I used to be such a picky eater, there used to be a loooong list of ingredients I refused to eat. Even when my interest in food and cooking grew and the list gradually got shorter, the thought of eating certain ingredients or dishes was simply horrifying. Bananas, mushrooms, everything that sounded really exotic or was just simply new to me, I would not eat.
Then I moved to Beijing and I had to step out of every comfort zone that I had. New friends, different language, different culture, different food and no kitchen. Some things were easier to adjust to than others: food was one of the easier ones, living without a kitchen was definitely not.
When I went back to the Netherlands last summer I couldn’t wait to try out all the new recipes I had been wanting to make for over a year, and inspired by all these new experiences I found my way back into the kitchen. One day I suddenly realized I had made pasta with mushrooms for dinner with this banana-date cake for dessert. I had finally conquered all of my silly food quirks. I now firmly believe that mushrooms are awesome, bananas are my favorite fruit snack and I will never let a chance go by to try out new flavors and ingredients.
Even though it’s good to be back in Beijing, I’m never really feeling at ease. This semester is the first time I’m sharing my room with someone, and so far it hasn’t been a very pleasant experience. I don’t want to complain too much cause I know there are way bigger problems than having a horrible roommate, but when my roommate is doing everything to prevent me from sleeping at night (like putting on her heels in the middle of the night while already wearing her PJs, just so the noise of the heels will keep me awake) and studying during the day (like refusing to put on her headphones when she’s watching Pakistan Got Talent on full volume), I find it hard to stay zen.
Luckily I have the best friends and parents who help me to stay positive, see everything in perspective and think of creative ways how I can get back at her (it stays with fantasizing though). And sometimes a little bit of chocolate will help as well.
This is the easiest chocolate mousse there is. You only need to make sure that you’re using fresh eggs (not sure if I would use raw eggs in China though) and good chocolate, and you’re good to go. With only two ingredients (+ a little bit of salt) you will end up with the most light and delicate mousse that will make you forget all your worries, or at least for as long you’re eating it.
As you might have seen in earlier posts, I’ve started making recipe videos. Since the videos are in Chinese and I assume most of you don’t understand what I’m saying, I’ll also post the recipes in English. I made this Eton Mess for my second video last weekend.
I find it hard to express the tastiness of the dishes in Chinese, cause I’m just not a fluent Chinese speaker and it doesn’t come naturally (yet). So I wish I would’ve filmed the reactions of my roommates when they ate this dessert. They were having continuous foodgasms, with expressions of eternal bliss and producing sounds that probably made the neighbors frown.
I don’t know many desserts as easy and enjoyable as this one. So if you want to impress someone – maybe even let him or her moan a little – with minimal effort, this is the dessert to make.
All of the teachers at my internship are, unlike me, overseas Chinese and Chinese is their mother tongue, which means I can learn a lot from them, either by practicing my Chinese or observing their teaching methods. It also means I served these brownies with a ridiculous amount of chocolate in them during the break to compensate for the lack of a Chinese nationality (kidding), but maybe also a bit to calm my first-day-of-internship nerves. Of course the day went great and there was nothing to be nervous for to begin with, and at night my roommates and me went to Amsterdam to go to the movies followed by a Chinese dinner.
Chinese restaurants sometimes have two menus, one for the tourists or Dutch people who are complete idiots when it comes to Chinese food, eating with chopsticks or just anything Chinese. And there’s the menu for the Chinese people who know what they’re dealing with. So when we were handed a menu mostly in Dutch, I asked the waiter (who was probably the same age as us) politely if he also had a Chinese version. The conversation went as followed:
Him: Well.. I do.. but I’m assuming you don’t speak Chinese.
Me: Well.. I do..
Him, raising his eyebrows: You can speak Chinese?
Me: Yeah.. I actually had my first teaching day today.
Him, in a cute voice: Aah, you had your first Chinese class today?
Me, smiling a bit uncomfortably: No, I taught my first Chinese class today.
Him, still not believing me: So you think you can read those characters on the menu?
He still didn’t believe me, but at least he gave me the Chinese menu and added in a skeptical tone “if you need any help, just let me know”. Later when I ordered in Chinese, the flustered waiter didn’t respond back in it, except for a clumsy “ok”. And then it occurred to me that he probably was fluent in Cantonese, but my Mandarin was way better than his. For the rest of the night he tried to avoid our table as much as possible.
Eating healthy and cutting back on sugar is going pretty well, most of the time. But sometimes I just can’t resist and I give in to the craving and indulge in something not-so-healthy. And when I do, I do it right. Like this ridiculously scrumptious moist and sweet carrot cake topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting.
I always thought frosting was overrated, it would just be an extra trip to the gym without actually adding something to the cake. But boy, was I wrong. This fresh and slightly tangy frosting turns a decent cake into one big party in your mouth. Note to self: make that extra trip to the gym and get yourself another slice of this cake.
Hot weather makes me incapable of doing anything other than hiding in cool places and resting (preferably at the beach/pool), I can’t sleep, eat, think properly, let alone cook or bake. It has been sizzling hot these last couple of days, especially for Dutch summer standards, and I have been avoiding doing any major activities.
So I find it quite amazing that I was still able to create this summery ice cream, but I’m glad I did because it is so damn delicious and it is the only right thing to eat in this weather. Even though I was able to get myself into the kitchen to make this ice cream, I did wait till the weather cooled down a bit to tell you about this mind blowing ice cream. Strawberries are roasted, mashed and mixed with a coconut custard, churned into ice cream and mixed with chocolate, resulting in this roasted strawberry-coconut-straciatella ice cream.
The roasting of the fruit makes the flavor of the strawberries more intense, the coconut gives it a fresh twist and the bitter chocolate is a nice contrast to the sweet ice cream and makes for a nice little crunch. I think all of us need to have a tub filled with this in the fridge as an emergency kit for the next heatwave.