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Iron chef pear continues…

Matsutake’s the much loved and famed “pine mushroom” are highly prized in Asian cuisine. Here in the Northwest we are lucky to have them growing in our own backyard. Hunting grounds are well kept, jealously guarded secrets, and issues have been known to happen between amateur and commercial pickers.

This year I had the fortune of being gifted a large bag by a friend. Double happiness!! I love mushrooms and have cooked extensively with Shitake’s which are similar in texture and firmness, and also delicious.

This recipe would be considered a travesty by real aficionados, as these mushrooms’ delicate, cinnamony scent is what all the fuss is about. Traditional recipes are brothy or ricey to fully showcase the aroma of the main act. Google “Matsutake Gohan” and you’ll find loads of recipes with this guy in a fine fish and Kombu broth, served in a teapot to preserve the steam until the moment your nose is ready to receive it.

In addition to their tastiness, these meaty mushrooms are purported to have numerous health benefits including improved cardiac and anti- tumor functions.

This soup was even more than double happiness because I had this leftover turkey, pear and onion gravy that I used for the base. Nice!

**Feel free to substitute other mushrooms and even apples for the pears.

From scratch version

1 organic pear diced

Half an organic onion diced

Vegetable or chicken stock

Rice vinegar to taste (about 4 tablespoons)

2 large matsutake muchrooms diced (about 2 cups)

Salt and pepper to taste (I use plenty of both of these)

1 tsp Chili flakes or garlic chili sauce

OR

Pear gravy version

1 quart (roughly) left over pear gravy from “Pear onion turkey wings in the slow cooker” (Smooth or lumpy, no matter).

Chicken stock to desired thickness (about 3 cups)

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Many of you know that I have a pear tree. Every year it produces abundantly and I have an Iron Chef Pear competition with myself. Joel helps out as well and it’s pretty fun.One of my best “invented” recipes to date is this soup. Feel free to vary the spices according to your taste. ( Less garlic and no chilies for those less inclined toward spice.)

2 large organic onions diced

2-3 medium organic pears cut in to 1/2 in. pieces

2 tablespoons butter

32 fl. oz. organic chicken stock (or veggie stock)

3 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon dried chilies

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and butter over low to medium low heat until translucent ( Do not brown) I like to salt my onions a little too.

Add pears and garlic, and cook for 10 min.

Add chicken stock and dried chilies. Simmer for 1 hour uncovered, stir every 10 or so minutes. If you like a thicker soup use an immersion blender and pulse until desired consistency.

Variations: Add chicken for a rich stew, garnish with fresh fried sage or toasted walnuts.

Commentary:

This soup is perfect for fall not just because pears are in season. Autumn is the metal time of the year. Time to letting go, pulling inward,of pruning off that which is no longer fills us with life. It’s time to store up food and prepare for the coming winter.

In “Healing with Whole Foods”,Paul Pitchford says, “Everything in nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward. Leaves and fruits fall, seeds dry, and the sap of trees goes into the roots.The earth’s grasses start to lose their deep green color turning lighter and drier.”

In Chinese Medicine the organs associated with the Metal element are the lungs and large intestine. It is a good time strengthen the immune system and regulate digestion for vitality. These organs can be easily damaged by “dryness” and pears are protective and nourishing. Cooling, sweet and slightly sour in nature they eliminate mucus, ease a dry cough and moisten the lungs and throat. They can be slightly cloying for the digestion which is why the onions are the perfect addition.

Onions are powerful immune system boosters. Again according to Pitchford, they are traditionally used to ease coughs and bronchial aliments, lower cholesterol, treat dysentery, induce sweating, inhibit allergic reactions, and as a cure for the common cold.

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I’ve compiled 3 more days of what I plan eat.  I’ll shop for these ingredients tonight so I have them on hand in the coming days, but what I acutally eat might be different.  I plan on making plenty of Black Bean Soup and a couple of the other recipes, so if I get home late or don’t feel like preparing a lunch to take to work, I’ll eat left-overs.  Here’s my menu (and let me know what you think via the Comments):

 

 

Breakfast: Mediclear Smoothie

Mid-morning Snack: 1 apple

Lunch: Beet Salad (see Handout) AND Quinoa Pilaf (see HO) AND Oven Roasted Chicken (left over from last night’s dinner)

Mid-afternoon Snack: Celery sticks with Almond Butter AND Grapes AND 2 scoops Mediclear in Juice or water

Dinner: 4 oz. Baked Salmon AND ½ c. basmati brown rice AND ½ baked sweet potato with 1 tsp maple syrup AND ½ cup snow peas, sautéed with garlic and oil

Thursday

 

Breakfast: Mediclear Smoothie

Mid-morning snack: 1 banana with almond butter

Lunch: 2 scoops Mediclear in water or juice AND Mixed Green Salad with shredded carrot, cucumber slices, walnut halves, and olive oil and organic apple cider vinegar vinaigrette.

Mid-afternoon snack: raw vegetables (e.g. carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) and Bean Dip (see recipe in Handout)

Dinner: Mediclear in water or juice AND Black Bean Soup (see recipe in Handout) AND 1 cup steamed cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and pepper

Friday

 

Breakfast: Mediclear Smoothie

Mid-morning Snack: 1 pear or apple AND 1 handful almonds or cashews

Lunch: 2 scoops Mediclear in juice or water AND Chickpea Mango Salad (see recipe in Handout) AND ½ cup quinoa or basmati rice w/ drizzled olive oil and/or tamari

Mid-afternoon Snack: raw vegetables and bean dip from yesterday’s snack

Dinner: 2 scoops Mediclear in juice or water AND Quinoa Stir Fry

 


1/3 cup quinoa 4 large Kale leaves, chopped

2/3 cup plus ½ cup filtered water 2 large carrots, chopped

1/8 tsp salt 2 cups chpped broccoli (heads and stem)

1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp mustard seeds Dash of sea salt or wheat-free tamari

½ tsp whole cumin seeds ¼ cup raisins and/or ¼ cup chopped

1 med. onion, chopped almonds (optional) for garnish

In a smaill saucepan, bring quinoa and 2/3 cup cwater, and 1/8 tsp salt to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a deep, large pan over medium heat, sauté mustard and cumin seeds in olive oil until mustard seeds pop. Add onions, and sauté on low heat until onions soften.

Immediately add kale, carrots, broccoli, and ½ cup filtered water. Saute 3 – 5 minutes on low to medium heat, till the vegetables are crips-tender. Add remaining ingredients; combine all in a large bowl with cooked quinoa.

That’s all for now.  Let me know how things are going for you.

Eric Nissen, ND

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