Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kale Salad with Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette

I haven't made a Kale Salad in a very long time. I think I was suffering from Kale overload.  But after eating so much for Chinese New Year, I had to lighten things up and I saw some fresh Kale at the grocery store while I was shopping for Chinese New Year and I had the urge to buy it. So I made a Kale Salad. But, I wanted a sweeter dressing so I made it with some of the many sweet Mandarins that I bought that are considered a lucky food. I combined the Kale with whole Almonds and plumped up Golden Raisins. I also threw in some already cooked leftover Quinoa because I already had it, but it would be just as good without it. However, Quinoa gives the salad some extra protein, which makes this a good make ahead lunch salad. The Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette was delicious and offset the slight bitterness of the Kale. The Golden Raisins added some more sweetness with a chewy texture and the Almonds gave it some crunch. It was so good!  Hope you enjoy it too!

Kale Salad with Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette

1 bunch Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale
1/2 cup cooked Quinoa
2 - 3 Mandarin Tangerines, juiced (equals about 1/3 cup)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice or Rice Vinegar
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon minced Shallots
1/3 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Golden Raisins
1/2 cup whole Almonds, toasted lightly in a frying pan

Heat the Mandarin Tangerine juice in a small pot, take off the stove and stir in Golden Raisins. Let them sit for 10 minutes until they plump up. Then add in the Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Dijon Mustard, Shallots and Salt. Stir to combine.

Wash the Kale and strip it from the center stem. Cut into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Add in the Quinoa and the Almonds. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat. 

Five Element Analysis

Kale along with the Olive Oil, Tangerine and Lemon Juice all belong to the Wood Element. So this is a very Woody salad! The Raisins and Almonds contribute the Earth Element.  The Quinoa adds the Water Element since it is a seed and the Metal Element shows up with the Dijon Mustard and Shallots. The Fire Element is not present so be sure to serve another Fiery food as a main course or for dessert.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chinese Steamed Meatballs

It's the 7th anniversary of 5 Element Food! I started this blog on New Year's Day in the year of the Tiger in 2010. I've had a wonderful time sharing my recipes with you!

Today is the first day of the Year of the Rooster. I had a quiet New Year's celebration with my sons and daughters in law and we made and ate many of our favorite Chinese New Year's foods (see previous posts). One of the foods that I usually make is some kind of Meatball as round shaped foods are considered a symbol of family reunions. Tonight I  made Chinese Beef Meatballs flavored with ground up Mandarin Orange (a Tangerine really). I dried the peel of one a few weeks ago and I steamed the Meatballs instead of frying or broiling them. You can use fresh peel instead but use less and grate it very fine These Meatballs are much juicier because they are steamed and are delicately flavored and very tender. It is quite common to see Chinese people dip these kinds of Meatballs, which are a Dim Sum specialty, in Worcestershire Sauce but I like them served with the strained broth that accumulates on the plate. My sons dipped them in Thai Chili Garlic Sauce, which was really good. Happy Chinese New Year to all of you out there!  Check the page on Lucky Foods on this blog that tells you all the foods that you can eat in the next two weeks to bring you extra luck!

Chinese Steamed Meatballs

1 pound Ground Beef
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon dried Mandarin Orange Peel (ground in a mortar and pestle) or use 1/4 teaspoon of fresh finely grated Peel
3 teaspoons Cornstarch
1/2 cup Cold Water
Pinch of White Pepper
2 Tablespoon Tamari
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Chicken Bouillon Cube smashed (use a Gluten Free Brand like Herb Ox)

Get a steamer ready - either use a wok with a bamboo steamer and place a plate inside with water in the wok or use a metal vegetable steamer with the center handle removed placed in a pot with a lid and pour in at least 1 inch of water underneath.  

In a large bowl, mix Ground Beef with Baking Soda and Cold Water. Add in Citrus Peel, White Pepper, Tamari, Sesame Oil and Chicken Bouillon. Massage the Beef with your hands or a big spoon, pressing and mashing it into a paste. Make into Meatballs and put onto the plate. Place the plate into the steamer and heat the water on high. When the water is boiling, cover the pot or wok and let steam for 8 - 10 minutes.  

Take the meatballs off the plate with a pair of tongs. Place on a serving plate. Use a Turkey Baster to suction up the broth that accumulated on the plate and pour into a bowl. Strain and pour around the Meatballs. Serve with Worcestershire Sauce or Thai Chili Garlic Sauce.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element so that is the primary element of this dish. The Water Element can be found in the Tamari and Sesame Oil. The Chicken Bouillon added a little of the Wood Element and the Mandarin Orange Peel adds a tiny bit of the Fire Element and the White Pepper added a little bit more. The Metal Element has the Baking Soda to represent it. While all the Elements are present, most are just a small amount so be sure to serve this dish in a meal that also has Water, Wood, Fire and Metal foods.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Italian Sausage Meatballs

Now that I am back in a soup mood, I've been thinking about how to make old standards a little differently. Last night, I decided to make Lentil Soup, but instead of using dried lentils, I used canned Lentils. One of the reasons why is that I was reading about FODMAPs and canned Lentils are supposed to be a lot easier on the digestion. After making and eating this soup, I have to agree! I used 2 cans of Lentils and made a broth of Chicken Broth and the usual Onions, Garlic, Carrots and Celery along with some Zucchini. I also added a can of whole Tomatoes already flavored with Basil. I left out the Tomato Sauce as I wanted the broth to be clearer, but of course it can be added in too.  It turned out to be a delicious version of Lentil Soup! Using canned Lentils made more broth and it less thick and I think I may prefer it this way.  I made little mini meatballs out of Italian Sausage and the whole thing was done after only 30 minutes cooking time. So this soup is delicious and fast!

Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Italian Sausage Meatballs

2 14 oz cans canned Lentils, drained and rinsed
6 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Water
1 28 oz can Whole Tomatoes with Basil drained and chopped (or use plain canned Tomatoes and add 1/2  teaspoon dried Basil)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped into small pieces2 medium Carrots, trimmed, peeled and chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Celery Stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 small Zucchini, stems removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound Italian Sausage
Salt and fresh ground Pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, put in the Olive Oil and the Onions and Garlic and cook until Onions are translucent.  Add in the Carrots, Celery and Zucchini and cook until the vegetables soften slightly. Add in the Lentils, the Chicken Broth, the Water and the chopped Tomatoes. Bring to a boil and return to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes and add Salt and Pepper to taste. Then take the Italian Sausage and remove from the casings. Take a teaspoonful of Sausage and roll into a little ball. Drop into the soup and bring it back to a boil and reduce heat. Cook for 10 minutes and serve.

Five Element Analysis

As a soup, this is already part of the Water Element and the Italian Sausage, made of Pork adds even more Water.  Chicken Broth and Celery contribute the Wood Element. The Tomatoes add the Fire Element and the Lentils and Zucchini make sure that the Earth Element is present. The Garlic, Onions and Basil bring in Metal Element. So this then, is a balanced Five Element soup!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Japanese Chicken Curry

I have a thing for Japanese Curry and I have for as long as I can remember. I used to buy those packages of Vermont Curry (who knows why they are called that since they are made in Japan) and I would break off chunks of the solidified seasoning sauce and add it to chicken cooked with carrots, potatoes and onions. It was a warm and homey bowl of deliciousness that was served over steamed rice. I've been missing it ever since I found out that it was thickened with wheat flour and I can't eat that anymore as I've gone completely Gluten Free. So tonight, I made a Gluten Free version that made me so happy - it tasted just right and I just kept eating it and eating it, so luckily I made a lot!  

The trick to getting this version of Curry to taste like the one in the box is to use S&B Curry Powder if you can find it. Other brands will work too, but this one has a special flavor mix. The onions are sautéed until they are caramelizing and other pungent seasonings are a bit of Ginger and Garlic. I then added Carrots and Potatoes and the Curry Powder along with Chicken Broth and grated Apple and cooked it until the Potatoes were tender. Then I added in cut up Chicken Breasts - you could also use Beef or Pork or Tofu - and finally mixed in a Roux made with Sweet Rice Flour and Butter to thicken it. I didn't have any frozen peas, but that would also have been a good addition. This Japanese Chicken Curry turned out really creamy and had that same special Japanese Curry smell and taste that I've been craving. If you want to make it spicier, you can buy the Hot version of the S&B Curry Powder or sprinkle on a little bit of S&B Nanami Tagarashi - Japanese Assorted Chili  Pepper - or Cayenne Pepper. But, I like my Curry non the mild side. This is such a wonderful dish for a cold winter night!

Japanese Chicken Curry

1 large Onion, cut into square pieces about 1 inch
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Garlic Coves, minced
1 teaspoon grated Ginger
2 heaping Tablespoons S&B Curry Powder
4 cups Chicken Broth + up to 1 cup more
3 medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds (cut in half if large)
1 pound of boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour (also called Mochiko or Sticky Rice Flour)
Optional:  1/2 cup frozen Peas, defrosted
1/8 teaspoon S&B Nanami Tagarashi or Cayenne Pepper sprinkled on top

In a wok or large pot, heat the oil and add in the Onions. Cook stirring frequently with a spatula until the Onions start browning and getting caramelized.  Add in the Garlic and Ginger. Stir until you smell their fragrance.  Add in the Curry Powder and then pour in the Chicken Broth. Add in the Potatoes and Carrots.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Then add in the Chicken and cook for an additional 15 minutes.  

If the Potatoes have thickened up the sauce, you can serve it as is. If not, you can thicken it with a Roux made with Sweet Rice Flour:L

Melt the Butter in a frying pan. Add in the Sweet Rice Four and stir until the mixture becomes light golden brown. Turn off heat and reserve.

Add the Roux to the Curry and stir until thickened. If it is too thick, add in up to 1 cup more of Chicken Broth. This is also the time to add in the Peas, if you are using them. Serve with Steamed Rice.

Five Element Analysis

As a thick stew, there is a a strong suggestion of the Earth Element and the Potatoes and Carrots add even more. There is a also a lot of the Metal Element as Curry is a mixture of Metallic Spices and the Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Rice Flour and Butter add even more Metal. The Chicken and Chicken Broth make sure that the Wood Element is involved. The Water and Fire Elements are not present so you can add in some S&B Nanami Tagarashi, which also has some Sesame seed and Seaweed in it which adds some Fire and Water or Cayenne, which adds just Fire. And be sure to add some other foods in your meal that bring in more of the Fire and Water Elements for balance. I served it with Tea for the Fire, along with the S&B Nanami Tagarashi and some pickled Japanese Eggplant that brought in some Water and extra Wood too.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Avocado and Egg Toast

I think most people know that Avocado on Toast is delicious and I love it for breakfast. Actually I love it anytime as a snack. But for breakfast, I also need some protein and I came across this new way of serving Avocado on Toast that incorporates chopped up Hardboiled Egg. Of course, I used Gluten Free Bread for my Toast. I got this recipe from my friend Deirdre and it is so delicious. It is also so simple that I hesitated to post it, but if you haven't tried it, you really should. The Avocado acts much like Mayonnaise does in an Egg Salad with a smooth and creamy consistency. The hardboiled Egg is chewy and makes this dish more substantial and satisfying. I sprinkled it with Creole Seasoning because I like a little spice.

And a quick tip - the best way to find a ripe Avocado is to pull off the stem and if it is green underneath, the Avocado is perfectly ripe. Avocado is full of good mono saturated fat and in Chinese Medicine, it is considered a food that is very nourishing to the lungs, intestines and also nourishes the blood. When something that is so good for you also tastes so wonderful you need to add this to your breakfast repertoire often!

Avocado and Egg Toast

1 small Avocado (I used a Haas Avocado)
2 Eggs
Water for Boiling
Salt and fresh ground Pepper
Seasoned Salt of your Choice - I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or Paprika
4 pieces of Toast 

Place Eggs in a small pan and cover with water. Heat and just bring to a boil and then time for 8 - 10  minutes. Drain pan and fill with cold water.  Peel the Eggs and then chop them into small pieces.

Toast your bread and place on a serving plate. In a bowl, mash the Avocado and add the chopped Eggs.  Mix together with a sprinkling of Salt and Pepper. Spread on Toasts and then sprinkle with Seasoned Salt or Paprika and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element and Avocados belong to the Wood Element because they are green. The Seasoned Salt brings in a bit of Metal and Fire as does the Paprika if you use that instead.  There needs to be more Fire so serve this with Coffee or Tea and make it sweet or add Almond or Coconut Milk or also have some fruit to make this a balanced Five Element breakfast.