June 28, 2009

Enhancing Simple Flavors - Creating A Memorable Meal

The Journey of Food

I take it for granted that eating is meant to be fun and an experience to be shared with others. Yesterday, my friend and I went to the farmer's market in Kahului to create a healthy yet tasty meal. Using a variety of fresh ingredients is part of creating a fun meal. I like to take simple items and use them in unique ways. I like dishes to have flavors that are enhanced, i.e. roasting vegetables, seasoning with a special dehydrated sea salt and herbs (Herbamare, available at natural food stores), adding basil and herbs at the end of the cooking process so that flavors come out and using ingredients that are naturally sweet (unsweetened coconut vs. sweetened).

"My day started with a trip to the farmer's market picking out fresh ingredients with Chef Ann-Marie of Maui Fresh Chef. I told her I wanted to learn to cook something that tasted great, but was also healthy. If you ever want a cooking lesson or a catered event, she is your go to person. Best part is sitting down to enjoy the meal she creates with you."
" Today was just a day for the memory book. Thank you. You always know how to make me feel important. You are amazing. I can't wait for more people to have the Ann-Marie experience. Sitting down at the table with you is like going on an exotic journey of flavors, aromas, and visual bliss."
--KS (Maui, Hawaii)

We used ingredients such as roasted tomatoes, fresh anise, unsweetened coconut, silken tofu and fresh basil. These were ingredients that are common to me but not necessarily always easy to use in dishes and you may not always have these items on hand. We started the roasted tomato soup with a homemade broth. I took extra vegetables I had on hand; scallions, parsley, carrots, onion, swiss chard and threw them all in a pot for about an hour. The end result was a tasteless broth, but when I added the sea salt seasoning it tasted like a delicious broth and this was used as the base for the roasted tomato fennel soup. It simply added depth to the soup without using meat products or cream.

Lunch was a roasted tomato fennel soup with, and a creamy chocolate coconut dessert with dark chocolate chips (made with silken tofu!). I made a basil citrus vinaigrette for a simple salad with walnuts and dried cherries.

What I am reminded of is that you don't have to force yourself to eat healthy. Simply use the least processed foods possible, i.e. fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and natural ingredients. The secret to creating memorable dishes and meals is by enhancing flavors with a variety of ingredient combination and cooking techniques. Experiment. Try something different. Step outside of the box.

Bon Appetit!

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