Showing posts with label Asian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asian. Show all posts

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Buckwheat + Carrot Salad with Ginger and Sesame

This salad feels so summery to me, which suits my longing for the warmer days of spring and summer. We had a not so cold winter so far here, almost no snow the entire november/december/january - which means that those winter months were mostly just dark and dreary, without the snow that serves as a natural reflector and those wonderful blue skies that sometimes come with it.
Consequently I am longing for the warmer days of spring and summer, and I feel like this salad of buckwheat and carrots can sort of satisfy my fantasy of a picknick in a park on a warm summer night (a picknick I actually never have, not even in summer, but it just sounds so dreamy)
The buckwheat that went into this salad had been in my kitchen way too long before I used it today, me always lacking inspiration on what to do with it. Maybe you have a deserted bag of buckwheat groats in your pantry, too? Despite never cooking it, I actually really like the taste buckwheat has. Since they logically taste like Soba noodles (which are made with buckwheat flour), I decided to pair the cooked buckwheat with what I consider Japanese ingredients (ginger, soy sauce, scallions, sesame), though I don't actually know what I am talking about.
And with that, I had a summer fantasy in a bowl for dinner and feel optimistic that summer is near (Michael proclaimed February 1st the beginning of summer, and I am inclined to view it that way, too.)

Are you looking forward to summer, too? Or are you happy in the cold of winter?

Buckwheat Carrot Salad with Ginger and Sesame

1/2 cup uncooked buckwheat
3 carrots
1 scallion
1 knob of ginger, the size of half your thumb or so, grated
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds

Start cooking the buckwheat in plenty of lightly salted water. Drain when tender, after about 20 minutes and set aside to cool.
Roast the scallion either in the oven (mine was already on) or in a cast iron skillet until slightly charred and tender. Cut into slices
Cut the carrots into ribbons, using a vegetable peeler.
Mix the buckwheat, carrot ribbons and the scalllion slices in a bowl (or in the pan you cooked the buckwheat in) and add the grated ginger and the soy sauce.
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until the white seeds start to brown. Add to the salad and mix.

Serves 2-3.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vegetarian Pho with Shiitake Broth

Tonight I decided to skip going to the cinema with Michael and stay home alone instead, putting very old pictures into my photo album (Hello 2010 me, you look sooo young!), choosing more pictures to order so the new album does not end in 2011 (eventhough that is an improvement to 2009), making myself a cocktail (more on than later) and just generally doing what I really want today.
This living together thing is sometimes a balancing act, with being too close and simultaneously not spending enough real time together (compared to sitting next together but me checking out Instagram and Michael reading the news) and to be honest I (or we) don't naturally gravitate to a balance that makes us really content.
There is this expectations towards relationships that they should be easy or else you are with the wrong person, but over the last few months I came to realize for myself that easy when it comes to relationships means safe and a bit boring first, but can turn to just mostly weigh you down and make you silently unhappy. And I am not really speaking of my relationship with Michael, though we do not just have a wonderfully easy and always peaceful perfect relationship.
I have been quiet here the last few months after returning from our trip to South America and I think it has to do with the fact that everytime I start writing I seem to only want to write about the end of the relationship of my parents last summer, but have felt like it is inappropriate to write about here. My mom moved out of our home last July while I was away in Cuba and since then most of what I think about concerns the question where my home is now and what I can learn from their relationship that did not work out in the end. (My conclusion is basically that if you follow the principles outlined in this book you'll have a lot of work in front of you but things should turn out fine).
And it is in this spirit that I decided to have a lazy evening at home (not taking a bath because that only sounds relaxing but just bores me) cooking this soup (a soup I have been thinking of since Deb posted her Chicken Pho almost two weeks ago) and choosing photos to order so as to be a happier person tomorrow, and in consequence a better partner, too.

And the soup turned out as lovely as I imagined it to be those two weeks ago. I have made vegetarian broths before, with kitchen scraps as Tamar Adler suggests in An Everlasting Meal but was never too happy about it. It did not seem worth the trouble of steaming up our whole kitchen when it came to flavour. I guess I overdid it with the vegetables, the heat and the cooking time (Oops). This broth, though? It is really really good, so good that I drank a whole bowl full of just the plain broth right before doing my dishes, leaving me overly full but so satisfied. I used to not be a huge fan of Shiitake mushrooms, but here I came to love them - they are meaty and mushroomy and strong but addicting tasting and make a broth that has a clear simple flavour, like I always wanted vegetarian broth to taste but never actually have tried before.
The spices you use in the broth give it only a subtle flavour, so I can imagine using any leftover broth in ways not related to Vietnamese cooking, with which I am trying to say you should probably make more than just what you need for the Vegetarian Pho if you go through the troubles of making broth from scratch (especially if you have more space in the freezer than we do, with our ice supply and a fondue mix that together fill up 1/2 of our tiny freezer).

When it comes to the add ins for the pho, I went without mung bean sprouts because we already have our fridge full of veggies we seem to have no time to eat this weekend, but I think they would be lovely if you can get them. The cilantro and lime are essential, in my opinion, anything else is up to you.

Vegetarian Pho with Shiitake Broth
Adapted from the chicken pho that Deb Perelman posted earlier this January, which was barely adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan.
Note: You don't need to use more shiitake for the broth, but I really loved them in the soup, which makes me think that next time I am going to cook additional shiitake with just a little water so I would not have to share 7 mushrooms between 6 people. For more ideas for garnishes and a recipe for crispy shallots to top the soup with, go to Deb's post on Chicken Pho. (I did not want to deal with frying shallots just for myself though so I just went without and was absolutely happy with my soup)

for the broth:
2 onions, peeled, halved
3 slices of fresh ginger, smashed (about 1/2 inch thick)
7 dried shiitake mushrooms (that is what I used and I found the flavour of the broth to be just right, but one more or less wont make that much of a difference I guess)
2 star anise
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp szechuan pepper
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 small pieces kombu seaweed (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce 

for the pho:
300g dried rice noodles
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 scallion, thinly slices
2 limes, cut into wedges
hoisin sauce

Either char the halfed onions and the ginger slices over the flame of your gas range or preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C, place onion halfes and ginger slices on slightly oiled baking sheet and roast until softened and slightly blackened for about 30 minutes.

Add 4 quarts of water, the onions, ginger, shiitake, the spices, salt, sugar and the kombu in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, lower the heat and let gently simmer for at least an hour.

Before serving, strain the broth, setting aside the shiitake to add back in later. Add the soy sauce to the broth and adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more salt as you see fit.

Prepare the noodles: In a seperate pan, heat enough water to cover the noodles and prepare them according to the directions on the package. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Right before serving, reheat the broth, prepare all your garnishes, divide the noodles and scallion slices among 6 (large) bowls, ladle the broth over the noodles and top with your garnishes. (In fact, only use part of your garnishes in the beginning and add more as you eat so as to keep the herbs fragrant and any sprouts you might be using slightly crunchy)

Serves 6.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chou Grillé + Spain

I started this post back in December, when I thought it was strange of me to post a salad recipe just before Christmas when everyone (including myself, obviously) is eating way too much. And then I left Switzerland to visit Spain (Bilbao, Madrid and a few smaller places inbetween) and ate so.much! Spain is not the best country to travel to as a vegetarian, but we always found something to eat, and had a few wonderful Pintxos in Bilbao that I think I want to recreat now that I am home. (I still have to get over my reluctance to deep frying for that though, it is a miracle the Basque don't also fry the bread that is the base for all the lovely pintxos they serve)

But now I am back home, and craving salad and greens and vegetables and good pasta like a crazy person. I am not one to make New Year's resolutions, mostly because I know I can in no way ever keep them, so please don't look at this sort of kale salad as something you have to get yourself to eat now that it is January and the pants are tight and you are starting to plan your summer holidays.
This salad of sorts is the other gem Amy, Nicole and I had at Le Mary Celeste back in November in Paris and it is one of the best things I ate last year. Carrots and cabbage are such humble ingredients, but together with the spicy dressing the taste anything but virtuous. This is a dish I think about often, you really should give this a try!

Roasted Kale and Carrots in Chili Bean Sauce
Note: Adjust the amount of chili bean sauce depending on how spicy you like it. And as you see in the title, this dish was originally called chou grillé, so if you have any way of grilling the carrots and cabbage, please give it a try. I don't so I did not test it, but I imagine you'll have to precook the carrots and cabbage for a bit longer to avoid having charred carrots that are still hard inside.

1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into pieces about 3-4 cm long (if they are huge, you might want to cut the pieces in half or quarters)
1 pound kale or savoy cabbage, the cabbage leaves cut into strips (I actually preferred the cabbage version I made the first time, but kale is lovely too)

1 tbsp chili bean sauce
1 tbsp chinkiang vinegar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Start with bringing a pot of salted water to boil and precooking first the carrots for 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and then the cabbage for 1 minutes.  Let them cool down and dry before proceeding.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Add the carrots and cabbage to a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and salt massage the olive oil into the leaves of the cabbage. Put the vegetables on a baking sheet and roast until the carrots are fairly brown (for about 40 minutes). If the cabbage leaves seem to be getting to dark, remove them and finish roasting them.
In the meantime, wisk together the chili bean sauce, the vinegar and the soy sauce.
In a small skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds until you hear them pop.

While the carrots and the cabbage are still warm, drizzle on the dressing and mix well. Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds and serve.

Serves 4 or so as a salad.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Roasted Delicata Squash with Chinese Flavours

I think this is the appropriate moment to thank Katie and Luisa for introducing me to Fuchsia Dunlop. I love to think of myself as someone who is into reading food writing but honestly, I don't really know all the great food writers everyone else seems to know. Expect for M. F. K. Fisher, whom I just adore, I have not read any of the classics and I also don't know the more recent writers.
So I have never ever heard of Fuchsia Dunlop before reading Katie's post a while ago (which made me turn to amazon and order her most recent book Every Grain of Rice)
Dunlop really is a wonderful writer, and as Luisa pointed out in her post about one of Dunlops recipes, she can make stinky fermented tofu and slippery sea urchins sound so intriguing you want to run out to buy everything you need to make these dishes.
And ever since receiving the book, I can't seem to stop myself from trying her recipes or just infusing just about anything with Chinese flavours. And that eventhough I haven't done much Chinese cooking so far, but her book shows such a different kind of Chinese cuisine than what I am used to from Chinese restaurants here.

Today I made her mapo dofou recipe, which you can find at the guardian and this delicata squash to go with it. I have actually never bought Delicata squash before, but now that I tried it, I don't think I'll ever turn back. I love its delicate sweetness and the fact that you don't have to peel it. Yay. Just cut it into slices, remove the seeds, brush a little olive oil on the slices and throw them in the oven.

Once roasted, I just topped it of with a sprinkle of Szechuan pepper a drizzle of Chinkiang vinegar and chili oil and some finely sliced scallions. And then I ate almost all of the squash myself, leaving only a few slices to Michael who got home from university later.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Chinese Flavours

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Slice a delicata squash into rounds and remove the seeds. Brush the sices with a mixture of 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the squash is browned in places and tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/2 tsp roasted, ground szechuan pepper on top, then drizzle on 1 tbsp of Chinkiang vinegar and 2 tsp szechuanese chili oil. Finely slice the green part of a scallion and scatter over the squah.

For the chili oil, you can buy chinese chili oil, but it is hotter than szechuanese chili oil (so you might want to use less) or follow Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thai Coconut Soup

I hope you all had a really lovely Christmas, with lots of good food, laughter and a little too much sugar.
I spent Christmas at my parents' house with my brothers and sister, my parents and grandmother, and every year we have a pretty calm and peaceful evening together. I meant to come back online to wish you all a Merry Christmas, but then I found myself off the net for the most part of the last few days.
I did some cooking, too. I prepared the nut loaf on Sunday, still in my kitchen, and while it smelled really lovely here, I was not that happy with it after reheating. The recipe still needs some tweaking before I feel good about sharing it with you. I expect a lot from my vegetarian meat loaf, and right now I am not confident that everyone at your table would be that excited about it.
The cauliflower cake did turn out really well, though. It may be seen around here later in the year (because right now I dont have any pictures, to tell the truth. I was not only disconnected from the net, I also did not bring a camera). How was your Christmas? Did you do any cooking?
I returned to my home yesterday, with little motivation to cook, or eat. Like last year around this time, I crave lighter meals. Last year I made this gingery noodle soup, a perfect remedy for after the days, and weeks before them, of feasting on everything heavy and sweet.

Soup sounded fitting today, but I really wanted to try something different after making a variation of the noodle soup quite a few times over the course of the year. Leaving through my cookbooks I settled on a vegetarian version of Tom Kha Gai, the Thai soup usually featuring chicken. A light coconutty broth sounded just about right to tie together lighter eating and the sweet delights served at Christmas.

Thai Coconut Soup
Note: I used a combination of beans and eggplants here, and you can see fresh green pepper in the pictures above. Use whatever vegetables you can find or have on hand, though)

500ml coconut milk
thumb sized piece of galangal, or ginger if you can't find galangal, sliced
4 dried kaffir lime leaves, or 2 2-inch strips lime rind
2 lemongrass stalks, remove the outer leaves and cut into thirds
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups water
2 handful green beans
2-3 Thai eggplants, cut into wedges
8 ounces firm tofu, cubed, or seitan, or vegetarian chickn substitute
1-2 Thai peppers, sliced thin
1 scallion, green and white part, thinly sliced
1 can straw mushrooms
juice of 1/2 lime
fresh cilantro, as much as you want
1 teaspoon salt

In a large pot combine the coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stalks, garlic cloves and water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the beans and eggplant, your protein of choice, the peppers, the sliced scallion, the straw mushrooms and the lime juice. Cook for another 5 minutes, serve with the chopped cilantro. (I usually do not stir the cilantro in before serving, because I like to reheat the soup and the cilantro does not take that well.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Soba with Mushrooms and Spinach

As a child, my diet consisted mostly of Swiss and Italian dishes. Pasta, potatoes, gratin and such. We were fed the occasional Thai curry or sweet and sour pork, but not much else from the exotic department. And it is only in these two cuisines, those I know best, that I stay true to the original recipes and ingredient combinations.
I am not that familiar with Japanese food, my experience of it is limited to 2 or 3 restaurant visits in Switzerland or Germany. I also make sushi from time to time, but I would not consider myself a sushi expert. So when I tell you this dish is Japanese, I am probably wrong.
I cook soba and other Asian noodles like I cook Italian pasta, in salted water, on a rolling boil. I learnt to rinse them in cold water after cooking, but I usually reheat them with the sauce I want to serve them with. And it turns out fine, even great with this dish.

Buckwheat and mushrooms are to be considered close friends in the kitchen, at least in mine. Whenever I cook with buckwheat, I want to add mushrooms, these two earthy flavours complement each other so well. This dish was inspired by a recipe by Heidi Swanson, her Black Sesame Otsu, a recipe from her second book that you can also find on her blog. I made it as she wrote it, too, and I love it, but I also like to change things up. And I have to say, the mushrooms do more for the dish than the tofu in the original recipe. I actually quite like tofu, but it is does not add much flavor to a dish.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pad Thai Salad

We all have those stories that our parents like to tell about us. You have to know those, they are told to people entering the family, like boyfriends, the new husband of the aunt, or maybe a new friend, too. One thing about me that my mother loves to share is my early love for travelling.
Apparently, when I was 2 (or 3, I have heard it many times but still don't remember), I went to my grandmother on "holidays", and unlike other children who get homesick and want to see their mothers, I loved being there, and when it was time to go home, I am said to have called my parents (with help, obviously) and asked whether I could stay longer.

What can I say, it is still the same today. I am always planning the next trip, and more than that, probably also smaller trips in between and the next bigger trip is being discussed. Despite all this, I have never travelled outside of Europe so far. There were many plans to do so, but somehow France, Ireland or Spain made it to the top of the list. Maybe next year I'll make it to another continent for the first time.

I have found that this also influences my cooking, or rather my confidence in labeling a certain dish "Indian" or "Vietnamese". The Indian food I had in my life was cooked in European kitchens, and was adapted to European tastes. And then come the cuisines that are not so common in Europe as in the US. I have been very careful to not cook something and then label it "Mexican", because really, the only Mexican food you can buy here are these taco kits. Nevertheless, I still feel myself in need of labelling things - Arugula, Carrot, Asparagus, Peanut Salad with Lime, Soy Sauce and Cilantro dressing just does not sound too great. So let's call this a Pad Thai Salad, even though I know this is not the real thing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Seared Bean Sprouts with Tofu and Sesame Orange Sauce

It always makes me a bit sad when people tell me that they can't cook. They are often people who love to eat, but are intimidated by the kitchen and the contents of their fridge. 
We often seem to think that some people are just born with it - it being a talent for drawing, painting, writing, photography, or cooking. I used to think that way, too. I tried many things, always looking for the one thing I was inherently good at. Oh well, what a waste of time it was. 
I learnt a lot in the last year of blogging and cooking and living. I learnt how to cook tofu, because you really can't just treat it like it is meat. I learnt that I can live with less pasta in my life. I learnt that I can change things up in recipes for baked goods, too. I learnt that pistachio seed oil makes everything heavenly (if only it wasn't that expensive). And I still have so much to learn and to explore. Wonderful.
I really hope the Food Matters Project can show some people how easy it is to adapt a recipe. Make it yours.
This weeks recipe,  Seared Bean Sprouts with Beef and Sesame Orange Sauce, was chosen by Dominica from Wine Food Love. Go over to her post to check out the original recipe, and to the Food Matters Project homepage to find all the other takes on this recipe. It is a really easy recipe, but the way I prepare the tofu takes a bit more time than the original version with beef. You could omit the additional step and just marinate the tofu in a bit of the sesame orange sauce for some time in the fridge.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Roasted Carrot and Sesame Pesto

While I have been talking and thinking about "In Defense of Food" in the last weeks, some amazing bloggers started the Food Matters Project. I missed the first two weeks because I was away and not cooking much, but now I'm back and ready to join in.

Right now I want to talk about our holidays to Spain. I have been to Spain before, but never to the south, (or the north, but we kept that for other holidays). We travelled by bus (30+ hours) to Granada. You may have seen pictures of the Alhambra before, but it was even more breathtaking when I saw it in 3-D for the first time. We loved this town, it is just beautiful.
It was cold, though. The funny thing about it is that it was about 15°C warmer than in Switzerland, but they arent used to cold winters in Spain, and without or only little heating it was really cold at night. 
We then travelled on to Cordoba and Seville, both equally amazing cities. The last few days we then spent close to the sea, hiking a day, relaxing more.

Regarding food, I'm always a bit disappointed when in Spain. There is an abundace of fresh produce available, even now in winter when I usually struggle with finding new ways to cook carrots and beets. But the Spanish Cocina somehow manages to fry everything in sight, and to not use the vegetables around.

I researched some veggie friendly restaurants before we went to Spain, but even then it was quite difficult to eat healthy, and not just Tortilla Española. There were some great thing, too, though. I really enjoyed the Tostada con Tomate as a breakfast (Toasted Bread with Tomato, I'll share a recipe when I find out how to do this with canned tomatoes, or in Summer). I loved the gazpacho, though it was not really in season right now (it's a summer soup) and the fresh orange juices. I loved the idea of eggplant with honey, but have to find a way to do it without having to fry the eggplant. I had a great Tuna Tataki with Quinoa in a restaurant in Cordoba, and all the rest we ate was not bad either, just not how I would cook with all this produce available.

Well, I'm back home and ready to incorporate some spanish flavours into my cooking. An idea for a vegtable-heavy paella is forming in my head, and I have some things written down I want to try out over the next weeks. But right now, I want to share with you what I did with this weeks recipe of the Food Matters Project. This weeks recipe of the Food Matters Project, a Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto, was chosen by Heather from girlichef. I have made a similar spread or "pesto" before, and really loved it, but it is deep winter here in Switzerland now, so I wanted to change things up a bit. Well, a bit turned to quite a lot. My version of this pesto is Asian inspired, I guess I needed something different after a heavy dose of olive oil in Spain the last few days. Carrots are roasted with a few spices, then processed with sesame seeds and seasoned with soy sauce and mirin.

I used this pesto on top of a bowl of udon noodles (I would have used soba, but had none around), I guess you could use it as a dip or spread, too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vietnamese Rice-Paper Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Some time ago I bought this little bowl. You might have noticed that I use if often. I just love it. It makes me happy whenever I use it, even months later. I find it really interesting how most of the time it is the little things that make me happy. I often think that it is the big things that make me happy, vacations for example. But it's when I fail to appreciate the little good things happening in my life that I get kind of grumpy.
Especially when I have many things I should be doing I fail to enjoy the small things. (Btw. I love Kelle from Enjoying the Small Things, I want to be like her when I grow up) Because there are many things to enjoy. I'm really grateful for a friend who let me copy all her lecture notes, I enjoy the morning sun when I have to commute to work. I love making plans for the upcoming holidays, and the vacations to Andalucia, Spain. I love making a thank you gift for the friend I mentioned before. (This is a great edible gift idea, I made Hot Chocolate on a Stick and used this recipe. I bought silver spoons at a thrift store and used these instead of stick, looks much nicer) There are many things that make me happy, I just have to keep looking for them. Because it is so easy to miss the beautiful moments when we are so busy. Today I chose to bake little Jasmine tea muffins, the Jasmine flavor is great but the texture of the muffin wasn't quite right. I'll try again and share them soon. They made me happy too, I love Jasmine tea, it has such an uplifiting scent. But since the recipe still has to be adapted, I share with you an other recipe.
One of the first things I made when I bought the bowl were these Vietnamese Rice-Paper Rolls plus a Dipping Sauce. The recipe is out of Vegetarian Planet, and while the Rolls are a bit fussy to make, the dipping sauce is really simple. The the crunchy vegetables together with the soft rice vermicelli make for a really interesting texture, and the dipping sauce is both sweet and sour.