Before the last of our avocados disappeared for the season, I decided to make a quick lunch using the creamy and rich Green Gold fruit. Nothing could be easier and more satisfying than avocado toast. All you need is good bread, an avocado and salt and pepper. And maybe a dash of hot sauce too. But if you want to take it up just a notch, scatter some crispy bacon over the avocado and top it off with a jammy egg.
We have two varieties of avocados in our garden, both of which are winter bearing. The Sharwil is very popular here in Hawaii. It produces beautiful fruit, rich and creamy with small seeds. The Green Gold’s flesh is dense, rich and creamy, perfect for guacamole and avocado toast. I love both of our trees however, the Green Gold is a bit more dependable in producing a large crop each year.
John makes 9-grain bread that is perfect for avocado toast. It’s hearty and full of flavor from all of the grains that go into the bread. Whatever bread you use for avocado toast, make sure that it has structure and is not the airy, flavorless type you might find on some supermarket shelves.
One of the best supermarket brands of bacon is Daily’s. Use the best bacon that you can find.
2 - 4 pieces of crispy bacon, broken into bite-sized pieces
chives and Italian parsley, chopped
Cook the eggs: Bring ½-inch of water to a boil over medium high heat in a small pot (one with a tight fitting lid). Using tongs, gently lower eggs into the water and cover the pot. Adjust heat to maintain a gentle boil. Set a timer and cook the eggs for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Remove the eggs from the pot and run under cool water to stop the cooking (or place in an ice bath for a minute or two). Peel the eggs and set aside.
Spread mayonnaise on the toasted bread. Place avocado slices on the bread and mash lightly with a fork. Season with a little coarse salt and black pepper. Scatter bacon pieces over the mashed avocado. Slice each egg into even pieces, enough for each avocado toast. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Scatter chives and parsley over the top.
Our lemongrass is tucked away in the corner of the garden which means I forget that it’s there most of the time. It thrives with little attention year after year producing the most fragrant stalks. We love grilled chicken so when I came across a recipe for grilled chicken breasts with lemongrass in Fine Cooking magazine, I couldn’t resist it.
Once you peel away the tough outer stalks and cut into the stems, you will find the most fragrant and tender section of the lemongrass that will be used in the marinade.
This is a very easy recipe to put together. I used my immersion blender to combine the ingredients but a food processor or blender work just as well. Puree the ingredients until smooth, pour it over the chicken, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before you light up your grill.
Jasmine rice and a salad pair perfectly with the grilled chicken. If you have leftovers slice thin pieces of chicken and serve it over a bowl of cold noodles or use it as a filling in a banh mi.
¼ cup finely chopped lemongrass (from about 3 stalks)
6 fresh basil leaves
6 jalapeño nacho rings (hot) or 1 fresh jalapeño, or to taste
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
4 medium or 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed (I pound the chicken breasts to even them out and if using large breasts, cut the pounded pieces in half)
1 lime cut into wedges for serving
Combine cilantro, coconut milk, lemongrass, basil, jalapeños, garlic, salt, brown sugar, pepper, and coriander in your immersion blender cup and puree ingredients until smooth. Alternatively you may use a blender or food processor. Arrange chicken breasts in a nonreactive baking dish in a single layer. Pour the marinade over the breasts and turn to coat them well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
Heat a gas grill to medium high or prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. Grill the chicken until it has good grill marks on the first side, about 4 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until firm to the touch and completely cooked through, 4 minutes more (cooking time depends upon the thickness of your chicken). Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
During the holidays last year, I wanted to serve a main dish that would appeal to my vegetarian guests, but also be enjoyable for my other guests as well. This cheese and nut loaf turned out to be the perfect choice. It bakes into a gorgeous loaf that looks beautiful and tastes delicious. You can serve it alone or drizzle a vegetarian mushroom gravy or béchamel sauce over the slices before serving. The recipe comes from Deborah Madison’s The Greens cookbook named after the successful Greens Restaurant in San Francisco that still exists today. Unfortunately I don’t own the cookbook and it seems to be out of print, but after reading all the great comments on line from those who have made it and having made it myself, I can see why everyone loves it.
My husband John had a great idea, and that was to shape the cheese and nut loaf mixture into patties. This turned out to be our favorite way to eat the cheese and nut loaf. The burgers bake in just 30 minutes or so and they are so tasty nestled in a hamburger bun and topped with all of your favorite burger condiments. Another thing I’d like to mention is that both the loaf and burgers freeze beautifully and can be microwaved or pan-fried for another excellent meal.
Use whatever mushrooms are available to you. I used creminis and morels. These gorgeous morels were sent to us by my stepdaughter Katie who hunts for mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest.
One of the things I love most about our garden are the assorted herbs that we grow. If you don’t have them, most markets carry a nice assortment of herbs these days but you can also use dried herbs as well.
You will need to cook the brown rice in advance. Otherwise all of the other ingredients can be put together as you prepare the recipe. The mixture is gently formed and patted into baking rings that I made of aluminum foil. This keeps the patties from spreading when baking (they will flatten and become uneven when baking without the rings).
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons fresh chopped marjoram (or ½ teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage (or ½ heaping teaspoon dried)
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1½ cups cooked brown rice
8 ounces grated cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and yogurt cheese)
1 cup cottage cheese (I used lactose free)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spread walnuts and cashews on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast until very lightly golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate to cool slightly. Chop nuts finely and set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
For the loaf: Butter a 9" loaf pan and line with parchment paper allowing the paper to overhang on the sides to allow easy removal of the loaf.
Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in chopped nuts, herbs, garlic, brown rice, cheese, cottage cheese, and eggs. Mix in salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan, smoothing the top lightly.
Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before transferring loaf to a plate.
For the burgers: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. The patties will spread and flatten when baking unless you use cooking rings which will keep them uniform in size. I use aluminum foil folded over a few times and stapled the ends together to make sturdy, disposable rings. Coat inside of rings with non-stick cooking spray.
Divide the mixture into 10 - 12 portions. Gently form the patties so they fit snugly in the cooking rings. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the burgers are nicely browned. Remove cooking rings and serve burgers on toasted buns with your favorite accompaniments.
Both the loaf and burgers freeze nicely.
*For 4 - 6 burgers cut the recipe in half. The full recipe will also make an 8x4" loaf plus two burgers.
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!”
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
Tuna (ahi) tartare and poke in all its variations, are all the rage. There are also various versions of tuna burgers which incorporate many of the same ingredients as these popular dishes. This recipe, however, pays homage to the traditional steak tartare. It incorporates many of the classic ingredients that are found in steak tartare such as Dijon mustard, capers, shallots and chives. We love to grill these tasty tuna burgers and serve them on homemade brioche buns with Ina Garten’s tartar sauce.
Only very fresh fish makes its way into our kitchen. I always ask if the fish was cut the same morning, if not, I look elsewhere. Fish can be kept for a few days in the refrigerator and be just fine, but I favor fish that doesn’t sit around for very long. One of the most unpleasant things I can think of is opening up a package of smelly fish. So try to find the freshest ahi (tuna) that you can, even if it means taking a trip to another store.
All of the ingredients are mixed up together in a large bowl, then formed into patties. You can do this a few hours in advance which will help to firm up the patties before you grill them. Place the patties on individual pieces of parchment paper, cover loosely and store them in the refrigerator.
We ate two of the fish burgers for dinner, and the other two for lunch the following day. Wrapped in foil and placed in the toaster oven to warm up a bit, they were just as good as they were on the first day.
John is usually our designated bread baker. However, I have a few special breads that I make too, such as this soda bread which makes the best, crunchy, hearty toast. I fell in love with it the first time I made it. It’s simple to make with minimal hands on time. Let the grains and buttermilk soak while you do your errands, then mix everything together and bake this delicious soda bread.
One of my favorite ways to eat this bread is to toast it until it’s super crunchy, then generously spread it with cream cheese and homemade lilikoi jelly.
Millet, quinoa, amaranth, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, flax and sunflower seeds. Lots of “good for you” ingredients go into this bread.
Beautiful bread. Serve it with a pat of butter and honey or cream cheese and your favorite jam or jelly. It also makes the best avocado toast.
Mix millet, quinoa, amaranth, 1 cup oats, 1 cup buttermilk, and ½ cup water in a small bowl. Cover and let sit 8 hours. (Per the original recipe, you may alternatively bring ingredients to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and let sit until mixture is thick like porridge, about 2 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8" round cake pan.
Whisk whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseed, salt, baking soda, and ¼ cup sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Work in Buttery Sticks with your fingers until pieces are pea-size. Make a well in the center and add molasses, oat mixture, remaining 1¼ cups buttermilk, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is smooth, homogenous, and still slightly sticky.
The original recipe tells you to form dough into a ball and place in pan. My dough has always been very wet. I dust my hands with flour and quickly place the dough in the prepared pan. Continue with brushing the top with reserved buttermilk, oats and sunflower seeds. Cut a large X in the top and bake until nicely browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of loaf registers 190 degrees, about 70 minutes.
Let cool in pan for about 30 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Cut bread into slices and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze for up to a month.
This bread is fantastic served with butter and jelly or honey, or avocado, egg salad, smoked salmon, tuna salad… endless possibilities!