kruizing with kikukat

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ginger Biscotti

Today marks the official first day back to work for public school teachers in the state of Hawaii.  I swear time just raced by.  It seemed like just the other week I was packing up my room for the summer.

Actually, it's like I went back to work last week.  I spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, at work.  I managed to raise my blood pressure to stroke levels on Monday, reminding me that there are some people who really are stupid.  I spent Thursday and Friday at a different school.  Thursday and Friday made me thankful to work where I do.  I saw a shining example of exponential stupidity and was reminded of just how far a surname will get you (related directly to the exponential stupidity).

Circling back to the part about being thankful, I had a parent tell me how grateful and happy she is that I work with her child.  In spite of all the crap happening around me, this was definitely a bright spot.  This is why I do what I do.  This validated my decision to sign up for another tour of duty.  Screw all you haters and doubters. 

There was so much I wanted to accomplish this summer.  I wanted to try out all those recipes I pinned on Pinterest.  I don't think I tried even 3 things.  When I got busy, I always went back to my old stand-bys.  I also wanted to clean my room, but I never got around to that either.  I still have stacks and stacks of magazines along the wall.  I guess I will need to move the cleaning to next summer's to-do list.

A year ago, I made a list of all the things we ate during the summer.  I returned to work (officially) today, so it's only fitting that I make another list. 
Per D2, noticeably absent from the list above is lavosh.  She has been bugging me all summer to make lavosh.  First she wanted to take it to her summer program.  Then she wanted to take it with her to Japan/Korea.  When she returned, she wanted to pack it for morning snack at her summer orientation.  I've run out of time.  Lavosh is time-consuming.  I'm hoping she'll be okay with the biscotti I made instead.  It meets all the criteria of lavosh...hard, crispy, makes a great snack.

This is actually the 3rd biscotti recipe I'm posting.  The last biscotti recipe, cranberry orange biscotti,  was perfect for fall.  While I like cranberries and oranges, it's one of the flavor profiles I need to be in a certain mood to want to eat.  If you're going for honesty, then it's the 1st recipe that would be my choice to eat.  Unfortunately, I'm also lazy and don't always feel like watching the butter brown instead of burn then waiting for it to cool before I can proceed with the recipe.  This ginger biscotti recipe is much faster to prepare, and the taste of ginger is timeless.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 c butter, softened
     1 c sugar
     2 c flour
     dash salt
     1 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp almond extract
     1/2 tsp vanilla extract
     2 eggs
     1/2 c nuts
     2 tbsp crystallized ginger pieces
     4 t turbinado sugar or any other coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a cookie sheet or 2 biscotti pans (or line with parchment paper).  Place nuts and ginger into the workbowl of a small food processor.  Process until nuts are chopped small.  Set aside.  Sift flour, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and extracts.  Stir in flour mixture.  Add nuts and ginger pieces.  Shape dough into 2 2"x12" long rectangles.  Sprinkle each rectangle with 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, cut loaves into 1/2" slices.  Place cut side down on cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.  Flip biscotti over and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

A whole bunch of my friends and family are well aware of my affinity for Starbucks city mugs.  Melissa, Edz, Mr. Dependable, the Ds, LA, The Help and Brucie have helped me grow my collection.  This summer, the Ds got me a mug from Busan, South Korea and Brucie got me a bunch of mugs from Europe.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Brucie is whom I wanna be when I grow up.  He lives in a gorgeous oceanfront luxury mansion (I'm talking celebrity-quality), complete with German guard dog.  He has traveled in style all over the world.  He even has the bragging rights to say he lived in Austin (my dream city. . .everyone knows how much I love Texas).  The mug holding the biscotti in the picture at the top of the page is from Brucie's previous trip to London.  Thank goodness for good friends (and kids)!

Monday, July 21, 2014

We Call it Manapua

A few months ago, The Help's photo was featured in the Huffington Post article, 23 Food Things Only Chinese-American Kids Would Understand.  It was his photo of "bao", the first item of the list, that compelled the reader to consider that "baos make the best snack ever."

If you grew up in Hawaii, you may not know what "bao" is.  I didn't know what a bao was until I went to the mainland for college.

There was a grease pit on the Ave (University Avenue NE, Seattle), called Mustard's.  Needless to say, I hardly went to that place because I hated the name and didn't care much for the food (teriyaki had chili pepper seeds all over the meat...gross).  But like many of the other Asian places, Mustard's was a hit with the local (Hawaii) kids because you could get shoyu food (teriyaki) there.  I did a quick web search, and I don't think Mustard's is in business anymore.

Mustard's had a basic menu. . .about a dozen or so choices which came with rice and some kind of veggie salad.  Most of the choices were some kind of teriyaki.  I noticed in Seattle that Asian take-out places were quick to sell teriyaki, no matter what type of Asian ethnicity of the owners.  In addition to the teriyaki offerings, Mustard's sold steamed bbq pork buns.  A friend of mine went there (I went with him) and ordered "manapua".  Manapua is the local (Hawaiian) term for what the rest of the world calls "bao".  The person at the counter told him, "we don't sell that".  When he pointed to the white pillowy buns, the guy said, "thats hom bao".  My friend was adventurous so he agreed to buy one.  When he tried it, he was puzzled. . .it was manapua!

Since that fateful fall day some thousand years ago, I've come to realize that manapua is called hom bao or char siu bao in every place other than Hawaii.  But it is the same thing. . .chopped bbq pork encased in an eggless yeast dough.  And it does make a great snack (like the Huffington Post article states)!  Traditionally, manapua is steamed, hence the white color, but baked manapua is also popular, at least in Hawaii.  The dough of the baked version is not the same as the steamed version.  The baked manapua dough usually contains egg and is yellowish in color.  Both doughs are slightly sweet.  I think most of my friends actually prefer the baked version, but I'm traditional and prefer the snowy white bun (steamed).

My favorite places for manapua are Chun Wah Kam, Char Hung Sut, and Legend Seafood Restaurant (this place calls it char siu bao).  All places are in Honolulu so it's not like I can just run down to the corner to get it when the urge arises, but I try to bring some home when I go to Honolulu.  Manapua freezes/reheats well.  Because it's not so easy to get here (frozen kine in the store just doesn't cut it), if I really want manapua, I make my own.  The BBQ Country Ribs, last weeks post, makes a great filling for manapua.  If you bought over 8 lbs of country style spareribs from Safeway, you'd have tons of leftover bbq pork too!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     6 1/4 c flour + more for dusting
     3/4 c sugar
     2 1/4 tsp yeast
     1/3 c warm water
     1 tsp salt
     1 1/2 tbsp Crisco shortening
     1 c hot water
     3/4 c milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Set aside.  Stir together flour, sugar, salt.  Combine hot water, milk, and crisco.  Add to flour mixture.  Add yeast mixture.  Using a dough hook, mix on speed 2 for 5 minutes, stopping as necessary to scrape sides of bowl.  Place in a greased bowl and let rise for an hour.  While dough is rising, make filling as follows:

     2 1/2 c char siu (Chinese barbecued pork), diced
     8 water chestnuts, diced
     2 tbsp diced onion
     2 tsp sugar
     1 tbsp shoyu
     1 tsp hoi sin sauce
     1 tsp red bean curd
     1/8 tsp (or less) red paste food coloring

Stir fry all ingredients except food coloring for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add food coloring.  Set aside to cool.

Cut 36 squares of waxed paper (3 x 3 inches).

Punch down dough and let rest 10 minutes.  Turn out onto floured surface.  Divide dough into 36 pieces.  Flatten and fill with a tablespoon of filling.  Place seam-side down on waxed paper squares.  When double in size, steam for 20 minutes.

It's official...I'm back at work.  Boohoohoo.

On the bright side, the Ds are home!!!  They managed to get in yesterday, amidst the much-ado-about-nothing threat of post-tropical cyclone Wali. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

BBQ Country Ribs

Kikukat and family would like to extend their condolences to the Lewis family of Fredericksburg, VA.  On Saturday, their eldest child William was fatally shot in Chicago while waiting for a bus.  Although Chicago police believe the shooting to be gang-related, they believe Wil was not the intended target.  Wil was a talented young man with a bright future.  He was only twenty-eight.

Although I've never met Wil, his dad, Joseph, is a friend.  Joe's day job is principal of Stafford Senior High School in Fredericksburg, VA.  Joe's other profession is a writer.  A few years ago, I was honored when Joe asked me to read his manuscript Stolen Lives, prior to meeting with his publishers.

Joe is also a blogger.  His most recent post, With Sadness (Sunday, July 13, 2014), on his blog, Simple Thoughts from a Complicated Mind, Sort of. . ., is so heartwrenching for me to read.  The agony a parent goes through when dealing with the death of a child is beyond comprehension.  Mr. Dependable once said, "A parent should not bury a child."  He has said a lot of stupid ass things, but that was something he actually got right.

The Ds have been traveling for over a week, and I miss them terribly.  Everytime I see their messy rooms I want to scream, but I still miss them.  I want to hug them real tight and tell them how much I love them.  I think Desi and Kennie miss them too.  At least once a day I'll see one of the kats walking out from the Ds wing [of the house].  Reading Joe's blog made me miss them even more. 

As much as I miss them, I can't waste time fretting over their absence, for my vacation clock is ticking.  This is the last Monday of summer vacation for me.  I need to make the most of my time left.  Most teachers officially begin the school year on July 28, but I begin on the 21st.  I feel like I've been working all summer, and lately, even if I'm not doing esy, I'm extra busy!

Last week was a busy week.  I was nice to The Help and bought him a tray of botamochi/ohagi.  After watching the Kenmin Show, all The Help could talk about was ohagi.  My friend's mom makes the best ohagi so I ordered some for The Help, his parents, and my parents.  That kept him quiet for a while.

I went in to work on Wednesday to meet and greet a new teacher.  I offered to help him get his keys and show him around.  He is new to the school but not new to teaching.  I hope he will enjoy his new home!  Actually, he should.  He is leaving a toxic situation, which will not get better unless. . .

I also enjoyed a nice lunch with Brucie, who just returned from a magical trip to England and Switzerland.  Sounds like he had a lot of fun, and thanks to him, I now have another three mugs for my collection.  Brucie is who I wanna be when I grow up!

After about a year, The Help and I made an attempt to make it back to Takenoko Sushi for lunch.  When I called a few weeks ago for a dinner reservation, they told me their next dinner opening was in August!  I couldn't wait that long.  Luckily, the wait for a lunch seating was only a week.  At the last moment, The Help gave up his seat for my parents (I was able to secure another seat), so I ended up going with them instead.  Like Sushi Sasabune, the best part of Takenoko is the omakase (chef's choice).  But unlike Sushi Sasabune, where you think you might get scoldings (or kicked out) for eating something incorrectly, Takenoko is more laid back.  Kikukat Dad tried uni (sea urchin) for the first time.  He said The Help can have his share from now on.  He said there was something stinky about it.  Kikukat Mom is not an adventurous eater, so she stuck with the basics:  unagi (eel), hamachi (yellowtail), toro (fatty tuna), and salmon.  Boring.  Kikukat Dad has a habit of inhaling his food, so we were outta there within 30 minutes.  I soooo could not savor and enjoy every bite.

This past Friday, The Help and I went to Kona to take his car to the doctor.  We had most of the morning to leisurely walk around Kona and explore.  I hate "exploring", as I've come to associate it as a term The Help uses when he is lost.  Unlike The Help, my sense of adventure is nil.  I don't like "exploring".  I like "finding".

We had lunch at The Fish Hopper, a restaurant near the Kailua pier.  Both of us had salads.  The Help had the Cobb salad, and I had the chicken macadamia salad.  I wasn't expecting much, but both of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals.  The Asian dressing on the chicken salad was perfect.  I did ask for it without papaya.  I should've asked them to hold the red onions too, but the onions were easy enough to pick out.  The Help's salad looked like it was full of bacon.  If it wasn't for the bleu cheese, I might have thought about ordering that too.

After my salad, I was looking forward to a hearty dinner (we made it home from Kona in the afternoon).  I was tired so it was a good thing we had lotsa leftovers in the fridge.  The Help came across a good sale Safeway was having on country ribs.  I generally don't buy country ribs (country style spareribs) because I tend to like my pork extra fatty (like bacon & hocks).  I suppose The Help couldn't help himself.  Nearly 8 lbs of country ribs cost under $20 with the Safeway club card.  8 lbs is a whole lotta meat, so I baked it with an Asian barbecue sauce because I knew the leftovers would be good.

BTW, the sauteed greens to the side of the meat in the top pic and the pic below is such a simple accompaniment to throw together. . .shredded savoy cabbage, ham slivers, and salt.  Saute until cabbage shows slight browning.  Place in a serving bowl and top with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     4 lbs country style spareribs
     1/2 c shoyu
     1/2 c oyster sauce
     3/4 c ketchup
     3/4 c sugar
     1 tbsp guava jelly or orange marmalade
     1/8 tsp 5-spice
     1/2" piece of ginger, grated

Boil country ribs for 1 hour.  Drain well and wash off scum.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place ribs in large baking pan.  Combine remaining ingredients.  Pour over ribs.  Bake 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from pan and slice across the grain to serve.

R.I.P. William Lewis. . .may your light continue to shine.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Me Me Shrimp

Sometimes life can be really cruel.  For most of her life (up to this point), D1 has taken full advantage of indulging in one of her favorite crustaceans, shrimp. She has stuffed her face with shrimp at the Sky Garden buffet (Imiloa Astronomy Center).  She has even eaten tempura udon all along the west coast (USA), Hawaii, and Japan.  She was so looking forward to her Japan trip this year for the opportunity to sample more tempura udon.  Unfortunately, all dreams of finding the best tempura udon in Japan came to a screeching halt a few months ago.  A spring visit to the allergist in Honolulu confirmed what we had suspected for a few months. . .D1 has a seafood allergy.

Dr. Kuo performed the "thousand needle" skin test, which revealed crab to be the most allergenic.  There was a slight/mild reaction to shrimp, and no reaction to lobster.  However, Dr. Kuo said that since crab, shrimp and lobster are closely related, he advised avoiding all 3 to prevent cross-reaction.

D1 was devastated.  I know she has contemplated having shrimp several times since that diagnosis.  And Mr. Dependable sold her out and told me she eats shrimp almost every weekend when she is with him!  Unlike Mr. Dependable, I tend to walk on the side of caution.  While benadryl has worked well in the past to combat the itching, I always tell her not to push her luck.  In spite of her allergy, D1 has a lot to be thankful for. . .she can still eat a whole bunch of other tasty seafood.  Clams, oysters, scallops are all safe (per Dr. Kuo).  I remind D1 that there other people who are not able to eat any seafood, including oyster sauce (neither of the Ds would be able to handle an allergy to this).

At this moment, D1 is somewhere in Tokyo. . .I hope she's not at Aoi Marushin or buying crab from Tsukiji!  I hope she remembers to ask what they use to make dashi.  And I most certainly hope she will not be tempted to indulge, even with epipen handy.  With an air of self-indulgence, D2 told me before she left that she plans to stuff herself with crab and shrimp tempura while there.  She said she'd even eat some sweet potato tempura (I didn't know she eats this)!

When D1 was part of the shrimp-eating population, her favorite shrimp dish was a toss-up between carry-along shrimp, salt & pepper shrimp and this shrimp dish.  The original recipe title is Mimi's Shrimp, and it was in a local cookbook.  I looked online for a similar recipe, and I came across the original recipe here.  The recipe link does not have any pictures of the finished dish, so I hope they will link to this blog (or ask me for permission to use the pics).

I have posted several kick-ass shrimp recipes, but I prefer this recipe to carry-along shrimp and salt & pepper shrimp.  This is more versatile.  It can be eaten with rice or with a crisp, green salad.  It also doesn't require much marinating time.  Because it's cooked on a grill, there is no oil to clean up (yay).  As a play on the original name of this recipe, we referred to this (when we were cooking shrimp) as "me me" (an homage to "Mimi") shrimp.  D1 is the ultimate "me me". . .the queen of the selfie!