Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tamari Tea Eggs

It's Chinese New Year in one week and that means you need to get ready to start making and eating lucky foods beginning on Chinese New Year's Eve, February 7th. So, I am giving you a recipe to make that is really easy and very lucky! Eggs are considered a symbol of fertility and creativity and the favorite way to make them for Chinese New Year or anytime is to basically dye them with Tamari and Black Tea. They are seasoned with Star Anise and Cinnamon. They are beautiful to look at and they taste great too. The only trick is to use eggs that are not too fresh or the shell will stick to the whites. And peel them very carefully - the membrane usually is what gets dyed the darkest so if you pull that off, it will be much paler in color, but it will still taste good! So, buy your eggs about a week in advance or use the oldest ones in your fridge. I make them pretty regularly as they are much more interesting and delicious than plain hardboiled eggs. They make an lovely, tasty and exotic Egg Salad too if you have any leftover eggs - just chop up the eggs and add a little Tamari to the Mayonnaise and a tiny bit of grated Ginger too and garnish with Green Onions. If you want to make Tamari Eggs without the bother, you can cook the eggs just a bit longer (7 minutes) then peel and place in the sauce, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and let stay in sauce for at least 15 minutes or refrigerate in the sauce. Either way, these eggs are delicious!

Tamari Tea Eggs

4 Large Eggs
1/4 cup Tamari
1/4 cup Boiling Water
1 Teabag - English or Irish Breakfast
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 Star Anise
1/2 Cinnamon Stick
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper

In a small saucepan, cover the Eggs with Water and bring to a boil. Cover and turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove eggs to cool slightly and reserve. Meanwhile, steep teabag in Boiling Water. Drain water from the pan and add in the Tea, Tamari, Sugar, Pepper, Star Anise and Cinnamon. Bring to a boil.

Crack the Eggs all over very carefully on the Kitchen Counter. When the Tamari/Tea mixture is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and add in the Eggs.  Shake the pan and roll the eggs around for 5 minutes.  Then take off heat and let steep in the sauce, turning every 5 minutes for about a total of 15 minutes.

Then, remove eggs and carefully peel off the shell (and preserving the membrane if possible) and serve whole.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element and the Tamari adds even more. The Tea and Black Pepper add the Fire Element and the Star Anise and Cinnamon contribute the Metal Element. The Wood and Earth Elements are missing so be sure to serve some other foods from those elements to create a balance. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Clay Pot Tofu

I saw my Clay Pot sitting on a shelf and decided it needed to be used so I made what it basically a Tofu Stew with it.  What's interesting about Clay Pots is that they are often used at the end of a cooking process so that the different ingredients are stir fried briefly then added together to finish inside the clay pot.  There is something quite wonderful about cooking in these vessels as they gently braise and I think it is a particularly good way to cook something delicate, like tofu.  This is a recipe that my Mother used to make and at the time, I wasn't conscious that it was Vegetarian. The Shitake Mushrooms take the place of meat and there is plenty of protein with the tofu. The Tofu gets infused with the sauce and it is so delicious over rice. Of course, you don't have to use a Clay Pot, you can finish this dish in a wok or frying pan. But Clay Pots are wonderful and I always feel like I am getting a present when I open it up to dish up what's inside!

Clay Pot Tofu

1 package Firm Tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch wide by 1/2 inch pieces and patted dry
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Carrot, trimmed, peeled and cut on the diagonal into thin slices
1 Leek, white part only, cut into 1 inch shreds
4 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces (slice in half if thick)
1/4 of a small Red Onion, sliced into thin 1 inch shreds
4 slices of Ginger, peeled (about the size of a quarter)
8 dried Shitake Mushrooms rehydrated in hot water for 20 minutes, stem removed and cut into quarters
1/2 cup Vegetable Broth (you can also use Chicken Broth)
3 Tablespoons Tamari
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil
1  Tablespoon Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons Water

Place the Clay Pot on the stove and add the Sauce Ingredients (Vegetable Broth, Tamari, Rice Wine and Sugar) and heat on low.  In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the Tofu. Cook first on one side until brown and then turn over to brown the other side. Remove the tofu and add to the Clay Pot.  Then add the Carrot, Leek, Green Onions, Red Onion and Mushrooms to the pan. Saute for a few minutes or until you can smell the fragrance and the Onion is translucent. Put into the Clay Pot and stir gently to mix ingredients. Turn the heat to Medium High and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid and add Cornstarch Mixture, turning heat up until the mixture comes to a boil again. Cook until the Cornstarch is incorporated and the sauce is glazed - about 30 seconds. Serve with Rice

Five Element Analysis

This method of Cooking is considered part of the Earth Element and the Carrots add an Earth ingredient along with the Ginger, which is also partially the Metal Element. The Tofu and the Green Onions, Red Onion and Leeks contribute even more Earth.  The Tamari and Sesame Oil bring in the Water Element  and the Fire Element is represented by the Rice Wine. Only the Wood Element is missing (unless you use Chicken Broth), so be sure to serve this with some green vegetables to create a Five Element balance. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Black and White Gomasio - Japanese Sesame Salt

For all of you who explored Macrobiotic cooking, you will recognize this condiment as it is one of the mainstays of that diet. It's been a long time since I had it and I recently saw it for sale at a health food store and I was inspired to make it again at home. It is really easy to make and so good with rice, especially brown rice.  It's a mixture of Sesame Seeds and Salt and that's it. The ratio varies between 12 parts Sesame to 1 part Salt up to 15 parts Sesame to 1 part Salt. I like my Gomasio a little less salty so I use the 15 to 1 ratio. To make it, you toast the Sesame Seeds and smash them a bit to give the final product a texture that is both soft and crunchy.  I like to mix both Black and White Sesame Seeds together as I think it is more beautiful, although White Sesame Seeds are more traditional.  It's so simple and oh so good for you. Sesame Seeds are considered one of the best foods for the Kidneys and the Black Sesame Seeds in particular are thought to help you grow hair. I would eat them just for that reason, but luckily this little condiment is also delicious!

Black and White Gomasio

3 Tablespoons White Sesame Seeds
2 Tablespoons Black Sesame Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Heat the Sesame Seeds in a small frying pan and cook until they smell toasted, pushing down with the back of the spatula to smash some of the Sesame Seeds. Then add in Salt and continue to stir until Salt is mixed in. Remove to a bowl and cool and put into an airtight glass jar. Serve over Rice.

Five Element Analysis

This is purely a Water Element Food as Sesame Seeds and Sea Salt all belong to this element.  Rice is Metallic when White and more Earthy when Brown, but clearly this needs to be part of a bigger meal to create a Five Element balance.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Seaweed Soup

It's that time of year for me to make lots of soup and last night I made one one of my childhood favorites - Seaweed Soup. I was given this soup a lot when I didn't sleep enough as it is so good for your Kidneys. This is a simple soup using Nori Seaweed - the same kind used for Sushi. It is added to Chicken Broth - preferably homemade - with bits of ground pork, which is traditional or ground chicken and cubes of tofu. You could add clams if you like too. It is garnished with Green Onions and seasoned with a bit of Tamari and Toasted Sesame Oil. You can easily make it vegetarian by using Vegetable Broth or Miso. It comes together in minutes and it tastes like the sea. It cooks in no time at all and is warm and nurturing. Although it is not a bone broth, the Seaweed is full of minerals, so this soup is also very good for your bones!  

Seaweed Soup

8 cups Chicken Broth (preferably homemade) - dilute 1/3 with water if using canned broth
1/4 cup ground Pork or ground Chicken
1/2 pound Firm Tofu, cut into small cubes
1 package of Nori Seaweed (10 Sheets), cut into small squares with scissors
3 Green Onions, sliced fine
2 - 3 Tablespoons Tamari
2 teaspoons Toasted Sesame Oil
Sprinkling of White Pepper to serve

Bring the Chicken Broth to a boil in a soup pot. When boiling, add in the ground Pork or Chicken and stir briskly to separate the clumps. Add in the Tofu and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then add in the Nori Seaweed, Green Onions, Tamari and Sesame Oil. Serve in large bowls and sprinkle White Pepper on top.

Five Element Analysis

Soup belongs to the Water Element and the Seaweed and pork if you use it along with the Tamari and Sesame Oil add even more so this is an especially Watery Soup. The Chicken Broth and chicken if you are using it, brings in the Wood Element. The Tofu and Green Onions bring in the Metal Element. Only the Black Pepper contributes the Fire Element so be sure to serve it with something Fiery and perhaps spicy hot and the Earth Element is missing so bring something in the meal that adds that too for a Five Element balance.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cauliflower Scallion and Cilantro Pancakes

I've been reading a lot about Cauliflower Pizza Crusts and Cauliflower Tortillas, so today I decided to join in and I made a variation on Chinese Scallion Pancakes. It was amazing! This is such a simple recipe and requires very few ingredients - basically Cauliflower and Scallions and Eggs. I added some Cilantro and my son requested some Ham in his, so I added that to his half of the recipe. There's no oil and just a little bit of salt is added for seasoning. Many recipes call for cooking the Cauliflower in the microwave for 2 minutes. If you have a problem with that, you can steam the Cauliflower like I did for 5 minutes once it is already chopped up. The texture is much better if you chop it first. These Savory Pancakes bake in the oven on parchment and take only 15 - 20 minutes. This is an easy, delicious and very healthy snack!

Cauliflower Scallion and Cilantro Pancakes

1 head of Cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup chopped Scallions (Green Onions)
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Optional:  1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped Ham

Line two baking pans with Parchment Paper. Place Cauliflower in a food processor and chop into very small pieces. Or, use a knife and chop finely. Place in a bowl in a steamer and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the Cauliflower from the steamer and add in the Cilantro, Scallions, Salt and Egg - add Ham if desired. Scoop an ice cream ball sized amount of Cauliflower Mixture onto the parchment. Press down with a spatula to make about a 3 1/2 to 4 inch circle. Then use the spatula to pull back the edges to make a neat circle.  Repeat 3 more times for one sheet and 4 more times for the second sheet.  Place into the oven for 10 minutes, moving the bottom pan to the top and the top to the bottom at 5 minutes. The bottom of the Pancakes should be browned. If they are not, leave in for a few more minutes. Take out of the oven and turn over carefully with a wide, thin spatula. If they break apart, just pus them back together. Return the pans back to the oven and cook for an additional 5 - 7 minutes or until the other side is browned.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Cauliflower is one of the few Metal Vegetables and the Scallions and Cilantro add even more. So this is a very Metallic snack!  The Eggs and Ham contribute the Water Element but all the other Elements are missing except for the fact that Cilantro also contributes a bit of the Wood Element too. I drank hot tea with these Savory Pancakes, so that added the Fire Element.  But, I also made sure to eat some Wood and Earth foods later.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tuna Salad with Nicoise Flavors

I was craving Tuna today and I wanted to make a salad that wasn’t creamy. I’ve been off Mayo lately, so I decided to transform one of my favorite Summer time foods – Nicoise Salad into a Tuna Salad with all the ingredients mixed in. Now, this recipe may very well offend purists, but I absolutely loved it!  I mixed a can of Tuna with the traditional ingredients – pieces of boiled Potato and a Medium Boiled Egg, a chopped Tomato, some diced cooked Green Beans and some Capers and a very few black olives I had in the fridge. I dressed the salad with a Vinaigrette that included anchovies and it was so delicious! I lined the serving bowl with lettuce and served it with Rice Crackers. It was the perfect Sunday lunch and brought me back to the Mediterranean with each bite. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled and I think it makes a wonderful spread with Crackers or Bruschetta and perfect for a party.

Tuna Salad with Nicoise Flavors

1 5 oz can Tuna (preferably packed in Olive Oil) drained
1 medium Yukon Gold Potato*, washed with peel left on
1/3 cup chopped Green Beans*
1 Roma Tomato, cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Capers
1 Egg*
2 Tablespoons Chopped Shallot or Red Onion
2 Tablespoons White Wine, Champagne Vinegar or White Balsamic
1 or 2 Anchovy Filets, mashed
1/3 cup Olive Oil
½ teaspoon flaky Sea Salt
1 scant teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Sprinkling of Black Pepper

Optional:  2 Tablespoons of pitted black olives cut into small pieces and/or
A sprinkling of fresh Tarragon or Basil Leaves

In a saucepan, cover the potato with water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potato is tender, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove and cool and carefully put the egg and green beans into the water. Cook for 9 minutes, drain and add cold water into the pot to cool down the green beans and egg.

In a small bowl, put the Shallot, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Anchovy and Dijon Mustard.  Stir to mix thoroughly and reserve.

Peel the Potato and cut into a small dice. Then peel the Egg and cut into small pieces. Then cut the Green Beans into small pieces. Place all in a serving bowl. Add in the Tuna, the Tomatoes, the Capers and the Olives. Drizzle the Vinaigrette over the top and stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with the Sea Salt and fresh ground Pepper. Serve in a bowl lined with lettuce and Crackers or Bruschetta on the side.

*Note: This is a great dish for using up leftover Potatoes and Green Beans or Hardboiled Eggs.

Five Element Analysis

Tuna belongs to the Water Element and the Anchovies and Egg add even more. The Vinegar, Olive Oil and Capers contribute the Wood Element. Tomatoes make sure that the Fire Element is present and the lettuce too if you eat it at the end.The Earth Element is represented by the Green Beans and Potatoes. The Dijon Mustard and herbs bring in the Metal Element.  This then is a perfectly balanced Five Element dish without even adding the crackers!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Green Chili Chicken

I was in the mood for something warm and soothing, but I wanted something more substantial than soup. I had some Chicken Thighs thawed out. I didn't want to make my usual go to Chicken Stew with Tomatoes so I pulled out a can of Green Enchilada Sauce and a can of whole Green Chiles from New Mexico and combined them with chopped Onions and Green Pepper to make it taste fresh and it turned into a wonderful Southwest style dish. I don't use many ingredients that are canned, but I do like Green Chiles. This combination is really delicious and it was just what I wanted! I haven't made this dish for a long time. It used to be one of my kids' favorite burrito fillings, although I like it best over rice and with beans. It takes an hour to cook, but if you want to use your pressure cooker, you can do it in half the time. Green Chili Chicken is nurturing and homey with just the right flavor of smooth, yet piquant Green Chiles - perfect for a cold Seattle evening. 

Green Chili Chicken

1 pound boneless Chicken Thighs, cut into cubes
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 small 4 ounce can Green Chilis
1- 19 ounce can of mild Green Enchilada Sauce
1 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

In a large pot, pour in the Oil and heat and then add in the Onions and Green Pepper pieces. Saute until you smell the fragrance. Then add in the Chicken pieces and cook until they turn opaque, stirring often.  Then add in the Green Enchilada Sauce, Green Chili and Chicken Broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and cook on a simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until the Chicken is tender.  Serve over Spanish Rice or add in a can of drained White Beans or serve the Rice and Refried Beans on the side or make into Burritos.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element. The Green Pepper and Green Chiles contribute the Fire Element.  The Onion brings in the Earth Element because they cook so long get sweet and the fact that this is a stew,  The Metal Element comes from the Rice and the Water Element comes from serving it with Beans. This dish with it's sides ends up being a balanced Five Element meal!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Miso Glazed Eggplant

I found myself in the last few days cleaning out draws, cupboards and yes, even the refrigerator. Tucked back in the corner on the bottom shelf was a little tub of Miso that I simply forgot that I had. Miso is an amazing ingredient, full of that special Umami flavor and I adore it.  So, I pulled out some Japanese Eggplants that I just bought and made a quick glaze for them and broiled them in the oven.  It was so delicious!  This is something many of you may have tried in a Sushi Restaurant, but it is so easy that you will be happy to know that you can make it at home with very little bother. I didn't use any extra sugar because used Mirin and Seasoned Rice Vinegar to offset the Tamari and Sesame Oil. This eggplant has a soft texture with a flavor that is slightly sweet and and a little savory, slightly tangy with a complex rich, deep flavor that just can't be described accurately. It elevates Eggplant to another level. I hope you try this recipe!

Miso Glazed Eggplant

2 Japanese or Chinese Eggplant (Dark Purple or Light Purple, long thin Eggplants), stem end removed and cut in half length wise
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Yellow Miso
2 teaspoons Mirin (Japanese Rice Wine)
2 teaspoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Tamari
1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame OIl
1 teaspoon grated Ginger

Turn oven on to Broil to heat.  In a small bowl, mix together the Miso, Mirin, Rice Vinegar, Tamari, Sesame Oil and Ginger. Then, place the Eggplant, cut side up on a baking sheet and brush each piece of Eggplant with 1/2 Tablespoon of Oil.  Place about 6 inches below and broil for 5 - 7 minutes, being careful not to burn it (but if you do burn it by accident, just peel off the top layer). The Eggplant should be lightly browned and soft to the touch on the sides. Remove from oven and spoon on 1/4 of the glaze mixture on each Eggplant. Return to the broiler for 3 - 5 minutes or until the glaze is bubbling and browned. Watch carefully! Can be served hot, warm or cold.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant belongs to the Water Element and so does Miso, so this is a good dish for the Kidneys. The Tamari and Sesame Oil add even more of the Water Element so this is a good dish to eat in the Winter. The Mirin brings in the Fire Element and the Rice Vinegar contributes the Wood Element and the Ginger contributes a little bit of the Wood Element. So, this dish contains mostly the Water Element, but a little of all the rest too making it more balanced than it seems!