Butternut Ginger Muffins with Macadamia Nuts

        HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Yet another recipe that involves BUTTERNUT SQUASH or PUMPKIN??  Yes, guilty as charged.  But, you can always use a wonderful muffin, right?  These are not only wonderful, but the best.  Seriously.  Plus they use up some of that extra, cooked squash you have in your fridge, and make a super addition to your New Year's Breakfast.

I did post the recipe for the Queen's Surf Banana Muffins a few years ago, and this is a riff off that.  A superior riff, if I do say so.  There were no bananas, but I wanted to use some roasted butternut squash in my muffins, and thought hey, mashed up squash could easily sub in for those bananas, right??  Add some fresh ginger, nutmeg and cardamom, top everything off with chopped mac nuts and crystallized ginger, and you get a winner, lovely tender crumb and quite delicious.

The old Queen's Surf Waikiki nightclub and restaurant burned down years ago, but I managed to get their secret Banana Muffin recipe.  Wrote it down on a 3x5 card and neglected to note who gave it to me.  Sigh.  But, trust me, the chef won't roll in his grave over this variation.


Slow-Roasted Glazed Salmon

The recipe called for "wild king salmon".  I don't know, this was fresh farmed, Atlantic.  However, do you look a gift, 4 lb. lovely salmon fillet in the mouth?  Not that there was a head to peer into.  But I have to tell you, this slow cook, glazed routine was fabulous.  So, melting succulent, tender and delicious, accented by that tangy sauce, no one was complaining Ms. Reichl.  It was her recipe in the Gourmet Today Cookbook that I almost followed to the letter.  I had ventured previously into the slow cook realm with smoked salmon, but this was a much easier slow cook method.  Like in your oven.

We don't actually know who the gift is from.  It was left in the fridge at our office, along with a nice package of "Smoked Salmon Cocktail Slices" in assorted flavors.  No one seemed to have any idea as to the donor.  How could it get there without anyone noticing?  Santa at midnight?? Well, thank you, whoever you are.  A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!


Passion Fruit (Lillikoi as we say in Hawaii) Jam Recipe

You will not need to add pectin.  I don't usually mess with the stuff myself, and just add fruit with high pectin content if what I'm using (say pineapple) is low.  I like the old fashioned boil it down method.  Since lillikoi are dropping off the vines around our place and this jam is an old favorite, I thought I'd share the secret recipe.

Passion Fruit have a thin tough outer yellow (unless you have the purple variety) shell (which resists fruit flies nicely) and a thicker, fibrous inner white shell with lots of pectin, and then the fruit and seed mixture inside.

You will be using both the juice and inner white shell.  First wash the fruits, then cut each one in half, scoop out the juicy pulpy seedy part and reserve in a jar.

Then take half the shells (I use the nicer looking ones - without fruit fly stings) and set in a large bowl.  Cover with water, top with a plate to keep submerged, and let sit on your counter overnight or 24 hours.  The next day, dump shells and water into a large pot and bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Pour into a colander (saving enough of the water for later) and let the shells cool down enough to handle.

Now you take a spoon and scoop out the softened, thick inner pulp, discarding the brittle outer shell.  You can either chop the pulp finely or put into a food processor.  I like the jam with a bit of texture, rather than blending smooth.

Passion Fruit Jam

Ingredients: (adjust to the amount you have)
36 passion fruits (or 6 cups juice)
half the shells reserved and cooked, pulp chopped finely (see above)
1 1/2 cups water
3-4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

When you are ready, juice the fruit to separate out the seeds.  I use an Acme juicer, which is centrifugal so the seeds don't get crushed into the juice.  Add your chopped pulp to the juice, reserved water, lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a brisk boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.  You will need to stir frequently to keep the jam from sticking to the bottom and burning, as I have been known to do. Then I tell myself that the hint of caramelized fruit is nice. Ha.  Boil rapidly until set.  Ladle into clean, sterile jars and label if you like.

Now that is a vibrantly flavored, delicious jam for your toast, scones or inside of cookies or tarts.  Going over to Hearth 'n Soul Blog Hop for this week, hosted by Swathi, check it out.


Char Sui Bao, Manapua, Oh Yeah! I can do my own.

Sad to say, this being Hawaii and all,  I really do not know of a good local place to get these yummy Chinese buns, called Manapua here, a type of Dim Sum.  At least not with nicely raised pork inside, which I do realize, eliminates most everyone.   So, I am now happy to do it myself, whenever the Char Sui Bao mood strikes.  Really what being a foodie is supposed to be about, or am I wrong?

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

As usual, it just being the two of us, well except for the occasional grandchild, I cut the recipe in half, which gave us ten fat dumplings, filled with Char Sui pork, green onions and fragrant seasoning.   I made the oven, rather than BBQ method of Char Sui, the weather being solid rain for the last few weeks.  Not exactly anything you want to go out and grill in.


Roasted Sweet Potato Scones with Passion Fruit

I realize that it hasn't been all that long since I posted about scones.  But, you'll have to forgive me, we're doing trials here to find the all time best recipe.  In the not too distant past, I didn't bother making them at all, mostly because the ones I occasionally bought weren't ever something that knocked off my socks.  Just so you know, my socks are now off.  These have more than a hint of orange rind and fresh lillikoi (passion fruit - which are dropping off our vines), a touch of garam masala and the intensity of sweet potato when it is roasted, not to mention butter.  Kind of crunchy on the outside, tender inside.  Absolutely awesome.  You really should make these.

We had oven roasted sweet potatoes last night as a side, which left me some to play with.  And after buying the new cookbook put out by our Natural Foods Market (favorite Deli recipes), I wanted to give their scones recipe a try.  Though, these don't really retain much of the original.  Only the proportions of butter, liquid and amount of sugar (which could probably be reduced if you were so inclined).  Since I used kefir, which is a sour milk and some passion fruit juice (acid), the baking powder needed to be adjusted as well, and baking soda added.

We found that they were sweet enough, so you don't need to slather them with honey, or even butter.  They're lovely as is.  Of course, to be traditional, you could top your scone with a big dollop of clotted cream, or your kefir cream cheese.  But, totally icing on the cake.

Roasted Sweet Potato Scones with Passion Fruit
Adapted from the Island Naturals Cookbook

2 cups flour (I used 1/2 white unbleached and !/2 whole wheat spelt)
3/4 cup raw sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup kefir or buttermilk
1/4 cup passion fruit or orange juice
1/2 cup mashed roasted sweet potato
1 teaspoon orange zest

Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, garam masala and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter until a crumbly dough forms, resembling corn grits.  Grate in the orange zest.

In blender or food processor blend sweet potato, kefir, and passion fruit juice.  Slowly add into the dry ingredients, stirring until moistened and clumping together.  Turn out onto floured counter and pat into an 8 inch circle.  Cut into 8 wedges and place onto a buttered baking sheet, an inch apart.  Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Don't over bake.  I think you're going to love these babies.  Sending them off to Let's Do Brunch, hosted by Chaya.