Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years: Korean Sauce for Hasu

Hasu, or lotus root is used in the Japanese household as part of the Osechi ryori. The lotus root, with its many holes symbolizes an unobstructed view of the future. It does not have a taste on its own, so we like to use Aunty Jeannete's Korean sauce.


  • green onion
  • garlic
  • oil
  • Hawaiian chili pepper
  • shoyu


  1. chop the first 3 ingredients until it is slimy
  2. add the chili pepper (seeded)
  3. add shoyu to taste

Monday, December 28, 2015

Keeper Project: Okinawan Sweet Potato Bars with Haupia

I am not precise. My bottom dough is always lumpy and uneven. This is a difficult recipe in that it takes a lot of steps. Still, this is a keeper recipe because it always tastes yummy, unless you are Boy 1 who does not like coconut and coconut products. Whose child is this anyway?

First, another must have tool. This potato ricer is a difficult tool for me. I put too much in it and then I need Big Spazz to use his kung fu grip to push the sweet potato through the ricer. However, the texture of the sweet potato from the ricer is fluffy and light. It's the perfect texture for these bars.

Press-In Shortbread Crust:
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 sticks cold butter (12 Tbsp, 3/4 cup)
  • (optional) 1/2 cups chopped toasted Macadamia nuts
Okinawan Sweet Potato Filling:
  • 1 stick room temperature butter (8 Tbsp, 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 generous cups Okinawan sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Haupia Topping (Coconut Pudding):
  • 2/5 cup sugar (about 6-1/2 Tbsp)
  • 2/5 cup cornstarch (about 6-1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1-1/8 cup water (1 cup + 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 can (19 oz) coconut milk (preferably Mae Ploy brand since it is very creamy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Press-In Shortbread Crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter or lightly oil a rectangular-shaped or square-shaped baking pan. Combine the sugar and flour. Cut or use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until sandy. If the butter starts to melt or becomes too soft, place it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to cool and then continue. (I always have to do this, one because we live in Hawaii and two because my hands are always too hot for the dough and my butter keeps melting). 

Press the crust mixture lightly into the bottom baking pan as evenly as possible.  Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes to firm it before baking. The unbaked crust can be made ahead of time and stored frozen. 

Bake at 325 F for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is pale but very lightly browned. Let cool.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
You can cook the Okinawan sweet potatoes by baking, boiling, or steaming them. I suggest steaming them whole, since this best preserves their color and moisture, however, when I boil it I find that it cooks more evenly.

To steam the Okinawan sweet potatoes whole: Fill the bottom of a large pot with a tight-fitting lid with a few inches of water (the water level should be below the shelf of your steaming rack or metal colander so that the Okinawan sweet potatoes don’t get wet). Heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Place a metal steaming rack or metal colander in the pot. Place the Okinawan sweet potatoes on the rack, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and steam until they can easily be pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes). They should be steamed over gentle heat; reduce the heat if the top of the pot is clanking a lot due to releasing steam.

When the Okinawan sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and then mash them with the potato ricer. 

Beat the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs. Gradually mix in 2 cups of mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes. Add the evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt. Slowly increase the mixing level to medium-high and whip the mixture as you would to make whipped potatoes (e.g. to level 8 out of 10) in order to incorporate air into the filling.

Pour the filling into the crust. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean but has a few moist crumbs stuck to it or some moisture on it (this indicates that the filling is cooked through but is still moist). Cool.

Haupia Topping (Coconut Pudding):
Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a medium pot. Stir in water and blend well. Add the coconut milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, but doesn’t boil. It will become very thick, similar to a frosting.

Cool slightly, and then pour the haupia over the pie filling, until it covers the pie and nearly fills the crust Use a spatula to smooth the top of the haupia topping.

Refrigerate; the haupia will become solid, similar in texture to Jello and other gelatin desserts. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Keeper Project: Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

These keeper project recipes have nothing to do with healthy eating or "test" recipes. These are tested, go to recipes that are our standards. These recipes are for our boys who are adults now with their own families. Our sons are cooks too and many times they just throw things together, but when they want something, they will call Big Spazz or I. Well one day we will not be here to call, so before they need it, I am compiling this. Because of my grandmother and my mother-in-law, I know too well the speed in which a person can go from cooking to not cooking. They are not all the best thing we have ever had, but many of these that are my go to recipes are convenient, fast, easy and good. I love being in the kitchen, I do not love standing over the stove, so keep that in mind.

Before we talk recipe, let me talk about tools. Now that I am living with my oldest son and our daughter in law when I am in Honolulu, and caring for my mother-in-law when I am in Hilo, I have two kitchens with three women's kitchen tools. Here is what I know so far: there are certain tools that I need and will carry with me when I can. All kitchens must have a Swingline brand can opener, and the heavy duty one is preferable to the cheaper one. Spending whatever it takes to buy a simple Swingline can opener is a must. Above is another one. It is an old stainless steel vegetable peeler. I like it because it fits my hand well. It is light, it is comfortable in my palm even if I have small hands. With this peeler, I can peel the whole bag of potatoes without thinking about it. 

The second must have tool is my mother-in-law's but it is mine now. It is a potato masher. There is nothing fancy or unique about the design, but it gets the job done. You could put it in a ricer for fluffy potatoes, but we like the texture of lumps. If it is too smooth, people will assume that you made potato flakes. 

Third is not a tool. It is butter. As I get older, I do not handle butter and fat well without my gall bladder. However, if a recipe calls for butter, do not use margarine. Ever.

Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I like this mashed potatoes because I peel the potatoes ahead of time and I can make it when I am not busy and bake it right before.

  • 5 lbs. Russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c. half and half
  • garlic salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Cut peeled potatoes so that they are about the same size for more even cooking. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook for 30-35 minutes. You know they're cooked when a fork can go through the potato.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander. When the potatoes are drained, return it to the pot set on low and mash potatoes, allowing the steam to release.
  4. Turn off the stove and add 1 1/2 sticks butter, cream cheese and 1/2 cup of half and half. Mash, Add salt and pepper, taste and add more half and half if necessary. 
  5. Butter a shallow casserole dish and put potatoes in. You may refrigerate it covered with plastic wrap and take it out a few hours before to get it back to room temperature.
  6. Put a few pats of butter on top (picture above) and bake in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Keeper Project: Hilo Bay Ken's Famous Smoked Meat

Big Spazz is famous for his smoked meat. It is what started us on this #hilobayken hash tag. Pair it with his guava jelly made from the guava trees at the Komohana Gardens house in Hilo, add onions and you have winner pupus good enough for our son's wedding.

  • 10 lbs. pork butt, sliced
  • 1 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 T. black pepper
  • 1 c. teriyaki sauce
  • 3T. minced garlic
  1. Lomi the marinade above into the meat
  2. Put the meat into gallon Ziploc bags and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
  3. Smoke it to internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  4. Slice, vacuum seal and freeze