Monday, November 10, 2014
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
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, washed2 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
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
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.
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.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
One of the beautiful signs of Autumn are Pomegranates. Now, I have a special fondness for them because of the Greek myth of Persephone. And, because I always thought that the seeds looked like little jewels. I love the juicy pop of biting into the seeds and I have stained more than a few garments with their rich red juice. So here it is fall and Pomegranates are everywhere. There was a special on them at my local PCC so I bought five and I've been thinking of new ways of using them. So I made a Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds like I have before, but this time I used Pomegranate Molasses in the dressing as well and I think it made it taste even better. I also added some chopped red onions that I marinated in the dressing and some toasted almond for some crunch. I have to say that this may now be my favorite Kale Salad! The sweet and sour flavor complimented the bitterness of the Kale and it was simply delicious. I might add that it was such a beautiful salad too. Hope you try this one before Pomegranate season ends....
Kale Pomegranate Salad
1 bunch Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale, washed
1/2 cup chopped Red Onion
1 cup Pomegranate Seeds
1/2 cup Almond Slivers or chop whole almonds into small pieces and toast in a frying pan
Two Tablespoons fresh squeezed Lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Pomegranate Molasses (can also use Balsamic Glaze)
1 - 2 teaspoons Honey (to taste)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
In a small bowl, mix together the Lemon Juice, Pomegranate Molasses, 1 Tablespoon of Honey, the Olive Oil and the salt. Stir to combine and taste, adding more honey if desired. Stir in red onion.
Pull the leaves of Kale away from the stem and tear into small pieces. Place the Kale into a salad bowl. Stir in the Dressing and using your hands, massage the dressing into the Kale. Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes. Then toss in the Pomegranate Seeds and the Almonds to serve.
Five Element Analysis
Kale is a Wood Food so that element is covered and the Olive Oil adds even more. Pomegranates, because they are red are part of the Fire Element and in Chinese Medicine, they are considered very good for the heart and the blood and for fertility. In Western Medicine, they have been found to have lots of Vitamin C and have antioxidant properties. The Almonds and Honey contribute the Earth Element. The Red Onion contributes the Metal Element so only the Water Element is missing. So, serve this salad with some soup or seafood with some Pork and you will have achieved a Five Element balance.
I went to a French restaurant the other night and was served cubed potatoes and a mound of sautéed leeks as a side dish to my fish. They were separate side dishes, but I put them together and loved the taste of them combined. So, I decided to create a more attractive version than the one I was given. So, I roasted some new potatoes that were cut into slices and roasted them. Then I sautéed the leeks with butter and thyme until they started to caramelize and served them on top of the crispy potato rounds. It was wonderful and it was a beautiful dish too. I may even serve this at Thanksgiving, I liked it so much and I think it might also work as a party appetizer and I might add some cut up ham. I think this dish could be made ahead of time as the potatoes could be reheated and crisped up and the leeks too so that would make it easier for a party. This combination of potatoes and leeks is a classic one, but the combination of textures makes these ingredients shine in a new way.
Potato Coins with Buttered Leeks
1 pound new potatoes, washed and cut into 1/3" slices
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt - divided in half
3 - 4 Leeks, root end and dark green parts removed, cut in half and sliced thin
3 - 4 Tablespoons of Butter (1 Tablespoon per leek)
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss potate slices with the Oil and put onto a baking sheet, making sure that all the slices are touching the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes then turn the slices over and roast for an additional 15 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, put the sliced leeks into a bowl and cover with water - swish to remove any dirt and drain. Heat butter in a large frying pan and add the Leeks, Thyme and salt. Cook, stirring unit the leeks get soft and become lightly browned - this can take up to 20 minutes.
When the potatoes are done, put them on a platter and spoon a small amount of leeks on top of each Potato "Coin" and serve immediately.
Five Element Analysis
Leeks belong to the allium family and are considered a Metal Food and Potatoes belongs to Earth so this is a side dish that would go well with a meat, like lamb or chicken that are Fire and Wood foods respectively or with fish, which is a Water Food. And, I would serve it with some other green vegetables or a salad to create a Five Element balance.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Seattle has been very rainy these last few days and it has made me crave soup, but I wanted a soup that was rich and creamy without the cream. I was out of potatoes, but I did have a head of Cauliflower and so decided to make it into a soup. But I decided that I wanted the richness of flavor that comes from roasting it. Because the Cauliflower browns and even creates little burnt bits, the color of this soup becomes a lovely shade of tan and the caramelization of the Cauliflower really enhances the flavor. I don't think I'll ever make plain Cauliflower soup again as this was so much better!
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 head Cauliflower, bottom stem an leaves removed and chopped into large pieces
2 Tablespooons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ large Yellow Onion chopped
1 Garlic clove minced
4 cups Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional for Serving: 1/2 cup minced green onions and 1/2 cup cooked Ham sautéed in a small amount of oil.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put Cauliflower in a Bowl and toss with the Olive Oil, then put onto a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes and remove from the oven.
Melt the Butter in a pot and add onion and garlic. Cook until onion softens. Add in the Cauliflower and the Chicken Broth. Cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and puree with a stick blender (or in batches in your Cuisinart or Blender).
Serve with minced Green Onion and small pieces of Ham if desired.
Five Element Analysis
Soup is a Water food, but this soup is thick and creamy so it becomes Earthy too. Cauliflower is one of the few vegetables that belong to the Metal Element, but roasting it brings in some Fire as it ends up with little charred bits. The onions add more Metal and the Chicken Broth and Olive Oil contribute the Wood Element. Serving it with ham adds more of the Water Element so the only element that needs support is the Fire Element so the meal becomes balanced when you add a lettuce and tomato salad.