Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Cranberry Sauce with Asian Flavors







It is Thanksgiving here tomorrow in the US and we've started preparing. My son, Stephen has decided that we are going to do an Asian version of all the standard dishes. So, for the main course, we are having Lacquered Roast Duck with Sticky Rice cooked with Chinese Sausage, Green Onions, Water Chestnuts and Ginger (previous post). For the vegetable, we are making Green Beans with King Oyster Mushrooms and fried Shallots. There will also be an Asian Hasselback Potato dish too and we haven't decided on the other vegetable, but it will most likely be a Cucumber Salad (previous post).

I decided today to make an Asian inspired Cranberry Sauce, a bit more savory than the usual and flavored with Five Spice Powder. I use the Dynasty brand and it is made up of the following warming spices:  Cinnamon, Star Anise, Fennel, Cloves, Ginger, Licorice, Szechuan Pepper and White Pepper. There are obviously more than 5, but the first 5 are the most important. These spices aid digestion and are ubiquitous in Chinese cooking. I've always thought of the popularity of Five Spice Powder in Chinese cooking as the equivalent of Pumpkin Spice in the US, only savory!  

To make this Cranberry Sauce, I first sautéed some Shallot, added in some diluted Chicken Broth (or you can use Vegetable Broth), the Five Spice Powder, Rock Sugar and a little Sea Salt too. I used half as much Sugar as is usual and the bit of Salt helps balance it all. The Rock Sugar isn't absolutely necessary, but it is a bit less sweet than either Brown Sugar or White Sugar. I buy the light golden colored Rock Salt and use it for many Asian dishes so it's worth having it around. When using Brown or White Sugar, use just a bit less. I absolutely loved this Sauce and will probably make it every year from now on. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Sauce with Asian Flavors

 

12 ounces fresh Cranberries

¼ cup minced Shallots

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1 cup diluted Chicken or Vegetable Broth (½ cup Water and ½ cup Broth)

½ cup Rock Sugar 

½ teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Five Spice Powder

 

Rinse the Cranberries in a strainer and pick out any soft ones and rinse. In a small saucepan, heat the Oil and add in the Shallots. Cook, stirring often until you can smell their fragrance and then add in the Cranberries, Broth, Rock Sugar, Salt and Five Spice Powder. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the Cranberries pop and the sauce thickens, about 10 - 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use. 


Five Element Analysis


Cranberries, with their bright red color, belong primarily to the Fire Element. But they are also very tart, which contributes the Wood Element and the Broth adds even more. The Shallots and Five Spice Powder make sure the Metal Element is present and the Rock Sugar makes sure the Earth Element is there too. Only the Water Element is missing, which can easily be found in one of the other dishes on the table and is why this sauce is perfect for Duck!


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Turnip Puree


 





Turnips are not considered a very exciting vegetable, but I want to champion them a little. I wrote a previous blog post about Turnip Fries that I know a lot of people have liked and today I want to give Turnips just a bit more respect by showing you how great they are as a base for the rest of the plate. Pictured is Stephen's version of Asparagus and Steak with Chimichurri Sauce plated over Pureed Turnips. I made the same Turnips, but I topped it with Salmon and Peas. And unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo. 

Like Mashed Potatoes, cooked Turnips have a very mild flavor that doesn't interfere with the other flavors of the dish. They are also very nutritious. I cooked them in Chicken Broth, although Vegetable Broth is good too and then mashed them with a Potato Masher and of course added a couple of Tablespoons of Butter. So, I should probably call my version Mashed Turnips. Stephen made his silkier by putting them in the Cuisinart. And these Turnips are so easy to make. You can add Broth back in if you need to make the Puree smoother and thinner, but I didn't need any. There will be extra broth left over, which is great for soup. Either way you make them, I think you will be surprised how good Pureed Turnips taste!

Turnip Puree

3 large Turnips, peeled and cut into chunks

4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth

3 - 4 Tablespoons Salted Butter

Pour the Broth into a medium pan. Add in the Turnips and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the Turnips from the pot, reserving the Broth.

Ad Butter to the Turnips and mash a fork or potato masher or put into the food processor. Add in a little broth if necessary. Plate as the base layer for your other foods or eat as is!

Five Element Analysis

Turnips are a root vegetable, which automatically makes them a part of the Earth Element. But they are also a bit pungent and white and that makes them a part of the Metal Element too. And the Butter adds even more Metal. The Broth brings in the Wood Element.  Only the Water and Fire Elements are missing, so be sure to have foods from those elements in your meal.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Brown Butter









I was out looking at my container garden and realized that I had lots and lots of Sage and hadn't cooked with it at all this year. Of course, I will use some for Thanksgiving, but really felt like I needed to make something with it today. I had a Butternut Squash sitting on the counter and decided to make a soup that has the flavors of Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage. I put the Butternut Squash in the microwave first for a few minutes to make it easier to cut and then after I cut it and scooped out the seeds, I roasted it for 45 minutes. This is best done ahead of time and you can store the cooked Squash in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  

When I was ready to make soup, I lightly browned some Butter in a soup pot and added in some Shallots and Sage until they were soft and the Butter was even more golden brown. I pulled out the Sage leaves and then added in some diluted Chicken Broth and cooked it all together for only 20 more minutes. You might need to add more Broth if you have a bigger Butternut Squash. After that, I pureed it with a stick blender and added in a teaspoon of ground Sage and stirred it in. It was so good!  Creamy and smooth with a wonderful savory note from the Sage and a lovely nutty flavor from the Browned Butter. I thought about serving it with some cooked and crumbled Breakfast Sausage or some minced Ham, but it was just so good the way it was. And you could also reimagine this as a pasta sauce too. This is going to become a new favorite!

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Brown Butter

1 small Butternut Squash

6 Tablespoons Butter

2 large Shallots, minced or about 1/2 cup of minced Onion

12 fresh Sage Leaves

3 cups of Chicken or Vegetable le Broth 

2 cups Water

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon ground Sage

Optional for Serving: 1/2 cup Breakfast Sausage, cooked and cut up if links or cooked and crumbled or 1/2 cup minced Ham

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the Butternut Squash all over with a sharp knife. Place in the microwave for 5 minutes. Then cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and when cool, peel off the skin and cut in to chunks. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to make the soup, melt the Butter in a soup pot. Cook, stirring until the Butter just starts to turn a light golden brown. Then add in the Sage and Shallots (or Onion) and cook until the Butter is a darker golden color. Pick out the Sage leaves. Then add in the Chicken Broth, Water and Salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Then add in the ground Sage. Take off the heat and puree it with a stick blender. Serve with extra Sage leaves for decoration or stir in the cooked Sausage or Ham.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always considered part of the Water Element, but this one is made with a very Earthy vegetable (really a fruit) that is also a beautiful yellow orange color. If you serve it with Sausage ro Ham,  you add more of the Water Element, as they are both salty meats. The Chicken or Vegetable Broth brings in the Wood Element. The Butter and Sage contribute the Metal Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so it would be good to serve a salad with it to create a balance or serve at the beginning of a meal that also has other Fire foods in it.

 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Coconut Caramel Sauce


 










I've been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time as I made it last for a dinner party (back when we could have or go to dinner parties) as a Caramel Sauce to pour over Brownies.  One of the other guests there was Lactose Intolerant so I knew that this Coconut Caramel Sauce would be a big hit. I have to admit that I used a packaged mix for the Brownies (Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix) but it's actually very good and the Coconut Caramel dresses it up so much. I also added some Maldon Sea Salt to the Caramel to give it more depth of flavor. Instead of Butter, I use Coconut Oil and instead of Cream, I use Coconut Cream from the top of the can of regular Coconut Milk. I'll use the rest of the Coconut Milk tomorrow in a Thai Curry. Oh my, this Coconut Caramel Sauce is so good!  I'm going to slice and peel some apples and dunk to my heart's content!  After all, it is Halloween and Caramel Apples, in a more refined way, are a must at my house. Happy Halloween!

Coconut Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup Sugar

2 Tablespoons Hot Water

2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

2 Tablespoons Coconut Cream (from the top of the Can)

1/8 teaspoon or more flaky Sea Salt

In a small pot, add in the Sugar and Hot Water. Stir to combine and place on the stove. Cook, stirring until the Sugar is melted. Then turn up the heat to medium and cook (not stirring) for about 7 - 8 minutes, or until the Caramel is a golden brown color. Add in the Coconut Oil, Coconut Cream and Salt and whisk to combine. Take off the heat and let cool in the pan for 3 - 5 minutes and then pour into a bowl, on top of brownies or put into a container and store in the fridge. If refrigerated, reheat slightly before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

This is an Earth dish, through as it is sweet and Coconut is considered an Earth food too. The fact that the Coconut Milk and Oil are white adds just a bit of Metal and the tiny bit of Salt makes sure the Water Element is there too, but barely. That's why this Caramel Sauce is so good over Brownies as the Chocolate is so Fiery.. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Red Cooked Pork with Napa Cabbage

 









Red Cooking is a classic Chinese braising technique that really just means that you cook meat of tofu in Soy Sauce, or in this case, Tamari. It is a slow way of infusing food with the Umami flavor. I previously posted a version using Pork Belly that was my Mother's recipe, but I wanted a slightly more savory version and I decided to add in some Napa Cabbage and served it along with some Rice. I used boneless Pork Shoulder that I bought as Steaks and cut it up into smallish pieces and cut away most of the fat. This sauce also works for Chicken Things and Tofu although the cooking time will be much shorter (one hour for Chicken and 30 minutes for Tofu) and you will have a lot of extra sauce so use half as much for Tofu. I just put everything in the pot and cooked it a while. I thought it was the perfect meal for this cold Autumn evening and I loved smelling it cooking on the stove and it was delicious. It reminded me of my Mother's  in the best of ways.

Red Cooked Pork with Napa Cabbage

1-1/2 pound of Pork Shoulder, cut into cubes (or Chicken Things or Tofu)

4 cups Water

1/2 cup low sodium Tamari (used a little less if using regular Tamari or Soy Sauce)

1/2 cup Rice Wine

1/2 yellow Onion, chopped

4 - 5 Green Onions, white part only

a 1" chunk of Ginger, needed and cut in half

1 Tablespoon of Rock Sugar (or Light Brown Sugar)

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder

6 - 8 whole Napa Cabbage leaves, bottom trimmed off and cut into 1" pieces

In a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot, add in all ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for two hours for Pork or one hour for Chicken, or until the meat is tender. Add in the Napa Cabbage and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with steamed Rice. 

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and so does the Tamari. The Rice Wine contributes the Fire Element. The Napa Cabbage, since it is a leafy green, brings in the Wood Element and the Onions and Rice along with the Five Spice Powder make sure that the Metal Element is present too. There's only a little bit of the Earth Element, from the Sugar and Ginger, So serve a lovely Earthy dessert to create a balanced meal. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Dill Potato Salad










I've been having some fun with the unexpected substitutions that I've been finding in my grocery orders. And yesterday, I received a really big bunch of Dill, which was apparently a substitution for Parsley. Now I love Dill, but I certainly didn't need that much and I've been thinking about the different ways I could use it. Of course, I could make my Tuna Salad with Dill and I could also make an Herbed Tahini Dip. But, because I had Salmon for dinner, I decided to make a Dill Potato Salad. Dill is wonderful with Seafood of all kinds, but it's not usually something I add to my Potato Salad. But I did have a wonderful Dill Potato Salad at a Potluck a few summers ago. However, it contained Sour Cream and since I don't do dairy, I never tried to make it myself until today. I wanted to replicate that tangy flavor in a dairy free version. 

So, I used two kind of Mayonnaise combined that are a bit tangy - Sir Kensington and Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise. Both are very rich because they are made with Egg Yolks and both are delicious. But, if you don't have either one of those kinds of Mayonnaise, just use what you have but add a splash of Vinegar. I also added in some Dijon Mustard, a little Salt, a bit of Sugar, some Celery and Red Onion and of course Dill. I thought about using some Green Onion and I may try that next time. I added in some Dill Pickles for extra crunch.  I made it earlier in the day so that the flavors would meld and so it would be ready when the Salmon was cooked. I was so pleased with how it turned out and it was absolutely delicious! I think this is an especially good Potato Salad to accompany a Seafood Dinner and I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to add in chunks of the cooked Salmon so I can have it for lunch tomorrow.

Dill Potato Salad

6 small to medium Potatoes, washed (equals about 4 cups when peeled and cut up)

3 - 4 stalks of Celery (about 1-1/2 cups), cut into small pieces

1/2 cup minced Red Onion

1/4 cup (loosely packed) Dill, minced

1 cup of a tangy Mayonnaise (or add 1/2 teaspoon of Vinegar or Pickle Juice to your Mayo)

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1 teaspoon Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Optional:  1/2 cup chopped Dill Pickles

Place the Potatoes in a pot and cover with Water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Remove and cool slightly and then peel with a paring knife. Cut into small cubes and place in a mixing bowl. Add in the Celery, Onions, Dill and Pickles.

In another bowl, mix together the Mayonnaise, Mustard, Sugar and Salt. Stir to combine and then add to the Potato mixture Toss to coat the Potatoes thoroughly Place in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element, but the Celery brings in the Wood Element. The Red Onions and Mustard contribute the Metal Element and the Dill adds some more since it is a pungent herb, but it also considered part of the Wood Element since it is a green herb. The Pickles add even more Wood. So, this really is a good side dish to Seafood, which is from the Water Element and make sure that there is a dish that contains the Fire Element to with the meal too, like a lettuce salad or a red fruit dessert to create balance.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Gluten Free Peach Galette


 






While I have been cooking a lot lately, I haven't been feeling very creative so I've been making all my standbys, most of which have been previous posts. However, I recently made a lovely dessert that I thought I would share with you. I had two, big, beautiful Peaches that I had delivered in my grocery order and then I forgot to eat them. They were just a little on the too soft side for eating out of hand, but perfect for making a pie. But, I made a Galette instead. This is  and rustic. When you make one with a regular Pie Crust, it can be baked on a sheet pan. But, when you are working with Gluten Free Pie Dough, it helps to have a little support since you are missing the Gluten that makes the dough elastic. So, I cooked it in an 8 x 8 inch glass pan instead. I used only a little Sugar as I like my fruit to be sweet. You can use more and you can leave it out if you want to. Make sure you toss the Peach slices in some cornstarch or the filling will get too runny. And bake until the crust is golden brown and the Peaches and their juice are bubbling. Oh my, this dessert is good!  

Gluten Free Peach Galette

For Peach Filling:

 

2 large Peaches (equals about rounded cups peeled and slicced

2 Tablespoons or more Sugar

2 heaping Tablespoons Cornstarch

Optional:  pinch of Cinnamon and.or Nutmeg

 

Peel and slice the Peaches. Place in a large mixing bowl and mix in the Sugar, Cornstarch and Spices (if using). Pour into the prepared dough.

 

Gluten Free Pastry Dough

 

1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour Blend (with Xanthan Gum or add 2 teaspoons)

½ cup cold Butter, Lard or Vegetable Shortening

1 large Egg
2 teaspoons Sugar

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

1/3 cup Ice Water

 

In a food processor (or large mixing bowl), mix together the Flour, Sugar and Salt. Then add in Butter, Lard or Shortening. Pulse until it is incorporated (or use a pastry cutter or two forks). Then add in the Egg and Cold Water and mix until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill until cold (about 30 minutes). 

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan. Then lightly dust a cutting board and rolling pin with a little extra gluten free flour. Roll out the dough into a large square of about 10 x 10 inches. Using a dough scraper, carefully pick up the dough and lay into the baking pan. Don’t worry if it cracks, you can fix it by pushing it together once it’s down in the pan. Push the dough into the corners and pour in the Peaches. Pull down the extra dough over the edges of the peaches.

 

Place in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or cool.  


Five Element Analysis


Peaches are a mostly fiery fruit with their beautiful pink and orange colors (which also makes them a bit Earthy) and because they look like hearts. The Sugar adds in more of the Earth Element. The Gluten Free Flour Blend I use is made mostly of Rice Flour, which belongs to the Metal Element and also some Tapioca Starch, which contributes more to the Earth Element.  The Egg adds some Water. But the Wood Element is not present, so this is a good dessert to serve after a meal that has foods from that element.  

 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Sauteed Cabbage with Southeast Asian Flavors


 








Cabbage is a very underrated vegetable and I think it should be appreciated much more. For me, it's a must have vegetable in my fridge and I use it in salads, soups and stir-fries. Besides being very nutritious, it's really delicious.  I think it gets a bad reputation from the time when people boiled it as the way of cooking it can definitely bring out a distinct sulfurous smell, as is the case with many of the Cruciferous vegetables. But cooked lightly and quickly, Cabbage is delightful! My usual favorite way to cook it is to sauté it quickly. I usually season it with a bit of Tamari, Rice Vinegar and Sugar to make a lightly Sweet and Sour Chinese version. But, last night I used Southeast Asian flavors instead and I loved it! I used some Fish Sauce, Tamari and a squeeze of Lime to finish it off. I also added some Green Onions and it was so good!  Now, I will admit that Fish Sauce has a fragrance that is a little off-putting when it hits a hot pan but it fades quickly. But, the wonderful Umami flavor is worth it. This dish is going to become part of my Cabbage repertoire from now on!

Sauteed Cabbage with Southeast Asian Flavors

1/2 head of Green Cabbage cut into about 1" pieces

4 - 5 Green Onions, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I use Safflower)

2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce

2 Tablespoon Tamari

pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Juice of one small or 1/2 of a large Lime

Heat the Oil in a wok or frying pan. Add in the Green Onions and Cabbage and stir until the Cabbage softens and the edges just start to brown.  Add in the Fish Sauce, Tamari and Pepper.  Stir to combine. Take off the heat and add the Lime Juice. 

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element as it has a sweet flavor when cooked, but because it also has some pungency, contributes a little Metal too. The Tamari and Fish Sauce, both being quite salty, add in the Water Element. The Lime Juice brings in just a hint of the Wood Element and the Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present. While this isn't intended to be a completely balanced dish, it does have some of all the Elements, but is especially good when added to a meal that needs more Earth. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk




In these strange times of lockdown, a lot of people are craving comfort foods from their childhood.  I recently decided to remake one of my old favorites - Jello with Milk. My family wasn't big on desserts and this is one of the few things that my Father made for us, so there are some happy memories associated with it. And, the other reason I made it is that I realized that my Father died 40 years ago on September 13th, so I made this new version in his honor. 

I've long avoided my formerly loved Red Jello because of my reaction to food coloring and as an adult, I definitely developed a lactose intolerance. So this new version uses natural Gelatin, from either Beef or Pork, or you can use Agar Agar for a vegan option. And, I made the Jelly with Mango Juice and substituted lightly sweetened Coconut Milk. You can make the Coconut Milk as sweet as you like and you can sweeten the juice if you like too. I used superfine Sugar as it dissolves easier and this can easily be made by pulsing regular sugar in a food processor for a bit. If you use regular sugar, you may want to heat the Coconut Milk to help the Sugar dissolve, but be sure to cool it before serving. This recipe can also be adapted using all different kinds of juice. I was going for the tropical flavors and I happened to have Mango Juice in my fridge.  I have to admit that I still absolutely love this dessert!  I miss my Father to this day, but I have so many good memories. Like Proust and his Madeleines, this is one of my good food memories, all grown up!

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk

2 cups Mango Juice

1 Tablespoon Gelatin (I used Pork Gelatin)

1 can of Coconut Milk

1 - 3 Tablespoons Sugar (superfine if possible)

Take 1/2 cup of Mango Juice and sprinkle in the Gelatin, whisking to combine. Let it bloom for 5 minutes and it will end up looking somewhat curdled. 

In the meantime, Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of Mango in a small pan and heat until just before it starts to boil. Pour in the bloomed Gelatin and stir to combine. Pour into a small square or rectangular pan, cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

When ready to serve, open the Coconut Milk (and Cream on top) and pour it into a bowl. Whisk in the Sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, tasting with each addition, and stir until it is dissolved. Or if using regular Sugar, heat until the Sugar is dissolved and then cool before serving. 

Unmold the Gelatin and cut into cubes. Pour Coconut Milk into 3 - 4 small bowls and add the Mango Cubes on top.

Five Element Analysis

Even though this dessert is not that sweet, it is very Earthy as tropical fruits, both the Mango and the Coconut belong to the Earth Element. However, there is a bit of the Metal Element in Coconuts as well as Coconut Milk is white and Gelatin involves cartilage, which is part of the Wood Element. If you use Agar Agar, you have added the Metal Element. This is clearly not a balanced dish by itself, but adds some Earth to whatever meal you serve it with. 


Monday, August 31, 2020

Tofu and Vegetable Scramble


 







I had some veggies and leftovers languishing in my fridge and needed to use them up. So, I made a Tofu Scramble and added them in. My good friend Deirdre often makes Tofu Scrambles for us when we travel to our classes and stay in an Airbnb.  So, I took one of her tricks, which is to use Turmeric to color the Tofu so that it looks so much more appetizing - it's also good for lowering inflammation. Besides the Tofu, I used a Leek, although you could easily use Onions or Shallots or Green Onions, and a half of a Red Pepper, along with some leftover Corn and a big handful of chopped Kale that was part of a vegetable delivery gift. I sautéed them all together and added a bit of Vegan Chicken Broth powder and some Tamari. It was delicious!  Not only did I clean out my fridge a bit (and throw in everything I could except the Kitchen Sink - as the saying goes), I made a wonderful dish just perfect for a healthy lunch, although it would be good for breakfast too!

Tofu and Vegetable Scramble 

1 package (14 ounces) Firm Tofu, drained and crumbled

1 Leek, green part cut off, cut in half, rinsed and then cut into small pieces (or 1/2 cup of chopped Onion or Shallots)

1/2 large Red Pepper, trimmed and cut into a small dice

1/2 cup of cooked (or frozen) Corn

2 cups chopped Kale or other Greens 

2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil (I used Sunflower)

1/2 Tablespoon of dried Turmeric

1/2 Tablespoon of Powdered (Vegan) Chicken Broth (I used Orrington Farms)

1 Tablespoon of Tamari or Soy Sauce

Fresh ground Black Pepper

In a wok or a large frying pan, heat the Oil and add in the Leek and Red Pepper. Cook until it just softens and add in the Tofu, Corn and Kale. Cook until the mixture is bubbling a lot, stirring often and the greens are wilted. Then add in the Seasonings and stir to combine. Taste and adjust, as necessary. Sprinkle with Pepper and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Tofu is part of the Metal Element and the Leeks add even more as do the spices in the Vegan Chicken Broth. Kale, as a dark green Vegetable contributes both the Water and Wood Elements and the Tamari brings in a little more Water. The Red Pepper and Black Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present and the Turmeric and the Corn add in the Earth Element. This, then, is a very balanced dish!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Roasted Ratatouille with Ventrache or Pancetta

 

I love making Ratatouille in the Summer when the Tomatoes are ripe. Today, I had my very first harvest of Plum Tomatoes and I was very excited. I was previously gifted with a lot of Zucchini and I almost always have an Eggplant in the fridge too, so it was time to make it! I think having ripe Tomatoes makes a huge difference as they are much sweeter.

Usually, Ratatouille requires the top sauce the vegetables separately before putting it together to cook in a sauce.  But this time I did something different! I decided to roast all the vegetables before putting them together. I used 3 different sheet pans - one small one for the Eggplant and another small one for the Tomatoes and one big one for the Zucchini, Red Onion and Red Pepper. I used Parchment to keep anything from sticking. Then I put them all in the oven after tossing them with Olive Oil and Salt and scooped whatever vegetable was done at 20, 30 and 40 minutes increments. When they were all done, I tossed them all together and added in some cooked Ventreche, which is the French version of Pancetta that I crisped in a frying pan while the vegetables were roasting. But you can leave it out if you are a Vegetarian. I like the extra saltiness and chewy texture it adds. This version of Ratatouille was so easy and so good that I'm going to make it this way from now on!


Roasted Ratatouille with Ventracche or Pancetta

1 medium Eggplant, ends cut off and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon Salt for the Eggplant
2 small or 1 medium Zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, stem cut off, seeds and membranes removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 large Red Onion, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes cut into a dice
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
Sprinkling of Black Pepper
1 cup of cubed Ventrache or Pancetta

Place the Eggplant into a bowl and salt it. Leave while you cut the other vegetables.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two 1/4 sheet pans and one 1/2 sheet pan with Parchment. Or use two 1/2 Sheet Pans but keep the Tomatoes and Eggplant separate
 
Rinse the Eggplant pieces and put the pieces onto one of the 1/4 sheet pans. Drizzle with 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and a little Salt and Pepper. 

Then put the Tomato on the other 1/4 sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil. Sprinkle with a little Salt and Pepper

Then put the Zucchini, Red Pepper and Onions on the 1/2 sheet pan separated a little and drizzle with the remaining Oil and sprinkle with the remaining Salt and a little Pepper.

Place all the sheet pans in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes before checking. 

In the meantime, cook the Ventrache or Pancetta in a small frying pan on the stove, rendering the fat and making it a little crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Remove the Onion pieces if the edges are starting to brown and place in a bowl. Cook the remaining vegetables for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Zucchini and place in the bowl. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and remove the Red Pepper and Tomato and put into the bowl. Cook for 5 more minutes and remove the Eggplant and add to the bowl. Add the Ventrache (or Pancetta) and toss to coat. Serve warm or cool.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant and Ventrache (or Pancetta) both belong to the Water Element. The Olive Oil contributes the Wood Element and the Tomatoes and Red Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present as well. The Zucchini brings in the Earth Element and the Onions round out the Elements by adding Metal. To me, this is the perfect light Summer meal and it's balanced too!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Zucchini Bread

 

I was given some Zucchini by a friend, as this is the season for lots of Zucchini to be harvested. And, one of the first things i make when I get those big late summer Zucchini is Zucchini Bread. This is a pretty standard recipe with the usual ration of 2 cups of Flour (I used King Arthur's Gluten Free Measure for Measure) to 1 cup of Sugar, although I used Brown Sugar as it makes the loaf more moist  and I then add some kind of fat - in this case I used Oil but you can certainly use melted Butter.  And, of course, I added in 2 Eggs to hold it together  I used Duck Eggs, which are bigger so i also cut back on the amount of Oil by about 2 Tablespoons. I also used a combination of Baking Soda and Baking Powder. Baking Powder is useful when there is no acid in the Batter, which is why I used a bit more, but Baking Soda helps brown baked goods, so I had to include it. I also do something a little different with the Zucchini. Of course, I grated it, but I removed the core of seeds first as I think they are mushy. That allows me to use a bit more Zucchini in the bread and I think that makes it moister. I added just a bit of Vanilla Extract and Cinnamon, as I usually do, but sometimes I will grate some Lemon Zest instead.  And, I like to sprinkle the top with a little Sugar in the Raw, mostly because it's pretty, but also because it gives it some crunch. So, if you have too much Zucchini, this recipe is for you!

Zucchini Bread

1 1/4 cups Grated Zucchini (cut in half and seeds scooped out before grating)
2 Eggs
3/4 cups neutral tasting Oil, like Sunflower or Safflower or Grape Seed
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups Gluten Free Flour 
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Sugar in the Raw

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Then scary a loaf pan with Oil.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the Zucchini, Eggs, Oil, Sugar and Vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the Flour, Baking Powder and Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon. Then add to the Zucchini Mixture. Stir to blend and pour into the loaf pan. Sprinkle evenly with the Sugar in the Raw.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before serving. It's even better the next day.

Five Element Analysis

As a Sweet Bread made with Sugar, this is going to be a part of the Earth Element. Zucchini adds even more Earth. It is actually a combination of Earth, since it is a squash, and the Wood Element since it is Green.  The Eggs and Oil (made from Seeds) bring in the Water Element. The Cinnamon, Vanilla, Baking Powder and Baking Soda bring in just a little of the Metal Element and the Gluten Free Flour, made mostly of Rice Flour adds even more So, add this as an afternoon snack with a cup of Tea or Coffee, which brings in the Fire Element. Or, serve it after dinner when you have a Fire food as a main dish, like a Summer Salad.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Lime Vinaigrette

I haven't been cooking much lately because it's been so hot. I've mostly been making Salads, most of which I've posted already. But yesterday I made a Salad Dressing that I really liked that I poured over a Salad made up of cooked, leftover Corn, Green Onion tops, bits of Ham and cut up Tomatoes. The Dressing contained most Lime Juice and Olive Oil with a spoonful of Coconut Aminos, which is a little bit like a very light Soy Sauce and a little minced Shallot too.  It was so good that I thought I would share it with you. Of course, I made it again today to use on a Cucumber Salad and it was also worked and I'm quite sure it would be good on Lettuce as well. If you don't haven any Coconut Aminos  you can substitute Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Tamari, but use a lot less. It's my new favorite Salad Dressing!

Lime Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Coconut Aminos (or Bragg's or Tamari)
1/4 teaspoon Salt  
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon of minced Shallot (or Red Onion)

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the Salad ingredients of your choice. 

Five Element Analysis

This Salad Dressing is predominantly made up of Wood Element ingredients - it's mostly  Lime Juice and Olive Oil. So this is a good Dressing to use on the Salad I prepared, as it contained Corn from the Earth Element, Tomatoes from the Fire Element, Shallots and Green Onions from  the Metal Element and Ham from the Water Element. I didn't do that on purpose, but it's wonderful that I ended up eating a balanced Salad!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Oven Roasted Duck Legs












I really enjoy Duck but I often forgot to make it. That's probably because I never had it much as a child, except when we had Peking Duck at a Chinese banquet and then it was more about the crispy skin than the meat. Later, I developed a real love for Roast Duck that I would buy at the Chinese Deli and would save the bones to make Thai Duck Noodle Soup. And although Duck was still a little harder to find, I started eating it more and usually bought at my local Asian Market. Lately I've been eating it a lot because I've been ordering it and having it delivered.

First I started buying Duck Breasts and pan searing them to render the fat and then finishing them in the oven, much like Steak. But last night, I decided to make Oven Roasted Duck Legs because I wanted to replicate Duck Confit for a salad. For those of you who've never made Duck Confit, it is Duck Legs (which also includes the Thigh) cooked in Duck Fat. I didn't have any Duck Fat, so I slow Roasted the Duck instead and the accumulated fat and juices basted the Duck Legs. It turned out so well. What I like about this recipe is that like Duck Breasts, you do start them in a frying pan to get the skin browned and then put the Duck Legs in a baking dish, pour in the rendered fat, cover them with foil and cook for 1-1/2 hours. Then you take off the foil and cook them for another 30 minutes until they've crisped up. You can use any number of herbs and spices along with some Salt. I went for the simplest Chinese version, which was just Salt mixed with a little Five Spice Powder. I ate one leg last night with some Chinese Plum Sauce, some Rice and a Cucumber Salad and I was very happy!  I used some of the leftover Duck in a Salad today and I'll make some soup tomorrow using the bones as a base for the broth. Duck is delicious!

Oven Roasted Duck Legs

4 Duck Legs
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Five Spice Powder

Heat the oven to 325 degrees

Mix together the Salt and Five Spice Powder in a little bowl.

Season each Duck Leg all over with 1/4 teaspoon of the Seasoning. Place each Duck Leg skin side down in a frying pan big enough to hold all 4 or cook them in two batches. Heat the pan to medium high for 7 - 8 minutes to render some fat and brown the skin, turn over and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Put the Duck Legs skin side up in a glass baking dish with enough room for them all to fit. Pour in the accumulated fat and cover with a piece of foil. Cook for 1-1/2 hours. Take them out of the oven, remove the foil and put back in for an additional 30 minutes. If you want the skin to be even crisper, you can turn the oven on to broil after you've drained off al the fat and juices. But only leave the Duck Legs under the broiler for a minute or two and be careful not to burn them. Serve with the sauce of your choice.

Five Element Analysis

Duck is considered a Water Element food and is used as a Yin tonic in Chinese Dietary Therapy. The Five Spice Powder brings in just a hint of the Metal Element, so build your meal around this very Watery food.


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Lomo Saltado - Peruvian Steak and Potatoes













I have a great love for both Steak and French Fries so any meal where they are served together makes me very happy!  Lomo Saltado goes a bit further and serves the Steak on top of the French Fries, which allows some of the Fries to get softened from the sauce of the dish. It's absolutely delicious!  It is a dish from Peru where a Chinese stir-fry met Peruvian Potatoes. It's part of the Chifa Cuisine of Peru. My Mom's Peruvian friend made it for me a long time ago and it became one my favorite dishes to make for many years. But like many things I used to cook, I completely forgot about it until recently when I was talking to my son about cooking frozen French fries and I told him how I used to use them for this dish.  Of course, I had to show him how good Lomo Saltado is and I am happy to say he loved it too!  

I do several things a little differently then the restaurant versions. First, I don't use the Aji Amarillo Chiles, as they are very hot. You can buy the paste online. My son added hot sauce to his, but I like mine not spicy. Also, I don't add Vinegar, even though it's traditional. However, I do use Soy Sauce (Gluten Free naturally) and I like to add a bit of Cumin too. It's usually made with a cut of Beef like a Sirloin Steak, but I used Bison Steaks instead. Be sure to use a wok if you have one, but a cast iron skillet is a good substitute.

Lomo Saltado actually a very simple dish, especially if you use frozen French Fries. They actually take the longest to cook. as once the Steak, Red Onion, Red Peppers and Tomatoes are cut up, it takes only minutes to cook it all in the wok.This dish is easily doubled if you are serving more people, but be sure to cook the meat 1/2 at a time to make sure it browns properly. Then you pile the French Fries on plates and serve the Steak on top. You can also serve it on the side if you want your French Fries to stay crispier and if you like, you can serve it with Rice too. It's so good!

Lomo Saltado - Peruvian Steak and Potatoes

1 pound of Steak (Beef or Bison)
1/2 large Red Onion, sliced thin (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 Red Pepper or a mixture of small Red, Yellow and Orange Peppers, trimmed and sliced
2 Roma Tomatoes, cut into wedges
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon Aji Amarillo Paste or Hot Sauce
Optional:  1 Tablespoon White Vinegar

Serve with 4 cups of French Fries, cooked in the oven until crisp.

Slice the Steak into 1/2 inch wide pieces. Dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with Salt and Pepper.

Heat a wok and add in 2 Tablespoons of OIl. Put in the Steak slices and let cook until it gets brown. Then turn the slices over with a spatula and cook the other side. Remove to a bowl.  Wipe out the wok and add the additional 1 Tablespoon of Oil. Then put in the Red Onion and Peppers. Cook until the Onions soften, about 2 minutes. Then add in the Tomatoes and  cook until the Onions just begin to brown and the Tomatoes are soft, about another minutes. Then add in the Cumin, toss it all together and then add in the Meat. Drizzle in the Soy Sauce and add the Hot Space and Vinegar, if using. Toss together again to blend all the ingredients and take off the heat. 

To serve:  Put the French Fries on plates and divide the Meat Mixture and the sauce and place on top or on the side of the Potatoes. Sprinkle with Cilantro to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and I think Bison probably does too. The Potatoes are also an Earth food. So overall, this is a very Earthy dish!  The Onions contribute the Metal Element along with the Cilantro. The Peppers, Tomatoes and Hot Sauce all bring in the Fire Element and the Soy Sauce adds the Water Element.  Only the Wood Element is missing except for the hint of it in the Cilantro, so be sure to serve a leafy green vegetable on the side.  


Monday, July 6, 2020

Miso Glazed Cauliflower











If I had to pick a favorite flavor, it would be a choice between Salty and Savory/Umami because I love them both. And some wonderful ingredients are both - like Miso. Besides making Miso into a delicious soup, I find it to be a wonderful glaze for roasted vegetables. I previously posted a recipe with Eggplant, but my son Stephen helped me create a more traditional Japanese style sauce. This sauce uses both Sake and Mirin, but if you only have Mirin, just reduce the amount of Sugar that you use. The little bit of Sugar is important though, as it what is needed for the sauce to caramelize a bit so don't leave it out. This is a very easy dish to make. All you have to do is roast the Cauliflower and while it is cooking, you whip up the sauce. Then for the last few minutes, you toss the Cauliflower in the sauce and put it back in the oven on the broiler setting until it is just beginning to char on the edges and even and the glaze is bubbly.  It's wonderful!

Miso Glazed Cauliflower

1 large head of Cauliflower
4 Tablespoons Miso Paste
2 Tablespoons Sake
2 Tablespoons Mirin (or double if not using Sake)
2 Tablespoons Sugar (use only 1 T if only using Mirin)
2 Tablespoons Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 425 degrees

Separate the Cauliflower into florets, cutting off the tough part of the stem. Rinse and drain. Place in a mixing bowl and toss with the Oil and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Pour onto a sheet pan and place the oven. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the florets are just starting to turn brown.

In the meantime, put the Miso, Sake, Mirin and Sugar into a small pan. Stir and heat until the mixture just begins to bubble and the Sugar is melted. Take off the heat and cool.

Remove the Cauliflower from the oven. Turn the oven on to broil.  

Put the Cauliflower back into the mixing bowl and pour the glaze over. Toss lightly to coat. Put the Cauliflower back onto the sheet pan and put into the oven. Cook for about 3 minutes or more until the sauce is bubbly and the ends of the Cauliflower start to char. Serve hot or cold.

Five Element Analysis

Miso is a salty and savory condiment that belongs to both the Water and Metal Element. Cauliflower is one of the few Metal vegetables, so this is a mostly Metallic dish. However, the Fire Element shows up in the Sake and Mirin. And because the Mirin is also sweet along with the Sugar, it brings in the Earth Element too. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this with another dish that incorporates Green Vegetables and whatever main dish you like to create a balanced meal!


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Sunflower Seed and Brown Rice Veggie Burger













I've always had a fondness for Veggies Burgers (except when they contain Cheese) and I had one particular favorite - Sunshine Garden Burgers. I've been ordering them during the lockdown from my local Health Food Store, but in the last order, they were out. I thought maybe I could replicate them and I did!  I'm quite happy with the results so I may not be ordering them much anymore. I checked the website for the ingredients of their Veggie Burgers and I had the ingredients except for Chives, so I replaced them with Onions and I think I might even like them better. I made the Brown in a regular Rice Cooker which takes a long time, but you could also easily cook the Rice in an Instant Pot in about 20 minutes. If you use freshly cooked Rice, the extra Water may not be needed. But if you use Rice that has been stored in the refrigerator, you will probably need to use the extra Water since refrigerating Rice dries it up. Other than that, you just process it all in a food processor and it takes no time at all to come together.

I don't bother putting them in a bun as I like to eat them straight out of the oven or out of the pan and I don't even use any condiments  Both cooking methods work but the oven method makes them a bit drier and gives them a more even crispiness, while the pan fried method keeps the burger much softer with a harder, crisper crust. I did cook them both ways, just to test it out. And, personally prefer the oven method. I'm so happy with these Veggie Burgers!

Sunflower Seed and Brown Rice Veggie Burger

1 cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
1 cup cooked Brown Rice
3/4 cup of chopped Carrots
½ cup chopped Celery
½ cup chopped shallot or Onion (if using Chives use ¼ cup less)
1 teaspoon Salt or Seasoned Salt
1 – 2 Tablespoons Water if needed
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil divided
Optional:  1/4 cup minced Chives

Turn the oven to 375 degrees

Process the Sunflower Seeds into a meal in the food processor. Then add in the Brown Rice, the Carrots, Celery, Onion and Salt.  Pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth. Check the texture. It should be a bit soft but sticks together when you try to make a ball. If it is too dry, add in 1 Tablespoon of Water, stir and check again. Add the additional Tablespoon of Water if necessary.

Drizzle a baking sheet with 2 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil. Using a 3 - 3 1/2 inch Ring mold, fill the ring mold to make 6 Veggie Burgers.  Brush the tops with the remaining Vegetable Oil and place in the oven.

Cook for 15 minutes and turn over. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with the condiments of your choice and in a bun if you want.

Or pan fry one or two at a time on medium high heat for about 5 - 6 minutes per side.

You can also freeze them, but place parchment on the baking sheet (don’t use the oil). When they are frozen solid, you can place them into freezer storage bags.  When you want to cook them, follow the directions above, but cook for another few 3 - 5 minutes.  












Five Element Analysis

White Rice belongs to the Metal Element, but Brown Rice adds in the Earth There is more Earth added from the Carrots. The Sunflower Seeds contribute the Water Element and the Onion brings in the Metal Element. The Celery makes sure that the Metal Element is also present. It’s a pretty balanced little Veggie Burger. Only Fire is missing, which can easily be added by serving this Veggie Burger with a side salad or a glass of Iced Tea.