Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tomato Tahini Dip and Dressing

I just returned back from a wonderful trip to Israel. I was teaching at the ICCM Congress and on my first day off, I headed for the Food Market. There I bought a big bottle of Tahini, some Date Honey, Pomegranate Molasses, Olive Oil, Zatar, Sumac, Dates and Halvah. Luckily it all fit in my suitcase - I was very worried that it was going to be over the weight limit. It's now my second day back and I had to start using my goodies! 

So, I broke open the Tahini and made a dip that I had at a wonderful restaurant called Puaa in Jaffa - the old part of Tel Aviv.  It was Tahini but it had tomato in it and was topped with a drizzle of olive oil and Sumac. Sumac is tart berry and I love the flavor it adds. This Tahini Dip was so good that I had to figure out how to make it. I asked my friend Karine and she gave me this basic recipe. It's simple - just mix Roasted Tahini with cold water and add lemon juice, a small amount of garlic and a tomato in the Cuisinart and puree it all up. Of course you can make it by hand, but be prepared for the Tahini to seize up before it softens again.  Then top it with the olive oil and Sumac. This would be good as a dip for vegetables - that's how I served it or with Pita Bread or Pita Chips. I think it would also be a wonderful salad dressing if you made it a bit thinner in consistency. Tahini is made with Sesame Seeds and they are very good for your kidneys. They are also full of calcium and iron and are full of minerals and vitamins.  So, consider this a very healthy snack no matter what you dip into it!

Tomato Tahini Dip and Dressing

1 cup Roasted Tahini
1/2 cup cold water (a bit more if making a dressing)
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
1 Roma Tomato, stem end removed and cut into small pieces
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 - 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sumac

Stir the jar of Tahini before measuring. Take one cup of Roasted Tahini paste and put into the Cuisinart.  Add the water and blend. Then add in the Garlic Clove, Lemon Juice, Tomato and Salt. Process until fully blended.  If making into a dressing add more water a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.  If using as a dip, spoon into a serving bowl and drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle with Sumac. Serve with hot Pita Bread, Pita Chips or cut up Carrots, Celery, Zucchini and Red Pepper strips.

Five Element Analysis

Tahini is made of ground Sesame Seeds and belong to the Water Element and this dish really supports the kidneys. The olive oil along with the lemon juice and Sumac add the Wood Element.  The Tomato brings in the Fire Element and the garlic clove makes sure that the Metal Element is present too.  Only the Earth Element is missing, which is why I served it with Carrot Sticks, Celery and Red Pepper Strips. If you serve it with Pita Bread or Chips, you are adding more of the Wood Element so be sure to serve something else that includes an Earth Element food to create balance.  I think some Dates for dessert would be perfect!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Roasted Artichokes with Lemony Garlic Butter

I read a Cooks recipe online about how to roast artichokes and I was intrigued. I learned how to make steamed artichokes when I was a teenager and I've been making them that way ever since. But, it's is a good time to make a change. And, since I love roasting so many other kinds of vegetables, I knew this would be good and it was. It was delightful! The artichokes come out nutty and more deeply flavored as there is no water to dilute the taste. This recipe is simple and only the preparation takes a bit of time.  Basically, you cut off the tops of the artichokes, clean out the choke and then drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and salt. Then you roast the them on a high heat. The original recipe called for covering them with foil, but I didn't have any and I liked the result, so I'm going to keep on doing it this way. Covering them would still be a variation on steaming them. I veered off the recipe when it came time to dressing them. Because they have such a lovely empty space above the heart, I poured in a small amount of Lemony Garlic Butter and then each leaf and the heart was coated with sauce and no dipping was required. This recipe can easily be doubled for a crowd. A big thank you to Cooks Magazine for inspiring me. I loved artichokes this way so much that I'm going to make them again tonight!

Roasted Artichokes with Lemony Garlic Butter

3 Large Glove Artichokes, rinsed
Juice of one lemon mixed with about 8 cups of water in a large bowl
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Salted Butter (or use Unsalted Butter and a bit of salt)
1 garlic clove minced
1 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice

Take each artichoke and cut off the top 1/3. Then cut in half. Pull out the inner purplish and pale green leaves and then use a spoon to scrape out the choke. Put artichoke halves in the  lemon water and repeat for other artichokes.  

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Then take the artichokes out of the water and place on a large baking sheet cut side up. Drizzle the artichoke halves with half the olive oil and salt and then turn cut-side down onto the baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining oil and salt. Roast for 30 minutes.  

When done, heat butter in a small frying pan. Add garlic and cook until soft. Stir in lemon juice (and salt if using unsalted butter). Place artichokes cut side up on a serving plate.  Pour a small amount of the garlic butter into each artichoke half and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Artichokes belong to the Wood Element and they are in fact good medicine for a stagnant liver. The Butter and Garlic contribute the Metal Element so this dish is missing all the other elements.  It is recommended as a side dish for a meal that also includes Fire, Earth and Water dishes.  I served it with a salad for Fire that included some Earthy vegetables - carrots and zucchini and Fish for the Water Element.   

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Black Lentil Soup with Indian Flavors

You know those days when you have no idea what to cook? It's times like that when I get the most creative, as I have to mine my pantry and refrigerator vegetable drawers to create dinner. Last night, I had completely forgotten to prepare anything, I looked over at my jar of beautiful little Black Lentils and thought that it was time to use them. They are very tiny and are often called Beluga Lentils since they look so much like Caviar.  Lentils are part of the Pulse family and are high in protein, iron and other minerals too. They are considered one of the world's best foods.  

So, I made soup. As last night was the first rainy night we've had it Seattle for a while (really!), I was in the mood for something warming so I used Indian Spices. I also ended up using Chicken Broth to enhance the flavor, but this could just as easily become a Vegetarian soup with a good Vegetable Broth or just plain water instead.  It took only one hour to cook and I topped this beautiful and delicious with some caramelized Shallots because they brown up so nicely. And then I sprinkled on some chopped Cilantro before serving. It was so good - creamy, lightly spiced, definitely warming.  Now I have another soup to add to my repertoire.    

Black Lentil Soup with Indian Flavors

2 cups Black Lentils, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2" piece of Ginger, peeled and grated (or minced)
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala

1 14.5 oz can Chopped Tomatoes
8 - 9 cups diluted Chicken Broth (or can use Vegetable Broth or just Water)
Salt to taste

Topping:  2 large Shallots sliced cooked in 2 Tablespoons Butter until Caramelized 
1 cup of loosely packed Cilantro Leaves, chopped

Put a large soup pot on the stove and heat the butter until melted. Add the Onions, Garlic and Ginger and stir until onions are softened. Add in the spices and cook until they change color by getting darker. Add in the Black Lentils, the Tomatoes and the Broth.  Cook for one hour.  Add additional Broth or Water if the soup gets too thick. Season to taste with salt.

When done, cook the Shallots in butter until Caramelized, stir them into the soup and top the soup with Cilantro to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Lentils belong to the Earth Element so this is a primarily Earthy food. But the spices, Garlic, Onions and Shallots contribute the Metal Element.  Since it is a soup, it is intrinsically Watery and the Wood Element is represented by the Chicken Broth. The Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element  so this then becomes a balanced bowl of soup!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Seed and Nut Bread by Sarah Britton

My mother-in-law in Copenhagen makes a wonderful seed and nut bread from a mix that is bound together by eggs and cheese. It is delicious but I don't dare have too much as I am lactose intolerant. So, I've been searching every since for a recipe that was similar. I found the perfect recipe one day on a food blog called mynewroots.org by Sarah Britton. And, I just had to share it with you. She is an American who lives in Copenhagen and she calls this bread The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread and it is. If you are searching for a gluten-free bread that is like the wonderful dark rye and seed breads of Northern Europe, this is the recipe for you. It's very adaptable and full of fiber, which does wonders for your digestion! That's mostly due to the Chia Seeds and Psyllium Husk powder. And, the seeds and nuts are all soaked before baking, which enhances digestion as well.  

Of course, I did have to tweak the recipe just a bit. I like my bread a little saltier so I added more and Martin loves pumpkin seeds so I added them instead of sunflower seeds in the second batch. Then, instead of using Almonds, I added Hazelnuts. I also cooked it a bit longer too so it was more crusty and a little drier. I have to say that it tasted completely different but also delicious. It was also a darker loaf and looked more like Danish Rye Bread.  Next time, I'm going to try Quinoa Flakes and/or Millet to see what happens. I'm also going to use my Danish loaf pan which is narrower and deeper to make the slices more like regular bread.

We like this bread toasted and I like it with Butter and I sometimes add Ham (with a bit of Dijon Mustard) and I love it spread with a Basil Pesto or a Sun Dried Tomato Pesto or  to top it with Chicken or Tuna Salad. Martin likes his best with Smoked Salmon. And, I've been told it is great with Cream Cheese and Cheddar Cheese too. However you serve it, this is a brilliant recipe and I wish I had invented it.  So, thank you Sarah Britton!

Seed and Nut Bread by Sarah Britton

1 cup Sunflower Seeds (or Pumpkin Seeds)
1/2 cup Flax Seeds
1/2 cup Almonds (or Hazelnuts) chopped up
1 1/2 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats
3 Tablespoons Psyllium Husk Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup (or Agave Syrup or Honey)
3 Tablespoons melted Butter or Ghee (or Coconut Oil) melted
1 1/2 cups water

In a loaf pan, combine all the dry ingredients except the salt. In a small bowl, stir together the Maple Syrup, melted Butter or Coconut Oil, salt and the water. Add to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. Smooth top and leave for 2 hours up to overnight

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread for 20  minutes and then remove bread from the loaf pan. Put loaf directly onto the rack and bake for another 45 minutes until lightly 
browned. Let cool completely before slicing.  

Five Element Analysis

Since this bread is made primarily with seeds, it is considered a mostly Water Food. By adding the Almonds or Hazelnuts, you bring in some of the Earth Element and the Oats add even more. Although the Butter adds a hint of the Metal Element, that element is a little deficient. And, both the Fire and Wood Elements are missing. So, the best way to create balance is in the toppings - change them and vary them or serve a lot of them to create a Five Element balance.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wilted Mustard Green Salad with Miso Dressing

I always forget how much I like Mustard Greens so I don’t buy them very often. But luckily I picked up some by mistake while reaching for Kale.  And, instead of my usual sauté, I decided instead to make a salad. Mustard Greens have a peppery kick like Arugula and when made into a salad needs to be massaged like Kale. The difference is that it wilts, but I think that is part if its’ charm. So, I usually add some vegetables with some crunch – in this case Red Pepper and Daikon Radish. To make this a main dish salad, I also added Edamame to give it some protein content.  I actually had a bag of them in the freezer and boiled and peeled them but you can buy them already peeled too to save time.  Anyway, this is a delicious salad and the salad dressing is so versatile that it can be used for salads made of many other vegetables, like spinach, cabbage or even on tofu.

Wilted Mustard Green Salad with Miso Dressing

2 bunches of Mustard Greens (about 6 cups torn up leaves)
4 green onions, minced
1 small red pepper, cut into small pieces
1 cup Edamame (I used Trader Joe’s brand – frozen and thawed)
1 cup of Daikon Radish, peeled and cut into small pieces

Put Mustard Greens in a large bowl.  Pour dressing over and massage in with your hands.  Then add in the Green Onions, Red Pepper, Edamame and Daikon Radish. Toss to mix and serve.

Miso Dressing

1 heaping Tablespoon Yellow Miso
2 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1” square piece of Ginger, minced or grated
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Tamari
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Sugar

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl with a whisk and drizzle over the Mustard Greens. 

Five Element Analysis

Mustard Greens belong to the Wood Element so that element is covered and the Miso, being fermented adds even more. The  Red Pepper contributes the Fire Element.  The Earth Element is found in the Edamame as it grows underground and the Daikon and the Green Onions contribute the Metal Element. The Water Element is represented by the Sesame Oil and the Tamari. This then is a perfectly balanced salad!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Leslie's Tofu and Kale Breakfast Stir Fry

I stayed with my sister last week and so enjoyed spending time with her.  She's become vegan and made a wonderful breakfast of tofu and kale.  It was very much like one of our old breakfast staples growing up - Tofu Kan. That is stir fried tofu lightly seasoned with soy sauce and was a great protein boost in the morning. My sister updated it by adding pieces of kale, which when cooked very lightly, does not taste bitter. It was a wonderful dish that made you feel like you were eating something very healthy to start the day. My sister used pressed tofu from Trader Joe's that she cut up and keeps packages of pre-cut Kale from there in the fridge too. When she makes it for herself, she makes half of this recipe. This is a super fast breakfast for those mornings when you are on the go and need to eat protein like I do.  I think it is a simple and delicious anytime dish that I encourage you to try soon!

Leslie's Tofu and Kale Breakfast Stir Fry

1 lb package of pressed Tofu (can also use Extra Firm Tofu), sliced into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
2 cups Kale, cut up into small pieces
2 green onions, ends removed and cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Oil
2 Teaspoons Tamari

In a frying pan, heat the oil and then add in the Tofu. Cook until the Tofu just starts to brown.  Then add in the Green Onions and Kale.  Cook until the kale wilts.  Sprinkle with the Tamari and toss to coat. 

Five Element Analysis

Tofu because it is made from soybeans belongs to the Water Element and because it is processed and white is considered part of the Metal Element as well.  The Kale brings in the Wood Element and the Green Onions contribute more Metal and the Tamari enhances the Water Element a bit more too. So, the Earth and Fire Elements are not present.  Fire can be easily added with some tea and the Earth Element should be present in other meals during the day.