Hawaiian Fried Chicken

I first encountered Hawaiian Fried chicken at Back Home Lahaina in Carson, California. A dear friend of mine and I were out on one of our foodie adventures. A native to Torrance, she'd yammered on about Lahaina's, but we'd never gone to the restaurant together having been financially restricted to L&L type Hawaiian fast food. When we did finally make it to Back Home Lahaina's, she suggested I try the Hawaiian fried chicken. When it came out, the portions were huge - big massive piles of the expected accompaniments to any Hawaiian plate - macaroni salad, a cabbage slaw with crunched up, dried ramen noodles, and white rice. And there, right amongst these starchy mountains of unbearable deliciousness, sat big, fried balls of chicken. Well what's so great about glorified chicken nuggets? Does putting "Hawaiian" in front of them make them cool? Little did I know. The first bite was bliss. Not only were these fresh and the furthest thing away from the horrid processed 'chicken' of fast food joints, the batter they had been fried in wasn't your typical southern fried chicken batter. Far from being greasy and overly salty, these little meaty nuggets were sweet. Yes. Sweet. A lovely, happy-tastebuds sweet that was a revelation. Here was a dinner entree that was sweet without being sticky or 'dessert like'.

Wow. What else is there to say? They were nommed. Boy were the nommed.

I left sunny Los Angeles in May 2007, bound for Jersey and eventually the less-than-sunny United Kingdom. I traded my lovely fresh Korean and Hawaiian bbq's for Indian curries. Which is okay, but I have been feeling a bit homesick for the yummier days. On a whim, I hopped on the wonderful inter-web and had a look around for a recipe. Turns out that Hawaiian Fried Chicken is also called Mochiko Chicken. Although I've essentially gone vegetarian and have no great passion for fried food, I figured I'd give it a whirl for nostalgia's sake. I originally tried the recipe with tofu. It worked. This time I tried it with Chicken.

The verdict? The flavor seems a little stronger than I remember. It's not as delicate. Or perhaps my palate's just gotten a bit more sensitive. Either way, this tasted less like I remembered and more like chicken fried in a teriyaki batter. Still delicious. But not exactly what I was hoping for. I may have to email Lahaina and ask if they'll share their recipe. I read somewhere that pineapple juice and peanut oil were involved. Either way, this was a passable alternative. Although, as I said, it's more a teriyaki batter than the Lahaina recipe.

Instead of using chicken legs or wings or breasts, I opted for a whole chicken which I butchered and cut into pieces at home. The carcass was donated to a friend of mine to use as stock. This was the most affordable way to make this for me. Chicken breasts on their own are hideously expensive.

And here we go -

Mochiko Chicken

2 1/2 Pounds chicken
2 eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons mochiko*
4 tablespoons cornstarch*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
oil for frying

Mix everything (except chicken and oil). Marinate chicken for 5 hours or overnight in refrigerator. This is essential as it is a flavorsome blast for the chicken itself. Fry chicken in oil until golden. Place on paper towel to drain.

If you have batter left, chuck it in your oil and fry until nice and crispy. Horrible for you, but a really tasty treat.

* If I ever do this again, I think I'll try a little more flour as I'd like a thicker batter. The batter this recipe ends up making is very wet, and I'd definitely like a little more batter on the chicken.


My Favorite Displacement Activity

Time has been rather tight lately. I'm trying to get my website live by Monday night, and it isn't looking good although I've essentially locked myself in my bedroom which doubles, conveniently, as an office. Okay, so it's not that convenient as my rather comfy bed is always in site! (Ah!HA!Ha! get it? Bad joke...I know) Sweet slumber aside, I've found a rather more interesting way of diverting my attention from work when things in my head begin to get a bit...well...fluffy. The chain of events goes something like this...

1. Thought 1: Hmm...I've been staring at this computer screen for an awfully long time. I think I'm thirsty. Maybe I'll go downstairs for a glass of water.
2. Thought 2: Well, I need a break anyway. Let's see what it says on the internet about baking.
3. Action 1: I've inevitably printed out a recipe by now.
4. Thought 3: Well I'll just have to try this later. When I have more time.
5. Action 2: I walk downstairs to "get a drink" with the intention of returning to work soon after.
6. Action 3: I wander into the kitchen and around the corner to my cupboard where I peruse the contents of my shelves and take mental notes of what exists and what seems to be missing. For shopping later, right?
7. Thought 4: How convenient. I actually have the ingredients I need to make this! How neat.
8. Thought 5: I really should get back to work...
9. Action 4: Gather ingredients and make something.

Baking has become my new favorite displacement activity. Which would be fine, but you'd think my flatmates would encourage me to get back to work, right? Oh no, this little habit has become quite popular in our household so instead of "Hey Autumn, don't you have a 11 minute film and a 6,000 word essay to finish?" I get "So, what are you actively displacing today? It smells great!"

Faddling aside, I have been very busy, and Rita's been very patient with my overall absence and failure to post anything! I do actually have loads of work to crank out, so everyone will have to be satisfied with photos from the latest bouts of displacement activity. Although the midnight brownies from last night were too spur of the moment to get photographed.


Golden Bread Slices (Fatias Douradas)

One of the byproducts of living with an enthusiastic baker is having an occasional surplus of good bread that you don't want to get rid of and raises the issue of possibly having to eat a leaning tower of Pisa worth of toasts.

There are many ways of reviving dry and slightly oldish bread in the Portuguese cuisine, mind you that bread was in that country for a long time "the" main course (and frequently not so much on the side). In that light, wasting food is considered a 'sin' that can get you all the way into the trendy red-devil decorated gates. Now days is all about economy and waste, and in my case, guilt. A lot of it. Seasons everything a bit more doesn't it?

So last night I was wondering what to do with almost half a loaf of 50/50 white/wholemeal breadmaker bread that got ignored for a while and was probably feeling a bit depressed. Then I remembered this recipe: Golden Bread Slices, they usually inhabits our Christmas table for a quite brief period before vanishing (with astonishing speed) into blissful oblivion.

Fatias Douradas
(Golden Bread Slices)

Serves 5 (or less if anyone has a sweet tooth)
- 5 slices (1/2 inch each) of bread (usually white bread, but today I used 50/50 white/wholemeal and it worked, mind you that it has to be a bread with some consistency and a lot better if a bit dry/old)
- 2+1/2 cups of semi-skimmed milk
- 3 eggs (beaten)
- 2 inches of lemon zest (as I did not have a lemon, I used lime)
- 2 tbs white refined sugar
- 2 tbs muscovado sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
- dash of freshly grounded nutmeg
- Sunflower oil (for frying)

Add the milk, the zest, a sprinkle of cinnamon in a container and warm it a bit (not too much). Spread the bread slices in an oven tray, pour the milk on top of them and let it sit for 20/30 minutes.
Beat the eggs and pour them in a soup plate; in a bowl stir the 2 sugars, the nutmeg, the cinnamon until the result is an even light brown and fragrant mixture. Put a frying pan on the hob with enough sunflower oil and let it heat up.
With care pass each slice of bread through the beaten egg, both sides. They might get a bit wobbly, if that happens just cut them in half (it worked for me).
Fry the bread in the hot oil until golden; have a plate ready with kitchen towels to take the excess oil out our lovely golden slices and another one for the final piling up of deliciousness. When you add a slice to this last pile spread with a spoon a layer of the sugar mix on either side and sprinkle it loosely, I usually even pressure it slightly into the bread. Really, don't get stingy on sugar, just use it up.

You can have a slice right away if you want (cooks privilege), but this dish should be eaten at least a couple of hours after cooking. It keeps for some time, don't worry, I'm sure it won't go bad.
Photo by Rita


Caldo Verde/Kale Soup

After a painful week of being thrown out of our own kitchen, at last we are kings/queens of our manor once more! We celebrated it by re-filling our cupboards and cooking away happily-ever-after.

Soups are a very important part of a typical mediterranean diet, they come in all kinds and fit mostly all tastes. In my house they were an everyday starter usually for both lunch and dinner, and even if I was never very picky about vegetables, my mother found that an easy way to get us kids eating a daily veggie portion.
Today I had soup cravings and as I still have left some good quality chorizo and a pretty spring cabbage from today's outing at the market,I thought this recipe might be a very good idea. This is the ultimate Portuguese soup, it doesn't get more traditional than this!
I did the soup it as I always do, without consulting any written references because it is probably already engraved somewhere in my genetic code, but here is another version, so pick the one that you fancy the most and take your shot at it!

And now let's plunge in the misty and wonderful world of cabbages and how astonishing different it can be from country to country. So this soup is a cabbage soup, traditionally made with Portuguese Cabbage (yes, the actual name of the thing, well, at least one of them) and actually from the same cabbage family as kale (distant cousins or something like that). So you would usually use kale to do this dish but as I already had a lovely spring cabbage, I just used its outer leaves (dark green) and they worked out surprisingly well.

Caldo Verde
(Portuguese Kale Soup)
It may serve 3


- 5 to 6 medium cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped)
- 3 to 4 leaves of kale
- 4 medium potatos (peeled and diced)
- 1/8 (about 2 inches) of a chorizo (whole, NOT sliced)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- salt
- boiling water


Cut off the kale leaves central hard vein, rinse them and fold them so that they are easier to chop into the thinest slices you can manage (look at the picture at the top of the post...yes, that small). After they are chopped, put them into a container, poor boiling water over it and let it rest.
Put some water in a pan, add the potatoes, the garlic and the chorizo and let it boil until the vegetables are tender. Take the chorizo out of the pan, the pan away from the hob and use the blender to reduce the vegetables into a creamy "consomme". Return the pan to the hob, drain the kale, slice the chorizo and add both to the "consomme". Poor the olive oil and season, let it cook until the kale is tender.
There is nothing quite like a soup in the winter. Or if not yet in winter, at least when it is cloudy. Or if it isn't cloudy I'm sure we can make up any other excuse, because all excuses are allowed and accurate when it comes to soup.
Photo by Rita


Remembering Summer 2008

This is one from the vaults. I was digging around my computer and found some of the pictures that I took over the summer. Of course, this was before I realized I could take macro shots. The first two rows of images are from Taste of Bath. The last image is from the Bristol Wine and Food Festival.

First Row Left to Right: Roast scallop, lemon balm puree and cumin (The Bath Priory Hotel), Futomaki - soft shell crab, kimchi, spring onion, avocado, chili mayonnaise (Bodukan), Grilled Devon scallops with garlic butter (Fish Works)

Second Row Left to Right: Mini beef Wellington with foie gras, wild mushrooms and a Madeira jus (The Hole in the Wall), Whole confit leg of Gressingham duck, with pineapple chutney and a cucumber and coriander salad (The Hole in the Wall), 28-day aged fillet of Staffordshire beef, Hudson Bearnaise, Malden salt and pepper frites (Hudson Steakhouse and Grill)

Third Row: Barney Haughton, owner of Bordeaux Quay in Bristol, giving a cooking demonstration at the 2008 Bristol Wine and Food Festival.

Photos by Autumn

Tale of the Exploding Kitchen

Of Sourdough and Exploding Kitchens
by Autumn

This is what we looked like when we returned home to discover our kitchen had exploded all over our living room...

Our flat has been "under construction" for the past two weeks. Last week we found ourselves cloistered upstairs while the stairwell was re-wallpapered. This week we returned home from our weekly Farmer's Market run to discover that our kitchen had somehow managed to explode. That is to say, we didn't really have a kitchen. Or a living room which happens to double as our dining room. Oh the horror! The workers had taken down the kitchen cabinet and moved it and its contents into our living room which was already filled to capacity with the usual odd assortment of things like the worker's tools and supplies, a stunning collection of five bicycles, assorted boxes, my bread machine, and the odd bit of furniture. We were too distraught to take photos, but you can just imagine the chaos that might exist if, for instance, your kitchen was to suddenly come alive and spew its contents all over your living room.

There was good news, however! I'd managed to pick up the beginnings of a sourdough bread starter from one of the bread stands at the market. The mother was originally spelt-based. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find spelt flour at our local ASDA. I opted for rye flour, and since I'm used to rye sourdough anyway, I've been using that. This is what my starter looks like a couple of days after it was brought home.

It smells lovely and gets lots of little funny bubbles. And that's fantastic because it means it's doing what it's supposed to! Rita and I have named it Timmy. Timmy the Sourdough Starter. Teeny Tiny Timmy. Yes, we have a somewhat peculiar habit of naming things. Somehow Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol entered the equation. So if we lovingly discuss Timmy, chances are we're referring to the sourdough starter and not some male acquaintance.

Did I mention that I've discovered my camera can take macro shots? Somehow I missed that when I failed to read the manual. Did I also mention that I've had this camera for years?

Common Loaf Bakery

These fine folks are the ones who were generous enough to give me little, baby Timmy in a jar. Based in Dunkeswell, Devon, the bakery specializes in a Mediterranean and yeast free sourdough breads as well as a selection of cookies to satisfy your sweet tooth. Many of their products use spelt and rye flours instead of the more commonly used wheat flours. Rita and I were lucky enough to get samples of their Chocolate Chip cookies and Spiced Fruit Buns. The fruit buns are one of our favorites, and we can't go to the farmer's market without saying hello to our friends at Common Loaf and picking up a few lovely buns to bring home!

For more information, you can visit Common Loaf Bakery's website

Photo and Artwork by Autumn


Portuguese Bean Stew

It is funny to realize that the expression "comfort food" can have such a different meaning all over the world. In many cases it is usually connected with the geography of where one was brought up, mingled with tradition and typical ingredients. As much as you want to add flavours to that secluded (and quite elitist) corner, there are moments when you just have to go back and taste one of the dishes that were "safe" since childhood. Today I look back at the ever present Feijoada (bean stew).
There are several different dishes with beans in Portuguese cuisine, and each and every cook has hers/his own way of cooking them, so here is a basic recipe of Portuguese bean stew made, well... Rita's style. As a side dish I made Portuguese white rice, which is a very tasty fried/steamed rice recipe that you can find below.

Feijoada (Portuguese Bean Stew)

It may serve 3


_ 2 tbs of virgin olive oil
_ 1 onion (medium)
_ 2 cloves of garlic
_ rock salt (can be replaced by any salt)
_ 1 bay leaf
_ 1 piripiri (Portuguese chili, quite spicy, can be replaced by chili powder)
_ 1 teaspoon of Pimentao doce (sundried red pepper powder, the portuguese paprika, sweeter then the Hungarian, optional)
_ 2 tbs tomato puree
_ 1/4 chorizo (Portuguese would be ideal, but Spanish will do perfectly)
_ 1/4 green cabbage (optional, really good with savoy)
_ 2 tins of red beans
_ 1 carrot
_ eggs (1 per person)
_ warm water (water that boiled the beans if you used dry beans)


Heat the olive oil on a medium size pan, add the bay leaf and the piripiri (break it in half if you are brave enough), let it heat a bit. Add the onion previously diced and stir, peel the garlic, chop it and add to the pan. When the onion starts to become transparent add the chorizo (chopped in 1 cm slices) and Pimentao Doce, stir and let fry a bit.
Add the cabbage stir and when nice and transparent, add the tomato puree and let sit on low heat for a while (you may need to add a bit of water if it is too dry).
Add the beans and cover with water, stir, take the chorizo pieces out, season and let cook in low heat for at least 1 hour (2 ideal), adding water when needed.
When half the time is gone add the carrot chopped in 1 cm round pieces and when there is a quarter left the end of the time add the chorizo.
The secret of any good bean dish is not only the slow and long cooking, but also (and very essential) a sitting time WITHOUT cooking that has to exist between the preparation of the meal and the re-heating for serving.
So after all the cooking is done, just let it seat for as much time as you can and then re-heat it, it should hit the plate piping hot, on a pile of lovely rice. Poach an egg per person and try to balance that on the top of the plate. It really doesn't have to look like the Everest, unless you are indeed very hungry.

Feijoada is said to taste even better the day after it was made, so if you have leftovers...lucky you.

Portuguese white rice

It may serve 2


_ 1 small onion
_ 1 tbs virgin olive oil
_ 1/2 bay leaf (optional)
_ dash of rock salt
_ 1 cup of Portuguese rice (get it at a Portuguese shop, the kind you're after is called carolino, basically the same as paella Spanish rice, so you can use that to replace it)
_ 1 1/2 cups of water (if you are using an electric appliance, 2 if using gas)


Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and the bay leaf, let it fry at medium heat. When nice and slightly on the "well done" side, add the rice and fry it, stirring gently until all the rice turns transparent. Add the water, season and turn the heat to high, wait until is boiling hard for a bit, switch the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Can't say an exact time for this, depends a bit on if you are using a gas or electric appliance, anyway, something between 10 to 20 minutes (after covering with lid). Yes, my cooking has suffered a bit with the change from gas to electric, but I'm managing.

Here it is in all its magnificence, just before adding the carrots.

And there you go, my take on a Portuguese staple, a comfort food good all year round, but especially lovely in the colder seasons.
Diet...? Diet who?