Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Saturday: the Day After

Well actually 2 days after, because if I had been obligated to post on Sunday, you all might've been treated to another photo of the Krampus. Six hours ago I waved goodbye to the last of our visiting guests, and the big question of course, is how did our Thanksgiving go? It seems like the most commonplace, mundane thing to ask each other and we do so every year, but for us, or at least for me, it is a question where I can happily say that I was able to enjoy it with a whole bunch of people under one roof. The Thanksgivings that I remember in Hawaii were always outdoor affairs; buffet tables and makeshift seating set up in the garage or in the backyard patio; an uncle making pulehu (barbecuing) on the grill; coconut trees swaying in the breeze; CHOKE food (that means lots of food). It was an event where you could savor dishes from nearly every ethnic group in Hawaii as each family has their own "melting pot" of relatives: filipino, chinese, japanese, portuguese, puerto rican, korean, caucasian, hawaiian and italian! It was also an event that I had been too gutless to try to pull off until now.

Minus a couple of glitches in the kitchen, everyone got to eat the 14½-pound turkey and some laulau that I had made earlier in the week. I know it was insane to host 15 people at ours, but when it comes to parties I tend to lose count. In the end we were 13 in total. Sorta like the Last Supper? I made the usual mashed spuds, sweet potatoes, baked stuffing casserole and cranberry sauce. A couple of friends who stayed for the weekend contributed with a wonderful vegetarian lasagne. On the hawaiian end of the menu, I made lomi lomi salmon to go with the laulau, and served maki sushi and rainbow roll sushi for apps. The plan for fufu drinks went out the door as there simply wasn't enough space or time to be going tropical, yet with the amount of wine and alcohol that came presented to us upon each guest's arrival, we had more than enough to sing Tiny Bubbles if we had wanted to. Sorry, no hula! Not this time anyway.

Tasted almost like the real "Libby" thing

So that leaves me with the photos, and perhaps you've already wondered where the heck are they, but now is the time where I'll admit to having dropped the ball BIG TIME because I really have none to share. I forgot to ask someone to photograph the event, and the only picture I managed to take was the sweet potato pie right after it came out of the oven. The turkey photo comes borrowed from last week's Thanksgiving hosted by Slippah Time authors. Just as well, because their turkey was much more beautiful than mine anyway!

Thanksgiving pelehu

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Saturday countdown: Laulau with banana leaves

Banana leaf wrapper

In Obama's words, “yes you can!” But I am going to dispense with all of the detailed steps because there's a good chance that if you've arrived here via google web, the answer to your search has just been resolved. Anybody who's anybody knows that hawaiian laulau - bundles of meat, fish and lu'au or taro leaves - are wrapped and steamed within ti leaves to achieve the real thing. Unfortunately these particular leaves aren't readily available everywhere in the world, and sometimes you need to make do with what you have. In this case, banana leaves from Thailand, shipped in and sold at a filipino food market in Milan. What can I say? Don't carbon footprint me, these laulau are for a special occasion because I'm doing a little bit of both american and hawaiian-style for our Thanksgiving in Italy.

Pre-video prep

It goes without saying that if you're lucky enough to have banana trees in your yard, select the young leaves that aren't torn or overly rigid. Wash them well and split down the middle, removing the stiff central rib. Cut the whole leaves into sections approximately 13 inches wide and gently heat the undersides over a low flame to soften. The color of the leaves will turn a bright, glossy sheen. When ready to fill, place the banana leaf glossy side down. Here I've used fresh spinach as lu'au leaves are not only impossible to obtain, but I also have an allergic reaction to them. Chunks of pork lightly seasoned with red hawaiian sea salt and a piece of swordfish (typically butterfish or pesce burro if you can find it) goes on top. I've given two examples using just leaf and string, and using leaf with foil. Either way works well but I find that when using foil, packing them for the freezer is less of a mess, especially when you want to give some away as gifts. Cooking time: 3 hours steamed in a covered pot over low simmer. Serve with lomilomi salmon, rice and poi (if get).

Pork & fish laulau

Very cool post on how to wrap laulau in a more authentic way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm feeling like Krampus this morning

Image source: Wikipedia. This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

We all have our weaknesses. Apparently the indulgence of a couple of small but very potent Mai Tais on an empty stomach was not the wisest idea, followed by two Budweisers. What a party last night! The last thing I remember was MotH saying it was time to go home, but in my mind, it sounded like the most absurd statement ever. Home? Whaddya mean home? Right now we're supposed to be taking a short break, or in true island-style, going moi moi (sleeping), then commence kau kau (eating) turkey and stuffing in another round of helpings. That was always standard procedure where I come from - stuff your face or die trying. Eerily apropos, given the chosen image...

Edited update: in case you thought I was hallucinating again...the proof is in da turkey.

Fanukkie's tacchino

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The day after Halloween...

Happy Halloween!

I wanted to be the first to get MY pics out before anyone else uploaded theirs. See? Italians love to party down on Halloween too. In complete style of course, with superb Sassella wine and a smorgasbord of absolutely delicious nibbles being constantly replenished at the buffet table. Unfortunately we couldn't stay until the end because my fairy scary godmother warned me to return home before the witching hour. Sound advice, I'm afraid to admit, because I've been known to jump up on tables and dance. There was quite a ghoulish bunch last night but I don't remember the names of Dracula and the sexy Witch.