Rice Pork Wrap

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The Duanwu Festival or, “Dragon Boat Festival,” occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar calendar, giving rise to the alternative name, “Double Fifth.” This year it lands on May 30th. Traditionally we celebrate this festival by eating zongzi, which are large rice wraps, drinking realgar wine, and racing dragon boats. The best-known story holds that the festival commemorates the death of poet Qu Yuan (c. 340 BC – 278 BC) of the ancient state of Chu.  Today we will teach you how make zongzi.

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INGREDIENTS

( serves 5-6 people, about 12-14 zongzi )
30-40 bamboo or reed leaves
粽叶zòng yè
2 jin glutinous rice
糯米 nuò mĭ
1½ jin mixed pork
夹心肉 jiá xīn ròu
2 teaspoons salt
盐 yán
2-3tablespoons soy sauce
酱油 jiàng yóu
1 tablespoon shochu
烧酒 shāo jiŭ
20 (40cm) lengths of string
线 xiàn
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METHOD
1. Zongzi prep takes a long time. First there are the leaves. They need to be soaked in water for at least 24 hours prior to use. Only when the leaves are ready should you begin preparing the pork filling and rice.
2. Cut the pork into 2cm x 3cm cubes. Put the cubes into a bowl, add shochu, stir and mix well, cover it and leave it to soak for 30 minutes. After the soaking period, pour out the extra liquid and add enough soy sauce to cover all the pork. Let the pork marinate for 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally.
3. Put all the rice into a huge bowl, add the salt and 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce, stir well and set aside for 30 minutes to let the sauce soak into the rice.
4. When everything is ready, it’s time to wrap them. Take 2-3 leaves, fold the leaves as illustrated, make it look like a pocket.
5. After wrapping them all, it’s time to cook. If you use a pressure cooker, just put in all the zongzi and a lot of water till they’re totally covered. Close the cooker and cook them till the pressure cooker starts screaming. It’s OK. Let it scream for another half an hour. Then turn down the fire a bit and cook for another half an hour. Remove from the flame and leave them sit for 30 minutes.
6. Finally it’s time to try the tasty zongzi. You can keep the rest in the freezer. It normally takes about 30 minutes to cook the frozen ones, however, the longer they’ve been cooked the tastier they taste!
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Classic Pesto

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Pine nuts – these small edible seeds of pine trees, are a splendid source of plant derived nutrients, essential minerals, and “heart friendly” monounsaturated fatty acids that help benefit in reducing cholesterol levels in the blood. They are often used in different cuisines, to add a nutty taste and creamy texture.
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Together with basil, this classic pesto is bursting with fresh herbal flavour. It’s super easy to make and goes well with almost everything! Pesto is great when tossed with pasta, spread on bread/sandwich/pancake, used as a sauce for salad or Pizza, or even as a dip for veggies and chips!

 

This is a classic recipe for making pesto. Though it’s certainly delicious, this is not the only way. Feel happy to add more ingredients or even switch some to make your own version of pesto! Some more recommendation for the extra ingredients are: parsley, spinach, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, sun-dried tomatoes… Bottom line: greens + nuts + cheese + olive oil = awesomeness, literally, you can’t go wrong. Be creative and have fun!
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INGREDIENTS
2 big bunches(6cups, gently packed) of fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Lemon juice, optional

METHOD
1. Toast the pine nuts in a clean pan (without anything even oil), shake the pan and let them “dance” consistently. When they are lightly roasted(not golden colour yet), move the pine nuts out of the pan.
2. Get your food processor/blender ready. Blend the basil with pine nuts, garlic and half of Parmesan cheese. Stream in oil to make the machine run smoothly.
3. Add the remaining cheese, season to perfection with salt and pepper. Keep adding a bit more salt or oil, blend until you are happy with the taste and consistency.
4. Add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang!

One tip for keeping the pesto from turning brown in the jar (if you want to store them in the fridge): always keep a layer of olive oil on top of pesto after using. This seals out the air and prevents oxidation.

Mexican-inspired Quinoa Salad

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A colorful Mexican style salad should stimulate your appetite in the hot season! This quinoa salad is also packed with other goodies: black beans, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes and avocado. I spiced it a little bit with pickled onions and chilies (or go for jalapeño to make it more Mexican spicy). I made a green dressing with half avocado, coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice, which turned out pretty freshly creamy. You can also use tomato salsa, or sour cream instead. Or, wanna make your salad more lighter yet still flavorful? Don’t waste the thick liquid from the pickled chilies!

Ingredients
( serves 2-3)
* 1 cup (120g) dry quinoa, rinsed
* 1 can (425g) black beans, rinsed
(or 150g dry beans, pre-soaked and cook in water until soft)
* 1 medium sized sweet potato, washed and cut in small dices
* 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
* 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
* 1 lemon
* a handful of coriander
* several slices of onion
* 2 small chilies, chopped into rings
* a garlic clove, peeled and chopped
* cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper
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Methods
1. The way to cook quinoa is basically the same as rice. The easiest method is to cook it in a rice-cooker. Bring two cups of water to the boil to one cup of quinoa.
2. Pickle the chilies and onions in lemon (half) juice with salt.
3. Place a pan on medium heat, give a nice splash of olive oil, put in all the cooked black beans, season with cumin, salt and pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stir several times in between in case the beans get burned. Set the beans aside.
4. Add some more oil in the pan, when heated, put in the sweet potatoes and let them fry on medium-low heat for 5 minutes or more, until the surface turns golden. Set aside.
5. Put half avocado flesh, a small handful of coriander, a big squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt in a blender, season to taste.
6. Time for assembly! Arrange the quinoa on the bottom of a plate, top with black beans, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, avocado and pickles. Garnish with coriander leaves. Dressing is on the side, what are we waiting for?

Fruit Chia Seed Pudding

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This fruit Chia Seed Pudding, which is easy and fun to prepare, cool summer-looking, insanely yummy and healthy, can be a meal to start the day, or keep them in the fridge as dessert. By the way, they are seriously in low calorie.

Chia seed are originally from Mexico and several Central American countries. They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and calcium. They can absorb 10 times their weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, there will be a gelatin-like coating being developed, surrounding the seed, and turn anything they’re added to into a magical pudding.

This recipe requires only 6 ingredients: fruit, chia seed, milk, honey, cinnamon powder, peanut butter. And only chia seed is unsubstitutable! You can surely make your own version such like: kiwi + chia seed + soya milk + sugar (or sugar-free) + vanilla/cocao + nuts. All you need is 20 minutes prep time, then put them into fridge to chill for overnight or at least 2 hours.
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Ingredients
(serves 3, 200ml each)
Mango/Pitaya
60g chia seed
300ml milk
20g honey
1 tsp cinnamon powder
4 spoons of peanut butter(slightly salted is fine)

Methods
1. Mix the milk, honey, cinnamon, and 1 spoon of peanut butter in a big bowl, add in the chia seed and mix again, until no more chia seed stick together, put aside for 15 minutes.
2. Peel the fruits, cut into small dices, leave some for the topping, mash the rest into puree separately.
3. Prepare 3 glasses/jars, scoop the puree into the glass as the first layer, chia seed mixing as the second layer. Repeat again until the glass is full. Scoop one spoon of peanut butter into each glass. Place the fruit cubes on the top. Let them chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Enjoy the breeze!
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Osaka Style Okonomiyaki

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According to the menus in Japanese okonomiyaki restaurants, I would say the most popular extra fillings are seafood such as shrimps and octopus, pork belly, and cheese. There are mainly two different styles of cooking okonomiyaki, one from Osaka and the other from Hiroshima. Osaka has been called “kitchen of the nation” for centuries, it is known for its inexpensive and abundant food culture. Today I’m gonna introduce the classic and simple Osaka style okonomiyaki.

First of all, let’s make a batter. Besides the obligatory ingredients(cabbage, egg, flour), I added in onions, leeks and baking powder, seasoned with soy sauce. It can be a little complicated if we really want to, by adding more ingredients such as grated yam, tempura scraps, or seasoning with Japanese dashi. About topping and garnishing, I strongly recommend to use the okonomi sauce, together with Japanese Mayonnaise. I’m not a fan of sauces in bottles normally, but when it comes to okonomiyaki, I just can’t say no. Feel free to put on bonito fish flakes if you like your okonomiyaki taste fishy. I finished topping with loads of dried seaweed and chopped spring onions, which gives every bite freshness and it looks gorgeous. Okay, shall we start?
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Ingredients:
(makes 2 okonomiyaki)
For the batter:
200g cabbage, thinly shredded
50g (a quarter of medium sized) onion, chopped
50g (15cm stalk) leek, chopped
2 eggs
100 plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oil
salt to taste

For the topping:
okonomi sauce
kewpie mayonnaise
dried seaweed powderspring onions, chopped

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Methods:
1. Prepare a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the batter, it shouldn’t be too thick or too watery in the end. Add more flour or water to adjust.
2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan on a medium-low heat, pour the mixture into the pan, gently press it with a spatula to make a stable and round shape. Fry one side for about 5 minutes. Check the bottom, when the color turns golden brown, use the spatula to flip over and fry the other side for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
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3. Brush the surface with okonomi sauce, sprinkle dried seaweed powder, top with lots of spring onions, drizzle mayonnaise and okonomi sauce again. Itadakimasu (let’s eat ) !
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Winter Tagine

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Tagine is Morocco’s best-known dish: a slow-cooked stew in a large clay pot with a conical lid. This design allows the steam that evaporates from the food to drip down back into themselves, so to retain its juices.

Although tagine literally means this kind of clay pot, we don’t have to use a tagine pot to cook this tagine dish. With a few tricks, a regular clay pot or just a pot will bring us a pretty close result. The vegetables are tender(slow-cook), yet chunky(chop big), absorb the essences of the exotic spices mixed with cumin, coriander and turmeric, develop a balanced taste between sweet (dried apricots or raisins) and a little spicy (chili or harissa), hit the taste-buds with a fresh twist of lemon and parsley.

Again, you can use almost any kind of vegetables in this dish. My combination with pumpkin and sweet potato make my version a little sweet. They can be replaced by zucchini, eggplant or any other things you prefer. Serve the tagine as the Moroccans do – over couscous, or like me – with flat-bread to dip in the rich sauce.
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INGREDIENTS
(serves 2)
1 onion, 1 sweet potato, 1 red bell paprika (all medium sized), big chunk of pumpkin and radish, all roughly chopped
half stalk leek, cut into 2-3 pieces
half cup(100g) of dried chickpeas, cooked
3 garlic cloves, a 1cm chunk ginger, chopped
0.5L veggie stock
lemon and parsley
10 salted olives
5 dried apricots, sliced
1 tspn cumin powder
half tspn (each) coriander, chili and turmeric powder
salt and pepper, olive oil

Optional:
Greek yogurt, nuts, couscous/rice/bread
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METHODS
1. Heat olive oil in a clay pot on medium heat, sauté the onion for several minutes until soft. Add garlic, ginger and all the other powder spices, give a quick stir.
2. Add pumpkin, sweet potato, radish, paprika and leek, squeeze in half of a lemon juice, stir around for a few minutes before the veggies turning brown. Add the olives, apricots and cooked chickpeas, pour in the stock until the veggies are almost covered. Season with salt and pepper. Turn on low heat, put the lid on. Let it slow-cook for at least 30 minutes. Stir gently 1-2 times in between.
3. Turn off the heat. The vegetables are still in good shapes, but getting nicely tender and we don’t want to crush them. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and lemon zest, serve the tagine with Greek yogurt over couscous.
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Kimchi Ramen

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There was some kimchi in the fridge the other day that was totally staring me down. Therefore, this quick and easy Kimchi Ramen recipe was born. It’s a perfect dish for winter, if you are fond of spicy. To prepare the broth will take you about 20-25 minutes. As long as all the ingredients are thrown in the pot, you can leave it to simmer. The broth will turn out to be intense and flavourful because of the kimchi and miso paste. By adding apple and lemon, the taste will be balanced with slightly fruity sweetness. For the noodle, you can top on any kinds of veggies you like, or a soft boiled egg would also match perfectly. I put in broccoli and tofu in my bowl. And I’ll introduce my favourite way to prepare tofu: freeze it! Freezing tofu removes excess moisture and firms the texture up. It also allows the tofu more able to soak up sauces in a soup dish with a pleasant chew. Sometimes when I can’t use up a fresh tofu, I’ll pop the rest into the freezer and it can be kept well for weeks. When it’s time to use again, take it out in room temperature for overnight, let it defrosted and good to cook!

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INGREDIENTS
(serves 2)
200g ramen or other noodle
100g frozen tofu, defrosted and cut
1 handful broccoli
2 spoonful kimchi
Half cup sliced leek or spring onion
QUICK BROTH
1 onion, cut
Half apple, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1cm chunk ginger, crushed
Half cup kimchi
3 tbsp miso paste
4 cups water

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METHODS
1. Mix together all the ingredients (except miso paste) for the broth, simmer for 20 minutes. Mix in miso after 20 minutes and remove from heat. Strain the broth, discard the solids and return the broth to pot. Taste and add more salt if prefer.
2. Put tofu and broccoli into the broth, cook for 3-5 minutes. Cook the noodle in another pot with boiling water.
3. Prepare a bowl, combine noodle, broccoli and tofu, pour over 2 cups of broth and top with a spoonful kimchi, sprinkle some leeks and spring onions. Have a good one!

Winter Tart

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I explored some fancy fennel, artichoke and beetroot on the market for this tart. But you can vary the vegetables and use other ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, carrots or parsnips. I also mixed in some blue cheese. If that’s not your cup of tea, feel confident to use feta or cottage cheese instead. The short crust pastry is not the healthiest item in the world, but for special occasions, it transforms simple ingredients into something fun and festive. It’s easy to make and one of the most versatile pastries as it can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. Shortcrust pastry is nothing more than a mixture of flour, butter and several spoonful cold water.

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INGREDIENTS
200g all purpose flour
100g cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup cold water
1 fennel bulb, quartered
1 small beet, quartered
1 artichoke, cooked and cut
big chunk pumpkin, cubed
1 bell paprika, cut
bunch of parsley / dill, roughly chopped
blue / feta / cottage cheese
salt, pepper and olive oil

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METHODS
1. Mix the flour with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Use your fingers to mix the flour with cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour in some spoons of cold water, the mixture will begin to mix and knead the dough until a ball forms. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 180℃, arrange prepared vegetables on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until the beetroots are starting to soften. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt, put aside and let them cool down.
3. On a floured table surface, roll the dough out into a round shape and then ransfer to a baking sheet. Move some roasted veggies into the dough. Sprinkle with herbs and cheese. Repeat layering until you run out of ingredients. Fold the edges of the pastry over the veggies to make it fit. Bake for 40 minutes in the oven. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Lentil-stuffed Eggplant

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Preparing the eggplant bowl is the funnest part: first use a knife to cut the surface on one side, then scrape the inner flesh out with a spoon. Stuff the “bowl” with cooked lentils, bake simply until golden brown and you will have a saucy, satisfying dinner on your hands. This is a perfect hearty entrée or side dish which presents itself great when host friends. It’s delicious on its own, but it would also pair well with rice or vegetable/grain salads.

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INGREDIENTS
(serves 2)
2 small eggplants
100g red lentils, soaked overnight
half medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small sized tomatoes, finely chopped
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric (each)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley or coriander
salt and pepper, olive oil
Parmesan cheese for topping, herbs for garnish
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METHODS
1. Boil the lentils in a pot with enough water, reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are softened. Drain and put aside. Preheat the oven to 185℃.
2. Use a knife to cut the center out of the eggplants (better to use a spoon to scrape after the first cut). Leave enough eggplant flesh so it’s strong enough to hold the lentils later.
3. Heat a large pot over medium-low heat. Add oil and the eggplants, cover and cook on one side for 4-5 minutes. Flip the eggplants over on the other side, cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes. The eggplants should be softened and browned on the outside.
4. Set another pot on medium heat, add some oil and gently sautee the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, add in the bell peppers and tomatoes, season with tomato puree and all the listed powder, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Put in the cooked lentils and parsley, keep stirring until they’re mixed well.
5. Place cut-side up in a baking container and top with lentils. There would be some more lentils left, place them under the eggplants in the dish. Top with Parmesan cheese.
6. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the eggplants are browned.Serve as is or over rice. Garnish with fresh herbs. Best when fresh, also good as leftovers.微信图片_201811071546593

One Pot Curry

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Like most of you guys, I have a few favorite dinner recipes that rotate at least a couple of times each month, such as Frittata, Shakshuka, Paella and Minestrone soup. They are simple comforting food that all of my friends love and most importantly: they are from the recipes that I always have the ingredients within reach at home. Another dish that has made it into my regular recipe list is this one pot curry.

We can start with a base of onion, garlic and ginger, spice with a spoonful of curry paste, turmeric and cumin powder, then add whatever vegetables we have at hand, fill up with coconut milk. When it’s nicely cooked, add some green leaves and let them quickly wilt down without loosing its freshness. It’s a very likable dish which is easy to adapt to whatever flavors you prefer. Chili would be a good addition if you like it spicy. Replace any of the vegetables with whatever is in season: pumpkin, zucchini, tomatoes or eggplants will all fit right in. I always make a big pot of this so I have lunch or dinner sorted for another day. It keeps well in the fridge and the flavors will develop even further. Try it, tweak it and make it into your own recipe list!

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INGREDIENTS
(serves 2-3)
1 chopped medium sweet potato
1 handful split broccoli and cauliflower
1 can coconut milk
100g cubed tofu
1 handful Bok Choy
1 chopped onion
2 minced cloves garlic
1 small chunk ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin

serve with
a handful pan roasted cashew nuts
roasted black sesame seeds

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METHODS
1. Add oil to a large sauce pan on medium heat, sautée the onion, garlic and ginger together with curry paste, turmeric and cumin. Stir for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
2. Add the sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower to the pan, stir around to make sure nothing is burnt. Pour in the coconut milk and tofu. Cook for 15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft and tender. Remove from the heat, add green leaves and stir around. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
3. Serve in bowls with cooked rice, top with roasted cashew nuts and black sesame seeds.

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