Menu for a Tropical Tea

Enough reminiscing! What would I finally serve for a Tropical Tea?!

Start with Pimm’s Punch (not to be confused with Pimm’s Cup). I first had Pimm’s Punch at Bettys in York. It was a hot day, we’d been walking and waiting for hours, and this hit the spot. It was so refreshing. I don’t know the secret ingredient in Pimm’s, but it’s brilliant. If you have a sense of humor, skewer the fruit garnish with a little umbrella pick!

Then, present a tropical fruit platter. Try to have the fruits all sliced similarly (and thinly): papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, honeydew, some orange slices (minus the pith), a few strawberries, and all of it sprinkled with finely grated lime peel (and maybe a little lime juice).

Follow with “sandwiches,” except you don’t have to use bread necessarily. For instance, macadamia-crusted goat cheese can be served “open faced” on Belgian endive, topped with a dollop of mango-papaya preserves. Offer at least three kinds of sandwiches, of course, for essential variety.

Scones next, made with dried apricots and lemon peel. Lemon curd and Devonshire Cream accompany the scones , of course, but instead of the traditional strawberry jam, use something tropical – like papaya butter, or pineapple preserves.

Finally, dessert! Coconut bars, shortbread cookies sprinkled with tropical sugars, banana bread tea loaf, and something(s) spectacular… like a Hawaiian twist on Eton Mess, or individual coconut crème brulees, petite Key lime tartlettes, or a spectacular pineapple-rum cake, layered with coconut cream, and topped with toasted coconut flakes.

And what beverage goes with all these delectables? Tea, of course. Offer Yorkshire Gold for the purists, pineapple-infused black tea for the adventurous, and my favorite – Rejuvenation (herbal) tea – for anyone needing some aloha spirit revival.

To set your table island-style, use anything that reminds you of palm trees, the beach, tropical flowers, Hawaiiana, and warm sunny days. You know how you never want to leave your Hawaiian vacation? Well, you won’t want to get up from your Tropical Tea table either. Sounds perfect!

In a macadamia-nutshell:

Pimm’s Punch

Tropical fruit platter

Sandwiches – Macadamia-crusted goat cheese on Belgian endive, topped with mango-papaya preserves
Cherry tomatoes stuffed with curried egg salad
Kalua pork lettuce cups with poi garnish
Mauna Kea shrimp with peanut sauce

Apricot-lemon scones with Mock Devonshire Cream, lemon curd, and pineapple preserves

Desserts – choose at least three:
Coconut bars
Shortbread cookies sprinkled with tropical sugars
Roy’s Banana-macadamia bread tea loaf
Eton Mess Aloha-style (meringues, chopped fresh pineapple, whipped cream with
chopped macadamia nuts, all topped with toasted coconut chips)
Individual coconut crème brulees
Key lime tartlettes
Pineapple-rum roulade cake, layered with coconut whipped cream

Teas – Yorkshire Gold
Pineapple-infused black tea
Rejuvenation tea
Milk and sugar cubes

Enjoy! Aloha! And mahalo nui loa for reading my blog!

Banana-Macadamia Nut Bread

banana bread pic

This makes one of the best banana breads I’ve ever tried; it always comes out moist, and it’s a cinch to make. Assembly time is 15 mins. tops. In his Roy’s Feasts from Hawaii, Roy (yes, we’re on a first-name basis here at home) says it makes a 9-inch round cake pan or loaf pan, but I always get two substantial loaves out of it, or about 6 tea-loaves (making it really easy to offer as party favors). I also took his advice once and used it for a banana bread pudding to finish off a tropical luncheon for some of my friends; it was very ono!

½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
1 lb. overripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
3 1/3 c. flour
2 eggs
1/3 c. water
½ c. chopped macadamia nuts (reserve 2 T. for the topping)
¼ c. raisins (optional)
¼ c. shredded coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or loaf pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the bananas and beat for 1 min. Sift the baking powder and baking soda into the flour and stir into the banana-butter mixture. Add the eggs and water, and beat for 1 min. Stir in the nuts, and the raisins and coconut, if desired.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35-45 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

(My notes: I always add the coconut, but never the raisins. I also always add 1 t. of vanilla extract. Also, I confess to using the dump method of mixing: using a really sturdy standing mixer – like a Kitchen Aid – I turn on the mixer and start adding the ingredients from the top of the list on down, except that I add the flour after the water. That’s it! No wonder it only takes me 15 mins. (or less) to assemble. Also instead of sprinkling chopped nuts on top (because I always forget and put them in the batter), I simply arrange some whole macadamia nuts on top.)

Crab-and-Potato-crusted Ono with Spinach and Bacon

Ono means delicious in Hawaiian, and it’s also the name of a kind of fish (commonly called wahoo on the mainland). This recipe comes straight out of Roy Yamaguchi’s fantastic cookbook, Roy’s Fish and Seafood. And yes, this ono is ono! Mahalo, Mr. Yamaguchi! Just reading the recipe seems a little daunting but most of it can be prepped ahead, so serving it to 24 guests is actually do-able. And ono.

For the fish:
½ c. warm mashed potatoes
½ c. fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell
1 T. julienned fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (7-oz.) ono fillets
1 T. canola oil

For the Creamed Spinach and Bacon:
3 slices bacon
1 t. minced shallot
1 t. minced garlic
12 oz. spinach washed and steamed
1 c. heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced, and blanched
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

To prepare the ono, put the mashed potatoes in a bowl. Add the crabmeat, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. And stir to thoroughly combine. Spread the mixture on one side of each ono fillet to form a crust. Heat the oil in a heavy nonstick sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the ono, crust side down, and sauté for 3 mins. until the crust turns golden brown. Turn the fillet over and sauté for about 2 mins. longer, or until opaque throughout.

To prepare the spinach, heat a dry, heavy sauté pan or skillet over medium heat for 2 mins. Add the bacon and sauté for 4-5 mins, until crisp. Remove and mince the bacon; set aside. Drain off all but 1 T. of the bacon fat and increase the heat to medium –high. Add the shallot and garlic. Immediately add the spinach and cool until it begins to wilt. Transfer to a colander and press with the back of a wooden spoon to release excess moisture. Chop the spinach and set aside. Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook to reduce the cream by about two-thirds or until thickened and paste-like. Add the spinach and cook for about 1 min. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

In the center of warmed serving plates, arrange the blanched carrots and top with creamed spinach. Place the crusted ono on top of the spinach. Garnish the ono with the bacon and basil.

(To thinly slice the carrots, I used a vegetable peeler and simply made ribbons; these blanched very quickly in boiling water.)

For non-fish-eating guests, I set aside some of the mashed potatoes and withheld adding the crabmeat. I used these crab-free mashed potatoes to top chicken breasts that I had pounded a bit to thin out; then I cooked them the same way as the ono fillets.

Hawaiian Dinner Party

Time flies – whether you’re having fun or not – so we might as well party! Ten years after I threw a luau to celebrate my husband’s 50th, it was time to celebrate another decade. What with kids and the economy, we haven’t gotten back to Paradise as often as we would like, so it seemed natural to try to rekindle some great memories right here at home. And so I planned another Hawaiian-themed party for my husband’s 60th; this time it was a smaller-scaled Hawaiian dinner party for just very close friends and family. But like the luau, it was delicious, and we all had a really lovely time.

My kids were too busy with school to help with invitations, and our guest list only required 14 invitations, so I did them myself:

Then I planned the menu, with a little (well, a lot of) inspiration from Roy Yamaguchi.  I used his book, Roy’s fish and seafood for the entree; and I used his Banana-Macadamia Nut Bread recipe for party favors, from Roy’s Feasts from Hawaii.   

A few days before the party day, I raided my old supplies of luau stuff to set up for the party. Beach sheets (subbed in for tablecloths), Hawaiian-inspired tumblers, umbrella picks, coconut candles, and of course, fresh tropical flowers from Island Florals, and we were ready.

E komo mai, aloha!

Hawaiian Dinner Party Menu

Mauna Kea Shrimp with Peanut Sauce
Buttermilk Peppercorn Dip with root chips and cruditées
Kalua Pork Sliders

Mesclun salad mix with macadamia-encrusted goat cheese, grilled skewered tropical fruits, and coconut balsamic vinaigrette, sprinkled with dried toasted coconut flakes

Crab and potato-crusted Ono with creamed spinach and carrot ribbons, and bacon
     (Potato-crusted chicken for non-fish eaters)
Taro bread

Carrot Cake
Coconut milk ice cream
Pineapple- and palm tree-shaped Shortbread Cookies

Pineapple Fizz Punch (with a pineapple juice ring)
Hawaiian Sun beverages
Iced tea
Tedeschi Vineyards wine
Kona coffee
Rejuvenation tea

Mauna Kea Shrimp with Peanut Sauce

Colorful, refreshing, and always a hit; this recipe comes from one of my stand-by Hawaiian cookbooks, Maui Cooks Again (by Gini Baldwin, Judy Bisgard, Judy Furtado, Zelie Harders, Carol Hartley, and Penny James).

1 lb. (about 20) medium shrimp, cleaned, deveined, and tail removed
1 t. salt
10 Chinese snow peas, blanched and split
1 small bunch mint
1 small bunch basil
1 small bunch cilantro
20 toothpicks

Cook shrimp in 1 qt. boiling water with 1 t. salt added until shrimp turn pink.
Immediately plunge shrimp into ice water. Drain and pat dry. On each shrimp, lay a mint leaf, cilantro sprig, and small basil leaf. Wrap each shrimp around the middle with a split snow pea pod and skewer with a toothpick. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with Peanut dip below.

Peanut Dip:
2 T. chunky peanut butter (use Jif or Skippy)
3 T. rice vinegar
¼ c. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. sugar
2 t. lime juice
Few drops Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Place all ingredients in a blender or processor, blend until smooth. Adjust flavors as you like.

Makes almost 1 c. dip; I usually double or triple the recipe.

Uala Maoli Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

This recipe comes from an old standard, Roana and Gene Schindler’s Hawaiian Cookbook. Even though it was originally published in 1970, it still sells in Hawaii today. This recipe is a nice alternative to sweet-potatoes-and-marshmallows at Thanksgiving.

6 large sweet potatoes (2½ lbs.), parboiled and peeled
6 T. butter
2 t. salt
6 bananas, sliced
1 c. brown sugar mixed with 1 t. cinnamon
1 can (16 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
1 c. pineapple juice mixed with 1 t. lemon juice and 1 t. chopped fresh ginger
2 T. honey

Slice sweet potatoes ½-inch thick. Grease a heatproof casserole dish with a little of the margarine. Arrange in alternate layers starting with the sweet potatoes dotted with margarine and salt, then the bananas sprinkled with brown sugar, and then the crushed pineapple. Combine the pineapple juice, lemon juice, ginger, and honey and pour over mixture. Bake in 350°F. preheated oven for 40 mins., or until browned on top. Serves 6-8.

Peanut Dip

From Maui Cooks Again, by Gini Baldwin, Judy Bisgard, Zelie Harders, Carol Hartley, and Penny James

2 T. chunky peanut butter (use Jif or Skippy)
3 T. rice vinegar
¼ c. soy sauce
1 T. sugar
2 t. lime juice
Few drops Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Place all ingrediants in a blender or processor, blend until smooth. Adjust flavors as you like. Makes almost 1 c. dip; I usually double or triple the recipe.

Hawaiian Luau Menu

Pupus started off the feast:

Sweet and sour meatballs
Bacon-wrapped macadamia nuts
Mauna Kea shrimp with peanut dip
Wonton bows with mango salsa
Five pepper dip with root chips

 

                                  Then, dinner, buffet-style:

Teriyaki chicken
Kalua pork and poi
Orange roughy lau lau with lychee salsa
Chinese pea salad
Lemon ginger salad
Hawaiian potato salad
Uala maoli sweet potato casserole
String beans with cashews
Banana bread
Mango bread
Taro bread

Dessert followed in the dining room:

Fresh tropical fruit
Coconut milk ice cream with white chocolate and macadamia nuts
Plain coconut milk ice cream
Coconut squares
Pineapple-upside-down cake
Key lime pie
pineapple shortbread cookies
Birthday (carrot) cake

       The birthday cake was inspired by the famous Halekalani carrot cake – except that I used my own favorite recipe! My two kids helped decorate the cake with souvenir fish-picks from our vacation… A sweet end to a sweet party…

Coconut Squares

(from an old, now-lost recipe in the LA Times)

1)     Preheat oven to 350° F.
2)     Grease or spray an 8” x 8” baking pan.
3)     Utilize the dump method of mixing:  turn your standing mixer on and add the following ingredients in the order listed, beating VERY well after each addition:

¼ c. unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
¼ t. salt
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
1½ t. baking powder
1 c. flour
1 c. coconutcoconut bars - batter

4)  Spread batter in pan (it will be thick) and bake for 35 mins.

coconut bars - baked

This recipe doubles well, baked in a 12” x 7” Pyrex dish.  Don’t over bake, or they will be dry!coconut bars - serving