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.