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

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Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Hello Everyone! I know that one of my Mom’s family friends had been asking for this recipe from way back when she showed a picture of this dish to her at the time I put it together (probably back in July); well I’m glad to say that’s it’s finally here and I do apologise for getting it up really late.

I mentioned in my last post that I have a lot of personal and work stuff going on, and things have still been a bit rough – actually to be honest, I don’t think it is as rough as I say it is, but let’s just say my mind has the tendency to drift into a dangerous place which turns my usual cheerful mood to the complete opposite from time to time and I haven’t been able to get out of it since last week. I guess my mood has been making me think that it’s been rough; maybe I should stop listening to Sam Smith’s “Too Good at Goodbyes” on repeat … I can’t get enough of it though because it’s a really good song, but on the other hand, it’s putting a lot of unnecessary thoughts into my head. Well on top of that I guess it doesn’t help that work is getting crazy busy that I can barely keep up with it. Anyway I’m not here to talk about this, so onward with tonight’s recipe!

Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

As you know, or maybe not depending on if you’ve read my post from the beginning of the year back in January, or if you already know this from your own research and reading, there are nitrates in the juice of beetroots that have been found to bring down one’s high blood pressure within just 24 hours. If you’re not a keen beetroot juice drinker, you can easily add this vegetable to your diet by roasting or steaming the whole root and then add it to a green-packed salad, stir-fry, stew, or in this case, make a nutty and creamy beetroot pesto that’s far from tasting beet-y the way beets do for those who don’t sit well with its taste.

Tonight’s recipe is so much more versatile than just adding it to your favourite pasta. It is a delicious sauce for your salads, pizza, and appetizers to spread on to toast with eggs or dip crudites in for the ultimate seasonal flavour fix! You can pair your Angel Hair Pasta with a delicious and juicy road chicken breast or keep it completely vegetarian. I’m sure there’s a vegan recipe for beetroot pesto as well, just don’t forget to replace your pasta with a vegan-friendly one.

You can find the original recipe that I referred to for this Beetroot Pesto over on Akis Petretzikis.

Beetroot Pesto Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the beetroot pesto sauce

  • 400g whole raw beetroot, washed
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 grated parmesan
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 500g angel hair pasta

For the roast lemon rosemary chicken*

*I’ve linked my recipe for Lemon & Thyme Roast Chicken which is essentially they same except that I replace the thyme with rosemary just because when I went grocery shopping that weekend, they didn’t have fresh thyme on the shelves but had rosemary instead. You can top your pasta with some chicken or keep it meat-free; it’s completely up to you!

METHOD

  1. In a pan of boiling salted water, boil the beetroot for about 15-20 mins or until tender. Drain and leave to cool before peeling (wear clean rubber gloves to peel if you want to avoid beet-stained hands). Reserve about a quarter cup of small cubed beets to garnish on top of your pasta dish.
  2. Roughly chop the beetroots in to small chunks and purée them in a blender for about 30 to 45 seconds.
  3. Add the olive oil, garlic, and season with ground sea salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to blend for another 30 seconds before adding the chopped walnuts and grated parmesan. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  4. Cook the angel hair pasta according to packet instructions in a pot of boiling salted water. It should take no longer than two minutes, but I like to slightly undercook my pasta since I will be further cooking it again.
  5. When the pasta is ready, reserve some of the pasta water and drain. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir the beetroot pesto in. Add the pasta water if necessary to make the sauce as creamy as you like. Once coated, turn the heat off and divide equally to individual dishes.
  6. Top the pasta with the grated zest from 1 lemon, extra grated parmesan, more chopped walnuts, and the beetroot cubes. Optional to serve with juicy slices of Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken. Enjoy!

Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Hello Everyone! Firstly, I’d like to apologise to the moon and back to all my friends and followers for not posting in what seems like (or quite frankly has been) forever! A lot of things have been going on for the past few months, both in my personal and work life that I found it difficult to balance alongside with keeping up with Amcarmen’s Kitchen. The truth is, I haven’t had the time to write, or let’s just say that I did have the time, but I was either using my time unproductively or for something else instead of sitting down and getting back on track with posting. So yes, I am very sorry for the lack of consistency of posting on the blog in the recent months, but I’m planning on getting back on board with this for the remaining 3 months of 2017 (hopefully). It will however be a little scattered in a sense that you won’t see a set theme for the month just because I still have an archive of recipes that never got posted from the previous months.

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Back in July I started to hero beetroot in my cooking, and I shall continue that for the next two weeks (I think) before I share other recipes that still stick with the theme for 2017 which is Blood Pressure Friendly foods. Before I jump onto the recipe, I’d like to thank my friends Simon Swadling and Jialing Mew for contributing their recipes for this year’s Auguest – and yes, another thing that I did not plan properly for with everything going on so I apologise that I could only round up these amazing two friends for you!

Anyway, so somewhere down the path of whipping up this batch of beetroot brownies, which by the way includes Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Spice Dark Chocolate, I made the realisation that I basically just made red velvet brownies *cheeky grin* but of course, what makes a nice warm slice of heaven without ice cream? Specifically Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream? Even MORE specifically, chunks of chocolate from Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Hawke’s Bay Black Doris Plum and Roasted Almonds Dark Chocolate? I think I just drooled. Cold ice cream with a kick of spice in it to really heighten the flavours atop a chocolatey, chewy, and moist brownie drizzled with a vibrant beetroot icing glaze? I’ll have the whole batch please thank you very much.

The original recipe to the brownies can be found over on BBC Good Food, and the original recipe to the beetroot ice cream can be found on Vegan Heaven.

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 12 SLICES

Note: Make the ice cream either the day before or a few hours (4-5 hours) to allow for freezing time before baking your brownies.

INGREDIENTS

Beetroot Brownies Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 500g whole raw beetroot, washed
  • 250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped*
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 1 & 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the beetroot icing glaze

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp beetroot juice

Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream Ingredients

For the ice cream

  • 500g whole raw beetroot, washed
  • 1 cup thick full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate (Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Hawke’s Bay Black Doris Plum and Roasted Almonds)
  • 1 piece thumb-sized ginger, grated

*As mentioned earlier, I used Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Spice Dark Chocolate. But since I only had 100g of this, I used regular dark chocolate for the brownies and added half of the Whittaker’s chocolate to the mix, while the other half sprinkled on top of the baked brownies.

METHOD

  1. Boil the beetroots for both for the brownies and ice cream, in a pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 mins or until tender. Drain and leave to cool before peeling (wear clean rubber gloves to peel if you want to avoid beet-stained hands).
  2. Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream: Roughly chop the cooked beets into small chunks and place them together with the coconut milk, honey, and the grated ginger in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer the beetroot-coconut mixture in a freezer-safe container, stir in the chococalte chunks and freeze for about 4-5 hours, whisking slightly every 20-30 minutes to avoid it getting too icy.
  4. Beetroot Brownies: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4) and grease a 10cm x 25cm baking dish. Chop a third of the cooked beetroots into small cubes and blitz the remainder in a blender or food processor to a paste. Sit the paste in a sieve over a bowl – just until you have collected 1-2 tbsp juice. Save the juice for the icing, and mix the olive oil into the beetroot paste. Set both aside.
  5. Bring a pan of water to a bare simmer and place a heatproof bowl with the chopped chocolate. Lightly stir until the chocolate had melted then set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Use an electric whisk to beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until light, fluffy, and tripled in size. Carefully fold the eggs into the beetroot and olive oil mixture, followed by the melted chocolate. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder, then add macadamia nuts and the chopped beetroot.
  7. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 mins. The brownies should still be slightly gooey in the middle. Set aside to allow to cool slightly. While cooling, you can thaw your beetroot ice cream for 5-10 minutes before scooping and serving
  8. Mix enough reserved beetroot juice with the icing sugar to get a runny icing – dilute with water if you need. Remove brownies from the tin, drizzle with the icing and cut into squares.
  9. Enjoy a sinful slice or two, or more (who’s gonna stop you?) with family and/or friends, or you know, just by yourself *cheeky grin*.

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

Hello Everyone! Finally I am (sort of) back on track with things on here and I apologise for falling behind. Things have been starting to build up at work and my quieter days are starting to become a little hectic, but still not full on crazy at least. That’s bound to happen somewhere in October and I am so not looking forward to late nights in the office and puffing up the eye bags then.

So! As always when I say this (but never happens), I’m going to keep tonight’s post short because it’s late and I need sleep. The theme for the month of July on Amcarmen’s Kitchen is BEETROOT! If you remember from my post earlier this year in January, beetroot is one of the 20 foods I listed out that can help lower your blood pressure. People with High Blood Pressure saw significant improvements from drinking beetroot juice. The nitrates found in the juice brought down one’s high blood pressure within just 24 hours. If you’re not too keen on drinking beetroot juice, you can easily roast or steam the whole root and add it to a green-packed salad, stir-fry, or stews.

If I’m being honest, I never really took a liking to the taste of beetroot. For me it always had this aftertaste of eating soil – probably because of it’s earthy flavour to begin with. Anyway, even if I’m not too fond of it, who know, maybe by the end of the month beetroot might be my new favourite vegetable. Tonight’s recipe is a classic with a modern twist to it:

For the beetroot & white wine cure

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare Ingredients

For the tartare

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare Ingredients

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

*Please allow 24-36 hours for the curing of the ocean trout before proceeding with the tartare recipe.

INGREDIENTS

For the beetroot & white wine cure

  • 800g smoked ocean trout fillet (skin removed)
  • 100ml white wine
  • 100g salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 large beetroot, grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For the tartare

  • 800g smoked ocean trout fillet, cured in beetroot and white wine
  • 1 medium-sized free range egg, yolk only
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp baby capers
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salmon roe (optional)
  • Cooked beetroot cubes
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Sweet marjoram leaves
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Thin wafer, to serve

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the white wine, salt, sugar, lemon juice, and grated beetroot.
  2. If needed, cut your smoked ocean trout fillet into two pieces to fit into a zip lock bag. The bigger the piece, the longer that the flavours will take to infuse into the trout.
  3. Place the trout inside the ziplock bag and pour the beetroot cure mixture into the bag with the trout. Ensure that all edges of the trout are well coated. Seal the bags and place in the fridge. Turn every 12 hours, and then remove from the fridge after 24-36 hours.
  4. Remove from bag, rinsing off cure mixture, and  pat dry with paper towel.
  5. Dice finely and place into a medium-sized bowl together with the minced shallots, olive oil, ground sea salt and black pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sweet marjoram leaves. Toss to combine.
  6. Plate up accordingly, and top the tartare with baby capers, beetroot cubes, sweet marjoram leaves, egg yolk, and salmon roe (optional). Serve with a thin wafer, in my case we served with a spicy wafer for an added kick to the dish. Enjoy!

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Health Tip: High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Hello Everyone! I am back on Amcarmen’s Kitchen for the year and I would just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year and a Happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese Family, Friends, and Followers! May the Year of the Golden Rooster bring you and your family your family Happiness that comes from within, the best of Luck to keep you pushing, and Peace in all days of this New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai! 恭喜發財!

Now, before I move on to this evening’s post, I just want to clarify to those who haven’t read or been following my blog last month – I did mention that I would be taking a break from Amcarmen’s Kitchen due to the fact that I had a hectic schedule for the past few weeks, preventing me from having the energy to be in the kitchen on my only day off for the month of January. When the New Year kicked in, I had been staying a little later in the office every night to expedite the completion of the many design collaterals needed for the 19th Consumer Fair that happened just last week from the 18th to the 22nd of January 2017. Right after the Consumer Fair, we had family friends visiting us for 5 days, and then I had a Car Launching Event to manager alongside another colleague just 2 days ago. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since the start of the year and I still haven’t been able to have a good rest as the inevitable post-Consumer Fair virus decided to kick in. I am currently, and slowly recovering from a blocked nose, an itchy throat, and a migraine as I am writing this post. Thank goodness for the long weekend ahead, otherwise I wouldn’t be seeing myself recovering for the next week or so.

Now, all that aside, let’s get onto tonight’s post! Tonight will be something different, but it will serve as the ultimate guideline for the year to come. As you can see from the title, the main focus of this post is to target High Blood Pressure, or also known as, Hypertension. In my recent trip to the Philippines, back in the middle of 2016, I underwent a health check as part of my requirement to process my employment permit to work in Brunei. It was then that I found that I suffer from high blood pressure. I admit that when I found out about this, I was feeling a little bit depressed; and whilst I was still in the Philippines back then awaiting for the approval of my employment visa, I sat down and started researching on hypertension and what foods to eat/avoid to help regulate blood pressure levels. Ever since I found out about my blood pressure levels being exceedingly high, I have also made changes to the food I eat, and have tried to become more active in my lifestyle habits.

High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension, is a serious health problem, where over time it causes blood vessel damage that can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other health problems. Hypertension is sometimes known as the silent killer because there are no real symptoms to detect whether or not you are prone High Blood Pressure. If you don’t get your blood pressure checked regularly, hypertension could go unnoticed, and untreated, for years.

Your diet plays a big role in whether you have high or normal blood pressure. Dietary recommendations for lowering blood pressure include reducing your intake of fat, sodium, and alcohol. It is also suggested that you eat more foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. In general, you should eat more high-fibre, low-sodium, low-fat protein sources, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Here are 20 foods & drinks that you should include in your daily diet to help prevent, lower, or control your high blood pressure naturally without the need for medication:

1. Avocado – All you need is about half a medium-sized avocado everyday as it provides 1% of the calcium, 5% of the magnesium, and 10% of the potassium that you need daily. The dark green flesh just under an avocado’s brittle skin contains large amounts of disease-fighting compounds.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Avocados


2. Bananas – Slice a banana into your breakfast cereal or oatmeal, or take one to work everyday for a quick, easy, and inexpensive snack. One medium-sized banana provides 1% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium, and 12% of the potassium you need daily.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Bananas


3. Beets – People with High Blood Pressure saw significant improvements from drinking beetroot juice. The nitrates found in the juice brought down one’s high blood pressure within just 24 hours. If you’re not too keen on drinking beetroot juice, you can easily roast or steam the whole root and add it to a green-packed salad, stir-fry, or stews.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Beets


4. Berries – Blueberries especially, are rich in natural compounds where when consumed, is known to prevent hypertension and reduce high blood pressure. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are easy to add to your diet; put them in your cereal every morning or keep some in the freezer for a quick and healthy dessert.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Berries


5. Broccoli – This cruciferous vegetable is a famous source of cancer-fighting nutrients. One cup of cooked broccoli provides 6% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium, and 14% of the potassium you need everyday.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Broccoli


6. Celery – To lower mild cases of high blood pressure, one would eat about a cup of chopped celery daily. You should begin to see results after only a week or two. Celery contains a chemical that smoothes the muscles lining blood vessels, which increases vessel diameter and allows for easier blood flow at lower pressures.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Celery


7. Fat-free Plain Yogurt – Cool and creamy, yogurt is a star ingredient in mineral-rich breakfasts, sauces and salad dressings, and even in entrée dishes. You can control the fat and nutrient content by making your own yogurt at home for your high blood pressure diet. Here’s a recipe to making your own yogurt at home.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Fat-free Plain Yoghurt


8. Hibiscus Tea – Hibiscus tea has been a traditional remedy for high blood pressure and one that must be used continuously to maintain its positive results. Look specifically for tea made from Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is generally made from the flowers and fruit of the plant.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Hibiscus Tea


9. Kiwi – Kiwis contain more vitamin C than a same-size serving of orange slices. One kiwifruit provides 2% of the calcium, 7% of the magnesium, and 9% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Kiwis


10. Leafy Greens – Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, arugula (rocket), kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and spinach are high in potassium. This allows your kidneys to get rid of more sodium through your urine, which lowers your blood pressure. Stray away from canned vegetables though as they contain high amounts of sodium; instead, opt for frozen vegetables as they contain as many nutrients as fresh vegetables and are easy to store.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Leafy Greens


11. Oatmeal – Oatmeal for your breakfast is a great way to charge up for the day. It is high-fibre, low-fat, and low-sodium, which is essentially just what you need to help lower your blood pressure. On its own, oatmeal can be bland; however, you should refrain from adding too much sugar. Instead, add fresh or frozen berries (see point 4) to sweeten it up, and maybe just a touch of honey.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Oatmeal


12. Peaches & Nectarines – Frozen unsweetened peach slices are a great alternative to fresh peaches and nectarines on a high blood pressure diet. Just defrost ahead of time or, for smoothies, simply toss in the blender. One medium peach or nectarine provides 1% of the calcium, 3% of the magnesium, and 8% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Peaches & Nectarines


13. Pomegranate Juice – The pomegranate has been revered as the “fruit of life.” One of its remarkable powers is to improve cardiovascular health. If you drink pomegranate juice to naturally lower your blood pressure, be sure your juice has no added sugars.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Pomegranate Juice


14. Pork Tenderloin – Meat lover’s can now rejoice! You’re probably wondering how pork even made it onto this list, well just 85 grams (3 oz) of pork tenderloin provide 6% of the magnesium and 15% of the potassium you need every day. This lean cut provides plenty of meaty flavour and satisfaction without the overload of saturated fat found in fattier types of beef and pork.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Pork Tenderloin


15. Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes – Potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that can help to lower your blood pressure. One medium sweet potato with the skin provides 4% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium (7% without the skin), and 15% of the potassium (10% without the skin) you need every day. Bake several sweet potatoes at one time so you’ll have a ready supply for quick smoothies and other recipes.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes


16. Quinoa – This high-protein whole grain has a mild yet nutty flavour, contains a variety of health-protecting nutrients along with an impressive amount of magnesium, and cooks in less than half the time it takes to make brown rice. A half-cup of cooked quinoa provides 1.5% of the calcium, 15% of the magnesium, and 4.5% of the potassium you need every day. Quinoa is gluten free, making it a great option if you’re gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. The most widely available quinoa is a golden beige color, but red and black varieties are also available and worth a try for your high blood pressure diet.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Quinoa


17. Red Capsicum – One cup of raw red capsicum provides 1% of the calcium, 4% of the magnesium, and 9% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Red Capsicum


18. Skim Milk – Skim milk is an excellent source of calcium and is low in fat. These are both important elements of a diet for lowering blood pressure. Swap out your higher-fat milk for skim milk. If you’re not a fan of milk altogether, then eat more low-fat or nonfat yoghurt. Just make sure to avoid yoghurt that is high in sugar.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Skim Milk


19. Tilapia – This mild white fish is available year-round in supermarkets and fish stores, fresh or as frozen fillets. You can roast it, bake it, and sauté it, flavor it with a variety of seasonings, and even top it with mineral-rich kiwi-avocado salsa (see points 1 and 9). Just 133 grams (4 oz) of tilapia provides 8% of the magnesium and 8% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Tilapia


20. White Beans – And last but not least, you can use this comfort food in side dishes, soups, and entrées. As a meatless source of protein, it’s a great choice for vegetarians. One cup of white beans provides 13% of the calcium, 30% of the magnesium, and 24% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): White Beans

Of course there are other factors that help control, lower, or prevent high blood pressure such as exercising regularly and keeping an eye on your waistline, but I won’t be going into too much detail on those aspects. Just always remember that eating foods that are rich in minerals is better than taking supplements.

So yes, earlier above I made mention that this list will serve as the ultimate guideline to the monthly themes on Amcarmen’s Kitchen – each month I will pick a certain food to cook with from the list above and dish up meals highlighting the chosen ingredient. For example, I have chosen to focus on Bananas for the month of February. Stay tuned as Amcarmen’s Kitchen will be back with some exciting recipes starting this Wednesday!

Cheers!

*Note: All imagery used in this blog post do not belong to me, they have been sourced from Google Images and Freepik. Likewise, information gathered for this post has been sourced from Dr. David Williams, Eating Well, Health Line & Prevention.

– Ally xx

Cuckoo Callay - YA BACON ME CRAZY

Cuckoo Callay

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Now, I’ve been back to the places twice already, once earlier on this year in February for my last brunch with friends in Sydney before I left to go back to Brunei. The other time I went here was with my family towards the end of May this year to try out their new menu, and to obviously take them to a favourite café of mine (yes I really liked this café from the very first visit I made with my friends). Anyway, the dishes that you are about to see below are a bit muddled in a sense that you will see dishes from their Bacon Festival which launched in the second week of February. The festival lasted for about 6 months I think, and is now no longer on their menu, but don’t fret! They have a whole new menu out and I will also be looking at a few of those dishes in today’s review.

Cuckoo Callay

Firstly, the Bacon Festival; sadly over, but the deliciousness will forever remain! Though I’ve been following the café on Instagram for a while back then, I never really found the chance to pay a visit. When they launched their bacon festival, I made it my mission to go at least once before leaving or else I’d miss out on the festival forever! It was such a great sunny fall day spent with very close uni friends. It was my second last day in Sydney at the time and therefore my last brunch as well before I went back to Brunei. I mean, clearly seeing that I’m back in Sydney, it wasn’t actually my very last time – I just said that at the time because I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the June graduation sessions, and if I didn’t that meant that I’d be away from Sydney for 9 months until November 2015. I’m glad that I was able to graduate in June, so really I wasn’t gone for too long, but I do only have 2 weeks left in Sydney before I leave for good *sad face*

We decided to all order a dish each, and share amongst the 5 of us so that we’d be able to get a taste of everything bacon! Also to note down, all their bacon goods are free range and sourced from Australian pig farmers by Black Forest Smokehouse.

Cuckoo Callay - BACON DAWG
BACON DAWG: Maple glazed bacon sausage with gruyere cheese sauce, tomato and quince relish, crackling, and dill mustard pickles ($16.00)

My least favourite from the dishes that we ordered and only because I don’t like mustard or pickles, so dill mustard pickles? No! Otherwise if I can recall, my friends quite enjoyed this dish, but it wasn’t their top pick amongst the other dishes. I did love the sausage as it was juicy and succulent, as well as the crackling though, well what I could get of it I suppose since we were all probably going for it!

Cuckoo Callay - BACON ALL THE RULES
BACON ALL THE RULES: Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, bourbon bacon, bacon steak, bacon sausage, and bacon-crumbed poached eggs served on sourdough ($24.00)

This dish, though nothing special for me personally seeing as I could whip up something like this at home myself, was a good dish. It was jam packed with meat, eggs, and toast; a classic hefty breakfast. I know this is probably something you probably wouldn’t comment on, but the eggs we’re cooked perfectly with an oozy, runny yolk. I’m commenting on the eggs because you would not believe the many places I’ve been to that say poached eggs and the yolk was a disappointment – basically overcooked. Cuckoo Callay did not disappoint!

Cuckoo Callay - DON'T GO BACON MY HEART
DON’T GO BACON MY HEART: Beer candied bacon and popcorn chicken burger served with beer and tomato chutney, mustard aioli, and ‘slaw on brioche ($19.00)

I don’t really remember if I liked this dish or not – then again I guess not being able to remember a dish means that it didn’t have an impact on me. I don’t think it was bad, but it didn’t impress either. As long as there was bacon, but not just any bacon, beer candied bacon!

Cuckoo Callay - BACON, GET IN MA BELLY
BACON, GET IN MA BELLY: Pork Belly with sticky sweet chilli and fennel seed sauce with bacon, caper, coriander, and lime salad ($20.00)

This was my second favourite dish from the festival. The pork belly was chunky and crispy which was well accompanied by the sticky sweet chilli sauce/glaze it had. The squeeze of lime over the pork belly was a nice hint of freshness along with the capers and coriander. I don’t really like the taste of coriander so I just picked the capers out and ate those 😛

Cuckoo Callay - YA BACON ME CRAZY
YA BACON ME CRAZY: Buttermilk waffles with house-made bacon, caramel and cinnamon ice cream, Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, maple syrup, and chocolate coated bourbon bacon ($20.00)

MY FAVOURITE DISH OF THE BACON FESTIVAL! I love bacon, I love waffles, I love caramel, I love cinnamon, I love ice cream, and I love caramel cinnamon ice cream. Altogether? Heaven. Need I say more? Well, I guess the only things I can say negatively about this dish was that the waffle was a bit soft for my liking. I’m all about the crispy waffle! Otherwise, a superb dish.

Cuckoo Callay - BLOODY BACON CUCKOOTAIL
BLOODY BACON CUCKOOTAIL ($14.00)

I have no words for this, well I do but it’s going to be very biased. For starters, I’ve never had a Bloody Mary before so I was definitely taking a chance on this drink. But bacon makes everything better right? I’m afraid to say not in this case. One of my friends even made the comment saying that, “it tastes like cold pasta sauce” and after that comment, I could not get the image of drinking pasta sauce out of my head. I told you it’d be biased, but for Bloody Mary drinkers, this would probably be heaven for you guys.


So as mentioned above, I was able to revisit Cuckoo Callay a second time with my family when they came to visit. The bacon festival was sadly over (I think the weekend before they arrived actually), but they had a whole new menu out for everyone to enjoy! Before I get into the food, I need to tell you a story about what happened at the café; it’s nothing bad, in fact it was hilarious and I will never forget this story. Anyway, when our dishes came to our table, I of course, whipped out my camera and started taking photos of the dishes. Moments later, I’d say about less than 5 minutes later, our waiter (a charming and cheerful lad I might add), returned to our table and said quite loudly and playfully, “Why haven’t you guys started eating?! Is there something wrong with the food?!” followed by a small giggle. I replied, “I’m taking pictures!” to which he then responded, again playfully with a hint of sympathy, “Oh okay, so everyone has to wait I see”. My Mom then said, “She has a food blog” to which he then gave that raised-head ahhhh expression, and then walked away. It was quite hilarious! I’ve taken so many pictures of food before at cafés/restaurant, but never have I ever been why I’m not eating my food. Well honey, if you just wait for me to be done with my pictures, I’ll gladly eat the food!

Anyway, below are just a few of the dishes you can find at Cuckoo Callay:

Cuckoo Callay - GEORGE'S GORGEOUS COUSIN
GEORGE’S GORGEOUS COUSIN (vegetarian and gluten-free): Marinated avocado and thyme infused confit heirloom tomatoes on sourdough, goats curd, house made basil pesto, lemon herb gremolata, and a 63degree egg ($17.00)

My sister Angela had this dish and I of course had a little bite of it so that I could at least write about the taste of the dish. What I really loved about this dish was the marinated avocados; I mean avocados alone are already just good nought for me with a crack of sea salt and black pepper, but these were simply divine. I can’t quite make out what they marinated the avocados in, but they tasted a bit tangy? Anyway, they tasted so good that I think I might’ve had a bit too much of the avocados than I was offered to have!

Cuckoo Callay - PURPLE RAIN
PURPLE RAIN (gluten-free): Beetroot cured salmon, organic quinoa, chargrilled broccolini, sugar snap peas, avocado, kale, chilli, feta, toasted almonds, and 63degree egg ($21.00)

This was the dish that I had and though the avocados weren’t marinated, I still believe that I made the right choice in ordering this for myself. The dish was packed with lots of flavours and textures, and the runny yolk from that 63degree egg just tied the whole salad together. The cured salmon was something new for me in a sense that I’ve never had beetroot cured salmon before and though it was nice, nothing can compare to Devon Café’s cured salmon for me!

Cuckoo Callay - WE FOUND MARY'S LAMB
WE FOUND MARY’S LAMB: 16 hour slow cooked Moroccan spiced lamb, Israeli couscous, chermoula marinated eggplant, minted yogurt, and pistachio ($22.00)

My youngest sister Alyssa ordered this dish, well more like I ordered the dish for her since she had no clue on what to order. The lamb was very tender and really had that Moroccan flavour packed in it. I really liked the Israeli couscous for the way it looked only because I don’t think I’ve ever seen couscous so big and so round! Besides those two elements, everything else on the dish tied nicely together.

Cuckoo Callay - EGGS ON TOAST
EGGS ON TOAST: soft scrambled ($9.00) with extra marinated avocados (+$4.00)

My mom, though she enjoys food a lot, isn’t much of a big eater and so I ordered a simple eggs on toast with marinated avocados for her. You can choose how you want your eggs, whether soft scrambled, 63degree, or fried, and what extras you would like to go with it from crispy bacon, beetroot cured salmon, duck sausage, to grilled haloumi, marinated avocados, etc. Take your pick really to whatever suits your tastebuds. Anyway, of course before ordering this dish, I had no idea how good the avocados were, so after tasting them from my sister’s dish, I was quite happy with the decision to get extra avocados for my mom’s dish only because it meant that I could have more avocados *insert evil laugh* Anyway, what else can I say? The scrambled eggs were light a fluffy, the way it should be and toast is toast.

One thing that I noticed with Cuckoo Callay’s menu (both for the bacon festival and their new menu), is that they are very creative with naming their dishes; even my Mom found it very amusing! Overall, both dining experiences were delightful, and both the company and the quality of service was on point. If I recall, we had to wait a while for our dishes during the bacon festival, and that was only because the café was jam-packed with a lot of customers. We even had to wait 45 minutes in line to be seated, but altogether worth the wait I must say. The festival did not disappoint! Value for money? Like I mean it’s definitely worth your money in comparison to other places that I’ve been too. My Mother on the other hand, of course having just arrived from Brunei where you can probably get a similar dish for half the price, found it quite expensive. However, before she and my sisters left to go back to Brunei, she did comment on how yes eating out is definitely more expensive in Australia, but you get double the portion than you do back home. I’d give value for money an 8/10. The food probably a 8/10 as well; some minor issues due to personal taste, but nothing bad or mediocre about the food to give it a lower rating.

Cuckoo Callay
Newtown Railway Station
Shop 324B Erskineville Road
Newtown, New South Wales
Australia, 2042

– Ally xx

Scallops with Bacon and Beet Purée

Scallops with Bacon and Beet Purée

Happy Tuesday everyone! Beetroot is making an appearance in today’s post (from the leftover purée I had from the Beetroot Gnocchi recipe I posted last week). So, as you all probably know if you read that post, beetroot isn’t quite to my liking and I have no valid reason as to why I don’t particularly like it. As I said, can’t quite put my finger on it, might be the taste but I honestly have no idea. However, I did not want to waste such good produce so I decided to make something that goes with beet purée, and I found this recipe online that appealed a lot to me, mainly because I love scallops and I rarely get to eat them, or even cook with them because it’s a little bit over the ‘student’ budget (but today I will make an exception).

The original recipe garnishes the dish with goat cheese, and I would’ve added the goat cheese in if I hadn’t actually forgotten about it – yeah, it’s now sitting in my fridge and I’m trying to think of a dish that can incorporate this so I don’t have to store it in the fridge for a long time and eventually forget about it and then throw it out. But enough chitter-chatter, time to get on with the recipe (check out the original recipe here)! Also, before I continue, my scallops weren’t as thick as the ones in this recipe, so it looked a bit flat on the dish for me, but nonetheless, flavour was definitely there.

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 dozen sea scallops
  • 1/2 cup roasted beet purée*
  • 1 bacon strip (in this case I used hickory-smoked bacon), diced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay
  • 1/4 cup thickened cream
  • Ground sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Knob of butter
  • Fresh goat cheese

*See my Beetroot Gnocchi recipe on how to roast beets if you don’t have any ready at hand.

METHOD

  1. Melt butter in a medium-sized frying pan and cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain off any excess oils. Pour out any excess oil from the pan leaving a bit behind, then add in the onions and sauté over medium heat until soft and caramelised (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add the Chardonnay and boil until reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Add the cream and beet purée. Simmer until a thick purée is formed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, pat the scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt a knob of butter in a small frying pan and then add the scallops and cook until they’re brown, about 30 seconds to a maximum of 45 seconds per side (they will be slightly translucent in the centre).
  4. Spoon the beet purée onto a serving plate, spreading in a circular motion. Top with the scallops, drizzling any juices from the plate over the top. Spoon small dollops of the goat cheese, and sprinkle with bacon and fresh Italian parsley.

Scallops with Bacon and Beet Purée

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

Yesterday (30th April) was the 10-year anniversary of the iconic and always quotable click flick Mean Girls. I cannot even begin my obsession over this movie (okay, I’m not that obsessed, I just love it so much that I can quote it all day long). Leading up to this day, I planned a Mean Girls themed party and since its anniversary fell on a Wednesday, we had to bring in a pink dish to share, and of course wear pink as to quote Karen Smith, “On Wednesdays we wear pink”. If you want to skip ahead to the recipe, scroll down, otherwise enjoy reading about my DIY Mean Girls shirt:

Mean Girls Day: DIY Shirts

I was initially going to buy a shirt off eBay but it was a bit too expensive – well that was one of the reasons, the other reasons were the font not being right, not the right shade of pink, etc. Yes, the designer in me kicked in. And then I thought, yeah I’m a designer, why not I just make my own t-shirt? And so I did! I bought a pink tank top from Esprit and can I just say what a snatch! Originally priced at $14.95 and was down to $7.95 – and then a further 50% off from that price! With the help of my lovely friend Tara who does textiles as one of her majors for her degree, she taught me how to screen print using the photo-emulsion technique. Yeap, making my own screen printed shirt was the way to go, literally costed me less than $5 but a bit of time and effort. At least it was something that I am happy with and it turned out so great! “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”

Mean Girls Day: DIY Shirts


So for the pink dish that I made to share with everyone, I made Beetroot Gnocchi. I’ve never made gnocchi before so I was a bit nervous as I didn’t want to screw up and have nothing for my guests to eat, but as always, beginner’s luck was on my side once again. They turned out really well and I would like to say that they taste really good (and I’m sure they do), I’m just not a very big fan of beetroot. It’s just something about the taste of it that I can’t really put my finger on. But as I said, I’m sure they would be so fetch for beetroot lovers.

Beetroot Gnocchi

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

INGREDIENTS

For the beetroot purée

  • 1 bunch beetroot, cleaned and scrubbed (if the greens are still attached, cut them off, wash them, and reserve them for another use such as for salads)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary

For the beetroot gnocchi dough

  • 3/4 cup roasted beetroot purée
  • 2 cups plain flour, divided
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

To garnish

  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Rosemary sprigs

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 250C. Place the beets in a large piece of aluminium foil. Coat the beets with the olive oil and sprinkle rosemary leaves over. Feel free to use plenty of olive oil as we will then use the beet-infused oil to dress the gnocchi. Fold the foil over and crimp the sides closed. This helps keep the beets moist, and also contains all the juices. Place in the oven and roast until tender. Smaller beets take about 25 minutes while larger and older beets can take up to an hour. You can check its tenderness by piercing a fork through them. Once done, remove the beets from the oven and set aside so that it is cool enough to handle. Once cool, you can use your fingers to to rub off the their peels. Transfer the beet-infused oil into a small bowl and reserve for later.
  2. Cut the beets into chunks and place them into a blender. Blend until smooth. Take 3/4 cup of the beet purée and place it into a medium bowl. If you have any extra puréed beets, place them into a container and refrigerate. You can use them for other dishes. Stir in the ricotta and parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper. Then mix in 1 & 1/2 cups of flour (the dough can be made a day ahead, just keep it refridgerated).
  3. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in a bowl. Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Scoop the dough into rounds and transfer to the bowl with flour. Then with the tinges of a fork, press down into the dough and then transfer to baking sheet.
  4. Working in batches, cook the gnocchi in a large pot of simmering salted water. Cook for about 2 minutes or until when the gnocchi starts to float to the surface. Cook the gnocchi for a further 1 & 1/2 minutes longer. Then, using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a serving dish. Drizzle with the beet-infused oil and top with lemon zest, a few squeezes of lemon juice and fresh rosemary leaves.

Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com