Austin is a foodies paradise. Not only for the quality restaurants and cafes on almost every corner but for the vast abundance of beautiful produce, dairy and meat available at farmers markets and groceries. I always look forward to family visits knowing I will get an edible infusion of interesting and delicious foods! This hearty salad is perfect for a wintery day here in Austin. Black radishes and pears sautéed in butter garnished with green olive tapenade and creamy lamb chopper cheese from Henri’s. Sweet salty and umami!
Beautiful black radishes
Green olive tapenade with capers, anchovies, parsley and lemon
If you’re in Austin check out Henri’s, Elizabeth Street Café, The Odd Duck, Urban Roots, Boggy Creek Farms, Springdale Farm, Sustainable Food Center.
Ahi is plentiful this time of year. My favorite preparation is to dredge it in furikake and sear for 1 minute on each side. I used Lifefoods Superfood Furikake made on Maui. It contains no sugar or preservatives commonly found in commercial furikake. It is also made with highly nutritional hemp seeds and sesame seeds giving it a nutty flavor and crunchy texture when toasted. Underneath this steaky tuna is fresh lettuce and cabbage from Sun and Lisa’s One Song Farm, local pumpkin and coconut meat hash, Japanese cucumber from the Kilauea farmers market, avocados from my friend Conrad and Big Island mac nuts. I also throw in hefty amounts of fresh basil, mint and cilantro with a sesame lime vinaigrette. Super refreshing yet rich and hearty!
Ken Lindsey of Ono Organics grows these adorable sweet pumpkins perfect for 1 or 2 meals. Starch options are somewhat limited here but more and more farmers are finding ways to cross pollinate squashes that are resistant to the fruit fly. Different varieties are showing up at the markets on a more consistent basis. Olana Farms had some beautiful kabocha squashes last week at the Kilauea Farmers market.
On the left is fresh coconut meat and on the right the grated pumpkin.
I saute the pumpkin and coconut together first until soft. I then add scallion salt and pepper until the pumpkin carmelizes a little and gets crunchy. Set that aside and let it cool.
I make a light dressing using equal parts tamari, rice wine vinegar and light sesame oil with grated ginger and garlic. I toss all the ingredients together, the lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, coconut pumpkin saute, fresh herbs (cilantro,mint, basil) and dressing. I sear the ahi, place it on the salad and add my avocado and mac nuts. Enjoy and a hui hou!
Liliko’i, also known as passionfruit, could be one of my very favorite Hawaiian flavors. It is uniquely tart and sweet with a floral aroma and taste, truly unlike any other fruit I have enjoyed. It grows abundantly on a vine in fall and winter. It has a hardy thick yellow or purple skin that encases hundreds of seeds in each fruit. The seeds are surrounded by fleshy pulp. When strained from the seeds a velvety juice remains to add to desserts, juices, sparkling water, jams, and salad dressings. This “cheesecake” is made with liliko’i juice, coconut meat, coconut butter, local honey and a macadamia nut crust. A fun alternative to traditional cheesecake using local ingredients higher in nutritive value and wonderful flavors!
To strain liliko’i for juice, place the pulp and seeds together in a nut bag over a bowl or container. Squeeze the juice from the seeds and let it drain into your container.
Next I open my coconut. I started with a coconut with it’s husk. I sometimes buy coconuts that are shelled which can be opened with the back of a knife or hammer. For a coconut with the husk attached, I use a machete and chop off the bottom of the coconut until the shell is revealed. I then chop at the top of the shell creating a small opening from which I can drain the water. After draining the water, I chop the coconut vertically until it splits in half. For coconuts with no husk, just the shell, I cut open the soft eye and drain the water. I hold the coconut horizontally so the eye is facing away from me. I then hit the coconut with the back side of a sturdy chef’s knife and rotate it. I keep hitting it until I hear a flat spot in the shell. This is a soft spot on the shell. I keep hitting the coconut on this spot until it breaks in half. One of my favorite websites Food52 gives a great coconut opening demo on one of their pages.
Coconut meat can be very difficult to separate from the shell. The more mature the coco, the thicker the meat, thus the harder it will be to extract. An amazing tool to invest in is a sharp curved blade with a handle that will scoop the meat right out of the shell. I purchased mine from a friend however they can be found online.
For the crust I use Big Island macadamia nuts. I purchase them at the Healthy Hut or Hoku Whole Foods in bulk. They have the best flavor and are consistently fresh. I process the mac nuts in a food processor until crumbly. I add a little sea salt and coconut oil to make it cohesive. I then press the mix down into a springform cake pan and freeze for 15 minutes.
2 1/2 Cups mac nuts
2 Tablespoon coconut oil liquid
1 Teaspoon sea salt
Place nuts in food processor with s blade until crumbly. Reserved 1/2 Cup for garnish. Transfer remaining nuts to a mixing bowl, add coconut oil and sea salt and incorporate. Transfer to springform cake pan and press mix down covering surface of pan. Freeze for 15 minutes.
2 Cups liliko’i juice (about 20 liliko’i)
1 Cup coconut meat
2 Cups coconut butter
1 Cup coconut oil liquid state
1 Cup local honey
Place all filling ingredients in vita mix until very smooth. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Pour mix over crust, cover and refrigerate overnight until cake sets. Garnish with reserved chopped mac nuts and honey. Cut and serve!
Opah, also known as moonfish, is one of my favorite types of fish. For this preparation, I brushed nori with a wasabi and mustard paste, added cress, wrapped the opah in the nori and baked it for 10 minutes. Opah is an oily fish, high in Omega 3’s yet mild in flavor. Adding the bold mustards and baking the opah in nori creates a tender, rich, flavorful dish. Cilantro and dill can be used instead of cress and are equally as great.
Brush the nori with equal parts mustard and wasabi paste. Make the wasabi paste first. Then mix it with an organic stone ground mustard.
Place the opah with fresh herbs on the nori, roll forward tucking in the sides until a nice tight seal is made.
For the vegetables I roasted ulu, carrots, turnips, and collard greens from One Song Farm. One Song has the most beautiful collard greens, cabbages, lettuce, Tahitian taro and eggplant. Lisa Fuller part owner with Sun is making fantastic kim chee and a variety of pickled vegetables with their gorgeous organic produce grown on Kalihiwai Ridge. They can be found at the Kilauea Farmers market at 9am every Saturday. Get their early because everything they have sells out fast!
The purple cabbage is a quick pickled cabbage. I marinate purple cabbage in rice wine vinegar, lemon, salt and Kilauea honey and let it sit in the fridge a couple of hours. The marinade should be strong, lemony, salty and sweet. I do this type of quick pickling frequently to add a punchy condiment to bring out the rest of the flavors in the dish!
Featuring the Kailani Farms mixed green salad with radicchio, home grown, marinated beets and carrots, Kunana Dairy chevre, and toasted walnuts. Tossed with fresh herbs and an orange tarragon vinaigrette. This salad, enjoyed by last weekends guests at the Makale’a Palms wedding is one of three salad choices on my catering menu.
Lettuce cups with green papaya, carrots, avocado, Big Island macadamia nuts, and lemon basil, coconut cream sauce. Light, crunchy, creamy, salty, so delicious!
Fresh wild caught ahi poke with wasabi aioli on seaweed crisps.
Fresh Lomi with Kunana Dairy cherry tomatoes, local sweet onions and wild caught smoked salmon. Laulau isn’t complete without Lomi and poi!
Macadamia nut crusted wild caught Ono, lemongrass coconut rice, and Kaneshiro Farms pork laulau.
2 Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes
Alaea Sea Salt
1 Coconut Cream 7 oz package (“Let’s Do Organic” brand)
Juice of 1-2 Limes
1 inch Ginger
Alaea Sea Salt
1/4 Cup chopped Cilantro
1/4 Cup chopped Basil
1/4 Cup chopped Mint
1-2 inch grated Ginger
Aelea Sea Salt
Thinly slice sweet potatoes as thin as you can possibly slice them. At the most 1/8 “. The thinner they are the crunchier they will be. A mandolin is easiest to use on these and will get the thinnest most consistent cut but you can use a knife. Toss potatoes in room temperature coconut oil and a little salt. Place on baking sheet in one layer. If they are overlapping they will steam and not crisp. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, flip and bake another 10 minutes. If they are not crispy enough bake longer. Watch closely so they do not burn.
Soak package of coconut cream in hot water until it is pliable and easy to remove from package. Remove from package and place in vitamix with 1 cup of water and blend with ginger, lime juice and salt. Refrigerate until it returns to solid form.
Chop all herbs, add grated ginger, salt and drizzle with liquid coconut oil. Mix well.
Place pesto on chips, add a dollop of coconut cream and serve.
Okinawan purple sweet potatoes can easily be found in grocery stores and health food stores all over Kauai however they are usually from Molokai, Maui or the Big Island. There is not a large commercial crop of Okinawan sweet potatoes in production on Kauai. Kolo Kai Farms sells them at the Thursday Kilauea farmers market however. They specialize in growing these sweet potatoes organically along with ginger, turmeric, galangal, avocado and various greens. I try to get my sweet potatoes from them depending on availability. Check out their beautiful new website! Good people!
All the herbs I used came from our garden but are also available at the farmers markets. The Saturday market in Kilauea has several vendors with a beautiful array of herbs. Now is the time for cilantro, mint is year round and basil is more prolific in the summer however, I have had my little basil finissimo plant for almost 9 months and it’s still going strong. I got it from Robin at Heaven on Earth Starts also at the Saturday Kilauea farmers market. This plant continues to produce heavily even after falling over 5 or 6 times in heavy rain.
Cilantro does best here in winter and spring. I direct sow seeds in a raised bed with 3 rows about 6 inches between each row. I thin them at 4 inches, keep the remaining plants in the ground and harvest the leaves individually until it goes to seed. I save the seeds for replanting or cooking.
Thank you for visiting! A hui hou! Until next time!
Need a light, crunchy appetizer bursting with flavor? Featuring the cucumber zest pupu: locally grown cucumbers, pickled radishes, and fennel pesto. The fennel is roasted with garlic and salt and minced into a paste. Radishes are marinated in lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, mint and orange zest. Sitting atop Kauai Fresh Farms cucumber: it’s fresh, vibrant and singing! Lucky we live Kauai!
Photos by Paul Myers
1 lb cucumber
1 bunch radishes
1 fennel bulb
2 tablespoons each cilantro, mint, tarragon
1 inch ginger
I used a zester to make the decorative design on the cucumber and a mandolin to shave the cucumber to 1/4″ thickness. Shave carrots as thin as possible with vegetable peeler or mandolin. Shave or slice radishes to 1/4″ thickness. Slice or shave fennel to 1/4″. Section 1 orange and juice the other two. Juice limes. Chop herbs. Fine mince ginger until it’s almost a paste. Combine orange juice, lime juice, ginger and salt. Add to vegetables and orange sections and let marinate 1 hour before serving. The longer the salad marinates the better it is!
Cucumbers are challenging to grow on Kauai so I leave this one to the pros. Dylan Strong of Growing Strong Farms grows beautiful organic cucumbers and sells them at the Wednesday Kapa’a farmers market. He covers each cucumber in a protective sleeve so it does not get stung by the fruit fly which damages most squash on Kauai. Kauai Fresh Farms grows their cucumbers hydroponically in a greenhouse which also protects them from being stung. Their cucumbers can be found at most health food stores and at Banana Joe’s, an old school fruit stand in Kilauea that sells local fruit, produce and a plethora of Kauai made goodies!
Radishes are an easy grow here. They germinate quickly and mature in 30 days or less. They are so refreshing and wonderful to balance salads that need a loud, spicy quality or crunchy texture. Pickled radishes are also great to have on hand as a condiment to savory, fatty, salty foods. Radishes are in the Brassica family. I plant them in a composted, raised bed after a non-Brassica for crop rotation. They are a light feeder so I don’t use a fertilizer. I direct sow the seeds 1/2 inch below surface. When the radish sprouts are 2 inches I thin them to 1 inch spacing. Not thinning will cause the radishes to grow vertically instead of nice and round. After I thin, I dress sprouts with Hawaiian spirulina tea. Any kelp, seaweed or compost tea will do. This helps with any shock the roots experience due to thinning. Save the sprouts and add to a salad or as a garnish for a hint of heat.
Shaved carrots gave me a greater appreciation for the humble carrot. Slicing them paper thin and marinating them in lemon juice and orange juice makes them tender, delicate and bursting with flavors. They become a versatile vehicle for many herbs and marinades. They can be sliced on a mandolin or vegetable peeler. I like the mandolin however, because it’s fast and makes a more consistent peel. Some exciting news about carrots for Kauai is that a couple of farmers have been growing carrots for seed which is a considerably long process and takes an ample amount of space. The seeds are not yet available commercially but will be soon. Robin, of Heaven on Earth Starts will be the first to have them. Her starts are available at the Kilauea Farmers Market on Saturday’s from 9-1 and at Hoku Whole Foods in Kapa’a. I have the best luck with my carrots in the fall, winter and spring. I try to plant as many seeds as I can during this time because the summer may be too warm for them to germinate. Some summers I have been able to grow them others not. I always dig a deep fluffy bed for carrots so the roots will have plenty of space to grow vertically. I usually plant after a light feeder such as arugula, beans or herbs. I add compost and Hendrikus complete fertilzer. Carrots take 7-14 days to germinate. After they get to be 4 inches I thin them to 2-3 inches apart. I then feed with compost tea or Hawaiian spirulina to support the seedlings after thinning. Once a month until maturity, I feed them with more compost tea or spirulina tea.
Words cannot express how happy I am that I have a beautiful row of fennel right now. It is a consolation for the shorter winter days and 2 weeks of straight rain we just had! I am also very excited that after many years of cooking I finally figured out a use for the stalks other than using them for tea and stock. Fennel pesto! That is most likely my next post! For this salad I use only the bulb and shave it thinly on the mandolin. It’s crunchy, celery like texture and licorice flavor are a perfect compliment to the flavors and feels of the other ingredients. Growing tips for fennel can be found on my post for the Lilikoi Tarragon Chevre Salad.
Cilantro grows best in the winter and spring. It likes the cool weather and ample rainfall. I plant cilantro similar to radishes. Direct sow to 1/4″ in a composted raised bed. I feed with spirulina or compost tea when seedlings are 4 inches. When harvesting I select the outer leaves only, not the entire plant. It will continue to grow until it goes to seed. When it begins to go to seed, I harvest the whole plant or let it continue to seed. The seeds can be harvested and used fresh in salads or left to dry on the plant. If left to dry they can be collected and replanted or used to make coriander powder.
Check out my previous posts for information on ginger, mint and tarragon.
As spring approaches citrus is beginning to dwindle. I stock up from the farmers markets and juice oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits and freeze them. Perfect for defrosting and adding to salads and marinades! Lucky we live Kauai!
Honua means earth in Hawaiian, a perfect description for this detoxifying and nourshing tea. Ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, mint, tulsi (holy basil) and lemon basil are the wonders featured in this tea. Most of these herbs and aromatics are grown in my small garden plot and in neighboring areas. These delightful plants bring beauty to the garden and an abundant array of flavors and nutritional qualities to meals, beverages and desserts.
Most of them are available at any of the health food stores and farmers markets on the island. Also, the Kauai Farmacy is a beautiful herb farm in Kilauea selling ready made tea blends made with fresh herbs. Their tulsi, mamaki, lemongrass blend is so refreshing and delicious! They offer a number of other locally made medicinal products such as herbal bath blends, tinctures and “buzz chew”!
Tulsi is an aromatic plant native to the Asian subcontinent that has been used for thousands of years for religious purposes and as an overall health tonic. Some of the many purported health benefits are remedying common colds, stomach disorders, nerve issues, kidney stones, headaches, and respiratory and heart disorders. Tulsi is in the Lamiaceae family along with mint and basil which grow abundantly in the tropics. The tulsi plant growing near my garden plot at the Regenerations International Botanical Garden is a bushy shrub often reaching 6-7 feet in height. Acting similar to any basil plant, it begins to flower and requires pruning to continue leaf production. This remarkable plant can literally be cut back to a nub and regenerate leaf production to it’s previous height of 6-7 feet within a couple of months. Not only is it rich in medicinal qualities it has a uniquely, wonderful cinnamon and citrus flavor unlike any aromatic herb I have tasted. Tulsi can grow easily in a pot or in well drained soil. It is best to grow tulsi from a seed in a small 4 inch pot and then transfer to a garden bed or 10 gallon pot.
Lemon basil and mint are pictured above. Lemon basil is also easy to grow and intensely flavorful. I use it for pesto, chopped fresh in salads, in marinades for meats and fish, in desserts and of course for tea. It has the lovely licorice flavor of basil with a pungent lemon scent.
Lemon basil can be started from seed and transplanted to a 10 gallon pot or garden space. It likes full sun, moderate water, a little compost and well drained soil. I feed mine once a month with Hawaiian spirulina tea and it lives 9 months. I just cut the flowers back and it continues it’s leaf production instead of going to seed.
In addition to it’s refreshing flavor mint is highly medicinal. It is known to aid digestion, alleviate nausea, headaches, stress and fatigue. Mint is easily transplanted with another mint plant with runners attached to its roots. It is recommended to plant mint in a pot or container due to it’s aggressive root system. If not maintained it can potentially become a nuisance overtaking other plants and areas nearby. The mint I have now is running loose but I cut it back frequently and it remains manageable. It does best with medium water, loose soil and partial sun.
Lemongrass is a multi purpose grass easy to grow in warm climates. It has a wonderfully aromatic lemon scent and flavor. It can be used for tea, soups, curries, broths and with meats, fish and vegetables. Lemongrass is used medicinally to treat skin conditions, digestive disorders, influenza and is also used as an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. It can also be used as slug repellent. Slugs in our garden can decimate a young start in one night. I surround the young plant with chopped pieces of the grassy part of the lemongrass and it deters slugs every time. The theory is that they do not like crossing over the prickly surface of the grass.
A clump of lemongrass with roots still attached will start a new plant. It likes full sun, moderate water and well drained soil. We have one plant in our garden and it is plenty for regular home use. To harvest, cut off a stalk closest to the bottom of the plant without cutting the roots. This will enable a new stalk to grow in place of the old. If buying lemongrass at a market or in the store, it’s best to purchase firm yellow green stalks. They should not be rubbery or brown. Dried lemongrass is sometimes available at Asian markets and health food stores. For making tea I pound the bottom 4 inches of the stalk to bruise and release the flavors and oils.
Ginger is a rhizome of the ginger plant Zingiber officinale. The picture shown above is a cluster of rhizomes growing up above ground and forming new stalks. Rhizomes are the rootstock of the plant which function as a propagative modified rootstock. The rhizome reproduces additional rhizomes asexually underground as well as stalks above ground.
Ginger can be planted in a pot or garden bed with a temperature range between 68-86 degrees. Plant a healthy rhizome with a few nodes on it 2-3 inches under surface of composted, well drained soil. It likes partial to full sun, moderate water, enough space to reproduce and loose soil. After a few weeks a green stalk will emerge above ground. The shoot is erect and reed-like with linear leaves that are arranged alternately on the stem. Ginger is harvested when the stalk and it’s beautiful cone shaped flower have withered and died. Younger ginger, used for pickling, is harvested before the stalk flowers when it is delicate and tender. To harvest loosen and sift through soil a few inches under and away from the rhizome and gently detach pieces. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry for a few days so it does not mold. Wrap in towel and refrigerate to preserve.
Ginger has a long history of being used as medicine in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions. In China, for example, ginger has been used to help digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years. Ginger has also been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions. It has been used to help treat the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and painful menstrual periods. Ginger deserves an entire post of it’s own really.
Beautiful turmeric flower. Turmeric is in the same family as ginger, the Zingiberaceae. It is grown and harvested the same way. Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds. It has a delicious earthy, mild flavor, a perfect compliment to ginger.
Honua Tea Recipe
4 Cups water brought to a near boil
2 Inches peeled chopped turmeric
2 Inches peeled chopped ginger
1/4 Cup fresh chopped tulsi
1/4 Cup fresh chopped mint
1/4 Cup fresh chopped lemon basil
2 four inch pieces bruised lemongrass stalk
Steep herbs in ceramic pot for 5 minutes or longer. Strain herbs and enjoy hot or refrigerate and enjoy cold. This can also be made as sun tea. Place all herbs in a one quart glass jar and leave in sun for 24 hours. Strain and enjoy.