Dau Fu Fa Syrup (Recipe)

Fresh soybean custard, also known as dau fu fa, is always better than those prepackaged ones. It’s hot, it’s healthy and it’s light.

Although I have yet to venture into the world of tofu making myself, I am fortunate enough to know a place that sells fresh batches for cheap. When you buy it to consume as a dessert, many add a sweet syrup to it. You could buy the syrup from the vendor, but it’s so easy to make at home. Although I mentioned the ingredients in my last post about this, here is an actual recipe for those who may be interested.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 sticks of cane sugar (sometimes the package says brown sugar)
  • 1 inch ginger, cut into thin slices
  • 2 cups of water

Directions:

In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar cane sticks and ginger. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sugar completely dissolves or until you get enough of the ginger flavour out. The longer it simmers, the more pungent the ginger.

After that, all you need to do is add it to a bowl with some dau fu fa and you’re good to go. You can also let it cool down and put it in the fridge for later use. It’s great to eat cold with dau fu fa.

Easy peasy, no? Have you ever tried eating this delicious soybean custard?

Tong Sum Fun – Macaroni Pasta Soup (Recipe) & Turkey Leftovers

After having turkey this past weekend for our Easter dinner, we had plenty of leftovers. And with leftovers, comes an endless list of crafty ideas on what to do with those leftovers to ensure nothing gets wasted. Thus, comes Tong Sum Fun – also known as Macaroni Pasta Soup! With a hodgepodge of ingredients, this is simple to make and a great way to clear out the fridge. It’s similar to a chicken noodle soup, only this time it has a bunch of ingredients from our dinner (and then some). Tong sum fun is also what my mom made frequently for us growing up when we were sick. You know how it is, when one kid gets sick, the other gets sick and repeat.

Although you can honestly add almost anything into this type of dish, our standard was always a good soup broth and macaroni pasta with some sort of veggies and meat. Here’s the one we made with our leftovers from Easter dinner.

Ingredients:

Directions:

In a pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions of the package and strain. Set aside. In a second pot, add chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Add all the remaining ingredients in and cook until they’re thoroughly heated. Add cooked and strained macaroni into a bowl and add the hot soup mix on top. Easy!

Of course, you could just make a salad with the leftovers as well. Here, I have a salad made with turkey, nuts, cucumber, tomato, peppers, egg, spinach, mixed greens, wakame salad and a few blocks of cheddar cheese for good measure. I personally hate adding salad dressing, but you could use something like Italian or a nice balsamic vinaigrette.

And then there’s an udon noodle stir fry with some onion, shrimp, cabbage, pepper and turkey.

There’s not much turkey left for this, but it’s there! Enjoy!

Mongolian Style Hot Pot

Have you ever tried eating a Mongolian hot pot? It’s something simple you can do at home or at a restaurant.

All you need is a mobile electric or propane gas stove, a pot, broth and a variety of food. For this particular occasion, we went to a restaurant that had a stove that was built into the table. The broths for hot pot can be spicy or sweet. We got the “yin yang” version, which has a divider in the middle of the pot so that you can have two broths simultaneously. However, when we do this at home, we like to have a satay flavoured broth and a simple chicken broth.

From there, you have a bunch of dishes that are raw/uncooked. When the broth boils, you can start adding a few items into the pot to cook. Items range from all sorts of thinly sliced meats, vegetables and seafood. The world is your oyster….and you can add oysters too. 😉 You can also cook noodles, Asian meatballs, dumplings, tofu and fungi. I wish I got a better photo of the variety of food that we had, but this was the best I could do. You can also have multiple dipping sauces on the side, like soy sauce, sesame oil, chili, etc. to enhance our cooked items.

When the food is done, you use a strainer to scoop the food out and then add more food into the pot. This restaurant only gave two communal strainers, but at home we like to have enough so that everyone has their own. Just remember which utensils you used to touch the raw foods. You don’t want to use those for eating! And if you find your broth is starting to get low, just add some water or chicken stock to it and continue cooking.

To me, the purpose of hot pot is to have an intimate social or family gathering. While you can technically just dump everything into one pot, boil and serve, hot pot is a meal that takes time because you gradually plop several items in periodically. The whole process is meant to be very gradual and relaxing. It’s also good for those who get a little fidgety just sitting around a dinner table. For me, the best part about hot pot is saving the noodles for last. By then, the broth is so rich in flavour that adding soup to it makes it so tasty! Have you ever tried a hot pot?

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Various locations in the U.S.A, Canada, China and Japan

Fish Head Soup (Recipe)

I know this sounds like an April Fools joke, but I swear it isn’t! Fish head soup is a great way to use those fish heads and a more economical way to get fish into your system by using parts other than the typical steaks or whole fish. It’s also surprisingly tasty – once you get over the fact its a head with eyeballs looking at you! And the best part is it’s a one-pot meal that’s very simple to make.

Ingredients:

6-8 pieces of salmon fish heads
Oil for cooking
Salt for seasoning
4-5 slices of ginger (to help reduce that fishy smell!)
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 cups of spinach, clean and strained

First, wash the fish heads by sprinkling salt generously over the pieces and then rinsing it off with water to get ride of that fishy slime. Then, heat a pan on high with some cooking oil and add the fish heads.

Cook all sides of the fish just to brown the outer layer and reduce the fishy smell. While cooking, add a sprinkle of salt over the fish. Throw in the pieces of ginger to reduce that fishy smell even more and add the chicken broth mixed with some water into the pan.

Bring the liquid to a boil and continue cooking until the fish. Just a minute before it’s almost done, add the spinach and stir.

When the spinach has wilted and the salmon is cooked, pour it into a big communal bowl for sharing.

Add a ladle and that’s it. It’s good to go. Sometimes I like to add some rice into my bowl to make it a bit more filling, but there’s plenty of protein and omega-3s in this meal. If you’re courageous enough, I dare you to eat the eyeball. 😉

I know this may sound gross to some, but if you love salmon you’ll love this easy-to-make soup. You can easily buy fish heads and have them pre-chopped by your local fish monger. Enjoy!

Chicken Barley Soup (Recipe)

Last week, we were teased with a glimpse of spring only to be blown away (literally) by the crazy winter cold again. Mother nature plays tricks on us! So, to warm up I made a soup with some barley. Although I naturally tend to lean towards a beef barley soup for some heartiness, I decided to make a chicken barley soup instead. This is an easy peasy one pot cookery recipe and it’s healthy too.

Chicken-Barley-Soup

Chicken Barley Soup

Ingredients:

400g skinless and boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
900 ml of chicken broth
3 cups of water
3/4 cup pot/pearl barley, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper

In a pot on medium heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the chicken cubes and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to seal in the juices.

Then, add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 45 minutes or until the barley is tender. From what I can gather, you can use pearl barley and pot barley interchangeably.

The soup tastes very similar to a chicken noodle soup, but the noodles were replaced with barley, making it a healthier alternative. For next time though, I would change the cut of the chicken cubes into smaller slices of chicken strips (like in a stir fry). 🙂

Chicken-Barley-Soup

Chicken Barley Soup

Note: the barley tends to soak up the liquid, so this soup is best eaten on the same day it’s made. Otherwise you’ll end up with a chunky porridge, unless that’s what you want. Enjoy! 🙂

Based off the recipe by Ricardo (Who? An an awesome Canadian chef from Québec)

Banana Pancakes (Recipe)

While McDonald’s has officially announced all day breakfast, I’m making my own (stay away McGriddle, you delicious, heart clogging sandwich!) – banana pancakes. I came across these years ago and it was a weird concept to me. Pancakes without any flour? Well, although this recipe isn’t quite the same as having fluffy, buttermilk pancakes, they are a healthy alternative! All it takes is three simple ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 banana
2 eggs
Cooking oil

Peel the banana and mash it into a bowl with a fork (or potato masher). Then, crack the two eggs and mix well.

Add a bit of oil to a non-stick pan on medium-low heat. Add some of the banana-egg mixture and cook until it’s stable enough to flip. Continue cooking until the other side is also golden brown and the pancake is no longer watery.

If you want circular pancakes, you may have to help guide it (translation: use a spatula to help reshape it as the batter tends to be a bit watery).

Although I don’t personally endorse a low-carb diet (everything in moderation is my motto), these banana pancakes are great to have. They’re moist and healthy and easy to make.  Just ensure you mix the batter properly, otherwise some pancakes will taste more eggy like a strange banana flavoured omelette. Whether you decide to eat it as a healthy breakfast (or snack), if you want to be naughty you can add some maple syrup or chocolate syrup on top. Enjoy! 🙂

 

A Hearty Chili (Recipe)

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas right? Well, everything but the food! One night after a leisurely stroll exploring the main strip of Vegas, my friends and I went to grab a bite. I was craving something salty, so I ordered a bowl of chili that came with a side of tortilla chips. Let’s just say I was satisfied!

IMG_2610 - Serendipity II Chili

Chili isn’t a very difficult dish to make nor is it very expensive. All it requires is either a slow cooker or several hours on the stove (if you want it extra tasty!) and a few ingredients. It’s a hearty meal and you can eat it on its own, with tortilla chips (like above), serve it on top of a nacho platter with all the fixings or even make a chili poutine. Inspired by my trip to Vegas, I came up with this recipe to make a big pot of chili. It’s enough to feed 8 people or have plenty of leftovers to use in other dishes. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 2 tsbp tomato paste
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 5 small button mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 tbsp chili powder
  • 5 tbsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cook the ground beef until it’s no longer pink. Drain excess oil and set aside.

Put a pot on the stove and turn the heat on medium-high. Add the oil and when it’s hot enough, add the onions and cook until they have caramelized. Then, add the garlic and peppers and cook until they are softened to your liking.

Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, mushrooms and spices. Mix well and bring to a boil before turning it down to simmer.

Simmer for at least 20 minutes, but the longer you simmer the more flavourful your chili will be. If you like a thicker chili, take the lid off to allow some of the liquid to evaporate and stir occasionally.

And there you have it. A nice big pot of chili ready for you to eat or prepare with other dishes. If you want to add more to it, you can top it off with shredded cheese, sour cream and scallions. Yum yum! 🙂

A Fish Snack – Threadfin Breams

Beef jerky? Yes. Camel jerky? Yes. Bison jerky? Also yes. Fish snack? What? This is not to say I haven’t ever come across fish jerky before, but coming across something called a “fish snack”? This is definitely not the typical goldfish crackers you find at the store.

It came in a long package and equally as long were the pieces of evenly cut up (most likely by machine) strips of “fish snack”. They were an orangey colour and felt somewhat like dried up fruit.

The ingredients say it’s made of 80% threadfin breams (the fish), wheat flour, spicy seasoning, egg white and soy sauce. That’s not bad, considering it’s a prepackaged item. Trying one of the strips, it has a light spicy flavour to it and lots of fishiness (makes sense, its called a fish snack afterall). It’s softer than actual jerky, possessing a hard yet spongey texture. I assumed it was just something you eat on its own, but apparently what also caught my eye was the recipe on the package.

Golden chicken balls? These look like amazing little appetizers that are easy to make. Something I will have to put on my to-make list! 🙂

Surowka z Selera (Celery Salad)

I have come across a bunch of different type of salads, but I don’t think celery salad had ever been one of them. The concept is not as simple as taking any stalk of celery and slicing it to make a salad. Rather, it’s a Polish style recipe that comes in a jar and has a very acidic flavour to it. I know, that sounds questionable, but many good things come out of jars!

Other than using a majority of the contents in the jar to compose the salad, you can enhance it by adding some mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and small, cut up pieces of boiled egg. Sometimes you can add small pieces of canned pineapple into this salad as well to make it a bit sweeter. The result is a lovely side salad that has some zing to it. I originally thought the salad contained scallions because it had this somewhat (good) burning sensation, similar to what it’s like eating a raw onion, but apparently it’s the vinegar that creates that sensation. It’s interesting, but maybe it’s because I love to eat onions.

This salad goes well with all sorts of meat dishes, but I would also eat it on its own. It’s delicious, it’s healthy and it’s definitely different from your typical leafy green salad. 🙂

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist (Recipe)

So every year, children around the world are made to believe that this strange man named Santa Claus is supposed to come down to through their chimney to deliver presents to those who have been good. Now that a majority of people have electric/gas fireplaces, how does that work? Plus, isn’t it also strange to have some random fellow go into your house? It’s kind of funny if you think about the concept. Either way, Santa is a lucky man. He traditionally gets to have milk and cookies at every house he goes to, so I thought it would be nice to share a little chocolate chip cookies recipe with a twist.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey (the twist!)
1 cup milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate if you prefer to tone down on the sweetness

In a bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix with a wire whisk and set aside. In a second bowl, beat butter, sugar and honey together until it is light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and slowly add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Blend at low speed until it is well mixed, but don’t overmix the batter.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons (or a bit smaller, if you would like smaller ones) onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies or until they are golden brown.

Once they are done, let them cool for about 30 seconds before transferring them onto a cool surface.

These easy to make chocolate chip cookies are sweet and are soft and chewy because of the honey. While I enjoy a regular chocolate chip cookie, I tend to like these because they have a bit of a twist to them and I’m sure Santa would agree. 😉