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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“The old Romans having expelled physicians out of their commonwealth, did for many years maintain their health by the use of cabbages, taking them for every disease.”  16th century historian

Welcome to my 3  5 9 day post.  Yep, it took 9 days for me to get this written and posted.  Why??  I have no idea!!  No good reason though, that’s for sure.

I worked late last night {Monday}, so took the opportunity to sleep in a little later than usual, which was nice.  It was a breezy “2 blanket night,” the first one for quite a while.  This morning has been one of those putz around the house mornings where I suddenly realized that my walk would have been significantly cooler had I left earlier.  Podcast selected, I popped in my ear buds, put on my hat, sunglasses and shoes, ready to go.  Open door. . .it’s raining!  You might wonder how I could not have known that.  Weather-wise, we live in a very interesting place.  Dark gray clouds may gloomily loom out one window, with a gleaming blue sky out another window, just 20 feet away.  So often, the gray clouds that hang around our house do not drop rain; I would certainly like a bit more rain, as would our plants.  Funny thing to say, from someone who lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years!  The clouds are splashing rain this morning, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

I’ve had half a cup of green tea, and now it looks like a good time to walk.  Be back soon.

I’m back!  More sprinkles soon after I returned, so I guess my timing was pretty good.  Actually, my walk was timed perfectly, as was my choice of routes.  I found a fallen Meyer lemon {I LOVE Meyer lemons!}, which is a cross between a regular lemon and a Mandarin orange.  Meyer lemons have not been available in the United States until fairly recently, and may not be found everywhere.  If you are a lemon lover, and you see Meyer lemons, buy some; they are so delicious.  I come from a long line of lemon eaters, and I can tell you that my mouth is watering right now.  I love lemons sprinkled with salt-so good {not great for the enamel on your teeth, but so tasty}.  Meyer lemons have a floral quality to them, in their flavor and their aroma.  They are thin-skinned, so you can eat the entire lemon.

Meyer lemon wedgeClick here to read a short article/hear a short interview about Meyer Lemons.  I also found a pommelo.  The owner of the pommelo tree told me a few weeks ago that I could pick what I could reach; score!.  I was thrilled to find one that had blown off in the wind, to my good fortune.  Pommelos are similar to grapefruit, but their fruit is not as soft as a grapefruit, and the flavor is a little different.

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To be continued, tomorrow!

Wednesday- No fallen fruit today, nor rain, just a beautiful blue sky & gentle breeze to keep us nice and cool.

Let’s talk about cabbage.  I love cabbage!  By all accounts, my mom makes fantastic coleslaw.  Even though I like all of the ingredients in her coleslaw, I never cared for it as a kid.  She always gave me a bowl of cabbage with nothing on it, before she mixed in the dressing.  My dad loved her coleslaw because it doesn’t have a sweet dressing.  Here is her recipe.

Mom’s Coleslaw

4 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grated onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Celery seed to taste {my mom says that it is important to use celery seed for best flavor}

My mom always grates her cabbage in a blender, with water, which makes a very fine shred; she said that her mom liked it that way.  After processing in the blender she drains the cabbage well, so the dressing will not be watery.  You can shred your cabbage however you prefer.  Mix the remaining ingredients and mix with the cabbage.  Chill until ready to serve.

My preferred way of eating cabbage has always been cooked, as in corned beef and cabbage, minestrone soup, borscht, etc.  And then I discovered roasted cabbage.  OMG!  Roasting cabbage gives it a depth of flavor that raw cabbage cannot ever hope to achieve.  It is quite delicious, and I have to restrain myself from eating the entire head of cabbage after it emerges from the oven, roasty-toasty brown with soft centers and crispy edges.  Sprinkled with fresh lemon juice, roasted cabbage is delectable and just waiting to be eaten, leaf by leaf, standing up by the stove, where you have put it to cool.  If you manage to have any leftovers, I also find it delicious cold or at room temperature.

Roasted Cabbage with Olive Oil & Lemon
recipe adapted ever so slightly from eat.repeat

1 head of green cabbage
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pull off the large outer cabbage leaves.   Wash the head of cabbage and dry well.  Cut the cabbage in half, and then cut the halves into fourths, leaving you with 8 wedges.  Try to keep a bit of the core on each wedge, so that the wedges have a better chance of staying together.  Put your cabbage wedges on a sheet pan lined with foil.  I like to line my sheet pan with foil to make clean up a little easier.  Brush the cabbage with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, flipping the wedges about halfway through.  Roast until the cabbage is browned, even to the point of the edges being crispy brown {much tastier this way!}.   Sprinkle cabbage with lemon juice & eat hot, warm, room temperature or cold.  Yum!

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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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“Large, naked, raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who live in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter.”  Fran Lebowitz

I’m okay with raw carrots, I really am.  But I think carrots really sing when they are cooked.  They belt out their ultimate deliciousness when they are roasted.

You know how roasting vegetables caramelizes them and makes them nice and sweet?  And tender and delicious?  Well, dribble some coconut oil and a heavy dusting of Moroccan spices into the mix and you’ve got a winner.  I would be proud to serve these vegetables to anyone.  Next time I will add some chunks of onion and garlic.  Make a lot, because you will not want to run out.  Consider yourself warned!

Roasted carrots and potatoes with Moroccan spices final
Roasted Potatoes & Carrots with Coconut Oil & Moroccan Spices

1 large potato {peeled if not organic}, cut into chunks
3 large carrots {peeled if not organic}, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
Coconut oil
Freshly ground salt & pepper
Moroccan Spice Mix {recipe below}
2 cloves of garlic, mashed into a paste

Cut the potatoes, carrots & onions into pieces that will cook in about the same amount of time.  Put in a bowl large enough to comfortably {& neatly} toss the vegetables with the coconut oil & seasonings.  Start with about 1 tbsp. of coconut oil; if that coats all the vegetables nicely, then that’s enough-you don’t want greasy vegetables.  Season with plenty of freshly ground salt and pepper, and a generous dose of the Moroccan Spice Mix.  Line a sheet pan with foil, then spray with pan spray to prevent sticking {I used coconut oil spray}.  Arrange the vegetables on the pan in a single layer.  Roast in a 375 degree oven, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.  You can leave them in for a while after they are tender, because they will turn a lovely golden brown, which makes them super tasty.  When they are golden brown, put them back into the big bowl.  Add the garlic paste and mix it all up.  The heat from the vegetables will cook the garlic and impart a delectable garlic flavor.

Serves about 3 roasted vegetable lovers

Moroccan Spice Mix

2 tsp ground cumin {preferably whole seeds toasted, then ground}
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder  {I used my homemade chili powder; use whatever chili powder you like}
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
Mix it all up & store in a tightly lidded jar.

Homemade Chili Powder

3 T sweet paprika
1 T ground cumin {preferably whole seeds toasted, then ground}
2 T oregano {preferably Mexican}
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder {yes, there is the occasional use for garlic powder!}
1 whole dry ancho chile, broken up
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp coriander seed

Put all ingredients into a small food processor or blender, and process until the pieces of ancho chile are ground.  Store in a tightly lidded jar.

Bon Appetit!


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

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

Sunset from Bedroom Window

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

Fowl

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

I made this. . .

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

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

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

Banana Mocha Peanut Butter Soft Serve

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

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

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

Bon Appetit!


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Passato of Vegetables with Chard & Croutons

If you are a vegetable lover, you must try this delicious soup.  It goes together quickly so you can have it on the table in under an hour.  It is good hot or cold.

¼ c extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, finely diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 large waxy potato, peeled & diced {Yukon Gold, yellow, white salad and red potatoes are good choices; russets are too mealy}
1 14 ½ ounce can of diced tomatoes
1-2 bunches chard leaves, roughly chopped; ribs removed & finely diced {You can throw in some spinach or dinosaur kale in here too, but I think I would stay away from greens that are too bitter, for this soup.}
1 garlic clove, minced
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Fresh lemon juice to taste

To finish:  1 c small bread cubes {I usually use sliced bread that I have in the freezer, including the heels.}
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano-Reggiano for shaving

Warm the oil in a pot with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the vegetables, season with ¾ t salt, then cover the pot & cook over low heat for 30 minutes, during which the vegetables will produce quite a bit of delicious juice.  While they are cooking, bring 1 quart of water to a boil.

Carefully puree the cooked vegetables with the hot water, beginning with a small amount and adding more, up to 3 or 4 cups, depending on the thickness you want.  I use 3 cups.  Leave a little texture or make the soup smooth, as you wish {I like biting into a piece of potato or other vegetable, so I never puree it smooth.}. Return it to the heat, taste for salt & season with pepper.  Add lemon juice to taste to sharpen the flavors; I generally add the juice of a whole lemon.  Note: I have found that if I blend the soup until it is very smooth, it becomes quite silky in texture, which we enjoy.  So, that’s how I’m doing it these days.

Crisp the bread cubes in a little olive oil over medium-low heat {or in the oven}, until golden, about 8-10 minutes.  Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil & add the croutons.  Shave cheese over the top & serve.

Recipe adapted from:  Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen {one of my very favorite cookbooks!}