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

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

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

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Hello Everyone! Just about 2 weeks ago, I went on a road trip with a few of my workmates for a weekend away to Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, specifically to the cities of Pagudpud and Vigan. Even though it was a stressful and quick trip, we had a lot of fun. I say stressful because literally right after work on the Friday, we made our way into the city to catch our private van. We drove through the night and arrived at Paoay before dawn.

We had our breakfast and then started our tour sightseeing Paoay before a rough morning ahead. A morning I think some of us will never forget. A rough 4×4 journey through the Paoay Sand Dunes followed by sand boarding activities. My multiple bruises took over a week to heal!

4x4 Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Sur

We arrived in Pagudpud just in time for a sumptuous boodle fight lunch by the beach. Since were too full to go for a swim right after, and it was scorching hot as well, we decided to continue with the tour first to fulfil our #forthegram shots before returning to the Blue Lagoon for a refreshing afternoon ocean swim after a super hot day! After our swim, we headed on over to our accomodation for a much needed shower before dinner. Remember how I said earlier that we headed straight into the city after work? This was the first shower I had in more or less 36 hours.

Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud, Ilocos Notre

The next day we got up early and left our accomodation after breakfast to start making our way back south to the city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. We arrived in Vigan just before lunch and took endless amount of #forthegram photos along the famous Calle Crisologo – pre-war beauty of whitewashed walls, cobbled streets, and old Spanish houses; a town saved from destruction because of a love story. It is now home to souvenir shops and interesting lokal products. After a quick lunch and a shopping/pasalubong spree, we were back on the road for our journey home to Manila.

Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

One of the many musts when visiting the city of Vigan, or just the region of Ilocos, is the famous Ilocos Empanada. It is an orange-tinged fried dish traditionally stuffed with vegetables like unripe papaya, skinless Vigan Longganisa, and egg. Modern versions of the dish add bagnet*, mung beans, and even hotdogs into the stuffing.

So my takeaway from this trip was to recreate the famous Ilocos Empanada at home, with a twist. Those who know me personally, ever since towards the end of last year, I’ve been trying to cut down on my meat intake for various health reasons. Those of you who also know me, I can’t cut out all meat from my diet and go completely vegetarian. And so, my diet as of this moment, consists of only chicken and seafood as my main source of animal protein. Hopefully, I can completely rule out chicken by the end of this year and go pescatarian.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Of course, I can’t not taste the original empanada first before attempting to put a twist to the classic. So just that one time, I broke my diet and had one (maybe 2) for myself. Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, here are a few links that you should check out that helped me put this recipe together:

* Bagnet, locally also known as chicharon in Ilocano, is a Filipino dish of pork belly that has been boiled first and then deep fried until it is crispy. It is seasoned with garlic, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt during the boiling process.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS** | COOKING TIME 6-8 MINS | MAKES 8 EMPANADAS

** Allow up to a minimum of 6 hours or up to 24 hours for freezing time. Freezing the empanadas beforehand helps to keep them intact and prevent them from breaking apart during the frying process.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 1 & 1/4 cups rice flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp annatto oil***
  • 1 tsp salt

For the vegan longganisa mixture
(Note: This recipe makes around 16-18 small sausages)

  • 250g firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 & 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 & 1/2 cups dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and minced (or any other mushroom)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 & 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling

  • 8 small free range eggs
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium-sized unripe papaya, shredded
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, shredded
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, diced
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vegan longganisa mixture
  • Cooking oil, for frying

*** The main purpose of using annatto oil is to provide colour to different dishes to make it more visually appealing. Since annatto oil is not always available in grocery stores, learning how to make it will surely be beneficial to you. Here are the details to get your started:

For the annatto oil

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, and corn oil can also be used)

METHOD

  1. Annatto Oil: Combine the annatto seeds and olive oil in a small saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium.
  2. When bubbles start to form around the annatto seeds, turn the heat off and let the seeds soak in the oil for a minute or two. Do not overcook the seeds as this will produce a bitter taste.
  3. Use a strainer to filter-out the annatto seeds and transfer to a heat proof bowl. Set aside to cool down.
  4. Empanada Dough: Add the water, salt, and annatto oil in a medium-sized non-stick frying pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  5. Once simmering, add the rice flour all at once and mix using a wooden spoon, until all the liquid is absorbed and and dough starts to form. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  6. Once completely cooled, knead until you get a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 8 equally-sized balls. Cover with cling wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
  7. Vegan Longganisa: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the breadcrumbs. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes. Even though it’s not stated in the ingredients list, I ended up adding some chilli powder to the mixture for an extra kick of spice.
  8. Add the breadcrumbs to the mixture. Add more depending on the firmness you want to achieve. At this point, you can shape the mixture into sausages, but since we’ll be using them for the empanada filling, we won’t be needing to shape them.

Vegan Longganisa

  1. Empanada Filling: Add a tablespoon of coconut oil into a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic until golden brown, about 30 seconds, before adding the diced onion. Cook for a further minute until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the tofu-mushroom mixture to the pan and stir-fry until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool down completely.
  3. Prepare the unripe papaya and carrots in a separate bowl.
  4. Assembly: Place the dough ball between two sheets of plastic cling wrap to prevent it from sticking to your counter-top and rolling pin. Roll it out nice and thinly.
  5. Fill with the shredded unripe papaya and carrots, together with the vegan longganisa. Arrange them so that they create a well in the middle. Crack one egg into the well.
  6. Fold the dough over and seal the edges by pinching it using your fingers or a fork. Transfer into a tupperware lined with parchment paper to prevent the empanadas sticking to each other.
  7. Repeat for the remaining dough. Should make about 8 small or 4 large empanadas.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

  1. Cook & Serve: Deep fry until golden brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once done, transfer to a wire rack and strain any excess grease from the empanadas. You can fry the empanadas longer if you prefer your egg to be cooked more, as long as you don’t burn the empanadas. I personally like my eggs runny.
  2. Enjoy with your favourite spicy coconut vinegar or of course, with some delicious Ilocos-made vinegar.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Note:

  • You will most definitely end up with a lot of leftover sautéed tofu & mushroom and shredded veggies.
    • Shredded Veggies: You can make a delicious Thai Papaya Salad with it and serve it with anything fried! My choice would be to serve it with a humble portion of fried fish.
    • Sautéed Tofu & Mushroom: Shape the leftovers into sausages and freeze. Pan-fry them for 3-5 minutes before serving.
  • If you want to make this dish completely vegan, omit the egg from the recipe.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

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

Auguest 2019: Ferreli Virtudazo

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

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

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

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

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

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

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

Recipe adapted from:

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork”

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

INGREDIENTS

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

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

METHOD

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

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork” Sliders

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

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

Vegetarian “Pulled Pork” Sliders

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Ferreli Virtudazo

BON APPÉTIT

– Ferreli Virtudazo

myTaste.com

Asian-inspired Vegetarian Eggs Benedict

Asian-inspired Vegetarian Eggs Benedict

Hello Everyone! I hope everyone has had a good start to the week so far, and of course had a great weekend celebrating Mother’s Day! We celebrated by having a delicious brunch at Le Keris (again), as it is our new favourite go-to restaurant for fine dining quality food that’s super affordable. Other than that, the week hasn’t been all that exciting but at least I have the day off to look forward to tomorrow! It’s a public holiday for the first day of Ramadhan here in Brunei and I’m probably going to spend the day updating and planning Amcarmen’s Kitchen, and also whip up a storm in the kitchen – this is, if I don’t procrastinate or fall lazy by midday *cheeky grin*

Last week I mentioned how versatile one can get with a classic Eggs Benedict dish, and I also said that I will be covering the as many options as I can for this month of May. Tonight, I will be sharing an Asian-inspired Vegetarian Eggs Benny with everyone. I drew inspiration from Jenessa over on Jenessa’s Dinners so be sure to drop a visit to her site before continuing on with the recipe below!

Crispy firm tofu, topped with deliciously soft sautéed shimeji mushies in ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, accompanied with some Asian greens and pan-fried marinated eggplant in a sesame oil mixture, tied together with liquid gold and a tom yum hollandaise sauce – if this didn’t make your mouth water, then don’t talk to me. Of course, if you’re going to try this recipe out, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the ingredients I’ve chosen, or the type of cuisine that inspired this dish, pick your favourite veggies and cuisine to fuse together and I’m almost certain that you’ll come up with something just as (guilt-free) indulgent.

Asian-inspired Vegetarian Eggs Benedict Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

For the eggs benedict

  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 3 medium-size eggplant, sliced thinly lenghtwise
  • 3 pcs firm tofu
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 stalks lemongras, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch bok choy
  • 1 pack (250g) fresh shimeji mushrooms
  • Sesame oil
  • Thumb-sized fresh ginger, peeled and grates

For the tom yum hollandaise sauce

  • 3 large free range eggs, yolks separated
  • 175g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp tom yum paste*
  • Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

*Adjust to your level of spice likeness

METHOD

  1. Crispy Tofu: Line a plate with a paper towel and set the tofu on top. Set a small plate on top of the tofu and weigh it down with something heavy, pressing to absorb the liquid – about 15 minutes. Remove the weight and drain off the excess liquid. Pat the tofu dry with more paper towels.
  2. Heat about a quarter cup of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high until the oil shimmers. It should not smoke. If you see a wisp of smoke, lower the heat slightly and immediately proceed with adding the tofu. Fry until all sides are golden and crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Once done, place on a cooling rack. Set aside.
  3. Vegetables: In the same frying pan, discard excess oil, leaving about a tablespoon. Sauté the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass until fragrant. Transfer half of the sautéed mixture to a small bowl with sesame oil.
  4. Add the shimeji mushrooms to the frying pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with a touch of salt and ground black pepper to taste. Once done, set aside.
  5. Brush the sesame oil mixture on each side of the eggplant slices and place in the frying pan to cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  6. While the mushies and eggplants are going, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and cook the bok choy for about 2 minutes. Once done, transfer to an iced water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
  7. Hollandaise Sauce: While the balsamic reduction is underway and slowly simmering, start on the Hollandaise sauce. Place a heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan that is quarter-filled with water. Make sure that the bowl should fit snugly into the pan without touching the water (lift the bowl to check and remove some water if it does). Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to very low so the water is barely simmering (there should be almost no movement at all). It is important that the water is barely simmering while making the sauce – if it is too hot, the egg yolks will cook too much and the sauce will curdle.
  8. Place the egg yolks and the 2 tablespoons of water in the heatproof bowl and place over the pan. Whisk the mixture constantly for 3 minutes or until it is thick and pale, has doubled in volume and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted.
  9. Add the butter a cube at a time, whisking constantly and adding another cube when the previous one is incorporated completely (about 10 minutes to add it all in). If butter is added too quickly, it won’t mix easily with the egg yolks or the sauce may lose volume. At the same time, it is important that the butter is at room temperature and added a cube at a time, so that it doesn’t take too long to be incorporated – if the sauce cooks for too long, it can curdle.
  10. Remove the bowl from the pan and place on a heatproof surface. The cooked sauce should have the consistency of very lightly whisked thickened cream. Whisk in the lemon juice, tom yum paste, fresh thyme leaves, and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Poached Eggs: Bring small saucepan of water to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low-medium – the water should be just simmering. Add in the vinegar and stir. Crack one egg into a small bowl and quickly, but gently pour it into the water. Repeat with the other egg. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes, but if you want it a bit more firm, it will take about 4 minutes. To check if they’re cooked right, carefully remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give the yolk a gentle push (you can tell just by your instincts if it is under or over – or perfect)!
  12. Assembly: Top the crispy tofu with the sautéed mushies, followed by the poached egg. Place the bok choy to the side together with rolled slices of the eggplant. Drizzle the poached egg with a generous spoonful of the tom yum hollandaise sauce, with a bit of extra tom yum paste a top. Garnish with a pinch of toasted sesame seed. Serve and enjoy!

Asian-inspired Vegetarian Eggs Benedict

Asian-inspired Vegetarian Eggs Benedict

Of course you can plate it up any way you want, like incorporating the bok choy and eggplant slices into the stack. It’s up to you on where you creative plating skills will take you!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Risoni al Ratatouille

Risoni al Ratatouille

Risoni al Ratatouille

Hello Everyone! Today is the last day of Pasta Month; sad to be ending as I actually have a whole lot more pasta dishes that I want to try out, but also happy to move onto a new theme for next month! Just a heads up though – the likelihood of a theme not happening is quite possible. I did have a theme in mind, and I’ve already prepared and cooked two dishes for it in advanced, the only problem is getting two more made for next month’s theme is quite unlikely. I say this because I am heading off to the Philippines on Saturday for about a month! Because of that, I probably won’t have time to cook. I also will not be sure if I will have Internet connection during my stay there so the likelihood of me uploading content for the month of July might not happen as well. So I guess I’ll just see how it goes – if posting on my blog is a problem, then you can follow me over on Instagram @amcarmenskitchen to follow my food journey while I am in the Philippines – I’ll make sure to keep that up to speed 🙂

Anyway, so okay, the dish is not quite a Ratatouille (I just thought naming it for this post would make it sounds fancier than it looks, hehe) – more like it’s inspired by some of the vegetables used to make a ratatouille *cheeky grin* but nonetheless, it still tastes pretty good for something that I just “whipped up” with the ingredients lying in the fridge and the pantry. You can bulk this dish up by adding meat or seafood if you wish, but I decided to keep this dish vegetarian.

Risoni al Ratatouille Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g risoni, or other shaped pasta
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chilies, sliced
  • 2 medium-szied Lebanese eggplants, sliced into 1-inch thick chunks and then quartered
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into 1-inch thick chunks and then quartered
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 punnet (125g) cherry tomato medley, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut into thirds
  • 1 tbsp baby capers, washed and drained
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil

METHOD

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the risoni pasta and cook according to packet instructions or until al dente (mine was about 11 minutes).
  2. While your pasta is cooking away, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the garlic and chilies until golden brown and fragrant, about a minute, and then add in the onions, cooking until soft for another minute or two.
  3. Add in the asparagus, together with the zucchini and eggplant, cooking until soft for about 6-7 minutes. Season with a bit of ground salt and black pepper. Add in the cherry tomatoes and leave to cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Lastly, add in the capers and then turn the heat off.
  4. Once the risoni is done, drain, and then return to the pot. Add in the stir-fried veggies to the pot with the risoni and then give it a good mix.
  5. Divide the risoni equally into 6 portions and then top with a generous handful of  grate parmesan cheese and some ground black pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Risoni al Ratatouille

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Iku Wholefood

Iku Wholefood believe that nutritious food is essential for good health and vitality: Food that is natural, wholesome, authentic, freshly prepared and tasty. The style of graphic content that they want push through on Facebook and other social media platforms, are Natural & Organic – which as advised from the founder of Iku, a lot of green, and wood textures. This is to conceptually portray the message that all their foods are dairy free, additive free, preservative free, animal free, and free from genetic modification.

Iku Wholefood Context


Examples of graphic works that I have created for Facebook and Instagram:
(Click on the images to see an enlarged version of the graphics)

Iku Wholefood: Myth Iku Wholefood: Fast, Healthy Food Iku Wholefood: Well Being Iku Wholefood: Ken Israel
Iku Wholefood: Breakfast Iku Wholefood: Raw or Cooked? Iku Wholefood: Quotes BW Richardson Iku Wholefood: Beans
Iku Wholefood: Food was created perfectly Iku Wholefood: What's your story? Iku Wholefood: Cold Pressed Juice Iku Wholefood: Balanced Diet

– Ally xx