Archive for January, 2010

30th January
written by Cleone


Ever since I bought a basil plant at the Farmers Market three and a half weeks ago, I have been anxiously waiting to make pesto.  The basil that I brought home that day was a small baby of a plant.

Baby basil

The plant came in a flimsy plastic pot that is used for transport.  AM re-potted it in a much larger pot.  Every day, we have been watering it, keeping it in the sun, and giving it some TLC.  We check the leaves for insects and actually have found a few tiny ones that suck the sap from the plant and leave a frothy white slime on the leaves.  We had to clean it up a couple of times and so far the plant has been thriving and growing to our delight.

All grown up now

The plant can still grow a lot more and eventually we will need to re-pot in an even bigger pot.  If we lived in a house and had our own yard, we would probably start our own garden since it is pretty satisfying to grow our own herb.  Not only is it fresh without pesticides, it is cost effective too.  Seeing that it has so many leaves, I decided to chop some off and make pesto today!

Fresh basil leaves

The ingredients

The last few weeks, I have been keeping an eye out on the price of pine nuts since they are essential to making pesto even though there are recipes out there that call for walnuts.  Walnuts are less expensive, but I really wanted to try it with pine nuts.  Pine nuts go for $31.99/lb at my local natural food store and around $26 for a 20 oz. bag at Costco.  I actually picked up a small 2.25 oz. bag for $3.39 at Foodland.  You really don’t need that much and unless you have a Mediterranean diet, chances are you won’t cook with it.  Something to consider when buying rare and expensive ingredients.

The cheese

There are two ways to make pesto: 1) in a food processor and 2) with a mortar and pestle.  I mentioned in an earlier post that my mom got me the Cuisinart Smart Stick.  It’s sitting in my cupboard, it’s quicker, and it doesn’t require any elbow grease.  Needless to say, I went with option #1.

The action shot

Pesto with gemelli pasta

The pesto was really tasty with the pasta, although you can put it in a sandwich or salad.  It is so easy to make that I would definitely make it again, especially since the basil plant keeps growing!

(Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz)

Serving size: 4

2 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups loosely-packed basil leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted or raw)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Use immediately or place in an air tight container and place in fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to one month.

Note:  Keep in mind that pesto is not a cooked sauce so the garlic is raw.  If 2 cloves of garlic is too much for you, use less!  The nice thing is that you can use a small amount first, then taste it when you finish blending to see if you need to add more.

29th January
written by Cleone

Garlic shrimp

We have been trying out different recipes and ingredients to make our own garlic shrimp like the ones they serve at the roadside shrimp trucks on the North Shore.  After several unsuccessful attempts, I think we finally did it!

The star of the show

The supporting cast

The main event

The shrimp was perfectly cooked and the seasoning was just the right amount, which complemented the shrimp’s sweetness nicely.  It was so ONO over rice.  AM couldn’t eat it fast enough.  He was licking his plate clean just as I was attacking my second piece of shrimp.

(my own recipe – serves 2)

14 jumbo shrimp (count 13-15 shrimp/lb)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon ONO Hawaiian seasoning (or sea salt)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons table salt
4 tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 lemon

1. Clean and de-vein shrimp. Leave the shell on.
2. In a bowl, coat the shrimp with garlic powder and table salt.
3. In a fry pan, heat butter and olive oil on medium heat. Swirl the pan so the butter melts in the oil.
4. Add raw garlic, wine, juice from the lemon, sea salt, and half of the paprika.  Stir until it bubbles.
5. Add shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes. Lower the heat a little.
6. Once the shrimp starts turning pink, add half of the remaining paprika and flip the shrimp.
7. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and add remaining paprika.
8. Flip the shrimp one last time and turn off the heat.
9. Serve with white rice and enjoy!

If you try this recipe out for yourself, please leave me a comment and let me know how it turned out!

28th January
written by Cleone

Bánh mì

The first time I ate a bánh mì was three years ago in Honolulu at the Ba Le Sandwich shop.  My friend, and colleague at the time, Chuong, brought me to this tiny shop that he discovered and let me tell you, things haven’t been the same since.  Ok, don’t yell at me, but I always thought of Vietnamese food as just phở and crispy spring rolls.  Boy was I wrong.

The “Special” sandwich I ordered today was just like I remembered it the first time I tried it.  Layers of ham, pate, headcheese, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, mayonaise, on a fresh baguette that was crispy on the outside and soft with a nice chew on the inside.  It all works really well together.  It had just the right amount of saltiness from the meats accompanied by the perfect amount of vinegar from the pickled veggies.  Oh yeah, and the baguette was so delicious that I was actually happy that my last bite was just a mouthful of bread.  I really love this sandwich and I was stoked to be able to have it for lunch today.

Ba Le storefront

Ba Le is a small and dingy eatery situated on Fort Street Mall and is usually bustling around lunchtime with crowds from both the surrounding offices and the neighboring Hawai’i Pacific University.  They have seating inside as well as a couple of tables outside.  You will usually catch college kids in t-shirts, surfer shorts, and slippahs with their backpacks mixed in with the middle-aged button down Aloha shirts and slacks.  (Side note: it is called the Aloha shirt in Hawaii, not the Hawaiian shirt.  Guys rock their Aloha shirts at the office like nobody’s business.  This type of shirt is not only for vacationing on a tropical island, but they are acceptable as work place attire here as well as going out to a fancy restaurant.)  The sandwiches at Ba Le are made to order, which is one reason why they are so good and fresh.  They also have a fridge full of interesting drinks.  They stock some Yeo’s brand canned soy milk, grass jelly, sugar cane drink, some Indian brand canned rose milk, as well as the typical Coca Cola soft drinks.  I opted for the Yeo’s can of sugar cane because I like to have Asian drinks whenever I can.


Price: $4.50(!!!) for the bánh mì and $1.25 for the drink = $5.75 total.
Verdict: very tasty and I will dreaming about it until we meet again.

Ba Le Sandwich Shop (Note: there are over 25 locations across Hawaii)
1154 Fort Street Mall
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 521-4117

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