And I Can Cook, Too

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May 6, 2006

Off To The Races

The morning after dinner at Little Village, Walter, Kim, and I dragged our sorry asses out of bed and stumbled from our hotel room to the first sports bar we could find. We arrived at Kelly O’Tooles, and had just enough time to place our orders and our bets before the 11:30 start of the Kentucky Derby. Screwdrivers and Guinness provided the hair of the dog and Fish and Chips and Steak and Guinness Pie gave us the grease to nurse our hangovers as Barbaro raced into horsey history. Kim passed her $20 to Walter and I smugly reminded him that we share a checking account.

After the race, poor Walter went off to spend a few hours in the office while Kim and I took off for the pool. Upon our arrival we discovered that the shadiest place to sit, surprisingly, was the bar. A seven hundred year old bartender with a Virginia Slim stuck to her lips and an attitude that let you know she shat bigger than you reluctantly poured our drinks. As the afternoon wore on, the bar proved an excellent place to chat about upcoming travel, study for my history final, and watch the bartender pretend not to hear people as they came to the end of the bar where she was not currently standing and try to order a drink. Just as we thought we had won her over, Kim asked for a bag of potato chips and the bartender responded by putting the entire rack of chips in the cupboard and locking the door. Right about then a man approached the bar and asked what time it closed. Pointing to a sign with the same information, the bartender replied, “We close at 5. Last call is 4:30.” She then immediately began breaking down the bar. It was 4. She continued to close down the bar until every last item had been wiped up, put away, and locked in. When she was finished at 4:15, she turned with a glare that simply dared us to order more drinks. We have never been ones to shirk away from a dare.

At 4:20, I casually mentioned that we hadn’t bothered to let Walter know where we had gone. With the words “If he can’t guess that we went to the pool bar, he doesn’t know us nearly as well as he should” still hanging in the air, Walter arrived. Lighting another Virginia Slim and sighing with irritation, the bartender allowed him to place an order for last call. Walter was on a winning streak.

Monday, May 22, 2006

May 5, 2006

Art Enthusiast Bar None

To kick off Kim’s birthday weekend in style, the gang arranged to meet at HASR Wine Bar for a quick tasting, to be followed by strolling the streets for Honolulu’s monthly First Friday Art Walk and dinner at Chinatown’s Little Village. Kim and I arrived at the very crowded wine bar to find Walter and Jen smashed into a corner, Jiah slurringly recommending the tequila tasting, and Big Red wondering aloud who he had to **** to get a drink around here. A rather lengthy wait in line resulted in an elbow space at the bar from which I could pass tastings to Kim. As the increasing crowd moved Kim further and further from arms length we decided to move on to the equally crowded Bar 35. Fortunately for us, Big Red is appropriately named. He commanded a 2-foot by 2-foot space at the bar, and we huddled in. Several rounds of dirty martinis later, and it was time for dinner at Little Village. Over Peking duck,, lettuce wraps, green onion pancakes, honey walnut shrimp, 5 bottles of wine, and too much damn eggplant, it dawned on us that we’d managed to avoid seeing a single piece of art.

After dinner, Walter, Kim and I retired to the Waikiki penthouse we’d checked into for the weekend. Over yet more wine, we reminisced about wacky antics from weekends in hotels passed. All was well until Walter determined the necessity of re-living “nude on the lanai”.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Lettuce Wraps

Iceberg Lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and dried
2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 tbsp. Oyster Sauce
1 tbsp. Sherry
1 tbsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Sesame Oil
1 tbsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
1 tbsp. Garlic, minced
½ c. Green Onions, finely chopped
1 lb. Beef, Pork, or Turkey, ground
1 can Water Chestnuts, chopped
1 tbsp. Cooking Oil

Cornstarch Slurry (cornstarch and water mixed together until it is the consistency of heavy cream) Use as necessary.

Bring a frying pan to medium heat. Add the cooking oil and heat. Add the ground meat and sauté until cooked through and just starting to brown. Remove the meat from the pan. Drain all but 1 tbsp. of the remaining fat. Add the garlic, ginger, and green onions and sauté until fragrant. In a separate bowl, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sherry, sugar, sesame oil, and sugar, and blend. Add the mix to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the water chestnuts and cooked meat. Simmer for 10 minutes. If the mixture needs thickening, bring it to a boil and add cornstarch slurry, 1 tbsp. at a time. Be sure to bring the mixture back to a boil for a few minutes after each addition.

To serve, spoon a bit of the meat mixture into individual lettuce leaves, and fold the lettuce over to wrap it all up.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

April 29, 2006

A fabulous pair.

Tammy and Kenny invited us around for the inaugural dinner in their newly remodeled kitchen. Kenny had spent the week preparing Moroccan food, and Tammy had a bottle of Dom she’d been looking for an excuse to open. Walter and I decided to throw a bottle of Tattinger we’d been holding into the mix, and Kim decided to tag along. My long held belief that champagne is the perfect pairing for anything was upheld as we delighted in marinated olives, cumin and cardamom dusted hard boiled eggs, lamb and lentil strew, potatoes in spicy butter, chicken with olives, and honey sesame candies. I consider myself officially challenged…

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

April 28, 2006

When you help others, you can’t help helping yourself.

Walter, Kim and I joined Randy and Lora at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for Lora’s annual Rotary Club fundraiser. After a quick tour of the silent auction our mission was clear: win “An Evening of Bagpiping” by any means necessary. In addition we vowed to up as many bids as possible. Dinner was served, and along with it, unlimited complimentary champagne.

Walter’s take: an estate planning package and a seven-dollar poster of Picasso. Kim’s take: a massage and hair products package and horseback riding lessons. Lora’s take: an evening of bagpiping, a diamond pendant, a pearl choker, a fabulous pink leather purse, gift certificates to Buzz's Steakhouse and The Chef's Table, an Italian wine basket, a wine bottle with carrier,
parking for future Rotary meetings, a Lanikai Bath and Body basket, and a wooden bowl.

Those wacky Rotarians sure know how to inspire upping the bid.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

April 26, 2006

Rachael Ray Ain’t Got Nothin’ on K

As a final project for a class I’d been taking, I decided to give a speech about making a cheap easy dinner while making the dinner in front of the class. The only catch was the seven-minute time limit. “Make a curry,” Kim said, as though she made seven-minute meals all the time. “With couscous. And wilted spinach. It’ll be easy.” I hate Kim.

Several rounds of spattered curry, flying spinach leaves, over-the-time-limit rehearsals later, I arrived for class weighted down a portable stove, microwave, frying pans, tupperwares full of ingredients, and a bus tub that sufficed as the kitchen sink. I set up, turned on my stove, and began to speak. And cook.

While my pan was heating, I put water in the microwave. Then I sliced pork and onions and threw them in the pan with a little oil. While that was going, I added 1 tbsp. of curry paste and 1 cup of coconut milk to the pan, and stirred until it was completely blended. Then I removed the water from the microwave, added it to couscous, and covered the bowl. While it was steeping, I checked the curry for flavor and added salt, sugar, and pepper. While waiting for the curry to finish, I cut my lemon. I removed the curry from the burner and replaced it with a clean pan. I tossed in spinach and the juice squeezed from my lemon. While the spinach wilted, I plated the couscous and curry. I added the spinach to the plate, and dinner was was done. So was my speech. My time? 7 minutes, 5 seconds. My grade? A. I love Kim.

Pork in Red Curry with Onions and Chinese Peas
Wilted Baby Spinach with Lemon Juice


2 Tbsp. Red Curry Paste
1 12oz can Coconut Milk
¾ c. Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
6 oz. Chinese Peas
8 oz. Pork Loin, thinly sliced
Salt, Pepper, Sugar to taste
Cooking oil or spray

Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, and pork, and sauté for a minute or two. Add the curry paste and coconut milk, stir to blend, and bring to a boil. Add the peas, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through. Taste for seasoning, add salt, pepper, or sugar if necessary.

1/3 c. Couscous
1/2 c. Water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil. In a bowl, pour the boiling water over the couscous. Cover, and allow sitting for 5 minutes. Open and fluff the couscous with a fork. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

4 oz. Baby Spinach
Squeeze Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add the lemon juice. Add the spinach and sauté until the spinach is just starting to wilt, about 45 seconds. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

April 27, 2006

Pina Coladas and Kraft 2% American Processed Cheese Food Singles don’t mix.