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

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

Hello Everyone! Pineapples are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and other helpful compounds, such as enzymes that can fight inflammation and disease. They are especially rich in vitamin C, which is essential for growth and development, a healthy immune system, and aiding the absorption of iron from the diet.

Firing up the barbie tonight? This may be one of the most delicious ways to eat a pineapple! Try this Grilled Pineapple Dessert for a healthy alternative that’s fast and tasty. The tequila adds a tart flavour to balance the natural sweetness of the pineapple, and the sugar from the caramel. You may also substitute the tequila out for rum instead, or whatever bevvy tickles your taste buds.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

There was no doubt that I wanted to buy a whole tub of ice cream to pair with this dessert, especially after all the summer heat we’ve been experiencing. But given the circumstances of Enhanced Community Quarantine, my priorities were focused elsewhere. Considering the capacity of my freezer, I first made sure that it was full of seafood that would last us until our next grocery trip, which is every two weeks now to limit the time I spend outdoors amidst the on-going pandemic.

But by all means, feel free to get creative by serving it with ice cream for a warm (and cold at the same time), sweet, tart, and creamy dessert. Take it to another level by topping the dessert off with nuts or granola to add a fun crunch to it!

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

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

INGREDIENTS

For the grilled pineapple

  • 1 medium-sized pineapple
  • 1 shot tequila (or rum)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg

Optional:

For the vegan caramel sauce

  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 60g unsalted margarine
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

To garnish/serve with

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Handful of granola
  • Ice cream (flavour of choice)
  • Nuts of choice, roughly chopped

METHOD

  1. Prepare Pineapple: Remove the leafy crown with a sharp knife and cut a thin slice from the base. Slice the skin away from top to bottom, removing any brown eyes as you go.
  2. If you have a pineapple corer at home, use this before cutting your pineapple into rounds. Otherwise, cut the pineapple into 6-8 rounds, and like me, use a round cookie cutter to cut the cores out of each round.
  3. Set aside on a plate and coat with the ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Optional, spike the pineapple rounds with a shot of tequila.
  4. Vegan Caramel Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, whisking constantly or until thickened and no longer watery, about 6 to 9 minutes. Keep in mind that the caramel thickens more as it cools.
  5. Grilled Pineapple: Preheat grill pan over high heat. Slightly oil the grill and then carefully place each round into the pan. Cook until grill marks form, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Once done, remove from the pan and transfer to a serving dish.
  6. Serve: Top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, drizzle with the vegan caramel sauce, and sprinkle with fresh mint. Serve with ice cream flavour of choice topped with some roughly chopped nuts for some crunch, if desired. Enjoy!

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

Notes:

  • You may also opt to drizzle the pineapple slices with homemade salted caramel sauce instead.
  • Any homemade caramel sauce can easily be made ahead; great served warm, at room temperature or chilled with refrigeration. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can warm it slightly to make it more drizzle-able before use.

Grilled Pineapple Dessert

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Hello Everyone! I’ll keep tonight’s introduction short, and so, on to the recipe! This glowing Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew is hearty, spicy, creamy, nutrient-rich, and delicious! The addition of pineapple juice in the stew adds a hint of sweetness and slightly enhances the flavour of the overall dish that pairs nicely with the coconut milk.

It’s the perfect comfort food for the cold weather months. Having said that, it’s probably not an ideal dish to whip up in the tropics, especially during the summer time *cheeky grin*

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original recipe I followed for reference, over on Yup, it’s Vegan by Shannon. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan/vegetarian altogether (that is if you skip the garlic-malunggay toast on the side)!

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pcs dried bay leaves
2 small-sized sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 small red bird’s eye chilli, finely minced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 & 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 & 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup pineapple juice (fresh or if store-bought, with no added sugar)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 & 1/2 tbsp fresh turmeric, grated
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp yellow curry powder
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp turmeric powder
Blanched kale leaves, roughly chopped to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Add the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Then add in the diced onions, chillies, ginger, turmeric, and dried bay leaves, stirring often, until they soften, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes into the pot, together with the curry and turmeric powder. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and then give it a good mix, cooking for about a minute or two.
  3. Add the water or vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boiling. Once boiling, add in the pineapple juice, and half of the coconut milk and bring back to a gentle boil before reducing the heat to a steady simmer. Cover the pot and leave to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
  4. If desired, use a fork to mash up some of the sweet potatoes to thicken the stew slightly. Stir in the cooked chickpeas, lime juice, soy sauce, and the remaining coconut milk. Let it simmer, partially covered, for 5 to 10 more minutes.
  5. Check and taste to see if the stew needs additional seasoning. If so, season with a touch more salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lime juice.
  6. Once done, top with some blanched kale and fresh chillies. Serve hot with some garlic-malunggay bread slices on the side (optional). Enjoy!

Vegan Turmeric, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Stew

Note: The sweet potatoes in this stew makes it nice and hearty on its own, but it is also lovely served with jasmine rice. Feel free to add other stew-friendly vegetables too, such as cauliflower or other leafy greens like how I added kale to mine.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Hello Everyone! I’m about to switch things up a bit tonight and share with you a recipe from a country that I have yet to culinarily explore. Amcarmen’s Kitchen is afterall, a Third Culture Foodie! It’s a bright orange Indian carrot pudding that is absolutely decadent and is sure to please, not only yourself, but your guests as well.

Gajar Ka Halwa, is a delicious and rich carrot pudding that’s perfect for any celebration. In India, this dessert is enjoyed mainly on the occasion of Diwali, Holi, Eid al-Fitr, and Raksha Bandhan. It can be served hot or cold. The classic Indian dessert is traditionally made using ghee and full-fat milk, but of course, you can easily substitute those dairy products out for non-dairy products for a vegan option of this dish, but apparently it won’t taste as great. I can’t judge for myself as I haven’t tasted the traditional version.

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Also, I just want to add that I had a hard time sourcing cardamom in store here in the Philippines. Cardamom has a complex flavour of fruity, nutty, spicy, woody, and citrusy that’s hard to replicate with other spices. However, cardamom substitutes like ginger, nutmeg & cinnamon are the closest.

If you too have difficulty in sourcing cardamom, I found online that you can mix together equal parts ground cinnamon and nutmeg and use in place of the cardamom called for in your recipe – which I already conveniently had both lying around at home in the pantry. If you don’t have nutmeg, then try equal parts cinnamon and ground ginger or equal parts cinnamon and ground cloves instead.

Before we delve into tonight’s recipe, please do check out the original by Ashley of My Heart Beets.

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding) Ingredients

PREP TIME 5-10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and grated/shredded
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (or 1/16 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/16 tsp ground nutmeg)
  • Handful of chopped pistachios or other nuts, to garnish

METHOD

  1. Add the shredded carrots, coconut milk, and water to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover and bring to a rapid simmer.
  2. Once simmering, add the sugar and cook for a further 6 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has reduced.
  3. Add the coconut oil and stir-fry the carrots for a further 6 to 7 minutes, or until the carrots become dry and the coconut oil separates from the mixture. The carrots should look dark orange or reddish in colour.
  4. Add the ground cardamom and mix well.
  5. Transfer to individual serving ramekins and top with the chopped pistachios. Enjoy!

Vegan Gajar Ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding)

Note: You can easily double or triple this recipe if you plan on making this dessert for a crowd.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

Hello Everyone and Happy Hump Day! How is it that we’re already halfway into the first month of the year? I know I’ve said this in probably 80% of my posts from last year, and I will most definitely say it again… Time sure does fly by so quickly!

Tofu, or also known as bean curd, is made by curdling fresh soy milk, pressing it into a solid block, and then cooling it – the same traditional way in which dairy cheese is made. It is a good source of plant-based protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron, calcium, and minerals such as manganese and phosphorus. In addition to this, it also contains magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1.

Sadly, tofu sometimes get a bad reputation from omnivores, and it’s probably because they are eating tofu that wasn’t cooked or seasoned well in the first place! Tofu is a popular staple ingredient in Thai and Chinese cuisines where it can be cooked in different ways to change its texture from smooth and soft, to crisp and crunchy.

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

Given its neutral taste and range of consistency, tofu has an amazing ability to work with almost all types of flavours and foods. Extra firm tofu is best for baking, grilling, and stir-fries. On the other hand, soft tofu is suitable for sauces, desserts, shakes, and salad dressings. The possibilities are endless and of course, it’s all down to you and your creativity to see where your adventures and experiments take you with tofu!

Tonight I’ll be sharing a super delicious vegetarian dish that’s super simple and quick to put together. You can also easily make this dish vegan by substituting the wild honey for white granulated sugar or maple syrup in the irresistible sweet and sour sauce that will coat the crispy tofu. The trick to getting it nice and crispy? Get rid of the excess moisture and fry it up real nice! No one likes soggy tofu! As always, do head on over to Hot For Food by Lauren Toyota for the original recipe where I drew my inspiration from.

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

For the sweet and sour sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup wild honey*
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes/ground, or fresh chilli
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the tofu batter

  • 1 block of medium-firm tofu
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold soda water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • Thinly sliced green onions, to garnish
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

* Substitute wild honey for white granulated sugar or maple syrup for a vegan option.

METHOD

  1. Preparing the Tofu: If using tofu from a package, drain and cut into bite-sized cubes. Allow the cubes to sit on a clean tea towel or paper towel to get rid of any excess water. Set aside and in the meantime, prepare the sauce.
  2. Sweet & Sour Sauce: Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Set aside. Whisk all the sauce ingredients together (except for the garlic, ginger, and chilli), in a small mixing bowl as set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low. Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, and chilli. Sauté for about 30 seconds, until golden and fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic and ginger.
  4. Add the sauce mixture to the saucepan and whisk together until just bubbling. Once bubbling, whisk in the cornstarch and water mixture to the sauce. Continue to whisk frequently for 10 to 12 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced. Once done, remove from the heat and set aside while preparing the crispy tofu.
  5. Crispy Tofu: In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the 3 cups of vegetable oil to about 180C to 185C (or 355F to 365F).
  6. Prepare the batter by whisking the flour, cornstarch, sea salt, garlic powder, sesame seeds, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Do not add the cold soda water until your frying oil is ready. When you’re ready to fry, stir in the cold soda water to the flour mixture and mix well. If the mixture is too thin, add a little bit more flour and combine. The batter should have a smooth and slightly thick consistency – like pancake batter. You want it to stick and coat the cubes of tofu.
  7. Place the tofu cubes in the batter and toss to coat evenly. Delicately drop each cube one at a time into the frying oil. Fry in batches of 5 to 6 pieces (more or less depending on the size of your pot), just be careful to not overcrowd the pot. Fry for 2 to 2.5 minutes, until golden. If some stick together, your can gently separate them in the frying oil using a slotted fryer spoon. Once done, let them sit on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Continue this process with the remaining tofu cubes.
  8. Serve: Heat up the sauce again if needed before serving. In 2 to 3 batches, you can evenly coat the crispy tofu with the sauce by tossing them together in a large bowl. Plate up, drizzle with a touch of sesame oil, and garnish with spring onion.
  9. Serve and enjoy immediately over steamed rice or any vegetables of your choice!

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

Notes:
If you’d rather bake the tofu instead of frying for a healthier alternative, toss the cubes in about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a large bowl. Lay them out evenly on a large parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven (425F, 220C or gas mark 7), for 30 to 40 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Finish by coating in warm sweet and sour sauce right before serving.

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2019: Shazrinah Shazali

Dark Chocolate Açaí Tahini Tart with Mixed Fruit Mountain

Indulgences can be sinful and healthy. A mixture of sweet, bitter and salty goodness combined into what may seem to be regular dark chocolate tart, is sure to give your guests a delicious and tantalising surprise.

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 2 packets of Oreos
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter OR 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt

For the filling

  • 340g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream OR coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen açaí berries*, blended
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter OR 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt

* If using frozen açaí berries, thaw first before blending.

Dark Chocolate Açaí Tahini Tart with Mixed Fruit Mountain

Tip: Switch out the butter for coconut oil and whipped cream for coconut cream to easily make this tart vegan and dairy-free friendly. Use vegan-friendly maple syrup or other substitute sweeteners, and of course a vegan biscuit/cookie base. Also, while most dark chocolate brands are vegan-friendly, it’s best to check for those that do/do not contain any whey or dairy in them.

METHOD

  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Blend the Oreos, unsalted butter, Himalayan salt, and tahini together in a food processor.
  3. Transfer the blended mixture to a 10” tart tray and bake for 10 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool before filling the tart.
  4. Filling: Heat dark chocolate, unsalted butter, whipped cream, and maple syrup in a saucepan at a low to medium flame until melted and well combined.
  5. Once melted, mix in the vanilla essence, blended açaí berries, and salt.
  6. Take off the heat and then pour into the crust.
  7. Even out filling and chill in the fridge overnight to set.
  8. Finishing: Top with fruits of your choice to add freshness and volume to your tart. In this case, I used a medley of mangoes, kiwis, blueberries, and cherries. Serve and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Açaí Tahini Tart with Mixed Fruit Mountain

PS: Ally here! Before we end tonights post, please read this article on the Goddess behind Fuel’d, who is none other than Shaza!

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Shazrinah Shazali

BON APPÉTIT

– Shazrinah Shazali

myTaste.com

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

Hello Everyone! April is here and those who have been following my blog, or even just my social media pages (Facebook & Instagram) will know that a new month means that I get to play around with new ingredients! As the overall theme for this year is a “fruitful” one, I’m playing around with different kinds of fruit each month for 2019! For January I went nuts for Coconuts! For February it was all about Mangoes. For March they say an Apple a day keeps the doctors away! I ran a poll on Instagram stories for my followers to guess between Pineapple, Banana, and Lemon based on the set of ingredients for tonight’s post.

Of course, based on the title of this post, we all know that April with be all about Pineapples! I did mention in my previous post that I had to change what I had initially planned for tonight. Basically, I had planned for a Grilled Pineapple Oat Crumble, but I slowly realised towards the middle of last month that we’re at the peak of summer here in the Philippines, and it just made no sense whatsoever to be featuring warm/baked desserts in the heat we’re having! Thus I decided to take a cooler route for this month and beat the summer heat with this amazing Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream!

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

So what exactly is Nice Cream? Unlike most ice cream recipes, this one doesn’t require an ice cream maker/churner. The trusty food processor can transform any frozen fruits into a whipped dessert in mere minutes. Nice creams are also vegan, dairy-free, and treat-free from artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, and added sugar. Well okay, there is sugar for this particular recipe of mine that I used when making the spice-roasted pineapples, but other than that, I did not add any extra sugar to the nice cream.

Banana-based ice cream may be the original nice cream, but there are endless ways to adapt the classic recipe. Take for example, tonight’s recipe for Spice-roasted Pineapples – bananas are only really added to ensure a creamy custard-like texture, but the other fruit is the star of the show. I didn’t just want to blitz up some frozen pineapples, which is why I went a little bit extra in roasting the pineapples first in a few spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and star anise before freezing them. The result? AMAZING!

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS* | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

*Allow for the Spice-roasted Pineapple Chunks to freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight before making the nice cream.

INGREDIENTS

For the spice-roasted pineapple

  • 1 large pineapple, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 pcs whole cloves
  • 3 pcs star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp Tequila or Vodka (optional)**

For the nice cream

  • Frozen spiced-roasted pineapple
  • Frozen sliced bananas, about 2-3 large bananas
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ginger nut biscuits (optional)***

**Almost every brand of hard liquor – bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin and rum – is vegan. Nearly all distilled spirits are vegan except for cream-based liqueurs and products that mention honey on the label.

***I used Tesco ginger nut biscuits which are vegan.

METHOD

  1. Spice-roasted Pineapple: Preheat oven to 220C (425F or gas mark 7).
  2. Toss the pineapple, sugar, spices, and everything nice (liquor) in an oven-safe baking dish. Sorry, I could not resist not say that!
  3. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once done, set aside to completely cool down before placing them in a food-safe zip lock bag together with the peeled and sliced bananas, and into the freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight. Discard the spices! Save a couple of tablespoons of the spice-roasted pineapple in the fridge to serve together with the nice cream.

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream Process

  1. Nice Cream: Place all the ingredients for the nice cream into a food processor and let it run on the highest speed for about a few minutes until the frozen fruit turns into a loose, crumbly mass.
  2. Stop the processor and push the fruits down. Turn the processor on to high speed once again and repeat this process until you have a very smooth and silky soft nice cream.
  3. You may serve it immediately or if you want a lovely scoop-able nice cream, transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze it for another hour.
  4. Serve, topped with the spice-roasted pineapple, crushed ginger nut biscuits, and enjoy!

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

Spice-roasted Pineapple Nice Cream

By all means, feel free to get loose with this recipe and try out other fruits that you can play around with for a guilt-free vegan nice cream to stay cool this summer!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2018: Jialing Mew

Mango Pudding with Coconut Sago

Happy Auguest everyone! I’m back for my fourth year running, and I’ll be taking over Amcarmen’s Kitchen with two South-East Asian inspired breakfast recipes this week. For once, Allison has chosen a theme that I could easily get on board with (those of you who suffered through 2016’s vegan Auguest with me know my pain). But thanks to my mom I have been a professional breakfast-eater since 1991, so trust me when I say that THIS is my area of expertise! If you don’t believe me, ask the former breakfast-skippers at my office who were inspired by my morning meals 😉

The great thing about breakfast is that it can be whatever you want it to be: simple or complex, savoury or sweet, hot or cold, vegan food or normal people food… I could go on. So for today’s recipe I’ll be sharing one of my favourite breakfasts to eat during summer weekdays, though it can be enjoyed at any time of the year. I like to prepare this on Sunday so that I (and my boyfriend/colleagues/innocent bystanders) stay safe from my hangriness for the rest of the week.

Throwing it back to 2016 with a vegan (you heard me!) recipe where we start out with…

Boiling coconut milk.

Classic.

Mango Pudding with Coconut Sago

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME  | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup fresh mango, finely diced
  • 1 can lychees drained, reserve syrup

For the Mango Pudding

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup reserved lychee syrup
  • 2 tsp agar agar powder (check your local Asian supermarket)

For the Coconut Sago

  • 2 & 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup reserved lychee syrup
  • 1/2 cup tapioca pearls (sago)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Optional

  • Coconut flakes
  • Fresh Mango chunks

METHOD

  1. Set aside 6 lychees to garnish. Chop remaining lychees into smaller pieces. Divide chopped mango and lychee between 6 glasses or containers. Set aside.
  2. Mango Pudding: Purée 2 cups frozen mango with 1/4 cup reserved lychee syrup until smooth.
  3. On medium heat in a sauce pan, combine agar agar powder and 2 cups coconut milk, stirring until the mixture boils.
  4. Remove pan from stovetop and stir in the mango purée, making sure the mixture is well combined.
  5. Divide mixture between the 6 glasses, carefully pouring to cover the fruit chunks. Place in refrigerator to set while making the coconut sago.
  6. Coconut Sago: Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring constantly until tapioca pearls have absorbed most of the liquid and doubled in size – approximately half an hour, depending on your stove.
  7. Take the mango pudding out from the fridge and spoon the tapioca into each glass, then top with the remaining whole lychees, and optional coconut flakes and mango chunks.
  8. Serve immediately if you’d like it warm, or return to the fridge to chill for at least an hour for a more summer-appropriate dish!

Mango Pudding with Coconut Sago

Mango Pudding with Coconut Sago

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2018 | jialingmew

Enjoy x

– Jialing