Maui no ka . . . busy
Life has been flowing by like water in the Kepaniwai Stream of my youth and in equally as pleasing a fashion: trickling, splashing, rushing, pooling in a round of cooking, work, family, church, family, more cooking, a little TV time, did I mention family?
I’m on Maui now: Cleaning to do, funerals to attend, errands to manage. But I’ve taken good care of my esoteric culinary needs even as I performed a zillion Good Daughter tasks (not, I regret to say, always with the Good Daughter thoughts in my deepest recesses).
Had lunch at Ruby’s Diner (not to be confused with the new Ruby Tuesday, which is opening here yesterday) at Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center, a few stolen minutes to myself for a real (not processed) roast turkey in a sandwich with my favorite, cranberry sauce. Very well done and reasonably priced. An unfussy, retro-diner Maui favorite.
Dessert was a caramel, chocolate and sea salt square from Starbucks, so rich there’s still one bite left; a nibble satisfies.
Later, after more family tasks (Mom is in divesting mode and there were hundreds of old pictures to sort), I took myself just down Main Street to my friend Tom Selman’s Main Street Bistro. Tom and I have shared more than a few hard times with health and business challenges. But he remains cheerful, a little satirical and as skilled as he was when he was corporate chef for the Sansei family of restaurants.
For an early evening pupu dinner (he serves lunch weekdays, tapas 3-7 p.m. weeknights and opens late on Wailuku’s raucous First Fridays), he made me asparagus Milanese — traditionally grilled asparagus with a fried egg on top and some grated cheese, perhaps served over a slice of toasted bread. His version was a bit more dramatic and also easier to eat, with the bread torn, moistened with truffle oil and and scattered, the egg all but hidden over the caramelized, oil-marinated asparagus. Oh, heaven!
I heard on “Top Chef” the other day that egg cookery is among the most difficult to master; I celebrate an unbroken over-easy egg with a good feeling that lasts all day. I usually break one yolk out of every two. I am making professional-level egg frying and egg poaching a goal for 2012. I heard another “Top Chef” judge say that he loves anything with a fried egg on top and I’m with him,
A big challenge at Mom’s is the lack of WiFi. Ironically for someone who claims to be a Luddite, I feel as though I’m missing a limb. I use my laptop or iPad for everything: who’s that actor in the movie we’re watching? how can Mom find that product she’s looking for? are these on-sale items cheaper than if I bought them online? it’s time to check email, post a blog, find a new restaurant, look up directions to the site of the funeral we’ll be attending. Yikes! I’m at Wailuku Coffee Co., a very pleasant non-Starbucks cafe and coffee shop on Market Street now getting my WiFi needs met.
I hope to find a few new restaurant treasures in the next day or two and share them with you.
Meanwhile, Husband is home eating up the last of last Friday’s shabbat dinner. I really liked the chicken I made and it’s as good at room temperature or rewarmed as it was hot. It’s a dish from Tunisia, from the Sephardic (Mediterranean) Jewish tradition: I haven’t got the recipe here, but it’s easy.
Lemon Shabbat Chicken
In a heavy, deep pot, such as a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and brown 3 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces on both sides; they can be a whole chicken cut up or just thighs (what I used). Remove chicken to plate and sweat 1-2 onions (quartered, thinly sliced) slowly over medium-low heat, until wilted and a little caramelized. Return chicken to onion mixture along with 2/3 cup chicken broth or homemade stock. Cover and cook slowly over medium-low heat, 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, shave the zest of two lemons (I used one Meyer and 1 conventional) and juice the two. If you have it, rinse in cold water and chop up one salted Moroccan-style preserved lemon (this makes a big difference but it’s not vital). Add lemon zest, lemon juice, preserved lemon and turn up heat; cook, briskly simmering, 5 minutes to thicken and reduce juices. Add 1/3 cup minced parsley and spoon the onion, lemon, parsley mixture around and over the chicken so it can further absorb flavors. If you’re making a Sabbath meal, this dish can sit, covered, for half an hour or so (especially in a Le Creuset or other enameled steel pot, it will remain warm) while the table is finished, the candles lit and the prayers said. I served it with long-grain rice flavored with cardamom, pine nuts, golden raisins.
Shalom to the mah jong-playing Ladies of Temple Emanu-El who didn’t look twice at this strange little Christian coming in to timidly ask about about sabbath candles.