Show 87, September 6, 2014: Travel Writer Michelle Winner, President, IFWTWA

Michelle Winner of IFWTWA and Culinary TravelerFood, wine & travel writer Michelle Winner is the President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA.). She will be talking to us from Hawaii.

Over Labor Day Weekend Michelle was part of the Kaanapali Fresh – A Culinary Experience on Maui and right now she is in the middle of the 4th Annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival on Oahu.

At Kaanapali Fresh, Michelle was a judge for the “Kaanapali Range to Sea.” Each competing chef was paired with a farmer and utilized his produce or product. The winning dish (vegetarian) was Ti Leaf Wrapped Corn Tamale with Syl’s Produce, corn truffle salsa in a smoked tomato emulsion. The winning chef was Raymond Nicasio of the Sheraton Maui Resort.

Michelle also talked about the revitalization of the well-known Maui Gold pineapple brand. These coveted pineapples are only grown on Maui. It’s an agriculture success story of quality over quantity.

The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival event Michelle attended Thursday evening was the sold out “A Lucky Modern Buddha Belly” at The Modern Honolulu. The event put a spotlight on Hawaii’s unique location as a culinary hub of the Pacific where East Meets West. 14 esteemed chefs (including Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto) showcased dishes inspired by the Lucky Buddha who is known for happiness, plenitude, and wisdom of contentment.

Ti Leaf Wrapped Corn Tamales with Corn Truffle Salsa and Smoked Tomato Emulsion

Recipe yield:   6 x 4” tamales or 12 x 2” tamales
Recipes for Corn Tamales

1 ½ cups Fresh Corn kernels
½ cup Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Masa harina (Tamales flour)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Corn Stock or water
3 each Ti leaf
1/2 cup Corn Truffle Salsa (separate recipe below)
1 cup Smoked Tomato emulsion


  • Clean and remove husk from the corn. Using a knife scrape the corn kernel off the cob and reserve corn cob to make corn stock. Place ¾ cup of fresh corn kernel in a blender or food processor and grind the corn until almost smooth, set aside.   Place vegetable shortening in an electric mixing bowl with a wire whip attachment. Set mixer on medium high and whip the shortening until light and fluffy.
  • On a separate mixing bowl place Masa Harina, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly until well incorporated. Heat up corn stock or water to lukewarm and gradually stir stock or water to the flour mix until it forms a thick dough.
  • Change the whip attachment to dough hook attachment. Transfer the dough to the mixing bowl and add the grinded corn and the rest of the corn kernels mix thoroughly. The dough will be quite sticky.
  • Remove the spine off the ti leaf wash, pat dry and line on a flat suface. Using a pastry piping bag, pipe dough on to the leaf and proceed to roll the dough on the leaf making sure it is completely wrapped.
  • On a steamer or pot with a wire rack with boiling water, steam the tamales for 45 minutes. Cut to desired length. Remove the tamales from the leaf and serve with corn truffle salsa and smoked tomato emulsion.

Corn Truffle salsa recipe

1 can Corn truffle or Cuitlacoche (4 oz) can be found in latin specialty store
1 cup Fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs Red bell peppers, small dice
1 tbs Maui Onions, small dice
2 tbs Olive oil

  • Put cuitlacoche in a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Heat saute pan, saute onions and bell pepper until tender
  • Add corn to the pan and sauté until it is tender and has slight caramelized color.
  • Add pureed corn truffle. Stir until completely coated.
  • Remove from heat and add white balsamic vinegar. Stir until well incorporated.

Smoked Tomato salsa

4 ea Vine riped tomato, cut in half
1 ea Maui onion, cut in half
1 ea Jalapeno, cut in half and seeds removed
1 ea Red Bell Pepper, seeds removed and cut in half
4 cloves Garlic, peeled
2 Tbs Liquid smoke
3 Tbs Olive oil
1 ea juice of lime
1 tbs Cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs Salt
1 Tbs Chipotle in adobo sauce, use only the sauce

  • In a mixing bowl, place cut tomato, onion, peeled garlic, jalapeno, bell pepper, olive oil, and liquid smoke. Mix well until well coated with olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet or pan. Season with 1 tablespoon of salt.
  • Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F, place the mixture in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes or until vegetables have a slight char.
  • Transfer to a food processor bowl and add the chipotle adobo sauce, lime juice and cilantro. Process the mixture to a slight smoothness.
  • Season with the remaining salt.