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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Wild Alaskan Salmon

It feels good to be back in the author’s chair {actually, I usually write from the sofa} and writing again!  When I first started writing Maui Girl Cooks, I had no idea how much I would enjoy writing about food, and sharing my thoughts and recipes with all of you.  I have always enjoyed the editing process, and writing about my food passion is just such a pleasure; perhaps I should have started a blog several years ago, but I’m quite sure I didn’t have time to teach full time and write a blog.   

I’m sad that I’ve been “off the air” for so long.  I didn’t fall off the face of the earth; I wasn’t trekking around the globe; I wasn’t sick; I wasn’t struck by lightning; I didn’t stop loving everything to do with food.  No, my absence had everything to do with our computer.  The computer that we have been cursing for so long finally died.  It was acting up for quite a long time, then it finally gave up the ghost; I came home one day and it was stone cold dead.  No amount of wishing, coaxing or pressing function keys would bring it back to life.  This became the golden opportunity to ditch the Windows machine and finally become a 100% Apple household.  Score!  But there is a learning curve when you switch operating systems, so please bear with me. Writing posts on my iPhone seemed like a chore, so I didn’t.  The online physics of cooking class that I’m taking is still in session.  I did 2 weeks worth of lectures, homework and labs on my iPhone; oh my, that was interesting, but I made it through.  I’m pleased and proud that I have completed all homework and labs to a degree sufficient for a Harvard certificate of completion, once I complete my final project, which has to do with making perfect chocolate chip cookies.  I will let you know all of the details, once I have finished tweaking everything to my satisfaction.   

Since we moved to Maui, the best salmon we have eaten has been from a can {very tasty canned salmon}.  Fresh salmon of the caliber that we were accustomed to in the Pacific Northwest isn’t found in the grocery stores here; it just isn’t as fresh.  It’s a small price to pay for being warm in March.  Anyway, back in September, we had the opportunity to purchase wild Alaskan sockeye salmon. My husband happened to be talking with a nutritionist at the gym, and she mentioned that a friend would be bringing in Alaskan salmon, and asked if we would be interested in buying some.  But of course we would!  The filets were cleaned, vacuumed sealed, frozen and absolutely gorgeous!  The salmon came packed in 20 pound boxes, and we decided to buy 2 boxes.  We sold a few filets, but have been enjoying this delicious salmon several times each week.

We have prepared it a number of ways, but here is our favorite way to cook this succulent and healthy fish.

IMG_1611

 Baked Salmon

1 salmon filet, rinsed and patted dry, pick out any bones you can see/feel

Mayonnaise {homemade or store bought}

Salt and pepper {kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper}

Thai sweet chili sauce

Green onions, thinly sliced

Fresh cilantro, whole leaves or minced

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with pan spray.  Place the salmon skin side down on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper.  Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the fish {I use a table knife to do this}.  Drizzle salmon with Thai sweet chili sauce.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven, until the salmon registers 140 degrees F, about 15 minutes.  You can cut into the salmon to check for doneness, but I prefer using a thermometer.  If you cut into it, make sure it is still moist in the center, as it will continue to cook once it is out of the oven.  Leaving it in the oven until it looks completely cooked {i.e. flaky} will result in salmon that is dry and overdone. Sprinkle the top with thinly sliced green onions and/or fresh cilantro when ready to serve.

The mayonnaise keeps the salmon moist, and the Thai sweet chili sauce adds a nice flavor.  The chili sauce has no redeeming qualities other than tasting good, and it is one of the few prepared foods we use.  It’s not something we eat everyday, and when we do, we don’t eat a lot of it, so we don’t feel too bad.  Call it a guilty pleasure.  We always eat some of the salmon right away, but think that it is even better the next day; it seems more moist for some reason.  As a matter of fact, the next day we like to prepare one of our favorite new creations.  It is an adaptation of the Asian Salmon Bowl that we used to order at The Harbourhouse Pub in Winslow, WA.  We have expanded upon their bowl of brown rice, fresh spinach, Asian slaw, ginger vinaigrette and wild salmon, and made something even more delectable.

Salmon with Brown Rice and Asian Flavors

Salmon Salad with Brown Rice and Asian Flavors

Cooked brown rice {of course, you can use any rice you like}

Cooked salmon

Arugula, julienned

Snow peas, cut into thin slivers {optional, but adds great crunch}

Fresh jalapeños, thinly sliced {if you like a little zest}

Green onions, thinly sliced {reserve some of the greens for the top}

Extra virgin olive oil

Citrus of some kind {I used Calamansi limes this time}

Unseasoned rice vinegar {use seasoned if you prefer}

Tamari or low sodium shoyu {soy sauce}

Salt and pepper

Toasted sesame seeds

Sliced avocado

Variations. . .

Crunch-  If you don’t have any snow peas, you can use something else to add crunch like matchstick size carrots, sliced almonds, thinly sliced cabbage, roasted peanuts or celery.

Protein- No salmon in sight?  Try some barbecued chicken, tempeh, tofu or steak.

Citrus- Calamansi lime, regular lime, lemon, orange or tangerine

Greens- arugula, romaine or some other sturdy lettuce

If your rice isn’t freshly cooked, warm it up and sprinkle with shoyu and rice vinegar.  Top the rice with greens of your choice, julienned into bite size pieces.  Toss the jalapeños, snow peas and green onions {or your favorite crunchy ingredients} on top of the greens.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with salmon, or other protein.  Drizzle with Thai sweet chili sauce, then squeeze a good amount of citrus over all.  Shower with thinly sliced green onion tops and toasted sesame seeds.  Add some lovely green slices of ripe avocado and enjoy!

Bon appétit!

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Jacques Pepin’s Gratin Dauphinois {Scalloped Potatoes}

“Serve the cold potatoes for lunch the next day with a green salad, seasoned with oil and vinegar and a lot of chopped garlic.”  Jacques Pepin

I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, full of great food,  good company and holiday cheer.  You may feel the need to lighten up your eating, if you have indulged in a few too many holiday treats.  If not, then you should make these potatoes soon, maybe for New Year’s Eve, a birthday dinner or some other special occasion.   Otherwise, put this recipe in your back pocket for a delicious side dish.  Although these potatoes have long been a family favorite, it is not a family recipe.  The recipe for Gratin Dauphinois {Scalloped Potatoes in Garlic and Cream} is from the first cookbook my husband bought for me.  We spent several snowy Christmases on the beautiful north shore of Lake Tahoe, and it was on one of these occasions that I received The Great Cooks Cookbook: a Good Cooking School Cookbook {James Beard, Alexis Bespaloff, Philip Brown, John Clancy, Edward Giobbi, George Lang, Leon Lianides, Helen McCully, Maurice Moore-Betty, Jacques Pepin, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi; 1974} as a gift.  Look at the young Jacques Pepin!

The Great Cooks Cookbook

I have made a few recipes from this book, including Edward Giobbi’s delicious lasagna that took 2 days to make {homemade marinara sauce, homemade béchamel sauce, homemade spinach noodles rolled by hand, etc.}, but the potatoes are the favorite in our family.  In fact, I could never make enough potatoes for all 8 of us, so my mother-in-law gave me a baking dish that is quite a big larger and deeper than the 9” x 13” that I had been using.  The recipe is really quite simple, but the results are exquisitely tasty.  There is a subtle taste of garlic infused cream that makes you want to follow one bite with another.   And as mentioned above, they are delicious with extra virgin olive oil {just a dribble}, red wine vinegar and chopped garlic.  Yum!

Gratin Dauphinois

Gratin Dauphinois
{Scalloped Potatoes in Garlic and Cream}

2 lbs boiling potatoes {5-6 cups, sliced}-I usually use Yukon Golds

1 lg clove garlic

2 c milk {If I am buying milk for this dish, I’ll get whole milk, but if I already have 2%, I will use it.  They are still delicious!}

1 1/2 c heavy cream

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 t freshly ground white pepper {You could use black pepper, but you will see black specks in your potatoes.  I can live with that, but I usually have a little bag of white peppercorns on hand.  I simply empty my pepper grinder into a little bowl, put the white peppercorns in the pepper mill and grind away.  Then put the black peppercorns back into the mill.}

1 tbsp butter

1/2 c grated Swiss cheese {about 2 ounces}-I always use Jarlsberg or Gruyere since we always have one of these in the refrigerator.

Peel the potatoes, wash and dry thoroughly.  Slice the potatoes fairly thin-1/8” thick.  I use my Cuisinart 3mm slicing blade.  Do not soak the potatoes in water or they will lose the starch needed for the dish to be smooth.

Peel the garlic; crush it with the broad side of a knife and chop it very fine.  It should have the consistency of a puree.  In a large heavy saucepan, combine the potato slices with the garlic, milk, cream, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching {and the mixture can scorch very easily}.  As the liquid gets hotter, the mixture will thicken slightly; remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a shallow glass baking dish {I use 9” x 13”} about 1 1/2” deep, and pour in the potato mixture.  Sprinkle cheese all over the top; place dish on a cookie sheet to catch any spills and to allow more even transfer of heat.  Bake for about 1 hour, until potatoes are golden brown and tender when pierced with the point of a knife.  Let rest for 15”-20” before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Bon appetit!


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If you’re busy, never cook for one meal; always cook for two or three.  Put it in the freezer, but it doesn’t have to encore in the same form.” Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Kula Black Raspberries

Kula Black Raspberries

Who knew?  Not me.  I had no idea that some nice farmer is growing black raspberries, on Maui, for our eating pleasure {in November!!!}.  My husband purchased these beauties at the Upcountry Farmers Market.  What a pleasant surprise!

Luscious Fresh Berries

Luscious Fresh Berries

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

We love fresh berries with a dribble of heavy organic cream and a flurry of powdered
sugar. . .pure bliss. 

Unlike other easier to eat berries, cranberries elicit strong opinions from those who either love them or loathe them.  We happen to enjoy cranberries, and have a few favorite ways to use them.  I should say that I am talking about fresh cranberries, not the dried ones.  We do like dried cranberries, but they are not the same healthy powerhouse as the fresh variety.

Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries

Once the berries are dried, the sugar and calorie content skyrocket.  Fresh berries are only available a few months of the year, so if you want them year round, you will need to buy them now and squirrel them away for another day.  We like to rinse fresh cranberries in a colander, blot them dry and then put them on a parchment-lined sheet pan for a short stint in the freezer; this will prevent them from freezing into a solid block of cranberries, which will not be user friendly.  If you do not have parchment paper, a flexible cutting board works well, but I do not recommend using waxed paper, as it tears easily from being wet and it will be harder to remove the frozen berries.  Once the berries are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag and enjoy them whenever you like, in breads, cookies, hot cereal, smoothies or relish.

Ready for the freezer!

Ready for the freezer!

One of our favorite cranberry recipes is for fresh cranberry orange relish.  We also like cooked cranberry relish, but this is what we make most often.  We have significantly reduced the sugar for our tastes, but you can certainly adjust it for yours.  I enjoy this relish the most on plain yogurt {yum!} with big pieces of walnuts.  It is also good to have a spoonful on a green salad, or with any traditional cranberry-friendly foods.

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
adapted from Superfoods Rx.:  Fourteen Foods that will Change Your Life  {Steven Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews}
12 ounces fresh or *frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 unpeeled orange {preferably organic}, washed, cut into eighths and seeded
1/3 cup sugar {the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup}

Put the cranberries, orange slices and sugar into a food processor.  Process until everything is evenly chopped.  Chill until ready to eat.  *If you use frozen cranberries, partially thaw them before processing, or you will end up with a big cranberry orange ice ball.

The relish gets better as it sits and the flavors mingle.

Makes about 3 cups

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

We enjoyed several kale salads last week, all of them with cranberry vinaigrette.  The tart-sweet of the vinaigrette pairs perfectly with kale’s bitterness and the creaminess of fresh goat cheese.  A few other ingredients make this salad a winner.  Not to mention the fact that the dressing is a gorgeous hue of creamy cranberry pink.  It looks kind of like raspberry gelato.  I apologize for the lack of photo-we ate all the dressing.

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
I made several versions of this salad recently, this being the most elaborate with the addition of canned tuna.  You can put in whatever you like, but I think the most important additions are the goat cheese {for creaminess} & the toasted walnuts {pair excellently with the goat cheese and cranberries, and for a toasty CRUNCH}.

Kale, enough for 2 salads, washed, dried well & torn into bite-size pieces
Thinly sliced sweet onion {or red}
1 avocado
1 can tuna {we use Wild Planet}; optional
Fuyu persimmon, washed and thinly sliced {I don’t peel them, but you can if you like.}
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Toasted walnuts
Fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Cranberry Vinaigrette {recipe below}

Put the kale into 2 bowls and dribble with enough dressing to moisten.  Top with onion, avocado, tuna {if using}, tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and walnuts.  Put a ring of persimmon slices around the edge of the bowl.  Add a grind of salt & pepper then top with dressing.

2 servings

Cranberry Vinaigrette
2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or tangerine juice)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine cranberries, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook about 5-10 minutes, or until the cranberries pop.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour cooled cranberry mixture into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the mustard and orange juice and blend.  With the motor running, stream in the olive oil.  Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Makes about 2 cups dressing

Did you know that. . .
Fresh cranberries:
* are low in calories {44/cup}
* are high in fiber
* are low in sugar
* aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections {UTIs} by preventing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract lining
* are high in phenols which are plant chemicals known to be highly protective against many health problems {i.e. toxic to cancer tumor cells}
* helps to prevent bacterial adhesion to teeth and the stomach lining, preventing dental plaque and ulcers, respectively

Information from:  The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth {Jonny Bowden, Ph. D., C.N.S.}

Happy Thanksgiving & Bon Appetit!


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“How did it get so late so soon?”  Dr. Seuss

It’s a fact. . .I am behind.  I am behind in my blogging and I am behind in the online class I am taking {HarvardX: SPU27x Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science}.  In addition, I am under the weather.  But it’s not being under the weather that has caused me to be behind; I have no good excuse for that, other than the fact that time gets away from me.  It always has, and I suspect it will continue that way into the foreseeable future {my husband certainly thinks so}.  I have not worn a watch since I stopped teaching in June of 2011, and I like it that way.  I love days when I could care less about what time it is, which are the 5 days a week that I do not go to work.  When I have something going on, I check the clock periodically, but other than that, I like just being present in the moment.

Since I am “lying low” around the house for a few days as I get well, I am going to try and do some catching up.  Yesterday, I finished up the lectures on the concept of elasticity {measured by determining how a food resists compression-think overcooked tough steak compared with rare tender steak}, which was the topic 2 weeks ago.  Today, I am hoping to start watching the lectures on diffusion and spherification, the topics from  last week.  Before next Tuesday, when the new lectures are posted, I need to view the lectures on this week’s topic of heat transfer.  Of course, I also have labs and homework to get done!  Where did the time go, and why did I let myself get behind?  This class is quite interesting, but the science is not for the faint at heart. Many moons have passed since I’ve thought about physics and chemistry concepts and equations; yikes!

I have a number of favorite ingredients, one of which is Parmesan cheese.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I only consider fresh Parmesan that you grate yourself {Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, etc.}.  The stuff in the cylindrical green can just doesn’t cut it for me.

It doesn’t take long to grate up some fresh Parmesan and then pop it into a container to use on all kinds of foods.  You can use a hand grater, box grater or food processor.  It’s great on all kinds of salads, pasta, pizza, etc.

Grated Parmesan on Waxed Paper

Parmesan in Jar

Recently, we have gotten into Caesar salads, which of course include Parmesan cheese.  I have several Caesar dressings that I like, none of which come from a bottle.  One dressing, the one I’m going to share with you today, is from Alice Waters’ book The Art of Simple Food:  Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution.  The other recipe, which I haven’t made for quite awhile, I will share once I have made it again.  Of course, we enjoy Caesar salads with romaine, which is traditional, but Caesar dressing is also great on kale.  Without further adieu, because I have a lecture to watch on diffusion and spherification, here is one of my favorite recipes for Kale Caesar Salad.

kale caesar 1

Kale Caesar Salad

1 bunch kale, stemmed, well washed and dried
Caesar dressing
Croutons for garnish

Caesar Dressing {from The Art of Simple Food:  Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

Mix together:
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pounded to a puree
2 tsp chopped salt-packed anchovies {about 2-3 filets}
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk in:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Right before serving, grate:
1/2 Parmesan cheese {about 1 ounce}

Whisk into the dressing:
1 egg yolk

Add a small handful of the grated cheese and whisk until thick.  Taste for salt and acid with a piece of kale.  Adjust the seasoning as needed.  Put the kale in a large bowl, pour three quarters of the dressing over the salad and toss.  Taste and add more if needed.  Add most of the rest of the grated cheese and toss lightly.  Arrange the salad on plates.  Garnish with the last of the cheese, croutons and a grind of pepper.  Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon.

Croutons {homemade croutons are immeasurably better than store bought}

Toss about 20 small bread cubes {about 1/2 inch square} with 1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and a little salt.  Spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally for even browning.

Notes:
*  I use anchovies packed in a jar, which I think would be less salty than the salt-packed ones.  I have never tried salt-packed anchovies.  I sometimes rinse sardines and then blot them dry to reduce their saltiness.
*  If you prefer not to use raw egg in your dressing, you could use a pasteurized egg.   I’ve used pasteurized eggs before with success.
*  Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Avoid the bottled stuff, which is light years away from tasting like fresh.
*  For croutons, I always use whatever whole grain bread I have on hand.  May as well make the croutons as healthy as a crouton can be!

Bon appetit!

This is a link to Melissa Clark’s {food writer for the NY Times} take on anchovies:
http://www.melissaclark.net/blog/2011/04/anchovies.html


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“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thoughts on enjoying the perfect pear may be true for raw pears, although I think his window is a little narrow.  My new favorite way to enjoy pears is roasting them, which I will tell you about in a moment. 

I try to walk most days, and enjoy listening to podcasts on my iPhone while I walk.  I subscribe to a number of podcasts, several which have to do with my favorite subject-food.  Here are some I highly recommend:

These podcasts are all hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, who is an American food writer and radio journalist out of Minnesota.

The Splendid Table– hour long program which is “public radio’s culinary, culture and lifestyle program which celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.”
Key 3– a series of discussions with great cooks about the 3 techniques or recipes that they think everyone should know
How to Eat Supper/How to Eat Weekends– short shows {around 10 minutes or less} based upon the 2 books

After I baked a couple batches of Mocha Truffle Cookies Saturday, I turned off the oven and popped in some fruit.  “What’s that?,” you say.  Putting the fruit in after the oven is turned off?  Yes indeed!  I popped some pears into the oven for about 50 minutes, and what emerged was tender, juicy fruit ready to eat in a variety of ways.  Look at the gorgeous browning that occurred in that short period of time. 

roasted pears

close up of roasted pears

Roasted pears in bowl

The first time I tried this, I roasted Bosc pears and Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced.  My husband thought they needed a little something extra, so he drizzled just a bit of local honey over the fruit, and a touch of freshly ground salt.  As most of us know, a little salt complements the sweetness of fruit.  I sprinkled the fruit with sliced almonds after it came out of the oven, and we enjoyed it with some dark chocolate.  Delicious!  I have also just put the fruit in with no extras, and that’s good too.  Plain yogurt is excellent topped with roasted fruit, nuts, cinnamon and a sprinkle of cacao nibs. 

yogurt with roasted pears

yogurt with roasted pears close up

I got the idea for roasting with the oven off from the podcast How to Eat Weekends {episode from 6 October 2011}.  If you listen to the podcast, you will hear about many other foods that you can roast, but I haven’t tried anything other than apples and pears {yet!}.  The beauty of this method is that it is energy efficient, it is tasty and you can use fruits or vegetables that may not have stellar flavor if eaten raw {think tomatoes, apple or pears that may be a little mushy, etc.}. I hope you will listen to this podcast and then try roasting some of your own fruits and vegetables.  It is quick, easy and delicious! 

Roasted Pears

 Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and fill with thinly {about 1/4 inch} sliced pears.  Slide into the oven after you’ve turned off the heat and let the fruit “roast” for about 50 minutes.  You can drizzle the fruit with honey and sprinkle with a little salt and nuts if you like.  I didn’t put the nuts on before roasting, but think I will start doing this.  Enjoy plain {warm or cold}, with dark chocolate or over ice cream.   

Just for fun-perhaps you will find your city in this list of culinary winners from Saveur Magazine

Bon appetit!


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“These are decadent!”  a comment from one of my coworkers

It’s been a long day, so this will be a quick post.  I took these cookies to work today, & they were a hit.  These cookies are great if  you…

… are craving cookies.

… are craving chocolate or mocha.

… need a quick dessert to take to a potluck.

… want to surprise your friend with cookies.

… you had a light dinner and feel like a little dessert.

… you get the idea!

Close up of cookies

Mocha Truffle Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips {I use Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet}
3 tsp instant coffee {I use 2 packets Starbucks Via}
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
4 tbsp plus 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup Heath Bits ‘o Brickle Toffee Bits
Maldon salt {optional, but a delicious addition}

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt butter & chocolate chips; stir until smooth, and then stir in coffee and stir until dissolved; let cool for 5 minutes.  Add sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to chocolate mixture and mix well.  Stir in toffee bits. 

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart {I prefer to weigh my cookie balls, making them 1 1/4 ounces each.} onto a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, or lined with parchment or Silpat.  Sprinkle a pinch {2-3 flakes per cookie} of Maldon salt flakes on top of cookies.

Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are set.  Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 24.

Notes:
~ To melt butter and chocolate chips, I microwave on 50% power for 1 minute, stir and then do another minute at 50% power.  Microwaves vary, so your timing may be different.
~ Add chopped nuts if you like.
~ You can adjust the coffee up or down to your taste.
~ Don’t overbake!  I take the cookies out of the oven when the edges are set {slightly firm}.  The middle will be soft {that’s where the “truffle” part comes in}.
~ You can freeze the cookies.  They are particularly delicious if you take them out of the freezer and wait for a couple of minutes before eating.  Their texture is dense, fudgy and GOOD!

Cookie close up

Bon appetit!


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“The kitchen, reasonably enough, was the scene of my first gastronomic adventure. I was on all fours. I crawled into the vegetable bin, settled on a giant onion and ate it, skin and all. It must have marked me for life, for I have never ceased to love the hearty flavor of raw onions.”  James Beard (1903-1985)

First of all, I have to tell you that I am super excited about the class that I signed up for, which starts this Tuesday!  It’s called Science & Cooking:  from Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science.  It is offered through Harvard {yes, that Harvard!} and it’s free.  Scientists and chefs will be getting together to teach this course about the science of cooking.  Check it out!

This week’s farmers market find- freshly dug sweet Maui onions!  Yum!  We have been waiting for these & now they are here.

Group of Maui onions 1 Just about everyone has an opinion about onions.  We go through a lot of onions at our house, which is a good thing, because onions are a healthy food to eat, and they add great flavor to food. Group of Maui onions 3 We love all kinds of onions- green onions {aka scallions}, shallots, leeks, white onions, pearl onions, yellow onions and sweet onions {Maui, Walla Walla, Texas Sweets, Vidalia, etc.}.  They can be enjoyed raw, cooked or caramelized so that they are brown, sweet and jammy. Closeup of peeled  new Maui onion This onion was delicious in a salad with arugula, steamed beets and thinnings from the basil seeds I planted a few weeks ago {apologies to those who will not be growing basil outside for awhile!}.

Young Basil Seedlings 1

I hadn’t thought to pair basil with arugula, but it was a good match.  I consulted the Flavor Bible, which is one of my favorite books, and that is where I saw that basil and arugula go well together. Arugula salad with basil thinnings I dressed this salad with my usual arugula salad dressing of fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground salt and pepper. Closeup of arugula salad with basil trimmings I have not always been an onion lover.  Like many kids, I ate my spaghetti with butter {I still love noodles with butter!}, salt and pepper.  I don’t remember if I had cheese on it, but if so, I’m sure it was that awful stuff in the green cylindrical can; you know the one to which I’m referring.  I think it was the onions in the spaghetti sauce to which my immature palate was objecting, but I’m not really sure why I didn’t want to eat spaghetti sauce.  I had no problem eating chili or beef stew, which definitely contained onions.  My mom’s {and now my recipe} delicious potato salad was eaten {by me} before the celery and onions went in.  It must have been the crunch, in addition to the onions, that I did not care for.  Crunch did not belong in creamy soft potato salad, in my opinion.  Mind you, I was not really a picky eater.  I ate just about everything, except celery, onions and this dressing that my grandmother made to dress dandelion greens.  It was some kind of cooked dressing, and I really did not like it.  In fact, I amazed my relatives with the quantities of food I consumed.  “Does she have a hollow leg?” they wondered.  “Where does she put it?” they inquired. Raw onions became a part of my diet in my early 20’s, when my husband returned from a business trip to Atlanta, GA with a sack of Vidalia onions.  He bought them at the airport, like tourists buy Maui pineapples at the Kahului Airport.  Boy, were those onions ever good; nice and sweet and perfect mingling in a bowl with sliced cucumbers, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  My mom makes great cucumbers and onions with apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper; I’m sure I just ate the cucumbers way back when.  Now, I can’t get enough onions.  Thankfully, most kids grow up and expand their food horizons to include foods they wouldn’t touch in their youth, but now find delicious. Several techniques can be employed to make onions more palatable, as well as make them more suitable for a particular dish.  The way an onion is cut makes a huge difference on how it tastes in any given recipe.  Click here to view a Fine Cooking video on a few different onion cutting techniques. I usually cut onions 4 different ways: Large Dice– Large dice is great for onions that will be cooked in spaghetti sauce, stew, vegetable soups, this quesadilla filling and that type of thing.  The large dice holds its shape during cooking, but at the end will be soft and pleasant to eat. large dice onion Minced- Minced onions belong in guacamole, potato salad, coleslaw, some bean salads and places where you don’t want to bite into a big piece of raw onion, especially when that onion isn’t a sweet variety. Minced onions Lyonnaise– Lyonnaise is also called “pole to pole” because you are cutting the onion in crescent shapes from the root end to the blossom end.  It is my favorite way to cut onions!  I love this cut for green salads, cucumbers and onions, pickled beets and recipes where I want to see the onion, and taste it, but not have big chunks.  When I cut this way, I always thinly slice the onions if they are to be served raw.  Even a strong onion {i.e. not a sweet variety} is palatable when thinly cut pole to pole. Lyonnaise cut onions 3 Sliced- Sliced onions are cut across the equator, and are great served raw or caramelized on a burger, sub {hoagie, grinder, etc.} or other sandwich.  I think onions for sandwiches should always be sliced paper thin; pile them on, but they must be thin or they will slide right off {Tomatoes too should be thinly sliced, but my mom will disagree with me here.} Sliced red onions If you are tired of your green onion slices rolling off the cutting board, try slitting the white part of the onion lengthwise, so you have half-moon slices-no more mischievous onion slices rolling around!

Not just a tasty vegetable and seasoning for many foods, onions have numerous health benefits.  Click on this link to the National Onion Association for nutritional information, tips and recipes.

This is  how one amongst us spent his day. . . not an ounce of friskiness in this pussycat! Jack napping

How do you enjoy onions?

Bon appetit!