star noodle

A MUST visit on Maui

Our family just returned from a blissful ten day vacation on the island of Maui, or as I call it, “Maui by fork!” We love our food and have our favorites but we branched out this trip and discovered some new favorites (see previous post on Leodas). You know a restaurant is good when you feel compelled to visit it twice on the same vacation. “We ARE going to Star Noodle again, right?” said my kids.  And so we did.

Star Noodle is nestled at the top of a hill in a nondescript business park – the major landmarks being a church and an outdoor Flying Trapeze studio. The benign exterior gives way to a light and lively interior anchored by a full-service bar offering sake and daily specialty cocktails as well as a long communal table bustling with different groups of locals and tourists. The place is jammed. The vibe is inviting. Their style of food is simple but long on flavor and creativity, “Serving Fresh House made Noodles & Asian Specialties.”

Culinary Bliss Awaits

Culinary Bliss Awaits

 The first time we went to Star Noodle we arrived at the height of lunch hour and waited 30 minutes, which gave my mom and I time to sip on the cocktail of the day featuring some sort of muddled native herb, Absolut Citron vodka and Diamond sake. If you are a “need it now, instant gratification” type, you can call ahead to put your name on the wait list or you can order from Starstruck, the restaurant’s food truck parked adjacent to the restaurant, offering a modified menu and a few picnic tables for eating.

Starstruck Food Truck Lead

We feasted on food that can only be described as intoxicating. Apparently, we were eating so enthusiastically that the couple next to us commented (out loud) that we were scarfing.” Of course, we struck up a conversation and compared notes and restaurants as they were visiting from New York for the first time.

Cocktail of the day: Asian Pear muddled in Pear vodka+Diamond Sake+Lime Sour

Our Cocktail of the day on the second visit: Asian Pear muddled in Pear vodka+Diamond Sake+Lime Sour

I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but if you find yourself visiting the island of Maui, find yourself visiting “Star Noodle.” Some things you have to experience for yourself and this is one of them. And let’s not overlook the restaurant’s moniker that says it all – S-T-A-R!

 

Pohole Salad: Hana Fiddle Fern, Maui Onion, Ebi & Kombu

Pohole Salad: Hana Fiddle Fern, Maui Onion, Shrimp, Ebi & Kombu (my kids loved this so much we had two orders)

 

Steamed Pork Buns: Duroc Pressed Pork, Hoisin, Shiitake, Cucumber

Steamed Pork Buns: Duroc Pressed Pork, Hoisin, Shiitake, Cucumber (dreaming of these)

 

Scallop Shooters: Wafu Dashi, Ginger, Scallion, Lemon EVOO (ahhhmazing)

Scallop Shooters: Wafu Dashi, Ginger, Scallion, Lemon EVOO (ahhhmazing)

 

Chicken Satay

Yakitori: Chicken, Teriyaki Glaze, Scallion, Sesame Seeds

 

Organic Buckwheat Soba: Daikon, Wasabi, Scallion, Ginger, Tsuyu (served cold; refreshing, delicious and healthy)

Organic Buckwheat Soba: Daikon, Wasabi, Scallion, Ginger, Tsuyu (served cold; refreshing, delicious and healthy)

 

Pad Thai Lead

Pad Thai: Rice Noodles, Chicken, Shrimp, Egg, Peanuts, Garlic and Chives

 

Garlic noodles

Garlic Noodles: Fresh & Fried Garlic, Dashi, Green Onion

 

Malasada3

Malasadas: Portuguese Inspired Doughnuts Served with Chocolate and Caramel Sauces and Macadamia Nuts

These were some of our favorites after two visits but the Star Noodle menu is extensive and varied. There is something for everyone!

Entertaining Ourselves While Waiting for A Table

Entertaining ourselves while waiting for a table

 

Simple artwork and a clean decor make Star Noodle all about the FOOD

Simple artwork and a clean decor make Star Noodle all about the FOOD

Star Noodle can be found at 286 Kupuohi Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 92761
(808) 667-5400

leoda’s kitchen and pie shop, maui

There’s a feeling you get every time you return to a place you love – a certain familiarity and time tested traditions you rely upon. One of those places for me is the island of Maui. My parents discovered it for the first time in the early 70’s and brought us almost every summer to visit.

I remember the days of flight attendants garmented in long flowy Hawaiian dresses with leis around their necks and orchids in their high tight buns. My mom always dressed my sister and me in matching Hawaiian dresses for the flight. And as soon as we stepped off the tarmac, the overwhelming feeling of excitement was hard to temper especially with the warm tradewinds blowing, ukeleles playing and greetings of “Aloha” and friendly smiles from every person you passed. I don’t know how many times I have visited this place but it’s close to 40 I would imagine. That’s how my family is…we find something we love and we stick with it. We have explored some other wonderful places but our hearts always lead us back here. And now we have passed that love on to our own kids. Whenever they are asked about vacation spots, they always say, “We want to go to Hawaii,” and we have been fortunate enough to carry on the tradition.
Leodas Lead 2

On our way in from the airport this year we noticed that Chez Paul, a long standing landmark restaurant was gone. Replacing the landmark in tiny Olowalu town was Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop. We didn’t think anything of it UNTIL some New Yorkers we were sitting next to at lunch mentioned that we should try it. Apparently, the way we were all “scarfing” down the food (their words) made them think we would appreciate good food and good pie. And, of course, they were right.

We hit Leoda’s after a rousing tennis match with our stomachs churning for food. Leoda’s did not disappoint. The place is quaint, warm and homey. Wood floors, bright white tile, soft hanging lights, a large vintage sideboard housing cups, napkins, silverware, condiments and a display of cake stands and plenty of high and low tables to sit and enjoy your food which is served in vintage pie tins. Their approach to food is this, “Our menu features hand crafted specialties made fresh daily using only Maui’s freshest ingredients. We take a unique approach to many classic or traditional favorites…we call it glorified grandma comfort food.”
Leodas Lead 3

We stood in line to order and despite the size of the line, it moved quickly, pressuring us to make a decision after looking at all the different and yummy choices on people’s plates. The various choices are hand-written on chalkboards flanked by a Daily Specials Board, a listing of local farms the food comes from and an abundantly filled display case of mini-handmade pies and pastries. Known for their sweet and savory pies and their homemade breads, we had a little bit of everything…the Chocolate Mac Nut pie, the Olowalu Lime pie and the Chicken Pot pie, and those were just the items we shared. Amongst the food we ordered was Leoda’s burger, homemade fries with a garlic aioli dipping sauce, a roasted pork hoagie smothered in onions and sauce, a cobb salad with amazing greens, a fried salad (my order) which had fresh greens topped with slim pieces of flash fried brussel sprouts in an orange vinaigrette, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made from thick pieces of Leoda’s homemade bread.

Leodas Lead 4

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop is a must visit. There’s always something new to discover in a place you love. We are planning on visiting Leoda’s again before our vacation ends. Aloha!

veggie crustless quiche

Spring has sprung and this delicious quiche recipe reminds me of a Spring Break road trip I took in college. While many of my college friends went home for Spring Break, a few of my girlfriends and I loaded up my Mitsubishi Eclipse (it was the bomb back then!), and took off on a culinary adventure.  After many Hardee’s hamburgers and  countless Wendy’s frosties (let’s face it, that is all that you can afford in college) we stumbled upon this great little café called Chelsea’s and The Village Tea Room in the Biltmore Village in Asheville, NC. At an early age, I had already acquired a love for quaint restaurants, good recipes and unique cookbooks, so before leaving, I purchased their cookbook. Luckily for me, I found this delicious, crustless quiche recipe hidden inside it’s pages and have been whipping up many versions of this wonderful quiche recipe for the past 20 years.
Asheville, NC is such a beautiful mountain town, especially in the  Spring and Fall. If you visit Asheville, plan to spend a day exploring the Biltmore Estate. This large estate was built between 1889 and 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II and is the largest privately owned house in the United States.  Another Asheville secret is the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa which is one of the South’s best-loved resorts with spectacular views of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains. This hotel has been completely renovated and has over 100 years of history tucked inside.

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Ingredients:
8 eggs, scrambled
2 Tb heavy cream
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Provolone cheese, grated
2 cups of quiche filling (examples below)

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add all other quiche ingredients and stir to combine.

Spray a rimmed pie dish or quiche pan with cooking spray. Pour quiche filling into your pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until set. Allow quiche to cool about 10 minutes before serving. This can be made the night before.

Quiche filling ideas:
Shrimp and dill
Mixed vegetables
Bacon, onion and feta
Veggie sausage and veggie
Broccoli and bacon
Artichoke, red pepper, olive and feta

IMG_5190

PicMonkey Collage

st. pat’s day feast

Having grown up with an Irish father who was devoted to his heritage and roots, I thought everyone LOVED corned beef and cabbage. And while I have since learned that may not be altogether true, this Irish preparation by Bobby Flay will make believers out of those with the most dubious palates.

Follow Bobby Flay’s surefire hit for Corned Beef and other additions below to round out your Irish Feast, and your guests will leave wishing St. Patrick’s Day was more than once a year!

(1) No Irish Feast is complete without Jameson Irish whiskey (2) Rather than boiled cabbage, put together a hash using golden brown bacon (see below), shredded cabbage, shaved brussel sprouts, shredded carrots and diced red potatoes (3) Bake a loaf of Ina Garten’s Irish soda bread as an accompaniment (4) A crisp and perfect salad is made of Butter lettuce, dried cranberries, blood oranges, Irish Soda Bread croutons, a sprinkling of Gruyere and a light vinaigrette salad dressing (5) Before the meal begins, read a tried and true Irish Blessing (we always select one of our children to read the blessing) (6) Decorate each table setting with something new and something traditional. Here, we paired monogrammed vintage napkins with a sequined shamrock tied with heavy twine (7) The complete meal

Now for the STAR {Corned Beef} of the show…I came across this recipe a few years back while seeing Bobby Flay on CBS Morning News. I decided to follow his recipe and couldn’t stop eating – it’s that good. The recipe is easy because you still follow the very basic directions for cooking Corned Beef. Once the Corned Beef is cooked through, the extra elements add an elevated essence that is unparalleled.

St. Pat's Lead 1

Ingredients
Whole prepared Corned Beef (follow directions on label but allow 3 to 4 hours for cooking)
Bobby Flay Spice Rub for Meat
Canola oil
1 pound bacon
Dijon mustard
Whole grain mustard
Honey
Prepared horseradish
Chervil, for garnish

Ingredients for Spice Rub for Meat
3 Tb dry mustard
1 1/2 Tb dried oregano
1 Tb chili powder
1/2 Tb garlic powder
1/2 Tb black pepper
1/2 Tb sea salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp celery seed

Directions
Rub Corned Beef with Spice Rub and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden brown. Remove bacon, let rest, and coursely chop. Sear the Corned Beef in the bacon fat until a crust forms, turn over and continue cooking until golden brown. Remove, let rest and thinly slice.

Whisk together mustards, honey and horseradish. Serve Corned Beef with sauce on the side and garnish with chervil.

mini chicken parms

Fresh. Simple. Wholesome. Delicious. Make-Ahead. These are just a few words I like to consider when making dinner. Serving a hot meal for my family is such a challenge most days with sports practices, carpools, school events, a traveling spouse, and other unexpected surprises. I know we have all heard it, “Mom, do we have any magenta posterboard and lime green glitter????” “Mom, remember, I’m in charge of snack for 25 tomorrow for my advisory group and it has to be homemade.” Or how about my personal favorite, “Mom, don’t forget, tomorrow I have to bring in a hot appetizer that showcases my heritage and our family traditions.”

If I can make dinner ahead and have it ready to go, I feel so much more organized and accomplished. I can handle the unexpected tasks and requests without hitting Chipotle for dinner three nights in a row (not that we don’t love Chipotle). This recipe is perfect to make ahead on Sunday and have it ready to go Monday night to start the week on the right foot.

Ingredients
One package thinly sliced chicken breast filets
One pound bag of large elbow macaroni
Progresso “Italian Style” bread crumbs
16 ounces of “Precious” brand Mozzarella cheese + 1/4 cup
One, 28 ounce can of Trader Joe’s Tuscan Marinara sauce +1/4 cup
2 to 3 eggs, lightly blended in a medium sized bowl
one package fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Large muffin tin (yields 6 large muffins)
recipe makes about  dozen “Mini Chicken Parms”

Chick Parm 1

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place about 2 cups of bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Dip each thinly sliced breast filet in the egg and then dredge in the bread crumbs. Place on a slightly oiled baking sheet. Bake chicken for about 25 to 30 minutes (be careful not to overcook or the chicken will be dry). While the chicken is baking, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

Shred the 16 ounce block of Mozzarella cheese and chop the entire package of basil, which should yield abut 1/2 cup, maybe a little more.

Once the chicken is baked through, remove from the oven and let cool. When the chicken has cooled, chop into cubes (1/2” to 1” is fine).

In a large mixing bowl add the pasta, cubed chicken, Marinara sauce, Mozarella, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients together gently until just combined.

Lightly spray or grease each muffin well and add a hearty scoop of the mixture. Top each filled muffin well with a teaspoon of Marinara and an extra sprinkle of Mozzarella. Put back into 350 degree oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Use a pie server to scoop out each individual “Mini Chicken Parm.” Top with a sprig of basil and serve with organic greens and Italian breadsticks.

Lead Chicken Parm

*If you make this meal ahead of time, remove all individual “Mini Chicken Parms” from the muffin well. Let cool completely on a large platter and cover tightly. When ready to serve, place on a large baking sheet and re-heat gradually at 350 degrees.

 

 

bite-size chicken and waffle appetizer

So you may be asking yourself, “chicken and waffles……. is this something I would like”? The answer is…….”absolutely, yes”! I know this dynamic duo may seem a little far fetched, but just think about a salty and sweet culinary masterpiece in one bite. I very seldom order this when I see it on a menu because it is just too much food. On occasion, I will meet my sister at The Blue Rooster in Sarasota, FL, and we will splurge and share this delicious showpiece of a meal.
This chicken and waffle recipe is sublime because you get the combination of salty, crunchy chicken with a sweet, warm waffle, but the chicken is baked instead of fried and is a much smaller portion. It is a unique appetizer for a dinner party or brunch gathering. I love to see people’s reactions when they spot it on my food table. There is much controversy over this dish and where it originated.  John Edge who is the director of the Southern Foodway Alliance and author of Fried Chicken: An American Story says, “it’s a dish most popular among expatriate African-American Southerners”. He adds, “a dish most popular among Southerners now living in urban areas whether that be the urban South or urban West, in the case of Los Angeles, or the urban North, in the case of New York”. Edge suspects this delicious pair probably has been a part of America’s culinary repertoire for a long time- since the nation’s earliest days when Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France. He believes the recipe originated in multiple places including the South.
If you are like me and would like to know the history of a recipe, check out www.thehistorykitchen.com.  Tori Avey explores the story behind the food we eat and how recipes of different cultures have evolved.
PicMonkey Collage

Ingredients:
12 chicken breast tenders, cut in half crosswise
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1- 1/2 cups panko crumbs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Cooking spray
24 mini waffles
Maple Syrup

Directions:
Stir together chicken and buttermilk in a medium size bowl. Chill 30 minutes. Place a large baking sheet in oven, and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place panko crumbs in a shallow bowl. Stir together garlic powder and next three ingredients. Remove chicken from buttermilk, and pat dry, discard buttermilk.

Sprinkle chicken evenly with spice mixture; dredge in panko. Remove baking sheet from oven; coat with cooking spray. Immediately place chicken on hot baking sheet; coat chicken with cooking spray.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is crisp and lightly browned.

Arrange toasted waffles on a large platter and top each waffle with a pice of chicken. Secure chicken to waffle with a decorative pick. Drizzle warm maple syrup over top. Serve immediately. Serves:24

Recipe compliments of The Slim Down South Cookbook.

love in elysian park

Last summer the TODAY show held a “Burger Battle” in search of the best original burger recipe and the inspiration behind it. I thought, “Why not?” I made taste testers out of my family. My son wouldn’t try it but my daughter (the more adventurous eater) and husband gave me a thumbs up.

I wasn’t contacted by the TODAY show, clearly a mistake (haha) but their contest did present me the occasion to create something special. So I am sharing my inspiration and recipe on Valentine’s Eve because it’s all about the LOVE.

My Valentine's Day Inspiration

My parent’s at the Los Angeles Police Academy – my Valentine’s Day Inspiration


When I reflect upon the quintessential “
Valentine Lovebirds,” I think of my mom and dad who lived a loving, healthy and happy marriage, on par with few I have seen. My parents met at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park in 1964. An unlikely duo from the outset, he being 14 years her senior with a wild past and she being a mere girl of 18 who always followed the rules. He was a Lieutenant at the time and she was a secretary to the Chief. I’m pretty certain my dad visited that office more than was actually necessary. They fell head over heels in love and were married in June of 1966.

June 4, 1966

“The Glass Chapel” in Palos Verdes, California – June 4, 1966

 They were a true fairy tale couple who were the personification of love for 45 years (my father died unexpectedly in 2008). Both of my parents were fiercely proud of their heritage and my sister and I were raised with the same pride. My dad the dark Irish, and my mom, the beautiful “Jackie O” look-alike with strong Mexican roots, somehow grew into the perfect couple.

My loving family

My loving family (my sister being goofy and me, obviously with a full diaper)

This recipe is a tribute to the uniqueness that gave me my Irish Mexican heritage and to the love that bloomed in Elysian Park, California in 1964. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients
1 pound organic ground sirloin
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced cooked corned beef (have corned beef shaved thin in the deli)
1 jalapeño pepper (seeds removed) and finely diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tb dried oregano
1 Tb country Dijon mustard
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tb Jameson Irish whiskey
Three-pepper Colby cheese, thinly sliced
1, 14 oz. can sauerkraut, drained
1 small head of Frisee lettuce
Fresh Rye bread
Olive oil
Sugar
Butter

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Directions
Preheat grill. Add all ingredients through the Jameson Irish whiskey to a large glass bowl. Gently mix all ingredients together (use your clean hands if desired). From ground sirloin mixture, form three 1/3 pound patties. Lower grill heat and place patties on aluminum foil on the grill and grill about 4 minutes on each side. Once grease has melted off, place burgers directly on grill for another two to three minutes per side.

In a sauté pan, add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium. Add the drained sauerkraut to the pan and sauté until browned.

Brush each side of the Rye bread with olive oil and a little melted butter and grill for about 1 to 2 minutes per side (don’t overcook).

Grilled Rye lightly brushed with Olive oil and butter

Rye bread perfectly crusty after being brushed lightly with Olive oil and butter and grilled

Add burger to bread and top with three-pepper Colby cheese, browned sauerkraut, and frisee lettuce. *You can add extra dijon to the grilled bread if desired.

Chow down. Seriously amazing burger. A shot of whiskey or tequila is optional BUT highly recommended.