Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gluten-free biryani and carrot fritters

You know when you have leftovers and it's just a cup of this and a cup of that? Things that you can't exactly serve to anyone but yourself, standing eating at the kitchen counter?

All. The. Time.

This week, my friend's wife sent me a tupperware of chicken biryani and I liked it so so SO MUCH that I ate just a few spoonful at a time until I realized that I didn't have enough left for a meal.

Desperate, I raided the fridge and BOOM! Magic.

I don't know about your fridge but I think mine is a magic box. Whenever I am at the end of the food rope, I just need to stick my head in there and all kinds of fun ideas pop up.

So here we go, enjoy these fritters because I did. I actually had to portion it to not eat the whole batch.

(Biryani) Rice and carrot fritters

- 1.5 cup of biryani or plain cooked rice.
-3 medium carrots, shredded, squeezed well
-3 eggs
-1 Tbsp curry powder (more if you have plain rice)
-3 Tbsp minced mint leaves
-salt and pepper to taste
-coconut oil for the pan

Mint yogurt sauce

-1/2 Cup plain yogurt
-1 Tbsp minced mint leaves
-1 tsp lemon juice
***For sauce, mix all ingredients together.

Mix all fritters ingredients together. Heat a small knob of coconut oil in pan over medium heat. Drop a few tablespoons of mixture and fry a few minutes each side until golden. Serve warm with mint yogurt sauce.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Almond pulp (gluten free) apple and peach cobbler

I saw Christmas decoration in store last week. Seriously? At least wait until I've had my turkey and pumpkin pie guys!!!! I haven't even thought of a Halloween costume yet!!!

We are having Indian summer this week and it's beautiful outside. I love that there are red leaves everywhere but it's hot and sweaty which definitely makes it easier for me to stop denying that fall is here. Soon, everything will be about stews and roasts, pumpkins and sweet potatoes, apples and cobblers.

HMMM.... Cobblers.....I. LOVE. COBBLERS!!!!

As I have been eating sans gluten, cobblers would have been hard not to have anymore. It's like a poem, you know? A beautiful fragrant to start, a bite of the soft sweet apple chunks to lure you into the story and then the buttery crunch. Without that buttery crunch, the poem doesn't finish well. It's still good, don't get me wrong but that crunch... oh that crunch..

Ehem... sorry.. I got a little distracted there... But I'm back! So as I am on a roll with this almond pulp thing, I thought why not use almond pulp instead of flour? I went to ask my close friend Google and I found one that sounds really really good, and I went on from there.

This recipe is really easy and fast I can assure you that. It was inspired from Cinnamon Eats and I substituted a couple of things and made it the lazy way.

Gluten free almond pulp cobbler
-5 apples
-3 peaches (optional. I had peaches left over so I just threw them in there)
-juice of 1 lemon
-2-3 cups of almond pulp (yield from 1 cup of whole almonds when I made the milk)
-1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (use less if you prefer. I like mine cinnamon-y)
-a few shakes of ground cloves
-a few shakes of grated nutmeg
-1/2 cup butter
-1/4 cup honey (I used raw because that's what I had)
-a handful of raw pumpkin seeds

Turn oven to 350F
Slice the apples and peaches and toss them with the lemon juice in a glass baking dish (I used a 9x11 because I couldn't find the 8x8)
Mix almond pulp and spices.
Melt butter and honey and add into dry mixture. Spoon on top of fruit slices and spread.
Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds. Bake for 50 minutes then turn the oven off and leave it in there to keep warm

Sunday, September 21, 2014

4-ingredient almond pulp cookies

Hi there! :) How have you been?

Yes, I know I've been away for quite a while... but let's just pretend that my last post was a couple of weeks ago, shall we? After all, I'm sure life has been very exciting for you so you probably didn't miss me too much, right?


Oh... I was hoping that you'd say you did miss me so so much....

Well, in any case, I  am going to try to buy back my time with you with this cookies recipe. I promise they are good. Scout honor.

So this whole time away I made movies, I made cakes and I made almond milk. Delicious plain and chocolate almond milk. There is nothing really special about my almond milk compared to yours, no. Just good old four cups water to one cup raw almonds. This means that I was accumulating almond pulp and I must say, I started to freak out a little bit. It was my guilty conscience telling me I was supposed to make delicious stuff with it really fast and my lazy brain whispering: "You don't have a dehydrator... Do you really want to mess around with this crumbly wet pile?"

Needless to say, the world wide web had many suggestions. My brain was right, drying almond pulp??? Oh hell no! As I realized that most of the recipes required extra ingredients that my wallet shook its head to and the amount of almond pulp used was not as much as the pile was growing, I decided that I'd just randomly mix things into my crumbly wet pile and made cookies.

O.M.G. SO. GOOD. My colleagues love them. I love them. The texture apparently reminded one colleague of camping bars (delicious ones obviously!) They are gluten-free and vegetarian friendly!!!

So without further boring you, I am sharing one of the two recipes I came up with as the other one needs to be tested again.

Almond pulp banana cookies:
(about 20-24 cookies)

-3 cups almond pulp (plain or chocolate)
-1 large banana
-1 egg
-1/2 cup sugar

Turn your oven to 350 F
Mix everything together well. Line your cookie sheets with parchment papers. Scoop 1 tablespoon  of mixture for each cookie, flatten them slightly with the back of a spoon or fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until there are golden specs on top. Cool cookies on racks, keep them in a tightly closed tupperware in the fridge for a few days (Mine never last more than 24 hours... LOL!!!!)

Good luck eating just one!!!! :P

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sticky rice with Chinese sausage, pork floss & fried onions

There are people in our lives that even though are not close to us, stay in our mind forever. They are part of our everyday life for a while, and then are gone, but we will always remember them because without them, that part of our lives wouldn't be the same.

For me, there was many when I was a kid growing up in Vietnam. There was the lady with the newspaper stall that my mom & I would stop by every Wednesday to pick up our reading. There was the stick thin man who was so poor that all he had was a cubic shack made of pieces of tole & raincoats; he would guard people's motorbikes while they would go eat at one of the many restaurants on our street. The Chinese man with his small glass cart of green papaya & beef jerky salad who would click his giant scissors to let us know that he was around. Once in a while there was the peanut candy man with a boombox playing loud cheesy music who made me turn up the volume on my Walkman.

But there was one in particular that I would see almost every morning during my summer vacations: the sticky rice lady. She would walk from street to street balancing her two baskets of different kinds of sticky rice while simultaneously chanting: "Sticky rice! Sticky rice! Who wants sticky rice?" and her pace would slow down whenever she reached our gate. She would stay a little while longer in the front until I faithfully ran down the stairs yelling: "Sticky rice lady!" She always had many kinds of sticky rice in one basket: red grain, cochinchin gourd, corn, pandan, peanut, and in the other one, there was condiments: mung bean paste, sesame seeds, ground peanuts, sesame salt, tapioca strings, coconut flakes.


I tried everything she made, but my favorite was always the combination of pandan sticky rice, slathered with mung bean paste, topped with a few fat chewy tapioca strings, sprinkled with coconut flakes and all wrapped into a roll with a rice paper (the kind we use in torrone)

Don't judge me.

Now that I'm older, I make my own sticky rice and  here I share with you another of my favorite: "xoi lap xuong cha bong" that I made for Tet which everyone really enjoyed.

Xoi lap xuong cha bong ( Sticky rice with Chinese sausage & pork floss)
(serves 4)
  • 2 cups of glutinous rice
  • 4 Chinese sausages 
  • 2 sprigs of green onion, sliced
  • a handful of pork floss (I bought mine at the Asian grocery store)
  • few drizzles of soy sauce
  • fried onions (also bought at the Asian grocery store)
Soak the rice in cold water over night & make sure the water line is way above the rice line. When ready to cook, drain & steam in a bamboo steamer or a regular one for about 10-15 minutes. You should check after 10 minutes to see how much longer you need, because it all depends on how long you've soaked the rice.You can also cook the rice in a rice cooker but the texture will be a bit more gooey.

Boil the sausages for a few minutes so they don't dry out when cooked and get too hard to chew, then slice them up. Heat a pan over medium heat, cook the sausages for a few minutes, then a minute right before it's done, drizzle some soy sauce over it and toss in the green onions.

Mix the sausages into the sticky rice. Top with pork floss, fried onions and serve!

Many years later, after I've moved to Canada, one of the first things my grandma said to me when I came back to visit was: "The sticky rice lady still asked about you for a long time after you were gone. She doesn't come around anymore because she knows you don't live here anymore"

...I realized that I never asked her name. After all those years!!! *sigh*

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vietnamese mango & shrimp salad

As a kid, Tết (Vietnamese New Year / Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year) meant that I'd spend days munching on water melons, melon seeds, sweets & tart kumquats that I'd secretly pick from the kumquat trees we had in the house, the equivalence of the Christmas tree here (We were not supposed to pick at them because they end up not looking as nice anymore by the time it's the new year, so I'd take the fruits from the side that was against the wall hoping it wouldn't show. LOL!)

 (Image from here)

On the first morning of Tết, my cousins & I would dress up in our new clothes & greet our grandparents, uncles & aunts with extravagant wishes of health, happiness & longevity. Then, they'd hand us "li xi" of crisp new bills in red pouches. The upcoming days were visits from and/or to friends and extended family. Tet was exciting. Tet was lots of yummy food. Tet was the only holiday I'd look forward to.

Now, I mostly spend Tết with close friends instead of family because they are all far away. No flower festivals that line the main strip downtown for weeks on end. No firecrackers popping away through the night. The kumquats have been replaced with tangerines. I'm the one to make the food & give "li xi" because I am now the adult. Things have changed but one thing for sure, the love stays. Be it with friends or family, Tet is the time to spend with people you cherish and I wouldn't change it for the world!

This year, I continue the tradition.

One of the dishes that I will be serving at Tet dinner is this yummy mango salad (Other recipes will come soon) You can use the Asian green mangoes or the greener Fat Cat ones, which will be a bit sweeter. 

For a one-person lunch size:
Mix the  first four ingredients together, then top with mint & Vietnamese coriander. Sprinkle the peanuts on top just before eating to keep them crunchy.

*The advantage of making a jar of daikon & carrot pickle instead of buying it in the store, is saving money, having it on hand at anytime and you can add it in home-made "banh mi" (Vietnamese sandwich) I must warn you though, daikon smells strong.

**I don't really have a recipe for mixed fish sauce, simply because it all depends on your own taste. Some like it sweeter, some like it saltier, etc. But as the base recipe states: "one part lime or lemon juice, or occasionally vinegar, one part fish sauce, one part sugar and two parts water"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Soy sauce drumsticks

Chúc Mừng Nǎm Mới!!! Happy New Year!!!!  Bonne Année!!! Feliz Año Nuevo!!! Buon Anno!!! La Mulţi Ani!!! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!!!

Whichever language(s) you speak, write or understand, I wish you and your loved ones a new year filled with happiness, health, joy, laughter, smiles, and yummilicious food in your bellies.

Speaking of which, here is a short & savory "recipe" for your drumsticks. Simply delicious.

No, not YOUR drumsticks, but chicken drumsticks that you bought at the store/farm first thing this morning because almost nothing was opened yesterday on the 1st of January and you didn't want to purchase them in Chinatown for personal reasons... Don't worry, it'll be our little secret...

Calling this a "recipe" is really a stretch. All you need is:
  • enough soy sauce (to fill about 5mm high of a shallow baking pan or dish or whatever you want to marinade in) 
  • minced garlic (of about 3, 4 cloves)  
  • chopped shallots (1-2) 
  • drumsticks (I scored them with 2, 3 deep lines almost to the bone, horizontally so that they'd soak up the marinade better and cook well at the more meaty part without drying out or burning)
Line the chicken in the pan with the marinade and turn them over once in a while to ensure that the soy sauce coats all. Let stand for about an hour or two, or refrigerate over night and let cool before cooking.

Cook in a pan over medium heat with a bit of olive or vegetable oil, turning over once in a while to cook all sides. Once done (mine took about 30-35 minutes) place them on a big plate and sprinkle freshly ground pepper over the top.