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Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe

Brown Butter Maple Stewed Plums with Cinnamon – plus a note on a short autumn break

I spent the last summer day slicing up the soon-to-be last-season plums and sautéed them in brown butter, cinnamon and maple syrup. Although it is sad to know that summer finally came to an end, but this silky, sweet and sour stewed plums has left me the most beautiful memory of our glorious summer. When I finished making this somewhat comforting and warm dish, I felt like I have done my part to conclude the past summer with the most appropriate mix of flavours. The wonderful thing about this recipe is it calls for only a handful of ingredients and it takes only a little time to make. This recipe is an adaptation of Martha Stewart’s stewed plums recipe, I replaced cardamon with cinnamon as that’s what I had at home. The first time I whipped it up quite quickly as a compliment to a rich, moist chocolate cake that we brought to a friend’s at tea time the other day, and it was hit. The soft tarty plums celebrates brilliantly the intense flavour of the bitter sweet chocolate cake, match made in heaven. The second time, I served the plums with simple whipped cream and fresh mint (pictured) which allowed the delicious plums to shine. I love both versions, and I imagine the plums will be amazing with pancake and as a luscious base for a buttery crumble.

As autumn is one of my favorite times of the year, I have decided to take a short break from the blog and really enjoy the season, spending sometimes in the nature, reading good books, visiting museums and eating lots of good food. I will use this break to prioritise a few plans that I have for the next years, to rearrange my daily work schedule. So I ask for your patient, and bear with me while I am absent. There are definitely a few exciting plans in the picture and hopefully, by the end of my month long break, I will have a better idea of where things are and bring in some fresh ideas and inspirations to the blog.

Until then.

Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe

recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

Ingredients:

serves 4-6

  • 550g ripe plums (I used a mixture of Damson and Friar), stoned and cut into wedges (or halves)
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp. ground vanilla (or vanilla paste)
  • 3 tbsp. of maple syrup
  • 1 small pinch of salt

Serving suggestion:

  • whipped cream
  • pancakes
  • ice cream
  • chocolate cake
  • topped with crumble

Melt the butter in a sauté pan and warm until butter is bubbling and turns slightly golden (but not burnt). Add the cinnamon stick and vanilla to the butter and remove from heat, let the mixture infused for 10 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove on medium heat, add the plums to spiced butter and sauté them for 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat and let the fruit stand for about 10 minutes. Serve warm with any of the suggestion above.

Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe

Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe

Chicken Meatballs and Fennel Braised in Miso Gochujang

These chicken meatballs are tender on the inside but firm and springy on the outside, if you care enough to ground your own meat, it tastes so much better than the ready-minced supermarket type, a little effort goes a long way. For the sauce, since I want something rich and spicy, I use a mixture of my favorite pantry staples: miso paste and Gochujang (Korean chili paste), this combination delivers a sharp umami taste with a spicy kick which works wonderfully well with the meatballs. In fact the sauce itself is quite flavoursome, so it becomes amazingly versatile, it makes wonder to all food wherever it is added (I literately use it on everything: salad, stew, marinade, stir fry, even just drizzle it on rice and noodles!) and it only takes a few minutes to whip up. My ‘go to sauce’ when I crave for something hearty and spicy, especially in cool autumn days.

Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables and it adapts well with various flavours without losing its own. Once cooked, its licorice taste became subtle enough not to overpowering but to compliment the others. I also love its texture, it is crunchy when raw but still remains a bite to it when it is cooked. It is one of the most used vegetables on my blog, absolutely great in salad, soup, stew, roast and many more. When I was planning this recipe early this week, fennel was the first vegetable which emerged in my head and I knew it would be the perfect side ingredient for this wonderful early autumn dish, and I was right.

Note: for the sauce: it seems a lot of liquid when you first added the stock to the pan, but the sauce will thicken up and reduce slightly when everything is cooked. Since I just plated up part of the dish for the photos, it doesn’t look like a lot of sauce there, but the amount of ingredients for the sauce should make plenty for the final dish.

Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 4

For the meatballs:

  • 650g minced chicken (free range or organic), ready minced or ground in food processor
  • 2 pieces (50g) of stale bread (I use gluten free toast bread), pulsed to crumbs
  • 4 stalks spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. brown rice flour (or all purpose flour), plus more for coating

For the Miso Gochujang sauce:

  • 1 heaped tbsp. Gochujang
  • 1 heaped tbsp. miso paste
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. runny honey
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 300ml good quality chicken stock

For the rest:

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalk removed and cut into wedges
  • 3 stalk spring onions, cut into about 8cm batons
  • 1 stalk spring onion, chopped (for garnish)
  • Steamed rice to serve
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all chicken meatball ingredients and mixed well. Prepare a plate of brown rice flour (or regular flour) on the side. Use your hands, form meatball as the size of a ping pong ball. Coat each meatball with brown rice flour as you go (the meat mixture is quite sticky so I found the flour helps to form into shape). This should make about 16-18 balls. Keep the meatballs in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up and help the taste to develop.

Make the miso gochujang sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients apart from the chicken stock in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.

When the meatballs is firm and ready, heat a frying pan or wok with about 2cm of oil in until hot. Add the meatballs carefully in the pan and brown them on all sides (you will have to fry them in batches). Turn the heat down to medium and cook the meatballs a little bit longer (careful not to burn them) until they are quite firm when you squeeze them with a tongs or chopsticks, about 5-8 minutes, turn them regularly. Transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper and continue with the rest.

Pour away any remaining oil (if any) and wipe clean the pan with kitchen paper, warm some oil in the pan and add the spring onion batons, fennel wedges and fry for a minute. Add the miso Gochujang mixture in the vegetables and stir and coat well. Then pour in the chicken stock, stir well and have a taste, adjust the seasoning. Bring to boil and add the meatballs, reduce to simmer (turn the meatballs twice during cooking so that they are evenly cooked in the sauce) with a lid for about 6-8 minutes or until cook through (you can test it by breaking up one of the meatballs and see if it it cooked through in the centre).

Transfer the meatballs and the sauce in a platter and garnish with the chopped spring onion and freshly ground black pepper, served with hot steamy rice.

 

Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Grilled Prawn, Fig and Summer Squash Salad in Harrisa Yogurt Dressing

I love the feeling of my teeth sink into a cold, plump fig from the fridge every late summer morning, the chill does a better job of waking me up than my strong Oolong tea. Beside that I feel especially nurtured eating them first thing in the morning, nothing too overwhelming for the empty stomach, just a hint of sweetness with the most delicate texture, and most importantly, it is packed with nutrients and a good source of fibre. I also love to add a few slices in my yogurt with honey and toasted coconut, or on my crispy toast with a spread of salty goat cheese and a drizzle of honey; bake them in buttery puff pastry with berries jam, or lay them on top of cake batter, bake until they turn dark burgundy and bursting with heavenly sweetness. I especially fond of adding them to salad, with torn mozzarella cheese and dry-cured ham, or with crumbled goat cheese and peppery rocket. So here it is for today, a humble experiment turns into a wonderful salad recipe. The fig provides a subtle sweetness for the whole dish, compliments brilliantly with the spicy Harrisa, garlic marinated prawns. The texture of this salad is balanced between creaminess and crunchiness, and finally the minty, spicy yogurt dressing ties every flavour and texture together, the end result is a delicious late summer salad that you will enjoy throughout this particular time of the year.

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipeGrilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe   Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipeGrilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Ingredients:

serves 2 (easily double)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (125ml) natural yogurt
  • 1 heaped tsp. harrisa paste (plus more if desire)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice (plus more if needed)
  • 1 heaped tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the prawn marinate:

  • 1 tsp. harrisa paste
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. garlic oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 14 raw tiger prawns
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 yellow courgette, sliced
  • 1/2 green courgette, sliced
  • 1 head of little gem lettuce, hand-torn into small pieces
  • 3 figs, halved and then quartered
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A large handful of fresh mint leaves

Peel the prawns, and gently rinse them with salted water, drain and then pat dry with kitchen paper. Add the prawns in the marinate, mixed well and set aside while you are preparing the rest of the dish.

Prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, have a taste, it should be spicy (you can add more harrisa paste if you like it extra spicy) and tangy, so adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Add generous amount of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper, a good glug of olive oil onto the courgette slices, heat a griddle pan until hot and grill the courgette until char marks formed and the vegetable starts to soften (about 3 minutes on each side), but do not over cook them, they should be a little crunchy but not soggy. Transfer them to a plate.

Assemble the salad (before you grill the prawns) by combine the lettuces, avocado, figs, grilled courgette slices and fresh mint leaves in a large salad bowl, set aside.

Brush the griddle pan with some olive oil and grill the prawns until cooked through, about a minute on each side. Transfer them to a salad bowl, then add the dressing, freshly ground pepper and an extra squeeze of lemon juice just before serving. Serve immediately.

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Arroz de Tomate – Portuguese Tomato Rice

As I was doing some research on Portuguese food for one of my writing projects, I came across a simple recipe which makes use of one of the most delicious summer produces – tomatoes – and they are in season currently and are sold abundantly. Although they are available all year round but the summer tomatoes are definitely more flavorful as they ripen beneath the summer sun, grow into pleasantly sweet, aromatic and succulent fruits that are bursting with flavour. It is hard to imagine not to enjoy these jewels as much as we can throughout the high of summer when they are at their best.

I remember how much I fond of many tomato based dishes in Portuguese/Macanese cuisine when I was growing up in Macau: Feijoada, tomato cream soup, stew seafood with chorizo, pan-fried whole fish then braised in rich tomato sauce (this was one of my mother’s specialties), etc. One of my absolute favorites was baked pork chop with rice (it is more like a local Macau special), long grain rice cooked perfectly in tomato paste and then topped with a crispy fried pork chop in breadcrumb, then covered with an extra layer of starchy tomato sauce, baked in the oven until crusty on top. The rice is toothsome and pairs well with the crispy yet tender pork chop, the top layer of tomato sauce is silky and pungent, just the right element to tie all the flavours beautifully together, this dish has been one of the most famous and beloved dishes in Macau food history.

A nostalgic memory turns into today’s wonderful recipe, a simple rice dish that is bursting with flavour of sun-ripen tomatoes, enriched by sweet onions, bay leaf and smokey bacon, every grain of rice has unapologetically absorbed the luscious tomato sauce. No wonder it is one of the most popular rice dishes in Portugal, which traditionally served as a side for meat or seafood. Although I quite like eating it just as it is for a no-fuss-meal and to fully appreciate its glorious taste; or top the rice with a perfectly fried egg and a side of buttered green beans for a more balance and satisfactory meal.

Note: My cooking method is by no mean traditional, I studied several methods and I came up with this version. I have done an extra step (versus the tradition way) after the rice is cooked on the stove: a 10-15 minutes grilled under the oven broiler will crisp up the top layer of the rice, enhancing the taste and the texture of the overall dish, it is a step that I highly recommend you take because it really worth the extra effort.

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Arroz de Tomate

Inspired by Portuguese tomato rice recipes from foodrepublic.com, about.com

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 500g ripe tomato (in season, otherwise, use can tomato)
  • 100g diced bacon
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tbsp. of ground sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml Chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 250g Basmati Rice, washed and drained
  • a small handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Olive oil

Serving suggestions

  • Fried egg
  • Green salad
  • Buttered green beans (or any green)

To prepare the tomato, slice an ‘x’ across the top and bottom of the tomatoes, put them into a heat proof bowl or small sauce pan, submerge the tomatoes with boiling water. Cover and stand for a minute. Transfer the tomatoes into ice water. Now careful peel off the skin and roughly chop the tomatoes (seeds and water/juice) and transfer them to a bowl, set aside.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a rimmed cast iron pan (or something similar that can be place under the oven grill), soften the onions and garlic on medium high heat for about a minute. Add bacon and fry for another couple of minutes until the bacon take on a nice brown colour.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, black pepper, paprika and bay leaf. Use a wooden spatula to break down some of the bigger tomato pieces and cover the pan with a lid, let the mixture, simmer in medium low heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir and break down any remaining larger tomato pieces once or twice during cooking.

Add the drained rice to the pan and mix them well with the tomato sauce. Pour in the hot chicken stock and combine everything well with the spatula. Bring to boil and then turn the heat down to simmer, covered and cook for about 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed by the rice. Turn the heat down to very low and let the rice sit and rest (covered) for a further 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven grill to high. Remove the lid from the pan and place it under the grill for 10-15 minutes or until the top of the rice is nice and crispy. Remove from the oven and scatter chopped  fresh basil on the rice.

Served as a side with meat or fish, or simply topped with a fried egg and a green salad to make it as a main dish.

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

 

 

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls served with Coriander Dipping Sauce

It is late summer, the sun is hanging low and casting long shadows. It is the most beautiful period of summer, I love the colour of the sunlight which seems somewhat richer, deeper, it makes everything looks more mature, like a person reaches his golden age. It is the time of harvesting, a sense of gathering and fulfillment. It is also the time to bottle up jam, marmalade; bake pies and pickle the lovely summer produce. I was lucky to have given some bottles of jam and confiture which were homemade by my friend’s aunt in a small french village, so I have spared myself the time of making any this year. And I want to enjoy this brilliant time of the year, so some days I will try not to spend too much time in the kitchen. Hence today’s recipe, minimum cooking but with big flavour.

Summer roll is one of the most versatile foods I know, and one of my favorites as well. It is refreshing, delicious and easy to make. One can fill the rice paper with vegetables, shell fish (the most common one), meat, and even fresh fruits; with various dipping sauce as desire. I have made this version which is one of the most popular dishes on my blog. I like to experiment with different filling and flavours. This particular recipe is a combination of a vietnamese beef noodle salad and a Thai mango salad wrapped in one roll. The tender beef and soft juicy mango contrast with crunchy carrot and cucumber, sweet, tangy, umami all in one setting. The soft herbs like mint, basil and the coriander in the dipping sauce enhance the overall flavour, so they should not be omitted. If you like a bit of heat, some chopped chilies added to the sauce will do the trick.

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe

Ingredients:

Makes 6 (easily double)

For the Beef marinade:

  • 250g beef filet, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

For the summer roll:

  • The beef (from above)
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 large cucumber (or one small), halved lengthwise, scoped the seeds out and ribboned with a vegetable peeler, drained on kitchen paper (or cut in matchsticks if prefer)
  • 100g dried rice noodles, cooked according to package instruction
  • 6 rice paper (plus more if needed)
  • handful of fresh mint
  • handful of basil (or Thai basil)

For the dipping sauce: (makes plenty, enough for 12 rolls)

  • 4 tbsp. fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. Agave syrup (or sugar)
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar

Marinate the beef with all marinade ingredients for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Set aside until served.

Char the beef in some vegetable oil on a cast iron pan or grilled pan until cooked, about 1-2 minutes, transfer the cooked meat on a plate and let it rest and cool.

To assemble the summer roll: dip the rice paper into a bowl of tepid water for 10 seconds. (the rice paper will keep absorbing water while you are assemble it, so don’t leave it too long in the water) Place the rice paper on a slightly wet flat surface or a large plate. Place some of each of the vegetables, noodles, beef and fresh herbs on the (lower) middle of the rice paper (see the instruction pictures from my other post).

Now fold the right and left side of the rice paper toward the middle and then fold the bottom side up. Roll with the ingredients up, until a ‘roll’ has formed. Depending on how much filling you put in each roll, the sizes of the rolls will vary. To prevent the finished rolls from drying out, use a cling film with a damp kitchen towel on top to cover the rolls while you are making the rest. Served with the coriander dip. These rolls are best served within one hour and keep them tightly wrapped before serving.

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe

 

Gluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipe

Almond Maple Plum Cake

This cake is moist on the inside with hint of vanilla, top of the cake is slightly crunchy flavoured with soft tarty plums. The sponge cake is shy of sweet which allow the maple saturated fruit to shine. Plum is sold in abundance at this time of the year, it is delicious both raw and cooked. In its raw form, the firm but juicy flesh is pleasantly sweet, it carries a floral note and sweet like honey. Its smell mirrors its wonderful taste and lingers on your fingers long after you held one. When cooked, sweetness turns into a nice tarty taste. It is almost unbearable to not take the advantage to include plum in your everyday menu, some days I wake up craving for a juicy plum with yogurt and homemade granola, or other days, I scatter them on salad and then topped with toasted nuts, or stew them quickly in vanilla syrup and serve warm with ice cream for dessert. But bake plum in cake is definitely one of my favorite ways to enjoy these late summer jewels.

This recipe is inspired by the Green Kitchen Stories’s rhubarb upside down cake. I adapted the recipe for the cake base and have altered a few things. After two attempts, I would say I am very happy with the result. Nothing better than having a piece of cake that tastes like summer with a cup of tea while bathing in the cosy late afternoon sun.

Gluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipe

Ingredients:

Served 8-10

Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories’s rhubarb upside-down cake

  • 100g butter (plus more for greasing)
  • 3 eggs, separated plus 1 egg white
  • 100g caster sugar, separated (50/50)
  • 200g ground almond
  • 75g buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla powder (or extract or paste)
  • 250ml buttermilk quark (or regular quark)
  • 500g (about 5-6 depends on the size) plum, halved, stoned and sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • icing sugar to serve

Preheat the oven at 180 degree celsius. Line a rectanglur brownie tin (20x23cm) or 22cm springform cake tin, with parchment paper, greased with butter. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine ground almond, buckwheat flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla powder. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream the butter and half the sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add sugar in three intervals and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and beat until everything is well combine. Stir in the quark and then the flour mixture.

Beat the egg white with 3 additions of the remaining sugar until soft peaks formed. Fold in the egg white into the cake mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tray and lay the plum slices on top. Spoon over the maple syrup on the plums. Bake in the preheat oven for 60 -70 minutes (test with a wooden skewer and it comes out clean when done), the top of the cake should be beautifully brown and the plums are soft but crispy on the edges.

Remove from the oven and leave the cake in the tin for a couple of minutes, then transfer the cake with the parchment paper on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

Cut into small rectangles and sprinkle with icing sugar when served. The left over cake should be stored in the fridge.

Gluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipe

 

braised mushroom and glass noodles with chili bean sauce recipe

Braised Mushrooms and Glass Noodles in Szechuan Chili Bean Sauce

There are several types of cellophane noodles, also known as ‘glass noodles’, are commonly used in Asian cuisine. The most popular one in Chinese kitchen is made of mung bean starch, others are made of sweet potato starch, arrowroot starch, potato starch, yum or cassava starch etc. One of my favorite childhood dishes was braise Chinese courgette (which is crunchier and mellower in taste than its European counterpart) with dried shrimps and mung bean noodles, it was one of the most humble but yet delicious Chinese dishes I know. Fresh courgette cooked in a light chicken (or vegetable) broth flavoured with dried shrimp and ginger, the mung bean noodles soak up the subtle sweet, umami flavours from the broth and give the dish a slightly chewy texture. It is nothing over the top about this dish but the taste is just comforting and delightful.

But I have to say from time to time, a good spicy dish is often the right taste to awaken your tastebuds, at least that is what I like to eat when I feel like my spirit needs a lift up. When I came across a pack of arrowroot noodles in my kitchen cupboard the other day and immediately I wanted to make something that reminds me of home but yet it can simultaneously give my tastebuds a good kick. I thought of my mother’s braised mung bean noodles with dried shrimp, but with a good spicy twist. So I turn to the jar of Szechuan chili bean sauce that I trust will bring exciting flavour to the dish. In fact, I took reference to a very popular Szechuan dish call ‘ants climbing up a tree’ which is made of minced pork, mung bean noodles and chili bean paste. The name came from the look of the dish: the minced meat clings onto the noodles that resembled ‘the ants on the twigs’. Whether one finds the name’s origin convincing or not, it is nevertheless one of the most famous dishes in Chinese cuisine.

As I somehow fancy a meatless version (and there are plenty of ‘ants climbing up a tree’ recipes one can find on the internet anyway), so I replace minced meat with mushrooms, the addition of dried shrimps not only gives the dish a slight crunch, but also enhances the overall flavour. I love serving it with rice which is how I remember it, but I am sure it will taste perfectly well on it own or even wrapped in lettuce leaves for a more refreshing taste. Your call.

Notes: arrow root noodles are highly absorbent, so the dish will come out dryer than other type of glass noodles. If you prefer the dish a bit saucy, then I will recommend using mungbean or sweet potato noodles.

braised mushroom and glass noodles with chili bean sauce recipebraised mushroom and glass noodles with chili bean sauce recipebraised mushroom and glass noodles with chili bean sauce recipebraised mushroom and glass noodles with chili bean sauce recipe

Ingredients:

serves 4

  • 100g dried arrow root noodles (or mungbean noodles)
  • 120g mixed mushrooms (I use Shiitake and Chestnut mushrooms), finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of dried shrimps, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drained and finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander (leaves picked and stems chopped)
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 heaped tsp. of Szechian chili bean sauce
  • 2 tsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 300ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. peanut (or ground nut) oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

To serve:

  • brown rice or Jasmine rice

Soak (not cooking) the glass noodles in boiling water for 5-8 minutes (depends on the brand of noodles, so please fellow the package instruction), drain and set aside.

Warm the vegetable and nut oil in a wok then add ginger and coriander stems, fry until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and dried shrimps and fry for another minute, then stir the chili bean sauce into the mushroom mixture. Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock and season with tamari and fish sauce. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, add the sesame oil now. Let the mixture/sauce simmer for about a minute.

Trim the drained glass noodles with scissors if they are too long and then add them into the sauce, stir continually until everything is combined well and the sauce is pretty much absorbed by the glass noodles. Turn off the heat and have another taste, add more tamari or fish sauce as desire.

Sprinkle the coriander leaves on the dish and transfer the noodles onto a serving platter. Served immediately with rice or on its own.

braised mushroom and glass noodles with chili bean sauce recipe

 

 

Roasted za'atar carrot with goat cheese, pistachio and promagranate dressing recipe

Roasted Za’atar and Sumac Carrots Salad

These carrots are roasted to perfection, flavoured with za’atar and sumac; a combined taste of tangy sweet and yet earthy and savory. Za’atar is a spice blend that originates in Middle East countries, such as Lebanon, Israel, Jordon, Palestine and Saudi Arabia; and also popular in some north African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia. Every country has their own blend of spices. The one I have (and I use here) is from Israel, it is a blend of dried oregano, white sesame, thyme, sumac, dill and salt, it has an intense earthy flavour with a hint of licorice note. It gives a wonderful taste to almost anything, I love to sprinkle it on egg of all kinds, or rub the spice on chicken and lamb then put straight onto the grill; scatter it on homemade hummus and baked pitta bread, to say the few examples. The other spice I use here is called Sumac, it is also native to the Middle East; a red coarse powder made from ground sumac berries. It has a floral tangy taste and it is also a lovely spice that is good on most things, such as vegetables, fish, meat and even as a delicious addition to salad dressing. I totally adore these spices and I am inspired to experiment more with them. This recipe is one great example of how these beautiful spices work brilliantly with the most simplest ingredients. The flavour of this salad is in a way complex: earthy, savory, sweet, tarty and licorice-y all on one plate. The sweet and sour pomegranate dressing ties every flavour together and the mint has given the salad a refreshing touch. Overall a delightful combination of flavours and textures, so easy to make and to say the least- heavenly.

Notes: I was given a few jars of homemade pomegranate jam which were made by my friend’s grandmother of Tunisian descent. These fingers licking jam are studded with pomegranate seeds which is perfect for making salad dressing, and it is exactly what I have done: I mixed a tablespoon of the jam with lemon juice and olive oil, the tartiness of the lemon juice goes nicely with the sweetness of the jam. But pomegranate molasses will work just as well, but since molasses will be less sweet and more on a tangy side, use less lemon juice and perhaps add some agave syrup to add more sweetness. Scatter some fresh pomegranate seeds to give the salad a more crunchy texture.

Roasted za'atar carrot with goat cheese, pistachio and promagranate dressing recipeRoasted za'atar carrot with goat cheese, pistachio and promagranate dressing recipeRoasted za'atar carrot with goat cheese, pistachio and promagranate dressing recipeRoasted za'atar carrot with goat cheese, pistachio and promagranate dressing recipeRoasted za'atar carrot with goat cheese, pistachio and promagranate dressing recipe

Ingredients:

Served 4

  • 700g carrot, peeled (or rubbed clean) and quartered lengthwise
  • 1.5 tsp. Za’atar
  • 1 tsp. Sumac
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Large pinch of sea salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 20g shelled toasted pistachio nut, roughly chopped
  • 50g Feta cheese
  • Handful of fresh mint, leaves picked and finely sliced (leave a few whole for garnish)
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp. of fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate jam (or pomegranate molasses)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (1 tbsp. of lemon juice if use molasses)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degree celsius.

Combine cut carrots, spices, olive oil, and seasoning on a large baking tray, mix well and then arrange the carrots in one layer.

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and then squeeze the lemon juice on top and mixed well. Transfer the carrots to a serving platter, set aside.

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients for dressing in a jar with a lid on, shake a few time until the dressing is well combined. Have a taste, it should be tangy and sweet at the same time.

To assemble the salad: crumble the feta cheese on top of the carrots, then chopped pistachio nuts, fresh mint and finally the dressing and fresh pomegranate seeds (if use). Served immediately.

The salad can also be made an hour ahead.

Roasted za'atar carrot with goat cheese, pistachio and promagranate dressing recipe

Wakame Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing recipe

Wakame Avocado Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing

Sesame sauce is hugely popular in Asian countries, I grew up eating steamed wobbly rice rolls topped with flavoursome sesame sauce for breakfast, one of my absolute childhood favorites. The other of my beloved dish is hand-torn chicken and julienned cucumber served with silky, sweet sesame sauce. In fact, I love everything with a toasted sesame flavour, so sesame oil becomes my definite pantry item, a drizzle here and a drizzle there, a natural flavour enhancer.

I was at my daughter’s school summer fair the other day and I was helping out at one of the food stalls. A fellow mother made summer rolls with a sesame dipping sauce which were so delicious that they sold out almost within just an hour. I was definitely spellbound by the smooth, delectable sauce that I didn’t hesitate to ask her for the recipe. She has given me the list of ingredients but I have to work out the quantities myself. So here is my version of the sesame sauce which I serve here as a salad dressing, and I hope you will like it and will make it again and again.

Note: you can use a blender instead of grounding the seeds by hand, but I don’t have a powerful blender so I use pestle and mortar instead. You can also use chicken/vegetable stock or dashi in place of water, which I will try for sure for my next batch of dressing.

wakame salad with toasted sesame dressing recipeWakame Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing recipeWakame Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing recipeWakame Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing recipeWakame Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 4

For the dressing:

  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup tamari (or regular soy sauce if not gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1.5 tbsp. agave syrup
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 8 tbsp. water (plus more if needed)

For the salad:

  • Dried wakame seaweed (1 tbsp. per person), rehydrated with water
  • avocado, peeled and chopped
  • cherry tomato, halved
  • radicchio, torn into small pieces (or chopped)
  • mixed lettuces
  • chopped cucumber (optional)
  • reddish, sliced (optional)

In a dry frying pan, toast the sesame seeds until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Transfer them to a pestle and mortar then ground, in batches, until they are mostly in powder.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients and mixed well. This dressing is a bit thicker than the usual salad dressing, but feel free to add more water (one tablespoon at a time) if you would like it thinner, but adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Add into the salad and mixed well.

 

 

 

Agedashi Nasu recipe

Baked Aubergine served in Dashi Broth – Almost Agedashi Nasu

Tender aubergine half bathed in a light warm broth, garnished with chopped spring onions and grated ginger. The flesh of the fruit which has saturated with the rich umami flavour from the broth just melts in the mouth. While the green young spring onion is providing a few fresh crunches, the grated ginger adds a raw, spicy excitement to the whole dish. It is how I remember its taste, the Agedashi Nasu (deep-fried aubergine served in dashi broth) which I first tasted in a Japanese restaurant a few weeks ago. It made such an impression to me that, by the second I left the restaurant, I decided to recreate it at home.

Note: as I have been trying to avoid deep frying food as much as I can, so the cooking method I use here is baking rather than the traditional deep-frying. It means less oily and less messy. Just brush enough oil on both sides (and the skin) of the aubergine slices, and they are good to go. Score the skins on the end-slices so it cooks evenly. Make sure you have the freshest aubergines for this dish as they tend to turn bitter when they are older. Traditionally, this dish is served at room temperature or cool, but I prefer it warm and served with steamed white rice which will soaked up all the flavours from the broth, makes a substantial full meal rather than a side.

Agedashi Nasu recipe

Agedashi Nasu recipe

Agedashi Nasu recipe

Agedashi Nasu recipe

Ingredients:

Served 4 (or 2 as a main with rice)

  • 2 medium aubergines, thinly sliced (about 6 slices per aubergine)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 thumb size ginger, grated
  • 1-2 spring onion, finely sliced

For the dashi sauce:

  • 300ml dashi stock (I use non-MSG granules)
  • 4 tbsp. Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 3 tbsp. mirin
  • 3 tbsp. sake
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar

To serve:

  • a handful of dried bonito flakes (optional)
  • Steamed rice

Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius. Line a baking sheet with baking paper, brush the aubergine slices with vegetable oil on both sides. Lay the slices on the baking try without overlapping. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the aubergines turn golden brown and soft.

While the aubergines are cooking, prepare the dashi stock: bring the water to boil and then add the right amount of dashi granules into the water until dissolved. Add tamari, mirin and sake, bring to boil for a minute and then removed from heat. Set aside.

When the aubergines are ready, transfer them to a small rimmed plate or baking tray in layers (see picture), pour in the dashi stock and let soak the aubergine in the hot stock, covered for about an hour.

When ready to serve, divide the aubergine into small plate (you can roll the slices up, see picture), pour in the dashi sauce, garnished with chopped spring onion and grated ginger, a pinch of dried bonito flakes if use. Served at room temperature or reheat the dashi sauce just before serving.

Agedashi Nasu recipe