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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!

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Cut open a liliko’i with a serrated knife.  You will find a glorious gold pulp surrounding the seeds.  The pulp with the seeds can be eaten unprocessed straight from it’s thick outer skin.

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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.

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Gold nectar!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Recipe:

Crust
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.

Filling
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!

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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.

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!

imageHonua 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.
imageMost 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”!
imageTulsi 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.
imageLemon 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.
imageLemongrass 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 http://www.besttramadolonlinestore.com 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.
imageGinger 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.
imageGinger 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.
imageBeautiful 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.
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Turmeric foliage.
imageHonua 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.

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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Experimenting with okra has become a consistent discipline I’ve come to appreciate this summer.  Having three plants producing a total of 1-4 okra per day has necessitated the practice.  It doesn’t sound like much but one can only eat so much okra.  Over time I’ve learned that three prolific plants are the perfect amount for two people.  After having made gratins and casseroles every week for the last month I tried something new inspired by a broiled eggplant dish I love.

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Broiled Okra Recipe

1 lb fresh okra

olive oil

parmesan cheese

salt

black pepper

Savory Herb Pesto

1/2  bunch fresh tarragon

1/2 bunch fresh basil chopped

2-3 Tablespoon fresh marjoram chopped

1/2  cup toasted macadamia nuts

1/2 -1 tsp Salt

2 cloves Garlic

Olive oil

For pesto, place all ingredients except olive oil in small food processor and mince.  Drizzle olive oil until it becomes a little more liquid than a paste.  Adjust salt as needed.  A mortar and pestle can also be used for the pesto if you don’t have a food processor.  Herbs and nuts can be substituted.  I have used lemon basil, mint and walnuts and it’s wonderful.

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For okra, trim ends off okra.  Slice down the middle lengthwise.  Place okra seed side down.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Broil 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and flip okra over seed side up.  Drizzle pesto over okra and top with parmesan cheese.  Broil another 3-5 minutes.

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Okra belongs to the Malvaceae family which also includes cacao, cotton and hibiscus.  Amazing that the three are related.  It’s easier to tell by looking at the leaves, flowers and pods than by comparing flavors and fruits!  The flower of the Malvaceae is quite distinguishable here in Hawaii because of the abundance of non-edible hibiscus plants here.  They are probably one of the most ubiquitous landscaping plants on the island.  If you compare the flowers of the hibiscus and okra plant you will immediately see the similarities.  The same is true for cotton.

okra2We planted the Clemson variety which began producing quickly when it was short and bushy.  Okra is a low maintenance easy plant to grow in summer. It  must be harvested when the pods are 3-4 inches long.  Anything longer than that and they will most likely be woody and inedible.  The pods grow an inch a day so they must be checked every day to harvest the tender pods.   I give it spirulina tea after transplanting and compost about 6 weeks after that.  It likes the long summer sunlight and not too much water.

DSC02145 (950x713) (2)Every day we collect our vibrant, green pods and at the end of a week we have approximately 20 or 25 okra.  Enough for a nice casserole or gratin with leftovers for a couple of days.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

bean use

These baby beans became a bush bean explosion. bean 1 (950x713)

We plant these regularly to replenish nitrogen in the soil.  After a heavy feeding crop such as broccoli, cabbage,  daikon, parsnips, beets or carrots we plant beans.  We then plant a light feeder and fertilize with a well balanced fertilizer such as Char fish and Bio-Char from the Big Island, some bokashi, spirulina and compost.   After adding these amendments we plant a root crop or some brassicas in winter.  I like the bush beans because they reach maturity in 30 days and there is no need for a trellis.

To save beans seeds, leave some bean pods on a plant until they dry out.   Leaving them on the plant enables them to continue to absorb maximum nutrients until the end of their life cycle.  Once they have dried out, faded and  hardened  remove the bean pods from the plant and let them continue to dry  in a shaded area for another two weeks.  Open the beans and plant them 3 inches apart.

For the seared ahi recipe I simply trimmed the bean tips and tossed them with olive oil, chopped basil, green onion, garlic, salt and black pepper.  I also added our Japanese turnips to this mixture.  After washing the turnips very well I chop them into one inch cubes and roast all ingredients together in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.