Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bad Blogger, with Good Reason

Lately I've been a bad blogger, but I've had good reason. Last week as part of my fundraising for my Team in Training event and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society I threw a Hawaiian Feast. I spent a fairly sizable amount of time menu planning, finding door prize donors, creating gift certificates, coordinating volunteers, making signs, etc. It was more work than I imagined (but in the end it was totally worth it). This left me with little energy for cooking much less blogging.

The menu for the feast consisted of lots of yummy traditional Hawaiian food. Here's what I prepared (with the help of some great volunteers):

Spam Musubi (think sushi but with fried spam instead of fish)
Ahi Poke (pronounced po-kay)
Kalua Pork
Chicken Luau
White Rice
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad (trust me, it's different from mainland macaroni salad)
Tropical Fruit
Cupcakes (from New York Cupcakes, delicious)

I also made Haupia which is a coconut milk pudding/gelatin concoction, but it never set so I couldn't serve it.

My favorites from the night were the Kalua Pork and the Ahi Poke. I thought I would pass along the recipes.

Traditionally at a luau the Kalua Pork would be a whole pig, cooked all day in an underground imu. Obviously that is not practical for most cooks. I used pork shoulder which is not only cheap, but also very tasty. This recipe is from Epicurious.

Kalua Pork

5 pound boneless pork butt roast
2 Tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt or course sea salt
3 frozen banana leaves, thawed
4 cup Water

2 cup water
2 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt or course sea salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Using small sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch-deep slits 1 inch apart all over pork roast. Rub 2 tablespoons sea salt all over pork. Unfold 1 banana leaf on work surface and place pork roast atop leaf. Fold up leaf around pork, enclosing completely. Repeat wrapping pork in remaining 2 banana leaves, 1 at a time.

Tie with kitchen string to secure, then wrap roast in foil. Place pork in roasting pan; pour 4 cups water into pan.

Roast pork in oven until very tender when pierced with fork, about 5 hours. Unwrap pork and cool slightly. Shred pork and place in large bowl.

Bring remaining 2 cups water and remaining 2 teaspoons salt to boil in small saucepan. Add liquid smoke; pour over pork and stir to blend. Let stand 10 minutes to allow liquid to flavor pork. Serve.

Ingredient tip: Hawaiian alaea sea salt is available at specialty foods stores and online from Hawaii Specialty Salt Company at Banana leaves are available at Asian markets and Latin markets. Liquid smoke is a smoke-flavored liquid seasoning available at many supermarkets and specialty foods stores.

My other favorite from the night was the Ahi Poke. There are lots of different recipes around for Poke, but the one I used came from a blog called Chaos in the Kitchen. Click the link to see her beautiful poke photo (which in the end was a large part of the reason I chose that recipe). I used frozen Ahi Tuna (QFC had donated a gift card for me to use for the event and frozen was all they had) and it actually turned out great (and was substantially less expensive than fresh would have been). I cut the tuna into 1/2 squares while it was still partially frozen which made it really easy to do. My version of the recipe makes 12-16 appetizer size servings.

Hawaiian Poke

16 ounce sushi-grade tuna
1/2 sweet or red onion, julienned
2 green onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon black sesame seeds (or toasted)

Combine onion, green onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame seeds and oil in a bowl.

Add bite sized pieces of tuna, mix well.

Chill the mixture for 15 minutes before serving so flavors can mix. Check for salt before serving, the soy sauce can be pretty salty without needing any additional salt.

Now that my event is in the books I can get back to blogging. I picked up my CSA box yesterday and I've already got some ideas brewing about what to make. A new entry will be coming soon, I promise.

P.S. I raised $706 for LLS with the Hawaiian Feast. A little less than I was hoping for, but not too bad.
The thing that really touched me was the willingness of my friends to give of their time and talents to help make my event a success. Some friends gave amazing door prizes, others spent hours in the kitchen helping me prep and serve, another spent the evening as our DJ (setting an awesome tropical mood) and a few helped collect money at the door, sell raffle tickets and bar tend. I could not have had a successful event without all of their help.

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