Happy Fourth of July.. :)

Well, July First has just swung by (with its annual protest) quickly in Hong Kong and July Fourth is just around the corner for those in the US.  Honestly, I am not here to stir up any controversial topics as I am not keen on sharing too much of my thoughts.  I might make a few comments here and there only when I chat with friends in person.  Besides, I don't read much news and this is something that I should really start doing - just to know what is going on in this world.  One thing I learn throughout the years of encountering numerous mistakes is that I learn to shut up.  When I say shut up, I mean both physically and digitally.  I have no problem with people sharing online.  Every now and then, there are some who might annoy me a bit with their destructive and deviated posts.  I usually hide their feeds so I don't have to read them.  Perhaps, that's why I find blogging rather tough because I get too self-conscious with what I say.  I often contradict myself and start doubting my thinkings.  I don't want to spread the wrong message and end up causing a dispute with anybody.  And most importantly, I don't want to make a fool out of myself.  In fact, I feel like I already am.  ;-)  So yeah, coming up with words has become extremely cautious for me nowadays.  This is what I'm aiming to do and that is being responsible with my words.  It's not easy sometime and certainly requires a lot of mindfulness.   

Instead of voicing out so much of my thoughts, I turn to creating things and that is with cooking.  I would rather use my meals and photos to speak for me.  I love it so much and I can't stop doing it.  I also love staring at those beautiful food images that are posted by the other food bloggers.  That's probably the biggest joy I find in everyday - checking out and getting inspired by the other bloggers.  Just give me a bit more time to get comfortable at rambling on my blog.  One thing at a time.   

So I spent the entire week messing around with Lightroom and consolidating a few awesome recipes and images as a celebration for the coming Fourth of July.  I hope these recipes can inspire some of you out there.  Happy Birthday America!

This salad is spicy and minty.  The taste suits perfectly for the summer.  

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients: 

1/2 block grilled extra-firm tofu, quartered/halved* 

1/2 carrot, julienne

1 bowl mixed greens

1 bowl cooked soba, drained after running with cold water

1 handful chopped fresh mint leaves

Dressing Ingredients: 

1/2 garlic, finely chopped

1/2 chili, finely chopped

2-3 thin sliced fresh ginger, finely chopped

1-2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp chopped spring onion

1 tsp honey

1/2 lime juice & lime zest

2-3 tbsp water

1 tbsp sesame oil

1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

spicy & minty string beans crostini

Servings: 2 pieces

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

100g-150g string beans

1 bunch of mint leaves

1-2 eggs

2 slices of sour dough bread, grilled

Parmesan, shaved

1 lime, halved/quartered

1 tbsp butter

Pesto: 

1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

1/2 chili, finely chopped

1/2 garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven at 200ºC.  Place the string beans on a baking tray with olive oil and season.  Bake for 20 minutes.  

2) Use a halved garlic to brush the grilled breads' surface, spread butter and place the string beans on top.  Add chopped mints and shaved parmesan.  Drizzle with pesto.  Serve with an egg of any style you like on top with a twist of fresh lime juice.  Bam!  Easy and pretty.   

what do you do when you have one potato and 6 little mushrooms?

Servings: 1-2 persons

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 baked potato

6 brown button mushrooms, stem removed*

1/2 carrot, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic, finely chopped

1/2 chili, deseeded, finely chopped

1/4 cup milk

1-2 tbsp butter

3-4 roasted almonds, finely chopped

1/4 cup of breadcrumbs

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1-2 tbsp grated cheddar

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1-2 tbsp sour cream

1 lemon juice

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Boil and cook the potato for 20-25 minutes in boiling water.  Let it cool down.  

2) Cut the potato in half and scoop out the inside.  Set the potato skin on the side and transfer the flesh to a mixing bowl.  

3) In a mixing bowl, add potato flesh, chopped mushroom stem*, carrots, shallot, chili, garlic, almond, and parmesan.  Mix well.  

4) Heat up a small frying pan on medium-low heat, add butter, milk, and potato mixture.  Use a potato crusher to mesh the potato mixture.  Heat off as soon as the milk and butter blends with the potato.  Add breadcrumbs and season.  

5) Preheat the oven at 200ºC.  Brush oil on the halved potato skins and mushrooms(inside and outside).  Season.  

6) Transfer a tablespoon full of potato mixture onto each mushroom bottom.  Lay the mushrooms on a baking tray.  Drizzle oil on the surface to avoid sticking to the tray. 

7) Sprinkle a bit of cheddar cheese on each top.  Bake for 20 minutes.

8) In the midway of baking the mushrooms, add the potato skins to the oven and bake each side for 5-10 minutes.  Keep checking to avoid burning the skins.  Heat off.  

9) Garnish with some chopped parsley and serve with sour cream and lemon juice.  

* I chopped the mushroom stems and mix them with the potato for a more mushroomy taste.  This way, we are not wasting any parts of the mushrooms.  :)