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I’ve never cooked yuca until I went to Nicaragua last February. At first, I was intimidated of it because it looked so rough and hard. But once I cooked it and tasted how wonderful it was, I just couldn’t get enough of it! It was also one of a few vegetables that I could get pretty consistently around my neighborhood in Ometepe Island. Even when I came back to the states, I made boiled yuca several times. It sure beats mashed potatoes any day. And every time I eat it, it brings me back to the beautiful time I had in Nicaragua.

The hardest part of cooking yuca is cutting them through the hard skin in the beginning. It really feels like I am chopping wood. I just have to get a sharp big knife and wack through it. The cooking method of yuca is very similar to potato and other starchy tuberous vegetables. But unlike potato, yuca has a hard fibrous thick string in the middle, almost like a spine of the root which is inedible. It needs to be taken out after boiling the root.

This boiled yuca is a popular side dish in many Latin American countries. You can also deep fry yuca like thick potato steak fries or put it in a stew.

Enjoy~!

Die Kartoffelpuffer (Hochdeutsch) or Reibekuchen (various German dialects) exist in many European national cuisines. In Germany, potato pancakes are eaten either salty (as a side dish) or sweet as a main dish with apple sauce and sometimes extra sugar, with berries or cinnamon. They’re common at festivals, appearing at outdoor market stands, particularly during the colder season and at Christmas markets. In Swiss-German cuisine, they’re called Rösti and are usually savory rather than sweet.

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Korean chives or ‘buchu’ in Korean are one of my favorite vegetables in the spring time. They are kind of between the European chives and the spring onions in flavor, full of peppery lively aroma with mildly sweet after taste. This simple salad is perfect to accompany any meals to awaken your palate. You can get Korean chives in most Korean and Chinese grocery stores. You can also make delicious and easy pancakes with these chives, which is coming up soon here at Banchan tumblr!

Spinach-Mint Soup

Soup doesn’t really make for exciting food pictures, but I have a new one for you today. I think this one is perfect for spring. It’s a warm soup, but with a hint of coolness. Very mellow, rich, and pastel. Just like spring! This one’s very quick and easy to prepare. Also, a nice side or starter to get some of your greens! 

  • 2 TBSP oil (such as olive)
  • half a large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped (we’re blending at the end, don’t fuss)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 quart of stock, preferably no salt added
  • 2 cups plant milk (or milk if you’re of the dairy-eating clan)
  • 9-10 oz of baby spinach (those salad sized bags are that size)
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 15 oz can of coconut milk (or half and half; again, if you can eat dairy)

Directions: Heat up the oil in a large cooking pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and celery until they are soft and fragrant. Begin your salt layers with a pinch now and let’s stir. Pack the spinach and mint in and cover them with the milk and stock. Add a generous portion of your salt and black pepper, stir it, and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, bring it to low, cover it with a lid, and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Until the spinach is a shadow of its former self. Turn off the heat and let the contents cool significantly before blending. Add the coconut milk now and give it another few whizzes with the blender. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serves 8-10. 

PASSOVER SPINACH PIE

I can’t imagine Passover without this dish. Spinach pie which, during the year I top with buttered phyllo sheets and sometimes with puff pastry, depending on the occasion.

On Passover it gets a matzo crust – like this one, ready for the oven.

It’s a versatile dish too. You can make it plain or add mushrooms or make it with cheese. You can also switch to kale or other greens if you prefer.

Nice for a meatless dinner too.

SPINACH PIE with MATZO CRUST

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cut up mushrooms, optional
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets matzo

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms, if used, and cook, stirring often, for another 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms are softened. Stir in the spinach and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat. For dairy, add the feta and Parmesan cheeses and mix them in. Add 3 of the eggs, the dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and place in a baking dish. Soak the matzo in cold water to cover for 1-2 minutes or until softened but not mushy. Shake off excess water. Place the matzo on top of the spinach mixture. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top of the matzot. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4-8 servings (as main course or side dish)

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Kimchi is the spicy fermented napa cabbage dish which is probably the most fundamental food in Korea, so it had to be the first recipe to go on this blog. Kimchi can be used to spice up all kinds of other recipes and it last very long time when refrigerated so it’s handy to make a big bulk of it at a time. 

A simple stir-fry to male the most of spring vegetables.

You don’t have to roast the aparagus but I prefer them this way as they become slightly crispy with a caramelized skin.

I used sugar snap peas but I would have preferred fresh peas.

Spring stir-fry

Recipe from me

Takes

50 min

Ingredients for 2

  • 500g new potatoes
  • 225g asparagus
  • ~175g fresh peas (500g pea in their pods)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh chives, chopped

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Trim the end of the asparagus and cut them in two-three pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 min: the asparagus should be grilled outside and tender inside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the peas in boiling water for 5 min. Set aside.
  3. Cut the largest new potatoes in half. Cook the potatoes either in the microwave for 5 min in a closed recipient with a bit of water or in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil then simmer for 5 min.
  4. Finely mince the garlic:
  5. In a large pan, heat some olive oil and sauté the garlic until golden and flagrant.
  6. Add the potatoes and cook until tender inside and golden outside (about 20-30 min). Stir regularly to avoid the potatoes burning on the bottom.
  7. When the potato are almost done, stir in the asparagus and peas. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Top with chives and serve immediately.