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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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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Express Post: Asparagus

This is going to be an express post, because I have a lot of things I want to get done today, but I want to tell you about our new favorite way to eat asparagus . . . just in case you get your hands on some fresh asparagus.  To our great delight, a new crop of Maui-grown asparagus has hit the Upcountry Farmers Market!  If asparagus isn’t available in your area just yet, don’t fret-spring is coming your way soon.  Just for the record, I love thick spears of asparagus;  I want to know that I am biting into something.  We enjoy asparagus steamed, then topped with freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice, freshly ground salt and pepper and homemade mayonnaise.  It’s also fantastic roasted in a hot oven, after rolling around in some extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground salt and pepper and sprigs of fresh thyme.  I was looking for ideas in my newest Deborah Madison book, Vegetable Literacy, and found a way to cook asparagus that we think is genius, not to mention downright delicious.  It is pretty much the same technique as this green been recipe I shared with you a few months ago, which is our new favorite way to eat green beans.

pan griddled asparagus 2

Griddled Asparagus
adapted from Vegetable Literacy {Madison}

1 bunch asparagus
olive oil, for coating asparagus
kosher salt
Maldon Sea Salt, or other flaky sea salt, to finish
freshly ground pepper

If you are using asparagus with thick spears, peel the lower parts so they will be tender.  Toss the spears with olive oil to coat {you don’t need a lot} and season lightly with salt.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

When the pan is hot, add your asparagus.  Don’t move it around just yet; you want some color to form on the spears that are in contact with the pan.  When you see some beautiful browned spots on your asparagus, toss the spears around in the pan.  You do not need to methodically move them one by one. Keep the heat on medium high and continue cooking the asparagus for several more minutes, until they are tender when poked with a sharp knife.  Some of the larger spears may still be a little al dente {crisp}, but I assure you they will be perfectly delicious.

Serve the griddled asparagus on a platter sprinkled with whatever crunchy salt you have selected.  Although I think it is perfect just like this, without any other additions, Madison suggests rolling the cooked spears around in Tarragon Butter and a few other sauces from her book.  I greatly respect Madison’s opinions when it comes to making delicious food, so I will probably try some of these sauces in the future.

Bon appetit!


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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

Cultured Foods {aka Bugs, Who Needs ‘Em?}

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“Fermented foods help people stay healthy,” Sandor Katz author of New York Times best-selling book “The Art of Fermentation.”

Before we get to the heart of the matter of cultured foods, here is a photo of yesterday’s sky.  I was at the pool and the sky was so beautiful I had to take a picture.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but you get the idea.

October sky

My husband and I do a good job of learning about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle in terms of eating and exercise, and then we implement what we have learned to the best of our abilities. Our latest foray into healthy eating is fermented {cultured} foods. Please understand that in no way do I consider myself an expert on cultured foods; I am far from an expert, and know just enough to be dangerous. We have been eating cultured foods for years, because we enjoy them, but have intentionally added more into our diet because of the health benefits. Here are some of our favorite cultured foods, all of which we buy at Mana Foods, for those of you on Maui:
~ YogurtNancy’s Yogurt {contains 11 different culture strains} has been a staple for more than a decade.
~ Sauerkraut and Fermented Pickles- We have recently started purchasing sauerkraut that is raw and unpasteurized, so that the beneficial microbes are available to us. One of our favorite brands is Sonoma Brinery. Farmhouse Culture makes fantastic sauerkraut as well. I LOVE their Smoked Jalapeno Kraut; I don’t find it at all smoky, but perfectly spicy! My husband prefers the Ginger Beet flavor, which I also like, but not as much as the Smoked Jalapeno. Both of these companies offer excellent products that are reasonably priced.  If you want sauerkraut, these are a must try!
~ Kombucha We drink a little kombucha most days. Our kombucha comes from Maui Kombucha.
~ GoodBelly Probiotic Drink This is a delicious nondairy nectar-like drink. My favorite flavor is Mango.  If you sign up for their Goodbelly Challenge, they will email you some coupons!
~ Sour Cream- We often spoon a bit of cultured sour cream on our quesadillas. Sour cream is always a yummy addition to a spicy dish.
~ Tempeh Tempeh is a fermented soy product from Indonesia. Our current favorite way to eat tempeh is seasoned with freshly ground salt and pepper and sautéed in a bit of coconut oil until golden brown.   Eat with ketchup and you have something that resembles French fries. A heavy drizzle of Sriracha Sauce is a great addition, if you like a little mouth burn, like I do.  We also make a delicious sandwich that we call a “TLT” meaning Tomato, Lettuce and Tempeh.  It is fantastic on toasted ciabatta bread.  Our tempeh is in the freezer until we are ready to eat it, and then it thaws very quickly.
~ Miso- I like kale salad with Outstanding Miso Sesame Dressing. There is also miso soup, which is delicious!

Here are a few of the cultured foods we’ve enjoyed in the last few days:

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Tempeh Sautéed in Organic Coconut Oil

Slice tempeh into approximately 1/2 inch slices.  Spray skillet {we use cast iron} with pan spray, then melt about 1 tbsp. of coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add the tempeh slices.  Season with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Sauté, turning occasionally, until golden brown.  Serve hot with ketchup and Sriracha Sauce, or whatever you like.

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Yogurt with Pineapple, Peach and Cranberry Preserves

Put some yogurt in a bowl, and top with homemade preserves, and your choice of any or all of the following toppings:  unsweetened coconut, maple syrup {the real stuff please, preferably Grade B}, good quality honey, cinnamon, cacao nibs, nuts, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, Buckwheat Chia Crunch  or anything else you’d like.

Pineapple, Peach and Cranberry Preserves

**This is really more of a guideline than a specific recipe.  You can adjust everything to your taste, including changing the fruits to what you have available.

1 Maui Gold pineapple
1 quart chunked fresh or frozen peaches
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
approximately 1 tbsp. good quality honey
Juice of 1/2 a juicy lemon
Grind of salt

Get a Maui Gold pineapple if you can {we buy ours at Costco, maybe Mainland Costco sells them also-I think they do}, otherwise a “regular” fresh pineapple will do.  Cut up the pineapple into chunks {see previous pineapple blog post}.  Put all of the pineapple chunks into a wide-mouthed saucepan {for better evaporation of the liquid}.  Add 1 quart of peach chunks {we used the peaches we froze in August} and 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries.  You can certainly use a different berry if you are not a cranberry fan, but you can’t really identify them as cranberries as far as taste goes .  Squeeze half a lemon and add the juice, and then throw in a cinnamon stick and a grind of salt.  Spoon in some good quality honey to taste.  We used about 1 tbsp.  Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer on low until thickened.  The timing will depend on how juicy your fruit is.  The  preserves will thicken as they cool.

These preserves are meant to be made and eaten within a week or so; they are not preserved, so will not keep.

These preserves also taste great with one of our new favorite breads, from 101 Cookbooks.  I have made several of her bread recipes, and we have loved them all.

easy_little_bread_recipe 1000Photo from 101 Cookbooks

Easy Little Bread
from 101 Cookbooks
1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing

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, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush an 8-cup loaf pan {9″x5″} 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, slathered with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

Adapted from Gran’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Notebooks of Dulcie May Booker.

Prep time: 10 min –    Cook time: 35 min

My Variations of Easy Little Bread {follow the same mixing instructions as the original recipe}

Variation #1:  Oat Rye Bread with Sunflower Seeds

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
140 grams whole wheat flour
100 grams oats {not instant}
65 grams dark rye flour
60 grams unbleached white flour
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt {I used kosher salt}
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing

Variation #2:  Cinnamon Date Bread with Walnuts

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
140 grams whole wheat flour
100 grams oats
125 grams unbleached white flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt {I used kosher salt}
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing
5 dates, snipped into small pieces

Have you added any delicious cultured foods to your meals?  If so, which ones?

If you are in Maui, you may want to visit the Upcountry Farmer’s Market.  They sell many different kinds of cultured foods there.

Additional Reading:
http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/some-of-my-best-friends-are-germs/

Cultures for Health

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Video of Sandor Katz talking about fermented foods

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

Bon appetit!


2 Comments

“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!