Saturday, February 29, 2020

Instant Pot Assisted Refried Beans

As you saw in my last post, I've been playing with my new Instant Pot and one of the things that I made and loved was Pinto Beans. They cooked up perfectly and were ready to make into Refried Beans in only 30 minutes. I cook all Beans without Salt as it can make the skin of the Beans a little tough. I use only Water, a Bay Leaf and an herb called Epazote to cook my Pinto Beans. This herb is often used in Mexico for cooking Beans as it helps to improve your digestion, meaning that it reduces gas, which is a god thing!  Epazote has a somewhat medicinal smell, but I love it as it reminds me of Mexican home cooking. I also have started using Lard in my Refried Beans, as I am quite enamored of it as an ingredient in Mexican food. I buy a special high quality Leaf Lard online and for those of you who worry about saturated fat, many studies show that Lard is actually very good for you!  You can use a light tasting Vegetable Oil instead if you prefer, or if you are Vegan.  I also like my Refried Beans to be somewhat pasty with chunks left in. I use Refried Beans on top of Tostadas to hold the other toppings on and of course they are an essential ingredient for Burritos. With an Instant Pot, making Beans has never been easier!

Instant Pot Assisted Refried Beans

1 cup dried Pinto Beans
3 1/2 cups Water
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon dried Epazote
1 Tablespoon Lard or a light tasting Vegetable Oil + an additional 2 Tablespoons
1/2 cup of minced White (or Yellow) Onion
1/4  teaspoon Salt
Optional:  1/4 teaspoon of Chili Powder or a pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Rinse the Pinto Beans and place into the Instant Pot. Add in the Water, 1 Tablespoon of Lard or Oil, Bay Leaf and Epazote. Seal the lid and cook on High Pressure for 30 minutes. Let cool naturally.  When ready to make the Refried Beans, drain the Pinto Beans, remove the Bay Leaf and reserve the cooking liquid. 

In a frying pan, melt the Lard or heat the Oil and add in the Onions. Cook until soft and just beginning to brown. Put in the Beans and Salt. Then mash the Beans with a Potato Masher or the back of a fork. Add in 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and cook on medium low heat until thickened, adding more liquid if necessary until you get the consistent desired. Serve immediately. If you reheat the Beans later, you will need to add a bit of Water to rehydrate them.

Five Element Analysis

Pinto Beans, like all Beans, belong to the Water Element and the Lard  or Oil adds even more, but their brownish color also makes them a bit Earthy.  The Onion contributes the Metal Element and there is just a hint of Fire if you add in the Chili Powder or Cayenne. Clearly, this is a food meant to be eaten with other foods to create a balance.  

Friday, February 28, 2020

Instant Pot Shredded Beef

I'm a bit of a slow adopter of new technological gadgets and I probably wouldn't have gone out to get an Instant Pot myself, as I have an old Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker. But the seal isn't working well and I can't seem to find a replacement. So, my son gave me an Instant Pot that I finally started using and I was astounded at how quickly it cooks food!  In half an hour, I made delicious shredded Beef for Tacos, Tostadas and Burritos!  

I used a 2 1/2 pound Chuck Roast and I seasoned it with a combination of spices - Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cumin, Salt and Sugar. I mixed in a small can of Tomato Sauce and some Water and let it cook. I was mimicking the flavors of my childhood standby Taco Seasoning Mix. The Beef came out perfectly. I served it on fried Corn Tortillas, spread with some (Instant Pot assisted) refried Beans, sprinkled on some shredded Lettuce and drizzled it all with Salsa. I was very happy and it was so good!

Instant Pot Shredded Beef

2 - 2 1/2 pound piece of Beef Chuck Roast, cut lengthwise in half
1 8 oz can of Tomato Paste
1 cup Water
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 te2 teaspoon Sugar

Add the Tomato Sauce and Water to the Instant Pot.  and then add in the seasonings. Stir to blend. Then add in the Beef. Seal the lid and cook for 30 minutes on High Pressure. Let cool naturally and then take the Beef out and shred with two forks.  Use as a topping for Tostadas or as a filling for Tacos, Burritos or Quesadillas.

Five Element Analysis

Beef is an Earth Food, but the Tomato Sauce and Chili Powder bring in some Fire. The Garlic and Onion Powder, as well as the Cumin contribute the Metal Element. Served with Corn Tortillas, you add more Earth, but when served with Flour Tortillas, you add the Wood Element. Lettuce brings in more Fire as does Salsa, which also has Lime for more Wood  and Onions and Cilantro adding in more Metal. And finally, Refried Beans contribute the Water Element.  So making Tostadas with this Shredded Beef gives you a pretty balanced little snack!  

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Gluten Free Waffle Batter

I had a desire to make Waffles so I invested in a Dash Mini Waffle Maker. I think they make the perfect size Waffles and I froze the leftovers (yes, there were several!) And then when I wanted them again, I popped them into the toaster and they were just as delicious as the day they were made. I used the recipe from the book that came with it, but I subbed out the Milk for Oat Milk and the Wheat Flour for Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour. You can use any Gluten Free Flour blend, but make sure it has Xanthan Gum in it or add 1 teaspoon.  I did leave in the Butter as it has very little Lactose and I especially wanted it to melt on top the hot Waffles. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for you Waffle maker - for mine, this recipe made 6 mini Waffles. They were so good that I am sharing the recipe with you!

Gluten Free Waffle Batter

1 cup Gluten Free Flour (add 1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum if mix doesn't have it)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
1 cup Oat Milk
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Mix the GF Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt in a small mixing bowl. In a separate larger mixing bowl, whisk together the Egg, Oat Milk and Melted Butter. Add in the Flour mixture and stir to combine. Make the Waffles as directed by your Waffle Maker. Serve the Waffles with Butter and Maple Syrup.

Five Element Analysis

Gluten Free Flour is usually made with Rice Flour which brings in the Metal Element and Tapioca Starch and Potato Starch, which bring in the Earth Element. The Metal Element is further enhanced by the Butter and Baking Powder, whereas the Oat Milk adds more Earth and the Sugar contributes just a little bit more. The Water Element is found in the Egg. Maple Syrup is a Wood substance made more Earthy since it is sweet. This meal needs some Fire, which is easily added by drinking Coffee or Tea and some more Water, which is easily added if you serve Pork Sausage or Bacon. Only the Wood Element needs some support, so be sure to eat some greens later in the day!

Monday, February 10, 2020

My Cookbook, Divine Chinese Cuisine, written with my son, Stephe Lesefko, has finally been published! There are 100 authentic Chinese recipes, 70 of which can be made Vegan. And, all recipes are free of Gluten, Dairy, Seafood, Nut, Dye and MSG! You can order it here:

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Creamy Lentil Soup with Sausage and Greens

It's soup weather here, cold and rainy, and I decided to make a creamy Lentil Soup. I started out by making the Lentil Soup with Chicken Broth, but you could easily substitute a good Vegetable Broth and it was seasoned simply with Onions, Carrots, Celery (Mirepoix), minced Garlic, a Bay Leaf and some Pepper. When the Lentils were soft, I pureed it all to make it creamy. And since I wanted to have a one-bowl-meal, I added in some Sausage pieces, some Sautéed Greens - in this case, Collard Greens, and some Onions that caramelize as you are cooking the Sausage and Greens. It was exactly what I wanted and it was so good!

Creamy Lentil Soup with Sausage and Greens

3/4 cup Brown Lentils
1 large or 2 small Carrots, cut into small pieces
1 large or 2 small Celery Stalks, cut into small pieces (
1 large, Onion cut into small pieces, reserving half
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
a pinch of fresh ground Pepper
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Butter
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup Water
1 Bay Leaf
Optional: a pinch of Cayenne Pepper or a teaspoonful of Hot Sauce

In a soup pot, put in the Olive Oil or Butter and then add in the Carrots, Celery, Onions and Garlic. Sprinkle with the Salt and Pepper.  Cook until the vegetables are wilted. Then add in the Chicken or Vegetable Broth and Water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes or until the Lentils are completely tender. Season with Cayenne or Chili Sauce, if desired. Using a stick blender or a blender (in batches), puree the soup until smooth. Then make the Sausage and Greens mixture to add in.

To Make the Sausage and Greens

1/2 of a Kielbasa Sausage, Smoked Sausage or Spanish Chorizo Sausage diced
2 cups of chopped Greens - Collard, Kale or Chard
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil or Butter

In a frying pan, heat the Olive Oil or Butter and add in the other half of the Onion from above. Cook until light golden brown, stirring often. Then add in the Sausage pieces and cook until they are lightly browned. Finally add in the Greens and cook until they are wilted. Add to the Soup and bring back to a boil before serving.

Five Element Analysis

Brown Lentils are clearly an Earth Element food and the Carrots add even more Earth. The Celery and Greens contribute the Wood Element and the Olive Oil, if you use it adds a little more. The Onions and Garlic bring in the Metal Element and if you use Butter, that's also more Metal. The Sausage, as cured salted Meat, brings in the Water Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so you can add in the Cayenne or Chili Sauce or use a spicy Chorizo Sausage. I just made Tea my beverage to bring in the Fire Element. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Hawaiian Style Butter Mochi Cake

I made a Butter Mochi Cake for my Master Face Reading Program students last November and I promised I would post the recipe. Clearly, you can see that I forgot to do that until I made it again yesterday.  So here, finally, is the recipe!  For those of you who don't know, Butter Mochi Cake is a Gluten Free Cake made with Sticky Rice Flour or Mochiko. This cake has Butter in it as you can see from the name, but also full fat Coconut Milk. It's a bit like a chewy pudding and it's so good!  It puffs up a lot while cooking and then sinks back down when it cools. 

I got my recipe years ago from a Hawaiian friend I worked with and it's a pretty standard recipe. I weigh the Mochiko instead of measuring it, as it's much more accurate, and I use a little less Vanilla Extract, as I like that flavor to be subtler.  You can also add ingredients like Matcha if you like. It keeps for up to 4 days and freezes well too. t's the cake I often make for family birthdays these days and if you haven't had it yet, you need to make this unusually delicious Hawaiian cake!

Hawaiian Style Butter Mochi Cake

8 ounces of Mochiko (Sticky Rice Flour) - 1 packed cup
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 large Eggs
1 cup Sugar
1 can full fat Coconut Milk
4 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1 - 1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.  
In a mixing bowl, stir together the Mochiko, Baking Powder and Salt. Set aside. 

In a Food Processor or Stand Mixer, mix together the Butter and Sugar until it is creamy. Then add in the Coconut Milk, Eggs and Vanilla until fully combined.

Add the Mochiko mixture, scraping down the bowl several times. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 - 65 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown and springs back very lightly when you press it. Let cool and cut into 12 squares

Five Element Analysis

Because it's a sweet Cake, you know that it's an Earthy food, but surprisingly, there is a lot of Metal in this dessert!.  It comes from the Coconut Milk, the Butter, the Sticky Rice Flour and the Vanilla Extract so it's a great dessert to add to a meal that is missing the Metal Element.