Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Edible Gifts: Irish Cream and Pistachio Fudge and Dark Chocolate Kahlua Fudge

These two delicious fudge recipes are from the blog Eat Good 4 Life. Irish cream pistachio fudge is made with white chocolate. Dark chocolate kahlua fudge also has almonds. Both are heavily rich! Even a small cube is luxurious.

Last Christmas I gave these as gifts to my colleagues. I wrapped up two pieces of each kind of fudge with plastic wrap and ribbons.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chickpea and Chorizo Flatbread

I wrote recently about how I was out of ideas. Not just for blogging, but for cooking as well. Thanks to all of you for your sympathy in the comments on that post and on Facebook. A few days later I was frustrated and feeling like chucking stuff out. I attacked a messy kitchen cupboard and ditched some old, expired flours. I consolidated three bags of almond flour into a canister. Foods I am trying to avoid eating (mostly wheat-based) were put out of reach. And I discovered I had a big container of chickpea flour that I had forgotten about. I was determined to make something interesting out of it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cranberry and Walnut Muffins

Here are four things that make me feel Christmassy:

1. listening to Christmas carols while cooking
2. singing along to Christmas carols
3. the smell of baking muffins with cranberries and orange
4. my fingers around a mug of steaming spiced tea

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I haven't blogged much lately as I feel empty of ideas. I haven't been photographing much lately because I haven't been enjoying cooking much lately. And I think not enjoying grocery shopping much lately has been a part of the problem, too.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Panna Cotta

I have been a bit slow this autumn to begin the pumpkin cooking, but I am happy to report that I am now racing to catch up. First, I present this stunning autumn dessert for a special meal: pumpkin panna cotta.

This is a ridiculously easy dessert if you have canned pumpkin on hand. And it is still very easy if you have to roast the pumpkin yourself. (Do it the day before to save your sanity.) My Hong Kong grocery store gets one delivery of canned pumpkin a year, always the week before American Thanksgiving. I squealed in the shop when I saw it last weekend! This year I have been wise and stocked up with seven big cans to take me through until next year's shipment. Prepare yourselves, readers, for pumpkin recipes to make anyone cry for non-root vegetables.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler

I have been looking forward this Kitchen Reader book for many months. I first heard about An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler when it was recommended by Micahel Ruhlman. (Ruhlman is a thoughtful food author who has also featured on the Kitchen Reader booklist.) Then I heard many others  praising An Everlasting Meal, saying it was akin to MKF Fisher's simple yet sublime writing. And it is clear from reading that Adler has indeed been very inspired by Fisher. In fact, the recent launch of this book included a Fisher-themed meal, which Adler organised and wrote about on her blog in a post called "Becoming".

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wild Mushroom Soup

"A proper wild mushroom soup should live up to its name: a wolf in soup's clothing. The trick is to use a mixture of different fungi to layer the flavours." So says Niki Segnit in The Flavour Thesaurus, an intriguing book I received for Christmas from my brother. This mushroom soup uses both fresh and dried mushrooms, and the more varieties the better. Its wildness is highlighted by a smooth backdrop of sherry and cream. I served it as the first course of Canadian Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mushroom, Broccoli, and Chicken Risotto

I don't eat a lot of carbs anymore, so when I do, I make sure they are the tastiest I can create. Hence we had creamy, satisfying risotto for dinner recently. I find cooking risotto helps me relax and puts me in a more patient frame of mind.

Risotto calms me down because I am tied to the spatula, stirring gently for about twenty minutes. While my arm slowly circles, I am imagining the first warm, toothsome bite. I know the rice will be soft on the outside with a little resistance inside. The first forkful of rice will be sticky with parmesan cheese and punctuated by vegetables. There will be a few grindings of fresh black pepper on top.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

How to Cook Perfect Swordfish

It's time to try something new: swordfish. With the help of this fish substitution chart (below), it's easy. Swordfish is a large fish that lives in the warm parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It has firm, meaty flesh and is easy to cook as a steak or threaded onto skewers and barbecued.

Swordfish can be cooked according to any recipe that calls for tuna or shark and many that are for salmon. The table below shows many types of fish categorised according to texture and flavour. Fish with the same texture and flavour can be substituted for each other.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Carrot Salad with Spiced Bacon Topping

Here's the easy kind of food I like to make and eat. This is just some chopped vegetables and a bacon topping. But it tastes special because the bacon is fried with garlic and a few aromatic spices in butter.

Carrots and courgettes (zucchini) are such simple and cheap vegetables, but I really love finding ways to make them seem new again. I chopped them into tiny pieces in my food processor, and made this little bacon topping to go with them. There's just enough butter to coat the vegetables very lightly; you may like a bit more butter or olive oil. I ate the whole lot for lunch one afternoon.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini - and Turkey Meatballs with Gravy

Georgia Pellegrini's book, Girl Hunter, chronicles her journey to hunt her own meat. It was our Kitchen Reader book club pick this month, chosen by Julie of Savvy Eats. Pellegrini says that hunting helped her enjoy her food more because of "the pleasures of knowing what occurred on the journey from the field to the table". She eloquently describes the craft of hunting and preparing game meat. Her book covers many different (North American) hunted animals, including wild turkey, dove, partridge, elk, pheasant, duck, boar, and many more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beef Chilli

This is the dinner meal that is on rotation at my house more than any other. We eat it year-round; though I know some people who think chilli is a winter dish. Allow me to explain.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Almond and Orange Cake

Every time I try to eat an orange at breakfast it squirts into my eye. As a result, I have given up on oranges in the a.m. and I had a couple of leftover oranges in the fridge. Luckily, I found a new great use for oranges - make orange puree. I used the whole orange, skin and all.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Living Room Picnic

Anthony and I have a favourite dinner date place: our living room floor. Sometimes it's so nice to stay at home and enjoy each other's company than go out to a restaurant. We have a meal that has turned into a tradition: the living room picnic.

We spread out a blanket and lay out our finger foods. We usually choose some special cheeses, sliced meats, veggies, and some dip. Sometimes we eat focaccia, crackers, or hunks of fresh bread. I like olives and he likes hummus.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

The New York Times newspaper restaurant critic has a lot of power since his or her reviews and star ratings are coveted by New York eateries. Garlic and Sapphires is Ruth Reichl's memoir of her time as the New York Times restaurant critic and it was our Kitchen Reader book this month, chosen by Marian of Spelt for Choice.

In an effort to write fair reviews of the restaurants she visited, Reichl resorted to disguises. As a result, this book is partly about food - and the food writing is sublime - and partly about Reichl's identity crisis as she dons the lives of her disguises.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fried Egg Accompaniment?

Now that I try not to eat wheat, what should I eat with my fried eggs?

I have been trying to avoid wheat and sugar recently, as I have become convinced that these are things that our bodies, and mine in particular, are not meant to process. I've started reading some paleo and primal websites and blogs. (Have a look at Mark's Daily Apple for one example.) But now I need to think of some ways to replace bread at breakfast.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch

"In my experience there's not a state in the world," Fee said matter-of-factly, "that cannot be greatly improved by close proximity to cheese."
July at The Kitchen Reader means a food-centred novel. Last year we read The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. And this year we were lucky enough to read the highly enjoyable Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch, selected by Victoria of Mommy Marginalia.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Smart Chefs Stay Slim by Allison Adato

Eating healthy and staying slim are not things all chefs are known for. But Allison Adato, in her book Smart Chefs Stay Slim, set out to find out what slender chefs ate and did to stay healthy. This book was our Kitchen Reader pick for June, chosen by Aileen of 300 Threads.

Adato makes a good argument for listening to fit chefs about eating. Chefs won't eat boring or tasteless food, she asserts, so healthy eating chefs are bound to have some tasty ideas. Also, chefs are extremely busy, so their eating tips will be good for anyone who wants or needs to eat conveniently. And chefs are faced with temptations of unhealthy food daily - so how do they deal with the pressure to eat everything they see? I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It turned out to be well written and full of usable, insightful ideas.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Amaranth, Raisin, and Nut Loaf


I've been struggling lately with blogging. I haven't been posting much lately due to a strange version of bloggers' block. It seems that the food I want to cook and the stories I want to tell don't always match.

I have been cooking as much as always and I have many pictures of things to share with you. I've got creative vegetable ideas, both main dishes and sides. I have some healthy baking (like this loaf), and plenty of tasty meal ideas. So I'm fine with food to post about.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dhal: Buttery Lentils with Garlic and Tomatoes

About a year ago I discovered that a friend of my brother had started a wonderful food blog called The Things I Eat. The author is Minh, a Canadian with a Vietnamese background. He started blogging as he was exploring his family history through food. I love reading his insights and the recipes usually entice me too. One of the very first things I bookmarked was this lentil dish: dhal. (It's not Vietnamese, just go with me anyway!)

A bowl of warm, buttery lentils is filling and satisfying. It's the kind of tongue- and heart-warming food that I almost cuddle. I like to hold the bowl between my knees as I sit on the couch. After eating dhal my toes are wiggling and there's a little smile on my face. The first time I served dhal I added turkey meatballs, the next time I just enjoyed it plain. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher

I have been waiting for months to read some MFK Fisher. Everyone who knows food writing says she is the master. For example, Ruth Reichl says she "has the extraordinary ability to make the ordinary seem rich and wonderful." Julia Child said her "wit and passionate opinions on food and those who produce it, comment upon it, and consume it are as apt today as they were... when she composed them." Alice Waters says that The Art of Eating "should be required reading for every cook. It defines in a sensual and beautiful way the vital relationship between food and culture." How fortunate we were that the May Kitchen Reader selection by Carolyn of FoodNURD was The Art of Eating, a massive compendium of five of Fisher's books, totalling more than 700 pages.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Veggie and Egg Cakes

These little veggie and egg bites pack well for lunch. Or they make a pretty appetizer or brunch item. I used choi sum as the green vegetable here. My recipe is adapted from a spinach-based recipe. And I would like to try them with watercress. So use any green, leafy vegetable you have on hand.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Red and Green Salad with Chayote

Ms Hovey was my favourite teacher in elementary school. Her grade four class was the first place I tasted kiwi, and the first place I saw baking soda react with vinegar. I was a quiet, bookish girl with long, brown hair and glasses, and I wanted to please her. Perhaps because of this, she encouraged me to enter the school's public speaking competition.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rhubarb Cake with Cinnamon Topping

On Mondays at work we have a collaboration session. The twelve of us in our department have a scheduled meeting to discuss issues and share ideas. I try to provide a snack at collaboration since it's a rare time when we are all together. I made this cake two Mondays in a row for collaboration.

The first week I made this it was because I was so excited to see rhubarb in my grocery store. The second week it was requested by a British colleague who realised that rhubarb was one part of a UK spring that he had been missing. The crumbly cinnamon topping adds a nice counterpoint to the tart and soft rhubarb.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Cook Perfect Quail's Eggs

Quail's eggs are tiny, speckled beauties. They cook in a very short time, and make an elegant addition to a salad, soup, or appetizer tray. I bought a dozen at the Central wet market in Hong Kong and set about on an experiment to discover how to boil the perfect quail's egg.


I boiled the eggs above for different lengths of time to see how long it took to get a perfectly soft or hard boiled egg. The eggs above were cooked for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 2.5 minutes, 3 minutes, and 4 minutes.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Artichoke Bites

I have written about these artichoke squares before. They are a great side dish or party appetiser. My newest version of these delectable hand-held snacks, pictured here, taste a lot like pizza bites. I adapted my previous recipe by adding tomatoes, using sriracha to add some heat, and changing the ratio of artichokes and cheese.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mango, Banana, and Coconut Loaf (Sugar-Free)

I first ate mangoes in Mexico as a high school student. They were ripe and slightly squishy, and faintly smelled of pine. Someone showed me how to slice off a slab from the side, and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. The juice dribbled down my chin and arms, falling in fat, orange drops from my elbow to the dusty ground below.

There were ten of us high schoolers on an outreach project near Tijuana. We spent the week running kids' programs and hosting evening gatherings at local churches. And every day at breakfast I ate a juicy mango. I savoured every bite of them. I used my teeth to gnaw off the stringy bits of flesh around the huge seed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Top 5 Easter Recipes

For me, holidays revolve around food. Easter meals are a great time to share with friends and family and reflect on God's gift to us in Jesus. Here are my five picks for making this weekend's food special.

Hot Cross Buns: This whole grain version of the Easter classic is easy to make and a perfect Easter breakfast.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Season to Taste by Molly Birnbaum

I really hope I never go blind. I have often thought that this would be my worst nightmare for my elderly days. I am sure I will lose my sense of hearing. I have never contemplated that I could lose my senses of taste, smell, or touch. But of all the senses, I could not bear to be without my sight.

You don't really hear much about people losing their sense of smell. However, Molly Birnbaum lost her ability to smell after a head injury in a car accident. Her account of her life before and after this is detailed in her memoir, Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way. It was our March Kitchen Reader choice, picked by Katherine Martinelli.

If this book is anything to go by, losing one's sense of smell is quite harrowing. More than perhaps I imagined.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mexican Soup

Sonya was my best friend in high school and university. We started off as colleagues when we worked as youth centre leaders. Soon we were inseparable. She was there when I made my first forays into cooking. This cake (pictured below) was one of the first things either of us ever baked; it was a birthday cake for Glenn, our boss. (In his car he had a wooden figure called Calvin which we copied - you can see it at the top the cake.) This cake was a huge hit with our boss - he was so impressed!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gingerbread Cake (Whole Grain)

I was a tomboy as a teenager. I refused to wear dresses (sorry, Grammie, you did try to tempt me) and I never owned anything pink. My beanpole body helped, too: I was tall and straight as a board for all of my pre-adult years. Jeans and baggy T-shirts were my uniform, along with chunky boots or trainers. My long (lanky) hair was the only thing about me that could be described as remotely feminine. (Here I am at 16 with my friend Delia. Doesn't she look like a lovely girl?)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ricotta Cheese

In this month's Secret Recipe Club I was lucky enough to be assigned Parsley, Sage, Desserts, and Line Drives. It's written by Lisa Michele and has a wide-ranging archive of recipes to browse. I viewed so many delicious things on this blog, but somehow found myself coming back time and again to homemade ricotta cheese.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Three Essentials for Writing a Perfect Food Blog Post -- Lessons from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg is a writing course for food bloggers. Her book grew out of her popular and long-running blog Orangette. The book tells the story of her life through vignettes and recipes. It was our Kitchen Reader choice for February, chosen by Jules of Stone Soup.

Wizenberg's voice is chatty, friendly, and laid back. She paints word pictures of her family and friends in a humourous and loving way. She has been a food blogger since 2004. In her book she says that she writes "about my life some, too, since it intersects with food roughly three times a day." It's clear that this book grew from the stories on her blog. Each of the forty-five short chapters in her book is a perfect model of how to write an engaging blog post. I learned three lessons to apply to my food blogging. I'm considering these the three essential ingredients for a perfect food blog post.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cornbread with Corn

From the "why-didn't-i-think-of that-before?" file comes this recipe idea: adding corn to cornbread. Boy, that's an obvious idea, but it had not occurred to me until recently.

If you are anything like me, you often have some frozen or canned corn around on standby to make emergency meals when there are no "real" vegetables in the fridge. And so it is that I threw some corn into the cornbread recently. Serve with soup for a full meal. (Maybe rocket and goat's cheese soup? Or Mexican soup?)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Butternut Squash with Beans and Pumpkin Seeds

"You mean you really don't eat out?" my colleague asked. We were having drinks after a work conference and I confessed I hadn't eaten at any of the restaurants he had been praising.

"I like to cook," I replied. It's true, I prefer to come home and cook rather than eat out--the vast majority of the time. This is not typical Hong Kong behaviour.

"But where do you get ideas for what to make?" he countered.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thanks for Visiting!

Hello, friends! This is just a short, personal note to say thanks for visiting Simply Cooked, or liking us on Facebook. In the last four months the blog has had over 10,000 page views each month! This is a huge milestone for me and I'm so excited. Plus, there are more than 300 people subscribed to the blog by email or RSS feed.

My next goal is to increase the interactivity on the Simply Cooked Facebook page. I think it could be a great place to share easy, tasty recipe ideas. Anyone can post there, so I hope you will. Next time you find something interesting around the web, please share it with the Simply Cooked community by posting it there. Or share your kitchen ideas.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meatless Meatballs

Now here's a unique way to make meatballs: with lentils and brown rice. These meatless meatballs are a good party snack or a dinner main dish with spaghetti. They are made more interesting with the addition of pesto, garlic, oregano, and paprika. They tasted scrumptious with a pesto and mayo dipping sauce.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Zesty Grapefruit Cake (Whole Grain)

My good friend is allergic to milk. She came over to bake with me last week and we whipped up this delicious cake. It's made with grapefruit and is zesty, delicious, and has no milk.

I have never tried a cake with grapefruit before - but it's an inspired surprise. It's a sharper taste than orange and more flavourful than lemon. The springy cake is topped with a glaze made with grapefruit zest and juice.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman

What does it take to be a great cook?
What does perfect cooking taste like?

These are the questions Michael Ruhlman sets out to answer in his engaging book, The Soul of a Chef. The book covers three parts. First, Rulhman narrates an inside view of the Certified Master Chef (CMC) exam. Next, he spends time in the restaurant and kitchen of Michael Symon, the up-and-coming chef of Lola. Finally, Ruhlman stays at The French Laundry and meets Thomas Keller, named America's best chef by Time magazine in 2001.

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection was our Kitchen Reader book in January, chosen by Lisa of Charleston Treasures. As it turns out, reading about how great chefs strive to cook the perfect food was enlightening for me, a humble home cook.


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