Category Archives: Hawaii

Best Banana Bread!

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This banana bread is my great grandmother’s recipe except for a single addition, a little trick I learned in Hawaii. It has Cocoa Nibs added. They are pure chocolate which does not have any sugar or butterfat added. They do not melt, but remain crunchy and full of chocolate flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups self rising flour, plus more for pan
  • 4-5 medium very ripe bananas peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup cocoa nibs

Method:

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  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mash bananas and stir in the yogurt/sour cream and vanilla
  • Using a mixer beat the butter, add eggs one at a time, beating till fluffy.
  • Blend remaining ingredients in a bowl and using the mixer beat in a little at a time till fully blended.
  • Place in a buttered and floured bread pan.
  • Bake for 70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then serve with sweet butter!

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Prickly Pear Sorbet

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This recipe is quite simple. You will need an icecream maker of some kind, but even the very inexpensive ones work well for this. You will also need a fine sieve.

8 Prickly Pears (they call these Tuna) in Mexican markets. They come in yellow, orange and pink. My favorite is pink.

1 cup of simple syrup (half water/half sugar till sugar melts) or light agave syrup. Sometimes I put fresh mint in the syrup too.

Juice of three limes

1/4 cup raspberry liqueur  such as Framboise. This step can be eliminated if you do not want the liquor.

Often times you can find these pears growing wild and in gardens. In Mexico they also candy them. In Italy they are used to make gelato ad sorbet in the fall.

When making your simple syrup, you can add spices, in this case I used one cardamom pod, mint, a cinnamon stick and 3 star anise. These just flavor the syrup slightly.

Using a fork, cut off the ends of the prickly pear. Commercial pears like you would find in a hispanic grocery will have the little prickles removed. If you harvest them your self, you will need to be more careful. Hold the fork on one end, stand the pear on the other end and using a sharp knife cut just the skin from the pear. Then cut into large chunks and place in a food processor. Pour in the simple syrup, lime and liqueur. Pulse until the mixture is smooth.

Strain carefully, there are a lot of seeds inside. Cool the mixture.

Process as you would in any ice cream or gelato machine. Pack tightly in freezer containers. It will be ready to eat within a couple of hours.

Jalapeno Martini: A Sassy Cocktail

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One of my favorite cocktails is the Jalapeno Martini. I first had one at Hilo Bay Cafe when living in Hawaii. It was not at all difficult to figure out the recipe for this really refreshing drink. I am not truly much of  a martini drinker, but I do love all things jalapeno. Here is the recipe for you to try.

Ingredients: 

2 jiggers of good vodka

2 drops of dry vermouth

1/2 a jigger of juice from pickled jalapenos (save those peppers to add to cornbread or use in recipes)

1 large Gorgonzola stuffed olive ( I make my own, just find nice big olives and remove the pimento)

Method: 

Fill a martini glass with ice to chill it while making the drink

Put the vodka, vermouth and jalapeno juice in a shaker with ice and shake about 20 times.

Remove the ice from the martini glass, strain the martini into it and garnish with the olive. So good and so easy!

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The Cupcakes
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
2 large eggs 
3/4 cup buttermilk 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3/4 cup warm water 

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.

Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.

To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces (or eat them). Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.

Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers – do NOT refrigerate. 

Salted Caramel Filling
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups sugar 
2/3 cup water 
1 tablespoon light corn syrup 
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel 

Directions
Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients:
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water 
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:
Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture. 

Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in an air tight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again. Pipe onto cupcakes. 

Week Night Dinner: Chicken Piccata

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So easy, so delicious and made with just a few simple ingredients. I served it with pasta as the extra sauce goes perfectly with it. We had a salad as a final course. I buy boneless breasts on sale and freeze. I  always have  lemons and capers on hand. and of course you can do this with veal or pork cutlets too.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • fresh cracked pepper ~ or Lemon Garlic Pepper
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (I used Meyer)
  • 1/2 cup brined capers
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

METHOD

  • Put the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed paper and pound them with a meat hammer to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut them up into pieces a little smaller than the palm of your hand.
  • Put the cheese and a bit of parsley into a mini processor and process till the cheese is about the size of couscous.
  • Mix together  flour, salt, peppers, and grated Parmesan.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, until well coated. *Note some people like a thicker coating, if you do dredge in plain flour first, then in an egg wash and finally in the cheese and flour mixture. I like mine lightly breaded.
  •  Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces, do not crowd the pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve to an oven proof pan. Place in a warming drawer or a 300 degree oven. Cook the remaining chicken pieces,  remove from pan. Keep warm in the oven while you prepare the sauce.
  • On medium/low heat. Add the wine & lemon juice to the pan and stir to deglaze and loosen. Add capers to the pan. Reduce the sauce by half.
  • Plate the chicken and serve with the sauce poured over the chicken. Garnish with remaining parsley. Use extra sauce on pasta and toss.
  • If you have left over breading, you can toast it on a silpat and use it as a topping for other things.

Shrimp and Pumpkin Curry

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Based on a Thai Pumpkin Curry that I make, this silken & spicy dish definitely qualifies as SASSY in my book. It is easy to make, healthy and makes great leftovers. I steamed some Jasmine Rice with a few Kaffir Lime leaves and made my own sassy version of cucumber salad (recipe to follow on the next blog post.) I used the Japanese Kabocha  pumpkin that is abundant year round in Hawaii, but you could use any tender squash or pumpkin. Kabocha is sweeter and more tender than most and you can even eat the skin. It cooks rather quickly as do the shrimp, which makes this a prime recipe to whip up on a week night. The splash of cognac adds another dimension of flavor.

Garlic Man is the mascot for The Sassy Spoon! He will be featured somewhere in every post!

Ingedients: 

1 Kabocha Pumpkin cut in to 1″ squares

2 tablespoons curry paste (You can choose any style of curry paste, I have used yellow, green and red with this before. This time I used red).

2 cans of coconut milk

6-8 fresh kaffir lime leaves (there is no real substitute for this, but you can use lime zest).

1/2 pound of large raw shrimp (I used 18-21 per #)

2 tablespoons palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

8 cloves fresh garlic finely minced

4-6 Shitake mushrooms, sliced thickly

splash of cognac (My “splash” is generous, about a jigger full)

Chopped cilantro for finishing

Method: 

In a large hot wok put a large spoon full of the cream from the coconut milk and stir in the curry paste, allow the paste to warm up completely, then pour in one can of the coconut milk & the kaffir leaves, stirring constantly as it thickens.

Add pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes, add the second can of coconut milk and the sugar. Check pumpkin to see if it is cooked thoroughly, be careful not to over cook it or the pumpkin will be mushy. Turn off the heat.

In another pan add the coconut oil, shrimp and mushroom slices. Saute till the shrimp turns pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and slightly brown it.

Add a splash of cognac and cook for 30 seconds more. Add all of this into the wok, turn the heat back up and simmer for a minute, then sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice.