Friday, October 31, 2014

Quick Clam and Cherry Tomato Sauce

I love clams and I especially love canned chopped clams. I know that may be considered a little strange when fresh clams are so wonderful.  But, I don't always remember to buy fresh clams when I'm in the mood for a clam sauce, so I love being able to make a wonderful Clam Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes. And with canned clams, you get all the chewy bits that are my favorite and none of the soft squishy parts.  This sauce is delicious with pasta (I use DeLallo's gluten free pasta) and it's also amazingly good as a pizza topping.  Now according to classic Italian food rules, seafood is not supposed to go with cheese and since I am lactose intolerant, I don't add it. But since I am here in America, I have to tell you that this sauce is also fabulous with Parmesan Cheese if you are using it for pasta or Mozzarella if you should decide to make it into a pizza sauce.  I've been known to use this sauce with a Nature's Hilights Brown Rice Pizza Crust and Lisanata Almond Mozzarella Cheese and it's really good - just be sure to toast the oiled pizza crust fully in a 425 degree oven before topping it and then baking for an additional 15 minutes. I also do another no-no according to the Italians and that is that I add some cornstarch to thicken it up as I like the creaminess it adds. You don't have to do this step, you can add some pasta water instead if you like.  And, this is also an excellent sauce base if you do want to steam some fresh clams in it (then be sure not to add the cornstarch). This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. The proportions are 1 can of clams to 1 garlic clove, 1/2 cup of cut cherry tomatoes and 1 heaping teaspoon of cornstarch. I've made it as a potluck dish with pasta (baked) and it's been a big hit.  It's just a a delicious, easy and fast sauce - I encourage you to try it! 

Quick Clam and Cherry Tomato Sauce for Pasta or Pizza

2 cans of Chopped Clams in Clam Juice (I used Snow's Bumble Bee brand, 6.5 ounces)
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
2 garlic cloves minced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 heaping teaspoons Cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of Salt and sprinkling of fresh ground Pepper
Cooked Pasta of your choice

Optional: Parmesan Cheese for serving with Pasta or Mozarella Cheese for Pizza

Open the cans of clams and stir in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch into each can.  In a large frying pan, add the Olive Oil and the Garlic. Cook until you can smell the fragrance of the Garlic. Add in the Tomatoes, stirring until the Tomatoes start to soften.  Then add in the Clam and Cornstarch mixture with the Salt and Pepper and cook until thickened. Serve over cooked al dente pasta or put on top of pizza dough, top with cheese and bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

Five Element Analysis

Clams are part of the Water Element and are said to increase Kidney Yin, cleanse the Liver and reduce fevers and other inflammation. Cherry Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element.  The garlic bring in the Metal Element and the Cornstarch adds just a bit of Earth.  The Wood Element is missing, which is why it would be good to serve this with Pasta or Pizza Dough made from Wheat. If using Gluten Free Pasta like I did, it would contribute more of the Earth from the Corn, more Metal from the Rice and then I added a green vegetable to create a Five Element balance. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kefta Kabobs

Martin really loves Moroccan and Middle Eastern food so I've been trying to make it for him and last night I made Kefta Kabobs. These are basically Moroccan Hamburgers grilled in a sausage shape, but they are full of herbs, onions and garlic that make them more interesting. They are quite simple to make and are delicious. The meat mixture can be made ahead and then they can be grilled or broiled quickly when you want to serve them.  I broiled them as it was a bit too rainy to get the grill going on the deck. To go with these Kebabs, I made a buttery cumin rice and a salad of Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Onions and served these Kebabs with lots of tart Sumac sprinkled on top, which make them a bit Persian too.  If you like things hot, be sure to serve them with some Harissa, a Moroccan Chili Paste.

Kefta Kabobs

1 ½ pounds ground beef or lamb (or a combination of both)
1 small Onion grated
2 Garlic Cloves minced
1 teaspoon Turmeric
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
3 tablespoons chopped Cilantro
1 Tablespoon chopped Mint
½ teaspoon ground Cumin
Optional:  Harissa or other Chili Sauce and Sumac (a dried sour berry condiment) for serving.

Combine all ingredients kneading well.  Then let it sit for one hour or longer in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the kebabs. 

Put oven shelf as close to the broiler as possible then turn on the broiler.  Divide the meat into 12 balls.  Roll each one out into a long sausage shape about 1 inch wide. Put on a baking pan and flatten slightly.  Put the pan into the broiler and broil for about 5 minutes or until the top of the Kebabs are brown. Turn and broil for another 5 minutes.  Serve with Harissa and Sumac.

Five Element Analysis

Beef is from the Earth Element and Lamb belongs to the Fire Element.  The spices and along with the onion and garlic contribute the Metal Element.  The Harissa brings in more of the Fire Element and the Sumac, being sour adds the Wood Element and the herbs bring in even more. Only the Water Element is missing so serving this main dish with an Eggplant side dish would be good and/or a dish with Chickpeas would also create a Five Element balance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kale Pomegranate Salad

One of the beautiful signs of Autumn are Pomegranates.  Now, I have a special fondness for them because of the Greek myth of Persephone. And, because I always thought that the seeds looked like little jewels.  I love the juicy pop of biting into the seeds and I have stained more than a few garments with their rich red juice.  So here it is fall and Pomegranates are everywhere. There was a special on them at my local PCC so I bought five and I've been thinking of new ways of using them. So I made a Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds like I have before, but this time I used Pomegranate Molasses in the dressing as well and I think  it made it taste even better.  I also added some chopped red onions that I marinated in the dressing and some toasted almond for some crunch. I have to say that this may now be my favorite Kale Salad! The sweet and sour flavor complimented the bitterness of the Kale and it was simply delicious. I might add that it was such a beautiful salad too.  Hope you try this one before Pomegranate season ends....

Kale Pomegranate Salad

1 bunch Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale, washed
1/2 cup chopped Red Onion
1 cup Pomegranate Seeds
1/2 cup Almond Slivers or chop whole almonds into small pieces and toast in a frying pan
Two Tablespoons fresh squeezed Lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Pomegranate Molasses (can also use Balsamic Glaze)
1 - 2 teaspoons Honey (to taste)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

In a small bowl, mix together the Lemon Juice, Pomegranate Molasses, 1 Tablespoon of Honey, the Olive Oil and the salt.  Stir to combine and taste, adding more honey if desired.  Stir in red onion.

Pull the leaves of Kale away from the stem and tear into small pieces. Place the Kale into a salad bowl.  Stir in the Dressing and using your hands, massage the dressing into the Kale. Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes. Then toss in the Pomegranate Seeds and the Almonds to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Kale is a Wood Food so that element is covered and the Olive Oil adds even more. Pomegranates, because they are red are part of the Fire Element and in Chinese Medicine, they are considered very good for the heart and the blood and for fertility. In Western Medicine, they have been found to have lots of Vitamin C and have antioxidant properties.  The Almonds and Honey contribute the Earth Element.  The Red Onion contributes the Metal Element so only the Water Element is missing.  So, serve this salad with some soup or seafood with some Pork and you will have achieved a Five Element balance.

Potato Coins with Buttered Leeks

I went to a French restaurant the other night and was served cubed potatoes and a mound of sautéed leeks as a side dish to my fish. They were separate side dishes, but I put them together and loved the taste of them combined. So, I decided to create a more attractive version than the one I was given. So, I roasted some new potatoes that were cut into slices and roasted them. Then I sautéed the leeks with butter and thyme until they started to caramelize and served them on top of the crispy potato rounds. It was wonderful and it was a beautiful dish too.  I may even serve this at Thanksgiving, I liked it so much and I think it might also work as a party appetizer and I might add some cut up ham. I think this dish could be made ahead of time as the potatoes could be reheated and crisped up and the leeks too so that would make it easier for a party. This combination of potatoes and leeks is a classic one, but the combination of textures makes these ingredients shine in a new way.

Potato Coins with Buttered Leeks

1 pound new potatoes, washed and cut into 1/3" slices
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt - divided in half
3 - 4 Leeks, root end and dark green parts removed, cut in half and sliced thin
3 - 4 Tablespoons of Butter (1 Tablespoon per leek)
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss potate slices with the Oil and put onto a baking sheet, making sure that all the slices are touching the pan.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Roast in the oven for 15 minutes then turn the slices over and roast for an additional 15 minutes.  

While the potatoes are cooking, put the sliced leeks into a bowl and cover with water - swish to remove any dirt and drain.  Heat butter in a large frying pan and add the Leeks, Thyme and salt.  Cook, stirring unit the leeks get soft and become lightly browned - this can take up to 20 minutes.  

When the potatoes are done, put them on a platter and spoon a small amount of leeks on top of each Potato "Coin" and serve immediately. 

Five Element Analysis

Leeks belong to the allium family and are considered a Metal Food and Potatoes belongs to Earth so this is a side dish that would go well with a meat, like lamb or chicken that are Fire and Wood foods respectively or with fish, which is a Water Food. And, I would serve it with some other green vegetables or a salad to create a Five Element balance.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Seattle has been very rainy these last few days and it has made me crave soup, but I wanted a soup that was rich and creamy without the cream. I was out of potatoes, but I did have a head of Cauliflower and so decided to make it into a soup. But I decided that I wanted the richness of flavor that comes from roasting it.  Because the Cauliflower browns and even creates little burnt bits, the color of this soup becomes a lovely shade of tan and the caramelization of the Cauliflower really enhances the flavor. I don't think I'll ever make plain Cauliflower soup again as this was so much better!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

1 head Cauliflower, bottom stem an leaves removed and chopped into large pieces
2 Tablespooons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ large Yellow Onion chopped
1 Garlic clove minced
4 cups Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional for Serving:  1/2 cup minced green onions and 1/2 cup cooked Ham sautéed in a small amount of oil.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.   Put Cauliflower in a Bowl and toss with the Olive Oil, then put onto a baking sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes and remove from the oven.
Melt the Butter in a pot and add onion and garlic. Cook until onion softens.  Add in the Cauliflower and the Chicken Broth.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Take off the heat and puree with a stick blender (or in batches in your Cuisinart or Blender).

Serve with minced Green Onion and small pieces of  Ham if desired.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is a Water food, but this soup is thick and creamy so it becomes Earthy too.  Cauliflower is one of the few vegetables that belong to the Metal Element, but roasting it brings in some Fire as it ends up with little charred bits.  The onions add more Metal and the Chicken Broth and Olive Oil contribute the Wood Element.  Serving it with ham adds more of the Water Element so the only element that needs support is the Fire Element so the meal becomes balanced when you add a lettuce and tomato salad. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Curried Tofu Burgers

If you remember the heyday of Vegetarian Burgers, you will remember the ones made of Tofu. I always liked them in their various incarnations and decided to make some again for the first time in many years. I based this recipe loosely on the classic Moosewood Restaurant version, but I used Sunflower Seeds instead of walnuts and changed the seasoning. They turned out to be incredibly delicious and my son liked them so much that he wanted me to post the recipe.  They are really easy to make, the only thing that takes time is pressing the water out of the tofu and you can do that in 30 minutes at any time ahead of making them. Then, it's just a matter of using your food processor or doing some chopping, grating and mixing and then baking them in the oven.  You will be amazed at how tasty these Tofu Burgers are - you can serve them as is or put them onto a bun and dress them with mustard, ketchup, pickles and lettuce.  

Curried Tofu Burgers

1 carton of Firm Tofu in water, drained (mine was a 19 oz carton)
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2  - 3 Tablespoons Tamari
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Curry Powder (I used McCormick and Schmicks)
Fresh Ground Pepper
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Place the tofu on several paper towels on a plate or cutting board. Put more paper towels on top and place another plate or cutting board on top and then put a heavy pot or book on top of that to press the extra water out of the tofu. Leave for 30 minutes

Heat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Place Sunflower Seeds in the Cuisinart and grind until they are in very small pieces (or use a Mortar and Pestle to grind them.  Add in the Tofu, 2 Tablespoons of the Tamari, Sesame Oil, Salt, Pepper and Curry Powder.  Mix together and taste, adding more Tamari if desired.  

Heat a frying pan and put in the oil. Then add in the onion, carrot, red pepper and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft and the moisture that comes out of the vegetables is mostly gone - 4 to 5 minutes. Then add to the Tofu Mixture and blend together. 

Shape into 6 patties and put onto the baking sheet.  Drizzle oil over the top and cook for 30 minutes.  

Five Element Analysis

Tofu belongs to the Water and Metal Elements and the Onion, Garlic and Curry Powder add even more Meta. The Tamari and Sesame Oil add even more Water. The Carrots contribute the Earth Element and the Red Pepper and the tiny bit of Cayenne bring in the Fire Element. Only the Wood Element is missing, so serve on a Whole Wheat Bun or with a green vegetable or pickles to create a Five Element balance. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Blanca's Cilantro Potatoes

I was traveling most of the last month and in the few days I got to be home, I cooked my old favorites so no interesting new recipes to post.  But, I've finally gotten a chance to be home for longer than a few days and my desire to cook is overwhelming! And I went to the grocery store and bought everything that looked good - so now I have to cook.

Last week when I was in Mexico City, I got a recipe for potatoes that I knew that I had to come home and try. I met a lovely older Mexican woman named Blanca who took me shopping. Over lunch at the Anthropology Museum we were talking about how much Danish people love new potatoes- simply boiled with butter and she gave me her Mexican version.  It's a really simple recipe, but if you like Cilantro and browned Onions, you will love this recipe! Cilantro is considered a blood purifier and is considered good for cleaning heavy metals out of the body. It has also been used for centuries in both Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine for a number of health problems and is considered a digestive aid. For those of you who don't like Cilantro, it can also be made with Parsley. I served it with Roast Chicken and a salad and it made the perfect meal.  The potatoes can be cooked ahead of time and then reheated in the sauce to save time, making this a wonderful dish for a dinner party! 

Blanca's Cilantro Potatoes

1 pound small New Potatoes, washed
1 small white or yellow Onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 bunch Cilantro, washed, large stems removed and chopped fine, about 1/2 cup
2 Tablespoons Butter
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large pot, cover the potatoes and boil until a knife can pierce them (about 20 minutes).  Drain and hold in a bowl (this step can be done ahead). In a large frying pan, heat butter and add onions. Cook until lightly browned (about 4 - 5 minutes), then add in the Cilantro and cook until Cilantro begins to wilt (this happens fast). Pour sauce over the potatoes and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element while the Onion and Cilantro contribute the Metal Element. It's missing the Wood, Fire and Water Elements (except for the very small amount of salt) so it's a good side dish for a meal that's composed mostly of those kinds of food and that's why I served it with a Fiery Salad and a Wood main dish - roast chicken.  And, I served soup first to bring in the Water Element to create a balanced Five Element meal.