Monday, October 9, 2017

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I’ve been meaning to post more recipes for several weeks now, but life just got incredibly busy. I now have a backlog of recipes to start posting and today I will begin with the sweetest!

When I was a child, I rarely ate cake since I have a Chinese Mother and she didn’t like sweets. I remember her trying to bake cakes with recipes from her neighborhood friends but she never used frosting because she thought it was way too sweet.  I grew up thinking that cake was supposed to be served without frosting and my friend’s birthday cakes were strange with all that frosting on top.  That kind of frosting from a can made my teeth hurt!  That was before I had frosting made from scratch.  Whipped Cream frosting is still my favorite but a homemade Buttercream Frosting is really good too. 

Last month, it was my friend Kelly’s birthday and it occurred on the day of a class. So I made cupcakes for us all. I knew that her Mom used to make Yellow Cake with Chocolate frosting. I also know that her favorite kind of chocolate is Milk Chocolate so I made cupcakes from Gluten Free mix for Yellow Cake and surprised her with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  It was delicious. And to satisfy the Dark Chocolate lovers, I grated Dark Chocolate over the frosted Cupcakes. I like to lightly frost cupcakes so there was plenty left to spoon into a bowl for those frosting lovers who spread it on the bottom half of their cupcakes. This recipe was a winner with Kelly and me!

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

4 – 5 ounces high quality Milk Chocolate
2 sticks unsalted Butter (8 ounces) at room temperature
2 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
¼ cup heavy Whipping Cream
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Optional:  2 ounces Dark Chocolate grated or Chocolate Sprinkles

Place a heatproof bowl over a small pan of boiling water. Add in the Chocolate and stir with a spatula until melted.  Remove and set aside.

In a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, put in the softened Butter and Powdered Sugar. Mix until light and fluffy.  Then add in the melted Chocolate, Whipping Cream and Vanilla Extract.  Mix until thoroughly combined. Use immediately or refrigerate and bring back to room temperature to frost cupcakes.

Once frosted, use a microplane grater and grate the Dark Chocolate on top of the frosted cupcakes.

Five Element Analysis

This is a very sweet dessert topping so you know that it belongs to the Earth Element and the Powdered Sugar and Milk Chocolate are the Earthy ingredients although the Chocolate also contributes some Fire.  The Butter, Whipped Cream and Vanilla Extract all belong to the Metal Element.  The Gluten Free Cake mix is primarily made of Rice Flour, which is also Metallic.  So be sure to serve these cupcakes after a meal that is composed of some Water and Wood foods and some Fire foods too.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Riced Cauliflower Pilaf

I hesitate to call this dish Cauliflower Rice because I don't think it tastes anything like Rice, but it is a very delicious way to cook chopped up Cauliflower that looks like Rice.  And, since ricing is considered a process of making things into small pieces about the size of rice, Riced Cauliflower just seems like a more authentic name. In any case, I was at Trader Joe's this week and I saw a bag of Riced Cauliflower and had to buy it. I considered making a salad out of it (previous post) but I wanted to make a side dish for a roast, so I cooked it Pilaf style, which means that I sautéed it in butter along with Green Onion and shredded Carrots. Then I steamed it very quickly with some Chicken Broth. It cooked so fast that I was astonished - a total of 5 minutes of steaming and it was done! It was wonderful and also beautiful. I have to admit I like the convenience of buying the Cauliflower already cut up, but if you do it yourself, start with one big Cauliflower and chop it up by hand or in a food processor. It's a very tasty way of serving Cauliflower!

Riced Cauliflower

1 16oz bag of Riced Cauliflower - or about 4 cups chopped florets
4 Green Onions, chopped into small pieces
1 small Carrot, shredded
3 Tablespoons of Butter or Ghee
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
scant 1/2 teaspoon Salt if desired (I used low salt Chicken Broth so needed more)

Melt the Butter in a large frying pan (with a lid) on medium high.  Add in the Green Onions, Carrots and Cauliflower and stir until you can smell the Green Onion fragrance. Then add in the Chicken Broth and Salt. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or until the Cauliflower is barely soft.

Five Element Analysis

Cauliflower is one of the few Metal Vegetables and the Green Onions and Butter add even more so this is a very Metallic dish. The Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element and the Carrot contributes some Earth. So this would be good side to a meal that has Fire foods (like a salad) and perhaps a Water Element main like Fish to create a balanced Five Element meal.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Salisbury Steak

Remember TV Dinners? I used to have to eat them when my parents went out and we had a babysitter.  The only one I could stand was Salisbury Steak, usually served with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. For some reason, I really like gravy and it can clearly cover up a multitude of flaws in a dish. Then one day when I was a few years past needing a babysitter, I was reading a cookbook (I read them for fun then and now), and I discovered a recipe for Salisbury Steak that I just had to make. I remember it being so good that my Father asked me to make it again and I was so  proud of myself for making another dish that he liked!  I've made it many times after that but it's been such a long time since I made it. I was telling my son about it the other day, so we made it. He thought it was like the Hawaiian plate lunch Loco Moco, minus the Rice, the fried Egg and Macaroni Salad. Add those and it will be pretty authentic, as well as being Gluten Free! My son declared it delicious and this dish will now be back in the rotation after a very long break. It's definitely comfort food!

Salisbury Steak

1 pound Ground Beef
1 ½ teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (or use regular Salt and Garlic Powder)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Tamari or Soy Sauce
1 Egg
1/3 cup dry Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
1 large Onion, grated and divided 2/3 and 1/3
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Sweet (Sticky) Rice Flour, often called Mochi Flour
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 1/2 cups Beef Broth (you can use Water and Bouillon Cubes)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the Ground Beef, Seasoned Salt, Worcestershire and Tamari along with the Egg, Bread Crumbs and 1/3 cup of grated Onion with your hands until fully mixed.  Shape into 4 oval Salisbury Steak Patties.

Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat and add in the Oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Then place the Salisbury Steak patties on the pan and cook on one side until browned and turn over and cook until browned on the other side (they will still be very pink in the middle). Remove and place in a  8 or 9 inch square baking pan.

Turn down the heat to medium and add the Butter and put in the 2/3 cup of grated Onion. Cook until Onion gets soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes, being sure to scrape up all the browned bits. Then sprinkle on the Rice Flour and stir in - it will clump. Then add the Beef Broth smooth out the lumps and cook until the sauce has thickened and made a thin gravy.

Pour the Gravy over the Patties and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour. Serve with Potatoes, Noodles or Rice a Fried Egg and Macaroni Salad if you want it to become Loco Moco.

Five Element Analysis

This recipe is very Earthy as Beef and Beef Broth are both from the Earth Element and if you serve it with Potatoes, it gets even Earthier. The Worcestershire Sauce, Tamari and Egg contribute the Water Element.  The Onion, Rice Flour (or Rice if you serve it) and the Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (made mostly out of Rice Flour) and the Butter add the Metal Element.  The Fire Element is missing so it would be good to serve this dish with a Lettuce Salad with Tomatoes and also be sure to add some the Wood Element to the meal by also serving a green vegetable like Green Beans or Broccoli too to create a Five Element balance!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gluten Free Shortbread with Strawbery Curd

Since going totally Gluten Free, there are a few things that I really miss and one of them is a good Shortbread Cookie. I know you can buy Gluten Free Shortbread at the store, but nothing beats homemade. And, I don't know why I haven't made it before. It's one of those cookies that's not trow sweet, but oh so good with a cup of tea and when you add Lemon Curd or Raspberry Curd on top, it becomes divine!  I finally made some yesterday and it turned out so good that I had to share it with you.

I simply adapted a recipe I had for Shortbread that was for Wheat Flour and exchanged it for Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 for 1 Baking Flour. I used Powdered Sugar because I think it gives the Shortbread a lighter texture than using regular Sugar. The Shortbread came out with just enough chew to keep from being crumbly and the Strawberry Curd was so good! When I've made Curd before it was usually Raspberry, so this was a nice change and Strawberries worked so much better than I expected!  Please note that I don't strain the fruit as I like the texture of the whole fruit better although it doesn't come out as smooth as the store bought version. I like to serve the Shortbread with a dollop of Curd on top, although you could make it prettier by spreading it all over. I think this is a perfect cookie for afternoon tea!

Gluten Free Shortbread

14 ounces unsalted Butter, softened
1 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
3 cups Gluten Free Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill GF 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and grease the bottom of an 8x8 inch square pan with Butter.

Cream the Butter and Sugar together until fluffy.  Mix in the Flour and Baking Powder and mix – the dough will be crumbly.

Pour into the pan and pat into place. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the top is very lightly golden brown.  Cool and cut into squares. 

Strawberry Curd

8 ounces of Strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon of Water
2 ½ Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Salted Butter, cut into small pieces
1 Large Egg, beaten

Mash Strawberries in a bowl and add water. Then pour into a small frying pan. Heat until boiling and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes and then add the Butter. Cook until the Butter melts. Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the Egg.  Add ¼ cup of the Strawberry mixture to the Egg and stir thoroughly.  Then add the rest of the Strawberry Puree to the Egg. Then pour into a heat-proof bowl that fits on top of a saucepan.

Fill the Saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer. Place the bowl on top and stir frequently for 10 – 12 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Be careful not to let it curdle. 

Five Element Analysis

As a dessert, there is plenty of Sugar that makes this Shortbread with Strawberry Curd an Earth food. The Gluten Free Flour is primarily made of Rice that brings in the Metal Element along with the Butter. The Fire Element is well represented but the Strawberries and the Water Element is a little deficient as only the Egg is a Water food. And, the Wood Element is missing. So, be sure to serve this after a meal where there is plenty of Water and Wood foods.  

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Deviled Baked Beans

I grew up with a Father that loved the foods from his childhood - mostly Pennsylvania Dutch foods and a Mother who didn't want to cook them - she only cooked Chinese food and she was very good at it. As I was a Daddy's girl, I learned fairly early those foods to make him happy. One of the earliest ones I learned was Deviled Baked Beans. He actually taught me how to make it but there was one important difference from the kind he grew up with. My Grandmother would make Baked Beans from scratch, using dried Navy Beans or Lima Beans that would first soak and then later be cooked for hours and then put into a sweet and sour sauce that included molasses and then baked. 

So this became the compromise and has that lovely sweet and sour taste that the Pennsylvania Dutch love. I think my father found this recipe in the Los Angeles Times Cooking Section, but I really don't know where it came from exactly and it was a very long time ago. For some reason, I also memorized it!  I still cook these Baked Beans in my father's favorite Corning Ware baking dish and it makes me nostalgic every time I make it as it reminds me of him.  He loved this dish and so do I.  It's such an easy recipe and so tasty!  It is a great side dish for a barbecue and according to several of my English friends, it's quite good leftover and put on toast as they have done that when they've stayed over but that's something I haven't tried yet!

Deviled Baked Beans

2 slices thick sliced Bacon or 4 - 5 thin slices
1 16 oz can Baked Beans (I used Bush's)
1/4 cup minced Onion
1/4 cup minced Green Pepper
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook in a frying pan until the fat is rendered and the bacon pieces are crispy. Remove the bacon pieces from the fat and reserve. Add int he Onions and Green Pepper and cook until the Onions are soft.  Pour in the can of Baked Beans and then add int he Ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce and Yellow Mustard. Bring to a boil and then pour into a baking dish. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges look a little dried out. Sprinkle with the Bacon Crumbles and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beans belong to the Water Element and so does the Bacon and the Worcestershire Sauce, so this is a very Watery dish!  The Green Pepper contributes a bit of the Fire Element and the Ketchup adds even more. There's quite a bit of Brown Sugar in the canned Baked Beans so that brings in the Earth Element. And, finally the Metal Element is represented by the Onion and Mustard. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this dish alongside some green vegetables or BBQ chicken or both to create a Five Element balance.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugared Pecans

Here's the other birthday cake that I made for my friend Sabine's birthday and it is made with wheat flour, although I have made it with gluten free flour too. It's such a delicious dense Banana Cake and is exceptionally good with Cream Cheese Frosting. I made it for my friend Sabine's daughter Momo did the beautiful decorating with sliced Bananas and Sugared Pecans. It's one of my younger son's favorite cakes and if you like Banana Bread, you need to try this recipe. The original recipe is from Dorie Greenspan and it was double the amount and she made it as a Bundt Cake. I don't have a Bund't pan anymore and I wanted to make less so I used a Springform Pan instead. This is one of those cakes that is better if you make it the day before and then frost it right before eating. And if you top it with the Cream Cheese frosting, be sure to refrigerate the leftovers. It was a big hit!  It turns out nicely when made in a square cake pan too and I personally like it best as cupcakes although Momo made it look so beautiful that this may the way I make it from now on!

Banana Cake or Cupcakes
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 ½  cups all-purpose flour (you can also use a gluten free flour blend)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, preferably at room temperature
2- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or cup sour cream (or a combination of the two)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F Generously butter a Springform Pan or line a cupcake tin.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

Beat the butter until creamy in a stand mixer or use a hand mixer. Add the sugar and beat at medium until pale and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. Finally, mix in the dry ingredients and the sour cream. Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before taking off the sides of the Springform pan. 

MUFFIN OPTION: Bake 28-32 minutes.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate with sliced bananas and sugared Pecans if desired.  

Cream Cheese Frosting 

8 ounces of Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

When ready to frost, mix the Cream Cheese, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Extract thoroughly.  Spread the frosting on the cooled cake with a spatula in a thin layer. 

Sugared Pecans 

1 cup Pecans broken into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Butter 
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt

Melt the Butter in a small frying pan and add the Brown Sugar. Stir to mix thoroughly and add in the Pecans and Salt. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the Pecans onto a plate or on Parchment Paper to cool.

Five Element Analysis

Bananas as a tropical fruit belong to the Earth Element and as this is a pretty sweet dessert, it is definitely an Earth food! The Flour contributes the Wood Element, The Cinnamon adds just the tiniest hint of Fire. The Sour Cream, Cream Cheese and Butter add in the Metal Element and the Pecans and Egg make sure that the Water Element is present too. If you serve this Banana Cake with a cup of Tea or Coffee for more of the Fire Element, you will have a balanced dessert!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Raspberry Whipped Cream Frosting

I am helping to celebrate my friend's birthday and decided to make some Devil's Food Cupcakes (Gluten Free of course). I'm not big on regular frosting, but I do love Whipped Cream frosting and I decided to add some dehydrated fruit since I read about the technique on Serious Eats. I used dehydrated raspberries from Trader Joe's and since I was at my friend's house, I didn't have a food processor so I smashed them inside the bag with a rolling pin. Then I added them to heavy whipping cream along with sugar (I added a bit more than the recipe originally called for) and whipped it up in a stand mixer. Oh my, it was so delicious!  And on top of Devil's Food Cupcakes, it was divine!  The dehydrated fruit acts as a natural thickener and makes it a much better texture for frosting. Plus it keeps in the refrigerator well. However, I can guarantee that it won't last long!  This recipe is absolutely a keeper and I am going to make it again very soon and want to try it with all the other dehydrated fruits too!

Raspberry Whipped Cream Frosting
adapted from Serious Eats

1/2 cup pulverized Dehydrated Fruit (about 1/2 ounces - I used Raspberries)
16 ounces heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 cup Sugar

Lightly smash the Dehydrated fruit in the bag using a rolling pin or put into a mortar and pestle and crush gently.  When powdered, add to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and add in the whipping cream and sugar. Mix until lightly whipped.  Serve as a frosting.

Five Element Analysis

Whipping Cream like most white dairy foods belongs to the Metal Element. Raspberries are one of the Fire foods and being dried makes them even more Fiery. The Sugar adds in a touch of the Earth Element. I would never expect a frosting to be a balanced food, but this one goes well with a cake made with Eggs that add the Water Element and wheat flour that adds the Wood Element - then you would have a blanched dessert!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Summer Sesame Noodles with Chicken

Summer is salad season and every day I think of a new and different salad. I got inspired to make Sesame Noodles as to me, it's a quintessential dish for a hot day. If you make it ahead and chill it in the refrigerator, it becomes a refreshing lunch full of flavor and different textures. I make it with Gluten Free Spaghetti (Schar Bonte D'Italia) and I'm pleased to say that it turned out perfectly. But if you chill it too long, you need to warm it up a bit or the noodles get a little stiff. Sesame Noodles are so delicious. I've made a similar recipe on this blog before using Peanut Butter but I really like Sesame version better. In fact, I use Tahini rather than an Asian brand because I like how creamy it is. Tahini needs a bit more seasoning and you can make it as spicy as you like by adding more Chili flakes but I like it mild. I like my salads to be my main dish so I add Chicken, but it is just as good without.  I loved this salad so much that I will definitely be making it again soon!

Summer Sesame Noodles with Chicken

1 Chicken Breast half, poached or roasted (Rotisserie Chicken leftovers work well) 
1 package Spaghetti Noodles (I used Schar Bonte D'Italia brand)
1/2 cup Tahini
4 Tablespoons Hot Water
1/4 cup Tamari or Soy Sauce 
1 Tablespoon toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon neutral tasting Vegetable Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt (omit if using Soy Sauce)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons or more Chili Garlic Sauce, Chili Oil or Chili Flakes
3 large Garlic Cloves minced
1 large Carrot, trimmed, peeled and cut into julienne pieces
1 Cucumber, 
3 Tablespoons minced Scallion
Optional:  2 Tablespoons toasted Sesame Seeds

Shred the chicken and put aside. Then cook the Spaghetti according to package directions in boiling salted water, drain. While Pasta is cooking, mix the sauce. In the serving bowl, combine the Tahini with the Hot Water and stir until thinned out and blended. Add in the Tamari, Salt, Sugar, Vinegar, Garlic and Chili Sauce. Mix to blend. Toss with cooked, drained Spaghetti and the Carrot and Cucumber.  Sprinkle with the Scallion pieces and the Sesame Seeds. Cool in the refrigerator for about 15 - 30 minutes.

Five Element Analysis

Tahini, which is made from Sesame Seeds is part of the Water Element and the Tamari adds even more.The Vinegar and Chicken contribute the Wood Element. The Chili Garlic Sauce brings in a bit of Fireand the Carrot and Cucumber make sure that the Earth Element is represented. Finally, the Scallion and Garlic bring add the Metal Element. All elements are present but the Fire Element needs a bit of support so serve this Sesame Noodle Salad with Tea to create a Five Element balance.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thai Pork and Tomato Dip - Nam Prik Ong

I am a snacker and I like my snacks to be savory and often, I like them to include some protein. And the other day, I was in the mood for something new and different. I decided to make something I once tried in Thailand and loved - Nam Prik Ong or Thai Pork and Tomato Dip. I had it at a little restaurant in Bangkok and it was served with Cabbage and fried Pork Skins, usually called Chicarrones in the US or Pork Rinds You can buy them in most grocery stores and is the authentic accompaniment to this dish. In Thailand, this dip is very hot and so I had to eat it with Cabbage leaves to cool down the heat!  Making it myself, I could make it milder and it turned out so well that I am sharing it with you. It's so good - wonderfully exotic and delicious!  So, I am going to serve it at a dinner party soon.

Thai Pork and Tomato Dip - Nam Prik Ong

2 - 4 dried Thai Bird’s Eye Chiles (or 2 fresh Red Jalapeños, trimmed and deseeded)
3 large Garlic Cloves, chopped
3 medium Shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon Fish Sauce
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
4 ounces minced or ground Pork
3/4 cup chopped Cherry Tomatoes
Juice of 1/2 of a Lime 
Optional: Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons Cilantro leaves

Soak Chiles in a small amount of boiling water for 20 minutes.  Remove from water, cut off stem end and cut open, scraping out the seeds. Put into a mortar and add in the Garlic, Shallots, Fish Sauce and Salt.  Pound the mixture with the Pestle until a paste forms or place in a food processor and make into a paste, scraping down the sides frequently.

Heat the Oil in a frying pan and add the Chili Paste. Cook for a few minutes or until you can smell the fragrance.  Add in the Pork and cook until it is no longer pink.  Add in the Tomatoes and cook until the Tomato has broken down to become part of the sauce. 

Pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle with Cilantro to serve with Cabbage Slices, Chiccarones and/or Rice Crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and the Fish Sauce adds a bit more. The Lime Juice contributes the Wood Elmenent and the Thai Chiles and Cherry Tomatoes make sure that the Fire Element is present and the Metal Element is represented but the Garlic and Shallot. The Cabbage brings in the much needed Earth Element to create a balanced Snack!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes are a delicious summer treat that is crispy, tart and juicy! It's very popular in the Southern part of the US and is a pretty well known dish to anyone who grows Tomatoes.  I usually make this at the end of summer when the Tomato plants that I grow are struggling to ripen the last of the Tomatoes on the vine. But, this year I didn't plant any Tomatoes as I've moved to a new place and haven't figured out where to put a little garden yet. But, I was at the Farmer's Market and I saw some big, beautiful Green Tomatoes and just had to make some!

This is a simple recipe that just happens to be Gluten Free. You cut the Green Tomatoes into slices, dip them in beaten Egg and then in a seasoned Cornmeal. I like to add Paul Prudhomme's Vegetable Magic, but you can get creative and add any Seasoned Salt or make your own combination, but be sure you add in some Paprika for color. You pan fry the slices in oil and that's it!  I like to serve them drizzled with homemade Ranch Dressing (previous post) but this should be done just before serving so they don't get soggy. Fried Green Tomatoes is a dish that's worth making anytime you have some Green Tomatoes available!

Fried Green Tomatoes

3 Large Green Tomatoes (or 4 Medium)
2 Eggs
1 cup Cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (or mix together Salt and Paprika with a pinch of Onion Powder)

Mix together the Cornmeal and the Seasoned Salt in a bowl and then pour onto a plate. Then beat the eggs in the bowl and set aside.

Cut off a small thin slice on both ends of each Green Tomato and then cut them into 1/2 slices.  

Then dredge them on both sides in the Cornmeal Mixture and place on another plate. 

Put Oil into a frying pan up to about 1/2 inch and heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add as many Green Tomatoes as you can without crowding and cook until brown on one side. Turn over carefully and brown the other side. Place on a paper towel covered plate and repeat until all the Green Tomatoes are fried. Put on a serving plate and serve with a drizzle of Ranch Dressing over the top of them.

Five Element Analysis

Tomatoes are considered a Fire Element food, but because these are green and a bit tart, they also cross over into the Wood Element. The Cornmeal adds the Earth Element and the Eggs bring in some of the Water Element. So this is a good dish to serve with a Metal Sauce, which is why I serve it with Ranch Dressing - a sauce made with Milk and Mayonnaise - both Metal foods to create balanced dish!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Simplest Summer Squash Salad

I bought some little Zucchinis and Summer Squash at the Farmer's Market today and when I get little ones. I especially like them little because the seeds haven't developed very much so they are much crisper and less mushy. Then I make the Simplest Summer  Squash Salad. It's so easy that I hesitated to post it and actually I have a backlog of recipes to post, but this one won because I made it today and it was just so pretty and delicious too!  

All you do is take the Squash and slice it as thin as you can. I like to cut them in half and then slice because I like the shape better and it's easier than having them roll around the cutting board. Then I drizzle them with a high quality extra virgin Olive Oil - it really makes a difference to use a good one. Then squeeze on a bit of lemon and sprinkle them with Maldon Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel. Finally a sprinkling of fresh ground Pepper and you have an amazing summer salad that even Zucchini haters will love - I've seen it over and over again.  So you might want to add this to your recipe file when those first little Zucchinis and Squashes come to market or grow in your backyard because at some point, you'll be needing to make Zucchini Pancakes and Bread with the big ones coming later this summer.

Simplest Summer Squash Salad

2 small Zucchini
2 small Yellow Summer Squash
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 1/2 or all of a small Lemon
1 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper

Wash the Zucchini and Summer Squash and cut off the ends. Then cut in half and place cut side down on the cutting board. Slice them as thin as you can. Place all the cut Squash in a serving bowl.  Drizzle on the Olive Oil, Squeeze on the Lemon Juice, Sprinkle with Salt and fresh ground Pepper. Toss right before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Zucchini and Summer Squash are both Earth Element foods. The Olive Oil and Lemon contribute the Wood Element and the Salt brings in a little of the Water Element. The Fire Element is only represented by a tiny bit of Pepper. So, serve this Salad with a meal where the main dish is either a Water food, like Fish or Pork and I like to serve it with fresh sliced Tomatoes which adds more of the Fire Element to make a perfect al fresco Summer meal!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gluten Free Banana Strawberry Cake

I used to make this wonderful Strawberry Bread for my son when he was little, but it was very sugary so I didn't make it very often. He reminded me of it the other day and I decided to make a Gluten Free version that was sweetened mostly with fresh fruit. I had two Bananas that were turning brown and I only eat them out of hand when they are still a bit green. That's usually when I make Banana Bread. I also had a handful of Strawberries in the fridge that needed to be used up and that was the inspiration for this cake. I borrowed a recipe from The Loopy Whisk blog, but changed it by adding more Banana and leaving out the Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest and putting in Strawberries instead of Blueberries. I also sprinkled the top with a little Turbinado Sugar (Sugar in the Raw) to give it a shiny and slightly Caramelized surface. My son was so happy as it tasted a lot like both of his childhood favorites - Banana Bread and Strawberry Bread put together. I made it all in one bowl and it turned out perfectly.  I call it a cake because I baked it in a cake pan. I'm just hoping that there is a piece left for tomorrow morning as I think it would be perfect for breakfast!

Gluten Free Banana Strawbery Cake (based on The Loopy Whisk)

2 medium ripe Bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted Butter
2 Large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Gluten Free Flour (I used King Arthur)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
1 cup of cut up Strawberries
For topping:  2 teaspoons Turbinado Sugar (can also use regular Sugar)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a square cake pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the Bananas, Butter, Eggs, Vanilla and Sugar. Add in the Gluten Free Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt. Stir to combine thoroughly and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the Strawberry pieces and press them down lightly into the batter. Sprinkle with the Turbinado Sugar and place in the oven. Cook for about 30 - 35 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown and springs back lightly when touched with your finger. Cool before serving. The flavor actually gets better after it sits a bit.

Five Element Analysis

This is a sweet dessert so it is naturally an Earth Element food and the Bananas add even more Earth. The Butter, Vanilla Extract and the Gluten Free Flour made primarily from Rice brings in the Metal Element. The Strawberries contribute the Fire Element. So this is a good dessert to serve with a dinner that is primarily composed of Water and Wood foods, like Fish and Vegetables. Remember a light meal will leave more room for this lovely Cake!