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


4 Comments

The Anatomy of a Simple Summer Salad

“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”  ~ modified from Edward Stanley

Tis the season for salads!  Welcome Summer!  Even here in Maui, where it always feels like summer during the day, we have growing seasons for our locally grown fruits and vegetables.  Truth be told, we eat salads all year long, and did even in the depths {and despair} of cold, rainy Pacific Northwest winters {paired with something hot and hearty, of course}.  The fresh flavors and textures of salads, created from myriad ingredients, including vegetables, fruits, herbs and grains cannot be beat. Salads need not be complicated to be delicious.  They can be as simple as arugula with thinly sliced onion, salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.  This is one of my favorite flavor combinations.  Today’s lunch salad was not only gorgeous, it was a gastronomic delight!  Select whatever greens you like, but I think it is best with a tender lettuce like red leaf, Manoa, butter or some other soft variety.  Once you cut the fruit off the mango, use your impeccably clean hands to squeeze the pit, because it will release a lot of delicious juice that will become part of the dressing; I hold it over my salad and squeeze until it has given up all it has to give.   It is impossible to cut every bit of flesh off of a mango, so this is my way of getting every last bit of goodness from this tasty fruit.

 

Salad with steak, purslane & cilantro blossoms

 Salad of Greens, Mangoes, Tomatoes, Purslane and Steak

Salad greens, washed and spun dry {your choice}
Green onions, thinly sliced
Tomatoes, diced
Mangoes, diced
Steak, cut into bite size pieces
Cilantro leaves, fronds & blossoms
Purslane clusters
Champagne vinegar, or other mild white vinegar {white wine, unseasoned rice}
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put greens in a bowl and top with onions, tomatoes & their juices, mangoes and steak.  Top with a few purslane clusters and cilantro leaves, fronds & blossoms.  Season salad with salt and pepper.  Squeeze the mango pit over the salad to release all the juice you can.  Drizzle with champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste.  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If you don’t have green onions, a sweet onion like Maui, Vidalia, Walla Walla Sweet, etc. would be delicious.
  • Add any protein you want, or none at all.  Chicken, salmon or shrimp would all be nice.
  • I used cilantro fronds & blossoms because I have one overachieving plant that has outgrown all the others, which are too small to harvest, and I am trying to use the whole plant.  Use whatever you have.  Mint and/or basil would be fabulous!
  • If you don’t have purslane in your garden, try to get some from the farmers’ market.  If you see little black seeds around the leaves, lucky you!  Plant those seeds and grow your own purslane, which is what I did.  It is doing quite well, thank you very much.
  • Papaya would also be good in this salad, but you won’t have any juice like with mango.
cilantro plant

Cilantro-don’t forget to use the fronds and blossoms; they are pretty & delicious!

purslaneplant

Purslane is easy to grow. In fact, you may have some in your yard, as it is considered a weed {a healthy weed}.

Advertisements


6 Comments

A Dense & Delicious Poppyseed Cake

Every so many years, my birthday coincides with Father’s Day; such was the case this year.  Sadly, my father passed away in 2008 and my husband’s father in 1985.  We celebrated our fathers along with my birthday.  Also, yesterday Maui Girl Cooks turned one year old!  On Sunday, in honor of all of these events,  I made a cake {it really was just my birthday cake}.  Lest you think one should not bake one’s own birthday cake, it is no problem at all; I do not mind.  Many foodies have been known to make their own birthday cakes.  All kinds of possibilities tumbled around in my head.  What should I make?  I thought a lot about what kind of cake I wanted–chocolate cake with mocha frosting, Boston Cream Pie, chocolate rum cake, apple galette, this strawberry cheesecake and poppyseed cake were all in the running for the occasion {yes, I know those are not all cakes}.  I finally decided on poppyseed cake with this lemon curd.  Time did not allow for the lemon curd, but I will make it soon, and you will be among the first to know how it goes; I have no doubt that it will be delightful.  My ideas for variations on this poppyseed cake are many and I will share the results with you when I make them.  I baked this cake once before, sometime within the last year I think {last year’s birthday cake too maybe??}.  It was excellent, but I tweaked it just a bit this time, reducing the sugar a tad and adding lemon zest.  Next time I will add more lemon zest.  It was a fine birthday cake! Slice of Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Lemon Poppyseed Cake
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone {Deborah Madison}

1 cup poppyseeds stirred into 1/2 cup hot milk {when ready to use, drain off any unabsorbed milk}
2 cups {10 oz.} whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced and softened
1 cup sugar minus about 1 tbsp {5 3/4 oz}
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream or buttermilk {I had neither, so I used 1 tbsp white vinegar with milk to make 1 cup}
Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic {next time I will use 2 lemons}

Set the poppy seeds aside to soak in the milk until needed {if you have time, soak the seeds for a couple hours}.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly butter and flour {or spray} a 9-inch springform pan.  Mix the dry ingredients together and set them aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they form firm but moist peaks and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, then beat in the yolks one at a time until smooth.  Scrape down the bowl, then stir in the sour cream or buttermilk, drained poppy seeds and lemon zest.  Add the dry ingredients in thirds.  If using a mixer, this can be done on low speed.  Scrape up the batter from the bottom of the bowl to make sure it’s well mixed, then stir in a quarter of the beaten egg whites before folding in the rest.  Smooth the batter into the pan, then bake until golden, firm. and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 50 minutes.  Remove from the oven, set the cake on a rack, and gently remove the rim so that the cake can cool. We have always enjoyed this cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, but it would be delicious with fresh strawberries and softly whipped cream, as Madison suggests. Makes 1 9-inch cake, serving 10-12.

Bon appétit!


3 Comments

Something of Importance and Banana Frozen Yogurt with Raw Cacao Nibs

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

This post was started at the end of May, and was then interrupted by a couple days at work and a trip to Oahu to visit family.  I’m happy to be finishing it tonight!

On my walk this morning, I saw something on the ground, something that upon closer inspection, made me sad.  It was a student-made book called “My Fourth Grade Memories.” The pages were bound between 2 royal purple construction paper covers.  Did the book’s author know that his or her 4th grade “memoir” was on the ground?  Was it casually tossed out because it wasn’t deemed important enough to take home to share with family members?  Or did it simply fall to the ground because it wasn’t placed securely into the backpack?  I wonder if the author has noticed that the book is missing.  School is out now on Maui, so summer vacation has officially begun.  My Washington teaching friends still have another month or so {sorry about that!!}.  Soon their students will write their own memory books and summer vacation will begin for them {summer weather too, I hope}.

4th grade memory book

There is a children’s picture book called The Important Book {Margaret Wise Brown}.  I used to share this book with my primary students when I taught elementary school.  The book offers kids the opportunity to contemplate their own ideas of what is important about different things {daisies, grass, snow, apples, etc}.  I’m not sure what made me think about this book now, unless it was the mystery 4th grader’s book on the ground.  Anyway. . .

The important thing about Saturday is that it is market day.  It is usually sunny, golden and warm, but sometimes the wind blows, rain splashes down and it’s chilly {really}.  Green is most abundant in lettuce, kale, chard, scallions, broccoli, asparagus and arugula.  Hues of orange and gold arrive in the form of kabocha squash, ripe papayas and mangos. Gingery brown kombucha is effervescent with spicy sweet fresh ginger flavor.  Yellow Meyer lemons {!!!} burst forth with tart-sweet juice, and the pink grapefruits will be enjoyed soon.  Purple beets will be pickled and purple cabbage thinly sliced into salads.  Tomatoes are the only crimson in the collection of fruits and vegetables for next week’s good eats.  Vendors and customers enthusiastically greet one another and share secrets about how to most enjoy this fruit or that vegetable.  Electricity is in the air, as people fill their market bags and baskets with fabulous local produce and products, grown and made by hardworking people who care about good food.  But the important thing about Saturday is that it is market day.

I was warm at the end of my 3 mile walk this morning, so I made a delicious banana frozen yogurt snack.  I wrote about ways to use frozen bananas here and here, but this morning’s frozen yogurt was especially delicious.  If you have bananas in your freezer, you are less than 5 minutes away from a delicious breakfast, snack or dessert.  You can alter this “recipe” in so many ways that you almost never have to make it the same way twice, unless you want to.

It seems that I forgot to photograph adding the yogurt, vanilla & roasted peanuts, but you get the idea.

sliced bananas in food processorsliced bananas, pb and salt sliced banana, pb, salt, cacao nibs enjoy your frozen treat

Banana Frozen Yogurt with Raw Cacao Nibs

1 large frozen banana, or 2 apple bananas {a local variety which is half the size of a Cavendish banana, the kind usually seen in the grocery store}
2 heaping teaspoons {a teaspoon you eat with, not a measuring spoon} plain yogurt {I used full fat this time}
1 heaping teaspoon  {a teaspoon you eat with, not a measuring spoon} crunchy peanut butter
1/2 tbsp raw cacao nibs
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
2 grinds sea salt
splash of vanilla

Thinly slice the bananas into a small food processor {I have a Cuisinart Mini-Prep}.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy; you want to be sure that the bananas are completely broken down and smooth.  The yogurt will be crunchy from the peanut butter, peanuts and cacao nibs, and that is a really good thing~yum!

Notes:
* If I think about it, I’ll put the yogurt into my serving bowl and pop it into the freezer for a little while, so my final product will be a bit more firm.  You can put it into the freezer after it’s made also, if you like, but I wouldn’t leave it there for more than an hour or two, or it will be too hard.
* Try adding different nut butters and/or nuts.
* Substitute chocolate of your choice for the cacao nibs
* Cocoa or espresso powder anyone??

Bon appétit!