Auguest 2021: Brendon D'Souza

Banana Peel Curry with Coconut Rice & Pickled Red Onion

“When someone cooks with love, the meal deserves to be celebrated. You get dressed, choose a killer playlist, and pour a glass of wine then sit down to share the magic with your loved ones.” — Brendon D’Souza

Auguest 2021: Brendon D'Souza

Hello Everyone! How’s life? It’s Brendon D’Souza from CookWithBrendon.com here. By day I work in sales and around the clock I spend the countless hours we have in lockdown doing my favourite thing – cooking for my loved ones and developing recipes for my blog.

After 6 years at my former blog Brendon The Smiling Chef, I realised there might be a space for online cooking classes and social get-togethers for like-minded foodies. After running a number of free workshops with my colleagues and friends I’m so ready to take it to the next level and open up the classes to the world. Let me know if you would like to join in the fun!

Now more than ever is the perfect time to try and find clever little ways to use up leftover bits and pieces you find in the kitchen. This curry will allow you to do exactly that, and is inspired by the flavours of Laos, Thailand, India, and Australia altogether.

Banana Peel Curry

By no means do I claim to be the creator of this dish. As I’m sure you’ve seen over your socials it gained cult status recently when Nigella Lawson wrote about it in her 2020 TV series and cookbook Cook Eat Repeat. It’s such a great way to transform something that would otherwise be destined for the bin. I was surprised to learn that banana skins are packed full of potassium so I’m hoping it’s doing that extra bit of good for my insides too.

I’ve also taken the liberty to use up some leftovers for this dish including a batch of leftover marinara sauce and some roast sweet potatoes. So you can absolutely feel free to swap out some of the ingredients for others which you may have at hand. Don’t forget to tag #CookWithBrendon so I can see your creations. Let’s cook!

Banana Peel Curry Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet potato (or use regular potato)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (or any other fresh or frozen green veg)
  • 1 bunch coriander

METHOD

Start this recipe 1 hour before serving time.

  1. Banana Peel: Peel the bananas. Slice off the tops and tails.*
  2. Place the banana peels into a large heatproof bowl with 1/2 tbsp salt. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 mins. This helps to tenderise the skins and they will change in colour from yellow to brown which is totally fine.
  3. Pickled Onion: While the bananas are soaking. Finely slice 1 onion and place into a glass or ceramic bowl with the rice vinegar, castor sugar and 1/2 a tablespoon of salt. Give it a stir and then set aside. Repeat every 10 minutes or so while you’re making the curry and the onions will turn a vibrant pink and tenderise by the time you’re ready.

Banana Peel Curry with Coconut Rice & Pickled Onion

  1. Remove the banana peels from the soaking liquid** and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the peels finely into batons.
  2. Coconut Rice: Place the rice into a medium heatproof saucepan. Cover with enough cold water to reach 2-cm above the level of the rice, then add the coconut milk. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil. When it is bubbling, immediately turn the heat off and pop on a tight fitting lid and let it sit there***. The rice will continue to absorb any liquid while you prepare the curry.
  3. Banana Peel Curry: Heat a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, the cumin, coriander powder, and turmeric. Cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices, and then add the marinara sauce****.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of crushed ginger and the banana skins, and cook, stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Add 1/2 a cup of vegetable stock or water and bring to the boil. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the banana peels are tender.
  6. Add the sweet potato, frozen peas, coconut milk, and chopped coriander stems, and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the veggies are cooked through. Finally, add the coconut milk and stir until combined.
  7. Serve with the coconut rice and pickled onion. Enjoy!

Banana Peel Curry with Coconut Rice & Pickled Onion

Notes:

  • *These can be composted. Save the banana flesh for another use (I’m thinking everyone’s favourite lockdown banana bread!).
  • **The minerals found in the banana peels such as potassium, phosphorus and calcium, will leach into the water. You can then use this liquid fertiliser for your plants.
  • ***I use my Mum’s absorption method trick to cook my rice and it works every time!
  • ****I’ve used 1/2 a cup of leftover marinara sauce with onion in it but you could easily substitute for 1 small onion and 1/2 a cup of crushed tomatoes.

Give this recipe a try and if you do be sure to tag #CookWithBrendon in your posts when you do!

I’m trying really hard to grow @cookwithbrendon on Instagram and now TikTok so if you have a second to visit and give both a follow I’d be so grateful.

Banana Peel Curry with Coconut Rice & Pickled Onion

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2021 | Brendon D’Souza (@cookwithbrendon)

BON APPÉTIT

– Brendon D’Souza

myTaste.com

Auguest 2021: Karina Pineda

Ginataang Kalabasa (Squash with Coconut Milk)

“Take off on a food journey that is both healthy and happy.” — Karina Pineda

Auguest 2021: Karina Pineda

Hello Everyone! Karina here again returning for the second time on Amcarmen’s Kitchen! When Allison had invited me to join this year’s Auguest series, she told me that the theme would be Flavours of Southeast Asia. She also gave me the liberty to choose from a list of available countries, and fortunately, the Philippines still had an available slot and I grabbed it immediately. Aside from being Filipino, I’ve always appreciated Philippine cuisine — from the variety of flavours it has to offer, to the culture and history it’s rich in. I want to celebrate my country through my entry.

My chosen dish is Ginataang Kalabasa (Squash with Coconut Milk). I also put a twist to the traditional recipe by adding ground tofu. Following the guidelines, I decided to make something vegetarian to show that Filipino food goes beyond adobong manok, lechon kawali, balut, and other meat dishes. We, Filipinos, actually have a number of equally delicious vegetable meals!

Ginataang Kalabasa (Squash with Coconut Milk) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g kalabasa (squash), cubed
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups of fresh gata (coconut milk)
  • 1/4 block of firm tofu, ground
  • Garlic cloves, minced
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Cooking oil

METHOD

  1. Mince the garlic cloves and mash the tofu until it resembles ground meat/tofu scramble.
  2. Sauté the minced garlic cloves in a deep pan until slightly roasted.
  3. Add the kalabasa (squash) cubes and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Pour the gata (coconut milk) into the pan, and sprinkle with some ground black pepper to taste.
  5. Let it boil until the kalabasa is soft and cooked through, no more than 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and allow the coconut milk to thicken.
  6. While waiting for the mixture to boil, cook the ground tofu in a separate pan until slightly roasted.
  7. Once done, add the cooked ground tofu to the kalabasa and gata.
  8. Transfer the ginataang kalabasa to a serving bowl and enjoy on its own or paired with your favorite ulam (viand)!

Ginataang Kalabasa (Squash with Coconut Milk)

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2021 | Karina Pineda (@wanderlittlegirl)

BON APPÉTIT

– Karina Pineda

myTaste.com

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

Hello Everyone! One more day until the end of April, which means that this will be my last recipe from the Philippines on our journey through the Flavours of Southeast Asia. I most definitely had fun tackling healthier alternatives of classic and much loved Pinoy dishes, as well as celebrating Amcarmen’s Kitchen turning seven years old!

Tonight, I’ll be sharing a recipe in response to a challenge that my friend brought up in our exclusive interview. It started off with her asking me if there are any ingredients that I would never cook with on my blog, to which I responded with: raisins, cucumber, and cilantro. She then hit me with a surprise challenge which is to make a dish with at least two of the three ingredients that I listed – something that I would have to like and eat!

To quote her:

“…something that you had previously found to be a negative experience, is going to be turned into a positive experience, so I’m changing your life!”

And here’s my response; no twists or a fancy remake of this side dish, just straight up, humble atchara. Atchara (also spelled achara or atsara) is a pickle made typically out of grated unripe papaya. Other vegetables such as carrots, capsicum (bell pepper), onion, garlic, and ginger are also added to make up this pickle. Raisins may also be added, but are optional.

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

All of these are then mixed together in a solution of vinegar, sugar, and salt. The key is finding the right balance of sourness and sweetness in the pickling solution. It is then placed in airtight jars where it will keep without refrigeration, however once opened it is preferably kept chilled to maintain its flavour. Ideally, you’ll want the atchara to mature for about a week before consuming it, for it to fully develop its flavour. The longer you keep it, the better it tastes. Once opened, you can keep it in the fridge for up to two months.

Atchara is usually served with grilled or fried dishes; I like to have atchara as an accompaniment to fried fish to give it a little more life. Technically it goes well with any meal that is fatty and salty, as the sharpness of the atchara helps cut through that greasy aftertaste in your mouth.

Since the challenge is to make a dish that includes two of the three ingredients that I dislike the most, the atchara that I will be sharing with everyone tonight includes cucumbers and raisins. The Southeast Asian variations of atchara, or as they collectively call it in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, acar, is mainly made of pickling cucumbers together with carrots and shallot, sometimes even daikon. I’ve had this version of acar when I was living in Brunei, and it was actually delicious as an accompaniment to various fried dishes!

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya) Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | MAKES 3 JARS*

*I had jars of varying sizes, but if I were to estimate, I think they’d fit into about 3 medium-sized jars.

INGREDIENTS

For the pickle

  • 1 medium unripe papaya, shredded
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1 small red capsicum, sliced thinly
  • 1 packet (50g) raisins
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • Spring onion stalks

For the pickling solution

  • 1 & 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 small-sized brown onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Combine the shredded papaya together with the salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, setting it aside to sit for about an hour or until the papaya starts to release its liquid. Then place the shredded papaya in a cheesecloth and firmly squeeze to get rid of any excess juices.
  2. Pickling Solution: Meanwhile, in a small-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the whole black peppercorns ginger, garlic, and onions. Continue to cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool down slightly.
  4. Atchara: Combine the shredded papaya together with all the prepared vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Add the warm pickling solution and gently toss to combine. Cover and set aside to completely cool down.
  5. Once cool, transfer the atchara into sterilised jars with tight-fitting lids. You may keep them on the countertop or immediately place them in the fridge for about a week to let the flavours develop before serving.
  6. Serve, cold or at room temperature, with your choice of fried and/or grilled meat/seafood. Enjoy!

1888

The verdict? I definitely loved the pickled cucumbers, in fact I always scoop out for them for every serving. The raisins? I don’t know; there’s just something about them that I don’t like and I can’t explain it. I tried one and after that, I still picked them out.

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Hello Everyone! Yes, I am here again with another recipe for you guys this week! The dish that I will be sharing tonight is a build up on the Mushroom ‘Bagoong’ recipe that I shared yesterday, which I will further explain in tonight’s post.

The word kare actually means curry, so therefore kare-kare is a thick and creamy curry, or stew that is rich in peanut flavour, cooked with your protein of choice and various vegetables. The stew gets its rich flavour from my homemade vegetable broth, ground roasted peanuts and peanut butter, together with sautéed onions, and garlic. It is coloured with annatto and can be thickened with toasted or plain ground rice. It is said that kare-kare has a similar flavour to satay because of the peanuts in the sauce.

The main protein used in a traditional kare-kare is beef, oxtail being the preferred choice of cut and often paired with either beef tripe, beef hock, or beef meat. Various cuts of pork can also be used such as, but not limited to, pork belly, hocks, and/or trotters.

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Kare-kare can also be made exclusively from vegetables, known as Kare-kareng Gulay, that may include, but not limited to, eggplant, Chinese chard (pechay/bok choy), yardlong beans, banana heart/blossoms, okra, daikon, other other various greens. Now while this already is a vegetarian/vegan version of the traditional kare-kare, the condiment on the side, usually shrimp bagoong, strips it of its vegetarian or vegan title. While you can leave the bagoong to the side, kare-kare is just not the same without it. Hence, in yesterday’s post, I made a vegan alternative to bagoong to complete this dish.

I think the last meat-based kare-kare that I had before I stopped eating meat was crispy pork belly kare-kare, and to mimic that, I added crispy fried tofu to my kare-kareng gulay of fried eggplant, blanched yardlong beans and Chinese chard, and boiled banana heart. I first came across Crispy Tofu Kare-kare from various posts I had seen on Instagram last year. Since then I’ve been looking for a reason to make the dish for a blog post and finally I can do so as it fits with the theme for the month!

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the kare-kare

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (plus additional, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 tbsp creamy smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt, to taste

For the annatto mixture

  • 1 & 1/2 tsp annatto seeds
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Banana heart, boiled
  • Chinese chard (pechay), blanched
  • Eggplant, fried
  • Firm tofu, fried
  • Yardlong beans, blanched
  • Mushroom ‘bagoong’
  • Roasted peanuts, crushed

METHOD

  1. Annatto Mixture: Combine the annatto seeds and hot water in a cup. Leave to soak for the seeds to release their colour.
  2. Kare-Kare: Add oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat. Once hot, sauté the garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the crushed peanuts. Continue to cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the peanut butter and mix well until melted before adding 1 cup on the vegetable broth. Mix and season with a pinch of salt, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
  4. Take about a third cup of extra vegetable broth and add the white rice flour to it. Mix until the flour is incorporated into the broth.
  5. Stir the rice flour mixture into the peanut butter stew. Leave to cook until the sauce thickens, a further 10 minutes and mix every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Strain the annatto seeds from the water and add the annatto liquid into the stew. Mix well to incorporate its colour, and if needed, add more vegetable broth to thin out the stew. You may also need to adjust the seasoning to your liking.

At this point, you may choose to add your prepared tofu and vegetables to the stew or separate them for plating up.

  1. Serve and enjoy with steamed rice and mushroom ‘bagoong’ to complete this vegan dish!

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

Hello Everyone! We’re taking a little detour on our Flavours of Southeast Asia. My initial plan for the year is to go down the list of Southeast Asian countries alphabetically, but since April is a special month for Amcarmen’s Kitchen, I thought it would be fitting to travel through my home country, the Philippines.

Yes I am aware that it’s only Tuesday, those who have been following me for a long time now know that my regular posting schedule is every Wednesday night (GMT+8), but I decided that I would make a separate post for this recipe, leading up the the main recipe I have originally planned for tomorrow. The reason is because the recipe that I will be sharing tonight can be used as a base for many other Filipino dishes, or as a condiment to other savoury dishes.

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

I don’t think the word ‘bagoong’ even has a direct English translation to it. Rather, the term refers to a condiment local to the Philippines that is partially or completely made of either fermented fish (bagoong isda), krill, or shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) with salt.

The recipe that I will be sharing tonight uses neither fish nor shrimp, instead mushrooms for a vegan-friendly alternative. I first came across mushroom ‘bagoong’ when I was browsing around in an artisanal market about a year ago. I didn’t buy a jar of it though at that time only because I had no idea what I would make/do with it, but I did think that it was an interesting alternative to the bagoong we’re used to here in the Philippines. It wasn’t until I decided to make the dish that I will be sharing tomorrow night, that I also decided to attempt making mushroom ‘bagoong’ as an accompaniment to that dish.

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’ Ingredients

PREP TIME 5-10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15-20 MINS | MAKES 1 CUP

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g fresh oyster mushrooms, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely minced (optional)
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup white miso paste
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger

METHOD

  1. Add cooking oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, sauté the garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the grated ginger and chillies, total 1 and a half to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the minced mushrooms and continue to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes before adding the sugar and then miso paste into the mushroom mixture. Mix until well combined and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Taste and adjust according to your liking.

Add more sugar if you want it a little sweeter, or more chillies if you want a spicier kick. At this point, I added both dark and light soy sauce a tablespoon at a time for added umami flavours and for colour as well.

  1. Cook further, a total of 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are completely cooked through. Turn the heat off and set aside to cool down before storing in a jar and keeping it tightly sealed.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use, and can be stored for up to 3 months!

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

Use for dishes such as pinakbet for a completely vegan alternative to using shrimp bagoong, or as a condiment for other dishes. Enjoy!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

Hello Everyone! With only 28 calendar days, February flew by so quickly and it’s already the 3rd day of the 3rd month of 2021! In 13 days it’ll be a year since we (the Philippines) went into Enhanced Community Quarantine because of the global pandemic. Last week we shared our last recipe for local Cambodian delicacies; our second stop on our road to discover the Flavours of Southeast Asia for Amcarmen’s Kitchen. Our next stop for this month is a small Southeast Asian nation that is rarely heard of, a country that only gained its full independence in 2002 – East Timor! After centuries of Portuguese colonization, the state became independent in 1975 before being invaded by Indonesia. The country was finally able to restore its sovereignty in 2002.

This is why East Timorese Cuisine is heavily influenced by other Southeast Asian foods, Indonesian cuisine to be specific, and Portuguese cuisine. Since agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the country, the cuisine uses mainly rice (since its largely homegrown), sweet potatoes, corn, cassava, and taro. To add up to the base of every dish there is usually a vegetable component, also with homegrown products such as black-eyed peas, onions, spinach, and cabbage. Meat such as pork, chicken, goat, and fish are also common in East Timorese dishes.

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

The first dish that we’re going to tackle for this month is known as Batar Da’an, or in English, Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew. Mung beans are very popular in Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia. Though having said that East Timorese cuisine is heavily influenced by other cultures, Batar Da’an is actually one of the few dishes that are authentic to the country. It is a simple, yet hearty and humble vegan dish (gluten-free too!) that is prepared with a combination of diced pumpkin, corn, and mung beans that are sautéed in garlic and onions, seasoned with just salt and pepper. There are also other variations of this dish, where squash is used instead of pumpkin, and kidney beans are used as an alternative to mung beans.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on 196 Flavors by Vera and Mike. The original recipe uses water as the base for this stew. I replaced the water with my own homemade vegetable stock to really amplify the flavour of this dish. You may also use store-bought broth if you wish. Also, at the very last minute, I asked my maid to harvest some moringa (malunggay) leaves from our neighbour’s tree to not only add colour to the dish, but also an extra added nutrition!

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew) Ingredients

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

*Allow for 6 hours to overnight to soak the mung beans.

INGREDIENTS

For the vegetable broth

  • 6 cups water
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Leek
  • Long Green Chilli
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Dried Bay Leaves
  • Salt
  • Whole Black Peppercorns

Note: When making a basic vegetable broth, you want vegetables with neutral, but savoury flavours. Onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms are the ideal starter vegetables for stock, but feel free to swap any of these for leeks, tomatoes or parsnips. Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and turnips will make for a gummy, cloudy vegetable stock. Beets overpower their aromatic counterparts. Zucchini and green beans become bitter when slowly simmered for as long it takes to make this stock.

For the batar da’an

  • 600g pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 & 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 3/4 cup dried mung beans, soaked for at least 6 hours to overnight
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Moringa (malunggay) leaves, optional

METHOD

You can choose to make your vegetable broth the day before to save time when actually cooking the Batar Da’an.

  1. Vegetable Broth: Combine all the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down low and leave to slowly simmer for an hour.

If you’re using your broth right away, skip ahead to step 3a.

  1. When done, turn the heat off and leave to cool down slightly for about half an hour.
  2. Strain the vegetables and spices from the broth, into a bowl and then:
    a) set aside until ready to use, or
    b) set aside to cool down completely before transferring into a jar/container to store in the fridge.
  3. Batar Da’an: Add the coconut oil to a large stockpot over medium-high heat and sauté the minced garlic until golden brown in colour and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next, add the diced onions and cook until soft, a further 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Add the pumpkin chunks and give it a good mix for about a minute and then add in the drained mun beans. Season with a touch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper and cook for about a minute to get some caramelisation happening.
  5. Pour in the vegetable broth, mix, and then turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  6. In the last 5 minutes, stir in the thawed corn and give it a good mix. At this point, you may taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Turn the heat off after 5 minutes and then serve immediately while hot and enjoy!

Optional: Once the heat is turned off, you may stir in some moringa (malunggay) leaves, or other choice of leafy greens, and let the residual heat cook them.

This dish is traditionally enjoyed as a main course, usually accompanied by rice, but it can also serve as an excellent side dish when paired with other meat or fish dishes.

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that it’s already October – how did the months in quarantine fly by so fast? I felt like March was just last week! I hope everyone is staying safe at home, and only going out when necessary, for work or essentials. I still haven’t reported back to the office since our country declared enhanced community quarantine, and I hope that I won’t have to go back until this pandemic is under control.

That aside, I will continue sharing blue-inspired dishes for the month of October, and what better way than to kick things off with this recipe for Stir-fried Handmade Noodle with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince. I initially drew my inspiration for this recipe by Blue Willow, a thematic bar and bistro located in Singapore that derives its inspiration from one of our favourite science-fiction movies of 2009 – Avatar.. Now, I haven’t been there myself, but when I was doing research earlier on this year to look for blue-inspired dishes, I came across Blue Willow’s Eywa Natural Blue Carbonara, where pasta dough is naturally coloured using butterfly pea flowers.

Chinese Handmade Noodles

My initial idea was to recreate this exactly as it is, a blue carbonara. As the months went by and drew closer to tackling this dish, paired with hours of research for new recipes (not necessarily just for this dish in particular), my idea shifted to making Chinese-style handmade noodles instead of pasta. To be honest, this was actually a recipe that I had initially planned for the third week of September, to serve with the Chinese Blue Tea Eggs (茶叶蛋) that I had also made earlier last month. However, I wasn’t happy with how the dish was put together, in terms of how I dressed the noodles. I didn’t want to share something that I wasn’t happy with, visually and taste wise, so it wasn’t until I did more research and tackled this dish once again towards the end of September – and finally something that I am happy to share with you guys!

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original recipe for Handmade Noodles over on The Woks of Life by Sarah, one of a family of four cooks. Also, check out the original recipe for Tofu and Mushroom Mince over on Scruff And Steph by Scruff.

The making of the noodles really tired me out for they were kneaded, rolled, and cut from scratch, and all by hand. If you have a mixer with a dough hook attachment, it’ll be a piece of cake! If not, you need a bit (lot) of elbow grease, and you’ll be making noodles the same way cooks have been making them in China for centuries.

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

Chinese Handmade Noodles Ingredients

For the handmade noodles

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp loose dried butterfly pea flowers
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince Ingredients

For the spicy tofu & mushroom mince

  • 250g firm tofu, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dried sliced shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated finely minced
  • 1/2 cup dried wood ear mushroom, rehydrated and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, minced
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the stir-fried noodles

  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • Spring onion stalks, white part only

To serve with

  • Chinese greens of choice
  • Spring onions, for garnishing

METHOD

  1. Handmade Noodles: Combine the dried butterfly pea flowers in a small saucepan together with the water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat off and leave to steep for about 10-15 minutes. Discard the flowers and set aside to cool down completely.
  2. Add the all purpose flour to a large plate (or even directly onto your clean kitchen countertop). Create a well in the middle and bit by bit, pour the blue water into the flour, mixing with a pair of chopsticks, spatula, or even just your hand as you go. Once all the water is added, the dough should be in shaggy threads with little/no dry flour in the bowl.
  3. Begin pressing the dough together. Avoid the temptation to add additional water, as this will affect the texture of your noodles. If you find the dough is too dry and there’s still dry flour that’s hard to incorporate into the dough, drizzle just enough water until there’s no dry flour left. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes. During this time, it will continue to absorb moisture, and become more pliable and elastic.
  5. Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince: While the dough is resting, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium. Add in the ginger together with the red bird’s eye chillies and sauté until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Immediately add in the garlic, continuing to sauté until fragrant and slightly golden in colour before adding the onions. Cook until the onions have softened and begin to go translucent, a further 45 seconds.
  6. Add the mashed tofu, shiitake and wood ear mushrooms. Continue to stir and cook for 5 minutes and then add in the light and sweet soy sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir the tofu-mushroom mixture around for a further 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Set aside and cook your noodles.

Chinese Handmade Noodles

  1. Stir-fry Noodles: After the dough has rested, knead it a few more times to get any air bubbles out of it, about 2-3 minutes. Form into a ball and cut it in half.
  2. On a floured surface, roll one half of the dough into a thin sheet, about 2mm thick. Flour the surface of the sheet thoroughly, flip over, and thoroughly flour the other side. Once floured, fold the dough so you have 4 layers. Slice the noodles with a sharp knife to your desired thickness. As you’re cutting the noodles, gently separate them out with your hands and toss them in flour so they don’t stick.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness. Keep an eye on the noodles as they cook and taste them to determine when they’re cooked. There is a lot of variation depending on how thinly they were rolled and cut, so test in real time to determine when they’re done. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  4. Add sesame oil in a separate frying pan over high heat until smoking. Add the spring onion stalks together with the boiled noodles and fry for about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Transfer to individual serving dishes and top with the Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince. Garnish with spring onions and serve with Chinese Greens of your choice. Enjoy!

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

You can also follow the recipe for Chinese Handmade Noodles and basically make anything and everything with them! These deliciously chewy, springy noodles can be served in soup or mixed with whatever tasty sauces and toppings you can dream up for a delicious meal. Here are just some key tips for success:

  • Use bread flour (high gluten flour): The way to get a good chew in your noodles is to develop the gluten in the dough. Using flour with high gluten content makes a big difference. That being said though, all purpose flour works fine too.
  • Don’t add too much water: The dough will look rather dry and lumpy at first, but do resist the temptation to add additional water. Too much water will make the noodles gummy rather than springy. You just have to have faith and give the flour enough time to absorb moisture through kneading.
  • Use lots of flour when rolling and cutting: The action of cutting the noodles with a knife will press the layers of dough together. To prevent them from sticking, be sure to thoroughly flour both sides of the dough before folding and cutting. This is another reason to avoid using too much water in the dough – to prevent it from sticking.
  • Be mindful of thickness: The noodles will expand when cooked, so whatever thickness you see when cutting the raw dough, the cooked noodles will be significantly thicker. Keep this in mind when rolling and cutting. You may want to roll the dough out thinner and cut the noodles thinner than you initially think.

Storage Tips:

  • Cooked Noodles: If you plan on reheating, you can slightly undercook the noodles (to al dente) to create a better texture once reheated. Store the noodles in an airtight container or a ziplock bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Frozen Dough: Let the frozen dough thaw in the fridge overnight. Transfer the refrigerated dough to room temperature and let it rest for 2 hours. The dough will become super soft and can be gently shaped, rested for another 10 minutes or so, and rolled. Follow the method stated above to cook.

Stir-fried Handmade Noodles with Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Mince

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2020: Melissa Delos Reyes

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

“Creating food is a therapeutic process. It’s a way for me to unwind and slow down in this fast-paced world. To see my family & friends enjoy what I create is worth all the effort.” — Melissa Delos Reyes

Auguest 2020: Melissa Delos Reyes

Ola! I’m Melissa or Mel, the smol lady behind Eats Meru on Facebook and Instagram. I am a social media associate by profession and I freelance in photography and graphic design. Ever since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed cooking, experimenting with food, and following recipes!

I created Eats Meru pre-pandemic to share my food adventures at first. Everything changed when the Covid-19 virus struck. No one was prepared. Businesses were greatly affected, especially the small/start-up local brands. Since then, I’ve converted my goal for Eats Meru as a platform where I can help local MSMEs to share their products especially now that everyone is doing their best to make a living.

For this post in the Auguest series, I chose the color orange. I’ll be sharing a healthy and plant-based version of the famous Orange Chicken that uses tofu as the protein of the dish; it’s sticky, orange-y, tangy, crispy, and tasty too! You can easily make this dish as most of the ingredients can be found in your fridge and pantry. It is also perfect for those busy weeknights as it comes together in 20 minutes.

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the crispy tofu

  • 2 packs firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch size cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the orange sauce

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 medium-sized oranges)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white or rice vinegar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (2 tbsp for a thicker sauce)
  • 1 tsp chilli, minced
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, minced (or 1 tbsp grated)
  • Spring onion (for garnishing)
  • Blanched broccoli

METHOD

  1. Crispy Tofu: In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, rice flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and coat the tofu in the cornstarch mixture.
  2. In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil (enough to cover the tofu) over medium-high. Carefully drop the coated cubed tofu in the oil and fry until slightly golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pot; work in batches if needed.
  3. Once done, use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu and transfer to a wire rack or strainer to cool down.
  4. Orange Sauce: Combine all the ingredients for the orange sauce, except water and cornstarch in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and bring to a boil.
  5. Mix the cornstarch in the water together to create a slurry and gradually stir it into the simmering sauce. Cook until the sauce thickens, stirring well for even thickening. Taste for salt, sweetness, flavour, etc. and adjust as you go.
  6. Turn the heat off and add the crispy tofu. Toss to evenly coat them with the sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the spring onions. Serve immediately while hot, with rice and blanched broccoli (or any of your favorite greens for that matter). Enjoy!

This Crispy Orange Tofu can be modified for an even healthier option. For this recipe, the tofu is deep-fried in oil, but if you prefer, and have a bit more time on your hands, you can bake the tofu instead. Additionally, you can consider serving it with some cauliflower rice and other greens of your choice.

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

Crispy Orange Tofu with Broccoli

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | Melissa Delos Reyes (@eatsmeru)

BON APPÉTIT

– Melissa Delos Reyes

myTaste.com

Auguest 2020: Karina Pineda

Adlai Tomato Risotto

“Take off on a food journey that is both healthy and happy” — Karina Pineda

Auguest 2020: Karina Pineda

Hello! My name is Karina, the girl behind wander little girl on Instagram. Two years ago, I initially started my food blog to document my #foodjourney—basically a marriage between transitioning to a healthy lifestyle (which was then a strictly plant-based diet) and learning my way around the kitchen. Fast forward to the present, a few things have changed, from my perspective on health and wellness to the direction of my blog. I decided to see wander little girl as a serious brand and grow it (especially now that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic).

At one point within that two-year timeline, Allison and I followed each other. Though we hardly interacted with one another, it was when she opened slots for this year’s Auguest series that we began to communicate.

When Allison told me the chosen theme and the recipe guidelines, I was thankful for having seen and grabbed the opportunity to guest in this series. Titled Colors of the Rainbow, participating guests (or should I say, Auguests) were tasked to come up with a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian recipe in line with their assigned color. For me, this served as a walk down memory lane, back to wander little girl’s roots.

Adlai Tomato Risotto

Having picked the color red, I challenged myself to cooking beyond my comfort zone, hence Adlai Tomato Risotto. I had never made risotto prior and I wanted to add a few twists to the beloved dish. First, the risottos that I’ve tried are usually creamy, and so I whipped up a tomato-based version; that way, it would scream bloody RED! Next, I veganized it by using vegetable broth made from scratch and vegan margarine. Last (but definitely not the least), I swapped rice (specifically arborio rice) with adlai. Before anything, please hear me out! Since I live in the Philippines, I wanted to promote a grain that was both locally produced and a healthier alternative. Since adlai absorbs more than the regular white rice here, this Adlai Tomato Risotto is just as creamy and thick as its traditional counterpart! The entire process from preparing to cooking may be tedious and time-consuming, but I promise that the hard work is worth it; it’s like a dish straight out of an Italian restaurant!

Adlai Tomato Risotto Ingredients

PREP TIME 45 MINS* | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4-5

* Includes making of the vegetable broth

INGREDIENTS

For the adlai tomato risotto

  • 1 cup uncooked adlai
  • 1 & 1/2 cup of canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vegan margarine or spreadable
  • 1 tsp rosemary (+ more for topping)
  • 1 tsp thyme (+ more for topping)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Half a white onion (or less, depending on your taste)
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Ground pepper
  • Spanish paprika
  • Brown sugar (optional)

For the vegetable broth

  • 6 cups water
  • Chosen vegetables (in picture: carrots, stems of sweet potato leaves, garlic, and ginger)
  • Ground pepper
  • Salt

METHOD

  1. Vegetable Broth: Gather the vegetables to be used for the broth and place them in a pot. Add ground pepper and salt to taste. Pour 6 cups of water into the pot. Allow it to boil on a stove top for 30 minutes. Set it aside afterwards.
  2. Adlai Tomato Risotto: Mince garlic cloves and half a white onion. Heat a pan on the stove top. Add olive oil. Sauté the minced garlic and onions. Add margarine to enhance the flavor.
  3. Pour the cup of uncooked adlai, and cook it until slightly toasted. Start with a bit of the vegetable broth from earlier (I used a ladle and poured two servings) and stir it. Once the broth has been absorbed, pour another portion again. Repeat the process until all of the vegetable broth has been used and the adlai is cooked.
  4. Add sliced mushrooms. Pour diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix well until everything is incorporated and evenly colored.
  5. Sprinkle the herbs (i.e. rosemary and thyme) as well as the spices (i.e. ground pepper and Spanish paprika). Add brown sugar to taste, but this step is optional. Continue to mix everything.
  6. Once cooked, allow the risotto to cool. Transfer it into a large plate or bowl. Top it with more rosemary and thyme. Eat the risotto on its own or pair it with corn. Enjoy!

Adlai Tomato Risotto

Adlai Tomato Risotto

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | Karina Pineda (@wanderlittlegirl)

BON APPÉTIT

– Karina Pineda

myTaste.com

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

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

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

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

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

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

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

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

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

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

METHOD

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

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

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

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

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

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

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com