Jul 31, 2011

Utilizing Leftover Ingredients - Veggies and Parmesan Risotto

Why do I keep hurting myself?
Few weeks ago a tiny piece of my finger nail got chipped by a butcher knife,
Then the food poisoning thing after Shanghai trip,
Now my hand just got burned by 95 degrees Celsius water..

Sadly I'm not even a chef, otherwise maybe I can blame all these injuries to occupational hazard,
Or maybe it can be categorized as food blogger's occupational hazard?

Either way, even though the distance between a home cook like me and a professional chef is like comparing lean ground meat to Kobe beef,
At least the spirit remains,
Patch up my burned wounds, let's keep cooking!

Utilizing leftover ingredients, veggies and Parmesan risotto -

Ingredients (for 4 to 6 portion)?
2 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
2 cups of mushroom mix
1 cup of smoked ham
1 1/2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
5 3/4 cups of unsalted chicken stock 
8 asparagus
1 big shallot
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper


Dice the shallot and chop the asparagus, smoked ham into smaller pieces,
As for the mushroom mix, you can use any kind of preferred mushroom,
Remove any tough stems and cut into smaller pieces,
Grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Have a medium sized pot fill with chicken stock,
Bring that to a boil then turn off the heat,
We gonna use warm/room temperature chicken stock while making risotto.

A big, non-stick pot will be a perfect tool for this dish,
Add in olive oil, butter, and chopped shallot into the pot,
Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt and equal amount of pepper,
Turn to medium high heat,
Give it a quick stir and cook till the shallot turns translucent.

Toss in asparagus and cook for couple minutes,
Next, add the mushroom and sprinkle the additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the mixture,
You can also add more black pepper if desired,
Cook for few more minutes.

Pour in the rice and mix till every grain is evenly coated with the veggie juice,
To cook the rice, add a small amount of warm chicken stock at a time and stir once a regularly,
Add more stock when the liquid has been absorbed by the rice,
Repeat the steps till the grains reach desired texture, al dente per my case.

Mix in 4/5 of the grated Parmesan cheese,
What about the remaining cheese?
Just sprinkle them on the top of the risotto before serving,
That way, you get a clear cheesy bite together with the oozing cheese between the grains.

Remember do not add too much salt while following this recipe,
The reason is that cheese and smoked ham are quite salty already,
So please taste the mixture before sprinkle more seasonings into the pot.

Besides grated Parmesan,
I also sprinkle more freshly ground black pepper on top before serving,
No more unwanted leftover ingredients,
Just a little more thoughts, you can make a yummy meal with all that miscellaneous stuff in the fridge.

Just be careful don't cut, bruise, or burn yourself in the kitchen....like me...
( T 口.T )*

Cindy's Rating: 7

Jul 21, 2011

Smoked Ham Sandwich with Aioli and Parmigiano Reggiano

Home sweet home!

I couldn't wait to fly back to my cozy crib in Taiwan after staying in Shanghai for one whole week.

The scenery was great there,
The food was not bad, had a few bites of donkey meat*
My hotel room was comfy with amazing views looking down Shanghai, 
I basically fell asleep with beautiful city lights by my side every night,
There were also kites flying higher than my room almost 24/7,
Did I mention I stayed at 33rd floor?
What's even more, these kites had LED lights on after sunset, truly a fun scene to watch!

But all the above things just don't add up,
To me, nothing compares to home....most importantly...homemade food!
No more dining out, all I want is healthy, clean, light, and yummy homemade food!

Smoked ham sandwich with aioli and Parmigiano Reggiano -

Ingredients (for two)?

4 bread slices
4 slices of smoked ham
2 eggs
2 ripe tomatoes
1 sprig of rosemary
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Tiny pinch of lemon juice (optional)
Some good quality Parmigiano Reggiano
Some extra virgin olive oil
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


This is the kind of bread slices I use -

You can definitely substitute with other bread of preference.

Evenly drizzle some olive oil on both sides of the bread slices,
Grill each side till slightly brown in color.

To prepare the tomato slices,
Slice two tomatoes and set aside.
Mix finely chopped rosemary, some olive oil, sea salt, and pepper,
Brush tomato slices with the rosemary mixture and grill for about one minute.

As for the egg, it's just like cooking sunny side up,
Drizzle some oil in the pan, turn to high heat, and add the eggs in,
Remember to sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt and pepper on top of the eggs,
Cook till desired doneness and remove from heat.

Shave the cheese and set aside.

The aioli sauce is the main ingredient of this recipe,
Blend together the mayonnaise, garlic clove, lemon juice, maybe some lemon zest, small pinch of salt and pepper,
You can also add a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil if the mixture appears on the dry side,
Once mixed well, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.

This is good stuff,
I can just dip plain chicken meat with this aioli and eat with rice.

All the hard work is done, now move on to the assembly line,
Brush one side of the bread slices with aioli,
Take one of the bread slices, aioli side up, top with grilled tomato slices -

Add 2 slices of smoked ham, 1 egg, and some shaved cheese -

Top with another bread slice, aioli side down -

Ahhhh homemade food is the best.

I was gonna add avocado slices but couldn't find any ripe avocados in the market,
After traveling for one whole week, no way I'm waiting for that tiny green fruit to "grow older!"
Eat first,
The sandwich is still good withouth avocado, especially after being away for one whole week.

Cindy's Rating: 8

Jul 11, 2011

Homemade Red Bean Paste - 蜜紅豆餡

This is truly a two birds in one stone recipe,
Even though my title states "red bean paste," but I actually use the beans and turned them into red bean "soup" and red bean "paste."

You're probably familiar with red bean soup already, but what is the paste for?
Well, I usually make them ahead of time and store in small batches in the freezer,
The bean paste can be roll into all kinds of bread dough, even mochi, to make a sweet treat,
It's up to you to figure out what to do with this filling, it's time to get creative!

Homemade red bean paste (soup pictures and recipe in the end) -


4 cups of red beans
Some brown sugar
Some honey
Some sea salt
Some filtered water

*Please refer to below section for the exact amount of ingredients


To make a good red bean dish, we need to start with picking out the best beans to use,
Pour 4 cups of red beans into a pot, pick out imperfect beans -

Soak in filtered water for 2 to 4 hours.

Drain out the water -

Pour in new filtered water again till fully covered the beans,
Bring to a boil then discard the water again.

We're kind of repeating the steps here,
Add more filtered water till it covers all the beans,
Bring to a boil then let it simmer.

From here, I scoop out half of the beans and most of the liquid for the soup,
The other half remains in the pot for the paste,
Let's talk about the bean paste first.

In the same pot, add a little bit of filtered water at a time and keep the mixture simmering,
Repeat the steps till the beans are fully cooked, which means they can be easily smashed with a spoon,
This is similar to making a risotto, tender and constant care is the key,
When the paste is ready, the whole mixture should be on the moist side, but definitely not wet.

Use a wooden spoon and stir in 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/4 teaspoon of salt,
Remember to stir and smash at the same time,
However, you don't have to smash till silky smooth, sometimes some chunky bits of beans can actually add more texture to the bite.
You can adjust the sweetness level by using more or less brown sugar,
But do remember, the bean paste should be on the sweet side since we mostly gonna end up using them as a filling.

As for the other half of the beans I scooped out earlier,
Poured it more water into the second pot,
Bring the mixture to a boil then turn to medium low heat to keep it simmer for about 45 minutes.

Add the seasonings in the end,
I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of honey,
Don't forget a pinch of sea salt, it helps to brighten up the flavor and the aroma from the beans,
The amount of sweet ingredients I used yields to a semi-sweet soup,
You can add more sugar if sweeter soup is desired,
Here's my mom's simple red bean soup recipe, might give you more ideas on the preperation part.

I also scooped some finished red bean paste back to the soup,
That way, I get whole red beans from the soup, and moist red bean aroma from the paste,
See, two birds in one stone again.

Call me greedy.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Jul 3, 2011

Brown Rice Served with Chinese Shacha Gravy and Lamb Slices

Brown rice has been gradually replacing the all-mighty position in my heart,
Maybe it's becauses I love the al dente texture of pasta, and brown rice gives me that similar bite,
The bran/germ layer provides a slightly chewy texture that I can't find in regular white rice,
Don't even mention the high nutritional value it brings to my happy tummy.

However, some people doesn't like it for the reason why I love it - that chewy bite,
They think it's too dry and too tough to eat,
To remedy the situation? Why not serve brown rice with some kind of "saucey" and heavy tasting seasonings?
The soupy ingridients not only work wonderful with brown rice since the bran prevents the grains from sogginess, but also make it less parched for brown rice haters!

Ingredients (for 3~4 portions)?


1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of shacha sauce
1 teaspoon of Chinese cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon of chili sauce

To cook:

1 lb/about 35 lamb slices
1 big bundle of spinach
8 to 10 shitake mushroom
2 eggs
1/2 large onion
4 to 5 garlic cloves
4 fresh chili peppers
3 tablespoons of shacha sauce
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of corn starch with some filtered water 
2 1/2 cup of hot water
1/2 teaspoon of chili sauce
Some rice of preference
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
Some toasted sesame seeds (optional)


Whisk all the marinade ingredients together and massage the lamb slices with it,
Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Peel and slice the onion, peel and mince the garlic, chop the chili peppers into smaller pieces,
Remove the stems from the mushroom and cut into slices,
Beat two eggs,
Thoroughly rinse the spinach and soak in water for about 5 to 10 minutes,
Once done, drain well and set aside,

Prepare a big pan or a pot,
Drizzle some olive oil till the bottom of the pan is well coated,
Turn to medium high heat,
Toss in sliced onion, sprinkle some salt and pepper.

Cook till the onion turned slightly translucent,
Toss is minced garlic and chopped chili peppers,
Give it a quick stir and wait till that garlicky aroma comes out, but don't let it burn!

Add in the mushrooms together with shacha sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chili sauce,
Mix well and cook till the mushrooms appear soft and tender,
The color will get darker too after absorbing all the heavy seasonings.

Transfer the spinach into the pan, cook till wilted,
Taste it and see if more seasonings are needed,
It should be on the salty side since we gonna add water into the mixture, it'll dilute the taste a bit.

Pour in hot water and bring to a boil,
Mix corn starch with just a little bit of water,
Gradually pour in the corn starch water while stirring the soupy ingredients at the same time,
This will prevent doughy lumps, so don't be lazy!

While doing the same motion, add in the eggs and turn off the fire,
Don't stir too much here, otherwise the whole thing will look kind of dirty and mushy.

Simply scoop the soupy ingredients onto the rice,
You can sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds to add more nutritional value,
I also added some ground pepper on top to give it an extra kick.

Hope this recipe will make more people willing to give this healthy grain another try!

Cindy's Rating: 8