Fresh Herbs – Buying and Storing

Cooking, Hawaiian Living

Fresh HerbsHawaii has good soil and weather to grow fresh herbs all year ’round.  I don’t really have a green thumb, so I only have rosemary and Chinese chives, which don’t require much more care than sun and water in the yard.

Local farmers markets are the best place to buy fresh herbs because they have been cut and sold in days or hours, not weeks like some of the herbs in the grocery store.  And they are less expensive, which is always a bonus here in Hawaii!

Looking at all the fresh herbs and you think to yourself, “Self, I can’t possibly use all those herbs all at once!”  Buy them.  There are a few ways to store and keep those herbs for the next time you need them.

If you are going to be using your herbs over the next few days, you can rinse and cut, then put them in jars or vases with water and keep them on your kitchen counter (see above photo). At the end of the day, put them in the refrigerator and they will keep 3-4 days.  You can also put plastic bags over the jars of herbs, which will help them stay fresh 1-2 days longer.

You can also rinse your herbs and wrap them in paper towels, then put them in plastic bags to store in your vegetable drawer, if you don’t have space for the jars.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Now that you have used the herbs and you still have a good amount left, you can dry them and keep them in jars.  Store bought dried herbs are non-existent in my house.

To dry your herbs:

  • Warm up your oven on the lowest temperature for about 5 minutes and turn it off.
  • Take the leaves off the stems, if they have pliable stems (basil, mint,) and put on paper towel lined wire racks. If the herbs have firm stems (rosemary, thyme), they can be left on the stem and taken off after they have dried.

    Herbs Ready for Drying

    Herbs Ready for Drying

  • Place rack in the warmed oven and let dry for 2 hours.  I check after 30 minutes to make sure the herbs are not too hot, then again after the 2 hours.  I usually leave the herbs overnight.
  • If you don’t want to do the oven method, you can also leave the herbs on the rack and dry them on the counter in the sun.  I like this method, but it can take 2-5 days for the herbs to be dry.
  • Place the dried herbs in air-tight containers and don’t forget to label the herbs.  I’m not the only one who cooks in our house and there have been several close calls.
    Dried Herbs

    Dried Herbs

    It’s always nice to cook with fresh herbs, they add flavor and color to your recipes.  When you use the dried herbs that you dried yourself, you will notice a difference from the store bought dried herbs in your recipes, too

Peace and poi!

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Kitchen Tool Tips – Knives

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Henckles Knives

Henckles Knives

Often overlooked is the kitchen knife.  Home cooks tend to use whatever they find at the department store or even a big box store.  This is not necessarily a bad knife, but once you use a professional chef’s knife in your kitchen, you will wonder why no one told you about his sooner!

Since I have been in the food service industry, I have supplied my friends advice and equipment to make their lives easier in their kitchens at home.  15 years ago, I gave one of my best friends a Wusthof knife that she has taken care of and still uses as her favorite kitchen tool to this day.  After she had used it the first time, she could not believe she had gone all these years with knives she had inherited from her mother and grandmother.

Wusthof Knives

Wusthof Knives

My favorite knife for home and professional use is the Wusthof “Super Slicer”.  It is the fifth knife from the left in the above picture, after the cleavers.  This knife has a thin, scalloped serrated edge that will slice through anything.  It makes the thinnest slices of bread, see-through slices of gravlax, it will peel and slice melons, and it carves meat thick or thin.

Morimoto Knives

Morimoto Knives

One good serrated knife, paring knife, and chef knife (8″ to 10″) will take care of most jobs in the kitchen for home cooking.  These knives might be a little pricey, but with proper care they will last a lifetime.  A sharpening steel will help keep them from getting too dull, but they will need to be professionally sharpened at least every two to three months, depending on how much you cook at home.

When storing your knives, keeping them in a wood block is good, if you would rather keep them in a drawer, you can get knife guards that cover the blades so that they can be stored safely. Do not wash you knives in the dishwasher!  The high heat and chemicals can damage the blade and warp the handles.  Always hand wash separately, do not put into the sink the other dirty dishes, in case someone else washes or you forget the knife is in the sink.  Dry the knives immediately and make sure they are completely dry before storing them.

Fissler Knives

Fissler Knives

If you can, buying from a restaurant supply store or a kitchen supply store will give you the best selection.  And gun stores.  We have one local gun store that has a nice selection of professional kitchen knives. Who knew?

Aloha and happy cooking!

Garlic Hawaiian Prawns

Cooking, Hawaiian Living

Fresh Hawaiian Deep Sea PrawnsThese are Hawaiian Deep Sea Prawns. They are only sold whole, with head and shell on. If you like shrimp, you will love these prawns.  They can be expensive, but the taste is worth it.  And the only way to enjoy them is with minimal seasonings and very little cooking.

This is one way I love to eat these prawns:

1#        Hawaiian Prawns

6 ea     Garlic Cloves, Chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt

Coarse Ground Pepper

Lemon Wedges

Put the prawns in a large bowl and toss with garlic, olive oil (to coat), salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for one hour to overnight.  *Note: I use the salt sparingly because the prawns are flash frozen straight from the ocean and they retain a bit of that saltiness when defrosted. Also, they are IQF, so you can cook them from frozen for this recipe.

From this point, you can grill them on a bbq, roast them in the oven, or sauté them on the stove.  Any of the methods works well, just make sure not to cook them until they dry out. 10 minutes by any of the cooking methods would be long enough.

Garlic Hawaiian Prawns

The prawns pictured here, were roasted under the broiler for about 6 minutes, then they were turned over a roasted for about another 3 minutes.  They are juicy, sweet, and melt in your mouth.  I do like to eat the head, too. And the shells can be saved to make shrimp bisque.  Locals don’t like to waste, it comes from Island living with limited resources.

A taste of aloha in your home from the Islands, enjoy!

Avocado Chive Hummus with Roasted Cauliflower and Asparagus

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Chive Avocado Hummus with Roasted Cauliflower and Asparagus

Avocado Chive Hummus with Roasted Cauliflower and Asparagus

Avocados are one of my favorite ingredients to cook with and to eat! There are local avocados available year ’round, but they are best in the summer time.  And what better way to eat them but in hummus?  This hummus is good for sandwiches, as an appetizer (see picture above), and as a side dish.

Ingredients:

Ingredients for Chive Avocado Hummus

Ingredients for Avocado Chive Hummus

1 15.5 oz Can Garbanzo Beans (Liquid Reserved)

1/2 Medium Avocado

3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 TBS Chives, Chopped

2 TBS Lemon Juice

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

2 ea Garlic Cloves

TT Salt and Pepper

Pulse the ingredients in food processor or blender, except for 1 TBS of the chives, the garbanzo liquid, and the salt and pepper.  After pulsing, add liquid a couple tablespoons at a time until you get the consistency you like.  Then season with salt and pepper, to taste. After you take out the hummus, fold in the rest of the chives. This adds a little texture to the hummus and their color looks nice.

TIP*: The chives I used are Chinese garlic chives, they are stronger than regular chives and they are flat, not tubular.  If you can’t find either, green onion can be substituted.

The platter I made with the roasted cauliflower and asparagus is easy and quick to prepare for a side dish or an appetizer platter for bbq or picnic.  Slice the cauliflower whole, after cutting the bottom leaves off, about 1/2″ thick.  Then put them on a sheet pan with the asparagus and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over all of them.  Then turn the vegetables around to coat them with the oil and season with coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt.  Roast under the broiler for about 7 minutes, check them and take out the asparagus and broil the cauliflower about another 3 minutes.  You can also grill the vegetables on the bbq or on a grill pan.

The leftover cauliflower and asparagus can be made into sandwiches with the hummus.  And if you made the hummus and/or the vegetables for a bbq, add in any left over meat, fish, or chicken for a really hearty sandwich.

Live and eat with aloha everyday!

Aloha Friday

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Music at the HaleKulani

Music at the Halekulani

BBQ at Kahala Beach Park

BBQ at Kahala Beach Park

Happy Aloha Friday!  In Hawaii every Friday is Aloha Friday, it means the end of the traditional work week and there is “no work ’til Monday”. The quote is from a song about what Aloha Friday is, so you know that it’s serious if someone wrote a song about it!

This also means for some local businesses that it’s aloha dress day.  Men wear aloha shirts instead of the traditional button-down shirts, suits and ties.  The women wear muumuus or dresses in aloha patterns instead of the usual business suits.

Locals take their weekends very seriously.  It’s a time for family to reconnect, spend time together and to see friends.  This is why on weekends, the freeways are still busy with traffic!  The beaches and parks are full and you can smell barbeques and smokers going full blast.

Rainbow and Surf off Waikiki Beach

Rainbow and Surf off Waikiki Beach

Enjoy your Aloha Friday where ever you may be!

Food for the Soul

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Lechon on a Spit

Lechon on a Spit

Today my Auntie reminded me that it is my grandmother’s birthday.  She passed away only a few years ago and we still can taste her cooking as if it was yesterday. My auntie said she missed “Lola’s soul food”. She continued, “While “soul food” is usually used to describe African American cooking, “soul food” is color blind, and to me it simply means generational cooked passed on through loving family relationships.

Most people have recipes for their family’s “soul food”, but everyone has memories of the “soul food” prepared for family meals.  My siblings and I were lucky because both of my parents could cook.  Unfortunately, they never wrote anything down and didn’t refer to any cookbooks.  To this day, my sister still asks me for my mother’s sweet & sour sauce recipe, which I only know because I had watched her make it so many times.

There is always one “soul food” recipe that when you make it or you smell someone else’s version of it, it will bring back the memories of family meals and the love that was shared by all that gathered at the table.

Here is one of my “soul food” memories:

Adobong Manok – Chicken Adobo

3#       Chicken Pieces (Thighs, Whole Cut Fryer, etc.)

1/2 c   Soy Sauce

3/4 c   Apple Cider Vinegar

10 ea  Garlic Cloves, Crushed

2″ pc   Ginger, Sliced

2 ea    Bay Leaves

2 tsp   Whole Black Peppercorns

Salt to taste

Except for the salt, bring all ingredients to a boil and then simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and let simmer for another 10 minutes.  Add salt, if needed, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove chicken and strain sauce into a serving bowl, add chicken into bowl and enjoy.

Shave Ice vs. “Snow Cone”

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Pineapple and Cherry  Shave Ice

Pineapple and Cherry
Shave Ice

“Snow cone” is like a four-letter (albeit two four-letter words) to many locals.  If you try to order a “snow cone” you might be turned away or at the very least, corrected like a Catholic school girl, minus the black dress.

In Hawaii there is shave ice available year ’round and on every Island.  The Big Island (Hawaii) it is called “ice shave”, but it is made the same way, no matter what it is called.  This local favorite can be customized with a “rainbow” of flavors or by adding ice cream, azuki beans (sweet red beans), sweetened condensed milk (snow cap), li hing powder (Chinese licorice powder) or mochi.

There are so many places to get shave ice on Oahu.  Since I am not Yelp, though I have tried a lot of different shave ice here on Oahu and one or two on the Big Island, I would check out what the locals like and try one or two of those first.  I have reviewed some of my favorites on Yelp, if you click my Yelp link, you can browse some of my reviews.

With so many places to get shave ice, you also get many different styles of shave ice. The basics are ice, flavored syrups, and/or the add-ins mentioned above. Japanese style shave ice tends to use a slushy, larger sized ice with a lot of syrup, almost like shave ice soup.  Local style is fine, soft ice and it can be made with the traditional flavored syrups or with house-made syrups made with local fruits and ingredients.  On a hot, humid day (read: everyday in Hawaii!) any style is refreshing.

Spicy Edamame Spread

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Spicy Edamame Spread

Spicy Edamame Spread

Hummus means garbanzo beans in Arabic, hence the “edamame spread” title for this recipe. There are no garbanzo beans in this recipe, this is a local take on “hummus”.  Besides the edamame, I’ll be using toasted sesame oil in place of the traditional tahini.

One of my favorite local seasonings, and I believe under used, is alaea salt. Alaea is Hawaiian sea salt mixed with red clay. It will give an earthy taste to the edamame and bring out their flavor. Alaea salt is great on roasted meats, grilled fish, baked chicken, and roasted vegetables. Or in edamane spread…Here’s the recipe:

SPICY EDAMAME SPREAD

2 Cups Shelled Edamame

4 Oz. Water or No Salt Vegetable Stock

2 Tbls. Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar

1 Tbls. Toasted Sesame Oil

2 tsp. Sambal (Chili Garlic Paste)

1 1/2 tsp. Low Sodium Shoyu

1 tsp. Alaea or Kosher Salt

I use a Nutribullet, but a blender or food processor works fine. If using the blender or food processor, add all the ingredients to the bowl then start with pulsing before blending until smooth. Half way through, scrape the sides and finish blending.

Spicy Edamame Spread Ingredients

Spicy Edamame Spread Ingredients

The spread can be used as a dip for roasted or fresh vegetables, as a spread for sandwiches (grilled ahi steaks, edamame spread, red onion, tomatoes, arugala, on your favorite bread), or on the side with roasted chicken, pork, or beef.

Leave me comments on how you use this recipe.

Peace and poi…

Aloha! E komo mai (Welcome) to a new blog about local cooking, eating, and the lifestyle here in Hawaii.

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I am excited to share recipes, kitchen shortcuts, restaurant reviews, and the lifestyle that local people here in Hawaii enjoy. There will be plenty of information for visitors and locals alike available from this blog.

Just yesterday, I had lunch at Koko Head Café in Kaimuki with a family friend and we were talking about people saying hello or good morning when out for a walk. I walk about five days out of the week and 90 percent of the people I pass verbalize a greeting or smile.  My friend lives on the Mainland, in a coastal town (I believe that living near the ocean makes people friendlier; wink, wink), and when I told her that people actually say, “Good Morning!”, she couldn’t believe it! They call it “Live Aloha”, unofficially.  A little aloha goes a long way…

Back to lunch…Koko Head Café is a “brunch all day” restaurant. I had the “Elvis’ Revenge” which is pictured above.  This sandwich is insane!  I think you should get a medical clearance from a doctor before you can order it.  The name says it all…Thick sliced “billionaire’s bacon”, tempura bananas, peanut butter, local honey, and toasted coconut on a sweet bread roll that has been toasted with butter on a griddle. I could only eat half of it.  If you can eat the whole thing, you should wash it down with a cup of hot tea or coffee.  A lot of hot tea or coffee!

If you have questions that you would like to see answered in the blog, please use the email at the bottom.