Category Archives: Recipes

Not Just For Breakfast (a.k.a. Passionfruit Mimosas)

If you haven’t seen a passionfruit before, they are dark purple and about the size/shape of an extra-large grade AA egg minus the tapered end. If you haven’t tasted them, they are tart, with a distinctive flavor like nothing else. They are akin to cilantro in that people generally feel strongly towards them, one way or the other. The wrinklier they get, the sweeter they are.

Before

Before

For a long time, I didn’t understand where they got their name. One hot summer in Taipei (as if there is another kind), I was cutting into one in the kitchen. The air conditioner was off and it was like being in a sweat lodge. As I pierced the skin, a jet of golden yellow fruit with its greenish-grey seeds shot out, like a liquid leopard pouncing onto the plate. I was probably fifteen and never-been kissed, but I blushed just the same. And that’s why I think they are called passionfruits.
After

After

But I digress. Passionfruits make for a great mimosa. To make one (or two), you’ll need:
  • one passionfruit
  • superfine sugar
  • prosecco or champagne
  • mango nectar (optional)
As above, let the passionfruit get wrinkly, empty the contents into a champagne glass or two (the fruit/juice:prosecco ratio in a mimosa is a personal choice). Add superfine sugar to taste (or skip the sugar and use a ~tablespoon of mango nectar instead, especially if you find the taste of passionfruit too pungent/tart). Top off with prosecco or champs. Cheers!
Every day should be a mimosa day!

Every day should be a mimosa day!

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Roasted Beet Salad with Avocado and Honey Yogurt

In an effort to be healthier and eat more fruits and vegetables, I recently joined a CSA-box delivery program and started bringing my lunch to work. This recipe is making me looking forward to my lunch today: I had a salad at Cucina Enoteca recently that was so delicious yet simple that I jotted down the ingredients and attempted to re-create it at home.

The restaurant version has “lemony-roasted beets,” microbasil and pistachios. My version has “what I had on hand that was similar.” Since I cook with the Eyeball, Pinch and Taste method, all measurements are approximate.

No, this not all I am eating for lunch. Just the most photogenic part.

No, this is not all I am eating for lunch. This is just the healthiest most photogenic part.

Ingredients:

Makes one serving in no time at all.

1 medium-sized beet or 3-4 baby ones, roasted (you can roast them yourself or use Trader Joe’s roasted baby beets to save time)

microkale mix ( I love microgreens but frankly, they all taste pretty much the same to me)

2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt

drizzle of honey

half of a small avocado

coarsely chopped Marcona almonds

balsamic vinegar

Cut beet(s) and avocado in cubes and plate. Sprinkle microgreens around the cubes. Stir a drizzle of honey into the yogurt and add dollops in an arty fashion. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Drizzle with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy. Instead of yogurt, I would imagine that dollops of soft goat cheese would be quite tasty too.

Doctor’s note: Do not be alarmed if 4-6 hours later you are convinced that you are peeing blood. If you have back pain, fever or burning when you urinate, go to a clinic. If not, it’s called beeturia and is directionally proportional to the number of beets you’ve consumed and completely harmless. If this still frightens you, substitute golden beets instead. You’re welcome! :)

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Easy Lemon Parmesan Pasta

My BFF gave me this recipe several years ago after he made it for the first course of a birthday dinner he threw for me. It is great for nights when there is nothing left in the fridge or when you crave comfort food: it’s like mac and cheese with a citrus zing. Trust me, it sounds weird but it’s delicious.

This was my lunch today.

This was my lunch today.

Ingredients:

  • pasta (I prefer bucatini but linguine also works)
  • a splash of olive oil
  • lemon juice (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • shredded Parmesan cheese (to taste, there is a theme here)

Boil the pasta according to the time listed on the box for al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a small bit of the cooking water (1-2 teaspoons depending on how much pasta you have). Put pasta and water in a (non-metal) mixing bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients and toss. Taste and add more of any of the last three ingredients as needed. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan on top and serve. It really is that easy.

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Kumquat Bars

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Kumquats are a big deal around Chinese New Year.  The word “kumquat” is derived from the Cantonese gam gwat which means “gold orange.” Besides gold being a symbol of prosperity, the word gwat sounds very similar to the word for “good luck.” If there’s anything Chinese people like more than a good bargain, it’s symbolism, homonyms and superstition. For example, it is advised to get a haircut and/or wash your hair prior to the new year and definitely skip doing either on New Year’s Day (some strict adherents won’t even wash on NYE).  The word for “hair”, fa (in Mandarin) sounds like the word for “prosper” and the last thing you want to do is wash/cut away your prosperity at the beginning of a new year. Don’t tempt ancient Chinese wisdom!

Recently, a neighbor offered me the crop from her kumquat tree; because I don’t like eating citrus fruits (I think it’s the texture because I like fresh-squeezed juice and candied peels. Go figure.) I decided to experiment with other ways to use them. If you have not tasted a kumquat before, the peel is the sweetest part–the flesh will make you pucker. Which made me think of lemon bars…

Makes an 8×8 pan. Number of servings depends on how big you cut the squares.

Shortbread crust:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup flour

pinch of salt

Kumquat curd:

~ 24 kumquats  (I used 23 because it’s my favorite number. And I’m superstitious.)

1 cup of sugar

juice of one lemon

1 egg plus an additional yolk

1/2 tablespoon orange liqueur (I prefer Cointreau but Grand Marnier or triple sec work too)

1/2 cup flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

powdered sugar, for dusting

  • To make the crust:
    • Preheat oven to 350 F.
    • Cream butter, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.
    • Using an electric mixer, add in flour, 1/2 cup at a time.
    • The mixture will be slightly crumbly. Pour into an 8×8 glass baking pan lined with parchment paper.
    • Press into an even layer of dough. Prick with a fork.
    • Bake for about 20 minutes. Better to err on the side of underbaking rather than overbaking since it’s going back in the oven.
    • Set aside to cool. You can even make it the night before.
  • To make the curd:
    •  Using a paring knife, cut each kumquat in half and pick out the seeds using the tip of the knife. This is the most time-consuming part.
    • Puree the kumquats in a blender.
    • In a mixing bowl, combine the kumquat puree, liqueur, sugar and lemon juice. This is a good time to do a quick taste test. I like my kumquat bars tart but you can adjust the sugar and the lemon juice a little bit here to suit your tastes.
    • Add the egg+yolk, flour and baking powder and mix well.
    • Pour over the baked crust.
    • Bake at 350 for 20 mins. If the center is still runny, continue baking, checking every 10 minutes (the tiniest bit of wiggly in the very center is okay). Should not take more than 40 minutes at most; if it is still runny at that point, I apologize, but something has gone awry.
    • Let cool completely.  Trim off the edges and then cut into neat squares. Using a fine mesh sieve, dust the tops with powdered sugar.
    • Enjoy!

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Happy New Year’s Eve. Now go wash your hair before midnight!

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No Artificial Colors or Flavors

Afternoon snack.

Pre-run snack.

Roasted cauliflower and yams or sweet potatoes (I get them confused, like alligators and crocodiles). They are one of my favorite snacks. They also make a tasty side dish and are really easy to make. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 9×11 baking dish with parchment paper. Place the florets, cubed yams (orange, purple or white sweet potatoes) in a single layer on the pan. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss contents of pan around to coat. Bake for 20 minutes then stir the veggies around so different parts will get a nice browning. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.  Season with salt to taste. I usually like to add brussel sprouts too (cut them in half), I just didn’t have any on hand today!

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Fiesta Fish en papillote

One of my goals for 2015 was to cook at least twice a week. I’m always on the lookout and/or trying to come up with recipes that I would still be willing to make after a long workday. Other than being tasty, this recipe is fast, easy, and easy to clean-up afterwards because it’s cooked en papillote (Literally means: in paper. I could’ve said that but it doesn’t have the same ring to it).

Fiesta Fish en papillote     Makes dinner for one.

Total time from start to first bite: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

6-8 oz filet of Pacific Cod or tilapia

~3/4 cup frozen corn, defrosted (I like to use Trader Joe’s fire-roasted corn)

~3/4 cup canned black beans

a handful of mini heirloom or cherry tomatoes

1/2 of an avocado

sprigs of cilantro

a pinch each of cumin, red chile pepper and salt

~1 tsp olive oil

lime wedges

parchment paper (I love parchment paper. It is an underrated kitchen essential.)

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place a large piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  • Place the filet in the middle of the paper.
  • Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with salt, cumin and red chile pepper.
  • Place the black beans and corn on and around the filet.
  • Bring the two ends of the paper together lengthwise and roll/scrunch to seal. Do the same with the two shorter ends.
  • Bake for ~12-14 minutes, until the fish is white and flaky. (The thicker the filet, the longer it will need. There’s a reason cod and tilapia aren’t on sushi menus. You can check at 12 minutes and then reseal and pop it back in the oven if the fish doesn’t flake easily with a fork.)
  • While the fish is cooking, cut the avocado into cubes and cut the mini tomatoes in half. If you don’t feel like practicing your knife skills, you could use store-bought pico de gallo and/or guacamole.
  • Remove from oven and transfer packet onto a plate, open the packet (beware of hot steam) and sprinkle the avocado, tomatoes and cilantro sprigs on top.
  • Season with salt to taste (for serving, I like to use a flaky salt like Maldon sea salt) and serve with lime wedges.
  • I eat it as is, straight out of the packet. You can also heat some corn tortillas and voila–fish tacos.
  • Enjoy!
It's a party on a plate!  I swear there's a piece of fish buried under there.

It’s a party on a plate!
I swear there’s a piece of fish buried under there.

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