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

cropped soft boiled on sauteed kale


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Soft Boiled Egg with Sautéed Kale, Goat Cheese & Sherry Vinegar

I think I have mentioned before that vegetables are my favorite food, with green vegetables being at the top of my favorites.  Some may think it odd, but the taste of green rocks, in my book.  On occasion, I enjoy having vegetables for breakfast, just to get a head start on healthy eating for the day.  Disclaimer:  I am writing this after consuming a not so healthy lunch at a little Mexican place in Kahului.  The wet chicken burrito was very good, and I would order it again.  As I was thinking of the wonderful salad we would have for lunch, which was going to involve grapefruit, among other tasty things, my husband informed me that he can only eat our usual healthy way for so long, then he needs something a little heftier, like Mexican food.  So off we went to Amigo’s.   At least I walked/ran 4 miles this morning, before the rains came.  Anyway, I have been wanting to try Deb’s {Smitten Kitchen} soft cooked egg, and I finally decided to give it a try.

Soft boiled egg on sautéed kale

Soft boiled egg on sautéed kale

The only experience I have had with soft cooked eggs was quite a long time ago.  My mother-in-law used to make them for my husband when he was young, and he has fond memories of eggs prepared this way, so we made some. Although they were certainly tasty, they were also certainly a pain to crack open and eat before they got cold. . . I never made them again.  My mom used to hard cook an egg and then smash it up with butter, salt and pepper; I loved that and still make it every now and then.  The reason I wanted to try soft cooked eggs again, in spite of my not so positive experience with them, was that Deb’s way of eating them does not involve carefully slicing off the top part of the shell and scooping the egg out with a spoon.  She actually releases the egg from its shell;  I can do that!  Deb serves her eggs up with toast, butter and cheese {!!!} and cooked spinach.  I will do that as well, but this time I kept it simple~sautéed kale with a smashed soft cooked egg on top.  I didn’t take the time to make toast, but of course that would be a delicious accompaniment, as would potatoes {!!!} of some sort {I love our creamy, locally grown potatoes!}.

Soft boiled egg with sauteed kale and goat cheese

Soft boiled egg with sauteed kale and goat cheese

Soft Boiled Egg with Sautéed Kale, Goat Cheese & Sherry Vinegar

Kale, a couple handfuls per serving, washed and dried well

Extra virgin olive oil, about 1 tbsp

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sherry vinegar

Eggs, 1 or 2 per serving

Fill a 1 quart {or larger} saucepan with water, and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, gently lower the eggs into the water.  Set the timer for 6 minutes if you intend to eat the eggs immediately.  If your eggs will be waiting around for a few minutes before you eat them, set the timer for 5 to 5 1/2 minutes; the eggs will continue to cook in the shell while waiting to be cracked.  See Deb’s photographs on Smitten Kitchen to check out the difference between eggs cooked different amounts of time.  When the timer dings, gently rinse the eggs under cold water, just so they will be easier to handle.  Peel the eggs and set aside.

While the eggs are cooking, heat up the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold your kale.  When the oil is hot, add kale and toss it around so that it will cook evenly.  Season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper while you are tossing it about, so all of the seasoning is not sitting on one leaf of kale.  The kale is best, in my opinion, when lightly sautéed, as opposed to being completely cooked down.  If it is cooked too long, it can get that canned greens taste, which isn’t the best.  Taste a leaf and take it off the heat when you think it tastes great.  Sprinkle the kale with some sherry vinegar to taste.

Put your sautéed kale in a bowl or on a plate, top with the peeled egg.  Smash the egg, and season it with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Crumble some soft fresh goat cheese over all & enjoy.

Bon appetit!

closeup blueberries goat cheese


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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!

French green lentil salad 1


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French Green Lentils with Greens, Goat Cheese & Red Wine Vinegar

There are occasions when I just don’t know what I want for breakfast.  This phenomenon does not occur for lunch or dinner; just breakfast.  My husband doesn’t understand it; he eats the same yogurt most mornings, except the days when we make eggs or maybe hot cereal.  I’ve never been one to eat the same thing everyday for any meal; there is too much delicious food out there to limit oneself to the same meal all the time.  Lately I have not been into what most people call “breakfast food.”  Any food qualifies as breakfast food as far as I’m concerned, the exception being cold pizza.  I don’t know what percent of the population loves cold pizza, but I am not in their company.  The draw to cold pizza, with its cold, solidified cheese escapes me.  Anyway, one of my new favorite breakfasts, a meal which will also make appearances at lunch and dinner, is this salad of French green lentils topped with greens, goat cheese & wine vinegar.  The only improvement I could have made would be the addition of a delicious slice of chewy, whole grain bread with butter {of course!}.

Lentils are quick cooking and healthy.  French green lentils are my lentil of choice, because they are shiny green and gorgeous and they hold their shape after cooking.  This makes them a great choice for salads because they do not become mushy.  Note:  “This just in from David Lebovitz’s wonderful food blog. . .”  Check out David’s take on Lentilles du Puy, the caviar of lentils.  During the writing of this post, I decided to find out if there is a difference between French green lentils and lentils du Puy, and according to David Lebovitz, whom I trust implicitly, there is indeed a huge difference.  I’m thinking that I may not have the caviar of lentils here in my kitchen, but instead their less desirable cousin.  Still delicious, I will use them up and then buy the real Mccoy.  No worries!

This salad goes together quickly if you have a bowl of already cooked lentils in your refrigerator.  And as you are eating it, you have the delightful surprise of finding warm, delicious and buttery lentils under those crispy greens!

closeup lentils 2

French Green Lentils

1 1/2 cups French green lentils, or lentils du Puy, sorted and rinsed {make sure there are no rocks or bad lentils}
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt

Put lentils into a medium saucepan with bay leaves and salt.  Bring to a boil & then lower heat to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape.  If you prefer, drain off any water that is not absorbed during cooking, but I usually keep it with the lentils as it is a tasty broth.  Lentils cook quickly, and will be tender in about 25 minutes.

 

French green lentil salad 2

French Green Lentils with Greens, Goat Cheese and Red Wine Vinegar

Warm cooked lentils
Butter
Freshly ground pepper
Greens, washed and spun dry
Fresh herbs {basil, parsley or whatever you like and have on hand}
Soft fresh goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Put some warm lentils in a bowl {I used about 3/4 cup lentils for myself}.  Add a pat of butter and freshly ground pepper.  Stir to melt and distribute the butter.  Top with greens and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Crumble some soft goat cheese over and drizzle with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Eat now. . .yum!

French green lentil salad 3

Bon appétit!

 

Closeup of Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad 3


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Mixed Greens Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Apologies for the extended hiatus from this blog!!  When I saw the date of my last post…GASP!  I knew it had been a while, but I didn’t realize that I had been away for almost 2 months.  I did take a trip to the Mainland, which I will share soon, but that was only 10 days.  As I have mentioned before, time gets away from me on an almost daily basis, so there you have it.  And on to salad!

I love salads of all kinds, and can eat them any time of the day.  Salad for breakfast?  No problem!  This salad is simple, quick to assemble and delicious.  What made it so good was the combination of roasted beets, creamy goat cheese and walnuts.  Dress with a homemade vinaigrette {recipe from my friend Barb} and enjoy.  It doesn’t require many ingredients or much effort to create a tasty salad dressing, sans additives that you probably don’t want.

Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad 2

Mixed Greens Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Mixed greens, washed and spun dry
Roasted beets {you can use steamed beets if you prefer}
Onion, thinly sliced {sweet or red onions are good here}
Soft fresh goat cheese
Walnuts, broken
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Put mixed greens of your choice into a bowl or plate {I used arugula and romaine}.  Top with roasted beets, onions, goat cheese and broken walnuts.  If you have some whole walnut halves, put one on top for a pretty garnish.  Season salad with salt and pepper and drizzle with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Roasted Beets
{from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone}

Peel 2 large beets and cut into 1/2 inch dice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place diced beets on a foil-lined sheet pan, so they are not over-crowded {or they will steam instead of roast}.  Toss beets with just enough olive oil to lightly coat {too much oil will yield greasy beets}.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast the beets for 25-30 minutes, until the juices begin to caramelize and the beets are tender but firm.

 

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp Meyer lemon juice {regular lemon is fine}
3 tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a jar & shake to blend.

Notes:

  • On my trip to Washington State, I had a salad almost identical to this one, but it included fresh blueberries.  I highly recommend the addition of berries to this salad.
  • I am a huge fan of maple syrup, so I generally use it over brown sugar.

Bon appétit!

Closeup of steak salad with cilantro blossoms


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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}.

Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake


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A Dense & Delicious Poppyseed Cake

Every so many years, my birthday coincides with Father’s Day; such was the case this year.  Sadly, my father passed away in 2008 and my husband’s father in 1985.  We celebrated our fathers along with my birthday.  Also, yesterday Maui Girl Cooks turned one year old!  On Sunday, in honor of all of these events,  I made a cake {it really was just my birthday cake}.  Lest you think one should not bake one’s own birthday cake, it is no problem at all; I do not mind.  Many foodies have been known to make their own birthday cakes.  All kinds of possibilities tumbled around in my head.  What should I make?  I thought a lot about what kind of cake I wanted–chocolate cake with mocha frosting, Boston Cream Pie, chocolate rum cake, apple galette, this strawberry cheesecake and poppyseed cake were all in the running for the occasion {yes, I know those are not all cakes}.  I finally decided on poppyseed cake with this lemon curd.  Time did not allow for the lemon curd, but I will make it soon, and you will be among the first to know how it goes; I have no doubt that it will be delightful.  My ideas for variations on this poppyseed cake are many and I will share the results with you when I make them.  I baked this cake once before, sometime within the last year I think {last year’s birthday cake too maybe??}.  It was excellent, but I tweaked it just a bit this time, reducing the sugar a tad and adding lemon zest.  Next time I will add more lemon zest.  It was a fine birthday cake! Slice of Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Lemon Poppyseed Cake
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone {Deborah Madison}

1 cup poppyseeds stirred into 1/2 cup hot milk {when ready to use, drain off any unabsorbed milk}
2 cups {10 oz.} whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced and softened
1 cup sugar minus about 1 tbsp {5 3/4 oz}
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream or buttermilk {I had neither, so I used 1 tbsp white vinegar with milk to make 1 cup}
Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic {next time I will use 2 lemons}

Set the poppy seeds aside to soak in the milk until needed {if you have time, soak the seeds for a couple hours}.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly butter and flour {or spray} a 9-inch springform pan.  Mix the dry ingredients together and set them aside. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they form firm but moist peaks and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, then beat in the yolks one at a time until smooth.  Scrape down the bowl, then stir in the sour cream or buttermilk, drained poppy seeds and lemon zest.  Add the dry ingredients in thirds.  If using a mixer, this can be done on low speed.  Scrape up the batter from the bottom of the bowl to make sure it’s well mixed, then stir in a quarter of the beaten egg whites before folding in the rest.  Smooth the batter into the pan, then bake until golden, firm. and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 50 minutes.  Remove from the oven, set the cake on a rack, and gently remove the rim so that the cake can cool. We have always enjoyed this cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, but it would be delicious with fresh strawberries and softly whipped cream, as Madison suggests. Makes 1 9-inch cake, serving 10-12.

Bon appétit!


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Something of Importance and Banana Frozen Yogurt with Raw Cacao Nibs

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

This post was started at the end of May, and was then interrupted by a couple days at work and a trip to Oahu to visit family.  I’m happy to be finishing it tonight!

On my walk this morning, I saw something on the ground, something that upon closer inspection, made me sad.  It was a student-made book called “My Fourth Grade Memories.” The pages were bound between 2 royal purple construction paper covers.  Did the book’s author know that his or her 4th grade “memoir” was on the ground?  Was it casually tossed out because it wasn’t deemed important enough to take home to share with family members?  Or did it simply fall to the ground because it wasn’t placed securely into the backpack?  I wonder if the author has noticed that the book is missing.  School is out now on Maui, so summer vacation has officially begun.  My Washington teaching friends still have another month or so {sorry about that!!}.  Soon their students will write their own memory books and summer vacation will begin for them {summer weather too, I hope}.

4th grade memory book

There is a children’s picture book called The Important Book {Margaret Wise Brown}.  I used to share this book with my primary students when I taught elementary school.  The book offers kids the opportunity to contemplate their own ideas of what is important about different things {daisies, grass, snow, apples, etc}.  I’m not sure what made me think about this book now, unless it was the mystery 4th grader’s book on the ground.  Anyway. . .

The important thing about Saturday is that it is market day.  It is usually sunny, golden and warm, but sometimes the wind blows, rain splashes down and it’s chilly {really}.  Green is most abundant in lettuce, kale, chard, scallions, broccoli, asparagus and arugula.  Hues of orange and gold arrive in the form of kabocha squash, ripe papayas and mangos. Gingery brown kombucha is effervescent with spicy sweet fresh ginger flavor.  Yellow Meyer lemons {!!!} burst forth with tart-sweet juice, and the pink grapefruits will be enjoyed soon.  Purple beets will be pickled and purple cabbage thinly sliced into salads.  Tomatoes are the only crimson in the collection of fruits and vegetables for next week’s good eats.  Vendors and customers enthusiastically greet one another and share secrets about how to most enjoy this fruit or that vegetable.  Electricity is in the air, as people fill their market bags and baskets with fabulous local produce and products, grown and made by hardworking people who care about good food.  But the important thing about Saturday is that it is market day.

I was warm at the end of my 3 mile walk this morning, so I made a delicious banana frozen yogurt snack.  I wrote about ways to use frozen bananas here and here, but this morning’s frozen yogurt was especially delicious.  If you have bananas in your freezer, you are less than 5 minutes away from a delicious breakfast, snack or dessert.  You can alter this “recipe” in so many ways that you almost never have to make it the same way twice, unless you want to.

It seems that I forgot to photograph adding the yogurt, vanilla & roasted peanuts, but you get the idea.

sliced bananas in food processorsliced bananas, pb and salt sliced banana, pb, salt, cacao nibs enjoy your frozen treat

Banana Frozen Yogurt with Raw Cacao Nibs

1 large frozen banana, or 2 apple bananas {a local variety which is half the size of a Cavendish banana, the kind usually seen in the grocery store}
2 heaping teaspoons {a teaspoon you eat with, not a measuring spoon} plain yogurt {I used full fat this time}
1 heaping teaspoon  {a teaspoon you eat with, not a measuring spoon} crunchy peanut butter
1/2 tbsp raw cacao nibs
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
2 grinds sea salt
splash of vanilla

Thinly slice the bananas into a small food processor {I have a Cuisinart Mini-Prep}.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy; you want to be sure that the bananas are completely broken down and smooth.  The yogurt will be crunchy from the peanut butter, peanuts and cacao nibs, and that is a really good thing~yum!

Notes:
* If I think about it, I’ll put the yogurt into my serving bowl and pop it into the freezer for a little while, so my final product will be a bit more firm.  You can put it into the freezer after it’s made also, if you like, but I wouldn’t leave it there for more than an hour or two, or it will be too hard.
* Try adding different nut butters and/or nuts.
* Substitute chocolate of your choice for the cacao nibs
* Cocoa or espresso powder anyone??

Bon appétit!

 

 

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