Bok Choy Noodle Soup with Quail Eggs

The day I made this soup is the day I learned to recognise the flavour of star anise in food. I’d known it in licorice, but had never realised what it did to hearty dishes. Star anise, I learned, is one of the five ingredients in Chinese five spice powder - (along with cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel) - the Chinese have been using it for ages. And I never would have guessed it, but it does something quite amazing. 

Ingredients (serves 2): 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 large shallots, minced 1 bunch scallions, chopped. Set the green aside for the topping.  4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced 2 whole star anise 1300 ml chicken broth 2 tablespoon soy sauce 240g mushrooms, sliced 1/2 head of large bok choy, roughly chopped 120g rice noodles 4-6 quail eggs (or 2 regular eggs), medium-soft boiled garnish: red pepper flakes or sesame seeds
Instructions: 1. Take the olive oil and heat in a medium sized soup pan, then add the shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes until glazed. 

Pork and Cabbage Potstickers

Today is day 100 - day 100 of 100 days on which I’ve posted a recipe on this blog every single day. 100 - it sounds like so much. Honestly, I’m proud. I did it to bring some of my hobbies back to life, I did it to learn, I did it because I love taking food photos and because I love to eat. 
I especially love, love looooooove dumplings. Potstickers, momos, gyoza, dumplings - I’ll have them any which way. Up to now, I’d been stuck with home delivery or eating out whenever I had cravings - but as of now, no more. 
I’m now proudly dumpling-self reliant, and I’m posting this potsticker recipe as the closing recipe of this challenge because at the beginning of this year, I wouldn’t in my wildest dreams have pictured myself making these. But here I am - and here we are. Crazy things are possible if you only try - and it’s not half as hard as I’d thought. Fear was, once again, an irrational obstacle. 
I’m grateful for this beautiful recipe from Healthy Nibbles & Bits, which was perfect - and…

Creamy Cucumber Avocado Noodles with Smoked Salmon

Here we go again - the fourth cucumber, avocado and smoked salmon recipe in the sequence and definitely a great one to add to the list. Creamy, delicious and simple, the result you get is worth much more than the 7 or so minutes of time it takes to prepare this recipe. 

Ingredients (serves 1): 3/4 cucumber 35g smoked salmon  2 tablespoons cream cheese 1/4 red onion, sliced 1 avocado 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 small clove garlic, minced 1 tablespoon olive oil  salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon capers optional as garnish: black sesame seeds 
Instructions: 1. First, cut the cucumber into spaghetti noodles. You can do this using a spiralizer or a julienne grater. Set aside in a large bowl.
2. Using a hand blender, blend together the avocado, mustard, olive oil, and garlic until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
3. Mix the blended avocado with the cucumber noodles. Place in a dinner bowl and top with the smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and red onion. Sprinkle with black ses…

Italian Wedding Soup

I was in the mood for some good old fashioned vegetable soup with meatballs - the kind my grandma might have made. It’s one of those soups you’ll find throughout Europe from north to south, all with slightly different details but very close to this. This version is an Italian variant using half beef half pork meatballs, oregano and acini di pepe and popularly known as as ‘Wedding Soup’. 

Ingredients (serves 3): meatballs 250g minced meat, 50% beef 50% pork 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped salt and freshly ground black pepper  1/4 cup breadcrumbs 1/4 cup grated parmesan 1/2 egg
soup 1 stalk celery, finely chopped 50g spinach, roughly chopped 1 cup baby carrots, cut into 1/2 cm thick slices 1 medium-sized onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1.25L chicken broth 1/3 cup acini di pepe 
2 tablespoons olive oil 

Instructions: 1. Put the minced meat in a large bowl and add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, parmesan, egg and salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to evenl…

Sweet Potato, Pomegranate & Goat Cheese Salad

With an insane amounts of work reading these last weeks, I’ve been looking for quick recipes that don’t require a lot of attention. Oven dishes are generally a good bet - you prep, put it in, take it out and are ready to eat. 

Ingredients (serves 2 as a starter or 1 as a main): 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds 1/4 cup pumpkin or mixed seeds 50g goat cheese, crumbled olive oil
pomegranate dressing: 1 tablespoon pomegranate juice 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons honey 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
1. Place the sweet potato pieces in an oven dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to make sure all the sweet potato is covered.  Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until softened.
2. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
3. To serve, place the sweet potato pieces on a plate or in a serving bowl and add the pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds a…

Thai Pork and Peanut Curry

After a long spiel of Italian and Western dishes, I’ve been drawn to Asian lately - from stir fries to curries. Two of the ingredients I’d bought to play around with were bok choy and pork. After testing them recently in a Chinese-inspired stir fry, today I decided to go Thai and try them in a curry recipe that originally called for mini corn. The result was simple but intensely flavourful - and although I’ve been eating something different almost every day, this is definitely going down on my repeat-list. 

Ingredients (serves 1):
120g pork, sliced along the grain 65g mushrooms, sliced 1 large leaf bok choy, roughly chopped 2 scalllops, diagonally sliced 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste 2 teaspoons smooth peanut butter 100ml coconut milk 100ml water 1/2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar stalks and leaves of 1/4 bush cilantro, stalks finely chopped and leaves picked Juice of 1/2 lime
Serve with white rice or Thai rice noodles. 

Thai Carrot Soup with Peanuts

I was in the mood for carrot soup, so I bought some carrots. While trying to decide on a recipe a regular European version crossed my mind, I considered Cajun carrot soup, and then finally settled on Thai. The combination with peanuts appealed to me so I settled on this recipe, tasted, adjusted it a little and voila.

Ingredients (serves 4):
500g carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
1 teaspoon galangal paste
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon peanut butter
400ml coconut milk
400ml water
Juice of 1 1/2 lime
1 stalk lemon grass
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oilsalt to taste

To garnish:
fresh cilantro
handful chopped peanuts
chopped chili pepper or chili flakes

1. In a big pan, fry the red onion in the oil for a few minutes until softened, then add the garlic, ginger, and galangal paste. 
2. Fry for a few minutes more, then add the carrot and the sweet potato and cook for a few minutes more. 

Pork and Bok Choy Stir Fry

I bought some black rice the other day and really wanted to try it, so I thought I’d go for a stir fry. Stir fries are always nice with rice. :) And it worked just fine, although the rice was nuttier than its white cousin, and a more neutral flavour would have done well too. 

Ingredients (serves 1): 150g pork, sliced along the grain to thin strips 1/4 large bok choy, chopped diagonally into 5-6 cm pieces
1 large scallion, diagonally chopped 1 1/2 tablespoon low-salt soy sauce 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar 1/2 tablespoon rice wine 2 tablespoon vegetable oil 1/2 teaspoon corn starch pinch of red chili pepper flakes season with salt as needed

to garnish: toasted cashew nuts, toasted red chili pepper flakes
Serve with rice

Instructions: 1. In a medium bowl, toss together the pork strips, corn starch, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. 
2. In another bowl, stir together the rice vinegar, rice wine and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. 
3. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet. Toss in th…

Mini Aubergine (Eggplant) Pizza

Some days, like today, bread for lunch just won’t do. My body’s been working overtime and was craving some comfort food. Comfort like pizza, but no time to make it, and no wish to order and go into food coma when I still had mountains of work ahead. Instead of loading up on carbs, I took an aubergine and turned it into mini pizzas. Yum. :)

Ingredients (serves 1 as substitute for a regular pizza, or 2 as a snack or starter:1 aubergine (eggplant) 1/2 cup tomato sauce 1 clove garlic, minced 6-7 leaves basil, plus some small leaves to top. 1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or another mild cheese) 3 mushrooms, sliced
Instructions: 1. Take the aubergine and slice it into 6-8 slices, about 1.5 cm thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and place on a plate covered with paper towels to allow the water to leak out of the aubergine. Leave for about 15 minutes, then refresh the paper towel and turn the slices over.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the oil and add the garl…

Salmon, Avocado and Arugula (Rocket) Salad

I’ve been doing a lot of smoked salmon dishes lately. They’re all slightly different, but one thing many of them have in common is the avocado-salmon pairing, which is just lovely. Here’s yet another take on it, in a simple fuss-free salad with this lovely recipe by Melanie of the Fuss Free Cooking blog.

Ingredients (serves 2):
60g arugula (rocket) lettuce
100g smoked salmon, torn into pieces
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 large cucumber, sliced into half moons
2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 lime, juiced
4 tablespoons olive oil
optional: drop of sesame seed oil

1. In a small bowl, mix the lime juice, olive oil, sesame oil and 1/2 of the sesame seeds.

2. Toss the arugula, avocado and cucumber in a bowl and top with the smoked salmon. Drizzle over the dressing.

3. Top with the remaining half of the sesame seeds and serve.