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

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Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

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

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

Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

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

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

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

Beetroot Pesto Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the beetroot pesto sauce

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

For the roast lemon rosemary chicken*

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

METHOD

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

Angel Hair with Beetroot Pesto & Roast Lemon Rosemary Chicken

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Lemon, Butter & Ginger Tilapia en Papillote

Lemon, Butter & Ginger Tilapia en Papillote

Hello Everyone! Before I begin with tonight’s post I would like to apologise for not getting this post up last week, I actually had it prepared and ready to go – I just needed to edit the pictures for the post. But this time last week I was rushing to get ready and out of the house in an hour after arriving home from work to pick up a few friends and then off to another friend’s house for Raya celebrations. So that night, I didn’t get to go home until about past 11pm and when I was finally ready for bed, it was just past midnight and I had work the next day. I was going to post the next day or at least before the new month but I never got around to doing it until it ended up being Wednesday again. Whoops! Anyway, before we push through, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim family and friends in Brunei and around the world a belated Selmat Hari Raya! Maaf Zahir dan Batin. For those of you who don’t know on Monday (here in Brunei that is) marked the end of the fasting month, also known as Ramadhan.

Tonight’s recipe I will be sharing with you is simple yet flavourful. “En papillote” is French for in parchment, or if in Italian is known as al cartoccio where it is a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel of parchment paper and then baked. You can literally put anything into this parcel so feel free to get creative in mixing up flavour combinations that are to your liking. I decided to make a spring onion and ginger oil to serve with the fish just to enhance the flavours a little more, but feel free to omit this as well if you wish.

Lemon, Butter & Ginger Tilapia en Papillote Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the en papillote

  • 2 large tilapia fish, scaled and filleted
  • 4 x 10g unsalted butter
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch sized ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Pinch of ground sea salt, to taste

For the spring onion and ginger oil

  • 4 stalks spring onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Asparagus stalks, blanched in salted water
  • Touch of paprika, for garnish

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 230C (450F or gas mark 8). Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper, about 25cm in length (or bigger if needed depending on the size of your fillets).
  2. Line a few of the ginger slices on the parchment paper and place 1 fillet on top, adding all the other ingredients. Fold parchment over fish, making small overlapping folds along edges and sealing with a paper clip. Place on rimmed baking sheets. Roast until parchment puffs, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. While the fish is cooking away you can work on the spring onion and ginger oil. add the spring onions, ginger and salt to a heatproof mortar and pound lightly with the pestle. Heat the oil in a small frying pan until smoking and pour onto the mixture. Once the sizzling stops, combine lightly with the pestle and leave to infuse for a few minutes.
  4. One the fish are done, remove from the oven and transfer the parcels to Carefully cut packets, avoiding escaping steam, and serve.

Lemon, Butter & Ginger Tilapia en Papillote

Lemon, Butter & Ginger Tilapia en Papillote

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones

Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones

Hello Everyone! I’ll make tonight’s post quick only because I am mentally and physically exhausted from both being sick and basically juggling so many projects simultaneously today. I managed to tick at least 70% of my list of things to do for work so I’m pretty happy about that, but it’s going to be a busy weekend!

Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones

Anyway, tonight’s recipe is one of my favourite go-to-brekkie when I was still living in Sydney for my university studies. When I lived up in the lower North Shore, I’d always walk about 15 minutes from home to catch the train to the city, and then a bus to campus. Along the way, I’d stop at Baker’s Delight and pick up a freshly baked Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scone before hopping onto the train. I’d then have my scone on campus in the lecture hall, or tutorial rooms while waiting for class/lecture to start. It would alway make my mornings a little bit better especially when I’d have to be on campus by 8 or 9 in the morning.

So since the theme for the month of May on Amcarmen’s Kitchen is Blueberries, I decided to whip up my own batch of Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones to get into the nostalgic zone. I followed my own recipe for Basic Scones which I posted way back in mid-2014, and added blueberries, lemon juice and zest, and white chocolate chips into the mix.

Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 20-25 MINS | SERVES 12 SCONES

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 punnet (125g) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 80g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Sift the self-raising flour into a large bowl and add the cubed butter together with the lemon zest. Rub the butter into flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles a breadcrumb texture.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the milk, lemon juice, and blueberries in. Mix with a flat-bladed knife until the mixture forms a soft dough. If the mixture is a bit dry and crumbly, add more milk if required. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth (don’t knead the dough too much though or your scones will be quite tough).
  4. Pat the dough into a 2cm-thick round, and cut into 12 equal logs.
  5. Place scones onto a tray lined with baking paper, 1cm apart from each other. Lightly sprinkle the tops with a little flour and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and well risen. Serve warm with a nice cup of tea!

Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones

Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones

Blueberry Lemon & White Chocolate Scones

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon ‘Cheesecake’

Hello Everyone and a very happy first day of May! For those of you celebrating Labour Day, I hope you’re having a blast with your long weekend! Unfortunately, Labour Day isn’t celebrated in Brunei, so yes, I worked today *sad face*. Well, I’m actually not here out of my usual posting schedule to talk about Labour Day, in fact, I’m here for a completely different, and special occasion!

Happy Birthday Mom!
Everyday I wake up, I always have you to thank. I have your guidance, your food, your warmth, your love, and your heart: someone who loves me (and the other 2 troublemakers as well) unconditionally. I promise I’m not just saying this because it’s your birthday haha! Happiest of Birthdays Mom!

This year for my Mom’s birthday, I decided to whip up a Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon ‘Cheesecake’ after my huge success with my sister’s vegan ‘cheesecake’ back in August 2016. I’ve been wanting to try out more vegan ‘cheesecakes’ since then and now the opportunity has surfaced once again. This ‘cheesecake’ is completely gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. Before we move on to the recipe, please check out the original over on Call Me Cupcake by Linda. Please take note that I have adjusted the quantities below to make an 8.5-inch round cake.

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake' Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | CHILL TIME min. 6 HOURS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the base

  • 1 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt

For the filling

  • 1 & 1/2 cups cashew nuts, soaked in water overnight then drained*
  • 2/3 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (50g) fresh or frozen (but thawed) blueberries
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup, to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the topping

  • Edible flowers**
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Shredded coconut

*Or soaked in very hot water for an hour if pressed for time

**To my Brunei followers if you could help me out, I don’t know where to find edible flowers here so what I usually do is just pick non-edible flowers from my garden, make sure they get a good wash and then use them only for photographic purposes.

METHOD

  1. Soak the roughly chopped dates in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl combined with the finely chopped almonds and salt. Using the back of a fork, mash and mix the ingredients together until a paste forms.
  2. Press the mixture into an 8-8.5 inch springform pan (and if you don’t have one, you may use a regular pie/cake tin covered with parchment paper). Place the pan in the freezer while you prepare the ‘cheesecake’ filling.
  3. Put al the ingredients for the the filling in a blender and blend on low until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Pour the filling onto the crust, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.
  4. Remove the cake from the pan and top with extra fresh blueberries, shredded coconut, and edible flowers. Leave to thaw in room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before cutting into it; you may run your knife under warm water and dry off to make a cleaner cut. Let each slice of cake thaw for a few more minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

So usually, it is a habit of mine to read through the recipe first either a few days before, or the night before just so that I have proper planning when it come to buying the ingredients needed to proceed with the recipe. This time around, I completely forgot about doing this – I already had the recipe bookmarked from probably the beginning of the year so I guess this is probably one of the reasons why it completely slipped my mind. Why is it important to read a recipe ahead of time? Well for starters, the cashew nuts in this recipe require to be soaked in water overnight. Did I soak mine overnight? Nope I didn’t. Luckily, this can be rectified as it does say in the original recipe that if you’re in a hurry, you can soak the cashew nuts in very hot water for an hour (which is what I did) hehe.

Also, I missed out on a crucial bit of information which I only saw earlier on this afternoon when I was writing this post: “makes 1 tiny cheesecake (12cm/5-inches)” No wonder my cheesecake looked short and just barely had enough crust to cover the whole bottom. My springform pan is 8.5-inches in size which mean that I could’ve easily just doubled the recipe *face palm* but oh well, I would’ve have had enough ingredients to double the recipe if I had noticed it early and that’s only because I probably wouldn’t have been bothered to drive out to the grocers again to pick up a few more ingredients.

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

Happy Birthday Mom!

So what did I learn tonight? READ THE RECIPE FIRST A DAY OR TWO AHEAD OF TIME!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

California-inspired Quinoa Salad

California-inspired Quinoa Salad

California-inspired Quinoa Salad Ingredients

Hello Everyone! A new month calls for a new theme on the blog, and for the month of September, I’ve got some creative and healthy quinoa recipes for everyone! Now, I remember the times where people would ask me… “What is quinoa (kee-NOO-ah)?” Firstly, I’d correct them and say that it’s pronounced KEEN-wah, and not kee-NOO-ah – but then again after doing some research, I realised that both are actually correct in a way. Apologies to those that I’ve made a big fuss with in terms of how to pronounce this grain.

So back to the question, what is quinoa? Well, I have always been stumped whenever this question pops up, and all I could respond was “it’s a grain, like rice – but it’s not really rice.” Yeah, that doesn’t help. Quinoa is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. The seeds are cooked in the same manner as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fibre. It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa also has a low glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar control, however, be mindful as it is still pretty high in carbs, so it is not a good choice for a low-carb diet.

California-inspired Quinoa Salad Ingredients

Find the original recipe over on Jo Cooks. She used sultanas in her salad, I didn’t. If you know me personally, I really despise raisins and sultanas – don’t ask me why, I just do. So I’ve omitted them from my salad and replaced them with wake instead. Wakame is a sea vegetable; edible seaweed or kelp common in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines. It has a subtly sweet flavour and is most often served in soups and salads. Wakame is a good source of the following (Source: MindBodyGreen):

  1. Magnesium: A mineral critical in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of certain enzymes in the body, production and transport of energy, and the production of protein.
  2. Iodine: Iodine is needed for strong metabolism of cells – the process of converting food into energy. It also maintains the balance of the thyroid gland and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones.
  3. Calcium: Wakame easily allows for the absorption of calcium into the human body. Each 100 grams of raw wakame contains 150mg of calcium. Calcium is needed for strong healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
  4. Iron: We need iron because it is essential for the production of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia.
  5. Vitamins!
    • Vitamins A, C, E, and K: These vitamins are all amazing for skin health and repair as well as immunology.
    • Vitamin D: Promotes the absorption of calcium for healthy bones and enhances the nerve, muscle, and immune systems.
    • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): We need riboflavin to use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the foods we eat. Riboflavin helps us use these nutrients for energy in our bodies for growth and is also necessary for red blood cell production. Riboflavin functions as an antioxidant and works in the body with other vitamins such as niacin, folate, and vitamin B6.
  6. Folate: Helps the body make new cells and is especially important for pregnant women.
  7. Lignans: Thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

California-inspired Quinoa Salad Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the salad

  • 1 cup shelled edamame, steamed
  • 3/4 cup almond slices (toasted if you prefer)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup tri-coloured quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, or parsley if you don’t like cilantro
  • 1/4 cup wakame
  • 1 large mango, cut into small chunks
  • 1 small red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
For the dressing
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon

METHOD

As easy as whisking all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, and then tossing all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl until well mixed; dressed and then served cold. Enjoy! It will keep in the fridge for about 5 days, but of course, it’s always better when it is consumed right away!

California-inspired Quinoa Salad

California-inspired Quinoa Salad

California-inspired Quinoa Salad

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan ‘Cheesecake’

Hello Everyone! Yes I am aware that it is indeed Tuesday and not a Wednesday – but today is a special day which indefinitely deserves a special post too! Today is the middle child’s 22nd Birthday, and since last year (which was the year I came back to Brunei) I’ve been baking cakes for the family. It was the better solution to, I guess, wanting a specific flavour for an affordable price. I cannot stress enough house much I hate store bought cakes – mainly because of their icing; too thick, too sweet, just… Ugh. I’m not much of a baker since I’m more into savoury foods, but I guess baking a cake 4 times a year (at minimum) isn’t too stressful and helps me practice.

Happy 22nd Birthday Angela!
Happy 22nd Birthday Angela! – early dinner at Balkony today after work. The cake not only looked amazing, but it tasted so good as well! I will definitely try out more no bake vegan ‘cheesecakes’ in the upcoming months – maybe for my Birthday in November!

Today’s recipe shall keep in theme with the theme for this month on Amcarmen’s Kitchen, which is, if you haven’t been following, Yes Ve Gan! A month of tribute to animal-free dishes that are sure to tickle your tummies from a different perspective. Before I had the idea of coming up with an animal-free theme for the blog, I wanted to bake a strawberry shortcake for my sister. I then only just changed my mind earlier last week to do a No Bake Strawberry & Coconut ‘Cheesecake’ for her after being inspired and reminded of the cake that Miao made back in March when we gathered for a dinner and catch up session with friends in Singapore. I think I mentioned in the beginning of the month in a post that it was a pretty darn delicious cake and it made me crave for more! So I thought to myself, why do I give a raw vegan cake a try since, like Miao at that time, I have never done one before! It’s super easy to make and you can substitute the strawberries out for your favourites berries such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or boysenberries.

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

This ‘cheesecake’ is completely gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free! The recipe makes for one 8″ sized cake, but of course you can always double the recipe to make a bigger one if you wish! Mind you, for those who have not read in an earlier post this month, I haven’t stopped eating animals, dairy, or eggs altogether. I still eat my meat, but not as often as I used to, and I still have my daily dose of cow’s milk in the mornings  to accompany my breakfast. I don’t see myself going completely vegan in the next couple of years – but who knows, that may change over time when I make that shift to loving all animals, and most importantly for a healthier lifestyle. For now, it is something that I want to look into and slowly add this way of eating into my daily diet.

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake' Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS | FREEZE TIME min. 4 HOURS* | SERVES 8-10

*preferably overnight to ensure that the cake is set.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 250g medjool dates, pitted
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight* and drained
  • 1 punnet (25g) fresh or frozen (but thawed) strawberries
  • 2/3 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, liquified
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Zest of 1 small lemon

For the topping

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Shredded coconut
  • Edible flowers (optional)

*if you are a bit pressed for time, or decided to make your cake today and hadn’t realised that you needed to soak your cashews overnight, then you can soak them in very hot water for about an hour instead of overnight.

METHOD

  1. Crust: Soak the pitted medjool dates in warm water for about 15-20 minutes and then drain. Put almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the dates and a pinch of salt, and pulse until a paste forms.
  2. Press mixture into an 8-inch springform pan (if you don’t have a springform pan, use a pie tin or a regular cake pan covered with baking paper). Place the crusted pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  3. Filling: Put all ingredients for the filling in a blender and blend on low until mixture is as smooth as possible. Pour the filling into the crust, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours.
  4. Remove the cake from the pan and leave to thaw in room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Top with fresh strawberries, shredded coconut, and edible flowers.

Tip: Run your knife under warm water (and dry off) before cutting, to make a cleaner cut. Let each piece thaw for a few more minutes before serving.

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Risoni al Ratatouille

Risoni al Ratatouille

Risoni al Ratatouille

Hello Everyone! Today is the last day of Pasta Month; sad to be ending as I actually have a whole lot more pasta dishes that I want to try out, but also happy to move onto a new theme for next month! Just a heads up though – the likelihood of a theme not happening is quite possible. I did have a theme in mind, and I’ve already prepared and cooked two dishes for it in advanced, the only problem is getting two more made for next month’s theme is quite unlikely. I say this because I am heading off to the Philippines on Saturday for about a month! Because of that, I probably won’t have time to cook. I also will not be sure if I will have Internet connection during my stay there so the likelihood of me uploading content for the month of July might not happen as well. So I guess I’ll just see how it goes – if posting on my blog is a problem, then you can follow me over on Instagram @amcarmenskitchen to follow my food journey while I am in the Philippines – I’ll make sure to keep that up to speed 🙂

Anyway, so okay, the dish is not quite a Ratatouille (I just thought naming it for this post would make it sounds fancier than it looks, hehe) – more like it’s inspired by some of the vegetables used to make a ratatouille *cheeky grin* but nonetheless, it still tastes pretty good for something that I just “whipped up” with the ingredients lying in the fridge and the pantry. You can bulk this dish up by adding meat or seafood if you wish, but I decided to keep this dish vegetarian.

Risoni al Ratatouille Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g risoni, or other shaped pasta
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chilies, sliced
  • 2 medium-szied Lebanese eggplants, sliced into 1-inch thick chunks and then quartered
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into 1-inch thick chunks and then quartered
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 punnet (125g) cherry tomato medley, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut into thirds
  • 1 tbsp baby capers, washed and drained
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil

METHOD

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the risoni pasta and cook according to packet instructions or until al dente (mine was about 11 minutes).
  2. While your pasta is cooking away, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the garlic and chilies until golden brown and fragrant, about a minute, and then add in the onions, cooking until soft for another minute or two.
  3. Add in the asparagus, together with the zucchini and eggplant, cooking until soft for about 6-7 minutes. Season with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. Add in the cherry tomatoes and leave to cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Lastly, add in the capers and then turn the heat off.
  4. Once the risoni is done, drain, and then return to the pot. Add in the stir-fried veggies to the pot with the risoni and then give it a good mix.
  5. Divide the risoni equally into 6 portions and then top with a generous handful of  grate parmesan cheese and some ground black pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Risoni al Ratatouille

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Hello Everyone! It’s week 2 of Pasta Month and let me tell you a little story (don’t I always? *cheeky grin*) before I move on to the recipe. The first time I had squid ink pasta was in an Italian Restaurant when I was studying in Sydney. If I’m not mistaken, the restaurant is called Pizza e Birra on Crown Street in the suburb of Surry Hills. I was having a fancy dinner night out with my flatmate at that time and squid ink pasta was on their specials menu. I was a bit hesitant at first because I obviously hadn’t tried it before and to be honest, I was a bit put off knowing that the colour of the pasta would be black (yes, at that time my palette wasn’t quite as sophisticated as it is right now). To my surprise, the squid ink pasta tasted like any normal pasta – it was just that the colour that was different to me. I’ve had my fair share of squid ink pastas, both in Australia, and here in Brunei. I decided to combine my favourite flavours from both experiences to put up this dish to share with you guys.

I’ve never made fresh squid ink pasta at home, and only because I have no idea where to source squid ink from besides from the ink sacs of fresh squids/cuttle fish. I did some reading online and found that you can actually buy bottled squid ink, but you definitely won’t find them in stores here in Brunei. Heck they don’t even have store bought squid ink pasta here! So how did I manage to source mine? Well, if you’re a regular follower/reader of my blog, you’ll know that I was in Singapore a couple of months back. I was shopping for groceries with my friends for a dinner party that night and I was flabbergasted by all the produce and products found in that grocery store. I was supposed to be focused on grabbing the ingredients I needed to cook my dish for that night, but instead I wandered off, going from aisle to aisle, looking at anything and everything. I found myself in the pasta aisle and that where I came across store bought squid ink pasta. You had no idea how excited and in shock I was when I saw it – because I had no idea that you could buy it on the shelves; and without any hesitation at all, I bought myself a pack to bring back here to Brunei. I know, I know – I’m crazy right? Haha. My next mission will be tomato squid ink pasta from scratch, and I’ll definitely share it on my blog whenever I get around to trying it out! For now, here’s one recipe you can do for your squid ink pasta:

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS | SERVES 5

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack (500g) squid ink pasta*
  • 1 pack (250g) cherry tomato medley, halved
  • 1 fish bouillon cube, dissolved in 2/3 cup of boiling water
  • 250g baby clam meat
  • 4 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 2 large squids, cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 1 lemon, wedged
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Parsley, roughly chopped

*Fresh homemade squid ink pasta or store bought is fine for this recipe

METHOD

  1. Lightly score the inner surface of the squid, or alternatively, cut into rings. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the squid ink spaghetti according to packet instructions or until al dente.
  3. While the pasta is cooking away, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high. Sauté the minced garlic and chillies together until golden brown and fragrant.
  4. Add the clam meat, juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Give it a good mix before adding the fish bouillon stock. Turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the calamari when the pasta is almost done.
  5. Once the pasta is done, drain and then transfer to the calamari and clam mixture. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and then give it a good mix. Top with the chopped parsley and then turn the heat off.
  6. Serve immediately with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia con Calamari e Vongole

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Hello Everyone! A new month means a new theme on the blog – and I’m sorry to start off on a negative note but I had plans to do a month-full of recipes that emphasise mangoes as the hero of the dish since it’s been in season for a while now here in Brunei. However, if you’re a regular reader on my blog, you’ll know that I have been working for the past 4 Sunday’s (which is basically my only time to enjoy myself in the kitchen), and because of that, I haven’t actually prepared any dishes for the theme that I had planned for my blog. I also haven’t been cooking any other dishes since my last free Sunday back in April, and so I decided that for this month, there will be no theme for the blog. Do not fret though! I will still be posting recipes, but they will be recipes that I have cooked up in the past – some taking us back towards the end of last year – that I didn’t get around to posting or fitting into a theme every month.

Tonight, I will be sharing with you, a recipe that I came across when I was exploring the Sydney Fish Markets for the nth time. Most of the fresh seafood stores there provide mini recipe cards to encourage the public to purchase their fresh catch. Every time I visited, I would always grab a recipe card, and one of the recipes that I was interested in was for Seared Tuna with Salsa Verde – and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today, a recipe for an easy, simple, yet yummy Salsa Verde with pan-fried salmon in my case, but it’s completely up to you on what type of fish you’d like to pair it with!

For those of you who don’t know, Salsa Verde literally just means green sauce that contains mainly herbs, common in Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Mexican cuisines, each with their own twists and variants. The recipe that I will be sharing tonight gears more towards Mexican  where it is typically made up of puréed cooked or raw tomatillos, with jalapeños or other chili peppers, white onion, cilantro, and sometimes lime to enhance the taste. Salsa verde can range in spiciness from mild to mouth-searing. It may be served warm or cold, as a condiment – a dip for tortilla chips and served with tacos, or paired with grilled pork, grilled meats, and even fish.

Salsa Verde Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME — MINS | SERVES 250ml

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 bunch basil leaves
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 7 anchovy fillets
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp baby capers in brine, rinsed
  • Juice of 1 lemon

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  2. Serve and enjoy as a condiment with your choice of dish (a dip for tortilla chips and served with tacos, or paired with grilled pork, grilled meats, and even fish). This recipe makes enough sauce to fill about a 250ml sized jar and can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde with Pan-fried Salmon

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com