Summer Food

Okinawan Sweet Potato Salad

 

You are probably thinking where am I ever going to find purple sweet potatoes where I life? Well, Whole Foods does have them on their website, but Okinawan purple sweet Potatoes are gaining popularity so you may find them showing up in your local farm markets. They are delicious baked, or mashed, but with summer’s arrival why not splash out with a Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad!

 

Purple sweet potatoes are generally identified as Okinawan sweet potatoes where thy are revered for their nutritive contribution to the islander’s historic longevity. The Okinawa’s are more likely to attribute their longevity to their warm tropical climate and their easy lifestyle. But that said, these purple sweet potatoes are just loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and have replace rice in the local Okinawan diet.

The purple sweet potato’s origins goes back thousands of years to Central and South America where native farmers cultivated purple sweet potatoes. After the Spanish Inquisition Spanish merchants brought the purple sweet potatoes to the Philippines, and from there to China in the late fourteen hundreds, Okinawa in the sixteen hundreds and onward into south East Asia and East Asia.

Here in Hawaii purple sweet potatoes arrived with Polynesian island settlers. Over time the original plantings were replaced with the Okinawan variety that are grown on the island of Molokai. They available in local farm markets and some super markets across the Hawaiian-islands.

The recipe that follows is my  own riff on a…

Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad

  • 1 ½ lbs. Okinawa purple sweet potatoes

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch cubes. Place then in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring the water to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are softened but still holding their shape. Purple potatoes will take longer to soften so be patient and attentive.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set them and set them aside to cool. when cool transfer them to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

For the salad

  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced sweet Maui onion, or yellow onion
  • 1 six inch fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup diced canned pineapple, reserving the remaining rings that will be halved for garnishing before serving the salad.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves 

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined.  Taste and add more lime juice and salt to taste. Cover the dressing and refrigerate.

Assembly and Serving   

  • several large lad leafy salad greens
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
  • sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves
  • halved pineapple rings

Line a serving platter or large shallow bowl with fresh salad greens leaves and set aside

Remove the bowl of salad ingredients and add the cubed purple potatoes and fold everything together until combined.

Add the dressing and fold the salad together until is evenly coated with dressing.

Spoon the salad onto the prepared serving platter or bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Place half slices of pineapple rings around the the edge of the salad. Scatter the macadamia nuts lightly over the top of the salad and serve!

 

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexico’s colorful  history, culture, customs and of course its irresistible food that is celebrated around the world on the 5th of May.

So let the celebrations start in your very own kitchen. The first thought that always comes to mind is guacamole that has been part of the Mexican diet since Aztec times and pairs well with any Mexican meal you may be planning. The process is quite simple and the results are sublime if you taste as you go. Avocados and chiles can vary greatly but can be brought together with a balance of heat, lime juice, salt, and an attentive palate. I’ve always find this ritual as comforting as it is ultimately delicious.

Ingredient quantities are approximated and  will vary to suit your own taste preferences.

Above all keep in mind this is an adventure in cooking that will continue to evolve every time you make a guacamole!

Best to prepare guacamole several hours before serving as it is best when chilled.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3  ripe hass avocados, green with lumpy skin or Puebla avocados ,dark with smooth skin
  • a small yellow onion, finely diced, amount to taste 
  • serrano, jalapeno, and or red chiles, seeded and finely diced, amount to taste 
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
  • chopped cilantro leaves to taste
  •  a tablespoon of avocado or olive oil ,optional, but it does add a nice richness and  texture. 

 

Cut  avocados  in half around the seed and and twist to remove the seeds, saving one to use later. Spoon the flesh into a mixing bowl and mash together with a bean or potato masher just until combined. 

Add the diced onions, dced chiles, and salt and mash together bearing down enough to release the liquid in the onions and chiles as you mash away.

Add lime juice and swirl in until combined. Then add the cilantro and mix until well combined.

Taste and add more chile, salt, and lime juice as needed until the guacamole’s flavors dazzle like a chilled  fresh lime juice margarita wit an assertive lingering heat.

Transfer the guacamole to a non reactive container and place the reserved avocado seed in the center. Legend has it that this will help keep the guacamole fresh and green. Press cling film directly onto the surface of the guacamole. Put the lid on the container and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Serve the guacamole along with margaritas and appetizers, with the main courses or a buffet. And do not be afraid to include guacamole with non Mexican meals as well. I’ll be having guacamole and salsa verde (see recipe here) with my Chinese stir fry tacos later this evening!

Chinese stir fry with guacamole

Buen Provecho!

 

Lancaster County Peaches

 

PEACHES

Nothing compares to the exquisite taste of  ripened peaches just plucked from the trees here in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  Farm stands that dot the verdant green landscape are laden with an abundance of peaches, sweet corn, green beans, patti-pan squash, zucchini, eggplant, and of course the very best vine ripe tomatoes you will ever taste!

 

PEACHES

No recipes required! 

Limoncello Pound Cake

Limoncello Pound Cake

A chilled Limoncello is hands down my favorite summer aperitif, equally refreshing straight up or on the rocks with a splash sparkling water. Limoncello captures the essence of summertime in southern Italy where Lemon trees dot the sun drenched landscapes of of Naples, Capri, Sorento, the Amalfi coast, Calabria and Sicily.

Happily, the region’s spectacularly lemony flavored limoncello is exported and most likely available at your local spirits shop. Otherwise you could make your own. All that’s need is a bottle of 100 proof vodka and the zest from 12 organic or California meyer lemons. Combine both in a jar, seal, and set aside for about a month to infuse the vodka with an intense lemon flavor. A simple sugar syrup is then added to sweeten the limoncello to your liking.

O course, as a cook, limoncello also inspires all sorts of other applications.

The Limoncello Pound Cake recipe that follows is a versatile summer delight personified. Serve it with coffee in the morning, sliced and toasted and topped with fresh seasonal fruits for a picnic, or a leisurely alfresco lunch, or as a zesty sweet finale for a supper under the stars.

Limoncello Pound Cake

Makes one 10” loaf or a 9” & a 6” loaf

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup  full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup limoncello
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds

For Limoncello Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups full fat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup limoncello

Preheat the oven to 350 f /180 c

Prepare a 10 inch” loaf pan or an 8 “ & and a 6”loaf pan, lined with parchment and buttered.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt n a bowl.  Whisk until evenly combined, and set aside.

In another bowl combine the Greek yogurt and limoncello. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Then add the sugar in three additions while continuing to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs in three additions while you beat on medium sped until the mixture is nearly smooth.

Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the dry ingredients and the Greek yogurt mixture alternately. Continue until the batter is relatively smooth and evenly mixed. Then mix in the lemon zest until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Gently shake the pan to even out the surface. Scatter the sliced almonds evenly over the surface.
Place the cakes in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the cakes after 25 minutes.

The cakes are done when they are nicely browned. Test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with a few crumbs the cake is done. If the cake requires more time return it to the oven for five minute intervals until the cake test done.

Transfer the cakes to a rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the yogurt limoncello sauce. Combine the yogurt and the limoncello and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the pound cake.

Once the cake are cool enough to handle, inspect the rim of the cake and remove any excess cake that may have spread over the edges of the cake pans. Gently run a knife around the edges of the cake pan and tip the pan onto a cutting board to release the cake. Turn cake upright and set aside until you are ready to serve.
Serving:


Serve generous slices of the pound cake with the Limoncello yogurt sauce to the side.

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