Thursday, June 14, 2012

Asian Vegetables Basket: Recipes and Tips for Watercress

I finally got my vegetables basket today! It was surprisingly light, but I'm so happy to see these vegetables. I can't wait to eat all of them up. I will probably use up the bean sprouts first, they can go bad quickly. Love the watercress! I use them mostly in soup. Here are some recipes, have fun trying and eating!

This is very simple and easy to make. Use either chicken or pork, with bones. Bones give you really good flavor. Or you can use store bought chicken stock. You only need then watercress, wolfberries (you can get them from Whole Food or an Asian grocery store), and dried red or honey dates. Cut a slit in the dates so the flavor will come out more, you can get rid of the pits if you want, but it will come out by itself after the soup is done cooking. Make sure you be careful and don't eat the pits. If you don't have any dates or wolfberries, it will be fine too, it just won't have the same kind of sweetness. 

And since I'm nice and always considerate the one who got you into the trouble to begin with by suggesting watercress on Noisy Rabbit FB page, I will give you some watercress salad recipes as well, even though they are not Chinese food. (Please don't beat me up if you don't like watercress.)
This particular one looks amazing, plus you can use the orange and basil in the basket this week to make it. I'm a genius, yes you can say that. It is what I always told my husband to say anyway when I came up with some awesome ways to incorporate all the vegetables or if I made some amazing food (that most of time I don't know how it happened and can't seem to be able to re-enact it). I said it plenty of times to myself too, when I'm in the kitchen. Hey, if you spend most of your time in the kitchen, you might as well make yourself feel better. You cook better food that way, trust me. 

Or if you still have those red babies (beets) laying around from your last week's basket like me, make this beets and watercress salad. Yes, I'm a genius, you can say that again.
Which reminds me, I have some frozen chicken feet I can use in this soup! (Yes, chicken feet, not chicken legs. They are not ordinary chicken feet neither. They are organic, free ranged chicken feet. My friend raise organic, free range chicken and eggs. If you are interested you can check Omega Farms out. 
You can also stop saying ewww now. Thank you. 

Asian Vegetables Basket: Recipes and Tips for Ginger

If you are a Chinese, you will have ginger in your kitchen. Ginger is my kitchen staple, I cannot survive without it. If I ran out of ginger, I panic, what will I do without my ginger? Honey, I guess I am not cooking tonight, I am out of ginger. I also feel defeated if I let myself ran out of ginger, my mother probably will think I humiliate her by being a Chinese who don't have ginger in her kitchen. I always toss few slices of it in my stir fry, I use it to make ginger tea (a cup of hot ginger tea chases any winter blue or cold away), I use it in soup, and I grate it to marinate my meat or make homemade teriyaki sauce.
But, first, some easy stir fry recipes that use ginger.

Tips: Scallions is just another name for green onions.

This is a very easy stir fry, and it is my favorite. When I am homesick, I make this. You don't need any chinese cooking wine if you don't have any on hand, just use any white wine, it will work. You can also use corn starch instead of corn flour, I never know the difference.

Or, if you prefer beef like my husband, here are some beef recipes and for American taste buds.

You can omit the maggi seasoning. If you have some meat marinated in the freezer as I mentioned in the quick tips in this post , you can use them for these recipes. 

Ginger is very good for soothing an upset stomach. It also helps greatly soothing menstrual pain. I have very fond memories of my mother (not my monthly Aunt Flow, of course) making ginger tea, soup (with rice noodle for a mid night chow, I always get more hungry when I have my menstrual), and also fried eggs with sesame oil and chopped ginger. I love how ginger warm my abdomen up and soothe the  cramp. 
So here are some soup recipes.

I love mine with lots and lots of ginger. You can use store bought chicken broth. I also like to add Cilantro in mine. May I suggest you use the boy choy or napa cabbage you get in your basket this week? If you like it to be more filling, throw in some cooked rice or noodles. 

If you are sick of Chinese Food, here is a your normal soup recipe using ginger.

Ginger is also good in pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato soup. I made them a lot for my children for baby food when they were babies to help boast those immune system. 

OK, back to some Chinese food (I'm sorry, I am only but a Chinese!)

If you have a cold or are congested, you gotta try ginger tea. Really, it works wonder, it clears up my sinuses in a minute (although it is not a one time deal, you will be cleared for a while, then it will come back, but keep drinking it). You will get better faster from your cold. No store bought ginger tea can do the same, use the real thing. You can sweeten it up with honey, use less ginger to start with, and put green tea and lemon in it. If my two year old girls can drink it without complaining it's too spicy, you can too. 

Or if you prefer cold. (But remember, cold ginger tea does not clear up your congestion as a cup of hot ginger tea.)

Head over to this website if you like Teriyaki sauce for the recipe and some tips.
I usually use less soy sauce, less sugar, and I use Japanse rice wine instead of cider vinegar. Start out making small portion, tweak the recipe until you like it, then make a big jar and store it in your fridge. It's great for chicken, beef, tofu, or vegetable kebabs. I grill a lot of food using Teriyaki marinade. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Asian Vegetables Basket: Recipes and Tips For Coconuts

I miss having fresh coconuts and seeing coconut trees. We have them abundantly in my country. When I was a kid, my mother would make me go to a little grocery store up the street, one of those that is not kept that clean and tidy, but boy, they have everything under the sun you could think of. Most of the groceries are dry good, and things you don't have to keep in refrigerator. Coconut is one of them. You pick out the one you like, hand it to the owner or the worker, they hack it open with a long knife, and grind up the coconut meat for you. You bring it home and make it into coconut milk. If not, my mother would always open the coconuts, it's never a chore I had to do. And what do you know, now that I'm in States, I'm staring at those brown coconuts, so wanting to make fresh coconut milk, but the thought of opening it makes me nervous. Not to say, I don't have my awesome Chinese butcher knife to hack it open. (OK, the truth is, I do not have my mother here to do it.) But, thank God for Youtube.
Here is one video showing you how to open one and how to make coconut milk out from the meat. I just love this tiny Asian lady.

If the coconut water(the clear liquid you get when you open the coconut, or if you drain it first out from its eye) is not sour, you can use it to make rice. I don't remember drinking much old coconut water, we always drink mostly young coconut water (when the coconuts are still green).
The milk you get from straining the ground coconut meat, you can use it in cooking or making dessert.
Here are some curries recipes.

Tips: Use any kind of meat or vegetables you like. Bean sprout can go in there too. Eat it with the rice you cook with the clear coconut water. You can also serve this with Naan bread or Indian Prata bread, which you can get them frozen from the Indian grocecry store. If you have leftovers and are sick of eating it, make it into soup, put in chicken broth to make it thinner, and throw in any kind of rice noodles you like, or you can even use spaghetti if that is what you have on hand (but precook the spaghetti first in a put of water, if not it will soak up all the soup).

This link has some tips of how to cook tapioca:

If you don't like Asian dessert, you can always use you coconut milk to make coconut ice-cream or coconut sorbet.

If you don't want to make your coconut into coconut milk, you can always toast them. I think they will be excellent to be made into granola. 
According to this website, If you’re not going to use all the coconut, place it (either in chunks or grated) in a plastic bag and refrigerate up to 2 days. To keep fresh longer, wrap the prepared coconut in plastic and then in aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 2 months. The average coconut when grated yields about 5 cups.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Asian Vegetables Basket: Recipes and Tips For Basil

We are getting Asian theme vegetables basket from my local vegetables co-op this week. So here I am, writing, abandoning my half-worked garden because of my dear friend Melissa's order (I'm sorry, I have to give you a hard time :p). OK, the truth is, I have been working in the garden my much neglected and abandoned front yard mess for the pass two days, my arms and back are sore and I need a break. Thinking about food and gathering recipes is a good therapy. In fact, I do it so much (reading through blogs and blogs of Asian food blogs) my husband think us Asians are crazy(too obsess with our food) , he doesn't think Americans or Westernes, as us Asians will call them, write any food blog. Um, someone please tell him I am always right he is wrong and there is plenty of non-Asian food blogs.

OK, now you have do your duty I'll give you some recipes links. I have to start of with the Thai Basil. Basil is my favorite herb! You can do stir fry or eat them raw in a Vietname spring roll, or make basil pesto!
Here are some stir fry recipes links.

You can use any kind of meat, or no meat at all. Try tofu, or even eggplants. This is also a good way to use up your vegetables. You can also toss in the bean sprouts, peppers, snap peas, green onions, whatever that tickle your fancy. The main ingredients are garlic, onions, fish sauce and basil. If you have these, you are all good. The fish sauce sounds (and smells fishy), but it doesn't really taste fishy. But if you really  don't like the fish sauce it will be fine to be left out also, make sure you season it well with soy sauce. If you don't like your food to be salty, always start off with less than what the recipes suggest for how much soy sauce you need, you can always add more salt or soy sauce later. You can also omit the chili if you cannot take any heat, or if you are cooking for your munchkins, unless your little younglings are some fire-ball spitting or eating creatures, then it is up to you. We always spice ours up after I dish out my kids' portion with some good pepper oil we got from Whole Food. Eat it with jasmine rice.

Quick tips:
Whenever I come by a good meat sale, I buy for what is enough for few meals. Slice all of them up, marinate them in soy sauce, sesame oil, little bit of salt and sugar, divide them into few meals and freeze them. There is your quick dinner meals, just throw in vegetables! You can use them for any kind of Chinese stir-fry (beef and broccoli, anyone?). You can also add more seasoning to it after you thaw it.

Another good way to use basil is Vietnamese Spring Rolls!

Again, use any kind of meat or no meat at all. You can also use all kind of raw vegetables in spring rolls. Before we have kids that somehow are allergic to peanuts(it's a mystery that I will never solve, I thought since I am Chinese, I literally have peanuts in my blood, how can they be allergic to it?) we like to eat ours with roasted peanut. You can roll them up in your spring rolls, or sometime I pound or roll them to death grind them loosely in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin, and put the ground nut in with the spring rolls. We love it! But sadly we try not to have too many nuts around in the house now, except nutty grandparents, we can't have enough of those! 

Next up, coconuts and watercress!
(P/S: No worry, coconuts are really not nuts! Although, how to open them might be a challenge and might drive you nut. )