Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Roasted Okra & Garlic

My husband has never been a fan of okra, and has made many jokes about its sliminess, a property which makes it a valuable ingredient to help thicken soups & stews like jambalaya.  However, he does enjoy the roasted okra I’ve been making, so now I have to share what used to be all mine.  It isn’t the least bit objectionable, if you know what I mean.  We have it as a pupu {appetizer} whenever it’s available from the farmers’ market, which is now.  It’s a simple recipe that can be ready to eat in about 30″.

When selecting okra, be sure to get small pods.  If the pods are too large, they can be woody & stringy…not at all pleasant to eat.

This is a “no-recipe recipe,” meaning you can eyeball all of the ingredients.

Okra ready to roast

 

Roasted Okra

Roasted Okra & Garlic

Okra, washed & dried
Garlic, large cloves cut into thirds, smaller cloves cut in half
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt & pepper
Fresh lemon juice, if desired {good addition!}

Preheat oven to 400 degrees {375 is fine too if you already have the oven going for something else}.  Make sure you have an oven rack on the lowest level before it gets hot.  Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil.  Wash & dry okra.  Put okra & garlic on the sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil & grind a good amount of salt & pepper.  Toss to coat.  You want the okra to be coated with the oil, but not too much…greasy vegetables are never good.  Make sure okra is in a single layer & put on the bottom rack.   After 10″ or so, give the okra a toss & continue roasting until the pods & garlic are tender & brown.  Taste a bit of garlic to make sure it doesn’t taste raw.  Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over all if you like, & enjoy!

How do you like to eat okra?  Leave a comment & let us know!

Bon appetit!


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Savory Yogurt

My husband and I are not vegetarians, but we eat a plant based diet most of the time. We enjoy food of all kinds, preferring food that is good for us, but happy to indulge in delicious food that may not be particularly healthy, on occasion.  Our philosophy is that it’s what we do most of the time that really matters.

My dad was in the Air Force, and did a tour of duty in Korea for a year when I was in the fourth grade, so my mom and I moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. My family is from Harrisonburg, so we moved from San Antonio, Texas to be closer to family. Those Virginia kids told me I “talked funny.” What!? I don’t recall, but I probably thought they “talked funny” too. But I digress. For some reason, that was the year I decided to dabble in “vegetarianism,”  in quotation marks because I didn’t know the meaning of the word at the tender young age of 9.  I don’t know where I got the idea that mom and I should be vegetarians, because I’m pretty sure there weren’t many of them in the Valley at that time.

As adults, the beginning of my exploration into vegetarian food lies with a friend I worked with at Stanford Medical Center, where I worked on the oncology floor before returning to school full time for my teaching degree.  Actually, I went back to get a degree in nutrition, but changed my mind and became a teacher. I’m sure I would have been happy in either field, but I have no regrets with the path I took. Erika was a vegetarian, and she introduced me to one of my favorite cookbooks, Laurel’s Kitchen.

We have been eating plain yogurt for a long time at our house. It started when I learned about falafel, from Erika and Laurel’s Kitchen. I can’t remember if my first falafel was from a local restaurant that served fried falafel balls, or the baked falafel I made from Laurel’s Kitchen, but they were both delicious. I’ll post a falafel recipe in the future, but for now, I’d like to say how delicious plain yogurt is, and how it can be the main focus or a tasty garnish. It’s probably safe to say that it is an acquired taste, and in my opinion, one worth acquiring.  Here are a few favorite ways I like to eat plain yogurt.  They are all seasoned with freshly ground salt, freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil-fresh herbs are always a welcome addition.

Try this for breakfast or lunch…you can make it however you like.

 

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Or this. . . Can you tell the orange bowl is my favorite??

yogurt with preserved lemons, tomatoes, kalamata olives and sprouts

Yogurt, tomatoes, preserved lemons, kalamata olives and sprouts

How about this one?  Today’s lunch. . .

Yogurt, herring, diced beets, capers and sprouts

Yogurt, pickled herring, steamed beets, rinsed capers & sprouts

Yogurt Bowl with Cilantro Blossoms

Yogurt with Avocado, Baby Lettuce, Cilantro Blossoms, Olive Oil & a Splash of Red Wine Vinegar

What will you put on your plain yogurt?  I hope I’ve given you some ideas!


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Thinking About Food…Outside the Box

Two weeks ago, I ordered what I’m sure will be in my top 5 “go to” books about food.  My first introduction to its author, Samin Nosrat, was on Food52 last month.  The name of her book?  Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat:  Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.  Her basic premise is that you can cook almost anything without a recipe, if you understand the four elements- salt, fat, acid and heat.  I love Food52, and their recent {April 2017} series called “Samin Nosrat’s 12 Must-Know Lessons That’ve Changed How We Cook” has me excited about thinking about food in a whole new way.   I highly recommend you click the link and check it out.  It will give you a different perspective on how to cook, season and enjoy food.  There are lessons, including videos, for each element.  Let’s take salt for example-when you taste food for seasoning, you may find it to be bland.  Many of us reach for salt as the cure for food that is flat.  Nope, not so fast, according to Nosrat.  Step away from the salt and think about the many ingredients that can add more saltiness and flavor to food…Parmesan, anchovies, olives, kimchi, capers, fish sauce, shoyu, raw sauerkraut, preserved lemons and more.  Before you toss in some sodium chloride in its crystalline form, take a moment to consider some other flavorful options; you will be glad you did!

A new food discovery for me, which contributes both salt and acid to a dish, is preserved lemons.  I first tasted them in California earlier this year, when I visited my aunt, who has a Meyer lemon tree in her front yard.

Debbie's Meyer Lemon Tree

Southern California Meyer Lemon Tree

She has a freezer full of frozen lemon juice {as do I}, and sought out other recipes for using up the many gorgeous lemons begging to be enjoyed in ways more interesting than juice.  She found a recipe for preserved lemons, and had some ready to eat when I was visiting;  I fell in love with them!  Breakfast was sangak {Iranian flatbread} topped with with homemade hummus, cooked spinach and diced pieces of preserved lemon.  Many, if not most, recipes for preserved lemons say to discard the pulp and eat only the rind;  after a quick rinse, I eat the whole lemon, including the viscous tart/salty liquid, all of which get better and better with time.

Sangak with Hummus and Preserved Lemon

Sangak with Hummus, Preserved Lemon, Olive Oil, Sesame Seeds & Sumac

Delicious! Preserved lemons are similar to capers, but I think they are better, and quite addictive.  What prevents me from inhaling my preserved lemons is that I only made 3 pints, so I am rationing them out until my sources of local Meyer lemons have more ripe lemons.  The next time I get my hands on another bag of lemons, I will then make many pints of these delectable lemons, and eat them with abandon…I highly recommend that you do too!  I made the recipe exactly as written on the Daring Gourmet blog, but next time I may slice the lemons instead of quartering them, to fit more into the jars.

Once your preserved lemons are ready to eat, enjoy them with hummus {this is my former recipe, which is excellent, but here is my new favorite Israeli hummus recipe}, fish, chicken, salad dressings, salads & more.  Use your imagination & enjoy your jars of sunny deliciousness!

Preserved Lemons in Jar

Preserved Lemons in Jar

 


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You may be interested in these…

Recipes

Fried Greens Meatlessballs {Food52.com}

~ We rarely have a problem using up our greens, and we buy a lot of them every week at the farmers market.  This recipe looks like something right up my alley.

greenmeatlessballs

 

Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dressing {Food52.com}

~ I’ve never been a fan of Ranch Dressing, but I found this recipe when looking for ideas for using up the buttermilk.  Think I’ll try it!

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

 

Pea Butter {Epicurious.com}

~ I love peas & I love butter…this is a no brainer my friends!  Use this spring time butter on  lots of things, from toast to pasta.

Spring Pea Butter

 

Okonomiyaki {Smitten Kitchen}

~ I can’t wait to try this version of okonomiyaki, which I’ve never eaten, but sure want to.

Smitten Kitchen Okonomiyaki

 

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake {Smitten Kitchen}

~ I’ve been thinking about buckwheat cakes lately.  Haven’t you?

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake

Articles 

The Changing American Diet {Flowingdata.com}

~ This is a fascinating graphic that illustrates what Americans eat on a daily basis over several decades {1970-2013}.  Potatoes have been our #1 vegetable since 1970.

Changing American Diet Graphic

New FDA Food Label

~ We have a new food label that clearly shows calories & added sugars.  Hurray!

new FDA food label

 

Cooking with Kids {Sprouted Kitchen}

~ Here are some tips for cooking with children & a few tasty recipes too.

Cooking+with+my+Nieces+.+Sprouted+Kitchen

Top 30 Maui Restaurants {Pride of Maui}

~ Coming to Maui?  Here’s a rundown of 30 top Maui restaurants.  Check it out!

top-30-restaurants_featured

Video

David Leibovitz at the Jean-Charles Rouchoux Chocolate Shop in Paris

~ French chocolates anyone?  Oui, s’il vous plait!

jean-charles-rochoux-and-denise-acabo-paris-chocolate-shop-200x300

Bon appetit!


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Fresh from the Farmers Market

My husband came home with some fabulous goodies from the Upcountry Maui Farmers Market yesterday.  Of course, this week was no different than any other, because he always comes home with great stuff…year round.  When you have a vibrant market that is overflowing with beautiful, top quality local food, you can’t go wrong…unless you get there late, and miss out on the best stuff.  Which is why my husband goes.  At this time of the year, he is at the market by 6:20 am, because things get going early in Maui.

Spring Mix 2

This pretty salad mix is a delightful blend of all kinds of greens, from bitter to sweet.  I cannot tell you what’s in it, beyond mizuna, romaine, baby kale and some lovely nasturtium blossoms.  It’s delicious on its own, or as part of a “regular” lettuce salad.  The little beet greens you see in the picture came from a big bunch of beets that had their greens attached.  I’ve been separating out the small tender beet greens and putting them into the lettuce bag for salads…delicious.  Which brings me to some “regular” lettuce that is absolutely gorgeous & crisp.  After I wash lettuce, it’s a great treat to eat a bowl of it, with a grind of salt, freshly ground pepper, a drizzle of good olive oil & sometimes a splash of red wine vinegar.  Freshly picked lettuce is wonderful and doesn’t need much adornment.

Red leaf lettuce

We are fortunate to have many varieties of avocado trees in Maui.  I have no idea what variety these are, but I can’t wait to cut one open.  The apple bananas are also from the market and are one of many varieties of bananas grown here in the islands.

Bananas & avocados

Papayas are in now and they are delicious!  I would say that papayas are an acquired taste, and if you aren’t quite there yet, try one with a splash of lime juice.  That’s how I came to enjoy this tropical fruit.

Last, but certainly not least, are these eggplants.  I have finally come around to enjoying  something other than the Italian Globe eggplant.  Yes, I have embraced the long, slender eggplant.  I’ve been making eggplant broiled with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses {a new favorite ingredient, along with the labneh that tops the eggplant}.  Find the recipe here.  I’ve written about another favorite way to serve eggplant here.   I haven’t had any pomegranate arils for the garnish for this dish, so I’ve been using fresh cilantro or basil.  It’s delicious, but I’m sure the pomegranate arils would be even better, because their tartness would provide a nice balance to the richness of the eggplant & labneh.

IMG_5695

This cute towel is from our good friends Debbie & Bill!

What did you buy at your farmers market this week?

Bon appetit!


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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

What are your thoughts on raisins?  Many people have strong feelings about them and either love or hate them, kind of like nuts and coconut.  As a kid, I wanted to like the Sun-maid Raisins we had in the pantry.  Those little boxes with the rosy-cheeked lass holding a big basket of green grapes were appealing to me, for some reason.  At that time, and for a long time thereafter, I was firmly in the “I do not like raisins camp.”  I wasn’t a fan of grapes either.  They, and the grapes from which they came, were too sweet {Never mind that I could eat chocolate frosting & brownie batter like nobody’s business…that’s a different story!}.  Years later, I discovered organic Red Flame grapes, and I thought they were pretty good, and even enjoyed the raisins produced from them.  They were still too sweet to eat on their own, but I enjoyed them with some nuts {and a bit of dark chocolate}.

Even though I learned to like raisins, I only wanted them in certain dishes.  Raisins were great in Hot Peanut Cereal, bread pudding and as a curry condiment, but definitely not in oatmeal cookies for sure.  Nope, not in my cookies.  Until now.  What’s different now?  I’m not certain, but I think it’s a combination of the ingredients I’m using and baking the cookies long enough for some caramelization to occur.  The coconut sugar, along with some brown sugar lends a caramel flavor, and the proper baking time adds to that flavor, as well as some crispness.  The cookies are delicious anytime {even right out of the freezer}, but are their very best the same day they are made {the same as my chocolate chip cookies}.  Freshly baked and cooled, they are a little chewy in the center, and a little crispy around the edges…cookie perfection.

Plate of oatmeal cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
adapted from The Best Recipe {Cooks Illustrated}

180 gm whole wheat pastry flour {1 1/2 cups}

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/2 pound {2 sticks} unsalted butter, softened

4 3/4 oz. light brown sugar {2/3 cup – 1 tbsp}

1 1/2 oz. granulated white sugar {2 tbsp – 2 tsp}

2 1/2 oz. blonde coconut sugar {1/2 cup + 2 tsp}

2 large eggs

10 1/2 oz. rolled oats-not instant {1 1/2 cups}

5 1/2 oz. raisins {1 1/2 cups}

6 oz. walnuts

Crunchy salt {Maldon or Fleur de Sel} for sprinkling on top before baking {not iodized table salt}

Place oven racks at the 2 center positions & preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg & cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy.  Add sugars & beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time.

Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Stir in oats, raisins & walnuts.

Chill dough for at least 15″ and up to 2 days.

Roll dough into 1 1/2 oz. balls {about golf ball size} & place 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheets.  Flatten cookies slightly with a fork, using a criss-cross motion as you would for peanut butter cookies.  You can use your hand or the bottom of a flat drinking glass.  Sprinkle generously with crunchy salt of choice.

Bake cookies for 16-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown around the edges, and the bottoms are dark brown .  Halfway through baking {8 minutes}, turn cookie sheets from back to front, and switch oven racks.

Cookies on plate including bottom

Makes about 30 cookies

Notes:

  • These cookies are best when the bottoms are dark brown, and perhaps even a little glossy.
  • You can freeze shaped cookies to bake later, adding a little extra time if you bake them while frozen.  I usually like to let them thaw out before baking, although you can bake them frozen.

Cookies are really good with lattes!  Latte

Bon appetit!

 

 


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Salad for breakfast? Yes, please!

I’m fairly certain that I have endorsed salad and other “non-breakfast foods” elsewhere on my blog.  But if you missed it, here it is again.  I can and will happily eat most anything.

I like to start my day with healthy & delicious food.  Getting a head start on the day’s vegetables isn’t a bad idea either.

Today, I had one of my favorite breakfast salads, including an ingredient I’ve never used on salad.  Actually, I haven’t used a lot of chia seeds, but I am trying to incorporate them into our food more often.  Not sure I can get into the gelatinous texture that chia provides when allowed to sit and gel, but they were great on my salad.

You’ll need a fork and a spoon for this dish-a fork for the salad on top, and a spoon to scrape up the delicious yogurt at the bottom of the bowl.  The yogurt mingles with your dressing, and any other flavors that make their way downward.

You can build a breakfast salad any way you like, including adding an egg on top, which I didn’t do this time, but it is delicious.  This is the salad I created this morning…

Breakfast salad, green tea, ry-vita

Yogurt on the Bottom Breakfast Salad 

Nancy’s Whole Milk Plain Organic Yogurt- a few spoonfuls, no more than 1/4 cup

Salad greens-I used curly green leaf & baby beet greens

Onion- thinly sliced pole to pole {my favorite cut for salad}

Tomatoes- I used cherry tomatoes from my lanai garden

Avocado- as much as you like

Fresh herbs- I used tarragon, dill & cilantro from my lanai garden

Fruit- I used 2 dried plums {a.k.a. prunes}

Freshly ground salt & pepper

Red wine vinegar {or your favorite vinegar}

Extra virgin olive oil

Plop a few spoonfuls of yogurt at the bottom of your bowl-if you put too much, it can overwhelm your salad.

Add greens, onion, tomatoes, avocado & fresh herbs.  Season with freshly ground salt & pepper.  Drizzle red wine vinegar and olive oil over all.  Garnish with a few prunes, admire your creation & enjoy with toast, or a Ry-Vita buttered with organic pasture butter and tea as I did.

Bottom of bowl yogurt breakfast salad

Bon appetit!