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Category Archives: Hawai’i

It looks like I won’t be doing any traveling until my financial situation drastically improves. In the meantime this blog will be based on things I do at home in Hawaii. One of those things is cooking and I’m going to start sharing what I make and how I make it. I apologize for the lack of pictures and will try to start taking some action shots in the future.

Last Saturday I picked up 1/2 a kabocha pumpkin from my favorite vendor at the farmers market, Pit Farm. I’ve made kabocha ravioli in the past and decided to do something other than tossing it in a brown butter sage sauce this time. One of my pantry items at home is Kukui Italian Sausage. While I would prefer to make my own, Kukui is locally made and good enough for me. I use it a lot for all kinds of different stuff and it’s handy to have on hand. I thought that adding sausage to the filling would compliment the pumpkin well.
While at the farmers market, I also picked up some purslane from Otsuji Farm, without knowing what I would do with it. My only encounters with purslane have come in salad form and I decided to see how it would work in a pesto. When I went to Whole Foods to pick up pine nuts, they were sampling a deliciously creamy goat cheese, le picandou, that found its way into the pesto. Meyer lemons are currently going off on Oahu and my roommate obtained a big bag of them from a friend’s tree.
Needless to say, I got my hands on some pretty great ingredients. My only goal was not to mess them up!

Ravioli dough:
00 Flour (around 3 cups)
3 Eggs (local of course)
Kabocha (about 1/2 cup roasted and mashed)
salt (pinch)
extra virgin olive oil (little splash)

For the dough, I mix everything in my Kitchenaid stand mixer. I add more flour or olive oil depending on the consistency of the dough until it is no longer sticky, but not quite falling apart into a bunch of small pieces. Once the desired consistency is reached, I let the machine work the dough for about 10 minutes, wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest for about an hour. I incorporated a little kabocha to get some extra pumpkin-ness and brighten the color of the pasta.

Ravioli filling:
Kabocha (1/2 of a kabocha, but didn’t use all)
Sausage (8oz Kukui Italian Sausage)
Sage (a dozen or so leaves from my garden, finely chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

I covered the squash in olive oil, sprinkled some salt and pepper, and grated fresh nutmeg, then roasted for about 40 minutes at 325. I removed the casings from the sausages and, since they are pre-cooked, diced them up before browning. I browned the sausage in olive oil and added the sage just before they were done. I combined the squash and sausage/sage mixture in a food processor with a little more freshly grated nutmeg and the filling was ready.

Purslane (a few cups maybe? washed and thick stems removed)
Meyer Lemon (juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon)
Goat Cheese (a couple ounces of le picandou)
Pine Nuts (1/3 of a cup-ish, toasted)
Garlic (2-3 cloves)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pesto is really easy. I drop the first 5 ingredients into the food processor, then gradually add olive oil until it reaches my desired consistency.

The outcome: It came out really well. The flavors were great and complimented one another nicely. My dining companion has lactose issues, so I took it easy on her and didn’t add any cheese to the filling. As a result, the ravioli filling was a little dry. If I make it again, I will put some of the goat cheese in the filling. The meyer lemon was REALLY juicy and I could have used a little less juice than I did. It was a little tart, but nothing overboard and it lightened up the pesto in a nice way. Overall, I was very happy with the dish and would make it again.

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a cheese making workshop with my local Slow Food chapter at Naked Cow Dairy in Waianae on Oahu’s leeward side. Two sisters, Monique and Sabrina, own and operate Oahu’s only dairy, where they produce buttermilk, yogurt, butter, and cheese. The only cheese the ladies have been taking to market has been (cow milk) feta. This workshop was meant to test a variety of other cheeses and see how they fare with Naked Cow’s milk and our climate. We made camembert style, gouda style, ricotta, crescenza, and yogurt cheese.
I had never made cheese before and jumped at the opportunity to take part in the workshop. Making the cheese itself was a lot of fun, but involved quite a bit of waiting. The ricotta and yogurt cheese were ready for immediate consumption and came out very well. We are a couple months away from sampling the gouda and camembert style and I’m really looking forward to tasting the fruits of our labor. For now, the cheese is being aged in a modified wine fridge, but the ladies are working on making a commercial scale aging chamber in the near future. Producing added value products like cheese, will help Naked Cow become profitable and grow.
We had a delicious lunch that included great local produce as well as some treats that our Slow Food leader, Gida brought back from France. The dairy is set in a beautiful part of the island and we were there for another spectacular Hawaiian sunset. I could not have asked for a nicer location, more welcoming hosts, better company, or a more perfect first experience cheesing it up. Naked Cow is now taking part in agritourism and it is definitely worth a visit to come and experience Oahu’s only dairy.

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I had been a very inactive member of my university system’s Slow Food Chapter, Slow Food KCC (Kapiolani Community College), but things changed when I received an email about a Maui trip. Maui is my favorite island in the Hawaiian archipelago and there was no way I could pass on a club subsidized ag-tour. Our wonderful president, Gida and culinary student/amazing person Wendy did all of the work setting up this great trip. Thanks ladies! Wendy has an auntie with a beautiful house/protea farm in Kula that she was kind enough to let us stay at for the weekend.
We arrived in Lehue at about 9 am and our first stop was Roselani Tropics Ice Cream. It’s a family owned and operated ice cream maker/Coca Cola bottler and we received a tour and got to sample some of the product. Sweets aren’t really my thing and I don’t touch soda unless there’s booze in it, but it’s always good to see a local business hanging in there.
Our next stop was Ulupalakua Ranch, a part of Maui Cattle Company. The story of the ranch was as beautiful as the views. Ranching has a long history in Kula and the current owners of Ulupalakua have written one of the best chapters. Thousands of acres have been protected from development, native plants have been reintroduced, electric prods and whips are not used, rotational grazing was implemented, and alternative energy is used to power the facility. There is also a winery on the premises, which we got to tour and sample. This was the first time in my life that I couldn’t finish pours at a tasting. The stuff was horrible. We had lunch at the restaurant and, unlike the wine, it was very good.
From the ranch, we proceeded on to Shim Farm. Casey Shim looks like he is about 106 years old and does all of the work on the farm himself. He is a retired school principal, Army officer, and a really happy guy. He refers to his home/farm as “utopia” and I believe him. He produces coffee and flowers, has 2 horses and grows a variety of fruits. I really enjoyed our short time at his little farm and didn’t want to leave.
For dinner, we returned to Wendy’s aunt’s house and cooked together. Being the only non-pro/pro-in-training, I relegated myself to salad duty and let the experts do their thing. Dinner was delicious. The steak prepared by our special guest, chef at the Honolulu Convention Center and great guy, Jacob Silver was a real treat.
The next morning we went to the Maui Community College Swap Meet/Farmers’ Market. It was geared primarily towards tourists and a lot of the “farmers” were selling produce that came from the continent.
Next, we went to Maui’s hippy enclave, Paia and had pizza for lunch at Maui Flatbread Company. I had eaten there on a previous trip to Maui and, once again, it was good. We had a brief stop at the fledgling Maui Olive Company. A family has taken advantage of upcountry’s unique climate and started an olive orchard. The trees are only one year old and will not produce fruit suitable for making oil for another 2 years, but it looks very promising.
Our next stop was another one of Wendy’s auntie’s houses, Upcountry Farm Specialties. Wendy’s auntie and her husband, a retired Swiss chef, own and operate UFS. They were a very intelligent, happy, and welcoming couple. It was evident that there was a woman’s touch here. Casey Shim’s utopia seemed like the creation of lone man with ADD compared to this well organized, meticulously maintained operation. Don’t get me wrong, I liked both very much, but they were different. UFS grows coffee, christmas trees and a variety of exotic fruits and vegetables. The unique microclimate of upcountry Maui enables them to grow nearly everything imaginable. There was a peach tree growing next to a pineapple plant and, during the winter, they can actually grow brussels sprouts in Hawai’i!
After we tasted a variety of jams and spreads at UFS, we went to Surfing Goat Dairy. Surfing Goat seemed very commercial after our previous trips to small operations, but was still enjoyable. We got to tour the facilities, milk goats, and sample cheese.
We went ‘home’ and caught a beautiful sunset before the hour long drive to Star Noodle for our splurge meal of the trip. Star Noodle is the hottest new restaurant on the garden isle and we were all looking forward to it. The chef has weekends off and wasn’t there for our meal. I’m hoping this is the reason why things were not cooked properly and that our experience was an exception. The menu comes from all over Asia and looks extremely promising. The problem with our meal is that things simply weren’t cooked properly and that is what matters in the end. The service was great and we got to tour the kitchen, but the meal itself was a disappointment.
Wendy’s Auntie’s house is located just 30 minutes from Hale’akala, and I couldn’t be that close and not watch the sunrise. Only one of my traveling companions was willing to wake up at 4 am to make it to the summit in time for the birth of a new day. Charles and I went up and witnessed a beautiful sunrise, then enjoyed the scenic drive back to the house. It was Easter Sunday and everyone worked together to produce a delicious easter brunch.
After brunch we went to Alii Kula Lavender and got to walk around their lavender farms. It wasn’t really my thing, but the grounds were pretty. From there, we went to Haiku Maui Orchids to check out a self sustaining tilapia pond and orchard farm. Flowers aren’t really my thing, but there were some pretty cool/exotic ones.
The ‘happy ending’ to our trip was Maui Brewing Company. Our gracious host came to give us a tour/tasting on Easter Sunday and it was really enjoyable. As much as I love Kona Brewing Company, MBC is the REAL local brewery in Hawai’i. I was fortunate enough to sit next to a non-drinker for the sampling portion and managed to get a very solid buzz on. We went to MBC’s nearby restaurant for our last supper and had more delicious beer with a good meal.
This was an amazing three days and, by the end of the trip, all of us were seriously considered moving to Kula. Each place we visited offers similar tours and I highly recommend checking at least some of them out when in Maui.

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