Chestnut Gnocchi with caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Onion

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Everyone who loves to eat and cook, probably decides their next travel destination by food once in a while. I like nature, sure. I also like to visit great museums, landmarks, and historical sights. But a city or a country wouldn’t be on my priority, if it didn’t offer interesting and great food. One thing I love doing is going to markets and supermarkets whenever I visit a new city. I like to look at what locals are buying, and even ask a few questions, if I feel particularly curious. I was on an orchestra tour once many years ago in a small city in Hungary. I have to say, the food I had there was mediocre at best, but I loved the fact that they had chili pepper flakes and pastes on the tables in restaurants. There’s nothing that a bit of salt and chile pepper can’t fix, if the food is bland! :)  I went to a supermarket and there was a huge selection of chili pastes, that I was a bit overwhelmed with what to get. I asked a hungarian woman who was near by, who didn’t really speak any english, helped me gladly. I bought the pastes for my mum and other friends who like a bit of a spice in their food. Since then, I put on a huge smile, and ask the locals, and they will help with pleasure. Most of them are flattered that you are interested in their food.

My friend Paige, one of the best cooks I know, and I usually bring each other food as souvenir whenever we travel. I bought her some Korean chili paste, fermented bean paste, and dried fish for broth, whenever I went to my parents in Korea. This year, even though it wasn’t a lot, I  brought her a nutmeg in its shell from an organic farm in Penang, Malaysia. She also brings me back all sorts of wonderful things. The recipe I made for you today, was possible by the chestnut flour she brought me from Corsica a year ago. I love roasted or boiled chestnuts, but the flour was foreign to me until she presented me with a bag. It’s so aromatic, that you immediately want to bury your head in it. I made a couple of recipes with the flour, but the taste is pretty strong, that you don’t need a large amount. A bag  of chestnut flour from a health store or an organic store is not the cheapest flour you can find, but a little goes a long way.

Brussel sprouts and chestnut are a fantastic pairing. I avoided cooking with brussels sprouts for many years, because, let’s face it. A lot of people have traumas from overcooked, sulfurous smelling brussels. Since last year, I got my courage up, and cooked the them in a frying pan with lots of butter until they were beautifully caramelized. Guess what? My fear of brussels subsided. Everyone should cook them in this way. The slight sweetness and the chestnut aroma will balance out nicely with cruciferous brussels and caramelized onion. Making gnocchi is really easy once you read the direction properly. I find it easier than making fresh pasta. Give this a try, and you will be making gnocchi every week! xo-A

ps. I’ve been published in The Guardian almost every week this month. Check out here, here, and here, for my recipes. I was so stoked, naturally.

Chestnut Gnocchi with caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Onion

For the gnocchi,

500g large floury potatoes

120g all-purpose flour

45g chestnut flour, sifted

2 large eggs and 1 egg york, whisked

1/2 tsp salt

To finish,

25g butter

1 large red onion, finely sliced into half moon rings

300g brussel sprouts, trimmed

1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar

a small handful hazelnuts, toasted, skin removed, and chopped

1. Turn the oven on to 220 degrees celsius. Prick the potatoes a couple of times, and bake for about 50 mins- 1 hour depending on their size.

2. Cut the potatoes in half, wait for a minute to cool down a little, and scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. (I know, it’s hot, but be brave)

3. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes. Add the flour, eggs, and salt. Mix with an wooden spoon and eventually, with your hand, until a smooth dough is formed. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky, but make sure not to put too much flour, as the gnocchi will taste hard once they are cooked.

4.Divide the dough in half. Roll the dough into a long cigar shape and cut them into 1.5cm pieces. Roll them on a gnocchi board or on a fork.

5. Start a large pot of water onto a boil. Salt generously.

6. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and fry until lightly caramelized. Turn down the heat accordingly. This will take anywhere between 10-20 minutes. The wait is worth it.

7. Boil the brussel sprouts for about a minute. Take them out with a slotted spoon. Keep the water on a rolling boil.

8. Cut the brussels in half. Add the brussels and thyme to the onion, and stir-fry until lightly browned. Try not to stir them around too much.

9. In the same water that brussel sprouts were cooked, add the gnocchi and cook for about 2 minutes or until they float to the surface.

10. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and add them to the brussel sprouts and onion. Add a couple of tablespoons of cooking water. Mix everything together over medium heat for about a minute. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss.

Pomegranate Molasses and Harissa Glazed Carrots with Cashew-Ginger Cream


Growing up, I was never a picky eater. I ate almost everything, from cow’s milk from 6 month old with no allergy whatsoever, (I still wonder what mum was thinking when she decided to give a baby cow’s milk?!) to fish, kimchi from an early age, and blood soup, according to my aunt. I still have no idea what the soup is, but she claims when I was 3, she saw me eating a small bowl of a pork soup with coagulated blood floating on top, without blinking twice. I definitely wouldn’t eat it now, though. Another story goes, when I was about 2-3, our family went to a restaurant, where a big aquarium with exotic tropical fish was at the entrance. Most kids would have stared at the aquarium and probably admired the beautiful fish, but I saw them as source of food, and said “Mmm, Yummy! I want to eat them all!”.  What a weirdo.

There were few things I didn’t like when I was little, most of them I still don’t like to this day. I thought soy milk was the most disgusting thing ever, I almost puked the first time I tried it. My old flatmate from a few years ago, told me vanilla-flavored soy milk didn’t taste too much like soy milk, but I still found it disgusting. I also despised carrots, raw, or cooked. It took me a very long time to like carrots. I was a teenager when I decided I like carrots when they are cooked, or should they be served raw, they must be grated or julienned. Don’t ask me why. But I still find raw carrot sticks repulsive. My friends laugh at this, of course. I can’t tell you why it’s ok for me to eat grated carrots and not the stick. It could be the aroma, or the texture? Who knows.

The carrot, being one of three components of mirepoix, (the other ones being celery and onion), is sometimes overlooked. I always have one or two laying around in the kitchen, in case I spontaneously want to make a soup or stew, and although when you have sweated the finely chopped carrot in oil for 20 mins with onion and celery, you won’t be able to taste it, but you will notice a difference to a soup when the carrot is missing. Carrots are usually cheap and plentiful almost anywhere you live. They come in beautiful rays of shades, like purple, white, yellow, pink, and orange. They can be paired with many different spices and herbs, and when roasted, the natural sweetness intensifies, especially when they are glazed like in this new recipe. I would have never guessed as a 9 year old that I would ever make a dish where the carrot is the star on a plate. It’s a simple recipe to make for a weeknight dinner. I can also imagine it would be great as an accompaniment to turkey or chicken. Enjoy! xo-A.

Pomegranate Molasses and Harissa Glazed Carrots with Cashew-Ginger Cream

Note: Pomegranate molasses and Harissa can be purchased at turkish/arab supermarkets. Make sure the molasses has as little ingredients as possible. Most of them contain a lot of additives and such.

Serves 2 as an appetizer or a side dish

1 bunch thin-ish carrots (about 8-9), left whole, but halved if they are too thick

For the glaze,

1.5 tsp honey

1.5 tsp pomegranate molasses

1-2 tsp harissa (store-bought is fine)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1.25-1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large clove garlic, grated to a pulp

For the cashew-ginger cream,

60g cashew nuts

40ml water or vegetable stock

A good squeeze of lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground ginger

To serve: A few coriander leaves and/or mint leaves, and a good pinch of roughly crushed pink peppercorns.

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the honey over low heat until they become very runny. Add all the ingredients for the glaze and whisk well. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper. Lay the carrots on the sheet, brush all over with the glaze until they are well covered. Roast for about 45 mins until the carrots are tender. Toss them gently once or twice for even cooking.

3. For the cashew cream, cover the nuts with boiling water and set aside for about 30 mins. This process will soften the nuts. Drain and rinse quickly with fresh water.

4. In a food processor, add the cashews and the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Add a bit more water or stock if the cream is too thick.

5. Serve the glazed carrots, sprinkled with coriander leaves and/or mint, and a good dollop of the cashew-ginger cream on the side.

A simple autumn slaw


After a wonderful summer of traveling, chilling on the beach of Langkawi, tasting new food, indulging myself in mum’s amazing food and learning to cook Malaysian cuisine, I’ve been back in Leipzig for about a month and a half now. It seems like I blinked and missed September all together and, although I have been cooking a lot, for some reason I haven’t been keeping up with my new recipes on this little space of mine. So, here I am, after almost a three month interlude.

Today was market day. There are gorgeous apples everywhere these days. Fennel bulbs of all sizes seem to be having its high point, as the morning air becomes crisp. I bought my first bunch of kale the other day, and now I finally feel the change of season. My boyfriend’s parents have a big walnut tree in their beautiful garden, and every October, they bring a big bag full of walnuts for us.(shelled! I’m eternally grateful.) Today for lunch, I have decided that all these amazing autumn ingredients call for a little celebration to welcome the new season. This simple slaw is dead easy to make, especially if you have a mandolin slicer at home. Otherwise, a very sharp knife will do the job of slicing the fennel bulb wafer thin. If you can’t find kale, I think a bulb of radicchio could work in a pinch. The slight bitterness would well compliment the sweet-sourness of a crisp new season’s apple.

I hope all of you had a lovely summer/winter, depending on which hemisphere you live in. xo-A.

Kale, Fennel, and Apple Slaw

*If you are using radicchio instead, as I suggested in the intro, you won’t need to massage the leaves. Just toss all the ingredients with the dressing.

Serves 2

5 meidum-large kale leaves

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1 small handful walnuts, toasted

1 small fennel bulb, sliced wafer-thin, if possible

1/2 crisp new season apple, sliced very thinly

For the dressing,

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1.5 tsp walnut oil

3 tsp rapeseed oil or mild-tasting olive oil

A splash of maple syrup

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4-1/2 tsp salt to taste, and a few grinds of pepper

1. First, pick off the leaves off the kale, leaving the tough stalks in your compost bin. Give them a good wash. Squeeze out the water with your hands, and chop the leaves finely. In a big salad bowl, add the kale, along with the apple cider vinegar and salt. Get your clean hands in there and massage the kale for about 2-3 minutes until the leaves are welted. Leave to stand for about 30 mins.

2. Preheat the oven to 150 deg celsius, place the walnuts in the oven for about 8-10 mins until they are nicely toasted. Do check after 6 minute mark to see if they aren’t burning. Transfer the walnuts to a plate and cool until ready to use.

3. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing until well emulsified.

4. Add the fennel and apple slices to the kale. Add about 3/4 of the dressing and mix well with two forks. Check to see if the slaw needs some more dressing. Scatter the toasted walnuts and serve immediately.

Linguine with slow-roasted tomatoes and garlic


Another pasta recipe, guys. I hope you don’t mind! :)

What do you do when you have less than perfect tomatoes? The other day, my boyfriend bought a pack of organic tomatoes from Rewe. Clearly, he meant well, (sorry!) but organic or not, I don’t normally buy tomatoes at a supermarket. They are pretty much tasteless or watery even in the summer, so I always get mine from the local market.  Slow roasting is my favourite thing to do with less than perfect tomatoes. It brings out the sweetness and intensifies the umami taste. Even the dull tasting ones turn out to be delicious after 2 hours in the oven. This recipe is probably a no-brainer, and definitely not the most innovative recipe, but I think the ingredients here show simplicity at its best. There’s nothing better than tomato and garlic, with a sprinkle of slivered basil.  Summer vegetables are just so delicious that I don’t usually like to play around too much. For example, I made some potato salad the other day with new potatoes I bought at the market. I knew they were slightly under seasoned, but I didn’t mind because the taste of the potato itself was so delicious. I learnt this way of enjoying food from my paternal grandfather who knows more about taste than most people I know. Once, he gave us some zucchini from his garden. My mum sliced them and stir-fried them lightly with a sprinkle of good salt. No garlic. No spices. Just olive oil, zucchini, and salt. I’m telling you, it was one of the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Anyways… enough blabbering. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy! xo-Ange

Linguine with slow-roasted tomatoes and garlic

Note: If you are not going to use the roasted tomatoes right away, store them in an airtight jar with some olive oil. It will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Serves two

6 medium-sized tomatoes

1/2  tsp sugar

3/4 – 1 tsp salt

Olive oil

1 small head garlic, broken into cloves, but un-peeled

3 sprigs thyme (optional)

220g-240g linguine

5-6 large basil leaves, cut into thin slivers.

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parmagiano Reggiano, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celsius. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Lay the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle evenly with salt and sugar, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes have shrunken considerably and the kitchen is smelling divine.

2. Remove the garlic cloves and let them cool. Pop the flesh out of their skins. Mash the flesh with fork and mix in a good drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

3. Cook the linguine in plenty of water with plenty of salt until al dante. Drain, reserving some cooking water in a separate bowl. Put the pasta back into the pan.  Add the roasted garlic paste, roasted tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir around quickly until well mixed. Serve with some grated Parmagiano reggiano cheese and slivers of basil on top.

Fusili with Pea, Lemon, and Herb Pesto


Hot, hot hot!!!

For the past 4 days, the weather has been seriously warm. And with the temperature exceeding 30°C  with sweltering sunshine, I finally wanted to cook with basil. In my kitchen, I usually try to cook with the season’s ingredients. The other day, I was thinking about food pairings, especially with herbs. For example, it’s rare that there are autumn or winter vegetables that match well with soft herbs like chervil, dill, tarragon, basil, or mint, but on the other hand, sturdy herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme,  or bay, go better together with these vegetables. Let me give you some specific examples; basil goes well with tomatoes, strawberries, capsicums, and zucchini, which are summer vegetables. But, it’s not such a good pairing with to earthy tasting, hearty cold weather vegetables like pumpkin, squash, parsnip, or cabbage.  Now summer is finally upon us here, I started craving basil, which hasn’t happened in many months for me. Peas are one of the first summer vegetables you can find and basil and mint are natural pairings. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find fresh local peas. I bought some once years ago but I haven’t been lucky since. If you are buying fresh peas, it’s important to buy the ones from your local farms, as the sweetness of the peas starts to diminish quickly after they are picked.  Here in this recipe, I have used frozen peas. I know using frozen vegetables might not sound too “foodie”, but peas are about the only frozen vegetable you would find in my freezer, and I find they taste actually quite similar to freshly podded peas.

This dish I made for lunch today is easy and quick to make. It is delicious served either hot or cold, so depending on how hot it is outside, you can give it a ring of change in the dish’s temperature too.

If you are looking for another recipe for a hot day, the recipe I submitted, cold beetroot and yoghurt soup, for the Guardian won the Reader’s Recipe Swap two weeks ago. Click here to see the full recipe.

Have a nice week guys! xo-A.

Fusili with Pea, Lemon, and Herb Pesto

Note: This dish can be served either hot or cold.

Serves 2-3

200g frozen or fresh peas (podded weight)
1 medium sized leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 clove garlic, (new season’s garlic, if possible)
A small handful mint leaves (about 4g)
A large handful basil leaves (about 8g)
40ml olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
350g fusili
80g feta cheese, (I used goat’s feta but any feta would work well) to serve- optional

1. In a small saucepan, bring the lightly salted water to boil. Add the peas, sliced leek, and garlic. Boil for 1.5 mins. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain well and add to the food processor. Add the herbs, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until roughly pureed. Set aside.
2. Bring a large saucepan with generously salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dante. Drain. Refresh under cold water, if serving cold. Stir in the pesto and serve with some feta cheese on top.

Jamaican Flower Gin&Tonic


Summer is upon us. The warm breeze and the sun feels amazing on my skin when I ride my bike around the city. Whenever there is a heatwave, I keep a large pitcher of iced tea made with Jamaican flower tea, or also known as Hibiscus tea, and drink a glass or two when I feel worn out by the heat. This hot pink, wonderfully fragrant and sour tea made from dried Jamaican flowers is a great thirst-quencher, and it is known to bring the body temperature down. As it is Saturday, and the Champions League finale is about to happen in about an hour,  I made an alcoholic version. You will have about 230-250ml syrup from the recipe below, which you can mix with sparkling water and lime juice if you don’t feel like drinking alcohol. A small handful of mint muddled a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients for the cocktail would also be lovely.

Dried Jamaican Flower tea (Hibiscus)

Dried Jamaican Flower tea (Hibiscus)

Jamaican Flower Gin&Tonic

Note: Jamaican flower tea (hibiscus) can be easily bought at specialty tea shops. I bought mine at an organic supermarket in Leipzig called Biomare on Karli. 

For the syrup,

20g dried Jamaican flower (Hibiscus) tea

250ml water

100g sugar

20g ginger, peeled, and sliced thinly

For the cocktail (serves 1),

30ml or 2 Tbsp Jamaican flower syrup from above

30ml-40ml Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire. You can use whatever gin you prefer)

15ml or 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 slice lime

A handful of ice cubes

Tonic water (I like Schwepps, even though it sounds boring. I tried some expensive hipster tonic water but I can’t taste that much difference)

1. To make the syrup, bring the sugar, water, and ginger to boil, and wait until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add the Jamaican flower tea and remove from the heat. Let it steep for about 30-40 mins. Strain the syrup in a clean glass jar and chill in the fridge.

2. To make the cocktail, add the ice cubes in a tall glass. Add the syrup, lime juice, and gin. Top with tonic water and garnish with a sliced lime.

Banh Mi Sandwich with Tempeh-Brown Rice Balls


Hi guys! Excuse the long absence from blogging. I have been very busy with work lately and I barely had time to cook. I ate out a lot (probably spent way too much money) and felt pretty gross after not eating at home for days. I missed my knife and cutting board, and fresh vegetables. I then realized that this city lacks in quick eateries that focus on healthy yet delicious food. Sure, there are many bakeries in every corner with ready-made bread rolls smeared with remoulade sauce (why? why always the remoulade??), some bland cheese or ham, and sad, limp pieces of lettuce. Or there are plenty of packed salads consisting of (again) sad looking iceberg lettuce, tasteless tomatoes, chopped ham, and canned corn (eeeek) , and you can choose from yogurt dressing, balsamic dressing, or some unidentifiable “herb” dressing in a packet. But I wish there was a sandwich place where you could order what goes in your roll or sandwich, and they are freshly made. Ready made salad would be fine by me if these places would have some variations. A good friend from LA sent a picture of a ready-made salad that he bought from Trader Joe’s. What was in the picture were the followings; Lemon chicken&rocket salad, Roasted butternut squash, red quinoa, and wheatberry salad, and Kale&edamame salad. Seriously? You wouldn’t even find these kinds of salads in most cafes here. Needless to say, I was very jealous. And let me stress that these pre-packaged salads weren’t from some fancy-shmancy gourmet supermarket. Humph.

Anyways. Enough complaining. Life is still great even if I can’t buy pre-packaged kale salads. :) After craving vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich one day, and not wanting to make yet another marinaded tofu for the protein filling, I came up with these little balls. They are packed with protein, punchy herbs, lemongrass, allium, and chili. You can freeze these babies once they are shaped, and take them out whenever you feel like a Banh Mi. (see recipe note). Enjoy!

Banh Mi Sandwich with Tempeh-Brown Rice Balls

Recipe note: To freeze these balls, shape them, then put them on a plate, slightly apart, and place the plate in the freezer for an hour. After that, remove the balls and pack them into a ziplock bag. To re-heat, brush them with oil, and bake them in the oven in 180 celsius degrees for about 30 mins, turning a couple of times in between.

Serves 3-4

For the quick pickles,

250ml rice vinegar

2.5 Tbsp Sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

8 pink radishes, sliced finely

1 medium carrot, julienned

For the tempeh-rice balls,

140g tempeh, cut into cubes

2 tsp coconut oil or canola oil

5 small shallots

2 lemongrass, 6cm of the root, tough outer layers removed, and finely chopped

1 thumbnail sized ginger, finely minced

2 large clove garlic, finely minced

1 hot chili

1 large handful coriander

1 small handful mint leaves

1 egg

2 tsp soy sauce

A pinch of salt

1/2 tsp palm sugar (grated if necessary)

6 Tbsp breadcrumbs

100g cooked short-grain brown rice, cold or at room temperature (*scroll down to the bottom for the recipe)

2 Tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed oil, for frying

For the sauce,

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp lime juice

2 tsp (or more) sriracha hot sauce

1/2 Tbsp-1 Tbsp soy sauce

To serve,

2 baguettes

A small handful of the following,

-Coriander leaves

-Mint leaves

-Thai basil leaves

Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce

1. First of all, make the quick pickle. In a jar, dissolve the first four ingredients until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the radishes and carrots and mix to combine. Leave in the fridge for 30mins-1hour to pickle.

2. Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Add the tempeh cubes and simmer for about 5-7 mins. Drain well.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, chili, and lemongrass. Fry until fragrant and soft. Transfer to a food processor.

4. Add the tempeh cubes, soy sauce, the herbs, egg, salt, palm sugar, and breadcrumbs to the food processor. Pulse 6-8 times to combine and break down the tempeh. Add the brown rice and pulse quickly to combine, scraping the sides in between. Add a bit more breadcrumbs if the dough seems too wet.

5. With wet hands, form little balls about the size of pingpong balls. Place them on a large plate. Cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for them to firm up.

6. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

7. Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the balls, without crowding the pan, until they are golden all over.

8. To assemble the sandwich, cut the baguette in half and slice it lengthwise but not all the way. Smear some of the sauce on both sides. Lay the herbs, pickles, and the tempeh balls. Add some hot sauce on top if you like. Close the baguette. Enjoy!

*How to cook short-grain brown rice (“Rundkorn Naturreis” in German. You can find it at organic supermarkets or sometimes at DM)

1 cup short-grain brown rice (soaked for 4-8 hours, if possible)

1.5 cups water

In a saucepan with fitting lid, bring the rice and water to the boil. Turn down the heat to low, and steam the rice for 30-40mins until the rice is tender, and has absorbed all the water. Remove the pan from the heat. Let it stand for 5 mins before fluffing the rice with fork.