Saturday, November 16, 2019

Potluck Bean Salad with Mexican Flavors

Many of you who are my students know that it has been a very busy time for me for both personal and professional reasons. And by the way, my Cookbook will be ready very soon!  So, I haven't done much cooking except that on the last day of my recent module, I decided to bring in lunch since there was a Sounders soccer championship going on in the stadium nearby and all the restaurants nearby were booked for lunch. I made my usual Chicken Salad and Tuna Salad along with a Bean Salad that was so good that I had to share it here and also so I wouldn't forget how I made it! It's really a homemade Salsa mixed in with Beans along with some Corn and Green Peppers. I added Avocado too. It was a huge hit especially with my Vegan students, and I realized what a great Potluck dish this would be. I will definitely make it again, especially for a crowd!  I forgot to take a photo and will add it next time I make it.  

Potluck Bean Salad with Mexican Flavors

2 cans Black Beans
2 cans Pinto Beans
1 Green Pepper
½ White Onion
6 medium Tomatoes
4 ears of Corn, cooked or use 2 cups of frozen Corn
Juice of 5 Limes (or Lemons)
½ cup of Vegetable Oil
1 large or 2 small Serrano Chios
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
Optional:  2 - 3 ripe Avocados, cut into small pieces
For Serving:  Cilantro Leaves

Drain the Beans in a Colander, rinse and drain again. Put the Beans into a large mixing bowl. 

Cut the Green Pepper, Tomatoes and the Onion into small pieces and add to the bowl. Cut the Corn off the cob and add to the bowl

In a small mixing bowl, add together the Lime Juice, Vegetable Oil, Serrano Chili, Salt and Sugar. Stir to combine well.  Pour over the Beans and mix well.  Add the Avocado, if using and stir in gently.  Let the Bean Salad sit for at last 15 minutes, preferably longer in the refrigerator.  When ready to serve, sprinkle with Cilantro leaves.  

Five Element Analysis

Beans belong to the Water Element, especially Black Beans and Avocado adds in a bit more Water along with some of the Wood Element too. The Wood Element is further enhanced by the Lime Juice. The Green Pepper belongs to the Fire Element, with a bit of Wood *because of the color) and the Serrano Chiles and Tomatoes make sure that the Fire Element is fully represented. The Corn contributes the Earth Element and the Onion brings in the Metal Element, along with the Cilantro. This is a beautiful, colorful salad so you probably guessed that it contained al Five Elements and it does in a very delicious way!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Coconut Rice

This is a busy time of year for me and I'm dealing with some profound personal issues with the death of my Mother and my Aunt. So, I need comfort food more than ever and Rice is one of those comfort foods. My friend Stephanie made me some Coconut Rice when I went to visit her in San Diego this summer and she taught me how to make it. I came home and forgot all about it until I really needed to make Rice and I wanted Rice with some flavor. Coconut Rice was exactly what I needed.

It's a simple recipe using Basmati Rice with equal parts full fat Coconut Milk and Water in a 2 to 1 ratio. I added a bit of Salt as I can't cook with out Salt and I have to say, it turned out wonderfully. I couldn't stop eating it and it soothed me. I think it would be wonderful with Curries - Indian or Thai.  So, here's the recipe with a big thank you to Stephanie!

Coconut Rice

2 cups Basmati Rice
2 cups full fat Coconut Milk
2 cups Water
1 teaspoon Salt

Wash the Basmati Rice in a small-holed Colander. Place in a heavy pot on the stove and add in the Coconut Milk, Water and Salt. Stir until combined. Bring the Rice to a boil, then cover and cook for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving,.

Five Element Analysis

White Rice is a Metallic Grain and Coconut Milk has properties of both Earth and Metal so this is the perfect dish to support grieving Lungs!  Besides, that it has the grounding and comfort of Earth foods so I will no doubt be making this often for a while.  

Monday, September 30, 2019

Gluten Free Cornish Pasties

I'm heading to England to teach and as always, I tend to make food from the country I am visiting before I get there. It's a pretty unconscious motivation and I don't realize that I am doing it until after I have cooked the dish. This time, I made Cornish Pasties, also known a Hand Pies, using the Gluten Free Pastry Dough from my new Cookbook - so you are getting a recipe preview. Of course, this filling is very different!

Cornish Pasties were first made as a lunch meal for miners, as they were easily portable and could be eaten with one hand. The filling was always quite simple, usually minced Lamb or Beef, small chunks of Potatoes, Carrots and often Rutabaga. I like to add in Celery too. The seasoning for the filling is light, usually just salt and pepper and sometimes a bit of Thyme or Worcestershire Sauce and I kept to the tradition, because I like to serve them with Steak Sauce which adds more flavor. The Pastry is usually made with Lard or Butter or these days, Vegetable Shortening. The  Xanthan Gum holds it together and lets you roll it out. Make the filling first and get it cold before trying to fill the Pasties. These also freeze well, but they will take a bit longer to cook. I am taking some with me on the plane as I am leaving now....

Gluten Free Cornish Pasties

Meat Filling

1/2 pound of ground Beef or Lamb
1/2 cup of diced Onion
1/2 cup diced Potato
1/2 cup of diced Carrot
1/2 cup of diced Celery or Rutabaga
1/2 teaspoon Salt
pinch of fresh ground Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups of Beef Broth
1 heaping Tablespoon of Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons Water

In a large saute pan, cook the Beef (or Lamb), Potato, Carrot and Celery pieces on medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the seasonings and the Beef Broth and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the harder vegetables are just getting a little soft. Then add in the Cornstarch slurry and stir until the mixture thickens. Cool completely before using as a filling.

Gluten Free Pastry Dough

1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum (if the Flour Blend does not include it)
½ cup cold Lard, Butter or Vegetable Shortening
2 teaspoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
1 large Egg for Dough + 1 additional Egg, lightly beaten for the Egg Wash
1/3 cup Ice Water

In a food processor (or large mixing bowl), mix together the Flour, Sugar and Salt.  Then add in Lard (or Shortening or Ghee). Pulse until it is incorporated (or use a pastry cutter or two forks). Then add in the Egg and Cold Water and mix until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill until cold (about 30 minutes). 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Then lightly dust a cutting board and rolling pin with a little extra flour. Roll out ½ of the dough at a time and cut 4 - inch circles with a cookie cutter.  Use a dough scraper to lift the circles of dough. Place one piece in the palm of your hand. Fill with 1 slightly rounded Tablespoon of filling and pinch to seal.  Place on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Repeat until all are filled. Use a little extra dough if needed to patch any tears in the pastry. Brush with Egg Wash. Bake for 20 - 25  minutes or until golden brown.  

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the Broth adds even more. If you use Lamb, you are adding the Fire Element. Carrots bring in more of the Earth Element, as do Rutabagas. The Celery contributes the Wood Element and the Onion makes sure that the Metal Element is present and the mostly Rice Flour Gluten Free Flour adds even more. The Egg in the dough  and the Egg Wash contributes the Water Element along with the Worcestershire Sauce. Only the Fire Element is missing, unless you use Lamb and then this snack is balanced. I used Beef so that's why I serve it with Steak Sauce and also a Salad on the side to make this snack into a balanced meal!

New Cookbook Coming Soon!

I wanted to let you know that my cookbook, Divine Chinese Cuisine, written with my son Stephen Lesefko, is almost ready for publication!  It has 100 Authentic Chinese Recipes with 70 Vegan Options!  And, all recipes are Free of Gluten, Dairy, Seafood, Nuts, Dye and MSG for all of you who have food sensitivities and allergies. I will let you know as soon as it is available for purchase!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Ukranian Style Cabbage Salad

My friend Wendy recently went to a Ukranian festival here in Seattle and told me about the wonderful Ukranian Coleslaw she had there that was full of Dill and other vegetables. I remembered for the first time in a long time that I used to make a simple version of this salad for my ex-husband. who has Ukranian heritage. It's a simple Cabbage Salad, but it is so full of flavor. I can't believe I haven't made it in so many years and now that I have remembered it, I will be making it often as I love the flavor of fresh Dill and I love Cabbage too.

Ukranian Style Cabbage Salad

4 cups Red Cabbage, shredded
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup fresh Dill, cut into small pieces + 1 Tablespoon extra for garnish
1/4 cup White Vinegar (I used White Balsamic)
1/4 cup Sunflower Oil
1 teaspoon Sugar

Place the Cabbage in a mixing bowl and add the Salt. Mix in with your hands and massage it in thoroughly. Let the Cabbage sit for 15 minutes.  

Then in a small mixing bowl, mix together the fresh Dill, Vinegar, Sunflower Oil and Sugar.  Stir to blend thoroughly and pour over the Cabbage. Let sit for another 15 minutes before serving or refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. It keeps overnight very well. Garnish with the remaining Dill before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element and this dish is primarily Earthy, but the Red Color of the Cabbage in this dish also brings in a little of the Fire Element too. The Vinegar contributes the Wood Element and the Dill adds in e Metal Element. The Oil, made from Sunflower Seeds adds some of the Water Element too. So this Salad has more intrinsic balance than is evident and makes a good side for meat dishes.  

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Almost Southern Collard Greens

I have a great fondness for Southern food as my Father was born in the South and I had an ex-husband from there too, I got to enjoy some really great Southern food on my travels to Tennessee and South Carolina. One of the things I liked best was Greens cooked with Ham Hock and the other night I made a variation that, while not completely authentic, was wonderful!  I had some Pancetta in the freezer from Trader Joe's, which is just a kind of Italian Ham and it is already cut up into a small dice. If I didn't have that, I would have used Country Ham or Bacon, but I was out of those. I sautéed the Pancetta with some Onions and Collard Greens. Then I added in some homemade Chicken Broth and let it cook for only about 1/2 the time so that the Greens had a bit more texture. A sprinkling of Pepper is all that it needed and I was happily eating Greens with some Cornbread on the side!

Almost Southern Collard Greens

1 bunch of Collard Greens
1 cup of Pancetta or Country Ham, diced
1/2 of a Yellow Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3/4 - 1 1/2 cups of Chicken Broth (depending on how long you cook the Greens)
fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

Pull the Collard Greens off the Stems and cut them into bite sized pieces. Wash, drain in a colander and reserve.

In a sauté pan with 3 inch sides, heat the Oil and add in the Onion, cooking until you smell the fragrance. Add in the Pancetta or Country Ham and the Collard Greens. Cook, stirring until they wilt. Add in the Chicken Broth (3/4 cup if cooking for 20 - 30 minutes and 1 1/2 cups if cooking for up to one hour). Cover and put on simmer and cook for either 20 minutes or one hour. Sprinkle with Black Pepper before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

Collard Greens are a leafy green Vegetable so you know that they have to belong to the Wood Element and the Chicken Broth adds even more. The Pancetta or Ham, as a salted meat brings in the Water Element and the Black Pepper adds just a hint of the Fire Element. This is a good side dish for a dinner that's missing both Wood and Water.

Reverse Seared Steak

I've been working really hard on finishing the cookbook and while I haven't forgotten to cook other things, I have forgotten to take photos!  To give you an update - our Cookbook Divine Chinese Cuisine - Book 1 is full of authentic Chinese recipes that are also Gluten, Lactose, Seafood, Nut, Dye and MSG Free!  I will give you another update when it is finally going to print and let you know as soon as it will be available online. 

In the meantime, I did cook something very interesting the other night that I thought I would share with you - Reverse Seared Steak. This is a technique where you first put the steak in the oven and then sear it in a very hot cast iron skillet to finish and it's amazing!  I've never been very good at making Steak and now I have to say that with this technique the Steak was so good!

I got the idea from the wonderful website, Serious Eats, but I did have to adapt it as I didn't have time to age the steaks in the fridge and I had 1 inch thick Steaks, not 2 inches. So, here's the technique for medium rare steaks. If you want them more done, cook them in the oven a bit longer - until the thermometer reads 130 - 135 for Medium Well. I think you will want to try this way of making Steak!

Reverse Seared Steak
adapted from Serious Eats

2 Rib Eye Steaks (at least one inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper
2 Tablespoons Salted Butter

Heat the oven to 275 degrees.  Place the Steaks on a baking sheet and sprinkle each side of each Steak evenly with Salt and Pepper.  

Place in the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the instant read thermometer reads 125 degrees.  

Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove until it is very hot.  Place the Steaks on the pan and sear on one side fro 45 seconds, turn them over and sear for another 45 seconds. Remove from the pan and place one Tablespoon of Butter on each Steak. 

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the bit of Butter adds in a hint of Metal. The way of cooking does bring in the Fire Element due to the high heat. But, to make a balanced meal, you will certainly want to add a Green Vegetable for the Wood Element, or perhaps also a Salad for the Fire Element or a Steak Sauce with some heat. And don't forget to bring in something for the Water Element and a little more of the Metal Element too - we had Blueberries with Whipped Cream.