O’o Farm Salad Dressing 300x225 Lunch on a Farm in Upcountry MauiBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I was food editor of the Honolulu Advertiser before Hawaii Regional Cuisine came into fruition. In those days, the best restaurants in the Islands boasted European chefs cooking with imported ingredients.

Never mind that every backyard was burgeoning with papayas, mangoes, passion fruit, avocados, lychee and other tropical treasures. Never mind that Hawaii was a melting pot of culinary influences—in addition to native Hawaiian: Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipino, Korean, Puerto Rican and many other immigrants called Hawaii home.

All of these assets were ignored in the old days of Hawaii’s haute cuisine. Continue Reading »

Food Processor Pizza Dough 300x225 It’s (Homemade) Pizza Night!By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Most families have pizza night, a night when everybody can kick back and relax, with pizza delivery doing all the work.

Having been a busy mom myself, in those years when we had two growing boys to feed, I get it. So I hate to bring up another level of work for pizza night.

But here’s the thing: it’s really easy to make your own pizza dough and if you do, you can add just the toppings you want. It’s likely to be more economical and more nutritious since you can control the sodium and fat. And when it comes to taste, there’s nothing more mouthwatering than homemade pizza, fresh and fragrant from the oven.

I use pizza making, like making soup, as a way to utilize the odd bits of onion, carrots, and whatever else is left over in the vegetable bin that isn’t enough to make a dish on its own. Continue Reading »

Hilo, Hawaii: Going Home

Oven Meatballs 300x225 Hilo, Hawaii: Going Home

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

It always sounds so glamorous to be going on vacation to Hawaii. But if that’s where you’re from, it’s simply going home—no different from returning to any hometown in the Midwest, the South, New England, or elsewhere.

Going home touches on the requisite things we all do: bring flowers to the cemetery, visit with elderly aunts, and catch up with cousins. We visit old haunts. We remember family stories. And even my sons, who grew up on the Mainland, respect those customs when they go “home” on their own.

Going home also means reconnecting with the Island food we missed. We’ll visit the popular Hilo Farmers’ Market for local provisions to cook in our vacation rental kitchen. And when we need additional recipes, we’ll turn to our favorites in the Special Fork’s recipe database —our portable cookbook away from home. Continue Reading »

Easy Nori Chicken

Easy Nori Chicken 300x225 Easy Nori Chicken

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

There is an okazuya (lunch shop) in Hilo, Hawaii, that makes the most delicious nori chicken. The chicken is marinated in a soy sauce mixture, wrapped with a strip of nori (the kind of seaweed used in sushi), floured and deep-fried. The flavor combination is sensational.

My recipe is not it.

It’s been two years since I was last in Hilo, so my taste memory is surely faulty. Also, I’m not trying to replicate the dish exactly. My goal is to create a version that’s easy for Special Fork cooks—one that doesn’t require deep frying and that can fit within our 30-minute prep requirement. Continue Reading »

It’s Time for Hatch Chiles

Bacon Hatch Chile and Cheese Cornbread 300x225 It’s Time for Hatch ChilesBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

After our August summer hiatus, Special Fork is back! Truth be told, our hiatus isn’t the time we go on vacation. We do that in the spring or fall and we blog, tweet and Instagram through it. (This fall, expect some posts from Hawaii.)

No, our hiatus is our time to stay home and chill.

Even on hiatus, we couldn’t stay away from Molly Stone’s Castro market on a sweltering Sunday, having been invited to the store’s Hatch Chile event, with an offer of complementary chiles to experiment with on our blog. The beautiful green chiles were roasting, tumbling in the rotating propane drum until blackened, sending out the most irresistible aromas. A variety of dishes made from these renowned chiles were being sampled. Continue Reading »

It’s time for Special Fork’s annual summer hiatus—we’ll be gone from now through Labor Day, returning Tuesday, September 7, refreshed, with more inventive ideas to solve your dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! In the meantime, please continue to follow our activities on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Powdered Sugar Pound Cake 300x225 Baking a Cake to Celebrate a Great LadyBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Jerry Di Vecchio is an eminent food expert, a legend in her own time. The Food Editor of Sunset magazine until she retired in 2002, Jerry spent 42 years at the magazine for Western living, shaping and influencing America’s food tastes through wide-ranging food features and recipes, with a nod towards Western culinary sensibilities. Although retired, she is as vibrant, active and relevant in the culinary scene, as ever.

Recently, Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter hosted a tribute to Jerry at Sunset’s Menlo Park facilities. It was a bittersweet event, since the publication will be leaving its beautifully designed test kitchens, test gardens and expansive, gorgeously landscaped grounds to move into new digs at Jack London Square in Oakland this fall. Continue Reading »

Bell Peppers with Miso

Stir Fried Bell Peppers with Miso 300x224 Bell Peppers with Miso

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

While bell peppers are available year-round, this is the season when they’re most plentiful. Bell peppers, sometimes called sweet peppers, are certainly good for you, providing vitamins A and C, among other nutrients. But bell peppers usually don’t top people’s favorite vegetable list.

After sautéing, grilling and adding to crudité platters, you may be running out of ways to use them. Here’s an idea from my family.

My Uncle Harry in Kona grew bell peppers commercially and we were lucky to get a carton or two, fresh from the farm, when we’d visit. In addition to the usual things one does with bell peppers, such as making stuffed bell peppers (my favorite), my mom would cut them in wedges and stir-fry with miso. While I didn’t watch her make this dish, I do remember the flavor, so recently, when I had some red and yellow peppers, I decided to experiment. Continue Reading »

Salad (Dressing) Days

Salad Dressing Days 300x225 Salad (Dressing) Days

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

On those sweltering, dog days of summer, there’s nothing better than a cold, crisp salad to perk up appetites. Take inspiration from the many kinds of lettuces at supermarkets and farmers’ markets, as well as the variety of colorful summer vegetables, to fashion a custom salad.

A salad makes the ultimate, no-cook summer supper. Just add some protein, such as julienned strips or cheese, to turn a side salad into a main dish.

A salad is also a convenient way to stretch a little bit of leftover cooked meat to create a second dinner. Slivers of rotisserie chicken pulled from the carcass, slices of cold grilled steak from yesterday’s barbecue, or wedges of hard-boiled eggs from breakfast can be repurposed with some salad greens to make a simple main course. Continue Reading »

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