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Dinner – Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles, by Reggie Soang (click the image for YouTube video)

Dan dan noodles are delicious and easy to make. You don’t need a full pantry of Asian ingredients to make this dish. Dan dan sauce is salty, sweet, vinegary, and nutty. Though soy sauce is a must, there isn’t a specific vinegar to use, and tahini could be replaced with peanut butter in a pinch. For the pork sauce, you could make it spicy or mild. Adding a little Szechuan peppercorn brightens up the flavor and pays homage to the origin of this dish. Szechuan peppercorn lends a bit of floral flavor to the dish when used moderately. I like to grate fresh garlic and add raw scallions at the end to keep the sauce vibrant. Last but not least, drain and rinse the noodles after cooking to avoid clumping. Add the noodles back into the hot water if warm noodles are preferred.

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Dan Dan Noodles:
Serves: 4 portions

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time:

Ingredients:
For the Dan Dan Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black vinegar (could substitute with distill white or rice wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon tahini
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of MSG

For ground pork sauce:
4 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup diced onions, small dice
6 cloves of fresh garlic, split into 2 parts
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
2 teaspoons ground Szechuan peppercorn
1# ground pork
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 stalk scallion, sliced thin
More salt, soy sauce, and mirin to taste

For the whole dish (makes 1 portion):
3.5 oz. dried Asian wheat noodles
2 tablespoons ground pork sauce, from above
1 tablespoon Dan Dan sauce, from above
1 tablespoon crushed toasted peanuts
1 tablespoon sliced scallions
few sprigs cilantro
1 tablespoon chili oil (optional)

  1. To make the dan dan sauce, whisk everything together and set aside.
  2. To make ground pork sauce, marinate ground pork with 3 cloves grated garlic, soy sauce, salt, and grated ginger for 10 minutes.
  3. When pork is ready, heat the oil on medium-high heat and sauté carrots and onions until slightly caramelized. Lower the heat, add ground fennel and Szechuan peppercorn, toast until fragrant, and then turn the heat back up and add the ground pork.
  4. While cooking ground pork, make sure to break up the chunks.  Add a little water to keep to ground pork juicy.
  5. When the pork is fully cooked. Turn off the heat and add scallions and grate the rest of the fresh garlic to combine.
  6. To cook the noodles, follow the package’s instructions. Strain and rinse the cooked noodles under cold running water until water runs clear. Drain again and toss the noodles in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to keep them lubricated. If hot noodles are preferred, place the noodles back in the hot water for 30 seconds to warm up.
  7. To serve, spoon dan dan sauce into a bowl, place noodles on top. Place pork sauce on top of the noodles and follow by garnishing the dish with peanuts, scallions, cilantro, and chili oil. Bon Appétit!
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Lunch – Butternut Squash Salad w/ Arugula and Baby Kale

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, by Reggie Soang

Roasted squash salad is a quick solid meal for lunch. Roasted squash and soft boiled eggs make the salad substantial. Use toasted flatbread as a vessel to mop up the yolk and vinaigrette that are left behind. This salad will keep you nice and light throughout the afternoon.

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad w/ Arugula and Baby Kale
Serves: 4 portions

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:
For Roasted Squash:
5 cups sliced butternut squash, 1/8-inch thick
3 tablespoons EVOO
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon juiced)
9 tablespoons EVOO (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the salad (makes 1 portion)
Roasted butternut squash, from above
1 cup baby arugula
1 cup baby kale
1 soft boiled eggs
1 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 piece flatbread
Lemon vinaigrette, from above

  1. Pre-heat oven at 500F and take out as many eggs as you need and let them sit out for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Toss sliced squash with EVOO, salt, and chili flakes. Roast squash in the oven for 7 minutes until the squash is tender but not too soft. Broil squash for 1 minute to get some char.
  3. To make soft boiled eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the eggs for 6 minutes. Either submerge the eggs in ice water or run them under cold water for 10 seconds and keep them in cold water for 10 minutes until completely cooled, and then peel.
  4. When squash is done cooking, cool to room temperature. Lower the oven to 325F. Brush a piece of flatbread with EVOO on both sides and toast them until warm. Cut flatbread into wedges.
  5. To make the lemon vinaigrette, put everything in a jar, and close the lid and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
  6. To plate the salad, spread roasted squash around the outer part of the plates. Dress arugula and baby kale lightly with lemon vinaigrette and place them in the middle of the plates. Each plate gets a soft boil egg. Sprinkle toasted sunflower seeds and feta on top. Drizzle salads with more vinaigrette to finish. Serve flatbread on the side and use it to mop up any yolks or sauces that are left behind. Bon Appétit!
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Breakfast – Homemade Yogurt Bowl

Yogurt Bowl, by Reggie Soang

Making a delicious and healthy yogurt bowl has to be the least time consuming breakfast item. If you want to get fancy and make your own yogurt, please check out my easy homemade yogurt recipe!

For the latest New Lifestyle cooking series:

Breakfast Yogurt Bowl
Portion: 1 bowl

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 5 Minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup homemade yogurt, or store-bought
1/4 cup sliced banana
1/4 cup whole blackberries
2 tablespoon crushed walnuts
1 tablespoon honey

  1. Put yogurt in a bowl and place banana, blackberries, and crushed walnuts on top. Finish with drizzles of honey.

Here are some of my favorite ways to eat yogurt in the morning:

  • sliced strawberries with granola and honey
  • toasted pistachios with blueberries and ground flaxseeds
  • Grapefruit with honey and craisins
  • Toasted almonds with bananas and blueberries
  • Granola with maple syrup
  • Chocolate chips with banana and pecans
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Quiche

Quiche, by Reggie Soang

Quiche
Makes: 1 9-inch pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours

Ingredients:
For the Custard Base:
4 Eggs
1 Cup/250g cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

*Pie crust is store-bought

Quiche Fillings:
3 cups sliced button mushroom
3 cups baby arugula
1 + 1/2 cup sliced red onions
2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, or gruyere) 
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves fresh garlic, grated

  1. Pre-heat oven at 350F
  2. Fit the pie crust into a tart or pie pan. Dock the pie dough gently with a fork all over. (make sure the dough is chilled before proceeding to blind baking process)
  3. To blind bake the pie crust, line the crust with parchment or foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights so that the crust stays flat during baking. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the weight and parchment, and continue baking until the bottom of the crust is light golden brown and cooked, which takes about 10 more minutes. 
  4. Lower the oven temperature to 325F once the pie crust is done. The crust must be cooled before proceeding to bake the quiche.
  5. Meanwhile, make the fillings by sauteing mushrooms and onions. Put the cooked mushrooms and onions in a mixing bowl and mix in the arugula. Grate fresh garlic and mix well. Chill the fillings completely before proceeding to make the quiche
  6. Once the crust and fillings are cooled. Spread out the fillings and pour in the custard base. Bake the quiche in 325F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the center is just set.
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Créme Caramel

Créme Caramel, by Reggie Soang

Creme Caramel
Makes: 6

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes (not including inactive time)

Ingredients:
Custard Base:
2 cups/430g whole milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup/115g sugar
1/4 t salt

Caramel:
1/2 cup/230g sugar
1 tablespoon water

  1. Pre-heat oven at 325F.
  2. For the custard base, combine milk, eggs, sugar, and salt, with a blender or whisk. 
  3. To make caramel, heat sugar and water until an appealing brown. Pour it into ramekins and swirl the ramekins to make sure it covers the bottom. Cool down completely into a hard candy.
  4. Set up an ovenproof roasting pan and fill the pan so that the water comes half-way up the sides of the pan. Pour in the custard base and place the ramekins inside the roasting pan. Cover the roasting pan with a tin foil. 
  5. Bake the custard for 30 minutes. Once the custard is set, remove them to a rack to cool, and then refrigerate for several hours until thoroughly chilled.
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Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt, by Reggie Soang

Homemade Yogurt
Makes: 24 oz. 

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes (not including inactive time)

Ingredients:
1 pint/2cup Whole Milk
8 oz. Yogurt

  1. Bring the milk to scalding hot (just below boiling point, around 200F/93C), turn off the heat and let it cool down for 30 minutes (temperature will be around 105F/40C). Let sit in room temperature and cover with a plastic for 6 to 8 hours. 
  2. Refrigerate the homemade yogurt, and it could last for a week.
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Homeschooling Meals – Tuscan Bread Soup (Ribollita)

Ribollita, by Reggie Soang (click on the image for YouTube video)

Ribollita is a delicious soup from the Tuscan region of Italy. The soup is made with loads of vegetables and white beans traditionally. I am using chickpeas for the nuttier flavor, and rather than using kale in a conventional recipe, I am substituting savoy cabbage because it’s packed with umami when cooked in a tomato stew. The heart of the soup is the added breadcrumbs at the end. Though traditionally, stale bread is used, anything that could soak up and thicken the soup is welcome. Adding breadcrumbs gives the soup a nice and pillowy texture when sipping on the broth. Ribollita is a wonderful meal at the end of a long day.

For the latest New Lifestyle Cooking Series:

Ribollita
Serves: 4 portions

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:
For the Stew:
1/2 cup EVOO
1 cup diced onions, medium dice
2 cups chopped carrots, 1 to 2 inch thick cuts on the bias
2 cups chopped celery, 2-inch long cut
1 head garlic, cut in chunks
1/4 cup chopped parsley stems, 1-inch long cut
1/2 head of savoy cabbage, cut into large chunks
2 teaspoon dried chili
1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
2 cups chopped sweet potatoes, large dice
4 cups water or liquid from cooking the chickpeas
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or cooked cannellini beans)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (or panko)

For Pesto:
1 cup chopped parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons EVOO
3 cloves fresh garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. In a soup pot, heat up the olive oil at medium-high heat and cook onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and parsley stems until flavors combine. Add Cabbage and cook until wilted and tender. Add dried chilies, black pepper, sweet potatoes, and liquid. Cook until all the vegetables are tender.
  2. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, and cooked chickpeas. Simmer the pot until the stew has thickened and reduced about 1/3.
  3. Meanwhile, make the pesto by grating garlic into a bowl and mix in with olive oil and a splash of water. Mix garlic mixture until creamy and fold in chopped parsley. Add lemon juice to help bring the sauce together. 
  4. After the stew is reduced, add breadcrumbs and stir them in gently. Once the breadcrumbs become like little curds, the stew is done. Taste to season. Bon Appétit!
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Homeschooling Meals – Steamed Egg Custard (aka. chawanmushi)

Chawanmushi, by Reggie Soang (click on the image for YouTube video)

Chawanmushi is a savory egg-based pudding. Simply mix eggs with a flavored liquid and bake them in a water bath, you’d end up with a silken tofu-like custard that is smooth and comforting. In addition to the eggs, add thinly sliced carrots, scallions, ginger, and chilies, you’d have a delightful egg dish as the centerpiece of your meal. Steamed rice is a great complement to chawanmushi.

For the latest New Lifestyle Home Cooking Series:

Chawanmushi
Serves: 4 Portions

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 + 2/3 cups dashi or chicken stock
4 teaspoon mirin
4 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of MSG
1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots, on the bias
1/4 cup thinly sliced mushroom, either dried or fresh
2 stalks of scallions, sliced on the bias
1-inch knob of ginger, sliced to thin strips
Half a piece jalapeño, thinly sliced

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  2. To make the egg mix, beat the eggs until foamy and loose and strain. Add mirin, soy sauce, salt, and MSG to the stock and mix well. And then mix in the beaten eggs.
  3. Prep the veggies accordingly. Meanwhile, boil enough water that could fill a roasting tray halfway up.
  4. Set up a roasting tray with a clean kitchen towel at the bottom. Place ramekins or soup bowls in the roasting tray, leaving some space in between. Evenly distribute veggies among the bowls and divide up the egg mixture equally as well.
  5. Pour hot water into the roasting tray until it reaches halfway up. Cover the roasting tray with a piece of tin foil and put the tray in the oven. Depending on the size of your bowls or ramekins; a 6-inch wide and 2-inch deep bowl will take about 50 minutes to cook, while a 3.5-inch and 2-inch deep bowl will take about 25 minutes to cook
  6. To test the doneness of chawanmushi, insert a skewer into the middle of the bowl and it should come out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes with the cover on and then dig in! Bon Appétit!
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Homeschooling Meals – Chicken Stroganoff

Chicken Stroganoff, by Reggie Soang (click on image for YouTube video)

Stroganoff might sound foreign, but it is just a stir fry with added sour cream and mustard. Paprika, fennel seeds, and green cardamom are just a few spices that make this dish sign. Stroganoff could also be easily adapted as a vegetarian dish by switching out meat with more mushrooms; oyster mushroom would be a great substitute as it is meaty and packs with umami flavor. Add just enough sour cream to enrich the sauce and keep it light for a late spring dish.

For New Lifestyle Latest Cooking Series:

Chicken Stroganoff
Serves: 4 portions

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:
For Stroganoff:
4 pieces of chicken thighs, skin on
3 tablespoons cooking oil, for marinade
2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 cloves fresh garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cooking oil, for sautéing vegetables
2 cups quartered button mushroom
1 cup sliced onions, in strips
2 cups sliced red bell peppers, in strips
4 cloves garlic, silvered
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup water or chicken stock, 
3 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon grain mustard
1/2 cup frozen green peas, defrosted

For Rice:
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
3 cloves green cardamom 
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 + 1/2 cup long-grain rice
2 + 2/3 cups water

  1. Make the chicken marinade by mixing oil, paprika, chili powder, and grated garlic. Rub the marinade over the chicken and let rest for at least 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies and cook the rice.
  3. To cook the rice, heat up a medium pot with oil in it on medium-low heat. Add fennel seeds and green cardamom and toast until fragrant. 
  4. Add tomato paste and paprika and toast until fragrant.
  5. Add rice and toast rice until nice and toasty (add more oil for toasting if you need to).
  6. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed. Leave the cover on for 10 more minutes before fluffing the rice with a fork.
  7. Pre-heat oven at 350F for roasting chicken thighs.
  8. Once the chicken is ready, add 1 tablespoon of oil per thigh into a skillet and cook the chicken on high heat. Sear the chicken skin side down until nice and golden brown. Flip the chicken over onto a baking tray and slide it into the oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until nice and juicy. 
  9. Meanwhile, on high heat, using the same skillet and adding new oil, heat the oil until shimmering and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until golden brown, and then add onions, red peppers, and garlic and cook until caramelized. 
  10. Add tomato paste and paprika and cook until fragrant and sticky. Add water or stock to deglaze the pan. Reduce the liquid by a quarter and turn off the heat.
  11. Add sour cream and grain mustard and stir them in. Fold in peas to finish.
  12. To serve, ladle stroganoff over rice and serve the chicken on the side. Bon Appétit!
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Homeschooling Meals – Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup, by Reggie Soang (click on image for YouTube video)

An American classic combo here for the family and kids. Tomato soup is light and healthy; it is mainly made with tomatoes and veggies, with a tiny pad of butter to finish. A grilled cheese with flatbread gives a fun twist to a classic version; this modern grilled cheese has three types of cheese to help achieve the essence of a perfect grilled cheese: stretch and gooey.

For the latest Happy Lifestyle Home Cooking Series:

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Serves: 4 portions

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients: 
For tomato Soup:
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup grated red onion
5 cloves fresh garlic, grated
1 cup grated carrots
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes
1 chicken bouillon cube, Knorr brand (optional)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon AP flour
1 tablespoon sliced scallions, for garnish
1 tablespoon of sour cream, optional for garnish

For Grilled Cheese
4 slices flatbread (or any bread you have on hand)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated cheddar
4 slices American yellow cheese

  1. Take out 1 tablespoon of butter and leave it to soften at room temperature
  2. Heat up a medium pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and cook red onions, garlic, carrots until tender and fragrant
  3. Add tomato paste and cook until fragrant
  4. Add dried oregano and fresh thyme and cook until fragrant
  5. Add whole peeled tomatoes, water, and chicken bouillon, otherwise, add 2 teaspoons of salt to season. Bring the soup up to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft to mash.
  6. Blend the tomato soup in a blender until smooth. Meanwhile using a fork, mix softened butter with 1 tablespoon of flour until forming a paste. Pour the soup back into a pot and add the butter mixture and whisk to combine. Bring the soup back to a simmer and keep whisking for 1 minute. Adjust seasoning and set it aside.
  7. To make grilled cheese, lay half of the mozzarella and cheddar cheese onto two pieces of flatbread and follow by adding American cheese. Add the other half of the mozzarella and cheddar on top of American cheese. Cover the cheeses with the other two pieces of flatbread. 
  8. Fit a piece of parchment paper in a skillet and brush it with oil. Put one grilled cheese sandwich on top and cook until nice and crispy at the bottom. Flip the sandwich over and cook the other side until brown and crispy as well. Do the same with the second sandwich. Cut grilled cheese into wedges like pizza, and serve with hot tomato soup. Garnish the soup with scallions and sour cream. Bon Appétit!