bulgur and citrus side dish or salad

Summer has arrived in Florida, and each day I’m trying to come up with something light and refreshing for my family’s dinner plate. This dish can be served as a side dish to a piece of grilled meat or just as a salad. I am lucky enough to have citrus trees in my yard, so I use them when making this delicious citrus dressing. Since I am in “packing mode” for our move back to California, I made a big batch of this to munch on while packing boxes. It’s versatile, uniquely refreshing, and a recipe I will definitely put in my recipe box. 

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1- 1/2 Tb honey
1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste
5 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup bulgur
1-1/2 cups boiling water
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 finely grated carrot
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 Tb chopped fresh parsley
3 green onions, sliced thin

Directions:
Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Prepare the bulgur. Place the bulgur in a heat-prof dish or small saucepan. Pour the boiling water over the bulgur and let it stand for 10 minutes, until tender but firm. Drain water from bulgur and fluff with a fork.

Add the celery, carrots, currants, sunflower seeds, green onion and parsley, tossing to distribute evenly. Pour the dressing over the bulgur, stirring until evenly mixed. Salt to taste and serve. Serves:4

dreamstime_xl_29854401

mother’s day spirits (our mom’s faves)

Christi and I were both blessed with amazing moms who are there for us no matter what. They are our biggest champions, friends, confidantes and aren’t afraid to keep us on track when we act sassy or grumpy (yes…who knows your mood better than your mom). We will each be celebrating our mom’s tomorrow on Mother’s Day. We thought it would be fun to highlight their favorite cocktails on Cashmere Apron this week (Nina’s fav is the Blue Cheese and Bacon Martini and Mary’s is the Grapefruit Basil Martini – both recipes follow).

Cheers to Nina and Mary – the best of the best. We love you – Happy Mother’s Day!

BLUE CHEESE & BACON MARTINI (Nina’s favorite)
Ingredients

2- 1/2 shots Gin
1/2 shot of brine from cocktail olives
1/8 shot extra dry Vermouth
Blue Cheese stuffed olives for garnish
Bacon crumbles

IMG_8045

CHRISTI & HER MOM, NINA VISITING NYC

Directions
Fry bacon until very crisp and chop up very fine. Rub the rim of your chilled martini glass with butter and roll the edge of the glass in the bacon crumbs. Shake all martini ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into glass. Garnish with a few olives. Makes one drink.

 

Grapefruit Basil Martini Lead
GRAPEFRUIT BASIL MARTINI (Mary’s favorite)

Ingredients
2 ounces Freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 ounce Vodka
1 diced fresh Basil leaf plus additional for garnish

Mother's Day 01

 

Directions
Add crushed ice to a Martini shaker. Pour in the freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice and vodka. Add the diced fresh Basil leaf. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a fresh  Basil leaf for garnish. Makes one drink.

special gift ideas for mom on mothers day

Here’s a little gift guide for the special mom, sister, daughter or friend in your life who will celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, May 11. If you need a little inspiration, a reminder or just a jump-start, use this guide as a source.

TOP ROW
1) The Ella Cork Mini Tote by Tory Burch; updated for the season in cork, neutral tones and gold
2) losselliani 5 Brass Bangle Set; ready to wear together or separately to polish off any outfit
3) Cabana-Striped Notebook from Sugar Paper LA; stylish notes, to-do’s and thoughts on-the-go

MIDDLE ROW
4) Kendra Scott Pave Linear Feather Earrings;  a dusting of femininity and glamour
5) BE YOU Print from Sugar Paper LA; words of wisdom and love from the heart of every mother
6) Deep Sleep Bath Oil by this works; unwind, refresh and soak in essential oils of Lavender, Peppery Patchouli and Camomile

BOTTOM ROW
7) AISH Yellow Mahi Mahi Scarf by Shop Latitude; hand-crafted from Jamdani Muslin created via an intensive hand-loomed process
8) Liquid Gold Crystal Encrusted Draping Ring by Alexis Bittar; an elegant reminder of your love and appreciation
9) Giselle Cover Up by Melissa Obadash; flirty styling with artful knit patterns, this delicate cover up has a cool ’60s feel

 

tamale making party

What better way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo than with a group of friends making tamales. A few girlfriends and I embarked on this tradition four years ago. Originally, December seemed like a good time for this endeavor so we could serve tamales during the holidays. We picked a day right before the Winter recess when all of our kids would still be in school. A memorable day was spent side-by-side, filling, wrapping and steaming our bundles of deliciousness. We each went home with overflowing trays of tamales (they freeze very well).

Ready to Steam Away.

READY TO BE FILLED WITH STEAMING TAMALES

Despite our efforts, the “holiday” tamale making party fell by the wayside until we determinedly resurrected it this year. Acknowledging that the holidays were NOT an ideal time for this endeavor, we decided to plan it for “ski week” in February when schedules and obligations calmed a bit. We had a relaxing and chatter-filled day, with tamales steaming in every kind of stock pot we could find. And we each commented that the process was so easy, we didn’t know why we waited so long to do it again.

Like anything in life, the experience is what you make of it. You don’t have to follow any steadfast rules about what goes in the tamales. There are the traditonal favorites but you can be as creative as you like. There were three of us so we each brought a filling. I made a spicy shredded beef in the slow cooker. Another friend made a chicken and chile version she found online and our third friend made a vegetarian version with roasted peppers, roasted corn and black beans. The key is to ensure your fillings have enough liquid so the tamales don’t dry out after steaming. Every version was delicious and made with love, creativity and friendship.

USE PREPARED MASA WHICH IS READY TO GO

USE PREPARED MASA WHICH IS READY TO GO AND GLUTEN FREE!

You never need a reason to celebrate friendship or good food but Cinco De Mayo seems as good a time as any.

Basic Ingredients
10 pounds of “prepared” Masa. You can purchase this at most Mexican restaurants that make tamales. Be sure to ask for it “prepared” or you will get a bag of flour like substance.
3 pounds of cooked spicy shredded beef (click here for easy slow cooker recipe)
3 pounds of cooked chicken and chili (click here for easy slow cooker recipe)
1 to 2 pounds of vegetarian mixture
2 to 3 bags of tamale husks (purchase at any Mexican market, Smart & Final or Mexican restaurant)
3 to 4 large stock pots with steamers
Aluminum trays
Tongs

EVERYONE GETS A JOB - ASSEMBLY LINE STYLE

EVERYONE GETS A JOB – ASSEMBLY LINE STYLE

Basic Directions
Prep and make your filling the day before, especially the shreeded beef which cooks for 8 to 10 hours in the slow cooker. Soak corn husks in warm water the night before.

On tamale making day, create an assembly line and have each friend responsible for a step in the process. Make sure you remove the tamale husks from water and pat them dry with a paper towel (they will still be slightly damp).

Lay the tamale husk flat (it will naturally fold up a little bit). Spread about one cup of the prepared Masa on the tamale husk. Use a spatula or large spoon to spread the Masa about 3/4 up the tamale husk. Place a large serving spoon size of your prepared filling on the Masa. Fold the tamale up from the bottom first, and then roll each side in so you have a nice little pouch. Tie the top of the tamale with strings pulled from some of the tamale husks (the texture is similar to a thick raffia ribbon).

Lay each uncooked tamale on a cutting board or tray and pile them up. When you have 15 to 20, line the inside of your stock pot with the tamales. Make sure they are standing straight up with the ties at the top. You want to pack them in the stock pot.

ALL TIED UP AND READY TO BE STEAMED

ALL TIED UP AND READY TO BE STEAMED

Make sure the tamales are standing on a steamer and that you have enough water in the bottom of the pot. Steam on high heat for 90 minutes (YES – 90 MINUTES). This is why we like to have bunches of tamales ready to be steamed. If you can have 3 to 4 stock pots ready to go, you can steam 45 to 60 tamales at the same time.

Once the tamales are finished steaming, remove from heat, place in the aluminum trays (be sure to mark the different types of tamales – beef, chicken, veg) and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. When you are ready to eat, unwrap the tamale from the tamale husk and dig in!!!

STAND TAMALES UP AND PACK THEM IN. STEAM FOR 90 MINUTES

STAND TAMALES UP AND PACK THEM IN – STEAM FOR 90 MINUTES

When you are ready to divide them up, we find that large freezer type Ziplock bags work best. The tamales will keep in your refrigerator for about a week or you can freeze them. To re-heat, simply microwave them for a few minutes or re-steam for about 10 to 15 minutes until warmed through.

TAKE YOUR PICK...

TAKE YOUR PICK…

Tamales really are easy to make. Even if you have a few that don’t turn out or make a mistake, you will get the hang of it and feel like a pro by the end of the day. I can’t wait for next year – we all have some new and fun ideas for the fillings. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

EVERYONE GOES HOME WITH TAMALES

EVERYONE GOES HOME WITH TAMALES

lemon cake

Ask a 14 year old what the best use of a lemon is and they may tell you it’s to squeeze on your hair, and lay in the sun to lighten your dull, dreary locks.  Ask your grandmother this same question, and she may tell you that it eases digestion, cures bad breath, and freshens the garbage disposal.  While this is all very true, my favorite thing about this magical fruit is it’s health benefits.  Nutritionally, lemon is a great source of calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, minerals and antioxidants that improve the condition and appearance of our hair, skin and nails.  Let’s face it, we all grew up serving lemonade at our neighborhood lemonade stands and squeezing a fresh lemon slice into our tea.  Below is a list of some interesting lemon facts that you may not have known:
Fun Facts About Lemons:
Heals acne and removes blackheads
Lightens dark skin spots and blemishes
Whitens teeth
Immune boosting powers
Lemon oil mixed with water and sprayed into the air, repels insects
Calms dry scalp and remedies dandruff
Offers relief to those suffering from eczema
Cleanses the face and body
Gets rid of oily skin

Ingredients:
1-1/2 butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 Tb lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup 7-Up
Shortening
Lemon-Lime Glaze (recipe to follow)
Candied Lemons (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat at medium speed 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest and extracts.

Add flour to butter mixture alternately with lemon-lime soft drink, beginning and ending with four. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased (with shortening) and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. You may need to shield the cake with aluminum foil after 45 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove cake from pan to wire rack.

Spoon Lemon-Lime Glaze over the warm cake. Top cake with the Candied Lemons. Compliments: my recipes.com

PicMonkey Collage

Lemon-Lime Glaze

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
1-1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 Tb fresh lime juice

Directions:
Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon zest, 1-1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice, and lime juice in a bowl until blended and smooth.

Candied Lemons

Ingredients:
2 medium lemons
4 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar

Directions:
Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick slices; discard seeds. Stir together water and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a light boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Add lemons; reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer 45 minutes or until rinds are very soft and lemons are translucent, turning every 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a single layer on a wire rack. Cool completely.

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!