Kiwi Pavlova

Kiwi Pavlova

February 6: Waitangi Day (New Zealand)

We met our wedding godparents, Drs. Mark and Natalie R., in a Midwest college town where he was a chemistry professor and we were graduate students at the same university. God brought all of us together somehow from different parts of the globe—Highlander from Canada, Islander from Hawaii, Godfather Mark from New Zealand/Aotearoa and Godmother Natalie from France—when we attended services at a small, new church (Highlander and Islander were the music ministers). Mark and Natalie frequently invited us to their home to enjoy home-cooked Sunday meals with their teen daughters when the cafeterias on campus were closed. We enjoyed the company as well as the delicious dinners—and, of course, the desserts, often something sweet and simple, like pavlova, a popular treat from Mark’s country.

Pavlova is a light and airy meringue smothered in whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit. We decorated ours with slices of native New Zealand kiwi only since passion fruit was not available at the time. Pavlova is a wonderful treat on Waitangi Day or any time one wants a delightful dessert.

Recipe

From Drs. Mark and Natalie R.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons water, cold
  • 1 cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1-2 cups sweetened whipped cream, cold
  • 3-5 fresh kiwis, sliced

Directions

In a grease-free cold bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy. Add the water and beat again. Gradually add the sugar while beating. Add the vinegar, vanilla and cornstarch.

Kiwi Pavlova

Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the meringue into a circle shape (8-10 inches in diameter) on the parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack the door slightly open and leave the meringue inside until cool. Remove from the oven.

Kiwi Pavlova

When ready to serve, spread sweetened whipped cream over the top of the meringue. Add slices of fresh kiwis to cover the meringue. Slice and serve immediately.

Kiwi Pavlova

Notes

  • The kiwi pavlova in the food photo above is resting on Islander’s traditional Maori skirt. She learned how to twirl poi balls while taking hula and Tahitian dance classes when she was younger.
  • Room temperature instead of cold egg whites beat fluffier and fuller.
  • The meringue can stay crisp on the outside and chewy in the inside if covered in an airtight container until ready to serve. Spread the cream and fruit just before ready to serve to avoid a soggy meringue.
  • Feel free to add other fresh fruits, such as passion fruit (lilikoi in Hawaiian), berries, citrus, mango slices, etc.

Elmo Candy

Elmo Candy

February 3: Elmo’s Birthday

Happy birthday to Islander’s favorite furry friend—Elmo! She adores the Sesame Street character so much that she was inspired to try a candy decoration project to mark her muse’s special day. It is a simple sugar arts technique that involves tracing and flooding over a pattern. The finished candy piece may be eaten as is or used as a cake decoration.

Elmo was a simple pattern with a few candy melt colors that Islander had on hand for her first candy project. Other clipart or coloring page patterns and chocolate or candy melt colors may be used—the possibilities are endless for a fun and personalized project. But for today, enjoy an edible Elmo on his birthday.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Black (or dark chocolate) candy melts
  • Red candy melts
  • Orange candy melts
  • White (or white chocolate) candy melts

Directions

Print out a clipart or coloring page of Elmo. Put the image on a cake board, cardboard or cutting board. Tape waxed paper over it. Melt the black or dark chocolate candy melts. Let cool slightly. Fill a piping bag outfitted with Wilton tip #3. Trace the outline of Elmo, flooding the mouth area. Refrigerate for a few minutes until the candy is set.

Elmo Candy

Melt the red candy melts. Let cool slightly. Fill a piping bag outfitted with Wilton tip #3. Flood the body area. Do the same for the nose using the orange candy melts.

Elmo Candy

Melt the white chocolate candy melts. Let cool slightly. Fill a piping bag outfitted with Wilton tip #3. Flood the eye area. Refrigerate for a few minutes until the candy is set.

Elmo Candy

Use the remaining melted white chocolate candy melts to trace all over Elmo’s body and flood the area completely. This makes the overall candy sturdier. Go ¼-inch past the edges with an outer outline (optional). Refrigerate for a few minutes until the candy is set. Remove the tape from the wax paper. Turn the hardened candy Elmo over on the flat surface. Carefully peel away the waxed paper. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve or decorate a cake.

Avocado-Mushroom-Onion Omelet

Avocado Omelet

February: National Avocado Month

Islander was so shy in kindergarten when students were asked to name a fruit during a food lesson. All the other classmates stated the obvious—apples, bananas, oranges—and local Hawaiian favorites—coconuts, pineapples, papayas, mangos, lychees, lilikoi, etc. She regrets not having spoken up and saying “avocado” especially since her family had an avocado tree in the back yard of her childhood home in Pearl Harbor that was located across the street from the school!

Now, 40+ years later, Islander is using this blog as a medium to say that avocado is botanically a fruit. But because it is green and used in many savory recipes, many might confuse it as a vegetable.

In observing National Avocado Month, we put avocado slices in an omelet filled with mushrooms and caramelized onions for a hearty and healthy brunch. Celebrate February with a fruit and add an avocado to an omelet!

Recipe

(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

Ingredients

  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • ¼ cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup mushrooms (we used oyster), sliced
  • 4 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced into wedges

Directions

Slice the mushrooms, chives, onion and avocado. In a skillet, sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until caramelized (around 10 minutes). Add the water to deglaze. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Avocado Omelet

In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil and add the mushrooms. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Wipe down the skillet and heat with 1 teaspoon of oil. Pour in half the beaten egg-water mixture and swirl around to cover the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle in the chives. Cook for about a minute or two. On one side of the omelet, sprinkle half the onions and mushrooms.

Avocado Omelet

Fan out the avocado slices on top. When the eggs are slightly set, fold the other side of the omelet over the filling. Slide the omelet onto a plate and keep warm. Repeat the process for the second omelet. Yield: 2 servings.

Avocado Omelet

Notes

  • Sprinkle a little lemon juice on the avocado slices to prevent browning after cutting.
  • Search our blog for additional avocado recipes.

Cheese Sablés with Rosemary Salt

Cheese Sables

January 20: National Cheese Lovers Day

Snack on something a little more sophisticated than Cheetos or Cheez-Its. Try homemade cheese sablés with rosemary salt. Sablés, which are similar to crackers, are actually crisp French butter cookies (also known as Breton biscuits) that originated from Normandy.

This recipe version is savory instead of sweet and has a distinctive Parmigiano-Reggiano plus sharp cheddar taste that cheese lovers are sure to appreciate. The rosemary and sea salt topping complements the cheesy flavors well.

On National Cheese Lovers Day, savor some cheese sablés with rosemary salt.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food and Wine)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (see Notes)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted, softened
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions

In a food processor or blender, combine the flour, butter, cheeses and cayenne pepper and pulse until a crumbly dough forms.

Cheese Sables

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a log about 1 ½ inches thick. Wrap in plastic film and put in the refrigerator for about an hour or until firm. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and slice into 1/8 thick rounds. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper about two inches apart.

Cheese Sables

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F in the middle rack for 12-15 minutes or until golden. While the sablés are baking, pound the rosemary and sea salt in a mortar until fine. Remove the sablés from the oven and sprinkle them immediately with the rosemary salt mixture. Let the sablés cool on the cookie sheets for another five minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cheese Sables

Notes

  • Make your own self-rising flour by combining 1 cup flour, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder. For this recipe, use 1 ½ cup flour, ¾ teaspoon salt and 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder.
  • National Cheese Day is also observed June 4. Search our blog for additional recipes containing cheese as an ingredient and celebrate all things cheesy!
  • Islander recommends taking lactase enzyme supplements if one has a cheese/dairy intolerance like her.

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream

January 15: National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

Strawberry ice cream is typically a summertime treat. But even in the middle of January, when the weather is warm in Hawaii and in the southern hemisphere, eating ice cream to cool off is a “berry” good idea. Turn the winter blues into something pretty in pink and make chunky no-churn strawberry ice cream in observance of National Strawberry Ice Cream Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from WRLA.com) 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
  • 1 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ – 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • a few drops of red food coloring (optional)

Directions

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Wash, dry and trim the tops off the strawberries. Puree the fruit. Chop additional strawberries and set aside.

Strawberry Ice Cream

In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk with the pureed strawberries. The mixture will turn pale pink. Fold the whipped cream into this mixture until smooth, being careful not to whip more air into it. Add a few drops of red food coloring and stir well until the desired color of pink is achieved (optional). Fold in the chopped strawberries until well blended.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Pour the mixture into a loaf pan. Cover and freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer. Let stand for a few minutes and scoop into cones or dessert dishes. Enjoy immediately.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Notes

  • Add a teaspoon of strawberry extract to boost the strawberry flavor in this recipe. If using this extract, reduce the amount of red food coloring.
  • National Ice Cream Month is in July—just half a year away. Get a head start with making no-churn ice cream by searching our blog for more recipes!

Baked Poi Mochi

Baked Poi Mochi

January 1: New Year’s Day

Islander grew up eating Filipino bibingka during the holidays, special occasions and “just because” in Hawaii. Other Asian immigrants on the islands have a similar sweet treat, like Japanese mochi and Chinese gau, for the new year. The glutinous rice is considered an auspicious food. Its stickiness symbolizes that good luck would stick with you throughout the coming year.

In a Hawaiian twist, Islander added poi powder to the mochi and coconut flakes for a tropical taste. We let our haole neighbors try a little bit of poi mochi for a mainland mini makahiki. Some liked its novelty while others were not used to the gooey texture. At least they tried something new for the new year!

Bake poi mochi for the new year and may good luck stick around! Hauoli makahiki hou.

Recipe

(Adapted from Taro Brand)

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • ½ – ¾ cup poi powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 ½ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 (14 ounces) can or 1 ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • purple food coloring (optional)
  • 1-2 cup coconut flakes (we used unsweetened)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mochiko, poi powder, baking powder and sugar.

Baked Poi Mochi

Stir in the milk and evaporated milk. Beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla extract.

Baked Poi Mochi

Melt the butter and cool slightly. Stir into the mixture. Tint with purple food coloring if desired. Fold in the coconut flakes. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing into 24 squares with a plastic knife. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container.

Baked Poi Mochi

Notes

  • The coconut flakes tend to rise to the top in this recipe, making the crust brown and crunchy. As the top can burn easily, place the pan in the middle or lowest rack in the oven.
  • There are deep-fried versions of poi mochi balls that Islander likes to eat when she finds them while in Hawaii. This baked custard-like version is simpler to make.
  • Mahalo nui loa to Islander’s brother who gifted us with the wooden model poi pounders pictured above.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing poi as an ingredient.
  • Happy new year to all our blog readers!

Creamy Carrot and 

Sweet Potato Soup

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

January: National Soup Month

We (TRY to) make a resolution to eat healthier this year and we started it off by cooking a heart-warming soup from carrots and sweet potatoes. The bright color combinations of these root vegetables remind us of a sunny day when winter weather can be dull and depressing. Both carrots and sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, such as A and B-complex and beta-carotene, have anti-oxidant properties and are a naturally sweet source of fiber.

Creamy carrot and sweet potato soup is a “souper” healthy way to begin the new year and observe National Soup Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Healthy Living Made Simple)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups carrot, washed, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 cups sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth, fat-free and less-sodium
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, fresh and roughly chopped (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large pot, melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Cook the onions until tender. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring constantly.

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Push this mixture to the side and add the remaining two tablespoons butter. Turn up the heat and melt the butter until brown (about a minute). Add the carrots, sweet potatoes. Pour in the chicken broth and water.

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Add the thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer until the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender (about 35 minutes). In a blender, working in batches, place the soup mixture and puree until smooth. Be careful not to splatter. Return all the pureed soup into the pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve hot and garnish with extra thyme.

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Notes

  • Substitute ¼ cup half-and-half for the milk and cream.
  • Have a happy and healthy new year!
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