This year, winter lasted forever, spring just settled in with sun-rain-rain-sun-rain-hot-cold-hot-cold-cold-cold and summer might last for a month! But that’s ok as the shorter it is, the more we will cherish it, right? =)
Spring and summer mean less cravings for comfy food, at least in my case, and more determination to stick to healthy diets. And also, we bought a healthy meal plan this week which tells us what to eat every day at every meal. This makes it sooo easy as we don’t need to think so hard about what to cook every day. Being organized and having a plan for the whole week with easy to prepare dishes is all it takes to eat healthier. It’s easy to say “let’s just eat out” when you are starving after work, and have nothing in the fridge and no idea what to cook!
So today I made a simple and quick salad using boiled quinoa, black beans, corn and zucchini.
Quinoa is known to be a superfood, filled with protein, various vitamins and minerals and the seeds look so pretty, but I don’t consume it enough. I think I still have the pack that I bought a year ago… I just forgot about it, until lately when I told myself repeatedly that I’m going to use it more in my recipes.
So here it goes!
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked corn
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup black beans rinsed from can
1 green onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
Freshly squeezed lime to taste
Boil water and cook the quinoa for 20 minutes or until you see the grains uncoil and they are soft.
Combine all ingredients with the cooked quinoa and mix.
Squeeze lime on top as desired
Salt and pepper and other spices (I used a bit of cayenne pepper, paprika and a little bit of tumeric) to taste!
Since last year, I’ve experienced 3 “Ahaa I wanna make dumplings!!” moments.
1. One Summer night, I watched “The Road Home“, a great love drama where Zhang Ziyi made yummy-looking dumplings for the man she loved, and that inspired me to try making dumplings. But I didn’t and eventually forgot about it.
2. In December, when I went back home to visit, my Mom made some great dumplings, and I made a mental note to myself that I would attempt making my own when I come back. But I still didn’t and again forgot about it.
3. Last Friday, I went to one of the best dumplings restaurants in town and I finally decided that I wasn’t going to wait and forget about it again. So I rushed to the Chinese store the next day and got all the ingredients.
Perhaps I always thought that making dumplings is complicated and takes a long time, but it’s actually easier than we think. But I also didn’t make my own dumpling wrappers. I just bought them at the store for $2. I’m not a big fan of using flour and making dough… and I don’t know if I will ever be.
30 round dumpling wrappers
1 lb ground pork
1 pack pickled vegetables, finely chopped
1 cup mini Bok Choy, finely chopped (optional, for veggie lovers)
1/2 cup of green onions
1/2 tsp grated ginger, minced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp white and black pepper
Put ground pork in a big bowl with soya sauce, sesame oil, pickled vegetables, mini Bok Choy, green onion, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, pepper and mix all ingredients well together.
Place a dumpling wrapper in your palm and spoon about a teaspoon of filling in the middle. Dip one finger into a bowl of water and cornstarch mix and wet the edge of the wrapper.
Bring up the bottom side of the wrapper, fold up and press to seal the dumpling. This blog explains the folding process really well, with close up images for each step.
Place the dumpling on a plate and repeat the process until the filing is over.
There are 4 ways to cook the dumplings.
You can steam the dumplings for 20 minutes.
You can cook them for 8-10 minutes in hot boiling water.
You can pan-fry the dumplings in a pan with a little bit of oil for about 2 minutes per side, then pour 1 cup of water, cover and cook until tender, for about 5-7 minutes. Serve with soya sauce mixture, or hot chilli sauce.
You can also make a soup with the dumplings and add some green leaves or noodles in.
Note: The pickled vegetable adds a very nice flavour to the dumplings! Since it is quite salty in nature, be careful not to use too much soya sauce or salt in the dumpling mixture. Anyway you can dip the dumplings in soya sauce before eating if they lack a bit of taste.
On a nice Saturday morning, you wake up late, when the sun is so high in the sky and you feel unbelievably hungry. You open the fridge to see what good food you could have and realize there’s just nothing… You see a few eggs left, some mushrooms, a cucumber and some leftover plain rice from the night before. You open the freezer and see a little bit of frozen Edamame and corn. Then it all clicks in your head, and you know exactly what you should make for a comforting quick and easy brunch: STIR-FRIED RICE!
Frozen Edamame beans
Salt and pepper
Fill a small pot of water and wait till it boils
Add the frozen Edamame beans with some salt and cook for 3-4 minutes
When done, let it cool a bit, then remove the beans from their pods(shells) and keep them in a bowl
Lightly beat the eggs with salt and pepper in a bowl
Heat your wok and add 2 tablespoons of oil, and when hot enough, pour the egg in to make an omelette
Tear the omelette with your spatula into small pieces and remove from wok
Turn the heat up on the stove; add oil again and fry your garlic until lightly brown (garlic is optional)
Toss the frozen corn, mushrooms, cucumber in the wok and stir fry for a few minutes
Add some salt and pepper
Add the cooked rice, preferably from the night before and mix everything thoroughly together with some soy sauce until all ingredients and rice are well blended
Add the omelette egg back into the pan. Mix again and spread some minced spring onions on the rice.
How to make good rice:
Bring 2 1/4 cups water to boil in medium saucepan. Add rice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until water is absorbed, for about 20 minutes. It’s best to use rice that was made the day/night before because freshly cooked rice would be too hot, soft and sticky… unless you like your stir-fried rice mushy
Well well well… Haven’t been cooking much lately because of my hectic schedule; and when I did, I didn’t spend time writing down the recipe or taking any pictures. So, to make up for it, here’s another simple and easy recipe. It’s called Ants Climbing a Tree in one of my recipe books, but it’s essentially stir-fried vermicelli with ground meat and chilli bean paste.
On another note, I’m going back home for a month in a few weeks, and I plan to learn a lot recipes from my Dad, who is a great Chef and my Mom who is a “health freak”! I definitely will be documenting everything in photos and in writing and hope to publish more posts in the next few months to share with the world!
4 oz/115 g ground pork
4oz/115 g ground beef
3 tsp light soy sauce
pinch of salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chilli bean sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3/4 cup hot chicken stock
5 oz/140 g thin rice noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and drained
2 scallions, finely chopped
Combine the ground meats with 1 teaspoon of the light soy sauce and the salt.
In a preheated wok or deep pan, heat the oil and cook the ground meats until they begin to brown.
Add the chilli bean paste and stir rapidly.
Stir in the dark soy sauce.
Pour in the chicken stock, noodles and remaining light soy sauce.
Cover the work or pan and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, or until the pan is dry.
A dish inspired by Gordon Ramsay’s Aubergine Caviar recipe…
I still remember the first time I tasted a roasted eggplant dip made by Tommy, it was like heaven! Yes heavenly delicious! A few friends and I were spending the weekend at a cottage up-north; the poor guy was spending more than 1 hour in the kitchen making this dish, as it takes 30-40 minutes for the eggplants to bake in the oven – while the rest of us were enjoying ourselves in the hot jacuzzi outside in the freezing cold winter. So I told myself that when I make the dish one day, I refuse to go through this kind of long process. In fact, I rarely use the oven to cook. I’m just not fan of the idea of waiting that long and using that much electricity. So I decided to adapt this Ramsay recipe to my own style! I don’t know if it tasted as good as his version, but it sure tasted yummy enough!
1 large sized Aubergine/Eggplant, cut into small cubes
1 package of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
Fresh basil leaves, chopped thinly
Dry parsley leaves
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper
When the pan is hot, pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and brown the tofu.
Remove the tofu from the pan after they turned slightly golden brown and set aside.
Add another 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and fry the garlic.
Add the aubergine cubes and cook them until they become a bit soft – for about 7 minutes.
Add a bit of water in between to keep it moist.
Throw in the browned tofu and stir.
Toss the basil leaves, dry parsley leaves in.
Let it cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
We made two wonderful 12-inch vegetarian gluten-free pizzas that evening. The crust turned out to be really thin; and let me tell you something: you cannot go wrong with sun-dried tomatoes and cheese!! =)
1 pack of Gluten Free Pizza crust Mix (Bob’s Red Mill) 453g
1 pack of Yeast
1 1/2 cup of warm water
2 tbps of Olive Oil
1 can of tomato sauce
2 packs of Parmesan Cheese
Preheat oven to 425F
In a large bowl, combine water and yeast
Let stand a few minutes
Add eggs and oil to mixture and blend briefly
Add Gluten free Pizza Crust Mix and blend until combined
Leaving dough in a bowl, split in half, cover and allow to rise for 20 minutes
Place dough on greased pizza pans
Using wet hands, speed out dough to cover the full pizza pan
Bake without toppings for 7-9 minutes
Remove from oven, cover with favorite sauce and toppings
Eggplants (Aubergines) are known for its deep purple color and unique taste and texture (bitter and spongy?). So it’s really important to know how to cook them! Well, with the help of an excellent cooking assistant, I was able to execute this great Eggplant Gratin! =)
Onions, finely chopped
Garlic cloves, finely chopped
Eggplants, thickly sliced
Fresh Parsley, chopped
Canned chopped tomatoes
Preheat oven to 400F
Heat the oil in a casserole over medium heat
Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft
Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds
Transfer the onion mixture to a plate
Cook the eggplant slices in batches in the same casserole until they are lightly browned
Transfer to another plate
Arrange a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of the baking dish
Sprinkle with parsley, thyme and salt and pepper
Add a layer of onion, tomatoes and mozzarella, sprinkling parsley, thyme and salt and pepper over each layer
Continue layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant slices
Sprinkle with the Parmesan
Bake, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the eggplant slices are tender. Serve hot.