Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)

food, healthy

Honestly, I’m just drooling over here because I made brownies that ARE HEALTHY and GLUTEN FREE??? How is that even possible? I mean fats and eggs make a brownie good; they give it texture. A plant based one honestly sounds unappealing. I honestly am very impressed with my experimentation because I have failed numerous times attempting to make healthy dessert. Somehow, this turned out to be a miracle and it somehow worked. My mind is blown and I want you all to try these brownies some time!!! I love chewy brownies, so I used my knowledge of food science to make the brownies quite chewy. The chewiness comes from the maple syrup used, and gives the brownies amazing texture.

 

The only downside to these brownies was that I did used granulated sugar. If I attempt making these with a non-refined sugar, I will post an updated recipe. I was hoping maybe dates could be use instead, but I have yet to test that out.


Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)

yield: 8 x 8 pan brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. oat flour (I used homemade; flour must be very fine)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tbsp warm water mixed together
  • 2 tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp water mixed together
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp chopped nuts (almonds OR walnuts) OPTIONAL
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips OPTIONAL
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk until combined, and then add the coffee powder. Whisk to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, add the granulated sugar, syrup and water mixture, flax and water mixture, and vanilla. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
  4. Pour the dry mixture into the wet bowl in 2 or 3 batches. Whisk gently but do not overmix the batter. Toss in the nuts and chocolate chips, if applicable, and stir in. _DSC0275
  5. Pour batter into a 8 x 8 baking pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until baked completely.
  6. Take the brownies out and cool for approximately 10 minutes. Dust with some espresso powder, sugar, or ganache and enjoy!

Shrimp Ravioli w/ 10 Minute Tomato Blender Sauce

food

Homemade pasta is quick and easy to make, and is seriously a game changer. Even without a pasta maker, one can simply make it utilizing a rolling pin and a few minutes of kneading! Keep in mind, pasta dough does not need nearly as much kneading as bread dough. Additionally, marinara sauce takes hours to cook, due to the necessary time needed to break down the fibers and sugars in the tomatoes. However, I have been testing for a quick tomato sauce and have found the perfect way to make homemade marinara sauce. It surely isn’t the same thing as stewed marinara sauce, but it is just as delicious, flavorful, and it’s difficult to even notice the difference. Now, let’s get down to the gist of it. The Ravioli dough can be found HERE and the shrimp filling and tomato blender sauce is down below:


Shrimp Ravioli

yield: 35-40 medium ravioli

ingredients:

ravioli filling:

  • 8 jumbo shrimp
  • 6 oz. ricotta
  • 1/4 c. packed frozen spinach (drained and water squeezed out)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp salt

NOTE: Garlic bread seasoning OR Italian seasoning mix + garlic powder can be substituted for garlic powder, oregano, parsley, and basil.

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and dollop 1 tsp of mix onto ravioli dough.
  2. Form the ravioli and allow it to set out at room temperature for 45 min. to dry.
  3. Once ravioli has been set out for 45 min, boil a pot of water with 1/2 tsp salt. When the water is boiling, throw in the ravioli and let them cook for approx. 6-8 min, or until dough becomes see through.
  4. Serve the ravioli fresh with a delicious pasta sauce! My 10 minute tomato blender pasta sauce is a savory sauce blasting full of flavor.

Tomato Blender Sauce

yield: 2 c. sauce

ingredients:

  • 4 roma tomatoes cut into chunks
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. In a blender, blend the tomatoes and basil leaves until smooth.
  2. In a pot, melt the butter and sautee the garlic until lightly browned. Add in the blender mixture, and allow it to simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in all the other ingredients and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer for an additional 4 minutes. Turn the heat off, and serve over the pasta or let the sauce sit in the pot, as it will thicken up.

Fluffy Chinese Bakery Bread (Sweet & Savory Fillings)

food

Bread is my rock. I can survive with bread and some butter (maybe cheese), and the beautiful thing about bread is that it comes in all shapes and sizes and is a staple in every single country. I believe in the it is said that bread brings people together, because people sit down, break bread, and just talk to create bonds and meaningful relationships.

As a result of my love for bread, it is also my favorite thing to make. The texture of dough is fun to work with and the science behind bread making is stunning. Every single bread I’ve made up to this date has been homemade because I have not yet invested in a stand mixer. It certainly cuts production time by about half, but whenever I consider buying one, I just know that I can do it all by hand, and why let a machine do something that I can do? Plus, kneading dough is a FANTASTIC workout, so why not burn a few calories while at it?

As I move on to discussing Asian bakery bread, in particular, from Taiwan or China, I just want to state that Asian bread rocks. It’s unique in that it much softer, butterier, and fluffier, and often filled with combinations of unique flavors such as 1.) mayo, corn, pork sung, and green onions 2.) pudding and sugar crust 3.) ham, onions, and garlic sauce 4.) Red bean and sesame paste…. The combinations are infinite and as bizarre as some sound, they all end up working well together. Asian bread is famous for using a tangzhong method, but I found that it’s not necessary to making fluffy bread. Simple ingredients and the proper technique can result in a successful bread.

_DSC0110

Ham, pesto, and cheddar loaf

I’ve failed in making bread a plethora of times before I fully understood the science behind bread. My failures were tough, but I want to post my tips below to ensure the proper bread is made.

My mistakes:

  • Must use lukewarm water: about 105 F. I always had my water too hot, and the yeast died, resulting in flat bread.
  • Always add sugar to yeast to activate yeast efficiently. A 1/2 tsp of yeast is sufficient.
  • Do not add flour to yeast mixture until there are plenty of bubbles. Takes about 15-20 min. This will help rising and ensure the bread is nice and soft.
  • Room temperature for rising is sufficient (around 80-85 F). BTW 83 F is room temperature for my family 🙂  I always killed my yeast by placing it in a warmed oven. Unnecessary waste of energy and resulted in failure.
  • Adding excess flour when the dough initially seems wet is a NO NO. I’ve dried out my dough several times because I was impatient to knead the dough more, and I added flour which dried the dough. If the dough is sticky, continue to knead and add 1/2 tsp flour slowly at a time until the dough is smooth. If the recipe is followed correctly, not much extra flour will need to be added. TRUST ME ON THIS! I’ve made bad breads too many times due to this mistake.
  • Hand kneading can take up to 30 minutes. Dough must bounce back, feel springy, and pass the windowpane test, otherwise bread will not be as fluffy! I cannot stress HOW important this tip is. It’s a must.
  • Patience is KEY. Most of my failures arose because I was impatient. I didn’t let the bread rise for 1-2 hours, I couldn’t wait for my yeast to activate, and I didn’t want to knead until the windowpane test was passed. My first successful bread took me 45 min to knead, but now that I have become more skilled, it takes me about 10-15 min, which is not bad at all. Just listen to music or watch a show, and time will pass by quickly.

Fluffy Chinese Bakery Bread (Sweet & Savory Fillings)

yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 c. bread flour (loosely packed)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 c warm milk (2% or whole milk works)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • egg wash: 1/2 beaten egg

For sweet taro filling:

  • 1 c. mashed taro
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar or honey
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp water
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp white sesame seeds for the top

For savory filling:

  • 4 slices ham OR turkey
  • 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella OR cheddar
  • 4 tbsp pesto sauce or tomato sauce
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp garlic bread seasoning for the top

NOTE: the filling recipes EACH make 2 loaves. Because I wanted variety, I did one sweet and one savory but typically most people would just make both loaves the same flavor. I’m just going for variety here.

Directions:

  1.  Grease two loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, yeast, and warm milk until completely dissolved. Let the yeast activate for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour in the bread flour, salt, and egg, and mix until sticky and combined. On a floured surface, pour out the dough and knead for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add in the softened butter and knead for an additional 10 minutes OR more until the dough passes the windowpane test and springs back when pressed. The dough will temporarily separate due to the butter and seem like it won’t come together, but keep kneading and the dough will slowly incorporate.
  4. Lightly grease the bowl, place the dough (shaped into a ball) in the bowl, cover it with a larger pot or plate, and place in a warm area to rise for 1-2 hours. I placed my dough outside which was the perfect mix of heat and humidity.

    _DSC0096

    dough has tripled in size

  5. Meanwhile, to make the taro filling, heat a small pot on low and pour in the water, sugar or honey, and cornstarch in and whisk until simmering. Pour in the mashed taro and whisk until combined (about 3 minutes). Turn the heat off and set aside to let the mixture cool. Add purple food coloring if desired.
  6. Once dough has risen, pour onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 8 even pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll one dough piece into a long oval shape. The dough should be about 1/8th of an inch thick. Spoon the taro onto the oval dough and spread from top to bottom, but do not get too close to the edges. Roll the dough like you would a cinnamon roll and lightly seal the edges. The edges do not need to be completely sealed._DSC0098
  7. If doing savory, lay half a slice of deli meat, spread 1/2 tsp pesto or tomato sauce, and sprinkle some cheese and roll dough like you would a cinnamon roll.
  8. Repeat the process and place 4 rolled dough into each greased loaf pan._DSC0106
  9. Beat an egg well and use a pastry brush to brush the 2 loaves of bread with egg wash. Sprinkle white sesame seeds onto the taro bread and sprinkle garlic bread seasoning onto the savory bread. Cover the 2 loaves with plastic wrap and foil and let the dough rise for an additional 20 min.
  10. Preheat the oven to 340 F.
  11. After the second rising, place the dough into the oven and bake for 22 minutes, OR until the tops are golden brown due to the Maillard reaction. The bread is delicious right out the oven but will get softer once it has set for about 15 minutes covered.

As I have concluded that this is my best bread dough up to date, I’d like to experiment with different shapes and fillings. This was a simple loaf recipe but Chinese bread is known for its beautiful shapes, so until next time, Stay tuned :’)

Low Fat Lemon Poppyseed Cake (Vegan)

food, healthy

Experimentation comes with frustration, wasted time, and wasted money. When attempting to make non-conventional recipes, trial after trial is crucial to get the perfect amounts of ingredients since food is all about the science and measurements behind it. Vegan baking is particularly difficult since eggs aren’t allowed and the animal fats are not able to make the baked product moist. Instead, alternatives like plant oils are utilized, and plant based butter simply isn’t as fragrant as animal based butter. With that being said, I truly appreciate all the vegan bakers out there, in making delicious recipes that are harmless to animals and better for the body overall.

Today’s lemon poppyseed cake is a delicious dessert that typically would require eggs and loads of butter or oil, but not today. You have stumbled upon a much healthier recipe that you can indulge on day and night!


Low Fat Lemon Poppyseed Cake (Vegan)

yield: 1 loaf

ingredients:

  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. vegan yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. vegan buttermilk (recipe HERE) OR 3 tbsp vegan yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c.  + 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

For lemon frosting:

  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 355 F.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, poppy seeds, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice and let the mixture sit for a couple minutes.
  4. Pour the flour mixture into the wet and whisk until fully incorporated. Do not overmix as this could result in a tough cake.
  5. Pour into a 8 x 4 loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the cake for 25-30 min.
  6. Take the cake out of the pan and let it cool on a rack for about 30 min. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and spread the glaze onto the cooled cake. Optional: sprinkle some lemon zest on the glaze.

 

lemon cake 2

The cake is best enjoyed after it is made, served with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

In making healthier dessert options, I’m hoping that more people can stop giving dessert a negative connotation. Dessert doesn’t have to be overly sweet and fattening. I believe that any store bought dessert tends to be far too sweet for my liking, which is why I no longer purchase desserts. I simply make them at home, alter it to cater to my tastebuds, save money, and have fun. It’s a win-win for me and I hope you all attempt to bake more at home.

Happy baking!

Tri Color Egg (A Taiwanese Specialty)

food, healthy

egg1

I could talk for hours after hours about my love for Taiwan; from its mountains and seas to its night market and decadent dishes, there is just something so impeccable about this island. Taiwanese snack foods have become a billion dollar industry all over the world, from bubble tea, to bubble waffles, from Asian bakery bread to braised pork rice… people of all colors love Taiwanese snack food. With that being said, there’s much more to Taiwanese food than bubble tea and bread. I’m ecstatic to share a Taiwanese specialty called “Tri Color Egg”. The three colors are black, yellow, and white. As you may have guessed, yellow and egg come from an egg (of course), but what about the color black? There’s a unique oriental egg called the “century egg” which CNN and many other news outlet report as one of the most disgusting foods ever. It’s such a wonder how tastebuds differ from people to people, because I think the century egg is delightful. Perhaps growing up with the egg in my cuisine has been an advantage, but it’s really not as foul as it sounds. It looks horrid, like something the devil would produce, with its translucent black outer skin and its gooey, vomit-like yolk, but I recommend everyone to be adventurous and try it!

egg2

century eggs

Perhaps you’ve been grossed out and don’t want to read anymore….. but tricolor egg is a beautiful dish that will WOW your friends and family. Come on, give it a try 🙂


Tri Color Egg

yield: (9 x 9 x 2 in circle or square cake pan)

Special equipment: steamer OR a large wok-like pan to steam, steamable plastic wrap, cake pan or casserole pan

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs
  • 3 century eggs
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp michiu (rice cooking wine)
  • 8 tbsp water

Directions:

  1. Line the cake pan with steamable plastic to prevent the egg from sticking.
  2. Separate the 10 egg yolks from white. In the egg whites, combine 1/2 tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp michiu, and 4 tbsp water. Whisk until combined, but do not whisk until too frothy. egg3
  3. Pour the whites into the cake pan. Cut each century egg into 8-10 long slices and line them in horizontal lines in the egg whites. Steam the egg covered on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges have hardened and the middle is still jiggly.
  4. While the whites are steaming, whisk the egg yolks and add 1/2 tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp michiu, and 4 tbsp water. Take a chopstick or skewer and poke small holes on the edges all around the egg whites to release some steam and  so that the egg yolk does not separate from the egg whites when poured in. Pour the egg yolk onto the egg whites and then let the eggs steam covered, on low for an additional 10-15 minutes. egg6
  5. Once complete, remove the eggs from the steamer and let it cool for an hour before serving. when slicing the eggs, you want to slice vertically or against the way the century eggs were placed. Since the century eggs were placed horizontally, cut the eggs vertically to get the bejeweled effect from the century eggs.

Tri color eggs are best eaten with rice or noodles, accompanied by vegetables and other dishes!

Handmade Ravioli (No machine)

food

rav12

Who doesn’t like pasta? It’s practically the noodle version of pizza, and if you dislike pizza, you should go get your tastebuds checked… like right now. Yikes! That was totally rude and I’m joking, but seriously!! As an Italian food lover, I prefer pasta over pizza in that the varieties of noodles and sauces are infinite. The Italians utilize different ingredients to create divers colors, flavors, and shapes of pasta and I am beginning to explore the world of noodles, by making them by hand.

I’ve only eaten handmade pasta noodles a few times, with my favorite, so far, being Patrizi’s , a hole in the wall restaurant in Austin, Texas. Handmade noodles are a game-changer. I disliked splurging on them because it’ll cost about $5-6 more and my mentality is driven by value. Thoughts in my mind may look like: “Buy store brand; same quality but cheaper” OR “why go to that restaurant when you get more bang for your buck at this one”. I balance value and quality, but when it comes to pasta, I have indeed concluded that handmade, fresh pasta is worth the extra bucks. Why? Well, for a few reasons that I shall note below:

1.) It’s chewy and tender, considering that it contains eggs and has a higher moisture content.

2.) It has more flavor because it absorbs sauces better and has a rougher texture that’ll trap sauces and seasonings in its minute crevices.

3.) It’s better for you; dried pasta comes with additives and preservatives to fortify the product. While the fortifiers aren’t fully harmful, I like to steer away from additives as much as possible.

Storing dried pasta in the pantry is difficult and it often gets chewed up by flour weevils. I no longer have any more dry pasta in the house, and am ready to make fresh pasta from now on. It’s cheap, simple, and the only tool you need is a wooden rolling pin, which I got from Chinatown for $1 🙂 Promise me, handmade pasta will change the way you eat Italian food.


Handmade Ricotta Ravioli

yield: 20 ravioli

Ingredients:

For dough:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour PLUS approx 1/4 c. more for kneading and flouring surface
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 1/4 tsp egg

For Filling:

  • 3/4 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning OR 1 tsp fresh chopped Italian herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme)
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 c. frozen spinach, thawed + pat dry

Directions:

  1. To make the filling, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until incorporated. rav2
  2. To make the dough, pour all the flour onto a clean surface and make a well. Crack the egg into it and beat with a fork, carefully working in the flour gradually.
  3. Once the mixture is chunky and dry, gradually pour in the warm water and combine the mixture with your hands. Keep working all the water in until the dough is sticky and incorporated.
  4. Gradually dust board with additional flour, and kneading dough ball at the same time. Continue kneading for about 8 minutes until the dough is sticky, but not too sticky that it sticks to your fingers.
  5. Wrap in clingwrap or place in a bowl with a damp paper towel and let dough rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Once dough has rested, lightly flour a surface and cut the dough in half. Making the dough can be done in many ways, but due to limited counter space, this is how I did it: Roll one half of the dough using a floured rolling pin into a long rectangle, until it is thin, almost enough so the dough is see through, but just ALMOST. We don’t want the dough to break. Carefully remove the dough and place on piece of parchment paper of non-stick baking mat.
  7. Lightly flour the work surface again and roll out the second half of dough in the same manner and size. Dollop the filling, about 1 tsp onto the dough as shown below. Once finished, place the second rolled out dough sheet and place over the first dough and its filling. Seal the edges with your fingers. Seal tightly so the filling does not come out.
  8. Using a knife, pizza cutter, or a cucumber slicer (like I used), cut the edges of the ravioli to form the squares. Set the ravioli on a floured on non-stick surface and allow them to dry for 45 min. Excess dough can be re-rolled to make more ravioli, or thrown in as pasta.
  9. Once ravioli has been set out for 45 min, boil a pot of water with 1/2 tsp salt. When the water is boiling, throw in the ravioli and let them cook for approx. 6-8 min, or until dough becomes see through.
  10. Serve the ravioli fresh with your favorite pasta sauce and fresh herbs. I made a crema rosa sauce, which I will be posting a recipe tomorrow! Watch out for it:)

My Foolproof Cream Puff Recipe (Red Bean and Sesame Flavor)

food

These light, eggy, and airy puffs of joy can often lead to a kitchen conundrum, but I have one simple-to-follow recipe that results in the perfect crowdpleasing desserts at any dinner party! OR just a dessert that you can devour on your own :’). Typically a vanilla or custard cream is used to fill puffs, but I highly recommend taking an extra step to make a flavored cream such as oreo, chocolate, or strawberry. I followed a more Asian flavor and made red bean and black sesame cream.


Foolproof Cream Puffs

yield: 20 large puffs OR 60 small puffs

Ingredients:

For the sugar crumb topping:

  • 2/3 c. cake flour (I made my own cake flour; ratio= 1 c. All-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 c, granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter (softened)

For the puff:

  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 4 eggs

For the red bean cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 3/4 c. canned red bean paste

For the sesame cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 1/4 c. black sesame paste (store bought or homemade)

Directions:

  1. To make the sugar crumb topping, combine all ingredients thoroughly with a spatula and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper into any a square or circle (the shape doesn’t matter) until it is about 1/4 cm thick. Place in the fridge so the dough hardens. puff 5
  2. In a saucepan, melt water and butter until simmering. Then add the salt and flour and stir with a spatula until the dough comes together. Cook the dough for an additional 2 min. and then remove from the heat.puff 1
  3. Spread the dough out with a spatula in the pan so that it can cool faster. After about 10 minutes of cooling, crack in the eggs one by one, mixing them in completely with a spatula before adding another egg. puff 2
  4. Once the dough is smooth, completely incorporated, and a thick, viscous consistency, place in a piping bag or sandwich bag with the corner trimmed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 355 F.
  6. Pipe the dough onto a lined baking tray with parchment paper of a silicon mat. For large puffs, pipe a circle 2 in. in diameter and for small puffs, pipe a circle 1 in. in diameter. Remove the sugar crumb from the fridge and cut out either a 2 in. or 1 in. circle from the dough (depending on what size puff you are making) with a cookie cutter or a shot glass, or any circular device. Place the sugar crumb dough on top of the puff dough a gently press down. Repeat for all puffs and then place in the oven.
  7. Bake puffs for 25-30 min or until lightly golden brown.puff 8
  8. Once the puffs are done baking, cool for 10 min. Take the whipped cream and manually whip the red bean or sesame paste into the cream. Place back in the fridge.
  9. Using a piping bag or plastic bag with the corned tip cut, place the cream in. For each puff, cut a small half circle with a small knife and pipe in enough cream to fill the entire puff and then cover back the small half circle up. Repeat for all puffs and enjoy immediately or place in the fridge until ready to enjoy.

The puffs can last up to 5-6 days in the refrigerator. They taste best fresh out the oven with cream so I advise snacking on some after immediately baking! I’ve made these for a few parties and have received compliments from many many people so I guarantee that this foolproof recipe will be one for the books.

 

 

 

Grocery Sampling in Austria

travel

As our plane flew through a dusky violet sky and touched down at the Vienna Airport , I quickly sauntered to the baggage carousel to retrieve my luggage so that I could check-in to the hotel, grab dinner, and rest in preparation for nightlife festivities. Besides having booked a room at the Moxy Hotel which was within walking distance of the airport, all activities for the night were going to be improv’d. Within minutes of exiting the airport, I arrived at the Moxy Hotel Vienna which is extremely affordable for the quality. The eccentric, quirky, yet aesthetic hotel provides a surfeit of amenities such as printing, web surfing, hot drinks, board games, a gym, and much more. Keep in mind that Europe, unlike America, charges for almost everything, including public restrooms, napkins, and extra McDonalds sauce so the amenities provided in the hotel are quite rare. Thus, I recommend taking advantage of what is provided and enjoy your time at the relaxing hotel. I paid 95 Euros that night for 2 people, and it included breakfast. I got a good deal through Expedia, so a little bit of planning and the use of booking websites can save tourists plenty of money. Of course, if money is not an issue, then lucky you :). Below are some pics of the Moxy lobby that I absolutely adored. All through the late night, chill music played as friends and families drank, laughed, played card games, or worked on their laptops. The environment was very cordial.

 

 

 

Little was near the airport, mostly rental car stations, banks, and a few high rises. But off into the distance, a bright red and yellow sign caught my attention among  a sea of not so colorful signs. Something about it’s appearance just lead me to the conclusion that it was a grocery store and when I arrived, I took my time and went on a 25 Euro shopping spree to purchase some delectables. I certainly splurged and bought far more than necessary, but some interesting items caught my eyes and the inner food in me was eager to try some European goods. I did a taste test on the products and graded them:

  1. Head cheese– a nondairy cheese (not actually cheese) that combines meat pieces from the head of land animals and stuffs it into a gel that is then brined in a vinegar solution. The slab of head cheese was really cheap, approx. 2 Euros for the pack, and it looked a somewhat delicious pile of meat trimmings so I was very excited to give it a try. I cut a hearty portion onto a slice of pretzel bread and took a large bite… Bleghh, YIKES. I mean, it wasn’t terrible really… but the vinegar/mint/spice-like flavor was so offputting I really wanted to toss the whole pack away. I love vinegar, but something about this was horrid. I suppose that’s why head cheese was peasant food back in the days…

Appearance: 2/10        Flavor: 2.5/10

Image result for head cheese

2. Muscatel Grapes: These grapes were crazy expensive. At 7 Euros per pound, they better have curing properties. The small orbs were tinted light green and pink, and they smelled very sweet so I was pretty stoked to try these. And after all, how bad could grapes taste?

These grapes were hands down the best grapes I have ever tasted! They don’t sell these in the states so I’ve never heard them before but I later realized that Muscat wine is made from these, but the wine doesn’t taste that great… The grapes tasted like lychee Hi-Chew candies. So Sweet, I could’ve sworn I was eating candy!

Appearance: 9/10          Taste: 10/10

Image result for muscatel grapes

3. Paprika chips: Never heard of such a flavor before, but I was eager to give it a try. In general, paprika doesn’t have much flavor so I was wondering if the chips would be bland, but they really just tasted like barbeque chips. Nothing special and no surprises so I was a tad disappointed.

Appearance: 7/10             Taste: 7.5/10

Image result for german paprika chips

4. German Apple cider: I was certainly expecting a drink similar to apple juice, but I instead got a very alcoholic drink that tasted nothing like apples. I was basically drinking warm beer and as a “hater” of alcohol, I spat it out and gave the rest away to my brother. bleghhh I was fooled…

Appearance: 8/10         Taste: 3/10 (because I don’t like alcohol)

5. Currywurst: Who knew such a fusion food existed? I love curry and sausages are a German staple so I knew this was something I needed to taste. The wurst was pretty long and cost 3 Euros.

WOWWW!! I’m not a huge fan of sausages but this wurst was juicy, yet not too fatty, and the curry-ketchup sauce was so good. I wish I had gotten more sauce but the flavor was so potent that it was enough. Really a big fan of currywurst and I must emulate this sauce recipe at home.

Appearance: 7/10          Taste: 9.5/10

Image result for currywurst in bun

This concluded my taste test. I also ate pretzel bun sandwiches and tuna salads, but nothing special there so I did not feel it was necessary to grade them!

For the rest of the night, I spent 4 euros and bought a round trip train ticket to the Vienna City Centre. Night life was bustling as people sat at outdoor cafes under sun umbrellas as live music played out loud. I guided myself through the winding cobblestone roads for the city was constructed like a maze with marble and stone buildings in all directions. Even late at night, hordes of people were visiting St. Stephens Cathedral and buying gelato cones and wursts from food stands.

3 Ingredient Vegan Chinese Turnip Cake

food

The Chinese turnip cake or Chinese LuoBuoGao, is a staple found in dim sum restaurants all over the world. The savory cake is a starchy, rectangular cake commonly filled with shiitake mushrooms and sausage. At about $3 a plate when eating out, it is actually a very affordable dish to make and acts as an excellent alternative for rice and noodles. The next time you become tired or rice, I highly recommend attempting to make turnip cakes!! Almost all variations aren’t vegan because they will toss sausage into the mix, but this recipe is one of the simplest turnip cake recipes ever and requires only 4 main ingredients. Chances are, you probably have salt, white pepper, and water at home so the base of the turnip cake is very simple to make.


Vegan Turnip Cake (3 Ingredients)

yield: 9 x 3 in cake-size

Ingredients:

  • approx. 2 ft. long worth of daikon root (measurement does not have to be exact. The more daikon, the better)
  • 1 bag rice flour (CLICK HERE to see what brand and size used)
  • 9 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch (optional)
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil OR any flavorless oil

Special equipment needed: Springform pan (I used 9 x 3 in), steam-safe plastic wrap, cheesecloth, large steamer

Instructions:

daikons

Main ingredients

  1. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes, or until fully soft. Once hydrated, chop the mushrooms into small square pieces.
shrooms

chopped mushrooms

2. Peel the daikon root and slice into thin strips.

_DSC0020

thinly sliced daikon

3. In a large wok, heat up 5 tbsp. oil and toss in the mushrooms to saute over high heat until lightly golden brown.

_DSC0026

saute mushrooms

4. Toss in the daikon strips and saute for approx. 5 min. After 5 min, add in 3 c. of water , salt, white pepper, sugar, and corn starch (if using), stir, and let the mixture simmer for 20-25 min. over medium heat until daikon becomes translucent (check image below). Stir the mixture every 5 min.

chopped

translucent daikon

5. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of water with 1 entire bag of rice flour. Mix until combined. Then slowly pour the mixture into the daikon and stir until a thick paste is formed. The paste will form quickly and will require arm strength to mix. Make sure all contents are evenly incorporated.

mix

pour rice flour mixture into daikon

mess

mix until paste forms

6. Set the mixture aside. Take the springform pan and remove the bottom. Take the circular portion of the pan and lay a cheesecloth on top of it. Then lay one sheet of steam-free plastic on top. Pat the cheese cloth and plastic down so that they line the rim of the pan. Place in the steamer and then scoop in the daikon mixture.

dop

scoop mixture into springform pan

7. Steam the daikon cake over medium heat for 1 hour. Take the cake out and allow it to cool and firm for about 30 min.

cake

steamed daikon cake

8. Cut the cake into rectangular pieces and enjoy steamed or pan-fried. I personally enjoy it pan fried since it creates a crispy exterior. Dip in flavored soy sauce or hot sauce.

radish

pan-fried cakes

 

Green Goddess Salad (Vegan)

food, Healthy Lunch Idea

Kale is a difficult vegetable to enjoy due to its rough texture and odd flavor that resembles the dollar weeds thriving in my back yard. Sauteeing or transforming them into kale chips are great alternatives, but nutrients for kale are at its peak when eaten raw, but the problem lies there… I’ve eaten kale salads but the plethora of toppings and dressing to mask the weed-like flavor defeat the purpose of eating kale in the first place. However, healthy fats, vegetables, and dressings can can easily turn the high fiber vegetable into a decadent, protein-packed meal that’ll have you wanting for more. I experimented with ingredients I had at home and whipped up a delicious kale salad that is definitely one for the books. Topped with avocado, pumpkin seeds, roasted brussels sprouts, soy protein, and an almond butter dressing, I seriously think even non-salad lovers would enjoy the flavors and health benefits of this magnificent bowl.


Green Goddess Salad (Vegan)

yield: 2 servings/bowls

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 1/2 stalk kale, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 small avocado
  • 3 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
  • 8 large brussels sprouts, each one vertically cut into threes
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper to taste
  • 1 oz. soy protein like tempeh or tofu, I used a homemade soy product

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 c. almond butter
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened warm almond milk OR warm water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Toss the brussels sprouts with oil, salt, and pepper and bake in the oven for 30 min, turning the sprouts every 5-7 min.
  3. Pan fry the soy protein with salt or soy sauce.
  4. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour on top of the kale in a large bowl. Use bare hands to massage the kale for approx. 2 minutes to soften the kale and infuse the flavors.
  5. Toss the pumpkin seeds into the salad and combine.
  6. After the brussels sprouts have been baked, top them onto the salad or toss them in, along with avocado and soy protein.
green bowl

Green Goddess bowl

brussel sprouts

raw brussels sprouts

kale

dressed kale

On my journey to consuming less meat, this salad makes it difficult to not consume meat. While I know that I will never become full vegetarian since my parents do not permit it, it has been 2 weeks since I have eaten meat and it feels great. Additionally, kale is packed with fiber, iron, and has anti-inflammatory agents, so am definitely now a promoter of kale!