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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brie & Grape Quesadilla with Edamame Gaucamole

Josh and I recently took a trip to Maui for a little R & R. The majority of our trip was spent indoors due to the bum weather, but we still managed to have a good time as we toured the sites.

One of the highlights of our trip was a little cafe off the beaten path called the Haliimaile General Store. The service was very friendly, and the food was exquisite. One of the dishes was a Brie Quesadilla with cilantro pesto, grapes, and served with a side of sweet pea guacamole. Need I say more? That was just one dish of many flavorful spreads the cafe had to offer.

Since that meal, I have been kicking myself for not buying their cookbook and cannot stop thinking about the food. Going out on a limb, I tried my hardest to recreate it solely using my own creativity and foodie palate. Instead of sweet peas, I used edamame and avocado for the Guacamole, and threw in some ginger for a sophisticated flavor.

Every recipe takes some mastering, but until then this one will have to do. Enjoy!

Makes 4 small Quesadillas

Brie & Grape Quesadilla with Edamame Guacamole
(Edamame Gacamole below)

8-7 inch flour tortillas (snack size)
4 tablespoon cilantro pesto (recipe below)
1-5 oz container Alouette Creme de brie
16 red seedless grapes, rinsed
Olive oil

On four tortillas spread 1 tablespoon of cilantro pesto on one side of each tortilla. Slice grapes in half and divide among the for tortillas. On the other four tortillas spread brie being careful not to spread it to close to the edge of the tortilla. This is so the brie doesn't leak out in the grilling process. Lay the brie tortilla on top of the clintro and grape side. In a frying pan over medium heat, lightly oil and brown each side of Quesadilla. Remove from pan and place on a cutting board to cool slightly. Cut into 4 pieces and serve with Edamame guacamole.

Cilantro Pesto

1 cup cilantro leaves, packed
1/2 cup unsalted macadamia nuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 lemon, juiced
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor, blend all ingredients together to form a smooth mixture. Refrigerate.

Edamame Guacamole

Edamame Guacamole

1-12 oz bag frozen Edamame, shelled and thawed
1 medium avocado
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup cilantro pesto
Red pepper flakes to taste

In a medium size bowl, mash edamame until slightly chunky. Add remaining ingredients and continue to mash until mixed thoroughly. Serve as as a dip or condiment.

Sunrise Tofu Scramble

This breakfast came about one morning when I had a hankering for eggs and completely ran out.
Surprisingly, it has become one of my favorites and is a lighter way to start my day.

Sunrise Tofu Scramble

6 oz Firm tofu, drained
12 stems asparagus, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled & grated
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Roma tomato, quartered

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil. Add grated carrots, asparagus, and bell pepper. Saute vegetables for 1-2 minutes. Push veggies off to the side of the pan. On the other side, add tofu. With a spoon, mash tofu so that its slightly chunky and resembles scrambled eggs. Sprinkle spices over tofu and fold all ingredients together. Cook for additional 1-2 minutes and serve with quartered tomatoes.

Serves 2

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sweet Potato and Arugula Pesto Pizza

In Hawaii, the sun encourages a bountiful array of crops all year round. However, some ingredients prove hard to come by in my neck of the woods. With a little soil, seed and water anything is possible, even if your porch is the size of a shoebox.

This year I decided to grow Arugula, a peppery salad green also known as Rocket. It is easy to grow and reseeds itself every year.

The most common use for Arugula is salads, but it also makes fabulous pesto. This recipe features a wholesome crust topped with sweet potatoes, mozzarella, and arugula blended with almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and lemon. Accompany with a fresh green salad, and you have a healthy casual meal.

I recommend making the pesto first. Be for warned, it makes a lot but you won't need all of it. The remainder can be used on your favorite pasta. When your done with the pesto, set it aside and prepare pizza crust. Good luck!

1-2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Sea salt
extra flour for kneading
cornmeal for dusting

This dough is quick and easy, no rising is needed.
In a large bowl, combine honey, water and yeast. Proof yeast for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine flours and salt. Sift flours together with a fork. Whisk olive oil into proofed yeast and stir in flour. Stir until dough is slightly formed and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Flour a clean workspace to knead dough. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, and the dough is no longer wet. Be careful not to over knead, about 5 minutes. On a pizza pan, lightly sprinkle cornmeal onto pan to prevent the crust from sticking. Roll out dough into a large circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Using a fork, prick the the dough from the center out leaving an inch around the edge unpricked. This allows the thick crust to cook evenly throughout. You are no ready to start topping.

Arugula Pesto
2 cups fresh arugula, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup almonds
4 cloves garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor combine arugula, Parmesan, almonds, garlic. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil and pour into processor. Puree mixture until all components are blended and the mixture looks smooth. Set aside.

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
Arugula Pesto

Preheat broiler on low, moving the oven rack to the top. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place chopped sweet potato onto lined cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil onto sweet potatoes and lightly salt. Broil on low for 10 minutes. Toss sweet potatoes and place them back under broiler for another 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, turn broiler off and move rack to the middle of the over, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Assemble pizza by spreading a good layer of arugula pesto onto prepared crust. Top with mozzarella, reserving some for an additional topping. Place sweet potato pieces onto pizza and top with remaining mozzarella. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing.


Makes 1 pizza

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fresh Fruit Cups

These simple little fruit cups add the perfect freshness for any breakfast or brunch menu.
Suggested under my 'Oven Poached Eggs and Greens' recipe (below), presentation alone is enough to to get your mouth watering. Enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Cups

4 Ruby Red grapefruits, sectioned
1-6 oz package fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons Pomegranate juice
4 sprigs fresh mint

Section each grapefruit by slicing away the skin to expose the whole grapefruit, skin off. Using a small pairing knife, cut out each section by slicing along the diving membrane. Be sure to remove any seeds.
Once your grapefruit has been sectioned, dived slices among 4 cups. Top each one with fresh black berries, pomegranate juice, and a sprig of mint. Chill until ready to serve.

Serving options: Add a little kick for those special occasions by spiking each fruit cup with a splash of Grand Marnier.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Symbolism Behind It All

Some of you know my love for birds, especially the sparrow. Hence the name and inspiration for my blog 'Sparrows & Oranges'. I would like to share with you why I believe the symbolism is a perfect marriage for my creative journey.
Sparrows are tiny birds, sometimes believed to be a symbol of good luck. They are also known to symbolize joy, creativity, simplicity, community, productivity, and friendliness. By association oranges are a symbol of health by stimulating appetite's and evoking wellness. Always nesting and foraging for food, these little birds and vibrant oranges, reminds us of the importance of home, family, and wellness.