Tropical bounty

Friends 1991

Friends 1992, pastel on paper, ~22 x 30 inches

Someone in the neighborhood is roasting coffee.  The deep, burnt, delicious smell competes with the sweet aroma of the flowering coffee trees growing down below the lanai where I write this.  These are our last days in Holualoa and I seek to hold on to the sights and fragrance of this paradise to lighten the cold snowy days awaiting us back home.

And I want a last taste of the bounty of this place, the avocados, papayas, tangerines, coffee, bananas, limes and lemons and the fish.

lemon tree2

The old lemon tree growing in front of the studio fell down last week.  I hadn’t been able to pick the lemons growing  high up in the thorned branches until the tree lay on its side, the Kona lemons now within my reach.  A sad sight indeed.

The lemons are large and lumpy, and very juicy.  I squeezed a few to make the base for lemonade lightly sweetened with a sugar syrup.

For some reason, I hadn’t yet baked banana muffins, a favorite made with apple bananas, small and delicately tart.  With our imminent departure, I quickly whipped up a batch to accompany our lunchtime salad.

banana muffins

This recipe makes a good loaf of banana bread too.

Cream together 6 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar.  Stir in 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 mashed apple bananas (or 2 regular). Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1 cup macadamia nuts (or walnuts). Bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Makes 10 muffins.

Ka Lae 2001

Ka Lae 2001, oil on canvas, ~40 x 72 inches

Over the years, Hawaii has provided me with many images from which to make paintings and drawings.  The drawing of Bud and Hiroki, at the top of this post, hangs in the Morinoue dining room in Holualoa.  We had dinner there a few days ago and I took great pleasure in seeing it.  One of the guests, not knowing I was the artist, commented that she had been admiring the piece. What more acknowledgement can I ask?

Fishing

Fishing 1993, oil on canvas, about 60 x 40 inches

We’ve eaten a lot of fish while here, ahi, mahimahi, marlin.  Grilled at Lava Java by the sea wall down in Kona, sushi up north in Hawi at Sushi Rock and at Shiona in Kona for my birthday.  I like to sear a hunk of ahi to top a salad.

ahi2

So, as we visit our favorite beach and seaside walk, bid goodbye to dear friends, and eat the last papaya for breakfast, we say aloha and mahalo to this lovely place.

Looking Back 004

Leaving Hawaii 2001, charcoal on paper, ~30 x 64 inches

Avocados in Holualoa

opening coconuts (1)

Opening Coconuts 1992, pastel on paper, 20 x 30 inches  (Hiroki and Miho)

 

The enormous old avocado tree next to the house has been delivering its fruit to the doorstep here in Holualoa.  It is thrilling to find huge avocados, barely grazed from their fall, waiting to be made into guacamole and added to every salad and salsa.

Don Ed Hardy has been with us to make prints with Bud.  He’s a great help in eating the plentitude of avocados and in adding three lovely prints to the Shark’s Ink. collection.

But there are so many avocados!  After a week of this bounty, I have reconciled to discarding all but the perfect ones.  Paging through my little Hawaii cooking notebook I found several avocado recipes I had forgotten. So, for dinner with John and Debby, I made a cold avocado soup (recipe in How I Learned to Cook…), first made with Bob Kushner. Simple to make in the blender, it is a combination of one large avocado, coconut milk, yogurt, jalapeño, and spices.  Very more-ish.

focaccia

I made a focaccia to serve alongside. Next came a favorite salad I make only in Holualoa ─  Papaya and Shrimp.  We eat papayas each morning here and often in a salsa or this salad.  They are a welcome addition to our Hawaii diet.

ingredients

For the salad, one and a half papayas, cubed, a julienned cucumber, a pound of cooked shrimp, avocado chunks, and macadamia nuts are chilled, then tossed with the dressing:

3 tablespoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce, (or a big pinch of hot pepper flakes), 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger, 2 minced green onions, and a small handful of cilantro, chopped. 

The original recipe in Pacific Flavors called for a diced red pepper but I didn’t have one.  Serve over a bed of lettuces or spinach.

papaya shrimp salad

Another recipe, for an avocado chocolate pudding from my friend Cydney, awaits another dinner party.  Meanwhile, who wants guacamole?

sunset

A New Year

Lunch at Greens

Lunch at Greens 2008, oil on canvas, 18 x 44 inches

My new year has arrived with resolutions and menus that include dishes made with simple winter ingredients.  We received some wonderful food gifts for Christmas ─ jams and salsa from Zoë, a Spanish food assortment from James and Noriko and interesting olive oil and vinegar from sister Susan to add to the beans, grains and root vegetables of the season.

gifts 2

Instead of my usual habit of hoarding these special nibbles, I decided to use them without delay.  So we had grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with mustard and Zoë’s strawberry/balsamic jam.  Delish!  And shrimp and butternut squash tacos garnished with her Peach Salsa. The candied walnuts and Susan’s pecans quickly disappeared.

Included in our Spanish gift box were two jars of tuna packed in olive oil, something I have eyed in the La Tienda catalog but never ordered.  Anxious to taste it, I fashioned a tuna and bean salad, with white cassoulet beans from my Rancho Gordo stash.

ingredients

I warmed the cooked beans so the dressing would permeate more completely.

beans

Then dressed them in a combination of lemon juice, mustard, minced garlic (for garlic-allergic Jan, use a shallot), a splash of the lemon-infused olive oil, salt, and some plain olive oil.

dressing

Added two stalks of thinly sliced celery and three julienned radishes, then the broken up tuna.

ready to plateI plated the salad into two servings, then garnished them with chopped parsley, dill, and shaved parmesan.  Served while the beans were still a bit warm.

the salad

At the last minute I decided to add a soft-boiled egg to each plate.  I recently learned an excellent, quick method for cooking eggs ─ steam them. (Thanks to Kenji López-Alt.)

In a  pot with a steamer basket bring an inch of water to a boil.  Add the eggs, straight from the fridge.  Steam for 6-7 minutes for a runny yolk, 9-10 minutes for a ‘hard-boiled’ egg.  I find this method fast and dependable, especially when I want a soft egg.  (I live at 6000 feet so adjust your timing accordingly.)

with egg

Serve the salad warm or at room temperature with slices of crusty bread and butter.

One of my resolutions for 2020 is to clear out the freezer and the pantry of past-their-prime foods or forgotten items.  I had a frozen tub of sourdough starter saved  for several years and wanted to see if it still had life.  I nursed it along with daily infusions of water and flour until it was bubbly and fragrant.

bread

I used a combination of recipes and memories to concoct loaves to bake in a covered cast iron casserole.  One new trick is to do the final rise in a bowl lined with parchment.  Then lift the risen dough into the very hot casserole.  No inverting and having dough stick, or getting a painful burn.

I’ll continue to comb through my cupboards, spice drawer and the freezer for other forgotten goodies to enhance our winter meals.

Buon Appetito!

 

 

Winter comforts

Beehive Michael and me

Mussels at the Beehive 2002, charcoal on paper, 22 x 20 inches

After our travels and a lovely traditional Thanksgiving with family, I have gotten into winter cooking.  I try to resist buying out-of-season vegetables and figure out new ways to cook roots, brassicas, and hearty greens.

A current favorite is bucatini with butternut squash and taleggio.  This pasta looks like spaghetti but has a tiny opening right through each strand.  It is chewy and delicious. Use whatever pasta shape you have but I recommend seeking out bucatini.

First roast a peeled and sliced (about 1/2 inch) small butternut squash, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, at 400° for 20 minutes.  Turn and roast another 10-15 minutes until browned and tender.

roasting squash

Cut into bite-sized pieces (1 inch) and set aside.  Put water on to boil for the bucatini.  I figure 4-5 ounces for the two of us, but you know your appetite, so cook as much as you like.  Here on Blue Mountain Road at 6000 feet, this takes 9 minutes. While the strands are cooking prepare the other ingredients.

taleggio

Sauté a thinly sliced shallot in olive oil in a pan that will hold the pasta.  Add the squash to the pan with a scoop of pasta water.  Keep warm.  Prepare 4 ounces of the taleggio – the rind should be removed and the cheese torn or cut into 1/2 inch bits. This is a soft, tangy  cheese and will melt into the pasta to make a delicious sauce.  Finely chop a good handful of Italian parsley.

Test the pasta for doneness and a nice chew.  Drain and toss with the shallots and squash, adding a tablespoon butter. Add the taleggio and top with parsley.

ready to toss

For a variation:  last week I had mushrooms that needed cooking so added them to the dish with a handful of toasted, chopped walnuts.  Cook the mushrooms in a hot skillet filmed with oil, do not turn or toss, let them brown. This brings out their woodsy flavor. When the mushrooms have released from the pan, add some chopped garlic and toss. Lower the heat and let cook a bit longer until tender.pasta

A favorite dish at Basta in Boulder was their roasted vegetable salad (no longer on the menu). I used the idea to make a warm salad with veggies I had in the fridge ─ brussel sprouts left over from Thanksgiving, butternut squash, golden beets, onions and red pepper.  I peeled the squash and beets,  cut them into similar sizes, sliced the sprouts 1/4 inch thick, cut the onion and pepper into chunks, tossed with plenty of olive oil , salt and pepper.

roasting veggies

I roasted them at 400° for 20 minutes, turned, and cooked another 10 – 15 minutes until tender.  In the last 10 minutes I added chunks of bread (large crouton size) tossed with oil and minced garlic to crisp up and provide another texture to the mix.

roasted veg

Squeeze a half a lemon over the veggies and serve warm or at room temperature.  If I had had any, I might have tossed in some arugula to brighten the salad, but it is delicious as is.

salad2

Travels

IMG-1942

From left, Jennifer Doran, me, Barbara Takenaga, Fred Stonehouse, Bud, Claire Sherman, Jim Robischon

In late October, we spent a week in New York exhibiting at the Print Fair. We made time to see several exhibitions including Bob Kushner at DC Moore and Hung Liu at Nancy Hoffman, and catch up with colleagues and friends.

One night I made Bud, Roseanne and me dinner at home (Cynthia and Bob’s great loft) ─ a butternut squash risotto, and one night we invited our printmaking pal Pam Paulson to join us for an omelet supper.  Otherwise, we ate at favorite, easy restaurants such as Cafeteria and Westville.  I used  my hand surgery to be excused from making any dinner parties.  Next year.

After packing up the booth on Sunday evening we woke early on Monday to catch a flight to London to visit our dear friends Bernard and Jeannie Cohen and family.

Bernard at Canyon de Chelly  1993, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches; Evening in the Desert 1993, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches

London was damp, cool and bustling.  We stayed with Bernard and Jeannie in Camberwell and learned to navigate our way into the center of London.  We visited our old neighborhood, Kew, and the Royal Botanic Gardens and had lunch at the Maids of Honor, hardly changed in 50 years.

Kew 3Kew 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Kew was top of my to-do list and eating at an Ottolenghi restaurant was second.  I use Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks regularly and wanted to experience his version of the food.  Bernard, Jeannie, Bud and I made a lunch reservation at Nopi, just off Regent Street.

Wow.  From the warm welcome and stylish, simple dining room  to the amazing food, we had a smashing lunch. As Bernard said, it’s rare to have a restaurant meal where everything is delicious and memorable.  We ate polenta chips (fries), cauliflower and green bean fritters, sea bream with an agrodolce and lemon yogurt garnish, squid with baby artichokes, a blackcurrant sorbet ─ like deeply flavored velvet, and  a nut brittle─ a thin cracker topped with caramel, chocolate and salty nuts.  Amazing.

Liberty of London was also on my to visit list.  Bud waited in an easy chair while I perused the stacks of fabric bolts, wondering how I could choose.  I finally picked two, one for me, one for Roseanne, realizing almost any piece would be a good one.  Now it was past lunch time and we were near Warwick Street and Nopi.  Perhaps we could score a table.

Again the gracious staff took our coats and lead us to wait at the standing bar. Fortified with a small bowl of complimentary spiced nuts we watched as others finished their meals, until a table was ready.  Our waiter, remembering us said, Weren’t you here yesterday? and we were off to another lovely lunch.

We ate green beans with freekeh and miso, roasted eggplant with a tamarind flavored yogurt (fabulous), the sea bream because it had been so delicious we couldn’t resist a repeat.  We finished with roasted pineapple accompanied by coconut ice cream and macadamia nut crumbles.  All the dishes simple and perfect ─ my kind of cooking.

After a long flight home we had time to re-combobulate and do laundry before departing for Savannah and our niece Hilary’s retirement from the Coast Guard ceremony.

 

The Splinter.jpg

The Splinter 2007, oil on canvas, 22 x 22 inches

Hilary flew over the hangar where her family and friends waited, dipping her helicopter in a salute while we all cheered.  Thrilling.  The ceremony was moving and funny, with her compatriots speaking of her exceptional qualities and stellar service.  She gave a wonderful speech, relating how she first became a Marine, then a helicopter pilot.  All through the ceremony were moments when I teared up, touched by the camaraderie and love being expressed.

We stayed with Bud’s hospitable cousins in the center of Savannah.  Arnold treated us to dinner at The Grey, Chef Mashama Bailey’s restaurant in a repurposed Greyhound station building.  Another memorable meal, beginning with popcorn!  And fabulous popcorn ─ dressed with clarified butter and nutritional yeast.  We ate delicious, rich, cornbread.  I ordered a turnip bisque, curious to taste this unusual restaurant offering.  Creamy, vegetal and topped with gremolata. I followed this with middlins (broken Carolina rice bits), with shrimp, a kind of southern risotto.

We’re home now, ready to settle back into our life of printing, for Bud, and painting and writing, for me.  I am inspired to try some new flavors in my winter cooking.  Stay tuned.

 

The last of summer

fall coat

Autumn Coat 2013, oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches

Today is sunny and warm but the forecast for the rest of the week is for cold weather, very cold, with rain and snow predicted.  My garden is unruly and overgrown as I hadn’t been able to do much over the summer with my bum hand.  I did put in tomato plants but a severe hail storm in June set them back.  They  recovered and I picked the last of them today along with a bit of basil and a handful of green beans.

 

Our friend Sally came for lunch last week and I decided to offer a last ode to summer.  I made a zucchini soup.

This is a recipe from Deborah Madison in her marvelous Local Flavors cook book.  I served the soup cold but it is equally delicious warm.  There is a mystery ingredient that makes it irresistible so read on…

First, roast a couple poblanos.  I do this over the open flame on my gas range but use whatever method you prefer.  Peel and seed them and chop into 1/2 inch squares.

poblanos and cilantro

Next, cut a medium sized zucchini, about 12-16 ounces, into 1/2 inch pieces.  Thinly slice a medium onion, red or yellow.  Chop the stems from a bunch of cilantro into small pieces; chop and set aside the leaves.

zucchini and onions

Saute the onion, zucchini, cilantro stems, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped mint, in 3 tablespoons safflower oil until onions are tender and zucchini limp, about ten minutes.

soup pot

Add the poblanos, 2 corn tortillas torn in pieces (the mystery ingredient), 5-6 cups water or chicken stock and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer until the veggies are soft then add the cilantro leaves.  Cool then puree in a blender.  Season to taste with salt and serve, hot or cold, with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and a wedge of lime.

zucchini soup

With the soup I served a farro and fresh corn salad, combining summer and fall tastes.  The salad included roasted poblanos, cilantro and pine nuts.  The dressing is one I frequently use with grain salads ─ juice of a lime, a finely chopped clove of garlic, a teaspoon of ground cumin, a big pinch of hot red pepper flakes, salt, olive oil.

farro salad

The soup and salad were accompanied by a baguette from the St. Vrain Market (highly recommended), an assortment of cheeses and a tomato and basil salad simply dressed with salt and olive oil.

lunch

So autumn is here and my cooking begins its seasonal change. Baking has taken a turn toward recipes I associate with the cold.  Lately I’ve made  date bars and ginger snaps.

For the date bars, pit and chop about 20 dates, enough to make 2 cups.

dates

Then make a batter with 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed, 1/2 cup unbleached flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the dates and 1 cup of broken walnuts. The dough will be stiff and thick.  Spread in a buttered 8 inch square pan and bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes until firm and brown.  Cool on a rack.

batter

Makes 16-25 depending on how you cut them.

date bars

We have changed our bedding to a down comforter and turned on the furnace.  Sad to see summer end with the Zweck’s farm stand now closed and my garden dry and about to be frosted.  I am ready, maybe, to be inspired by autumn and winter recipes.

Hot summer, cold soup

path (3)

Path 2001, oil on canvas, 72 x 54 inches

In the last seven weeks four artists have come to stay with us and make prints at Shark’s Ink.  I wrote about Fred Stonehouse in my last post.  Claire Sherman arrived after Fred and made a lovely, large lithograph using  broad brushstrokes – a multilayered landscape, green and mysterious.  She had time to complete a second, small, exquisite image of a waterfall, again, abstracted with her painterly marks.

I had been struggling with severe carpal tunnel pain in my right hand, so by the time the next artist, Amy Ellingson, arrived, I was ready for surgery.  Amy and Bud worked on her first prints at Shark’s, two large lithos made from digital files and printed in many colors,  creating a labyrinth, a lattice, a map, with tunnels and windows of color. (This is a studio shot of one of the prints.)

amy's print

And I learned to cook using my left hand.  Not so hard if you must do it.  The doc said to  keep the dressing dry and clean and I tried but it’s not a pretty sight after a week in the kitchen.  Amy was most accommodating and helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her over coffee and granola, drinking delicious wine at dinner on the porch, and talking of our lives.

Over the seven weeks, we had dinner parties, inviting friends to join us.  For several I made a simple starter, a cold cantaloupe soup.  Truly more than the sum of its parts, I devised the recipe after having had a similar soup years ago in Barcelona.

For four to six small servings, sauté half a medium sized onion, chopped, in two tablespoons of olive oil until tender and golden.

onions

Meanwhile, cut up a two pound cantaloupe and toss into the blender. Add the onion and whizz until perfectly smooth.

melon

Add salt to taste.  Chill well (I made this the day before) and serve in small cups with a drizzle of olive oil and something salty and crisp alongside – a hunk of focaccia or a home made cracker.  (Check out the new Search button in the side bar to find recipes in previous posts).

Enrique Chagoya is here this week and as it’s been very hot, we have had salads for lunch.  I read about a new salad dressing and had tried it out on Amy (we liked it) – made with feta and buttermilk.

Mash 2-4 ounces of feta, the kind that comes in a water bath.  Add 1/3 cup buttermilk, a minced, mashed clove of garlic, a couple tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, the zest of a small lemon and juice from half of it, and, if you like, some olive oil to thin the mix.

salad with feta dressing

Most of my salads don’t need a recipe but rely on what’s in the fridge. I depend on a stock of wonderful vegetables from Zweck’s farm and tidbits leftover from dinner.  Today’s salad featured smoked trout accompanied by green beans, tomatoes, avocado, black beans dressed with olive oil, cumin, chile flakes, mint, and a few slices of a delicious Colorado peach.

smoked trout salad