Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gluten Free Southern Sausage Balls


This is one of those recipes that you probably have to be from the South (of the US) to know about. It's a well known appetizer down there and I've always loved them. My goal was to make them Gluten Free. It's an appetizer that is a cross between a Meatball and a Biscuit. It is made from Pork Breakfast Sausage, a bit of Onion and Celery, some Cheese (I used Almond Cheese to make it Lactose Free) and a Gluten Free Flour Blend (I used Gluten Free BIsquick). It's held together by an Egg and then rolled into little balls and baked. Believe me, they are much more delicious than they sound. My son said they reminded him of Stuffing, which is a good thing!  If you aren't doing Lactose Free, you can use regular Cheddar Cheese and you may not need to use the egg to bind it all together. These chewy and savory Sausage Balls are really good!

Gluten Free Southern Sausage Balls

1 pound Breakfast Pork Sausage
2 cups Gluten Free Bisquick
1 1/2 cups grated Almond Cheese (or Soy Cheese or Cow's Milk Cheddar Cheese)
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced Onion
1/4 cup minced Celery
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
Pinch of Black Pepper and Cayenne Pepper (if desired)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix Pork Sausage, GF BIsquick, Cheese, Butter, Egg, Onion and Celery together with your hands. Then shape into walnut sized balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Five Element Analysis

Pork Sausage belongs to the Water Element as does the Egg so that Element is covered. The Almond Cheese brings in the Earth Element as does the Potato Starch in the Bisquick. It also contains Rice Flour that is from the Metal Element and the Onion brings in even more. The Celery adds just a little of the Wood Element and the Fire Element is represented by the small amount of the two Peppers. Clearly this is not a completely balanced Five Element dish, but it's close. So serve it with some other appetizers, dips or spreads that incorporate the Wood and Fire Elements to achieve balance.  


Monday, May 30, 2016

Cuban Pork with Mojo Marinade




I bought a small Pork Shoulder Roast the other day and decided to marinate it Cuban Style in a Mojo Marinade. This marinade is usually made with Sour Oranges, but I didn't have any so I improvised by using Orange, Lemon and Lime along with Garlic, Salt, Olive Oil and some Cumin and Oregano. I marinated the Pork in this delicious marinade for 2 days and finally roasted it tonight. It was so delicious, I almost swooned! Of course, I've eaten at Cuban restaurants many times and I'm familiar with these flavors, but tonight it just tasted like the perfect marriage of flavors. The pork was tender and moist and the flavor of the marinade permeated the whole roast. It also made a delicious pan sauce to serve over the sliced Pork. I'm quite sure that it would be good with Chicken Thighs as well.  

Cuban Pork with Mojo Marinade

Juice of 1 large Navel Orange
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lime
6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Salt
3 pound boneless Pork Shoulder Roast (can also use Chicken Thighs)
1/3 cup Olive Oil

Mix the marinade ingredients and place in a large closing plastic bag or put into a large container with a lid. Add the Pork and marinate for 4 - 8 hours or overnight up to 2 days.  Turn several times to let the flavors penetrate. When ready to roast, turn the oven to 450 degrees. Place the Pork on a roasting pan and discard marinade.  Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 degrees and cook for 90 minutes more. Let the Pork Roast rest for 15 minutes before slicing and pour pan juices over the slices before serving.

Note: If cooking Chicken Thighs, bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and is good for tired Kidneys. The Citrus fruit contributes the Wood Element along with the Olive Oil. The Garlic, Cumin and Oregano add the Metal Element.  The Earth and Fire Elements are missing, which is why this dish is usually served with Plantains,Yucca or even Chayote Squash, which are Earthy. I served the Corn Pudding (previous Post) as my Earth food and baked it with the Roast. I made a salad with Lettuce and Tomatoes from the Fire Element to make this a balanced Five Element Meal.



Sunday, May 29, 2016

Corn Pudding with Green Chiles and Red Pepper


Corn Pudding is a Southern thing and I have some Southern roots on my Father's Side, so today I decided to pull out an old recipe and remake it so that it could be Gluten Free and Lactose Free. For those of you who haven't had this dish, Corn Pudding is like a soft Cornbread. I like mine savory, not sweet, so I don't add any sugar. This is a fluffy and delicious side dish, perfect as an accompaniment to Roast Pork or Roast Chicken. The basic recipe is simple - Butter, Cornmeal, Milk (I used Soy Milk) and Eggs. If you can use regular Milk, use Whole Milk as it makes the Corn Pudding creamier. When I've made this before, I added Bacon and Scallions and I've given you that option as it is so good. But today, I went a bit Southwestern as I had a jar of Hatch Green Chiles that was calling me, so I added in some of those along with some Red Pepper and Red Onion. I used fresh Corn and I pureed some in the food processor and left the rest as whole kernels. All of these ingredients baked together create a magic dish! If you want it to be a bit more chewy, you could definitely add some cheese to it. But I loved it just the way it turned out - it's homey and comforting. I cooked it right alongside the Pork Roast. This is a side dish that I definitely need to make more often!  

Corn Pudding with Green Chiles and Red Pepper

1 cup fresh Corn, cut off the cob
3/4 cup Fine Yellow Cornmeal
3/4 cup Soy Milk + 1 - 2 Tablespoons extra (can also use Almond Milk)
1 Tablespoon melted Butter
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 cup chopped Red Onion (or use chopped Scallions)
1/4 cup chopped canned Green Chilis (or use chopped Bacon)
1/4 cup chopped Red Pepper
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Optional:  1/2 cup grated Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan. Take 1/2 cup of the Corn and puree in a food processor or with a stick blender in a bowl. In a large bowl, add the pureed Corn, the remaining whole Corn, the melted Butter, the Egg, the Soy Milk, the Cornmeal and the Baking Powder.  Then add the the Red Onion, Green Chili and Red Pepper, if using or the Bacon and Scallions, if using those instead. Stir to combine thoroughly and pour into the loaf pan.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

Five Element Analysis

This is a colorful dish so that should tell you that there are several Elements involved. The Cornmeal bring in the Earth Element. The Red Onions, Butter and Baking Powder contribute the Metal Element.  The Water Element is brought in by the Egg and Soy Milk (as it is made from Soybeans). The Red Pepper and Green Chiles make sure the Fire Element is present. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this at a meal where there are also green vegetables present to create a Five Element balance.



Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gluten Free Almond Cakes with Strawberries and Blueberries


I don't do very much baking these days, but sometimes I just crave something sweet and today was one of those days. So, I decided to make something with Almond Flour since I have a lot of it in the freezer. I decided to make little cakes stuffed with fresh Strawberries and Blueberries. I made these cakes a little less sweet than the original recipe from Sunset Magazine - I used 1/2 cup Sugar instead of the 2/3 cup they recommended. And I didn't use Grapes as they suggested. I also used Almond Extract instead of Vanilla.  This recipe is a simple one but oh so delicious!  It's just a bonus that's it's also Gluten Free.

Gluten Free Almond Cakes with Strawberries and Blueberries

1/2 cup unsalted Butter (use Ghee if trying to eliminate all Lactose) at room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 cup Almond Flour
1/4 cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used GF Bisquick)
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup of cut up fresh Strawberries
1/2 cup of Blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter 8 cups of a muffin tin.  In a large bowl, beat together the Butter and Sugar with a hand mixer. Add eggs and Almond Extract and beat until mixed.  Add Almond Flour and GF All Purpose Flour and salt and beat on low speed until thoroughly mixed.  Divide batter amongst the 8 muffin cups - fill about 2/3 full. Then add blueberries and strawberries, pushing the fruit down lightly into the batter. Bake until golden brown - about 20 minutes.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Five Element Analysis

This is a sweet dessert so of course it belongs to the Earth Element, but the Strawberries bring in the Fire Element and the Blueberries add the Water Element along with the Eggs. The Almond Flour contributes the Earth Element and the Butter makes sure that the Metal Element is also represented. Only the Wood Element is missing, so be sure to serve a Wood food or beverage with them or later, such as Orange Juice or Yogurt if you plan to have these for breakfast. 



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!

Rivels

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!