Pickled garlic – the Chinese way

Here is an old time favorite of mine … It was getting colder here so I thought it would be time to prepare for the winter. I enjoy eating garlic during the colder months, it is very healthy but I can live without that harsh taste. Pickling the garlic keeps all its health benefits but the garlic loses its strong taste. So this week, I would like to post a recipe for pickling garlic, the Chinese way. It is so easy to make and it is so delicious … but yes it will take 12 weeks to make…

In the recipe, proportions are given. The amount will depend on how much garlic you use. I used 4 heads of garlic. You can figure out the liquids after you put the garlic in the jar. Add the peeled garlic, enough to fill about 3/4 of the jar. Mix the 2 liquids, about half the soy sauce and half the rice vinegar and pour over the garlic. Make sure the liquid covers the garlic.

You will also need a jar. I like to use a wide mouth jar so I can take the garlic out easily. Also, I sterilize the jar before putting anything in it.

RECIPE

Ingredients

Jar of garlic, peeled

1/2 part soy sauce

1/2 part rice vinegar

1/2 part honey

Directions

Please see above for directions.

Peel the garlic. When you peel the garlic, make sure you do it gently and not cut the garlic. If you do, not a big deal, just the cloves will be a little unappealing but still edible.

Fill the jar 3/4 full with the peeled garlic.

Pour the vinegar/soy sauce mixture over the garlic and let it macarate for 6 weeks. Make sure the garlic is well covered with the liquid.

Then after 6 weeks remove the vinegar/soy sauce mixture and discard half of it. Replace it with honey. Pour this liquid back in the jar. You can gently warm up the honey so it can be mixed with the macerate.

Wait for six more weeks and then the pickled garlic is ready.

enjoy!

Text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com

Mini apple turnovers (almás mosoly)

This tasty dessert will satisfy your autumn sweet tooth any time. They are simple, puffy and delicious. No need to buy puff pastry from the store, you can make the buttery, flaky puff pastry with the three simple main ingredients: butter, cream cheese and flour. There is something about simple, delicious dishes that are just that … simple and delicious… and this dish is surely just that… My recipe came from this blog (source).

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1-2 apples, firmer baking apples (I used 2 cortland)
  • 1 pkg cream cheese (220 gr)
  • 2 sticks of butter (220 gr)
  • 1 1/3 cups flour (220 gr)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon apple spice
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • handful of chopped nuts

Directions

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine the cream cheese, butter, flour, salt and sugar. Put the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Take the cold dough out of the fridge, cut it in half. Put one half back in the fridge to keep it cold while you are working with the other half of the dough..

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin about 2-3mm thick. Cut out round shapes with a cookie cutter. My cookie cutter is 2 1/2 inches in diameter but you can use whatever size you have. Cut the circles big enough so they can fit the apple slices or vice versa cut your apples so they can fit in the circle.

Place the apple slices on half of the cut out shapes and fold the other half of the circle over the apple slice. Put the prepared pieces on the preoiled cookie sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes in the preheated oven.

Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Make the sugar coating. Add 1 tsp cinnamon spice to the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Put the apple turnovers into a bigger bowl and toss them with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. I did this when they were still warm. I found that when done while hot, the sugar sticks better but please feel free to experiement.

Sprinkle with the chopped nuts.

Now ready to serve.

enjoy!

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Source of the recipe

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/106421768/posts/6271

Dutch baby with apples

This morning I was craving something delicious made with apples … most likely because yesterday we went out to an orchard to pick some apples and of course we have a lot of apples now. Then I remembered I could easily make Dutch baby and put apples in it. Dutch baby is made with three basic ingredients: milk, eggs and flour and seasoned with vanilla and apple spice. I also added apples to satisfy our autumn cravings. Watch it poof up in the oven and wow your friends and family with this tasty filling breakfast. I served it with caramel sauce that further please those ‘autumnish’ cravings … Oh and I still have raspberries growing in my back yard so I had to use some.

RECIPE

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk milk
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 tsp apple cinnamon spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 apples peeled, cored and sliced (sour, baking apples are the best)
  • caramel sauce
  • nuts for serving

Directions

You will need a 10″ (2 inch deep) oven proof skillet or soemthing similar in size to bake this dish.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Mix flour, milk, eggs, salt, vanilla, 2 Tbsp melted butter, sugar, apple spice until no lumps remain. You can use an electric beater on high speed for 1 minute but it can easily done by hand too. Let it rest for 1 hour if possible. It can be made the day before and stored in the fridge, just let it warm up to room temperature.

Meanwhile gently warm up a little butter in a pan. Caramelize the apple slices on both sides. Set aside.

When dough is ready, heat up skillet and put in the butter, caramelized apple slices and pour the batter in.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown. The pancake will be puffy but will settle after 5-10 minutes.

Serve with powdered sugar, ground walnuts, caramel sauce and fruits – of course all optional.

enjoy!

Wellcome Autumn

Most of my readers are well aware that autumn is here. Please feel free to look at my write up for Eating with the Fall season and my favorite recipes from last year. Enjoy this beatiful season!

Eating with Fall seseason

Potato leek soup with kale

Saurkraut dish with kielbasa

Stuffed squash with lentils, cranberries and wild rice (a Midwestern twist)

Source

Art: https://www.lovethispic.com/image/139917/autumn-leaves

Plum/berry cobbler

Have you ever had to cut corners in the kitchen and later realized that you had actually created something new and amazing? This must have happened to the early settlers of America who came from the Old World. They had their recipes to make the English pie but did not have all the tools to make them … and came up with a brand new dish called cobbler. Cobbler is just as good as pie is IMO and is much easier to make. Seasonal fruits are used in cobblers as well but not sure where the name came from. It might be refering to the wooden spoons they used or the cobbler who mends shoes like the dough is mended on top of the fruits or perhaps it was the village cobbler’s favorite dessert … nobody knows the exact meaning but this is a crowd pleaser for sure.

This is an ‘end of the summer’ cobbler recipe. It is made with plums along some berries and the savory spices that are nice for this time of year. Of course, I used plums because they are available right now. I also added nutmeg, cinnamon, orange peel and ginger to add a little flavor and they suit the plums nicely as well. The juicy fruits are covered with the perfectly crumpling, soft topping that I used for my rhubarb cobbler (recipe) back in the spring … Oh and it is begging for a bit of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Ingredients

My recipe was inspired by the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

Have all the ingredients at room temperature exept the butter.

For the fruits

  • 1 lb of plums, pitted and cut into up into 1′ or smaller chunks
  • 1 lb of berries – I used blackberries and raspberries
  • ½ cup of sugar or more if your fruits are not sweet enough. Only use more if your berries are not sweet. 1/2 cup is plenty otherwise, trust me!
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used apple spice seasoning from Penzies)
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (cut and sifted) or 1 tsp fresh
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp orange peel
  • 2 Tbsp of  flour or 1 Tbsp of corn starch

The dough

  • 1 1/3  cup of all purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp of sugar 
  • 5 Tbsp of cold unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of cream or 1/2 cup of milk (honestly milk is fine too)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 lightly beaten egg for the top
  • extra sugar for the top
  • vanilla ice cream for serving

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Making the fruit filling

  • Have ready an oven proof baking dish that is about 2 quarts large in volume and 2 inches deep (ex 11 x 4 x 2 inch).  
  • Take fruits out of the freezer if they are frozen and let them defrost. Wash plums and cut them into 1/2-1 inch long pieces. Place the plums and the berries in the dish. They need to be at room temperature before you can put the cobbler into the oven. 
  • Add pinch of salt, cornstarch or flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar and mix. Set aside and wait for at least 30 minutes.

Making the dough

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, pinch of salt and sugar.
  • Add the cold butter and mix. This is such a satisfying experience for me to do by hand but if you prefer you can use your food processor for this step. 
  • Add the cream or milk stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Gently need the dough in the bowl 5-10 times if needed, turning and pressing any loose pieces into the dough. Dust the top and the bottom of the dough.  Let the dough sit for 1 hour if you have time.

Preparing the cobbler

  • Now we will make a patchwork. Divide the dough into 8-10 parts and flatten each piece between your two hands about 1/4 inch thick. Place each piece on top of the fruit mix. Keep doing this until you have used up all the dough and the fruits are covered.  
  • (The dough should be workable but not sticky. If the dough becomes too sticky and warm, put it into the fridge for about 10 minutes to become the proper consistency. This can happen easily in the summer when it is warm outside).
  • Lightly brush the top of the dough with the eggs and sprinkle with a little sugar. 

Making the cobbler

  • Put the cobbler in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the berries are bubbling. Don’t overbake, make sure the fruits stay ‘liquidy’.
  • Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Serving the cobbler

  • You can serve the cobbler at room teperature with vanilla ice cream if you wish.

enjoy!

Source

Irma S. Rombauer: Joy of Cooking

Potato soup with lovage

Lovage is an old European folk remedy but has been forgotten. I would like to bring some attention to this valuable plant with this recipe. In the old days, it was used like parsley is used today, it grew in the gardens of everyday folks. It has an unusual flavor, more like citrusy celery. I used my Potato leek soup receipe (source) but added lovage instead of kale at the end as lovage wonderfully enhances the flavor of the potatoes. Of course, it is a great plant to use to get the body ready for the colder months.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) can be used for medicine and culinary purposes. It has been around for thoasands years but the Greek physician, Hippocrates (460 – 370 BC) made it popular after adding it into the culinary world after he used it successfully during the epidemics of his time. It gives myraid of health benefits from of course improving digestion to reducing arthritis, water in edema and the skin and many more. It is definatelly a big digestion remedy and it is even aphrodisiac. Lovage is a warming sweet, bitter and aromatic plant. I have it growing in my garden right now, a small little shoot grew very quickly into a large plant.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 8 medium sized Russet or Yukon potatoes (about 1.5-2 pounds)
  • 3 medium sized leeks, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 large slices of bacon or to taste (optional)
  • stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1-3 thyme sprins
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • handfull of chopped up lovage
  • 1/2-1 cup of cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • crushed hot red pepper flakes to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Preparation

  • Wash and slice up leeks. Slice leeks thin with a sharp knife. Use more the white part (cook the greenish part in the stock or discard). Put the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water for 1/2 hour. This will get all the dirt out of the leeks. Clean well. Strain the liquid using a colander or pat dry. 
  • If you decide to keep the peel on the potatoes, clean and soak potatoes in some cold water for 1/2 hour. Scrub off any dirt. If you decide to peel potatoes, you can skip this step and just peel and slice the potatoes thin.
  • Sauté leek slices in some butter for about 10 minutes or until you can smell the aroma of the leeks. Add 1 tsp of paprika and fennel seeds to activate for 1 minute and stir. Add 1/4 tsp cold water, stir. 
  • Fry up some sliced bacon if you decide to use it. 
  • Add potatoes and bacon to the leeks. Pour in the stock enough to barely cover the vegetables. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Start heating the soup carefully until it starts bubbling but not boiling. Quickly, turn the heat down and slowly cook for 1 hour. 
  • Clean and cut up lovage.
  • When soup is done, add the lovage.
  • It doesn’t need to cook. 
  • Add cream, salt, black pepper, hot red pepper flakes. Don’t cook anymore.
  • Serve hot with a little Parmesan cheese.

enjoy!

Source

Matthew Wood. Eartwise Herbal

Text, photos and recipe by twincitiesherbs.com

Plum Flaugnarde (Clafoutis)

It is plum season in our neck of the woods (Midwest) right now. Whenever plums show up at the farmers’ market, I can feel the summer is about to come to an end. This is my last chance to indulge in summer fruits so please join me. Oh no not just with any dish … I’m going to say farewell to summer … with a French dish.

This is a fruity dish that is made with a thick flan like batter baked in a buttered dish. Traditionally, it is made with cherries and is called cherry clafoutis or simply clafoutis in French but when made with any other harder fruits like plums, it is called flaugnarde. So technically, this dish is called flaugnarde. It was made in France first, more exactly in Limousine, in the central region of France.

Clafoutis is a simple rustic dish. It is not meant to be beautiful, delicate looking like what you expect a French dessert to be but it is more of a peasant food. So go ahead and pack your dish with the plums, berries and the batter, don’t need to worry about the appearance that much … Also, it is like a crepe just thicker and you should have all the main ingredients in your kitchen already … milk, flour, butter, eggs, sugar … and I think it is a lot tastier than crepes …

Please also check out my plum gnocchi receipe if interested.

RECIPE

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients

  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg for the plums + 1/8 tsp for the batter
  • 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger, cut and sifted or use 1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
  • 9 pieces of smaller plums, less if bigger
  • 1/3 cup sweet berries
  • 3 Tbsp cognac or brandy (optional)
  • 1/2 sugar, divided
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup ceam (I have used kefir before too)
  • 2/3 cup of flour
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • handfull of almond slivers
  • pinch of salt
  • powdered sugar for serving

Preperation

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the rack in the middle of the oven.

For the batter, mix milk, cream, eggs, almond extract, salt, 2 Tbsp – 1/4 cups of sugar, 1/8 tsp nutmeg and 1 Tbsp melted butter with a mixer on high speed quickly and add the flour and continue mixing for another minute. Make sure there are no clumps left but do not overbeat. You can use a whisk, handheld mixer or blender. (Yeap kind of like a crepe mixture). Set aside for an hour if you have time.

Cut up the plums and take out the pitts. (I leave the pitts in). Put plums in a medium sized bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of sugar and the brandy (optional) on the plums. Give it a toss. Let plums macarate for about 10 minutes. Then add berries, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to the plums. Mix. Set aside.

Use a 10″ inch baking dish (like a quiche dish). You need a dish that has a larger surface area and will hold 6 cups of food. Pour in the melted butter and spread it evenly on the surface of the dish making sure that you coat the sides too.

Evenly spread the plum mixture from earlier on the buttered surface. (I added the marinate liquid, too).

Pour batter (from earlier) over the plum mixture and sprinkle the top with the shaved almonds.

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until cake is puffy and has a nice light brown color. An inserted tooth pick should come out clean but the middle should be soft. The texture of the baked clafoutis should be like a study custard.

Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

When ready to serve, sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serve warm.

It can be stored in the refrigerator covered for 24 hours but best eaten the same day.

enjoy! Bon appetite!

Recipe, photos, text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Eating with the Late summer season (no recipes)

INDIAN SUMMER

It can get a bit challenging to say goodbye to all the fun we had in the summer, canuing down the creek, hopping on our bikes to get to our favorite ice cream shop or just spending endless hours outside in the warm weather. Yes indeed, it can get tricky for some of us to let go. But we have a few weeks to do it! Now we can enjoy the warm weather without the heat and maybe even the mosquitos. It kind of feels like we are rocking on a sailboat on calm waters during a sunset. But at the same time it would be wise to start thinking ahead. Yeap there is that nip in the air in the morning … the cold weather will be coming!

This transition is considered to be a short season and has been recognized by many different cultures. In the United States, it is called Indian summer, in China, the Earth season and in Hungary, old women’s summer (vénasszonyok nyara). Seasonal transitions are important to be aware of as they can be challenging on our bodies. It is worth paying attention to, especially if you are prone to problems now like having excessive mucus, digestive problems, feeling of heaviness/edema, tiredness, metabolic problems, low self esteem or craving sweets.

The ancient Chinese have observed this short time period, the Earth season (Wu Xing, 地球), to be different from all the other four seasons. This is the time of stillness when everything seems to just stop. The heat of the summer is gone, our busy lives are finally slowing down and activity becomes effortless. It is associated with stability, patience, and thoughtfulness. It is the time to stop and observe abundance around us and things we have created. As the days are getting shorter, we are moving from the time of abundance and expansion to focusing inward and cessation of abundance.

In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with a natural element so the Indian Summer is paired with the Earth element. Also, each element has corresponding western organs. The western organs of the Earth element are the Spleen, Pancreas, Stomach and the organs they control (Muscles, Mouth). (I capitalized the organs because in Chinese Medicine, it is more like an organ is considered to be the organ itself and in its energetic functions as well).

Let’s look at the nature of the Stomach and the Spleen/Pancreas. The Stomach likes to be be cool. It starts breaking up the food it recives and passes it for further digestion. The Spleen and the Pancreas on the other hand, like to be warm. Their main job is to further work on digestion and nourish the body. The Spleen has other functions including its role in the immune system that is important especially in the fall. The Pancreas releases digestive enzymes and also is involved with regulating the blood sugar.

Just like Mother Earth in nature, our Earth element is responsible for nourishing the body. Digestion is important all year around but especially during this time to ensure that we can ease into the cold months. There is a branch in Chinese medicine that belives the Earth element is the most important for good health. Yep this season is all about eating good, healthy food. Remember this is the Harvest season.

The flavor of the Earth element is sweet. These foods are meats, dairy, and complex carbohydrates including grains, vegetables and legumes. This flavor enters and nourishes the spleen/pancreas. It has a harmonizing effect on the body exactly what we need now. This flavor is great to have any time of the year but especially important right now. However, the sweet flavor also has a tendency to cause dampness and to slow down the body; therefore, pungent flavored foods like onions, ginger are also recommended at this time. (Just on the side, exercise has similar effects).

Chosing your sweet foods wisely is also importamt. I should mention that the sweet flavor should not be overdone especially by individuals who tend to gain weight and retain water easily. This is also true for the pungent spices, they should be consumed in moderation to make sure that heat does not stay trapped in the body. Definatelly practice moderation. Of course, overprocessed foods should be avoided.

All the vegetables that grow right now are great. If you go to the farmers’ market you will see eggplants, beets, cabbage, celery, chard, cucumber, lettuce, potatoes, mushrooms, squash, sweet potatoes, yam, bitter melon. Fruits are apples, tomatoes, pears, grapes, plums. Nuts are walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, chestnuts, sesami seeds.

To harmonize with this season, it is wise to make changes to our cooking style. The emphasis should be on moderation and creating simple, harmonizing dishes with ingredients that attune with the Earth element: round, mildly sweet, yellow or golden in color. Feel free to use herbs that help digestion like dill, oregano, ginger, anise, caraway seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, lavage etc. Also, try to avoid foods that are complicated with too many ingredients or are heavy, greasy and too spicy. In other words, we need to help our digestion so we can move into the new season effortlessly. Also, it is nice to start including more warming foods in our diet like winter squashes.

If you are looking for dishes to make during the Indian Summer time period, please, click on the Indian Summer ‘keyword’ on the right and you should get all my recipes or see a few from last year below.

Plum gnocchi

Turkish stuffed eggplants

Vegetarian moussaka

Spaghetti squash stew

Maroccan eggplant stew with garbanzo beans

SOURCES

  • Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods
  • Art: Sailing by the shore by Leonid Afremov

Text by twincitiesherbs.com

Middle Eastern hummus recipe with pita bread

Why blog about a dish that so many people already know how to make? I wasn’t really planning on posting this recipe actually but people have been commenting that this is the best hummus they have ever had. I do have a few secrets that make this hummus so good. So here they go …

If you have been following my blog you can proably guess easily … the most important one is … to cook the chickpeas for 3 hours or less for pressure cookers, of course. This is a must IMO if you are looking for that special flavor. You can use canned beans but will not get the same results. My other secret is to use lots of tahini. Recipes usually call for a few tablespoosns … no I use a 1/2 cup and you get this wonderfully nutty sesame flavor. Oh and of course the seasoning is important too. I use cumin, garlic .. So that is the recipe secrets … enjoy!

For those of you who are not familiar with hummus, it is a delicious chickpea based paste from the Middle East. It is made with mashing the chickpeas and adding tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. It can be served as an appetizer, a dip or to accompany other dishes.

… so since I am talking about my hummus recipe … I would like to introduce you to my new gadget, a manual food chopper by Briefton. My 20 year old Krupps food processor just broke and I was trying to find a replacemnt. I couldn’t find anything that I liked on the market right now and then came the idea … why not get a manual one? … so I did. And yes, you can make hummus with it too. I’m not trying to advertise this product, just would like to talk about a nice alternative to the electric one if anybody is interested. I should mention that the hummus will not be as smooth as when you use a food processor but we think that it is still tasty and definatelly bit chunkier …

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of uncooked chickpeas or 2 1/4 cooked (14oz can)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 larger onion
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil + more for serving
  • 1-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 5 Tbsp liquid from the beans or more
  • smoked paprika powder for serving
  • sumac for serving
  • olive oil for serving

Directions

Clean and soak the chickpeas overnight but at least for 8 hours. Drain liquid and cook in fresh cold water with baking soda for 3 hours, less if using a pressure cooker, of course. Take off foam at the end.

Chop onions in a food processor of your choice.

Add the beans and puree.

Add all the rest of the ingredients: tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, liquid from the beans, olive oil and continue mixing.

Continue until all ingredients are well chopped and blended. Hummus should be a nice paste in consistancy.

Add more salt, garlic and liquid from the beans if needed. If your tahini was dried out, you will need to add a few tablespoon of the cooking liquid for sure.

Serve with pita bread. (On a side note, these are very tasty. I made them smaller and cooked them at 475 F instead 500F ). Drizzle generous amount of olive oil on the top. Sprinkle the smoked paprika and chopped sumac (optional) on the top.

enjoy!

Text, recipe, photo by twincitiesherbs.com.

Source for the pitta bread: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/143045564/posts/4728

Chinese bitter melon soup

Bitter melon is not called bitter melon for nothing … yes it is very bitter … but if you take out the seeds, it won’t be bothersome. Besides life needs a little bitternes so you can better appreciate the good things – right?!? Big smiley face. It is also very healthy and makes delicious dishes. This interesting plant is hugely popular all over Asia particularly in India and China. My recipe this week is from China. No worries no exotic ingredients … you just need garlic and ginger for seasoning. The recipe is from the following source.

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) originated in India and became popular in China in the 14th century. It is now used all over Asia. It is a bitter plant that is also sour. According to Chinese Medicine, its bitterness makes it great for the Fire element in the summer (cooling) and detoxifies the liver and its sourness supports the liver ( Wood element). It also improves digestion. In Ayurveda, it is considered a great pitta pacifying remedy that is immensely valuable for the hot months. Western research has found it to be beneficial for the prevention/treatment of many problems including diabetes, cancer, infections, skin problems, dysmenorrhea, immune system, autoimmune diseases, and colds/flus. (If you have any of these problems, please see a practitioner first though.)

Today, we often don’t get enough bitter flavor in our diet but it is important for good overall health. Chefs use sweet flavored foods to balance out the bitter flavor. In this recipe, mainly the carrots, chayote squash and potatoes do this job. If you don’t like or don’t have all these vegetables, feel free to use any sweet vegetables you have on hand and/or think would work well together. For instance, we don’t have winter squashes yet so I used zucchini instead. Of course, the pungent ginger and garlic are essential to balance out the bitter flavor as well and the bitter flavor will be barely noticable. Honestly this is a nice tasting soup.

Where can we get bitter melon in the United States? They are easily available at Asian grocery stores and are sold by Asian farmers at the farmers’ markets. You might be able to get them at smaller grocery stores too.

Please note that the soup on the picture does not have chicken. I also added lemon grass because I have it in my garden and has a nice flavor.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • .25-.0.5 lb of chicken thighs or breasts (skinless)
  • 1 bitter melon
  • 1 chayote squash or zucchini or any squash
  • 4 regular carrots, cut into small chunks
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quadered
  • 2 small potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • 2 stalks celery , sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small chunk ginger, about 2 tablespoons chopped
  • chicken broth
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Make the chicken stock. Omit if using store bought.
  • Cut bitter melon in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Discard seeds. (They come out easily).
  • Meanwhile peel and chop the ginger and the garlic. Peel the potatoes if you wish. Cube the tomatoes and the potatoes. Clean and slice the squash, carrots, celery. When ready slice the bitter melon.
  • Cut the chicken up into small pieces.
  • Put all ingredients in a medium sized pot, cover well with chicken stock and cook covered for about 45 minutes or untill vegetables are soft. I added the zucchini in the last 20 minutes.
  • Serve hot.

enjoy!

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com

Sources