Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lactose Free Pumpkin Pie

I love to cook for the Holidays as then I know what ingredients are in everything I make.  As tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I am making a completely Gluten Free and Lactose Free Dinner. I decided to share this recipe for Lactose Free Pumpkin Pie with you even though most of you probably won't have time to make it. But, I think it is a good pie anytime. I use Soy Milk in place of Evaporated Milk or Half and Half or Cream. It has the right consistency. Don't substitute Almond Milk or Hemp Milk, as it just won't turn out right - I've tried. I also used a Gluten Free Pie Crust  and in the interest of time, I bought a frozen one from PCC - a NW Health Food Store.  For the Whipped Cream, I am going to use a can of Coconut Cream that I will whip up with a little Sugar. If you've avoided Pumpkin Pie because you are trying to avoid Lactose, this recipe is for you!  And for those who don't know that it's Lactose Free, they really won't be able to tell. Happy Thanksgiving!

Lactose Free Pumpkin Pie

1 15 oz can Pumpkin Puree
1 1/4 cups Soy Milk
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ginger
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Cloves
1 9" unbaked Pie Shell (Gluten Free if desired), thawed if frozen

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the Soy Milk with the Eggs and Spices.  Add in Pumpkin and stir until well combined. Pour into the Pie Shell and place in oven on a large cookie sheet. Cook for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  Cook for 45 minutes - one Hour more or until the center looks set and a knife inserted in the middle comes out with only a little pumpkin on it.  Remove and cool on a wire rack until cool.  Serve or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Five Element Analysis

This is a sweet dessert so you know that it is part of the Earth Element and Pumpkin is also an Earth Food.  The spices bring in Metal Element and the Soy Milk adds the Water Element.  The Wood and Fire Elements are missing but this pie usually comes after a meal of Turkey, which is part of the Wood Element and also other sides like Cranberries to create a balanced Thanksgiving Day feast!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving Spatchcocked Turkey with Gluten Free Gravy

I remember making my first Thanksgiving Turkey when I was a teenager and it felt like I got up in the middle of the night to start things. It was obviously a big turkey and my family wanted to celebrate with a late lunch.  That Turkey took 6 hours to roast   I was terrified and that it wouldn't turn out right and t remember basting and basting that thing. The good news was that it turned out well, especially considering we previously had dried out store bought cooked Turkeys, so there wasn't any real competition. Everybody was happy, but I've been looking for a faster way to make Turkey ever since!  

Last year, I decided to try Spatchcocking the Turkey and it was wonderful! The Turkey cooked in about half the time and because more of the skin was showing, it browned up crisp and really tasty all over - enough for everybody!  There were still plenty of juices to add to the gravy and because I cut out the backbone, I had Turkey Broth made by the time the bird was done.  

Spatchcocking is really easy.  You take a big pair of kitchen shears and cut out the backbone on both sides. Then save it to make Turkey Broth and then Gravy.  I did this on the large sheet pan. Then you turn the Turkey over and arrange the legs so that it looks like the knees are touching and you press down hard on the breast until you hear a crack. Then you rub Olive Oil or melted Butter all over and season it as you like. I prefer Lawry's Seasoned Salt mixed with a little Garlic Powder and I probably always will.  You can get as fancy as you like. You can put the Butter with Sage Leaves under the skin and you can use any other herb or seasoning combination that you like. You also cook it on fairly high heat so it takes as long as roasting a chicken.  

Spatchcoking works for me since I no longer stuff the Turkey. I make Gluten Free Cornbread Dressing (previous post) or Sausage and Gluten Free Bread and Sausage Stuffing (see Stuffed and Baked Delicata Squash but double the recipe). And, I no longer have to get up early to make the Turkey - it only takes about  1 1/2 hours!  I'm posting this before Thanksgiving to encourage you to try roasting a Turkey this way.  For those of you in the US, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Spatchcocked Turkey

1 12 pound fresh Turkey
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoons Lawry's Seasoned Salt (can also use just plain Salt or other Seasoning Mixture)
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

For Turkey Broth and Gravy:

Turkey Back and Neck (roasted or unfrosted)
3 cups Water
1/2 Yellow Onion
1 Carrot, Chopped
1 Celery Stalk, Chopped
Salt to Taste
1/4 Tablespoons Cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup Water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the Seasoned Salt and Garlic Powder.  Put the Turkey on a large Jelly Roll Pan.  Turn over and cut out the back bone down both sides with a strong pair of Kitchen Shears. Turn the Turkey over and press down on the breast bone until you hear a loud crack (you may have to press several times). Rub oil all over the Turkey and then sprinkle with the Seasoning Mixture.  Put into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.  Baste and reduce oven to 350 degrees. Cook for another 45 - 60 minutes more, basting one more time or until a Meat Thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the Thigh. Start checking after one hour of cooking. Let rest for 15 - 20 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, add Turkey Back and Neck to 3 cups of Water in a pot. Add 1/2 of a whole onion.  Add neck if desired as well although I usually roast it and then add it after for about 10 minutes at the end for a better flavor. Once the broth is done, strain and put back into the pot. Then, pour off the Turkey drippings from the pan making sure you scrape of the crusty bits and then strain the fat. Add drippings to the broth. Taste for salt level and add more if necessary.  Turn on heat and bring to a boil.  Add half of the Cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened. If it is not thick enough, add the rest of the Cornstarch Mixture and cook for a few minutes longer.

Five Element Analysis

Turkey is considered part of the Wood Element, like most fowl and none of the Seasoning add much of the other Elements. Luckily, Turkey is the main dish so be sure to add lots of side dishes, like Mashed Potatoes for the Earth Element to put the gravy on, cranberry sauce and/or a Green Salad that adds the Fire Element. Dressing with Pork Sausage or Oysters that contributes the Water Element and all the rest of the classic dishes that we serve here in the US to make a Five Element feast!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stew

I was in a bit of a hurry tonight to make dinner, mostly because my writing was going so well that I just didn't want to take much time to make food - most unusual for me actually.  I had some Chicken Drumsticks thawed out, so I threw them into my trusty Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker, adding some Onion, Garlic, Tomatoes and Bay Leaves and 30 minutes later, I had delicious Chicken Stew!  The soupy sauce that was created by cooking the chicken this way was so good that I wanted to drink it.  Luckily, I also managed to boil some potatoes in that time too, so I mashed them to sop all the delicious gravy. I think it would be good with noodles too. It was a super fast meal that I just loved.  If you have a pressure cooker, it's an amazing cooking tool and you need to try this dish soon!

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stew

1 package of Chicken Drumsticks - about 1 pound
3 Large Tomatoes or 6 Roma Tomatoes, stem end removed and chopped
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 large Bay Leaves (or Thyme, Rosemary, or Oregano)
1 teaspoon Salt
Sprinkling of Black Pepper

Place Chicken, Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic, Bay Leaves, Salt and Pepper into the Pressure Cooker. Toss with your hands to mix everything thoroughly. Seal the Pressure Cooker and heat on high until steam comes out. Turn down and cook for 25 minutes. Release steam and open. Serve with Potatoes or Cooked Noodles.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element so that element is covered. The Onion, Garlic and Bay Leaves contribute the Metal Element. The Tomatoes add the Fire Element. This method of cooking is very Watery as it keeps all the nutrients in the broth that forms and the Salt adds even more Water. So, only the Earth Element is missing, which is why this stew goes so well with Potatoes.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kelsey's Leftover Oatmeal Crackers

I have this very frugal part of me that comes out whenever I am confronted with leftovers. I simply can't stand to throw things away when I just know that with a little creativity, they can be repurposed. Sometimes I find that the new dish made out of the old ingredients is even better than the original dish and that was the case with these Oat Crackers. While I was in Germany visiting my son, my daughter-in-law made Oatmeal for breakfast and we had a lot left over since my son didn't want any.  So, I suggested that we try to make Oat Crackers out of them as an experiment. So, Kelsey pressed out the cold Oatmeal onto parchment paper, coated the top with a little butter (or oil) and then sprinkled on some salt and some herbs and they came out great! I just got sent the picture, so I thought I would share the recipe with you. Oat Crackers are quite common in the UK and there are several good brands. My son thinks they are particularly good with Blue Cheese. Keeping that in mind, Oat Crackers are designed to be a bit on the bland side to serve with spreads that are quite flavorful so the most important thing is that you make them super crunchy. That means taking the leftover oatmeal and spreading it really thin before baking them. All that's required for seasoning is a little Sea Salt or Seasoned Salt and whatever dried herbs you like - Thyme and Rosemary and Oregano are particularly good. You can also sprinkle on Sesame Seeds if you like. These are really simple crackers, but they are also really delicious and the perfect way to repurpose leftover breakfast oatmeal!

Leftover Oatmeal Crackers

2 cups leftover, precooked Oatmeal (preferably Steel Cut Oats - I used 1 cup with 4 cups boiling water and a pinch of salt - we ate half and used the rest for the crackers)
1 Tablespoon Butter (melted) or Olive Oil
1 teaspoon either Thyme or Rosemary Leaves or a combination
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt or Seasoned Salt
Optional:  1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds

Mix the Olive Oil into the Cold Oatmeal.  Then place a piece of parchment onto a baking sheet.  Place oatmeal onto the parchment and press down with your hands and spread until the oats are really thin.  Sprinkle with Sea Salt or Seasoned Salt and Sesame Seeds (if using them).  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes or until dried and crisp on the edges  and no longer sticky in the middle - this may take up to 15 minutes more - they will dry more when they cool off.  Let them cool and then break into cracker sized pieces to serve with cheese or dips.

Five Element Analysis

Oats belong to the Earth Element, but they are also good for the Kidneys because they retain so much water, which is then very good for the Digestive System. The Olive Oil contributes the Wood Element, the Thyme and Rosemary add the Metal Element and the Sea Salt and Sesame Seeds contribute more of the Water Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so these crackers would be particularly good with a Fire Dip like a Red Pepper Spread like Muhammara (previous post) or you could sprinkle on some Smoked Paprika or Cayenne Pepper to create a Five Element balance in the cracker itself.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Vietnamese Style Beef Stew

I have a love of Stew as it is one of those marvelous one pot meals that cooks on the stove for many hours and fills the house with the wonderful smell of something good to eat. I especially like stews when it is cold outside and we are having very stormy weather here in Seattle. Stews are one of those foods that is deeply warming and nourishing. And, because it cooks long and slow, it is considered almost predigested, which is so much easier for your Spleen and Stomach to handle.  So today I decided to make an Asian version of Beef Stew, much like the kind I sometimes order in one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants. I asked them what was in it and they kindly gave me the ingredients, but without the amounts so I had to guess. I ended up with a stew that I liked even better than theirs, but I'm not going to tell them that. The biggest difference is that my stew is not as sweet as I'm more into savory flavors, but it still has the deeply exotic flavor created by the combination of Star Anise, Cinnamon and Fish Sauce. In Vietnamese restaurants, they serve this stew with a freshly toasted baguette - I used a Gluten free version and also some Asian Pickles and it was one of the most satisfying meals I have had in a very long time. This stew is so delicious that it will become one of my standards from this point on!

Vietnamese Style Beef Stew

2 1/2 pounds Beef Chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 very large or 2 medium onions, chopped
1 Red Jalapeño, thinly sliced with seeds removed (can also use Green Jalapeño if you want it hotter)
2 whole Star Anise 
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 - 3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Tamari
3 cups Beef Broth
3 large Carrots, peeled and cut into 1' chunks
12 Button Mushrooms, washed and stems cut
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons Water

In a large heavy pot, heat the Oil and put in the Onions.  Cook for about 8 - 10 minutes or until they just start to brown on the edges. Add in the beef and cook until it just starts losing its' red color. Add in the Star Anise, the sliced Jalapeño, the Cinnamon Stick, the Fish Sauce, the Brown Sugar and the Beef Broth.  Bring to a boil and return heat to low. Cook covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Add the carrots and Mushrooms and cook for 15 minutes more.  Stir in Cornstarch Slurry and stir, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with a crusty Baguette.  

Five Element Analysis

Beef is part of the Earth Element and the Carrots, Brown Sugar and Mushrooms add even more. And, stewing is a very Earthy form of cooking.  However, the Onions, Star Anise and Cinnamon bring in the Metal Element and the Jalapeño, Red or Green contributes the Fire Element and the Fish Sauce and Tamari add in the Water Element. Therefore, only the Wood Element is missing, so serve this with a regular Baguette if you aren't going Gluten Free as wheat flour belongs to the Wood Element or serve with some green vegetables or some sour Asian Pickles like I did to create a Five Element balance.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Spicy Millet Salad

I was recently in Hamburg teaching and my friends bought me this wonderful salad. It was so delicious that it was one of the first things I made when I came home. It's nurturing in a way that reminds me of Couscous but the good news is that it is a gluten free grain. It's also easy to make if you are a Vegetarian - just change out the Chicken Broth for Vegetable Broth instead. Millet is a very ancient grain used all over the world and it is simply not used enough in the Western diet. It is full of B Vitamins and Calcium and is very nourishing for the digestive system. I love Millet and I just couldn't stop eating this salad - it is that good! Hope you like it too....

Spicy Millet Salad

1 cup Millet
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cups Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth
2 Roma Tomatoes, cored and minced
1/3 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 cup chopped Green Onion tops
2 Tablespoons minced Red Onion
1 - 2  Red Jalapeño or Red Fresno Chili, stem and seeds removed, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon Salt 
Black Pepper to taste

In a pot (with a lid), heat the Olive Oil and put in the Millet. Toast the Millet for a few minutes and then add in the Broth and Tomatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to sit for an additional 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.  Cool and then mix in Parsley, Green Onion tops, Red Onion and Red Chiles. Add the Salt and Pepper and mix thoroughly.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes or refrigerate to serve later. The flavors get better with some time.  

Five Element Analysis

Millet as a yellow grain belongs to the Earth Element. The Chicken Broth and Olive Oil bring in the Wood Element. The Fire Element is represented by the Red Chili and the Tomatoes. The Parsley, Green Onion tops and Red Onion contribute the Metal Element. Only the Water Element is missing, so this would be a great side dish to Fish.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Quince Poached with Honey and Lemon

I'm visiting my son and daughter-in-law in Germany and we had a fun day yesterday in Weisbaden shopping for specialty foods at the Karstad grocery store. One of the things I could not pass up was some fresh Quince.  Quince has a beautiful fragrant smell and while it is very hard when raw, it becomes soft and tender when cooked. It also goes from a pale yellow to a beautiful rosy color.  It is a magical fruit!

Today, I poached it in a mixture of honey and lemon instead of my usual sugar and cinnamon and I have to say that it was absolutely wonderful! Quince has other wonderful medicinal properties in Chinese Medicine. It relaxes the tendons and relieves all kinds of cramping - in the legs or elsewhere in the body and it relieves dampness. So here is another really healthy food and a delicious one too. I had it plain, but they had it with lightly sweetened whipped cream on top. It's also good on yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.  This is a simple way to add this wonderful and delicious fruit to your meals!

Quince Poached with Honey and Lemon

3 Quince, peeled, cored and cut into 1" chunks
2 cups Water
1/3 cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Honey
Juice of 1/2 large Lemon

Mix Water, Sugar, Honey and Lemon Juice together in a medium sized pot. Heat and cook until the Sugar is dissolved. Add in the Quince and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the Quince pieces can be pierced easily with a fork.  This can take from 1 - 2 hours.  Cool and serve as a dessert or as an addition to oatmeal or another warm breakfast cereal or yogurt. It can also be canned.  

Five Element Analysis

Quince is considered a Sour Fruit and is Greenish/Yellow when ripe so it is a Wood food and the lemon adds even more Wood. Sugar and Honey contribute the Earth Element so this then is a Wood and Earth food that will bring these elements to a meal missing them to create a Five Element balance.