Saturday, December 26, 2020

Chorizo and Potato Soup

When I was in my 20s and first living on my own, my apartment was down the street from an amazing little Mexican Taco Stand. I used to eat there at least once a week, and often much more!  One of my favorite Tacos was Chorizo and Potato. I don't know why, but I haven't had one in years, so I decided to make some. The problem was that I only had a few Corn Tortillas that were a bit dried out so they were only good for chips, so I improvised and ended up making this deconstructed Chorizo and Potato Taco as a soup!  

Oh my, I was so happy with the flavors of this soup and it was the perfect post-Christmas meal. I made a basic Potato Soup with Onions and Chicken Broth and then cooked the Chorizo on the side and swirled it in when it was done. And, you could easily make it Vegan with Soy Chorizo and Vegetable Broth. I topped it with a quick Pico de Gallo and I crisped up the last few Corn Tortillas in Oil after cutting them in thin little strips. You can easily substitute some crumbled Tortilla Chops  It was so good! It came together in about 30 minutes and it was so delicious! 

Chorizo and Potato Soup

4 large Russet Potatoes (or up to 8 smaller Potatoes), peeled and cut into a dice

1/2 White or Yellow Onion, chopped

3 Tablespoons Butter, Lard or Vegetable Oil

8 cups of Chicken or Vegetable Broth

1 9 oz Pork, Beef or Soy Chorizo

4 Corn Tortillas, sliced into thin shreds (about 1/4 inch wide) with the larger lengths cut in half

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

In a medium saucepan, put in the Butter (or Lard or Oil) and melt. Add in the Onion and cook until they soften. Then add in the Potatoes and cook (but do not brown) until they start to get sticky. Then add in the Broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until the Potatoes are very soft. Cool slightly  and puree with a stick blender.

While the Potato Broth is cooking, place the Chorizo in a small frying pan and cook until it is crumbly. Remove to a plate and wash and dry the frying pan. 

Then add int he Vegetable Oil and heat. Add the Tortilla shreds, 1/2 at a time and cook until crisp. Remove to a paper cover lined plate and repeat until all are cooked. Reserve the Oil for another use. 

Make the Pico de Gallo (recipe below)

Ladle the Soup into 4 bowls, dividing the Chorizo evenly between the 4 bowls and stir in. Then add in a big spoonful of Pico de Gallo and sprinkle a few of the Tortilla Shreds on top of each. Serve with the remaining Pico de Gallo on the side. 

Pico de Gallo

3 Roma Tomatoes, cored and diced

1/4 cup diced White or Yellow Onion (from the other half used above)

1/2 of a small Serrano or Jalapeno Chile, minced (equals about 1 Tablespoon)

3 Tablespoons minced fresh Cilantro leaves

1/4 teaspoon Salt

Juice of one small Lime

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and use as a garnish for the soup.

Five Element Analysis

Soup as a liquid food, always belongs to the Water Element and the use of Pork Chorizo adds even more Water. However, the Red Chili Powder in the Chorizo also contributes the Fire Element, as does the Tomatoes and Serrano Chili n the Pico de Gallo. The main ingredient of the Soup is Potatoes, which brings in the Earth Element as do the Corn Tortillas. The Wood Element is represented by the Lime Juice and also the Chicken Broth  and a bit by the Cilantro too. The Onion adds in more of the Metal Element and the Butter and the Cilantro do too. This soup then is very balanced as well as begin delicious!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Crisp Oat Cookies

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I've been busy baking cookies. Of course, I make several of my usual favorites like Molasses Crinkles and Russian Tea Cakes (previous posts), but every year I try to add one new Cookie. This year I decided to make a Crisp and Delicate Gluten Free Oat Cookie. I made it with a Gluten Free Flour Blend from King Arthur (Measure for Measure. If this Cookie was made with regular Flour, it would be called an Oatmeal Lace Cookie. But the lack of Gluten in this version keeps it from being lacy, but it doesn't stop it from being absolutely delicious!  These cookies are very delicate so they do need some careful handling. And, you can drizzle them with Chocolate if you want and then they would be the Gluten Free version of Florentines from a Washington Post recipe. I like them just as they are, but might add Cinnamon next time. I just made sure I had a big cup of Tea to go with them. I like to nibble first on the crispy edges and work my way into the softer center. These are wonderful Cookies!

Crisp Oat Cookies (Gluten Free)

1 cup Rolled Oats

3/4 cup Sugar

1 Egg, lightly beaten

1 stick of melted Butter

3 Tablespoons Gluten Free Flour Blend (with Xanthan Gum)

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Optional:  1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover two half sheet baking pans with aluminum foil, shiny side up.

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Form into round 1" balls. Place 5 on each baking sheet, separating them as much as you can so they can spread. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until they are light golden brown. Remove from the oven. Let cool for a few minutes and take the aluminum foil (with the cookies still on them) and place on the counter. Put on two new sheets of aluminum foil and continue with the remaining Cookie Dough. 

When the cookies are cool, carefully peel them from the foil and place on a serving plate.

Five Element Analysis

Oats belong to the Earth Element and in are said to calm the Spleen in Chinese Medicine. And, because these Cookies are also very sweet, they are definitely considered an Earth food.  The Egg adds a bit of Water and the Butter brings in the Metal Element. So Tea and Coffee are good beverages to serve with them, as either would add the Fire Element. Then only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to add a Wood food at another meal.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Sausage, Tomatoes and Zucchini

I'm very fond of sheet pan dinners as they take so little effort as almost everything cooks together in the oven and so there's also very little cleanup. So, I decided to make Gluten Free Gnocchi with some vegetables. I had read about cooking Gnocchi directly in the oven on broil, but that was for regular Gnocchi. I wanted to use Le Veneziane GF Gnocchi and I knew that it needed to be cooked first. The good new is that it only take a minute in boiling water to get it ready for the sheet pan. And, you can do it while the other ingredients are cooking on the sheet pan and then add it in for the last five minutes on broil to crisp it up. I decided to make little Italian Sausage meatballs along with Cherry Tomatoes and cut up Zucchini. I also decided not to add fresh Onion and Garlic, but instead used both Garlic and Onion Powder as I wanted the flavor and I wanted to add Maldon Sea Salt. Of course, you can add Onion and Garlic if you like and you can also add some Red Pepper pieces too.  I cooked the Sausage and Vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes and then added the Gnocchi and cooked for 5 more minutes under the broiler. It was delicious!  This is a half recipe because I made it for myself and it was fantastic heated up the next day for lunch too!  

Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Sausage, Tomatoes and Zucchini

1 package GF Gnocchi (I used Le Veneziane)

Boiling Water

2 Italian Sausages, removed from casing and made into small meatballs

1 small Zucchini (or 1/2 of a larger one), cut into a large dice

10 Cherry Tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder

1/3 teaspoon Sea Salt (I used Maldon)

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Heat the Water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the Gnocchi and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes. Drain and reserve in a bowl. Toss with Olive Oil.

Place the Italian Sausage Meatballs, Zucchini pieces and Cherry Tomatoes on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and the Garlic and Onion Powder and Salt. Placce in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove and turn the oven to broil.

Add the Gnocchi to the pan and put in the pan with the Sausage, Tomatoes and Zucchini. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until the Gnocchi starts too crisp. Serve with Parmesan Cheese if desired. 

Note:  If you would like crispier Gnocchi, cook in the broiler separately until crisp and then add back to the other ingredients. 

Five Element Analysis

The Gnocchi is made from primarily Rice Flour and that belongs to the Metal Element and the Garlic and Onion Powder add even more. The Italian Sausage was made of Pork, which contributes the Water Element. The Cherry Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the Zucchini adds the Earth Element along with a little fo the Wood Element too. And, finally the Olive Oil makes sure that more of the Wood Element is present. Who knew that this simple dinner could be so balanced!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Smothered Pork Chops with Gluten Free Onion Gravy

After celebrating Thanksgiving with a Chinese version, I was still craving some Dressing, which has always been my favorite part of the meal. But I didn't have any Turkey, so instead I made Smothered Pork Chops. For those of you who've never had this dish, it is a Southern specialty where Pork Chops are pan fried and then covered (smothered) in a rich Onion Gravy. And, I need Gravy on my Dressing. I made a combination of the Bread Dressing and Cornbread Dressing (previous posts). 

I haven't made Smothered Pork Chops in years and I don't know why. This was one of my Father's favorite ways to eat Pork Chops although usually he wanted Mashed Potatoes as the side dish and it would be good with Noodles too. It's comfort food for sure, but quite easy to make. All you do is fry Pork Chops on each side for about 4 minutes if you are using 1" thick Pork Chops  It takes less time for thinner Pork Chops. I like to use Boneless Pork Chops because it's awfully messy when there's a bone. Then take them out and then sauté some Onion pieces in Butter until they are lightly caramelized. Then you use Sticky Rice Flour and Broth to make the Gravy. Be sure to season it with some Pepper for an authentic taste. Then you add the Pork Chops in and cook for another 15 minutes and that's it. I'm definitely going to remember to make this more often as it's just so good!

Smothered Pork Chops with Gluten Free Onion Gravy

4 - 1" thick boneless Pork Chops
Salt for seasoning the Pork Chops
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I used Safflower)
3 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 large Onion chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 Tablespoons Sticky Rice Flour (also called Glutinous Rice Flour or Mochi)
2 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
a pinch of fresh ground Pepper

Pat the Pork Chops dry with paper towels. Then season both sides lightly with Salt. Then heat the Oil in a large frying pan. Add in the Pork Chops and cook for 4 minutes, turn and cook for an additional 4 minutes (cook for only 3 minutes if using thinner Pork Chops. Remove for the pan and put on a plate.

Put the Butter in the pan and add in the Onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until they are light golden brown. Then add in the Rice Flour, stirring to combine and then add in the Chicken Broth and Pepper. Whisk it all together and cook until the Gravy thickens. If you'd like the Gravy to be thinner, add a little bit of hot Water or more Broth. Add the Pork Chops back in to the pan and turn the heat down to a high simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and then serve over Dressing, Mashed Potatoes or Noodles.

Five Element Analysis

Pork belongs to the Water Element and Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element. The Rice Flour, Butter and Onions contribute the Metal Element and because you caramelize the Onions, it also adds Earth. Gravy is also a very Earthy food because of its texture too. The Pepper brings in only a little bit of the Fire Element, so be sure to serve it with a Fire food side dish to create balance along with the Starch of your choice.