Hearty Tomato Herb Soup

Hearty Tomato Herb SoupI enjoy soup but it is not something I would typically order in a restaurant. More often than not, they contain dairy and being lactose intolerant, I have to pass.  So when I’m in the mood for soup I make my own at home, and lately, I’ve been in a soup mood. Maybe it’s due to the weather here on Maui.  It has been pleasantly cool and we’ve had more rain than we have seen in years.  We can go months and months without a drop!  So a bowl of hearty soup in February seems just right for lunch.

Onion, Carrot, Celery This soup is full of vegetables and fresh herbs.  There’s a tad of butter for sautéing  the vegetables, but other than that, it’s fat-free.

Tomatoes for Herb SoupLuckily, we have some nice tomatoes in the garden now.  Tomatoes are not the easiest fruit to grow.  They need a lot of attention (in our area), but with patience, you will be rewarded with the most delicious, juicy tomatoes ever.  If you don’t have fresh tomatoes for this soup, there are many good canned tomatoes you may use instead.

Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, BasilI appreciate our beautiful basil, Italian parsley, thyme, and oregano growing happily in the back yard. They add a wonderful fresh flavor to this soup.  By the way, this soup can be quickly prepared in an hour or so.

Cooked Green Beans

Hearty Tomato Herb Soup

Hearty Tomato Herb Soup

Serves 8


1 tablespoon butter or olive oil (I use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrot

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced zucchini

2 cups peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 bay leaf

3 cans chicken broth (14 ounce)

3 cups water

1 cup cooked, chopped green beans

1 cup cooked rice (brown or white)

salt and pepper

grated parmesan, optional


In a large saucepan sauté onion, carrot,  and celery in butter over medium heat for 5 – 7 minutes. Add zucchini and sauté another 4 minutes or so.  Add tomatoes, herbs, bay leaf, broth, and water to saucepan.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Add cooked green beans and rice to pan. Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle grated parmesan over soup if desired.


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Golden Soup

Golden Soup Bonnie Mandoe, a former Maui resident, published her cookbook Vegetarian Nights: Fresh From Hawaii in 1994.  It is still one of my favorites.  Her recipes are very simple to make, and full of rich flavors.  I recall ordering a veggie burger many, many, years ago at Maui Coffee Roasters, which still exists today.  The burger was topped with green chile pesto, a recipe found in her cookbook.  It made that burger so special.  One of Bonnie’s dishes that I have made many times is her delicious Golden Soup.  Golden from turmeric and nutritional yeast, it’s a breeze to make.  You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk section of your favorite health food store.  I love it. I always have some in my pantry and use it to make mock chicken tofu as well.

Red LentilsRed lentils are usually orange in color.  They don’t hold their shape well, and are best suited to thicken soups, as is the case with this recipe.  So don’t be disappointed when this happens, it’s part of the plan.

Carrots, Potatoes, Celery & Bay LeafLots of tasty vegetables go into the soup, beautiful orange carrots, celery and creamy potatoes. I’ve made this soup Bonnie’s way, using vegetable bouillon cubes however this time I used chicken broth because I didn’t have the bouillon cubes in the pantry.  So that means it isn’t a vegetarian soup, but you can easily make it the original way for a vegan meal.  Also feel free to add cup of diced zucchini once the potatoes have cooked through a bit.  Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are just perfectly cooked.  Add the parsley and nutritional yeast.

Golden Soup for Lunch

Golden Soup

Adapted from Vegetarian Nights cookbook

6 Servings


3 cups water if using chicken broth

2 cans (14 oz.) chicken broth or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes combined with 6 1/2 cups water

1 cup diced onion

1 garlic clove, pressed

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 bay leaf

1 cup red lentils

1 cup diced celery

1 1/2 cups diced carrot

1 cup diced potato (I like to use Yukon Golds)

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

salt and pepper


Bring water and chicken broth or water and bouillon cubes to a boil.  Turn  the heat down to a simmer and add the onion, garlic, turmeric and bay leaf to the pot.  Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

Wash the lentils thoroughly in several changes of water until they stop foaming.  Drain and add to the soup, along with the celery, carrots, and potatoes.  Simmer another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender.  The cooking time will depend upon how large or small you cube your potatoes.  I go for a fairly small cubes for this particular recipe.

Add the parsley and whisk in the nutritional yeast.  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.



Posted in Lactose Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Avocado-Lime Sauce Vierge

Avocado, Basil, Cilantro, Jalapeno, Shallot, Garlic & LimeThis fantastic recipe from Bon Appetit is a winner.  Sauce Vierge is a French sauce literally meaning virgin sauce because it is not cooked.  There are so many variations, often using tomatoes as the base of the sauce.  The main ingredients found in most of the recipes are olive oil, fresh herbs and lemon juice.  This recipe includes luscious avocado, the juice and pulp of a lime, and jalapeño pepper.  Brilliant!

Avocado-Lime Sauce Vierge IngredientsThe original recipe calls for 1/2 cup olive oil and a half of an avocado.  I switched it around a bit and used a whole avocado and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  I don’t care for sauces or dressings that are heavy on the oil so this worked out perfectly.

Avocado-Lime Sauce ViergeThe article suggests serving this sauce with grilled fish, roast chicken, or huevos rancheros.  We served it with a roast chicken and dipped tortilla chips in the leftover sauce the following day.  It was so good, I made more right away.

Avocado-Lime Sauce Vierge with Roasted Chicken

Avocado – Lime Sauce Vierge

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Adapted from Bon Appetit


1 medium avocado, pitted, diced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small jalapeño, seeded, finely chopped

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot

1 – 2 limes, halved (our limes from the garden are large and juicy so I used just 1 lime, taste as you go)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Dice avocado and place in a medium bowl.  Coarsely crush some of the avocado.  Stir in olive oil, jalapeño, garlic, and shallot.  Squeeze limes into avocado mixture.  Using a spoon, scrape pulp out of limes into mixture.  Stir to combine.  Do Ahead: Sauce can be made a few days in advance.  Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of sauce.  Cover and refrigerate.  Bring sauce to room temperature before continuing.

Stir basil and cilantro into sauce just before serving.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with extra olive oil if desired.


Posted in Appetizers, Chicken, Dinner, Fish, Lactose Free, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Grilled Lemony Chicken with Fresh Herbs

Grilled Lemony Chicken with Fresh HerbsOur lemon tree is full of fruit and we have more than we can use.  Such is the case with our lilikoi vines as well.  It’s a bit overwhelming at times, wondering just what to do with all the fruit that’s piled high in baskets on the dining room table.  Much of it we give away.  I’ve always wanted to make preserved lemons so that might be my next project.  This time,  I made a quick lemony marinade for chicken breasts that would be grilled on the charcoal grill with a couple of wood chunks thrown on the coals for a touch of smoke.

Fresh Herbs & LemonsThough the few lemons I did use in the recipe didn’t make a dent on what’s left on the tree, the chicken turned out better than any version of grilled herb chicken we have made before.  It’s a keeper.  Any leftovers are delicious in a sandwich or served on a Caesar salad.

Rosemary, Marjoram, Basil, Parsley, ThymeI used fresh thyme, parsley, basil, marjoram and rosemary from the garden.  You aren’t required to use all of these if you make this recipe though I do feel the thyme, basil and rosemary are essential.  And maybe the parsley too.

Pounded Chicken Breast on Right I always pound the chicken breasts so that they are an even thickness.  Doing this ensures they cook evenly and stay moist and tender.

Herb Chicken MarinatingInstead of mixing the herbs into the olive oil-lemon juice marinade, I sprinkle them evenly over both sides of the chicken.  The herbs don’t get lost in the marinade and there’s plenty of fresh herb flavor on each piece.

Grilled Lemony Chicken with Fresh Herbs

Grilled Lemony Chicken Breasts with Fresh Herbs

Serves 4


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts –  lightly pounded to a uniform thickness

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3 garlic cloves, crushed

dash of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped basil

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

1 teaspoons chopped marjoram (optional)


Season both sides of chicken breasts generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chili flakes if using, and garlic.

Place marinade in a dish just large enough to hold chicken breasts in one layer.  Place chicken in marinade, turn to coat the other side.  Divide the herbs in half and sprinkle over both sides of chicken.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 1/2 hours or up to 2 hours, turning the chicken half way through.

Remove chicken from marinade and transfer to a plate.  Grill chicken for a few minutes on each side.  It is done when an instant read thermometer reaches 160°.



Posted in Chicken, Dinner, Lactose Free, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Smoked Salmon with Fried Capers

Smoked Salmon Tartines  We love smoked salmon.  John prefers cold-smoked but I love hot-smoked salmon.  It’s delicious on a toasted bagel or flaked over pasta served with delicate spears of asparagus.  On this occasion, I toasted a few slices of John’s homemade hearty bread and smeared it with a lactose-free “crème fraîche” made with Green Valley sour cream and a touch of half and half, both of which are lactose free.  Bon Appetit showcased a beautiful salmon article in their June 2014 issue. “The Smoked Salmon Tartines with Fried Capers” inspired me to prepare this for lunch.

Honey Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon on the charcoal barbecue is spectacularly good. However, you may not always have time to prepare your own smoked salmon, and that’s when you head to your favorite market where these days you’ll find a variety of hot-smoked salmon.  Our local Costco sells delicious honey smoked salmon fillets which is what I used today.

Fried CapersFried capers may not seem like such a big deal, but they add a certain je ne sais quoi once they are briefly pan-fried in a bit of oil.  They transform into irresistible, crunchy, tidbits that are a perfect complement to this smoked salmon recipe.

Smoked Salmon Tartines

Smoked Salmon Tartines with Fried Capers

Serves 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit


1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, patted dry

4 slices country-style bread, toasted or grilled

1/2 cup crème fraîche (I combined 1/2 cup lactose free sour cream plus 1 1/2 tablespoons lactose free half and half)

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound hot-smoked salmon, flaked

2 teaspoons finely chopped chives

Olive oil for drizzling (optional)


Toss onion and vinegar in a small bowl; let stand at least 1 hour to pickle.

Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat.  Fry capers until opened and crisp, about 30 seconds.  Drain on paper towels.

Spread toasts with crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper.  Top with smoked salmon, drained pickled red onion, fried capers, and chives.  Drizzle with oil (optional).






Posted in Fish, Lactose Free, Recipes, Sandwiches | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze

Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine GlazeI was thumbing through my February 2014 issue of Bon Appetit and came upon an article titled “The Dark Side.”  It immediately caught my attention, not just because of the quirky title, but due to the fact that the recipes were all about chocolate.  Chocolate is one of  the most popular foods in the world and I am one of its many admirers! The Mast brothers,  owners of the Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn, shared some of their fabulous recipes in this issue.  Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze?  I found the red wine glaze especially intriguing.

Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine GlazeThis is a beautiful cake to serve at a small party.  It’s delicious and can be made 2 days in advance.  If you have any leftovers, slice, wrap, and freeze the cake for one of those nights when you crave something from “the dark side.”

Ghirardelli chocolate barsYou’ll need a pound of chocolate for this recipe.  Half of it goes into the cake batter, and the other half for the red wine glaze.

Baked Darkest Chocolate CakeThis particular cake fluffs up while baking and then deflates as it cools.  Don’t worry, it will be just fine.

Red Wine GlazeThe red wine chocolate glaze is poured over the cake.  The glaze might seem thin at first, but it sets up beautifully (see photo below).

Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine GlazeThis cake reminds me of a chocolate decadence cake I used to make many years ago.  It’s rich but not too sweet, thanks to the bittersweet chocolate (and red wine).  It’s now my favorite chocolate cake.

Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze

Adapted from the Mast Brothers Bon Appetit Recipe

Serves 10


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan (I used lactose free Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 60% cacao that I had in my cupboard but the original recipe uses 70% cacao)

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon if using Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)

Glaze and Assembly

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 60% cacao but you may use 70% cacao)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter cut into small pieces (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup red wine (such as Pinot Noir)

Special Equipment: A 9″ springform pan


Lightly  butter and flour pan.

Heat chocolate, sugar, and 1 cup butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate is almost completely melted, about 3 – 5 minutes; remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Let cool completely.  (I transfer the chocolate mixture to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes).

While the chocolate mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 325°.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, add eggs to chocolate mixture one at a time, beating to blend after each addition.  Beat until mixture has a mousse-like consistency.  Reduce speed to low and add salt and 1/3 cup flour; mix until smooth.  Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until top is firm and edges are slightly darkened, about 50 minutes (time varies depending upon individual oven temperatures).  The original recipe mentions that a tester inserted into the cake’s center will come out clean before it is truly done (55 – 65 minutes).  I followed the recipe exactly the first time I made the cake and it turned out a bit dry when I left it in the oven for more than 50 minutes so I now remove the cake from the oven when a tester inserted into cake’s center comes out clean.  Set your timer for 45 minutes to see if your cake is done.  If it needs more time, set the timer for a few more minutes and test again. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan before turning out.


Heat chocolate, butter, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate and butter are melted, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in powdered sugar.

Meanwhile, bring wine just to a boil in a small saucepan.

Remove chocolate mixture from heat and whisk in wine; let cool until slightly thickened and a rubber spatula leaves a trail in mixture when stirring, 8 – 10 minutes.

Set cake over a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.  Pour glaze over cake and spread it across the top and over the edges with an offset spatula.  Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze is set, about 2 hours.



Posted in Dessert, Lactose Free, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments