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.