Tag Archives: sesame

Spinach Frittata

30 Sep

FrittataToday was a long day … loads of running about, and I woke up late, so it was like playing catch up! Had lunch with my oldest friend who was here on a visit from the west coast. Some people you can just pick up the threads where you left off, as if you had seen each other yesterday rather than decades ago. When it came time for dinner, I realised I had about half an hour before we sat down to eat. And the cupboard wasnt exactly full to bursting!

So a frittata it was, with spinach, a few cherry tomatoes thrown in for colour, and seasoned with Asian spices – soy, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, some salty dried seaweed. Served on dark brown toast, it was delicious, easy, quick and warm. And for dessert? Ahh well, that was a wonderful crepe made by Jules – bursting with strawberry jam and covered in snow white icing sugar. A glass of milk is traditional with it, and who am I to buck tradition? All in all, a wonderful meal, made even better by eating with family and loved ones, in a safe warm space, while it is cold and rainy outside.

This frittata will serve 4 people. It can easily be doubled to to accommodate more, or halved for just a few. Just remember to add eggs equal to the number of people you are serving, plus one.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp soy plus more to taste
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds plus more to taste
  • 2 – 3 tbsp roasted seaweed, crumbled, plus more to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk or cream
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi or dijon mustard
  • Buttered toast to serve

In a medium non stick frying pan, over medium high heat, saute the onions in the olive oil and sesame oil. Let the onions get soft and glossy, and then season with 1 tbsp soy sauce and the sesame seeds and roasted seaweed.

Add all the spinach, and stir well to combine. You want the spinach to just wilt. Taste for seasonings, and adjust. I love roasted seaweed, so I usually add some more here, and if its not salty enough, you can drizzle over a bit more soy – though remember, you will be adding 1 tsp of soy to the eggs.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan, and mix well. Lower heat.

In a small bowl. whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 tsp soy sauce and wasabi. Pour over the spinach mixture, and let cook, disturbing the mixture only to poke little holes in it to allow the uncooked egg to get to the bottom of the pan. The entire cooking process may take anywhere up to 5 minutes. You will have a crusty bottom, and a creamy centre. Keep the heat low, and if the top is not cooking to your liking, cover to let it steam for only a few seconds. You can also finish this in the broiler oven, but only if your pan is oven proof!

Serve with hot buttered toast on the side for a quick, delectable dinner 😉

And if you happen to know any Austrians, try and have this sublime crepe with strawberries and powdered sugar for dessert!

With Strawberry Jam!

Rice + Greens + Omelette

16 Sep

Greens OmeletteWe went to the food mecca, Whole Foods, the other day and I saw some gorgeous broccoli rabe or rapini. Its kind of like kang kung, bok choi or kai lan back home, but it has these lovely little broccoli like florets hiding in the deep green leaves. Its also incredibly bitter, which can be a nicely astringent flavour, but it needs to be managed carefully, and juxtaposed against creamy, sweet and salty in order to truly shine.

Tonight, I was looking for a really simple Asian inspired meal, because we have been eating rather richly of late. I wanted something clean, and yet rather toothsome. I decided to saute the rapini with sesame seeds, and a sweet salty sauce. But in order to manage its bitterness, I simmered the rapini in water for a few minutes before draining it and running under cold water. This fixed its colour and flavour, and allowed the rest of the saute to happen in minutes. It also mitigated that deep bitterness that some people find too pungent.

With it, I served plain jasmine rice, which to me is food of the heavens. I love rice, and I cook it how my mother taught my sister, and my sister taught me. That is, without measurements, but by eye and rule of thumb. And I made a very simplified omelette which I cut into strips and served on the side. If you are vegan, just saute some tofu instead. Its all good, and makes for a light, quick, easy meal… with enough leftovers, hopefully, to make fried rice the next day!

This recipe will feed 4 – 6 people depending on amounts, which are totally up to you, as you will see!

Jasmine rice

Everyone has a different way of making rice. Usually at home, I make it in a rice cooker, but my sister believes in old school.

Take 1 medium saucepan, and pour in some rice. I usually try and cover the bottom of the pan, up to about halfway up the pad of my thumb, may be an inch or so of rice… This should serve 4 people, but if you want leftovers, add more. Rinse the rice in the pot with cold water, draining the water out from the rice to get rid of a bit of starch. Do this at least three times, or until the water runs clear.

Make sure the rice is in an even layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Pour in enough water so that if your thumb is resting against the top of the rice layer, the water comes up to the first joint fold of your thumb. I swear this works for just about anyone….

Put in a pinch of salt, and bring the entire thing to the boil. Once it has boiled, reduce to simmer, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow to simmer until the rice is done, about 15 – 20 minutes. Once the rice is completely cooked, fluff with a fork and serve.

Its that simple, and that difficult … it is a matter of getting a feel of the rice, a feel for your own hands and measurements, and a feel for the timing of the thing. But it does work, and it is really easy once you get the hang of it!

Rapini with Sesame Seeds

  • 2 – 3 cups rapini (about 1 head)
  • Water
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil – olive, canola, vegetable or sesame, your choice

For the sauce:

  • 1 tsp honey or agave syrup if you are vegan
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 – 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce (I used Lingam’s from home)

Prepare the rapini: cut off the bottom of the stems, and chop the rapini in small 1 inch chunks.

Fill a large frying pan with water, and bring it to the boil. Tip the rapini in and boil for about 2 – 3 minutes.

The rapini will turn a deep emerald green. This is good. Once it has boiled for a few minutes, tip it into a sieve and run cold water over to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Make the sauce. In a teacup or small bowl, combine all the ingredients, whisk with a fork, and taste. Adjust so it is sweet and nutty and salty and hot all at the same time. Add or subtract to your liking. Set aside.

In the same frying pan, toast the sesame seeds. Once they turn light brown, and give off that distinctive sesame scent, add the oil and chopped onion. Saute for a minute or two until the onion has become soft.

Add all the rapini, and cook for a few seconds, mixing in the sesame seeds and onion with the rapini.

Pour the sauce over, and allow to bubble a bit.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve in a bowl, with a spoon to scoop up the sauce and pour over the rice.

Asian omelette

This serves 4 people – I always use 1 less egg than the number of people I am serving. Adjust accordingly. Also, I use a spice mixture I got at a Japanese grocery. It has seaweed, nuggets of wasabi and sesame seeds. If you cannot find this, add some crumbled dried seaweed strips (usually coated with soy or teriyaki) or just add some sesame seeds and may be half a teaspoon of mustard.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Japanese spice mix or as in note
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oil

Whisk together the eggs, sesame oil, spice mix and soy sauce in a small bowl, and set aside.

Heat the small amount of oil in the same frying pan as you cooked the rapini until it just shimmers.

Pour in the egg mixture and lower the heat to medium low. Allow the omelette to cook through, shaking the pan every so often, and using a spatula to encourage the uncooked egg to go to the bottom of the pan.

Once the omelette has cooked through, use your spatula to segment the omelette into quarters. Place on a cutting board or a plate and slice finely into thin strips.

Serve with rice and rapini for a beautiful juxtaposed light meal.

Veggie Burger

15 Jul

Veggie Burger HeavenI was having tea today with Goddessmoments and her Spouse. As we were chatting about food, he said something that made me think about what I miss most about being a carnivore. I think its a great juicy burger, with melted cheddar on top, in a beautiful bun and may be some slices of avo or tomato. Pure heaven. All those different tastes and textures, the satisfaction of a handheld meal, juices dripping everywhere. But I dont eat meat, and so I wont ever have that kind of burger again. But, this veggie burger more than makes up for any sense of loss I might have!

This is scrummy yummy. It can be vegan if you leave out the cheese (or use soy cheese) and its so full of wonderful, healthy vegetables and grains. I use quinoa in this recipe – the wonder grain! It has the most complete proteins of any grain, and it is full of vitamins and minerals – from iron to vitamin e to amino acids. And it tastes wonderful too! Nutty and creamy at the same time.Its a really useful tool for a vegan diet because it adds protein from a surprising source, and its extremely well tolerated, even by those who cannot eat wheat. I love it. I even use it in place of couscous and rice on occasion.

While your quinoa is cooking, you roast a few aubergines, garlic and some nuts. Fry up some mushrooms. I usually throw everything in one large bowl, and mince with my immersion blender (oh how I love thee, let me count the ways!). It comes out tasting really “meaty” in a good way, and its incredibly satisfying. Because everything is cooked or prepped before being formed into patties, the final fry up is really to create a lovely burnt sticky caramelised crust. You could probably do this in the oven as well, though I have never tried. These freeze really well, by the way. Layer in greaseproof paper, and pack away in a plastic container, and use within 6 months.

For about 8 – 10 burger patties, you will need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water plus extra to soak
  • salt
  • 5 baby aubergines (or 1 medium – 1/2 large), sliced in half
  • 1 head garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • Small packet shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed, and sliced
  • 6 – 7 medium portobello mushrooms (250 g packet), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Italian mixed herbs (or herbes de Provence or any other herb that you like – basil, rosemary, thyme)
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 1 – 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
  • Handful of fresh herbs, minced fine (optional – use what you like – basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, parsley, mint even)
  • Soy (optional to taste)
  • pepper

To serve, you will need hamburger buns, cheese (optional), lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion (your choice of any or all or none!), some mayo, ketchup, mustard, pickle… you get the drift!

Preheat your oven to about 220C.

First start off by soaking the quinoa. In a medium saucepan, cover the quinoa with water, and let stand for 15 minutes or so. This softens the grain, and also encourages the hard outer casing to split. A good thing!

Meanwhile, split your baby aubergines (or slice your medium/large one), and arrange, skin side down, on a baking tin that has been lined with baking paper. Slice the top of a head of garlic, and place on tin. Lightly oil and salt the aubergines and garlic and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. About 3 – 4 minutes before they are done, flip them over, and sprinkle the cashew nuts onto the baking tin. You want the cashew nuts to toast lightly, but not really to burn.

When your quinoa has stood for 15 minutes, drain, put back into saucepan, and add 1 1/2 cups of water, and a bit of salt. Cover the pan, and bring to the boil over high heat, and then lower heat and simmer the quinoa, covered, for about 15 minutes. You will know when its done when most of the water has boiled off, and the quinoa has fluffed up and doubled in size. Take off heat, and leave covered for at least five minutes.

Once your aubergines, garlic and cashews have been taken out of the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, add sunflower and sesame seeds to a large mixing bowl, and grate in the carrot. Add the cooled aubergines, the garlic cloves (pop them out of their papery casing), and the cashew nuts.

Go back to your quinoa, fluff it up a bit, and measure out 1 1/2 – 2 cups. If there is any left over, it freezes well and is a wonderful addition to any soup. Add the measured quinoa to the large mixing bowl.

Prepare your mushrooms. Pour a little olive oil into a medium – large frying pan, and add the shiitake mushrooms. I was taught that shiitake mushrooms need quite a while to cook. You need to slice them thinly (I also de-stem them) and leave them over low heat to brown around the edges. They will melt, and get soft, and reduce in size. Dont mix them in the pan too much, just let the heat and the oil and the mushrooms do what they know how to do. It should take about 10 minutes or so.

Once the shiitakes have been well browned, add the portobello mushrooms (still on low heat), and stir to combine. If you want, sprinkle a little truffle oil over, and let cook for about 5 minutes or so, stirring every now and then. Add some balsamic vinegar, the tomato paste and Dijon mustard, and stir to combine. The portobellos should have browned a little and reduced in size. Add the mushrooms to the mixing bowl.

Grate the cheese into the bowl if you are using.

With your immersion blender, process everything in the mixing bowl. Do it in short sharp bursts because you want to make sure you combine and chop most everything very fine without pureeing it into complete oblivion. You can use a food processor if you like. Again, short sharp bursts.

Once everything has been combined to your liking, taste. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Add the minced herbs, if you like. I often add some soy sauce for deeper darker flavour.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.

About fifteen to twenty minutes before you are ready to eat, heat a little olive oil in a shallow non stick frying pan over low heat. Take the burger mix out of the fridge, and form thin (about half an inch to an inch maximum) patties with your hands. Fry up to three patties at a time, flipping only once or twice. It should take you about 10 – 15 minutes to get a glistening dark brown exterior. You wont need much oil. A few minutes before you are serving, flip a final time and slice some old mature cheddar (or not) over the burger, and let it melt a bit.

Toast your hamburger buns, add the fixins – mayo, ketchup, mustard, fresh veg. Eat with your hands, and mop up any fallen bits and juices with your bread. Its that good.

Cold Avocado Sesame Noodles

13 Jul

Avocado Sesame NoodlesSomething simple, cool, very tasty and delicious. Its dinner time and I really dont want to go to too much effort. I want something that is toothsome, filling and tasty. I still have a few avocados left from the taco night, so I thought hmmmm. Avocados and sesame go together really well. I could do a Japanese style sesame dressing, some cold noodles, and slices of rich very good for you avo. Purrrrfection. And then I looked into my bounty bag from the organic delivery, and decided to roast some mustard greens (otherwise known as sawi hijau) to top it all off.

I feel like I need simple, non complex meal, because today was a massive cooking day – but not for me! My cats, who are obligate carnivores, have been seeing a TCVM (traditional Chinese veterinary medicine) doctor for the last couple of weeks – she is wonderful! She suggested that I make a chicken stew for them to supplement their over processed kibbles and canned diet. Thank goodness I had help, because as a vegetarian there was no way I would have been able to do this myself. So chicken stew it was, and if youre looking for a great traditional Chinese medicine vet who does acupuncture, please visit Dr Susanna’s website!

Anyway, on to the meal! This is a bit of a puttering around the kitchen dinner. Good for a hot humid night (every night in KL!) and fantabulous as a make ahead for a picnic. You need to give the noodles and sauce a little time to get acquainted in the fridge (hence the roasted greens) and for the flavours to really shine through.

Please use your own sense of taste for the dressing. I like mine sweet sour salty – but you may prefer a sweeter or saltier version. Dont get too tied down by the recipe, just go with what you like, dip your finger in and taste, and adjust accordingly.

This will make a meal for four.

  • 1 package Japanese noodles (or instant Chinese egg noodles)
  • 2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise (or Vegannaise if youre vegan)
  • 1 + 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sushi vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Ginger, grated (about the size of your pinkie)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • Juice of 2 small limes
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 2 avocados

First, follow the directions on the packet, and cook the noodles. Mine were about 5 minutes on the boil. As soon as they are al dente (still firm to the bite, but cooked through), drain and run under cold water to cool. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, 1 tbsp of sesame seeds, peanut butter, roasted sesame oil, soy sauce, sushi vinegar, honey and olive oil. Grate the garlic and ginger over, and squeeze a few limes into the mix. Beat well with a fork, and taste. Adjust to your liking – your honey may be much sweeter than mine – if so use less, or add a touch more soy to add more salt. You want a shiny bowl of sesame scented sweetsoursalty sauce.

Pour all the sauce into a serving bowl, or even the cooking saucepan that you made the noodles in. Handful by handful, add the noodles into the sauce, tossing with each handful. You could use tongs for this, but to be honest, I prefer using my hands! You want the noodles coated with the sauce, without being overwhelmed by it. You also dont want so many noodles that the sauce fades into insignificance. This is an equal partnership! Taste as you go, you will know when you have a good balance.

Cut a handful of fresh basil into the bowl (or parsley if you dont have basil, or even some gorgeous mint, or coriander if you like it). Mix well, and put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

When it comes time to serve, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. If you have roasted the mustard greens, arrange them prettily around the side of your bowl. Slice a couple of avocados over, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with extra lime and soy to sprinkle over, and chopsticks!

You could gild the lily and add a few chopped tomatoes to this, but I personally love the cool green nature of this dish.

Perfect for a hot summers night.

World Cup Salad + Sesame Soy Honey Ginger Dressing

27 Jun

So we are having a feast while watching the England – Chermany game.

We knew there was going to be a lot of emotion, and tension, so decided to make lots of delicious comfort food. Salad, with the bessssst salad dressing ever, roasted sweet potato and butter and soy, and angel hair pasta with mushrooms and chili. Lots of posts tonight!

The salad is composed of:

  • 300 grams yellow and red cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 large packet rocket
  • 1 small head lettuce
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 ear of corn
  • Macadamia nuts
  • 4 – 5 small onions in vinegar (or 1/2 small white onion)
  • Edible flowers

Rinse tomatoes and cut in half. Tear salad into bite sized pieces and rinse well. Peel and chop avocado. Slice corn off the cob (tis wonderful raw). Toss in a handful of macadamia nuts.  Slice vinegared onions in half, or finely dice half a small onion. Ensure edible flowers are clean, and add. Toss together, making sure that some of the flowers are face up on top.

Make your salad dressing. This is the best dressing there is, and easy to make, but quantities depend on you. I will give you a rough estimate:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 -4 tbsp suchi seasoning or sushi wine vinegar
  • 3- 5 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 -3 tbsp Japanese mayonaise
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 4 – 6 tbsp soy sauce

Mix together well, and taste and adjust to your liking.

I adore this sauce. I use it as a dipping sauce for vegetarian chicken pieces or sausages. Its great on any salad – from mushroom salad to potato to a wonderful mixed salad as above. You could even use it in a sandwich if you like. You could add some peanut butter for extra protein if you need it. Or some seaweed seasoning. Or toasted sesame seeds. Use your own sense of taste, and what you like, and adapt it for your own pleasure.