Innovative Gourmet Flavor Combinations

Welcome! I've always enjoyed unusual flavor combinations. I am committed to continuing this pleasure, while eating healthy. I hope this blog will allow me to share ideas for eating healthy without losing the excitement of innovative recipes.

I am a follower of the diet plan of Dr. Eric Berg, which in my case means gluten-free, alkaline, low-fat; my health and figure have improved vastly with this. This also fits with raw-food, vegetarian, and Weston Price (nutrient-dense), D'Adamo's Eat Right For Your Type, the Perricone Weightloss Diet, and the proportions follow Barry Sears's 40-30-30 Zone Diet. Organic, ecologic, and local-eating are also guiding principles. (Interesting how they all overlap.)

But looking around the Net, and in books, a lot of what's offered for "gluten-free" eating is versions of baked goods, and imitations of wheat dishes like pizza and burritos. You won't find that here. This site will present a complete re-thinking of how to be "gluten-free".

And followers of chef Michael Roberts and khymos, as well as lovers of Japanese creativeness (as in Iron Chef) should also find gourmet ideas here. The recipes will not just echo American cooking, but present new combinations.

Some of the reasons for this way of eating are: autism, perhaps aspergers, "celiac disease", obesity, perhaps cancer and who knows what else. You won't find the word "disease" used here though. As D'Adamo explains, a large part of the world's population (mostly with "O-blood type") never got the genes to adapt to eating the new foods of wheat, etc that came into the diet during the Neolithic. So don't call it a disease! We are actually an older human type. We're not sick; we just don't have that new-fangled adaption that some folks have. And looking into traditional diets shows that much of the world did not have wheat until very recently, and got along just fine. I know I'm eating quite well. I don't miss gluten at all.

Enough! Welcome to my kitchen . . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Creamed Orange Soup

And here is a dish that would make a very nice contrast to both Spanish and Portuguese seafood dishes:


6 servings

7 ounces carrots, peeled and sliced

1/2 inch thick

41/3 cups chicken broth

41/3 cups fresh orange juice

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3 whole cloves


Finely grated orange peel

Boil carrots in enough water to cover in heavy large saucepan 10 minutes. Drain well. Add remaining ingredients except salt and orange peel and simmer until carrors arc very tender, about 30 minutes. Strain soup into another heavy large saucepan, pressing on solids with back of spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Bring soup to boil. Reduce hear and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each with finely grated orange peel and serve.

Ameijoas na Cataplana - from Portugal

Spanish cooking is innovative, although I'd still vote Japan, Italy, and Portugal at the top, so I have to add a scrumptious Portuguese dish:

Ameijoas na Cataplana


To serve 4 as a main course, 6 as a first course

A very quick dish to make.

1/2 pound linguica sausage or substitute chonzo or other garlic-seasoned smoked pork sausage

1/2 cup olive oil  

4 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced 

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon crushed hot dried red pepper 

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound presunto ham, finely chopped, or substitute prosciutto or other lean smoked ham

2 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped 

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

2 small bay leaves, crumbled

36 small hard-shelled clams, washed and thoroughly scrubbed - or two 10-ounce cans of clams

With a small, sharp knife, remove the casings of the sausages. Crumble the meat coarsely and drop it into a sieve. Plunge the sieve into a pan ot boiling water and boil briskly for 1 minute. Then spread the sausage meat out on a double thickness of paper towels to drain.

In a heavy 12-inch skillet or similar-sized casserole, heat the olive oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the onions and, stirring frequently, cook for 5 minutes, or until they are soft and transparent but not brown. Add the paprika, red pepper and a liberal grinding of black pepper and cook for a minute or two. Then add the sausage meat, ham. tomatoes, parsley, wine, garlic and bay leaves, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook briskly until most of the liquid in the pan evaporates.

Arrange the clams hinged side down over the meat and tomato mixture, cover the skillet tightly and cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, or until all the clams open. Discard any that remain closed. To serve, transfer the clams to heated soup plates and ladle the sauce over them.

This dish is better the longer it sits, and the next day.

Spanish special

I recently ate at a new-ish restaurant, Barlata, which specializes in Spanish dishes. The tastes were fabulous.

I had the three gazpachos: salmorejo/ ajoblanco & gazpacho, which were brought in small tall glasses.

Then the seafood paella, which was split with my friend.

Almost too full already, we decided to split one more dish, and it turned out to be delicious: lata de chipirones. which is baby squid stuffed with fennel sausage ink sauce, cooked in a tin.

And we finished by splitting the Crema de Carajillo: espresso custard with brandy foam and white chocolate churrito

Amazing tastes! I will be going back, as there was more on the menu that was new and interesting

My mother used to make Squid en su Tinta, so I've always liked it, although I hadn't had it in ages, but adding fennel sausage was a new and delicious combination. So in honor of this great meal, here is a recipe. I know, it sounds gross to most Americans, but the taste is earthy, just slightly salty, and not at all gross, just a good compliment to the squid. Well, if you aren't interested in unusual tastes, don't bother reading this blog.

Calamares en su Tinta - SQUID IN ITS OWN INK

Serves 4 to 6

3 pounds small fresh whole squid with ink sacs

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (i.e. 1 large clove or more)

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley - fresh would be very nice

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably treshly grated (YES!)

salt and black pepper

bay leaf

maybe tomatoes, but be careful not to overwhelm the taste

Clean the squid (that's another whole technique beyond this entry), reserving the ink sacs in a small fine sieve set over a bowl. (You may be able to get your fish counter to do some of this for you.)

Dip the squid in salt and flour (for gluten-free, use rice flour). I think you could leave this step out.

Stir-fry quickly in olive oil over high heat: squid, onions, garlic and parsley for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring. Add seasonings, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the ink sacs in the sieve with the back of a spoon and press out as much of the ink as possible. Pour the water over the sacs and mash again to extract any remaining ink. With a whisk beat the flour into the ink and continue to beat until smooth. One recipe adds 1 glass of white wine at this point, which sounds like it would be very good.

Pour the ink over the squid mixture and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to its lowest point, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, without removing the cover, let the squid rest for about 5 minutes before serving. 

Nice over rice, unseasoned, as a balance to the rich taste of the sauce and seasonings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beet Soup With Greens, Apple Salad, and Cilantro-Walnut Pesto

The soup:

15 medium beets, trimmed; greens reserved

10 cups beef broth (see recipe)

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1. To make the soup, place beets and broth in a large pot. Bring to a

boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain,

reserving broth. When cool enough to handle, slip skins off beets. Set

aside 2 beets. Place half of the remaining beets in a food processor.

Measure broth and add enough water, if necessary, to make 9 cups.

Add half of broth to beets and puree until smooth. Repeat with remaining beets and broth. Combine batches and stir in salt and pepper. Reheat before serving and stir in lemon juice and more salt, if needed.

The beet greens:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Beet greens (see above), stemmed and coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2. To make the beet greens, heat 1-1/2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large

skillet over medium heat. Add the beet greens and saute for 10 minutes.

Add 1/3 cup of water, cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes more. Coarsely grate the reserved beets and stir into the greens with 1-1/2 teaspoons of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Set aside.

The apple salad:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

1-1/2 teaspoons walnut oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Stir in the apple, walnut oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Set aside.

The pesto:

3 cups cilantro leaves

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4. Place the cilantro, walnuts and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Sour cream.

5. Place the beet green mixture, the apple mixture, the pesto and the sour cream in separate bowls. Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve, passing the condiments separately.

Yield: Six servings. •

My Prize-Winning "Most Unusual" Mexican-African Chili

 hamburger - 1/2 lb (or sausage, or any other meat you prefer)

 onion -  1/2

 garlic - 3-4 BIG + garlic power

 pinto beans - 1 can

 red pepper seeds  - about a tsp

 chili  - 1 1/2 TB

 cumin   1 tsp (or more)(gives curry-ish flavor)


 nutmeg  -  FRESH GROUND (I am a nut for fresh ground nutmeg!)

 red wine  -  as needed to keep the soupy consistency, probably about 1 cup

 vinegar  -  ditto, it also makes the beans taste good


 worcestershire sauce - a bunch, to taste

 italian dressing


 the "unusual" ingredients:

 cilantro  - half a bunch at least

 nopalitos  (prickly pear cactus, sabra) - preserved in a bottle, from a Mexican tienda)

 tomatillos - from my garden

 bell pepper


 and the "secret" ingredient: 

 achiote or annatto seeds, from African and Brazilian cooking

 (fabulous in Feijoado Black Beans) - you heat the beans in oil,

 which turns red as the flavor dissolves into it, then USE THE OIL ONLY 

(strain the seeds out, they're hard and unchewable).

 This stuff makes beans taste great, a West African secret.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sesame by any other name . . .

Eating at Tachibana Restaurant reminded me of the wonderful Japanese way with spinach, called "goma ae". 

Cooked spinach is mixed with sesame paste (you can use tehina), and just a hint of something sweet.

So, in honor of that creativity, here are some other interesting things to do with tehina (sesame paste)

and/or sesame seeds, another very healthy food, but which is often used in too-predictable ways.

Toasted Sesame Cheese Soup: cheddar cheese + milk + dry mustard + cayenne + beer + toasted sesame.

From Singapore Restaurant: Achar - pickled green beans, cucumber, carrots, cabbage in a sesame seed sauce.

Artichoke with sesame aioli.

An appetizer: grilled eggplant agri-dulce with sauce of chilies, garlic, just a bit of honey and nuoc nam + black sesame seeds (from the much-missed Sentosa Restaurant).

Spicy Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish, Scallions, and Sesame Sauce (watch the salt) (from the very sorely-missed Xanadu Restaurant).

Crispy Sesame Fish Slices with Persimmon Dipping Sauce - from The China Moon cookbook, 

which can be purchased here: China Moon Cookbook

Ripe mango slices sprinkled with black sesame seeds, fanned-out between seared scallops + baby greens (from San Francisco's House Restaurant).

Asian-stye cabbage salad: rice noodles, almonds, sesame seeds and/or paste, cabbage (and can add chicken, shrimp or beef).

Noodles with Curry, Scallops, and Chives

3/4 pound noodles (use rice noodles for gluten-free)

3/4 pound large scallops

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup yellow curry paste

2 cups Chinese chives or green onions, cut bitesize

1/3 cup roasted peanuts

Sesame oil

pinch of sugar?

Fresh lime slices 

Cilantro (coriander) sprigs 

A variation of: Chef Sun Pui Wong's Prize-Winning Pineapple Chicken Salad

1   cup fresh cucumber slices

3/4 cup shredded carrots

1   cup crushed pineapple

1/2  cup cooked and shredded chicken


4 Tbsp lightly-toasted sesame seeds (and/or sesame paste)

1   cup soy sauce

1   cup vinegar

1   cup sesame oil

2   Tb dry mustard, mixed with water

3   Tb smooth peanut butter or sesame paste

Some kind of sweetener

Some of my own creations:

A Cabbage Slaw: chicken, black sesame seeds, sesame oil, ginger, sauerkraut

+ pear (bottled)? + peanut butter? + coriander? + almonds?

+ a side of sweet beets with yogurt

Black and White Chicken with Sesame Slaw: rice vinegar, cilantro, sesame oil, soy sauce, mustard, black & white sesame seeds, radicchio leaves, cabbage.

Japanese-style Chicken Salad: oil, almonds, sesame seeds, cooked rice noodles, sliced cooked chicken, green cabbage, green onions. Dressing: oil, rice vinegar, pinch of sugar, pepper

Also see the HUNAN CHICKEN AND CUCUMBER SALAD posted earlier.

Hei Zhi Ma (Chinese) /  Ajonholi Til (Hindu) / bijan (Malay) / di la (Thai)

Burmese Ginger Salad

I recently ate at Tachibana Japanese Restaurant and Nan Yang Burmese Restaurant, and it reminded me again how interesting both types of cuisine are.

When Nan Yang became the first restaurant in the Bay area (and possibly the United States) to serve Burmese food, in 1986, it sent a shock wave through the gourmet community. Burmese specialties are normally not even available in Burma, since they are cooked during only in the home or during festival seasons, when temporary booths serving these dishes are set up along the roads.

The ingredient combinations are unusual to western tastes, and very interesting, and the ingredients are very healthy!

(I can't promise this is exactly how Nan Yang creates their wonderful salad, but it seems to be close.)

Burmese Ginger Salad (Gin Dok, or Jin Thoke)

Makes 6 first-course servings.

3/4 cup yellow or green split peas

3/4 cup blanched (skinned) raw peanuts

3/4 cup slivered fresh ginger 

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

2 Tb sesame seed

1/3 cup salad oil

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1-1/2 Tb fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam) or soy sauce

1-1/2 cups finely shredded red or green cabbage

1 or 2 fresh jalapeno chilies, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise

1/3 cup slivered onion

3 Tb small dried shrimp; whirl in a blender until powdered

2 limes or 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Place peas and peanuts in separate small bowls and cover with warm water; let stand at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Drain well and pat dry. 

Also, place ginger and vinegar in a small bowl, then cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 2 days; drain and discard vinegar.

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir coconut often until golden, about 8 minutes; pour out and set aside.

Repeat with sesame seed, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add oil to pan. When oil is hot, add split peas and stir often until deep golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with peanuts, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add garlic to oil in pan and cook, stirring often, until golden, 1 to 3 minutes. Lift from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Let oil cool. Stir fish sauce into oil; set aside. (At this point, you can cover coconut, sesame, peas, peanuts, garlic, and oil mixture separately; store at room temperature up to 1 week.)

On a platter, arrange ginger, coconut, sesame, peas, peanuts, garlic, cabbage, chilies, onion, and shrimp in separate piles. At Nan Yang, this is beautifully done, with the cabbage in the center, and all the ingredients in a circle around that.

Pour oil mixture over salad, squeeze limes on top, and mix ingredients.