Dragon & Lychee Pork

Dragon & Lychee Pork

Hello Everyone! It’s insane just thinking about how we’re already three-quarters of the way through the middle of the year! Have you achieved some of the things on your New Year’s Resolution that you set out at the beginning of the year? I personally don’t make resolutions, only because I never end up ticking off the things I set out to do, or I stop doing them after the first month. Exercise more? Sure. Goes on a morning run for a week, then decides sleeping in is way better than going for a run!

Instead of making resolutions, I set a motto to live by for the year. I entered the year with a few challenges that I brought in with me from 2018, and I said that with these, and the challenges ahead for 2019, that whatever happens, happens. I’ll tackle every challenge and obstacle with a go with the flow mindset. With that being said, before I leap into that mindset, I still have to be proactive in finding solutions to the challenges I face; it’s more of applying this motto to whatever the result may be, positive or negative. I can safely say that this mindset has helped me in overcoming a bulk of my challenges that I brought in from 2018; thankfully positive in its own way. It may not have turned out as I had originally planned in the timeframe I gave myself – but in the end, I got there with Plan B.

Dragon & Lychee Pork

Alas, tangent aside, before we move on to the recipe for tonight, please go and check out the original recipe by Chun Rong over on XLBCR: Singapore Food & Travel Guide Blog. I guess you could say that my dish is nowhere as near as Chun Rong’s dish – in terms of look, but I can assure you that taste-wise, it definitely hit the mark. This Dragon & Lychee Pork dish is similar to the infamous and very much loved Classic Sweet and Sour Pork.

The dish itself was to die for – succulent and crispy pork paired with a sticky sweet sauce? Yes please. However, there was one thing about the dish that played tricks with my mind – and I guess this is something that only Filipinos will understand. The dish – because of its colours – reminded me of binagoongan, and because of this, with every mouthful that I took, I expected a pop of salty flavours to dance in my mouth. So in my head, I thought that this was just a very badly seasoned binagoongan dish. I had to keep telling myself that it’s not meant to be salty!

Dragon & Lychee Pork Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the pork marinade

  • 500g pork belly (liempo), cut into thick chunks
  • 1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

For the sauce

  • 3/4 cup dragon fruit and lychee jam*
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

To garnish

  • Chopped scallions
  • Sesame seeds

To serve with

  • Garlic fried rice
  • Blanched okra

*For the dragon fruit and lychee jam (Recipe adapted from Linda’s Cravings)

  • 1 medium-sized dragon fruit (about 600g in weight), cut into chunks
  • 1 can (255g) lychees in syrup, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Lemon rind

Dragon & Lychee Pork

METHOD

  1. Dragon Fruit & Lychee Jam: Add the dragon fruit, lemon rind, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium-sized sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. While boiling, press down on the lemon rind to extract its natural pectin. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes or when the mixture has thickened. Add the lychees in at the last 20 minutes or so. When done, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Dragon Fruit & Lychee Sauce: Mix 3/4 cup of the dragon fruit and lychee jam together with the water, sugar, and white vinegar. Set aside.

Tip: If you have any leftover jam left, transfer to a sterilised glass jar and seal. Great on wholemeal toast with ricotta cheese for a delectable breakfast. Just be sure to consume the jam within 2 weeks.

  1. Fried Pork: In a large mixing bowl, marinate the pork chunks in soy sauce, sesame oil, and egg. Set aside in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to half an hour. Add in the cornstarch to mix, just before frying. You may opt to deep or shallow fry the pork – I personally don’t like deep frying so I opted for the latter. Of course cooking times will vary.
  2. If shallow frying, add about 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Lay the pork chunks into the frying pan and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. You may or may not have to work in batches for this. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Dragon and Lychee Pork: In the same frying pan, discard any excess oil. Over medium low heat, add the dragon fruit and lychee sauce. Taste and adjust first according to your liking. Add the fried pork, lightly tossing and coating the sauce over and then you’re done!
  4. Transfer to a serving plate, or serve in the casing of a hollowed out dragon fruit half. Garnish with chopped scallions, sesame seeds, and diced dragon fruit.
  5. Serve with garlicky fried rice and blanched okra for a full meal. Enjoy!

Dragon & Lychee Pork

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

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Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

Hello Everyone and Happy Independence Day Philippines! So to begin with a ‘long story short’ scenario, I initially made this cake for my Mom’s birthday last month and let’s just say things did not go according to plan. It was a total kitchen disaster. I beat myself up quite harshly for it, because it meant that my Mom never got cake made by me for her birthday. I compensated though and got her a limited time only Ube Custard Cake from Conti’s Restaurant and Bakeshop when we celebrated Mother’s Day last month. That cake by the way – the bomb dot com. Anyway, I’ve saved the disaster details for last, so feel free to read the short summary of what went down at the end of the recipe.

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

Please bear with me for I’m currently having a bit of a writer’s block at the moment, and I’ve been sitting on this for more than an hour now thinking of what I can write. I don’t really have much, or anything for that matter, to say about the dish/recipe other than it tastes AMAZING – so I’ll just feed your knowledge on some (fun) facts on dragon fruits!

Fact #1: Dragon fruit is also known as a Strawberry Pear.

Fact #2: Eating too much red-fleshed dragon fruit can give rise to a harmless condition called pseudohematuria, which can turn urine reddish in colour.

(Fun) Fact #3: A concoction made of dragon fruit, honey, and cucumber juice can moisturize and soothe sunburned skin.

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

Fact #4: The cactus flower that produces dragon fruits only survives a single night. It blooms in the evening, ready for pollination, and then wilts the very next day. However, the very brief pollination period is sufficient for the plant to bear fruits.

Fact #5: The best time to pick dragon fruits are when they are mature as they are at their height of their sweetness. Mature fruits that are not harvested will continue to grow larger, but not sweeter.

And there you have it. There are plenty more (fun) facts about dragon fruits, especially where health benefits are concerned, but these are the ones that I didn’t know about and found most interesting!

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15-20 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | MAKES 2 MINI CAKES

INGREDIENTS

For the cheesecake mixture

  • 1 small red dragon fruit, mashed*
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 100ml cream
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

For the crumb base

  • 150g Digestive Biscuits, crushed
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt

*As I mentioned in last week’s post, the grocer that I bought them from only had gigantic dragon fruits, where the one I bought and pictured for this recipe was about 800g! In this case, I only used half of the fruit for the recipe.

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 130C (250F or gas mark 1).
  2. Crumb Base: Add the crushed digestive biscuits, salt, and melted butter together in a small mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined.
  3. Grease two mini spring-form pans (about 4” in diameter) and line it with parchment paper. Cover the outside of the pan with tin foil. Press the crumb into the base of the cake pan. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set.
  4. Cheesecake Mixture: Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat, on medium speed, the cream cheese and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl until smooth.
  5. With the mixer running, add in the egg and cream, mixing for a further 2 minutes.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared spring-form cake pan, evenly covering the biscuit base, and then add about a tablespoon of the mashed dragon fruit atop. Use a skewer to gently swirl the mashed dragon fruit through the cheesecake mixture.
  7. Place the cake pan in a water bath and bake for 1 hour, or until just set.
  8. Allow to cool down to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for about half an hour before serving.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

You may top the cheesecake with extra mashed dragon fruit if you still have some lying around.

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

So in all honesty, I initially made a cake-sized (8.5” round) version of this dragon fruit cheesecake. It was a no-bake cheesecake and all the things that could go wrong with it, went absolutely wrong *facepalm*.

Firstly, I bought unflavoured gelatin to incorporate into the cheesecake mixture to help it set in the fridge since it is a no-bake cheesecake. The supposedly ‘unflavoured’ gelatin advertised on the package had a certain flavour to it that I could not put my finger on. In addition, it was diabetically sweet. Not only did it ruin the taste of the cheesecake, it also caused the cheesecake mixture to split when added, causing little white specks to appear. So instead of having a smooth pink colour to the dragon fruit cheesecake, it looked like it had little white lice eggs in it – *barfs* Okay that description definitely went too far, but that’s what it looked like to me!

I didn’t know how I could salvage this cake, so I ended up chucking it in the bin. I don’t like chucking food into the bin because not only is it such a waste of beautiful ingredients, they’re also expensive ingredients. There was no point trying to salvage it though, because it honestly tasted gross because of the gelatin that I used.

After the mishap, I went back and tried the recipe again, but this time followed the recipe I tackled for a baked cheesecake from April – Spice-roasted Pineapple Cheesecake. As you can see, the end result was so much better! I was over the moon with the turn out and from now on, I’m never EVER going back to no-bake cheesecakes.

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com</p

Dragon-flamed Tuna Belly with Fiery Dragon Fruit Salsa

Dragon-flamed Tuna Belly with Fiery Dragon Fruit Salsa

Hello Everyone! I know I made it sound like I’d be gone for a while over on my IG stories last month, but I’m back feeling inspired and motivated to push through the year with fun recipes that I have been putting together during my short hiatus for Amcarmen’s Kitchen.

For the month of June I’ll be featuring one of my favourite fruits of all time – Pitaya or also known more commonly in English as Dragon Fruit, more specifically the red-fleshed variety. The name ‘Dragon Fruit’ was derived from the overall exterior aesthetic of the fruit, which has a leather-like skin and prominent scaly spikes. Pitaya (or pitahaya) is the name derived from Mexico, which refers to the name of tall cacti species with flowering fruits.

Fiery Dragon Fruit Salsa

Dragon Fruits grow on long, thin, and vining cactuses (yes, this is also a valid pluralisation of the word cactus). On the outside, Red Dragon Fruits look almost identical to the white-fleshed variety. The pulp of a Dragon Fruit has a texture that is similar to a kiwi, with small and black edible seeds throughout. Red Dragon Fruits are sweet, but not as sweet as the white-flesh variety, and has a mild acidity to it. In addition, these fruits pack a lot of nutrients that are beneficial for our health. They are low in calories and are a good source of iron, magnesium, and vitamins C & E. Dragon Fruits also contain prebiotics, which helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria and potentially improve the balance of them in your gut.

Dragon-flamed Tuna Belly with Fiery Dragon Fruit Salsa

Tonight, I’ll be whipping up an easy one for y’all. The recipe title may sound intimidating, but it’s really all “just for fancy show” to draw creative links between the fruit itself, and Dragons. Read below for further details on coming up with the name for this dish. This salsa recipe can be modified based on the availability of seasonal ingredients and what you have readily available in your pantry. So feel free to get creative here! You may also substitute the dragon fruit for kiwi, mango, nectarines, or peaches. Just make sure to use a firm and barely ripe fruit so that it will hold its shape in the salsa.

Fiery Dragon Fruit Salsa Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg fresh tuna belly slab, washed and pat-dried
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

For the salsa

  • 1 small dragon fruit, diced*
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, seeds in and minced
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Handful of finely chopped basil leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

*The grocer that I bought them from only had gigantic dragon fruits, where the one I bought and pictured for this recipe was about 800g! In this case, I only used half of the fruit for the recipe.

METHOD

Breaking down a dragon fruit may look intimidating, but it really is quite simple.

  1. Fiery Dragon Fruit Salsa: Slice the fruit in half lengthwise and spoon around the outer edge of the fruit to scoop out the flesh. Dice and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl together with the minced onion, chillies, basil leaves, vinegar, and olive oil. Stir to combine and season to taste. Set aside in the fridge for the flavours to infuse and chill.
  2. Dragon-flamed Tuna Belly: Rub the tuna belly with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Dracarys.

If you don’t understand step #3, then skip ahead to step #4 (also, this means we can’t be friends… Just kidding! *cheeky grin*)

  1. Flame-grill on lightly greased grates over hot coals for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Feel free to adjust grilling time depending on how you like your tuna to be cooked.
  2. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving plate. Serve hot with the Dragon Fruit Salsa and a salad for a complete meal. Enjoy!

Dragon-flamed Tuna Belly with Fiery Dragon Fruit Salsa

Just before I wrap things up with tonight’s post, I just wanted to mention that the featured recipe is actually a mash-up of ideas between a friend and myself. I already had the choice of fruit in mind that I wanted to work with for the month and what to make of it to pair with a beautiful slab of tuna belly. He suggested that I cut the fruit in half, scoop out its flesh, chop it up, and serve it in its skin/casing. I mentioned that I already had the idea to make a fiery (spicy) Dragon Fruit Salsa to go with the tuna belly, to which I said I could take his idea of serving the salsa in the dragon fruit skin. In the end I put that idea aside just because there wasn’t much contrast with the colours of the salsa and the dragon fruit skin. Nonetheless, I’ll keep this idea for another dish!

In addition, while exchanging ideas, I mentioned that I thought of grilling the tuna belly, to which he suggested to play with the idea of ‘dragon’ in the name of the dish and hence Dragon-flamed Tuna Belly. It is still essentially flame-grilled tuna belly but Dragon-flamed sounded way more cool.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

Hello Everyone! Oh how it has been one heck of a super hectic and stressful week! So hectic that even until today I haven’t had the time to sit down and watch the second episode of the final season of Game of Thrones! *gasp* With that being said, I do have an important announcement to make which you can read about at the end of this post.

Moving on, we’re on our last Pineapple recipe for the month! How crazy is that?! It’ll be May already next week, and in another blink of an eye, we’ll be at the halfway mark of the year! Tonight I’ll be sharing a recipe that I first tried during my travels to Thailand – now I’ve been there a couple of times already so I can’t remember when exactly was the first time I had it there, whether 6, 10, or 15 years ago.

Cooking fried rice is fun as it is super quick to make and it allows you to get creative with the choice of proteins and vegetables that go into the mix. It can easily be a sort of clean-out-the-fridge. The end result, a tasty and satisfying weeknight meal to eat!

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice is a refreshing twist to a classic/normal fried rice. It is one of Thailand’s signature dishes, It is often platted in a carved-out pineapple bowl to make it, not only delectable, but even more gorgeous to look at! The slightly tangy and sweet taste of the fresh pineapple is so enticing and the combination of spices just takes it up a notch. Not only that, it is so much cheaper and healthier than take-out fried rice.

Feel free to get creative and use your favourite kind of protein in this dish, i.e. ham, chicken, pork, or prawns. You may even keep it vegetarian with just the pineapple or bulk it up with tofu! Of course, don’t forget to switch out the fish sauce with salt if you’re going vegetarian with the dish. The version that I will be sharing with you guys tonight is pescatarian-friendly. It’s a true crowd-pleaser and is sure to be a hit at the table.

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 to 4 cups cooked rice (preferably several days old)
  • 1 fresh, almost ripe pineapple (see method below on how to prepare)
  • 250g prawns, shelled with the tails left on and deveined
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large free range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables (green peas, carrots, and corn kernels, thawed)
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews or peanuts
  • 1 sprig afro parsley

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp Thai curry powder (or regular yellow curry powder)
  • 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar

METHOD

  1. Preparing the Pineapple: Cut the pineapple lengthwise, crown included.
  2. Take one half of the pineapple and run a sharp knife around the border of the pineapple. Make sure to leave a couple of centimeteres from the edge for a firm border.
  3. Slice the pineapple into large cubes and then carve out the flesh. Repeat for the other half of the pineapple.
  4. Cut the carved out pineapple cubed into smaller bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  5. Dry out the carved out pineapple bowls in the oven at 160C (320F or gas mark 2) for about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Fried Rice: If using old rice, oil your fingers with about a tablespoon of cooking oil and work your way through the rice with you hands. Separate any chunks back into grains and then set aside.
  7. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the curry powder and sugar, and then set aside.
  8. Heat a wok or a large frying pan over medium high. Add about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and swirl around. Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the sliced chillies and diced onions. Cook for a further minute.
  9. Add in the prawns and stir-fry until they turn pink and plump, about 2 to 3 minutes. Push the ingredients to the side of the wok/pan and then pour in the lightly beaten egg. Quickly stir the egg to cook (like scrambled eggs).
  10. Now add in the rice, pineapple chunks, and thawed mixed vegetables. Drizzle the sauce mixture over the rice and gently stir-fry to combine all the ingredients together. You want to be able to hear the rice “dance” (make popping sounds) as it fries for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  11. As it cooks, taste and adjust the flavours to you liking, i.e. if it needs more salt, add more fish sauce. Towards the end of the cooking time, add in the roasted cashews or peanuts.
  12. Remove from the heat and serve into your prepared pineapple bowls. Top with the prawns, fresh chillies, and afro parsley. Serve and enjoy!

Thai-style Pineapple Fried Rice

So yes, here’s the important update/notice I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’m going to be taking a month off from Amcarmen’s Kitchen to plan better content for the upcoming months ahead. It has been quite a hectic month for me, as we’ll be moving houses this week. Thus, I haven’t had the time to really sit down and plan out dishes in advance for the month of May. Having said that, once we’ve settled into the new house by the end of the week, I can assure you that I will head straight back into planning and will be back again in June!

For now, TTFN – ta ta for now!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spice-roasted Pineapple Cheesecake

Spice-roasted Pineapple Cheesecake

Hello Everyone! Firstly, I would like to apologise if this ends up all over the place in terms of the written content, and if there will be a lot of typos and grammatical errors. I was up at 3:45am this morning to get ready to be out of the house at 5:30am for an early Visita Iglesia Pilgrimage with the ladies from our neighbourhood association. Visita Iglesia, or known as the Seven Churches Visitation is a pious Roman Catholic Lenten tradition to visit seven churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and recite the Stations of the Cross. Until the 1970s, pilgrims recited all fourteen stations in every church, but the more recent form is to pay two stations per church visited. We visited seven churches in the province of Batangas and Tagaytay. This was the very first time I’ve ever been on a Visita Iglesia Pilgrimage and the beautiful churches that we have in the Philippines astounded me.

Moving forwards, yes I am well aware that it is only a Tuesday but today is a very special day for Amcarmen’s Kitchen! I asked my followers over on Instagram to guess why it is a special day, and shared some throwback pictures that were posted on this day from the past as clues. Unfortunately, no one took part in guessing what day it is today *sad face*

Spice-roasted Pineapple Cheesecake

AMCARMEN’S KITCHEN TURNS 5 TODAY!

I say this every year, but I will forever be thankful for all the support from my family and friends. Thank you to the friends who have encouraged and praised my dishes ever since before Amcarmen’s Kitchen was born. Thank you to that one specific person who gave me that push I needed to actually start up my own blog. We don’t talk anymore just because we saw too many things differently, and thus unfortunately are not friends anymore. Thank you to my family and friends who have been there to gobble up the results of my cooking adventures. Of course, a very big thank you to my Mom as well for many things. The main being for teaching me how to cook the basics; it was from here that I developed my skills and techniques in cooking, and expanding my knowledge of various cuisines across the globe. And of course, for (sometimes) being the one that actually preps and cooks the food!

One day, can’t remember when anymore, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across this recipe for a Pineapple & Passionfruit Cheesecake by Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz on SBS Food. I immediately knew that this was the cake that I was going to whip up for the 5th anniversary of Amcarmen’s Kitchen. I changed the recipe up a bit, firstly by incorporating the spice-roasted pineapples that I experimented with at the beginning of the month for my nice cream. I really loved the flavour profile of it and so I decided to use that into the cheesecake. I’ve left the passionfruit out only because I could not find any at the markets or supermarkets around my area. If you have passionfruit on hand then by all means add it to the recipe. For the base, I’ve swapped out the Anzac mix and just crushed up some ginger nut biscuits. The fiery, gingery flavour works super well with the spice-roasted pineapple.

Spice-roasted Pineapple Cheesecake Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 20 MINS | SERVES 8-12

INGREDIENTS

For the spice-roasted pineapple

  • 1 large pineapple, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 pcs whole cloves
  • 3 pcs star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp Tequila or Vodka (optional)

For the crumb base

  • 300g Ginger Nut Biscuits, crushed
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp salt

For the cheesecake mixture

  • Spice-roasted pineapple purée
  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 200ml cream
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon

METHOD

  1. Spice-roasted Pineapple: Preheat oven to 220C (425F or gas mark 7).
  2. Toss the pineapple, sugar, spices, and everything nice (liquor) in an oven-safe baking dish. Sorry, I could not resist not say that!
  3. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once done, set aside to completely cool down before puréeing the pineapple. Set some pineapple chunks aside for decoration later.
  4. Crumb Base: Meanwhile, add the crushed ginger nut biscuits, salt, and melted butter together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined.
  5. Grease an 8-inch spring-form cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Cover the outside of the pan with tin foil. Press the crumb into the base of the cake pan. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set.
  6. Turn the oven temperature down to 130C (250F or gas mark 1).
  7. Cheesecake Mixture: Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat, on medium speed, the cream cheese and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until smooth.
  8. With the mixer running, add in the eggs and cream, mixing for a further 2 minutes.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared spring-form cake pan, evenly covering the biscuit base, then drizzle over the spice-roasted pineapple purée. Use a skewer to gently swirl the purée through the cheesecake mixture.
  10. Place the cake pan in a water bath and bake for 1 hour, or until just set. Allow to cool down to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving.
  11. Decorate: Just before serving, top the cheesecake with the crown of a pineapple, and with the remaining spice-roasted pineapple chunks.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

Spice-roasted Pineapple Cheesecake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

Hello Everyone! April is here and those who have been following my blog, or even just my social media pages (Facebook & Instagram) will know that a new month means that I get to play around with new ingredients! As the overall theme for this year is a “fruitful” one, I’m playing around with different kinds of fruit each month for 2019! For January I went nuts for Coconuts! For February it was all about Mangoes. For March they say an Apple a day keeps the doctors away! I ran a poll on Instagram stories for my followers to guess between Pineapple, Banana, and Lemon based on the set of ingredients for tonight’s post.

Of course, based on the title of this post, we all know that April with be all about Pineapples! I did mention in my previous post that I had to change what I had initially planned for tonight. Basically, I had planned for a Grilled Pineapple Oat Crumble, but I slowly realised towards the middle of last month that we’re at the peak of summer here in the Philippines, and it just made no sense whatsoever to be featuring warm/baked desserts in the heat we’re having! Thus I decided to take a cooler route for this month and beat the summer heat with this amazing Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream!

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

So what exactly is Nice Cream? Unlike most ice cream recipes, this one doesn’t require an ice cream maker/churner. The trusty food processor can transform any frozen fruits into a whipped dessert in mere minutes. Nice creams are also vegan, dairy-free, and treat-free from artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, and added sugar. Well okay, there is sugar for this particular recipe of mine that I used when making the spice-roasted pineapples, but other than that, I did not add any extra sugar to the nice cream.

Banana-based ice cream may be the original nice cream, but there are endless ways to adapt the classic recipe. Take for example, tonight’s recipe for Spice-roasted Pineapples – bananas are only really added to ensure a creamy custard-like texture, but the other fruit is the star of the show. I didn’t just want to blitz up some frozen pineapples, which is why I went a little bit extra in roasting the pineapples first in a few spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and star anise before freezing them. The result? AMAZING!

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS* | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

*Allow for the Spice-roasted Pineapple Chunks to freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight before making the nice cream.

INGREDIENTS

For the spice-roasted pineapple

  • 1 large pineapple, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 pcs whole cloves
  • 3 pcs star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp Tequila or Vodka (optional)**

For the nice cream

  • Frozen spiced-roasted pineapple
  • Frozen sliced bananas, about 2-3 large bananas
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ginger nut biscuits (optional)***

**Almost every brand of hard liquor – bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin and rum – is vegan. Nearly all distilled spirits are vegan except for cream-based liqueurs and products that mention honey on the label.

***I used Tesco ginger nut biscuits which are vegan.

METHOD

  1. Spice-roasted Pineapple: Preheat oven to 220C (425F or gas mark 7).
  2. Toss the pineapple, sugar, spices, and everything nice (liquor) in an oven-safe baking dish. Sorry, I could not resist not say that!
  3. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once done, set aside to completely cool down before placing them in a food-safe zip lock bag together with the peeled and sliced bananas, and into the freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight. Discard the spices! Save a couple of tablespoons of the spice-roasted pineapple in the fridge to serve together with the nice cream.

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream Process

  1. Nice Cream: Place all the ingredients for the nice cream into a food processor and let it run on the highest speed for about a few minutes until the frozen fruit turns into a loose, crumbly mass.
  2. Stop the processor and push the fruits down. Turn the processor on to high speed once again and repeat this process until you have a very smooth and silky soft nice cream.
  3. You may serve it immediately or if you want a lovely scoop-able nice cream, transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze it for another hour.
  4. Serve, topped with the spice-roasted pineapple, crushed ginger nut biscuits, and enjoy!

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

By all means, feel free to get loose with this recipe and try out other fruits that you can play around with for a guilt-free vegan nice cream to stay cool this summer!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Chunky Apple Cake

Chunky Apple Cake

Hello Everyone! So I probably didn’t think this through when I was planning for my recipes for the month of March. As I’ve said many times before, yes we are definitely in the middle of summer right now here in the Philippines, and having a warm Apple Cake just doesn’t seem to fit with the temperatures that we’re currently experiencing this summer.

Not to worry though, when I caught on with the dishes that I’ve been cooking for this month, I went back and had to change some of my recipes for next month. I won’t reveal it to you guys yet so you’ll just have to wait for next Wednesday for it!

Chunky Apple Cake

Nonetheless, you can have this Chunky Apple Cake with some ice cream for a cooling element. I would’ve much preferred a simple vanilla ice cream but I had come cookies and cream flavoured ice cream sitting in the freezer that I could use to go with my cake.

I skipped the butterscotch sauce for this recipe as I still had some leftover apple pie filling sitting in the fridge from when I made my Apple Danish recipe. I used that instead to drizzle over the cakes. In addition, I also used the leftover crumb topping from that recipe to top my cake for another layer of texture.

Before we jump onto the recipe, do check out the original over on Taste of Home. Also, please read some very important comments below after the recipe before the end of tonight’s post!

Chunky Apple Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 40 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

For the chunky apple cake

  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 2 medium-sized (or 1 large) Red Delicious Apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the butterscotch sauce

  • 57g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Chunky Apple Cake: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease a 13in x 9in baking dish with a bit of butter and set aside.
  2. Combine the plain flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, white sugar, and vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix well. The batter will be stiff. Stir in the apples until well combined. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking dish and (optional) top the batter with the crumb topping.
  5. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Once done, cool for 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Butterscotch Sauce: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until the butter has melted. Gradually add the cream and bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  7. Serving: Once the cake has cooled down, cut them into slices and serve in individual serving plates. Top with the butterscotch sauce and ice cream flavour of your choice. Enjoy!

Chunky Apple Cake

Now, I’ll be honest, the cake turned out to be quite dry, and you can probably tell from the photographs. Here are several reasons on why your cakes turn out dry and crumbly:

  1. Using too much flour. When measuring dry ingredients, gently spoon the flour mixture into a measuring cup for dry ingredients and level off with a flat spatula.
  2. Adding too little shortening/liquid. Measure liquids in a liquid-measuring cup placed on a level surface. Read the liquid measurement at eye level.
  3. Improperly mixed or undermixed. Careful mixing to evenly distribute the ingredients throughout the cake batter will give it a uniform consistency. Be careful not to overmix once the flour is added as this can cause the cake to be tough.
  4. Overbeating or using too many egg whites. Egg whites act as a drying agent. Try using less egg whites if you want to avoid a dry cake.
  5. Too much or too little sugar. Too much sugar can cause a cake to crumble when cut, while too little sugar can make a cake tough. The best cake recipes have a good balance of ingredients.
  6. Pan too big for the amount of batter. Using a pan that is too big for the amount of batter you have can cause it to overbake and become dry. The pan should be filled from half to three-fourths full.
  7. Oven temperature too high. If the temperature is to high, your cake could turn out dry. Overbaking could also be a culprit so check your cake for doneness at the lower end of the baking range.

– from Taste of Home.

I’m most definitely guilty of numbers 3, 5 and 6. I probably undermixed my batter as I creamed the butter and sugar by hand instead of using an electrical mixer (because I still have not bought one)! I also most definitely used too little sugar. I halved the portion of sugar because 2 cups scared me a lot. My Mom’s a diabetic, and because of that we’ve grown up in a household where our intolerance to sugar is quite low due to the fact that we don’t have a lot of sweet things lying around the house. When I read 2 cups of sugar from the original recipe, I felt my non-existent (yet) diabetes rise up. In addition, I definitely used a cake pan too big for the amount of batter I had, and thus lead to overbaking since I did not adjust the time it needed to bake in the oven. Silly rookie mistakes.

Chunky Apple Cake

I did end up with some leftovers, and what my Mom did was steam the cakes the next day for our mid-afternoon snack. The cakes turned out soft and moist, kind of like the texture of a sponge cake.

Anyway, I’ve kept the recipe as is, without adjusting the quantities of sugar just so that I hope for anyone who does try out this recipe, that it won’t be a flop like mine. I’m still posting this recipe anyway for me to learn from it. But to be honest, even one cup of sugar that I used for this recipe was on the verge of being too sweet for me.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops

Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops

Hello Everyone! We’re on our third Apple recipe for the month of March, which means that we’re close to yet another month flying by so quickly! I’ll keep tonight’s post short – and no it’s not because I’m pressed for time to get this post up for you guys by tonight, but rather, I believe I don’t have much of a back story to this post, nor do I have anything personal to share with you guys for this week.

Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops

With that being said, do check out the original recipe that I followed to make these juicylicious Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops from Taste of Home. It’s a very quick and easy autumn-inspired dish to put together for a delicious mid-week dinner! Yes I am aware that it is summer in the Philippines (where I am currently residing at), but like I’ve said in previous posts, it’s autumn somewhere around the world!

Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 bone-in pork chops, about 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 2 large Red Delicious Apples, washed and wedged
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the pork chops and cook about 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. If your skillet isn’t large enough to fit all the chops at once, work in batches. Once done, remove and set aside in the oven (heat off) to keep warm.
  3. In the same skillet, add the remaining butter together with the brown sugar mixture, chopped walnuts, and wedged apples. Cook and stir until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve with the chops along with some creamy mashed potatoes and blanched green French beans on the side to complete your meal. Enjoy!

Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Apple Danish

Apple Danish

Hello Everyone! My sincere apologies for last week’s post being very bland and uninformative like my recent posts from the beginning of this year. Those who have read my post last week will know the reason for the lack of depth. But moving on, I am hopfully back on track and will not disappoint for tonight’s post. I do have a little bit to say at the end of this post so make sure you read all the way to the end, for those interested/curious that is.

So I did mention in last week’s post that I’d be specifically working with Red Delicious Apples for the month because they were on sale at Rustan’s Supermarket. After doing some research, I realised that these apples are not at all recommended for the way I’m working with them, whoops!

Red Delicious Apples are crunchy in texture and mildly sweet in taste. It is apparently the world’s favourite snacking apple and shines through in cool, crisp salads. They are in season basically all year round and no suggested for pies, sauces, baking, and freezing – oops. I totally used them for baking in last week’s recipe and technically tonight’s recipe. I will use them for a sauce and for baking again for the coming recipes as well *face palm* Oh well, but to be honest, I haven’t come across any dire problems with baking or saucing Red Delicious Apples. After doing some research, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious Apples are the best for pies, baking, and making a sauce out of them. I’ll remember this for next time!

Apple Danish Process

I probably made too much filling and crumb topping for this recipe, even though I had initially halved the recipe that I followed by Melanie Dueck over on The Recipe Critic. If you do end up with leftovers, use another pastry sheet to make more Danishes, which was what I should have done but was too impatient to thaw another sheet, or make mini Apple Crumbles out of them! I would have done the latter, but then I still have another sweet apple recipe to do to complete my month of apple for recipes and I can totally use the leftovers for it!

The only reason why I have opted for the glaze to be optional in this recipe is because I don’t have any confectioners’ sugar lying around in my pantry. If you have read my previous post (can’t remember which specific one it was), I mentioned that I have this habit of buying ingredients that I rarely use. Eventually those ingredients end up sitting on the pantry shelf until its expiration date. The same applies to confectioners’ sugar. I rarely bake nowadays, or when I do bake, I never really need to use confectioners’ sugar regularly, and so if I am just going to use it for this recipe, I have decided to leave it out for mine, but if you do happen to have it lying around, go for it! It tastes good with or without anyway! What I did instead was drizzled a bit of the juices from the apple filling on top of the baked Danishes.

Apple Danish Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 8 DANISHES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 puff pastry sheets, thawed

For the apple filling

  • 1 large Red Delicious apples, peeled and diced
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

For the crumb topping

  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 25g unsalted butter (cold), cut into little cubes
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Handful of roughly chopped walnuts

For the egg wash

  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Optional: for the glaze

  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream or milk
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Apple Filling: Combine all the apple filling ingredients together, except for the apples, in a medium-sized saucepan. Melt altogether over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the peeled and diced apples into the saucepan and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the apples have softened, but still holds it shape.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
    Crumb Topping: Meanwhile, mix all the crumb topping ingredients in a small mixing bowl that has been chilled in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  4. With your fingertips, quickly mix the ingredients together until it looks like rough breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Tip: Pre-chilling your mixing bowl in the freezer helps keep the butter chilled when making the crumb topping. Likewise, if your mixture is too warm, put the bowl into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes and start again when it has chilled.

  1. Apple Danish: Preheat oven to 200C (400F or gas mark 6). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I used foil for mine because I only realised just as I was about to prepare my sheet that I had none left!).
  2. Unfold one thawed puff pastry sheet at a time and roll it out to about 10”x10” sheet. Use a pizza cutter to cut 16 even strips. Connect four strips together by overlapping about a half-inch and pressing it down together. Twist the strip into a ribbon and snail it around itself to create a rose-shaped pastry. Press the end down to the rest of the dough. Repeat for the remaining dough, should make at least 8 pastries.

Apple Danish Process

  1. Place the prepared pastry dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet and press the middle down. Place a spoonful of apple filling in the wells of the pastry.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the egg and water together and brush it over the pastry dough. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the tops of each Danish and then bake for about 16 to 18 minutes or until the edges are golden.
  3. Remove from the oven and leave aside to cool before glazing.
  4. Glaze (Optional): Mix all the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl then drizzle over the warm apple Danishes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Apple Danish

This is probably not the best time to have a warm dessert in the Philippines as it’s getting hotter by the minute as the Summer season rolls in. But hey! It’s getting cooler in some parts of the world right? So this would be the perfect snack/dessert for it!

I could have probably plated these delicious Danishes a little better – but I promise that they taste absolutely amazing! Better than they actually look! The flaky and crisp pastry crust, apple pie filling, and crumb topping make them irresistible. In seconds upon placing them on the dining table for our mid-afternoon snack, they were all gone! The three of us (my Mom, my sister, and myself) even fought over who wouldn’t get a third piece since there were only 8 Danishes.

Apple Danish

Before I end tonight’s post I would also just like to say a few things. I didn’t want to say this at the beginning of this post because I didn’t want to start off negatively. I have recovered from my irritable bowel syndrome, but despite that, I haven’t been feeling in the mood to work on my blog since my recovery.

I mean it’s practically normal to have off days – we’re all human after all – but I just can’t shake off the feeling of letting my followers down and letting myself down when it comes to Amcarmen’s Kitchen. I don’t get paid for running this blog, so everything that I do for Amcarmen’s Kitchen is purely for my passion and love for food, and to be able to share it with the few followers I have is just enough for me to continue doing what I love to do.

This is a very reason why I try so hard to stay on top of everything and make sure that I have dishes and recipes lined up in advance so that I can just hit the publish button every Wednesday night without having to stress about editing photographs and writing everything up all on the upload day itself. I probably put too much pressure on myself for this, hence why the sudden lack of determination for the past week.

I know deep down that no one really cares about all this – but I just needed to get this off my chest, even if it just means that I am talking to my blog.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Apple Chicken Bake

Apple Chicken Bake

Hello Everyone! March is here which can only mean one thing for Amcarmen’s Kitchen. That’s right! A new month means a new fruit to play with and we’re all about Apples this March! More specifically we’re going to be playing around with Red Washington Apples only because they were on sale at Rustan’s Supermarket for only P28 apiece! I think they were originally priced at like P35 or something. I know it’s not much of a difference but other supermarkets have them priced at P230 or something per kilo, which is crazy!

Apple Chicken Bake

I’ll keep my introduction short tonight, as I am not feeling well today – the creative writing juices aren’t flowing at the moment, apologies for that. I didn’t want to start off my post in saying what happened, but you can read more about it at the end of the post.

Before we dive right into the recipe, please head on over to Taste of Home for the original recipe where I drew my inspiration.

Apple Chicken Bake Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS* | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 3

*Allow for up to 4-6 hours to marinate the chicken, or even better, overnight in the fridge. Remove from the fridge about an hour before baking to bring the meat back to room temperature.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 whole chicken legs (about 1/2 kg)
  • 1 large brown onion, peeled and wedged
  • 1 large Red Washington Apple, washed and wedged
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

For the marinade

  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 cinnamon bark
  • 1/3 cup Hickory BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns

Apple Chicken Bake Process

METHOD

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Dip the chicken whole legs into the marinade and then place skin side down into an oven-safe Pyrex dish.
  2. Pour the remaining marinade into the Pyrex dish, cover with cling wrap and then set aside in the fridge to marinate for about 4-6 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, remove from the fridge and turn the chicken legs over skin side up. Leave aside to bring to room temperature, about an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 200C (400F or gas mark 6). Scatter the wedged apples and onions onto the Pyrex dish, and season with a touch of freshly cracked black pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Once done, turn the heat off. Drain the sauce into a small saucepan and place the chicken back into the oven to keep warm.
  6. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, add slurry of cornstarch to the sauce to thicken it. Once thickened, turn the heat off.
  7. Serve with any sides of your choice. I served mine with a side of salad with cherry tomatoes and French beans, and corn on a cob.

Apple Chicken Bake Process

Apple Chicken Bake

Before I end tonight’s post, I would just like to say that it’s been one heck of a crazy week! So busy that I haven’t even had the time to plan and cook my dishes for this month ahead of time, which is what I usually do to stay on top of things. This is one of the reasons why tonight’s post isn’t as informative as my previous posts. The reason for that being is that I’m also suffering from piercing stomach pains and an irritable bowel syndrome, quite possibly due to food poisoning. I’m confined at home and hydrating lots. Hopefully I’ll be all good in the coming days and I can get back on track with my cooking and writing by the weekend or early next week!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com