lilikoi (passion fruit) cupcakes

growing up in hawaii was amazing.   one of my favorite things about it was the fact that we had such easy access to delicious fresh fruits like apple bananas, pineapples, guava, papaya, and lychee.  another one of my favorites was lilikoi or passion fruit.  my best friend had lilikoi trees in the forest behind her house and i remember picking them and then our mouths puckering up from the tartness of the lilikoi.

(image from holistic vibes)

i also remember it being such a treat when my mom or dad would come home with homemade lilikoi butter (essentially passion fruit curd).  it was sweet yet tart and beautifully creamy and scrumptious.  i usually just spread some on toast or sometimes i would sneak a spoonful.  yum!

last time chris and i were home, we bought some lilikoi butter and that is what inspired these lilikoi cupcakes.  unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to find fresh lilikoi here in dc but i was able to find some passion fruit concentrate in the international section of the grocery store.

here’s the breakdown of this lilikoi cupcake: it’s a white cupcake, filled with passion fruit curd topped with lilikoi swiss meringue buttercream and a drizzle of more passion fruit curd.

these cupcakes are super lilikoi-y (if that’s even a word) which i love and just reminds me so much of being at home.  its tropical flavors transports me to the beautiful hawaiian beaches  – ahhh, so nice.

so if you want a little taste of hawaii, i would highly recommend making some of these lilikoi cupcakes and actually if you want to just make some of the lilikoi butter/curd you could do that too.  i had some extra and ate it on crackers, english muffins, really anything i could find that could act as a vehicle for getting the lilikoi goodness into my mouth.  haha.  enjoy!

first make the passion fruit curd.  it’s just like making lemon or lime curd but with passion fruit juice instead.  you want to make it ahead of time so it had enough time to cool.  i actually made it the night before i made the cupcakes, allowed it to cool in the fridge overnight and then put it in a squeeze bottle.  this makes it super easy to fill each cupcake.

then bake up a batch of white or vanilla cupcakes.

now using the cone method, fill each cupcake with the lilikoi curd.

repeat until all of the cupcakes are filled.  then move on to the lilikoi swiss meringue buttercream.  i just used the same buttercream base as i do for all of the swiss meringue buttercreams i’ve made before and then added some lilikoi concentrate.

pipe or spread the buttercream on the cupcakes.   i used a large open star tip to frost these cupcakes.

finally drizzle some of the lilikoi curd onto each cupcake.

and the cupcakes are dunzo and ready to eat!

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shoyu chicken

today we have a snow day!!!  yay!!! i love snow days and because we live in the dc area we actually get a fair amount of snow days/late openings considering we don’t get all that much snow.  the district just is a bit over cautious and tends to freak out even with a couple inches of snow.  but i’m certainly not one to complain.

because now i have some extra time to write a blog post and share with you a recipe for one of my favorite local (hawaii) foods – shoyu chicken.  kind of funny writing about food from a nice sunny warm place since it’s cold and snowing here, but it’s actually the perfect comfort food, so rain or shine this is a great dish to make for you and your family.

shoyu is soy sauce in japanese and in hawaii people frequently refer to soy sauce as shoyu.  so pretty straightforward, this chicken is cooked in a soy sauce or shoyu based sauce – it’s almost like a teriyaki sauce, made with shoyu, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and a touch of rice vinegar.  the chicken thighs (or breast – though i prefer thighs because they have less of a tendency to dry out) are cooked in a slow cooker in this lovely sauce for a few hours.  once the chicken is done, the sauce is slightly thickened with some cornstarch and the chicken is ready to serve is a bowl of steaming rice.  my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

i hope you give this simple, savory recipe a try and get a taste of hawaii.  enjoy!

first, mix all of the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl – it’s just shoyu, brown sugar, minced garlic, grated fresh ginger, and rice vinegar.

then place the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the bowl of your slow cooker/crockpot.  you could also chicken thighs that still have the bone in and/or skin on it.  whatever you prefer.  chicken breast may work, but i have found it to get too dry.

pour the sauce over the chicken.

there you go…

but now you need to mix the sauce and the chicken to make sure that each piece of chicken is covered in sauce.  this will ensure all of the chicken will absorb the flavor of the sauce.

now cook the chicken on low for 4-5 hours  or on high for 2-2 1/2 hours.

take the chicken out of the pot and slice each piece.

the sauce will have a bit of fat in it, especially if you use chicken thighs.  so carefully skim off as much of the fat as you can.  this is what it looks like pre-fat skimmed.

once you remove the fat, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and then pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce.

mix and then cook until the sauce is thickened slightly.

put the sliced chicken back into the sauce and stir to coat the chicken with sauce.

serve the shoyu chicken with a sprinkle of chopped green onion.

aloha!

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pork hash

this year for new year’s, chris and i had a couple friends over for a lovely asian/hawaii food feast.  it was the perfect low key night we were looking for after traveling to maine for christmas.  we enjoyed a great night with awesome friends and delicious food.  for dinner we made mochiko chicken, crab mandu, chinese chicken salad and pork hash.  pork hash is a local favorite that’s similar to shumai or gyoza.  we actually bought some while we were in hawaii and planned to bring it back with us but i forgot it in the freezer!!!  ahhhhh!!!!  we were really looking forward to eating the pork hash, so i had to make some of our own.

i found this recipe online and though it wasn’t exactly the same as the kind that we get at home, it was still pretty tasty.  plus i got a chance to use our new bamboo steamer, which i absolutely love!  i can’t wait to use it again.

the pork hash starts with the filling.  it includes ground pork, chopped water chestnuts, green onion, sesame oil, oyster sauce, egg white and some other seasonings.

mix it all up.

then take your round won ton or mandu wrappers…

and put about a tablespoon of filling in the middle of it.

now place it in your hand,

and then gently form the wrapper around the filling, like this…

fold the pleats in the same direction and the pork has is assembled!

repeat until all of the pork hash are formed.

arrange the pork hash in the bamboo steamer.

now cook them for 30 minutes.

and they’re all pau! [don’t mind the missing one in the middle.  i had to do a taste test ;-)]

i served the pork hash is a simple sauce of soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and green onion.  but i didn’t really measure the ingredients while i was making it, so here’s a recipe you could use.

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crockpot kalua pork

i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again – one of the things i miss most about home (hawaii) is the food.  fortunately, i’ve been able to figure out how to make a lot of my local favorite foods from chicken katsu and spam musubi to coconut mochi and chinese chicken salad.  about a month ago, i was able to check off another dish from my local food to make list – kalua pork.

kalua pork is usually made underground in an imu.  well, living in an apartment building close to the city, i don’t exactly have the space or the means to make an imu to make some kalua pork.  but you know what i do have?  a slow cooker!  it’s a great substitute since my crockpot will mimic the low heat that is made from the imu.

the kalua pork is made with 3 simple ingredients – pork butt/shoulder, hawaiian or rock salt, and liquid smoke.  but what develops the flavor and makes it so wonderfully delicious and tender is the fact that it is cooked for about 16 hours!  crazy right!  but it’s totally worth it… and it’s not like you’re really working hard here – you’re just hanging out, waiting for the slow cooker to do its thing.

start with your pork butt, which is actually the shoulder and plop (yes, plop) it into the bowl of your slow cooker.

then use a sharp knife to poke some holes into the pork.

now get your hawaiian salt – we brought this hawaiian salt back to dc with us last time we went home to hawaii… (i believe you can pick up some hawaiiian/rock salt from trader joe’s.)

and sprinkle some onto the pork.

next comes the liquid smoke…

and pour just a little bit of it on to the pork.

the pork is now ready to turn into kalua pork!

just set your slow cooker to low and let it cook for about 7-8 hours.

here’s what it looks like midway through…  not so pretty, but don’t worry.  it will be okay.

flip that bad boy over

and let it cook for another 7-8 hours, until it’s done.

take the pork out off the pot and place onto a baking sheet.

shred the meat using two forks, discarding the bones and fat as you go through the kalua pork.

pour just enough of the juices over the meat to moisten the meat and it’s ready to serve.  we like to enjoy our kalua pork with some rice and a nice salad or veggies.

for the recipe, please check out la fuji mama‘s post on slow cooker kalua pig.

coconut mochi

last weekend chris and i had some of our friends over for a pool and grilling party.  we just grilled some hot dogs, chicken, corn, and i also made this coconut mochi for dessert.  what is mochi you ask?  well, it’s a sticky, kind of chewy japanese dessert or snack made from sticky rice.  traditional mochi is just rice that’s steamed and then pounded until it’s a paste.

  

then it’s shaped into nice little snack sized patties.

these pictures are actually from an annual new years celebration that one of our good family friends put on in hawaii.  i try to go every year, but missed last years so these are from a few years ago.  although you can enjoy mochi year around, it’s traditionally made for new years for good luck.  check out wikipedia for more info on traditional mochi.

but the mochi i made is obviously not the same as the traditional mochi made above.  instead this one is made from rice flour, it’s baked, and it’s flavored with coconut milk.   it’s also easier to make which is definite plus in my book.

the coconut mochi starts with butter, eggs, and sugar mixed together.  then add a can each of evaporated milk and coconut milk.

next add the mochiko or rice flour as well as the baking powder, salt, and water.  mochiko can sometimes be found in the asian aisle of your grocery store or you can find it at an asian food specialty store.

  

mix it all together and then last but not least, add the vanilla.

pour it into a parchment lined 9 x 13 baking pan.

bake the coconut mochi at350 degrees f for 1 hour.

allow it to cool completely before cutting into squares to serve.

finally it’s time to savor this buttery and kind of chewy and sticky, lightly coconuty baked coconut mochi.  yum!

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