kruizing with kikukat

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cranberry Sauce

I have been trying very hard to lay off D1, but I have been so frustrated with her.  I know she is stressed out about college applications, but sistah, you gotta get your act together!  As of last week, she applied to O-N-E college, and it's not even a college she totally wants to go to.  I think she applied because the application fee was cheap.  One would think that for $60k/year, they could at least waive the fee!  While I hope she gets accepted (to boost her confidence), I fucking hope she won't go there.  It's in the middle of the boonies, and they don't even field a football team which plays on TV!  She spent days on her application.  I wish she would've spent the time on applying to schools she WANTS to attend (the ones I'm okay with also).  I just don't get her screwed up thinking.  A sane person would apply to the college they really want to attend FIRST, and then apply to the "safety" colleges.

When I was applying to colleges, I just applied to a bunch too, so I really can't get upset at her for that.  But I knew that I would've gone to all the colleges I applied to and I also knew my parents were willing to pay the $ for me to get outta their house (at least for four years).  I haven't even told Mr. Dependable where she applied to because I KNOW he would see dollar signs and hit the ceiling.  The Help has nothing to say.  He applied to one college, got accepted, went there, and got his degree.  End of story. 

So to keep from bitching at her constantly, I'm reminding myself that this will likely be the last Thanksgiving D1 spends with us for a while.  I need to make the most of it, put on a happy face, and give her a day of peace (grumbling resumes on Black Friday).

This year for Thanksgiving, I'm planning to roast a whole turkey breast.  After the easy clean up last year, I'd be a fool to go back to a whole turkey if it's just my family.  I'll make the dressing (yes, Mike, I'm baking it in a separate dish), gravy, and mashed potatoes too.  I'm ono for pumpkin crunch, so I'll make that instead of pumpkin pie.  But the first thing I'm making is the cranberry sauce.  Homemade cranberry sauce is so much better than what the stores sell (Williams-Sonoma comes pretty close to homemade).  It doesn't take very long to make so the effort is well worth it.

I hope by the next post I will be able to say D1 applied to a few more colleges.  ARGGGHHH!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries
     1 1/2 c sugar
     4 1/2 oz water
     1/2 tsp grated ginger
     1 1/2 c (12 oz jar) orange marmalade

Heat cranberries, sugar, water, and ginger in a saucepan, stirring until sugar melts.  Cook until fruit is tender, 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes.  Stir in marmalade.  Chill until 2 hours before serving. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fried Garlic Chicken

Years ago, I would try and get a reservation at Ninniku-ya whenever I was in Honolulu.  "Ninniku" is the Japanese word for garlic'; "ya" is the Japanese suffix for "business".  The garlic steak was out of this world.  I'm not sure when it happened, but Ninniku-ya in Honolulu closed.  But every now and then, I find myself jonesing for the garlic steak.

The garlic steak (a fat, bone-in ribeye) came on a large sizzling platter, along with a handful of well-browned garlic cloves and a thick pat of melting garlic-herb butter.  Some bearded Asian dude wearing chunky rings, would bring it to the table and cut the steak into large chunks.  He never cut the steak into truly bite-size pieces, and he didn't have much of a personality, but I loved the way he said "garlic steak".  His accent made "garlic" sound like "gaah-lick".

Because of the garlic steak, I never had opportunity to order too many other dishes.  Other than caprese salad, some kind of garlic pasta, and garlic fried chicken, I don't remember much else on the menu.  And unless I fly to Japan, it's unlikely that I'll ever have food at Ninniku-ya again.

When we have steak at home, I usually leave it up to the cook to decide on the preparation.  Mr. Dependable was a hibachi steak person...steaks, cooked on the grill only.  The Help usually does a 2-step preparation...sear on the range in a cast iron pan with grates, then finish in the oven.  I think he learned that method from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook.  The Help will sometimes make a red wine pan sauce to go with the steaks.  Neither Mr. Dependable nor The Help has ever done a garlic steak like Ninniku-ya.  Disclaimer:  The Help makes an excellent steak, but I'm certain he would readily admit that he does not make a steak like Ninniku-ya either, nor does he hack up the steak while wearing chunky rings.

I need to come clean on something.  I have never cooked a steak.  Honest!  With all the cooking I've done, I have never cooked a steak (other than a sliced up flank steak or a chuck steak cut into cubes for beef barley soup).  I am not kidding.  I find the hibachi daunting, whether it's a gas grill or a charcoal grill.  I might try the range/oven method, but I would not know where to begin. 

Now that I have convinced myself I want to eat a Ninniku-ya garlic steak, I will need to accept disappointment.  You will need to accept disappointment too.  For the past five paragraphs, I have extolled the goodness of the Ninniku-ya garlic steak, however I am unable to make a copycat of the steak.  I apologize if I misled you into thinking there would be a garlic steak recipe waiting at the end of the rainbow.  There is no such recipe in my arsenal at the moment.

The only "garlic" dish I can make is garlic fried chicken.  Thanks to a recipe shared by a former coworker when I worked in Honolulu, I make a mean ass garlic fried chicken. The awesome garlic flavor comes from garlic powder in the coating as well as sliced garlic cloves infusing the frying oil. The out of this world garlic flavor is smooth (unlike the jarring garlic calamari I had at some restaurant on Queen Anne Hill (I cannot remember the name of the restaurant, but it was in a cluster with several restaurants, including Jake O'Shaughnessy's in the old Hansen Baking Company) in Seattle.  If you have an affinity for garlic, this recipe will surely please your taste buds.  And if you are an attention seeker, try bringing this to a party.  You will be hounded for the recipe all night long.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Fried Garlic Chicken

     2-2 1/2 lbs chicken wings, disjointed, tips discarded
     2 eggs, beaten
     1 c milk
     1 c flour
     1 tbsp garlic powder
     1 tbsp garlic salt
     3/4 tsp black pepper, divided
     2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
     vegetable oil
     8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
     1/4 c butter, melted
     1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
     1/4 tsp salt

Combine eggs and milk.  Pour into a square pan.  Add chicken pieces, turning to coat.  Set aside.  In a gallon-size ziploc bag, combine flour, garlic powder, garlic salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and thyme.  Drain chicken and coat with flour mixture.  Heat 1" of oil in a skillet (360 degrees).  Fry garlic until golden brown and crisp.  Remove and drain.  Fry chicken pieces until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Place chicken pieces in an oven-proof dish in a single layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  While chicken is baking, prepare sauce by combining butter, parsley, salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and fried garlic slices.  Pour over chicken and serve.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Namul: Korean Bean Sprout Salad

This is probably not a good time to be posting a cold vegetable picture and recipe.  But I MUST.  After all the feasting over the weekend (feasting actually began on Friday), I realize I need to scale back a bit.

But I HAD to celebrate on Friday.  No, not because it was my birthday, but something else happened...something I've been waiting a whole year to happen.  I hadn't expected it to turn out so deliciously well, but it did.  Thank you, 3M for making IT happen and for allowing me to be there to witness it all.

Sometimes assholes really DO get what they deserve!

I had a great lunch on Friday, and it was followed by an onolicious dinner at Miyo's.  I got to eat fried oysters.  Even better, the Ds were with me.  I didn't hafta share them this year.

On Saturday, The Help suggested we make it a double buffet day.  On one of his 10k-step walks, he noticed a breakfast buffet being served at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  It wasn't crowded, and the bacon was crispy.  It was definitely NOT the Hawaii Prince breakfast buffet, but for Hilo, it was pretty good.  The bread pudding was delicious, and there weren't too many raisins to pick out.  Have I ever made it clear how much I hate raisins?  It is right up there on the list, a few notches away from the devil's condiment.

The second buffet was something I've been wanting to try but always found the near-$100/person pricetag daunting.  Leave it to The Help to surprise me with a drive out to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for the Clambake.  Wow!  Among other things, I consumed a dozen oysters and 2 lobster tails and a set of lobster claws.  I love lobster!  The Help likely ate only a fraction of what I did, eating mostly shrimp cocktail and sashimi, and he even managed to sneak in some salad selections. There was a guy on the next table who definitely beat me.  He ate 3 whole lobsters.  I know because I watched him (couldn't help it...he was in my line of sight).  He also had a slab of prime rib in between all that.  I don't expect to get back to the Clambake any time soon, after all, I can't be going there with D1!  But now, I'm excited to try the Let's Go Crabbing buffet at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel.  Its a fraction of the price (under $70 for adults) and features all kinds of crab.  Maybe when D1 goes on her spring break trip. . .

So after all that feasting and pigging out, it's time to lay low on the food, especially the cholesterol.  I soaked some chicken in a kal bi-type marinade, and I made some namul.   There is nothing better to eat with hibachi food than namul.  "Namul" is what I call Korean bean sprout salad, but I know namul actually refers to various vegetable dishes served as banchan, those small dishes with tasty morsels served at Korean restaurants before the meal comes.  All I know is they never give enough namul, and the bean sprouts is what I always hope to hoard!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 - 1 lb mung bean sprouts
     1 1/2 tbsp green onion, chopped
     1/2 tsp sugar
     1 tbsp sesame oil
     1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
     3 tbsp shoyu

Clean bean sprouts and wash in cold water.  Boil water in a medium saucepan.  Add bean sprouts to boiling water and leave in for 1 minute (Can also steam over water for 5 minutes in the microwave...high power).  Drain, rinse well in cold water, and drain well.  Add remaining ingredients and chill thoroughly before serving.

While all this was going on, it was a rather disappointing sports weekend.  All the teams/individuals I was cheering for did not prevail:  high school football, college football, professional football, Formula One.  On the other hand, I did manage to attempt knitting again. . .I had lots of time to sit and give it another go.
And after spending the better part of an hour taking stuff apart, I'm asking myself why I choose to take part in such torture.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Baked Crab Artichoke Dip

I had a good weekend!

I spent Friday night at a football game.  It was a big game...winner gets to go to the state playoffs, travel to Oahu to play an Oahu team.  A lot was at stake.  At first I thought our boys were too pumped up.  They seemed awfully loud and hyper, but they managed to hold it together on the field.  Now onto the next challenge.

On a whim, The Help and I decided to go to Kona on Saturday.  I wanted to get a large poster printed at Costco and pick up some chips and edamame.  A few minutes out of the driveway, The Help suggested calling the Rents to see if they wanted to tag along.  Gunfunnit!!!  They both agreed!!!  We had to turn around to get them (and wait for Kikukat Mom to get ready).

I was surprised to hear that the Rents hadn't eaten lunch.  Instead of going directly to Kona, we stopped at Tommy Bahama for lunch.  I think they make the best crab bisque.  If I had a copycat recipe, I'd make it at home.  After the cup of crab bisque, I was too full to try a dessert, but there were some neat looking items on the dessert tray.  One of the desserts was made in a pineapple, and there was a gorgeous coconut cake too.  I have a major coconut weakness.  I love anything coconut, including coconut water.

The Rents were well-behaved so we took them to Sansei for dinner.  Kikukat Dad was thrilled that he could consume alcohol without the worry of having to drive home.  After Tommy Bahama, he said he wished he ordered a martini there so he went about fulfilling that wish at Sansei.  Unfortunately, when the food came, he said he wished he ordered a beer instead.  I was shocked when he told the server to bring him a beer.  I tried to drink his martini, but I guess I'm not a fan of Tanqueray.  It smells too much like soap.

The food at Sansei, as always, was delicious.  Kikukat Dad said it was "a hundred times better than Nobu".  I like Sansei, but I don't think it's better than Nobu.  It's different, but it's definitely not a hundred times's not even ten times better!  Kikukat Dad loved the calamari salad, Maui kal bi steak, and rainbow roll.  The only thing he didn't care much for was the mango crab salad hand roll.  He said there was too much grass.  Whatevers.

After eating all that good food on Saturday, I decided to kick off my slippers and stay home on Sunday for a day of tv watching.  I saw Lewis Hamilton get the checkered flag at the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX (one of my favorite places).  I'm glad that Lewis won.  It makes five-straight wins.  I also watched D2's Bronco's get their horsey asses kicked by the Patriots.  The Help keeps raving about how Football Baby can sure pick the winners.

So with all my tv watching yesterday, I made sure I had something good to nosh on.  Yes, yes, I know this is mean...posting a crab recipe when someone in my house is allergic.  But I can't help it, and anyway, she wasn't around for most of the day.  The pictures show the dip being served with buttery crackers, but I enjoy this with potato chips too.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 cans (@6 oz) crabmeat, drained well
     1 can (12-13 oz) artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
     1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine
     4 oz shredded parmesan cheese
     1 1/2 c mayonnaise
     1/4 tsp white pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Spread in a shallow baking dish (1-2 qt).  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until top is brown.

Monday, October 27, 2014


This past week was an eating out week.  3M and I enjoyed a tasty lunch at Hilo Rice Noodle and the very next day, we had a nice breakfast at Coqui's Hideaway.  When we were hiding away, I saw LAMN's aunt having lunch with her lady friend.  Seeing LAMN's aunt, coupled with the ongoing conversation with 3M about our days in the Pacific Northwest, took me on a journey back to college days with LAMN.

LAMN's mom, unlike Kikukat Mom, would write to her nearly daily.  She would also send care packages with HOMEMADE goodies in them.  In case my mom is reading this, let me say that my mom sent me care packages too, but they were usually filled with purchased snacks...won ton chips, crack seed, colored popcorn, etc.

Okay, now where was I?  Oh yeah...LAMN's mom would send  care packages with HOMEMADE goodies in them.  One goodie stands out above everything else...her lavosh.  Mmmmmmmm. . .it was like a sweet cracker, which was ono enough to eat plain, without any cheese spread, potted meat, or fruit butter.

LAMN's mom's lavosh was very different from my first introduction to lavosh, the one at the now-gone Gourmet Hut Hawaii in the old Kaiko`o Mall.  They sold lavosh in waxed-paper wrapped parcels.  If you went in and requested a sample of a spread, it was likely given to you on a small piece of lavosh (or Carr's crackers).  The lavosh there was not something you'd eat plain. . .it had to be topped with a spread.

Now, several local companies make lavosh.  If you go to the local snack aisle (by the bakery) at KTA, you can find many different varieties/flavors of lavosh.  All pieces are nearly identical in size.  It's lavosh like the kine LAMN's mom made...local kine lavosh...somewhere between a cookie and a cracker.

A few years ago, I tried to make lavosh (local kine).  I remember seeing a girl doing a 4-H demonstration on lavosh.  She couldn't have been older than 13, so I didn't think it would be difficult.  My attempt turned out to be an epic fail.  The dough was sticky, and no matter how I tried, I couldn't get it thin enough to be crisp.  And to make matters worse, even with sticky dough, the poppy seeds went all over then dang place.  I had poppy seeds all over the floor!

Being older and wiser now, armed with a Dyson and having discovered the magic of parchment paper, I thought it was good time to give it another try.  This time, I added the poppy seeds in the dough (no more having to sprinkle it on each piece).  While I was able to roll the dough thinner and not worry about how I was going to get it on the cookie sheet, the baking time was still something I needed to work on.  The 8 minutes called for in the original recipe was not anywhere long enough to yield a crispy product, and soft lavosh is not acceptable in my book.  I fiddled with the baking time in order to get snapping-crisp lavosh. 

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 3/4 c flour
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 c butter
     1 c buttermilk
     3 tbsp poppy seeds (or sesame seeds, or combination)

Sift flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar together.  Cut in butter until crumbs form.  Stir in buttermilk and poppy seeds.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Using a #40 disher (a generous tablespoon), scoop dough into balls onto floured surface.  Flour hands well and smooth balls.  Flour dough balls well.  On a piece of parchment paper, roll ball of dough out as thinly as possible.  Repeat with remaining balls of dough.  Place lavosh, parchment paper and all, on cookie sheet.  Bake for 23 minutes.  Remove lavosh to cooling rack and cool completely before storing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

Just before I went to Texas a few years ago, I purchased one of the Pastry Queen cookbooks.  Prior to purchasing the book, I knew nothing about the author.  The impulse purchase was made solely because I was utterly intrigued by the meringue picture on the cover.  Ever since I can remember, I have loved lemon meringue pie.  Perhaps it was because I grew up in a household which did not make regular trips to the bakery. . .perhaps because Kikukat mom was not into pie baking. . .perhaps I had been a naughty girl. . .for whatever reason, we NEVER bought lemon meringue pie.  On  occasion, my uncle, who was a frequent bakery patron, would bring over a lemon meringue pie (probably when the bakery was out of prune cake, his favorite).  I remember exercising restraint when all wanted to do was to stick a fork into the meringue and eat a big glob of it.

When I moved into my home, Kikukat mom bought me a Meyer lemon tree.  It was the first tree we planted.  When the men came over to dig the swimming pool, I made sure they did not touch the lemon tree with the heavy equipment.  Thankfully the lemon tree flourished and over the years, it has given me a nearly constant supply of big, juicy lemons.

Being a lemon meringue pie fanatic, you can bet it was close to the top of my list of recipes to make with my lemons.  I've tried several recipes, and I've discovered I prefer a slightly sweet filling (as opposed to tangy).  Another ingredient amount which varied among the recipes I tried was the cornstarch.  I don't like a soft runny filling; I like the filling to be able to stand when cut.

Of course, the most important part of a lemon meringue pie is the meringue.  I like a generous ratio of meringue to filling.  In my experimentation, a 4-white meringue makes a nice topping.  The 3-white versions, while covering the filling, didn't seem high enough for me.  Some recipes called for more whites than yolks, but if you know me, you know the extra yolks sitting in my fridge would likely get thrown away before they get used.  When I first started making this pie, I would use a spatula and spoon to spread and smooth the meringue over the hot filling (the left side of the above photo).  After the Pastry Queen cookbook purchase, I began piping the meringue from an icing bag fitted with a large star tip.  I love the way the meringue looks (the right side of the above photo).  I guess it depends on the effect you are after.  If you are like me and love the slightly burnt tips, then use a piping bag.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a solution to keep the meringue from weeping (caramel colored drops on the surface of the meringue).

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     9" baked pie crust

Filling:  7 tbsp cornstarch
              1 3/4 c sugar
              1/4 tsp salt
              1/2 c lemon juice
              2 1/2 c water
              4 egg yolks. beaten
              3 tbsp butter
              grated rind of 1 lemon

Meringue:  4 egg whites
                   1/4 tsp cream of tartar
                   1/2 c sugar
                   1 tsp vanilla    

Combine all filling ingredients, except lemon rind, in the top of a double boiler.  Heat over high, stirring constantly.  When mixture thickens (about 10 minutes), continue cooking 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add lemon rind.  Keep warm.  Using a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy.  Add cream of tartar.  Gradually add sugar.  Add vanilla.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Place filling back on heat source and heat briefly, stirring a few times.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place meringue in icing bag.  Pour hot filling into pie crust.  Immediately cover surface of hot filling with meringue, being careful to pull meringue to edges.  Either mound or decoratively pipe remaining meringue onto pie.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Meringue should be golden brown.  Let cool before serving.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Easy Minestrone

This was certainly an adventure-filled fall break.  I'm almost looking forward to this week back at least I know the bleeding ends at 3:00 pm.

On Wednesday, the Ds and I headed to Honolulu.  We were conveniently able to schedule a follow-up appointment with the allergist on Thursday.  We spent the rest of the time shopping, eating, and rubbing elbows with family at a wedding.

My "little" cousin LA and her fiancee SN tied the knot at the beautiful and classy Halekulani Hotel.  Talk about the wedding of weddings!  Every girl should want a wedding like that.  While the venue was impeccably set up, the food was absolutely delicious.  Glad the happy couple was so concerned about the guests eating well!

After all the indulgences last week, I think it's best to scale back and eat light this week.  I noticed the weather here seems cooler than it was a few weeks ago, making it good soup weather.  This recipe cheats a little and uses 2 cans of Campbell's condensed soup for the base.  But when you're pressed for time on a weeknight, the canned soup ensures everything will come together quickly.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe
Easy Minestrone

     3 slices bacon, chopped (or use 3 tbsp bacon bits + 2 tsp olive oil)
     1 c chopped onion
     1/2 c chopped celery
     1 can Campbell's bean & bacon soup
     1 can Campbell's beef broth
     18 oz water
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 can (14.5 oz) whole tomatoes or stewed tomatoes, broken up
     1/2 c pasta
     1-2 c diced zucchini
     1-2 c shredded cabbage
     1 clove garlic, minced
     1 tsp shredded basil leaves, optional

Brown bacon (or bacon bits and olive oil), onion, celery, garlic & basil.  Add soup, broth, water, tomatoes, salt, macaroni, zucchini & cabbage.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until zucchini is cooked.