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!

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