Haricots Verts and Freekeh with Minty Tahini Dressing

Haricots Verts & Freekeh with Minty Tahini Dressing Freekeh, an unusual grain with a novel name!  The first time it caught my attention was in Berkeley at the Pasta Store.  I like cooking with many different types of grains.  They make interesting side dishes, and in this case, a great salad.  The name Freekeh is a process which means “to rub” in Arabic.  The wheat is harvested when young and green then roasted, dried and rubbed. It has a subtle smokey flavor and a pleasant, chewy texture.  It’s delicious.


Cooked Freekeh Freekeh looks a bit like bulgur once it is cooked.  In fact, if you can’t find freekeh, you could substitute bulgur but freekeh has a chewier texture and more interesting flavor.

Madagascar Pink Rice I included Madagascar pink rice in my salad.  I love the color and texture it added to the salad. This beautiful rice cooks in just 20 minutes.

Haricots Verts

Dill, Cilantro, Parsley Fresh herbs are scattered over the salad just before serving.

Minty Tahini Dressing I am a big fan of any dressing that contains tahini and lemon juice!

Haricots Verts & Freekeh with Minty Tahini Dressing This salad is so good I made it three times in a one week period.  I packed it up for my work lunch and tossed the beans, freekeh, rice and walnuts with the dressing just before I sat down to eat.

Haricots Verts & Freekeh with Minty Tahini Dressing

Haricots Verts and Freekeh with Minty Tahini Dressing

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 2


1/4 cup cracked or uncracked freekeh, rinsed

1 cup Madagascar pink rice (optional)

6 ounces haricots verts, trimmed

1 very small garlic clove, finely grated (I used my microplane zester)

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint (or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint)

1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts (I baked them in the toaster oven for 5 minutes)

a few sprigs of dill, cilantro, flat leaf parsley

crushed red pepper flakes


Cook freekeh in a medium saucepan of salted simmering water until al dente, 12 – 15 minutes (uncracked freekeh will take longer to cook, 30 minutes or so).  Drain and rinse under cold water; set aside. You will not use all the freekeh for the salad.

Cook Madagascar pink rice if using, following directions on package.  (I make 1 cup of rice at a time and serve leftover rice with mock chicken tofu the following day).

Cook haricots verts in a medium pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes (very thin haricots verts may take just 2 minutes to cook).  Drain and transfer to a large bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and pat dry.

Whisk garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, oil, tahini, mint, maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl; season with salt. Taste, add more lemon juice if desired.

In a large bowl, stir together 1/4 cup each, cooked freekeh and pink rice if using (use more freekeh if you skip the pink rice). Add green beans and toss with enough dressing to coat everything nicely.  Season with salt.  Divide on to two plates, top with toasted walnuts, small sprigs of dill, tender leaves of cilantro and parsley.  Sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes over the salad and serve.




Posted in Lactose Free, Recipes, Rice Dishes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake

Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake I recently received three jugs of pure maple syrup as gift from a several friends who visit from the mainland and Canada.  I love pure maple syrup on blueberry pancakes or waffles, but I don’t eat them often enough to make a dent in all of the syrup stashed in my cupboard. I thought this Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake would be a good way to start.  I first noticed the recipe in Food & Wine magazine.  It was developed by Joanne Chang, a well-known pastry chef and owner of Flour, a bakery in Boston.  I noticed that the recipe called for baking the cake for 1 1/2 hours!  This didn’t seem right so I searched around and found a couple of other versions of this recipe, one of them by Wendy of bookcooker blog.  Wendy says to bake the cake for 45 – 60 minutes. That made sense!

Granny Smith Apples Granny Smith apples hold up well when baked.  Their tart flavor balances the sweetness of the maple syrup.

Peeled & Cored Granny Smith Apples I long ago discovered the value of using a melon ball corer to remove the seeds and core of apples.  One single swoop and you’re done.

Apples over Maple Syrup Arrange the sliced apples in two concentric circles over the thickened syrup.

Cake Batter over Apple Slices Smooth the cake batter over the apples and bake until golden brown.

Baked Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake

Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake The maple syrup infuses the apples and the cake.  Yummy.

Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake

Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake

Maple Apple Upside-Down Cake

Serves 10 – 12

Adapted from Food & Wine and bookcooker blog


1 cup pure maple syrup

3 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and quartered, each quarter cut into 3 equal slices (the Granny Smith apples I bought were large but if you have smaller apples you can cut the apple into eighths)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk (I used lactose free milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice since there is no lactose free buttermilk available here on Maui)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 sticks Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened (or unsalted butter,  increase the salt to 1 teaspoon)

1 1/3 cups sugar


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan with 3-inch high sides. (You may use a 9-inch cake pan with 2 1/2-inch sides.  You will not need all of the batter).

In a small saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over high heat, then simmer over medium-low heat until very thick and reduced to 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes.  Pour the thickened syrup into the cake pan.  Arrange the apples in the pan in 2 concentric circles. If your apples are on the large side and you are using a 9-inch pan, you may not need all of the apple slices.

In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a glass measuring cup, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and vanilla.  In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 – 5 minutes.  Beat in the dry and wet ingredients in 3 alternating batches until the batter is smooth; scrape down the side of the bowl.  Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter over the apples and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 50 minutes.

Place a plate on top of the cake and invert the cake onto the plate. Let the cake cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve.


Posted in Dessert, Lactose Free, Recipes | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Corn Flake Cookies with Bittersweet Chocolate

Corn Flake Cookies with Bittersweet Chocolate Chips I long ago grew out of breakfast cereal.  However, with the thought of a crisp corn flake cookie in mind, I found myself once again, in the cereal aisle of Safeway.  I  made a batch of oatmeal cookies that included corn flakes, but I still had almost an entire box left.  Since I wasn’t about to eat corn flakes for breakfast, I was bent on baking more cookies.

Corn Flakes I stumbled upon a recipe simply titled Cornflake Cookies on riceandbread.com.  The short list of ingredients and the idea of using up another 3 – 4 cups of corn flakes got me thinking that this would be the perfect recipe to put a dent into that box of cereal.

Bittersweet Chocolate Chips As it turned out, the recipe also include a small portion of chocolate chips.  Excellent!  I doubled the amount called for and used bittersweet chocolate.

Corn Flake Cookie Dough with Bittersweet Chocolate Chips I was just a bit skeptical about rolling the cookie dough into large pieces of corn flakes, but they turned out to be the perfect, crispy, delightful cookie.

Baked Corn Flake Cookies with Bittersweet Chocolate Chips The corn flakes turn golden brown and crisp up as they bake.

Corn Flake Cookies with Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Corn Flake Cookies with Bittersweet Chocolate 

Adapted from riceandbread.com

Makes 18 cookies


1 stick + 1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (or salted butter) at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 – 4 cups corn flakes, divided, very lightly crushed

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a small bowl, combing flour, salt and baking powder.  Fold flour mixture into butter mixture.  Stir in 1 cup corn flakes and bittersweet chocolate chips.

Scoop cookie dough into tablespoon sized balls and roll into remaining lightly crushed corn flakes.  I like to press the dough down very lightly in the center so the cookies are a bit more even.  Bake for about 17 – 19 minutes (oven temperatures vary, check at 15 minutes) or until the cookies are perfectly golden, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time for even cooking.  Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.




Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Lactose Free, Recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Seared Filet Mignon with Sautéed Shallots & Shiitake Mushrooms

Filet Mignon with Shallots & Shiitake Mushrooms Umami = Deliciousness.   The New Yorker’s March 2015 article: You Think You Know Umami describes it in two sentences: “That deep, dark, meaty intensity that distinguishes seared beef, soy sauce, ripe tomato, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and mushrooms, among other things. It hits the back of your throat and leaves you craving more.”  This simple dish is all about umami.  Steak, seared and served with shiitake mushrooms, shallots and soy sauce.  That’s it. Simple and delicious.

Shiitakes Mana Foods in Paia is my favorite market.  Their shelves are stocked full of goodies and hard to find items (for residents of Maui) such as Muscovado sugar, Einkorn flour, specialty vinegars, oils and more.  Particularly superb is their produce department.  It is well stocked with many fresh locally grown products, including the best selection of fresh mushrooms here on Maui.  Beautiful golden chanterelles are hard to find here but Mana has them when they are in season.  They even sell fresh fava beans!  Gorgeous shiitakes are always available at Mana.


Sliced Shiitakes

Shiitakes & Shallots The mushrooms and shallots are sliced thin and quickly sautéed for a few minutes.  Soy sauce will be added to the mushrooms just before they are served.

Sauteed Shiitakes

Filet Mignon with Shallots & Shiitake Mushrooms

 Seared Filet Mignon with Sautéed Shallots & Shiitake Mushrooms

Adapted from Linda Furuya’s San Francisco Chronicle article

Serves 2


2 teaspoons canola oil (or other neutral oil)

1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots

8 – 10 (about 6 ounces) medium-size shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 filet mignon (about 8 – 10 ounces 1 1/2″ thick) sliced into two 3/4″ thick medallions

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce


Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and mushrooms, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the steak with a little kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add the steak to the pan and sear on each side for about 2 – 3 minutes, or enough to leave the insides pink and juicy.  Remove steak from the heat, but leave the juices in the pan.

Lower the heat to medium. Return the mushrooms and shallots back to the skillet to warm gently.  Once heated, remove the skillet from the heat, add soy sauce and stir until mushrooms and shallots are well coated.

Cut the steak into thin slices and scatter the mushroom mixture over and around the meat.  Serve with steamed rice.


Posted in Beef, Dinner, Japanese, Lactose Free, Recipes | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas

Indian Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas I have a new appreciation for chicken thighs.  There. I’ve said it.  I never thought I would, but I’ve learned they are essential in certain recipes, such as this Indian Spiced Chicken.  It is exceptional.

Ground Coriander, Turmeric, Cumin, Cayenne The spices that flavor this dish are incredibly fragrant.  Your kitchen will be over whelmed with wonderful aromas!

Fresh Grated Ginger

Sliced Onions

Indian Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas After just an hour in the oven, the chicken is tender and moist.  The sauce is so tasty you’ll want to spoon it over your rice, which I quickly did (after taking a few snapshots of the dish).  My stepson, Ivan, loves Indian cuisine, but I have always been on the fence.  Now however,  I’m in love with this Indian recipe.

Indian Spiced Chicken Plate

Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4


1 tablespoon canola oil

4 each, bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin removed

1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter (or unsalted butter)

2 large onions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons grated peeled ginger

1 1/2  teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed

2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon sour cream

salt to taste

fresh cilantro


Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 325°.  Heat oil in a large oven proof pot over medium high heat.  Season chicken with salt.  Working in two batches, cook chicken, reducing heat as needed to prevent over browning, until golden brown on all sides, 8 -10 minutes per batch.  Transfer to a plate.

Add butter and onions to pot, season with salt.  Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden brown, 10 – 15 minutes.

Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne.  Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in chickpeas and 2 cups broth.  Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot.  Add more broth if needed to cover chicken about three-fourths of the way up.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover pot and transfer to oven.  Braise chicken until fork-tender, 50 – 60 minutes.

Using tongs transfer chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Remove pot from the heat and stir sour cream or yogurt into cooking liquid.  Season with salt.  Return chicken to pot and warm over low heat (do not boil or sour cream may curdle).

Transfer chicken to a large deep platter,  Pour sauce over and sprinkle with cilantro.  Serve with wilted spinach and basmati rice.



Posted in Beans, Chicken, Dinner, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Creamy Chive Potatoes

Creamy Chive Potatoes This simple and delicious potato side dish is a dream come true.  Everything except the chives goes into a pot and simmers, for a short time until the half & half reduces and becomes a luscious coating for the creamy Yukon Gold potatoes. Luckily for me, being lactose intolerant, Organic Valley makes a lactose free half & half which is carried by Mana Foods in Paia.

Lactose Free Half & Half

Yukon Gold Potatoes It seems I’m never able to catch up with all the food magazines that I subscribe to.  There are stacks of them all over the living room and they get higher and higher as the months go by.  So every now and then I’ll plop down in my comfy chair and spend an hour or two looking through these food magazines wondering what I might have missed.  This recipe is a good example. It comes from Bon Appetit’s May 2013 issue that was delivered to my home nearly 2 years ago.

Yukons, Half & Half, Buttery Sticks What I love about this recipe is that it has just four ingredients, it’s ready in 30 minutes, and, most importantly, it’s delicious!

Chopped Chives These potatoes make a great side dish for steaks, roasted or grilled chicken, pork tenderloin or pork chops.  They are so good I even have the leftovers with eggs for breakfast.

Creamy Chive Potatoes

Creamy Chive Potatoes

Adapted from Bon Appetit


1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 1/2 cups half & half (I used lactose free Organic Valley half & half)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)

kosher salt

1/4 cup finely chopped chives


Combine potatoes, half & half, and butter in a large saucepan; season with salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender (the tip of a paring knife meets no resistance) and sauce is thick, about 20 minutes.

Season with salt; stir in most of the chives.  Top with remaining chives before serving.





Posted in Dinner, Lactose Free, Recipes, Side Dishes | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments