Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hawaiian Goodies

We came home from Hawaii with a stack of culinary goodies. We’re not coffee drinkers but that didn’t stop us from lugging home pounds of the stuff. It’s always nice to have some in the house to offer guests and the l00% Kona coffee certainly makes great gifts.

After I had returned home, Nino made a trip to the local honey producer and picked up some pint size tubs of local regular honey and lilikoi honey. These creamy honeys are delicious on toast, in tea, and just about anywhere. On Sunday night we made delicious honey-glazed salmon – sprinkle salt and pepper on salmon fillets, cover with honey or in our case lilikoi honey, and bake at 350degrees for about 12 minutes or until done.

For Christmas I received some Hoji Cha tea, and bought some jasmine pearl tea, all from Tiger Mama which is a division of Dragon Mama store in Hilo. These two organic green teas are delightful - the jasmine pearl being large loose rolled leaves that when steeped produce such a clean green tea flavor, and the Hoji Cha which are roasted buds providing a nutty and delicious taste.

Hawaiian rock salt lives in a little koa bowl on Jan's dining room table and we used it at almost every meal when we were there. These big orange gems are packed with a fresh salty zing. We brought some home with us, filled a beautiful clay bowl and have some at our table now too. When I saw the recipe for pan fried chicken in the SF Chronicle's Food and Wine newsletter I immediately thought to try the recipe with Hawaiian rock salt. Tara Duggan's recipe follows with braised winter greens. Both the greens and the chicken were delicious and such a quick and easy weeknight meal:

2 garlic cloves
1 bunch Swiss chard or other winter greens
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons pure olive oil
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
4 skinless boneless chicken half-breasts (4 to 5 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS: Mince the garlic. Cut off the stalks of the greens, then chop the leaves width-wise into 1-inch ribbons.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a medium skillet (preferably nonstick) over low heat. Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the greens and increase the heat to medium. Stir until incorporated and the greens start to wilt. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the tenderloin (the thin muscle loosely attached to the breast), from each half-breast and set aside for another use. Season each breast liberally with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until almost smoking. Carefully add 2 of the half-breasts. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until browned and the inside has no trace of pink but is still juicy, about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm plate and repeat with remaining half-breasts. Stir the vinegar into the greens, and adjust the seasoning.