kruizing with kikukat

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.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Almost Cafe Kaila: Belgian Waffle Encore

I am finally on Fall break, a break from work, but a break from nothing else.  This is going to be a busy break!

A year ago, The Help and I headed to the Pacific Northwest to visit AChar and to pay homage to the greatest institution of higher learning (my opinion only).  This year, we're keeping it local.  I'm taking the Ds to Oahu.  We have an allergist visit lined up and a list of places at which to dine, but the high point of our visit will be a wedding!

In planning our eating, both Ds have requested we go to Cafe Kaila for breakfast.  Cafe Kaila, in Market City, seems to be a popular breakfast place with the Japanese tourist crowd.  They arrive in taxis, on foot, and one time, I saw a bus load arrive.  I notice they tend to order family-style, and this might not be a bad idea, after all, the portions at Cafe Kaila are ample.  While I enjoy the egg breakfasts and home fries (hoping I get to try the benedict this time), the Ds go there for Belgian waffles.  After swipering a bite of their waffle, they are not off base in declaring it the best waffle in the world.

The Ds are partial to the waffles at Cafe Kaila, but delicious Belgian waffles can be recreated at home with just a little effort.  I posted a Belgian waffle recipe a few months ago.  That recipe yields crisp, savory waffles which can be made with ingredients you likely have on hand.  However, if you want to capture the crisp, light and slightly lemony taste of the Cafe Kaila waffle, then this week's post is for you.  These waffles are crispier, lighter, and sweeter than my previously posted recipe.  Unfortunately, not many people have buttermilk in the fridge.  If you don't mind running out to the store (or making your own from a powder or milk/vinegar), then this is the recipe you need to make!  You can always use the leftover buttermilk to make red velvet cupcakes!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 3/4 c flour
     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     1 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/3 c sugar
     3 eggs, separated
     1/2 c butter, melted
     1 3/4 c buttermilk
     1/2 tsp lemon extract

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.  Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.  Whisk egg yolks, butter, buttermik, and lemon extract.  Whisk in flour mixture, stirring until smooth.  Fold in half of egg whites, then carefully fold in remaining egg whites.  Cook on a pre-heated waffle iron for 6 minutes at medium heat (Use 1/3 cup or #12 disher for each waffle and #4 heat setting on All-Clad).

Homecoming was especially sweet this year with a victory over the Konawaena Wildcats.  The final score, 39-7, doesn't truly indicate how well the Wildcats were able to move the ball.  Moving the ball close to the goal line was not the problem.  The problem was crossing over with all the Viking defenders in the way!  
off to an early lead
difficult to escape from your own teammates
bringing down dangerous Nainoa Ellis-Noa
Best of luck next week, boys.  Let's finish the regular season with a victory over Waiakea.  I will miss the game but will definitely look at the pics when I return.

Kikukat and family would also like to ask anyone heading to the west side this coming weekend to cheer on hometown boy and Viking alumnus Colby LaBrie (bib #1565), who will be competing in the Ironman World Championships on Saturday.  It's people like Colby who remind me why I do what I do.  I am so proud of him.  Go Colby!!!