Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Day of the Dead Li Hing Mui and Lilikoi Pops

skulllollies004Halloween Eve is always frantic. I’ve got a cooking project, plus costume materials to get ready, and it converges into one evening of ambitious time canoodling and usually, a pretty messy kitchen. I can’t say that this method works for everyone, but it does result in some late night productivity for me.

I live fractiously, about as close as I’ll get to dangerously. My usual “objects are closer than they appear” way of scheduling deadlines combined with deadlines that adhere to their normal pace without much concern for my existence, such as Halloween, give me enough adrenaline to spare.

So that’s why I found myself making four (five? I lost count) batches of lollipops, having never ever done so, on the evening of October 30th. Recipes written by someone else always take troubleshooting or have a learning curve, and I’d certainly discovered by 9pm that the variation in candy making techniques and measurements could not be trusted to be left in Google Search’s hands.

After much error, I think I’ve discovered a combination that works. I’ll take credit for being an example of failed batches. These skull shapes are my favorite, since the seed ends up becoming its brain, but you can use any shaped mold.


Day of the Dead Li Hing Mui and Lilikoi Pops

  • 9-10 4” lollipop sticks
  • 2 molds for lollipops—I used skulls, but round molds will work
  • cooking spray
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2/3 C water
  • 2/3 C light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp citric acid powder
  • 1/2 tsp lilikoi extract
  • 9-10 li hing mui seeds (the ones with the seeds still intact look the most like brains)
  1. Prepare the molds by spraying lightly with the cooking spray. Place a seed in the back of the skull area and the sticks with the end sticking to the halfway point of the mold.
  2. Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small sauce pan and heat until boiling. Do not stir. Insert a cooking thermometer into the sugar syrup and remove the pan from the heat when it reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or alternatively, have a cup of water on the side, and when a drop of the sugar syrup into the water keeps its shape, the candy is ready. Prepare an ice bath for the saucepan when the syrup is getting close to the right temperature.
  3. Immediately plunge the pan into the ice bath up around 2/3 of the sides of the pan (without getting any water inside) and hold it there for 15 seconds. Stir it slightly so it cools evenly.
  4. Remove the pan from the ice bath as long as the candy is not bubbling any longer. Working quickly, pour in the powder and extract. Whisk together quickly until incorporated. If you don’t move quickly, you will lose a lot of the syrup to be stuck to the pan.
  5. Immediately pour the contents into a glass measuring cup with a pour spout. Pour the molten candy into the molds, being careful to put a little sheen over the seed and coat the top of the lollipop stick
  6. Let cool for about 20 minutes before popping them out of their molds.

*Alternatively, you can make vanilla flavored lollipops by omitting the citric acid and substituting 1 tsp vanilla extract for the lilikoi extract.

To clean the pan afterwards, and any utensils coated in sugar syrup, put everything in the pan and fill with water—simmer for a few minutes until the sugar melts.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Ahi Poke Bowl (Paleo Style)


I don’t cook fish.

If I was on Masterchef, and Gordon Ramsey put a fish inside the mystery box, I would just take off my apron and walk out of there. It would be a hugely dramatic moment and Joe would stand there, disgusted, like, “I can’t believe I voted for you.” Then he would just throw my fish in the garbage just for effect.

I prefer my fish raw, and as a rule, I never prepare it myself. I haven’t decided if it’s because I’m scared or if I just really think raw fish is something that should be prepared by professionals.

I’ve broken this rule a couple of times, and I think, for this, that was a good decision. Amaya gave it her thumbs up. She agrees with me on the whole fish thing. pokepaleo005

I created this recipe for Being808, a healthy living blog for HMSA. I’m focusing those articles on island style recipes redone in a paleo way.

Paleo Style Poke

Ahi Poke Bowl

Serves 2

  • · 2/3 lb Ahi
  • · ¼ C sweet onion, sliced
  • · 3 T coconut aminos
  • · 1 garlic clove, minced
  • · 1 t grated ginger
  • · 1 T Anaheim pepper, minced
  • · ½ avocado
  • · 3 green onions
  • · 1 tsp sesame oil
  • · 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • · 3 Tbsp macadamia nuts, chopped
  • · 3 Tbsp 1”carrot shreds (optional—I felt that it added some sweet)

1. In a medium sized bowl, mix the onion, coconut aminos, pepper, garlic, and ginger together. Let marinate while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.

2. Cut the Ahi into cubes (discarding and connective tissue or blood line, if you prefer) that are about ½” square. Add it to the marinating onion and stir well.

3. Cut up the avocado into cubes and mince the green onion, white and light green parts only. Add this to the poke, but do not stir yet. Chop up the macadamia nuts so you get mixed sizes. Just before serving, splash on the sesame oil, sprinkle on the sesame seeds, carrot shreds, and macadamia nuts (I shredded my carrot with a julienne peeler). Stir quickly. Eat immediately or store in the fridge for a few hours.



Friday, October 4, 2013

Warm Octobers and Portuguese Bean Soup with Kale

portuguese bean soup001

The husband does not like soup.

He does not like it here, or there. He does not like it in the 80 degree October Hawaii weather.

I simmer chicken bones on a hot afternoon. Boil ham hocks. Fry Portuguese sausage. Sauté onions. We drip during dinner. Amaya asks for seconds.

I made enough soup to fill a bucket. I’m sweating and slurping for three days.

I will eat it anywhere.

Jake ate the leftovers too. I tried not to mention his change of heart.

This soup is one that shows up in many Hawaii style lunch places. I’ve changed the traditional (to Hawaii) form for one without macaroni noodles and small red beans instead of kidney beans. I also opted to use kale instead of the usual cabbage. The texture is improved, I think. It’s savory, rich, and keeps you warm in any weather.

portuguese bean soup006

Portuguese Bean Soup with Kale

(Makes 10 servings) 3 hours cooking and prep time

  • 8 Cups chicken stock (mine was homemade)
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1 lb sliced ham hock
  • 1 portuguese sausage, sliced 1/4” thick
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced 1/4” thick
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 leaves kale, stems removed and thin sliced
  • 1 15oz can of red beans
  • salt to taste
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  1. Bring the stock and the water to a simmer and add the ham hock. Let it cook, covered, for nearly two hours or until the ham is very tender and can easily be shredded.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the sausage in a saute pan and chop up the vegetables.
  3. Remove the ham from the soup and shred the meat, discarding large pieces of fat and the bone (unless you like the fat. Keep it if you wish.). Return the ham to the soup and add the sausage. 
  4. Add the celery, carrots, and onion to the soup. Simmer for about 15 minutes longer. Add the kale and potatoes to the pot. Stir and simmer until the potato is tender. Pour in the beans and spoon in the tomato paste. Season with salt. Stir and cook until the flavors are rich enough to bite the back of your throat, about 10 minutes longer. Serve.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fudgy Brownies

grainfreebrownies004Are these grain free? Yes.

Are they healthy? No.

Do they taste healthy? Heck no.

I wouldn’t be eating the whole pan if they did.

You know how some people stick their non-fat vegan paleo allergen-free desserts in your face and say, “This is the most delicious food ever and when you eat it, you will vomit rainbows?” grainfreebrownies007

Let me just tell you, everyone vomits rainbows. Pukey looking rainbows.

You, however, will want to keep these in your tummy, even if you do feel a little sick from eating 6 brownies, like me.

I made some health-IER substitutions, but don’t go thinking I think it’s diet food. I’m not one of those people who adds coconut sugar and thinks “It’s ok to eat 6 brownies, it’s got healthy sugar in it.”

(Ok, maybe I do, but I know I’m lying.)

These really are the best brownies I’ve ever made that don’t come from a famous-brand box you buy at Costco. Slightly more work, but you’ll be so proud of yourself for coming close to that box. grainfreebrownies002

Grain Free, Super Dark, Fudgy Brownies (adapted from Martha Stewart)

(makes 16 brownies) 20 minutes prep time, 30-35 minutes baking time.

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C plus 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 scant C tapioca flour (if you don’t care about being grain free, use cornstarch)
  • 1/4 C dark cocoa powder (I used extra brute)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper (butter the sucker a little first so the parchment paper stays in place).

2. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and the butter in 30 second spurts, stirring after each round. They should be completely and perfectly melted after stirring the second time, and if not, go for another 15 seconds and try again.

3. Stir in coconut sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla too.

4. In a small bowl, sift or whisk together the tapioca flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the flour to the chocolate and stir vigorously for 2 minutes. The batter should be dark and smooth with no streaks or lumps.

5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Check with a sharp knife—the brownies should be moist but not totally dry either. If the toothpick or knife comes out with a few crumbs, that’s ok, but not batter laden.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Then use the parchment paper to take the brownies out of the pan and cut them into 16 squares.

(These are probably, in my opinion, even better cold, the next day. But if you think that’s going to happen, you should make a double batch in a 9x12 pan.)


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Grain Free Blueberry and Lime Muffins


Paleo and me, we’ve been flirting lately.

I’ll go home with some cookies, and then wake up to grain-free muffins.

It’s not such a healthy relationship, but we’re trying to work it out. paleoblue2

I always measure by the standards of my first food marriage, which was not grain free. So if the muffins I make taste as good as the real deal muffins, then they’re worth my time. Don’t waste your time on anything else. You’re far too valuable for hockey puck muffins, and who cares if they promise fancy things like macronutrients.

These are real deal muffins. The kind that will raise your children. Amaya ate three after breakfast.



Blueberry and Lime Muffins

makes 9 muffins-- Prep time: 25 min

  • 1/2 C Coconut Sugar (you can substitute with regular sugar, if you like)
  • 1 C almond flour
  • 1/4 C coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 C almond milk
  • lime zest from one small lime (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 3/4 C blueberries
  1. Prepare a muffin tin by greasing the cups or lining with paper cups. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix the coconut sugar, flours, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, almond milk, and lime zest. Mix with a whisk. It will be very thick.
  3. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula. Divide the batter into 9 muffin tins. I used an ice cream scoop for this.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes. You’ll see that the muffins have firmed up and have just slight browning around the edges and tops. Serve while hot

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Jalapeno Bacon Jam

Jalapeno bacon jamWalking out of a big box store having just spent half of your monthly budget on maybe a week of groceries is painful.

I could have spent less. Much less.

At one point the thought crossed my mind that I should buy this prepared already breadcrumbed-dredged chicken tender because it works out to $2 per pound, and the unprepared work-dredged organic chicken breast is more like $6 million per pound.

I may be exaggerating on that last part.

But just in case you meet anyone who says it’s cheaper to eat healthy, well, you can laugh and show them my receipt. 

Cooking food is now like sewing clothes—it’s more expensive to make your own than buy them premade.

Well, I’ll tell you, it’s worth it anyway.

Jalapeno Bacon Jam

(Makes about 1 ½ Cups)

  • · 7 slices bacon, about ½ lb.
  • · 3 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed
  • · ½ onion
  • · ½ green bell pepper
  • · 1 C sugar
  • · ½ C brown sugar
  • · 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • · ¼ C maple syrup
  • · 1 tsp salt
  • · 2/3 C strong coffee or coffee substitute (the prepared liquid drink, not the grounds)

1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, and fry the bacon until cooked, but not too dark or crispy. While the bacon is cooking, put the jalapeno, onion, and green bell pepper in a food processor and pulse until minced, about 10 1-second pulses. You can use half the amount of jalapeno if you want it to be less spicy.

2. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Pour off all but a Tablespoon of the bacon fat and sauté the peppers until softened and the onions are golden.

3. Dice the bacon into ¼” pieces. Add the bacon, sugar, brown sugar, vinegar, syrup, and salt back into the pan. Stir constantly over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Add the coffee or coffee substitute and stir again.

4. Simmer the jam until it thickens and gets sticky, about 20 minutes. It will stiffen more as it cools, and even more so in the fridge, so make sure it is very syrupy.

5. Let the jam cool for about 20 minutes and transfer to the food processor. Pulse until the pieces are smaller and the jam is smoother and melds together better, about 5 1-second pulses. It should be of a spreadable consistency.

6. Use immediately or store in the fridge for an undetermined amount of time. If your jar makes it past three days, let me know and I’ll come finish it for you. If for some reason it is too thick to spread, you can heat it up in the microwave to soften it.


Monday, July 15, 2013

German Chocolate Cake, Momofuku Style, and a recipe for Pecan Crunch


So many people love a German Chocolate Cake, and it has never been my favorite, until I reimagined it. It’s not really that chocolatey, and sometimes the nuts get in my way, but I won’t say no to a slice.

Then there was that time I made two of them in one week. (I won’t tell you how many slices I should have said ‘no’ to.).

Making cakes like this bring out the kid in me. I am always totally inspired by Christina Tosi’s recipes and even though it takes hours and hours to make one cake, I am always thrilled with it.

I’ve been having fun playing around with the Momofuku recipes and design, and this week I made an Oreo flavored cake for Amaya’s birthday.

Lucky for me Tosi’s chocolate crunch recipe just tastes like Oreo cookie crumbs.


The Layers:

*German Chocolate cake and frosting, minus the pecans in the frosting, and I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. You could probably use your favorite recipe. Bake it in a quarter sheet pan lined with a silpat.

*Chocolate Ganache layer (Guittard dark chocolate chips melted in the microwave with a touch of cream) 16 oz chocolate, 1 C heavy cream. Salt if you like a teensy bit.

I can’t take credit for the recipes, except one, which was still inspired by the Tosi genius

*Pecan Crunch (inspired by hazlenut crunch) (RECIPE)

germanchocolate002Make pecan brittle;

  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 3/4 C pecans

1. Line a sheet pan with a silpat. The silpat is necessary, here, folks. Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. As it melts, stir it around constantly with a heatproof spatula. The sugar will turn into a caramel—dark amber. Take it off before it burns—It will happen quickly—about 3-4 minutes.

2. Stir in the nuts, coat them well, and dump it out quickly onto the silpat. Spread it out as evenly as possible! Let it cool.

3. Break it up into smaller pieces. Grind the brittle in the food processor until it’s the size of short-grain rice. Eat some. Because it’s good.

Make the crunch

  • 1/2 C Biscoff Spread
  • 1/2 C pecan brittle (pulverized)
  • 1 1/4 C feuilletine (I made my own from scratch from Brave Tart’s recipe)  Snackalicious.
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt

Combine the spread, brittle, feuilletine, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Paddle on low speed until evenly mixed and the crunch is in little, amazingly edible clumps. If you’re me, you immediately make the rest of your brittle into this crunch, because you “accidentally” ate most of the first batch. Store in a ziploc bag in the freezer. It’s great in a compost cookie.

Assemble the layers. You’ll need a cake ring (6”), and acetate strips. I bought both on-line). I have a spool of acetate strips 3” wide that will last me until the end of forever.

1. Stamp out three cake layers with your ring. One will be a whole circle, one will be half and half circle, and the other will be edges of the circle and filled in with the leftover pieces.

2. Line the cake ring with an acetate strip. Place the pieces of the most fragmented cake on the bottom. Brush the cake with about 3 Tbsp of milk.

3. Spread a layer of ganache (not too thick), sprinkle on 1/3 of the crunch. Spread 1/3 of the frosting over the crunch.

Cut a second strip of acetate and tuck it in between the ring and the first acetate strip so that you’re extending the acetate to hold in the next 2 layers of cake.

4. Put on the second layer of cake (the 2 half circles) and repeat.

5. Save the whole layer of cake for the last. Don’t brush this one with milk. Put just the frosting and a sprinkle of the crunch on the top.

FREEZE the cake for at least 6 hours. Better if you do this overnight or even a whole day. Pull it out a few hours before eating, pop it out of the mold, pull off the acetate, and let it defrost in the fridge for a few hours.

Email me if you have questions about this. It takes a little practice. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to use a quarter sheet pan (which is half the size of my cookie sheets) for the cake.

Also, if you want to make a 10 inch cake, you’ll need to triple the recipe for the cake, double it for the fillings/frostings. I bake the cake in one full sheet pan AND a quarter sheet pan. You’ll have some left over cake pieces, which are great for making cake truffles.