Month: August 2017

ALOHA!

Aloooooha! I am back from my happy place. It really doesn’t matter all the wonderful places that I am able to travel to, Maui, the Valley Isle, will always be my favorite. As you fly in you can see the lush green valleys and black lava peaks, formed from years of volcanic activity. I imagine that I can smell the sweet and salty water filled air and a smile spreads across my face. When I return to Maui, there are specific food rituals that I must do or I feel incomplete.

I usually start with an obligatory shave ice. Each time I am in Maui, I search for the perfect shave ice.  I try to find just the right  incarnation. Shave Ice is exactly what it says it is; a huge block of ice is put in a machine and finely shaved flakes of ice, fall into a cup ready to be adorned with sweet syrup. That is how most mainlanders enjoy it. Hawaiians add vanilla ice cream on the bottom and a drizzle of sweetened condensed cream, on top. This trip I found Tobi’s Shave Ice in Pa’ia. Like other shave ice shacks there is a myriad of syrup flavors and the ice is shaved to perfection. What I love is how they burrow the ice cream in the middle of the shave ice. This is assures that you get a little bite of creaminess with every bit of shave ice. And you can still get the drizzle of condensed cream. I have to say that Tobi’s rocked!

There is also the ritual of Hawaiian Breakfast. I love Hawaiian French Toast. I like it with bananas, macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. I’ve had the pancake version of this but they always seem heavy. There are so many great Hawaiian breakfast items. Things like Portuguese sausage, Spam and Pork Fried Rice with Eggs are traditional. I love macadamia nut sticky buns!

This trip I tried Kihei Caffe’s french toast. They use Portuguese bread; think Kings Hawaiian bread in a loaf. The bread is made with milk, sugar, eggs, honey and lemon zest. It has a sweet flavor and is really light in texture. You can use brioche if you can’t find Portuguese or Hawaiian Bread. The bread is soaked in an egg mixture, like traditional French toast but it is cooked in a sauté pan and then baked. This locks in the creamy texture in the center and a caramelized crunch on top. Once it’s baked slice some fresh or caramelized bananas and some chopped macadamia nuts over the top. I drizzle the toast with a little maple syrup and some coconut syrup. The combination of sweet and salty with just a little bit of crunch is phenomenal! I can smell the coconut syrup and ocean breeze and am ready for breakfast.

I have been going to Maui since 1974. I have witnessed so many changes. While I still long for the quiet uninhabited island that it once was, I love the new food and beverage scene that the growth has brought. Here is a recipe for Hawaiian French Toast that comes close to the one I had at Kihei Caffe. Enjoy!

Hawaiian French Toast
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Hawaiian French Toast
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk vanilla, honey and salt. Soak bread slices in egg mixture for 2 minutes each side.
  3. Melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large skillet and add half of the soaked bread. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until it is just golden brown. Repeat with remaining bread and butter.
  4. Place cooked bread on a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with whatever toppings you like. I like butter, and a mixture of bananas and chopped macadamia nuts with a drizzle of maple and coconut syrups.
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Paella!

Paella! I never thought I’d have an opinion about Paella. After 10 days in Spain I do. I don’t like it. By definition Paella is: A Spanish dish of rice, saffron, chicken, seafood etc., cooked and served in a large shallow pan.

When we first got married my husband told me of his love for Paella – magical Spanish rice and seafood dish, perfumed with saffron. He spent the summer in Barcelona, for the 1992 Summer Olympics. As a young bride, 19 years ago, I decided to make him my paella. So I made a version that I had found, in some cookbook. It had the obligatory saffron and was a seafood and meat mix. It was good, but I could never capture the exact flavor he was looking for. I added more seafood, less stock, more meat, more stock and any variation I could trying to take him back to those happy days in Barcelona (please pronounce bar th lona).

As we were planning our trip, I came across a tour through the famed Bouqueria Market, in Barcelona, followed by a cooking class with a local chef. One of the menu items was paella. I quickly booked the tour and told my husband of our plans. He was excited to have that joy of paella back again.

The class was great! The wine was flowing and each dish we made tasted better than the last. It was amazing! When it came time for the paella we were invited to sit down and serve family style. More wine was poured, crusty tomato bread was on the table and the big pan of paella was presented. We had all taken our turn adding what the chef instructed us to and cooking the paella and that added to our anticipation.

The big first bite came and I made that face you make when you try something that just doesn’t feel or taste right to you. Was it just me? Apparently, yes it was. I don’t think anybody LOVED it but nobody had quite the aversion to it that I did. Even my husband, who was so looking forward to it, said it was “OK”. Where was my crunchy rice on the bottom? Why was it so fishy? We decided we would try Paella again as we moved through Spain. This wasn’t very hard to do. It is served on every street corner. Seriously, it is the cheeseburger of Spain!

In Pamplona, we had cones of paella, from questionable street vendors and with lots of Sangria. In San Sebastian, we had paella pintxos, as we walked through the very laid-back seaside village. Finally we ate a whole paella meal in Madrid, at a restaurant owned by the same family for 45 years. We even met the 93-year-old grandmother. We had the seafood paella, the chicken and chorizo paella and, of course, the seafood paella. We were even invited into the kitchen where the cooks took pictures with us and offered to sell us their paella pans for $300! All of them were “good” and my husband loved the meal in Madrid. However, I need to keep in mind that if you set your expectations too high, they may never be met. I came back undeterred. It became my mission to make paella that fits the classic definition and that my husband and I can love together.

I couldn’t believe that this recipe from, the actor, Stanley Tucci, is the one. In this recipe he takes the time to pull out the sofrito in the preparation and cooking. This is such an integral part of Spanish cooking, and I love that he seems to honor that. The proteins are all seafood, although you can easily add some chicken or chorizo, but he still uses a mix of fish and chicken stocks. I think that was one of the problems of the paella we made in class. It was too fishy. Finally, he specifically talks about the socarrat, the crunchy rice on the bottom. That is one of the best parts of paella.

Paella - adapted from Stanley Tucci's recipe
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Paella - adapted from Stanley Tucci's recipe
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Sofrito
The Paella
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Peel half the shrimps and put aside. In a paella pan or shallow saute pan, heat 1 T. olive oil over a medium heat. Add the un-peeled shrimp and cook for just a couple of minutes, until they are just starting to turning translucent. Set aside.
  2. To make the sofrito, in the same pan heat 2 T. olive oil over a low heat. Add the onions and shallot and cook gently to soften them, but not browning them. Add the garlic and peppers and cook over a low heat until they are also softened. Stir in the saffron and paprika. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf, then season generously with salt. Cook until the whole mixture has softened, about 7-10 minutes.
  3. Now you are starting to build your paella. Raise the heat medium high and add the rice and white wine. Stir everything together until the alcohol has burned off. Add both stocks and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat to a simmer and spread the ingredients, in the pan, evenly about the pan. You kind of want it to sit like a pancake, across the whole pan. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.
  5. Arrange the clams, mussels and all of the shrimp on top, do not stir and continue to cook until the clams and mussels have opened. The shrimp should be cooked through. This should take 5-10 minutes.
  6. If at this point, the rice still looks "wet", raise the heat for a few minutes to evaporate the liquid. Ideally, the rice will now have a golden crust on the bottoms, which the Spanish call the socarrat. You can lift a piece of the rice to check.
  7. Remove from heat and serve directly from the pan, with lots of crusty tomato bread. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

To toast the saffron, place a generous pinch in a small dry saute pan and gently toast over a low flame until it becomes fragrant, Do not burn.

You can used canned crushed tomatoes, if you must.  Please make sure they are a great quality. Be generous with the white wine and don't forget a little for the pan and a little for the chef.

You can create your own paellas by adding whatever proteins you like. Try chorizo or other sausages, Rabbit is very popular in Spain. You can add different seafood too, like scallops. Really whatever suits you. Enjoy!

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Off to College and Dorm Cooking

In 5 days, my oldest daughter will leave for college, for her freshman year. Cue the tears. Well, kinda. While I’m sad and will miss her, she is truly ready to launch and I am beyond proud of her drive to succeed.

Recently, I had a group of her friends to the house to teach them a dorm cooking class. This was basically, anything that you can cook in mug, in a microwave. I know there will be times that they don’t want to go out, but don’t really want to eat dorm food or pizza again. They loved it and so I am sharing the recipes and some tips here.

First thing I advise you to do is to buy one of those shoebox sized plastic bins. Fill this with an inexpensive set of measuring spoons, measuring cups, a can opener and either a small whisk or sturdy fork. You can even get a mini grater or microplane. There will be lots of extra room, but it will get used too.

Once your kids have moved in and made some friends on their floor or in the whole dorm, have them share these recipes and then they can co-purchase ingredients that they don’t need lot of and share. Things like a bag of flour or bottles of the spices can be split into Ziploc bags and expenses shared. I’m not sure about sharing the expense of candy bars or chocolate chips. Somehow I think they will all want their own. They can also “borrow” ingredients from the cafeteria. After all you’re paying for it.

My daughter is renting a microwave/refrigerator so we are going to create a little kitchen area with her shoebox of utensils and ingredients.

None of these recipes are low calorie and the question of freshman weight gain came up during this class. If you child is eating each of these as a single portion and not every recipe at the same time, they will not get fat. Remember its portion control.

I hope your college kid gets some use our of this post and that you don’t shed too many tears when they leave.

Muggy French Toast
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Muggy French Toast
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Grease a coffee mug.
  2. Whisk together milk, egg, cinnamon and vanilla in the mug. You can use a fork.
  3. Tear your bread in cubes and push it down into the mug. Let it soak and completely saturate.
  4. Microwave for 2 minutes. Watch your microwave. Your french toast will puff then deflate.
  5. Top it with maple syrup and/or powdered sugar. LET IT SIT FOR 1 MINUTE. THIS IS IMPORTANT! YOU WILL GET BURNED.
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Oatmeal in a Mug
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1
Servings
1
Oatmeal in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Stir the oats and 1 cup of the liquid you are using.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds. Remember to watch the microwave. Your oatmeal will boil over if you don't watch. If you see it start to boil over stop the microwave and give it a stir then start again.
  3. Stir in remaining liquid and microwave for another minute, watching.
  4. Let oatmeal sit for a full minute before you stir in whatever toppings you prefer. Try fresh or dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar or maple syrup.
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Eggs in a Mug
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1
Servings
1
Eggs in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Whisk (with a fork) the eggs together.
  2. Pour eggs in a greased mug. If you are using veggies, chop and add before cooking.
  3. Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remember to watch it. They will puff up then deflate.
  4. If you are adding cheese put back in microwave for 10 more seconds.
  5. Let it stand for a full minute before enjoying.
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Burrito Bowl in a Mug
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1
Servings
1
Burrito Bowl in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. I listed several add-ins above, Think of this as Chipotle at home. Add whatever you want (or can get in the cafeteria).
  2. Combine rice and water in a mug. Cook for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until it starts to boil. Watch it. You don't want it to boil over. Once it has boiled let it sit, in microwave for 1 minute.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes on half power.
  4. Once the rice is done, let it sit for another 5 minutes to get tender. Fluff with a fork. Then add your favorite add-ins.
  5. Microwave for 1 more minute to warm your add-ins. Enjoy!
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Egg Fried Rice in a Mug
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1
Servings
1
Egg Fried Rice in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Use non-stick spray and spray a mug.
  2. Place the rice in the mug and layer it with the peas, scallions, sprouts, cabbage, carrots and another veggies you are using.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and pierce a hole in top (to let steam release). Microwave for 1 minute 15 seconds.
  4. While that is happening, beat the egg with soy sauce, oil and onion powder. When rice mixture is done, stir in egg mixture.
  5. Cover again with plastic wrap and microwave for another minute to 1 minute 30 seconds.
  6. Remove from microwave. Remove plastic wrap and fluff with a fork. Let stand for a full minute before enjoying!
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Mac & Cheese in a Mug
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1
Servings
1
Mac & Cheese in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray mug with non-stick spray.
  2. Put the macaroni and water in mug and microwave for a 2 minutes. Watch it. The water will boil over and you want to catch it before you lose all the water.
  3. Stir and microwave another minute. Stir again. Check it. You want all but a little water evaporated. You can cook for incremental 30 seconds until you get what you want.
  4. Stir in the milk and cheese. Cook for another 30-60 seconds. Stir well.
  5. Let sit for a full minute before enjoying.
Recipe Notes

You can add a little salt and pepper if you like. Remember cheese is naturally  salty.

You can also jazz it up by adding some cayenne pepper for spice or say sauce for an asian flare. Get creative.

If you'd like to dress it up a bit mix some seasoned bread crumbs with butter and sprinkle on top. Microwave for an additional 30 seconds.

For  a lower fat version you can substitute 2 Tbsp. low fat cottage cheese and 3 T. sharp cheddar for the all the cheese above.

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Basic Vinaigrette
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Basic Vinaigrette
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a mason jar (or whatever closed container you have available) and shake like crazy.
  2. This will keep in your refrigerator for about a month.
Recipe Notes

You can use vegetable oil or olive oil. Just remember that olive oil changes the flavor profile.

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Ranch Powder
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Ranch Powder
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Servings
8ish
Servings
8ish
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put everything in an airtight container and shake it up! This will last you as you want (think school year, if you don't use it all up).
Recipe Notes

This is a great seasoning to take to the cafeteria. you can add it to meats and salads or anything that could use a flavor boost.

You can stir this into a cup of plain Greek yogurt for a dip. Then you can thin it out with some milk, mayo and sour cream to make a great dressing. The mixed dressing will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

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Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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1
Servings
1
Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray or butter a mug.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and salt.
  3. Add the oil and liquid (milk etc.) and chocolate chips.
  4. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes for a gooey cake and 2 1/2 for a cakey version.
  5. Let stand for a full minute before enjoying. By the way, adding some ice cream of whipped cream is a great idea!
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Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Chocolate Brownie Cake in a Mug
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Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray or butter a mug.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and salt.
  3. Add the oil and liquid (milk etc.) and chocolate chips.
  4. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes for a gooey cake and 2 1/2 for a cakey version.
  5. Let stand for a full minute before enjoying. By the way, adding some ice cream of whipped cream is a great idea!
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