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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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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An Abundance of Deliciousness

First, I would like to say that I realize that the way my husband and I do things will not work for everyone.  Our lifestyle literally revolves around what we eat and cook.  It sounds kind of funny to say that, but it is true, and I know that most people probably do not have that luxury.  That being said, I hope that you will find an idea or more that you can implement in your kitchen to streamline your meal preparation.

If you are like my husband and me, a trip to the farmers market, or even the grocery store, sends you home with an abundance of beautiful fresh delights; sometimes even more than you can reasonably eat.  I mean, how can you resist gorgeous heads of crisp freshly picked lettuce, deep magenta beets freshly dug with greens as proud as a peacock, and the plethora of other super fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables?  Really, how can you?  The farmers market is like a candy store to us {my wonderful husband is actually the one who leaves the house a little after 6 am every Saturday}, so Saturday mornings offer many opportunities to prep, cook and figure out how in the world it will all fit into the refrigerator.  It can be overwhelming and a bit frustrating, because the sheer quantity of vegetables makes it extremely difficult to navigate the refrigerator.  Do you know how much space greens, particularly unprepped greens, take up?  Lots and lots!  I wrote about this very subject last year, and told you what we did with our market bounty everyday for 1 week {some photos appear to be missing for some reason; sorry about that}.

Beets with Greens

This is $4 worth of beets & greens!

 

Today I have some more tips for how we manage what comes home from the farmers market.  Before we moved to Maui, most of our produce came from Central Market, my favorite grocery store in Washington State.  The farmers market was only a few months of the year, and more often than not I did not have the willpower to get up early on a Saturday morning after teaching all week.  So I went to the store, and was unable to resist the bountiful displays of fresh fruits and vegetables, and I am sorry to say, we wasted some of that food now and then.  I was teaching full time plus {no teacher I know only works full time} and even with the best intentions to cook the Swiss chard, or the butternut squash I didn’t always get to it, and sometimes. . .sometimes. . .we threw food away {gasp!}.  Such a sad tale, but it happens to the best of us.

I am happy to report that since we have moved to Maui, we waste very little food.  There are a variety of reasons for this.  The main reasons are that we both know what’s in the refrigerator, and we prep some foods so they are ready to eat.  When you are busy, it’s easy to reach for something quick instead of taking the time to wash the greens, or cut up the broccoli, etc.  Sound familiar??  If you have a refrigerator full of fresh produce, but none of it is prepped, when pressed for time you will probably go for what’s quickest to prepare, while what was beautiful on Saturday languishes, until it is thrown away.  We did the same thing, and still do, although not nearly as often these days.  Another reason is that we have more time for food than we ever had, and for that I am grateful.

  • My husband is the primary food shopper & I am the primary “put the food in the refrigerator” person.  We both know what’s in the refrigerator, so we don’t tend to forget what we have, even if it gets pushed to the back {which it inevitably does in our smaller size refrigerator}.
  • We try to eat the more perishable food toward the beginning of the week, so we aren’t tossing food because it’s lost its appeal or integrity.  So, the spinach, broccoli {before it goes yellow}, arugula, tender lettuces and Swiss chard get eaten first. . .most of the time. . .we aren’t perfect.
  • We try to prep many foods before they go into the refrigerator.  For instance. . .
    • Wash & steam or roast your beets; don’t even put them in the refrigerator until they are cooked.  You can peel them when they are done & store them for use throughout the week, on salads or as a hot or cold vegetable.  If you want to make pickled beets, make a super quick pickling liquid while they steam.
    • If your beets came with greens, cut the stems off.  Wash the greens well, spin dry then store in a ziplock bag.  Beet greens are usually on the sandy side, so you may need 3 changes of water to get them squeaky clean.  They are pretty sturdy, so you don’t have to cook them right away.  Here’s a recipe for cooking beet greens, which I think are my favorite cooked greens {I love cooked greens!}.
    • Wash at least a couple days’ worth of lettuce, spin dry and store in ziplock bag with 10 little holes poked in it.  Read why you should do this here.
    • Wash enough arugula for 1 or 2 meals and eat it soon; it shows signs of wear and tear even right after you clean it.  We love it simply dressed with thinly sliced onion, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper.  The beets you prepared are good here too!  And crumbled goat cheese!
    • You can wash & trim green onions ahead of time so they are quick & easy to use in a stir fry, salad or a healthy nibble on your plate.  This was a pleasant surprise to me;  I tried it one week, and they stayed fresh beautifully for the whole week.
    • Remove the outer leaves of cabbage, wash and store in a zip lock bag.
    • Trim celery, separate into stalks and wash.  Store in a ziplock bag for easy use.  Good to eat with a little salt, peanut butter {!!!}, in tuna salad, soup, pimento cheese, goat cheese, cream cheese, etc.
    • Wash, seed and halve peppers-green, red or yellow.  They will keep just fine in a ziplock bag for several days.  Just reach into the bag for a crunchy snack!

Bon appetit!

 

 


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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}.


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Better late than never.”  The origin of “better late than never” is Canterbury Tales {circa 1386}, and was coined by Geoffery Chaucer.  It comes from the story The Yeoman’s Tale.

The timing of this post leaves a little to be desired, but better late than never they say, and I agree.

I wanted to tell you about a fantastic event that happens on Maui, on the second Monday of each month.  It is an opportunity to attend free theatre called ONO {One Night Only}, and it takes place at the Historic Iao Theatre in Wailuku.  Not only is it free theatre, it is excellent theatre!  Wow, how fortunate we are to have such a great treasure less than 30 minutes from home.  Anyway, I was busy finishing up the final project for my physics of cooking class, and everything required to get new tenants into our home across the ocean in Washington.  And then. . .I got sick. . .nothing serious, just a cold. . .a dumb pain-in-the-rear cold, which is doing what colds do, traveling to places I’d rather it didn’t, making sleeping difficult.  It could be worse, so let’s just forge ahead and be thankful for everything else that is good in life.  Needless to say, we did not make it to ONO, and if you went, it was because of your own accord, with no help from me-hope you enjoyed it!  Just for the record, it was a one-man show, the actor playing Einstein {he even looks like Einstein in the picture}.  There is another great theatre opportunity though, but you need to hurry and get yourself a ticket to see La Cage aux Folles, at the same wonderful Historic Iao Theatre.  If you live on Maui, you may know about this terrific local theatre, and may already have a ticket.  If you don’t live here, and are lucky enough to be jetting our way before the show closes this weekend {yes I do realize that this notice is terribly last minute}, you should seriously think about going.  We were accustomed to attending fantastic theatre in Seattle, and before that San Francisco, and thought that by moving to Maui, we may be trading great theatre for warm, fragrant trade winds, but that is not the case my friends.  We have a gem in the Iao Theatre, so hope you will take in a show one day.  The next second Monday ONO, presenting Cactus Flower, is on its way soon; see you at the Iao!

If you like frozen desserts {like ice cream!} and haven’t yet tried my Banana Mocha Peanut Butter Soft Serve, I suggest that you do.  Or, you could give some frozen bananas and frozen cherries a whirl and try my newest soft serve.  I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily call these delectables desserts, because they make fantastic post walk/run/fill-in-the-blank activity treats, and because there is no sugar beyond what is in the fruit and chocolate chips, I deem them to be pretty healthy.  Like I mentioned in my Banana Soft Serve post, this is best made and eaten right away, or within the hour {in the freezer of course}.  Left in the freezer for too long,  the creamy mixture becomes rather hard and difficult to eat unless you process it again.  I made a double batch once, and decided it was easier to just make it fresh and enjoy it right away.

We bought a bag of beautiful frozen pitted sweet cherries at Costco, and I’ve just been snacking on them straight from the freezer.  Then it occurred to me that cherries and bananas would make a tasty combination, with some dark chocolate thrown in for good measure, and lo and behold, they play together quite nicely indeed.

Frozen sliced bananas, frozen sweet cherries & dark chocolate

Banana Cherry Soft Serve with Dark Chocolate

Banana Cherry Soft Serve with Chocolate

1 medium to large frozen banana
6 frozen sweet cherries
10 dark chocolate chips {I love Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet chips}
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Walnuts
Raw cacao nibs

Slice the frozen banana into the work bowl of a food processor {For this quantity I use a mini food processor.  You could use a blender, but you will need some liquid to get it going.}

Add cherries, chocolate chips and vanilla.  Process until smooth and creamy.

Top with raw cacao nibs and walnuts.  Enjoy!

Variations:

~ You can use all chocolate chips {or chop your favorite chocolate} or all cacao nibs

~ Substitute sour cherries for sweet, but you may need to add something sweet.

~ Substitute your favorite nut for the walnuts.

Bon appétit!


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Cranberries for Breakfast

A few tidbits about cranberries. . .
~ The cranberry is native to North America.
~ Cranberries bounce because of air pockets inside the fruit.  They are also called bounceberries.
~ If you were to string all of the cranberries harvested in North America last year, it would reach from Boston to Los Angeles more than 565 times!

Source of information:  http://www.oceanspray.com/Kitchen/Plan-It/Family-Fun/Cranberry-Fun-Facts.aspx

Some time ago, I posted a few ways that we like to eat plain yogurt.  Cranberry season is here, which means we can swirl some raw cranberry orange relish into creamy plain yogurt for a delicious breakfast treat.  Topped with walnuts & a sprinkling of raw cacao nibs, it makes a great breakfast with a piece of toast and some tea.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our favorite yogurt is Nancy’s.

Nancy's Plain Yogurt

Nancy’s Plain Yogurt

When you open up a new yogurt, stir it well until all the lumps are out and it is super creamy.  Add whatever you like to make a healthy and delicious breakfast.

Plain Yogurt with Cranberry Orange Relish & Broken Walnuts

Plain Yogurt with Cranberry Orange Relish & Broken Walnuts

You could stop with the cranberry orange relish {recipe here} and walnuts, or do as I did and sprinkle a few raw cacao nibs over the top.  In one fell swoop, you can boost the taste & the nutrition of your creamy bowl of yogurt.  What a deal!

Try some raw cacao nibs on your bowl of yogurt!

Try some raw cacao nibs on your bowl of yogurt!

I enjoy having some toast with my yogurt.  It adds somewhat of a “savory” bite to counter the yogurt’s sweetness, even though this yogurt isn’t super sweet, since it only contains a bare minimum of sugar.  I wrote about this bread before, but it’s worth revisiting.  It is simple to make & tasty to eat.

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread with Star fruit

Better eat it quickly, because the butter is almost melted!  I prefer my butter sitting on top in cold, thin slices.  Mmmmmm!  This bread is just about as good as cinnamon rolls, but a lot easier and quicker to make.  With the cranberry orange relish, more fruit isn’t really required, but the star fruit makes a pretty addition to the plate.  Aren’t they cute?  Star fruit is a tropical fruit whose season runs from July-February in the U.S.  It is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.  According to Food Chemistry, star fruit is a good source of antioxidants, particularly the kind found in green tea and red wine.

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread
adapted from Easy Little Bread

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F) 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup/140 grams whole wheat flour
1 cup/100 grams oats
1 cup/125 grams unbleached white flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
5 dates, snipped into small pieces
1 cup broken walnuts
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing {you probably won’t need it all}

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, salt, cinnamon, dates and walnuts in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush a 9” x 5” loaf pan {8 cup} generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat – to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

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