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Lotus carrot pancakes

One of winter’s best vegetables in traditional Chinese medicine is the lotus root. Its cold nature serves to counterbalance the excess of indoor heating, while being great for pushing blood through the system and clearing out the lungs for those winter colds. Starchy and filling, lotus generally makes a great comfort food in the winter, and this winter for me is no exception.

Lotus

Lotus roots are pretty unusual-looking once cut. Filled with holes, the lotus can make dishes look pretty and delicate when cut properly at the cross-section. However, while most Chinese traditional dishes make use of the beauty of this vegetable, the recipe I’m presenting today is one that does not since it is whittled down through grating.

Lotus roots typically come in multi-sectioned sticks, similar to sugar cane. The one pictured is only one section of a root. At the Asian markets, they can be found both sectioned off or as a whole root. In order to select good ones, make sure that there are no deeply blackened or discolored spots on the root. Black streaks are typical since these are grown in mud.

Lotus and carrot

Root vegetables are especially good for making crispy pancakes. Their starch helps to keep the vegetable stable during the frying process, which leads to a sturdy, yet crunchy texture. In the lotus root pancakes I’ve added carrots for some sweetness and color.

I had mentioned before that I’ve begun to use the shredder attachment to my food processor. It has been working wonders with shredding raw vegetables in very little time, with these root vegetables being no exception.

Lotus root cake

With the size and scope of the recipe below, I was able to fry eight cakes in two batches in my 14-inch skillet. I did not work hard to form all the cakes into nice, round shapes, but they cooked evenly just the same. For crispier cakes, these can be made into much smaller pancakes at smaller thickness in the same amount of cooking time.

Lotus root cake

Ingredients
1 section of lotus root, about 1/2 lb
2 medium carrots, about 1/4 lb
2 medium scallions, about 1/2 cup chopped
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp cooking fat (I used olive oil)

Directions
(1) Peel the lotus root and carrot’s outer layers. Shred each vegetable and squeeze out any excess moisture on paper towels. Combine in a large bowl.
(2) Roughly chop the scallion and add to the vegetables, along with the egg and salt. Mix well.
(3) Heat 1/2 Tbsp cooking fat on medium-high in a pan. After a few minutes when it is hot, drop large scoops of the batter into the pan. Flatten to 1/2-inch thick rounds with diameter of approximately 4 inches. Cover and fry for about 5 minutes or when the edges start to brown.
(4) Flip the pancakes over and continue to fry, covered, an additional 2-3 minutes.
(5) Heat the other 1/2 Tbsp of cooking fat in the pan and repeat the cooking process until the remaining cakes have been formed and cooked.
(6) Turn off stove and transfer to a plate. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Dirty cauliflower rice with organs

While browsing through the farmers’ market last weekend, I was reacquainted with an old friend. This friend’s name is cauliflower.

Yellow cauliflower

While the farmer had a huge batch of white cauliflower laid out on tables, the yellow and purple ones jumped out at me with their beautiful and unusual colors. I ended up taking home this yellow one due to two reasons. First was that the purple and yellow cauliflower bunches tended to have a higher mass in the florets rather than the stem. Stems are harder to “rice” than florets for cauliflower rice. Second was that the yellow ones I found at the market tended to be larger than the purple ones. If I buy a whole cauliflower for $3, I might as well look for a heavy one.

As I continued with my shopping at the nearby Whole Foods, I became reacquainted with a couple more old friends: liver and gizzard. I had not had any for the last couple of months and I felt that a heavy dose of vitamins was in order. A quick decision at the market and I was headed in the direction of dirty rice, low-carb style.

This time on the cauliflower I decided to save myself the pain of using the food processor’s pulse function and, instead, used the shredder attachment that I had stored in the back of the cabinet. I was quite surprised at the difference it made! Not only did I not have to worry about pulsing in batches, but I also did not have to put so much effort into cutting the florets into evenly sized pieces. I will definitely using my shredder in future cauliflower rice recipes.

Dirty Rice

The liver, while small in quantity, really gave the whole recipe a rich flavor boost. While it is possible to also add some sausage to a dirty rice dish, I wanted to keep the recipe a bit more neutral in flavor, especially since the recipe already had so many flavors coming from the vegetables and cajun spices. However, Your Mileage May Vary.

For the recipe below, the jalapeño is optional if spiciness is desired. I left it out in mine because I can’t handle spicy food very well.

Ingredients
1/3 lb chicken gizzard
1/4 lb chicken liver
1 medium onion, about 1/2 lb
3 cloves garlic
1 small jalapeño, if desired
1 red bell pepper, about 1/3 lb
2 large stalks celery
3/4 lb raw cauliflower, about 3 cups “riced”
1 Tbsp cooking fat (I used lard)
8-10 sprigs parsley, about 1/2 cup chopped
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Directions
(1) Clean the gizzards and remove the membranes. Dice the gizzard and liver into 1/2″ pieces.
(2) Dice the onion and mince the garlic and the jalapeno, if using. Dice the red bell pepper and celery. Set aside.
(3) Rice the cauliflower via grater, food processor, blender, or manual chopping method. Set aside.
(4) Heat cooking fat on medium-high heat. When hot, add gizzard and onion and cook until the gizzards begin popping, about 4-5 minutes. Add liver and garlic, stir to incorporate, and cook an additional 4-5 minutes.
(5) Coarsely chop parsley and set aside.
(6) Add the bell pepper and celery. Saute an additional 3 minutes.
(7) Add the cauliflower and stir for several minutes, until slightly browned. Turn down heat to medium and add parsley, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and salt. Stir to combine.
(8) Turn off heat and let stand for several minutes. Serve warm.

Bon appetit!

Dai Dai

Gluten-free, low-fat sesame cookies

Lots of healthy cookies. Who wouldn’t want that? Following my baking kick from a couple weeks ago on gluten-free low-fat orange cookies, I modified the recipe to incorporate different flavors that would also work well with the coconut flour. This week I am featuring an Asian flavor-inspired healthy cookies by using sesame.

Sesame is quite prominant in Chinese desserts. There are many dessert soups and pastries and I’ve noticed this flavor gaining momentum in the exotic dessert menus at restaurants and dessert parlors. My reasoning was, why not make a cookie?

Ground sesame

I used ground sesame that one can typically find in an Asian store as many traditional Chinese desserts and breakfasts use these bags of caloric deliciousness. I’d much rather use these bags of ground sesame as the pieces are more finely ground, similar to flour, than what one could achieve at home with even mortar and pestle. The only drawback is that the seed oils can sit for a long time and spoil. However, I’ve always used up these bags fast enough so that they never tasted stale.

Sesame cookies

These cookies aren’t too sweet, but I think they are pretty darn delicious due to the sesame flavor. The sesame taste is still prevalent in the cookie despite the tendency of coconut to be overbearing in a recipe, which is a nice win for another coconut flour recipe.

Ingredients
1 large banana, about 8 inches
1.5 Tbsp maple syrup or equivalent in sweetener
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tablespoons coconut flour
3 Tablespoons ground sesame seeds
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup milk
butter, to prevent sticking

Directions
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
(2) Mash the banana and mix with the maple syrup and vanilla extract.
(3) Sift together coconut flour, ground sesame seeds, baking powder, and salt, and add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.
(4) Add the milk. Mix well to incorporate.
(5) Butter a flat cookie sheet. Spoon the batter onto the sheet and flatten into 1 1/2″ rounds. These will not change shape in the oven.
(6) Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the outside of the cookies are barely browned.
(7) Cool 5-10 minutes before consuming. The longer the sit, the better it tastes.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Righteously Raw minis

I’ve been a big fan of raw chocolates for a while. Not because of the entire raw food mentality, but the fact that raw chocolate tends to be more abundant in flavor per bite than their processed counterparts, albeit quite untamed. When I found the Righteously Raw minis at Whole Foods, I felt it would be fun to try out a variety of raw cacao flavors without breaking the bank, as they were individually wrapped and selling for $0.50. These typically come in huge boxes of 64 pieces online.

Chocolate

I couldn’t handle the synergy spice flavor and had to throw it out. There was way too much spice and I could barely taste the chocolate. Ingredients were organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic raw agave, coconut oil, organic vanilla bean powder, organic cinnamon, organic lucuma powder, cayenne powder, aji panca powder.

The 83% dark was standard. Not too much going on. Mostly earthy with a hint of fruitiness. It was also a bit chalky. Ingredients: organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic raw agave, organic coconut oil, organic vanilla bean powder.

Chocolate

The divine mint was my favorite flavor. It had a naturally minty flavor among the earthy tones of the cacao, resulting in a globally beautiful taste. Ingredients: organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic raw agave, organic raw coconut oil, organic vanilla bean powder, essential peppermint oil.

The maca was definitely the most interesting of the four. The maca bar is similar to white chocolate in that the only ingredient stemming from the cacao bean was the cacao butter. It had a malty flavor, of which I assume came from the maca and mesquite. I was surprised that there were no sweeteners, since it felt it could have been comparable to a darker milk chocolate bar. This was also the chalkiest of the four. Ingredients were organic cacao butter, organic maca powder, organic mesquite powder, organic vanilla bean powder, salt.

Dai Dai

Leftover potato scallion pancake

This past week I overestimated my ability to stay faithful to my mono-diet of potatoes and salty seasoning during a my monthly period of sore teeth. I could not eat another bite after a couple days. Having a couple pounds of it lying stagnant in the fridge, I felt compelled to use a lot of them without leaving any waste.

Potato mash

Since I firmly believe that nothing really beats fried potatoes out of all the various methods of preparing potatoes, I decided to go the pan-fried route by mashing the leftover boiled potatoes with some eggs, rice flour, and scallions to make a potato version of the Chinese scallion pancake. The mash was quite ugly and skeptical-looking.

Freshly fried

However, the pancakes themselves turned out quite beautiful! At the 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness, the mixture stuck together well and the pancakes were easy to flip in the pan.

Best of all, these were gluten free and very easy to make. I would think any sort of mashed potato leftover would be good for this recipe as well. Will make that post when the time comes.

Ready to eat pancake

Obviously the recipe below can be scaled to create a larger stack of scallion pancakes, and can be divided to make smaller pancakes in higher volume. I made two 6-inch pancakes with the recipe below and managed to cram the entire batter into the pan in one batch.

Ingredients
1 large boiled potato, about 1/2 lb
1 large scallion, about 1/3 cup chopped
1 egg
1 Tbsp rice flour
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 Tbsp cooking fat (I used olive oil)

Directions
(1) Mash the potato, preferrably with the skin off.
(2) Roughly chop the scallion and add to the mashed potato, along with the egg, rice flour and salt. Mix well.
(3) Heat the cooking fat on medium-high in a pan. After a few minutes when it is hot, drop large scoops of the batter into the pan. Flatten to 1/2-inch rounds. Cover and fry for about 4 minutes or when the edges start to brown.
(4) Flip the pancakes over and continue to fry, covered, an additional 2-3 minutes.
(5) Turn off stove and transfer to a plate. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Simple gingery carrot milk

In my opinion, one of the best juices that one can buy out there is carrot juice. This sweetie from the vegetable family excellently balances both sweetness and flavor with nutrition and health. It is probably one of the most delicious vegetable juices to drink, and is much healthier than fruit juices that tend to pack in more sugar than real nutrition.

Carrot juice

I like to get the Bolthouse Farms brand of organic carrot juice at Costco. The brand does a great job making consistently great-tasting juice, and in the large, bulk bottles it doesn’t break the bank. It is definitely much more price-friendly than buying an equivalent amount of organic carrots and juicing them, though admittedly the juice is not as fresh.

Drink

I have been making smoothies with these huge bottles of joy during the fall, and wanted to continue with the juice on something more warm in the winter. Since I make a lot of ginger tea with my organic lowfat milk, I figured the carrot juice would be a nice addition. I personally like the below recipe at its current sweetness, but a spoonful of honey would make this drink a bit sweeter without sending blood glucose to skyrocketing levels.

Ingredients
1 1-inch knob of ginger, about 1 Tbsp
1 cup milk
2/3 cup carrot juice
honey to taste

Directions
(1) Pour milk into a pot and turn heat to medium-high.
(2) Grate off the skin of the ginger and cut into 1/4″ slices. Add to milk.
(3) As the milk begins to steam, turn the heat down to medium-low. Allow the milk to simmer gently for an additional 15 minutes. Alternatively, turn the heat off as the milk begins to steam and allow ginger to steep 45-60 minutes.
(4) Pour gingery milk and carrot into cup. Add honey to taste. Enjoy warm!

Dai Dai

Gluten-free, low-fat orange cookies

Winter baking is the best. The house warms up quickly and the aromas of sugar and fats permeate the air, feeding the eating cycle of winter hibernation. While most of the desserts I bake are horrendously calorific, this post highlights a concoction that is relatively light, easy to make, and can be described using a plethora of hyphen-heavy adjectives.

Most coconut flour desserts tend to be difficult to tame because if the coconut is not kept at a minimum, the dessert risks tasting like a lot like pure coconut. However, I found that these cookies balance the flavors really well by highlighting the pungent flavor of oranges, while allowing the coconut flour to give body to the recipe without overwhelming the overall flavor.

Cookies

These cookies can also be made dairy-free by using dairy alternatives, and sugar-free by using sweetener alternatives. Best of all, these are gluten-free and ultra low fat! With a lot of organic and free-range thrown in if you want. The recipe below makes about 50 1 1/2-inch cookies, although the shape and sizes can be changed without too much difference in baking time.

The most negative thing about this dessert is that eating a decent amount of it gives me a buttload of gas due to the high fiber content. Your mileage may vary.

Ingredients
1 large banana, about 8 inches
1 Tbsp maple syrup or equivalent in sweetener
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp orange extract
zest of 1 orange (about 1 Tbsp)
1/2 cup milk
butter, to prevent sticking

Directions
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
(2) Mash the banana and mix with the maple syrup.
(3) Sift together coconut flour, baking powder, and salt, and add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.
(4) Add the orange extract, orange zest, and milk. Mix well to incorporate.
(5) Butter a flat cookie sheet. Spoon the batter onto the sheet and flatten into 1 1/2″ rounds. These will not change shape in the oven.
(6) Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the outside of the cookies are barely browned.
(7) Cool 5-10 minutes before consuming. The longer the sit, the better it tastes.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai