Fall Comfort and Friends

In L.A. Halloween is the earliest we start to see Fall. For me it is also when I start looking to gather my family and friends together. There is no better way to get people together than a warm cup of soup and a comfort sandwich. So when the kids start collecting candy, I start making soups.

A soup and sandwich combo is perfect because it gives me an excuse to get up from the table and not be the only one in the kitchen. I love the idea of inviting everyone into the kitchen to ladle up a bowl of warm tomato soup and help themselves to my Panini bar, to make their own sandwich.

I found and interesting tomato soup mash up with French Onion Soup. It sounded great but had a lot of steps. Unless, it’s a holiday that is not how I want to spend my time in the Fall. I took the lead from Poole’s Diner in North Carolina and made it my own. The best is caramelized onions and the sweetness they add.

In addition to putting out a beautiful selection of meats, cheeses, breads and toppings, for the Panini bar, I also make these Grilled Cheese Roll-ups. They’re super easy and the kids love to be able to grab them and run out the door to Trick or Treat. Don’t tell the kids but I actually put a little bit of Dijon on the bread before it cooks.

I hope you all have a fabulous Fall season and a scary Halloween.

Roasted Tomato / French Onion Soup
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Servings
6 bowls
Servings
6 bowls
Roasted Tomato / French Onion Soup
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Servings
6 bowls
Servings
6 bowls
Ingredients
Servings: bowls
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 425°
  2. Toss together tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 20 - 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and add to soup pot with chicken stock, bay leaves and butter.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
  6. While soup is cooking: Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy skillet, over medium heat.
  7. Add onions and 2 tsp. salt. Turn heat to high and stir for 1 minute to coat onions evenly with salt and oil.
  8. Reduce heat to medium/low and cover pan. Cook covered for 20 minutes.
  9. Uncover and continue to stir and cook until onions are thick and a deep brown color. Set aside.
  10. Remove bay leaves. Use immersion blender and blend to desired consistency. I like mine a little rustic.
  11. Add the caramelized onions and stir to incorporate and heat onions, if they've cooled. At this point you can add cream, if using.
  12. Stack 2 baguette slices in each bowl, with 1 T. of cheese between each layer and on top.
  13. Ladle the hot soup around the bread.
  14. Place bowls under the broiler and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and browned. This is easier if you put the bowls on a sheet pan.
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Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
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Servings
6 sandwiches
Servings
6 sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
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Servings
6 sandwiches
Servings
6 sandwiches
Ingredients
Servings: sandwiches
Instructions
  1. Use a rolling pin, to roll slices of bread to 1/4" thickness.
  2. Spread each slice with a tiny bit of Dijon mustard, optional.
  3. Place 1 lice of cheese on each bread and roll tightly.
  4. Melt 2 T. of butter in a large fry pan over high heat.
  5. Add roll-up to pan and cook until all sides are golden brown and cheese is melted. You may have to do a few at a time and add more butter if needed.
  6. Serve immediately
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So Many Strawberries!

When I go to the farmer’s market on Saturday’s I get a little over zealous buying berries. I buy way more strawberries than I know we’ll use, but I also get a little nuts with the blue, black and little red ones, too. May is our peak month but, here in California, we are fortunate to enjoy beautiful berries all year long. I get really frustrated when my berries go bad before we have a chance to eat them. So now I make jam! Sometimes just strawberry, other times I mix it up. The point is I make a lot of jam!

Making jam is one of those arts that is actually pretty easy. If you make it with lots of love, like I do, it’s a great gift. I have been trying to keep some in my freezer and take it as a hostess gifts.

The basic recipe is always the same, but you can get creative with flavors. You can play around with spices. How about adding some ginger? Then use it as a glaze over pork tenderloin as it’s grilling. Adding a little fresh ground black pepper gives a surprising flavor profile when used in a Croque Monsieur. I sometimes stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter for a creamier texture. If you’re, really, looking to jazz it up, try adding orange liqueur or champagne. Be sure to remove the jam from the heat to add liquor. Just stir in about 1/3 cup, then boil again for about 5 minutes to set-up.

Homemade jam is always appreciated and what can be better than a dab of fresh jam on toast in the morning or even a midnight snack.

So Many Strawberries!
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So Many Strawberries!
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Wash and hull strawberries. Give them a rough chop.
  2. Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, over medium heat.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes. Use a brush dipped in water to brush down any sugar crystals on side.
  4. Once jam has thickened, remove from heat. I use a immersion blender to puree it a little.
  5. At this point you can add 1/3 cup of your favorite liqueur (I like Grand Marnier). Just be sure to remove from heat before adding. You may need to bring it back to a boil for 5-10 minutes, if it thins out too much.
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It’s National Chess Day!

Today is National Chess Day. Yes they are talking about the game, but it made me think about a pie I had as a child, when I would go and visit my grandparents, in Georgia. I looked through a few cookbooks and found no less than fourteen recipes for Chess Pie. Five of them are my own family’s recipes.

Folklore of how this pie got it’s name is that a cook on a plantation made up the recipe and when asked what she had made she answered “Just pie”. Because of her thick accent it was misheard as “chess pie”. Of course there are as many versions of how it got its name as there are recipes for the pie.

Another version of the story is that because the recipe has such a high amount of sugar, it is naturally preserved and therefore didn’t need to be stored in an icebox and could be kept in a pie chest. Again chest eventually got slanged down to “chess”. Finally, there is a version that says Chess Pie is really Cheese Pie, an English recipe that is almost identical and is basically a form of cheesecake. I don’t buy this one at all.

If you don’t know what Chess Pie is, it is a custard pie with a minimal amount of cornmeal or sometimes flour in it. This basic pie exists in every region, in some form. Indiana has Sugar Pie and this may even be a precursor to the base of lemon meringue pie. You could even call it a solid pudding in a crust.

This pie hits all the sensory notes. It is at once smooth with a bit of crunch from the cornmeal. The corn meal will rise to the top and form a crust. When I was a kid I loved this pie because it was so sweet and the more sugar the better. Now that I am an adult, I understand the nuances of the flavor and sugar.

Chess Pie, in the south is like Pound Cake and squash soufflé. If you ask a dozen women you will get a dozen recipes for the same item. I even did a spreadsheet to see where the variances are. I really only wanted to make my family recipe but I tried one other, too. They are both very sweet. In our family recipe, the one below, a tablespoon of vinegar is added. It seems to be what cuts the sweetness a bit.

The ingredients of the recipe are basics and you probably have them in your pantry and fridge all the time. Really, sugar, eggs, cornmeal, milk and butter, is all you need. It all comes together fast so, if you do have the ingredients on hand, you can have a fabulous dessert made in about an hour. However, I do recommend that it cool then get refrigerated over night before serving.

You can add different flavors, too. The easiest way is to change out the vanilla for another extract. However, you can add 1 cup of coconut or ¼ cup cocoa powder too. The cocoa powder also cuts down the sweetness.

Just one bite of this pie and I am driving down a red dirt road to my grandparents and catching lightning bugs.

Chess Pie
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Servings
8-10-10
Servings
8-10-10
Chess Pie
Print Recipe
Servings
8-10-10
Servings
8-10-10
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Beat the eggs until frothy.
  2. Stir in sugar, milk, cornmeal, vinegar and vanilla. beat until well blended.
  3. Add butter and blend well.
  4. Pour into an unbaked 9" pie shell and sprinkle with nutmeg.
  5. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes.
  6. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight, before serving.
Recipe Notes

My pie dish is actually a 10" pie dish so, as you can see, the filling didn't come all the way up. Be sure to use a 9" pie dish or make a 1 1/2 times batch.

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Caffeine to Go – Cappuccino Muffins!

There is a coffee store every 500 yards, on every block. The coffee shelf at your local grocery store has become the coffee aisle and the fact that bakers have been putting coffee in their chocolate recipes for years, is finally out of the darkness. I wanted to find the perfect recipe to encapsulate all I love about coffee and baking, but wasn’t overtly chocolate. Cappuccino Muffins!

I first tried Cappuccino Muffins when my second daughter was in pre-school. One of the Moms brought them in for the Mom’s whose kids were going through transition. At that point in pre-school you start the day with your child and then go sit outside for a while to make sure they can hack it without you. I have to admit, my girls were always independent enough that I could have dropped them off their very first day and they would have been fine. Other Moms didn’t have it so easy and we could hear their kid wailing, waiting for them to come back in. So those perfect muffins, flavored with espresso, and studded with chocolate chips were just what we all needed to settle our nerves and spark conversation.

I had been given the recipe but have searched high and low for my copy and couldn’t find it. Let the recipe testing begin! It was a truly fun day and I might have a mild case of the jitters, from all the caffeine, but I think I came up with just the right flavor and an added perk of espresso cream cheese schmear. I ran out of my instant espresso powder and my local grocer didn’t have it. They did have Starbuck’s Via Instant Coffee in Italian Roast. That worked just fine.

These are great to make ahead and keep on the counter for about a week. You can also make them and freeze them. I would wrap them individually and grab them on the way out the door. By the time you get to work they will have defrosted and be ready to eat. Even better, you can toast them, from frozen, and use a little of the schmear.

Cappuccino Muffins with Espresso Scmear
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Servings
12 muffins
Servings
12 muffins
Cappuccino Muffins with Espresso Scmear
Print Recipe
Servings
12 muffins
Servings
12 muffins
Ingredients
Espresso Schmear
Servings: muffins
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together milk and coffee until coffee dissolves.
  3. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Fill paper lined muffin tins 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes. Just until tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes in pan then on rack.
  9. Serve with schmear.
Espresso Schmear
  1. In a small bowl beat together all schmear ingredients until well blended. Refrigerate until served.
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It about Storage!

I thought I’d circle back about my food waste post, earlier this week and storage.

The leading culprit of food waste is proper storage and the biggest areas of waste are seafood (50%) and produce (48%). Neither of those really surprised me but I would have put produce first in my house.

So here are a couple of notes on proper storage.:

Herbs– Store your  like fresh flowers, in a glass of water. I find that some do better in the refrigerator and    some are better on the counter. You have to experiment.

Flour – Unless you are baking often, store your flour in the freezer. This surprised me. This is because all grains, especially whole-grains, have some natural oils in them. Oils go rancid. Freezing or even storing in the refrigerator prevents this. If you do store this way make sure it is in an airtight container and that you let what you use come back to room temperature.

Cheese – I always knew I didn’t like plastic storage but now I know why. Plastic holds in moisture and as a result can promote mold. For items like cheese, use wax paper. I love the wax sandwich bags my mom used to use for lunches. For Bread, use a good old-fashioned paper bag, on the counter.

Oils – Most oils go bad after 2-3 months, once they are opened. Be sure to keep them in a dark environment. Sesame oil can be stored in the refrigerator.

Nuts – You can, and should, keep your fresh nuts in the freezer. Depending on the nut, they will keep in freezer 2-9 months versus 1-3, just on counter or in your pantry.

There are also simple ways to revive some foods that may just need a little help taking that last step, before the trash or compost heap.

Wilted Vegetables and Lettuce, simply give them a quick soak (5-10 minutes) in ice water.

Stale Bread, toast it and enjoy or season and toast then run through a food processor for great bread crumbs.

If you accidentally over salt something, add an acid like lemon or vinegar. If you are making soup or sauce, throw a raw potato in to absorb the extra salt.

Even overcooked veggies can be pureed and made into a soup or added to a sauce.

Buy and use the ugly fruits and vegetables. They, too, often end up in the trash of the grocery store.

For additional information go to savethefood.com.

 

My Refrigerator Wasteland

My refrigerator, after the Jewish Holidays, could be a case study for food waste programs everywhere! It happens every holiday. My family makes requests of what foods they would like, I make them and we end up with a refrigerator full of leftovers. Even this year when I tried so hard to avoid the excess, I am still have a fridge full. There’s even half an egg salad sandwich (on rye) in there.

Recently, the Save the Food campaign has really ramped up and it seems that I see the commercial every 20 minutes. This year it really got me thinking and I am going to share some recipes that I‘ll be using to re-use and repurpose some of my leftovers.

I was astonished to learn that 40% of all food in the United States is never eaten; but 1 out of 8 Americans struggle to put enough food on their table. This has inspired me to offer myself (and my fridge) as an example. Here are a few recipes I am using this week for my leftovers. The steak and kugels will definitely get eaten on their own. But there’s milk in there that was 2% instead of 1% and my picky kid wouldn’t drink it. If you can catch milk and that first tart smell, it makes great pancakes or biscuits. Then the blueberries and lemon will make a great syrup or jam. Finally, I’m going to make a carrot/potato soup and garnish with chives that I have crisped up in a little oil. Enjoy!

Leftover Carrot/Potato Soup
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Leftover Carrot/Potato Soup
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a soup pot, sauce the onions and garlic in the butter, until translucent.
  2. Add the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf and seasonings. Cook until carrots and potatoes are tender enough to puree. If you are using leftovers you may not have to cook too long. If not, cook 25-30 minutes.
  3. Discard the bay, then puree soup. I like an immersion blender. You can also do it in batches in a food processor, just do a little bit a time. You can puree until smooth, but I like a little of texture.
  4. In a separate saute pan heat 2 T. oil and saute chives until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Use to garnish soup.
  5. Adjust salt & pepper to taste and serve soup with five garnish.
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Sour Milk Pancakes
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Sour Milk Pancakes
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl wish together all dry ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, eggs and oil.
  3. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and stir in milk mixture until batter is smooth.
  4. Heat a large pan or griddle and grease.
  5. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter, onto pan, for each pancake.
  6. Once bubbles form and appear to be drying, flip pancakes and cook for another minute or two. Repeat until batter is finished.
  7. Brush with melted butter and serve with Blueberry Lemon syrup or your favorite toppings.
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Blueberry Lemon Syrup
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Servings
2 cups
Servings
2 cups
Blueberry Lemon Syrup
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Servings
2 cups
Servings
2 cups
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan bring the berries and water to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour berries, into a bowl, through a sieve. be sure to press down on the fruit to extract every bit of juice. Hopefully you have 3 cups of liquid. If not, add water to bring to measure.
  3. Return to saucepan and add sugar, salt, lemon peel and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  4. You can use a candy thermometer and boil until reaches 225° or reduce heat and simmer until syrup has reduced until thick enough to coat back of spoon.
  5. Remove from heat and discard lemon peel.
  6. Whisk in butter and vanilla.
  7. Allow to cool. Store in airtight jar in fridge, for up to 6 months.
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Chuy’s Rainforest BBQ

I might have mentioned that I love to go to Maui, a lot. Usually, my vacation routine is: wake-up, favorite tropical granola for breakfast (and Portuguese sausage), plop on beach, fruit plate or chips & salsa by pool for lunch, nap, fantastic dinner at amazing local restaurant, go to bed and hit repeat. I’ve been doing it that way for nearly 20 years and it works. Occasionally, I will throw in a horseback ride or snorkeling. Once, I even went to Haleakala for sunrise. But I try to stay true to my routine.

This year my trip was not with my husband or family, but with my great friend Mariana. We decided to make this trip more adventurous than my usual. The highlight of this adventure was our almost trip to Hana.

Our Road to Hana was abbreviated, gladly. We started out on the same road as everyone does. The road was a simple two-way black top. The air was perfumed with flowers like pikae and plumeria, but it hung heavy with the humidity. The aroma of the water, flowers and highway mixed was inviting us to keep driving. We saw lots of fruit and smoothie stands, we saw the Painted Eucalyptus, which was very cool, and we got lots of bug bites. The highlight of our drive was meeting Chuy at Ka Haku Smokeshack. Let me say that by shack, I mean a lean-to in the middle of a rainforest. Oh sure there were grates for a BBQ and a corrugated tin roof to protect from the rain. There were two picnic tables fashioned out of trees and Chuy had set up a cooler with water and some cups. But that was the extent of our lunch restaurant.

The menu consisted of one $20 plate. “Plates” are big in Hawaii. The meal was marinated BBQ chicken and pork belly served with Fern Pohole Salad, white sticky rice and grilled bananas sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon with a generous dollop of whipped cream. You could buy a beer or bottle of water. If there were coconuts available, there was guy that would open them up, with his machete, for you to drink. We got really lucky and a crazy lady picked up the machete herself and started hacking away at a coconut. She said this was okay because they “do it at Whole Foods”. YIKES! But I digress.

Chuy had a marinade that he used on everything and even sprayed on the salad and rice right before serving. I can’t say for sure what was in the marinade but I know there was soy sauce, ginger and a little sugar in it. It created such a nice caramelized, crispy skin on the chicken and pork belly. It was exactly the right acid and sweetness to cut the fat too. Chuy promises to share his recipe when he finishes moving but I found a recipe for pork belly and another for the salad that I think come close, minus the rainforest.

Kalua Pork Belly
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Servings
8-10 servings
Servings
8-10 servings
Kalua Pork Belly
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Servings
8-10 servings
Servings
8-10 servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, over a medium heat, combine the first 9 ingredients ending with liquid smoke
  2. Bring to a simmer and then cook for 3-5 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and stir into chilled chicken stock. This is your marinade.
  4. Place the pork belly into a deep roasting dish and pour marinade over it. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
  5. Remove pork belly from fridge one hour before cooking. You want it to come back to room temperature.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°.
  7. Cover roasting dish with foil and braise, in oven, until pork belly is tender, about 4-5 hours.
  8. Remove from oven, but DO NOT turn oven of.
  9. Transfer pork belly to a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet and st aside.
  10. Strain your marinade through a fine mesh sieve, into a saucepan and skim the fat.
  11. Over a medium his heat, cook the marinade liquid ad reduce until you have about 3 cups of a thick glaze. Watch it but this should take about 25 minutes.
  12. Brush the glaze, generously, all over the pork belly and return to oven for another 25-30 minutes.
  13. When it comes out of the oven, let pork rest for a few minutes then slice into desired sized pieces. I like to cut in strips , but bit-sized is great too.
  14. Serve over rice, and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Don't forget about the Pohole salad.
Recipe Notes
  • The marinade and pork belly can both be made a day ahead of time. Just bring back to room temperature, glaze the pork belly and heat through at 350° for 25 minutes.
  • If you can't find a dark chicken stock, try making it yourself or you can use beef stock. Just make sure the store bought ones are rich.
  • You can also do the last part of cooking on a BBQ instead of finishing in oven, just watch it.
  • The marinade can be used for chicken too.
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Pohole Fern Salad
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Pohole Fern Salad
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Wash the hairs off the fiddlehead fern. Start breaking pieces off. Use only the ones that break off easy.
  2. Blanch the Pohole pieces in boiling water, until color pops (about 3 minutes).
  3. Plunge into cold iced water to stop cooking
  4. Whisk all dressing ingredients together.
  5. Toss salad ingredients into dressing. Season with salt & pepper.
  6. Serve chilled.
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Always Mama’s!

Mama’s Fish house was officially opened in 1973, in Pa’ia, Maui. I went to Maui for the first time in 1974. So we practically grew up together. I was on the Kannapali side of the island and Mama’s was on the Wailea side. I was hitchhiking from our apartment in Napili to Lahaina, while over at Mama’s, fisherman were pulling their boats up onto the beach to sell their fresh fish. If you look on a map of Maui there is a natural divide and back then, and even kind of today, that divide was very real. As a resident of the Westside I very rarely ventured to the North. If I did, it was probably to go to the airport and if we were eating, it was at Chuck’s Steakhouse. Steakhouses were big in the 70’s & 80’s, on the island.

Throughout the 80’s I would go back to Maui again and again, but it was always back to the Kannapali side and it was mostly to “party”, lay in the sun and repeat. In the mid-nineties, I was invited back by my soon to be fiancé and we stayed on the North side, in Wailea. It was 1997 and this would be my first trip to Mama’s.

Even in 1997, 24 years after it opened, Mama’s was still more a hidden treasure for locals than an in demand tourist destination. The restaurant was way bigger than the shack it started out as, but I bet it still only sat maybe 50 people. The, always missed the first time, driveway was now marked by the very boat they used to catch their fish on. The menu had not changed very much. They still told you who caught the fish and where, on the menu. Their signature dish of Macadamia Nut Encrusted Mahi-Mahi, stuffed with crab was still their best seller and you still got sand in your shoes walking to your table.

After that 1997 trip to Maui, going to Mama’s became a tradition every trip. From 1997, when we got engaged, to 1999 the birth of our first child and beyond; we went every year until 2013. Each year as our children got bigger, so did Mama’s. Now you walk in and go down some stairs to get to the hostess stand. They have valet parking and postcards to send back to the mainland. But they have always remained true to their roots.

When Mama’s opened in 1973, they wanted to showcase the fish and foods of Polynesia. Even in 2000, that remained their driving force. That was the year they re-introduced the long neglected, breadfruit, a fruit similar in texture to a potato but sweetens when cooked, and other Polynesian foods. They began working with local Farmers to grow the best organic produce and they continue to put the name of the fisherman, his catch, and where it was caught on the menu.

Today, Mama’s stays true to itself, even in a restaurant big enough for a convention, that might be held at the new Mama’s Inn, on property. The mahi-mahi is still the signature entrée. Through the years they also became famous for their Ceviche and Maui Banana Macadamia Crisp. This was my first trip there in four years, but it was just as fantastic as it has ever been. They keep their recipes pretty close, so I was unable to get the recipe for the mahi-mahi I had this year. This year it was served with a pineapple beurre blanc. However, I think I’ve come pretty close in re-creating it. I hope when you bite into the tender and mild white fish, the salty taste of the crab and the sweetness of the pineapple beurre blanc, you will be transported to a shack on the beach in Maui.

 

Macadamia Nut Encrusted, Crab Stuffed Mahi-Mahi with a Pineapple Beurre Blanc
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Macadamia Nut Encrusted, Crab Stuffed Mahi-Mahi with a Pineapple Beurre Blanc
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Ingredients
Fish
Stuffing
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Make a horizontal cut in one edge of each fillet, creating a pocket, but leaving the other sides in tact.
  2. Lightly dust the fish fillets with the seasoned flour.
  3. Toss together the macadamia nuts and bread crumbs. Saute the nuts and breadcrumbs in 1 T. butter until just toasted and golden brown.
  4. Mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, parsley and old bay. Set aside.
  5. Fill each fillet with about an ounce of stuffing. You can eyeball it. Just make sure it is even among the fillets.
  6. Heat remaining butter and oil in a large sauté pan.
  7. Dip stuffed fillets in egg. I like to do one side at a time and let the excess drip off. Then repeat on other side.
  8. Press the fillet firmly into the topping.
  9. Make sure the sauté pan is hot before placing the fillet and cooking until golden brown, about 1 ½ minutes. Turn and repeat. Be sure to watch closely. Macadamias have a lot of natural oil and can burn quickly.
  10. Remove from pan and keep warm.
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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
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Hawaiian French Toast
Print Recipe
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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