Chestnut Gnocchi with caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Onion

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

DSC_5763

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.

Roasted Asparagus and Poached Egg with Yellow Miso Hollandaise

DSC_1903

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!” XD

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)

Roasted beetroots, carrots, and fennel in blood orange and coriander seeds + Blue cheese-horseradish sauce

DSC_1421

Huuuuraaaaaah!! Finally, after years of dark, gloomy and miserable winters, this winter proved to be a quite a good one in Germany. I haven’t seen this much sunshine during winter in years! It was just too much sometimes! I’m joking obviously. Last winter was probably the worst ever. There was not even 100 hours of sunshine in three months. Imagine that! I got sick 6 times during winter and spring, which is very unusual for me. I occasionally get the common cold but not 6 times in six months. This year, none. I wasn’t sick at all! Huraaaaaaaah!  (Ooops. Knock on wood…..)

Anyways. Here’s a dish that will bring even more sunshine and zest to your plate. And especially  to those who suffer from the worst winter ever in wherever you are, probably in the States. A friend wrote me, saying it was -17 degrees fahrenheit when she woke up. That’s…. well, let’s not calculate that to celsius. Ouch.

DSC_1409

DSC_1415

I like roasting vegetables during winter, as I’m sure many of you do too. It warms up the apartment, and it’s basically carefree cooking. Just chop some vegetables, coat in some oil, herbs, and whatever else, in the oven for 40 mins, then voilà! Your dinner is served. This dish I made last night involves coating carrots, beetroots, and fennel in blood orange juice and coriander seeds. Sounds weird? Not to me. Orange is a natural partner of all those vegetables in this dish. Coriander seeds, with their flowery and zesty note, pairs well with the rest of the ingredients without being too overpowering. I usually use regular orange, but blood orange was on sale at my organic store, and these oranges are blink-and-miss fruit of the season, so I thought I would make a good use out of them. They are slightly sharper than the regular orange, so I added a little maple syrup to tone the acidity down. The blue cheese-horseradish sauce gives a nice contrast to earthy, sweet, and zesty roast. I thought it was an odd idea myself when I started making it, but my boyfriend said it matched very well to the vegetables. So I trust his judgement for now. I hope you try it and tell me if they go well together. However, if you are too lazy to make the sauce, just crumble some blue cheese on the vegetables before serving.

Have a sunny day everyone!

wpid-IMG_20140202_171107.jpg

Roasted beetroots, carrots, and fennel in blood orange and coriander seeds +blue cheese horseradish sauce on a bed of farro

Note: Farro is called Zart Dinkel in German. You can get it at big organic stores. In Leipzig, I bought mine at Macis in the Innenstadt. If you are too lazy to make the blue cheese sauce, just crumble some on top of the vegetables before serving. Goats cheese could work as well.

Serves 2-3

For roasted veggies,

500g carrots, scrubbed, un-peeled if organic.

250g beetroots, scrubbed and peeled

1 large bulb fennel

150g small red onions, peeled

Juice of 2 blood oranges

1 tsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp toasted coriander seeds, lightly crushed

30ml olive oil

1.5 tsp salt

For Farro,

1 tsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove

1 cup Farro, washed in several changes of water and drained (Zart-Dinkel, can be purchased at organic stores if you are in Germany)

300ml vegetable stock

Salt

For blue cheese-horseradish sauce,

50g gorgonzola or other mild blue cheese

50ml sour cream

1-2tsp prepared horseradish cream

1 small handful dill, chopped

A squeeze of lemon

Zest of 1/2 blood orange

Salt&Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

2. Chop the beetroots into bite sized cubes. Cut the carrots in half crosswise, and then lengthwise. Cut the onions in half. Cut the fennel into thick wedges

3. Put the veggies in a large bowl. Add the orange juice, maple syrup, olive oil, coriander seeds, and 1.5 tsp salt. Toss to coat. Spread the veggies out on a cookie sheet or a baking tray. Roast for 40-50 mins, stirring occasionally.

4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onions and garlic, and fry gently until softened. Add the farro and vegetable stock, and a big pinch of salt. Cover, bring it to boil, and let it simmer for 15-20 mins until tender. Let it stand for 5 mins before taking off the lid. If there is too much water left in the pan, drain briefly and put it back int he pan. Fluff up the grains.

5. To make the sauce, mash the blue cheese with fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.

6. To serve: Either on a big platter or on individual plates, spread out the cooked farro. Add the veggies on top, including any juice that’s left in the pan. You can either serve the sauce on the side, or on top.

Crunchy broccoli in chili and garlic oil à la Chinabrenner

wpid-20140121_191946_1.jpg

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).

wpid-20140121_190548_1.jpg

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.

wpid-20140121_185007.jpg

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!

2014-01-22 10.25.22

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.