Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

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gajar halwa (Indian carrot pudding)

November 15, 2019

It’s dessert weather. If you want something to trick your loved ones into eating vegetables with something sweet and creamy and delicious, this is the ticket! Thanks to veg recipes of India for this one! If you like a soft, rich dessert that warms you from the inside, you’ll love this dessert!

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8 to 9 medium tender juicy carrots or 650 grams (gajar) – yields approx 4 to 4.5 cups grated carrots
4 cups full fat organic milk
4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
10 to 12 tablespoons regular sugar or organic unrefined cane sugar OR 180 to 190 grams sugar – add as required
5 to 6 green cardamom (choti elaichi) – powdered finely in a mortar-pestle or about ⅓ to 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
10 to 12 whole cashews (kaju) – chopped
10 to 12 almonds – sliced or chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins (kishmish)
1 pinch saffron strands (kesar) – optional

combine milk with rinsed, peeled, grated carrots.

simmer and stir until milk has reduced and become thick (might be a while)

add ghee, sugar, and cardamom – continue to simmer and stir

add the rest of the ingredients when the pudding has reduced quite a bit, and continue simmering until consistency is thick.

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recipe by Dassana of veg recipes of India

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I had a hard time eating the whole batch myself, so make sure you cut the recipe if you’re cooking for one, because this makes a lot of dessert! I like the consistency. It’s not exactly smooth like an American pudding, but not chewy like a British pudding, either. This is definitely its own thing! Definitely recommended.

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sichuan blistered green beans

October 22, 2019

Dry-frying is a seriously under-utilized technique! Beyond the obvious health benefits of using little to no oil, dry-frying veggies lends an amazing texture, almost like they have been grilled. They’re blistered and blackened in spots on the surface, but stay crisp in the middle. This method of cooking is so fast that the veggies maintain lots of nutrients. Super healthy, but WAY tastier than anything that seems like it could be healthy.

Remember my post about blistered asparagus? Similar idea, but we’re doing the green beans in a wok or skillet instead of baking.

In the summer, I make mine without pork. Why? I mean, I love pork, and lots of Sichuan recipes like mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) just don’t taste right without the pork. However, summer green beans from my local farmers market have such an incredible flavor. It’s really not necessary to add any meat! I also made it without the sui mi ya cai (pickled greens) because I am trying to watch my sodium. So I’ll post two recipes here – the original, by Maggie Zhu of Omnivore’s Cookbook, which is authentic. My version is lower in salt, lower in cholesterol and fats, and something you could eat every week! (or, at least, I could…)

Probably my favorite green bean recipe!

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RECIPE #1 – adapted by me
Sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
pinch of sugar

Stir fry
tiny splash of veggie oil, just enough that the beans don’t stick to the skillet
1 pound (450 grams) green beans, tough ends removed
1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorn
3 dried chili peppers
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1. Heat wok or skillet on med-high to high heat with splash of oil until wok is rippin’ hot.
2. Throw in green beans. Keep them moving, stirring every thirty seconds. Turn down heat if wok produces too much smoke.
3. Remove green beans when they look nice and blistered. Add another splash of oil and turn down heat to medium.
4. Add Sichuan peppercorns to oil. Remove peppercorns when they turn brown.
5. Add chilis, ginger, and garlic. Keep stirring til your kitchen smells great (maybe 1 minute).
6. Add green beans back to chili-ginger-garlic oil in wok. Stir to coat and turn off heat.

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RECIPE #2 the original, by Maggie Zhu of Omnivore’s Cookbook

Sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar (note: this is, for real, a lot)

Stir fry
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound (450 grams) green beans
1/2 pound (220 grams) ground pork
3 tablespoons minced Sichuan pickled mustard greens (Sui Mi Ya Cai)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorn
3 dried chili peppers
1 tablespoon garlic , minced
1 teaspoon ginger , minced

1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. Dry the green beans thoroughly before cooking to prevent oil splatter.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the green beans and stir to coat well with oil. Spread the beans to prevent them from overlapping, as much as possible. Flip every 15 seconds or so. Cook and stir until the surface is mostly brown and withered, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn to medium heat if the pan starts to smoke too much. Remove the pan from the stove. Transfer the green beans to a plate and set aside. (*Footnote 4)
3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the Sichuan peppercorns to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the peppercorns turn dark. Scoop out and save for later. (*Footnote 5)
4. Add the ground pork, Sichuan pickled mustard greens, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and chop the pork to separate it into small pieces. When the surface of the pork turns golden, add the dried chili pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir a few seconds to release the fragrance. Add back the green beans and pour the sauce over them. Cook and stir until the sauce is mostly absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the stove and taste a green bean. If it’s not salty enough, add a pinch more salt, return the pan to the stove, and stir to mix well. Transfer everything to a plate.
6. Serve hot on top of rice as a main, or as a side.

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If you like your green beans texturally interesting and incredibly flavorful, you have to try this recipe! If you prefer them stewed, can I recommend fasolakia, green beans stewed in oniony tomato sauce? If you like them sour, nothing is better than some lacto-fermented green beans. & if you like your green beans way sweeter, try this Americanized version of Sichuan green beans with hoisin.

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chinese twice-cooked fish

October 15, 2019

Craving some Chinese restaurant food? This uses only a few ingredients, but since they are fermented, the flavor is complex. Great, simple way to cook some fresh fish. Recipe by by Elaine, loosely based on a twice-cooked pork recipe.

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marinade:
1 fish fillet, around 600 grams
1 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sugar
a little shredded ginger – original calls for “5-6 sheds”(?)
cornstarch for coating

stir-fry:
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tbsp. red bean paste (doubanjiang)
1 tbsp. fermented black beans (dou-chi)
1 thumb ginger, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 chili pepper, shredded
scallions or garlic chives (one or two, or more to taste)
1 tbsp. light soy sauce

1. Cut the fish into pieces around 2cm thick. Add cooking wine, ginger shreds, soy sauce, salt and sugar. Set aside and marinate for 10 minutes.

2. Sprinkle corn starch over fish – she suggests 1/4 c – until coated. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until corn starch gets gummy.

3. Add 1/4 cup of oil to a pan or wok on medium-high heat, and shallow fry the fish pieces until golden brown on surface. Move fish to plate; keep pan on heat.

4. Leave around 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan, turn down heat, and fry doubanjiang for 1 minute until the red turns red. Add garlic, ginger and dou-chi and fry until aromatic.

5. Place chili peppers, scallion sections and garlic sprouts in. Fry until almost soft and return the fish, add light soy sauce and salt. Mix well. Serve immediately.

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recipe by china sichuan food and adapted by me, friedsig

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I love how this still allows some fish flavor to come through – it’s not deep-fried – and the shallow pan-fry allows the fish to stay moist and not overcook. The flavor isn’t exactly subtle, depending on your doubanjiang and other ingredients, so it’s nowhere near bland. Just right. (If you have some nasty frozen fish with a bad flavor, you may want to try something like fish cakes. If you’re set on this dish, though, you could probably beef up the flavor of this dish with chili oil, more scallions or garlic chives, more garlic, and more bean paste.) I splurged on some fresh lake trout, and still got plenty of fresh fish flavor since I reduced the chili and scallions. I also removed all the salt in the recipe because the ingredients are way more than salty enough for me, but of course, if you like it salty, add a pinch of salt.

Definitely recommended if you want something straddling the line between “healthy” and “fried”. Another keeper from Elaine!

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pan-roasted juniper and garlic brined pork chop

October 8, 2019

Pork chops are perfect seared off with just salt and pepper in a pan. However, if you want to boost the flavor of a pork chop with some sauerbraten-inspired spices, brining is an easy overnight treatment.

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Make the brine! Combine water with salt, sugar, a teaspoon of juniper berries, a pinch of whole black peppercorns, and a few cloves of raw garlic sliced in half. You can add a pinch of whole coriander seeds and allspice berries, and a few sprigs of thyme if you have them. I added some fennel seeds, too.

Heat in saucepan til simmering, then shut off heat.

When cool, pour over pork chops. refrigerate marinated pork chops 8-12 hrs.

The next day, preheat pan with grease or oil on stove top. If chops are thick, preheat oven, too, to 450.

Pan-sear dried chops over medium-high heat until pork chops develop some nice caramelization. Just a few minutes. turn up the heat if they turn gray instead of brown. If the chops are very thick, leave chops in pan and shove them in the oven for a few minutes or until they register at a temperature you’re comfortable with. Thin chops will easily reach a safe temperature on the stove in no time – don’t overcook.

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recipe by Brian Leth, from bon appetit, adapted here by friedsig

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The brine definitely flavored the pork chop. I would do this again. Served with cast-iron roasted fennel root and apple with caramelized onion and sage. Definitely tastes like fall. Sweet, comforting, and just complex enough. Has a subtle gin/sauerbraten flavor from the juniper and spices.

This adds some really nice German flavors to your Oktoberfest meal. Lower in sodium than knackwurst or brats, and (at least in my area) way more affordable. Don’t forget the Black Forest sweet-and-sour red cabbage or sweet-and-sour beet salad, German-style potato salad, and some good carbs like knäckerbrot and soft pretzels.

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lemon meatballs with tahini sauce

October 2, 2019

These meatballs are packed with middle Eastern flavor. Definitely not your everyday boring meatballs! Thanks to Shabnam of Cooking and Cooking for this recipe – click to check out her photos!

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MEATBALLS:

650 g extra lean ground beef
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 medium onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt and pepper to taste

TAHINI SAUCE:
1/2 cup tahini
4 tablespoons lemon juice (or more depends on your taste)
salt
enough water to thin the mixture

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mix the meatballs, pan-fry, and bake at 350 until done.

separately, mix ingredients for tahini sauce. don’t cook it! just combine and eat!

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recipe by cooking and cooking

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I made a ton of alterations – no cilantro, no basil, pistachios instead of walnuts – and they were still good. Lately, I have been trying lots of vegan and vegetarian meatballs, like vegetarian buffalo “meatballs”, meatless wild rice and mushroom “meatballs”, and the disappointing polpette (Italian vegetarian “meatballs”). I have found that meatballs do stay together a bit better and are easier to cook all the way through. Usually, with meat, I like it medium rare. However, if your ground meat isn’t so fresh and the idea of a rare burger seems sketchy, pan-frying some meatballs is a great choice. (They came out well-done. Oops. Oh, well. Check ’em often.)

The tahini sauce is great. Not the sauce I would normally think of to eat with meatballs. The texture of the meat was good. I liked the nuts in the meatballs – reminds me of the pine nuts in Lebanese sausage. The turmeric and cinnamon in these quantities are almost sweet. These would be outstanding with all the herbs in them, because it did seem like it was missing something, but I’d still definitely make them again. This recipe is a keeper!

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fresh fennel and cucumber salad in yogurt sauce

September 26, 2019

One of my new favorite salads!

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fresh cucumber, chopped into bite-sized pieces
minced fresh fennel leaves

plain unsweetened yogurt
minced or jarred horseradish
fresh lemon or lime juice and/or zest
minced garlic
pinch of sugar (optional)
salt and pepper

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original recipe by cooking light and adapted by friedsig

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Experimenting a lot with fennel this week, after scoring a giant fennel root with tons of plant still attached. This was my favorite of all those recipes! This sweet horseradish yogurt dressing is addictive. My other favorite was the roast chicken with roasted fennel root and caramelized onion and garlic in a white wine and dijon sauce. Great fall recipe. The miso-sesame fennel salad is definitely decent, but I like how fresh and crisp the fennel stayed in the yogurt sauce compared with the miso-sesame.

Anyway – highly recommended.

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If you like a cucumber salad, try some of my other favorite cucumber recipes: a flavorful vegan charred onion and cucumber salad, a spicy sichuan cucumber salad, or a summery cucumber, lime, and mint salad

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lu rou fan (滷肉饭, Taiwanese braised pork belly)

August 23, 2019

One of the absolute best recipes of the year. Maybe the best pork belly of all-time? I love you, Woks of Life!

1 lb skin-on pork belly, cut into 1/2” pieces
2 teaspoons oil
1/2 oz. rock sugar (or about 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar) (or less is fine, too!)
1 small onion or a couple of shallots, finely chopped
8 shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/2” pieces
1/4 cup shaoxing wine
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 cups water
4 hardboiled eggs, peeled (optional)

whole spices:
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 pieces dried tangerine peel
2 slices fresh ginger

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1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and blanch the chopped pork belly for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a wok over low heat, and add the sugar. Cook the sugar until it starts to melt and then add the onions. Turn up the heat to medium high and stir-fry the onions for a minute. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for another couple minutes.

3. Add the blanched pork, shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and water. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add the spices (which should be tied in cheese cloth), along with the peeled hardboiled eggs and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

4. At this point the meat should be fall-apart tender. To finish the dish, remove the spice packet and turn up the heat to medium high to thicken the sauce, stirring occasionally. This process should take about 5-minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but there should still be plenty of it left. Serve over steamed white rice.

by Judy @ the Woks of Life

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These flavors are so complex! The chewy shiitake texture was amazing with the melty sweet pork belly. We ate a ton of this with hot chili oil and rice. The flavors build and layer with every bite! Although these are traditional “five-spice” flavors, it tastes completely different than a five-spice powder without the fennel. It’s really its own unique flavor. The sauce came out thin, since we used low-salt tamari instead of thick dark soy sauce, and a pinch of sugar instead of rock sugar. Still amazing, even without the thick, sweet sauce. Without question a highly recommended dish.