Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Japanese Chicken Curry

I have a thing for Japanese Curry and I have for as long as I can remember. I used to buy those packages of Vermont Curry (who knows why they are called that since they are made in Japan) and I would break off chunks of the solidified seasoning sauce and add it to chicken cooked with carrots, potatoes and onions. It was a warm and homey bowl of deliciousness that was served over steamed rice. I've been missing it ever since I found out that it was thickened with wheat flour and I can't eat that anymore as I've gone completely Gluten Free. So tonight, I made a Gluten Free version that made me so happy - it tasted just right and I just kept eating it and eating it, so luckily I made a lot!  

The trick to getting this version of Curry to taste like the one in the box is to use S&B Curry Powder if you can find it. Other brands will work too, but this one has a special flavor mix. The onions are sautéed until they are caramelizing and other pungent seasonings are a bit of Ginger and Garlic. I then added Carrots and Potatoes and the Curry Powder along with Chicken Broth and grated Apple and cooked it until the Potatoes were tender. Then I added in cut up Chicken Breasts - you could also use Beef or Pork or Tofu - and finally mixed in a Roux made with Sweet Rice Flour and Butter to thicken it. I didn't have any frozen peas, but that would also have been a good addition. This Japanese Chicken Curry turned out really creamy and had that same special Japanese Curry smell and taste that I've been craving. If you want to make it spicier, you can buy the Hot version of the S&B Curry Powder or sprinkle on a little bit of S&B Nanami Tagarashi - Japanese Assorted Chili  Pepper - or Cayenne Pepper. But, I like my Curry non the mild side. This is such a wonderful dish for a cold winter night!

Japanese Chicken Curry

1 large Onion, cut into square pieces about 1 inch
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Garlic Coves, minced
1 teaspoon grated Ginger
2 heaping Tablespoons S&B Curry Powder
4 cups Chicken Broth + up to 1 cup more
3 medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds (cut in half if large)
1 pound of boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour (also called Mochiko or Sticky Rice Flour)
Optional:  1/2 cup frozen Peas, defrosted
1/8 teaspoon S&B Nanami Tagarashi or Cayenne Pepper sprinkled on top

In a wok or large pot, heat the oil and add in the Onions. Cook stirring frequently with a spatula until the Onions start browning and getting caramelized.  Add in the Garlic and Ginger. Stir until you smell their fragrance.  Add in the Curry Powder and then pour in the Chicken Broth. Add in the Potatoes and Carrots.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Then add in the Chicken and cook for an additional 15 minutes.  

While the Chicken is cooking, make the Roux. Melt the Butter in a frying pan. Add in the Sweet Rice Four and stir until the mixture becomes light golden brown. Turn off heat and reserve.

When the Chicken is cooked through, add in the Roux and stir until thickened. If it is too thick, add in up to 1 cup more of Chicken Broth. This is also the time to add in the Peas, if you are using them. Serve with Steamed Rice.

Five Element Analysis

As a thick stew, there is a a strong suggestion of the Earth Element and the Potatoes and Carrots add even more. There is a also a lot of the Metal Element as Curry is a mixture of Metallic Spices and the Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Rice Flour and Butter add even more Metal. The Chicken and Chicken Broth make sure that the Wood Element is involved. The Water and Fire Elements are not present so you can add in some S&B Nanami Tagarashi, which also has some Sesame seed and Seaweed in it which adds some Fire and Water or Cayenne, which adds just Fire. And be sure to add some other foods in your meal that bring in more of the Fire and Water Elements for balance. I served it with Tea for the Fire, along with the S&B Nanami Tagarashi and some pickled Japanese Eggplant that brought in some Water and extra Wood too.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Avocado and Egg Toast

I think most people know that Avocado on Toast is delicious and I love it for breakfast. Actually I love it anytime as a snack. But for breakfast, I also need some protein and I came across this new way of serving Avocado on Toast that incorporates chopped up Hardboiled Egg. Of course, I used Gluten Free Bread for my Toast. I got this recipe from my friend Deirdre and it is so delicious. It is also so simple that I hesitated to post it, but if you haven't tried it, you really should. The Avocado acts much like Mayonnaise does in an Egg Salad with a smooth and creamy consistency. The hardboiled Egg is chewy and makes this dish more substantial and satisfying. I sprinkled it with Creole Seasoning because I like a little spice.

And a quick tip - the best way to find a ripe Avocado is to pull off the stem and if it is green underneath, the Avocado is perfectly ripe. Avocado is full of good mono saturated fat and in Chinese Medicine, it is considered a food that is very nourishing to the lungs, intestines and also nourishes the blood. When something that is so good for you also tastes so wonderful you need to add this to your breakfast repertoire often!

Avocado and Egg Toast

1 small Avocado (I used a Haas Avocado)
2 Eggs
Water for Boiling
Salt and fresh ground Pepper
Seasoned Salt of your Choice - I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or Paprika
4 pieces of Toast 

Place Eggs in a small pan and cover with water. Heat and just bring to a boil and then time for 8 - 10  minutes. Drain pan and fill with cold water.  Peel the Eggs and then chop them into small pieces.

Toast your bread and place on a serving plate. In a bowl, mash the Avocado and add the chopped Eggs.  Mix together with a sprinkling of Salt and Pepper. Spread on Toasts and then sprinkle with Seasoned Salt or Paprika and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element and Avocados belong to the Wood Element because they are green. The Seasoned Salt brings in a bit of Metal and Fire as does the Paprika if you use that instead.  There needs to be more Fire so serve this with Coffee or Tea and make it sweet or add Almond or Coconut Milk or also have some fruit to make this a balanced Five Element breakfast.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Russian Tea Cakes - Gluten Free

Russian Tea Cakes are one of my family's favorite Christmas Cookies. It's basically a  shortbread that's made with ground Walnuts and coated with Powdered Sugar. It's crumbly and rich at the same time. They are known as Mexican Wedding Cakes if you use ground Pecans iand these cookies are also called Snowballs in some parts of the country. I've been searching for a good Gluten Free recipe and I've tried several but finally found a good one from Bob's Red Mill. They used Hazelnut Meal for what they call their Holiday Tea Cookies, which I'm sure makes a great cookie, but I substituted Walnuts. And, I lowered the salt content slightly as their recipe made a very salty cookie. The best news is that absolutely no one realized that the cookie was Gluten Free! That's when I know that I've achieved my goal - to make really delicious cookies that just happen to be Gluten Free!

Russian Tea Cakes - Gluten Free adapted from Bob's Red Mill

1 cup Butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar + 1 1/2 cups for Coating
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups Gluten Free Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour) 
3/4 cup ground Walnuts
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Mix together the Butter, Vanilla and Powdered Sugar until very creamy. Add in the dry ingredients and incorporate fully.  Make walnut sized balls and place on plates. Cover with Plastic Wrap and refrigerate the cookies for 2 hours up to overnight. 

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the remaining Powdered Sugar in a bowl, and roll each cookie in the sugar.  Then put onto a parchment of Silpat covered baking pan.  Cook for 12 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned at the edges.  Cool slightly, then take each cookie and carefully roll in powdered sugar before placing on a rack to cool completely. Roll the cookies in Powdered Sugar again before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

Walnuts belong to the Water Element and they are considered very good for your Kidneys and your Brains, since they look like them. The Rice Flour and Butter contribute the Metal Element along with the Vanilla. The Sugar and the Tapioca and Potato Flours in the mix add the Earth Element. So, only the Fire Element and Wood Element are missing, so have these cookies with some Tea or Coffee that adds Fire and make sure that the Wood Element is present in another food later. Like I said in my last post, I made sure that I made some Passion Fruit Bars for my cookie plate that contributed the sour flavor of Wood to create a balanced plate of cookies!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Molasses Ginger Cookies - GF

Every Christmas, I look forward to making Molasses Ginger Cookies, but now that I've gone completely Gluten Free, I haven't found a recipe I loved until this year!  It's from Bob's Red Mill and uses their Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, which already has Xanthum gum in it.  If you want to make these cookies with other Gluten Free flours, check to make sure that ingredient is in there. And, of course I had to tweak the recipe by adding in Candied Ginger and fresh Ginger Juice to up the flavor and also a little bit of Nutmeg. They were wonderful! I only made a half batch (that's the recipe below) to test them and now I'm making another full batch because they were so good. They reminded me a bit of the GF Ginger Cookies from Trader Joe's, but they were softer and chewier. I'm so happy that I finally found a recipe that works for my favorite Christmas cookies! If I find anymore, I will be sure to post those too.

Molasses Ginger Cookies – GF adapted from Bob's Red Mill
6 T Butter softened
¼  cup Sugar + additional ¼ cup for rolling the cookies
¼ cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup Molasses
1 Egg
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated Ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/8 teaspoon of Nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Salt
¾ teaspoon of Baking Soda
1 ¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour
½ cup Candied Ginger, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, cream together ¼ cup of Sugar and the Butter. Add in the Molasses and the Eggs and mix thoroughly- the mixture will look curdled.  Add in the Spices and Ginger Juice, Salt, Baking Soda and Flour, Mix until well combined and add the Candied Ginger.  The dough will be soft and wet.  Roll spoonfuls of the dough into 1” balls and roll in the additional sugar. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet 3-4 inches apart. Cook for 15 minutes or until the cookies are set at the edges, but still slightly soft and puffy in the center. Cool slightly and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container. 

Five Element Analysis

Cookies always belong to the Earth Element because they are so sweet and this is no exception. The ingredients in the 1-to-1 Baking Flour add in more Earth from the Potato Starch and the Tapioca Starch, but it also brings in some of the Metal Element from the Rice Flour.  he Spices and Butter contribute more of the Metal Element and the Molasses and Egg contribute the Water Element. By the way, Molasses helps build blood so you can say these cookies are somewhat healthy! Anyway, these cookies are perfect with a cup of Tea or Coffee, which would add the Fire Element. Only the Wood Element is missing, so be sure to add a food from that element some other time in the day to create a balance. I'm personally going to make some GF Lemon Bars to get some of the Wood Element on my Cookie Plate!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tamari Almonds and Sunflower Seeds

I serve snacks in my Master Face Reading Program and one of the most appreciated and now requested recipes is Tamari Almonds and Sunflower Seeds. This is one of those recipes that is so simple that all it requires are the ingredients in it's name: Tamari and Almonds and Sunflower Seeds - that's it!  And, all you have to do is heat the raw Almonds and Sunflower Seeds in a small frying pan until they are hot and then sprinkle with Tamari and keep stirring until it dries up and coats them. How easy is that?  What emerges from the pan, is a savory delight!  Tamari is not as salty as Soy Sauce and the Umami flavor is just perfect if you like crunchy snacks. You can actually use any kind of nut or seed with this simple recipe and it's always delicious. You can add other seasonings too if you want, like Garlic and Onion Powder or Smoked Paprika or ground Cumin, but I love the simplicity of this recipe. Tamari Almonds and Sunflower Seeds are also very good on top of Salad. I often double or triple this recipe to serve a crowd and it's always a crowd pleaser. This is truly one of my favorite snacks!

Tamari Almonds and Sunflower Seeds

1 cup slivered raw Almonds (can use whole Almonds as well)
1 cup raw Sunflower Seeds
1 teaspoon Tamari

In a small frying pan over medium, cook the Almonds and Tamari until they are hot and you can smell their fragrance. Drizzle the Tamari over them and stir quickly to coat and cook only until the Tamari drys up. Turn off the heat, cool and serve.

Five Element Analysis

In Chinese Medicine Almonds are good for the Lungs and they belong to the Earth Element Sunflower Seeds and Tamari represent the Water Element and support the Kidneys. So this snack is good for you too! Eat these with a cup of Tea to bring in the Fire Element and make sure that you eat a Wood food too, like some Kale Chips or even some Celery and Dip to create a Five Element balance.  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Turnip and Rutabaga Chips

I've been writing and editing my cookbook and working on recipes makes me very hungry!  And, my snack of choice lately has been a lot of packaged Potato Chips. So, I decided to go a bit healthier and make some different kinds of veggie chips. Today I made Turnip and Rutabaga Chips. Now, most people aren't fond of these two vegetables as they've often been a winter standby that are usually mashed. When raw, they have a bit of a mustardy smell and taste, but when they are roasted they get sweet and if you slice them thin enough, they make fabulous chips!  

Turnip and Rutabagas are different colors - Turnips are white and Rutabagas are a lovely soft yellow/orange. Together they are beautiful as well as delicious when made into chips. They are also very good for you. They are part of the family of Cruciferous vegetables that have anti-cancer properties and are full of phytonutrients and they are also high in fiber. In Chinese Medicine, they are said to cool the blood and the qi and help you get rid of phlegm so they are perfect foods for the  cold and flu weather. They are also good for digestion.

These chips are very easy to make and the only skill required is that you slice the pieces very thin - best to use a Mandoline if you can. I like them in half moon shapes as they area bit easier to manage and tend to get crispier. Then you toss them in Olive Oil and a Seasoned Salt of your choice or just salt and pepper and cook them in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Crisp them just a bit more if you like under the broiler. Let them cool and you will have made Turnip and Rutabaga Chips.  Some will be super crispy and some will still be soft - it's a mixture of textures.  As for flavors, they are savory and a little bit sweet too - a perfect snack and healthy too!

Turnip and Rutabaga Chips

4 small Turnips, stem ends cut off and peeled and cut in half
2 medium Rutabaga, stem ends cut off and peeled
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I used Paul Prudhomme's Vegetable Magic) or Salt and Pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and get two baking sheets ready by putting Parchment Paper on them.

Slice the Turnips and Rutabagas as thin as you can up to 1/4 inch wide - the thinner they are the crispier they will get but they will burn easier.  Place them in a mixing bowl and add the Olive Oil and Seasoned Salt.  Mix thoroughly.

Pour onto the prepared baking sheets and spread them out so that each chip is touching the Parchment and they are not overlapping. Place on upper and lower racks. Cook for 15 minutes and turn - place the pans back in the oven on the other rack  Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove all the chips that are browned.  

Heat the oven to broil and return the chips to the oven one pan at a time. Broil for up to 1 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn and remove from the oven. Repeat. Let the chips cool before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Turnips are a white pungent vegetable so they belong to the Metal Element and the Seasoned Salt adds a bit more Metal because of the Spices in the mixture. If you use Salt and Pepper, you are brining in just a hint of the Water and Fire Elements.  Rutabagas because of their color are more of an Earth vegetable so that element is represented too. The Olive Oil contributes the Wood Element so be sure to bring in more of the Water and Fire Element foods at another time.  I drank tea with my Chips so that added some Fire too.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Persimmon Halwa

Not too long ago, I had a great Carrot Halwa at my local Indian restaurant. It was part of the buffet and I was really surprised by how good it was. I actually thought it was Persimmon at the time. I wanted to make it at home, but I still have this thing about cooked carrots and couldn't get myself to do it. Then I realized that I had some slightly overripe Fuyu Persimmons and if I'm going to eat them out of hand, I want them crisp. I  thought about making a Persimmon Bread with them, but then I got the notion to actually go ahead and make Halwa with them.

Halwa is an Indian term for sweet or dessert and the kind of Halwa I'm talking about is a pudding made out of all sorts of different ingredients. In the Fall and Winter, it is served hot and the main spice is Cardamom. It is rich and creamy and absolutely delicious. I used Ghee and Almond Milk and honestly, it probably would have been even richer with Cream, so if you can use Cream, I'd try it. If you want to be authentic, as I've never seen Persimmons used before in Halwa, make it with 1 pound of grated Carrots, but be sure to  increase the cooking time and double the amount of Ghee, Almond Milk (or Cream) and Sugar. I like my pudding to have some texture so I left the Persimmon a little chunky.  Cook it for longer and mash it if you want it smoother. 

Persimmon Halwa is very easy to make and can be made very fast so it's just perfect for a last minute dessert. And, Persimmons are sweet enough so that very little sugar is needed. I was always told that Persimmons were good for coughs, so I am hoping they will do their magic for me that way too.  I was so happy with this luscious and exotic dessert!

Persimmon Halwa 

4 Fuyu Persimmons
4 Tablespoons Ghee
1/4 cup Almond Milk (or Cream)
2 teaspoons up to 1 Tablespoon Sugar to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground Cardamom 
4 Tablespoons slivered Almonds - 1 Tablespoon per serving

Cut the Persimmons in quarters, removing the stem end and peel. Then chop it up.  Melt the Ghee in a frying pan over medium heat and add the Persimmons. Cook until the Persimmon is soft and hot and the color has gotten lighter, about 3 minutes. Add in the Almond Milk and cook until the liquid is mostly gone, about 5 minutes. Then stir in as much sugar as you like (I used only 2 teaspoons) and continue to cook until the sugar is mixed in fully and the Halwa gets sticky and thick, about 2 -3 minutes. Stir in the Cardamom and remove from the heat. Divide into 4 bowls and sprinkle slivered Almonds over each. Serve hot or warm.

Five Element Analysis

In Chinese Medicine, Persimmons are thought to clear heat and lower Blood Pressure. They are also supposed to be very good for your complexion as well as helping to relieve coughs.  Their lovely heart shape and red color shows that they are a fruit that belongs to the Fire Element so in this dish that element is covered. The Cream if you use it, the Ghee and the Cardamom contribute the Metal Element and the Almond Milk, Almonds and Sugar make sure the Earth Element is represented too. This would be a lovely dessert to serve with a Water food like Fish as a Main Course with some Green Vegetables served with it to bring in the Wood Element, creating a balanced Five Element meal.