A Passion for Maui and making every day a work of art

Maui cooks

Awesome Marinara is so easy!

Aloha everyone. I love to make my own Marinara. Marinara is without meat.
My father used to make all his spaghetti sauces with huge meatballs or Italian sausages which had great flavor, but sometimes it is nice to go vegetarian and make a rich tomato sauce with lots of garlic, basil, Italian herbs and spices.
At times when I have grown lots of Roma tomatoes I blanch and save them for sauces in ziploc bags in the freezer. I always keep my pantry stocked with stewed tomatoes, tomato sauces and tomato paste.
I start by sauteing garlic and slivered onions in two TBSP. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Then I add big cleaned sliced mushrooms…
I simmer these for a while then add my tomato sauces and whole or chopped tomaotes.
Next I add my basil, rosemary, oregano, bay leaf or mixed dried Italian seasonings.
I simmer my sauce for at least an hour on low, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.
I start my pasta water and just before serving time I cook the pasta Al dente (for spaghetti this is 10 minutes).
Served with grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese and a fresh green salad it is wonderful.

Lemon Meringue Pie Maui Day

It was a beautiful day to bake a pie on Maui. I had prepared my dough a day ago and it was chilling in the fridge. I found the big beautiful Meyer’s lemons which Not Quite Nigella had suggested because of their amazing sweetness, and the light seemed right for photographing today. Actually, there were intermittent clouds and a possibility of showers which was a perfect day to stay indoors and play with flour.
I have been making my own pie crusts for years ever since a lady taught me on the Big Island of Hawaii. She called it the Perfect Pie Crust recipe and I have elaborated on it ever since. I know it by heart though which makes it so easy. I start with 2 cups of all-purpose flour. I sift that with a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of sugar, then add 2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of shortening.
(I use Crisco and butter) for flakiness and butter flavor. I just scoop out my cold butter into the measuring cup and add Crisco to make the additional amount. 2/3 cup plus 2 TBSP. of shortening.
I begin crumbling the flour and butter between my thumbs and fingers to distribute the shortening. I add one egg yolk for golden color and the sugar makes it brown slightly and taste sweet. Patee Brisee is a sweet pastry dough. Now I add 6-10 TBSP. of ice water to make the dough the right consistency for a perfect pie crust. If it gets a little too wet add more flour until it feel just right. Mold it into a ball and refrigerate for about an hour in a ziploc bag.
So now I was ready today to roll out my dough. Start with a lightly floured surface so your dough doesn’t stick and always flour your rolling pin between passes.
First cut this dough in 1/2 before you start rolling it out. This recipe is for a two crust pie.
It is so nice to make your own pie crusts, especially during the holidays. Nothing can compare to a homemade perfect buttery flaky pie crust. Those cardboard storebought types are just not the same.
 Roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thickness and then lift it up off the surface by sliding a spatula all the way around under the dough.
Place it into the pie dish and finish the edges how you like them. It depends what type of pie I’m making as to how I create my edges. This time I kept it plain and simple because I knew I’d be piling it high with the meringue.
This requires a pre-baked pie shell, so I first pricked the bottom with a knife to vent it and weighted it with some ceramic weights I have. (Actually these are cookie dough molds which worked fine.) They say to use dried beans otherwise. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Take out and lower heat to 325 degrees.
 The Meyer’s lemons were incredibly juicey and fragrant. The recipe called for 1/2 cup lemon juice, or 2 lemons.
To make the lemon curd, first I whisked the 1 cup of sugar, 8 large egg yolks, 1/8 tsp. of salt and 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a pan. I gradually added 1 1/2 cups of water and heated on low-medium until the mixture was thickened, as  instructed. I nearly scorched it by raising the heat too fast. I removed it from the heat and added the lemon juice, 2 TBSP. of melted butter and 1 TBSP. lemon zest.
The lemon curd filling is spread into the pre-baked pie shell then the meringue is piled high on top.
I let it cool down while I prepared the meringue which consists of 8 egg whites, 2 TBSP.cornstarch, 2/3 cup of water, 1 tsp. cream of tartar and 1 cup of sugar.
Not Quite Nigella said to first mix the 2 TBSP. of cornstarch and 2/3 cup of water in a saucepan until it thickens then cool. It thickened very quickly to a satiny mixture. Then beat the egg whites in a large bowl. (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer) Thank God I have one because egg whites take quite a while to whip into peaks. The 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp. of cream of tartar are added to the egg whites while beating and the satiny cooled cornstarch mixture is added a tablespoon at a time to the egg whites until they are glossy and peak perfectly.  
Look how perfect it came out. I piled it high like Not Quite Nigella and I so thoroughly enjoyed creating this pie. It goes back into the oven at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes or until areas are turning slightly golden brown.
It should be completely cooled before cutting but of course I couldn’t wait so this is what the first piece looked like.
Later this evening a well chilled piece came out perfectly piled high and set on top of the lemony mixture.
Voila! My Maui lemon meringue pie. Awesome, delicious lemon meringue pie!
You have to try this. It really is quite easy. I just had to get organized and some days that is easier said than done.
until tomorrow friends.
The Artful Hawaiigirl

Awesome Marinara is so easy!

I love to make my own Marinara. Beautiful tomatoes, fresh garlic and big mushrooms with lots of herbs and spices give it a lot of body and flavor.
The ingredients are simple. Minced garlic, slivered onions, Extra Virgin Olive oil, butter, sliced mushrooms, tomatoe sauce stewed tomatoes or canned whole tomatoes, tomatoe paste, sweet Italian basil, and my other favorite herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, or keep it simple and use Italian seasoning, (a combo of all of the above).
First I crush the garlic and mince it and add it to Two TBSP. of extra virgin oilive oil and two TBSP. of butter. Add it while the oil is not too hot so as not to burn the garlic. Simmer a couple minutes while you sliver the onions.
Then slice the mushrooms. I like my mushrooms big and plump.
Add the onions to the pan with the garlic and saute until translucent, then add the mushrooms and saute a couple minutes longer.
Start adding the tomato sauce 16 oz. (2 small cans or 1 large can) and the stewed tomatoes, then about 3 TBSP. tomato paste. This is used as a thickener, so you may need to add about a 1/2 cup of water to achieve the consistency that you like. I always add some water.
Here I’ve tossed in my Sweet Italian basil and about a TBSP. of Italian Seasoning. I stir it in and let everything simmer for about an hour on low heat. Cover the pan to contain the splatters and stir occasionally so as not to burn.
At this time I like to taste it and add a touch of sugar, maybe a couple teaspoons, salt & pepper too. Usually I add fresh torn basil, but my garden was lacking so I added fresh spinach to give it some color.

Prepare your pasta water by filling a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt and some olive oil so the spaghetti doesn’t stick together. Bring it to a rolling boil and add your pasta. Cook it al dente (according to the package directions) and drain immediately after you test a strand that you have cooled. Al dente is just so the teeth can bite into it. (Perfect!)Spaghetti cooks for ten minutes.
Fresh pastas cook in a couple minutes so get to know your different pastas.
After draining the pasta I put it back into the pot and let the heat cook off any remaining water so it will be perfect, (not watery). Then it is ready to serve on a platter or individual servings with lots of delicious Marinara on top. Fresh grated Parmesan or Romano finishes it off along with a crisp green salad.

I love a nice red wine with Italian food such as a Cabernet or a Merlot.
Once you learn how to make your own sauce you will love how it comes together and you’ll feel so earthy crushing your own herbs and spices and filling your kitchen with the aromas of great cooking.
This sauce can be used for Chicken Parmesan also. I made that the next day.
Coming soon at The Artful Hawaiigirl 
Chicken Parmesan and fresh garlic bread.
Here’s the Marinara recipe in my cookbook.
Click on the image to see the full size layout!
So enjoy!