I woke up this morning to sun streaming through the trees and a band of birds singing outside the window. Which means: I am home and I am happy and as much as I complain about the heat, Hawaii is beautiful.
Whenever I make the transition from LA to island life, I’m easily frustrated for the first few days. People drive too slow, there’s never any parking, groceries and gas cost a fortune, and it is at times so hot and humid all I want to do is stay inside laying starfish on the floor with the air condition on full blast.
But for some reason, this time I’ve found it effortless to ease back into the way of life here and instead am able to appreciate the things that make Hawaii different.
I’ll glance out a window in my house and have to stop for a second to admire the fact that I can see lush green mountains, the ocean, and the city of Honolulu, all framed perfectly between four wooden beams. The other day I was on my way to a friend’s house. The moment I rounded a bend, I was taken aback by the closeness and enormity of the clouds and clear blue sky above me. Did I also mention I saw a rainbow while merging onto the freeway? Now that sure isn’t something you see everyday (well, but in Hawaii it kind of is).
Yes, maybe I can’t drive 75mph on the freeway, but the fact that I can cross three lanes of traffic during rush hour with every car patiently letting me in should be more than enough to make up for that.
For the next three weeks, I hope to share with you all the sheer beauty, simplicity, and kindness that exists on this little piece of land in the middle of the ocean and I hope it inspires you to find a few unique things that you love about where you’re from. For me, I’ll start with this recipe for a fruit tart made from a favorite local fruit.
Since making a savory beetroot tart (yay beets!), I’ve been wanting to try something a lil’ bit sweeter. I stopped by Whole Foods yesterday and spotted a small collection of Lilikoi in the produce section. Lilikoi is the Hawaiian version of passion fruit. Instead of a purple shell, it’s yellow. And as anyone who’s grown up in Hawaii knows, it’s delicious and you can put it in anything. Literally. I’ve had it as a butter, sorbet, cake, juice (yaaaahs, Zippy’s)–anything goes. But best of all, passion fruit takes center stage as the local version of a lemon bar: Lilikoi Bars.
A buttery crust with a sweet and tangy passion fruit filling and covered with tons and tons of powdered sugar. I couldn’t get enough of these things growing up. So now that I’m home, and I brought my tart pan 2000+ miles across the Pacific Ocean with me, a Lilikoi Tart is only fitting.
Another thing I love about home: fambam time. Here are some pictures from the first Christmas-y thing my family does for the holidays! The first night after Roy and I flew back, we helped my parents string up lighted garlands along the brick wall in the front yard and later I ruined the first of several attempts at making this tart. Please forgive me, I am a n00b tart maker!!
Meli was cute and a rascal and couldn’t sit still or be trusted to roam around outside while we worked. Since then, I’ve caught her sitting in the patio and staring at the lights for hours. I think she secretly loves Christmas. “Secretly” because humans haven’t invented a way to read doggy thoughts (yet) and also because she knows Christmas is the only time of year my mom is lenient about her coming inside the house.
What special Christmas traditions do any of you have? Tomorrow I have plans to bake loads and loads of cookies with Roy’s mama. Maybe the cookie extravaganza will even become a future blog post!
Passion Fruit Tart (Lilikoi Tart)
+ Lilikoi is ripe when the skin is yellow and wrinkled.
+ To extract the juice, cut the fruit in half and scoop out the seeds and liquid into a bowl. Pour the contents into a mesh strainer to separate the seeds from the juice.
+ Don’t throw away the seeds, you can use them as a garnish! Or eat them as is, or even inside a smoothie.
*makes enough for a 9 in. round tart
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick + 1 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor till combined. Add cubes of butter and pulse until they resemble large crumbs (size of oatmeal flakes and peas).
2. Beat the egg slightly before adding it into the food processor. Combine in additions until the dough forms together.
3. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
4. Butter a tart case with removable bottom. Roll out dough to desired size on a lightly floured surface. Use the rolling pin to pull up and support the dough, then lay over the tart case.
5. Use fingers to fit and press dough securely into the case. Remove any excess dough. Prick holes into the crust using a fork.
6. Freeze crust for at least 30 minutes, the longer the better.
7. Preheat oven to 375F, making sure to have a rack centered in the oven. Grease the shiny side of a piece of foil and fit it tightly against the crust. Use pie weights or uncooked rice to weigh the foil down.
8. Place the tart case on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
9. Remove the foil with weights. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes, until the crust turns a golden brown. Let cool.
2/3 cup caster sugar
5 tbsp passion fruit juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest
2/3 cup heavy cream
1. Turn oven temperature down to 320F.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, fruit juices, and zest until combined. Add in heavy cream.
3. On a stovetop, cook over medium heat until warm (approx. 5 minutes), whisking continuously.
4. Strain mixture into a small bowl, then pour the remaining liquid into the cooled tart case.
5. Hit the tart case lightly against a flat surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Use a spoon to scoop up any bubbles that may have formed. Bake for 25 minutes until firm.
6. Cool for at least one hour. Serve with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.
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