Tex-Mex New Year’s Party Fare

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 28, 2005
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Jim Wagner has just moved back to Honolulu - and that’s a real homecoming for the restaurateur who has just been named Hawaii general manager for Compadres Bar & Grill.

Jim worked for Compadres’ founders Rick Enos and Dick Bradley back in the 1980s at their establishments in California. Since then, he worked with Roy Yamaguchi and Ed Wary as they introduced Outback Steakhouse on Maui, and also worked for the five Chili’s locations in Hawaii. He most recently served as general manager for Gordon Biersch in San Jose, another place with Island connections. With his ex-wife and children on Maui, Jim decided he had to come “home,” so when Rick Enos called, it was only natural to say yes and make the move to be closer to his children: Alec, 11, Miyana, 8 and Sydney Mika, 5, all of whom attend Sacred Hearts in Lahaina.

Compadres welcomes Jim back, and invites all friends and customers to come in to say hello as we all welcome in the new year with Texas Caviar, a Compadres tradition. This tasty black-eyed pea dip is a staple in the South and is supposed to bring good luck. It’s delicious with Compadres’ fresh-made tortilla chips, alone, or with a little salsa.

If you have friends and family dropping in for the holidays, try my fruit and nut nosh, and cheese ball - great party fare.

A happy and healthy new year to all!


• 1 pound black-eyed peas
• 8 ounces virgin olive oil
• 8 ounces red wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
• 1 teaspoon sugar These next ingredients need to be chopped very fine:
• 1 large onion
• 1 bunch green onions (approximately 6)
• 1 red bell pepper
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
• 1 tablespoon fresh garlic
• 2 tablespoons fresh japaleno
• 2 tablespoons Ortega Green Chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Place black-eyed peas in a heavy pot and soak over low heat for 24 hours until tender but still firm so that they hold their shape when mixed with other ingredients. Let cool to room temperature. Then mix with olive oil, vinegar, oregano and sugar. Let stand while you prepare other ingredients.

Then add remaining ingredients with the black-eyed pea mixture in a ceramic or non-reactive metal bowl. Mix well and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

This is a pleasing combination of sweet fruit and salty nuts to please the palate

• 11/4 cups dry-roasted macadamia nuts
• 11/4 cups dry-roasted almonds
• 1 cup shelled, roasted pistachio nuts
• 1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup diced dried apricots or dates

In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients until well-mixed. Serve in a festive serving dish. Great for potlucks and holiday party snacks.


• 2 (8-ounce) packages light cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• dash salt
• 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained well
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pine nuts (toasted)

Note: To toast nuts, spread on baking sheet and place in pre-heated 350-degree oven, stir around until lightly toasted.

In mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, red and green pepper, cayenne and salt until blended. Add crushed pineapple and mix until evenly distributed. Divide the mixture in half and form two balls. Mix together pine nuts and almonds and roll each ball in the nut mixture. Chill for about an hour and serve with veggies or crackers.

Makes about 12 servings.

(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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