Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ravioli Making Party

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a ravioli making party hosted by a family friend. Bethany had just returned from culinary school and was throwing a ravioli making party. She was making ravioli to give away as Christmas gifts but wanted to invite people to join in on the fun.

Beth had three fillings prepared for us: butternut squash and macadamia, mushroom and mozzarella cheese, and spinach, mint, and fontina cheese.

Because Beth had already prepared the pasta dough, all we had to do was assemble the ravioli. The first step was to roll homemade dough through the pasta machine. We started at the widest setting and rolled it through twice on each setting (for a total of five settings). We then put the flattened dough onto the table and cut out several circles.

We then squeezed a dollop of filling onto the circle...

and topped it off with another circle and pressed it closed.

The finished products were delicious! I cooked each of them up with a delicate sauce so that the flavors of the ravioli were not overshadowed. My family and boyfriend loved them! My favorite was the butternut squash, while my dad and boyfriend liked the mushroom. I think my boyfriend loved it so much that he bought me a pasta maker for Christmas!! (Nah, he knows how much fun I had making them. I’m so lucky to have such a thoughtful boyfriend!)

I'm so glad that I was able to experience this! Although it was a lot of work, it was a ton of fun, with a tasty reward at the end! I can't wait to make some fresh pasta of my own!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Roy Yamaguchi

I had the opportunity to meet Chef Roy Yamaguchi at one of the Holiday Craft Fairs at the Blaisdell Center. I went to the booth to sample some of his salad dressing and the lady demonstrating it said that Roy himself was there to sign bottles. I feel so silly, but I have to admit, I was star-struck for the first time in my life! He’s a very talented chef, and each time that I’ve visited his restaurant I’ve enjoyed every aspect of it!

By the way, my mom bought his dressings are they're all very tasty!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Red Wine Poached Pears with Mascarpone Filling

I wanted to make a special dessert for my dad's birthday so I decided to try Michael Chiarello's recipe for wine poached pears. It turned out to be an elegant way to end a special dinner!

Recipe from

6 firm Bartlett pears
1 bottle red wine
1 vanilla bean, whole
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 cups sugar
2 (8 ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Peel pears and leave stem intact. In a large saucepan, bring wine and an equal amount of cold water to a simmer. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and add to wine and water mixture. Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and sugar, to taste. Add pears to liquid and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender. Cool pears in wine mixture to room temperature. You can refrigerate them in the poaching liquid until you're ready to fill them.
Remove stems from pears and set stems aside. Core pears with an apple corer, leaving pear whole.

Whisk together mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, pinch cinnamon and powdered sugar until smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag, or if you do not have one, use wax paper tightly wrapped into a cone with the corner snipped off. Pipe filling into cored pears and finish by putting the stems gently into the mascarpone filling on top of the pears.

Bring sauce up to a simmer and reduce by half. Add butter to reduced sauce and stir until combined. Spoon generously over pears. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sam Choy's Diamond Head Restaurant

In Hawaii, Sam Choy is one of our famous celebrity chefs, with several cookbooks, an old local cooking show, and several appearances on the Food Network. Sam Choy has restaurants across the state, but his Diamond Head location is the most upscale. When the girls and I were looking for an affordable place to celebrate Christmas together we decided upon Sam Choy’s for the “early bird” special. This consisted of a four-course meal for only $30. With all of us on a budget, we thought this would be a great way to have a fine-dining experience without the high costs. So the girls and I got all dressed up and ready to celebrate the holidays, but to our dismay, me were extremely disappointed with the entire experience. It’s a good thing that we had each other because the only good part of the evening was the company!

I feel that I don’t even need to explain the food in great detail, because it was all so salty and rich. The soup was cold, the salad was drenched in dressing and topped with chewy beef, and the fish was smothered in a salty paste that looked unappetizing and tasted like a big salty mess. The dessert was a crème brulee, which was not bad, but nothing special. Ordering off the early bird menu should not be an excuse for providing a meal that is substandard.

The worst part of the night was the service. We spent way too much time waiting for our food and they mixed up our orders several times. One of my girlfriends ordered the chicken on the early bird menu, but instead they brought a different chicken entrée (that did not include the soup, salad or dessert). They did not refill our water and the waiter did not check up on us even once. We must have waited about 30 minutes just to get the check! When the waiter came with the check, he asked if we had enjoyed our evening, and I just had to tell him what I thought. When I explained that I was disappointed with the service, he responded by saying that he too was “disappointed” that he was not able to “spend more time with us.” He and the manager gave their apologies because they were understaffed for the night. They said that if we came back another time, they would be sure to “take care of us.” What that entails, I do not know, but I surely will not be returning to that restaurant again!

I was thoroughly disappointed that a place known for representing the cuisine of the Hawaiian Islands provided such a terrible experience. Being understaffed is no excuse, and we were left feeling neglected and hungry on a night that was supposed to be a celebration. This was not our ideal way to celebrate the holidays.

Sam Choy's Diamond Head Restaurant
449 Kapahulu Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815