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Simple Chinese Garlic Chicken with Quinoa Salad

Simple Chinese Garlic Chicken with Quinoa Salad

Simple Chinese Garlic Chicken with Quinoa Salad. Quinoa has become a really popular grain/food in recent years. There are more and more talking about quinoa so I decided to get my hands on some of these little seeds. Yes, quinoa is actually a “seed” and it’s not to be confused with any kind of cereal.

Here are some of the health benefits of quinoa:

  1. Quinoa is a nutritious dense grain.
  2. Quinoa is gluten-free
  3. Quinoa contains high levels of protein and is one of a few plants to do so
  4. Consuming Quinoa regularly can help your body to reduce the risk of inflammation
  5. Quinoa is also high in fibre so it can also help your body to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar
  6. Consuming Quinoa in your diet regularly can also help your body reduce the risk of allergies
  7. Lower your cholesterol and help maintain HDL cholesterol level.

Quinoa is also high in iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and Vitamin E. So it’s no wonder people often called quinoa a superfood.

Before writing this blog post I had never eaten or cooked quinoa before so to be honest I just followed the instructions from the packaging on how to cook. Turns out it’s a really easy thing to cook.

I just love the texture of quinoa. i think it tastes better than cous cous and if you like your quinoa quite soft then you can add a bit more water to cook but if you like it a little al-dente then reduce the amount of the water you use to cook it.

Quinoa is not a typical food in Chinese cooking so I will say this dish is a bit like Chinese meats Western type of food. I use the marinade in this post for chicken legs really often and you can use the marinade with pretty much any kind of meat. You can also coat the meat with some flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs to deep-fry the chicken after marinading. You can also roast it in the oven and either way will taste really good. If you’re not a fan of chicken legs then you can use chicken breast instead.

What I will often do to save time and hassle is buy a few chicken legs or chicken breasts, depending on what I fancy, and marinade in this way then separate into smallish portions. I’ll bag them in a freezer bag, free them and that’s dinner sorted out for at least a couple meals.

This is an ideal week day dinner or lunch for any household.

chinese garlic chicken and quinoa salad


chinese garlic chicken and quinoa salad

How to Debone a Chicken

chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad
chinese garlic chicken with quinoa salad


Simple Chinese Garlic Chicken with Quinoa Salad

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 2 people



  • 1 chicken de-boned, including thigh and drumstick
  • 100 g white quinoa
  • 500 ml boiling water for cooking the quinoa
  • 100 g cucumber cut into half then slice 0.5cm thick
  • 8 cherry tomatoes cut into half
  • Coriander and mint finely chop

Marinade for Chicken legs

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper

Seasonings for Quinoa Salad

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lime zest and juice
  • 1/2 tsp demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil


  1. De-bone the chicken legs and marinade with all the seasonings from the light soy sauce to coarse black pepper for at least 30 minutes. I would recommend you marinade overnight if you can as everything will taste much better.
  2. Follow the instructions on the packaging of the quinoa. I rinsed the quinoa under cold water a few times to wash away the bitterness of the quinoa.
  3. I soaked the quinoa in cold water for five minutes and drained the water completely. Put boiling water and quinoa in a saucepan and bring it to a boil first. Then turn to lowest heat, simmer and cover the quinoa until the water is nearly dry and the quinoa is tender. Then it’s ready (this will take around 15-20 minutes).
  4. Use a fork to loosen up the quinoa and mix with all the seasonings from salt to olive oil. Then leave aside to cool down.
  5. Pre-heat an oven to 200c.
  6. Heat up some oil in frying pan or skillet. Place the chicken legs skin side down and fry each side for 2 minutes then put in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
  7. Use the remaining oil in the frying pan to quickly fry cucumber and cherry tomatoes for 20 seconds.
  8. Mix step 6 cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chopped coriander and mint with the quinoa.
  9. Let the chicken legs cool down a little bit then slice and serve with some quinoa salad.
  10. You can garnish this dish with some chopped coriander, mint and some lime.

Green Papaya and Sirloin Salad

Green Papaya and Sirloin Salad

Nothing is better on a hot summer day than a big delicious bowl of salad. This green papaya and sirloin steak salad isn’t exactly an authentic Chinese or Taiwanese dish but it’s more like an Asian inspired salad dish that I really like.

As I live in Scotland, we don’t really get any “summer”, at least not the kind of summer that I was used to when I lived in Taiwan or China. In China and Taiwan, the temperature can reach a sweltering 38 degrees or even hotter but in Scotland right now the temperature is around 16 degrees.

I’m still wearing long sleeves as for me it’s still a bit cold. Chris and I were talking about eating hot pot soon as recently it’s been raining quite a lot and every time it rains the temperature drops. Sometimes the temperature can be as low as 8 degrees in Edinburgh on a summer day.

For this you can replace the cucumber, onion and even green papaya for other vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, peppers and celery. You can even try to add in apple or Asian pear if you wish. I improvise my cooking a lot of the time as there are so many ingredients from the East I simply can’t get hold of in the UK so after years of living in Edinburgh I have learnt to improvise and adapt my food to the ingredients I can get here.

green papaya sirloin salad

Also, please feel free to adjust the seasonings for the marinade and sauce. If you want the sauce to be more sour then add more lemon but if you want to cut down the amount of salt you eat then leave the salt out of the sauce.

I garnished this dish with some chopped mint. Mint is hot a herb we usually use in Chinese cuisine but as explained earlier this is an Asian influenced dish so I added mint because I think the flavour of the mint compliments this dish perfectly.

green papaya sirloin salad

If you are not a fan of red meat, you can use chargrill chicken or pork instead of the steak. You can also use prawn or fish to replace the steak and you can even use horseradish instead of wasabi to give the dish a different kind of flavour.

I didn’t use a lot of wasabi in this recipe because I worry maybe it’s too strong for some people’s tastes but I personally really enjoy that special kick the wasabi gives to this recipe so personally I put a lot of wasabi in this dish when I make it at home.

Green Papaya:

green papaya ingredient
green papaya ingredient

You can purchase green papaya in local Chinese/Asian supermarket or Amazon.

You can also use green papaya make a soup. Check out my recipe for green papaya soup on

To learn about all health benefits of papaya check out this article:



Green Papaya and Sirloin Salad

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 3 people



  • 700 g sirloin steak
  • 200 g green papaya julienne
  • 70 g cucumber julienne
  • 85 g onion julienne
  • 1 chili remove seeds and julienne
  • Mint just for garnish

Marinade for sirloin steak

  • 1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 pinches coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar

Ingredients for sauce

  • 1/4 tsp wasabi
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce


  1. Marinade the sirloin stead for 30 minutes. If you have time leave it to marinade longer.
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce evenly and leave aside.
  3. Mix the julienned green papaya with a couple pinches of salt and leave it aside for at lease 10 minutes.
  4. Chargrill the steak to how you like it then leave it aside to cool down.
  5. Mix all the vegetables together and place on a serving plate.
  6. Slice steak and put on top of the step 5.
  7. You can pour the sauce on top of the steak or pour the sauce on top of the green papaya salad as you wish.
  8. Garnish the dish with some chopped mint and grilled lemon. Ready to serve.

Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot Cake Recipe

It’s been long time since my last blog. Before I gave birth I was able to update this blog every 5-7 days but since then I have been busy watching my daughter grow up. I have also been really busy with my college course, I had some health issues which put me out of action for a little while and I’ve also been busy setting up my illustration business.

But one thing I really miss is updating this blog with new recipes and communicating with many of the wonderful people who leave comments here.

So this is a new recipe I want to share with you. It’s not Chinese/Taiwanese food, it’s a carrot cake.

The first time I ever tried carrot cake was after I moved to the UK. We don’t have carrot cake in Taiwan and I have to admit the first time I heard about carrot cake I wondered if a vegetable cake could be tasty. But in fact, carrot cake is tasty! Delicious even! It’s now one of my favourite cakes and can also be quite a healthy cake if you don’t put too much icing on the top.

I learned to make this while working as a pastry chef at the Sheraton Hotel. I worked at the Sheraton for about 18 months and for a few months within that time I worked as a pastry chef. I’ve eaten many different carrot cakes but this is still my favourite recipe by far. The cake itself is very soft, moist and flavoured (at least for myself and Chris) perfectly.

I also illustrated this recipe for my illustration blog and “they draw and cook” website. “They draw and cook” website is for people or illustrator who like to draw and cook (just like me) to share the two joy in their life. It’s a great website to check out.

One thing to note, as a savoury chef and ourselves being experienced photographing savoury food, sweet foods are really hard to photograph. I’m reasonably happy with this photo but definitely want to do a lot more bakery and as and when time allows photograph it.

Hope you like the recipe below.

carrot cake recipe


Carrot Cake Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 250 g sugar
  • 175 ml vegetable oil or sunflower oil
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 325 g grated carrot

Lemon Icing Ingredients

  • 225 g softened butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 150c. Prepare a muffin tin and cup cake cases.
  2. Mix the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl or electric mixer until totally combined.
  3. Sift flour, bicarbonate soda, baking powder and mixed spice in a bowl. Then gently mix into step 2.
  4. Fill the cup cake cases until they are 80% full and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Sift icing sugar first before you mix with butter and lemon juice in a electric mixer and beat until light and creamy.
  6. After the cake has cooled down pipe the icing on top of the cake.


Beef Ragu Recipe

Beef Ragu Recipe

I know I haven’t updated my blog for a while. After finishing college for the summer break I really wanted to finish off my first fully illustrated alphabet and what I thought would be quite a quick project turned out not to be. In total I had to do 26 individual illustrations and that combined with looking after Amelia has really taken up all of my time. Amelia is an absolutely amazing daughter but just like all babies she’s really demanding. She constantly wants attention and while she can now entertain herself by playing with toys (she loves her rabbit rattle) she still wants face to face playtime the most.

So with completing this alphabet and looking after Amelia I’ve had absolutely no time to update this blog (this will hopefully change soon). Now I’ve finished my alphabet I’m really happy with it. This follows on from a “Rocket Man” project I started a few months ago and I’d only recommend you give a project like this a go if you have a lot of time to spare.

But back to food, I’m going to share my Beef Ragu recipe. I first tried ragu around the beginning of this year when I visited Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Glasgow “Jamie’s Italian”. We read some reviews of Jamie’s Italian before deciding to go there and it’s now my favourite restaurant. The restaurant isn’t too fancy or fine dining, the staff are really attentive but the restaurant has a really nice ambience to it. Most important though is the food is really delicious. The first time I visited I had a venison ragu and it was utterly delicious. I must also mention the restaurant is really baby friendly and of course with Amelia we can only go to restaurants that have baby changing rooms, easy access etc.

Amelia also absolutely loves Jamie’s Italian (actually she loves all restaurants). There are so many things for her to look at, hear and smell. Think of it as a “baby senses paradise”.

I would have quite liked to have made a venison ragu but here in Edinburgh venison is really difficult to get hold of so I used beef shin instead. Beef shin is one of my favourite parts of beef as it can be really delicious but it needs to cook for a while to really tenderise it. Cooked properly it’s really delicious (I use beef shin now for beef noodle soup) and it’s also a lot cheaper than regular cuts of beef like sirloin or rib eye.

beef ragu recipe


Beef Ragu Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 3 medium carrots chop finely
  • 3 stalks celery chop finely
  • 1 large onion chop finely
  • 4 cloves garlic chop finely
  • 100 g bacon lardons
  • 1.5 kg beef shin dice it
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme chop
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chop
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pack beef stock or water to cove the ingredients


  1. Heat the oil in a stockpot with the strongest heat and add bacon first until the bacon oil starts to run. Then add carrots, garlic, celery, onion and tomato paste. Cook until all the vegetables start to caramelise. Stir occasionally.
  2. Add beef and keep cook until beef is cooked on the outside. Add wine, stock, tinned tomato, rosemary and thyme and bring it to boil. Once the ingredients have started to boil, turn down the heat and simmer for at least 2 hours. Stir occasionally while simmering and after 2 hours it’s ready.

Recipe Notes

Note: Ragu is best eaten with a really nice pasta or bread. We usually buy our pasta from Valvona & Crolla which is an Italian delicatessen here in Edinburgh but the point is use a good quality pasta and for bread something like a focaccia is amazing with ragu.

Below is the Space Alphabet I talked about above. Make sure you click on the image for a much larger version.


Below is the Space Alphabet I talked about above. Make sure you click on the image for a much larger version.

space alphabet illustration

Eggs Royale Recipe

Eggs Royale Recipe

Recently I published a recipe for Salmon Gravlax and promised I would follow this up with a recipe for Eggs Royale, so here it it. Normally for this dish one would use smoked salmon but I couldn’t resist using the salmon gravlax instead to give this classic dish a different taste.

I’ve also been really craving Hollandaise sauce for a really long time but with my pregnancy I couldn’t touch it. Now I finally have a healthy, happy and cute baby it’s time for me to have some of those forbidden foods for pregnant ladies, such as Hollandaise sauce, home made caesar salad dressing, rare steaks, swordfish, tuna, this kind of ocean fish etc etc. So here is my version of Hollandaise sauce and Eggs Royale.

For this blog post I also drew a step-by-step tutorial image for the hollandaise sauce. I’ve been thinking about illustrating some of my recipes for a long time and while the drawing does take up quite a lot of time, I’ve finally started it. It was fun to draw and I’m personally happy with the way everything has turned out. My illustrations could do with some refinement but this is something I will do more of in the future.

Also some updates about Amelia. Amelia is now 11 weeks and 5 days old. Just like everyone says, babies grow up so quick and when I look at her now and photos of her when she was just born, she looks completely different. Amelia is now also communicating with us a lot more. She will talk back (in baby talk of course) if we talk to her, she smiles all the time and she’s now laughing a lot. Whenever she talks to us we will talk back to her in the same language she uses and she absolutely loves it. Chris is also the master of belly raspberries which she absolutely loves.

There’s nothing happier in life than seeing your own baby happy.

So below the photo of the Eggs Royale and procedure image below, there are some new photos of Amelia. Being a parent is an extremely tiring job but as you can see she now has a really cute smile so every time I/we feel tired, frustrated, one little smile and everything is perfectly happy again. We’ve also had some really amazing weather here in Scotland recently (at least by Scottish standards) so we’ve been travelling around a little bit. In my next blog post I’ll share some of these photos.

eggs royale


Eggs Royale Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 people


Ingredients for Hollandaise Sauce

  • 1/2 shallot chop finely
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 200 g butter

Ingredients for Eggs Royale

  • 2 duck eggs
  • 2 slices salmon gravlax a few slices
  • 2 English muffins
  • 1 tbsp hollandaise sauce


  1. Toast the English muffins and poach 2 duck eggs
  2. Put a few slices of Salmon Gravlax on top of the English muffin and place a poached duck egg on top of it
  3. Place one tablespoon of Hollandaise sauce on top of the poached egg. This dish is now ready to serve.


eggs royale procedure illustration

Salmon Gravlax Recipe

Salmon Gravlax Recipe

salmon gravlax recipe

Recently for both this blog and at home, I’ve been making a lot of Eastern dishes but now I really fancy eating something a little different. Also, there are so many really delicious and beautiful western dishes that I love to make, both professionally at work and at home, but haven’t had the opportunity to share. So, for this particular blog post, I decided to make salmon gravlax.

Salmon gravlax is a dish which originates from Norway during the Middle Ages. Fishermen used to salt the salmon then lightly ferment it by burying it in the sand. Gravlax’s literal translation is “grave”. Thanks to Wikipedia for this information and also inspiring me to draw a couple Vikings for this recipe.

Now this is probably going to sound really strange but even though I have made salmon gravlax many times professionally, I’ve never actually eaten it. I know this sounds really bizarre but probably because I’ve prepared it so many times I’ve kind of been put off it but my husband absolutely loves salmon gravlax so when I asked him if he fancies eating it, of course he said YES (with capital letters)!

I first learned how to make salon gravlax when I worked in a fine dining restaurant in Birmingham but after moving to Edinburgh I made it a few times while working in a hotel that I used to work in. Again I know it must sound strange that I haven’t tasted it before but as anyone who works as a chef knows, you barely even have time to have a glass of water or go to the toilet (this is one of the many reasons chef smoke – so they can have a cigarette break).

With this dish I combined two different recipes.

So what do I think? Interesting! It has a really unique mild herb and spice flavour with a little bit of a citrus taste. I have to say I like it very much and Chris gave me the big thumbs up. I liked it so much I used some of this salmon gravlax to make eggs royale (I’ve been absolutely crazy lusting after hollandaise sauce for nearly a year but couldn’t eat it because of the raw eggs which is obviously bad for unborn babies).

So I hope you enjoy my salmon gravlax recipe. It’s great to try a new dish and tick off one of the many hundreds of dishes out there that I want to try.

As there a really large number of preparation photos with this post, I haven’t included any new pictures of my daughter or any updates about her (she’s doing fine btw, she’s absolutely awesome) but in a few days I’ll post my recipe for eggs royale along with an update about her and some new photos.

salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax
salmon gravlax



Salmon Gravlax Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 450 g fresh salmon with skin on
  • 1 bunch fresh dill chopped
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp peppercorn toasted and crushed
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander or fennel seed
  • 2 tbsp vodka


  1. Rinse salmon under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen napkins.
  2. Mix the sea salt, sugar, crashed peppercorn and ground coriander in a bowl evenly.
  3. Mix vodka and lemon juice together
  4. Lay couple sheets of cling film on a tray as procedure photo shown. Put salmon on the middle of tray.
  5. Pour vodka and lemon juice on salmon.
  6. Sprinkle lemon zest on the salmon first then sprinkle step 2 seasalt and spice mixture evenly on the salmon.
  7. Sprinkle chopped dill on the salmon and wrap salmon nice and tight with the cling film.
  8. Try to find something heavy put on top of salmon. I used 2 wooden boards on both side of salmon and wrap really tight to give it a bit of pressure to help it totally marinade.
  9. Leave it in the fridge for 3 days and take it out. Wash away the seasalt and herb. Slice very(!) thin to serve (you’ll need a really sharp knife for this)