Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Scrambled Tofu




















As you know, I've been trying to come up with some more interesting breakfast dishes and I drew one recipe out of my memory bank - Scrambled Tofu. This is a dish that goes back to the Hippie Days, which I just missed, but a lot of vegetarian restaurants continued to serve this dish and I was always quite delighted to find it. The last time I had it in a restaurant was in Fairhaven, Washington, which is near Bellingham.  I cooked it often when my kids were little, but it's been such a long time since I've made it.  And, I had a package of tofu languishing in my fridge, so I decided to make this dish and was once again delighted at how it turned out. The tofu becomes quite yellow because of the Turmeric and it's designed to make the tofu look like scrambled eggs and I've had versions where they have used Curry Powder instead, but I like the simplicity of these mild flavors. It's very filling and I find it very nourishing too. I know some people will be thrown off by the idea of eating tofu for breakfast, but this dish is full of protein and in Chinese Medicine, tofu is considered cooling, which is great for these hot days and it detoxifies the body. Plus, when it's cooked right- it's delicious too!

Scrambled Tofu

1 pound firm Tofu, drained
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/2 small Onion, minced
1 Carrot, peeled, and cut into fine mince
1 Celery Stalk, trimmed and cut into fine mince
1 teaspoon Turmeric (or Curry Powder)
1/2 teaspoon each Onion Powder and Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 - 2 Tablespoons Tamari

Optional:  Minced Red Pepper, Chopped Tomatoes, Minced Green Onion, or Minced Zucchini

In a large frying pan, heat oil and add onion, carrot and celery (and any other vegetables you like).  Cook until it just starts to brown (about 4 minutes) and add in Turmeric.  Then add Tofu, crumbling it with your fingers.  Add Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt and Tamari. Cook until tofu is hot, stirring frequently. Serve with Toast or Hash Browns.

Five Element Analysis

Tofu is a Metal food and the onions and the Turmeric, Onion and Onion Powder and Garlic Powder add even more.  The Celery adds the Wood Element, the Carrot contributes the Fire Element and the Tamari and Salt bring in the Water Element. The Earth and Fire Elements are missing in this version so be sure to add an Earth ingredient, like the Zucchini and a Fire Ingredient like Tomatoes or Red Pepper or serve with some potatoes or toast with jam or sweetened berries to add both elements at once.




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Breakfast Pasta with Sausage and Sage




















I like savory food for breakfast and I often get a bit tired of what most people consider traditional breakfast foods. In other words, some people like breakfast for dinner but I like to eat dinner for breakfast! Today I wanted to share with you a breakfast pasta that I made for my kids, because like me, they don't like muffins or pastries that much and eggs are a sometime thing, not an everyday thing. Besides serving this for breakfast, I also use Breakfast Sausage in this dish and this sauce is served with my sons' favorite pasta shape - Fusilli or corkscrews pasta. This sauce can best be describe as a cross between Sage with Brown Butter and Carbonara.  It's another Italian mashup and it is delicious!  Pork and Sage go wonderfully together and the creamy sauce made from the butter, parmesan cheese and egg yolks coats the pasta and gives it a wonderful creamy texture. This pasta dish can also be served for lunch or dinner too if you like, but for us, it's a wonderful breakfast treat that keeps breakfast from getting too routine!

Breakfast Pasta with Sausage and Sage

8 oz Fusilli Pasta (For a Gluten Free Version - use DeLallo Corn Pasta)
8 oz Breakfast Sausage (1/2 of a roll or 1/2 lb ground pork seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder)
1/2 cup minced onion (1/2 of a medium onion - I used a red onion)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 teaspoons fresh Sage Leaves, minced or 1 teaspoon dried Sage
2 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons Cream
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese + more for serving

¼ cup Pasta Water

Boil the water for the past and be sure to add in plenty of salt. Add the pasta when the water is boiling and cook for the required time. Be sure to save 1/4 cup of the cooking water before you drain it.

In a large frying pan, put in the butter and cook until just starting to brown.  Add in the sage and cook for a few moments longer.  Pour into a small bowl and put aside.  Add the breakfast sausage and the onion into the pan.  Break the sausage into little pieces and cook until no longer pink. Stir in the butter and sage. Mix together the egg yolks, parmesan cheese and cream in a small bowl.  

Add the pasta into the frying pan and stir in the egg mixture quickly so the egg yolks don't turn into scrambled egg pieces.  Add in some of the pasta water to thin down the sauce and keep tossing. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan Cheese.

Five Element Analysis

Pasta is made from wheat, which is part of the Wood Element so that element is covered if you use traditional pasta. The Sausage adds the Water Element and the Egg Yolks bring in even more.  The Metal Element is represented by the Sage, Onions, Cream and Parmesan Cheese.  The Fire and Earth Elements are missing, so serve this dish with some Fiery and Earthy foods or beverages - things like Tea or Coffee or sweetened red berries or pastries . If you use the Corn Pasta, it adds the Earth Element but then the Wood Element is missing so orange juice or a green smoothie would b a good addition to create a Five Element balance.






Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Middle Eastern Salad




















This is a salad served all over the Middle East and Near East. I've heard it called Israeli Salad and also Arab Salad, which shows you how popular it is. For the sake of peace and the recognition that food can unite people, I'm simply calling it Middle Eastern Salad. It is a refreshing mix of cucumbers, tomatoes, mint and parsley, salt, pepper, lemon and olive oil. It goes beautifully with all kinds of roasted meats and is one of the dishes almost required when serving Turkish mezes - they call it Shepherd's Salad and the Iranians make it too and call it Salad Shiraz. You can call it anything you like and if you haven't made it yet, it may quickly become one of your favorites too!  

Middle Eastern Salad

1 large cucumber, peeled, cut in half, deseeded and cut into chunks
4 Roma Tomatoes, stem end removed and diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
Juice of 2 small lemons - about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Small Handful each of Parsley and Mint, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix together all the ingredients and toss to coat.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes up to 24 hours (refrigerated) to let the flavors meld.

Five Element Analysis

Cucumbers belong to the Earth Element and Tomatoes to the Fire Element. The olive oil and lemon juice contribute the Wood Element. The parsley and mint add the Metal Element.  Only the Water Element is missing so you might want to consider adding an eggplant dish or a seafood dish to create a Five Element Balance.




Monday, July 28, 2014

Beef and Mushroom Pot Pie





















There was a special on beef roasts at QFC last week - 2 for 1 - so of course I bought two as there are so many things you can do with leftover roast beef.  I make it in the simplest of ways - I just season it all over with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and garlic powder. Then I put it into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, then turn it down to 250 degrees and cook for about 2- - 25 minutes per pound for rare roast beef.  If you like it medium go up to 30 - 35 minutes per pound. We have roast beef the first night and then I make things like Thai Beef Salad or Beef Pot Pie.  In the fall and winter I tend to make Pot Pie with potatoes and carrots and peas. In the summer, it's almost always with mushrooms. Sometimes I make pot pies with chicken too and turkey after Thanksgiving.  Now, a lot of people make pot pies with a stew, but I like it much better when I make a quick gravy to go along with the meat and vegetables. Then you top it with puff pastry which I don't even roll out - I just cut it to fit with scissors - a much underrated kitchen tool and then I cut a few vent holes and bake in a hot oven for 20 - 25 minutes. You will be rewarded savory delight - crispy puff pastry covering a luscious blend of tender roast beef and mushrooms. It's so delicious and so easy!


Beef and Mushroom Pot Pie

4 cups cut up leftover roast beef, cut into large chunks
1 medium onion, diced
3 cups washed and sliced mushrooms (about 12 medium button mushrooms)
1/4 teaspoon salt and sprinkling of fresh ground pepper
3 cups beef broth (including roast beef drippings - I used Better than Bouillon)
6 Tablespoons Butter
8 Tablespoons Flour
2 sheets thawed Puff Pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large frying pan with deep sides, melt butter and add in onions. Cook until they become translucent. Put in the mushrooms and the salt and pepper and cook until they just begin to soften.  Add the beef and toss.  Then add in flour and mix until the flour is fully incorporated.  Then add in the broth and cook until just thickened.   

Divide mixture between 2 9" pie pans (I used glass ones).  Then put the puff pastry on top and cut to fit the round shape with scissors. Cut numerous vent holes in the puff pastry with a sharp knife.  Put into the oven over a cookie sheet (it might drip) and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the puff pastry is puffed up and browned.

Five Element Analysis

Beef and Mushrooms belong to the Earth Element so this is clearly a very grounding dish.  The wheat in the puff pastry and flour contributes the Wood Element. The onions bring in the Metal Element and the butter adds even more.  The Water and Fire Elements are missing so be sure to serve foods later that belong to these elements, but if you are trying to make a balanced meal, serve the Pot Pie with a green salad or with sliced tomatoes and perhaps some dark berries for dessert.




Monday, July 21, 2014

Versatile and Simple Chicken Salad




















I bought two roast chickens the day before yesterday because I was too tired to cook. There were four of us here and that's a lot of chicken!  So of course there was leftover chicken today and since all of us here favor the dark meat when it is hot, there were 2 whole chicken breasts waiting to be used.  And, when I have leftover chicken, I love to make chicken salad.  I like it simple - just chicken, celery, red onion and mayonnaise. During the summer, I get inspired to add some snipped Tarragon and I always add Lawry's Seasoned Salt. But, this is a versatile recipe - I have made it into a Curried Chicken Salad and have even added fruit, fresh or dried, red and yellow peppers and even nuts. Some people like to use 1/2 mayonnaise and 1/2 yogurt or sour cream. There are so many options!  Most people I know like their chicken salad as a great big sandwich.  I like to serve it with Rice Crackers so it's almost like a dip.  And if I'm going to have it for lunch, I serve a salad or I make a soup to go with it - made from the leftover roast chicken bones - of course. Any way you make chicken salad - it's delicious!

Versatile and Simple Chicken Salad

2 cups diced cooked chicken
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red onion or green onion
1/2 cup Mayonnaise (I used Best Foods/Hellmans)
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt (or just plain salt and pepper)
1 teaspoon fresh Tarragon, snipped into small pieces (or 1/2 teaspoon dried Tarragon)

Optional:  1/2 teaspoon crumbled Rosemary or  1/2 teaspoon Curry Powder
Optional:  Cut up Apples or Halved Grapes
Optional:  Walnuts, Pecans, Raisins, Dried Cranberries
Optional:  Cut up Red or Yellow Peppers or Cucumbers

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve with Crackers (I used Rice Crackers) or Toasted Bread

Five Element Analysis

Of course, the elemental makeup will change depending on what you put in, but for the basic Chicken Salad Recipe, the Chicken contributes the Wood Element and the celery adds even more. The Red Onion and herbs bring in the Metal Element along with the Mayonnaise.  The salad I served with it adds the Fire Element.  Dried fruit or peppers will contribute the Fire Element too. The walnuts and pecans would bring in the Water Element or serve it with soup. But, the Earth Element is still missing. Adding cucumbers might be an idea or serving it with a sweet dessert sounds even better to create a Five Element balance.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Twice Cooked Pork - Hui Gou Rou
















Tonight, I made a dish that reminded me of my childhood - Hui Gou Rou or Twice Cooked Pork.  This was one of my father's favorite dishes and my mother would make it whenever she felt like pleasing him.  Now, back then, I thought it was a bit too spicy, but these days, it seems pretty tame. This recipe traditionally uses pork belly first boiled and then sliced thin to be cooked again another day. I did something a bit different. I used leftover pork chops from the night before, sliced them thin and then sautéed them with onions and cabbage and seasoned the dish with Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce and Chili Bean Sauce. I thought about adding green peppers as is sometimes done, but I would have just picked them out and sometimes I add red peppers or  green onions or leeks instead of the onions - the choice is yours. This dish comes together in only minutes because the meat is already cooked. Served with some rice, it makes a lovely lunch. For a Chinese dinner, it is a good choice as one of several dishes as it has a very distinctive taste.

Twice Cooked Pork - Hui Gou Rou

1/2 pound leftover cooked pork, sliced into thin strips
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 small Onion, sliced thin
1/2 Cabbage, cored and sliced into strips (about same size as pork)
1/2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
1 Tablespoon Chili Bean Sauce
1/2 cup  Chicken Broth
1 heaping teaspoon of Cornstarch mixed with enough water to make a slurry

Heat a wok or large frying pan and add in the oil.  Then put in the onion and cabbage and cook, tossing until just beginning to brown. Then add in the pork, the Chicken Broth, the Soy Sauce or Tamari and the Chili Bean Sauce.  Stir and bring to a boil and cook until the meat softens (only a few minutes).  Mix in Cornstarch slurry and stir until slightly thickened.  Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and the Soy Sauce, Chili Bean Sauce and Hoisin Sauce all add even more water. The Onion contributes the Metal Element along with the Rice and the Cabbage brings in the Earth Element. The Wood Element is represented by the Chicken Broth. The Chili Bean Sauce also brings in the Fire Element although this is the one element that could use some support. So add the red peppers in or pass some extra chili sauce on the side or serve with tea to make this a balanced delicious little dish.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Salad

I've been cooking this month, but somehow I've found myself cooking a lot of my old favorites, which are already on this blog and because it has been so hot, I've mostly been making salads.  So, I thought I would share with you one of the salads that I usually make in the fall. It's composed of roasted caramelized cubes of Butternut Squash, chopped up Swiss Chard and pre-cooked Wild Rice. Now, I cheated a bit as I bought the Wild Rice precooked at Trader Joe's, but I will give you the recipe for making it from scratch.  I also added Red Onions - I bought new ones with the green tops attached at the Farmer's Market so that's why you see what looks like green onion. The dressing is composed of Cider Vinegar, a bit of Olive Oil, salt and mustard.  It's a filling salad and quite beautiful to look at and delicious too! 

Swiss Chard called Silverbeet in New Zealand is a nutritional powerhouse, chock full of antioxidants and phytonutrients.  It's considered helpful for blood sugar regulation as is Butternut Squash and  is anti-inflammatory and good for bone health. For me, It's tender and delicious and I think it is tastier than Kale.  So, if you are tired of the same old salads - try this one. I think you'll like it.  

Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Salad

1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed, trimmed from center rib and cut into bite size pieces
1 small Butternut Squash, peeled, cut into bite size cubes and roasted (recipe below)
Cooked Wild Rice (recipe below)
1/2 small Red Onion cut into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt

In a small bowl, put in the Red Onion, the Cider Vinegar, the Mustard, the Olive Oil and Salt. Stir to Combine.  Place the Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Wild Rice in a large bowl.  Pour dressing over and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

For Butternut Squash:  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Put small cubes of Butternut Squash onto an oiled baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to keep the pieces from sticking.  The squash is done with the pieces are browned and soft.

For Wild Rice:  Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add in 1/4 cup of Wild Rice and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes then drain in a mesh colander.  Use as directed above.

Five Element Analysis

Swiss Chard belongs to the Wood Element and the Cider Vinegar and Olive Oil adds even more. The Wild Rice, since it is a dark colored seed contributes the Water Element.  The Butternut Squash adds the Earth Element and the Mustard and Red Onion contribute the Metal Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so serve this with a Fiery main course or add a Berry dessert to create balance. I'm thinking of adding some tart dried cherries next time.