Home Cooking and The Great Ulu Project

When you have uku (Hawaiian for plenty) ulu (breadfruit) then you make flour!   That way the useful season gets extended further into the year.  Currently researching the best recipes for it.  No gluten, so you have to move on from there. I don't normally do gluten free cooking.  So, I've found one solution is to incorporate some Semolina flour!  My banana-chocolate brownies came out well.  With a mix of AP flour and ulu flour half-half.  The focaccia not so well.  It needed more water as I found the ulu flour absorbs more.

Which brings me to the book: Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin, various essays, which I've been reading in a sort of haphazard way.  There's her Cold Roast Chicken recipe with buckwheat noodles.  And that inspired the next step.  Make noodles.

Meanwhile, a short review on the subject of that book:

From the Publishers: "Weaving together memories, recipes, and wild tales of years spent in the kitchen, Home Cooking is Laurie Colwin's manifesto on the joys of sharing food and entertaining. From the humble hot-plate of her one-room apartment to the crowded kitchens of bustling parties, Colwin regales us with tales of meals gone both magnificently well and disastrously wrong."

And from Anna Quindlen, "I have in my kitchen a book called Home Cooking. And, in between following the recipes for Extremely Easy Old-Fashioned Beef Stew or Estelle Colwin Snellenberg's Potato Pancakes, I would frequently sit down on a little stool in my kitchen and read through one of the essays in that book. I never read through Joy of Cooking, and I can read The Silver Palate Cookbook standing up, but I always sat down to read these."

I would agree, it's like sitting down with a friend and chatting. Especially funny are the tales of meals gone hilariously wrong, both by the author and at the homes of friends.  Not high end gourmet food here, but good everyday suggestions for meals, along with all the entertainment of some witty writing.

Back to making those noodles.  The flour process is really pretty easy as you don't need to peel or remove the core.  All of it is edible.  Just wash well, cut the stem end off, and slice into chunks that will fit your mandolin, then slice away, at thin setting. Next, layer all the slices in a food dehydrator.  Six hours or so.

Now you can whir it all up in a food processor.  I tried my blender first, not happening.  Next the Kitchen Aid chopper.  Nope, not fine enough.  Finally hauled out the heavy duty Sumeet Asia Kitchen Machine - it's called.  Perfect flour!  Did the job in less than a minute.  If you don't want to make your own, or have access to breadfruit, a local company here, The Hawaii Ulu Cooperative, which is a farmer owned business that buys various vegetables locally - i.e. breadfruit, taro, sweet potato and pumpkin, then sells them peeled, cooked and frozen, or as flour (some as baking mixes) to the markets.  I watched their online video showing how they make the flour, which was exactly what I needed. You might enjoy watching the process here:  https://eatbreadfruit.com/blogs/products/ulu-flour-production-a-visual-flowchart The best to simplify!

So, as inspired by the book, here go the noodles.  I found a good recipe for them at the above mentioned Ulu Cooperative site, which only needed a bit of adjusting.  More water!  Perhaps because I had switched out the all purpose half to semolina flour?  I also need to knead more.  Did some extra in the resting period.  However, they came out well and the dough was easy to work with.  Next time I may roll it out a bit thinner.  

The recipe mentioned included a sort of stir fry sauce to go with the pasta, topped with some ricotta cheese.  It was sooo good.  And, giving you the directions below.

Mushroom and Chicken 'Ulu Pasta

1 cup smoked pork, or roast chicken,  chopped into bite size pieces (I used chicken)

3 cups arugula or spinach

5 good sized king oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
optional: 1 cup ricotta
¼ cup oregano, parsley, and thyme, chopped coarsely - save some whole for garnish
1 whole onion, chopped into cubes 
5 cloves garlic, sliced into very thin rounds
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ cup white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced

Prep the ingredients as listed above.
Place a large saucepan on the stove at medium to high heat.
Saute the smoked meat until browned and a little crispy. (skipped this step)
Add onions and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and continue cooking until dark brown.
Immediately add the white wine, for deglazing, and continue to mix while scraping the bottom of the pan. Once the wine begins to simmer, add the arugula or spinach, and the oyster mushrooms.
Add the herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon to the sauce and test for flavor. Add as needed.
Add a ½ cup of pasta water to the sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Taste for flavor, and add the noodles to the sauce.

Mix gently and plate.


Garnish with homemade ricotta and fresh black pepper, if desired. It wasn't just that I was stoked with my ulu noodles, they came out well and the meal was really good!

I'm linking this post to Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marge, The Intrepid Reader and Baker, and with Heather at the Foodies Read Challenge.  Please stop by and check out some tasty recipes and book suggestions.


Love and Saffron with Ulu and Deconstructed Kebabs

We at Cook the Books Club are currently reading Love & Saffron, by Kim Fay,  this round hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.  It's sub-titled A Novel of Friendship, Food and Love, and truly is.  A series of letters written between two women who come to know one another well, beyond which it becomes a friendship that deeply affects their lives and those they love.  It was also a reminder of the friendships in my own life, those I communicate with daily.  Particularly a good friend of many years, just recently more closely reconnected with.  We now email back and forth about what we're cooking, planting, research of the various aspects of it all, and food we're experimenting with; occasionally visiting local farmers markets, and sharing meals.  Lately the experimentation has been ways of utilizing breadfruit (ulu), including making flour.  (A post on that to come.)


A Good BBQ For Food Americana


Our most recent Cook the Books Club selection is Food Americana  -The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America's Favorite Dishes, by David Page. This round hosted by Simona, of Bricole.  

Not my usual sort of reading material.  This is a lovely club/ reading group, which gets us all out of ruts! :). .. My usual sort of rut being escapism, light mystery fiction, or non-fiction totally based on what project I'm involved in or researching.  At the moment, improving my chocolate making.  Just finished making a fermentation box, and it's cooking away at the moment. So much for that.  This book, on the other hand, is about food in America.  In case you weren't aware of it all, and with background on the various types: Hamburgers, BBQ, bagels, spaghetti, ice cream, etc. etc. including those not so American, i.e. Mexican, sushi and Chinese food.  According to the publishers:

"David Page changed the world of food television by creating, developing, and executive-producing the groundbreaking show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Now from this two-time Emmy winner comes Food Americana, an entertaining mix of food culture, pop culture, nostalgia, and everything new on the American plate.

The remarkable history of American food. What is American cuisine, what national menu do we share, what dishes have we chosen, how did they become “American,” and how are they likely to evolve from here? David Page answers all these questions and more.

Engaging, insightful, and often humorous. The inside story of how Americans have formed a national cuisine from a world of flavors. Sushi, pizza, tacos, bagels, barbecue, dim sum―even fried chicken, burgers, ice cream, and many more―were born elsewhere and transformed into a unique American cuisine."  I would beg to differ.  These items may be what we or some of us eat, but they are not our National cuisine.  We obviously don't have one.  


Kitchen Experiments for Lessons in Chemistry


Our latest book selection for Cook the Books Club has been Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, hosted this round by Debra of 
Eliot's Eats.   From the Publisher:

"Meet Elizabeth Zott: “a gifted research chemist, absurdly self-assured and immune to social convention” (The Washington Post) in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show."

 I found the book somewhat enjoyable, occasionally interesting and sometimes annoying.  Interesting historically in a sad way, with a look at how professional women have been treated in the past.   Annoying, hypocritical really, in the sense that "scientists" as well as authors, artists, engineers, etc. understandably, very much dislike having their work and inventions, or designs appropriated by others.  As happened in the novel.  Actually it's a criminal offense.  Yet they can look at the beauty, purpose and design all around us and assign it to random chance. Ha.  Also, I found it highly unlikely that her cooking show would have become popular in the early1960s.  What did become popular then was Julia Child's cooking show. 

There is a lot of hypocrisy in the world and always has been, not just in the arena of women's rights.  At least Garmus' novel was thought provoking and even occasionally humorous, despite the improbable and sometimes fantastical side.  I loved Elizabeth's dog, 6:30.  When Calvin died, "he sensed her death wish, and because of it, had been on suicide watch all week." Like her daughter, the dog is rendered almost magically intelligent and gifted.


Chianti and Cannelloni

Another new series!  And, I love when it's a good one.  This novel involves a former NY Homicide detective who retires to Italy, and of course, gets involved in solving a homicide!  Who would have guessed?  But there are enticing mentions of delicious local food and wine, with a fine development of characters and plot.  More here from the Publisher's Weekly: 

"At the start of this vibrant mystery from Trinchieri (The Breakfast Club Murder as Camilla T. Crespi), retired Bronx policeman Nico Doyle is having breakfast one morning at the run-down farmhouse he has rented near the town of Gravigna, Italy, his late wife's hometown where he's recently settled, when he hears a gunshot in the hills. When Nico investigates, he comes across the body of a man whose face has been obliterated by a shotgun blast. The victim's Michael Johnson running shoes suggest he's an American. Salvatore Perillo, the carabinieri officer who takes charge of the case, says on learning Nico was once a homicide detective: "I've dealt with only a single murder in my career. Holy heaven, New Yorkers must have murders every day." Nico agrees to assist Perillo, despite his dislike of working homicides. 

Enticing descriptions of food and wines, an introspective protagonist with an unusual background, and an intricate plot that weaves its way amid past peccadillos combine to make this a winner. Readers will eagerly await Trinchieri's next."   

Unfortunately, there are so far only two books after this one in the series.  However she has also written under her nom de plume,  Camilla T. Crespi.  So there is that.  

I was going through another library book, One, Jamie Oliver's latest, for which I had been on quite a long wait list.  I made a dish from his cookbook to go with this post, which he calls Crazy-Paving Cannelloni.  Was quite yummy, and we both liked it a lot.  Plus, crazy easy!  But,  a reminder, I really, really need to get out that unused pasta machine and experiment! 


It All Started with Halo-Halo


I first read about this popular, in some places, dessert, Halo-Halo, in my copy of Filipinx, Heritage Recipes from the Diaspora, which I reviewed  and posted about last year. Then just recently, after experimenting with various versions of the treat, I wanted to do a post on it, but with a Filipino authored book to go along with my post. Well, searching the internet for authors, preferably of cozy mysteries, brought me to: Arsenic and Adobo, by Mia P. Manansala.  Which book, luckily I enjoyed very much.  Also, her covers are so striking! From the Publishers:

"The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes-one that might just be killer.... When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case."  And from the Publisher's Weekly:

"Lila Macapagal, the narrator of Manansala's outstanding debut and series launch, notices two unwelcome customers at Tita Rosie's Kitchen, a Filipino restaurant run by her aunt in Shady Palms, Ill., where Lila has moved after a devastating breakup with her fiancé. Ed Long, the restaurant's landlord, is trying to close the place down, and Long's stepson, Derek Winter, a steady customer, consistently writes negative reviews about its cuisine on his blog....... Chock-full of food lore, this delicious mystery will leave readers hungry for more of the adventures of Lila, her friends and relatives, and her chunky dachshund (who is named after a kind of short, fat sausage). Cozy fans are in for a treat.


Pulled Pork Pasties for The Kitchen Front


We at Cook the Books Club have been reading our current selection, The Kitchen Front, by Jennifer Ryan, hosted by myself this round.  I chose the book, based not only on positive reviews, but on reading it as well as others of her excellent works: The Wedding Dress Circle, The Spies of Shilling Lane and The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.  

Even though I've told myself I've already read too many novels  set in those War Years, (I or II), but then get sucked back in.  Both periods of history encompass so many absorbing stories, and amazingly, more coming out all the time.  This book is a good example of the never-ending variety, between points of view and characters, unusual plotting, etc. turning into a very interesting and enjoyable read.

From the Publishers:  It's the tale "of a BBC-sponsored wartime cooking competition and the four women who enter for a chance to better their lives.

Two years into World War II, Britain is feeling her losses: The Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is holding a cooking contest—and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the competition would present a crucial chance to change their lives." And, yes that contest actually happened.

There was a variety of meals and food to get inspired by, and I took notes.  Among them, Berry Scones, Lord Woolton Pie, Cocquilles St. Jacques, Audrey's Mushroom Soup, Paolo's Chicken Cacciatore (yes, we even had a contribution from a Prisoner of War), and Audrey's' Cornish Pasties, (from page 305) which I chose to make for this round. 


Meal for a Recovering Invalid and Her Sous Chef

We, at Cook the Books Club have been reading, and posting recipes and reviews of our latest selection, Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies, by Vicky Zimmerman.  I for one was in complete sympathy with the grumpy old lady, Miss Cecily.  After a bad fall in early November, spending the last few months in recovery and not able to get around as before, sob, sob.  Garden going to H... ; house as well and any projects on hold for the duration.  Well, I'm back at my computer at least, which is also acting wonky.  And, at the absolute deadline for the book post.  On the plus side, Bob has been stalwart throughout, my chauffeur and really big help and companion, as well as a great sous chef for the relatively simple meals we put together. Our daughter as well, taking off work and traveling with me to Honolulu for the surgeries, then back at home, making us delicious dinners and helping out with everything!  Thanks so much!

From the Library Journal:

"As 39-year-old foodie Kate approaches the dreaded 4--0, her stable life starts to unravel. Her job may be on the chopping block, but even more upsetting is when her soon-to-be live-in boyfriend says he needs to "retreat." To get her mind off her troubles, she volunteers to give food demos at a retirement home for elderly women, where she meets cantankerous 97-year-old Cecily, who disdains Kate's choices and how she wastes precious time on her boring job and unsuitable boyfriend. As relations begin to thaw a little and Cecily tells Kate about her adventurous life, Kate starts to wonder if Cecily is right. This is a fast and fabulous third-person read about life, loneliness, love, and the power of good food and friends. Zimmerman keeps things realistic, including Kate's modern relationship troubles (e.g., ghosting and a noncommittal boyfriend who constantly lets her down), frustrated friends, and an irritating mother. But Cecily, a mentor Kate meets by chance, is the real star, with her jaw-dropping insults, fascinating life story, and brusque but well-meaning advice. "


Cooking, Under Advisement, with Fernet Branca

We at Cook the Books are currently reading Cooking With Fernet Branca, hosted by our own Simona of Briciole.  The title, by the way, is not referring to a person, but a little known (where I live anyway) Italian aperitivo. Written strictly tongue in cheek, and pretty silly at times.  
"If you have ever wondered what the 'extra' in 'extra virgin olive oil' really means then this is the book for you. Set in Tuscany it features a series of comic misunderstandings between two warring neighbours. They take turns to tell the story and you will soon learn not to trust either of them completely!"  Whichbook
 From the Publishers:
Gerald Samper, an effete English snob, has his own private hilltop in Tuscany where he whiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions―including ice cream made with garlic and the bitter, herb-based liqueur known as Fernet Branca. But Gerald’s idyll is about to be shattered by the arrival of Marta, on the run from a crime-riddled former Soviet republic, as a series of misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever closer and more disastrous proximity . . .
And, “A very funny sendup of Italian-cooking-holiday-romance novels” (Publishers Weekly).

Both the neighbors are continually underestimating and making erroneous assumptions about one another, which is a source of some of the humor, in just how far off they both are. I had many actual laugh out loud moments going through this humorous and satirical novel, usually due to the unexpected, totally deadpan delivery.