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The Most Amazing Sheet Pan Chow Mein and Soy Sauce Brownies (You Heard That Right)

Standouts from Hetty McKinnon's new cookbook.
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I've always had a thing for cookbooks, but for most of my life, they've served as decor rather than recipe resources. Yet over the last year, my love affair was reignited with the release of Claire Saffitz's Dessert Person and I've been cooking my way through a few others since (Meera Sodha's Made in India and Molly Baz's Cook This Book are two that I continue to reach for).

When Hetty McKinnon's To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From The Heart arrived at my doorstep, I cracked it open immediately, entranced by the gorgeous cover and the even more enticing recipes. Life-Changing Udon Noodles, Peanut Butter Noodles, and Tomato & Egg "Shakshuka" caught my eye, but when I stumbled upon the Soy Sauce Brownies, to say I was intrigued would be an understatement. I knew this would have to be my next mission in the kitchen.

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After a bit of cooking and digging a little deeper, I realized that every recipe also managed to be meatless, approachable, and easily adaptable. I've devoured five thus far: the Hong Kong scrambled egg sandwich with a side of milk tea, the Hong Kong–style French toast, Maple-Buttered Sweet Potato With Lentils, Sheet Pan Chow Mein, and Soy Sauce Brownies. The brownies were flourless (something that's typically a dealbreaker for me) yet delectably chewy, complex in flavor, and almost had a caramel undertone that was unexpectedly delightful. And the Chow Mein made for a quick, easy dinner and lunch the next day (I wound up throwing some grilled shrimp on top as it came out of the oven, then added a fried egg with the leftovers).

I can say with certainty that this book is something special. There's no doubt that I'll be using it frequently, since it's very veggie-forward (something I'm working on improving, especially on weeknights!) and packed with no-frills instructions and accessible ingredients. Hetty generously shared two of the recipes with cupcakes and cashmere readers, and I hope you enjoy them just as much as I did:

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Makes 12 to 16 brownies, depending on your slice sizes

You will need:

1 stick (8 tablespoons / 115 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (175 g) semisweet or dark chocolate bits
1 cup (100 g) almond meal
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup (185 g) brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3–4 teaspoons tamari or gluten-free soy sauce

Substitutions: Tamari or soy sauce: 1 ½ tablespoons Vegemite or 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes Almond meal: hazelnut meal or ground walnuts

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and line a 9-inch square baking pan.

Place the butter and chocolate in a large glass bowl (one that is completely dry and clean) and set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted, then whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

In another bowl, whisk together the almond meal, cocoa powder and baking powder.

In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract and soy sauce.

Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture until well combined. Fold in the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely in the pan (I like to leave it in the fridge overnight which makes it easier to handle). Cut into 12–16 pieces (depending on how big you like them). Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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Serves 4

You will need:

1 bell pepper (any color), finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced diagonally
1 broccoli head, cut into florets
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Extra-virgin olive oil
9 ounces (255g) dried thin egg noodles
1 can (8.8 ounce/250g) cut baby corn, drained (I skipped this due to personal preferences!)
5 ounces (140g) asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch (5cm) pieces
1 scallion, finely sliced
Handful of cilantro leaves (I also skipped this because I don't eat cilantro)
2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
Sea salt

Soy seasoning

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
¼ cup (60ml) soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon vegetarian stir-fry sauce
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 small garlic clove, grated

Substitutions

Broccoli: Asian greens
Asparagus: sugar snap peas or snow peas
Vegetarian stir-fry sauce: omit if unavailable
Egg noodles: ramen noodles

Veganize: Use wheat noodles.

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Place the bell pepper, carrot and broccoli on a half sheet pan, drizzle with the sesame oil and a splash of olive oil and season with sea salt. Toss to coat in the oil, then bake for 10 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the egg noodles, and cook according to the packet instructions until al dente, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water. Drain well again and pat dry with a clean tea towel.

For the soy seasoning, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and push the vegetables to the side. Add the noodles, corn and asparagus. Drizzle the noodles with olive oil, season with sea salt and toss well to coat. Return the tray to the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the noodles are crispy on the top and bottom. You are looking for a combination of crispy and non-crispy noodles.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven, drizzle over the soy seasoning and toss well. Scatter over the scallion, cilantro and sesame seeds and serve.

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