Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hawaii five oh!

Hmm Hawaiian food, Stephanie’s latest blog party theme certainly posed a challenge to me. Is it terribly wrong of me to immediate think of pizza? Okay to be honest I have never indulged in Hawaiian food, but I am not quite as ignorant as I was. I watched an old series of Top Chef last year and became a little more conversant with the repast of the ‘Big Island’. But despite my slight new knowledge I didn’t think I’d be able to rustle up anything resembling Kim Chee, Poi, Poke or Taro. So I thought I’d just go back to my first thought of ‘pineapple’.
I haven’t had a pineapple on my pizza for many years; I guess it would have been a mainstay on my very first pizzas, when I thought it was good to have ‘deep-pan’, and often found it hard to convince the kitchen to keep tomato far away from my pizza. My pizza tastes have now matured (or so I believe!). The thinnest and crispiest of pizza bases is more highly prized now, especially if given that distinctive smoky taste from a wood-fired oven. I would never dream of having pineapple on my pizza now, it is considered terribly unauthentic and most pizza places eschew pineapple, unless they are being ironic! Now I hanker for a crème fraîche topped thin base with some torn artichoke, pancetta and mozzarella. Oh yes, terribly grown up!
But I don’t want to make pizza for this event, no I thought I’d have a retro moment a revisit my very first introduction to the exciting world of sandwich toasting. I know I was still at school when this magical Breville machine turned up in our kitchen. I flicked through the accompanying booklet and my eyes alighted on the Hawaiian, a gorgeous concoction of melting cheese, canned flaked tuna and pineapple rings. This delight became my main indulgence on returning home from school until a kybosh was put on my excessive pineapple consumption.
I haven’t had these little tropical treat for many years but this month’s blog party seemed to be a good time to resurrect the idea. I wanted to try and create the sealed edges of the Breville because it keeps all the molten cheese and pineapple juices inside where it belongs. I pondered trying to make some bread ravioli like tiny Cornish pasties but it all seemed way too complicated so I opted for putting the buttered bread in the sandwich toaster as usual – I now have one that you place on the hob and turn over half way through cooking but my cunning plan was to start toasting the sandwich and then delicately rotate it 90 degrees to seal edges a second time. This would make little ham, cheese and pineapple filled quarter toasted sandwiches. The sealing didn’t entirely work and cheese and pineapple juice oozed out all over the place but the resultant sandwiches still tasted pretty good.
For the dessert idea, I wanted to use the remaining pineapple pieces on little skewers with a little chocolate sauce drizzled over the spiked fruit. I had intended dipping the dried pineapple slices in chocolate but they were a little thinner and crispier than I thought, a tasty little nibble though so I served them on the side.
For the drink I had another blast from the past and went for pineapple juice and lemonade laced with fresh pineapple and a couple of sun-baked slices. Pineapple juice and lemonade was the drink I had when I used to frequent pubs with my older friends before I was eighteen. My parents agreed I could go for a drink after we’d finish our evening’s voluntary work on the sole condition that I didn’t indulge in alcohol. And I didn’t, I was a very good girl! Instead I had glass after glass of pineapple and lemonade, not a drink I’ve had since I think. So not authentically Hawaiian I think, I am sure Stephanie’s other guests will do better but at least I went for the tropically vibrant plates to serve my attempts on. Aloha!