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. 

Friday, June 5, 2009


This is really a main dish. I'm featuring cool-season dishes as we head into summer.

This would be fabulous with an Italian Bruschetta,

and it was great with an Eagle Canyon Fume Blanc.

Hors d'oeuvre for 6 or a buffet platter for 8


Prepare: 1 to 3 medium small turnips, peeled if desired, shredded or grated.

Refrigerate overnight, covered.

Rub: 4 half-breasts of duck [of course, in a pinch, chicken could also be used]

with 1Tb walnut oil

Place skin side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Place in preheated 475-degree oven. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook 10 minutes more, until an instant reading meat thermometer registers 180 degrees. 

Thoroughly chill to allow the meat to become firm and the fat and juices to set - at least six hours, or overnight.


At cooking time:

Blanch in boiling water: 1/2 pound Chinese peas 

(or sugar snap peas, baby green beans, or blanched broccoli flowerets). Drain and rinse.

Remove bones from duck, cut into bitesize pieces.

In a bowl, add:

16+ sprigs fresh coriander, leaves only

salt and pepper

2 Tb red wine vinegar

4 Tb walnut oil 

(gives a special taste, but if necessary, can substitute peanut or light olive oil mixed with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil)

Top with:

2 Tb sesame seeds

6 sprigs fresh coriander

From the wonderful: American Charcuterie, by Victoria Wise (with my modifications). Buy it here:

American Charcuterie


I haven't given many main dishes, 

as I often just combine soup, salad, and/or vegetables to make a meal,

but here is an interesting one. 

Serves 3

Soak 1/2-pound package rice stick noodles 

in medium-hot water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Marinate: 1/4 pound bay shrimp for 5 minutes in:

1/4 Tb soy sauce

pinch of salt, pinch of sugar (or honey, or artificial sweetener)

Saute each shrimp separately in:

1 Tb each peanut oil

on medium heat in a nonstick wok or skillet. 

Similarly saute separately:

1/4 pound boneless chicken breasts, chopped

and a mixture of:

1-2 green onions, sliced

14 green hell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1/4 red hell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks 

Remove all of these as you finish cooking them, and drain. 

Heat another tablespoon of peanut oil in a heavy skillet over

medium heat. Add, aook for a minute or two:

1/2 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch of pepper


1 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable broth

and cook for just another half-minute.

Quickly add the rice stick noodles, drained.

Stir all lightly until well mixed. Combine with meat and

vegetables. Stir again and serve immediately.

Top with: 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

 (always add sesame oil at the very end, to keep its flavor)

Rich Red Beets - Salads

Everyone agrees beets are very very nutritious.

Here are some new creative ways to cook them.

Beet, Fennel, and Citrus Salad

1/2 pound beets

3 navel oranges or tangerines, limes

fennel bulb

scallion greens

Sherry vinegar

 olive oil

fennel seeds, ground fine

Another variation:

Beets with Oranges 

1 can (16 oz.) whole beets, drained

1 orange, peeled and cut up

Dressing: garlic, ginger; jalapeno chili; raspberry red wine vinegar; olive oil.

From Georgia: Beet Pkhali

1/2 lb. cooked beets

chopped fresh cilantro (lots)

chopped fresh parsley (lots)



dried summer savory

ground coriander

red wine vinegar 

And how about a beet, goat cheese, and walnut salad?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Innovative Flavor Basics: TASTES


WHILE MEDICAL SCIENCE recognizes four basic tastes—sweet, sour, bitter and salty—a fifth taste is known in many parts of the world. Some researchers believe the taste the Japanese call umami is universal, but largely ignored by Western science because there is no English word for it.

"The idea of four basic tastes came about long before people knew how tastes work," says Michael O'Mahony, professor of food science at the University of California at Davis. Convinced that inadequate descriptions have biased taste research, O'Mahony and research associate Rle Ishii traveled to Japan where umami is a commonly recognized taste.

Umami, most closely described as a meaty taste, has been traced to certain natural compounds found in sea kelp (kombu), dried bonito fish (katsuobushi) and shiitake mushrooms, foods commonly used in traditional Japanese cuisine.

The U.C. Davis researchers found that Japanese tasters are generally more adept than Americans at identifying both sweet and umami tastes. Once Americans learn about umami, however, they can easily recognize the distinctive taste. "Americans get the idea pretty quickly," O'Mahony said. "It's as though they've had the idea in their heads and just didn't have a name for


Substances linked to umami are compounds of amino acids, the naturally occurring acids used by plants and animals to build proteins. American consumers are well acquainted with the flavor-enhancing property of at least one umami substance, monosodium glutamate (MSG). [NOTE: not recommended for use!]

In fact, the flavor-enhancing properties of umami were recognized long ago by the Japanese. Monell taste researcher Gary Beauchamp speculates that traditional Japanese dishes came to rely on certain ingredients because their meaty taste helps counterbalance low levels of protein in the diet. He believes humans may be attracted to the amino acid compounds associated with umami because they signal the presence of protein in foods, in much the same way as sweet taste signals the presence of carbohydrates.

The survival value of having a taste preference for protein is quite clear. Protein is essential to life but not stored in the body, and without an adequate supply we would soon perish. Further research may confirm our innate protein hunger—and perhaps lead to a meatier version of the King's English.

From: Eating Well magazine

A great healthy recipe resource:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fried Rice - A Quickie - Special for Kids!

I've never met a kid who didn't love fried rice, and I still love it too!

It's super-quick to prepare, and especially nice if you have some

leftover rice from an earlier meal. Here's a spicy version.

For kids who

Spicy Thai Fried Rice with Shrimp

4 servings

2 Tb olive oil

1-1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

4 tsp minced seeded fresh jalapeno chiles (optional)

3 cups cooked rice, cold (dry, not sticky rice)

2 Tb soy sauce

2 Tb fish sauce

1-1/4 cups shelled, cooked tiny shrimp (canned are fine)

or diced cooked pork or chicken (about 8 oz.) (canned is fine)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Fry garlic, onions, and chiles in olive oil, and stir often until limp, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add rice, soy sauce, and fish sauce: reduce heat to medium and stir

often until ingredients are well coated and hot to touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add shrimp, cilantro, basil, and sesame oil; stir often until shrimp are hot to touch,

about 3 minutes.

That's it! Ready to serve!

Cool Cool Cucumbers!

The weather is warming up a bit. Here are some great cooling recipes for hot days:


1 cup walnuts

5 large   cucumbers,   peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

1/2 cup green onions or scallions (green tops included) finely minced

Juice of 1 lemon

1 quart buttermilk

1-1/2 cup plain, unflavored yogurt

1-1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill

1 teaspoon salt, if desired

1/4 teaspoon white pepper.


(a cooling salad to go with picante dishes)

 (from: Henry Chung's Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook - a fabulous cookbook!)

 2 ounces vermicelli OR Chinese bean noodles (for gluten-free, use rice noodles)

 1-2 cups finely shredded cucumber

 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked, finely-shredded chicken meat

 1 Tb sesame oil

 1 Tb minced scallions 


2 Tb sesame paste (or crunchy-style peanut butter)

2 Tb soy sauce (or fish sauce)

4 Tb vinegar

1 Tb hot red pepper oil (optional)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp or less sugar (optional)

1 Tb sesame oil

2 Tb vegetable oil

1 Tb finely minced fresh ginger

1 Tb finely minced garlic

1 Tb finely minced scallions

1 Tb white wine

1 tsp hot mustard (optional)

1/2 tsp or less salt

1 to 2 cups chicken broth

SUNBURST SALAD - great for a potluck!

1/3 cups cooked wheat berries

1 orange, halved crosswise

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

4 scallions, sliced

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup dried fruit (i.e. apricots and peaches)

1/4 cup nuts or seeds (i.e. pumpkin seeds), toasted

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. chopped fresh mint, or 1/3 tsp. dried

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon


1/2 pound lean veal, cut in small pieces

1/2 pound beets, cleaned and cut bitesize

6 large shrimps

1 cucumber, cut bitesize

2 cups plain, unflavored yogurt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallion tops

2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced


(from Temasek, a much-missed San Francisco restaurant)

How about CUCUMBER and MELON? (salad, or soup?)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Glory of Risotto - thank you Italy!

Risotto is very easy and quick to make, 

but there are a couple basic things you must do in order for it to be risotto:

1) Saute the rice in whatever oil you are using, with flavorings,

and, even if you don't do #1:

2) Cook your flavorings WITH the rice, from the beginning of the recipe.

Risotto is risotto because the flavorings are cooked into the rice.

Risotto is also typically thick and sticky when cooked.

I've read that it's not a good idea to stir the risotto rice while it's cooking.


All risottos start with:

chicken (or vegetable) broth (remove all the fat you can) 

dry white wine or dry sherry (optional but good)

butter &/or olive oil

[salt - optional; will intensify flavor, but better for your health if you use seasonings to do this instead]

Then you modify the seasonings to go with the other ingredients, i.e.:

Mushroom Risotto:

mushrooms (i.e. porcini, cepes &/or shiitake, portobello, and chanterelle), 

onion, garlic, parmesan cheese + basil

Thai Red Curry Risotto:

onion, ginger, garlic, paprika

Thai red curry paste

shiitake or other mushrooms

coconut milk


fresh cilantro

1 lime, cut into wedges

Pork and Persimmon Risotto:

pork tenderloin, fat trimmed, sliced thin or chopped

Fuyu persimmons 

minced shallots, ground allspice, pepper

crumbled blue cheese

minced parsley

Here's a combination I consider perfect:

caramelized artichokes, onions and scallops 

with accent of bacon bits, thyme and creamy goat cheese

(from Plumpjack, San Francisco)

Then you can get fancy:

Squash Blossom Risotto:

chopped onion and garlic


assorted summer squash, half grated, half diced

Parmesan cheese

squash blossoms

risotto cakes with squash blossoms, pine nuts, and Parmesan (from Zuni, San Francisco)

Asparagus, Salsify and Truffles Risotto (ingredients as named)

Roasted Alaskan halibut filet on Dungeness crab risotto with meyer lemon salsa (from Sea Salt, Berkeley)

Rabbit with watercress purée, miner’s lettuce, carrot risotto, fava beans (from Iron Chef winner Dan Siegel)

Rice cremosa: a risottolike cake baked with spinach, leek bouillon, and raisins, topped with paper-thin fried greens (from Lorca, San Francisco)

Risotto is good pan-grilled after the rice and ingredients are fully cooked by boiling.

Arancini - I may post this separately.

And here's a breakfast of risotto, if you have left-overs:

Risotto Cereal with Anise-Coriander Sugar and Milk

Friday, May 15, 2009

Coconuts and Fish or Seafood

A lot of great recipes grow from this combination, especially in Southeast Asia


4 to 5 servings

1/4 pound scallops

1/4 pound firm white fish, skinned, boned and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 medium onion, cut into 1-inch cubes, blanched 5 minutes and drained

1/4 cup minced green onion

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and/or lime juice

1/3 cup coconut milk (part of this could be yogurt  or kefir)

14-1 large garlic clove, quartered (depending how much you like garlic)

1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

A dozen cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4-1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4-1/2 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (garnish)


Substitute salmon, seabass, clams and mussels (for the scallops and fish),



water chestnuts, 


peanuts, or the peanut -topping below.

PEANUT SAUCE (topping):

1-1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 tsp. tamarind sauce

2 tsp. fish sauce (nam pla)

2 tsp. sweet soy sauce 

1 stalk lemongrass, (top white part only) cut into 1/8 inch thick pieces

3 cloves garlic

1 cup coconut milk

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 pieces shallot

1 Tbsp. veg. oil

Just great over a favorite rice combination!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Innovative Flavor Basics: RICE

I've fallen in love with rice. Well, I always liked it, but for most of my life, 
it was limited to white or brown. Now that I am keeping my gluten-level way down,

I've poked around in my local markets, and found a wealth of riches.

Then, one day, I thought, hey, how about combining some of these new flavors?

Since then I've found several combinations I use over and over, 

always leaving room for continued experimenting.

Here are some great combinations:

A great nutty combo: 

1) Thai red rice, rye berries,  and quinoa (plus a little millet, if handy.)

(Alter Eco Fair Trade Ruby Red Jasmine or Coral Red Jasmine are both great.)

Rye does have a bit of gluten, but it's good for you in other ways 

(supposed to help with plaque buildup on teeth), so I mix in a bit. 

Quinoa adds protein.

2) Japonica Black Rice, brown rice, red quinoa, maybe some amaranth.

I'm in love with black rice. A really hearty flavor.

I think it is from Lundberg.

3) Riso Bello makes a great risotto mixture of rice with spelt and barley.

The secret of risotto is to add flavors (broth, spices) WHILE cooking.

I'll post a risotto recipe in a bit.

4) If I'm in  a hurry, or if making a soup, I like Japanese Sushi rice. 

It cooks up quick, and I like the sticky texture.

UPDATE: I've found another tasty combination:

- 1/2 cup risotto rice

- 1/3 cup Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend (with various beans) (or just more rice)

- Top off to total 1 cup with red quinoa

Cook in 1 cup water and 1 cup chicken (or vegetarian equivalent) broth.

Maybe add green onions.

When cooked, add:

1/2 can green peas (with the water or without)

1/2 can coconut milk

Season with (this is the secret): apple juice, to taste - maybe 1/4 cup

Sprinkling of Knorr Tamarind Soup Base Mix (Philippine: Sabaw ng Sinigang sa Sampalok)

     or some other sour taste

Monday, May 11, 2009

Feta Pasta and Avocado Cream Soup

Here's a wonderful, early summer "cooling" dinner, to go with the salad.

Serves 4

Feta Pasta

6 oz Japanese somen (thin) noodles, or 12 oz egg noodles [for gluten-free: rice noodles]

8 oz Greek or Italian feta cheese

3 Tb fresh lemon juice

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 cup olive oil

2 Tb wine vinegar

1 Tb pepper

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

8 green onions, chopped

2 oranges, peeled and sectioned

Combine all ingredients except noodles in a blender

and puree. Cook noodles in about 3 quarts of water.

Pour puree over, mix, and serve.

Sopa de Aguacate/Avocado Cream Soup

2 avocados, peeled

3/4 cup sour cream or heavy cream

3 cups chicken broth (or 15 oz can + 1 cup water)

1/4 cup dry sherry

/2 tsp pepper

1 or 2 tortillas, quartered and fried until crisp [omit for gluten-free]

Puree the avocados and cream in a blender. Bring

broth to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and stir in avocado

puree. Add sherry and pepper.

Top with tortilla pieces or avocado slices. Serve warm,

or refrigerate until cold.