Apricot tartFor me, an apricot tarte, tartlette or danish, is my idea of comfort food especially if it comes out warm from the oven.  In fact I usually am a sucker for anything with apricots, fresh or dried.  It has something to do with an incredibly sweet and tart taste. I like to make my tarte by marinating the apricots in marsala, but you can skip that step if you want.  The tarte will still be a gift from the Gods.  So instead of waxing on about my misspent youth, downing apricots in Aunt Kay’s backyard, I am going to get straight to the point of this post, the makings of a great tarte.  BTW when ever I make apricot tarte, there are NO leftovers, so you might want to consider doubling and  baking two tartes at the same time.

Dough – Prep – 10 minutes, chilling – 1 hour, rolling – 10 minutes, cooking – 10 – 15 minutes

The standard ratio is 1 cup of flour for each stick of butter. This makes enough dough for a pie crust. However, if you want the dough to be more buttery, add a ½ stick of butter. If you want the dough to be flakey, add lard. Butter and water must be cold. Add just enough ice cold water to get the dough and butter to stick, usually about ¼ cup, and a dash of salt. You can add sugar (about a tablespoon) to sweeten the dough. Remember to let the dough rest for 2 hours before using. What I usually do is make enough dough for 4 pies in the food processor, and divide in 4 balls. The other 3 doughs are put in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap or a plastic bag.

1 cup of sifted unbleached flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter (I use to love Plugra, but now can’t find it at Trader Joe’s) or more
¼ cup of ice water
1 dash (up to 1/8 teaspoon) of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)

In the food processor with the metal blade, add butter, flour, salt and sugar. Pulse for 10 times. Add water while continuing to pulse until dough starts to firm up as if to make a ball. Flour lightly the dough ball and place in plastic wrap or wax paper. Place in refrigerator to rest.
Set the oven at 350 degrees. Using flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work area and the rolling pin, roll out the dough for ¼ inch thickness and place in a 9 inch pie plate or a ceramic quiche and tarte dish. Trim the edges, and prick the surface of the dough heavily. Line the shell with aluminum foil, or waxed or parchment paper and fill with dried beans to prevent puffing and bake for 10-15 minutes, until it is golden brown. Cool slightly.

Apricots and Custard Filling – Set oven at 375 degrees. Prep time -1 hour for marinating apricots, Rest of the prep -20 minutes, Baking time 40 – 50 minutes

10 large apricots – Blenheims are wonderful. Slice in 1/8ths if the apricots are large. If you have smaller apricots, cut in quarters (you’ll probably need 12 – 15 small apricots. Marinate in sweet wine/sherry such as madeira, or marsala for an hour.

Custard Filling
1 ½ cups of milk or cream depending how rich you want the custard – I usually do a mixture or use 1/2 and 1/2.
1 tsp almond extract
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1/3 cup of sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg

In a small sauce pan, bring milk/cream to a boil and remove immediately from heat. In a bowl beat egg yolks, whole egg, almond extract and slowly add the sugar. Once mixture is light and fluffy gradually beat in the scalded milk/cream combination.

Arrange apricots in the cooked pie shell and cover with custard. Add custard until it covers the apricots. Cook for 40 – 50 minutes until custard sets. Cool down and serve. You can add strawberries and sliced roasted almonds for a garnish.

mayonnaise

 

Sometimes, what really surprises me is how very simple foods taste so differently from the commercially prepared products. My family has come to expect certain foods to be made from scratch and not be purchased from an aisle at Safeway or even Whole Foods. This includes whipped cream, spaghetti, pancakes and mayonnaise. I always have a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise but when it comes to certain meals, such as asparagus, lobster, home-made French fries (yes, we eat them with mayo), nothing but the best for my family, real mayonnaise. Recently I was asked by my friendly neighborhood farmer market to provide my recipe for my famous aioli, which is a more elegant way of saying garlic mayo.

Years ago, I received a slim cookbook with my first Cuisinart. It was called “New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome” and it seems that you could buy the book through Amazon for under a dollar. These recipes are solid and wonderful. But the recipe for Mayonnaise is outstanding and fool-proof. Just remember that you need to drizzle the oil into the feeder tube initially and in a few minutes, voila, perfect Mayo.

Anyway, the award-winning Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Market in Aptos California is a wonderful experience, their website is chock-full of great info and their blog “Edible Paradise” is a god-send for superb recipes (try the award-winning Kalamata Olive Fougasse Bread). There, in the section Miscellaneous, is listed “Nadine’s Garlic Aioli” – redundant title, but who am I to split hairs. And now I can say that I am a published food writer. Thank you, James Beard for your wonderful book and here is the excerpt from The Edible Paradise.

Nadine’s Garlic Aioli

As a regular customer at the Aptos Farmers Market, Nadine Frush can be spotted there almost every week carrying bags full of fresh produce from her favorite farmers. She also happens to be a wonderful cook — no surprise there!

Garlic aioli is one of her signature condiments that she keeps on hand. When I mentioned that we needed a good recipe for aioli for the Crispy Fried Calamari recipe, Nadine said, “Here’s the recipe I use for my garlic aioli. It’s based on a recipe that appeared in New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome — a wonderful little book under 100 pages with great recipes.”

What’s the difference between aioli and mayonnaise? Basically, it’s the same condiment — however, aioli contains garlic. Garlic aioli is especially delicious served with crispy calamari or shrimp, crab, boiled small potatoes, homemade French fries, or crudites.

INGREDIENTS
1 large egg
1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups peanut oil*
1 clove of peeled, finely minced garlic
—————————————————
Optional flavor variations:
• 8 anchovy fillets
• 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
• 6 spinach leaves, 6 parsley sprigs, 4 green onions cut up, 4 sprigs of tarragon, 2 sprigs of dill

METHOD
In the bowl of a food processor using the metal blade, add vinegar, egg, salt and pepper. Give the mixture two quick pulses and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then process until blended. While the food processor is running, slowly start dripping in the oil. As soon as it starts to thicken (when about 1/3 of the oil remains), you can speed up the pouring. Add the garlic (or other add ins). Refrigerate immediately. Aioli is good for about a week. Credits to New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome.

* Nadine is French, and she says that where her family is from in France, “Our aioli is always made with peanut oil.” However, if you don’t have peanut oil on hand, you can use 3/4 canola oil and 1/4 olive oil. Don’t use all virgin olive oil for aioli — it overwhelms the flavor of the sauce. If you want to use all olive oil, a better choice is a blend or a very light olive oil.

Straw Garden Madness

Since 2012, I have been mad for Straw Bale gardens.  It gets rid of many of the past issues I’ve had growing a veggie garden which are
A Guaranteed Successful Harvest
Water Control
Pest Control
Weed Control
Composting
In the past, before the straw bale gardens, my harvest would be irregular – poor tomatoes, little or no beans and we can forget the cucumbers and peas.  Now it is a verdant delight and sometimes out of control.  And it works even if all you have is a cement slab. So I’d like to share with you my system.

1. Step one: Find the area to put in the garden Buy landscaping cloth, gopher wire and garden staples.  If you don’t have a rodent problem, skip the gopher wire and if you are putting this on concrete – you don’t have to worry about any of this.

Make sure if you are cutting the gopher wire and the landscape cloth that you have scissors and wire cutters nearby – You’ll need them.

Step 2:  Have a nice strong person bring the straw bales to the planting area (don’t wreck your own back) and put them in your placing arrangement.  Then make holes in the straw bales and start putting lots of regular lawn fertilizer (nitrogen) on the bales.  Organic fertilizer is great but you’ll need tons of it.  Then put some compost on top and for the next 2 – 3 weeks water and re-fertilize every 3 days.  I use a soaker drip system that works really well, but initially I just water with a hose.

Step 3:  Start planting.  You’ll feel the heat coming up from the bales, so you can plant once the frost freeze is over.  I also put in fence stakes (the green ones) so that the vines and the tomatoes grow upright.  For fun, I found a garden umbrella which I trained my bean vines to climb.  It looked beautiful and was easy for the picking.  I run wire between the fence stakes and start putting in my plants.  This method is so successful that you can easily turn the area in to a garden jungle by planting TOO MUCH.  So my rule of thumb is 1 tomato plant per bale.

Step 4:  Set up the watering timer and enjoy.  In several months you will have an amazing veggie garden with no weeding or work, just enjoying the fruits of the easy picking labor.  The bales will last you for 2 years, and at the end, you’ll have amazing compost to put in the other gardens on your property.
For more info about Straw Bale gardening, go to http://strawbalegardens.com/
Don’t forget that when you garden, put some Elixer Arnica cream to avoid joint and muscle stiffness and soreness.

And for fool-proof vinaigrette and salad dressing, tryhttp://saladsuccess.com/. You’ll shake your way to perfect vinaigrette every day.

Rose's Picture of 'Woody's Cake". Someone punched up the yellow!

Things have changed on my home front.  My mother Mina, the creator of the Glorious Charlotte Russe, fell and smashed her shoulder two months ago.  Now she is in a free-falling descent and is under 24/7 care.  No longer do I pick her up every night to have dinner at my house, or even prepare a dinner to be served at her house.  She can hardly move, has no balance, has limited speech and horrible coughing  jags while she eats. So what can I do to cheer her up?

Easy.  Once a week, we have cake night.  Supposedly, I spend a couple hours making a fab new cake recipe and the whole family meets at her house around 9 pm to have cake and light  conversation about the previous week.  Then, much to the joy of my mother and the caregivers, I leave them one half of the cake.  Mom then has dessert for 4 – 5 days, which seems to be the highlight of her day.  The first week, I tried the Mary Todd Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Cake which we all loved.

My good friend Patricia Raines, the Vanilla Queen, recommended a cook book called “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Levy Beranbaum, the cake goddess.  After seeing the photos, how could I not resist making a cake from her delicious book?  In fact the book is so beautiful, that Christie and I sat down and went thru the book, marking our favorites.  Since Mémé (my mother) loves lemons, we decided to make Rose’s majestic Woody’s Lemon Luxury Layer Cake.

My "Woody's" Cake

Now, I am never one to be intimidated, but a 4-page recipe for cake is a little daunting.  Beware, Rose Beranbaum is an obsessive baker and minutely precise in her instructions.  So although this recipe is intense, there is no room for failure if you follow (to the book) her instructions.  However this recipe took me 11 hours to make.

Admittedly, I am a little slow whenever I face a new complex recipe, but as they say, this one took the cake. Plus it was very expensive to make with 23 eggs, 3 bars of good white chocolate and 3 sticks of butter. And I had to cheat since the finished cake needed to be refrigerated for an hour and I had 15 minutes to make it to Mom’s house.

Was it worth the effort?  Well, when we tasted our fabulous cake, sighs of ecstasy went around the table.  Would I make this cake again if it took half the time?  I don’t know.  It is truly a great recipe, the butter icing is to die for, but shoot me if I try this again.  However next week, Rose’s Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake sounds promising, and the recipe is only 1.5 pages long.

If you are a cake freak, do buy this book.  My only reservation is the picture of Woody’s Lemon Cake does not represent the final product.  It is a light yellow and cream colored cake instead of the glowing bright yellow cake with glistening icing shown in the book.

I wouldn’t even dare copying the recipe to put on my blog, since it is a work of art, but instead am leaving you with the excellent Mary Todd Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Cake.  It is quick, easy and the frosting is wonderful.

Mary Todd Lincoln’s Vanilla Almond Cake:  Ready in: 1-2 hrs, serves 12

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cup milk
1 cup almonds, finely chopped
6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
White Frosting
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 dash salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Set oven temperature to 375 degrees

Cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla extract.

Stir together the cake flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in almonds. Gently fold in the egg whites. Pour into two greased and lightly floured 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pans. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Fill and frost with White Frosting.

White Frosting: In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt. Bring mixture to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

In mixing bowl place egg whites; very slowly pour the hot sugar syrup over, beating constantly with electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract.



When Warren & I were living in Colorado Springs and planning out our wedding, a lovely couple moved in next door and we invited them over for dinner.  I can’t remember their names, but let’s call them Heather and Jim (isn’t everyone named Heather?).  Heather said she’d make the dessert and after a lovely barbeque at our house, Heather whipped out the dessert, which looked lovely and was to die for.  What was this divine concoction – Yogurt Cream Pie.  When Heather told me how to make it, I was stunned.  This broke every concept of what I learned about cooking.  All it took was a store-bought graham cracker or cookie pie shell, a container (6 – 8 ounces) of a flavored yogurt, and a container (regular size) of Cool Whip.  I’ll write this out recipe-style.

Over the years I’ve taught single men how to make this dessert and it has become, to some people, a food group.  You can class up yogurt pie by making your own pie crust with cookie crumbs such as ginger snaps, Lorna Doones, pecan sandies, peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla wafers.  You’ll need about a half a box of cookies crumbled.  For a filing you can use Greek yogurt (flavored or add fruit) and make your own whipped cream with a pint of heavy cream, sugar and a tsp. of vanilla.  Whether you go for the easiest method, or make it from scratch, it is wonderful.

YOGURT CREAM PIE

1 small container of (6 to 8 ounces) yogurt

1 pie shell

1 regular container of Cool Whip – make sure that it is soft by defrosting it in the refrigerator

Mix well yogurt and Cool Whip.  Add fruit (berries, bananas etc) if you wish.  Pour mixture into pie shell and freeze for ½ to 1 hour.  Top with chocolate shavings or fruit.

Crust– 10 minutes active time, 10 minutes baking time

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers) or dry cookies such as gingersnaps

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 stick of melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine sugar and graham crackers.  Add melted butter and mix well.  Press mixture into a pie pan – I used a fluted, ceramic tart pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and cool.

Whipped Cream – 5 minutes active time

1 pint heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and whip until mixture is stiff and can hold a spoon upright.

Have you noticed the price at the decent bakeries for pies and cakes?  Two weeks ago I choked when I paid for a cherry pie – $26.  To add insult to injury, some bakeries are charging more than $40 for a strawberry short cake.  Even though the cherry pie was excellent, I can’t afford to continue in this direction.

Last week was my mother’s birthday (the big 85), and sitting on my counter was a bag of Key limes that I purchased for $3.  Now my mother loves lemon meringue pies, and never had the courage to make them so when I offered to make her a Key lime pie, she jumped at the offer.

These pies are easy, spectacular and very affordable.  Plus you can use this recipe for Key limes, regular limes and lemons.  Key limes are about ½ the size of regular limes (or lemons), so you will need at least double the amount of fruit.  Don’t mess around making a traditional pie crust but try a simple graham cracker crust.  For the meringue topping, put the meringue in a pastry bag (get a real big one – mine is a 20”).

I’m lucky that I even got a picture of the pie before it went into the oven to cook the meringue.  When I brought it to the table, my group of lime lovers devoured the pie.  And it cost me so little to make – probably under $5.

KEY LIME MERINGUE PIE– give yourself time, about 2 hours before serving, to start the pie.  It is a 3-step process; crust, filling and meringue topping.

Crust – 10 minutes active time, 10 minutes baking time

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 stick of melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine sugar and graham crackers.  Add melted butter and mix well.  Press mixture into a pie pan – I used a fluted, ceramic tart pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and cool.

Filling – 15 minutes active time, 1 hour cooling time

1 cup of sugar

¼ cup flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ tsp salt

2 cups water

3 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup fresh lime juice – approx 10 – 12 Key limes or 5-6 limes/ lemons

Grated rind of 1 lime (2 key limes)

Combine sugar, flour cornstarch and salt in a saucepan and gradually stir in water.  Cool, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Gradually stir the mixture into the beaten egg yolks, return to low heat and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Stir in the butter, lime juice and rind and cool slightly.  Pour into the baked graham cracker shell and cool. Put in refrigerator

Meringue Topping – 15 minutes active time, 1 hour cool down.

3 egg whites

¼ tsp cream of tartar

6 tablespoons sugar

Preheated oven at 425 degrees. Beat the egg whites until lift and frothy.  Add cream of tartar and continue beating until the whites are stiff enough to hold a peak.

Gradually beat in sugar and beat until meringue is stiff and glossy (or stand up a spoon).

Pile meringue lightly on cooled pie filling, spreading it until it touches the edges of the crust to prevent the meringue from shrinking.  If you prefer (I do), put meringue into a pastry bag with a large tip and twist down the top of the bag so that the meringue is forced to squeeze out. Decorate the top of the pie, always making sure the meringue touches the edges of the crust. Bake for 5 to six minutes until top is brown.  Let pie cool down and refrigerator.

Graham cracker crust recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

Filling and meringue topping recipes courtesy of The New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne

Somehow coming back from the Kaua’i vacation just didn’t turn on my cooking button and creative juices.  I’ve been plodding away at cooking without anything grabbing my imagination.  But that will change soon.  Strawberries are out in the local markets, and I just bought a 6 pint box from my local veggie stand.  This weekend the organic stand may have some of their delicious berries for sale and we’ll be elbow deep in strawberries.

I just love those red berries and they are great for snacking and munching – low in calories, high in fiber.  It is time for strawberry-rhubarb pie, fruit crumbles, and jam.  But most important, fresh spring fruit snacking.  Mix cut-up berries in your yogurt with a little flaxseed and oat bran and you have a wonderful dessert/breakfast that will hold through to lunch time.

As for the cheating heart bit, you’ve probably noticed that pizza prices are now starting to head toward the $30 level.  Sorry, but that is too expensive for dough, cheese and tomato sauce.  We have found an economic alternative.  Buy pre-made dough and put in your own toppings.

I am truly uncoordinated when shaping the pizza dough.  Trader Joe’s makes a good dough but my pizzas are always weird looking when I have to form my own pie.  So now, I go do Safeway and buy their large Safeway Select fresh pizza.  Those pizzas are usually found on the end isle, are about 42 ounces, come with sauce and several types of topping which suck.  I get their 5 cheese pie and use my own toppings.  Sunday, we were in the mood for a Greek Pizza and it was excellent. Eat this with  steam spring asparagus and a green salad (don’t forget your SaladSuccess shaker to make the dressing).

Greek Pizza Topping

6 ounces baked and cut up (I use scissors) bacon or pancetta

20 Kalamata olives halved and pitted

Feta Cheese

½ can artichokes – I get them from Trader Joe’s

Pesto

1 Italian sausage – get it from the Butcher’s section of the grocery store – take off the skin

1 cup grated fresh Mozzarella cheese – don’t use that rubbery crap but try to find a softer cheese.  Trader Joe makes an excellent Mozzerella cheese.

DIRECTIONS

Spread ingredients evenly over pie.  Bake for 23  minutes in an oven set at 425 degrees.

Well, as all good things must come to an end, so did our vacation.  My thanks go to Costco for providing such an easy trip, Kiahuna Plantation who allowed us to use their hospitality room and take showers before our evening flight, Celeste for her great windsurfing lessons (yes, even fat old ladies like me can do it) and Larry’s Ukuleles in Koloa for giving Christie free lessons.  My curses go to the roosters who started to crow at 6 am outside the condo, United Airlines for the world’s tightest seats, and the Honolulu airport which really needs a major re-design.

About Food:  The Hawaiian Islands are not known for a fine cuisine.  After all these folks were happy with poi, which is like eating glue.  But we did find a good restaurant called Kaua’i Pasta in Lihue.  Prices were comparable to those on the mainland, service was excellent, and I couldn’t ask for a nicer meal. However most “nice” restaurants are either over-priced in which you pay for the view and not the cuisine.  Also, many places don’t want to stay open late and close between 4 and 5 pm.  So make sure that you get a condo with a kitchen and do a little cooking.  On the plus side, the fruits are wonderful and so are the farmers’ markets.  Try a couple of these, buy the papayas and pineapples (especially Sugar Baby pineapple) and feast on fruit.  We were too early for mangos, since that is a summer fruit in Hawaii.  If you are trying to save money, Safeway, Foodland and (don’t laugh) Kmart has great fruit.  In fact Kmart in Lihue is wonderful and I usually hate Kmart.  But everything is upscale from the usual Kmart fare and they have a fresh food department.  I didn’t have the time to check out the Walmart and Costco in Lihue, but I am sure that many of their food products should be good, too.

About Fun:  Where does one start describing activities on an island known for playtime?  Go snorkeling at the Poipu beaches on the south side of the island.  Buy your kid a ukulele and have her take it in the car to serenade you for hours.  Go to Anini Beach on the north side of the island and have Celeste Harvel give you a lesson.  She’s been windsurfing for 17 years and knows how to get you going in a matter of minutes.  Plus Anini Beach is TO DIE FOR.  Calm and protected from high surf, it’s a private oasis of clear turquoise water.  And don’t think you’re too old or too fat to be able to windsurf, it takes minimum brain function, coordination and strength to learn.  Her 3 hour class was the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time.

Celeste (green suite) and me at Anini Beach

For great boat charters on the Na Pali coast (think Jurassic Park), go to North Shore Charters and get Gary as your captain – he’s the best.  The link at Yelp says it all – “Bouncing up and down the surges of the ocean, chasing dolphins, exploring sea caves…memories that I will have for a lifetime! Don’t waste your time or money on the big boats out of the west side – experience Na Pali up-close and personal with North Shore Charters!”.  By the way, don’t lug over your snorkeling gear to Kaua’i, it wastes precious luggage space and you can rent for $5 a day or go buy gear at Kmart.  Save your space for that wonderful Kona coffee which you can find at the local Foodland and Safeway markets on sale.

Biking is great fun on the island.  We decided to try a Waimea Canyon downhill adventure thru Outfitters Kauai. Joey and Howard were great guides, and Joey will even take you on a hiking/camping trip thru the Na Pali coast and be your guide/chef.  Outfitters has other adventure tours such as kayaking, ziplining thru forest canopies, and whale watching. They are a little pricey but loads of fun.

Family Pic at the Waimea Canyon

Words to the Wise:  Make sure that you have rash guards and board shorts, especially for the kids.  There are lots of rocks and coral in the water, so if there is boogie board or surfing activities, you’ll get cut up.  Plus rash guards are always a good idea when being out at the beach.  Kmart sells them for $10.  Also beach shoes and booties will help save your feet in the water.  Always remember to lather on the sunscreen (I use 45 – 50 SPF Wide Spectrum) no matter how overcast the day.  I’m a skin cancer survivor so I also ALWAYS wear hats and long sleeve shirts.  Watch out for the riptides – not all beaches are safe.  And most importantly, buy The Ultimate Kaua’i Guidebook – Kaua’i Revealed by Andrew Doughty.  It is almost as good having a native guide on your trip.  The restaurant section is unbiased and on target.

View from the Condo

So other than great memories and pictures, what did I bring back from our trip?.  Freshwater pearl necklaces and earrings from the vendors at the Spouting Hole (save yourself some time to go see the horn and do some inexpensive trinket shopping), tea towels from the botanical gardens, pink and white Hawaiian sea salt from Foodland, a 5 lb bag of Maui Gold Cane Sugar and bags of Kona coffee – a newly found addiction.  Wish I had more time and money (oh for those Hawaiian quilts), but I’ll be back, I promise you. Aloha.

It’s unanimous.  Kaua’i is ruled by roosters who announce the day starting at 5 am.  I don’t understand why food is so expensive on this island since it is ruled by chickens that are beyond range-fee.  They are everywhere: side of public highways, parks and resorts.  Watching them makes me hungry.

After a 23 year hiatus, Warren, I and the kids are on the lovely island of Kaua’i at the Kiahuna Outrigger Plantation.  In a moment of rain weather weakness, we decided to get out of Dodge (Santa Cruz) and head off to the tropics during spring break.  Kaua’i is as breathtaking as we once remembered and the resort is excellent.   We booked the vacation thru Costco (cheap bitch) and so far we are delighted with the accommodations.  If you are interested, we are staying in condo #100 which is a 2 bedroom/2 bath unit with a small and delightful view of the ocean from our living room balcony.  The unit has been recently upgraded and looks better than my house.  Beware, though, if you are an air-conditioner addict, this is not the place.  Many units use the tropical breezes to cool off the rooms.

The wild rooster of Kaua'i

Now about the important stuff.  Since it is now 8:30 am, and we got to the condo last night, I’ve had no time to check out local food, except the Safeway and Foodland.  Foodland does carry organics and local produce but I am shocked at the prices, except for Japanese cucumbers and papaya.  So for breakfast, papaya with lime and Hawaii’s excellent coffee is a treat.

Since we had no time to make dinner last night when we arrived, I grabbed a rotisserie chicken at Foodland.  Usually these are fatty and overdone with sauce, but this was succulent.  The sauce was Huli-Huli and it is brain-dead to make.  Use it to marinate or barbeque on chicken, fish, beef or pork.

Huli Huli Sauce – prepare this in the morning

1 cup of soy sauce

3 heaping tablespoon of  brown sugar

1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mix well soy, 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, ginger.  Pour mixture over meat ready to marinate in a glass or ceramic container (I use my lasagna pyrex dish).  Put remaining brown sugar on top of meat and refrigerate. Turn over meat occasionally.  After 3 – 8 hours of marinating, roast, bake or barbeque meat.

Aloha. Pictures to be up as soon as I can find editing software.

You know it is not the healthiest thing to serve, but everyone loves it – Fish Fry.  For years I’ve been frying away different white fish – Dover Sole, Pacific Cod, Tilapia, and Skai – and have finally perfected the recipe.  Eat this with something healthy like steam asparagus and a green salad (don’t forget your SaladSuccess shaker to make the dressing).  Since we are coming into spring, perhaps a strawberry and rhubarb cobbler to top off the meal.  The two tricks to this recipe are using baking powder and beer.  I’ve tried all beers from Coors Light to weird lagers that my husband has collected in the fridge and the result is similar – great beer batter.  Anyway, enjoy and don’t feel too guilty.  Use vegetable oil to fry to fish – it is lighter and less expensive than olive oil.

Best Beer Batter for Fish Fry Bonanza – Prep time: 5 minutes, cooking time: 15 minutes.  Makes enough batter for 2 lbs of fish.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs or less of white fish such as cod, sole, tilapia, skai

½ cup flour

½ tbsp baking powder

1 – 2 lemons, grated for lemon zest, quarter the remaining lemon

½ cup beer

1 large – extra large egg

1 tsp (or less) Kosher salt

½ tsp freshly grounded pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Whisk in beer and egg until mixture is smooth.  Add fish and gently mix so that fish is covered with mixture.

In a large frying pan (medium high to high heat) pour enough oil to cover bottom by approximately ¼ inch.  When oil is really hot (add a couple droplets of water to oil and see if it sizzles and evaporates) carefully add pieces of fish.  Cook fish for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and serve with lemon quarters and tartar sauce (mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce or Dijon mustard couple finely chopped pickles or relish, salt & pepper).