Saturday, November 30, 2013

KABOCHA - KAKI PIE (Japanese Pumpkin FUYU Persimmon Pie)

There is the Libby's canned Pumpkin, Costco Pumpkin pie, Marie Calendar's Pumpkin pie, and here is my KABOCHA-KAKI Pie (Japanese Pumpkin FUYU Persimmon Pie).  
My brother is a great backyard farmer.  He got his green-thumbs like our mother.  Thanks to them, we get our fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, oranges, lemons, various peaches, including Japanese Pumpkins - KABOCHA seasonally.  And one of the KABOCHA even wanted to have a higher position in the garden to force others to be its subject, and raised itself high off the ground to grow on the roof.   And I gobbled it up, anyways.

I love Japanese KABOCHA.  Whenever there is Tempura vegetables, I always looked for the tempura "IMO" - Japanese sweet potato.  But it's expensive, and all I can find at the all-you-can-eat buffet is the tempura potato or carrot.  Then, they started to serve tempura KABOCHA.  It's delicious.  There are many experienced foodies who know how to prepare KABOCHA, please listen to them, rather than from me.  I found out how to prepare them by experimenting on my own, then, later with some tips from my sister.   Oh, well, I should have asked first.  But it's funner to figure things out a bit yourself, first.   
First, KABOCHA is a squash.  I figured its density is not much different than the A-Corn Squash, so I cut it open, clean out the center.  Wash out the seeds and save them for the next crop.   **Don't forget to keep saving some good heirloom seed for future planting.   I could wrap it up in aluminum foil with some butter, roast them, and serve.  Easy, right? But cutting the KABOCHA open is a challenging ordeal.  In its raw form, KABOCHA is as tough and hard armored as armadillo, likely.  Although I have never cut an Armadillo before (a good thing.)  You need a good heavy sharp knife and Japanese utility knife to slice it open.  Then, slice it up.  Put in Heavy Duty Zip Lock bag and freeze them.  For lunch, take out, microwave it covered with a tablespoon of water or boil them in a pot with your favorite broth or water.  It cooks and become tender quickly.
Then, I got thinking after my sore hands, to roast them whole in my covered turkey roasting pan.  Great idea!  I washed it clean and place them in the roasting pan with some water till fork tender.

  The bigger KABOCHA is meatier.
It was a good idea.  Then, I found out that my friend does that too.   You scoop out the center -- seeds and fibre.  Scoop out the KABOCHA into a bowl.   It's time to make it into pie.  
Tip:  Prepare
Tip:  Prepare pie crust first 30 minutes before preparing the pumpkin filler.  Because the pie shells require refrigeration - rest - before being rolled out.
5+ C of mashed KABOCHA fresh
1 C heavy cream
1 egg
1/2 C sugar
a Pinch each of spices:   cloves, nutmeg; 1/2 tsp of Ceylon Cinnamon (not Saigon Cinnamon)
3 C Chopped FUYU KAKI
2 Tbsp of Hemps Hearts
Mix all together in a mixer.  Set aside.  Roll out the pie shells.
Preheat oven to 375'F. 
PIE CRUSTS:   *** Prepare pie crusts 30 minutes before the filler.
One recipe for two flaky pie crust.   Roll one out and transfer to a pie pan.  Prick gently the bottom of the pie shell with a fork.
Tip:  Brush the bottom pie crust with beaten egg white.  This will keep the pie crust  crisp.

Tip:  Use Forks to mash butter into butter to keep butter in its form.
Roll the flaky buttery dough between the plastic for ease of rolling and to keep from sticking onto the rolling pin and to avoid extra flouring to prevent tough dough.

 Use your favorite cutter to cut out patterns to decorate the top of the pie.   If you don't have one, just do a free hand with knife.  Be sure incorporate and use the extra trimmings left as well.

Brush with egg wash.  Bake till crusts are golden brown and knife inserted comes out 'not wet'.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sweetest Fall Strawberries

I keep on saying, the last crop from my garden, but the recent median November temperatures of 74'F has been wonderful for my strawberries.  It's been growing and dividing and flowering and fruiting, and I have been picking them and eating them.  Best of all, they are larger and tastier than the spring or summer groups.  My Heirloom Organic Romano Tomatoes just turn red in the past few days.   And I checked the strawberry patches this morning, and there are still more to come.

Are your fruits in the garden doing the same things?

Good Tasting Avocado Honey Lime Smoothie

The last few time I went to the Viet-Namese noodle house, I ordered this smoothie made of Avocado.  It tastes really good.  I don't know if they use the real avocado or powder, as many of the Asian Bubble Drinks today is made from Powder mix rather than the fresh fruits like they did.   So, I decided to make one for myself at home.
The first one didn't turn out well, it became slushy drink rather than smooth.
This one turned out pretty good.

By the way, when you buy Avocado in a bulk, and they are ripening all at the same time, Cut them up and Freeze them.  If their purpose is for the smoothie, they will be perfect for that use.  And they stay fresh green until use.
Serves:  2
Tools:  Blender, Long stem spoon, spatula
1 to 2  Medium Avocado, just starting to ripen, peeled, and sliced
1 to 2 medium size Apple.   Fuji or Granny or any ones you like - peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 C Apple juice
1 lime - juiced
1 Cup crushed ice
1 to 2 TB local Honey

One or two avocado or apple depends on their size, but I am sure the extra will be enjoyed by anyone.
Place them in a blender and blend till smooth.

Freeze with Avocado Pit in the Heavy Duty Freezer Zip Lock Bag.
 Blended Avocado will look so smooth and delicious!

Healthier Texas Bourbon Pecan Almond Bars

There are so much energy calorie packed ingredients in this recipe that I am always tempted to cut sugar or butter out.  This time, I added home made coconut flakes and Organic Hemp Hearts as substitute filler.
Then, I made half Almond and then the other half Pecan to offer choice to friends who may be allergic to almond or pecan or their like or dislike.
It turned out pretty good.
INGREDIENTS and Procedure:
1-1/2 Sticks Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar
2 C Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
8 eggs
5 C Brown Sugar + 1 C Truvia
1/8 C or 1/4 C Bourbon -- depending on your family's taste
6 TB melted Butter
1 TB Vanilla
1 C Flour
1 tsp salt
1 C coconuts flakes, home made  
1 C Organic Hemps 
1 C Pecan halves, broken
1 C Almond slices, broken
Use Paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 min; add sugar, beat 1 min; Add flour & salt; mix slow till crumbly.
Line the bottom of the 12x17" baking sheet with buttered parchment paper.  Press the mixture down to the sheet. Roll down gently with the rolling pin like the ones in this picture would do also.  
Bake at 350'F, rotate the pan at 5 minutes.
While the bottom crust is baking till light brown for 10 min, mix the filling.   I didn't want to bake the bottom crust too long because I noticed the last couple of times when I baked them in my large gas oven, the crust tasted a bit too done.
Whisk eggs & sugar in a large bowl until blended.  In a separate bowl - Stir in Bourbon, butter, vanilla, flour, salt, coconut.  Pour them into blender bowl and mix well - or by hand with rubber spatula.
  Crush the nuts slightly so they are broken.  Set them aside to sprinkle on top of the filling later.
 Crushing the nuts a bit helps cutting the bars out more smoothly.
 I don't like the store bought coconut flakes because they are waaaaay tooooo sweet for nothing.
1 C coconut flakes
 1 C Organic Hemp Hearts
 Mix them all into the butter sugar, flour, and egg mixture, Except the nuts.
Fill the baked crust and sprinkle with nuts.
 Sprinkle half with pecans, the other half with almonds.
 Press the nuts gently down a bit to cover with the filling.
 Bake until set.  350'F
Cool at least 30 minutes before cutting with Pizza cutter.