Who moved my wok?

Two best friends, one kitchen, endless possibilities.

Archive for the tag “delicious”

The best veggie burger you’ve had yet.

I am picky about my veggie burgers.  Growing up as an omnivore, burgers were a family favorite of ours, and we outdid ourselves on burger nights.  They were big, beefy, cheesey and quite often dripping with toppings.  If you wanted a real burger, you came to my house.  That being said, I’m picky about my veggie burgers.  I’m warming up to mushrooms, but I still don’t love them and my least favorite are the big meaty ones used in place of a burger patty.  I do like boca burgers, but they don’t have a ton of flavor and they don’t compare to the traditional hamburger we usually think of.  And most other burgers are too mushy.  They just don’t hold up to my standards.  That is, until now.

This spinach-tofu burger was still a little on the mushy side, but the taste MORE than made up for that.  I can’t even describe it.  I didn’t have high hopes when I heard it was composed of spinach and tofu.  I love spinach as much as the next greens-loving girl, but in a burger instead of on top?  Color me skeptical.  However, Elizabeth and I were excited to try something new because I had been craving a burger for a while but I didn’t like any of the options available in Beijing.  So together, we set out to have a yummy burger night, complete with homemade rosemary-dill fries, a big green salad and all the accoutrements that come with this tasty American classic.

Satisfied is an understatement.  Pleased, pleasantly surprised; all understatements.  These were incredible.  Browning them gave them a nice grilled taste and they packed enough flavor that we didn’t need anything on it aside from the heap of veggies we stuffed between our of sesame buns.  I really can’t say enough about these.  Please, stop reading and go try them.  Now.  I’m about to go for seconds.  Nom nom nom.

Also, we have to give credit where is due, and this recipe is not our own.  It is a Marcus Samuelsson recipe that we found via Joanne at Eats well with others.  Check out both of those sites for the recipe and more photos.  We mostly went by the recipe, but we left out the panko and the sesame oil; we just used plain ole breadcrumbs that were available to us.  We also are currently without the luxury of a food processor, so ours were crafted by hand and fork, which could be why they were a bit on the mushy side.  In any case, go eat these.  You’re welcome in advance.  🙂

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Creamy potato soup.

First of all, I apologize for being absent for so long!  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here, but that just means I have plenty of delicious recipes to catch up on posting, including the delicious Thanksgiving dinner we were able to put together.  🙂  But for now, we’ll start with a creamy potato soup because nothing says cozy and warm in a winter wonderland like yummy, decadent potato soup and…it’s SNOWING in Beijing!  We had our first snow of the winter today with several more days ahead in the forecast, so if you’re like us, go ahead and make this pot of soup, grab a glass of wine and some good movies, and hunker down.

Mmm mmm, good!

Start by chopping fresh garlic cloves into very thin little slices and throw those in your big soup pot with the teeniest dash of oil.  As those cook, you can throw in chopped potatoes, carrots and celery with a little onion.  While those are sauteing, add in soy milk (or plain non-dairy milk of your choosing) and bring it to a boil.  We used about 1000 mL of soy milk along with 2-3 cups of water to fill up our soup pot.  The Chinese ‘soya milk’ that we use to cook with here is pretty thick, so the water didn’t dilute it much.  However, if your milk is a bit thinner, you might want to add more milk and less water depending on how creamy you want your soup to be.

As that simmers, add in salt, black pepper, a sprinkling of paprika and a few pinches of thyme.  We also threw in a little ground garlic powder as well as a can of cooked yellow corn, which I really enjoyed.  Let all of that simmer for a while on the stove as the flavors mix, and when the potatoes get a little soft, dig in!

This soup was really indulgent-feeling and hit the spot for something creamy when there are few creamy vegan substitutes available here in Beijing.  Feel free to garnish with a little dash of basil if you want.  We hope this one treats you well this winter!  Enjoy!  🙂

Another winter soup.

That yellow pepper is starting to look a little scary...but don't worry, we used a different one.

Because when the temperatures drop and your body goes into hibernation mode, there’s no such thing as too much soup…at least not in our house.  This soup was inspired by the cold snap as well as the plethora of fresh vegetables in our refrigerator teetering on overripe.  It was also exciting because it was the first adventure with our giant new soup pot from Ikea!  (Ah, simple pleasures…)  As I’ve said before, we hate to waste food, so we decided to make something where we could use everything in our refrigerator.  And I do mean everything.  If it was a vegetable or semi-liquid, it went in.

 

So this dish began like so many others…come on, you know the drill.  Slice up some fresh garlic and throw it in your soup pot.  Let that saute as you chop up whatever other veggies you have in your refrigerator.  We used zucchini, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and a yellow bell pepper.  As those are being cut into perfect bite-sized pieces, you can throw some water and instant veggie stock mix into your pot while adding your veggies as they’re ready.

 

We then added half a jar of marinara sauce (which is totally optional) that we hadn’t yet used up as well as the rest of our tomato paste.  We didn’t have very much left at the time, and if there is one thing I would change about this soup, it would be adding more tomato paste.  It was tasty just as we made it, but I think extra tomato paste would have given it a little more thickness and a little more flavor.

Look at all those veggies!!

As those boil, add in a can of beans of your choice.  Today, we added white beans in addition to chopped basil, tabasco sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  You can add more or less tabasco sauce depending on how spicy you want your soup, which I think is directly related to the outside temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmm. And yes, that is indeed a Christmas napkin. Never too early, I say!

Let that all boil together and give it a taste test or two to make sure you have the flavor you’re going for.  Then serve as a first course or a meal and enjoy!  The best part was we were able to eat soup for a week when we didn’t have time or energy to prepare a whole lunch or dinner.  Next time we might even freeze some, but it didn’t last long enough to freeze this time.  I’m pretty sure that’s a good sign.  🙂

Spicy-as-you-want-’em black bean fried noodles.

Recently we have received a few inquiries (ahem, complaints) from friends and readers (cough cough, tonight’s dinner guest) as to why our blog title implies Asian food when we’ve been predominately preparing dishes that are not Chinese.  So, to please our readers and quiet the critics, Elizabeth concocted tonight’s special recipe.  No it’s not part of the Iron Chef competition, but it still has a secret ingredient: black bean sauce!  And while recipes for black bean sauce abound on the the Interwebs, we happened to get ours already prepared from the grocery store, so don’t feel bad if you cut out a few steps and do the same.

Start by boiling some noodles; ours were not quite as wide as fettucini, though pretty much any noodles will work.  Once those are cooked, drain and put aside, but make sure they don’t stick together because they’ll be used again in a minute.  While those are boiling though, begin chopping up some veggies.  Tonight, our noodles are a bit of a green monster because we only used green vegetables.  First, we minced some garlic and threw that in the pan, because goodness knows we can’t make a meal without it.  Then, we thinly sliced zucchini, celery and green pepper and added them into the wok with a splash of oil to saute.

Nom nom nom.

As those cook, add in a dusting of ground ginger, a sprinkle of paprika and a few shakes of soy sauce to taste, along with the pasta noodles after the veggies are more done.  Then, we added in the secret ingredient.  We began with just one or two spoonfuls of the black bean sauce, but by the time it was all said and done, I’d say at least four spoonfuls or more went in.

WARNING: black bean sauce has the potential to be very spicy; I know from accidental experience.  So make sure you do plenty of taste testing as you go along to get your preferred level of spice.  We also added in some pre-cooked “beef” tofu to ours, which gave us some extra protein and texture in the dish.  Continue adding other spices and soy sauce, along with some salt, pepper and garlic powder until you just can’t wait to eat it anymore.

Langston showing off his juggling techniques...right before the apple fell.

Then, serve up next to your favorite side dish or alone.  We paired ours this night with the garlic stir-fried green beans, which were delicious.  And I think we satisfied our dinner guest and his request for Chinese food on the blog.  He even decided to show off the skills he learned in circus camp as a kid.  Yes, our friends are that cool.

Garlic stir-fried green beans.

Look Mom! I'm a big girl now!

Despite that fact that for much of my youth I refused to come near anything green, I now call most green vegetables some of my favorite foods.  Somewhere around the end of my high school career, I had a transformation and it has only continued since becoming vegan.  Luckily, vegetables are affordable and accessible here in China, so Elizabeth and I decided to re-create one of our favorite Chinese dishes that we usually devour when dining out.  And I have to say, we came pretty darn close.

These aren’t like southern green beans all mushed to pieces and they’re more flavorful than just regular steamed ones, too.  Just don’t make these for a first date…they are full of flavor and they’ll make sure your breath knows it, too.  🙂

This was the only photo I managed to snap before they were gone!

Start by chopping a yellow onion into tiny pieces and throwing it into the wok with a smidgen of oil and a few minced garlic cloves (see what I’m saying about the breath thing?).  While those begin to saute, cut fresh, whole green beans into 1-1.5 inch long pieces and add them into the wok with a few splashes of soy sauce.  You can also sprinkle some ground garlic powder and black pepper on for good measure.  We then took our soup pot lid and covered the pan with it to make the green beans cook faster and to brown them a bit for extra flavor — we try to be resourceful with what we have!

After a couple of minutes, remove the lid, stir and add in more soy sauce and pepper to taste.  Don’t be afraid to add liberally.  These green beans should be bursting with lots of delicious flavor.  Continue this pattern until onions and green beans are cooked and a little brown around the edges.  This dish would be delicious on its own or next to some hearty rice or whatever other dish you choose.  Just make sure you make plenty because it will go fast!

Let’s salsa!

The main ingredient.

Unfortunately, our cooking is infinitely better than our dancing, but that doesn’t stop us!  However, this post is about food, particularly Mexican food, and man do I love Mexican food!  It’s something that Elizabeth and I have dearly missed since leaving the good ol’ US of A.  In America, it’s hard to beat; it’s affordable, generally with vegetarian and vegan options, and the most important part: free, unlimited chips and salsa!  While we have found decent Mexican options in Beijing, our favorite is not conveniently located and has no viable vegetarian options on the menu (the chef made something special for us when we went).  There are two other Mexican restaurants down the street from our apartment, one considerably better than the other for food and atmosphere, but neither has mastered the fine art of salsa and both charge ridiculous prices for it.  MADNESS.

Wanna see me cry? Chop onions near me.

So instead of being filled with rage at the thought of paying too much for mediocre food, we decided to make our own.  Success!  This salsa is SO, so good.  It’s not what you typically find in your average Mexican restaurant at home, but it is totally satisfying and feels so incredibly fresh!  And though it looks quite similar to our bruschetta, it has an entirely different taste and is perfectly paired with the lentil and carrot tacos (coming to a blog near you, very soon!) we made last night.

To begin, I chopped four tomatoes, two large and two medium-ish sized.  These tomato chunks were slightly larger than the ones I used in the bruschetta.  Then Elizabeth very finely chopped a yellow onion and ground in a light sprinkling of garlic powder.  After that, we added in chopped cilantro and several spoonfuls of green salsa from a can.

Finished and ready to devour.

Mix all of that up and give it a taste test.  This time, we couldn’t find our normal green salsa and found the one we used here a little lacking, so we added in some extra salt and more cilantro.  PERFECTION.  This salsa is awesome on its own with tortilla chips or added on top of tacos or fajitas.  It also works nicely added into tofu scrambles…that is, IF you have any leftovers.  🙂

No-bake pumpkin pie.

I wish this is what Beijing looked like now.

It’s November, so it’s officially time to be in the holiday spirit.  Not to say that I haven’t been incessantly playing Christmas music since September, but it’s now socially acceptable to do so, as well as other wonderfully festive holiday-related activities.  Thus, the birth of our easy, homemade, no-bake pumpkin pie.  It’s no-bake for a reason.  We live in China and have no oven.  Sigh.  But that certainly doesn’t stop us!  So read on to find out how you, too, can create this delicious holiday treat.

Elizabeth bringing down the hammer...sort of.

We’ll start with the crust.  We loosely (and I do mean EXTREMELY loosely) used this recipe for inspiration.  Because we have very limited access to most of the ingredients we would usually prefer to use, we have to get creative.  You can choose which you would like to do.

We started with one roll of ginger snap cookies for the crust, which Elizabeth placed into a ziploc bag and then smashed into oblivion with my giant bottle of all-natural Chinese cough syrup (a.k.a., tar).  We then used regular ol’ pancake syrup to mix the cookie crumbles together and stick to the pan.  We went with the syrup because I really wanted to enjoy this pie, and as a general rule, I don’t eat butter or eggs.  So use your judgment to mix together the right about of pancake syrup and cookie crumbs.  You want it to be moist and stick together without it getting soupy.  Once this is finished, put an even layer on the bottom and sides of your pie pan(s).  Our recipe made two small-sized pans.

Now we begin the filling.  We used one 29 oz. can of Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin that we splurged on at the foreign grocery store.  Then we used all the ingredients we had available to us.  A cinnamon and sugar mill, ground nutmeg and low-fat, organic vanilla oat milk.  We began with about one teaspoon each of both the cinnamon/sugar and nutmeg, and about 1/3 cup of oat milk.  Then we taste tested.  NOT ENOUGH PUMPKIN SPICE.  It’s not the holidays without pumpkin spice flavor and China is sorely lacking this.  So then we added cinnamon and sugar until our arms were sore from turning the mill, and about 1/3 cup of pure granulated sugar.  While it’s not Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice, it’s pretty darn close, and it’s delicious.

The last bit of crust before it was devoured sans filling, mmm.

Our pre-freezer pies!

Once this was ready, we spooned half into each pie pan and put it in the freezer.  This morning we took it out of the freezer to thaw, and tonight, we will enjoy it after our delicious chili dinner.  🙂

Simply delicious bruschetta.

The first time Elizabeth made this bruschetta for me, I was floored by the fact that something so tasty and distinctly Italian could be replicated in our very own kitchen, without the help of our favorite Italian delivery restaurant.  I was floored again the next time we had this bruschetta as she taught me how to make it.  It is so incredibly simple!  And though it’s technically supposed to be an appetizer or side dish, sometimes I would just prefer to fill up on it.  It’s delicious and satisfying without being too heavy.  Not to overuse this word, but YUM.

Don't lose a finger!

So here is what you need: tomatoes, a little oil, garlic (fresh and/or powder), finely chopped onion, salt and basil (again, fresh or packaged chopped basil is fine).  First, chop the tomatoes into small cubes or chunks.  Depending on how much you want to make, you can use more or less tomatoes.  Three to four medium-sized tomatoes makes enough for 2-4 people, but if we’re having friends over, I’ll use more because we really like this stuff.  Then, add in chopped basil leaves, some finely chopped onion (this should be significantly smaller than your tomato chunks), a small splash of oil (you don’t want too much liquid in it since the tomatoes already have a lot), and salt and garlic to taste.

The end result.

This recipe is really done by eyeballing, so you can use our photo of the finished product to gauge how much basil and onion you should use in yours.  If you’re using fresh basil leaves, we recommend using several stems of the plant.  Otherwise, your bruschetta will just taste like salty, garlicy tomatoes, which is delicious but missing the point.  And fresh basil smells amazing, so it’s nice to have around.

Once finished, serve up on a sliced baguette before or with your meal.  We also like to use leftover bruschetta for extra flavor in tofu scrambles the next day.  No food goes to waste here!

Pad Thai Fusion.

Our beach. I want to go back.

After eating delicious Thai food on a beach for a week in Koh Samui, we became obsessed with Thai noodles, but none of the Thai restaurants in Beijing could even come close to what we had experienced in their motherland.  Savoring the tastes and flavors we devoured and committing them to memory, we (ahem, Elizabeth) wracked her brain and scoured the Internet to come up with a recipe that would be an ode to our favorites from the island while putting her own twist on it.  Thus, Pad Thai Fusion was born.  This particular version of it is a bit of a combination of two other noodles we have made before, and I think it’s the best one yet.  Prepare yourselves for some deliciousness.  ALLERGY WARNING: THIS CONTAINS PEANUTS AND PEANUT BUTTER.  I’m talking to you, Amy Dobrzynski.  Please make adjustments if you have allergies or other aversions to nuts; this recipe can be just as delicious with less of the nuts and more of the other stuff.

First, boil noodles.  Any noodles.  We buy noodles from our Chinese grocery store, so we can’t actually read what kind they are, but they are flat and about the width of fettucini.  Put these noodles aside, and maybe run some water over them so they don’t stick.  Then, bring out the wok to saute the veggies.  Use whatever vegetables you have fresh and available.  In ours, we used broccoli, carrots, snap peas, red peppers, green peppers and of course, bean sprouts, because what is Pad Thai (Fusion) without bean sprouts.

Throw those veggies, minus the bean sprouts, in the wok with a smidgen of oil, half a teaspoon of garlic powder and two tablespoons of soy sauce to begin cooking.  Then,whip up the peanut sauce, which consists of 2-3 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter with hot water to dissolve it.  After 5-7 minutes of cooking the veggies, add in the noodles, the peanut sauce and more soy sauce if you want.  Let these all cook together for another 3-5 minutes, and during the last minute, throw in the bean sprouts.

I love this dish because it’s packed with tons of colorful, good-for-you veggies and bursting with flavor.  It balances the nutty, full flavor of the peanut butter sauce with the savory soy sauce and the tang of the citrus, coming together for a delectable treat you will love.  It isn’t your traditional pad thai, but it sure is tasty!  Serve up in a nice little bowl, garnished with chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and any kind of citrus wedge.  Prepare to eat until you’re in a food coma.  YUM.

Sooo yummy!

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