Auguest 2020: Melissa Delos Reyes

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

“Creating food is a therapeutic process. It’s a way for me to unwind and slow down in this fast-paced world. To see my family & friends enjoy what I create is worth all the effort.” — Melissa Delos Reyes

Auguest 2020: Melissa Delos Reyes

Ola! I’m Melissa or Mel, the smol lady behind Eats Meru on Facebook and Instagram. I am a social media associate by profession and I freelance in photography and graphic design. Ever since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed cooking, experimenting with food, and following recipes!

I created Eats Meru pre-pandemic to share my food adventures at first. Everything changed when the Covid-19 virus struck. No one was prepared. Businesses were greatly affected, especially the small/start-up local brands. Since then, I’ve converted my goal for Eats Meru as a platform where I can help local MSMEs to share their products especially now that everyone is doing their best to make a living.

For this post in the Auguest series, I chose the color orange. I’ll be sharing a healthy and plant-based version of the famous Orange Chicken that uses tofu as the protein of the dish; it’s sticky, orange-y, tangy, crispy, and tasty too! You can easily make this dish as most of the ingredients can be found in your fridge and pantry. It is also perfect for those busy weeknights as it comes together in 20 minutes.

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the crispy tofu

  • 2 packs firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch size cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the orange sauce

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 medium-sized oranges)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white or rice vinegar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (2 tbsp for a thicker sauce)
  • 1 tsp chilli, minced
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, minced (or 1 tbsp grated)
  • Spring onion (for garnishing)
  • Blanched broccoli

METHOD

  1. Crispy Tofu: In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, rice flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and coat the tofu in the cornstarch mixture.
  2. In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil (enough to cover the tofu) over medium-high. Carefully drop the coated cubed tofu in the oil and fry until slightly golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pot; work in batches if needed.
  3. Once done, use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu and transfer to a wire rack or strainer to cool down.
  4. Orange Sauce: Combine all the ingredients for the orange sauce, except water and cornstarch in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and bring to a boil.
  5. Mix the cornstarch in the water together to create a slurry and gradually stir it into the simmering sauce. Cook until the sauce thickens, stirring well for even thickening. Taste for salt, sweetness, flavour, etc. and adjust as you go.
  6. Turn the heat off and add the crispy tofu. Toss to evenly coat them with the sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the spring onions. Serve immediately while hot, with rice and blanched broccoli (or any of your favorite greens for that matter). Enjoy!

This Crispy Orange Tofu can be modified for an even healthier option. For this recipe, the tofu is deep-fried in oil, but if you prefer, and have a bit more time on your hands, you can bake the tofu instead. Additionally, you can consider serving it with some cauliflower rice and other greens of your choice.

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | Melissa Delos Reyes (@eatsmeru)

BON APPÉTIT

– Melissa Delos Reyes

myTaste.com

Pineapple Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

I am Justine Michael (JM) De Guzman. A 26-year old Information System Developer and a very passionate home cook from the humble town of Limay, from the province of Bataan. I worked at a Government agency as a System Developer, had a break due to burnout, and that’s when I started focusing on my kitchen (which will soon be a little less, because I’m about to get back on my career track).

How did I get into cooking and food? Well I don’t exactly know when, but all I can remember was ever since I was a little boy, I used to lurk around with my mom, aunties, and Lola in the kitchen. While other kids of my age play outside, I on the other hand was busy buzzing around my mom’s kitchen staff. I used to ask a lot of questions about how our food was done. I would always insist on chopping and slicing the ingredients for our lunch. And I would be the first to ‘tikim’ (taste) my Lola’s dish. Yeah, since childhood, I was into food and cooking. I’m always present when and wherever there’s food.

Though I never really had the opportunity to pursue my passion in cooking until I graduated college, my parents wouldn’t allow me to enroll into culinary or any related program because it’s ‘mahal’ (expensive). We were financially unstable during those times. My mom had cancer, and thank God she’s a very lucky and blessed survivor up to this moment. Going back to the story, it was actually my dentist who became my stepping stone on getting into the real world of cooking. Long story short, she has a sister, who happened to be a celebrity chef who resides in Manila, who is also a lecturer at a premier culinary institution in the country. She endorsed me to her for a scholarship grant given by the said school. So I got in, studied, and trained for months. Voilà!

After my culinary training, an opportunity came, not in the cooking industry though, so I still haven’t really experienced cooking for a living. That’s when I started my career in my field of profession (information system). I worked at the office, but my passion, or should I say obsession for cooking never faded. I’ve been known by my colleagues as the guy who cooks and the guy who has baon (packed food) 🙂 Food became my motivation for work. I always wonder what to cook for dinner when I get home, and for my baon for tomorrow’s lunch.

I began exploring different cuisines, by researching through the web, books (I started collecting books about food), food channels, etc. Aside from food and cooking, my other fascinations include history (Asian history), linguistics, society, and culture. I started to appreciate our food, Filipino food – Southeast Asian food, and those are great factors that shaped up my style and way in cooking. I developed my standards, philosophy, and list of ‘musts’ in my cooking. I rarely cook foods these days that are Western in my point of view. I’m so patriotic. Ingredients should always be fresh and sourced by me. LOL. Ingredients that can be made from scratch must never be substituted with industrially manufactured ones (I hate sinigang mix!). You’ll never see stuff like tomato sauce, sinigang mix, and stew mix, etc. in my pantry.

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

If I remember it right, I started following Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s IG posts since last year. I really love her content and I frequently visited her blog as well. It was on the first day of May this year when I received a message from her asking about my interest in being part of her Auguest series.

The dish I’m sharing is of my own creation That said, this isn’t a traditional and commonly home cooked dish in most Filipino households. I’ll just call it Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. Before diving into the recipe, let me share some insights about this dish. As I’ve mentioned before, I have these so called “standards, philosophy, and musts” in my cooking. As much as I can, I don’t use industrially manufactured ingredients, so this dish uses fresh pineapple (but you guys can use the canned one, it’s just me. LOL.).

My philosophy in cooking:

You shouldn’t cook or eat food just to survive or satisfy your hunger. For me food must be respected, consumed, and celebrated every time, along with the stories it underlies with. That’s why it’s important for me to know the background and the story behind one dish. Like why this is cooked this way, why these ingredients are used, etc.

Fun fact, I have this odd habit, just before we eat at home, I first gather the attention of everyone. I weirdly and literally discuss the dish we have on the table, the name, and the ingredients, how I cooked it, what’s its origin (if it’s a traditional dish), my reasons and inspiration of coming up with the dish if I just made it out of creativity and imagination, the taste profile, etc. Just like you do it in a culinary school. Only after that will then they’re allowed to eat. LOL. It’s weird right?! But it’s true. No kidding aside.

Again, this is not a traditional Filipino food per se, but I still call it Filipino food. When we say Filipino cuisine, we’re basically dealing with food that’s been shaped by various factors. Culture, beliefs, traditions, religion, local and indigenous ingredients, influences locally, and internationally. Pinoy foods’ characteristics show strong Southeast Asian/Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and Indigenous influences. I always use them in reference whenever I’m developing a dish, just so that I could come up with a more meaningful one. Like, when I think of an ingredient(s) to be used for my dish, I always make sure, it has to be significant to one’s culture or tradition. I wouldn’t use jalapeño or habanero pepper for my Bicol express, simply because it’s not native nor a traditional Filipino ingredient. You get my point, right? LOL 🙂 I always make sure that each ingredient used is there for a reason; it’s not just there because I want it to be there.

So, Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. As the name implies it’s pork braised in a sauce base with pineapple and coconut cream. Why pork ribs? Well, we Filipinos love our pork. Right? Who doesn’t love pork ribs! Pineapple is my hero ingredient. This is a very common ingredient used in Filipino cooking, and I’ve seen lots of traditional dishes that use it as the base or just a “sahog” (topping). My mom would add juice from a pineapple in her caldereta and hamonado dishes, and fresh chunks in her curry. Then we have coconut. What represents Southeast Asian/Pinoy food more than coconut? I’m a huge fan of gata, and I often cook dishes with gata as its base. It is a shared ingredient among ASEANs. The aromatics I used were shallots, garlic, and ginger – the Filipino mirepoix 2.0 as I call it, as 1.0 being the forever trinity of tomatoes, shallots, and garlic. I added spices into it, which is not a very common practice among Filipino cooking, aside from our ultimate spice known as “black pepper” to give it the curry-like flavour profile – black peppercorn, chillies, coriander, star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon. For the seasoning, I used a balance of both fish sauce and soy sauce. In addition, since this is a sweet-tangy-savoury dish, I added “panutsa” or unrefined block sugar (but seriously brown sugar’s fine).

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | SERVES 5-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 kg pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 1 whole large fresh pineapple, divided
  • 200ml (approx. 3/4 cup) juice from half of the pineapple
  • 4 & 1/2 cups coconut cream
  • 6 red bird’s eye chili, finely minced
  • 6 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or alternatively, 1 tbsp cinnamon powder)
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, finely minced
  • 6 tbsp panutsa or brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp ginger, finely minced
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Fish sauce, to season
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to season

METHOD

  1. In a large wok (kawa) over high heat, sear the ribs until browned and develops a crust on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add a portion of the coconut cream (about 1/4 cup) into the wok. Simmer until the coconut oil separates from its curd.
  3. In the now separated coconut oil, sauté the finely minced aromatics (shallots, garlic, and ginger) altogether. Sauté until aromatics are translucent.
  4. Turn the heat up to high. Return the seared pork ribs back to the wok and then pour in the pineapple juice, remaining coconut cream, all the spices, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
  5. Cover, bring to a medium boil, and then immediately turn the heat down to low.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium heated pan, sear the cubed pineapples until browned and caramelized.
  7. For the last 15 minutes of simmering, add in the seared pineapple. Simmer the dish uncovered, just until the pineapple has absorbed the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with steamed white rice. A little bowl of patis (fish sauce) with crushed chilies is a good accompaniment to this. Enjoy!

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

You can technically call this dish “ginataan”, and you might also find resemblance with hamonado because of its “fruitful” ingredient – pineapple and a hint of “curry-ness” from the added dry spices.

I hope you’ll like this recipe.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | JM de Guzman

BON APPÉTIT

– JM de Guzman

myTaste.com

Auguest 2019: Ferreli Virtudazo

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

I’m Ferreli, the woman behind @acupofjasminerice. I started my account in 2016 as a form of creative outlet. I needed to do something different besides my corporate job. I can’t remember if I came up with that handle because acupofjasminetea was already taken or I was in a phase where I ate ONLY jasmine rice. Haha! For others I only post pictures of food; for me it’s a form of self-expression. It’s also putting myself out there as I reveal bits and pieces of me in the captions and engage with people who comment on my posts.

I started my love for cooking when I was very little. I could think back to the time I made pancakes with my grandmother and fried shrimp crackers with my mom. Those were my early memories of cooking. I think I was 5 years old then! As a child, it was all play. Now that I’m an adult, my perspective of cooking has evolved and so has my palate. These days, most of my posts are inspired by food trends. I take delight in recreating dishes I’ve seen on Youtube and Instagram.

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

I don’t recall who followed who but I remember that my initial interactions with Allison was with her “guess the next dish” on Instagram. I soooo take pride on my correct answers. Lol! I also couldn’t help but be amazed if I guessed it wrong. I’d go “Wow! I didn’t think of that!” I also like that she follows themes because being organized is important to me. I recently tried to be consistent with my themes as well.

I’m excited and honored to be one of her Au-guests. Her theme this month is about fruits and it’s something I can incorporate with food trends. I chose jackfruit or langka because it is gaining popularity stateside. Instead of making a local dish (I can only think of Ginataang Langka. Hehe.), I decided to go for Vegetarian Pulled Pork because it’s something new for me. I’ve found recipes as old as 3 years but I only got to see it on IG about a month ago or so. I’m calling it vegetarian instead of vegan because I’m not sure if the ingredients of the barbecue sauce are all plant-based.

I hope you enjoy making AND eating this dish as much as did. It’s easy to make and it’s something you can add to your #meatlessmonday entry 😉

Recipe adapted from:

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack (approx. 350g) pre-sliced young jackfruit
  • 4 small red onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (or any cooking oil is fine)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar

*If you want to make a vegan version of this dish, you may source for plant-based barbecue sauce as a substitution.

METHOD

  1. Chop the young jackfruit to smaller pieces so the core gets broken down and the “flesh” appears to have the pulled pork texture.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan and sauté the onions and garlic until slightly softened.
  3. Add in the jackfruit, spices, and brown sugar. Mix well.
  4. Add in water and simmer for 30 minutes until the jackfruit is tender and the liquid has almost been absorbed.
  5. Mash the jackfruit with a masher (I don’t have any so I used a wooden spoon. Lol!) until you achieve your desired pulled pork texture and the liquid has fully evaporated.
  6. Coat the jackfruit in barbecue sauce and toss well.
  7. Let sit for 3-5 minutes to brown the jackfruit and to give it a charred appearance.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork” Sliders

After a number of taste tests, my coworkers have said it really tasted like pork. At the same time, they could tell that the last batch I made (pictured) didn’t have the pulled pork feel because I didn’t shred it enough. So, chopping the core and mashing it thoroughly is really important if you want to really go for the pulled pork “look and feel”.

In addition, I agree with several blogs that I’ve read that the barbecue sauce can make or break this dish. I recommend the smoky flavor kind. Some blogs would also suggest pairing it with coleslaw. I’m not into mayo though… My coworkers and I enjoyed eating it plain with pickled jalapeños or kimchi on the side. We also had fun having it as pulled pork sliders. We just packed it and the pickled veggies in a tiny dinner roll and gobbled it up in one bite. Haha!

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork” Sliders

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Ferreli Virtudazo

BON APPÉTIT

– Ferreli Virtudazo

myTaste.com

Amcarmen's Kitchen: Auguest Rundown

Amcarmen’s Kitchen: Auguest Rundown

Hello Everyone! I just thought that I’d give an update regarding my Auguest series on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. The last I gave and introduction on this was back in 2015 and realised that the mechanics that I mentioned in that post is totally different on how I have been approaching Auguest for the past years.

Before I begin, let’s start off with a nutshell summary of what Auguest is really all about – other than the obvious spelling mistake. For starters, it’s not a spelling mistake. The funny thing is that since I started this ‘Auguest’ series, I’ve completely forgotten how to spell August the correct way. Every time I have to write or type August, my mind automatically inclines me to spell is as Auguest. So why Auguest? Basically, guest bloggers and/or foodies will be taking over Amcarmen’s Kitchen for the month of August – Au-guest.

Polvorón Pops (Popvoróns)™Polvorón Pops (Popvoróns) by Jialing Mew, ‘Back to your Roots’ Auguest 2015.

The idea for the series was based on a famous YouTube celebrity known as Tyler Oakley. If you don’t already know him, you can look him up on YouTube, especially his ‘Auguest’ collaboration videos. In a nutshell, he started something known as ‘Auguest’ back in 2013 where for everyday (maybe just weekdays I can’t remember) in August, he uploads collaborations with other well-known YouTubers. So therefore, my idea will be based on the concept of featuring other foodie friends and/or food bloggers and have them guest blog on Amcarmen’s Kitchen every year for the month of August.

So with saying that, I gather my foodie friends (both old and new faces) to submit their recipes based on the theme for the year, to share with everyone some new ideas and techniques that they may have. We all come from different parts of the world, so it’s good to see what can be made out of ingredients that we may not be familiar with! And that’s basically it.

Quinoa Black Bean TacosQuinoa Black Bean Tacos by Diandra Cappelut, ‘Yes Ve Gan!’ Auguest 2016.

Here are some frequently asked questions that have popped up over the years, and I’ll be sharing the answers with you (for those I have approached and/or for those who are interested on hopping onboard, for this year and the succeeding years to come) in case you have these questions floating on your mind as well:

FAQ #1: Do I need to have a (food) blog to be able to participate?

No you don’t! Many of the Auguesters that have been featured on Amcarmen’s Kitchen in the past do not have blogs. Though to qualify, you must at least have a passion for cooking and/or food. Creativity is also amiable.

FAQ #2: Are there any restrictions as to what I can cook?

There are no particular restrictions, as long as you stick to the theme for the year! You can cook up a savoury or sweet storm, for any meal of the day. The only time where restrictions may be applicable is if the theme itself is restrictive, i.e. for Yes Ve Gan! back in 2016, of course you won’t be able to cook with animals and their by-products, but other than that, you can let your creativity run wild! Also, try to avoid dishes that I’ve already covered on my blog, unless you’re going to do your own take on it.

FAQ #3: How many recipes will I need to submit?

Ideally, you will only need to submit ONE (1) recipe. However there are times where I may need you to submit two (2) just because of the number of participating Auguesters being less than what would allow me to feature at least two (2) recipes a week for Auguest. Don’t worry! If I need you to submit two recipes, I will inform you in advance to give you ample time to get your creative juices flowing and submit your recipes on time.

Blueberry Cheesecake Tarts (Gluten Free)Blueberry Cheesecake Tarts (Gluten Free) by Simon Swaddling, ‘Blood Pressure Friendly’ Auguest 2017.

FAQ #4: How will I know when my recipe will be posted?

A month before August creeps up on us, I’ll inform you of when I have scheduled your recipe to be uploaded on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. You may also request when you’d prefer your recipe to be uploaded, provided that no one else has already claimed that specific date (the very last day is always reserved/taken by my very best friend). Just make sure to inform me ahead of time. Also note that during this time, my upload schedules will only be every Wednesday & Sunday.

FAQ #5: When do I need to submit my recipe?

You may send it in as soon as you are done – this can be a month before, or at the very least, a week before your recipe is due to be posted. Of course, the earlier the better! This is to give me time to proofread your write up and edit your photographs.

FAQ #6: How many photographs of the final dish do I need to submit?

There is no limit to how many photographs you will need to submit, however I may filter through them and possibly choose a maximum of five (5) to post. Consider sending in your best ones! Also please take note on the file size of your photographs – nothing less than 2MB or pixel width of 1000. Make sure your photographs are well lit and not blurry. You don’t have to do a methodical step-by-step photo guide, just a photo of the ingredients used to make your dish and different angles/orientations of the final outcome. You may also do a before/after shot if applicable.

Salmon Fish Cakes with Oven-baked EggsSalmon Fish Cakes with Oven-baked Eggs by Shazrinah Shazali, ‘Sweet & Savoury Breakfast’ Auguest 2018.

Of course if you have any other lingering questions on your mind, please do not hesitate to drop me an email at amcarmenskitchen@gmail.com and I’ll be more than glad to answer them for you!

Here’s a guideline of things you will need to include in your write up (besides the recipe of course):

  • Introduction to yourself (this may include a brief insight into your personal life, and most importantly, how you got into cooking and food, if you are a returning guest foodie, then you may wish to cover how you’ve grown over the past year)
  • How you know me (if this is your first time to guest on Amcarmen’s Kitchen)
  • Introduction to your featured dish (this may include information on your selected hero ingredient, the history of the recipe if applicable, etc.)
  • Indicate prep time, cook time, and number of servings
  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • Conclusion

And here’s a list of things you will need to submit altogether:

  • Blog post write up
  • Photographs of your dishes (at least one of the photographs must be in portrait orientation for the purpose of IG stories)
  • A picture of yourself (for the purpose of IG stories)
  • Your full name (first and last will suffice, for the purpose of IG stories)
  • Your blog website and/or IG handle

Sò Lông Nướng Mỡ Hành (Grilled Mussels with Buttered Green Onions)Sò Lông Nướng Mỡ Hành (Grilled Mussels with Buttered Green Onions) by Marissa Mai, ‘Back to your Roots’ Auguest 2015.

Feel free to also share on your blogs and/or social media pages when your recipe has gone live. Please also remind me to send you a bit.ly link to your post for sharing purposes.

So before I end, I realised I’ve said creativity a number of times in the FAQ. Here are a few things to note on what I mean by ‘creativity’:

  • In terms of the recipe itself, don’t just straight up copy someone else’s. If you’re tackling a classic, then go beyond it by adding your own twist to it!
  • In terms of execution, challenge yourself! Work with ingredients that you’ve never worked with before. Be experimentive and create unlikely food pairings or fusions of cuisines!
  • In terms of plating, don’t just plop it all on the first plate you see. Of course I don’t expect you to be a plating genius, but do consider the type of plate you need to use, the colour, size, etc. that will best represent your dish. Also consider how each element will look like on the plate!

Raw Nutty Orange & Blueberry Vegan 'Cheesecake'Raw Nutty Orange & Blueberry Vegan ‘Cheesecake’ by Wong Miao Hui, ‘Yes Ve Gan!’ Auguest 2016.

I hope this guide to my Auguest series has been helpful, especially to those who are new to it and to those who want to hop onboard! I’m excited to see what’s in store for the upcoming Auguest series!

Cheers!

– Ally xx