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 #6

Welcome to Refrigerator Confidential Day #6!  The refrigerator is not looking bare, because the bags of produce have been replaced by glass storage containers full of prepared food, which is a good thing.  Sometimes it does look bare by the end of the week, but that is only when we manage to eat everything.  It’s all good!

Thursday’s Meals with Recipes:

Breakfast
Oatmeal with Granny Smith Apples {recipe & photos on Refrigerator Confidential Day #5}
Green Tea
Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha

Lunch
Sandwich of Gruyere Cheese & Plenty of Arugula on Whole Grain Bread
Grapefruit Slices

Dinner
{Huge} Plate Salad of Mediterranean Flavors with Fresh Oregano Vinaigrette

Sandwich of Gruyere Cheese & Plenty of Arugula on Whole Grain Bread

This is my husband’s creation, and he says that you cannot have too much arugula on this sandwich.  It is a very tasty sandwich!  Cheese sandwiches were my favorite as a kid, but they were just American cheese and mayonnaise on white bread; not nearly as sophisticated as this sandwich.  I imagine most kids would not be too keen on arugula’s bitterness.  Bitter greens are good for you, so eat your bitter greens. . .on a cheese sandwich!

2 pieces of your favorite bread {we used Dave’s Killer Bread}
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Arugula. . .lots
Mayonnaise
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Put cheese on 1 piece of bread {as much as you like}. Top with a big pile of arugula & sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.  Spread mayonnaise on the other slice of bread & close up your sandwich.  Cut in a way that makes you happy & eat.

Plate Salad of Mediterranean Flavors

Huge} Plate Salad of Mediterranean Flavors with Fresh Oregano Vinaigrette 

Here is what I put on the salad. . .I’ll leave the amount of each ingredient up to you.

Kale & romaine lettuce
Sweet Maui onions
Green pepper slices
Jalapeño slices
Avocado
Cherry Peppers
Kalamata olives
Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
Italian tuna packed in olive oil
Wakame & Ginger Sauerkraut Salad
Dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Green onions

 

Here is the refrigerator on Day #6

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Bon appétit!


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #3

Welcome to Day #3 of Refrigerator Confidential!  This week, you are up close and personal with our refrigerator.  You can see what we buy at the Saturday Upcountry Farmers Market, and how we prepare it during the week.  It’s kind of a game for us {a very tasty game I might add}, and the goal is to eat all or most of the food by Friday, and end up with lots of empty bags to fill up at the market on Saturday.  Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes we don’t do so well.  The refrigerator’s Friday appearance has to do with how many times we eat out during the week {restaurants, beach BBQs, etc.}, as well as how motivated we are to take the time to wash the greens, broccoli, etc. and cook them.  Sometimes it’s easier to throw a salad together, with the already washed lettuce, than to wash and steam the broccoli; I think you know what I mean.

Monday’s Meals:

Breakfast

Me- The little bit of chili and brown rice that was leftover from yesterday
My husband- Nancy’s Low-fat Plain Yogurt with local honey, dried Maui pineapple, dried Maui apple bananas & coconut flakes, roasted peanuts & walnuts

Nancy's Plain Yogurt w/Maui honey, dried pineapple, dried apple bananas, walnuts, peanuts, coconut flakes

Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha {1 bottle is almost gone already!}
Green tea

Lunch

Gerald’s Eggs with Red Peppers & Parmesan {these eggs are a kind of open-face omelette/frittata that Gerald made up~really good}
Baked potato with butter {we shared a potato}
Caesar Salad
Avocado

Monday Lunch

Dinner
I worked tonight, so we didn’t eat the same thing.  We usually do, but it did’t work out this time because there was only 1 piece of Chicken Cacciatore left…for me!

Me- Chicken Cacciatore, broccoli & 1/2 grapefruit {and a piece of chocolate~ Lindt Dark Chocolate with Black Currants!!!}
My husband- sandwich on Dave’s Killer Bread {sometimes we will break down & buy a loaf of bread, if we run out of homemade bread…we like Dave’s} with Gruyere cheese, lots of arugula and mayonnaise {he said it was really good}, broccoli

What’s gone?

  • chili & brown rice
  • 1 potato
  • Caesar dressing
  • cooked broccoli
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 bunch arugula almost gone
  • romaine lettuce almost gone
  • 1 container of sauerkraut
  • avocado

Here is the refrigerator on Day #3:

Monday's refrigerator

 

Bon appétit!


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #2

Welcome to Day #2 of Refrigerator Confidential!  This week, I’m taking you inside our refrigerator so you can see what we buy at the Saturday Upcountry Farmers Market, and what we do with it throughout the week.  It’s kind of a game for us {a very tasty game I might add}, and the goal is to eat all or most of the food by Friday, and end up with lots of empty bags to fill up at the market on Saturday.  Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes we don’t do so well.

Yesterday I told you in words and pictures what we bought at the market.  I didn’t say anything about what else was in the refrigerator.  We had {not an exhaustive list, by any means}:

leftover homemade chili
leftover brown rice
cooked broccoli
homemade mustard vinaigrette
beets, which I cooked and pickled yesterday

Sunday’s Meals with links to recipes:

Breakfast
Me- Nancy’s Low-fat Plain Yogurt with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin; broccoli with a drizzle of mustard vinaigrette
My husband- Nancy’s Low-fat Plain Yogurt with local honey, dried Maui pineapple, dried Maui apple bananas & coconut flakes, roasted peanuts & walnuts
Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha {1 bottle is almost half gone already!}
Green tea

Lunch
Leftover chili & brown rice {they’re almost gone!}
Salad of kale, arugula, pickled beets, Maui onion, Wakame & Ginger Sauerkraut Salad with mustard vinaigrette
Broccoli with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, Parmesan and toasted sliced almonds

Dinner
Baked salmon with mayonnaise and Sweet Ginger Chili sauce {similar to Thai sweet chili sauce, but with healthier ingredients}
Caesar salad with homemade croutons and avocado

Pickled Beets
4 fresh beets, scrubbed and steamed until tender {about 45 minutes for medium size beets}
Onion, sliced {as much as you like, or none}
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp whole peppercorns
2 small bay leaves {or 1 large}

When beets are tender when pierced with a knife, let them cool until you can handle them comfortably.  Peel off the skins, and cut them into whatever shape you like.  Put them into a container with a tight lid, so you can turn them upside down to distribute the pickling liquid.  If you are using onions, layer them in with the beets.  I usually use a quart mason jar.  In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring them to the boil, stirring to ensure that the sugar gets dissolved.  Pour over beets and onions.  There will not be enough liquid to cover your beets, so turn the container upside down occasionally, and shake to distribute the liquid.  They will get tastier as they marinate longer.

Here is the refrigerator on Day #2:

photo1-4

Bon appétit!

 

 

 


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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