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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.
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Marinate the opah in tamari, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.  Let sit in the refrigerator a few hours.
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Brush the nori with equal parts mustard and wasabi paste.  Make the wasabi paste first.  Then mix it with an organic stone ground mustard.
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Place the opah with fresh herbs on the nori, roll forward tucking in the sides until a nice tight seal is made.
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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!

 

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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.
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Lettuce cups with green papaya, carrots, avocado, Big Island macadamia nuts, and lemon basil, coconut cream sauce.  Light, crunchy, creamy, salty, so delicious!
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Fresh wild caught ahi poke with wasabi aioli on seaweed crisps.
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Fresh Lomi with Kunana Dairy cherry tomatoes, local sweet onions and wild caught smoked salmon. Laulau isn’t complete without Lomi and poi!
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Macadamia nut crusted wild caught Ono, lemongrass coconut rice, and Kaneshiro Farms pork laulau.

pmm_20140301_153Need 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!
pmm_20140301_109pmm_20140301_100pmm_20140301_096Photos by Paul Myers

 

imageThis colorful, flavorful salad features 100% Kauai grown fruits and vegetables:  cucumbers, carrots, fennel, radishes, oranges, lime juice, ginger, tarragon, mint and cilantro!

Recipe
1 lb cucumber
2 carrots
1 bunch radishes
1 fennel bulb
3 oranges
2 limes
2 tablespoons each cilantro, mint, tarragon
1 inch ginger
salt

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!
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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! image
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. image
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 http://laparkan.com/buy-tadalafil/ 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. fenneluse
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!

pmm_20131009_470This traditional Mexican soup has been on my list of things to make for some time.  Inspired by a former co-worker who made Albondigas soup for our kitchen staff family meal.  Esteban was one of the best line cooks I have ever worked with.  Quiet, methodical, clandestine.  He had 10 plates working and made it look like two.  An ex-wrestler, culinary grad with a great palette.  The recipe was his grandmother’s.  His simple, flavorful soup is one of the best soups I have ever tasted.  My version has a different theme but my homage is still to the duo that perfected it.

Albondigas Soup Recipe
2 large onion
2 carrots
8 cloves garlic
4 cups kabocha squash
1 cup fresh chopped herbs (basil, tarragon, mint, oregano)
1/2 cup chopped mint
2 cups tomatillos or tomatoes chopped
8 cups stock or water
1 lb free range or organic ground beef or turkey
1 lb green beans
salt
1 green onion
black pepper
2 Hawaiian chile pepper
Olive oil

Peel and chop 1st four ingredients. Saute onion in a soup pot til soft and golden.  Add carrots, squash, 6 cloves of  garlic, and the 2 hot pepper and saute about 5 minutes until everything is coated with olive oil and heated.  Add minced herbs to pot for 2-3 minutes.  Add diced tomatillos or tomatoes.  Let this combination saute for 10 minutes stirring frequently adding olive oil if needed.  Add stock and bring to a soft boil.  Add meatballs.  Simmer 20 minutes.   Garnish with a pinch of fresh chopped herbs.

Meatballs
Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 cup chopped mint, 1 minced green onion, salt and black pepper to ground meat.  Mix thoroughly.  Roll into small meatballs.

pmm_20131009_223pmm_20131009_283pmm_20131009_347For the meatballs I used Princeville Ranch Beef, a family owned ranch just 2 miles from our home.  It is not certified organic but the cattle are humanely raised and free of hormones and antibiotics.  Local meat  is not in abundant supply for retail purchase on Kauai.  The supply has increased recently but is still limited.  Princeville Ranch sells their beef at the Princeville Chevron.  Yes I wrote Chevron.  It is delivered on Thursdays and often sold out by Monday.  Some ranchers and farmers only sell their beef and lamb to restaurants or wholesale.  Kaneshiro Farms sells their pork and lamb wholesale directly and retail at Kojima’s store in Kapa’a and a handful of other stores.  Moloka’i and Big Island beef are also available in various markets around the Island.  The absence of federally certified slaughterhouses to process meat is the main reason there is not much available in the retail sector.  The Kauai Grown website is a comprehensive and streamlined site for finding local meat and locally made products.

pmm_20131009_056pmm_20131009_072pmm_20131009_113pmm_20131009_410We love kabocha squash on Kauai because it grows so well and is one of the few squashes that will survive the nagging sting of the fruit fly.   It also tastes so wonderful, somewhat of a cross between a pumpkin and a butternut squash.  Hearty, not too sweet, versatile.  It does take a bit of space to grow so if this is not an option they can be found at most farmer’s markets.  If a kabocha is not available use a squash or potato grown  in your area.  Fellow farmers Jillian and Gary Seal’s have a CSA and just yesterday announced butternut squash in this week’s CSA boxes!  They are at kauaifarmconnection.com located in Kilauea on a beautiful 12 acre working farm, the real deal! Organic Sweet potatoes grown in Kilauea can also be found at the Tuesday Waipa market at 2 pm and the Thursday Kilauea market at 4:30 from Ben Ferris of Kolo Kai Farms.

pmm_20131009_354pmm_20131009_383Herbs.  Grow as many as you possibly can.   Grow them in pots, on your lanai, in your yard, on your kitchen window sill.  Parsley, marjoram, basil, dill, tarragon, mint, lemon basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, lovage, sorrel, chervil. Having a stock pile of  fresh herbs will change your relationship with food and with life.   Herbs are the impetus that inspire me to create .  They remind me of the close friends  that augment the joys of living and provide comfort in times of doubt. Herbs will transform any doldrum into a celebration reminding me that life is a series of incremental moments each replete with their own splendor.  This beautiful variegated Cuban Oregano produces large, luscious, pungent leaves.  It is so pretty in the garden I would plant it as an ornamental even if it wasn’t edible.

One last note about this soup is in regards to using either tomatillos or tomatoes.  Our one tomatillo plant has hundreds so that is what I used.  I love their tart, crisp flavor that is unique and refreshing.  Traditionally this soup calls for tomatoes but I am always willing to experiment with something that I have an over abundance of and take the chance that it will succeed.

Recently, I read a wonderful book by Tamar Adler “An Everlasting Meal”.  The Appendix of  her book is titled “Further Fixes”, en entire chapter devoted to fixing kitchen disasters.  The theme of the chapter is to take the risk, it can almost always be transformed into something else if the original intention failed.  Taking the risk is how exciting flavor combinations come to fruition.  It is being in the moment with intuition and understanding.  It is listening to ourselves, our palettes, our ideas, trusting with confidence, expressing, and enjoying.  More of a design for creating than following the recipe too closely.  I have a friend that is almost 90 years old.  He began painting some time in the last 20 years.  He always tells me when he looks back on his life, he wishes he had made more mistakes, because that is when he learned the most.

A hui hou! Until next time!

pmm_20130902_091Ulu, also known as breadfruit, is one of those exotic looking tropical foods that one often sees at a farmer’s market and wonders…”what is that and what do I do with it?”  I first became acquainted with Ulu while working at the Kunana Goat Dairy.  They have a lovely ulu tree that produces prolific amounts of ulu at the end of summer and on through winter.

Ulu is considered one of the canoe fruits, one of the plants considered important enough to the earliest Polynesian settlers to have brought it in their canoes, traveling to Hawaii from Oceania.  It is widespread throughout Asia and the South Pacific.  Ulu belongs to the Moraceae (fig or mulberry) family.  The fruit is actually thousands of little fruit growing together around a core to form a ball with polygonal markings at each fruit boundary.  The breadfruit tree is easily recognized by its bright dark-green leathery palmate or ruffled leaves, which are deeply lobed and can be up to three feet long. The branches reach out to a span of 30 to 60 feet.

ulu useThis tree is quite young, about 3 years old.

Why eat Ulu?  It’s delicious and nutritious.  Some refer to it as the “potato of the Pacific” however, when roasted, I think it resembles a plantain more than a potato.  It’s high in complex carbohydrates, low in fat, gluten-free, provides dietary fiber, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, thiamin and vitamins A and C.  It’s simple to cook with, freezes well and lends itself to almost any kitchen or cooking style.  Ulu is low maintenance to grow and produces high yields.  Definitely a sustainable food for Kauai.  It is also an important cultural food.  Historically, the tree’s trunk, leaves, flowers and sap provided timber, medicine, fiber, shade, caulking, glue, mosquito repellant, sandpaper and wood for furnishings, surfboards and canoes.  The National Tropical Botanical Garden website provides fascinating information as well as recipes for this tropical super food.

Ulu is quite versatile and can be cooked at a couple different stages of it’s life cycle for different results.   One stage is when it is mature and somewhat ripe just starting to get soft to the touch.  After cooking it resembles the flavor and texture of a potato or plantain.   Another stage is when it is very ripe and soft before it’s been cooked.  Just touching it will cause it to indent and your fingers to push right through.  This is the very sweet, pasty dessert stage.

There are several different ways to cook the different stages of ulu.  It can be boiled, baked, stewed, fried, broiled, you name it.   Determining when your ulu is perfectly ripe for the dish you would like to make, might take a little practice.  It did for me anyway.  I had a few trial and errors before deciding what I deemed “perfectly ripe”.  When the ulu is just soft to the touch it can be peeled, cored and is ready for use.  At this stage it will act as a “potato” type starch.  Once this soft ripening occurs it continues to ripen extremely rapidly however.  If you want to cook your ulu at this stage it has to be done that day or it will ripen to the point of the dessert stage by the next day.  I have refrigerated my perfectly ripe ulus or cooked them all at once and then refrigerated them to stop the ripening process.

Just after ripening the skin is easy to remove.  Simply shave it off with a knife as you would do an orange.  Cut it in half lengthwise and remove the core. pmm_20130903_043 (634x482)Cut away 1/2 inch of the area that was connected to the core.

pmm_20130903_063Cut into 1 inch cubes.

pmm_20130903_070Toss in olive oil, salt and garlic and roast it for 30-40 minutes at 350.  The garlic can be chopped, left whole, peeled or unpeeled.  After it’s cooled a little I toss it with fresh herbs.  The just ripe ulu that resembles a potato has a very mild, neutral flavor and will mostly absorb whatever herbs and seasonings you are using.

pmm_20130903_116 This is my favorite preparation.  It’s lovely tossed with tarragon and basil.  I often serve it in a green salad making the salad a bit heartier.  I also like to make a mash and serve under eggs, fish, beef or pork.  This can be done by placing baked ulu in a food processor and seasoning with salt, garlic and fresh herbs.  Ulu hummus is another preparation I love adding lemon, garlic, salt,  and parsley to the baked ulu and processing until smooth and creamy.

The most ripe ulu is extremely sweet.  It is so soft the entire core can be removed by pulling on the stem.  Once the stem and core are removed rub butter and cinnamon  into the center where the core was.  Bake the whole ulu for 45 minutes at 350.  After baking, cut in half and scoop out the meat for a thick, custardy treat.

ulucooked

I will have many more ulu recipes and preparations in the months to come.  It’s ulu  season!!!!!

A hui hou!

 

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This refreshing colorful salad is simple and quick to prepare yet satisfying and full of flavor.  It can easily be made into a dinner salad by adding a protein or enjoyed for lunch.  Most ingredients were recent harvests from our garden save for the Kauai Kunana Dairy chevre which is arguably the best part of the salad.  I could eat their cheese every day of my life for the rest of my life.  It’s the creamiest fresh chevre I have ever tasted.  My reasoning behind the cheese tasting so sublime is that the goats are treated like royalty. As they should be.

The Kunana Dairy is one industrious entity.  The Wooton’s make chevre (from milking their own dairy goats), grow a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs, make delicious baked goods, cultivate honey, make health and beauty products and give farm tours.  I probably missed something in there but you can see for yourself by going on their farm tour and seeing a successful working, family farm in action.

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For greens I used arugula because I love it and we have a ton of it.  This small crop is the second generation from the seeds we saved from the last crop.  It’s healthy, spicy and crisp! Arugula seeds are extremely easy to save.  Just let one of your prize arugula plants (one that was slow to go to seed, disease free and healthy) go to seed until the seed pods start drying out and turning brown.   Once they do this remove the plant, store it somewhere dry and cool (not in the sun) and hang it upside down for about two-three weeks.  Open seed pods, collect your seeds and plant them!

Bush beans! We had a 3 day respite from one crop to another and now we are back on.  Our first harvest was at least 2 lbs.  This crop is the “Provider” variety.  A little crunchier and fatter than our last “Tendergreen” bush bean but just as nice.  I sauteed these with garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil for 3-5 minutes.

The beets are just about the last from the spring crop.  It’s a little too hot for them in summer so we will plant more in the fall.  I boiled them for 20-30 minutes in salted water, dropped them in an ice bath until completely cooled and removed skins.  I then marinated them in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (this can be done the day before, the longer they marinate the better).

Fennel is the beauty queen of the garden pageant.fenneluseI could eat fennel every day.  It’s licorice/anise flavor is delicate and sweet.  It’s crunchy texture adds life and it is surprisingly versatile.  I often roast it with other vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, and beets.  I also roast it with chicken and herbs and use it’s beautiful sweeping tops for tea and stock.

Fennel is fairly easy to grow on Kauai.  It germinates well but is slow growing by nature.  It takes a full 3 months to reach maturity.  I should say it is slow growing for me because we usually eat it up before the next crop is planted.  I cut it at the base however, and a new bulb grows out of the original one which takes less time than to start again from seed.  I have grown fennel that has regenerated 3 times.  For the salad I simply cut off the tops and shave the bulb width wise using a mandolin or knife.  If the fennel is a little older cut out the core which is tough and inedible.

lilikoiuse

If fennel is the beauty queen lilikoi is the princess bride.  Also known as passionfruit, lilikoi is a wonderfully unique addition to many dishes.   Lilikoi is  a trifecta in flavor components.  It’s a little sweet, a little sour, a little bitter.  It grows on a vine during summer.  This is the lilikoi flower which will grow into  a green tennis ball size fruit ripening to yellow or purple. lilikoi2useTo eat the lilikoi, simply cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Lillikoi is a wonderful addition to fruit salad, savory salads, dressings, sauces, desserts, beverages etc.  It can be eaten with the seeds or blended and strained through a sieve to omit seeds.  Personally I like the crunch of the seeds for added texture.

The roasted pumpkin seeds are from the delicious kabocha squash.  The kabocha is one of the few (possibly the only) squash that grows on Kauai with a skin too thick to be stung by the fruit fly.  It’s a hearty, flavorful starch that  I love to use for soups, stews, and roasting.  The Regenerations International Botanical Garden harvested 300 from their food forest last spring. Some weighed 15-20 lbs!  Definitely a viable and sustainable food source for Kauai.

To get to the seeds, cut the squash open and scoop them out.  Remove pulp from seeds rinsing excess pulp off with cold water.  The seeds can be dried out for a couple of days in a cool dry area or they can be roasted in the oven right away.  I like to dry them out, they seem to have a little extra crunchy texture to them.  I season them with salt, black pepper, and olive oil before roasting for 20 minutes at 350.

 

Lilikoi Tarragon Chevre Recipe

8 Cups Arugula

4 beets

1 lb green beans

1 bulb fennel

6-8 oz chevre

1 cup pumpkin seeds

Lilikoi Tarragon Salad Dressing

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 lilikoi

1/2  inch ginger

1/4 cup fresh tarragon

1 lemon or lime

1 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

honey to taste (about 1-2 tsp)

Place vinegar, lilikoi, ginger, tarragon, lime, salt, and pepper in blender and blend until smooth.  Drizzle olive oil into blended ingredients while blender is on to emulsify dressing.  This gives the dressing a nice, thick and creamy texture.  I like my dressing on the acidic side so always adjust to your own taste.  The goal is to have the salt, acid from vinegar and lemon and sweetness in balance.

Salad

Wash arugula and spin dry in salad spinner.  Saute green beans with olive oil, salt and black pepper until al dente, about 7-8 minutes.

Place lid on the beans about 4 minutes through to steam them a little but stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Boil beets for 20-30 minutes until soft.  Not too soft though.  Poke with a bamboo skewer or fork to determine if they are ready.  The skewer should slide through easily.  Place in ice bath to cool.  When cool remove skins and quarter beets.  Marinate in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Cut tops from fennel and shave the fennel thinly, widthwise.

Season pumpkin seeds with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast 15-20 minutes.

To assemble salad, gently toss arugula with salt, pepper and 1/4 cup dressing.  In a separate bowl mix green beans and fennel with enough dressing to coat.  Place green beans and fennel on arugula.  Next place beets on arugula.  Then add chevre and pumpkin seeds. This can all be done in a large salad bowl or on individual plates.  Serve immediately as arugula wilts quickly.  Salad ingredients can all be made in advance then dressed just before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

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I remember a time when my only association with beets were with those that lived in a can. I didn’t pay attention to them until I was in my mid 30’s and a housemate and I joined a CSA. Most weeks we would receive fresh beets in our delivery. The only way I knew to prepare them then was to roast them. Eventually I began eating them raw, using them in soups, and marinating or steaming them. They also make a wonderful “butter”. Fortunately they grow well year round on Kauai reaching maturity in 60 days. They are incredibly sweet, juicy and full of flavor. Now that I have many uses for them I always have a row growing. Beets are a good source of dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Folate and Manganese.   I almost always have a batch of these pickled beets on hand.  They are the perfect condiment for salads, fish, meats, and vegetables.

Tarragon Marjoram Pickled Beets

4 Beets

1 1/2 Cups Balsamic Vinegar

4 cloves Garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Salt

1/4 Cup Tarragon, chopped

1/4 Cup Marjoram, chopped

Slice beets thin on a mandolin or with a knife.  I slice mine as thin as I possibly can if using a knife.  Add to a glass container with a nonreactive lid.  Add vinegar, garlic, salt, tarragon and marjoram.  Refrigerate overnight and then enjoy.  The flavor intensifies the longer it marinates.  Keeps well for 2 weeks in fridge.   Feel free to adjust recipes to your own palette! Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Mexican Tarragon

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This lovely plant has a sweet, subtle, anise flavor. It matches beets perfectly adding depth and originality. The Mexican Tarragon variety I am growing now is more heat tolerant than the French variety requiring full sun and little water. It bushes out and grows two-three feet high providing an abundant supply. The scent and taste of tarragon is disliked by many garden pests, making it useful for intercropping and as a companion plant, to protect its gardenmates. It is also reputed to be a nurse plant, enhancing growth and flavor of companion crops. The dried plant can be burned as an incense and to repel insects.

Marjoram

marjoram

Marjoram is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean, North Africa and Southwest Asia.  It was known to the Greeks and Romans as the symbol of happiness.  It belongs to the mint family with other more common herbs – basil, mint, oregano and sage.  It has a unique aroma and flavor that is floral, spicy, with a hint of citrus and pine.

Marjoram was not something that ever registered in my culinary psyche until I worked in a Kosher Mediterranean and Spanish  influenced restaurant in California.  Everything had to be extremely fresh, unprocessed and made from scratch.  Most herbs were ordered fresh, then cleaned and dried for storage if not used immediately.   Marjoram was one of the herbs used regularly and in abundance.  I fell in love with it.  When I returned to Kauai after working for the restaurant, it was one of the first herbs I planted.  This under appreciated herb is now one of my favorites.

I use marjoram in pesto with sage and parsley or chopped fresh and sprinkled over finished dishes.  It is compatible with basil, fennel, rosemary, and thyme.  Marjoram’s flavor intensifies as it dries however, dried, store bought marjoram does not do it justice!  If possible grow some of your own or purchase some fresh at the farmer’s market and dry it yourself.  The unique aroma of fresh marjoram will make a believer of anyone.

Marjoram is easy to grow and low maintenance.   It requires full sun, well drained soil, and a balanced compost.   It can be started from seed in cell trays and then transplanted or rooted from cuttings.  I trim the tops and sides every few days which encourages regrowth for an abundant supply.   If I don’t use it fresh I dry and store it.  I bought both my tarragon and marjoram starts from Robin, owner of Heaven on Earth Organics, at the Kilauea Farmer’s Market Saturday from 9am to 1pm.  Robin is a seed and start guru.  If I only need one of a certain plant I usually buy it from her.  Most other items I grow from seed. Robin is extremely knowledgeable about both farming and cooking.  A real gift to gardeners and Kauai!  She also sells her starts at Hoku Whole Foods in Kapa’a.

 

 

 

daikon final

Daikon have become an acquired taste for me. I grew my first crop as an experiment to see how well they would do and whether or not I would enjoy eating them.  They reached maturity in 30 days and they all reached maturity at the same time.  Some were developing a  bacterial wilt that can be common in brassicas however,  so we harvested them all at the same time.  Twenty daikon is a bit much for two people to eat within a reasonable time frame.  I decided to take the preservation route.  I’m thrilled to say that pickled daikon is now one of my very favorite condiments. The aromatics and vinegar cause the radish to burst with flavor and the chile adds the perfect amount of heat. I use them as a garnish for salads, fish, wraps, or even as a light snack.  Daikon is a good source of Vitamin C, minerals and beneficial digestive enzymes.

Did I mention they are easy to grow?  They also go to seed here which means the seed can be saved and replanted without being purchased from the mainland.

Ginger Pickled Daikon

4 large daikon radish julienned

2 cups rice wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon salt

1/4 c tamari

2 inches minced  ginger

8 cloves garlic

2 hawaiian hot chiles (more or less according to your preference)

Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar with a non reactive lid.  Let sit 24 hours before serving.  Flavor intensifies the longer it sits.  Can last several months in refrigerator.

 

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I would like to add that ginger is a highly medicinal and wonderful aromatic used world wide.  Ginger is reported to be a digestive aid, alleviates highblood pressure, treats nausea and morning sickness, and lowers LDL cholesterol. The two cultivars grown in Hawaii, much of it in Hilo and Puna on the Big Island, are Japanese and Chinese.  The predominant cultivar grown and sold in Hawaii is the Chinese variety.  It has larger rhizomes, lighter colored flesh and considered not as pungent as the Japanese.   Buy organic ginger! Conventional ginger is treated with many fungicides and pesticides.

My favorite Kauai ginger farmer is Ben Ferris, owner of Kolo Kai Farms in Kilauea. He is certified organic and his ginger is beautiful.  He also sells sweet potatoes, avocado and a variety of fruits and vegetables.  His goods are available at the Thursday farmer’s market in Kilauea and the Tuesday farmer’s market just passed Hanalei in Waipa.

My favorite ginger/farming website…..Seriously….go to this website for ginger entertainment in Puna!

pickled daikon

Hawaii Grown Hot Chiles

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Pretty Purple Pepper Variety Regenerations Botanical Garden

 

Sweet peppers are not a highly successful crop on Kauai due to the Solanaceae Fruit Fly.  This pest can destroy most varieties in the Solanaceae family .  This particular fruit fly has 33 hosts it can lay its larvae within thereby making the fruit inedible.  Luckily, Hawaiian hot peppers remain largely unaffected by this fly.   And they are HOT!  I usually use 1-2 peppers for seasoning and this is plenty heat for me.  The pepper plants are high producing and easy to grow.  I just feed it compost at the roots and spirulina tea once a month and it produces dozens of  small 1-1 1/2 inch peppers.  I use them for hot sauce, pickling, chile powder and any dish needing a punch.  One Kauai farmer that grows beautiful sweet peppers, cucumbers, watermelon and a variety of other foods is Dylan Strong of Growing Strong Farms.  He shelters his crops with hand made protective coverings and gives them lots of TLC!  Visit him at the Kapa’a farmer’s market Wednesday’s at 3 pm.  Get there early!

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This Pretty Purple Hot Pepper is growing at the Regenerations Botanical Garden and Food Forest.

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Hawaiian Hot Chile

 

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Thai Chile Pepper