Kung Pao Cauliflower Tofu

The smoked tofu really makes this dish, and the dates add some natural sweetness while the smoked serrano pepper creates a playful, unexpected spicy twist.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 smoked serrano pepper (dried) – crushed
  • 1 fresh birds eye chili, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 7 dates, pitted and chopped (could substitute 2 tbsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground (make sure you only use the outer shell of the peppercorn because the black “seed” is very gritty)
  • 1/3 cup of water mixed with 1 tbsp of corn starch

Stir Fry

  • 2 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 package of smoked tofu, cubed (1 cm)
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • a handful of whole peanuts
  • oil

Directions

Sauce

  1. In a saucepan, brown the garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, and birds eye chili.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, water, hoisin sauce, and dates. Stir well.
  3. After simmering for 5 minutes, stir in the Sichuan pepper.
  4. Add the water-cornstarch mixture, and stir well until the sauce thickens.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Blend smoothly.

Stir Fry

  1. Dry roast the whole peanuts in a wok or skillet. When they get toasty, set them aside to cool. Once cool, crush or chop them.
  2. Add some oil to the skillet, and fry the tofu.
  3. Once the tofu is quite golden, add the cauliflower and cook until they brown evenly.
  4. Coat in the sauce, and toss with the scallions and peanuts.
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Cinnamon coffee cake

Soft, fluffy, buttery goodness – who can resist this, especially in the morning with a steamy cup of coffee? Extra bonus: you probably already have all these ingredients somewhere in your kitchen.

Servings: one standard size loaf pan

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 50 g melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1 egg

Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g melted butter

Glaze

  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Directions

  1. Separately mix the wet and dry ingredients for the cake. Make sure you sift the dry stuff well (saves you the headache of lumpy batter later)
  2. Slowly add the dry cake mix into the wet mix, folding well.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175 C
  4. Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan
  5. Prepare the topping by mixing all the ingredients well
  6. Pour the topping over the batter, and swirl with a knife
  7. Bake for 40 minutes
  8. While the cake is still warm, pour the glaze over it. The glaze will harden somewhat when the cake is completely cooled

Spicy sauteed green beans

It’s spicy, crunchy, and juicy… need I say more? I like this as a side dish to a braised tofu main dish over some white rice. It hits the spot, big time. Sometimes, if I have fresh shiitakes on hand, I will toss them in as well.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 300g green beans, cleaned and cut into 1in pieces
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • some chili oil, to taste
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, corn starch mixture, salt, and pepper.
  2. Separately, in a skillet, heat the sesame oil. Add the fresh chili, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Fry for about 30-60 seconds.
  3. Before the garlic browns, add the green beans. Stir occasionally. They should be fully cooked in 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the sauce and cook for another minute or so (medium-high heat).
  5. Add extra chili oil to taste.

Green onion flatbread with garlic soy dipping sauce

You could call this a few different names: flatbread, pancakes, Asian roti, etc. The garlic soy sauce livens up this classic Chinese side dish/snack. It’s addictive.

Servings 1 (if you’re a piggy) or 4

Ingredients

Flatbread

  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 tsp ground Chinese Five Spice
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil and a brush

Dipping sauce

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp finely minced ginger
  • 1 finely sliced green onion

Directions

  1. Mix the flour, sesame seeds, five spice powder, and water until it forms a dough
  2. Knead the dough well (5 min) – it should be quite smooth
  3. Let it rest for 30 minutes, covered
  4. Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small container and set it aside
  5. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts
  6. Roll each piece into a 7 in circle
  7. Brush the circle with a little oil, cover with scallions, and roll it up tightly (like a fajita/burrito/spring roll)
  8. Coil the burrito tightly into a spiral, and roll it out again
  9. In a hot skillet with some oil, lightly fry each pancake (~3 minutes per side)
  10. Cut into wedges and enjoy with the dipping sauce

Mushroom Stroganoff

This dish was surprisingly well received. Usually our resident Indian dislikes pasta dishes – except this one!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 200g baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 400 ml vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine or sherry
  • 150g goat cheese
  • 150g sour cream or creme fraiche
  • salt to taste
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tbsp cold water
  • parsley for garnish
  • 4 portions of pasta cooked al dente

Directions

  1. Saute the mushrooms in a skillet with the butter
  2. Add the garlic, black pepper and thyme
  3. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the green onions
  4. Stir in the green onions and saute for 2-3 minutes
  5. Add the flour and cook until the fond on the bottom of the pan turns dark brown (1 minute)
  6. Deglaze with the vegetable broth and red wine
  7. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes
  8. Gently stir the sour cream and goat cheese in, mix well
  9. Ladle the sauce over the pasta and garnish with the parsley

Sooji

This popular south Indian dessert is one of my favorites. I like adding extra cashews to it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of upma or sooji rava
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of split cashews
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of butter or ghee
  • a pinch of saffron

Directions

  1. Toast the cashews and raisins, then set them aside
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet, and toast the rava
  3. Once the rava is a golden color, add the water and mix well.
  4. Lower the heat, and let the rava absorb the water. Stir occasionally.
  5. Once the water is fully absorbed, add the sugar. Stir well.
  6. Add the saffron and cardamom
  7. Remove from heat, and top with the cashews and raisins