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  At My Kitchen Table has moved to Hawaii !

The last few of years have been a series of fits and starts and ever shifting priorities that have rearranged everyone’s lives, my own included. I found myself longing for the easiness of my day to day  life I left  behind in the tropics. A  plan was quietly fermenting for an eventual return. So when a window of opportunity finally arrived I jumped at the chance and  booked a flight to  Honolulu.

Once again I was” figuratively” packing up “my kitchen table and heading back to the Asia Pacific. A serendipitous offer for a place to  live in the middle of Honolulu’s ethnically diverse Chinatown was a cooks dream. I have been exploring every imaginable Asian cuisine in the street, as well as restaurants, shops,  and markets all within a few short blocks of my own kitchen.

 

Luckily  I also  live directly across the street from Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery at 1027 Maunakea Street where you will find Honolulu’s most popular Char Siu Manapua (Hawaiian) Char Siu Bao (Cantonese) steamed buns filled with Asian barbecued pork. Crowds queue up at the door every morning at 7am sharp!

 

Char Siu Baoare Chinese steamed buns filled with barbecued pork have got to be my favorite alternative wake up and smell the coffee breakfast, be it in a Chinatown coffee shop in New York, LA, Honolulu, or from my local 7 Eleven back in Chiang Mai! Steamy hot billowing white clouds of dough bursting with the aroma of barbecued char siu pork along with a  seriously strong cuppa java with a pinch of Hawaiian salt kick starts the day Asian style.

You may also want to try making your own char siu bao at home. It requires  a few easy steps  but  well worth the effort as well as an open invitation to get creative with seasonings and flavors added to the filling.

I posted a recipe for Char Siu Bao back in 2014 (Clicke here for recipe) which you might enjoy, especially  if they are not available where you live.

Honolulu’s  Kekaulike Market place at 1039 Kekualiki Street in Chinatown is 

Open daily. Best to get there early for local produce, meats, poultry, seafood, herbs and spices, woks, kitchenware’s, and you name it.

Hawaiian favorites as well as the ethnic cuisines from all over Asia are all available right here in Honolulu’s Chinatown.

Chinatown also has a burgeoning art scene well worth exploring!

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to be had here in Hawaii!

 

  Aloha !

 

Today I want to share some of Wayne Thiebaud’s painterly confections which are as buoyant and beguiling as any baked creation you could ever possibly imagine!

Wayne Thieboud was a founding member of the Pop Art movement of the 60’s, along with Andy Warhol, Roy Licktanstein, Robert Rouschenberg, Jasper Johns, and others. His paintings stand apart and quietly occupy their own space. I like to think of him as the Morandi of pop art.

          Wayne Thiebaud died on Christmas day this past week  at 101 . 

 

Cornbread muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar

Corn muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar

 

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is as American as apple pie. It is just one of those staples that everyone has turned to in a pinch at onetime or another. Myself included during my art school days when cooking was limited to quick serviceable meals that had nothing to do with cuisine. That was to came along later in my life.

That said, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is a staple created by Mabel White Holmes back in 1930. The Holmes family still owns the company and he original cheerful blue and yellow packaging has remained mostly unchanged ever since. Whenever I see a box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix on the shelf I just can’t resist picking one up! Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix has been a dependable partner for countless quick yummy corn muffin hacks I’ve whipped up over the years.

Summer is after all  about grilled meals and corn muffins are always a perfect comfort food accompaniment! The recipe that follows is a tried and true favorite of mine that requires very little time to make and these muffins are always a huge hit.

Corn Muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese.

Makes 8 muffins

Grease a muffin tin with melted butter

preheat oven to 450 f / 245 c

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix 
  • 1large organic egg
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup grilled corn kernels 
  • 1or 2 grilled jalapenos, skin and seeds removed, and minced
  • ¾ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese, divided

Place the corn muffin mix in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg and whisk briefly. Then whisk in the buttermilk  and salt. Fold the ingredients together just until they come together using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.

Add the corn and jalapenos and fold them into the batter without over mixing. A few lumps are fine.

Then fold in ½ cup of the cheddar cheese and set the batter aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Fill each muffin cup ¾ full and top off with the remaining cheddar.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes until the muffins are lightly golden brown.

Serve warm, with pats of butter (optional)

Fresh Epazote

Fresh Epazote

 

I was so surprised to find fresh Epazote so readily available here in the US if you know where to look for it.

It really doesn’t take much to get me excited when it comes to finding unusual ingredients that are readily available and have no substitutes. Epazote is certainly one of those ingredients and sorely missed in favored rustic Mexican dishes while living in Thailand.

Epazote ( dysphania ambrosioides) is a lush green wild herb, or weed if you will, that originates from southern Mexico, but can be found growing throughout Central America, parts of South America, and in temperate zones in North America. Epazote is a nahuat word that roughly translates as “stinky sweet” in the nahuate language of the Aztec and Maya cultures. That may not be the most enticing description to peak one’s curiosity, but perhaps epazote’s culinary heritage may be convincing enough for the adventurist cook in you to give it a try.

Epazote has been used since ancient times as a culinary ingredient as well as for medicinal remedies. It’s piquant flavor is unique and defies categorization. I would loosely describe epazote’s flavor as resinous or medicinal, with assertive notes of fennel or anise, followed with a minty peppery finish. It is an acquired taste for some, but an essential flavor for those with a seasoned Latin palate.

Epazote’s contributions to Mexican cuisine can be traced back through the centuries. It is Mexico’s indigenous ingredients and unique flavor sensibilities that have contributed to the evolution of tradition Mexican food into one of the most fascinating cuisines in the world.

Epazote has had many names over the centuries including payqu, herba santae, Jesuit’s tea, Mexican tea, wormseed, and the list goes on and on. Added to soups, stews, frijoles de la olla (beans cooked in a clay pot), Oaxaca moles, pork or iguana barbacoas from Chiapas and the Yucatan, as well as a flavoring chocolate, and an ideal footnote when added to enchiladas, quesadillas, papas, tamales, and for wrapping local cheeses.

Epazote’s introduction into Mexican cooking is credited to some ancient cooks who realized epazote’s capacity for reducing flatulence and bloating following a robust meal that included hearty portions of cooked beans!

If you are in doubt try this recipe for home cooked beans. (click here).

Another favorite recipe using is epazote is Papazules from the Yucatan (click here)

Fresh epazote can be found at Mexican markets, some specialty super markets, and online, as well as growing wild along the road or in vacant lots. If you are a gardener, epazote grows like a weed and ideal to have on demand just outside your kitchen door!
If fresh epazote is not available dried epazote is acceptable, but without the full flavor of the fresh.

The magic of epazote awaits. Buen proveco!

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