Auguest 2017: Jialing Mew

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Happy Guestember everyone! I’ll be taking over Amcarmen’s kitchen this week, for my third guest appearance. Having lived in Sydney for the past few years, I’ve crossed paths with several people, all with different lifestyles, backgrounds, and interests. Amidst the social and cultural melting pot, I’ve found that food is always a common talking point and a great way to bring people together. And what’s better than food that can be enjoyed by all? I’ve certainly managed to surpass my own expectations this year – not only does my recipe use multiple ingredients from Allison’s high-blood-pressure-lowering list, but it is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and… vegan! (Read about last year’s vegan recipe struggle here MATE YOU GOTTA LINK THIS PART WHERE IT SAYS HERE TO THE RECIPE FROM LAST YEAR PLZ CUZ I DONT KNOW HOW TO DO EET AND ALL THIS TEXT IN RED PLZ REMOVE FROM POST TENKS. Yes, 2017 Jialing can laugh about it now).

[I’m sorry Jialing, I had to share the text in red for the blogging world to see because it’s just too funny!] – Ally xx

Inspired by seasonal ingredients in my kitchen, staples in my pantry, and great people in my life, this dish is something that I hope everyone can enjoy. True to my appetite, my recipe makes a LOT, so it’s best made in the largest pot or pan you can scrounge up, then shared with a small army. Or simply halve the first lot of ingredients for a more regular quantity. Enjoy!

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew Ingredients



  • 500g scrubbed potatoes, cubed
  • 500g split lentils
  • 500g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can (400g) white beans, drained
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp hot curry powder (use mild if less heat is preferred)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  •  (optional)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • A small handful of dried curry leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • 1 tbsp cornstarch, for slurry
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • Lemon and coriander, to garnish


  1. In your very large pot over high heat, fry onion in oil until browned. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add ginger paste and tomatoes, stirring until tomatoes are soft and start to break down (being careful not to let the garlic burn).
  2. Add curry powder, coriander powder, and chill powder if desired, stirring briefly for a few seconds.
  3. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes and lentils, increase heat to high, and add enough water to the pan to cover the potatoes and lentils. Keep covered until the water boils.
  4. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low and add lemon wedges, stirring occasionally and topping up water until lentils and potatoes are all cooked through (may take roughly half an hour). Be sure to leave enough liquid to just cover the lentils.
  5. Add curry leaves, then salt and pepper, adjusting to your taste (I usually end up adding about 1 tbsp of salt). At this point, make the optional slurry with cornstarch and 1 tbsp of water, and add to the pan to thicken the gravy.
  6. Add drained white beans to pan, stirring until heated through. Take your pan off the heat.
  7. Toss in the kale, stirring through gently until evenly distributed. Be careful not to spill, as I always do…
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander and lemon. Serve hot with basmati rice or flat bread, chutney or fresh yogurt, or even on its own. Enjoy with friends or family 🙂

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Curried Lentil & Vegetable Stew

Recipe Copyright © 2017 | jialingmew


– xx Jialing

Plokkfiskur (Icelandic Fish Stew)

Plokkfiskur (Icelandic Fish Stew)

Hello Everyone! Can you believe it?! It’s already the middle of the year! How did time fly by so quickly when I felt like it was only just yesterday that 2017 kicked in?! The next thing you know, it’ll be December and I hope that the next half of the month will be exciting for me in terms of personal and career growth.

So let’s just get right into it shall we? I promise that this won’t be a long-winded post as have the previous ones been so far. I’ve got nothing much to share anyway as things at work have been progressively slow, but I’m not complaining though!

The theme for the month of June on Amcarmen’s Kitchen is hero-ing Tilapia! For those of you who are just tuning into the blog, I made a post at the beginning of the year about Hypertension, or known commonly as High Blood Pressure. Last year, I did a medical check up and found out that I had High Blood Pressure – now I don’t know if this was due to the amount of stress I had been experiencing from work prior to my medical check up, or that it is already a part of my health. Nonetheless, after knowing about my high blood pressure, I’ve been rather careful with my diet and making sure that I eat foods that help lower and maintain a stable blood pressure. In the post, I listed out 20 foods and drinks that help to prevent, lower, or control your high blood pressure naturally without the need for medication. Tilapia is one of the foods that I listed out in that post, and just to recap: just 133 grams (4 oz) of tilapia provides 8% of the magnesium and 8% of the potassium you need every day. I promised that this wouldn’t be a long-winded post but it seems like it is turning out to be one, and I do apologise for misleading everyone!

Plokkfiskur (Icelandic Fish Stew)

So, maybe you’ve read this in a previous post, or you know me personally to know where I’d like to travel to next; it’s an absolute dream of mine to travel Iceland. I talked to an Icelandic acquaintance not too long and asked him what Icelandic dish he would recommend I try if I were to visit Iceland in the near future. A dish that he pointed out was Plokkfiskur. Plokkfiskur, or roughly translating to ‘mashed fish’ is an Icelandic Fish Stew that isn’t quite like the stews that you’re traditionally used too. It’s not soup based, but instead it is a combination of fish, potatoes, onions and béchamel sauce is a firm favourite in Icelandic kitchens. It’s a traditional dish and a true comfort food. For my dish, I completely left the béchamel sauce out for no particular reason – okay I lied, there is a reason and that reason is because the recipe that I looked up did not have béchamel sauce in it. It was only after when I was trying to describe what Plokkfiskur was for this post that I saw “béchamel sauce” in the description and had a little oh shit reaction. So any Icelanders out there reading this post, please do not butcher me for this – I’ve simply adapted the recipe to what is available here in Brunei and also paired it with other side dishes… Without the rye bread *gasps*.

Plokkfiskur (Icelandic Fish Stew) Ingredients



For the plokkfiskur

  • 1kg fresh or frozen tilapia fillets, skins removed and cubed
  • 200g gouda cheese, grated
  • 2 medium brown onions, diced
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Spring onion, chopped
  • Butter, for greasing

For the garlic rosemary potatoes

  • 500g small to medium-sized potatoes, skin on
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Asparagus stalks


  1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F or gas mark 5).
  2. Add the diced onions and cubed tilapia into a greased baking dish, and season with salt and pepper. Top with the grated gouda cheese and pop into the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly on top.
  3. Once done remove from the oven and sprinkle some chopped spring onions on top.
  4. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Once done, drain and set aside to cool down a bit. Then take a flat surfaced object (I used a small plate), to press down on the potatoes so that they are slightly smashed but not completely broke into pieces.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized non-stick frying pan and sauté the minced garlic and rosemary spring until slightly fragrant. Add the potatoes in, working in batches if needed, and panfry each side until golden in colour, about 2-3 minutes per side. Once done transfer to individual dishes.
  6. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus stalks for about a minute or two until tender but still crunchy. Drain and submerge in an ice bath immediately to stop the cooking process. Divide evenly between the individual dishes.
  7. Divide the Plokkfiskur into the individual dishes and enjoy with your family and/or friends!

Plokkfiskur (Icelandic Fish Stew)


– Ally xx

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Health Tip: High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Hello Everyone! I am back on Amcarmen’s Kitchen for the year and I would just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year and a Happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese Family, Friends, and Followers! May the Year of the Golden Rooster bring you and your family your family Happiness that comes from within, the best of Luck to keep you pushing, and Peace in all days of this New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai! 恭喜發財!

Now, before I move on to this evening’s post, I just want to clarify to those who haven’t read or been following my blog last month – I did mention that I would be taking a break from Amcarmen’s Kitchen due to the fact that I had a hectic schedule for the past few weeks, preventing me from having the energy to be in the kitchen on my only day off for the month of January. When the New Year kicked in, I had been staying a little later in the office every night to expedite the completion of the many design collaterals needed for the 19th Consumer Fair that happened just last week from the 18th to the 22nd of January 2017. Right after the Consumer Fair, we had family friends visiting us for 5 days, and then I had a Car Launching Event to manager alongside another colleague just 2 days ago. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since the start of the year and I still haven’t been able to have a good rest as the inevitable post-Consumer Fair virus decided to kick in. I am currently, and slowly recovering from a blocked nose, an itchy throat, and a migraine as I am writing this post. Thank goodness for the long weekend ahead, otherwise I wouldn’t be seeing myself recovering for the next week or so.

Now, all that aside, let’s get onto tonight’s post! Tonight will be something different, but it will serve as the ultimate guideline for the year to come. As you can see from the title, the main focus of this post is to target High Blood Pressure, or also known as, Hypertension. In my recent trip to the Philippines, back in the middle of 2016, I underwent a health check as part of my requirement to process my employment permit to work in Brunei. It was then that I found that I suffer from high blood pressure. I admit that when I found out about this, I was feeling a little bit depressed; and whilst I was still in the Philippines back then awaiting for the approval of my employment visa, I sat down and started researching on hypertension and what foods to eat/avoid to help regulate blood pressure levels. Ever since I found out about my blood pressure levels being exceedingly high, I have also made changes to the food I eat, and have tried to become more active in my lifestyle habits.

High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension, is a serious health problem, where over time it causes blood vessel damage that can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other health problems. Hypertension is sometimes known as the silent killer because there are no real symptoms to detect whether or not you are prone High Blood Pressure. If you don’t get your blood pressure checked regularly, hypertension could go unnoticed, and untreated, for years.

Your diet plays a big role in whether you have high or normal blood pressure. Dietary recommendations for lowering blood pressure include reducing your intake of fat, sodium, and alcohol. It is also suggested that you eat more foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. In general, you should eat more high-fibre, low-sodium, low-fat protein sources, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Here are 20 foods & drinks that you should include in your daily diet to help prevent, lower, or control your high blood pressure naturally without the need for medication:

1. Avocado – All you need is about half a medium-sized avocado everyday as it provides 1% of the calcium, 5% of the magnesium, and 10% of the potassium that you need daily. The dark green flesh just under an avocado’s brittle skin contains large amounts of disease-fighting compounds.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Avocados

2. Bananas – Slice a banana into your breakfast cereal or oatmeal, or take one to work everyday for a quick, easy, and inexpensive snack. One medium-sized banana provides 1% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium, and 12% of the potassium you need daily.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Bananas

3. Beets – People with High Blood Pressure saw significant improvements from drinking beetroot juice. The nitrates found in the juice brought down one’s high blood pressure within just 24 hours. If you’re not too keen on drinking beetroot juice, you can easily roast or steam the whole root and add it to a green-packed salad, stir-fry, or stews.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Beets

4. Berries – Blueberries especially, are rich in natural compounds where when consumed, is known to prevent hypertension and reduce high blood pressure. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are easy to add to your diet; put them in your cereal every morning or keep some in the freezer for a quick and healthy dessert.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Berries

5. Broccoli – This cruciferous vegetable is a famous source of cancer-fighting nutrients. One cup of cooked broccoli provides 6% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium, and 14% of the potassium you need everyday.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Broccoli

6. Celery – To lower mild cases of high blood pressure, one would eat about a cup of chopped celery daily. You should begin to see results after only a week or two. Celery contains a chemical that smoothes the muscles lining blood vessels, which increases vessel diameter and allows for easier blood flow at lower pressures.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Celery

7. Fat-free Plain Yogurt – Cool and creamy, yogurt is a star ingredient in mineral-rich breakfasts, sauces and salad dressings, and even in entrée dishes. You can control the fat and nutrient content by making your own yogurt at home for your high blood pressure diet. Here’s a recipe to making your own yogurt at home.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Fat-free Plain Yoghurt

8. Hibiscus Tea – Hibiscus tea has been a traditional remedy for high blood pressure and one that must be used continuously to maintain its positive results. Look specifically for tea made from Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is generally made from the flowers and fruit of the plant.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Hibiscus Tea

9. Kiwi – Kiwis contain more vitamin C than a same-size serving of orange slices. One kiwifruit provides 2% of the calcium, 7% of the magnesium, and 9% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Kiwis

10. Leafy Greens – Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, arugula (rocket), kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and spinach are high in potassium. This allows your kidneys to get rid of more sodium through your urine, which lowers your blood pressure. Stray away from canned vegetables though as they contain high amounts of sodium; instead, opt for frozen vegetables as they contain as many nutrients as fresh vegetables and are easy to store.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Leafy Greens

11. Oatmeal – Oatmeal for your breakfast is a great way to charge up for the day. It is high-fibre, low-fat, and low-sodium, which is essentially just what you need to help lower your blood pressure. On its own, oatmeal can be bland; however, you should refrain from adding too much sugar. Instead, add fresh or frozen berries (see point 4) to sweeten it up, and maybe just a touch of honey.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Oatmeal

12. Peaches & Nectarines – Frozen unsweetened peach slices are a great alternative to fresh peaches and nectarines on a high blood pressure diet. Just defrost ahead of time or, for smoothies, simply toss in the blender. One medium peach or nectarine provides 1% of the calcium, 3% of the magnesium, and 8% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Peaches & Nectarines

13. Pomegranate Juice – The pomegranate has been revered as the “fruit of life.” One of its remarkable powers is to improve cardiovascular health. If you drink pomegranate juice to naturally lower your blood pressure, be sure your juice has no added sugars.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Pomegranate Juice

14. Pork Tenderloin – Meat lover’s can now rejoice! You’re probably wondering how pork even made it onto this list, well just 85 grams (3 oz) of pork tenderloin provide 6% of the magnesium and 15% of the potassium you need every day. This lean cut provides plenty of meaty flavour and satisfaction without the overload of saturated fat found in fattier types of beef and pork.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Pork Tenderloin

15. Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes – Potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that can help to lower your blood pressure. One medium sweet potato with the skin provides 4% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium (7% without the skin), and 15% of the potassium (10% without the skin) you need every day. Bake several sweet potatoes at one time so you’ll have a ready supply for quick smoothies and other recipes.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

16. Quinoa – This high-protein whole grain has a mild yet nutty flavour, contains a variety of health-protecting nutrients along with an impressive amount of magnesium, and cooks in less than half the time it takes to make brown rice. A half-cup of cooked quinoa provides 1.5% of the calcium, 15% of the magnesium, and 4.5% of the potassium you need every day. Quinoa is gluten free, making it a great option if you’re gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. The most widely available quinoa is a golden beige color, but red and black varieties are also available and worth a try for your high blood pressure diet.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Quinoa

17. Red Capsicum – One cup of raw red capsicum provides 1% of the calcium, 4% of the magnesium, and 9% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Red Capsicum

18. Skim Milk – Skim milk is an excellent source of calcium and is low in fat. These are both important elements of a diet for lowering blood pressure. Swap out your higher-fat milk for skim milk. If you’re not a fan of milk altogether, then eat more low-fat or nonfat yoghurt. Just make sure to avoid yoghurt that is high in sugar.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Skim Milk

19. Tilapia – This mild white fish is available year-round in supermarkets and fish stores, fresh or as frozen fillets. You can roast it, bake it, and sauté it, flavor it with a variety of seasonings, and even top it with mineral-rich kiwi-avocado salsa (see points 1 and 9). Just 133 grams (4 oz) of tilapia provides 8% of the magnesium and 8% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Tilapia

20. White Beans – And last but not least, you can use this comfort food in side dishes, soups, and entrées. As a meatless source of protein, it’s a great choice for vegetarians. One cup of white beans provides 13% of the calcium, 30% of the magnesium, and 24% of the potassium you need every day.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): White Beans

Of course there are other factors that help control, lower, or prevent high blood pressure such as exercising regularly and keeping an eye on your waistline, but I won’t be going into too much detail on those aspects. Just always remember that eating foods that are rich in minerals is better than taking supplements.

So yes, earlier above I made mention that this list will serve as the ultimate guideline to the monthly themes on Amcarmen’s Kitchen – each month I will pick a certain food to cook with from the list above and dish up meals highlighting the chosen ingredient. For example, I have chosen to focus on Bananas for the month of February. Stay tuned as Amcarmen’s Kitchen will be back with some exciting recipes starting this Wednesday!


*Note: All imagery used in this blog post do not belong to me, they have been sourced from Google Images and Freepik. Likewise, information gathered for this post has been sourced from Dr. David Williams, Eating Well, Health Line & Prevention.

– Ally xx

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken

Hello Everyone! I really want to start of with a Green Day classic, but I realised just how lame it is and how overdone the joke is in the past years. For the non-Green Day fans or just those that have been living under a rock, Green Day released a song on their 2004 American Idiot album, a song titled Wake Me Up When September Ends – and I was going to go on this tangent about how it’s already October and that I wasn’t woken up when September ended. I told you it was lame *cheeky grin*

Anyway, mini tangent aside; as per usual, a new month calls for a new theme on the blog! This month, I will be sharing recipes that incorporate the use of alcohol into the dishes. Okay, how I came up with this theme was because I have a full bottle of Jack that has been sitting in the living room collecting dust for almost 3 years now, and I also brought back a bottle of red wine from my recent trip to the Philippines. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know that I am not a drinker – so why do I have these beverages lying around the house if I don’t drink? Well, I mean the fact that my bottle of whisky has been sitting around for years speaks for itself. I don’t even know why I bought it in the first place; the only reason I could think of was so that I could use it in my cooking – and here we are now! I guess, with these two alcoholic beverages, you can tell when the month is going to predominantly feature *cheeky grin*

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken

Tonight’s recipe was one that I whipped up a while back, during the long weekend in the middle of September. I brought it for lunch in the office the next day back, and my colleague asked me what I had brought in for lunch today. I replied “Bourbon and Maple-glazed Chicken with Chunky Mash and Pan-fried Asparagus.” She then laughed and continued to say “it sounds so Masterchef – like usually if you ask any locals what they had for lunch, they will just say ‘Buttermilk Chicken’.” I too laughed when she said that, referring to the fact that one would normally have a simply-named dish for lunch, but not me apparently. My lunch’s name was Masterchef worthy hahaha – yes, just the name, the overall dish is still maybe a bit too simple for Masterchef level. Maybe if I cooked it in liquid nitrogen to give it the Heston Blumenthal touch then I could be in it to win it… As if hahaha! Anyway, the original recipe for tonight can be found over on Simply Recipes.

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken Ingredients



  • 6 pcs chicken whole legs, cleaned thoroughly
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or about 2-3 tsp of dried rosemary)
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon whisky
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Prepare the chicken by placing them skin side up in a oven-proof dish. Set aside.
  2. Bourbon Maple Glaze: Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high and melt the butter until melted. Add in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then add the diced onions, cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes further.
  3. Add the bourbon whisky together with the maple syrup, tomato paste, rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and bring the glaze to a low simmer.
  4. Coat chicken with glaze and roast: Pour half of the glaze mixture over the pre-prepared chicken and toss to coat well. Place in the oven, and then roast the for about 30 minutes, then turn the chicken over and roast for a further 12-15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Lower the heat or remove from the oven if the chicken whole legs start getting too dark.
  5. Simmer remaining glaze until thickened: Meanwhile, as the chicken roasts away, simmer the remaining sauce in the medium-sized saucepan until it thickens slightly and can coat the back of a spoon. Once done, remove from the heat and then set aside. Tip: if it is taking too long for the sauce to reduce, pour it into a wide shallow pan and bring to a boil. The wider pan will make sauce evaporate more easily.
  6. Coat cooked chicken in glaze: When the whole legs are done, remove from oven and dip them into the saucepan with the reduced glaze.
  7. Serve on a bed of chunky roasted garlic mashed potatoes and some pan-fried baby asparagus stalks – of course, whatever you fancy with your chicken will do the trick. Enjoy!

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken


– Ally xx

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

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

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

Minestrone Soup

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

Minestrone Soup Ingredients



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


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

Minestrone Soup


– Ally xx

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Hello Everyone! Another simple recipe for you that has already probably come up in a few recipes as an accompaniment to a main dish, but I thought that I’d separate the recipe from a post I did two days ago. I love mashed potatoes. I still even remember the time I “made” them – a cringe-worthy experience I must say! I was THAT inexperienced that I “made” mashed potatoes by simply buying those pre-packed ones where you would just add water and violà! Can’t believe I did that for a year.

And you may think that mashed potatoes are simple and easy to make? Well somehow I still managed to stuff them up one time – it had a glue-like texture to it… It was just awful in texture but at least the taste was somewhat still there. I seriously had NO idea how that happened until I came across a Masterchef Australia’s Masterclass on TV where Gary showed how to make the perfect mashed potatoes. I then understood where my mistakes were and they were mainly to do with temperatures and process of mashing (I used to use a potato masher, but for a smoother consistency…you’ll find out below). Nonetheless, I can say that I’m pretty much there with my mashed potatoes – some days more creamy and some days more fluffy because I pretty much just eyeball the amount of milk and butter. Also always inconsistent with the number of potatoes that I use. So for this recipe, just adjust the amount of milk and butter to your liking.



  • 4 medium-sized white potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed but not boiling
  • 10g unsalted butter
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste


  1. Steam the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes or until tender (check by piercing a fork into the chunks of potatoes). Drain and pass the potatoes through a sieve back into the pot with the heat turned off. Work in batches if needed.
  2. Add the warmed milk, potatoes and ground salt and pepper, and mix until a smooth and creamy texture. Serve as an accompaniment to a main dish.

Mashed Potatoes

Also note the waterlily bowl that I used to hold my mashed potatoes in! If you’re a new follower or have not seen my blog before, head on to a post I did a while back on my Lovelily Tableware Collection where I hand-built plates and bowls for my introduction to ceramics course as part of my degree elective.


– Ally xx