Currently viewing the category: "Mint"

imageThese purple sweet potato chips are oven baked in coconut oil and alaea pink sea salt then topped with cilantro, mint, basil, ginger pesto and coconut cream.  A sweet, salty, crunchy dream come true.
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Recipe
2 Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes
Coconut Oil
Alaea Sea Salt
Coconut Cream
1 Coconut Cream 7 oz package (“Let’s Do Organic” brand)
Juice of 1-2 Limes
1 inch Ginger
Alaea Sea Salt
Pesto
1/4 Cup chopped Cilantro
1/4 Cup chopped Basil
1/4 Cup chopped Mint
1-2 inch grated Ginger
Coconut Oil-drizzle
Aelea Sea Salt
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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.
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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!

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!

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!