Thursday, June 23, 2016

Oven Baked Onion Rings - Gluten Free

I went out to a Burger Bar last week with some friends as I do love Hamburgers and French Fries. But, what caught my eye that night were the Onion Rings that I couldn't eat as they were dipped into a Tempura Batter made with wheat. I've been craving Onion Rings ever since and I finally decided to make some that are Gluten Free. I also didn't want to deep fry them as they get so greasy, so I chose to Oven Bake them drizzled with just a little oil on the baking sheet. I debated about which coating to use. Traditionally, Onion Rings are made with a batter and there are recipes out there that use Rice Flour and Gluten Free Flour along with Beer or Soda Water. Another variation uses Bread Crumbs or Panko and there are both of those products available in a Gluten Free form. Some people like to use Cornmeal, for an extra crunch. But, I decided to use Potato Flour (also called Potato Starch) and I used regular Yellow Onions, instead of the sweet ones as I think they have more flavor. The Onion Rings turned out fantastic and I ate the entire helping in one sitting!  It was a good thing they were an experiment as I only made one Onion's worth - I'm giving you the recipe for two so you can share. They were just as Onion Rings should be, shatteringly crispy on the outside, tender and sweet on the inside. You just have to try Onion Rings made this way!

Oven Baked Onions Rings - Gluten Free

2 Yellow Onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings 
1 cup Almond Milk (you can also use Soy Milk or Regular Milk)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Potato Flour (Potato Starch)
1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I used Paul Prudhomme's Vegetable Magic)
3 Tablespoons Light Flavored oil (I used Safflower)

Pour Almond Milk into a bowl and mix in the Salt. Put in the Onion Rings and let soak for at least 15 minutes.  Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a large plate, mix together the Potato Flour and Seasoned Salt. Get a large baking sheet ready by drizzling with oil. Take Onions Rings out a few at a time and coat in the Potato Flour mixture.  Then put onto the baking sheet. Repeat until all Onion Rings are coated.  

Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn Onion Rings over. Cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes, watching carefully until crispy and light Golden Brown. Sprinkle with additional salt if desired. 

Five Element Analysis

Onions belong to the Metal Element and are very good for you as they are a Qi Tonic!  The Almond Milk and Potato Flour bring in the Earth Element. There is a hint of the Fire Element in the Paprika that is part of the Seasoned Salt and the Oven Baking adds some Fire as well. The Water and Wood Elements are missing, so clearly this dish is meant to be eaten with other foods, if you can wait long enough to serve them in a meal!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Parmesan Potato Stacks

I saw a picture on Pinterest of Potato Slices cooked in a muffin tin and jut knew I had to make it for my son, who loves Potatoes - especially if they are buttery and crispy. So, I improvised and created a recipe that is loosely based on a previous post (Potato Casserole) and went from there. The Potatoes are sliced thin and then tossed with melted Butter, Garlic Powder and Parmesan Cheese. Then they are placed into a cupcake tin in small stacks and baked in the oven for one hour until the Potatoes soft on the inside and crispy on the top and crusty on the bottom. They were divine! Perfect as a side dish for Sausages, Steak, Chops or Ham.  You have to try this recipe if you love Potatoes - it's comfort food at it's best!

Parmesan Potato Stacks

4 Medium Russet Potatoes, about 3 inches around and 5 inches long, peeled
4 Tablespoons Melted Salted Butter (or use Unsalted Butter and 1/2 teaspoon Salt)
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 12 Cupcake Tins with Butter.  Slice Potatoes very thin and place in a large bowl. Add in the Melted Butter, Garlic Powder and Parmesan Cheese. Toss to coat.  Place slices of Potato in each Muffin Tin, dividing evenly.  Scrape up the last bits of Parmesan Cheese left in the bowl and top the Potato Stacks. Place in the oven and cook for about one hour.  Remove from the oven and scoop out individual Potato Stacks using a large spoon, scraping up the crusty bits at the bottom. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element and the Butter and Parmesan Cheese add the Metal Element. As this is a side dish, it is clearly meant to enhance the Five Element balance of the Meal so use this when you need go add some Earth and Metal.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Cabbage is a much underrated vegetable - it is actually quite nutritious and is one of those kitchen workhorses that can be used in so many ways. It keeps well and is what I turn to most in a last minute need to make a salad to go with whatever I'm making. After a visit to my local butcher, I stocked up on his wonderful Bratwurst and decided to make a German Krautsalat to go with them.  I also made some great potatoes (next post). I go to Germany several times a year and one of the salads I enjoy the most is the one I am giving to you today. It's a really simple salad - just green cabbage shredded finely and softened in salted water, then dressed with white vinegar, pepper, oil and a little sugar. I like to add in other ingredients like pieces of bacon and a little chopped and sautéed shallot, but many other things can be added too, like carrots and herbs. This salad is one of those recipes where keeping it simple is the most delicious!


1 small head Green Cabbage
4 cups Boiling Water
2 Tablespoons Salt
4 Tablespoons White Vinegar
2 Tablespoons neutral tasting oil (Safflower, Sunflower, Canola or Grapeseed)
1 teaspoons Sugar
Fresh ground Black Pepper

Optional:  5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 small Shallot, minced and sautéed in 2 teaspoons oil until soft
1 large Carrot Shredded
1 Red Pepper, cut into small pieces

Cut the Cabbage in quarters and cut out the core. Then shred finely with a sharp knife. Place in a large Glass or Ceramic bowl with the Hot Water and Salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixed. Let soak for 30 minutes or until cool. Drain the water, squeezing the cabbage with your hands to release as much water as possible.  In a small bowl, mix together the Vinegar, Oil, Sugar and Black Pepper. Pour over the Cabbage. Add other ingredients if using (except for Bacon) and let sit for at least one hour or refrigerated for several hours or overnight. If using bacon, sprinkle on just before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage is a vegetable that belongs to the Earth Element so that Element is covered. The Vinegar contributes the Wood Element, the Oil made from seeds adds the Water Element and the Black Pepper brings in just a hint of the Fire Element. The Bacon and Pork Sausages we served this salad with added more of the Water Element and the Shallot brought in the Metal Element. Then only the Fire Element was missing,  o we served some Strawberries for dessert to create a Five Element balance in the meal.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pho - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Since visiting the Viet Wah grocery store, I got excited about making Vietnamese food at home and one of my favorite dishes is Pho. This is one of the national dishes of Vietnam. Some people think that it was influenced by the French Pot au Feu, but the Northern Vietnamese swear they were making this before the French arrived. 

If you've been following me for a while, you know how much I love soup and Pho is the equivalent of a Beef Bone Broth with delightful Asian flavors. I go to Vietnamese restaurants quite regularly to order this wonderful soup as it is so nourishing and so delicious! This soup builds blood and it turns out that it is a lot easier to make than you think. I got to talking with one of the cashiers at the market and she told me how she makes it, so this is the recipe you are getting today. It took a total of 3 hours to make the broth, which can be done ahead. The Beef Broth is cooked with charred Onion and Ginger first and then with Star Anise, Cinnamon and Clove. These lovely spices make the house smell wonderful and give the broth it's exotic flavor! 

I used a combination of Beef Neck Bones along with Beef Shank with the bone in. Shank is one of those meats that can be cooked for a really long time and then still tastes good. Oxtails, Beef Brisket and Beef Marrow Bones are also recommended. If you want to be like the Vietnamese restaurants, you can add some very thinly sliced Beef Round to the Rice Noodles and pour the broth over, which cooks the meat. This version is called Pho Tai. You can also make Vietnamese Meatballs, which can be bought frozen at Vietnamese Markets. I'll post a recipe for these soon. The garnishes for Pho include Thai Basil, Cilantro, Green Onions, Thinly sliced Red Onion, Fresh Bean Sprouts and Sliced Jalapeños as well as slices of Lime to squeeze on top. Seasoned to taste with Sriracha and Hoisin sauce, it is a wonderful meal that is eaten as breakfast in Vietnam, but is so good any time of the day

Pho - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

2 pound Beef Neck Bones
2 pounds Beef Shank, bone in
Optional:  Beef Brisket or Oxtails in equal amounts
Water to cover and blanch
16 cups Water to make broth
1 large Onion, unpeeled
1 3-inch piece of Ginger, skin on
1 Cinnamon Stick (about 1 1/2 - 2 inches long)
1 large Star Anise or 2-3 smaller ones
1 whole Clove
3 - 4 teaspoons Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper

1 pound package of dried Rice Noodles

For Garnish:  
Fresh Beansprouts, one handful per serving (about 1/2 cup)
3 Green Onions, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced Red Onion
1/2 cup Cilantro Leaves
Thai Basil - about 6 - 8 leaves per bowl
Two Limes, cut into 6 slices each
2 Jalapeño Peppers, cut into thin rings

Optional:  1 pound thinly sliced Beef Top Round or Vietnamese Beef Meatballs

For Serving:  Sriracha and Hoisin Sauce

Heat oven to Broil. Put in Onion and Ginger on a baking sheet and cook until the skin is charred, turning once. Remove from oven when done and peel onion and cut into quarter.  Cut Ginger into thin slices.

Meanwhile, in a large Soup Pot, put in the Beef Neck Bones and Beef Shanks. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat for 3 minutes.  Drain and add in fresh water and put in the Onion and Garlic. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Skim any foam that comes to the surface. Cook for 2 hours.  

Then add in the Star Anise, Cinnamon, Clove, Salt, Sugar and Pepper.Add a little extra water if the level has gone down a lot. Simmer for an additional one hour. Then cool down the soup and remove the bones and meat. Cut the meat up into small pieces, discarding fat and gristle. Strain the broth to remove the Onions, Ginger and Spices. The broth can then be put into the refrigerator or freezer for later use. 

Once you are ready to make the Noodle Soup, cook the Rice Noodles in boiling water or 3 - 5 minutes (or as package instructions suggest). Drain and rinse with cold water.  Put into individual bowls about 1/3 of the bowl. Add in the sliced Beef or Meatballs. Reheat the Broth until boiling and ladle over the noodles and meat, being sure to scoop up some of the chopped Beef Shank. Serve with Garnishes and Sauces and add to individual taste.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always considered part of the Water Element and this soups is made with Bones, which makes it even more Watery. But it is made of Beef Shank and that kind of meat belongs to the Earth Element. The Ginger, Spices, Cilantro, Thai Basil along with the Green and Red Onion contribute the Metal Element and the Rice Noodles add even more Metal. The Bean Sprouts and Lime Juice bring in the Wood Element. The Fire Element is seen in the Sriracha and Jalapeños, making this a perfectly balanced bowl of soup!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Green Papaya Salad

I love Green Papaya Salads whenever I have ordered them at Vietnamese restaurants, but often they serve a dressing that has dried Shrimp in it and I'm allergic. So, the best thing for me to do is make it at home.  I usually stop by Viet Wah Supermarket on the way back from the airport and found some Green Papaya and made this delightful salad. It was so much easier than I thought and so inexpensive too. I wanted to make it a main dish salad so I added in some leftover roast Pork, although Chicken and Beef would work just as well.  The dressing is light with no oil - just Lime Juice, Garlic, Red Chili Flakes, Fish Sauce and some Sugar. When it's tossed together with the Papaya, something magical happens. I added some sliced tomatoes for some. If you can't find Green Papaya, I've heard that Green Apple makes a good substitute.  I was just so happy eating this delicious salad!

Green Papaya Salad

1 large Green Papaya (about 1 pound), peeled and seeded and cut into julienned slices
1/2 cup of Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup fresh Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes 
Optional:  1 cup of sliced cooked meat, cut into thin strips

Combine the Garlic, Lime Juice, Fish Sauce, Sugar and Red Chili Flakes. Stir to combine and dissolve Sugar.  Place the Green Papaya shreds into a large bowl and sprinkle with the sliced Cherry Tomatoes and meat.  Pour the Dressing over and toss to combine. Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to meld the flavors.

Five Element Analysis

Papaya in Chinese Medicine is thought to lubricate the lungs, enhance digestion and relieve inflammation so you know this salad is good for you!  Ripe Papaya is normally considered an Earthy tropical fruit as it is sweet, but when it is green, it becomes more Woody, so both elements are covered. The Lime Juice adds even more of the Wood Element and the Sugar brings in more of the Earth. The Tomatoes and the Red Chili Flakes contribute the Fire Element, whereas the Garlic Cloves add the Metal Element. Even the Water Element is present, represented by the Fish Sauce and the sliced Pork. This then is a balanced little salad! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gluten Free Southern Sausage Balls

This is one of those recipes that you probably have to be from the South (of the US) to know about. It's a well known appetizer down there and I've always loved them. My goal was to make them Gluten Free. It's an appetizer that is a cross between a Meatball and a Biscuit. It is made from Pork Breakfast Sausage, a bit of Onion and Celery, some Cheese (I used Almond Cheese to make it Lactose Free) and a Gluten Free Flour Blend (I used Gluten Free BIsquick). It's held together by an Egg and then rolled into little balls and baked. Believe me, they are much more delicious than they sound. My son said they reminded him of Stuffing, which is a good thing!  If you aren't doing Lactose Free, you can use regular Cheddar Cheese and you may not need to use the egg to bind it all together. These chewy and savory Sausage Balls are really good!

Gluten Free Southern Sausage Balls

1 pound Breakfast Pork Sausage
2 cups Gluten Free Bisquick
1 1/2 cups grated Almond Cheese (or Soy Cheese or Cow's Milk Cheddar Cheese)
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced Onion
1/4 cup minced Celery
Pinch of Black Pepper and Cayenne Pepper (if desired)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix Pork Sausage, GF BIsquick, Cheese, Egg, Onion and Celery together with your hands. Then shape into walnut sized balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Five Element Analysis

Pork Sausage belongs to the Water Element as does the Egg so that Element is covered. The Almond Cheese brings in the Earth Element as does the Potato Starch in the Bisquick. It also contains Rice Flour that is from the Metal Element and the Onion brings in even more. The Celery adds just a little of the Wood Element and the Fire Element is represented by the small amount of the two Peppers. Clearly this is not a completely balanced Five Element dish, but it's close. So serve it with some other appetizers, dips or spreads that incorporate the Wood and Fire Elements to achieve balance.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Cuban Pork with Mojo Marinade

I bought a small Pork Shoulder Roast the other day and decided to marinate it Cuban Style in a Mojo Marinade. This marinade is usually made with Sour Oranges, but I didn't have any so I improvised by using Orange, Lemon and Lime along with Garlic, Salt, Olive Oil and some Cumin and Oregano. I marinated the Pork in this delicious marinade for 2 days and finally roasted it tonight. It was so delicious, I almost swooned! Of course, I've eaten at Cuban restaurants many times and I'm familiar with these flavors, but tonight it just tasted like the perfect marriage of flavors. The pork was tender and moist and the flavor of the marinade permeated the whole roast. It also made a delicious pan sauce to serve over the sliced Pork. I'm quite sure that it would be good with Chicken Thighs as well.  

Cuban Pork with Mojo Marinade

Juice of 1 large Navel Orange
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lime
6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Salt
3 pound boneless Pork Shoulder Roast (can also use Chicken Thighs)
1/3 cup Olive Oil

Mix the marinade ingredients and place in a large closing plastic bag or put into a large container with a lid. Add the Pork and marinate for 4 - 8 hours or overnight up to 2 days.  Turn several times to let the flavors penetrate. When ready to roast, turn the oven to 450 degrees. Place the Pork on a roasting pan and discard marinade.  Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 degrees and cook for 90 minutes more. Let the Pork Roast rest for 15 minutes before slicing and pour pan juices over the slices before serving.

Note: If cooking Chicken Thighs, bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and is good for tired Kidneys. The Citrus fruit contributes the Wood Element along with the Olive Oil. The Garlic, Cumin and Oregano add the Metal Element.  The Earth and Fire Elements are missing, which is why this dish is usually served with Plantains,Yucca or even Chayote Squash, which are Earthy. I served the Corn Pudding (previous Post) as my Earth food and baked it with the Roast. I made a salad with Lettuce and Tomatoes from the Fire Element to make this a balanced Five Element Meal.