recipe

Smashed Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Papa Hsin • Brunch • The mighty small potato

Every day is brunch day when you have smashed roasted potatoes. I had these for the first time at a friends house last month and could not forget the taste of them. Crispy, soaked in flavour, the perfect size to consume in one single bite. I don’t think I can ever go back to normal roasted potatoes. I skimmed over a recipe online and made these for a belated father’s day brunch. They were everyone’s favourites and are now requested on the menu for when my aunties visit in the fall.

Growing up, Papa Hsin worked in foreign affairs and was the person responsible for cultivating my exotic palette (I was the child that hated Chinese food). Papa loves hosting and it was not uncommon for me to come home to a house full of strangers cooking and eating. Once, I came home to an Indian chef cooking curry in the kitchen with an entire butchered lamb he had brought over in a sack. The kitchen smelled like curry for days and I remember eating curry till I was nauseous.

Some of my best childhood memories with Papa Hsin were the fruit markets we would visit on the weekend. It would be the two of us — on one scooter, trying to fit as many fruit boxes—papayas, pineapples, and mangos we could carry home before eating our weight in fruit. Now that Papa Hsin is getting old, there are times where there seems to be an ocean of cultural and generational differences between us. But there is always one thing I can count on connecting over — food.

I served these smashed potatoes with roasted vegetables, fried eggs, sausages and made them again the following week. They are really good for any meal or thrown together for a light snack. The trick is to roast them till they are crispy, on the edge of burning and eat them while they are hot.

Smashed Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

Bag of small potatoes
Olive oil
Few cloves of fresh chopped garlic
Salt + pepper
Thyme, rosemary, or herbs you have on hand

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit. Wash potatoes and put in a microwaveable bowl. Fill with water until potatoes are half submerged. Put saran wrap over the bowl and poke a few holes in it. Microwave for 5–6 minutes or until potatoes are soft and easily pierced with a fork. Some potatoes may explode. It is to be expected. Drain potatoes and let cool.

2. Spread potatoes evenly on a baking sheet. Mash potatoes flat with your hands or with a spatula. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Season with herbs. Toss or mix with your fingers to coat. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan.

3. Roast potatoes until brown and crispy. 25–30 minutes. Flip potatoes after 15 mins. Try not to eat too many of them. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Me + Papa Hsin with happy brunch faces.
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A Recipe: Roasted Korean pears with Ginger

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This post has been updated on my website here.

One of my new year goals for 2019 is to write more — and what better subject to write about than food? Asian culture is a culture that revolves heavily around food. The making, the eating, the sharing. Oftentimes revolved around gossip, singing, or maybe a game of mahjong for the uncles and aunties. It is something I am really excited to share.

These pears were grown by Papa Hsin in his yard in Canada. As Asian parents go, I didn’t grow up knowing my dad as he spent a lot of time working. As a child, sometimes the only interaction we will have is when he signed my report cards every week (a moment where I will tremble slightly, even though I have always been a top student). But food — will forever be a way Asian parents show love. A catch-up session with Papa Hsin will always start with him pulling out fruit, steamed buns or something he made from his bag and handing it over with a smile. I think it is his peace offering for all the smiles he didn’t give me when he signed my report cards.

Similar to me, my dad grew up in many places. One of my favorite subjects to ask him about is the time when he lived in Saudi Arabia and worked as a martial arts trainer for the police force. The stories of endless deserts, lizard hunting with bearded men, drinking camel milk and getting lost in sandstorms. Terrorism, female rights. They were the stories that teleported me to faraway places and planted in me a seed for travel and social justice. In fact — one of my career goals as a high school student was to become a journalist and cover stories of war and in the Middle East. Of course, that didn’t end up happening and today, both of us settled in Canada where I work as a photographer and him as a retired officer. I like to think that we are both finding our peace and place here. Him in his garden, hosting dinners with Chinese neighbors and me in the kitchen, behind the camera, or off backpacking to another exciting location.

Food to me will always be magic. It is the art of creating something from simple and good ingredients. Food is a vehicle for stories, culture, and tradition. A delicious reminder that we are cared for and thought of.

So here to the new year, I hope it will be one filled with stories and meals shared over tables with conversations that are long and good.

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Roasted Korean pear with ginger

Ingredients:

• 4 Korean pears. Sliced in half with the seeds removed

• 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger*

• A dash of ground cinnamon

• A squeeze of lemon juice

• 1 tbs brown sugar (opt out if you aiming for less sugar)

Directions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 

2. Place pears on a baking tray with cut sides up. Sprinkle ground ginger, cinnamon powder, lemon juice on pears. Top with brown sugar.

3. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender. 

4. Let the pears cool before serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream. Preferably with a friend. Enjoy.

*I like to use organic ginger since I find it more pungent. I’ve also found ginger jam to be a good substitute.

A photo of me and Papa in his yard. Shot on film in 2017.

Happy New Year!

A Recipe: Hedgehog Shortbread Cookies

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I have found in life that art happens during unexpected moments. For example, it happens through an idea you get on your morning walk. It happens during a conversation over Chinese noodles or on a day when your shoot gets canceled on account of rain. Art happens in those times when you find yourself stuck indoors, with no photos to edit and your to-do list (almost) done aside from figuring out your taxes.

That’s when you know you need to bake cookies. Because art is like a cookie monster. When you hear the cookie monster rumbling, you gotta feed it. Preferably hedgehog cookies.

So here they are. Brown, crunchy,  irresistible little devils covered with toasted pecans and chocolate. 100% hard work and 100% worth it.

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Not anymore

You will need:

• 1 cup non-salted butter
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• dark chocolate chips
• finely chopped toasted pecans

Directions:

1. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add in dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix well.

2. Form cookies. Use an ice cream scoop if you’d like. Roll into ball form, forming one pointed end. Space out the cookies as they expand! Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or when they are light brown on the bottom. Cool on rack.

3. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave (use 30-second intervals). Dip or cover hedgehogs with chocolate. Use a spoon to cover with crushed nuts. Scoop remaining chocolate into bag and pipe two eyes and one nose.

4. Enjoy!

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* Makes around two dozen hedgehogs
* For nut-free version substitute nuts with graham crackers

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Passing these out at my Amelia Hedgehog Book Signing. If you are in Vancouver July 21st do show up for one and come say hello!

Till next time.

A Recipe: Blueberry Arugula Salad

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The wonderful thing about growing up is having a lot of your childhood wishes come true, like photographing llamas or picking fresh berries on a blueberry farm.

I took the liberty of the weekend and drove out to the unknown territory of Maple Ridge, known for it’s fruit, vegetable farms, and llamas.

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I have always wanted to photograph a llama. The small black one is only two days old.

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I’ve never seen a blueberry bush growing up in Asia and I’m proud to admit that I must have ingested a couple pounds of blueberries that day. It’s safe to say that you can never get enough of the good things and berries are one of them.

There is no better way to end a blueberry picking day than visiting llamas on a farm. The owners were so kind to show us around and I got to pet a few that were being trained. It was an extraordinary experience.

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Llama with a very attractive backside

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Llamas are like large fluffy dogs with very long necks

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Mama llama with baby llama. She was so protective I couldn’t get too close but this is one of my favourites.

Without further ado, here is the salad recipe with photos. Tastier when you pick the blueberries yourself.

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Blueberry Arugula Salad with Lemon Honey Dressing:

*Serves 4
SALAD:
5 ounces baby arugula
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup roasted almonds

1/2 cup crumbled feta

LEMON HONEY DRESSING:

3 tablespoons lemon juice (half a lemon)
squeeze of honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
sprinkle of salt & pepper
 
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You know you’re cool when you mix your salad in a beer bucket.

Directions:

  1. Whisk together dressing ingredients.
  2. Combine the arugula, blueberries and dressing  in a large bowl.
  3. When ready to serve, sprinkle almonds and feta on top

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*Serve with chilled sweet tea

I will leave you with my new favourite quote from Edward Abbey:

It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Till next time.

French day and a recipe

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I just want to share how blessed I am to have cool and lovely friends that I can’t help but blog about. It’s not easy when you have a habit of packing your bags and hopping on planes to new cities every once in a while. This is Michiko- freshly back from her backpack trip in Europe. One of my lady partners in crime in carrying out whatever art idea we have in our heads. Also, those kind of friends who have your back and tell you how awesome you are on bad days and such.

We celebrated her return by cooking up a picnic. The theme was meant to be French, but evolved to roasted veggies (asparagus, zucchini and mushrooms), Avocado, shrimp and tomatillo salad, Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Arugula and Avocado, yam chips and of course wine.

To share with you this fabulous pineapple juice recipe I am just crazy about – tasty, simple and worth chopping up a pineapple on hot summer days.

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You will need:

1. Pineapple (cut into chunks)

2. Several mint leaves

3. water

Instructions:

1. Add Pineapple + water + mint

2. Blend

3. Add mint for garnish

There you have it, easy as pie and such a good start for any occasion.

FRENCH DAY (10 of 16)Bon Appetite!