I am back! Second trimester is here and I am feeling more alive. I have really missed blogging but no matter how much I wanted to blog I just had no energy these last few months. I didn’t have too bad of a time morning sickness wise but for weeks all I wanted to eat was avocado toast (you really can’t get the Californian out of me) and as much as I think avocado toast is the best thing ever spreading fresh avocados on toast isn’t really a recipe so not really blog worthy. But while I haven’t had energy to blog I have been compiling an amazing list of recipes that I want to share with you.
Today’s recipe has me so excited I almost feel like I am shaking. Now why on earth would a recipe excite me this much, well let me explain. I have probably mentioned before that I grew up in Hong Kong and we spend about 8 months in Nanning, China. While we were there we were introduced to some incredible local dishes and ingredients that outside of that area we never saw again, including a vegetable that looked like the vines of a pumpkin. One of our favourite dishes included a long thin green with a slight flowered head, we were told they were garlic greens. I have served for what feels like forever for this ingredient. No Chinese restaurant that I went to seemed to have ever heard of it and as time went by I started to forget about it. But the other day we went to our favourite Chinese supermarket and there in the veggies were jui cai, or flowering chives. I got so excited I tried to explain to Chris how amazing this find was but he said I was so excited I wasn’t really making any sense.
I am not even positive if these are the exact vegetable that we had but boy does it look, smell and taste like it so surely it must be, right? I cook Chinese meals all the time, some of them are dishes I remember for Hong Kong or inspired by China and sometimes they are inspired from dishes I had in the US or here. But this is the first time I made something that smelled so much like Nanning for a second I could actually close my eyes and see images of it in my head. This dish blew my mind because it was the closest authentic taste of the food from that area of China that I have had since I left 14 years ago.
Chicken and Jiu Cai Stir-Fry
100g (3.5 oz) Jiu Cai (flowering chives), chopped into 1 1/2-inch lengths
500g (1 lb) chicken pieces, diced
80mL (1/3 c.) water
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp rice wine
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Adapted from Pig Pig’s Corner
*Edit: As I don’t have to follow a gluten-free diet I sometimes forget to double check non-obvious ingredients. A reader pointed out to me that I used soy sauce in this recipe which of course has gluten. I have amended the recipe for those that are gluten-free.
You will notice a lot more Gluten-Free stuff on this blog. For the month of January my husband is having to give up gluten to see if that is what has been causing some gastro issues. I will admit when he asked me to do this for him I wasn’t the wife I wanted to be at first. Right away I found myself trying to convince him and myself that it couldn’t possibly be the reason why he has been having issues. In my head it was the worse news in the world. I love home made bread, pasta and other wheat pastries. I have been playing around with gluten-free versions and while I have found a few things that are good they will never be substitutions for me. But thankfully I realised how incredibly selfish that was and have got myself in gear. For us the only way it will work is if we all eat gluten-free so I have had to get even more creative then usual. These turkey meatballs were so simple. And I was surprised at how well it held together without me needing to add a binder. If you find it is falling apart for you and want to keep it gluten-free you can add a bit of cornflour. I served this over a stir-fry of courgette and carrot noodles.
This is going to be an unexpected new journey for me but I am happy to say I am supporting my husband and taking care of his needs. Already a week into our gluten-free journey and he is feeling loads better so it will probably be a permeant one for us.
This week Sunday Supper are tackling food adventures, either in the form of a difficult recipe or a new cuisine. I chose my recipe for two reasons, one I have always wanted to make dim sum at home. I have such wonderful memories of going out for dim sum on Sunday’s when we lived in Hong Kong. If you are unfamiliar with Dim Sum it is a style of Cantonese food that is prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions. It is traditionally served in small bamboo steamer baskets or on small plates.
The second reason I chose this recipe is because I did a silly thing. I go the the Chinese Supermarket in a near by city and stock up on ingredients. I cook a lot of Chinese food so it is much cheaper for me to stock up there. But the other day I over did my saving money when I bought a package of frozen won ton wrappers that had 1000 wrappers in it. Yes it was cheaper per 100g but now I have TONS of wrappers.
But hey that just means I get to be very creative in order to get through all of them. And I am so excited to share this recipe with you as it is something that has been on my to make bucket list for a long time. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer just line a regular steamer with a damp tea towel. Normally dum sum would be served with several other types of dim sum, as dim sum refers to the way the food as been prepared rather then a recipe in particular. But we served this with some rice and steamed veggies.
I am not supermum, I am not supermum, I am not supermum. I have to keep telling myself this every day when yet again I fail to complete all of the tasks I have given myself. There is no way I can realistically get everything done that I “need” to in a day. So why do I get so upset with myself when I fail to do so?
Please tell me I am not alone in this?
As if being a mum wasn’t hard enough, we then have to deal the the constant nagging voice in our heads that tells us we need to give more. But you know what, that nagging voice needs to be quiet because it is time to believe I am a great mum and wife and that I already give my all and that is all I can expect from myself.
So in the spirit of being kinder to myself I have dusted off the crock pot and started looking again to easy meals for the week days. And what a way to start my easy meals, this makes enough for 4, so the plan was it was going to be an even easier meal idea for the following day as reheated leftovers. I am happy and sad to say this didn’t make it to the next day leftovers. I am afraid I will have to do a few more hours on the treadmill for this because both hubby and I polished off two helpings of this amazing dish. But trust me once you try it you will understand. The compliment I got from Chris was that I had finally captured that amazing smell you always smell when you go into a Chinese restaurant that you always want but you can’t seem to find a dish that tastes like it on the menu.
Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
500g (1 lb) flank steak, cut into bite-size pieces
25g (1/4 c.) cornstarch
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 large green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
120mL (1/2 c.) soy sauce *I recommend using reduced sodium
120mL (1/2 c.) water
110g (1/2 c.) soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger root
120mL (1/2 c.) hoisin sauce
recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
This week for Sunday Supper we are honouring chefs who have inspired us. I am so excited to be sharing with you not only my favourite Chinese dish but from the chef who inspired me to want to learn how to cook, Martin Yan. When I was seven we lived in Hong Kong and Martin Yan had a cooking show Yan Can Cook. I LOVED the show. He had this chant he would call out at the end of the show, “If Yan can cook so can you” and I would shout it out with him. Even thinking about it now brings back a flood of wonderful memories. He was so passionate about every dish he prepared and his skill with the knife was one that to this day I stand in awe of. I wanted to be a chef because of Martin Yan so I am so proud to be serving up one of his recipes. I am not sure if I would have done Master Chef Yan proud with my attempt but we really enjoyed it. It would have been a lot easier if my wok was larger. Must tell Santa I want a larger wok.
Beef Chow Fun
250g (1/2 lb) dried wide rice noodles
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornstarch
250g (1/2 lb) flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain
118mL (1/2 c.) beef broth
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
recipe from Martin Yan