Avocado-Chocolate Pudding

I don’t remember how I found this recipe exactly, I guess going from blog to blog, site to site, somewhere in the process it ended up in my bookmarks. I rediscovered it when my avocados ripened too much and I stared to look for ways to use them. I didn’t think something this good will come out of it, but hey, I suppose some things are just worth the risk. It turns out now, this kind of dessert has been quite popular in the blogosphere, but until recently, I’ve never heard of it. Use some really ripe avocados and bananas and enjoy a very delicious and guilt-free, mousselike dessert!

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Ingredients (original recipe here):
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe banana
6 pitted medjool dates
1/4 cup almond milk (or any milk that you like to use)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a dash of salt
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Place your avocado, banana, dates, milk and extract in a food processor. Mix until smooth.
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Add cocoa, cinnamon, salt. Process again until the mixture is well blended together.
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Place your pudding in serving cups and chill for at least an hour. After that sprinkle with cocoa powder or grated dark chocolate and serve. Enjoy!
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Chinese Style Eggplant

Until I came to China, I never really enjoyed eating eggplant. We would usually simply grill it (most often together with zuchinni) and eat it with different kinds of dips. I guess somewhere deep inside I knew there’s more to this beautiful vegetable. Now it has most certainly become one of my favourites. I would order it very often in restaurants, a little petrified about all the oil that comes with it, yet always amazed with all the flavours.

Since I got my own kitchen, I tried to replicate the taste, without using all the oil. Traditionally the eggplant is cut to smaller pieces, then deep-fried until soft and ready to absorb all the delicious sauce. To avoid deep frying, I just peel the skin off, then brown it on maybe 3 tablespoons oil. Another way is to cut eggplant to pieces, leave the skin on, but soak the pieces in water for some time. This was my mother-in-law’s advice, and to be completely honest, I haven’t tried it (yet). If I want to indulge myself completely, I go to my favourite Sichuan restaurant and order it and forget about having remorse. But I promise you, this homemade version is just as delicious and much healthier!
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Ingredients:
2 eggplants (around 300g)
3-4 tablespoons oil (I use canola or coconut)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (pretty sure I always use more, same with vinegar)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped dried chillies
1 tablespoon chopped spring onion (plus some to garnish)
1 tablespoon chinese chilli paste (I use garlic flavoured)
1 tablespoon chinese black vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
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Peel the eggplant’s skin off. Cut in small pieces, around 3 cm long. Brown it on 2-3 tablespoons oil. After the eggplant absorbs all the oil and browns a little, you can add some water to make it as soft as possible. Set aside.
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In a small bowl mix together the chilli paste, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. You may add a little bit of water. Stir all the ingredients together to make a sauce. Set aside.
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In the wok or a frying pan, heat the remaining oil and stir in garlic, ginger, dried chillies and spring onion. Keep stiring until they become aromatic (you will smell it, it’s wonderful). Add the eggplant, stir  a couple of times. Add sauce and stir another couple of times. Off it goes into a plate. Garnish with some spring onion if you feel like it. Enjoy hot!

Chinese sweet-and-sour cucumber

I know don’t how it happened it’s the last day of February already! Since I don’t have a full-time job and spend most of my days at home, they became so much shorter. Things that used to take me an hour or so to do, now I struggle to finish within a day. Something is definately wrong, or maybe I should just admit I became suuper lazy lately. I didn’t even manage to update the blog for the last month. Mostly because I’ve been sticking to some simple recipes, not really worthy of note; but also I’ve been unable to take photographs that would be nice enough. To be honest it’s greyinsh outside pretty much all of the time (urghh!) so the lighting is terrible, I have no way of overcoming it. Again laziness.
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On the brighter side, I recently bought a really fantastic cookbook, Fuschia Dunlop’s ‘Every Grain of Rice‘ (thank you Taobao). The evening I got it, I spent whole night reading it, showning my husband almost every photo, and getting super exited about every recipe. Now, I’ve heard great things about Fuschia’s books, some people say that previous books are even better, but I haven’t had a chance to read them yet. Nevertheless, I recommend ‘Every grain of rice‘ to anyone who has interest in chinese cuisine. You get authentic and simple recipes, plus the dishes are delicious and much healthier then the restaurant versions.  I have quite a lot of chinese cookbooks, but to be honest reading and using them is quite overwhelming for me at that point.
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Since getting ‘Every Grain of Rice’ I”ve tried several recipes already, today I want to share sweet-and-sour cucumber recipe. This was the first thing I made using Fuschia’s recipes, because everytime I go to chinese restaurant this is my absolute fav appetizer. The recipe is simple, but before coming to China, I would never think of making cucumber this way, so I think it’s worth sharing!.

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Ingredients: (from Fuschia Dunlop ‘Every Grain of Rice’)
1 cucumber (approx. 300g)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar (I love this vinegar, probably put a little bit more there)
1 tsp light soy sauce
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Smack your cucumber with a rolling pin. Peel the skin and cut into smaller pieces. Add the rest of the ingreadients and mix nicely.
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That’s the version I like to serve, original recipe doesn’t call for peeling the cucumber. You can add some chilli oil if you fancy something really hot.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Fake rice, aka cauliflower rice has been quite famous recently. Saw it on maaany blogs, with pictures so mounthwatering…I honestly couldn’t wait to try this out and when I finally got my food processor that is the thing I made immediately. The recipe is very simple, and I made my fried rice with stuff I had on hand. And now about the results… I think this is almost too good to be true. Delicious and light, I felt 100% satisfied, but wihout the usual guilt after eating loads of fried carbo. My (Chinese) husband’s reaction: ”The rice is strange”. Nevertheless, he finished his bowl. So I would recommend it to anyone, just expect something similar to rice, and you’ll be surprised!
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Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower
1 carrot, shredded
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs
2-3 tablespoons soysauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons chopped scallion
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First how to make cauliflower rice. Cut your cauliflower to small florets, wash them and dry completely. Don’t use the cord of the cauliflower. Put the small florets into food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times, until it resembles rice grains. Set aside.

Use 1 tablespoon of oil to make scrambled eggs. Try not to overcook as I did. Set aside.

Heat the remaining oil on the large skillet or a wok, put in cauliflower rice and shredded carrots, stir fry for a couple of minutes. By the end of the frying add eggs, season with soysauce, sesame oil and scallion. Try and season to your taste.

Or course you can put everything you want into your fried rice. This is just the simplest version of all:) Enjoy your veggie meal as soon as possible!

Chia Seeds Pudding

I can’t believe it’s 2015 already! It’s time of diets, detoxes, exercises and smoothies – just to keep up with our New Year’s resolutions. And while my resolutions don’t concern those, after spending three intense weeks in Poland I feel I need to change my diet for a few weeks or so. Polish food is everything but healthy and easy on the stomach. Having spent a couple of months away in China, I was really missing my mum’s delicious and heartwarming meals. And so, I didn’t put many restricions on myself while spending festive season in my hometown. We were all quite stressed out this year – most of my family was meeting my husband for the first time; Christmas do require a loooot of cleaning, preparing, cooking and baking and finally our wedding reception. All went wonderfully in the end and as always, I now feel I’ve been stressing out too much. Since coming back to China, I’ve been trying to enjoy healthy breakfasts, because I’ve been suffering from lack of energy for a long time already. Also I’ve been limiting my caffeine intake to two cups a day (I’m a big coffee drinker) – this has been resulting in some really unbearable headaches.
I got the idea for today’s breakfast from goop website. Chia seeds are extremely healthy, but what makes a deal for me is that, this pudding is actually very tasty. Try it with your fav combination of fruits!

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Ingredients:
1/4 cup chia seeds
2/3 cup almond milk/water
favourite fruits
nuts to garnish
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Mix the chia seeds with almond milk or water, stir for a while. Put into the fridge for a few minutes.

Add your favourite fruits on top (I used passionfruits and a banana) and garnish with nuts (I used almond flakes).

Coca-cola Chicken Wings

Chinese love for chicken wings is quite strong. They like spicy, oily things and can eat it no matter what time. Every chinese restaurants that serves ”western” food has their version of chicken wings, and KFC is the most profitable fast-foods chain. Sometimes when I walk around city, it feels like KFC is on every street, every corner. The food in KFC is really bad, much worse than western restaurant, not tastewise, but qualitywise. There I said it, I don’t like chinese chincken wings. My husband on the other hand loves them. I had no choice, but learn to prepare something better, something that he would love even more. Well, I never would have thought that would be so easy. Those coca-cola chicken wings are extremely easy, fast to make and absolutely fussless. No added fat and amazing smell. I feel like I’ve been making those once a week for a year now and still we’re not bored.

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Ingredients:

10 chicken wings
1 can original coca-cola
2 tablespoons salt-reduced light soy sauce
spring onion, to garnish
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Clean the chicken wings under cold water, pat dry with chicken towels.
In a saucepan, combine the chicken wings, coke and soy sauce. Liquid should cover the chicken wings completely. The general idea is: 1 can coke, 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Use more liguids when needed.  If you have more people to feed I highly recommend making a lot of those, as far as I’m concerned everybody loves those!

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Cook until most of the liguid is gone and the rest forms thickish glaze, about 30 minutes on medium heat. That’s it. Put on a plate and garnish with spring onion 🙂 Eat.
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Chinese Christmas Tree

It’s already my second winter in China, but this year my and my husband will fly back to Poland to spend Christmas and New Year there with my family. As I said in previous posts, although the temperatures in Suzhou are not as low as in Poland, high humidity and lack of any kind of central heating make those few winter months really harsh. To make up for this  I started thinking of Christmas in late November. Now I have my lovely Christmas tree, and spending long, cold evenings alongside it feels much better. Anyway, last year we still lived in a rented apartment, I didn’t have any Christmas tree and because of lack of kitchen equipment I could not cook any food. We spent last year’s Christmas Eve in a hotel, enjoying a Christmas feast, as Chinese cooks imagined it. Wasn’t bad, but definately lacking atmosphere. People in China are starting to celebrate Christmas in some ways, there is background Christmas music when shopping (chinese favourites are Mariah Carey and that sort of pop bands), shops are offering small, ugly, fake trees and Starbucks is selling delicious winter selection drinks. You get the idea. Now, I keep on making traditional western and polish comfort food. I’ve been making a looot of potatoes, thanks God my husband loves eating them. He only insists on eating hot chinese breakfast, like meat noodles:)
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Have a lovely December everyone! Keep on making amazing Christmas treats !;)