Times flies and it seems like it was only weeks ago that I highlighted foods for late summer, but time marches on and it is definitely time to focus on autumn foods that are considered most appropriate for nourishing and balancing the body for optimum health. As in the other seasons, take your cue from what is newly harvested and in the market: Apples, pears, squashes, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, and other forms of cruciferous vegetables are plentiful. Since the weather has definitely become colder, we are craving warm soups and stews. Chinese herbalists also recommend pungent and spicy foods that are “warming” to the body as well as whole grains like brown rice, couscous, and quinoa.
This Curried Coconut Stew is just right for this time of year. For this recipe, I use tofu, carrots, green beans, and butternut squash, but don’t hesitate to add or substitute sweet potato and other types of squash such as acorn and delicata. Serve it with a whole grain on the side and you have a filling, sumptuous meal that will satisfy even the carnivores.
Curry Coconut Stew with Fresh Herbs 6 servings
1 square extra-firm tofu, about ¾ pound) cut horizontally into 1-inch slabs
2 medium red onions, peeled, ends trimmed and cut into small dice, about 3 cups
1 ¼ pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded, (or one12-ounce package)
½ pound (or 12-ounce bag) trimmed green beans, cut on the diagonal in half
2 ½-inch slices fresh ginger, peeled, about the size of a quarter
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Sauce (combine all in a small bowl):
1 ½ cans l(13.5 ounces each) light unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish or soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 pound baby carrots
½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves (optional)
1. Wrap the slabs of tofu in paper towels and set a heavy weight, such as a heavy skillet, on top and let stand 15 minutes to remove excess water. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Cut the butternut squash into 1 ½-inch squares.
2. Drop the Curry Seasonings into the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a metal blade while the machine is running. Turn the machine on and off to chop the seasonings evenly and mince to a coarse powder.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole or a Dutch oven over medium low heat until very hot, about 20 seconds. Add the Curry Seasonings and diced onions and cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat and stirring with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes until the onion is tender and the seasonings are fragrant. Add the Sauce and bring to a boil. Add the tofu, c, squash, and carrots and stir to coat the vegetables with the sauce. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is al dente.
4. Add the green beans and stir. Continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the green beans are tender. Sprinkle in the fresh basil (if using) and toss lightly for a few seconds to coat. Scoop into a serving dish or serve from the casserole with rice or another whole grain.]]>
The Chinese believe that there are foods that correspond to each season, nourishing the body for optimum health. But unlike the western calendar, they also believe that there is another season besides summer, autumn, winter, and spring. And that is precisely the time of year we are enjoying right now which is “late summer”.
Late summer is the transitional time between summer and fall. It is the beginning of harvest time. Ripe fruits are falling to the ground and vegetables like squash and pumpkin are growing big and plump. Since Asian cooks believe that the best foods that can be eaten are freshly picked or killed it makes sense that this is the time of year to feast on apples, tomatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. We can still eat lightly, but as the weather turns colder, it’s time to strengthen the body with slightly heavier and more “yang’ or heating, robust foods that will “warm” the body. In addition to seasonal vegetables, whole grains such as millet, barley and chickpeas are recommended. Pungent herbs such as basil, mint, and cilantro, plus curry, hoisin and black bean sauce not only provide flavor, but they protect the body against the seasonal dampness.
Accordingly, I like to make this Saucy Garlic-Roasted Pork with Broccoli Slaw. (See the recipe below.) In this particular version, I use roasted pork (tenderloin or center-cut pork loin), but if you aren’t very fond of pork, you can easily substitute, chicken breasts, scallops, or tofu and revise the cooking times accordingly. Like most of the other recipes in Simple Asian Meals, this dish is a meal by itself. There are angel hair noodles on the bottom (Once again feel free to substitute another type of noodle including whole wheat, spinach, rice, soba, etc.) with shredded vegetables on top. Using shredded broccoli slaw cuts the preparation time and unlike the cabbage in cole slaw mixes, broccoli remains crisp-tender even after stir-frying. I like to remove the raw flavor by briefly blanching the broccoli slaw for 30 seconds in boiling water, refresh it in cold water, it is delicious with the pungent, garlicy hoisin sauce. Enjoy!!!
Saucy Garlic-Roasted Pork with Broccoli Slaw 4 to 6 Servings
1 ½ pounds boneless pork tenderloin or center-cut pork loin, trimmed fo fat and gristle
Marinade/Sauce: (mix together in a bowl)
¾ cup hoisin sauce
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
½ cup water
1 bag (9 ounces) shredded broccoli slaw (3 ½ cups)
1 ½ cups grated carrots
½ pound angel hair pasta
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.
2. Put the trimmed pork in a bowl. Spoon one-third of the Marinade over the pork and spread to cover the surface. Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and set aside. Place the pork and its marinade in the prepared pan and roast, periodically spooning the marinade on top, for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove and let cool slightly. Cut across the grain, into thin slices. Pour the remaining marinade/sauce into a small saucepan and set aside.
3. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the broccoli slaw and shredded carrots and blanch briefly for 40 seconds. Remove with a handled strainer and place in a colander. Refresh under cold, running water, and drain again. Bring the water back to a boil again and add the noodles. Cook a bit less than the package instructions indicate, until al dente. Drain the noodles into a colander and rinse under cold, running water. Drain again and using kitchen shears, cut into 4-6-inch lengths. Toss the noodles with the toasted sesame oil and arrange on a deep serving platter or in a bowl, leaving a slight well in the center.
4. Bring the remaining marinade/sauce mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Keep warm in the saucepan.
5. Arrange the broccoli slaw and carrots in separate piles over the noodles, reserving a few of the shredded carrots to garnish. Place the slices of roasted pork in the center and drizzle a bit of the warm sauce over the slices. Sprinkle the top with the reserved shredded carrots and pour the remaining sauce in a bowl to serve. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
© Copyright Nina Simonds 2014]]>
It’s once again that time of year when planning dinner or any meal is a pleasure as local farmer’s markets shelves are heaped with freshly-picked fruits and vegetables. I await this time with anticipation since I like to keep things simple and it’s the easiest time to do that- especially if your diet is leaning towards an emphasis on vegetables, which more and more people are doing these days.
We started learning about the different vitamins in fruits and vegetables many years ago, but in the early eighties researchers started positively identifying other health-giving properties such as phytonutrients and their link towards helping to maintain good health and prevent disease. For my cookbook, Spices of Life, I interviewed Dr. David Heber, who was then on the cutting edge of this research. Dr. Heber was one of the first nutritionists who focused on “eating the rainbow” an eating plan which incorporates the seven different color groups of fruits and vegetables that can protect our genes, vision, and heart, reduce inflammation in the body, and help prevent common forms of cancer.
Heber contended that the majority of the most common diseases are caused by the imbalance between our modern diet and our genes. By eating a variety of the specified fruits and vegetables, we can strengthen our immune systems, reduce the risk of common disease, increase our longevity, and lose weight. At the same time other researchers were also confirming this link and these days, most doctors and nutritionists agree.
Listed below is a simple chart that gives a detailed breakdown of each color group associated with the varieties of fruits and vegetables with their specific health- giving benefits. If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating topic as well as many different ways to select and prepare these foods so that you can maximize your intake of these health-giving phytonutrients, a must-read is Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health and you can visit her website wwweatwild.com.
3 English seedless cucumbers or 10 Kirby cucumbers, rinsed and drained
For the dressing, mixed together:
2 ¼ teaspoons salt
¾ cup Japanese rice vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 ½ pounds salmon fillets, skin on
For the marinade, mixed together:
3 tablespoons sweet, white miso (miso shiro) or to taste
3 tablespoons mirin (sweetened rice wine) or 3 tablespoons sake mixed with 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced scallion greens
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 to 3 heads butter or Boston lettuce, cores trimmed, leaves separated, pressed to flatten, rinsed, drained and arranged in layers around the rim of a serving platter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
© Copyright Nina Simonds 2000]]>
Let’s face it: We all hope to live a long, healthy life and while there are no surefire guarantees, there are a few ways we can improve our chances. Accordingly, we consulted with one of the most quoted and highly- respected experts in the field: Dr. Walter Willett, Chairman of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health and author of the best-selling “Eat Drink and Be Healthy” .
Walter not only gave us some great tips, he introduced us to the newly-released “ HSPH Healthy Eating Plate”, a VAST improvement over the USDA Plate, which according to Walter, has some SERIOUS flaws. The HSPH Eating Plate is not only more explicit, it defines the best foods that correspond to each portion of the plate and corrects a number of “errors” of the USDA Plate. (Once again, as with the USDA Pyramid, concessions were made to the dairy industry as well as other mega, agri-business conglomerates.)
To make it even more accessible, I selected a few easy and delicious recipes from my new book, Simple Asian Meals that correspond to each section of the HSPH plate so you can recreate the meal in your home. (Feel free to use the recipes as a base for inspiration, substituting seasonal vegetables and other whole grains. Walter not only approved, but he gave the dishes a big “thumb’s up”. So here’s wishing you a healthy, happy, and pleasurable meal or two.
For the uninitiated, ” Spoonful of Ginger” took 7 years to research and write. After many years of being fascinated with the concept of ” food as medicine”, I undertook the project to explore the topic in depth. I traveled all over the world, seeking out “food as medicine” healers, doctors, and cooks. This book chronicles my travels and profiles those people. I, also, compiled a treasury of some of my favorite, delicious, and health-giving recipes, many of which were adapted from cooks and healers.
To celebrate, we are launching a series of videos that offer viewers a “taste” of the food in the book. So here is a wonderful Spicy Stir – Fried Chicken with Vegetables.
1 teaspoon virgin olive oil
2 ½ tablespoons rice wine, sake, or very good quality dry sherry
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.Trim away any tough leafy ends and peel away any tough skin from the stalk. Cut the stalk on the diagonal into 1 ½-inch lengths. Separate any flowerets. Rinse the vegetable thoroughly and drain
2.Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and add the stalky, tougher part of the vegetable. Cook about 2 minutes or until near tender. Add the leafy sections or flowerets and cook for another minute. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold, running water. Drain. (You can do this in advance.)
3.Heat a wok or a deep skillet until very hot, then pour in the oil, and heat until near smoking. (Don’t be afraid to get the pan too really. This will give the dish its special flavor.) Add the greens, rice wine, garlic, salt, and toss lightly over high heat for about a minute. Scoop out the vegetable, arranging it on a serving platter, and spoon the liquid on top. Serve immediately or at room temperature.]]>
Secrets From Asia
When I went to Asia, my Cantonese teachers introduced me to whole new style of pickle making that was so easy, any cook can do it at home.
• Mix equal parts vinegar and sugar with a little bit of smashed ginger
• Add the vegetables and let them marinate a few hours
There you have it:
A TASTY CRISP PICKLE
Sometimes I heat up the mixture to dissolve the sugar and speed up the process a little, but this step can be omitted.
My Dad, who is an avid cook, makes his pickles with cucumber slices. He’s 88 and still cooking away so I tell people, if he can do it, anyone can.Stay tuned for these upcoming videos:
• My visit to Suzhou, the lovely city near Shanghai which is known as the Venice of China
• My favorite restaurant in China and some of its specialties (Hint: It’s in Beijing!)• More Vegetable Quick Bites• A personal tour of my favorite Dim Sum Restaurant in London• Great Tips on bargain Summer Wines with Howie Rubin, from Bauer Wines
Cantonese cooks have devised this master marinade for “quick-pickling” vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, or turnips. You can re-use the marinade by adding more vegetables.
8 slices fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter, smashed with the flat edge of a knife or cleaver
1 cup clear rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 ½ pounds package baby carrots
¾ pound parsnips
1. Mix together the ginger, rice vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
2. Peel the parsnips and roll-cut into ½-inch sections, cutting the vegetables, on the diagonal, rolling half a turn, and cutting again. Cut the thicker section of the parsnip in half. Add the pieces to the bowls with the carrots and toss lightly to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, tossing occasionally or overnight for more flavor. Serve chilled. (These will keep for at least 1 week in the refrigerator.)
© Nina Simonds 2008.]]>