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 . . .

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.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spinach Salad with Mega-Oranges

Here's a great healthy salad to start. Invented by me for a potluck with what I had in the house.

The secret combination is orange juice + spinach, the olive oil adds a base note, and basil is always wonderful.

Heavenly Spinach Salad

Serves 4 to 6

1/2 bunch spinach

2 oranges

1/2 red onion


1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar 

1 Tb honey

6 leaves basil, minced

1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp mayonnaise (emulsifies the oil and vinegar)

1 or more slices bacon, crumbled


walnut bits (for a real treat, smoked or grilled)

Cut or tear spinach and slice oranges and red onion into bite-size pieces.

Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients, dress salad, and serve with garnish.