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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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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Wild Alaskan Salmon

It feels good to be back in the author’s chair {actually, I usually write from the sofa} and writing again!  When I first started writing Maui Girl Cooks, I had no idea how much I would enjoy writing about food, and sharing my thoughts and recipes with all of you.  I have always enjoyed the editing process, and writing about my food passion is just such a pleasure; perhaps I should have started a blog several years ago, but I’m quite sure I didn’t have time to teach full time and write a blog.   

I’m sad that I’ve been “off the air” for so long.  I didn’t fall off the face of the earth; I wasn’t trekking around the globe; I wasn’t sick; I wasn’t struck by lightning; I didn’t stop loving everything to do with food.  No, my absence had everything to do with our computer.  The computer that we have been cursing for so long finally died.  It was acting up for quite a long time, then it finally gave up the ghost; I came home one day and it was stone cold dead.  No amount of wishing, coaxing or pressing function keys would bring it back to life.  This became the golden opportunity to ditch the Windows machine and finally become a 100% Apple household.  Score!  But there is a learning curve when you switch operating systems, so please bear with me. Writing posts on my iPhone seemed like a chore, so I didn’t.  The online physics of cooking class that I’m taking is still in session.  I did 2 weeks worth of lectures, homework and labs on my iPhone; oh my, that was interesting, but I made it through.  I’m pleased and proud that I have completed all homework and labs to a degree sufficient for a Harvard certificate of completion, once I complete my final project, which has to do with making perfect chocolate chip cookies.  I will let you know all of the details, once I have finished tweaking everything to my satisfaction.   

Since we moved to Maui, the best salmon we have eaten has been from a can {very tasty canned salmon}.  Fresh salmon of the caliber that we were accustomed to in the Pacific Northwest isn’t found in the grocery stores here; it just isn’t as fresh.  It’s a small price to pay for being warm in March.  Anyway, back in September, we had the opportunity to purchase wild Alaskan sockeye salmon. My husband happened to be talking with a nutritionist at the gym, and she mentioned that a friend would be bringing in Alaskan salmon, and asked if we would be interested in buying some.  But of course we would!  The filets were cleaned, vacuumed sealed, frozen and absolutely gorgeous!  The salmon came packed in 20 pound boxes, and we decided to buy 2 boxes.  We sold a few filets, but have been enjoying this delicious salmon several times each week.

We have prepared it a number of ways, but here is our favorite way to cook this succulent and healthy fish.

IMG_1611

 Baked Salmon

1 salmon filet, rinsed and patted dry, pick out any bones you can see/feel

Mayonnaise {homemade or store bought}

Salt and pepper {kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper}

Thai sweet chili sauce

Green onions, thinly sliced

Fresh cilantro, whole leaves or minced

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with pan spray.  Place the salmon skin side down on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper.  Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the fish {I use a table knife to do this}.  Drizzle salmon with Thai sweet chili sauce.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven, until the salmon registers 140 degrees F, about 15 minutes.  You can cut into the salmon to check for doneness, but I prefer using a thermometer.  If you cut into it, make sure it is still moist in the center, as it will continue to cook once it is out of the oven.  Leaving it in the oven until it looks completely cooked {i.e. flaky} will result in salmon that is dry and overdone. Sprinkle the top with thinly sliced green onions and/or fresh cilantro when ready to serve.

The mayonnaise keeps the salmon moist, and the Thai sweet chili sauce adds a nice flavor.  The chili sauce has no redeeming qualities other than tasting good, and it is one of the few prepared foods we use.  It’s not something we eat everyday, and when we do, we don’t eat a lot of it, so we don’t feel too bad.  Call it a guilty pleasure.  We always eat some of the salmon right away, but think that it is even better the next day; it seems more moist for some reason.  As a matter of fact, the next day we like to prepare one of our favorite new creations.  It is an adaptation of the Asian Salmon Bowl that we used to order at The Harbourhouse Pub in Winslow, WA.  We have expanded upon their bowl of brown rice, fresh spinach, Asian slaw, ginger vinaigrette and wild salmon, and made something even more delectable.

Salmon with Brown Rice and Asian Flavors

Salmon Salad with Brown Rice and Asian Flavors

Cooked brown rice {of course, you can use any rice you like}

Cooked salmon

Arugula, julienned

Snow peas, cut into thin slivers {optional, but adds great crunch}

Fresh jalapeños, thinly sliced {if you like a little zest}

Green onions, thinly sliced {reserve some of the greens for the top}

Extra virgin olive oil

Citrus of some kind {I used Calamansi limes this time}

Unseasoned rice vinegar {use seasoned if you prefer}

Tamari or low sodium shoyu {soy sauce}

Salt and pepper

Toasted sesame seeds

Sliced avocado

Variations. . .

Crunch-  If you don’t have any snow peas, you can use something else to add crunch like matchstick size carrots, sliced almonds, thinly sliced cabbage, roasted peanuts or celery.

Protein- No salmon in sight?  Try some barbecued chicken, tempeh, tofu or steak.

Citrus- Calamansi lime, regular lime, lemon, orange or tangerine

Greens- arugula, romaine or some other sturdy lettuce

If your rice isn’t freshly cooked, warm it up and sprinkle with shoyu and rice vinegar.  Top the rice with greens of your choice, julienned into bite size pieces.  Toss the jalapeños, snow peas and green onions {or your favorite crunchy ingredients} on top of the greens.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with salmon, or other protein.  Drizzle with Thai sweet chili sauce, then squeeze a good amount of citrus over all.  Shower with thinly sliced green onion tops and toasted sesame seeds.  Add some lovely green slices of ripe avocado and enjoy!

Bon appétit!


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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


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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


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Salad with Purslane & Ribbons of Parmesan

“When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.”  Author Unknown

I do not know if purslane comes out of the ground easily or not, but I have seen it defined both as a weed and a valuable plant.  Purslane is purported to be a healthy plant that we should be enjoying.  It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Check out the articles at the end of this post if you would like to read more about purslane’s health benefits.  My husband bought our first bunch of purslane 2 weeks ago, at the Upcountry Farmers Market.  It’s great!  What I like most about purslane is its chew, due to the fact that it is a succulent.  I think it has a subtle flavor, not at all assertive, but just tasty. . .green.  Apparently it grows everywhere, but I can’t say I’ve encountered any on my walks around Pukalani, where we live.  You will most likely not find purslane at your local grocery store, but look for it at your farmers market.  Or grow it yourself; from what I’ve read, it is easy to grow.

When I cleaned the first bunch of purslane, I meticulously removed the leaves from the stems.  I discovered on the second bunch that “de-leafing” {is that a word??} the stems is not necessary, and that the stems also add a bit of chew to a salad.  The leaves are in clusters on the stems, so that makes them pretty in a salad.

Salad with Purslane & Ribbons of Parmesan

This is not a tossed salad, but more of a composed salad, which I think is prettiest served on a plate. The ingredients are few and the salad is delicious.  When you start with excellent ingredients, you do not need much to create great food.

Place a layer of tender lettuce on a plate.  Some good choices are Bibb, Manoa or red leaf.  A crunchy lettuce like romaine doesn’t work in this salad.  Texture is important in this recipe; there is a pleasant “chew” but it isn’t a crunchy salad.

Top the lettuce with some onion that you have sliced paper thin.  Use whatever type of onion you prefer, although I wouldn’t choose green onions for this.  Slicing the onion super thin makes it seem less pungent, making it easier to eat for the “non-onion types.”

Now add a scattering of paper thin purple cabbage.

Top with purslane, preferably in clusters of leaves, as opposed to individual leaves; this adds to the salad’s texture.

Sprinkle the salad with some pumpkin seeds that you have pan roasted, preferably in coconut oil.

Season the salad with freshly ground salt and pepper, then sprinkle with fresh lemon juice {about 1/4 of a juicy lemon per salad} and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.  Use a light hand with the dressing, as you don’t want your salad to be swimming in dressing.

Finally, take a vegetable peeler and shave some nice ribbons of fresh parmesan cheese over the salad.

Salad with Purslane and Ribbons of Parmesan

Related articles

Bon appetit!


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“Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.”  Charles Dudley Warner

Red Leaf  LettuceRed Loose-leaf Lettuce

Did you know. . .

. . . . . .that all lettuces are not created equally?  More on that in a second.

We are quickly approaching Saturday, and that means getting creative to eat all the fruits and vegetables from last week’s farmers market.  We have half of this glorious head of red leaf lettuce left.  It is happy lettuce.  Why is my lettuce happy?  We’ll get to that in a moment.  But first, a little background.  I am reading an interesting book called Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.  You may think that it sounds like a book that Euell Gibbons might have penned; Gibbons was an authority on noshing on wild foods, but Robinson puts a different spin on eating “wild.”  Robinson discusses how many nutrients have been bred out of the foods we eat to make them more palatable {i.e. sweeter, less bitter}.  She also talks about which varieties are the most nutritious and how to prep, store and eat them.  It isn’t the kind of book that requires you to sit down and read it cover to cover, although you could do that.  To me, this is a great reference book that should be on the bookshelf of everyone who wants to eat food that is as healthy as possible.  And now, back to those happy leaves of lettuce.  According to Robinson, there are 2 rules of thumb for selecting lettuce with the highest phytonutrient content.  The first is color.  You may think that the deep, dark green romaine that you have been eating is the best, but indeed it is not.  Lettuces that are red, purple or reddish-brown are the richest in phytonutrients.  The second factor is even more surprising.  Would you have ever guessed that lettuces whose leaves are loosely arranged on the head would be more nutritious than those that are tightly compacted?  Not me for sure.  Well, it turns out that the leaves that are exposed to the sun’s damaging UV rays produce antioxidants, which are a kind of “sunscreen” for the plant.  Because a loose-leaf head of lettuce has many leaves exposed to the sun, more of the leaves produce the phytonutrients that are so good for us, and we benefit when we eat them.

Now that you know what to look for in a head of lettuce, I’ll tell you why my lettuce is happy.  It has been properly prepared so that it will retain and even increase its nutritional value.  Robinson states that when you get your lettuce home, you should pull the leaves off and soak them for 10 minutes in very cold water.  The leaves’ temperature will drop, which slows down the aging process.  Soaking them will help to maintain crispness.  After soaking, spin or towel dry them thoroughly {I could not live without my salad spinner}; moisture on the outside of the leaves invites decay-you want the water inside the leaves.

Red Leaf Lettuce Cleaned and Bagged

Label the pin-pricked bag and you can reuse it for the next head of lettuce.

Tear up the leaves before bagging them.  What’s that you say?  Tear up the leaves now, not when I make a salad?  Apparently, another way a plant defends itself {against gnawing animals, for instance} is by producing phytonutrients to “fend off the intruder.”  The antioxidant value of the lettuce is doubled by tearing up the leaves prior to storage {the tearing being like the animal gnawing the leaves}.  Place the greens in a Ziploc bag and prick it 10 {quart size bag}-20 {gallon size bag} times with a needle or pin.  The reason for the pinpricks is for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide; the lettuce does not stop respiring {breathing} on harvest.  If you seal it up in a bag, then it uses up all of the oxygen and the carbon dioxide level rises, and it will die from lack of oxygen.  If you leave the lettuce in the open, then it respires too quickly, and uses up its stored sugar and antioxidants, making them unavailable for you. Prepare your lettuce correctly and eat within a few days for best quality.   And enjoy that salad knowing that you have done everything you can to make it more nourishing!

Champagne vinaigrette. . .it sounds so elegant.   As a kid, I loved Girard’s Champagne Dressing; not so much now, because I don’t buy prepared salad dressings.  They are full of ingredients that aren’t necessary for good dressing and they are expensive.  Homemade salad dressings are so much better than prepared dressings, and I always have the ingredients to make some kind of dressing, even if it is just extra virgin olive oil and vinegar {or other acid}.

Salad with Grapefruit and Blue Cheese

We had this salad for dinner tonight.  The salad was composed of the red leaf lettuce, grapefruit sections {supremes to be exact}, red onion, toasted walnuts and blue cheese.  I didn’t actually whisk together a vinaigrette, but simply showered the salad with freshly ground salt and pepper, then drizzled it with Champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Yum!  It was not only beautiful but delicious as well.


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“The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it… If you’re convinced that cooking is drudgery, you’re never going to be good at it, and you might as well warm up something frozen.”  James Beard

Hummus

If you think you don’t like hummus, perhaps you have only had store bought varieties, too stiff and poorly seasoned.  I must admit, I haven’t tasted much packaged hummus; there probably are some good ones, however, I  prefer to make my own hummus from freshly cooked garbanzo beans.  Of course, you can use canned beans, but I have found them to be a little more al dente than I like.  They are best when they are nice and soft, ready for a whirl in the food processor with garlic, olive oil, lemon, tahini and seasonings. The beans take awhile to cook, but it isn’t hands-on time, so you can be doing whatever you like while they simmer away on the stove. For me, cooking a pot of beans is kind of therapeutic, like making risotto, kneading bread or watering plants.  Homemade hummus isn’t difficult to prepare and the results are worth any effort required. People are favorably impressed if you show up at a potluck with a gorgeous platter of hummus with tasty garnishes {especially if you make homemade pita bread!}.  As promised in my last post, here is my hummus recipe.

Hummus 

1 ½ c cooked garbanzo beans {I always cook my own, because they are much better, but you can use canned.}
3 cloves garlic, minced
Scant ¼ c tahini
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil {I use quite a bit more, for a smooth & silky texture.}
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp kosher salt

 Puree all ingredients in the blender or food processor until really smooth.  I like to spread it out on a platter and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over it.  Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes, kalamata olives and cilantro {any or all are good}.  Eat with pita bread, or whole wheat flour tortillas that you brush with olive oil, cut into eights and then bake at 350 until semi-crisp.  Also good with fresh fennel Fennel Bulb or sliced cucumbers.


Freshly Cooked Garbanzo Beans

1 cup garbanzo beans, cleaned & soaked {you don’t have to soak them, but they will take longer to cook}
Aromatics: 1 onion, quartered, 2 parsley sprigs, 4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6” piece of kombu, or a few pinches asafetida, optional {I love to eat the cooked kombu}
1 ½ tsp salt

Cover garbanzo beans with 2 quarts fresh water & add remaining ingredients.  Simmer until completely tender, but not mushy.  I start checking at around 45”.  Let the beans cool in the broth.

Wilted Dandelion & Arugula with Walnuts & Beets

We enjoyed the plate of hummus with homemade pita bread and this salad of Wilted Dandelion Greens & Arugula with Walnuts & Beets.  Dandelion greens and arugula are supposed to very good for you, so we are eating them regularly.  They are kind of bitter, which is what makes them good for you.  When you eat them with something sweet like beets, it somewhat neutralizes the bitterness, and they are quite tasty prepared this way.  This recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison’s excellent cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone {I love this book!}

Wilted Dandelion Greens & Arugula with Walnuts & Beets

Dandelion greens and/or arugula, about 1/2 pound
1 large garlic clove, mashed into a paste with 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 large shallot, minced
4 tsp sherry vinegar or aged red wine vinegar
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the garlic paste, shallot, vinegar & olive oil.  Heat the vinaigrette in a small skillet until it sizzles.  Pour over the greens & toss with plenty of freshly ground pepper.  Top with toasted walnuts, cooked beets & a grating of Gruyere or Jarlsberg cheese.  It’s delicious with just the cheese, but the walnuts & beets add a bit of crunch & sweetness.

The first time I made this, we were too full to eat it all at dinner.  I put the leftovers in the refrigerator, not knowing how delicious they would be cold the next day.  I think I probably like them leftover as much, if not more, than freshly made.  Who would have thought?

Aloha & Happy Cooking!