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°.



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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).






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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

The Best Ever Crispy Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema

Crispy Fish TacosTacos are one of my favorite foods regardless of the filling.  Corn tortillas fried briefly until crisp or warmed on a comal are simply delicious.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love Mexican cuisine.

Sliced Mahi MahiWe have lovely Mahi Mahi available  at our local markets and it makes the best crispy fish tacos.  You may substitute any other mild, white fish in this recipe. I purchased about 3/4 lb. Mahi Mahi and sliced it into 10 pieces. You could slice your fish into 8 pieces if you prefer.  This is my special version of a baja fish taco.

Battered Mahi MahiWhat makes it uniquely good is the incorporation of some basic Japanese ingredients and technique.  Dip the filets in a tempura batter mix, and dredge each piece in panko and you’re ready to go.

Panko Coated Mahi MahiIn just a few minutes you will have yourself a platter of crispy, fish filets.  Sometimes I’m tempted to dip them in tartar sauce, but tacos are just too yummy to pass up.

Avocado Crema

Shredded Cabbage, Limes, Pickled Jalapeños and Cilantro

Crispy Mahi Mahi Tacos

The Best Ever Crispy Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema

Serves 4 – 5

Avocado Crema

1/2 large avocado

2 tablespoons sour cream (I use Green Valley Lactose Free Sour Cream)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

few sprigs of cilantro

An immersion blender works perfectly for this.  Place all ingredients in a blending cup and blend for a few seconds until the ingredients are well combined.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Fish Tacos


3/4 pound fresh fish filet, sliced into 8 – 10 pieces

4 tablespoons tempura batter mixed with just enough ice-cold water to create the consistency of thin pancake batter

1 cup panko flakes

canola oil for deep-frying and warming corn tortillas

8 – 10 corn tortillas


Heat canola oil for deep-frying.  Most suggest heating the oil to 360 degrees.  I usually skip the temperature reading step and test the oil by drizzling a tiny amount of batter into the oil.  If the batter crisps up nicely, I start frying!  I use a small sauce pan, 7 – 8 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches in height, and add canola oil 2 inches up the side of the pan.  A small Dutch Oven would work perfectly as well.

Place tempura batter in a wide bowl, add ice water and stir just until ingredients are combined.  Remember to keep the batter light, and don’t over mix.

Place panko in a wide plate or shallow bowl.  Dip fish pieces into tempura batter, letting excess batter drip off.  Place fish into panko bowl and coat well.

Once oil is hot, fry half of the fish until nicely browned and crisp, about 1 minute.  Keep in mind that you don’t want to over crowd the pan when frying.  This will drop the oil temperature drastically and your fish fillets won’t brown quickly.

Drain on paper towel lined plate.  Continue to fry the remaining filets.  Warm tortillas in lightly oiled cast iron skillet or sauté pan on medium high heat. Cover with foil and keep warm.

I like to serve the fish with avocado crema, finely shredded cabbage, cilantro,  hot sauce and pickled jalapeños. Delicious!

Posted in Dinner, Fish, Lactose Free, Mexican, Recipes, Sauces | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sesame Tofu

Sesame Tofu I’m always thinking of new ways to prepare tofu.  It’s far more versatile than most people realize, which is one reason I just love it!  Sliced and sprinkled with fresh ginger, green onions and a drizzle of soy sauce, baked with herbs, sprinkled with nutritional yeast, or pan-fried in a number of ways, tofu is one of my favorite foods.  Roasted sesame seeds are another favorite food of mine, and combined with tofu, they can be transformed into the perfect meal.

Pressed and sliced extra firm tofuExtra firm tofu, water pressed out (I love my TofuXpress) is most important for this recipe.  Served with brown rice and a crunchy chopped salad, tofu skeptics will be thoroughly surprised at how  satisfying this meal can be.  Try it! If you do not have a TofuXpress, drain your tofu between a clean, lint free kitchen towel or a thick layer of paper towels. Place a cutting board over the top with a few canned goods, a book or a heavy skillet for about 1/2 hour.

Soy sauce, sesame oil garlic and ginger marinadeA quick dip in the marinade, then pan-fried until the sesame seeds are super fragrant and crunchy, this is a quick, savory and simple dish.  It keeps well for a few days and is a tasty home lunch.

Sesame Tofu

Sesame Tofu

Serves 2 as a main dish


1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and water pressed out (Wildwood SprouTofu, extra firm is recommended)

4 tablespoons lite soy sauce (Kikkoman recommended)

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil (Kadoya recommended)

2 -3 teaspoons finely minced garlic

2 – 3 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger root

1/3 cup roasted sesame seeds, white and black mixed

1 tablespoon corn starch


Slice pressed tofu into seven even slabs, or just under 3/4 inches thick.  Slice each piece in half, lengthwise. Place on a paper towel while you make the marinade.

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.  Place tofu slices in dish, in a single layer.  Turn to coat all sides of tofu.  This may take just a few minutes.

Transfer the tofu slices to a plate and cut each piece in half, crosswise, to make shorter sticks.

Mix 1/3 cup sesame seeds with corn starch in a shallow bowl or plate.  Place a few pieces of tofu in the sesame seed mixture and press gently to coat both the top and bottom.  Remove to a plate and continue to coat all of the tofu.

Heat a tablespoon of canola oil over medium high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all tofu pieces in a single layer.  Once the oil is hot, gently place tofu in the skillet.  Turn heat down to medium and cook the tofu until nicely browned, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Check a piece to make sure the sesame seeds and garlic are not burning.  Turn the tofu pieces over to brown the other side for another 4 – 5 minutes or so. I find it best to use a thin spatula to turn the pieces.  Just be careful when doing so as the sesame seeds have a tendency to fall off.  I quickly browned the two sides that are not coated with sesame seeds, by turning the pieces on their side for just  a minute.

Serve warm with brown rice and a chopped salad.  If you have leftovers, the tofu keeps well for at least 3 days.



Posted in Dinner, Lactose Free, Recipes, Tofu, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Maui Sweet Corn Chowder

Maui Sweet Corn ChowderThe climate in Hawaii couldn’t be better these days.  “Best weather on the planet” as Hawaiian weatherman Guy Hagi puts it!  The blazing summer heat is gone, at least for several more months.  Everyone I know, looks forward to this time of year.  Believe it or not, you may even have to dig out that sweater tucked away in the closet.  So, what better time of the year than now to make a big pot of corn chowder?

Sylvester's Sweet Maui CornHawaiian Moons grocery store has the best fresh, sweet corn.  I bought some the other day and noticed the label on the package: Maui Grown – Legendary Sylvester’s Sweet Corn.  I don’t know who Sylvester is, but I can tell you that his corn is fabulous.

Yukon Potato Cubes, Diced Ham, Maui Corn Yukon Golds are my favorite potatoes to use in corn chowder.  Their firm but creamy texture holds up well in this recipe.  If I have leftover baked ham from a special occasion dinner, I freeze thick slices and use it in corn chowder.  Most of the time, I ask the deli to cut a 1/2 inch thick slice of ham (Safeway’s Ham Off The Bone or Black Forest Ham).  You can use bacon instead of ham if you prefer.

Maui Sweet Corn Chowder

Maui Sweet Corn Chowder

Makes 8 cups


1 1/2 tablespoons butter (I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)

1 cup diced onion

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 14.5 ounce can chicken broth

2 cups (about 1 pound) peeled, cubed potatoes 1/2 inch thick (Yukon Gold)

2 cups whole milk (I use lactose free milk)

1 14.75 ounce can creamed corn

4 ears fresh corn (about 3 cups corn kernels removed from cobs with sharp knife)

1 3/4 cups diced ham (about 10 ounces)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

fresh chives (optional)


Heat butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onions, and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add flour and stir continuously for 1 minute.  Pour in chicken broth, stirring well.  Add diced potatoes making sure they are submerged beneath the broth mixture.  Adjust heat to medium low, cover pot and simmer potatoes in broth for about 12 – 15 minutes. Give them a stir now and then.  Check for doneness at 12 minutes.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your potato cubes. If your cubes are on the small side, check for doneness after 10 minutes. Potatoes should be barely tender.  They will continue to cook further once other ingredients are added to the pot.

Once the potatoes are just tender, add the milk, creamed corn, fresh corn kernels and ham.Turn the heat up to medium, and simmer until potatoes are fully cooked and the chowder has thickened and reduced a bit, about 10 – 15 minutes.  Add salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a few pinches of cayenne.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Sprinkle minced chives over chowder before serving.

*The chowder freezes well.  Gently reheating on the stove is suggested, rather than using the microwave (stove top  heating produces a rich, creamy texture where as the microwave will give you watery chowder).

Posted in Dinner, Lactose Free, Recipes, Soups | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments