Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

This recipe is an adaptation from a wonderful dish that I experienced at a Japanese restaurant in Philly called Pod. The interior of Pod looks like a set out of the early Woody Allen movie, Sleeper and has wonderful lighting that softly changes color as you sample the delicious delicacies.

I have made the wraps a number of times to the delight of my guests and students. I was just in London this past week and included the recipe in a cooking class I gave there. I thought you might also enjoy the simple yet tasty dish that can be added to a festive meal or enjoyed with a sweet veggie soup and hot brown rice.

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Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Deep fried tofu

Ingredients:

1 block tofu cut into rectangles
Corn flour
1/2 cup roasted peanuts finely chopped
 1 tablespoon barley miso
 1 tablespoon rice syrup
1 tablespoon mirin
¼ cup water
 2 finely cut scallions
1 cup bean sprouts
Safflower oil for deep frying
Soft lettuce leaves rinsed

Preparation:

Gently pat the tofu dry with paper or cotton dish towels.
Toss in corn flour.
Heat the oil on a medium flame and then turn it to high.
Deep fry the tofu for a few minutes.
Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain.
Place the tofu, peanuts, sprouts and scallions into a serving dish. Season with a few drops of shoyu.
Put the miso, rice syrup and mirin into a suribachi. Mix well. Can add a little water to make a smooth cream.
For a spicy taste, add a dash of 5 spice.
Pour the sauce into a small bowl.
Place the lettuce leaves onto a plate.
Take one leaf; place a few spoonfuls of the tofu mixture in the middle and add a spoonful of sauce. Lightly wrap and enjoy!
By the way, you can also steam the tofu if you would rather an oil-free dish.


Soft lettuce leaves




Monday, November 19, 2012

Red Dragon Pie

I am off to the jolly UK tomorrow so I thought I would give you a lovely recipe for Red Dragon Pie. The red dragon is actually emblazoned on the Welsh flag. This dish conjures up childhood memories of riding the little narrow gauge steam train 13.5 miles up into the mountains to the slate-quarrying village of Blaenau Ffestiniog where we were greeted by the lady dressed in Welsh costume. The views were stunning overlooking huge lakes, crashing waterfalls, and the heather covered Snowdonian mountains dotted with sheep, and the occasional hawk. Welsh weather is questionable to say the least and we often spent days on the beach sporting large and rather thick woolen (Welsh wool of course) sweaters over our bathing suits. Red Dragon Pie certainly warms the cockles of your heart and is a welcome choice for any chilly day. Enjoy with a large helping of lightly blanched greens garnished with tangerine for a simple and satisfying lunch.


Festiniog Railway



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Red Dragon Pie

Red Dragon Pie

Ingredients

1 cup adzuki beans, soaked overnight
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 cup winter squash diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon chili peppers (optional)
1-2 tablespoons shoyu
2 Tablespoons organic tomato paste
1 teaspoon or so of mixed herbs such as parsley, thyme, oregano
1-2 cups water
4 sweet potatoes cooked and mashed

Preparation

Place the kombu and beans in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for about 45-50 minutes.
NOTE: This part of the recipe can be done ahead of time or you can use a can of organic beans!
To continue . . .
Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and garlic. Add the onion and sauté for a minute. Add the carrot and squash and sauté another minute.
Add the cooked beans and leftover rice, and mix well.
Add the shoyu, tomato puree, chili pepper, ginger and herbs and a cup of water.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
RDP shown with greens, cucmbers/takuan and teriyaki mushrooms
Place the rice and aduki bean mixture in an oiled casserole dish.
Place the sweet potatoes on top.
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
Serve garnished with parsley

Portmerion North Wales


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sweet Chestnut Pudding

Horses at Golega
 
One of my favorite foods in the fall are chestnuts. When I lived in Portugal, the chestnut festival was held at this time of year in Golega along with the famous horse fair that dates back to the 18th century . I could smell the delicious aroma of roasted chestnuts as I wandered down the narrow, cobbled streets towards the rabble of fair goers. It seems that the local red wine is considered the perfect companion to the the rich nutty delicacy of chestnuts as it flowed in plentiful supply . The festival itself is full of horses of all colors and sizes. In the middle is a huge arena where the famous Lusitano stallions, ridden mostly by very macho men in traditional costume, leap, gallop and dance. There is a great display of different equestrian events and parades over the few days . I love the festival as it is happy, lively and full of richness both in taste and character.
Dried Chestnuts

Today I am going to use dried chestnuts which are a bit sweeter and less floury in texture than fresh roasted. They need to be soaked before cooking, just as you would dried beans, for at least 4 hours or longer. Dried chestnuts can be stored free of moisture in an airtight jar.
Sweet Chestnut pudding is a wonderful dessert if you are looking for something a bit substantial and not baked. I actually created this recipe about 25 years ago and found out much to my amazement that they make one in Korea that is almost the same. It is funny how recipes come about and how we align with other styles of cooking even if we are not aware in the moment.
By the way you can pressure cook fresh chestnuts in their shell and they taste fabulous. Simply cut a cross in the bottom of each nut. Place in the cooker with enough water to generously cover the bottom. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. The skins will peel off easily.


Sweet Chestnut Pudding

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sweet rice rinsed
2 cups dried chestnuts rinsed
1 apple diced
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup aduki beans rinsed
1 inch strip kombu rinsed
6 cups spring water
2 cups apple juice
I teaspoon grated orange rind 
1 tablespoon rice syrup




  Preparation:

Place the sweet rice, chestnuts and aduki beans in a bowl, and soak overnight in 6 cups water.
Place all the ingredients into a pressure cooker, cover with lid, and bring up to pressure on a medium flame.
Place a flame deflector under the pressure cooker and cook for about 1 hour on a low flame.
Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
The dessert should have plenty of juice. If it seems dry, add a little more apple juice.
Mix gently and place in a large bowl for serving.



Sweet Chestnut Pudding




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Charming Cabbage Slaw

This dish is my latest fav. It is so simple to prepare and tastes fantastic, totally refreshing, uplifting and adds a lightness and sparkle to any meal. I was inspired by a Lebanese dish that my daughter, Alisa, told me she had in a restaurant in New York. Enjoy xxx

Ingredients


4 cups finely shredded cabbage
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil

Preparation

Place the cabbage and sea salt into a bowl.
Mix gently with your hands for a minute or so. This helps to stimulate enzymes.
Add the lemon and olive oil and mix through.
Let sit for about 10-15 minutes.
Mix from time to time.
Add the fresh basil, mix through and serve.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's a Dogs Health!



In today’s world of fast food, it seems our pets are suffering too. When I was a child, I never heard of dogs getting cancer, diabetes or heart trouble. With all the rubbish that goes into dogs food, it is no wonder they are getting sick.
In the UK dogs had a free rein to roam around the countryside and often joined their owners at the local pub.
Our family dog, Hugo was a bit of a rogue. He had masses of dark, curly fur and loved to roll in cows manure. He would then go and find my father who was waiting at the local station for the train to London. Hugo would saunter along the platform and flop down next to Dad who tried to push him away with his foot, muttering, “Hugo go home, naughty dog, go home!”
‘Is that your dog Michael?” Other train goers would ask while brandishing rather large hankies to hide the smell.
My father wished he could deny it and would later moan at Mum for letting Hugo loose.
“Patsy, we can’t have the dog causing trouble and embarrassing me on the platform.” However, nothing changed and Hugo continued his antics.
He also liked to follow me when I exercised my horse. Hugo would swim in people’s fishponds and bark at them while they were raking. their leaves. “Is this your bloody dog?” They would shout, struggling to stop Hugo making off with the rake.
‘No, I have never seen him before.” I would reply kicking the horse into a trot in the hopes of leaving him behind. Of course Hugo would gaily charge after me, tail wagging with glee.
Hugo was a wonderful dog and we spent many hours dressing him up in life jackets and riding hats, and pushing him around the garden in a pram and he took it all in stride.
I am not sure what Mum fed him but he lived to a ripe old age, high on happiness and freedom.

Now, things have changed and dogs seem to be getting more and more sick. I do feel it is very important to help our dogs by providing them with a healthy and nutritious diet. I cook all my dogs food from scratch with a base of whole grains, lentils, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables. Then I include raw meat, sardines, or eggs.  I understand that many of us don’t have the time to make homemade dog food.  However, we can add healthy ingredients to a good 'grain and potato free' kibble, especially chopped parsely and grated carrot, and use raw meat medallions that are readily available in good pet stores to ensure they are getting the best nutrition possible.

Paddington

Here are some foods, supplements and herbs (and their benefits) that you can easily include in your dogs diet:-

Squash or sweet potato puree – add a tablespoon to your dogs food. Helps firm up or loosen stools.  Works both ways!

Grated carrot or turnip – helps digestion, maintain healthy weight and keeps worms at bay.

Parsley, cilantro, kale, Chinese cabbage or other leafy veggies – in the wild, dogs naturally like to eat grasses. These leafy greens are an excellent source of nutrition and help immunity, add enzymes, strengthen digestion, and prevent arthritis. Parsley is especially high in B vitamins, Calcium and D. Cilantro is a great de-tox especially for metal pollutants.

You can put a sprig of parsley, cilantro or basil into the dogs drinking water. They like to have a more earthly taste hence the reason many dogs will drink from puddles or streams.

Raw ground pumpkin seeds – marvelous de-wormer. Also, good source of unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, amino acids and vitamins C, D, E, K and most of the Bs. They also contain calcium, phosphorous and potassium. – Give ½ teaspoon just before feeding or mix with food. 

Cod liver oil - great for joint health. skin and coat, heart, brain, energy, anti inflammatory, vision, growth, immune, bones, and muscles. Add 1/2 teaspoon to their food.


Oil of oreganonatural antibiotic, well-known antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb. Great for arthritis, asthma, burns, canine flu, cuts, diarrhea, digestion problem, fever, infection, inflammation, itching skin, jaundice, kennel cough, sinus congestion, skin conditions, sore muscles, vomiting, wounds, and yeast infections.
Give in capsule form or mix a few drops with olive oil, as they won’t like the taste of the oil. Can also be used topically to help with skin issues.

Dulse or kelp flakes – add a teaspoon to food. All around nutritional boost and nourishes the thyroid. Dulse contains exceptionally high levels of iodine (something many of us canines don’t get enough of!) as well as calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It has vitamins A, C, E, and most of the B vitamins, including B6 and B12. It also is loaded with a very rich protein.
Kelp contains loads of iodine but it also has many medicinal properties such as: balancing hypertension, relieving heart pain, healing bone damage, healing arthritis, preventing mineral deficiencies, treating high blood pressure, preventing heart disease, kidney infections, and cancer.

Coconut oilReduces risk of cancers, improves digestion, promotes natural thyroid function, and treats yeast and fungal infections. Relieves arthritis, supports healthy skin and coat. Can be applied topically for skin conditions, speed wound healing, deodorize, clear up rashes and disinfect cuts. Add a tablespoon to food.

Blackstrap molasses – helps with arthritis and has been known to reduce tumors in dogs. High in trace minerals and some of the B complex vitamins. Old-time breeders used blackstrap molasses together with seaweed or kelp in their dog's diet to keep the pigmentation of the nose, eye rims and mouth dark.

Apple cider vinegar –Add a capful to their drinking water for general health. It has many wonderful uses for dogs such as, alleviating allergies, arthritis, hot spots, and establishing correct pH balance. Prevents fleas, flies, ticks and bacteria, external parasites, ringworm, fungus, and helps staphylococcus, streptococcus, pneumococcus, mange, eye and ear infections, and kennel cough. When using topically, dilute with warm water first.

Rooibos or Green tea with lemon - a good tonic for dogs - you make up the tea and keep it in the fridge add a little to your dogs food each day. Rooibos tea can help strengthen the immune and clear up skin problems. Full of antioxidants and vitamin C.

Probiotic - a good probiotic will help with digestion and provide enzymes. Important if your dog has had antibiotics or you are changing his food.

By the way you don’t have to add all of these to your dogs diet everyday. By adding some or varying and including them on a regular basis will give you a happy, healthy dog. Remember the other ingredients, love, exercise and fun and you will truely have a best friend. Enjoy xx

Felix with his friend Eeyore