Sunday, October 7, 2012


Kale is one of those foods that unfortunately, many people still don't know how delicious it truly is! Kale can be used in a variety of ways, even as simple as tossing with olive oil and making crisps, and no matter what, it is always delicious. It's also extremely nutritious and affordable, which sweetens the deal, and if you're the self-reliant type, you can grow it fairly easily.

It's also a really versatile ingredient, and today's recipe illustrates that beautifully. It's not really lasagna, but it's actually not that different, when you get down to eating it. Close enough for me, anyway. So I've decided to give it a catchy name that'll simplify things when you describe it to others, when you're talking about how delicious and easy it is, and how they should try it!



Kale leaves
Olive oil
Diced tomatoes
Mixed vegetables
2 eggs
Shredded cheese (optional)

to taste:

Crushed red pepper

1) Preheat your oven to 350 F/ 175 C. First, cut or tear the kale leaves into small squares, say about a square inch each at most. Remove any stalks. Heat them up in a frypan over medium-high heat until they are slightly crispy, but we're not making kale crisps here so only slightly crisp them! No oil is needed as long as you keep an eye on your pan.

2) In another pan, heat some olive oil (a spoonful will do) until it moves freely in the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the crushed red pepper and stir it in, then a minute or two later add your garlic, basil, and oregano. Stir these in too, and cook until aromatic.

3) Now add the tomatoes. Stir to blend completely, and keep stirred as you cook. Cook until the mixture is not soupy or runny (as it is likely to be at the start, with the tomato juices).

4) If you want, you can use cooking spray on your dish, but it isn't strictly necessary if you're just going to be eating out of it. Line the bottom of your oven-safe dish with some of the kale, enough to cover the bottom of it.

5) Press down the kale and add the mixed vegetables. These should be already cooked and ready; you can get some good canned ones, or you can cook a mixture of vegetables to your liking before adding them.

6) Now place the sliced olives on top of the vegetables, and add the tomato sauce you've made on top of that, pouring carefully to coat it in a layer atop everything you've already added. Next, add the 2 eggs, beaten. You may need to move some things here or there with a fork or chopsticks to make sure the egg goes down into the layers below, since you don't want it just sitting on top.

7) Finally, top this with a layer of the rest of the kale, and sprinkle some shredded cheese on top if you want. You can also sprinkle nutritional yeast flakes if you prefer.

8) Bake for around 15-25 minutes, or until the egg has set.

9) Serve hot!

Tips and Such

- The kale will actually reduce in size as you cook it, so use a little more than you might think from just looking.

- You can grind some fresh black pepper over the dish, or even use paprika before putting it in to bake, and it will lend an extra burst of flavour!

My kalesagna is a delicious dish that's full of nourishing nutrition for you. It's quick, it's easy, and it's a great way to have that fulfilling lasagna taste without pasta.

So if you've never tried kale before, or even if you're an old pro at kale preparation, you should definitely give this dish a try! It'll please your palette and keep you full and content on these chilly afternoons.

};) Dhiar ♥

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Slutty and Proud Pasta!

You may have heard of the famous pasta puttanesca, which basically means 'in the style of the whore'. It's never really been determined why it's called this; some have mused that it is because of its sultry, sassy, and bold flavours, others have put forth the possibility that it's quick and easy between clients, and still others have opined that it's made of simple ingredients that most Italian kitchens would have on-hand at any time.

Whatever the reason, puttanesca is easy to make and fun to eat. Plus, since recipes vary widely in Italy (for everything), there are plenty of delicious and fulfilling versions of the recipe that are totally vegetarian. Try my version!

Pasta alla Incubus


Pasta of choice (my favourite is fiori)
Olive oil
1-2 tsp capers
Olives, sliced
Olive brine
5-7 spoons crushed tomatoes

to taste:

Crushed red pepper flakes

1) Heat the olive oil under medium heat, until it moves freely in the pan. Add garlic, basil, and red pepper and saute for around a minute. Then add capers and mix thoroughly, cooking for a couple more minutes.

2) Add tomatoes and mix thoroughly, then add olives and 1-2 spoonfuls of olive brine. Mix again and let cook for at least 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

3) While the sauce is cooking, cook your pasta according to the directions for the specific kind of pasta.

4) Pour puttanesca sauce over cooked pasta. Eat while hot (and sexy, of course!)

Tips and Such

- If you don't have capers or don't like them, just add a couple more spoons of olive brine. The function of the capers will not be perfectly replaced by it, but it will at least add some rich tartness that the dish needs.

- You can garnish the dish with parsley flakes or fresh parsley, which will really bring out the taste of the sauce!

As you can see, it's a delicious dish that will delight any palette! It plays on the tongue and leaves a sense of contentment. Even on these hot summer nights, a puttanesca-adorned pasta can't help but satisfy.

You could even eat the pasta dressed in your favourite feather boa, or your stiletto heels, or those handy kinky boots you never quite found an occasion to wear. Be creative!

Stay sexy!

};) Dhiar <3

Friday, June 8, 2012

Washoku is Cool!

What's washoku, you ask? It's Japanese cooking, built upon traditional methods and aesthetics. While this is not, strictly speaking, a dish I've had in Japan, it's inspired by elements of washoku.

In the summer, there are many dishes that are made to cool off. While there is a philosophy that eating hot foods in summer is actually good -- it makes one sweat and cools through this method -- there is also a delight in eating cold or cooling foods.

This dish is eaten more or less at room temperature, but it can easily be cooled in the refrigerator if you prefer a colder dish. If you haven't tried these foods cool or cold, the time is right! They're super-refreshing and totally delicious.

Norinori Tofu Noodles


1 block firm or extra firm tofu, pressed
1 bunch wheat noodles
splash sesame oil
1/2 spoon miso
1-2 spoons water
1 spoon soy sauce
1-2 spring onions

to taste:

norikomi furikake
garlic powder
ginger powder
shichimi togarashi

1) Take the pressed block of tofu and cut it into cubes. Set aside.

2) Cook the noodles until just al dente. Rinse thoroughly in colander with cold water.

3) Add dash of sesame oil and stir thoroughly to coat the noodles. Then add tofu cubes and stir to coat again.

4) Sprinkle garlic powder and ginger on the mixture, then carefully stir again.

5) Top with norikomi furikake and shichimi togarashi, and slice the spring onion on top.

6) Place the miso and water in a small jar, seal it, and shake until well-blended. Add the soy sauce and shake again, to blend, then place in a sauce dish.

7) Serve cool and dip the noodles and tofu in the sauce. Refreshing!

Tips and Such

- If you don't have norikomi furikake, just shred some nori (a type of seaweed) with black and white sesame seed, a little salt, and a little sugar. That's basically all it is! Or you could even just use the nori and sesame seed.

- If you don't have shichimi togarashi, any hot pepper will do. Even cayenne powder will give it a nice boost!

- For cooler food, refrigerate the serving dish and then take it out and serve up the food just before eating. It'll stay cooler! You can also mix up the noodles, tofu, oil, garlic, and ginger and refrigerate all of it, then add the last toppings just before serving.

- If you want to avoid cooking altogether, you could always get some tofu noodles or something like that and throw it all together without having to heat up anything!

This is a dish you're sure to like on a hot summer's day! The appeal of a dish like this is in its avoidance of any sort of cooking, whilst simultaneously bringing lovely accents to simple, satisfying flavours. It's cool, it's filling and fulfilling...what more could you want when it's hot outside?

I hope you'll enjoy this. It should put you in good spirits, hence the name: norinori!

};) Dhiar <3

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quiche On Believing

One of the most enduring foods for a pleasant springtime brunch is the quiche. Simple and elegant, easy to customise to one's preferences, and full of comforting taste, quiche is an excellent complement to most brunch foods. Still, it pleases throughout the day, even if it is most suited to brunch and teatime.

But it can be concerning when one makes a whole quiche, in full pie-sized glory, and has so much of it left. Its ingredients are heavily dairy-oriented, so even refrigerated, they do not last altogether long and, in any case, should be eaten as soon as possible after their preparation.

My solution is this: mini-quiches! They're easy to make, quick, and you won't have to worry about a vast amount left over. The recipe is also simple to double, if you're expecting a crowd for your brunch and want to add an item to the menu.

Many Mini-Quiches


1 C milk (at least 2%, if not whole)
2 eggs
shredded cheese
green pepper
imitation bacon pieces (make sure they're veg, though most are)

to taste:

black pepper

1) Heat a small amount of oil in a frypan and add the onion, diced into very small pieces. Once the onion has become fragrant, add the green pepper and cook for a minute or two longer. Remove from heat. About a quarter of a large green pepper should be enough. As for the onion, sizes vary so much that you should just eyeball it. You can use leftover onion as a garnish if necessary.

2) Grease a muffin pan or use baking cups. Sprinkle enough panko to make a thin layer covering the bottom of each. Make another thin layer with the onion and pepper mixture, then add a layer of the imitation bacon pieces. Over this, sprinkle a thin layer of the cheese.

3) In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper. Whisk until blended.

4) Spoon the egg mixture into the muffin cups until nearly full. Sprinkle paprika on top for spice (if it is Hungarian) or at least colour.

5) Preheat your oven to 350 F or about 175 C. Bake the mini-quiches for 30-50 minutes, checking regularly. They will rise considerably, but once they are taken out to cool, they will also condense, so be aware that they will not be as muffinlike as they may appear whilst cooking.

6) Use a butter knife or spatula to make sure the quiches are loose from the pan, as the cheese can sometimes cause them to adhere. Scoop out and serve while still warm, or store refrigerated for up to several days and serve cool. This will make about 6-8 quiches.

Tips and Such

- Place the muffin pan on a larger cooking sheet, just in case. It makes everything much easier in case anything spills, spatters, or spurts. Well, inside the oven, anyway.

- If you have a silicone muffin pan, it might make everything come out smoother. Silicone baking cups are also a thought, although regular baking cups should do quite nicely as well and may add a decorative feel to the quiches, something very pleasant for a brunch.

- You can omit the vegetables if you wish and simply sprinkle the imitation bacon pieces and cheese. As pictured below, it makes for a delicious and simple quiche itself. If you're concerned about space in the muffin cups, or if you just want to save time, it's easy just to use those ingredients.

- You can vary the recipe as well, such as preparing spinach (torn very small), mushrooms, or a variety of other quiche ingredients, to make your own variety. You can even double the recipe and prepare different ingredients, and have a selection of distinct quiches for your meal!

- If you don't have panko, just use any bread crumbs. You can make them yourself easily, if you just have some bread and an oven and some time.

As you can see, they're not only colourful, but also delicious! I couldn't help myself...I had to try the first one!

The picture makes it seem like they were very short, but they were actually taller than they look there. Blame the flash! Due to the fluffing-up during cooking and subsequent lowering, they lost some height. But they were more than enough for a delicious meal amongst friends!

Although quiche isn't something most people should probably have every day, it's great for an occasional treat in the vibrant mornings and afternoons of springtime. Quiche is rather light but still fulfilling, and it's so easy to make these little gems.

Happy quiches to you!

};) Dhiar <3

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cooked As You Like! Okonomiyaki

Although it seems odd to me to call it an exotic dish, okonomiyaki is a dish that is beyond even pronunciation for some! But it's actually a very easy dish to make, and it's not only tasty, but has plenty of healthy ingredients, especially the Chinese cabbage that gives it substance.

The name means, basically, 'cooked as you like'. It's a dish that often defies description to those who have never before had it, because essentially it is a cabbage pancake, with an added omelette dimension due to the fact that you can add whatever else you like to it. It really is to be made with things you like, and so it's easy to include any number of other ingredients as you cook your okonomiyaki. Be adventurous!

Cooked As You Like! Okonomiyaki


1 C tempura mix (or flour, sifted or whisked well, with 1 egg)
1 C cold water
1 egg
Chinese cabbage leaves (usually about 5-10 will do)
1 spoon instant mushroom stock (optional)

to taste:

sauce (see below)
mayonnaise (use a brand like Kewpie)
norikomi furikake, or shredded nori (optional)

1) Combine the tempura mix and water with a wire whisk until smooth. Chop the cabbage leaves very thin and then cut in halves or thirds. Add them to the batter and blend until incorporated.

2) Heat a small oiled frypan to medium-high heat. Once it is hot enough, pour the batter mixture into it and let it heat.

3) After a couple of minutes, break an egg and pour it atop the okonomiyaki. Keep letting it cook.

4) After it has mostly cooked through, flip it. If you have trouble with flipping, see the Tips and Such section for help. On the side that now faces up, brush the sauce across the surface. Add mayonnaise and arrange to your liking. You can paint a design with a fine-tipped nozzle, or you can simply use a knife to make a marbled effect with the sauce. Add norikomi furikake or shredded nori, spread across the top.

5) After a few more minutes of cooking, slide from the pan onto a plate. Note that you will want to let it cook for long enough to cook the egg on the bottom, the yolk of which should break when it is flipped. Serve hot!

Okonomiyaki Sauce

Most ready-made okonomiyaki sauce unfortunately has fish elements added, or uses worcestershire sauce (which tends to have fish in it also) as a part of the ingredients. If you can find vegetarian worcestershire, simply use it in place of the last two ingredients.

2 spoons soy sauce
1 spoon sugar
1 spoon cornstarch (optional)
1 spoon garlic powder, or to taste
dash lemon juice or citrus zest

1) Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring until blended and slightly thickened.

2) Remove from heat and set aside.

Tips and Such

- If you're not comfortable with attempting to flip a potentially very messy food, here's an easy way to flip it. It works with omelettes and similar foods too, so it'll just be our secret if you use it!

Start heating a larger frypan a few minutes before you need to flip the food. When you need to flip it, take the larger frypan off heat and place it as tightly as possible over the small frypan. Lift both pans and then simply turn them quickly, so that the larger frypan is on the bottom. Remove the small frypan now on the top, and voila! You've just flipped your food.

- You can use vegetarian 'oyster' mushroom sauce if you don't want to fuss making your own okonomiyaki sauce. It's thick and spreads easily, and it sets off the mayonnaise perfectly. You can get this in most Asian groceries.

- For okonomiyaki, I recommend using a Japanese mayonnaise, or making your own. Kewpie is the brand most typically used for okonomiyaki, because of its light flavour and slight sweetness. It as well is found in most Asian groceries, and has a pleasant enough flavour to be used as a simple dip for vegetables or crackers, and used as a garnish where other mayonnaise tends to be too much. Kewpie is not oily or too sour, nor is it pungent. This makes it an ideal topping.

- If you want to add other things to the okonomiyaki, generally they're best added to the batter and mixed in. You can add all kinds of things, so don't be afraid to experiment and see what you like best in yours!

Above all, enjoy yourself! Okonomiyaki is a delicious and extremely simple food to make. It's especially good if you have to cook something quickly that is satisfying and nutritious. After you've made it once, you'll be able to whip it up in no time!

};) Dhiar <3

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quick and Dirty Chickpea Sandwiches

Sometimes one gets in the mood for a fulfilling meal that doesn't take long and doesn't require many ingredients. For those times, I recommend this lovely recipe. It only takes a few minutes, it doesn't need many ingredients, and it's so delicious!

Quick and Dirty Chickpea Sandwiches


1/2 can chickpeas
4-5 spoons crushed tomatoes
1 spoon butter, margarine, or oil of your choice
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
adobo seasoning, to taste
ground pepper, black or Szechuan, to taste
chipotle powder, to taste (optional)
buns or bread

1) In a frypan, melt the butter (or oil, or whatever you use) and place the buns down in it, to cook over medium-high heat. You basically pull the buns apart and toast the insides, where you put the main sandwich. Cook until they are a little crispy, then set aside on your plate.

2) Place the tomatoes in the pan, and add the chickpeas. Using a potato masher, partially mash the chickpeas until the mixture is at a desired consistency. Add seasonings and stir to combine. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until hot and mixture is blended.

3) Serve hot, with fixings of your choice!

Tips and Such

- These are great as a distinctive sort of 'sloppy joe' type sandwich. You can top them with cheese, or even add other vegetables like onions and peppers to the mixture. It's a very versatile recipe that allows a great amount of customisation.

- Because of their nature, these sandwiches work best on buns. Whole grain buns complement the flavour perfectly, and they add another healthy element to the dish.

You should definitely try this marvellous recipe! It takes virtually no time at all, and it's so, so delicious! It's not a junky fast food meal...but it has all the taste of something decadent and sinful. Treat yourself to a pair of these delightful sandwiches today!

};) Dhiar <3

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Spicy Sesame Tofu

It can be overwhelming, that urge to get something delightful and tasty from your favourite Chinese restaurant. But sometimes you don't have the time or money, and you want something now and on-hand. What to do, what to do!

I'll tell you what to's easy! Here we go!

Spicy Sesame Tofu


1 block firm or extra firm tofu, pressed
1 serving noodles of your choice
2 eggs (optional)
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste
pinch sea salt
sugar, to taste
hot chilli powder, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
pinch ginger (optional)
garlic oil and sesame oil for cooking
black and white sesame seed

1) Heat up a little garlic oil and sesame oil mixed together in a wok or frypan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough (it should move quickly when the pan is tilted, like water), cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes and add them to the pan. Stir to coat, careful not to break the cubes. Cook until golden.

2) In a small jar, combine 1 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp water. Place the lid on the jar tightly and shake until the cornstarch and water is completely blended. This creates what is called a slurry, which is used to thicken sauces.

3) Take a saucepan or pot and bring water to boil. Add your noodles to the water and turn the heat down to simmer. Follow the directions on the package about how long to cook them; generally noodles should be tender but not too limp. Once they are done, place in a colander and rinse them with cold water. Stir thoroughly, to be sure you have completely rinsed the noodles.

4) Once the tofu is golden, it is ready for the sauce. If you are going to include the eggs, break two eggs and whisk them together until blended, in a bowl. Add this to the frypan and stir to coat the tofu and cook the eggs. Add the sesame seed and stir.

5) Take the jar with the cornstarch mixture and shake it again once more, to be sure it is blended thoroughly. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, chilli powder, sea salt, sugar, and any other spices you would like, then shake it again until it is blended. You can add a little more water if you are concerned it will not be enough sauce, but be sure not to add too much or the sauce will be too thin. Add it one spoonful at a time, shaking again after each one.

6) Add the noodles to the tofu in the pan and stir, then quickly add the blended sauce, shaking it one last time before it is added. Stir completely, and the sauce will thicken very quickly. Serve while hot!

Tips and Such

- If the sauce doesn't thicken in the pan, make another slurry and add small amounts until it starts to thicken, stirring it into the pan's contents after every addition. If the sauce is too thick, you can just add small amounts of water and stir it around until it becomes more manageable.

- You can cook this dish at lower temperatures, but it takes the slurry being brought to somewhere near the heat needed for a boil, for it to thicken. If the sauce is not thickening, it may simply be that you need to turn up the heat!

- You can add whatever you would like to this recipe, since it is such a simple one. Many vegetables will add a delicious dimension to the taste! Sweet bell pepper, water chestnuts, and peas are just a few tantalising possibilities.

- You can use flour for thickener, but it will impart a certain taste onto the sauce that may not be desirable. Cornstarch does not tend to put very much of its own flavour into sauces, which is why it is preferred; potato starch (called katakuriko in Japanese, as it is often found in Japanese groceries) is also another excellent starch that thickens sauces quickly without changing the desired flavour.

Here are a couple of pictures for you to enjoy! The first is the tofu made with a textured vegan seafood substitute that added a savoury, chewy element.

The second is the tofu with whole wheat noodles, and egg.

As you can see, this recipe is mouth-watering, and it's so easy to make! It takes less than half an hour at most, and you can make it with very inexpensive ingredients.

In this chilly season, it's wonderful to have such a nice simple dish to warm us up from the inside out!

Enjoy your spicy sesame tofu!

};) Dhiar <3