Saturday, October 31, 2015

Delicata Squash and Chard Salad with Sweet Chili Dressing

I bought a Delicata Squash the other day and I've never actually cooked one before - I usually stick with Butternut or Acorn Squash. What's different about Delicata is that the peel is edible and beautiful with it's dark green stripes. And you know I love food to be beautiful! So, I decided to make it in a way that my German Grandfather, Frank Rubright liked to make squash. He would cut it in half, take out the seeds and cook the squash cut side down in an oiled cast iron skillet until it was done. Of course, I modified this technique just a bit creating a bit of steam as well to cook it a little faster. What ends up happening is that the layer of the squash that is in contact with the pan gets caramelized and the rest of the squash stays soft. It gives you two textures with one cooking method. Then, you cut of the squash into thin slices, add it to cut up Swiss Chard leaves and drizzle it all with a salad dressing made of Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, pieces of a Navel Orange and Rice Vinegar. This combination creates a delicious and different kind of dressing - a little bit spicy and sweet, with the Orange and Rice Vinegar adding some tang to balance the flavor. Since it's now Squash Season, this dish is one that you need to try!

Delicata Squash and Chard Salad with Sweet Chili Dressing

1 Delicata Squah (as small and narrow as possible), cut in half, seeds scraped out
1 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil 
1/2 cup Water
1 bunch of Swiss Chard, washed, pulled from the stems and torn into small pieces.
1 Navel Orange, peeled and cut up into small pieces, reserve juice from cutting
2 Tablespoons Thai Chili Garlic Sauce
1 clove Garlic minced
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Pepper to taste

Oil a cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat until hot.  Put the Delicata Squash cut side down and cook until browned.  Then add 1/2 cup water and cover and cook until the water is    absorbed.  Remove squash from the pan and cut into thin slices - cut slices in half again if too large.

In a small bowl, mix together the Thai Chili Garlic Sauce, Garlic, Rice Vinegar, reserved Orange Juice and Vegetable Oil. Toss in the Orange pieces. Put Swiss Chard on a plate and add the pieces of Squash. Drizzle with the dressing to serve.  

Five Element Analysis

Squash belongs to the Earth Element and the sweetness of the Thai Chili Garlic Sauce makes this salad even Earthier. The Swiss Chard, Orange and Rice Vinegar contribute the Wood Element. The Garlic brings in the Metal Element and the Chili in the Thai Chili Garlic Sauce and Pepper add some Fire. Only the Water Element is missing so this would be great served with Fish or some other seafood, or Pork to create a Five Element meal.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vegetable "Bone" Broth

I was just teaching at CICM in Reading, England and a number of the students there asked me how to make the equivalent of Bone Soup for Vegetarians, which of course is made out of bones, and the answer is lots of root vegetables!  The purpose of Bone Soup (a previous post) is to enhance the mineral content of the body. The Bone Soups made of bones work by leaching the minerals out of Pork Bones, Chicken Bones and Beef Bones. This Vegetable Bone Soup gets the minerals out of the vegetables instead and it is very good for your bones! So, what's important when you are making a Vegetarian Bone Soup is that you leave the peels on the vegetables as that is where most of the minerals are. I like to brown the first group of vegetables - Onion, Carrots, Parsnips, Leeks and Turnips and Celery in Olive Oil to get them a bit caramelized. Then I add in the liquid and the other vegetables. If you want to make it a richer flavor, you can add in some tomatoes, which I often do but didn't have any today here at my friend's house in Bath. You can also use many other vegetables and even potatoes depending on what you have on hand.  Basically, the more vegetables you add, the richer the flavor and mineral content of the soup.  Or, you use Vegetable Broth to enhance the flavor, but I like the clean, pure flavor of this soup without the prepackaged broth. I'm not a Vegetarian, but this soup really satisfies. You can just drink the broth, but I like to eat the vegetables too.  It feeds your Kidneys and Bones because it is full of minerals and best of all, it  tastes so good!

Vegetable "Bone" Broth

1 large Onion, peeled and chopped
2 - 3 Carrots, stem ends removed and chopped up (do not peel)
1 - 2 Parsnips, stem ends removed and chopped up (do not peel)
1 Turnip, stem ends removed and chopped up (do not peel)
2 stalks of Celery cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Leek, White and Pale Green part only, cut in quarters and sliced, then washed
8 cups Water
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1/2 Savoy Cabbage, chopped
Handful of Green Beans, stem end removed and cut into small pieces

Optional:  2 Roma Tomatoes, stem end removed and cut into small pieces. Winter Squash, cut into small pieces, and/or Broccoli and Cauliflower or Potatoes cut up with the peels left on.

In a large soup pot, put in the Olive Oil and heat.  Add in the Onion, Leeks, Carrots, Parsnips, Turnip and Celery. Cook until the onions soften and just begin to brown. Add in the Water and Salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add in the Cabbage and Green Beans and any other vegetables and cook an additional 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with Pepper before serving.  

Five Element Analysis

Carrots, Parsnips and Cabbage belong the Earth Element and the Turnip adds even more, although it is a pungent vegetable so it is also considered a Metal food. The Onion and Leek contribute even more of the Metal Element. The Celery and Green Beans bring in the Wood Element and a broth Soup by it's very nature is part of the Water Element.  Only the little bit of Pepper contributes the Fire Element, so it is wise to add the Tomatoes to make this a Five Element Soup!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kelly's Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

I forgot to post this recipe last month while visiting my friend Kelly, but I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with you. This is a simple dish that makes Brussels Sprouts taste amazing and I liked it so much that I am going to serve it for Thanksgiving. It's a sauté of Bacon and Brussels Sprouts cooked together and then steam-fried briefly with Chicken Broth and sprinkled with pepper. Kelly used a package of Bacon pieces from Trader Joe's that was quite lean so she actually had to add some Olive Oil to make the sauté work.  The Bacon and Chicken Broth combination make the Brussels Sprouts more savory than usual and take away that boiled cabbage taste and smell that bothers so many people. It is a delicious dish and could make almost anyone a Brussels Sprout lover!

Kelly's Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, stem end trimmed and cut into quarters
1/2 cup of Bacon, cut up
1 cup of Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil (If needed)
Ground Pepper to taste

Put Bacon pieces in a large frying pan and cook until the fat starts to render.  Add Olive Oil if  the Bacon is lean. Then add in Brussels Sprouts and Saute until they just start to brown, stirring frequently. Pour in the Chicken Broth and cook on high heat until the Chicken Broth nearly evaporates, stirring often.  Sprinkle with fresh Ground Pepper and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Brussels Sprouts are a combination of the Wood Element because they grow on stalks and also the Earth Element because they are like miniature Cabbages and quite sweet when cooked. The Bacon adds in the Water Element and the Chicken Broth contributes more of the Wood Element.  The Pepper brings in just a hint of the Fire Element. This is not a balanced dish by itself and would be best served with a meal that brings in foods from the Metal Element and from the Fire Element to create balance. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Baked Salmon with Tamari-Mayo Glaze

I have guests visiting from Germany right now and of course I want to show them the sights of Seattle, which always includes a visit to Pike Place Market. While I am there, I take advantage of the incredibly fresh seafood, so I usually bring home a couple of Salmon Filets to make for my friends and I want to make it easy so I usually bake the salmon. Years ago, I got a recipe for a glaze for Salmon that I forget to use. It's a combination of Tamari and Best Foods (Hellman's) Mayonnaise with a little Lemon Juice added to it. It's simple, but it is magical. The glaze turns into something else altogether and what it does that is best (no pun intended) is to coat the Salmon so it doesn't dry out during the baking process. To make it even better, turn up the heat at the last minute to broil to create a bubbling browned surface. It's so good! And, it's good for you too. Salmon is full of Essential Fatty Acids - Omega 3s and Vitamin D. So here's another way to make Salmon that is perfect when you have guests as it cooks so beautifully without any watching, leaving you time to get the rest of the meal prepared.

Baked Salmon with Tamari-Mayo Glaze

3 pounds of Salmon - filleted
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise (or Hellmans)
3 Tablespoons Tamari
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (Juice of one Lemon)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Oil a large baking pan and then place Salmon Filets on it.  Spread half of the Tamari-Mayo Glaze on each piece of Salmon. Place in the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until fish just starts to flake in the largest sections. Turn the broiler on and cook for just a few minutes longer until the glaze starts to brown. Remove from oven and serve with additional slices of lemon and Tartar Sauce if desired (previous post).

Five Element Analysis

Salmon most definitely belongs to the Water Element and the Tamari adds even more. Baking it brings in a bit of the Fire Element.  The Lemon Juice contributes a bit of the Wood Element and the Mayonnaise represents the Metal Element. To make a balanced meal, be sure to add an Earth food and some more Fire Food too. I like to serve this with Potatoes and a big salad to create a Five Element balance.