21 May 2010

Ratatouille, Take 2

Take 1 was delicious, but not so aesthetically pleasing. Didn't make the cut for the blog! This one is somewhat presentable, although using yellow squash and/or yellow and red bell peppers would give it even more aesthetic value. This is what the finished product looked like.In Take 1, I had ignored the instructions to use a large skillet to saute each vegetable separately before putting it into the large pot. The zucchini got way overcooked and a lot of them disintegrated. So this time I followed directions. Here you can see my two pans: one for the individual saute and one for combining all the cooked veggies.
Still, the zucchini and eggplant got a bit over done. I think next time I need to follow the directions more closely--and only brown the vegetables before adding them to the pot rather than cooking them more fully.
Another problem is that I have trouble chopping my vegetables into even cubes! Something else to work on I guess.
I also ended up adding about 4 tablespoons of olive oil to each batch of eggplant just 'cause that stuff soaks up so much oil. I don't mind though; makes it taste good. I mean seriously, this dish is all veggies so what's a little olive oil?

I love this dish. My family and I ate it as a side dish with grilled chicken and pork and also as a snack in the afternoons. My parents said it looks like pinakbet! And it does have some of the same veggies. I guess it's Italian pinakbet!

Adapted from Summer Vegetable Ratatouille at allrecipes.com

1 onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cubed
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
8 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft. Lower burner to medium-low or low.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the zucchini in batches until slightly browned on all sides. Remove the zucchini and place in the pot with the onions and garlic. (Really, just brown the veggies. They'll have time to fully cook later.)
  3. Saute all the remaining vegetables one batch at a time, adding 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet each time you add a new set of vegetables. (You may need more for the eggplant as those buggers really suck up the oil.) Once each batch has been sauteed, add them to the large pot as was done in step 2.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme and cover the pot. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley to the large pot, cook another 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

20 May 2010

Breakfast: Sourdough+ratatouille+fried egg

This breakfast is inspired by Town. And I'm so excited that I even took a picture. Well, I guess this is as aesthetically pleasing as my food gets. Yikes! Anyway, I'm no professional (chef or photographer, lol). Seriously I can barely fry an egg, but I was completely inspired by breakfast at Town last week. They seem to have sort of a formula going: starch + hearty, savory deliciousness + fried egg. In two of the dishes we had, the starch was either a slice of bread or some polenta. And the middle layer was either a nice slice of ham or--I guess you could call it a stir-fry, of kale, sausage, raisins. (I guess what I'm saying is that if I were to attempt that, I would stir fry it!)

It's kind of the Eggs Benedict model too I guess, which I only started eating a couple years ago, and then only at The Soup Spoon in Lansing, where they have a San Diego Bennie with avocados and spicy hollandaise. I still fear real hollandaise.

Anyway, I made this with some sourdough bread my mom had bought. I debated using an English muffin too. Next time. The ratatouille I had made on Monday. It came out kind of mushy and ugly; need to try that recipe again, but still yummy and thus perfect for hiding under an egg. I still need to work on my fried egg technique, but at least this time when the yolk broke, the whites were almost done anyway. That, my friends, is progress!

It tasted awesome and I think I have found my favorite way to eat eggs!

15 May 2010

Aoki's Shave Ice, Haleiwa, HI

Kea and I usually go to Aoki's because the line is shorter than Matsumoto's. I'm mad at them now though. We went there last Sunday and the shave ice was so poorly constructed. I had ice cream leaking out of the top of mine from the moment they handed it to me. Actually, I think it was from even before they handed it to me because the girl noticed it had problems and put another cup--which did absolutely nothing to solve the problem! It also was very wobbly and crooked so I had to hold it sideways--which made the ice cream leak out even more. Grr... one of my friends had problems with his too. Some of it spontaneously fell on the ground. Jeez, maybe they are trying to persuade us to buy those shave ice holders! They were messing up plenny people's orders too. I go Matsumoto's next time.

Bubbies Mochi Ice Cream from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

After Diamond Head, we were all a little hungry. We hadn't had much lunch, but only wanted a snack before going home for dinner. We stopped at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Monsarrat and had some mochi ice cream. The workers were pros. They had no problem dealing with our decision-making issues and they put each of our orders (3 mochi ice cream each) in a covered cup. Very cute and perfect for taking in the car.

I had li hing mango, chocolate espresso, and chocolate strawberry. I would not order the chocolate espresso again; the espresso ice cream was awesome but the chocolate mochi was a little weird. To be honest, it reminded me of dog food somehow. The other two were both awesome. I am sometimes weird about mango, but this one passed muster. The chocolate strawberry had chocolate ice cream, which apparently Bubbies does very well, and strawberry mochi. *yummy noises*

S had green tea, which she thought tasted weird. She said she likes other places green tea ice cream but was not a fan of this one. I recall feeling the same way about Bubbies green tea ice cream. (Can't remember the other flavors she had...)

D had sakura and lychee. I can't remember his third, but I remember he picked things that sounded different. He's so funny. Anyway, he liked all of his too I think, but I remember a lot of yummy noises over the sakura especially.

I was also impressed that the mochi ice cream traveled well. I was driving and it was no problem for me to eat and drive simultaneously. The treats must have been really cold because I had to let them warm up for a bit before eating them. I savored them and there were no problems with ice cream running down my chin.

I was never much of a fan of mochi ice cream, but this week I realized that one of the best things about them is that they are small so that you can try multiple flavors!

Diamond Head Cove Health Bar

I'm really confused about the name of this place as I don't recall their sign reading "Diamond Head Cove Health Bar," but the pictures and address look right. Anyway. We needed a quick meal before doing Diamond Head and I recalled this smoothie place on Monsarrat. The menu was limited (all their smoothies [$6] but one had at least one ingredient I am not a fan of [bananas, mango, papaya]) and the smoothies and juices were expensive, but it was good stuff, is not a chain, and did the trick. I wanted the mint and honeydew smoothie, but they were out of mint. :( So I had a juice ($7) made with cucumber, ginger, celery, and lemon. I wished that the juice had ice in it, but it was good and it did the trick of getting me up and down Diamond Head.

Green Papaya on Keeaumoku

Went here again. We had green papaya salad (with shrimp), summer rolls (also with shrimp), and lemongrass chicken. The green papaya salad was awesome as always and the shrimp was very fresh. The summer rolls came with a peanut sauce that had coconut in it. That was new to me and it was very good. The summer rolls by themselves were kind of plain, but I think maybe that's just how summer rolls are. The lemongrass chicken was great. I usually don't like to order just meat like that, but this was good, lemongrassy stuff!

Breakfast at Town

I've heard so much about Town, but somehow never went there until this week. I think part of it is that their website stinks. There's nothing like reading a menu (even a sample one) to persuade me to visit a restaurant. Anyway, my sense was that they were fancy and I knew that they use local ingredients. That was the extent of my knowledge. I read some Yelp reviews and learned that morning is sort of self-serve (The staff called it "counter service"), that they serve Illy coffee, and that breakfast is good--which I had heard from some friends too.

Anyway, nothing like having a friend in town to motivate you to go out and do things. My friend's flight was at 1 so we figured that brunch would be a good morning activity.

I ordered the polenta which was the best thing ever. I've had polenta a couple times before but it was never like this. It was crispy on the edges. The polenta was served with a fried egg, some breakfast sausage, greens (kale?), and raisins (or maybe those fancier sultanas or something). I have never been a fan of breakfast sausage but, like I said, this was the best thing ever. I also liked having all the greens.

My friend and I shared our orders so I had some of her bruschetta too. It also had some greens (arugula?), but not as much. Also had some really nice ham and a fried egg. Good, but I think I prefer the polenta, in part because of all the veggies. Also because the bruschetta was a bit messy; it was kind of like an open face breakfast sandwich.

Kea had the banana pancakes, which he said he thinks is just menu filler. Still yet it was good. Very banana-y.

Hokulani Bake Shop, Part 2

Hokulani Bake Shop was another must-do on our list. Located in Restaurant Row, it wasn't too hard to find. The shop is small and looks like it's under construction. The cupcakes and cookies are gorgeous though! They also had onesies and baby t-shirts for sale that said "Made from Scratch." I thought that was cute.

Anyway, one of my friends asked if he could take pictures and they said he could but that he couldn't post them online. We were dumbfounded and think they are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity.

Luckily, the cupcakes are still good. I tried the guava, lilikoi, coconut, and mango. The lilikoi was my favorite. The guava wasn't as good as last time. Still good, but the lilikoi had a stronger flavor. The mango had actual chunks of fruit which was also good.

Palama Supermarket in Waimalu

My family and I are huge fans of Palama Supermarket (the ones in Kalihi and the Keeaumoku area). We love the kim bap and other prepared foods as well. Unfortunately, the one in Waimalu doesn't seem so good. First, their kim bap didn't even have sesame oil on it! I ended up putting my own! I'm not a fan of fish jun, but my mom is and she said theirs is junk. The meat jun and chap chae were okay...

Dim Sum at Legend Seafood Restaurant

I had some friends in town and wanted to take them to dim sum. One of them is vegetarian so I thought we'd try Legend Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant, which is affiliated with the well-known Legend Seafood Restaurant. I wanted my non-veggie friend to have a "real" dim sum experience though so I called the restaurant to ask whether vegetarian dim sum could be ordered on the seafood side and vice versa. They said yes and I was very happy. (They also answered their phone and had someone who was fluent in English for me to speak to, neither of which I assumed would be true for Chinatown.)

Anyway, we ended up going to the seafood side on Mother's Day. We went at 10 am and it was a good thing because there was a crazy crowd by the time we came out at around 11. The host was very helpful and offered to bring two vegetarian dim sum--one steamed and one fried--for my friend. The rest of us ordered off the carts and menu as usual.

Legend is not my favorite dim sum place. Compared to some other places in Honolulu, it seems they focus more on quantity than quality, but I'm really happy with it as a place where vegetarians and omnivores can have dim sum together.