Heart of the Matter #32: Breads - Sweet and Savory

I don’t know about all of you, but I love the holiday season. It’s like a food-lover’s dream – the possibilities for making and eating delicious food are blissfully endless. I spend hours pouring over every food-themed magazine I can find and picking out all the cookie recipes and other fun foods that I want to make this holiday season…this year? Eggnog and a yule log...wow, that even rhymes. Plus, I’d love to hold a cookie exchange with my friends this year. Do you have anything you’re hoping to make this month?

The holidays are a perfect time of year for this month’s Heart of the Matter theme, “Breads: Sweet and Savory.” There are so many kinds of breads that go perfectly with the cooler weather that we’re getting here…warm, yeasty boules filled with herbs and crackled crusts, sweet loaves packed with tart cranberries and ginger to be eaten with tea, sticky rolls for breakfast…it will be a challenging just choosing what kind of a bread to make! And yes, believe it or not, we get cooler weather here in Hawaii! Along with lots of winter rain…and last week, it even snowed on Mauna Kea, the huge volcano that is on the Big Island! Even my hometown in Colorado is in the holiday spirit, getting decked out for a white Christmas with nearly 10 inches of snow coming in today!

So this month, send in your entry for a sweet or a savory bread (or heck, go wild and do both!). And of course it should please be heart-healthy too: your entry should be low in saturated fats (ie. not too much butter!), be low in salt (sodium), and if you'd like, abundant with vegetables or herbs or fruit. If you want to get more information, check out our useful links in the right hand marginal of the HotM blog. Please only use your entry for this event so that we can keep things centred on heart-healthy recipes and please link to the event as well. Send your entries to me at phillipslayden AT gmail DOT com before (your) midnight Thursday, December 31, and please put "HotM" in your subject line so I can keep track of all the entries! ;) I'll post the round-up on January 1st so that we can all eat these healthy breads as part of our healthy new year's resolutions!


Reviving Rumaki: Retro Dishes for HotM

After some technical difficulties, I am finally posting my entry for HotM...

The theme for Heart of the Matter this month is Retro Dishes. When Ilva and I decided on this theme, the first thing that came to my mind was rumaki. Rumaki was found at nearly every American party in the 1950s and 60s and I can’t think of anything more retro for my entry!

Rumaki is an appetizer that is thought to have originated with “Trader Vic” (and no, that’s not the Trader Vic of Trader Joes), whose full name was Victor Bergeron. There’s some controversy here though…Trader Vic owned some so-called “mock-Polynesian” restaurants in San Francisco, but according to Wikipedia, the earliest known reference to this little delight is on the 1941 menu of the “Don the Beachcomber” restaurant in Palm Springs…one of Trader Vic’s big competitors. Makes the history a little more interesting, huh? Check out the link on the Wikipedia page because it actually has a scan of the menu!

The variations on rumaki are vast, but in general, it’s always got water chestnuts that have been wrapped in bacon and marinated in a soy-sugar mixture before being broiled or baked. Many rumaki have chicken livers as a major component, but I left them out because the first rumaki I had (my friend Kristin introduced me to it) didn’t have them and so I’ve developed a taste for the simple bacon-water chestnut flavor. However, to throw my own spin on it for HotM, add a little Hawaiian flair (and some more Polynesia to it), and to give this little pupu (Hawaiian for appetizer) some extra vitamins, I added pineapple to the mix. To make it heart-healthy, I lowered the amount of sugar, adding sherry for a sweet flavor, and used turkey bacon to decrease the fat content. Let's revive this delicious yet forgotten appetizer! Though you might want to make a double batch – these disappear quickly!

Here’s the recipe:

Healthy Rumaki a la Hawaii, makes about 35-40

¼ cup pineapple juice (preferably freshly squeezed; or at least not from canned pineapple)

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp ginger, finely grated

1 tbsp dry sherry

1 tsp brown sugar, packed

1 small can (8 oz.) of water chestnuts

1 cup of pineapple, cored, cut in ¼ slices, then cubed (preferably fresh)

10 strips of turkey bacon, cut in half and lengthwise and crosswise


Preheat the oven to 375F (or broil, if you can - I can’t because ours doesn’t work). Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, sherry, and brown sugar in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add the water chestnuts and soak for 1/2 hr in the refrigerator.

Dump the pineapple/soy mixture into a small saucepan and boil gently until reduced to about half – about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wrap each water chestnut and a piece of pineapple in the turkey bacon and secure with a toothpick. Using a pastry brush or simply drizzling, coat the outside of each little parcel with the thickened mixture, then bake for 20-25 minutes (or broil for 5-6 minutes) or until the bacon is crispy.

Thanks for hosting, Ilva! You can check out this month's round-up over at Ilva's site soon and remember that all the archives are kept on the HotM blog. See you next month!