Black Bean (flour-less) Brownies

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When I stumbled on this brownies recipe on one of the favourite food blogs, my instant reaction was –> (O.o) Then I thought… well maybe this is not so weird because I know my Mom uses black/red beans to make Chinese pastries. Since I’m a beginner in baking, and only learned how to bake muffins so far, I thought why not give this a try and see how they turn out. I had nothing to lose really, apart from perhaps making some odd tasting brownies for my boyfriend and colleagues in honour of Valentine’s day! :P

Well, the verdict is that the brownies turned out very decent; they tasted very much like brownies, and you don’t even have to use flour or butter – just a tiny bit of oil! And it’s super easy to make! So if you’ve never made this kind of brownies before, why don’t you give it a try sometime? :)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground/instant coffee
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat the over to 350° F
  • Grease a non-stick baking pan with some baking spray
  • Line the pan with parchment paper

For the next steps, you can use a blender to mix all the ingredients, but if you don’t have one like me:

  • Pour the black beans in a mixing bowl and smash them well
  • Add the eggs, cocoa powder, sugar, milk, balsamic vinegar, oil, baking powder, baking soda and ground/instant coffee
  • Mix everything together well
  • Add in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and combine
  • Pour the brownie batter into the pan
  • Sprinkle the other 1/2 cup of chocolate chips on top
  • Bake for about 30 minutes
  • Use a toothpick to see if it comes out (quite) clean
  • Remove the pan from the oven to let them cool
  • Slice them into squares

Voilà!!!

Quinoa Black Beans Salad

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.

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So here it goes!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Enjoy!

My First: Pork and Pickled Vegetable Dumplings

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. :P

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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.
  1. You can steam the dumplings for 20 minutes.
  2. You can cook them for 8-10 minutes in hot boiling water.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Cheers! =)

Stir-Fried Rice

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! ;)

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Ingredients

  • Rice
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Chopped mushrooms
  • Spring onion
  • 3 eggs
  • Frozen Edamame beans
  • Frozen corn
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil
  • Soy sauce

Instructions

  • 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.

Tadaaaaaaaaaaa! :D

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 :P

Ants Climbing a Tree

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”! :D 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!

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.
  • Shake the pan but do not stir.
  • Toss in the scallions and serve.

Quasi-Roasted TofuBergine

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! :D 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!

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions:

  • 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.
  • Serve with toasts, or rice.

Enjoy! :)

Stir-Fried Brocolis

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium heads of brocoli, cut into florets
  • 1 bunch Chinese brocoli, trimmed
  • 2 tbps of light soy sauce
  • 1 tbp cornstarch
  • 1 tbp of superfine sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbp of toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

Instructions:

  • In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil until almost smoking.
  • Stir-fry the brocolis for 4-5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and garlic.
  • Add the mixture to the brocoli.
  • Cook over gentle heat, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce
  • thickens slightly.
  • Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the sesame seeds, and serve
  • immediately.