Monday, October 27, 2014

Bavarian Potato Soup (roughly 8 servings)

the beautiful Fall scene place-mat came from
my sister-in-law's grandmother
(thank you Barbara!!)
The best part about eating out is that I can try different food, check out the chef's creativity and find inspiration for my future meals.  I especially love the small, family-run or ethnic restaurants; the more authentic the food the better.   There is one restaurant in Hooksett, New Hampshire that serves authentic Bavarian food.  Their menu is not extensive but the quality of the food served is high.  I would rather have a few great choices than too many of so-so or poor quality food.  We have been to this Bavaria restaurant a few years ago and I had their spaetzle dish.  It was so tasty that I was inspired to make a similar dish at home.  My husband and I were visiting friends not far from Hooksett so we stopped in for an early dinner.  We did not have reservations but luckily we were able to get a table since we beat the huge dinner crowd.   I was very interested in goulash but they ran out. One of the dishes on the menu that I ordered was the kartoffelsuppe mit speck which is described as "traditional Bavarian potato soup with vegetables and bacon".   My husband tells me speck means "fat"!  This soup reminds me of a version of my chicken soup that I have made in the past except all the vegetables were cut in tiny pieces.   What a great idea!  This way it will cook faster.  The soup was a little salty for my taste but it was very good and it hit the spot since I was starving!  My husband had some freshly made pretzel and I took some and dipped it in my soup.  The rest of our dishes were meaty with Bavarian potato salad.  There was not much green vegetables.  I would have liked a few steamed green beans or asparagus on my plate.  We noticed as we were walking out that the restaurant has several awards for best food which is not surprising.  

Here is my version of kartoffelsuppe mit speck!  You can add more or less of the ingredients.  If you are not a huge fan of parsley then you can chop up a few sprigs.  I happen to like it so I added a huge amount to this soup.  You can use ham, pancetta, or another type of bacon.  I had some left over maple sugar cured bacon that I saved in the freezer so I used that.  I prefer the bacon with mostly meat instead of fat.  If you would like this to be vegetarian, omit the bacon and substitute chicken stock for vegetable stock or water.   Add extra salt if you use water.


7 maple sugar cured bacon strips, sliced (about 1 1/2 C)
1/2 large white onion, diced small (about 3/4 C)
2 scallions, chopped (about 1/3 C)
2 celery ribs, diced small (about 1 C)
4 carrots, peeled and diced small (about 1 1/2 C)
3 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced small (about 3 1/2 C)
3/4 C chopped or sliced parsley leaves and stems (save a little for garnish)
32 oz (4 C) chicken stock
32 oz (4 C) water
1/4 tsp salt


1) Heat a pot over medium high heat.  Add bacon, onion, and scallions once the pot is heated. Cook about 3-4 minutes.
2) Add celery, carrots, potato, and parsley.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
3) Add stock and water.  Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn heat to low and cover.
4) Add salt according to your taste.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Turn off heat but keep cover on so it continues to cook.  When ready to eat just add extra parsley leaves to brighten your soup.

*Please click on Bavaria German Restaurant in New Hampshire.  If you are interested in a meal with them.  I would recommend calling to make a reservation.  

entrance to Bavaria restaurant
this restaurant is the most authentic with excellent food--
as far as I am aware of in the Northeast
hall inside the restaurant
decorated with antique German cooking ware
--I particularly like their spaetzle makers
(they look a bit like cheese graters)
German beer mugs on wall
plate on wall of Munich
(photo courtesy by my husband, Paul)
this place serves German draft beer with your meal
I never thought I would eat meat and
potatoes and enjoy them so much...
but I did!!  As for my husband, well he
has some Bavarian blood and he can't
get enough of all the various wursts! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

San Juan Lobster (serves 2)

This dish is inspired by a delicious shrimp mofongo that I first ate in San Juan (Puerto Rico) years ago when I was there for work.  I stayed at the Ritz Carlton and read that there were a few highly rated restaurants nearby and was excited to try them out.  I invited my coworker to join me but she did not want to leave her hotel room.  I enjoyed work and travel, and the one thing I did was take advantage of my surroundings by exploring when I was done with work.  It never bothered me to dine solo in a restaurant.  During that one year I was traveling quite a bit for work (on average of about 1-2 trips per month).  I looked forward to each work trip because to me it meant I was going to a new destination and eat something that I have never eaten before!  Luckily I had a very generous meal account!  

Mofongo is taking fried green plantain and mashing it with garlic, salt, oil, and sometimes some fried pork fat. The last time I ate shrimp mofongo was in a Puerto Rican restaurant in East Harlem (New York City). The dish would have been great except for the very salty sauce. Unfortunately I was not able to enjoy it then so I have decided to re-create it.  I find that it is best to under season with salt when cooking if one is unsure of another person's taste.  It is easier to adjust by adding more salt later than to take it away after it has been added.  I was not able to find any plantains at my local grocer this week so I made the sauce and ate it with brown rice.  I called this dish San Juan lobster since it reminded of the first time I tasted this yummy sauce.


1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic, smashed and minced
1/2 medium white onion (~1/2 cup)
1 scallions chopped (~1/4 cup)
1/2 cubanelle pepper, diced (~1/2 cup)
1/3 C chopped cilantro (leaves and stems)
1 large tomato, diced (~1 cup)
1/2 C water (plus a little more if needed)
1/2 tsp Broth Base & Seasoning (chicken flavored)
1/4 tsp salt
10-oz lobster meat, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp annatto oil
A large pinch of ground black or white pepper (optional)
A little extra fresh chopped or julienned cilantro leaves to add at the end


1) Heat a pan over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot add oil.
2) Once the oil is heated add garlic, onion, scallions, cubanelle pepper and cilantro.  Cook for about 5-6 minutes.
3) Add tomato, Broth Base, salt, and water.  Reduce heat to a simmer once the liquid starts to boil.  Cook about 8 minutes.  Add a little more water if the liquid gets too low.
4) Add lobster meat and annatto oil. Stir a few times and let everything simmer for another 5 minutes or until meat is heated through.
5) Turn off heat.  Add black pepper and extra fresh cilantro.  Give it a few stirs and serve immediately.

*If you do not have the Broth Base & Seasoning you may substitute with chicken broth.  If you are using store bought chicken broth you may omit the water and extra salt if needed.  Some chicken broth may already have enough added salt.  As always adjust the ingredients according to your taste and like.

after the rain
(Seacoast NH, 2014)
another autumn day
(Seacoast NH, 2014)
*Autumn brings cool weather and vibrant colorful leaves.   Some days I am mesmerized by the beauty of my surroundings (here in New Hampshire).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Make Annatto Oil

annatto pods on tree (Maui)
dried annatto seeds in a pod (Maui)
beautiful orange-red color from
annatto seeds infused with oil
For best result harvest fresh annatto seeds from the dried pods.  You know the pods are dried when they opened up to show the red seeds inside (see photo from above, second from top).  You can cut down the pods from the tree and then open up each pod to get to the seeds.  It is best if you can wear gloves for this procedure or your fingers will be stained red and difficult to wash off even with soap. Once you have removed the tiny red seeds put them in a fine strainer and tap the side to rid any fine hair or thorn-like fibers.  If you cannot harvest fresh annatto seeds the next best thing is to find them in Asian grocers.  Fresh annatto seeds render a beautiful bright orange-red color when infused with oil.  I normally use canola, vegetable or olive oil.   It really does not matter the exact ratio between oil and seeds.  I generally put in less seeds than oil.  It is best to make enough annatto seed oil for what you will need or use.  Just like any oil it does get rancid over time.  The seeds store much longer than the oil when sealed and kept in a dry place.  If the seeds do not make much color when you render them then they have been on the shelf too long and should be discarded.


1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp annatto seeds


In a pan add annatto seeds and oil.  Stir the seeds over 1-2 minutes or until the oil turns bright orange-red.  Remove the pan from heat and let the seeds steep for about 10-15 minutes.  Discard the seeds.

*Here is a link with more info on annatto seeds:

Ahi Ogo Poke and Papaya Salad (serves 4 as part of a shared meal)

Grocers across the Hawaiian islands have a counter section with a selection of different types of prepared poke. Poke is a raw salad found in Hawaiian cuisine. Poke is a Hawaiian term meaning "to cut or slice". For a quick meal I often buy this and eat it with rice. Other times I like to add it to shredded papaya especially when I have an abundance of green fruit. I was invited to a lunch so I made this dish to bring along. It's quick, delicious and everyone loves eating it.


3/4 large green papaya, peeled and shredded
1 lb prepared ahi ogo poke (found in Hawaiian grocers)
20 red hibiscus flower pedals, torn
10 mint or Thai basil leaves, torn or julienned
A handful of crushed freshly roasted peanuts
Vietnamese dipping sauce (to drizzle on the salad when ready to eat)


1) In a large bowl, place the papaya inside.
2) Scatter the ahi ogo poke, hibiscus flower, mint or basil leaves, and peanuts on top.
3) Drizzle Vietnamese dipping sauce on each individual plate (according to taste and preference).

red hibiscus flower
small papayas commonly found in Hawaii
larger variety of papayas
*Ahi Poke is a mixture of cubed ahi (yellowfin tuna), soy sauce, onion, scallion, sesame oil, ogo (crunchy thin seaweed), and roasted candle nut.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sauteed Maui Wild Boar and Onion (serves 3-4 as part of shared meal)

Wild boar backstrap is very tender and delicious.  There are specialty stores in the Mainland that sell the meat but I got mine from my secret hunter on Maui.  Thank you T for the tasty meat!


1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp Tropical Seasoning
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
1/2 Maui onion, sliced
2 lbs wild boar backstrap, sliced (may use pork)
1 Tbsp fish sauce (more or less according to your taste)
A large pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black or white pepper


1) Heat a medium size pot or pan over medium high heat.
2) Add oil once the pot or pan is hot.
3) Once the oil is heated add tropical seasoning, garlic, and onion.   Saute for about 2-3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.  May reduce heat slightly if the pot or pan gets too hot.
4) Add meat and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until meat is just cooked.
5) Add fish sauce, sugar and pepper.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes or until the meat is completely cooked.

paddling in the deep blue sea
(Wakiki, 2014)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stir-Fried Tropical Salad with Seasoned Meatballs (serves 2)

I was getting tired of eating fresh papaya salad so I cooked the salad for a change!  I have done this in the past and it turned out pretty tasty.  This time I stir fried it with potato noodles, banana blossom, seasoned ground pork and oregano and topped with freshly roasted peanuts and a drizzle of Vietnamese dipping sauce--the final result was tasty!  The papaya and banana blossom are mild in taste so it is easy to add and incorporate into other more flavorful ingredients (such as the seasoned meatballs).

Stir-Fried Tropical Salad with Seasoned Meatballs (serves 2)


2 Tbsp oil (any type you prefer or have available)
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
3 Tbsp chopped onion or shallots
1 lb Seasoned Ground Pork (recipe follows)
2 large handful of shredded green papaya, squeezed out water
1 large handful of shredded banana blossom, squeezed out water
1 handful cooked potato noodles
2 medium or large tricolored dwarf marjoram (or variegated wild Greek oregano), julienned
A drizzle (about 1 tsp) of fish sauce (or according to your taste)
A large pinch of crushed roasted peanuts
Vietnamese dipping sauce or fresh squeeze juice from 1/4 lime


1) Heat a non-stick pot or pan over medium high heat.
2) Once the pot or pan is heated, add oil.
3) Once the oil is hot add garlic and onion or shallots.  Saute for about 1-2 minutes or until the onion or shallots is translucent.
4) Add meat and cook until everything is just cooked.  Remove meat and reserve in a dish or bowl.  May remove some of the excess oil.
5) Add papaya and banana blossom into the same pot or pan.  Cook about 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are somewhat wilted.
6) Add noodles, marjoram and the cooked meat.  Stir occasionally for another 3-4 minutes or until everything is blended and heated through.
7) Drizzle in fish sauce according to your taste.  Turn off heat, stir and let everything cook for another minute.
8) Remove from heat and add peanuts and dipping sauce or lime juice if interested.

*May substitute fish sauce with salt.
*I used 6 seasoned pork meatballs and broke each one into 4-5 pieces.  
*May substitute peanuts with another type of nuts, seeds or omit them.
*If the pot or pan gets to hot just lower the heat slightly.  I used an electric portable stove top that does not get too hot.
*Potato noodles are found in Asian grocers in dry bundles in a package.  It is the same noodles that the Koreans make jap jae.  Cook the noodles following the package instructions.  The beauty about this noodle is that it generally does not break apart easily during cooking.

tricolored dwarf marjoram
Seasoned Ground Pork 

1 lb ground pork
3 Tbsp Tropical Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp sesame seed oil
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of ground black or white pepper
A pinch of salt (optional)


Mix all ingredients gently together until well blended.

*May substitute ground pork for other meat such turkey, chicken or lamb.  May even substitute with half chicken and half shrimp.  
*Depending on the size of preference for your meatballs, divide the meat out so you can have equal size balls.  I made six balls with a pound of meat.

I made this tropical seasoning blend a few times and really liked how it turned out.  It's just a few basic ingredients that you can add to other ingredients easily.   I made a small batch and kept it in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator and used it over 5 days.  I called it tropical seasoning since these ingredients grow year round in the tropics.  I use this blend on both meat and seafood.  If you do not have any kaffir lime leaves then substitute with half a lime rind, grated.

tropical seasoning
Tropical Seasoning (makes ~ 1/2 cup grounded)


2 lemongrass (or about 1/2 C thinly sliced)
3 large garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
3 sprigs young kaffir lime leaves (about 1 Tbsp chopped)
~Thumbnail size of ginger, sliced or smashed and chopped


Grind everything in a coffee grinder.

*Having an extra coffee grinder in your kitchen mainly used for grinding up herbs and spices is a great tool to have.  
*If you do not have a grinder, cut everything as thin as possible and chop finely or use a mortar and pestle and mash everything all together.

a coffee grinder--great tool for your kitchen
for grinding up herbs and spices
young kaffir lime leaves
young kaffir lime leaves
*The young kaffir lime leaves are located at the tip.  I prefer to use young leaves since they are a lot softer than older leaves.  You may use the older leaves if these are what you have available especially if you buy yours from a store.  If you are picking off from a bush or tree you may want to snip it with scissors since they do have thorns.  The worst thing that I can think of is getting wounded when you are hungry!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Papaya and Purslane Weed Salad (serves 1)

When I have an abundance of green papaya, I like to keep a supply of prepared shredded papaya in a clean bag in my refrigerator.  I have come up with other ideas by mixing different ingredients so I don't get tired of eating it.  I found this great looking purslane weed at the Makawao farmer's market.  It has a slightly acidic taste which complements this dish well.  I also like the texture of these green leaves against the yellow strings of papaya.


1 large handful of prepared shredded papaya
5 sprigs of purslane weed, cut or break into 1-inch lengths
5-6 mint leaves, hand torn
A large pinch of toasted sesame seeds
Vietnamese dipping sauce (add according to your taste)


1) Mix papaya, purslane weed and mint leaves together.
2) Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
3) Drizzle with some Vietnamese dipping sauce.

freshly shredded papaya
*Purslane weed is exactly that, a weed!  If you are able to harvest this in the wild it will be even more special.  If you forage for edible weed please remember to pick far away from the road and pesticide area.
*If you make this salad add as little or as much of the ingredient(s) according to your taste.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cactus Pear Jello

cactus pear jello with lychee and yogurt
The extracted cactus pear juice is a beautiful red.  I spoke to a farmer on Maui and she mentioned that her friend makes jello from the juice.  I have never tried so I decided to experiment using unflavored gelatine.   I used the box instructions as a guide and instead of using fruit juices I added 1 1/2 cups water since my cactus pear juice was concentrated.  Once the jello is firm I added it to lychee (unfortunately came from a can) and store bought yogurt; the combination is strange but delicious.  If you want you can also make jello shots for your party.  Recently I was at my friend, Gigi's 50th surprise birthday party.  Yes, Gigi was very surprised and we all had an amazing time at her party.  Her friends, Chris and Rebecca came with a cooler full of very colorful jello shots.  They said they made 150 shots!  At the end of the night they gave me their recipe and I will share it with you today.  Thank you Chris and Rebecca!  Happy birthday to Gigi!

Cactus Pear Jello 


1/2 C Cactus Pear Juice I (1st Batch)
2 Tbsp honey (more or less according to your taste)
1 1/2 C water, heated to just boiling
2 envelopes KNOX Unflavored Gelatine


1) Use a container or pan that you want to have the jello in.  Mix Cactus Pear Juice and honey.  Sprinkle gelatine on top.  Let it sit for about a minute.
2) Add the hot water and stir until gelatine is dissolved.
3) Cover and refrigerate until firm (about 2-3 hours).

*May substitute honey with sugar or another sweetener that you prefer.
*I used a glass pan 7 x 11 x 2 (inch) to make my jello.  In the past I try to speed up my jello by putting the container in the freezer for 30 minutes.  If you want to put it in the freezer just remember to take it out!  Having said this I do not recommend placing glass in the freezer.
*You can eat the jello however you prefer.  I cubed the jello and added to a few lychee fruits and yogurt.

Chris and Rebecca Jello Shots

Chris and Rebecca said to use "a little less water than the directions say.  Substitute vodka for cold water (but a little more)"!

*I want to add that when they said "the directions", they meant the box instructions NOT the recipe from above where you use 1 1/2 cups vodka...unless you want to knock your guests out!  They used coconut flavored vodka in their jello shots.

Here is my version of the jello shots using cactus pear juice, inspired by Chris and Rebecca.  It's my first time making these using my highly prized cactus pear juice so I made a small batch.  Also my husband did not want me to waste any good vodka on my "experimental drinks"!  I had left over lychee so I cut each one into rings and dropped them into each jello glass.  I speed up the jell time by putting them in the freezer for 30 minutes.  The shots are pretty.  My husband said he can taste the vodka in the lychee rings.

cactus pear jello shots
Cactus Pear Jello Shots (six 2-oz shooters)


1/4 C Cactus Pear Juice I (1st Batch)
1/4 C Grey Goose Vodka or any other high quality vodka or liquor
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 envelope KNOX Unflavored Gelatine
1/2 C water, heated to just boiling
6 Lychee fruits, cut into rings (optional)


1) Pour juice, vodka and honey into a bowl.  Sprinkle gelatine on top.  Let it sit for about a minute.
2) Add the hot water and stir until gelatine and honey completely dissolved.
3) Cover and refrigerate until firm (about 2-3 hours). 

*Use any good Vodka.  You may substitute with rum or another liquor you prefer.
*Add cut up rings of lychee or another fruit if interested.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Papaya and Kale Salad with Pan-Fried Wild Boar Meatballs (serves 1-2)

This is the last of my wild boar meatballs and I figured out how to extend another meal from just 2 balls.   I divided each ball into 4.  This gave me 8 tasty little balls!  I pan-fried them for about 6-8 minutes until they are cooked and brown. Pan-fried seemed to taste better as it kept the juices in. Grilling them added a smoky flavor but the meat was a bit on the drier side.

Papaya and Kale Salad with Pan-Fried Wild Boar Meatballs


1/2 small papaya, peeled, shredded, washed and squeezed out water
6-8 dinosaur kale tips, washed, drained and sliced
6-8 large mint leaves, washed and hand torn
2 wild boar meatballs, divide each ball into 4 smaller balls and pan-fried until cooked and brown
1 tomato, sliced (garnish)
Roasted peanuts, chopped (garnish)
Drizzle with Vietnamese dipping sauce II (recipe follows) according to your taste


1) Mix papaya, kale, and mint leaves well.
2) Add the boar meatballs and tomato slices.
3) Sprinkle roasted peanuts on top.
4) Drizzle with some Vietnamese dipping sauce (use as little or much according to your taste).

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce II


7 Tbsp white vinegar
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
chili pepper (optional)


Mix all ingredients well.

*Adjust ingredients to your taste.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Braised Cassava Leaves and Wild Boar (serves 2 as part of a shared meal)

I have eaten a lot of cassava or yuca tuberous roots but never eaten the cassava leaves.   I have been very curious to cook and eat them.  I have read that Africans and Indonesians eat the leaves. The leaves need to be prepared by boiling them in an uncovered pot or pan in order to release the toxin known as hydrogen cyanide.  Ingesting a large amount of this toxin can cause death.  Some people use a mortar and pestle to mash the leaves to a pulp.  I chopped the leaves and put them in a blender with some water and puree them to bits.   Despite having to grind the leaves and cooking them for 1 1/2 hours they are still a bit pulpy.   If you do not like pulpy food then this is not the meal for you!   I actually find this dish to be pretty tasty.  My family would not eat the leaves since they believe they are poisonous.  Also they have plenty of other greens to eat which required less work to prepare. 

You can listen to this interesting talk on hydrogen cyanide (found in cassava) from the Royal Society of Chemistry:


1 large handful of cassava leaves, washed well, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 C chopped onion or shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C ground wild boar
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce (or according to your taste)
1/4 tsp raw sugar
3 C water (plus more if needed)


1) In a blender puree the cassava leaves in 1 cup water.  May use a mortar and pestle to pound the leaves to a pulp.
2) In a small pot boil the cassava leaves uncover for 20 minutes (preferably cooking outside your home due to the toxin).  Strain and rinse with cold water several times.  Set aside.
3) Rinse the pot with water and heat it over medium high heat.  Once the pot is hot add oil.
4) Once the oil is hot, add onion and garlic.  Saute for about 1 minute or until the onion is translucent.
5) Add cassava leaves and 2 cups water.  Once it boils turn heat down and let it simmer for 1 hour.
6)  Break the meat into small bits and add to the pot.  
7) Add fish sauce and sugar and cook for another 1/2 hour.  Add more water if contents become too dry.

*May substitute wild boar for another meat.
*I served this meal with hot steamed rice.

one large handful of cassava leaves
wash the leaves well
puree the leaves
cassava seed
dried cassava seed and leaves
*My mother grew up with cassava growing around her and she has never seen flowers or seeds growing from them.  The reason may be that once the cassava tubers grow large enough they are harvested for food before flowers or seeds have a chance to develop.  The photo above that I took on Maui is of the cassava seed.  I really love the look of this plant; the red-purple stems, the finger-like leaves, delicate pink flowers and segmented seed pods.

cassava tubers and leaves
*Here is some information on cassava from the American Cancer Society:
*Here is more information on cassava from Wikipedia:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stir Fried Wild Boar with Cabbage and Papaya (serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal)

I have a mismatch of ingredients in the refrigerator and I need to clean out before a trip!  I came up with a rendition of my stir fried cabbage with tomato and meat; it's one of my favorite stir fried cabbage dishes.  However, with what I have on hand I decided to use bell pepper instead of tomato and added shredded papaya.  The result is mighty tasty.  Sometimes the best tasting food can be simple and from spontaneous cooking!   

The wild boar backstrap came from my secret hunter, T from Maui.  I have mentioned him in my previous blog postings.  Thank you T for the best fabulous tasty meat!! You have made my meals on Maui so much better this trip!


2 Tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1/4 onion, chopped or sliced
1/4 lb thinly sliced wild boar backstrap
1/2 red bell pepper (de-seeded and sliced)
2 large handfuls of sliced cabbage
1 large handful of shredded papaya
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
A pinch of sugar
Freshly ground pepper


1) Heat a pot or pan over medium high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot add oil.
3) Once the oil is heated add garlic and onion.  Saute for about a minute.
4) Add meat and saute about 1-2 minutes.
5) Add bell pepper, cabbage and papaya, saute about 5 minutes or until cabbage is wilted to your liking.
6) Add fish sauce, sugar and black pepper and saute for another 2-3 minutes.

*May substitute wild boar with pork, another meat or omit altogether.

dawn view of West Maui and Lanai from 6500 feet

Minty Pineapple-Banana-Cactus Smoothie (makes ~4 cups or serves 2)

I purchased some beautiful mint leaves and very sweet cut up pineapple chunks at Makawao Farmer's Market.  On this trip to Maui a friend told us the market has moved to the grounds of the historic Po'okela Church on Olinda Road.  They are open on Wednesdays from 9 am to 1 pm, best to show up early.  If you get a chance it is worth a visit!

By midday it's in the high 80s and very sunny on Maui, this sweet cold smoothie definitely cools me down!  


2 C pineapple chunks, core and eyes removed
4 apple bananas, peeled
20 large mint leaves, washed well
1/2 C cactus pear syrup
1/2 C pass-o-guava (POG) juice, passion fruit or any juice you prefer or have
4-5 ice cubes


Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until well blended.

Pele-Inspired Guacamole (serves 1-2)

Pele-inspired guacamole
On the Big Island my husband and I met Gary while we were walking to see the lava field. Gary has chosen to live on his land after Pele (the Volcano Goddess) visited him. He showed us incredible photos and footage that he had artistically documented and compiled into a movie--as Pele was steadily creeping into his land and taking back what was hers. He told us he was living on 21-acres of land and was self sufficient, able to eat off his land with what he grew. After Pele came he is slowly re-growing his vegetables and fruits. He kindly showed us his land and a simple but beautiful home that he built by himself. As you can see (photos below) his land is bare of soil, he depends on solar for energy, and collects rain water. Despite the bare soil he managed to grow vegetables and some young trees. Gary's story and perspective about Pele is unique. He does not feel that Pele robbed him. On the contrary he feels she had given him much more than she took from him.  

My husband loves a good guacamole. There are plenty of fresh creamy home-grown avocados on Maui. We have friends providing us with some beautiful fruits from their trees. If the fruits are picked off the tree and not ripe, rest assured, they will ripen quickly once they are picked. Place the unripe fruit in a brown paper bag and close the top. You can open the bag every 2 to 3 days to check whether the fruit is ready to eat. In the tropical heat the fruits ripen quickly, usually in 3-5 days. 

There are numerous ways to make guacamole. Here is one quick preparation that I normally follow for a decent guacamole. I called this dish Pele-Inspired Guacamole since it reminded me of Gary and his story of Pele. The lava sea salt definitely added taste and interesting texture to this dish. Thank you Gary for sharing your story with us!

I like the guacamole not completely mushy so I use
a knife to cut into the avocado and mix everything together
Pele-Inspired Guacamole (serves 1-2)


1 large or 2 small avocados, flesh only
1/4 C diced tomato (seeds removed)
1/8 C diced white onion
Juice from half lime or lemon
1 large pinch of coarse sea salt (or according to your taste)
A small pinch of black lava sea salt, garnish


Place avocado flesh, tomato, onion, and juice into a bowl or container. Take a knife (preferably serrated and somewhat flexible) and cut into the avocado to bits. Use the same knife to fold the sides to the center. Add coarse sea salt slowly and mix. Give it a taste and add more salt to adjust according to your taste.

*I saved one of the avocado's skin to hold my guacamole. It makes a great dish!
*Add more or less of the ingredients according to your taste and liking. You can also add chopped cilantro if interested.  
Gary and my husband walking to Gary's home
life can exist in what most
may find to be challenging conditions
Gary's young fruit trees in the foreground and
Gary's home in the distance

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pseudo-Pasteles with Portugese Sausage and Dinosaur Kale (serves 1-2)

I often wake up not knowing what to eat, which is not unusual for me. Most days I have no idea what my next meal will be like. Some days I definitely eat better than others. While shopping at Makawao Farmer's Market on Maui, I came across dinosaur kale and taro. That's right dinosaur kale! These beautiful blue-green-silver color kales are also known as Tuscan kale, black kale, Lacinato kale to name a few. The taro at the market was larger than what I have seen. They are almost the size of a melanga and the farmer told me it was taro.

I have been soaking the cassava pieces in water for 2 days to rid some of the toxins and am ready to cook some of them. I found an old box grater and grated a few of the cassava pieces, taro and green apple banana to make this dish that is inspired by the Puerto Rican pasteles. I opened the refrigerator and almost forgot the precooked Portugese sausage that I purchased at the grocery. I sliced it and added it to the pot. At the last minute I added some greens to the dish to make it somewhat healthy and pretty. From speaking to many Puerto Ricans in the past year many do not make pasteles due to a lengthy prep time. Although I have plenty of banana leaves to wrap these pasteles I came up with a much quicker version of eating my pseudo-pasteles. The result is pretty tasty!  

dinosaur kale
wash well, dry, store in a clean bag
and refrigerate for easy access and use
Pseudo-Pasteles with Portugese Sausage and Dinosaur Kale (serves 1-2)


2 Tbsps canola oil
1/2 C grated cassava
1 C grated melanga or taro
2 grated green apple bananas or 1 regular size banana
3 C water, plus more if needed
One 5-oz precooked sweet Portugese brand sausage (or any sausage you prefer or have), sliced
A pinch of salt (or according to your taste)
4-5 kale tips, thinly sliced


1) Heat a pot over medium high heat.  Once the pot is hot add oil.
2) Once the oil is heated add the grated cassava, melanga or taro and banana.
3) Saute for about 5 minutes.  May skip step 1-3 if you prefer not to use oil.
4) Add 3 cups water to the pot and cook for about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
5) Add the sausage and salt.  Cook for another 10 minutes and turn off heat.
6) Add the kale and mix.

*Before you can eat cassava (also known as yuca) you need to peel and discard all of the hard brown  outer layer. Cut the cassava pieces to the prefer cube or length and soak in water for 2 days, changing new water once per day. This process help remove some of the toxins. Be sure to remove the tough rope-like line found at the center of each cassava either before or after cooking.
*Peel the outer layer of the melanga or taro before using. Some people may have skin itchiness from handling taro. Wear gloves to avoid potential itching or a rash.
*Peel the green bananas and trim the ends before using. You may want to wear gloves for this process since the sap can be tough to remove from your skin.
*You can use the grated cassava, melanga or taro and green banana as a masa or base for many other dishes. You can make it sweet or savory--the ideas are endless. I have made a version of pasteles but steamed it in a glass container. Some people add calabaza (a large winter squash that resemble a pumpkin) to the base.

Addendum:  I remember growing up in Vietnam that my family always soaked the peeled cassava pieces in water in a large bucket for a days prior to cooking them. I now understand the reasoning behind this. If you have an interest in eating cassava root, it is probably best to soak the cassava root at least 3 full days or nights (with a change of water once daily) to get rid of the toxin (cyanide). Poorly prepared root may cause the toxin to remain in the body when ingested.  This can lead an individual to develop konzo, a disease caused by cyanide overdose. A person experiences with konzo may have symptoms categorized in 3 stages from mild to severity:  

1) mild:  he/she is able to walk without support,
2) moderate:  he/she needs one to two sticks to walk,
3) severe:  he/she is unable to walk

*Here is a good article that I found on-line on the neurological disorders from cassava toxicity, from the National Center for Biotechnology Information) NCBI: Konzo:  From Poverty, Cassava, and Cyanogen Intake to Toxico-Nutritional Neurological Disease
cassava tubers and leaves
*Here is more information on cassava from Wikipedia: