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

Mee Goreng Mamak (Mamak-style Stir-Fried Noodles)

Mee Goreng Mamak (Mamak-style Stir-Fried Noodles)

Hello Everyone! We’re venturing forward on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey through Malaysia with a dish that’s very close to my heart. Now, you probably already know that there are countless recipes for mee goreng (fried noodles), that vary depending on its country or region of origin, but tonight in particular, I will be sharing a Mamak-style mee goreng dish; a staple of ours that we would always order when my family and I were at our favourite roti canai eatery.

Mee Goreng Mamak (Mamak-style Stir-Fried Noodles)

Mamak is a local word used to describe people of Indian-Muslim origins in Malaysia; and thus with these two cultures merging together created a unique dish known as Mee Goreng Mamak, or in English, Mamak-style Stir-Fried Noodles. It is normally made with fresh egg noodles, boiled potatoes, fried tofu, and Chinese greens of choice that is tossed in a delicious sauce, but you can also bulk it up with other proteins such as chicken, squid, or seafood. Pork and beef are typically avoided for obvious reasons.

If you’re looking for a way to change up your weeknight noodle meals, then this is a recipe you should definitely try out. It’s quick, easy, and made with ingredients that you can easily source at your local market or grocer. Mee Goreng Mamak is a delicious blend of spicy, savoury, sweet, tangy, smoky (from all that wok hay), and sticky flavours in a single dish. The recipe that I will be sharing tonight is perfect for ovo-vegetarians.

Mee Goreng Mamak (Mamak-style Stir-Fried Noodles) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sambal paste
  • 2 tsp white granulated sugar

For the noodles

  • 2 x 500g packs fresh yellow noodles, washed and drained*
  • 4 pcs firm tofu, fried and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium-sized cooked potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Spring onion
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • Handful of celery leaves
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • Oil, for cooking
  • Chinese cabbage, blanched
  • Red pepper, sliced
  • Lemon wedges, optional

*Fresh yellow noodles are usually oiled. Rinse it in cold water to loosen up the threads and remove part of the oil, or you can quickly blanch it in hot water and drain before using.

METHOD

  1. Sauce: In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Mee Goreng Mamak: Add oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the garlic and white/light green part of the spring onion and sauté until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the yellow noodles and fry for about a minute or two. Push the noodles to the side and add the eggs. Let the eggs cook a little to set and then mix it into the noodles.
  4. Add the fried tofu, cooked potatoes, celery leaves, and the sauce mixture to the noodles. Toss until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce, frying for about 3 to 4 minutes. Try not to mix too hard or it will break up the noodles into tiny threads.
  5. Add the remaining spring onion and bean sprouts. Give it another quick toss, about a minute or so for the bean sprouts to cook.
  6. Once done, transfer to individual serving plates and serve with red peppers and Chinese cabbage (or any greens of your choice). Garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and enjoy immediately while hot!

1933

1934

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Tahu Telur (Indonesian Tofu Omelette)

Hello Everyone! So if you saw my recipe yesterday for Homemade Egg Tofu, you’ll know that I’m back with a recipe that uses them in the dish that I will be sharing tonight.

Back in my very first post in May when we first landed in Indonesia for our Flavours of Southeast journey, I mentioned that there was this Indonesian restaurant in Brunei that my family and I would always go to on a weekly basis. One of the dishes that we would always order is Tahu Telur, or in English, Indonesian Tofu Omelette. It is an inexpensive and humble dish that originated from East Java, and although meatless, it is packed with protein from the eggs and tofu, making it perfect for those on a ovo-vegetarian diet. The dish may seem intimidating in terms of its preparation, but trust me, it doesn’t require much skill and is actually easy to put together. It’s also worth it!

Tahu Telur (Indonesian Tofu Omelette)

What makes this tahu telur dish stand out from other omelettes out there is its tower-like structure. You can also find flat versions of this dish, but it’s not as exciting and dynamic as a vertical omelette in my opinion. To achieve this tower, you’ll need a ring mold to cook the eggs and tofu in. If you do not have a ring mold, you can DIY one from a tin can that is at least 4 inches in diameter and 5 inches high. This is what I did when I could not seem to find ring molds in stores; and it worked just as good!

When fried the eggs are fluffy and crispy on the outside, but soft and moist on the inside when you cut through it due to the tofu that’s mixed in it. You can top it with various fresh vegetables of your choice to add a different crunch that’s refreshing to the palette. The dish is then brought together with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce that you can easily adjust to suit your liking.

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

INGREDIENTS

For the tauhu telur

  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Homemade egg tofu*, deep fried
  • Cooking oil

*I used a quarter serving of this recipe, and cut them into 8 rectangular pieces.

For the peanut sauce

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 red chillies
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 tbsp kicap manis
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp peanut butter

To garnish

  • Blanched bean sprouts
  • Fresh red chillies, chopped
  • Spring onion

METHOD

  1. Peanut Sauce: In a small pan, fry the garlic cloves and chillies until soft and browned. Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until combined.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced and slightly thickened. You may want to add more kicap manis at this point to darken the colour of the sauce. Once done, remove from the heat and set aside. Reheat later if needed.
  3. Tauhu Telur: Beat the eggs, tapioca flour, and salt together until well combined. Dissolve as much of the flour as possible.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat over medium-high, enough oil so that you are able to scoop up using a ladle, I used about 6 to 8 cups. Place the ring mold in the center of the pan and ladle the hot oil over the mold to prevent sticking while cooking.
  5. Pour about a third of the egg mixture into the ring mold and let it cook for about 30 to 45 seconds. Add half of the deep fried egg tofu to the eggs and cook for a further 30 seconds, ladling hot oil into the mold.
  6. Add another third of the egg mixture and top with the remaining egg tofu. Ladle more hot oil into the mold, and then add the remaining egg mixture on top.
  7. Reduce the heat down to medium and cook by continuously ladling hot oil on top of the mixture. Remove the oil if it stops sizzling and pour hot oil on top, repeating until golden brown in colour, about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the egg is cooked enough that it can hold its shape upright.
  8. Using a knife, gently scrape the inner side of the mold to loosen the egg. Use tongs to slowly and gently pull the mold away from the egg. Continue to cook until the sides are golden brown in colour.
  9. Once done, remove from the pan and shake off any excess oil. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any more excess grease.
  10. Transfer to a serving plate with the peanut sauce, and top with the blanched bean sprouts, fresh chillies, and spring onion. Enjoy!

Tahu Telur (Indonesian Tofu Omelette)

1909

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Hello everyone! Oh where did the days go; how is it that we’re already into the fifth month of 2021? Well, as you all know, a new month means we’re packing up and saying goodbye (for now) to the Philippines to venture on to our next country on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey.

Last year, I was looking forward to travelling to Indonesia, Bali to be exact, for the very first time. I had my itinerary all planned out, jam-packed with activities down to the last minute. I signed up for an authentic cooking class that included a market and Balinese rice terrace tour. All of that was unfortunately cancelled due to the global pandemic. Our family trip was supposed to be in early April of 2020, and by mid-March our country had already gone into a national enhanced community quarantine that is still being implemented to this present day. Yes, since the later part of 2020 did quarantine restrictions ease, but we’re nevertheless, still in quarantine.

Even if I haven’t had the chance to travel to Indonesia just yet, I’ve experienced authentic Indonesian cuisine almost on a weekly basis when I was living in Brunei. Every Saturday evening after attending anticipated mass, we (my Mom, my sister, and myself) would go to our favourite Indonesian restaurant and order our favourite dishes such as nasi goreng, ayam penyet, satay, and tahu telur to name a few. I even had Indonesian food regularly when I was living in Australia; one place in particular on Kensington street, near UNSW’s main campus, that I would line up for their delicious ayam or ikan bakar (grilled chicken/fish).

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Tonight, I will be sharing a classic favourite, nasi goreng. Nasi Goreng is considered the national dish of Indonesia, and literally translates to fried rice . It is a rice dish cooked with meat or seafood, and vegetables, however, there is no single defined recipe for it. Its composition and preparation varies greatly from household to household in all regions where the dish is native to. The key distinction though to nasi goreng is its smoky aroma, from the wok hay* as it’s fried, and the caramelised yet savoury undertones of flavour from the kecap manis**.

The version of nasi goreng that I will be sharing tonight is actually called Nasi Goreng Santri, which is vegetarian fried rice. While there are no specific vegetables that you can use to make up an authentic Indonesian vegetarian fried rice, I decided to make mine with tofu and bean sprouts. Feel free to bulk it up with your choice of vegetables to your liking. You can’t skip the fried sunny side up egg as nasi goreng is traditionally served with it to make it a complete meal.

You also cannot serve nasi goreng without a sambal of some sort on the side. I decided to make a simple sambal oelek which is a raw Indonesian chilli paste made of red chillies, vinegar, and salt. The word sambal is an Indonesian word referring to a sauce made primarily with chili peppers, while oelek refers to a mortar and pestle. Therefore, sambal oelek is Indonesian for a chilli sauce ground with a mortar and pestle.

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the nasi goreng

  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely minced
  • 1 stalk scallion (white part only), chopped
  • 3 pcs firm tofu, fried and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cooked white rice, day old and cold
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis

If you can’t find kecap manis at your local grocers, or don’t have any readily available in your pantry, you can simply make your own! Just combine 1/4 cup ordinary soy sauce and 1/4 cup brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it becomes maple syrup-like in consistency. As it cools, the mixture will thicken more.

For the sambal oelek

  • 10 pcs red bird’s eye chillies, stems removed
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt

To serve with

  • Bok choy, blanched
  • Crispy fried shallots/onions
  • Sambal oelek
  • Scallion (green parts), chopped
  • Sunny side up egg

METHOD

  1. Sambal Oelek: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the red chillies they start to break down. Make sure not to pound too much; leave the chillies a bit coarse, not a fine paste.
  2. Add the vinegar and salt, and using a spoon, mix together until the salt has dissolved. Transfer to a small serving bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Nasi Goreng: Add oil to a large pan over high heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and red chillies to the pan and sauté until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and scallions, continuing to sauté for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Add the fried tofu and sauté for about a minute or two before adding the bean sprouts. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Cook for a further minute or two.
  5. Add the cooked rice and mix well, breaking up any remaining clumps of rice. Add the kecap manis and cook, stirring constantly to ensure that every single grain of rice is coated with the sweet soy sauce and start to caramelise. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Once the rice is done, plate up and top with garnishes of choice, I went with crispy fried shallots/onions, and green scallions. Serve with the sambal oelek, blanched bok choy, and sunny side up egg***. Enjoy!

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Notes:

  • *‘Wok hay’ is Cantonese phrase used to describe a particular essence and aroma that is created in a dish when authentic stir-frying is performed. ‘Hay’ means energy or breath; therefore, ‘wok hay’ means “the energy or breath of a wok”.
  • **Kecap manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Compared to mildly salty regular soy sauce, the sweet soy sauce has a slightly thicker consistency, and tastes much sweeter.
  • ***Omit the egg if you want to make this dish vegan-friendly.

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and No Ham

Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and No Ham

Hello Everyone! I’ve been wanting to do my own take on Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham for Amcarmen’s Kitchen ever since last year. I was super excited when I realised that I could tackle this idea for this month, but then quickly questioned, what am I going to do about the ‘ham’ part of this recipe?

For those of you who don’t know me personally, or if you haven’t picked it up from the recipes I have been sharing since the beginning of the year, I’ve been slowly cutting meat out from my diet. Since the second half of last year, I’ve managed to cut both beef and pork from my diet (with very rare relapses – I can’t avoid a good beef kaldereta during work events). I tried cutting out chicken from my diet this year too and attempted a pescatarian diet, but that didn’t quite work out. Nonetheless, I’ve strictly kept the recipes I’ve been uploading on the blog to pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan.

Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and No Ham

Mini tangent aside and back on to tonight’s recipe; after having spent countless hours on the Internet searching for how I could adapt Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham without the ham, I came across Jenny’s Green Eggs, No Ham over on Jenny Can Cook.

Breakfast can’t get any healthier than this! This recipe for Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and No Ham has three servings of green vegetables to boost your immune system, combined with the fluffiest, moist, flavorful, and evenly cooked scrambled eggs for protein – all in one single meal!

The best thing about this recipe is that you can get creative with the greens. Choose what’s cheap and local to your area; what’s in season and most importantly, your favourite greens to eat!

Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and No Ham Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large free-range eggs
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup kale leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. In a small bowl, beat the eggs together with the sesame oil and milk. Season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper then set aside.
  2. In a large non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high. Add the diced onion and cook until soft, about 1 minute. Then add in the broccoli and cook for a further minute or two. Season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Add in the kale leaves and give it a good mix before adding the spinach leaves in. Reduce the heat down to low and cover for about a minute to allow the leaves to wilt. Once wilted, transfer the cooked vegetables to a plate or bowl.
  4. Bring the heat back up to medium* and in the same frying pan, add the remaining olive oil. Pour the eggs into the pan and using a rubber spatula, begin pulling the cooked outer edges in towards the centre of the eggs. Uncooked eggs will flood the area you just pulled back while the cooked scrambled eggs will gather at the centre of the pan.
  5. When the eggs are about halfway cooked through, add the cooked vegetables back to the pan and continue pulling the uncooked eggs to the center of the pan.
  6. Turn off the heat when the eggs are 90% cooked. And transfer to a serving plate immediately. Perfectly cooked scrambled eggs are moist but not runny, with no crisp or brown edges.
  7. Garnish with some sliced red chillies, freshly ground black pepper, and a sprinkle of ground smoked paprika. Serve immediately with some toasted bread on the side if you desire. Enjoy!

Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and No Ham

* It’s important to leave the heat somewhere between medium-low and medium, so that it warms up but doesn’t get too hot. If the pan is too hot, the eggs will cook too quickly and become rubbery.

** If you plan on adding cheese to your eggs, add it in at this point. This will allow ample time for the cheese to melt and integrate into the eggs. Make sure that the cheese is shredded/prepared and set aside so you can add it to the eggs quickly.

Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and No Ham

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

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

Hello Everyone! Unfortunately it’s snap back to reality, (oh there goes gravity) for all (some?) of us. I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and New Year break, and y’all are ready to tackle what 2020 has in store for you! I’m going to keep the introduction short only because I saved a little something for last in this post for tonight. It has become a tradition that I do every beginning of year on the blog, for you guys to get the chance to know more about me on a personal level. So if you want to go ahead and read it, continue scrolling after you’ve had a read through the recipe of course!

Since towards the end of 2019, I have been slowly cutting down on my meat intake, specifically beef and pork (with very rare cheat/naughty days). I still ate chicken and seafood though and this year I am going to attempt to, if not completely cut out then, at least reduce my intake of chicken. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully go vegetarian, ever, but I think I can survive a couple of days a week of being completely vegetarian.

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

The original recipe by Rachael Ray over on Rachael Ray Mag, that inspired me to make and share this dish with you tonight is far from being vegetarian. I painfully ditched the ground beef and Italian sausages from the recipe and instead loaded the dish up with hearty and flavourful vegetables such as portobello or swiss brown mushrooms, eggplant, celery, and carrots. Just as delicious as Italian sausages *cries internally*! Of course, don’t forget to substitute the chicken stock out for veggie stock instead. However, if you’re a meat lover, then by all means go ahead and follow Rachael Ray’s recipe.

(Apologies, the intro ended up being much longer than I had anticipated when I said that I’d keep it short *cheeky grin*)

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4*

* Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a side dish or starter.

INGREDIENTS

For the soup

  • 250g Mafalde pasta**
  • 250g portobello or swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 1 can (400g) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups passata or tomato purée
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, sliced or minced
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 large Lebanese eggplant, diced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheese mixture

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, or crème fraîche
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

To garnish & serve with

  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Garlic bread, on the side

** Mafaldine, also known as Reginette or simply Mafalda or Mafalde, is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta. It is flat and wide, usually about 1cm in width, with wavy edges on both sides. It is prepared similarly to other ribbon-based pasta such as linguine and fettuccine. If not available in your local grocers, then by all means you can use lasagna sheets as stated in the original recipe, or any other shaped pasta.

METHOD

  1. Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until a few minutes shy of the package directions. In my case, package states 13 minutes, so I cooked them for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and then set aside.
  2. Cheese Mixture: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the mascarpone, parm, and cream together. Season with a touch of salt and then set aside.
  3. Soup: In a soup pot or heavy duty Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sliced onions and cook until soft, a further 30 to 45 seconds. Add the chopped celery stalks and carrots, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and eggplant in together with the dried thyme, dried bay leaves, and chipotle peppers. Cook for a further minute.
  4. Pour the canned tomatoes, passata, and vegetable stock over the sautéd vegetables, and give it a good stir. Reduce the heat down to medium-low. Cover and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Check and stir occasionally. After about 15 minutes, add the cooked Mafalde pasta to the pot and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve: Once done transfer to individual soup bowls. Top each serving with a fat dollop of the cheese mixture and garnish with basil leaves.
  6. Serve with hot, steamy, and crusty garlic bread on the side. I used leftover wholemeal bread slices that was sitting in our pantry and made a garlic-malunggay butter spread for it. Enjoy!

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

Spicy Chipotle Vegetarian Mafalde Soup

BON APPÉTIT

Now as promised at the beginning of this post:

Most people make resolutions and either keep them or forget about them after the first month. I personally have never made any resolutions ever only because, knowing myself, I’d never stick to them. It was only until recently (two years ago to be exact), that I started living by an intention in mind on how I would go about to tackle the year ahead. Last year, it was to:

Go with the flow. Force nothing. Let it happen.
Trusting that whichever way it goes, it’s for the best.

Sometimes I scare myself for how true my intention played out for the year. I entered 2019 with challenges I hadn’t overcome from the previous year, and in time, with this intention I had set, I overcame those challenges. It may not have turned out the way I had originally planned, but I believe that it was for the best.

You see, when I left my job in Brunei, it was because I had a job waiting for me in Australia. Unfortunately I fell short when it came to acquiring a visa to go and work there. With that, I gave up my opportunity to go to Australia. I decided to just go with the flow and see where I’d go next; maybe Australia wasn’t meant for me. Just yet.

I decided to find work here in the Philippines. It wasn’t easy. I was unemployed for 7-8 months and running on the little savings that I had to support not only myself, but my Mom and my sister. It was hard because we were basically starting from scratch having just moved away for good from Brunei. I was starting to fall into a bad place, mentally. I questioned myself and my abilities. I questioned why I couldn’t land a job. Every interview I went to had such promising things to say, not only about my skills and abilities, but my personality as well. But I always fell short in the end. There was always the better candidate. But by God’s grace, I finally landed a job after more than a hundred applications. Finally someone who believed in my capabilities rather than being threatened by them.

I was finally back on my feet. But nothing, nothing. Nothing could have prepared me for the ultimate challenge that was unexpectedly thrown at me. The heavens gained a warm and kind-hearted angel. That angel is Mother. I’m not going to get into much detail on this topic, but all I can say is that it wasn’t until this that I realised why I ended up not going to Australia for work and landed a job here instead. It was so that I could spend the remaining time my Mom had left in this world with her, by her side, up to her last breath.

Towards the end of 2019 (actually just about 2 weeks ago), I was scrolling through Facebook one day and came across this post that my cousin shared:

2020

It really resonated with me. God did make me strong for the challenges I faced this 2019. Even though losing a loved one, especially a mother, comes with so much pain, He has already blessed me with a very unexpected gift before 2019 ended. So I believe and trust that He will push through with His plans for me, to make me happy for 2020.

And now I also truly believe that ending up here in the Philippines instead of going to Australia, was the for the best.

My goal for 2020 is to be happy, no matter what.

– Ally xx

myTaste.com