Monday, March 31, 2014

Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes, à la Hong Kong style

Perhaps one of the most easily recognizable homecooked dish, this dish is also just as easily prepared, even for the most novice home cooks. Requiring only three basic ingredients and one wok (or skillet) and no more than ten minutes from prep to finish, this dish - common in Hong Kong homes and parts of China - definitely rises to the rescue when all you've got in the pantry are - you've got it - eggs and tomatoes. Very kid-friendly with its touch of sweetness, it is no wonder that this simple dish is a favorite among many local families with little time on their hands. Did you grow up on this dish?
What to prepare...
1. Cut 2 large tomatoes into chunks, with skin and seeds and pulp and all. Beat 2 eggs, add a pinch of salt and some water. Adding water somehow increases the silkiness of the scrambled eggs.

2. Heat oil in wok on medium-high, pour in beaten eggs without disturbing. Once eggs begin to set, gently scramble until 70% done then quickly remove from heat and set aside. Do not cook eggs well done at this point or they will end up like rubber.

3. In the same wok, heat oil and about 2 cloves of minced garlic until fragrant. Add tomatoes, stirring frequently, then add in some salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Do not overcook tomatoes lest they will lose their nutritional goodness.

4. Once the tomato juices begin to reduce, add a squeeze of ketchup, the eggs, and swiftly stir-fry 30 seconds more. Finish with a dash of soy sauce and turn heat off. Garnish with chopped spring onion (parsley sprig pictured here) and serve. Enjoy!

Tip: Growing up I have always observed my mother adding a touch of Shaoxing wine or Chinese Rice Wine to beaten eggs that I believe removes any unpleasant taste while enhancing flavor. It has for me become a normal practice when cooking Chinese scrambled egg dishes. Experiment with it! 

[Any thoughts or comments? Please share with me!]     

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Arugula and Honey Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Roasted Garlic Dijon Dressing

The first thing that comes to mind upon the first bite into this salad is how each ingredient sings in harmony with one another, both in flavor and texture. There is the sweetness of roasted Pumpkin; the crunch and aroma of toasted Sunflower Seeds; the gaminess of crumbled Goat Cheese and - to tie them all together - a tart dressing that awakens and cuts through the natural sharpness of Arugula. Roasted Garlic (yum!) serves as the base of the salad dressing, adding depth and richness without the bite of raw garlic.

This is my first time to ever roast pumpkin and garlic, and I must say that I am in glee to have finally conquered my peculiar fear of roasting vegetables in the oven. Maybe it is the amount of time, or the amount of olive oil required that has always deterred me - but that is all behind now - for I am the biggest fan of roasted garlic and I am now no longer afraid to make that.
To prepare...
Cut pumpkin into 1-inch pieces, toss along with 5 unpeeled garlic cloves in olive oil with salt and pepper until well coated, then spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until pumpkin is tender, toss occasionally, 18 to 25 minutes.

Tip: Line your baking sheet and you will be thankful when dish washing comes.  
Tip: It is important to flip the pumpkin pieces or they might get stuck to the foil.      

Next, remove the garlic and reserve. Drizzle pumpkin with honey and continue roasting for 10 minutes, until glazed; let cool. 

For the Dressing... 
Remove the root ends of the garlic cloves and squeeze garlic out. Sniff that heavenly aroma. Mash into a paste in a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice from half a lemon, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and a teaspoon of honey. Whisk in a good amount of olive oil (for desired consistency) until emulsified.

Toss arugula in dressing, top with glazed pumpkin, and sprinkle salad with crumbled goat cheese and toasted sunflower seeds. And enjoy.

Suggestions for substitutes:
Maple syrup or golden syrup for honey
Feta for goat cheese
Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) for sunflower seeds

Recipe adapted from Power Foods, from the editors of Whole Living Magazine... an awesome book
[Any thoughts or comments? Please share with me!]

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Baked Salmon with Garlic, Lemon, and Parsley, on a Bed of Beet Greens

My favorite recipe for a stunning piece of Atlantic Salmon - it really can't get any simpler. 
Drizzle the salmon with a garlicky lemon-herb dressing, wrap in foil, bake in the oven for under 15 mins and serve on a bed of greens - and the result is a deliciously moist salmon dish packed with flavor where each ingredient speaks for itself.

The upside? Healthy, delicious; most importantly, there is little to prepare, nearly nothing to wash, and it all can be done in under 20 minutes. 
Mix together olive oil, a couple cloves of minced garlic, chopped fresh parsley, several squeezes of lemon juice, lemon zest, and a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Pour the dressing liberally over the salmon, then wrap into a parcel with aluminium foil, and bake till cooked and moist in a preheated oven at 180 degree Celcius for 13-15 mins, depending on the thickness of your salmon.  

As for the vegetables, I came across a rarity in Hong Kong's supermarkets - organic Beet Greens. Deeply magenta in the stalks with crunchy, forest green leaves, these beautiful greens are unfortunately often misunderstood and all too often destined for the bin. Vegetables come in all colors of the rainbow spectrum, carrying with them not only a multitude of flavors, but also a wide array of nutrients. Different colors indicate different nutrient profiles, so getting a little of each color in our diet every day maximizes the nutritional benefits.

Beet greens are packed with vitamins and minerals (A, C, K and fiber, iron and potassium), and they are as versatile for cooking as they are aesthetically pleasing. They are great for stir-fry, stews, and add a nice touch to quiches and fritatas. 

Here I choose to steam the greens for a simple, low-calorie side, highlighting its earthy flavor while preserving its vibrant colors. Wash and prepare while the salmon is in the oven, then arrange on plate like a bed. Serve along with Baked Salmon with Garlic, Lemon, and Parsley; finish off with more lemon zest - and you are set for a fuss-free, quick, and nutrition-packed meal.

[Any comments or feedback? Please share with me!]

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sundried Tomato Hummus Spread


Hummus, one of those dishes I crave from time to time in between my sparse trips to the Middle East.

What makes hummus so addictive is its creaminess, its slight tang, the subtle hints of garlic and its sultry smokiness. Hummus not only pairs well with its classic companion, the pita bread, but also with breadsticks, pita chips, and as a spread on sandwiches and bagels. For a healthier, low-carb option, prepare some fresh celery and carrot sticks and you are set for a easy midday snack perfect for on-the-go. For me, I'd just dig in right away with a spoon.

The good news is, hummus is so simple to make at home. All you need is a food processor or blender; throw together a can of chickpeas, a couple tablespoons of tahini, several cloves of garlic (I like mine strong), salt and pepper, and some water to thin the mixture, and this delicious dip is ready in minutes. For more tang, juice half a lemon. Mix in sundried tomatoes and you will yield a beautiful, deeper hue with distinctive, savory flavors. Finish off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of cayenne pepper.

You'll never go back to store-bought hummus again. 

[Any thoughts or comments? Please share with me!]