dipping

1) Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu 2) Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

We’ve finally moved into our little apartment in Milan.  The entire place is still a mess, full of boxes waiting to be unpacked.  From the way I see it, it’s gonna take another whole month to get this home sorted.  Never knew my other half is such a hoarder.  

I’m just glad that we’ve finally got internet here so I can start my rant.  ;)  Lately, I’m a little obsessed with roasted vegetables because I’ve also got my awesome oven installed finally.  I don’t even have a fan in the kitchen yet I must have my oven first.  Those guys who installed it must’ve thought I was weird though; not to mention those awkward lost in translation moments we got there.  I kept asking if I could start using the oven right away with my broken Italian.      

So roasting vegetables has become my new forte and the best sauce to go with that, in my opinion, is the wonderfully nutty great old tahini.  I have two simplest and healthiest recipes to go with my easy tahini dressing here.  Hope you’ll like them.  Happy roasting! :D

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu - this is one delicious hearty salad 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 small bowl broccoli florets

1/2 avocado, cut into finger-sized strips

1/2 package hard tofu, cut into finger-sized strips

1 bowl fresh salad greens

1 bowl cooked soba, rinsed and drained

1 fresh lemon, juiced

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp chopped fresh spring onion

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1 small garlic, finely chopped 

2-3 tbsp sesame oil/extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for tahini dressing: 

1/2 cup tahini sauce

1/2 cup water 

1 small garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp vinegar 

1 tbsp honey

1/2 lemon juice and zest

1 tsp grated ginger

1-2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1-2 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions:

1)  Preheat the oven at 180-200ºC.  

2)  Marinate the tofu with chopped garlic and soy sauce for 10-15 minutes.

3)  To make tahini dressing, add tahini, garlic, vinegar, honey, ginger, lemon juice, tamari, sesame oil and add water to thin until smooth.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  

3)  On a baking tray, mix broccoli, avocado, tofu, dried chilli flakes, oil, and season. Roast for about 10 minutes or less.  

4)  On a large dish, assemble the salad, soba, and roasted vegetables with some toasted sesame seeds, nuts, spring onions, and tahini dressing.  Add a twist of fresh lemon before serving. 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Here are the simplest and healthiest ingredients for my second recipe: Roasted Purple Carrots & Avocado Salad

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Servings: 1-2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 lb fresh purple salad

1 avocado, cut into slices

1 lemon zest 

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 handful chopped walnuts

1/4 cup tahini dressing (recipe is above)

handful chopped fresh parsley (you can use mint and others; they are just as good)

extra-virgin olive oil/sesame oil 

On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.

Add avocado after 15 minutes of roasting the carrots.  

Instructions: 

1) Preheat the oven at 200ºC.  

2) On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.  

3) Roast for another 5-10 minutes.  I usually toss in the walnuts in the last few minutes of roasting for an extra nutty flavor.  

4) Garnish with fresh parsley, sesame seeds, tahini dressing and a drizzle of oil.  

5) Add a twist of fresh lemon juice to give the refreshness of this warm salad before serving.  

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Shroom Shroom Shroommm..

This is the sound of Hong Kong.  People think fast, act fast, and talk fast.  Hey, we also eat fast.  To compensate this whole frenzied lifestyle, I choose cooking as a balance.  It is very rare that I would blog twice within the same week.  In any case, I should do it more often because practice is the only way to gain mastery.  So I just have to put myself into practice.

Note: Please don't discard the coriander stalks.  Chop them up finely and add them to make mint pesto and dumpling fillings for the two recipes below.  

Here is the list of key items I got for my 2 shroom recipes: 

1 bunch fresh coriander     HKD4

1 bunch fresh mint     HKD6

1 package baby corn     HKD6

2 bags mixed locally grown mushrooms     HKD6 each bag 

Total Spending:  HKD28

Ingredients for my two wonderful meals

First meal - garlicky mushrooms n’ egg & mozzarella crostini served with fresh mint pesto

Mint pesto recipe: 

1 bunch mint leaves

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 lemon zest & juice

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped coriander stalks

Instruction: Put everything into a blender and season.  

Mushrooms and egg with mozzarella cheese crostini 

Servings: 2 persons

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

250g fresh chinese and button mushrooms, chopped

2 eggs, whisked and seasoned

1/4 cup milk 

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2-3 sprigs thyme

2 tbsp butter 

1/3 cup white wine

4 toasts with butter

1-2 tbsp pine nuts

2-3 tbsp mint pesto

1-2 tbsp grated parmesan

1/4 fresh lemon juice

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a frying pan with olive oil on medium-low heat, cook garlic, thyme and mushrooms for 2-3 minutes.  Add white wine.  

2) After the alcohol evaporates, turn to low heat and add butter to the mushrooms.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Season.  Heat off.  Set aside.  

3) To make the scrambled egg, simply mix eggs and milk.  Season.  Preheat a frying pan with oil, cook the egg on medium low heat.  Add mozzarella cheese.  Use a fork to swirl the egg and cheese mixture to create fluffiness.  

4) Layer the toasts with scrambled egg and mixed mushrooms.  Garnish with grated parmesan and pine nuts.  Serve with a dash of mint pesto and a twist of lemon juice.  

Second Meal - Mushroom Dumplings

These delicious dumplings were made with the freshest ingredients that cost less than HKD30.  

Servings: 2 persons - around 12 pieces

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 8 - 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

 250g fresh chinese and button mushrooms, chopped into smaller bits

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped spring onion

50-80g baby corn, chopped into small bits

1 package bean curd sheets, chopped into bits

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 egg, whisked

2 tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine

1 bunch chopped coriander stalks

12 pre-made dumpling skins

extra-virgin olive oil

 

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a frying pan with oil on medium low heat, cook garlic, spring onion, chopped coriander stalks, mushrooms, baby corn, and fresh ginger for 3-5 minutes.  

2) Add rice wine.  After the alcohol evaporates, add sesame oil, bean curd, soy sauce, and season.  Cook the vegetables for about 3 minutes on low heat.,  Heat off and set aside.  

3) Transfer the filling to a large bowl for wrapping the dumplings.  To make the dumplings, spoon 1 tbsp filling to the center of the dumpling skin, use a knife to dip into the egg mixture and spread evenly around the edge of each dumpling, then start folding the dumpling from one corner to the other.  

4) Once the dumplings are all wrapped, fry the dumplings in a preheated frying pan with oil on medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup of water and lid on to allow the dumplings to be cooked fully.  Let them cook with the lid on for about 5 minutes. 

5) Transfer the dumplings to a plate and garnish with some chopped mint leaves and coriander.  Serve with dumpling sauce and mint pesto.  

mushroom dumplings with mint pesto 

Malaysian Curry Vegetables and Homemade Scallion Naan

I recently came across an interesting article about empathy shared by Dr. LaBier on Huffington Post dated a few years ago.  The article was well written about the lack of empathy in today's America.  Dr.  LaBier clearly defined the difference between empathy and sympathy.  He also provided some useful guidance of how we can develop an empathetic practice.  

I personally feel that EDD (Empathy Deficit Disorder, a made up disorder by Dr. LaBier) sadly is apparent everywhere.  Many of us can't relate because we simply failed to recognize that at the end of the day, we are in fact interconnected and bound together.  It took me awhile to understand how important it is to know how to empathize.   I am thankful for all those sleepless nights when I had the voracious appetite for readings.  

This traditional Malaysian curry dish and naan bread is my tribute to Dr. LaBier's insightful article on empathy.  I've never been to India nor Malaysia and I would love to visit one day.  I used Malaysian curry because that's what I found in my mom's fridge.  As for the naan, I got this recipe from a blog called Half Baked Harvest, created by a beautiful young blogger called Tieghan.  The only difference is that I added some chopped scallions to my bread.  

I think last night's cooking experience was very inspiring.  I realized why curries and naans represent today's Indian cuisine.  This realization also strengthened my passion for cooking.  Cooking different cuisines enables me to feel more connected to the people in this world.  I hope my recipes can inspire some of you out there.  

Happy cooking, everyone!

With love, 

Cindy x

This curry vegetables dish is made with a traditional Malaysian curry paste.  This wonderful curry flavor gets even better overnight.  

Servings: 4 persons

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes 

Ingredients: 

1 eggplant, diced

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, diced

1 large potato, diced

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 tsp paprika powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 cup rice wine/white wine

1/2 vegetable stock cube

2-3 tbsp curry paste

2 cups water

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a saucepan with olive oil on medium heat, cook onion and eggplant for 3-5 minutes.  Stir frequently to avoid burning your vegetables.  Add carrot, garlic, fresh ginger, and potato.  Cook for another 3 minutes.  

2) Add cumin, paprika powder, and chickpeas.  Season.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  

3) Add rice wine and let the alcohol evaporates.  Keep stirring.

4) Add water, vegetable stock, and curry paste.  Bring the saucepan to boil then reduce heat and simmer with a lid on for 10-15 minutes. 

Recipe for Naan --

Servings: 8 naan

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes for each naan

Ingredients: 

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt 

1.5 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

1 cup greek yogurt

3-4 tbsp melted butter

1/2 cup chopped spring onion

Instructions: 

1) Dissolve water, sugar, and dry yeast in a small bowl.  Let it sit for 10 minutes and allow the yeast to foam up.

2) In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Then add the yeast mixture along with greek yogurt and milk to the mixing bowl.  You may use a wooden spoon or spatula for mixing and start kneading with your hands after.  When the wet and sticky dough forms, cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.  

3) Divide the dough in 8 small balls equally.  Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough on a lightly floured surface.  

4) Brush melted butter and sprinkle scallions on each side of the flattened dough.  Sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt if you desire.  

5) Preheat a skiller or frying pan on medium low heat, cook each side of the naan for 1-2 minutes with a lid on.  

Eating with hands......  Mary is my hand model nowadays.  Lol

Every scoop of the curry with naan is sensational.  Enjoy! :)