Monday, September 11, 2017

Riced Cauliflower Pilaf

I hesitate to call this dish Cauliflower Rice because I don't think it tastes anything like Rice, but it is a very delicious way to cook chopped up Cauliflower that looks like Rice.  And, since ricing is considered a process of making things into small pieces about the size of rice, Riced Cauliflower just seems like a more authentic name. In any case, I was at Trader Joe's this week and I saw a bag of Riced Cauliflower and had to buy it. I considered making a salad out of it (previous post) but I wanted to make a side dish for a roast, so I cooked it Pilaf style, which means that I sautéed it in butter along with Green Onion and shredded Carrots. Then I steamed it very quickly with some Chicken Broth. It cooked so fast that I was astonished - a total of 5 minutes of steaming and it was done! It was wonderful and also beautiful. I have to admit I like the convenience of buying the Cauliflower already cut up, but if you do it yourself, start with one big Cauliflower and chop it up by hand or in a food processor. It's a very tasty way of serving Cauliflower!

Riced Cauliflower

1 16oz bag of Riced Cauliflower - or about 4 cups chopped florets
4 Green Onions, chopped into small pieces
1 small Carrot, shredded
3 Tablespoons of Butter or Ghee
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
scant 1/2 teaspoon Salt if desired (I used low salt Chicken Broth so needed more)

Melt the Butter in a large frying pan (with a lid) on medium high.  Add in the Green Onions, Carrots and Cauliflower and stir until you can smell the Green Onion fragrance. Then add in the Chicken Broth and Salt. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or until the Cauliflower is barely soft.

Five Element Analysis

Cauliflower is one of the few Metal Vegetables and the Green Onions and Butter add even more so this is a very Metallic dish. The Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element and the Carrot contributes some Earth. So this would be good side to a meal that has Fire foods (like a salad) and perhaps a Water Element main like Fish to create a balanced Five Element meal.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Salisbury Steak

Remember TV Dinners? I used to have to eat them when my parents went out and we had a babysitter.  The only one I could stand was Salisbury Steak, usually served with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. For some reason, I really like gravy and it can clearly cover up a multitude of flaws in a dish. Then one day when I was a few years past needing a babysitter, I was reading a cookbook (I read them for fun then and now), and I discovered a recipe for Salisbury Steak that I just had to make. I remember it being so good that my Father asked me to make it again and I was so  proud of myself for making another dish that he liked!  I've made it many times after that but it's been such a long time since I made it. I was telling my son about it the other day, so we made it. He thought it was like the Hawaiian plate lunch Loco Moco, minus the Rice, the fried Egg and Macaroni Salad. Add those and it will be pretty authentic, as well as being Gluten Free! My son declared it delicious and this dish will now be back in the rotation after a very long break. It's definitely comfort food!

Salisbury Steak

1 pound Ground Beef
1 ½ teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (or use regular Salt and Garlic Powder)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Tamari or Soy Sauce
1 Egg
1/3 cup dry Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
1 large Onion, grated and divided 2/3 and 1/3
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Sweet (Sticky) Rice Flour, often called Mochi Flour
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 1/2 cups Beef Broth (you can use Water and Bouillon Cubes)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the Ground Beef, Seasoned Salt, Worcestershire and Tamari along with the Egg, Bread Crumbs and 1/3 cup of grated Onion with your hands until fully mixed.  Shape into 4 oval Salisbury Steak Patties.

Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat and add in the Oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Then place the Salisbury Steak patties on the pan and cook on one side until browned and turn over and cook until browned on the other side (they will still be very pink in the middle). Remove and place in a  8 or 9 inch square baking pan.

Turn down the heat to medium and add the Butter and put in the 2/3 cup of grated Onion. Cook until Onion gets soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes, being sure to scrape up all the browned bits. Then sprinkle on the Rice Flour and stir in - it will clump. Then add the Beef Broth smooth out the lumps and cook until the sauce has thickened and made a thin gravy.

Pour the Gravy over the Patties and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour. Serve with Potatoes, Noodles or Rice a Fried Egg and Macaroni Salad if you want it to become Loco Moco.

Five Element Analysis

This recipe is very Earthy as Beef and Beef Broth are both from the Earth Element and if you serve it with Potatoes, it gets even Earthier. The Worcestershire Sauce, Tamari and Egg contribute the Water Element.  The Onion, Rice Flour (or Rice if you serve it) and the Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (made mostly out of Rice Flour) and the Butter add the Metal Element.  The Fire Element is missing so it would be good to serve this dish with a Lettuce Salad with Tomatoes and also be sure to add some the Wood Element to the meal by also serving a green vegetable like Green Beans or Broccoli too to create a Five Element balance!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gluten Free Shortbread with Strawbery Curd

Since going totally Gluten Free, there are a few things that I really miss and one of them is a good Shortbread Cookie. I know you can buy Gluten Free Shortbread at the store, but nothing beats homemade. And, I don't know why I haven't made it before. It's one of those cookies that's not trow sweet, but oh so good with a cup of tea and when you add Lemon Curd or Raspberry Curd on top, it becomes divine!  I finally made some yesterday and it turned out so good that I had to share it with you.

I simply adapted a recipe I had for Shortbread that was for Wheat Flour and exchanged it for Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 for 1 Baking Flour. I used Powdered Sugar because I think it gives the Shortbread a lighter texture than using regular Sugar. The Shortbread came out with just enough chew to keep from being crumbly and the Strawberry Curd was so good! When I've made Curd before it was usually Raspberry, so this was a nice change and Strawberries worked so much better than I expected!  Please note that I don't strain the fruit as I like the texture of the whole fruit better although it doesn't come out as smooth as the store bought version. I like to serve the Shortbread with a dollop of Curd on top, although you could make it prettier by spreading it all over. I think this is a perfect cookie for afternoon tea!

Gluten Free Shortbread

14 ounces unsalted Butter, softened
1 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
3 cups Gluten Free Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill GF 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and grease the bottom of an 8x8 inch square pan with Butter.

Cream the Butter and Sugar together until fluffy.  Mix in the Flour and Baking Powder and mix – the dough will be crumbly.

Pour into the pan and pat into place. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the top is very lightly golden brown.  Cool and cut into squares. 

Strawberry Curd

8 ounces of Strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon of Water
2 ½ Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Salted Butter, cut into small pieces
1 Large Egg, beaten

Mash Strawberries in a bowl and add water. Then pour into a small frying pan. Heat until boiling and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes and then add the Butter. Cook until the Butter melts. Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the Egg.  Add ¼ cup of the Strawberry mixture to the Egg and stir thoroughly.  Then add the rest of the Strawberry Puree to the Egg. Then pour into a heat-proof bowl that fits on top of a saucepan.

Fill the Saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer. Place the bowl on top and stir frequently for 10 – 12 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Be careful not to let it curdle. 

Five Element Analysis

As a dessert, there is plenty of Sugar that makes this Shortbread with Strawberry Curd an Earth food. The Gluten Free Flour is primarily made of Rice that brings in the Metal Element along with the Butter. The Fire Element is well represented but the Strawberries and the Water Element is a little deficient as only the Egg is a Water food. And, the Wood Element is missing. So, be sure to serve this after a meal where there is plenty of Water and Wood foods.  

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Deviled Baked Beans

I grew up with a Father that loved the foods from his childhood - mostly Pennsylvania Dutch foods and a Mother who didn't want to cook them - she only cooked Chinese food and she was very good at it. As I was a Daddy's girl, I learned fairly early those foods to make him happy. One of the earliest ones I learned was Deviled Baked Beans. He actually taught me how to make it but there was one important difference from the kind he grew up with. My Grandmother would make Baked Beans from scratch, using dried Navy Beans or Lima Beans that would first soak and then later be cooked for hours and then put into a sweet and sour sauce that included molasses and then baked. 

So this became the compromise and has that lovely sweet and sour taste that the Pennsylvania Dutch love. I think my father found this recipe in the Los Angeles Times Cooking Section, but I really don't know where it came from exactly and it was a very long time ago. For some reason, I also memorized it!  I still cook these Baked Beans in my father's favorite Corning Ware baking dish and it makes me nostalgic every time I make it as it reminds me of him.  He loved this dish and so do I.  It's such an easy recipe and so tasty!  It is a great side dish for a barbecue and according to several of my English friends, it's quite good leftover and put on toast as they have done that when they've stayed over but that's something I haven't tried yet!

Deviled Baked Beans

2 slices thick sliced Bacon or 4 - 5 thin slices
1 16 oz can Baked Beans (I used Bush's)
1/4 cup minced Onion
1/4 cup minced Green Pepper
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook in a frying pan until the fat is rendered and the bacon pieces are crispy. Remove the bacon pieces from the fat and reserve. Add int he Onions and Green Pepper and cook until the Onions are soft.  Pour in the can of Baked Beans and then add int he Ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce and Yellow Mustard. Bring to a boil and then pour into a baking dish. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges look a little dried out. Sprinkle with the Bacon Crumbles and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beans belong to the Water Element and so does the Bacon and the Worcestershire Sauce, so this is a very Watery dish!  The Green Pepper contributes a bit of the Fire Element and the Ketchup adds even more. There's quite a bit of Brown Sugar in the canned Baked Beans so that brings in the Earth Element. And, finally the Metal Element is represented by the Onion and Mustard. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this dish alongside some green vegetables or BBQ chicken or both to create a Five Element balance.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugared Pecans

Here's the other birthday cake that I made for my friend Sabine's birthday and it is made with wheat flour, although I have made it with gluten free flour too. It's such a delicious dense Banana Cake and is exceptionally good with Cream Cheese Frosting. I made it for my friend Sabine's daughter Momo did the beautiful decorating with sliced Bananas and Sugared Pecans. It's one of my younger son's favorite cakes and if you like Banana Bread, you need to try this recipe. The original recipe is from Dorie Greenspan and it was double the amount and she made it as a Bundt Cake. I don't have a Bund't pan anymore and I wanted to make less so I used a Springform Pan instead. This is one of those cakes that is better if you make it the day before and then frost it right before eating. And if you top it with the Cream Cheese frosting, be sure to refrigerate the leftovers. It was a big hit!  It turns out nicely when made in a square cake pan too and I personally like it best as cupcakes although Momo made it look so beautiful that this may the way I make it from now on!

Banana Cake or Cupcakes
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 ½  cups all-purpose flour (you can also use a gluten free flour blend)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, preferably at room temperature
2- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or cup sour cream (or a combination of the two)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F Generously butter a Springform Pan or line a cupcake tin.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

Beat the butter until creamy in a stand mixer or use a hand mixer. Add the sugar and beat at medium until pale and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. Finally, mix in the dry ingredients and the sour cream. Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before taking off the sides of the Springform pan. 

MUFFIN OPTION: Bake 28-32 minutes.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate with sliced bananas and sugared Pecans if desired.  

Cream Cheese Frosting 

8 ounces of Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

When ready to frost, mix the Cream Cheese, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Extract thoroughly.  Spread the frosting on the cooled cake with a spatula in a thin layer. 

Sugared Pecans 

1 cup Pecans broken into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Butter 
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt

Melt the Butter in a small frying pan and add the Brown Sugar. Stir to mix thoroughly and add in the Pecans and Salt. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the Pecans onto a plate or on Parchment Paper to cool.

Five Element Analysis

Bananas as a tropical fruit belong to the Earth Element and as this is a pretty sweet dessert, it is definitely an Earth food! The Flour contributes the Wood Element, The Cinnamon adds just the tiniest hint of Fire. The Sour Cream, Cream Cheese and Butter add in the Metal Element and the Pecans and Egg make sure that the Water Element is present too. If you serve this Banana Cake with a cup of Tea or Coffee for more of the Fire Element, you will have a balanced dessert!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Raspberry Whipped Cream Frosting

I am helping to celebrate my friend's birthday and decided to make some Devil's Food Cupcakes (Gluten Free of course). I'm not big on regular frosting, but I do love Whipped Cream frosting and I decided to add some dehydrated fruit since I read about the technique on Serious Eats. I used dehydrated raspberries from Trader Joe's and since I was at my friend's house, I didn't have a food processor so I smashed them inside the bag with a rolling pin. Then I added them to heavy whipping cream along with sugar (I added a bit more than the recipe originally called for) and whipped it up in a stand mixer. Oh my, it was so delicious!  And on top of Devil's Food Cupcakes, it was divine!  The dehydrated fruit acts as a natural thickener and makes it a much better texture for frosting. Plus it keeps in the refrigerator well. However, I can guarantee that it won't last long!  This recipe is absolutely a keeper and I am going to make it again very soon and want to try it with all the other dehydrated fruits too!

Raspberry Whipped Cream Frosting
adapted from Serious Eats

1/2 cup pulverized Dehydrated Fruit (about 1/2 ounces - I used Raspberries)
16 ounces heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 cup Sugar

Lightly smash the Dehydrated fruit in the bag using a rolling pin or put into a mortar and pestle and crush gently.  When powdered, add to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and add in the whipping cream and sugar. Mix until lightly whipped.  Serve as a frosting.

Five Element Analysis

Whipping Cream like most white dairy foods belongs to the Metal Element. Raspberries are one of the Fire foods and being dried makes them even more Fiery. The Sugar adds in a touch of the Earth Element. I would never expect a frosting to be a balanced food, but this one goes well with a cake made with Eggs that add the Water Element and wheat flour that adds the Wood Element - then you would have a blanched dessert!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Summer Sesame Noodles with Chicken

Summer is salad season and every day I think of a new and different salad. I got inspired to make Sesame Noodles as to me, it's a quintessential dish for a hot day. If you make it ahead and chill it in the refrigerator, it becomes a refreshing lunch full of flavor and different textures. I make it with Gluten Free Spaghetti (Schar Bonte D'Italia) and I'm pleased to say that it turned out perfectly. But if you chill it too long, you need to warm it up a bit or the noodles get a little stiff. Sesame Noodles are so delicious. I've made a similar recipe on this blog before using Peanut Butter but I really like Sesame version better. In fact, I use Tahini rather than an Asian brand because I like how creamy it is. Tahini needs a bit more seasoning and you can make it as spicy as you like by adding more Chili flakes but I like it mild. I like my salads to be my main dish so I add Chicken, but it is just as good without.  I loved this salad so much that I will definitely be making it again soon!

Summer Sesame Noodles with Chicken

1 Chicken Breast half, poached or roasted (Rotisserie Chicken leftovers work well) 
1 package Spaghetti Noodles (I used Schar Bonte D'Italia brand)
1/2 cup Tahini
4 Tablespoons Hot Water
1/4 cup Tamari or Soy Sauce 
1 Tablespoon toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon neutral tasting Vegetable Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt (omit if using Soy Sauce)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons or more Chili Garlic Sauce, Chili Oil or Chili Flakes
3 large Garlic Cloves minced
1 large Carrot, trimmed, peeled and cut into julienne pieces
1 Cucumber, 
3 Tablespoons minced Scallion
Optional:  2 Tablespoons toasted Sesame Seeds

Shred the chicken and put aside. Then cook the Spaghetti according to package directions in boiling salted water, drain. While Pasta is cooking, mix the sauce. In the serving bowl, combine the Tahini with the Hot Water and stir until thinned out and blended. Add in the Tamari, Salt, Sugar, Vinegar, Garlic and Chili Sauce. Mix to blend. Toss with cooked, drained Spaghetti and the Carrot and Cucumber.  Sprinkle with the Scallion pieces and the Sesame Seeds. Cool in the refrigerator for about 15 - 30 minutes.

Five Element Analysis

Tahini, which is made from Sesame Seeds is part of the Water Element and the Tamari adds even more.The Vinegar and Chicken contribute the Wood Element. The Chili Garlic Sauce brings in a bit of Fireand the Carrot and Cucumber make sure that the Earth Element is represented. Finally, the Scallion and Garlic bring add the Metal Element. All elements are present but the Fire Element needs a bit of support so serve this Sesame Noodle Salad with Tea to create a Five Element balance.