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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A Double Rainbow and a Delicious Salad

Our morning began with the required glass of Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha, then a relaxing stroll on Baldwin Beach in Paia, which is about 15 minutes down the slope of Haleakala from our home.  Lifeguards were not yet on duty, and we shared the beach with fewer than two dozen early risers who wished to start their day with a soundtrack of gentle waves crashing and then receding into the vast Pacific.  The temperature was somewhere in the high 70s, with the perfect level of skin caressing breeze.  A double rainbow spanned the western sky, although the second one was camouflaged by clouds.

double rainbow at Baldwin

Of course, there were the usual dogs running willy nilly, some playing in the salty ocean, and others happily chasing each other in the sand {How did I not photograph the dogs??}.  My husband spotted one of those fluorescent green tennis balls in the sand, which he donated to a lucky dog who passed by at just the right moment; the dog, whose mannerisms reminded us of our dog Max {an Australian shepherd who passed away a few years ago}, was delighted by his good fortune.  It’s a little over two miles to walk the entire beach. . .I highly recommend it if you are in the neighborhood.

Looking north at Baldwin

After our walk, we went for coffee at Maui Coffee Roasters in Kahului.  My husband has a number of free drinks on his card, so that was the perfect way to top off our walk.

Next stop was home for breakfast.  I’ve shared my breakfast salads with you before, and for those of you who are okay with eating salad for breakfast, this one is a winner.  My husband bought some gorgeous beets from the farmers’ market last Saturday, so those definitely had a place in the salad.  There are blueberries in the freezer, which play nicely with beets and goat cheese, so in they went.  And there is more. . .

This is more of a guideline than a recipe, so play around with ingredients & make it your own.  For me, the key components are the beets, berries, goat cheese and nuts.  The black currant balsamic adds a lovely fruitiness which I highly recommend, if you can get your hands on some.  This shouldn’t be difficult, because it seems that olive oil and vinegar tasting stores are cropping up all around.  I read about such a place here on Maui, Wailea to be exact, several months ago in our local paper.  The first one I visited, however, was in Port Townsend, WA.  We moved to Maui in the summer of 2011, but I had not gone back to visit until this year, when I went twice in two months.  What fun I had!  Anyway, in Port Townsend, there it was, this fabulous store {Lively Olive} that had kegs of extra virgin olive oils and vinegars begging to be tasted.  I love vinegar and olive oil, so I was thrilled to stumble upon this place.  I brought home a bottle each of Blenheim apricot white balsamic and black currant balsamic.  I thought the black currant would be great with the blueberries and it did not disappoint.  After returning home, I thought I should visit the store in Wailea {Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars}.  The sales people were offering up all kinds of deliciousness in the form of taste combinations:  coconut balsamic + Persian lime extra virgin olive oil was the one I was particularly smitten with, so I purchased the coconut balsamic.  I decided I would make my own lime olive oil, and make some kind of salad that involved soft Manoa lettuce, sweet onion and mango, among other things.  If you are a Hawaii resident, Fustini’s offers a kamaaina discount!  Feel free to use another vinegar if you can’t find black currant balsamic. . .I’m sure your salad will be delicious!

plate salad with beets, goat cheese

Beet, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad with Black Currant Vinaigrette

Salad greens, washed & thoroughly dried {I used kale and romaine}

Beets, cooked, peeled and diced

Blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen

Onions, thinly sliced

Fresh herbs, torn or julienned {I used basil and mint}

Soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Walnuts, toasted & broken

Eggs, prepared however you like them, optional

Extra virgin olive oil

Black Currant Balsamic

Salt & freshly ground pepper

I like to build meal size salads on a dinner plate, but you can use whatever you like.  The lettuce goes down first, and is topped by the fresh herbs.  Add beets, blueberries, onions and goat cheese.  Top with walnuts, salt and pepper.  Drizzle salad with black currant balsamic and olive oil.  If you are putting an egg on your salad, add it right now.  Enjoy!

plate salad with eggs

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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Refrigerator Confidential Day #7 & #8

Welcome to Refrigerator Confidential Day #7 & #8, the final post of this up close and personal look at our refrigerator.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about the kinds of foods we like to buy at the farmers’ market, and how we manage to eat all or most of it by the end of the week.  It is always a challenge, and does require a fair amount of effort from us, but this is how we like to eat. . .it is our lifestyle, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other way.

Friday’s Meals with Recipes:

Breakfast

Me- Oatmeal with Granny Smith Apples {recipe & photos on Refrigerator Confidential Day #5}
Green Tea
Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha
My husband- Peanut Butter & Arugula Wrap on a Whole Grain Tortilla

Lunch

Grilled Eggplant Moussaka
Pickled Beets {recipe & photos on Refrigerator Confidential Day #2}

moussaka & pickled beets

Layers of russet potato, zucchini, eggplant & seasoned ground beef topped with feta cheese & creamy Bechamel sauce with Pickled Beets

Our friend Molly dropped off a delicious Grilled Eggplant Moussaka yesterday, which I promptly put in the oven for our lunch.  I have never made moussaka, and I’m not sure that I have ever eaten it before, so I have nothing with which to compare it.  Comparisons are unnecessary though, because it was outstanding.  Molly has a business called Maui Go To Girl {“consider it done“}.  If you are a busy person who could use some assistance with meals, errands, moving, event planning and much, much more, please check out her website at www.mauigotogirl.com.  Her services are many and I can assure you that you are in good hands with Molly {food-wise and otherwise}!

Dinner

We went to Milagros in Paia, where you can find one of the best Maui happy hour prices we know of {$3.00 beer and margaritas-no food discount}.  We filed our taxes yesterday, so decided to go out and celebrate with Kalua Pork Nachos-yum!  After we came home, we had popcorn while we watched episode 2 of season 1 of  Twin Peaks.  We didn’t watch it when it first came out, so we are catching up on popular culture.  While it was a tasty eating day, it wasn’t stellar in terms of vegetable consumption-definitely not up to our usual standards.  It’s what you do 95% of the time that matters, according to us. . . you have to be able to eat some not-so-healthy for you foods every now and again.

Peanut Butter & Arugula Wrap on a Whole Grain Tortilla

1 whole grain tortilla {we use organic sprouted wheat tortillas}
Peanut butter of your choice {I can’t imagine not choosy crunchy.}
Arugula-lots of it
Fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper

Spread tortilla with as much peanut butter as you want, and top with lots of arugula.  Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the arugula and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  You could also drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the arugula.  It’s always a good thing to have something juicy on a wrap, otherwise they can be dry.

Here is what’s left from last Saturday’s purchases.  Not bad.  We consider the carrots, celery, cabbages and kabocha squash to be staples, meaning we don’t necessarily don’t intend to eat them all during the week.  Imagine adding all that to what we’ve already eaten!  So really, what’s left are 2 green onions, a half a green pepper, 2 jalapeños and a bit of kale.  We’d call this a successful eating week!  We only ate out twice-last Saturday night at Nuka {mmmm!} and yesterday at Milagros, so that was helpful.

what's left

It’s Saturday again & we have started the cycle all over again!

Here's the foundation of another week of great eating!

Here’s the foundation of another week of great eating!

Isn't this organic red leaf lettuce gorgeous?

Isn’t this organic red leaf lettuce gorgeous?

Beautiful Baby Romaine Lettuces

A Bundle of Beautiful Baby Romaine Lettuces

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I hope your farmers’ markets are open or opening very soon!  Go out and get yourself some delectable fresh produce for your health and good eating.

Bon appétit!


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #4

Welcome to Day #4 of Refrigerator Confidential!  I’m not sure if you noticed, but we can sure tell that the fridge has more room to move around.  Even though it’s great to have a well-stocked refrigerator, it is fun to “eat it down” and look forward to starting all over again on Saturday.

Tuesday’s Meals with Recipes:

Breakfast

Me- leftover baked potato from yesterday’s lunch, 1/2 grapefruit, Breakfast “Borscht”
My husband- same as the last 2 days {plain yogurt, nuts, dried fruit, local honey}

Lunch

Roasted Carrot Soup
Ryvita Crackers with Organic Cultured Butter

Dinner

Leftover Baked Salmon
Orange & Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries
Steamed Beet Greens

Breakfast Beet and Yogurt “Borscht”

I was going to blend up a frozen banana and some plain yogurt to make a banana lassi {although I don’t think you would use frozen fruit in a lassi}, and then it occurred to me that pickled beets and yogurt would be a good combination {think chilled beet borscht with a dollop of sour cream top}.  Mine would be kind of a speedy version of chilled beet borscht.  A big spoonful of pickled beets, with a creamy cloud of plain yogurt swirled in, and a sprinkle of dill and voila, “borscht”!  I tasted it, and thought that some capers would add a nice punch of flavor, and indeed they did.  I love capers!  Actually, I just learned on the Splendid Table podcast last week that capers are more properly called caper buds, because they are the bud of the caper flower {from the caper plant} before it opens.  When the flower drops off, what is left is a caper berry, which looks like a giant caper bud.  I have never tried caper berries, but I hear that they are not quite as pungent as the caper buds.  Had I not eaten the baked potato, I would have enjoyed my yogurt with a buttered Ryvita {a buttered Ryvita is always good}.

Roasted Carrot Soup
adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen 

This is another of my favorite soup recipes from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen .  I think I have mentioned before that it is my favorite soup cookbook, and Madison is my favorite cookbook author.

1 pound carrots, cut into chunks
2 small potatoes, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2-4 tbsp olive oil {I used 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil}
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 hefty thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf {I used 2}
*1 quart vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup light cream {I used 2% milk, and the soup was delicious.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it with cream.}
2-3 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream, stirred with a fork until loosened {I used plain yogurt, but would use one of the other choices if I had them on hand.}
Fresh minced parsley or chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F {I used 375 degrees F.}.  Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and season with 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper.  Put them in a large baking dish sprayed with pan spray for easy cleanup {I used a 9″x13″ Pyrex baking dish.}, along with the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.  Roast until tender and glazed, about 1 hour, turning them 2-3 times.

Transfer the vegetables to a soup pot, add stock or water and bring to the boil.  Simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20″, then puree until smooth.  An immersion blender is a great tool for this-very quick and easy.  Return the puree to the pot {if you used a blender}, taste for salt, and season with pepper.  Stir in the cream or milk.

Ladle the soup into bowls, swirl in a spoonful of creme fraiche, sour cream or yogurt into each, top with minced parsley and serve piping hot.  Delicious and super healthy!

Makes about 4 servings {6 cups}.

*I used to make homemade vegetable stock for soup until I read Deborah Madison say that if you have great vegetables, you can use water in lieu of stock.  So unless a soup calls for a specific stock {i.e. red stock for tortilla soup, mushroom stock, etc.}, I use water and the soup is great.  I do not care for store bought vegetable stock.

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We had a tasty little wine and cheese pupu {appetizer} while waiting for our Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries to roast.

wine and parmesan appetizer

 

Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries

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Roasted Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Make sure you have a rack positioned on the bottom of your oven.
3 potatoes will fill up a half-sheet pan-use 2 pans if you want more fries

Cut potatoes so they are approximately the same size; you can cut them into any shape you want {slices, wedges, French fries…}.  Place potatoes on a sheet pan that has been lined with foil, sprayed with pan spray {they will stick if you don’t} and drizzled with olive oil.  Season with kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes.  The red pepper flakes add a great spicy counterpoint to the sweetness of the potatoes; I wouldn’t leave them out, but if you aren’t a fan of spicy, by all means don’t use them.  I love spicy!!

Roast the potatoes on the bottom oven rack until they are browned and starting to get crispy, stirring occasionally. They will be tender in about 20 minutes, but leave them in longer so they will brown and crisp up.  The purple potatoes can get dried out if you leave them in too long, so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes or so.

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Steamed Beet Greens

Fresh beet greens {1 pound will serve 2-4 people}
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Sherry vinegar or lemon juice

Wash greens well, making sure water is clear, as beet greens can be quite dirty.  Discard any tough stems {or cut small & sauté} and roughly chop the greens.  Spin them mostly dry, but leave some water clinging to the leaves for steaming.  Put greens in a pot large enough to hold them, cover and cook over medium high heat until tender, 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally so they do not burn or stick.  When the greens are tender, season with a little butter, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  If desired, sprinkle with a bit of sherry vinegar or lemon juice.

What’s gone?

  • 1 bottle kombucha
  • salmon
  • both potatoes
  • purple & orange yams {from Costco}
  • beet greens

 

Here is the refrigerator on Day #4:

Wed fridge

 

 


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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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“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!


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A Favorite Lunch

Did you know. . .
. . . that sardines packed in their own oil or extra virgin olive oil are full of good for you omega-3 fats?  It is thought that just 1/2 gram of these fats can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Avoid sardines packed in vegetable oils, as they are not healthy fats.

Anyone for anchovies?  How about sardines?  I know, I know, these are a couple fish that cause many people to turn up their noses.  Not me though; I love them both.  My intention was to write only about sardines, but I figured as long as we are on the subject of unpopular fishes, I may as well tell you how we like to eat anchovies.  Perhaps our way of eating anchovies will work for you as well, that is, if you want to give them a try.

Once upon a time, I too was among the myriad of folks who did not care for anchovies, as was my husband.  One rainy evening, we were eating pizza at Tony’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant, a favorite Italian restaurant of ours in Bremerton, WA.  That is the night we learned how to eat anchovies.  The secret to liking/loving anchovies on your pizza, according to our waitress, is to order them on the side.  Wow, that really makes a difference!  The salty, fishy flavor permeates the pizza if you bake the anchovies on the pizza, but if you have a little plate of anchovies on the side, it tastes pretty good.  You get an occasional salty punch from the little bits of anchovy.  We have happily eaten anchovies on our pizza ever since!

I have been eating sardines for as long as I can remember.  We had tins of sardines in our pantry when I was growing up, and I admit that even though I ate them, I thought they looked kind of gross.  My recollection is that they were not like the nice sardine filets that we eat now, which are every bit as nice looking as a beautiful piece of fresh salmon {except they aren’t pretty pink}.

Wild Planet Sardines

One of my favorite quick lunches is a “fish cracker” and a salad.  And no, by “fish cracker,” I am not referring to those fishy-shaped crackers that you are probably familiar with. . .the ones with no redeeming nutritional value.  My idea of a “fish cracker” is a Ryvita cracker with a plump, meaty and delicious sardine on top.  Of course, there are additional toppings to make it extra tasty.  This is a favorite lunch of mine because it is quick, tasty and super healthy.

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I understand if you don’t like anchovies, and don’t want to give them a second {first} chance.  But if you like fish, and haven’t gotten into sardines, I highly recommend them.  The health benefits of sardines {& anchovies} are many:

  • They are low on the marine food chain, so toxins like mercury do not accumulate in them.
  • Anchovies and sardines are chock full of healthy omega-3 fats, which impact mood, circulation, glucose, insulin metabolism, blood pressure and heart health.
  • In particular, sardines are high in protein, B vitamins, selenium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.  Talk about a powerhouse of nutrition in one little can!  They are my idea of a great “fast food!”

Sources:

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

The Perricone Promise, Nicholas Perricone, M.D.

A simple salad of arugula {aka “rocket”} and thinly sliced onions, dressed with fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground salt and pepper, goes well with fish crackers.  It’s one of our favorite salads.

Arugula Salad with Onion and Lemon Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad with Onion and Lemon Juice & Extra Virgin Olive Oil