January 2019

A pair of orange dill poached salmon on a plate with slices of orange and bits of dill

The Money at ‘Steak’

Buying fish is one of those things that makes me feel iffy. Okay, really buying meat makes me iffy. I just always get afraid that it won’t be the right quality and whats not. The trick to buying meat for me is to only buy from places that I trust. A big part of trust is not just freshness but taste as well. For this Orange Dill Poached Salmon, I took some time to stare at fish.

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Chipotle Chili topped with yogurt and cilantro

Chili on a Chilly Day

The other day, it occurred to me that I have been on social media for about a third of my life. Growing up in Nigeria, I won’t exactly say that I grew up with technology. Technology and the internet was something that slowly drizzled into Nigeria. Moving the US when I was 16, opened my eyes to the internet and social networking online. Even before the days of Facebook, I spent a considerable amount of time online. One of my favorite things to do online is to learn about food. I have always been curious about the way other people eat. Food bloggers have become my demi-gods and I have become the person who falls in love with recipes. This Chipotle Chili from Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking is one of my new loves.

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A stack of dill pickle chicken wings in a white plate dusted with chopped dill

The Easiest Wings

Is this the point I admit that I have a social media obsession? Or should I wait until I have told you about the dill pickle chicken wings I made? So, the story goes like this…A couple of years ago, I discovered Whole 30. I think I found the founder, Melissa Hartwig Urban first. Anyway, I found out about Whole 30 and I obsessively followed their Instagram accounts, including Whole 30 recipes. One of the things I love about their recipe account is that they have different food bloggers come takeover weekly and showcase their recipes. The man behind Primal Gourmet, Ronny Joseph, was a guest takeover and I found him there.

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A blood orange curd tart in a chocolate crust topped with coconut yogurt and granola.

My One Thing

A blood orange curd tart in a chocolate crust topped with coconut yogurt and granola.

I wasn’t going to put up a post today. It is clear to me that I have reached that stage in my blogging journey where I feel like quitting. That stage where it seems all my flaws become apparent. It is the stage where I compare myself to everyone else and somehow manage to lose every round. Then I stopped and challenged myself to talk about something I am good at. That thing is apparent when you see this chocolatey blood orange curd tart.

My one thing that I choose to hold on to today is that I know how to read and transform recipes. I am the queen of using one idea and turning out a million and one things. A few days ago, I shared a parfait that featured a blood orange curd, a creamy yogurt layer and homemade granola. While making that recipe, I remembered that I once made my sister a jam and yogurt tart. Then I decided to make it again with the blood orange curd.

Blood Orange Curd Tart and Parfait

The crust on this tart is from Pretty Simple Sweet. When I was building this chocolatey blood orange curd tart in my head, I knew that I had to find a super easy crust recipe. This one from Pretty Simple Sweet delivered. The only amendment I made to the recipe was to replace some of the flour with dark chocolate powder. Everything else stayed the same.

Food is one of my most important creative outlets. It is one arena in my life where I feel confident. Sometimes I find my relationship with food strange. On one hand, I have a history of disordered eating. On the other hand, I have loved cookings since I was a child. The one thing I have learned from examining my relationship is that the joy I derive from cooking is often the power that allows me to focus on building healthy eating habits.

When I am able to play with my food, I am happy. I am happy when I realize that I have new skills and knowledge about food. By writing this post today, I choose to honor my creative relationship with food.

To make the Chocolatey Blood Orange Curd tart, make the tart crust following the Pretty Simple Sweet recipe, substituting in some dark chocolate powder for flour. Then layer in the components from the Blood Orange Curd parfait.

Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken WIngs in a bowl, dusted with specks of sesame seeds and spring onions. I have a half eaten wings between my fingers

Takeout Wings

Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken WIngs in a bowl, dusted with specks of sesame seeds and spring onions. I have a half eaten wings between my fingers

I don’t know much about American football. As a Nigerian-American woman, I grew up watching soccer in Lagos. I have vivid memories, from my childhood, of watching the World Cup games between the Super Eagles and other national teams. Now that I live in the land of the New England Patriots, during one of the winningest seasons, I find myself interested in the results. As has mostly been the case in the past six years I have lived in the Boston area; the Patriots are going to the Superbowl. As the fans send off the team, I am dreaming of chicken wings for Super Bowl Sunday. First up are these Salt and Pepper Chicken wings.

Second confession: I am a chicken wings connoisseur. Chicken wings always have a presence in the my freezer stash. I just find them so easy to cook. Baking wings at high heat in an oven and coating with sauce is a favorite cooking method. I can braise them quickly in a shallow pan to make a broth for instant noodles. The Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings are deep fried before being coated in an intense coat of sauce.

Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken WIngs in a bowl, dusted with specks of sesame seeds and spring onions

I knew I had to write up the recipe for these Salt and Pepper Chicken wings when I finally got my ratios right. It took a while to feel like I had the right balance of ingredients. I actually tested this recipe over three consecutive days. Each time was good until it was irresistible. There is something about cooking with ginger, garlic and soy sauce. The combination makes the space smell like good food is cooking. This trifecta add so much umami to this chicken.

It is my sincerest hope that you have an opportunity to try the recipe for Salt and Pepper chicken wings. The one thing I can tell you about making this chicken wings is that it is essential to have everything ready before you start cooking. The process goes by so quickly. The resulting wings are worth the effort.

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings

The Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings is a homage to Chinese takeout menu. I wanted a taste that might not be authentic but reminds me of my favorite Chinese buffet experience. The wings do exactly that.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: appetizers, chicken, chicken wings, chili flakes, crystallized ginger, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, wings
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 3 Chicken Wings Party Style
  • 12 Sprigs Spring Onions
  • 8 cloves Garlic use less if you prefer
  • 2 tbsp Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 4 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 2 tbsp Chili Flakes
  • 3 tbsp Freshly Milled Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • Gomasio or Everything But Bagel Seasoning optional
  • 3 Cups Vegetable Oil
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken wings completely dry before salting the skin generously.
  • Chop the garlic cloves into fine bits. Slice the spring onions, separating the greens from the white ends.
  • A saucepan, with deep side, heat up the vegetable oil on medium heat. Test out the temperature of the oil by testing with a thermometer to see if it is 375F. Or sprinkle some flour and see if it sizzles.
  • Once the oil is hot, start frying the chicken wings. Do not crowd the pot. Frying the chicken takes about 10-15 minutes. I like to turn my wings a couple of times to get a deep golden brown color on them. 
  • When pulling wings out of the oil, don’t place on paper towel. Gently place on a plate.
  • While the last batch of chicken fries, start making the sauce to coat wings in another saucepan. Add in the sesame oil first. Follow with the garlic and ginger after a couple of minutes. Once garlic and ginger become fragrant, add in the white part of the spring onions. 
  • A minute after the spring onions are added in, pour in the soy sauce. Let it reduce and become sticky. Add in the chili flakes and black pepper. Stir everything together and wait for the last batch of chicken to finish frying.
  • Once all the chicken wings are adequately fried, add them into the sauce with the heat still on. Stir it all together to get as much sauce on each chicken wings as possible. Once the sauce coats the chicken wings well, add in the green bits of the spring onions. Toss around for a moment.
  • Transfer the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings to a plate. I like to sprinkle mine with either gomasio or everything but bagel seasoning. It adds some more texture and umami with the sesame seed and other spices.
a muddler in a glass cup with basil and balckberry. There is a cut orange and basil leaves around it.

Craving Water

a muddler in a glass cup with basil and balckberry. There is a cut orange and basil leaves around it.

For a while there I was without a water bottle. I had used the same glass bottle for a few years and not the top was faulty. I went from always having a bottle of water handy to constantly being thirsty. In my quest to find what will quench my thirst this winter, I made Blackberry Basil water

This winter, as I have stared focusing more on what I put in my body, water has become a priority. I replaced that faulty bottle with a slick black silicon bottle. It was cheap and beautiful so it felt right in the moment.

a glass cup with smash blackberry on the bottom. the glass is filled with ice and sparkling water. A sprig of basil sits on the rim.

The thing though is that no matter how beautiful the bottle, I still feel like I am not drinking enough winter. Sometimes I catch myself just before I go to bed at night feeling parched and thirsty. I get out of bed for that one long gulp of water to see me through hibernation.

I think I need to become more deliberate about my hydration. The other day I made this flavored water. As you might know from the way I talk about food, I love to smell thing on their way to my mouth. This blackberry basil water is no different. The color is beautiful and the smell is divine. I was skeptical using blackberry in the middle of winter. But, I found that punnet that was shipped from Mexico so my conscience was assuaged enough to buy it.

Anyway, consider this a PSA for you to drink more water. Don’t let yourself be parched and wrinkled from dehydration.

Curry Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice with raisins and almonds

Lazy Day Rice

Curry Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice with raisins and almonds

There are days when I feel sluggish. It is the sort of lazy when I don’t want to make an effort. On those days, this curry chicken and broccoli fried rice work wonders.

As I have mentioned previously, one of my goals in 2019 is to confront my food wastage. This means finding ways of using up every bit of edible food and examining the way I buy food. Often when I buy a rotisserie chicken, using the bits of meat on the carcass can be tough. The legs and breast are easy to dismantle and eat. The little meats hiding in crevices though tend to go to waste. This curry chicken and broccoli fried rice work wonders in using it up.

There are a few ways to make this recipe or non-recipe really. I am not going to give measurements because this is a use whatever you have leftover deal. If I have fresh broccoli on hand, I would usually toast the vegetables in an oil free pan to give it some char.

I tend to start the process of building the fried rice by frying some garlic in oil. Then I add in the curry powder into the pan. I usually use a bit of curry powder because I love strong flavors. Don’t be afraid to play and figure out what works for your tastebuds. In writing about meals like this one, I am creating an opportunity for you the reader to be inspired, not neccessarily directed.

Curry Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice

Back to the curry chicken and broccoli fried rice. Once the curry blooms in the oil, I add in the bits of chicken I am using. Then I let that warm up a bit before adding in the rice. The goal is to let the rice fry a bit since this is fried rice. Once the rice seems like it is sticking the pan, I dump in the charred broccoli. Let it all heat up together before serving.

This curry chicken and broccoli fried rice situation was one of the first places I explored the idea of sweet notes making savory dishes pop. I love to add raisins to my fried rice just before it is done or when it is served. I mostly definitely recommend trying the raisins if you have any. Flakes of almond is the final touch for me.

I hope you get to venture into trying out this lazy day fried rice. Play with your spices and leftovers. You never know what you might create.

Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup with crispy mushroom slices and crunchy chickpeas

First Try: Parsnip

Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup with crispy mushroom slices and crunchy chickpeas

I have never had parsnip before. It is not a vegetable I grew up with. Somehow, in the last 6 six years or so, I have never felt curious enough to try it. Until I somehow got it stuck in my head that I wanted to make cauliflower and parsnip soup. Thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to figure out a recipe that worked for me.

One thing I have to say about parsnip is that it was relatively inexpensive to buy. The parsnips were also easy to peel. There was no slimy texture or anything like that. The core or flesh fell slightly foamy. I almost felt like if I dropped the parsnip in water, it would absorb some of the liquid.

Roasted cauliflower and parsnip in a pan for soup

Anyway, a lot of the recipes I read, called for roasting the parsnip and the cauliflower. So, I roasted the cauliflower and parsnip in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 F until it has nice golden spots. Since I wasn’t using stock or broth for the soup, I used my untraditional mirepoix with celery, carrots, leeks, and onions plus garlic as a starter base. I sauteed these vegetables until they were translucent. Normally, I would have used herbs in the soup but I wanted a really plain soup so that I could taste the vegetables.

A little confession: I actually had a bite of the roasted parsnip before adding it to the soup. I am not sure how I feel about it. Maybe, it is because the parsnip feels so new to me. Despite my lackluster response to the first bite of roasted parsnip, I added the roasted parsnip and roasted cauliflower to the soup pot. Then added in a can of coconut milk. I allowed the whole pot of cauliflower and parsnip soup to come to a boil. Then, I set the heat down to simmer it for 10 minutes before transferring to a blender.

I like my soup pretty thick and smooth so that what I went for with the cauliflower and parsnip soup. This soup is very plain like I wanted and I have enjoyed eating it. Maybe, I am not sure how I feel about parsnip because it is masked so well in this soup with cauliflower and the other vegetables.

Crispy mushroom slices and crunchy chickpea on cauliflower and parsnip soup

My favorite bit of the cauliflower and parsnip soup making was the crispy mushroom bits. The mushroom slices were surprisingly “meaty.” I think they would go well with scrambled eggs on toast or a breakfast burrito. The Healthyish recipe for mushroom bacon was quick and easy for these. I followed instruction from Minimalist Baker for the crunchy chickpeas. Let me just say that the instruction to peel the chickpeas feels silly but it makes such a huge difference.

I am not comfortable giving a recipe for this cauliflower and parsnip soup since this is the first time I am making parsnip. However, I have a list of recipes I referenced before embarking on this adventure.

Anyway, let me know if you have favorite way of eating parsnip. I am sure I will give it another try. Maybe I should make a parsnip gnocchi? Or I am thinking of roasting parsnip strips for a salad. What do you think?

Close up picture of the vegan soba noodles in a pot

Grab and Go

Vegan Soba Noodle Salad in a pot

Soba noodle is one of those foods that I actually prefer eating cold. Made from buckwheat, soba noodles is amazing because it has a lot more flavor that the regular wheat noodles. This makes it the perfect item to use in a salad that I intend to park for lunch. Making this Vegan Soba Noodles Salad is very easy. It just takes mixing a bunch of vegetables together with dressing.

If there is one tip I can give about this recipe, it is to hold the dressing until you are ready to eat the salad. Don’t get me wrong. The Vegan Soba Noodle Salad is not finicky. It can definitely handle sitting in dressing in the fridge. In fact, I love how the carrots get marinade with the dressing when I mix it in before storing. It is just that the salad lasts longer without the dressing.

By the way, the dressing on this Vegan Soba noodles salad is versatile. I can see myself using this to make a carrot and cilantro salad with cashew nuts on those days when I want something easier. The ginger works so well with the chili flakes to create a very subtle heat that balances all the sweetness in the salad.

The other thing I should is that it is not necessary to use soba noodles in this salad. Find yourself a noodle that you enjoy eating in a salad and use that as a substitute. I can imagine myself making this with glass noodles or even pasta.

Vegan Soba Noodle Salad

The Vegan Soba Noodle Salad should be a meal prep favorite since it lasts long in the refrigerator and has a bold taste.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dinner
Keyword: bell pepper, carrot, cilantro, crystallized ginger, maple syrup, soba noodles, vegan
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Soba Noodles
  • 1 Cup Chopped Cilantro
  • 4 Sprigs Spring Onion
  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Bell Pepper Strips

Dressing

  • 1/8 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 tbsp Grated Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 2 tbsp toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to boil and cook soba noodles according to instruction on package. Drain water.
  • Pour all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl except salt. Whisk together. Season with salt to taste.
  • Add in the cooked noodles, cilantro, carrot, spring onions, and pepper strips into the dressing. Toss around until all vegetables are well coated. The Vegan Soba Noodles is ready to serve.
Apple pie granola served with greek yogurt and boiled cider

As Easy As Apple Pie

A glass jar filled with apple pie flavored granola clusters

It finally snowed in the Greater Boston Area. The sidewalks are finally white and the roads are icy. Thankfully, there is no hurry this morning because it a public holiday. This Apple Pie Granola is a good make for a lazy morning breakfast.

I have always been a fan of granola. It is the perfect topping for yogurt because it adds just a bit of crunch. Granola is also a good snack. When I made this Apple Pie Granola, I was thinking more of snacking. It is hard for me to find things that I can munch on in the middle day. I can be quite a picky eater.

The Apple Pie Granola features some of my favorite things at the moment. I love hazelnuts so I added that in. Boiled Apple Cider is a current obsession so I used that to sweeten the mix. Where there is apple, clearly cinnamon and nutmeg should be welcomed as well. That, my friends, is how I ended up with a granola mix that reminds me of apple pie.

Apple pie granola served with greek yogurt and boiled cider

My homemade clusters showcase the best bit about granola making. It is easy to make. It is so unfussy that you can pretty much customize it to your heart’s content. Give it a try!

Apple Pie Granola

This Apple Pie Granola is homemade granola at its best. All of the good stuff and no fillers!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: almond slices, apple pie, boiled cider, cinnamon, crystallized ginger, granola, Hazelnut, nutmeg

Ingredients

  • 11/2 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Boiled Cider
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Slices
  • 1/4 Cup Hazelnuts
  • 1/8 Cup Crystallized Ginger chunks
  • 1/4 cup Light Olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup Raisins

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300F. Add all the ingredients, except crystallized ginger and raisins, into a bowl and give it a good mix. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 mins, stirring it halfway. Once granola is done, pull it out of the oven and let it cool down
  • Sprinkle cooled down granola with ginger chunks and raisins before giving it a mix. Store in an airtight container.