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

salad with mango and vanilla vinaigrette


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A Splash of Vanilla in Your Salad

There are 4 basic tastes that come together to provide us with pleasure {hopefully} in the food we eat:  salty, sweet, bitter and sour.  There is also a savory taste, a fifth taste, known as umami.  Foods rich in umami include mushrooms, tomato paste, anchovies and green tea, among others.  Adding umami rich foods to a dish can elevate it to a new level, even though no one would ever be able to pick out that ingredient {for example, anchovies}.  How many people who love Caesar Salad know that there are anchovies in the dressing?  Many ingredients we add to our recipes are not in-your-face flavors, but are subtle, adding a layer that makes a difference in the final dish.

Desserts aside, I normally would not choose to eat something sweet over something savory.  While I can eat an alarming amount of chocolate frosting or brownie batter, I prefer a flavor profile that includes sour, bitter and salty over sweet. I enjoy a tart salad dressing, and when I make vinaigrettes, I am liberal with the vinegar, not adhering to the usual guideline of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil.  But I was thinking about vanilla the other day, and wondering how it would taste in a vinaigrette.  I found a recipe online for Vanilla Vinaigrette and tried it out on a green salad that included mango and avocado.  Consider me hooked on Vanilla Vinaigrette.  It not only has a great alliterative name, but tastes fantastic, adding a slightly sweet and tropical flavor when drizzled over the right salad.  Vanilla Vinaigrette isn’t for just any salad, but it is wonderful on salads that include fruit.  Fruit salads aren’t usually on my radar screen;  I love fruit, and don’t make fruit salads per se, but include fruit on many of our green salads.  What makes Vanilla Vinaigrette work is its subtle sweetness that mingles with the fruit. The fruits that work best with this dressing are tropical fruits and summer fruits, avocado included.  I love avocados, particularly the way they gently break down and become a part of the dressing.Green Salad with Mango & Vanilla Vinaigrette

As you can see in the picture, we added a bit of protein to our salad, in the form of a hard cooked egg.  I saw someone eating a hard cooked egg the other day, and the inside was atrocious, with an ugly gray-green ring around the yolk, so I thought I’d include the directions I use for making eggs with beautiful yellow yolks.

Hard Cooked Eggs
recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Put eggs in a single layer in a saucepan with a cover.  Bring them to a gentle boil {uncovered} and boil for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 6 minutes.  If you are going to use them later, put eggs into an ice bath to stop cooking.  Otherwise, peel and enjoy warm with a bit of salt and pepper.

Vanilla Vinaigrette
adapted from Food.com

3 tbsp white wine vinegar {champagne vinegar also good}

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp sugar {original recipe called for 1 tbsp}- add more or less to suit your taste

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

Notes:

  • I have always used romaine with this dressing, but a Manoa, Bibb or Butter lettuce would be fantastic.
  • Mangoes, lilikoi {passion fruit}, blueberries, stone fruit and avocado are all delicious!
  • Some herbs that work well are basil, mint, tarragon and cilantro.
  • Sweet onions are always a nice touch, and pretty as well.
  • Chopped macadamia nuts that have been lightly toasted in coconut oil & salted make a delicious crunchy topping!

Bon appetit!

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Soft Boiled Egg with Sautéed Kale, Goat Cheese & Sherry Vinegar

I think I have mentioned before that vegetables are my favorite food, with green vegetables being at the top of my favorites.  Some may think it odd, but the taste of green rocks, in my book.  On occasion, I enjoy having vegetables for breakfast, just to get a head start on healthy eating for the day.  Disclaimer:  I am writing this after consuming a not so healthy lunch at a little Mexican place in Kahului.  The wet chicken burrito was very good, and I would order it again.  As I was thinking of the wonderful salad we would have for lunch, which was going to involve grapefruit, among other tasty things, my husband informed me that he can only eat our usual healthy way for so long, then he needs something a little heftier, like Mexican food.  So off we went to Amigo’s.   At least I walked/ran 4 miles this morning, before the rains came.  Anyway, I have been wanting to try Deb’s {Smitten Kitchen} soft cooked egg, and I finally decided to give it a try.

Soft boiled egg on sautéed kale

Soft boiled egg on sautéed kale

The only experience I have had with soft cooked eggs was quite a long time ago.  My mother-in-law used to make them for my husband when he was young, and he has fond memories of eggs prepared this way, so we made some. Although they were certainly tasty, they were also certainly a pain to crack open and eat before they got cold. . . I never made them again.  My mom used to hard cook an egg and then smash it up with butter, salt and pepper; I loved that and still make it every now and then.  The reason I wanted to try soft cooked eggs again, in spite of my not so positive experience with them, was that Deb’s way of eating them does not involve carefully slicing off the top part of the shell and scooping the egg out with a spoon.  She actually releases the egg from its shell;  I can do that!  Deb serves her eggs up with toast, butter and cheese {!!!} and cooked spinach.  I will do that as well, but this time I kept it simple~sautéed kale with a smashed soft cooked egg on top.  I didn’t take the time to make toast, but of course that would be a delicious accompaniment, as would potatoes {!!!} of some sort {I love our creamy, locally grown potatoes!}.

Soft boiled egg with sauteed kale and goat cheese

Soft boiled egg with sauteed kale and goat cheese

Soft Boiled Egg with Sautéed Kale, Goat Cheese & Sherry Vinegar

Kale, a couple handfuls per serving, washed and dried well

Extra virgin olive oil, about 1 tbsp

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sherry vinegar

Eggs, 1 or 2 per serving

Fill a 1 quart {or larger} saucepan with water, and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, gently lower the eggs into the water.  Set the timer for 6 minutes if you intend to eat the eggs immediately.  If your eggs will be waiting around for a few minutes before you eat them, set the timer for 5 to 5 1/2 minutes; the eggs will continue to cook in the shell while waiting to be cracked.  See Deb’s photographs on Smitten Kitchen to check out the difference between eggs cooked different amounts of time.  When the timer dings, gently rinse the eggs under cold water, just so they will be easier to handle.  Peel the eggs and set aside.

While the eggs are cooking, heat up the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold your kale.  When the oil is hot, add kale and toss it around so that it will cook evenly.  Season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper while you are tossing it about, so all of the seasoning is not sitting on one leaf of kale.  The kale is best, in my opinion, when lightly sautéed, as opposed to being completely cooked down.  If it is cooked too long, it can get that canned greens taste, which isn’t the best.  Taste a leaf and take it off the heat when you think it tastes great.  Sprinkle the kale with some sherry vinegar to taste.

Put your sautéed kale in a bowl or on a plate, top with the peeled egg.  Smash the egg, and season it with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Crumble some soft fresh goat cheese over all & enjoy.

Bon appetit!


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“There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast” Anonymous

This is so true!  Jack has all kinds of tricks to wake us up when he thinks it is time for him to eat his breakfast.  He’s just like Simon’s Cat.

It’s late, so this is going to be short.  Breakfast is important because if you think about it, when you wake up, you probably haven’t had any food for 10 hours or so; it’s time to nourish your body.  We had a simple, but tasty breakfast this morning.  Rye toast topped with my husband Gerald’s eggs fried in a little coconut oil and pasture butter, broccolini with a bit of home made mayonnaise and a beautiful mango with freshly ground salt and pepper.  And tea, of course!

Eggs, Broccoli & Mango