Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Big Island

 Last year, I had the pleasure of being the matron-of-honor at my best friend Amanda's wedding in Hilo, Hawaii.  I miss her terribly, as that is her new home, so far far away.  However, she is a rock star teacher, winning Charter School Teacher of the Year in Hawaii!  I am so grateful the kids have her.  Last week, Amanda and Jack had their first child, which brought back a flood of wonderful memories from that trip.  Here are a few favorites, and a copycat menu.

On my way from Kona to Hilo the day of the rehersal I stopped by the only vanilla farm in the US, the Hawaiian Vanilla Company.  It was amazing!  I now understand why vanilla is second to saffron, as the most expensive spice.  Everything is done by hand.  The blossom blooms for only a few hours and they have to pollinate the orchid by hand.  I had a wonderful lunch at the farm, with some wonderful people from Washington that welcomed me to their table.
We had citrus-vanilla bourbon marinated chicken breast and vanilla caramelized onions atop foccaccia, with our Vanilla-Mango Chutney aioli or Vanilla Barbecue sauce, Vanilla South West rub roasted russet &  Molokai Sweet potatoes, farm fresh organic greens with our best selling Vanilla-Raspberry Vinaigrette, crumbled feta and Vanilla-Honey-Peppered Pecans. I washed it down with the best lemondae I have ever drank, vanilla of course!

The owner gave a short presentation and demonstration on how to carmalize the nuts for our salad.  I had to leave early for Amanda's rehearsal, so I got my velvety rich vanilla ice cream to go.  To remember Hawaii, I bought two vanilla beans and their vanilla-scented lotion.

Seeing my best friend for the first time in a few years and a sunset from my trip.

Beautiful bride and groom, Amanda and Jack! Amanda and I pose with a hug!


Silly Amanda!  The rain held off to just after her ceremony! 
A wedding reception is judged by the quality of the cake, for me.  Amanda's was delicious!  I have never had passion fruit before, and I fell in love and sneaked a second piece. 

Hey, I think someone copied my ring?  :)  Good taste!

Amanda told me on my way from Volcanoes National Park I had to stop at the southern most bakery in the US, Punalu'u.  Again, a delicious passion fruit pastry or two!
One of my favorite photos from the trip.

Of course I had macadamia nut crusted mahi-mahi, while in Hawaii.  I had a wonderful meal of vegetables, coconut pineapple risotto, and fish from Lava Java. It was a perfect fusion of Asian Pacific. 

I tried my best to recreate this meal.  I made  Grilled Asian Ratatouille from the NYT.  I also, made Pineapple Coconut Risotto.  I have never made a sweet savory risotto before, but the flavors really work with a hint of parm.

Lastly, I adapted several recipes for the Macademia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi.  Here is what I came up with:

  • 1 cup coarsely ground, roasted macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) 
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coconut
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing foil
  • 4 (6 to 8-ounce) mahi mahi fillets
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • lime slices
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place two slices of lime on the top and bottom of each fillet to marinade for at least 15 minutes.  In a bowl, mix together macadamia nuts, panko, coconut, flour and melted butter.  Set aside.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons of oil.   Remove lime wedges and spoon the coconut milk over the fish. Dredge one side of the fish in the nut mixture.  Place each fillet in the pan crust-side down, cook 3 minutes.    Add fish to a greased baking dish, crust-side up, and bake approx. 7-10 minutes until flaky.

Next time I may serve this with a pineapple salsa. 

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