Thursday, 23 May 2013

Quinoa Salad Recipe

Quinoa.  They label this a 'superfood' so I'm here to check out what all this fuss in the media is about.

Type 'Quinoa' into google and your search results should display words like 'health packed', 'nutritional benefits', 'great substitute', and 'easy to cook' (I like the sound of this last one), etc and etc.

In all honesty, the words 'superfood', 'health' and 'nutritutional' generally put my tastebuds to sleep. But given these days I am trying to change my lifestyle a bit and substitute some unhealthy eating habits with better ones (particularly during the work week), I decided to give the famed quinoa a little try.

Pronounced 'Keen-wa', these little grain-like seeds are apparently jammed packed with goodness like protein, essential minerals and antioxidants.*  Some have even claimed it as an 'anti-aging miracle' which can 'delay the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles' (now you've really sold me there!).**

So here it is - my attempt at making an easy, healthy and tasty after-work meal.

-  1 cup quinoa
-  4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
-  1 small can of corn kernels
-  coriander, chopped roughly (you can substitute this with your favourite herbs)
-  spring onions, chopped finely
-  small wedge of lemon

1.  Rinse the quinoa and bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add the quinoa to the water, turn down the heat (to a simmer) and cover.  Allow the quinoa to simmer gently for approximately 12 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.

2.  Spoon your desired amount of ready quinoa into a mixing bowl and 'fluff' it up with a fork. Now add the cherry tomatoes, corn, coriander and spring onion. Mix well and season lightly with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and cracked pepper - and Viola!  

An easy, healthy and tasty meal in almost no time!

A bit too boring for your liking? Me too!

Let's dress this up a tiny bit more.  All you need is a fresh cut of salmon (I bought the fillet from my local supermarket, 2 pieces for under $10) or a good cut of steak (I also bought the eye fillet from my local supermarket for under $10).  

Season your steak or salmon fillet well with salt and cracked pepper. Heat a skillet and add a small amount of olive oil and cook the steak or salmon to your liking. Serve on top of your now easy, healthy and very tasty quinoa salad!  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday dinner sorted in a wallet-friendly and tastebud-enchanting way!

Bon appétit!


(I added half a ripe avocado the above dish as well and it tasted even better. Be creative with this salad!)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Seared Salmon Steak with Asparagus and Half Boiled Egg

Work long hours? Time starved? Sick of eating trashy takeaway? This recipe is not only healthy, but it is very quick and easy to make - you might even be able to slip in a gym session after work before preparing this meal!

Salmon has long been regarded as a healthy food source for those seeking a healthier diet.  Not only is salmon high in protein (approximately 39g per serving - great for building lean muscles), it is rich in omega-3 (assisting in decreasing the rate of muscle-protein breakdown and improve recovery after a workout).

Similar to salmon, eggs are packed full of protein and serves as a great recovery booster after a big workout. The protein is housed in the white of the egg, but the nutrients are housed in the yolk - so no, please don't disregard the yolk! The runny yolk can also serve as a natural dressing for the fish and no dressing is needed for this recipe.

-  150g to 300g salmon fillet (typically 150g for ladies and 300g for gents)
-  1 bunch asparagus spears
-  1 uncooked egg
-  1 small wedge of lemon

1.  Season the salmon fillet well with salt flakes and fresh cracked pepper on both sides. Heat skillet.

2.  Bring a pot of water to the boil. Reduce the water to a simmer then slowly place egg into the water to avoid cracking and allow it to cook for 2 minutes. Remove egg and immerse in a bowl of icy cold water to stop the cooking process.

3.  Discard boiling water and bring another pot to the boil. 

4.  Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the hot pan and place the seasoned fillet in the pan. Cook until the thickest section of the fillet is 1/4 cooked through (for medium cooked - adjust to your liking).  

5.  Flip the fillet over and continue to cook until only the centre of the fillet is pink. Add asparagus spears to the boiling water and simmer for approximately 1 minute. Drain the asparagus.

6.  Serve the salmon fillets on a large serving plate with the asparagus on the sides, a wedge of lemon and the half boiled egg.

Bon appétit!


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Risotto ai Ricci di Mare (Sea Urchin Risotto)

Readers of my blog know my fondness for these prickly treasure chests of ocean gold. Previously, I shared some recipes for my favourite sea urchin shooters, Japanese style. 

Today I would like share an Italian way of eating these little ocean delicacies. 

In Italy, sea urchins are known as Ricci di Mare. They are mostly eaten during summer and simply straight from the shell, however they also commonly appear as an ingredient in pasta dishes.

One of my favourite way of eating cooked ricci di mare, is with risotto. Here is my Risotto ai Ricci di Mare recipe.

-  200g arborio rice
-  800ml preheated chicken stock
-  1/2 brown onion, diced
-  2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
-  1/2 cup dry white wine
-  8-12 sea urchin tongues
-  3 tbs butter
-  2 tbs freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, more to serve

1.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick saucepan, add brown onions and saute until the onion is soft and tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute further.

2.  Add arborio rice and stir. Once the rice is coated in the mixture, add the wine and stir gently until it has been absorbed.

3.  Add half a cup of the preheated stock and cook over moderate heat until the stock is absorbed, stir occasionally. Repeat this process until the risotto reaches your desired softness (however it should be a little firmer than you desire as it will continue to cook for a while longer). It should take around 20-25 minutes to cook the risotto.

4.  Once the rice is cooked, turn of the heat and stir in the parmigiano reggiano. Cover the saucepan and let it rest for 5 minutes.

5.  Mash the sea urchin tongues together with the back of a spoon until it turns saucy. Stir the sea urchin sauce into the risotto, and serve on warmed plates. Top the risotto with two tongues of sea urchin tongues, and sprinkle with additional freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Bon appétit!


Monday, 4 February 2013

Sea Urchin Shooters

Known as the hedgehog of the sea. These spiky little ocean creatures have a very rich and luscious texture, are orange in colour and have a soft briny and creamy taste. Like oysters and caviar, love for sea urchin is an acquired taste - one which I acquired at a very young age.

They are mainly served raw, with either a squeeze of lemon (Mediterranean style), or with soy and sometimes wasabi (Japanese style), however over the years many more ways of eating these delicious golden tongues have been developed.

A very simple, yet sophisticated way of eating sea urchin is to shoot it! Here are two simple sea urchin shooter recipes for you to try at home!

Sake Sea Urchin Shooters (portions per shooter)
-  one shot chilled dry sake
-  1/2 tsp mirin
-  one to two sea urchin tongues
-  chopped mint leaves
-  squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1.  Pour the mirin and one shot of sake per glass (you will need a glass that could fit more than one shot).

2.  Add one to two sea urchin tongues per glass, top with a the chopped mint.

3.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice.


Sake Ponzu Sea Urchin Shooters (four shooters)
-  one tbs rice vinegar
-  one tbs light soy
-  two tbs mirin
-  four tbs chilled dry sake
-  one quail egg yolk (or half chicken egg yolk)
-  finely chopped green onions

1.  Mix the sake, rice vinegar, soy and mirin together to make the sake ponzu.  Chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

2.  Add 2 sea urchin tongues, one egg yolk per glass and top with the sake ponzu mix.

3.  Top with the chopped green onions.


Bon appétit!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Zucchini bolognese

So recently, I have been trying to change my old eating habits. Bad eating habits to be exact. As a foodie I find that extremely difficult as above all, I like tasty food and we all know, food cannot be healthy and tasty at the same time. As a matter of fact in the food-world, most would agree that these two concepts are mutually exclusive and cannot co-exist. Not true.

The secret is in substitution. I have discovered that by exerting a bit of creativity you could substitute bad ingredients, with cleaner alternatives. My current favourite is substituting dressing (and sauce) for natural low fat Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice and a handful of fresh chopped herbs! You could even jazz that up a bit more by throwing all that, and some avocados in a food processor until you have a delicious dressing/dip that just about goes with anything!

This day, I was looking for a substitute for pasta - another one of my favourites. After much research online I discovered that zucchini could work as pasta substitute. How? Here's a very simple recipe for my guilt-free 'spaghetti bolognese'.

(Note: I am not big with measuring and I cook with intuition so the following measurements are estimates only and can be adjusted according to your personal preferences)

-  2 large zucchinis
-  400g minced lean beef
-  2 x 400g can of diced tomatoes
-  4 tbs tomato paste
-  1 small brown onion
-  1/2 cup of roughly chopped basil
-  2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
-  1 tsp olive oil

The fun part is making the 'pasta'. A good friend recently gifted me with the perfect Christmas present for my new-founded clean-eating hobby - a mandolin (or slicer). All you need to do is:

1.  Slice the zucchini lengthwise (tip: keep the skin and discard the seedy middle bit) then shred the sliced zucchini lengthwise until you have long strips of spaghetti-looking zucchini.

2.  Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft and brown.  Add the mince and cook until browned.

3.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and half the basil. Simmer for 15 minutes until you have a nice thick sauce. Stir in the remaining basil.

4.  While simmering the pasta sauce, bring a pot of water to the boil, toss the zucchini in and turn the flame down so that the water is just simmering. Wait for one minute (for firmer, more 'al dente' pasta). Drain the zucchini with a colander (tip: the zucchini retains water so place a piece of kitchen paper in the colander with the zucchini and leave it there for a while to soak up some of that excess water).

5.  Divide the 'pasta' on serving plates and top it generously with the sauce. 

6.  Garnish - food presentation is important and we eat with our eyes first!

Bon appétit!