Roasted Asparagus and Poached Egg with Yellow Miso Hollandaise

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I’m sure some of you know I’m on Instagram. I resisted on using for years because I thought it was for people who can’t take photos. Ooops. Did I mention I’m not the greatest photographer in the world? Silly me. I ended up downloading the app a year ago and started using it once in a while, until it became a daily thing. I used to take photos of food and post them on Facebook, but I didn’t want to annoy people by posting too many photos. Instagram seemed like a perfect sphere for posting food photos without people looking at you weird. Plus I didn’t have to face questions like, “why do you always take photos of your food?” , “everything you post is about food!”, “oh my god Ange, you are obsessed!” 😄

Anyways, I’ve started following chefs like Rene Redzepi and David Chang, magazines like Bon Appetit, and websites like Food52 or thekitchn.com. The photos they post are not only far better quality than mine, but sometimes I get inspired by the dishes they create. The other day, Momofuku (the famous restaurant empire by David Chang) posted a dish that perfectly captured spring. So, I waited until yesterday when the farmer’s market was open, to buy fresh asparagus, and recreate the dish from the photo. The miso is unusual in a hollandaise, but it gives a subtle umami kick to this classic french sauce. My kitchen lab rat friend yesterday tasted and approved so I hope you guys like it too. It probably tastes nothing like the exact dish you would eat at Momofuku, but I hope it’s close!

Ps. My sambar recipe was the winning recipe of the week two weeks ago in The Guardian Recipe Swap.  Needless to say, I was stoked! The coleslaw with peanut dressing was also printed in The Guardian this weekend. It totally made my day! 🙂

Roasted Asparagus and Poached Egg with Yellow Miso Hollandaise

Re-created by an Instagram photo from Momofuku.

Note: I make my hollandaise in a hand-held emersion blender. If you don’t own one, I guess you will need a bit more elbow grease than me. Just whisk vigorously while trickling in the melted butter. 

Serves 2

400g green asparagus (preferably local), trimmed.

A good drizzle of olive oil

A good pinch of salt

2 poached eggs (see here to learn how to poach an egg properly. And practice. From 1:49)

For the hollandaise,

100g butter

1.5-2 tsp  yellow miso paste

1 egg yolk

1.5 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or substitute with lemon juice)

To serve,

Furikake (Japanese rice seasoning. Skip it if you don’t have it)

1. Melt the butter and whisk in the miso until well emulsified.

2. Fill a small saucepan with water, enough to fill about a quarter of the pan. Bring to boil and turn the heat down and keep it on a simmer. In a smaller pan (a double broiler), add the egg yolk and the rice vinegar. Whisk over the simmering water until frothy (Do NOT let the pan touch the water!). Transfer the egg mixture to a bowl or the long cylindrical container that usually comes with the hand-held emersion blender.

3. Trickle the melted butter into the egg yolk, either with the blender running, or constantly whisking. Do this until the butter is used up and you are left with a beautiful, silky sauce.  (NOTE: Always add the butter a bit by bit, otherwise you will split the sauce. Should this unfortunate disaster happen in your kitchen, trickle some cold water. Mine never split, so I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve heard that trickling in some cold water into the split sauce while whisking helps. But if you trickle in the melted butter slowly, a bit by bit, while constantly whisking or the blender running, you won’t be left with a split hollandaise!)  Keep the sauce warm.

4. Preheat the grill function in your oven to high. Fill a large oven-proof frying pan ( with water and bring to boil. Boil the asparagus for 1 minute and drain. Lay the asparagus on a clean tea towel to absorb the moisture. Wipe the pan clean and add the asparagus back in the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some salt. Slide the frying pan under the grill for about 8-10 minutes until they are nicely roasted. Keep an eye on them after 5 minutes though. Every oven is different.

5. Poach the eggs according to your method. Or watch this video  from 1:49.

6. To serve, place the asparagus on a plate, and place an egg on top. Drizzle with as much hollandaise you would like, and sprinkle some furikake on top, if using. (Note, by now the hollandaise might have cooled down. Just place the pan over simmering water again and whisk until the sauce has warmed and loosened up)

Artichokes, fennel, and sweet onions braised in wine

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I traveled to Sicily in 2011 around Easter. It was a big family trip with my boyfriend’s brother’s family and the parents. We stayed in Agrigento in the south of the island, in a big house over looking the sea. We visited the ancient greek temples, ate at some great local restaurants, dipped my feet in the sea (only once. It was too cold for me, but the boys didn’t seem to mind. Brrr!), soaked up the sunshine a little too much and ended up having lobster legs.

It was definitely an eye-opening culinary experience. I took my own knife as usual, thinking I would be cooking a couple of times only. But after seeing all the incredible produce at the supermarket, fruit&veg stores and roadside vendors, I cooked many more meals than I intended. It was a quite a challenge to cook for 9 people with limited kitchen space and utensils – thank god I took my knife and Microplane-, but really, it was like being in heaven for me to be able to get my hands on the fresh vegetables and fruits, delicious cheeses and cured meats. The artichokes were in abundance at the time. Whenever I looked, there were artichokes being sold 20 cents each. I even found some at a bakery (?!)

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Although you would never find an artichoke for 20 cents unless you are in Italy, the Italian vendor at the farmer’s market in Leipzig has fresh and inexpensive artichokes, sold at 80 cents-1 euro each. I saw them yesterday and couldn’t help myself to buy a few. This dish I created really reminded me of Sicily. The artichoke hearts, fennel wedges, and sweet Calabrian sweet red onions (cipolla rosa) are braised gently in dry vermouth, anchovy, lemon slices, coriander seeds, and Kalamata olives. The melange of these vegetables and wine create a lovely savoury broth that you can mop up with some bread, or even served with couscous if you like. The leftover broth can be used to poach eggs too.

If you don’t know how to trim artichokes, click on the link I provided in the recipe. It’s not hard at all and once you get the hang of it, they can be trimmed in minutes. To choose artichokes, make sure the leaves (or really, they are petals) are tightly closed and the head should be firm. Another trick is to rub the artichoke between your hands. If they make a squeaky sound, then you know the artichoke has been harvested not long ago.

Enjoy! xo-A.

Artichokes, fennel, and sweet onions braised in wine

Note: Vegans, you know the drill; leave out the anchovies and just add a couple more olives. They will give enough depth to the dish. 

Serves 2 generously as a main dish

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 anchovy fillet, finely chopped

1/2 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed

3 medium sized globe artichokes, trimmed down to hearts. Halved. (Click here if you don’t know how)

250g sweet red onions (cipolla rosa) or regular red onions, cut into bite-sized wedges

1 fennel (about 200-250g) cut into 1.5cm wedges (save the fonds for garnish)

180ml dry vermouth or white wine

180ml light vegetable stock

1-2 tsp salt

8 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped

6 peppercorns, lightly crushed

2 thin slices lemon

4 mint leaves, finely chopped

2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Fruity olive oil, to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and fry for about 5 minutes until they start to become soft. Add the anchovies and coriander seeds and sautee for 1 minute.

2. Add the artichokes, fennel, and onions. Sautee for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the wine, water or stock, lemon slices, peppercorns, olives and salt. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to medium-low. With the lid slightly ajar, braise gently for about 25-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the herbs and fennel fonds, if using. Check for seasoning.

4. Serve the vegetables and a small ladle of braising liquid with a drizzle of fruity olive oil. This is best eaten with some crusty bread on the side.

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Watercress and Lentil Salad with Citrus Dressing

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Hi guys! The sun is shining, there are no clouds to be seen, and it’s 18 degrees today! I’m making this a quick post so I can go out and soak up some sun and walk around in my ballerinas.

This substantial salad I just made for lunch can be served either on its own or as a starter. Watercress is rich in in vitamin C, K, and other nutrients, and its peppery taste makes a great food to awaken our sleepy bodies from winter and revive the taste buds. The citrus dressing gives zesty and sweet contrast to watercress and lentils. Go! Make this salad! xo-A.

Watercress and Lentil Salad with Citrus Dressing

*Note: If you live in an area where watercress is hard to come by, then substitute with rocket or other peppery leaves. For Leipzigers, I know it’s virtually impossible to get watercress here, but I finally found some at Macis Bioladen in the refrigerated section. Pricey, yes, but definitely worth it!

Slightly adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry

Serves 2 hungry people as a main dish, or 4 as a starter

For the lentils,

1 cup beluga lentils, rinsed

2 1/2 cups water

3/4 tsp salt

For the dressing,

Juice of 1 pink grapefruit (about 120ml)

Juice of 1/2 orange (about 60ml)

Zest of 1/2 orange

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp maple syrup or honey

1/2 clove garlic, germ removed

80ml fruity olive oil

1 tsp salt

60g watercress

4-5 mint leaves, shredded

Slices of 1 avocado

1. First, cook the lentils. In a medium pan, combine the lentils, water, and salt. Bring to boil and simmer for 25-30 mins until the lentils are cooked but not mushy. It’s better for them to have a slight bite than to be falling apart, so check their doneness after 20 mins. When they are done, drain them well.

2. For the dressing, combine grapefruit juice, orange juice, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and turn the heat down to medium-high. Simmer for 5-10 mins, or until the juices are reduced by about half. Remove from the heat.

3. Combine the reduced juices, lemon juice, garlic, maple syrup, salt, and olive oil in an immersion blender. Blend for a minute or two until the dressing is well emulsified. Taste and check for balance of saltiness, sourness, and sweetness. One of these tastes should not dominate the other.

4. Toss the warm lentils with 3/4 of the dressing. Leave to cool on the counter for 30 mins- 1 hour. (this process will make the lentils soak up the dressing) When the lentils are no longer warm, toss gently with watercress and mint. Taste and see if the salad needs more dressing. Serve with slices of avocado.
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Crunchy broccoli in chili and garlic oil Ă  la Chinabrenner

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There is a small handful of restaurants in Leipzig that I really like and respect, and Chinabrenner is on that list. It is situated in Plagwitz, a former industrial area of Leipzig, and the restaurant is in an old warehouse building.  My ex flatmate told me about this place many years ago. She used to work around the corner from Chinabrenner, and I remember her telling me about a chinese place where you can get a bowl of stir-fry and rice with a cup of tea for 4 euros that doesn’t taste like boring old oily take away chinese food (!). They didn’t used to have dinner back then, I don’t think. Nowadays, lunch costs 6.50, which isn’t bad actually, and they have great dinner. Soooo good, in fact. It comes with a price tag in the evening, but it is worth going all the way to Plagwitz area for authentic chinese, mostly Szechuan cuisine. (I actually don’t like to use the word “authentic” but it is really that good).

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I went to China on an orchestra tour almost 4 years ago. Despite people telling me about their negative experiences in China, I ate incredibly well there. I ate mostly vegetarian, and Vegetarian Lifestyle in Shanghai was definitely a highlight. I also ate at an upscale Szechuan specialty restaurant in Beijing (not that Szechuan is anywhere near there..) which was also fantastic, and a tongue numbing experience. Since then, I have been interested in cooking chinese. Watching this documentary from BBC with the great Ken Hom and ChingHe Huang made me even more eager to learn.

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One of Chinabrenner’s dishes that all my friends and I order every time, is cold broccoli. The broccoli florets are barely cooked, and they are dressed in a pretty large quantity of spicy chili and garlic oil, sprinkled with a healthy dosage of Szechuan pepper. Man, do those tiny peppers numb your tongue! My attempt at this dish might not taste exactly like at the restaurant, but I think it’s pretty close. I reduced the amount of oil, and added slightly more acidity, making the dish more salad like. The key to this dish is to barely cook the broccoli. I add the florets in boiling water for 30 seconds only, just enough to take out their raw edge. The chili bean paste among other ingredients can be found at Asian stores.  Bon Appetit!

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Crunchy Broccoli in Chili and Garlic Oil

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 large head broccoli, cut into small florets and the stalk peeled and chopped into matchsticks
60ml vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 hot chili flakes OR 1-2 dried hot chili, crumbled.
1 Tbsp Shao Shing Wine
2 1/2 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp Rice vinegar
1/2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar or dark chinese vinegar
1 tsp chinese chili bean paste
1 tsp Szechuan pepper, toasted and roughly ground
1 tsp sugar

1. Bring a pot of water and a teaspoon of salt to boil. Add the broccoli and boil for 30 seconds only. Drain and refresh under cold water to stop them cooking. Let the broccoli drain well.
2. In a small frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chili flakes. As soon as they start to sizzle, turn the heat down to low and let them soften for 10 minutes.
3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Add the garlic and chili oil and whisk to combine.
4. Put the well drained broccoli in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing. Chill for an hour in the fridge and serve.

A Christmas Salad

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Happy 2nd Advent everyone! ‘Tis 17 more days till Christmas. I had a very calm advent all by myself, as my boyfriend was away having two concerts in one day. Having the apartment all to myself, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I watched Searching for Sugar Man, a fantastic documentary that brought a couple of tears to my eyes. Then I went into the city to buy some chocolate to make these delicious black bean chocolate biscuits. Having turned on the oven for the biscuits, I roasted the butternut pumpkin right after the biscuits came out, and proceeded to make this Christmas salad creation of mine that I had in mind for some days now.

As my close friends have probably realized by now, kale is my top 5 favourite vegetable. I wait eagerly for it to arrive when the weather turns cold. This year, the arrival of my beloved leafy veggie was almost 3 weeks late due to warm autumn. It was really cold, I swear, but according to the girl at my Demeter stand at the market, it was apparently too warm for kale to grow and be harvested here in Germany. The first time I tasted kale was only about 6 years ago in my shared flat with Paige. She bought this weird curly looking leafy vegetable on a november day, and made me a simple bowl of pasta drizzled with a hint of balsamic vinegar in the end. It was so delicious that I was hooked from then. (Thanks!) Coming originally from Korea, I welcome anything leafy in my kitchen; spinach, any kind of salad leaves, steamed pumpkin leaves, or other delicious Korean leafy vegetable that become a part of “Banchan” (side dishes)  -And may I add, 2007 was a time before kale became a hipster vegetable that everyone blogged about. 🙂

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I have been eating kale in salads for just over a year now. I thought it needed to be cooked, as the leaves are kind of tough to be eaten raw. But after reading recipes on other blogs, I learned if you marinade the leaves in something acidic like lemon or vinegar, the leaves wilt and become tenderized. This particular salad uses the best of autumn/winter vegetables. Roasted butternut cubes are a frequent guest in my kitchen, and roasting red onions bring out their sweetness with a slight hint of smokiness. Pomegranate seeds not only look like pretty little pink jewels, the juice that bursts out when you bite into each seed taste lightly tangy and sweet. I tossed in some cooked chestnuts in the spirit of Christmas too. The dressing is made with heavenly brown butter that taste nutty (hence the name in french, Beurre Noisette), and you can detect all the Christmas-y spices like cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla. The taste of these spices are subtle, but I like it that way. If you would like more of a kick, then feel free to adjust the amount of spices.

Have a nice week! And bon appetit!

A Christmas Salad (Kale, roasted butternut&red onion, pomegranate, and chestnut salad in spiced brown butter dressing)Phew, that was long! 

Serves: 2 as a starter (can be easily doubled or tripled)

A bunch of kale (About 7-8 stalks)

1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar or juice of a 1/2 lemon

A good drizzle of olive oil

1/2 small butternut pumpkin, cut into big-ish cubes

5 very small red onions, peeled and halved

4 Tbsp pomegranate seeds (or more, if you like)

5 chestnuts (I used cooked and vacuum-packed variety for faster preparation), chopped roughly

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, finely chopped

20g butter

1/3 of a vanilla pod, halved length-wise

1/3 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 tsp ground ginger

1/3 tsp ground cumin

A pinch of chili flakes (optional)

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

salt&pepper

1. Separate the kale leaves from the stalks. Discard the stalks. Chop the kale leaves into small bite-sized pieces. If the leaves seem to be tough, cut them into shreds. Toss the kale leaves with red wine vinegar, a good drizzle of olive oil, and a good pinch of salt. Massage the leaves briefly so they leaves soak up the dressing evenly. Leave for 30mins or more. This will wilt and tenderize the leaves.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Peel and chop the butternut into big–ish cubes. Toss the butternut with red onion halves in olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Lay them on a baking sheet in one layer, not too crowded, and bake for 20-30 mins until lightly browned and lightly tender. (check after 15 mins) The butternut pumpkin should not be over cooked. The cubes should retain their shape.

3. Make the dressing. Mix the shallot and vinegar in a bowl to macerate. In a small pan, melt the butter in medium-low heat. Keep heating the butter until there are brown bits appearing on the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on the pan, as butter can burn very quickly. Once the butter smells nutty and brown bits have formed, pour it into the bowl of vinegar and shallot.

4. Add the ground ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and chili flakes (if using) into the melted butter. Scrape the seeds off the vanilla pod and add to the butter as well. Add the vinegar, salt (I added 1/2 tsp, but taste as you go), and pepper. Whisk to emulsify. Taste the dressing, and add more spices, or salt to your liking.

5. Toss the kale, roasted butternut, chestnuts, pomegranate, and roasted onion with half of the dressing. (gently!). Taste if the salad needs more dressing. Add more to your liking, but the dressing should not overpower the salad.

Fennel, goat’s cheese, and grape tart

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Hi everyone. I just realized it’s been a week since I posted anything. I have been cooking everyday, developing a couple of recipes as well. Unfortunately these recipes were made either in a hurry, eaten out of extreme hunger, or I had guests coming, so I forgot take photos. Oops. Next time. I have a thai flavored recipe coming up soon!

In meanwhile, here’s a quick tart topped with thinly sliced fennel, shallots, goat’s cheese, and red grapes, and sprinkled with a whisper of fresh rosemary leaves. I think it yells out, Autumn! don’t you think? 😉

I was cleaning out my freezer the other day and found not just one, but four packets of puff pastry. I couldn’t remember the last time I cooked with them, so clearly I had to use them up ASAP. Puff pastry is a perfect standby for a quick lunch or dinner. You can think of any number of toppings to go on top (savory or sweet), bake for 20 minutes, and voila! Who says cooking is annoying and time consuming?

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Fennel, goat’s cheese, and red grapes tart

Serves: 2 as main, 4 as appetizer

1/2 packet of puff pastry (or 4 squares, like the ones I had), thawed for 5 minutes

1 small fennel bulb or 1/2 of a large bulb

2 small shallots

1/2 tsp lemon juice

100g soft goat’s cheese, with or without rind

a handful of red grapes

1 sprig rosemary

Olive oil

salt&pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2. Slice the fennel bulb very thinly. A mandolin slicer works best for this job, but if you don’t have one, use a sharp knife or potato peeler to shave off slices.

3. Thinly slice shallots. In a medium bowl, mix shallots and fennel slices with a good drizzle olive oil and lemon juice. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

4. Evenly distribute the fennel-shallot mixture on the puff pastry, leaving 1-2cm of the edges unfilled.

5. Top with slices of goats cheese, grapes, snippets of rosemary. Drizzle with some more olive oil.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the puff pastry is golden. Check the bottom of the pastry and make sure it’s fully cooked.

7. Serve warm. Be careful when biting into grapes. They are very hot! I burnt my mouth eating these tarts straight out of the oven.

Spicy Moroccan Vegetable Soup with Charmoula

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This soup was inspired by a typical Provençal soup, Soupe au Pistou. It’s a summer vegetable soup, usually containing green beans, zucchini, and white beans., topped with a dollop of basil pesto minus the parmasan. I had a half of a very large sweet potato, cooked chickpeas and green beans in my fridge from cooking an adapted version of this last night. While flicking through Moro East, a wonderful cookbook from the famed restaurant, Moro, in London, I’ve come across a recipe for Charmoula. I have made this fragrant paste once years ago but haven’t made it since. It is a kind of a pesto of coriander (or cilantro to Americans) and garlic, and it is used to marinate meat and fish in Morocco. It reminds me of Chimichuri paste from Argentina or Gremolata from Italy; zesty, herby, and lifts up the dish.

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This soup is moderately spicy, and has fragrant and warming spices that are typically used in Moroccan cuisine, and also they are perfect for chilly weather. The vegetable content can be varied depending on what you have in your fridge. But I recommend you to buy the last batch of green beans that can be found at your farmer’s market before they go out of season. Sweet potato gives a gentle sweetness to the soup, which is nice, but a carrot or two could also be used instead. And last but not least, beans. I realize it’s much easier to just pop into the supermarket and get a canned beans, but I can assure you, not only the  taste of a home cooked beans is far more superior, but the cooking liquid from the beans gives any stew or soup dish a great depth. Happy cooking everyone! DSC_1083 DSC_1079 Spicy Moroccan Vegetable Soup with Charmoula

Serves: 2 very hungry people or 4 as appetizer

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp ground ginger

a big pinch of cinnamon

5 allspice berries (optional)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2  garlic, finely chopped

1 red chili, de-seeded and chopped (I didn’t de-seed mine and the soup was almost too spicy)

1-2 Tbs olive oil

1/2 large sweet potato, or 1 small-medium, in small dice

Two handfuls of green beans, cut in 2-3cm segments

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup cooked chickpeas*  (use canned if you are in a hurry. Rinse and drain before use)

1 litre vegetable stock (mix in the cooking liquid from the chickpeas too, if you have some)

Salt & Pepper (I used about a teaspoon of salt but your salt might be less saltier than mine)

For Charmoula (roughly adapted from Moro East Cookbook)

1 small bunch of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

1/4 preserved lemon (pulp discarded), finely chopped

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp paprika powder

2 Tbs lemon juice (or more to taste)

1 small clove of garlic

1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant. Transfer them to mortar&pestle or a spice grinder, and grind them into a rough powder. Set aside in a small bowl, and add the ground ginger, paprika, cinnamon, and allspice berries.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot in medium-low heat. Sautée onion and garlic gently for about 6-7 minutes until soft. Do NOT let them brown. Control your heat accordingly.

3. Add the mixed spices and cook briefly for 20 second or until fragrant.

4. Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, vegetable stock and salt. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Add the green beans and tomatoes, bring the soup to boil again, and let it simmer for further 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.

6. Serve with a dollop of Charmoula on top of the soup. Bon appétit!

Charmoula (For Leipzigers, preserved lemons can be found at the Middle Eastern Market on Karl-Heinestr. across from SchaubĂŒhne Lindenfels) While the soup is simmering, make Charmoula. Pound a clove of garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt. Add coriander and pound until it resembles a rough paste. (This can be done in a food processor or an hand-held blender) Stir in the rest of the ingredient until blended. Be careful with salt in this paste, as preserved lemon can be quite salty.