Contestants showed a wide level of creativity and originality at the annual Kona Coffee Recipe Contest, part of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival held on November 3rd at the Sheraton Keauhou. Professionals, culinary students, and amateurs all competed in separate categories in the divisions of entree and dessert. Competitors were also required to create a table display to showcase their dish, an impressive site to see.
After setting up for the judges, the public was invited to enter the ballroom to enjoy a “Big Island showcase” featuring local products while the judges sampled the dishes. Winners were then announced:
1st: Angela Kenyon, Beach Tree Restaurant at the Four Seasons
2nd: Connor Butler, Daylight Mind Coffee Co.
3rd: Samuel Varron, Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa
1st: Samuel Varron, Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa
2nd: Doug Connor, Daylight Mind Coffee Co.
3rd: Patti Kimball, Kimball Catering
Culinary Student Category
1st: Charles Chute
2nd: Gary Cyr
3rd: Derrick Henning
1st: Kanaina Kunitake
2nd: Gary Cyr
3rd: Meagan Lederer
1st: Paula Mijo
2nd: Gwen Edwards
1st: Barbara Housel
2nd: Sabine Andresen
3rd: Gwen Edwards
That Gwen Edwards lady is me you know. This was my second year competing in this recipe contest, which I consider to be the fiercest competition on the island. As you can see this year I submitted both an entree and a dessert and both recipes were plays on existing dishes, baklava soaked in coffee syrup and biscuits with a coffee mushroom gravy. It was good fun because some people were a little nervous about tasting the coffee gravy and kept asking me if it was chocolate.
If you’ve followed this blog for awhile you know that it’s kind of my thing to incorporate as many local ingredients as possible. Even though it’s not necessarily a requirement of the competition, it’s important to me to show just how easy and delicious it is to use local products. Both recipes are below, locally sourced ingredients are in green.
Kona Coffee Festival events are going on now through November 10. Don’t miss out!
Big Island Baklava
Makes about 24
1 cup butter, melted
about 11 filo dough sheets
1/2 lb crushed Big Island macadamia nuts
½ lb coconut flakes
For the syrup:
1 cup very strong Kona coffee (I get mine from Kona Rising Coffee Co.)
1 cup Hawaiian grown sugar
½ cup Big Island honey
4 cardamom pods
Pre-heat oven to 350. Using a pastry brush, grease a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with some of the melted butter.
Cut your filo sheets in half horizontally, this way they will fit the pan easily. Lay one sheet of dough in the pan and brush with butter. It’s ok if the dough tears or crinkles a little. Be sure to keep the dough covered while you are working so it doesn’t dry out. Repeat laying one sheet of dough down at a time and brushing with butter. Do this until you have 8 layers.
After buttering the 8th layer, sprinkle a thin layer or crushed mac nuts and a thin layer of coconut flakes on top of the dough. Layer 2 more sheets of dough on top of the nuts, buttering each. Repeat this until you have 3 layers of nuts. Then cover all with 8 more layers of buttered dough.
With a very sharp knife, cut baklava into squares or diamonds and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, make the syrup. Add coffee, sugar, honey and cardamom pods and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Immediately bring down to a low simmer for about 7-8 minutes or until syrup thickens a little.
Once baklava is done baking, drizzle syrup over the baklava (removing cardamom pods first) and allow to sit for about 4 hours so that the syrup can be absorbed. Garnish with any leftover mac nuts and/or coconut. Enjoy!
Biscuits and Kona Coffee Gravy (for the adventurous)
Serves 4-6 as an entree
2 ½ cups flour
1 TBL baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp Hawaiian sea salt
2 tsp Hawaiian sugar
¾ cup butter, cold
¾ cup buttermilk or milk, cold
For the gravy:
1 TBL olive oil
2 cups chopped Hamakua Alii mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
2 TBL mirin
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup strong Kona coffee
1 TBL flour
1/3 cup milk
1 TBL butter
salt to taste
To make biscuits: Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl with a whisk. Cut butter in small cubes and add to bowl. Working quickly with your hands, incorporate the butter into the flour until butter is the size of small peas. You may want to put the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes after mixing to make sure the butter stays cold.
In a small bowl, whisk egg with milk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in eggs and milk. Use a fork to mix all.
Lay dough out on a floured surface and knead until dough comes together. Work quickly so butter doesn’t get warm. Press until about 1 ½ inches thick then use a biscuit cutter to cut into rounds. Reform excess dough and repeat. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.
To make gravy: Add oil, onion, and mushrooms to a pan over medium heat. Sautee until soft and browned. Add mirin and cook 2-3 minutes. Add coffee and simmer 10-15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk flour and milk and add slowly, whisking constantly, to the pan. Whisk until mixture is slightly thickened. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.
Top biscuits with gravy and enjoy!