Pichi-Pichi (Steamed Cassava Cakes)

Pichi-Pichi (Steamed Cassava Cakes)

Hello Everyone! Christmas is in five days! I hope that those who are on holidays right now are enjoying every bit of it and making the most of the festive season. Well, we’ve reached the end of the first week of our 12 days before Christmas! Another 5 more recipes to go until I wrap things up for Amcarmen’s Kitchen – yes, after Christmas, you won’t be hearing from me until the weekend of the first week of January. I’ll be spending the festive season here in Brunei with my family with endless feastings and, of course, getting fat as usual.

Anyway, tonight, I will be sharing with you another recipe that I picked up from my travels with my Mom to Canada back in the Summer of 2007. Pichi-Pichi (pronounced pee-chee pee-chee) is one of the delicious cakes enjoyed by many Filipinos during special occasions such as Noche Buena, but is not limited to just festive celebrations. It is a gelatinous dessert, or even a heavy mid-afternoon snack, made from grated cassava (or locally known to Filipinos as Kamoteng Kahoy) and freshly grated coconut. The mixture is poured into a mould, then steamed until it forms a sticky-gelatinous texture, and finally coated in grated coconut for an extra added flavour.

Cassava Root (Kamoteng Kahoy)
Cassava (kamoteng kahoy) before and after it is peeled

To prepare the cassava, first wash the root to get rid all the dirt; then, peel off the brown and white silky outer skin. Using a fine grater grate cassava, removing the hard stems in the middle and discard. Keep on grating until you’re done with all your cassava. My Mom and I went to the wet market in the morning to get it grated – much quicker as they have a machine to do it for us, and just for a dollar per kilo grated. Just as an extra precaution, cassava is considered a dangerous food if consumed raw, or it is not prepared properly. The consequences are fatal. If prepared incorrectly, the cassava plant can produce cyanide, a deadly compound when consumed, and if you are allergic to latex rubber, you may want to consider a different dessert (source: Time Magazine). Just make sure that when you are working with cassava, make sure that you prepare it properly!

Pichi-Pichi (Steamed Cassava Cakes) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20-30 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 cups cassava, grated
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lye water
  • 1/2 tsp pandan extract*
  • Freshly grated coconut
  • Red, yellow, and green food colouring

*You can use bottled pandan extract, or you can extract your own from pandan leaves. Here’s how you can do it: Place the pandan leaves and water into a blender (1 bunch (12 leaves) to about a half cup of water). Blend until the leaves are chopped very finely. Pour contents through a fine sieve and press against it using a spoon to draw out any extra juice. Discard the leaves. Tip: if you keep the extract in a sealed bottle, you can keep it for up to one week in the fridge. Do not freeze though.

METHOD

  1. Add the sugar, pandan extract, and warm water in a large mixing bowl. Mix until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once dissolved, add the grated cassava, together with the lye water, to the sugar mixture and give it a good mix.
  2. Divide the mixture equally into three moulds. Add a few drops of red food colouring into one of the moulds, then yellow, and green in the remaining two. Mix well until the colour is fully blended into the cassava mixture.
  3. Cover each mould with foil and place it in your steamer. Steam for about 15 to 20 minutes or until translucent. Once done, remove from the steamer and set aside to cool down.
  4. Once cooled, cut the pichi-pichi into bite-sized chunks. Coat each chunk with the freshly grated coconut and serve immediately. Share and enjoy!

Pichi-Pichi (Steamed Cassava Cakes)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Hamonado (Pork Rolls Stewed in Pineapple Juice)

Hamonado (Pork Rolls Stewed in Pineapple Juice)

Hello Everyone! First of all, apologies for a later than usual post. I just got back home about an hour ago and yes, I am still writing this post – I didn’t manage to get around to writing this in advance knowing that I wouldn’t get home until later than I usually do. Oh well! Anyway, we’re halfway through our 12 days before Christmas Special on Amcarmen’s Kitchen, and I want to know, which of the ones that have been posted are your favourites? Let me know in the comments section below 🙂 Anyway, tonight’s recipe is just as simple in terms of the ingredients used to make such lavish looking dish, and delicious of course, for Noche Buena. However, the dish is not limited to the Christmas season as it can also be found on tables on an everyday basis.

In a nutshell, Hamonado is simply, thinly sliced pork (like tapa style) sweetened in pineapple juice. It resembles sliced ham but is often thick, juicy, and exceptionally sweet. What makes this dish quite interesting is due to it’s simplicity – here are the three very basic steps: marinating, pan-frying, and simmering. What makes this dish right on the money is because of the balance of flavours – you’ve got the sweetness from the pineapple juice and sugar mixture that penetrated through a lovely pork shoulder from the marinating process, while you get a hit of salt from the salted egg that is stuff in between the meat when it is rolled up.

Hamonado (Pork Rolls Stewed in Pineapple Juice)

From doing some research on this dish, I’ve found multiple recipes that skip the process of having to roll up the meat into a log, which is also okay to do so as the flavours still remain the same. If you wish to go down this path, then I suggest you cut your pork shoulder into chunks instead of slicing it thinly and flattening it out. This is actually the easiest way of cooking pork hamonado for the novice cooks to take a stab at. I think what my Mom ended up doing was that she rolled up about 1/2 of the pork, and the other half she just stewed it in the marinade.

Hamonado (Pork Rolls Stewed in Pineapple Juice) Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS* | COOKING TIME 30-45 MINS | SERVES 10-12

*Does not include marinating  process which is a minimum of 3 hours, or preferably overnight. Plan your time according by taking this into account.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3kg pork shoulder, sliced thinly
  • 4 salted eggs, hard boiled, and cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 bulbs garlic, minced
  • 1 can (1360ml) Del Monte pineapple juice
  • 1 can (340g) pineapple slices
  • 1 tbsp achuete powder
  • Ground salt and pepper, to taste,

METHOD

  1. Combine the thin slices of pork in a large mixing bowl together with the pineapple juice, sugar, and achuete powder. Give it a good mix until the sugar has dissolved. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator to marinate for a minimum of 3 hours, overnight preferred to soak up more of the flavours (my Mom marinated it for three days).
  2. Remove the pork from the marinade (do not discard), and place the slice on a flat surface and arrange the salted egg in the centre of the slice. Roll and form into a log. Secure the roll by tying cooking string around the log, making sure that it is tight enough to hold the roll.
  3. Heat about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Sauté the garlic until fragrant and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Follow with the rolls of pork, searing it until all sides are golden brown, approximately 5-8 minutes. Pour in about half of the marinade juices and leave to simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. You will need to flip the pork rolls from side to side every 15 minutes.
  4. Once done and the sauce has thickened, remove the pork rolls  and place it on a platter. Carefully remove the cooking string and slice into serving pieces.
  5. Pour the sauce over the pork hamonado rolls and serve, and enjoy with pineapple slices and any extra  wedges of salted egg. Usually eaten with steamed rice.

Hamonado (Pork Rolls Stewed in Pineapple Juice)

Hamonado (Pork Rolls Stewed in Pineapple Juice)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Bikò (Sweet Sticky Rice Cake with Coconut Curd Toppings)

Bikò (Sweet Sticky Rice Cake with Coconut Curd Toppings)

Hello Everyone! Day 05 of 12 is here and I have another dessert to share with all the sweet tooth’s out there. If you are following my Instagram page (@amcarmenskitchen), I posted a picture of the ingredients and made mention that you essentially only need 4 ingredients (actually 3 because you can omit one of the ingredients) to make this yummy and definitely filling dessert! All you really need it glutinous rice, white sugar, coconut milk, and a bit of violet food colouring. You can omit the food colouring and substitute the white sugar for brown to colour your bikò, which is actually how it’s traditionally done. I only picked up the idea of using violet colouring from my Mom’s relative when we visited their whole family in Canada back in the Summer of 2007. Adding the violet colouring doesn’t do anything for the taste (duh), but it definitely makes the dish a whole lot more attractive and inviting.

For those of you who don’t know, bikò, or otherwise known simply as a Filipino Sticky Rice Cake, served during special occasions such as birthday parties, family reunions, town fiestas, and of course, for Noche Buena. It’s not a tedious process, it’s just hard on the arm because of all the mixing that needs to be done.  It is then garnished with latík, which is basically just cooked coconut milk residue, set at the centre of each slice, and is traditionally served over a banana leaf in a bilao, which is basically just a round woven bamboo tray.

Bikò (Sweet Sticky Rice Cake with Coconut Curd Toppings) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 40 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups glutinous rice, washed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 packs (200ml each) coconut milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp violet food colouring
  • Banana leaves
  • Bilao

METHOD

  1. Add the glutinous rice, water, and violet for colouring in a large pot. Mix and then place over high heat, leaving the rice to cook for about 15 minutes or when the rice is about half-done.
  2. When the rice is half-done, add in one of the packs of coconut milk and mix well. Leave it to cook for another 15 minutes or until the oil starts to separate from the coconut milk. At this point, you want to reduce your heat down to about medium-low to avoid the rice sticking to the bottom of your pot.
  3. Meanwhile add the other pack of coconut milk in a separate pan and cook until the oil separates from the milk and turns golden brown. Drain from the oil and then set aside.
  4. Prepare the banana leaves by lightly heating it over the stovetop burner to make it pliable and easy to handle. Then, place the the banana leaves over the bilao and set aside.
  5. Crank up the heat to about medium-high and add the sugar into the glutinous rice mixture. Mix and allow the sugar to caramelised, about 10 minutes. Once done, turn the heat off.
  6. Assemble by spreading the sweet sticky rice cake mixture onto the prepare bilaos lined with banana leaves. Flatten evenly. Cut the rice cakes into diagonals and top the centres of each diagonal with some latík.
  7. Serve, share, and enjoy warm! This recipes makes for about 4 palm-sized bilaos.

Bikò (Sweet Sticky Rice Cake with Coconut Curd Toppings)

ps: apologies for only posting one picture of this dish (as you know it’s unlikely of me to only post one picture of the final dish), but I made this a while back, 2 years ago to be exact, and this was the only picture that I could find *sad face* at least it is a good picture!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Lengua Estofado (Ox Tongue Braised in Tomato Sauce)

Lengua Estofado (Ox Tongue Braised in Tomato Sauce)

Hello Everyone! We’re a third of the way into our 12 days of Festive Filipino Foods, and tonight I will be sharing something a little bit unusual, and when I say unusual, I mean it’s not something that I would think to buy in the stores and cook it myself. It is rather foreign and exotic for some, where adjectives such as gross or yucky is used to describe a dish where tongue is used. I don’t recall ever having lengua before – actually, now that I’ve said that, I have had it before, but only the ones that have been sliced very thinly and  grilled at a Korean BBQ Restaurant in Sydney. If you don’t think about the fact that you are eating tongue, it actually feels like you’re having beef brisket.

Upon doing further research, I have found that many different cuisine and cultures are accustomed to ox tongue. For example, it is a major ingredient in the making of what is called tongue toast in North America, where it is used in an open-faced sandwich served for either breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an hors d’œuvre. In Mexico, it is widely used in their burritos and tacos. Tongue is also widely prepared, and considered a delicacy in many parts of South America, Asia, and European countries including Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, and Poland to name a few.

Ox (beef) tongue is often prepared by boiling the meat first in various spices, and only after that is the skin removed. It is then cooked further by either braising it in a sauce, grilling, or roasting it in the oven. Tonight, I will be sharing with you a recipe for ox tongue braised in tomato sauce, and served with some mushrooms, olives, and potatoes on the side. Estofado is a Filipino method of cooking based on Spanish influences where it involves the braising or stewing of meat like beef or pork knuckles. Sugar, garlic, soy sauce and a bay leaf are among the other ingredients added into the pot during this process. Lengua Estofado is of a Hispanic origin and has been adapted to suit the palates of Filipinos due to centuries of Spanish colonisation. Despite initial impressions of the dish being gross and yucky, it is quite a popular dish during family gatherings, especially for Noche Buena.

Lengua Estofado (Ox Tongue Braised in Tomato Sauce) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10-15 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 35 MINS | SERVES 4-5

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg ox tongue
  • 1 punnet (250g) cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 125g green olives stuffed with feta
  • 3 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large potato, washed and sliced thinly
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 small brown onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Knob of butter
  • Whole black peppercorns

METHOD

  1. Add the ox tongue, bay leaves, whole peppercorns, and salt to a large pot filled with water. Boil the ox tongue for about an hour until tender. Once done, remove from the pot and set aside to cool down a bit after which you can then peel the skin off the tongue and then slice the meat into about 1-cm thick slices. Don’t forget to reserve some of the stock for when we braise it later.
  2. Heat oil a large frying pan over medium-high and sauté the minced garlic until fragrant and golden brown. Then add in the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 2 minutes altogether. Follow with the tomatoes and cook until soft, a further 3-4 minutes.
  3. Next, add the slices of lengua and season it with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. Give it a good mix before adding about a cup and a half of the reserved stock. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the tomato paste and chillies. Stir, and leave to braise for a further 30 minutes.
  4. While the tongue is braising away, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized pan and fry the potato slices until golden and crispy. Transfer to a dish lined with a paper towel to absorb and excess oils. Work in batches if necessary.
  5. Remove the oil from the pan and melt the knob of butter. Add the mushroom slices in and sauté until the mushrooms are soft.
  6. Once the long is done, plate up accordingly and serve immediately. Share with the family and enjoy!

Lengua Estofado (Ox Tongue Braised in Tomato Sauce)

Lengua Estofado (Ox Tongue Braised in Tomato Sauce)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Puto (Steamed Rice Cakes)

Puto (Steamed Rice Cakes)

Hello Everyone! So this is kind of unrelated, but related at the same time – I typed puto into Google because I wanted to know the English name for it (well I knew what they were in English, I just needed confirmation). To my surprise, Urban Dictionary was the first result. Puto is a Spanish word used to describe a male prostitute and is sometime’s offensive for homosexuals. In Mexico, the word is used for cowards and traitors. Anyway! Sorry but this post will not be about male prostitutes, but instead, it’ll be of a recipe for a steamed rice cakes. Before I begin, if from this point onwards you see me write put instead of puto, it’s because my laptop automatically autocorrects it to put. I have tendency to just keep typing without going back and reviewing what I’ve written.

Anyway, here’s an interesting fact about puto that I myself did not know until I did some research for this post. Puto is believed to have been derived from from Indian puttu of Tamil origin. These steamed rice cakes are usually eaten as a dessert, but most Filipinos much prefer to have them for breakfast with coffee or hot chocolate, or for a mid-afternoon snack with dinuguan (blood stew). The recipe that I will be sharing today is not, in a sense, the traditional puto you’d find in the Philippines. It is non-traditional because, self-raising flour is used instead of rice flour. Texture wise, it has more bite and is less airy than what I’ve had before. To be very honest, these are the best-tasting putos I’ve ever had and I am glad that I came across this recipe.

Puto (Steamed Rice Cakes)
the photo above was taken when I made these cakes for a family dinner in Brisbane. The silicone moulds I used here were a bit smaller so I think I was able to make a good 4 dozen mini cakes that time

I actually learnt this recipe from my Mom’s high school friend when we visited her and her family in Melbourne a few months back in early June. She runs her own catering business, together with her mother and sister, and while spending time at hers, I learnt how to make these delicious non-traditional putos. I think I made quite a hefty batch over the two days that they needed to be made, and I missed out on making a hundred of them for a special order because that was the day my family and I left and flew over to Brisbane.

I’ve made these rice cakes numerous times after having learnt from my Mom’s friend. I’ve made them for a family gathering in Brisbane and they were a big hit! I’ve also made them for a few family friends here in Brunei and they too loved it. The last time I made these, which was for this blog post as well, was a big hit when I shared them amongst my friends too. I’m pretty sure that you’ll love these cakes too when you get around to making them. If you for some reason don’t like them, then I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends *cheeky grin*.

Puto (Steamed Rice Cakes) Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR* | SERVES 2 DOZEN**

*Cooking time depends on how big a steamer you have. Mine is quite small and therefore I had to work in 3 batches to steam all cakes for this recipe.

**Serving size depends on the size of the moulds that you use – as stated above, when I used smaller moulds, I could easily get about twice the serving size from the bigger moulds that I used for this recipe post

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 3-4 pcs sliced cheese, cut into thin strips
  • 3 large free range eggs, well beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter (I used olive butter)
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Prepare your steamer by wrapping the lid with cloth and tie it in place around the handles. This will catch the water vapours from dripping onto you cakes and prevent them from getting wet and soggy.
  2. Add water to a pot and bring it to a boil.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk it together until combined. Next and in the butter and mayonnaise, and using the whisk, mash it into the flour mixture until moist crumbs form. Next, add in the milk, eggs, and vanilla extract, and mix until well combined.
  4. Line your moulds in the steamer and carefully pour the batter into the moulds and top, making an X, with the sliced cheese strips (see photo above).
  5. Carefully place the steamer over the top of that pot and cover with the cloth-wrapped lid. Steam for about 20 minutes.
  6. Once done, remove the steamer from the pot and place on a heat-proof surface. Remove the cooked rice cakes and repeat steps 4-6 for a fresh batch (because my steamer is quite small, I had to do three batches altogether).
  7. Leave the cakes in their moulds aside until they have cooled down slightly. Once they are quite cool, they will easily pop out from their moulds.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm – either for breakfast, dessert, or an afternoon snack. Share and enjoy!

Puto (Steamed Rice Cakes)

Puto (Steamed Rice Cakes)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Arroz a la Valenciana (Valencian Rice)

Arroz a la Valenciana (Valencian Rice)

Hello Everyone! Festive Filipino Foods Day 02 of 12 is here with a Latin American dish known as Arroz a la Valenciana, also considered as a part of Filipino cuisine, to share. Arroz a la Valenciana is quite commonly known as a poor man’s paella as the ingredients used to make this is is far less lavish than that of paella, where wine is used for a flavourful Spanish rice dish and a lot of seafood ingredients. The main ingredients in Arroz a la Valenciana consists of glutinous (sticky rice), regular rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, potatoes, carrots, capsicum, chicken, and chorizo – a complete meal, a one-dish meal of meat, rice, and vegetables. It is a great dish for Noche Buena, Christmas, Fiestas, weddings, birthdays, and family get-togethers.

Well, that’s pretty much all I can talk about for this dish, so let’s move on to the recipe shall we?

Arroz a la Valenciana (Valencian Rice) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30-45 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups plain rice, half-cooked*
  • 1 cup glutinous rice, half-cooked**
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 12 pcs chicken wings, cut into 3 (drumette, mid-wing, and tip)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 1 chorizo sausage, sliced diagonally
  • 1 potato, cut into chunks
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 red, yellow, and green capsicum, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp achuete powder
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

*/**Cook the rice together in a rice cooker; what I usually do for every one cup of rice, I add one cup of water. But in this instance, you want your rice to still be a bit tough and half-done because it will absorb the sauce from when you sauté your chicken.

METHOD

  1. Heat about 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high. Fry the chorizo slices, about a minute per side until slightly browned. Remove from the pot and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  2. In the same pot, sauté the garlic until fragrant and golden brown. Next add in the onions and cook until soft, about 2 minutes altogether. Add in the tomatoes and then cook until soft, about a further 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and season with chicken stock powder and ground black pepper. Give it a good mix and then leave your chicken to cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Dissolve the achuete powder in a cup of hot water, then add this into the chicken together with the other two cups of water. Stir in the tomato paste and let the chicken cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Add in the potatoes and carrots and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes. Once done, remove the chicken, potatoes, and carrots, leaving the sauce in the pot, and set aside.
  6. Add the half-cooked rice into the pot and give it a good mix until it is well coated in the sauce. Leave to cook further, until all the sauce has been absorbed.
  7. Lastly, add the raisins and capsicum and cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and then return the chicken, potatoes, and carrots, together with the chorizo sausage sliced you fried earlier, to the pot and give it a good mix.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish; serve, share, and enjoy!

Arroz a la Valenciana (Valencian Rice)

Arroz a la Valenciana (Valencian Rice)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

Hello Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post – but if you are a regular reader, you would’ve picked up from my last post that I’d be taking a short break. It’s not because I needed some time to recover from my mental exhaustion (because let’s face it, I’m still always mentally drained by the end of a long day), but more for the theme for this month’s recipes. From today onwards, you will be expecting a recipe every single day leading up to Christmas – you read that right! I will be sharing with you Festive Filipino Dishes that can be found on the tables of a Filipino family during Noche Buena, some of the recipes that I will be sharing have been influenced by Spanish cuisine. So let’s kick off Day 01 of 12 days to Christmas with a sweet (or savoury?) one: Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad.

First off, for those of you who don’t know, Noche Buena is the Spanish word for the night of Christmas Eve. In Latin American cultures, including Spain and the Philippines, Noche Buena is an annual traditional family feast. The traditional dinner is celebrated at midnight after attending the late evening Mass known as Misa de Gallo. In the Philippines, a whole roasted pig known as lechón, is the centre of all dishes during the feast. It is believed that the tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them whole as the family gathered for Christmas Eve. However, a whole roasted pig isn’t always served in other cultures. For example, in Peru, a large juicy turkey is the star for Noche Buena while in Venezuela, hallacas are quite popular. Actually, I think I may have explained what Noche Buena is in a post last Christmas? I’m not sure. Oh well!

Tonight’s dish is one of the many that can be found on the table during Noche Buena, but it doesn’t stop there. This dish is also typically served during Filipino fiestas and also during family outings and picnics. It is actually a very simple dish that doesn’t require a lot of cooking and complicated steps. The main “cooking” is basically cooking the macaroni until tender, and the chicken to be boiled and shredded. When those core ingredients are ready, all you have to do next is toss all the ingredients together and voilà! Chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours and you’ve got a tasty chicken macaroni salad.

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 10-12

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g macaroni*
  • 1 jar (400g) Nata de Coco, drained
  • 300ml dollop cream
  • 250g chicken breast
  • 100ml condensed milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
  • 3/4 cup carrots, minced
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

*Aside from macaroni, you can use other types of short cut pasta. Here are some examples: Mostaccioli, Penne, Rigatoni, Cellentani, Rotini, Cavatappi, Fideuà, and Maccheroncelli.

METHOD

  1. Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the chicken breasts and cook for about 15 minutes, or until cooked all the way through depending on the size of your breasts (yes I meant to say it that way *cheeky grin*). Once done, drain and set aside to completely cool down.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the condensed milk, cream, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Taste and adjust accordingly to your liking. Set aside.
  3. Then, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook according to packet instructions (mine was about 10-11 minutes). Once done, drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl together with the dressing.
  4. When the chicken breasts have completely cooled down, shred the chicken meat and add it into the mixing bowl together with the macaroni.
  5. Add all the other remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly until well combined. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for about and hour or two before serving.
  6. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Mr. Crackles

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Just a little heads up, next week Sunday will the the last Sunday that I will be doing reviews. I’ve come to a point where I’ve pretty much covered all of the places I’ve been to when I was in Sydney and haven’t been to restaurants, cafés, and/or eateries around Brunei – well I have, but I haven’t been in a I-need-to-take-a-picture-of-this-so-I-can-review-it-for-later kind of mood lately. Don’t fret! I will still be posting on Sundays, they just won’t be reviews. Instead, I will be sharing with you some of my design works since I believe that the last time I posted anything design related on my blog was about a year ago; so you’ve got that to look forward to!

Back on topic, today I will be reviewing one of the best places, in my opinion, to get a fairly priced roll of tender, succulent, crispy-skinned pork crackling. Excuse me for a second while I wipe the drool that just dribbled down my chin as I typed that. Only kidding, but seriously, if you’re ain’t watching your calories, this is where you need to be at every opportunity you get! I’ve passed this place so many times before as it’s within probably a 10-minute walk away from campus, but I’ve never really gone inside and tried their rolls until August of last year I think (and I had been living in Sydney since 2011)! My high school friend (and still friends now) Andrew was visiting from Brunei/UK and I decided to take him here for lunch before his flight back to Melbourne, and then Brunei, eventually to the UK. Of course Jialing was with us too; no food adventure would be complete with my partner in crime.

The second time I came here was the Christmas of 2014 I believe, and that was when I saw my friend Marissa post a photo of their special Christmas roll; apple sauce and cranberry relish paired with crispy pork?! Hells yes! Of course I went back with Jialing; she indulged in her Sticky BBQ Pork again. I think I may have gone back a couple times more before I introduced this place to my family when they were over for my graduation in June. Everyone, and of course myself included, loved this place, and how I wish that a Mr. Crackles existed on one of the side streets of Brunei. I’d be their number 1 customer hands down!

ROLLS

Mr. Crackles: Crackles Christmas Roll
ROLL OF THE MONTH (DECEMBER 2014)
Crackles Christmas Roll: Crispy pork, apple sauce, cranberry relish, and herb crumb ($13.50)

As mentioned above, I could not resist saying no to this little gem. I think what got me was the apple sauce and cranberry relish; first, you can’t go wrong with crispy pork crackling being paired with some apple sauce. Secondly, the cranberry relish to really pull the idea of Christmas together in this man-sized roll. The pork was, as always, cooked perfectly; tender, juicy meat with a satisfying crispy crackling for that crunch we all look for in a great roast pork. Everything else complimented the roll nicely.

Mr. Crackles: Braised Beef Cheek
ROLL OF THE MONTH (MAY 2015)
Braised beef cheek, parmesan mash, and gremolata crumble in a soft bun ($13.50)

I mean, I know the presentation of this roll is less enticing and extravagant than that of the other rolls, but trust me when I say that this is one pretty amazing combination of tender braised beef cheeks and parmesan mash in a soft bun. I had actually forgotten that there was mash in this bun when I came around to eating it. This was only because the mash isn’t actually visible when you first look at the bun; it was hidden below the braised beef cheeks. When I took a bite and realised that there was in fact parmesan mash in it, it was a nice surprise indeed. If this special ever comes around again, be sure not to miss out on it!

Mr. Crackles: Sticky BBQ Pork
STICKY BBQ PORK
Smokey bbq, ranch, salad, and onion rings in a soft bun ($13.50)

I must say that amongst the other rolls, this was by far the best looking one out of the bunch. I mean, I still love and prefer a nice crispy pork on my roll, but this was just something else. Onion rings in your bun? Don’t mind if I do! Smokey, sticky, check! A bit messy to eat if you’re biting into it instead of being posh and using cutlery, but who cares really.

Mr. Crackles: Crackles Classic
CRACKLES CLASSIC
Crisp skinned slow roast 5 spiced pork belly served with Vietnamese salad in a roll ($13.00)

You’ve heard me talk about the crispy pork before in the Crackles Christmas Roll, so it’s basically that, tender, juicy meat with a satisfying crispy crackling, with a nice touch of fresh Vietnamese salad to compliment the meat.

Mr. Crackles: Manwich
MANWICH
Twice the meat and half the salad on any of our famous rolls ($17.00)

Its like their Crackles Classic Roll only twice as much meat on it for a man-sized bite, but who says women can’t have it too?

SIDES

Mr. Crackles: Crispy Pork Nacho Fries
CRISPY PORK NACHO FRIES ($12.00)

This would’ve been flawless for me if it weren’t for the tomato sauce(?) in the nachos. I can’t quite put my finger on what it tasted like to me, but all I know was that it was a bit strong and acidic for my liking. I had to pick out the fries that were least covered in the sauce as I did not want it to go to such a shameful waste. In the end, I ended up leaving about a third of the fries behind, but still eating all of the yummy crispy pork of course!

Mr. Crackles: Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip
BUFFALO WINGS ($9.00) + blue cheese dip ($1.00)

The chicken packed just the right amount of heat in them and let’s be real here, you can’t possibly go wrong with buffalo wings AND blue cheese dip! These were delicious indeed.

Mr. Crackles: Cup of Crackling
CUP OF CRACKLING ($5.00)

When I first saw these cups of magical cracklings, I knew I needed to devour one. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with them as they weren’t quite what I had imagined them to be. They were a bit too salty for my liking, hard, and dry. I prefer the crackling on top of those pieces of meat on their rolls than this crackling.

Mr. Crackles is like a Western take on a classic Vietnamese pork roll. Overall, if you want your daily fix of crispy pork crackling, be it in a roll, salad, or topped with your nacho fries, then Mr. Crackles is the place for you. I’d say that their rolls are reasonable priced for the size you get, therefore I’d give value for money an 8/10. For those who haven’t been to Mr. Crackles on Oxford Street just somewhat opposite Taylor Square, you’ll notice that they have very limited seating – 8 seats to be exact. Every time I go there though, I still manage to snag a seat and that’s only because everyone that goes there gets their rolls to go. I guess I can’t really judge the ambience of the place seeing as it’s more of a place where you’d grab your food and eat elsewhere, but if you do end up sitting down at the place to have your food, it’s quite loud from all the traffic noise on Oxford Street. It can also get a wee bit crowded if you go during peak hour, which is usually lunch and dinner I’m guessing. I saw crowded because you’ve got a lot of people lining up and waiting around for their order. If I were to give the place a rating, I’d say 7/10 as it’s alright as a takeaway place, but I’d give it a 4/10 for a sit down place. Besides that, I’m pretty sure you all know that I’m definitely going to give the food a sure 10 for the rolls. The sides had some minor issues with me, but nothing too big that would make me take it out on the rest of the menu. You can’t fault a perfectly great roast pork like that from Mr. Crackles! If you can, than you are not my friend.

Mr. Crackles
155 Oxford Street
Darlinghurst, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

Pineapple-glazed Ham

Pineapple-glazed Ham

Hello Everyone! Yes I am aware that today should be a Muffin Making Monday post but Jialing and I decided to have a break from making muffins since we are both on Christmas/New Year break from work. We will be resuming our fortnightly muffin making next week, or the week after, depending on what we decide.

Pineapple-glazed Ham Ingredients

This is the last of the Festive Holiday Recipes that I will be posting, and quite possibly the last recipe for 2014! So after splurging on thankfully less than $200 (but over my budget of $100) on Boxing Day, I decided to buy a portion of Smoked Leg Ham to roast in the oven for a little Boxing Day treat. Seriously, we had NO savoury leftover food from our Noche Buena – even the 3.8kg turkey was shredded to the bone; and I was so looking forward to trying out a Massaman Curry by Jamie Oliver with the leftover turkey meat. Oh well, I guess a fresh-from-the-oven smoked leg ham can, will, and did make up for it!

Pineapple-glazed Ham

Pineapple-glazed Ham

I read up about studding cloves into the ham and what they actually do to the ham other than of course add flavour. Most articles/blogs that I’ve read say that it’s also decorative. One article I read though asks: to stud or not to stud? Apparently, there is a saying that all garnishes should be edible; and hence why studding cloves is a no because no one wants to crack a tooth by biting into a whole clove. But can’t they just take the time to remove the cloves after baking? An alternative would be to add ground cloves into your choice of glaze. I went for the decorative version. The cloves were a bit overpowering for me though.

Very simple really – I didn’t want to get all fancy with the ham since it’s already smoked with beechwood to add to its natural flavour. So I went with a very easy and classic pineapple glaze to dress the ham as it slowly baked in the oven. Now, many of you will agree with me that I probably “scored” the fat on the leg ham a little bit too aggressively – Oops!

Pineapple-glazed Ham Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

  • 750g smoked leg ham portion
  • 1 can (440g) pineapple slices in juice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • Handful of whole cloves

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Score the leg ham with a sharp knife in a diagonal pattern. Score again, diagonally, in the opposite direction to create a crossing pattern. Using the tip of your knife, poke a small hole in the middle of each segment and insert whole cloves.
  3. Combine the brown sugar and pineapple juices into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a full boil, stirring frequently. Once boiling, lower the heat and bring to a gentle simmer until the glazed is nice a thick.
  4. Cover the leg ham with half of the glaze and place the leg ham fat side up on a wire rack in the oven with a drip tray below. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, basting the ham every 25 minutes with the leftover glaze and pan drippings. In the last 25 minutes of cooking, add the pineapple slices into the drip tray to cook.
  5. Serve!

Pineapple-glazed Ham

Before I wrap up this post, I would like to thank each and every one of my friends who have been so kind to take the time to drop by and go through my blog. Thank you as well for always asking me how my blog is going, encouraging me everyday to continue doing what I do best. I would also like to thank my 110 followers and the whole wordpress community in general for being very nice, dropping, comments and likes since I started my blog earlier this year.

Have a safe and Happy New Year Everyone! See you in the New Year with many more kitchen adventures! I will also have some exciting news coming your way somewhere earlier next year!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Hello Everyone! Yes, I know it is a Sunday which for those of you who are new to my blog, I don’t normally post on a Sunday – but I wanted to get all the Noche Buena recipes up before the New Year because I’ll probably have another batch of recipes to post from a New Years Day Lunch (maybe dinner depending on how energised I am to cook after a long day/night out the previous night) that I am planning to host – a small one though with probably 2-3 dishes maximum. Noche Buena was hectic and I don’t want to have a repeat that’s a week apart from each other. I won’t be doing Media Noche because I will most likely be camping out the whole day/night for a good spot by the harbour to view the Harbour Bridge Fireworks at midnight.

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Anyway, tonight’s recipe is from our Noche Buena dinner that Jialing and I hosted on the Eve of Christmas. This Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake is one of the many desserts we had on the menu for the night. When deciding on a cake to make for the festive dinner, we found it difficult to decide on a cake that felt festive – besides a Yule Log. Even though I wasn’t too fond of a Black Forest cake, that is what we decided on. The reason why I am not fond of it is because every time I indulged in a store bought Black Forest cake, they ALWAYS use those horrible canned/tinned/jarred Maraschino Cherries that I absolutely hate. Not for our Black Forest cake NO! I was determined to use fresh cherries and if I had to use cherries from a can, at least not the maraschino ones!

Before Jialing and I went to do our groceries for the dinner, we talked about how we haven’t been seeing any fresh cherries at the local supermarkets. But when we got to Coles, we saw that cherries were on special and looking very fresh! I was so happy! Also, please do check out the original recipe over on Taste. Like how I’ve probably been describing over and over again in my previous posts, the recipe says to use a little more than 1/4 cup of Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon, but I didn’t want to buy a 700ml bottle for $30 for that amount. So from the leftover vodka I had from the East Orange Frosting I made for my Gingerbread Men, Jialing had the idea of infusing that into the cherry syrup for that boozy touch. Also, our sponge didn’t rise that much to be able to cut it into three layers, so we ended up having a two layer cake.

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 20 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate sponge

  • 1 & 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 200g dark cooking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large free range eggs

For the cream-jam filling

  • 1 can (425g) pitted black cherries in syrup, drain and reserve syrup
  • 300ml double cream
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 1/2 cup black cherry jam

For the choc-cherry ganache

  • 100g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • 60ml thickened cream
  • Vodka-infused cherry syrup*
  • Fresh cherries
  • Chocolate curls

*Add the reserved syrup to a small sauce pan together with about a tablespoon of vodka to the reserved syrup and bring to a simmer to infuse the flavours. Use this to brush onto the sponge cake layers and in the chocolate ganache.

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Grease the sides of a 20cm round springform cake pan with melted butter and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Chocolate Sponge Cake: Sift the flour, almond meal, and cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl. Whisk until combined and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar using an electric handheld mixer until pale and creamy. Beat in the melted chocolate and eggs, and fold in the dry ingredients and buttermilk until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside to cool slightly before transferring the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Choc-cherry Ganache: While the cake is baking in the oven, stir all the ingredients (leaving about 1/4 cup of the vodka-infused syrup for brushing) for the choc-cherry ganache in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Set aside cool slightly.
  6. Cream-jam Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the double and thickened cream in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Then fold in the jam to create a swirled effect.
  7. Assembly: Cut the cake horizontally into 2 (or 3 if you can) even layers. Place the cake base on a round cake board and brush the cut surface with half of the vodka-infused syrup and spoon over the cream-jam mixture. Dip each pitted black cherry into the ganache and place on top of the cream filling. Brush the vodka-infused syrup on the cut surface with the other half of the cake layer and top over the base. Pour the choc-cherry ganache over the cake and decorate with fresh cherries and chocolate curls. Sprinkle with a bit a icing sugar for a Christmasy finish.

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com