Sunday, March 29, 2020

Gluten Free Tuna Noodle Casserole or Chicken Tettrazini

In these strange times when we are all staying home, a lot of people are craving Comfort Food. These foods usually come from our childhood. One of the food that I have been thinking about is Casseroles. They are not something I make often, unless you count Lasagna.  But since we are all cooking from our pantries, I thought about making Tuna Noodle Casserole. I only had this dish a few times at the house of a good friend when I was a teenager. My friend's Mom Mom was from the Mid West and casseroles were something she cooked a lot! I liked her Tuna Noodle Casserole, mostly because of the Potato Chip Topping.  So, she gave me the recipe and it was easy to make with Cream of Mushroom Soup, a little Onion cooked in Butter, cooked Egg Noodles, two cans of Tuna Fish and some frozen Peas. It was topped with crushed Ruffles and was then baked in the oven. 

But, it was  something I never cooked at home, as my Mother didn't eat Tuna and she definitely didn't like Casseroles. But, I had one ex-husband who loved Tuna Noodle Casserole and Creamed Tuna - basically the same recipe minus the noodles and served in Puff Pastry shells. His Mom's recipe, which I adapted used Celery and a dash of Worcestershire and I thought that they were good additions. I like to use Albacore Tuna because of its mild taste, but you can use Light Tuna if you prefer.

Now that I am Gluten Free, I can no longer rely on that can of Mushroom Soup, so I needed to make the Mushroom Sauce from scratch.  While doing this, I realized too that the sauce, if you used Chicken and Spaghetti instead of Tuna and Egg Noodles, was actually very similar to Chicken Tettrazini. And, you would use a bit of Sherrry instead of the Worcestershire and sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on top instead of Potato Chips. This dish is good for using up a Rotisserie Chicken or Turkey from Thanksgiving. It sounds a bit more sophisticated, but really, it's almost the same thing!

All you do is sauté some Mushrooms, Shallots and Celery in Butter and then add in some Sticky Rice Flour and Chicken Broth to make the sauce. Then add either the Tuna or the cooked Chicken along with the Seasonings and the Noodles (I use Gluten Free brands). You can make it richer by adding in some Cream. Then you simply bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes. So here's a recipe you can use two ways to make some comforting old-fashioned dinners!

Gluten Free Tuna Noodle Casserole

2 4 oz. cans of Albacore Tuna packed in water, drained
2 cups sliced Button Mushrooms
1/4 cup minced Shallot or Onion
1 large stalk of Celery, trimmed and minced
1/2 cup Frozen Peas
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Sticky Rice Flour
2 cups of Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup of crushed ridged Potato Chips
2 cups of dried Egg Noodles cooked according to the package directions (I used Double Yolk Gluten Free Medium Noodles)

Butter an 8 x 8 inch square pan. Heat the oven to 375 degrees

In a large frying pan, melt the Butter and add in the Shallot, Celery and Mushrooms. Cook until the Mushrooms are softened. Add in the Sticky Rice Flour and stir to combine. Then add in the Chicken Broth, Water and Worcestershire Sauce along with the Peas. Stir until the Sticky Rice Flour is fully absorbed. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the mixture thickens. Then add in the Tuna and mix it in along with the cooked Noodles.  Pour into the prepared baking pan and top with the crushed Potato Chips. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the Potato Chip crumbs are browned and the casserole is bubbling.

Gluten Free Chicken Tettrazini

Follow the recipe above, except use 2 cups of cooked Chicken instead of the Tuna, omit the Worcestershire Sauce and instead use 2 Tablespoons (or more) of Sherry or White Wine (but make sure you use a bit less Chicken Broth). If you want to make it richer, use Cream or Half and Half instead of the Water. Also use a 12 oz package of Gluten Free Spaghetti, cooked according to the package directions.  And, leave out the Potato Chip Crumbs and top it with 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese instead.  Bake as directed above. 

Five Element Analysis

Casseroles, usually a creamy concoction of many ingredients combined together, are considered part of the Earth Element. The Mushrooms and Potato Chip Crumbs add even more Earth. Tuna brings in the Water Element along with the Worcestershire Sauce and the Egg Yolks in the Noodles. Celery and Peas contribute the Wood Element as does the Chicken Broth. The Metal Element is represented by the Shallots, the Butter and the Rice Flour in the Noodles. Only the Fire Element is missing so serve this with a side salad. 

The Chicken Tettrazini version has similar elements, but it does have more Wood since it uses Chicken, more Metal if you add some Cream, and the Fire Element shows up as that little bit of Sherry or Wine.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tomato Tum Yum Soup

Tom Yum is a soup that I frequently order at one of my local Thai restaurants. But I decided to make it myself since I had several Lemongrass stalks laying in the bottom of my vegetable drawer that needed to be used. This is actually a pretty simple soup and it's fast to make as long as you have Lemongrass on hand along with a little bottle of Thai Red Chili Paste (I use the Thai Kitchen brand) and some fresh Galangal or Ginger and a Lime.  I like to add in some sliced Shallots or Red Onion, some sliced Chicken Breast and some Tomato. It's supposed to be a thin, somewhat clear broth with just a hint of red color, but I added the Tomatoes in early with the Lemongrass so that they melted into the soup and I liked it even better!  I served it with some Jasmine Rice and it was the perfect dinner!

Tomato Tom Yum Soup

8 cups Chicken Broth (I used Swanson's Natural Goodness)
3 Lemongrass Stalks
2 - 3 large slices of peeled Ginger or Galangal 
1 Roma Tomato
1/3 cup sliced Shallots or Red Onion
1 - 2 Tablespoons Thai Red Chili Paste
1 Chicken Breast half, cut into thin slices
8 Button Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

Cut the bottom 1/2 inch off the Lemon Grass and then peel off the outer layer. Cut off the top, leaving about 3 inches. Cut that into 1/2 pieces and smash them lightly with the bottom of a mug. 

Pour the Chicken Broth into a pot and add the Lemon Grass, Shallots and Ginger. Bring to a  boil and then turn down to a simmer. Place the Tomato onto a ladle and drop into the hot broth for 30 seconds. Remove, trim the stem end, peel and chop. Add the chopped Tomato back to the broth along with the Thai Red Chili Paste. Simmer the broth for 15 minutes. Then add in the Chicken slices and Mushrooms and cook until the Chicken is opaque. Add in the Lime Juice and Sugar and stir throughly. Serve with Jasmine Rice.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken and Chicken Broth belong to the Wood Element and the Lemongrass and Lime add even more.  The Tomato and the Red Chili paste contribute the Fire Element.  The  Mushrooms, Ginger and Sugar bring in the Earth Element and the Shallots make sure that the Metal Element is present too and the Rice is Metallic too. And, because this is a broth based soup, the Water Element is also represented. This then becomes a pretty balanced soup!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Chard Salad

I've been staying home and using up all the perishable food I bought last week. So I've been cooking up a storm. First to use up are all the leafy greens as the hard vegetables will keep for quite a while. Last night I made a Chard Salad that we really enjoyed that was dressed with a Lemony Dressing that comes form my friend Kelly. The secret ingredient is Bragg's Liquid Aminos along with some Red Onion and Garlic that marinated in the dressing. To make the Salad more colorful, I used an Orange Pepper cut up. It's full of Vitamin C - more than Oranges! And, I sprinkled the Salad with toasted Sunflower Seeds for even more crunch. It was so good that I have to share it with you!

Chard Salad

1 large bunch of Chard
1 small Orange Pepper, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil 
1/4 cup minced Red Onion
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or Coconut Aminos)
1/3 cup Sunflower Seeds, toasted

Put the Onions, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Bragg's Liquid Aminos in a salad bowl.  Stir to combine. 

Wash the Chard thoroughly to remove any sand. Tear the leafy part of the Chard off the Stalk and then tear into bite size pieces. Place in the salad bowl.  Add in the pieces of Orange Pepper and toss so that the dressing coats everything thoroughly. 

This salad can be made ahead and refrigerated. Sprinkle with Sunflower Seeds before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

Chard is a leafy green so you know that it's part of the Wood Element and the Lemon Juice and Olive Oil add even more. The Orange Pepper brings in the Fire Element and the Sunflower Seeds and the Bragg's Liquid Aminos contribute the Water Element. The Metal Element is represented by the Onion and Garlic.  So, all that's missing is the Earth Element so serve it with a main dish from the Earth Element like a Steak, if you are a carnivore or some baked Butternut Squash if you are Vegan, for a balanced meal!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Broccoli Salad with Ceasar Style Dressing

I was in the mood for some Broccoli Salad, but I didn't want the usual sweet ones. So, I decided to make one with a Caesar Style Dressing, minus the Parmesan and it turned out wonderfully. I chopped up the Broccoli and softened it slightly by pouring boiling water over it and letting it sit for about 5 minutes. I didn't have any Anchovies so I whipped up a dressing that included Mayonnaise, a bit of Worcestershire, a bit of Fish Sauce since it's also made from Anchovies, some Lemon, a pinch of Sugar and minced Garlic. It was wonderful!  If you can eat cheese, you could sprinkle some Parmesan on top to make it even more authentic and of course some Croutons would be good as well. I loved this Salad!

Broccoli Salad with Caesar Style Dressing

2 cups chopped Broccoli including trimmed and peeled stems
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Fish Sauce
1/8 teaspoon Sugar
1 small Garlic clove, minced
freshly ground Pepper
Optional:  2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese

Put the chopped Broccoli in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the Mayonnaise, Worcestershire Sauce, Fish Sauce, Lemon Juice, Sugar and Garlic.

Drain the Broccoli and pour the Dressing over it and stir to combine. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Toss again before serving. Sprinkle with the freshly ground Pepper and Parmesan Cheese, if desired.

Five Element Analysis

Broccoli, as a dark green vegetable, clearly belongs to the Wood Element. It also looks like little trees! The Lemon Juice adds a bit more. The Mayonnaise, Garlic and Parmesan contribute the Metal Element and the Eggs in the Mayonnaise along with the Worcestershire and Fish Sauce bring in the Water Element. The Fire Element is only represented by the hint of Pepper and the Earth Element by the pinch of Sugar. So, be sure to add foods from these two elements to round out the meal!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Savory Sausage Gravy

I have a love of Southern Breakfast foods and that includes Grits, Country Ham, Chicken Fried Steak and especially Biscuits and Gravy. Since going Gluten Free and Lactose Free, it has taken me a while to figure out how to make them differently. Biscuits are relatively easy now with the development of good Gluten Free flour blends like Cup4Cup and Bob's Red Mill 1to1 so that's covered. But making Sausage Gravy required that I substitute Chicken Broth for the Milk and I use Sticky Rice Flour to thicken it. And you know what? I like this version even better than the traditional Sausage Gravy made with Milk   Now, if you want to use Milk, go right ahead. This recipe will still work and taste great, but if you add a little Chicken Broth too, it gives it a wonderful savory taste that is so good! Another option is to use mostly Chicken Broth and then add a little Whole Cream too. I like to add a little bit of Red Onion sautéed in Ghee (Ghee is Lactose Free) to amp the flavor. I also like to add more Sausage than is traditional. It's great over toast too if you don't feel like making biscuits and this recipe can easily be doubled. If you are a fan of Sausage Gravy, I think you''ll like this version!

Savory Sausage Gravy

1/4 pound Pork Breakfast Sausage (I used Jimmy Dean Natural)
2 Tablespoons Ghee (or Butter or Oil)
2 Tablespoons Red Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Sticky Rice Flour (Mochiko)
1 1/4 cups Chicken Broth (I use Swanson's Natural Goodness)
sprinkling of fresh ground Pepper

Heat the Ghee in a frying pan and add in the Red Onion. Cook until they soften. Then add in the Sausage and break if up with a spatula. Cook until it is no longer pink. Then add in the Sticky Rice Flour and stir until well combined. Then add in the Chicken Broth and stir. Cook until thickened and sprinkle with Black Pepper. Serve over split biscuits or toast.

Five Element Analysis

This Gravy isn't meant to be eaten by itself, but it does have some of the Elements covered well. The Pork Breakfast Sausage brings in the Water Element. The Sticky Rice Flour  Ghee and Red Onion contribute some Metal. The Chicken Broth adds the Wood Element and the Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element has a tiny bit of representation. Served with Biscuits made of Gluten Free Flour, you will be adding more Metal from the Rice Flour and some Earth from the Tapioca Starch.  Serve this with Coffee or Tea that adds some Fire and you have a fairly balanced breakfast!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Italian Roasted Eggplant Dip

I bought a jar of Calabrian Crushed Chilis and was thinking about what I could use it for. My first thought was a Pasta Sauce and that morphed into a pasta sauce with Eggplant and then I decided I really wanted a dip! I call it Italian only because the Chlis came from Italy. Otherwise, this dip could be seasoned with other Chilis from other areas of the Mediterranean and Middle East. And I think it would make a great sandwich spread too!

I took one large Eggplant and cut it up into cubes along with an Onion, some Garlic Cloves and some Tomatoes, tossed them with Olive Oil and Salt and Roasted them. When they were done, I pureed them in a food processor and added in a dollop of the Calabrian Chilis. It was so good!  Served with some Rice Crackers, we ate it all up. Roasting all the Garlic and Onion mellows them and the Calabrian Chilis add just enough heat to make it interesting. I will be making this again and again!

Italian Roasted Eggplant Dip

1 large Globe Eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1" cubes
1 large Onion, trimmed and peeled and cut into 1" chunks
4 - 6 Roma Tomatoes
3 Garlic Cloves
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Calabrian Crushed Chilis

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a larger bowl, toss the Eggplant, Onion and Garlic with the Olive Oil. Pour onto a large sheet pan and add the Tomatoes. Sprinkle with the Salt.  Cook for 45 - 55 minutes, turning at least once.  Let the vegetables cool slightly, then remove Tomato peels if desired. 

Put all the vegetables plus the Calabrian Crushed Chilis in a food processor (or use a stick blender in a bowl) and puree. Serve as a dip with crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant with its dark purple skin and many seeds is a Water Food. The Olive Oil adds the Wood Element and the Tomatoes and Calabrian Chilis contribute the Fire Element. The Onion and Garlic bring in the Metal Element, but they cook for so long that they get Earthy to. This simple dip is fairly balanced all by itself!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Instant Pot Assisted Refried Beans

As you saw in my last post, I've been playing with my new Instant Pot and one of the things that I made and loved was Pinto Beans. They cooked up perfectly and were ready to make into Refried Beans in only 30 minutes. I cook all Beans without Salt as it can make the skin of the Beans a little tough. I use only Water, a Bay Leaf and an herb called Epazote to cook my Pinto Beans. This herb is often used in Mexico for cooking Beans as it helps to improve your digestion, meaning that it reduces gas, which is a god thing!  Epazote has a somewhat medicinal smell, but I love it as it reminds me of Mexican home cooking. I also have started using Lard in my Refried Beans, as I am quite enamored of it as an ingredient in Mexican food. I buy a special high quality Leaf Lard online and for those of you who worry about saturated fat, many studies show that Lard is actually very good for you!  You can use a light tasting Vegetable Oil instead if you prefer, or if you are Vegan.  I also like my Refried Beans to be somewhat pasty with chunks left in. I use Refried Beans on top of Tostadas to hold the other toppings on and of course they are an essential ingredient for Burritos. With an Instant Pot, making Beans has never been easier!

Instant Pot Assisted Refried Beans

1 cup dried Pinto Beans
3 1/2 cups Water
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon dried Epazote
1 Tablespoon Lard or a light tasting Vegetable Oil + an additional 2 Tablespoons
1/2 cup of minced White (or Yellow) Onion
1/4  teaspoon Salt
Optional:  1/4 teaspoon of Chili Powder or a pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Rinse the Pinto Beans and place into the Instant Pot. Add in the Water, 1 Tablespoon of Lard or Oil, Bay Leaf and Epazote. Seal the lid and cook on High Pressure for 30 minutes. Let cool naturally.  When ready to make the Refried Beans, drain the Pinto Beans, remove the Bay Leaf and reserve the cooking liquid. 

In a frying pan, melt the Lard or heat the Oil and add in the Onions. Cook until soft and just beginning to brown. Put in the Beans and Salt. Then mash the Beans with a Potato Masher or the back of a fork. Add in 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and cook on medium low heat until thickened, adding more liquid if necessary until you get the consistent desired. Serve immediately. If you reheat the Beans later, you will need to add a bit of Water to rehydrate them.

Five Element Analysis

Pinto Beans, like all Beans, belong to the Water Element and the Lard  or Oil adds even more, but their brownish color also makes them a bit Earthy.  The Onion contributes the Metal Element and there is just a hint of Fire if you add in the Chili Powder or Cayenne. Clearly, this is a food meant to be eaten with other foods to create a balance.  

Friday, February 28, 2020

Instant Pot Shredded Beef

I'm a bit of a slow adopter of new technological gadgets and I probably wouldn't have gone out to get an Instant Pot myself, as I have an old Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker. But the seal isn't working well and I can't seem to find a replacement. So, my son gave me an Instant Pot that I finally started using and I was astounded at how quickly it cooks food!  In half an hour, I made delicious shredded Beef for Tacos, Tostadas and Burritos!  

I used a 2 1/2 pound Chuck Roast and I seasoned it with a combination of spices - Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cumin, Salt and Sugar. I mixed in a small can of Tomato Sauce and some Water and let it cook. I was mimicking the flavors of my childhood standby Taco Seasoning Mix. The Beef came out perfectly. I served it on fried Corn Tortillas, spread with some (Instant Pot assisted) refried Beans, sprinkled on some shredded Lettuce and drizzled it all with Salsa. I was very happy and it was so good!

Instant Pot Shredded Beef

2 - 2 1/2 pound piece of Beef Chuck Roast, cut lengthwise in half
1 8 oz can of Tomato Paste
1 cup Water
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 te2 teaspoon Sugar

Add the Tomato Sauce and Water to the Instant Pot.  and then add in the seasonings. Stir to blend. Then add in the Beef. Seal the lid and cook for 30 minutes on High Pressure. Let cool naturally and then take the Beef out and shred with two forks.  Use as a topping for Tostadas or as a filling for Tacos, Burritos or Quesadillas.

Five Element Analysis

Beef is an Earth Food, but the Tomato Sauce and Chili Powder bring in some Fire. The Garlic and Onion Powder, as well as the Cumin contribute the Metal Element. Served with Corn Tortillas, you add more Earth, but when served with Flour Tortillas, you add the Wood Element. Lettuce brings in more Fire as does Salsa, which also has Lime for more Wood  and Onions and Cilantro adding in more Metal. And finally, Refried Beans contribute the Water Element.  So making Tostadas with this Shredded Beef gives you a pretty balanced little snack!  

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Gluten Free Waffle Batter

I had a desire to make Waffles so I invested in a Dash Mini Waffle Maker. I think they make the perfect size Waffles and I froze the leftovers (yes, there were several!) And then when I wanted them again, I popped them into the toaster and they were just as delicious as the day they were made. I used the recipe from the book that came with it, but I subbed out the Milk for Oat Milk and the Wheat Flour for Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour. You can use any Gluten Free Flour blend, but make sure it has Xanthan Gum in it or add 1 teaspoon.  I did leave in the Butter as it has very little Lactose and I especially wanted it to melt on top the hot Waffles. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for you Waffle maker - for mine, this recipe made 6 mini Waffles. They were so good that I am sharing the recipe with you!

Gluten Free Waffle Batter

1 cup Gluten Free Flour (add 1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum if mix doesn't have it)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
1 cup Oat Milk
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Mix the GF Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt in a small mixing bowl. In a separate larger mixing bowl, whisk together the Egg, Oat Milk and Melted Butter. Add in the Flour mixture and stir to combine. Make the Waffles as directed by your Waffle Maker. Serve the Waffles with Butter and Maple Syrup.

Five Element Analysis

Gluten Free Flour is usually made with Rice Flour which brings in the Metal Element and Tapioca Starch and Potato Starch, which bring in the Earth Element. The Metal Element is further enhanced by the Butter and Baking Powder, whereas the Oat Milk adds more Earth and the Sugar contributes just a little bit more. The Water Element is found in the Egg. Maple Syrup is a Wood substance made more Earthy since it is sweet. This meal needs some Fire, which is easily added by drinking Coffee or Tea and some more Water, which is easily added if you serve Pork Sausage or Bacon. Only the Wood Element needs some support, so be sure to eat some greens later in the day!

Monday, February 10, 2020

My Cookbook, Divine Chinese Cuisine, written with my son, Stephe Lesefko, has finally been published! There are 100 authentic Chinese recipes, 70 of which can be made Vegan. And, all recipes are free of Gluten, Dairy, Seafood, Nut, Dye and MSG! You can order it here:

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Creamy Lentil Soup with Sausage and Greens

It's soup weather here, cold and rainy, and I decided to make a creamy Lentil Soup. I started out by making the Lentil Soup with Chicken Broth, but you could easily substitute a good Vegetable Broth and it was seasoned simply with Onions, Carrots, Celery (Mirepoix), minced Garlic, a Bay Leaf and some Pepper. When the Lentils were soft, I pureed it all to make it creamy. And since I wanted to have a one-bowl-meal, I added in some Sausage pieces, some Sautéed Greens - in this case, Collard Greens, and some Onions that caramelize as you are cooking the Sausage and Greens. It was exactly what I wanted and it was so good!

Creamy Lentil Soup with Sausage and Greens

3/4 cup Brown Lentils
1 large or 2 small Carrots, cut into small pieces
1 large or 2 small Celery Stalks, cut into small pieces (
1 large, Onion cut into small pieces, reserving half
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
a pinch of fresh ground Pepper
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Butter
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup Water
1 Bay Leaf
Optional: a pinch of Cayenne Pepper or a teaspoonful of Hot Sauce

In a soup pot, put in the Olive Oil or Butter and then add in the Carrots, Celery, Onions and Garlic. Sprinkle with the Salt and Pepper.  Cook until the vegetables are wilted. Then add in the Chicken or Vegetable Broth and Water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes or until the Lentils are completely tender. Season with Cayenne or Chili Sauce, if desired. Using a stick blender or a blender (in batches), puree the soup until smooth. Then make the Sausage and Greens mixture to add in.

To Make the Sausage and Greens

1/2 of a Kielbasa Sausage, Smoked Sausage or Spanish Chorizo Sausage diced
2 cups of chopped Greens - Collard, Kale or Chard
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil or Butter

In a frying pan, heat the Olive Oil or Butter and add in the other half of the Onion from above. Cook until light golden brown, stirring often. Then add in the Sausage pieces and cook until they are lightly browned. Finally add in the Greens and cook until they are wilted. Add to the Soup and bring back to a boil before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Brown Lentils are clearly an Earth Element food and the Carrots add even more Earth. The Celery and Greens contribute the Wood Element and the Olive Oil, if you use it adds a little more. The Onions and Garlic bring in the Metal Element and if you use Butter, that's also more Metal. The Sausage, as cured salted Meat, brings in the Water Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so you can add in the Cayenne or Chili Sauce or use a spicy Chorizo Sausage. I just made Tea my beverage to bring in the Fire Element. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Hawaiian Style Butter Mochi Cake

I made a Butter Mochi Cake for my Master Face Reading Program students last November and I promised I would post the recipe. Clearly, you can see that I forgot to do that until I made it again yesterday.  So here, finally, is the recipe!  For those of you who don't know, Butter Mochi Cake is a Gluten Free Cake made with Sticky Rice Flour or Mochiko. This cake has Butter in it as you can see from the name, but also full fat Coconut Milk. It's a bit like a chewy pudding and it's so good!  It puffs up a lot while cooking and then sinks back down when it cools. 

I got my recipe years ago from a Hawaiian friend I worked with and it's a pretty standard recipe. I weigh the Mochiko instead of measuring it, as it's much more accurate, and I use a little less Vanilla Extract, as I like that flavor to be subtler.  You can also add ingredients like Matcha if you like. It keeps for up to 4 days and freezes well too. t's the cake I often make for family birthdays these days and if you haven't had it yet, you need to make this unusually delicious Hawaiian cake!

Hawaiian Style Butter Mochi Cake

8 ounces of Mochiko (Sticky Rice Flour) - 1 packed cup

2 teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 large Eggs

1 cup Sugar

1 can full fat Coconut Milk
4 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1 - 1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.  
In a mixing bowl, stir together the Mochiko, Baking Powder and Salt. Set aside. 

In a Food Processor or Stand Mixer, mix together the Butter and Sugar until it is creamy. Then add in the Coconut Milk, Eggs and Vanilla until fully combined.

Add the Mochiko mixture, scraping down the bowl several times. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 - 65 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown and springs back very lightly when you press it. Let cool and cut into 12 squares

Five Element Analysis

Because it's a sweet Cake, you know that it's an Earthy food, but surprisingly, there is a lot of Metal in this dessert!.  It comes from the Coconut Milk, the Butter, the Sticky Rice Flour and the Vanilla Extract so it's a great dessert to add to a meal that is missing the Metal Element.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sweet and Sour Beets and Chard

I love that it's easy to buy already cooked Beets at the grocery store, because sometimes I just don't feel like waiting for them to cook in boiling water or in the oven. I was happy to find them and I also wanted some greens. Now, when you buy Beets fresh, they often have some Beet Greens attached, but never enough in my opinion. Chard is in the same family as Beets, so I bought a bunch to add to the Beets. First, I sautéed some Red Onion until is was lightly caramelized and then added in the Chard and then the cooked Beets. The sautéed Onions and Beets are naturally sweet, so I seasoned it all with a bit of Salt and some Rice Wine Vinegar. It was so good!

Sweet and Sour Beets and Chard

4 - 6 small cooked Beets, cut into slices (about 2 cups)
1 bunch Chard, washed, removed from the stem and cut into wide shreds
1/2 large Red Onion, sliced thin and cut into about 1-1/2 inch lengths
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar

Heat the Oil in a frying pan. Add in the Red Onion and cook until they are lightly browned.  Add in the Chard and cook until they just start to wilt. Add in the Beets and cook, stirring often until they are hot. Sprinkle with the Salt and Rice Vinegar and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Beets belong to both the Fire and Earth Element because they are Red and Sweet. The Chard contributes the Wood Element and the Rice Vinegar adds even more. The Onions bring in the Metal Element with a touch of Earth too. So both the Water and Metal Elements are missing. If you serve this as a side dish, be sure to add a dish or two made up of ingredients from those elements. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Wing Drumettes

I found a package of Chicken Wings Drumettes in the freezer that needed to be cooked and there was a Seahawks playoff game to watch. I didn't have much time, so I quickly unthawed them and used the technique of broiling the Chicken Wings from my cookbook (coming very soon!) that involved saucing them with a wonderful Apricot Chili Sauce. But I didn't have any Apricot Jam and I remembered that my son had mentioned that the Apricot Chili Sauce tasted a bit like Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and decided to use that as the sauce. I sprinkled the Chicken Wing Drumettes with some Salt and Pepper and broiled them quickly and tossed them with the Thai Chili Sauce. The Seahawks unfortunately did not win but the Chicken Wing Drumettes were delicious!

Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Wing Drumettes

1 pound of Chicken Wing Drumettes
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
3/4 - 1 cup Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (I used the Mae Ploy brand)

Heat the oven to broil. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a sheet pan. Place the Drumettes on the foil and space evenly. Sprinkle with the Salt and Pepper.

Broil for 10 - 12 minutes on one side or until golden and then turn and broil on the other side. Remove from the oven and place in a serving bowl.  Pour the sauce over and toss thoroughly. 

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element. The Chilis in the Sweet Chili Sauce add the Fire Element and the Sugar in the sauce contributes the Earth Element. The Metal and the Water Element need to be added and we did that by serving an Asian inspired Eggplant Dip with Rice Crackers to create some Five Element balance. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Simplest Cucumber Salad

I was just down in Los Angeles taking care of my Mother's things, since she died three months ago. I did a kind of a pilgrimage and went to many of her favorite restaurants while I was there. One of them is a little place called Sue's Kitchen in Torrance. There are very few tables and one of the best things there is their cold plates. I like to order the Cucumber Salad and the Tofu Skins with Celery and also the Peanuts (previous post). I was talking to the cook and asked him about his recipe for the Cucumbers and he told me it was just Salt and toasted Sesame Oil cut with a little bit of Vegetable Oil. That's it!  I've always loved these Cucumbers and somehow thought it was more complicated, but it's not. The other trick is to use small Persian Cucumbers and cut them in a roll cut. This means you trim off the ends at a slight angle and then turn the Cucumbers a half turn and cut again at the diagonal making about 1-1/2 inch chunks and you just repeat until you've cut it all up. Then you salt them and drizzle them with the Sesame Oil and Vegetable Oil and toss. The advantage of this very simple dressing is that the Cucumbers taste really fresh and frankly, more like Cucumbers than just a bland salad ingredient. They taste better if you let them sit for a while. I think you'll be surprised how good these Cucumbers taste!

Simplest Cucumber Salad

4 Persian Cucumbers
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon toasted Sesame Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil (I used Sunflower)

Trim the ends of the Cucumbers with a slight diagonal cut. Then roll each Cucumber 1/2 turn and cut at an angle to make a 1-1/2" piece. Repeat until all the Cucumbers are cut up.  Place the Cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with Salt. Toss to coat. Then add in the Sesame Oil and Vegetable Oil and toss again. Let sit for 20 minus up to overnight before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Cucumbers belong to the Earth Element. The Sesame Oil and Salt contribute the Water Element, but this is clearly so Earthy that it's a very good dish to add to any meal that's mission that element.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


        Happy New Year!  

I usually make something each year that symoblizes good luck on New Year's Day and almost all of them involve greens or round foods. So, I decided to make Okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese Savory Pancake - it's round and it's full of Green Cabbage. It's one of those foods that I am very fond of due to my childhood in Japan and I wanted to make a Gluten Free version. It turned out to be remarkably easy!

I used chopped Green Cabbage, sliced Green Onion and  a little bit of ground Pork seasoned with Tamari and Mirin.  I made a batter out of a Gluten Free flour blend that included Xanthan Gum (Cup4Cup) and mixed it with Chicken Broth and an Egg. It's usually made with a Dashi Broth, but I am all out of Bonito Flakes. Cooked in a frying pan, it only takes about 20 minutes. I brushed it with a mixture of Bulldog Fruit and Vegetable Sauce, which is a Gluten Free version of Katsu Sauce mixed with Kewpie Mayonnaise. It was so good and I'm happy it is a lucky food too!


4 cups Cabbage, chopped fine
1 - 3 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend (including Xanthan Gum or add 1 teaspoon)
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 Egg
1/2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/4 pound Ground Pork
1/2 Tablespoon Tamari
1/2 Tablespoon Mirin

For Sauce: mix together 1-1/2 Tablespoons of Bulldog Fruit and Vegetable Sauce and 1 Tablespoon of Kewpie Mayonnaise

In a small bowl, mix together the Pork, Tamari and Mirin. Mix to blend thoroughly. In a larger mixing bowl, combine the Cabbage, Green Onions, Gluten Free Flour Blend, Chicken Broth and Egg. Stir to combine. 

Heat a 10" nonstick frying pan on medium heat and add in the Pork. Cook until no longer pink. Remove from the heat and blend the Pork into the Okonomiyaki batter. Then heat the Oil in the same frying pan and pour in the batter. Press down lightly with a spatula. Cover and cook for 7 - 9 minutes or until the bottom is browned when you lift up the edges. Place a plate over the pan and turn over carefully. then slide the Okonomiyaki back into the pan (uncooked side down) and cook for an additional 7 - 9 minutes. Wash and dry the plate and then slide the Okonomiyak onto the plate. Brush with the sauce mixture and cut into 8 pieces to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element. The Green Onion and Rice Flour in the Gluten Free Flour as well as the Mayonnaise contribute the Metal Element. The Chicken Broth adds the Wood Element and the Pork and Egg bring in the Water Element. and the Bulldog Fruit and Vegetable Sauce, being Dark Brown adds a little more. Only the Fire Element is missing so be sure to serve this savory snack with some Green Tea!