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!