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

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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

Som Tam Mamuang (ส้มตำมะม่วง) Green Mango Salad

Som Tam Mamuang (ส้มตำมะม่วง) Green Mango Salad

Hello Everyone and welcome to an all new theme on Amcarmen’s Kitchen for the month of February! Well okay, it’s not exactly a new theme, but more like we get to play around with a new fruit for this month! In my very first post for the year I mentioned that it’s going to be a FRUITFUL year on the blog. Last month we went nuts for Coconuts and now we’re moving onto Mangoes!

From what I know, mango season here in the Philippines isn’t until March but you can already spot an abundance of mangoes at the markets for a reasonable price (well they are cheaper than a couple of months ago when they weren’t in season), and since they’re here early, I’ve been non-stop playing around with them for the dishes that I will be sharing with you guys over the next couple of weeks.

Also, just to note, I’m going to stray away from Filipino food for a while since I’ve been sharing dishes from that cuisine for the past 4 months on the blog ever since I’ve been back here. It’s not that I have anything against it (quite the opposite actually), it’s just that I want to continue exploring and enhancing my skills and techniques in other cuisines. Amcarmen’s Kitchen is afterall, A Third Culture Foodie.

Som Tam Mamuang (ส้มตำมะม่วง) Green Mango Salad Process

Thai food is one of the many favourite cuisines that I enjoy. It is also a cuisine that I’m constantly craving for from time to time, whether it’s heading to my favourite Thai restaurant or cooking up a Thai storm in the kitchen. I think my tolerance for spice was developed from this cuisine, though I am definitely not at their level of tolerance. Every time I order a Thai dish, I keep forgetting to tell the waiter to make it “less spicy” or to only add 1 chilli. I then end up tearing up, sniffling endlessly and needing to extinguish my mouth, followed by fiery trips to the bathroom after. I remember when I used to have Som Tam everyday for lunch from a food stall during events that I worked and forgot to tell the lady to make it less spicy – she ended up adding 10-15 pieces of chillies into the dish. The following day, I asked her to make it less spicy, but for them less spicy was still about 5-6 chillies in. I ended up having to tell her to only add 1 chilli the day after that and she looked at me weirdly.

Even though there are many recipes online that you can follow, I’ve had the opportunity to be taught by my Thai Aunt, and also learnt a few dishes from Chef Sujet Saenkham of Spice I Am, Australia, who I met last year in Brunei during an event I worked for the Thailand Grand Fair. Tonight’s dish is one I learnt from him, but I’ve replaced the green papaya for green mango instead. Note that, it’s not so much about how green the mango is – as long as it’s sour!

Som Tam Mamuang (ส้มตำมะม่วง) Green Mango Salad Ingredients

PREP TIME 15-20 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 green mangoes, peeled and julienned
  • 3 pcs long green beans, cut into 1-inch long stalks
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chillies, seeds in and roughly chopped (more if you want a spicier kick to your palette)
  • 2 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried salted shrimp
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • Spring Onions, to garnish

METHOD

  1. Lightly crush the garlic and chillies large and deep mortar and pestle.
  2. Add the dried salted shrimp together with the long green beans. Pound a few times to slightly bruise the beans. Add in the roasted peanuts and lightly crush.
  3. Next, add in the fish sauce, lime/lemon juice, and palm sugar. Lightly grind until the sugar has dissolved into the mixture.

Tip: At this point, taste the mixture to see if the balance of flavours is to your liking. Add more fish sauce if it needs more salt, or add more lime juice if it needs more acidity. Add more palm sugar if the other flavours are too overpowering. Want more spice? Crush more chillies!

  1. Add in the chopped tomatoes and lightly crush to bruise them a bit, followed by the julienned green mango and softly pound. Use a spoon to mix all the ingredients around while pounding. Be careful as to not over pound, grind, or crush the ingredients.
  2. Garnish with a spring onion and serve as a main or side dish. Enjoy!

Som Tam Mamuang (ส้มตำมะม่วง) Green Mango Salad

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spicy Chipotle Adobo Ribs sa Gata

Spicy Chipotle Adobo Ribs sa Gata

Hello Everyone! Okay I lied… Well not exactly. You see, last week I said that that would be my last Coconut post for the month. Technically it is since it’s already February, but I do have one more Coconut post to share *cheeky grin* The recipe that I’m going to share with you guys tonight was actually not planned at all. I didn’t want this to end up in my already growing archive of recipes that I never get around to posting because it doesn’t fit with the current theme that I have going. Lucky for me tonight’s dish still fits! Let’s just say that this is a special Chinese New Year post to welcome in the Year of the Pig!

I saw a post on Instagram a while back, towards the beginning of the year I believe, of a new dish that Max’s Restaurant put out which is their Adobo Ribs. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but it made me want to try it out at home for myself, with my own twists of course – the twists being adding chipotle peppers for a spicy kick and stewing them in coconut milk as well – to fit with the theme of course *cheeky grin*

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata (Marination Process)

Adobo can mean marinade, sauce, or seasoning. It is a highly popular Filipino dish amongst locals and even foreigners. I remember when I was still studying in Australia, my taxi driver asked me where I was from. I told him that I was born in Brunei, but a Filipino by blood. To which he replied, “Oh I love the Philippines! And I love… What’s that dish called? Chicken Adobo!” Basically any non-Filipino that I’ve talked to throughout the years, Chicken Adobo and Sinigang are their favourite Filipino dishes.

Anyway, the cooking process of adobo is indigenous to the Philippines. Pre-colonial Filipinos often cooked or prepared their food with vinegar and salt to keep them fresh longer in the tropical climates of the country. To make adobo, you start off by marinating any variant of meat, seafood, or vegetables in vinegar, soy sauce, fresh garlic, black peppercorns, and dried bay leaves. It is then simmered in the marinade until the meat is tender. The dish is characteristically salty and sour in taste.

Now adding gata to the classic adobo makes the dish not only hearty, but also rich and creamy. Would you believe me if I said I’ve never had adobo sa gata before? I mean, I’ve had adobo countless of times growing up, but never with gata – until about a few weeks ago when we had lunch out after our Sunday morning mass. It felt like I had discovered a whole new world of adobo!

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg pork ribs
  • 5-6 dried bay leaves
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, sliced or minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • Red bird’s eye chilli, to garnish

METHOD

  1. In a large cooking pot, add the pork ribs together with the soy sauce, crushed garlic, whole black peppercorns, dried bay leaves, and chipotle peppers. Marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes. If you have time, marinate for an hour for the flavours to really infuse into the meat.
  2. Add the vinegar and water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about half an hour. Once done, turn the heat off and leave it aside, covered, for a further half an hour. The residual heat* from the cooking process will further cook and tenderise the meat.

*Residual heat, or residual cooking, or carry-over cooking, is when food continues to cook after it has been removed from a heat source. The heat held within the food itself raises its overall temperature before it starts to cool down.

  1. Meanwhile, heat about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan. Fry the garlic slices until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat back on again on low and bring it back to a slow simmer. Once simmering, add the coconut milk in. It is important to slowly bring it back up to a simmer to avoid curdling the coconut milk. This happens when it is heated too quickly. Cook for a further 15 minutes.
  3. Once done, turn the heat off and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with the fried garlic slices and chopped bird’s eye chillies. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and enjoy!

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata

And with that, I would like to wish all my Chinese Family, Friends, Followers, and all those who are celebrating, a Happy Chinese New Year! May the Year of the Earth Pig bring you happiness, prosperity, good health, peace and success! 恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that this is the last recipe for my Coconut series on the blog – time sure does fly by in the wink of an eye. I’ve enjoyed cooking up a coconut storm in the kitchen for the past month, though I’ve realised that all my recipes (expect for one) focused on using Coconut Milk instead of the actual fruit itself *whoops* Nevertheless, I still covered the brief for the month… Hopefully. I did say in my very first post of the year that I will be “cooking with fruits or their… Derivatives“.

For my last Coconut recipe of the month, I will be sharing with you the ultimate Filipino Comfort Food (well let’s face it, almost every Filipino dish is worthy of the ‘ultimate’ title), known as Bicol Express.

Now, I can get into the whole in-depth history of its origins and disputes, but I honestly have no mental power right now to paraphrase the information I’ve read up on. For those who are interested, here’s an article on Market Manila I stumbled upon while trying to figure out why this dish is named ‘Bicol Express’ – which by the way until now remains a mystery to me. Other than it being a catchy name, it’s name is also derived from an overnight passenger train service from Manila to the Bicol region; a region in the Philippines that is famous for their spicy cuisine.

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Bicol Express is a dish made from pork, bagoong (salted shrimp fry), coconut milk, and lots and lots of chillies that is of course adjustable to your tolerance of spice. Bicol Express is traditionally cooked by stewing the ingredients altogether while crisping up the pork first is just another creative way of enjoying the dish. I prefer it this way just because I love a nice crisp skin when it comes to pork. Roasting it rather than deep-frying it also makes me feel a little less guilty *cheeky grin* but unfortunately, truth be told that this dish is not exactly waist-friendly. Succulent pork belly cubes and a creamy coconut sauce does come with a price to pay!

Crispy Pork Bicol Express Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS* | COOKING TIME 50 MINS | SERVES 4

*Allow of 24 hours of resting time in the fridge for the pork belly after boiled.

INGREDIENTS

For the lechon kawali

  • 1 kg pork belly
  • 6 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Extra salt, for roasting

For the Bicol Express sauce

  • 2 cups coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup pork stock (from boiling the pork)
  • 5 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 3 long green chillies, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp bagoong alamang (salted shrimp fry)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Lechon Kawali: Score the pork belly skin with a very sharp knife. Place the meat in a large pot with water, 1 tsp of the whole peppercorns and half of the bay leaves. Boil for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain, placing in a large bowl and let to cool to room temperature.

Tip: Do not throw out the remaining pork stock. Reserve the pork stock to make other dishes or to use as a soup base. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

  1. Once the meat has cooled down, refrigerate uncovered for at least 24 hours for a better result. Refrigerating the meat will help to draw out any remaining moisture. Remove from the refrigerator and bring back to room temperature prior to roasting in the oven.
  2. Preheat oven between 220-240C (425-475F or gas mark 7-9). Rub oil and plenty of salt into the scored skin, really getting it into the slits of the score marks. The fat under the skin will react to the salt and that is what makes the skin puff up and crisp up.
  3. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes and then bring the temperature down to 160C (325F or gas mark 3) and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 20 minutes. Then cut the pork into chunks and plate.
  4. Bicol Express Sauce: While the pork is roasting in the oven, prepare the Bicol Express sauce by heating about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high in a medium-sized cooking pot. Sauté the minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then add in the onions. Cook until soft, a further minute or so.
  5. Add the salted shrimp fry and cook for about 3-4 minutes before adding the coconut milk and pork stock. Lower the heat down and bring to a slow boil. It is important to bring it back to a boil slowly to avoid curdling the coconut milk. This happens when it is heated too quickly.
  6. Season the sauce with ground black pepper and add in the sliced red and green chillies (reserve some for garnishing later). Continue to cook the sauce until it starts to thicken and reduce by half, about 10-15 minutes further on low heat.
  7. Once the sauce is done, pour over the plated crispy pork belly chunks and garnish with the fresh chillies.
  8. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and pair with some sautéed long beans in garlic (or any other favourite vegetable dish of yours) to balance out the richness of the Bicol Express. Enjoy!

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Before I end tonight’s post, I just want to say that next week I will be back with a new fruit to hero with my upcoming recipes to share so stay tuned for that!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Salmon Belly Paksiw sa Gata (Stewed in Vinegar & Coconut Milk)

Salmon Belly Paksiw sa Gata (Stewed in Vinegar & Coconut Milk)

Hello Everyone! I find it hard to believe that it’s already the middle of the month – oh how time flies by so quickly! I don’t have a long-winded tangent to go on about tonight so this post will most likely be shorter than the previous two.

Paksiw sa Gata is a Filipino cooking procedure that involves two cooking styles – Paksiw (stewed in vinegar), and Ginataan (stewed in coconut milk/cream). This cooking procedure is a quick and easy way of preparing a fish dish; a staple amongst Filipino families.

Salmon Belly Paksiw sa Gata (Stewed in Vinegar & Coconut Milk)

You can use other cuts of salmon such as the heads, tails, and the flesh itself. Likewise, you can also use other types of fish such as Threadfin Bream (Bisúgo) and this unnamed White/Silver Fish that my mom used to get from the markets in Brunei for her paksiw (without the gata) dishes that we grew up on. The only reason why it’s unnamed is because I don’t actually know the name of it *cheeky grin*

Besides the protein, it is also an easy dish to incorporate greens into. Bitter melon (ampalaya) leaves are most common, but not restricted to. I absolutely detest bitter melon and its leaves, and so I opted to use malunggay leaves for this dish. Other common/favourite alternatives include spinach, water spinach (kangkong), and chilli leaves.

Salmon Belly Paksiw sa Gata (Stewed in Vinegar & Coconut Milk) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg salmon belly, washed, scaled and, cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup spicy vinegar*
  • 3 long green chillies
  • 3 red bird’s eye chillies**
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch malunggay leaves
  • Thumb-sized ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Salt, to taste

*Or you can always use normal white vinegar if you don’t sit well with spice

**Optional – only if you want your paksiw sa gata to have a spicy kick to it or not

METHOD

  1. Add the ginger, garlic, onions, chillies, black peppercorns, vinegar, and water into a medium-sized cooking pot. Heat over medium-high and bring to a brisk boil. Continue boiling for about 10 minutes to allow the vinegar to cook and for the aromatics to infuse into the liquid.
  2. Turn the heat down to low, and slowly stir in the coconut milk in and season with a touch of salt. Bring to a slow boil. It is important to bring it back to a boil slowly to avoid curdling the coconut milk. This happens when it is heated too quickly.
  3. Add in the salmon belly chunks and allow to cook for a further 5-7 minutes before adding the malunggay leaves in. Turn the heat off and cover for about 30-60 seconds to allow the malunngay leaves to wilt.
  4. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy with steamed jasmine rice. Paksiw and Ginataan dishes are always best eaten with rice!

Salmon Belly Paksiw sa Gata (Stewed in Vinegar & Coconut Milk)

This only just came into mind as I was finishing this post off. I thought back to popular (highly viewed) dish that I made a while back that also uses Salmon Belly (Pan-fried Salmon Bellies).

The next time I make this dish, I’m going to pan-fry my salmon bellies to get it nice and crisp. Then, cook the vinegar and coconut milk sauce separately and just pour it over the pan-fried bellies. There’s nothing I love more than a mouthful of crispy yet melt-in-the-mouth belly fat!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Fried Chicken with Salted Egg Sauce 'Eggs Benedict'

Fried Chicken with Salted Egg Sauce ‘Eggs Benedict’

Hello Everyone! I hope everyone has had a good week, and yes I am aware it is only a Sunday night, but I want to be able to share with you guys all the delicious dishes that I’ve whipped up in for the month of May. I do plan out all my recipes so that I know whether to cook 4 or 5 dishes depending how many Wednesdays there are in a month. Because I missed a post last month which is why everything got pushed forward by a week. So I plan to wrap up Eggs Benny month by posting on an extra day so that you’ll get to see everything I prepared for you guys!

Fried Chicken with Salted Egg Sauce 'Eggs Benedict'

Tonight I’ll be tackling a classic combination of fried chicken and waffles with a hit of a Bruneian favourite twist to it. Over the recent year there has been a craze to add salted egg sauce to pretty much every dish possible – salted egg sauce carbonara, salted egg sauce fried chicken, salted egg sauce nasi lemak, salted egg sauce kolo mee, and the list goes on as imaginable! Oh, and let’s not forget those highly overrated and overpriced Salted Egg Potato Chips from Irvins! At the hype of its time, I caved into these overpriced potato chips because they were indeed, as marketed, dangerously addictive. Thank goodness I’ve fallen out of the craze of it all – or have I really? I’m sure when the craving kicks in, I’ll be in trouble *cheeky grin*

The recipe I’ll be sharing with you guys is not something new, in Brunei that is – I guess? Please do share in the comments below if you’ve seen this dish, or something similar, outside of Brunei. Basically, the waffles substitute the classic English muffin while a salted duck egg sauce is made instead of a traditional hollandaise sauce that makes an Eggs Benny. The sweetness of the Belgian waffles pair perfectly with a savoury spicy crispy fried chicken and salty egg sauce – definitely an explosion of taste and texture in your mouth, exciting your palette. Sweet. Spice. Salty. Boom!

Fried Chicken with Salted Egg Sauce 'Eggs Benedict' Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR* | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 3

*Includes the 1 hour marinating time for the chicken

INGREDIENTS

For the tom yum fried chicken

  • 3 pcs boneless whole leg chicken
  • 8 tbsp water
  • 6 tbsp cornflour
  • 6 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp homemade tom yum paste
  • Dash of ground black pepper

For the salted duck egg sauce

  • 3 salted duck egg yolks, steamed and smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves (dried leaves can be used as well if not available)
  • 3-4 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 can (350ml) evaporated milk
  • 6 belgian waffles**
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • Micro-herbs, to garnish

**You can either make your own waffles or buy them in the store – I opted for the latter just because I don’t have a waffle maker to be able to make them myself.

METHOD

  1. Tom Yum Fried Chicken: Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium-sided bowl and mix the chicken around until well coated. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave to marinate for at least an hour to let all the tom yum flavours infuse into the chicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C. Heat up oil in a large frying pan and shallow fry the chicken until skin is crispy and golden (about 5-6 minutes per side).
  3. Remove from the heat and place on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil. Place the wings in the oven for a further 8-10 minutes to finish off in the oven.
  4. Salted Duck Egg Sauce: While your chicken is on the go, sauté the egg yolks, curry leaves and half of bird’s eye chillies until fragrant. Reserve some of the fried curry leaves to garnish your dish later. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a boil until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Poached Eggs: Bring small saucepan of water to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low-medium – the water should be just simmering. Add in the vinegar and stir. Crack one egg into a small bowl and quickly, but gently pour it into the water. Repeat with the other egg. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes, but if you want it a bit more firm, it will take about 4 minutes. To check if they’re cooked right, carefully remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give the yolk a gentle push (you can tell just by your instincts if it is under or over – or perfect)!
  6. Assembly: Top the waffles with the tom yum fried chicken followed by the poached egg. Drizzle a generous amount of salted duck egg sauce and garnish with the remaining chopped chillies, fried curry leaves, and micro-herbs. Serve and enjoy!

Fried Chicken with Salted Egg Sauce 'Eggs Benedict'

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Hello Everyone! Firstly, I’d like to apologise to the moon and back to all my friends and followers for not posting in what seems like (or quite frankly has been) forever! A lot of things have been going on for the past few months, both in my personal and work life that I found it difficult to balance alongside with keeping up with Amcarmen’s Kitchen. The truth is, I haven’t had the time to write, or let’s just say that I did have the time, but I was either using my time unproductively or for something else instead of sitting down and getting back on track with posting. So yes, I am very sorry for the lack of consistency of posting on the blog in the recent months, but I’m planning on getting back on board with this for the remaining 3 months of 2017 (hopefully). It will however be a little scattered in a sense that you won’t see a set theme for the month just because I still have an archive of recipes that never got posted from the previous months.

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Back in July I started to hero beetroot in my cooking, and I shall continue that for the next two weeks (I think) before I share other recipes that still stick with the theme for 2017 which is Blood Pressure Friendly foods. Before I jump onto the recipe, I’d like to thank my friends Simon Swadling and Jialing Mew for contributing their recipes for this year’s Auguest – and yes, another thing that I did not plan properly for with everything going on so I apologise that I could only round up these amazing two friends for you!

Anyway, so somewhere down the path of whipping up this batch of beetroot brownies, which by the way includes Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Spice Dark Chocolate, I made the realisation that I basically just made red velvet brownies *cheeky grin* but of course, what makes a nice warm slice of heaven without ice cream? Specifically Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream? Even MORE specifically, chunks of chocolate from Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Hawke’s Bay Black Doris Plum and Roasted Almonds Dark Chocolate? I think I just drooled. Cold ice cream with a kick of spice in it to really heighten the flavours atop a chocolatey, chewy, and moist brownie drizzled with a vibrant beetroot icing glaze? I’ll have the whole batch please thank you very much.

The original recipe to the brownies can be found over on BBC Good Food, and the original recipe to the beetroot ice cream can be found on Vegan Heaven.

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 12 SLICES

Note: Make the ice cream either the day before or a few hours (4-5 hours) to allow for freezing time before baking your brownies.

INGREDIENTS

Beetroot Brownies Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 500g whole raw beetroot, washed
  • 250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped*
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 1 & 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the beetroot icing glaze

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp beetroot juice

Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream Ingredients

For the ice cream

  • 500g whole raw beetroot, washed
  • 1 cup thick full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate (Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Hawke’s Bay Black Doris Plum and Roasted Almonds)
  • 1 piece thumb-sized ginger, grated

*As mentioned earlier, I used Whittaker’s (New Zealand) Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Spice Dark Chocolate. But since I only had 100g of this, I used regular dark chocolate for the brownies and added half of the Whittaker’s chocolate to the mix, while the other half sprinkled on top of the baked brownies.

METHOD

  1. Boil the beetroots for both for the brownies and ice cream, in a pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 mins or until tender. Drain and leave to cool before peeling (wear clean rubber gloves to peel if you want to avoid beet-stained hands).
  2. Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream: Roughly chop the cooked beets into small chunks and place them together with the coconut milk, honey, and the grated ginger in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer the beetroot-coconut mixture in a freezer-safe container, stir in the chococalte chunks and freeze for about 4-5 hours, whisking slightly every 20-30 minutes to avoid it getting too icy.
  4. Beetroot Brownies: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4) and grease a 10cm x 25cm baking dish. Chop a third of the cooked beetroots into small cubes and blitz the remainder in a blender or food processor to a paste. Sit the paste in a sieve over a bowl – just until you have collected 1-2 tbsp juice. Save the juice for the icing, and mix the olive oil into the beetroot paste. Set both aside.
  5. Bring a pan of water to a bare simmer and place a heatproof bowl with the chopped chocolate. Lightly stir until the chocolate had melted then set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Use an electric whisk to beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until light, fluffy, and tripled in size. Carefully fold the eggs into the beetroot and olive oil mixture, followed by the melted chocolate. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder, then add macadamia nuts and the chopped beetroot.
  7. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 mins. The brownies should still be slightly gooey in the middle. Set aside to allow to cool slightly. While cooling, you can thaw your beetroot ice cream for 5-10 minutes before scooping and serving
  8. Mix enough reserved beetroot juice with the icing sugar to get a runny icing – dilute with water if you need. Remove brownies from the tin, drizzle with the icing and cut into squares.
  9. Enjoy a sinful slice or two, or more (who’s gonna stop you?) with family and/or friends, or you know, just by yourself *cheeky grin*.

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

Beetroot Brownies with Chocolate Chunk Beet Ice Cream

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

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

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-50 MINS | SERVES 12

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

Optional

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

METHOD

  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

BON APPÉTIT

– xx Jialing

myTaste.com

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

Hello Everyone! Finally I am (sort of) back on track with things on here and I apologise for falling behind. Things have been starting to build up at work and my quieter days are starting to become a little hectic, but still not full on crazy at least. That’s bound to happen somewhere in October and I am so not looking forward to late nights in the office and puffing up the eye bags then.

So! As always when I say this (but never happens), I’m going to keep tonight’s post short because it’s late and I need sleep. The theme for the month of July on Amcarmen’s Kitchen is BEETROOT! If you remember from my post earlier this year in January, beetroot is one of the 20 foods I listed out that can help lower your blood pressure. 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.

If I’m being honest, I never really took a liking to the taste of beetroot. For me it always had this aftertaste of eating soil – probably because of it’s earthy flavour to begin with. Anyway, even if I’m not too fond of it, who know, maybe by the end of the month beetroot might be my new favourite vegetable. Tonight’s recipe is a classic with a modern twist to it:

For the beetroot & white wine cure

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare Ingredients

For the tartare

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare Ingredients

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

*Please allow 24-36 hours for the curing of the ocean trout before proceeding with the tartare recipe.

INGREDIENTS

For the beetroot & white wine cure

  • 800g smoked ocean trout fillet (skin removed)
  • 100ml white wine
  • 100g salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 large beetroot, grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For the tartare

  • 800g smoked ocean trout fillet, cured in beetroot and white wine
  • 1 medium-sized free range egg, yolk only
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp baby capers
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salmon roe (optional)
  • Cooked beetroot cubes
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Sweet marjoram leaves
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Thin wafer, to serve

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the white wine, salt, sugar, lemon juice, and grated beetroot.
  2. If needed, cut your smoked ocean trout fillet into two pieces to fit into a zip lock bag. The bigger the piece, the longer that the flavours will take to infuse into the trout.
  3. Place the trout inside the ziplock bag and pour the beetroot cure mixture into the bag with the trout. Ensure that all edges of the trout are well coated. Seal the bags and place in the fridge. Turn every 12 hours, and then remove from the fridge after 24-36 hours.
  4. Remove from bag, rinsing off cure mixture, and  pat dry with paper towel.
  5. Dice finely and place into a medium-sized bowl together with the minced shallots, olive oil, ground sea salt and black pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sweet marjoram leaves. Toss to combine.
  6. Plate up accordingly, and top the tartare with baby capers, beetroot cubes, sweet marjoram leaves, egg yolk, and salmon roe (optional). Serve with a thin wafer, in my case we served with a spicy wafer for an added kick to the dish. Enjoy!

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

Beetroot & White Wine-cured Ocean Trout Tartare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com