Day 5!


A Week of Eating Local--Eat Local Challenge: Day 3--Featuring (Local) Pots Au Chocolat for Food 'n Flix: "Chocolat"

One of my concerns about taking part in the Eat Local Challenge this week was fitting in a few blog events that I wanted to take part in, and finding recipes that I could adapt with local ingredients. A big one for me was the new monthly Food 'N Flix event, founded by my friend girlichef. This month's movie is a personal favorite of mine (and in my foodie movie collection), "Chocolat" based on the book by Joanne Harris. I won't go into a movie review here, but if you are a foodie and haven't seen this charming movie, you must do so immediately. Chocolate and Johnny Depp... enough said!

I had a favorite recipe in mind to make when I heard we were doing this movie, the aptly named Pots Au Chocolat--basically a fudgy, pudding like, but fluffier, decadent little dessert from a cookbook I bought when I was first getting into cooking, "Classic Home Cooking" by Mary Berry & Marlena Spieler. Imagine my delight when I realized I could make this dessert (sans the whipped creme topping) with all local or locally produced ingredients. Yep, we grow us some chocolate here on the islands--in this case it is Waialua Chocolate on the North Shore of Oahu. I used their Extra Dark 70% Cacao for this dessert, along with Kona Coffee, a vanilla bean from the Big Island, Naked Cow Dairy Butter and fresh local eggs.

Pots Au Chocolat
"Classic Home Cooking"
(Serves 6) or 4 ;-)

6 oz (175 g) semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3 Tbsp strong black coffee
1 Tbsp butter
a few drops of vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy cream, whipped until stiff to decorate

Put the chocolate pieces into a saucepan with the strong black coffee. Heat gently, stirring, until the chocolate melts. Leave the chocolate mixture to cool slightly, then add the butter, vanilla extract, and egg yolks and stir until well blended.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold gently but thoroughly into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into 6 small custard cups, ramekins, or other serving dishes (or 4 slightly larger tea cups), and leave to chill for about 8 hours.

Decorate each cup of chocolate with a piped rosette of whipped cream before serving.

Notes/Results: A deep, dark, delicious chocolate delight. Fudgy, but not too heavy and full of great flavor. The coffee adds more of a richness than a strong coffee flavor. This is an easy dessert to whip up--then it just needs some time in the fridge to set. It does use raw eggs, but I feel comfortable with the local eggs I bought from a small farm CSA share and pick up at the farmers market each week. Instead of vanilla extract, I scraped a vanilla bean into the chocolate/coffee mix. Since I don't have access to local cream, I skipped that as a topping and instead topped a couple with chocolate mint leaves from my garden and a couple with some black lava Hawaiian sea salt. I wondered if the salt might be too much but just a tiny sprinkle was perfect with the dark chocolate. Yum! I have made this in the past, substituting green tea for the coffee--also delicious. I will certainly make it again.

Check out the Food 'N Flix site where girlichef and Terianne from Milk, Sugar, Musings and Love will be rounding up the entries soon.


So how did Day 3 of the Eat Local Challenge go?

Breakfast: On the go with a hard boiled local egg and a smoothie with local papaya and frozen apple bananas and a little local milk.

Lunch: Leftover grilled ahi, layered with sliced avocado on greens with leftover vinaigrette.

Dinner: Thai-style Local Lettuce Wraps with Maui ground beef and all local veggies (cucumber and daikon), local lemongrass, kaffir lime, lime and Thai chilies, and herbs from my container garden (cilantro, Thai Basil and mint). Delish--I made a variation of this recipe for a demo at Whole Foods tonight that went over really well.

Dessert: Mango-Habanero Ono Pop (my pots Au Chocolat were still setting).

Tune in tomorrow for my Eating Local Day 4 recap. ;-)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Week of Eating Local--Eat Local Challenge: Day 2--Featuring An All-Local Ahi Nicoise Salad

Here is my recap of Day 2 of the Eat Local Challenge I am participating in this week. The goal of this challenge? To bring awareness to the importance of building a sustainable food supply in Hawaii. This is critical because as I have mentioned in previous posts, the Hawaiian Islands import about 85% of our food consumed, and if for any reason shipping and air freight were cut off to Hawaii, the food supply would only last about 12-14 days. Also, if everyone in Hawaii bought even 10% of their food from local sources, it would bring millions of dollars of revenue to the economy and also open up a few thousand jobs.

Many of you have pointed out that I am lucky to live in a place where such good food is readily available and that is very true---it would be much more difficult to do this challenge living in other areas. Still, it isn't easy to eat exclusively local, it requires planning, sourcing local ingredients, doing without some regular favorites, and when purchasing certain items, it is more expensive. But all that being said, it has been a fun challenge and it is exercising my organizational skills and creativity, and the resulting meals have been pretty terrific.

Especially the Ahi Nicoise Salad that was last night's dinner. Absolutely delicious and well-worth making even when not in challenge mode. Grilled local ahi tuna, steamed green beans, slices of roasted Okinawan sweet potatoes (filling in for the regular white potatoes in a typical Nicoise), local eggs, tomatoes and cucumber, served on a bed of local greens. The dressing is a vinaigrette comprised of Oils of Aloha Macadamia Nut Oil, local Meyer lemon juice, tarragon, rosemary and chives from my herb garden and a little Hawaiian sea salt. Drool worthy for sure!

The rest of my day:
  • Breakfast: Watercress sauteed in a bit of Naked Cow butter, topped with an over-easy egg sprinkled with Alaea Red Hawaiian Sea Salt and served with tomatoes, GMO-free papaya with a squeeze of lime. Delicious and according to Dr. Nicholas Perricone on Good Morning America watercress and eggs are two of his anti-inflammatory foods that keep wrinkles at bay and prevent disease--whoo hoo! (The other foods are green tea, coconut oil, cinnamon, turmeric, and salmon--just in case you were keeping track!) I am pretty sure I looked at least a couple of years younger after breakfast! ;-)
  • Lunch: Leftover mini-Maui beef patties, with leftover guacamole and feta cheese, wrapped in lettuce and served with cucumbers and tomatoes. To drink, a cooling honeydew melon and mint yogurt lassi. Tasty and easy to throw together on a break from work.
  • Dinner: The Ahi Nicoise Salad mentioned above and that was more than plenty! ;-)
  • Dessert: A locally made (& with mostly local ingredients) Mountain Apple-Rose OnoPop.
  • Snacks: an apple banana, a few slices of sweet potato with sea salt.

Notes/Results: Another delicious day! Sure, some capers on my Ahi Nicoise would have been wonderful but even without them, it was pretty perfect. I also decided I need to cut back a bit on the local dairy as I am pretty sure it is stuffing me up--why I cut back on my dairy in the first place. I still plan to use what I bought but a bit less each day. I am still getting lots of salad and greens in, and the Okinawan sweet potatoes are a nice starchy bulky item that helps round out some of the "salady" meals. An after-challenge resolution is to roast a bunch of the sweet potatoes to snack on more often. The hardest part of the challenge so far is taking all of the pictures. ;-)

Tune in tomorrow for Tuesday's recap and my local Pots Au Chocolat for the new monthly blog event Food & Flix, featuring the movie Chocolat.


Monday, September 27, 2010

A Week of Eating Local--Eat Local Challenge: Day 1

This was going to be a much longer post about the comedic elements of my chasing around stocking up like a madwoman on local produce, meat and other ingredients for the Eat Local Challenge I am participating in this week. But work stuff got in the way, then my MacBook and Wordpress (where Cook the Books is hosted), had a little falling out and my "Climbing the Mango Trees" round-up post that should have been pretty quick, took forever.. hours waiting for pictures and links to load... then I lost half of it... had to walk away for a few hours before I hurt something... then more time waiting before I finally got it finished.

So now I am tired, slightly grumpy and not really in the mood to go into great detail about how I stocked up to enable me to eat only food made from local ingredients for seven days. But trust me, it was kind of humorous and took visits to the farmers market, Kokua Market (my local co-op), and Whole Foods and two other grocery stores. And, because bread, rice, pasta and other carbs made from grains are not grown locally and therefore off the menu for the week... I felt that a "goodbye cupcake" was in order and stopped to get a banana-caramel one from Cake Couture (which was a little cake from heaven by the way).

You would think I was planning on eating just local foods for months from the goodies I have stuffed in my fridge. But if I learned nothing else from Girl Scouts, I learned to be prepared, so stocked up I am!

Which brings us to my Eating Local Challenge: Day 1 recap of Sunday's food:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie made with all local ingredients--honeydew, GMO-free papaya, frozen apple-bananas, Naked Cow Dairy yogurt, Waimanalo honey and mint from my container herb garden.
  • Lunch: Two poached local eggs over sauteed local Tuscan kale with tarragon and scallions from my lanai container herb garden, and Hawaiian sea salt cooked in a bit of Naked Cow Dairy Hawaiian Sea Salt Butter, served with tomatoes. Key learning: eggs are hard to poach neatly without vinegar (not local) and if you are offended by runny yolks, get over it--it is the best way to eat eggs over greens--you have to mix that yolk in. Mmm...
  • Dinner: "Burger in A Bowl"--or a "bun-less" burger. Two mini Maui Beef patties served over a bowl of Nalo Greens--their "Healthy Mix" lettuces, with caramelized local onions (in local butter), local Japanese cucumber, local tomatoes, feta from Naked Cow Dairy, and guacamole made with local avocado, cilantro from my herb garden and local lime and red sea salt.
  • Dessert: Figs, sliced, grilled and drizzled with Waimanalo honey and sprinkled with a little Naked Cow Dairy feta. OMG--yum! I nearly knocked over a few people getting to these last two figs at a booth at the farmers market and I whimpered pathetically when I found out the rest had sold--They were from the farmer's grandmother's tree and were juicy, sweet and perfect.

  • Snacks: an apple-banana and a Japanese cucumber
Notes/Results: A day full of delicious food--I enjoyed everything I made and didn't feel deprived as we do have such a big variety of local food available here. I am missing bread a bit, but everything I ate was so fresh and good, it wasn't hard at all to eat almost completely local. (Chances are the starter for the yogurt wasn't local but the milk is and it is produced by a local business, so I think it meets the spirit of the challenge.) Another bonus to doing the challenge--my consumption of veggies--particularly those nutritious leafy greens, will be going up considerably this week! ;-)

Tune in tomorrow for Monday's recap, including my Local-Style Ahi Nicoise Salad.

Hope you are enjoying your week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Japanese Clear Soup with Carrot and Daikon Flowers for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays (& Regional Recipes!)

This Clear Soup with Carrot and Daikon Flowers is from the book, "At the Japanese Table: New & Traditional Recipes" by Lesley Downer. Usually when I make Japanese soups, I go for the thicker, heavier ones, but this one was so pretty, I had to try it. Since Regional Recipes, the monthly event hosted by my good friend Joanne of Eats Well With Others, is focused on Japan this month, the timing was perfect.

About soups (shirumono), in Japan, the book says, "Soups are an essential part of the visual feast that is Japanese cooking. There are two main types, clear soups, which are served at the beginning of a meal, and thick soups, usually made with miso, served at the end." And, "The first course to appear in a grand banquet is clear soup (suimono), a miniature flower arrangement floating in a delicate translucent broth."

Downer says "This is a classic and beautiful clear soup, in which the elements--noodles, red and white "flowers" and a touch of brilliant green watercress--compliment each other in color, texture, and taste."

Clear Soup with Carrot and Daikon Flowers
"At the Japanese Table" by Lesley Downer
(Serves 4)

4 oz egg somen noodles
1 medium carrot, peeled
2-inch slice daikon radish, peeled
1 bunch watercress
5 cups Dashi--see recipe below
3-4 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sake
1 1/2 Tbsp mirin
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation: Noodles: Separate the noodles into 4 bunches and tie each bunch securely at the base with thread. To cook, bring plenty of water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan. Add the noodles, bring the water back to the boil, then top it up with 1/2 cup cold water. Repeat this procedure 2 or 3 times until the noodles are al dente. Rinse them in cold water, drain and set aside.

To make carrot and daikon flowers: cut the carrot into an even 3-inch cylinder. Make 5 symmetrical V-shaped cuts all the way down the cylinder and round them off to make a petal shape. Then cut off 1/2-inch slices of carrot to make flowers. If you like, you can pare away part of each petal to make a more realistic flower. Repeat with the daikon to make 4 daikon flowers. Then simmer the carrot and daikon flowers in water or dashi until tender; drain .

Watercress: Separate watercress into bunches of 4 or 5 stalks each; cut off the long, tough stems. Blanch them in rapidly boiling water for a few seconds until wilted, then drain and set aside.

To Cook: Bring the dashi just to the boil. Turn the heat to low and season with soy sauce, sake, mirin, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

To Serve: Warm 4 soup bowls, then arrange a bunch of noodles, a carrot flower, a daikon flower, and a bunch of watercress in each. Carefully ladle in enough hot dashi to fill the bowls 3/4 full and serve immediately.

Iciban Dashi (Dashi 1 or Light Dashi)
(Makes 5 Cups)

1 piece (4-6 inches) dried kombu, wiped
2-3 packets (0.175 oz each) dried bonito flakes

Put 5 cups cold water into a large saucepan, add the kombu and heat slowly, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Just before the water boils, remove the kombu. Raise the heat and just as the water starts to boil again, throw in the bonito flakes. Bring to a full boil, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and allow the flakes to settle. Strain gently through muslin (do not squeeze).

Notes/Results: This is a very delicate and tasty soup that makes a great starter or is perfect for when you want something really light but comforting. It seems like there are a lot of steps but they come together easily and fairly quickly. I made my dashi stock the day before and did everything else as I was waiting for the stock to reheat and the noodles to cook. My vegetable flower cutting skills will not win any awards--my cuts are too big and my only carrot in the drawer was small and "wonky" on one side, but it was fun to try and I think makes a pretty presentation. I would make this soup again, especially if cooking a Japanese meal (or grand banquet!) ;-)

Joanne will be rounding up all the Japanese dishes at the Regional Recipes site after the end of the month, so go by and take a look.

Let's visit the Souper Sunday Kitchen and see who is here this week.

Here with a hearty Crab & Corn Chowder is Lauren from Healthy. Delicious. who says, "Is there anything as comforting as a big bowl of nourishing soup after a long day? Not in my book! One of the first soups that I make every fall is crab and corn chowder. We look forward to it all summer! Sweet end-of-summer corn pairs perfectly with smokey poblano peppers and spicy Old Bay seasoning to make a deeply satisfying meal (especially when you serve it with cheddar & green onion biscuits)."

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes adapted the Barefoot Contessa's Mexican Chicken Soup to add to girlichef's Tortilla Soup challenge and says, "I don’t know what I like more, the soup, or the accompaniments. It’s really the perfect soup. Warm and flavorful, but then fresh and tasty with the cool avocado, sour cream, cheese and cilantro. The changes I made: used a leftover rotisserie chicken carcass – with the breast meat still attached, made the soup in a slow cooker, and added some fresh cilantro at the end with the avocado, sour cream, and cheese. I just love the pop of the fresh cilantro."

Reshmi from A Feast for the Eyes and Stomach is back this week with a filling, exotic Moroccan Meat Soup with Red Lentils and says, "A rich and healthy soup enriched with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, lentils and Meat. Its a complete meal in itself,very simple to prepare, and goes extremely well with a piece of bread or rice. I would say its a "must try" recipe for meat-lovers."

Joanne from Eats Well With Others, my not-so-crazy-about-soup friend, does like stews, like this gorgeous Homemade Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew. Joanne says, "Stews have a pretty high positive predictive value when it comes to diagnostic tools. They sit on the stove, simmering away. Perfuming your entire apartment with their luscious scent. And you sit at your desk, ostensibly studying but most probably watching Glee. Or the Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion. Depending on just how trashy you feel at the moment. Sniffing away. Your stomach growling with reckless abandon.You become inured to the smell after a while, your olfactory receptors adapting so that they don't get overly stimulated and burned out. But every once in a while they recharge. You get a whiff. And think. Damn that smells good."

Tanvi from Sinfully Spicy made this savory Mahi Mahi Soup and says, "A very simple recipe with day-to-day spices from the pantry but everything comes together very nicely and gives the soup a great taste. Pair up the fish with veggies of your choice and don’t forget a squirt of lemon coz lime juice brightens up the taste, especially of seafood.I recommend adding ginger because it adds up a lot of fresh & spicy flavor.I think that mahi mahi is a really good choice for this soup because of the moist flesh and the mild taste.However, go ahead and experiment with spices and fish varieties! It is incredibly easy to make, given how tasty the results are."

Reeni of Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice made this lovely and unique Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs: Fideos con Albondigas and says, "Whole chile peppers simmer away in a freshly pureed tomato broth to give this soup outrageous flavor. The vermicelli is also cooked right in this spicy sauce where it imbues itself right into the noodle. The meatballs are simply seasoned and simmered separately in water which later gets mixed into the tomato broth to finish the soup. You might think the meatballs would be the star of the show here. But truly the chile peppers fill that role. Without them this soup is nothing."

Heather of girlichef tried her hand at a Filipino classic dish, Kare Kare and says, "Back to the present my very own kitchen...the smells of friends home some twenty years ago...are bubbling away in the pot in front of me. Who would have thought that fermented shrimp, tail, peanut butter, vegetables, and stomach lining could all go into a pot together and come out with a taste so silky, deep, and delicious? Not me. Now I know different... Kare Kare is a traditional Filipino dish that is served on special occasions or for Sunday dinners. Although, I'm sure it's okay to eat it other days of the week."

Megha from Live to eat!!! made a healthy and colorful Moroccan Beet Appetizer Salad and says, "Moroccan salads play a big role in Moroccan cuisine, and most families serve them almost daily. Garden-fresh vegetables might be peeled and chopped before being tossed with a vinaigrette, or they might be cooked with spices and olive oil to make dip-like salads. Most salads can be refrigerated for 2-3 days."

Janet from The Taste Space has two salads to share this week. The first is this Almond Broccoli Crunch Salad, about which she says, "There are many recipes for broccoli salad. It is delicious. But I haven’t made it yet. I find I get turned off of recipes when I know exactly what goes inside. Bacon and mayo are delicious, but I just don’t cook with them that often. This is why I perked up when I saw a mayo- and bacon-less broccoli salad on 101 Cookbooks. There are many different crunchy aspects to the salad; tender-crisp broccoli, crisp apple pieces and toasted almonds. The magic ingredient was probably the crispy onion. They were crunchy and added a unique flavour."

Janet's second salad is this Apple, Pomegranate, and Arugula Salad with Apple Cider-Honey Vinaigrette, and she says, "This salad features a crisp, sliced apple, with crunchy toasted almonds and juicy pomegranate seeds over a bed of arugula. I used baby arugula which wasn’t that peppery, but arugula would work well with the sweet apple-laced vinaigrette. Another option I might entertain next time is a pomegranate vinaigrette with pomegranate molasses, but I liked the focus on apple."

Amritha from AK's Vegetarian Recipe World has a nutritious Sprouted Green Gram / Whole Moong Salad and says, "Its a great salad. I never thought sprouted green gram would taste so good. I get so excited when I see the sprouts from the green gram. It gives me a great satisfaction when we eat this salad. I feel as though we are having one bowl full of only fiber and nutrients. My mom sometimes would just pick hand full of fresh sprouted green grams and stuff it inside our mouth even before making the salad. That time though I ate it, I used to complain. But now I realize how good it is for our body."

Tigerfish from Tezcape- An Escape to Food used her leftover Japchae (Korean Sweet Potato Starch Noodle Salad) to fill tortillas for these Veggie Burrito Tortilla Wraped Japchae and says, "I did ask about Japchae leftovers the last time. Some of you were near spot-on, for example, on using the leftover as filling for spring roll. You are right on using it as filling - not spring roll but burrito. It is not salty. It does not feel heavy on the stomach. Makes you full, but a feel-great fullness. A perfect lunch on the go. A budget-friendly BYO lunch. A good-to-go kid's lunch box burrito."

A new friend and a new face to welcome to Souper Sundays is Erin from EKat's Kitchen with some hearty Portobella Black Bean "Salad" Sandwiches. Erin says, "Several years ago I saw a recipe somewhere for Bean and Portabella burgers. I couldn't find the recipe again, but knew that I wanted to make some today. I love mushrooms and I love black beans. Though what I ended up with wasn't burgers, I got some delicious sandwiches." (BTW: Erin has a fun Friday Potluck blog event at EKat's Kitchen that you should check out!) ;-) Welcome Erin!

So many terrific recipes again this week! Thanks to everyone who joined in and welcome to our newbie this week, Erin. If you have a soup, sandwich, or salad that you would like to share--just click on the Souper Sunday logo for all of the details.

Eat Local Challenge Update: As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am taking the Eat Local Hawaii Challenge this week from today until Saturday. Since today's soup was already made and consumed yesterday, I will start sharing my all-local food recaps and recipes tomorrow. I did get all stocked up with local ingredients at the farmers market, Kokua Market co-op and Whole Foods yesterday. Today's breakfast? A completely local smoothie with honeydew melon, GMO-free papaya, frozen apple bananas, Waimanalo honey, Naked Cow Dairy yogurt and some mint from my container herb garden. Delicious! Next up lunch/brunch which will involve eggs, Tuscan kale, herbs and Naked Cow Dairy butter and Hawaiian sea salt.

Enjoy your week!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Honeydew Melon, Opal Basil & Mint Frappé: A Mostly Local Simple Saturday Sipper (Plus I Start the "Eat Local Challenge" Next Week!)

This week's Simple Saturday Sipper, a Honeydew Melon, Opal Basil & Mint Frappé, comes from the need to use up a soccer-ball size honeydew melon from a local farm on Oahu. Last week I did a recipe demo of fresh fruit smoothies for a group from the Kidney Foundation of Hawaii after a tour of Aloun Farms in Kapolei. Part of our tour was a visit to their melon patch where the group got to pick their own honeydews. One of our guides handed me a ginormous melon, which I drug home and between my visiting mom and I, we only managed to eat half of it so far. It is a sweet and flavorful melon but there is a lot of it, so I am finding different ways to use it up.

In this case, I threw together a frozen cocktail--we'll call it a frappé for lack of a better word, using the melon, opal basil, mint and a few stevia leaves from my herb garden, local limes, ice and a slug of Island 808 Vodka made from Hawaii-grown pineapples. It's cool, refreshing, nicely flavored with the herbs, sweetened with the stevia and really nice for the slightly humid weather we are having.

Honeydew Melon, Opal Basil & Mint Frappé
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Servings)

1 1/2 cups honeydew melon, cubed
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp opal basil leaves (or Thai or sweet basil will work)
1 Tbsp mint leaves
3 fresh stevia leaves (or 1 Tbsp simple syrup or other sweetener)
6-8 ice cubes
2 ounces vodka

Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse a few times to break up ice and then blend until smooth and frothy. Enjoy.

Notes/Results: Pretty to look at, hydrating and a good combination of sweet from the honeydew and stevia and lightly tangy from the lime juice with nice herbal notes. I used a couple of the little purple flowers of my opal basil to garnish the drink but you could just use a few basil or mint leaves. I would make this drink again.

Since all of the herbs including the stevia are home-grown from my container garden, and I was there when the melon was plucked from the vine and handed to me ;-) I am going to send this to the Grow Your Own #45 Event being hosted this month by my pal girlichef.

Speaking of local foods and ingredients, next week may be a little strange around Kahakai Kitchen as I have pledged to take the Kanu Hawaii Eat Local Challenge from Sunday, Sept. 26 through Saturday, Oct. 2. Starting on Monday, I'll be blogging about cooking and eating pretty much exclusively with ingredients sourced from Hawaii. I am "lucky to live Hawaii" and in such a place of beauty, but the cold hard facts are that more than 85% of the food here is imported, and that our food supply is extremely vulnerable. If there were an event, natural disaster, or for any reason the shipping and air freight to Hawaii was interrupted, our food supply would only last about 12-14 days. Pretty scary right?! The Eat Local Challenge is to bring awareness to the importance of eating and buying local food and building a more sustainable and secure food supply for the Hawaiian Islands.

I have my farmers market and store lists ready for shopping this weekend, and I am fortunate to be able to pretty easily get some of the basics--salt, butter, eggs, milk, mac nut oil, herbs, fish, beef, maybe some veal, and of course lots of fruits & veggies but I will be lacking in the grains (read: bread, rice, pasta, etc.) area next week. ;-) In any case it ought to be pretty interesting. There are a few restaurants serving local dishes, stores featuring local items and some local food events going on all week, so it should be a fun challenge. On Monday, I'll start briefly recapping what I ate each day with a few photos of the most interesting food. (Don't worry, I won't bore you with pictures of every bite that goes into my mouth!) I am still planning on participating in events like I Heart Cooking Clubs, Food-n-Flix, next week's Souper Sunday (this week's soup is already made), etc., working all local Hawaii ingredients into the recipes So wish me luck!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mark Bittman's Sesame Shrimp Toasts & Egg Drop Soup: A Quick and Easy Meal

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and (sniff :-( sniff), our last potluck with Mark Bittman, in fact there is just one more week of Bittman after this and then we switch to our new chef/cook, Giada DeLaurentiis. I wanted something that was fast to make, that I could make from items already in my pantry/fridge/freezer, and especially something that tasted great. I got them all with Bittman's Sesame Shrimp Toasts and Egg Drop Soup.

Both recipes are from my favorite Bittman book, "Kitchen Express." I know I keep saying it but if you don't own this book, add it to your list. Every single quick and easy recipe sketch I have made from this book has been delicious. It is the perfect book to have when you need a fast dinner from your pantry.

Sesame Shrimp Toasts
"Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express"

Bittman says, "Better than any version you've had in a restaurant."

Heat the oven to 475 degrees F. Slice a baguette in half lengthwise, put the halves face up on a baking sheet, and set them in the oven while it heats. Put shrimp in a food processor with some butter, scallions, soy sauce, a few drops of sesame oil, and a pinch each of sugar and salt. Pulse until the mixture forms a chunky pasta. Smear the shrimp paste all over the bread and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until the shrimp paste is pink and cooked through and the bread is crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool a bit, then cut up and serve with a salad. (or soup!) ;-)

Egg Drop Soup
"Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express"

Bittman says, "Nothing could be easier."

Bring a quart of stock (chicken or vegetable) to a slow bubble; gently pour four beaten eggs into the stock while stirring. Add soy sauce to taste and garnish with some chopped cilantro or scallions; a little sesame oil is nice, too.

Notes/Results: A simple comfort food dinner that comes together in less than 20 minutes and tastes really good. Make the shrimp toasts, then while they are baking, make the soup. I just made a cup's worth of the soup with some homemade stock and one egg, and it was perfect with a few pieces of the crunchy / creamy shrimp toasts. I might add some frozen green peas the next time for a bit more color and texture. The shrimp toasts are really good with the thicker baguette bread and not oily like the ones you get in Chinese restaurants often are. They would work well as a fun and simple appetizer. I would make both of these recipes again.

You can see what the other IHCC participants made for their potluck dishes by going to the post here and following the links.

To double the Potluck fun, I am also sending these sesame Shrimp Toasts and Egg Drop Soup to the Friday Potluck Party at EKat's Kitchen.