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Monday, December 23, 2013

Hot Apple Wassail

I love wassail! It is a traditional English drink typically drunk around the holidays. Check out my recipe on Shanghai Family website! The recipe makes over a gallon so make it and take it to a party. Or simply make it and put it back into the juice bottles. Store in the fridge for up to a week and heat it up a cup at a time.

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fudge Brownies

Goodness! It has been a crazy summer! We had to move (twice!-don't ask, long story) in the middle of the July heat. There have been a couple big projects come up that I had not anticipated! And then there has been the crazy summer schedule of playdates, modeling jobs and getting the kids registered and ready for school. And then major VPN issues again!! But the boys have both started school and I'm down to one child during the day, it's time to dust off the old blog and start posting again!

After this recipe you will never need to buy a brownie mix again! It's that good! And the best part is that everything in it should be a pantry staple(my favorite kind of recipe- means you can pull off a quick dessert if you have someone unexpectedly come over)

You can dress up these brownies a lot of different ways. I sprinkled some mint chips on the ones I made, but you could add anything: walnuts, pecans, dried cherries, extra chocolate chips, caramel sauce, etc. You can serve these with ice cream or cut them up to use as a base for a trifle (My favorite is a brownie, raspberry, and whipped cream trifle- yum, I'm drooling now).

You'll notice in the ingredients list that the recipe calls for one egg and one egg yolk. Don't be fooled into thinking you can just add two whole eggs. After many brownie trials I can tell you that if you add two whole eggs your brownies will be more dry, more cake like. Egg whites have a tendency to dry out baked goods, where as egg yolks add moisture. So if you are looking for that truly awesome fudgey texture, follow the recipe exactly!

1/3(80ml) cup cocoa
1/3(80ml) cup melted butter
1(200g) cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 (90g) cup flour
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp(2.5ml) salt
1/2 tsp(2.5ml) vanilla

In a large bowl, add cocoa,
and melted butter.
Stir cocoa and butter together until smooth.

Add sugar
and mix until completely incorporated into cocoa mixture.
Add egg and egg yolk and stir until combined,
Add flour

 baking powder
 and salt
 Stir until just combined.
 Stir in vanilla.
* Can also add nuts (pecans, walnuts, or even dried cherries, etc) to the batter at this point. Or sprinkle on top.
 Grease square pan. (8x8 will give you thicker brownies-9x9 slightly thinner brownies)

 Spread brownie mix in pan
 *You can add chopped nuts, or chocolate or chocolate chips at this point.
 I had some mint chips so I just threw some on.
 Bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes or until knife or toothpick comes out clean.
Serve to your admiring fans!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Grilled peaches with rosemary and brandy

The title says it all. It is summer and I've disappeared in Italy with my family and ... no ayi! Even one kid can be overwhelming if no ayi is around and you would like to do something just for you. No time! So I've missed this blog and would like to post something simple you can enjoy in summer if you are back home or in Shanghai.
A simple, quick and luxury dessert.

Serving 4:
3-4 peaches not too mature
2 rosemary sprigs
1/2 glass of brandy
1 spoon of golden sugar or honey

Wash the peaches and cut into slices. Mix in a bowl the sugar with the brandy and the rosmary.
Let the peaches rest with the brandy and the rosmary sprigs for half an hour.
Warm up the grill first till hot and then grill the peaches on both side for 2-3 minutes.
Let them cool down a little and serve with vanilla icecream.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cream of Tomato Soup

Tomato soup reminds me of the good old newlywed days when DH and I were living on a grocery budget of $20 a week. We ate a lot of grilled cheese sandwiched and tomato soup for our lunches in order to live cheap. We used to throw in a little bit of cream into our canned soup to make it better. This soup comes pretty close to how we used to eat it. Now when I eat this cream of tomato soup a flood of memories come back of that first year of being married and all fun times we had. It's become a comfort food to me.

2 tbsp(30ml) butter
1/2 onion
5-6 chopped, skinned tomatoes(see this link)
1 tbsp(15ml) brown sugar
2 tbsp(30ml) butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup(360ml) milk
1 1/2 cup(360ml) water
1 tsp(5ml) salt
pepper to taste


Assemble ingredients. Deskin tomatoes. Core and chop tomatoes.
Melt butter over medium heat.
Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Stir every minute or so.
Add chopped tomatoes,
and brown sugar and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Puree tomatoes in blender or food processor. Set aside.
Rinse and dry pot. Melt additional butter. Add flour and stir.
Cook 2-3 minutes over medium heat stirring often.
Gradually add milk
and water, whisking to combine evenly.
Keep whisking as you cook for 2-3 more minutes until mixture has thickened.
Add tomato puree and heat until soup is almost boiling, stirring often so the bottom does not scorch.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Homemade Popsicles!

As we are staying in Shanghai this summer I'm trying to find ways to keep cool. I bought these popsicle makers at IKEA for an article I wrote last month and we've been having fun making homemade popsicles these past few days.
They are 10RMB a piece and really easy to use. Simply fill them up to the little line inside and put the plastic stick inside. Put in the freezer for a few hours until frozen. When pulling them out of the mold, a good tip is to hold them in your hand for a minute. THe heat from your hand will be just enough to melt them a bit and make it easier to remove.
Just Google homemade popsicles and you will find lots of ideas, but the easiest way to make popsicles is simply fill them with store bought juice. We have made grape, apple and coconut popsicles this week. My favorite is coconut and my boys like the grape ones. They have a lot less sugar than regular popsicles, no artificial colors added and the kids think it is so cool to make it themselves!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

De-skinning Tomatoes

Ugg! Serious computer problems the last week with my hard drive dying (in the middle of trying to post to the blog) and then a whole lot of VPN problems. But now everything is sorted (fingers crossed)!

Years of helping my mom home bottle tomatoes every summer has taught me this little trick for removing tomato skins. For some recipes (like this Marinara Sauce) I am much too lazy to remove the skins, but for some recipes (like my Cream of Tomato Soup) you really need to remove them so you won't have bits of tomato skin floating around.

After washing your tomatoes, score the bottom of the tomato with an X.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.
When the water is boiling add tomatoes.
Boil for 3-5 minutes until you can see the skin starting to pulll away from where it has been cut.

Using a slotted spoon remove the tomatoes from the water.
Let the tomatoes cool slightly until you are able to touch them without burning your hands.
Peel the skins off.

Core the tomatoes. You can also de-seed them if you want exceptionally smooth texture. Use as needed in soups, pasta or other recipes.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chickpeas soup

1 can of chickpeas
1-2 carrots
2 stalk of western celery (can be substitute with chinese celery)
1 onion
2-3 spoons extra virgin olive oil
water or stock (I normally use water)

I use extra virgin olive oil because I love it and my mum used to say that in a simple recipe the quality of the ingredients has a big impact on the result. Sometimes I have no time after a day outside in the playground and I use a mix of celery, carrot, onion that I have ready in the freezer. Of course fresh vegetable are best but frozen from fresh vegetable chopped works too.
Chickpeas from a can are quick and already cooked just be sure to rinse with water before using it. If you have time buy dry chickpeas (cityshop normally has) soak in water overnight and cook till tender in water with salt (from 1 to 2 hours or 40 minutes in pressure cooker).
Chop celery, carrots, onion and cook till tender with olive oil.
This recipe helped me to go trough my first diet ever. Diet lasted 3 days without bread and all those yummy carbohydrates and than I decided I love food to much to keep doing it. I really like chickpeas and will post others recipes with them. Here is today's soup, perfect for a rainy day and good for the kids too.

Chop onion, celery and carrots and cook them with olive oil till tender.
Add the chickpeas after rinsed. Stir and let it cook for a minute.
Add water or stock, how much? It depends if you like the soup more liquid or more dense like a cream. I add (as in the picture) just a little because I wanted a cream.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Blend and serve. A piece of garlic bread go perfectly together and pepper grounded on top add more intensity.
Happy rainy day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Zucchini and Mushrooms Frittata

Almost an omelette, "Frittata" is the result of eggs broken, beaten and cooked in a pan or in the oven. Simple frittata is just with onions but the options are almost infinite. Is your fridge crying empty and you have just eggs and some vegetables? Ready, done. Just a piece of salami? Then pepperoni frittata! 

If mum tells you have made a "frittata" that's another story ... it means you have messed things up and ... better to clean up before she get mad.

Let's have a look at the recipe here. I got all my stuff from kate and kimi online website http://www.kateandkimi.com/ and I loved the baby zucchini.

3 eggs
1/2 onion
10 baby zucchini or 2 big one (yellow and green)
some mushroom (as you like because you can go wrong)
a pinch of salt, pepper 
2 spoon extra virgin olive oil (or any oil you use for cooking). 
Butter works too but I like to stay more in the healthy side. A trick is to fried the onions or the garlic with a little olive oil and a couple of spoons of water. 

1. Cook separately the mushroom (I did with a piece of garlic and olive oil) till tender.

2. Cut round and sauté the zucchini (I did with garlic and oil). I like zucchini when they are still crunchy and not too soft.
3. Beat the eggs and add a pinch of salt and pepper (parsley if you have finely chopped). Season with spices if you like.
4. Fry the onions with oil and water (light version) till onions are transparent or fry till brown if you like. Add the zucchini and the mushrooms (quantity as you like) and stir for 1-2 minutes. I had more zucchini than mushroom, they were gone by the time I made the frittata.
5. Pour into the frying pan the eggs beaten and let it cook over low heat until set, shaking the pan often to stop sticking. 
6. If you are brave turn the frittata so it will be evenly cooked or cut in 4 pieces and turn every piece as I did.
Depending on how many eggs and how big is the pan you can have a thin or thick frittata. A big pan with little eggs made a thin frittata that cook more easily, a thicker one is more soft in the middle, pick you choice and do experiment.