Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hot Buns In The Summertime

Hot Buns In The Summertime
By Dahlia Haas
Food Styling and Photography by Dahlia Haas and Nurit Aeina

Summer entertaining begins with graduation parties and ends with a glorious Labor Day weekend barbeque. There is much to celebrate in the coming months: romantic weddings, friends and families planning reunions, and tropical stay-cations. If you are vacationing at home this year, set up a grill between the palm trees and sunset. Its paradise and the perfect opportunity to dine alfresco… the setting doesn’t get any better!

For our summer parties, I am making all kinds of island-style sliders: small four-inch Sirloin, Red Veal and Ahi Poke burgers on Miniature Portuguese sweet bread rolls. Tasty and fun to eat, a slider is a 3 bite wonder. The idea to make sliders began to percolate after my neighbor dropped off a few loaves of the soft, homemade, Portuguese Sweet Rolls she was selling. The fragrant, golden buns are the perfect size for a mini slider.

Making small nicely shaped patties to fit the buns can be challenging. Here’s a good technique to make the patties uniform. Find a lid that is slightly bigger than the Portuguese sweet rolls. Line the lid with plastic wrap and lightly pack the meat into it --try not to stuff the lid too tightly. After shaping the burgers, make a small indention in the center of the burger so any toppings, such as grated cheese, won’t slide off.

Burgers are making a comeback. In fact, famous chefs all over America are opening casual dining restaurants featuring their own signature burgers. Truthfully, it is far easier to grill a pile of sliders than standing over a flaming hot barbeque, ‘huli huli’ turning slabs of ribs, steak, and chicken.

Then came the fun part! I created various flavored ketchups and sauces with the condiments I had in the pantry and the refrigerator. Without blinking, I made seven: Pineapple Ketchup, Sesame Miso Sauce, Red Curry Coconut Ketchup, Wasabi Sauce with Black Sesame Seeds, Spicy Mango Chutney Ketchup, Pink Ginger Avocado Sauce and Sweet Chilli Ketchup.

On the buffet table or next to the grill set up multi-colored bowls filled with these new homemade condiments. Build your own sliders, and use your imagination. You can also take heaping spoonfuls of each, dip, dunk, eat and drink! Don’t forget the purists, they want yellow mustard, ketchup, lettuce, pickles, sliced Maui onions, ripe tomatoes and cheese for melting.

There’s a well known saying in Hawaii: “A meal without rice is just a snack”. Try this recipe for Tropical Brown Rice Salad, which is filled with crunchy vegetables and topped with an Asian Pineapple dressing. In the summer, fresh island white corn on the cob is irresistible. Rather than grilled or boiled, try my new favorite method. Oven –roast a dozen cobs in the oven in a large brown paper bag. Before baking, lightly spray the exterior of the bag with cooking oil, so the bag doesn’t burn. Fill it with the shucked corn, brush with melted butter and roast the bagged corn in the oven for about 20 minutes.

To celebrate the second anniversary of Edible Hawaiian magazine, I created a new dessert, a Grilled Pineapple and Coconut Macaroon Ice Cream Sundae Tart. A few days before you plan on making the tart, buy fresh pineapples, twist off the crown and set them root side up on the counter to further ripen. The fruit will be unbelievably sweet, like sugar. Afterwards, keep the crown and plant it in your garden. In two years, you’ll get your own pineapples! Soon your garden will be full of pineapples, the international symbol of hospitality…and just one more reason to celebrate!

The Magic of Tea

The Magic of Tea
By Dahlia Haas
Food Styling and Photography by Dahlia Haas

Listen up. Tea has moved from its home in a four o’clock teapot and emerged as a cutting edge ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes. Bringing tea into the kitchen and out of its familiar role is exciting. Cooking with tea is the hottest new trend to hit the food scene.

These spring time recipes are exotic, spicy and for tea connoisseurs that enjoy cooking, a revelation. Consider Tea-Smoked Chicken with a Sesame Soy Glaze, heart -warming Chocolate Chai Pudding, buttery Earl Grey cookies and a refreshing Green Tea Martini.
Classic tea-smoked chicken is a century’s old tradition in Chinese cuisine. By using a wok lined in foil as a smoker, you can easily do this on your stove. If you are a first -time Chinese smoker be sure to wait until you see thick plumes of smoke in the wok before adding the chicken breasts. This may take 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, the mahogany glazed poultry will be slightly smoked, infused with black tea, brown sugar, black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, whole orange peel and uncooked rice. The smell from the smoking chicken brings family members to the kitchen wondering...What’s burning?” and asking “Amazing …how did you learn that!”

Once the smoke clears, make both desserts! I promise the Mocha Chai Pudding and the Earl Grey cookies will be new favorites. Both of these tea -based desserts are easy to make and an unusual sweet ending to a meal. The rich warm blend of spices steeped into the Mocha Chai Crème Brulee will fill the kitchen with a luxurious fragrance of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. The Earl Grey cookies baked with a little Hawaiian salt are incredible eaten plain, dipped in chocolate or made into ice cream sandwiches. I can’t imagine having a cup of tea without them. Not too sweet or rich, “kind of”a grownup version of Girl Scout Cookies.

If a cup of tea is the ultimate comfort drink, then a Green Tea Martini is the perfect cocktail to end the day. Personally, I like my tea shaken, with friends watching the sunset.