Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tomato Bruschetta Topping

I finally found some really good Tomatoes at the Farmer's Market and that means it's Bruschetta time!  Bruschetta literally means grilled bread with any number of toppings, although Tomatoes are quite traditional. It's quite easy to make this Tomato topping, but what's different about this one is that the Garlic is mellowed by cooking just a little and that let's the flavors of Olive Oil and Basil shine through a bit more. How does something so simple, taste so good?  I used a Gluten Free Baguette and sliced it thin and brushed it with Olive Oil, cooked it just until the edges were browned and then topped it with the Tomatoes. To me, Bruschetta with ripe Tomatoes is a summertime delight!  

Tomato Bruschetta Topping

2 pounds fresh, ripe Tomatoes 
1/2 cup Olive Oil
4 large Garlic Cloves, minced
1 1/2  teaspoons Sea Salt
20 large Basil Leaves

Cut off the stem end of each Tomato and then slice in half, scoop out the seeds and then dice. Place in a bowl and add the Salt.

Roll up the Basil Leaves and slice thinly and add to the Tomatoes.

Pour the Olive Oil into a frying pan and add in the minced Garlic. Heat and stir until you can smell the Garlic fragrance and remove from the heat. Pour over the Tomatoes and stir to mix thoroughly. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to let the flavors blend. 

Five Element Analysis

Tomatoes belong to the Fire Element so this dish is mostly Fiery. The Olive Oil brings in the Wood Element and the Garlic adds the Metal Element as does the Basil. The Bread, in this case is Gluten Free so that means it is made primarily from Rice Flour adds more Metal and if made from Wheat, adds more of the Wood Element. This is not meant to be a balanced meal as it is an appetizer so be sure to serve it with some other dishes that bring in the Water Element and the Earth Element too for balance. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Sautéed Caramelized Fennel

I'm currently enamored with Fennel and often cut it up and add it to my lunchtime salads, but today I wanted to make it a different way to tame it for the rest of the family who are not as crazy about the licorice-like taste as I am. I decided to sauté it in a combination of Olive Oil  and Vegetable Oil to give it a higher smoke point and I sliced the Garlic so it wouldn't burn. I finished it with a bit of White Wine. It was so delicious and was greatly appreciated by all my non Fennel loving family members!  

Be sure to use a frying pan that is not nonstick if you want to caramelize it properly. I used my trusty All Clad stainless steel frying pan and the Fennel ended up with that golden glow that is the hallmark of good caramelization. All in all it took less than 10 minutes to prepare and that includes slicing the Fennel and the Garlic and cooking it too. It was so easy and so fast and so good that I will be making it often!  

Sautéed Caramelized Fennel

2 Fennel Bulbs, top and bottom trimmed and cut into thin slices
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 - 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and slice thinly
1/4 cup dry White Wine

Heat the Oil in a frying pan (not nonstick) and add in the Fennel slices. Cook, stirring often until the Fennel starts to brown. Add in the Sea Salt and the Garlic and continue to cook until the Fennel is golden brown.  Then add in the White Wine and cook until the liquid is completely evaporated. All in all it should take about 5 - 6 minutes to cook. 

Five Element Analysis

Fennel is one of the few Metal Element vegetables, but because it is caramelized and becomes sweet, as does the Garlic, it also has the properties of the Earth Element.  The Olive Oil adds the Wood Element and the White Wine brings in the Fire Element. All that's needed is a main dish from the Water Element, such as Fish or Pork or even some Beans and you will have a balanced meal!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sautéed Spinach and Beets

I've just returned from teaching in England. While there, I stayed at an Airbnb so that we could cook and my friend Deirdre made a delightful dish of Sautéed Spinach and Beets. I'v never thought of putting these two ingredients together, but Spinach does belong to the same family. The dish came about because we found a package of pre-cooked beats so it was a simple matter to slice them and add them to some sautéed Spinach and Garlic. It took no time at all. However, if you cook the Beets yourself, it will take much longer. She drizzled the dish with Balsamic Vinegar and it was wonderful!  I hope you like it too.

Sautéed Spinach and Beets

4 small or 2 large Beets, cooked* and sliced 1/4"  (in half if small, in quarters if big)
10 oz of Spinach (2-5 oz packages) of Spinach
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Balsamic 

Heat the Olive Oil and add the Garlic. Cook, stirring until you smell the Garlic fragrance Add in the Beets and stir and then add in the Spinach. Sautéed until the Spinach wilts. Sprinkle with the Salt and drizzle with the Balsamic Vinegar. Toss to coat and serve immediately. 

*If using fresh Beets, boil with the peels on until the Beets can be cut through with a knife. Rub off the peels and trim the ends. Then proceed with the recipe above.

Five Element Analysis

Beets belong to the Earth Element as they are sweet root vegetables, but they also have some Fire due to their red color. Spinach belongs to the Wood Element and the Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar add even more Earth. The Garlic brings in the Metal Element. Be sure to serve with a Main Dish from the Water Element, like Fish or Pork to balance the meal.  

Monday, May 6, 2019

Simple Sautéed Corn and Edamame

I haven't been posting much since I've been working so hard on my cookbook - due out later this year. Testing recipes over and over again kind of takes away the time and creativity I need to develop new recipes but I will be done soon and I'll keep you posted. about the release date!

 In the meantime, here's something I whipped up tonight when I wanted some protein from a vegetable source. I had three ears of Corn in the fridge that needed to be cooked and I found a container of already cooked shelled Edamame from Trader Joe's. If you can't find this particular product, look for Edamame in the shell and cook following the package instructions and then peel them. I cooked the Corn, cut it off the cob and sautéed it in Butter it with some Green Onions and the Edamame. I added some Tamari too and it was so good!  My son said he was going to add some Sriracha to his, but he gave a thumbs up to the dish, which means he will definitely eat it again.  I served it with a Green Salad with lots of other cut up vegetables. This dish a really quick and easy to make when you have so many other things to do and it's delicious!

Simple Sautéed Corn and Edamame

3 Ears of Corn
9 oz of shelled Edamame (already cooked)
3 - 4 Green Onions, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Tamari

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the fresh Corn. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes and remove. Cool and cut the Corn off the Cob.  

Melt the Butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add in the Green Onions and cook until you can smell the fragrance strongly. Then add in the Corn and the Edamame and sauté for 4 - 5 minutes or until the Corn and Edamame are hot. Then drizzle on the Tamari and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Corn belongs to the Earth Element whereas the Edamame is partly the Water Element because it's a bean and partly the Wood Element because they are green. The Tamari brings in a hint of the Water Element and the Butter and Green Onions contributes the Metal Element. For a balanced meal, serve it with a Fire food, as I did with a Lettuce Salad with Tomatoes and Red Onion pieces (more Metal) and dressed it with Lemon Juice and Olive Oil  (Wood foods) to balance things out.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli

Stir-frying food the Chinese way is very, very fast if you cut up all the ingredients ahead of time. And these days, it's so easy to buy things ready to cook, like Broccoli Florets. I happened to have a big bag that I bought, so I've been making Broccoli several different ways. My favorite was a family classic - Chicken and Broccoli, which I realized that I have never posted, even though I make it often. If you cut up the Chicken and marinate it ahead of time and have Broccoli florets on hand, this dish literally takes only minutes! 

The sauce is a classic Chinese Brown Sauce made from Chicken Broth, Oyster Sauce, Tamari and a few drops of Sesame Oil. I use Kikkoman Oyster Sauce because it is Gluten Free and if you don't like Shellfish, there are some Vegan versions out there too.  The Cornstarch that is mixed in with the Chicken makes the sauce thick enough for my family, but if you like a thicker sauce add a little bit more Cornstarch. If it gets too thick, add a little bit more water. It's very forgiving. You can also make this dish with sliced Beef too and it's also delicious!

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli

¾ pound of boneless Chicken – Thighs or Breasts
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine
2 Tablespoons Tamari
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 – 3 cups Broccoli Florets, cut in half if large
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 large Garlic Cloves


¼ cup Chicken Broth
¼ cup Water
2 Tablespoons GF Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon Tamari
a few drops of Toasted Sesame Oil
Optional: 1 teaspoon of Cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons Water

In a bowl, mix together the Chicken Broth, Water, Oyster Sauce and Tamari. In another small bowl, mix together the Cornstarch and Water.  

Cut the Chicken into chunks less than 1”.  Place in a bowl with the Rice Wine, Tamari and Cornstarch.  Mix thoroughly.

Boil a small pot of Water and bland the Broccoli for 1 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Heat the Oil in a large frying pan or wok.  Add the Garlic and cook until you just smell the fragrance.  Then add in the Chicken, pushing down so that it forms a single layer and starts to brown on one side. Turn over and cook on the other side. Then add the Broccoli and the sauce mixture. Stir to combine. Then add in the Cornstarch mixture and cook until lightly thickened.  Serve with Steamed Rice.  

Five Element Analysis

Chicken and Broccoli both belong to the Wood Element, so this is a mostly Wood dish. However, the Oyster Sauce, Tamari and Sesame Oil bring in the Water Element and the Rice and Garlic contribute the Metal Element. The Fire Element is only found in the Rice Wine and the Earth Element in the Cornstarch, so be sure to add another dish or two that bring in those Elements for balance.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup

I visited Colombia years ago and had such a wonderful time and I loved the food!  My favorite thing was Ajiaco - a rustic Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup. I had it many times and it was always delicious!  I did ask my hosts how to make it and I got a recipe but I was stymied by my inability to get Guascas - the herb that flavors the soup or Criollas Potatoes, which makes the broth thick and creamy. So, I put off making it all this time. Recently, I was cleaning out a stored box and I found the recipe. Of course like many recipes from home cooks, it doesnt give precise measurements. 

So, my first task was to find Guascas and I found it at a local Latin Market. If you can't find Guascas, use an extra Bay Leaf. Then I needed to find a substitute for Criollos Potatoes as I wasn't interested in canned ones, but I had a brainstorm that I could create a creamy broth with a Russet Potato and then cut up other Potatoes like Yukon Gold and Red Bliss for the Potato Chunks. I also wanted to make the soup a little easier to eat. So, I used Corn Kernels instead of slices of Corn on the Cob. And, I wanted to make it faster so I used Chicken Broth and bite sized pieces of Chicken Breast cooked only for the last 15 minutes.  I served it the traditional way with Capers, cut up pieces of Avocado and Sour Cream for those who wanted it. I remember that it was served with a kind of Salsa that contained Aji Chilis that I didn't make, but it might be really good to add in a little hot sauce too. it was so delicious and it immediately transported me back to Bogota. I love this soup!

Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup

5 cups Chicken Broth
1 medium Onion, minced
3 Garlic Cloves
1 medium Russet Potato
2 Tablespoons Gauscas
1 Bay Leaf
1 - 2 teaspoons Salt
3/4 pound of Chicken Breast or Tenders cut into bite sized pieces
1 pound of mixed Baby Potatoes - Red Bliss, Yukon Gold and Purple peeled and cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups frozen Corn Kernels

For Serving: Capers, Avocado pieces and Sour Cream

Place Chicken Broth in a pot and add the Onions, Garlic, Russet Potatoes, Bay Leaf and Guascas. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and oook for 20 minutes. Remove the Bay Leaf and use a Potato Masher to mash the Potato. Taste and add Salt if desired. Then add in the Chicken, the remaining Potatoes and the Corn and bring back to a boil. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Serve with Capers, cut up Avocado and Sour Cream, if desired.

Five Element Analysis

As a soup, this automatically belongs somewhat to the Water Element, but the Potatoes and Corn make this a very Earthy Soup. The Chicken Broth and Chicken bring in the Wood Element and the Capers and add even more. The Gauscas, Bay Leaf and Sour Cream contribute the Wood Element and the Avocado (Haas) contributes the Water Element .Only the Fire Element is missing, so sprinkle on some hot sauce or serve this with a green, leafy Salad to create a balanced meal.  

Monday, March 18, 2019

Cincinnati Chili

Here's a recipe I've been meaning to post for a while. I have a friend from Cincinnati who told me so much about Cincinnati Chili that of course I had to try making it. I got the ingredients from his Mom when she was visiting one time and finally made it at home. For those of you who don't know, Cincinnati Chili is served one of 4 or 5 ways: One way is just the Chili with Meat; another way is with Spaghetti Noodles; another way is with Raw Onions and/or Cheese and the last way is with Kidney Beans. I'm not sure if that's the correct order of ways, but these are the right ingredients for authentic Cincinnati Chili. I like it best with Gluten Free Spaghetti and topped with sweet chopped Onions, my son and daughter-in-law definitely also wanted lots of Cheese. The Chili itself is unusual because it is spiced with Cumin and a bit of Cinnamon, Allspice and Cloves, which gives it an almost Middle Eastern flavor and because of the Chocolate added, it also reminded me a bit of Mexican Mole. It's really a delicious Chili!  

Cincinnati Chili

1 pound Ground Beef
1 Onion, minced
2 Garlic Cloves
1 14 oz can Tomato Sauce
1 cup Beef Broth
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
Pinch of ground Cloves
Optional:  1 15 oz can of Kidney Bans drained
Optional:  1/2 ounce Baking Chocolate
Optional  a pinch of Red Pepper flakes

Brown the Ground Beef in a frying pan with the Onion and Garlic, breaking up the meat as much as possible. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the Spices and Chocolate (if using) then the Tomato Sauce and Beef Broth and Kidney Beans (if using).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.  

Serve with cooked Spaghetti Noodles and/or Cheddar Cheese and/or raw, chopped Onions

Five Element Analysis

Ground Beef and Beef Broth belong to the Earth Element. The Spices and the Garlic and Onions contribute the Metal Element and the Cheese adds even more if you use it, The Kidney Beans bring in the Water Element (otherwise it is not strongly present except in the liquid nature of this Chili). The Fire Element is represented by the Tomato Sauce and the Red Pepper Flake sand Chocolate if you add them. The Wood Element is present if you use Spaghetti made with Wheat flour and serving it all the ways is a balanced meal. But, the Wood Element is absent if you use Gluten Free Spaghetti like I did, so be sure to add a green vegetable for balance.