Monthly Archives: August 2013

Asian Pot Stickers with Ginger Dipping Sauce

Pot Stickers


Ginger Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Pot Stickers
2 1/2 cups cabbage, finely chopped
1/3 pound ground chicken or pork
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (from 1/2-inch knob)
1 small carrot, grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
30 gyoza (pot sticker) wrappers
1/4 cup canola oil


First, make the Ginger Dipping Sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
Next make the filling for the pot stickers. In large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, chicken or pork, ginger, carrots, scallions, and garlic. In a separate bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and egg, then stir into cabbage-meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

On dry surface, lay out 1 gyoza wrapper. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cabbage-meat filling into center, then moisten halfway around edge with water. Fold one edge of the gyoza wrapper over and seal, using thumb and forefinger of one hand, forming tiny pleats edge of wrapper. Set pot sticker aside on a baking sheet while you make the remainder of the pot stickers.

In a large non-stick skillet over moderately high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Cook, the pot stickers on each side until golden brown. Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet and cover tightly with lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to serving platter and serve with Ginger Dipping Sauce. Makes 30.

Week 11: Ginger

Ginger root

Ginger is the rhisome or root of the ginger plant, known botanically as Zingiber officinale. The plant’s botanical name is thought to be derived from its Sanskrit name singabera which means “horn shaped,” a physical characteristic that ginger reflects. Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that blossom into pink or yellow flowers and the plants are often used for landscaping around subtropical homes.

Ginger flower

The flesh of the rhizome can be yellow, white or red in color. It is covered with a thin, brownish skin that can be easily removed by using a paring knife or scraping it with a spoon. It adds a spicy, fragrant flavor to food.


Ginger is mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings, and has long been prized for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties. After the ancient Romans imported ginger from China almost two thousand years ago, its popularity in Europe remained centered in the Mediterranean region until the Middle Ages when its use spread throughout other countries.
Beginning in 1585, Jamaican ginger was the first oriental spice to be grown in the New World.

Although it is native to Southeast Asia, ginger is grown commercially today in Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia.

Health Benefits

Ginger has historically been shown to alleviate gastrointestinal distress, particularly motion sickness, especially dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweating. In the April 2005 issue of the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, it is reported that eating ginger is also a safe, effective treatment for relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Ginger also has anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. This explains why people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.

Research studies also suggest that gingerols may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells and may kill cancer cells in ovarian cancer. It is also used to treat heartworm in dogs!

Culinary Uses

Although ginger powder is available in the spice aisle of the grocery store, it is best to purchase fresh ginger root in the produce section as it has higher levels of gingerol. Ginger is also available in several other forms including crystallized, candied and pickled ginger (served as a condiment with sushi). Fresh ginger can be stored unpeeled in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or peeled and grated in the freezer for up to six months.

Ginger is used in cuisine all over the world. In Western cooking, ginger is traditionally used in sweet foods such as ginger ale, gingerbread, and ginger snap cookies. In India and Pakistan, fresh ginger is one of the main spices used for making pulse and lentil (dried legumes) curries and other vegetables. Fresh, as well as dried, ginger is used to spice tea and coffee, especially in winter.

In Bangladesh, ginger is finely chopped or ground into a paste to use as a base for chicken and meat dishes with onion and garlic. In China, sliced or whole ginger root is often paired with savory dishes such as fish, and chopped ginger root is commonly paired with meat and candied ginger is eaten as a sweet. Ginger beer, a nonalcoholic carbonated beverage is also popular in Jamaica and the U.S.

Ginger Beer

To add a little spice to your recipes, try adding ginger to maple syrup to make a glaze for meats and vegetables. Infuse it into milk and cream to make a tangy custard or ice cream. You can even add it to tomato sauces! The sweetness of the tomatoes is a nice counterpoint to the sharp, spicy notes of the ginger. Also try adding chopped, crystallized ginger to cookies or muffins for an extra treat.



Marcia's head

As the former wife of a retired U.S. Navy Admiral, Marcia Steidle has traveled extensively throughout the world, sampling local cuisine and entertaining at cocktail parties for 250 and dinners for up to 40. She has taken cooking and wine appreciation classes in Berkeley, California and in Florence, Italy and has worked in the tasting room at a Virginia winery. She placed as one of 10 finalists in Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant in McLean, Virginia’s Best Italian Cook contest. Marcia graduated from the University of Maryland, University College, in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Sciences and a minor in Journalism. She worked as a Realtor for nearly 20 years before decided to make a career change. She is culinary arts graduate from the Hospitality, Culinary Arts & Tourism Institute at Anne Arundel Community College. In summer 2007 she was one of only five students who participated in a culinary arts internship program on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Her blog, chronicles her adventure. She is also in the process of writing a cookbook, The Admiral’s Chef: Recipes from a Navy Wife’s World Travels.

Marcia has three children: Gretchen Steidle Wallace (; Brian Steidle, former Capt, USMC (author of book & subject of documentary “The Devil Came on Horseback”), and LCdr. Eric Steidle, USN Reserves.

Sesame Tofu with Spicy Orange Sauce


1 small minced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 (1/4-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
6 ounces lemon juice
6 ounces olive oil
3 ounces soy sauce
3 ounces dark rum
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon salt
5 thick slices of tofu
1 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 cups all-purpose flour

Spicy Orange Sauce:
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons diced crystallized ginger

Combine all ingredients except tofu, flour and sesame seeds in a large bowl and mix well. Place slices of tofu in the bowl with the marinade and put in the refrigerator overnight. Turn slices of tofu occasionally so all sides are marinated.

To make orange sauce: Put all ingredients in a saucepan, and heat until the marmalade melts. Whisk until smooth, and serve at room temperature.

To prepare tofu: Combine sesame seeds with the flour. Dredge marinated tofu in the flour-sesame mixture. In a skillet, heat enough canola oil to lightly coat the bottom of the skillet until hot, but not smoking. Cook tofu on both sides until golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 300 degree oven until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with Orange Sauce.

Week 10: Soybeans


The soybean is a legume native to East Asia and grown in many countries throughout the world. Soybeans are considered by many agencies to be a source of complete protein that contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body because of the body’s inability to synthesize them. For this reason, soy is a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans or for people who want to reduce the amount of meat they eat. Non-fermented products include edamame, soy milk, soy yogurt. Fermented products include soy sauce, tempeh and tofu.

Soybeans have been grown for centuries as a food product, particularly in Asian countries and were originally used in the U.S. as a fertilizer and for crop rotation due to their ability to “fix” nitrogen in the soil. According to an ancient Chinese myth, in 2853 BCE, the legendary Emperor Shennong of China proclaimed that five plants were sacred: soybeans, rice, wheat, barley, and millet. Soy was first introduced to Europe in the early 18th century and to British colonies in North America in 1765, where it was first grown for hay. Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter in 1770 mentioning sending soybeans home from England. Soybeans did not become an important crop outside of Asia until around 1910. In America, soy was considered an industrial product only, and was not used as a food prior to the 1920s.

In 1932–33, the Ford Motor Company spent approximately $1,250,000 on soybean research. By 1935, soybean oil was used to paint Ford automobiles, and was used as fluid for shock absorbers. Henry Ford promoted the soybean, helping to develop uses for it both in food and in industrial products, such as body panels made of soy-based plastics, as well as products like soy milk, ice cream and all-vegetable nondairy whipped topping.

Soybeans can grow in any kind of soil and do best in a climate with hot summers. The height of the plant varies from less than 0.2 to 2.0 m (0.66 to 6.6 ft).The pods, stems, and leaves are covered with fine brown or gray hairs. The fruit is a hairy pod that grows in clusters of three to five, each pod is 3–8 cm long (1–3 in) and usually contains two to four (rarely more) seeds. Raw soybeans, including the immature green form, are toxic to humans, swine, and chickens, thus they must be cooked before they are consumed. The U.S., Argentina, Brazil, China and India are the world’s largest soybean producers and represent more than 90% of global soybean production.

Health Benefits
Consumption of soy may reduce the risk of colon cancer, possibly due to the presence of certain lipids, or fats. Eating soy products is associated with a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men, breast cancer among women and may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Recent studies have shown improvement in cognitive function, particularly verbal memory, and in frontal lobe function with the use of soy supplements. The FDA has also approved soy as a cholesterol-lowering food product.

Soybean Products
Soybeans can be processed and consumed in a number of ways. Soybean pods, also known as edamame, can be steamed and eaten lightly salted. Soy Milk is also a substitute for cows milk for lactose-intolerant individuals, although it does not naturally contain significant amounts of digestible calcium. Soy milk can be made into yogurt, ice cream, cheese and margarine. Soy infant formula is often given to babies that cannot process pasteurized milk. Tempeh or fermented cakes can be crumbled and substitute for chicken and ground beef in various recipes. Miso, a Japanese cooking staple, is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup.

Tofu, first introduced by the Chinese, is also called bean curd and is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is used in many Asian cuisines. Tofu has a subtle flavor and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish. Soy Sauce is a condiment made from a fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain, brine, and a mold called aspergillus. Most varieties of soy sauce are salty, earthy, brownish liquids intended to season food.

Industrial uses for soybeans include animal and fish feed, oils, soap, cosmetics, resins, plastics, inks, crayons, solvents, and clothing. Soybean oil is the primary source of biodiesel in the United States, accounting for 80% of domestic biodiesel production. The soybean is now the prime source of steroidal drugs, including contraceptives and steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like progesterone and cortisone.

As soybeans are a sustainable, renewable source of protein and oil, the National Soybean Research Laboratory and United Soybean Board report that researchers are continuing to develop new uses for soybean-based products for worldwide use.


Curried Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup


2 T. butter
1 – 8oz package sliced fresh mushrooms
½ c. chopped onion
2 T flour
1 T curry powder
3 C chicken broth
2 C canned pumpkin
1 T honey
½ t salt
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t pepper
1 – 12 oz can evaporated milk


Melt butter in large saucepan. Add mushrooms & onions and cook until tender, stirring often. Stir in flour & curry powder. Gradually add chicken broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in pumpkin & next 4 ingredients. Reduce heat & simmer 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in milk & heat through. Garnish with sour cream, chopped fresh chives or toasted coconut (toast coconut in low oven – about 325 degrees – for 5-10 minutes) Makes 6-1 cup servings.

Vegetarian Retreat Menu – Part 2

Black Bean Burger

Here are the remaining menus for the retreat. The participants took a break and went to a local farmer’s market for dinner on Day 7 – besides various prepared foods, the market featured live music, organic meats, cheeses, baked goods, jewelry and knitted items for sale. The recipe for the Black Bean Burgers is at the end. Enjoy!

Day 7Lunch
Quinoa Salad

Farmer’s Market

Day 8Lunch
Black Bean Burgers with Avocado & Alfalfa Sprouts
Blue Corn Chips

Veggie Pizza
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Day 9
Veggie wraps (humus, red onion, tomatoes, carrots. cucumber)

Ginger & garlic linguine with scallions & water chestnuts
Sesame grilled tofu
Steamed Broccoli
Apple Crisp

Day 10
Cheese Quesadillas
Black Bean Soup

Tempeh Coconut Curry
Brown & Wild Rice
Sesame Green Beans
Ginger Ice Cream

Day 11
Curried Pumpkin Soup
Egg Salad Sandwiches

Spicy Black Bean Burger with Avocado, Alfalfa Sprouts
And Chipotle Mayonnaise


Black Bean Burgers
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained well
6 green onions, finely chopped
½ c. finely chopped seeded red bell pepper
¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ T. minced seeded jalapeno chili
2 t. ground cumin
1 large egg
2 T. plus 1 c. yellow cornmeal
6 T. olive oil
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
2 large avocadoes, sliced
Alfalfa sprouts

Chipotle Mayonnaise
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chipotle chilies, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice


Place drained beans in a large bowl. Using hand masher, mash beans coarsely. Mix in green onions, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in egg and 2 T. cornmeal. Place remaining 1 c. cornmeal in small dish. Shape bean mixture into 6 flattened patties. Turn to coat in cornmeal. Heat 3 T. oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Fry bean burgers until firm and crisp, adding more oil as needed, about 6-8 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to whole wheat buns and garnish with avocado slices and alfalfa sprouts. Chipotle mayonnaise: Mix the mayonnaise, chipotles, cilantro, and lime juice until well blended. Refrigerate and allow flavors to blend before using. Serve 1/8 c. on the side. Makes 6 burgers.

Week 9: Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar originated in Italy and was first mentioned during the middle ages in a document dated 1046 A.D. It’s name comes from the word “balsimico” which means “balsam-like” and refers to a restorative or curative potion. Balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of trebbiano grape juice. The resulting thick syrup is subsequently aged for a minimum of 12 years in a battery of seven barrels of successively smaller sizes. The casks are made of different woods like chestnut, acacia, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash, and juniper. True balsamic vinegar is rich, glossy, deep brown in color and has a complex flavor that balances the natural sweet and sour elements of the cooked grape juice with hints of wood from the casks.

There are three types of balsamic vinegar:
1. Authentic traditional artisan balsamic vinegar, the only kind that may legally be described as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale in the EU.
2. Commercial grade balsamic vinegars produced on an industrial scale.
3. Condimento grade products, which are often a mix of the two above.
The names “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) and “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia” (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia) are protected by both the Italian Denominazione di Origine Protetta and the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin.

Modena (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena) designates the different ages of their balsamic vinegar by the color of the cap on the bottle. A cream-colored cap means the vinegar has aged for at least 12 years and a magenta cap bearing the designation extravecchio (extra old) shows the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more. It comes in a bottle with a bulb at the bottom and a long neck.

Reggio Emilia uses a system of different label colors to indicate the age of its balsamic vinegars (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia). A red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label that the vinegar has aged for at least 18 years and a gold label that designates the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more. It comes in a bottle with an inverted tulip shape.

While not an authentic balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar has become recently widely available. It is a light colored vinegar that is used in place of regular balsamic when discoloration is undesirable. White balsamic is made from combining white wine vinegar with white grape must, and then cooked slowly. It is not generally aged.

Balsamic vinegar is the best-selling vinegar in the U.S., accounting for over 45% of all vinegar sales. Prices can range from $2-$3 a bottle to over $200, based on the quality. It can be stored indefinitely in a cool, dark place.

Nutritional Information
One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar has 14 calories, 2.7 g of carbohydrates (from sugar), and 0.1 g of protein. It is low in sodium and does not contain any fats.

Health Benefits
In ancient times balsamic vinegar was said to be a miracle cure and was used to treat everything from a mild headache to labor pains. It’s antibacterial and antiviral properties make it ideal for disinfecting wounds and infections. Balsamic vinegar can be used on nail infections and even acne! It is high in antioxidants that protect the body from heart disease and cancer. It also suppresses the body’s appetite and increase the amount of time it takes for the stomach to empty, which can contribute to weight loss by preventing overeating. Balsamic vinegar also improves insulin sensitivity which promotes blood sugar regulation.

Culinary Uses
Balsamic vinegar is used in salad dressings and in dips and marinades. In Italy it is also served on slices of parmesan cheese and mortadella (a cured meat like bologna) as an antipasto. It is also used sparingly to enhance steaks, eggs or grilled fish, as well as on fresh fruit such as strawberries and pears and even on vanilla gelato!



Vegeterian Retreat Menu

Blueberry Tart

I have been hired as the chef for a ten-day Conscious Social Change Retreat near Hanover, NH. The weather has been glorious – intense blue skies with soft summer breezes and most of the meals have been served outside overlooking the pond. The menu is vegetarian, and luckily I have not been challenged by any dietary restrictions. (During a previous retreat, I had one woman who did not eat soy or garlic, one who was gluten intolerant & one who was vegan! Creating a menu that met everyone’s needs was interesting.) Here is what I have served the first few days of this retreat:

Day 1
Pasta Primavera
Massaged Kale Salad with Sesame Oil
Brownies with Raspberries & Whipped Cream

Day 2Lunch
Veggie Bacon BLTs
Potato Leek Soup
Carrot Sticks

Fried Rice with Peas, Water Chestnuts, Mushrooms & Scallions
Pot Stickers with Ginger Dipping Sauce
Stir Fried Snow Peas, Mushrooms & Carrots
Fortune Cookies

Day 3Lunch
Veggie Patties on Rolls with Lettuce & Tomatoes
Blue Corn Chips
Carrot Sticks

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche
Tossed Salad
Sour Cream Cake with Berries & Whipped Cream

Day 4
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches on Multi-Grain Baguettes
Tomato Soup

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos with Avocado, Tomatoes, Scallions, Cheddar & Sour Cream
Blueberry Lemon Curd Tart

Day 5
Curried Tempeh Salad Sandwiches
Pasta Salad
Blue Corn Chips
Carrot Sticks

Grilled Vegetables in Pita Pockets with Tzatziki Sauce
Corn in the Cob
Veggies on the grill

Day 6Lunch
Vegetarian Chili
Jalapeño Corn Bread

Mushroom Risotto
Green Bean, Mozzarella & Tomato Salad
Frosted Brownies and Sliced Strawberries

My recipe for the Blueberry Lemon Curd Tart:

1 1/2 c. flour
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable shortening

Lemon Curd
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
4 large egg yolks
5 T. butter, cut into pieces

Blueberry Topping
2 quarts blueberries
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch

Crust – Blend flour and sugar in bowl. Cut in vegetable shortening until it is crumbly and looks like small peas. Add 7 T. ice water and mix with a fork until it forms a ball. Turn out on floured surface and roll until 1/4 inch thick. Fold in half and fold in half again. Set it gently in a greased tart pan or pie plate and unfold. Crimp the edges. Place a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper in the bottom on the pie shell. Fill with rice or dry beans and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and discard paper and rice or beans. Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork and return to oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven.
Lemon Curd- Whisk sugar and lemon juice in a heavy medium saucepan to blend. Whisk in egg yolks and then. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat and spread on prepared pie shell.
Blueberry Topping – Measure out 1 c. of he blueberries and place in a medium saucepan together with sugar and 1/2 c. water. Bring to boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 T. water. When water and blueberries have come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes or until the blueberries start to burst. Stirring constantly, add the cornstarch mixture and simmer for a minute until the mixture becomes translucent. Immediately remove from heat and add remaining blueberries. Carefully spoon the mixture over the lemon curd in the pie shell. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate.