The French had it right pairing mild spring radishes with good butter and sea salt. This is what spring tastes like! Serving with smoked and citrus salts keeps this simple dish interesting and fresh. 1 bunch of radishes, washed well and tops removed; keep just a bit of stem for dipping
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened (grass-fed or local butters are best)
1 tsp. thyme leaves, fresh, chopped
1 tsp. rosemary, fresh, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until everything is well incorporated. Put butter into a small dish for dipping.
Arrange radishes on a large platter or cutting board; serve alongside herbed compound butter and assorted salts for dipping. Each smoked salt has a different flavor unique to the wood it’s smoked over. Same with citrus salts; I am partial to lemon salt with this recipe.
6 ears of corn 3 C. water 3 Tbs. butter, cubed ¼ C.baby heirloom tomatoes (if tomatoes are too big, slice in half) ½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped ½ tsp. sea salt black pepper to taste
Shuck corn and cut kernels off the cob. Place the kernels in a large saucepan and cover with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water. Save the cooking liquid and reserve ½ C. of the corn kernels in a separate bowl.
Put cooked corn into a food processor, blender or use immersion blender. Pulse for a few seconds, aiming for a medium smooth texture. Add back some of the cooking liquid a tablespoon at a time so the mixture stays silky and not too dry.
Place the corn purée in a cast iron pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 minutes. This holds beautifully on the back of the grill while you are grilling the rest of the meal.
Fold in the butter, ½ C. of reserved corn kernels, thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 2 more minutes. Top with fresh baby heirloom tomatoes and serve.
President Eisenhower is noted for loving to cook his porterhouse steaks directly on hardwood coals and Julia Child dedicated an episode of her PBS show to cooking “dirty steak.” Adam Perry Lang coined this method “clinching,” after a boxing term for closing the gap between one and an opponent. Placing meat in direct contact with hot coals leaves no room for the fat to ignite into flame, eliminating that greasy black slick that can compromise the best of steaks. The results are astounding, an umami-rich crust and moist meat with a slight smoky flavor revealing just where that steak has been. I chose macadamia nut for my fire, a hardwood that burns down easily and evenly, imparting a neutral smoke flavor. Kiawe would work, or any hardwood local to your area.
hardwood or lump charcoal (no briquettes)
4 New York strip steaks
sea salt, coarse crystals
lemon garlic dressing (see recipe)
Get your fire started. Make sure there is enough wood to create a 4 to 6-inch bed of red-hot coals. I use a funnel-shaped fire starter (no lighter fluid please). While fire cooks down, bring steaks to room temperature. Slightly wet hands and rub both sides of the steak with generous amounts of salt. Don’t hold back, really get the salt rubbed into the muscle fiber, it helps form the crust.
When wood has cooked down and the coals are glowing red with a cover of white ash, the fire is ready. It should be so hot that you are not able to hold your hand over the coals for more than a second or two. Flatten the surface of the coals to a uniform height of about 5 inches (I use a cast iron pan.) Fan away the grey ash from the top of the coals using a sheet pan or similar.
Place steaks directly on the coals. A 1¼ lb. steak will take about 9 minutes to cook. Time the steak for 4 minutes. Turn and baste cooked side with lemon garlic olive oil mixture. Time second side of steak for another 4-5 minutes. Turn and baste again with olive oil mixture.
Rest and serve with homemade Coconut Porter mustard (recipe below).
Homemade Maui Mustard
I love making homemade mustards. This recipe is simply a template; feel free to mix up the soaking liquid, vinegar and sweetener. I’ve used sparkling cider, apple cider vinegar, agave with mango and jalapeño to great success. Go ahead, play with your food!
½ C. black mustard seed
½ C. yellow mustard seed
1 can Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter (12 oz.)
¼ C. maple syrup
¼ C. balsamic vinegar
sea salt to taste
Soak mustard seeds in the beer overnight. The longer the seeds soak, the milder the mustard. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor, blender, or VitaMix. Blend less for a coarse mustard, more for a smoother mustard.
Lemon Olive Oil
I prefer a Meyer lemon due to its thin skin for this recipe, but any lemon will work. Use this flavorful, citrusy wonder as a base for all kinds of concoctions, marinades or bastes.
1 whole lemon, diced
1 C. EVOO
In a VitaMix or high-powered blender, purée one whole lemon, diced — yes, skin, seeds, pulp and all — with oil. That’s it!
Lemon Garlic Dressing
I always make a double batch of this dressing. Trust me, you’ll want extra.
Be flexible and let seasonal availability create the dish. Be conscious of getting a wide assortment of color and texture: red radishes, purple sugar snap peas, green beans or asparagus, orange heirloom baby carrots, white jicama.
Tahini Dipping Sauce:
This sauce is versatile and so darned delicious, I want to drink it. It’s great on salads, drizzled on fish or chicken, paired with a grilled steak or partnered with roasted vegetables. This umami-rich sauce will have you making a weekly batch.
¼ C. tahini
¼ C. Bragg’s aminos
½ C. walnut oil
½ C. olive oil
4 Tbs. cider vinegar
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients well in a food processor or blender.
Home cooks and professional chefs have a distinctly different view of knives.
Home cooks are more likely to view a knife as just another tool in a jumbled utensil drawer. Something, perhaps, to be a bit nervous about. They readily fall prey to the glamour of big names with prices to match, or shrug and buy a Ginsu set on QVC, or worse, a full set of serrated knives. “Bad! Wrong! Should be stopped!” chefs implore.
Chefs are taught to think of them as an extension of the body. Through the chopping and slicing of hundreds of pounds of every kind of food imaginable in the early days of their training, they learn to adopt a certain grip, a certain motion and to favor particular knives for particular purposes. They develop strong emotional ties to their knives, carrying them everywhere in black roll-up kits and spending hours lovingly sharpening them on a honing stone. “Sharpening is ‘Zen-like,‘” said chef Kyle Kawakami, owner of Maui Fresh Streatery and a former chef-instructor at the Maui Culinary Academy.
What, then, can home cooks learn from the pros about learning to love their knives?
The goal is to find knives that you’re comfortable enough with to actually use, says chef-instructor Grant Sato of Kapi‘olani Community College, who teaches a popular knife skills course in the school’s continuing education program.
“It’s not the name, it’s not the price, it’s not the quality of the metal, it’s how it feels in your hand,” says Sato. “If it doesn’t feel comfortable, you’re not going to enjoy cutting and you’re not going to enjoy cooking.”
Chef Carol Nardello, whose work testing recipes for cookbooks and role as in-house chef in a Wolf Sub-Zero demonstration kitchen bridges the gap between professional and home kitchens, continues this theme: “Everybody has a favorite knife, that’s the one you go to and you feel confident with,” she says. As one of eight children, she shares that her mother did some “pretty big cookin’,” mostly with a paring knife.
The only true test of whether a knife is right for you is using it. Short of toting along your own cutting board and an onion when visiting a store, never buy a knife without holding it and at least pretending to slice or chop, Nardello insists.
Think carefully about weight, length and heft. A burly European chef with hands like bear paws may be delighted with a German-made 12-inch chef’s knife, while a petite home cook would feel completely overmatched, her hand unable to properly grasp the handle, the length frightening and the weight too weighty. Start with the Basics
Kawakami is a self-described knife fanatic, owning costly custom knives, sushi knives, the works. But, he said, it does you no good to spend the money and collect the blades only to have them become “drawer queens,” knives that spend their lives in a drawer.
So what knives ought you consider to outfit a basic home kitchen? The chefs were unanimous:
An 8- to 10-inch European-style chef’s knife, a classic triangular shape with a sharp point.
A 4-inch paring knife, same shape.
A boning or utility knife, thin-bladed and pointed.
And a serrated knife for breads and some meats.
“That’s all you need. From there, you can do anything,” said Kawakami.
Well, not quite. The chefs are assuming one other must-have: a steel — a tool rather like a round, ridged, short-sword. Stroking the blade rapidly on one side and then the other, chefs can make the steel “sing.” The steel realigns microscopic “teeth” in the blade, removes burrs and minute chips and returns the cutting tool almost to just-honed sharpness. Personal Indulgences
Beyond these, however, everyone has their oddball favorite. Sato’s is a good pair of kitchen shears, with which you can delicately snip herbs or brashly cut through bone. Kawakami is also partial to a sushi knife (these are long, single-beveled and devilishly sharp). Nardello’s favorite knife, before she went to culinary school in mid-life and learned to love the graceful curving motion with a chef’s knife, was a cleaver. Mine, if I may interject as one who has tested dozens of recipes, is an inexpensive, square-bladed, all-metal 8-inch Chinese vegetable cleaver.
To a degree, which knife you choose depends on what you cook: Western or Asian. If you cook a lot of Chinese food or local-style dishes with meats cut across the bone (such as chicken hekka), you should have a heavy cleaver — also great for smashing aromatics such as ginger and garlic.
Knives go in and out of fashion. Kawakami said a few years ago, the santoku, a Japanese hybrid knife (the name means “three uses”) was all the rage. Said Sato, a bit cynically, “knife manufacturers are in the business of selling knives so they have to keep coming up with something new.” On the contrary, Sato said, “one set of knives will last you a generation, about 20 years.”
Tips for kitchen knife care:
Preferred storage: an open, slotted knife block. These blocks are slotted all the way through, with small feet to lift them off the counter, so moisture can drip away and air can circulate, discouraging rust and mold.
Magnetic strip knife racks can scratch knives and be a safety hazard. Likewise, keeping knives in a kitchen drawer with other tools.
Never store knives close to the sink; moisture encourages rust. Rusty knives are not ruined but need a good going-over with old-fashioned steel wool.
Never soak knives in dishwater; unsafe and bad for the handles. Wash knives by hand with soap, water and an abrasive pad; wipe with clean towel or air-dry. Dishwashers can scratch or chip knives and the heat and chemicals are hard on handles.
Use a steel to “re-sharpen” your knives every time you use them.
Sharpen knives using a honing stone, never those metal-encased tools that look like a pair of sewing machine bobbins; those scratch the blade and don’t give it sufficient access to the stone. Learn how to sharpen a knife from a professional, or take an online tutorial; an improperly sharpened knife is a dull knife. A tip from chef Grant Sato: Look for a professional knife sharpener who also sharpens scissors for salon stylists; they know what they’re doing.
The kindest cutting board material is wood. Soft plastic boards are used in professional kitchens. Never use glass, hard acrylic or marble. Sanitize boards frequently with a solution of one gallon water to 1 cup bleach.
Story by Sara Smith Photos by Jana Morgan Styling by Melissa Padilla of Opihi Love Florals by Christina Hartman of Wildheart
Chef Jana McMahon makes a living cooking in other people’s homes, so we grilled her on how best to cook in ours. Here are her tips for summer entertaining.
When it’s too hot to cook indoors, take the party outside. For advice on cooking an effortless and downright delicious summer barbecue, we couldn’t think of anyone better to turn to for help than a private chef. Jana McMahon, owner of Chef Jana McMahon has spent the last 10 years cooking for world leaders, movie stars, tech stars and many others. With her quick wit and vivacious humor, it’s possible she’s never met a stranger. Her approach to food, however, is decidedly more austere. She insists: simple, seasonal, approachable.
A private chef brings in raw ingredients and cooks in a home, providing an interaction that is unique (not to mention a valuable tie to the local food scene for the client.). Here at a private home, Jana prepares a fiery summer feast for friends. Her menu is shopped from local farm stands and largely inspired by what she finds, a process she calls “riffing the market.” From there, the ingredients just need to be “dressed with a light hand.”
“Start with quality, fresh local ingredients and don’t set a menu until you see what’s available,” Jana says. “I had asparagus in mind, but found gorgeous purple peas at the farmers market instead. They inspired my entire crudités platter.”
Cooking around a fire provides a main event, Jana says, because it’s “primal and molecular, it just resonates with us.” Jana fearlessly slaps her steaks directly on hot coals, a method called clinching that she tells us more about in the recipe. She serves it up with homemade mustard, of all things. Sound complicated? It’s not.
“Whipping up sauces and condiments is my forte. They define a dish, elevate it, brighten and compliment,” she tells us. It’s this extra effort with the details that sets her food apart.
Another thing that sets Jana apart is the heart she pours into her work. In addition to her business on Maui, she serves as the culinary and ag consultant for TERI (Training, Education, Research and Innovation), a North County San Diego nonprofit agency that advocates, teaches and houses people touched by autism and developmental disabilities. Jana got the job through cooking for a client on Maui, the agency’s CEO. “I was bringing down organic veggies I’d grown on the farm and I’d just happened to make cheese that day, so I looked like a real freak,” she recalls. She was a keeper, the CEO decided.
Jana spends three to four months a year in California, and in five years she’s helped blossom a seed-to-table program, install organic kitchen gardens at group homes, and turn lawns into urban farms. Under her guidance and insistence upon clean, fresh food, the client obesity rate has dropped from 85% to 15%. The TERI gardens just received USDA organic certification, no easy feat and an amazing commitment to quality for their clients.
A can-do attitude and unfussy approach to cooking infuse Jana’s entertaining style both as a chef and hostess. She shares her secrets with us in the Summer 2014 issue of the magazine.
Photograph by Monica Schwartz Recipe created by Ron Miller in collaboration with Viren Olson and Regie Anical
Shrimp, Clams, & Fresh Island Fish
6 oz. Thai coconut broth (recipe below)
8 Kauai shrimp peeled and de-veined; heads removed for the stock.
8 oz. fresh island fish
Place the clams and broth in a pan on high heat. Once most of the clams are open, add the shrimp and fish. Cook until the shrimp are almost cooked through. Garnish with fresh Thai basil and chopped cilantro.
Thai Coconut Broth
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 oz. ginger, chopped
½ C. cilantro, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
12 oz. coconut milk
6 oz. sherry
1 tsp. white pepper
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 pound shrimp heads and shells
¼ lb. onion, chopped
¼ lb. carrots, chopped
¼ lb. celery, chopped
6 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/3 C. tomato paste
½ gal. water
Combine all ingredients and simmer until reduced by half. Pour through a strainer and then use in the preparation above.
Story by Catherine E. Toth Photos by Megan Suzuki (on O‘ahu) & Sean M. Hower (on Maui)
Edible Hawaiian Islands sent one local chef on assignment into foreign territory: a vegan boot camp in the kitchens of two female-run eateries. It didn’t take long for him to feel the beet.
“I know this is a natural food store, but is there any caffeine in here?”
And that’s how Mark “Gooch” Noguchi, local chef and commentator for the Cooking Channel’s “Unique Eats,” walked into Kale’s Natural Foods in Hawai‘i Kai.
If you know him, you wouldn’t be surprised. Noguchi is comfortable anywhere, even in a super cramped kitchen in the back of a health food store deli that specializes in vegan and vegetarian dishes.
This is not Noguchi’s element.
Not that the formally trained chef isn’t into health food. Noguchi, who grew up in both Mānoa and Hilo eating mostly traditional washoku (Japanese home-cooking), has experimented with cleanses, vegan food, juicing and the raw diet. These are just not techniques he uses often — or professionally.
“I happen to know vegan and raw is not just rabbit food,” says Noguchi, who recently opened LUNCH BOX to provide the Hawaiian Airlines staff with healthy locally sourced meals. “But a lot of local people think that. They think it’s only lettuce, and that’s not true.”
And that’s certainly not true at the deli at Kale’s, where sisters Jennifer and Christina Hee have built a reputation for serving delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes that have garnered loyal followers who stop by every day to see what the pair is whipping up in the kitchen.
Dishes like a wild mushroom risotto or a healthy loco moco with a beet burger served over organic spinach, brown rice and quinoa with mushroom gravy.
“There’s a misconception that vegan food doesn’t taste good or is bland,” Noguchi says.
Noguchi donned an apron — he actually put on a hot pink paisley one from the sisters’ collection first before pulling out his own — and got to work, learning from Jennifer how to use ingredients like organic spelt flour, coconut oil and vegan butter.
There’s no professional mixers or commercial convection ovens here. The Hees use an induction burner and a home oven for their dishes, mixing by hand and eyeballing most of their ingredients. They aren’t professionally trained, but what they make is prepared deftly and passionately.
“I’m so impressed by their spontaneity and their energy,” Noguchi says afterward. “There’s a lot of love in that kitchen. I felt the warm fuzzies.”
Noguchi helped prepare the deli’s popular polenta with local kale and vegan sausage made with beets, apples, beans and tapioca. The vegan polenta is pan-seared, then sautéed with the vegan sausage, red onions, red bell peppers, Portobello mushrooms, organic apples, garlic-roasted beets and locally grown kale — with a few other secret ingredients. It was full of flavor and texture.
“This style of cooking isn’t something that’s really taught in culinary school,” says the graduate of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and the Culinary Institute of America. “But it should be.”
Noguchi, who has worked with the farm-to-table advocates at Town in Kaimukī and at Chef Mavro, has long been a believer in sustainable cuisine. He has supported like-minded local chefs and food producers at his pop-up venue TASTE in Kaka‘ako, but had never, himself, used the kind of ingredients and techniques he learned with the Hee sisters.
Like using beets and organic spelt to make vegan chocolate cupcakes. Or swapping butter with coconut oil or a vegan substitute made with soy (and tastes a lot like cheese). Or using an egg replacement made from tapioca and potato starch. Or that cane sugar isn’t necessarily vegan.
“Man, this is good stuff,” he says, tasting the beet frosting he made to accompany the vegan cupcakes. “This is really cool.”
His new perspective on cleaning cooking was only reinforced on his recent visit to Choice Health Bar in Lahaina.
Owned by best friends Emily Kunz and Kathryn Dahm, Choice is a bustling café that resembles a trendy coffee shop minus the coffee. Instead of lattes, it serves a variety of innovative smoothies, açaí bowls, juices and health elixirs that use seasonal fresh produce from Maui, superfoods and almond milk and coconut water made in-house.
With omiyage (gifts) in hand, Noguchi walked into lively café and couldn’t believe how much work goes into creating the thoughtful raw, vegan and vegetarian dishes Kunz and Dahm come up with.
“They are so innovative, it was cool,” Noguchi says. “And they’ve got a freaking following. I was helping them prep and I saw people in there, waiting 45 minutes to an hour before (the café) opened for lunch. They crank.”
Its popularity comes from the interesting dishes Kunz and Dahm serves, using whatever local produce they can find— Kunz actually drives to farms on Maui to pick up ingredients.
“Our menu changes daily based on what’s available,” Dahm says. “Our focus is on local and fresh… It’s about pure food. The less you do to it, the better. You can cut an avocado in half and it’s a five-star meal.”
And they really do use whatever’s on hand, from romanesco broccoli to kohlrabi to heirloom carrots. They even have customers who bring in fruits and veggies — like oranges and figs — from their backyards.
While its menu is mostly smoothies, juices and açaí bowls, Choice does serve full-on meals like a raw falafel wrap with a Peruvian olive tapenade and a cashew tzatziki sauce, a robust Mediterranean kale salad with an herbal-infused lemon vinaigrette, a sunflower-walnut burger with raw ketchup and bee pollen “cheese” on a collard leaf, as well as a variety of soups.
That day, Noguchi helped prep what the friends jokingly refer to as the “two-day entrée” — the HI Vibe Pad Thai dish. It’s a play on the Thai noodle dish, except this is made with green papaya, carrots, red bell peppers, daikon and other veggies julienned to look like noodles. The dish was topped with an almond ginger sauce and coconut-ginger black forbidden rice.
“They were telling me, ‘You know, don’t worry if you can’t finish it because it’s a three-day prep for us,’ and I was, like, ‘No way. I’m banging out this entire thing,’” Noguchi says, laughing.
And he did.
He saw firsthand how much work and effort it took to make a healthy dish appealing to people who might not be familiar with vegan or raw cuisine.
“They think like chefs,” Noguchi says about Kunz and Dahm, neither of them professional trained. “They think about the way food feels in your mouth, about balance… It was really impressive.”
In both kitchens, Noguchi learned something he joked he would steal for his own restaurant concept. He was thinking about making a beet foam or an Asian dressing using raw almonds and maybe adding blenders and juicers to his kitchen. He realizes how, once you cut into an ingredient, you change it. And he knows that anything, even kohlrabi, can taste good. You just gotta work at it.
“How we look at food now is radically different than five years ago,” he says. “We’re stepping away from white rice and mac salad. It’s changed, it’s evolved. It was nice to be in kitchens that weren’t staffed by my team or by professional cooks. And it was all women. I never did see more passion than in those two kitchens.”
2 ½ lbs. vegetables of choice 1 ½ Tbs. sea salt Optional: 2-4 tsp. dried spices & herbs, more if fresh, to taste
Step 1: Gather. Plan your ingredients and flavors. For this recipe we used green and purple cabbage, kale, carrot and radish. For flavor we added fresh dill, flat leaf parsley, ginger and dried bay leaves. (Not pictured: sterilize the jars you plan to use.)
Step 2: Prep. Chop, slice or grate your vegetables.
Step: 3: Mix. Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the salt and spices, if using. Massage well with your hands for several minutes, about 3-5. This breaks down the cellular structure of the vegetables, helping to release liquids.
Step 4: Tamp. Begin packing the vegetable mixture into your sterilized jars, tamping down as you fill. Your aim is to release any air pockets and to have your vegetable mixture covered with a good layer of brine. Leave at least an inch of space for expansion at the top.
Step 5: Seal and store. Stuff a zip-close baggie down into the jar on top of the vegetable/brine mixture. To seal, fold baggie back over the lid of the jar. Place a weight inside the baggie in the jar opening, this can be a smaller jar filled with water or rice. This weight continues to press air out of the jar as the fermentation process takes place.
Store jars in a cool, dark place for about four days. Fermentation time varies widely depending on factors like outside temperature, jar size, types of vegetables and taste. Place jars in a shallow pan as liquids may release out of jars as the fermentation process occurs.
Check your jars daily after the fourth day to see if you have achieved the desired flavor and tang. At this point, remove the weighted jar and baggies and replace with the jar’s matching lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Incorporating fermented foods into our daily diet is a good idea anytime, and especially after the holidays when we’ve taxed our system with rich foods.
To demonstrate how simple it is to create beautiful home-made sauerkraut, we called on private vegetarian chef Alyssa Moreau of Divine Creations.
The basic recipe comes together quickly and is easily customized to different tastes and seasonal availability of vegetables. Growing up with a German heritage, Alyssa and her family traditionally ate sauerkraut on mashed potatoes with Bratwursts and mustard.
Now, as a vegetarian, she loves it tossed into a simple salad or mixed with tahini and used as a sauce for cooked vegetables and grains.
“It adds a nice tang and crunch and balances out the plate,” she says. Her recommendation: add a few tablespoons to a meal once a day.