Monday, December 31, 2018

Fried Okra Take 2

I tried a new way of frying Okra the other night and I was so happy with it that I had to share.  Instead of cutting Okra into little chunks, you slice it lengthwise. What you get is thinner and therefore crispier pieces of Okra - what a revelation! I also used a combination of Corn Flour and Cornmeal so more of it stays on, thereby giving it more crunch. I served it with Tomato Chutney and I couldn't stop eating it. I'm going to make Okra this way from now on - it's wonderful!

Fried Okra Take 2

1 pound fresh Okra
1 Egg White (from a large egg)
1/3 cup Corn Flour
2/3 cup medium Corn Meal
1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I used Creole Seasoning)

Heat several cups of Oil in a pan with high sides.  Rinse the Okra and pat dry with paper towels.  Cut each piece of Okra lengthwise into 3 slices.

Put the Egg White into a mixing bowl. Add in the Okra slices and coat thoroughly. In another bowl, mix together the Corn Flour, Corn Meal and Seasoned Salt. Add to the Okra and toss thoroughly. 

Drop several pieces of Okra into the hot oil. Cook until light golden brown. Remove to a paper covered towel plate. When all the pieces of Okra are cooked, serve with the sauce of your choice.

Five Element Analysis

Okra is a fast growing green vegetable so it definitely belongs primarily to the Wood Element, but it's mucilaginous natures makes it a little Earthy too, which makes it very good for your digestion.  The Corn Meal and Corn Flour brings in the Earth Element and frying them crisp makes them Fiery too. A hint of Fire is also in the Creole Seasoning as it is a bit spicy. Luckily the Fire Element is also present in the Tomato Chutney. The Water and Wood Elements are missing so be sure to serve this as a starter to a meal that incorporates foods from those elements too. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Simple Browned Butter Trumpet Mushrooms

I'm on a Mushroom kick and I've found a new favorite - Trumpet Mushrooms. They have a very thick stem and a relatively small cap so the stem is the most important part. Cut into rings, it has a texture much like Scallops when cooked, so my son calls them Mushroom Scallops. My favorite way to cook them is in Browned Butter. This involves simply getting the Butter hot enough to foam and subside. This starts the browning process. Then you reduce the temperature  to medium when you add the Mushrooms. After cooking them for about 3 minutes, the Butter will be nice and browned and the Trumpet Mushrooms are done. I season them very with Sea Salt and just a bit of Garlic at the end so it doesn't burn. Trumpet Mushrooms cooked this way are simply delicious!

Browned Butter Trumpet Mushrooms

4 large Trumpet Mushrooms, wiped off or rinsed and dried
3 Tablespoon Salted Butter
1 small Garlic Clove, minced very fine
pinch of Sea Salt

Cut the Trumpet Mushroom stems into rounds about 1/4 inch.  Then cut the cap of the Mushroom in half or if large, into quarters. 

Melt the Butter over high heat in a frying pan until the Butter foams and then subsides. Add in the Mushrooms and lower heat to medium. Cook for about 2 1/2 minutes, stirring often.  Then add in the Salt and Garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more, stirring frequently. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Mushrooms belong to the Earth Element, which makes this is a fundamentally Earthy dish. The Garlic and Butter contribute the Metal Element. This then is a dish that is best served with other dishes that bring in the missing Water, Wood and Fire Elements. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Almond Chews

Every Christmas I try to add another cookie to the cookie tin and this year I resurrected an old favorite that I haven't made in years. It's a really simple recipe using Almond Paste, Sugar and Egg White, which makes it naturally gluten free. It's a lovely chewy cookie with a delightful almond flavor. I believe it is an Italian cookie. I'm sorry to say that i don't remember where I got the recipe and it was probably from the back of the box of Almond Paste. I tweaked the original recipe to reduce the amount of Sugar, as it is very sweet and I think the Powdered Sugar added at the end is necessary. This recipe only makes 12 cookies, but it can easily be doubled. My son says it tastes just like the inside of an Almond Croissant and that's a good thing!

Almond Chews

1  7 ounce package of Almond Paste (Gluten Free and not Marzipan)
1/3 cup of Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg White from a large Egg
1/3 cup Powdered Sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Break up the Almond Paste into pieces  as small as you can make them and put into the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. Add in the Sugar and Salt and process until it is broken down the consistency of brown sugar. 

In another bowl, beat the Egg White with a wire whisk until it is smooth and fluffy (about 2 minutes).

Then add the Egg Whites to the Almond mixture and mix on a high speed until a dough is formed.

Pour the Powdered Sugar into a shallow bowl. From 12 balls of the Almond Cookie dough and roll each in the Powdered Sugar until coated.

Place onto a Silpat-lined or parchment=lined baking pan, press down lightly and cook for about 15 minutes or until the tops are  lightly browned. Remove from oven and leave on the baking for about 2 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Five Element Analysis

This is a very sweet cookie so you know that it's primarily the Earth Element and Almonds are from the Earth Element too so this is an especially Earthy Cookie. The Egg White adds a bit of the Water Element, but it's by no means a balanced treat. Serve it with Coffee or Tea to bring in some Fire and serve after a meal containing the other elements. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Simple Split Pea Soup

I have jars of Grains, Beans and Pulses on my kitchen counter to inspire me to use them and last night I made Split Pea Soup as my son asked me for the recipe. It's so easy and actually so fast to make. You can add meat if you like -  Ham, Smoked Sausage or Bacon, or it can easily be made Vegetarian with no loss of flavor. It's creaminess comes from the mashed up cooked Peas and from the Potato. I serve it with Garlic Bread and sprinkle on Cavender's Greek Seasoning. t's healthy, satisfying and a perfect week night winter dinner! 

Simple Split Pea Soup

2 cups Green Split Peas, rinsed
2 Carrots, trimmed and peeled and diced
2 Celery Stalks, trimmed and  diced
1 medium Onion, trimmed, peeled and diced
1 large or 2 small Potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups of Chicken or Vegetable Broth
4 cups Water
1 1/2  teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
Optional:  1 cup of diced Ham, Sausage or Bacon pieces

In a large soup pot, add in the Split Peas, Carrots, Celery, Onion and Potatoes. Then add in the Broth, Water, Salt, Pepper and Bay Leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Skim foam that comes up. Cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Test Peas to see if they are done and if they are still hard, cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the Bay Leaf. Using a Potato Masher, lightly mash down on the soup several times. If you are adding in Meat, do so now and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Five Element Analysis

This is a soup, which automatically makes it a Water food, but it is so thick that it also incorporates some of the Earth Element.  Peas, being Pulses bring in more of the Earth Element although their green color brings in a bit of the Wood Element too. The Potatoes and Carrots also contribute more of the Earth Element. The Celery and Chicken or Vegetable Broth add more of the Wood Element and the Onions and Bay Leaf make sure the Metal Element is present too  Only the Fire Element is missing, so serve a lovely dessert incorporating some Fire Element fruits.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Japanese Braised Kabocha Squash

I always like to have an Asian side dish at Thanksgiving to honor my heritage. I'm half Chinese and  spent my early years in Japan so I usually add a vegetable that is Chinese or Japanese. The one that I will make this year is Japanese Braised Kabocha Squash. It's very easy to make and only takes about 20 minutes to cook and the prep can be done in advance. The Kabocha Squash is cooked in broth (usually Dash, but I used Chicken Broth  and sometimes use Vegetable Broth for my Vegan friends) seasoned with Tamari, Mirin and Green Onions. I like the savory flavor for Squash more than sweet and this braise gives it a wonderful exotic taste just perfect with Rice, which of course I do serve along with the Dressing!

Japanese Braised Kabocha Squash

1 Kabocha Squash

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 1/2 Tablespoons Tamari
1 1/2 Tablespoons Mirin or Rice Wine
1/2 cup Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth or Dashi
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Sugar

Cut the Kabocha Squash in half and remove seeds. Then cut into wedges (about 2 inches wide).  Peel each wedge with a vegetable peeler and then cut in half to make them about 3 inches long.  

Mix the Tamari, Mirin, Broth and Sugar together in a small bowl. Taste and add more Sugar if desired.  

Heat Oil in a frying pan with a lid. Add the Green Onions and cook until you can smell the fragrance. Add in the Kabocha Squash and then add in the Broth mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until fork tender.  

Five Element Analysis

Squashes are very sweet and orange so they belong to the Earth Element. The Chicken Broth contributes the Wood Element. The Tamari belongs to the Water Element. The Mirin or Rice Wine is from the Fire Element and the Green Onions bring in the Metal Element. All the Elements are present in this one dish!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Chard with Balsamic Glaze and Pine Nuts

I've been auditioning vegetable dishes to add to my Thanksgiving table next week. I like to change up the vegetables every year since the main dishes are always the same - Turkey, Dressing, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Cranberry Sauce. So the other night I decided to sauté a big bunch of Chard with Garlic and added some Balsamic Glaze and toasted Pine Nuts. Balsamic Glaze is reduced and thickened Balsamic Vinegar so that it becomes sweet and tangy. If you can't find it, you can make your own by boiling down Balsamic Vinegar until it becomes thick. This dish takes so little time to make and was so good that I ate the whole thing by myself in one sitting. So this dish is definitely showing up next week and I will have to double or triple the recipe so everyone !can have some!

Chard with Balsamic Glaze and Pine Nuts

1 large bunch Red Chard or Rainbow Chard
1 large Garlic Clove, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Glaze
1/4 cup Pine Nuts

Wash the Chard and pull off from the Stem and cut into bite size pieces or ribbons.  

In a frying pan, toast the Pine Nuts over medium heat until they are lightly toasted and reserve.

Heat the Olive Oil in the same Pan and add in the Garlic, cooking until you can smell the fragrance. Add in the Chard and stir quickly to sauté all of it.  Sprinkle on the Salt and add the Balsamic Glaze. Stir thoroughly and plate.  Sprinkle with Pine Nuts and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Chard is a leafy green vegetable so it belongs to the Wood Element but the red undertone gives it a bit of Fire too.  The Balsamic Glaze contributes the Wood Element because it is made from Vinegar although the sweetness also gives it a bit of the Earth Element. The Garlic brings in a little of the Metal Element. This dish is mostly from the Wood Element so it contributes well to any meal needing more of that Element.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Chopped Larb Salad

I love Chopped Salads as you get so much more of everything in each forkful. I make them frequently. But yesterday, I was in the mood for some Thai Flavors and so I combined the traditional ingredients of Lamb with the accompanying vegetable pieces all together. Larb is ground Chicken or Pork sautéed with Shallots and then mixed with a Thai Vinaigrette of Lime Juice, Brown Sugar and Fish Sauce. It usually comes with a hunk of Green Cabbage, a few slices of Cucumber and some wedges of Tomato. So I put them all together in little bits! I used both Green and Red Cabbage since it is so much more colorful along with some Green Onion tops, chopped Tomatoes, chopped Cucumber, Mint and Cilantro.  I think this might work really well with cooked Quinoa too. I loved this Chopped Larb Salad so much that I will probably never make Larb again the traditional way!

Chopped Larb Salad 

3 1/2 cup Green Cabbage, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Red Cabbage, cut into small pieces
1 small Cucumber or 1/2 large Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 large Tomato, seeds removed, cut into a dice
2 slender Green Onions, green part only cut into small pieces
1/2 cup loosely packed Mint Leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed Cilantro Leaves
1 Shallot, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 pound of ground Chicken 
1/2 teaspoon Salt

For Dressing:

1/3 cup fresh squeezed Lime Juice (the juice of about 1 1/2 - 2 Limes)
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 - 2 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
pinch of Chili Flakes

Mix tougher the Cabbages, Cucumber, Tomato, Green Onion pieces along with the Mint and Cilantro Leaves in a large salad bowl.

In a small bowl, mix tougher the Lime Juice Fish Sauce, Brown Sugar and Chili Flakes.  

Heat the Oil in a frying pan and add the Shallots. Cook until they just become translucent and then add in the Ground Chicken and sprinkle with the Salt. Cook until the Chicken is no longer pink.  Add in the Dressing and stir quickly.  Then pour her the Salad ingredients and toss. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

This is a colorful salad so you can be sure that it covers most of the Elements. The Cabbage, Cucumber  and Brown Sugar all bring in the Earth Element, whereas the Chicken contributes the Wood Element along with the Lime Juice. The Fire Element is present in the Tomatoes and the Chili Pepper Flakes. The Green Onions, Shallot, Mint and Cilantro contribute the Metal Element and the Fish Sauce makes sure the Water Element is there too. This then is quite a balanced Five Element meal all by itself!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Creamy Vegetable Soup

I was teaching my Master Face Reading Certification Program in Bath, England last week and we were staying in an AirBnb because I prefer cooking most nights to going out for so many meals. It was really cold so that meant I needed to make some soup. I gathered together various vegetables we had bought and created a Creamy Vegetable Soup that was comfort food in a bowl!  With a side of English Bacon, a Green Salad and toasted and buttered GF Bread from Marks and Spencer, it was the perfect meal!  I used Chicken Broth made with Bouillon for the base along with Potatoes and Shallots. I cooked them until they were soft and mashed them with a Potato Masher. Then I added in Carrot and Parsnip and cooked them until they were just softened and finally, just before serving, I tossed in some cut up Kale. This Creamy Vegetable Soup was wonderful!

Creamy Vegetable Soup

4 medium Potatoes peeled and cut into cubes (buy a kind good for mash, like Russets)
3 large Knorr GF Bouillon Cubes (or equivalent Bouillon in US - 6 cubes)
6 or more Cups Water
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 small Shallots or 1 large Shallot, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 Parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut into slices (large pieces cut in half or quarters)
2 large Carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into slices (large pieces cut in half or quarters)
2 cups Kale, removed from stem and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon Salt 
Optional:  Fresh Ground Pepper

Heat the Butter in the bottom of a soup pot. Add in the Shallots and cook until soft. Then add in the Potatoes and cook until they become coated in butter and become slightly more translucent. Then add in the Water and the Bouillon Cubes. Bring to a boil and return to a simmer, cooking for 20 minutes. Use a Potato Masher and was the Potatoes as much as you can. Turn heat higher and return to a boil. This is the time to add more Water if you like a thinner soup. Add in the Carrots and Parsnips and turn down again to a simmer. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Then throw in the Kale, stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle with Pepper, if desired and serve.

Five Element Analysis

As there are so many Root Vegetables in this soup, you know it has to belong primarily to the Earth Element. However, Soups of any kind are considered a Water Food as well, although this one is very thick  The Kale adds the Wood Element and the Shallot and Butter contribute the Metal Element. Only the Fire Element is a bit deficient as it is only represented by a sprinkling of Pepper so add a Green Salad with Cherry Tomatoes. I also enhanced the Water Element with Bacon and the Metal Element with Rice Flour based Bread to balance out the Elements.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Simple Green Tomato Relish

We had a wealth of Tomatoes from our garden this summer, but the last ones on the vine just aren't going to ripen anymore so it was time today to pick the Green and semi-red Tomatoes off the vine  They were all too small to make good Fried Green Tomatoes (a previous post) so the only thing to do was to make Green Tomato Relish.  This is something that my Pennsylvania Dutch Grandmother would make and I've always loved it. Of course, she canned it so that it would be available all winter long, but I made just enough for one quart jar and I think it will go fast. It's a sweet and sour and tangy condiment with just a hint of Allspice to liven things up. It's great with Sausages  or Hotdogs - it's kind of like a Green Ketchup and it's also wonderful on Cheese. There's a certain satisfaction with making your own condiments using up your homegrown produce and it is delicious too!

Simple Green Tomato Relish

2 pounds Green Tomatoes and partially Red Tomatoes
1 White or Yellow Onion
3/4 cup - 1 cup Sugar (use less if you have more Red Tomatoes)
1 cup White Wine Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 teaspoon Allspice

Cut off the stem of the Tomatoes and chop into rough pieces and then chop the Onion. Add to a sauté pan along with the Sugar, Vinegar, Salt and Allspice. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Take off the lid, increase heat to medium and stir frequently for another 10 minutes. Let cool and spoon into a quart Mason Jar.

Five Element Analysis

Tomatoes are usually a Fire Food and the red ones still are, but because they are sour when Green, they also bring in the Wood Element. The Vinegar adds even more of the Wood Element. The Sugar contributes the Earth Element and the Onions and that little bit of Allspice bring in the Earth Element. Only the Water Element is missing, which is why it's so good with Pork Sausages, which are a Water Food.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Roasted Parsnips and Celery

I truly love my Sheet Pan and try to use them whenever I can. I also love roasted vegetables and tonight I roasted Parsnips and Celery together. Both of these vegetables don't often get enough credit for being delicious and they are! When you roast them together, the Parsnips get caramelized and chewy-crisp and the Celery gets soft, yet stays juicy. It's a wonderful combination!  I very simply drizzle them with Olive Oil and since I love to roast Celery when I roast a Chicken, I used Chicken Salt that I brought back from Australia to season them. But, you can use any Seasoned Salt or just Salt. The secret to this dish is to roast the vegetables for nearly an hour and then put them under the broiler for the last several minutes. They are a perfect combination for me!

Roasted Parsnips and Celery

4 Parsnips, ends trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 - 5 stalks of Celery, washed, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Chicken Salt or Seasoned Salt or Salt

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a sheet pan with 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and then put on the Parsnip and Celery pieces.  Drizzle with the remaining Olive Oil and sprinkle with Salt. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over all the pieces with a spatula. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and cook for an additional 3 - 4 minutes or until the Parsnips start to brown.  Serve hot or warm. 

Five Element Analysis

Parnsips are a combination of the Metal Element because they are a white food, but also grow in the ground so they embody the Earth Element too. Celery is part of the Wood Element as is the Olive OIl. Roasting these vegetables brings in the Fire Element. The Water Element is the only one missing so this would be a good side dish to Pork or Fish or another Water vegetable like Eggplant. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Tomato Sauce with Chicken and Arugula

You know those days when you don't know what to cook and you need to cook something fast? That's when I check out what's hanging out in my refrigerator and my cupboards and then I throw something together. I'm almost always surprised when it turns out really well and this Sauce is a prime example. I had a bunch of Roma Tomatoes, a single Chicken Breast and some wilting Arugula, so I knew I could make a Pasta Sauce. And, I found Cauliflower Gnocchi (which is technically a dumpling) from Trader Joe's in the freezer that I had forgotten that I bought.  This Sauce turned out so wonderfully that I decided to share it here and so I remember how I made it!  The one thing that I did that was unusual was to puree the cooked Tomatoes with the Shallot and then I pushed it through a stainer so that it was a completely smooth sauce before I added the Chicken in. You can skip that step if you want or you can just peel the Tomatoes before chopping them up. If I hadn't found the Gnocchi, I would probably have served it with Fusilli. I discovered that I love cooked Arugula, maybe even more than in a salad so it may become a staple in my Pasta Sauces!

Tomato Sauce with Chicken and Arugula

1 boneless, skinless Chicken Breast half
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 Shallot, minced
6 Roma Tomatoes, stem removed and chopped coarsely
1/2 cup dry White Wine
3 cups loosely packed Baby Arugula
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

Cut up the Chicken Breast into thin slices about 1 inch long.  Season with Salt.

Then heat 1 Tablespoon of the Olive Oil in a sauté pan and add the Shallots. Cook until softened. Then add in the Roma Tomatoes and cook until the Tomatoes start to get soft. Add in the wine and continue to cook until a sauce is formed. 

Puree the Sauce in a Food Processor or Blender and strain to make smooth, if desired.

Add the additional 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil to the sauté pan until hot and add in the Chicken. Cook until it is no longer pink. Then add the Sauce back in and bring to a boil.  add in the Arugula and take off the heat, stirring until the Arugula wilts. Serve with the Pasta of your choice or Gnocchi.

Five Element Analysis

Tomatoes are part of the Fire Element and so is the Wine. Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the Olive Oil and Arugula add even more. The Metal Element is represented by the Shallot. I served it with Cauliflower Gnocchi, made of Cauliflower and PotatoThe Cauliflower brings in more Metal and the Potato adds the Earth. This then ends up being a family balanced meal!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Butternut Squash Muffins

I'm trying to incorporate more orange foods into my diet because they are so good for you. Orange foods belong to the Earth Element in Chinese Medicine and they support the Spleen, Stomach and Pancreas. They are considered very grounding and good for regulating blood sugar. I have to admit that Orange foods aren't my favorite foods in the ways that they are usually cooked. I'm quite fond of Sweet Potato Fries but mostly I like my orange foods to be desserts or sweet breads. I made some Roasted Butternut Squash the other night for a Salad and had enough left over to do something else with it. Luckily, I didn't season the Squash much when I roasted it - just a little Vegetable Oil and Salt. So, I decided to make Butternut Squash Muffins and lowered the Salt in the recipe to compensate. I also added Oats and used Pumpkin Pie Seasoning because it's that time of year and it works perfectly with Butternut Squash. The Muffins were wonderful - really delicious and not too sweet! They are just perfect for a quick breakfast on the go.

Butternut Squash Muffins

1 cup Gluten Free Flour Mix (I used Cup 4 Cup)
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 cup cooked Butternut Squash (steamed or roasted)
1/3 cup Almond Milk
1/4 cup melted Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with Oil (I used a Silicone Muffin Tin)

In a mixing bowl, combine the Gluten Free Flour Mix, Rolled Oats, Baking Powder, Salt and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Then add in the Butternut Squash, Almond Milk Oil, Brown Sugar, Egg and Vanilla Extract. Stir until blended.  

Fill Muffin cups 3/4 full - it should make 12 muffins. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until tops are brown and spring back lightly when touched or a toothpick comes out clean when poked. 

Five Element Analysis

Butternut Squash is part of the Earth Element and the Oats, Almond Milk and Brown Sugar add even more. The Egg contributes the Water Element. The Butter, Pumpkin Pie Spice and Vanilla Extract along with the Gluten Free Flour (that is mostly Rice Flour) bring in the Metal Element. The Fire Element is not present so be sure to serve these muffins with some Tea or Coffee and later have some of the Wood Element in another meal for balance. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fennel Soup

I had a friend coming over tonight who is Vegan and I wanted to make a nourishing vegetable soup. I had two Fennel Bulbs in the refrigerator and decided to use them. I never think of using Fennel in Soup as I usually braise it or make it into a salad. But tonight I was craving soup and so I used it along with some Carrots, Green Beans and Onions. I also added a can of Tomatoes and some Vegetable Broth and ended up making a delightful soup - I was so pleased! The Fennel has a somewhat sweet flavor when cooked and the end result was a bit more like a vegetable stew. It was delicious, fast and easy too!  

Fennel Soup

2 Fennel Bulbs, trimmed and cut into small pieces
3 Large Carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into small pieces
a large handful of Green Beans, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 cups Vegetable Broth
1 14 oz can chopped Tomatoes
2 teaspoons Salt
1 Bay Leaf

Put the Olive OIl in a large soup pot and add in the Onion and Fennel. Cook, stirring frequently until they are softened.  Then add in the Green Beans and Carrots, the Vegetable Broth, the Tomatoes and the Salt and Bay Leaf.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.  

Five Element Analysis

Soup by it's very nature is a Water Food, so that element is automatically involved in this dish. Fennel is one of the few Metal Vegetables, so that element is covered and the Onion adds even more.  The Carrots and Green Beans bring in the Earth Element. The Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element. The Olive Oil is the only representative of the Wood Element but the Vegetable Broth has Celery in it so the Wood Element is there too.  So, this Soup is more balanced than I expected!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Spaghetti with Poached Scallops in Fresh Tomato Sauce

Now that I've found a Gluten Free Pasta brand that I really love, La Veneziane, I've been making a lot more Pasta. It's made from Corn in Italy and the taste and texture is so much like regular pasta that everyone I serve it to has no idea that it's Gluten Free!  

So, was in the mood for Linguine with Clam Sauce, but I didn't have Linguine, but I did have Gluten Free Spaghetti and I didn't have Clams either, but I did have frozen Scallops from Trader Joe's.  And, best of all, I had fresh, ripe Tomatoes from my own backyard and the Farmer's Market. I decided to puree the Tomatoes along with a Shallot. I then sautéed some Zucchini in Olive Oil, added in the Tomato Puree and White Wine and I poached the defrosted Scallops (cut in half both ways) in the simmering sauce. If you don't have Scallops, I think that sliced white Fish or Chicken would also work well. Anyway, It was wonderful and I definitely plan on making this often.   

Spaghetti with Poached Scallops in Fresh Tomato Sauce

12 ounces Spaghetti Noodles 
12 Scallops, sliced vertically and then horizontally (to make thin half moons)
1 pound of fresh Tomatoes
1 Shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small Zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half and then sliced into 1/4" thick slices
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup White Wine
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Sugar

Heat salted Water in a large pot. When boiling, drop in the Tomatoes for 1 minute. Remove  with a slotted spoon to the cutting board.  Then add in the Spaghetti. Cook according to the package directions.

Peel the Tomatoes and add to the bowl of a Food Processor or Blender and add in the Shallot. Puree until smooth.

In a Saute Pan with a high side, heat the Olive Oil and add in the Zucchini. Cook until the Zucchini is just starting to brown. Add in the Wine, Salt, Sugar and the Tomato Puree. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Add in the Scallops and poached them until they turn opaque (this happens quickly. Add the Spaghetti and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Scallops belong to the Water Element and the Tomatoes and Wine contribute the Fire Element.  The Zucchini and Corn Pasta bring in the Earth Element and the Fire Element is seen in the Shallot. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve some leafy green vegetables along with this pasta dish for a balanced meal.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken

Three Cup Chicken is a very popular Taiwanese dish. My Aunt once made it for me and I watched her carefully. At the time my question was Why is it called Three Cup Chicken - is it because it makes 3 cups of Chicken?  The answer was that the sauce was made up of 3 cups of Sesame Oil, Rice Wine and Soy Sauce. But she reminded me that she was talking about teacups - not measuring cups! The other flavoring include a bit of Sugar along with Thai Basil and some Scallions (Green Onion tops) that are added at the end to maintain the aromatic flavors. This dish is traditionally served over Rice.

I like to make it with the Chicken Things cut into small pieces and I use Low Sodium Tamari so the dish isn't too salty. I also use Taiwan Rice Wine, which is clear (and Gluten Free). This dish is really quick and easy to make and absolutely delicious!  

Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs (about 6) cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup toasted Sesame Oil
8 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
1 chunk of Ginger (about 1" square), peeled and sliced and then cut in half
1/3 cup Low Sodium Tamari
1/3 cup Taiwan Rice Wine
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 handful of Thai Basil Leaves
2 Green Onions, green tops only sliced into small pieces

Heat a sauce pan over medium high heat and add in the Sesame Oil.  Then add in the Garlic and Green Onion. Cook until you can smell the fragrance.  Then add in the Chicken and cook until the Chicken is no longer pink.  Pour in the Tamari, Rice Wine and Sugar. Stir until Sugar is absorbed and the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with the Thai Basil and Green Onions. Toss to combine and serve with Rice.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the Tamari and Sesame Oil contribute the Water Element. The Metal Element is found in the Garlic, Thai Basil and Green Onions. The last two ingredients also bring in some more of the Wood Element. The Fire Element is found in the Rice Wine. Only the Earth Element is a bit deficient - it is found in the Sugar and Gingers so I served this dish with a Cucumber Salad to bring in more Earth and the White Rice contributes more Metal to make a balanced meal. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Homemade Sloppy Joe's

I had some ground Beef that needed to be cooked and I wasn't sure what to make with it. My son suggested Sloppy Joe's. I haven't made then for a really long time. It's one of those sandwiches that I remember from my own childhood and it was usually made with a spice mix and some Tomato Paste. Tonight, though I decided to make it from scratch since I didn't have an of the mix. I looked up the ingredients on the McCormick website and the main ingredients were: Sugar, Onion, Salt, Corn Starch, Paprika, Chili Pepper, Red and Green Peppers, Garlic and Vinegar. I decided to use Dehydrated Onions and Garlic Salt so it would taste more like the mix. I used minced Red Pepper since I didn't have any Green. Peppers. I combined Tomato Paste with a little Ketchup and also added some Coconut Vinegar (a very mild Vinegar) and some Brown Sugar. I finally added some Worcestershire Sauce to give the sauce some depth and some Chili Powder and Paprika to make it just right. It was wonderful!  I served it over some Gluten Free Hamburger Buns and felt like a kid again! 

Homemade Sloppy Joe's

1 pound lean Ground Beef
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/2 cup Dehydrated Onion (or minced Onion)
1/2 cup minced Red Pepper (or 1/4 cup Red and 1/4 cup Green Pepper)
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1/3 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder (or another mild vinegar like Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/4 cup Coconut Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Cook the Ground Beef with the Dehydrated Onion and Red Pepper until the Beef is no longer pink. Sprinkle in the Salt and add the Tomato Paste, Ketchup and Water and mix thoroughly Then add in the Coconut Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Chili Powder, Paprika and Worcestershire Sauce. Heat until bubbling and mixed thoroughly. Serve over toasted Hamburger Buns.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the Brown Sugar adds even more. The Red Pepper, Tomato Paste and Ketchup bring in the Fire Element as does the Paprika and Chili Powder. The Onion and Garlic Salt contribute some of the Metal Element and the Wood Element is represented by the Coconut Vinegar. The Water Element is seen only in the Worcestershire Sauce. All Elements are present but Wood, Metal and Water need some support. Serving this with Hamburger Buns - either regular or Gluten Free will add some more Elements - Wheat will bring in more Wood and Gluten Free Buns are made from Rice Flour, which is a Metal Food and Tapioca Starch and Corn Starch, which are more Earth ingredients. The best way to balance this meal is to bring in some more Wood, Metal and Water foods, perhaps in a vegetable salad to create an even better balance.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Italian Cabbage Salad

It's been a crazy month around here with lots of comings and goings - houseguests and kid's moves - and so I've had vey little time to post. Besides that, And, I'm mostly only doing really light meals and salads. Finally, I am getting back to my usual routines and getting to post a few things too.

My latest favorite salad, which I made when there was very little in the fridge, is a marinated Italian Cabbage Salad. It has the usual flavors of an Italian style Vinaigrette with Balsamic Vinegar and the advantage of this salad is that it keeps well. Cabbage can hold up to the dressing for quite a long time so I usually double the recipe when making it. I love adding lots of Pine Nuts to give even more texture.  

Italian Cabbage Salad

2 cups shredded Green Cabbage
2 cups shredded Red Cabbage
1/4 cup Basil Leaves, sliced thinly (Chiffonade)
1/4 cup Red Onion minced
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/3 - 1/2  cup Pine Nuts

In a small frying pan, cook the Pine Nuts until you can smell their fragrance and they just start to brown.  Remove to a plate to cool. 

Place the Cabbage and Basil in a serving bowl. In another smaller bowl, mix together the Red Onion, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt and Sugar.  Stir to combine and pour over the Cabbage.  Toss to coat thoroughly and sprinkle on Pine Nuts. Let the flavors meld for at least 15 minutes or place in the refrigerator to serve later.  

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element although the Red Cabbage also contributes some Fire. The Pine Nuts bring in the Earth Element. The Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil make sure that the Wood Element is involved and finally the Basil and Red Onion both come from the Metal Element. As a side dish, it's quite balanced, but for a meal, be sure to have more Fired Foods.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Vietnamese Meatball Bun Salad Bowl

It's hot and smoky here in Seattle due to all the wild fires burning in British Columbia. That makes me too tired to cook much, so I've been eating a lot of salads and sandwiches. Tonight, though, I was craving Bun, which is a Vietnamese Salad bowl full of Rice Noodles, Cucumber, Carrots and lots and lots of fresh herbs like Cilantro, Thai Basil, Mint and Shiso Leaf. Unfortunately, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant closed recently near my house and I didn't want to drive downtown to their other location. The solution? I decided to make it myself. Luckily, I have Mint, Shiso Leaf and Thai Basil all growing in my garden and I always have Cilantro in my fridge along with Carrots, Cucumbers and Lettuce. The only thing I was missing was Pork that I could slice to caramelize the Vietnamese way. But, I did have ground Pork so I made Vietnamese style Meatballs in the Broiler and I added just a bit of caramel into the Pork to give it the right flavor. I got that idea from a recipe I saw once and wrote down on a little slip of paper, which I kept, but I am sorry to say that I didn't write down where it came from. So thank you to whomever created that recipe. I topped the salad with chopped roasted Peanuts and I was in heaven. It was so good!  I might not need to order takeout anymore since I love this version so much!

Vietnamese Meatballs

1 pound ground Pork
1 large Shallot, minced
3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sugar 
3 Tablespoons Boiling Water
2 Tablespoons Cold Water

Put the Pork into a mixing bowl and add the Shallot and Fish Sauce. Then in a small frying pan, add the Sugar and Boiling Water. Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Then quickly add in the cold water, stir and add to the Pork mixture. Stir to combine, pushing the meat down with a spatula until it becomes somewhat pasty. Shape into about 20 meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Press to flatten. Put into the broiler and cook for 4 - 5 minutes and then turn over and cook for an additional 4 minutes.  

Bun Salad Bowl

8 ounces of Rice Noodles
1 large or 2 smaller Cucumbers, peeled and cut in half
1 large Carrot, peeled
1 small head of Butter Lettuce, washed
1/2 cup of Cilantro Leaves
1/2 cup of Thai Basil Leaves
1/2 cup of Mint Leaves
Optional:  1/2 cup of Shiso Leaves
1/3 cup chopped roasted Peanuts

Cook the Rice Noodles in boiling water from 7 - 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with Cold Water. Place in a serving bowl. 

Remove the Seeds from the Cucumbers using a small spoon.Then cut into julienne pieces about 2 inches long.Julienne the Carrots into similar size pieces. Then slice the Lettuce using a Lettuce knife or tear into thin strips. Place on top of the Noodles. Then sprinkle on the fresh herbs. Lay the Meatballs on top of that and sprinkle with the Peanuts. Pour the Dressing over all and toss before serving.

Nuoc Cham Dressing

1/2 cup Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 cup Boiling Water
4 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes

In a bowl, stir together the Sugar and the Boiling Water. Stir until dissolved and then add in the Lime Juice, Fish Sauce, Garlic Cloves and Chili Flakes.  

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and so does the Fish Sauce. The Wood Element is represented by the Lime Juice. The Fire Element is seen in the Lettuce and Chili Flakes. The two kinds of Sugar, the Peanuts, the Cucumber and the Carrot all make sure that the Earth Element is present. And finally the Metal Element is represented by the pungent herbs, the Shallot and Garlic and the Rice Noodles. This then is a perfectly balanced Summer meal!