Friday, January 31, 2014

Curly Kale Salad with Pomegranate and Pepitas

It's Chinese New Year today so Happy New Year!  It's the anniversary of 5 Element Food. This blog started 4 years ago at this time - the Year of the Tiger. I'm actually quite surprised how long I've been doing this and how many viewers I've had - I'm honored that you are following me and using my recipes! Today begins the Year of the Horse and I am in the midst of getting ready for my Chinese New Year party tomorrow (I will post the new recipes for you).  But in the meantime, I really just wanted a salad last night. I had a ripe Pomegranate sitting on my kitchen window that really needed to be eaten. And, I needed to clean out the vegetable bin and found a bunch of Curly Kale and decided to make yet another Kale Salad. Kale is still not my favorite vegetable, but Kale Salad has become a big hit with Martin and my sons.  So, I decided to create a dressing made with lemon juice, Pomegranate Molasses and Olive Oil. I added the Pomegranate seeds, Pepitas (Roasted Pumpkin Seeds) for crunch and red onion for some zing.  The salad was beautiful as you can see and absolutely delicious. I loved it!  This Kale Salad recipe is a keeper and may replace the other ones while Pomegranates remain in season.

Curly Kale Salad with Pomegranate and Pepitas

1 bunch Curly Kale
1 cup Pomegranate Seeds
1/2 cup Pepitas (Toasted Pumpkin Seeds)
1/2 red onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Juice of 2 lemons
2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
1 Heaping Tablespoon of Honey
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt 

In a small bowl, mix together the onion, lemon juice, Pomegranate Molasses, Honey, Salt and Olive Oil.  Let sit while preparing the Kale so the onion can marinate.  

Pull the leafy part of the Kale off the ribs and tear into small pieces. Place in a large bowl. Then add the dressing and massage into the Kale. Then top with Pomegranate Seeds and Pepitas to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Kale as all dark greens, belongs to the Wood Element and the lemon juice and olive oil add even more.  The Pomegranate seedscontributes the Fire Element and the Honey and Pomegranate Molasses bring in the Earth Element. Finally, the salt and Pumpkin seeds contribute the Water Element that makes this a balanced Five Element salad!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Baked Steelhead with Tartar Sauce

I am blessed living here in the Northwest as we have such great seafood and I've been in a fish mood these last few days.  One of our favorite ways to cook fish is to bake it and it's been a family standard for a long time.  My sons asked me to post this recipe so they would know how to make it.  It's basically a filet of fish - usually salmon, but in this case Steelhead, which I think has a milder flavor - then baked in a very hot oven with thin slices of onion, fresh dill and slices of lemon (with the rind cut off because it's too bitter) and a little butter.  The only trick is not to overcook it. I've found that waiting until it flakes is sometimes too long if you are checking the thickest parts.  So check when the thin parts of the filet are flaky and don't wait to much longer to take it out as it will continue to cook when it is resting. I hope you enjoy one of our favorite ways to cook fish.

Baked Steelhead

1 pound Salmon Filet
2 small lemons, ends cut off, rind cut off and sliced into rounds
1 medium white onion, sliced into thin rings, separated (use small pieces for Tartar Sauce)
1/4 cup fresh chopped Dill fronds (can also use 2 tsps dried Dill)
1/2 stick butter, melted
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place salmon on a large baking tray, skin side down.  Spread dill over the salmon, then layer onion ring slices to cover and then the lemon rounds.  Pour butter over and sprinkle generously with Salt and Pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes and check to see if Salmon is flaking in the narrowest portion. If not, cook for an additional 3 - 5 minutes.  The onions should be translucent and the lemon should be browned.  Serve with Tartar Sauce and lemon wedges.

Tartar Sauce 

1 cup mayonnaise (I used Best Foods)

3 Tablespoons Pickle Relish (or chopped Bread and Butter Pickles)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoon finely minced onion

Five Element Analysis

Salmon belongs to the Water Element as all fish does.  The lemon and lemon juice contribute just a bit the Wood Element.  The onion and dill bring in the Metal Element and teh Mayonnaise adds even more.  The Earth and Fire Elements are missing so it would be good to serve with a green leafy salad of lettuce and tomatoes along with another Wood Vegetable - I served Asparagus - to create a Five Element balance. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Provencal Eggplant and Tomato Tian

I've been teaching in Toronto, which was wonderful, but it was also incredibly cold.  All I could think about today after I got back was making some warming food. But I wasn't in the mood for soup yet.  Sometimes what warms me is the origin of the food - this dish reminds me of meals I have had in Provence - one of my favorite places to go and visit. It is a vegetarian dish of eggplant slices layered with tomato slices and then covered with onions and garlic. It is slow roasted in the oven and then you take off the foil and sprinkle it with Parmesan Cheese and breadcrumbs and broil until brown.  It takes the not very ripe winter tomatoes and makes them taste richer and the eggplant gets soft and melts in your mouth. It's seasoned with Rosemary and Thyme and just smells like the South of France. And, it's very easy to make and is a wonderful side dish to a roast or as part of a vegetarian meal. Hope you enjoy it too!

Provencal Eggplant and Tomato Tian

1 large globe eggplant, stem ends cut off - cut into rounds 1/3” thick and then cut into half for the narrow end pieces and cut into quarters for the center pieces
½ red onion, diced
6 large Roma Tomatoes, stem end removed and cut into 1/4 “ slices
2 garlic cloves minced
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/ teaspoon dried Rosemary
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Optional:  3 Tablespoons Bread Crumbs + 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Another Option:  add 2 large zucchinis, sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a oval Tian or Pyrex deep dish pie pan, layer the tomato and eggplant. Start with a slice of tomato and then eggplant and then another slice of tomato and push them upright as the row gets full.  Then repeat to create another row.  If there are any extra eggplant pieces, tuck them into the sides of the dish. Then sprinkle the onions, garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, salt and pepper over the top. Cover with a piece of foil and put into the oven.

Bake for one hour and then take off the aluminum foil. Put oven on to Broil. Mix together Parmesan Cheese, Breadcrumbs and Olive Oil and sprinkle over the top.  Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are brown – watch carefully so it doesn’t burn!  Serve hot or warm.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant, because of its’ dark color, belongs to the Water Element. The tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic, Onions and Parmesan make sure that the Metal Element is present. There’s only a bit of olive oil that brings in the Wood Element and the bread crumbs add just a bit more.  The Earth Element is present only in the slow cooked onions and the fact that it is a casserole makes it a more Earthy dish, but if you want to gain more balance, it would be good to serve with other Wood and Earth foods like a main dish made of beef to bring in more Earth and perhaps some crusty bread to give more Wood. 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chicken Paprikash

I decided to refresh some of the spices in my spice cupboard and one of the spices that needed replacing was Paprika.  Of course, I ended up buying Hungarian Paprika as I like it best, which inspired me to make Chicken Paprikash.  This was one of my favorite stews to make when I was young although back then I added in the sour cream - which you are welcome to do - but I no longer do because of my lactose intolerance.  It's really a simple braised chicken dish made with lots of paprika and lots of onion. The large amount of onions is a big part of what makes this dish really delicious. I made it yesterday with a whole chicken so I took the meat off the bone to serve it, but most of the time I make it with chicken thighs that I brown and braise and serve whole.  It's a simple no-fuss preparation that you make and cook and serve later on top of egg noodles or a Hungarian style Spaetzle (little dumplings) or buttered rice or mashed potatoes. I also made a simple cucumber and onion salad to go with it and it was a lovely meal.  

Chicken Paprikash

8 Chicken Thighs (or 1 whole chicken cut up into pieces)
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 large onions, sliced thinly
About 8 cups water (can also use Chicken Broth for a richer flavor)
3 Tablespoons Hungarian Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or 1/2 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch mixed with water to make a slurry
Optional:  1/2 cup Sour Cream

To serve: Buttered and boiled Egg Noodles

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the chicken pieces and brown on each side.  Take out the chicken and add in the onions.  Cook until transparent and just beginning to brown.  Put chicken pieces back in and add the water (or broth) to just reach the top of the chicken.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for one hour.  Then remove chicken from the pot to a large bowl.  If using whole chicken pieces, you may want to remove the meat from the bones.  Bring sauce back to a boil and add in the Cornstarch and cook until thickened. If desired, add in the Sour Cream.  Put chicken pieces back in and serve. This is also good made the day before and reheated gently.  Serve on top of boiled egg noodles that have been buttered.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element, so that element is fully represented.  The onions, from their long cooking becoming Earthy. The cucumbers  I served with it added even more of the Earth Element and the raw onions brought in some of the Metal Element. The Paprika and Cayenne contribute the Fire Element. The Soupy Nature of this stew adds some water, but the meal needs a bit more. The Metal Element is not very represented here, so if you use the Sour Cream, that brings it in or serve with another dish containing a Metal food and a Water Food - perhaps some berries with cream to create a balanced meal.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Parmesan Roasted Turnip Wedges

In my quest to get my kids to eat vegetables when they were younger, I discovered that when I roasted almost any vegetable, my kids would eat them.  Once, when we were at a very nice restaurant, my son got some roasted turnips on his plate and fell in love with them.  He asked me to make them at home and this was the result. To him, they were a lot like potato wedges and when I've sliced them into batonnets, they even looked like french fries.  I've been making it for years and saw some lovely fresh turnips at the market so I made it again, as it has been a while, and realized how much I like this dish.  Plus, my son wanted to know how to make them and like all roasted dishes, it takes very little effort to make. The turnips I use are fairly small and all you do  are trim them, peel them and cut them into wedges.  Then roast them with some salt and garlic powder until they are soft and just beginning to brown and sprinkle on some Parmesan Cheese and put them into the broiler until they get very brown.  That's it! 

Turnips were traditionally thought to be very good for the lungs, probably because they are white and also good for the digestive system. And like all of the Cruciferous vegetables, they have anti-cancer properties and are also full of Vitamin C and Calcium and many other nutrients.  This is a really simple and delicious way to serve a very healthy vegetable!

Parmesan Roasted Turnip Wedges

5 - 6 medium turnips
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut off the stem and root ends of the turnip and then peel.  Cut in half and then cut in half again.  Then make 3 wedges.  Repeat with all the turnips.  Place in a large bowl and put in the olive oil, salt and garlic powder. Toss to coat.  Put turnips onto a large baking tray and spread them out so the all touch the pan on one side.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes then turn and roast for an additional 10 minutes.  Then remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on the Parmesan Cheese.  Turn the oven up to Broil and put the turnips back in. Cook for an additional 5 - 8 minutes - watch carefully - and remove when browned.  

Five Element Analysis

Turnips are a root vegetable so you know that they belong to the Earth Element.  The garlic powder and Parmesan Cheese add just a bit of the Metal Element.  So, this dish is best served as a side to other dishes that are missing the Earth Element. I served it with lamb, rice  and a big green salad with tomatoes to create a balanced meal.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Italian Spinach Soup

It's cold and rainy outside and the Seahawks were playing today. After all those game-day snacks, dinner had to be simple and healthy, so I made some Italian Spinach Soup. It's really just chicken soup with carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, Cannellini Beans and fresh spinach.  What makes it Italian is the addition of Basil and Parmesan Cheese.  I didn't have any fresh Basil but I did have some frozen pesto so I used that instead and I will give you both versions. I also made the broth from scratch using chicken drumsticks on sale, but this soup could just have easily been made with canned chicken broth and cut up chicken breasts or leftover roast chicken.  It's super fast if you make it this way and still very fast if you make it all from scratch.  It tasted really good after all those chips and only needed a bit of garlic bread to go with it.  This is a lovely light soup that you just know is good for you too!

8 chicken drumsticks (or 2 cups of cut up raw chicken breast or cooked chicken)
10 cups of water or 9 cups of chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 can Cannellini Beans
2 carrots, stem removed, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Pesto or 1/4 cup julienned Basil and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
3 handfuls of fresh spinach

Serve with more fresh grated Parmesan Cheese and Garlic Bread

Put chicken drumsticks in a large pot and add water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook for one hour.  Take the chicken out of the pot and let cool, then remove meat and discard the bones and cartilage.  Cut into bite size pieces.  Strain broth and season to taste with salt and pepper (I usually add about 3 teaspoons of salt).  Put broth back into the pot and add the garlic, onions, carrots, tomatoes and Cannellini Beans.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Add in the Pesto or Basil and Parmesan, Spinach and  and chicken.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with extra Parmesan Cheese and Garlic Bread.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is a Water food so that element is covered and the Cannellini Beans add to it as well. Chicken and Chicken Broth belong to the Wood Element and the Spinach adds even more.  The cherry Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element and the Carrots contribute the Earth Element.  The Basil, Parmesan Cheese, Onion and Garlic provide the Metal Element so this becomes a very balanced little bowl of soup!  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Italian Meatballs in Simple Tomato Sauce

I have been down in Los Angeles cleaning out my Mom's condo and unable to cook. I have to say that I am now totally sick of eating out and the first thing I did when I got home was to go grocery shopping and the first thing that I cooked was Italian Meatballs. Italian food is one of my three ethnic comfort food categories - the first is Chinese and the second is Mexican, both of which I had lots of in LA. So, Italian was the kind of food I wanted. 

Now a lot of people like to make really giant meatballs, but I favor the smaller golf ball size.  And, I like to make a really simple Tomato Sauce to serve them in.  The sauce is based on Marcella Hazan's where she uses only canned Tomatoes (perfect for this time of year), butter and onions.  She leaves her onions whole and then removes them, but I like them minced.  I also like the texture of the onions in the sauce, but some of my friends prefer it when I puree it.  In either case, it is a great meatball recipe for serving over pasta or for making into Meatball Subs.  As you can see from the photo above, I made a lot - this recipe doubles and triples well for a party and because it also freezes very well.

Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

2 pounds ground beef
½ cup milk                       
½ cup torn up Italian white bread, crusts removed (I used Udi’s Gluten Free White)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 tsps salt
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsps black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil

Serve with Simple Tomato Sauce

Simple Tomato Sauce:

4 Tbsps Butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small clove garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
½ teaspoon dried basil (or several leaves of fresh if available)
½ - 1 Tablespoon Sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste         

Cook Tomato Sauce first and leave it to simmer while you make the meatballs. Heat butter in a large pot. Add the onions. Cook until onion is translucent.  Remove the cover, add the garlic, and increase the heat to medium high. Add the garlic and then add the tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands or the spatula.  Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook uncovered for up 30 minutes. Purée the mixture with a stick blender before adding to the meatballs, if you like a smoother texture. 

For meatballs:  Heat the milk until just about boiling in a small pot.  Take off the heat and put in the bread pieces.  Mash it and put it into a large bowl.  Add the beef, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and garlic until just blended.  Wet your hands and form meatballs into the size of a golf ball.  Set on a baking sheet until ready to cook.
When all the meatballs are made, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Put in as many meatballs as you can fit without touching.  Brown the meatballs on two sides and remove to a plate.  Add in the next batch of meatballs. 
When all the meatballs are browned, put them careful into the sauce and spoon sauce on top of them.  Heat the meatballs on a low simmer for 15 minutes.  When the meatballs are all browned, add them carefully to the sauce and heat for an additional 15 minutes. Serve the meatballs and sauce over cooked pasta or make into meatball subs with provolone cheese. 
Five Element Analysis
Beef belongs to the Earth Element so that element is well represented.  The tomatoes bring in plenty of the Fire Element. The Parmesan Cheese, parsley, oregano and basil, onions and garlic make sure that the Metal Element is present as well. The eggs contribute the Water Element and the bread in the meatball and the pasta or rolls if made of wheat bring in the Wood Element.  That makes Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce a balanced dish and anything else you serve is extra!