Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk




In these strange times of lockdown, a lot of people are craving comfort foods from their childhood.  I recently decided to remake one of my old favorites - Jello with Milk. My family wasn't big on desserts and this is one of the few things that my Father made for us, so there are some happy memories associated with it. And, the other reason I made it is that I realized that my Father died 40 years ago on September 13th, so I made this new version in his honor. 

I've long avoided my formerly loved Red Jello because of my reaction to food coloring and as an adult, I definitely developed a lactose intolerance. So this new version uses natural Gelatin, from either Beef or Pork, or you can use Agar Agar for a vegan option. And, I made the Jelly with Mango Juice and substituted lightly sweetened Coconut Milk. You can make the Coconut Milk as sweet as you like and you can sweeten the juice if you like too. I used superfine Sugar as it dissolves easier and this can easily be made by pulsing regular sugar in a food processor for a bit. If you use regular sugar, you may want to heat the Coconut Milk to help the Sugar dissolve, but be sure to cool it before serving. This recipe can also be adapted using all different kinds of juice. I was going for the tropical flavors and I happened to have Mango Juice in my fridge.  I have to admit that I still absolutely love this dessert!  I miss my Father to this day, but I have so many good memories. Like Proust and his Madeleines, this is one of my good food memories, all grown up!

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk

2 cups Mango Juice

1 Tablespoon Gelatin (I used Pork Gelatin)

1 can of Coconut Milk

1 - 3 Tablespoons Sugar (superfine if possible)

Take 1/2 cup of Mango Juice and sprinkle in the Gelatin, whisking to combine. Let it bloom for 5 minutes and it will end up looking somewhat curdled. 

In the meantime, Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of Mango in a small pan and heat until just before it starts to boil. Pour in the bloomed Gelatin and stir to combine. Pour into a small square or rectangular pan, cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

When ready to serve, open the Coconut Milk (and Cream on top) and pour it into a bowl. Whisk in the Sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, tasting with each addition, and stir until it is dissolved. Or if using regular Sugar, heat until the Sugar is dissolved and then cool before serving. 

Unmold the Gelatin and cut into cubes. Pour Coconut Milk into 3 - 4 small bowls and add the Mango Cubes on top.

Five Element Analysis

Even though this dessert is not that sweet, it is very Earthy as tropical fruits, both the Mango and the Coconut belong to the Earth Element. However, there is a bit of the Metal Element in Coconuts as well as Coconut Milk is white and Gelatin involves cartilage, which is part of the Wood Element. If you use Agar Agar, you have added the Metal Element. This is clearly not a balanced dish by itself, but adds some Earth to whatever meal you serve it with. 


Monday, August 31, 2020

Tofu and Vegetable Scramble


 







I had some veggies and leftovers languishing in my fridge and needed to use them up. So, I made a Tofu Scramble and added them in. My good friend Deirdre often makes Tofu Scrambles for us when we travel to our classes and stay in an Airbnb.  So, I took one of her tricks, which is to use Turmeric to color the Tofu so that it looks so much more appetizing - it's also good for lowering inflammation. Besides the Tofu, I used a Leek, although you could easily use Onions or Shallots or Green Onions, and a half of a Red Pepper, along with some leftover Corn and a big handful of chopped Kale that was part of a vegetable delivery gift. I sautéed them all together and added a bit of Vegan Chicken Broth powder and some Tamari. It was delicious!  Not only did I clean out my fridge a bit (and throw in everything I could except the Kitchen Sink - as the saying goes), I made a wonderful dish just perfect for a healthy lunch, although it would be good for breakfast too!

Tofu and Vegetable Scramble 

1 package (14 ounces) Firm Tofu, drained and crumbled

1 Leek, green part cut off, cut in half, rinsed and then cut into small pieces (or 1/2 cup of chopped Onion or Shallots)

1/2 large Red Pepper, trimmed and cut into a small dice

1/2 cup of cooked (or frozen) Corn

2 cups chopped Kale or other Greens 

2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil (I used Sunflower)

1/2 Tablespoon of dried Turmeric

1/2 Tablespoon of Powdered (Vegan) Chicken Broth (I used Orrington Farms)

1 Tablespoon of Tamari or Soy Sauce

Fresh ground Black Pepper

In a wok or a large frying pan, heat the Oil and add in the Leek and Red Pepper. Cook until it just softens and add in the Tofu, Corn and Kale. Cook until the mixture is bubbling a lot, stirring often and the greens are wilted. Then add in the Seasonings and stir to combine. Taste and adjust, as necessary. Sprinkle with Pepper and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Tofu is part of the Metal Element and the Leeks add even more as do the spices in the Vegan Chicken Broth. Kale, as a dark green Vegetable contributes both the Water and Wood Elements and the Tamari brings in a little more Water. The Red Pepper and Black Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present and the Turmeric and the Corn add in the Earth Element. This, then, is a very balanced dish!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Roasted Ratatouille with Ventrache or Pancetta

 

I love making Ratatouille in the Summer when the Tomatoes are ripe. Today, I had my very first harvest of Plum Tomatoes and I was very excited. I was previously gifted with a lot of Zucchini and I almost always have an Eggplant in the fridge too, so it was time to make it! I think having ripe Tomatoes makes a huge difference as they are much sweeter.

Usually, Ratatouille requires the top sauce the vegetables separately before putting it together to cook in a sauce.  But this time I did something different! I decided to roast all the vegetables before putting them together. I used 3 different sheet pans - one small one for the Eggplant and another small one for the Tomatoes and one big one for the Zucchini, Red Onion and Red Pepper. I used Parchment to keep anything from sticking. Then I put them all in the oven after tossing them with Olive Oil and Salt and scooped whatever vegetable was done at 20, 30 and 40 minutes increments. When they were all done, I tossed them all together and added in some cooked Ventreche, which is the French version of Pancetta that I crisped in a frying pan while the vegetables were roasting. But you can leave it out if you are a Vegetarian. I like the extra saltiness and chewy texture it adds. This version of Ratatouille was so easy and so good that I'm going to make it this way from now on!


Roasted Ratatouille with Ventracche or Pancetta

1 medium Eggplant, ends cut off and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon Salt for the Eggplant
2 small or 1 medium Zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, stem cut off, seeds and membranes removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 large Red Onion, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes cut into a dice
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
Sprinkling of Black Pepper
1 cup of cubed Ventrache or Pancetta

Place the Eggplant into a bowl and salt it. Leave while you cut the other vegetables.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two 1/4 sheet pans and one 1/2 sheet pan with Parchment. Or use two 1/2 Sheet Pans but keep the Tomatoes and Eggplant separate
 
Rinse the Eggplant pieces and put the pieces onto one of the 1/4 sheet pans. Drizzle with 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and a little Salt and Pepper. 

Then put the Tomato on the other 1/4 sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil. Sprinkle with a little Salt and Pepper

Then put the Zucchini, Red Pepper and Onions on the 1/2 sheet pan separated a little and drizzle with the remaining Oil and sprinkle with the remaining Salt and a little Pepper.

Place all the sheet pans in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes before checking. 

In the meantime, cook the Ventrache or Pancetta in a small frying pan on the stove, rendering the fat and making it a little crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Remove the Onion pieces if the edges are starting to brown and place in a bowl. Cook the remaining vegetables for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Zucchini and place in the bowl. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Red Pepper and Tomato and put into the bowl. Cook for 5 more minutes and remove the Eggplant and add to the bowl. Add the Ventrache (or Pancetta) and toss to coat. Serve warm or cool.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant and Ventrache (or Pancetta) both belong to the Water Element. The Olive Oil contributes the Wood Element and the Tomatoes and Red Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present as well. The Zucchini brings in the Earth Element and the Onions round out the Elements by adding Metal. To me, this is the perfect light Summer meal and it's balanced too!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Zucchini Bread

 

I was given some Zucchini by a friend, as this is the season for lots of Zucchini to be harvested. And, one of the first things i make when I get those big late summer Zucchini is Zucchini Bread. This is a pretty standard recipe with the usual ration of 2 cups of Flour (I used King Arthur's Gluten Free Measure for Measure) to 1 cup of Sugar, although I used Brown Sugar as it makes the loaf more moist  and I then add some kind of fat - in this case I used Oil but you can certainly use melted Butter.  And, of course, I added in 2 Eggs to hold it together  I used Duck Eggs, which are bigger so i also cut back on the amount of Oil by about 2 Tablespoons. I also used a combination of Baking Soda and Baking Powder. Baking Powder is useful when there is no acid in the Batter, which is why I used a bit more, but Baking Soda helps brown baked goods, so I had to include it. I also do something a little different with the Zucchini. Of course, I grated it, but I removed the core of seeds first as I think they are mushy. That allows me to use a bit more Zucchini in the bread and I think that makes it moister. I added just a bit of Vanilla Extract and Cinnamon, as I usually do, but sometimes I will grate some Lemon Zest instead.  And, I like to sprinkle the top with a little Sugar in the Raw, mostly because it's pretty, but also because it gives it some crunch. So, if you have too much Zucchini, this recipe is for you!

Zucchini Bread

1 1/4 cups Grated Zucchini (cut in half and seeds scooped out before grating)
2 Eggs
3/4 cups neutral tasting Oil, like Sunflower or Safflower or Grape Seed
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups Gluten Free Flour 
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Sugar in the Raw

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Then scary a loaf pan with Oil.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the Zucchini, Eggs, Oil, Sugar and Vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the Flour, Baking Powder and Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon. Then add to the Zucchini Mixture. Stir to blend and pour into the loaf pan. Sprinkle evenly with the Sugar in the Raw.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before serving. It's even better the next day.

Five Element Analysis

As a Sweet Bread made with Sugar, this is going to be a part of the Earth Element. Zucchini adds even more Earth. It is actually a combination of Earth, since it is a squash, and the Wood Element since it is Green.  The Eggs and Oil (made from Seeds) bring in the Water Element. The Cinnamon, Vanilla, Baking Powder and Baking Soda bring in just a little of the Metal Element and the Gluten Free Flour, made mostly of Rice Flour adds even more So, add this as an afternoon snack with a cup of Tea or Coffee, which brings in the Fire Element. Or, serve it after dinner when you have a Fire food as a main dish, like a Summer Salad.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Lime Vinaigrette

I haven't been cooking much lately because it's been so hot. I've mostly been making Salads, most of which I've posted already. But yesterday I made a Salad Dressing that I really liked that I poured over a Salad made up of cooked, leftover Corn, Green Onion tops, bits of Ham and cut up Tomatoes. The Dressing contained most Lime Juice and Olive Oil with a spoonful of Coconut Aminos, which is a little bit like a very light Soy Sauce and a little minced Shallot too.  It was so good that I thought I would share it with you. Of course, I made it again today to use on a Cucumber Salad and it was also worked and I'm quite sure it would be good on Lettuce as well. If you don't haven any Coconut Aminos  you can substitute Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Tamari, but use a lot less. It's my new favorite Salad Dressing!

Lime Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Coconut Aminos (or Bragg's or Tamari)
1/4 teaspoon Salt  
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon of minced Shallot (or Red Onion)

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the Salad ingredients of your choice. 

Five Element Analysis

This Salad Dressing is predominantly made up of Wood Element ingredients - it's mostly  Lime Juice and Olive Oil. So this is a good Dressing to use on the Salad I prepared, as it contained Corn from the Earth Element, Tomatoes from the Fire Element, Shallots and Green Onions from  the Metal Element and Ham from the Water Element. I didn't do that on purpose, but it's wonderful that I ended up eating a balanced Salad!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Oven Roasted Duck Legs












I really enjoy Duck but I often forgot to make it. That's probably because I never had it much as a child, except when we had Peking Duck at a Chinese banquet and then it was more about the crispy skin than the meat. Later, I developed a real love for Roast Duck that I would buy at the Chinese Deli and would save the bones to make Thai Duck Noodle Soup. And although Duck was still a little harder to find, I started eating it more and usually bought at my local Asian Market. Lately I've been eating it a lot because I've been ordering it and having it delivered.

First I started buying Duck Breasts and pan searing them to render the fat and then finishing them in the oven, much like Steak. But last night, I decided to make Oven Roasted Duck Legs because I wanted to replicate Duck Confit for a salad. For those of you who've never made Duck Confit, it is Duck Legs (which also includes the Thigh) cooked in Duck Fat. I didn't have any Duck Fat, so I slow Roasted the Duck instead and the accumulated fat and juices basted the Duck Legs. It turned out so well. What I like about this recipe is that like Duck Breasts, you do start them in a frying pan to get the skin browned and then put the Duck Legs in a baking dish, pour in the rendered fat, cover them with foil and cook for 1-1/2 hours. Then you take off the foil and cook them for another 30 minutes until they've crisped up. You can use any number of herbs and spices along with some Salt. I went for the simplest Chinese version, which was just Salt mixed with a little Five Spice Powder. I ate one leg last night with some Chinese Plum Sauce, some Rice and a Cucumber Salad and I was very happy!  I used some of the leftover Duck in a Salad today and I'll make some soup tomorrow using the bones as a base for the broth. Duck is delicious!

Oven Roasted Duck Legs

4 Duck Legs
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Five Spice Powder

Heat the oven to 325 degrees

Mix together the Salt and Five Spice Powder in a little bowl.

Season each Duck Leg all over with 1/4 teaspoon of the Seasoning. Place each Duck Leg skin side down in a frying pan big enough to hold all 4 or cook them in two batches. Heat the pan to medium high for 7 - 8 minutes to render some fat and brown the skin, turn over and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Put the Duck Legs skin side up in a glass baking dish with enough room for them all to fit. Pour in the accumulated fat and cover with a piece of foil. Cook for 1-1/2 hours. Take them out of the oven, remove the foil and put back in for an additional 30 minutes. If you want the skin to be even crisper, you can turn the oven on to broil after you've drained off al the fat and juices. But only leave the Duck Legs under the broiler for a minute or two and be careful not to burn them. Serve with the sauce of your choice.

Five Element Analysis

Duck is considered a Water Element food and is used as a Yin tonic in Chinese Dietary Therapy. The Five Spice Powder brings in just a hint of the Metal Element, so build your meal around this very Watery food.


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Lomo Saltado - Peruvian Steak and Potatoes













I have a great love for both Steak and French Fries so any meal where they are served together makes me very happy!  Lomo Saltado goes a bit further and serves the Steak on top of the French Fries, which allows some of the Fries to get softened from the sauce of the dish. It's absolutely delicious!  It is a dish from Peru where a Chinese stir-fry met Peruvian Potatoes. It's part of the Chifa Cuisine of Peru. My Mom's Peruvian friend made it for me a long time ago and it became one my favorite dishes to make for many years. But like many things I used to cook, I completely forgot about it until recently when I was talking to my son about cooking frozen French fries and I told him how I used to use them for this dish.  Of course, I had to show him how good Lomo Saltado is and I am happy to say he loved it too!  

I do several things a little differently then the restaurant versions. First, I don't use the Aji Amarillo Chiles, as they are very hot. You can buy the paste online. My son added hot sauce to his, but I like mine not spicy. Also, I don't add Vinegar, even though it's traditional. However, I do use Soy Sauce (Gluten Free naturally) and I like to add a bit of Cumin too. It's usually made with a cut of Beef like a Sirloin Steak, but I used Bison Steaks instead. Be sure to use a wok if you have one, but a cast iron skillet is a good substitute.

Lomo Saltado actually a very simple dish, especially if you use frozen French Fries. They actually take the longest to cook. as once the Steak, Red Onion, Red Peppers and Tomatoes are cut up, it takes only minutes to cook it all in the wok.This dish is easily doubled if you are serving more people, but be sure to cook the meat 1/2 at a time to make sure it browns properly. Then you pile the French Fries on plates and serve the Steak on top. You can also serve it on the side if you want your French Fries to stay crispier and if you like, you can serve it with Rice too. It's so good!

Lomo Saltado - Peruvian Steak and Potatoes

1 pound of Steak (Beef or Bison)
1/2 large Red Onion, sliced thin (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 Red Pepper or a mixture of small Red, Yellow and Orange Peppers, trimmed and sliced
2 Roma Tomatoes, cut into wedges
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon Aji Amarillo Paste or Hot Sauce
Optional:  1 Tablespoon White Vinegar

Serve with 4 cups of French Fries, cooked in the oven until crisp.

Slice the Steak into 1/2 inch wide pieces. Dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with Salt and Pepper.

Heat a wok and add in 2 Tablespoons of OIl. Put in the Steak slices and let cook until it gets brown. Then turn the slices over with a spatula and cook the other side. Remove to a bowl.  Wipe out the wok and add the additional 1 Tablespoon of Oil. Then put in the Red Onion and Peppers. Cook until the Onions soften, about 2 minutes. Then add in the Tomatoes and  cook until the Onions just begin to brown and the Tomatoes are soft, about another minutes. Then add in the Cumin, toss it all together and then add in the Meat. Drizzle in the Soy Sauce and add the Hot Space and Vinegar, if using. Toss together again to blend all the ingredients and take off the heat. 

To serve:  Put the French Fries on plates and divide the Meat Mixture and the sauce and place on top or on the side of the Potatoes. Sprinkle with Cilantro to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and I think Bison probably does too. The Potatoes are also an Earth food. So overall, this is a very Earthy dish!  The Onions contribute the Metal Element along with the Cilantro. The Peppers, Tomatoes and Hot Sauce all bring in the Fire Element and the Soy Sauce adds the Water Element.  Only the Wood Element is missing except for the hint of it in the Cilantro, so be sure to serve a leafy green vegetable on the side.