Friday, February 19, 2016

Eggplant Bharta

I like Eggplant cooked in many ways and had a version that I particularly liked at a local Indian restaurant. So I decided to recreate Eggplant Bhurta at home. Even though they didn't give me their recipe, my version turned out really well. My only clues were that I could taste the Cumin and I could see the Turmeric. I also knew that as with many Indian dishes I like, it contained a combination of Garlic, Onion and Ginger along with some hot Chili. So, I roasted the Eggplant in the oven and then combined it with those ingredients and served it with Chicken Marinated in Spices (next post) and Saffron Rice. It can be made ahead and I think it tastes even better when the flavors have time to meld. It was delicious and was perfect when mixed with the rice! I think it would be good as a dip or spread on crackers too.

Eggplant Bharta

1 Large Eggplant
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 medium Onion, chopped into small pieces
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 inch by 1 inch slice of Ginger, grated or minced finely.
2 Medium Tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 Serrano Chili, minced fine
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place Eggplant on a baking sheet and cook until it is very soft and the skin begins to blacken - about 30 - 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut off the stem end and peel away the skin from the flesh. Chop the Eggplant and place in a bowl.

Heat oil in a frying pan and add in the Cumin Seeds until lightly browned. Then add in the Onions, Garlic and Ginger. Cook until the onion is tender and add in the Turmeric and Coriander. Then add in the Tomato, Serrano Chiles and Salt. Cook until the Tomatoes soften and become a paste. Then add in the Eggplant and cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring often.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant is one of the few Water Vegetables so that Element is covered. The Serrano Chili brings in the Fire Element along with the Tomatoes. The various Spices, Onion and Garlic contribute the Metal Element. Ginger, which adds the Metal Element too along with a bit of the Earth Element since it is a rhizome. But the Earth Element is deficient so this dish goes well with Earth foods, like Root Vegetables or Okra or Beef to create a Five Element balance.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Chocolate Mousse

It was Valentine's Day yesterday and I have a confession to make - I don't like really like Chocolate that much, but lots of people I love, love Chocolate. So, I decided to make Chocolate Mousse and I have to admit that it turned out so well that I decided to post the recipe. It was just how I wanted it to be - creamy and airy and with a lovely Chocolate flavor that was just right. It was delicious, although I didn't eat too much as it has cream in it. It was much easier to make than I expected, as long as you have a hand mixer and lots of bowls.  The Chocolate Mousse was really beautiful and so good - especially if you love Chocolate! 

I made it the French way, with beaten egg whites although some leave out the eggs or just used the yolks - to me that's more like pudding. The key to this dessert is in the quality of the Chocolate - use good Chocolate! I used 2 Scharfenberger Bars - one Bittersweet Chocolate and one Milk Chocolate, as I wanted this dessert to be on the sweet side. Dark Chocolate is a bit too bitter for Mousse, in my opinion - although I am sure some people would disagree with me. 

I used the Mousse recipe of Julia Child, which does not use cream and I didn't use the rum and coffee that she did. I did however, heat the egg yolks with sugar as she did. I mixed her recipe with a recipe from Tyler Florence, who adds Whipped Cream into the Mousse, although I left out the Vanilla Extract, as I like the simplicity of the Chocolate flavor all on it's own. He also uses Cream of Tartar in the Egg Whites, which I know stabilizes them. I did this because I don't have a Copper Mixing Bowl, which works much the same way and I am quite sure Julia Child used a Copper Bowl to make her Meringues! I must buy one soon. I also used Salted Butter, which they both don't, as I think that a hint of Salt brings out the flavor. I served it with little shavings of Chocolate on top and also served it the French way - in a big bowl instead of individual servings. It was a big hit and it is a dessert that looks much harder to make than it is!

Chocolate Mousse

6 ounces Chocolate - one Bittersweet Bar and one Milk Chocolate Bar broken into small pieces
4 Tablespoons Salted Butter
1/2 cup of Sugar, divided in half
3 large Eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup of Whipping (Heavy) Cream
2 additional Tablespoons of Sugar

For serving: Chocolate Shavings from an extra small bar of Chocolate - I used a cheese slicer to make the shavings.

Find a medium sized pot that one of your bowls will fit on when placed on top. Put one inch of water in the bottom of this pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and put the bowl on top. Put the Chocolate and Butter into the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Place the Egg Yolks in another bowl that fits on top of the pot and add in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Stir until the yolks get thicker and warm, much like the texture of a Hollandaise Sauce - about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into the Chocolate mixture.  

In a separate bowl, beat the Egg Whites until they are foamy. Add the Cream of Tartar and the other 1/4 cup Sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.  

In another separate bowl, mix the Cream with 2 Tablespoons of Sugar.  Beat until soft peaks form.

Now, combine the Chocolate Mixture with the Egg Whites, folding it in gently and then fold in the whipped cream until it is all just barely mixed - it is okay to have white streaks. Remove to a glass serving bowl and smooth the top. Cover and chill for several hours before serving.  When ready to serve, sprinkle Chocolate Shavings on top.

Five Element Analysis

This is a sweet Dessert containing Sugar, so of course it is first and foremost an Earth dish. The Chocolate adds in both the Fire Element with Chocolate with a touch of the Earth Element because of the Milk Chocolate. The Eggs contribute the Water Element and the Cream brings in the Metal Element. Only the Wood Element is missing so this is a good Dessert for a meal that contains a Wood main course, like Roast Chicken or one that contains lots of greens.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

White Kimchi

I think everyone is finally getting the idea about how important fermented foods are for your health. Kimchi is one of those foods that enhance the microbiome of the digestive system. This particular version is made without dried Red Pepper, which makes it much easier for those who have trouble with Spicy foods. White Kimchi is very similar to the Pickled Cabbage of Northern China, where my Grandfather comes from and they too like garlic in their Pickles. It is believed that this method of preserving Cabbage came down the Korean Peninsula where it met their fiery red Chili and became the Kimchi that most people recognize. This style is much milder and I personally think it is even more delicious! It gives you a faint fizz on the tongue when you first eat it and it is wonderfully crunchy, juicy and only mildly salty. I think it is the perfect accompaniment for a meal that is heavy on meat. This is my favorite way to add Probiotics to my diet - naturally!

White Kimchi

4 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
4 cups Water
½ Large Head of a large Napa Cabbage or whole small one, root end cut off, leaves separated

1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
4 cups Water
1 Asian Pear, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch julienned pieces
1 pound Daikon Radishes (as narrow in diameter as possible), stem and root ends cut off, peeled and cut into 1 inch by 1/3 inch pieces
6 Green Onions, ends trimmed, root end removed and cut into 1” lengths
4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced

In a large bowl, mix together the 4 Tablespoons of Salt and the 4 cups of Water and put in the Napa Cabbage leaves. Place a plate on top and something heavy (I used my stone Mortar) to weigh it down to keep the cabbage under the brine.  Let sit in a corner of your kitchen counter for 24 hours.

Then, drain and rinse the Napa Cabbage leaves and cut into 1 inch pieces. In the same large bowl, mix together the Salt, Sugar, Fish Sauce and Water until blended. Add in the Napa Cabbage pieces, the Asian Pear, Daikon, Green Onions and Garlic.  Mix together thoroughly and put the plate back on top of the mixture and press down with your heavy object so that all of the vegetables are in the brine and the brine comes over the top of it all. Let the Kimchi sit at room temperature for another 24 hours.

Take the Kimchi out of the bowl and put into a large jar. Pour in brine to cover completely and toss out the extra. Put in the refrigerator for at least one day before eating. 

Optional ingredients:  Sliced Red Pepper, Slivered Carrot, Jujubes – Dried Chinese Dates, Pine Nuts, Chinese Chives, etc.

Five Element Analysis

Kimchi because it is fermented and therefore considered sour is part of the Wood Element. However, the Napa Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element, the Fish Sauce and Salt contribute the Water Element and the Garlic Cloves, Asian Pear and Green Onions, as well as the Daikon Radish bring in the Fire Element.  The only element that is missing is the Fire Element, usually present in the Red Chili so it would be a good idea to add some Red Pepper or serve this with some other Fiery food or sauce as part of your meal to create a Five Element balance.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kalbi - Korean Short Ribs

Korean food has always been one of the few cuisines besides Chinese that my mother like sto eat. She particularly enjoyed going to the restaurants where you grilled your own meat and her personal favorite was Kalbi or Korean Short Ribs. With the Banchan assortment of different little vegetables, such as Spinach (previous post) and Mung Bean Salad along with Kimchi  (previous post) and Rice, she was always happy. I love Korean food too and although there are many good Korean restaurants here in Seattle, I am trying to avoid Soy Sauce in the marinades and dried Shrimp in the Kimchi. So, I mostly make Korean food at home. This recipe is the classic marinade for Kalbi. These Short Ribs are precut at Asian Markets, but if you can't find them, you could also use strips of steak, which make it more like Bulgogi (a previous post). Kalbi is very tender and flavorful and is most often served in LA (where my Mom lives) with lettuce and Gochujang Sauce, which often has wheat in it . I serve my Kalbi with Sriracha instead. It is best cooked on a grill, but I don't have one so I cook it in the broiler and it turns out wonderfully - Korean Short Ribs make a delicious dinner!

Kalbi – Korean Short Ribs

1 ½ pounds Short Ribs (with small Bones and sliced thin)
¼ cup Tamari
1/4 cup Rice Wine
3 Garlic Cloves minced
1 ½ - 2 Tablespoons Sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
2 teaspoons Toasted Sesame Oil
1 inch chunk of Ginger, peeled and chopped fine
5 Scallions, trimmed and chopped
3 Tablespoons Chopped Asian Pear (or Apple)

Mix all marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Then add in the Short Ribs. Massage the marinade into the meat and then put carefully into a large Ziploc Bag with the Marinade.  Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least two hours and preferably overnight - the longer you marinade it, the more flavorful it is.  

Heat broiler and put on a broiler pan and cook on one side until it is browned and sizzling. Turn over and cook the other side until done.

Serve with Lettuce, Gochujang Sauce if desired or Sriracha, Steamed Rice and Kimchi and other vegetables.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the sugar in this recipe adds even more. The Asian Pear along with the Ginger, Scallions and Garlic contribute the Metal Element.  The Tamari and Sesame Oil bring in the Water Element and the Fire Element is represented but the Rice Wine and either the Sriracha or Gochujang Sauce. The Wood Element is missing, which is why this dish should be served with Kimchi and/or Spinach for more of the Wood Element to create a Five Element flavor balance!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chinese Candied Kumquats

Happy Chinese New Year - this is the 6th Anniversary of 5 Element Food! I have added a Chinese New Year list of lucky foods in Pages that we can all eat for the next two weeks. I didn't cook on New Year's Day for the first time in a long time. I did however make Dumplings and Shanghai Year Cake for New Year's Eve. But on New Year's Day, I had a Grand Opening of the new Lotus Institute Seattle Office/Classroom. I served lots of lucky foods, mostly sweet with a few savory things too but I bought most of them. 

One of the lucky foods I meant to make was Candied Kumquats, which I made today instead.  Kumquats are considered lucky because they golden orange color symbolizes Prosperity and a Sweet Life when Candied.  Kumquats are also very good for you! They are full of Vitamin C and the Peel is considered very good for the Heart. Candied Kumquat Syrup is also a classic remedy for colds, coughs and sore throats.

I love Candied Kumquats and this is a very simple recipe that uses only Sugar and Water and if you like, you can also add a Cinnamon Stick or Ginger or Star Anise or all of them to spice it up. I personally like the plainest version as the distinct flavor of Kumquats is enough for me. The delicious syrup can be made into Tea or a Sparkling Drink, used as a glaze for Roast Meat or as a syrup for Pancakes. Candied Kumquats are a beguiling mixture of Bitter, Tart and Sweet Flavors made into a chewy confection. You can serve them moist or lightly dried and rolled in sugar - either way is wonderful! Although you can buy Candied Kumquats at Asian Markets, they are so much better when you make them yourself. Keep some in your refrigerator for this cold and flu season. You don't have to wait until Chinese New Year to make these - they are delicious anytime!  

Chinese Candied Kumquats

60 Kumquats, stem end removed
2 cups Sugar plus more for rolling in, if desired
2 cups Water
Optional:  2 Quarter size slices of Ginger, 1 - 2 Star Anise and/or 1 Cinnamon Stick

Using a small bamboo skewer or the sharp tip of a small knife, poke holes all over each of the Kumquats. Place in a pot and add sugar and water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to the lowest heat and simmer for one hour. Kumquats will become translucent and some seeds will have popped out. Let cool. 

Then, drain the Kumquats, reserving and straining the syrup. Take each Kumquat and squeeze lightly where you see a large seed inside. If necessary, take the small knife and cut a slightly larger opening to remove the seed. 

Return the Kumquats to the Syrup and let marinate overnight before serving so they plump up more or put Kumquats on a wire rack over a baking pan and let dry overnight. Then roll in sugar before serving.

Keep the remaining Syrup in the refrigerator and use for Tea or add to Tea to sweeten it, add to Sparkling Water, use as a Pancake Syrup and as a Glaze for Ham or a Pork Roast.

Five Element Analysis

Kumquats belong to the Wood and Fire Elements because you eat mostly the Peel, which is Fiery as it is bitter, but the inside flesh is quite sour. Candying them brings in the Earth Element and adding any of the spices contributes the Metal Element. While this is clearly not a dish to eat by itself, it does add some strong elements to a Tray of Togetherness that is served at Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fried Lotus Root

I am in countdown mode for Chinese New Year and will start shopping today. I make lots of lucky foods (see Chinese New Year Foods on Pages). But I also wanted to give you another food to try that is considered very lucky - Fried Lotus Root.  Isn't it beautiful? And you know I love beautiful food!  It symbolizes Continuing Wealth so be sure to eat it sometime during the two week New Year period. 

Lotus is my Chinese name and I have always been fascinated with the fact that you can eat just about every part of the plant. The Root in Chinese Medicine is considered very good for preventing and stopping bleeding. It is also considered good food for the Liver, Lungs and Stomach.

This dish is so easy to make and it is delicious - my son says that Fried Lotus Root tastes a lot like French Fries with an internal crunch. All that's required to make it is to buy Fresh Lotus Root which comes in connected sections. You peel it and slice it and then pan fry it in a small amount of oil. Sometimes you can find it already peeled and sliced, but be sure to dry it thoroughly as it is usually packed in some liquid. Then sprinkle with salt an enjoy - that's it!  Lucky Food made easily....

Fried Lotus Root

4 - 5 Segments of Lotus Root
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of Vegetable Oil (I use High Heat Safflower)
Sea Salt to Taste (about 1 teaspoon total)

Break Lotus Root into individual sections and cut off stem and connector ends. Then peel with a vegetable peeler. Slice into 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces.  Heat oil in a frying pan and place Lotus Root pieces in carefully. Cook until golden brown on one side and then slip over and cook until Golden Brown on the other side.  Drain on Paper Towels and Sprinkle with Sea Salt. Repeat until all slices are done.  

Five Element Analysis

As a root vegetable, Lotus Root belongs to the Earth Element, but because it is White, it is also a bit Metallic. The cooking method, frying, is Fiery and the Salt adds a little Water. While this snack is definitely not a balanced meal, it can contribute to your Five Element food balance for the day!