Angel Pie or Mango Pavlova

I planned this to celebrate a friend's return from Papua New Guinea, via Australia, where some say the dessert called a Pavlova, originated.  Australia by some accounts, New Zealand by others, Down Under at any rate.  However, it is indeed heavenly, so that may be where the term "Angel Pie" comes in.  By either name, the dessert is pretty high up there in the sweets cosmos.  The stratosphere.  Sunny said "exquisite" and we all wolfed it down.

A meringue on the bottom, crispy on its outside, tender marshmallowy inside, the top piled with mangoes and whipped cream.  I don't know how you could beat that.  Not even CHOCOLATE.  And I am a certifiable chocoholic.  You would not dream anything this good could be so easy to put together.


Red Lentil, Mango and Arugula Salad with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

This salad says, Summer, you have arrived!  Officially.  When mangoes are dropping off the trees, demanding to be used pronto, it's all the sign you need.  I mean if, by some miracle, you hadn't noticed the heat.  There is a Mango Angel Pie  planned for this week, I've been cooking green ones that drop off early, and this was a main dish fruit on the savory side of sweetness.  The vinaigrette contains mustard and cumin, along with umi plum vinegar and the passion fruit juice.  Altogether, a salad that will wake up any lazy or dozing taste buds.

The sprinkles of green are crushed curry leaves.
I started out with the idea of using Le Puy lentils, but discovered we were out, so just substituted the red lentils, after researching an estimated cooking time.  These red lentils, or Masoor dal, cook up much faster than some (like Le Puy) and are usually prepared in curries or sauces, cooked down to a softer consistency than you want for salad.  I tasted as they simmered, and after 4 minutes, pulled the pot off immediately.

Sometimes it feels as though we've been eating way too much meat.  And, it's there in the left-overs I polish off for lunch as well.  A good thing for me that lentils are a quick fix.  Using legumes entails more thinking ahead than lentils, which don't require soaking first.  So, a great staple to have on hand for whipping up a main dish salad in no time at all..
The mangoes add a nice contrasting tangy sweetness to the ensemble, with a hint of the Middle East from mint and cumin.  The local, pretty Spring onion from our market was too irresistible.


A Lunch in Paris, for Cook the Books Club

The title alone is alluring, of our Cook the Books Club current selection,  Lunch in Paris, by Elizabeth Bard.  I'd like to drop everything and be magically transported to the fabled city for a visit.  If it weren't for the Parisians that is.  Sorry .... though the author and her husband are not native to Paris, so perhaps they  won't mind me venting just a trifle.  But, even the rest of France, from what I can gather, are in agreement.   On that subject, the book reminded me of a recent read by David Lebovitz, The Sweet Life in Paris.  By the time I'd finished, it was perplexing indeed why anyone would subject themselves to the place long term.  Only true love.  Good food and beauty are available in more congenial locales. Though, as long as you're not having to deal with the attitudes yourself, it can be humorous.

You have to give Bard credit for not only sticking it out, but coming up with fabulous recipes and a darn good read as well.  I love a true romance, and paired with tempting food, it is a marriage made in heaven.  She draws us along, into her difficult dilemma, torn between home and a foreign country, long held ideals now challenged by love.  What people are telling her, versus her heart, as capsulated in this quote from the book, page 109:
"There were many things he wanted to do, many things we could do together.  But I felt deep down that if I wasn't prepared to spend the rest of my life with the man in front of me right now - the poorly paid French civil servant with no tie, an unheated bathroom, and a principled grudge against the Coca-Cola Corporation - I had no business marrying him at all.

And then there was Paris - beautiful, slightly inaccessible Paris, like the girl who lures you close with her ruffles and her scent, then leaves you in the doorway, cold and alone, with the barest hint of a good-night kiss.  I felt like I was standing on the doorstep of a culture, and I wasn't sure if anyone was ever going to let me in.  I couldn't just say yes to Gwendal.  I had to say yes to Paris too."
Can she make changes to previously held beliefs about the meaning of life, and what constitutes success?  Both she, and her husband-to-be, Gwendal, do make satisfyingly positive adjustments to one another, as well as to their respective cultures, by the story's finish.  A great read, and there's nothing like a storybook ending, though I am sure that the working out of their marriage will entail many more adjustments and compromises, as does any marriage in real life.

There was much about Lunch in Paris to inspire a cook.  Between riffs off family recipes, ideas from her experiences in a culture besotted with good food, and using local market and backyard produce, narrowing it down was the only problem.  In recent posts I have gone into my search for local, humanely raised pork, and since it is now available, I was especially drawn to their friend, Mayur's preparation of wild boar with apples.  Since we do have green mangoes here though not apples (well, yes mainland shipped ones), I thought it might be a good substitution, along with some mango liqueur, sitting in my cabinet unopened for eons, instead of Calvados, which seems to be completely unavailable locally.

Roast Wild Boar with Green Mango
The slightly tart mango, cider vinegar and Mango Fruja liqueur combined to give the tender, slow cooked pork a lovely complex flavor.  Highly recommended, and if you don't have any wild boar available, you can use Pork Tenderloin as she does in the book's recipe, on page 279.

I am looking forward to reading everyone's posts on this enticingly romantic biography.  Check for the round-up, by our host, Johanna, at the end of the month.


Pepperoni, Squash, Peppers and Pasta Toss

A package of  Applegate Farms pepperoni was not being used up fast enough, so what do we do?  Toss it with pasta, of course. Some nice Summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers, all sauteed in a bit of olive oil, throw in the diced meat, and we're good to go.  A lovely, colorful and  flavorful dinner. There was only a very small amount left, and I am claiming it for lunch.

I didn't add any spices at all, just a bit of sea salt on the veggies, as the pepperoni is enough to give it a real dose of tasty umami.  Use whatever fresh vegetables you have.  Okra, diced sweet potatoes, asparagus or bell peppers would be good.


Hawaiian Grines - Wild Big Island Boar Sausage for Charcutepalooza

Grines is a term for food in Hawaii, in this case pork....ground.  I guess it makes sense in a way.  Finding them was the big deal, however, as I was not at all happy with the last bit of piggy we sourced.  Should have driven out to the scene of its undoubtedly sad upbringing, several hours away, down the coast to Hamakua, and checked things out  for myself.  Well, this time I was determined, one way or another to get some free range, wild and happy boar.  If I had to go hunting myself, with my trusty Glock.  Ha ha.  Just kidding folks.  I'm not into that really....  Unless sorely pressed.

I was walking away from the store yesterday when an employee came running after me, "Claudia, your pig came in."  Likely any vegetarians in the area were cringing, eyes squished closed.  So, back I went to collect my wild boar bits.

From free as a boar can be, in the forests of the Big Island, brought to the slaughterhouse by Mr. Hunter, to the store and then to me.  I cut the meat in half, ground one part for Breakfast Sausage and the rest for Chorizo, since the challenge for this issue of Charcutepalooza was grinding your own sausage.  Then added the seasonings and put both portions away in the fridge to chill up again.  We are using the authoritative book on the subject, Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, as a guide, and I pretty much stuck with his recipes, excepting as noted below.


Gumbo Chorizo Style, Let the Good Times Roll!

I had the bright idea of making a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, using  my own homemade sausage, made with wild caught Hawaiian boar.  Okay, in theory.  Just getting some in time was the hold up. Where the heck are you hunters when we need you?

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

As it turns out, my special order, wild pig came into the store, a day after I made my gumbo.  However, the good news is, there was some happily raised and prepared Chorizo at our wonderful Natural Foods Store, so we went with that, and with fantastic results, I must say.  Really, I must.  Luckily the Farmer's Market had some fresh okra, because what would it be without that?  This Gumbo is to die for.  That good.

I did the mise en place, all vegetables chopped, minced and ready, spices and herbs out, chicken cut up and ready.  Roux was the first to start, in my rendered and saved duck fat, then the onions, all browning up nicely. 

The recipe was great.  I won't mention any changes, other than the sausage.  Hey, at least it was from the South.  South of the Border maybe, but still.  It added immeasurably to the overall flavor, I think.  Also, I cut the amount way down, and it was plenty for 4-5.


Salmon Quiche with Potato and Dill

I know, quiche is so a dish of the past. Supposedly.  But, like all good things, still with us, which is, or should be, the definition of a classic.  This was my first time throwing a potato into the mix, along with the smoked salmon, a generous amount of dill and diced green onions.  The Jarlsberg cheese was a nice touch, if I do say so.  Quiche is a meal I usually have on hand, so to speak.  Things in the pantry, garden or fridge that will fit together in the perfect frame of a pastry crust. 

A lovely, simple meal.  The components all layered in, and the whole becoming  more than the sum of its parts.  I am much more likely to assemble a little pie like this than to make a hamburger, for instance.  Hamburgers very rarely give me a call.  If my husband were the chef around here, things might be different.  In fact, for sure they would.  Regardless of that "real men eat quiche" business.  They do.  When it's put in front of them.  But, do you ever catch guys ordering it in a restaurant?  Oh no, it would be hamburger every time.  Or steak.  All the same, Bob seemed to enjoy this one.  Had seconds and a third slice, I believe.  It is a really excellent arrangement of textures, and flavors.

Salmon  Quiche with Potato and Dill

1 pastry crust, 8 inch
Smoked salmon, thinly sliced, then chopped roughly - about 2 oz.
1 medium new potato, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon butter
4 green onions, white and some of the green part, sliced
2 small shallots, diced
1/3 cup dill, chopped
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Jarlsberg cheese (or Swiss)

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.  Parboil the potato, then cool enough to dice.  Melt the butter and lightly saute the shallots and green onion until just turning translucent.  Remove from heat.  Beat the eggs, yogurt and cream together in a bowl, then add the dill, salt and pepper.  Spread salmon pieces over the bottom of pastry crust.  Sprinkle the diced potatoes, onions and shallots over that.

Pour the egg mixture over all, top with cheese and bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then turn down to 350F and finish for about 20 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and filling is firmed up.  It will slice easier if you allow the pie to rest for a minute or two after taking it out of the oven.  Enjoy!

Linking up with Chaya's My Meatless Mondays, so check for all the great dishes there.


Guava Crumb Cake with Galangal

We're back to guavas dropping off the trees season here.  Being inventive with them in cooking, hopefully.  I find recipes in books and online, then adapt for the tropics.  Just because it calls for apples, or pears, there is no reason we absolutely must go to the store and buy fruit brought in from the mainland, most likely picked on the green side of ripe.  Not that they can't be pretty good, but when you have fruit where you live, or close to it, I believe in using that first.  Hence, the guavas here.  Also, since my galangal is multiplying, I thought it might sub for cinnamon in the Streusel topping.  However, if your fruit at hand is apples or pears, just use those instead.

If you are interested in growing galangal or ginger, check out Pick me yard for more information.  I had been wondering why my plants were looking sick, and the edges of the leaves turning brown.  Finally made the move to look up growing conditions on the web.  Brilliant, no?  It sometimes takes me awhile.  Turns out ginger loves shade, shelter and moisture.  Poor dears they weren't getting enough of any of that.  Out in the blazing sun.  Amazing they lived through my ignorance.  So we are moving them to a shady location.  And watering more in dry conditions. 

I also discovered that slicing off a new rhizome (as you see above) gives a nice tender piece for cooking.  The more mature roots are pretty tough.

I had saved this  recipe from Adam's site, The Amateur Gourmet, awhile back, and he got it from Gale Gand's Brunch, so down the road we have my version adapted for the tropics.  I increased the cake's sugar to compensate for the tart guavas.

 Guava Crumb Cake

The cake:
Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used  part spelt flour)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar (unless you are using pears, then 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups guava, any bad spots peeled, then seeded and chopped

Streusel topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up
1 tablespoon galangal, finely minced

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

To make the cake, combine the flour with the baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and then mix in the milk and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the pears, and mix well. Pour this into the buttered baking dish.

To make the streusel, mix the sugar, flour, cold butter, and galangal in a bowl by pinching them together with your fingers until well combined. Sprinkle over the top of the batter.

Bake the cake for 35 minutes or so, until it is golden and dry on top. Cool in the pan, and then cut into squares. The cake will keep for up to 4 days, covered, at room temperature. If it lasts that long at your house.

This cake is moist, its sweetness balanced with a little tang from the guavas (or tart apples) and really delicious.  Good enough to share at Week-end Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Astrid from Paul Chen's Foodblog.  I learn so much every time I read the round-ups for this event.