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Support local food growers and educators at upcoming events

February 18, 2014 - 12:05am

Get ready for two unique opportunities this month to enjoy fine cuisine and beverages and get up close and personal with area growers, ranchers and chefs, all while raising funds for community-based initiatives that benefit us all.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, “Culinary Arts Under the Stars” at the Kings’ Shops at Waikoloa Beach Resort will feature gourmet tasting stations, music by Kenny C and a silent auction featuring items from upscale shops. All proceeds benefit the American Culinary Federation Kona-Kohala’s nonprofit Chef &Child Foundation programs, which educate children on the importance of choosing a nutritious diet via fun, hands-on activities in their classrooms. Tickets, $45 in advance or $55 at the door, are available at Maui Divers Jewelry in the Kings’ Shops, or by calling 329-2522.

At 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28, the “2014 Hawaii Island Ranchers Dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai” offers an experience of collaboration at its finest, as Chef Choy and Executive Chef Scott Hiraishi bring together local produce and grass-fed beef and select wine pairings in a five-course plated feast. This culinary-agriculture project is a partnership between the restaurant, Hawaii Island Department of Agriculture, and Kamehameha School-Land Asset Division, which manages Bishop Estate land.

“Of the 10 farms that will be represented on your plate at the dinner, seven are located on Kamehameha Schools land, plus the restaurant itself,” said Land Asset Manager Les Apoliona. Funds help support agricultural education, business planning and farmer certification programs, as well as connecting food producers with chefs. This exclusive event offers only 75 seats at $75 per person, which includes the dinner, wine pairings and a custom logo bag with samples of ingredients on the menu. For tickets, call 333-3434 or visit

Jean Hull, creator of the ACF Chef &Child program and its coordinator for the past 13 years, shared this recipe from a recent cooking class on “Childhood Nutrition Day,” where keiki learned to make this healthy treat.

Black bean chocolate-kissed cupcakes

15 ounces canned black beans, drained

5 eggs

1/3 cup butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder for baking

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

In a food processor, blend beans until smooth. Add eggs; blend until liquefied with no lumps. Add butter and blend. Add brown sugar and cocoa powder; blend until light and fluffy. In a bowl, mix flour with baking soda, baking powder and salt; sift into wet mixture in processor. Pulse a few times, then mix batter with a large spoon until all is blended. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on a rack. Makes 12 cupcakes or 24 mini-cupcakes.

Braised short ribs

Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai restaurant in Keauhou will serve this succulent dish at the Ranchers Dinner; makes 3-4 servings. Executive Chef Scott Hiraishi has hand-picked culinary students from three Big Island campuses to assist in the dinner preparation and service, adding another dimension to this fine collaboration.

3 pounds short ribs, 2 inches thick

Hawaiian salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

2 ounces salad oil

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup carrot, diced

5 ounces tomato paste

2 cups red wine

2 bulbs garlic, peeled and smashed

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/2 ounce fresh thyme

1/2 ounce fresh rosemary

1 quart chicken stock

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Seasoned flour:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

Season short ribs with salt and pepper, then dust with seasoned flour mixture. In a pot, heat salad oil; sear ribs on all four sides, one minute per side. Remove ribs; discard oil from pot. Add onions, carrot and celery; cook until slightly caramelized. Add tomato paste; cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until skin forms on bottom of pot. Deglaze with red wine; cook for 1 more minute. Add garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, chicken and stock and sugar; bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Add ribs back to the pot and cook about one hour and 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Serve hot.