Super Green Shakshuka

Super Green Shakshuka

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that we’re already halfway through the year! Metro Manila has now shifted from Enhanced Community Quarantine to General Community Quarantine since the beginning of this week and I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. We haven’t even started to flatten the curve, and here we are letting people out and go back to work with positive cases rising much higher than when we were under enhanced quarantine.

I’ll unfortunately be reporting back to the office starting this coming Monday and Tuesday, twice a week while the other 3 days will be to continue working from home. I honestly don’t see the point in risking my health and my life just to go into the office two times a week when there is still so much uncertainty with the on-going pandemic, especially when it’s ten times harder to get anywhere via public transport due to capacity limitations to comply with social distancing. It was hard enough to get a ride to and from work pre-pandemic times, what more now? I remember waiting almost an hour for a ride home on many occasions, now I’ll probably be waiting 2 or even more hours just to get home, exposed in the open to the virus. While there’s a shuttle service initiated by the company I’m working for to avoid this issue, I don’t know how long they’ll be able to keep up with a door-to-door pick-up/drop-off service.

Super Green Shakshuka

Anyway, mini tangent/rant aside, a new month means it’s time to move onto the next colour of the rainbow for this year’s theme on Amcarmen’s Kitchen! The recipe that I’ll be sharing with you tonight is inspired by a dish that I had way back when I was still living and studying in Australia. It was in fact a weekend farewell brunch for me as I left the country the following day for good after having completed my degree and graduated a couple months back before this weekend brunch gathering.

I first came across the idea of a green shakshuka at SHUK North Bondi. Green shakshuka puts a healthy green spin on the classic Middle Eastern shakshuka recipe. Traditionally, a shakshuka is a mixture of simmering tomato sauce and spices, topped with gently poached eggs. Within the tomato sauce there’s diced onions, garlic and bell peppers. Lastly, it’s garnished with freshly chopped herbs such as cilantro and parsley.

The great thing about a shakshuka is its versatility. Similar to how you can toss most ingredients from your fridge into a smoothie, the same can be said for a shakshuka. For this green shakshuka, I’ll be replacing the tomato sauce and bell peppers with an abundance of sautéed green vegetables.

Super Green Shakshuka Ingredients

Whatever veggies you’ve got lying around, just throw them in! For my improvised take on this recipe, I’m going with broccoli and asparagus for some bite, and leafy greens such as locally grown kale, spinach, chilli, and malunggay leaves. I also threw in some green chillies for a kick of heat and some fresh basil and green scallions for freshness.

Super Green Shakshuka Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 1 cup broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup kale leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup chilli leaves, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup asparagus, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup malunggay leaves, stemmed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 large green chillies, sliced
  • 2 small red onions, finely diced
  • 2 small red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1 stalk green scallions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp black olives, sliced
  • 2 tsp capers
  • Handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

Optional (to serve with)

  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced (optional)
  • Crusty bread, toasted

METHOD

  1. Heat olive oil in a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the diced onions together with half of the sliced green chillies and the white parts of the scallions, cooking until they soften, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Next, add in the chopped broccoli and cook for about a minute before adding the chopped asparagus in. Season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Give it a good mix and cook for a further minute or so until they start to soften a bit.
  3. Add in the chopped kale and spinach leaves with just a touch of water. Cover for about 30 to 45 seconds to allow the steam to wilt the leaves. Add in the chilli leaves followed by the malunggay leaves and give it a good mix. Cook, uncovered, for about a minute or two; turning the heat down to low at this point so that your veggies do not overcook.
  4. Flatten the veggie mixture with a spatula and create 3 small wells. Crack an egg into each well and season with a touch of salt freshly ground black pepper. Add the sliced black olives, capers, red and green chillies, and green scallions. Cook the eggs until done to your liking. You can also cover to steam and cook the eggs faster (about two minutes for cooked whites and a lovely runny yolk). Heat off, and sprinkle with the chopped basil leaves to garnish.
  5. Serve immediately with your choice of sliced avocado or crusty bread, or ever both for a heavy brunch. Enjoy!

Super Green Shakshuka

You can easily double this recipe to serve more hungry tummies. It’s an easy, one-pan dish filled with lots of green goodies and poached eggs. Whether you eat it for breakfast or dinner, it’s a hearty, nutrient-packed meal that will last you through any season!

Super Green Shakshuka

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream (No-churn)

Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream (No-churn)

Hello Everyone! Earlier on the beginning of this month we’ve been experiencing dangerously high heat indexes, to the high 40s and I think even 50 degrees celsius in some cities in the provinces. The scorching weather we’ve been experiencing has left me craving for something sweet and something cold to beat the heat! Something like Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream!

Central Coast, NSW (July 2011)

I remember when I was still studying in Australia for my Bachelor’s Degree in Design; I went on a weekend away trip up north to the country with my friend to visit her family. We stopped over… Somewhere (I can’t remember where) and ended up having Cold Stone Ice Cream at the beach in the dead winter. So there’s really no excuse to only have ice cream during the summery days! *cheeky grin* Also, I just realised that the photo above was taken almost 9 years ago (July 2011)!

Mini tangent aside, you can still whip this up even though we’re now entering the rainy season here in the Philippines; I mean we still have relatively hot and humid days in between the rainy days anyway.

This Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream is sweet, summery, and creamy with that perfect hint of salt for that classic sweet-and-salty buttered corn at the backyard cookout kind of flavour. Perfect for a quick quarantine dessert! The great thing about it is that you don’t need an ice cream churner for this recipe, and most may already be readily available in your pantry. If not, be sure to pick them up on your next grocery run.

Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream (No-churn)

It’s common for many to not associate or equate corn to something sweet, but rather used in savoury meals. But in Southeast Asia, specifically in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, corn is widely used in various desserts, most especially in ice cream.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on My Recipes by Stacey Ballis.

Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream (No-churn) Ingredients

PREP TIME 4 HOURS* | COOKING TIME | SERVES 4-6

*For freezing time, minimum 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag (200g) frozen corn**, thawed, quickly blanched, and roughly chopped
  • 1 can (218g) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup (250ml) all purpose cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Yellow food colouring (optional)

** Alternatively, you can use fresh corn or canned corn as well for this recipe. Whichever is readily available.

Note:

When selecting fresh corn, look for plump ears with tight, green husks that feel cool and a little bit moist in your hand. Note that the natural sugars in sweet corn start converting into starch the minute it’s picked so buy the freshest ears you can find and be sure to use them within a day or two of bringing them home.

METHOD

  1. In a chilled medium-sized mixing bowl, whip the all purpose cream using an electrical hand-held mixer until soft peaks start to form.
  2. Add the sweetened condensed milk and continue to whip to soft peaks, it should be fluffy and mousse-like. Add the corn together with the vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gently fold through and then, using a stick blender, blitz the mixture to break down the corn kernels.
  3. Pass the mixture through a sieve to get rid of the corn fibres to get a smooth-textured ice cream. Pour into an airtight container and freeze for 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Let sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes before scooping and serving on a hot summer’s day!

It’s excellent garnished with caramel sauce (and/or caramel popcorn), nut of choice or cornflakes for an added element of crunch! Enjoy!

Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream (No-churn)

So before I end tonight’s post, I just want to share the little mishaps I had when making this ice cream. Firstly, I wanted to add just a hint of yellow food colouring to give a mixture a slight tint. I was slowly tipping the bottle over and nothing came out. I shook the bottle a bit, and only a tiny drop came out. I shook it again and then… boom. I think a teaspoon or more of it spilled out. Now it looks like the kind of ice cream you’d get from the stores that are 90% food colouring/flavouring *le sigh*.

Secondly, after freezing the ice cream mixture overnight, I was super excited to dig into it the next day. To my dismay, the ice cream was way too salty for my liking. It was really unpleasant to eat. On top of that, the ice cream tasted nothing like sweet corn at all. The corn kernels that were added to the mixture were hard and frozen. I was basically eating salty ice cream with cold chunks of corn that barely taste like corn. I was so disappointed.

I decided to try and fix this without having to throw out the first batch I made, all I needed was more cream, which I had to wait to get a week later on my fortnightly grocery run. I took the batch of ice cream out of the freezer and just let it sit on the countertop for about half an hour until it melted back into cream. Then I whipped the new all purpose cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks started to form and then added the melted ice cream to the bowl. This definitely made the cream mixture less salty, but still hits just right. This also made the colour of the ice cream less intense.

Salted Sweet Corn Ice Cream (No-churn)

After adding the cream and melted ice cream together, I whipped it further and then got my stick blender out to blitz the corn into the cream mixture. This basically ensures that the corn flavour is mixed into the cream and also solved the issue of having icy chunks of corn. And violà! Fixed.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Hello Everyone! I’ll keep tonight’s introduction short as I haven’t got much to say really. This Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder is the perfect comfort food for the wintry days, or even just those cold, rainy nights. It’s easy, hearty, spicy, sweet, slightly creamy, incredibly smoky, and packed with tons of flavour!

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Shrimp is a popular choice for any meal of the day. Be sure and get the right sized shrimp for your recipe Medium-size shrimp are best for soups, for example, because they are easier to eat with a spoon. The best part of this dish though is that you can control the heat levels by adding more or less cayenne and/or paprika, to taste. If you ask me though, I’d say the more the better because that smokiness is the true star in this chowder!

As I was cooking, I realised that the dish was turning out to be more on the orange side rather than yellow. Oops! Nevertheless, before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on Gimmie Some Oven by Ali.

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 25 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g shrimp, heads removed, peeled, and deveined

For the prawn head soup base

  • Shrimp heads and peels
  • 1.5L water
  • 5 garlic cloves, whole
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 small red onion, quartered
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns

For the chowder

  • Shrimp meat
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 bag (200g) frozen corn*, thawed
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized cubes
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Chopped spring onions, to garnish

* Alternatively, you can also use fresh corn or canned corn for this recipe; whichever is readily available for you.

METHOD

  1. Prawn Head Soup Base: Add all the ingredients to a large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a slow simmer. Make sure to press down on the heads and peels as it simmers away to extract as much flavour as you can. Leave it to simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Once done, strain the soup base into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Chowder: In the same heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the diced onions, cooking until they soften, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced celery and potatoes to the pot, together with the spices, herbs and season with ground black pepper. Stir and cook for about a minute before adding in the prawn head soup base to the mixture. Bring to a rapid boil.
  5. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low so that the soup reduces to a slow simmer. Simmer away for 10 to 15 minutes, covered. Slowly add in half of the coconut milk and bring back to a slow simmer. Check and stir occasionally to avoid curdles from forming, cooking for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Taste to check if the chowder needs more seasoning or not.
  6. Add in the prawns and thawed sweet corn. If you’re using fresh corn, add them a little earlier to ensure that they are cooked all the way through. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add in the remaining coconut milk. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the chowder up to a rapid boil and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off and equally divide the chowder into individual serving bowls. Top with some freshly chopped green onions and serve immediately while hot. Best with a crusty baguette on the side. Enjoy!

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Hello Everyone! Tonight’s recipe is one that I came across while I was doing some research for my blog. I instantly fell in love with these words, “…soft, moist, tender, savoury, sweet corn…” I knew that this was a recipe that I wanted to tackle, and it did not disappoint! It was tender. It was moist. It was… dangerous. Dangerous in a way that you can literally take the whole pan with you and hide; devouring it all by yourself. It’s that good.

This Mexican Sweet Corn Cake is deliciously moist, buttery, and crumbles as you dig into it (but in no way means that it’s dry). This corn cake utilises corn in 3 ways: masa harina (or corn flour), regular corn meal, and is flecked with sweet corn niblets/whole corn kernels. That’s three times the corn flavour! In addition, you can roast the corn kernels first for extra flavour and flair!

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

The cake is baked in a water-bath, sort of like a cheesecake so that it won’t crisp or turn golden; so it’s kind of like a cake-y cornbread. You could have this savoury cake on the side with pretty much any dish, or even on it’s own as a perfect mid-afternoon snack.

It’s a perfect recipe to whip up under quarantine as all ingredients may already be readily available in your pantry. If not, it’s easy to grab them on your next grocery run! If you can’t find masa harina at your local supermarket, then you can swap it out with either all purpose flour or cake flour – which is exactly what I did for this recipe! It wasn’t because I could not source for corn flour; it was simply because I didn’t want to have an opened pack of it sitting in the pantry for centuries (which is what happened, and is still happening, to my pack of cornmeal). The corn flavour still pops through nonetheless, but probably not as powerful as if you would have used masa harina instead.

Anyway, before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on Simply Scratch by Laurie.

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 50 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g unsalted butter/margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sweet corn (fresh, frozen, or canned), roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy milk
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

* If you have masa harina (cornflour) on hand, then use this instead!
** If you are using canned corn, drain before adding to the batter. If you are using frozen corn, make sure you thaw them first.

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4).
  2. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy and light in colour. Add in the all purpose flour (or masa harina), together with the water and continue to mix until just combined.
  3. Add in the corn kernels, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder, followed by the soy milk. Mix until well combined. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl if needed to incorporate any missed dry ingredients.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased 8in x 11in glass baking dish. Spread the batter so that it is evenly distributed and smooth. Cover tightly with foil and place the dish into another baking dish (about 9in x 13in in size) and fill it with water about a third of the way.
  5. Carefully place the dish into the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and leave it aside to cool down for about 10 minutes.
  6. Slice the cake into 6 equal squares/rectangles. Alternatively, you may use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to dish and serve. Enjoy!

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Before I end tonight’s post, I just wanted to give you guys a quick update on how our country has responded to the current global pandemic. We’re currently into Day 58 of Enhanced Community Quarantine here in the Philippines, or as some may jokingly say, Season 3 of ECQ. Our original enhanced quarantine period was only supposed to last a month, from the late afternoon of March 16 until April 15.

Due to the significant increase in positive cases in our country, and the death count being much higher than the recovery count, we were not ready to go out of quarantine. With that ECQ was extended until April 30, and again to May 15. With our numbers still increasing by the hundreds each day, here we are again, under a ‘modified’ enhanced community quarantine until the end of May. On the bright side, at least our recovery rate is much higher than our death counts.

So what have I been up to since we went into quarantine 58 days ago? Well, I’m thankful that I still have a full-time job and that our company was able to carry out a work-from-home set up amidst the pandemic. I don’t go out anymore; only once every two weeks to our local supermarket to stock up on food. We also get our fruits and vegetables delivered to us weekly from a stall just down the road from us; really just to avoid and limit the times we go out of the house.

Other than that, I find myself having more time to do the things I want to do. Even if it means having more time to do nothing at all *cheeky grin* Just kidding! My time in the morning now isn’t being consumed by waking up early to prepare for work, and getting stuck in hour-long traffic going to and coming home from work. In return, I’m less tired during the week, which also means that I don’t find myself having to recover over the weekend. Not having to recover over the weekend also means that I can use my free time more efficiently for recipe research, development, experimentation, and writing for Amcarmen’s Kitchen!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

Hello Everyone! If you haven’t already guessed it, or if I haven’t already told some of you (for a special project this coming August), the theme for this year on the blog is Colours of the Rainbow! Tonight, and for the rest of the month of May, I will be continuing on with the colour yellow.

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

If you love simple ingredients with beautiful, massive flavours, then you’ve found the right recipe! This Aloo Kadhi, or in English, Indian Potato Curry, has incredible flavours that are hard to beat. Even though I ended up mashing almost half of the potatoes in this curry, mine didn’t turn out as thick in consistency as I would have wanted it to be, but that’s easy to fix – just mash up more potatoes!

This recipe may not have all the authentic spices found in a traditional Aloo Curry, but I can guarantee it tastes amazing! Vidhya, I know you still read my blog posts after so many years, so please don’t grill me on this dish *cheeky grin* Anyway, it’s terrific with freshly made puri, a crisp and puffy Indian bread, or with paratha, an unleavened Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out where I drew my inspiration from. The original recipe is on Scrambled Chefs by Aena.

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 35 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 medium-sized potatoes, wash, peeled, and cut into small cubes
  • 3-4 pcs whole cloves
  • 2 pcs star anise
  • 1 pc cinnamon bark
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized fresh turmeric, julienned
  • 2 cups water (or vegetable stock)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Handful of blanched kale leaves, to garnish (optional)

METHOD

  1. Add the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the cinnamon bark, star anise, and whole cloves; sauté until fragrant, about a minute or two. Be careful not to burn the aromatics. Then add the minced garlic and fresh turmeric and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the potatoes into the pot, together with the ground paprika, chilli flakes, curry powder, and turmeric powder. Season with salt, to taste, and then give it a good mix, cooking for about a minute or two.
  3. Add the water or vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boiling. Cover the pot and leave to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. If desired, use a fork to mash up some of the potatoes to thicken the curry to the consistency of your liking. Let it simmer, partially covered, for 5 to 10 more minutes.
  4. Check and taste to see if the curry needs additional seasoning. If so, season with a touch more salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Once done, transfer to a serving dish and top with some blanched kale. Or, if you’re not a coriander hater like myself, go ahead and top your Aloo Kadhi off with a sprinkle of chopped coriander.
  6. Serve hot with some freshly cooked Indian bread of choice. You may also choose to enjoy this dish with some freshly cooked basmati rice if you’re a starch on starch kind of person. Enjoy!

Aloo Kadhi (Indian Potato Curry)

Notes:

  1. Cut the potatoes into small-sized cubes if you want the potatoes to cook faster. The bigger the potato pieces, the longer it will take for them to cook all the way through.
  2. Cook the potato curry on low to medium heat. Potatoes are root-based starches that thicken up and soften more easily when cooked on low heat. Therefore, when you cook the curry on low heat, not only will it cook the potatoes all the way through, it will also make the curry thick and at the right consistency.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

Hello Everyone! Pineapples are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and other helpful compounds, such as enzymes that can fight inflammation and disease. They are especially rich in vitamin C, which is essential for growth and development, a healthy immune system, and aiding the absorption of iron from the diet.

Firing up the barbie tonight? This may be one of the most delicious ways to eat a pineapple! Try this Grilled Pineapple Dessert for a healthy alternative that’s fast and tasty. The tequila adds a tart flavour to balance the natural sweetness of the pineapple, and the sugar from the caramel. You may also substitute the tequila out for rum instead, or whatever bevvy tickles your taste buds.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

There was no doubt that I wanted to buy a whole tub of ice cream to pair with this dessert, especially after all the summer heat we’ve been experiencing. But given the circumstances of Enhanced Community Quarantine, my priorities were focused elsewhere. Considering the capacity of my freezer, I first made sure that it was full of seafood that would last us until our next grocery trip, which is every two weeks now to limit the time I spend outdoors amidst the on-going pandemic.

But by all means, feel free to get creative by serving it with ice cream for a warm (and cold at the same time), sweet, tart, and creamy dessert. Take it to another level by topping the dessert off with nuts or granola to add a fun crunch to it!

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

For the grilled pineapple

  • 1 medium-sized pineapple
  • 1 shot tequila (or rum)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg

Optional:

For the vegan caramel sauce

  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 60g unsalted margarine
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

To garnish/serve with

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Handful of granola
  • Ice cream (flavour of choice)
  • Nuts of choice, roughly chopped

METHOD

  1. Prepare Pineapple: Remove the leafy crown with a sharp knife and cut a thin slice from the base. Slice the skin away from top to bottom, removing any brown eyes as you go.
  2. If you have a pineapple corer at home, use this before cutting your pineapple into rounds. Otherwise, cut the pineapple into 6-8 rounds, and like me, use a round cookie cutter to cut the cores out of each round.
  3. Set aside on a plate and coat with the ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Optional, spike the pineapple rounds with a shot of tequila.
  4. Vegan Caramel Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, whisking constantly or until thickened and no longer watery, about 6 to 9 minutes. Keep in mind that the caramel thickens more as it cools.
  5. Grilled Pineapple: Preheat grill pan over high heat. Slightly oil the grill and then carefully place each round into the pan. Cook until grill marks form, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Once done, remove from the pan and transfer to a serving dish.
  6. Serve: Top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, drizzle with the vegan caramel sauce, and sprinkle with fresh mint. Serve with ice cream flavour of choice topped with some roughly chopped nuts for some crunch, if desired. Enjoy!

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

Notes:

  • You may also opt to drizzle the pineapple slices with homemade salted caramel sauce instead.
  • Any homemade caramel sauce can easily be made ahead; great served warm, at room temperature or chilled with refrigeration. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can warm it slightly to make it more drizzle-able before use.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Hello Everyone! I’ll keep tonight’s introduction short, and so, on to the recipe! This glowing Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew is hearty, spicy, creamy, nutrient-rich, and delicious! The addition of pineapple juice in the stew adds a hint of sweetness and slightly enhances the flavour of the overall dish that pairs nicely with the coconut milk.

It’s the perfect comfort food for the cold weather months. Having said that, it’s probably not an ideal dish to whip up in the tropics, especially during the summer time *cheeky grin*

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original recipe I followed for reference, over on Yup, it’s Vegan by Shannon. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan/vegetarian altogether (that is if you skip the garlic-malunggay toast on the side)!

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pcs dried bay leaves
2 small-sized sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 small red bird’s eye chilli, finely minced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 & 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 & 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup pineapple juice (fresh or if store-bought, with no added sugar)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 & 1/2 tbsp fresh turmeric, grated
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp yellow curry powder
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp turmeric powder
Blanched kale leaves, roughly chopped to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Add the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the diced onions, chillies, ginger, turmeric, and dried bay leaves, stirring often, until they soften, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes into the pot, together with the curry and turmeric powder. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and then give it a good mix, cooking for about a minute or two.
  3. Add the water or vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boiling. Once boiling, add in the pineapple juice, and half of the coconut milk and bring back to a gentle boil before reducing the heat to a steady simmer. Cover the pot and leave to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
  4. If desired, use a fork to mash up some of the sweet potatoes to thicken the stew slightly. Stir in the cooked chickpeas, lime juice, soy sauce, and the remaining coconut milk. Let it simmer, partially covered, for 5 to 10 more minutes.
  5. Check and taste to see if the stew needs additional seasoning. If so, season with a touch more salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lime juice.
  6. Once done, top with some blanched kale and fresh chillies. Serve hot with some garlic-malunggay bread slices on the side (optional). Enjoy!

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Note: The sweet potatoes in this stew makes it nice and hearty on its own, but it is also lovely served with jasmine rice. Feel free to add other stew-friendly vegetables too, such as cauliflower or other leafy greens like how I added kale to mine.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Lemon Sunshine Cake

Lemon Sunshine Cake

Hello Everyone! Yes I am fully aware that it’s Thursday today, which means I’m a day late from my normal upload schedule of every Wednesday night (Philippine time). There’s a reason for this, because:

AMCARMEN’S KITCHEN TURNS SIX TODAY!

For my new followers and friends who don’t know the story behind my blog, before I got it up and running, I already had an interest in cooking. I was already sharing photos of my kitchen adventures on Facebook throughout my first year in university up until my third year. Throughout these years, I kept getting comments and messages from family and friends, encouraging me to start up a blog and share my recipes online.

Finally, after many years of encouragement and pure procrastination, I started what was formerly known as Kitchen Headquarters back in April 16 of 2014. It happened when I was 2 months into my last year of university and in the middle of my mid-semester Easter break; not wanting to tackle the many assignments I had on my to-do list before resuming classes.

Lemon Sunshine Cake

To celebrate today’s occasion, I’ve baked a Lemon Sunshine Cake. It strikes the perfect balance between tart and sweet with homemade lemon curd, a moist lemon cake, and a rich, creamy vanilla buttercream frosting. It’s delicious and sure to brighten your day!

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original recipe that I drew my inspiration from over at The Simple Sweet Life by Claire.

Lemon Sunshine Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 2 HOURS & 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 35 MINS | SERVES 10-12

INGREDIENTS

For the lemon curd

  • 60g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 free-range egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

For the lemon cake

  • 200g unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 large free-range eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 & 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 tsp baking powder

For the vanilla buttercream frosting

  • 500g unsalted butter (cold), cubed
  • 10 free-range egg whites*
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 10 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Yellow food colouring (optional)

* Don’t throw away the egg yolks! You can keep them in the fridge for up to two days while you decide what you can make with them. I made an easy Leche Flan (Crème Caramel) recipe. If you’re feeling a little bit creative and inspired, try turning them into Crispy Fried Leche Flan instead!

METHOD

  1. Lemon Curd: Whisk together the sugar, lemon juice and zest, and egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of boiling water.
  2. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it thickens. It should almost have the consistency of a pudding. Once the lemon curd has thickened, carefully remove the bowl from the pot of boiling water and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Slowly incorporate the cubed butter into the slightly cooled curd mixture. Cover and then allow for the curd to cool completely in the refrigerator before use.
  4. Lemon Cake: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4).
  5. Add the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer on high speed, whip them together until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the dry ingredients (flour and baking powder) and mix on low speed until just combined. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Evenly distribute the batter into four 8” parchment paper-lined and greased cake pans. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cakes come out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool down completely.
  8. Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat, cooking until the sugar becomes clear.
  9. While the syrup cooks, whip the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form.
  10. With the mixed running on high, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites and whip until the mixture has cooled down to room temperature.
  11. Turn the mixer speed down to low and slowly incorporate the butter and vanilla extract. Continue beating until the frosting is thick and smooth.
  12. Assembly: If necessary, level your cakes before layering for assembly. Place one cake layer on a cake board and spread a layer of frosting on top.
  13. Using an offset spatula, carve out an indent in the frosting and fill with the lemon curd. Repeat with the second and third layer and then top with the fourth. Coat the outside with a thin crumb coat and allow for the cake to set in the refrigerator for about 15 to 20 minutes to set.
  14. Optional: Equally divide the remaining frosting into three batches. Tint each batch a different shade of yellow.
  15. Cover the cake with the frosting and use an offset spatula or bench scraper to smoothen the frosting and remove any excess. Feel free to get creative in how you’re going to use the colours to decorate and present your cake.I topped the cake with the remaining lemon curd and added a few slices of baked/dehydrated lemon slices for that finishing touch.
  16. Place in the refrigerator to chill before serving. Enjoy!

Lemon Sunshine Cake

Here are some helpful tips to note when making this Lemon Sunshine Cake:

  1. Make the lemon curd in advance: You can make the lemon curd a week and store it in the refrigerator if you’re looking to save some time when you come around to making this cake.
  2. Crumb coating: Spreading a thin layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake, and then refrigerating it will lock in any crumbs and keep them from reaching the surface of your frosted cake.
  3. The trick for smooth frosting: You’ll need a rotating cake stand and a bench scraper. Place the small end of the bench scraper on the cake stand, long end against the frosting and turn the table. Once excess frosting is removed, heat the scraper in hot water, wipe and drag around the outside of the cake.
  4. Chill your cake: Cool cake is easier to cut and handle, so chilling your cake for a short while before use will make this process easier.

Lemon Sunshine Cake

Before I end tonight’s post, I want to thank everyone for all the love and support. Of course all the hard work that goes into Amcarmen’s Kitchen wouldn’t have been possible without my #1 supporter, my Mom. I asked my Mom to teach me how to cook after trying to survive off regular takeaway meals from the nearest shop or my attempts at home-cooked food of very poor quality during my first year away from home.

I have my Mom to thank for the days she had to put up with my very little knowledge in the kitchen, and my inability to choose the best produce when she would bring me along to her trips to the market. Thank you Mama for passing down your knowledge and love for food on to me. I know you’re proudly watching over me.

Lastly, I want to thank a very special someone in my life. Since the day we first started talking to each other, you’ve always been very proud and supportive by sharing my recipes each week. And for that, thank you for encouraging and motivating me to continue doing what I love to do!

Lemon Sunshine Cake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Hello Everyone! I remember the first time I came across this dish; I was on the phone with my Dad asking him what he would like to eat for the upcoming week before his trip back here to the Philippines. He doesn’t get to eat much home-cooked Filipino food in Indonesia so every time he’s back home, I make sure to include in our weekly menu the things that he wants to eat, even if it is against his diet *facepalm*

One of the dishes he mentioned was Chicken Halang Halang. “What?” I said in confusion as I have never heard of this dish before. The way my dad explained it to me was “it’s like the Visayan version of Chicken Adobo.” But it is actually far from that. This dish more closely represents a cross between Tinolang Manok and Ginataang Manok.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Halang Halang is a Visayan dish where your choice of meat is stewed in a spicy coconut milk sauce. The word halang when directly translated to English, means spicy because of the use of chillies as one of the main ingredients in this dish. So essentially, the dish is called, in English, “Spicy Spicy” *cheeky grin* The coconut milk maintains the creaminess and richness of the dish while it tempers the spiciness of the chillies. It also has a hint of lemongrass, making the dish amazingly aromatic and taste super fresh.

Like most dishes, there are endless possibilities in making Halang Halang. I decided to attempt this dish using fresh King Mackerel steaks that I bought at the markets before we went into Enhanced Community Quarantine. It is definitely an exceptional dish that you can serve at home on a regular basis.

Delicious, no fuss, and easy to make.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the king mackerel steaks

  • 6 large King Mackerel steaks
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder

For the halang halang gravy

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, lightly pounded
  • 2 small red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1 large green chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, julienned
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • Handful of chilli leaves

METHOD

  1. Combine the seasonings and spices in a small bowl. Generously rub the spices into the fish steaks, making sure to cover all sides. Leave to sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium high. Make sure that the pan is scorching hot, but not smoking, before putting the fish in as this will prevent the steaks from sticking to the pan.
  3. Carefully place the steaks into the pan and fry for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned to seal in all the flavours. Depending on the size of your frying pan, or the size of your steaks, you may need to work in batches. Once done, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium. In the same frying pan, sauté the garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, and chillies until golden and fragrant, about a minute or two.
  5. Slowly pour in half of the coconut milk into the pan and add the lemongrass stalks. Cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Check and stir occasionally to avoid curdles from forming.
  6. Pour the remaining coconut milk into the pan and slowly return the king mackerel steaks to the pan. Cover and bring back up to a rapid simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat off and add the chilli leaves.
  7. Transfer to a serving plate and top with extra slices of red and green chillies for an extra kick of spice. Serve with hot steamed rice and enjoy!

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

This dish is guaranteed to tempt you to increase your rice intake. If you plan to stick with just a cup of rice – or just half like myself – make sure that you condition yourself beforehand because there’s a high chance that you’ll give in to the temptation. I know because I did. Oops.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hello Everyone! Happy first day of the month! A new month means it’s time to change it up again on the blog. Here’s a recap of the previous months and upcoming month’s theme:

  • January & February: Red-coloured food
  • March: Orange-coloured food
  • April & May: Yellow-coloured food

Do any of you guys have a guess yet for this year’s theme on Amcarmen’s Kitchen?

Yesterday, I went on an insane grocery spree for the first time in two weeks. I’m usually the type who gets her groceries on a weekly basis. So having to push around a heavily-loaded trolley, with a physical grocery list in my hand was indeed a stressful task for me.

I’m normally the one who takes charge of the groceries in the household, so I know exactly what I need, and what brands to choose. If I was already stressed out from a weekly norm of mine, what more the husbands who were by default, named head of the household, tasked to do the groceries amid our Enhanced Community Quarantine? I saw helpless and confused husbands on the phones with their wives, either texting, talking, or on video call, arguing back and forth on what brand of milk they should be getting.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Moving forward, here’s an easy quarantine treat to whip up in the kitchen over the weekend. These sweet-tasting Hong Kong style Egg Tarts draw its influences from the English Custard Tart and the Portuguese Pastel de Nata.

The crust for these egg tarts are extremely flaky, tender, and buttery; made from a rough, shortcut puff pastry dough. The filling only has 5 ingredients – all of which you will probably already have sitting in your pantry. The end product? You get a smooth as silk, shiny custard that will absolutely put a smile on your face.

These tarts are best devoured fresh hot out of the oven. Trust me, it’s a completely different experience from the lukewarm version you would normally get at a dim sum restaurant. Of course, you should wait for them to cool down slightly if you don’t want to burn your tongue off!

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please do take the time to check out the original recipe I followed to make these favourite pastry treats of mine over on The Woks of Life by Sarah, one of a family of four cooks.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | MAKES 18 – 20 TARTS

INGREDIENTS

For the rough puff pastry dough

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature (but not softened)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For the egg filling

  • 3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup hot water (scant cup)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Pastry Dough: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and break it up roughly using your fingertips, making sure that visible little chunks of butter can still be seen in the dough.
  2. Add the 2 tablespoons of cold water to the flour mixture and bring the dough together. Add a bit more water if needed, but not too much. Cover the dough and leave it to chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead to form into a neat rectangular shape. Roll the dough away from you (not back and forth), to roughly form a 20 x 50 cm rectangle. Try to keep the edges even. Don’t overwork the dough. Flecks of butter should still be visible in the dough.
  4. Fold the top third of the dough down to the center, then the bottom third up and over the top fold. Roll the dough out again to three times the length. Fold the same way as before, then cover and chill for another 30 minutes.
  5. Egg Filling: While the dough is resting, make the filling. Dissolve the sugar into the cup of hot water and allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. Whisk the eggs and evaporated milk together and then thoroughly whisk in the sugar water and vanilla altogether.
  7. Strain through a very fine mesh strainer. This step is extremely important to getting a smooth and glassy egg tart.
  8. Egg Tarts: Preheat oven to 200C (400F or gas mark 6) and position a rack in the lower third of your oven. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan with butter.
  9. Roll out the dough to about 0.5cm thick and cut circles to fit your muffin pan. Press the dough into the pan and fork to make a little fluted edge on the dough (optional). This is just to make the egg tarts look pretty once baked.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

  1. Use a ladle to fill each tart shell until just reaching the edges of the outside crust. Once filled, immediately, but very carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180C (350F or gas mark 4) and bake for a further 10-12 minutes, until the filling is just set. If you see the tart shells start to puff up a bit, crack open the oven a little and they should settle back down.
  2. Serve: Let the tarts cool down for a couple of minutes and then you can enjoy them while they’re still hot!

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Before I end tonight’s post, I’m happy to say that I will be able to cook up the dishes I had originally planned for the upcoming months ahead! If you read the end of my post last week, I talked about how difficult it has been to go out and shop at the bigger supermarket chains because of the lack of public transport to get there. Yesterday my cousin, who owns a car, offered me to go grocery shopping with her and thus I’ve managed to source the ingredients that I need!

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com