Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sweet & Sour Cauliflower

Attention to all the sweet and sour sauce lovers. I have a perfect easy and healthy recipe version of your favorite sweet & sour dish. It's sweet and sour cauliflower! Cauliflower is an amazing vegetable. You can make a pizza crust with it and now you can have this healthy Chinese dish. It literally takes no time to prepare this. The sauce can be prepared in less than 5 minutes and the batter - less than one minute. The hardest part of this recipe is washing and cutting cauliflower into florets. Anyway, the best thing about this recipe is that the cauliflower is baked, not fried. It is battered but very thinly and I'm sure that you could eat two servings without feeling guilty. And the sauce sounds really simple, but when combined, these ingredients create a perfect flavor. To make it taste more sour, you could probably use pineapple juice instead of water. Gosh, I just came up with this idea. That would probably make the sauce even better. I'll have to try it the next time. In any case, this dish is my new favorite and definitely a keeper!

Sweet & Sour Cauliflower
600g cauliflower, chopped into florets
4 tbsp (60g) flour
6 tbsp (90ml) water

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp white vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cornstarch

1) Preheat oven to 220C / 430F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine together flour and water until a smooth batter forms. Add cauliflower florets and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the cauliflower onto the baking tray, making sure they don't touch each other. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is softened and slightly browned.

3) While the cauliflower is baking, prepare the sauce: in a small saucepan, combine together soy sauce, ketchup, honey and white vinegar. 

4) In a small bowl, combine together water and cornstarch. Stir with a spoon until there are no lumps. Add this to the saucepan.

5) Turn on the heat and cook the sauce over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. You do not need to bring it to boil. Cook just for a few minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened (thick enough to cover the cauliflower). Remove from heat.

6) Once the cauliflower is cooked through, transfer it to a bowl and add the sauce. Toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Recipe by collecting memories 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

This recipe was bookmarked and added to my "must try" list long time ago and I finally found time to try it. It wasn't so hard to find time because this recipe is super simple and easy to make but I am always about to try hundreds of new recipes so some of them stay on that list for way too long. The final result was just what I expected: flaky pancakes with soft interiors and crispy edges. These are perfect for spring for a yummy snack or a quick dinner. Just don't forget soy sauce for dipping.

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

250g (2 cups) flour
240ml (1 cup) boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
Up to 60ml (1/4 cup) sesame oil (I used sunflower)
A bunch of chopped scallions

1) In a large bowl, stir together flour and salt. Stir in the boiling water and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough forms comes together. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Wrap in a plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (or overnight in the fridge).

2) Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a disk (20 cm / 8 inch in diameter) and brush the tops with oil. Sprinkle some scallions and roll the disk up. Twist the disk into a spiral and re-roll it into a disk (same size). Repeat the process with oil and scallions, roll it up, twist into a spiral again and re-roll into a slightly smaller disk (It depends how thick you want your pancakes). Repeat this process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.

3) Heat some oil in a frying pan. Cook pancakes for around 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Cut into 6 wedges and serve immediately with soy sauce for dipping.

Recipe adapted from here (you can find step by step pictures here as well). 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

I never really believed you can make real caramel sauce at home. Well, it turns out you can, just with one slight difference - this homemade caramel is REAL, not artificial. It's free from preservatives, colorants and other food additives. Of course, it will not keep months in the refrigerator like the store bought caramel, but I'm absolutely sure that you would use it within a few days anyway. And the good news is that it's very easy to make it. It takes no more than 15 minutes and doesn't require candy thermometer. Some people use it but I find it easier to determine the cooking time by the color. So now you know how to make caramel at home and you couldn't think of a better topping for ice cream, pancakes, waffles, coffee, oatmeal, cupcakes, cookies than this caramel. You will end up eating it by the spoonful. It's just so good.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce 

200g (1 cup) white sugar
15ml (1 tbsp) light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
60ml (1/4 cup) water
120ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
15g (1 tbsp butter)

1) In a medium saucepan, combine together sugar, corn syrup, salt and water. Bring to boil while stirring. When it starts bubbling, stop stirring and let it turn to a light/medium amber color. At this point it will NOT look like caramel. Especially if your saucepan has a black bottom, you won't be able to see the real color so turn off the heat when it looks just slightly golden, otherwise, it will be dark and bitter. The whole browning process should take no more than 10 minutes. 

2) When you reach the desired color, remove from heat and slowly start pouring in the heavy cream. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the butter. Let cool for a few minutes and pour in a jar. Keep in the fridge. It will be firmer if you keep it in the fridge. If you want it more runny, simply put the jar in a bowl filled with hot water and it will become more pourable. Alternatively, leave it at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Recipe source unknown. I've had this recipe for ages and have no idea where did it come from.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Garlicky Oven Roasted Vegetables & Chickpeas

I've been using my oven for roasting vegetables quite often recently. Everything started when I decided to make oven fries. I try to avoid deep fried food and baking potatoes in the oven is a great alternative for such a French fries lover. They turn out just as delicious as deep fried fries, but much healthier. The same applies to the rest of the vegetables. I usually pan-fry them but oven roasted vegetables do not need so much oil and baking them in the oven makes them extra crispy, smoky, and saves a wonderful aroma and shape of each vegetable without mixing all the flavors into one. In this recipe, I've used artichokes, cauliflower and onions but you can definitely add carrots, parsnips, potatoes, garlic or any other vegetable. These vegetables are super garlicky and lemony, the oregano and basil goes perfectly with artichokes while paprika and cumin goes great with chickpeas and cauliflower. Personally, I wouldn't make any changes in the seasoning mixture, but if you think of any other combination, I'd be happy to hear about it.

Garlicky Oven Roasted Vegetables & Chickpeas 

2 artichokes
170g (6 ounces) cooked chickpeas 
200g (7 ounces) cooked cauliflower, chopped into chunks
~50g arugula, washed and drained
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
White vinegar or lemon juice, to soak artichokes

Seasoning for the artichokes and onions:
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt

Seasoning for the chickpeas and cauliflower:
1 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chili paprika
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

1) First, prepare the artichokes. Fill a medium pot with water and add a generous splash of vinegar (or lemon juice). Wash the artichokes, cut of the ends of the stems (the stem is edible so you should cut off just the end of it), remove hard leaves close to the stems and trim the tops of the leaves with your kitchen scissors. Cut about 2 cm / 1 inch from the top of the artichokes, Cut artichokes in half and place in the water with vinegar. Try to prepare them quickly because they tend to brown very fast. If they start browning  too fast, you can dip them in water/vinegar mixture for a second and continue preparing them.

2) Bring a medium pot to boil. Add some salt and a splash of vinegar to it. Once it boils, add artichokes and cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes. Remove from water and let cool a little. Once cool enough so you can touch them, cut the halves of the artichokes in half so you have 8 pieces in total. Set aside.

3) Preheat the oven to 225C / 435F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

4) In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, basil and salt. Dip each artichoke quarter into this mixture and try to coat all the sides. Place them on the baking tray and top with remaining minced garlic/basil/oregano mixture (it won't stick to the artichokes so you will have to arrange them on top of them). Dip the onions in this mixture and place on the baking tray.

5) Add chickpeas and cauliflower into a medium bowl and add a teaspoon of olive oil. Shake to coat them. Add garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, chili paprika and salt. Mix until coated evenly. Place chickpeas and cauliflower on the baking tray. Try to spread them in one layer so they roast evenly.

6) Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve with arugula leaves tossed with some lemon juice.  

Serves 2.

Recipe by collecting memories

Friday, April 10, 2015

White Bean Stew

I rarely eat beans (except for chickpeas), but they're great in vegetarian meals. They make you feel full without making you feel heavy. I also like cooking beans by myself instead of using canned beans, but in this recipe I found it better to use canned beans because there's already enough work involved - it takes some time to chop all those veggies. On the other hand, it is very easy because it's basically a one pot meal. Anyway, it's hearty, healthy, packed with nutrients and undoubtedly delicious. It's also very simple and there are no fancy ingredients involved, so you are very likely to have all the required ingredients on hand. If you need a versatile and good-for-you meal for dinner, this is absolutely something you've been looking for.

White Bean Stew

2 tbsp oil
3 onions (320g), chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small potatoes (200g), cut into cubes
2 large carrots (400g), cut into cubes
4 large ripe tomatoes (660g), sliced
1/2 cup water
1 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried garlic flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can (400g) white beans

1) In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onion and garlic and cook, over medium heat, until soft and lightly browned.

2) Add carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, water, cumin, oregano, basil, salt and garlic. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Always check if there is enough water to cover the vegetables. 

3) After 30 minutes, add tomato paste and white beans. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Total cooking time was ~50 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Recipe by collecting memories

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Cranberry Muffins

Blogging isn't easy. Why? Because I took nearly 300 photos of these muffins. I used every plate I had in my cupboard to make these look good in the pictures and, afterwards, sure enough, I had to wash them all. It didn't help though. The lightning was so bad that none of the plates helped. I think I should move to Los Angeles or somewhere else where sun exists. Okay, so the next day I spent almost the whole day trying to pick the best photos. They were all looking pretty much the same. Gosh. Is it so hard to take normal pictures for all food bloggers?!

And that not about all. Only the second attempt to make these taste and look good was successful. The first batch turned out flat! Flat muffins are a disaster. Flat muffins shouldn't exist. So I ate them all and made a second batch. Perfect!! They rose perfectly, had sugary and crunchy tops, moistness from the sour cream and tartness from the juicy cranberries. Totally my kind of muffins. And these weren't too sweet so you can definitely have some for breakfast. 

So now you know the story of these muffins. To avoid my mistakes, don't overbeat the batter. I mean, you don't have to beat it at all. Lumps in the batter are OK. Also, the first (flat) batch baked in a lower temperature (350F/180C) which was my mistake. Muffins should be baked at least at 200C/400F. 

And now, it's muffin time. 

Cranberry Muffins 

312g (2 1/2 cup) flour
2 tsp baking powder
226g (1 cup) white sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
76g (2/3 stick) butter, melted and cooled
230g (1 cup) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g cranberries, frozen
1 tbsp flour
Sugar, to sprinkle (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 200C / 400F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine together flour, baking powder and sugar. Set aside.

3) In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Stir just until combined.

4) In a small bowl, mix together cranberries and 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix them into the batter. 

5) Divide the batter among muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with some granulated sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes or until nicely puffed and golden brown on top.

6) Cool before serving. I also made a simple icing sugar glaze: mix a cup of icing sugar with a few tablespoons of water and drizzle onto the cooled muffins.

Recipe by collecting memories

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