Saturday, July 25, 2009

Green Papaya Salad



Kaipo and I ventured to Hilo bright and early this morning to participate in the Big Island Roadrunners 5k run. Ugh. I hate running. And running with ONLY runners (about 40 of them) is not fun at all. The thought of possibly coming in last place kept me running more than I was comfortable with. Yay for Kajla who stuck with me. Or maybe she was using me to have a walking excuse. It took me 40 minutes, 1 sec. Damn that 1 second. And I sprinted at the end, too! Even if it was to beat out the old lady in front of me. I think I beat her by 1 second. I guess 40:01 is better than 40:02.

You cannot go to Hilo on a Saturday without stopping at the Hilo Open Market, one of my favorite places to buy my veggies and other goodies. Kaipo always wants a fresh lemonade and musubi. One elderly gentleman sells a wide variety of "prepped" goodies, right out of a bunch of coolers, including mango, sugar cane, coconut, cooked beets, and shredded green papaya. Of course, being in my "gotta keep healthy" mode, I opted to buy the papaya. The woman with him was more than happy to tell me the necessary ingredients for green papaya salad: garlic, chili pepper, fish sauce, and tomato. Check.

Came home and did a search on google to get several recipes. Here is what I ended up with:

3 cups shredded green papaya (although I might have had closer to 4 cups)
2 Tbsp. patis
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Hawaiian chili pepper (USE ONE! Two turned out to be hot for us)
2 garlic cloves
2-3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tomato, cut up (cherry tomatoes cut in half would be great to use but I just had a big ole tomato)
2 Tbsp. roasted peanuts, chopped

Using a mortar and pestle (first time I used mine), I crushed the garlic and chili peppers together. I'm certain you don't need to use the mortar action.

You can probably just smash the garlic and chili pepper using the side of a knife and add some chopping action. I'm all about the least amount of dishes to wash. Next put your green papaya and tomatoes in a big bowl, then add all of the ingredients (except for the nuts) and mix it up. I ended up just using my hands (yes, I washed first) to make sure that all the papaya got some sauce on it. I put the chopped peanuts on the side and everybody just sprinkled it on their individual plates.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cake


I love a good coconut cake. Grandma Alice (my neighbor's mom) makes one of the greatest. But hers calls for coconut cream and I have a hard time finding it and when I do I have a hard time not using it in a chichi drink or on pancakes. And her recipe is a bit labor intensive. I am anti-labor intensive.

So when I found this wonderfully simple recipe for a coconut cake (and I had all the ingredients until I looked for confectioner's sugar, of course) I just had to give it a try. I knew it would be great since it comes from the Barefoot Contessa. I decided to whip it up for our favorite neighbor, Charlie Mahuna, on his 86th birthday.

One of my favorite cooking blogs is The Sisters Cafe. I can't remember how I found it, but I did and I'm happy about it. So click here to see their coconut cake post! YUM!

Coconut Cake
from Barefoot Contessa At Home

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Frosting
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted (I used just 3/4 of a box and it seemed sufficiently sweet)
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line with parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour. (I used pam AND I forgot to dust lightly with flour. Fortunately everything turned out just fine)

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed , add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned. (I got all excited and forgot to wait for the light yellow and fluffy stage but I think it didn't matter much. On a much prouder note I happened to have extra large eggs and I'm pretty damned proud of it, thank you Costco)

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda , and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula. (I used unsweetened coconut for this part)

4. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling. (I used 8 inch pans so I guess the cake is just a tad higher than it would have been had I used 9")

5. For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!). (I used 3/4 box of confectioner's and I thought it was plenty sweet. I'm not a fan of too much sweet in my cream cheese frostings)

6. To assemble , place on layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

VERDICT

I thought it was good. Everyone said it was Good. Kalena said it was rich (yeah, 5 sticks of butter rich). I loved the frosting but I am cream cheese frosting lover. When I started cutting it, the top started sliding off. Ugh. I think I put too much frosting in between the two layers maybe or maybe because I used a smaller cake pan. I don't know. I need to improve my baking/frosting skills.




Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baguette

After spending a week in Tahiti, I have fallen back in love with baguettes. I was never truly OUT of love, but when you visit a country where you can walk a few yards to the nearest market and purchase several baguettes for what amounts to loose change and then smother it with New Zealand butter, well, you tend to miss it when you do not have it. And of course, driving to the nearest Foodland or KTA is no substitute for those baskets full of fresh baked wonder each morning.
     So I set my sights on making my own baguettes for tonightʻs Italian feast. On the menu: fresh pesto (basil from our Hilo Farmerʻs Market) on spaghetti noodles with asparagus and oyster mushrooms sauteed in chopped garlic, butter and olive oil (with a sprinkle of red peppers and Hawaiian salt), fresh organic mixed lettuce, and a wonderful bruschetta mixture of fresh tomatoes, parmesan, garlic, fresh basil and olive oil for the bread. 
     I sent out an alert on my twitter account: Looking for a good baguette recipe to go with my pasta dinner and promptly received a reply from @foodista:



The directions seemed simple enough. Mix ingredients, let it rise, form the loaves, and bake. It was really that simple. And so few dishes. Go to the foodista.com website for the recipe, complete with its own photos.
Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1 ½ cups water, room temperature
1 tablespoon egg white, beaten with 1 cold water (optional-I didnt do this part)


Mix flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in water. Stir thoroughly (by hand or in a mixer) until dough is soft and elastic, about 12 minutes on low speed. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place (75 to 85 degrees) until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch down dough.

Here is the dough mixing in my kitchenaid


Letting it rise right in the kitchenaid bowl
I did have two kitchen towels over the top and wrapped the whole thing in the towel since I wanted to speed up the rising process. But I didnt need to. I waited the full 2 hours.

Divide dough in half on a floured board and shape into 2 equal rectangles. Form each into a baguette by rolling dough away from you. Continue rolling, pressing outward, until you have a long, thin loaf with slightly tapered ends. Place loaves on a greased baking sheet; loaves will double in size, so make sure there is adequate space between them. Cover the loaves with a floured, clean cloth and let rise until doubled. Score the tops of the loaves.
Letting it rise. This is about half way through.

I scored it with a little knife I use for paring. I think it was four knives for $2. Handy little suckers.

Shaping it was not a big issue but I did need to put a lot of flour on the counter. The dough was STICKY.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. At the bottom of the oven, place a baking pan filled with 1 cup hot water; this will create steam (I filled a ramkin with water and set it on the bottom of oven). Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for another 30 minutes or until loaf is brown and sounds hollow when tapped. 5 minutes before the loaf is done, brush with the egg white mixture (I was so famished I completely forgot this step).

We were so hungry at this point that our plates were already made and all we needed to do was cut the bread, slather it with butter or put the wonderful bruschetta mix on top. OMG. Thatʻs all I can say.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Creme Brulee

     It has been a while since I last blogged but I have two good reasons:  1-I have been travelling to places near and far, namely Oʻahu and a weekʻs worth of luxury and love (of the doing nothing sort) in Tahiti and Moʻorea. Wait. There is one more reason: my son, Kalena, has since "moved" back in and has subsequently taken over the dinner duties, and gladly I might add. Case in point: I was taking out some frozen cod fillets, he took one look at it and said, "Ooh, I want to make dinner tonight with that!" Go to it, Son, go to it.
     No one can go to Tahiti without bringing back some of their delicious Tahitian vanilla beans so with that in hand I had to do creme brulee for tonightʻs dessert. Itʻs the least I could do. 
      This Creme Brulee recipe comes from my favorite Food Network star, Ina Garten. I love Ina. 
Ingredients


  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (as a substitute for this I split one vanilla bean and put that in the milk as it was scalding. Then I had to strain the cream before pouring it into the egg mixture)
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier. I didnt have any so I substituted Brandy)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. If you are going to use a vanilla bean, split the bean, scrape the inside and add it to the milk as it scalds. Keep stirring. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla extract (if you didnt use a bean) and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.
To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.
Verdict
It was smooth. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, even Kika who isnt a big custard fan but loves the crunchy sugar topping. I think straining it is a good idea, maybe even better if it is strained before poured into the ramekins.