Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Samphire Salad

The first time I tried Samphire was when I was walking by the sea when I lived in California. It was early summer and my friend bent down and plucked a piece and told me to eat it. I thought it was ice pant. I was amazed that it was salty and delightfully crunchy! We gathered a bunch of tips and went home and made a lovely salad dressed with Olive Oil and Meyer Lemon Juice. I didn't eat Samphire again for many years until I visited friends in England, where it is much more commonly eaten. Just last week, I found it in my local grocery store going by the name of Sea Beans. I bought a bagful and used it several different ways. My favorite was a salad using the Asian flavors of Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Garlic, just a hint of Low Sodium Tamari and a little extra Sugar to balance out it's natural saltiness. I think Samphire tastes better blanched or about 10 seconds to help release a bit of the salt. I found out that it really is a succulent, which is why it is so juicy. It is so delicious that I recommend you try it if you haven't already!

Samphire Salad

4 cups Samphire, washed
Hot Water for blanching
1 small Garlic Clove minced
3 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil (I used Safflower)\
1 teaspoon Low Sodium Tamari
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

Place Samphire in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place back in the bowl.  In another bowl, mix together the Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Vegetable Oil, Tamari, Garlic and Sugar. Stir to combine and pour over the Samphire. Toss to coat and serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later.

Five Element Analysis

Samphire, being so salty must somehow belong partially to the Water Element and partially to the Wood Element.  The Tamari and Sesame Oil add more Water and the Vinegar adds more Wood. The Garlic contributes a little bit of the Metal Element and the Sugar in the Seasoned Vinegar and added in bring in a bit of the Earth Element too.  The Fire Element is not present so this would be a good side salad for a meal that has more Metal, Earth and Fire foods. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Clam and Corn Fritters

When I was 10, I went to go and visit my relatives in Virginia. One of the highlights of the trip was fishing in the Shenandoah River. The fish were biting and so easy to catch that my sister caught one with a safety pin!  I was a bit squeamish at seeing them cooked so I ate mostly Hush Puppies at that meal and developed a love of that homely side dish that accompanied the fried fish. 

As the story goes, cooks would use the leftover cornmeal from coating the fish to make them, adding in Buttermilk, Baking Soda and Egg and deep frying them. They were said to have once been thrown by a cook in Louisiana to a howling puppy and that is how they got their name since it shushed him up. 

It's been awhile since I made them and now that I am gluten free, I needed to adapt the recipe. I made them tonight without any Fish and I added Clams, Red Pepper and Green Onion, which I think makes them into Fritters and gives them more color. For the batter, I used a combination of mostly Cornmeal with a bit of Gluten Free Flour to make them more tender and I used the Clam Broth instead of Buttermilk and used Baking Powder instead of Baking Soda because there's nothing acidic in this batter once you take out the Buttermilk. I fried them up and just couldn't stop eating them. I got the thumbs up from my son and daughter in law too. This would be a wonderful appetizer for a party and I am quite sure you could make them ahead and then put them in the oven to warm up.  Sometimes, good old fashioned Southern Cooking is hard to beat!

Clam and Corn Fritters

1 ½ cups Cornmeal
½ cup Gluten Free Flour (Cup4Cup or Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt or Creole Seasoning or Old Bay Seasoning
Pinch of fresh ground Black Pepper
2 cans Chopped Clams
½ cup cooked or frozen Corn Kernels, patted dry with a paper towel
3 - 4 Green Onions, sliced thin
¼ cup diced Red Pepper
1 large Egg, beaten lightly
Oil for Frying

Drain the Clams and reserve the Broth - it should measure a scant 1 cup of Broth. 

Heat oil in on medium high heat a wok or deep fryer to a depth of at least two inches. Put paper towels on a plate for the Fritters.

In a mixing bowl, combine the Cornmeal, the Gluten Free Flour, the Baking Powder, Salt and Pepper. Stir to blend. Then add in the Clams, Corn. Green Onions, Red Pepper, the reserved Clam Broth and Egg. Stir to combine.

Drop by the heaping teaspoonful into hot oil. Stand back and use a splatter guard if you have one as the oil might pop. Cook until golden brown, turn carefully using a spider or slotted spatula and remove when deep golden brown.  Continue until all the batter is used up.  Serve hot with Ketchup, Salsa or Tomato Chutney.

Five Element Analysis

As a fried food, these Fritters already have some of the Fire Element and the Red Pepper adds even more. The Cornmeal and Corn bring in the Earth Element. The Metal Element is found in the Gluten Free Flour, which is mostly made of Rice and the Green Onions contribute too. The Water Element is found in the Clams and Clam Broth, making this a balanced little snack!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Aunt Elma's Chicken Tarragon with GF Dumplings

Ny Aunt Elma came to visit when I was a teenager and she made this stew one night and I instantly fell in love with the flavor of Tarragon. I thought that was kind of funny since it tastes a bit like Licorice, which I didn't really like. But somehow, Tarragon intrigued me. My father absolutely adored this stew and he asked me to make it many time over the years. Luckily, I had helped her make it and I still remember being so surprised to see that it was really easy to make and required very few ingredients. At that time, she served it with Mashed Potatoes and since then I have been known to serve it with Rice or even Noodles, but my absolute favorite way to serve it is with Dumplings. Since going Gluten Free, I thought Dumplings were never going to be the same, but I was astonished to find Cup4Cup Flour, as it mimics the texture of Wheat Flour really well. These turn out puff and tender and delicious. So, nowadays, I'm sure you could use other Gluten Free Flour blends as well. I make Aunt Elma's Chicken Tarragon with Dumplings on a regular basis. It's comfort food at it's best!

Aunt Elma's Chicken Tarragon

6 boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large Onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons Oil
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
2 teaspoons dried Tarragon
3 cups Chicken Broth
1/3 cup frozen Peas
pinch of Black Pepper

Heat butter in a heavy saucepan. Add in the Onions and cook until the Onions soften.  Then add in the Chicken pieces and sprinkle with Seasoned Salt and Tarragon. Cook until one side of the Chicken is opaque and turn over and cook the other side. Pour in the Chicken Broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and turn heat to medium. Add in the frozen Peas and Pepper and bring back to a boil. Then add in the Dumplings.

For the GF Dumplings

1 cup Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour Gluten Free
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Butter, cut into small pieces
1 large Egg, beaten
1/4 cup Milk
1/4 teaspoon Vinegar

In a mixing bowl, stir together the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt. Add in the Butter and mix together with your fingers until the Butter forms little nodules and is incorporated into the flour. Add in the Egg, Milk and Vinegar, stir to combine.
Drop by the teaspoonful into the broth. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. 

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element. The Peas bring in even more.The Onions contribute the Earth Element since they cook a long time as does the Tapioca Starch in the Flour Mix. The Flour Mix mostly contains Rice Flour, which is part of the Metal Element and the Tarragon and Milk bring in even more. The Water Element is represented by the Egg in the Dumplings. The Fire Element is missing except for the bit of Pepper and the Water and Earth Elements could also use some support. So I served this dish with a Lettuce and Tomato (Fire Element) and Cucumber (Earth Element) Salad sprinkled with Sunflower Seeds (Water Element) to create a Five Element meal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Red Quinoa Salad with Italian Flavors

While teaching in England, I made dinner most nights rather than go out to eat and I always kept in mind that I wanted to cook things that would also be good for lunch the next day. The one dish that stood out to me was the Quinoa Salad I made with Sun Dried Tomato, Parsley and Green Onion tops. It had a light Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil Dressing and it was even more delicious the next day!  It's easy to make and I think it would be the perfect dish to bring to a potluck. I'm going to be making this dish again and again.

Red Quinoa Salad with Italian Flavors

1 cup Red Quinoa
1 1/2 cups of Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup of minced Sun Dried Tomatoes (packed in oil and drained)
1 cup of Parsley leaves, washed and minced
1/2 cup Green Onion tops, sliced thin
3/4 cup toasted Pine Nuts, 1/4 cup reserved for serving
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

Rinse Quinoa and drain. Then add to a small pot and add the 1 1/2 cups of Water and 1/2 teaspoon of Salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes.

In a serving bowl, add the Sun Dried Tomatoes, Parsley, Green Onion, 1/2 cup of the Pine Nuts and the Quinoa. In a small bowl, mix together the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt and Sugar. Pour over and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Pine Nuts and serve. Can be refrigerated and served the next day.

Five Element Analysis

Quinoa as a seed belongs to the Water Element and Pine Nuts add even more. Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil both bring in the Wood Element. The Sun Dried Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the Parsley and Green Onions are part of the Metal Element. Only a hint of the Earth Element is present so be sure to serve this with an Earthy meat like Beef or with another dish, like Squash or a sweet dessert to create a balanced Five Element meal.

Seared Scallops with Charred Tomato Sauce over Sautéed Fennel

I've been traveling the past several; weeks and I couldn't access this blog as I forgot to bring my password so I didn't get to post - I was locked out!  So now that I am home, I am behind  on posting as I did cook in England at the Airbnb and have several new recipes for you the next few days. Here's the first one that I think some of you might really want to make as it was so good!

I cooked this the night before I left, splurging on some great big Scallops and making a divine Charred Tomato Sauce. Scallops are one of the easiest foods to cook and only require that you don't turn them until they are fully browned.  

Scallops with Charred Tomato Sauce over Sautéed Fennel

6 large Sea Scallops, patted dry, sprinkled with Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3 cups Cherry Tomatoes, washed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons minced Shallots
1 Tablespoon Butter
¼ teaspoon Salt
pinch of Sugar
¼ cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Water

Heat a cast iron skillet and add the Vegetable Oil.  Place Scallops in the pan and cook, without touching until the bottoms are browned. Turn over and brown the other side.  Remove to a plate.

Then add in the Olive Oil and the Tomatoes and roll them around using the handle and a oven mitt until the Tomatoes are charred. Remove about 1/3 of the Tomatoes that are mostly whole to a plate to use for garnish. Then add in the Butter and the Shallots. Cook until the Shallots soften and the Tomatoes start to collapse. Add Salt, Sugar, White Wine and Water. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Remove sauce to a mixing bowl and puree with a stick blender.  

For Sautéed Fennel

2 heads of Fennel, stalks and bottom trimmed off and cut into thin slices
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a non-stick frying pan, melt the Butter and add in the Fennel slices. Sprinkle with Salt and sauté until the fennel softens and begins to turn a light golden brown.

Place the Fennel in the center of a serving plate. Place Scallops on top and the reserved Charred Tomatoes around the outside edge. Spoon the Charred Tomato Sauce over the top and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Scallops are a food from the Water Element.  Charred Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element, especially the way they are cooked. The Wine adds even more Fire. Fennel is one of the few Metal vegetables and the Shallots and Butter bringing in even more Metal. The bit of Olive Oil gives just a hint of the Wood Element so a Kale Salad or a green vegetable would be a good addition. And of course, don't forget the Earth Element which is easily added as a dessert for Five Element balance!