Sunday, January 27, 2019

Creamy Celery Root Soup

It's soup season for me and tonight I wanted something creamy and nourishing. I recently bought a Celery Root thinking I was going to make a salad from it but instead, I made a lovely soup  I cooked the Celery Root with a Potato, a Leek and a small amount of Marjoram. The soup had a lovely light Celery flavor that I loved. It was also really fast and easy to make. I garnished it with a little some Green Onion pieces lightly sautéed in a little bit of Butter. My son garnished his bowl with some Bacon. I loved this soup and will definitely make it again!

Creamy Celery Root Soup

1 medium Celery Root, peeled and diced
1 medium Potato, peeled and diced
1 large Leek, white and light green part only, sliced, washed and cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 teaspoon Marjoram
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
Optional:  1/4 cup Green Onion pieces (green part only) sautéed briefly in 1/2 Tablespoon of Butter for garnish

In a medium sized pot, melt the Butter and then add in the Celery Root, Potato and Leek. Cook for several minutes over medium high heat until the Leek softens. Add in the Broth, Marjoram, Salt and Pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the Celery Root and Potato pieces are soft. Puree with a stick blender and garnish with the Green Onions pieces

Five Element Analysis

As a soup, this is naturally a Water food. Celery usually belongs to the Wood Element but since this is the Brown Root of the plant, it also has a very strong Earth Component as well. The Potato adds even more Earth. The Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element and the Leeks and Green Onions contribute the Metal Element. Only the White Pepper represents the Fire Element so be sure to serve this with another Fire food, like a salad to create balance.  

Friday, January 25, 2019

Smashed Potatoes

I really love Baked Potatoes, but I don't think about making them very often and I usually cook really big Potatoes and there is simply too much for me to eat. So last year, I decided to start baking smaller Potatoes. Then I read about smashing Potatoes and that was it!  I've been smashing them ever since!  What smashing Potatoes does is expose more of the Potato to the heat, which makes them a bit crispier. You have to boil them first and you can pick your choice of toppings. I like to use Butter, Bacon and Green Onions, my Son adds Sour Cream. If you haven't started smashing Potatoes yet, you might want to start as they are so delicious!

Smashed Potatoes

12 small new Potatoes
1/4 cup melted Butter
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
3 slices Bacon, cut into small pieces
2 Green Onions, cut into small pieces

Cover the Potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes. Drain and place on an oiled baking sheet. 

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Using the bottom a mug, push down on each Potato until it is about 1" thick. Put 1 teaspoon of Butter on each Potato and sprinkle with a pinch of Salt. Pu into the oven and cook for 25 minutes.  

Meanwhile, cut the Bacon into small pieces. In a small frying pan, cook the Bacon until it is crisp. Remove and drain the fat. Add the Green Onions to the pan and cook until they wilt slightly.  

Take the Potatoes out of the oven and sprinkle each with a bit of Bacon and Green Onion. Put back in the oven for another 3 - 5 minutes.  Serve with Sour Cream if desired. 

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element so this is a primarily Earthy dish. The Butter and Green Onions contribute the Wood Element and the Green Onions and Sour Cream bring in the Metal Element. The Bacon makes sure that the Water Element is also represented. So only the Wood Element needs to be added so be sure to add some Green Vegetables to your meal!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Korean Beef and Tofu Soup

I grew up eating all kinds of Asian Foods since my Mother is Chinese and she particularly liked Korean food. I remembered a soup that she used to make that I was always afraid would be too hot because of the red color that came from Korean Chili Powder, but she made it mild for us kids. I was thinking about that soup tonight and decided to recreate it having had a similar one at a Korean Restaurant recently. I remembered that my Mother would marinate sliced Beef in a mixture of Korean Red Pepper Powder, Soy Sauce and Garlic. Korean Soy Sauce is always gluten free, by the way and if you don't have it, use Tamari instead. The Soup Base was Beef Broth and the vegetable was sliced Zucchini. Sometimes she would cook Eggs in it too.  The Soft Tofu was wonderfully creamy and would soak up the flavors of the soup. At the end of the cooking time, she would pour in some Sesame Oil and sprinkle it with Green Onions. It was easy, fast to make and delicious. I'm happy to say that it turned out just right. I must remember to make this more often! 

Korean Beef and Tofu Soup

1 pound of Beef Steak, sliced very thin into about 1 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Korean Red Pepper Powder
3 Tablespoons Korean Soy Sauce or Tamari
3 Garlic Cloves, minced fine
1 Zucchini, ends cut off, cut in half and cut into thin slices
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 cups Beef Broth
1 - 2 packages of Soft Tofu (Soon Tofu), removed from package and cut into squares
2 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
Optional: 3 - 4 Eggs

In a mixing bowl, mix together the Red Pepper Powder, the Soy Sauce and the Garlic. Add the Beef and mix thoroughly. 

In a soup pot, heat the Oil and add the Zucchini. Cook, stirring often until he Zucchini softens. Then add in the Beef and cook until it is no longer raw. Then add in the Beef Broth and the Tofu. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and then add in the Eggs carefully and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then drizzle with the Sesame Oil and Green Onions to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and so does Zucchini, so this soup is rather Earthy, but soups by nature are always part of the Water Element too. More of the Water Element comes from the Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil and the Eggs if you use them.  The Metal Element is represented by the Tofu Garlic and Green Onions. The Korean Red Pepper Powder makes sure that the Fire Element is also present. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve some Banchan (side dishes) like Korean Spinach or Kimchi, which has the Wood Element's sour flavor so that the meal is balanced.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Thai Beef with Basil

I've been buying  a lot of Thai takeout later and decided that it would b much better if I made it myself at home. So today I decided to make Thai Beef with Basil. I've discovered that Thai food is fairly easy and quick to make, as long as you have some basic seasoning ingredients in your pantry - in this case Tamari (Soy Sauce) and Fish Sauce. Other than that, this dish requires some Thai Basil, Brown Sugar, Garlic, Shallots and a Chili - all things I had. A quick note: Thai Basil keeps best at room temperature. I added Red Pepper for Color and Green Beans too. Another trick, is to slice the Beef when it is partly frozen, so place it in the freezer for a while first or unthaw it just until sliceable. This dish was done in less time than it took to cook the Jasmine Rice and it was wonderful!  An easy weeknight meal and in my opinion, better than takeout!

Thai Beef with Basil

3/4 pound of Flank Steak or other Beef steak, sliced into thin strips
1 large or 2 small Shallots, peeled, trimmed and sliced thin
3 Garlic Cloves, minced.  
1 Red Pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
a handful of Green Beans, ends trimmed and snapped in half
1 small Red Chili (Thai Bird Chili or Red Jalapeño) sliced into rings
1 1/2 Tablespoons Tamari (Soy Sauce)
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (divided)
a handful of Thai Basil Leaves

Blanch the Green Beans in a small pot of boiling water, cooking for about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside

In a small bowl, mix together the Tamari, Fish Sauce and Brown Sugar. Place Beef in another bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of the sauce mixture, mixing well with your hands.

Then heat a wok on high heat and add 2 Tablespoon of OIl. Add in the Beef and smooth into one layer with the spatula , cooking until one side is browned and turn to brown the other side. Remove to a serving bowl. Then add in the additional 2 Tablespoon of OIl. Put in the Shallots and Garlic, stirring quickly. Then add in the Red Pepper and Green Beans. Cook until the Red Peppers soften.  Then add the Beef back in, then toss in the Basil and Sauce, stirring to wilt the Basil. Serve immediately with Jasmine Rice. 

Five Element Analysis

With such a colorful dish, it is likely that many Elements are involved. The Beef contributes the Earth Element, as does the Brown Sugar. The Red Pepper and the Red Chili bring in the Fire Element. The Green Beans make sure that the Wood Element is present and the Fish Sauce and Tamari add the Water Element. The Metal Element is represented by the Shallots, Garlic and Thai Basil. So, this ends up being a very balanced dish!  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Baked Oatmeal

My friend Kelly is visiting over the holidays and today we made a breakfast dish that I wanted to share with you - Baked Oatmeal.  I read about it on the food website, Serious Eats and wanted to try it. But, I decided to change up the ingredients, using Blueberries and Almonds and Almond Milk instead of Apples or Bananas, Walnuts and regular Milk. I also left out the Brown Sugar on top as I wanted just he flavor of Maple Syrup. I was really impressed with the way it turned. I love the texture - the oats weren't mushy and the blueberries didn't burst. A subtle almond flavor permeated the dish and it was delicious!. Thank you to Serious Eats. This is definitely a breakfast dish I will make again! 

Baked Oatmeal
adapted from Serious Eats

1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 cup slivered Almonds
1 1/2 cups fresh Blueberries
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 large Egg
1 1/4  cups Almond Milk
2 Tablespoons melted Butter (or Ghee)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a pie pan with butter or oil. Put oats, almonds and blueberries in the baking dish. IN a mixing bowl, stir together the Maple Syrup, Salt, Cinnamon, Egg, Almond Milk and melted butter.  Pour into the baking dish.  Gentry stir the mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the center is set and top is very lightly browned Serve with additional Maple Syrup

Five Element Analysis

Oats belong to the Earth Element and since this is a sweet breakfast dish, it is primarily Earthy and the Almonds and Maple Syrup add even more. The Blueberries and Egg contribute the Water Element.  The Cinnamon gives a tiny hint of the Metal Element but the Almond Milk adds more. The Wood and Fire Elements are not present, so be sure to serve this with some Orange Juice for Wood and Coffee or Tea for more Fire. I also served Bacon for more of the Water Element.