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Lemonade 2

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

A frosty pitcher of homemade lemonade is welcome refreshment on a sweltering day, but sometimes, I just want a glassful.

Here’s the problem: If I make a whole pitcher, I’ll end up drinking all of it, over the course of days. And since so much sugar is needed to turn tart lemon juice into a sweet drink, I end up having more sugar than I think is healthy.

I’ve been toying with how to custom-make my own concentrate that can be reconstituted for individual servings. If you’d like to try your hand, here’s a method to get you started. However, your own formula will depend on the tartness of the lemons you use and how you like your lemonade. Continue Reading »

English Pea Spread on Crostini

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

My best memory of English peas is of shelling them on a sunny day in the courtyard of a country house in France. Our friend Carol, owner of the house, lives in a small town outside of Bordeaux.

I don’t remember what she did with the peas, but the simple act of tearing apart the pods and coaxing out the little green jewels inside, while sitting companionably, catching up on family news, was one my most delightful memories of that vacation trip.

For me, the problem with buying fresh peas is that I can’t resist popping them I my mouth while shelling them, reducing the yield before I even begin to cook. So, I make sure to buy more than I need. As I shell them, it’s one for me, and one for the pot! Continue Reading »

Steamed Asparagus with Sumiso Dressing

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I never had fresh asparagus until I moved to the Mainland. Growing up in Hawaii years ago, asparagus only came in cans—and we considered it a treat.

Of course, that’s no longer true today. In fact, in addition to importing fresh asparagus from the Mainland, some of it is grown in the Islands these days.

If we had had fresh asparagus when I was a child, I’m sure mom would have steamed the stalks and served it with sumiso. Sumiso (which translates into vinegar miso) is a classic Japanese sauce that goes well with steamed vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli or cauliflower. You could even serve it with poached prawns or to dress a cucumber salad. Mom used to love that flavor because she was fond of anything tart. Continue Reading »

Spaghetti and Meatballs

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’m not quite ready to think spring yet. We’ve been having rain and dreary skies between bouts of stunningly beautiful weather.

So, last week, on a dark and wet day, I made spaghetti and meatballs. It was so satisfying, I’m sharing this recipe for the next time you have inclement weather and need some comfort food.

This is really a simple recipe if you take it in easy steps. 1) Shape and bake the meatballs. 2) Make the sauce. 3) Cook the pasta. 4) Toss together. Continue Reading »

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Since I love setting the table for all the holidays, I’ve been thinking about what to do for Easter. It’s just a dinner for our family, but I still want to create a festive mood.

This year, I’ve decided to make very simple Easter bunnies from marshmallows and set them on chocolate cupcakes, with some coconut “grass,” and jelly bean eggs.

I’ll group the cupcakes together on a cake plate and use them as a centerpiece, or pre-set a cupcake at each place to dress up the table. I’ll have to caution my 3 ½-year-old granddaughter that even if it’s sitting at her place, dessert doesn’t get eaten first! Continue Reading »

Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Recently, I’ve been dreaming of Mrs. Victorine’s bread pudding. It was a dense, custardy block of deliciousness, dotted with raisins and presented chilled.

Mrs. Victorine was our neighbor across the street in Hilo, Hawaii, where I grew up. As neighbors do in Hawaii, we often shared food back and forth—fruits and vegetables from our backyards, and food we cooked and baked.

After Mr. Victorine died, for quite some time afterwards, my mom would send us over with a plate of dinner for Mrs. Victorine. Continue Reading »

Chicken Karaage

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

If you follow my Special Fork blog posts, you know that I am wrangling each Friday with trying to make an appealing bento lunch to entice my pre-school granddaughter. She’s a picky eater and spends more time socializing than eating during the lunch hour at school.

By taking over Friday lunch duties, I save her parents a little time, and it gives me a chance to see if I can make a difference in Little Miss T’s eating habits. At this point, the goal is simply to get her to eat—introducing more whole grains and other noble dietary aspirations come later!

Recently, I made chicken karaage, chicken bites marinated with soy sauce, garlic and ginger; coated with potato starch (katakuriko); and fried until crunchy. This is one of those standard menu items you find in prepared bento lunches from Japanese takeout places, and is a perennial favorite. My grandchild ate it all up! Continue Reading »

Tuna Spaghetti

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I came home from New York City Wednesday night after a three-day business trip. On Friday, I had no ideas for dinner, and for Lent, had to make it a meatless meal, besides.

Rummaging through my pantry, I hit upon a simple pasta dish that took just a few minutes, with ingredients I always have on hand: canned tuna, spaghetti, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and capers, along with a handful of flat-leaf parsley from my garden.

This dish can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta—11 minutes. Just start boiling the water as you gather and prep the ingredients. Use good-quality olive oil and good-quality, solid tuna. Don’t use tuna packed in water because it won’t have the richness of flavor this dish requires. Continue Reading »

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