Sunday, March 27, 2016

Toasted Meringue




















I was asked to bring a dessert to an Easter party and I decided to make Pavlova (previous post). As most of you know, this is an especially popular dessert in New Zealand and Australia and I have had many excellent renditions. It's a combination of a Meringue base - basically just whipped egg whites and sugar that is baked - topped with Whipped Cream and fresh fruit. But yesterday, I decided to change things up a bit and toast the Meringue instead of keeping it the usual stark white color where it primarily just acts as the crunchy sweet base for the rest of the ingredients. My goal was to give it the flavor of perfectly toasted campfire Marshmallows along with some crunch and it worked. The color came through the whipped cream and contrasted beautifully and the flavor was fantastic!  I really wish I had made more marshmallows in the past that tasted like this, as usually they got a bit burnt - now I will make this Meringue instead. Anyway, I topped the Toasted Meringue with Whipped Cream, Strawberries and Kiwi Fruit and it was a big hit. Next time I make it, I am going to whip Coconut Cream instead to make it Lactose Free. For me, this is goodbye to white Meringues and from now on, toasted is definitely the way to go!

Toasted Meringue

4 Egg Whites
2/3 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Hot Water

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut an 9 inch square sheet of Parchment Paper and place on a baking tray. Combine the Egg Whites, Sugar, Vinegar and Hot Water in a large mixing bowl and mix with an Electric Mixer on high speed for 5 - 7 minutes, until soft peaks form.  

Spoon the Egg White Mixture onto the Parchment Paper to make an 8 inch circle. Place baking sheet in the center of the oven and fake for 45 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Then lower the heat to 250 degrees for an additional 15 minutes.  Turn off the oven and let sit for an additional 15 minutes with the door open. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.  Remove to a serving dish and carefully remove the parchment. The Meringue is now ready for topping. This can be made up to one day ahead if stored covered.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element and the sugar adds the Earth Element. The cream will contribute the Metal Element and the Strawberries will bring in the Fire Element. Only the Wood Element will be missing so do like the Kiwis do, and add green Kiwi fruit to create a balanced Five Element dessert!



Thursday, March 24, 2016

Five Element Edamame Salad




















I had several bags of Edamame in the freezer left over from Chinese New Year and I'm on a mission to use up all the food in there. So, I decided to make a salad and was determined to put in as many ingredients as I needed to create a Five Element balance in one dish. Luckily, Edamame is full of protein so nothing else was needed to fill me up.  What I did was cook and shell the Edamame and added Mu'Er (Dried Black Fungus), which I have previously talked about as being an amazing blood thinner, along with Red Pepper, Carrot Pieces, Green Onions and Mustard Greens. The dressing was a combination of Seasoned Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Oil, Garlic and Chinese Mustard. This salad was so delicious, very healthful and so beautiful too!

Five Element Edamame Salad

1 heaping cup shelled (and cooked) Edamame (can buy already shelled from Trader Joe's)
1 Red Pepper (or 2 Tomatoes), destemmed, deseeded and cut into a small dice
1 large Carrot, peeled, stem end removed and cut into a small dice
1 handful of Mustard Greens (or Kale), torn into bite size pieces
4 thin Spring Onions (or 2 green onions) cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Mu'er, rehydrated in boiling water for 10 minutes, cut into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Tamari
1 Tablespoon Safflower Oil
1 scant teaspoon Chinese Mustard (can also use Dijon)
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the Rice Wine Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Safflower Oil, Chinese Mustard, Garlic, Salt and Pepper. 

In a salad bowl, combine the Edamame, Red Pepper, Carrot, Mustard Greens, Spring Onion and Mu'er. Pour on the dressing and toss to coat. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes up to several hours before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Well as the recipe name tells you, all Five Elements are present in this salad. The Edamame brings in the Water Element and the Sesame Oil and Tamari add even more.  The Mustard Greens bring in the Wood Element and since they are also a bit pungent, they also contribute a little of the Metal Element too. The Metal Element is further supported but the Spring Onion, Garlic and Mustard.  The Fire Element is brought in by the Red Pepper  and the Carrots contribute the Earth Element making this a perfectly balanced Five Element salad!



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Portuguese Sausage, Potatoes and Collard Greens




















I bought the ingredients for Caldo Verde Soup but then suddenly didn't feel like soup. I know that's strange considering how much I love soup, but I was actually wanting a Stir Fry and so I cooked the Portuguese Sausage and Collard Greens that way, but I roasted the Potatoes before tossing it all together. It was so delicious!  I am quite sure you could use other kinds of Sausage, like Kielbasa and a different green vegetable too like Kale or Green Cabbage. But, I personally love sautéed Collard Greens as they have an inherent sweetness to them and perhaps that's because I have Southern roots on one side of my family. I was so happy with the way this dish turned out - hope you like it too!

Portuguese Sausage, Potatoes and Collard Greens

3/4 pound of Portuguese Sausage (about 3 cups sliced)
3 cups washed and sliced new Potatoes (I used Red Potatoes)
1 pound Collard Greens, washed and pulled off the stem, chopped into bite size pieces
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided (2 Tbsps for Potatoes, 1 Tbsp for Collard Greens)
1 large Garlic Clove Minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Pinch of Sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the Potatoes in a bowl and toss with the Olive Oil and Salt. Put the Potato slices onto the baking sheet and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. If you want to speed up this process, bake for 15 - 20 minutes and put under the broiler, watching carefully until they brown. 

When the potatoes are nearly done, heat the remaining oil and garlic in a large frying pan. Add in the Portuguese Sausage and sauté until browned. Then put in the Collard Greens, sprinkle them with Sugar and stir fry until they are wilted. Add the Potatoes to the Sausage and Collard Mixture and toss to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Salted Pork as in Portuguese Sausage belong to the Water Element, but the Paprika in the Sausage also adds a bit of Fire  The Collard Greens contribute the Wood Element and the Potatoes bring in the Earth Element. The Garlic adds in just a hint of the Metal Element. So, serve this meal with another dish that incorporates a Metal food like Cauliflower to create a Five Element balance.  


Monday, March 14, 2016

Marinated Chicken with Indian Spices


I love Indian flavors and this is one cuisine that I am cooking from on a regular basis. I think that Indian cuisine brings and blends spices like no other. Because I have only been exposed to Indian restaurants that have been Americanized or made more British, I am always seeking authentic Indian recipes. Recently, I was doing a decluttering of my entire house and started to go through old cookbooks. I gave away only a few, but in the course of evaluating them, I ran across my first Indian cookbook, which was Madhur Jaffrey's first cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking. My copy of it is almost falling apart and I have taped together the paper cover several times. One of the recipes that I have made many times over the years is her Marinated Chicken. Of course I had to adapt it to my tastes as  I simply can't handle very hot foods.  So, I changed her recipe so that it less spicy. This dish has never failed to please my guests or kids. The secret is in marinating the chicken for a long time. I use Chicken Thighs, although the original recipe calls for breasts, but I think the Thighs turn out a lot juicier. I also bake the Chicken instead of broiling it. I think the reason I like this recipe so much is that at that time I found this one, a favorite way of making chicken was to marinate it in Wishbone Italian Dressing. When I first made this, I thought it was so much more delicious than any chicken I had ever had! It's been a favorite recipe ever since. The marinade becomes almost like a crust on the chicken. It is so good that I encourage you to make it too. Thank you to Madhur Jaffrey!


Marinated Chicken with Indian Spices

6 Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin attached 
1 large Onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves of Garlic
1 chunk of Ginger, about 1 inch square, peeled
1 Serrano Chili, stem end removed, cut in half (and seeds removed if desired)
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Coriander
1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar (I used Trader Joe's White Balsamic)
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

Combine Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Chili, Cumin, Coriander, Vinegar, Salt, Pepper and Oil in a Cuisinart (or other food processor or blender - you can also use a stick blender). Blend into a smooth paste.  Place marinade in a large Ziploc bag and add in chicken. Seal and turn over several times to coat the chicken. Place plastic bag of chicken into a bowl and put in the refrigerator to marinate - turning at least half way through. Marinate for up to 24 hours and at least 2 to 3 hours.  


When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment and place chicken pieces on it.  Spoon the remaining marinade on top of each piece of chicken. Cook for 50 minutes. Then turn the heat to broil and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the top gets crispy and browned, being careful not to burn it. 


Five Element Analysis


Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the vinegar in this dish adds even more Wood.  The Serrano Chili contributes just a little bit of the Fire Element and the Cumin and Coriander along with the Garlic and Onion bring in the Fire Element. The Earth Element is missing as is the Water Element, so a Salad for the Fire and an Eggplant dish for the Water would be good side dishes and a sweet dessert would round out the Five Elements.



Friday, March 11, 2016

Roasted Daikon Radish and Carrots



I love roasting vegetables because it takes so little effort for so much flavor! And a funny thing happens with pungent Radishes when they get roasted - they turn a little bit sweet and  soft and they are absolutely delicious. So in order to keep things zesty, I made up a Seasoned Salt mixture with just a little kick of heat to season them with. This will make more Seasoned Salt than you need and you can save it to use on other vegetables. For this dish, I used a big Daikon Radish, but you can use several bunches of small Red Radishes too, cut in half. My son was so surprised by how tasty Roasted Radishes are and I think it might surprise you too!

Roasted Daikon Radish and Carrots

1 large Daikon Radish, peeled and quartered and cut into 1/2" wide pieces
2 large Carrots, peeled and sliced into rings (cut in half if too large)
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I used Safflower)
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
a pinch of Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder and Salt together in a small bowl.  Place Radishes and Carrots on a large baking dish. Drizzle on the oil and then sprinkle with the Spice Mixture and toss to coat. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes and take out and turn the Radishes and Carrots over with a spatula. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 15 - 20 minutes.


Five Element Analysis


Radishes belong to the Metal Element and is one of the few Metallic vegetables and the Garlic and Onion Powders add even more Metal. The Carrots contribute the Earth Element and the Paprika and Cayenne bring in the Fire Element. I served it with a Pork Roast to add the Water Element and some sautéed Greens for the Wood Element to make a balanced Five Element meal.




Thursday, March 10, 2016

Oxtail Soup


I saw a sale on Oxtails the other day at my local Viet Wah Supermarket and I just had to buy them. I can't remember the last time I made this soup and it is so good for your joints! I mentioned cooking oxtails  briefly in my Bone Broth post, but didn't give complete directions for how to use them. This is one of those foods that you are supposed to eat when you are feeling a bit creaky when you move. There is lots of what my Mom called "Gristle" which melts down when you cook it long enough and it is a classic remedy for healing tendons and rebuilding Cartilage, along with eating braised tendons, a recipe I will post on another day. Oxtail soup also builds blood and is supposed to give you more energy and keeps you warm too.

Oxtail Soup is really quite easy to make. The only thing is that those gristly bits take a bit of getting used to for people who don't like chewy, rubbery things in their soup. If that bothers you, just pull it away from the meat when you cut it up and add only the meat back in. I personally love that texture and I love knowing that my knees and hips will thank me for eating this delicious and nourishing soup!

Oxtail Soup

6 large Oxtails
Water to cover by 3 - 4  inches
1 Large or two Medium Onions, cut into 4 pieces
4 large Roma Tomatoes (use 6 if they are small)
3 Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 stalks of Celery, cut into chunks
2 large Russet Potatoes, cut into chunks
1 large Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon Salt

Put oxtails and onions in a large soup pot with the water. Bring to a boil and skim foam that comes up.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. Add in the Tomatoes and Bay Leaf cook for an additional 1 hour. Then take out the Oxtails and let cool. Mash the tomatoes with a fork and strain broth through a colander.  Return the broth to the pot and add in the Salt, the Carrots, Celery and Potato. Bring back to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pull all the meat, gristle and fat off the oxtail bone and chop it up. Remove fat and gristle if desired.  Return the meat to the pot to warm when the vegetables are cooked.  Stir to blend and serve with crusty bread.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always part of the Water Element so that element is covered. Beef belongs to the Earth Element as do the Carrots and Potatoes so this soup has plant of that element too. The Onions and Bay leaf contribute the Metal Element and the Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element. Only the Wood Element is missing so serving this with some crusty bread made of wheat would do the trick or with some green vegetables on the side. Your joints will thank you for eating this soup!



Monday, March 7, 2016

Gluten Free Seed Bread from Mary McCartney


I don't often post recipes from other people unless I have tinkered with them to make them suit my palate. But this bread recipe didn't need any tinkering (except that I added a little sugar to proof the yeast and mixed the yeast and water separately from the flours before adding). For those of you who want to make a good Gluten Free Bread - this one is really delicious! This recipe is from Mary McCartney, yes, Paul's daughter, and it uses Potato Starch, Buckwheat Flour and Corn Flour (not Cornstarch or Cornmeal). And it is a yeast bread. I thought that it made wonderful toast and those in this household who are not gluten free loved it too. Thank you Mary McCartney for this delicious bread recipe!

Gluten Free Seed Bread from Mary McCartney

2/3 cup Potato Starch (Potato Flour)
3/4 cup Buckwheat Flour
1 cup Corn Flour + more for dusting the pan - about 3 Tablespoons (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup Seeds - Sunflower, Pumpkin and Pine Nuts are good
1 package Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 2/3 cup Warm Water
1 teaspoon Salt
Butter for greasing the pan

Mix the Flours and Seeds in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together the yeast, water and sugar. When bubbling, mix thoroughly into the flour mixture. Cover with a clean dishcloth and put aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.  

Grease a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan and dust with extra Corn Flour.  When dough is ready, pour the mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Cover again with the dish cloth and let rest for another 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Pour 2 cups of boiling water into a roasting pan and place the loaf pan in it. Put the roasting pan in the oven and turn the heat down to 425 degrees.  Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn the loaf out of the pan onto a wooden board and allow to cool. Cut into slices with a sharp bread knife and freeze after one day and toast the bread as desired directly from the freezer.

Five Element Analysis

This is actually an Earthy bread because both the Potato Starch and Corn Flour belong to the Earth Element. The Buckwheat belongs to the Water Element as it starts as a seed and is dark colored - it is also really good for the intestinal part of digestion and is thought to be good for treating high blood pressure. The Seeds add even more of the Water Element. Yeast is considered Fiery in nature because it bubbles and rises. I served it with Chicken Salad made with Celery  and a big pot of tea to bring in the Wood and Fire Elements.