Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Dinner Week #29: Fish Tacos, tempura style

Our usual fish tacos are usually just olive oil, lemon juice and Rockin H salt mix marinaded and grilled, but I decided to try a tempura style crunchy fish taco with some kind of sauce.

I tried Guy Fieri's Tex Wasabi's Koi Fish Tacos
1 lime, juiced
1 T. tequila
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
12 oz. cod or firm white fish (we usually use mahi mahi, but I had salmon)
corn tortillas
canola oil
4 oz. tempura flour
8 oz. tempura batter prepared with cold water
6 oz. panko bread crumbs
1 c. shredded white cabbage
1/2 c. shredded red cabbage
3 T. chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion

In medium bowl, combine lime juice, tequila, cumin, salt, and pepper; mix thoroughly. Add the fish and toss to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes.

Warm tortillas on grill or pan. Cover with a towel to keep warm.
In a medium Dutch oven, heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F.
Remove fish from marinade, shake off excess, dredge in tempura flour, and dunk in cold tempura mixed batter. Roll in
panko bread crumbs, pressing panko onto fish. One by one add fish to oil, making sure to keep the fish pieces separated.

Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Mix cabbage, cilantro and onion. 

Stack 2 tortillas; place 1/8th of fish on top of each, and top with cabbage mixture, Pico de
Gallo, and Tequila Lime Aioli. Serve immediately.

Pico de Gallo:
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 red onion, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper
Mix in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the tastes blend. I didn't use the jalapeno because I'm a wimp.

Tequila lime aioli
3 T. tequila
1 lime, juiced
8 oz. sour cream
1/4 c. milk
2 t. minced garlic
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 T. minced cilantro leaves
salt and pepper
Mix and refrigerate for an hour.

The verdict: the tequila lime aioli is tart and tasty, but we noticed that the longer it sits, the stronger the tequila gets, so for the kids, it was a little too strong. 

Ken prefers the grilled fish over the tempura style, but we both agree that the slaw and pico de gallo are winners!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sunday Dinner Week #37: Easter Brunch at Nani Mau Gardens

"He is risen"
"He is risen indeed"

We haven't been going to church lately, but the significance of Easter is not lost on us. It's about serving a living God, so to celebrate, we went to Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo for Easter brunch. I used to love buffets, but I notice that I'm a lot more finicky now, so my observation was more about what our plates say about us than about what kind of food options were at the buffet. Here's my take on what our first plate says about the kind of person we are. Remember, this is only the first plate. It takes too much analysis to worry about the second through fifth plates.

Plate 1: We'll start with me so my family can't say I'm picking on them. Prime rib, rare and bloody with creamy horseradish and au jus, crab legs (no claws) and a little bit of garlic butter. I don't have my gall bladder, so I can't eat too much butter, but my plate says several things:
  • carnivore - thus the rare meat - I really would like it a little more rare, but then it's too creepy for some people
  • Pake - tight wad - at a buffet, look first then take the most expensive things first. What a waste of money and stomach space to start on salad and fill up on fiber

Plate 2: Pono

Salad, half a plate of rice, sausage and bacon. Analysis:
  • Porkivore - I won't eat bacon unless it's stiff and crispy, but not burned. Boy 3 will eat bacon whenever he can get it. Guess I don't cook it enough.  
  • Riceaholic - As long as he can afford a 20 lb. bag of rice, boy won't starve. 
  • Guilty conscience or warped attempt at health? - What's with the salad? Not sure. He is usually allergic to all vegetables unless hidden very carefully in pork.
 Plate 3: Isaac

Boy one has sworn off rice so on his plate: ahi poke, tako poke, bacon, portuguese sausage, prime rib and pork. Verdict:
  • Straight up carnivore and surf and turf man - this also shows that since living with Grandma and Grandma hardly cooks, he's going for things that she either doesn't make or he doesn't normally eat at the hospital cafeteria (as an RN, he eats for free but it's leftover hospital fare)
Plate 4: Ahi

Boy 2 is my artist, so he eats with his eyes first. Greens salad with edible flowers, ahi poke and couscous salad. He ate the roll before I took the picture. Verdict:
  • Visual - he likes earth colors in his art as well as in his food
  • Health conscious - he weighs himself whenever he is feeling a little heavy, so he always keeps track of his intake, although he never deprives himself of food - he just runs or works out more.
  • Pake - boy 2 is our most frugal boy, maybe it's a middle child thing, so although I said don't start with salad, he starts with salad because he knows that this is only the first of many plates and he's making his way around. He can pack it in and he will eat whether he's hungry or not.
Plate 5: Ken

I swear this is not the last picture I took. Ken's plate: remnants of lamb with mint jelly, potatoes, couscous, spring veggies and. . .? Verdict:
  • Youngest brother - If you are the youngest brother, you learn to eat fast before someone steals something off your plate. You also learn to eat the good stuff first, again to hinder stealer robbers.
  • Food luster - He eats lamb because I don't like lamb, so whenever he can get it, he eats it. Blech. 
Now you know us. Which plate are you?
At this point I would normally talk dessert, my favorite, but dessert was not happening. Many of the things were store bought or reheated and there was something wrong with my custard pie. I like my custard pie solid and creamy, but this was chunky and gummy. The best dessert was the packaged candies. :-(

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunday Dinner #27 - Ham in the Crock Pot

Ham is cheap right now, so stock up, eat some whole and pay the extra 20 cents per pound to have the butcher cut the pieces into ham steaks.  Making the ham in the slow cooker is easy, but if you don't watch it carefully, it can get too flaky or dry out, so we figured out a different method.

First, put the ham in the crock pot with brown sugar patted on and some ginger ale on the bottom. We always have to cut off the top of the ham, but that's breakfast for two.

Put the ham on high for about 4 hours.
After 4 hours, take it out and put it in a roasting pan. Make a basting liquid with the juice from the crock pot, yellow mustard and guava jelly.

Broil the ham for about 20 minutes while basting occasionally.

The result is that the ham stays intact, still juicy with the guava jelly sweetness. I don't know what they do on the mainland, maybe put pineapples, but guava jelly is the key here.
For our side, we cut up some sweet potato, little oil and salt and pepper and stuck it in the oven with the ham.

It takes a little more work, but the result is a juicy piece of ham with drippings to go over the rice.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Dinner #28: The Case of the Sad Cacciatore

When you're halfway through a dish, and you randomly scoop up something like this (above), it's a sign that all is not perfect with the dish, but our poor green olive-eyed, onion-monku mouth scoop of cacciatore just had to play itself out. We'd already put too much work into it. I'm still trying to figure out where I went wrong, but nonetheless, here's the case of the sad cacciatore.

Chicken Cacciatore with Crisp Polenta (from Martha Stewart)
3 T. olive oil
8 skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds) - we doubled this recipe 
course salt and round pepper
10 oz. white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes in juice, broken up with a spoon
1 c dry white wine
2 medium onions, cut into 8 wedges
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 c pitted green olives, halved
1 tube (16 oz) plain prepared polenta sliced into 12 rounds
1. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot (we always go to our reliable Guardian Ware pot that we inherited from several aunties) heat 2 T oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and working in batches, sear chicken, meaty side down; transfer to a plate.
It's only seared for about 6-8 minutes, but don't worry, it will continue to cook.
2. Add mushrooms to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add flour, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes with their juice, wine, onions, garlic, olives, and chicken (with any juices). Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Season stew with salt and pepper.

Here's where our sad face character showed up. I'm not sure what went wrong, but the instructions say stew and we definitely had a soup. Let's examine the possible culprits:
Mushrooms? Sometimes, mushrooms put out a lot of water, but it didn't say anything about draining the mushrooms, just adding flour.
Tomatoes? Yes, the recipe calls for whole tomatoes in juice, but I always have stewed tomatoes, so I used that instead. Do stewed tomatoes have way more juice than canned whole tomatoes? Could this be the culprit for soup vs. stew?
Green olives? Should the green olives be bottled or is it OK if it's canned?
3. While stew is cooking, heat broiler. On a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides of polenta slices with remaining oil; season with salt and pepper. Broil, without turning, until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken cacciatore over polenta.
The verdict:We had way too much and had to go for the camping pot, but it did thicken up a little. I still think that the cacciatore needed to be more stew like. As far as the polenta, it was nice and crispy, but I just don't understand it. It must be like poi. Maybe it's an acquired taste. I liked the crispiness, but it doesn't taste like much.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holoholo Weekend: Kea'au Village Market

Kea'au Village Market
16-0550 Old Volcano Road
Open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This little, partially covered market is right across the street from the Kea'au Shopping Center and next to Puna Hongwanji. Look for the Sakada sculpture commemorating the Filipino immigrants that came to Hawaii to work on the plantations. Kea'au, formerly known as Ola'a, was a plantation town controlled by the Shipman family. The Shipman family continues to own most of the land in Kea'au and many other places in Puna.

It seems like the village market tries to help an eclectic group of vendors, so within a small area, there are about three vegetable vendors, one couple selling malasadas, one or two flower vendors, a couple of small boutiques, a hairstylist, a massage therapist, and a few food kitchens (Mexican, local and Filipino, bread and barbeque). On this day, in the large middle area that has little tables and umbrellas for people to eat and talk story, there was also a "garage sale" set up to help a U19 select soccer team.
Like the other farmer's markets that we've visited, we find that the offerings are very uniform from one vendor to another. It makes it difficult in a small farmer's market like this, because when there are only three vendors, we feel like we have to buy from everyone.

The food vendors really make this place a reflection of the community. Check out BK's Country Favorites menu: blood meat, pincabet, pork and squash with mustard cabbage soup.

We found that the prices are a little cheaper than in Hilo, so our bounty is a little larger. It also helped that at the bread store, they had a rack of day old bread, so we were able to get a day old baguette for $1.
For $10 we got a package of romaine lettuce (2 heads for $2), a bag of carrots ($1.50), a bunch of apple bananas ($1.50), a bag of red potatoes ($2), green onion ($1), one baguette ($1), two hot malasadas ($1)

The malasadas were a good deal. You get a large malasada for 50 cents, or coffee and a malasada for $1. Ken really liked it because the edges are crispy. For me, I like my malasadas more Leonard's Bakery style with more air pockets. This malasada was definitely crispy on the outside, but the inside was a little too dense for me. If you like it more dense, almost andagi style, then these are the best deal in town for malasadas. I think if Ken had his choice, he would have bought a dozen.

This may be the only farmer's market that's open daily, so if you're passing by Kea'au town, check them out. The parking is conveniently located behind the market and I haven't seen it so crowded that there's no parking.