Monday, December 30, 2019

Kelly's Gluten Free Nutty Shortbread

By now I've eaten way to many Christmas cookies, but I wanted to share my absolute favorite of the season - Kelly's Gluten Free Nutty Shortbread! She adapted the recipe from Sunset Magazine and uses a combination of Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds mixed up in a Honey Caramel on top of a traditional Shortbread, only this time it is Gluten Free. I cannot even tell you how delicious these are - you are just going to have to make them and see for yourself!

Kelly's Gluten Free Nutty Shortbread
adapted from Sunset Magazine

Heat oven to 325 degrees

For Shortbread:

Lightly grease an 9 x 9 inch baking pan

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
2 cups of Gluten Free Flour blend (with Xanthan Gum or add 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Blend the Butter and Sugar together in a food processor or stand mixer until creamy. Then add in the GF Flour and Salt and mix until the mixture is like fine sand and just comes together when you pinch it. Press the mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and put on the Nutty Topping. Cook for an additional 20 - 25 minutes. The Nut mixture should be bubbling and just slightly browning.  Cool and cut into squares. 

For Nutty Topping:

3 cups of mixed Nuts (we used Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds)
3 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 cup light colored Honey
1/3 cup Sugar

Put the Butter, Honey and Sugar in a non stick frying pan. Heat to boiling and then add in the Nuts. Toss to coat and pour over the Shortbread.

Five Element Analysis

Since this is a sweet cookie made with both Sugar and Honey, this is definitely mostly and Earth treat. Almonds and Cashews add even more Earth. But, the Walnuts and Pecans bring  in the Water Element and the Rice Flour in the GF Flour adds in some of the Metal Element and the Butter brings in a lot more. Only the Wood and Fire Elements are missing, but serving these Nutty Shortbread with Coffee or Tea fixes that and then just be sure to add a Wood Food at another meal. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Gluten Free Date Bars

Every year I try to add one different cookie to the usual assortment and of course usually leave off one too. so we are not inundated with cookies. As it is, I do give away as many as I can!  This year I made Date Bars, which I haven't made since I was a teenager and that was a very long time ago!  This was one of my Father's favorites, so it has a special kind of nostalgia attached to it. So, I pulled out an old recipe card and adapted the recipe. I have no idea where the original recipe came from, but it was a very popular cookie way back then.

I needed to make it Gluten Free, which wasn't difficult at all and I lowered the amount of Sugar because I think Dates are very sweet enough all on their own. I also added just a little more Butter, as I think Gluten Free Flour Blends are a little drier. And I thought a pinch of Salt would balance the flavor. Anyway, it turned out wonderfully and I had forgotten how delicious Date Bars are!

Gluten Free Date Bars

8 ounces of pitted Dates, chopped
1/2 cup Water
pinch of Salt
1 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend (with Xanthan Gum or add 2 teaspoons)
1 cup Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
10 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

Butter an 8x8 inch square baking pan.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Place the Dates and Water in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring often until the Dates soften or until they become a paste - about 7 - 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

In a food processor or a big bowl, cream together the Butter and Brown Sugar. Add in the Oats and Flour and blend until the mixture is crumbly but sticks together when you pinch it. 

Pour half of the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan and press down. Spoon the Date filling over the crumbs carefully with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the remains crumbs on top, pressing down lightly. 

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.  Cool and cut into squares.

Five Element Analysis

Dates are very sweet and very sticky so they are certainly Earth foods. The Oats and Brown Sugar add even more. The Butter brings in the Metal Element as does the Rice Flour in the baking mix. But this is clearly a Earthy treat!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Savory Potatoes

I've been on a Potato kick lately and since I was a bit tired of eating them the usual ways, I wanted to try something different. I love the recipe from Edna Lewis for Potato Casserole (previous post) so I decided to deconstruct it. I ended up cooking the Potato slices in Chicken Broth and then putting them on a baking sheet, pouring some melted Butter on top and cooking them until they were browned. Oh my goodness, they were so good - savory and buttery and delicious! The advantage to doing it this way is that it takes a lot less time. Plus, the leftover Chicken Broth is perfect for soup, as it is already a little bit thickened. I think it's a great side dish for the holidays as the Potatoes can be cooked ahead and then put in the oven after the main dish has come out and is cooling.  I'm going to be making this dish again and again

Savory Potatoes

2 large Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
4 cups of Chicken Broth
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
Optional:  1/4 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt

Place the Chicken Broth in a pot and add in the Potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes,or until the Potato slices are fork tender.  Drain, reserving the Chicken Broth for another use.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees

Place the Potato slices on a parchment covered baking sheet. Spread them out and drizzle with the melted Butter. Sprinkle with Salt, if using. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until the Potato slices are golden brown.  

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element, so this is clearly an Earthy side dish. The Butter adds a bit of the Metal Element and the forms of cooking - boiling, which is the Water Element and Baking, which is the Fire Element add a little bit of those Elements too.  

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Red Flannel Hash

I used to go to this breakfast cafe where I would have to wait a long time to get a seat and every time I went, I ordered their Red Flannel Hash. I decided long ago that it was better if I learned to make my own, since standing in the rain in Seattle isn't fun. And, the restaurant is pretty far away too. So, I had some leftover Corned Beef and I also had a package of cooked Beets the other day and voila - Red Flannel Hash was ready to be made once again.  

For those of you who have never had this dish, it is simply Corned Beef Hash with chopped cooked Beets added in. It makes the whole dish red and since the ingredients kind of mush together, it is supposed to look a lot like red flannel cloth. Although I've made Hash many times with cubed pieces of Potato, I think Red Flannel Hash turns out better when you grate the Potatoes, although you can certainly use leftover Potatoes and it will be even faster. I took a tip from Serious Eats as I soaked the Potato Shreds in cold water, drained them and then microwaved them quickly before cooking them in a frying pan. I also don't add in the Onion or the Beets or the Corned Beef until the Potatoes are already somewhat crisped up or they will overcook. You can leave out the Beets if you want and then you will have just Corned Beef Hash, which is also delicious.  Served with a Sunny Side Egg, I think this is the perfect breakfast!

Red Flannel Hash

2 medium large Russet Potatoes, peeled
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
1/2 of a large Red Onion, chopped
1 cup or more of diced, cooked Corned Beef
1 cup diced, cooked Beets
To serve:  2 fried Eggs

Grate the Potatoes and place them in a bowl and cover with cold water. Drain and place on a microwave safe plate. Put in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. 

Heat a large frying pan on medium heat. Add in the Potatoes and press with a spatula to flatten and cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Cook (be patient!) until the Potatoes are golden brown on that side. Turn over in sections and cook until that side is also browned. Then push aside the Potatoes and then add in the additional Tablespoon of Oil  and the Onions. Cook until the Onions start to soften. Then add in the Corned Beef and Beets. Stir to combine thoroughly  Flatten the mixture and crisp up again on one side and then the other. Put onto two individual plates and top with fried Eggs to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beets and Potatoes both belong to the Earth Element, so that's the dominant element in this dish.  The Onions bring in some Metal and the Eggs bring in some of the Water Element. Serve this dish with Coffee or Tea and you add the Fire Element. If you serve it with Wheat Toast, you add in the missing Wood Element or you can serve it with a tart juice, like Pineapple or Orange to create a balanced breakfast too. 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Lebanese Green Beans

When I used to live by the beach in Redondo Beach many years ago, there was a small Lebanese restaurant near my apartment that I used to go in to on a regular basis. My standard was their wonderful Lentil Soup, but one of the other dishes that I loved was their slow cooked Green Beans in Tomato Sauce. Nowadays, most people cook their Green Beans so that they are still crisp, but once in a while, I really like soft, tender Green Beans. That restaurant has long since closed and I don't live down there anymore either, so I've been making Green Beans their way ever since. I found out that the special seasoning was Allspice, which is one of those spices that goes so perfectly with Tomatoes. I like to use fresh Tomatoes, as I think the flavor is so much better, but in the winter, canned Tomatoes work well too. Just be sure to add a bit of Sugar to sweeten up the somewhat acidic canned Tomatoes. I've also found out that it is common for Green Beans to be cooked until they are soft in many Mediterranean countries. But, if you only like your Green Beans crisp, just don't cook them so long!

Lebanese Green Beans

1 pound Green Beans, washed with the ends snipped off
6 Roma Tomatoes (or 1-14 oz can of chopped Tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of Sugar)
1 small Onion or 2 Shallots, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup of Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1/2 teaspoon ground Allspice
1/4 teaspoon of Salt
a pinch of fresh ground Black Pepper

Bring a small pot of Water to a boil and drop in the Tomatoes for 1 minute. Remove and peel. Then scrape out the seeds and chop.

In a large frying pan (with a lid), heat the Olive OI land add in the Onions (or Shallots) and Garlic Cloves. Cook until you can smell their fragrance. Then add in the Tomatoes and cook until the Tomatoes break down to form a sauce. Add in the Broth and bring to a boil. Then add in the Green Beans, sprinkle with the Allspice, Salt and Pepper and toss. Return to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the Green Beans for 30 - 40 minutes or until the Green Beans are very soft. 

Five Element Analysis

Green Beans are a Wood Food and either of the Broth and Olive Oil both add some more. The Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element and the Metal Element is found in the Allspice, Onions and Garlic.  If you serve this side dish with a Water main dish, like Fish and serve a sweet dessert, you will have a completely balanced meal!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

It's almost Thanksgiving and I am going to my daughter-in-law's family Thanksgiving Dinner and I am bringing my Gluten Free Dressing and Gravy. But I also decided to make a Cranberry Sauce because I like mine to be a bit more tart and more like a Chutney. My son Stephen was over today and he commented that he always liked the Cranberry Relish that had the flavor of Orange, except that it didn't keep well and thought we could use those same flavors in a cooked sauce and I wanted to add some spice. So, we zested the outside of one Orange and squeezed the juice out of it along with another Orange and then added in some Cinnamon and Cloves. We were going to add in some grated Ginger, but I had the idea of using candied Ginger instead, as I just bought some. We only used 3/4 of a cup of Brown Sugar, but you can add more if you like it sweeter  We loved this Cranberry Sauce so we are sharing it with you and will happily serve it alongside our Turkey in two days - Happy Thanksgiving!

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

12 ounces fresh Cranberries
1 cup fresh squeezed Orange Juice (from about 2 Navel Oranges)
¾ cup – 1 cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup minced Candied Ginger
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground Cloves

Use a microplane and zest one of the Oranges. Then squeeze the Juice our of the Oranges and add to a saucepan (If you don't have 1 cup, add in some Water). Rinse the Cranberries in a strainer and pick out any soft ones and place them in the saucepan. Add in the Brown Sugar, Candied Ginger, Orange Zest, Cinnamon and Cloves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the Cranberries pop and the sauce thickens, about 10 - 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Five Element Analysis

Cranberries belong primarily to the Fire Element due to their bright red color. But they are very sour so they also bring in some of the Wood Element too. The Orange Zest brings in even more of the Fire Element and the Juice, because it is sweet, adds some Earth. The Brown Sugar adds in even more Earth. The Ginger bridges both Earth and Metal and the Cinnamon and Cloves contributes the Metal Element. So, if you make sure to have a Water food to serve this with, you will already have found some balance. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving Dressing Muffins

My favorite dish at Thanksgiving is actually the Dressing, which last year I made into Muffins and I'm going to do that from now on. This isn't a recipe - it's a way of cooking the Dressing so that you have individual servings. Just be sure to use the Egg in the recipe to hold the Dressing together. We split the Dressing Muffins in half and poured Gluten Free Gravy all over them and we were all very happy, We will be making these again this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dressing Muffins

1 recipe of Gluten Free Bread and Sausage Dressing or Southern Cornbread Dressing mixed with Egg

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray cupcake tins with oil. Then scoop dressing into the cupcake tins, rounding the top of each with a spoon.  Place in the oven and cook for 25 - 40 minutes or until the tops are browned.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes on this Blog:

Thanksgiving Spatchcocked Turkey
Delicious Gluten Free Gravy
Gluten Free Thanksgiving Bread and Sausage Dressing
Southern Style Cornbread Dressing - Gluten Free
Stuffed and Baked Acorn Squash
Brussel Sprout Salad with Bacon and Lemon Dressing
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta, Shallots and Parmesan
Umami Brussel Sprouts
Creamed Leeks
Cranberry Relish with Middle Eastern Flavors
Lactose Free Pumpkin Pie
Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Steamed Pumpkin Pudding

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Potluck Bean Salad with Mexican Flavors

Many of you who are my students know that it has been a very busy time for me for both personal and professional reasons. And by the way, my Cookbook will be ready very soon!  So, I haven't done much cooking except that on the last day of my recent module, I decided to bring in lunch since there was a Sounders soccer championship going on in the stadium nearby and all the restaurants nearby were booked for lunch. I made my usual Chicken Salad and Tuna Salad along with a Bean Salad that was so good that I had to share it here and also so I wouldn't forget how I made it! It's really a homemade Salsa mixed in with Beans along with some Corn and Green Peppers. I added Avocado too. It was a huge hit especially with my Vegan students, and I realized what a great Potluck dish this would be. I will definitely make it again, especially for a crowd!  I forgot to take a photo and will add it next time I make it.  

Potluck Bean Salad with Mexican Flavors

2 cans Black Beans
2 cans Pinto Beans
1 Green Pepper
½ White Onion
6 medium Tomatoes
4 ears of Corn, cooked or use 2 cups of frozen Corn
Juice of 5 Limes (or Lemons)
½ cup of Vegetable Oil
1 large or 2 small Serrano Chios
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
Optional:  2 - 3 ripe Avocados, cut into small pieces
For Serving:  Cilantro Leaves

Drain the Beans in a Colander, rinse and drain again. Put the Beans into a large mixing bowl. 

Cut the Green Pepper, Tomatoes and the Onion into small pieces and add to the bowl. Cut the Corn off the cob and add to the bowl

In a small mixing bowl, add together the Lime Juice, Vegetable Oil, Serrano Chili, Salt and Sugar. Stir to combine well.  Pour over the Beans and mix well.  Add the Avocado, if using and stir in gently.  Let the Bean Salad sit for at last 15 minutes, preferably longer in the refrigerator.  When ready to serve, sprinkle with Cilantro leaves.  

Five Element Analysis

Beans belong to the Water Element, especially Black Beans and Avocado adds in a bit more Water along with some of the Wood Element too. The Wood Element is further enhanced by the Lime Juice. The Green Pepper belongs to the Fire Element, with a bit of Wood *because of the color) and the Serrano Chiles and Tomatoes make sure that the Fire Element is fully represented. The Corn contributes the Earth Element and the Onion brings in the Metal Element, along with the Cilantro. This is a beautiful, colorful salad so you probably guessed that it contained al Five Elements and it does in a very delicious way!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Coconut Rice

This is a busy time of year for me and I'm dealing with some profound personal issues with the death of my Mother and my Aunt. So, I need comfort food more than ever and Rice is one of those comfort foods. My friend Stephanie made me some Coconut Rice when I went to visit her in San Diego this summer and she taught me how to make it. I came home and forgot all about it until I really needed to make Rice and I wanted Rice with some flavor. Coconut Rice was exactly what I needed.

It's a simple recipe using Basmati Rice with equal parts full fat Coconut Milk and Water in a 2 to 1 ratio. I added a bit of Salt as I can't cook with out Salt and I have to say, it turned out wonderfully. I couldn't stop eating it and it soothed me. I think it would be wonderful with Curries - Indian or Thai.  So, here's the recipe with a big thank you to Stephanie!

Coconut Rice

2 cups Basmati Rice
2 cups full fat Coconut Milk
2 cups Water
1 teaspoon Salt

Wash the Basmati Rice in a small-holed Colander. Place in a heavy pot on the stove and add in the Coconut Milk, Water and Salt. Stir until combined. Bring the Rice to a boil, then cover and cook for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving,.

Five Element Analysis

White Rice is a Metallic Grain and Coconut Milk has properties of both Earth and Metal so this is the perfect dish to support grieving Lungs!  Besides, that it has the grounding and comfort of Earth foods so I will no doubt be making this often for a while.  

Monday, September 30, 2019

Gluten Free Cornish Pasties

I'm heading to England to teach and as always, I tend to make food from the country I am visiting before I get there. It's a pretty unconscious motivation and I don't realize that I am doing it until after I have cooked the dish. This time, I made Cornish Pasties, also known a Hand Pies, using the Gluten Free Pastry Dough from my new Cookbook - so you are getting a recipe preview. Of course, this filling is very different!

Cornish Pasties were first made as a lunch meal for miners, as they were easily portable and could be eaten with one hand. The filling was always quite simple, usually minced Lamb or Beef, small chunks of Potatoes, Carrots and often Rutabaga. I like to add in Celery too. The seasoning for the filling is light, usually just salt and pepper and sometimes a bit of Thyme or Worcestershire Sauce and I kept to the tradition, because I like to serve them with Steak Sauce which adds more flavor. The Pastry is usually made with Lard or Butter or these days, Vegetable Shortening. The  Xanthan Gum holds it together and lets you roll it out. Make the filling first and get it cold before trying to fill the Pasties. These also freeze well, but they will take a bit longer to cook. I am taking some with me on the plane as I am leaving now....

Gluten Free Cornish Pasties

Meat Filling

1/2 pound of ground Beef or Lamb
1/2 cup of diced Onion
1/2 cup diced Potato
1/2 cup of diced Carrot
1/2 cup of diced Celery or Rutabaga
1/2 teaspoon Salt
pinch of fresh ground Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups of Beef Broth
1 heaping Tablespoon of Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons Water

In a large saute pan, cook the Beef (or Lamb), Potato, Carrot and Celery pieces on medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the seasonings and the Beef Broth and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the harder vegetables are just getting a little soft. Then add in the Cornstarch slurry and stir until the mixture thickens. Cool completely before using as a filling.

Gluten Free Pastry Dough

1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum (if the Flour Blend does not include it)
½ cup cold Lard, Butter or Vegetable Shortening
2 teaspoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
1 large Egg for Dough + 1 additional Egg, lightly beaten for the Egg Wash
1/3 cup Ice Water

In a food processor (or large mixing bowl), mix together the Flour, Sugar and Salt.  Then add in Lard (or Shortening or Ghee). Pulse until it is incorporated (or use a pastry cutter or two forks). Then add in the Egg and Cold Water and mix until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill until cold (about 30 minutes). 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Then lightly dust a cutting board and rolling pin with a little extra flour. Roll out ½ of the dough at a time and cut 4 - inch circles with a cookie cutter.  Use a dough scraper to lift the circles of dough. Place one piece in the palm of your hand. Fill with 1 slightly rounded Tablespoon of filling and pinch to seal.  Place on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Repeat until all are filled. Use a little extra dough if needed to patch any tears in the pastry. Brush with Egg Wash. Bake for 20 - 25  minutes or until golden brown.  

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the Broth adds even more. If you use Lamb, you are adding the Fire Element. Carrots bring in more of the Earth Element, as do Rutabagas. The Celery contributes the Wood Element and the Onion makes sure that the Metal Element is present and the mostly Rice Flour Gluten Free Flour adds even more. The Egg in the dough  and the Egg Wash contributes the Water Element along with the Worcestershire Sauce. Only the Fire Element is missing, unless you use Lamb and then this snack is balanced. I used Beef so that's why I serve it with Steak Sauce and also a Salad on the side to make this snack into a balanced meal!

New Cookbook Coming Soon!

I wanted to let you know that my cookbook, Divine Chinese Cuisine, written with my son Stephen Lesefko, is almost ready for publication!  It has 100 Authentic Chinese Recipes with 70 Vegan Options!  And, all recipes are Free of Gluten, Dairy, Seafood, Nuts, Dye and MSG for all of you who have food sensitivities and allergies. I will let you know as soon as it is available for purchase!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Ukranian Style Cabbage Salad

My friend Wendy recently went to a Ukranian festival here in Seattle and told me about the wonderful Ukranian Coleslaw she had there that was full of Dill and other vegetables. I remembered for the first time in a long time that I used to make a simple version of this salad for my ex-husband. who has Ukranian heritage. It's a simple Cabbage Salad, but it is so full of flavor. I can't believe I haven't made it in so many years and now that I have remembered it, I will be making it often as I love the flavor of fresh Dill and I love Cabbage too.

Ukranian Style Cabbage Salad

4 cups Red Cabbage, shredded
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup fresh Dill, cut into small pieces + 1 Tablespoon extra for garnish
1/4 cup White Vinegar (I used White Balsamic)
1/4 cup Sunflower Oil
1 teaspoon Sugar

Place the Cabbage in a mixing bowl and add the Salt. Mix in with your hands and massage it in thoroughly. Let the Cabbage sit for 15 minutes.  

Then in a small mixing bowl, mix together the fresh Dill, Vinegar, Sunflower Oil and Sugar.  Stir to blend thoroughly and pour over the Cabbage. Let sit for another 15 minutes before serving or refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. It keeps overnight very well. Garnish with the remaining Dill before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element and this dish is primarily Earthy, but the Red Color of the Cabbage in this dish also brings in a little of the Fire Element too. The Vinegar contributes the Wood Element and the Dill adds in e Metal Element. The Oil, made from Sunflower Seeds adds some of the Water Element too. So this Salad has more intrinsic balance than is evident and makes a good side for meat dishes.  

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Almost Southern Collard Greens

I have a great fondness for Southern food as my Father was born in the South and I had an ex-husband from there too, I got to enjoy some really great Southern food on my travels to Tennessee and South Carolina. One of the things I liked best was Greens cooked with Ham Hock and the other night I made a variation that, while not completely authentic, was wonderful!  I had some Pancetta in the freezer from Trader Joe's, which is just a kind of Italian Ham and it is already cut up into a small dice. If I didn't have that, I would have used Country Ham or Bacon, but I was out of those. I sautéed the Pancetta with some Onions and Collard Greens. Then I added in some homemade Chicken Broth and let it cook for only about 1/2 the time so that the Greens had a bit more texture. A sprinkling of Pepper is all that it needed and I was happily eating Greens with some Cornbread on the side!

Almost Southern Collard Greens

1 bunch of Collard Greens
1 cup of Pancetta or Country Ham, diced
1/2 of a Yellow Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3/4 - 1 1/2 cups of Chicken Broth (depending on how long you cook the Greens)
fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

Pull the Collard Greens off the Stems and cut them into bite sized pieces. Wash, drain in a colander and reserve.

In a sauté pan with 3 inch sides, heat the Oil and add in the Onion, cooking until you smell the fragrance. Add in the Pancetta or Country Ham and the Collard Greens. Cook, stirring until they wilt. Add in the Chicken Broth (3/4 cup if cooking for 20 - 30 minutes and 1 1/2 cups if cooking for up to one hour). Cover and put on simmer and cook for either 20 minutes or one hour. Sprinkle with Black Pepper before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

Collard Greens are a leafy green Vegetable so you know that they have to belong to the Wood Element and the Chicken Broth adds even more. The Pancetta or Ham, as a salted meat brings in the Water Element and the Black Pepper adds just a hint of the Fire Element. This is a good side dish for a dinner that's missing both Wood and Water.

Reverse Seared Steak

I've been working really hard on finishing the cookbook and while I haven't forgotten to cook other things, I have forgotten to take photos!  To give you an update - our Cookbook Divine Chinese Cuisine - Book 1 is full of authentic Chinese recipes that are also Gluten, Lactose, Seafood, Nut, Dye and MSG Free!  I will give you another update when it is finally going to print and let you know as soon as it will be available online. 

In the meantime, I did cook something very interesting the other night that I thought I would share with you - Reverse Seared Steak. This is a technique where you first put the steak in the oven and then sear it in a very hot cast iron skillet to finish and it's amazing!  I've never been very good at making Steak and now I have to say that with this technique the Steak was so good!

I got the idea from the wonderful website, Serious Eats, but I did have to adapt it as I didn't have time to age the steaks in the fridge and I had 1 inch thick Steaks, not 2 inches. So, here's the technique for medium rare steaks. If you want them more done, cook them in the oven a bit longer - until the thermometer reads 130 - 135 for Medium Well. I think you will want to try this way of making Steak!

Reverse Seared Steak
adapted from Serious Eats

2 Rib Eye Steaks (at least one inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper
2 Tablespoons Salted Butter

Heat the oven to 275 degrees.  Place the Steaks on a baking sheet and sprinkle each side of each Steak evenly with Salt and Pepper.  

Place in the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the instant read thermometer reads 125 degrees.  

Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove until it is very hot.  Place the Steaks on the pan and sear on one side fro 45 seconds, turn them over and sear for another 45 seconds. Remove from the pan and place one Tablespoon of Butter on each Steak. 

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the bit of Butter adds in a hint of Metal. The way of cooking does bring in the Fire Element due to the high heat. But, to make a balanced meal, you will certainly want to add a Green Vegetable for the Wood Element, or perhaps also a Salad for the Fire Element or a Steak Sauce with some heat. And don't forget to bring in something for the Water Element and a little more of the Metal Element too - we had Blueberries with Whipped Cream.  

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Best Banana Muffins

I have a grandson who loves Bananas in almost every form and his favorite way to eat them is as Banana Muffins. So, I've been making these often are his favorite Muffins. They are light and fluffy and full of delicious Banana flavor and they are Gluten Free too! I adapted a recipe from Dorie Greenspan for Banana Cake and substituted Gluten Free flour and Yogurt for the Sour Cream although you can certainly revert back to the original recipe if you like. I mix it all up in the Cuisinart so that the Banana is thoroughly incorporated but if you like Banana Chunks, mix it by hand. I also cut down the quantity so it makes an even dozen delicious Banana Muffins!

Best Banana Muffins 
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 ½ cups Cup4Cup flour (or other Gluten Free Flour Blend with Xanthan Gum)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick unsalted Butter (4 ounces), softened
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Egg
2 ripe Bananas mashed
1/2 cup plain Yogurt

Heat oven to 350 degrees and fill a Muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream together the Butter and Sugar and then add in the Yogurt, Vanilla Extract, Egg and Bananas. Mix to combine thoroughly. Then add in the Gluten Free Flour, Baking Soda and Salt.  Mix thoroughly. 

Fill the Muffin tins evenly with the batter and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the top of the Muffins spring back lightly and the Muffins are golden brown. 

Five Element Analysis

Bananas like all tropical fruit, belongs to the Earth Element and as this is a sweet treat made with Sugar, it is definitely mostly an Earth food. However, the Yogurt, which is sour contributes the Wood Element and the Butter adds the Metal Element. The Cup4Cup flour adds more Metal since it is mostly Rice Flours and the Vanilla Extract adds even more. Serve this with a cup of Tea or Coffee to bring in the Fire Element and make sure to add something from the Water Element too, we ate these for breakfast with Pork Sausages to create some balance

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Red Cabbage Slaw

I love serving some kind of Salad along with grilled Meats, but I shy away from ones that are too sweet or too sour. I had a small head of Red Cabbage in my refrigerator that needed to be used and I decided to experiment. What I came up with with is a Red Cabbage Slaw seasoned with Coconut Vinegar and Coconut Aminos. Coconut Vinegar is a bit less sour than many vinegars I use and Coconut Aminos are a substitute for Soy Sauce or Tamari.  The Slaw was so good!  I liked it even better the next day when the Cabbage softens. The flavor was complex and delicious. I will be making this all the time now!

Red Cabbage Slaw

1 small head Red Cabbage or 1/2 large
3 Green Onions, trimmed
1 large or 2 small Carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Coconut Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Coconut Aminos
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Hot Mustard or Dijon
pinch of White Pepper

Cut off the core of the Cabbage and slice very thin. Then cut into about 2 inch lengths. Cut the Green Onions into thin shreds and then cut into about 2 inch lengths. Cut the Carrot into about 2 inch pieces and then slice and cut into julienned pieces. Place all the vegetables into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with Salt and let sit for 15 minutes.  

Squeeze out all the moisture from the vegetables with your hands (you can do this in a colander if you want) and put into a salad bowl.  

In a small bowl, mix together the Coconut Vinegar, Coconut Aminos, Sugar, Mustard and White Pepper. Stir to combine and pour over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Put into the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Five Element Analysis

Red Cabbage because of its color belongs partially to the Fire Element and partially to the Earth Element. The White Pepper adds a tiny bit more Fire and the Carrot adds even more Earth. The Coconut Vinegar, since it is sour contributes the Wood Element and the Coconut Aminos, since it is salty belongs to the Water Element. The Green Onions and Mustard contribute the Metal Element. Who would have guessed that this little Slaw would be balanced?

Monday, July 8, 2019


One of the things I miss in LA is my favorite Mexican Restaurant. I vary between ordering Carne Asada and Sopes. I don't have a go-to place here in Seattle that's close, so last night I decided to make my own Sopes. They really aren't hard to make and since I now own a little deep fryer and  they take only minutes to cook. What was more time consuming was to make a topping, but I had already made some Rope Viejas made (previous post) and I always have Rrefried Beans so it came together quickly. 

Sopes are fried Masa rounds, much like Tortillas but they are thicker and have pinched edges that hold in the toppings. I thought they were really fun to make. I got a hint from one of my Mexican friends about adding little Baking Powder to make them puff just a bit and they were delicious!  Now I'm thinking about all the other toppings that I can make to put on top like Green Chili Chicken, Carnitas and Chicken Tinga (all previous posts). Sopes are crisp, but still tender inside and I love them. I will be making them a lot now!


3 cups Masa Harina
2 - 2 1/4 cups Warm Water
1 Tablespoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
Vegetable Oil for Deep Frying

Put Masa Harina into a mixing bowl with the Salt and Baking Powder and stir to combine. Add in 2 cups of Water and stir to moisten the Masa and try to form a ball. Add additional water 1 Tablespoon at a time until the dough has reached the consistency of Playdough. Form the Masa into 2 inch balls. Then place wax paper or parchment on the counter and taking one ball of Masa at a time, flatten the ball with your palm and then push out with your fingers until you have about a 4 inch circle. Then push back the edges to form a rim and pinch to make the rim a little higher. Repeat with each Masa ball. Cover with damp paper towels to keep moist while you are cooking them.

Heat the Oil to 375 degrees. Drop in 1 Sope and cook about 1-1/2 minutes and then use a spider and turn over for an additional 1-1/2 minutes or until the Sope is golden brown. Remove and place on a paper-towel covered plate and repeat until all the Sopes are cooked. 

For traditional toppings, spread with a thin layer of Refried Beans and then add the topping of your choice - Meat, Cheese, Salsa, etc.

Five Element Analysis

Sopes are made of Corn so that automatically makes them an Earth Food, so the Elemental balance will depend on what toppings you choose. Refried Beans contribute the Water Element. I used Ropa Vieja, which is Beef - more Earth with Red Pepper - which is Fire and Onions, which is Metal.  Only the Wood Element is missing so a green vegetable would create a balanced meal. and a Tomatilla Salsa would be good choice.