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Sunday, November 05, 2006 

Countdown to T-Day

I have always loved Thanksgiving. The brisk fall air with leaves falling from the trees and often some snowflakes to accompany. The sound of the "tap. tap. tap." of the maple syrup dripping. The smells. The house crowded with people. The various dishes, including the obligatory Mince Meat pie for my dad. And, then of course the memories of Tryptophan induced semi-comas in front of the TV watching the football games. We were always required to yell for the Big Blue M if they were playing. My parents were from Michigan, of course.

Sunset Magazine this month as an interesting take on Thanksgiving meals, customs and season....a somewhat warmer, "exotic" take. Hawaiian. But, of course, a multitude of cultures (Native Hawaiian, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, etc.) blend to make some very interesting and delicious dishes. (Sans the SPAM, thank goodness...) And, I'm kinda diggin' it!

In the islands, the continental American Thanksgiving coincides with a very Hawaiian season of sharing and gratitude called Makahiki. For ancient Hawaiians, this period — spanning the appearance and fading of the Pleiades star cluster during the ho'oilo, or cooler rainy season, from October to February — was devoted to peace, feasting, dancing, and games.

These days, Makahiki is a growing trend as people continue to rediscover native Hawaiian culture. A time for cultural and spiritual renewal, today's Makahiki echoes the past with school games, surf competitions, organized walks, and feasts. It's a reminder to native Hawaiians and all Pacific Islanders of their roots. "We give thanks to the place that provides for us," says Maile Meyer, who grew up on Oahu. "We acknowledge the land and the ocean that nourish our bodies and souls."

Macadamia Nut Tart
This buttery tart has just enough sweet filling to hold the nuts together, no more. Prep and Cook Time: about 1 hour, plus 1 hour to cool.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus 2 tbsp. melted butter
1 large egg yolk, plus 1 large egg
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/3 cups unsalted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a food processor, whirl flour, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Add cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and pulse to combine. Add 2 to 3 tbsp. ice water, pulsing until mixture begins to come together in a ball.

2. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 9-in. round tart pan with 1-in. sides. Prick bottom of tart with a fork and chill in freezer 15 minutes. Bake crust until medium golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes, and remove from oven (leave oven on).

3. Meanwhile, in a standing electric mixer on high speed, beat whole egg, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt until pale and ribbony, 7 to 10 minutes. Beat in melted butter, corn syrup, and rum.

4. Pour sugar mixture into tart shell and sprinkle with macadamia nuts. Bake tart until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool tart on a wire rack at least 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla or ginger ice cream, if you like.

Kate Washington
Sunset, NOVEMBER 2006

Don't forget to stop by our fellow Foodies from The Islands and wish them "Mahalo!"

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