Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Crazy Dried Mushroom Noodles

Actually, I have this other post nearly finished with the recipe written out and only the photographs and some editing missing, but I haven't been feeling like finishing it in the past few days.

Instead, I have been wanting to tell you about a crazy soup experiment my housemate and I started last week.

At the university, where he was working, they had been collecting left over food at term end when all the students moved back home. Most of the food was donated to charity, but he brought home this set of dried Chinese soup ingredients ... and well, neither he, nor I had ever made Chinese soup like that. For us, not being familiar with the ingredients, the whole package looked slightly suspicious. Since the thing was quite voluminous though, taking up lots of space, my housemate "assigned" me the task to find out what to do with the kit.
So, by the next day I had googled some recipes and had a rough idea. The whole thing looked a bit like this, but unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph. Some more googling revealed that in fact only one of the packages contained mushrooms, the mushrooms having been monkey head mushrooms. The other sachets contained medicinal roots, goji berries, a special variety of dates and some dried sea snail.

I ended up deciding to soak everything that was not sweet and not a snail in water, which was to be the base for our soup. Since it was not to be a creamy soup we agreed on adding buckwheat noodles and this was essentially the crucial point for making the recipe a success.

We cooked the noodles in the soup and the whole dish turned into noodles, since all the soup was soaked up. This was what made it so good. Both my housemate and I agreed that it was absolutely delicious and that we had to try and re-create this dish! Which is what we did yesterday for a friend's birthday dinner.

You may have seen the photograph that I posted on Instagram (to go there see link in the sidebar). Again, you are invited to follow me there. I may not manage to write posts that frequently, but I always do cook and I post photographs, which hopefully inspire you to try some new things!

... And if there's anything you are really curious about, just ask me for the recipe. I am always more than happy to help anyone who is willing to actually try to do some cooking!

In general I hadn't thought I'd like the concept of taking pictures and posting them with very little text, since a lot is down to appearance.
I have to admit though, that I really enjoy posting on Instagram, as it motivates me not to cook the same thing three days in a row even when no one is there to have dinner with me and to still make it look nice even if it is just for me :-)

So back to the noodles!

Crazy Dried Mushroom Noodles

Time: 30 minutes + soaking time 6-12 hours

for 2 people
50-60 g dried mushrooms*
2 servings (170 g) soba noodles**
2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot
3 large chard leaves
4 spring onions, divided
¾ tsp tamarind
1-2 tbsp soy sauce


  • In the morning soak your mushrooms in 1 litre cold water. Place a glass or another item that is smaller than your soaking jar on to top of the mushrooms so that they actually stay submerged. Soak for 6-12 hours.
  • Drain the soaking water through a sieve into a medium sized pot. Squeeze the mushrooms as well as possible without squashing them completely. Start heating the liquid to bring it to a boil.
  • Cut the carrot in very thin 4 cm long sticks, cut the chard leaves into ribbons and thinly slice the spring onions. Keep the vegetables separate. Set ¼th of the spring onion aside for decoration. Slice the mushrooms into thin slices
  • Heat the oil in a mini wok or frying pan. Over medium high heat fry the remaining spring onion and carrot until slightly browned and soft. Add chard and fry until wilted. Add soy sauce, salt (depending on the saltiness of the soy sauce) and pepper.
  • By now the stock should be boiling. Add the mushrooms, the tamarind and ⅓ tsp salt and boil for 5 minutes. Then add vegetables with the juices and the soba noodles to the stock. Cook for about 5 minutes until the noodles are soft. Stir often so they don't stick together. Add water if necessary.
  • Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Serve in small bowls with crunchy spring onion sprinkled on top.

*Dried mushrooms: The first time we had monkey head mushrooms, together with some medicinal roots, which was fine. In that case remove the medicinal roots after soaking, since they stay quite hard. The second time we used dried shiitake mushrooms, which had much more flavour so I'd rather use these in the future. You can experiment with what you find, though.

** Soba noodles: We used these the first time, which thickened the remaining liquid's consistency very nicely. Also the noodles are flat, like linguine, which I liked. The second time we used these, which I think are probably more authentic, but didn't quite thicken the liquid as well. These are very thin round noodles. We preferred the more hearty noodles, but feel free to play around with the noodles you have or find and to find the ones you like best.

As always I'd happy to hear if you've tried this and how you liked it!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Everyday Fruit and Oats Breakfast Bowl

Hi there!

... Do you remember me? I know it's been a while and I do hope that I am still there, somewhere at the back of your mind ;-)
I had been thinking that after the exams things would get more relaxed, but that hasn't happened. So I figured I should better stop waiting for things to get less busy.

What I am sharing with you today is something really, really easy. There's no heat required and you can't do anything wrong! Here comes: My everyday breakfast.

I guess I've had some variation of this every morning for the past nine years. ( I can hear you thinking here I think..."What??? Is she crazy?") The recipe has changed over time and with that my liking for this breakfast has increased. When I was a child my Mum had learned in her course that you had to eat 60 grams of raw cereal grains each day in order to get your vital supply of vitamin B1. The first recipe was different from what mine now is and I have to admit that I was not particularly happy about this new mindset. Not at all...

For the first recipe I remember us being in the kitchen trying to shred apple on a circular travel-size citrus peel grater. The apple was getting brown and doing this with 300 grams of apple was no fun. There was also some cream in the base, no orange and the consistency was quite heavy. ... Well, don't worry about that...none of this applies to my today's version anymore and these days I love my breakfast. I am looking forward to it every day and I would get seriously confused if there was a day without one.

My Mum's version today still is different from mine, but also very different from the old recipe. Nevertheless I like mine better and she likes hers better. I should get the second recipe from her some time so you can decide for yourself. Unfortunately I don't really know what she's doing differently from me so she'd need to write that down ;-)

Anyway, let's get started before you all go back to sleep again!

Everyday Fruit and Oats Breakfast Bowl

Time: about 20-30 minutes

for 1 person
60 g rolled oats or other rolled grains
1 tbsp flaxseed
40 g water
50 g orange
80 g banana
more water
100 g apple

  1. Put the rolled oats in your breakfast bowl. Grind up the flaxseed into a fine meal. Add the water and stir to combine.
  2. Place orange and banana into a blender with approximately 20 g of water and blend up until liquid. You can also place the fruit in a cup and use a stick blender. Add the banana-orange liquid to the oats. Stir to combine.
  3. Slice the apple into sticks. I do this by halving the apple, cutting it into slices one way and the cutting the slices in sticks by slicing crosswise the other way. Add to your bowl. Stir to combine and add a bit more water so that your mixture isn't too dense.
  4. Top with fruit. I like to use any leftover banana, which I put on top in slices and then lots of seasonal fruit.
  5. Then sprinkle with seeds. I like to use 1 tsp of each sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  6. Add nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecan nuts, walnuts or brazil nuts. I usually use all of these and add some coconut flakes. But feel free to adjust in whatever way you wish.

Some more important notes - not for the taste, but for nutritional reasons, so I feel I am responsible to let you know ;-)

  • Cereal Flakes: To get the intended nutritional benefit the grains should be raw, i.e. not heated in any way, which is often done for preservative reasons, especially when the grains are rolled. Ideally, you buy whole grains, which you roll yourself with a device like in this video. Even more ideally, you test if the grains really are raw by trying to sprout them. 
  • Flaxseed: Flaxseed should be ground because otherwise your body won't be able to absorb the nutrients in the seeds. They won't really be digested and ... well, they will look the same after you've eaten them as before you've eaten them. This is because the seeds want to stay whole so that if a bird was to eat them and drop them somewhere else they'd still be able to grow. If you buy them pre-ground, though, they will have lost lots of their nutrients due to the open exposure to the oxygen.
Still, even if you don't do this, the breakfast is very healthy and, most importantly, delicious! So don't let this hold you back!

That's it. Happy breakfast :-) Let me know if you like it!

And I nearly forgot something important! Thanks to my Czech friend Damm, who I was talking to this week, I finally got myself 'round to having a look into how Instagram works and opening an account.

I hope that even if I don't feel like I've enough energy for writing sometimes, I can still take some photographs and give you some inspiration from time to time! So please feel free to follow me there (a link is on the right side of the blog in the sidebar) and I promise I'll soon have figured out the details of how it all works soon! ;-)