Monday, September 30, 2013

A Taste of Burma

Life has been a freight train and roller coaster all mixed up into one happy conglomerate rush for several months, which has meant a lot less cookery, and hardly anything worth blogging about for a while.

Discovering the joys of Myanmar food however, and in particular, Shan tofu, is definitely something worth sharing and so I am.

My introduction to Myanmar cuisine comes by way of Naomi Duguid's excellent cookbook, Burma: Rivers of Flavor. As with her previous writing collaboration with Jeffrey Alford in Beyond The Great Wall, this is more than just a book about cookery - it gives a great deal of insight into both country and culture, and how the culture has shaped the cuisine of the region.

Shan tofu, or tohu, differs from what we normally know as tofu, in that it's made from chickpea flour instead of soybeans. It is extremely easy to prepare at home (basically it's chickpea flour, salt, and water), and is incredibly tasty and nutritious. And, of course, gluten free!

I made my batch of Shan tofu from Naomi's recipe, but this one I found online is pretty much the same in terms of ingredient quantities and instructions. I cut my quantities down to half the recipe (and the second time around I made it, I didn't even bother to grease a pan, I just poured it into one of those disposable, microwaveable plastic containers for easy storage, and it didn't stick at all so I may go with that from now on.)

Traditionally, Shan tofu is used to make tohu thoke (Shan Tofu Salad) or tohu byawk (Silky Shan Soup), but I just slice or scoop it into whatever salad greens I have, season it with a little soy sauce and rice vinegar, and have it as a light meal. If I happen to have any leftover meat, I'll put that in too, and that day I happened to have some poached chicken on hand, so it got cubed and tossed in as well.

Definitely a quick meal I suspect I'll be whipping up quite often in the days to come.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Strapped Cupboard Blues and Zucchini Noodles

Kitchen inspiration usually seems to strike when there's practically nothing - or at least very little - in the fridge or the pantry. After about a month of being extremely busy at work and alternating between tuna-corn salad and not-so-healthy food, I desperately wanted to get something healthy into my system to facilitate starting to workout again.

This would have been a noble undertaking, except all I had in the fridge veggies wise was one zucchini.

I wanted to make raw zucchini noodles, but what to have them with was a bit of a puzzle.

And then I remembered I had tahini, and I'd seen something about tahini sauces and dressings in my web meanderings at some point. I also had garlic, lemon, cold water, herb salt, a pot of rosemary, and Clothilde's Simple Tahini Sauce recipe.

Bonus: I also had frozen baby peas, and sundried tomatoes.


Zucchini Noodles with Peas, Sundried Tomatoes and Tahini Sauce

1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons
1-3 sundried tomatoes in oil, diced fine
1 quantity frozen baby peas
1 quantity Simple Tahini Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice zucchini into long fine ribbons or matchsticks. If you have a mandoline or grater, even better, but I did it with a knife. Put into a large bowl and set aside.

2. Snip sundried tomatoes into little dice, or cut them into strips. Use however much you like; if you’re fond of them use more, if you’re not so fond of them, use less. Mix them into the zucchini.

3. Put baby peas into a small pan of boiling water, and boil them just enough to get them to thaw out – about a minute or two, till they turn bright green. Drain, but reserve a little of the boiling water. Pour the peas, including the little bit of boiling water, onto the zucchini strips and sundried tomatoes. Mix together well – the hot water will wilt the zucchini strips a little so they won’t be so difficult to toss with the sauce.

4. Drizzle on a quantity of tahini sauce, toss everything together well, add salt and pepper to taste if necessary. Serve up and enjoy.

Note: I made a much smaller quantity of Tahini Sauce - about 1 tablespoon's worth of tahini, and just eyeballed the snipped rosemary. It was just enough for about one to two servings, depending on how sauce-drenched you enjoy your noodles.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sunshine for the Blahs

When life gets mentally and physically exhausting, sometimes all one wants is a good dose of something to take away the blahs. For me today, it was a bowl of liquid sunshine in the form of this delicious, raw carrot soup inspired by Emily of Emily Eats. It's a gorgeous colour, and even without the ginger and coconut flesh that the original recipe called for, the taste was fresh and clean and divine.

Just what was needed to kick the blahs to the curb today.

What’s-At-Hand Raw Carrot Soup for the Blahs
Inspired by Emily's carrot soup

1 large carrot, cut into rough chunks
1 ripe avocado
2 tbls or more lemon juice (or lime juice, in the original recipe)
1 good knob ginger (I didn’t have this)
Grated nutmeg and allspice or salt to taste (optional)
1-2 cups water or more (I eyeballed it, depends on how thick you want the soup)

Put carrot into blender. Cut avocado, scoop out flesh, and put into blender as well. Add the ginger, if you’ve got it – I didn’t, and I think it would have added some zing if I did have it on hand. Add 1/2 a cup to 1 cup water, enough to get everything blended together nicely. If it’s too thick, add some more water. Add in the lemon juice to taste – I like my soup a bit more tart as I think it brings the flavours of the carrot and avocado out more, but you may like less. Add the nutmeg and allspice if you want, or not at all – I happen to love the warm taste of allspice, but I know people who don’t like it either. Blend soup together again, adding more water if it’s still too thick for you. If you want to add salt, up to you, but I didn’t.

Serve up immediately, but I think it would be lovely chilled as well. I had mine with a big scoop of quinoa, and it was really good.

I had this chilled after coming home from work. It is divine. And it doesn't separate either!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sumer Is Icumen In (But Then It's Always Summer Here)

With the onset of Crazy Life, my brother's wedding, and being sick for a month, very little in the way of cookery has actually happened in the past couple months. The last was Chinese New Year with the huge batch of gluten-free bread, and the annual 36-Hour Chocolate Chip Cookies, and since then it's been go go go and mad rush.

Today however, I decided it was time to just get some home-cooked food on the table. Not least because it's comfort food and I've missed it, and it tends to make me feel better.

So here it is: my tribute to perpetual summer and artichokes. I'm crazy about artichokes. Even if they're canned since it's impossible to get the fresh ones here. Whatever works, I say, but if you don't like artichokes you can always substitute them with other vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, corn or even cauliflower. It'd work just fine I bet. The important thing is to make sure there's some measure of water covering everything so it won't scorch, and you're set.

Yin’s Slow Cooker Pesto Artichoke Chicken

1 medium jar pesto (mine was 190g of rocket pesto but any kind of pesto ought to do)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can artichoke hearts in brine or water
Half a small cabbage, red or white, shredded (I had red so I used red)
Frozen green peas, as much or as little as you want
Half a can corned beef (optional – I had it so I added it)

1. Lay chicken breasts down in crock pot. Add the shredded cabbage. Add the entire jar of pesto, then fill the pesto jar with water to get all the remains of the pesto out, and pour it onto the chicken and cabbage. Do this two or three more times, stir the pesto a little bit to get it all diluted.

2. Drain the artichoke hearts, but reserve about half to a quarter of the can of brine. Add artichokes and remaining brine on top of the chicken-cabbage-pesto mix.

3. Turn slow cooker to high and let it sit for 2.5-3 hours.

4. When slow cooker is done, turn it off. Shred the chicken breasts in the crock and mix it up well with the gravy and the artichoke hearts. Add the peas, cover the slow cooker and let it sit for 5 minutes. If you have the corned beef, add it at this point and stir it all up.

5. Dish up and serve hot with rice or pasta.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Summer in a Bowl, or, Panzanella Gluten Free!

Hullo January, you've come and gone, and I am waaaaaay behind in blogging. Because Life is Happening, and while I've been eating pretty decently and taking photos, I just haven't had the time to write a proper post and put it up.

I will eventually, promise.

For now though, have some summer in a bowl:

This, believe it or not, is gluten-free panzanella - an Italian tomato salad made with basil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and leftover bread. I never really thought it sounded tasty, and then I made it with some leftover gluten-free bread I'd baked up over the Christmas holidays (post about the bread coming soon. It is -amazing-, hands down the best gluten-free bread I've ever made or tasted, and it's all thanks to Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl.)

This is the recipe I followed. I didn't quite have that much bread, I just used whatever I had, but oh, it is out of this world AMAZING. The flavours! And the short 10-12 minutes spent crisping up the croutons gives the bread just that touch more durability, because gluten-free bread can fall apart real easily if it's soaking in tomato juice. Done this way, it doesn't. It becomes absolutely perfect.

Try some! If I had more bread I'd be making this every day in a heartbeat, but since I don't, I may just make a plain tomato-basil salad anyways because it is delicious and healthy, and so tasty.

Of course, you need -good- cherry tomatoes or the whole thing falls flat, and fresh basil. Dried basil just won't do, not for this.

Now I know why people rave about panzanella. It's the very essence of summer, sunshine and the magic that only the best, simplest, freshest food can bring.

I am so making this again, when I have bread.