Monday, July 26, 2010


This past weekend we (Whole Foods Market Hawaii) raised some money for the upcoming 30-minute documentary INGREDIENTS Hawai'i on Hawaii's food movement and agriculture.  Knowing where the food you are eating is really from.

We also had a showing of the original film INGREDIENTS at the Doris Duke Theatre on Friday and after watching it again, it made me reevaluate my contribution to Hawaii's local food movement.  I gave myself that challenge about a year ago, about growing most of what I eat.  Should be pretty easy because I live by myself, but I do cook and eat with my friends - a lot!  No sharing right now, but hopefully I will be able to grow enough to share with friends.

So about a month ago, I starting planting, from seeds, vegetables and herbs.  Here is an update of where I am.  I have to say that I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished.

I am able to go to my garden and pick herbs and vegetables to make a beautiful salad.  Or go in the garden to pick herbs to put into something I am cooking.  It is so gratifying to do that and most of all it is so delicious!  So when someone asks me "Who's Your Farmer?", I can say I am!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicken Tagine w/ Preserved Lemons and Olives

I bought my first tagine from The Spanish Table in Seattle.  It was terracotta and made in Spain.  I loved my tagine and made a lot of "non tagine" recipes in it, but also tried many Spanish, Greek, Indian and Moroccan dishes.  A tagine is a large, glazed, earthenware cooking pot with a tall, conical lid.  It is used to prepare delicious simmered dishes.

Today, I am sharing a recipe that I've tweeked a couple of times and think I have the perfect mixture of spices, flavors and textures.

I got the basic recipe from the book "moroccan cafe" - casual moroccan cooking at home by Elisa Vergne, but of course, added my changes.  I hope you like it.

3 chicken thighs
3 chicken drumsticks
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
(mix above ingredients in plastic bag and refrigerate overnight)

1 large onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fresh minced turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dried ground turmeric
1 large cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger
salt and pepper

In a tagine, heat oil, add butter.  When butter foams up add the onions, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and salt.  Cook for 1 minute and add pepper (about 1 teaspoon).

Take onions out.  Place room temperature chicken in tagine, cook for a minute, turn to cover with the sauce, and brown on both sides over medium high heat.

4 cloves of roasted garlic

1/4 cup fresh chopped finely parsley
1/2 cup fresh chopped finely cilantro

1 cup of water

Add onions back, then garlic, parsley, and cilantro.  Add water and mix thoroughly, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.

Remove the chicken.

1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
2 tablespoons almond butter
3 small preserved lemons cut in quarters
1/2 cup olives (kalamata & green)

Reduce the sauce for 2 minutes, then add tomatoes, preserved lemons and olives, cook for another minute.  Add chicken to sauce.  Cook for another 4 minutes.

Serve with quinoa and sauteed kale.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Tairyo" a really fun way to end the week!

After reading Martha Cheng's review of Tairyo in this week's Honolulu Weekly, I needed to try it out myself -

So after work today, my friend and I thought we would try something new, instead of going to an old favorite like "Olive Tree", so we went to Izakaya Tairyo.  It was a good choice, since we had a taste of sake at Whole Foods Market in Kahala.

Like Martha mentions in her article, I've also wondered about that new restaurant on Piikoi with that red koi on it's facade.  It's a great eye catcher!!  I just loved the decor and ambiance of Tairyo - fun, colorful, inviting sounds from the staff and diverse music, homey feel, Japanese character uniforms of the staff, but most of all, the approachability of the entire decor experience.  It really took me somewhere else, instead of a restaurant on Piikoi took me away to a neighborhood restaurant somewhere in Tokyo.  It really felt good being there.  The friendliness and customer service of the staff had a perfect balance of attentive sense of urgency and casualness.

Their menu covered all of the necessary Izakaya needs - sashimi, sushi, fried foods, hot pots, noodles, grilled fish, and desserts.  Besides the regular menu, they had 3 daily specials. 

We started with the Tairyo roll, which was topped with a very generous amount of akura (large salmon roe eggs) and we paired it with a bottle of Kikusu Junmai sake.  We new that the evening was going to be good, because the wasabi that came with the sushi roll was REAL wasabi root!  Without us asking for it.  Awesome.

Then we had the Tairyo Fisherman's Bowl with a dashi broth pot.  This dish was a very comforting one.  The waiter explained to us how to eat it.  "Put a little shoyu, then mix a little, then eat a little.  Then add a little shoyu, if you want, and add a little bit of dashi broth, mix and then taste.  Add more dashi broth or more shoyu to taste."  My friend said that this would be a great "after a night of heavy drinking" dish and I have to agree.  After eating the Tairyo roll, this dish reminded me of a decomposed version of it with dashi broth.  Tip: order only one Tairyo named dish.  I think Tairyo means that it was similar ingredients...akura eggs, raw ahi, nori, wasabi root, rice.

Next we had the mixed tempura plate.  The tempura batter was a light and crispy coating, but with no flavor.  Just a little more salt, after the frying process would have taken the dish to the next level.  This was not one of my favorites.  See the picture below - no color = bland flavor.  The vegetables and seafood was fresh and tasty, but the tempura batter did not enhance the entire dish.  In fact, it brought it down.

Finally, Agedashi Tofu and vegetables.  I have to say this was my favorite dish of the evening.  Flavorful and umami!  I know what was missing from all of the food - UMAMI!  Savory flavors that make your mouth water.

I will surely be back and will order something from the grill, I bet there is Umami on their grilled items.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Perfect Fried Egg

While vacationing in Spain, I discovered the perfectly cooked "sunny side up" fried egg.  I thought it was those happy healthy Spanish hens, but I found out it was the secret steaming part of the cooking process.

It is so simple, but I never knew.

Crack your cage-free hen egg into a hot oiled skillet.

After the edges have turned golden brown, add a teaspoon of water onto the side of the partial fried egg.  The water will start steaming, then cover for approximately one minute.  This will cook the top of the egg to it's perfect doneness.  This is the secret part.

Take cover off and cook for another minute and plate.  Preferably served on a bed of sauteed greens and toasted bread.

Enjoy the perfectly cooked fried egg.  YUM!  The secret is out.....

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cooking with Cedar

I bought a new product "cedar papers" from Whole Foods Market and wanted to try it out.  So when I think of smoking with cedar, I think of cedar plank salmon.  With these cedar papers, you don't have to cook them on the barbeque, you can use a grill pan on your stove.

This is a really simple recipe, but results in big complex flavors....cook to impress!

1 cedar sheet for each piece of fish
olive oil
salmon (or any type of fish you want)
butcher twine

First, soak your plank papers in water for 15 minutes.  I used serving spoons to weigh down the cedar papers to stay down in the water.

Second, I picked herbs from the garden - rosemary and thyme.  Also chopped up some onions and garlic.  Rub your salmon with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

Third, time to assemble your bundles.  Place twigs of rosemary in the center of your cedar paper and place fish on the rosemary, skin side down.  On top of the fish, place onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Close the cedar paper around the fish and tie with butcher twine.  Use to pieces of twine.

Fourth, heat your grill pan until hot.  Place bundles seam side down and cook for 3 minutes.  Cover with a pot lid or like I did, my tagine cover.  Turn bundle around and cook on new side 3 more minutes.  Take bundle off heat and let it rest for 3 minutes, it will continue to cook.  Do not over cook your fish.

It is so easy and it is so delicious.  Try cooking with these great cedar papers, it will make your fish smoky and tasty.  The flavors of the herbs and vegetables will be captured in your fish.  Even the onions were unbelievable.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Another recipe from "My Indian Dinner"

The next recipe I am going to share from "My Indian Dinner" is:

Dal Curry w/ Red Split Pea & Split Mung

First, you will need to make your curry mix.  Making a spice mixture that you can save and use in any future curry dishes you will be cooking.  I would mix the following spices to taste.  If you need a recipe, it would be equal amounts of each, except double on the cumin.

In India, every household has their own masala/curry recipe and will be different from each other.  Here is my own masala/curry recipe - 1 teaspoon of each spice, except 2 teaspoons of cumin.

Red Chili powder
Smoked Paprika
Dry Dill Leaves

You will need the following ingredients for the Dal Curry:
3/4 cup Split Mung
1/4 cup Red Split Pea
1/4 cup ghee
1 large onion
10 cloves garlic minced
10 fresh curry leaves
2 tablespoon masala/curry mix
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves

Wash & soak mung & split peas for 1 hour, set aside.  In a large heated pan, saute onions, garlic & curry leaves in ghee for 2 minutes.  Then add masala/curry mix and cook for another 2 minutes, until spices are toasty.

Add drained mung & split pea mixture to pan and add 4 cups of water.  Boil on low heat until the dal is tender and smooth (about 30 minutes).  At the 15 minute point, add cherry tomatoes.  Stir mixture occasionally, so it does not burn on the bottom of the pan.