Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Red Cooked Pork with Napa Cabbage

 









Red Cooking is a classic Chinese braising technique that really just means that you cook meat of tofu in Soy Sauce, or in this case, Tamari. It is a slow way of infusing food with the Umami flavor. I previously posted a version using Pork Belly that was my Mother's recipe, but I wanted a slightly more savory version and I decided to add in some Napa Cabbage and served it along with some Rice. I used boneless Pork Shoulder that I bought as Steaks and cut it up into smallish pieces and cut away most of the fat. This sauce also works for Chicken Things and Tofu although the cooking time will be much shorter (one hour for Chicken and 30 minutes for Tofu) and you will have a lot of extra sauce so use half as much for Tofu. I just put everything in the pot and cooked it a while. I thought it was the perfect meal for this cold Autumn evening and I loved smelling it cooking on the stove and it was delicious. It reminded me of my Mother's  in the best of ways.

Red Cooked Pork with Napa Cabbage

1-1/2 pound of Pork Shoulder, cut into cubes (or Chicken Things or Tofu)

4 cups Water

1/2 cup low sodium Tamari (used a little less if using regular Tamari or Soy Sauce)

1/2 cup Rice Wine

1/2 yellow Onion, chopped

4 - 5 Green Onions, white part only

a 1" chunk of Ginger, needed and cut in half

1 Tablespoon of Rock Sugar (or Light Brown Sugar)

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder

6 - 8 whole Napa Cabbage leaves, bottom trimmed off and cut into 1" pieces

In a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot, add in all ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for two hours for Pork or one hour for Chicken, or until the meat is tender. Add in the Napa Cabbage and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with steamed Rice. 

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and so does the Tamari. The Rice Wine contributes the Fire Element. The Napa Cabbage, since it is a leafy green, brings in the Wood Element and the Onions and Rice along with the Five Spice Powder make sure that the Metal Element is present too. There's only a little bit of the Earth Element, from the Sugar and Ginger, So serve a lovely Earthy dessert to create a balanced meal. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Dill Potato Salad










I've been having some fun with the unexpected substitutions that I've been finding in my grocery orders. And yesterday, I received a really big bunch of Dill, which was apparently a substitution for Parsley. Now I love Dill, but I certainly didn't need that much and I've been thinking about the different ways I could use it. Of course, I could make my Tuna Salad with Dill and I could also make an Herbed Tahini Dip. But, because I had Salmon for dinner, I decided to make a Dill Potato Salad. Dill is wonderful with Seafood of all kinds, but it's not usually something I add to my Potato Salad. But I did have a wonderful Dill Potato Salad at a Potluck a few summers ago. However, it contained Sour Cream and since I don't do dairy, I never tried to make it myself until today. I wanted to replicate that tangy flavor in a dairy free version. 

So, I used two kind of Mayonnaise combined that are a bit tangy - Sir Kensington and Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise. Both are very rich because they are made with Egg Yolks and both are delicious. But, if you don't have either one of those kinds of Mayonnaise, just use what you have but add a splash of Vinegar. I also added in some Dijon Mustard, a little Salt, a bit of Sugar, some Celery and Red Onion and of course Dill. I thought about using some Green Onion and I may try that next time. I added in some Dill Pickles for extra crunch.  I made it earlier in the day so that the flavors would meld and so it would be ready when the Salmon was cooked. I was so pleased with how it turned out and it was absolutely delicious! I think this is an especially good Potato Salad to accompany a Seafood Dinner and I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to add in chunks of the cooked Salmon so I can have it for lunch tomorrow.

Dill Potato Salad

6 small to medium Potatoes, washed (equals about 4 cups when peeled and cut up)

3 - 4 stalks of Celery (about 1-1/2 cups), cut into small pieces

1/2 cup minced Red Onion

1/4 cup (loosely packed) Dill, minced

1 cup of a tangy Mayonnaise (or add 1/2 teaspoon of Vinegar or Pickle Juice to your Mayo)

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1 teaspoon Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Optional:  1/2 cup chopped Dill Pickles

Place the Potatoes in a pot and cover with Water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Remove and cool slightly and then peel with a paring knife. Cut into small cubes and place in a mixing bowl. Add in the Celery, Onions, Dill and Pickles.

In another bowl, mix together the Mayonnaise, Mustard, Sugar and Salt. Stir to combine and then add to the Potato mixture Toss to coat the Potatoes thoroughly Place in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element, but the Celery brings in the Wood Element. The Red Onions and Mustard contribute the Metal Element and the Dill adds some more since it is a pungent herb, but it also considered part of the Wood Element since it is a green herb. The Pickles add even more Wood. So, this really is a good side dish to Seafood, which is from the Water Element and make sure that there is a dish that contains the Fire Element to with the meal too, like a lettuce salad or a red fruit dessert to create balance.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Gluten Free Peach Galette


 






While I have been cooking a lot lately, I haven't been feeling very creative so I've been making all my standbys, most of which have been previous posts. However, I recently made a lovely dessert that I thought I would share with you. I had two, big, beautiful Peaches that I had delivered in my grocery order and then I forgot to eat them. They were just a little on the too soft side for eating out of hand, but perfect for making a pie. But, I made a Galette instead. This is  and rustic. When you make one with a regular Pie Crust, it can be baked on a sheet pan. But, when you are working with Gluten Free Pie Dough, it helps to have a little support since you are missing the Gluten that makes the dough elastic. So, I cooked it in an 8 x 8 inch glass pan instead. I used only a little Sugar as I like my fruit to be sweet. You can use more and you can leave it out if you want to. Make sure you toss the Peach slices in some cornstarch or the filling will get too runny. And bake until the crust is golden brown and the Peaches and their juice are bubbling. Oh my, this dessert is good!  

Gluten Free Peach Galette

For Peach Filling:

 

2 large Peaches (equals about rounded cups peeled and slicced

2 Tablespoons or more Sugar

2 heaping Tablespoons Cornstarch

Optional:  pinch of Cinnamon and.or Nutmeg

 

Peel and slice the Peaches. Place in a large mixing bowl and mix in the Sugar, Cornstarch and Spices (if using). Pour into the prepared dough.

 

Gluten Free Pastry Dough

 

1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour Blend (with Xanthan Gum or add 2 teaspoons)

½ cup cold Butter, Lard or Vegetable Shortening

1 large Egg
2 teaspoons Sugar

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

1/3 cup Ice Water

 

In a food processor (or large mixing bowl), mix together the Flour, Sugar and Salt. Then add in Butter, Lard or Shortening. 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. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan. Then lightly dust a cutting board and rolling pin with a little extra gluten free flour. Roll out the dough into a large square of about 10 x 10 inches. Using a dough scraper, carefully pick up the dough and lay into the baking pan. Don’t worry if it cracks, you can fix it by pushing it together once it’s down in the pan. Push the dough into the corners and pour in the Peaches. Pull down the extra dough over the edges of the peaches.

 

Place in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or cool.  


Five Element Analysis


Peaches are a mostly fiery fruit with their beautiful pink and orange colors (which also makes them a bit Earthy) and because they look like hearts. The Sugar adds in more of the Earth Element. The Gluten Free Flour Blend I use is made mostly of Rice Flour, which belongs to the Metal Element and also some Tapioca Starch, which contributes more to the Earth Element.  The Egg adds some Water. But the Wood Element is not present, so this is a good dessert to serve after a meal that has foods from that element.  

 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Sauteed Cabbage with Southeast Asian Flavors


 








Cabbage is a very underrated vegetable and I think it should be appreciated much more. For me, it's a must have vegetable in my fridge and I use it in salads, soups and stir-fries. Besides being very nutritious, it's really delicious.  I think it gets a bad reputation from the time when people boiled it as the way of cooking it can definitely bring out a distinct sulfurous smell, as is the case with many of the Cruciferous vegetables. But cooked lightly and quickly, Cabbage is delightful! My usual favorite way to cook it is to sauté it quickly. I usually season it with a bit of Tamari, Rice Vinegar and Sugar to make a lightly Sweet and Sour Chinese version. But, last night I used Southeast Asian flavors instead and I loved it! I used some Fish Sauce, Tamari and a squeeze of Lime to finish it off. I also added some Green Onions and it was so good!  Now, I will admit that Fish Sauce has a fragrance that is a little off-putting when it hits a hot pan but it fades quickly. But, the wonderful Umami flavor is worth it. This dish is going to become part of my Cabbage repertoire from now on!

Sauteed Cabbage with Southeast Asian Flavors

1/2 head of Green Cabbage cut into about 1" pieces

4 - 5 Green Onions, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I use Safflower)

2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce

2 Tablespoon Tamari

pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Juice of one small or 1/2 of a large Lime

Heat the Oil in a wok or frying pan. Add in the Green Onions and Cabbage and stir until the Cabbage softens and the edges just start to brown.  Add in the Fish Sauce, Tamari and Pepper.  Stir to combine. Take off the heat and add the Lime Juice. 

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element as it has a sweet flavor when cooked, but because it also has some pungency, contributes a little Metal too. The Tamari and Fish Sauce, both being quite salty, add in the Water Element. The Lime Juice brings in just a hint of the Wood Element and the Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present. While this isn't intended to be a completely balanced dish, it does have some of all the Elements, but is especially good when added to a meal that needs more Earth. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk




In these strange times of lockdown, a lot of people are craving comfort foods from their childhood.  I recently decided to remake one of my old favorites - Jello with Milk. My family wasn't big on desserts and this is one of the few things that my Father made for us, so there are some happy memories associated with it. And, the other reason I made it is that I realized that my Father died 40 years ago on September 13th, so I made this new version in his honor. 

I've long avoided my formerly loved Red Jello because of my reaction to food coloring and as an adult, I definitely developed a lactose intolerance. So this new version uses natural Gelatin, from either Beef or Pork, or you can use Agar Agar for a vegan option. And, I made the Jelly with Mango Juice and substituted lightly sweetened Coconut Milk. You can make the Coconut Milk as sweet as you like and you can sweeten the juice if you like too. I used superfine Sugar as it dissolves easier and this can easily be made by pulsing regular sugar in a food processor for a bit. If you use regular sugar, you may want to heat the Coconut Milk to help the Sugar dissolve, but be sure to cool it before serving. This recipe can also be adapted using all different kinds of juice. I was going for the tropical flavors and I happened to have Mango Juice in my fridge.  I have to admit that I still absolutely love this dessert!  I miss my Father to this day, but I have so many good memories. Like Proust and his Madeleines, this is one of my good food memories, all grown up!

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk

2 cups Mango Juice

1 Tablespoon Gelatin (I used Pork Gelatin)

1 can of Coconut Milk

1 - 3 Tablespoons Sugar (superfine if possible)

Take 1/2 cup of Mango Juice and sprinkle in the Gelatin, whisking to combine. Let it bloom for 5 minutes and it will end up looking somewhat curdled. 

In the meantime, Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of Mango in a small pan and heat until just before it starts to boil. Pour in the bloomed Gelatin and stir to combine. Pour into a small square or rectangular pan, cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

When ready to serve, open the Coconut Milk (and Cream on top) and pour it into a bowl. Whisk in the Sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, tasting with each addition, and stir until it is dissolved. Or if using regular Sugar, heat until the Sugar is dissolved and then cool before serving. 

Unmold the Gelatin and cut into cubes. Pour Coconut Milk into 3 - 4 small bowls and add the Mango Cubes on top.

Five Element Analysis

Even though this dessert is not that sweet, it is very Earthy as tropical fruits, both the Mango and the Coconut belong to the Earth Element. However, there is a bit of the Metal Element in Coconuts as well as Coconut Milk is white and Gelatin involves cartilage, which is part of the Wood Element. If you use Agar Agar, you have added the Metal Element. This is clearly not a balanced dish by itself, but adds some Earth to whatever meal you serve it with. 


Monday, August 31, 2020

Tofu and Vegetable Scramble


 







I had some veggies and leftovers languishing in my fridge and needed to use them up. So, I made a Tofu Scramble and added them in. My good friend Deirdre often makes Tofu Scrambles for us when we travel to our classes and stay in an Airbnb.  So, I took one of her tricks, which is to use Turmeric to color the Tofu so that it looks so much more appetizing - it's also good for lowering inflammation. Besides the Tofu, I used a Leek, although you could easily use Onions or Shallots or Green Onions, and a half of a Red Pepper, along with some leftover Corn and a big handful of chopped Kale that was part of a vegetable delivery gift. I sautéed them all together and added a bit of Vegan Chicken Broth powder and some Tamari. It was delicious!  Not only did I clean out my fridge a bit (and throw in everything I could except the Kitchen Sink - as the saying goes), I made a wonderful dish just perfect for a healthy lunch, although it would be good for breakfast too!

Tofu and Vegetable Scramble 

1 package (14 ounces) Firm Tofu, drained and crumbled

1 Leek, green part cut off, cut in half, rinsed and then cut into small pieces (or 1/2 cup of chopped Onion or Shallots)

1/2 large Red Pepper, trimmed and cut into a small dice

1/2 cup of cooked (or frozen) Corn

2 cups chopped Kale or other Greens 

2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil (I used Sunflower)

1/2 Tablespoon of dried Turmeric

1/2 Tablespoon of Powdered (Vegan) Chicken Broth (I used Orrington Farms)

1 Tablespoon of Tamari or Soy Sauce

Fresh ground Black Pepper

In a wok or a large frying pan, heat the Oil and add in the Leek and Red Pepper. Cook until it just softens and add in the Tofu, Corn and Kale. Cook until the mixture is bubbling a lot, stirring often and the greens are wilted. Then add in the Seasonings and stir to combine. Taste and adjust, as necessary. Sprinkle with Pepper and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Tofu is part of the Metal Element and the Leeks add even more as do the spices in the Vegan Chicken Broth. Kale, as a dark green Vegetable contributes both the Water and Wood Elements and the Tamari brings in a little more Water. The Red Pepper and Black Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present and the Turmeric and the Corn add in the Earth Element. This, then, is a very balanced dish!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Roasted Ratatouille with Ventrache or Pancetta

 

I love making Ratatouille in the Summer when the Tomatoes are ripe. Today, I had my very first harvest of Plum Tomatoes and I was very excited. I was previously gifted with a lot of Zucchini and I almost always have an Eggplant in the fridge too, so it was time to make it! I think having ripe Tomatoes makes a huge difference as they are much sweeter.

Usually, Ratatouille requires the top sauce the vegetables separately before putting it together to cook in a sauce.  But this time I did something different! I decided to roast all the vegetables before putting them together. I used 3 different sheet pans - one small one for the Eggplant and another small one for the Tomatoes and one big one for the Zucchini, Red Onion and Red Pepper. I used Parchment to keep anything from sticking. Then I put them all in the oven after tossing them with Olive Oil and Salt and scooped whatever vegetable was done at 20, 30 and 40 minutes increments. When they were all done, I tossed them all together and added in some cooked Ventreche, which is the French version of Pancetta that I crisped in a frying pan while the vegetables were roasting. But you can leave it out if you are a Vegetarian. I like the extra saltiness and chewy texture it adds. This version of Ratatouille was so easy and so good that I'm going to make it this way from now on!


Roasted Ratatouille with Ventracche or Pancetta

1 medium Eggplant, ends cut off and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon Salt for the Eggplant
2 small or 1 medium Zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, stem cut off, seeds and membranes removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 large Red Onion, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes cut into a dice
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
Sprinkling of Black Pepper
1 cup of cubed Ventrache or Pancetta

Place the Eggplant into a bowl and salt it. Leave while you cut the other vegetables.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two 1/4 sheet pans and one 1/2 sheet pan with Parchment. Or use two 1/2 Sheet Pans but keep the Tomatoes and Eggplant separate
 
Rinse the Eggplant pieces and put the pieces onto one of the 1/4 sheet pans. Drizzle with 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and a little Salt and Pepper. 

Then put the Tomato on the other 1/4 sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil. Sprinkle with a little Salt and Pepper

Then put the Zucchini, Red Pepper and Onions on the 1/2 sheet pan separated a little and drizzle with the remaining Oil and sprinkle with the remaining Salt and a little Pepper.

Place all the sheet pans in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes before checking. 

In the meantime, cook the Ventrache or Pancetta in a small frying pan on the stove, rendering the fat and making it a little crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Remove the Onion pieces if the edges are starting to brown and place in a bowl. Cook the remaining vegetables for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Zucchini and place in the bowl. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Red Pepper and Tomato and put into the bowl. Cook for 5 more minutes and remove the Eggplant and add to the bowl. Add the Ventrache (or Pancetta) and toss to coat. Serve warm or cool.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant and Ventrache (or Pancetta) both belong to the Water Element. The Olive Oil contributes the Wood Element and the Tomatoes and Red Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present as well. The Zucchini brings in the Earth Element and the Onions round out the Elements by adding Metal. To me, this is the perfect light Summer meal and it's balanced too!