Vegan wraps


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If you’re out there looking for something healthy, mouthwatering and vegan with the ability to inoculate thy system with wholesome nutrition, healthy crunch and that which is choke full of so much goodness that you’d almost feel sick with health, except you won’t because healthy food makes no one sick and it’s time we embraced that fact, then this is the dish for you.

Also, as rare as it might be, often times nourishing food turns out to be just that much better than almost all the bad stuff that tastes divinely delicious, and this vegan wrap is the alpha and the omega of health and taste; alive here to work as a fantastic breakfast, packed lunch, picnic food or just a regular meal for a regular night, except it’s so damn tasty that it makes a very ordinary day into a stellar one, or at least till the time you’re eating this.

What’s more this recipe actually has two recipes, so that’s like a bonus, and one can’t have enough bonuses..so here we go.

 

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These might look like a lot of usual suspects, but that’s only because we’re going to be making hummus from scratch, and not just any ol’ hummus but a roasted red pepper one, and here’s a recipe for a regular hummus and there’s a detailed ‘how to‘ on roasting red peppers as well, which you can find here.

 

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A bit of roasting action first, ensuring the pepper is nicely charred and softened

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after which we put it in a bowl because it needs to cool down and become easier to peel.

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cover securely to trap in the heat, that helps create moisture and loosen the skin and make it all sorts of juicy for at least 10-15 minutes

 

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After which time you can easily peel off the skin, not too fastidiously though

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a few charred bits still sticking to the skin only help impart a more smoky flavour to the hummus.

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get rid of the seeds and guts until only the juicy part of the skin remains.

 

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Now with the hummus. In a blender, or processor tip in the cooked chickpeas.

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and a couple cloves of garlic. I forgot to put them in the ingredients picture.

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add in the roasted red pepper

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tahini paste

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cumin powder

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salt

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olive oil

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and finally lime juice.

 

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blend or process into a paste like consistency

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something like this, or finer if you please. It should be easy to spread.

 

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Now a bit of chopping and here’s some onion in its very own shot because I forgot to include it in the ingredients picture

 

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here we have our veggies chopped. A bunch of mushrooms, half a tomato, half a capsicum and our lovely onion of course.

 

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cook onions and capsicum on a smoking hot pan with a bit of oil.

 

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I like using tongs for this particular step, because it’s easy and makes you look very efficient.

 

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once it begins to soften a bit, add a small pinch of salt.

 

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and keep cooking on high heat until it’s sweetly caramelized.

 

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remove veggies on a separate plate

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and in with the mushrooms. There’s a rogue capsicum in there was well.

 

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cook until softened and caramelized, like so.

 

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all needs remain is a bit of assembly work.

 

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Drape the wrap with vulgar amounts of hummus. Don’t be stingy with this spread. It’s delicious, it’s full of proteins and it’s the flavour base to our wrap.

 

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Begin by layering on 1/3rd part of the wrap so it’s easy to roll. First with the caramelized capsicum and onions.

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then mushrooms

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and finally the tomatoes.

 

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Roll ’em up.

 

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serve am as is, or if you feel fancy then add some gorgeous crispy baked potatoes on the side.



Vegan Wraps

Ingredients

For hummus

Cooked chickpeas: 200g (1cup)

Tahini: 40g (1/4 cup)

Red pepper: 1 in nos

Garlic cloves: 2 small

Salt: 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder: 1 tsp

Lime juice: 1 tsp

Olive oil: 1 tbsp

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For wraps

Whole Wheat wraps: 2 in nos

Onion: 1 medium sized

Capsicum : 1 medium size

Tomato: 1 small

Mushrooms: 8-10 small button mushrooms

Salt: a pinch

Oil: 2 tsp


Recipe instructions for Hummus: 

Roast red pepper on high flame, until all sides are charred and blackened. Cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes for the skin to loosen, after which gently peel away the charred skin and remove seeds.

Add all the hummus ingredients with the roasted red pepper in a blender or food processor and pulse until a thick paste is formed.

For the wraps

Thinly slice vegetables and de seed tomatoes.

Heat oil on high flame until smoking and add the sliced capsicum and onions with a pinch of salt until sweetly caramelized. Keep tossing to keep from burning.

Remove to a plate once cooked, and in the same pan add in sliced mushrooms and cook until browned and soft.

To form the wraps, spread hummus generously on whole wheat wrap and begin layering the vegetables on 1/3rd side without heaping on too high so as to enable easy rolling of the wrap.

Ejoy!

 

 

 

Woon mamuang


DSC_0200 These symmetrically gorgeous yellow and white pieces of soft squares are the stuff of dreams most soothing and calm. As lovely and mysterious as these are to look at, they taste almost as tranquil and smooth.

‘Woon mamuang’ as these are called in Thai are really mango mousse made with agar-agar, a sort of vegan gelatine so to say, that’s made of seaweed and thus vegan, vegetarian friendly. I first had them in Thailand and couldn’t get over the almost enigmatic texture of these tender squares. They’re not too wobbly, as one would expect regular jellies made of gelatine, yet softly yielding with a fresh fruity taste that almost feels like eating mangoes in a different form. There’s a sort of gentleness to their aspect that works really well as a light dessert, for it doesn’t fill you up, not to mention that their primary ingredients or rather the only ingredients are pureed mangoes and coconut milk, both of which form a kind of ethereal bond of mellow pleasantness.

I made these for the first time and learnt after a few errors the exact workings of agar agar, and will explain them in this post so you don’t make the same mistakes.

 

DSC_0146 copythe ingredients are mangoes, sugar, lime, strawberries, coconut milk, water and agar agar.

 

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peel the mangoes

 

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and chop/cube them to be made into a puree.

 

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add in a squirt of lime juice to add just another dimension of flavours

 

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and blend to form a puree, making sure there are no lumps.

 

 

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water in a pot, don’t turn on the heat yet, because unlike gelatine agar agar will turn into something of a mess if dumped into hot water.

 

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add in agar agar and slowly start heating the water.

 

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stir water constantly or else the agar agar might settle at the bottom and clump together.

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keep stirring until agar agar is completely dissolved.

 

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once that is done, add in the sugar and let is dissolve

 

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add in mango puree

 

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and whisk until it’s mixed well and there are no lumps

 

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there are various ways to go about making woon mamuang. You can either make individual pieces in moulds or one big piece in a tray. I went with the latter option.

 

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Now the the thing with agar agar is that it begins to set soon after it starts cooling down and can set at room temperature as well, so we have to be a bit quick about things, but don’t get yourself in a frenzy as I did. Pour half the mango mixture to form the bottom layer.

 

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Add in chopped strawberries. you can even add mango cubes or coconut meat or nothing. I love the reds of strawberries with the yellows of mango.

 

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they look like rose petals.

 

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while that sets, we can get on with making the coconut milk layer. Start heating a pot of water with agar agar until it completely dissolves

 

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add sugar and coconut milk

 

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and pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the now set layer of mango layer and pop all the air bubbles or rather most of them using a toothpick.

Error: here’s the mistake I made. I checked the mango layer in corners of the pan and thought it to be set, whereas the middle part of the layer had not set at all, which is why some part of the coconut milk layer has floating strawberries on it. Therefore check that the bottom layer has almost completely set. It should be a little tacky, but shouldn’t stick to your fingers.

 

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once the coconut layer has set pour over the remaining mango mixture and let set completely and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

Note: keep the remaining mango mixture warm while the coconut milk layer sets, because once it cools down it will begin to congeal.

 

DSC_0195cut into squares and serve chilled.


Ingredients

For the mango layer

Mangoes: 430g (about 2 cups)

Water: 350 mls (1.5 cups)

Sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)

Agar agar: 2tsp

Lime juice: 1tsp

Strawberries: 80g (1/2 cup)

For the coconut milk layer

Coconut milk: 200mls (1 cup)

Water: 200 mls (3/4 cup)

Sugar: 4-5 tbsp

Agar agar: 1 tsp



Recipe instructions: Puree mangoes with lime juice, chop strawberries and keep aside.

Add agar agar to a pot of cold water and gently bring up to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar dissolves. Add sugar and pureed mangoes and whisk until sugar has dissolved and no lumps remain.

Gently pour half the mixture into moulds, making sure that no air bubbles are formed. Strew in chopped strawberries and allow this layer to set, while keeping the remaining mango mixture warm.

Make the coconut milk mixture by adding agar agar to water and slowly bringing to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar is completely dissolved. Add in coconut milk and sugar and once sugar is dissolved as well, pour the coconut milk mixture very gently over the now set mango mixture. To ensure that no air bubbles are formed you can even spoon this mixture.

In case any bubbles do get formed, pop them with a toothpick.

Once the coconut milk mixture had set gently pour the remaining mango puree over it and let it set completely and refrigerate before serving.


Few things to remember:  Do not let agar agar settle at the bottom of the pan while dissolving in water. Keep stirring constantly.

Check if the layers have set by gently tapping the middle area, it should be tacky to the touch but shouldn’t stick.

Do not let remainder mixture to cool down because it begins to set. Keep over low heat in case the temperatures are cool.


 

 

 

 

Wholewheat banana bread


dsc_0810Most beguiling, calling this a bread, when in essence, it actually is a cake. I guess it’s probably called a bread because it’s baked in a loaf tin. Ah, well.. ‘a rose by any other name’ and all that jazz. So indeed, this rather bashful, withdrawn looking cake/bread is exactly that. An air of polite modesty about its person, this cake doesn’t pretend to be a showstopper, or a stunner, gracing the high tables of a luxurious dinner party.

It’s in fact a quiet, simple and courteous nibble as opposed to the rich, opulent, cloying tastes of other thickly decadent cakes. This, in effect, is the anti thesis of sinful tastes, and bears such depth of resonant flavours that one slice or even two wouldn’t suffice. A perfect accompaniment for coffee, or as breakfast. This wholewheat banana cake  makes up in flavours, what it lacks in appearances, and isn’t that all that really matters?

Flecked with nuts, tinged with spices encasing a positively astounding banana soul. This wholewheat banana bread is moist with a nuttier wholewheat taste that totally trumps ones with made with regular flour..and if that wasn’t enough, it’s healthier too.

 

dsc_0770-copyThe ingredients are simple enough. mashed bananas, brown sugar, coconut oil, soy milk, eggs, wholewheat flour, vanilla, ground spices and nuts.

 

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mix baking soda and baking powder in with wholewheat flour. (these ingredients were not pictured)

 

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In a clean mixing bowl, add in the oil and brown sugar

 

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Mix briefly and crack in the eggs, and beat again, until the eggs are evenly combined.

 

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add vanilla

 

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mashed bananas and mix

 

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once the ingredients are well combined, tip in the flour. As you can see I’ve traded my whisk for a spatula, and mix very briefly.

 

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add in the ground spices

 

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followed by nuts, and combine well, without over mixing the batter.

 

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scrape into a well greased and floured tin of choice, or loaf tin if you wish to call this a bread.

 

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and bake at 170°C for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 

dsc_0824and Voila!!

Note:  before baking I’d tasted the batter which didn’t taste as sweet as I’d have liked, so I added in two tablespoons of honey.


INGREDIENTS

Bananas: 2 large mashed (1 cup)

Coconut oil: 80 mls (1/3cup) (feel free to use any oil of choice, or even  melted butter)

Brown sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)

Honey: 2 tablespoons

Milk: 60 mls ( use soy milk or any milk or even water)

Wholewheat flour:  160g (roughly 1.5 cup)

Eggs: 2

Chopped nuts: 80g (1/2 cup)

Vanilla extract: 2 tsp

Baking powder: 1 tsp

Baking soda: 1/2tsp

Spice mix: 

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp crushed pepper

1/4 tsp crushed cloves


RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

Mix the baking powder and baking soda into wholewheat flour.

In a clean mixing bowl beat together coconut oil, sugar, honey and eggs until evenly combined. Add in mashed bananas, vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour and spice mixture and nuts and fold until just mixed.

Scrape into a baking tin and bake at 170°c for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let rest before unmoulding.

dsc_0818Enjoy

 

Breakfast noodles


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Who on earth has noodles for breakfast? you might well ask. Well..a lot of people do..more than a billion to be exact. No kidding. Noodles are a Chinese breakfast staple and they have one too many variations. Chow mein, lo mein etc just to name a few.

During early morning hours you can see little shops dotted all around along the roads in every Chinese city, selling one or the other kind of noodle dish. Among the most popular are rice noodles immersed in pork bone soup, which you can garnish with any permutation combination of toppings that are usually lined on a table in small bowls.

These breakfast noodles are a somewhat take on Chinese lo mein, and I cook them much too often on mornings that I know I’m in no rush. These are delicious, nutritious, hearty and light at the same time. Easy to conjure with whatever vegetables you’ve languishing in the fridge, add in any meat, fish or go completely vegetarian.

Once you’ve cooked these, you’ll be hooked and you can have them cold as well as warm.

 

DSC_0528 copyThe ingredints do look like a lot to take in but they can be as many or as few as you want. For the flavour base-chopped garlic, ginger and white part of spring onions. For the sauce-soy sauce+oyster sauce+black pepper+sugar. Vegetables -lettuce, mushrooms, carrots. Cooked noodles of your choice, prawns (optional), egg. For garnishing-coriander leaves and green part of spring onions.

Yes, this does look like a lot but it really isn’t. The chopping doesn’t take as long as writing the list of these ingredients does. You can use any veggies of your choice. These are just what happened to be in my fridge.

 

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DSC_0532First, lets just scramble that egg in a bit of oil and set aside.

 

DSC_0533Once that’s done..heat some more oil in a pan on medium high heat.

 

DSC_0535and add in the chopped garlic, ginger and white part of the spring onion

 

DSC_0536stir it around a bit till its fabulously fragrant, but not brown.

 

DSC_0537in with the prawns and stir them around for a minute

 

DSC_0539add in the carrots and mushrooms and saute for another minute

 

DSC_0541and finally in with the lettuce.  They’ll wilt in seconds

 

DSC_0542add in a bit of salt (not pictured) and stir it around till the lettuce wilts and the vegetables are nicely coated with fragrant oil.

 

DSC_0543add in the sauce mixture

 

DSC_0544and stir around a few seconds until all’s coated with these lovely salty sweet juices

 

DSC_0545finally, tip in the noodles. I’m using potato noodles and stir them around

 

DSC_0546That’s it, nearly done. Top with chopped greens of the green onion and coriander.

 

DSC_0548oh and don’t forget to add in the scrambled eggs.

 

DSC_0562Voila. Breakfast noodles!

 

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Ingredients

Boiled noodles- 1-2 nests

Prawns (optional)- 100g

Egg- 1

salt- 1/2 tsp

for the sauce

Soy sauce- 1tbsp

Oyster sauce- 1 tbsp

Black pepper- 1/2 tsp

sugar-1 tsp

(in case you’re vegetarian, omit oyster sauce and increase soy sauce amount to 1.5 tbsp)

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Mushrooms- 4-5 sliced

lettuce- 5-6 leaves chopped

carrot- 1

garlic-2 cloves chopped fine

Ginger- 2 cm stem chopped fine

Spring onion-1 chopped fine

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Recipe:  Heat some oil in a pan and scramble the egg and keep it aside.

Heat some more oil and once it’s hot add in the chopped garlic, ginger and white part of the spring onion and saute in the oil for a few seconds until fragrant. Add in the prawns and cook for a minute or so. Add in the chopped vegetables, salt and cook until almost done.(just a few minutes).

Tip in the sauce and stir briefly. Add the cooked noodles and stir around till they’re well coated with the sauce. Add in the scrambled egg and garnish with coriander and chopped green part of the spring onion.

DSC_0554Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon fried rice


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This is just the kind of food you want to indulge in from keeping your waistline into an ever expanding universe. Healthy, nourishing, nutritious and all too tasty..how often do you even read all these adjectives in the same sentence?

Well my darlings, if you’re still on about healthy eating this year (why?), then this fantastic recipe is the one for you. Packed full on with flavours, yet strangely subtle. This bowl promises to comfort without making you fat. It’s sustenance and all too easy to scarf down in heaping abundance. No guilt, only pleasure. Your taste buds will thank you and your insides will give a content round of applause. It’s so easy and quick to put together that you’ll see yourself tottering in smug satisfaction as you lay this humble yet celestially righteous bowl of gratifying health for all to see and eat.

This does a superb double take as not only a solitary lunch but also as a quick meal for many.

 

DSC_0224 copyA bit many ingredients, but they’re not a whole lot.paprika, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice, chopped onions, ginger and garlic as the flavour base. Salmon, peas and spinach, hard boiled eggs and that’s really it. (psst. use any fish you have available)

 

DSC_0227dry roast the cumin and peppercorns, until they’re just fragrant

 

DSC_0230These need to be crushed along with other spices

 

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DSC_0232In with the salt and paprika

 

DSC_0233and you crush it within an inch of their existence, or until they’re nicely crushed

 

DSC_0235like so..

 

DSC_0236now for a gentle massage or rub..however you prefer

 

DSC_0238an now for a bit of tasteful dismemberment..or you can just cut in to chunks

 

DSC_0239In a pot of choice, heat some oil and add in the chopped onions

 

DSC_0241casually throw in the chopped ginger

 

DSC_0244followed closely by lemon zest

 

DSC_0245and in with the fish chunks. Cook for a few minutes, until the fish is more or less cooked.

 

DSC_0247Add in the chopped garlic and stir for a minute more.

 

DSC_0248Plonk in all the vegetables (peas and spinach) and stir for just another minute until the spinach wilts. (I’m using frozen peas, so it takes just a minute for them to cook. If you’re using fresh peas, you might want to add them a bit earlier or pre cook them)

 

DSC_0251now for the rice. I used a rice cooker and steamed the rice with a clove and black cardamom pod (totally optional)

 

DSC_0252In they go

 

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mix it well and add in the lemon juice. taste for seasoning, you might want to add in a touch more salt.

 

DSC_0269Embellish with eggs if you please. This recipe has real oomph and wow factor. It looks simple, and it is simple, but the flavours manage to hit all the right spots without jarring your senses.

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Ingredients

Salmon fillet: 170g

Onion: 1 medium sized. finely chopped

Ginger: 1 inch stem finely chopped

Garlic-2-3 cloves finely chopped

Paprika: 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Black peppercorns: 1 tsp

lemon:1 (zest+juice)

salt: 1 tsp + more

Cooked rice: 150g-200g (about 1 cup)

Peas: 100g (1/2 cup)

Eggs (optional) : 1-2 (hardboiled or to your preferred doneness)

Spinach: big bunch (it wilts down to almost nothing when cooked. Use a lot if you really want to see it in your dish)

Salmon fillet or fish chunks: 150g

Oil to cook: 1 tbsp

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Recipe instructions: Dry roast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns for a minute or so and crush along with paprika and salt. Rub the salmon fillet on both sides with this dry mixture and cut into chunks.

In a large pot, heat some oil and add in the chopped onions and ginger. Cook for a few seconds until translucent and add in the lemon zest and stir fry for half a minute. Add in the fish and cook for a couple minutes until fish is almost done. Add in the garlic and stir together for a minute or so.

Add in the peas and spinach and cook for another minute, until the spinach is wilted and fish is completely cooked.

Add in the cooked rice and stir it all together, until all rice is well incorporated throughout the mixture and each grain is coated with flavour.

check for seasoning, add more salt if you prefer.

Finally squeeze in the lemon and briefly stir.

Serve hot, flecked with chunks of hard boiled eggs.

Enjoy!!

 

Fat free granola


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This one’s for all you new year resolution junkies out there, those who think and believe that promising themselves to eat better for one whole year (gasp) will make them thinner. It will make you thinner if you eat better and healthier, but one whole year..who does that? and we all know these resolutions come with an expiry date, spanning anywhere between few hours to few weeks, so onto the bandwagon we go.. with health food for the new year.

Health food has such eew connotations, as it should and why not, but this fat free or almost fat free granola is really good. For starters it’s extremely easy, not to mention it’s also pretty tasty. So in case you’re a fridge/pantry pirate, looking for booty to snack on (that so didn’t come out right, but my new years resolution is to be wrong and not bother), then this granola is just the thing for you. easy on the waistline, high on the crunch and the best part is, you can fill it up with all your favourite nuts and dried fruits.

So here, we, Go!

 

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easy peasy ingredients. almonds and walnuts (or nuts of your choice) raisins (or substitute with dry fruits..I tried to keep it fairly simple), vanilla extract, rolled oats (not instant oats), honey and sesame seeds.

  • please feel to use any seeds or nuts or fruits to your liking. You can use sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, melon seeds, dried apricots, dried blueberries etc. really up to you. This is the simpler easy to make version..also if you want absolutely no sugar in it, then use stevia instead of honey.

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DSC_0099into a very dry pan, roast the nuts and sesame seeds until the nuts and sesame seeds are just lightly browned and smell nuttier and sesamier (?)

 

DSC_0100then on a dry board, smash them with a weapon of choice, get rid of your daily stresses..no more tears..just smash these nuts to smithereens, you’ll feel better.

 

DSC_0101smash them until some is powder, some flakes and some chunks. We need texture.

 

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Into a large bowl of choice, add in the oats

 

DSC_0106and the sesame seeds

 

DSC_0107and the nuts

 

DSC_0109the raisins

 

DSC_0110honey

 

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and finally vanilla.

 

DSC_0112mix them all together. This will take a couple of minutes until each oat is coated with honeyed goodness.

 

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it will kind of clump together, maybe stick a bit but all for the greater good.

 

DSC_0114on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, spread them as evenly as you can.

 

DSC_0117something like this, and bake at 180°C for ten minutes

 

DSC_0119pull it out of the oven, and they’ll be very lightly scorched, but we’re not done.

 

DSC_0120turn them over as best as you can, and spread again evenly and bake at 180°C, again for ten minutes

 

DSC_0123you’ll know they’re done because the raisins will looks burnished and plumped up and the oats will assume a rosier hue, and of course your kitchen would be smelling divine. Leave these on the counter for at least ten minutes or until they’re completely cool, because when they’re hot they’ll be soft to the touch and you’d wonder what went wrong.

 

DSC_0126after they’ve rested, you can just scoop them out

 

DSC_0125and break into little chunks

 

DSC_0128and fill in your jars.

These make delicious health snacks, and once you’ve made them, you’d look for excuses to get healthier.

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Ingredients

rolled oats: 1 cup

raisins: 1/4 cup

nuts: 1/2 cup

honey: 1/3 cup

sesame seeds: 1/4 cup

vanilla extract: 1/2 tsp

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Recipe instructions:

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until throughly combined. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and bake at 180°C for ten minutes. Pull the tray out of the oven, and using a large spoon turn them over, and spread in an even layer again. Bake at 180°C for ten more minutes and leave them out to cool.

Once cooled, store in airtight containers.

DSC_0131keep a jar where you work, and snack on ’em all day. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Korean style noodles


DSC_0746After binge eating and covering my innards with cheese, chocolate and butter, these Korean style noodles feel like an almost instant cleansing ritual. They taste fresh, spring like and the sharp spicy flavours almost feel like they’re exorcising all the fat away.

The reason I call these Korean style noodles and not Korean noodles is because they aren’t. This is a recipe that was created by moi, after I fell in love with and bought a big vat of Gochujang . It’s a Korean hot pepper paste, so vividly red and so flavourful that I’ve been adding it to almost everything I cook nowadays. After a stroke of greedy inspiration I came up with this noodles recipe, and as usual this is a recipe so forgiving and delightfully easy that you can make it your own using whatever ingredients you have handy and your fridge has to offer.

DSC_0709wthe ingredients are rather humble and easy to find. Chives, spring onions, chili, mushrooms, ham, chicken stock (I’m using powder you can use regular stock), gochujang and noodles. (also not pictured are soy sauce and sesame oil..sorry!)

These noodles here are something called (Hongshu Fen) sweet potato noodles. They’re a very popular noodles type from the Chinese province I live in (Hunan), but you can use any noodles that you have/find. I just happen to have/love these and that’s what I’m using.

DSC_0712begin by chopping your spring onions and chives and reserve the dark green parts and keep them separate.

DSC_0713chop your chillies.

DSC_0716chop your mushrooms and try to keep them into equal sized chunks.

DSC_0718nice pile of vegetables. I feel healthy already.

DSC_0719chop your meat..er.. ham! I shopped mine into fairly small squares because I was feeling so efficient.

DSC_0720now put your noodles to boil and here’s a close up of these noodles. They’re translucent and silky.

DSC_0722see what I mean. slippery noodles! yum!

DSC_0723once boiled, strain and remove them to your serving bowl.

DSC_0725add in the reserved greens from onions and chives and splash a bit of sesame oil. ah, this aroma.

DSC_0726find your favourite, most used, most tragic looking wok and pour in some oil

DSC_0727once it’s really really hot, throw in your vegetables

DSC_0728give them a good mix for a minute.

DSC_0730pour in some soy sauce

DSC_0732and finally, for the star of this show…our red as hell gochujang.. yummm

DSC_0733oooooh just look at this baby. There’s something rather poetic about the way it sounds and the way it gloops. oooh mama!!

DSC_0734mix it all until it’s red and looks dangerously tasty.

DSC_0735finally in with the ham.

DSC_0737add in your chicken stock if you’re using, I simply poured in hot water and added the chicken stock powder I had.

DSC_0739let it all come to a bubble like so.

DSC_0746and then pour it on your noodles to get this!! yes my lovers this is better than that, and any of that you were thinking of making because this has a kick, it’s a storm, it’s fire, it’s tangy, it’s full of such beautiful layers of flavours that you’d be reeling your head and wiping your tears of joy and some sweat.

Make this!!

Ingredients 

Gochujang: 2 tablespoons

mushrooms: 3-4 large

spring onions: 4-5

chives: 3-4

red chili: 1

ham: 3-4 slices (or use meat of choice, boiled chicken is good or leave out the meat and make it vegetarian)

chicken stock: 350 mls (1.5 cups)

soy sauce: 2 teaspoons

sesame oil: 1 teaspoon

noodles: 1 nest

oil: 2 teaspoons

salt to taste

Cooking instructions: chop the vegetables and ham into small dices keeping the mushrooms a bit chunky. Reserve the green parts of the chives and spring onions.

Boil the noodles strain the water and keep in serving bowl. Add in the reserved greens and pour over the sesame oil.

In a hot wok add oil and once it starts shimmering add in all the vegetables and cook for a minute. Add the soy sauce and gochujang and cook for a minute. Add in the stock and let it come to a boil.

Pour this over the cooked noodles and serve hot.

DSC_0743enjoy!!

Chinese fried rice


DSC_0983Zen, pure and a work of moments. These fried rice are a breeze to make and their savory, mellow, fresh taste makes it a delight to eat. They are nutritious, low-fat, versatile and catapult your leftover cooked rice into a delish meal.

This dish can be cooked using whatever leftover vegetables you have in your fridge and somehow it never goes wrong. This recipe was given to me by my Chinese friend and it is as much a pleasure to cook as it is to eat. Try this and you’d never want another recipe for your fried rice.

DSC_09441The ingredients are really up to you and what you have in your fridge, but this is as basic as it gets. Spring onions, Chinese chives, leftover mushroom & onion mix from my sandwich (this is optional), peas, carrot, red pepper, sugar, ginger, soya sauce & egg (not pictured)

I’m not using any garlic here, because my Chinese friends tell me that if a recipe includes spring onions there is no need for garlic.

DSC_0946Starting with pepper

DSC_0947De-seed, de-vein

DSC_0948and chop into about 1/4 inch dices

DSC_0949I used half of that carrot I showed in the picture simply because this was a solitary meal and how much can a gal eat?

DSC_0950carrot into two segments. each segment into three segments.

DSC_0951chopped into chunky small pieces.

DSC_0952ditto with green onions.

DSC_0953I reserve the white and light green part for the initial cooking as a flavour base and the green ones to put in later for flavour enhancement and garnish.

DSC_0954and these Chinese chives. I have a soft spot for these, and end up putting them in everything I cook.

DSC_0955As with the green onions, I use the lighter part for initial flavour base and the green part for second flavour layer and garnish.

DSC_0956Here we are with our chopped vegetables and the pictured egg.

DSC_0958Oil into your favourite wok, as you can see mine is pretty old and has seen many a burnt foods and adventures and I love it to bits. It’s my moms actually, I stole it from her and carried it to China.

DSC_0959while the oil is getting hot, here is my rice. It’s not much, but enough to feed me.

DSC_0961make sure the oil starts smoking before you add in your vegetables. The oil has to be ferociously hot. In a big swoop add in the peppers, carrots, white part of the chives,finely minced ginger and spring onions. It’ll sizzle and you’d salivate.

DSC_0963in with the peas

DSC_0966pepper, lots of it.

DSC_0967leftovers.. mushrooms in my case

DSC_0968pinch of sugar and this doesn’t sweeten anything but rather balances all the flavours.

DSC_0969finally half of the soya sauce

DSC_0971bring it all together and mix well for a few seconds.

DSC_0972add in the rice. I have here some beautiful jasmine rice, but use any rice you have.

DSC_0974mix well until most of the rice is slicked with vegetables and oil

DSC_0976now grab a handful of the green parts of the spring onions and chives and add to your hot wok. This boosts the flavours and brings together this entire dish

DSC_0977Now crack in the egg.

DSC_0978Mix until it’s scrambled and coated each rice strand.

DSC_0979Add in the remaining soya sauce

DSC_0980another handful of greens and mix and adjust for seasoning. If you need more salt and black pepper, now’s the time. My soya sauce was very salty and I really didn’t need any more salt but make sure this dish isn’t under salted. Mix well and it’s done.

DSC_0991how easy was this? rich rewards with minimum effort. You have to make this.

Ingredients

  • Rice: 1/2 cup
  • spring onions:  3-4
  • Chinese chives: 2-3
  • mushrooms: 4-5
  • egg: 1 large
  • peas: 60g (about 1/4cup)
  • carrot: 30g (scant 1/4 cup)
  • ginger finely minced : 1 teaspoon
  • red pepper: 1 medium size
  • soya sauce: 1 tablespoon
  • black pepper: 1 teaspoon
  • sugar: 1/4 teaspoon
  • salt: to taste
  • Vegetable oil: 2 teaspoons

(this recipe doesn’t really need measurements since it’s up to you, how much or how little vegetables you need. You can double or triple the amount of rice and ingredients to suit your needs)

Recipe: Chop the vegetables into 1/4 inch thick chunks. Reserve the green part of the chives and green onions for garnishing and later layer of flavours.

In a wok, heat oil and once it nearly starts smoking add in your ginger,vegetables, except the green parts of the chives and spring onions. Mix well. add the pepper, sugar and half of the soya sauce. Mix until well combined. Add in the rice and mix until the rice is slicked with oil and vegetables. Add in half the green part of spring onions and chives, crack in the egg and mix again until the rice is fairly coated with scrambled egg. Finally add in the remaining soya sauce and the remaining green parts of chives and spring onion, adjust for seasoning and serve hot.

This is not a very pungent, or overwhelmingly flavourful dish. It’s a very mild, subtle and fresh tasting rice dish. It’s pure and simple and a perfect light lunch or dinner.

DSC_0989Enjoy!!

Baked potato fries


DSC_0929

Potatoes!! Is there anything as comforting, as loving, as selfless, as versatile, as sexy, as sensuous as potatoes?? No, the answer is no!! Potatoes love you back they understand your feelings, they believe in giving and they care.

Sadly with modern times now, these beautiful spuds of love have been maligned as fattening food.. gasp! people are told to steer clear of them if they want to lose weight.. I say, what rot?? It’s not true. Potatoes aren’t bad for you, you’re bad for potatoes. Who thought of loading them with MSG and packing them into airy bags? you did! who thought of over salting them to the point of oblivion?? you did!! So please do not blame these humble vegetables for making you fat. Blame yourselves. Fried food WILL fatten you, it does not take a rocket scientist to know that, but when you bake these beauteous vegetables with the right amount of love, they love you back.

Case in point are these baked fries. They require no effort but give you all the love you need these winter months. Not only do they satisfy your spud cravings but they also don’t make you feel bad about it.

So for those moments of anguish when only a potato will do, bake these fries and get caught in the rapturous greed of smug satisfaction.

DSC_08521Just potatoes, garlic, olive oil (any oil really), mixed italian seasoning, paprika and sea salt.

DSC_0854before you start, line your baking sheet with foil.

DSC_0855wash and peel your potatoes. Remove any eyes and anything weird you don’t like seeing on your fries. You can keep the skin on the potatoes if you wish, just wash and scrub them really well.

DSC_0858Since my potatoes were not exactly equal in size, I cut mine to make three roughly equal sized potatoes. You don’t have to do this if your vegetables are symmetrically proportional.

DSC_0861I cut each potato segment into three, because I don’t exactly like very skinny fries, but if you do, please go ahead and make them as thin as you like.

DSC_0862So many potatoes.

DSC_0866I cut each segment in three’s.

DSC_0869I had almost equal sized fries, those which were a bit thick I cut them to size. Nobody messes with the size okay!

DSC_0870Into a pot of cold water to rinse away the starch. Let these be for a while now.

DSC_0871Now about their massage oil. Peel your cloves of garlic and mince them fairly well or chop, whatever you prefer.

DSC_0872add the seasoning mix. I’m using dry simply because It’s too cold and I have no fresh herbs left, but if you wish you could as easily use them fresh. Dried is just easier. These mixed Italian seasonings are pretty nifty.

DSC_0875in with the paprika. As little or as much as you like.

DSC_0876a glug of oil. This is about a tablespoon, but you could use more, you could use less.

DSC_0879stir with a spoon of choice until all is well combined.

DSC_0880Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or cloth of your choice.

DSC_0882give them a good pat. You want them completely dry.

DSC_0883tumble onto your lined baking sheet

DSC_0885make sure there isn’t a single wet spot. (snigger)

DSC_0887pour over the massage oil and this gets a little messy because you need to use your hands to evenly coat them

DSC_0888like so. Make sure the oil is distributed evenly and that every piece is well bathed.

DSC_0889sprinkle on the salt and into the oven at 200℃ for 35-40 minutes.

DSC_0906this is what they looked after 30 minutes of baking and the kitchen was smelling so divine. Garlic infused herbal incense. I was mesmerized and hungry.

DSC_0914

like this at 38 minutes of baking, and I turned on the broiler for about 2 minutes because I was getting impatient and I love it when they turn golden and crisp on the top.

DSC_0924like so!!

How were they? what can I say? see for yourself. They were beautiful, they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I gave them a final sprinkling of salt before I served them.

DSC_0929A flask of masala tea and potato fries.. what more can I ask this winter?

Ingredients

Potatoes (as many as you want)

Garlic- 2 to 3 cloves

Italian seasoning – 1 teaspoon

Paprika – 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste ( I used 1 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt)

Olive oil/any vegetable oil – 1 to 2 tablespoon

RECIPE: Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Wash and peel your potatoes and cut each into 3 segments and each segment into two or three fries, depending on how thick or thin you want them. Soak them into a bowl of cold water to remove excess starch.

Into a separate bowl, mince your garlic, add in the Italian seasoning, paprika and oil and mix well.

Drain the potatoes and dry thoroughly.

Tip them on your aluminium lined baking tray and pour over the prepared oil mixture and coat every fry with the mixture, making sure they’re all evenly coated.

bake at 200℃ for 35-40 minutes until deeply golden. Depending on your oven the baking time will vary. In some ovens it might take longer in some lesser, so keep an eye.

Enjoy!!

 

Homemade Pita bread


DSC_0905I ta, you ta, we all scream for pita! ok, this makes no sense but these pillowy pita breads do! No, I haven’t gone completely insane and while you can buy perfectly fine pita breads in the supermarket, they wouldn’t be nearly as good as the ones you make at home. For starters these involve your blood, sweat and tears, or just some sweat or none.

Once you’ve made your own pitas you’d not bother buying one.

After many a failed attempts at baking pitas in the oven, I decided to give it another approach and now I’d want to kick myself for never trying this out.

Let’s talk a bit about pitas made in oven. Mine just never came out that good. They would puff up and beautifully brown, but they never had that softness and that cushiony thickness to it. They’d be hard, brittle and crack, unlike these, which can be stuffed with your furniture without as much as a tear.

These were just magnificent, soft, forming beautiful pockets and absolutely delightful. these are so incredibly easy to make that you’d rather make these than drive all the way to buy one.

DSC_0854such simplicity.. I cry. handful of ingredients:Warm water, yeast, high gluten flour, olive oil, sugar and some salt

 

DSC_0855Sugar + water = yeast love. Make sugar the water isn’t hot, or cold. It should be just warm, like warm to the touch. You don’t need any thermometers for this, just a finger.

 

DSC_0856Into the sugary water we add in the yeast. I’ve used the instant dry yeast, but please feel free to use whatever yeast you have handy.

 

DSC_0857Mix and let it be for at least 5 minutes. In which time we can prepare our flour.

 

DSC_0859add salt in the flour and mix it to disperse salt evenly.

 

DSC_0861Make a ridiculous well in the centre of the bowl and pour in the yeasty water. NOTE: the water should be foamy and frothy by now. If the water hasn’t foamed it probably means that the yeast hasn’t activated, in which case throw out the water and start again. make sure the yeast is fresh and the water isn’t very hot.

 

DSC_0862pour in the water

 

DSC_0863and the oil, and start kneading the dough.

 

DSC_0865Of course I didn’t take pictures while kneading the dough, I have but only two hands. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes and formed into a somewhat smooth dough ball. It should be slightly springy to the touch and not very dry. I also had to add a bit more water as I kneaded.

I also lightly oiled the bowl so that dough does not stick as it sits to rise. Cover the bowl and let it be in a warm place for an hour until it has doubled in size.

 

DSC_0867Magic!!!! the dough has become puffy and fat and I sort of want to rest my head and sleep on it. Ok, now punch the dough to release out all the air. you heard me, punch it like you’d want to punch your ex, ripping out its entrails and dancing on them… forget that last part. Just punch it ok.

 

DSC_0868Tip out onto a floured surface and make sure you knock out all the air from the dough.

 

DSC_0870form into some sort of geometrical shape, mine looks a rectangle. Make sure it’s evenly thick from all sides and edges.

 

DSC_0871now cut it in equal portions.

 

DSC_0873I ended up having about 8 equal portions, but you could have less, you could have more depending how big or small you want your pita, but I think this was fine.

 

DSC_0876form these into equal sized balls and let them rest on a floured surface. I floured the tops slightly and covered with plastic wrap. let these rise for another 30-45 minutes.

 

DSC_0877Oooooh, these have become fat yet again. No matter how many times I make bread, I can’t keep myself from getting amazed at what yeast does. It’s magic I tell you. Here’s your letter to Hogwarts!

 

DSC_0878Okay, now taking individual rounds, flatten them a bit and using your rolling-pin roll these out to form….

 

DSC_0889These!!!! ok, I admit they could have been rounder but once these have puffed up you wouldn’t care, also as you progress your rounds will keep getting better, in theory and in life. Let them rest for a couple of minutes.

While they are resting, bring out your skillet or in my case a non stick frying pan, and put it on a medium high flame. Let it get reasonably hot and put on the rolled out dough. Flip it after about 20 seconds and after giving the other side 30 seconds flip again and…

 

DSC_0885This!!!! It will rise, it will puff up, you will scream and shriek and you would want to embrace everyone. It actually puffs up. It forms a pocket. this really happens, in your own kitchen!!!!

 

DSC_0886Flip again to let the other side cook and brown a little and look at this little thing. It’s risen majestically. Bow down and pat yourself on the back, for you are now a proud owner of homemade pitas.

 

DSC_0901 DSC_0902 DSC_0890These are different pitas in different stages of puffing.

OK, now the first one would probably not puff up as much as you’d want because you’d still be getting a hang of it, the skillet/pan would be adjusting heat and perhaps your flipping would be either too fast or too late, but believe me, after the first two you’d know exactly what to do and there wouldn’t be a pita that wouldn’t rise. I promise!

 

DSC_0898Very soon your pita pile will get bigger,

 

DSC_0905and bigger, and now you’re a pro..

 

Ingredients

Lukewarm water: 250 mls (I cup)

Flour( High gluten): 400 gms

Yeast: 1 teaspoon

sugar: 1 tablespoon

salt: 1 teaspoon

Olive oil: I tablespoon

Recipe: Dissolve the sugar and yeast into the water and let rest until the yeast starts foaming. In the meanwhile into a large bowl, add the flour and mix in the salt.

Making a well in the centre of the flour mixture add in the yeast water and the oil and knead to form a soft dough. Depending on the humidity and the flour you might want to add in more water if the dough is dry or add in more flour is it’s sticky.

Once you’ve made a smooth ball it should be slightly springy to the touch, let it rest in a lightly oiled bowl. Make sure to cover it and keep in a warm place for at least 1-2 hours depending on the rising and how warm your place is.

After it has risen it should have doubled in size. Punch it to knock the air out and tip it on a floured surface. Even it out and cut into 8 equal sized portions.

Form them into balls and let them rest again for 45 minutes until they have puffed up and increased in size.

Using a rolling pin, roll them out to form about 1/4 inch thick rounds and let them rest for another 2-3 minutes.

Heat a skillet or a frying pan on medium high heat and place the rolled out dough and after every 20-30 seconds flip it over to evenly brown and puff. After about 2-3 minutes it would have cooked through and formed pockets.

Stuff these pockets falafels (recipe here), hummus (recipe here) and roasted red peppers (here)

Enjoy!!!!