Saturday, February 16, 2019

Garlic Confit - Roasted Garlic Cooked in Olive Oil

I'm leaving home to teach for two weeks and I've been trying to use up things that that are perishable and won't be used by my son while I'm gone. Recently, I went a splurge and bought a lot of Garlic. Chances are it will stay good while I'm gone, but some of them looked like they might sprout, so I made Garlic Confit. That's just a really fancy name for Roasting Garlic in Olive Oil. You simply cover Garlic Cloves with Olive Oil to cover and then roast it low and slow. I did cut the largest Garlic Cloves in half to remove the Green piece of new Garlic that was growing, as that makes the Garlic bitter.

Once the Garlic is roasted in the Olive Oil until soft and browned, it can be used in any number of ways and the remaining Olive Oil is full of Garlic flavor and wonderful for stir-frying. It's also so simple to make Garlic Confit, I don't know why I don't do it more often!  Personally, I love to mash Roasted Garlic up and add it with the Oil to Salad Dressings and I also use both the Garlic and Garlic Oil in pasta dishes. My son loves it on a toasted Baguette, with some of the Olive Oil and a sprinkling of Maldon Sea Salt - it's  so delicious. So, I know he'll eat it cup while I'm away!

Garlic Confit - Roasted Garlic Cooked in Olive Oil

1 large head of Garlic - about 10 cloves, peeled
Olive Oil to cover

Heat the oven to 250 degrees

Place Garlic Cloves in a heat proof baking dish and just cover with Olive Oil. Cook for 1 hour or until the Garlic Cloves are golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and put into a jar and keep in the refrigerator.

Five Element Analysis

Garlic belongs to the Metal Element and Olive Oil to the Wood Element so be sure to add the Garlic and the Oil to a meal where you also incorporate the other Three Elements of Water, Fire and Earth. That's why I use both the Garlic and the Garlic Oil in a big salad.  

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Blueberry Chia Pudding

I'm always looking for different things to have for breakfast so I decided to make a Blueberry Chia Pudding. Chia Seeds are very good for you, particularly for your digestion and they are loaded with nutrients with  very few calories. I used Almond Milk to keep it Lactose Free and I cooked frozen blueberries with a little Sugar to make a sauce to stir in. It was so good that I am sharing it with you!  You could easily make this a dessert instead of a breakfast dish.

Blueberry Chia Pudding

1 cup Almond Milk
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
3/4 cup Blueberries
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Hot Water

In a mixing bowl, mix together the Almond Milk and Chia Seeds. Put aside. 
Put Sugar and Hot Water in the bottom of a small pot and stir to dissolve slightly. Add the Blueberries and turn the heat to medium.  Cook until some of the Blueberries start to burst and make a sauce - you can push down on some of the Blueberries with you spatula to help this process along. Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add to the Chia mixture and stir in thoroughly.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes up to overnight.  

Five Element Analysis

Blueberries are a Water Fruit and Chia Seeds belong to the Water Element as well. So this is a great dish to support your Kidneys. Almond Milk is a Metal Beverage with some of the Earth Element from the Almonds as well and the Sugar adds just a bit more Earth. The Fire Element is missing, which can easily be added with Coffee or Tea and the Wood Element also needs representation so I served my pudding with Chicken Breakfast Sausages to make a balanced breakfast!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Stir-Fried Shanghai Year Cake

Happy Chinese New Year! It's the 9th anniversary of 5 Element Food and I actually can't believe I've been writing this blog for so long! 

Of course, last night I had a Chinese New Year's Eve family dinner and served lots of lucky foods. One of the dishes we made was Stir-Fried Shanghai Year Cake. It's called Year Cake in my family because we serve it at Chinese New Year. This dish incorporates Pork, Green Onions, Bok Choy and Sliced Rice Cakes, often called Rice Ovalettes. This little Rice Cakes are considered very lucky and help you achieve lofty heights in the new year. Many Chinese people I know eat a sweet version of Rice Cake, but my family always made them savory the Shanghai way.  

The Rice Cakes can be found at most Asian supermarkets and they are sometimes frozen. I've even found them dried in Europe. To stir fry them, you will need to soak them in hot water for at least 20 minutes before adding to the stir fry. And, like all stir fry dishes, you cook the dish in stages with everything cut up and marinated and ready to be cooked. If you like chewy foods, this dish is for you. It's delicious and lucky too!

Stir-fried Shanghai Year Cake

12 ounces sliced Rice Cakes (1/2 bag)
1/2 pound lean Pork or Chicken, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine
1 bunch Bok Choy, trimmed, cut in half and cut into bite size pieces
3 Green Onions, trimmed and cut into small pieces, white and green parts separated
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Oyster Sauce
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1 teaspoon Sugar
a pinch of White Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chicken Broth or Water

Soak the Rice Cakes in hot water for at least 20 minutes. Drain when ready to use.

Place the Pork in a small bowl and add the Tamari and Rice Wine, Mix thoroughly and let marinate for 15 minutes.

In another small bowl, mix together the Oyster Sauce, Tamari, Sugar, White Pepper and Chicken Broth.

Heat a wok or large frying pan and then add in 2 Tablespoons of OIl. Add the white part of the Green Onion and cook, stirring until you can smell the fragrance. Then add in the Bok Choy and cook until softened.  Remove and put into a serving bowl.

Then add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of Oil and add the Pork, separating it so it cooks in one layer. Turn and cook the other side. Then scoop off the sides and add the Year Cake. Stir fry for a few minutes and then add the Bok Choy back in with the Green Onion tops add add the sauce. Stir until everything is coated. Serve while hot.

Five Element Analysis

Rice Cakes primarily belong to the Metal Element, but because they are sticky and chewy, they also contain some of the Earth Element too. The Metal Element is further enhanced by the Green Onions. The Pork brings in the Water Element as does the Oyster Sauce and Tamari. The Bok Choy adds the Wood Element as does the Chicken Broth. So only the Fire Element is missing and the Earth Element is only slightly represented so be sure to add a Fire and Earth food to your meal.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Creamy Tomato Soup with Thai Flavors

I was craving a bowl of creamy Tomato Soup but I didn't want to use any dairy. So I decided to create a Tomato Soup using Coconut Milk and adding some Thai flavors  I might add that I keep Lemongrass in the freezer, so if you don't have any, you can use a bit Lime or Lemon Zest. I pureed it with a stick blender and served it with a squeeze of Lime. It was so good that I couldn't stop eating it!  

Creamy Tomato Soup with Thai Flavors

2 14.5 oz cans of diced Tomatoes
1 can of full fat Coconut Milk, 13.66 oz
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 Shallot, minced
2 teaspoons minced Lemongrass or 1/2 teaspoon Lime or Lemon Zest
1 teaspoon Salt 
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 Lime, cut into quarters

Put the Oil into a medium saucepan and heat. Add the Shallots and cook until they soften.  Then add the Tomatoes, Coconut Milk, Lemongrass, Salt and Sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Then use a stick blender or a blender  to puree the soup. Serve with a squeeze of Lime.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is always part of the Water Element so that Element is covered. The Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element. The Coconut Milk represents both the the Metal Element and the Earth Element since it is naturally sweet. The Lime and Lemongrass, which is Woody herb, contribute the Wood Element. This soup is more balanced than I expected!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Roasted Eggplant with Sriracha Butter

My daughter in law loves Eggplant and she loves Sriracha Chili Sauce. So, I decided to combine those two things in a simple side dish when she was over for dinner the other night. I roasted the Eggplant until it was crisp at the edges and tossed it with a Sriracha Butter Sauce. It was so wonderful that I had to post it (so I could remember it and they could access it.) 

Roasting Eggplant is one of my favorite ways to cook it as it absorbs less oil. And it's a wonderful, mostly hands off cooking method that is helpful when you are also cooking other things. I used long and slender Japanese Eggplant as they are not as bitter. I cut them up into chuck and tossed them in the oven with only a little oil. Once they were roasted, I dressed with them a simple sauce of melted Butter combined with Tamari and Sriracha. It was so good and I wish I had made twice as much!  

Roasted Eggplant with Sriracha Butter

3 Japanese Eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I used Safflower)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Tamari
1 - 2 teaspoons Sriracha Chili Sauce

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle the Oil over a sheet pan and add the Eggplant. Toss with your hands to coat them lightly. Sprinkle with the Salt and place in the Oven. Cook for about 15 minutes and then turn the Eggplant. Continue cooking for another 10 mintues or until the Eggplant is browned. Remove and put into a serving bowl. 

In a small frying pan, heat the Butter until melted and stir in the Tamari and Sriracha and then drizzle over the Eggplant. Toss with a spoon to coat the Eggplant fully and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Eggplant belongs to the Water Element due to it's dark Purple Color and many seeds. The Tamari adds even more Water. The Sriracha and the Roasting method of cooking bring in the Fire Element and the Butter adds just a hint of Metal.  This is a dish best served with other dishes that incorporate the Wood and Earth Elements.