Auguest 2018: Brendon D'Souza

Easy Avo Toasts

Hi Foodies! My name is Brendon D’Souza and I run the Sydney Food and Lifestyle Blog known as Brendon The Smiling Chef. I’m so honoured to be guest-posting here at AMCarmen’s Kitchen once again for the third time since Ally started her Auguest series.

In between running a busy collaborative workspace in the heart of Sydney, and a number of side hustles, I love developing fresh and tasty recipes that you will love to cook. Think comforting winter roasts, colourful salads, decadent desserts and much more!

Easy Avo Toasts

Sydney will forever be known as the home of over-glorified Avocado Toast for breakfast (or “brekkie” as we like to call it), and you will always find a variation of this simple recipe at any cafe or restaurant.

Treat your friends to a gorgeous breakfast feast that’s actually super easy to prepare. This is a great recipe for children to make too!

Easy Avo Toasts

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME — MINS | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices multigrain bread
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 2 tsp olive oil

METHOD

  1. Toast the bread to your liking.
  2. Carefully peel the avocado and remove the stone.
  3. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and slice.
  4. Drizzle the toast with olive oil and top with the sliced avocado and season with a touch of salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Brendon’s Tips

  • Jazz up your Avo Toast with a selection of your favourite ingredients.
  • Try smoked salmon, crispy bacon, fried eggs, rocket, feta, sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, roast beetroot or even fresh berries.

Easy Avo Toasts

Easy Avo Toasts

Check out my Instagram @brendonthesmilingchef to keep up do date with all my adventures.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2018 | brendonthesmilingchef

Happy cooking and keep smiling,

– Brendon (Brendon The Smiling Chef)

myTaste.com

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Savoury Orange Sweet Potato Toasts (3 Ways)

Savoury Orange Sweet Potato Toasts (3 ways)

Hello Everyone! Firstly, I would like to apologise for getting this post up TWO days late (compensating by posting earlier in the day today). I’ve been hibernating for the past few days after mentally and physically tiring days and nights of work. I don’t want to get into a long winded description of why since I’m not a 100% in the mood to write, so I’ll just hop on forward to tonight’s recipe. Hopefully I’ll be in a better mood to write next week. Apologies once again! It’s nothing serious by that way, it just that while I’m writing this, my mind seems to doze off and my eyelids just keep getting heavier and heavier, making it hard for me to concentrate even the slightest bit.

But of course I won’t just leave you guys with a less than mediocre introduction – it is a new month after all on Amcarmen’s Kitchen and I have yet to introduce to you the theme for this month! So just a little bit of inside information, probably about a year ago, I saw these beautifully colourful sweet potato toasts in a Coles Magazine spread and instantly knew I had to give these a go. Fast forward a year (or more) later, and I’ve finally decided to whip up Three Savoury Sweet Potato Toasts for you. They are definitely not as aesthetically pleasing as those you’d find on Pinterest though so don’t hate it these toasts look… Underwhelming. I think my toppings were WAY too massive for the potato slices I had, hence an imbalance proportions. I don’t know – the photographs just look weird to me *insert cold sweat emoji*.

So yes, as you can already see, I’m a bit late on the then hot and trendy sweet potato toasts, but that won’t stop me from sharing them with you guys. Sweet potato toast is basically toast, but without the toast. Skeptics question how can it be called toast without the actual toast? Well, if you’re gluten-free, want a little more fiber in your diet, or are tired of bread for toast, then sweet potatoes are a great option as a substitute. In addition, sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene that gets converted into vitamin A in our body – just like carrots and other orange-coloured fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A is important for hair, skin, nails, vision, and plays a key role in immune function.

Savoury Orange Sweet Potato Toasts (3 Ways)

Preparing your Sweet Potato Toasts

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS* | MAKES 5 SLICES**

*Baking time time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your sweet potato slices.
**Or how-ever-so-many slices you can get from a single sweet potato

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large orange sweet potato, wash and dried

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Trim both ends from the sweet potato using a knife and slice them lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slabs using a knife or mandolin slicer.
  3. Arrange the slabs in a single layer on the wire rack and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, but not fully cooked.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow them to cool on wire rack completely before transferring to a storage container. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

When it’s go-time simply add the desired number of slices to your toaster and toast away. Setting it on the highest setting takes only one toasting cycle to get them how I like them (warm, bubbly and crispy on the edges). Just be wary that yours may need more or less depending on the toaster that you are using. Adjust to your liking!

Notes/Tips:

    • Look for sweet potatoes that are relatively shaped like a tube so that they’re easier to slice.
    • Don’t remove the skin because fibre in it is good and it helps the slices hold up better during storage.
    • Using a mandolin slicer gives you uniform slices of sweet potatoes, and is easier and safer than using a big knife.
    • Allow them to cool completely after baking before stacking them in a container or they’ll get sweaty and will definitely take longer to toast when you’re ready to eat them.

Now the fun starts – you get to add toppings! The possibilities are pretty much endless but these three are my absolute favourite combinations for a yummy start to my day!


Avocado, Beetroot & Goats Cheese

Savoury Orange Sweet Potato Toasts: Avocado, Beetroot & Goats Cheese

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 5-10 MINS | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • Avocado slices
  • Beetroot slices
  • Freshly ground black peppercorns
  • Goats cheese, crumbled
  • Lemon zest
  • Spring onion, chopped
  • Sweet potato slice(s)

METHOD

  1. Place the sweet potato slices into a toaster and toast on the highest setting until warm, bubbly and crispy on the edges.
  2. Top with the above garnishes and enjoy!

Smashed Avo, Crispy Bacon & Poached Egg

Savoury Orange Sweet Potato Toasts: Smashed Avo, Crispy Bacon & Poached Egg

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 5-10 MINS | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • Bacon slices
  • Balsamic reduction
  • Poached egg
  • Smashed avocado
  • Sweet potato slice(s)

METHOD

  1. Crispy Bacon: Heat a medium size non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the bacon strips and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side. Place on a dish lined with paper towels to drain the excess oils. Next add the tomatoes and fry in the bacon fat for about 3-4 minutes per side as well. Set aside in an oven to keep warm before serving.
  2. Balsamic Reduction: Next, pour the 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the vinegar to a boil, then turn down the heat down so that the boil reduces to a simmer. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half (for a thinner reduction) or more (for a more syrup-like consistency). If you have impatient tendencies like me when it comes to food, do not increase the heat at this point! Your reduction may burn and you will be left with a stiff, hardened mess.
  3. Poached Eggs: Bring small saucepan of water to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low-medium – the water should be just simmering. Add in the vinegar and stir. Crack one egg into a small bowl and quickly, but gently pour it into the water. Repeat with the other egg. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes, but if you want it a bit more firm, it will take about 4 minutes. To check if they’re cooked right, carefully remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give the yolk a gentle push (you can tell just by your instincts if it is under or over – or perfect)!
  4. Place the sweet potato slices into a toaster and toast on the highest setting until warm, bubbly and crispy on the edges.
  5. Top with the above garnishes and enjoy!

Beet & Salt-cured Salmon

Savoury Orange Sweet Potato Toasts: Beet & Salt-cured Salmon

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 5-10 MINS | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

***Or store-bought smoked salmon will do just fine as well.

METHOD

  1. Crispy Salmon Skin: Preheat oven to 190C (375F or gas mark 5). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly brush olive oil and sprinkle some salt on both sides of the salmon skin. Place the salmon skin, shiny side up, on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Allow the salmon skin to cool before eating.
  2. Place the sweet potato slices into a toaster and toast on the highest setting until warm, bubbly and crispy on the edges.
  3. Top with the above garnishes and enjoy!

And there you have it! Three simple Savoury Sweet Potato Toasts for a great fix of a seriously nutrient-packed brekkie! What do you think about sweet potato toast? Have you tried it for yourself, and if you have what did you think?

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Breakfast Muffins: Brownie, Salted Caramel & Avocado Gelato

Breakfast Muffins: Brownie, Salted Caramel & Avocado Gelato

Hello Everyone! The title of this post already sounds super enticing doesn’t it? Well brace yourselves, for tonight I will be sharing a cheekily sweet breakfast muffin that borderlines dessert. Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast though? If anyone says that you can’t, unfriend them because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life EVER. For those of you that are just tuning in, I usually upload a recipe to Amcarmen’s Kitchen on Wednesday nights. However, yes I am aware that it is a Monday night (in Brunei that is, for some it may be just the morning of), and the reason for the switch up for this month only is because Muffin Making Monday has returned!

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in a post before, but I’ll say it again anyway, I am NOT a huge fan of chocolate. I can already see a few jaws dropping upon reading the previous sentence in pure disbelief. But yes it’s true. I can’t sit down and eat a whole bar of chocolate even if I wanted to. I’d probably get sick after just one bite. Don’t fret guys for there is a however – a slice (or two, maybe more) of a dark, rich, dense, and fudgy with a deep to-die-for chocolate flavour brownie is my exception. Oh and of course, how could I forget my love for the beautiful marriage between dark chocolate and avocado!

Breakfast Muffins: Brownie, Salted Caramel & Avocado Gelato

Therefore behold the Brownie Muffin – combining my Breakfast Muffin series with a favourite dessert of mine! I was going to call this hybrid a ‘Bruffin’ like how Brookies are for Brownie Cookies. Alas, I was disappointed to find that the term Bruffin has already been registered and trademarked for a light and flaky, brioche-like pastry in the form of a muffin! So should I call these Broffins? Sounds less cool than Bruffin *sad face* so I guess I’ll just stick with Brownie Muffins instead of a portmanteau of the two. Check out the original recipe by Shiran over on Pretty. Simple. Sweet.

To take it to the next level, I’ve filled these Brownie Muffins with a sticky and salty caramel sauce so that you’re hit with an oozy gooey treat when you bite (or cut) into them! And of course, you need to complete this breakfast (dessert) with a generous serving of avocado gelato! I sourced mine from my favourite gelato place in Brunei known as Rumah Gelato! Whenever I want my fix of dark chocolate AND avocado gelato, this is where I’m at. I bought a large tub of just the avocado gelato to pair with this recipe, and of course extra to just indulge in happily for the next couple of days.

Breakfast Muffins: Brownie, Salted Caramel & Avocado Gelato Ingredients

Rumah Gelato's Bravo Avocado

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6 MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

For the brownie muffin batter

  • 113g (4oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 113g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For the salted caramel sauce

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 170g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup double cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp sea salt rocks
  • Avocado Gelato or any of your favourite flavours that tickle your tastebuds

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease a 6 hole muffin pan with butter. Set aside.
  2. Brownie Muffin Batter: Place the chopped chocolate and unsalted butter cubes into a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Heat in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl sift the plain flour, cocoa powder, salt, and set aside.
  4. Using an electric handheld mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar on high speed until thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed down to low and slowly add in chocolate and butter mixture, whisking until just incorporated.
  5. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over-mix.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan, filling each case to about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 13-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out with moist crumbs and not dry.
  7. Once done, transfer to a wire rack and let them cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Allow muffins to cool completely on the wire rack.
  8. Salted Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan, melt the sugar over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Once all the sugar has melted, watch your caramel carefully, swirling the pan occasionally.
  9. As soon as the sugar turns amber in colour add the butter and whisk vigorously until all the butter has melted.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream while whisking vigorously until the cream is incorporated well, and then whisk in the sea salt rocks.
  11. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small decorating tip with the caramel sauce. Insert the tip into the top of the muffin, pushing about an inch into the muffin. Squeeze the filling into the muffin. If the filling starts to leak outside of the hole, stop.
  12. Serve with ice-cream or gelato with the flavour of your choice, and drizzle more of the salted caramel sauce atop. Enjoy!

Breakfast Muffins: Brownie, Salted Caramel & Avocado Gelato

Breakfast Muffins: Brownie, Salted Caramel & Avocado Gelato

You can store these Brownie Muffins in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Make sure to let them reach back to room temperature before serving. I personally would prefer to warm them up in a steamer (the oven or microwave usually dries it out even more) because I’d rather have a warm, fudgy, and gooey muffin than a room temperature one *cheeky grin* but like I said, it’s just my personal preference.

Before I wrap up tonight’s recipe, here’s a key extract from Shiran:

Timing is everything: The right baking time is always the most crucial part of making brownies. It only takes a couple of minutes to turn them from rich fudge brownies to a dry chocolate cake. When done, brownies should appear baked on the outside, but the center should still be soft. You’ll need to bake them only until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with very moist crumbs, not dry.
— Shiran from Pretty. Simple. Sweet.

Breakfast Muffins: Brownie, Salted Caramel & Avocado Gelato

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Ropa Vieja con Huevos Rancheros

Ropa Vieja con Huevos Rancheros

Hello Everyone! You guys must be thinking that I’m on a roll here! Three consecutive recipes?! Don’t get used to it because it’s just for this one time to get everything wrapped up for this month so that I can start a new theme for the month of June! I did mention in a couple of posts back that for the month of June, I’ll be switching up my upload schedule day to Mondays, and the reason does indeed correlate to the theme. I’ll keep everyone on their toes for a while longer and come Monday, all will be revealed!

I had lots of fun last night a my friend’s place for sungkai (iftar) and of course to celebrate her daughter turning 1! Tonight’s post is a little later than usual this time around because I literally just came back from another night out for a sungkai catch up dinner with friends. I’ve probably mentioned this before in a post somewhere on this blog, but I’ll mention it again just to clear things up – I’m not a Muslim. I don’t practice ramadhan which then subsequently means that I don’t have to break fast for iftar. Yes I was born and bred in a Muslim country, and even though I have been exposed to these practices for practically my whole life, I wasn’t born into the religion (hint on the ‘Third Culture Foodie’!).

Anyway, tonight’s recipe is sort of another way you can use leftover Ropa Vieja to make similar, but not so Eggs Benny dish. Okay, I mentioned in yesterday’s post about this Latin American café that Jialing and I found during one of our “Fatness Fridays” adventures. While I thought back to this day, I was totally convinced that the Huevos Rancheros dish that I had was a marriage of it and the Ropa Vieja sandwich that Jialing had, but it wasn’t until I scrolled through hundreds of Instagram photos on my feed to recall the dishes to find out that they were two separate things.

Ropa Vieja con Huevos Rancheros

In my last post I said that a Ropa Vieja Eggs Benny came into mind – which it did, but that wasn’t they way I had initially imagined it. In fact, this Ropa Vieja con Huevos Rancheros was how I pictured the ‘Eggs Benny’ dish to look, but in the end I decided to reimagine it just because this didn’t really have the feel of an Eggs Benny dish. However, I didn’t want this dish to end up in my archive of ‘will never get around to posting’ but since this dish is sort of related to the last two I posted, I thought I’d share the recipe with you! I mean, it’s essentially, well practically identical to the last recipe, just a few minor differences, especially with the plating.

Huevos Rancheros, or in English “rancher’s eggs”, is a traditional breakfast dish served as a mid-morning fare on rural Mexican farms – hence its name. The dish is made up of fried eggs that is served atop a lightly fried tortilla (traditionally corn, but other adaptations have used wheat tortillas instead), with a tomato-chilli sauce, refried beans, and slices of avocado or guacamole. You could say that my adaptation to marry Ropa Vieja and Huevos Rancheros together is an amped up version of a humble and traditional Huevos Rancheros brekkie.

Ropa Vieja con Huevos Rancheros Ingredients
Ignore the other ingredients photographed but not mentioned below – the other ingredients are of the ropa vieja dish to accompany this dish!

PREP TIME 5-10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS* | SERVES 3

*Provided that you’ve made your Ropa Vieja ahead of time, i.e. the night before, if not then make sure you allocate yourself 3-4 hours altogether for this recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • Leftover Ropa Vieja
  • 3 super soft flour tortilla wraps
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 2 large avocados, pitted, peeled, and halved**
  • 1 can (16oz) organic black beans, drained, blanched in hot water, and smashed
  • Chopped spring onions, to garnish
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste

**Squeeze a touch of lemon or lime juice to prevent it from browning

METHOD

  1. If you haven’t pre-made your Ropa Vieja for this recipe, then start of with this before moving on to the other components of the dish. Allocate yourself about 3-4 hours prior.
  2. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan. Crack the egg in and fry until the edges start to brown. I personally like my sunny-side up eggs this way – the browned edges gives a nice nutty flavour to the whites which is total yum! Repeat for the remaining eggs.
  3. In a medium-sized non-stick frying pan, lightly heat the tortilla wraps until they start to slightly brown. Remove from the pan and repeat for the remaining wraps.
  4. Place the tortilla wrap on a plate and top with the smashed black beans. Make a nest in the middle and top with the ropa vieja, sunny-side up egg, and halved avocado to the side. Drizzle a bit of tabasco sauce over and sprinkle some chopped spring onions. Serve and enjoy!

Ropa Vieja con Huevos Rancheros

Tune in on Monday for an all new theme and a bunch of yummy recipes!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Ropa Vieja Eggs Benedict

Ropa Vieja Eggs Benedict

Hello Everyone! I’m getting this post up way earlier than I usually do just because I’m about to leave and head on over to a friend’s house to celebrate her daughter turning 1 today! I can’t believe the little munchkin is a year older already – it felt just like yesterday I was holding her in my arms just only being 2 or 3 months old. Gosh how time flies by so quickly! With that being said, I honestly have no idea what time I’ll be back home tonight and thus the early upload.

Tonight’s recipe is a branch off from the Ropa Vieja recipe that I posted just last night. When I was thinking of what other Eggs Benny recipes I could whip up to share with you guys, I immediately thought back to the time Jialing and I had our weekly “Fatness Friday” sessions in-between our classes in search of great food at cafés and/or restaurants that we have yet to explore. One Friday afternoon, we came across a Latin American café in Surry Hills (no, not Cafe con Leche hehe) I don’t actually remember the name of the place. Jailing had the Ropa Vieja sandwich while I had their Huevos Rancheros, and BOOM! A Ropa Vieja Eggs Benedict dish came into mind.

Ropa Vieja Ingredients

PREP TIME 5-10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS* | SERVES 3

*Provided that you’ve made your Ropa Vieja ahead of time, i.e. the night before, if not then make sure you allocate yourself 3-4 hours altogether for this recipe

INGREDIENTS

For the eggs benedict

  • Leftover Ropa Vieja
  • 3 English muffins, halved, slightly toasted, and buttered
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and smashed**
  • 1 can (16oz) organic black beans, drained, blanched in hot water, and smashed
  • Chilli flakes, to garnish (optional)
  • Chopped spring onion, to garnish

For the tabasco hollandaise sauce

  • 3 large free range eggs, yolks separated
  • 175g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tabasco sauce, less or more to adjust to your liking
  • Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste

**Squeeze a touch of lemon or lime juice to prevent it from browning

METHOD

  1. If you haven’t pre-made your Ropa Vieja for this recipe, then start of with this before moving on to the other components of the dish. Allocate yourself about 3-4 hours prior.
  2. Tabasco Hollandaise Sauce: While the balsamic reduction is underway and slowly simmering, start on the Hollandaise sauce. Place a heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan that is quarter-filled with water. Make sure that the bowl should fit snugly into the pan without touching the water (lift the bowl to check and remove some water if it does). Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to very low so the water is barely simmering (there should be almost no movement at all). It is important that the water is barely simmering while making the sauce – if it is too hot, the egg yolks will cook too much and the sauce will curdle.
  3. Place the egg yolks and the 2 tablespoons of water in the heatproof bowl and place over the pan. Whisk the mixture constantly for 3 minutes or until it is thick and pale, has doubled in volume and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted.
  4. Add the butter a cube at a time, whisking constantly and adding another cube when the previous one is incorporated completely (about 10 minutes to add it all in). If butter is added too quickly, it won’t mix easily with the egg yolks or the sauce may lose volume. At the same time, it is important that the butter is at room temperature and added a cube at a time, so that it doesn’t take too long to be incorporated – if the sauce cooks for too long, it can curdle.
  5. Remove the bowl from the pan and place on a heatproof surface. The cooked sauce should have the consistency of very lightly whisked thickened cream. Whisk in the lemon juice, tabasco sauce, fresh thyme leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  6. Poached Eggs: Bring small saucepan of water to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low-medium – the water should be just simmering. Add in the vinegar and stir. Crack one egg into a small bowl and quickly, but gently pour it into the water. Repeat with the other egg. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes, but if you want it a bit more firm, it will take about 4 minutes. To check if they’re cooked right, carefully remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give the yolk a gentle push (you can tell just by your instincts if it is under or over – or perfect)!
  7. Assembly: Spread the smashed avocado on the toasted and buttered English muffin half and top with the smashed black beans. Build up with the ropa vieja followed by the poached egg. Drizzle a generous amount of the tabasco hollandaise sauce and sprinkle some chilli flakes and chopped spring onions. Serve and enjoy!

Ropa Vieja Eggs Benedict

Ropa Vieja Eggs Benedict

Next month I’ll start off with a whole new theme so stay tuned for that! To give you guys a clue, I’ll be switching up my upload schedule day to Mondays just for the month of June. Yes, the fact that I’ll be posting on Mondays does correlate to the theme! My loyal and long term followers may know, and to anyone who wants to take a stab and guess, comment down below!

Don’t forget that the overall theme for Amcarmen’s Kitchen for 2018 is Breakfast Eats!

But before that, I have one more recipe that will go up tomorrow night so stay tuned for that to know what else you can do with leftover Ropa Vieja!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

Hello Everyone! So if you read last week’s post, you’ll know that tonight is part 1 of the actual recipe that I’ll be sharing tomorrow night. I’ve decided to split it up just for easy future reference, i.e. if you’re just looking for a mouth-watering Ropa Vieja recipe without it being in an Eggs Benny, then this is it! I first came across this dish during my university years in Australia. It wasn’t even the main highlight of the dish, rather a small side to go with the Colombian-style Arepas that was  my absolute favourite brunch dish then *drools just thinking about how much I miss having it in my tummy* It was a little place that Jialing had stumbled upon when she took the wrong bus to uni and got off at a stop that was just opposite Cafe con Leche.

Ropa Vieja is actually a Spanish term that directly translates to “old clothes” as the shredded beef and vegetables that are the main components of the dish resemble a heap of colorful rags. Though the dish dates back to the Middle Ages of Spanish Sephardi, it was then taken to Cuba where the Cubans made it their own. Ropa Vieja is now one of Cuba’s most popular and beloved dishes; in fact, so popular in fact that it is one of the country’s designated national dishes! It is also popular in other areas or parts of the Caribbean such as Puerto Rico and Panama.

The traditional method of braising the meat is in water. However, for this recipe, I am going to release all those flavourful beef juices directly into the sauce together with carrots, celery, bay leaves, onion, and garlic to get all the flavours of a stock going at the same time. This infuses the sauce with some umami-flavour qualities and natural sweetness from the vegetables, making everything of braising by this method super rich and mouth-watering. Do check out the original recipe by Kimberly from The Daring Gourmet.

Ropa Vieja Ingredients

Ignore the avocado, black beans, and the egg in the shot above, that’s for the Eggs Benedict recipe to follow tomorrow!

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 4 HOURS 30 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg tender beef chuck
  • 1 cup beef broth*
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine**
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 can (16oz) chopped tomatoes with sliced olives
  • 1 brown onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 medium-sized red, yellow, and green capsicum
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp baby capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Chopped spring onion, to garnish

*Or 1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup of hot water

**The first time I made this dish, I omitted the dry white wine only because I didn’t have any on my pantry shelf at that moment. For those who are living in, or know about Brunei, it’s not as easy as popping over to the shops to buy a bottle. Anyway, I found that the flavours weren’t really brought out as much as when I attempted this dish for a second time with the wine. It felt flat like that pop or zing was missing from it.

METHOD

  1. Pat the beef dry and rub all over with the dried herbs, spices, and seasoning -dried oregano, chilli powder, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, smoked paprika, sea salt and ground black pepper.
  2. Heat about a tablespoon in a slight large Dutch oven over high heat. Once it is very hot and starts to smoke a bit, add the beef and brown generously on all sides. Once done, transfer the beef to a plate. Do not discard the drippings and blackened bits in the pot. They are key to the flavour!
  3. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the minced garlic and cook until slight golden and fragrant. Follow with the sliced onion, cooking until softened before adding the sliced carrots and celery, and the chopped chipotle peppers. Cook for about 15 minutes until caramalised. Deglaze the pot the the dry white wine and bring it to a rapid boil, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, and bay leaves. Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Return the beef and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat down to low, then cover and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the beef is fork tender and falls apart easily.
  6. While the beef is slowly simmering away, you can move onto roasting your capsicums. Turn a stovetop burner to its highest setting and place the capsicum directly on the flame. Use a pair of tongs to turn them over until the skin has completely blackened. Put the capsicum in a heat-proof mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The skin will loosen as it steams, and once it has cooled down a bit, you can easily remove the skin with your fingers under running water. Slice thinly.
  7. Once the beef is done, discard the celery, carrots, and bay leaves. Remove the beef from the sauce, transfer to a plate and shred. Return the shredded beef to the pot and stir in the roasted capsicum and baby capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste and leave uncovered to simmer until the sauce has thickened, about a further 15-20 minutes.
  8. Serve the beef in a large serving dish and enjoy! Best served with steamed rice and black beans on the side.

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

As per Kimberly, for a variation on traditional beef you can also use pork or chicken, bone-in/skin-on for the most flavour, or boneless breast or thighs. I might try this recipe out with succulent pork shoulders next time *already drooling*.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Bacon Eggs Benedict

Bacon Eggs Benedict

Hello Everyone and welcome to an all new theme for the month of May on Amcarmen’s Kitchen! For the month of May, I will be sharing recipes and renditions of a classic go-to foolproof Eggs Benedict! The thing I love about a good ol’ Eggs Benedict dish is its versatility – if you like pork, then go for a Beer-braised Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict accompanied with a Sriracha hollandaise sauce *drools* Or maybe you prefer beef, chicken, lamb, or seafood? The options are endless! You can even take a vegetarian spin to this and go meatless if you prefer. Get creative with the classic hollandaise sauce that makes an Eggs Benedict what it is. Fuse cuisines and cultures.

All this will be covered on the blog this month so do stay tuned on how you can tackle the endless possibilities to make your Eggs Benny experience one to remember! Tonight, I will be starting off with a classic with a slight twist, and as the month progresses, we’ll delve deep into creative fusions that have been inspired from my café adventures back when I was still studying in Australia.

Bacon Eggs Benedict

Now forgive me if I’m giving out false information as I am relying on the world of Wikipedia here. I guess my teachers from high school and uni haven’t taught me well enough to not source from wiki *cheek grin* but anyway, though there seemed to be conflicting recounts on the exact origins of the Eggs Benedict, this one in particular speaks out to me:

Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, said that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered “buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of hollandaise”. Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham for the bacon and a toasted English muffin for the toast — “Talk of the Town”. The New Yorker. December 19, 1942.

Therefore, you could safely say (I guess) that the original main ingredients found in a classic Eggs Benedict dish are eggs, bacon, hollandaise sauce, and an English muffin – popularised by Oscar Tschirky. Okay well, when I said that it speaks out to me, I don’t mean in a sense that I’ve ever been hungover, but that this is what I imagined a morning-after hangover meal would be.

Bacon Eggs Benedict Ingredients

Before we dive in, there’s a slight twist to the classic recipe that I will be sharing with you guys tonight – and the twist is basically just a few extra ingredients to bulk it up and add some zing and tang to it. Tanginess from the balsamic reduction and a slight zing from the chimichurri sauce!

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

For the eggs benedict

  • 6 slices of streaky bacon
  • 3 English muffins, halved, slightly toasted, and butter
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and smashed*
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • Chilli flakes, to top

*Squeeze a touch of lemon or lime juice to prevent it from browning

For the hollandaise sauce

  • 3 large free range eggs, yolks separated
  • 175g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste

For the chimichurri sauce (by Karina from Cafe Delites)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste

For the balsamic reduction

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

So I know that there are a heck load more ingredients mentioned in the list above than what is shown in the shot – apologies! If you want a classic Bacon Eggs Benny without the fancy schmancy reductions and sauces, then feel free to omit. They’re really just optional for an extra boost of flavours to an already flavoursome dish.

METHOD

  1. Chimichurri Sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to release all of the flavours into the oil before using, but I think that the longer it sits, the better it tastes, so prepare this first before everything else to ensure this!
  2. Bacon and Tomatoes: Heat a medium size non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the bacon  strips and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side. Place on a dish lined with paper towels to drain the excess oils. Next add the tomatoes and fry in the bacon fat for about 3-4 minutes per side as well. Set aside in an oven to keep warm before serving.
  3. Balsamic Reduction: Next, pour the 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the vinegar to a boil, then turn down the heat down so that the boil reduces to a simmer. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half (for a thinner reduction) or more (for a more syrup-like consistency). If you have impatient tendencies like me when it comes to food, do not increase the heat at this point! Your reduction may burn and you will be left with a stiff, hardened mess.
  4. Hollandaise Sauce: While the balsamic reduction is underway and slowly simmering, start on the Hollandaise sauce. Place a heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan that is quarter-filled with water. Make sure that the bowl should fit snugly into the pan without touching the water (lift the bowl to check and remove some water if it does). Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to very low so the water is barely simmering (there should be almost no movement at all). It is important that the water is barely simmering while making the sauce – if it is too hot, the egg yolks will cook too much and the sauce will curdle.
  5. Place the egg yolks and the 2 tablespoons of water in the heatproof bowl and place over the pan. Whisk the mixture constantly for 3 minutes or until it is thick and pale, has doubled in volume and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted.
  6. Add the butter a cube at a time, whisking constantly and adding another cube when the previous one is incorporated completely (about 10 minutes to add it all in). If butter is added too quickly, it won’t mix easily with the egg yolks or the sauce may lose volume. At the same time, it is important that the butter is at room temperature and added a cube at a time, so that it doesn’t take too long to be incorporated – if the sauce cooks for too long, it can curdle.
  7. Remove the bowl from the pan and place on a heatproof surface. The cooked sauce should have the consistency of very lightly whisked thickened cream. Whisk in the lemon juice, fresh thyme leaves, and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Poached Eggs: Bring small saucepan of water to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low-medium – the water should be just simmering. Add in the vinegar and stir. Crack one egg into a small bowl and quickly, but gently pour it into the water. Repeat with the other egg. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes, but if you want it a bit more firm, it will take about 4 minutes. To check if they’re cooked right, carefully remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give the yolk a gentle push (you can tell just by your instincts if it is under or over – or perfect)!
  9. Assembly: Spread the smashed avocado on the toasted and buttered English muffin half and top with the crispy bacon strips, tomato slice, and then the poached egg. Top a generous amount of the hollandaise sauce and sprinkle with a bit of chilli flakes to pack a slight kick. Finally, drizzle with the balsamic reduction and chimichurri sauce around the plate. Serve and enjoy!

Bacon Eggs Benedict

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Golden Turmeric Chai Smoothie Bowl

Golden Turmeric Chai Smoothie Bowl

Hello Everyone! It’s been a quiet and boring week to be honest, and I having a serious holiday withdrawal syndrome. I miss the lush greenery of Temburong, crystal clear waters, physical activities, and the sun piercing through your skin – giving you a tan that you’re proud to wear for the next couple of months because it reminds you of the fun times you had. But in all honesty, I just miss going on weekly adventures; a new hike trail every weekend to rejuvenate from the work week. It doesn’t even need to be a holiday, just a 2-day weekend where one of them can be spent going out and exploring, and the other to do chores, cook up a storm for Amcarmen’s Kitchen, and basically recover from the working week. Back in Australia, this was easy to do because there were plenty of trails to explore. Here in Brunei, not so much – and not much of great views too, and the fact that I only have a 1-day weekend.

All that aside, I have a bit of a unique smoothie bowl to share with you guys tonight; and I say unique because I’ve never thought of using these flavours (and spices) in a smoothie before. I mean, besides using spicy chai tea leaves and cinnamon in my Spicy Chai & Banana Cinnamon Smoothie from a while back, that’s pretty much the extent of me using spices in my smoothies.

The link to the original recipe can be found over on My Life Cookbook by Denise. She drew inspiration from ‘Golden Milk’ which, for those of you who don’t know, is basically a combination of turmeric, coconut milk (or oil), and black pepper. This Golden Turmeric Chai Smoothie Bowl is an aromatic, flavour-popping combination of golden milk and chai tea – perfect for an immune system boost if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, but also a quick, easy, and healthy breakfast to go!

Golden Turmeric Chai Smoothie Bowl Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME  | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

For the smoothie mixture

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated

Toppings

  • Chia Seeds – contains omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants, iron, and calcium
  • Goji Berries – excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients that help boost the immune system and protect the body from high levels of inflammation
  • Raspberriesgood source of vitamin C, E, K, manganese, dietary fibre, copper pantothenic acid, biotin, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium
  • Desiccated Coconut

METHOD

  1. Blend the bananas, coconut milk, honey, ginger, and spices altogether until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and top with the raspberries, chia seeds, goji berries, and desiccated coconut. Enjoy for breakfast or an immune-boosting afternoon snack!

Golden Turmeric Chai Smoothie Bowl

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Avocado & Spinach Smoothie Bowl

Avocado & Spinach Smoothie Bowl

Hello Everyone! So yesterday my friend, who is visiting from New Zealand, and I went on a day-trip adventure to the pristine rainforest district of Brunei. We took a 45-minute boat ride from the city centre to the small town of Bangar in Temburong where we then travelled about 20 minutes by car to the Freme Rainforest Lodge where we had some local delights for our morning tea before setting off again on a 45-minute longboat ride to the Ulu National Park.

We climbed almost a thousand steps to get to the forest floor of the canopy walk, and then scaled a total of about 60m to the highest tower above the tallest trees of the luscious green rainforest. Even with multiple layers of sunblock, we were red from the scorching sun and we definitely worked our calves and derrières as we felt our legs shake when climbing back down to head to the mini waterfall for a nice cooling dip. The water was refreshingly blue but had fishes that weren’t afraid to nibble on you. They were the fish spa kind of fishes that really just wanted to nibble on your dead skin, but the fishes were much bigger that the little ones that you find at fish spas, so their bite was a little more scary.

Ulu Temburong National Park Adventures

After we cooled down, we headed back out on a longboat to the starting point of our kayak ride. On the way back down the crystal clear waters we spotted two freshwater crocodiles by the riverbanks – and apparently that didn’t seem to make us second guess our kayak ride back to the lodge. After our relaxing (or should I say, workout for our arms), kayak down the river, we got changed into dry clothes and had our late lunch. We were supposed to go zip-lining after but because it started to pour, we weren’t allowed to. Such a bummer though because apparently it hadn’t rained in Temburong for the past week, and it decided to as we were about to do our final activity before heading back to the main city. All-in-all it was a fun-filled day of nature and adventure – things that we both enjoy.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this little adventure for everyone before I dive right into tonight’s recipe for a lovely green smoothie bowl to match our little nature adventure from yesterday. You can switch out the low-fat milk to almond milk or coconut water, and the honey for agave nectar or maple syrup for a vegan alternative.

Avocado & Spinach Smoothie Bowl Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME  | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

For the smoothie mixture

  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 tbsp honey

Toppings

  • Bananas – loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6
  • Chia Seeds – contains omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants, iron, and calcium
  • Goji Berries – excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients that help boost the immune system and protect the body from high levels of inflammation
  • Granolacontains vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients, including, but not limited to, dietary fibres, sodium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C & E, niacin, iron, and thiamin
  • Kiwis – loaded with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, B6, B12, E, and potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium
  • Raspberriesgood source of vitamin C, E, K, manganese, dietary fibre, copper pantothenic acid, biotin, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium

METHOD

  1. Blend the spinach, milk, banana, avocado, and honey until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and top with the raspberries, kiwi slices, chia seeds, granola, goji berries, and banana slices. Enjoy for breakfast or a power-boosting afternoon snack!

Avocado & Spinach Smoothie Bowl

As I have mentioned in last week’s post, whipping up a smoothie bowl is a great opportunity to get creative and top them with whatever you have lying around in your pantry and/or fridge. Top them with your favourite fruits, seeds, nuts, and grains!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Breakfast Muffins: Avocado & Blueberry

Breakfast Muffins: Avocado & Blueberry

Hello Everyone! I hope you guys had a good Easter weekend! Even though we don’t get a long Easter weekend here in Brunei, I did still manage to enjoy my Easter Sunday day off. I can’t believe that there’s only less than 2 weeks of April left and that May is just around the corner! Time sure flies by when you’re (not) having fun at work. Haha! I know I’ve mentioned this in previous posts about how everything is just becoming routinely for me and it’s actually becoming quite depressing. I’m in need for a little excitement in my life. I think my thoughts have been heard because I’m flying off tomorrow night for a little staycation in the Philippines! The company I’m working at is sending me and three other colleagues to the Philippines for a little work/play adventure, attending events and meetings on behalf of the company, and of course what’s a trip to the Philippines without a little summer fun in the sun? I mean, it’s pretty much our tagline – It’s More Fun In The Philippines!

Breakfast Muffins: Avocado & Blueberry

On this note, I definitely won’t be uploading a post next week because I’ll be away from Thursday to Monday night. Since my Sunday, and the public holiday on Monday is taken up for this trip, I won’t have my dish prepared for a post. So this will be my last Avocado recipe for the month of April that I will be sharing with you guys! In fact, after I’ve posted this, I’ve got to get a head start on my packing because I still have to be at the office tomorrow up until 2 hours before my flight – what the heck right? Also, I was only told on Monday that I’d be flying off, and everything was only firmly confirmed yesterday afternoon. As usual, before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please check the original recipe out by Ali from Gimme Some Oven.

Breakfast Muffins: Avocado & Blueberry Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 25-30 MINS | SERVES 16 MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

For the avocado and blueberry muffins

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1 punnet (125g) fresh blueberries
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the streusel topping

  • 30g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 2 tbsp white granulated sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F or gas mark 5). Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases and set aside. Now since this recipes makes about 16 muffins, you can line another 6-hole muffin pan (if available), or if you only have one muffin pan, then bake in batches if needed.
  2. For the streusel topping, add all the ingredients in a small bowl until combined and crumbly. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, add the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon (optional) and stir together to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, add the roughly chopped avocado and using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar in and beat until well blended. Follow with the yoghurt and pure vanilla extract, beating again until just combined.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Add in the other half of the flour mixture and beat until well combined.
  6. Gently fold the blueberries in using a rubber spatula, then spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 of the way. Sprinkle with the streusel topping and place in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted to the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Set aside to cool in the muffin pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool down completely. Serve for breakfast or afternoon tea and enjoy!

Breakfast Muffins: Avocado & Blueberry

Muffins taste best on the same day, though they may be stored covered tightly at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Now, I know I have a couple of friends and colleagues who don’t particularly like the taste of avocado; don’t ask me why because I think that they’re just plain weird for not liking avocado (hehe!), but give them one of these beautiful green muffins and they’ll probably be hooked on it. The avocado flavour in these muffins are not overpowering or predominant, but there is a slight hint of it in each bite you take. These muffins are a classic twist to a classic blueberry muffin and are light, moist, and al the more healthy for you because of the avocado in place of all the other oils you’d otherwise use when making muffins. Top them off with a crumbly streusel to give it an “extra muffin-y sweetness” as Ali says.

Breakfast Muffins: Avocado & Blueberry

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com