Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hendrik's Baked Feta

This is another dish we served at the Party because it is one of Hendrik's favorite foods, but I forgot to take a good picture of it, so all I have is this little far-away shot of it. This amazing Appetizer Spread is a combination of Feta Cheese, cut up Cherry Tomatoes, a whole bunch of minced Scallions and Capers baked in the oven until it is melty and unctuous. Served on Crackers or grilled bread, it was a wonderful blend of classic Mediterranean flavors. I used authentic Greek Sheep's Milk Feta, which I can handle much better than the Cow's Milk Cheeses. The briny flavor of the Cheese and Capers blended beautifully with the tartness of the Tomatoes and the savory Scallions. Although we served this as an Appetizer, it is a recipe from his Mother, Ulla, that is intend to be used as a topping for baked Salmon and I think that adding chunks of Salmon to it would be amazing (after cooking it halfway). It's so easy to make and it was a big hit at the Party. You might want to consider making it at a party you host sometime soon too!

Hendrik's Baked Feta

3 packages Sheep's Milk Feta - about 24 ounces total, cut into small cubes
1 large bunch of Scallions (about 8) stem end removed, chopped into small pieces
2 cups of Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
1 small jar of Capers, drained (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large baking dish with high sides, mix together the Feta, Scallions, Cherry Tomatoes, Capers, Olive Oil and Pepper.  Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until Cheese and Tomatoes are soft and the top is lightly browned. If adding Salmon, cook for 25 minutes and then add in Salmon and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. If you like it browner after it is cooked through, heat the oven to broil and broil carefully for up to 5 minutes. Serve with Crackers or toasted Bread.

Optional: One pound of boneless, skinless Salmon, cut into chunks.  

Five Element Analysis

Feta Cheese belongs to the Metal Element and the Scallions add even more. The Cherry Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the Capers and Olive Oil make sure that the Wood Element is also represented. The Earth and Water Elements are missing, so I served it with Potato Crackers and had other Appetizers that brought in the Water Element to make a balanced Five Element Appetizer Spread.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kiesser's Chicken Liver Pate

I've been meaning to post this recipe for several weeks now - ever since I got the recipe from my Mother in Law. This is simply the best Chicken Liver Pate ever!  My friend Kelly says it is the only one she has ever been able to eat and enjoy because doesn't taste like liver. To her, it is reminiscent of Thanksgiving stuffing with giblets. I personally love Pate - preferably French, but this one is now my all time favor. This Pate is always a huge hit at family parties. I recently brought one to my class to serve at break and it was completely devoured in 15 minutes - it's that good!  It's one of those recipes that you have the urge to keep secret but I feel like this is one that I have to share.  

Kiesser’s Chicken Liver Pate

¾ lb of Chicken Livers
1 small Red Onion minced fine
3/4 cup Whipping Cream
3 Tablespoons of Oat Flour
1 Egg
4 ounces of Butter
1 tsp of Dried Thyme
1 tsp Dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1.4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper
3 - 4 large Bay Leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend the Liver with onion in the food processor to a coarse blend. Melt the butter in frying pan, put the Cream in and stir in the Chicken Livers and Onion mixture with the Oat Flour, Egg, Thyme, Basil, Salt and Pepper. Blend well.  

Put in 3 small aluminum trays or one Casserole dish. Garnish with Bay Leaves on top
Place trays or Casserole dish in a larger baking pan and fill the larger pan with Boiling Water bath halfway up.  Bake the small trays for about 45 minutes or the Casserole for about 60 minutes. Use a skewer to test doneness. The skewer will show moistness but not a sticky residue and that's how you know it is done. Cook for 5 minutes longer if necessary. Remove from oven and serve warm or refrigerate to serve later cold with Crackers or Bread.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken Livers belong to the Wood Element so this is primarily a Wood food. The Cream, Red Onion, Basil, Thyme and Bay Leaves add in the Metal Element. The Oat Flour makes sure that the Earth Element has a little representation and the Egg brings in the Water Element. Only the Fire Element is missing (except for the trace amount of Pepper), which can certainly be added with a good cup of Tea along with the Crackers and Bread that bring in even more of the Wood Element. So, serving this with another appetizer containing Tomatoes or Red Peppers would also be a good idea to create a balanced Five Element Appetizer Spread.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Marinated Mushrooms

Here's another dish that we served at Hendrik's party - Marinated Mushrooms. I love Marinated Mushrooms and I've been making them since I was a teenager. I used to marinate them raw, but for many years, I've been sautéing them first, which I think gives them a much richer flavor. This is one of the easiest appetizers, ever! All you do is take fresh Cremini Mushrooms and cook them with Garlic slices very briefly in some Olive Oil. Then you add a marinade of either Red Wine Vinegar or Lemon Juice along with some Thyme. This is an herb that I think was made to go with Mushrooms and I usually leave a few sprigs whole to garnish on the top. You let it sit for a few hours and you have a tasty and addictive appetizer!

Marinated Mushrooms

2 pounds Cremini Mushrooms, washed, cut stems off and then cut into quarters
2 large Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar (or fresh Lemon Juice)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme Leaves (plus a few extra sprigs)

 Sauté the Mushrooms and Garlic slices in Olive Oil for about 3 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl.  Add Red Wine Vinegar (or Lemon Juice), Salt and Thyme.  Stir well and cover for several hours in the refrigerator.  Place extra Thyme sprigs on top before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Mushrooms belong to the Earth Element. The Garlic and Thyme contribute the Metal Element.  The Red Wine Vinegar brings in the Wood Element.  The small amounts of Salt and Thyme bring in just a hint of the Water and Metal Elements and more Metal comes from the Garlic. The Wood Element is represented but the Olive Oil and Vinegar. But, the Fire Element is missing so adding dishes like Roasted Peppers or Tomato Bruschetta   would be good and another Watery food, like Eggplant Caponata like we did made it a balanced Appetizer spread just perfect for the party!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rustic Green and Black Olive Tapenade

I'm cooking with Kelly for our friend Hendrik's birthday party tonight and we decided on Italian Appetizers. One of the dishes that turned out really well was the Olive Tapenade. We are both big fans of this spread and we brought together both Green and Black Olives as green ones are my favorite and black ones are hers. We minced them fine as we had no Cuisinart and we added in some Garlic and Sun Dried Tomatoes too. The seasoning was fresh chopped Thyme and Oregano and just a pinch of Sugar to round out the flavors. It was a big hit with Crackers and Bruschetta (mine were Gluten Free of course!) I don't think I'll be buying Tapenade again as it was so easy to make and so delicious. I also liked the rustic nature of this spread so I'll be making it this way again soon!

Rustic Green and Black Olive Tapenade

1 cup Green Olives
1 cup Black Olives
1/4 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in Olive Oil and drained
2 Garlic Cloves minced
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh Thyme, minced 
1/4 teaspoon fresh Oregano, minced

Mince the Green Olives, Black Olives and Sun Dried Tomatoes. Place in a bowl and add in the Garlic, Olive Oil, Thyme, Oregano and Sugar. Mix to blend well. Refrigerate for several hours so the flavors can meld.

Five Element Analysis

Olives belong to the Wood Element and so does Olive Oil so this is a very Woody Appetizer and Spread, especially when served with Wheat Bread and Crackers.  The Sun Dried Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the fresh and pungent herbs add the Metal Element. The Sugar brings in just a hint of the Earth Element but to balance the appetizer tray out, it would be a good idea to serve an Earthy food appetizer, like Marinated Mushrooms along with something Watery, like Salami or Prosciutto like we did to create a Five Element balance. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Deirdre's Quinoa Salad

I am in Germany at present, teaching and staying at a friend's house which means I can cook with my friends!  The other night we made a Quinoa Salad that was so good, I just had to share it with you. One of the tricks I learned was to roast the Red Pepper in little pieces so it cooks faster. I love Quinoa because it is full of protein so it makes an excellent lunch salad when I am teaching as I don't like to go out. I like that I can make it ahead and I think it tastes even better the second day.  This is a versatile salad and any number of vegetables can be added in. We cooked the Quinoa with some leftover Green Beans, some Red Peppers that we quickly roasted cut up in the oven and some chopped up Arugula and Parsley. The dressing was a bit of Apple Cider Vinegar and a little Coconut Oil. It was delicious!  Be sure to rinse the Quinoa as it will be a bit bitter if you don't and use your imagination when adding new ingredients to the basics of this wonderful high protein Salad.

Deirdre's Quinoa Salad

1 cup Quinoa, rinsed
2 cups Water
1 large clove Garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped cooked Green Beans
1 Red Pepper, cut into small pieces
a Handful each of Parsley and Arugula chopped fine
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 heaping Tablespoon Coconut Oil*
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper

Optional: diced Avocado, chopped Tomatoes - fresh or dried, Cucumber, cooked Broccoli, cooked Cauliflower, cooked Corn off the cob, cooked Peas, chopped Radishes, Crumbled Bacon, Feta Cheese, etc.

*You can easily substitute Lemon Juice and Olive OIl is desired, but use slightly more of each.

Add rinsed Quinoa and Garlic to 2 cups water in a small pot. Bring to a boil and cover, reducing heat. Cook for 20 minutes.  

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place Red Pepper pieces on a Parchment covered baking sheet and roast for 15 - 20 minutes, tossing once half way through.  Check frequently after 10 minutes so that the pieces do not burn. Remove and cool.

Mix together the cooked Quinoa with the Green Beans, the Roasted Pepper pieces, the Parsley and Arugula. Stir in the Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Oil, Salt and Pepper.  This salad can be served hot but is even better when chilled and served later as it allows the flavor to meld.  

Five Element Analysis

Quinoa is a seed so it belongs to the Water Element. The Green Beans contribute the Wood Element and is enhanced by the Vinegar. The roasted Red Pepper contributes the Fire Element. The Coconut Oil brings in a little of the Earth Element and the Parsley and Arugula make sure that the Metal Element is present too. This then is a lightly balanced Five Element Salad. To make it even stronger, add in an additional Earth food, like Cucumber, or Corn to make it a fully balanced salad or serve dessert after to make a fully balanced meal!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Antonie's Smoked Fish Spread

I had a marvelous Fish Spread here in Denmark that my stepdaughter Antonie made.  It's a simple recipe but so good that i had to share it with you. She took Smoked Mackerel, which is common her and combined it with a little bit of Onion, Lemon, a high quality Mayonnaise and chives. Blended together, it made such a good topping for crackers that I know I will be making this spread again. Chances are, though, that I will be using Hot Smoked Salmon or Smoked Trout instead, as they are much easier to find in Seattle. It was simple, but so delicious. I think you will love it too!

Antonie's Smoked Fish Spread

1/2 pound of Smoked Fish (Mackerel, Salmon or Trout)
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon finely minced Yellow Onion
2 Tablespoons of minced Chives (reserve 1 Tablespoon for garnish)

Remove any dark flesh from the Smoked Fish and break up with your fingers and place in a bowl.  Add Mayonnaise and Lemon Juice and mash it into the fish with a fork until it makes a paste.  Then add the minced Onions and half of the Chives. Mix to combine. Sprinkle with the remaining Chives and refrigerate for several hours so the flavors can meld.  Serve with crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Fish belongs to the Water Element, but smoking it makes it a bit Fiery too. The Lemon Juice contributes the Wood Element, while the Metal Element is represented by the Onion, Chives and the Mayonnaise, as condiments belong to this element - especially one that is white in color. Only the Earth Element is missing so I ate it with Potato Crackers to make a balanced Five Element snack!

Monday, April 11, 2016


Oh my it's been a long time since I posted!  Of course, I have been doing some cooking, but not very much as I have been traveling. I am now in Europe and I am posting something I made just before I left. It is a deconstructed version of a dish I had outside of Jerusalem on the way back from the Dead Sea.  It is an Arab dish called Maqlubah, sometimes spelled Maklubah, which apparently means "upside down." This dish gets it's name because it is turned over and served like an upside down cake when it is done. It is a homey dish full of Chicken or Lamb, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Potatoes or Cauliflower, onion and rice that is full of flavor. When served with a salad, makes a full meal.  I fell in love with this dish when I had it and was so happy to have figured out how to make it. This recipe is a compilation of many versions I found online and luckily, it worked the first time. I didn't add cauliflower, which is quite traditional as I didn't have any and will do that next time. It does make a bit of a crust on the bottom, which becomes the top, but I forgot to take a picture of it until we had already eaten all those pieces. It's really delicious!


1 pound deboned Chicken Thighs, cut into 1 inch chunks (can also use lamb)
5 - 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil - separated
2 teaspoons Turmeric
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Salt
5 Roma Tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices and then halved
2 medium Onions, cut into 1/4 inch slices and quartered
1 medium Eggplant, cut into thick slices and then into cubes
2 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
2 1/2 cups Basmati Rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
4 1/2 - 5 cups Warm Chicken Broth
Optional:  1 1/2 cups Cauliflower Florets and/or 2 medium Potatoes, peeled and sliced and quartered

Heat 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a frying pan.  Add the Onions and cook until they soften. Add in Garlic, Turmeric, Allspice and Black Pepper and stir to coat. Remove and reserve on a plate. Heat 2 additional Tablespoons of Olive Oil and cook Eggplant until lightly browned. Remove and reserve on a plate. Then cook Cauliflower or Potato (if using) in 1 Tablespoon of additional oil until lightly browned. Then begin layering.

Oil the bottom of a braising pot (like Staub or LeCreuset) with the last 1 Tablespoon of Oil. Place tomatoes across the bottom and then put the Eggplant on top. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of Salt. Next comes the Cauliflower or Potato and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of Salt. Then add the Chicken. Sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon of the Salt. Drain Rice and mix with the Onion Mixture and put on top of the Chicken. Sprinkle with last 1/2 teaspoon Salt and push down. Carefully pour 4 1/2 cups of Chicken Broth over the Rice and then push down the rice with your hands. The rice should come up to cover the rice. If it does not, add the additional chicken broth.

Put the pot on the stove on medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover and cook for 30 minutes. Check and see if rice is done. If it is not, cook for up to an additional 30 minutes. And, if the rice is too dry, add some additional broth up to 1/4 cup. Remove from heat when rice is cooked and let sit for 10 minutes.  Place a plate on top and turn over carefully and quickly to make a plate. If it doesn't hold, you can use a wooden spoon to reshape it. 

Note: if using Potato, as I did, it will probably need all the chicken broth and maybe even a little more.

Five Element Analysis

Rice belongs to the Metal Element and the Spices in this dish along with the Garlic and Onion add even more Metal - so does the Cauliflower if you use it. The Eggplant brings in the Water Element. The Chicken, Olive Oil and Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element and the Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element. The Potato adds in the Earth Element making this a balanced Five Element dish! If you don't use the potato, find another Earth food to serve with it to create that balance.