Thursday, May 26, 2016

Roasted Mushrooms

This is one of the recipes that I hesitate to post because it is so easy, but it's so good and it's been requested by my son, so I am giving it to you. Like many foods, roasting brings out a wonderful depth of flavor in Mushrooms that you just don't taste when you sauté them. I used Cremini Mushrooms (which are actually baby Portobellos) but you could certainly roast Portobello Mushrooms instead if you want to use them in a sandwich, but cutting them into smaller pieces helps them cook them faster. This recipe can also be used for Button, Oyster and/or fresh Shitake Mushrooms. Or you can use all the different kinds of Mushrooms at once, which is so delicious. If you want to roast the mushrooms as a topping for Bruschetta, cut the Mushrooms into thick slices and toss halfway through.  This recipe is easily doubled or tripled and I have brought this dish to parties heaped in a bowl and it has always been such a big hit!

Roasted Mushrooms

1 pound Cremini Mushrooms (or Button, Oyster or Shitake), cut in half if large
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 Tablespoon of Fresh Thyme Leaves + extra sprigs for serving
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and cut the stem end off each mushroom. Toss Mushrooms with Olive, Thyme Leaves, Salt and Pepper. Place on a large baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until brown and crispy.  Serve hot or cold and top with a few Thyme Sprigs when serving.

Five Element Analysis

This is an easy analysis as Mushrooms belong to the Earth Element so this is a very Earthy dish. The small amount of Olive Oil contributes just a bit of the Wood Element so serving this with bread might be a good idea to add more of that Element. The Thyme Leaves add just a hint of the Metal Element too.  Clearly this should be served with other foods, but the good news is that Mushrooms are considered very nutritious in Chinese Medicine and are considered a cleansing food that boosts the immune system and may even help prevent cancer - so I eat them a lot!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pennsylvania Dutch White Bean Soup

I've been sick for the first time in a long time and decided to make an old classic from my German grandmother - White Bean Soup. This is her Pennsylvania Dutch version and was one of my father's favorite soups. I took the picture before it was fully done as when you cook it longer, it turns into a creamy white and I wanted you to see what was in this delicious soup. I had a leftover hambone (a spiral sliced ham to be exact) in the freezer from Easter. It still had lots of ham on it so I put it directly into the pot still frozen, added water and the White Beans that had previously been soaking and cooked it up for two hours Then I took out the bone and added in lightly sautéed Carrots, Celery, Onion, Bay Leaf and Thyme and cooked it for another hour. Meanwhile, I cut all the ham off the bone that I could and then added it back in before serving.  It was so delicious!  The only thing I didn't do was to add Rivels - a Pennsylvania Dutch version of Spaetzle or little handmade noodles but I wanted to keep it Gluten Free. I added the recipe in case you want to add it as it does add another wonderful chewy texture to the soup. This is a warming, homey, nourishing and deeply delicious bowl of goodness!

Pennsylvania Dutch White Bean Soup

2 cups small White Beans, soaked in water overnight
8 cups diluted Chicken Broth (half canned broth and half water)
1 meaty Ham Bone (from a  Spiral Sliced Ham)
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 Large Bay Leaf
1 large Onion, minced
3 Carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of Celery, cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon Butter

Drain the beans and add to a large soup pot with the Chicken Broth and the Ham Bone. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer Cover and cook for 2 hours Remove the Hambone and put aside.  In a large frying pan, heat the butter and add in the Onions, Carrots and Celery.  Cook until the onion is translucent. Then add to the Bean Soup pot. Cook for an additional one hour. Remove the ham from the bone and chop. Add back to the soup to serve.

If adding Rivels, return the Bean Soup to a boil and crumble the Rivels into the Soup (recipe below). Cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes - no peeking!


1 cup Flour
1 Egg, well beaten
1/4 cup Milk
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Place flour in a mixing bowl and add in the Milk, Egg and Salt. Mi together with a fork until the mixture comes together in crumbles. Pick up the pieces of dough and drop into the soup in pieces as small as you can make them. 

Five Element Analysis

Beans belong to the Metal Element and this is a fairly broth based soup so it definitely comes from the Water Element. The Ham adds even more of the Water Element. The Celery and Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element and if you make the Rivels, the wheat flour adds even more Wood.  The Carrots bring in the Earth Element and the Onions, Bay Leaf and Thyme add the Metal Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so serving this soup with a Lettuce and Tomato salad would make it a completely balanced Five Element meal!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sara's Simple Arugula Salad

This was a recipe I found in Drafts that was supposed to be posted ages ago! My friend Sara came to visit me last November and made this amazing salad that I wanted to share with you. It's a simple salad, made in the old fashioned way with the dressing on the bottom that you toss into the other ingredients, but the combination was really delicious and I've even made it several times since. So, it's finally time to bring this one to light. The main ingredients are Arugula, Toasted Walnuts, Mushrooms, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Minced Garlic and Salt - that's it. But, it turns out to have a much bigger flavor profile and the different textures are wonderful. It came together so effortlessly so if you have these ingredients on hand, try this salad - I think you will love it too!

Sara's Simple Arugula Salad

3 cups Arugula, washed and dried in a Salad Spinner
1 cup Button Mushrooms, washed, dried, stem trimmed and cut into thin slices
1/2 cup Walnuts, toasted lightly in a frying pan
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large Salad Bowl, pour in the Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar and Salt and stir with a fork to combine. Put in Arugula, Mushrooms and using Salad Tongs, toss the Salad until the Arugula and Mushrooms are coated thoroughly. Sprinkle on the Walnuts and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Arugula as a leafy green is partly from the Wood Element, but because of it's bitter flavor also belongs to the Fire Element too. The Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar bring in even more of the Wood Element. The Walnuts contribute the Water Element and the Mushrooms bring in the Earth Element and the Metal Element can be found by the addition of the Garlic. This then, is a balanced little Salad!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Italian Chicken and Pasta Soup

I made a soup two weeks ago in Germany that I really liked, but I didn't get a chance to post it because I didn't have reliable internet at the hotel where I was staying afterwards. This soup is based on a Pasta dish that I once had at California Pizza Kitchen that consisted of Pasta of course, with a sauce of Olive Oil, Chicken Breasts, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Broccoli. They just happened to be ingredients that I had on hand at my friend's house although I didn't feel like pasta. Luckily, they also turned into a lovely soup! The base of the soup was Chicken Broth and I added in some Cherry Tomatoes too to make the broth and little heartier. I also put in more of the traditional soup vegetables - Celery, Carrot and Onions as well as some Garlic. I cooked the vegetables briefly in Olive Oil before adding them to the broth. My only other recommendation is that if you are not going to eat it all at once, it is a good idea to cook the Pasta (I used Gluten Free Rotini) separate from the soup and then add it to the soup when you decide to eat it, letting it warm up a bit if it's the next day, otherwise the Pasta gets a bit soft when left in. The soup was fresh and light and was especially good with a bit of chopped fresh Basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese.  

Italian Chicken and Pasta Soup

8 cups Chicken Broth (preferably homemade)
1 pound Chicken Breasts, cut into small chunks
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, minced
1 large Garlic Clove, minced
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 stalks of Celery, trimmed and cut into small pieces
2 cups Broccoli Florets
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes (packed in oil and drained), cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1/2 pound of Rotini pasta (Gluten Free made with Corn and Rice) cooked al Dente in boiling water and drained

Optional Topping:  Basil leaves, sliced thinly (Chiffonade) and grated Parmesan Cheese 

Heat Chicken Broth in a large soup pot until boiling and then turn down to a simmer. Add in the Sun Dried Tomatoes and Cherry Tomatoes. In a large frying pan, heat Olive Oil and add in the Onion, Garlic, Carrots, Celery and Broccoli. Cook until Onions are translucent and the other vegetables are softened.  Add into the Soup, turn the heat up higher to return to a boil and then lower heat again and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.  Then add in Chicken Broth and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add pasta to the individual bowls and spoon soup over.  Sprinkle with Basil and Parmesan if desired.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always considered part of the Water Element, but this soup is particularly Woody as the Chicken and Chicken Broth belong to the Wood Element as does the Olive Oil, Broccoli and Celery. The Sun Dried Tomatoes and Cherry Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element. The Carrots and Gluten Free Pasta, made of Corn, add in the Earth Element and the Garlic, Onions, Basil and Parmesan contribute the Metal Element as does the Rice flour in the Pasta. This then, is a very balanced Five Element soup!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hendrik's Baked Feta

This is another dish we served at the Party because it is one of Hendrik's favorite foods, but I forgot to take a good picture of it, so all I have is this little far-away shot of it. This amazing Appetizer Spread is a combination of Feta Cheese, cut up Cherry Tomatoes, a whole bunch of minced Scallions and Capers baked in the oven until it is melty and unctuous. Served on Crackers or grilled bread, it was a wonderful blend of classic Mediterranean flavors. I used authentic Greek Sheep's Milk Feta, which I can handle much better than the Cow's Milk Cheeses. The briny flavor of the Cheese and Capers blended beautifully with the tartness of the Tomatoes and the savory Scallions. Although we served this as an Appetizer, it is a recipe from his Mother, Ulla, that is intend to be used as a topping for baked Salmon and I think that adding chunks of Salmon to it would be amazing (after cooking it halfway). It's so easy to make and it was a big hit at the Party. You might want to consider making it at a party you host sometime soon too!

Hendrik's Baked Feta

3 packages Sheep's Milk Feta - about 24 ounces total, cut into small cubes
1 large bunch of Scallions (about 8) stem end removed, chopped into small pieces
2 cups of Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
1 small jar of Capers, drained (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large baking dish with high sides, mix together the Feta, Scallions, Cherry Tomatoes, Capers, Olive Oil and Pepper.  Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until Cheese and Tomatoes are soft and the top is lightly browned. If adding Salmon, cook for 25 minutes and then add in Salmon and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. If you like it browner after it is cooked through, heat the oven to broil and broil carefully for up to 5 minutes. Serve with Crackers or toasted Bread.

Optional: One pound of boneless, skinless Salmon, cut into chunks.  

Five Element Analysis

Feta Cheese belongs to the Metal Element and the Scallions add even more. The Cherry Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the Capers and Olive Oil make sure that the Wood Element is also represented. The Earth and Water Elements are missing, so I served it with Potato Crackers and had other Appetizers that brought in the Water Element to make a balanced Five Element Appetizer Spread.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kiesser's Chicken Liver Pate

I've been meaning to post this recipe for several weeks now - ever since I got the recipe from my Mother in Law. This is simply the best Chicken Liver Pate ever!  My friend Kelly says it is the only one she has ever been able to eat and enjoy because doesn't taste like liver. To her, it is reminiscent of Thanksgiving stuffing with giblets. I personally love Pate - preferably French, but this one is now my all time favor. This Pate is always a huge hit at family parties. I recently brought one to my class to serve at break and it was completely devoured in 15 minutes - it's that good!  It's one of those recipes that you have the urge to keep secret but I feel like this is one that I have to share.  

Kiesser’s Chicken Liver Pate

¾ lb of Chicken Livers
1 small Red Onion minced fine
3/4 cup Whipping Cream
3 Tablespoons of Oat Flour
1 Egg
4 ounces of Butter
1 tsp of Dried Thyme
1 tsp Dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1.4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper
3 - 4 large Bay Leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend the Liver with onion in the food processor to a coarse blend. Melt the butter in frying pan, put the Cream in and stir in the Chicken Livers and Onion mixture with the Oat Flour, Egg, Thyme, Basil, Salt and Pepper. Blend well.  

Put in 3 small aluminum trays or one Casserole dish. Garnish with Bay Leaves on top
Place trays or Casserole dish in a larger baking pan and fill the larger pan with Boiling Water bath halfway up.  Bake the small trays for about 45 minutes or the Casserole for about 60 minutes. Use a skewer to test doneness. The skewer will show moistness but not a sticky residue and that's how you know it is done. Cook for 5 minutes longer if necessary. Remove from oven and serve warm or refrigerate to serve later cold with Crackers or Bread.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken Livers belong to the Wood Element so this is primarily a Wood food. The Cream, Red Onion, Basil, Thyme and Bay Leaves add in the Metal Element. The Oat Flour makes sure that the Earth Element has a little representation and the Egg brings in the Water Element. Only the Fire Element is missing (except for the trace amount of Pepper), which can certainly be added with a good cup of Tea along with the Crackers and Bread that bring in even more of the Wood Element. So, serving this with another appetizer containing Tomatoes or Red Peppers would also be a good idea to create a balanced Five Element Appetizer Spread.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Marinated Mushrooms

Here's another dish that we served at Hendrik's party - Marinated Mushrooms. I love Marinated Mushrooms and I've been making them since I was a teenager. I used to marinate them raw, but for many years, I've been sautéing them first, which I think gives them a much richer flavor. This is one of the easiest appetizers, ever! All you do is take fresh Cremini Mushrooms and cook them with Garlic slices very briefly in some Olive Oil. Then you add a marinade of either Red Wine Vinegar or Lemon Juice along with some Thyme. This is an herb that I think was made to go with Mushrooms and I usually leave a few sprigs whole to garnish on the top. You let it sit for a few hours and you have a tasty and addictive appetizer!

Marinated Mushrooms

2 pounds Cremini Mushrooms, washed, cut stems off and then cut into quarters
2 large Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar (or fresh Lemon Juice)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme Leaves (plus a few extra sprigs)

 Sauté the Mushrooms and Garlic slices in Olive Oil for about 3 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl.  Add Red Wine Vinegar (or Lemon Juice), Salt and Thyme.  Stir well and cover for several hours in the refrigerator.  Place extra Thyme sprigs on top before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Mushrooms belong to the Earth Element. The Garlic and Thyme contribute the Metal Element.  The Red Wine Vinegar brings in the Wood Element.  The small amounts of Salt and Thyme bring in just a hint of the Water and Metal Elements and more Metal comes from the Garlic. The Wood Element is represented but the Olive Oil and Vinegar. But, the Fire Element is missing so adding dishes like Roasted Peppers or Tomato Bruschetta   would be good and another Watery food, like Eggplant Caponata like we did made it a balanced Appetizer spread just perfect for the party!