Friday, July 29, 2016

Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruit

I went to a little party the other night and I helped my friend Setch make a Quinoa Salad and it was so good that I had to share the recipe with you. Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, which is why it is so good for Gluten Free Diets and it is also very high in protein, which is good for vegetarians. I like it because it replaces Couscous and Bulgur Wheat in salads. This particular salad was made up of Red Quinoa, cooked until fluffy and was mixed with Dried Cranberries, chewy bits of Dates, Sliced Almonds and Cilantro. The dressing was Lime Juice with Tamari and just a splash of oil. She added Feta as well.  When I came home to make it again, I used Coconut Aminos instead as the flavor is similar to Tamari but a little more subtle and I left out the Feta Cheese. Either way, this salad is so delicious!  The little bits of dried fruit are like a surprise each time you bite into them and the crunchy almonds are a delightful counterpoint. This would be a great salad to bring to a buffet as you can make it ahead of time.  

Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruit

1 cup Red Quinoa, rinsed in cold water and drained
1 1/2 cups Water
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 cup minced Dates
1/3 cup Flaked Almonds
Handful of Cilantro Leaves, minced
2 Tablespoons Coconut Aminos (or Tamari)
1 Tablespoon neutral Vegetable Oil (I used Sunflower)
Juice of two Limes
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Optional: Feta Cheese Crumbles and minced Green Onion tops

In a small pot, bring the water to a boil and add the Quinoa.  Stir and cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool and then fluff with a fork before adding to the salad. This is best done ahead of time.

In a small bowl, mix together the Lime Juice, Coconut Aminos and Vegetable Oil. 

Put Quinoa into a bowl and add the Dried Cranberries, Dates  and Almond Flakes. Add the dressing and toss, mixing well.  Sprinkle with the Sea Salt and the Cilantro.

Five Element Analysis

Quinoa is a seed so it belongs to the Water Element and the Coconut Aminos or Tamari adds even more. The Limes represent the Wood Element and the Dried Cranberries contribute the Fire Element,  The Almonds add the Earth Element along with the Dates. And finally, the Metal Element can be found with the addition of Cilantro and the Feta or Green Onion Tops, if you use them.  So, this then is a perfectly balanced little salad!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Italian Flavors

I've been craving Earthy vegetables as I need some grounding when I teach. So, last night, I also cooked some Yellow Squash and Zucchini together and cooked it a little bit like I was making pasta. I know that making Zucchini Noodles is a trendy thing, but I don't have a Spiral Cutter.  So, I grated the the Squashes instead.  I sautéed some Onion and Garlic in Olive Oil, then added a small amount of Cherry Tomatoes and then cooked the Squashes until they were soft. Then, I  added a bunch of chopped Basil. It was so good!  And, it was good or lunch today, even though it was cold. Next time, I might add some more Tomatoes, but I loved the Italian flavors of these two Squashes and it was a really colorful dish too!

Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Italian Flavors

2 Zucchini, ends removed and grated
2 Yellow Squash, ends removed and grated
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 small Onion, chopped
1 large Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 - 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
a Handful of Basil, minced

Drizzle Olive Oil into a large frying pan. Heat and add the Onions. Cook until translucent and then add in the Garlic, stir until you can smell it's fragrance and add in the Tomatoes. Cook until the Tomatoes soften. Then add the Zucchini and Yellow Squash and cook until soft. Right before serving, add in the Basil and toss to mix.

Five Element Analysis

Zucchini and Yellow Squash both belong to the Earth Element. The Onion and Garlic contribute the Metal Element and the Basil adds a bit of Metal along with some of the Wood Element. The Cherry Tomatoes make sure that the Fire Element is represented. Only the Water Element is missing, so this is a great side dish for Fish or Pork.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sautéed Corn and Leeks

I've been teaching so I haven't had much time to experiment and cook new things or to post. So, finally I am giving you a new recipe. Tonight was one of those nights where I had a lot of vegetables in the fridge that needed to be cooked so I put together some new combinations. The first one is Sautéed Corn and Leeks. I had a salad like this at the San Francisco airport and I liked the combination. It seemed to me that the salad I purchased there was cooked and bound together by cream. I decided to use Parmsan Cheese instead. I sautéed the white part of one Leek in Butter and then added already cooked corn until it was hot and sprinkled it with Parmesan Cheese - that's it. Super simple and completely Five delicious!  The sweetness of the Corn and Leeks with it's vey mild oniony flavor and the savory Umami flavor of the Parmesan was so good.  This recipe is a new favorite around here!

Sautéed Corn and Leeks

3 ears of Corn
3 Tablespoons Salted Butter
1 Leek, root trimmed, dark green part cut off, sliced into 4 long pieces, diced and rinsed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Boil water in a pot and add the Corn. Cook for 7 minutes.  Drain, cool and then slice the kernels off (or you can use leftover corn on the cob).  

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and add the Leeks. Cook until they just start to brown. Then add in the Corn and cook until the Corn is heated through and starts to get just a little bit dried and chewy.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with the Parmesan Cheese. Serve immediately

Five Element Analysis

Corn belongs to the Earth Element as it is so sweet. The Leeks contribute the Metal Element and the Butter and Parmesan Cheese add even more.  his is a side dish so you wouldn't expect it to be fully balanced, but it will add some nice Earth and Metal Elements to your meal.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dan Dan Noodle and Cabbage Salad

Dan Dan Noodles is one of the great dishes of Northern China, specifically the Szechuan Province. Originally it was kind of chili sauce that was really more of a spicy red broth laced with a little meat and pickled vegetables and ladled over wheat noodles. In the US, it morphed and became a sauce made up of Ground Pork, Sesame Paste (or Peanut Butter), Vinegar, Soy Sauce (Tamari in this case), Chili Oil and Sesame Oil. I used to love ordering Dan Dan Noodles, as long as it wasn't too hot. But, I haven't had it in a long time since I went Gluten Free and I miss it! 

Tonight, I got inspired to make the Dan Dan Sauce without the meat and transform it into a Salad Dressing.  I used a combination of Red Cabbage and Napa Cabbage and some  Cooked Rice Noodles and Green Onions. I topped it with a generous sprinkling of lightly toasted Peanuts - I used the dried, uncooked kind from the Asian Market, or you could use Sesame Seeds instead. I toasted the ground Szechuan Peppercorns with the Peanuts to give them that extra MaLa (burning mouth) kick!  It turned out to be a delicious Salad, full of crunch with a wonderful exotic flavor. The only thing I didn't have was Cilantro and next time, I will add that too. You can adjust the spiciness by the amount of Chili Oil you add and you can make it saltier or sweeter too. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Dan Dan Noodle and Cabbage Salad

1/2 head small Napa Cabbage 
1/2 head small Red Cabbage
4 Green Onions, sliced very thin
1/3 cup Peanuts or Sesame Seeds
Pinch of Salt and a Pinch of Sugar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan Peppercorns, ground in a Mortar and Pestle
2 cups cooked Rice Noodles (about 3 ounces, boiled for 4 - 5 minutes and drained)

For the Dan Dan Sauce:

3 Tablespoons Sesame Paste (I used Tahini) or you can use Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Chinese Black Vinegar 
3 Tablespoons Tamari
1/2 up to 1 teaspoon Salt
2 - 3 teaspoons Sugar
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
2 - 3 teaspoons Chili Oil

Optional:  1 small Garlic Clove, minced fine
1/4 cup Cilantro Leaves for garnish

Slice the Napa Cabbage and Red Cabbage into thin slivers.  Place in a salad bowl with the Green Onions. 

Then toast the Peanuts (or Sesame Seeds) in a small frying pan until you can smell their fragrance - stir constantly so they do not burn. Then add in the Pinch of Salt and Sugar and the Szechuan Peppercorns. Stir for a minute and take off the heat and reserve.

In a small bowl, mix together the Sesame Paste, Sesame Oil, Black Vinegar, Tamari, Salt, Sugar, Chicken Broth, Garlic, if using and the Chili Oil.  Blend well. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more Chili Oil, Salt or Sugar if desired.  This can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Cut the Rice Noodles with a  pair of Kitchen Scissors and add to the Cabbage.  Pour the Dressing over the Cabbage and Noodles and toss to coat evenly.  Sprinkle the Peanuts on top and the Cilantro, if using, before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Sesame Seeds are a food that the Chinese revere as they consider it extremely healthy and a tonic for the Kidneys so they belong to the Water Element. and the Sesame Oil and Tamari add even more. The Vinegar and the Napa Cabbage, as a green, leafy vegetable, contribute the Wood Element, although the Napa Cabbage is also Earthy and the Earth Element is enhanced even more by the Red Cabbage and the Peanuts too. The Fire Element is very well represented by the Chili Oil and the Szechuan Peppercorns. This then is a very balanced salad!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Homemade Onion Dip

Some party foods have that ability to bring up good feelings and make you feel somewhat decadent if you eat them when there is no party happening. One of those foods for me is Onion Dip. Many of you, like me, probably grew up putting Lipton's Onion Soup Mix into Sour Cream and serving it with Potato Chips or Tortilla Chips - my favorite. I always worried about getting Onion Breath, but it was just so good. that I couldn't pass it up. Nowadays, I can't use Lipton Onion Soup Mix as it contains Gluten and I don't use Sour Cream because I am also Lactose Intolerant. So, yesterday, I made Homemade Onion Dip with Sour Supreme - Better than Sour Cream - otherwise known as Soy Sour Cream, Gluten Free Beef Bouillon, Dehydrated Onions, Caramelized fresh Onion and Tamari. It was delicious!  And, because I made it myself, I put in lots more bits of onion, as that is my favorite part. It's better if you let the flavors meld together before you eat it, so if you can make it the day before, it's much better after a night in the fridge. Of course, you can make this with Sour Cream and it will still be much better than using a packaged mix. It will be much lighter in color, but it tastes great.  I would be happy to serve this at a party anytime!

Homemade Onion Dip

1 carton Soy Sour Cream (12 oz) or use regular Sour Cream (16 ounces)
2 teaspoons Tamari
1 teaspoon Beef Bouillon granules, mixed with 1 Tablespoon Boiling Water
1/3  to 1/2 cup Dehydrated Onions
1 medium Yellow Onion, minced
1 Tablespoon Oil (or Butter)

Mix together the Soy Sour Cream, the Tamari, the Beef Bouillon and the Dehydrated Onions  Stir well to combine and put aside.

In a small frying pan, heat Oil or Butter and add in the Onion. Cook on medium heat until caramelized.  Cool slightly and add to the Onion Dip and stir well.  Refrigerate Onion Dip for at least one hour or overnight.  Serve with Ridged Potato Chips or Tortilla Chips.

Five Element Analysis

Soy Sour Cream or Sour Cream belongs to the Metal Element as do Onions, but in this case, the dehydrated kind add some of the Fire Element and the Caramelized Onion contributes the Earth Element as they get sweet cooked that way. The Beef Bouillon brings in the Earth Element as do the Potato Chips or Tortilla Chips and the Tamari contributes the Water Element. This ends up being a much more balanced snack than I ever realized! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Apricot Almond Pudding Cake

I've had a bit of a sweet tooth lately, as I think I need some grounding. Tonight, I decided to experiment with something that I have been thinking about for days. It all started with Apricots that were ripening fast and I decided they needed to be used in a dessert. I dug out an old recipe from Claudia Roden for her now well known Orange Almond Cake that I have made many times. I decided to use Apricots instead of the boiled Oranges she uses in that recipe. I didn't cook the Apricots and the cake got done in much less time than her original recipe as the recipe was halved. It makes a thin cake so if you want it thicker, double the recipe. If you do that, make it in a Springform pan. This cake turned out so moist and creamy that it tasted much more like a pudding to me and it was a big hit with everyone here. The Apricot taste is subtle and it gives the cake a beautiful peachy color. I absolutely loved it and will no doubt be making it more often this way than with Oranges. Thank you Claudia Roden for your classic recipe! I served it with sugared Strawberries, but my son liked his straight from the pan with no adornment. It is a delicate and delicious cake!

Apricot Almond Pudding Cake

6 Apricots, seeded, quartered and peeled
3 eggs
1/2 cup Almond Meal
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a cake pan and put aside. Puree the Apricots in a food processor or blender and then place in a large bowl. Mix it with the Eggs, Almond Meal, Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt. Pour it into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. If doubling the recipe, cook for about 60 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Five Element Analysis

This is a sweet dessert so you know that the Earth Element is involved and the Almond Meal contributes even more the Earth Element. The Apricots bring in the Fire Element and the Eggs addd the Water Element There is no representation by the Wood Element or the Metal Element. So, make sure foods from those elements is present in the main meal to create a Five Element balance.