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 #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 #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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“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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“Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality.”  Clifton Fadiman

Before we get to tonight’s dinner, these quesadillas, I have some lovely flower pictures from today’s walk to share with you.


And now for the quesadillas!

quesadilla on plate

There are quesadillas, and then there are quesadillas worth eating.  If you would like a quesadilla that is more than a white flour tortilla filled with melted cheese, then keep reading.

Our quesadillas are filled with cooked spinach or Swiss chard {a lot of it}, roasted peppers & cheese.

We love quesadillas and have been tweaking our current recipe for over 5 years, and think they are now just about perfect.  There have been several versions of this recipe, each change making an improvement on an already good thing.  It is our favorite meal to cook, and one we make weekly.  This is truly a “team meal” for us.  I prep everything and my husband does the cooking.  While he is cooking, I clean everything up so that we only have 2 plates to wash when we’re finished eating.  We are a well-oiled machine when it comes to making quesadillas!

Before I get into the details of how to make these scrumptious quesadillas, I should tell you about the tortillas we use.  We eat food that is good for us {at least 95% of the time}, so it was important to find tortillas that are healthy and taste good.  Often times, breads that are healthy taste like cardboard, or if you’re lucky, hay.

Perhaps you have had the unfortunate experience of buying tortillas for a recipe, and then having them go moldy in the refrigerator.  These are the tortillas that we like & here is how we take care of them so they are ready when we want a quesadilla or a wrap.

Fresh Tortillas in Bag  These are tasty tortillas that we can feel good about eating!

blog freezing tortillas  Stagger your tortillas on a cookie sheet & freeze.  They will curl a little, but you can easily put them bag into the bag you bought them in.  They won’t stick together like they would if you just put the whole bag in the freezer.  I used to separate them with a piece of wax paper; totally unnecessary!  When you are ready to use them, put them on a plate, and flip them a few times while they thaw, so that they aren’t as curled.

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Quesadillas with Spinach {or Swiss chard} & Roasted Peppers

This is more of a guideline than a specific recipe, as far as amounts are concerned.  Feel free to adjust quantities & ingredients to your liking!

2 large whole grain tortillas

2 quarts raw spinach or Swiss chard, washed carefully and thoroughly dried, then cut into strips {I mince the stems & sauté them with onions, jalapenos & garlic}

Peppers, cut so that they are in relatively flat pieces {bell peppers, poblanos or Anaheims are all great here}; we use 1 bell pepper, or about 3 smaller size peppers

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced {add more or less depending on how much heat you like}; or you can use dried red pepper flakes, Serrano peppers, etc.

3 cloves garlic, minced & allowed to sit for 10 minutes {to achieve the health benefits}

Approximately 4 ounces of cheese, thinly sliced {we like Gruyere because it is a delicious low fat cheese that melts well}

The most time consuming part of this recipe is the prep; once everything is sliced and diced you are ready to put your quesadillas together.

Spray a large pan with pan spray, and then add a film of olive oil.  Sauté the peppers over medium heat, until they have a bit of color and are beginning to get tender.  They do not have to be completely tender.  Remove peppers to a plate lined with a paper towel, and blot to absorb any extra oil.

In the same pan, sauté the onion, jalapeno, garlic and stems over medium heat until almost tender. Add the leaves and toss everything together for about a minute, or until leaves are just wilted.  Remove from the heat.  The leaves should be glossy, dark green and gorgeous.

You are now ready to put your quesadillas together!

Place tortilla on a dinner plate.  On half the tortilla, place the cheese, top with peppers and then the greens. Spray a skillet {we use cast iron} with pan spray and then film with olive oil.  Fold the tortilla in half and put in the skillet preheated to medium to medium-low.  The objective is to crisp the tortilla, heat everything through, melding the cheese with the greens and peppers, without burning the tortilla.  Flip the quesadillas several times;  if you flip one, flip the other.  My husband, the quesadilla cook, said he flips them at least 3 or 4 times.  Adjust the heat so that they do not brown too quickly on one side.  Serve them with the cheese on top, so gravity can draw it down through the greens and peppers.

Cut into thirds or fourths & eat immediately.  I cut the quesadillas with my kitchen shears, cutting through the top tortilla first, and then cut the bottom tortilla with the filling; this ensures the filling not squishing out when you cut them.  We eat ours with Tapatio Hot Sauce {a lot of it!}, and sometimes with a little sour cream or plain yogurt {ok, I sometimes put plain yogurt on mine}.

Notes:
My husband says that a nice glass of red wine is really nice while you are cooking these, and I concur!
* We tried soft goat cheese in these, but weren’t crazy with the results.  We love goat cheese, but not here.
* Go easy on the oil-you don’t want your quesadillas to be greasy.
* Be sure your greens are thoroughly dry, so that they aren’t too wet {soggy quesadillas not great}
* Use a sturdy tortilla.  We tried brown rice tortillas, and while they were super tasty, they cracked right down the middle when we folded them.
* The first time you make these, you may want to make a thinner quesadilla, for ease in turning.  They can be a bit tricky to turn over.
* Jarred roasted peppers are fine!  Before we moved to Maui, we used the jarred piquillo peppers from Trader Joe’s.
* I LOVE a good mouth burn, and usually get one with these quesadillas.  But if you don’t, leave out the hot peppers, simple as that.
* If your quesadilla is a little spicier than you like, sour cream or plain yogurt cools it off very nicely.

Bon appetit!


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Chicken Sandwich with Lime Herb Aioli

Aioli is a French garlic mayonnaise, which is delicious. This Lime Herb Aioli is my spin on the traditional sauce. I use homemade mayonnaise from the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but you can use jarred mayonnaise if you desire.

Ciabatta split & toasted
Cut clove of garlic
Rotisserie chicken
Thinly sliced onion {lots}
Arugula {you can substitute another green here}
Tapatio Hot Sauce {or your favorite}
Lime juice
Lime Herb Aioli {recipe follows}
Salt & pepper
Toast the ciabatta under the broiler until browned. Rub bread with a cut clove of garlic; little bits of garlic will grate themselves onto the crispy bread, imparting a most delicious flavor. Spread aioli on both sides of bread. Add chicken, onion & arugula. Sprinkle arugula with lime juice, Tapatio & salt & pepper. Top with second slice of bread & eat. Delicious!

Lime Herb Aioli
Mix mayonnaise {about 2/3c} with 1 clove garlic mashed into a paste, lots of pepper, lime juice & minced herbs {basil, chives & parsley are good}.