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) 

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

Okonomiyaki


        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!

Okonomiyaki

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!