Monday, December 22, 2014

Toasted Prosciutto and Brie Sandwiches with Sauteed Pear and Thyme

In the mood for something decadent? Look no further. A perfect holiday sandwich. Or morning sandwich. Or evening sandwich. Anytime, really. Especially as an antidote to a gray wintry day.

For a variation on the theme, or if you can't get your hands on a pear that's even halfway ripe, sub sliced apple for the pear and add a pinch of lemon zest.

Ingredients (per person)
1/2 - 1 red or green d'Anjou pear, peeled, sliced, and cut lengthwise into 1/2" strips
1/2 tbsp butter (optional)
1/2 tsp honey
2-3 pinches minced fresh thyme
2 slices sourdough bread (like Village Bakery's walnut levain)
Several thin slices brie or triple-cream (like Cowgirl Creamery's blissfully decadent Mt. Tam)
2 slices prosciutto
1 small handful baby arugula
Olive oil

Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter (or sub olive oil, if you prefer), then add the pear and sauté, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add the honey and stir to coat, then sprinkle lightly with thyme. Continue cooking another minute or three until the pears are soft (they should bend easily). Remove from the heat and set aside.

Assemble your sandwich: Cover a slice of bread with slices of brie in a single layer, then the
prosciutto, your arugula, and finally the pear. Top with the second slice of bread.

Use a paper towel to wipe out your pan, then heat it over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil, then set your sandwich in to toast. When the bottom is golden brown (1-2 minutes), flip carefully and toast the other side as well.

Remove from the pan, cut in half if desired, and serve hot.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sauteed Leeks and Carrots

Easy, different, and delectable.

Olive oil
2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned thoroughly, and sliced into half rings
1/2 - 1 bunch carrots, julienned
1 tbsp pastured butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add the leeks and a couple pinches of salt. Sauté for a minute, then turn the heat down to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for 5-10 minutes more until tender. Stir in the butter, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve warm.

Serves 2-3.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fish Curry with Gypsy Peppers

The thing about wandering the streets of Paris in search of various foodie quests nominated by the brilliant Clothilde Dusoulier is that one must be prepared to carry back armfuls of freshly baked bread and goat cheese with pressed fig and brilliant red globes of plum tomatoes still on the vine. And, if you stumble into Goumanyat, spices. After gazing with deep longing at the saffron honey and sniffing every spice and pepper packed into their sniff bar, we left with a bag full of treasures, including the most amazing curry ever.

Seriously. The most amazing. Go to Paris and see. (I know. Such terrible homework assignments.)

Post Paris, come home and make this.

Olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped (about 4 tbsp)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated or minced ginger
2 spoonfuls of good-quality curry powder
4 gypsy peppers, sliced lengthwise into strips (or sub 2 bell peppers)
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thickly sliced
4 tbsp coconut milk
Chicken or veggie broth
About .6 lbs opah (moonfish), tilapia, or salmon, cut into 1-2" cubes (you want them all about the same size so they cook in the same amount of time)
A few leaves of cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat a pan over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and sauté half the shallot, half the garlic, and all of the ginger until they soften slightly. Add a spoonful of curry powder, stir for about 10 seconds till it turns fragrant, then add the veggies and toss to coat. Sauté for a minute, adding a little more oil if necessary, then add 2 tbsp coconut milk, a slosh of broth, and a pinch of salt. Stir, bring to a simmer, and cover the pan. Turn the heat down slightly and let cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers soften their shape and the zucchini is tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat another pan over medium heat, add a generous glug of olive oil, and sauté the remaining shallot and garlic until they soften. Add a spoonful of curry powder, toast for about 10 seconds, then add the fish. Sprinkle with salt, stir, and saute until it's cooked on all sides. Add 2 tbsp coconut milk, a generous slosh or two of broth (you want enough to make some sauce to spoon over your rice), and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fish is just barely cooked through.

Serve the fish and veggies together (you can mix them in a pan or just layer them in bowls) with brown rice and a glass of Barbera.

Serves 2.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Braised Kale and Broccoli with Chorizo

Every now and then, people express surprise that I eat meat.

Like this: "You ate a STEAK? That's not plants."
Or: "Bacon?? So much for mostly plants, huh?"

To which I say, emphatically: Mostly plants. And when possible, mostly pork-flavored plants. For example, here is a dish that is mostly plants, in terms of content, and yet mostly chorizo in terms of flavor. What's not to love?

Olive oil
1 fresh pork chorizo sausage
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bunch dino kale, cut crosswise into thick ribbons, rinsed well, and dried
1 lb or so of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets, tender part of stems sliced
Sweet paprika (not smoked)
Aleppo pepper (or sub a little cayenne)
Kosher salt

Heat a wide, nonstick saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Slice the sausage from its casing and add to the pan, breaking apart into pieces with the spatula. Allow to brown on one side, then stir. Add the garlic, stir again, then add the kale and broccoli and toss to combine. Sprinkle with salt.

Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover the pan and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until browned here and there and the broccoli is tender. If it's browning too quickly, turn the heat down a bit and add a small splash of water before covering again; if it's not browning, turn the heat up a bit and wait longer between stirs. (Excess liquid? Leave the lid off for a few minutes.)

Serve hot, sprinkled with a little salt over the top.

Serves 2.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mushrooms with Sherry and Thyme

I realize that I claim bests a lot. And that this habit has led to deep philosophical conundrums in the past. But I can't help myself. These right here. These are the best mushrooms ever.

Make them. Eat them. Love them. We'll cross the conundrum bridge when we come to it.

1 tbsp pastured butter
Olive oil
About 10 oz. crimini mushrooms (whole if very small; halved or quartered if larger)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 medium to large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
A slosh (about 2 oz.) sherry
Fleur de sel or kosher salt

Heat a wide nonstick pan over medium-high heat (make sure it's wide enough to cook the mushrooms without crowding them, or they won't brown). When hot, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan, then toss in the mushrooms. Stir once or twice to coat lightly, then cook until the mushrooms turn golden on the bottoms. Toss or turn with a spatula, then continue cooking until golden again.

When the mushrooms are nicely browned, turn the heat down to medium or just below. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and freshly ground pepper, stir, and push to the side of the pan. On the other side, add a bit more olive oil, the shallot, and the garlic. Sauté for a minute or two until they soften slightly, then stir to combine with the mushrooms. Stir in the thyme and parsley, and cook for another minute or two.

Add the sherry, stir, and allow to cook off for about a minute. Serve hot, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and garnish with a sprig of parsley.

Serves 2-3.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maui, Day 7: Samphire Salad with Papaya and Sesame

Sea asparagus. Because that is totally a thing. Look it up.

2 handfuls (about 3 oz) sea asparagus (a.k.a. samphire), chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
1/4 ripe papaya, diced
Diced pineapple (about the same amount as the papaya)

Rinse the sea asparagus and then let soak in cold water for 1-2 hours to remove some of the saltiness. Drain, rinse, and dry in a salad spinner.

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until fragrant, then add the olive oil and swirl. Remove from the heat. (You could use sesame oil instead here for simplicity—we just didn't have any, and I like the look of the black sesame seeds anyway).

Toss the sea asparagus in the sesame seeds and enough of the oil to coat lightly. Add the avocado and fruit, toss well but gently, and then stick in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill before serving. (The acidity of the pineapple should keep the avocado from browning. If you're impatient, stick in the  freezer along with your bowls or plates for 5 minutes and then serve.)

Serves 2-4.

Hiking along the coast near Pa'iloa Beach
Star Fruit (the sort of thing you wonder how you've gone your whole life without)
Abiu (like a cross between a pear and a marshmallow. Kind of weird, but interesting.)
(...but mostly weird.)

Quinoa and braised kale with curry leaf, coconut, and lemongrass

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Maui, Day 6: Fried Red Bananas and a Rainbow of Beaches

What do you do when you're trapped in Hana and you've run out of fish and wild boar?


These are decadent. Serve over jungle rice with some diced avocado tossed with lime and cilantro as a counterpoint to the sweetness. Pairs incredibly well with either Maui Brewing Company's Coconut Porter (available, if you happen to be trapped in Hana too, at the Hasegawa General Store) or a sweeter Torrontés like the 2012 from Terraza de los Andes (available, if you happen to be passing it, at the Costco in Kahului).

1 tbsp butter
Olive oil
2 red bananas that aren't quite ripe (or sub yellow bananas when still slightly green)
1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass
1 tsp minced or finely julienned ginger
1 tbsp toasted grated coconut or crumbled coconut chips

Heat a wide pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and melt, then supplement with a drizzle of olive oil if needed to have a thin layer of fat along the bottom of the pan. Add the bananas in a single layer. Sprinkle with the lemongrass and ginger, then fry until golden brown.

Flip the bananas, sprinkle with the coconut, and fry until browned on both sides. Serve hot.

Serves 2-3.

Cuban red bananas from the local roadside fruit stand
Hike down to the red sand beach for a morning swim
Red and black lava cinders lining the trail
Sunset from the black sand beach at Wai'anapapa

Friday, August 22, 2014

Maui, Day 5: Wild Boar Meatballs over Farro

Apparently, wild boar wreak all kinds of havoc on indigenous plants in Hawaii—this from Keith Robinson, whose family owns Ni'ihau and a large portion of the land on Kaua'i and whose careful conservation work has saved numerous Hawaiian plants from extinction...and who we had the pleasure of meeting in the midst of our helicopter trip on Kaua'i.

Chatting with him was a clear highlight of the trip—his obvious love for his work and the plants and the soil, the view across the canyon, the sight of bees crowded around the first flower on a severely endangered Hawaiian fan palm that he miraculously cultivated in the unfriendly dirt of a dry red mountain near Waimea Canyon.

I will remember that canyon, and those bees, and that palm. And I will remember that wild boar wreak havoc on indigenous plants, which I have taken to mean that eating wild boar is environmentalism at its finest.

We happened upon some at Mana Foods, so we thought we had better exercise our inner conservationists right then and there.

Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, 2 smashed and 1 slivered
2 shallots, halved lengthwise and sliced, divided
1 cup farro, preferably unpearled
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus a little extra
(adjust if the package directions on the farro call for a different amount of liquid)
1/2 bunch green kale, sliced crosswise into thinnish ribbons
About .6 lbs ground wild boar (or sub ground beef), formed into meatballs
1/2 - 1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 big handfuls sweet basil, chopped
1 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a glug of olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves (reserving the slivered one) and half the shallot and sauté until they soften, then toss in the farro and stir to coat. Add the broth, cover, and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cook 23 minutes or according to package directions, until farro is tender. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a wide nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and then the rest of the shallot. Sauté for a minute until it just starts to soften, then add the kale and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale wilts, then cover the pan and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes more. Add a slosh of broth, replace the cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook another 6-7 minutes or so until the kale is tender. Decant into a bowl and set aside.

Return the pan to the stove and turn the heat up to medium-high. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, wait a moment to heat, and add the meatballs. Brown on all sides.

Push the meatballs to the side of the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low. In the other side, add a glug of olive oil, the garlic, and a third to half of the tomatoes. Sauté for a minute, then stir together with the meatballs. Cover the pan and let simmer until the meatballs are just barely cooked through. Toss in the tomatoes, basil, kale, and salt to taste. Cook for another minute to let everything warm up, then remove from the heat.

Drizzle the farro with a little olive oil and toss to lightly coat the grains, then serve into soup plates. Scatter with grated parmesan, then top with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle liberally with freshly ground black pepper, and serve.

Serves 2-3.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Maui, Day 4: Tropical Fruit Salad and a Red Sand Beach

The thing about staying at the end of the road to Hana for a week is that you're at the end of the road to Hana. Meaning there's not much in the way of stores or restaurants. Fortunately, if you stock up with provisions ahead of time at Costco and Mana Foods, and if you happen to be staying in a little bungalow in the middle of the jungle with a well-stocked kitchen, and if you adore collecting fruit from roadside fruit stands as you wend your way from place to place during the day, you can cook up just about anything.

Say, for example:


Heavenly, just-baked macademia nut banana bread from Hana Farms (just before Hana, and just after the little stand that purports to sell "Maui's best banana bread" but in fact sells, as far as we can tell, banana-less banana bread, which is basically the opposite).

Tropical fruit salad, inspired by breakfast a few days ago at Hale Ho'okipa Inn (which is where you should stay if you're ever in Maui and want a beautiful, restful retreat nestled in a lovely garden near both Haleakala and delicious food).

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1/2 papaya, diced
About the same amount of pineapple, diced
1 large star fruit, sliced crosswise*
1 apple banana, sliced
(or sub whatever you find at a roadside fruit stand for any of this)
1 ripe passion fruit**

Toss everything together, chill if desired, then serve. Dipping the banana bread in the extra juice is highly, highly recommended. Possibly even required.

*To prepare the star fruit, wash and dry, then stand up on one end and slice off just the very outer browned edges that make the five points of the star. Then just trim the ends, slice crosswise into stars, and de-seed when necessary.

**To pick a ripe passion fruit, look for the wrinkled and ugly ones...pretty and smooth on the outside means you'll be puckering when you try to eat it. To use, cut in half crosswise, and spoon out the seeds and pulp over the other fruit like a sauce.


Blue marlin and sea asparagus poke from Costco (that's right, the Maui Costco does poke, sashimi, you name it), seaweed salad (also from Costco), zucchini and kale salads from the (excellent) salad bar at Mana Foods in Paia, avocado from somewhere...possibly the tree outside.


Blue marlin with lemongrass, ginger, bok choy, coconut milk, and sea asparagus over jungle rice, topped with local papaya and Maui gold pineapple.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Maui, Day 3: Blue Marlin with Ginger and Coconut

Found at the Maui Costco: Fresh, local blue marlin.
Found at Mana Foods: Curry leaves, red mustard frisee, ginger, and cilantro.

The result: A new take on an old favorite. Serve this over jungle rice.

2 thick blue marlin fillets (or one that you cut in half later; we used one .7 lb fillet for two hungry people)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 curry leaves (optional)
Olive oil
1 1/4 tsp minced ginger
Small handful cilantro, chopped
1/3 can coconut milk
1 bunch red mustard frisee, coarsely chopped (or sub spinach or another green*)
1/2 large papaya, diced

Sprinkle the fish on both sides with salt and pepper, and press a couple curry leaves into each side. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. When hot, add a little olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the fish, shake the pan to prevent it from sticking, and then pan fry until golden on both sides.

Add the mustard frisee and sauté around the fish, stirring a few times, for about a minute until it begins to wilt. Stir in the coconut milk, the ginger, a pinch of salt, and the cilantro. Turn the heat down a bit to simmer gently until the fish is just barely cooked through (if you use one fillet for two people: it gives you an excuse to cut the fish in half at this point and check whether it's almost done). Turn off the heat about a minute before the fish is cooked to your liking, because it will keep cooking a little once served over the rice.

Serve over jungle rice—fish, then greens and sauce over the top, then scatter papaya over everything.

Serves 2.

*If it's a veggie that takes a little while to cook, like bok choy or asparagus, sauté separately until almost tender first and then add back in with the fish at the end.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maui, Day 2: Hali'imaile General Store and off to Hana

Lunch at Hali'imaile General Store: Mahi Mahi Coconut Curry

Fresh mango margarita and something amazing with ginger, lemongrass, and lime

Rave-worthy fish tacos

Coconut Banana Bread Pudding a la mode

Provisions from Mana Foods and assorted roadside fruit stands

Rainbow over Hana Bay