Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Farfalle with Creamy Basil-Walnut Pesto

I took another healthy vegetarian cooking class a few weeks ago with the same chef and instructor who taught the healthy vegan Indian food class I took. This class was all about using herbs and spices to add flavor to your cooking. My favorite recipe was this one for a Creamy Basil-Walnut Pesto. Made with soy (or rice or almond) milk and whole wheat bread to thicken, it tastes rich and decadent. We had it on penne for class but it is equally good on whole wheat farfalle for an easy, healthy pasta dinner. The walnuts give a good dose of those all important omega-3 fatty acids too.

Farfalle with Creamy Basil-Walnut Pesto
Chef Alyssa Moreau
(Serves 4)

1 lb farfalle or pasta of your choice
1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 cup milk (soy, rice or almond)
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Garnishes (optional): 
chopped parsley
additional Parmesan
chopped walnuts
chopped basil

Cook pasta according to directions on the package, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Trim crusts from bread. Place bread and milk into a blender or food processor. Let sit a few minutes to soften the bread. Add the rest of the ingredients along with 3 Tbsp of the pasta water and blend until smooth. (Use last Tbsp of water if too thick). Toss into cooked pasta and coat well. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish as desired. Serve immediately.

Note: Good with cooked broccoli, sauteed mushrooms or peas tossed in.

Notes/Results: Delicious! I used a big bag of local basil from the farmer's market and tossed some frozen peas into the cooking liquid with the pasta for the last couple of minutes. Garnished with a bit of cheese, walnuts, and some more basil on top, it was perfect. 

I'm going to send this along to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted this week by its creator, Ruth at 4EveryKitchen. The round up will be posted on her site this Friday. A great place to see a lot of wondrful pasta recipes.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The BloggerAid Cookbook--Coming Soon!

I joined BloggerAid back in January but I just finally got it together to get a recipe into BloggerAid's cookbook project (better late than never since the second deadline is tomorrow!). This is such an important project as the cookbook will feature recipes from bloggers all over the world and 100% of the proceeds will go to feed children through School Meals, a program of The World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations frontline agency. School Meals provides meals to schoolchildren in developing countries which not only provides vital nourishment to the kids, it helps encourage their families to keep them in school.

BloggerAid's goal is to bring food bloggers together from all across the globe to aid in the alleviation of hunger.

"We are a growing group of international food bloggers determined to make a difference in aid of world famine. The love of food and community that brings us together drives the compassion of its members to reach out to our world to help those less fortunate than we are. Banded by a mission of helping to make a change in a world where starvation affects such a profound number of people, we will raise money and awareness for the hungry in communities both at home and abroad."

So here is a quick peek at my entry, one of my favorite side dish salads:

Curried Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Toasted Almonds

It is colorful, flavorful and healthy; perfect for potlucks, parties, lunches, etc. Much as I would love to share the recipe with you now, you will just have to wait and buy the book! The cookbook is targeted to be sold on Amazon.com in December 2009, with once again 100% of the proceeds going to School Meals. A great opportunity to buy a new cookbook and do some good in the world at the same time!

You can read more about the cookbook and the other fabulous programs and events that BloggerAid has to offer at the site here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Asparagus-Lemongrass Bisque with Herb Pesto and Spiced Almonds for Souper Sunday & Royal Foodie Joust

Today's soup is a "two-fer", as not only did I make it for Souper Sunday, I decided to use the ingredients selected for this month's Royal Foodie Joust from The Foodie BlogRoll. The three ingredients, selected by last month's winner, 5 Star Foodie, are asparagus, lemongrass and almonds. I decided to make a healthy, non-dairy Asparagus-Lemongrass Bisque with Herb Pesto and Spiced Almonds. I worked the three ingredients into the dish in different ways; the soup has a fresh lemongrass broth, lots of asparagus, and almond milk, the pesto has slivered almonds, lemon grass paste and mint and cilantro and the toasted sliced almonds on top are spiced with lemon-grass and Chinese 5 spice powders. The perfect soup to welcome Spring with, which is why the garnish became spiced almond flowers on shaved asparagus stems!

Asparagus-Lemongrass Bisque with Herb Pesto and Spiced Almonds
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 servings)

5 cups water
4 stalks lemongrass, lower stalks, peeled chopped into 2-3" pieces and bruised
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved, sliced thinly
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5-6 cups)
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups almond milk 

Bring water and lemongrass to a boil in a large pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sliced leeks and potatoes, return to boil and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add asparagus. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. Puree using Immersion Blender or blender or food processor (If using blender or food processor, cool soup slightly first and puree in small batches). Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in almond milk. Taste again for seasoning, add more if needed. Serve warm or refrigerate until cold.  Serve with garnishes, (recipes below).


Herb Pesto

1 1/2  cup mint leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup almond slivers
1 Tbsp lemongrass paste
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in food processor. Add water if needed to thin out pesto to desired consistency.


Lemongrass-Five Spice Almonds

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried lemongrass powder
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add lemongrass and five spice powders. Heat through and add almonds. Cook almonds, stirring constantly until browned and crispy.

Notes/Results: Thick, creamy, and delicious, but with the added benefit of being healthy. I was so happy with how this soup came together from my head to the bowl. All three of the components are great on their own but together they offer up layers of flavors and textures. You get the creamy, lightly lemony soup, then a brighter tangy herbal taste of the pesto and finally the nice spice and crunch of the almonds. The combination of the potato and almond milk make this soup creamy enough that you don't miss the usual cream that a bisque has. It goes together easily and would be a nice starter soup for lunch or dinner. I tried it both warm and cold and it works really well at either temperature. I will make this again.

You can check out all the RFJ entries at the Foodie BlogRoll Forum here. (If you are a Foodie Blogroll member, take time to vote for your favorite entry the week of April 3rd).

Let's see what other delicious soups are waiting in the Souper Sunday Kitchen this week:

Our first soup is from a new face at Souper Sunday, Alison from More Than Yesterday who comes to us from either Vancouver or the Bay Area (she spends time in both places these days). Alison is sharing a healthy Veggie-Miso Soup she created for a friend's potluck. This simple, light soup has tofu, bok choy and one of my favorites, enoki mushrooms, in a miso broth. Welcome Alison!

Like many of us, Kim from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet, is trying to cook and eat some lighter and healthier foods these days, now that spring is here. This week she made a bright green Avocado Zucchini Soup to help her with that goal. Kim says it is "healthy and delicious" and tastes as good as it looks. Now she just has to convince her husband to join her on her journey to better fitness!

It's nice to have Tara, The Diva on a Diet, from Beach Eats back at Souper Sundays this week. She was feeling a bit under the weather and knew she needed some chicken soup. She found this unusual Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup with Turnips and the unique combo of the chicken, thyme, turnips and cheese appealed to her. Tara says the combo works, the soup's flavor is "extraordinary" and even her husband, not a turnip fan, downed two bowls!

At the beginning of the year, Ulrike from Küchenlatein, set a goal of making a weekly soup and she is sticking to it, sending her 10th soup so far to Souper Sundays. This week, her inspiration was almonds, the theme of a German blog event and she made an Almond Soup with Chorizo Oil. Thick and creamy with a kick from the chorizo oil, it is the perfect soup to warm up the still cool days and nights in Germany.

Another newcomer to Souper Sundays is Lissaloo from One Step at a Time, who joins us from Montana. She made a yummy bowl of Italian Wedding Soup from her Mom's recipe this week. Since it's still pretty chilly still in Montana, this hearty soup with it's orzo, spinach and mini meatballs really hit the spot. Her daughter loved sprinkling the cheese on her own little bowl! Thanks for joining us Lissaloo!

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies has taken on Italy with Jamie Oliver's, My Favorite Ribollita (la mia ribollita preferita), this week. This very classic Tuscan "peasant" soup is full of tomatoes, veggies, beans and bread. Natashya says this ribollita, whose name literally means "reboiled", is hearty, filling and very tasty, especially with the cheese sprinkled on top.

I am happy to see Debbie from The Friday Friends, who is back this week with two soups to share. Debbie has a dream to open a soup restaurant, until then she makes soups for friends and for her book clubs where these soups were a hit. The first is Dreamy Clam Chowder, with lots of clams, potatoes and bacon. 

The second is a Turkey Soup (or Chicken Soup depending on your preference). This one has green and red pepper potatoes and corn. Debbie says they are both "REALLY GOOD soups!"

Preparing for a week of indulging with a visiting brother and her 10 year-old's Birthday, Suzie from Munch & Nibble felt the need to get some nutritious broccoli into her system. She found the perfect recipe, Broccoli Soup with Grilled Haloumi from an old Donna Hay Magazine. Suzie says that "the haloumi gives a lovely salty kick and a textural contrast to the smooth broccoli flavours." (Being a big fan of this salty, chewy cheese myself, this one is going on my "must try" list!)

Kait from Pots and Plots is here with a homey Crock Pot Lentil Soup. Temps in the 50's in Mississippi this week had Kait craving lentils and she decided to make a soup where they were "the star of the show". Wanting something easy, that she didn't have to watch, she pulled out her slow cooker and filled it with all kinds of good ingredients, allowing her the opportunity to do a little freezer "thinning" too.  

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness is here this week with a lovely bowl of Italian Chicken, Bean and Pasta Soup. With homemade stock from a roast chicken, crisped proscuitto, beans, veggies and pasta, Stephanie says this is a "pretty awesome soup" and according to her husband Matt, it's "full of flavor and very filling"

Another week of creative and delicious soups and something for everyone! Mahalo to all the great bloggers who participated. (You can find more details about their soups on their blogs). If you want to share a soup or soup-like creation at Souper Sundays, you can find all the details by clicking on the Souper Sunday logo on the side bar.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Invitation to Brunch... (Giveaway Winner!)

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I was lucky enough to get a free cookbook and a chance to participate in an event called Cookbook Spotlight, hosted by Stephanie and Cath. We'll be selecting, cooking and posting about a dish that we each select out of the brand new, (not yet released!), cookbook, Gale Gand's Brunch. Even more exciting, I was given the opportunity to give an extra free book and a spot in the event to one of my readers. 

So last night Max and I, (OK, really just me), prepped the drawing for today. Nope, we don't use a fancy random number generator, instead here at Kahakai Kitchen, we kick it old school by writing the names of everyone who entered down on a piece of paper, (twice for most of you since in addition to the email, you left a comment on the post and got a bonus entry), cutting them out, putting them in a bag, and randomly drawing out one of the names. I know it was actually Breakfast at Tiffany's, not brunch, but what they heck, it seemed only fitting to draw the winner out of a little turquoise Tiffany & Co. bag!  Here are the entries.

I really thought Max was going to help out, but although he stuck his head and paw in the bag, pulling out the slip with the winner's name was all up to me! (I think it is a combination of a short attention span and his lack of opposable thumbs!)

I wish I could have given everyone a book, but there could only be one winner. And drum roll please...The winner is...

It's Heather from girlichef! Responding to the question, "What is your favorite food for brunch?", Heather said. "I love all things brunch...but I'll go with a big strata...filled with seasonal ingredients. And a mimosa. Or 3." Sounds like my kind of brunch partner! Congrats to Heather. (The publisher has your address and will be sending out your cookbook soon). 

Thanks to everyone who entered. Giveaways are fun, so since I have a couple of blog milestones coming up, check back next month for another one.

Tropical Popcorn and Smoothies for Tyler Florence Fridays

While searching online for healthy Tyler Florence recipes, I came across the recipes he developed for his recent Oprah show appearance. (Here on Oprah.com). The Tropical Popcorn caught my eye and I decided to pair it with his Tropical Smoothie for a decently healthy snack. Although there is some sugar in it, the popcorn has excellent fiber and also plenty of nutrients from the dried fruit and the smoothie has ample vitamins from the fruit, calcium from the yogurt, and healthy fat from the coconut milk. 

Tropical Popcorn
Recipe created by Tyler Florence
(Makes 2 cups)--see note below

1 bag plain, lightly salted, microwave popping corn
3 Tbsp. dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. dried pineapple
3 Tbsp. chopped dried mango
1/4 cup banana chips
3 Tbsp. shredded toasted coconut

Make popcorn following directions on the packet and microwave guidelines. In a large mixing bowl, combine popcorn and dried fruit and coconut and toss well to mix.

Notes/Results: A fun way to enjoy popcorn. Lots of flavor and a great combination of textures and colors make this an easy, delicious treat. I used Newman's Own; "Pop's Corn" which is just organic popcorn, no salt and no butter, and I used low sugar pineapple and mangoes in the fruit mix. For simplicity sake, I toasted my coconut chips in the microwave; you just have to do it in 15-20 second bursts, shaking the microwave plate frequently until the coconut browns. Because my popcorn had no salt, I added about a teaspoon of Alaea salt, (Hawaiian red salt), which was a nice pairing with the sweet dried fruit. I think with a little brown rice syrup, it would make a fun tropical popcorn ball. One note, the recipe says that this makes 2 cups?!? A packet of popcorn makes about 10+ cups when popped, unless it is a "single portion" bag, but the proportion of the fruit would be too much for a single portion, so go figure...

Tyler Florence's Tropical Smoothie
Recipe Created by Tyler Florence
(Makes 4 Servings)

fresh pineapple (if using canned, drain juice)
3 bananas
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup plain organic yogurt

Cut the top and skin off of the pineapple and cut in to chunks. Peel the banana and break in to pieces in the blender. Add the pineapple chunks, coconut milk and yogurt, and process until smooth. (Add a little water if the consistency is too thick.)

Pour the mixture into 4 glasses.

Note from Tyler: "The coconut milk adds plant fats that help support the immune system, and your child will burn them off as energy instead of storing them as fat."

Notes/Results: Good and tropical. I make a lot of smoothies, mostly with almond milk or yogurt but had never used coconut milk in one before and I liked the richness it adds. I did use a "lite" coconut milk (which is essentially just diluted coconut milk but it does shave off 50-60% of the calories) and non-fat Greek yogurt and fresh pineapple. Making this again, I would probably toss in some frozen mango chunks too. This smoothie is best served in a glass with a straw and at least one plastic cocktail monkey, (although two is always better). If I hadn't cut all my pineapple into little chunks without thinking, a slice on the side of the glass would be a nice garnish too. (I just threw a couple of chunks on top of the smoothie). 

This isn't a snack I would eat all the time, (the popcorn is a bit addicting though), but it is a fun, occasional treat, and we all need those once in awhile!

You can check out what the other TFF participants selected to make this week and find out what they thought about their picks at the TFF site here. If you like Tyler and want the flexibility to pick the Tyler recipes you want to make each week, the TFF site has all the information on how to join us.

Happy Aloha Friday and have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts--Barefoot Bloggers

Our final Barefoot Bloggers recipe for March is Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts and it was selected by the wonderful Anne of Anne Strawberry. I am a fan of all the components of this recipe, so I was happy to try it. Although I strive to make my Ina dishes healthier and better for me, there isn't a lot you can do with puff pastry to make it a much healthier choice, so I made half the recipe, (2 tarts), and threw in some baby spinach for extra nutrients. With a simple salad, it is a nice light lunch or dinner. 

This recipe can be found in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics (pgs 96-97) or at the Food Network site here.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten
(Makes 4 Individual Tarts)

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Notes/Results: Yum! The crispy light crust, topped with savory onions, tomatoes, goat cheese and herbs is delicious. I used one sheet of my pastry and made two tarts. There are a few steps and you will spend some time, mainly with your onions, but this recipe goes together easily. I used a bit less oil for my onions and tossed a large handful of baby spinach in for the last 5 minutes of cooking for extra fiber, vitamin A and other nutrients. The onion mixture was so good, I would have been happy with just onions on my tart. The big tomatoes at the Farmer's Market just didn't look red and appealing, so I grabbed some smaller, baby Roma-style ones from North Shore Farms/Big Wave Tomatoes that I sliced up, as well as some cherry tomatoes for my salad. For the goat cheese, I ended up using some Cypress Grove Chevre, with dill. (BTW; I could just sit and eat this cheese spread on crackers). The nice thing about herbed goat cheese is that you don't have to use much for a big flavor boost. These tarts smell so good in the oven and they look a beautiful and impressive on the plate. Although I won't make them a lot, I would make these tarts again for a special occasion.

Thanks Ann for a fun and delicious pick. You can see how the other Barefoot Bloggers' tarts turned out by going to the BB site and looking at the "Whose Turn Is It" list, here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Invitation to Brunch... (An Event with a Giveaway!)

What is better than a new cookbook? A free new cookbook! And what could be even better than that? A free new cookbook and an opportunity to help give someone else a free cookbook too!

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness and Cath from A Blithe Palate are co-hosting a new edition of Cookbook Spotlight on April 17 with Gale Gand’s newest book. 

Cookbook Spotlight is an event where food bloggers select recipes from the same cookbook, make the dish, and blog about it. It is followed with a round up of everyone's choices and pictures. It’s always fun and interesting to see what different people pick to cook or bake from the same book.

This go-round Cookbook Spotlight has been offered a chance to cook from Gale’s new book, Gale Gand’s Brunch! I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to participate and luckier still, I have been offered an extra book and would like to invite one of you to participate too.

If you would like to join this food blogging event, please send me an email at Debinhawaii@gmail.com with your snail mail address (one the publisher can ship a book to) by noon EST on Friday, March 27. (
That's 9:00 AM PST & 6:00 AM HST). Bonus Entry: If you also leave a comment on this post and tell me what is your favorite food for brunch, that will count as a second entry. Max and I will randomly select one person to join us for the event and win a free cookbook. If you don’t have a blog but would like to participate, I’ll be happy to post your blog entry here.

Look for the event on April 17 and the round up on April 20!  This will be a quick turn around but loads of fun!

Don't forget to email me with your shipping address if you want a chance to win the book. We have to get them to the publisher by Friday!

(Oh yeah, Max will be a HUGE help in selecting the winner!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Linguine and Oyster Mushrooms with Gremolata

I found this little treasure of a recipe; Linguine and Oyster Mushrooms with Gremolata, while thumbing through Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson, (a really great cookbook by the way). Since I frequently get oyster mushrooms in my CSA box, I had everything I needed to put it together. I was intrigued by pairing the mushrooms with a gremolata, something I had never considered.

Robertson says: "Gremolata, sometimes spelled gremolada, is a zesty mixture of garlic, lemon, and parsley that brings out the slightly sweet flavor of the oyster mushrooms in this recipe. A garnish often sprinkled on Italian stews such as osso buco, this Milanese seasoning is paired here with pasta to good effect."

Linguine and Oyster Mushrooms with Gremolata
Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson
(Serves 4)

1 pound linguine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 1/2 cups oyster mushrooms
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup gremolata (recipe follows)

Cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 8-10 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta and place in a large, shallow serving bowl. Add the mushroom mixture, the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil, and the gremolata and toss gently to combine. Serve at once.

Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson
(Makes about 1/3 cup)

Robertson says: "Gremolata is a flavorful garnish made with lemon, garlic, and parsley. It can be used to enhance certain stews, pastas, and sauteed dishes. I sometimes add 2 Tbsp of ground nuts or seeds for extra flavor and substance."

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon

Mince the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest together until well combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use. For the best flavor, use the same day it is made, but it will keep for a day or so in the refrigerator.

Notes/Results:  Wonderful! The paring of the mushrooms with the zesty, lemony gremolata is fantastic. It goes together simply and quickly and is a filling and satisfying dish. I didn't change anything, other than omitting about half of the olive oil and using a quinoa linguine, I had on hand. (A cooking tip for alternative pastas like rice, spelt or quinoa, is to always cook them a little less than the package says so they stay firm. Even slightly overcooked, I find that they turn into a pile of mush. This was perfect at just about 6 minutes). I was thinking as I was eating this dish that the only thing I would change is to add some toasted pine nuts for a little added texture. I will make this one again.

I am submitting this recipe to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted this week by Aquadaze of Served with Love. For some odd reason, I have never taken part in this event or really ever checked it out, even though it just turned two years old. I got a nice comment from PPN's creator, Ruth and decided to take a look. I am glad I did as it is a great event and there are some really yummy looking pasta recipes in every round up. The round up for this week will be posted on 3/27. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happiness is a Bowl of Rambutan...

I know that happiness is supposed to be a warm puppy (at least according to Charles Schulz), and I don't disagree, but for me happiness is also a big bag of fresh rambutan picked up at the KCC Farmer's Market this weekend.

Chilled in the fridge and poured into a favorite bowl, it's the perfect snack. A decent deal at $5.00 for a 2 lb bag, they are grown on The Big Island. If you are not familiar with rambutan, you can read my previous post about them here or what Wikipedia says here.

They are crisp and sweet, similar to a lychee only with more flavor. 

You can make jams or jellies out of them, but they are so delicious to just eat on their own, that I never get a chance to do anything other than just peel and eat them.

I was introduced to rambutan when I used to travel through Asia frequently for work. The hotel I stayed at in The Philippines used to put a small plate of mostly exotic fruit in the rooms each day, with a little book explaining the different fruits. Rambutan quickly became my favorite and I ate it every chance I could get. Once, a co-worker and I bought a huge bag for less than a dollar at the market in Malaysia, (it was the only way they were selling them), and we spent the night before our departure trying to work our way through the bag so as not to waste them. I won't go into details, but an excess of rambutan is like an excess of any fruit and it wasn't a comfortable flight. Since then, I keep my consumption to normal levels. I was excited when I moved to Hawaii, to be able to buy them here when they are in season. 

On my last trip to Portland, I actually found freeze dried rambutan at Trader Joe's for about $3.00 a bag. No sugar, no sulfites, just rambutan. 

Although they are not as tasty as the fresh fruit, they are fun to try.

So although rambutan are a bit strange looking and are not cuddly like a warm puppy, (the "hairs" on them feel a bit like plastic), they still make me happy.


On the subject of exotic fruit; a challenge for today--can you identify the fruit below?  It was a new one for me. I picked up a smaller bag of these little jewels, also from the Big Island at the farmer's market. These beauties, I will be making into something this week. Leave a comment with your guess and I'll let you know the answer tomorrow. You don't get a prize if you are correct, just the intense satisfaction of knowing how truly smart you are!

(Update: The answer is posted in the comments section now. Just in case you want to guess before you read it!)