• 23Jan

    My new little niece had her very first birthday party on Sunday. Her actual birthday is January 25th. Little R is smart – she already knows what presents are…her favorite seemed to be the soft teething toy shaped like a foot. We liked that one too :)! The other reason she is so smart is she loved my Chinese Five Spice Roasted Chicken. Wow, that’s smart because Five Spice hails from her birthplace in Sichuan province! There are many recipes for five spice and most people just go to the store and buy a jar. For those of you who are industrious – the five spices are star anise, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, and sichuan pepper (or black pepper if you can’t find the sichuan peppercorns aka prickly ash). Some recipes also include licorice root and/or cloves…so really, that makes it “Five Spices, More or Less” 😉

    R’s mom thinks it would be fun if I dropped a Five Spice Chicken off every week. Myself, I thought it would be more fun to post the recipe on my blog. Here it is:

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Chinese Five (more or less) Spice Chicken

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    1 whole chicken — 4-5 lb; organic
    *MARINADE*
    1/4 cup yogurt — whole milk
    2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine — or dry sherry
    1 tablespoon sea salt
    1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
    1 tablespoon peanut oil

    Preheat oven to 375F

    Whisk together marinade ingredients.

    Rub chicken inside and out with marinade and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

    Roast in a 375F oven for 45-55 minutes or until done. For those who like poking their chickens with a meat thermometer – go for 170F in the thickest part of the thigh.

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  • 14Jan

    There is a great deal of research and hence controversy regarding the health benefits -or not- of soy and soy products. The main concerns are that soy is high in phytoestrogens and compounds that inhibit the absorption of nutrients by our body. Not only that, but many of the soy products typically consumed by consumers these days are highly processed and chock full of nasty food additives.

    So what’s so bad about phytoestrogens? Well, hard to believe for some, but our bodies are finely tuned organisms controlled by an array of hormones. Tinkering with our body’s hormone balance by even amounts so small to imagine can throw this delicate balance off. This is especially true for infants and children. Studies have shown girls experience puberty at a much younger age these days…could the increase of soy in the American diet be responsible?

    Besides, soy is NOT the most nutritious food on earth as the soy industry and soy industry lobbied government organizations would have you believe. The B vitamins are not in a form absorbable by humans and in fact soy contains anti-nutrients which inhibit the absorption of vital nutrients.

    And, those soy burgers, dogs, and other meat substitutes are the highly processed waste product from the soy oil industry – mostly GMO by the way. In order to make the leftover soy oil sludge edible it must be put through a maze of high pressure chemical mastication and de-odorization to give it a ‘nice’ texture and ‘clean’ palate to then add a chemical lab inventory of artifical flavors, colors and preservatives. Yum!

    Ok, so that said, not all soy is bad. The age old fermentation process actually transforms soy into a healthful addition to a well balanced diet. What’s on the good list? Any non-GMO organic miso, tamari/soy sauce, natto, Chinese fermented bean curd, and tempeh. Tofu doesn’t fall into the fermented category. When studies cite Asian diets as high in soy – well, it’s a bit of a stretch. While an Asian may have soy products everyday – it’s usually only a few tablespoons of a fermented soy product or occasionally some tofu but again only a small amount.

    What’s a soy lovin person to do? Well, as an adult, I’d enjoy the good list of soy products with some tofu on occasion and even some homemade soy milk every now and then.If I had a baby or kid, I’d avoid giving too much of the good soy – maybe a few times a month if that. And for everyone, avoid like the plague, any overly processed soy-like ‘fake’ meat products, commercial soy milks and anything with soy oil.

    I must admit I love soy milk – it’s in my blood. BUT not the commercial stuff you find today in the typical grocer. That stuff has all kinds of additives to give it a ‘creamy’ almost dairy milk like consistency, sweeteners, and bad bad bad forms of calcium and deadly D2. BTW, The good form of vitamin D is D3.

    When I was in China, a typical breakfast included a hot bowl of freshly made soy milk. I enjoyed that treat so much that I figured I could make my own healthy version. After a bit of research, I found a basic recipe in Grace Young’s The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen. I made one addition to her recipe of adding lemon juice (or any acid) during the soaking phase to neutralize some of the anti-nutrients (phytates). So when I want to enjoy some soy milk, I whip up a batch of my own from organic, non-GMO soybeans. Here’s the recipe:

    SOY MILK

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–

    1/2 cup soybeans, dried (approx. 3 oz.wt.)

    2 tablespoons lemon juice — or vinegar

    lots of filtered water

    Wash soy beans well. Soak beans with lemon juice or vinegar and twice as much water as beans for approximately 24 hours in the refrigerator.

    Rinse and discard any loose skins.

    Put beans in a 3 to 4 quart sauce pot with at least twice as much water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 1 hour or until beans are soft. Alternately, you may use a pressure cooker on high for 10 minutes.

    Cool to a temperature you can work with. Drain beans BUT reserve liquid. Put beans in a food processor or blender with enough of the cooking liquid to puree. Puree until very smooth like the consistency of baby food.

    In a 4 quart sauce pot bring remaining reserved cooking liquid and enough filtered water to bring amount up to 4 1/2 cups to a boil. Stir in the soybean paste. Bring back up to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
    Remove from heat and cool. Strain through a very fine mesh sieve or muslin cloth. Press to extract as much milk out as possible. Toss solids or put into your compost.

    Pour soy milk into a clean container and refrigerate.

    To serve: shake bottle. You may drink hot or cold with a little sweetener or sea salt as desired. Soy milk will keep for about 4 – 5 days in the refrigerator.

    Source: Adapted from “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen” by Grace Young

    Yield: “1 quart”

    For more info on the soy controversy, read The Whole Soy Story by Dr. Kaayla Daniels or visit the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

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  • 12Jan

    I’ve been having great fun teaching a few classes at a local culinary school that specializes in Natural Chefdom. No, that’s not cooking in the raw! 😉

    One of the recipes from the last class was so delicious I decided to post it here. Not only is it really tasty but healthy and I suspect a few of those little rug rats out there might enjoy it too (maybe toned down on the ginger and tabasco…). Serve with a colorful tray of your favorite veggies like: carrots, celery, radishes, fennel, bell peppers, broccoli, or cauliflower.

    Here’s the recipe:

    Tangy Thai Dip

    Serving Size : 10

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method

    ——– ———— ——————————–

    2 tablespoons scallions — sliced

    2 tablespoons garlic — chopped

    1 tablespoon fresh ginger — minced

    2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce — add more, if desired

    3 tablespoons roasted almond butter

    2 tablespoons brown rice syrup — or light honey

    15 ounces garbanzo beans — canned organic, drained

    3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

    1/2 teaspoon Tabasco — more or less to taste

    2 tablespoons sesame gomasio*

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    Add all ingredients except gomasio and sea salt into
    food processor or blender and blend until very smooth.

    Add gomasio and sea salt and blend for a few more seconds to incorporate.

    Adjust seasonings to taste.

    * or 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds can be toasted in a skillet until
    seeds pop and are brown in color. Remove seeds and crush with pestle
    and mortar.

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  • 07Jan

    When I decided to become a chef I was pursuing a life long dream and never really thought about the consequences. No, no, I knew about the long hours and the low pay…it’s the other stuff.

    For instance, I didn’t realize that folks who had been cooking all their lives (and very well at that) suddenly in your presence have no idea how to make, say, toast. This person might walk up to me in their own kitchen waving a slice of bread in their hand and ask, “Gosh, I really feel like some toast. How do I make toast?” With a toaster? My other favorite question is “How long do you…?” Fill in the blank with roast, boil, steam, bake any food. I mean, if it was something out of the ordinary or a new recipe I can understand, but usually these are everyday foods this person has been cooking themselves for years with great success.

    This is the worst of the consequences of being a chef…rarely being invited to someone’s house for a homecooked meal. Not many people will cook for a chef! Why? I mean, we’re just like the rest of the hungry folks out there. We appreciate being treated to a lovingly cooked meal. It’s not like we’re gasp…restaurant critics! Now then I would be worried but most chef’s I know enjoy all manner of food from fancy to simply prepared meals.

    In fact, this Friday, P and I were invited to A and J’s for a simple dinner. A, who did the cooking enjoyed making her herb roasted chicken with roasted onions and an abundonza salad. We thoroughly enjoyed eating every morsel and sitting down with good friends chatting about life. J was by all accounts nervous (no, frantic) at the prospect of having me over for dinner and was wishing we were going out. But see, those fears were totally unfounded :)

    So, make your favorite chef’s day and invite her or him over for a home-cooked meal.

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