This was the first time I had quinoa – I’m way behind on trying out the hip health foods, at least I’ve been eating chia seeds daily since months already – and I really liked it. It was also the first time that I cooked duck and even though I cooked it a little bit too long, the meat was still very tender and the skin was as crispy as it should. Two foods I had never cooked before in one recipe.. living on the edge.
After writing that I wasn’t craving any special dinners, I suddenly couldn’t stop thinking about my old time favorite: this pasta with loads of cripsy garlic, a generous amount of spicy chili peppers, good olive oil that is infused with these flavors and topped with parsley and more cheese than can be good for you.
In the year before moving to Beijing I ate this carb bomb at least once a week. It is my ultimate comfort food, so I would mostly make it when I would be busy stressing about deadlines, but it also cures mean hangovers – that last one might be the reason why I was craving it so badly this weekend..
Anyway, this pasta dish is so easy to make, it might take you 15 minutes on your slowest mode from start to finish. Once you’ve figured out how much garlic and chili you can handle, you don’t need to bother measuring or tasting while cooking.
A couple of weeks ago my parents came to visit me in Beijing. And if that wasn’t special enough, I picked up my friend at the airport a minute before saying goodbye to my parents when they went back home again. It was really nice seeing them, catching up and showing them the city where I’ve been living for the past nine months.
One thing was a bit hard though; my guests were quite the picky eaters, so I always had to keep their demands in the back of my mind while ordering food. My parents didn’t want to eat spicy and they felt a bit uncomfortable in the back alley places where I love going, so we went to the little bit more fancy ones (not complaining, thanks for all those dinners, papa en mama). When my friend was here I took her to those back alley places and the canteens on campus and she loved them, but then she turned out not to be a fan of my all time favorite: noodles. There’s such a big variety of noodles available in Beijing and I eat noodles almost every single day, so I thought it was pretty difficult to give them up for two weeks.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved having my parents and friend over, but I’m glad I can eat whatever I want now. This means that I’ve been filling my belly with all kinds of noodles every single day since they’ve been gone.
This lucky girl is going on two amazing trips in the next three weeks. Today I will take a train from Beijing to Henan province to spend the week with a close Chinese friend, his friend and his Chinese family, which means I’ll be celebrating Chinese New Year with Chinese people in China, how cool is that. I’m not sure what to expect, but I think I can be sure it will involve a lot of eating (not complaining at all) and also some major awkwardness when I’m trying to have conversations in my crappy Chinese. After I return to Beijing I will spend one night here before flying home. Home! Unfortunately it’s not just fun and games, since my granddad had a nasty fall and ended up in the hospital. He’s doing ok, but I really want to spend some time with him (and bake some cakes for him) and that’s why I decided to make a short visit home before the second semester starts. I can’t deny that I’m also really reallyreally looking forward to seeing my best friends and my family again and I will, of course, spend some time in the kitchen. And to make everything even better, I will have my two loyal travel companions with me on both trips.
This couscous salad is the last dish I’ve made before coming to Beijing at the end of August last year. Of course it’s not a Dutch salad and it’s also not the first dish that would pop up in my mind when I’m craving a soothing winter dish, but when that moment comes when you’re starting to doubt if the weather will ever get better again and you need to be reminded what summer feels like, this salad full of fragrant herbs, crunchy nuts and a pungent dressing Is the perfect thing to make.
For the last two months, my daily breakfast and lunch consisted out of the same kind of steamed dumplings – I’m on a varied diet, can you tell? Do I still love them? Yes. Do I think that having about 120 (of the same) dumpling meals in two months is gross? Yes. But no judgement please, it already sucks that I have to take a shower and get dressed before I can get any breakfast, you can’t expect me to walk 15 minutes in the cold as well, right?
The recipe I post today are not the same dumplings, but you might still want to eat them for breakfast and lunch on the same day. Half of them were steamed, half of them were pan-fried. I wasn’t a big fan of the fillings, as they included fennel – which apparently I don’t like – and I prefer a more meatier filling; the more meat, the merrier. The dumplings were delicious nevertheless, but if you want to try a different filling, be my guest and let me know how it worked out.
Yesterday was one of my lucky days: my day started with an awesome trip to a local Chinese market and then it got even better with two interesting, fun and delicious Chinese cooking classes. In the morning class we learned how to make a chicken, a duck, a fish and a broccoli dish. In the afternoon class we learned how to make dumplings and how to make these incredibly delicious noodles. Not only were the classes really fun, but the setting was just amazing, since the classes were held in a hutong (traditional courtyard houses).
Making these noodles is even easier than making home-made pasta, since the only ingredients you’ll need for the dough are flour, salt and water. It probably will take some practice to get really comfortable making them for a weekday night, but it’s a thing I definitely see myself doing in the future – when I’ll be in the lucky position of having a kitchen to my disposal that is. But until then I’ll just have to enjoy all the noodles in the restaurants and street stalls here in Beijing.
*For those of you who wonder if I really am in Beijing after seeing this Dutch-style apron – don’t, I really am in Beijing.