Thursday, December 29, 2016

Keeper Recipe: Peanut Butter Fudge

These are like a million gazillion calories per piece, but try and eat just one.

8 oz. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. powdered sugar

  • Combine the butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Microwave for 2 minutes on high.
  • Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. 
  • The mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen. That's good.
  • Spread into a buttered 8" x 8" pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Fold the excess parchment paper so it covers the surface of the fudge.
  • Refrigerate until cool (about 2 hours).
  • Cut into 1" pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Keeper Project Recipe: Dark Chocolate Fudge

These Keeper Project Recipes are for our kids, but it is also for us because we change recipes, make them once a year, forget about them and then wonder where we got the original recipe from. 

Big Spazz makes these for his gift trays and always pairs it with the peanut butter fudge

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup unsalted cashews (see note), coarse chopped
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Course sea salt for sprinkling on top

  • Over low heat, in a double boiler or pot with boiling water turned to a simmer and a pyrex bowl that sits on the pot without touching the water, melt the chips in the sweetened condensed milk.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla.
  • Spread evenly into an aluminum foil lined 8x8 or 9x9 pan.
  • Sprinkls some sea salt on top.
  • Chill and pop out of pan.
  • Peel off foil and cut into 1" squares. 
You may use other nuts like walnuts

We like to put our nitrile gloves on and put the fudge pieces in a mini muffin paper liner. We can usually fit about 18 pieces of fudge in a bento box. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Dave Chang's Burger Manifesto

Chef Dave Chang, he of Momofuku fame and the super interesting Lucky Peach site, wrote a hilarious article on his thoughts about burgers, aptly titled "My Burger Manifesto"

It is especially funny because I am right in the middle of a really muggy summer and I am chained to my computer table trying to grade papers for my masters level students and I just wanted to be entertained - and this little rant is just what I needed because really, I would love to rant and drop bombs and confess that I can say whatever I want and if I go against my own words, then so what? I would love to not have any time to write, but still write something hella-funny anyway and not care about the tone or how people take things or if I hurt someone's feelings. Anyway, did I say it was super muggy?

So read his manifesto and let it inspire you to be truthful too. 

Here's my truth. I really do not like meat, not because I am protesting the meat industry, the inhumane treatment of animals or the cancer-causing hormones injected in our meat supplies, although those are bad. I just don't like meat. The fat and oil that comes off meat makes me ill. I blame it on my lack of a gall bladder but it probably also stems from my not wanting to drink water and therefore storing all kinds of toxins or whatever. I feel better when I don't eat meat for most of my meals. I like doing dishes more when there is no grease.

My other truth: I like a good burger, but the best burgers exist in my mind and nowhere else. I like my husband's burgers because he gets a good quality meat, grills it to medium rare and doesn't fuss with other stuff. If I go out, the best burgers are McDonald's cheeseburgers. I order burgers if we are a a burger place but I still prefer a McDonalds cheeseburgers. It's small enough that I don't care that it's overcooked. It should be cooked well since I don't know what kind of meat they use. I only like American cheese on a McDonald's cheeseburger and I like the simplicity, a little bit of ketchup, a little bit of yellow mustard (so mild it's tasteless) and a little bit of salty, sour pickles. The bun is squishy and there is no lettuce that is steamed soggy. It's not fussy, it's consistent and it's nostalgic. 

You disagree? Good. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chana Masala Version 3

Chana Masala attempt #1: spinach, no tomato, too much liquid

Chana Masala attempt #2: tomatoes, cumin seeds bloomed in oil

Attempt #3 can still be with dried garbanzo beans if you have the time to prepare, but I used canned. I also still want to use bloomed cumin seeds, but my spices went stale. 

1/2 tsp cumin seeds (again, I did not have it so I just added more cumin powder)
2 cups homemade garbanzo beans (or 2 cans, strained)
1 large onion, diced
1 can diced or stewed tomatoes, strained
3 tsp garam masala
6 cloves garlic, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup water
salt to taste
Cilantro to taste
juice from 1 lemon
1 large bunch spinach

Water saute the onions until translucent. Add the spices. If using the cumin seeds, heat a bit of oil, let it crackle, then saute the onions and add spices. Add the rest of the ingredients except the spinach and cook down. Taste. Before serving, add spinach and let it melt a little. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Keeper Recipe: Carry Along Shrimp

This was our Father's Day appetizers as we finished grilling the steak and veggies and that burnt look is from the sugar and fat, which means it is carmelized and gooey good. The original recipe is from an old Sure Save recipe in the newspaper from Hari's Kitchen, dated March 16, 1997. The original chef is Chef Jason Ito from Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

It is called Carry Along Shrimp because you can bring this in a Ziploc to the beach and just throw it on the grill. I skewered them just to help with the grilling but the original recipe just grills the shrimp separately. It depends on the size of the shrimp.

  • 2 - 3 lbs. shrimp, thawed (prefereably 16-20 per pound, but we used a smaller size and got about 45 shrimp)
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 T. oyster sauce
  • 2 T. finely minced garlic
  • 2 T. lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 T. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 T. rice vinegar or lemon juice
  1. Remove legs from shrimp. With a serrated knife, butterfly the shrimp through the shell and back. Do not cut completely through the body. The cut is basically to help get the sauce into the shrimp.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and massage the sauce into shrimp. The shrimp should be marinated for at least an hour.
  3. Grill and eat. 
This is a stand around the grill and burn your fingers as you eat this hot off the grill kind of recipe. It will not make it to the table so just stand around with your beer and enjoy.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Keeper Recipe: Lemon Buttermilk Cake

This is a Big Spazz recipe, which means it is complicated. It takes a lot of time to make and it calls for several types of specialized equipment. That said, my mother loves this cake, like love, loves it.

You need large lemons, at least 6, lots of zest, at least 5 lemons worth - zest first. Also, unlike the Mississippi Roast, buttermilk is not optional.

3 c. all purpose flour plus more for the pan
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 c) butter, softened
2 1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 c. buttermilk
2 T. packed grated lemon zest
2 T. fresh lemon juice

For syrup:
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 T. fresh lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 c. confectioner's sugar, sifted (we do not have a sifter which we should get)
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. packed lemon zest
1 tsp. butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and dust with flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  4. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the buttermilk mixture. Beat in another quarter of the flour, then another third of the milk mixture. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining milk mixture. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and give a quick mix to make sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for ten minutes on a rack.
  8. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  9. Invert the warm cake onto a rack. Slip a large piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil under the rack to catch all the drips from the syrup and glaze. Gradually brush the hot syrup over the cake, letting it soak in (a little syrup will drip off, but try not to rush so that most of it is absorbed). Allow the cake to cool completely, about one hour.
  10. When the cake is cool, make the glaze. Combine the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter in a medium bowl, mixing with a fork until smooth. Add more confectioners' sugar or lemon juice as necessary to make a thick but pourable glaze (it should be the consistency of thick honey). Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Restaurant Review: Founding Farmers Washington DC

Founding Farmers, about three blocks from the White House in Washington DC is a farm to table restaurant literally founded by and supported by family farmers in the North Dakota Farmer's Union. Their story is fascinating enough to make this a very popular restaurant with tourists and locals so reservations are a must for larger parties.

When I am at a restaurant with large farm tables and big buckets of yummy whirly pop kettle corn pot, ordering their vegetarian option is always the best test of the quality of the food, so I ordered the cauliflower steak with butternut barley risotto and grilled (still crunchy) broccolini.  The cauliflower steak comes with a green sauce arugula pesto. The steak itself was huge. I got a half a head of cauliflower and I barely finished. In fact I was too full for dessert.

At $16 for the plate, it's a cheap dinner for DC, especially since I didn't have a cocktail. I would have been happy with just the steak (maybe not as big) as a side too. I may try this at home although cauliflower is very expensive in Hawaii, but this NYTimes recipe for whole roasted cauliflower with almond-herb sauce is on my to make list.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Slow Love French Toast

There is fast, get the family fed cooking and then there is slow love cooking. French toast is not hard to do fast, but if you want to do some slow love cooking, get a bread like sourdough, slice it ahead of time and put it on a tray in the oven to dry out overnight.

1 Sourdough loaf, cut, put on a large tray and dried overnight

6 eggs
2 T vanilla
1 1/2 C milk, half and half or heavy cream
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg


Pour over batter (slices should be in a single layer), let it sit for 10 minutes, flip it over and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Cook at 350 degrees F on a griddle. 

We serve it with Big Spazz's homemade blueberry jam watered down with a bit of apple juice. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Washington DC: Make Your Own Tasting Menu at Acadiana Restaurant

One of my mana wahine friends was flying into DC at the end of my conference stay so as this was her first night and my last, I wanted to make sure that we got together over a nice dinner (as is our mana wahine group's style). I knew she was flying in to Dulles at 5:30 so I knew it would take her about 60-90 minutes to catch the shuttle in to DC, check in and contact me. I decided to take a chance and make 7:00 pm reservations on Open Table. I love that service.  We are not budget girls so I knew that we could go somewhere a little more fancy so I found Acadiana, a southern, New Orleans style restaurant kitty corner from the Walter E. Washington convention center. 

We did not drink so I don't know about their cocktails, but there were so many things on the menu that we could not get in Hawaii that we decided to order enough appetizers to create our own tasting menu and just share everything. Our waiter was totally accommodating and even paired courses together to create a starter course, "salad" course and entree course (above).

Starter course: We ordered soup, the only order that we didn't share. Sylvia had the classic turtle soup and I am greedy and chose the trio of soups. We also got our complimentary biscuit with a cream cheese and pepper jelly side that we both wolfed down before I got my iPhone out. The turtle soup (first soup on the left) was fabulous! I don't know how they make it or if it is really turtle, so I am having a hard time describing the deliciousness, just that it was really yummy. The waiter brought two little shots of sherry and said it was for our turtle soup. I tried it, but I like it plain so that you can taste everything instead of just tasting alcohol. The middle soup was a roasted corn and blue crab soup. The sweet came from both the roasted corn and the large chunks of blue crab. The third soup was the smoked chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. That one was a bust for me. There was a burnt taste that I just couldn't get over. Our waiter saw that I finished everything but my gumbo and asked if there was something wrong. I told him and he offered to replace the soup with one of the other two. I wanted the turtle soup knowing that I would not get to eat that again, but I went for the corn soup. 

Salad course: The "blt" salad is a cute wedge salad made to look like a whole baby lettuce. When we cut it in half, it is basically a wedge salad with blue cheese, bacon and cherry tomatoes. It was a nice, light dish that preceded all the heaviness to follow. We also had a trio of pies with a black pepper buttermilk dipping sauce. The pies were southern vegetable, Louisiana crawfish and natchitoches meat. I really liked the southern vegetable and the crawfish, but I think Big Spazz would appreciate the spicy oiliness of the natchitoches meat pie. 

Our main course was a plethora of plates on a very small table. We had the charbroiled oysters (third picture, top) with garlic butter, parmesan, romano cheese and a crispy-soft piece of french bread. So good! If I was not flying the next morning I would have used all of the bread to sop up the butter juices. Going clockwise was the fried green tomatoes topped with a spice boiled gulf shrimp remoulade. The shrimp were so juicy. Next in the picture was the crispy "gas station" pork boudin balls served with creole mustard, pickled peppers and a sweet chili sauce. The sweet chili is not on the menu, but maybe they saw we were Asian and put it on.  I didn't care, the balls were good with the sweet chili sauce. Crispy is the right descriptor. The last course was the duck jambalaya. It was ok. The roux, like my gumbo gave off a little burnt taste that was not my favorite but we still ate it. 

With that much food, it set us back about $50 apiece but we sat there for over two hours and had really nice conversation. Sometimes, you need to just enjoy and bring home lunch for the next month to pay for the experience. 

I'm putting this down as somewhere to take Big Spazz on our next jaunt to DC. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mississippi Roast Dinner

I found the original recipe for Mississippi Roast on my New York Times feed here. Mine is not as red inside as their picture, but my family devoured it and the sides were the perfect fit so I am including my tweaked Mississipi roast, roasted garlic, bacon and balsamic vinegar Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes.

Mississippi Roast

  • 3-4 lbs. boneless chuck roast (the chuck is more expensive than sirloin, but the chuck has more fat, so since this is a long cook, we went with two pieces of chuck that were a little over 4 lbs.)
  • Rocking H salt to taste (start with 2 tsp. but go by feel)
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 block butter
  • 10 pepperoncini
  • 2T mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. buttermilk (I did not use it)
  1. Rub salt and pepper on all sides of the rub. Massage it in. Sprinkle with flour, massage again.
  2. Heat oil until it shimmers but is not smoking. Sear meat on all sides to create a crust.
  3. Put the meat in a slow cooker. Add pepperoncini and the butter. We had two pieces so I put about 1/3 of the butter between the two pieces, then put the rest on the top of meat. Set the slow cooker on low.
  4. As the meat heats up, mix the dressing (rest of the ingredients). Whisk to emulsify. Add the dressing to the meat and cover slow cooker. Cook for 6 -8 hours (check at about 5)
  5. Roast is done when the meat falls apart with a fork.
  6. For au jus, skim fat and whisk the rest of the liquid to form a gravy.
Roasted potatoes - just follow the recipe on the Lipton onion soup (dry mix) - 1 package, 2 lbs. of potatoes, 1/2 cup oil, 430 degree oven for 35 minutes. I used 3 lbs of mixed red and yellow potatoes and supplemented with Rocking H salt. I also put it in the oven with the Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts - one 2 lb. bag of Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut in half, 1/2 red onion slivered, one head of garlic peeled and left whole, bacon, hopefully home smoked, cut into tiny pieces. If you want to go fancy and crispy, fry it separately, olive oil, salt. 430 degree oven for 35 minutes. Scrape and stir if it starts getting stuck. When it comes out, drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Couch Surfing on the Foodie Trail

I spent my winter break cooking, washing dishes while Big Spazz is cooking, drying dishes, putting them away, pass out, repeat. In between, I watched foodie travel shows as an indulgence and inspiration to get up and cook again.

What we're watching on Hulu:

The Layover with Anthony Bourdain. I toured Sydney in a 24 hour or less period twice last year and I found that it was a good amount of time and on the second time, we really did a lot so I am inspired by what Bourdain can do in his 48 hour or less layovers (actually I'm amazed at how much he can eat and especially drink in that time). Besides the fact that Ignore the fact that he is a paid alcoholic who likes to talk about beating up prostitutes. I know that his wife is a jiu jitsu fighter who can kick his ass. Also keep in mind that he likes to shop for his daughter and you can ignore some of the sour things he says.

Our next layover city will be San Diego in February.  would love to figure out what we can do in San Diego in 36 hours.  I have reservations for dinner already (mostly because it's Valentine's so I don't want to be wandering around hoping to get in), but other than that, it's an adventure.

Behind the bar - this is a series that aired in 2011 but the footage looks really old. The premise is that bartenders talk about their signature drink, give a little interview and then make the drink. They also share the recipe. Since Big Spazz has a legitimate bar now with old man single malt whiskeys, bourbons and all the equipment for mixed drinks. 

Kimchi chronicles - I just started watching this and it moves a little slow, but the host, a part Korean part African American woman who found her Korean mother and family after being adopted in America, shares what she learned about Korean food. My sister is a great Korean cook and she has no recipe, just a memory of taste so this reminds me of her.

What inspires you?