Life in These Hawaiian Islands

Trade Winds, Tsunamis, and the Coconut Wireless

Leave a comment

Filipino Cuisine: Agar-Agar Fruit Cocktail Dessert

FILIPINO CUISINE: AGAR-AGAR FRUIT COCKTAIL DESSERT      Rate ThisFor dessert, Linda made a Agar-Agar Fruit Cocktail Dessert.  Most of the ingredients are ready for use in a jar or can except the Agar-Agar which has to be prepared.The Agar-Agar Fruit Cocktail Dessert is quick and easy to make as most of the ingredients can be stocked in the pantry. This dessert is versatile as you can used various can fruits of your preference.Ingredients2 tablespoons agar-agar powder1/2 cup granulated sugar4 cups water1 cup 2% milk1 teaspoon flavoring extract like almond, coconut, lychee etc1 jar (12 ounce) young coconut string, drained1 large can (796ml) fruit cocktail, drained1 small can (6 ounce) of thick creamSource: LindaPrep time: 30 minutes;  Serves 8 to 10InstructionsCombine sugar, agar-agar powder, flavoring extract, milk and water in a medium sauce pan. You may used the liquid from the fruit cocktail (as part of the water) to sweeten the agar-agar and reduce the sugar from this recipe.Cook on medium heat with constant stirring until it comes to a boil.Pour the slightly thicken agar-agar mixture into a baking pan and let it cool in a cold water bath. The agar-agar will solidify when it cools.Linda demonstrated to us a cool trick to cut up the agar-agar. She uses a lemon zester to scrape the agar-agar into long strips that resemble noodles or young coconut strings.If you dont have young coconut strings in your pantry, you can flavored the agar-agar with coconut extract and it will look and taste like young coconut strings.Combine the drained fruit cocktail, young coconut strings and agar-agar in a large bowl.Add a can of thick cream.Mix well and chill before serving.Linda, thank you so much for sharing your Filipino heritage with us.

via Filipino Cuisine: Agar-Agar Fruit Cocktail Dessert.


Leave a comment

Best Bakeries in America

Best bakeries in America

The Daily Meal

By Lauren Gordon

Published December 16, 201

  • Tartine Bakery / Postcard PR

Since prehistoric times, humans have been perfecting the art of breadmaking. The earliest flatbreads may date from up to 30,000 years ago, when our ancestors ground the roots of plants and possibly mixed the pulp with water and cooked it on hot rocks. Throughout the ages, the style, density, and taste of baked goods has dramatically changed.

We’ve come a long way from grain gruel, and it’s been a journey that has taken us from unleavened bread to hybrid baked innovations that folks living in the Middle Ages would not have been able to comprehend. We’ve come so far that we now have specialized subtypes of bakeries, and we know the difference between a pâtisserie (which makes pastries) and a boulangerie (which bakes bread). There specialized bakeries for everything, from the those that are devoted to the fine and delicate art of making French macarons to standalone cupcakeries and wedding cake experts. According to a report by Sundale Research, the U.S. now has nearly 6,700 independent bakeries serving Americans daily. This number has greatly decreased in recent years (the report stated that in 1993 there were 21,000 bakeries in the U.S.), most likely due to the rise of health-consciousness and the proliferation of bakery and baked-goods-selling coffee chains, but 6,700 is still a lot, and we’ve picked 75 of them that we feel are still doing stellar work — the best of the bunch.

In a country with so many bakeries, you’ll see wide variation in style and ambition, but with the common mission of bringing flaky, moist, often sugary goodness to their customers, they can be ranked against each other. We narrowed those 6,700 bakeries down to 200, based on a combination of factors including bakeries that have made it to the top of our previous lists as well as those recognized nationally by other publications, and pitted them against each other in a survey that we sent out to our expert panel. Participants were asked to rank what they thought were the top bakeries by region and indicate which items they felt each bakery was best known for (pies, cakes, breads, etc.). We then took the list and put it under The Daily Meal editorial team’s scrutiny. Were they only specialists in a certain category of pastry? If so, were they so good in that category that they were still worth putting on the list.

After hours of deliberation and help from our panelists, we ended up expanding our 50 Best Bakeries in America list with 25 additions that offer bakery aficionados a wide selection of delicious variables to consider. A large portion of the total list hails from the New York area, which panelists had the most input on, as many of our panelists knew the city well and were able to confidently rank those establishments. We’ve also got a hefty number of bakeries from other major cities like Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia, as well, and a few quaint mom-and-pop bakeries that make a visit to their small town worth the trip.

Take a tour around the country with us to find out where you can get the best cannoli, pies, breads, cupcakes, and so much more by clicking through our delicious slideshow!

  • 1. Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

    Tartine Bakery / Postcard PR

    Tartine, which means “buttered bread” in French, returns as this year’s top bakery. The bakery, opened by James Beard Award-winning chefs Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson in 2002, excels at both breads and pastries. While their breads in a variety of flavors and styles are most notable, it is important to remember the more delicate pastries on the menu, like their Mexican wedding cookies and pain au jambon, a smoked ham and Gruyère pastry.

  • 2. Momofuku Milk Bar, New York City

    Momofuku Milk Bar

    Since the bakery opened in 2008, chef and owner Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar has been creating modern, unique takes on home-style sweets. The Milk Bar’s Crack Pie, a buttery pie that’s basically as addictive as its name implies, is one of the most sought-after desserts at this bakery. They also offer savory pastries like the volcano, loaded with potato gratin, caramelized onions, pancetta, Benton’s bacon, and Gruyère.

  • 3. François Payard Bakery, New York City

    Francois Payard Bakery

    With three François Payard Bakery locations throughout New York City, New Yorkers know this is the place to go when they’re craving a delicate and perfected French macaron. Patrons can also enjoy goods from a robust selection of organic artisanal breads that range in flavor from pretzel morissette to chocolate bread.

  • 4. Flour Bakery + Café, Boston

    Flour Bakery + Cafe

    Flour Bakery’s “eat dessert first” motto is hard to disagree with when it comes to their freshly baked pastries, cookies, tarts, and more. Owner and pastry chef Joanne Chang has been bringing America’s sweet comfort foods to the next level since 2000. Start your morning with a cinnamon cream brioche, topped with crème fraîche and cinnamon sugar, or an old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake, rich with brown sugar-pecan-cinnamon swirl. If you’re just in the mood for a sweet nibble, try a customer favorite: the Chunky Lola cookie, made with oats, chocolate, coconut, and toasted pecans.

  • 5. Bouchon Bakery, Various Locations

    Bouchon Bakery

    Chef and owner Thomas Keller was inspired by Parisian boulangeries, and decided to open Bouchon Bakery next to Yountville, Calif.’s Bouchon Bistro. Now, there are also locations in Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, and New York City, where you’ll find the works: macarons in vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, caramel, and seasonal flavors, breads, cookies, and other seasonal sweets.

  • 6. Amy’s Bread, New York City

    Amy’s Bread

    Amy’s Bread, which first opened in 1992 in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, has two other locations, in Chelsea Market and Greenwich Village. The bakery delivers handcrafted breads that are made through slow fermentation and traditional baking methods. Don’t let the name fool you: this bakery is good for more than just bread. Amy’s Bread Café offers an array of morning pastries, tasty muffins, and old fashioned layered cakes!

  • 7. Balthazar Bakery, New York City

    Balthazar Bakery

    Balthazar Bakery, located on Soho’s Spring Street, is small but packed with breads and pastries. The shelves are stocked with baguettes, pain au levain, cranberry raisin pecan breads, and more. On the sweeter side, the bakery also has croissants, pain au chocolat, coconut cake, and cinnamon sugar doughnuts, among many other offerings.

  • 8. Sullivan Street Bakery, New York City

    Facebook / SullivanStreetBakery

    Before learning how to bake bread in Italy, Jim Lahey (who also founded the pizza shop Co.) studied sculpture, but we suppose that artistry skill just lends itself to the bread baking business. His revolutionary no-knead style sparked the interest of bread bakers everywhere after Mark Bittman wrote about him in the New York Times in 2006. Sullivan Street Bakery offers pane pugliese, brioche loaf, semi di sesame, and many more other varieties of delicious breads.

  • 9. Maison Kayser New York City

    Facebook / Maison Kayser

    French chef Eric Kayser opened Maison Kayser in Paris in 1996, and he now has more than 100 bakeries around the world in 13 countries, with all the U.S. locations currently located in New York City. Their pastries alone are worth a visit, especially their pistachio financiers, cookies, and chocolate almond croissant; that said, the sourdough bread is also out of this world. An excellent bakery needs “excellent products… produced by selecting the best ingredients, which are transformed by bakers and pastry chefs who have a strong know-how,” Kayser tells us, and we think Maison Kayser certainly meets the standards.

  • 10. Levain Bakery, New York City and Wainscott, N.Y.

    Levain Bakery

    Levain Bakery’s moist, decadent cookies are reason enough to get out of bed in the morning. With basic flavors like oatmeal raisin and dark peanut butter chip, these classic treats attract locals and tourists alike to the bakery’s two locations in Manhattan and one in the Hamptons. Other baked-in-house cookies include chocolate chip brioche and rustic fruit tarts, and there is a selection of French-style breads, including baguettes and country boules.

Leave a comment

7 Ways to Eat (& Drink!) Turmeric

7 Ways to Eat (& Drink!) Turmeric

Pin it button big

Do you have a jar of turmeric languishing in your spice cupboard? Or perhaps you’re looking for ways to add it to your diet in response to all the recent studies indicating its health-promoting and disease-preventing properties. Turmeric has long been a staple in Indian curries as well as in foods like mustard (it provides that golden yellow color!), but there are lots of other ways to eat and drink this spice. Here are seven easy ideas.

  • 1. Add it to scrambles and frittatas. Use a pinch of turmeric in scrambled eggs, a frittata, or tofu scramble. If you or your family are new to turmeric, this is a great place to start because the color is familiar and the flavor subtle.
  • 2. Toss it with roasted vegetables. Turmeric’s slightly warm and peppery flavor works especially well with cauliflower, potatoes, and root vegetables.
  • 3. Add it to rice. A dash of turmeric brings color and mild flavor to a pot of plain rice or a fancier pilaf.

→ Recipe: Fragrant Yellow Rice

  • 4. Try it with greens. Sprinkle turmeric into sautéed or braised greens like kale, collards, and cabbage.
  • 5. Use it in soups. A bowl of vegetable or chicken soup feels even more warming when it’s tinged with golden turmeric.
  • 6. Blend it into a smoothie. While fresh turmeric root is especially great in juices and smoothies, a pinch of ground spice is good, too. The slightly pungent flavor is usually well masked in smoothies.

→ Recipe: Superpower Morning Smoothie (the recipe doesn’t call for turmeric but you can definitely add it!)

  • 7. Make tea. Simmer turmeric with milk and honey to make an earthy and comforting beverage.

→ Recipe: Turmeric-Ginger Tea

→ An additional tip: If you’re looking to get the health benefits of turmeric, pair it with pepper. Herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt tells us, “To get the most out of your turmeric add 3% black pepper to the mix. Black pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making smaller doses more effective.” This works out to about 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper to 1/4 cup of turmeric. To make it easy, I simply premix pepper into my jar of turmeric.

(Image credits: MSPhotographic/Shutterstock)

Leave a comment

The Alchemy of Food in Hawaii: How Food Transformed Strangers into a Community


Old days, new ways

Historian Arnold Hiura’s new book traces Hawaii’s food trends from plantation fare to modern meals

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 15, 2014

Derek Kurisu, left, partnered with food historian Arnold Hiura in “From Kau Kau to Cuisine.” The men, friends from small-kid time on the Big Island, visited the plantation town of Hakalau where Kurisu was raised.

Food as a social phenomenon has always been front and center in Hawaii. More than just breaking bread together, sharing food for local folks means sharing something of oneself and receiving the same from others.

No doubt the food craze that extends well beyond Hawaii shores adds another layer of interest, with its myriad new ways to experience eating. But for food historian Arnold Hiura, there’s something disconcerting about the manner in which people are participating in this new wave of interest in food.

“I go online and I’m amazed at the volume of blogs — and at how critical they are. That’s not the spirit of food. At its very basic, food is sustenance,” he said.

Hiura spent the past year researching food trends for his latest book, “From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now” (Watermark Publishing, $29.95), which illustrates some of the ties between Hawaii’s basic fare, rooted in our plantation history, and the contemporary cuisine created by Hawaii’s professional chefs. It will be in stores by the end of January, though pre-orders are being taken now at

“When you see how food is changing, it’s an exciting, interesting time. There’s food trucks, pop-up restaurants, social media where everyone takes pictures of their food. There’s vegetarian food, organic, gluten-free and on and on and on,” Hiura said. “I thought this was a good time to look at tradition, what’s happening now and where we’re going. We could maybe draw some lessons or at least make observations.”

Hiura has a wide breadth of knowledge on the topic. The book is a sequel to his award-winning “Kau Kau: Cuisine & Culture in the Hawaiian Islands,” which was released in 2009. Hiura calls “Kau Kau” a “historical overview of what we eat and why we eat like we eat in Hawaii.”

The sharing of sustenance was one way plantation workers forged a local lifestyle, he said. They packed their meals in a “kau-kau tin” (lunchbox) of multiple tiers. One tier was filled with rice, the other, “okazu,” a main dish such as adobo or chicken hekka.

“Everyone put their okazu in a circle and shared what they brought. This is a great exercise for us in learning to share whatever we have and to eat what someone else offers,” Hiura said. “You don’t want to hurt another’s feelings. You don’t want to be picky. It’s an emphasizing of commonality instead of differences.”

The seeds of the latest project came after Hiura worked on chef Alan Wong’s “The Blue Tomato” in 2010, which gave him insight into the contemporary Hawaii food scene.

“From Kau Kau to Cuisine” examines the wide swath of local history through Hiura’s narrative and the work — and recipes — of two men, Jason Takemura and Derek Kurisu. Takemura provides contemporary dishes rooted in classic local dishes, while Kurisu offers a lineup of traditional plantation foods.

Takemura, 36, executive chef at both Pagoda Floating Restaurant and Hukilau Honolulu, has spent his career using the inspiration of the past to fuel new ideas for his menus. At the Pagoda, the chef is currently beefing up the menu.

“It’s been such a local place, but nothing there was local — even produce and fish were frozen from the mainland. The first thing I changed was to serve ‘Nalo Greens, fresh local fish and Big Island beef,” he said.

Takemura enjoyed cooking from an early age, when as a youngster in Aiea he played Nintendo against his brother.

“Loser cooked, whether it was saimin or pizza from English muffins,” he said. “I found I liked cooking. I’d add furikake and egg to the saimin. And then even when I won, I’d still go cook.”

In college, Takemura lived in Kaimuki with his grandparents, who prepared plantation food and told him about plantation life. Later, away at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore., and homesick, he turned to some of those dishes for comfort.

It was the beginning of his exploration of local ingredients and flavors. Takemura built his career in California, in the kitchens of such restaurants as Roy’s in Pebble Beach. In 2003 he returned to Hawaii to work at Chai’s Island Bistro. He took the helm at Hukilau Honolulu in 2007 and joined Pagoda in 2011.

Kurisu, 63, is executive vice president at KTA Superstores on the Big Island. His expertise in cooking began when he was a child of “about 10.” His father worked on a Big Island plantation, and when his mother took a job, young Kurisu decided he would take on cooking duties. There was a formidable learning curve, he recalls.

“In the old plantation days, there were no recipes. Everything was ‘oyoso,’ approximations. I struggled but you watch and learn. I liked to eat, so I knew what something should taste like,” he said.

What governed the cooking of the era, and still guides Kurisu, is economy. Plantation dishes employ the basic supplies in a typical local pantry — soy sauce, salt, sugar, vinegar, miso, garlic and ginger — along with whatever’s in the fridge, including leftovers.

“You utilize what’s available and you never throw away anything,” he said.

Today Kurisu regularly visits Big Island senior centers to demonstrate easy recipes. His motivation is the memory of his father asking him why he was doing “a wahine’s job” when he cooked for his mother.

“I remember that macho mentality, and some of our customers have wives who are sick or have passed away. I gotta get these men to know how to cook, or at least to use a microwave and cook rice,” he said.

On the other end of the spectrum, he encourages youths to learn about plantation cooking from their elders.

Hiura himself has a few words of advice for young foodies, based on the inclusiveness plantation workers cultivated.

“The key is to embrace it all,” he said. “Don’t turn your nose up at anything. Don’t exclude people. It’s all good. There’s a place for everyone.”

Home recipes get upscale treatment

In “From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now,” recipes are presented in pairs, a traditional recipe from Derek Kurisu followed by a contemporary one by Jason Takemura. Many of Takemura’s recipes are from his menu at Pagoda Floating Restaurant.

Besides bearing the distinction of home cooking and restaurant-caliber dishes, the recipes reflect changes in the food scene over the eras. Kurisu’s kabocha and ebi (dried shrimp), for instance, calls for an entire pumpkin flavored by a small amount of shrimp. The dish was practical and economical because most folks grew their own vegetables. In contrast, Takemura’s Roasted Kabocha Risotto “makes the kabocha the star of the dish,” he said, because vegetables today often cost more than meat.


1 medium kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)

3 teaspoons vegetable oil

10 pieces dried ebi (shrimp)

2 cups water

2 tablespoons shoyu

2 tablespoons sugar

2 aburage (deep-fried tofu, optional)

6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced (optional)


Remove skin, seeds and stringy bits from kabocha and cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes.

In deep saucepan, heat oil and brown kabocha and ebi. Add water and bring to boil. Do not cover. Lower heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.

Mix shoyu and sugar and add to pan. Cut aburage into 1/2-inch pieces if using.

Add salt, aburage and shiitake if using, and over medium heat, continue to simmer uncovered until kabocha is soft. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (not including salt to taste but including optional ingredients): 180 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 12 g protein


1 kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) or butternut squash

Olive oil

3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup white wine

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed

1 cup asparagus

1 cup fresh spinach

1/2 cup diced tomato

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split squash in half and scoop out seeds. Lightly rub flesh with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on parchment paper-lined sheet pan, flesh side down. Roast about 45 minutes. To check for doneness, prick outer skin with fork or skewer; it should easily penetrate. Use large spoon to scoop out flesh; puree in food processor. Set aside.

In saute pan, add raw rice with vegetable oil. Saute, stirring constantly and being sure to coat each grain of rice with oil. Deglaze with white wine. Using wooden spoon, continue stirring rice. Once wine has cooked out, add 1 cup stock. Season with salt and pepper and continue stirring. When nearly all the stock has been absorbed, add another cup. Continue this process until the rice is almost al dente, about 15 minutes. You may need additional stock or not use all of it.

When the rice is cooked, fold in asparagus, spinach and 2 cups kabocha puree.

To finish, fold in tomatoes, butter and cheese. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 2 to 3.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (using 8 cups stock and not including salt to taste): 690 calories, 27 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 4,100 mg sodium, 89 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber,

9 g sugar, 18 g protein


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.