Sunday, November 29, 2009


It's the GREAT PUMPKIN indeed.

A few months ago, our electrician gave us a 17lb french pumpkin. After a few searches online, I have decided what he gave us (he is not sure of the variety either) is a Muscade de Provence. It is said to be a traditional variety from southern France. Gorgeous, big flat fruits are reminiscent of big wheels of cheese. Fruits average 20 pounds, green when immature and ripen to a deep, rich brown when fully ripe. Deep orange flesh, very fine flavored. We had already roasted some of it, made some with more of it and still had a ton leftover. Seeing as how I am not a fan of pumpkin pie, for Thanksgiving dessert, I decided to make a pumpkin cheesecake. NO CINNAMON INVOLVED!

It was quite delicious I must say. It had all the familiarity of a pumpkin pie, but was lighter in texture and flavor. Very palette cleansing in fact.


2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick salted butter - melted


2 cups fresh pumpkin
3 (8oz) packages cream cheese at room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablesppons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract - don't you even think about using imitation...

To prepare fresh pumpkin:
Cut into cubes and steam until soft. Place into a pan, mash and cook off any extra liquid. Place into a food mill and puree. I prefer the food mill over a blender, because it gets rid of the stringy bits. Place back in pan and cook down a bit more - 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

To make crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, pecans, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Place in 350 degree oven for 7 minutes.

To make filling:

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add cooled pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into cooled crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let coo. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Serve cold with whipped cream and grated nutmeg... or if some prefer cinnamon, you could add a dash of that as well.


We hope you all had a nice and relaxing holiday, filled with delicious food. I have to admit that I started prepping the meal on Tuesday and made the dessert on the day before. I was not really in the mood for one GIANT mess on Thursday. And I was over the mess on Wednesday night with the cheesecake. In the end it was woth it all, especially the easy leftover meals the last 2 nights.
Our menu was on the small side this year... which ended up being perfect.

Shrimp Cocktail and Bloody Mary's to start
Roasted Turkey
Mashed Hawaiian Purple Heart Sweet Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple Syrup
My grandma's Classic Dressing
Thick and Creamy Gravy
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Fresh Baked Italian Bread with Herbed Butter
Pumkin Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Pecan Crust
(look for the cheesecake details in an upcoming post)

John and I usually get a turkey breast, but as I was strolling Safeway, I saw they were offering up 0-16lb Safeway brand turkey's for $3.97 with a $20 purchase. I was skeptical of the "cheap" bird at first, then my desire to penny pinch took over. I brought the frozen 13.4lb bird home and thawed it 2 days in the fridge. On Wednesday I made a brine, something I had never done before. AND I CAN SAY IT WAS A HUGE SUCCESS! I bought a nice big aluminum roasting pan, lined it with double trash bags, placed the bird in and poured the brine over. Every few hours I headed to the fridge to turn the bird since it was only submerged halfway. How do people brine larger birds? In what? who has a fridge that big?

For this brine I used:

3 cans chicken stock
1/2 gallon water
42 ice cubes

1 1/2 cups salt
3 tablespoons coarse cracked black pepper
1 branch fresh rosemary
25 sage leaves torn apart
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
zest and juice of 1 large orange, then toss in the orange
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup chopped chives

Bring all to a boil, cool for 25-30 minutes, add ice cubes to further cool. Pour over turkey and brine for 8-24 hours. I went for 20 hours. Turn bird every 2 hours during the day and once more as soon as you wake up. Remove bird and place in roasting pan adding 1 cup water. Smother with butter and pepper. Roast 3-4 hours, covering bird when it starts to get golden, usually the last hour.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I've been very lazy in regard to posting pics of my high school chum's visit in September. We had a fantastic time, when they weren't swimming with turtles and sharks as part of their newly acquired dive certification, we were dragging them inland to survey the pacific from higher climes. Click the slideshow and you can see the album at full size in Picasa.

I've known Denise since junior high where she immediately impressed me with her twisted sense of humor and love of all things John Hughes and New Wave (music that is, not french cinema). She and my cousin Anna were the first people I knew to own a Walkman. Big cred in those days. Many years and mixed tapes later, we roomed together for a bit after we got out of college and she quickly found work as an AVID editing master and Emmy-award winning producer. Always the pop culture afficionado, she is now writing stories and screenplays. Check out her blog to get a sense of her wit and humor, Irrelevent Monkey.

Monday, November 09, 2009


It's star fruit season, although a few months later than last year. I clearly remember the last of the star fruit being picked the day we got on a plane back in September 2008. We are as they say here in Hawai'i, "CHOKE STAR FRUIT". So what else do we do, besides sit under the tree, pluck them from the branches and eat them right there, the juice sugary sweet after being warmed by the sun? We make dessert. We also get a little upset at all the fallen fruit on the ground. But it does keep the birds happy.

Last week was a batch of banana/star fruit jam and this week…
~ Star Fruit Crumble
~ Star Fruit Upside Down Cake
~ Chicken Star Fruit Stir Fry

And there are plenty other star fruit dishes we aim to try over the next few weeks.

Star Fruit Upside Down Cake:
Was and slice starfruit, melt butter in a cake pan, sprinkle in brown sugar, lay in star fruit, pour batter on top.

You will want to make sure you bang the pan on the counter a few times to make the batter settle into all the crevices. cover with a cookie sheet first to avoid batter splatter. Cake is done when golden and all gooey brown on the edges.

Place a cookie sheet or plate on top of cake and flip over. I used a cookie sheet since I used a 9x13 pan (you will need to make 1 1/2 batches for this size pan.) Serve warm. Place in fridge. To reheat, place in 175 degree oven while eating dinner. Turn off when done eating and leve in oven. Cake will be warm when ready for dessert. I have also placed in a non-stick skillet with 1-2 teaspoons water, cover and heat on low for 5-10 minutes.

Here is a great link to "choke" STAR FRUIT RECIPES.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Last week, John and I were invited by Anne over at one of our favorite "getaways" - Prêt à Voyager - to participate in an interview segment called Boarding Pass. We had a great time rummaging through not only digital photo's, but some old images from something called film. Mahalo Anne, for allowing us to look back at some of our favorite travel memories.

Read Conn's interview here.

Read John's interview here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Today we learned that MAUI LAND & PINEAPPLE will not be planting or growing anymore pineapple here in Maui starting immediately. This is news that literally made me sick to my stomach. I cannot imagine our drive into town or up Baldwin Avenue and not seeing the pineapple fields as they change from silvery green, to purpley green, to golden green and smell the sweet fragrance as the warms sun releases that signature aroma. This surely means the land will be sold off and developed. I still can't grasp it. This of course means we will be getting pineapple shipped in from South America and will of course cost much more than it does now.

The pineapple fields along the Hana Highway in Ha'iku. When this field is full and ripe, the aroma is amazing and you literally breathe in as deep as you can so as not to miss one second of the experience.

And just last week we learned that GAY & ROBINSON is ending sugar cane production on Kauai. The closure leaves Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on Maui as the only sugar producer in the state. And if we loose that… it will be a sad day here.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. here on Maui.
No, it's not pretty, but it is full of old world charm.

So we better get to town and stock up, cut those tops off and get them in the ground if we want to keep fresh Hawaiian pineapples on the menu here at CFC. It takes at least 18 months to get a pineapple.. slower when not pumped full of fertilizers. Here are a few of our "award winners" at different stages.