Pineapple Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

I am Justine Michael (JM) De Guzman. A 26-year old Information System Developer and a very passionate home cook from the humble town of Limay, from the province of Bataan. I worked at a Government agency as a System Developer, had a break due to burnout, and that’s when I started focusing on my kitchen (which will soon be a little less, because I’m about to get back on my career track).

How did I get into cooking and food? Well I don’t exactly know when, but all I can remember was ever since I was a little boy, I used to lurk around with my mom, aunties, and Lola in the kitchen. While other kids of my age play outside, I on the other hand was busy buzzing around my mom’s kitchen staff. I used to ask a lot of questions about how our food was done. I would always insist on chopping and slicing the ingredients for our lunch. And I would be the first to ‘tikim’ (taste) my Lola’s dish. Yeah, since childhood, I was into food and cooking. I’m always present when and wherever there’s food.

Though I never really had the opportunity to pursue my passion in cooking until I graduated college, my parents wouldn’t allow me to enroll into culinary or any related program because it’s ‘mahal’ (expensive). We were financially unstable during those times. My mom had cancer, and thank God she’s a very lucky and blessed survivor up to this moment. Going back to the story, it was actually my dentist who became my stepping stone on getting into the real world of cooking. Long story short, she has a sister, who happened to be a celebrity chef who resides in Manila, who is also a lecturer at a premier culinary institution in the country. She endorsed me to her for a scholarship grant given by the said school. So I got in, studied, and trained for months. Voilà!

After my culinary training, an opportunity came, not in the cooking industry though, so I still haven’t really experienced cooking for a living. That’s when I started my career in my field of profession (information system). I worked at the office, but my passion, or should I say obsession for cooking never faded. I’ve been known by my colleagues as the guy who cooks and the guy who has baon (packed food) 🙂 Food became my motivation for work. I always wonder what to cook for dinner when I get home, and for my baon for tomorrow’s lunch.

I began exploring different cuisines, by researching through the web, books (I started collecting books about food), food channels, etc. Aside from food and cooking, my other fascinations include history (Asian history), linguistics, society, and culture. I started to appreciate our food, Filipino food – Southeast Asian food, and those are great factors that shaped up my style and way in cooking. I developed my standards, philosophy, and list of ‘musts’ in my cooking. I rarely cook foods these days that are Western in my point of view. I’m so patriotic. Ingredients should always be fresh and sourced by me. LOL. Ingredients that can be made from scratch must never be substituted with industrially manufactured ones (I hate sinigang mix!). You’ll never see stuff like tomato sauce, sinigang mix, and stew mix, etc. in my pantry.

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

If I remember it right, I started following Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s IG posts since last year. I really love her content and I frequently visited her blog as well. It was on the first day of May this year when I received a message from her asking about my interest in being part of her Auguest series.

The dish I’m sharing is of my own creation That said, this isn’t a traditional and commonly home cooked dish in most Filipino households. I’ll just call it Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. Before diving into the recipe, let me share some insights about this dish. As I’ve mentioned before, I have these so called “standards, philosophy, and musts” in my cooking. As much as I can, I don’t use industrially manufactured ingredients, so this dish uses fresh pineapple (but you guys can use the canned one, it’s just me. LOL.).

My philosophy in cooking:

You shouldn’t cook or eat food just to survive or satisfy your hunger. For me food must be respected, consumed, and celebrated every time, along with the stories it underlies with. That’s why it’s important for me to know the background and the story behind one dish. Like why this is cooked this way, why these ingredients are used, etc.

Fun fact, I have this odd habit, just before we eat at home, I first gather the attention of everyone. I weirdly and literally discuss the dish we have on the table, the name, and the ingredients, how I cooked it, what’s its origin (if it’s a traditional dish), my reasons and inspiration of coming up with the dish if I just made it out of creativity and imagination, the taste profile, etc. Just like you do it in a culinary school. Only after that will then they’re allowed to eat. LOL. It’s weird right?! But it’s true. No kidding aside.

Again, this is not a traditional Filipino food per se, but I still call it Filipino food. When we say Filipino cuisine, we’re basically dealing with food that’s been shaped by various factors. Culture, beliefs, traditions, religion, local and indigenous ingredients, influences locally, and internationally. Pinoy foods’ characteristics show strong Southeast Asian/Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and Indigenous influences. I always use them in reference whenever I’m developing a dish, just so that I could come up with a more meaningful one. Like, when I think of an ingredient(s) to be used for my dish, I always make sure, it has to be significant to one’s culture or tradition. I wouldn’t use jalapeño or habanero pepper for my Bicol express, simply because it’s not native nor a traditional Filipino ingredient. You get my point, right? LOL 🙂 I always make sure that each ingredient used is there for a reason; it’s not just there because I want it to be there.

So, Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. As the name implies it’s pork braised in a sauce base with pineapple and coconut cream. Why pork ribs? Well, we Filipinos love our pork. Right? Who doesn’t love pork ribs! Pineapple is my hero ingredient. This is a very common ingredient used in Filipino cooking, and I’ve seen lots of traditional dishes that use it as the base or just a “sahog” (topping). My mom would add juice from a pineapple in her caldereta and hamonado dishes, and fresh chunks in her curry. Then we have coconut. What represents Southeast Asian/Pinoy food more than coconut? I’m a huge fan of gata, and I often cook dishes with gata as its base. It is a shared ingredient among ASEANs. The aromatics I used were shallots, garlic, and ginger – the Filipino mirepoix 2.0 as I call it, as 1.0 being the forever trinity of tomatoes, shallots, and garlic. I added spices into it, which is not a very common practice among Filipino cooking, aside from our ultimate spice known as “black pepper” to give it the curry-like flavour profile – black peppercorn, chillies, coriander, star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon. For the seasoning, I used a balance of both fish sauce and soy sauce. In addition, since this is a sweet-tangy-savoury dish, I added “panutsa” or unrefined block sugar (but seriously brown sugar’s fine).

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | SERVES 5-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 kg pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 1 whole large fresh pineapple, divided
  • 200ml (approx. 3/4 cup) juice from half of the pineapple
  • 4 & 1/2 cups coconut cream
  • 6 red bird’s eye chili, finely minced
  • 6 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or alternatively, 1 tbsp cinnamon powder)
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, finely minced
  • 6 tbsp panutsa or brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp ginger, finely minced
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Fish sauce, to season
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to season

METHOD

  1. In a large wok (kawa) over high heat, sear the ribs until browned and develops a crust on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add a portion of the coconut cream (about 1/4 cup) into the wok. Simmer until the coconut oil separates from its curd.
  3. In the now separated coconut oil, sauté the finely minced aromatics (shallots, garlic, and ginger) altogether. Sauté until aromatics are translucent.
  4. Turn the heat up to high. Return the seared pork ribs back to the wok and then pour in the pineapple juice, remaining coconut cream, all the spices, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
  5. Cover, bring to a medium boil, and then immediately turn the heat down to low.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium heated pan, sear the cubed pineapples until browned and caramelized.
  7. For the last 15 minutes of simmering, add in the seared pineapple. Simmer the dish uncovered, just until the pineapple has absorbed the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with steamed white rice. A little bowl of patis (fish sauce) with crushed chilies is a good accompaniment to this. Enjoy!

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

You can technically call this dish “ginataan”, and you might also find resemblance with hamonado because of its “fruitful” ingredient – pineapple and a hint of “curry-ness” from the added dry spices.

I hope you’ll like this recipe.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | JM de Guzman

BON APPÉTIT

– JM de Guzman

myTaste.com

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Auguest 2019: May (my_kusina_ph)

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Hello everyone, my name is May. I am behind the IG account @my_kusina_ph. I normally feature Filipino food and I love using “bilao” as my plating dish, hence, the hashtag #bilaoserye for some of my home-cooked meals. It was last August since I started my IG food account, almost a year now. My friends encouraged me to set one up as they know how much I love to cook (because I have been cooking for them a lot! Lucky them!). So I said to myself, why not give it a try!

When I was a kid, my lola (grandmother) and mother, both true blooded Kapampangans (Kapampangans by the way are known to be one of the best Filipino cooks) would ask me to help out in the kitchen by washing utensils and chopping ingredients. At that time, I felt it was more of a chore. Later on in high school, I find myself enjoying my “me” time in our little kitchen, experimenting and trying out recipes (I’m having goosebumps right now as I remember my aunt’s handwritten recipe book). I guess that’s when my love for cooking started.

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Through IG, I have met people who share the same passion in cooking and food in general. They have inspired me to become a better cook. Most of them are generous enough in sharing their recipes! Allison is one of the warmest people whom I’ve met virtually in IG. I wish to meet her in person someday! She would post the ingredients and let us guess what she would be cooking next. Often times, she would feature a particular ingredient and highlight how it can be used in a certain dish. I am very happy to be part of her “Auguest” series!

This month, her blog would be featuring fruits. I chose to feature green papaya since it’s very accessible in tropical countries like the Philippines.

Back home in the province, we would just pick this fruit from our farm anytime we needed one for cooking. Here in Manila, everything comes with a price, unless you have a tree in your backyard or a generous neighbor has one. Here’s a photo of our papaya tree:

Papaya Tree

I have travelled around Asia and whenever I visit a country, I make it a point to enrol myself on short cooking courses to learn more about the local cuisine. I love the diversity in Asian cuisine; the way various spices and herbs come together to create a glorious dish!

Green Papaya Salad is a well known Asian salad dish. It’s a spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya. In fact, it is present in most Southeast Asian cuisines. In Thailand, this dish is called Som Tam, in Cambodia, Bok L’hong, in Laos as Tam Som and in Vietnam as Gỏi đu đủ.

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

For the green papaya salad

  • 200g green papaya, shredded
  • 40g carrots, shredded
  • 6 string beans, cut into 2 inches long
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-3 red bird’s eye chilis, chopped
  • 1-2 stalks of Coriander leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 6 tbsp roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
  • 3 pcs Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs*

For the dressing

  • 7 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 7 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 5-7 tbsp coconut sugar

*To cook the soft-shell crabs, dredge them in seasoned flour with salt, then dipped in beaten egg, and lastly coated with flour. Deep fry in cooking oil until golden in color and crispy.

METHOD

  1. First, add the chilis, garlic cloves, and string beans together in a mortar. Lightly crush/pound.
  2. Add in coconut sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and mix well, adjusting the flavors as you work, to your liking.
  3. Lastly, add in shredded papaya and carrots. Mix well.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish, and top with roasted peanuts and crispy fried soft-shell crabs. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve.

Below is a photo of the tool I used for shredding the papaya and carrots. Easy to use. I got it from one of my market tours in Vietnam and it only costs Php 100!

Vegetable/Fruit Shredder

Here’s the finished product!

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft-shell Crabs

Enjoy this healthy salad dish! Oh, you can top it with shrimp if you can’t find soft-shell crabs!

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | May (my_kusina_ph)

BON APPÉTIT

– May (my_kusina_ph)

myTaste.com

Auguest 2019: Ferreli Virtudazo

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

I’m Ferreli, the woman behind @acupofjasminerice. I started my account in 2016 as a form of creative outlet. I needed to do something different besides my corporate job. I can’t remember if I came up with that handle because acupofjasminetea was already taken or I was in a phase where I ate ONLY jasmine rice. Haha! For others I only post pictures of food; for me it’s a form of self-expression. It’s also putting myself out there as I reveal bits and pieces of me in the captions and engage with people who comment on my posts.

I started my love for cooking when I was very little. I could think back to the time I made pancakes with my grandmother and fried shrimp crackers with my mom. Those were my early memories of cooking. I think I was 5 years old then! As a child, it was all play. Now that I’m an adult, my perspective of cooking has evolved and so has my palate. These days, most of my posts are inspired by food trends. I take delight in recreating dishes I’ve seen on Youtube and Instagram.

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

I don’t recall who followed who but I remember that my initial interactions with Allison was with her “guess the next dish” on Instagram. I soooo take pride on my correct answers. Lol! I also couldn’t help but be amazed if I guessed it wrong. I’d go “Wow! I didn’t think of that!” I also like that she follows themes because being organized is important to me. I recently tried to be consistent with my themes as well.

I’m excited and honored to be one of her Au-guests. Her theme this month is about fruits and it’s something I can incorporate with food trends. I chose jackfruit or langka because it is gaining popularity stateside. Instead of making a local dish (I can only think of Ginataang Langka. Hehe.), I decided to go for Vegetarian Pulled Pork because it’s something new for me. I’ve found recipes as old as 3 years but I only got to see it on IG about a month ago or so. I’m calling it vegetarian instead of vegan because I’m not sure if the ingredients of the barbecue sauce are all plant-based.

I hope you enjoy making AND eating this dish as much as did. It’s easy to make and it’s something you can add to your #meatlessmonday entry 😉

Recipe adapted from:

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack (approx. 350g) pre-sliced young jackfruit
  • 4 small red onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (or any cooking oil is fine)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar

*If you want to make a vegan version of this dish, you may source for plant-based barbecue sauce as a substitution.

METHOD

  1. Chop the young jackfruit to smaller pieces so the core gets broken down and the “flesh” appears to have the pulled pork texture.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan and sauté the onions and garlic until slightly softened.
  3. Add in the jackfruit, spices, and brown sugar. Mix well.
  4. Add in water and simmer for 30 minutes until the jackfruit is tender and the liquid has almost been absorbed.
  5. Mash the jackfruit with a masher (I don’t have any so I used a wooden spoon. Lol!) until you achieve your desired pulled pork texture and the liquid has fully evaporated.
  6. Coat the jackfruit in barbecue sauce and toss well.
  7. Let sit for 3-5 minutes to brown the jackfruit and to give it a charred appearance.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork” Sliders

After a number of taste tests, my coworkers have said it really tasted like pork. At the same time, they could tell that the last batch I made (pictured) didn’t have the pulled pork feel because I didn’t shred it enough. So, chopping the core and mashing it thoroughly is really important if you want to really go for the pulled pork “look and feel”.

In addition, I agree with several blogs that I’ve read that the barbecue sauce can make or break this dish. I recommend the smoky flavor kind. Some blogs would also suggest pairing it with coleslaw. I’m not into mayo though… My coworkers and I enjoyed eating it plain with pickled jalapeños or kimchi on the side. We also had fun having it as pulled pork sliders. We just packed it and the pickled veggies in a tiny dinner roll and gobbled it up in one bite. Haha!

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork” Sliders

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Ferreli Virtudazo

BON APPÉTIT

– Ferreli Virtudazo

myTaste.com

Avocado & Shiitake Rice Paper Rolls

Avocado & Shiitake Rice Paper Rolls

Hello Everyone! I feel like keeping this short one tonight – only because I really don’t have much to say about the dish itself, nor do I have a back story like I did last week about it. Yet again, I have to say that this isn’t one of the prettiest dishes I’ve put up – to be honest, I didn’t really put much thought in how I could have presented this dish. I really had to up the saturation when editing the photographs because it just looked so dead in terms of colour, and of course, composition.

Avocado & Shiitake Rice Paper Rolls

Despite that, this is an easy to make and perfectly healthy snack if you only plan on eating 1 roll, a light dinner if eating 2, and a hefty lunch if you’re planning on eating 4 or more of these! Don’t be deceived like I was – I thought 3 rolls wasn’t going to fill me up for dinner – how wrong I was! I was already struggling towards the end of my second roll!

They’re perfect for a delectable spring or summer dish, with crispy, crunchy, creamy textures and bright, bold flavours. I mean, despite the rain we’ve been having lately, we’ve also seen some beautiful sunny days. Before we head on over to the recipe for tonight, please do check out the original recipe that I adapted from Kristina on Spabettie.

Avocado & Shiitake Rice Paper Rolls Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | MAKES 12 ROLLS

INGREDIENTS

For the rice paper rolls

  • Half pack (125g) cooked rice noodles, drizzled with sesame oil
  • 12 rice paper wrappers
  • 12 large dried shiitake mushroom slices, rehydrated
  • 1 large ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks and blanched
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • Bunch of spring onion, cut into matchsticks and blanched

For the spicy peanut sauce (Recipe adapted from Food in a Minute)

  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp chilli powder

METHOD

  1. Spicy Peanut Sauce: Heat a dash of cooking oil (about a tablespoon) in a small saucepan. On low heat, add the minced garlic and sauté until golden in colour and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then, add the minced onion to the pan and cook for a further 30 to 45 seconds, until slightly softened. Be careful as to not brown/burn the garlic.
  2. Add the peanut butter, roasted peanuts, chilli powder, and water to the pan and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Rice Paper Rolls: Have two large plates ready, one filled with water and the other for filling/rolling your rice paper rolls. Ensure all your ingredient fillings are also prepared and ready for rolling!
  4. Place a wrapper into the plate with water, flipping so that both sides of the wrapper is soaked. Remove from the water while still firm and place on the other plate and begin to build up your roll.

Tip: Do not over soak the rice paper sheet as it will soften as it sits. This is so that it will not soften to the point that it sticks to the surface of the plate or rips when handling.

Avocado & Shiitake Rice Paper Rolls

  1. Place 2-3 slices of avocado and red bell pepper matchsticks in the middle of the rice paper, with 1-2 slices of shiitake mushroom (depending on its size), and a handful of sesame rice noodles. Top with a tablespoon of the spicy peanut sauce, pinch of crushed roasted peanuts, and a spring onion matchstick.
  2. Roll like a burrito by folding the short sides over, then turning and folding one long side over. Roll, tuck, roll, tuck, until completely enclosed. Repeat for the remaining rice paper sheets – should make at least 12 rolls.
  3. Serve immediately with a side of spicy peanut sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

Avocado & Shiitake Rice Paper Rolls

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Fudgy Avocado-Chilli Brownies

Fudgy Avocado-Chilli Brownies

Hello Everyone! Firstly, apologies for not getting this post up last week as originally planned. It has been a crazy hectic week with early days and late nights in the office – even working the weekends ‘til late to meet deadlines for an event that our department/team organised on this day just last week. So because of that, I barely had any time to sit down and comfortably write this post with a stress-free state of mind. Having said that, here I am, back on track again to share a deliciously (healthy?) dessert that’s sure to knock your socks off!

The first time I experienced a Chilli-Chocolate flavour combination was when I was still studying in Sydney for my Bachelor’s of Design Degree. I remember I was at Circular Quay with a friend, and one of the gelato stalls there (can’t remember the name) was having a chocolate gelato fest! I clearly remember the difficulty I had in choosing a chocolate flavour out of the possible 10 or 15 they had available. For those of you who don’t know me, I like my chocolate like how I like my men – dark. Just kidding – I just wanted to say that. I have no particular preferences on skin colour or race when it comes to men. Tangent aside; I’m just not very fond of milk or white chocolate unless I really REALLY crave for it. Well technically I’m not very fond of chocolate altogether unless I really want something chocolatey for dessert.

Fudgy Avocado-Chilli Brownies

Finally getting back to the original story, I remember having doubts on choosing just a regular Dark Chocolate Gelato, or one called Death by Chocolate which was essentially the Dark Chocolate Gelato, but with chilli in it. Me being adventurous to a certain extent (hey we all gotta draw a line somewhere!), I decided to go for the Death by Chocolate since never had I ever, up until that moment of course, tried the pairing of chilli and chocolate before. Boom. My life changed. It was a magical moment. The subtle yet just enough kick of heat that played on my tongue together with the cold creamy gelato that was slightly sweet and slightly bitter at the same time was to die for. It truly did live up to its name – Death by Chocolate. Ever since then, Chilli and Chocolate became my new best friends.

So what about Chocolate and Avocado? How did they also become my new best friends? Well, a couple of years back, when I was still studying abroad, I was out having a weekend (or maybe it was a weekday during the winter holidays) brunch with some of the people/friends I lived with. We went to a place known as Rustic Pearl in Surry Hills. When we were ordering our drinks to start off with, I was super curious about their Chocomolé Smoothie – Chocolate and Guacamole I presumed from its name after reading “with avocado and cocoa.” As usual, I was being my adventurous self and decided to try this foreign-to-me flavour pairing of Avocado and Chocolate. Did it change my life? Why yes. Yes it did. I still can’t quite describe the sensation nor taste of the pairing, but I absolutely love it.

Fudgy Avocado-Chilli Brownies

Therefore, Avocado, Dark Chocolate, and Chilli? Explosive. Every time I want to be adventurous and try something new when it came to gelato flavours, I always say to myself, “no, you need Avocado and Dark Chocolate-Chilli Gelato.” I had been craving brownies for the longest time ever, and this was the perfect opportunity to whip them up and feature them on the blog since it fit with the theme I made it fit with the theme by incorporating avocados into them. These brownies are dense, thick, fudgy, and rich. The frosting though compliments the richness perfectly since it is light in flavour. Yes the frosting tastes like avocado, and no, the brownies do not even if they have avocado mixed into them.

Anyway, apologies for the super long introduction – hope it made up for not posting last week *cheeky grin* but before we pop on over to the recipe below, please do check out the original recipe by Jessica over on How Sweet Eats.

Fudgy Avocado-Chilli Brownies Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | MAKES 12 BROWNIES

INGREDIENTS

For the brownie batter

  • 2 large ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and mashed
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1-2 red bird’s eye chillies, minced
  • 200g high-quality dark chocolate, melted
  • 50g high-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose/plain flour
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For to avocado frosting

  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and mashed
  • 2 & 1/2 cups confectioiner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4), and generously grease a 9in x 13in baking dish with unsalted butter or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Fudgy Brownies: Whisk the mashed avocados, melted chocolate, and minced chillies in a large mixing bowl before adding in the white granulated sugar. Whisk again until well combined. Add in the eggs, together with the vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. Sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the avocado-chocolate mixture. Mix with a large spoon until JUST combined – be careful as to not overmix the batter.
  4. Stir in the extra virgin olive oil until it is well distributed into the batter and is somewhat smooth in consistency. Gently fold in the chopped chocolate, and then spread onto the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until the middle has set. You can check this by inserting a toothpick into the centre. If it comes out clean, then the brownies are done. Remove from the oven and set aside for it to completely cool down.
  6. Avocado Frosting: Add the mashed avocado and vanilla extract into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. Slowly incorporate the confectioner’s sugar into the avocado mixture and whisk until a smooth frosting forms.
  7. Frost the brownies once they have cooled down and top with extra chopped chocolate bits and chilli slices for an added extra kick of heat. Serve and enjoy immediately!

Fudgy Avocado-Chilli Brownies

Tip: If you’re going to pop them in the fridge to eat the next day, and the succeeding days to come, I recommend letting them come back up to room temperature before eating them. They can be even denser and slightly dry after coming out of the fridge.

Fudgy Avocado-Chilli Brownies

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Hello Everyone! So once again, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather since towards the end of last week. I think it’s because I got rained (drizzled) on and just been feeling cold ever since. Started with an itchy throat, then a runny nose. I had a mild fever just two days ago but thank goodness I’m starting to feel a little better! Apologies in advance if this post contains a lot of typos or obvious grammatical errors – my brain is not fully functional at the moment.

But that aside, a new month can only mean one thing right? It’s time to experiment and play around with a new fruit on the blog! For the month of July, I’ll be featuring one of my favourite (well to be honest, almost everything is a favourite of mine *cheeky grin*) fruits of all time – Avocado! The last time I featured a month of avocado recipes was back in 2017 if not mistaken. You can click here to see what I got up to with avocados back then.

Avocados can be such an unpredictable b*tch at times – you can never win with them! If I knew I was going to cook/use the avocados on the same day I bought them, I would ask the lady who sells them if the ones I’ve picked are ripe and ready for that day. I still pick those that are slightly firm when gently squeezed. I never ever pick the soft ones! If I knew I was going to only use them the next day, she’d pick the ones that are a little less ripe for me – those that are still green, slightly browned. Here are some tips from Love One Today on how to check for the ripeness of avocados.

How to Differentiate the Ripeness of an Avocado

Besides being super unpredictable, avocados are known for several proven health benefits:

Avocados are Incredibly Nutritious

They contain a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals. Here is a list of some of the most abundant nutrients found in a single 100-gram serving:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value
  • Folate: 20% of the daily value
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the daily value
  • Potassium: 14% of the daily value
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the daily value
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the daily value
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the daily value
  • Avocados also contain small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B3 (niacin).
  • Although avocados contain carbs, 78% of those are fibre. So basically only 22% are actually carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food.
  • Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fat.

Fat Content in Avocados may help you Absorb Nutrients from Plant Foods

When it comes to nutrients, your intake is not the only thing that matters. What’s also important is that you need to be able to absorb these nutrients into your body, where they can be used. Some nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilised.

So, not only are avocados highly nutritious, they can dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you eat. This is all the more a very good reason to always include a healthy fat source, such as the avocado (or avocado oil), when you eat your veggies. Without it, a lot of the beneficial plant nutrients will go to waste.

Avocados are Loaded with Powerful Antioxidants that can Protect your Eyes

Not only do avocados increase antioxidant absorption from other foods, they are also high in antioxidants themselves, two of which, namely carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, as incredibly important for our long term eye health.

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Eating Avocados may help you Lose Weight

Avocados are weight-loss friendly. They keep you full longer and may help you naturally eat fewer calories, making it easier for you to stick to healthy eating habits. As stated before, avocados are also high in fibre and very low in carbs, two attributes that should help promote healthy weight loss – if considering the context of a healthy, real-food-based diet.

And lastly for the #avocadohaters *cheeky grin*

Avocados are Delicious and Easy to Incorporate into your Diet!

Not only are they beneficial to our health, they’re also super delicious and go with many types of food. They have a creamy, rich, and fatty texture. You can easily add them to salads or pasta, spread them on toast, use as a dip for chips, or simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain!

If you want to read up more on the many health benefits that avocados have to offer, you can head on over to Healthline.

But before you head on over to the recipe below, please check out the original recipe for Shrimp & Avocado Pasta by Kevin & Amanda.

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the avocado and Parmesan ‘sauce’

  • 1 medium-sized ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the spicy garlic prawns

  • 250g large tiger prawns, heads removed, deshelled, and deveined*
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground chilli, or more if you want it spicier
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 250g fettuccine pasta, uncooked**
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small ripe avocado, diced
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

*A quarter kilo gave us 4 large tiger prawns, plus 1 extra because the lady who sells them was nice enough to add one in when my Mom asked for it *cheeky grin*. Save the heads and shells to use as a base for soups, broths, or sauces. If not using immediately, place in a zip-lock bag and pop it into the freezer. Keeps frozen for up to 3 months.

**Or you can use any type of pasta – whatever you have readily available in your pantry!

METHOD

  1. Avocado ‘Sauce’: Cut the medium-sized avocado in half, lengthwise. Remove the pit and discard – or if you have a green thumb, you’ll know what to do with it. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from both halves of the avocado from its skin, and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil. Smash and mix together until well combined. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with a teaspoon of sea salt to a boil. Add the fettuccine pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.

Tip: In cases like these, I like to undercook my pasta by 2 to 3 minutes. The reason being is that I will then add the cooked pasta to the frying pan of garlic prawns, which will continue to cook the pasta. If I had pushed it to the max when boiling, I’ll end up with super soft pasta.

  1. Spicy Garlic Prawns: While the pasta is cooking away, add the butter and olive oil to a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until golden brown and fragrant.
  2. Add the prawns and cook until they turn pink, about 2 minutes per side, then add the chopped scallions and ground chilli. Mix to combine.
  3. Quickly add the pasta from the pot of boiling water, to the garlic prawns, followed by the avocado sauce. Give it a good mix and then throw in the sliced sun-dried tomatoes.
  4. Turn the heat off and let it cook for a further minute before plating up.
  5. Sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top and garnish with the diced avocados. Serve hot and enjoy!

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

Tip: The nutrients in avocado can oxidise and turn brown soon after cutting into it and exposing its flesh. The trick to slowing down the oxidation process and preventing them from browning quickly is to add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Now, this may not be one of the prettiest dishes I’ve plated up for the year – I don’t know, I just don’t like how the colour of the diced avocados blended in with the colour of the pasta. The green didn’t quite pop out as much as I would’ve liked it to. Besides the prawns, everything else looked a bit monotonous in my opinion. Nonetheless, despite its look, it was a great tasting dish! I mean, you honestly can’t go wrong with the classic taste of garlicky and lemony prawns can you? What more when it’s paired with pasta and a creamy avocado and parmesan sauce? And that added kick of spice? BOOM!

Spicy Garlic Prawn & Avocado Fettuccine

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Amcarmen's Kitchen: Auguest Rundown

Amcarmen’s Kitchen: Auguest Rundown

Hello Everyone! I just thought that I’d give an update regarding my Auguest series on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. The last I gave and introduction on this was back in 2015 and realised that the mechanics that I mentioned in that post is totally different on how I have been approaching Auguest for the past years – well actually to be honest, it was already different since I started the series. In theory, it was just too much of a hassle to execute it the way I had envisioned it before.

Before I begin, let’s start off with a nutshell summary of what Auguest is really all about – other than the obvious spelling mistake. For starters, it’s not a spelling mistake. The funny thing is that since I started this ‘Auguest’ series, I’ve completely forgotten how to spell August the correct way. Every time I have to write or type August, my mind automatically inclines me to spell is as Auguest. So why Auguest? Basically, guest bloggers and/or foodies will be taking over Amcarmen’s Kitchen for the month of August – Au-guest – get it?

Polvorón Pops (Popvoróns)™Polvorón Pops (Popvoróns) by Jialing Mew, ‘Back to your Roots’ Auguest 2015.

So why was its original execution a hassle? One of the main factors was that I was reaching out to friends/fellow foodies from around the world, thus making it almost impossible to meet up and actually cook/collaborate with each other to make the series work. With that being said, those that I was able to meet up with, I met up with, cooked up a storm, and made great memories with them over food.

Presently, and in the previous years leading up to this year, it has been more of a one way thing – meaning, I gather my foodie friends to submit their recipes based on the theme for the year, but I don’t write recipes for them. The reason? 90% of my friends or the foodies that I approach are not necessarily bloggers, so there isn’t a platform for them to share my recipes. Having said this though, I still strive to continue my Auguest series to give my foodie friends a platform to share their take on the theme I set out at the beginning of the year, as well as to be able to share with everyone some new ideas and techniques that they may have. We all come from different parts of the world, so it’s good to see what can be made out of ingredients that we may not be familiar with! And that’s basically it.

Quinoa Black Bean TacosQuinoa Black Bean Tacos by Diandra Cappelut, ‘Yes Ve Gan!’ Auguest 2016.

Here are some frequently asked questions that have popped up over the years, and I’ll be sharing the answers with you (for those I have approached and/or for those who are interested on hopping onboard, for this year and the succeeding years to come) in case you have these questions floating on your mind as well:

FAQ #1: Do I need to have a (food) blog to be able to participate?

No you don’t! As I have mentioned in this particular post, many of the Auguesters that have been featured on Amcarmen’s Kitchen in the past do not have blogs. Though to qualify, you must at least have a passion for cooking and/or food. Creativity is also aimable.

FAQ #2: Are there any restrictions as to what I can cook?

There are no particular restrictions, as long as you stick to the theme for the year! You can cook up a savoury or sweet storm, for any meal of the day. The only time where restrictions may be applicable is if the theme itself is restrictive, i.e. for Yes Ve Gan! back in 2016, of course you won’t be able to cook with animals and their by-products, but other than that, you can let your creativity run wild! Also, try to avoid dishes that I’ve already covered on my blog, unless you’re going to do your own take on it.

FAQ #3: How many recipes will I need to submit?

Ideally, you will only need to submit ONE (1) recipe. However there are times where I may need you to submit two (2) just because of the number of participating Auguesters being less than what would allow me to feature at least two (2) recipes a week for Auguest. Don’t worry! If I need you to submit two recipes, I will inform you in advance to give you ample time to get your creative juices flowing and submit your recipes on time.

Blueberry Cheesecake Tarts (Gluten Free)Blueberry Cheesecake Tarts (Gluten Free) by Simon Swaddling, ‘Blood Pressure Friendly’ Auguest 2017.

FAQ #4: How will I know when my recipe will be posted?

A month before August creeps up on us, I’ll inform you of when I have scheduled your recipe to be uploaded on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. You may also request when you’d prefer your recipe to be uploaded, provided that no one else has already claimed that specific date (the very last day is always reserved/taken by my very best friend). Just make sure to inform me ahead of time. Also note that during this time, my upload schedules will only be every Wednesday & Sunday.

FAQ #5: When do I need to submit my recipe?

You may send it in as soon as you are done – this can be a month before, or at the very least, a week before your recipe is due to be posted. Of course, the earlier the better! This is to give me time to proofread your write up and edit your photographs.

FAQ #6: How many photographs of the final dish do I need to submit?

There is no limit to how many photographs you will need to submit, however I may filter through them and possibly choose a maximum of five (5) to post. Consider sending in your best ones! Also please take note on the file size of your photographs – nothing less than 2MB or pixel width of 1000. Make sure your photographs are well lit and not blurry. You don’t have to do a methodical step-by-step photo guide, just a photo of the ingredients used to make your dish and different angles/orientations of the final outcome. You may also do a before/after shot if applicable.

Salmon Fish Cakes with Oven-baked EggsSalmon Fish Cakes with Oven-baked Eggs by Shazrinah Shazali, ‘Sweet & Savoury Breakfast’ Auguest 2018.

Of course if you have any other lingering questions on your mind, please do not hesitate to drop me an email at amcarmenskitchen@gmail.com and I’ll be more than glad to answer them for you!

Here’s a guideline of things you will need to include in your write up (besides the recipe of course):

  • Introduction to yourself (this may include a brief insight into your personal life, and most importantly, how you got into cooking and food)
  • How you know me (if this is your first time to guest on Amcarmen’s Kitchen)
  • Introduction to your featured dish (this may include information on your selected hero ingredient, the history of the recipe if applicable, etc.)
  • Indicate prep time, cook time, and number of servings
  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • Conclusion

And here’s a list of things you will need to submit altogether:

  • Blog post write up
  • Photographs of your dishes (at least one of the photographs must be in portrait orientation for the purpose of IG stories)
  • A picture of yourself
  • Your full name (first and last will suffice)
  • Your blog website or IG handle

Sò Lông Nướng Mỡ Hành (Grilled Mussels with Buttered Green Onions)Sò Lông Nướng Mỡ Hành (Grilled Mussels with Buttered Green Onions) by Marissa Mai, ‘Back to your Roots’ Auguest 2015.

Feel free to also share on your blogs and/or social media pages when your recipe has gone live. Please also remind me to send you a bit.ly link to your post for sharing purposes.

So before I end, I realised I’ve said creativity a number of times in the FAQ. Here are a few things to note on what I mean by ‘creativity’:

  • In terms of the recipe itself, don’t just straight up copy someone else’s. If you’re tackling a classic, then go beyond it by adding your own twist to it!
  • In terms of execution, challenge yourself! Work with ingredients that you’ve never worked with before. Be experimentive and create unlikely food pairings or fusions of cuisines!
  • In terms of plating, don’t just plop it all on the first plate you see. Of course I don’t expect you to be a plating genius, but do consider the type of plate you need to use, the colour, size, etc. that will best represent your dish. Also consider how each element will look like on the plate!

Raw Nutty Orange & Blueberry Vegan 'Cheesecake'Raw Nutty Orange & Blueberry Vegan ‘Cheesecake’ by Wong Miao Hui, ‘Yes Ve Gan!’ Auguest 2016.

I hope this guide to my Auguest series has been helpful, especially to those who are new to it and to those who want to hop onboard! I’m excited to see what’s in store for the upcoming Auguest series!

Cheers!

– Ally xx

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

Hello Everyone! So somewhere around November time last year, I shared a recipe for a classic breakfast (or merienda) staple here in the Philippines – none other than the famous tahhoooooo that you hear from yodelling street vendors. I shared a recipe for homemade taho back then, and tonight I’m going to share a recipe for using store-bought silken tofu. Upon doing research, this approach was adapted by our kababayans living or residing overseas, who truly miss having street taho readily available at their doorstep.

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

The very basic and classic version would be warm bland silken tofu that is sweetened with a caramelised brown sugar syrup known as arnibal, and is topped with tiny sago (tapioca) pearls. Nowadays you can find other variants such as Strawberry Taho or even Ube Taho, commonly found in the province of Benguet, more specifically in and around Baguio. Instead of a brown sugar syrup, a strawberry or ube syrup is made to sweeten the bland silken tofu.

Taking that into mind, I had this light bulb moment: what if I made a dragon fruit version of the arnibal? That had been my original for many months, and it was only lately that I decided to pair it with lychees since the two together had a great flavour profile for when I tackled a recipe for Dragon & Lychee Pork just last week.

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS | SERVES 2-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack (500g) soft silken tofu, roughly cut

For the dragon fruit and lychee arnibal

  • 1 & 1/2 cups water
  • 1 medium-sized dragon fruit (about 600g), peeled and roughly chopped*
  • 1 can (255g) lychees in syrup, drained*
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lychee syrup

For the tapioca pearls

  • 4-8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup large tapioca pearls, uncooked

*Reserve some of the fruits to garnish before serving

METHOD

  1. Tapioca Pearls: In a medium-sized pot, bring about 2 cups of water to a rapid boil before adding the tapioca pearls in. Leave to cook for about 15-20 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the pearls that you use.
  2. Strain the tapioca pearls and add another 2 cups of clean water back into the pot. Bring to a rapid boil before adding the tapioca pearls back to the pot. Cook for a further hour until they become completely translucent ensuring that there are no white spots at the core. Add more water when needed to keep the pearls submerged in water as it evaporates.

I know I have said this before in a previous post, but I’ll say it again for those just tuning in:

Tip: For better results, leave the pearls in the cooking pot until it reaches back to room temperature. One hour of boiling will completely cook the pearls, but the core will still be slightly opaque. Leaving the pearls in the cooking pot for several hours (with the heat turned off) gives them a chance to absorb more water. Which makes the core translucent overtime.

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

  1. Once the core is no longer opaque, strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Dragon Fruit & Lychee Arnibal: Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients (except for the lychee syrup) for the arnibal in a small pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally and simmer until it thickens into a syrup and until the fruits are soft enough to mash, about 15 minutes.
  3. Once done, strain the syrup into a bowl to rid of any chunks of fruits. Stir in the lychee syrup and then set aside to cool down.
  4. Assemble: Layer each element into a tall glass; taho, syrup, dragon fruit, lychee, and repeat. Of course you can do it in any order you wish. Serve chilled and enjoy! Makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller servings.

The result was absolutely amazing! The sweetness from the dragon fruit and lychee was subtle, but that’s only because I didn’t go overboard on sweetening the syrup, for health reasons. It was just enough to cater to my tolerance of sweet. Of course, feel free to add more sugar in the recipe to your level of liking. Just think, whenever I buy bubble milk tea, I always ask for 0% sugar, or if I’m feeling naughty, then slight sugar only!

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Dragon & Lychee Pork

Dragon & Lychee Pork

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

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

Dragon & Lychee Pork

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

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

Dragon & Lychee Pork Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the pork marinade

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

For the sauce

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

To garnish

  • Chopped scallions
  • Sesame seeds

To serve with

  • Garlic fried rice
  • Blanched okra

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

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

Dragon & Lychee Pork

METHOD

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

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

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

Dragon & Lychee Pork

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

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

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

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

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

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

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

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

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

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

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

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the cheesecake mixture

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

For the crumb base

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

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

METHOD

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

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

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

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

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

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

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

Mini Baked Dragon Fruit Cheesecake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com</p