Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Kitchen catastrophes

November 9th, 2015

My poor kid. I know she's very smart and yet I don't always listen to her.

In my haste to get everything done I have sometimes almost fed her some messed up things: Hot dog tea and maple syrup juice.

Someone made her a hot dog. It could have been me or her dad, but at this point I forget. (Typical me.)

The water was sitting on the stove in the pot, and had gone cold. Background: every evening I prepare a saucepan of 40 oz. of water for my tea to take to work. I drink that during the show. Therefore, seeing a pot of water on the stove is common in our house.

Olivia asked me to make her hot water and honey for her store throat. I warmed the water and thought it smelled faintly odd, but I couldn't be sure because she had given me her cold and I couldn't smell.

I brought it over to her and asked her to check it. "Smells weird."

"Are you sure? Maybe it's because you've been eating menthol cough drops," I questioned.

Good thing her dad was home and emerged just then. "Claus, is this weird water?"

He smelled it. "This is hot dog water," he pronounced.

I don't know why I doubt my kid.

Second instance. We had breakfast out and she never can finish her waffles, so she requested a to-go box. The waiter brought it with a kid's plastic cup with a lid. I thought he kindly put her unfinished apple juice inside.

Later, she asked me for something to drink. "Here's your apple juice," I offered.

Once again, I was hurrying to get something or other accomplished and half focused.

"Mommy? This looks weird."

I peered inside the cup. It was dark, but maybe it was a shadow. "Just drink it. It'll be fine."

She sipped it. "Mommy. This is really thick."

*sigh* Can I have just one minute without interruptions?

"Let me see." I walk over and move the cup around to see what she is complaining about. She was right. It was very viscous.

Why would apple juice do that? Unless... oh... yeah... it's maple syrup.

"Oops. Sorry. I didn't realize the waiter gave us syrup, too. You were right."

So now I get a lot of heat around this kitchen when I serve people things that don't look quite right. I've lost my credibility for feeding people foods that are actually as advertised.

Grilled Cheese Tart

October 26th, 2015

I don't mean to brag, but I'm kind of a genius. I just invented a new sandwich and I'm sure it's going to buoy me right to the top of the James Beard Awards or at the very least, maybe get me an email from the Star-Advertiser's food reviewer Nadine Kam to say, good job. (Aim high.)

I give you... the Grilled Cheese Tart!

I give you... the Grilled Cheese Tart!

It's a grilled cheese sandwich with a Pop-Tart warmed in the middle alongside the cheese. It's so good, it's stupid.

It was late one night when I had a craving to eat something (and this story does not involve substance usage!), and I was making myself a grilled cheese sandwich when I saw one of my kid's Pop-Tart boxes on the counter.

Hmm, I thought. That sounds good, too. Unable to decide if I wanted now to eat the sandwich or the tart, it occurred to me I could have both!

Why choose? This is America, and I can make choices without limitations on class, caste, religion, race, or crass culinary hankerings! I can have it all!

photo 2

So I had it all. Right on my plate. I plopped that strawberry bad boy on top of the nicely melting cheese and nestled it between two slices of hotly buttered bread.

I felt rebellious against the snobby gourmet revolution. I felt like a firebrand for Best Loved Processed American Foods From The 70s.

You see, the bread was soft and mushy Wonder Bread, perfect for lapping up all the melted butter and without all those trendy grains for fiber. The cheese was Kraft Singles, deliciously uniform and plasticine in its wrapper, and unnaturally orange. And then there's, of course, the Pop-Tart that will stay fresh for ten years until one opens that metallic encasing.

I'm raging against the food machine. I'm feeling sexy! Alive!

I bit into it. I was a little hesitant to find out if I'd just created an atrocity or a marvel, and my taste buds told me with victory that it was the latter.

It's the savory of the cheese juxtaposed against the sweet of the pastry jam. It's tasty!

I was so excited, I went into the bedroom to tell my husband what I'd created. He, with his Michelin aspirations and Zagat bible. He didn't laugh at me. He said he'd like to try it, too!

We looked online to see if this was a whole new invention, and it seems to be. There's sandwiches made using Pop-Tarts as the bread, but there are no sandwiches I found with Pop-Tarts as the filling.

I'm so super impressed with myself! When the James Beard Award committee calls, just let them know I'm working on my next masterpiece. It involves Spam.

Love Bites, LLC

October 9th, 2015

Olivia and I made some mean butterscotch pudding. It had real vanilla bean seeds and everything. It tastes as silky and rich as creme brûlée, but with a buttery finish.


We were very proud of ourselves and decided to create a fictitious bakery name for our mother-daughter baking team. After vetting a few ideas, we settled on Love Bites.

This became a shorthand for all activities mother-daughter, as in: "Love Bites is watching a movie!" or "What shall Love Bites do now?"

I mentioned this to my friend Kalei. "LOVE BITES?! As in, hickey?!" she sputtered.

"What? As in, small bites of delicious dessert made with love. Love in every bite," I returned.

"NO. Love bites is slang for hickey. Do you not know this???" she retorted.

"Are you serious? Really? I didn't know this! Does everyone know this?!" I exclaimed, grabbing my phone to search it online. Yep. It's there on Wikipedia.

"Yes. I told you so. You have to come up with a more appropriate company name, or people will be placing orders for cakes shaped like body parts," she lectured. "Geez. What are you teaching our kid?"

"I didn't know! Fine. Let's come up with something else. What about Love Bakes?" I suggested.

"Love Bakes???" she sniffed. I could feel her exasperation across the phone line.

"What, is that too close to Love's Bakery?" I asked.

"No! It sounds like marijuana. Now you're selling medical edibles?" she sighed.

"How is that like marijuana?" I quizzed.

"'Bakes?' People say they're baked when they're stoned," she prodded.

I didn't think I was this sheltered, but this conversation is making me think otherwise.

"Can't you just do like (your cousin) Janice (Hori) and have something simple and straightforward like Hawaiian Pie Company? Why do you have to get all creative?" questioned Kalei.

"Creative is fun," I defended. "How boring is 'Olivia & Mommy's Cupcakery'?"

"Apparently, you are inappropriate when you are creative," decided Kalei. "You are so lucky you have me."

I had to break the news to Olivia that we couldn't use Love Bites anymore because... someone else took that company name. She was bummed and made sad faces.

We are now thinking about a new fake business name that doesn't imply anything else inappropriate. Got any suggestions?

Made with love... and butter

September 28th, 2015

Olivia loves grilled cheese sandwiches. I made her one the other night and for the first time in all these years she paid attention to how I did it.

"You put butter in it?!" she marveled. "You make the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world!"

I served her the plate and she continued, "Yours is even better than Daddy's!"

Well, Claus is a great cook, but I've seen him sometimes toast cheese in between bread as a lazy method. He's tired. I get it. She still eats it.

My girl went on and on about how I'm the best cook ever, etcetera. (I'm "eating" it up, LOL.)

I told her, "It's also because I cook it with love. I love cooking for my sweetie!"

"Yours is still better than Daddy's," she insisted.

"He cooks with love, too," I reminded, trying to get her to cut her dad some slack. He's a great dad.

"That's fine," she determined. "He cooks with love, but he's not cooking with butter."

2016 World Gelato Championships

September 16th, 2015

A Hawaii man is leading the charge to bring home the gold in the upcoming World Gelato Championships. Il Gelato Hawaii owner Dirk Koeppenkastrop, Ph.D. is Captain of Gelato Team USA.

His team members include:
John S. Hui, CEPC, AAC – Team Manager (Corporate Pastry Chef, Pebble Beach Resorts, CA)
Michele Pompei – Lead Team Pastry Chef  (Baking & Pastry Instructor, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Art, WA)
Tim Brown, B.A. –Team Pastry Chef (Baking & Pastry Instructor, Johnson & Wales University, RI)
Chris Foltz –World Champion Ice Carver (Culinary Instructor, Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, OR)

2014: Chef Dirk & organizer Sergio Dondole

2014: Chef Dirk & organizer Sergio Dondole. Courtesy: Dirk Koeppenkastrop, Ph.D.

The USA is one of fourteen countries from around the world. The five-member team formed under the American Culinary Federation Chapter from Oregon. “We are very excited to have world class and competitive chefs, and one of the world’s best ice carvers on our team,” says Koeppenkastrop. He's referring to Foltz, who holds three ice carving and four wood carving world champion titles.

Since 2006, the USA has participated in seven gelato world competitions. Gelato Team USA received “Best Gelato Cake” award in 2006 and “Best Gelato Tub” award in 2008.

Team USA received the International “Best Taste Award” and the “People’s Choice Award” in 2012.

2014 Cake and ice carving. Courtesy: Dirk Koeppenkastrop, Ph.D.

2014 Cake and ice carving. Courtesy: Dirk Koeppenkastrop, Ph.D.

The World Gelato Championship, a prestigious event in the culinary industry, is held every two years as part of the International Exhibition of Artisan Gelato, Confectionery and Bakery Goods in Rimini, Italy. The Championships will take place from January 23 - 25, 2016.

The countries competing for the world title are Argentina, Australia, Chile, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Each team will choose a theme, which has to be reflected in seven different championship tests including a decorated “coppa” (sundae), gelato cake, four assorted miniature chocolate gelatos, an entrée serving a savory gelato, a center piece croccante sculpture, an ice sculpture, and its final presentation.

2014 Gelato cone. Courtesy: Dirk Koeppenkastrop, Ph.D.

2014 Gelato cone. Courtesy: Dirk Koeppenkastrop, Ph.D.

The entire contest is streamed live in Italian and English.

When Maestro Gelatiere Koeppenkastrop isn't busy winning culinary titles, he's working at his three gelaterias in Kahala Mall, Kalihi and Haleiwa. He is no stranger to fame, either.

Il Gelato Hawaii served its Haupia Coconut Gelato at the final APEC conference hosted by President Barack Obama, and its Mango Sorbetto to the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet when His Holiness was here in 2012. Koeppenkastrop also competed in the last championships for Team USA in which its theme was 'aloha spirit.'