Monday, March 24, 2014

Beet and Carrot Salad ala Ripe

I have been on a lecture tour of New Zealand teaching in both Auckland and Christchurch and waiting to teach this weekend in Napier. But I have a few days to relax here in wonderful Havelock North and I've been wanting to make a salad that I had a lovely little cafe in Grey Lynne called Ripe. The salad was called Raw Energy - made of beets and carrots in a wonderful sweet/sour dressing.  I got the recipe from my friend, who owns the cookbook, but I adapted it slightly and converted into US measures.  

This is a very satisfying salad - you just know it is healthy, but it is so tasty too.  The beets and carrots are both very grounding and good for building the blood and supporting the function of the spleen and pancreas. I added some red onion as I like that extra zing that it gives the salad and I think it balances the flavors just a bit better. And, I didn't have any Pomegranate Molasses so I increased the Balsamic Vinegar and also used a bit of lemon juice as well to achieve the right tartness. The only hard thing about this salad is all the grating you have to do as beets are really very messy. But this salad is worth it!  It would be a good one to bring to a potluck.

Beet and Carrot Salad ala Ripe

1 pound of Beets, peeled and grated
1 1/2 pounds of carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds and 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds, toasted lightly in a frying pan


1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 - 2 Tablespoons Honey

Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust sweetness accordingly.  Put the beets, carrots, red onion pieces, mint leaves and raisins in a large bowl.  Pour over dressing and toss to coat.  If serving immediately, add in the seeds. If holding for later, put seeds aside and toss in when ready to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Carrots both belong to the Earth Element and Beets are both Fire because they are red and Earth because they are so sweet, so those elements are covered. The raisins as dried fruit are also Earthy and Fiery both and add even more of each element. The seeds bring in the Water Element, the Balsamic Vinegar, Citrus Juices and Olive Oil contribute the Wood Element and the Red Onion and Mint adds in the Metal Element.  This then, becomes a balanced dish! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Clamato Soup

I've been traveling so much and I'm finally home, but only for a very short time!  I'm headed out again tomorrow, but for one night, I got to cook in my own kitchen and all I wanted was to make some soup. However, the pantry was a little bare. So, I ended up making a wonderful soup by combining a bottle of Clamato Juice, some cans of Chopped Clams and some celery, carrot and potatoes.  It was so easy, so fast and so delicious that the recipe was requested by my son.  I only wished that I had some little Goldfish crackers to put in it as that would have made a charming picture.  This soup came together in such a short time and felt really nourishing.  It was a grown up version of Tomato Soup and I'm definitely going to make it again!

Clamato Soup

1 32 oz bottle of Clamato Juice

3 cans of chopped clams (6.5 oz each - I used Snow's)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large stalks of celery, diced
2 Carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced
2 Medium Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon Thyme

In a large soup pot, put in oil, onion, celery, carrot and potatoes. Cook over high heat until the onion becomes translucent.  Pour in the Clamato Juice and add the clams - including the clam broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 1/2 hour and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Clams belong to the Water Element and Tomatoes to the Fire Element so those elements are covered.The Celery brings in the Wood Element, the Carrots and Potatoes contribute the Earth Element and the Onions, the aromatic Bay Leaf and the Thyme contribute the Metal Element making this a balanced little soup!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Carbonara-Alfredo Style Sauce

My almost stepdaughter, Antonie, loves creamy Carbonara Sauce and I wanted to make her some, but I was out of eggs. So, I made her a variation that I used to make for my kids when they were little.  It’s really a mashup of Carbonara Sauce and Alfredo Sauce.  My sons really disliked eggs back then and they were perfectly happy eating plain buttered pasta. In order to up the nutritional value of that frequent choice, I first added Parmesan Cheese and then eventually the Pancetta, lightly browned onions and the Cream. It became one of their absolute favorite pasta sauces. My kids always liked pasta with shapes rather than spaghetti  and I like to serve it with any pasta that has little nooks to hold onto the sauce so I usually serve it with the corkscrew kind even though I know that is not traditional.  And, I usually have brown rice pasta to make this dish Gluten Free. I don't make or eat this sauce very often because it is so rich and because I am lactose intolerant. Luckily, butter, Parmesan Cheese and whole Cream all have only a little lactose and this was worth taking a Lactaid pill for - it's that delicious. When I made it last night, Antonie loved it so much that she wanted to lick the bowl! 

Carbonara-Alfredo Sauce with Whole Grain Pasta

8 ounces cut up Pancetta (or bacon)
4 ounces Butter
1 small red onion, minced
2 cups Cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Ground Pepper
¼ cup reserved Pasta Water

1 pound Whole Grain Pasta or Gluten Free Pasta, cooked according to package directions

Melt butter in a frying pan and add the onions. Cook until they become translucent.  Add the Pancetta and cook until it just starts to become crispy on the edges.  Add in the Cream and Parmesan Cheese and stir until well blended.  Sprinkle on pepper to taste. 

While Pasta is cooking, be sure to take out a small amount of pasta cooking water.  When the pasta is done, drain and return it to the pot.  Pour sauce over and stir to coat. Add in the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce a bit, stir again and serve immediately with extra Parmesan Cheese.

Five Element Analysis

Cream, Butter, Onions and Parmesan Cheese all belong to the Metal Element and the Parmesan in particular gives this sauce an amazing Umami flavor. The Pancetta contributes the Water Element and the Whole Grain Pasta brings in the Wood Element.  Serve this pasta with a salad that represents the Fire Element and something sweet for dessert to contribute Earth and you will have a balanced Five Element meal.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Roasted Parsnip Chips

I am not eating Potato Chips now, which are one of my favorite snacks as I simply need to stop eating so much deep fried food. So, I am making vegetable chips in the oven instead as they are much healthier.  Parsnip Chips are some of my favorite vegetables to roast but I never made them into chips before. I love the slight carrot like flavor of Parsnips so this time I sliced them thin.  Then I baked them until tender and then crisped them under the broiler.  They were so good that they were all gone within minutes and I wish I had bought a lot more parsnips!   They turned out to have a lovely chewy/crispy texture. And, they are so simple that there is no reason to make them often.  So, I am going to go buy some more parsnips and make them again soon. Hope you try them too!

Roasted Parsnip Chips

2 pounds Parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan with parchment.  Place the Parsnips in the pan and drizzle with the Olive Oil.  Sprinkle with salt and toss with your hands.  Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn over chips with a spatula and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Then turn the heat up to broil and broil 3 - 5 minutes, turn again and broil for an additional 3 - 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Parsnips are root vegetables so they definitely belong to the Earth Element, but because they are white with just a bit of astringency, they have some of the Metal Element too. The Olive Oil brings in the Wood Element and the salt contributes some of the Water Element. But since this is a snack, you wouldn't expect it to be a balanced food, so add it to your diet when you need a little extra of the Earth and Metal Elements and enjoy a healthy snack food!

Roasted Beet and Citrus Salad

I'm still feeling a bit pale and wan so it's time to build even more blood. So, since I already had enough beef, I turned to my favorite vegetable blood builder - beets. In Chinese Medicine, they support the heart and detoxify the liver.  In Western Medicine, they have been shown to lower blood pressure. They are really good for you! When I was a child, I didn't like them at all - I thought they tasted like sweet dirt.  I still think that, but now I like that taste and in fact I crave it. The turning point was eating beets slightly pickled in something sour.  My favorite way to eat beets is in a salad with oranges and a dressing made of lemon juice. The tartness contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the beets. I roast the beets first instead of boil them as I think it enhances the flavor. This can be done ahead of time if desired. Then this salad can be made anytime up to a few days later and holds well in the fridge once made if you want to serve it later.

This is a beautiful salad and the oranges turn kind of pink and the combination of citrus and beets is a magical one. I've brought it many times to potlucks and it's always been a big hit.   I can't believe I once didn't like such an amazing vegetable and I am making up for it now as I eat beets often. My son likes to serve this salad with some goat cheese.  Either way, it's a delicious salad that gives you more than just good flavors!

Roasted Beet and Citrus Salad

3 large beets, washed
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil - divided
1 large or 2 medium Navel Oranges, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 small red onion
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Optional - 4 ounces of goat cheese cut into small pieces

Turn the oven on to 425 degrees. Put beets on a baking pan.  Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil over the beets and rub in.  Place in the oven and roast until beets are done (about 1 hour).  Cool, then trim ends and peel before cutting into small chunks.

Place the cut beets into a glass bowl (beets tend to stain plastic). Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, the lemon juice, the onions and toss with the beets. Add the oranges and toss lightly again.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.  If desired, top with pieces of soft goat cheese.

Five Element Analysis

Beets are an Earth food as they are a root vegetable and also naturally sweet.  The oranges and lemon juice bring in the Wood Element.  The red onion contributes the Metal Element and the goat cheese adds even more. So serve this salad with foods that represent the Water Element (I served fish) and the Fire Element (we had wine) to create a Five Element balance.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew

It's really cold here in Denmark and I am seriously jetlagged once again as I get ready to start teaching later this week. At times like this I need a big warm bowl of something and I wanted more than soup, so that means stew. And, I desperately need the grounding from beef and I like that it builds blood too, which gives me more energy. Normally I make stew with beef and potatoes, but I didn't have any because I thought I bought them. On the previous day, I actually bought a bag of assorted root vegetables that I decided to use instead. Now, I've never added Parsnips, Rutabagas and Celery Root to a stew before, but it turned out so fantastic that I had to share it with you. Each kind of root vegetable had a completely different texture and I found that I didn't miss the potatoes at all. And, I got the value of even more grounding from this wonderful assortment of root vegetables. In fact, even if I add potatoes next time, I am also going to add these other kinds of root vegetables because they are just so delicious! The only thing missing was something green so I did make a salad to go along with it. I hope you try this recipe next time you want to make a stew.

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew

2 pounds Beef Stew Meat (Chuck Roast) cut into about 2 inch chunks, patted dry
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 onions, chopped
2 large Parsnips - peeled, trimmed and cut into chunks
2 large Carrots - peeled, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 small Celery Root - peeled and cut into chunks
1 large Rutabaga - peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups Red Wine
4 - 5 cups Water
1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon- Beef Flavor or Beef Bouillon Cube
1 teaspoon Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
Fresh Ground Pepper

Optional:  1 Tablespoon Cornstarch mixed with enough water to make a slurry

In a large pot, heal oil and add in the onions.  Cook until lightly browned.  Add in the beef cubes and leave until they develop a sear on one side. Then turn over and sear other side.  Then add in the wine.  Cook on high heat for a minute and then add in the water and Bouillon. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours (test at 2 hours). If the meat is tender, add in vegetables. Otherwise, cook for an additional minutes until the beef is tender. Add in the other vegetables and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Thicken with cornstarch and add fresh ground pepper.  Serve with Crusty Bread and a green salad or other green vegetables.

Five Element Analysis

Stews are inherently Earthy because of their long and slow cooking times and this stew is especially Earthy because it is made with Beef and Root Vegetables, all Earthy foods. However, there is a bit of fire due to the Red Wine and some Metal from the Herbs.  When served with bread and salad, you bring in the Wood Element and the Fire Element. All that is missing is the Water Element, which can be easily remedied by serving some dark berries for dessert.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Poached Salmon with Two Sauces

I like this photo even though it appears a bit blurry because it gives the feeling of poaching salmon very well. Poaching, like steaming is somewhat of a mysterious form of cooking. Anyway, that's the steam clouding the image and there is no way that I could wait for the steam to clear before taking the picture as the salmon would get seriously overdone. I had to take it off the heat a few minutes ahead of time just to get this picture.  

Poached Salmon is a delightful thing - very clean tasting, very delicate and very easily overcooked.... Poaching salmon is incredibly easy to make and it's so fast too. It just needs a poaching liquid - usually salted water, but you can also use wine, clam broth or chicken broth to enhance the flavor if you want.  It also requires aromatic vegetables - onion, carrot and celery and some herbs - Dill, Tarragon or Thyme or Bay Leaves. Or, you can also use some green onions and sliced ginger if you want to make it Asian style.  Then, you get the poaching broth cooking and then turn it down to low heat and add the salmon for about 5 - 8 minutes - depending on the size of the filets.  That's it!  Then you make a sauce of your choosing - I've included two. I served it with the Mustard Caper Sauce because it is just so beautiful.

You know you are getting the health benefits of Omega 3. In Chinese Medicine, salmon is thought to enhance the blood, improve liver function and give strength to hair, nails and skin.  It's also supposed to enhance fertility. With that kind of nutritional profile, it is a food that should be on your menu often!

Poached Salmon

4 salmon pieces (about 6 ounces each - 1 pound total)
2 cups water (replace 1/2 cup water with white wine - if desired)
1 teaspoon Salt 
1 small Onion, peeled, trimmed and cut into large pieces
1 small Carrot, cut into pieces
1 stalk Celery (with leaves) cut into pieces
Handful of fresh dill leaves (can also use Tarragon or Thyme or Bay Leaves or a slice of ginger and a cut up green onion if desired)
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat water in a straight sided deep frying pan or small stockpot. Add in the salt, onion, carrot, celery and herbs along with the lemon juice. Bring to boiling and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn down heat and add in the salmon, flesh side down and cook on a simmer for 5 minutes for thin filets up to 8 minutes for thicker filets or steaks. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and cool while making sauces.

Mustard Caper Sauce

3 Tablespoons Red Onion, minced
3 Tablespoon Butter
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon Mustard (or more to taste)
Squeeze of lemon
1 heaping teaspoon Sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup Cream
1 Tablespoon Capers (drained)
Salt to taste

Melt Butter in a frying pan. Add in onion and cook until onion is just wilted. Add in the Cream and cook until reduced and thickened slightly (this doesn't take long). Then add in the mustard, sugar, lemon juice and capers and stir until blended. Season with salt to taste if needed and add extra sugar if desired. Drizzle over Salmon and serve. 

Asian Scallion Sauce

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
4 green onions, ends trimmed, cut into thin slices (reserve 1 teaspoon for garnish)
2 Tablespoons Tamari (or Soy Sauce)
1 Tablespoon Asian Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 teaspoons Mirin
Sesame Seeds

Heat oil in a frying pan.  Add in green onions and cook until just wilted.  Take off heat and add in Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil and Mirin. Remove to a bowl and drizzle over salmon. Garnish with remaining green onion slices and sprinkle with Sesame Seeds.

Five Element Analysis

Poaching is a Watery way of cooking and Salmon is clearly a Water food, so this is a very Watery dish!  However, the aromatics bring in just a bit of everything else - the carrot, celery, onion and herbs bring in the Earth Element, the Wood Element and the Metal Element respectively.  The wine adds in the Fire Element so this dish ends up being a little more balanced than expect.  When you add in the sauces, you can get a lot more Elements at play. The Asian Scallion Sauce is quite a bit more Watery from the Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil, but also gives a good amount of Fire from the Mirin Wine and from Red Pepper Flakes.  The Mustard and Caper Sauce amps up the Wood Element from the pickled capers and lemon and brings in more Metal from the onion, mustard, butter and cream and contributes a bit more Earth from the sugar. So, it's your choice as to which element you'd like to increase. And, poached salmon looks best on a lovely bed of Fiery greens too!