Super Green Shakshuka

Super Green Shakshuka

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that we’re already halfway through the year! Metro Manila has now shifted from Enhanced Community Quarantine to General Community Quarantine since the beginning of this week and I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. We haven’t even started to flatten the curve, and here we are letting people out and go back to work with positive cases rising much higher than when we were under enhanced quarantine.

I’ll unfortunately be reporting back to the office starting this coming Monday and Tuesday, twice a week while the other 3 days will be to continue working from home. I honestly don’t see the point in risking my health and my life just to go into the office two times a week when there is still so much uncertainty with the on-going pandemic, especially when it’s ten times harder to get anywhere via public transport due to capacity limitations to comply with social distancing. It was hard enough to get a ride to and from work pre-pandemic times, what more now? I remember waiting almost an hour for a ride home on many occasions, now I’ll probably be waiting 2 or even more hours just to get home, exposed in the open to the virus. While there’s a shuttle service initiated by the company I’m working for to avoid this issue, I don’t know how long they’ll be able to keep up with a door-to-door pick-up/drop-off service.

Super Green Shakshuka

Anyway, mini tangent/rant aside, a new month means it’s time to move onto the next colour of the rainbow for this year’s theme on Amcarmen’s Kitchen! The recipe that I’ll be sharing with you tonight is inspired by a dish that I had way back when I was still living and studying in Australia. It was in fact a weekend farewell brunch for me as I left the country the following day for good after having completed my degree and graduated a couple months back before this weekend brunch gathering.

I first came across the idea of a green shakshuka at SHUK North Bondi. Green shakshuka puts a healthy green spin on the classic Middle Eastern shakshuka recipe. Traditionally, a shakshuka is a mixture of simmering tomato sauce and spices, topped with gently poached eggs. Within the tomato sauce there’s diced onions, garlic and bell peppers. Lastly, it’s garnished with freshly chopped herbs such as cilantro and parsley.

The great thing about a shakshuka is its versatility. Similar to how you can toss most ingredients from your fridge into a smoothie, the same can be said for a shakshuka. For this green shakshuka, I’ll be replacing the tomato sauce and bell peppers with an abundance of sautéed green vegetables.

Super Green Shakshuka Ingredients

Whatever veggies you’ve got lying around, just throw them in! For my improvised take on this recipe, I’m going with broccoli and asparagus for some bite, and leafy greens such as locally grown kale, spinach, chilli, and malunggay leaves. I also threw in some green chillies for a kick of heat and some fresh basil and green scallions for freshness.

Super Green Shakshuka Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 1 cup broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup kale leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup chilli leaves, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup asparagus, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup malunggay leaves, stemmed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 large green chillies, sliced
  • 2 small red onions, finely diced
  • 2 small red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1 stalk green scallions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp black olives, sliced
  • 2 tsp capers
  • Handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

Optional (to serve with)

  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced (optional)
  • Crusty bread, toasted

METHOD

  1. Heat olive oil in a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the diced onions together with half of the sliced green chillies and the white parts of the scallions, cooking until they soften, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Next, add in the chopped broccoli and cook for about a minute before adding the chopped asparagus in. Season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Give it a good mix and cook for a further minute or so until they start to soften a bit.
  3. Add in the chopped kale and spinach leaves with just a touch of water. Cover for about 30 to 45 seconds to allow the steam to wilt the leaves. Add in the chilli leaves followed by the malunggay leaves and give it a good mix. Cook, uncovered, for about a minute or two; turning the heat down to low at this point so that your veggies do not overcook.
  4. Flatten the veggie mixture with a spatula and create 3 small wells. Crack an egg into each well and season with a touch of salt freshly ground black pepper. Add the sliced black olives, capers, red and green chillies, and green scallions. Cook the eggs until done to your liking. You can also cover to steam and cook the eggs faster (about two minutes for cooked whites and a lovely runny yolk). Heat off, and sprinkle with the chopped basil leaves to garnish.
  5. Serve immediately with your choice of sliced avocado or crusty bread, or ever both for a heavy brunch. Enjoy!

Super Green Shakshuka

You can easily double this recipe to serve more hungry tummies. It’s an easy, one-pan dish filled with lots of green goodies and poached eggs. Whether you eat it for breakfast or dinner, it’s a hearty, nutrient-packed meal that will last you through any season!

Super Green Shakshuka

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Hello Everyone! I’ll keep tonight’s introduction short as I haven’t got much to say really. This Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder is the perfect comfort food for the wintry days, or even just those cold, rainy nights. It’s easy, hearty, spicy, sweet, slightly creamy, incredibly smoky, and packed with tons of flavour!

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Shrimp is a popular choice for any meal of the day. Be sure and get the right sized shrimp for your recipe Medium-size shrimp are best for soups, for example, because they are easier to eat with a spoon. The best part of this dish though is that you can control the heat levels by adding more or less cayenne and/or paprika, to taste. If you ask me though, I’d say the more the better because that smokiness is the true star in this chowder!

As I was cooking, I realised that the dish was turning out to be more on the orange side rather than yellow. Oops! Nevertheless, before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on Gimmie Some Oven by Ali.

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 25 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g shrimp, heads removed, peeled, and deveined

For the prawn head soup base

  • Shrimp heads and peels
  • 1.5L water
  • 5 garlic cloves, whole
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 small red onion, quartered
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns

For the chowder

  • Shrimp meat
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 bag (200g) frozen corn*, thawed
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized cubes
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Chopped spring onions, to garnish

* Alternatively, you can also use fresh corn or canned corn for this recipe; whichever is readily available for you.

METHOD

  1. Prawn Head Soup Base: Add all the ingredients to a large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a slow simmer. Make sure to press down on the heads and peels as it simmers away to extract as much flavour as you can. Leave it to simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Once done, strain the soup base into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Chowder: In the same heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the diced onions, cooking until they soften, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced celery and potatoes to the pot, together with the spices, herbs and season with ground black pepper. Stir and cook for about a minute before adding in the prawn head soup base to the mixture. Bring to a rapid boil.
  5. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low so that the soup reduces to a slow simmer. Simmer away for 10 to 15 minutes, covered. Slowly add in half of the coconut milk and bring back to a slow simmer. Check and stir occasionally to avoid curdles from forming, cooking for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Taste to check if the chowder needs more seasoning or not.
  6. Add in the prawns and thawed sweet corn. If you’re using fresh corn, add them a little earlier to ensure that they are cooked all the way through. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add in the remaining coconut milk. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the chowder up to a rapid boil and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off and equally divide the chowder into individual serving bowls. Top with some freshly chopped green onions and serve immediately while hot. Best with a crusty baguette on the side. Enjoy!

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Cayenne Shrimp & Corn Chowder

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Hello Everyone! Tonight’s recipe is one that I came across while I was doing some research for my blog. I instantly fell in love with these words, “…soft, moist, tender, savoury, sweet corn…” I knew that this was a recipe that I wanted to tackle, and it did not disappoint! It was tender. It was moist. It was… dangerous. Dangerous in a way that you can literally take the whole pan with you and hide; devouring it all by yourself. It’s that good.

This Mexican Sweet Corn Cake is deliciously moist, buttery, and crumbles as you dig into it (but in no way means that it’s dry). This corn cake utilises corn in 3 ways: masa harina (or corn flour), regular corn meal, and is flecked with sweet corn niblets/whole corn kernels. That’s three times the corn flavour! In addition, you can roast the corn kernels first for extra flavour and flair!

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

The cake is baked in a water-bath, sort of like a cheesecake so that it won’t crisp or turn golden; so it’s kind of like a cake-y cornbread. You could have this savoury cake on the side with pretty much any dish, or even on it’s own as a perfect mid-afternoon snack.

It’s a perfect recipe to whip up under quarantine as all ingredients may already be readily available in your pantry. If not, it’s easy to grab them on your next grocery run! If you can’t find masa harina at your local supermarket, then you can swap it out with either all purpose flour or cake flour – which is exactly what I did for this recipe! It wasn’t because I could not source for corn flour; it was simply because I didn’t want to have an opened pack of it sitting in the pantry for centuries (which is what happened, and is still happening, to my pack of cornmeal). The corn flavour still pops through nonetheless, but probably not as powerful as if you would have used masa harina instead.

Anyway, before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on Simply Scratch by Laurie.

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 50 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g unsalted butter/margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sweet corn (fresh, frozen, or canned), roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy milk
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

* If you have masa harina (cornflour) on hand, then use this instead!
** If you are using canned corn, drain before adding to the batter. If you are using frozen corn, make sure you thaw them first.

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4).
  2. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy and light in colour. Add in the all purpose flour (or masa harina), together with the water and continue to mix until just combined.
  3. Add in the corn kernels, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder, followed by the soy milk. Mix until well combined. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl if needed to incorporate any missed dry ingredients.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased 8in x 11in glass baking dish. Spread the batter so that it is evenly distributed and smooth. Cover tightly with foil and place the dish into another baking dish (about 9in x 13in in size) and fill it with water about a third of the way.
  5. Carefully place the dish into the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and leave it aside to cool down for about 10 minutes.
  6. Slice the cake into 6 equal squares/rectangles. Alternatively, you may use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to dish and serve. Enjoy!

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Before I end tonight’s post, I just wanted to give you guys a quick update on how our country has responded to the current global pandemic. We’re currently into Day 58 of Enhanced Community Quarantine here in the Philippines, or as some may jokingly say, Season 3 of ECQ. Our original enhanced quarantine period was only supposed to last a month, from the late afternoon of March 16 until April 15.

Due to the significant increase in positive cases in our country, and the death count being much higher than the recovery count, we were not ready to go out of quarantine. With that ECQ was extended until April 30, and again to May 15. With our numbers still increasing by the hundreds each day, here we are again, under a ‘modified’ enhanced community quarantine until the end of May. On the bright side, at least our recovery rate is much higher than our death counts.

So what have I been up to since we went into quarantine 58 days ago? Well, I’m thankful that I still have a full-time job and that our company was able to carry out a work-from-home set up amidst the pandemic. I don’t go out anymore; only once every two weeks to our local supermarket to stock up on food. We also get our fruits and vegetables delivered to us weekly from a stall just down the road from us; really just to avoid and limit the times we go out of the house.

Other than that, I find myself having more time to do the things I want to do. Even if it means having more time to do nothing at all *cheeky grin* Just kidding! My time in the morning now isn’t being consumed by waking up early to prepare for work, and getting stuck in hour-long traffic going to and coming home from work. In return, I’m less tired during the week, which also means that I don’t find myself having to recover over the weekend. Not having to recover over the weekend also means that I can use my free time more efficiently for recipe research, development, experimentation, and writing for Amcarmen’s Kitchen!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Hello Everyone! I’ll keep tonight’s introduction short, and so, on to the recipe! This glowing Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew is hearty, spicy, creamy, nutrient-rich, and delicious! The addition of pineapple juice in the stew adds a hint of sweetness and slightly enhances the flavour of the overall dish that pairs nicely with the coconut milk.

It’s the perfect comfort food for the cold weather months. Having said that, it’s probably not an ideal dish to whip up in the tropics, especially during the summer time *cheeky grin*

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original recipe I followed for reference, over on Yup, it’s Vegan by Shannon. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan/vegetarian altogether (that is if you skip the garlic-malunggay toast on the side)!

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pcs dried bay leaves
2 small-sized sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 small red bird’s eye chilli, finely minced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 & 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 & 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup pineapple juice (fresh or if store-bought, with no added sugar)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 & 1/2 tbsp fresh turmeric, grated
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp yellow curry powder
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp turmeric powder
Blanched kale leaves, roughly chopped to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Add the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the diced onions, chillies, ginger, turmeric, and dried bay leaves, stirring often, until they soften, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes into the pot, together with the curry and turmeric powder. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and then give it a good mix, cooking for about a minute or two.
  3. Add the water or vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boiling. Once boiling, add in the pineapple juice, and half of the coconut milk and bring back to a gentle boil before reducing the heat to a steady simmer. Cover the pot and leave to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
  4. If desired, use a fork to mash up some of the sweet potatoes to thicken the stew slightly. Stir in the cooked chickpeas, lime juice, soy sauce, and the remaining coconut milk. Let it simmer, partially covered, for 5 to 10 more minutes.
  5. Check and taste to see if the stew needs additional seasoning. If so, season with a touch more salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lime juice.
  6. Once done, top with some blanched kale and fresh chillies. Serve hot with some garlic-malunggay bread slices on the side (optional). Enjoy!

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Note: The sweet potatoes in this stew makes it nice and hearty on its own, but it is also lovely served with jasmine rice. Feel free to add other stew-friendly vegetables too, such as cauliflower or other leafy greens like how I added kale to mine.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Hello Everyone! I remember the first time I came across this dish; I was on the phone with my Dad asking him what he would like to eat for the upcoming week before his trip back here to the Philippines. He doesn’t get to eat much home-cooked Filipino food in Indonesia so every time he’s back home, I make sure to include in our weekly menu the things that he wants to eat, even if it is against his diet *facepalm*

One of the dishes he mentioned was Chicken Halang Halang. “What?” I said in confusion as I have never heard of this dish before. The way my dad explained it to me was “it’s like the Visayan version of Chicken Adobo.” But it is actually far from that. This dish more closely represents a cross between Tinolang Manok and Ginataang Manok.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Halang Halang is a Visayan dish where your choice of meat is stewed in a spicy coconut milk sauce. The word halang when directly translated to English, means spicy because of the use of chillies as one of the main ingredients in this dish. So essentially, the dish is called, in English, “Spicy Spicy” *cheeky grin* The coconut milk maintains the creaminess and richness of the dish while it tempers the spiciness of the chillies. It also has a hint of lemongrass, making the dish amazingly aromatic and taste super fresh.

Like most dishes, there are endless possibilities in making Halang Halang. I decided to attempt this dish using fresh King Mackerel steaks that I bought at the markets before we went into Enhanced Community Quarantine. It is definitely an exceptional dish that you can serve at home on a regular basis.

Delicious, no fuss, and easy to make.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the king mackerel steaks

  • 6 large King Mackerel steaks
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder

For the halang halang gravy

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, lightly pounded
  • 2 small red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1 large green chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, julienned
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • Handful of chilli leaves

METHOD

  1. Combine the seasonings and spices in a small bowl. Generously rub the spices into the fish steaks, making sure to cover all sides. Leave to sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium high. Make sure that the pan is scorching hot, but not smoking, before putting the fish in as this will prevent the steaks from sticking to the pan.
  3. Carefully place the steaks into the pan and fry for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned to seal in all the flavours. Depending on the size of your frying pan, or the size of your steaks, you may need to work in batches. Once done, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium. In the same frying pan, sauté the garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, and chillies until golden and fragrant, about a minute or two.
  5. Slowly pour in half of the coconut milk into the pan and add the lemongrass stalks. Cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Check and stir occasionally to avoid curdles from forming.
  6. Pour the remaining coconut milk into the pan and slowly return the king mackerel steaks to the pan. Cover and bring back up to a rapid simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat off and add the chilli leaves.
  7. Transfer to a serving plate and top with extra slices of red and green chillies for an extra kick of spice. Serve with hot steamed rice and enjoy!

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

This dish is guaranteed to tempt you to increase your rice intake. If you plan to stick with just a cup of rice – or just half like myself – make sure that you condition yourself beforehand because there’s a high chance that you’ll give in to the temptation. I know because I did. Oops.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hello Everyone! Happy first day of the month! A new month means it’s time to change it up again on the blog. Here’s a recap of the previous months and upcoming month’s theme:

  • January & February: Red-coloured food
  • March: Orange-coloured food
  • April & May: Yellow-coloured food

Do any of you guys have a guess yet for this year’s theme on Amcarmen’s Kitchen?

Yesterday, I went on an insane grocery spree for the first time in two weeks. I’m usually the type who gets her groceries on a weekly basis. So having to push around a heavily-loaded trolley, with a physical grocery list in my hand was indeed a stressful task for me.

I’m normally the one who takes charge of the groceries in the household, so I know exactly what I need, and what brands to choose. If I was already stressed out from a weekly norm of mine, what more the husbands who were by default, named head of the household, tasked to do the groceries amid our Enhanced Community Quarantine? I saw helpless and confused husbands on the phones with their wives, either texting, talking, or on video call, arguing back and forth on what brand of milk they should be getting.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Moving forward, here’s an easy quarantine treat to whip up in the kitchen over the weekend. These sweet-tasting Hong Kong style Egg Tarts draw its influences from the English Custard Tart and the Portuguese Pastel de Nata.

The crust for these egg tarts are extremely flaky, tender, and buttery; made from a rough, shortcut puff pastry dough. The filling only has 5 ingredients – all of which you will probably already have sitting in your pantry. The end product? You get a smooth as silk, shiny custard that will absolutely put a smile on your face.

These tarts are best devoured fresh hot out of the oven. Trust me, it’s a completely different experience from the lukewarm version you would normally get at a dim sum restaurant. Of course, you should wait for them to cool down slightly if you don’t want to burn your tongue off!

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please do take the time to check out the original recipe I followed to make these favourite pastry treats of mine over on The Woks of Life by Sarah, one of a family of four cooks.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | MAKES 18 – 20 TARTS

INGREDIENTS

For the rough puff pastry dough

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature (but not softened)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For the egg filling

  • 3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup hot water (scant cup)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Pastry Dough: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and break it up roughly using your fingertips, making sure that visible little chunks of butter can still be seen in the dough.
  2. Add the 2 tablespoons of cold water to the flour mixture and bring the dough together. Add a bit more water if needed, but not too much. Cover the dough and leave it to chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead to form into a neat rectangular shape. Roll the dough away from you (not back and forth), to roughly form a 20 x 50 cm rectangle. Try to keep the edges even. Don’t overwork the dough. Flecks of butter should still be visible in the dough.
  4. Fold the top third of the dough down to the center, then the bottom third up and over the top fold. Roll the dough out again to three times the length. Fold the same way as before, then cover and chill for another 30 minutes.
  5. Egg Filling: While the dough is resting, make the filling. Dissolve the sugar into the cup of hot water and allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. Whisk the eggs and evaporated milk together and then thoroughly whisk in the sugar water and vanilla altogether.
  7. Strain through a very fine mesh strainer. This step is extremely important to getting a smooth and glassy egg tart.
  8. Egg Tarts: Preheat oven to 200C (400F or gas mark 6) and position a rack in the lower third of your oven. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan with butter.
  9. Roll out the dough to about 0.5cm thick and cut circles to fit your muffin pan. Press the dough into the pan and fork to make a little fluted edge on the dough (optional). This is just to make the egg tarts look pretty once baked.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

  1. Use a ladle to fill each tart shell until just reaching the edges of the outside crust. Once filled, immediately, but very carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180C (350F or gas mark 4) and bake for a further 10-12 minutes, until the filling is just set. If you see the tart shells start to puff up a bit, crack open the oven a little and they should settle back down.
  2. Serve: Let the tarts cool down for a couple of minutes and then you can enjoy them while they’re still hot!

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Before I end tonight’s post, I’m happy to say that I will be able to cook up the dishes I had originally planned for the upcoming months ahead! If you read the end of my post last week, I talked about how difficult it has been to go out and shop at the bigger supermarket chains because of the lack of public transport to get there. Yesterday my cousin, who owns a car, offered me to go grocery shopping with her and thus I’ve managed to source the ingredients that I need!

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Hello Everyone! I’ll keep tonight’s introduction short as I have quite a bit to say at the end of this post – a disclaimer, or a little announcement(?) regarding Amcarmen’s Kitchen in light of the current pandemic.

This Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar is where it’s at. It is super easy to make and adorably cute served in a jar! Seriously delicious. Pumpkin Pie Purée. Cream Cheese Frosting. Ginger Biscuits. Layer, layer, layer and you’ve got yourself a dessert that’s sure to please everyone, not only with your culinary skills, but also with your creativity!

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Now, I think with the measurements I’ve stated below, you can make at least 2 large jars of Pumpkin Pie, 3 would be pushing it, but if your jars are smaller, it is possible. I only made one jar for the purpose of getting a photo for this post because I ended up saving two thirds of the pumpkin for our daily meal consumption. You’ll find out why at the end of this post.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, do take the time to check out where I drew my original inspiration for these Deconstructed Pumpkin Pies in a Jar over on Life, Love, and Sugar by Lindsay.

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

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

INGREDIENTS

For the pumpkin pie layer

  • 250g pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp tequila
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

For the cream cheese layer

  • 150g cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

For the biscuit layer

  • 200g Ginger Nut Biscuits, crushed
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Pumpkin Pie Layer: Preheat oven to 220C (425F or gas mark 7).
  2. Toss the pumpkin, sugar, spices, and everything nice (liquor) in an oven-safe baking dish. Sorry, I could not resist not saying that! *cheeky grin*
  3. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once done, set aside to completely cool down before puréeing the pumpkin. Mix the 2 tablespoons of cream into the pumpkin purée thoroughly.
  4. Biscuit Layer: Add the crushed ginger nut biscuits, salt, and melted butter together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes to chill.
  5. Cream Cheese Layer: Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat, on medium speed, the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes to chill.
  6. Assembly: Add about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of the ginger nut biscuit crumbs to the bottom of the jar. Layer with 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin pie purée, and the 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat the layering process until your jar is full.
  7. Top each with a dollop of cream and a biscuit, of biscuit crumbs. Set in the fridge for about 30 to 60 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

As promised, here’s the announcement: with the on-going pandemic affecting the world to date, enhanced community quarantine here in the Philippines has already proven that it may be a little difficult for me to source the ingredients I need for the dishes I have planned out for the upcoming weeks (hopefully not months).

Public transportation systems have completely ceased, and the only way to get around now is by foot since I do not own a car, and I unfortunately don’t know how to ride a bike. It’s been difficult to get to the nearest market for fresh food, which I learnt on Sunday has also ceased its operations. The only way I can get access to fresh food is at the grocery store, which is even further than our local market.

Anyway, I will definitely have recipes up in the next two weeks since I managed to cook them in advance before we went into enhanced community quarantine. I will still try my best to find ways to source the ingredients I need to keep Amcarmen’s Kitchen up to date. I have some delicious recipes lined up for you until July and I’m excited to share all of them with you!

In the meantime, stay safe guys! Make sure you wash your hands, stay at home if you don’t have a reason to go out, and practice safe social distancing!

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Hello Everyone! Just about 2 weeks ago, I went on a road trip with a few of my workmates for a weekend away to Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, specifically to the cities of Pagudpud and Vigan. Even though it was a stressful and quick trip, we had a lot of fun. I say stressful because literally right after work on the Friday, we made our way into the city to catch our private van. We drove through the night and arrived at Paoay before dawn.

We had our breakfast and then started our tour sightseeing Paoay before a rough morning ahead. A morning I think some of us will never forget. A rough 4×4 journey through the Paoay Sand Dunes followed by sand boarding activities. My multiple bruises took over a week to heal!

4x4 Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Sur

We arrived in Pagudpud just in time for a sumptuous boodle fight lunch by the beach. Since were too full to go for a swim right after, and it was scorching hot as well, we decided to continue with the tour first to fulfil our #forthegram shots before returning to the Blue Lagoon for a refreshing afternoon ocean swim after a super hot day! After our swim, we headed on over to our accomodation for a much needed shower before dinner. Remember how I said earlier that we headed straight into the city after work? This was the first shower I had in more or less 36 hours.

Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud, Ilocos Notre

The next day we got up early and left our accomodation after breakfast to start making our way back south to the city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. We arrived in Vigan just before lunch and took endless amount of #forthegram photos along the famous Calle Crisologo – pre-war beauty of whitewashed walls, cobbled streets, and old Spanish houses; a town saved from destruction because of a love story. It is now home to souvenir shops and interesting lokal products. After a quick lunch and a shopping/pasalubong spree, we were back on the road for our journey home to Manila.

Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

One of the many musts when visiting the city of Vigan, or just the region of Ilocos, is the famous Ilocos Empanada. It is an orange-tinged fried dish traditionally stuffed with vegetables like unripe papaya, skinless Vigan Longganisa, and egg. Modern versions of the dish add bagnet*, mung beans, and even hotdogs into the stuffing.

So my takeaway from this trip was to recreate the famous Ilocos Empanada at home, with a twist. Those who know me personally, ever since towards the end of last year, I’ve been trying to cut down on my meat intake for various health reasons. Those of you who also know me, I can’t cut out all meat from my diet and go completely vegetarian. And so, my diet as of this moment, consists of only chicken and seafood as my main source of animal protein. Hopefully, I can completely rule out chicken by the end of this year and go pescatarian.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Of course, I can’t not taste the original empanada first before attempting to put a twist to the classic. So just that one time, I broke my diet and had one (maybe 2) for myself. Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, here are a few links that you should check out that helped me put this recipe together:

* Bagnet, locally also known as chicharon in Ilocano, is a Filipino dish of pork belly that has been boiled first and then deep fried until it is crispy. It is seasoned with garlic, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt during the boiling process.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS** | COOKING TIME 6-8 MINS | MAKES 8 EMPANADAS

** Allow up to a minimum of 6 hours or up to 24 hours for freezing time. Freezing the empanadas beforehand helps to keep them intact and prevent them from breaking apart during the frying process.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 1 & 1/4 cups rice flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp annatto oil***
  • 1 tsp salt

For the vegan longganisa mixture
(Note: This recipe makes around 16-18 small sausages)

  • 250g firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 & 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 & 1/2 cups dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and minced (or any other mushroom)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 & 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling

  • 8 small free range eggs
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium-sized unripe papaya, shredded
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, shredded
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, diced
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vegan longganisa mixture
  • Cooking oil, for frying

*** The main purpose of using annatto oil is to provide colour to different dishes to make it more visually appealing. Since annatto oil is not always available in grocery stores, learning how to make it will surely be beneficial to you. Here are the details to get your started:

For the annatto oil

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, and corn oil can also be used)

METHOD

  1. Annatto Oil: Combine the annatto seeds and olive oil in a small saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium.
  2. When bubbles start to form around the annatto seeds, turn the heat off and let the seeds soak in the oil for a minute or two. Do not overcook the seeds as this will produce a bitter taste.
  3. Use a strainer to filter-out the annatto seeds and transfer to a heat proof bowl. Set aside to cool down.
  4. Empanada Dough: Add the water, salt, and annatto oil in a medium-sized non-stick frying pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  5. Once simmering, add the rice flour all at once and mix using a wooden spoon, until all the liquid is absorbed and and dough starts to form. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  6. Once completely cooled, knead until you get a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 8 equally-sized balls. Cover with cling wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
  7. Vegan Longganisa: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the breadcrumbs. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes. Even though it’s not stated in the ingredients list, I ended up adding some chilli powder to the mixture for an extra kick of spice.
  8. Add the breadcrumbs to the mixture. Add more depending on the firmness you want to achieve. At this point, you can shape the mixture into sausages, but since we’ll be using them for the empanada filling, we won’t be needing to shape them.

Vegan Longganisa

  1. Empanada Filling: Add a tablespoon of coconut oil into a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic until golden brown, about 30 seconds, before adding the diced onion. Cook for a further minute until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the tofu-mushroom mixture to the pan and stir-fry until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool down completely.
  3. Prepare the unripe papaya and carrots in a separate bowl.
  4. Assembly: Place the dough ball between two sheets of plastic cling wrap to prevent it from sticking to your counter-top and rolling pin. Roll it out nice and thinly.
  5. Fill with the shredded unripe papaya and carrots, together with the vegan longganisa. Arrange them so that they create a well in the middle. Crack one egg into the well.
  6. Fold the dough over and seal the edges by pinching it using your fingers or a fork. Transfer into a tupperware lined with parchment paper to prevent the empanadas sticking to each other.
  7. Repeat for the remaining dough. Should make about 8 small or 4 large empanadas.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

  1. Cook & Serve: Deep fry until golden brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once done, transfer to a wire rack and strain any excess grease from the empanadas. You can fry the empanadas longer if you prefer your egg to be cooked more, as long as you don’t burn the empanadas. I personally like my eggs runny.
  2. Enjoy with your favourite spicy coconut vinegar or of course, with some delicious Ilocos-made vinegar.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Note:

  • You will most definitely end up with a lot of leftover sautéed tofu & mushroom and shredded veggies.
    • Shredded Veggies: You can make a delicious Thai Papaya Salad with it and serve it with anything fried! My choice would be to serve it with a humble portion of fried fish.
    • Sautéed Tofu & Mushroom: Shape the leftovers into sausages and freeze. Pan-fry them for 3-5 minutes before serving.
  • If you want to make this dish completely vegan, omit the egg from the recipe.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Hello Everyone! I’m about to switch things up a bit tonight and share with you a recipe from a country that I have yet to culinarily explore. Amcarmen’s Kitchen is afterall, a Third Culture Foodie! It’s a bright orange Indian carrot pudding that is absolutely decadent and is sure to please, not only yourself, but your guests as well.

Gajar Ka Halwa, is a delicious and rich carrot pudding that’s perfect for any celebration. In India, this dessert is enjoyed mainly on the occasion of Diwali, Holi, Eid al-Fitr, and Raksha Bandhan. It can be served hot or cold. The classic Indian dessert is traditionally made using ghee and full-fat milk, but of course, you can easily substitute those dairy products out for non-dairy products for a vegan option of this dish, but apparently it won’t taste as great. I can’t judge for myself as I haven’t tasted the traditional version.

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Also, I just want to add that I had a hard time sourcing cardamom in store here in the Philippines. Cardamom has a complex flavour of fruity, nutty, spicy, woody, and citrusy that’s hard to replicate with other spices. However, cardamom substitutes like ginger, nutmeg & cinnamon are the closest.

If you too have difficulty in sourcing cardamom, I found online that you can mix together equal parts ground cinnamon and nutmeg and use in place of the cardamom called for in your recipe – which I already conveniently had both lying around at home in the pantry. If you don’t have nutmeg, then try equal parts cinnamon and ground ginger or equal parts cinnamon and ground cloves instead.

Before we delve into tonight’s recipe, please do check out the original by Ashley of My Heart Beets.

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding) Ingredients

PREP TIME 5-10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and grated/shredded
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (or 1/16 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/16 tsp ground nutmeg)
  • Handful of chopped pistachios or other nuts, to garnish

METHOD

  1. Add the shredded carrots, coconut milk, and water to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover and bring to a rapid simmer.
  2. Once simmering, add the sugar and cook for a further 6 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has reduced.
  3. Add the coconut oil and stir-fry the carrots for a further 6 to 7 minutes, or until the carrots become dry and the coconut oil separates from the mixture. The carrots should look dark orange or reddish in colour.
  4. Add the ground cardamom and mix well.
  5. Transfer to individual serving ramekins and top with the chopped pistachios. Enjoy!

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Note: You can easily double or triple this recipe if you plan on making this dessert for a crowd.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Orange-glazed Salmon with Tarragon

Orange-glazed Salmon with Tarragon

Hello Everyone! As I stated in my very first post for the year 2020, I mentioned that I would not be revealing the theme for the year as I want to give you guys a chance to guess. I also mentioned that it might not be obvious for the first few months. But as a new month dawns upon us, this means that it’s time to change it up a little bit; to make it start to look a little clearer on where the journey of Amcarmen’s Kitchen will take us this 2020.

Tonight’s recipe is perfect for an easy weeknight meal, yet also fancy enough to impress your guests on the weekend! What’s even better is that it’s ready in under 30 minutes! It’s full of vibrant orange flavour and pairs well with the fresh tarragon. Actually, a little side note – the recipe uses fresh rosemary to pair with the salmon. I had a hard time sourcing rosemary the weekend I wanted to whip this dish up and so I ended up using the next best thing I could find – tarragon!

Orange-glazed Salmon with Tarragon

This Orange-glazed Salmon is a hearty and filling dish packed with fresh flavours and healthy fats. Sear the salmon first so that you get that delicious and slightly crisped golden-brown exterior with a tender, fall-apart interior. As this dish makes quite a bit of sauce, it is best served with a side of rice or couscous to soak up all that yummy goodness. Don’t forget a side of veggies too for some added fibre to your diet!

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please check out the original where I drew my inspiration from, another recipe from Jaclyn over on Cooking Classy.

Orange-glazed Salmon with Tarragon Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 salmon portions (1-inch thick, skin on)
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 small Navel oranges)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 shrimp bouillon cube, dissolved in 5 tbsp of water
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Tarragon sprigs, to serve

To serve

  • Blanched vegetables of choice
  • Navel orange wedges/slices
  • Steamed plain rice or couscous

METHOD

  1. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan or skillet over medium-high. Make sure that it is hot enough, but not too hot that it starts smoking.
  2. Season both sides of the salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper before adding to the pan. Cook, skin side down first before flipping, about 3-4 minutes per side or until browned and cooked through. Once done, transfer the salmon to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.
  3. With the same oil in the pan, add the garlic and minced tarragon. Sauté for about 20 seconds, taking care not to burn them, and then add 4 tablespoons of the shrimp bouillon cube dissolved in water. Simmer until mostly reduced. Stir in the orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, and honey.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of the shrimp bouillon cube dissolved in water with the cornstarch. Pour into the pan and whisk until thickened. Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for about a minute while constantly whisking.
  5. Return the salmon to the pan and spoon the sauce over. Remove from the heat.
  6. Serve with vegetables of choice, in this case I used mustard leaves, on the side with extra slices of fresh oranges and steamed rice (optional). Enjoy!

Orange-glazed Salmon with Tarragon

Orange-glazed Salmon with Tarragon

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com