Lemon Asparagus, A Barrowed Recipe

>> March 20, 2012

Asparagus and I, we have a love affair. But like any other love affairs, it gets tiring at some point. Frying and steaming doesn't excite me anymore. But thanks to Two-Tarts, the affair's been ignited once more with this lovely and uber-easy asparagus preparation. Yumminess guaranteed!

Ingredients :
- thin asparagus
- 1 medium sized lemon
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- slices of orange (optional)

1. Thinly slice the lemon, make about 6-8 slices. You can add about 3 slices of oranges too just for added flavor. Arrange it in a baking pan.
2. Wash the asparagus thoroughly and drizzle it with olive oil and coat it evenly.
3. Arrange the asparagus on top of the lemon and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Then off to the oven and let it sit there for a few minutes on high heat, until roasted.

The flavor of lemon (and oranges) seeps in the asparagus as it broils.


The Green Monster Drink

>> March 12, 2012

In the hopes to free my belly from gathering fats, I've been thinking of how I can lessen my carbo intake. It all started with my beach bod dreams. I dream of having nice toned arms and legs, with a fat-free, well-defined tummy. So many summers has passed, and summer's yet here again - and here I am, still dreaming :P.

Realistically speaking, I'm not aiming for fat-free tummy, it's just close to impossible specially that my only regular work out is to mop the floor, wash dishes and scrub the bathroom. Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to give it a try for as long as I'm not starving myself. To start my carbo cut down, I said I'm not going to eat carbo loaded breakfast... except when I want to take nice breakfast photos of my own cooking :P.

Today, I tried the Green Monster drink. I got this idea from a presentation I was testing a few weeks ago and got curious what it would taste like.

The Green Monster!
- 2 handful of fresh spinach leaves, plucked and washed thoroughly
- 1 medium size banana, sliced
- 1 medium size apple, chopped
- 1 peeled orange
- 20-30 pcs. seedless green grapes (or whatever you can get)
- 1 cup water
- some ice cubes (optional)
- 1 Tbsp honey (optional)

1. Dunk everything in your blender.
(my blender apparently is not powerful so I had to dunk it gradually).

Add more water if you think it's too thick. If you think it's not sweet enough, add some honey.

I have never blended spinach in a drink before so it felt weird to me by just looking at it, and was a bit scared to taste it. But I'm happy it turned out to be yummy! I finished the glass and kept the rest in the fridge later when I feel hungry :P.

My cat however, thinks otherwise... (click to get the story).


Rose Flavoured Jelly with Black Currants and Strawberries

>> March 7, 2012

OK just an FYI - the normal gelatin (Jell-O for example) we know and we grew up with is NOT vegetarian. Pardon my ignorance but I thought it was :P. So I'm telling now and don't be a victim like me :P.

I used to make gelatin sweetened and mixed with milk, then pour it on pineapple chunks or fruit cocktail and chill. Today, I thought it would be nice to make it a little bit more elegant and romantic. I checked my fridge and I still have black currants and strawberries from the Saturday Market so I figured it would be a nice touch rather than using canned fruits.

- powdered gelatin (for vegetarian, use Agar-Agar)
- sugar
- rose water flavour
- black currants
- strawberries

1. Prepare the gelatin according to the instruction in the box. Normally, it's just dissolved in hot water.
2. Add sugar according to your taste. Add about 3 drops of rose water flavour.
(Note : You can use any flavour you wish like vanilla, pandan or almond, just make sure it matches whatever you dunk in the gelatin.)
3. Get a good looking glass and pour the gelatin mixture.

4. Here's the tricky part:

a. You can either dunk your stuff all together, or
b. You can wait a bit longer, let the gelatin slowly set as it cools down, and then carefully dip the fruits, pushing them to the bottom, suspended at the middle, or wherever you want them when the gelatin is partly set. I do this because when i dunk everything together, the fruits either floats or settle at the bottom. But be careful not to wait to long because the gelatin might firm up and you can no longer push down stuff without breaking the form.

5. Chill in the fridge and serve!


Bitter Gourd In Mashed Tofu and Tomatoes

>> March 1, 2012

My husband asked me a few days ago if I knew any vegan recipe using bitter gourd. It wasn't really his favorite but he'd like to share the recipe in reddit because there's a post asking about it.

When I was young, the only use of bitter gourd to me was just for art work. I slice the bottom, dip the tip in water color, and make nice prints on white paper. But as I get older, I developed a relationship with vegetables I would never eat in my childhood. One of which is the bitter gourd or amplaya in Tagalog. It wouldn't be named bitter if it wasn't for its reputation, I suppose. I tell you it's  bitter as hell and I don't think I know any child who likes it, not even much of adults. But I guess you just have to prepare and cook it right to be likeable.

The secret to bitter gourd is to rub it with salt, let it sit for a while, and then rinse. Some people soak it in salt water, but rubbing works for me. This makes the bitterness milder. I love bitter gourd with eggs and tomatoes, but since Mark's requested vegan, I experimented today with mashed tofu. Here it goes.

- firm tofu, halved
- 2 pcs ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium sized bitter gourd
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. white sugar (optional)

1. Cut the bitter gourd in 3 parts, and then lengthwise. Remove the white middle flesh by scraping it with a spoon.
2. Rub it with a good amount of salt and set aside for 15 minutes. This will make the bitter taste milder.
3. Divide the firm tofu in to two. Mash half of it with your hand, but not too much because it's nice when it's a bit chunky. Refrigerate the other half.
4. Rinse the bitter gourd and slice it cross-wise, making like little Cs, but not too thick.
5. Heat oil in a frying pan. Sautee onions until it's soft. Add in the garlic. Sautee til it's golden brown.
6. Toss in the mashed tofu and fry it for about 3 minutes.
7. Toss in the bitter gourd. Mix it altogether until the bitter gourd is soft and cooked. I personally like it al dente.
8. Add tomatoes and continue cooking. I added the tomatoes last because I like it half cooked and still juicy. But you may add tomatoes before the bitter gourd.
9. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce for flavor. Add some salt and pepper according to your taste.
10. Add about a teaspoon of white sugar, but this is perfectly optional. I just like a bitter-sweet twist.

Makes 2 servings. Best served with steamed white rice.


Bubble Blahs

I work and live at night time. I am a person deprived of natural light. I rarely cook in the morning as I'm almost always asleep, else busy with house chores. As much as I love natural light in my photography, I'm afraid I don't usually have that luxury, unless I sacrifice my sleep, or make an effort to stay up longer during the day to do a cooking + photo session. So I depend on my flash, and sometimes, available light from my fluorescent bulbs. Although, in my opinion, nothing beats the natural light, I am, so far, satisfied with my shots using my flash that I learned to love.

I always look forward to the weekends for some sunlight.

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