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! ­čśŤ

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? ­čÖé

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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!!!

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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. ­čśŤ

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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,┬ácornstarch, 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! ­čśë

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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┬áomelette
  • 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┬áthoroughly┬átogether 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┬áonions on the rice.

Tadaaaaaaaaaaa! ­čśÇ

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 ­čśŤ

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! ­čśÇ 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! ­čÖé

Vegetarian Gluten Free Pizza

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!! =)

Ingredients:

  • 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 Eggs
  • 2 tbps of Olive Oil
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 2 packs of Parmesan Cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Peppers
  • Parsley

Instructions:

  • 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
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes

Eggplant Gratin

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! =)

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Onions, finely chopped
  • Garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Eggplants, thickly sliced
  • Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Dried thyme
  • Canned chopped tomatoes

Instructions:

  • 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┬álightly 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┬áand 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┬áeggplant slices are tender. Serve hot.

Sushi – Maki Rolls

If there’s one type of food that I need to pick to eat for the rest of my life, it would probably be sushi! ­čśŤ Well I’ve never really tried to eat sushi everyday, but I like it so much that I feel I can eat it everyday. That’s lots of carbs though… Anyhow I’ve always wanted to make sushi at home, but getting the rice right was the part that scared me the most, so I’ve always been delaying it, until my birthday this year, I finally gathered all my courage, coupled with the encouragement and enthusiasm of my awesome friend Sarah. We finally got around to making them for my birthday evening.

We decided to keep it simple, since it was our first attempt. So there was no fresh fish, instead we used smoked salmon.

 

 

Ingredients: Japanese Rice, Rice Vinegar, Salt, Sugar, Seaweed (nori), Avocado, Mango, Cuccumber, Crab sticks, Smoked salmon, Japanese Omelette, Lettuce leafs (Arugula), Sesame seeds, Wasabi, Soya sauce

Instructions:

  • Measure 2 cups of sushi rice (Enough for 4 rolls)
  • Rinse the rice well under running water until water is almost clear (not milky white anymore)
  • Drain the rice in a sieve and leave it for about 15-20 minutes
  • Add 2 1/4 cups of water and let the rice soak for a bit
  • Add the pot of rice to the stove and bring it to boil over medium heat
  • Lower the heat and let it cook for 10 more minutes
  • Apparently it is important to open the lid while the rice is cooking
  • Remove the pot from the stove and let it rest
  • Open the lid and let it cool down
  • When it is warm and not hot anymore, move the rice to a big bowl or plate
  • Add 1/4 cup of sushi vinegar, sugar and salt and mix well with a wooden spoon
  • Fan the rice while mixing

When the rice has cooled down to room temperature, it is now time to make the sushi makis.

  • Put a seaweed sheet (nori) on a rolling mat, with the rough side facing upwards
  • Dip your hands in water
  • Take a handful of rice and place it in the middle of the nori sheet and start spreading equally everywhere
  • Add any ingredient you want to use (could be slices of avocado, mango and salmon)
  • Roll the maki, press, and roll again to ensure it’s tight and smooth
  • Use a sharp wet knife to cut the roll into little pieces

You’re done!! Dip in soya sauce and wasabi mix and enjoy!

P.s My favorite roll was the Mango Avacodo Smoked salmon roll! It was very flavourful!
If you want to pack some rolls for lunch the next day, make sure to not cut the rolls yet, and make the rice a little softer, otherwise it will be dry and hard the next day.