Friday, November 19, 2010

Crispy Crunchy Things

Crispy, cheesy things to eat are a personal weakness of mine. I never, ever resist anything that's crunchy and baked with a flavorful cheese. These crispy crackers are the bomb. Bake a tray of these right before everyone arrives, your house will smell heavenly!

Crispy Cheese Crackers

Yield about 11 dozen crackers

2 ½ (12 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups puffed rice cereal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cheese and butter together on medium speed. Add 2 cups of the flour, the pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and mix until well combined. Add the cereal and use your hands to combine it thoroughly with the flour mixture. (The electric mixer will crush the cereal too much.)

Combine the remaining ¼ cup flour and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Use your hands to roll the dough into balls about the size of fresh cherries. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Dip the tines of a dinner fork into the flour mixture and press each ball down with a fork. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool. The crackers will keep in an for a week in an airtight tin.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Savory Thanksgiving Pre -Dinner Snacks

Here are two great snacks to set out while everyone is cooking the Thanksgiving meal in your kitchen. Better than cheese and crackers, these recipes can be made in advance. I find most everyone tries not to eat much until turkey time. I, on the other hand want something good to munch on during a day of non-stop cooking.

I love homemade pickled vegetables especially this recipe for Pickled Pink Heart of Palm. We find fresh heart of palm easily on the Hawaiian islands. You don't have to live in Hawaii to procure them. You can order them from your local grocer or contact Melissa's Foods which is a good source for many exotic ingredients.

Pickled Pink Heart of Palm

These are my invention and I love them! They are yummy eaten straight from the jar, added to a salad and skewered with other vegetables, like a kabob. Wrap some thinly sliced ahi crudo around these guys and you’ll have a beautiful pupu to share with friends.
It’s always better to do your own preserving because you can add your signature spices and make them your own!

2 pounds fresh hearts of palm
1 small beet, raw, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, whole
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar

Place hearts of palm in a wide mouth jar. Slice beet into ¼ inch thick slices. Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, make hearts from the beet slices. Set aside.

Place garlic cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf in the jar with the hearts of palm.
Heat water and salt in a small saucepan until salt is dissolved (see Note.) Add vinegar. Pour enough of the liquid into jar to cover hearts of palm and to fill jar. If necessary, add more salted water, allowing one tablespoons salt for every 2 cups of liquid. Add beet hearts. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Taste to check if hearts of Palm are flavorful enough; and pickling will they take at least 4 days. They keep up for up to 2 weeks.

Note: For faster pickles, bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add vinegar.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, I'll post many more great the next few weeks, promise.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A New Beginning for Everyone

Celebrations ~

Good Times ~Parties ~Get-together

I am thinking about our move to Kauai. How do I pack everything I think I'll need for a year on an island? And not take too much. Flip flops and shorts, One suitcase. No over the knee boots or fur vests, not this year. No animal print or a new fab bag. The pointy toe shoes and stilettos are staying in LA. Say goodbye to dinners in chef's restaurants and hello to cooking at home. Thank goodness I love to cook and party. Stock up on candles, shampoo,sunscreen and beauty products.
Next to my kids and Andy, my cookbooks are my lifeline, which ones go and which stay? A tough decision and another blog.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shrimp Habachi Salad Kauai, HI

~ Hibachi Shrimp Salad Recipe
Hibachi Shrimp Salad with a Barbeque Guava Glaze

This is an easy Pupu to assemble and fun to serve for a cocktail party. Everyone has a favorite barbeque sauce in their pantry, don’t hesitate to use it for this recipe.
Makes 4 Servings

1 cup barbeque Sauce, bottled
½ cup guava jam
4 tablespoons Teriyaki Sauce
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (16-20 size)

5 cups mixed local greens, lolla rossa, red oak, mizuna and tai soi- washed and well dried
society garlic flowers for garnish
Macadamia Nut Vinaigrette, see recipe below

Combine the barbeque sauce, guava jam and teriyaki sauce in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add shrimp and marinate in the barbeque, guava sauce overnight or 4 hours.

Remove shrimp from the marinade and light the grill. When hot, sear the shrimp on all sides for about 5-6 minutes total depending on the hotness of the grill. Do not over -cook or the shrimp will be rubbery.

Combine all of the salad ingredients including the society garlic flowers in a large salad bowl. Lightly toss with enough vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Divide the greens among four salad plates and top with the grilled shrimp.

Macadamia Nut Vinaigrette

¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Rice vinegar, seasoned
1 teaspoon salt
freshly black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
2 cups or less Macadamia nut oil, or any flavored oil

Whisk all the ingredients together, except for the oil. Slowly whisk in the Macadamia nut oil until well combined. Adjust the seasoning as needed.

Shrimp on Foodista

Edible Summer Flowers

~Tomato Arugula Tart Recipe

Tomato Arugula Pupu Tarts
Makes 10 tarts

2 refrigerated prepared pie crust, cut into 10-3inch discs
8 ounces Puna goat cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons basil, chopped
2 tabelspoons thyme leaves, de-stemmed and minced
3 tablespoons Macadamia nut oil
1 pint tomatoes (such as cherry, pear or heirloom) cut in half
1 cup arugula flowers or nasturtiums, cilantro flowers and kale flowers for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F.
Bring pie crusts to room temperature. Gently unroll the crusts on a lightly floured board. Cut into
10-3 inch discs with a cookie cutter and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Prick each disc
well with a fork and bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. When done, remove the pan from
oven and let cool completely on a cookie rack.
Place goat cheese, basil, thyme and oil in a small bowl and stir well with a spatula to combine the ingredients. Divide the goat cheese mixture among the baked shells, lightly spreading the mixture with a spatula, being careful not to break them. Press the halved tomatoes into the goat cheese and garnish each with the arugula flowers or any edible flowers.

The Garden of Eating

By Dahlia Haas
Photography and Food Styling by Dahlia Haas and Nurit Aeina

Around this time last year, my vegetable garden morphed into a crazy display of vegetables and herbs gone wild. Almost everything I planted in early spring and late winter burst into flower and seed. Waist high arugula, topped with bushy pale white flowers grew with abandon. Broccoli plants, hid under pillows of sweet yellow broccoli flowers. Towering tumbleweeds of flowering cilantro marked the corners my garden making a natural fence.

This year, I have a new attitude. I’m creating summery recipes with the micro flowers sprouting from the culinary herbs and vegetables. The Hibachi Shrimp Salad, redolent of guava and mild garlic is startlingly beautiful garnished with sprigs of lavender society garlic. In fact, toss colorful edible blossoms such as nasturtiums and the flowers from Mexican tarragon and cilantro along with pale blue borage flowers and sunny calendula petals into all your salads. With so many herbs woven through each recipe, the flavors will surprise you. Tomato Arugula Pupu Tarts made with thyme and basil scented Puna goat cheese, topped with local multi-colored small tomatoes and sprinkled with sweet arugula flowers, are as pretty as wedding bouquets.

Like bright pearls, the orange blossom on the citrus trees is the driving force behind Orange Blossom Doughnuts. Drizzled with warm lavender honey they are easy to make using a cream puff dough recipe. This dessert is not complete without a long, tall Caramel Kona Coffee Float. Pass these around at your next party! After all, who doesn’t love fresh homemade doughnuts and a fancy coffee!

Sturdy and abundant the island tropical, heliconia, antherium, orchid and ginger are clearly the kings and queens of the flower kingdom. In my world of food, the tiny buds and edible flowers that show up in my summer garden will not be taken for granted anymore. However small and delicate, these gems have moved up to grace these eye catching recipes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A coconut snack recipe

On the road between the Princeville Gym and our house in Kauai is an amazing roadside fruit stand. They sell homegrown fruits and vegetables and fresh island coconuts. Everyday, I stop for an ice cold, freshly cracked coconut. Each one is full of water, rehydrating, cooling and good for your kidney. Forgot the latte, this is my Starbucks, island-style.

Last week, the owner shared a sweet new recipe. After drinking the wonderful coconut water, crack the coconut in half with a hammer. Scoop out the coconut meat place it on a sheet pan. Drizzle with maple syrup and a sprinkle of black lava salt. It takes about 30 minutes at 350F. A yummy snack.
I used to save the coconuts to throw at the screaming roosters in the bushes that wake us up at 5am. One night, a herd of mountain pigs having a party, got a load of coconuts. I was hoping to scare them off. They left...I'm sorry I wasted all those coconuts on them. I could be snacking on my new favorite thing to eat!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What I Learned from Making Granola

When the freezer is filled with too many nuts and the snack drawer is bulging with bags of half eaten raisins, dried cranberries and blueberries, goji berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried figs and apricots, containers of dates, apple chips and shredded coconut, it's time to make a big batch of Little D's Granola..

Without a recipe, making granola is a mind game. The game is your mind asking all sorts of questions you must address to produce a great batch of granola. It gets tricky if you want to add-in raisins, goji berries, dried fruit, pine nuts, sugar, agave syrup. Each added ingredient requires a quick decision.
"Do I add the raisins and goji berries before or after baking?" "
"Should I wait or add the dried fruit now before baking? "
"Toast the pine nuts before I add them?"
"Will the pine nuts add an oily flavor?"
"Do I really need to add sugar? "
"Can the granola brown in the oven without sugar or butter? "
"If I use honey, should I heat it first?"
An endless stream of questions. This time a small voice inside my head was overly concerned about the add-ins. The little voice of reason was gently asking me not to throw everything in at once. Reminding me, "Remember the burnt raisins and the sugar didn't dissolve from the last batch."
This time, because I took my time and worked with my inner chef. This batch of granola was the best yet. It browned beautifully, the raisins, cranberries and blueberries were added when the granola came out of the oven. The pine nuts, wonderful and not greasy in the least. And I learned... when I cook, I am never alone..

Little D's Granola Deluxe

I like to use the empty oatmeal can as a measuring vessel for the nuts, coconut and the dried berries and fruit. Then toss everything into a big bowl, no need to use a small 1 cup measuring cup for these ingredients.Granola is a good gift to share with loved ones and friends. Wrap the granola in canning jars with a pretty ribbon. Your friends will appreciate it so much!

1 can quick cooking oats, Quaker Oaks brand
1 can mixed nuts,to include pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, almonds,
1/4 cup honey or agave heated with 3 T cinnamon

1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 can shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
2T coarse salt

3/4 can filled with mixed dried fruit to include raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, diced apricots, minced dates,

Combine all the the ingredients together, in a large bowl except the dried fruits and dried berries, bake the granola mixture on sheet pans lined with parchment paper till golden brown about 30 -40minutes on 325F. When done remove granola from the oven.

Add 3/4 can of mixed dried fruit to include raisins, cranberries, blueberries, apricots. Mix well with a large spoon.
Granola keeps well in the refrigerator.

I like to fill canning jars with my granola to give away as party favors or for a take home gift after a Sunday brunch party.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Full Remodel, Secret Beach House Kauai Feb 22, 2010

I'm back in LA.. Just spent 10 days in Kauai with hubby, Andy working on plans to remodel our beach house. Oh's daunting and a lot to think about. We own a nine bedroom house on Secret Beach on the north shore of Kauai, we call the Dali Hale."
Before we bought the house, this home was a bed and breakfast and spiritual retreat center for many, many years. We have owned it for seven summers, now it's time for us to make it our own. Hence, "The Full Remodel" is my story. A tale of my experience. It's starts with this magical house, "The Dali Hale" and how we'll navigate our life and our twenty-five year marriage.
We have shared this amazing home with other families and friends over the years. Families travel from near and far to celebrate weddings, birthdays and wedding anniversaries. The beach below the Dali Hale is gorgeous. The house is a Hawaiian plantation home with a wrap-around lanai. Hammocks hang from every corner
The first piece of art I bought for the Dali Hale was a giant golden Buddha that hangs in the great room. This golden Buddha, with his peaceful smile and big sleepy eyes says it all. "Come in, let go, rest, rejuvenate, relax."
I am a cooking teacher, a chef and and food photographer. I write a quarterly food column for an award winning magazine, Edible Hawaiian Islands. Cooking is my true passion. Being in the kitchen, grounds me. Having a party makes me happy. I love to cook, even on vacation. Cooking in Kauai, is where I gain the most inspiration.
When we bring our friends to Kauai, everyone brings favorite recipes. We cook like crazy. Mostly, we get a little carried away with the cooking and we exhaust ourselves. No one wants to do the dishes after dinner. That's the worst part. The best part is shopping at the farmers markets and creating island- style meals.
First thing I did this trip was a make a big batch of extra strong iced green tea. The coco man showed up with 4 gallons of fresh coconut water fresh from our coco palms. Because I could, I spiked the tea with a bottle of peach schnapps, coconut syrup, and added some of the fresh coconut water, and a little Malibu rum too. Well, well, it was refreshing and certainly lightened up our day! I wanted to rim the glasses with a mix of sugar and Hawaiian salt. Didn't...We were in meetings all day with architects and contractors. Everyone was smiling, it was a nice way to get the project underway.