Thursday, December 8, 2016

BBQ Kalua Pork Sandwich

Take the barbecue pulled pork sandwich concept, throw in a little Hawaii flavor flair, and you end up with an amazing sandwich that you just can't stop eating.

You should have all the ingredients on hand, except maybe for the kalua (pit-smoked) pork, which is readily available in Hawaii supermarkets or online.

And, there's a minimum of prep and mixing involved, unless you have a special cole slaw recipe and make an incredible potato salad. I'll leave those up to you.

You'll notice there are no amounts given in the ingredient list. Just use what you have, as much or as little as it takes to make enough sandwiches to feed your horde. A carton or package of kalua pork makes 3-4 sandwiches.

  • SESAME SEED HAMBURGER BUNS, 1 or more packages
  • BUTTER, quite a bit, softened
  • BARBECUE SAUCE, store-bought or homemade.
  • SWEET ONION SLABS, 3-4" diameter, ¼" thick, one per sandwich
  • COLE SLAW, store-bought, KFC, or homemade

  1. Break up the kalua pork in a pan, squirt in a more-than-adequate amount of your favorite barbecue sauce. Mix and heat through.
  2. Butter the insides of the buns and pan toast them until golden brown. Remove them to your cutting board.
  3. Cover the bottom of a bun with an onion slab.
  4. Pile the BBQ kalua pork high on onion.
  5. Top with a ridiculous amount of cole slaw and the bun's top half. Try to keep the sandwich from toppling over.
  6. Serve with potato salad and a dill pickle spear (or 2, or 3), and plenty of napkins. Goes great with beer or an ice-cold Coca-Cola®.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Taco Cake

I found another winning recipe on Facebook a few weeks ago. If you love Mexican food—tacos in particular, I think you'll like this variation on regular tortilla tacos.

The only thing is that it's quite time-consuming. There's a lot of chopping and slicing to get the mise-en-place right.

I also spent quite a bit of time stacking the layers, trying to get the ingredients distributed evenly, all the way out to the edges. Didn't do too great a job; consequently, my "cake" bulged in the middle and sloped down the sides.

Yet, I will say it was delicious. I mean, what the heck, it was a giant taco and I love tacos!

  • GROUND BEEF, 1-1/2 pounds
  • TACO SEASONING MIX, 1 package 
  • BEEF STOCK, 2/3 cup
  • CORN NIBLETS, 1/2 cup
  • CHERRY TOMATOES, 1 cup, diced
  • BLACK OLIVES, 1 can, chopped
  • GREEN ONIONS, 1/2 cup, finely sliced 
  • CHEDDAR CHEESE, 1 cup, shredded

  1. Brown the ground beef, drain fat.
  2. Add taco seasoning and beef stock. Cook down 5-10 minutes.
  3. Spoon a couple of ladles of the beef mix onto a tortilla.
  4. Sprinkle on about 1/4 of the corn, tomatoes, olives, green onions and cheese.
  5. Repeat 3 more times.
  6. Top with the final tortilla and sprinkle on the remaining beef mixture and cheese.
  7. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with sour cream, and salsa or pico de gallo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Punahou Portuguese Bean Soup

Every year during the annual Punahou School Carnival weekend, my son brings home a container of Portuguese bean soup from the carnival. They’re pretty famous, you know—the carnival and the bean soup.

I got to hankering for some bean soup a short while back, and looked up the recipe. It had one ingredient I’ve never put in my Portuguese bean soup before: Potatoes. So anyway, I thought I’d give it a try, tweaking it a tiny bit to my tastebuds’ expectations. Plus, it gave me a chance to use my new veggie chopper that I bought from a Facebook ad.

You know what? I like it! The soup and the chopper. Therefore, it’s the recipe I’ll be using from now-on-in, and I’ve thrown my old recipe away.

Just so you know, this recipe makes a lot of soup—at least a gallon, maybe more.

  • HAM BONE/HOCKS, 1-2 pounds
  • KIDNEY BEANS, two 15-ounce cans
  • POTATOES, 2 large, cubed
  • CARROTS, 3 large, diced
  • ONION, 1 medium, chopped
  • CRUSHED TOMATOES, one 16-ounce can
  • TOMATO SAUCE, one 16-ounce can
  • PORTUGUESE/LINGUISA SAUSAGE, at least 1 pound sliced in circles
  • ELBOW MACARONI, 1 cup uncooked
  • GARLIC, 2 cloves
  • SUGAR, 1 teaspoon
  • SALT, 1 teaspoon
  • PEPPER, 1/2 teaspoon
  • CABBAGE, 1 medium head, cubed

  1. Boil ham hocks or ham bone in 2 quarts of water, about an hour, until tender (save the stock). Cut meat from the bones, chop up.
  2. Bring ham stock back to a boil; chopped meat and all the remaining ingredients except the cabbage.
  3. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently.
  4. If too thick, add a little water.
  5. Add the cabbage, cook another half-hour until tender.
  6. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cranberry Walnut Bread

First, a caveat. I made this loaf in David Howard’s Handmade Stoneware Pottery, which I ordered from his Gatlinburg, TN, store.

You can find him online at or call him at (865) 430-3387. Or, if you want to go the old-fashioned snail mail route, write him at 170 Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

You’ll get it in about a month (Hey! It’s handmade, y’know).

Instead of sifting the flour, I whisked vigorously with a wire whisk. The object of whisking is to loosen, aerate and separate the flour; since I was going to use a whisk anyway, why use a sifter or sieve and have another implement to wash later?

I couldn’t find the recommended Cran-Fruit© at the supermarket, so I substituted dried cranberries and soaked them in sherry to rehydrate them. HINT: Use good sherry, and don’t throw it away after you’ve soaked the cranberries. Save it to use in other dishes, if you can resist drinking it. I drank mine while waiting for the bread to bake. Little sips … it’s delicious!

I put the bread maker on a wire cooking rack on top of a cookie sheet to make sliding into the oven easier. Make sure to lower the oven backing rack so the top won’t brown too quickly.

  • SELF-RISING FLOUR, 2 cups sifted
  • LEMON ZEST, 1 lemon
  • SUGAR, 2/3 cup
  • EGGS, 2, slightly beaten
  • CRAN-FRUIT©, cranberry-orange, 1 container
  • (Substitution: DRIED CRANBERRIES, 2 small 1-counce boxes, soaked in sherry and roughly chopped)
  • BUTTER, ½ cup (1 stick), melted
  • MILK, ¼ cup

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lower the oven baking rack so the bread top won’t brown too quickly.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, zest and sugar).
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until blended.
  5. Spray the inside of a bread maker (or loaf pan) with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Pour the batter into the bread maker.
  7. Bake for 60 minutes.
  8. Remove from bread maker and cool on a wire cooking rack.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Char Siu Asparagus

Char siu, as you probably already know, is that red roast pork you find in dishes you order at a Chinese restaurant. It's sweet and juicy, and goes well with any dish. And asparagus? Everybody knows what that is.

I've combined the two and came up with a very, very easy and delicious entrèe.

If you can't find char siu already made at the supermarket or your local grocer, you can get some from a Chinese restaurant. Or get a package of char siu marinade at an Asian store and make it yourself. (Hint: Don't cut off the fat.)

  • CHAR SIU PORK, ¼ to ½ pound
  • ASPARAGUS, 20-24 spears, cut into 2-3-inch pieces
  • BUTTER, 2 tablespoons
  • GARLIC, 1 clove, minced
  • WATER, 3 tablespoons
  • SALT, to taste

  1. Slice the char siu into 1/8” pieces. It will be easier to slice if the cooked meat is cold.
  2. Microwave the pieces for about a minute to warm them.
  3. Melt the butter in a large non-stick pan and add the asparagus.
  4. Add the minced garlic and the water to facilitate steaming.
  5. Toss the asparagus, salting to taste, then cooking until tender.
  6. Add the char siu and toss again until mixed with the asparagus.
  7. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

This is easy to make. And it’s as delicious as can be. I ddn’t have chicken breasts, but I did have several three-packs of skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs in the freezer from a former sojourn to Costco. So I substituted them and they were perfect for this dish!

I didn’t change anything else, and the dish was a big hit with the family. I served it on linguine, which pairs very well with creamy sauce.

  • CHICKEN BREASTS, 1½ pounds, boneless, skinless, thinly sliced
  • OLIVE OIL, 2 Tablespoons
  • HEAVY CREAM, 1 cup
  • CHICKEN BROTH, ½ cup
  • GARLIC POWDER, 1 teaspoon
  • ITALIAN SEASONING, 1 teaspoon
  • FRESH SPINACH, 1 cup, chopped

  1. In a large skillet add olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until brown on each side and no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
  2. Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese to the pan.
  3. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken.
  4. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.
  5. Add the chicken back to the pan and stir.
  6. Serve over pasta if desired.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Japanese Vegetable Soup

This hearty soup is called “Kenchinjiru” by the Japanese. This is a subtly delicious, hearty soup for a chilly day. A bowlful will definitely satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. Excellent for vegans.

Ingredients: Dashi (Broth)
  • KONBU (DRIED KELP), 4" X 4" square
  • WATER, 5 cups for konbu, 1 cup for mushrooms

Ingredients: Soup
  • FIRM TOFU, 7 ounces
  • KONNYAKU, ½ package
  • DAIKON, 2" chunk
  • CARROT, 1 medium-large
  • SATOIMO (taro roots), 3 large
  • GOBO (burdock root), ½ root
  • TAKENOKO (bamboo shoot), 4 thin

Ingredients: Seasonings 
  • SESAME OIL, 1 tablespoon 
  • SAKE, 3 tablespoons 
  • SALT, ½ teaspoon
  • SOY SAUCE, 2 tablespoons

  1. Wipe the konbu clean with a damp cloth (don't remove the white powder) and soak overnight in five cups of water. When ready to make the soup, bring the konbu water to a boil, take the pot off the heat and discard the konbu (or make "matchsticks" to add to the soup).
  2. Soak the shiitakes in a cup of water until rehydrated and pliable. Cut off the stems and discard, then quarter the mushrooms. Set aside, saving the liquid and straining it through a fine sieve.
  3. Wrap the tofu in a paper towel and sandwich it between two plates to gently remove some of its moisture.
  4. Cut the konnyaku into bite-sized pieces, using a spoon to increase and roughen surface area for better flavor absorption. Boil in water for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
  5. Cut the daikon, carrots and bamboo shoots into thin slices. Peel and cut the satoimo into ¼” slices.
  6. Soak it in water for a couple of minutes to reduce sliminess, and drain.
  7. Peel and thinly slice the gobo on the diagonal. Soak for a couple of minutes and drain.
  8. Heat a large pot and add the sesame oil. Sauté the konnyaku, daikon, carrots, satoimo and optional konbu matchsticks until they are coated with the sesame oil.
  9. Add the shiitake mushrooms and the tofu, using your fingers to tear the tofu apart (for better flavor absorption. Sauté until all ingredients are coated.
  10. Add the konbu dashi and shiitake liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming off the surface foam solids.
  11. After 10 minutes, add the sake and salt. Cook until the vegetables are tender, then add the soy sauce.
  12. Stir and serve, adding the green onions on top as garnish.