Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Leftover Stuffing Frittata

Leftover Stuffing Frittata

After our Christmas Eve seven-fish feast (more on that to come) and a big Christmas Dinner (Turkey - since we had fish for Thanksgiving), we wanted something simple last night.

We had some Turkey liver left over, which we chopped up and fried in some butter. Then we added some leftover stuffing from our Christmas turkey. Add some beaten eggs and parsley on top and voila - stuffing frittata.

Leftover Stuffing Frittata

Quick, easy and very tasty.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fish Express in Lihue, Kauai and a Hawaiian Thanksgiving

Fish Express in Lihue, Kauai

During our excursion to the Kapaa Farmers' Market, we stopped in at Fish Express in Lihue. The goal was to pick up some poke, as well as to get some fish to cook up for Thanksgiving dinner.

Fish Express in Lihue, Kauai

We ended up getting their Inamona Poke and their Spicy Ahi Poke.

Inamona Poke (sometimes called "Hawaiian" Poke) is named after the kukui (candlenut) paste that is used in it.The purple stringy bits are Limu, which is the Hawaiian word for seaweed or algae.

Inamona Poke from Fish Express

The seasoning was fairly subdued, but the texture of the fish was nice and we enjoyed the contrasting, fresh crunch of the Limu.

The Spicy Ahi Poke wasn't very spicy, but it did have good flavor to it

Spicy Ahi Poke from Fish Express

I liked both of these pokes more than the one we got at Koloa Fish Market - primarily from a texture perspective.

We also picked up some smoked marlin:

Smoked Marlin from Fish Express

It was tasty, but had a bit too much of the sweet teriyaki flavor for me.

Lastly, we picked up a beautiful piece of Opah (Moonfish) as the centerpiece for our Thanksgiving dinner:

Opah from Fish Express

Given our bounty of local fresh fruit, we made several fruit salsas to go with the fish, and a definitively non-local cranberry sauce for a holiday addition.

Continuing the Thanksgiving feel, we also made up a batch of our traditional bread stuffing (ok, technically 'dressing' since it wasn't stuffed in anything, but it had the right flavors of sage and thyme).

Hawaiian Thanksgiving

The fish tasted so good all by itself that the fruit wasn't really needed.

Rich and completely savory, the Opah was a great stand-in for Thanksgiving turkey.

Fish Express
3343 Kuhio Hwy
Lihue, Hawaii

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kapaa Farmers' Market in Kapaa, Kauai

Kapaa Farmers Market on Kauai

We always like to check out farmers' markets when we travel. It makes for a fun outing, gives you insight into the local produce and as a bonus you come away with good stuff to eat.

Saucisson MAC told us that his favorite market on Kauai is the Wednesday afternoon market in Kapaa. We trust Saucisson MAC, so Kapaa it was. We were not disappointed.

Kapaa Farmers Market on Kauai

It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and the market was bustling. The produce was plentiful and a completely different selection than we get in San Diego.

Not surprisingly, fruit was king. Pineapples, bananas (the Hawaiian apple bananas are so good), papayas, mangos...

Kapaa Farmers Market on Kauai

We were happy to find that, like our own local market, it was all produce vendors and not overrun with prepared food stands (the closest thing were hacked open coconuts with a straw).

Kapaa Farmers Market on Kauai

We left with a respectable haul:

Kapaa Farmers Market on Kauai

Most of the above should be pretty recognizable, except maybe for the little guys up front.

While wandering through the market, I saw a stand selling "longans". I had no idea what a longan was. When I inquired, they gave me a couple to taste, and I immediately purchased a bag.

Kapaa Farmers Market on Kauai

Longans are a lot like a lychee:

Longans from Kapaa Farmers Market

When you apply pressure and twist, the outside skin pops open, revealing the fruit - a white globe with a seed in the middle. They taste heavenly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Seafood Paella

We've always had a tradition of seafood on Christmas Eve. It started with Sherry's family tradition of oyster stew. That evolved into more of a chowder which then became a multi-fish stew. When we learned of the Italian tradition of La Vigilia (the Feast of the Seven Fishes), we decided that it was right up our alley.

Since 2007, we've been doing an annual Christmas Eve "Seven" fish feast. We don't worry about the exact number of dishes or fishes, and we don't limit ourselves to Italian dishes. We just use the holiday as an inspiration to create a multi-course meal centered around fish and shellfish.

Here are the Seven Fish Feasts we've done in previous years, in reverse chronological order:

Feast of the Seven FishesFeast of the Seven Fishes 2012 - Mexican Inspired

Bay Scallop Ceviche. Camarones a la Plancha. Bahia Falsa Oysters. Venus Clams and Carlsbad Mussels a la Mexicana. Tortitas de Cameron Seco. Cabrilla and Baqueta Grouper.
Feast of the Seven FishesFeast of the Seven Fishes 2011

Bay Scallop and Tomato Gratin. Egg, Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes. Sculpin Jun. Smoked Salmon Dip. Oysters. Swordfish with Romanesco and Romesco. Fish Stew with Onions and Saffron.
Feast of the Seven FishesFeast of the Seven Fishes, Locavore Edition

Halibut Clementine Ceviche. Rock Cod and Potato Ravioli with Marjoram Tomato Sauce. Smoked Fish Duo. Pacific Oysters. Shrimp al Mojo de Ajo. Sculpin with Roasted Golden Beets and Beet Greens.
Feast of the Seven FishesFeast of the Seven Fishes 2009

Oysters with Chile de Arbol and Cilantro. Niçoise Tuna Skewers. Seared Scallops with Spicy Lentils. Seafood Paella.
Feast of the Seven FishesSeven Fishes Southeast Asian Style
Oysters with Vietnamese Ginger-Chili Mignonette. Cured Salmon Four Ways. Thai Steamed Mussels. Vietnamese Salad with Smoked Trout and Bitter Greens. Ginger Fish. Squid in Caramel Sauce. Napa Cabbage Soup with Shrimp Dumplings.
Feast of the Seven FishesOur first seven-fish feast

Oysters with a Thai mignonette. Spicy fish and lentil croquettes. Sardines on toast. Yucatecan squid salad. Fish and shellfish stew.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Koloa Fish Market in Koloa, Kauai

Koloa Fish Market in Koloa, Kauai

Our first lunch on Kauai was at Koloa Fish Market. Located near the end of the little downtown strip in Koloa, this tiny shop serves up plate lunches and poke. They have no seating - just a wee bit of space in front of their counter where you can order your food to go.

Poke at Koloa Fish Market

Their two standard plate lunches are Lau Lau and Kalua Pork. We got one of each.

Lau Lau at Koloa Fish Market

Lau Lau is pork wrapped in taro leaf, and then wrapped again in ti leaf. The pork was lightly seasoned, with most of the flavoring coming from the taro leaf. Subtle, but tasty.

Lau Lau at Koloa Fish Market

The Kalua Pork was less photogenic, but super flavorful with a nice balance of salt and sweet.

Kalua Pork at Koloa Fish Market

Both plate lunches came with rice, Lomi Salmon, Ahi Poke and some sort of transparent noodles.

The poke was our first in Hawaii. It was good, but ended up being the weakest we had on our trip. Still, it made for a nice little side for the plate lunch.

Ahi Poke and Lomi Salmon at Koloa Fish Market

Lomi Salmon (which you can see underneath the cup of poke) is kind of like a salmon salsa. I find it slightly strange that it is a Hawaiian standard, since salmon isn't a local fish and tomatoes (good ones, at least) are pretty hard to come by. It was good, though.

One of our friends got the Poke Bento - poke on top of rice with a creamy wasabi sauce. We didn't try it, but he enjoyed it.

Poke Bento at Koloa Fish Market

We also got some of their Tako (Japanese for octopus) Poke:

Tako Poke at Koloa Fish Market

The flavor was nice, but I found it overly tough and chewy. The other Tako Poke we tried later in our trip (at Ono Seafood in Honolulu) suffered from the same problem - maybe this is just how it is supposed to be?

Koloa Fish Market is a great place to grab lunch if you are in the area. Solid portions of good food at reasonable prices (particularly for Kauai).

Koloa Fish Market
5482 Koloa Rd
Koloa, Hawaii

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lazy Days on Kauai

Lazy Man's Mai Tai

We just got back from two wonderful weeks of relaxing, swimming, eating, and yes, a wee bit of drinking in Hawaii.

The first week was spent with friends, renting a house a block from the water in Poipu, Kauai. They picked us up from the airport, already provisioned with the key ingredients (pictured above) needed for our stay. A short while later, we each happily enjoying a "Lazy Man's Mai Tai" on our patio overlooking the ocean.

This blend of rum and the ubiquitous local mixture of passionfruit, orange and guava admittedly doesn't have much in common with a real Mai Tai other than rum and fruit. It is tasty, though and really easy to make. I suppose you could make it more Mai Tai-ish with a pour-over of dark rum. We didn't. We were being lazy.

Also making an appearance was Maui Brewing Company's Big Swell IPA:

Maui Brewing Big Swell IPA

While the beer from the other Hawaiian breweries is pretty mediocre, Maui Brewing actually puts out some pretty decent stuff.

Kauai Sunset

Their IPA made a nice beverage for sunset.

Kauai Sunset

In addition to our diet of lazy libations, we did also manage to do a bit of eating during our stay on Kauai. More on that soon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Homemade Coppa / Capicola

Homemade Coppa

It goes by a number of names - Coppa, Capicola, Capocollo... Whatever you call it, it might just be my favorite cured meat. We first had this tasty cured pork treat from Boccalone Salumeria in San Francisco, and have been big fans ever since.

Given our love of Coppa, I am overjoyed that we have now been able to successfully make it ourselves. Seeing the entire process whereby a humble piece of pork shoulder is transformed into a beautiful piece of cured meat was a very satisfying experience.

Homemade Coppa

As I mentioned above, coppa is made from pork shoulder. More specifically - and where the name comes from - it uses the coppa muscle of the shoulder.

Here is the shoulder that we started with:

Homemade Coppa

The coppa muscle is on the left, on the side of the shoulder away from the bone. Here you can see it after it has been removed from the rest of the shoulder:

Homemade Coppa

The first step is a dry brining process - much like you would do for pancetta or homemade bacon. The dry brine is a simple mixture of kosher salt, cracked white peppercorns and curing salt #2:

Homemade Coppa

which gets rubbed onto the coppa:

Homemade Coppa

Then it gets wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for about two weeks, or until the meat feels a bit more firm (this one took 16 days). The dry-brine is then rinsed off:

Homemade Coppa

After drying at room temperature a couple hours, the surface is evenly coated with a mild blend of ground chile: Piment d'Espelette, sweet Hungarian paprika and a little cayenne.

Homemade Coppa

Then the meat is ready to hang. We encased ours #10 elastic netting from Butcher&Packer. This helps keep its shape and makes hanging easier.

Homemade Coppa

Nicely trussed up, it went into our curing chamber / beer fridge set at 52-55 degrees fahrenheit.

Homemade Coppa

The biggest challenge was keeping the humidity where it needed to be.

We used a Sunpentown Mini-Humidifier (the white plastic doo-dad in the upper right), which was helpful, but not problem-free. It would probably work well in a large space, but even at the lowest setting it put the humidity at 90%. It would also run out of water very quickly at which point the humidity dropped to less than 50%.

We solved the problem by plugging the unit into an appliance timer and setting it to turn off and on every 15 minutes.This way we were able to start at about 80% humidity for the first couple weeks, then slowly drop it down to 65-70% over the remainder of the curing period.

After 7 weeks, the coppa had dropped from a starting weight of 2 pounds, 13 ounces to a final weight of just over two pounds - a loss of just under 30%.

Homemade Coppa

It wasn't quite ready yet, though. We put it back in the fridge for another two weeks (patience is a necessary virtue in meat curing!) to let the moisture content even out.

Then, finally, it was time! From the outside it was hard to tell how we had done, but once we cut into it we knew we had something special on our hands:

Homemade Coppa

Ruby red meat. Clean, white fat. And it tastes as good as it looks. Incredible aroma and depth of flavor.

Thinly sliced using our EdgeCraft Food Slicer, it makes a great snack on crackers or a slice of bread.

Homemade Coppa

We'll pull together our notes and write up a detailed recipe soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

This past weekend, the folks at the Baja California Secretary of Tourism were nice enough to whisk us down to San Felipe for the annual Shrimp Festival. Accompanying us on this adventure were fellow bloggers from 52 Perfect Days, Cuvee Corner and My Burning Kitchen.

San Felipe is a small fishing town about two hours drive south of the US/Mexico border. To get there, we crossed over from San Diego into Tijuana and drove east past Tecate, over the Rumorosa mountain pass into Mexicali, and down to San Felipe. If we were doing the drive ourselves, we would probably go out on Interstate 8 to El Centro and cross at the Calexico/Mexicali border. The distance is about the same either way, but I8 has the distinct advantage of having Alpine Beer Company on the way...

Speaking of beer, we were relaxing with one and enjoying the warm, sunny afternoon within minutes of our arrival:

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

The festival was set up along the Malecón - San Felipe's coastal boardwalk - with a stage in the center, and vendors stretching out both sides.

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

The first evening, we were invited to a six course dinner at the Hacienda Coral Restaurant, the highlights of which were a clam ceviche tlacoyo and a stingray cake in a black bean sauce. Unfortunately the lighting was too low to get good pictures of the food.

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

The next day we headed a few miles south of town to the "Valley of the Giants" - so named for its giant cacti.

And giant they were:

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

The huge Cardón cacti are relatives of the Saguaro. In 1992, one was airlifted to Seville, Spain to represent Mexico at the World's Fair.

We also stopped in at the marina:

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

Most of the larger shrimp boats were out fishing, but some smaller day boats were unloading their nets, and there was no shortage of fresh shrimp for sale.

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

Both lunches we had in San Felipe consisted of communal seafood "Parrilladas" - an assortment of grilled fish and shellfish. This one, at Mariscos La Vaquita, was particularly nice - shrimp, clams, several kinds of fish (one stuffed with squid), and their version of tacos gobernadores.

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

Overall, it was a great weekend. Getting across the border made it seem like much more of a getaway than you would normally get from just a few days.

San Felipe Shrimp Festival

We will definitely be back to San Felipe.