Sunomomo

(Japanese Cucumber Salad)

June 14: National Cucumber Day

As the hot summer season starts soon, stay cool as a cucumber with a light Japanese-style salad called sunomomo. Many Asian countries have their own version of a vinegary cucumber side dish, like the Filipino suka pipino we made for National Vinegar Day on November 1. The ingredients have changed slightly by using the products from that particular country. This recipe has a little alcohol (mirin—a sweet rice wine—or sake—Japanese rice wine) added to it for a subtle sweetness in this side dish. Sunomomo tastes great with grilled meats (Japanese teriyaki steak, chicken and/or seafood are sensational for a summer BBQ) and on National Cucumber Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food.com)

 Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin or sake
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • pinch of dried mint or dried parsley (optional)

Directions

Wash and peel the cucumber. Cut into thin slices. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix the rice wine vinegar with the mirin or sake.

Stir in the sugar, water, salt and red pepper flakes. Toss in the cucumber. Sprinkle dried mint or parsley. Cover, refrigerate and allow the flavors to set for at least half an hour.

Notes

  • Try our teriyaki sauce and baste some steak, chicken, shrimp and salmon when grilling or barbecuing meats.
  • Bake teriyaki chicken as an alternative to grilling/barbecuing. Serve with sunomomo.

Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp

June 8: World Oceans Day

Islander grew up on the south-central shore of Oahu. But sometimes she and her family went up to the North Shore for some reason or another. The drive was about an hour one way but the mauka and makai scenery was a nice distraction that made the trip seem shorter. While on the other side of the island, we would stop to eat at one of the many food trucks/lunch wagons that sold shrimp dishes (classic cocktail, sweet and spicy, lemon pepper, fried coconut and garlic butter flavors). They taste so ‘ono (delicious)!

While the North Shore shrimp trucks use fresh shrimp from the Kahuku farms, we use sustainable shrimp harvested from the world’s oceans to cook our mainland meals. When trying any of the seafood recipes posted on our blog, we encourage readers to use brands that practice ethical and sustainable fishing and farming methods (look for labels on the package).

Celebrate World Oceans Day with sustainable seafood and cook Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp. Aloha!

Recipe

(Adapted from I Love Hawaiian Food Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 12 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails intact
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ stick butter
  • 12 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon white wine
  • lemon wedges (optional garnish)

Directions

Rinse and pat dry the shrimp. In a pie plate, combine the flour, paprika and cayenne pepper. Dredge the shrimp in this mixture, shaking off the excess flour. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.

Saute the chopped garlic for about a minute. Then lay the shrimp on the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle salt to taste and cook for about three minutes. Turn the shrimp over and cook for a few more minutes. Finish the dish with white wine, cook until slightly evaporated, the garlic has browned and the shrimp is reddish in color. Serve hot with scoops of white steamed rice garnished with lemon wedges.

Notes

  • Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp is a variation of our shrimp scampi. Search our blog for other seafood recipes.
  • After eating at the shrimp truck in the North Shore, we would head to Ted’s Bakery for dessert and have a slice of chocolate haupia pie. Try our copycat recipe here.
  • One of our favorite movies is Disney’s “Moana” (“Vaiana”), which means “ocean” is many Polynesian/South Pacific languages. It is fun to watch this film on World Oceans Day.
  • Islander’s hometown is ‘Ewa Beach. Her ‘ohana (family) would spend some Sunday afternoons at the nearby beach park, with a distant view of Honolulu and Diamond Head. While Daddy would grill something on the hibachi, she and her brother and Mommy would gather a little limu (seaweed) for a side salad to complete our supper menu.
  • Islander is partial to the Pacific as her home state of Hawaii is right in the middle of the ocean. She used to participate with her schools to do volunteer trash pickup in ‘Ewa Beach so the community’s park and shore would stay clean. Please keep ALL beaches beautiful by picking up your trash (especially plastic products) and pet waste! Protecting our oceans from land litter is one of the premises of World Oceans Day.

 

Slow Cooker Brisket

May 28: National Brisket Day

We have eaten our fair share of beef brisket as Texas residents. Whether barbecued, braised, baked, smoked or slow cooked, brisket is delicious shredded as a sandwich or taco filling or sliced and served with BBQ sauce, potatoes and sweet baked beans.

Brisket is a primal cut from the portion of beef breast or lower chest and can be a little tough and stringy. So the meat must be cooked slowly with some liquid to keep it moist and tender.

For a Tex-Mex touch, we slow cooked our brisket with beer/cerveza for a tender and tasty meat filling in soft or crispy tacos. Leftovers could be eaten with BBQ sauce between burger buns for a hearty sandwich. Whether for tacos or sandwiches, try this slow cooker brisket recipe for National Brisket Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Muy Bueno Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 2-4 pounds beef brisket
  • 2 ounces liquid smoke (recommended 2 ounces per pound of brisket)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 ounces beer
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Line the crockpot container with slow cooker bags for easier cleanup. Place the beef brisket in the container, fat side up. Pour in the liquid smoke. Add the bay leaves.

Pour in the beer. Cover the crockpot with a lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8 hours. Remove the brisket from the crockpot and transfer to a cutting board. Shred the brisket, discarding the fat, and place in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

  • This slow cooker brisket is similar to our kalua pig (Hawaiian pulled pork) recipe.
  • Learn more about beef brisket from the Better Homes & Gardens website.
  • Smokin’ hot! We once attended Rodeo Houston’s World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest as guests of Highlander’s company’s associate sponsors. There were lots of tents/booths and barbecuing activities going on at the grounds of NRG Stadium. Coincidentally, the tent/booth to which we were invited won the contest in the best brisket division! However, unlike our brisket, they did not use a crockpot–just the Texas-sized grills!

Char Siu

May 16: National Barbecue Day

Many people think that barbecues involve a grill. This recipe for char siu involves an oven.

Char siu, Chinese-style barbecue pork, is one of Islander’s comfort foods. After church on some Sundays, her family would go to Chinatown in Honolulu and buy a piece of red pork meat hanging by the Peking ducks in the windows of Asian grocery stores. Sunday dinner was simple: char siu, sticky white rice and a vegetable side dish (see Notes). Char siu is also chopped up as a filling in manapua (Hawaiian word for char siu bao—Chinese buns) or sliced as a garnish for saimin and fried egg noodles.

While it may be simple to buy it ready-made at the store, it is quite easy to make char siu at home. Meat is marinated in an auspiciously red sauce (which freaked out Highlander the first time he saw it in our refrigerator looking like something from a horror movie/insane asylum). It is then baked in the oven (which makes this seem more of a roast than a barbecue). Islander especially loves the char in char siu—the blackened parts of the juicy pork from being caramelized!

Try this baked BBQ recipe for Chinese barbecue pork as something different on National Barbecue Day. Char siu is also appropriate throughout National Barbecue Month in May.

Recipe

(Adapted from Foodland and Serious Eats)

Ingredients

  • 3-5 pound pork (loin, shoulder, ribs, butt or belly)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sherry or rice cooking wine
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • few drops of red food coloring (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce and sherry or rice cooking wine.

Stir in the sesame oil, Chinese five spice powder and red food coloring. Mix well. Cut up the pork and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for a few hours (overnight is best).

Remove pork from the marinade and let the sauce drip back in the bowl. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet (easier for cleanup). Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for around 45 minutes or until the pork is cooked through (adjust cooking time for different pork parts). Remove from the oven and let the pork rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve.

Notes

 

Crepes Suzy

May 6: National Crepes Suzette Day

Highlander had to undergo fire safety training for his job in the oil and gas industry. Even with his background and reassurance (plus the fire extinguishers he put around the house), Islander is frightened about flambéing her fruity foods (Crepes Suzette, Cherries Jubilee, Bananas Foster, etc.). So she found a simplified and shortcut Crepes Suzette recipe, which uses store-bought crepes and marmalade for the “Suzy Sauce”. The orange-flavored liqueur is still included as an ingredient but it does not have to be ignited. The alcohol cooks off in the heat and the sauce is still sweet for this delicious dish. For a fast French food without the flame, make Crepes Suzy for National Crepes Suzette Day. Bon appétit!

Recipe

(Adapted from About.com Desserts/Baking)

Ingredients

  • 12 ready-made/store-bought crepes
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter (we used French butter)
  • 12-15 ounce jar orange marmalade (we used one that has champagne in it)
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Curaçao or Triple Sec)
  • 2 tablespoon brandy (we used Cognac)
  • orange, thinly sliced (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Stir in the orange liqueur and brandy. Simmer on low for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.

Mix in the orange marmalade and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat. Add a crepe to the sauce and quickly fold it in half, being careful not to let it soak or it will get soggy. Fold in half again and transfer to a plate. Continue folding the rest of the crepes one by one in the sauce. Arrange crepes on a plate, layering a few on top of each other. Garnish with orange slices. Spoon some more Suzy sauce on top of the crepes and orange slices.

Notes

 

Bantha Milk

May 4: Star Wars Day

Want something super simple to drink as a last-minute observance of Star Wars Day? Then prepare Bantha Milk—that (in)famous blue beverage first seen in “Episode IV: A New Hope” where Luke’s aunt Beru served it to him for supper as a nutritious drink. Wookieepedia lists other appearances of Bantha Milk in movies and books within the Star Wars universe. There are also boozy Bantha Milk cocktails, Blue Milk shakes and various versions of this recipe. But we wanted to post a quick and easy drink recipe that is sure to be a total “blue milk run” to celebrate Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you!

Recipe

  • Milk (cow, goat, sheep, almond, coconut, cashews, etc.)
  • Blue food coloring

Directions

In a clear pitcher, pour the milk. Add a few drops of blue food coloring. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to drink. Pour into glasses or cups and serve cold.

Notes

  • The “lightsaber straws” are actually plastic spoons that came in a cereal box a long, long time ago and a galaxy far, far away.
  • Serve Bantha Milk with Wookieee Cookies.
  • See our Theme Menus and scroll down to the Star Wars section to see a list of recipe ideas.

 

Battenberg Cake

battenbergcake

April 30, 1884: The Wedding Day of Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg

As marriage sponsors at church, we are always intrigued with foods related to weddings. Battenberg Cake, with its distinctive checkered pattern and quilt-like markings, has a royal wedding history. It was reputedly created in honor of the German Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt when they were married on April 30, 1884. The princess is the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England. Though the royal groom was born in Austria and raised in Germany, the family name eventually became Anglicized from Battenburg (Battenberg) to Mountbatten to disassociate with the Nazis during the World War. The cake itself seems to represent the alliance (marriage) between Germany and England with the two colors!

Battenberg Cake is a terrific teatime treat. Try this royal recipe for bridal showers, nuptial celebrations and the anniversary of the Prince and Princess of Battenberg.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 box pound cake mix (we used Betty Crocker brand)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • red food coloring
  • yellow food coloring
  • apricot jam
  • 2 packages marzipan

Directions

Prepare the pound cake mix according to the directions on the box. In a mixing bowl, combine the pound cake mix with the butter, eggs and milk. Add the almond extract.

battenbergcakesteps1

Mix until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter equally in two bowls. Tint one with red food coloring and stir until the batter is pink. Tint the other with yellow food coloring and mix well. Pour each into two separate, same-sized greased loaf pans.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes, testing the cakes for doneness. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Trim off the brown edges from the four sides of the cake.

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Level out the tops. Stack one cake on top of the other. Slice down the middle to create long, rectangular strips of cake.

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Stir the apricot jam in a small bowl until smooth. Generously spread the jam on one side of the cake strip. Attach an opposite colored cake strip to the side. Brush more jam on the top of the two cake strips. Repeat with the other cake strips, topping them with opposite colors. Brush all crumbs away and spread more jam on the sides, including the top and bottom of the cake.

battenbergcakesteps5

Knead the marzipan to soften. Roll out on a clean, flat surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Keep rolling until the size is large enough to cover the sides of the cake. Brush apricot jam on the marzipan. Carefully wrap the marzipan around the cake.

battenbergcakesteps6

Trim off the excess marzipan. Make a neat seam on the bottom and overlap the edges. Turn the cake around and make light criss-cross markings on the top. Chill until the marzipan and jam are set (around 15-30 minutes). Slice off the ends to make the cake look neat and finished. Cut ¾-inch thick portions and serve during tea time.

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Notes

  • In lieu of the apricot jam, a thin layer of vanilla frosting may be used to “glue” the cake strips together.
  • Search our blog for other royalty-inspired recipes.