Tropical Scones with Honey Butter Glaze

Welcome to a tropical paradise set in a rain forest in the little village of Volcano on the big island of Hawaii, please make yourself at home and enjoy some of my scones made with dried pineapple, papaya, macadamia nuts, coconut and a honey butter glaze.

Your room is just steps away from the reception but completely private and the only noises you’ll hear are from the birds!

Stroll through the garden, notice the giant fern leaves and the wild tropical plants. This is truly a unique lodge, a serene retreat and a wonderful place to wake up in the morning.

The room is so comfortable, what a pleasure to be here!

Please help yourself to a fresh papaya.

One morning I went to the farmer’s market in Hilo where I saw the most beautiful anthurium flowers, something we rarely see at home. I love the way they were displayed in old cans.

This flower arrangement was outside our room, we felt surrounded by beauty.

Of course I’ll give you the recipe for the scones, it will be my pleasure, they really are quite simple to make.

Ingredients and Directions for Tropical Scones
Adapted from ‘Simply Scones’ by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut unto small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup dried papaya, chopped in small pieces
1/2 cup dried pineapple, chopped in small pieces
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped in small pieces
1/2 cup shredded medium flake unsweetened coconut
3 ounces white chocolate, chopped in small pieces

I had to show you this bowl that I found at the farmer’s market in Hilo, Isn’t it beautiful?

Preheat the oven to 375°F

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or by hand. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, egg, vanilla and coconut extracts. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the papaya, pineapple, macadamia nuts, coconut and white chocolate until evenly distributed.

Remove the dough from the bowl, place on the counter and with lightly floured hands pat into a 8X8 square. With a serrated knife cut into 2″ squares and then triangles, to get the mini scones.

I use these fabric cutting mats for easy accuracy when cutting dough or cake or whatever you like. They come in small and large sizes.

Bake the scones for 14-16 minutes or until the bottom looks brown. They don’t really brown very much on top. Remove from the oven and brush or drizzle with glaze. Cool on the baking sheet on a rack. Serve warm or cool completely and store in an airtight container. These scones freeze well.

Ingredients and Directions for Honey Butter Glaze
adapted from Martha Stewart ‘Living’

2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring honey and butter to a boil in a small saucepan, take off the heat, stir and add the vanilla extract. Let cool for 1 minute. Brush or drizzle the scones with the glaze as they come out of the oven. If you brush the scones, wait 15 minutes and brush on more glaze. I brushed and drizzled! This recipe makes more glaze than you will need for this recipe, store the rest in the refrigerator and use for toast.

Makes 32 mini scones

Links: Volcano Village Lodge and Hilo Farmers Market


Grilled Ahi Tuna with Lemon Lime Pineapple Salsa

Finding beautiful pieces of fresh tuna at the market is all the inspiration I need to figure out what I’m making for dinner. My husband Scott grilled the tuna while I made the pineapple salsa. After a day of golf in Maui this was a simple, healthy and tasty meal to make together in our home away from home!

I cut up a pineapple, used half for the salsa and saved the other half for breakfast, yummy, all ready have another meal planned.

I used cilantro, lemon grass, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, scallions, ginger and garlic in my salsa. The pronounced flavors of the lemon grass and lime juice complement the pineapple while the other ingredients add some nice heat and spice to the grilled tuna.

Can you find the hidden pineapple?

Ingredients and Directions

Find yourself a couple of beautiful pieces of ahi tuna, fire up the grill, brush on a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for a few minutes on each side depending on how rare you like your tuna. I like it rare!

Make the salsa while you’re heating up the grill

1 pineapple, cut in small cubes, half for salsa and half for breakfast
1/2 lime, juiced
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon minced scallions
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 minced garlic
1/2 jalapeno minced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a medium size bowl, mix together and serve on the grilled tuna.

Makes enough salsa for 4 servings

Banana Yeast Bread

I found this recipe for banana yeast bread at Monet’s anecdotes and apple cores on my computer this morning and by this afternoon I was enjoying a wonderful PBJ sandwich on my own freshly baked bread. Thank you Monet, modern technology, my pantry, mixer and oven. And don’t forget the ripe bananas on my counter! Now if this isn’t the most delightful combination of flavors all combined into one sandwich made with fresh home made bread, I don’t know what is! I had all the ingredients in my kitchen except the white whole wheat flour so I substituted Irish whole meal flour and all-purpose flour from King Arthur’s Flour. My grandchildren will love this bread and it will be a pleasure to serve it to them.

I had fun taking these photos of the bread making process, starting with the mashed bananas and ending with the sandwich.

The dough was sticky and had big chunks of soft ripe banana, that’s why you don’t want to over mash your bananas.

I added more flour to get the dough to come together in my mixer. I kneaded it until it was smooth and soft, around 5 minutes.

I kneaded it a few times on the counter and placed it in an oiled bowl, covered it and let it rise for approximately 1 hour.

I removed it from the bowl, kneaded it a few turns and formed it into a loaf to fit into a 8×4 inch loaf pan.

I covered it and let it rise for another hour before preheating the oven to 350°F.

The dough rises up in the pan and even more in the oven forming a beautiful golden loaf of fragrant banana yeast bread in just 35-40 minutes.

Wow, these slices of bread look good but they look like they’re waiting for something….

Peanut butter and jelly!

I can’t believe I’m going to Hawaii next week where I’ll be putting on a bathing suit! This is my last post for awhile and the next one just has to be salad!

Here are the ingredients and directions

2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3 cups white whole wheat flour, I used 2 cups Irish whole meal and 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 ripe bananas, slightly mashed

Place the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1 pinch of sugar, cover with the water and mix.
Set aside until foamy.

Add the flour, salt, honey, cinnamon and banana to the bowl. Stir everything together and mix, using the dough hook until you have a smooth and soft dough, around 5 minutes. I started with 3 cups of flour but added the additional cup of flour because the dough was too sticky, may have been my choice of flours? The final dough should be smooth, not sticky.

Place the dough on the counter and knead it by hand a few more times. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 & 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl, place it on a lightly floured surface, knead it a few times, form into a loaf and place into a lightly greased 8×4 inch loaf pan. Cover the pan with a damp towel and allow to rise for another hour, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from the oven to a cooling rack, let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

PS. The ‘J’ in my PBJ was D’Arbo Black Cherry Fruit Spread!

Chocolate Peppermint Marble Cake

Inviting a girlfriend who is affectionately known to her friends as the ‘Dessert Queen of the Peninsula’ to spend the weekend with you and wanting to make an impressive dessert for her requires coming up something that is a little out of the ordinary, so I searched to find just the perfect thing and found a recipe for a chocolate mint marble cake. Honestly, how many times could she have been served a cake like this before?

A recipe from ‘All Cakes Considered’ by Melissa Gray, one of the most entertaining cookbooks about baking cakes that you’ll ever read, caught my eye. This cake is called The Naughty Senator Cake, you’ll have to buy the cookbook to read the funny story that goes with it.

I’m not sure if it was the title of the recipe or the green food coloring that caught my attention but this cake stood out from the pack as the one that I wanted to try. The original recipe calls for light rum or rum extract which I didn’t have, and I didn’t want to buy it, so I substituted Frangelico for the rum which gave me an excuse, as if I needed one, to serve this cake with chocolate hazelnut Gelato.

Of course a ‘Dessert Queen’ does not come calling with out some sort of goodies in tow, like maybe black bottom cheesecake cupcakes with a few lime cheesecake cupcakes thrown in, just some old thing she had laying around the house, trying to play it down! Oh well, back to the drawing board but I’m going to share the recipe for this cake anyway, not that my friend asked for it or anything like that. And I know what you’re thinking, forget that old marble cake I’d like to get the recipe for those lime cheesecake cupcakes!

The highlight of making a cake, beating the ingredients into a thick luscious cake pan worthy batter.

Peppermint, never enough peppermint, a wonderful ingredient that I just had to show off in a photograph on my table.

Okay, so this is where I got a little carried away (just a little?) I lack self control when it comes to using food color, I know this about myself but I always seem to find myself in this predicament. The recipe said, just a small amount of the green food coloring, for a ‘natural’ effect, oh well too late now. I should just swear off the stuff.

So, here it is, the greenness in all it’s glory! This would be a great cake for St. Patrick’s day, with a chaser of Old Bushmills. Feeling a little remorseful I followed the rest of the directions for the cake to a tee.

I poured two-thirds of the now very green batter into the bottom of a well greased cake pan.

I cleaned off the beaters and added the cocoa and sugar mixture to the yellow batter, along with a splash of Frangelico. Beating until smooth, of course.

Using a rubber spatula I poured the chocolate flavored batter over the green batter and smoothed it down.

I layered the rest of the green batter over the chocolate and prepared to go to my favorite step, marbling the batters! Then I came across another test in self control, the recipe calls for cutting through the batters 2 times, no more! Looking at the bright green batter I decided to attempt the 2 rotations around this large Bundt pan, that’s all I’m saying!

And while the cake is baking don’t forget to make the glaze, which will have time to sit and thicken.

It’s nice to have a pot of fresh mint by your back door, it always need a trim and a little sprig of it looks great on the plate with a slice of light textured chocolate minty tasting cake. So, if you want to take the plunge, center a rack, preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a large, 12 cup Bundt pan or a 10- inch tube pan.

Ingredients and Directions for the cake

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
3 & 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons peppermint flavoring or extract
1/2 teaspoon green food coloring
2 teaspoons Frangelico

In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar and all the cocoa, set aside.

With a standing mixer, cream the butter at medium speed, gradually adding the 1 & 1/2 cups sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, dry whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.

With the mixer on low speed, add 1 cup of the flour mixture, beat, then add 1/3 cup of the milk and beat again. Repeat until all of the flour mixture and milk are blended into the batter. Beat on medium high speed for 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour half of the batter into a clean medium bowl.

Add the peppermint flavoring and a couple drops of green food coloring to one bowl of the batter, unless you want it bright green then add more!

Pour two- thirds of the now green batter into the bottom of the cake pan. Set aside the rest.

Clean off your mixer beaters, dry and return them to the mixer.

Add the cocoa and sugar mixture to the yellow batter and add the Frangelico. Beat until smooth.

Using your spatula, pour the chocolate flavored batter over the green batter in the cake pan.

Layer the remaining third of the green batter over the chocolate batter. Then Marble by taking a spatula or plastic knife and cutting through the batters. Bring the spatula or knife toward you and then up toward the side of the pan, rotate the pan and repeat. Two rotations, no more.

Bake for 1 hour, when the cake tests done, cool for 15 to 30 minutes and unmold the cake onto a rack. Start checking the cake with a toothpick after 50 minutes for doneness.

For the Glaze

1/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons Frangelico

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, water and Frangelico and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

If you want more Frangelico flavor, drizzle the cake with the glaze.

Serves 16

Baked Rhubarb with Orange, Clove and Vanilla

Imagine yourself seated on a terrace under a Wisteria in full bloom enjoying an elegant but simply prepared dessert with your friends on one of the warmer evenings of spring. While I was walking yesterday I saw a Wisteria in full bloom over a beautiful terrace in a neighbor’s backyard and I began to think about hosting an annual Wisteria blooming party which of course features great food and wine. I came up with a simple, make ahead dessert idea for this fantasy garden party, just in case you wanted to play golf or take a hike the day of the party you could still serve a great dessert without slaving away in your kitchen. I adapted this recipe from Deborah Madison’s new book, ‘Seasonal Fruit Desserts’. I plan on serving baked rhubarb, something I’ve never tried, with one of my favorites, Laloo’s Vanilla Flake goat’s milk ice cream and cardamom cookies, another one of Deborah Madison’s recipes.

I found beautiful organic rhubarb from Washington at Whole Paycheck in Petaluma today which is my favorite Whole Foods Store so far, I’m hoping I like the new Novato Store, which is supposed to open in 2 days. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Petaluma Whole Foods, I used to shop there when it was a Wild Oats market.

The slices of baked rhubarb keep their shape which is nice and would also be good served for breakfast with yogurt.


1 & 1/2 pounds rhubarb, about 4 cups sliced
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar, more for sprinkling on top
1 orange, juiced and zested
1 2 inch piece of vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
3 cloves

Preheat the oven to 375°

Rinse the rhubarb, trim the ends and slice into small diagonal pieces. In a large bowl combine the sugars, orange juice, zest and the sliced rhubarb. Transfer the mixture to a gratin dish and bury the cloves and vanilla bean in the rhubarb mixture.

Bake until the rhubarb is tender when pierced with a knife, about 35-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the baking dish, then cover and refrigerate. I found the rhubarb still a bit tart for my taste so I sprinkled 2 more tablespoons of the cane sugar on top.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and cookies for dessert.

Serves 10-12 in small bowls

Cardamom Icebox Cookies

Simply wonderful versatile icebox cookie recipe from Deborah Madison’s ‘Seasonal Fruit Desserts’ that tastes great with her baked rhubarb recipe. I used the organic ground cardamom seeds from the bulk spices at Whole Foods in Petaluma and that is one aromatic jar of ground cardamom! If you go to the market seriously check it out. I doubled the recipe because I don’t like making small batches of cookies when it’s just as easy to make extra dough and stash it in the freezer for baking off later.


2 sticks unsalted butter
4 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 cup organic confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
3 cups all purpose flour
Demerara sugar, optional for coating edge of cookies


Beat the butter, sugars, salt and ground cardamom seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes at medium speed. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until it comes together. Remove the dough with a bowl scraper, place on the counter and cut in half.

Tear off 2 sheets of wax paper about 14 inches long and set aside. Shape the dough into 2 logs about 10 inches long and place one on each sheet of wax paper. Roll up the dough, using your hands to form a longer cylinder. Shape it round or square, square is easy and fun, just use your hands to shape it the way you like.

Freeze the dough until firm, it doesn’t have to be frozen solid, a short time in the freezer is adequate.

Preheat the oven to 350°

Roll the logs in the Demerara sugar, if using, and slice into 1/4 inch thick round or square cookies. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet or use Silpats. Bake until lightly colored on top and brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the pan.

Makes about 50 small cookies.

Grilled Asparagus with Buffalo Mozzarella, Picholine Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

Early spring vegetables are perfect grilled, especially asparagus when the stalks are thin and tender. There is no need to blanch them before grilling and that makes this appetizer recipe even simpler to prepare. I can’t eat enough asparagus this time of year so when I fell in love with a grilled asparagus appetizer with Buffalo mozzarella at Palio d’asti in San Francisco’s Financial District, I naturally began to think about how I could make it at home. The original recipe had marinated sun dried tomatoes but the first time I tried to make it the flavors of the tomatoes overpowered the rest of the ingredients, not like at the restaurant, where they were perfect! So, rather then bang my head against the proverbial kitchen wall, I opted for the fresh cherry tomatoes which are from Arizona, where it’s hot enough to grow tomatoes this time of year, lucky people. We enjoyed this grilled asparagus appetizer last night before a dinner of roasted chicken, potatoes and a green salad.


1 small bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
1/2 Buffalo mozzarella, cut in 2-3 slices
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/8 cup Picholine olives
2 tablespoons olive oil, for grilling and finishing
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Sprinkle of fleur de Sel
Sea salt to taste, for grilling asparagus


Heat up the grill pan, brush the asparagus with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and grill over medium high heat until tender with nice grill marks. Transfer to heat proof plate and set aside.

Preheat the broiler

Slice the cherry tomatoes and green olives, set aside.

Slice the mozzarella, place on top of the asparagus and put under the broiler for just a few minutes until cheese softens and slightly melts over the asparagus, don’t let it brown. Carefully remove from oven, salt the mozzarella with the fleur de sel, sprinkle with the olives, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and olive oil.

Serves 2 for an appetizer