Saturday, October 22, 2011

Keke Koko - Koko Cake

By panipopos

You saw it here first! 

A Panipopos' Kitchen original.

Keke Koko.
(try saying it real fast, non-stop...sounds like a train)

Now I know there are going to be protests and complaints over this. In fact, when I first mentioned the idea to my sister O, who is in the food business, she said, "Why do you have to mess around with our traditional food?" and I said, "Well someone has to, or else Samoan food is never going to develop". 

And I truly believe this. 
Why not mix things up a bit and have some fun with Samoan ingredients. You never know. The results could turn out to be finger-licking, fork-licking, even PLATE-licking good. 

So, how did this recipe come about? Well, I've been thinking of ways that we can use Koko Samoa that don't involve drinking it. Because let's face it, the whole 'pegu between the teeth' thing isn't everyone's cup of tea. 

So what I came up with is a dense fudgy cake with the taste of chocolate, and the texture of nuts. That's right - chocolate plus nuts. Best thing is, there are no chocolate or nuts anywhere in the recipe! Simply koko.

I tested this on a friend that has extreme pegu aversion, and he gave it a thumbs up. So enjoy!

Keke Koko
makes an 8 inch (20cm) square cake

¾ cup grated Koko Samoa
½ cup boiling water
3 eggs
½ cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 sticks (225gr) butter, softened
2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the koko and leave it to cool to room temperature.

Mix the eggs, water and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.

When the koko has cooled, add the butter to the large bowl and beat until well combined. 

Sift in the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat with a mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened and then beat on medium for 1½ minutes. 

Finally add the egg mixture in two parts, beating well for ½ a minute after each addition. 

Pour into a lined cake pan and bake for 45-60 minutes at 350°F (180°C).

Try to let the cake cool (the aroma will make it difficult) and then cut into 8 or 12 pieces. 

Do NOT serve with a cup of freshly brewed koko Samoa. It's just too much, believe me. 

While you're munching on your koko cake, take a chance to check out Becki's efforts over at Cooking by Stove. Earlier this year she started cooking around the world, and you can see her take on American Samoan food here. She made our keke pua'a dough and paifala, and looked like she had a heck of a meal! Thanks Becki! 

And to those of you out there who make Panipopos' Kitchen recipes, feel free to share your cooking with our readers. Most people only visit my site just to look at the photos anyway. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Telesa - The Covenant Keeper

She's the tireless blogger of Sleepless in Samoa. Mother of five, born and bred in Samoa, she's the author of Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi about the tsunami that devastated Samoa in 2009. She's written short fiction that has been widely published in various journals, magazines, newspapers and professionally recorded for radio broadcast in over 30 countries. Her versatility also extends to children's stories that are used in primary school reading programs. I loved, loved, LOVED her short story entitled A True Samoan Woman. She's here today to promote her most recent work, the first in a young adult urban fantasy series, called Telesa - The Covenant Keeper. 
It is my honour to welcome to our virtual kitchen the award winning author, Lani Wendt Young!

I feel  like I’m in the presence of a rock star – because that’s how I think of the amazing owner of Panipopo’s Kitchen. I am constantly in awe of her recipes and every time I leave her blog – I am inspired to try cooking something new in my own kitchen. (Doesn’t always work like her cooking does though.) Thank you for welcoming me into your kitchen today.

The first thing my copy editor said to me after she read the TELESA manuscript was – ‘reading this made me soooo hungry! The rich descriptions of all the yummy Samoan food in the book really made me wish that I was taking a trip to Samoa, just so that I could try some of the delicious things that Leila was having.’

I love to eat and I enjoy cooking so it’s no wonder that a lot of food found its way into the TELESA book. Eighteen yr old Leila has come to Samoa from America in search of her ‘roots’, her culture, her family. Raised by her Dad and used to living on junk food, Leila is introduced to a delectable array of Samoan delights, everything from crisp, sweet panikeke with sinfully rich and sweet kokoSamoa for breakfast - to faiai fe’e octopus baked in coconut cream, oka raw fish soaked in lime and coconut chilled to perfection, chop suey redolent with garlic and ginger. And the desserts! Leila’s Aunty Matile makes a pineapple pie with a crust that melts in your mouth, sticky sweet caramel faausi dumplings and pani popo coconut buns luxuriating in a sugar-laden coconut cream sauce.

One of the best things about food in Samoa – is that so many of the ingredients are fresh and sourced right from out the back door. The best fruit salad I will ever eat is one made from papaya and mangoes that my children have picked from trees in our yard, ripe bananas we ‘borrowed’ from that bunch hanging over our neighbor’s fence, and pineapple bought from the produce market at Fugalei.  In my book the Telesa are a kind of ‘environmental warrior’, closely in tune with the earth and all her bounty – which means they have a gift with plants and draw on a rich treasure of ancient knowledge to make medicines, poisons ( they are telesa after all!) AND food, glorious food. 

Telesa - The Covenant Keeper  is the first book in a Young Adult fantasy romance series set in modern day Samoa that draws on the legends of teine Sa but with a huge amount of creative license and imagination. It’s got action, intrigue, elements of the supernatural and (of course) it’s got romance with a gorgeous male lead character, Daniel… And woven into all that, is lots of food!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A guest, some comments and another pie

By panipopos

Tomorrow we have a special guest!
A who-duh-whatwhat?
Yeah, you heard me right - a special guest!

When I faikala (have a nosy) on people's blogs, I invariably find myself on this talented lady's site. I've been lurking on her blog for well over a year now, and her writing never fails to entertain me. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and so relatable.

Who could it be? Who could it be? You'll have to tune in tomorrow to find out. 

Now, sometimes, for one reason or another, Blogger doesn't work like it's supposed to. As it's a free service, I can't really complain. But if Blogger won't accept your comments, feel free to email them to me. Please understand that I can't post your comments up under each recipe because that'd look like I'm leaving feedback for myself, and in Samoa, that would qualify me as a vale.

So here are two comments that were rejected by Blogger but landed in my email box:

Jay wrote
Hi, I tried to post a comment but not sure if it went through so am e-mailing. “i am no cook but this was so easy to follow and i'm so proud of myself - they were delicious!!! faafetai tele lava!!
Not sure which recipe that was for, but very happy that even a novice cook could follow my recipes. 
And Nydia wrote:
Hi Panipopo, 
I can't seem to comment on your blog but I had to email and let you know that I tried the pai fala recipe and it was HIT! It was much better than the stuff we buy from the store. I cut down a bit on the sugar though because the fala made it quite sweet. I would try your panipopo recipe, but I'm a lazy baker and it seems less work to buy it from Siaosi's store down the road....but thumbs up to pai fala. Next up is your fruit pie. Will let you know how that goes. 
Thanks for such an awesome blog! 
Thanks guys! Always love getting feedback.  

Finally, I made something that I think deserves to go in the 'Samoan-inspired' file. They say that 'Necessity is the mother of invention'. Well, it was a 'necessity' for me to get rid of a whole bag of limes that some well-meaning neighbor had left on my doorstep. People around here love to grow things and when the harvest is bountiful, I start getting mystery produce left in shopping bags outside my door. So to the person that left me 50 limes, I say, HA! I made a pie! 
44 more limes to go...

Lime Mousse Pie (serves 12)
makes an 8" (20cm) square pie

Make the pai crust and prebake.

Filling and Meringue topping:
4 large eggs, separated
14 ounce (400gr) can sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup (180ml) fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons finely grated lime zest
⅓ cup sugar
green food colouring (optional)

Put the egg yolks and condensed milk in a bowl and whisk together. Beat in the lime juice and then the zest.

Next, beat egg whites and the sugar until they are stiff but not dry. Fold about half of this meringue into your filling mixture. Add 2-3 drops of coloring if you want a limey look. (And easy on the colouring. It doesn't take much to go from tropical lime to dark forest green.) Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust and bake it for 15 minutes at 350°F (180°C).

Take the pie out of the oven, and turn the heat up to 375°F (190°C). Spread the rest of the meringue over the hot filling and use the back of a spoon to decoratively make peaks and swirls. Put the pie back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the meringue is golden brown.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool. Then put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.

Because this pie is very rich, cut it into 12 rectangular pieces. Although the filling is a creamy light mousse, it carries an intense lime flavour. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pai - Fruit pie

By panipopos

If I say the word "pie", what image springs to mind? 
For most people, it's a double crusted round pie with a little steam vent in the top crust or a latticed fruit pie. The crust is made of flaky pastry which has a fluted edge, perhaps dusted with sugar. One serving is cut into a wedge-shape that fits nicely onto a silver cake server, and it's eaten either hot or cold with a scoop of ice-cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

If you said the word "pai" to me, the image that immediately pops into my head is a deep rectangular roasting dish half-filled with square pieces of pie, that are quickly disappearing as they are being lifted with an egg spatula onto saucers standing nearby. The bottom layer is like a thick crumbly buttery cookie. Above that is a moist fat layer of fruit and custard. This is topped off with light and fluffy meringue or chantilly cream. Three layers of yumminess. One square of heaven.

When this pai is put in front of me, the custard barely has time to stop jiggling before I've finished it off and taken my saucer back for more. If we've brought some pai home from some event and it's sitting in the refrigerator, then late that same evening, I'll creep into the kitchen, make sure no-one's about, and then eat that pie straight out of the roasting dish with the biggest spoon I can find. I don't even bother turning the kitchen lights on. Just use the light from the refrigerator.

Yes, this is one of those foods that makes a glutton out of me. 


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Surimi Salad

By panipopos

It's summer and my kitchen is almost the same temperature as my body temperature, so the last thing I feel like doing is cooking. In this kind of weather, the only thing I can be bothered making are smoothies and salads. So here is a salad I ate a lot growing up. The ingredients and measurements are totally flexible, depending on your preferences. 

Surimi Salad (serves 4)
½ pound (250 gr) surimi (imitation crab meat)
½ head lettuce, shredded
¼ medium onion, finely diced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, sliced
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and pepper, to taste

Shred the surimi and put in a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, seasoning to taste, and toss well. Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Toss once more before serving. 

If you think that the mayonnaise isn't "dressing" enough for this salad, trust me, it is. While the salad is sitting in the fridge, some liquid from the tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber will mix in with the mayo and combined with the flavour of the surimi, you'll end up with a nice tasty pool of dressing at the bottom of the salad bowl. Which is why I suggest you toss it just before serving.

While you're munching on your salad, I just want to take this chance to thank everyone for your continued support and encouragement. Even though I haven't posted anything for the last couple of months, I still get emails and comments every day about how my work has impacted your life. It's only been a year since I started blogging but the response has been overwhelming. So THANKS very much. 

Jay sent me a wonderful photo of her panikeke she made. I'm sure you'll agree they make you want to reach through the screen and do the cookie monster thing. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kopai Koko

By panipopos

Kopai koko provides a contrast in textures - soft and smooth dumplings with gritty rich koko. I don't recommend you make coconut dumplings for this, because it gives too much graininess to the dish. 

Serve around half a dozen puka with a bowlful of sosi.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kopai 'Ega'ega - Caramel Kopai

This is probably my favourite kopai. It's like eating dessert for breakfast.

The dumplings are paired with a milky caramel sauce.

I admit, I don't really know what the proper name for this is. In my house, it was always just called kopai. So, to differentiate the kopai recipes on this blog, I've called this one Kopai 'Ega'ega (brown kopai) or Kopai 'Ena'ena if you're being polite, but if anyone out there knows the proper name, please let me know.

Serve around half a dozen puka with a bowlful of sosi.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kopai Pa'epa'e - White Kopai

This is the plainest version of kopai, but delicious nonetheless. It gets it's flavour from milk/coconut milk and laumoli, if you have it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Puka Kopai - Kopai Dumplings

Samoa, and much of the Pacific, is prone to cyclones. If one of these tropical storms hits really hard, then the natural food resources that Samoans depend upon are severely depleted. When such a disaster happened in the past, food relief and aid came in mainly from New Zealand, Australia, and the US. Now, where am I going with all this seriousness?

Oh yeah, I was trying to give you guys a historical context for kopai. So anyway, because assistance was coming in from benevolent Western nations, the food aid packages typically consisted of flour, sugar, rice, canned fish and canned meats.

In my imagination, the first native cyclone survivors to receive these packages of Western staple foods were probably thinking,"What the -?!? Huh?!?"

But then Samoan ingenuity kicked in. Cooking fires were started up, cans were forced open with sapelu (machetes), and people thought of as many ways as they could to use the foreign white stuff - rice, flour and sugar.

I'm convinced that Samoan classics like sua alaisa, koko alaisa, fa'apapa, panikeke, and alaisa fa'apopo, all originated during a post-cyclone burst of cooking creativity. But prize for the most inventive Samoan dish using only three ingredients has got to be...(drumroll)...kopai.

I mean, how...really, HOW do you take flour, sugar and water and make a dish that's super tasty, stands the test of time, and is beloved by Samoans the world over?

I'll never know. But it's GENIUS.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sua I'a - Fish Soup

By panipopos

I've met two people in my life who avoid meat served with bones in it. According to these folk, it's too much trouble, too messy, and just plain primative to be gnawing meat from a bone. These guys (yes, they are both men, grown men) think that chicken, pork, beef and fish must be able to be cut with a knife and eaten with a fork. If, by some great misfortune, they happen to get served a bone, they'll cut a little meat here and there. But when their plate is returned to the kitchen, you may as well serve that meat right back out to someone else for all the flesh that will be left on the bone.

Now obviously, these people are not Samoan.

You see, a Samoan's plate would be returned to the kitchen with bones as clean as a whistle. Or maybe that's just the Samoans in my family.

Let me illustrate. If my family had chicken legs for dinner, we'd be crunching away at the cartilage like it was a carrot. If we had beef, we'd be sucking out the gelatinous marrow from inside the bones. Pork, well, if it was straight from the umu and fall-off-the-bone-tender, no work involved there. But if we were eating trotters, all twenty-something of the individual bones in the pig's foot would be so clean, you could wire them together and exhibit them at a natural museum.

But let me tell you about the fish. When my family ate fish, dinner conversation was scarce. Instead, you'd hear slurping and sucking sounds and lots of finger licking, pausing only to pick out the bones from our mouth and place them in a neat pile on the side of our plate. I mean, fish took our bone-cleaning skills to the highest level of expertise. I'm not talking about eating the fish's body and tail - that's child's play. I'm talking about breaking down a fish head, getting a full meal out of it, eyeballs and all!

The following recipe is for those of you who are right now thinking "Oh yeah, I totally know what she's talking about". It's for you that have read this far, and have not screwed up their face in disgust. It's for the shameless cartilage-crunching, marrow-sucking, trotter-eating, fish-eye-loving bone cleaners amongst us. I know you're out there.

Sua I'a (serves 3-4)
1 lb (450-500g) whole fish or fish pieces with bones
½ an onion
1 can (400ml) coconut milk
1-2 (400-800ml) cans water*
salt to taste
2 spring onions (optional)

* Add enough water so that your fish is mostly if not completely covered.

Any medium-firm textured fish (snapper, sea bass, yellowtail etc) works well in this soup.

If you're using a whole fish, clean, scale and gut it, then chop it into serving size pieces.

Slice your onion thinly.

Put the fish pieces and onion in a small pot. Add the coconut milk and water. Season with salt. Bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer for up to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the fish pieces. Don't overcook your fish, or you might find all the flesh has fallen off the bones, and is floating at the bottom of your soup.

While that's cooking, slice the spring onions. When the fish is cooked, turn off the heat, throw in the spring onions and cover.

Serve hot, either in a bowl, or with the fish on a plate and the soup in a mug.

And enjoy fishing out dem bones!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poi - Banana Pudding

With the weather getting warmer, it's the perfect time for poi. While Hawaiian poi is made from taro, Samoan poi is made from beautifully ripe bananas. (Incidentally, Maori poi is made from natural fibres and should not be eaten.)

Poi is a chilled dessert that also makes a refreshing snack on a warm day. In olden times, poi was mashed with the hands and mixed with cool drinking water. Our version, updated for the 21st century, uses a blender and ice. But feel free to use your hands, or even your feet, like the French used when stomping grapes for wine.

OK, just kidding about the feet. What do you think we are? Savages?

Some people use lautipolo/laumoli to flavour this, but I find that the lemon zest adds a nice texture to the poi. Also, the sugar is optional, but if you have really sweet bananas, it's not necessary. Bon appetit!

Poi (serves 2)
1 lb ripe (500g) peeled ripe bananas
zest of 1 lemon or 2 lautipolo/laumoli
½ can (200ml) coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
sugar to taste
ice for serving

Mash or blend the bananas until smooth.
Add the lemon zest or lautipolo/laumoli.
Add the coconut milk and vanilla. Mix until well-combined.

Taste for sweetness.
Add sugar if desired.
Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Immediately before serving, stir the discoloured top layer into the rest of the poi. Serve over ice in small bowls or wide-mouth glasses.

* If you find your poi is too thick, add ½ cup of cold water to dilute it.
* Keep refrigerated for up to a day, but best eaten with a few hours.