Monday, July 27, 2009

Flourless Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut butter blossoms with dark hershey kisses.

There are some things that are just meant to be together: health care and reform, mario and luigi, and of course peanut butter and chocolate! Now one of my favorite recipes involving those two ingredients is peanut butter blossoms. My bff, Travis, recently sent me a recipe for flourless pb blossoms. Wait, no flour? I was highly skeptical, but Travis said they were amazing and super easy to make.

Bringing the dough together.

If you are looking for a simple recipe, you need look no further! This recipe requires four ingredients: egg, sugar, peanut butter, and hershey kisses. The dough comes together quite easily. I recommend chilling it for 10 min before rolling the balls out.

Into the oven they go!

In ten minutes, these babies are ready to be taken out of the oven, and kissed with some delicious dark chocolate. I recommend having the kisses unwrapped before you remove the cookies from the oven. The kisses need to be pushed into the cookies while they are still soft and warm.

Mmm choco peanut butter.

These cookies are much richer than the blossoms that are made with flour. If you are looking for a simple rich treat, I would recommend them. Also, what can be better than a recipe sent with love from an old friend? Thanks Travis!

Flourless Peanut Butter Blossom Recipe (makes about 20 cookies)

1 egg
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4)
1 cup peanut butter (I used all natural pb)
20 dark chocolate hersheys kisses

  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl, beat together the egg, peanut butter, and sugar until a dough forms.
  3. Shape the dough into small balls and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. *Remove baking sheet from oven and immediately press a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Leonard's Bakery, Kapahulu St, Honolulu

Leonard's Bakery

Hawaii is a wonderful mixing pot of different cultures: japanese, polynesian, filipino, chinese, portuguese, german, and the list goes on. Hawaii is one of two states in which non-hispanic whites do not make up the majority.

This unique mixture of cultures provides a variety of cuisines to try. I wanted to get some local flavor, step off the beaten path, while i was in Hawaii. My mom, recommended heading down to Kapahulu St, about 1.5 miles from Waikiki beach. There are some places like the Rainbow Drive-In that serves up a great lunch plate. While we didn't make it to the Rainbow Drive-In, I knew I wanted to check out Leonard's Bakery.

Got malasadas?

In 1882, two Portuguese immigrants came from San Miguel Island to Maui under a contract to work the sugar cane fields. 33 years later, their grandson Leonard was born. Leonard and his family moved to Honolulu, where he worked at Snowflake Bakery until he founded Leonard's Bakery in 1952. Not long after opening, Leonard's mother suggested making malasadas for Shrove Tuesday, a portuguese tradition. While they were afraid these treats might not appeal to the masses, they were an instant hit.

Malasadas are simply the portuguese take on donuts. Large pieces of dough fried in hot oil and rolled in sugar. Traditionally there were no fillings, but many places fill their malasadas with custard fillings. At Leonard's you can get malasadas filled with chocolate, coconut, and regular custards. In addition to the standard fillings, they offer a monthly flavor.

Where's my malasada?

6 Malasadas: sugar, cinnamon, and 4 filled custards (coconut, chocolate, regular, and lilikoi)

We got to the bakery early on Sunday morning. A line was beginning to form at 9am. Always a good sign. Looking at the menu, I knew I wanted to try a traditional sugar coated malasada, but choosing a filled flavor proved more difficult. We ended up trying one of each: sugar, cinnamon, coconut, chocolate, regular, and lilikoi. Lilikoi is the hawaiian name for passionfruit.

AJ and I took our donuts to a nearby coffee shop and got to work. AJ is a chocolate fiend, so that one was clearly his favorite. I was a huge fan of the coconut and lilikoi fillings. The coconut was sweet and fragrant. The lilikoi filling was slighly tangy and sweet. All of the fillings were still warm, which was wonderful.

Chocolate monster!


While we didn't intend to eat every donut we purchased, we managed to polish off almost every one. These donuts were some of the best I have ever eaten. Warm from the oven, and filled to order, the people at Leonard's know what they're doing.

Bottom Line: If you find yourself in Oahu, you must make the trip to Leonard's for some great local eats.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Food Sculptures

Wall-E Sandwich.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you pancakes shaped like hearts or cut up your sandwiches into different shapes. Food shaped like animals or other objects always tasted better.

I recently saw a bento box inspired by the movie Wall-E. I personally love Wall-E, and have had that character on the brain ever since. I made AJ a cashew and pumpkin butter sandwich and created this little work of art.

Do you ever create your own food sculptures?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mahalo Oahu!

View from John Domini's Restaurant in Waikiki.

I just got back from Hawaii and what a beautiful place it is. Although we stayed in the super touristy Waikiki beach, we still had a wonderful time. I did a little research on some good eats in the area. I was glad I did, because our concierge was less than helpful. We heard quite a few people say, "I don't eat in Waikiki." As our trip progressed we began to understand that the slew of chain restaurants and high prices would discourage one from eating around here. We did manage to find a couple gems.

Another view of the water.

When you're on a tropical island, you want to be able to look at the water as often as possible (at least that's my strategy). I was hopeful about John Domini's because of its good reviews and view of the ocean. We walked into the restaurant fairly early in the evening, to find only a few other tables occupied. The lack of a crowd can make one nervous, but we were not to be disappointed. The wait staff was friendly, albeit a little pushy about certain dishes. The local fish came highly recommended.


Lucky for us we were able to see the fish up close and personal. Whether or not this really aided in our decision, it was cool none the less. I ended up ordering the Opakapaka, with the waiter recommending the lemon butter sauce.


AJ was set on ordering Mahi Mahi that evening, but our persuasive waiter managed to steer him towards the local beauty - Onaga. Crusted with macadamia nuts and stuffed with crab, how could you go wrong?

Coco cabana.


Besides eating as much seafood as possible, you have to order tropical drinks while vacationing in a beach destination. You have to. The mojito has always been my favorite drink of choice, more refreshing than alcoholic. John Domini's prepared this one beautifully - fresh mint and lime juice, with rum, simple syrup, and club soda. A little on the sweet side, this mojito was the perfect accompaniment. AJ had been talking about pina coladas, but went with the coco cabana - a combination of pineapple juice, coconut rum, midori melon, and a dash of cream. A sweet tropical blend that screamed Hawaii.

Opakapaka sauteed in a lemon butter sauce with capers.

Our entrees came out fairly quickly to our delight. The portions were quite large. The fish were fresh, warm, and flaky. My lemon butter sauce was light, yet creamy, working well with the mellow white opakapaka. Although to be honest I think lemon butter sauce works well with cardboard.

Macadamia crusted Onaga stuffed with crab and tempura prawns.

AJ was pleased with his dish as well. The sweet crab meat and crunchy nuts were a welcome addition to the moist onaga. Both dishes were served with sauteed veggies and your choice of brown, white or fried rice, or mashed or baked potatoes. Our fried and brown rice were both rather bland. The fish are clearly the main event.

Happy faces and happy bellies.

Bottom Line: John Dominis is a pretty pricey place to eat. But the service, view, and wonderful seafood makes this destination much more appealing than the Cheesecake Factory on the Waikiki strip. Afterall, if you're on vacation you might as well do it up.

A Summer Resolution: Wings Night

After several months of constant takeout (and a respite from this blog), Travis & I decided it was time to buckle down and start cooking our own food for a change. FreshDirect, a Manhattan/Hamptons/NYC area grocery delivery service, was offering unlimited summer deliveries (minimum $30) for $10 (instead of $6 per delivery), so I decided to sign up in hopes that we'd take advantage and start saving money and spending more time in the kitchen.

While some takeout I clearly am unable to reproduce in my lovely apartment kitchen (sushi) I was hoping most of what we normally order I could make myself.

Enter, wings. Now I love wings as does Travis and we typically order them a couple of times a month, at least. However, adding up the cost of wings (insanely hot for him, medium for me), fries/onion rings, salad and soda, the total each delivery ended up somewhere around $30 - $35. Trying to both stick to my summer cooking resolution AND potentially save a free dollars in the process, I decided to make my own.

Remembering that Ariel & Malia's mom, Ms. Brady, makes her own wings from scratch and how awesome A&M made them sound, I thought, "hey, I may not subscribe to Gourmet magazine, but I can certainly try and make my own!". I also decided to go ahead and make my own blue cheese dressing.

I selected this wings recipe with minor alterations from Gourmet magazine's site, Epicurious, as it was based on Anchor Bar's (the originator of the Buffalo Wing) recipe AND I thought it had a higher chance of being similar to Ms. Brady's recipe.

Yum! The wings were delicious and we both agreed they were a definite new addition to our regular rotation of home cooking. Especially nice was being able to put piping hot sauce over crisp wings instead of them waiting around under a hot lamp or in a delivery bag. The blue cheese dressing was a little too salty and too much Worcestershire, but overall I enjoyed it.
Texture-wise, definitely more of a dressing than a dip, but it could be thickened with more mayo if you desired.

Recipes are as follows:

Buffalo Chicken Wings:
Makes 2 dinner or 4 appetizer servings

3 lbs chicken wings (12 to 14)
6 cups vegetable oil (for frying, or approximately one inch deep)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce (can use less if desire less heat)
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

To prep the chicken (can do while oil heats):
Cut off chicken wing tips, reserving for another use, and halve chicken wings at joint

To deep fry:
Pour oil into deep, heavy pot/kettle. Heat until a thermometer reads 375 degrees F. Right before the oil hits 380 degrees F, pat dry 6 or 7 wings. Carefully lower wings into oil and fry, stirring/flipping occasionally until cooked through, golden and crisp, 6 to 8 mins. With a slotted spoon/tongs, transfer wings to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 380 degrees F. Pat dry remaining wings and fry in same manner.

To make the hot sauce:
In a small pot melt butter over moderately low heat and stir in hot suace, vinegar, and salt to taste (if needed). Once combined, remove from heat.

To coat the wings:
Place slightly cooled wings into bowl. Pour warm hot sauce over wings and toss to coat. Serve wings warm or at room temperature. Serve with celery & carrot sticks and blue cheese dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe from Joy of Cooking):
Makes 2 cups

1 cup mayo
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
4 oz blue cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients except cheese and process until smooth. Once smooth, add cheese and process to desired consistency. Taste and adjust if needed, use immediately or cover and refrigerate.