Ma Po Tofu—Without the Pork Bits

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Winter is not giving up a tough fight in these last few days of its demise. I am eagerly awaiting the spring equinox as if magically all will be warmer and sunnier on my side of the earth. The morning light is showing itself earlier so that when I walk out the door at 7:15 a.m. to accompany Mila to school we no longer walk in the dark.

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Despite the cold, even the birds are beginning to think spring is here. I am stirred awake by their morning chorus at 5 a.m. It’s a wild guess because I don’t actually rise out of bed to check the time. It is still nocturnally dark out at this time so I snooze for at least another hour to their songs. I love this bit of my day.

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I crave spicy and stewy-ish types of meals in cold weather and this very simple Ma Po tofu dish hits the spot. My small bag of special fermented black beans, heidouchi (黑豆豉), given to me by my aunt in Taiwan is tucked in the freezer to use for dishes like these—definitely not to be confused with Mexican black beans please! They are basically dried out soy beans fermented with salt. It’s not quite the same as the jarred black bean sauce which you will find easily in the Asian grocers but you can use it as a replacement. These beans are pungent and natural. They really offer an umami tone to any dish. Have a poke around in the Asian grocery stores to see if you can find some and give it a try! They can easily be added to poultry, seafood, meat and vegetable dishes.

Ma Po Tofu- Without the Pork Bits


• 500 grams soft tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn
• 1 tablespoon fermented black beans(豆豉)
• A knob of ginger, freshly grated
• 3 cloves garlic, smashed
• 1 tablespoon spicy doubanjiang(豆瓣酱), fermented bean paste
• 1 teaspoon Five Spice powder
• 30 grams wood ear black fungus mushrooms, rehydrated (in tepid water for an hour) and chopped—optional
• 1 cup vegetable broth or water
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 3 tablespoons water
• A couple of scallions, chopped


Add oil in a wok or large cooking pan over medium heat.

Fry the Szechuan peppercorn and black beans. Stir for about a minute then add the ginger, garlic and the spicy fermented bean paste. Stir until fragrant.

Add the chili powder, five spice powder, and the wood ear black fungus mushroom. Stir for about another minute.

Add the vegetable broth and bring it to a low boil.

Slide in the tofu. Stir gently making sure not to break the tofu into smaller bits.

Drizzle in the cornstarch water mixture, cover the wok and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped scallions when ready to serve.


I toned this recipe down but it’s probably still spicier for those who are not accustomed to the citrusy numbing tones of the Szechuan peppercorn. Usually this is topped over a bowl of rice.

Chinese Style Cucumbers—Smashed!

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There’s something very curious going on with the weather. We still have a good month to go before spring but it’s been off with the coats and on with the sunglasses for the past few days this week. Maybe not so curious after all but more frightening, something called global warming.

It’s hard to think about doomsday when it’s all very cheery with the sun shining upon the kids at play in the park and cool looking couples with their shades on sipping their mid day drinks with no intent on leaving their sunny spots on the terrasse. This city is filled with smiling tourists and French families on the school winter break from the other zones in France lending to this collective positive vibe.

Meanwhile I can’t get a spot on that terrasse cause it’s too damn crowded so I’m home taking it out on the only thing I could find in my fridge—cucumbers! So there you have it, a crunchy and refreshing cucumber garlicky salad on a fine, warm winter’s day.

Chinese Style Cucumber—Smashed


• 1 large organic cucumber, peeled and cut length-wise, de-seeded
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 3 cloves garlic, smashed
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari sauce (gluten-free option)
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 red chili pepper, sliced thin, use accordingly


After washing the cucumber, peel the skin, de-seed, and cut it lengthwise. I like to keep some of the skin on for the added texture and color so I alternate between peeling the skin on and off the cucumber.

Pat it dry.

Lay the cucumber cut side down on a chopping board and with a cleaver (using the flat side) or a wide surface knife lay it on top of the cucumber and smash down on it with your other hand. Once you’ve smashed down on all the length of the cucumber, chop into bite size pieces to separate them.

Transfer it to a strainer and add the salt and sugar. Be sure to mix well.
Optional: Let it sit in the strainer above a bowl for 10-15 minutes. Discard the liquid.

In a small bowl combine the cucumber and the last five ingredients, then toss.

Ready to serve.

Green Apple Leek Salad With Crispy Chickpeas

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Fried chickpeas have been on my mind for nearly a month now.  Something I never considered doing until I ate some at a restaurant in Belleville called Le Grand Bain.  I remember crunching on this little pea that was mixed in with a salad that my gal pals and I ordered and thinking Yum, what is this crispy thing?  Chickpeas are a favorite in our family but we usually make regular hummus, beetroot hummus or just have it whole as a snack or mixed in with salads.

I was just waiting for the right time to experiment...


All set up in my kitchen lab,  I patted dry the chickpeas and placed them carefully into the frying pan.  After 5 minutes of sizzling, they started to brown.   I fished them out with a slotted spoon and let them cool down.  Et voilà!   Here we have some rather crispy tasting snacks with a creamy interior.    You can shake these fried chickpeas up in a paper bag with some herbs and spices or for those with a sweet tooth just add some brown sugar to the mix. 

I'm always looking for toppings that I can sprinkle and toss over a soup or a salad.    This is at the top of my list for the moment so you'll be seeing it in my future posts.

Green Apple Leek Salad With Crispy Chickpeas


• 3 leeks, julienned
• 2 Granny Smith apple, match sticks
• 1 cup chickpeas, fried
• 170 grams crab meat, shredded (6 ounce tin or 1/2 cup ), or smoked salmon (optional)


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• black pepper, adjust accordingly


Cut the top green part of the leeks off.  You can get rid of the outer stiff layer.  Wash the rest of the greens and store for use another time (vegetable brouillon).

Cut the end of the leek off and then slit the leek down the middle to rinse out any dirt.  Pat it dry.

To cut the leeks into fine julienne slices, fold the leek over in half (not lengthwise), press down and slice thinly lengthwise.

Prepare your steamer basket.  Place the leeks, cover , and steam. 

You want the leeks to be slightly soft but not completely. 

Then take it out of the steamer and run under cold water.

Pat it dry with some paper towels or a clean tea towel.

Fried Chickpeas:

Add some olive oil up to an inch and a half in a medium size pan or pot.   Turn on heat up to high.  Drop in a chickpea to see if the oil is hot enough to fry in.  The chickpea should sizzle.   Add the rest of the chickpeas making sure not to crowd and fry them up for about 5 minutes or until they start turning brown.  They should taste crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Use a slotted spoon to take them out and lay them over a fine wire rack (I used a mesh skimmer) or paper towels.



In a large serving bowl add the vinaigrette to the leeks and mix thoroughly.  Let it marinate for about 15 minutes.

Combine the apples and the chickpeas and toss.  Add some black pepper accordingly.


Raw Vegetable Maki Wrapped in Chicory Leaves and Nori


Here's a salad wrap to make our winter days brighter.  The idea of eating a salad on this very cold, blustery day was as dim as the grey, gloomy winter sky.   I just made some makizushi for the kids last night.  With no rice left, nor any salmon and avocados, I had a sugarloaf chicory staring at me from the fridge and my leftover cauliflower fluff (plain, grated cauliflower).  

I had been saving the sugarloaf chicory to use as a leaf wrap for another dinner endeavor but that moment was now.   So I seized it and pulled out whatever else I could find from the fridge.

Oh and by the way, cauliflower fluff is used as a rice replacement for those Paleo followers.   Hmpf—I love rice too much to do that!

Well, I found myself in a situation you see... and guess where the cauliflower fluff ended up?  In my maki.

I quickly mixed up some tahini-tamari sauce with a splash of lemon juice to dip these relishing novelties into.   And there you have it, a bite size salad bursting in your mouth.


Raw Vegetable Maki

INGREDIENTS//Yields 1 roll

• 1 sheet of nori
• Lettuce leaves (I had radicchio and sugarloaf chicory on hand)
• Carrot, raw and match stick size
• Beetroot, raw and match stick size
• Cauliflower, grated


Place a piece of nori flat on a bamboo rolling mat lining up the edges.  Starting from the bottom up line a layer of your choice of salad greens until half way up.  I used winter salad leaves like radicchio and sugarloaf chicory since I had it on hand and to add some color to the maki.

Spread your grated cauliflower evenly over your salad greens.  Then add a layer of carrots and beetroot.

To roll, lift the mat up, roll and tuck in the edge of the nori.  Continue to roll over the contents while applying some pressure until you reach the top.  You want the roll to be tight so the ingredients don't fall out.

Slighty wet the top edge of the nori with water to seal the maki.

Using a sharp knife cut the roll in half, then in thirds for 6 bite size pieces.


Sugarloaf Chicory Kimchi

I had a sugarloaf chicory on hand taking up a lot of refigerator space so I thought I would cram it all into a jar.  Yep I did, but before that I massaged my chicory leaves with coarse salt, let it rest, rinsed it out, made the magic spicy sauce and then jammed it all into a mason jar, and sealed it shut. 

I forgot about it for a day or two, checked in on it to see if it was alive, opened the lid and heard it wheeze, sealed it back shut again, and forgot about it for a week and a half in the fridge letting it ferment before I stuffed myself silly with it for the rest of the week that followed.

Call it an Asian (Korean) spicy sauerkraut if you like but it's kimchi.  Kimchi is usually made with napa cabbage or daikon radish and is fermented.  It goes through a lactofermentation process where all the natural bacteria feast on the sugar and starches in the food producing lactic acid.  This creates an environment for the good bacteria to foster and preserves the food from the bad bacteria.  The good bacteria known as probiotics are believed to help in digestive health.  Kimchi is a great additional source of probiotics. 

I consider myself a freshman in a Fermentaion 101 class so I often poke and look around in what I am fermenting, stick my nose in it and sniff about a hundred times before I ingest it.  So far to date, it all tastes good to me and no belly aches!



Cauliflower Parsnip Purée

The parsnip seems to be a star vegetable this winter.  It just had a portrait write-up about it in the French journal Libération with a soup recipe included by Alain Ducasse.

Parsnip is the je ne sais quoi in soups and it's what adds that special something to the stock of the pot-au-feu.  In the ancient times, the Roman Emperor Tiberius imported this vegetable from Germania and it was used to strike the bell in the bell tower.  In the Middle Ages, it was one of the vegetables cultivated by the monasteries.  It was overshadowed by the growing popularity of the potatoes in the 18th century and has just finally made its comeback to the dining room table.

Cauliflower Parsnip Purée


• 1 Parsnip, peeled and chopped
• 500 grams cauliflower, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, roasted
• 2 dollops crème fraîche
• 30 grams butter
• 1/2 bunch chives


In a large pot of water add some coarse sea salt and the parsnip and bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer.

Cook for 15 minutes or until you can stab a fork through the parsnips.  

Add the cauliflower and cook until tender.

Pour your parsnips and cauliflower into a colander and drain.

Transfer it to a large mixing bowl (if mashing by hand) otherwise transfer into a food processor.

Combine the rest of the ingredients, garlic and crème fraîche. 

Mash with a fork or blend it all together in your food processor.  Adjust accordingly with some coarse sea salt. 

Garnish with some chopped chives.



Parsnip, The New Carrot Cake.

Parnsip, the new carrot cake.

Parnsip, the new carrot cake.

If you love carrot cake, you'll love the parsnip cake.  Try replacing your carrots with this great winter vegetable.  I happen to have an abundance of them in my weekly basket these days and cakes seem the way to go with the kids' palate.

As the Thai's say, "same same but different".  It's a great alternative to using carrots if you happen to have plenty of them and looking for something to do with it. 

Last but not least, don't forget to grate some lemon zest over your frosting for that extra zing!

Parsnip Cake

INGREDIENTS//Yields 1 loaf

• 2 eggs, whole
• 150 gram packed brown sugar
• 150 ml (3/4 cup) canola oil (non-gmo)
• 150 gram all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
•1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2.5 cups parsnip, grated
• 50 grams walnuts, chopped


• 150 grams cream cheese, softened
• 30 grams butter, softened
• 65 grams (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
• 1/2 lemon (untreated), zest


In a large mixing bowl, add your eggs, sugar, and oil and mix.

When well combined add the flour in three parts.

Add the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until well combined.

Finally fold in your grated parsnip and walnuts.

Preheat your oven to 175° celsius (350° F).

Pour the batter into a loaf mold and pop it in the over for 30 minutes or until you can slide a knife into it and pull it out cleanly.  Take it out of the oven and let it cool.


In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter.  You can hand beat these or use a beater mixer.

Add in spoonfuls of the sugar at a time and beat until smooth. 

Spread it over your cooled cake and sprinkle the lemon zest over it.




White Bean Spinach Soup

When it comes to white beans, I think cannellini.   I usually go for the ones in the tin and never really think much about them.  Then one day Lady Jo asked me, "what's a white bean?"  It seems like a simple question but it's a loaded one.  I answered definitively, "Cannellini", quickly followed by "Non?— oh, you mean haricot blanc?", then with a tinge of doubt,  "Flageolet?"

Well, a month later I find myself with a sack of white dried beans my husband picked up at the market and they were not any of the white beans mentioned above.  These are called Soissons beans and resemble a lima bean.

Apparently this variety of bean is culitvated in Soissons located in Aisne, a department north east of Paris.

These Soissons beans turned out to be plump and flavorful.  Now the question is to soak or not to soak your dried beans beforehand.

White Bean Spinach Soup


• 500 grams dried white beans
• 1 onion, chopped finely
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• 1.5 litre stock
• 150 grams spinach


Soak white beans in water overnight.


In a large Dutch oven, add some olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until the onions becomes translucent and turn golden.

Add the stock and beans, cook until boiling point, then turn down the heat, cover and let it simmer for about two to two and a half hours or until the beans are tender.

Add the spinach and keep the lid on.   Let it cook until it wilts, stirring occasionally.

Let the soup cool.  Scoop out the spinach and half of the beans and put it in a blender and whiz it up into a soup.  

Pour it back in with the rest of the beans.  Reheat on low temperature before serving.




Jerusalem Artichokes a.k.a Topinambour

Jerusalem artichokes straight from the earth.

Jerusalem artichokes straight from the earth.

Jerusalem artichokes known in France as topinambour can be eaten raw, cooked, and marinated.
Since the first time I heard of this vegetable was in France I figured there was some special French way of preparing them, and who better to get a recipe from—Mamie Jacotte.

Jerusalem artichokes also known as topinambour.

Jerusalem artichokes also known as topinambour.

I was quickly pre-empted by my husband who told me that it was a "war vegetable" , thus better to leave it behind and not be reminded of it.   Ok, so then I asked elsewhere and it seems most people either sauté these tuber vegetables, boil or steam them and make a purée with potatoes, or roast and make a gratin out of them.  Coat it with a whole lotta fat and I mean whole fat and you can't go wrong.

Then I read somewhere that it could be eaten raw.  I took a little bite out of it and it was sweet and crunchy like a water chestnut and slightly nutty and artichokey.  They are not at all from the same family and they do not come from Jerusalem (they come from Native America)—go figure!

Apparently, it supplies a lot more potassium than that of the banana (I understand that a banana is an easier snack to reach for) and a good choice of vegetable for people with type 2 diabetes since it is low in starch and high in carbohydrate inulin.

Winter Medley Salad


• 300 grams Jerusalem artichoke, julienned
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 100 grams beetroot, julienned
• 1 endive
• 100 grams of blue cheese, goat cheese, or sheep cheese, crumbled
• 50 grams walnut, roughly chopped
• balsamic vinegar
• extra virgin olive oil


Wash and peel your Jerusalem artichokes and place them in a bowl of water with lemon juice to keep them

from oxidizing.

Use a mandoline to julienne your Jerusalem artichokes and beetroot.  Transfer the raw, julienned vegetables into a medium size mixing bowl.

Add your roughly chopped endive to the mix.

Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, add your cheese and walnuts, and toss.


Instead of chopping your endive, you can use its full leaf and serve the salad in it.  Line a bunch of endives up together and fill it in with small portions of the salad.   This makes a pretty addition to the table.



Teff Patty. Have it your way...

Teff patty on a bed of sautéed cauliflower & pumpkin topped off with parsley and mozzarella.

Teff patty on a bed of sautéed cauliflower & pumpkin topped off with parsley and mozzarella.

Ok folks, so if you caught my last post you'll know that this is my second experiment with teff grains.  I've gone from pancakes to patties.  The original intent was to make a veggie burger for the family but I found that the patty didn't taste as good in between buns than simply plated on a bed of sautéed vegetables.

I tried a few different vegetable combinations with the teff grains but I kept getting mushy-like veggie patties which is why putting it in between buns didn't help the matter.    It's a stomach stuffer, if you know what I mean.

Roasted mushrooms seem like the ingredient to add for a meatier consistency.  You don't want your veggie patty to be waterlogged which is why roasting is the way to go—it gets rid of the liquid. 

Teff Burger

Teff Burger

I finally came up with this combination that I am sharing with you but I highly suggest plating it on some seasonal vegetables with a crunch to give an added texture to this dish.  I dressed it up as a burger for the kids who ate it willingly albeit with some raised brows.  So, have it your way...

Teff Patty

INGREDIENTS//Yields 10 medium size patties

• 100 grams (1/2 cup) teff grains
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 350 grams mushrooms, finely chopped and roasted
• 220 grams pumpkin, diced and roasted
• 100 grams (1/2 cup) mung beans
• 1 tablespoon flax seeds, grounded


Add two cups of vegetable stock and bring it to a boil.  Add the teff and let it cook on medium heat with a lid over it.   After 15-20 minutes, all the water should be absorbed and the teff will be cooked.  Let it cool.

In a pre-heated oven at 175°C, roast your mushrooms and pumpkin.    Then, take it out of the oven and let it cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the teff, mushrooms, pumpkin, cooked mung beans, and ground flaxseed.

Stir everything together.  Wet your hands and form individual patties.

Place your patties In a oil heated casserole on medium heat.  Cook each side for 4 minutes.

Serve it on a bed of crunchy veggies with a slice of cheese and you've got a veggie delight!



I used dried mung beans as it is a staple in our house.   Lentils, black beans, red beans can all be good replacements.  Experiment with the bean of your preference.




Céleri Rave Crab Salad

Céleri Rave, Celery Root, Celeriac

Céleri Rave, Celery Root, Celeriac

There's a great quote by Diana Vreeland,  something along the lines about "accentuating a model's flaws".   There is superficial beauty but then there is all that other beauty:  that one offbeat mole, a freckle-filled face, scars, and lines between your eyebrows, on top of your forehead, and around the eyes from lifetime narratives.  

I guess that's what happened when I saw the celeriac—even its name sounds ill-favored (but not ill-flavored)—with all its warty exterior and bumpy bulges, it piqued my interest enough to wonder what was inside of it and what it tasted like. 

The celeriac is a root vegetable and is commonly served in France as a céleri rémoulade— sounds fancy, n'est-ce pas?  It's basically grated celery root mixed in with lemon juice to keep its color white, and mixed in with some mayonnaise.   The taste of it brought back memories of the Waldorf salad that I actually ate at the Waldorf Astoria back in the day.   Maybe the fancy name?  More likely, the celery based taste.  So I had to toss in the apple, the crab meat and the walnuts, making it a slight upgrade to the basic céleri rémoulade.  If you like the Waldorf salad, you'll enjoy this one.

Céleri Rave Crab Salad


• 500 grams of céleri rave, grated
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 2 carrots, grated
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon ginger, fresh and grated
• 2/3 cup homemade mayonnaise or store bought mayo
• 170 grams crab meat, shredded (6 ounce tin), or 1/2 cup
• 1 red apple or granny smith depending on your taste, grated
• 70 grams walnuts, crushed
• 1 bunch dill
• 1 scallion


Peel and rinse your céleri rave.

Cut into large chunks and grate your céleri rave using the large hole side of a grater box.

In a mixing bowl with the céleri rave, add the lemon juice.

Grate your carrots with the large hole side of a grater box.

Combine with the celery root, and add paprika and fresh ginger.

Mix in the mayonnaise.

Grate your apple with the large hole of the grater box, and add it to the combined ingredients.

Chop up your scallions and dill, crush your walnuts, and add them to the salad.  Stir in well and and then season with salt and pepper according to taste.


Homemade Mayo

INGREDIENTS//Yields 2/3 cup

• 1 egg, yellow
• 1 heaping teaspoon of Dijon mustard
• 1/2 cup of oil, neutral
• 2 tablespoons vinegar, apple cider or white wine vinegar
• Pinch of salt and pepper


In a small mixing bowl, add your egg yellow and whisk.  

Then whisk in the mustard.

When a creamy texture starts to form, gradually add in some oil (up to half) and continue to whisk at the same time.  The mayo will start to thicken.

When half the oil is used, add in a tablespoon of the vinegar and continue to whisk together.  The mayo will loosen up.

Then gradually add in the remaining oil, whisking, and finishing off the second tablespoon of vinegar, whisking it continuosly.

Add salt and pepper to taste.


Since the homemade mayo is so easy to make, I haven't bothered trying the store bought mayo for this recipe. 


Spinach Wonton Ravioli

Viktor, my six year old son, and I filled and folded 35 spinach wonton raviolis.  He's quite the meticulous one; thus, the model perfect raviolis.  It was a cold and gray afternoon, and we were cozy at home busy adding more raviolis to our lot and looking forward to dinner.


It snowed while Viktor and I were setting up to photograph these wonton raviolis.  We were so engrossed with how to steady the reflector while he would be assisting in the "snowfall scene" of the Parmigiano Reggiano that we didn't even notice the real snowfall scene happening right outside.  It was already late in the afternoon and we were racing against the light of day.   He was busy grating away at the cheese and I was looking through the view finder trying to capture the moment.  Through the view finder all I could see were these white, fluffy flakes of cheese falling upon the wonton raviolis and thinking to myself, this looks like a beautiful snow flurry scene and how nice it would be if it happened just once before spring comes upon us. 


Interrupted by a phone call from "Papa" asking if it was snowing by us because we get all kinds of different weather in different parts of this city at the same time—lo and behold, large, fluffy snowflakes tumbling down right under our nose, and not the Parmigiano Reggiano ones, but the real ones!  We dropped everything, and ran to get our boots, coats, mittens, bonnets and scraves—the whole bundle—so that we could play under the snowfall.

Spinach Wonton Ravioli

INGREDIENTS//yields 35 raviolis

• 500 grams spinach, fresh (cooks down to approx. 250 grams)
• 250 grams ricotta cheese
• 3 heaping tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
• 1 egg, divided (yellow and white)
• Pinch of nutmeg
• Salt and pepper, according to taste
• 1 pack wonton wrappers



Take a large pot and fill it with roughly 3 inches of water.   Bring the water to a boil.  Add your fresh spinach and some salt and close the cover to steam your spinach.   It should take about 5 minutes.  Once it is a saturated, dark and wilty green, take it off the stove and let it cool on the side.

Place your egg yellow, ricotta cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium size mixing bowl.  Mix by hand.

Take your cooled down spinach and squeeze out as much excess water possible.   Place it on a cutting board and chop finely.

Add the spinach to the mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix it together.

You can also transfer the spinach to a food processor and process with the rest of the ingredients until smooth if you don't want to mix by hand.

Lay out your wonton wrapper and place 1/2 tablespoon of the spinach filling in the center of the wrapper.

Brush some egg white along the edges of the wonton wrapper and take one corner of the wrapper and fold over to meet the other corner.  Gently press down from the center towards the edges to press out any air and to seal the wonton ravioli. 

Dust a baking sheet with some flour and line up your raviolis.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.   Add some raviolis making sure not to overcrowd them in the pot.  Boil for 3 minutes and take them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a plate.

Grate some Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzle some olive oil over the spinach wonton raviolis and serve immediately. 


The wonton skins are delicate and they cook quickly.   They will burst if you let them cook too long.
My mother in law gave me a great tip...I freeze a whole untreated lemon so that I have it on hand for use.
I grate a bit of this frozen lemon over my raviolis along with the grated cheese and olive oil for a fresh twist. 

Hijiki Tofu Patty

Reminiscing my Dojo days in NYC...

Back in the 80's and early 90's, vegetarian restaurants were few and far between to be found in New York.  As far as I could recollect there was Dojo which was a vegetarian friendly restaurant, Angelica's Kitchen, a vegetarian restaurant and Souen, a macrobiotic restaurant.   I ate at these places so often when I was a student at NYU that it has pretty much shaped the way I eat regularly.  I love all things tofu, sea vegetables, rice, beans, and veggies.  Give me a hijiki tofu burger from Dojo's or a dragon bowl from Angelica's anyday.

Since Dojo's hijiki tofu burger and their carrot ginger dressing recipe are top secret,  I can only do a rendition of it— but it's oooh, so goodThis is one of my fave comfort foods and it runs in the family. 

Serve it along with some brown rice, fresh raw veggies, topped off with Dojo style carrot ginger dressing. 



The yin and the yang of food...

Growing up my mum always told me "oh, you're too yin",  meaning that my body was deficient in qi or vital energy.  I always had cold hands and feet no matter how hot and humid it was on a summer day which is a symptom of yin.  I even wore socks under my duvet covers.   She would place bowls of tonic soups in front of me urging me to eat.  Soups such as yam and ginger slices, and Chinese herbal chicken soup comprising of korean ginseng, red dates (jujubes or hong zao), astragalus root (huang qi), codonopsis root (dang shen), and Chinese yam (huai shan) . Then there were the tea concoctions such as astragalus, red dates, and goji berries.   These replenishing soups and teas were to increase my yang in order to restore the balance in my body.  If I had chapped lips, I was suddenly told "oh, you're too yang", and that was quickly followed up with more soups and teas such as the green bean soup (mung beans or lu duo) with rock sugar and the chrysanthemum tea to increase my yin.

The relative levels of yin and yang in our bodies are continuously changing and they need to coexist harmoniously.  Most of us are naturally more yin or yang.   When out of balance symptoms can be observed like those cold feet and chapped lips of mine.

Hijiki is one of hundreds of seaweed types that can be classified as a brown seaweed and is considered yang.  Seaweeds break down into three broad basic categories: red algae, green algae and brown algae.  You can buy dried hijiki at any of the Japanese or Korean food stores on or near rue St Anne in the 1er or 2e arrondisement of Paris.  It is first soaked in water and then drained to use in cooking with other ingredients.

Hijiki Tofu Patty


Soak hijiki in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes.
Press and drain tofu for 20-30 minutes.

INGREDIENTS//yields 8-10 patties or 4 burger-size patties

• 5 grams dried hijiki seaweed
• 12 ounces firm tofu
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon ginger, fresh and finely grated
• 1 medium carrot, grated
• pinch of ground white pepper
• 1 tablespoon white miso
• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
• 1 teaspoon tamari sauce
• 2 scallions (white and light green parts finely chopped)
• 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted


Soak dried hijiki in warm water for 30 minutes, rinse and then drain.  Set it aside.

To rinse and drain liquid from the tofu.  Cut through tofu in 1/2 inch slices and press between heavy cutting boards to drain any excess water for about 30 minutes or simply use a cheese cloth to squeeze out the excess water.  The tofu will be crumbled anyway.

Sauté the carrots, garlic, and ginger in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until the carrots are limp.  Add a pinch of white pepper.  In a bowl, add the miso and crumble the tofu.  Use your hands to mix the crumbled tofu and the miso paste together. 

Stir in the cooked carrots and the hijiki.  Then add the tamari sauce, sesame oil, scallions, and sesame seeds. 
Mix it all together.

Form the mixture into round patties and place them on a baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes at 175° C (350° F).

Carrot Ginger Dressing

INGREDIENTS//yields 1.5 cup dressing

• 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
• 1/2 thumbs length fresh ginger
• 1 tablespoon sweet white miso
• 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons roasted sesame seed oil
• 1/4 cup grapeseed oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil
•  4 tablespoons water


In a blender or food processor add the carrots, shallot, and ginger and pulse until finely chopped.

Scrape down the sides with a spatula.  Add the miso, vinegar and sesame seed oil and blend together.

Add some water and slowly drizzle in the oil. 


I also like to add zucchini to the hijiki tofu patty mix.  You can simply add a half zucchini (grated) in with the carrot and sauté together.   Then follow the rest of the directions.  As I've said before any extra veggies I can sneak into a recipe makes me feel good, especially when I watch my kids gobble it up!