Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Roasted Artichokes with Lemony Garlic Butter

I read a Cooks recipe online about how to roast artichokes and I was intrigued. I learned how to make steamed artichokes when I was a teenager and I've been making them that way ever since. But, it's is a good time to make a change. And, since I love roasting so many other kinds of vegetables, I knew this would be good and it was. It was delightful! The artichokes come out nutty and more deeply flavored as there is no water to dilute the taste. This recipe is simple and only the preparation takes a bit of time.  Basically, you cut off the tops of the artichokes, clean out the choke and then drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and salt. Then you roast the them on a high heat. The original recipe called for covering them with foil, but I didn't have any and I liked the result, so I'm going to keep on doing it this way. Covering them would still be a variation on steaming them. I veered off the recipe when it came time to dressing them. Because they have such a lovely empty space above the heart, I poured in a small amount of Lemony Garlic Butter and then each leaf and the heart was coated with sauce and no dipping was required. This recipe can easily be doubled for a crowd. A big thank you to Cooks Magazine for inspiring me. I loved artichokes this way so much that I'm going to make them again tonight!

Roasted Artichokes with Lemony Garlic Butter

3 Large Glove Artichokes, rinsed
Juice of one lemon mixed with about 8 cups of water in a large bowl
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Salted Butter (or use Unsalted Butter and a bit of salt)
1 garlic clove minced
1 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice

Take each artichoke and cut off the top 1/3. Then cut in half. Pull out the inner purplish and pale green leaves and then use a spoon to scrape out the choke. Put artichoke halves in the  lemon water and repeat for other artichokes.  

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Then take the artichokes out of the water and place on a large baking sheet cut side up. Drizzle the artichoke halves with half the olive oil and salt and then turn cut-side down onto the baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining oil and salt. Roast for 1/2 hour.  

When done, heat butter in a small frying pan. Add garlic and cook until soft. Stir in lemon juice (and salt if using unsalted butter). Place artichokes cut side up on a serving plate.  Pour a small amount of the garlic butter into each artichoke half and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Artichokes belong to the Wood Element and they are in fact good medicine for a stagnant liver. The Butter and Garlic contribute the Metal Element so this dish is missing all the other elements.  It is recommended as a side dish for a meal that also includes Fire, Earth and Water dishes.  I served it with a salad for Fire that included some Earthy vegetables - carrots and zucchini and Fish for the Water Element.   

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Black Lentil Soup with Indian Flavors

You know those days when you have no idea what to cook? It's times like that when I get the most creative, as I have to mine my pantry and refrigerator vegetable drawers to create dinner. Last night, I had completely forgotten to prepare anything, I looked over at my jar of beautiful little Black Lentils and thought that it was time to use them. They are very tiny and are often called Beluga Lentils since they look so much like Caviar.  Lentils are part of the Pulse family and are high in protein, iron and other minerals too. They are considered one of the world's best foods.  

So, I made soup. As last night was the first rainy night we've had it Seattle for a while (really!), I was in the mood for something warming so I used Indian Spices. I also ended up using Chicken Broth to enhance the flavor, but this could just as easily become a Vegetarian soup with a good Vegetable Broth or just plain water instead.  It took only one hour to cook and I topped this beautiful and delicious with some caramelized Shallots because they brown up so nicely. And then I sprinkled on some chopped Cilantro before serving. It was so good - creamy, lightly spiced, definitely warming.  Now I have another soup to add to my repertoire.    

Black Lentil Soup with Indian Flavors

2 cups Black Lentils, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2" piece of Ginger, peeled and grated (or minced)
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala

1 14.5 oz can Chopped Tomatoes
8 - 9 cups diluted Chicken Broth (or can use Vegetable Broth or just Water)
Salt to taste

Topping:  2 large Shallots sliced cooked in 2 Tablespoons Butter until Caramelized 
1 cup of loosely packed Cilantro Leaves, chopped

Put a large soup pot on the stove and heat the butter until melted. Add the Onions, Garlic and Ginger and stir until onions are softened. Add in the spices and cook until they change color by getting darker. Add in the Black Lentils, the Tomatoes and the Broth.  Cook for one hour.  Add additional Broth or Water if the soup gets too thick. Season to taste with salt.

When done, cook the Shallots in butter until Caramelized, stir them into the soup and top the soup with Cilantro to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Lentils belong to the Earth Element so this is a primarily Earthy food. But the spices, Garlic, Onions and Shallots contribute the Metal Element.  Since it is a soup, it is intrinsically Watery and the Wood Element is represented by the Chicken Broth. The Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element  so this then becomes a balanced bowl of soup!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Seed and Nut Bread by Sarah Britton

My mother-in-law in Copenhagen makes a wonderful seed and nut bread from a mix that is bound together by eggs and cheese. It is delicious but I don't dare have too much as I am lactose intolerant. So, I've been searching every since for a recipe that was similar. I found the perfect recipe one day on a food blog called by Sarah Britton. And, I just had to share it with you. She is an American who lives in Copenhagen and she calls this bread The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread and it is. If you are searching for a gluten-free bread that is like the wonderful dark rye and seed breads of Northern Europe, this is the recipe for you. It's very adaptable and full of fiber, which does wonders for your digestion! That's mostly due to the Chia Seeds and Psyllium Husk powder. And, the seeds and nuts are all soaked before baking, which enhances digestion as well.  

Of course, I did have to tweak the recipe just a bit. I like my bread a little saltier so I added more and Martin loves pumpkin seeds so I added them instead of sunflower seeds in the second batch. Then, instead of using Almonds, I added Hazelnuts. I also cooked it a bit longer too so it was more crusty and a little drier. I have to say that it tasted completely different but also delicious. It was also a darker loaf and looked more like Danish Rye Bread.  Next time, I'm going to try Quinoa Flakes and/or Millet to see what happens. I'm also going to use my Danish loaf pan which is narrower and deeper to make the slices more like regular bread.

We like this bread toasted and I like it with Butter and I sometimes add Ham (with a bit of Dijon Mustard) and I love it spread with a Basil Pesto or a Sun Dried Tomato Pesto or  to top it with Chicken or Tuna Salad. Martin likes his best with Smoked Salmon. And, I've been told it is great with Cream Cheese and Cheddar Cheese too. However you serve it, this is a brilliant recipe and I wish I had invented it.  So, thank you Sarah Britton!

Seed and Nut Bread by Sarah Britton

1 cup Sunflower Seeds (or Pumpkin Seeds)
1/2 cup Flax Seeds
1/2 cup Almonds (or Hazelnuts) chopped up
1 1/2 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats
3 Tablespoons Psyllium Husk Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup (or Agave Syrup or Honey)
3 Tablespoons melted Butter or Ghee (or Coconut Oil) melted
1 1/2 cups water

In a loaf pan, combine all the dry ingredients except the salt. In a small bowl, stir together the Maple Syrup, melted Butter or Coconut Oil, salt and the water. Add to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. Smooth top and leave for 2 hours up to overnight

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread for 20  minutes and then remove bread from the loaf pan. Put loaf directly onto the rack and bake for another 45 minutes until lightly 
browned. Let cool completely before slicing.  

Five Element Analysis

Since this bread is made primarily with seeds, it is considered a mostly Water Food. By adding the Almonds or Hazelnuts, you bring in some of the Earth Element and the Oats add even more. Although the Butter adds a hint of the Metal Element, that element is a little deficient. And, both the Fire and Wood Elements are missing. So, the best way to create balance is in the toppings - change them and vary them or serve a lot of them to create a Five Element balance.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wilted Mustard Green Salad with Miso Dressing

I always forget how much I like Mustard Greens so I don’t buy them very often. But luckily I picked up some by mistake while reaching for Kale.  And, instead of my usual sauté, I decided instead to make a salad. Mustard Greens have a peppery kick like Arugula and when made into a salad needs to be massaged like Kale. The difference is that it wilts, but I think that is part if its’ charm. So, I usually add some vegetables with some crunch – in this case Red Pepper and Daikon Radish. To make this a main dish salad, I also added Edamame to give it some protein content.  I actually had a bag of them in the freezer and boiled and peeled them but you can buy them already peeled too to save time.  Anyway, this is a delicious salad and the salad dressing is so versatile that it can be used for salads made of many other vegetables, like spinach, cabbage or even on tofu.

Wilted Mustard Green Salad with Miso Dressing

2 bunches of Mustard Greens (about 6 cups torn up leaves)
4 green onions, minced
1 small red pepper, cut into small pieces
1 cup Edamame (I used Trader Joe’s brand – frozen and thawed)
1 cup of Daikon Radish, peeled and cut into small pieces

Put Mustard Greens in a large bowl.  Pour dressing over and massage in with your hands.  Then add in the Green Onions, Red Pepper, Edamame and Daikon Radish. Toss to mix and serve.

Miso Dressing

1 heaping Tablespoon Yellow Miso
2 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1” square piece of Ginger, minced or grated
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Tamari
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Sugar

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl with a whisk and drizzle over the Mustard Greens. 

Five Element Analysis

Mustard Greens belong to the Wood Element so that element is covered and the Miso, being fermented adds even more. The  Red Pepper contributes the Fire Element.  The Earth Element is found in the Edamame as it grows underground and the Daikon and the Green Onions contribute the Metal Element. The Water Element is represented by the Sesame Oil and the Tamari. This then is a perfectly balanced salad!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Leslie's Tofu and Kale Breakfast Stir Fry

I stayed with my sister last week and so enjoyed spending time with her.  She's become vegan and made a wonderful breakfast of tofu and kale.  It was very much like one of our old breakfast staples growing up - Tofu Kan. That is stir fried tofu lightly seasoned with soy sauce and was a great protein boost in the morning. My sister updated it by adding pieces of kale, which when cooked very lightly, does not taste bitter. It was a wonderful dish that made you feel like you were eating something very healthy to start the day. My sister used pressed tofu from Trader Joe's that she cut up and keeps packages of pre-cut Kale from there in the fridge too. When she makes it for herself, she makes half of this recipe. This is a super fast breakfast for those mornings when you are on the go and need to eat protein like I do.  I think it is a simple and delicious anytime dish that I encourage you to try soon!

Leslie's Tofu and Kale Breakfast Stir Fry

1 lb package of pressed Tofu (can also use Extra Firm Tofu), sliced into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
2 cups Kale, cut up into small pieces
2 green onions, ends removed and cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Oil
2 Teaspoons Tamari

In a frying pan, heat the oil and then add in the Tofu. Cook until the Tofu just starts to brown.  Then add in the Green Onions and Kale.  Cook until the kale wilts.  Sprinkle with the Tamari and toss to coat. 

Five Element Analysis

Tofu because it is made from soybeans belongs to the Water Element and because it is processed and white is considered part of the Metal Element as well.  The Kale brings in the Wood Element and the Green Onions contribute more Metal and the Tamari enhances the Water Element a bit more too. So, the Earth and Fire Elements are not present.  Fire can be easily added with some tea and the Earth Element should be present in other meals during the day. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chicken Meatballs with Vietnamese Flavors

Every Chinese New Year, I try to add one new dish from the Lucky Foods list and this year I decided to change up the meatballs.  So instead of Pearl Balls or Lion's Head Meatballs (previous posts), I decided to use some of the ground chicken thigh meat that I bought at Uwajimaya and made meatballs with Vietnamese flavors.  These meatballs are flavored with Fish Sauce, Lemongrass, Shallots and Cilantro.  The texture is chewy, like all Asian Meatballs, as the meat is made very fine in the food processor. I pan fried them and served them to be wrapped in Lettuce leaves and added some Mint Leaves and Bean Sprouts for some crunch. I also made a Peanut Sauce to drizzle on the wraps or for dunking for those friends who just wanted to eat the meatballs. They turned out wonderfully and were the hit of the party. So I am sharing the recipe with you today.  I'm going to make them often!

Chicken Meatballs with Vietnamese Flavors

2 pounds of ground Chicken Thighs (or use boneless thighs and use the food processor)
2 stalks of fresh Lemongrass, bottom two inches of inside layers, minced
2 large Shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 loosely packed cup of Cilantro, minced
1/3 cup Fish Sauce (I used Red Boat)
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Put Lemongrass, Shallots, Garlic, Cilantro and Fish Sauce in a food processor (I used a Cuisinart). Process until everything is minced fine.  Add in the Chicken Thigh meat and the salt and process until mixed thoroughly.  Form into small balls - walnut sized. Heat a large frying pan and add in the oil, then carefully place as many meatballs in that will fit. Cook on one side until brown and then on the other side until cooked through.  Remove and serve with vegetables and sauce.  

Serve with Red Lettuce Leaves, washed and separated, a cup of Beansprouts and 1/2 cup of Mint Leaves.

For sauce:  Mix equal amounts of Chunky Peanut Butter and Hoisin Sauce (I used Wok Mei brand as it is Gluten Free) and add hot water until thin enough to drizzle.  

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the Lemongrass, being a fast growing grass adds even more. The Fish Sauce and Hoisin Sauce contribute the Water Element, the Shallots, Garlic, Mint and Cilantro bring in the Metal Element. The Fire Element is represented by the Lettuce Leaves and the Earth Element is found in the Peanut Butter.  This then becomes a balanced Five Element dish!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Clams with Black Bean Sauce

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is the anniversary of 5 Element Food - I started it on Chinese New Year - the Year of the Tiger, which was 5 years ago!  I'm actually amazed that I am still coming up with recipes from my past and now I am creating more new recipes all the time.  Thanks for being part of this blog - it's been really fun!  

So, in honor of this Chinese New Year - the Year of the Sheep, I am making many lucky foods.  Here's a list of foods that you are supposed to make and eat to celebrate.  Of course, you don't need to eat everything on it for good luck - you can pick and choose what kind of luck you want. 

Bamboo Shoots for Wealth and Happiness
Chicken for Happiness in Marriage or Relationship
Clams - Money
Daikon Radish for Good Omens
Dried Bean Curd for Happiness
Eggs for Fertility and Creativity
Fish – Whole - for Abundant Wealth - the head and tail indicate a good beginning and end of the year
Five Vegetable Stir-Fry – Gives the Five Blessings of Longevity, Riches, Peace, Wisdom and Virtue
Greens for Abundance
Lettuce for Rising Fortune and a Fresh Start
Lily Buds (dried) - Prosperity
Lotus Root for Continuing Wealth
Lotus Seed for Children
Lychees for Close Family Ties
Meatballs for Reunions
Noodles for Long Life
Oranges/Tangerines for Luck and Wealth (esp. good with leaves attached)
Pomelo – Continuous Prosperity and Status
Potstickers and Egg Rolls for Wealth
Rice for Abundance
Rice Cakes – both sweet and savory – A Higher Year
Peanuts for Long Life
Sea Moss for Prosperity
Shitake Mushrooms to Fulfill Wishes
Sweets – a Sweet Life in the New Year
Preserved Kumquats for Prosperity
Coconut for Togetherness
Watermelon seeds for Happiness and many Children and Grandchildren
Dates for Early Prosperity

I have a party every year, but in keeping with the calmer Sheep, it's going to be a smaller and calmer gathering.  Many of my favorite Chinese New Year dishes have already been posted and I still make them and serve them every year - Potstickers, Spring Rolls, Pearl Balls and Buddha's Delight to name just a few.

So, I will be giving you some new ones over the next few days. Today's recipe is Clams with Black Bean Sauce.  Clams symbolize money and even better, the represent holding onto money.  And in this recipe, they are delicious as well as lucky!

Clams with Black Bean Sauce

2 tablespoons Fermented Black Beans, rinsed and mashed (can also use already mashed in a jar but then don't add Tamari)
1 Tablespoon Tamari (or Soy Sauce)
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 cup diluted Chicken Broth (1/2 broth and half water)
1 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 each Red and Green Pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 pounds clams, rinsed
2 Tablespoons Oil
Optional for a thicker sauce:  1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon water

In a small bowl, mix together the mashed Black Beans, the Tamari, the Sugar and the Chicken Broth. 

Heat a wok or frying pan and then add oil until it is shimmering.  Add the onions, garlic and peppers and stir-fry until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown.  Remove to a plate and reserve. 

Then add the clams and the black bean sauce mixture and cook until the shells open – about 5 minutes.

Return the onions and peppers to the pan and toss to mix well. If desired, add in the cornstarch and stir just until sauce thickens. Serve with steamed white rice or steamed buns.

Five Element Analysis

Clams belong to the Water Element and the Tamari adds even more. The Chicken Broth contributes some of the Wood Element and the Onions and Garlic all add the Metal Element.  The Fire Element is represented by the Red and Green Peppers.  Only the Earth Element is missing so be sure to serve another dish that includes an Earthy food.