Winter Warmer Recipe: Finnish salmon and potato soup

Published on Yahoo Lifestyle UK & Ireland on 17th January 2014:

Finnish salmon potato soup

When I was in Helsinki last year, I found it hard to describe Finnish cuisine beyond calling it “Nordic”. The reason, I discovered, was that Finnish cuisine takes influence from its neighbours in Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic states.

To help me define what is Finnish, I asked a few of the foodies I met along the way to list what they thought were typical Finnish ingredients. The results were surprisingly similar.

Potatoes, berries, fish and mushrooms consistently came up top. Beyond that, there was also reindeer and liquorice.

Thinking back over some of the meals I had in Helsinki, these ingredients seem obvious now.

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Tunisian recipe: sticky, crunchy makroud

Published on Yahoo Lifestyle UK & Ireland on 13th January 2014:

Tunisian makroud

On a recent trip to Tunisia, I discovered a deliciously addictive sweet pastry called makroud. The snack is found mainly in Tunisia and Algeria but has also spread to Morocco and other parts of Northern Africa.

It’s essentially date paste wrapped in semolina, deep fried and then doused in honey. It’s rich, like baklava but less sweet, with a nutty crunch like biscuits.

It’s not the easiest thing to make as the semolina can be quite crumbly but you’ll find yourself eating one after the other until they’re all gone.

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Eat right now: sugar snap peas

Published on Yahoo Lifestyle UK & Ireland on 26th August 2013:

Sugar snap peas always have that hint of summer about them even when the sun is no longer shining. It’s that juicy snap, heard when you break a pod in half with the littlest of efforts.

The peas inside are tiny, almost non-existent. But then it is all about the outer shells. Thick and lusciously green, they are packed with that flavoursome new season pea taste with just a touch more sweetness than you’d expect.

They’re great raw in salads but I like to blanch them ever so briefly just to bring out their vibrant hue. And here in this recipe, they’re cooked so gently and tossed through a dressing that it’s almost like a salad. Only it’s served warm.

Sugar snap pears are only around from June to about September so quick, snap them up before they’re all gone.

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How to make jiaozi (Chinese dumplings)

Published on Yahoo Lifestyle UK & Ireland on 4th February 2013:

Dumplings by Qin Xie

There’s probably nothing more perfect than jiaozi for a Chinese New Year celebration – it’s the sort of dish that families make together and enjoy together.

Jiaozi, or Chinese dumplings as it’s more frequently known, are essentially little parcels of pastry wrapped filling. It’s traditionally considered a dish from Northern China although it’s enjoyed all over China.

The pastry is made with just water and flour while the filling can be almost anything you want. Most fillings are meat based and vary from region to region, like pork and garlic chives or beef and celery.

Here’s a recipe for pork and Chinese leaf dumplings:

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How to make tangyuan (glutinous rice balls)

Published on Yahoo Lifestyle UK & Ireland on 4th February 2013:

Tangyuan, Qin Xie

The name sounds rather strange even before you translate it (the Chinese characters for “tang” and “yuan” mean “soup” and “sphere” respectively) but it’s really just a sweet filling wrapped in a glutinous rice flour pastry and served in its cooking liquid.

In China, the most popular flavour for tangyuan is black sesame but it’s also commercially available in flavours such as rose, peanut and red bean.

There are lots of theories about when to enjoy tangyuan, which varies according to the part of China that you’re from. Some have it at the turn of midnight for Chinese New Year while others have it on the 15th day of the festival.

Either way, the most important part of the tangyuan tradition is about family. Not only is it something to be shared with family during New Year celebrations but, in Chinese, tangyuan also sounds like “tuanyuan”, or reunion.

Here’s a recipe for easy peanut butter tangyuan:

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