Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tomato Bruschetta Topping

I finally found some really good Tomatoes at the Farmer's Market and that means it's Bruschetta time!  Bruschetta literally means grilled bread with any number of toppings, although Tomatoes are quite traditional. It's quite easy to make this Tomato topping, but what's different about this one is that the Garlic is mellowed by cooking just a little and that let's the flavors of Olive Oil and Basil shine through a bit more. How does something so simple, taste so good?  I used a Gluten Free Baguette and sliced it thin and brushed it with Olive Oil, cooked it just until the edges were browned and then topped it with the Tomatoes. To me, Bruschetta with ripe Tomatoes is a summertime delight!  

Tomato Bruschetta Topping

2 pounds fresh, ripe Tomatoes 
1/2 cup Olive Oil
4 large Garlic Cloves, minced
1 1/2  teaspoons Sea Salt
20 large Basil Leaves

Cut off the stem end of each Tomato and then slice in half, scoop out the seeds and then dice. Place in a bowl and add the Salt.

Roll up the Basil Leaves and slice thinly and add to the Tomatoes.

Pour the Olive Oil into a frying pan and add in the minced Garlic. Heat and stir until you can smell the Garlic fragrance and remove from the heat. Pour over the Tomatoes and stir to mix thoroughly. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to let the flavors blend. 

Five Element Analysis

Tomatoes belong to the Fire Element so this dish is mostly Fiery. The Olive Oil brings in the Wood Element and the Garlic adds the Metal Element as does the Basil. The Bread, in this case is Gluten Free so that means it is made primarily from Rice Flour adds more Metal and if made from Wheat, adds more of the Wood Element. This is not meant to be a balanced meal as it is an appetizer so be sure to serve it with some other dishes that bring in the Water Element and the Earth Element too for balance. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Sautéed Caramelized Fennel

I'm currently enamored with Fennel and often cut it up and add it to my lunchtime salads, but today I wanted to make it a different way to tame it for the rest of the family who are not as crazy about the licorice-like taste as I am. I decided to sauté it in a combination of Olive Oil  and Vegetable Oil to give it a higher smoke point and I sliced the Garlic so it wouldn't burn. I finished it with a bit of White Wine. It was so delicious and was greatly appreciated by all my non Fennel loving family members!  

Be sure to use a frying pan that is not nonstick if you want to caramelize it properly. I used my trusty All Clad stainless steel frying pan and the Fennel ended up with that golden glow that is the hallmark of good caramelization. All in all it took less than 10 minutes to prepare and that includes slicing the Fennel and the Garlic and cooking it too. It was so easy and so fast and so good that I will be making it often!  

Sautéed Caramelized Fennel

2 Fennel Bulbs, top and bottom trimmed and cut into thin slices
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 - 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and slice thinly
1/4 cup dry White Wine

Heat the Oil in a frying pan (not nonstick) and add in the Fennel slices. Cook, stirring often until the Fennel starts to brown. Add in the Sea Salt and the Garlic and continue to cook until the Fennel is golden brown.  Then add in the White Wine and cook until the liquid is completely evaporated. All in all it should take about 5 - 6 minutes to cook. 

Five Element Analysis

Fennel is one of the few Metal Element vegetables, but because it is caramelized and becomes sweet, as does the Garlic, it also has the properties of the Earth Element.  The Olive Oil adds the Wood Element and the White Wine brings in the Fire Element. All that's needed is a main dish from the Water Element, such as Fish or Pork or even some Beans and you will have a balanced meal!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sautéed Spinach and Beets

I've just returned from teaching in England. While there, I stayed at an Airbnb so that we could cook and my friend Deirdre made a delightful dish of Sautéed Spinach and Beets. I'v never thought of putting these two ingredients together, but Spinach does belong to the same family. The dish came about because we found a package of pre-cooked beats so it was a simple matter to slice them and add them to some sautéed Spinach and Garlic. It took no time at all. However, if you cook the Beets yourself, it will take much longer. She drizzled the dish with Balsamic Vinegar and it was wonderful!  I hope you like it too.

Sautéed Spinach and Beets

4 small or 2 large Beets, cooked* and sliced 1/4"  (in half if small, in quarters if big)
10 oz of Spinach (2-5 oz packages) of Spinach
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Balsamic 

Heat the Olive Oil and add the Garlic. Cook, stirring until you smell the Garlic fragrance Add in the Beets and stir and then add in the Spinach. Sautéed until the Spinach wilts. Sprinkle with the Salt and drizzle with the Balsamic Vinegar. Toss to coat and serve immediately. 

*If using fresh Beets, boil with the peels on until the Beets can be cut through with a knife. Rub off the peels and trim the ends. Then proceed with the recipe above.

Five Element Analysis

Beets belong to the Earth Element as they are sweet root vegetables, but they also have some Fire due to their red color. Spinach belongs to the Wood Element and the Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar add even more Earth. The Garlic brings in the Metal Element. Be sure to serve with a Main Dish from the Water Element, like Fish or Pork to balance the meal.  

Monday, May 6, 2019

Simple Sautéed Corn and Edamame

I haven't been posting much since I've been working so hard on my cookbook - due out later this year. Testing recipes over and over again kind of takes away the time and creativity I need to develop new recipes but I will be done soon and I'll keep you posted. about the release date!

 In the meantime, here's something I whipped up tonight when I wanted some protein from a vegetable source. I had three ears of Corn in the fridge that needed to be cooked and I found a container of already cooked shelled Edamame from Trader Joe's. If you can't find this particular product, look for Edamame in the shell and cook following the package instructions and then peel them. I cooked the Corn, cut it off the cob and sautéed it in Butter it with some Green Onions and the Edamame. I added some Tamari too and it was so good!  My son said he was going to add some Sriracha to his, but he gave a thumbs up to the dish, which means he will definitely eat it again.  I served it with a Green Salad with lots of other cut up vegetables. This dish a really quick and easy to make when you have so many other things to do and it's delicious!

Simple Sautéed Corn and Edamame

3 Ears of Corn
9 oz of shelled Edamame (already cooked)
3 - 4 Green Onions, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Tamari

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the fresh Corn. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes and remove. Cool and cut the Corn off the Cob.  

Melt the Butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add in the Green Onions and cook until you can smell the fragrance strongly. Then add in the Corn and the Edamame and sauté for 4 - 5 minutes or until the Corn and Edamame are hot. Then drizzle on the Tamari and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Corn belongs to the Earth Element whereas the Edamame is partly the Water Element because it's a bean and partly the Wood Element because they are green. The Tamari brings in a hint of the Water Element and the Butter and Green Onions contributes the Metal Element. For a balanced meal, serve it with a Fire food, as I did with a Lettuce Salad with Tomatoes and Red Onion pieces (more Metal) and dressed it with Lemon Juice and Olive Oil  (Wood foods) to balance things out.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli

Stir-frying food the Chinese way is very, very fast if you cut up all the ingredients ahead of time. And these days, it's so easy to buy things ready to cook, like Broccoli Florets. I happened to have a big bag that I bought, so I've been making Broccoli several different ways. My favorite was a family classic - Chicken and Broccoli, which I realized that I have never posted, even though I make it often. If you cut up the Chicken and marinate it ahead of time and have Broccoli florets on hand, this dish literally takes only minutes! 

The sauce is a classic Chinese Brown Sauce made from Chicken Broth, Oyster Sauce, Tamari and a few drops of Sesame Oil. I use Kikkoman Oyster Sauce because it is Gluten Free and if you don't like Shellfish, there are some Vegan versions out there too.  The Cornstarch that is mixed in with the Chicken makes the sauce thick enough for my family, but if you like a thicker sauce add a little bit more Cornstarch. If it gets too thick, add a little bit more water. It's very forgiving. You can also make this dish with sliced Beef too and it's also delicious!

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli

¾ pound of boneless Chicken – Thighs or Breasts
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine
2 Tablespoons Tamari
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 – 3 cups Broccoli Florets, cut in half if large
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 large Garlic Cloves


¼ cup Chicken Broth
¼ cup Water
2 Tablespoons GF Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon Tamari
a few drops of Toasted Sesame Oil
Optional: 1 teaspoon of Cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons Water

In a bowl, mix together the Chicken Broth, Water, Oyster Sauce and Tamari. In another small bowl, mix together the Cornstarch and Water.  

Cut the Chicken into chunks less than 1”.  Place in a bowl with the Rice Wine, Tamari and Cornstarch.  Mix thoroughly.

Boil a small pot of Water and bland the Broccoli for 1 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Heat the Oil in a large frying pan or wok.  Add the Garlic and cook until you just smell the fragrance.  Then add in the Chicken, pushing down so that it forms a single layer and starts to brown on one side. Turn over and cook on the other side. Then add the Broccoli and the sauce mixture. Stir to combine. Then add in the Cornstarch mixture and cook until lightly thickened.  Serve with Steamed Rice.  

Five Element Analysis

Chicken and Broccoli both belong to the Wood Element, so this is a mostly Wood dish. However, the Oyster Sauce, Tamari and Sesame Oil bring in the Water Element and the Rice and Garlic contribute the Metal Element. The Fire Element is only found in the Rice Wine and the Earth Element in the Cornstarch, so be sure to add another dish or two that bring in those Elements for balance.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup

I visited Colombia years ago and had such a wonderful time and I loved the food!  My favorite thing was Ajiaco - a rustic Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup. I had it many times and it was always delicious!  I did ask my hosts how to make it and I got a recipe but I was stymied by my inability to get Guascas - the herb that flavors the soup or Criollas Potatoes, which makes the broth thick and creamy. So, I put off making it all this time. Recently, I was cleaning out a stored box and I found the recipe. Of course like many recipes from home cooks, it doesnt give precise measurements. 

So, my first task was to find Guascas and I found it at a local Latin Market. If you can't find Guascas, use an extra Bay Leaf. Then I needed to find a substitute for Criollos Potatoes as I wasn't interested in canned ones, but I had a brainstorm that I could create a creamy broth with a Russet Potato and then cut up other Potatoes like Yukon Gold and Red Bliss for the Potato Chunks. I also wanted to make the soup a little easier to eat. So, I used Corn Kernels instead of slices of Corn on the Cob. And, I wanted to make it faster so I used Chicken Broth and bite sized pieces of Chicken Breast cooked only for the last 15 minutes.  I served it the traditional way with Capers, cut up pieces of Avocado and Sour Cream for those who wanted it. I remember that it was served with a kind of Salsa that contained Aji Chilis that I didn't make, but it might be really good to add in a little hot sauce too. it was so delicious and it immediately transported me back to Bogota. I love this soup!

Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup

5 cups Chicken Broth
1 medium Onion, minced
3 Garlic Cloves
1 medium Russet Potato
2 Tablespoons Gauscas
1 Bay Leaf
1 - 2 teaspoons Salt
3/4 pound of Chicken Breast or Tenders cut into bite sized pieces
1 pound of mixed Baby Potatoes - Red Bliss, Yukon Gold and Purple peeled and cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups frozen Corn Kernels

For Serving: Capers, Avocado pieces and Sour Cream

Place Chicken Broth in a pot and add the Onions, Garlic, Russet Potatoes, Bay Leaf and Guascas. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and oook for 20 minutes. Remove the Bay Leaf and use a Potato Masher to mash the Potato. Taste and add Salt if desired. Then add in the Chicken, the remaining Potatoes and the Corn and bring back to a boil. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Serve with Capers, cut up Avocado and Sour Cream, if desired.

Five Element Analysis

As a soup, this automatically belongs somewhat to the Water Element, but the Potatoes and Corn make this a very Earthy Soup. The Chicken Broth and Chicken bring in the Wood Element and the Capers and add even more. The Gauscas, Bay Leaf and Sour Cream contribute the Wood Element and the Avocado (Haas) contributes the Water Element .Only the Fire Element is missing, so sprinkle on some hot sauce or serve this with a green, leafy Salad to create a balanced meal.  

Monday, March 18, 2019

Cincinnati Chili

Here's a recipe I've been meaning to post for a while. I have a friend from Cincinnati who told me so much about Cincinnati Chili that of course I had to try making it. I got the ingredients from his Mom when she was visiting one time and finally made it at home. For those of you who don't know, Cincinnati Chili is served one of 4 or 5 ways: One way is just the Chili with Meat; another way is with Spaghetti Noodles; another way is with Raw Onions and/or Cheese and the last way is with Kidney Beans. I'm not sure if that's the correct order of ways, but these are the right ingredients for authentic Cincinnati Chili. I like it best with Gluten Free Spaghetti and topped with sweet chopped Onions, my son and daughter-in-law definitely also wanted lots of Cheese. The Chili itself is unusual because it is spiced with Cumin and a bit of Cinnamon, Allspice and Cloves, which gives it an almost Middle Eastern flavor and because of the Chocolate added, it also reminded me a bit of Mexican Mole. It's really a delicious Chili!  

Cincinnati Chili

1 pound Ground Beef
1 Onion, minced
2 Garlic Cloves
1 14 oz can Tomato Sauce
1 cup Beef Broth
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
Pinch of ground Cloves
Optional:  1 15 oz can of Kidney Bans drained
Optional:  1/2 ounce Baking Chocolate
Optional  a pinch of Red Pepper flakes

Brown the Ground Beef in a frying pan with the Onion and Garlic, breaking up the meat as much as possible. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the Spices and Chocolate (if using) then the Tomato Sauce and Beef Broth and Kidney Beans (if using).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.  

Serve with cooked Spaghetti Noodles and/or Cheddar Cheese and/or raw, chopped Onions

Five Element Analysis

Ground Beef and Beef Broth belong to the Earth Element. The Spices and the Garlic and Onions contribute the Metal Element and the Cheese adds even more if you use it, The Kidney Beans bring in the Water Element (otherwise it is not strongly present except in the liquid nature of this Chili). The Fire Element is represented by the Tomato Sauce and the Red Pepper Flake sand Chocolate if you add them. The Wood Element is present if you use Spaghetti made with Wheat flour and serving it all the ways is a balanced meal. But, the Wood Element is absent if you use Gluten Free Spaghetti like I did, so be sure to add a green vegetable for balance. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lentils with Leeks, Celery and Bacon

I returned from England last week and have been so jet lagged that I haven't been cooking anything new. But, I did make something at my Airbnb the week before that was so good, I want to share it with you and I want remember it to make again too. I had limited ingredients and sometimes that's a blessing. I knew I wanted to make a Lentil dish as I wanted leftovers for lunch the next day and I thought I had a jar of Sun Dried Tomatoes in the fridge, half full. But it wasn't there and all I could find that might work were Butter, Celery, Leeks and Bacon. The Bacon of course was English Bacon, which is a lot more meaty and a lot less fatty. Here in America it's called Back Bacon (and a bit like Canadian Bacon only thinly sliced).  I cooked the Lentils in Water with Chicken Bouillon cubes added (as I couldn't find canned Chicken Broth) until tender. This flavors the Lentils so no extra salt is needed. Meanwhile, I sautéed the Leeks and Celery in Butter with the Bacon. When the Lentils were done, I drained them and added everything together. It was so good and even better the next day!

Lentils with Leeks, Celery and Bacon

2 cups of Green Lentils
4 cups of Chicken Broth (or 4 cups Water with 2 Gluten Free Bouillon Cubes)
1 large or 2 small Leeks, green part cut off, sliced in half and then sliced thin
2 stalks of Celery, trimmed and sliced thin
6 pieces of English Bacon (or 1 cup of Canadian Bacon or Ham) cut into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Butter
fresh ground Pepper to taste

Put the Lentils and the Chicken Broth in a small pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes and check to see if they are tender. If not, cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes and check again. Lentils should take no longer than 40 minutes until they get tender. When tender, drain off the broth and put into a mixing bowl. 

In a frying pan, melt the Butter and add in the Bacon, Celery and Leeks. Cook until the Leeks and Celery are softened. Then add to the Lentils and toss to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with Black Pepper and serve warm or cool. 

Five Element Analysis

Lentils as Pulses belong to the Earth Element. The Leeks and Butter bring in the Metal Element. The Celery and Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element and the Bacon makes sure the Water Element is present too. The Fire Element is only found in the tiniest bit of Black Pepper so it would be good to serve a green salad with Tomatoes to bring that element in too for a more balanced meal. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Garlic Confit - Roasted Garlic Cooked in Olive Oil

I'm leaving home to teach for two weeks and I've been trying to use up things that that are perishable and won't be used by my son while I'm gone. Recently, I went a splurge and bought a lot of Garlic. Chances are it will stay good while I'm gone, but some of them looked like they might sprout, so I made Garlic Confit. That's just a really fancy name for Roasting Garlic in Olive Oil. You simply cover Garlic Cloves with Olive Oil to cover and then roast it low and slow. I did cut the largest Garlic Cloves in half to remove the Green piece of new Garlic that was growing, as that makes the Garlic bitter.

Once the Garlic is roasted in the Olive Oil until soft and browned, it can be used in any number of ways and the remaining Olive Oil is full of Garlic flavor and wonderful for stir-frying. It's also so simple to make Garlic Confit, I don't know why I don't do it more often!  Personally, I love to mash Roasted Garlic up and add it with the Oil to Salad Dressings and I also use both the Garlic and Garlic Oil in pasta dishes. My son loves it on a toasted Baguette, with some of the Olive Oil and a sprinkling of Maldon Sea Salt - it's  so delicious. So, I know he'll eat it cup while I'm away!

Garlic Confit - Roasted Garlic Cooked in Olive Oil

1 large head of Garlic - about 10 cloves, peeled
Olive Oil to cover

Heat the oven to 250 degrees

Place Garlic Cloves in a heat proof baking dish and just cover with Olive Oil. Cook for 1 hour or until the Garlic Cloves are golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and put into a jar and keep in the refrigerator.

Five Element Analysis

Garlic belongs to the Metal Element and Olive Oil to the Wood Element so be sure to add the Garlic and the Oil to a meal where you also incorporate the other Three Elements of Water, Fire and Earth. That's why I use both the Garlic and the Garlic Oil in a big salad.  

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Blueberry Chia Pudding

I'm always looking for different things to have for breakfast so I decided to make a Blueberry Chia Pudding. Chia Seeds are very good for you, particularly for your digestion and they are loaded with nutrients with  very few calories. I used Almond Milk to keep it Lactose Free and I cooked frozen blueberries with a little Sugar to make a sauce to stir in. It was so good that I am sharing it with you!  You could easily make this a dessert instead of a breakfast dish.

Blueberry Chia Pudding

1 cup Almond Milk
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
3/4 cup Blueberries
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Hot Water

In a mixing bowl, mix together the Almond Milk and Chia Seeds. Put aside. 
Put Sugar and Hot Water in the bottom of a small pot and stir to dissolve slightly. Add the Blueberries and turn the heat to medium.  Cook until some of the Blueberries start to burst and make a sauce - you can push down on some of the Blueberries with you spatula to help this process along. Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add to the Chia mixture and stir in thoroughly.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes up to overnight.  

Five Element Analysis

Blueberries are a Water Fruit and Chia Seeds belong to the Water Element as well. So this is a great dish to support your Kidneys. Almond Milk is a Metal Beverage with some of the Earth Element from the Almonds as well and the Sugar adds just a bit more Earth. The Fire Element is missing, which can easily be added with Coffee or Tea and the Wood Element also needs representation so I served my pudding with Chicken Breakfast Sausages to make a balanced breakfast!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Stir-Fried Shanghai Year Cake

Happy Chinese New Year! It's the 9th anniversary of 5 Element Food and I actually can't believe I've been writing this blog for so long! 

Of course, last night I had a Chinese New Year's Eve family dinner and served lots of lucky foods. One of the dishes we made was Stir-Fried Shanghai Year Cake. It's called Year Cake in my family because we serve it at Chinese New Year. This dish incorporates Pork, Green Onions, Bok Choy and Sliced Rice Cakes, often called Rice Ovalettes. This little Rice Cakes are considered very lucky and help you achieve lofty heights in the new year. Many Chinese people I know eat a sweet version of Rice Cake, but my family always made them savory the Shanghai way.  

The Rice Cakes can be found at most Asian supermarkets and they are sometimes frozen. I've even found them dried in Europe. To stir fry them, you will need to soak them in hot water for at least 20 minutes before adding to the stir fry. And, like all stir fry dishes, you cook the dish in stages with everything cut up and marinated and ready to be cooked. If you like chewy foods, this dish is for you. It's delicious and lucky too!

Stir-fried Shanghai Year Cake

12 ounces sliced Rice Cakes (1/2 bag)
1/2 pound lean Pork or Chicken, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine
1 bunch Bok Choy, trimmed, cut in half and cut into bite size pieces
3 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into small pieces, white and green parts separated
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Oyster Sauce
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1 teaspoon Sugar
a pinch of White Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chicken Broth or Water

Soak the Rice Cakes in hot water for at least 20 minutes. Drain when ready to use.

Place the Pork in a small bowl and add the Tamari and Rice Wine, Mix thoroughly and let marinate for 15 minutes.

In another small bowl, mix together the Oyster Sauce, Tamari, Sugar, White Pepper and Chicken Broth.

Heat a wok or large frying pan and then add in 2 Tablespoons of OIl. Add the white part of the Green Onion and cook, stirring until you can smell the fragrance. Then add in the Bok Choy and cook until softened.  Remove and put into a serving bowl.

Then add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of Oil and add the Pork, separating it so it cooks in one layer. Turn and cook the other side. Then scoop off the sides and add the Year Cake. Stir fry for a few minutes and then add the Bok Choy back in with the Green Onion tops add add the sauce. Stir until everything is coated. Serve while hot.

Five Element Analysis

Rice Cakes primarily belong to the Metal Element, but because they are sticky and chewy, they also contain some of the Earth Element too. The Metal Element is further enhanced by the Green Onions. The Pork brings in the Water Element as does the Oyster Sauce and Tamari. The Bok Choy adds the Wood Element as does the Chicken Broth. So only the Fire Element is missing and the Earth Element is only slightly represented so be sure to add a Fire and Earth food to your meal.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Creamy Tomato Soup with Thai Flavors

I was craving a bowl of creamy Tomato Soup but I didn't want to use any dairy. So I decided to create a Tomato Soup using Coconut Milk and adding some Thai flavors  I might add that I keep Lemongrass in the freezer, so if you don't have any, you can use a bit Lime or Lemon Zest. I pureed it with a stick blender and served it with a squeeze of Lime. It was so good that I couldn't stop eating it!  

Creamy Tomato Soup with Thai Flavors

2 14.5 oz cans of diced Tomatoes
1 can of full fat Coconut Milk, 13.66 oz
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 Shallot, minced
2 teaspoons minced Lemongrass or 1/2 teaspoon Lime or Lemon Zest
1 teaspoon Salt 
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 Lime, cut into quarters

Put the Oil into a medium saucepan and heat. Add the Shallots and cook until they soften.  Then add the Tomatoes, Coconut Milk, Lemongrass, Salt and Sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Then use a stick blender or a blender  to puree the soup. Serve with a squeeze of Lime.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always part of the Water Element so that Element is covered. The Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element. The Coconut Milk represents both the the Metal Element and the Earth Element since it is naturally sweet. The Lime and Lemongrass, which is Woody herb, contribute the Wood Element. This soup is more balanced than I expected!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Roasted Eggplant with Sriracha Butter

My daughter in law loves Eggplant and she loves Sriracha Chili Sauce. So, I decided to combine those two things in a simple side dish when she was over for dinner the other night. I roasted the Eggplant until it was crisp at the edges and tossed it with a Sriracha Butter Sauce. It was so wonderful that I had to post it (so I could remember it and they could access it.) 

Roasting Eggplant is one of my favorite ways to cook it as it absorbs less oil. And it's a wonderful, mostly hands off cooking method that is helpful when you are also cooking other things. I used long and slender Japanese Eggplant as they are not as bitter. I cut them up into chuck and tossed them in the oven with only a little oil. Once they were roasted, I dressed with them a simple sauce of melted Butter combined with Tamari and Sriracha. It was so good and I wish I had made twice as much!  

Roasted Eggplant with Sriracha Butter

3 Japanese Eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I used Safflower)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Tamari
1 - 2 teaspoons Sriracha Chili Sauce

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle the Oil over a sheet pan and add the Eggplant. Toss with your hands to coat them lightly. Sprinkle with the Salt and place in the Oven. Cook for about 15 minutes and then turn the Eggplant. Continue cooking for another 10 mintues or until the Eggplant is browned. Remove and put into a serving bowl. 

In a small frying pan, heat the Butter until melted and stir in the Tamari and Sriracha and then drizzle over the Eggplant. Toss with a spoon to coat the Eggplant fully and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant belongs to the Water Element due to it's dark Purple Color and many seeds. The Tamari adds even more Water. The Sriracha and the Roasting method of cooking bring in the Fire Element and the Butter adds just a hint of Metal.  This is a dish best served with other dishes that incorporate the Wood and Earth Elements. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Creamy Celery Root Soup

It's soup season for me and tonight I wanted something creamy and nourishing. I recently bought a Celery Root thinking I was going to make a salad from it but instead, I made a lovely soup  I cooked the Celery Root with a Potato, a Leek and a small amount of Marjoram. The soup had a lovely light Celery flavor that I loved. It was also really fast and easy to make. I garnished it with a little some Green Onion pieces lightly sautéed in a little bit of Butter. My son garnished his bowl with some Bacon. I loved this soup and will definitely make it again!

Creamy Celery Root Soup

1 medium Celery Root, peeled and diced
1 medium Potato, peeled and diced
1 large Leek, white and light green part only, sliced, washed and cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 teaspoon Marjoram
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
Optional:  1/4 cup Green Onion pieces (green part only) sautéed briefly in 1/2 Tablespoon of Butter for garnish

In a medium sized pot, melt the Butter and then add in the Celery Root, Potato and Leek. Cook for several minutes over medium high heat until the Leek softens. Add in the Broth, Marjoram, Salt and Pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the Celery Root and Potato pieces are soft. Puree with a stick blender and garnish with the Green Onions pieces

Five Element Analysis

As a soup, this is naturally a Water food. Celery usually belongs to the Wood Element but since this is the Brown Root of the plant, it also has a very strong Earth Component as well. The Potato adds even more Earth. The Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element and the Leeks and Green Onions contribute the Metal Element. Only the White Pepper represents the Fire Element so be sure to serve this with another Fire food, like a salad to create balance.  

Friday, January 25, 2019

Smashed Potatoes

I really love Baked Potatoes, but I don't think about making them very often and I usually cook really big Potatoes and there is simply too much for me to eat. So last year, I decided to start baking smaller Potatoes. Then I read about smashing Potatoes and that was it!  I've been smashing them ever since!  What smashing Potatoes does is expose more of the Potato to the heat, which makes them a bit crispier. You have to boil them first and you can pick your choice of toppings. I like to use Butter, Bacon and Green Onions, my Son adds Sour Cream. If you haven't started smashing Potatoes yet, you might want to start as they are so delicious!

Smashed Potatoes

12 small new Potatoes
1/4 cup melted Butter
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
3 slices Bacon, cut into small pieces
2 Green Onions, cut into small pieces

Cover the Potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes. Drain and place on an oiled baking sheet. 

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Using the bottom a mug, push down on each Potato until it is about 1" thick. Put 1 teaspoon of Butter on each Potato and sprinkle with a pinch of Salt. Pu into the oven and cook for 25 minutes.  

Meanwhile, cut the Bacon into small pieces. In a small frying pan, cook the Bacon until it is crisp. Remove and drain the fat. Add the Green Onions to the pan and cook until they wilt slightly.  

Take the Potatoes out of the oven and sprinkle each with a bit of Bacon and Green Onion. Put back in the oven for another 3 - 5 minutes.  Serve with Sour Cream if desired. 

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element so this is a primarily Earthy dish. The Butter and Green Onions contribute the Wood Element and the Green Onions and Sour Cream bring in the Metal Element. The Bacon makes sure that the Water Element is also represented. So only the Wood Element needs to be added so be sure to add some Green Vegetables to your meal!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Korean Beef and Tofu Soup

I grew up eating all kinds of Asian Foods since my Mother is Chinese and she particularly liked Korean food. I remembered a soup that she used to make that I was always afraid would be too hot because of the red color that came from Korean Chili Powder, but she made it mild for us kids. I was thinking about that soup tonight and decided to recreate it having had a similar one at a Korean Restaurant recently. I remembered that my Mother would marinate sliced Beef in a mixture of Korean Red Pepper Powder, Soy Sauce and Garlic. Korean Soy Sauce is always gluten free, by the way and if you don't have it, use Tamari instead. The Soup Base was Beef Broth and the vegetable was sliced Zucchini. Sometimes she would cook Eggs in it too.  The Soft Tofu was wonderfully creamy and would soak up the flavors of the soup. At the end of the cooking time, she would pour in some Sesame Oil and sprinkle it with Green Onions. It was easy, fast to make and delicious. I'm happy to say that it turned out just right. I must remember to make this more often! 

Korean Beef and Tofu Soup

1 pound of Beef Steak, sliced very thin into about 1 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Korean Red Pepper Powder
3 Tablespoons Korean Soy Sauce or Tamari
3 Garlic Cloves, minced fine
1 Zucchini, ends cut off, cut in half and cut into thin slices
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 cups Beef Broth
1 - 2 packages of Soft Tofu (Soon Tofu), removed from package and cut into squares
2 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
Optional: 3 - 4 Eggs

In a mixing bowl, mix together the Red Pepper Powder, the Soy Sauce and the Garlic. Add the Beef and mix thoroughly. 

In a soup pot, heat the Oil and add the Zucchini. Cook, stirring often until he Zucchini softens. Then add in the Beef and cook until it is no longer raw. Then add in the Beef Broth and the Tofu. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and then add in the Eggs carefully and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then drizzle with the Sesame Oil and Green Onions to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and so does Zucchini, so this soup is rather Earthy, but soups by nature are always part of the Water Element too. More of the Water Element comes from the Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil and the Eggs if you use them.  The Metal Element is represented by the Tofu Garlic and Green Onions. The Korean Red Pepper Powder makes sure that the Fire Element is also present. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve some Banchan (side dishes) like Korean Spinach or Kimchi, which has the Wood Element's sour flavor so that the meal is balanced.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Thai Beef with Basil

I've been buying  a lot of Thai takeout later and decided that it would b much better if I made it myself at home. So today I decided to make Thai Beef with Basil. I've discovered that Thai food is fairly easy and quick to make, as long as you have some basic seasoning ingredients in your pantry - in this case Tamari (Soy Sauce) and Fish Sauce. Other than that, this dish requires some Thai Basil, Brown Sugar, Garlic, Shallots and a Chili - all things I had. A quick note: Thai Basil keeps best at room temperature. I added Red Pepper for Color and Green Beans too. Another trick, is to slice the Beef when it is partly frozen, so place it in the freezer for a while first or unthaw it just until sliceable. This dish was done in less time than it took to cook the Jasmine Rice and it was wonderful!  An easy weeknight meal and in my opinion, better than takeout!

Thai Beef with Basil

3/4 pound of Flank Steak or other Beef steak, sliced into thin strips
1 large or 2 small Shallots, peeled, trimmed and sliced thin
3 Garlic Cloves, minced.  
1 Red Pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
a handful of Green Beans, ends trimmed and snapped in half
1 small Red Chili (Thai Bird Chili or Red Jalapeño) sliced into rings
1 1/2 Tablespoons Tamari (Soy Sauce)
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (divided)

Blanch the Green Beans in a small pot of boiling water, cooking for about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside

In a small bowl, mix together the Tamari, Fish Sauce and Brown Sugar. Place Beef in another bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of the sauce mixture, mixing well with your hands.

Then heat a wok on high heat and add 2 Tablespoon of OIl. Add in the Beef and smooth into one layer with the spatula , cooking until one side is browned and turn to brown the other side. Remove to a serving bowl. Then add in the additional 2 Tablespoon of OIl. Put in the Shallots and Garlic, stirring quickly. Then add in the Red Pepper and Green Beans. Cook until the Red Peppers soften.  Then add the Beef back in, then toss in the Basil and Sauce, stirring to wilt the Basil. Serve immediately with Jasmine Rice. 

Five Element Analysis

With such a colorful dish, it is likely that many Elements are involved. The Beef contributes the Earth Element, as does the Brown Sugar. The Red Pepper and the Red Chili bring in the Fire Element. The Green Beans make sure that the Wood Element is present and the Fish Sauce and Tamari add the Water Element. The Metal Element is represented by the Shallots, Garlic and Thai Basil. So, this ends up being a very balanced dish!  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Baked Oatmeal

My friend Kelly is visiting over the holidays and today we made a breakfast dish that I wanted to share with you - Baked Oatmeal.  I read about it on the food website, Serious Eats and wanted to try it. But, I decided to change up the ingredients, using Blueberries and Almonds and Almond Milk instead of Apples or Bananas, Walnuts and regular Milk. I also left out the Brown Sugar on top as I wanted just he flavor of Maple Syrup. I was really impressed with the way it turned. I love the texture - the oats weren't mushy and the blueberries didn't burst. A subtle almond flavor permeated the dish and it was delicious!. Thank you to Serious Eats. This is definitely a breakfast dish I will make again! 

Baked Oatmeal
adapted from Serious Eats

1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 cup slivered Almonds
1 1/2 cups fresh Blueberries
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 large Egg
1 1/4  cups Almond Milk
2 Tablespoons melted Butter (or Ghee)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a pie pan with butter or oil. Put oats, almonds and blueberries in the baking dish. IN a mixing bowl, stir together the Maple Syrup, Salt, Cinnamon, Egg, Almond Milk and melted butter.  Pour into the baking dish.  Gentry stir the mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the center is set and top is very lightly browned Serve with additional Maple Syrup

Five Element Analysis

Oats belong to the Earth Element and since this is a sweet breakfast dish, it is primarily Earthy and the Almonds and Maple Syrup add even more. The Blueberries and Egg contribute the Water Element.  The Cinnamon gives a tiny hint of the Metal Element but the Almond Milk adds more. The Wood and Fire Elements are not present, so be sure to serve this with some Orange Juice for Wood and Coffee or Tea for more Fire. I also served Bacon for more of the Water Element.