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.  


Monday, July 6, 2020

Miso Glazed Cauliflower











If I had to pick a favorite flavor, it would be a choice between Salty and Savory/Umami because I love them both. And some wonderful ingredients are both - like Miso. Besides making Miso into a delicious soup, I find it to be a wonderful glaze for roasted vegetables. I previously posted a recipe with Eggplant, but my son Stephen helped me create a more traditional Japanese style sauce. This sauce uses both Sake and Mirin, but if you only have Mirin, just reduce the amount of Sugar that you use. The little bit of Sugar is important though, as it what is needed for the sauce to caramelize a bit so don't leave it out. This is a very easy dish to make. All you have to do is roast the Cauliflower and while it is cooking, you whip up the sauce. Then for the last few minutes, you toss the Cauliflower in the sauce and put it back in the oven on the broiler setting until it is just beginning to char on the edges and even and the glaze is bubbly.  It's wonderful!

Miso Glazed Cauliflower

1 large head of Cauliflower
4 Tablespoons Miso Paste
2 Tablespoons Sake
2 Tablespoons Mirin (or double if not using Sake)
2 Tablespoons Sugar (use only 1 T if only using Mirin)
2 Tablespoons Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 425 degrees

Separate the Cauliflower into florets, cutting off the tough part of the stem. Rinse and drain. Place in a mixing bowl and toss with the Oil and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Pour onto a sheet pan and place the oven. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the florets are just starting to turn brown.

In the meantime, put the Miso, Sake, Mirin and Sugar into a small pan. Stir and heat until the mixture just begins to bubble and the Sugar is melted. Take off the heat and cool.

Remove the Cauliflower from the oven. Turn the oven on to broil.  

Put the Cauliflower back into the mixing bowl and pour the glaze over. Toss lightly to coat. Put the Cauliflower back onto the sheet pan and put into the oven. Cook for about 3 minutes or more until the sauce is bubbly and the ends of the Cauliflower start to char. Serve hot or cold.

Five Element Analysis

Miso is a salty and savory condiment that belongs to both the Water and Metal Element. Cauliflower is one of the few Metal vegetables, so this is a mostly Metallic dish. However, the Fire Element shows up in the Sake and Mirin. And because the Mirin is also sweet along with the Sugar, it brings in the Earth Element too. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this with another dish that incorporates Green Vegetables and whatever main dish you like to create a balanced meal!


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Sunflower Seed and Brown Rice Veggie Burger













I've always had a fondness for Veggies Burgers (except when they contain Cheese) and I had one particular favorite - Sunshine Garden Burgers. I've been ordering them during the lockdown from my local Health Food Store, but in the last order, they were out. I thought maybe I could replicate them and I did!  I'm quite happy with the results so I may not be ordering them much anymore. I checked the website for the ingredients of their Veggie Burgers and I had the ingredients except for Chives, so I replaced them with Onions and I think I might even like them better. I made the Brown in a regular Rice Cooker which takes a long time, but you could also easily cook the Rice in an Instant Pot in about 20 minutes. If you use freshly cooked Rice, the extra Water may not be needed. But if you use Rice that has been stored in the refrigerator, you will probably need to use the extra Water since refrigerating Rice dries it up. Other than that, you just process it all in a food processor and it takes no time at all to come together.

I don't bother putting them in a bun as I like to eat them straight out of the oven or out of the pan and I don't even use any condiments  Both cooking methods work but the oven method makes them a bit drier and gives them a more even crispiness, while the pan fried method keeps the burger much softer with a harder, crisper crust. I did cook them both ways, just to test it out. And, personally prefer the oven method. I'm so happy with these Veggie Burgers!

Sunflower Seed and Brown Rice Veggie Burger

1 cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
1 cup cooked Brown Rice
3/4 cup of chopped Carrots
½ cup chopped Celery
½ cup chopped shallot or Onion (if using Chives use ¼ cup less)
1 teaspoon Salt or Seasoned Salt
1 – 2 Tablespoons Water if needed
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil divided
Optional:  1/4 cup minced Chives

Turn the oven to 375 degrees

Process the Sunflower Seeds into a meal in the food processor. Then add in the Brown Rice, the Carrots, Celery, Onion and Salt.  Pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth. Check the texture. It should be a bit soft but sticks together when you try to make a ball. If it is too dry, add in 1 Tablespoon of Water, stir and check again. Add the additional Tablespoon of Water if necessary.

Drizzle a baking sheet with 2 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil. Using a 3 - 3 1/2 inch Ring mold, fill the ring mold to make 6 Veggie Burgers.  Brush the tops with the remaining Vegetable Oil and place in the oven.

Cook for 15 minutes and turn over. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with the condiments of your choice and in a bun if you want.

Or pan fry one or two at a time on medium high heat for about 5 - 6 minutes per side.

You can also freeze them, but place parchment on the baking sheet (don’t use the oil). When they are frozen solid, you can place them into freezer storage bags.  When you want to cook them, follow the directions above, but cook for another few 3 - 5 minutes.  












Five Element Analysis

White Rice belongs to the Metal Element, but Brown Rice adds in the Earth There is more Earth added from the Carrots. The Sunflower Seeds contribute the Water Element and the Onion brings in the Metal Element. The Celery makes sure that the Metal Element is also present. It’s a pretty balanced little Veggie Burger. Only Fire is missing, which can easily be added by serving this Veggie Burger with a side salad or a glass of Iced Tea.  


Friday, June 5, 2020

Rhubarb Compote












One of the things I look forward to in the Spring is Rhubarb. I hear it's quite easy to grow, but I've never tried. I just wait until it shows up a the grocery store and today I got some delivered. I got more than I needed - I ordered 4 stalks, thinking they would be small and they were very large. So, I cut them up and made them into a simple compote that has a number of ways it can be used. 

Remember never to eat Rhubarb leaves, so be sure to trim any of those off. Then just trim and cut the Rhubarb into chunks, add some Sugar and some Water and let it stew for about 10 - 15 minutes. If you like the Rhubarb in chunks, leave it as it is. Or, you can mash the Rhubarb to make it smoother. 

My German Grandmother once told me that for every pound of Rhubarb, you need 1 cup of Sugar. I have friends who like their Rhubarb very tart, but like my Grandmother, I like it sweet too. So you can play with the amount of Sugar to suit your own tastes. You can use this Compote in place of Lemon Curd to make Cookie Bars, you can layer the Rhubarb with Whipped Cream in pretty glasses, or use it to make a Trifle. I like to mash up the Rhubarb a lot and eat it just like it is, kind of like a pudding. - warm or cold. It's so good, so easy and so delicious!

Rhubarb Compote 

1 pound of Rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1" chunks
3/4 - 1 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Water

Place the Sugar and Water in a pot and add the Rhubarb. Turn the stove on to medium heat. Cook, stirring until the Sugar melts. Then turn down the Heat and cook for 10 minutes. If you like the Compote to be smooth, mash it with a Potato Masher. Spoon into individual serving bowls and refrigerate or pour into a container and refrigerate to use later. 

Optional: Whipped Cream for serving

Five Element Analysis

Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, as it is the stalks of a big bush. It has a very tart flavor, which makes it part of the Wood Element, but the bright red color brings in some Fire too.  The Sugar adds in a lot of the Earth Element too. So, it's a good dessert to serve with Whipped Cream, which adds the Metal Element. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Simple Roasted Potatoes and Onions











Potatoes and Onions are one of those classic food combinations that I love. Of course, I put them together often in many dishes - stews, soups, hash, etc.  But one of the ways I like to make them most is to roast them. The problem with roasting them together is that Potatoes take a lot longer to cook and by the time they are done, the Onions are usually burnt. This recipe solves that problem. Just roast them on separate sheet pans, remove the Onions when they are nearly done and then add them back when the Potatoes are done and crips them up together under the broiler for the last few minutes. The Roasted Onions will flavor the Potatoes wonderfully with only the hint of char on a few pieces of Onion from broiling them to finish them off. This is the perfect side dish and it's so easy to make and is incredibly delicious too! 

Simple Roasted Potatoes and Onions

4 large Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large Yellow Onion, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, separated
1/2 teaspoon, divided

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Heat a pot of Water and add in the Potatoes when it is boiling. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain and place the Potato chunks onto a large sheet pan. Drizzle with 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, sprinkle with most of the Salt, toss lightly and place in the oven. 

Place the Onion chunks on a smaller sheet pan and drizzle with the remaining Olive Oil and Salt. Please in the oven.

Cook the Onions until they are browned (but not charred), about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Continue to cook the Potatoes until they are browned and crisp. Then take them out, add in the Onions and toss together. 

Heat the oven to broil, put the Potatoes and Onions and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes or until late Potatoes get a bit more browned, but be careful not to burn the Onions. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element and the browned, slightly caramelized Onions add in even more. The Onions also represent the Metal Element and the Olive Oil contributes the Metal Element. While this is not balanced by itself, it makes a really good side dish for a meal that contains both Fire and Water foods.