Welcome to the Junior League of Honolulu Cookbooks blog!

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Explore the true meaning of culinary aloha as we journey through three fabulous collections of local-style dishes brought to you by the Junior League of Honolulu.  We’re posting recipes, reviews, and food photos for you to feast on – just sit back, relax, mix up a Li Hing Mui Margarita and enjoy!  We invite you to post your own comments and reviews.

Each post will include the original recipe, printed exactly as it is in the book, including alternative ingredients, cultural notes, servings, and other special touches that make these books unique.

To buy the books and enjoy the full Junior League of Honolulu cookbook experience, including exclusive Hawaiian art, unique fish charts, Hawaiian culinary glossaries, and lu’au instructions, visit www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org and click the eStore tab.  All proceeds support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

A Taste of Aloha, published in 1983

Another Taste of Aloha, published in 1993

Aloha Days, Hula Nights, published in 2006

Cover art by island artist Pegge Hopper

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Stuffed Zucchini: Page 206, Another Taste of Aloha

In my quest to increase my family’s vegetable consumption, I make it a point to cook with my children so they see the veggies going into the dishes.  The Stuffed Zucchini, on page 206, Another Taste of Aloha, in the Vegetables section, was a perfect opportunity to let my son help me in the kitchen.

He loves to stir and press buttons, so this recipe was made for him (he’s two-and-a-half, after all).  After we chopped the onions, it was just a matter of sauteing and adding ingredients to the pan and stirring, which he enjoyed.  His shining moment was the making of the bread crumbs – he was so pleased with himself for whirring up the wheat bread in the food processor and proceeded to eat most of the crumbs, proclaiming proudly “I made the bread crumbs, Mommy!”  (As a side note, the bread crumbs were the only part of this recipe he ate).

The zucchini was tender and flavorful, and the filling was hearty and delicious.  I highly recommend this side dish!

Crispy-crunchy tender veggie thing of beauty

Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon buttered bread crumbs

Preheat over to 325 degrees.  Trim the ends of the zucchini, slice length-wise and hollow out, leaving a slight bottom to hold the filling.  Reserve the zucchini pulp.  Cook zucchini shells in boiling salted water until barely tender.  Drain.  Sauté the onion in butter.  Add zucchini pulp, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cook, gently stirring, until the mixture becomes thick.  Fill the zucchini shells with the tomato-zucchini mixture and place in a shallow baking pan.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.  Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

Buy the cookbook at www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org (click the eStore tab).  All proceeds go to support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Country Supper: Page 132, Another Taste of Aloha

I mentioned in my last post that this week I put together a meal for a new mommy friend.  My friend had mentioned to me when she brought by my meal in February that people always seem to bring lasagna, so she brought me Mexican food (which was so awesome).  So I knew that (delicious as my lasagna is) she would prefer something other than lasagna for her newborn meal.  The Country Supper, on page 132, Another Taste of Aloha, in the Poultry section, fit the bill perfectly.

This is a unique roast chicken meal – entire plates of food are rolled into foil packets (chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, herbs, and wine) and then roasted to tender, juicy deliciousness.  I wanted to deliver the perfect roast chicken meal with no preparation or carving required, and this meal was ideal.  We made two extra packets to try it ourselves, and they really delivered on flavor!  I might boil or saute the veggies a bit next time to cut down on the cooking time, but I really liked this dish.  Prep this quick’n’easy meal tonight!

A complete meal in a steaming foil package

Comes out of the oven ready to serve – what a treat!

Country Supper

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 6 chicken thighs or breasts, skinned (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 small cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound green beans, cut up
  • 3 medium onions, quartered
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut 6 pieces of foil 16 inches long.  In the center of each piece, place 1/6 of the potatoes and 1 piece of chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Evenly divide the carrots, green beans, garlic and onions and add to the foil.  Sprinkle with wine, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.  Bring the edges of the foil together and fold over.  Tightly fold ends over and seal.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Serves 6.

Buy the cookbook at www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org (click the eStore tab).  All proceeds go to support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Coconut Cinnamon Sour Cream Coffee Cake: Page 125, A Taste of Aloha

I put together a meal for a friend who just had a baby this week, and having been the recipient of such meals earlier this year, I have a new model for what I include in the delivery.  The best home delivery I received had two homemade dinners, one for that night and one to freeze, a bag of salad, and a dessert (homemade ice cream cake).  Now, that’s ambitious, since I’m a working mom, but I wanted to include at least one dinner, as well as a dessert or sweet bread to tempt the tired new mommy’s tummy.  The Coconut Cinnamon Sour Cream Coffee Cake, on page 125, A Taste of Aloha, in the Breads section, seemed perfect for her, since she absolutely loves her Keurig coffee maker.

This bread was delicious – rich but light, just as coffee cake should be, with hints of coconut and cinnamon.  The muffin I made for me and my husband disappeared in two bites, leaving us wishing we could steal a bit of the bread (luckily I made a loaf for her)!  I pictured her making her coffee and inhaling a piece of bread for energy with her three little ones running around, and it made me smile.  Make your family smile today with this tasty treat!

Golden and crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside – perfect coffee cake!

Coconut Cinnamon Sour Cream Coffee Cake

BREAD Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

SPICE FILLING Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease bundt pan.  Cream butter and sugar.  Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, alternating with eggs.  Stir in vanilla, sour cream and coconut.  In a separate bowl, combine filling ingredients.  Pout half of the batter into bundt pan, then add half of the filling mixture.  Add remaining batter and sprinkle balance of filling on top.  Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 10-12.

Buy the cookbook at www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org (click the eStore tab).  All proceeds go to support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Citrus Grilled Fish: Page 163, Another Taste of Aloha

Ahi is always in abundance in Hawaii, so I usually pick up some form of it at the grocery store – fillets, steaks, sashimi, you name it, I’ve bought it.  The Citrus Grilled Fish, on page 163, Another Taste of Aloha, in the Seafood section is one of the best (and fastest) preparations I’ve found for this delicious, rich, meaty fish.

I love grill’n’go recipes, especially when there’s no marinating, because I can open my fridge, open my cookbook, and have dinner on the table in just a few minutes.  Flavored butter is a great accompaniment to grilled meat and fish – it adds pizzazz in moments, and can take on any flavor or ethnic profile.  This recipe is excellent, and the butter is yummy.  It reminds me of a ginger and lemon butter I used to make for salmon that my friends called “ambrosia”.

You’ll notice I used ahi steaks instead of a whole ahi, and it was delicious anyway, but I definitely want to try grilling the whole fish with the citrus inside! I’ll be making this recipe on the fly again soon. Try it tonight!

Mmm, grilled ahi…

Look at that tasty lime butter!

Citrus Grilled Fish

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime peel, grated
  • Dash salt
  • 3 – 4 pounds fresh ahi, aku, or uku
  • Oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon peel
  • 1 or 2 limes, thinly sliced
  • 1 or 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • Garnish: Lime wedges

Combine butter, lime juice, lime peel and salt in a small bowl.  Beat until soft and light.  Chill until ready to serve.  Prepare barbecue.  Clean fish.  Rub fish with oil, inside and out. Season inside with pepper and lemon peel.  Overlap alternating lime and lemon slices in cavity of fish.  Place fish in an oiled fish basket or on a pice of oiled heavy duty foil with several holes, or directly onto the oiled grill.  Cover grill with lid or an aluminum foil tent and cook fish for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.  Turn fish and re-oil fish basket foil or grill halfway through cooking time.  Cut the lime butter into thin slices.  Overlap slices on top of cooked fish.  Garnish with lime wedges and serve.

Serves 6-8.

Buy the cookbook at www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org (click the eStore tab).  All proceeds go to support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Vietnamese Style Grilled Pork: Page 215, Aloha Days Hula Nights

My family has a thing for sweet sauces with meat.  Our favorite Thanksgiving turkey has a maple syrup gravy, my husband pours molasses on his bacon, and I hate to admit how often ketchup comes out with my husband’s dinner plate.  When I saw the caramel sauce in the Vietnamese Style Grilled Pork, on page 215, Aloha Days Hula Nights, in the Entrees – Pork section, I knew it would be a perfect meal for us.

Now, caramel and I have a long, uncertain history.  There are not many dishes I can’t put together well, so my husband loves to tell the story of sophomore year in college where I proudly declared, “To make caramel, you just have to mix water and sugar and bake it in the oven!”  Since we were merely engaged, my husband actually ate the sticky black crystals that came out of the oven later that day and pretended they were edible.  But since that day, caramel makes me nervous.

And I have to confess…caramel defeated me again in this recipe.  Maybe it was my nonstick pan, but I could not get the sugar and water to turn brown–it just crystallized at about 20 minutes.  I had to substitute an ice-cream topping caramel I had in the fridge, and it was so delicious.  The caramel really goes well with the fish sauce, and the shallots soften and take on a tasty caramelized flavor.  The broiled pork was tender and the sauce complemented it perfectly.  The sauce tasted good on everything:  the sweet potatoes we ate with the meal, the next day on pork over rice…even kale swirled in the sauce tasted great.  I will make this again soon (and hopefully conquer the caramel)!

What a tasty, wholesome meal!  The sauce was good on everything

Vietnamese Style Grilled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Nuoc Nam (fish sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 1/2 pound pork loin, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce turns deep brown, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/2 cup water in a small pan over high heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and keep hot.  When sauce reaches the desired color, stir in 4 to 5 tablespoons of hot water carefully as the hot caramel may splatter.  Add enough water to make sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Set caramel sauce aside to cool.

Combine shallots, oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, and caramel sauce, stirring to blend.  Add pork loin to sauce.  Cover and marinate 20 minutes.  Heat grill or broiler.  Place pork on grill and book just until done, about 2 minutes on each side.  Arrange on serving platter. Serve.

Note:  The caramel is the secret to this dish.

Serves 6.

Buy the cookbook at www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org (click the eStore tab).  All proceeds go to support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Snap Peas with Bacon Mint Dressing: Page 91, Aloha Days Hula Nights

If you put bacon in the title, chances are my husband (or son, or any man) will want to eat it.  So it’s not surprising that Snap Peas with Bacon Mint Dressing, on page 91, Aloha Days Hula Nights, in the Salads – Savory section, was also high on the list this week.

After the bacon was cooked and the snap peas were boiled for 30 seconds, this was a mix’n’serve situation, which was great.  The fresh green pods still had a great crunch, and the smoky bacon added its distinctive flavor and crunch to balance the tart vinegar and oil dressing.  I enjoyed this dish very much, and I’ll add it to my rotation of quick creative side dishes.  Give it a try!

Fresh green pods & mint with smoky bacon and tart vinegar & oil – delicious!

Snap Peas with Bacon Mint Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound fresh snap pea pods    or    8 ounces snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 4 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled

Fill a bowl with iced water.  Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan.  Add snap peas and cook about 30 seconds, just until tender and bright green.  Drain, then plunge into cold water.  Place in colander and set aside to drain.

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, and vinegar until well blended.  Whisk in mint.  Put snap peas in serving dish.  Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Serves 4 to 6.

Buy the cookbook at www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org (click the eStore tab).  All proceeds go to support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Sunset Sea Scallops: Page 168, Another Taste of Aloha

When I’m ready for a quick evening meal (or a meal even my husband can put together), I keep finding myself reaching for Another Taste of Aloha.  The recipes are exactly what they claim to be – quick, healthy and delicious, and it’s such a pleasure to cook with.  For example, we love scallops, but we get tired of the same old drawn butter topping that pairs so naturally with the sweet, tender morsels.  The Sunset Sea Scallops, on page 168, Another Taste of Aloha, in the Seafood section, have a delicious citrus dressing that really brings out the scallops’ sweetness.

The dressing was easy to put together, the scallops and spinach cooked up quickly, and everything came together nicely on the plate and tasted delicious.  The citrus and basil is an excellent pairing with the tender sweet scallops and spinach.  It was a perfect quick evening meal, and a perfect way to bring out the best in the delicious scallops.  Whip it up tonight!

Golden crust + golden dressing = light evening meal worth its weight in gold!

Sunset Sea Scallops

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh scallops
  • 1 1/2 fresh spinach, washed, trimmed and torn in bite-sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons orange peel, finely grated

In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, mustard and pepper.  Slowly stir in olive oil.  Add 1 tablespoon basil and season with salt.  Set aside.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Over medium heat, cook half of the scallops at a time for 4 to 5 minutes or until opaque and lightly browned.  While scallops are cooking, steam the spinach in the moisture that clings to the leaves until tender, about 3 minutes.  When scallops are done, drain the spinach and arrange on a large serving platter.  Center the scallops on the spinach and pour orange dressing on top.  Garnish with remaining basil and orange zest and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Buy the cookbook at www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org (click the eStore tab).  All proceeds go to support our charitable work in Honolulu, Hawai’i.