Winter has finally arrived in the Midwest of the United State … and it looks like it is here to stay after all the crazyness of this year. We had snow in September and in October … and had 80 degree weather inbetween. I am definitely ready!
December brings forth Winter Wonderland and the Holidays. When I think of Christmas dishes, warming and festive winter foods come to my mind. For me Christmas is a lot about cooking and baking … and of course music. I’m already looking forward to all the baking and cooking I will be doing and singing along my favorite Christmas music…
Please read my previous blogs from last year on winter eating and tasty dishes and desserts.
This is a recipe that I borrowed from my daughter. She has been making it for herself so she doesn’t have to eat my pancakes. Then I realized it is actually good. The pancakes are very simple but nutritious and delicious. Basic ingredients are oatmeal, eggs, bananas … oatmeal, eggs, bananas … oatmeal, eggs, bananas … that is it and just add a few things to make it taste better. Of course, this is a very kid friendly recipe.
Dairy free and gluten free with the substitution of gluten-free oats.
Serving: generous portion for 1 adult
1/2 cup of old fashioned oatmeal, coarsely ground (use gluten-free for gluten free version)
1 1/2 crushed ripe banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon, I used apple spice (optional)
pinch of salt
lemon zest (optional)
oil for baking
1/4 tsp baking soda
syrup of your choice
Lightly beat eggs in a medium sized bowl.
Mash the banana and add to the bowl.
Add 1/2 cup of oatmeal to a blender and blend until you get a coarse flour consistency. Add to the bowl.
Add baking soda, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt. Mix.
Just like any other grains, I like to let the mixture soak for a few hours but it can be baked right away.
Bake in a preheated oiled pan on medium low heat on both sides for 3-4 minutes. Flip over and bake for a few minutes. Both sides should be nice and golden brown in color.
You can add fruits on top of the pancakes while baking in the pan.
In the United States and Europe, rhubarb is known as the pie plant and in fact we tend to use it in sweet dishes; however, in Asia, it is more used in savory dishes. Today, I’m presenting a savory dish that was inspired by a blog. The rhubarb gives the sour taste that is balanced out nicely with the sweet and hot Chinese sauce and the bitter bamboo shoots. I chose broccoli as the main vegetable for the dish. If you prefer a vegetarian alternative, please check out my previous recipe that is a similaly made with tofu.
Rhubarb is everywhere here in the Midwest right now. It is almost ready in my garden but it has been available for a few weeks at the farmers’ market for sure. It is actually a healthy plant. Rhubarb has favorable health effects in the spring and the summer as it is cooling and detoxifying to the liver. The stems are good source of antioxidants, vitamin K and fiber. The Chinese also use the roots for its medicinal properties. In fact, it is so important for the Chinese that they consider it to be one of the ten most important herbs for healing.
So what’s up with the ketchup? Is it Chinese? … I think of American cooking when I hear the word ketchup but in fact it originated from China. It is basically a sweet and tangy sauce made with tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and spices. It actually means fish sauce as they traditionally addded fermented fish sauce. For this recipe we just need the basic ketchup, so go ahead and just use store-bought ketchup – unless of course you want to make it yourself.
This is a very tasty dish! I really wanted to make a dinner with rhubarb and I found this recipe. I made a few changes to suit my taste. I cut the pork into long strips instead of squares. I replaced the green peppers with broccoli. Also, I wanted to bring in more of the bitter flavor so I added bamboo shoots to offset the sourness of the rhubarb. And for garnishing, I also added peanuts to get a bit of crunchyness. I think this is a fabulous recipe with an interesting twist to the usual sweet and sour pork dish that is served in restaurants with pineapples.
300g pork fillet, cut into thin long stipes or 1 inch cubes
About 3 medium stems of rhubarb (200g) cut into 1 inch batons – please use a scale
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 large onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin slivers
2 heads of broccoli
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped (1 Tbsp)
sesame oils, for frying
1 small can of bamboo shoots
2 cups of raw rice (or rice noodles)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp of corn starch
2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup of water
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 mild red chilli pepper (optional), finely chopped
handfull of chopped peanuts
Prepare rice according to its instructions. I used rice noodle last time.
Cut the pork pieces into longer (2 inches) thin (half inch) stripes. You can do squares too but the Chinese do long stripes traditionally.
Whisk together the marinade ingredients, add the pork, cover well and set aside for at least a half an hour or up to a couple of hours.
In another bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Cover and put aside.
Heat oil in a large frying pan and add the rhubarb batons in a single layer. Cook for about a minute and a half and keeping them moving. Add a heaped tablespoon of soft light brown sugar, toss and cook for about minute more. You want them to have tenderised but still to have some bite. If they start breaking up, you’ve gone too far. Whip them off the heat immediately. Scoop into a bowl and set aside.
Take the pork out of the refrigerator, pour off the marinade and dry with a towel.
Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil, I used sesame oil in a wok and stir-fry the pork on a medium-high heat for three or four minutes, until golden brown. Remove and keep to one side.
Make sure you’ve prepped all the vegetables before you start cooking the main event, because they will cook fast.
Saute the sliced onion until translucent. Add the ginger and the broccoli and continue sauteing for about 5 minutes or until it is crunchy on medium high heat. Give the sauce (from above) a quick whisk, then pour it into the pan. Add the rhubarb and the bamboo shoots and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for three or four minutes until thick. Add the pork and toss and coat well until the pork is warm.
Add soy sauce and chilli pepper if needed.
Serve over rice, garnished with the sliced spring onion , cilantro, nuts.
Flódni is a unique traditional Jewish Hungarian dessert. The original recipe uses apples, poppy seed, walnuts, plum jam and all these ingredients are baked into a flour pastry. This recipe uses the three main ingredients: apples, poppy seeds and walnuts plus the plums but has no crust. It is a gluten free recipe, in fact it is a very clever gluten free twist to the original recipe as the carbohydrates come from the poppy seeds. Its sour, bitter and sweet flavors come together to give a distinct culinary experience.
Traditionally, it is made at the end of the year for Christmas and Hannukah but can be eaten any time during the year. It is filled with symbolic meanings for the end of the year. Each layer is rich and decadent and according to folk traditions can supposedly bring prosperity, health and protection for the entire family.
I was inspired by the recipe that came from a website – credited at the end. I have been making this delicious alternative at Christmas time for years. I made some changes to the original recipe. I moved some sugar from the nut filling into the poppyseed filling. I also added plums and some alcohol to the poppy seed filling as the original version calls for it and I believe they worked nicely here too. Oh and honestly adding a little ginger to the walnuts can do wonders.
200g (about 1 cup) poppyseeds
1 Tbsp melted butter (coconut oil for dairy free version)
3 eggs divided
1/4 cup of sugar
1/8 cup of thick plum jam or plum pieces
handful of raisins
peel and juice of 1 orange or lemon or both
2 Tbsp of rum (optional)
1 kg (about 7 medium) tasty cooking apples
1 Tbsp fresh ground ginger or 1.5 tsp dried ginger, cut and sifted
2 Tbsp of sugar or honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 ground cloves
150 grams (5oz) of ground walnuts
4 egg whites
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp dried cut and sifted ginger
Making the apples. Wash, peel and core the apples. Grade them through the large holes of a cheese grader. Add 2 Tbsp of rum, ginger, ground cinnamon and cloves, pinch of salt and 2 Tbsp of sugar/honey. Put the mixture in a medium sized pot and cook it on high medium heat until the liquid evaporates.
Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C).
Making the poppy seed layer. Grind poppy seeds. (Coffee grinder works well). Mix with the melted butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, 3 egg yolks, plums, the raisins, rum, orange/lemon peel, pinch of salt and the juice of the orange or lemon. Beat the 3 egg whites until stiff. Gently fold it into the poppy seed mixture.
Spread the poppyseed mixture onto a lightly buttered baking pan (8×11.5×2″). Gently spread the apple mixture on top of the poppy seed mixture and place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 40 minutes.
Walnut/egg white toping: Have the ground walnuts ready. By the end of the 40 minutes, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the walnuts and the 1/4 cup of sugar. Spread this mixture on top of the apples and put the dish back into the oven at 250F (120C) for another 30-40 minutes.
Let it cool and settle. Serve at room temperature.
Enjoy this delicious and easy vegetarian eggplant dish. The eggplants are browned and cooked briskly with some tomatoes, pungent spices, onions and garbanzo beans and then served with rice/couscous and yoghurt sauce. It is not exactly the perfect fall dish but I still had some eggplants and the weather is still more summery this week. I also added sweet mama squash that complemented the dish nicely and made it more suitable for this ‘going from the summer into the fall’ time period. With the warming spices and the baked squash, it will be a great meal for the entire week. Not only that it suits the weather but it is delicious … honestly my family can’t get enough of it. I might have to go back to the farmers’ market tomorrow to get more eggplants.
Garbanzo beans. Soak overnight and cook them for 3 hours. You can use a pressure cooker. They need to be cooked slowly for a long time until they are nice and soft. They can take up liquid after they are cooked so add more water if needed. Add 1 tsp salt when done.
Preparing the eggplants. Wash and cut eggplants into cubes. Salt them and put them into a colander for 30 minutes to let the liquid drain. Pat dry.
Frying the eggplants. In a wide skillet, on medium low heat, slowly brown the eggplants in some olive oil for about 20- 30 minutes or until soft. They will not cook any more so make sure they are soft and well cooked before you add it to the sauce. Stir frequently. Make sure they don’t burn. Set aside.
Caramelize the onions. Brown the sliced onions in a separate dish in oil with care, it takes about 30 minutes. Stir frequently. Set aside.
Making the sauce. Crumple the saffron between your thumb and index finger and add hot liquid, stir well (optional). Otherwise you can just put whole saffron strains in the dish. Set aside. On medium high heat warm up 1 Tbsp oil and add the ginger for 5 minutes. Then add the paprika, cumin, garlic and stir for 1 minute to activate the spices. Add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir well. You can add a little water here too. Cook the tomatoes for about 5 minutes until they have become ‘saucy’. Add the saffron, cinnamon stick, freshly graded nutmeg and hot pepper. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat. Cook for 10 minutes on low medium heat. Add a little water if needed. Add the browned onions, eggplants and garbanzo beans from eariler. Cook for 5 more minutes covered. Let the dish sit for 15 minutes so the flavors can come together. Take out the cinnamon stick and the hot pepper pieces. Add salt and pepper or anything else that needs to be adjusted.
Serve with cilantro, rice or couscous and yoghurt sauce. I also added some baked sweet mama squash slivers and they nicely complemented each other.