Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sweet and Sour Beets and Chard

I love that it's easy to buy already cooked Beets at the grocery store, because sometimes I just don't feel like waiting for them to cook in boiling water or in the oven. I was happy to find them and I also wanted some greens. Now, when you buy Beets fresh, they often have some Beet Greens attached, but never enough in my opinion. Chard is in the same family as Beets, so I bought a bunch to add to the Beets. First, I sautéed some Red Onion until is was lightly caramelized and then added in the Chard and then the cooked Beets. The sautéed Onions and Beets are naturally sweet, so I seasoned it all with a bit of Salt and some Rice Wine Vinegar. It was so good!

Sweet and Sour Beets and Chard

4 - 6 small cooked Beets, cut into slices (about 2 cups)
1 bunch Chard, washed, removed from the stem and cut into wide shreds
1/2 large Red Onion, sliced thin and cut into about 1-1/2 inch lengths
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar

Heat the Oil in a frying pan. Add in the Red Onion and cook until they are lightly browned.  Add in the Chard and cook until they just start to wilt. Add in the Beets and cook, stirring often until they are hot. Sprinkle with the Salt and Rice Vinegar and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Beets belong to both the Fire and Earth Element because they are Red and Sweet. The Chard contributes the Wood Element and the Rice Vinegar adds even more. The Onions bring in the Metal Element with a touch of Earth too. So both the Water and Metal Elements are missing. If you serve this as a side dish, be sure to add a dish or two made up of ingredients from those elements. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Wing Drumettes

I found a package of Chicken Wings Drumettes in the freezer that needed to be cooked and there was a Seahawks playoff game to watch. I didn't have much time, so I quickly unthawed them and used the technique of broiling the Chicken Wings from my cookbook (coming very soon!) that involved saucing them with a wonderful Apricot Chili Sauce. But I didn't have any Apricot Jam and I remembered that my son had mentioned that the Apricot Chili Sauce tasted a bit like Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and decided to use that as the sauce. I sprinkled the Chicken Wing Drumettes with some Salt and Pepper and broiled them quickly and tossed them with the Thai Chili Sauce. The Seahawks unfortunately did not win but the Chicken Wing Drumettes were delicious!

Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Wing Drumettes

1 pound of Chicken Wing Drumettes
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
3/4 - 1 cup Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (I used the Mae Ploy brand)

Heat the oven to broil. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a sheet pan. Place the Drumettes on the foil and space evenly. Sprinkle with the Salt and Pepper.

Broil for 10 - 12 minutes on one side or until golden and then turn and broil on the other side. Remove from the oven and place in a serving bowl.  Pour the sauce over and toss thoroughly. 

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element. The Chilis in the Sweet Chili Sauce add the Fire Element and the Sugar in the sauce contributes the Earth Element. The Metal and the Water Element need to be added and we did that by serving an Asian inspired Eggplant Dip with Rice Crackers to create some Five Element balance. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Simplest Cucumber Salad

I was just down in Los Angeles taking care of my Mother's things, since she died three months ago. I did a kind of a pilgrimage and went to many of her favorite restaurants while I was there. One of them is a little place called Sue's Kitchen in Torrance. There are very few tables and one of the best things there is their cold plates. I like to order the Cucumber Salad and the Tofu Skins with Celery and also the Peanuts (previous post). I was talking to the cook and asked him about his recipe for the Cucumbers and he told me it was just Salt and toasted Sesame Oil cut with a little bit of Vegetable Oil. That's it!  I've always loved these Cucumbers and somehow thought it was more complicated, but it's not. The other trick is to use small Persian Cucumbers and cut them in a roll cut. This means you trim off the ends at a slight angle and then turn the Cucumbers a half turn and cut again at the diagonal making about 1-1/2 inch chunks and you just repeat until you've cut it all up. Then you salt them and drizzle them with the Sesame Oil and Vegetable Oil and toss. The advantage of this very simple dressing is that the Cucumbers taste really fresh and frankly, more like Cucumbers than just a bland salad ingredient. They taste better if you let them sit for a while. I think you'll be surprised how good these Cucumbers taste!

Simplest Cucumber Salad

4 Persian Cucumbers
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon toasted Sesame Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil (I used Sunflower)

Trim the ends of the Cucumbers with a slight diagonal cut. Then roll each Cucumber 1/2 turn and cut at an angle to make a 1-1/2" piece. Repeat until all the Cucumbers are cut up.  Place the Cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with Salt. Toss to coat. Then add in the Sesame Oil and Vegetable Oil and toss again. Let sit for 20 minus up to overnight before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Cucumbers belong to the Earth Element. The Sesame Oil and Salt contribute the Water Element, but this is clearly so Earthy that it's a very good dish to add to any meal that's mission that element.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


        Happy New Year!  

I usually make something each year that symoblizes good luck on New Year's Day and almost all of them involve greens or round foods. So, I decided to make Okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese Savory Pancake - it's round and it's full of Green Cabbage. It's one of those foods that I am very fond of due to my childhood in Japan and I wanted to make a Gluten Free version. It turned out to be remarkably easy!

I used chopped Green Cabbage, sliced Green Onion and  a little bit of ground Pork seasoned with Tamari and Mirin.  I made a batter out of a Gluten Free flour blend that included Xanthan Gum (Cup4Cup) and mixed it with Chicken Broth and an Egg. It's usually made with a Dashi Broth, but I am all out of Bonito Flakes. Cooked in a frying pan, it only takes about 20 minutes. I brushed it with a mixture of Bulldog Fruit and Vegetable Sauce, which is a Gluten Free version of Katsu Sauce mixed with Kewpie Mayonnaise. It was so good and I'm happy it is a lucky food too!


4 cups Cabbage, chopped fine
1 - 3 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend (including Xanthan Gum or add 1 teaspoon)
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 Egg
1/2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/4 pound Ground Pork
1/2 Tablespoon Tamari
1/2 Tablespoon Mirin

For Sauce: mix together 1-1/2 Tablespoons of Bulldog Fruit and Vegetable Sauce and 1 Tablespoon of Kewpie Mayonnaise

In a small bowl, mix together the Pork, Tamari and Mirin. Mix to blend thoroughly. In a larger mixing bowl, combine the Cabbage, Green Onions, Gluten Free Flour Blend, Chicken Broth and Egg. Stir to combine. 

Heat a 10" nonstick frying pan on medium heat and add in the Pork. Cook until no longer pink. Remove from the heat and blend the Pork into the Okonomiyaki batter. Then heat the Oil in the same frying pan and pour in the batter. Press down lightly with a spatula. Cover and cook for 7 - 9 minutes or until the bottom is browned when you lift up the edges. Place a plate over the pan and turn over carefully. then slide the Okonomiyaki back into the pan (uncooked side down) and cook for an additional 7 - 9 minutes. Wash and dry the plate and then slide the Okonomiyak onto the plate. Brush with the sauce mixture and cut into 8 pieces to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element. The Green Onion and Rice Flour in the Gluten Free Flour as well as the Mayonnaise contribute the Metal Element. The Chicken Broth adds the Wood Element and the Pork and Egg bring in the Water Element. and the Bulldog Fruit and Vegetable Sauce, being Dark Brown adds a little more. Only the Fire Element is missing so be sure to serve this savory snack with some Green Tea!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Kelly's Gluten Free Nutty Shortbread

By now I've eaten way to many Christmas cookies, but I wanted to share my absolute favorite of the season - Kelly's Gluten Free Nutty Shortbread! She adapted the recipe from Sunset Magazine and uses a combination of Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds mixed up in a Honey Caramel on top of a traditional Shortbread, only this time it is Gluten Free. I cannot even tell you how delicious these are - you are just going to have to make them and see for yourself!

Kelly's Gluten Free Nutty Shortbread
adapted from Sunset Magazine

Heat oven to 350 degrees

For Shortbread:

lightly grease an 9 x 9 inch baking pan

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
2 cups of Gluten Free Flour blend (with Xanthan Gum or add 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Blend the Butter and Sugar together in a food processor or stand mixer until creamy. Then add in the GF Flour and Salt and mix until the mixture is like fine sand and just comes together when you pinch it. Press the mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and put on the Nutty Topping. Cook for an additional 20 - 25 minutes. The Nut mixture should be bubbling and just slightly browning.  Cool and cut into squares. 

For Nutty Topping:

3 cups of mixed Nuts (we used Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds)
3 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 cup light colored Honey
1/3 cup Sugar

Put the Butter, Honey and Sugar in a non stick frying pan. Heat to boiling and then add in the Nuts. Toss to coat and pour over the Shortbread.

Five Element Analysis

Since this is a sweet cookie made with both Sugar and Honey, this is definitely mostly and Earth treat. Almonds and Cashews add even more Earth. But, the Walnuts and Pecans bring  in the Water Element and the Rice Flour in the GF Flour adds in some of the Metal Element and the Butter brings in a lot more. Only the Wood and Fire Elements are missing, but serving these Nutty Shortbread with Coffee or Tea fixes that and then just be sure to add a Wood Food at another meal. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Gluten Free Date Bars

Every year I try to add one different cookie to the usual assortment and of course usually leave off one too. so we are not inundated with cookies. As it is, I do give away as many as I can!  This year I made Date Bars, which I haven't made since I was a teenager and that was a very long time ago!  This was one of my Father's favorites, so it has a special kind of nostalgia attached to it. So, I pulled out an old recipe card and adapted the recipe. I have no idea where the original recipe came from, but it was a very popular cookie way back then.

I needed to make it Gluten Free, which wasn't difficult at all and I lowered the amount of Sugar because I think Dates are very sweet enough all on their own. I also added just a little more Butter, as I think Gluten Free Flour Blends are a little drier. And I thought a pinch of Salt would balance the flavor. Anyway, it turned out wonderfully and I had forgotten how delicious Date Bars are!

Gluten Free Date Bars

8 ounces of pitted Dates, chopped
1/2 cup Water
pinch of Salt
1 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend (with Xanthan Gum or add 2 teaspoons)
1 cup Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
10 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

Butter an 8x8 inch square baking pan.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Place the Dates and Water in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring often until the Dates soften or until they become a paste - about 7 - 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

In a food processor or a big bowl, cream together the Butter and Brown Sugar. Add in the Oats and Flour and blend until the mixture is crumbly but sticks together when you pinch it. 

Pour half of the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan and press down. Spoon the Date filling over the crumbs carefully with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the remains crumbs on top, pressing down lightly. 

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.  Cool and cut into squares.

Five Element Analysis

Dates are very sweet and very sticky so they are certainly Earth foods. The Oats and Brown Sugar add even more. The Butter brings in the Metal Element as does the Rice Flour in the baking mix. But this is clearly a Earthy treat!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Savory Potatoes

I've been on a Potato kick lately and since I was a bit tired of eating them the usual ways, I wanted to try something different. I love the recipe from Edna Lewis for Potato Casserole (previous post) so I decided to deconstruct it. I ended up cooking the Potato slices in Chicken Broth and then putting them on a baking sheet, pouring some melted Butter on top and cooking them until they were browned. Oh my goodness, they were so good - savory and buttery and delicious! The advantage to doing it this way is that it takes a lot less time. Plus, the leftover Chicken Broth is perfect for soup, as it is already a little bit thickened. I think it's a great side dish for the holidays as the Potatoes can be cooked ahead and then put in the oven after the main dish has come out and is cooling.  I'm going to be making this dish again and again

Savory Potatoes

2 large Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
4 cups of Chicken Broth
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
Optional:  1/4 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt

Place the Chicken Broth in a pot and add in the Potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes,or until the Potato slices are fork tender.  Drain, reserving the Chicken Broth for another use.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees

Place the Potato slices on a parchment covered baking sheet. Spread them out and drizzle with the melted Butter. Sprinkle with Salt, if using. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until the Potato slices are golden brown.  

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element, so this is clearly an Earthy side dish. The Butter adds a bit of the Metal Element and the forms of cooking - boiling, which is the Water Element and Baking, which is the Fire Element add a little bit of those Elements too.