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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Something of Importance and Banana Frozen Yogurt with Raw Cacao Nibs

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

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

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

4th grade memory book

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

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

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

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

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

Banana Frozen Yogurt with Raw Cacao Nibs

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

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

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

Bon appétit!

 

 


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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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“Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first.”  Ernestine Ulmer

I saw some beautiful flowers on my walk today, & couldn’t resist photographing & sharing them with you.  My walk was enjoyable as always, and warm, because I didn’t leave until a little after 7:00 am.  The sun doesn’t take long to “warm up” in Hawaii; it pretty much makes its appearance & is hot right off the bat.  If you want a cool walk, you need to leave before the sun peeks over Haleakala, or after it dips behind the West Maui Mountains.

Sunset from Bedroom Window

If you have visited Maui, or live here, you know that there are chickens all over the place.  I have seen some beautiful chickens here, but the family I saw on today’s walk are about the homeliest bunch I’ve encountered.

Fowl

Truth be told, I am more excited about what I made after I returned from my walk.

I made this. . .

This is a fantastic way to end a walk on a hot day!

This is a fantastic way to end a walk on a hot day!

Oops…I was so anxious to eat my dessert that I forgot to snap a photo until these two bites were left!  Side-by-side with ice cream, I could certainly tell the difference.  All by itself, I don’t need ice cream.  We always have a stash of frozen bananas, so this is a breeze to make {& eat}.

Banana Mocha Peanut Butter Soft Serve

2 frozen bananas, sliced
1 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 tsp instant coffee {I use Starbucks Via}
1 tsp cocoa {I use Dagoba unsweetened with bits of unsweetened chocolate}
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of kosher salt
1/8 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
20 dark chocolate chips {or your favorite}
Splash of milk, dairy or otherwise, if you need it for blending

I used my Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor for this recipe.  Put the bananas, peanut butter, coffee, cocoa, vanilla & salt into the processor.  Process until the mixture starts to become creamy; you may need a little liquid to get it going.  I used a little of my homemade almond milk.  Add in the peanuts & chocolate chips & blend until they are somewhat chopped up, but not totally.  Eat right away, or freeze.  I prefer eating it right away, or freezing for just an hour or 2.

Serves 2 {or 1 if she doesn’t feel like sharing}

Bon Appetit!


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Amazingly Delicious Banana Nut Muffins

Banana Muffins final

If you are a banana nut bread lover, you must try these muffins.  They are dense, moist, banana-y, and just plain delicious.  I have put my own spin on them to make them healthier and even tastier than the original recipe.  The list of ingredients is perhaps a little longer than most muffin recipes, but they go together quickly, and are definitely worth your time.

As far as I’m concerned, any banana bread or muffin must contain walnuts & be eaten with butter;  preferably the bread is cool enough so that the butter just sits on top so you can really taste it.  There is something special about the flavor combination of sweet banana bread, crunchy walnuts & creamy butter.  Another “must ingredient” for me in these muffins is cacao nibs.  Cacao nibs are one of my favorite ingredients.  As you can see from the package, they are a Mayan Superfood, with antioxidants, iron & magnesium! Don’t expect to snack on them from the package, because they have no sweetening, so aren’t like popping chocolate chips.   I buy these from Amazon:

Cacao nibs are a nice addition to banana breads because they add a little punch of chocolate flavor in every bite.  What's not to like about that?

Cacao nibs are a nice addition to banana breads because they add a little punch of chocolate flavor in every bite. What’s not to like about that?

The original recipe calls for strong coffee & suggests water if you don’t have coffee.  I highly recommend using coffee, even if you are not a coffee drinker, because it adds a layer of flavor that you can’t detect as coffee; it’s just good.  I buy the Starbucks Via packages from Costco when they go on special.

Starbucks Via fina;

Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from http://busterbucks.hubpages.com/hub/Worlds-Best-and-easiest-Banana-Nut-Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp. strong coffee {you can use water, but I highly recommend the coffee}
Milk, buttermilk or coconut milk-enough to make 2 cups TOTAL wet ingredients {if you use 3 bananas you may only need a few tablespoons; if you use one banana, you may need to add 2/3 cup or more}

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp. ground flax seed {preferably grind your own from whole flax seeds}
2 tbsp. hemp seeds
2 tbsp. raw cacao nibs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg {I use whole nutmeg, freshly grated on a rasp.  Definitely worth it!}
1 cup broken walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Be sure to put the muffins in a fully preheated oven.

In a small bowl, put all of your wet ingredients-make sure you mash the bananas thoroughly with a fork.  Stir in the egg with the fork, and then add the remaining wet ingredients.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix your dry ingredients.  I always put the measured baking soda & baking powder in my hand & smash any lumps; it’s not pleasant to bite into a lump of baking soda in your muffin.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir gently {12-14 quick strokes}.  Do not over mix-this will result in tough muffins.  Who wants tough muffins?  There may be a few streaks of flour but that is ok.

Spray your muffin tins with coconut oil spray {or Pam}, or grease them with butter.   Lightly spoon in your batter {don’t pack it in}.  You can fill the tins up to the top.

Put the muffin tin into the preheated oven & bake for 20 minutes {I always start checking at 18 minutes}.  They are done when a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Leave the muffins in the tins for 5-10 minutes, and then remove them to a wire rack.  Enjoy with butter!

Here are a few other ingredients I like to use.

Penzeys Nutmeg2

Hemp Seeds

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

Penzeys Cinnamon final