Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dinner a couple nights ago was SO humble, yet SO good!

As is often the case, I did not feel like cooking. Instead, I sliced some beautiful beefsteak tomatoes and made egg salad with mayo, relish, minced onion and sea salt. I mixed a tiny amount of balsamic vinegar with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. I sliced some Ba-Le kalamata olive bread - yum! - and toasted it.

We ate the above by putting some olive oil on a piece of toast, adding a thick slice of tomato and a sprinkle of sea salt. Open mouth. Eat. Savor!

Top another toast with egg salad. Eat and repeat.

The DH supplemented the meal with some leftover ahi poke, but toast and toppings were more than enough for me!

Update: I was talking to a colleague about this dinner, and she said SHE would love to eat it! The talk moved on to soup, and I told her about my spiced Garnet yam soup with coconut milk, and her eyes lit up! I've made this twice already, and the DH has happily eaten it with gusto, but I discovered that I haven't written it down. I will SOON!

Monday, May 16, 2011

OMB! A bevy of food trucks!

What a Monday! Late morning, I looked out the library window and saw FOUR - count 'em - FOUR! food trucks parked on the street outside the library. First in line was the truck that's usually there. I've looked at their menu, but so far, nothing has appealed to me - it looks like the usual Hawaii plate lunch offerings.

Next in line was XTREME Tacos, and right behind them was Fairycakes. I told Melissa, "Come, look!" Imagine, if you can, two librarians peering out the multi-paned windows at the array of lunch wagons! Right away, she said she was headed out, and I asked her to tell me if the taco truck had a special. She came back to report that she'd bought a chocolate Whoopie pie!

I went out soon after her, and ordered an XTREME Tacos Baja fish taco. While waiting for that, I went to the Fairycakes truck. It was my intention to buy ONE thing, but I ended up with THREE! Later this night, we split both the lilikoi (passion fruit) cupcake and the red velvet Whoopie pie. Both were light and tasty, and I'd eat them again. We're saving the massive brownie for another night (or two!)

I ate the taco for lunch, and it would not satisfy a hungry man. OK, I'd brought some Lightning Salad to eat with my leftovers, so that with the taco was enough. It was about 3-1/2 inches of battered fried fish in two flour tacos with chopped tomato and onion. The X sauce was watery and NOT X. The XX sauce was tickly hot and tasty -good!

I will try something else next time - I hope they come back! Now I know to go straight to XX and even try XT!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hamakua Alii mushrooms turn zucchini into a star!

I don't even remember the leftovers we ate, because this vegetable side dish was the star of the dinner table. The zucchini was looking a little sad, so I cooked it as follows:

2 tablespoons butter
2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into halves or quarters, then into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 large onion, diced
2-3 ounces Hamakua Alii mushrooms, caps sliced and stems chopped into thin slices
One small tomato, chopped
Shoyu, to taste - one to 2 tablespoons
Garlic salt

Saute the zucchini in butter on medium high heat for 2 minutes, then add the onion. Cook until both are slightly browned and softened. Add shoyu, mushrooms, tomato and garlic salt and cook another 2 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

The mushrooms are especially luscious!

Why the butter and shoyu (soy sauce)? I remember reading a Nadine Kam restaurant review about some vegetable prepared with those ingredients being one of the best things she ate. And filed it somewhere in my brain where those things sometimes pop up when it comes time to prepare dinner.

Tonight, as we were eating teriyaki beef (a rare occasion, the price was right!), 12-grain rice and Lightning Salad, I thought of what I could make with the other half of the cauliflower. Any ideas?

Sesame oil or balsamic vinegar came to mind...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Love Affair Continues, or Tomato Soup Redux

When we were growing up, tomato soup from a can was not a part of our diet. There was condensed chicken noodle, alphabet vegetable and sometimes - gasp! - Manhattan clam chowder. (The red one.) Of course, there was always cream of mushroom - and I DID wonder how they got cream from mushrooms, until I learned better! - and cream of chicken for cooking. All of these in those familiar red and white cans.

But the fact is, I have NEVER tasted tomato soup from a can! The only memorable tomato soup in my recent experience was from Nico's Pier 38, a diner right by the fish auction house. Nico is French, and I actually dream of his plate lunches with fresh, fresh fish and beautiful greens. The tomato bisque was full of real tomato flavor, and the only caveat is it was also full of rice, albeit blended as the thickener, instead of cream. Lovely taste, though. Today's soup is ginger saffron chicken, which is probably delicious. I also recall a seafood chowder, unfortunately less memorable.

What do you do when your tomatoes are beginning to look a bit tired, and feel a little soft? Back about 6 weeks ago, I made a tomato soup that we ate greedily, that was even better than the entree. I'd found other tomato soup recipes, which sounded yummy, but I was in too much of a hurry to look for them. So I made this tomato soup by instinct, and by vaguely recalling those other recipes.

Even MORE delicious Tomato Soup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, in chunks
  • 1/2 large carrot, in chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 large tomatoes - about 4 cups, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth plus 1/2 cup (see below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1-inch cube fresh ginger
  • 1/2 package powdered coconut milk, dissolved in 1/2 cup chicken broth
Process the onion, carrot and garlic in food processor until fine. If you don't have a food processor, you can dice the vegetables, and mince the garlic by hand. Saute these in the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and ginger, stir and heat through. Add the broth with coconut milk until heated. Carefully blend with immersion blender. Add salt, adjust spices and thin if necessary. Enjoy with lots of cilantro.

It may be that all you'll need is some crusty bread and butter to complete the meal. And a glass of wine!

A former coworker has been to culinary school,  and has worked as a cook. I asked him whether he made soup. Rather dismissively, he told me that good soup is based on good stock. Like a friend's husband who also went to cooking school, they believe in cooking the heck out of a chicken, beef bones or vegetables for hours for stock. But home cooks like us can't afford to throw away the now-tasteless chicken and vegetables. I believe you don't need to do this, and have made delicious soups from water, wine, fresh vegetables, even leftovers. If your ingredients are fresh and wonderful, your soup will be!

Soup Of The Evening
Lewis Carroll, from Alice in Wonderland
Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Soo - oop of the e - e - evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two p
ennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Beau - ootiful Soo - oop!
Soo - oop of the e - e - evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

I LOVE soup! Tell me what soup you love or make?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sunday dinner when you've had a one-day weekend

About those one-day weekends? There are 2 to 3 of them per month for me, in this new job situation. So, I find myself playing catch-up with household chores, and having less time to prepare healthy vegetables for salads and entrees.

Still, when the cooking is done, we start to eat, and the DH says: "This is good!" I mumble, "What is?" He replies: "ALL of it." That sure makes things right! Here is what we ate that inspired it:

Tasty Black Beans
  • One small or 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes with juices
  • One tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • One can black beans, drained
Saute the onion in olive or canola oil, until soft. Add the tomatoes, spices and garlic salt and stir until fragrant. Stir in beans and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Pork Fajitas

  • One pound lean pork
  • One small or ½ large onion, sliced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • One teaspoon oregano
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Hot sauce or cayenne pepper
Slice pork into thin strips and marinate in the garlic, spices, salt, orange juice and hot sauce or cayenne for at least 15 minutes. Heat oil and sauté pork strips (but not marinade) until almost cooked. Add onions and cook until softened, then add marinade and heat through. If you have bell peppers, add them at this point and cook until soft.

Serve with flour tortillas and any or all of these: salsa, shredded cheese or sour cream.

Instead of bell peppers, I prepared beet tops by having the DH wash them well, cut the stems into one-inch pieces and the leaves into 2x4-inch pieces. I zapped the stems in the microwave, half-covered, for 3 minutes, stirring once, then I added the leaves for another minute. Poured off most of the water, splashed with a little extra virgin olive oil and some garlic salt.

I also served a prepared salsa mixed with half a chopped orange. And served it with long-grain white rice. And it was all yum!

There were enough leftovers for lunch for both of us the next day, and the remaining pork may become a soup with long squash in the next days. 

~Soos dreams of soup~