Saturday, May 13, 2017

Roasted Green Beans with Roasted Garlic and Sumac

I had a salad that I bought from the International Market in Portland that I really liked. It was Green Beans that had clearly been roasted with big roasted Garlic Cloves and a sprinkling of Sumac on top. Sumac is made from a dried tart berry and is used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking. I particularly like it with Kebabs. And, this dish gave me another reason to use it. I recreated these Green Beans and I changed it up a bit (of course!) and roasted the Garlic Cloves more so that they became soft enough to mash with a little Olive and then they became a kind of dressing. I don't know why, but I just prefer roasted Garlic spreadable on toast and don't love biting into big pieces. This way, I still got all that wonderful Garlic flavor but in a creamier texture. I also added a little Lemon as the Sumac gives it just a hint of a sour flavor and I think the Lemon enhances it a lot. This dish was so good that I wanted to eat the whole bowl myself. I actually kept picking at it before I photographed it so there's already some missing!  It was incredibly easy to make as the oven did most of the work. The Garlic took 45 minutes and then the Green Beans cooked the last 15 minutes of that time so then all that was required was to put it together. By the way, this dish is it is really good both hot and cold.  I will be making this dish over and over again!

Roasted Green Beans with Roasted Garlic and Sumac

1 whole Garlic, top 1/2 cut off
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound of Green Beans, washed and ends removed, snapped in half (discard any that don't snap)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Sumac

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the Garlic in a piece of Aluminum foil large enough to enclose it. Drizzle the Olive Oil over the cut top and then enclose it completely. Place on a small oven pan and cook for 30 minutes. Then place the Green Beans on a large baking pan and drizzle with the Olive Oil and Salt. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing and turning every 5 minutes. Remove the Garlic and the Green Beans from the Oven.

Place the Green Beans in a large bowl. In a small bowl, squeeze out the Roasted Garlic and mash (or leave whole). Add the Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and stir to combine. Pour over the Green Beans and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Sumac to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Green Beans belong to the Wood Element and the Olive Oil and Lemon Juice add even more. So this is a very Wood dish.  The Roasted Garlic is from the Metal Element except that it cooks so long that it becomes caramelized, making more Earthy. However, overall, this is a good contributor of the Wood Element in a meal.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Chicken Jalfrezi with Basmati Rice

This is a dish I order frequently at Indian Restaurants because I can get it without Yogurt.  I so love Indian flavors, but I just can't do that much dairy and if I'm going to do dairy, I will save it for Butter Chicken. Anyway, I decided to make it at home tonight and I'm so glad I did. For those of you who haven't had this dish, it is a mix of Chicken with Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes. I cut the Chicken, Onions and Peppers into smaller pieces than usual but I don't like picking up big chunks. This dish is seasoned with an assortment of warm spices that is part of the magic of Indian food and my favorite seasoning in it is the Kashmiri Chili Powder.  Now, I can't eat really hot food, so I toned this one down and I changed the Green Peppers to Yellow and Orange as I like them so much better. And, instead of hot Green Chiles, I used just two little Red Jalapeños with the seeds and membranes removed. I also leave them in half so I can pick them out. I know - I'm a lightweight!  Of course, you can add more Chili Powder and hotter Chiles to your taste, but I need to feel my tongue when I am done eating and I hate to sweat!  You can also add Yogurt if you like creamy sauces at the end.  So, this is a very moderate version that is simply so delicious!  I've been trying to add more warming foods to my diet and this dish fit the bill. It's really a kind of Indian stir fry and it tastes even better the next day, if there is any left over!

Chicken Jalfrezi with Basmati Rice

For Chicken:

1 pound of boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs
a 2" piece of Ginger, peeled and grated
4 small or 2 large Garlic cloves, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons of Ghee for stir-frying

Cut the chicken into cubes about 3/4 - 1".  Place the pieces into a bowl and add all the other seasoning ingredients. Mix thoroughly and cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours.

For Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Ghee
2 small Onions, chopped roughly
10 small Yellow and Orange Peppers or 2 large Red, Green, Yellow or Orange Peppers cut into small pieces (about the same size as the Chicken)
2 Red Jalapeño Chiles top cut off, cut in half and seeds and membranes removed
4 - 5 Roma Tomatoes stem end removed and chopped coarsely
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 - 3 Tablespoons Kashmiri Chili Powder
Optional:  1/4 cup Yogurt + additional 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Heat the Ghee in a large frying pan and add in Onions, Jalapeño Chili halves and Peppers. Cook until the Onions and Peppers soften. Add in the Tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes or until the Tomatoes have softened into a sauce. Remove to a bowl.

Heat the additional 2 Tablespoons of Ghee in the frying pan and add in the Chicken. Cook until lightly browned on one side and then turn, browning the other side as well. Then stir and cook until the Chicken is no longer pink. Add the sauce back in and reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked and still tender.  If using Yogurt, add it off the heat and stir until mixed in thoroughly.  Serve over Basmati Rice.

Basmati Rice

1 cup Basmati Rice, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cup Water
1 heaping Tablespoon of Ghee
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element. The Tomatoes, Peppers and Chili Powder make sure that the Fire Element is fully present. All of the Spices and Ghee along with the Ginger and Onions and Garlic make sure contribute a lot of the Metal Element and the Rice adds even more. This meal is missing the Water Element so an Eggplant dish would be a good side and the Earth Element is also not present, so plan on serving a sweet dessert to creat a balanced Five Element meal!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Black Sesame and Rice Porridge with Shredded Eggs

I was just down visiting my friend Sabine down in Portland and she made this wonderful Korean breakfast for me while I was there. It was a hot Porridge made with Black Sesame Seeds and Sticky Rice and topped with Pine Nuts. It is very much a kind of Congee or Jook and can be eaten sweet or savory. She tops hers with Maple Syrup, but I had to make Shredded Eggs for mine and I drizzled a small amount of Tamari and Toasted Sesame Oil on top. It was so nourishing and delicious!  Besides that, Sesame Seeds are an amazing healthy food. In Chinese Medicine, they are considered very good for the Kidneys. They are  also supposed to make your hair grow, nourish your blood and in addition, treats dry skin. Sabine based this recipe on one found in Quick and Easy Korean Cooking, although she changed the proportion of Sesame Seeds to Water. The only thing you have to remember is to soak the Rice the night before.  The recipe for Shredded Eggs is one that I have been making since childhood. This is a wonderful breakfast for a cold morning and one I really think you should make soon!

Black Sesame and Rice Porridge with Shredded Eggs

1 cup Short Grain Sticky Rice, soaked overnight
1 cup Black Sesame Seeds
4 cups of Water
1/2 cup toasted Pine Nuts

Combine the drained Sticky Rice and Sesame Seeds in a food processor or blender with 1 cup of the water. Pour into a medium pot and add the additional 3 cups water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes stirring often and add a bit more water if necessary. 

Divide the Porridge into 4 bowls and top with Pine Nuts and serve with Shredded Eggs or Maple Syrup.

Shredded Eggs

2 Eggs, beaten lightly
2 teaspoons vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons Tamari
1 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil

Heat the Oil in a 10 inch frying pan. Pour in the Eggs and tilt pan so that a thin layer of egg covers the entire pan. Cook until the top is nearly dry and roll with a spatula onto a plate. Let cool slightly and cut into thirds and then into shreds. Place on a serving plate or in a bowl and drizzle with the Tamari and Sesame Oil.

Five Element Analysis

Black Sesame Seeds are a great Water Food, because they are seeds but also because they are black.  The Eggs and Pine Nuts along with the Tamari and Sesame Oil all add even more of the Water Element. The Rice brings it the Metal Element and the fact that it is a Porridge makes it a bit of the Earth Element as well.  So, make sure you add in some foods from the other Elements later in the day.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kale Salad with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

So as I told you last week, I went to a family gathering for Easter and I was asked to make a Kale Salad and forgot to post the recipe - so here it is for those in the family who asked for it. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I've already made several kinds. So I wanted to make something a little different.  I decided to use dried fruits because I wanted to create a jewel-toned look. I dehydrated some dried Tart Cherries, some Cranberries and some Golden Raisins so they would be a bit softer although you can skip this step if you want. Then I used some Pine Nuts as a little bit of a different texture, since they are a similar size. I used Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale and sliced it very thin in the Chiffonade style and I made a dressing with Raspberry Vinegar, which is a little sweet and of course, Olive Oil. It was beautiful and delicious too!  I liked the Kale cut up this way much better than in bigger pieces and the sweetness of the fruit and the dressing took away the bitterness of the Kale (my biggest complaint about it as a vegetable). I loved the Pine Nuts on the salad too. We served it with a sprinkling of Parmesan and it was a big hit!

Kale Salad with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

2 bunches of Lacinato Kale, washed
1/4 cup each - Dried Tart Cherries, Dried Cranberries, Dried Golden Raisins
1 cup Boiling Water for rehydrating the fruit
1/3 cup Pine Nuts
1/3 cup Raspberry Vinegar (or use Balsamic)
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons minced Shallot (1 smallish bulb)
Optional:  1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Strip the Kale leaves from the center stem. Then roll up and slice into thin strips. Place in the salad bowl. In another bowl, soak the dried fruit in the boiling water. When soft (it only takes a few minutes), drain and reserve. Toast the Pine Nuts in a small frying, watching carefully and stirring so they don't burn.  remove to a plate and cool. 

In a small bowl, mix together the Raspberry Vinegar, Olive Oil, Sugar, Salt and the Shallot pieces.  Stir to combine and pour over the Kale. Toss to combine well and use your hands to massage the dressing in a little. Let the salad marinate for at least 15 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle the Salad with the Fruit, Pine Nuts and Parmesan Cheese to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Kale is a dark green and leafy vegetable so it belongs to both the Water and Wood Elements. The Water Element is further enhanced by the Pine Nuts and the Wood Element is given more strength from the Vinegar and Olive Oil. The dried Cherries and Cranberries belong to the Fire Element and the Golden Raisins make sure that the Earth Element has a presence too. Lastly, the Parmesan Cheese and Shallot contribute the Metal Element. This then is a nearly balanced Five Element Salad. Just be sure to add a little more Earth to your meal!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Simple Lemony Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap Peas are a delightful Spring vegetable and they should be enjoyed during the season. They are one of my favorite vegetables and I like them done very simply so that nothing takes away that wonderful fresh Pea flavor and crispness of the pods. Be sure to take the time to snip off the ends and remove the strings, it's worth it!  Usually, I just blanch them for three minutes and then season them with Sesame Oil and Salt to give it a lightly Asian flavor. But for Easter, I was bringing it as a side dish to a family gathering and decided to change it up just a little bit and so I seasoned them instead with Butter and Lemon, some grated Lemon Zest and a sprinkle of Sea Salt. The Snap Pea Pods were so delicious this way. The Lemon Zest gave it an extra special touch and made the presentation beautiful as well. This is such a simple recipe, but so worth making!

Simple Lemony Sugar Snap Peas

1 pound Sugar Snap Peas
2 Tablespoons Butter
Zest of one small Lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
Juice of one small Lemon (about 1 1/2 Tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt (I used Maldon's)

Remove the tips and any strings that you can from the Peas. Heat a pot of water to a boil and add the Peas. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes (no longer) and remove to a strainer and cool off with cold water. Place in a serving bowl.

Heat the Butter in a small frying pan until melted and add in the Lemon Juice and Salt.  Pour over the Peas and toss. Then sprinkle on the Lemon Zest before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Peas are very fast growing early spring vegetables so they are considered part of the Wood Element and the Lemon Juice adds even more. But because they are so sweet, they are Earthy too.  The Butter contributes the Metal Element and finally the Lemon Zest adds in the Fire Element and the bit of Salt makes sure the Water Element is present too. Strangely, this little dish has more Five Element balance than most although it is primarily a Wood dish.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pennsylvania Dutch Style Deviled Eggs

Yesterday, I celebrated Easter with Son and Daughter in Law and her family and we all brought food for the Easter feast. My son wanted to make Deviled Eggs so I gave him my Grandmother's recipe with a few upgrades. We made 2 dozen!  Instead of chopped up Bread and Butter Pickles, which are traditional and sweet, I used Claussen's refrigerated Pickles because I like the crunch. And instead of a German style mustard, I used Dijon, mostly because I ran out of Lowensenf. I also use Best Foods/Hellman's Mayonnaise as I can't remember what my Grandmother used.  To make the Deviled Eggs taste right because of those changes, add a little sugar to give it that hint of sweet and sour taste that is so reminiscent of Pennsylvania Dutch style Deviled Eggs. These are actually delicious and quite easy to make, plus they are always a big hit!

Pennsylvania Dutch Style Deviled Eggs

1 Dozen large Eggs
½ cup Best Foods (Hellman’s) Mayonnaise
3 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard or German Mustard
3 Tablespoons Dill Pickles (I used Claussen), minced or Sweet and Sour Pickles
2 teaspoons Pickle Juice 
½  teaspoon Sugar (omit if using Bread and Butter Pickles)
¼ teaspoon Salt
Paprika for Garnish

In a large pot, cover eggs with cold water and bring to a boil. Cover and take off heat for 20 minutes. Then drain the eggs and let cool.  Peel the eggs and cut in half. Remove yolks carefully with a small spoon.  Put all the yolks into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.  Add in Mayonnaise, Mustard, Pickles, Sugar and Salt. Spoon back into the Egg Whites and sprinkle with Paprika to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element. The Pickles contribute the Wood Element and the Mayonnaise and Mustard bring in the Metal Element. The Sugar makes sure that the Earth Element has a presence and the Paprika does the same for the Fire Element. All Five Elements are present but not in a balanced way. But this is an appetizer so you know that it will add a lot of the Water Element to the meal.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Simple Sweet and Sour Napa Cabbage

I haven't been posting lately because I've been testing recipes for the cookbook that I'm writing. I don't think I've mentioned that before, but I am very excited about how it's turning out!  I'll let you know more as it progresses.  So, I haven't been cooking very many things that are new and different that I can post. Yesterday, I made a quick Sweet and Sour Cabbage dish to go with a little Pork Loin that I was roasting, while I was testing Chinese Barbecue Sauces and the dish went so well with the Pork that I decided to go and ahead and share it with you. I realized while in Germany a few years ago that whenever a fatty meat was served, like Pork, they also served something sour to help the digestive processes of the liver and gallbladder. The Chinese have always thought that way too so this is a perfect little dish for just that purpose. I think Cabbage in all it's various manifestations is a wonderful and extremely underrated vegetable!  Like all members of the Brassica family, it is very nutritious and protective health-wise so that alone is a good enough reason to eat more Cabbage. But I eat it because it is delicious. This recipe takes only a few minutes to cook, which is so helpful for a busy cook. I decided on it at the last minute because I realized I forgot to plan for a vegetable and I was so happy I did!

Quick Sweet and Sour Napa Cabbage

3 cups chopped Napa Cabbage
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Chinkiang Vinegar (Chinese Black Vinegar - you can also use Balsamic Vinegar)
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
fresh Ground Black Pepper
Optional 1 Green Onion, trimmed and cut into small pieces

Heat a wok or frying pan and add in the oil. Then add in the Napa Cabbage (and Green Onion if using) and stir frequently until the Cabbage starts to brown just slightly on the edges. Mix together the Vinegar, Sugar and Salt and stir into the Cabbage. Top with a little Black Pepper over the top. 

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element and the Sugar adds just a bit more, so this is a primarily Earthy side dish. The Vinegar contributes a little bit of the Wood Element. If you use the Green Onion, you add in a little bit of the Metal Element too and the Black Pepper adds just a hint of the Fire Element. This is a very good addition to a meal that needs more of the Earth Element.