Oven-baked root vegetable crisps (chips)

Oven-baked root vegetable crispsSince I came to the UK, I have all too often indulged in Tyrell’s veg crisps, made with beetroot, parsnips, and carrot. They are delicious – but they’re also very greasy, salty, and made with sunflower oil, which isn’t a very healthy oil. After some trial and error, I have come up with an alternative that’s even more delicious. My oven-baked root vegetable crisps are crunchy, satisfying, and because they’re a lot less greasy and salty, the real taste of the root vegetable shines through. And lest you think this means they’re yucky, let me tell you: my junk food-loving small children adore these. Continue reading

Yu sheng (Yee sang) – Singaporean New Year salad

Yu sheng - Singapoean New Year saladMy husband and I now have a new favourite salad to which all other salads will henceforth be compared – and inevitably, they will fail to measure up, because yu sheng has got to be the king of all salads. It’s the perfect marriage of fresh, crunchy, tart and sweet, and it features smoked salmon, which is one of my favourite things in the world. And yet I’d never even heard of it until a few days ago, when I started researching lunar New Year dishes of Singapore and Malaysia. Continue reading

Bibimbap – Gluten-free, low-FODMAP version

BibimbapBibimbap is one of those beautiful dishes to which you can add almost anything, substitute almost anything, and still end up with something delicious. Basically, you need a bowl of hot rice, some toppings, and a spicy sauce. You mix it all up at the table and you have a bellyful of Korean comfort food. Depending somewhat on the toppings you use, it’s a relatively healthy dish, and because it’s improvisational by nature, you don’t really have to measure anything. It’s a good way to use up leftovers too. And did I mention it tastes great? It’s a real family favourite around here.

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Matzo ball soup (Gluten-free)

Matzo ball soupIt’s Passover, so I thought the time was right to make matzo ball soup. Not that I’m Jewish. I’m about as shiksa as they come. Especially when I was in university, however, I had a lot of Jewish friends. I even dated a couple of nice Jewish boys, much to the chagrin of at least one of the mothers. I attended a number of Passover seders and enjoyed them. The best part, however, I always considered to be matzo (matzah) ball soup. Continue reading

An Ethiopian feast (doro wat, misir wat, gomen wat, and injera)

Berbere spices before mixingI used to love Ethiopian food. At one time it was one of my go-to cuisines when I ate out, which I used to do much more regularly. Sadly, until last weekend, it had been a long time since I’d had it. To my knowledge there’s no Ethiopian restaurant in the English city I’m currently living in and even where I used to live in Canada, none of the Ethiopian restaurants made their injera with 100 percent tef – they all used a mix of tef and wheat, meaning I haven’t been able to eat it for the last few years. I tried making injera once but it didn’t turn out well so I was scared to do it again. Also, my kids won’t eat more than very mildly spicy food, so I didn’t think I would be able to make food that tasted reasonably Ethiopian without having to make them a separate meal.

Finally, though, the craving got to me. I had to make Ethiopian food. Thanks to some shortcuts, it was easier and quicker than I expected (though still not a speedy meal considering the doro wat is a slow-simmered stew). Continue reading

Moqueca de peixe: Brazilian fish stew

Bowl of fish stew with peppers

When I decided to designate this week Brazil week, I didn’t know I would end up making something surprisingly akin to Thai curry, only without the burn-your-tongue spiciness or the fish sauce. When I tasted my moqueca de peixe (fish stew), however, it made me realize how much of our world cuisine is interconnected, whether directly, the way Japanese curry probably evolved from curries originating further west in Asia, or indirectly, the way similar ingredients (fish, coconut milk, vegetables) produced similar results in different parts of the world such as Brazil and Thailand.

I should say that real Brazilian moqueca may be a bit different, primarily because I didn’t use any dende (red palm oil). Nor did I search it out, as it’s high in saturated fat, my cupboard space is limited, and I don’t foresee many other uses for it. I used olive oil instead. There is actually another type of Brazilian moqueca, moqueca capixaba, from the state of Espirito Santo, that uses olive oil instead of dende. That dish, however, doesn’t use coconut milk, so mine is a bit of a hybrid. That’s OK with me. My life and family are about hybridization, and as any gardener knows, hybrids are often the hardiest.

As I was researching moqueca de peixe, I found a huge range of recipes online, some very similar and some a bit different. I ended up not following any particular recipe but using what I thought would be tasty, based on the most common themes in moqueca recipes. Here’s my version. It’s easy, quick and gets even better after having sat for a day. Continue reading

Chirashi sushi

Chirashi sushiHinamatsuri, or Girls’ Festival, is in Japan something of a spring festival as well as a celebration of girls. Though I know my friends in Canada are still shivering and shovelling, spring is starting to show its face here in England. I saw my first open daffodil today as well as a bunch of little white blossoms, so I’ve been getting into the mood for some springy food.

Chirashi sushi (translates as “scattered sushi;” it’s pronounced chirashi zushi in Japanese) is basically just a layer of vinegared rice with toppings. The toppings generally include sashimi, though it’s certainly possible to make an all-cooked version. Chirashi sushi is one of the traditional foods of Hinamatsuri. These are others too, but clam soup is out in my family because my husband is allergic to shellfish, and I didn’t think it was realistic to obtain the ingredients for sakura mochi (pounded rice cakes coloured pink and wrapped in pickled cherry leaves). Chirashi sushi, however, I could do, and easily.

Chirashi sushi is, in my mind, one of the world’s most perfect dishes. It’s super easy, healthy and incredibly delicious. It’s impressive enough to be used for entertaining or just to make a family dinner feel like a special occasion. The possibilities are endless in terms of exactly what ingredients you use and how. It’s virtually impossible to screw up. Continue reading