Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lilikoi Bars

In the two plus years that I've lived in Hawaii, I've learned new words,  eaten different foods,  worn fewer clothes, and gained an appreciation for SPAM.

My first month on Maui, I went to a party and was introduced to lilikoi margaritas.    I had no idea what a lilikoi was other than it grew on their fence and it was mighty tasty with tequila over ice.

Lilikoi is the Hawaiian word for passion fruit.   Here it's popular as a syrup for shave ice and in cocktails.  Lilikoi is not something you'll often find in the grocery store (but maybe at a farm stand)...more likely you'll get them from friends and neighbors.

There is a young lilikoi vine growing in my backyard.    I've gotten six fruits from it this month.   Friends and neighbors took care of the rest....and they consider it a fair trade - fresh produce for baked goods.

Backyard produce
I've mentioned  the size of Maui produce before, including the epic Haiku avocados and farmers market lemons the size of softballs.    I just picked up this giant lemon at the  market.   I used the zest from the whole thing, but only used juice from half (about 4 tablespoons).   The rest of the lemon was put to good use in lemonade.

Lemons the size of kindles
I found the recipe for these bars over on The Little Ferraro Kitchen, plus great instructions on how to actually get juice from the fruit.  So amazing in every way!

What You Need

1 cup (half pound) butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups of flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt

6 eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup lilikoi juice (10-12 lilikoi, depending on their size)
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons lemon juice (half of the monster lemon above)
zest of 1 lemon

What You Do

Line a 13x9 pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350.   You can  wait a little on the oven, as the dough needs to chill, and if you haven't prepared the lilikoi juice, that will take a few minutes as well.  

To get the lilikoi juice, you have to do a little work.   Slice the fruit in half and scoop the juice, pulp and seeds into the food processor.    Pulse briefly, 20-30 seconds just to help separate the pulp from the seeds.   Pour the contents of the food processor into a strainer over a glass liquid measuring cup. Use the back of a spoon to push as much juice as possible through the strainer.    

To make the crust, beat butter with a hand mixer.   Add sugar and cream until light and fluffy.   Add flour and salt until just mixed.  Turn the dough out onto a floured cutting board, form into a ball and then flatten dough in preparation for putting in the pan.    

When the dough is in the bottom of the pan, use floured fingers to push it all the way to the edge and to build a little lip all the way around (to help hold in the filling).   Put the pan with dough into the freezer for 15-20 minutes while you're making the filling.  (Now is a good time to preheat the oven if you haven't already)

To make the filling, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour,  lilikoi juice, lemon juice and lemon zest, until combined.   It will smell wonderful.    When the crust is done chilling, and the oven is preheated, pour the filling over the crust.

Bake 30-35 minutes until the filling is set.    I set my timer for 30 minutes and the middle was still jiggly, so I ended up baking for 35 minutes.

Cool before slicing.   
I put my bars in the refrigerator to chill before slicing and then for storage afterwards.     
You won't have to store them long...they're that good!

Meanwhile in Maui

It's whale season again.   Hooray!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

It may come as a surprise to those enjoying a solid cold winter elsewhere, but we do get winter weather here in Hawaii.   It's in the low 70s (or gasp, the high 60s) at night, at sea level.   If you live upcountry, it's even cooler.     When I read all the cold weather, slow cooker recipes, I want to get in on the fun, even if I'm not wearing socks or sitting by the fireplace. 

I don't miss many restaurant chains from the mainland, but there are times where soup in a bread bowl from Panera would be the perfect meal.   This soup makes me think of sitting by the fireplace at the Panera in the DTC back in Colorado on cold winter day.         

What You Need

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts,- two large ones will do it and frozen worked just fine
1 cup uncooked wild rice, I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice experimenting from the bulk bin at the natural food store
2 cups, total, of chopped celery, carrot and onion
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or improv here with sage, thyme, rosemary, nutmeg, salt and pepper)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
2 cups 2% milk (the original recipe called for whole, but I don't usually have that on hand...I did know that my normal choice of skim milk wouldn't make the soup as creamy as I'd like, so 2% was my personal soup compromise of the day)
3 tablespoons white wine
salt and pepper to taste

What You Do

Why I loved this recipe so much was that it really was easy.   Take the whole chicken breasts, rice, veggies, chicken broth and seasoning and put it in the slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours.    

Walk away.  Go to work, walk the dog, take a nap, hit the beach, read a good book, visit with your neighbors, or curl up by the fireplace.

Come back and use tongs to pull the chicken breasts from the pot.   Use two forks to shred them and then put the chicken back in the pot.  

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.   Add the flour and let it bubble for a minute.   Add the milk, and whisk the mixture together.   Then add the wine (if you're drinking it at the same time, that's totally fine....especially if it's cold out).    Add this roux to the soup going in the slow cooker.   If you want to change the consistency of the soup, you can add additional milk at this time.    Let it cook a little longer so that it's all combined and full of hearty goodness, then dig in.  

Bonus if you have a bread bowl on hand.   

Recipe source:  This soup recipe comes from Pinch of Yum, one of my favorite food blogs to follow

Meanwhile in Maui

Friday night's sunset was glorious.  
If you're thinking that Hawaii is calling your name in 2016, come.

Other soups you might enjoy:

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