Friday, May 11

Lava, Coffee and the Wilderness of The Big Island

Wild life and active volcano of Big Island

If you are looking for an unusual and exciting place to go on vacation, The Big Island, Hawaii is the right place to go.
This island is so diverse that you'll struggle to find time for the ordinary and boring beach and sun activities. This tropical paradise has everything, from old fishing villages to modern resorts, real cowboy ranches and volcanic black sand beaches with big sea turtles on them. This is the youngest spot on the earth (geologically), with the world's most active volcanoes. You'll feel like you're on the Moon, surrounded with molten lava and cracked cooled volcano soil and craters, where the weather can change every few minutes. It's a place with amazing wild life, seafood, and of course, famous Kona coffee -the best coffee in the world, according to many.
I honestly enjoyed the serenity and purity of this wild living, something that is so hard to find in the developed world today.

The Big Island is probably most well known for its active Kilauea volcano, The Ironman competition and Kona coffee. Many villages also have great farmers markets with some of the most unusual and exotic fruits and veggies.

Small local restaurants prepare tasty local food, but because of the Japanese influence here, you can also try some of the craziest sushi rolls that you can even prepare and design yourself at the spot.
Something else that is great; these sushi restaurants, sell fresh local fish in the morning.

Craft markets are also very popular all over the island as well as the little coffee stores where you can buy and taste Kona coffee from local coffee farms, but more about that on my Coffee page.

So here are some recipes inspired by the sun, volcano and exotic life...

Beef poke
Hawaii are famous for their poke, usually make with fish. Here is one made with beef, because Big Island's great ranches and grain-fed beef.

4 (4-ounce) Kobe-style beef
 flat iron steaks

For the steak rub:
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
3/4 tsp dried chili
2 tbsp  salt
1 tsp raw sugar

1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomato
1/4 cup diced cucumber
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili paste

Mince the garlic, chop the parsley and combine with chill flakes, salt and sugar.
Make a rub: Cut up the onion in a bowl along with sun-dried tomato and other veggies, add sesame oil and chili paste. Marinate the stake by massaging it with a rub.
Grill the stake medium rare. Cut into cubes and into the bowl with the relish.

Banana blossom salad

Banana blossoms are those purple fruits at the top
2 small banana blossoms
2 tbsp white vinegar
4 tbsp White Vinaigrette, recipe follows
2 cups shredded cooked, poached chicken breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 ruby red grapefruit, sectioned and each segment torn into thirds (optional)
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp chili sauce

4 tbsp crispy shallot flakes
4 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts

Peel off and discard the old outer layers of the banana blossom. Use a mandolin with the thinnest setting and cut into fine strips and immediately plunge into large bowl of cold water and the white vinegar. When ready to prepare the salad, remove the strips and shake off the tiny white buds. Rinse and drain. Squeeze dry of the excess water. Place 4 cups of strips into a bowl. Add the white vinaigrette and toss for a few seconds. Pour off the excess liquid.
In a separate bowl, toss the shredded chicken with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Add the grapefruit, mint, and chili fish sauce and mix together thoroughly.
To serve, mound the salad equally onto 4 separate plates. Top each salad with 1 tablespoon crispy shallot flakes and 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

White Vinaigrette:
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside.

Kona lava cake

Inspired by the real lava and volcano, here is the ultimate cake for chocolate and coffee lovers...

Scenery from Kilauea active volcano and the National Park
At a corner is photo of the Kailua village the Iron Man starting beach

75 g unsalted butter
90 g bittersweet chocolate (grated)
2 tbsp ground Kona coffee
400 ml/11/3 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
t tbsp cocoa
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Kailua coffee liqueur

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Oil the medium sized pudding hold or six mini moulds and coat with a half of the grated chocolate.
Heat the milk and pour over the coffee. Let it infuse for about five minutes and strain the coffee. In a pan melt a butter, add a flour and cocoa and cook for a minute. Add coffee milk and cook for couple of minutes to get thick sauce. Remove from the heat and add egg yolks.
Cool shortly and add the remaining of the chocolate. Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl and add a sugar at the end. Stir it in a chocolate sauce partially and mix lightly. Add than the rest of the egg whites.
Fill the moulds with a mixture and bake for about 15 minutes. Before serving spoon over coffee liqueur and reheat in the oven for five minutes. If you want your cake like a lava-running, don't reheat it, but serve immediately.

Acai berry pudding

This recipe was invented there at the island, as my family wasn't so overwhelmed by the taste of these fresh berries. I was told by the local lady at the market that I'm getting "Brazilian cherries", which I never heard of before. Contrary from the rest of the family, I immediately loved these berries/cherries because of its resemblance to sour cherries. It turned out that these were called everywhere else açaí berries and are now considered one of the superfood - most nutritional fruits, loaded with antioxidants and vitamins.

1/2 lb (250 g) fresh  açaí berries  (pitted)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2tbsp milk
3tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
slices of days old panettone or other sweet bread.

Oil the moulds and put a slices of the sweet bread at the bottom. Fill with a chopped berries. Beet aside eggs, egg yolk, milk, vanilla and sugar. Pour over acai berries and let it stand for about ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F, and put the moulds in. Bake for about twenty minutes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if like and enjoy.

Chocolate coffee mint thins

These coffee flavoured chocolate squares are great for after dinner coffee treat.

1/2 cup sugar
5 tbsp water
3 peppermint oil drops
1 tbsp Kona ground coffee
5 tbsp near boiling cream
225 g/8 oz plain dark chocolate
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

Line big square tin or pan with non stick parchment paper. Heat the sugar and water in a pan until sugar is resolved, add peppermint and boil until it gets light caramel colour. Pour the caramel on a baking sheet and cool. Than brake into small pieces. 
Pour the coffee in a small bowl and pour the hot cream over. Leave to infuse for five minutes and strain the coffee out. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double broiler (over the boiling water). Remove from the heat and beat in the hot coffee cream. Stir in the mint caramel. 
Pour whole mixture in already prepared tin and smooth the surface. Leave it cool overnight. Cut in pieces and store in an container.

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