Saturday, April 11, 2015

Quick Cucumber Kimchi




















I am obsessed with making various types of Kimchi and my latest experiment has been with Cucumbers. Usually Cucumber Kimchi involves slicing the sides of the Cucumber and stuffing in the seasonings, but I like my vegetables to be in bite sized pieces. And, it also takes longer to ferment that way. I didn't feel like waiting several days before I could eat it - I only lasted until the next morning to try this version and it was so good that I am going to go ahead and post it. I'm sure it will get more authentic as the days go by - if it lasts that long!  I have to admit though, I like how crunchy the cucumbers are this way and I didn't make it too spicy either. It basically is a salad until it ferments. Either way, this would make a lovely side dish to a Korean meal of Bulgogi or a Tofu Hotpot.  As with all Kimchi recipes, the only exotic thing is to buy Gochugaru, which is coarse Korean Red Pepper Powder. You can get it at an Asian Market and I've even found it on Amazon. Anyway, I will let you know how it turns out when it actually ferments a few days from now.  But in the meantime, try this, I think you'll like it too.

Quick Cucumber Kimchi

1 pound Persian Cucumbers cut into slices about 1/4" thick (can also use regular Cucumbers - peeled, cut in half and deseeded and then cut into slices)
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
3 Green Onions, stem removed and cut into small pieces
1 heaping Tablespoon Gochugaru - Korean Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Tamari
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon minced fresh Ginger
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

Put the Cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle them with the Salt. Let them sit for about 15 minutes.  Then add the Garlic, Green Onion, Korean Chili Powder, Tamari, Fish Sauce, Ginger and Sugar.  Toss to coat and place in a glass container.  Put in the refrigerator and let sit overnight (at least) before serving. Will keep for several weeks and ferment as time goes on.

Five Element Analysis

Cucumbers are an Earth food so that element is covered and the Napa Cabbage and ginger add even more and some of the Metal Element too. The Garlic and Onions contribute even more of the Metal Element.The Water Element is represented by the Fish Sauce and  Tamari and the Wood Element is seen in the fermentation process. The Korean Chili Powder contributes lots of the Fire Element so this dish becomes perfectly balanced!



Friday, April 10, 2015

Chinese Beef Noodle Soup




















Whenever I was feeling a little tired and weak when I was a child, my mother would make me Beef Noodle Soup. She would cook beef shanks for hours to make a rich, homemade stock flavored with garlic, ginger and green onions, soy sauce and rice wine. This soup was made to build my blood and I swear it did. My favorite thing about it was that she would add some Rock Sugar and then give us little bits.  Once the broth was done, she would chop up the long cooked beef, add in some noodles, Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms and serve it with a sprinkling of green onion and cilantro. It was divine!  

It's been a long time since I had it, so I decided to make it again, but this time I changed things a bit to accommodate my particular dietary restrictions. Instead of soy sauce, I used Tamari and instead of wheat noodles, I used Japanese Buckwheat noodles. But it still had that wonderful rich beef taste that comes from long simmering shanks and gave me instant energy once again. 

Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

2 pounds Beef Shank (with the bone in)
10 cups Water
3 teaspoons Salt
1 2" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
8  green onions, root end removed, bottom half left whole and top green part sliced and reserved
1 small onion, cut in half
4 - 6 Garlic Cloves
1 cup Rice Wine
1 cup Tamari (or Soy Sauce) + more later if desired
2 Tablespoons Sugar (or chunk of Chinese rock sugar)
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
4 - 5 bunches Baby Book Choy, Stem end removed and cut into bite size pieces
8 - 10 fresh Shitake Mushrooms, stem end removed and sliced or use dried, rehydrated in boiling water 
1 pound Noodles (Buckwheat Soba, Rice Noodles, Wheat Noodles) cooked ahead
1 - 2 Tablespoons Chili Bean Sauce, Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha

Place Beef Shanks in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and skim off the foam.  Then add the Salt, Sugar, Ginger, white part of Green Onions, Onion, Rice Wine and Tamari.  Bring to a boil again and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 3 hours or until the beef is soft.  

Remove the beef from the broth, cut it into small pieces and reserve. Take marrow out of the center of the bone and add to the meat. Strain the broth to remove all of the seasonings. Return beef back to the soup. Taste and add more Tamari if desired and Chili Bean Sauce or Chili Garlic Sauce. Bring back to a boil and add the Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms. Cook for  3 - 5 minutes.

Put cooked noodles into bowls and ladle soup in making sure there is some Beef, Bok Choy and Mushrooms in each bowl.  Sprinkle with Green Onion pieces and sprinkle and drizzle a small amount of Sesame Oil over each bowl of soup to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beef is an Earth food and this soup is very good for building blood. The Ginger adds both Earth and Metal. The Garlic, Onion and Green Onion all contribute even more of the Metal Element. The Tamari, Sesame Oil and Shitake Mushrooms and the fact that this is a broth soup make sure that the Water Element is present.  The Rice Wine and Chili Sauce make sure that the Fire Element is present too. Buckwheat Noodles (made for a seed) add more Water, Rice Noodles add more Metal and Wheat Noodles add more Wood.  But even without noodles, this soup is balanced in a Five Element way!



Thursday, April 9, 2015

Veal Stew with Turnips





















I had a desire to make Osso Bucco and went to my local butcher shop to buy some veal shanks, but they were all out. Apparently there was a big run on them for Easter. So, I decided to just buy veal stew meat instead and make a stew with the flavors of Osso Bucco.  Now, what’s missing is the bone and the marrow inside as Osso Bucco means hole in the bone and frankly it's a little bit fatty. So what’s present in this stew is leaner meat with all the same flavors that makes Osso Bucco so delicious. I started with a Mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions and then browned the meat slightly. Then, I added in some White Wine and Chicken Broth and only a small amount of Tomato Sauce. I cooked it for 1 ½ hours and then added in the cut up turnips and cooked it for another 1/2 hour and finished it with a little butter to smooth out the sauce. It was an amazing stew!  Light and delicately flavored, the turnips  have a special texture that complimented the veal perfectly. I loved this dish and will definitely make it again!

Veal Stew with Turnips

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 pounds Veal cut into cubes and patted dry with paper towels
2 stalks of Celery
2 Carrots
1 large Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1 cup White Wine
3 cups Chicken Broth (+ more if needed up to 2 cups)
½ cup Tomato Sauce
Sprig of Rosemary - several inches long or 1 heaping Tablespoon of Rosemary Leaves
6 large Turnips, peeled, stems removed and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Tablespoons Butter

In a large enameled iron pot, put in the olive oil and heat.  Add in the Veal and brown on one side and then the other. Remove from the pot and reserve.  Then add in the Celery, Carrots and Onion and cook until softened.  Pour in the White Wine and scrape the fond (the brown bits) off the bottom of the pot with a plastic spatula or wooden spoon. Then add in Chicken Broth and Tomato Sauce.  Return the Veal to the pot and add the Rosemary.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Check every half hour to stir and add more chicken broth if necessary (add one cup at a time). Cook for 90 minutes total. 

Add in cut up turnips. Cook for an additional 30 minutes. Stir in the butter. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley on top.

Five Element Analysis

Veal is an Earth meat with a bit of Metal added too. So the Earth Element is covered and the Carrots add even more. The Metal Element is represented by the Onion, Garlic and Rosemary and especially the Turnips. The Water Element is missing, but the Celery and Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element and the Fire Element is seen in the Tomato Sauce and Wine. So, to balance this meal out, be sure to add a Water Food on the side. I served a Lacinato Kale Salad with Seeds (previous post) to balance the meal.





Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Green Tahini Sauce and Dip
















I went to a lovely engagement party on Saturday night and I brought this dip and it was such a big hit that I thought I would share it with you.  It's very similar to the Tomato Tahini Dip that I previously posted, but the difference is that you load it up with fresh herbs that makes it a wonderful green color.  I put a little of each herb chopped up on top so people could see what was in it. I liked it best with Red Peppers and Carrots, but I also served it with celery sticks, Pita Bread and Rice Crackers.  I've been told by my friend Karine in Israel that it is fabulous on grilled fish. In that case, make it even thinner by adding more water. Several people, including me, found this dip to be addictive!

Green Tahini Sauce and Dip

1 cup Sesame Tahini
1/2 cup cold Water + up to 6 Tablespoons more
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 cup Parsley Leaves
1/2 cup Cilantro Leaves
1/2 cup cut up Chives
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt (depending on whether the Tahini is salted or not)
Optional:  Fresh Dill, Mint, Green Onion tops and/or Chervil

Put Tahini into the Cuisinart and add the 1/2 cup of water and blend. Then add in the Lemon Juice, Parsley, Cilantro and Chives along with Garlic Cloves and 1/2 teaspoon Salt.  Process until smooth. Check consistency and if necessary, add in more water, 2 Tablespoons at a time to achieve right texture. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Serve with cut up vegetables like celery, carrots and red pepper or toasted Pita Bread triangles or Pita Chips. If you want to go gluten-free, it goes really well with Rice Crackers too.

Five Element Analysis

Sesame Tahini belongs to the Water Element. The lemon juice contributes the Wood Element and the fresh herbs add some Wood and a lot of Metal. The Garlic adds even more of the Metal Element. Pita Bread brings in more Wood and Rice Crackers adds more Metal. Serving it with Red Peppers brings in the Fire Element and Carrots add the Earth Element making it a balanced snack!



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sauerkraut with Fresh Cabbage and Tomato




















I found a new butcher the other day who makes wonderful sausages and when I eat sausages, I need Sauerkraut to go with it! Sausages bring my German side out. I was out of apples, which is what I usually use as the sweetener, so instead I used fresh cabbage along with onion and some tomato sauce and it was delicious! There are more and more studies showing why Sauerkraut is good for you and luckily it tastes good too. I used a jar of raw Sauerkraut from Trader Joe's and I used Chicken Broth instead of wine or beer, as I'm out of those as well. This is a simple recipe the cooks up very fast. I think it is even better if you make it one day ahead as the flavor gets richer. It is wonderful with Sausages and is a beautiful color - I like food to be attractive. I liked this version so much that it may be my go-to way of making Sauerkraut from now on!


Sauerkraut with Fresh Cabbage and Tomato

2 cups fresh Sauerkraut, drained
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 head of Cabbage, stem removed, cut in half again and sliced into thin slices
1/4 cup Tomato Sauce
3/4 cup (or more if needed) Chicken Broth
Optional:  1/2 teaspoon Caraway Seeds

In a large, deep sauté pan, put in oil and heat. Put in onions and cook until softened.  Add in cabbage and cook until cabbage is soft.  Add Sauerkraut, Tomato Sauce, Caraway Seed (if using) and Chicken Broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 - 30 minutes. Check after 10 and 15 minutes to see if more chicken broth is needed. If necessary add by small amounts to keep the simmer going. 

Five Element Analysis

Sauerkraut as a sour fermented food belongs to the Wood Element and the Chicken Broth adds even more. The Tomato Sauce contributes the Fire Element and the Cabbage brings in the Earth Element.  The Onion adds the Metal Element. Only the Water Element is missing, but if you serve pork sausages of any kind, you have balanced the Five Elements in this meal. 




Sunday, April 5, 2015

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Harissa Tomato Sauce
















I'm still playing with all the wonderful foods I brought back from Israel. At the food market in Tel Aviv, I bought a big jar of Harissa as Martin likes hot food and I thought it would be fun to make a dish using it. I had some chicken thighs to cook and originally thought of rubbing them with the Harissa before roasting them. But, I'm not very good with hot foods, so I decided to tame the heat by adding some Tomato Paste and Chicken Broth based on a recipe from Epicurious that used this kind of sauce for Chickpeas, although I am avoiding them right now on my FODMAP diet. I thought this sauce worked perfectly with the chicken and it was delicious over Basmati Rice. Of course, I served extra Harissa on the side so Martin could jazz things up.  I was so pleased with how this turned out that I'm sharing it with you. It can easily be doubled, just brown the chicken in two batches. If you buy Harissa, make sure you taste it first to see how hot it is as the heat varies widely.  And if you like hot food, this dish can be made as spicy as you like!

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Harissa Tomato Sauce

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Chicken Thighs (with bone and skin)
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 - 2 Tablespoon Harissa
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 cup Chicken Broth

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In an ovenproof frying pan (cast iron is great), heat the olive oil and place the chicken thighs skin side down. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes or until skin is crispy and brown. Turn and cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.  Pour off all but 1 Tablespoon of drippings. Put in the onion and garlic and cook until the onion just begins to brown.  Add in Harissa, Tomato Paste and Chicken Broth.  Stir to combine.  Put chicken thighs back in with the skin side up.  Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.

Serve with Rice, Couscous or Potatoes.

Five Element Analysis

Harissa and Tomatoes both belong to the Fire Element so that element is well represented.  Chicken and Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element.  The Onion and Garlic bring in the Metal Element.  The Earth Element is missing, so it would be especially good with Potatoes. Or, it would go well with a Cucumber Salad as that would add in the Earth Element. The Water Element is missing too so be sure to add something from that element in the meal – like and Eggplant dish or a very dark leafy green like sautéed Lacinato Kale,  which adds a bit more Wood too. Chickpeas would also be good for more Water.





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Quinoa Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing and Pine Nuts




















I have a jar of Preserved Lemons that I wanted to use and decided to make a salad dressing. But I needed a heartier salad for lunch, so I decided to use Quinoa as it is full of protein, B Vitamins and minerals. The flavor of preserved lemons is wonderful - it reminds me of a savory marmalade and adds a kind of mysterious lemon flavor that simply can't be replicated. It's easy to find and although I brought back a bottle from my trip to Israel, you can even get it at Trader Joe's.  And my friends in California tell me it is even easier to make them but you do need a source of good lemons and lots of salt.  

I cooked Quinoa, which is a seed not a grain and therefore Gluten Free. I used a mixture of black, red and white Quinoa - and then added in chopped cucumber, tomatoes and pine nuts. The dressing was made of Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, minced Preserved Lemon, lightly cooked onion and garlic, cumin and cayenne. You could use the garlic and onion raw if you prefer, but I wanted the flavor to be a bit more mellow so that the Preserved Lemon wasn't overpowered. It was delicious! I could barely stop eating it long enough to refrigerate it, but did manage to save some and it tasted even better after the flavors melded.  I loved it and I'm now thinking of more ways to incorporate Preserved Lemons in my cooking.

Quinoa Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing and Pine Nuts

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Water
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Pine Nuts toasted
1 cup Cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into small chunks
1 cup cut up Cherry Tomatoes

Salad Dressing

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup Red Onion, chopped
1 large Garlic Clove minced
1/4 cup minced Preserved Lemon
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

In a small saucepan, heat Olive Oil and add in Quinoa. Cook until Quinoa gets hot then add in Water and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and turn down heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and then remove from the heat and let sit for an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumbers in a salad bowl.  Heat a small frying pan and put in Olive Oil. Then add in the onions and garlic. Cook until the onion just becomes soft. Then add in the Preserved Lemon.  Remove to a bowl and add in the Lemon Juice, Salt, Cumin and Cayenne Pepper.  Stir to mix.  Then add to the Cucumbers and Tomatoes and toss to mix. When Quinoa is cool, add in and stir thoroughly.  Sprinkle on the Pine Nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve

Five Element Analysis

Quinoa is a seed so it belongs to the Water Element and the salt in the Preserved Lemons adds a bit more, although they are part of the Wood Element too. The Lemon Juice and Olive Oil add even more of the Wood Element.  The Fire Element is represented by the Tomatoes and Cayenne Pepper. The Cumin, Garlic and Onion bring in the Metal Element. Only the Earth Element is missing so either serve a sweet dessert or pair it with a Main Dish that's Earthy - perhaps something made with Beef, which is an Earth meat to balance out the Elemental Makeup.