Friday, December 12, 2014

Lemony Chicken and Vegetable Soup

The wind was howling outside last night and even though I had the heat turned up so the  house would be nice and warm if the power went off for a while (and it did), I was feeling cold so I made a big pot of soup. I was kind of in the mood for Avgolemono but didn't feel like adding the eggs to make it creamy. I wanted broth. So, I used lemon and oregano to bring in the Greek flavors to some chicken broth and added a lot of vegetables and swapped out the rice for some Gluten Free Orzo and it was wonderful!  I used the breast meat off a Rotisserie Chicken and made the broth from the bones of that chicken along with some cans of chicken broth. I add the skin in too as I think a little chicken fat is good for you and chicken soup should always have that slight sheen of chicken fat skimming the top.  Anyway, it came together in about 1 1/2 hours, but if you want to make it even faster, you can skip that step and use all canned chicken broth. I added in the Oregano and lemon at the last minute to keep the flavors fresh. I loved this soup! The lemon juice just brightened up the flavors so much. Now, this is going to become a staple in my list of go-to soups.

Lemony Chicken and Vegetable Soup

2 cups of cut up Cooked Chicken (from a Rotisserie Chicken)
Bones and Skin of the Rotisserie Chicken
3 14.5 oz cans of Chicken Broth (I used Swanson's Natural Goodness)
5 cups water
1 medium Yellow Onion, trimmed, peeled and diced
1 large Carrot, trimmed, peeled and diced
2 stalks of Celery, washed, trimmed and diced
1 cup of diced green beans
2 Roma Tomatoes, stem removed and diced
3/4 cup Orzo Pasta (I used DeLallo's Gluten Free) or raw Long Grain Rice
1 teaspoon Greek Oregano
Fresh ground Pepper
Juice of 1 large or 2 - 3 small lemons

Put the bones of the Rotisserie Chicken in a soup pot with the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for one hour.  Remove the bones and strains the broth.  Return to the pot and add in the Onion, Green Beans, Carrots, Celery and Tomato.  Cook for 15 minute and add in the Orzo (or rice). Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with the Greek Oregano and add in lemon juice and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Soup by it's very nature is a Water food, so that element is covered. The chicken and chicken broth contribute the Wood Element and the celery and lemon juice adds even more. The onion and Oregano and rice in the pasta bring in the Metal Element and the Carrot, Green Beans and Corn in the pasta add the Earth Element and the Tomatoes and Pepper represent the Fire Element. Rice would add more Metal.  This soup is very balanced!

Singapore Style Rice Noodles

I love noodles and since I've started eating Gluten Free, I've been using Asian rice noodles a lot more. One of the dishes I've resurrected from my childhood and was a favorite of my kids as well is Singapore Style Rice Noodles, which is basically rice vermicelli sautéed with vegetables and meat in a dry curry sauce.  Usually it includes Chinese barbecue pork (Char Siu) and shrimp, which is something I can't eat so I tend to make it with chicken and barbecue pork when I have it.  You can add any number of vegetables too. It's a quick and light meal that brightens up your tastebuds. I always use a mild curry - usually Madras, but I am quite partial to the McCormick and Schmick's brand too.  Some people like to use the hot version, but since I used to serve this to my kids, I've always used the mild flavor. The good news is that curry powder gets it's lovely yellow color from Turmeric, which is a potent anti-inflammatory so we should all start eating more of it.  So, here's another good chance to add it to your diet in a delicious way!

Singapore Style Rice Noodles

1 pound chicken breasts, sliced into small pieces for stir frying (or use 1/2 pound Char Siu and 1/2 pound peeled raw shrimp marinated in Rice Wine).
1/4 cup Chinese Rice Wine
1 Tablespoon Tamari
5 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 medium onion, peeled, trimmed and cut in half and into thin pieces
1/2 large red pepper, stem and seeds removed and sliced into think pieces
1 small carrot, stem removed, peeled and cut into thin julienne pieces
4 - 5 green onions, root removed and sliced into 1 1/2' long pieces and then sliced in half
1 cup of green beans, stem removed, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 handful of washed bean sprouts
8 ounces Rice Vermicelli (also called Mee Krob or Angel Hair Rice Noodles)
2 Tablespoons Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons Tamari
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 + 1/4 cup of chicken broth

Put chicken slices in a bowl and cover with the Rice Wine and Tamari. Mix to coat and marinate.  Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add green beans and cook for 5 minutes.   Remove the beans and put the Rice Vermicelli into the hot water with the heat off. Let sit for 5 minutes and drain in a colander.  

Add 2 Tablespoons to the wok or large frying pan.  Heat and add chicken breast and cook until the meat is opaque. Remove and add 2 additional Tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add in onion, red pepper and carrots.  Stir fry until the onion is translucent and the carrot is softened. Add another Tablespoon of oil and put in the green beans and the rice noodles and toss until the noodles are hot.  Put in the Curry Powder, sugar, Tamari and 1/2 cup of the Chicken Broth and stir to coat. Cook until the liquid evaporates.  Add the chicken back in with the Bean Sprouts, the Green Onions and the 1/4 cup of Chicken Broth and cook until the bean sprouts and green onions just begin to wilt and the remainder of the broth is mostly absorbed. Sprinkle with the Sesame Oil, toss and serve hot.

Five Element Analysis

This is a very colorful dish, so already you know that the Five Elements of food will be well represented. The chicken, chicken broth, green beans and bean sprouts bring in the Wood Element, the rice noodles contribute the Metal Element along with the green onions and the Curry Powder. The Chinese Rice Wine and the red pepper bring in the Fire Element and the Tamari, Sesame Oil and the shrimp or BBQ Pork (if using) add the Water Element.  The Earth Element is represented by the carrots so that is the only element that is a bit deficient.    So be sure to serve this dish with a sweet fruit dessert to create a Five Element balance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three Chinese Bone Soups for Healing

There is a new trend in NYC that I wish would spread to other cities. People are lining up to order Bone Broth in a take away cup instead of coffee or tea. It's not a new idea to drink bone broth, it is however new to make it a fast food as making bone broth actually takes a very long time to make!  And the Chinese never mixed different kinds of bones. Instead, they served one kind of bone soup at a time and for different reasons.  

I grew up drinking various bone soups to enhance my immune system, strengthen my small bones and to give me energy and I continue this practice as an adult. Bones contain many minerals that support the kidneys and help them retain the fluids that we need.  I recommend soup to almost everyone when I teach.

As a child, I was often overtired and had big dark circles. My grandfather was always concerned about my health and pushed me to eat more soup. Actually, he pushed soup towards me at almost every meal! I also had little bones and he wanted to be sure that I had enough calcium since I didn't drink milk, so he would make me three different kinds of bone soups made from Pork Bones, Chicken Bones and Beef Bones. These soups were designed to be drunk from a mug, like a cup of tea and were the base broths for many other soups, but for me, they were all about love and healing.  

Chicken broth is something I had every time I got sick as a child, which was often and has been shown to relieve congestion and tames the inflammation of the mucus membranes of the throat. When I had my first baby, my mother made pots and pots of chicken soup - made with black chickens. I drank so much that my son smelled like chicken broth! But, I've since learned that it was not just helping me recover from a difficult childbirth experience, it was also bringing in more milk. 

When my son broke his leg playing soccer, I reverted to making soup as the way to get him to heal fast. I made these three bone soups in succession over the course of three weeks.  I also fed him lots of Korean Seaweed.  At his checkup three weeks later, his doctor was amazed at how well his bones had healed. He asked me what I had done and I had to admit that I had fed him lots of bone soup and seaweed.  His break looked like he had been healing for 4 months!  

Since then, whenever I have a friend or client with a broken bone or a diagnosis of Osteoporosis or is just plain tired, I recommend these three Bone Soups in this order: one week of Pork Bone Soup, one week of Chicken Bone Soup and one week of Beef Bone Soup.  The secret to these Soups is to add a small amount of acid - vinegar - to get more of the minerals out of the bones or cook with lots of root vegetables that add even more minerals. For the Beef Bone Soup, make sure that you get bones with marrow in them as that is the most important part of the bone for that soup and if you want to help someone with tendon problems, use beef shanks or oxtails.

These are soups designated for healing and not for a main dish soup. But they do make  excellent soup bases too if you should like to use them that way. And, these are not soups where you keep the meat or vegetables that are cooked. You have to cook them long enough that there's no flavor left in the meat or vegetables to make rich, nutrient dense soups that will make your kidneys and bones happy!

Pork Bone Soup

1 pound of Pork Bones (preferably Neck Bones)
Enough Water to Just Cover the Pork Bones
EnoughWater to Cook the Pork Bone Soup
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Salt

Optional:  2 cups of Soybean Sprouts

Place Pork Bones in a soup pot and add water to jut cover the bones. Bring to a boil and turn off when the scum rises to the surface. Throw out all of the water and then refill the pot so that there is about 4 inches of water covering the bones.  Add vinegar and salt and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer on low for 3 hours. Cool and strain broth. If desired, reheat and cook Soybean Sprouts in the soup for about 15 minutes before serving. Otherwise, reheat one cup at a time to boiling and serve in a mug. Season with additional sea salt if desired.

Chicken Bone Soup

1 pound of Chicken Drumsticks
1 large yellow onion, stem ends removed and cut into chunks (can leave peel on)
1 Celery Root, washed and cut into chunks
2 large carrots, washed, stem and end removed and cut into chunks
2 - 3 Parsnips, washed, stem and end removed and cut into chunks
2 large Celery Stalks, washed and cut into chunks
1 - 2 Turnips, washed, stem and ends removed and cut into chunks
2 - 3 teaspoons of salt
10 - 12 cups of Water

In a large soup pot, put in chicken thighs and all the root vegetables. Cover with water up to 4 to 5 inches above the chicken. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Taste and add salt. Strain broth and serve individual portions reheated and poured into a mug. Season with additional sea salt if desired.

Beef Bone Soup

4 - 5 pound Beef leg bones, 
1 large Onion, stems removed and cut into chunks (leave skin on)
2 large Carrots, washed, stem and end removed and cut into chunks
2 - 3 stalks of Celery, cut up
3 Large Tomatoes cut up
12 cups of Water
3 teaspoons Salt
1 Bay Leaf
Handful of Parsley

Put beef bones in a large soup pot and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil until the foam rises. Drain water and rinse the bones. Put back into the pot with the water, vegetables, Parsley and Bay Leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Skim additional foam as it rises. Cook for 3 hours. Cool and scrape out the marrow if possible and add back into the soup. Strain and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, heat up one cup at a time and serve in a mug and season with additional sea salt if desired. 

Five Element Analysis

Soups, and especially broths are a Water Element food. But, each soup is made with  a different kind of bone. Pork Bones belong to the Water Element, Chicken Bones to the Wood Element and Beef Bones to the Earth Element. The Soybean Sprouts contribute the Wood Element to the Pork Bone Soup and the Celery adds more of the Wood Element to the Chicken Soup.  However, the Celery Root is an Earth Element vegetable as are the Carrots, Parsnips and Turnips in the Chicken Soup. Onions add the Metal Element to the Chicken and Beef Soups and the Parsley and Bay Leaf add even more Metal to the Beef Soup. Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element to the Beef Soup. The Pork Soup is for tonifying (nourishing) the kidneys. The Chicken Soup starts adding essential nutrients and supports the Liver and Stomach.  The Beef Soup is for enhancing the blood and energy.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ed's Papaya Salsa

I was speaking at the Pacific Symposium this weekend and they didn't give me a room with a kitchen, so I didn't get to cook at all. But, my good friends Holly and Ed Guzman invited me to their room where they made some wonderful Mexican food and it was so good! Ed made a Papaya Salsa that kept me coming back for more. I've never had Papaya in my salsa before, although I have had Mango and Pineapple Salsa.  I actually this one better because it is not as sweet and it is beautiful! There is something about the combination of the rich soft orange of the Papaya mixed with the tomatoes that I loved. And, the Papaya softened the astringency of the tomato in a way that smoothes out the flavor. It was a delightful salsa that I am going to make over and over again and it's so easy to make too. I think it would be amazing with Grilled Fish or Chicken if I can get past eating it with chips....

Ed's Papaya Salsa

1 large ripe Papaya, cut into a small dice
3 medium Tomatoes, diced
3 Tablespoons minced Red Onion
Juice of 1 large Lime or 2 small Limes
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Optional:  1/2 Serrano Chili, seeds removed and minced finely

Mix together all the ingredients and let flavors meld for at least 5 - 10 minutes. Serve with Tortilla hips, Tacos and/or Grilled Fish or Chicken.

Five Element Analysis

Papaya, being a Tropical fruit and also a beautiful orange color belongs to the Earth Element. They are exceptionally good for the digestive system as the enzymes help process other foods like meat. Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and if you add the Serranos, that's even more Fire.  The Limes add the Wood Element and the Red Onion brings in the Metal Element.  Only the Water Element is missing so that's why this would be especially good on Fish.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Arugula Salad with Asian Pears and Prosciutto

It's Asian Pear season and they are one of my favorite fruits. I love their crunch and juiciness.  I realized after having bought a lot of them, that I don't use them in cooking at all. I usually just eat them raw and so today, I decided to use them in a salad. I threw together some of my other favorite ingredients - Prosciutto and Arugula and I decided to create a very light dressing made with Rice Wine Vinegar, Shallots and Sunflower Oil.  It was an amazing combination. I'll be making this salad again and again!

Arugula Salad with Asian Pears and Prosciutto

5 ounces of Baby Arugula, washed
2 Asian Pears, Cored, Peeled and cut into small chunks
3 ounces of Prosciutto, cut into small pieces
1 small Shallot minced
1/4 cup Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1/3 cup Sunflower Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Wash and dry the Arugula and spread over a platter.  Sprinkle the Asian Pears and Prosciutto over it.  In a small bowl, mix together the Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar and the Sunflower Oil and add in the Shallots and Salt. Pour over the Salad when ready to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Pears belong to the Metal Element and are very good food for the throat and lungs. The Shallots add even more Metal. Arugula contributes the Fire Element as a bitter green and the Rice Wine Vinegar is a Wood food. The salty Prosciutto brings in the Water Element. Only the Earth Element is missing so serve this with a Main Dish that is Earthy or if this is served for a light lunch, add something sweet for dessert!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Quick Clam and Cherry Tomato Sauce

I love clams and I especially love canned chopped clams. I know that may be considered a little strange when fresh clams are so wonderful.  But, I don't always remember to buy fresh clams when I'm in the mood for a clam sauce, so I love being able to make a wonderful Clam Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes. And with canned clams, you get all the chewy bits that are my favorite and none of the soft squishy parts.  This sauce is delicious with pasta (I use DeLallo's gluten free pasta) and it's also amazingly good as a pizza topping.  Now according to classic Italian food rules, seafood is not supposed to go with cheese and since I am lactose intolerant, I don't add it. But since I am here in America, I have to tell you that this sauce is also fabulous with Parmesan Cheese if you are using it for pasta or Mozzarella if you should decide to make it into a pizza sauce.  I've been known to use this sauce with a Nature's Hilights Brown Rice Pizza Crust and Lisanata Almond Mozzarella Cheese and it's really good - just be sure to toast the oiled pizza crust fully in a 425 degree oven before topping it and then baking for an additional 15 minutes. I also do another no-no according to the Italians and that is that I add some cornstarch to thicken it up as I like the creaminess it adds. You don't have to do this step, you can add some pasta water instead if you like.  And, this is also an excellent sauce base if you do want to steam some fresh clams in it (then be sure not to add the cornstarch). This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. The proportions are 1 can of clams to 1 garlic clove, 1/2 cup of cut cherry tomatoes and 1 heaping teaspoon of cornstarch. I've made it as a potluck dish with pasta (baked) and it's been a big hit.  It's just a a delicious, easy and fast sauce - I encourage you to try it! 

Quick Clam and Cherry Tomato Sauce for Pasta or Pizza

2 cans of Chopped Clams in Clam Juice (I used Snow's Bumble Bee brand, 6.5 ounces)
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
2 garlic cloves minced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 heaping teaspoons Cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of Salt and sprinkling of fresh ground Pepper
Cooked Pasta of your choice

Optional: Parmesan Cheese for serving with Pasta or Mozarella Cheese for Pizza

Open the cans of clams and stir in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch into each can.  In a large frying pan, add the Olive Oil and the Garlic. Cook until you can smell the fragrance of the Garlic. Add in the Tomatoes, stirring until the Tomatoes start to soften.  Then add in the Clam and Cornstarch mixture with the Salt and Pepper and cook until thickened. Serve over cooked al dente pasta or put on top of pizza dough, top with cheese and bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

Five Element Analysis

Clams are part of the Water Element and are said to increase Kidney Yin, cleanse the Liver and reduce fevers and other inflammation. Cherry Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element.  The garlic bring in the Metal Element and the Cornstarch adds just a bit of Earth.  The Wood Element is missing, which is why it would be good to serve this with Pasta or Pizza Dough made from Wheat. If using Gluten Free Pasta like I did, it would contribute more of the Earth from the Corn, more Metal from the Rice and then I added a green vegetable to create a Five Element balance. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kefta Kabobs

Martin really loves Moroccan and Middle Eastern food so I've been trying to make it for him and last night I made Kefta Kabobs. These are basically Moroccan Hamburgers grilled in a sausage shape, but they are full of herbs, onions and garlic that make them more interesting. They are quite simple to make and are delicious. The meat mixture can be made ahead and then they can be grilled or broiled quickly when you want to serve them.  I broiled them as it was a bit too rainy to get the grill going on the deck. To go with these Kebabs, I made a buttery cumin rice and a salad of Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Onions and served these Kebabs with lots of tart Sumac sprinkled on top, which make them a bit Persian too.  If you like things hot, be sure to serve them with some Harissa, a Moroccan Chili Paste.

Kefta Kabobs

1 ½ pounds ground beef or lamb (or a combination of both)
1 small Onion grated
2 Garlic Cloves minced
1 teaspoon Turmeric
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
3 tablespoons chopped Cilantro
1 Tablespoon chopped Mint
½ teaspoon ground Cumin
Optional:  Harissa or other Chili Sauce and Sumac (a dried sour berry condiment) for serving.

Combine all ingredients kneading well.  Then let it sit for one hour or longer in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the kebabs. 

Put oven shelf as close to the broiler as possible then turn on the broiler.  Divide the meat into 12 balls.  Roll each one out into a long sausage shape about 1 inch wide. Put on a baking pan and flatten slightly.  Put the pan into the broiler and broil for about 5 minutes or until the top of the Kebabs are brown. Turn and broil for another 5 minutes.  Serve with Harissa and Sumac.

Five Element Analysis

Beef is from the Earth Element and Lamb belongs to the Fire Element.  The spices and along with the onion and garlic contribute the Metal Element.  The Harissa brings in more of the Fire Element and the Sumac, being sour adds the Wood Element and the herbs bring in even more. Only the Water Element is missing so serving this main dish with an Eggplant side dish would be good and/or a dish with Chickpeas would also create a Five Element balance.