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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Passato of Vegetables with Chard & Croutons

If you are a vegetable lover, you must try this delicious soup.  It goes together quickly so you can have it on the table in under an hour.  It is good hot or cold.

¼ c extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, finely diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 large waxy potato, peeled & diced {Yukon Gold, yellow, white salad and red potatoes are good choices; russets are too mealy}
1 14 ½ ounce can of diced tomatoes
1-2 bunches chard leaves, roughly chopped; ribs removed & finely diced {You can throw in some spinach or dinosaur kale in here too, but I think I would stay away from greens that are too bitter, for this soup.}
1 garlic clove, minced
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Fresh lemon juice to taste

To finish:  1 c small bread cubes {I usually use sliced bread that I have in the freezer, including the heels.}
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano-Reggiano for shaving

Warm the oil in a pot with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the vegetables, season with ¾ t salt, then cover the pot & cook over low heat for 30 minutes, during which the vegetables will produce quite a bit of delicious juice.  While they are cooking, bring 1 quart of water to a boil.

Carefully puree the cooked vegetables with the hot water, beginning with a small amount and adding more, up to 3 or 4 cups, depending on the thickness you want.  I use 3 cups.  Leave a little texture or make the soup smooth, as you wish {I like biting into a piece of potato or other vegetable, so I never puree it smooth.}. Return it to the heat, taste for salt & season with pepper.  Add lemon juice to taste to sharpen the flavors; I generally add the juice of a whole lemon.  Note: I have found that if I blend the soup until it is very smooth, it becomes quite silky in texture, which we enjoy.  So, that’s how I’m doing it these days.

Crisp the bread cubes in a little olive oil over medium-low heat {or in the oven}, until golden, about 8-10 minutes.  Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil & add the croutons.  Shave cheese over the top & serve.

Recipe adapted from:  Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen {one of my very favorite cookbooks!}


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Chicken Sandwich with Lime Herb Aioli

Aioli is a French garlic mayonnaise, which is delicious. This Lime Herb Aioli is my spin on the traditional sauce. I use homemade mayonnaise from the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but you can use jarred mayonnaise if you desire.

Ciabatta split & toasted
Cut clove of garlic
Rotisserie chicken
Thinly sliced onion {lots}
Arugula {you can substitute another green here}
Tapatio Hot Sauce {or your favorite}
Lime juice
Lime Herb Aioli {recipe follows}
Salt & pepper
Toast the ciabatta under the broiler until browned. Rub bread with a cut clove of garlic; little bits of garlic will grate themselves onto the crispy bread, imparting a most delicious flavor. Spread aioli on both sides of bread. Add chicken, onion & arugula. Sprinkle arugula with lime juice, Tapatio & salt & pepper. Top with second slice of bread & eat. Delicious!

Lime Herb Aioli
Mix mayonnaise {about 2/3c} with 1 clove garlic mashed into a paste, lots of pepper, lime juice & minced herbs {basil, chives & parsley are good}.


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Silky Chocolate Pudding for Grownups

This is a silky chocolate pudding for adults; it’s not the super sweet pudding from your childhood.  It’s delicious, especially on the day you make it.

3 c milk
3 T cornstarch
3 T cocoa powder {I use Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder}
1/8 tsp salt
2 T sugar
Espresso powder to taste {I use about 1 tsp}, optional
1 tsp vanilla
1 T butter
In a medium size mixing bowl {I sometimes use an 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup, because the handle allows for greater ease in getting the pudding out of the microwave for stirring; the mixing bowl gets hot!}, stir together cornstarch, cocoa, salt & sugar together.  Whisk in enough milk to make a thick, smooth paste; this will help to break up any lumps.  Whisk in the remaining milk.  Microwave the pudding on high for 3 minutes, whisk vigorously & repeat until pudding thickens. The last time you may only need to microwave it for 1-2 minutes. The pudding will thicken as it cools, so don’t cook it so long that you end up with rubber pudding.  Whisk in vanilla & butter.  Cool to room temperature & eat, or chill.

Notes:
~You can also cook the pudding on the stove.
~I happen to love “pudding skin” but if it’s not your cup of tea, press a piece of plastic wrap right on top of the hot pudding.


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Meatloaf Sandwich on Ciabatta Bread

Ciabatta rolls, split & toasted under the broiler, then rubbed with a cut clove of garlic
Thinly sliced onions
Meatloaf, sliced about ½” thick, and slightly heated {just to remove the chill}

Spread one side of ciabatta with mayonnaise.  Top with onions and meatloaf.  Top the meatloaf & the other piece of the ciabatta with lots of catsup.  Smoosh the sandwich together if it seems too thick.


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Fresh Oregano Vinaigrette

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp minced shallot
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard {smooth or grainy} or ¼ tsp dry mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced or made into paste
Freshly ground black pepper

Add minced shallot to vinegar & let sit for about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients & whisk together until blended.

This is one of my new favorite dressings.  You can use other herbs, or a mixture, if you like.