Category Archives: Recipes

Recipe: My Favorite Breakfast Omelette

Sometimes life gets too busy for us to make a great healthy meal. Have to drop off the kids to school, run to work for your morning meeting, and/or run errands all day. Some of us just simply run out of time. With all these things to worry about, the last thing you need to think about is breakfast or making anything for that matter! Well, the good news is that we have a wonderful recipe to help start your morning off right making it easier, healthier for you!

Here one of our patients Ella Elman has graciously decided to share one of her quick breakfast recipe as well as a little bit about what she does with her cooking business.

“Hi!
My name is Ella Elman and I have been a patient of Juli’s for almost a year. I own a personal chef and meals delivery business called, The Secret Ingredient (www.secretingredientmeals.com).

We specialize in cooking for clients on special diets and with food sensitivities or allergies. Our meals delivery service delivers organic, gluten and dairy free meals to your home or office on the Eastside.

As you can imagine, Juli and I spend a lot of time talking about food. While I am not a big fan of the name “bland” diet, I strongly believe in eating real food made with organic ingredients and avoiding all processed foods. I also believe in eating a lot of vegetables and put them into my dishes whenever possible.

Today, I’d like to share a simple and delicious breakfast that you can make in less than 15 minutes. This is a very versatile recipe that you can modify to incorporate whatever vegetables you like, and you can even add cheese, prosciutto, olives or whatever is available in your fridge that day.“

Here’s what you will need:

– Cutting board
– Knife
– 2 small bowls
-10-12” frying pan with lid. I recommend a ceramic frying pan if possible.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup broccoli florets*
1 cup zucchini
2 stems green onions
2 eggs (if you can’t eat eggs simply make a stir fry)
Salt
Pepper
Basil (3 chopped leafs)
Garlic (2 cloves)

How To Cook The Omelette:

Warm up a large (10-12”) frying pan for a couple minutes on medium-low heat and place 1 tablespoon of olive oil inside.

Meanwhile, wash and cut up broccoli florets, zucchini, garlic, basil, and green onions into small pieces. Once the frying pan is warmed up, put in all the vegetables and cover with a lid. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove and place in a bowl.

Beat the eggs well in a small bowl and add a little salt. Put in the other tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. Pour in the beaten egg and quickly swirl it inside the pan to form a thin crepe. Cover the pan and cook for a couple minutes until set.

Add the vegetables and spread around one half of the egg crepe. Flip the eggs over the vegetables to form a half moon shape and cover the vegetables. Cook for another minute. Remove carefully to a plate and enjoy!

*Trader Joe’s sells bags of organic broccoli florets that are already cut up.*

With our ‘Bland Diet’ at Hen Sen Herbs, it seems like the foods that we can and can’t eat limits us to almost nothing! But make it a creative game and combine your favorite veggies and fruits together. Be a food chemist and look up interesting ways to cook food, and don’t be afraid to try new things! Be sure to check out our blog for more recipes as well!

Happy eating!
~Shaila

Recipe: The Next Best Thing – Delicious Home Made Pizza !!

Do you know of anyone who does not like pizza? I know there are people who would never eat pizza because of various health reasons. Some people are gluten sensitive, so regular pizza dough made from wheat flour is out of the question. For some, including my wife who are very sensitive (mildly allergic) to tomatoes, are forced eat pizza without tomato sauce. I must say though, one of the best pizzas I’ve ever ate had no tomato sauce on it. And I’ve also tried the pizza crust made from rice flour. They are actually not bad. Some people might argue for those who are lactose-intolerant that great tasting pizza can be made without any cheese. But what is a point of making a pizza (or even calling it a pizza) without cheese, tomato sauce or traditional crust made with wheat flour?

I know.  Pizza is not necessarily healthy. And I should not be encouraging you to eat a pizza. But I just wanted to show you how great tasting pizza can be made easily and cheaply at home using regular kitchen oven. You don’t need expensive wood-fired brick oven to do it. Yes, it is so good that you would never have to go to a pizza restaurant anymore.pp

Disclaimer: Just like making a great bread, making a great tasting authentic pizza crust requires skills and experience. So, I am not going to show you how to make a pizza dough. Instead, I will be using store bought pizza dough for this recipe for the sake of easiness. In this recipe, I will be using Trader Joe’s ‘Plain Pizza Dough’ which is amazingly good for the price you pay. It makes 2 medium-sized pizza and costs only $1.19!! That’s a steal, considering the time & effort that require to make a fresh dough from scratch at home. But for everything else I want you to consider using freshest and best ingredients for your pizza. Here is how I did it.

First I made tomato sauce from fresh ripe tomatoes from the garden. To be honest, tomatoes in my garden are not quite ripe yet. So I used the tomatoes that were given to me by one of our patients at Hen Sen Herbs. They were as sweet and ripe as they can be when I turned them into sauce. Making great tomato sauce is easy when you have ripe fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes. But it can never be made with store-bought tomatoes.

How to make tomato sauce:

Easy! Cut them into quarters and let them simmer in the big pot until meat of the tomatoes and juice are separated. Drain the juice into another pot (don’t throw away). Then press the meat of the tomatoes against fine metal mesh strainer into the pot with the tomato juice. Discard skin and seeds.  Then, reduce the watery sauce until desired consistency is achieved (slightly runny).

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 500 degree F with pizza baking stone placed in the middle rack (for about 40 minutes to make sure the stone is really hot.

Ingredients:

Key ingredient: garden fresh basil!

Key ingredient: garden fresh basil!

Home made tomato sauce, fresh Mozzarella cheese, Shaved Parmesan Cheese. Fresh Basil.

Optional ingredients: anything you like.

Crust preparation:

Divide the dough (Trader Joe’s) in half. Then form two tight, round balls. Each ball weighs 1/2 lb. So, if you are making a dough yourself, make 1 lb of dough. Let them rest for 10 minutes. When the dough is relaxed and pliable, hold the dough in your hands and press the dough with your finger into thick disk (about 4 inch in diameter). Again let them rest for 5 -10 minute, then continue pressing the dough with your fingers. When the disk of dough becomes too big to handle place them on the floured surface. Flour the top and spread the dough thin until the dough becomes 10 – 11 inches wide.

Important Trick!!!

Baking trick: parchment paper!

Baking trick: parchment paper!

Cut a parchment paper into round shape (10 -11 inches wide) with a little handle (see the image below). This little handle will come in handy when you need to remove it in the middle of baking.

Once the dough is on the parchment paper placed on the pizza peel, quickly spread the tomato sauce and sprinkle chopped basil over the sauce. Place fresh Mozzarella and shaved Parmesan cheese thinly over the crust. You can add pretty much any ingredients on the pizza you like, but never create a thick layer of ingredients. The crust will be very soggy if you do so. You want the crust to be crusty, don’t you?

What you must have:

Pizza baking stone & Pizza peel

Baking:

Slide pizza (with parchment paper) onto hot baking stone. When the crust is hard enough after 1-2 minutes of baking, remove the parchment paper quickly by simply pulling the handle. The parchment paper makes it very easy for anyone to transfer pizza onto a stone. It slides right off the peel without making a mess. However, I noticed that parchment paper traps the moisture under the crust and the crust tends to become soggy. So, make sure to remove the parchment paper in the early stage of baking. When the cheese melted and crust is light brown, take it out and serve it hot! It takes about 6 – 7 minutes. When done right, you will hear the crackling sound as you run pizza cutter across the pizza.

It may not be as good as the professionally made pizza baked in wood-fired hearth oven. But it is the next best thing. I guarantee it. Enjoy!

-Kaz Isogai

The Reason Why Boy George & Culture Club Should Go Into Pickle Business

Active Culture Club

Active Culture Club

In 1982, the British band, Culture Club, lead by flamboyant Boy George released their first album “Kissing To Be Clever” in UK. The third single “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was a huge international hit. They became the first band since the Beatles to have 3 songs from debut albums listed in the Top 10 in Bill Board’s Hot 100. Their second album “Color By Numbers” was also a huge international success, with the single “Karma Chameleon” hitting number 1 in chart in numerous countries.

I must have been around 12 years old when I first heard Culture Club. Growing up in Japan, I was not quite interested in foreign pop rock at all. However, a tidal wave of British pop music was hard to ignore even for a child whose only interest was to play outside with his friends. But, I simply could not resist it when I heard Boy George sing,  “Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon….You come and go…you come and go….” Seriously, who could have resisted it? It was such a great sing-along song even for someone like me who didn’t know a word of English at the time.

Unfortunately, as with most of the rock stars, he and his band became a victim of drug addiction. Not only did the band lose their way musically, they actually lost one of the members because of heroin overdose. After peaking in popularity around 1986, Culture Club was never able to duplicate the same level of success. They even made several attempt to reunite and tour without much success up until recently. It is very likely Boy George and Culture Club would never ever be in the spotlight again.

But I think I found the way to help Boy George and Culture Club regain the same level of popularity as before. And possibly help him make a lot of money along the way. If Boy George ever asked me what he could do to become as successful as before, I would tell him to:

Sell Pickles, And Sell A Lot Of Them!!

Why picckles? Glad you asked. All pickles and Boy George have something in common. Pickles contain or are at least made with live Cultures. And Boy George was lead singer in Culture Club. They both have a word “Culture”.  Do you see where I am going with this? It is not one of my silly jokes. It is a pretty serious marketing plan. A plan to make him and Culture Club a household name again, really!. What I am trying to say is that even though the band is not popular musically anymore, the name “Culture Club” is still alivenand well. So he should take advantage it. The name “Culture Club” was once a household name worldwide. And still a lot of people instantly recognize the name. So why not use it?  It’s a perfect name for pickles. Especially the pickles with live CULTURES, get it? It is simple, but I think it would be very effective.

So he should simply call his line of products “Culture Club”. Yes, the exact same name as his band. His band is no longer active, so maybe his products should be called “Active Culture Club.” The word “Active” is quite important here when it comes to differentiating his products from others inferior pickle products. Wanna know why? Many of the pickles you see on the shelf of supermarkets are dead. What I mean by “DEAD” is the they don’t actually contains Active or Live Cultures anymore. All the beneficial bacteria (cultures) are killed through pasteurization process. Nothing wrong with pasteurized pickles with no active culture, but you would not be adding beneficial bacteria to your digestive system when you eat it, (more on that later) So I would suggest Boy George focus on selling only pickles with Live Active Culture. And all of his pickles will be sold through the brand name “Active Culture Club”.  And his face is still very much recognizable all over the world,  so he should slap his face right on the jar of pickles and other products for instant recognition and familiarity. After all, people love to buy products with a familiar face, just like every Newman’s Own products has Paul Newman’s face on it. It works, even though he has been dead for quite some time. I guarantee his pickles will be a instant hit among those who understand the value of active live cultures.

So what the heck is Live Culture? Live cultures, also called active cultures, refer to the microorganisms typically found in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and dill pickles. These beneficial microorganisms (bacteria) naturally present on the surface of the cabbage and, in fact all fruits and vegetables.  Most pickles are made by a process called lacto-fermentation. For example, when salted cabbage releases liquid (brine),  the bacteria begin to convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid which acts as a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. They say these bacteria actually increases the nutrient content and digestibility of vegetables, and also increases immune system functionality. And I find it very true though I have no way of scientifically prove it. My digestion has been so much better, and in fact  ever since I made a habit of eating sauerkraut with live culture (not pasteurized one) my allergy condition has improved dramatically too.

So folks, please make sure to eat the one that has not been pasteurized. Why the heck do they even pasteurize it, killing all the beneficial bacteria in the process? The answer is quite simple. As long as bacteria is present, and as long as there is enough sugar for the bacteria to feed on, it gives off gas as a byproduct of fermentation process. It is simply impossible to contain the gas in a jar without causing any bulge in the lid.

There are two ways to make sure you are eating the right kind of pickles (with live culture).

First one of course is to make your own pickles. I have not done it myself yet, but it seems very easy to make. Also they say it is very hard to mess up. As long as you don’t pasteurize it through canning process in an attempt to preserve if for a long period of time, you are good to go.

Second option is to buy the ones with live culture. This could be a little challenging depending on where you live. One day my wife came home with sauerkraut that she bought at local farmer’s market. And it was exactly the kind of sauerkraft I had been looking for. The first thing I noticed immediately was a bulging lis with a label saying “LIVE CULTURE, Natural Fermentation may cause lids to bulge – KEEP REFRIGERATED”. The lid was literally bulging and looked as if it was about to explode. It was a godsend since I didn’t want to go through the trouble of making it myself. The name of the product is called “Britt’s Caraway Kraut” made by Britt’s Pickle in Seattle. They have variety of other pickles. Unfortunately, their pickles are only available in natural food stores in Northwest region, including Whole Foods. I found another brand called “Farmhouse Culture Kraut”. Their sauerkraut also still contains live culture and are packed in breathable pouch; so it releases the gas caused by the fermentation process, so it will never explode.  Looks like they are available at Whole Foods nationwide. So far they are only 2 brands I trust (and easily available)so far. You should definitely try their pickles to see how your digestion improve. I will remain a loyal customer of both brand of pickles until, Boy George & Culture Club take my advise and start selling the line of pickle products worldwide.    

Kaz Isogai

Delicious & Healthy Apple Raisin Scone Recipe – It’s So Good Your Grandma Would Want To Steal This Recipe From You

I love scones. I am not addicted to it by any means, but it’s one of those things I enjoy on a Sunday morning away from kids and family (if I could), sitting alone in couch reading a novel in a local cafe filled with the aroma of freshly ground coffee, maybe drinking a cup of coffee. Nothing beats it. Well, the problem is that I can’t find any good scones anymore – at least not in the area where I live.

I go to Whole Foods every once in while and get some scones, just because it is conveniently located on my way to work. I must admit their scones are of decent quality. But it’s not a kind of place I want to hang out and relax. There are a few good honest bakeries in Seattle area who bake good scones. But, I hardly ever go there because having to drive far and fight for the parking space beats the whole purpose of relaxing on the weekend.


So what do I do? I simply come up with my own recipe! I did a little bit of research comparing other recipes on online, mainly just to understand the basic ingredients and the ration of them. What I mean is that I never really follow the instruction or measure the ingredients accurately. I usually add more ingredients of my liking to further mess up the original recipe. Surprisingly it always comes out perfectly the first time. But ONLY THE FIRST TIME. The second time is usually terrible because I try so hard to replicate it. That’s what happened to this recipe. But his time, after many times of trial & error. I got it down to pretty precise recipe that anyone can follow. So, don’t be like me. Just follow the recipe below.
– Kaz Isogai

sconeHealthy Apple Raisin Scone Recipe
Dry Ingredients:
All purpose flour 2 cups
Sugar 1/3 cups
Baking soda 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp

Other Ingredients:
Butter 6 tbs
Small Egg 1
Soymilk 1/2 cup
Vanilla Yogurt 1/2 cup
Raisin (or Craisin) 1/4 cup
Half large Apple

Preparation

Mixture A
Add Soymilk, Yogurt & Raisins (in order) in a glass (or any clear) measuring cup. This way you can avoid measuring each ingredient separately by simply checking the level of the Soymilk in the measuring cup as it rises from 1/2 cup, 1 cup to 1 1/4 cup.
Add one small egg into the mixture and beat it well.

Mixture B
Mix All the Dry Ingredients in the large bowl.
Cut butter into small pieces and mix it well with the dough blender hand tool.
Cut apple into small pieces (about the size of half inch cubes), and add them to the dry mixture.

Final Mix
Pour the Mixture B into the bowl (Mixture A) and hand mix them quickly with spatula. It should form a sticky dough.

Baking Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Divide the dough into 6 chunks and put them directly onto sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Since the dough is very sticky, it is not practical to cut them on the floured surface.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Transfer scones onto wire cooling rack.
EAT and Enjoy!

This is not a typical dry scone you are used to. It’s a very moist & fluffy scone packed with good healthy ingredients. I guarantee you would love this scone!!

How To Survive Holiday Foods

With the holiday season comes a reason to eat with family and friends. From Thanksgiving to New Years Even parties, these feasts and gatherings are full of rich, sweet foods. Decadent foods are such a fun way to celebrate, but they aren’t fun when they cause bloating, gas and constipation.

How do you balance the temptation and celebration treats? There are several options. The first is to simply avoid it all. Eat before you go to any event and just drink water. Another tactic is to have one splurge event to pig out and eat everything and then be prudent and only eat from the veggie tray for the rest of the parties. The tactic I like to use is to keep balance in mind.

To date, I have not had the pleasure of hosting a holiday meal during winter. The one year that I did host, my brother in law made us sushi rolls. He had started working for a Sushi restaurant in California and was excited to share what he had learned with us. That meal was tasty, healthy, and all I had to do was buy ingredients and cook up rice. For all of the other events our family attends, I bring some healthy options.

Ever since I started coming to Hen Sen Herbs, my family focuses on balance in our diet. For every treat, I have my kids eat a serving of vegetables. The idea is that everything that goes in has to come out, so we must eat our vegetables to help it all get out! While my friends and family don’t know I think of it that way, they enjoy seeing what I come up with that’s a vegetable option rather than cookies or pies. I bring a big salad or veggie tray or sometimes both!

My first year navigating the holiday season knowing about the need for balance, I created a veggie dip from Zucchini, which was a sneaky way of getting my kids to eat more vegetables without knowing it. And, I didn’t tell anyone until they asked what it was made out of – everyone was pleasantly surprised. What is it they say, “necessity is the mother of invention?” Well, that is the case with this dip. Perhaps it will inspire you to become the veggie person at your parties?

Wishing you wellness as we celebrate the end of 2014!

zuchinnidip5
Recipe: Zucchini Dip

Ingredients
1 Medium Zucchini
1 Table Spoon fresh squeezed Lemon juice
1 Table Spoon Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Handful (just shy of a cup) Cilantro Leaves (the less stem the less potential for stem strings in the sauce)

Prep:
Wash and cut the Zucchini into 1 inch or smaller rounds, place in blender. Add washed Cilantro leaves, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and Salt. It may fill up the blender to about the 3 cup level. Blend on high for about 2 minutes or until smooth, and you will have about 1/2 cup of fresh raw dip. You can add more or less of these ingredients to suit your taste.

Flavor: Adding a few shallots or a bit of grated ginger will add some spice and stronger flavor to this recipe.

Yields: 1/2 cup fresh dip. You can simply multiply the ingredients to produce more.

Shelf Life: Keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 days or until it starts to turn from a bright green to yellow. Since it’s so easy to make, we usually eat it up within 2 days.

Chinese Mustard Green Soup Recipe

…You’d better hurry up before this vegetable disappears forever from the shelf of your local Asian grocery store!

Here is an story about the mayor of a large city in ancient China who went to his favorite restaurant, complaining to the waiter of his persisting cold. The waiter told him about the healing power of mustard green soup for such an ailment due to its cooling and soothing properties. The mayor took his advice and ordered Mustard Green Soup that evening. To his surprise, he felt greatly relieved the next day.

The rumor spread quickly, nearly everyone at the city hall and their friends and family with a cold symptoms trekked to the same restaurant where the mayor dined a few days earlier. The restaurant continued to sell out Mustard Green Soups every single day for a several weeks. Soon the healing power of the Mustard Green soup became known to the general public and everyone rushed to buy mustard greens. And unprecedented shortage of mustard green in the area lasted for a several months.

Luckily, there is no shortage of Chinese mustard greens reported in the US or Canada. If you are lucky enough to live close to an Asian grocery store, you would have no problem getting it. So let’s get busy and start cooking!

Mustard Green Soup

Mustard Green Soup

Recipe: Chinese Mustard Green Soup
Ingredients:
• 1/2 lb Pork spare ribs cubes (salted overnight)
• One bunch of Chinese Mustard greens (1 lb) cut into 1 – 2 inch pieces
• 2 slices of fresh ginger root
• A pinch of salt
• One egg (optional)
Directions:
1. Boil pork spare ribs for about 3-4 minutes until coagulation of the blood appears on the bone.
2. Discard the water and wash off coagulated blood.
3. Cut the rib into pieces & boil in 8 cups of water until meat become tender. Skim off any scum or excess fat.
4. Add Chinese Mustard greens and ginger and cook for about 10 minutes.
5. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
6. Right before pot is taken off the stove, you may slowly add a beaten egg while stirring the soup.

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens

Many types of Asian greens, including Chinese Mustard Greens, are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, E and K. They are also a great source of fiber, beta carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, lutein, folate and chlorophyll. So, if you have hard time getting pass the slight pungent bitter taste of this vegetable, just think of the all the benefits you can get from eating it. After all “The bitter the vegetable (or herb) is, the healthier it is for you.”

*Spare ribs in many Asian stores comes in strips cut parpendicularly to the bones, so it is very easy to cut into cubes. If the slab of ribs is only option available for you, go ahead and cut them into sticks along the bones.
*This recipe serves 6 -8 people.

Orange Miso Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Recipe – It’s Fast, Easy, Fresh & Delicious

You Would Never Consider Buying A Dressing From A Store Again!

Every once in a while, I come across great salad dressing in a restaurant where a chef takes a great pride in his food. In the case of an Italian restaurant (my favorite food), the quality of the bread and salad (dressing) would tell you how good (or bad) the rest of the meals on the menu are. If the bread is of the low quality, I would immediately set low expectation for the rest of the meal so that I wouldn’t be disappointed. I might even order a cheap glass of wine before the main dish is served and get drunk to ease the pain of eating bad food – just kidding! Salad (and dressing) can also be a good indicator of the food quality… though I don’t necessarily set a low expectation for the rest of dining experience.

I may sound like a snobby critic, but it’s is true most of the cases that quality of the bread and salad equal to the quality of the service and the rest of the food in the restaurant. If it’s hard enough to find a good salad (and dressing) in the restaurant, it is almost impossible to find a decent salad dressing from a grocery store.

In the past, I’ve wasted my precious stock ingredients in my kitchen many times, just somehow trying to transform nasty tasting store bought dressing into some sort of edible form. The results were alway disaster. It’s always a good idea to start something new from scratch than trying to fix something that’s already bad. So I never buy salad dressing from the store anymore, and this is why I developed this dressing recipe. Remember this is my family secret recipe. I am sharing only with you, because I can no longer bear the thought of you spending hundreds of dollars for a horrible dressing. I want you to save money and stay healthy eating good salad with quality dressing. So please respect the recipe by using only the highest quality ingredients.

Recipe: Orange Miso Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Here is the list of the ingredients:

• 1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
• 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 2 tablespoon of Fresh squeezed Orange juice
• 1/4 tsp of Kosher salt
• 1/4 tsp of Italian seasoning
• Pinch of Freshly ground pepper
• 1/2 tsp of Honey
• 1 tsp of Miso
• Pinch of finely grated ginger
• 1/4 tsp of Organic soy sauce
• 1 tsp of mayo

Fresh Grated Ginger

Fresh Grated Ginger

There are two ways to do this recipe. The first one is the fastest, the easiest and the laziest way to make it. All you need to do is throw all the listed ingredients into empty glass jar (from jam) and shake it for about a minute. That’s all. It’s good to go.

But if you want to learn the subtle difference that each ingredients makes and eventually want to develop your own dressing, here is how to do it:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar in a 3:1 ratio.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar in a 3:1 ratio.

1. Put Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Orange juice and Salt in the jar and shake it well. This first step will help you understand that the golden ratio between oil and vinegar (acid) is 3:1 for any type of dressing.
In this recipe I am using more olive oil to compensate for the extra acid (orange juice). As long as you are using high quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, it should already taste much better than most of the dressing sold out there.

Shake well before using.

Shake well before using.

2. Once you have good tasting basic dressing, the rest of the ingredients are pretty much optional, meaning that you can add or subtract, increase or decrease the amount of each ingredient as you like it (later). But first, in order to learn to think and cook like Pro, it is critical to learn the subtle difference each additional ingredient makes. So all you need to do is shake it really well every time a new ingredient is added and of course taste it. You will be amazed to see how each ingredient adds an extra layer of flavor and complexity to the overall taste of the dressing.

This recipe yields enough to serve the family of 4 or more. You can of course make double or quadruple the amount and save it in the refrigerator for later use. You may add stone ground mustard for extra kick or substitute orange juice with lemon for tangier taste. Be adventurous and create your own dressing. I guarantee that everybody will be asking for your dressing recipe at your next dinner party.

-Kaz Isogai

Sour Dough Starter Recipe: It’s So Easy, A Caveman Can Do It

If you are a bread hater or simply sick and tired of me talking about bread 3 months in a row, let me assure you that this bread saga will end in this month’s issue. I promise I won’t talk about it again, or at least for a while. I just want to share the recipe for the pre-ferment (or sourdough starter) as I promised last month.
Sourdough Starter Recipe:

1st day: Put 1/3 cup of unbleached all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of rye flour and water (1/3 cup + 1tsp) in a bowl (ideally glass or ceramic, you don’t have to use fancy glass jar). If you choose not to use rye flour, use just 1/3 cup of water instead. Stir it vigorously and cover with plastic wrap.

2nd day: After 24 hours, add the same amount of flour and water to the mixture from the 1st day. Stir well and cover.

3rd day: Again add the same amount of ingredients to the mixture from the 2nd day.

4th day: You will probably start seeing bubbles in the mixture. It is the sign that the mixture has began the fermentation process, but not quite complete yet. So you need to feed the dough by adding equal amount of water and flour (by volume) every day until the yeast and the flavor has fully developed. In this case 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (1 tbs=3 tsp) of water and 1 cup of regular flour and 1 tablespoon of rye flour will be added every 24 hours. However, you have to discard about half of the mixture before adding. If you are like me, who hates wasting things, you may chose to use it for pizza dough or even bread, though flavor is not as good. If you repeat this process 3-4 more days, your mixture will have mild sweet and sour flavor. At this point, the mixture (pre-ferment or sourdough) is ready to be used for baking bread.

She is not a caveman.... My daughter Nicole  holding my bread I just baked.

My daughter Nicole holding my bread I just baked.

It may take many practice to get it right, but once you learn how to bake bread with your own pre-ferment, you will never want to buy bread again. I am aware this recipe needs more detailed instruction( sorry. So, I will try post updated version on the blog at www.hensenlfestyle.com along with baking instructions soon.
Happy baking, Kaz Isogai

Recipe: Chinese Herbal Healing Soup: Ching Bo Leung

This soup plays a critical part of the daily meal in Chinese culture as a source of nourishment and for the maintenance of good health. It is mildly tonic and good for anyone in any condition. Through it is not to meant to treat any specific illness or disease, it is believed to detoxify the body and nourish the kidneys and lungs. Many of the ingredients in the soup are said to aid the cardiovascular system and improve overall body function without stimulating any particular organ too much. This soup also helps balance Qi and blood in the body.
Ching Bo Leung
Ingredients (Clockwise from top-left):
Polygonatum 玉竹 - 0.5oz, Lily bulb 百合 – 1oz, Glehnia root 沙参 - 1oz, Chinese yam 淮山 – 1oz, Pearl barley 薏米 - 1oz, Lotus seeds 蓮子 – 1oz, Foxnuts 茨實  – 1oz, Dried longan 元肉或龍眼肉 – 1oz (only for desert).

Directions:
1. Cook all the ingredients in 4-5 cups of boiling water to clean the herbs. Strain and discard the water after 1 minute.
2. Boil 5 cups of water (new) and add the clean ingredients.
3. Turn it down to medium – medium-low heat and simmer with a lid on for about 1 hour.

Variation:
• To make a savory soup, you may add 3-4 oz of lightly salted pork. When using fattier meat, make sure to skim off the excess fat that floats to the surface.
• If you are making a desert, dried longan can be added for extra flavor and sweetness. Add sugar as necessary.
Ching Bo Leung Soup

She Is Ugly. She Is Bitter. And She Even Smells A Little. People Think I Am Crazy. But I’m In Love With Her!!

No. I am not talking about my wife. She would probably kill me if I describe her as such. So, am I having an affair with another women? Absolutely not! I am talking about one of my favorite vegetables, Bitter melon. Bitter melon is one of a kind vegetable. It is a bumpy ugly vegetable. And it’s very bitter. Not many people like the taste of it. I must say it’s an acquired taste. But once you get past that bitter taste. You will come to love this vegetable. Plus, it has some great health benefits that you cannot ignore. Here are some: Antibacterial, Antiviral, Anticancer activity, Lower blood sugar, Lower triglyceride levels, Detoxifies and cleanse blood, Reduces inflammation. If you are interested learning more about it, just google “Health benefits of bitter melon”. You will find tons of information.

Now let me show you how to cook bitter melon the right way. I promise you will be in love with her too.

Recipe: Stir Fried Bitter Melon With Fermented Black Beans

Ingredients for stir fry bittermelon

Ingredients:

• 2 Medium size Bitter melons (about 7 – 8 inch long)
• 2 – 3 oz side Pork (Salt it lightly)
• 2 Teaspoons full of dried fermented Black Beans
• 1 clove of Garlic (sliced)
• 1 thick slice of Ginger (julienned, about 1 inch long)
• 1 Tablespoon of Vegetable oil
• 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
• 1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce
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Preparation:

1. Soak the fermented Black Beans in 1/4 cup of hot water.
2. Slice the Pork 1.5 to 2 inch wide. Then lightly salt it.
3. Cut the Bitter Melons in half (long way) and scoop out the seeds with spoon. Discard the seeds.
4. Slice the Bitter Melon in 1/4 inch thick.

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Cooking Instruction:

1. Heat up a Wok and add Vegetable oil.
2. Add Garlic and Ginger to the Wok when the oil is hot.
3. Add the Pork when the Garlic turns golden brown, and cook it until well browned.
4. Add the Bitter Melon and cook for a minute while stirring and tossing the Bitter Melon every 10 seconds or so.
5. Add the Black Beans (soaked and softened in the hot water). Make sure to add the hot water used to soften the bean. It will help prevent the Bitter Melon from sticking to the wok.
6. Cover the Bitter Melon with a lid that fits inside the wok, and steam cook for 3-4 minutes.
7. Water will most likely evaporate after 3-4 minutes, so keep adding the water until desired softness of the Bitter Melon is achieved.
8. Add Salt and Soy Sauce to season it. And cook for a minute while giving it a several turns to blend.

ready to serve