Sharing Music And A Family Recipe

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - November 02, 2011
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The music of Kuana Torres Kahele is instantly recognized in hula halau around the globe.

Now he’s celebrating the release of his first solo CD, Kaunaloa (to persevere), a project 15 years in the making. Released this summer, the CD debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes World Music Digital chart, No. 2 on the Billboard Magazine World Music chart, and No. 24 on Billboard‘s Heatseekers national chart.

With a mom who owns a Hilo catering company specializing in multi-ethnic foods, Kuana grew up enjoying frequent family gatherings that revolved around eating and Hawaiian music. Kuana comes from an impressive lineage of musicians including Bill Ali’iloa Lincoln, Victor Kala, the Lim Family and George Holokai.

His new CD is inspired by his mentor and grandmother, “Ma” Lulu Kelohilani Kahele. As his hanai mother, she was the first to teach him of kaunaloa. The CD honors family lineage and the places from which his ‘ohana has come: the great valleys of Waipio and Waimanu, the last Hawaiian fishing village of Miloli’i.

Kuana, of course, is onehalf of the award-winning Na Palapalai, which he formed in 1995 with Kehau Tamure.

Kauna has toured the world for 17 years and despite the many delicious choices, he always finds himself craving homemade foods and dreaming of Hilo. Here he shares one of his favorite family recipes.

“This recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Lettie, who compiled a book of recipes for special family members of her classic recipes and great comfort foods,” he says. “This recipe is easy to make and can be prepared and ready in just over an hour. It is economical and nutritious. For non-spinach lovers, other vegetables can be used including mixed mushrooms, zucchini or broccoli.”


* 9-inch unbaked pie shell
* 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
* 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese (may use nonfat or low fat)
* 6-8 mushrooms, sliced
* 10-ounce package frozen spinach
* 1/2 onion, chopped
* 1 egg, beaten (may use 2 egg whites)
* 1/2 cup half-and-half
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise (try substituting low fat)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 4-5 chopped basil leaves or other fresh herb

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare pie shell and set aside. Prepare frozen spinach according to microwave instructions on the box. Drain as much liquid as possible.

In a large bowl, toss together chicken, mushrooms, cheese and drained spinach. Spoon into uncooked pie shell.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, half-andhalf, mayonnaise and spices. Pour mixture over pie shell ingredients evenly.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and allow to cool and settle slightly before cutting.

Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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