Stir fry – My mum’s Chinese dish

This is a variation of one of my favourite childhood meals my mum used to make – her “Chinese”. After going to a Chinese wedding a few years back, I realized our idea of Chinese food has very little to do with the real thing. 10 courses later, I left the wedding hungry and disillusioned – obviously what Chinese restaurants serve in the Western world is not Chinese food, but what Westerners think Chinese food is. Same here – so don’t expect what I didn’t eat at the wedding (Jellyfish, Shark Fin soup (I would NEVER!), tentacles from some unidentified seamonster, insects and 6 other courses that sometimes make their way into my nightmares). I don’t mean to offend anyone who likes the “real” Chinese food, but here a toned down version. Sorry also if I just ruined your appetite.

For 4 people:

Stir fry

  • 1lb (300 g meat (I use either  chicken breast or beef and slice them, you could do Tofu as well)
  • Soy sauce
  • Ginger, piece the size of your thumb, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 cup/250ml Sherry or Broth or a combination of the two
  • Vegetables : carrots, bok choy, peppers, mungo sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach or whatever else your heart desires or your fridge has in it.
  • Rice (perfume, jasmine, or brown) or Asian noodles

Directions:

Marinate the meat or tofu 1 h in soy sauce, sesame seed oil, ginger and garlic. See image for how the meat should be sliced.

If you are going with rice, cook according to package (usually 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water). Turn off heat about half way through, put a lid on pot, and let it sit. With the right ratio of water and rice, it should turn out perfect and be ready when your stir fry is. Plus you save some electricity. Win-win. If you have a rice cooker, just let it do its thing.

Wash and chop vegetables. Carrots into small sticks (image). No matter what vegetables you use, you should have about 2-3 cups (500-750 g) vegetables in total.

If you use noodles instead of rice, bring 1l of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package now.

Heat peanut oil in Wok or large frying pan. Add vegetables according to length it takes to cook them: carrots first, then broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, bok choy… Sprouts and spinach last.

Stir cornstarch into sherry or broth in a glass, set aside.

Fry meat in separate pan – shortly, but all the way through. Set aside.

Add more ginger and garlic to the vegetable mix, add soy sauce and if you like, the meat marinade. Stir well, add sherry or broth and meat as well as the noodles if you chose this option. Heat up, taste. Add water if too salty or more soy sauce if not enough. Serve with rice if you didn’t add noodles. What’s your favourite combination?

Carrot Lime Ginger Soup

It has been a cold few days, we even have snow, which is so rare that people don’t go to work because they don’t know how – I’m talking no buses run, highways jammed with cars that have summer tires on, and closed down bridges – which makes me laugh. In a nice, respectful way of course. Growing up in Switzerland we called this BBQ weather. Kidding, but I rode my bike thousands of times in the snow, it’s not as big of a deal as you might think.

Anyway, because of this weather, all I have been wanting to drink all day is tea and all I want to eat is soup, hot and warming soup. Here’s a new favourite, courtesy of my sister:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (500g) carrots, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 organic lime, peel and juice
  • 4 cups (1 l) vegetable broth (for recipe, click here)
  • 1 piece of ginger, size of your thumb, peeled and grated
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

Heat butter or oil, sauté onions and carrots. After a few minutes, lime peel and grated ginger. Add broth, broth should cover the carrots; let it simmer for 15 minutes. Add lime juice (I love lime so I added the whole thing but figure out what you like, maybe half is enough), sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Puree soup and enjoy!

Anytime you eat the peel of a fruit or vegetable, as I do here with the lime, be sure to buy organic. I don’t want to scare you but obviously the outside of the fruit or vegetable is most affected by pesticides and other toxins so that’s why I stressed it here.

If you liked this soup or changed it to your liking, let me know by commenting on it and share it!

 

Salad Dressings

I have a feeling most of you never think twice about salad dressing. You buy the kind your mum already bought and or your room mate in college. I’d also guess that part of why you are not particularly keen on eating salad, if that is indeed the case, is because the said dressing is boring. I find most store bought dressings are too salty, too plain, and (this might surprise you) have a ton of calories. Considering how incredibly easy and fast it is to make your own, I really don’t understand why people buy dressing. This is going to sound weird, but you wouldn’t believe how many people ask me for salad dressing recipes I’ve made. And my answer is embarrassingly simple: good olive oil, high quality vinegar (I love apple cider vinegar or balsamic, especially Balsamico di Modena), sea salt and freshly ground pepper. No joke. Obviously I often elaborate or substitute, but that’s a good start for a guaranteed tasty dressing.

In general:

Image Courtesy Luigi Diamanti

Image Courtesy Luigi Diamanti

  • oil (good quality olive, like cold pressed extra virgin, or try peanut, sesame…I avoid canola because a lot of it is GMO, unfortunately. Infused oils are great too and make any dressing something special).
  • vinegar (Balsamico di Modena, white wine, apple cider, rice vinegar..). You can also use a different acid like lemon or lime juice.
  • If you like a creamy dressing, add mayo, sour cream, or even real cream. I personally dislike mayo, always have, so I substitute with sour cream or plain (Greek) yogurt. Works great and is better for you so take that, mayo.
  • Add something special like horseradish, mustard or Worcestershire sauce. I have about 5 different kind of mustards in my fridge: regular, Dijon, grainy German style, white wine, raspberry (that’s a thing) and nut. Oh that’s six kinds!
  • seasoning: sea salt, freshly ground pepper. Or add herbs. Wait, I already listed those as salad ingredients. Oh well.

Here a few of my favourite creations:

  • Clearly Saturday Night: (the name is a long story) 3 tbsp olive oil, 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp grainy mustard, 1 tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt, 1 clove of garlic (I usually steal a clove from when I bake a garlic because the taste of raw garlic can be overpowering), salt and pepper
  • Lemony: juice of half a lemon, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp sour cream, 1 tbsp mustard, salt and pepper. Goes really well with a salty salad, say one with cheese.
  • Honey: 3 tbsp olive oil, 6 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, salt and pepper.
  • “Asian”: 3 tbsp sesame oil, 6 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp soy sauce, grated ginger (piece the size of your thumb), sesame seeds. So good with a warm green bean salad, asparagus or a salad with sliced beef.
  • Vinaigrette: small onion (chopped), small pickle (chopped), 1 tbsp grainy mustard, 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 3 tbsp olive oil, 4 tbsp hot broth, parsley and chives (chopped), salt and pepper
  • Curry: juice of half a lemon, 3 tbsp oil, 2 tsp mild curry powder, 2 tbsp plain yogurt, sugar, tumeric (curcuma), salt and pepper to taste. Really good with a simple apple and fennel salad.

Another tip: find out what kind of ratio of acid-oil you like. I’m a 2 part acid (vinegar) – 1 part oil person. Some people do the exact opposite. Whatever floats your boat!

Are you ever going back to buying dressing?

A few thoughts on Salad

I love salads. Which is lucky, I would be a lot less healthy if I didn’t. I often make a side salad for dinner and a few times when I had people over, they would ask me for the recipe. Thing is, I don’t have one. Which isn’t what people want to hear. And it’s certainly not ideal when you write a recipe blog.

Image Courtesy by Lavoview

Image Courtesy by Lavoview

My idea of a good salad is about the opposite of your average cafeteria salad. Quite frankly, I hate those: a few sad looking pieces of Iceberg lettuce (which is a great crunch adder for wraps, tacos or burgers but rarely makes it into my salads because it’s about as exciting as plain water on a cold day), topped with an insanely heavy dressing that has more calories than the daily special would have and if you’re lucky, a few shredded carrots. Thanks, but no thanks. How is that supposed to be healthy? Not to mention tasty..

My go-to is what I refer to as “discovery salads” and usually constitute of what I find – discover – in my fridge. Are you thinking, thanks, I could have figured out that one myself? Ok, here’s a very general recipe:

    • Basis: greens of some sort. I love Spinach, Butter lettuce, Arugula, or Romaine but choose what you like and can find. Mix if you like.
    • Vegetables: I frequently add peppers, cucumber (shredded or cubed), carrots (shredded or cubed), tomatoes and celery (sticks). A bit more special are beets or (mixed) mushrooms tossed in warm vinegar. Is cabbage a vegetable? Either way, needs to be listed too, so good.
    • Fruit and Berries: Apple and Pear (both either shredded or cubed) go verywell with most salads. Make sure you add it at the very end and sprinkle it with lemon juice because both oxidize quickly and look ugly. If you add fruit, leave out some of the veggies. Raisins or dried cranberries and fresh berries in the summer (Black-, Blue-, Straw- or Raspberries) also add some sweetness.

      Image Courtesy Felixco, Inc.

      Image Courtesy Felixco, Inc.

    • Protein: Sliced chicken (baked or cooked, seasoned if you like), canned tuna or salmon, eggs, Feta cheese, goat cheese, grated Parmesan. I would stick to one or two. Chicken goes well with any of the cheeses listed, fish well with eggs. Sliced Parmesan on Arugula with a simply olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing is one of my favourite salads.
    • Healthy fats: Avocado, seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin..) or nuts (almonds, cashews, pine, walnuts or your favourite). What’s delicious and super fancy tasting is if you warm up the nuts in a bit of water in a frying pan, add some brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and stir over low heat until there is no liquid left, only gooey yummy sticky candy-like nuts.
    • Grains: quinoa, barley, couscous, even lentils, have made it into my salad bowl. De-li-cious. Where do chickpeas fit in? A must try!
    • Toppings: green onion, purple onion, olives, artichoke hearts, cilantro, parsley, mint, lime or lemon zest. I’d stick to one leafy topping per salad but it’s your choice.I personally absolutely detest cilantro but most people I know love it and think I’m crazy, so I felt compelled to list it.
    • Salad around the world: give it a South American feel by adding corn and black beans. Or Asian, with peanuts or sesame seeds and a soy sauce dressing. Please don’t be offended if you’re South American or Asian and think I’ve simplified things. I’m Swiss and people think all I eat is cheese and chocolate. And they are right. No, seriously, to me that tastes South American or Asian.

Obviously I never add everything I just listed, that would be quite ridiculous, but I encourage you to be creative and you’ll be surprised at what goes well together. Oh and check out these dressings to make any salad (even the one from your work’s cafeteria) more interesting.

What is your favourite creation?