Beef, Dinner, Japanese, Lactose Free, Pork, Recipes, Sandwiches

Japanese Burgers

November 26, 2016

Japanese Burger

The moment I saw this recipe from the New York Times I knew I wanted to make it right away.  I was curious to know why these were called Japanese burgers.  Upon reading the ingredients, panko bread crumbs, soy sauce, and the combination of ground beef and pork, the answer was clear.  The recipe comes from Tadashi Ono, owner of Matsuri restaurant in New York. Tadashi is Japanese.  The article also lists a recipe for wasabi (Japanese!) ketchup to go along with the burger. In the end, it didn’t matter what they called these burgers.  They are so good I just call them “ono burgers!”

Ground Sirloin & Ground Pork

Times market in Kihei sells specific types of excellent ground beef (including sirloin and chuck), rather than the usual generic version. Whole Foods market ground the pork for me while I waited at the counter.

Ground Sirloin & Ground Pork

Panko, Milk, Onion, Soy Sauce

A bit of panko and milk moisten the meat.  Very finely minced onion and soy sauce flavor the ground beef and pork along with a little salt and pepper.

Japanese Burger

These are juicy, moist burgers.  We heated leftover patties wrapped in foil in the toaster oven the following day and they were equally delicious as they were on the first day.  In place of the wasabi ketchup suggested in the article, we opted to mix up sriracha with ketchup because sriracha enhances nearly every food imaginable (pizza, noodles, eggs, mayonnaise, ketchup).

Japanese Burger

Japanese Burgers
Adapted from the New York Times
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup panko
  • ¼ cup 2% or whole milk
  • 10 ounces ground sirloin
  • 10 ounces ground pork
  • ¼ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • sesame oil for coating hands
  • 4 brioche buns for serving
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs and milk and let rest for a few minutes. If the mixture seems too dry add a few extra drops of milk to moisten the bread crumbs.
  2. Add sirloin, pork, onion, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together. Divide into 4 equal parts (a scale comes in handy).
  3. Lightly dab your hands with sesame oil. Using your palms, roll each part of the meat into a ball, then pat the ball flat, shifting it from hand to hand to form a ½-inch-thick patty. Make a shallow indentation across the center of the patty to keep it from puffing while it grills.
  4. Grill the burgers, flipping twice, until browned and cooked through with no pink in the middle, about 10 minutes (160 degrees). Serve on buns, topped with spicy ketchup and shredded iceberg lettuce.



Appetizers, Dinner, Italian, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies

Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts

November 14, 2016

Tomato Tart

These tasty tomato tarts are so easy to make when using ready-made frozen puff pastry.  Of course if you have time you could make your own, but using already prepared puff pastry reduces your prep time. The key to a delicious tart is to use really good tomatoes.  You want tomatoes that are meaty with few seeds so that the crust doesn’t get soggy.  Our tomato plants underproduced this summer, however, we were lucky to have a handful of really nice tomatoes that I used for tomato sauce, salsa, Mexican rice, salads, and these tarts.

Homegrown Tomatoes

Peeled Tomatoes

I didn’t peel the tomatoes the first time I made the tart but did so the next time around.  The tomato skins don’t soften much or break down when baked so peeling them ensures that when you take a bite of the tart you’re not left with the tomato skin pulling away from the rest of the slice.

Unbaked Tomato Tart with Feta & Thyme

You can make one large tart or divide the puff pastry into two equal portions and make two tarts.  Below I made one with pesto and another with feta cheese.  It was nice to have a variety of flavors.  These little tarts  make perfect appetizers for a small party.  You can make them a couple of hours in advance and still count on the crust being flaky and crisp.

Pesto & Feta Tomato Tarts

Tomato Tart with Thyme

The tomatoes above were not peeled.  You may notice the skins did not cook down much which means that when you take a bite of the tomato tart the skin may come off in one piece.  It’s definitely OK to leave the skins on though if this isn’t bothersome to you.

Tomato Tart with Feta & Thyme

Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
Serves: 6 - 8 as an appetizer
  • 1 frozen ready-to-bake puff pastry sheet such as Pepperidge Farm
  • 2 - 3 tomatoes, peeled, cored, and sliced (about ⅓-inch thick)
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • crumbled feta (optional)
  • basil pesto (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper
  • Maldon or other crunchy sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet pan. Place parchment paper on counter. Remove puff pastry sheet from the freezer and place it on the parchment paper. Let puff pastry defrost for 20 minutes.
  3. Roll out puff pastry on the parchment paper to measure 9½ x 12 inch rectangle. If making two tarts divide the pastry in half. Once rolled out, transfer puff pastry (on parchment paper) to your baking sheet. Using the tip of a small paring knife, lightly score a border about ½ inch from the edge of the pastry. Pierce the dough inside the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent the central area from puffing up too much during baking.
  4. If using only tomatoes: Arrange tomatoes over the pastry. Season with pepper. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes. Scatter fresh thyme leaves over the top.
  5. If using pesto: Brush pesto over the pastry (except border). Arrange tomatoes on the pesto and season with pepper. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes.
  6. If using feta: Arrange tomatoes on pastry and season with pepper. Scatter crumbled feta between the tomatoes. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes. Scatter fresh thyme leaves over the top.
  7. Bake tart(s) for 30 - 35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and edges are lightly browned. Season with Maldon salt.


Beans, Dinner, Lactose Free, Pressure Cooker, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

October 31, 2016

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

A few years ago I purchased Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s highly regarded Canal House Cooks Every Day cookbook.  The book has gorgeous photos with straightforward, practical instructions and is formatted by the four seasons.  It’s just a lovely book.  I had not consulted it in several years but I won’t neglect it again.  An example of their beautiful cuisine is this simple and delicious meal that lets the beans and greens shine.

Dried Flageolets

The original recipe calls for borlotti beans but they weren’t available at any of the stores I visited.  Instead, I used flageolets, one of my favorite beans.  Beautiful pale green and ivory colored, they cook up nicely, holding their shape.  I used my pressure cooker to save some time but you can certainly cook them in a Dutch oven if you don’t have a pressure cooker.  As with all types of beans, some will break during the cooking process.  A few will be too soft.  Though it may take an extra 5 – 10 minutes, I sort through the beans discarding the broken and soft beans after they have cooked.  Your finished dish will look beautiful and all of the beans will be the perfect texture.

Cooked Flageolets

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
Serves: 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish
  • 1 cup dried flageolet beans, rinsed (sorted through to remove broken beans)
  • ½ medium onion cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces baby kale, spinach, or a combination (I used Organic Girl I Love Baby Kale mixture)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. For stove top pressure cooker:
  2. Place beans in pot with 5 cups filtered water, bay leaf and onion. Pressure cook for 25 - 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Check beans for doneness. They should be tender and cooked through but not mushy. If they need a little more time, pressure cook for a few additional minutes or simmer on the stove until done.
  3. For Dutch oven stove top:
  4. Place beans in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot along with the onion and bay leaf and cover with at least 2½ inches of water. Bring the beans to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down so the beans simmer gently. Check on the beans after 50 minutes to see how they are doing. Add more hot water as needed to keep the beans submerged. Continue to monitor the beans until they are completely cooked through but not soft.
  5. If you made your beans in advance remove them from the refrigerator and place them in a pot with a few tablespoons of water and a good splash of olive oil (discard onion and bay leaf). Cover and heat on low until just warm.
  6. Meanwhile, put 1½ tablespoons olive oil and the sliced garlic in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Rinse your greens and add it to the pan with the water still clinging to the greens. Sauté the greens, stirring and turning them in the oil, until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, place beans in a shallow bowl. Drizzle beans with a little olive oil. Top with the wilted greens and season with salt and pepper. I serve this with open-faced ham sandwiches but toasted garlic bread would be a delicious accompaniment as well.



Dinner, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Veggies

Corn, Cucumber, Avocado & Mint Salad

October 21, 2016

Corn, Cucumber, Avocado & Mint Salad

Mint has been highly esteemed throughout history, referenced both in Greek mythology as well as biblically. In its fresh form it is one of my favorite herbs.  I use it in tabouleh, cucumber salad, minty tahini dressing, watermelon salad and mojitos.  We always have a container of mint growing in the garden.  This lovely salad was adapted from a recipe I found in the New York Times “What To Cook This Week” email I subscribe to.  Its ingredients include crisp cucumbers, sweet tomatoes and corn, rich and creamy avocado, feta, and of course mint.  When corn is available I make this salad often.  Sometimes I’ll char the corn on the grill for a few minutes if I have time.

Red Onions & Lime Juice

The dressing is quite simple to make.  Mince some red onion and let it macerate in the lime juice for a short time along with fresh ground pepper and salt.  Set the bowl aside while you slice the cucumbers and other vegetables.  Finally, whisk in the olive oil and a bit of cumin.

Red Onion & Lime Dressing

Grilled Corn

If you have time grill your corn for a few minutes. This will add a subtle smokiness to your salad.

Sweet Tomatoes

Corn, Cucumber, Avocado & Mint Salad

In the version above, the corn was grilled before tossing it with the dressing.  I sprinkled Korean chili flakes over the salad before serving.  You could also use Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, or none at all.  The salad below uses corn that was steamed for just a minute in the microwave.  A few sprigs of watercress were tossed into the salad.

Corn, Cucumber, Avocado & Mint Salad


Corn, Cucumber, Avocado & Mint Salad
Adapted from the New York Times
Serves: 4
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (up to 4 tablespoons if you prefer a less tangy dressing)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups tender corn kernels
  • 2 large firm-ripe avocados
  • 1½ cups sliced cucumbers
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • handful of watercress sprigs (optional)
  • handful of mint leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine diced onions, lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Let macerate for 15 minutes, then whisk in olive oil and cumin.
  2. Spoon a generous amount of the dressing over the corn and toss to coat.
  3. Cut avocados in thick slices and arrange in a random pattern on a platter. Top with the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and watercress if using.
  4. Spoon the corn over the salad, Scatter feta and mint over the top. Sprinkle a bit of crushed red pepper over the salad. Drizzle with extra dressing and serve.



Dessert, Fruit, Lactose Free, Recipes

Mango Cream Popsicles

October 5, 2016

Mango Cream Popsicles

Though I look forward to cooler weather that slowly appears in November, at the same time, I will miss our extended mango season that is with us from May through October.  Images of sweet Pirie and Rapoza mangos that cover our dining room table and sometimes overflow into boxes stored on the living room floor, will soon be gone.  This year I decided to freeze containers of mango purée so that I will be able to make popsicles throughout the year.  It will be such a treat to sit on the porch in December or January with a refreshing mango cream popsicle. After all, the weather is warm all year-long in Hawaii.  I adapted this recipe from Sarah & Jessica at Pretty Providence. These popsicles remind me of a Creamsicle, one of my favorite childhood desserts.

Rapoza Mango

Our two mango trees are heavy producers delivering the sweetest mangos imaginable.  The Rapoza is creamy and fiberless with very large fruit and small seeds. The White Pirie mango is a small-medium sized mango with a golden hue.  I have never tasted a mango sweeter than this one.

Diced Pirie Mango

Good news for those of us who are lactose intolerant.  There are excellent products these days that are made just for us.  Green Valley and Organic Valley offer delicious, real dairy products that are lactose free.

Lactose Free Yogurt and Half & Half

Popsicle Mold

The Norpro popsicle mold is inexpensive, simple to use, and makes 10 perfectly sized popsicles.

Mango Cream Popsicles

Mango Cream Popsicles
Serves: 10
  • 3 medium mangos
  • ¼ cup cream of coconut (such as Coco Real brand)
  • ¾ cup lactose free half and half
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup Green Valley lactose free plain yogurt (2% or whole milk)
  1. Peel and dice mangos discarding seeds. Puree in a food processor or blender until completely smooth. Whisk in cream of coconut. Pour puree into a 2-cup measuring cup. You want to have a minimum of 1¼ cups of mango puree.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the half and half and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in vanilla extract. Whisk in yogurt until mixture is smooth. Pour into a 2-cup measuring cup. You want to end up with a total of 3 cups of filling including the mango puree. This amount will fill the Norpro 10 piece popsicle maker perfectly.
  3. Layer cream & yogurt mixture into popsicle molds, alternating with mango puree. Use a wooden chopstick to create a marbled effect. Leave a little space to allow for expansion when frozen.
  4. Place lid over popsicle mold, add popsicle sticks and freeze overnight. Remove popsicles by running warm water around the outside of the mold. Gently squeeze the bottom of the popsicle mold while lifting each popsicle stick from the mold. Try your best not to use too much warm water which may cause the popsicles to melt. Quickly wrap a small piece of waxed paper around each popsicle and store in an airtight container or freezer bag until ready to eat.



Bread, Breakfast, Dinner, Lactose Free, Recipes, Veggies

Bacon & Cheddar Zucchini Bread

September 25, 2016

Bacon & Cheddar Zucchini Bread

Bacon and cheddar cheese are a perfect match.  This savory zucchini bread, which incorporates that perfect match, does not require any rising, kneading, or special care.  Mix all of the ingredients together and bake it in a loaf pan.  Then, wait patiently while it cools before you cut a thick slice and toast it until the edges are pleasingly crisp.  This recipe is adapted from Carolyn over at Food Gal.  The recipe comes from Katie Sullivan Morford’s new cookbook Rise & Shine. Katie uses kalamata olives and green onions but I wanted to use bacon, because…bacon!  I also used chives from the garden in place of the green onions.  As Carolyn mentions, this savory bread is not just for breakfast.  I toast slices and serve it with roasted meat or grilled chicken.  It is reminiscent of cornbread in many ways.  Serve it with a pat of butter.  Yum!

Toasted Zucchini Bread with Butter

Grated Zucchini

I haven’t grown zucchini but I hear that they are prolific producers and many home gardeners end up with more than they know what to do with.  I also read a few stories that gave me a good laugh: people will leave bags of excess zucchini in unattended cars or on strangers doorsteps. Fortunately, this recipe doesn’t require that much zucchini.

Fresh Eggs

I love the beautiful speckled brown eggs my neighbor Judy shares with us.

Extra Sharp Cheddar, Bacon, Chives

Use extra sharp cheddar and fairly lean bacon for the best flavor and texture.  This rustic bacon and cheddar zucchini bread turns out perfectly each time you bake it.

Bacon & Cheddar Zucchini Bread with Butter & Mango Pepper Jam

Bacon & Cheddar Zucchini Bread


Bacon & Cheddar Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Food Gal
Serves: 1 large loaf
  • 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ cups white whole wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup plain lactose free yogurt (Green Valley lactose free or regular yogurt)
  • ½ cup lactose free milk (or regular milk)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • ½ cup chopped cooked bacon
  • 6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut into ⅓-inch cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with oil or nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place grated zucchini into a colander set in the sink or over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and toss together. Leave zucchini in the colander to allow the salt to draw out some of the liquid.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the white whole wheat and all-purpose flour along with the baking powder, baking soda, black pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, yogurt, and milk until combined.
  5. Squeeze out the liquid from the zucchini, removing as much of the moisture as possible, The zucchini will remain moist but should not be wet. Add the zucchini to the egg mixture along with the scallions and bacon. Mix to combine.
  6. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently with a spoon or rubber spatula, just until the streaks of flour disappear. Add the cheese and stir just enough to distribute it throughout the dough.
  7. Transfer dough to the prepared loaf pan and using your spatula, smooth the top. The dough will be rough and craggy.
  8. Bake for about 50 - 55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the bread, tip the pan over, and gently dislodge the bread onto the cooling rack. Allow bread to cool for 30 minutes or so, before serving.



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