Thursday, December 19, 2013


I'm pretty much done with the Christmas baking here in Seattle. I'm heading down to LA to visit my Mom tonight with tins of cookies for my Mom and her partner Ed and I doubt that I will make any more cookies while I am there, but we do have a family Christmas Eve dinner for all the relatives at my cousin's house that will be a buffet of Chinese food (and I will be making some) but I may get the urge to make a few of the cookies I didn't do this year. I usually make about 9 different kinds and so far I have given up at 6.  Last night, though, I made my son's favorite cookie and my Father's too - the Snickerdoodle.  Now this is an American classic cookie and can be made any time.  It's really just a puffy sugar cookie topped with cinnamon sugar.  It's perfect with a cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or milk and is a wonderfully simple and  homey treat.  I used to bake them small when my kids were little, and now prefer them bigger.  The only unusual ingredient is Cream of Tartar, which is worth buying because it lasts forever.  Kids love this cookie so you might want to add it to your list of Christmas cookies too!


2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of unsalted butter ( 2 sticks softened)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs

For Topping: 2 Tablespoons Sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons Cinnamon in a shallow bowl

Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together the flour, Cream of Tartar, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar (I use the Cuisinart).  Then add in the eggs and blend thoroughly.  Then add in the dry ingredients half at a time and mix until blended.  Break off pieces of the  cookie dough about the size of a walnut and roll in between your hands until it is a smooth ball.  Dip the ball of dough into the cinnamon sugar and place on the cookie sheet about 2 - 3 inches apart.  Press down to flatten the cookie with the bottom of a coffee mug or glass.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom edges.  Let cool and enjoy.

Five Element Analysis

Cookies are an Earth food because they are so sweet.  This one also has the added bonus of just a bit of cinnamon, which brings in the Metal Element along with the butter and Cream of Tartar.  The Water Element is represented in the Eggs and the Wood Element by the Wheat Flour. Only the Fire Element is missing, which is why serving these with coffee or tea is such a good idea!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Steak and Mushroom Savory Pastry

When I first visited New Zealand, I was quite taken by their savory pies and ate them frequently. I am quite sure they came with the immigrants from Cornwall and are a variation of the famous Cornish Pasties - the hand pies that the miners took to work to have for lunch. I particularly liked the steak and mushroom version so I decided to create it as an open-faced savory pastry instead. I had some Puff Pastry lingering in the freezer and some leftover rare roast beef. I combined that with some onions, fresh button mushrooms and made a quick gravy that became a wonderful snack that fed my son and his friend. It was a big hit and I will definitely be making this snack again!  

Steak and Mushroom Savory Pastry

2 cups cubed leftover roast beef (or 1/2 pound ground beef cooked)

1 small onion, minced
1/2 pound button mushrooms, washed, stemmed and sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup beef (or chicken) broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 frozen sheet of Puff Pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm) thawed

Heat the oven to 375 degrees

Melt butter in a large frying pan.  Add in the onion and cook until wilted. Add in the mushrooms and salt and saute until the mushrooms are soft. Add in the beef and toss to mix.  In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch into the broth and add to the pan. Cook until sauce is thickened. Take off the heat and cool until ready to use.

Spread the puff pastry on a large baking pan.  Roll the edges to form a ridge and then spread the meat mixture over the pastry to the edges.  Put into the oven and cook until the puff pastry is  browned - about 25 minutes.  

Five Element Analysis

Beef and mushrooms both belong to the Earth Element so this is fundamentally an Earthy snack.  The onions add some of the Metal Element and the wheat in the Puff Pastry contributes the Wood Element.  The Water and Fire Elements are missing so serve it with some tea or soda and perhaps another Watery snack like hummus and celery sticks to achieve balance. Otherwise, serve those elemental foods at another meal that day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Eve Tamales

It's time for me to get ready for Christmas and besides baking loads of cookies to give away, I also make Tamales.  I guess this is a side effect of growing up in Southern California, but to me it is an important food of the holidays.  I make them ahead of time and freeze most of them so that I can cook them. Most Mexican people have them for Christmas Eve, but I usually serve them on Christmas Day as my family does a Chinese banquet for that night. 

Tamales are pretty easy to make, but they look intimidating.  I think the hardest thing for most people to deal with is the lard (Manteca) that you have to use to make them. I know a lot of people who think that this kind of fat is bad for you, when in fact recent studies show that it is very healthy. It assists in making Vitamin D, is good for the skin, hair and nervous system and is seen in Chinese Medicine as an aid to keeping you warm in the winter. That's why so many Northern European countries include lard in some form as part of their winter food - such as Schmaltz spread on bread. So once you get over your fear of lard, you will realize what a good food it is!

Most of the ingredients for Tamales are readily available in most West Coast grocery stores, but in other places, you may need to find the corn husks and masa online or at Latin grocery stores. I usually make both pork and beef tamales.  They are made the same way and they are both delicious.  If you love tamales, I hope you will try to make them too.  

Christmas Eve Pork (or Beef) Tamales

1 package of corn husks soaked in cold water overnight

For Filling

3 pounds pork roast, cut into 4 – 5 big chunks (can also use chuck roast)
1 large onion, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic
3 whole New Mexico Chiles
10 cups water
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon of ground Cumin

Put pork in a large pot and cover with water.  Add in the onion, garlic clove and Chiles.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Occasionally skim off the foam that rises.  Cook for one hour and then season to taste with salt.  Continue to cook for 2 more hours.  Remove pork (or beef) and shred when cool enough.  Scoop out the onion, garlic and chiles.  Remove the tops of the chiles and then put them with the garlic and onions into a Cuisinart and puree with a small amount of broth to make a paste.  Add to the shredded pork (or beef) and mix thoroughly.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cumin if desired. Put pork (or beef) and broth aside until needed. 

For Masa:

4 cups Masa Harina
2 cups lard
3 – 4 cups of Broth from Pork
2 teaspoons salt

Put 4 cups of Masa in a stand mixer.  Add in the lard and mix until evenly distributed.  Add in enough broth from the pork to make a smooth paste

To Assemble Tamales:

Take one corn husk and lay flat with the narrower side closest to you.  Take a ball of Masa about the size of a small tangerine and press on the corn husk, about 2 inches from the top and bottom and at least ½ inch from the sides.  Place about 2 Tablespoons of pork in the center.  Take one side of the corn husk and roll over and tuck just before reaching the other of the masa and continue to roll until a packet is formed.  With the folded edge facing you, fold the narrow bottom of the corn husk toward the center and lay the tamale with the folded side down on a plate.  Repeat until all the masa and pork is used up. If desired, you can use little strips of torn corn husk to tie the tamales.

To cook:  

Place the tamales you want to eat immediately into a steamer basket with the fold side down (I used a Chinese Bamboo Steamer over a wok) and steam for 1 hour.  Freeze the remainder of the tamales and when ready to eat, steam for  5 – 10 minutes to warm them up or place in the microwave with a wet paper towel over the tamale.  Serve with Salsa Ranchero (February 14, 2012 post)

Five Element Analysis

Corn meal is a very Earth food so that element is covered.  However, the pork is a Water Food and the onions and garlic in the cooking broth and also in the salsa along with the Cilantro add in the Metal Element.  The Fire Element is present in the Chiles and the Tomatoes in the Salsa.  The pork and the method of cooking – steaming – also contribute a lot of the Water Element.  The Wood Element only shows up in the lime juice in the salsa but this element needs enhancing so be sure to serve these tamales with another Wood food, like a green vegetable to achieve balance.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Martin's Foam Cream Sauce for Strawberries and Meringue

This is a delightful sauce that is like a cross between a Sabayon (or Zabiglione) without any alcohol and a Pavlova. It's also a lot like what's called Eton Mess in England, but the creamy egg sauce is richer and I think a bit more sophisticated. It was served by Martin at my birthday party and I fell in love with it and have been meaning to share it with you ever since. If you want a special dessert sauce for strawberries, you need to try this one. It's fabulous!

Martin’s Foam Cream Sauce for Strawberries and Meringue

½ cup sugar
6 egg yolks (pasteurized)
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
4 cups of Strawberries, washed, trimmed and cut into half
1 Large Meringue (recipe below), broken into bite sized pieces (or use meringue cookies from Trader Joes)

Heat sugar until melted and barely caramelized (just turning color) and cool to room temperature.  Put into a large bowl. Then add to the egg yolks and beat until creamy.

Whip cream without sugar until soft peaks form.  Fold into the egg mixture very gently until just blended.

Break meringues into bite sized pieces and place at the bottom of serving dish.  Then pour the sauce over.  Drop in Strawberries and serve immediately.

Optional Variations:

Add 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules to whipped cream for Mocha Sauce
Add ½ teaspoon of grated orange peel to the whipped cream plus 1 shot of Grand Marnier to the Egg Sauce

Meringue Recipe

4 room-temperature egg whites

Pinch salt

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper.  Put egg whites and salt in a large bowl and whip with a mixer on medium until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until whites form stiff peaks.  Gradually add sugar while mixing and then increase the speed to high and beat until egg whites are stiff and shiny. Sprinkle cornstarch and vinegar over the egg whites and then gently fold them in.
Spoon meringue onto the parchment gently and create about a 10-inch circle.  Place in the middle of the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees.  Bake for one hour.  Then turn off the oven and leave meringue in until it is completely cooled off – this may take 3 – 4 hours.  
Five Element Analysis
Eggs belong to the Water Element so that element is covered as is the Earth Element since this is a sweet dessert. The strawberries bring in the Fire Element and the Cream brings in the Metal Element. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this after a meal that includes those kinds of food - like plenty of green vegetables or chicken.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Styrian Potato Salad

I visited Austria in September for a wonderful conference in Graz and afterwards I visited a friend in the Austrian wine country of Styria. One of the most famous food products of that area is Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seed Oil.  They permeate the cuisine in many dishes.  I ate at a little Gasthouse and had an amazing potato salad with my Styrian Fried Chicken and a wonderful white burgundy wine too.  I was so impressed with the flavor of the potato salad and I was given this one, but without amounts. It is basically composed of boiled potatoes, onion, pumpkin seed oil, white wine vinegar and toasted pumpkin seeds. Recently, one of my lovely students from Austria gave me a bottle of that wonderful Pumpkin Seed Oil. So, I recreated the potato salad at home and was delighted to have it turn out perfectly.  This is going to be one of the dishes at the Thanksgiving table as I like to add at least one dish from a different cuisine every year to keep things from getting too boring.  This is really a delightfully light salad with a mysterious yet delicious taste that you need to try.  Be sure to buy a really high quality pumpkin seed oil from a health food store, such as Whole Foods, and it would also really be good as drizzle on Butternut Squash soup. I'm looking for some more uses for Pumpkin Seed Oil as it is wonderful!

Styrian Potato Salad

6 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed
1 medium red onion, minced
1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar (White Balsamic is good)
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seed Oil
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds, toasted in a frying pan
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until the potatoes are tender when a knife is inserted (about 1/2 hour - 45 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes).  Meanwhile, marinate the onions in the vinegar in a large bowl.  When potatoes are ready, peel and cut into chunks.  Pour in vinegar and onions, add the Pumpkin Seed Oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with Pumpkin Seeds to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element so that element is covered.  Pumpkin Seeds belong to the Water Element, but the oil belongs to the Wood Element and the Vinegar adds even more.  The onion makes sure that the Metal Element is present. Only the Fire Element is missing so this would be a great side dish to a Fire meat, like lamb or if it also accompanies a green salad made with lettuce and tomatoes.  

Pear Muesli Crisp, Gluten Free

I love fruit desserts and one of my favorite ways to cook fruit is to make crisps and cobblers.  I also really love pears.  For one thing, they are a very metallic fruit, with a very subtle and refined flavor.  I ate them a lot as a child, poached with rock sugar as they are so good for coughs and colds and the throat in Chinese Medicine. I'm getting over a cold so it was time to make a pear dessert and of course, my first thought was to bake them as I wanted everyone else here in Copenhagen to enjoy the dessert as well and poached pears, unless they are poached in wine, are not usually something many people like as much as a crisp. I decided to make one that was gluten free and as luck would have it, I was out of oats, but I did have Gluten free Muesli based on oats as the main ingredient. I was concerned about the crumb topping being too sweet as Muesli is often sweetened a bit, but turned out wonderfully and everyone loved it plus I helped heal my throat!  Healing with food is wonderful because it is also a delicious way to get healthy!

Pear Crisp

8 pears, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 cups Muesli (gluten free)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups Muesli (gluten free - oat based)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Serve with:  yogurt mixed with honey, sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 9x9 baking dish or a large ceramic tart pan.  In a large bowl, stir together the pears, the sugar and the lemon juice. Pour into the baking dish.

In a bowl, stir together the Muesli, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.  Stir in the melted butter and use your fingers to blend in the butter.  Then spread the crumb mixture evenly over the pear filling. 

Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until the pears are tender.  Cool slightly and serve warm with yogurt and honey sauce.  Can also serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  

Five Element Analysis

Pears are a metallic fruit and the cinnamon adds even more of the Metal Element, so that element is covered. The almonds or walnuts bring in the Water Element. The lemon juice and yogurt contribute the Wood Element and the sugar and oats contribute the Earth Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so serve this dessert with coffee or tea for a balanced dessert!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beef, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

This soup was created about quite by accident and then ended up being so good that I had to write down the recipe so I could remember to make it again! It was the 4th day of my Master Face Reading Certification Program and my students were looking a little blood deficient. I wanted to make them a beef soup to build some blood. I had some ground beef and mushrooms on hand and planned on adding them to some barley, but I simply couldn't find any barley at the Irma store in Copenhagen. So I improvised and added wild rice instead.  It became this delicious, creamy and rich soup that was incredibly nourishing for my students.  This became a very requested recipe so I just had to post it.  

Beef, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

1 pound (500 g) lean ground beef
1 8 oz package of button mushrooms, washed, trimmed and cut into small pieces
4 large Portobello Mushrooms, washed, trimmed and cut into small pieces
2 stalks celery, washed, trimmed and cut into a small dice
2 large carrots or 4 small, washed, trimmed, peeled and cut into a small dice
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, trimmed, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 cups of wild rice
10 cups diluted beef broth (I used Beef - Better Than Bouillon about 2/3 strength)

Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste

For serving:  4 green onions, washed, trimmed and cut into small pieces for garnish

In a large soup pot, brown the ground beef with the onions, carrots and celery. Add in the beef broth and wild rice and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, melt the butter in a frying pan and add the mushrooms and Thyme.  Cook until softened and add to the soup.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 - 45 minutes - testing rice for doneness.  Taste and add salt, if necessary and add pepper.  Sprinkle with green onions when serving.

Five Element Analysis

Soup by nature is a Water Food so that element is covered.  Beef and Mushrooms belong to the Earth Element and so do carrots, so this is a very Earthy soup! Wild Rice is not a rice at all, but is actually the seed of a wild marsh plant so it actually belongs to the Wood Element and the celery adds even more.  The yellow and green onions add the Metal Element and this element is also enhance it even more. Only the Fire Element is missing, so be sure to serve this with a Fiery food, perhaps a salad or a Fire Fruit dessert if soup is enough for you as a main course. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lentil Soup

As you can tell, I am on a serious soup kick!  Partly because it is that time of year, but also because I have been teaching my students some pretty intense stuff and I believe that all need the rejuvenating properties that soup provides.  I'm feeding their brains and their stomachs.... I also have several vegetarian students and want to make sure they are happy too so I have been making one meat based soup and one vegetable based soup daily.  I'll finish posting all the recipes soon and the recipes have also been requested by the students so they can make them at home.  

This was the favorite of several of the vegetarian students (although I usually make it with chicken broth) and I left it chunky since I have cooked so many creamy soups this week.  However, it is also very good made smooth with a stick blender, if desired.  Lentils are a really nutritious pulse with a high protein content and this soup can be seasoned many ways - it holds up to curry powder and Middle Eastern spices too. I made it with a simple combination of onions, carrots and celery along with canned tomatoes, basil and bay leaf.  Once assembled, it can't be easier - just wait about 45 minutes and you will have a delicious and hearty soup - perfect for a cold fall day!

Lentil Soup

2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and picked through to remove any possible stones

1 large onion minced
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into a small dice
2 large stalks of celery, trimmed and cut into a small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 can (14.5 oz) chopped tomatoes
8 - 10 cups Vegetable Broth (can also use Chicken Broth) depending on how thick you like it
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 - 2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Optional:  Hot Sauce, such as Tabasco or Harissa for serving

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and add in the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook until vegetables are wilted.  Pour in the canned tomatoes, the vegetable broth and the herbs. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaves and serve with crusty garlic bread.

Five Element Analysis

Lentils are pulses, which belong to the Earth Element and the color also gives that away.  The carrots add even more Earth.  The onion, garlic and herbs add the Metal Element.  As a soup, this has some of the Water Element present intrinsically.  The Fire Element is represented by the Tomatoes and the Hot Sauce, if you use it and the Wood Element is present in the vegetable or chicken broth and is enhanced even more by the side of garlic bread. This soup then becomes a balanced Five Element Meal.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Coconut Squash Soup with Indian Flavors

This was another favorite soup of my students this last week. There is something very special about the mixture of coconut milk and squash and the Garam Masala brings in an exotic taste that is very intriguing.  I like to serve this soup to my students as squashes are very grounding and I think serving Earth foods helps information get processed.  It's very fast to make if you cook the Butternut Squash ahead of time - they can even be baked the night before.  After that it is done in only 1/2 hour and you will have a delicious soup that is rich, creamy, nutritious and nurturing too.  

Coconut Squash Soup with Indian Flavors

3 Butternut Squashes, cut in half, seeds removed and baked for 45 minutes at 400 degrees
2 onions
2 Tablespoons Butter or Ghee
2 cans Coconut Milk
8 cups Vegetable Broth (can also use Chicken Broth)
1 Tablespoon Garam Masala (can also use Curry Powder)
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and add in the onions - cook until they become translucent.  Scoop the butternut squash flesh away from the peel and add to the pot along with Coconut Milk and Garam Masala. Puree using a stick blender, taste and add salt and pepper.  Heat to boiling and then reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Five Element Analysis

Soup as always is a Watery Food, but squash belongs to the Earth Element as you can see from the rich yellow color.  The Coconut Milk adds even more Earth, so this is a very Earthy soup!  The vegetable or chicken broth brings in the Wood Element and the Garam Masala and Onions contribute the Metal Element.  The only hint of Fire is from the two peppers - Cayenne and Black so be sure to serve this soup with something Fiery - I think a lettuce salad with Tomatoes would be good to create a Five Element Balance.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Harira - Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Soup

My students really loved the Moroccan spices in this mysterious soup. The light scent of cinnamon and ginger whetted their appetites and there wasn't a single chickpea left at the end of lunch. This soup is commonly served all over the Arab world and is particularly popular as the soup served at night during Ramadan. It's quite easy to make if you use canned chickpeas, but I think that soaking and cooking the chickpeas ahead of time is just as easy and the texture of the chickpeas is much better.  Otherwise, it comes together very quickly.  This soup often contains lentils and noodles and is sometimes thickened with flour.  I like it better this way and I learned to make it from one of my Muslim friends. It is a deliciously exotic soup and if you crave the flavors of Morocco, this is a soup for you!

Harira - Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Soup

1 pound boneless chicken thighs cut into small pieces
1 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight in water and cooked for 2 hour (or
1 can of chickpeas, drained)
8 - 10 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 large red onion, diced
6 Roma Tomatoes, stem end removed and cut into a small dice
3 Tablespoons Butter
Handful of parsley leaves
Handful of cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
pinch of Saffron or ½ teaspoon Turmeric
¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add in the saffron (if using or Turmeric), cinnamon and ginger.  Stir and add in the chicken, onions, celery and carrots and cook until they become softened and the chicken becomes opaque. Add in the tomatoes, the chicken broth and the parsley and cilantro. Cook for ½ hour and check salt, adding some if necessary and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.  Serve with toasted flat bread.

Five Element Analysis

This is a broth-based soup so it is Watery by nature. The chicken and the chicken broth bring in the Wood Element along with the celery.  The Tomatoes and Cayenne Pepper contribute the Fire Element.  The Carrots and Chickpeas make sure that the Earth Element is represented and the Onions, herbs and spices bring in the Metal Element too. This then is a fully balanced Five Element soup!

Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup

I am teaching my Master Face Reading Certification Shen Module in Copenhagen this week and I have students attending from all over Europe. I make 2 soups every day as I love to feed my students information and food!  It's also quite chilly here and that is soup weather for me.  Since I have several Swedish students, I decided to make Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup that is served all over Sweden. Of course, it is very similar in every way except color to Green Split Pea Soup and is actually a popular dish in Finland, Denmark, Germany and England too, where several other students are from.  In fact, yellow pea soup was once called "Pease Porridge Hot" in a nursery rhyme.  

Dried split peas are a very ancient food. They are considered pulses and are very digestible. I have a fondness for split pea soup because of the restaurant chain - Split Pea Anderson's that my family used to stop at in Buellton, CA.  They served their soup with a spice mix called Cavender's Greek Seasoning that I still like to use on soup. However, I haven't been able to find it here yet, so I am using an herb salt blend as a sprinkle instead. Because I also have several vegetarian students, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  If you are not vegetarian, this soup is also good made with a leftover ham bone or if you just add minced ham or crumbled bacon to the soup. I like my soup a little on the thin side, but many people I know like it very thick. Just add extra water if you like it the way I do.

This is a comforting meal that I think is best served with bread and soft butter. I've decided that the yellow color is more appealin to me,  but it tastes just as good if you use the green split peas instead.

Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup

2 cups dried yellow Split Peas, sorted (to remove any small stones) and rinsed
1 onion, minced
2 large carrots - trimmed, peeled and cut into a small dice
2 large celery stalks - trimmed and cut into a small dice
1 Tablespoon Butter
8 cups vegetable broth (can also use chicken broth) 
2 cups water, if necessary
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional:  1 cup ham chunks or crumbled bacon

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and add in the onion, carrots and celery.  Cook until the vegetables are wilted. Add in the Split Peas and the Vegetable Broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 1 hour, adding water if necessary.  Check seasoning and add salt and pepper.  Add ham if using and cook for an additional 15 minutes. 

Five Element Analysis

Although soup is primarily considered a Water Food, so that element is covered and serving it with Bacon or Ham increases that element.  Split Peas belong to the Earth family and the thickness of this soup increases it's Earthiness as do the carrots.  The onions bring in the Metal Element along with the aromatic Bay Leaf and Thyme and the celery, Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element. Only the Fire Element is missing so be sure to serve it with a Fire Food, in our case we also served a lettuce salad to create a Five Element balance.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Corn Egg Drop Soup - Chinese Restaurant Style

This is a recipe for the ubiquitous Chinese restaurant soup that you usually get free with your lunch specials. It's not a very exciting soup, but it is a comforting one. If you are used to eating this soup, you will be shocked at how easy it is to cook. The most difficult part about it is keeping the egg drops from turning into lumps. You manage that by stirring the boiling soup as you pour in the egg and it delightfully turns into lovely threads. This is also a delicate soup and can easily be made out canned chicken broth if you don't have any homemade. The seasoning is light - just a little Tamari and Sesame Oil - and the texture is soothing. It is the perfect soup for calming your nerves or your stomach and is a wonderful food for when you are sick. It's also a good starter before a Chinese meal and it looks much harder to make than it is.  And, it takes only a little longer to make than waiting for the soup to boil! 

Corn Egg Drop Soup - Chinese Restaurant Style

6 cups Chicken Broth (preferably homemade)
1 cup water
1 14.75 oz can Creamed Corn
3 eggs, lightly beaten in a bowl
3 Tablespoons Tamari
1 Tablespoon Asian Sesame Oil
Sprinkling of White Pepper
3 green onions, ends trimmed off and cut into fine pieces

Put Chicken Broth, Water and Creamed Corn in a pot and heat to boiling.  Add in Tamari, Sesame Oil and White Pepper. Return to a boil and start stirring with a spoon using your left hand. Pour in the eggs very slowly until all in the soup.  Let cook for another minute then sprinkle with the green onions and then serve.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always considered a Watery food and the eggs, Tamari and Sesame Oil add even more of the Water Element. The chicken broth contributes the Wood Element and the Green Onions add in the Metal Element. The Earth Element is represented by the Creamed Corn. Only the Fire Element needs enhancing as the little bit of White Pepper is not enough.  So be sure to serve something Fiery for the main course to create a Five Element balance.