Update to Homemade Ricotta – In July and September I posted Blogs about making your own Ricotta Cheese. The first batch that was made used Lemon Juice to curdle it. The second batch I tried using Rennet Tables but that did not work so well, so here I am back using the Lemon Juice which works great! This batch of Ricotta like the first batch made was very delicious and on a par (if not better) than the expensive brand I usually buy. When I buy Ricotta I buy a whole milk product which has much more flavor and body than the lower fat one. I usually pay between $5 & $6 for it. The batch I made at home this time, cost:
Milk – $2.99
Cream – 75 cents
Lemon Juice – free (the lemons were given to me – if you have to purchase the lemons you will need 1-2 lemons depending on the size – also the price will vary from store to store and from State to State.
Cheese Cloth – about $2.00 worth (but I was able to wash it and will be able to reuse it again)
So, my fresh batch of Ricotta which tasted delicious and was made right in my own kitchen cost me about $4.00 to make, not counting the gas and the hot water for washing the pot. Maybe it was as much as I pay for the finished product but it was well worth it as it is delicious. For the directions for making the Ricotta, please visit Adventures in Cheese Making
Now, what did I do with this batch of Ricotta. I made Cannelloni for dinner tonight and was able to freeze half of them for another meal. If you have four or more eating dinner, the whole recipe will be sufficient for 4- 6 people, depending on appetites. If teenage boys are involved, then you will have dinner only for four. If like us, there are only 2 people at the meal, then you will have at least 2 meals out of it and maybe more.
While the Ricotta was draining I made the Crepe Batter for the Cannelloni Shells and then refrigerated it. Crepe batter needs to rest for at least one hour after being made. For the recipe see Crepe Batter
While the Crepe Batter was resting, I started the Meat Sauce that was to go over the top of the filled shells. Next, I shredded the Mozzarella Cheese that was to go over the Meat Sauce. If you need a recipe for the Meat Sauce you can just use my Fresh Tomato Sauce but start out by sauteing a pound of ground beef, chicken or veal before you add the other ingredients. Or you can use only Tomato Sauce.
After the Crepes are made and the Sauce is simmering, prepare your Ricotta Cheese by adding an Egg, some freshly shredded Parmesan, Basil and about 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper or whatever your taste buds decree. The Basil that I added was actually a combo of minced Basil and Garlic in Olive Oil.
Set the Crepe Shells out on a flat surface and place 2-3 Tablespoons of the Ricotta filling on each Crepe (depending on the size of the Crepe). Fold in the sides and then the top and bottom.
Place each filled and rolled Crepe in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled with Olive Oil. Place them close together. When all the shells are filled, wrapped and placed in the baking dish top with the Sauce and some shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot and the Mozzarella Cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with a mixed Green Salad and fresh Italian Bread, if so desired.
This dish will serve from 4-6 people, depending on appetites. We had enough leftover for a second meal and half the Manicotti went in the freezer for a third meal. Of course, we are only two people and so we are lucky enough to have more than one meal out of this dish.
There are numerous Farmer’s Markets in Ventura County – on Saturday alone there are four different markets all within driving distance of each other. Starting in Ventura, you have a medium size Market on the corner of Santa Clara and Palm Streets. (See my previous post in January of this year)
Another local Saturday Market in Ventura County is the one in ‘Old Town Camarillo’. This one is different from the other markets available in that it is sponsored by the Camarillo Hospice and a portion of all sales goes to this cause. The Camarillo Market is a Certified Market and is probably the largest one in the County, maybe only equal in size to the Thousand Oaks Market.
At the Camarillo Market you will find produce vendors, flower vendors and food product vendors. There is also a booth for Kettle Corn, Tamales, and Coffee. You can buy Olive Oil, Hummus and Flat Breads, and best of all, ‘Old Boney Mountain’ Hot Sauces and Grotto Dust. The Old Boney Products are produced by Jeff Losey who own the company and has named it for ‘Old Boney Mountain’ which can be found in the National Recreation Area in Newbury Park and which also can be seen from his property.
My favorite produce vendor is Underwood farms which also goes to the Thousand Oaks Market. If you miss a market day and need fresh produce, you can also go straight to the Underwood Farms in Somis and/or Moorpark, both of which are in Ventura County.
Shown below are some unusual varieties of well-known Vegetables. The Romanesco is a form of Broccoli but is certainly much more fun. Since it almost looks like a Castle, I have used in Children’s Cooing Classes when there was a ‘Kingdom’ Theme involved. Next is my favorite type of Cauliflower – Purple and Yellow or Golden. It is probably just my imagination but I do think the colored Cauliflower, especially the yellow one has more flavor than the white. This may be true because there certainly has to be more Carotene in the yellow variety and carotene does provide flavor.
Next is the Purple and Green Cabbage which is not unusual in itself, but these are so fresh and so beautiful that you cannot help purchasing them and running home to use them.
Another produce vendor that you will want to stop at is the Tomato Booth from Beylik Farms. They have Orange Tomatoes, Red Plum Tomatoes and Japanese Tomatoes. The winter variety are grown in Green Houses, but they taste as good as if they were grown outdoors.
In addition to Underwood and Beylik Farms there are numerous other Produce Vendors. There are also booths selling artisan Greens such as Kale and other Greens. One of the offerings that I love is the booth that sells Sprouts of different varieties. I especially like the Sunflower Sprouts which are great on sandwiches and in salads. Then we have the fruit vendors, selling Apples, Oranges and other Citrus fruit in addition to Strawberries (fresh picked the same day as being sold from local fields.
One of my favorite vendors is ‘Old Boney Mountain Hot Sauce Products’. Jeff Losey, who is the owner and CEO of the Company donates his profits to organizations such as the Camarillo Hospice, Wounded Warrior and Newbury Park High School Football Team. Old Boney Products are named after ‘Old Boney Mountain’ in the National Recreation Area in the Santa Monica Mountains located in Newbury Park. Jeff and his family can view Old Boney Mountain from their home where the Peppers are also grown.
There are also at least two flower vendors – one sells live plants (this particular vendor goes both to the Camarillo Market and the Thousand Oaks Market. Every Fall right before Thanksgiving, I buy my Pansy Plants from them. The price is right and the plants are beautiful. (Living in Southern California with hot summers, the Pansies do not survive beyond late Spring, so I have to replant them every year. In addition to the Pansies, they also sell Orchid Plants and other shade plants. *** There are other vendors selling cut flowers to take home to enjoy.
Last, but not least, are the prepared food vendors. One sells freshly baked Artisan Bread Products. Normally I will make my own Challah and other Egg Breads but this past Saturday I had not had the time to do so and wanted to make French for Breakfast on Sunday so I purchase a Brioche from this vendor. It was very expensive ($10.00) and cost about 5 times what it would cost me to make it (not counting my time) but it was well worth it. It was delicious and made not only great French Toast but excellent sandwiches as well.
Another Vendor sells Tamales, another sells different varieties of Hummus and Flat Breads and of course Kettle Korn. If these aren’t enough, there are also booths selling handmade crafts, such as jewelry, shell items, wood items, etc.
Take a trip out here next Saturday (or whenever you happen to be in town) and enjoy the wares at the Old Town Camarillo Farmer’s Market.
Unlike most of the rest of the country, Sunny Southern California offers its Farmer’s Markets all year long.
One such market is the Ventura Farmer’s Market which takes place on Saturday mornings. I made a trip out there from Thousand Oaks (about 30 miles) because I needed to purchase Eggs from my favorite Egg supplier (Canyon Meadow Farms). I usually purchase the eggs from them at the Thousand Oaks Farmers Market but from the week before Thanksgiving until the week after New Years, the Thousand Oaks Farmer’s Market gets displaced because of the Holiday Season. ( The space they use is needed for parking at the Mall).
One of the Vendors at the Ventura Market included sold California Produced Olive Oils which were made from olives grown in Northern California. Their stock included sizes from pints to gallons and gift packs including cooking oils and bath and body soaps and oils. I purchased a Gift Pack of a variety of oils which ranged from mild tasting to a very strong olive taste. I am a lover of Olives and Olive Oil and I think the stronger the taste the better. I think the recipient of this gift will feel the same way. Pictured below are some of the Oils that were being sold.
When you have Olive Oil, you start thinking about Salads and the fresh lettuces and other produce that were available were irrestible. They were bright green and purple and many other colors. The lettuce was perfect for Salads and I could not resist buying several bunches. I also purchased Chinese Spinach from Underwoods Family Farm Booth. Underwoods have two locations, one in Somis on the 118 and the other in Moorpark right off of Tierra Rejada. When Ik want fresh produce, I do not have to wait for the Farmers’ Markets, however it certainly is a little bit easier for me to purchase my produce at the Oaks Farmer’s Market when it is open. Unfortunately, it is not open during the Christmas Holiday Season.
Some additional Vegetables that were being sold were Leeks, Onions, Garlic and a variety of fresh Herbs which I love to cook with!
For years now Strawberries have been grown year-round in Southern California. The varieties differ from season to season, but the taste of our locally grown berries is delicious and sweet no matter what time of year they are grown in. Even though I had recently purchased several boxes of Blackberries at our local market I still couldn’t resist the Strawberries that were on display. I only bought one box however, just for eating out of hand.
All in All, it is worth a trip to your local Farm or Farmer’s Market to get fresh, delicious produce, especially if it is grown without chemical additives and pesticides! Most of the Vendors at the local Southern California Markets have become Certified Organic Farmers which means that they do not use chemicals!
SO, LOOK, SHOP, COOK & EAT!
THAI BEEF SALAD
Unusual thought it may be for me to have eaten at three different Thai restaurants within a four day span, I did. Each time was with a different person and coincidentally we ended up ordering Thai Beef Salad each time. This was not a problem for me because Yum Nua is one of my favorite Thai dishes. Having said all this, each salad was both similar to and different from the other ones.
The first Yum Nua that I had was in the Conejo Valley at my favorite local Thai Restaurant. That being said, there really is no other local Thai Restaurant as this company has at least four locations in the Conjeo as well as one in Camarillo and one in Woodland Hills.
The salad is made with Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onion and Beef Tenderloin with a dressing that definitely has Fish Sauce in it although in their version the Fish Sauce taste is not prominent. Oh, by the way it is also listed as Spicy – I get mine medium and it is quite tolerable (and this is for someone who cannot take it really hot!) I always order it with a side of steamed Jasmine Rice just in case the heat is more than I can stand. This particular evening I had dinner with two former students of mine so we also ordered Tom Yum Soup and Yellow Curry Chicken. Everything this evening was quite good and tasty!
The second Yum Nua I had was actually the next day when I went to visit my family in Lompoc. My daughter-in-law and I were out shopping and decided to stop for lunch. There are actually at least four Thai Restaurants in Lompoc but the one that we went to was the one that Nereida thought was the best one. In comparing the dishes and the prices to the one in the Conjeo, I would say that the portions were actually larger for the same price and the Beef Salad was more Beef than Salad which I suppose would be good for most people. We ordered the Salad medium which was the same that we had ordered the night before. When it came to the table and we both tasted it, we actually had to send it back because it was intolerably spicy – I think even in Thailand it would have been too spicy for most people. When something burns the lining of your stomach after one bite, you know that it is way too hot. I think they just went overboard with the Chilies!
All that being said, we also ordered Pad See Ewe which was flat noodles with Chicken and Fried Tofu. I am sorry to say that I definitely did not like this dish either – there really wasn’t much flavor and the noodles were sort of on the mushy side. For an appetizer we ordered the Pork Satay. The Pork was cut way too thick, and it was actually tough. The only good thing about this dish was the Peanut Sauce and the marinated Cucumber Salad that came with it.
Again, the food at this Restaurant was about the same price as in the Conjeo but the portions were larger. However, I would rather have the smaller portions with better flavor and palatability!
The third Yum Nua which I had was two days later in Moorpark at a Restaurant that I and my friend who I had lunch with had never frequented before, even though it was only one mile from her home. We ordered the Yum Nua, this time mild after my experience in Lompoc and along with that, Mee Krob which is a crispy noodle salad with Chicken and Shrimp. And of course, steamed Rice. The Salad was mild and we could have tolerated some more heat with it. The dressing was just a little on the fishy side (but as we ate it, that kind of disappeared). The beef with this salad was the most tender of all three and was cut into more palatable pieces. So the Moorpark Restaurant was the winner of the Yum Nua Salad and yes, I would go there and order it again!
Now, the Moorpark Salad was good and the Conjeo Valley Salad was good, but the truly best Yum Nua that I have ever had was that one which I and my sons and daughter-in-law ordered and ate in Thailand! And this was in a restaurant! Now, you may wonder why I marvel at a Restaurant’s Yum Nua being so good! In Thailand, some of the best food is that which is prepared on the street! It is tasty and authentic and perfectly safe to eat as the vendors are very particular about cleanliness. One instance of comparing Street Food with Hotel Food as an example – we had a very good Tom Yum Soup from a floating boat vendor at the Floating Market – this cost us $1.50 per person. On one evening my daughter-in-law was hungry and we were at the hotel so we went down to the hotel restaurant. She ordered the Soup which at the hotel cost $10.00 and wasn’t nearly as good! So, when in Thailand, do try the food from the street vendors or at the very least, the small restaurants!
The second best Thai Beef Salad that I have ever had was at the Maui Thai Restaurant in Kihei.
So the final rating goes like this:
#1 – Pizzalun, Thailand
#2 – Maui Thai Restaurant in Kihei, HI
#3 – Thai Restaurant in Moorpark, CA
#4 – Thai Restaurant in the Conejo Valley, CA
#5 – Thai Restaurant in Lompoc, CA
Sorry, no photos for Moorpark or Lompoc. Next time I frequent the Moorpark Restaurant, will take photo, but sorry, not at the Lompoc Restaurant – at least not the one we went to on Saturday.
The Monday after our Mountain Trip we hit another spot on my son’s Food List. This was Hooter’s which recently opened up a Restaurant in our locale. Again, Monti had made sure to be on their mailing list and had Birthday Coupons for Kratae and himself. We indulged in 3 different kinds of Chicken Wings with Bleu Cheese and Ranch Dip. Kratae had a Shrimp Sandwich which she said was delicious and it certainly looked like it was.
On the way home Monday Night, we stopped at the local deli and picked up some Pastrami, Corned Beef, Pickles and Rye Bread. Once we got home, I made my special Potato Salad and Cole Slaw which Quinn had requested.
The next day was David’s Birthday and for it, I made Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Sausage (which Monti had requested) along with a big Salad. For dessert we had Brownies and more Peanut Butter Fudge.
On Wednesday, Monti, Kratae and Quinn took the Bus to the Valley and transferred to another bus (Kratae wanted to see what a bus ride was like here) and then transferred to the Subway which they took to Hollywood. After making some purchases in Hollywood, they then re-boarded the Subway to Union Station. From there they walked to Phillipe’s (a very old famous restaurant in downtown L.A.) and had Lamb Dip Sandwiches and Cole Slaw fbid=10151471226746122&set=a.10150683053886122.425502.294891686121&type=1
Next they took the bus to the Santa Monica Pier where David picked them up and took them to My Father’s Office, a well-known restaurant in West L.A. where they had Hamburgers. Again, they weren’t quite what they remembered. http://www.yelp.com/biz/fathers-office-santa-monica
Thursday night the crew went to In & Out where they had Animal Fries and Ev and I went out for Chinese Food.
On Saturday, the 22nd we had a Family Birthday Party (3 Birthdays in March) for which I spent almost two whole days cooking for. We had Roast Turkey Breast, Tri Tip with my special marinade along with Vegan (for Joel) Pasta Salad, homemade Baked Beans and White Bean Bruschetta. I also made Ciabatta and Croissants. For dessert it was a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie and a Vanilla and Chocolate Genoise Cake with a Mocha Buttercream frosting. Beverages were water, sodas and bubbly. This event was attended by all the Riemans (except Joel who wasn’t feeling well) and lasted for about 10 hours. Fortunately, I had engaged one of my TA’s who help with my cooking classes to help with this event.
The next day was the last day that my out of the country family were going to be here. They wanted to make one last trip to Jack in the Box (Kratae loves Breakfast Jacks) so we did that. They also purchased Bacon Insider Burgers and Potato Wedges. Somehow, we also managed to fit in the leftover Turkey and Tri Tip from the party the day before.
My Stepdaughter was scheduled to come over our house for a belated Birthday Dinner Tuesday Night, but Monday afternoon at about 3:45 Tina called and said she had forgotten that she had concert tickets for Tuesday Night and that she was working all the rest of the week. (She works 12 hours day in the Emergency Room of our local hospital) Could she come over tonight instead? She had requested Lasagna for dinner along with Chocolate Cake for dessert. My plan was to spend most of Tuesday baking and cooking and I was going to make home-made pasta for the Lasagna.
Well, plans got shifted dramatically. Fortunately, I had done the shopping for dinner on Monday except for the Lasagna Noodles which my husband went out to buy. At 4 in the afternoon I started cooking Lasagna (usually an all-day project) for dinner at 6:30. Here is how it went.
This was going to be Mushroom Lasagna and I had purchased 4 different kinds of Mushrooms for it. We had:
Crimini (Baby Portobello
I put on a big pot of Water so that it would be ready when my husband returned. I then diced an Onion and started sautéing in Olive Oil in my Dutch Oven.
While the Onion was sautéing, I cleaned and sliced the Mushrooms. The Brown Crimini were first. While they were sautéing, I then cleaned and sliced the Lobster Mushrooms. The Lobster Mushrooms are named, not because they taste like but Lobster, but look like Lobster Meat. These Mushrooms are somewhat denser and tougher than the Brown ones and need to cook for a bit longer.
Next came the White Mushrooms and then the Oyster. Again, the Oyster are named for their appearance. They have the shape of an Oyster and when growing are clustered together almost like Oysters do in the Oyster bed. I did salt the Mushrooms while they were sautéing. Salt not only adds flavor but tends to pull out the excess moisture from the Vegetables.
Next I crushed some Garlic and added it to the Mushrooms. To this I added some Marsala Wine and cooked it on high heat to reduce it down to just its flavor. To all this, I added 2 cans of Crushed Tomatoes. You want to use a good quality of crushed Tomatoes (or use fresh and crush your own). Lesser quality Tomatoes will be watery and you want to avoid this. I turned the heat down to simmer and let it cook while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. The time now was about 4:45. At the end of the cooking period I added some fresh minced Basil. Fresh Herbs should always be added at the end so that they do not lose their flavor.
Usually I will make a Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce) as a vessel for the Ricotta Cheese but today I did not have time, so I just added two Eggs to 1 lb. of Cheese and thoroughly mixed them in.
Then I shredded the Parmesan Reggiano and cut up the Mozzarella. Usually I will chop the Mozzarella in the Food Processor but the Cheese I had purchased this time was sliced, but sliced too thickly so I had to cut it up into small pieces.
The Water had come to a boil and my Husband had returned with the Pasta. I put a good portion of Salt into the Water (this was a big pot) and added the Pasta. Salt not only adds flavor to the pasta but also helps to increase the temperature of the water and therefore shorten the cooking time. This particular Pasta took about 10 minutes to cook. I recommend using Italian Pasta for all your Pasta dishes, unless you prefer to make your own which in that case is the ‘best’.
While the Pasta was cooking I washed the package of Asparagus that I had purchased and cut off the bottoms to save for Cream of Asparagus Soup. I then placed them in a oven-proof baking dish and sprinkled with Sea Salt and Olive Oil. Over this I added a package of Beech Mushrooms, diced Tomatoes and African Blue Basil Leaves. You can use any kind of Basil. The African Blue has small leaves and does not need to be snipped or crushed to use. I covered this with Aluminum Foil and set it aside to put in the oven when the Lasagna was half-done.
Next I drained the Pasta into my largest Colander and rinsed it just enough to keep the pieces from sticking together. Next oiled my Pasta Baking Dish and started assembling the Lasagna. First came a lengthwise layer of Pasta which was then topped with the Ricotta Cheese Mixture. Next came a layer of Sauce topped with Shredded Parmesan and Mozzarella.
On the next layer the Pasta was laid cross-wise (this makes it easier to cut the Lasagna when serving) with a layer of Ricotta, Sauce, and Parmesan. The next layer repeated the first except that no sauce was added. Layers one & two were repeated with Mozzarella being on top. I could have gone another layer but there were only four of us for dinner and I didn’t want to have too much left over.
I then set the Lasagna aside to prepare the Salad. The time now was 5:15.For the Salad I had a mixture of different types of Organic Baby Salad Greens. Added to this were diced Home-Grown Tomatoes & Cucumbers. The dressing was a Balsamic Vinaigrette which was added just before serving.
Since this was a Spur of the Moment Dinner, Appetizers were re-heated Vegetable Tempura from the night before (Mushrooms, Carrots and Home-Grown Asian Egg Plant.
The Bread that was served was an Olive Bread that I made from leftover Pizza Dough. Purchased Olive Salad was spread on the Pizza Dough that had been rolled out to a thin rectangle and then rolled up Jelly Roll fashion. It was baked at 400 degrees until the bread was well-browned. About 30-40 minutes.
Dessert could not be the Chocolate Cake that was planned for today, but we did have Chocolate Brownies that I had made the day before and since this was the cake version of Brownies, they worked perfectly for dessert.
Out Beverage was home-brewed Iced Tea. All in all, in spite of the short time notice, dinner turned out very good and everyone loved the Lasagna, especially my Step-Daughter for whom the meal was made. I figured this could be a rehearsal for a Cooking Competition Show in which the contestants have a limited amount of time to prepare their dishes. Watch out guys! I may give you some competition!
Yesterday I and two friends had the pleasure of attending a Sicilian Cooking Class at the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA. The class was held in connection with a special exhibition ‘Art and Invention between Greece and Rome’ which is currently on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Malibu. The Exhibition will remain on display through August 19, 2013. The class was taught by Maite Gomez-Rejon who has not only Art Degrees but also a Diploma from the French Cooking School in New York City. Maite combines Art History with the food from the specific eras.
The day started with a talk about Sicilian Food and some of its origins and the ancient works from which the information was culled. After the talk there was a tour and discussion of the exhibit and then a walk through the Herb Garden where we picked herbs for the meal we were to prepare.
The menu for the Day consisted of Sicilian Salad, Olive and Date Tapenade, Eggplant with Anchovies and Capers, Poached Shrimp with Olive Oil and Lemon and Pasta with Sardines and Fennel. Dessert was Cannoli with Almonds and Honey.
According to the information gleaned from the ancient books food must be fresh, locally grown and be prepared simply, so as not to cover up the natural tastes.
The Salad was quite delightful. It consisted of Greens, Pomegranate Seeds, Blood Oranges and a Dressing made from Blackberries, Balsamic and Red Wine Vinegars and Olive Oil.
The Tapenade was unusual in that it contained Dates which made a nice contrast to the Olives.
The Anchovies gave a nice bite to the Eggplant which was prepared with Parsley, Garlic and Olive Oil.
The Poached Shrimp was a very simple, yet delicious dish.
I and my friends had the pleasure of making the actual pasta dough, rolling it and cutting it. As we made it someone else picked it up and cooked it. (Fresh Pasta only needs a minute or two of cooking). Another group made the sauce that the pasta was added to.
Dessert again was the Cannoli which was made with Ricotta Cheese, Mascarpone, Honey, Almonds and Cinnamon. Even though the attendees were give the recipe for the shells, we did not make them. We used ready-made shells which can be purchased at Italian Delis. If you have ever made Cannoli Shells you will know what a pain in the neck they are to make, although it is kind of fun. To make Cannoli Shells, you need to have the forms which are metal tubes that the dough is wrapped around and then fried. The purchased ones taste almost as good and certainly do save lots of time and frustration.
All in all the day was fun and educational and the people that attended were very nice and easy to work with. I would definitely recommend any future cooking classes that are held at the Getty to anyone who may be interested. These classes are held on a quarterly basis in connection with a current exhibit.
Summer is finally here and the weather is getting warmer and warmer and our food needs to be cooler and cooler. During the hot days of summer appetites tend to wane. What better way to eat healthy and delicious food than to create summer salads. Produce is at its best and seafood goes well with many types of produce, so let’s make Seafood Salads for dinner, lunch or whatever! Tonight’s Salad was a King Crab Salad. Even though I used King Crab Legs, Dungeness Crab or Snow Crab can be substituted. Shrimp can even take the place of Crab or if you are lucky enough to live in Maine, try Lobster right out of the ocean!
My salad tonight consisted of Baby Golden Beets from the Farmer’s Market along with Persian Cucumbers, Red Bell Pepper and fresh Tomatoes from the Garden.
The Crab was cooked when I purchased it so all I had to do was remove it from the shell. King Crab has thick, spiny shells and does take a little effort to be removed. The best way to do this is to use your kitchen shears and cut right down the length of the leg. If you have the Claws, this will take a Crab Cracker or a Nut Cracker to get the meat out. Once you have the meat out of the crab, you may want to rinse if off with cold water and then blot is dry with paper towels or clean dish towels. Check through the meat to make sure there are no pieces of shell or cartilage in it. Put the Crab aside, (In the refrigerator is best) while you prepare the Vegetables for your Salad.
Scrub the Beets with a Potato Brush to remove clinging soil and then place in a saucepan; cover them with Cold Water and add a teaspoon or so of Salt. Place the lid on the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, shut off the heat and let the beets stand in the hot water, with the lid covering the pan. While you are preparing the rest of the Salad, the Beets will continue to cook – they don’t have to be cooked all the way – a little texture adds to the taste appeal. Save the cooking liquid to use in soup or as the liquid for cooking other foods. You will notice that there is a lot of color in the water and this color contains some of the Water Soluble Vitamins that leached out during the cooking process.
I julienned the Beets with the 6 x 6 blade or French Fry Blade in my Food Processor. You can also do this by hand or with a large holed grater.
Wash, dry and slice any other Vegetables that you intend to use in the Salad. I used Persian Cucumbers. The skin on Persian Cucumbers is mild so that they do not have to peeled. However, they do have to washed and dried. Cut off the tops and discard and then slice them whichever way you prefer. I sliced them down the middle and then half into 1/4″ slices. (Since Persian Cucumbers are small, I usually allow one per person however, one half per person would do too.
I also used diced Red Bell Pepper and a little bit of Cilantro.
Included with the Vegetables was a tiny Pasta I bought for soups. This helped to add body to the salad and of course extended it somewhat. After the Pasta was cooked and rinsed to remove the excess starch, I dried it in a clean dish towel before adding it to the salad. One cup of dried Pasta was more than enough for the two of us.
Once all your Vegetables are prepped combine them with the Crab and then toss with the Dressing. If you are using Pasta add it at this time also. The dressing was Thousand Island mixed with a little aged Balsamic Vinegar.
Freshly quartered Tomatoes that were just picked from the garden that morning were added as a garnish. (Note: tomatoes are sweeter if picked in the morning than later in the day – at night the starch is converted to sugar and during the day through photosynthesis the sugar is converted back to starch, therefore giving you a sweeter product if picked I the morning.)
This Spring on our ‘almost yearly’ trip to Hawaii we rented a Condo so that we would have a kitchen so that we could cook the fresh produce and seafood that we were able to purchase at the Farmer’s Markets and Seafood Stores. The following is about the food we purchase, cooked and ate.
Let’s start with Breakfast. On several mornings we arose very early to go Birding which is one of our favorite things to do on Vacation. On these days, we just brought along some pastries and drinks but on the days that we slept a little bit later and ate breakfast in the condo, I did cook for at least a couple of them.
For one of the mornings, we had a Cinnamon Pull-Apart loaf from Foodland which to our liking did not have enough Cinnamon so I turned it into French Toast. Cinnamon Bread, Egg Bread, Hawaiian Sweet Bread or Brioche make a delicious French Toast product. -french-toast/To make the French Toast, I first sliced the Cinnamon Bread into thick slices and then let it air dry overnight.
At Breakfast time, I made a Batter with Eggs, Cream, a little Sugar, Cinnamon and Vanilla. I then soaked the sliced Bread in the Egg Mixture and then fried it in Butter and just a little bit of Oil. The Oil helps to keep the Butter form burning. (Oil has a higher smoking point than Butter).
The soaked Bread Slices were cooked in the hot Butter/Oil combo to develop a nice brown crust on the outside. We ate it with Coconut Syrup for Ev and just Sugar for myself. This was a very good breakfast and we even had a slice leftover for a snack later in the day.
The second Breakfast that I made was Coconut Pancakes with Grilled Baby Pineapple. Unfortunately most of the Pineapple is now grown in the Philippines, but the Baby Pineapple that I purchased was grown on Kauai. (This was a Certified Farmers Market and all of the produce must be grown in Hawaii). The Pineapple was exceptionally sweet, but when you grill it in a little Butter the sweetness is brought out and becomes intensified. To give it just a little caramelization I used a small amount of Sugar in with the Butter. Not only did it give a nice golden/brown color to the pineapple but it did fortify the flavor of the pineapple.
Usually I make my Pancake Batter from scratch, but since we were on the Island only for 10 days, I did not want to start buying a lot of ingredients that we would not use. So therefore, I purchased a bag of Coconut Pancake Mix. The directions on the package said to add only water, but I never pay attention to that. We want our pancakes to have a lot of flavor and nutrition, so I added an egg and used milk instead of water. I also added a small amount of melted butter to the batter. In the photo of the batter you will see some small lumps. Pancake Batter should never be beaten until smooth. This will cause the panckes to be tough!
You will notice in the photo below that the Pancakes were cooked in a skillet rather than a griddle. When renting condos, you have to make do with what is available unless you want to bring your own equipment. Next time I am definitely going to bring my own knives, because the knives that were there were barely functional.
The pancakes were delicious with the Coconut Syrup (made in Hawaii) and the grilled Pineapple Chunks.
The rest of our breakfasts were cereal, eggs and bacon, etc.
Most of our dinners were eaten out, but I did cook on some of the evenings. One night for dinner we had a Huli Roasted Chicken from the market. Since it was too much for two people to consume at one time, I saved the Breasts and made a Chicken Salad in Papaya Boats for dinner the next night. I put diced Maui Onion and Celery into the Chicken and dressed it with Papaya Seed Dressing. Along with the salad we had sautéed Baby Bok Choy (from the local Farmer’s Market in Hanalei) with Ginger and fresh Garlic.
The next night we had sautéed Ono with Shitake Mushrooms and a Green Salad with Papaya Seed Dressing. I sprinkled the Ono with a Hawaiian seasoning mix and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Next I sautéed Shitake Mushrooms with some Ginger and fresh Garlic.
When the Mushrooms just started to soften, I pushed them aside and added the Ono which I lightly sautéed on each side. Ono is such a good fish and this was so fresh that It did not need to be cooked all the way through. Just browned on the outside and pink on the inside is the way to go! For an added boost to the sautee, I added just a touch of Sesame Oil at the very end of the cooking.
For dessert we had Pineapple/Coconut Ice Cream with Chocolate Cake.
Our beverage that night was Hawaiian Sun Tea which I made by placing some Tea Bags in a pitcher of cold water along with lime slices. This was put out on the balcony table to brew under the sun.
One of the items that we ate, but did not cook was a classic but made in an unusual way. This was a Bacon/Lettuce/Tomato and Avocado Sandwich on a Taro Brioche. What was unusual about it was of course, the Taro Bun, but in addition it was made completely to order. The Bacon was cooked just for our sandwiches and the Tomato and Avocado were sliced to order. We did have to wait about 15 minutes for our sandwiches, but they were well worth it.
One other food item that we ate out was Pizza at the Bakery in Kilauea. They make excellent pizza and we have been going there for years every time we go to the North Shore of Kauai. We had a pizza dressed with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Basil Pesto with Pepperoni and Mushrooms and of course Mozzarella.
One day in Ka Paa I had Lettuce Tacos at Pacific Bistro which is now actually a Chinese Restaurant. The Lettuce Tacos were actually what is known as lettuce wraps, except the lettuce wasn’t wrapped; it was actually just little lettuce cups.
The other two places that we ate at that were noteworthy was the restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel (formerly Princeville Hotel) and the Lighthouse Bistro in Kilauea.
For dinner at the St. Regis we had Steak with a Burgundy Mushroom Sauce, a very tasty Sweet Potato Dish, sautéed Spinach and a delicious dessert cobbler made from Mango and Strawberries.
At the Lighthouse Bistro Ev had Shrimp in a Coconut Sauce over Linguini and I had a steak again. Dessert was a Passion Fruit Crème Brule with Chocolate Sauce on the side for Ev.
- Aside from the food our vacation was a success as usual. We enjoyed the ambience, the sweet smelling Hawaiian Fragrances, the balmy breezes and our gorgeous ocean view.
St. Patrick’s Day, that most Irish of Holidays is close at hand. St. Patrick’s Day is usually symbolized with images of Leprechaun’s wearing green clothing and many of us will wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or put Shamrock’s in our Buttonholes. Restaurants will feature Corned Beef and Cabbage and even green ale. Our most well-known Fast Food Restaurant is already featuring Shamrock Shakes.
So with St. Patrick’s Day close at hand I am going to paraphrase that saying ‘The Wearing of the Green’ and turn it into the ‘Cooking and Eating of Greens’. The most prevalent color in nature is green and if you think about it, there are probably more green vegetables than that of any other color. So, for St. Pat’s Day let’s get healthy and eat our greens.
Let’s start with Salads and what you can put into them. Lettuce of course is the most well-known salad green, so let’s see how many Lettuces or Lettuce/like greens we can name and find in the market today: Arugula, Butter Lettuce, Boston Lettuce, Curly Lettuce, Endive, Iceberg, (the least nutritious of all), Red Lettuce and Romaine which is probably the most popular lettuce today. Spinach and Kale are also popular salad greens today. One of our popular Salads is Caesar Salad which is easily paired with other ingredients to make a whole meal salad. Caesar is simple to make (it is mainly all Romaine Lettuce). The dressing is made from Garlic, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and an Egg cooked for 45 seconds. The Egg acts as an emulsifier binding the Olive Oil and Lemon Juice together. Lastly anchovy or anchovy paste is added for that distinctive Caesar taste along with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese. /caesar-salad/
A recipe for Guacamole, the perfect green dressing for St. Pat’s can be found at chunky-guacamole/
What other green vegetables can you put in salads? Cucumbers which come in at least the following varieties: English or Hot House, Japanese, Persian, Pickling and your usual normal market variety which you probably want to stay away from as the skins are waxed and need to be peeled before you can eat them. English or Hot House are long Cucumbers about 2 inches in diameter and usually come wrapped in a clear plastic covering. Japanese are long and skinny (about 1 inch in diameter). Persian are short and skinny and Pickling are about 4 inches long and about 1 ½” in diameter. Pickling used to be the sweetest cucumber available but now that Japanese and Persian varieties are available in the markets, they are no longer the only sweet ones.
Zucchini are green and are good raw if sliced thinly or shredded. Cilantro, Parsley, and Cabbage are also good in salads as well as celery. By the way, Celery is one vegetable that you can eat and end up with a minus calorie intake. If you notice the way celery grows, it is all fiber which is not digestible but which is good for digestion.
I will leave it to your imagination as to what else you can put in your salad and now we will go to cooked Vegetables, namely the Cruciferous ones. These are very healthy and are also touted to be helpful in cancer prevention. They certainly can’t hurt. So what are the Cruciferous Vegetables and why are they called thus. If you cut off the stem end or bottom of a cruciferous vegetable you will see the shape of a cross, hence the name. Most of the cruciferous vegetables are green and fit right into our St. Patrick’s Day theme. They are: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Romanesco. There are probably a few more that I have left out. On the subject of Cauliflower, you will probably say that Cauliflower is white, not green. However, there is a vegetable called Broccoli-Flower which is a cross between Broccoli and Cauliflower and is green. There are also, purple and yellow Cauliflower. Romanesco Cauliflower (which is an heirloom Cauliflower) is green and looks somewhat like Cauliflower but it is not rounded and has little spurts which look like castle turrets. It almost looks like it should be a desert plant and not edible, but it is edible and is supposed to be quite delicious.
The next Green Vegetables are the leafy greens which can also be used in salads but are also easily cooked. These are Collard Greens, Kale, Mustard Greens, Spinach and Swiss Chard. Swiss Chard leaves are green and their stems are pale green but there are varieties which are either gold or rainbow. The rainbow as the name suggests has multiple colored stems.
So as you can see, there are lots of greens available to cook and eat and as many as I have listed above, there are probably at least that many more available. So, on Patrick’s Day go ahead and wear green but also Cook and Eat Green!