Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

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One of the ways to keep a January detox interesting is to include amazing, flavorful dishes on your menu. If you ever crave some really bold flavors like I do, try this Asian inspired sweet and sour soup by Fuss-Free Cooking. It really hits the mark. Enjoy it below!

Chinese Hot Sour Soup
Serves 4

You will need:

– 1 tbsp oil
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 25g (0.8 ounce/ about 6-7  mushrooms) shitake mushrooms, sliced
– 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes *adjust to taste*
– 3 fresh tomatoes, roughly diced
– 2 cups of chopped kale ( I used the curly variety)
– 1 cup frozen corn kernels
– 4 cup low sodium chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth also)
– A dash of soy sauce *adjust to taste; you may need more if you make your own broth*
– 1 tbsp sesame oil (you can add more if you prefer a stronger scent)
– 2 dashes of white ground pepper
– 3 tbsps cornstarch
– 1/2 cup cold water
– 2 eggs, beaten
– Spring onions, chopped for garnish *optional*

To prepare:

In a large pot (or a wok), heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil and then add mushrooms, garlic and chili flakes. Saute over low heat until the garlic becomes aromatic. Add kale, tomatoes and sweet corn and stir to combine with the fragrant ingredients. Pour the broth into the vegetable mixture and let it simmer with a lid on over high heat until it starts to boil. Turn the flame over to the low and simmer for another 10 minutes after the broth reaches its boiling point. In the meantime, mix the cornstarch with cold water. Remove the lid. Over high heat and while the soup is bubbling vigorously, add the cornstarch mixture and stir to combine with the soup. The soup will thicken as it boils. Keep it boiling until it reaches your desired consistency. Then gradually pour the beaten eggs into the soup in a circular motion (rather streaming the egg in one spot). Allow the eggs to be fully cooked before you start stirring the soup. This is to ensure the eggs do not cloud the soup and they should appear ribbon-like. Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce and white pepper. Serve immediately.

Soup recipe and photo from Fuss-Free Cooking.

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Fresh Artichoke Salad

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This recipe for fresh artichoke salad is zesty and delicious. I also love how surprising the ingredients are. It makes an excellent side for Juice January, and more details about the salad and its origins can be found in my book, Cocktail Italiano! Tip: make sure that the artichokes are very fresh and tender.

Roberto’s Fresh Artichoke Salad
Serves 8

You will need:
– 2 pounds (about 20) tender baby artichokes Note: you may substitute the interior soft leaves and heart of larger artichokes, but do not use the tough outer leaves
– 2 lemons, halved
– 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
– 2 ounces Parmesan

To prepare:

Trim away any tough outer leaves of the artichokes to expose their tender pale green interior. Using a knife with a serrated blade, cut off the spiky top 1/3 of the artichokes. (Note: baby artichokes will not have the spikes.) Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layers around the base and stem.

Using a mandolin, slice the artichokes paper-thin and transfer to a medium bowl.

Squeeze the lemon halves over the artichokes, and toss with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, and use a potato peeler to shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve in small bowls.

 

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Warm Winter Spinach Cauliflower Salad

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This salad is the perfect winter night supper. Smoky, sweet and filling, it’s very satisfying.

It is a vegetarian recipe, and if you leave off the cheese or substitute with vegan cheese, it is a great vegan recipe as well. Enjoy!

Spinach Cauliflower Salad

You will need:
– 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
– 1 can (14 ounce) chickpeas, drained
– 1 cup halved brussels sprouts
– 1 cup raw cashews
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tablespoons chili powder
– 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
– 3 cloves grated garlic
– 1 teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper
– 6 cups fresh spinach
– 2 seedless cucumbers, sliced
– ½  cup thinly sliced red onion
– 4 ounces grated high quality parmesan
– 1 avocado, sliced

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Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

You will need:
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– juice of 1 lemon
– 3 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
– 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper fullsizeoutput_76a3

To prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine the cauliflower, chickpeas, olive oil, chili powder, paprika, garlic, brussels sprouts, and cashews, and salt and pepper. Toss well to evenly coat. Place on a parchment-lined 18” x 13” rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast for 30- 40 minutes, or until fork-tender and lightly charred.
  • Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, cucumbers, cheese and sliced onion.
  • To make the vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar or bowl and shake (or whisk) until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
  • Toss the slightly cooled roasted cauliflower and chickpeas, nuts and brussels sprouts in with the spinach salad. Add a little of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Top the salad with avocado and Parmesan cheese, serve with the remainder of the vinaigrette. The salad keeps well for 3-4 days in the fridge.

xx Annette

 

 

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Get ready for Christmas 2020! (Seriously…)

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I know it sounds absolutely crazy to think about, but trust me: NOW is the time to prepare for the 2020 holiday season. As you clean-up wrapping paper, but away ribbons and decide which bags and boxes you plan to keep, it’s important to keep an eye on the prize: being organized next year. Here are a few things you can do to be prepared:

  1. To organize for 2020, make sure you shop for your holiday essentials over the next few days while they’re on sale. That way you will have them tucked away waiting for you next season! It’s such a wonderful surprise when the occasion arrives to be prepared.
  2. Go through your wrap and decor stash to see what is missing. Restock wrapping paper, ribbon and tags, scissors, tape, washi tape and other festive accouterments.
  3. Dispose of any ragged bits of wrapping paper, rolls that are empty or bags that are torn. Think about investing in a shredder to do the job and limit the trash. After all, shredded paper essentially doubles as confetti!
  4. Organize everything in a tidy box that can be slid into a closet, tucked under a bed, or put away in a basement or attic. In fact, invest in two wrapping boxes: one for the holiday season and one for any other wrapping needs that might arise. This way, you’re not digging through Santa tags and snowman paper when your BFF’s birthday comes along.

Any other holiday organizational tips we should share? I’d love to hear your tricks in the comments!

xx Annette

 

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Buon Natale! Celebrate the Holidays Italian Style with Fruit Cake

While perusing through my archives, I rediscovered this Italian fruit cake recipe and felt like with the holidays in full swing, I should share it again.

Skye McAlpine is a talented friend of mine. A few years ago, she sent over this absolutely stunning (and delicious) Italian fruit cake recipe. On Skye’s recommendation, this fruit cake is lovely with a glass of sweet red wine, like port. If you have a local wine merchant, pick up a port to finish a holiday dinner party. It’s such a fun ending to a fun evening.

While perusing through my archives, I rediscovered this Italian fruit cake recipe and felt like with the holidays in full swing, I should share it again.

Certosino di Natale: Honey, Pinenut and Almond Fruitcake
Serves: 8-10

For the cake, you will need:

– 40g raisins
– 40g mixed candied peel
– 30ml dry red wine or Marsala
– 320g flour
– 30g cocoa powder
– 2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
– 300g honey
– 40g butter
– 70g sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 3 tbsps water
– 60g pinenuts
– 200g blanched almonds
– 60g dark chocolate

For the decoration, you will need:

– 2 (heaped) tbsp apricot jam
– 2 tsp water
– 10-12 slices of glacé orange
– 3 glacé pears
– 10-12 glacé cherries
– handful of blanched almonds

To prepare:

Add the raisins and candied peel to a medium-sized bowl and pour in the wine, then leave to soak overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, grease and line a 25cm cake tin. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarb into a large mixing bowl and set to one side.

Add the butter to a small saucepan along with the sugar, honey, fennel seeds and cinnamon, then set over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir now and then to make sure that nothing burns on the bottom of the pan.

Add the raisins (with all their juices) and pine nuts to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, stir well.

Roughly chop the chocolate and the almonds, then add them too. Stir again.

Now pour in the melted butter and honey, and stir until well combined. The batter will be quite stiff, so stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. If needs be, add another splash of red wine.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45 mins to 1 hr, until it’s golden on top, and when you press a skewer into the cake, it comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

To decorate, spoon the jam into a small saucepan with the water; set over a low to medium heat until the jam becomes syrupy and begins to bubble. Take it off the heat and use a pastry brush to glaze the cake, then lightly press the glacé fruits and nuts on to the top of the cake leaving no gaps. Brush the remaining glaze over the nuts so that it is all shiny.

For those of you that need measurements in cups see the conversion chart here

Photos by: Skye McAlpine

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