Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blue Corn Pancakes with Garlic Avo Butter & Tomato Chipotle Syrup

Blue cornmeal made its way into my shopping cart last week. I just couldn't resist it when I spotted it in the bulk section. Since Dustin isn't a huge fan of cornbread, I had to put my recipe dream machine to work. Did I really just call my brain a recipe dream machine? This whole food blog thing is obviously going way too far.

Let's have some fun with pancakes. It all starts with blue cornmeal, a little fresh corn and some playful toppings that resemble the usual butter and maple syrup. But don't get tricked, these pancakes are anything but sweet. If you are not into making the "syrup," salsa would work just fine.

These would be great served with sausage and eggs. Breakfast for dinner!

Blue Corn Pancakes with Garlic Avo Butter & Tomato Chipotle Syrup
pancake recipe adapted from Closet Cooking
makes about 12 four inch pancakes

For pancakes:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup blue cornmeal (regular works, too)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBL butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup corn, about 1 ear (frozen is fine, too)

For butter:
1 ripe avocado
1/2 head roasted garlic (about 6 cloves)
1 tsp lime juice
salt to taste

For syrup:
1 can chopped tomatoes (with juice)
2 chipotle chiles in adobe
1 TBL sugar
salt to taste

In a food processor or blender add the can of tomatoes to the chiles, sugar, and some salt. Blend until smooth. Dump into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Set aside. 

In a food processor or blender add the avocado, garlic, lime juice, and some salt. Blend until smooth. Taste for adequate salt, set aside. 

In a medium bowl mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, mix melted butter, eggs, and milk. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined, try not to over mix. Fold in corn. 

Add dollops of pancake batter to a hot skillet, flipping when bubbles appear in the batter. Top with "butter" and "syrup" and have fun. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Savory Baked Apples with Parmesan and Sage

It's possible you are freaking out because tomorrow is T-gives and you still don't know what to make. Don't freak out. It's turkey. It's potatoes. It's pie. As long as there's enough of it, no one will complain.

But just in case you want to make an unexpected and super fancy side that is (much) easier than pie, I have a recipe for you that I'm really excited about. These baked apples would look awesome next to a turkey, but would pair especially well with ham or any porky product. They look elegant and I love serving foods that are fun and unique.

And before I go I need to say that this year I'm thankful for some really amazing people. You. All of you that read this little blog and leave comments or like my posts on Facebook, you are what keeps me going. Thank you from the bottom of my avocado pie. Sincerely.

Savory Baked Apples with Parmesan and Sage 
serves 4

4 apples
1 cup walnuts
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup yellow onion
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + 4 TBL for topping
4-5 fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tsp dried sage
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325. Core apples using a paring knife, taking care not to pierce the bottom of the apple. If you do, all the sweet juices will leak out. This is tricky, but don't worry, no need for perfection here.

In a food processor or similar device, grind up the walnuts, garlic, onion, 1/2 cup cheese, sage, and some salt & pepper. Spoon walnut mixture into hollowed apples, pressing to pack in. You may need more or less filling depending on the size of your apples. Top each apple with 1 TBL of additional cheese. 

Place apples in a baking dish or sheet and bake for 1 hour or until apples are soft and cooked all the way through. Serve as a side to turkey, ham, pork chops or ? Enjoy! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Roasted Chai Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

You might remember the truckload of pumpkins I scored awhile back. Well, what is the hidden gem of the orange squash god? Seeds of course.

I never really know what to do with the seeds. Roast, peel and then eat? Coming from someone who can't be bothered to roll out pie dough, there is basically no way in hell I'm peeling thousands of tiny seeds.

And then I discovered that you can eat the whole seed without peeling it. Oh. I mean duh. But seriously, if I didn't know that, then maybe you didn't either and maybe I just saved you hours of pumpkin seed peeling time that you could use instead to play with your kids who might grow up to be research scientists and discover a cure for cancer all because you played with them more and all because I told you not to peel the pumpkin seeds.

See? I'm curing cancer one pumpkin seed at a time.

Oh by the way, make these immediately and don't share them with anyone, especially your kids. They need more time on the computer doing preliminary research.

Roasted Chai Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
coats about 2 cups of seeds

Seeds from 1 pumpkin, rinsed (or 9 like me, haha. Seriously it was awesome.)
1TBL olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp allspice
2 pods cardamom (shells removed)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 seed from a star anise, outer shell removed (optional)
2 TBL agave or honey

Preheat oven to 400. Place seeds in a pot and and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes and drain.

Spread seeds on an oiled baking sheet and toss to coat with oil. Roast for 5-20 minutes depending on the fatness of your seeds. Basically, you need to keep an eye on them. They need to be nice and browned, to the point where they are nearly burnt. This is because the crisper they are, the better.

Meanwhile, in a spice grinder or mortar grind cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, pepper, and star anise.

When seeds are done and have cooled a little, place in a bowl with spice mixture and toss to coat. Drizzle the agave or honey in a little at a time, stirring constantly so all seeds are coated. Best when warm. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hawaiian-style Thanksgiving

It's Sustainable Sunday! Let's get into it. Since Thanksgiving is next week, I want to encourage you to incorporate as many island grown ingredients as possible in your turkey day spread.

Speaking of turkey, unless you'll be hunting for your bird on the slopes of Mauna Kea, you won't find a  Hawaii raised turkey in the grocery store. Maybe an herbed-stuffed whole fish will grace your table, or some prime grass-fed beef steaks.

Get real Gwen! I know what you're thinking, there is no way you are going to forgo a turkey dinner for my personal agenda. Ok, ok fine, but will you consider doctoring a few sides then?

Let's start with potatoes. Why mash up some decrepit mainland shipped potatoes that have been rolling around on the bottom of an ocean liner for several months when you can make delicious, fresh and unexpected mashed breadfruit? Below you'll see my recipe for mashed breadfruit with roasted garlic and goat cheese.

Grab some fresh island grown green beans (I've seen them at Costco, KTA and the farmers' market) and some Hamakua mushrooms and you've got yourself a green bean casserole, recipe below.

Savory pumpkin pie

Kabocha squash is widely available and will make the best (sweet or savory) pumpkin pie you'll ever have. Maybe you're up for adventure? Serve some avocado pie.

Will you be serving locally grown dishes at your Thanksgiving this year? I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime, I hope you'll consider trying these sides.

Mashed breadfruit

Mashed Breadfruit with Roasted Garlic and Big Island Goat Cheese
serves 6-8

1 green breadfruit (make sure it is hard, like a bowling ball. If at all soft, find another one)
1 head garlic
2 to 5 oz Big Island goat cheese (found at KTA)
2 TBL butter
1/2 cup Big Island milk (found at all major grocery stores)
Hawaiian sea salt
2-3 sprigs rosemary (if desired)

Preheat oven to 400. Peel and core the breadfruit. Keep in mind the sap is messy and can stain, so use a junk knife. Cut breadfruit into bite-sized pieces and place in a steamer basket. Steam for 20-40 minutes or until very soft. I realize that the cook time is vague, but I have found that all breadfruits are slightly different, which has to do with its stage of ripeness. Don't be afraid to steam the heck out of it.

Wrap head of garlic in foil and roast in oven for 30 minutes.

When garlic and breadfruit are finished cooking, transfer breadfruit to a large pot and mash. Peel garlic and add to mash. Place pot over low heat and add goat cheese (I only added 2 oz or so, but if you want it cheesier, add more), milk, butter, and sea salt. Continue to mash until all is combined and mixture is smooth. Sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary, if desired.

Big Island green bean casserole

Big Island Green Bean Casserole with Hamakua Mushrooms
adapted from My Life as a Mrs. 
serves 6-8

1 lb island grown green beans
1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 package (12 oz) Hamakua mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
dash cayenne pepper
3 TBL flour
1 cup water (or vegetable broth)
1 cup milk
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Blanch green beans in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain.

In a cast iron skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Saute onion until soft, adding some salt & pepper. Add mushrooms and cook until soft and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute or so. Add flour and stir to coat. Add water and bring to a simmer, then add milk and simmer until the mixture thickens, 5 minutes or so. Be sure to add salt & pepper along the way, tasting as you go.

Add green beans to the mushroom mixture and stir to coat. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Savory Pumpkin Pie

Savory Pumpkin Pie

After a Halloween birthday party blitz at her house, my friend Patty had a table full of leftover painted, but uncarved, pumpkins. She knows about my squash obsession and offered me nine, that's right, nine lovely orange globes.

I spent the afternoon yesterday roasting, peeling, pureeing, and storing the pumpkin meat. Of course, I also washed, boiled, roasted, and seasoned the seeds as well as experimented with the idea of a savory pumpkin pie.

It looks like we are well stocked up on pumpkin into the next decade. Expect many more squash recipes from me this fall.

My secret pie crust recipe is super flaky

Savory Pumpkin Pie
Serves 4-6

1 pie crust (sorry folks, I don't want to give away my secret pie crust recipe just yet)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 TBL olive oil
3-4 cups cooked pumpkin (or squash or sweet potato)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (if desired)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste
roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (I served them whole as I can't be bothered to peel them)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9" pie pan with your favorite flour based crust. In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and onions and sautee until softened and browned, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Add garlic in for last few minutes of cook time.

While onions are cooking, place cooked pumpkin, spices, salt and pepper, egg and milk to a blender or food processor. (I used my immersion blender for this part if you have one of those.) If you are a person who does not like spicy food, I recommend you leave out the chipotle pepper. Blend until smooth. When onions are done, add those and blend again.

Pour mixture into your pie crust and bake until set and crust is browned, 40-50 minutes. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds to serve if desired.

PS: I think this would be really great to serve at a dinner party or gathering because it's an unexpected combination. You could even serve with unsweetened whipped cream for added flair.

PPS: I was going for a "smoky" flavor profile here, but I think you could play around a lot with how you want this pie to taste. Think of it as a quiche. It would also be great with just onions, garlic, salt and pepper if you want to keep it simple.

Monday, November 5, 2012

1st Place in Kona Coffee Recipe Contest

The Big Island's most important recipe contest of the year was held on Sunday at the Sheraton Kona Resort. The Kona Coffee Recipe Contest, sponsored by KTA and Kamehameha Schools, included dessert and entree divisions divided in professional, amateur, and culinary student categories.

My display table. We went with a "candy shop" theme

I entered the amateur dessert division with my Kona Coffee Brigadeiro recipe and won first place!

Posing with Kona coffee royalty

Let me tell you, the competition was fierce. On either side of me were contestants that had entered for many years and knew all the tricks of the trade. We chatted as we set up our display tables and the intimidation factor grew quite high for me, as this was my first go at this particular contest.

I was so surprised, happy and grateful to have won. Those little brigadeiros (a Brazilian fudgy candy) look humble, but pack a mighty flavor punch. The display turned out pretty cute too, thanks to my helper Rosanne. Thanks also to Renee for cheering me on, and to Ciara and Brendan for bringing me a sandwich when I forgot to eat the entire day. Please see the winning recipe below and don't forget to drink 100% Kona coffee!

My lucky coffee cup ring

The Kona Coffee Festival continues until November 11 with loads of fun activities including a parade, coffee cupping contest, a concert, and much more. See you there.

Kona coffee brigadeiros

Kona Coffee Brigadeiros
A twist on a Brazilian fudgy candy
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
½ cup espresso or very strong Kona coffee
2 TBL butter
2 tsp light corn syrup
½ cup cocoa powder
36 Kona coffee beans

In a medium saucepan combine condensed milk, coffee, butter and corn syrup over medium-high heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture begins to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to stir for 15-25 minutes or until the mixture thickens, like fudge.

Pour the mixture into a bowl without scraping the sides of the pan, discard what remains in the pan. Allow the mixture to cool in the fridge for 3-4 hours. 

Using a teaspoon, scoop the mixture and roll into balls with butter-coated hands. Dip into cocoa powder to coat and press a coffee bean on top. Enjoy!

You should know that it took me 4 attempts to get the technique for this recipe right. Don't get impatient when you are cooking the batter, it needs to be pretty thick or else it won't hold together. I just don't want anyone to get the idea that this is an easy recipe, it's not! But it is certainly delish and was worth all previous failures. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sustainable Sunday: Kona Coffee

Aloha coffee lovers! I will competing in the Kona coffee recipe contest today down at the Sheraton. If you are in town and want to sample the entries, head on over from 12:30pm to 3:30pm.

I will let you in on the results as soon as they're in. Wish me luck and remember, buy local, it matters. 


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