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

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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

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

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

Hello Everyone! Week 2 of cooking with quinoa is here and I’ve got a classic recipe with a twist. For those of you who don’t know, minestrone soup is a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables that range from, but are not limited to, beans, onions, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Often, rice or pasta is added to the soup to bulk it up with some carbs. There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or contain a meat-based broth.

I’ve made this soup a couple of times before in the past, and is featured in the Mediterranean section of my blog – but today, I’m going to add a little twist to a traditional minestrone soup. I’m switching out the pasta that I would normally add to my soup, with quinoa. Using quinoa in place of pasta adds extra protein and makes this soup gluten free! In addition to using quinoa for this soup, I’m topping it off with some kale pesto as well to give the dish a touch of freshness – and of course, if you have any extra leftover, you can totally whip up another dish just by mixing it through some freshly cooked pasta! Top it of with some grilled chicken or seared tiger prawns for a complete lunch or dinner. The original recipe for this dish can be found over on Taste Australia.

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the soup

  • 1 can (400g) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (410g) Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 150g bacon, diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup tri-coloured quinoa, rinsed
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, cut into small chunks

For the kale pesto

  • 2 & 1/2 cups kale leaves, shredded
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 small garlic clove, halved
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

METHOD

  1. For the Soup: Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the bacon bits and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat up to high and then add in the garlic. Sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about a minute or so. Then add in the onions and cooking, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the carrot and celery, together with the bay leaf, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes or until soft.
  4. Next, add in the chicken stock and canned chopped tomatoes to the pot. Bring to the boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce the heat down to medium-low and then stir in the quinoa. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, and then add in the cannellini beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until the quinoa and zucchini are tender. Season with a touch of ground salt and pepper.
  7. For the Kale Pesto: Add the kale leaves, parmesan cheese, and garlic into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Combine the juice, oil, and water in a jug, and slowly stream the juice mixture into the kale mixture until well combined. Season.
  8. Divide soup among four equal bowls and top with the kale pesto and extra parmesan if you wish.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

Quinoa Minestone Soup with Kale Pesto

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pappardelle with Homemade Cheese-stuffed Meatballs

Pappardelle with Homemade Cheese-stuffed Meatballs

Pappardelle with Homemade Cheese-stuffed Meatballs

Hello Everyone! Oh wow – it has definitely been a while since I last updated my blog (well, I don’t think two weeks is “a while” but it definitely is for me)! I feel like I’ve lost touch on how to write since my last post, but I’m guessing that it is just the fatigue speaking here. In a nutshell, I’ve been super busy for the past two months, and it was really difficult for me to just sit down and write with a clear mind. I had been staying in the office until 9/9:30pm every night and have been working on Sunday’s as well since April. I know I shouldn’t be complaining because my other colleagues already do this on a daily basis and stay even later as well – it’s just that I am not used to this way of working.

Anyway! So what have I been up to? I don’t even remember if I have mentioned this in any of my previous blog posts – if I have, the annual Sukan Ria Antara Syarikat Inter-company Sports Fest 2016 finally closed two Sunday’s ago. You would think that that would be such a relief, but nooooooo! Just 3 days later, the opening of the 18th Consumer Fair snuck up on us, and that lasted up until Sunday. Though things have slowed down a bit, I still feel the stress from the past 2 months – and I believe it’s just because I haven’t had a proper rest yet. That’s right, right after the closing of the 18th Consumer Fair, we still had to report to work the next day at 8am *sigh*. Well, I’m just excited and really looking forward to the upcoming long weekend to just sit back, relax, and catch up on some cooking for my blog (doesn’t exactly scream relaxing, but cooking does made me happy).

Homemade Cheese-stuffed Meatballs

For the month of June, I will be sharing some delicious pasta recipes with you. I do believe that I mentioned about sharing some yummy mango recipes with you for this month – but I unfortunately did not have any time at all to make any dishes at all and mangoes are not in season anymore. So here’s a recipe for a classic bolognese sauce with pappardelle and homemade meatballs:

Pappardelle with Homemade Cheese-stuffed Meatballs Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 250g pappardelle (or any other pasta)
  • 125g baby brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of chicken or beef stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, cut into small chunks
  • 1 red birds-eye chilli, sliced (optional for that added kick of spice)
  • 1/2 green capsicum, diced
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Knob of unsalted butter
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated

For the meatballs

  • 250g minced beef
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs*
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Bocconcini balls
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

*You can buy readily made bread crumbs from the shelves or you can make your own by lightly toasting some stale bread (if you have some in handy) and then blitz it in the food processor.

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F or gas mark 5). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. For the meatballs: Add all the ingredients, except for the bocconcini balls, to a large bowl and mix until well combined. Shape the mixture into small to medium-sized balls and press a bocconcini ball (cut into smaller pieces if it is too big) into the meatball. Gently place onto the prepared baking tray and repeat with the remaining meat, about a dozen to fifteen balls altogether depending on the size. Place in the oven and bake until browned, about 10 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. For the sauce: Heat about a tablespoon of oil together with a knob of unsalted butter in a large frying pan over medium-high. Sauté the garlic until golden and fragrant, then add the chillies and onions. Sauté until the onions are soft and then add in carrots, followed by the celery, and then the mushrooms. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add the dried bay leaves, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock. Give it a good mix and then turn the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Finally, add in the capsicum and meatballs, cooking for a further 5-8 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle according to packet instructions.
  6. Remove the sauce from the heat and serve over the hot pasta. Top with the meatballs and a handful of grated mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!

Pappardelle with Homemade Cheese-stuffed Meatballs

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Cucumber, Green Apple, & Kiwi Juice

Hello Everyone! Before I begin, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say (before I forget that is), that I am not a huge fan of cucumber. Why am I saying this? Well, it’s only because I realised that I posted a recipe last week with cucumber in it and I didn’t mention about this love/hate relationship that I have with cucumber. I actually paused for a bit there when I was trying to decide whether love/hate was the right choice of words – because it’s more hate and not even an ounce of love. I can’t exactly put my finger on why I’m not all that about cucumber, I just know that if I see it on my plate, I won’t touch it. I don’t know if it’s taste, or texture, or whatever else there is to it. I just don’t like it. However, I do realise that when it is cut up quite small and finely, and it is mixed with other foods, then I’ll eat it, but only because I’m too lazy to pick them out one by one *cheeky grin* Yes, so after all that, I still wonder why I’d drink a juice with cucumber in it. Well, I can’t exactly answer that question myself to be honest.

Cucumber, Green Apple, & Kiwi Juice

This combination of Apple + Cucumber + Kiwi helps improve skin complexion. However, after doing some research, I’m pretty sure that this combination of fruits and veggies help in many more ways that just keeping us from ageing:

In my previous post, I mentioned that cucumbers are beneficial in helping one to avoid nutrient deficiencies, especially those that are accustomed to eating a typical American diet. In addition, cucumbers contain an extraordinary amount of naturally purified water and therefore contains a higher quality of water content than that of ordinary water. It is no wonder that cucumbers should be eaten all year long. Yeah – even after all that research and knowing how good cucumber actually is for my health, it’s still a no, with the exception for this juice recipe and the previous one I guess.

Aside from the health benefits of cucumber, pair it with a kiwi or two and you’ve got your hit of vitamin C and E. It is known that two medium-sized kiwis contain a whopping amount of vitamin C (boosting up to about 230% more than the daily recommended about of vitamin C intake), that aids in boosting our immune system, fights the stress away, and helps protect our skin from ageing. It also promotes wound healing and iron absorption for healthy bones, blood vessels, and teeth. Besides the C, there’s also the E which, a kiwi carries a rare and fat-free form of it. This is a potent antioxidant said to help lower cholesterol and boost immunity. I could write a whole essay on the health benefits of kiwis as the list goes on – but I won’t *cheeky grin*

Lastly, we all know the saying “an apple a day drives the doctor away” – but what does it really mean? Well, apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fibre, and therefore may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. I mean, I guess that pretty much says it all doesn’t it? The list of benefits continue on! And here are 15 health benefits of apples.

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large green apple, quartered and cored
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into thirds
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and halved lengthwise

METHOD

  1. Juice all the ingredients using an electric juicer. Pour into a tall glass and add ice if you want your juice cold. Serve and enjoy, especially on a hot tropical afternoon for a nice refresher!

Apple, Celery, & Cucumber Juice

Swap out the kiwi and go for a combination of Apple + Cucumber + Celery to help prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol, and eliminate stomach upset and headache. We ran out of green apples, so we used the red ones we had in the fridge – I don’t see a difference in using either, but for me it would’ve just looked visually nicer if the apple was green in the photograph hehehe. Happy Juicing!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Apple, Carrot, & Celery Juice

Hello Everyone and a very Happy New Year to all my family, friends, and followers! I’ll keep this part short, and probably write more in my next post as it’s currently way past bedtime for me here in Brunei. I just want to let you guys know that Amcarmen’s Kitchen is back for 2016, kicking it off with some health juices for the month of January! I am also back with an all new upload schedule, which I will probably explain in next week’s post – but basically, from today onwards, tune in to Amcarmen’s Kitchen every Wednesday night for a new post!

So, I think the combination was meant to go like Apple + Carrot + Tomato, in which, this combination helps to improve skin complexion and eliminate bad breath, but we never got around to juicing up this combination – maybe because we didn’t have tomatoes in our vegetable compartment that time? Anyway, we had celery and used that instead. I’m not sure now what health benefits this combination with celery provide, but celery contains an excellent source of vitamin K which is beneficial to the human body as it is required for complete production of certain proteins that are prerequisites for blood coagulation. Our bodies need this for controlling the binding of calcium in bones and other tissues. Other health benefits of celery include: vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and despite being mainly water, celery also provides a fair amount of dietary fibre. So mix that in with some sweet apples and a carrot for more rich vitamins and minerals such as iron, copper, and manganese, and you’ve got yourself a tasty and super healthy juice!

Apple, Carrot, & Celery Juice

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large green or red apple, quartered and cored
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thirds
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into thirds

METHOD

  1. Juice all the ingredients using an electric juicer. Pour into a tall glass and add ice if you want your juice cold. Serve and enjoy, especially on a hot tropical afternoon for a nice refresher!

You may also replace the celery with about a half teaspoon of ginger juice. This combination helps to boost and cleanse our system. Happy juicing everyone!

Apple, Carrot, & Ginger Juice

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Hello Everyone! It a whole new month and you already know what that means! A new month on Amcarmen’s Kitchen means a new theme, and for the month of November, I will be sharing with you guys some of my favourite noodle dishes of all time! But before I begin, I’d just like to apologise for my later than usual post – I’ve been super busy for the past three weeks with things I cannot say yet for security reasons, but yes, super busy that I am always mentally drained and find it difficult to just sit down and concentrate on writing for my blog. I’ll probably be able to tell you guys everything somewhere in February next year, but if you really want to know, you can ask me privately. If I don’t tell you, then you’re probably one of the reasons why I can’t talk about why I’ve been busy on any form of social media 😉

Anyway, noodles were first introduced into the Philippines by the Chinese, and since then, noodles have been adopted into local cuisine with endless variations, those popular being pancit bihon guisado, pancit palabok, pancit canton, pancit habhab, etc. The term pancit is actually derived from the Hokkien piān-ê-si̍t (pian i sit) which literally means convenient food. Tonight, I will be kicking it off with a noodle that has been served on our tables countless times over my childhood years up until now – Pancit Bihon Guisado!

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

When one says pancit, it is usually associated with bihon, which is a recipe that uses very thin rice noodles, fried with soy sauce, some citrus, possibly with some fish sauce as well, and some variation of sliced meat and chopped vegetables. The composition of bihon varies quite a lot because it depends on your personal recipe. I can say that the recipe that I will be sharing with you today did even start out like this when my mom first made it for the family – the ingredients have definitely changed over the years! So don’t be afraid to improvise or get creative with the ingredients; s’long as you’ve got the base of the noodles covered with this recipe. You can even take all the meat out and replace the chicken stock with veggie stock for an all vegetarian pancit bihon guisado!

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30-45 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

  • 450g bihon noodles
  • 100g fish balls, halved
  • 100g thin fish cake, sliced diagonally
  • 3 pcs dried bay leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 pcs thin sliced pork belly, cut into 1cm chunks
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 chicken crown, breasts removed and sliced, bone reserved
  • 1 small brown onion, diced
  • 1/2 a head of cabbage, sliced
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • Ground black pepper and salt, to taste
  • Spring onions, sliced
  • Whole black peppercorns

METHOD

  1. Add the reserved chicken bone, dried bay leaves, about a teaspoon or two of whole black peppercorns, and salt to a medium-sized pot filled with about 1.5L of hot/boiling water. Turn the heat up to high and leave to boil for about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile heat a large frying pan over medium-high and add in the chunks of pork belly. Cook until browned. The oils released from the pork belly should be enough to sauté the garlic and cook the onions, but if needed, add a little bit more oil if there isn’t enough. Then add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and golden brown, about a minute, then followed by the diced onions. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes in total.
  3. Add in the sliced chicken breasts, fish balls, and sliced fish cakes. Season with a bit of salt and ground black pepper and give it a good mix. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then add in the carrots and celery. Mix well and leave to cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Lastly, add in the cabbage and spring onions, and cook until just slightly wilted. Once done, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same frying pan, add the chicken stock to the pan together with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the bihon noodles in and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Make sure that while cooking, you mix and untangle them periodically. Altogether this should take about 10 minutes. Halfway through, add in half of the cooked meat and vegetables to the noodles and mix well.
  5. Serve immediately topped with the extra meat and vegetables, and with calamansi, or alternatively a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Pancit Bihon Guisado (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Hello Everyone! Winter Warmer Month is coming to an end this week *sad face* but surely we won’t be saying goodbye to soups forever. I’ll keep today’s post short only because I am actually just writing this now (maybe 30 minutes before this goes up) and I didn’t prepare it in advance or during the day. I’m keeping it short because I’m really tired, but I didn’t want to skip out on posting.

Basically I woke up at 6:30am today, yes that’s actually quite early for me especially since I didn’t sleep well last night, don’t know why. I got up earlier than usual to get ready and head over about an hour out West on the train, to Brendon’s (brendonthesmilingchef) place for a cooking collaboration that had been planning for just about over a month now. We spent the whole morning until late afternoon shopping, cooking, styling, eating, and talking – and overall it was a successful day. I won’t say what we made today because that will be coming up for the month of August!

Minestrone Soup

Okay (again I always do this), I said I’d keep it short but I’m already 200 words in and I haven’t actually talked about today’s recipe – Minestrone Soup. is a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes. There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or contain a meat-based broth. I’ve made this soup a couple of times in the past and I used risoni pasta and added bacon chunks to it before. Today, I’m keeping it quite traditional, and used left over angel hair pasta hair that I cut into about 2cm long pieces.

Minestrone Soup Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 65 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 375g McKenzie’s Italian Style Soup Mix, washed and drained
  • 150g maple-glazed bacon, cut into bits
  • 1 can (400g) canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup angel hair pasta, cut into 2cm long strands
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste
  • Shaved parmesan cheese
  • Bread of choice

METHOD

  1. Preparing the Beans:
    • Quick method: Put required quantity into a saucepan and cover with water – approximately 3 cups of water for every cup of soup mix. Bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until cooked, skimming if necessary.
    • Traditional method: Soak soup mix for approximately 6-8 hours (overnight if convenient) before cooking.
  2. Minestrone Soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Fry the bacon bits until browned, then sauté the garlic together with the bacon until fragrant and golden brown. The add in the onions and cooking until soft.
  3. Add in the carrots, celery, and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good mix and leave to cooking for about 5 minutes before adding the canned diced tomatoes in. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the prepared beans and further simmer for about 10-15 minutes, in the last 4 minutes, add in the angel hair pasta.
  5. Turn the heat off, and divide equally into serving bowls (4 large bowls, or 5-6 small bowls) and top with some shaved parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with some stone-baked Pane di Casa bread.

Minestrone Soup

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com