kruizing with kikukat

Monday, April 3, 2017


April is generally not a month I enjoy.  When I was younger, I looked forward to Easter and all the candy that came along with the holiday.  Coloring eggs was also a much-anticipated activity.  But April always seemed like a month of endless rain.  And I don't like rain.  Everything starts to take on the damp feeling, and it makes me feel a bit foolish to be making a fire in the fireplace.  The window for that (in my mind) closes at the end of February.

Another reason for April receiving a bad mark in my book has been my inability to get going after spring break.  Getting back in the work groove after a break is hard, but it seems even more difficult transitioning from the 3rd to the 4th quarter.  Ugh.

Now that I'm older and have a child attending a college 3,000 miles away, April isn't so bad.  It means that I get to see my hiapo (firstborn in Hawaiian) in a few weeks.  I haven't seen her since early January when I dropped her off at the airport in Kona.  I miss her a lot.

With her imminent homecoming, I figured it would be a good time to get off my butt and start exercising a bit more diligently.  I bought myself a new fitbit and have been hitting the elliptical every weekday morning.  To amuse myself on the elliptical, I've been watching Craftsy videos.  It's amazing the kinds of classes they have for sale.  I've purchased both knitting and cooking classes.  The most recent class I watched was a class on making macarons, madeleines, and other miniature desserts.

Am I the only one who noticed how the previous paragraph covered BOTH exercising AND desserts?

I haven't tried making macarons, but I've been making madeleines for years.  I've tried multiple recipes, but I adapted a recipe I found on the internet.  The original recipe is delicious and was the only recipe I tried which I could replicate successfully time after time.  However, the drawback for me was the lemon zest.  I am not a big fan of using lemon zest in my desserts because I seldom buy lemons.  I have a lemon tree in my backyard, but the lemons do not usually boast beautiful, smooth, golden skin.  The skins are often sunburnt with a green-brown tinge, and the zest they yield does not look appealing in desserts.  This is unfortunate because the flavor of lemon zest is sublime.

So I took that recipe and adapted it for use without lemon zest.  However, I realized that I occasionally missed the lemon flavor.  Using lemon extract will not yield a product exactly like the original recipe, but lemon extract is easy to get.  Using the vanilla extract with a drop or two of lemon oil is another option, however lemon oil is more difficult to obtain.  Of course, the generous dusting of powdered sugar will hide unsightly zest pieces on the surface, but some people might be put off when they encounter off-color zest when they take a bite.

Collette Christian's Craftsy class offers yet another take on getting that citrus flavor.  She opts for dipping the madeleines in a glaze.  Interesting.  I have not yet tried the madeleines from the class, and I'm not sure if I actually will.  I purchased the class for the step-by-step macaron instructions.  I hope to try that out this summer when D1 is home. . . someone to wash my dishes.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/4 c butter, melted and cooled
     2 eggs
     1/2 tsp vanilla extract (may replace half with 1/4 tsp lemon extract)
     pinch of salt
     1/3 c  sugar
     1/2 c flour
     powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease and flour the wells for 15 3" madeleines.  Combine eggs, vanilla, and salt, in a large (1 quart) glass measuring cup.  Gradually add sugar while beating at high speed.  Continue beating until mixture is light yellow and has increased in volume.  This will take about 10 minutes with a hand-held mixer.  Sift flour over egg mixture and fold in gently.  Add melted butter and fold in gently.  Using a #40 disher, divide batter among prepared wells.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Tap pan sharply to dislodge madeleines and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over madeleines when completely cool.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Whole Wheat Milk Bread or Rolls

The foundation for these rolls comes from Mika's blog, The 350 Degree Oven.  Like Mika, I admired "Japanese milk bread".  There was/is nowhere in Hilo which makes Japanese milk bread.  I first had this kind of bread from Panya in Honolulu.  The pillowy softness is what separates it from other local breads (Portuguese sweet bread, shokupan, etc.).  The key to the softness is using a cooked starter called "tangzhong".  Please read Mika's blog for a detailed explanation of what it does.

I must've inadvertently copied Mika's recipe incorrectly.  Only when I went back to her blog to check on something did I realize what I had done differently.  This was AFTER I had made both a loaf of hybrid whole wheat milk bread and a batch of hot cross buns (I will post this recipe another time)!  In spite of my oversight, both turned out great, and I'm posting the full recipe (the ingredients differ slightly from Mika's version).

Please don't be put off by the long recipe.  I've been wanting to do this post for a while, so all the baking times and temperatures for the variations are in the same place.  This is a recipe I use frequently, but I make shaping changes according to how we plan to eat this.  The standard shape for us is the sandwich roll.  These round rolls are perfect for stacking slices of salami or some of the round, paper-thin cold cuts.

I purchased an 11x11" square pan from just so I had a good pan to make these rolls.  When made in the square pan, the rolls touch each other and are great for having with soup, pasta, or stew.

I have even given loaves away as thank you gifts (seriously).  If you can spare a few minutes to learn a braiding technique, an oblong loaf or a round loaf can look unbelievably impressive.  One recipient told me she and her daughter finished the entire loaf in half-a-day (I gave it to her at work and the next morning, she told me it was gone).

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 recipe of tangzhong (see below)
     1/2 c milk
     1 egg
     3 tbsp butter
     2 c bread flour
     1/2 c whole wheat flour
     4 tbsp sugar
     1/2 tsp salt
     2 tsp yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan, following the manufacturer's ingredient order.  Start dough cycle.  Grease a large loaf pan (9 x 5"), a square pan (11 x 11"), an oblong pan (9 x 13"), a round pan (9"), or a flat, sheet pan.  When dough is done, divide dough and shape as desired.  
large loaf pan (grease and flour pan):  Shape dough into a traditional loaf shape or make a short, 6-strand braid).  Let rise for 40 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
square pan:  Divide dough into 16 pieces.  Shape into balls and place in 4 x 4 arrangement.  Let rise for 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13 minutes.
oblong pan:  Divide dough into 15 pieces.  Shape into balls and place in 3 x 5 arrangement.  Let rise for 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
round pan:  Shape dough into round ball or make a fancy braided round.  Let rise for 40 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
flat, sheet pan:
  • sandwich rolls:  Divide dough into 12 pieces.  Shape into balls and flatten.  Place in 3 x 4 arrangement.  Let rise 30-40 minutes  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • hotdog buns:  Divide dough into 10 pieces.  Shape into ropes.  Place in 2 x 5 arrangement.  Let rise 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • hoagie rolls:  Divide dough into 8 pieces.  Shape into long ovals and flatten slightly.  Place in 2 x 4 arrangement.  Let rise 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Loaves/Rolls may be finished with a "wash".
  • melted butter:  brush on for a soft finish
  • milk:  brush on for a soft finish
  • egg yolk + 1 tbsp water:  brush on for a shiny glaze
  • egg white + 1 tbsp water:  brush on for a binder to adhere sesame seeds, poppy seeds, rock salt, etc.
Tangzhong (cooked starter)

     1/3 c flour (original recipe called for bread flour)
     7/8 c water (original recipe called for 1 cup)

Heat flour and water in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste.  Set aside to cool or refrigerate if not using immediately.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Twice Baked Potatoes (Pan Style)

A little over a month ago, my family got together to celebrate the holidays.  One night which has always been a quandary for us is new years eve.  Traditionally, the family celebration has always been new years day.  The night was a time spent preparing for the next days party, as many dishes need to be started the day before serving.  This year, even without my mother, things were no different.  The family party, which was generously catered by my cousin, was on January 1.  This left me with time to have a few family members (those who did not have another party to attend) over for dinner.

My dad happened to be in Safeway on a day when New York roasts were $5/pound.  He left Safeway with 3 roasts and could not believe his good fortune.  I could not believe my MISfortune, as the New York cut is not a cut I enjoy eating.  My dad has been through a lot of shit this year, so instead of arguing, I agreed to cook, not one, but TWO New York roasts.

In an attempt to placate myself by serving something I would enjoy, I attempted to make twice baked potatoes in the shells.  It was the first time I even considered making it in the shell, and I thought it would look fancy next to the slab of roast beast.  I guess it wasn't my time to make it happen because I ended up making it in a casserole dish.  It turned out to be a huge hit (in addition to the salad).  My cousins loved it.  I made 1 1/2 recipes, and most of it was gone by the end of the evening.  That's a lot of potato pulp for less than 10 people!

Since my cousin Otee is a devoted Kikukat follower, I thought I'd post the recipe for the potatoes (and a link to the dressing is above) for him.  Although he doesn't cook much, he is known to hibachi a steak.  He can print out the recipe for the potatoes and have his brother make it for him!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     4 russet potatoes
     2 tbsp butter
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/4 tsp pepper
     1 c sour cream
     1 c shredded cheese, divided
     1/2 c bacon bits

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake potatoes for 1 hour, directly on rack.  Let cook 15 minutes.  Scrape pulp into a bowl.  Combine pulp with all other ingredients, reserving 1/2 c shredded cheese for topping.  Place in an au gratin dish and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Monday, December 5, 2016

NMMR*: Cream Cheese Fruitcake

Happy Birthday D1!  I am eagerly anticipating your homecoming.  It's been months since I've seen you, and while some might think separation gets easier as time passes, I don't think that's really true.  Not a day goes by without me thinking about you. . .what you are doing, how your classes are going, how much $ you are spending, etc.

Same with my mom.  Not a day goes by when I don't think about her and how much I miss her.  Sure, the rest of us are plodding along; I would even go as far as to say we've actually got some routine going.  But it isn't much easier now.  The pain has not gone away.  A co-worker told me it won't ever go away, but it just becomes more bearable as time passes.  We'll see.

One thing that my mom during the holidays every year, as far back as I can remember, is bake fruitcake.  Her fruitcake was called "light" or "white" fruitcake; it is not the kind of fruitcake which comes in the metal can.  That type is laden with fruits and is more fruit than cake.  My mom's fruitcake was definitely more cake than fruit.  The cake was dense, similar (but not identical) to a poundcake in texture.  It was more dense, actually.

And I never liked it (sorry, Mom).

My mom's fruitcake was too intense for me.  Her siblings in town actually loved her fruitcake.  In fact, I would always hear UJohn ask her when she was going to make it.  I much preferred it when, on rare occasion, she strayed and made a more poundcake-like version.  In hindsight, I think she made it so she could say how much she preferred her version.

There will be none of my mom's fruitcake this year.  At least no rendition of it will come from my kitchen.  Instead, I will be making the fruitcake I like.  My fruitcake is like the "other" version which my mom would make, the one with the poundcake texture and flavor, studded here and there with bits of candied fruit (I fondly recall Pennant brand in the tubs) and pecans (Mom used walnuts).  There will also be no raisins.  One thing I remember was my mom adding whiskey to the batter.  My recipe has no whiskey, but I highly recommend generously brushing the finished loaves with rum.  The rum will add a nice flavor and help keep the cake moist.  My friend Sid's mom would actually soak cheesecloth in whiskey or rum and wrap each loaf in the alcohol-soaked cheesecake prior to wrapping in plastic.

Oh, I'm certain my mom's family will ask if I plan to carry the fruitcake-making torch.  I will politely shake my head.  No point in leading them on only to end up with unfulfilled expectations.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 c butter
     8 oz cream cheese
     1 1/2 c sugar
     1 tbsp vanilla extract
     1 tsp almond extract
     4 eggs
     2 1/4 c flour, divided
     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     2 c assorted dried/candied fruit
     1/2 c chopped nuts
     1/4 c rum

Grease and flour 5 mini loaf pans (cut parchment to fit bottom) or 1 tube pan.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add 2 c flour and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, toss 1/4 c flour, fruit, and nuts until all coated.  Fold into batter.  Pour batter into prepared pan(s).  If using mini loaf pans, a little more than 3 #10 dishers will go into each pan.  Bake for 45 minutes (mini loaves) or 1 hour and 20 minutes (tube pan).  Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from pan and set on wire rack.  Brush top and sides of cake with rum.  Cool completely then wrap with plastic wrap.

*NMMR=Not My Mother's Recipe

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sour Cream Banana Muffins

Fall break came and went.  I'm not sure how I got so little accomplished.  I'm glad tomorrow is a holiday, election results notwithstanding.  I did my civic duty and voted (absentee).  And I will be expecting a day of leisure tomorrow.  Perhaps that's exactly how I got so little done over Fall break.  Oh well. . .

This weekend was far from leisurely.  I watched from the sidelines as our team lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals of the state football tournament.  They lost by 1 point.  One point.  Sure, there were tons of terrible calls made and an equal amount of infractions overlooked. . .all benefitting the other team.  But the boys held their heads high and hung in there until the end.  I guess yanking the facemask is allowed in the other league.  It's too bad stupid, integrity-lacking adults ruin it for kids.

On Saturday, OllieMama and I trekked over to the sunny side for some much-needed retail therapy.  We braved the food at Genki Sushi (my first choice Japanese restaurant was not open for lunch).  It was disappointing.  They had no avocado, so they made sushi without avocado.  How can a California roll NOT have avocado?  OllieMama actually wanted to eat the scallop mayo sushi, but it was no longer on the menu.  We also braved the Saturday crowds in Costco.  It was crazy.  At one aisle intersection, there was a massive cart jam.  The ladies "talking story" in the middle of the cart tangle seemed oblivious to the mess they caused.  Once again, I was reminded that Friday evening is the best time to go to Costco.

When I got home, which wasn't late at all, I was greeted by the smell of bananas.  The aroma was a not-so-subtle hint that it was time to do something (other than eat raw) with the bananas.  Luckily, I had sour cream on hand and could whip up a batch of these without a trip to the store.

And Sunday?  Oh, don't even get me started!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 c butter
     1 c sugar
     2 eggs
     1 c mashed ripe banana
     1/4 tsp vanilla
     1/4 c sour cream
     1 1/2 c flour
     dash salt
     1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 18 muffin cups with liners.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add banana, vanilla, and sour cream.  Stir together  flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add to banana mixture.  Divide batter among liners.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Under Pressure: Almost Cafe 100 Beef Stew

Last Friday, I got a frantic call from D1.  She wanted my salsa recipe.  I chuckled silently to myself.  She goes to college in the land of salsa, good, real salsa, and she wants to make the salsa I make.  But being the good mommy that I am, I pointed her in the direction where she could get the recipe any time.

I know I haven't been too good about blogging recently.  I just haven't been able to do it weekly like I used to (a few years ago, I had the gumption to do it twice per week).  Blame other hobbies and having a shitload of other things to do, as well as poor time management on my part.  But D1's call reminded me that being able to provide her with recipes of "home food" (or at least a place where she can go to get them without relying on her own organizational skills) is a good reason to try to post regularly.

Back in 2013, I posted a recipe for beef stew made in a crock pot.  I went on at length about my history with beef stew.  It's been about three years since that post, and a lot has changed.  I will never get to have my mother's "natural" stew again.  I'm not saying that I would want to eat it, but I would love to have her offer some to me.  That won't happen, and I have very little confidence that my father would actually know how to make it.  And if he offered me some, I'd refuse it anyway.

I still don't like beef stew very much, but I cook it more now than I used to.  But after D1's call, I thought I'd be remiss in not posting a beef stew recipe she could easily make.  According to The Help and UJames, this version tastes very much like the one served at Cafe 100, an iconic Hilo drive-in.  Many Hilo ex-pats make it a point to stop there when they come home for a visit.  And if, like D1, you don't own a pressure cooker, you can make this the traditional way. The pressure cooker advantage is being able to cook and serve a pot of beef stew for dinner in the short time between the end of the standard work day and dinner.

So after D1 had a chance to go to the website and check out the salsa recipe, I received another call from her.  This time, she asked, "Mom, do you really put in onions, bell peppers and olives, in the salsa?  Did you really put stewed tomatoes in the salsa I ate at home?  I don't think I eat any of those things."  I told her she did indeed eat all of those things.  Now I'm hoping she won't call and ask about the stewed tomatoes in this recipe!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 lbs boneless beef stew meat
     1 c water
     1 onion, cut in chunks
     1 stalk celery, sliced
     3 carrots, cut in chunks
     2 russet potatoes, cut in chunks
     1 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes (broken up with hand blender or kitchen shears)
     1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
     1 tsp salt
     1/4 tsp pepper
     1 tsp sugar

Pressure Cooker instructions:  Dust meat in flour and brown in heated oil.  Drain excess fat.  Add water, bring to a boil and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes (may go up to 30 minutes if meat chunks are large).  Use natural release method to lower pressure.  Add vegetables and other ingredients and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.  Use cold water release method to lower pressure.  Thicken gravy by mixing 1 tbsp flour with some water and add to stew.  Return to a boil, then simmer until ready to serve.

Traditional instructions:  Dust meat in flour and brown in heated oil.  Drain excess fat.  Add water, bring to a boil and simmer about 1 hour.  Add vegetables and other ingredients and continue cooking until vegetables are cooked.  Thicken gravy by mixing 1 tbsp flour with some water and add to stew.  Return to a boil, then simmer until ready to serve.