Thai Corn Cakes at Thanying Thai Restaurant-Amara Hotel

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For Mr Vegan’s birthday, we wanted to try authentic Thai food and through our friend’s recommendation we heard that Thanying Thai Restaurant at Amara Hotel offers a vegetarian menu! We ordered the following dishes and each of them came promptly and was really delicious. We had papaya salad (less spicy) and tom yam soup (less spicy).

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Together with stir fry kai lian and green curry with mixed vegetables.

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Our favourite dishes of the night was the corn cakes and the brown curry with tofu! All in all, we spent about $179 for 6 person with a surprise birthday chocolate log cake from Brownice.

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Hopefully a vegan/vegetarian thai restaurant will open in Singapore soon. If you miss authentic thai food, you can try the lovely sauces and dressing we got from Mekhala.

Thanying Restaurant Amara Hotel

165 Tanjong Pagar Rd Amara Singapore, Singapore 088539

+65 6222 4688
Opening Hours
Daily
Lunch: 11.30am to 3pm
Dinner: 6.30pm to 10pm

Homemeals: Vegan Japanese Feast with homemade vegan soba sauce

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A couple of months back, we were craving for Japanese food and I decided to reference some recipes we picked up from our vegan cooking class in Kyoto, Japan last year and also some new ones from this amazing book called Cooking with Soy by Yoshiko Takeuchi. This book have so many mouth-watering recipes and the photography makes you want to eat japanese fusion vegan food everyday! Another thing I love about this book is how each recipe comes with photos of how it looks like. This was one of the key reasons why I was dying to get my hands on this book.

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Our guests were blown away by how tasty they all turned out to be for first attempts! They are really easy to whip up and just require some patience and of course lots of pretty dining-ware to make the experience more wholesome:P

Each guest had green tea soba with homemade vegan soba sauce (I made this a day before so that it can be served chilled), Hiyayakko cold silken tofu with chopped scallions and dark sauce. They also each had their own platter of oyster mushroom and shiitake mushroom kakiage dipped with green tea and himalayan pink salt, japanese sesame peanuts and black sesame miso I got from Isetan.

 Oyster Mushroom and Shiitake Mushroom Kakiage with Green Tea Salt (taken from Cooking with Soy Book)

Kakiage is a type of tempura made with different ingredients that have been sliced and mixed in tempura batter. Then a pancake-like shape is made when deep-frying. Traditionally tempura batter is made from flour, egg and water. It is very hard to make it crispy with the traditional batter and this recipe is not only vegan, gluten-free and super crispy!

Ingredients

2 packets of oyster mushroom, broken into mini bunch

1 packet of shiitake mushroom, stems removed

Batter

4 tablespoon brown rice or rice flour

4 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

80ml water

Neutral oil for frying (I used grapeseed)

Green tea salt 

1/2 teaspoon green tea powder

2 teaspoon himalayan pink salt

Method:

1. Mix the batter together and make sure you coat all the ingredients well with flour, otherwise oil will splash while frying. Add water and mix well.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. The oil will be ready when you drop a small piece of food into the oil and it floats to the surface straight away. If the food floats but gets burnt, the temperature is too high.

3. Push the mixture into oil and make fry until all edges of the kakiage becomes golden brown and then turn to cook the other side.

4. Rest on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil

5. To make tea salt, combine salt and tea powder

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This dish was the star of the night! We learnt it in Kyoto a year back and was thinking of re-creating this dish after seeing some fresh burdock stems in Isetan Japanese supermarket. It is super easy to whip up and the taste is DIVINE and savoury!

Kinpira (pan fried root vegetables)

Ingredients:

2 cups of Root vegetables (we used 2 sticks of burdock root and 3-4 carrots, julienned)

1 teaspoon of Sugar

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds ( we added 3 times more!)

1 teaspoon of mirin

1 teaspoon of oil

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

Method:

1. Cut vegetables into strings or in slices.

2. Cook them in a frying pan with oil (burdock needs a bit extra cooking time).

3. Add sugar and keep cooking until it is dry.

4. Add soy sauce and cook until liquid is cooked off, then add a dash of mirin to give moisture.

5. Cook off alcohol in mirin.

6. Turn off the heat and add sesame seeds and sesame oil

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If you ever see black sesame miso in Isetan or any Japanese market, please tell us! This one was specially flown in for a miso food festival and is one of the best miso we have ever tasted. It is such a pity we finished the whole box we bought and we are still thinking and craving for this yummy cold cucumber miso dip.

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Last but not least, I thought it will be great to end the night with a Japanese raw green tea cheese cake and surprisingly it tasted seriously good! It was one of my better raw cakes experiment:) Note that I did not use brazil nuts, figs and substituted it with almonds and dates instead. I cannot wait to create another japanese vegan feast again!

Vegan Thai Sauces and Dressings- Mekhala at Pasarbella, The Grandstand

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If there is one cuisine which we always find difficulties in satisfying our taste buds, it will be Thai food! Getting vegan Thai food in Singapore is literally non-existence unless you create your own sauce or if you double-check and triple check with Thai restaurants to eliminate all the fish sauces they typically use. Mekhala vegan Thai sauces and dressing is a dream come true for all vegans! I came up with some questions to ask the folks behind Mekhala and here are their replies:

1. Who founded Mekhala? When was it founded?

Mekhala was originally founded at the Asian Leadership Institute in Chiang Mai, Thailand, by Jang Phanthip Bauerle. Jang wanted organic and natural products for her clients and, being a vegan cook and a naturopath, began developing her own range. When Daphne Hedley, a family friend with a business background, came upon the products after returning to Asia with her husband, she and Jang decided to launch Mekhala as a brand in Singapore. Mekhala offers wholesome food and personal care products made from organic and natural ingredients sourced from farms in Northern Thailand. All creations are vegan and free from artificial additives, and Mekhala is dedicated to fostering sustainable relationships with suppliers, customers and the local community.

2. What are the products you guys carry currently?

We carry 2 distinct product ranges aimed at encouraging a wholesome, natural lifestyle: an Asian-influenced organic/natural fine food range and a natural personal care range that is free from chemicals such as SLS and parabens.

The food range includes some Asian-inspired salad dressings, Asian condiments (cooking and dipping sauces/pastes), Thai curry pastes, spreads, oils/seasonings (eg organic coconut oil and Himalayan pink salt) and 4 different types of unpolished organic Thai mountain-grain rice. All of them are made from organic and natural ingredients and are highly versatile.

The majority of our personal care items belong either the anti-oxidant-rich Black Rice  range and the nourishing/moisturising Young Rice Milk range. Both ranges comprise a shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, body wash or shower gel and handmade soap. On top of these, we also have a very popular coconut soap that resembles a half-coconut! It’s got a creamy coconut soap on the inside and has a “husk” that is actually a cinnamon turmeric scrub. Our best-selling Tamarind Facial Cleanser, made with organic tamarind and honey, rounds up the personal care range.

3. What was the first product produced?

Mekhala first started off with the Black Rice and Young Rice Milk shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and soaps, coconut soap, 4 types of organic rice and a tea range, which we have now discontinued.

4. What is your best-selling product?

Our Coriander Ginger Dressing. We launched it in mid-July, in conjunction with our packaging revamp, and it’s been flying off the shelves ever since! It is absolutely bursting with flavours of coriander, ginger and lime and is great as a salad dressing, pour-over sauce or dipping sauce – no cooking required!

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5. Tell me more about the ingredients you guys use which is different from other brand?

Instead of table salt, refined white sugar and vegetable oil, we use only Himalayan Pink Salt, coconut sugar and rice bran oil in our products.

Himalayan Pink Salt are widely acknowledged to be the purest, cleanest, most mineral-rich salt on earth and gets its pink hue from the 84 different types of beneficial elements and minerals that it contains. We choose to use coconut sugar because it is a clean, unrefined sugar that has not been chemically-treated or bleached, unlike regular white sugar. Lastly, rice bran oil is rich in Vitamin E and anti-oxidants and has been shown to improve cholesterol levels.

6. Where are the sauces and dressings made currently? And how big or small is the team?

They are all made in our small factory in Chiang Mai, located near the retreat at which Mekhala was founded. We have a team of 5 in Thailand that is in charge of manufacturing our beautiful products as well as building close relationships with the farmers and other suppliers from whom we source our ingredients. We have recently started selling in Thailand so they are now in charge of liaising with our retailers too!

Our Singapore side is also 5-strong at the moment, including our sales staff. Our Singapore and Thailand teams work very closely together, sharing ideas on both production and marketing – thank goodness for Skype and Google Hangouts!

7. How do you guys get inspirations for new flavours?

For a start, being based in Singapore and Thailand with an eclectic mix of Thai, Singaporean/Chinese, American & Burmese Shan team members, we are very fortunate to have a wealth of flavours and flavour combinations to tap into. We also get inspired by produce we see at the local Chiang Mai markets and at the farms that we visit, dishes from our childhood, television shows, our travels, restaurants we eat out at, etc. Customers at our Pasarbella shop sometimes suggest product ideas to us and tell us what type of products they want to see, which is very valuable feedback for us.

8. Is there a special tip to use your products?

Look past their categories/names and use them in as many ways as you can think of as they are very, very versatile! For example, one of our best-sellers is a Miso Lime Chilli Dressing that is meant to be a salad dressing, but it is also great as a stir-fry sauce for leafy greens, such as kangkong and spinach, as well as a marinade. We regularly post recipes on our website, Facebook and Instagram and hopefully these inspire customers to come up with their own usage ideas.

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With Mekhala sauces and dressing in hand, I decided to whip up a vegan thai meal for our guests the next evening. Feeling ambitious, I made all the dishes for the first time and kept my fingers crossed. Thankfully, they tasted surprisingly decent and I had Mekhala sauces to save the day:P The first dish I made was Basil garlic mushroom rice paper roll with an assortment of dressing like pumpkin black pepper $8.20 for 250ml and coriander ginger dressing $8.20 for 250ml. I suggest making an extra few more rice rolls just in case they do not look as good when you cut them up into halves for presentation. I opted for mushroom fillings and the basil garlic flavours really shone through. Our dinner guest commented that I could have added more mint for a refreshing aftertaste for the rice paper rolls. Overall, it was a pretty easy dish to whip up and is one healthy starter to begin your meal with. Another thing I found useful was Mekhala youtube channel where they share how their sauces and dressings can be used but wished they had more vegan cooking recipes.

9. Tell us more about the home cooking videos you guys have on your youtube page? How long does it take to create one and will you guys be doing more vegan cooking recipes?

Two groups of customers that we focus on are that of people who don’t have much time to cook and those who don’t really know how to cook. Our condiments are really, really easy to use so even beginner and/or time-starved cooks will be able to put together tasty, healthy meals with Mekhala’s help! We know of many people who are just terrified of stepping into the kitchen and we realised that we really need to show our customers how easy it is – just talking about it won’t do very much. Hence, the Mekhala Living Food Channel was born! We release one video every 1-2 weeks and also post the recipes on our website.

It takes us about 1-2 hours to prepare one video, depending on how many times we flub our lines. The cooking itself is usually very quick, but the set-up, filming of ingredients and photography can take a while. Definitely! We have recently filmed about 4-5 new vegan recipes, which we will be sharing very soon.

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I also wanted a fusion soup as I had a couple of pumpkin squash in the fridge. So I googled for a recipe that required me to use green curry paste $5.50 for 100g and I found it right here. The flavours combined with the spicy green curry paste with roasted pumpkin and coconut tasted heavenly! This soup dish was a winner. If you want it less spicy, I recommend using more coconut milk to blend them all up.

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I also made some crispy tofu steaks with some crushed peanuts and sweet plum sauce for extra texture.

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The main dish was phad thai using organic mulberry leaves rice noodles which was really unique. It tasted more firm than the usual phad thai noodles when cooked with the Phad Thai sauce $7.20 for 200ml from Mekhala. This dish was definitely one of the healthier version we have tasted by far. It was not sweet but I wished it had a stronger after taste or flavour. I used 2 packets of mulberry rice paper noodles and the portions was too much for 5 people. Another thing I wished was for the bottle to be bigger! I finished using the 200ml bottle for this dish and wished there was more. All my guests went ga ga over the dressings they had and I was curious if they are planning to launch more products in the coming new year.

10. Any new flavours or products you guys will be launching soon?

We will be introducing a whole new spice range within the next couple of months. We will start off with 5 blends of Asian herbs and spices, including lemongrass, Thai basil and Makhwaen peppercorns, which is a type of prickly ash pepper that is similar to Szechuan peppercorns. These will be great as spice rubs and for sprinkling over foods, such as cooked vegetables, tofu and rice, for flavour. We will also have individual dried herbs and spices, such as ground turmeric, coriander and kaffir lime leaves.

We will also be launching 4-5 new salad dressings, sauces and pastes early next year, and these will have Vietnamese, Japanese and, of course, Thai influences. The feedback on them has been great so far and we can’t wait to have them on our shelves!

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We ended the dinner with some home-made coconut chia pudding topped with our all time favourite Brownice coconut ice cream with fresh mango slices!

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Our guests also brought along Brownice latest and BEST ice cream cake we have ever tasted! The coconut yolk mango cake slices were delicious. We are bugging the team at Brownice to remake this cake and we think everyone will love it:)

We want to thank Diana and Daphne from Mekhala for sharing and sponsoring the sauces, dressing and noodles we had for this dinner. If you find heading to Pasar Bella quite a chore, do not worry as they have their sauces on their website and also on Le Bono.

 

Address: 200 Turf Club Road, Pasarbella, The Grandstand #02-k57 Singapore 287994

Phone: 64668270

Email: info@mekhalaliving.com

Follow them on facebook and instagram too!

Tom Yam Ramen Bento Set- Homemeals

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The secret to a fast and quick delicious meal I have been using is using Teng Eng tom yam vegetarian sauce. This bottle is really my favourite brand I have tried so far. It is super easy to whip up ramen, somen, udon, quinoa, rice or even pasta with just this sauce! You can get this bottle from all vegetarian grocery shops.

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To get this simple meal I just created, just follow these few steps:

1. Tom Yam ramen (Serving for 5-6 people)

-Pre-cook your noodles/rice/quinoa.

– On a separate bowl, add 3-4 tablespoons of Teng Eng tom yam pasta

– Add 3-4 teaspoons of brown sugar (depends how spicy you can take, the less spicy the more sugar)

– Add hot water to your paste (This depends on how big your noodles/rice/quinoa portions is like)

– Stir the tom yam paste, water and sugar together

– Pour and stir in to mix with your noodles/rice/quinoa

– Topped with fresh vegetables or nuts or seaweed

2. Beancurd Skin (sliced in small slices and stir fry them into crispy bits)

3. Boil edamame beans (use fresh or frozen)

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I made it another day with miso dumplings soup on the side.

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And we love eating our favourite rocket or spinach salad with baked nuts, fresh raspberries, grilled artichokes, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives!

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I also make happy appetizers like white bean puree with crackers and raspberries when I am craving for a healthy snack! There is no excuse that you cannot whip up fast and easy vegan meals despite your busy schedule:)

 

Homegrown Vegan Lip Balms & Body Balms- Balm Kitchen

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I was at Public Garden Flea Market a few weeks back and was surprised to chance upon a homegrown vegan lip balm brand by Teresa Foo from Balm Kitchen. Though this brand is very new, it has garnered many attention at the market. I spotted many ladies shopping and trying Teresa’s products. When I came closer, I realized why everyone was smitten. Firstly, her logo looks amazing and when I found out she hand drew it, my jaws dropped. Next, her product speaks volume with the smooth texture and creative scents she came up with herself. I particularly love the dark chocolate and green tea versions. I decided to check in with Teresa after the flea market with a short Q&A. She gamely accepted the questions and replied promptly.

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1. When did you start Balm Kitchen?

Balm Kitchen went official in July 2014.

2. What was the first product you produced?

I started making lip balms to replace the ones I’ve used up. I have chapped lips and occasional cold sores and needed a good (all natural, plant base and vegan too) and effective lip balm to maintain healthy lips.

3. Is there a secret ingredient you must share about your product?

No secret ingredient at all. I believe in creating honest and reliable products that my customers can trust. Everything is listed under the ingredients list on the product labels.

4. How do you get inspirations for new flavours?

Ah. As for my lip balms, it has to be from the food we consume. The natural aroma is just wonderful and they are not supposed to linger for too long because their oils are very volatile. Most of my ingredients (except Mica-lip safe!) are edible ingredients. I love my teas (that’s why you see there are more tea inspired flavours in my lip balms and one more flavour out soon!). We seek comfort in our food and therefore I feel that naturally I should make lip balm flavours using our favourite ingredients i.e. chocolate, coffee, vanilla, etc.

For my body balms, I feel there are certain times of the day that we can use essential oils to adjust our moods. Therefore my body balms are categorised according to Uplifting- Orange and Vanilla (when you wake up or need to liven up your spirits), Balancing- Geranium and Rose (middle of the day or just need some beautiful flowery aroma) and Relaxing- Jasmine and Lavender (wind down after a day or to de-stress). The Au Natural body balm is unscented but has the natural aroma from the cocoa butter.

5, Where are you hoping to retail in the next 3 years?

I will continue to improve my products and I hope to extend my existing balms to an entire range of skincare. Currently, I am studying Holistic Cosmetology specialising in organic skincare and I want to eventually have my own shop space where I can retail my products, create bespoke skincare and also conduct workshops. I want to share my knowledge with everyone so that they can benefit from using all natural skincare.

6. Who would you love to see using your products?

Everyone and anyone who has lips and skin!LOL! I want to continue to educate everyone about using natural lip balms and body balms as our ski is the largest organ and whatever we put on the skin is as good as we are consuming it.

7. Is there a special tip to using your products which most people do not know?

Oh yes. My lip balms and body balms are multi-purpose balms besides using them on the lips and body.

  • emergency face balm when your facial skin feels dry and tight
  • as a cuticle cream
  • as a baby bottom barrier to prevent nappy rash
  • on your cracked and dry heels (exfoliation before applying balm is highly recommended)
  • blister balm on your feet to reduce abrasions from shoes
  • lubricant for your door hinges!!! (Just kidding with this last point! Maybe it works! LOL)

8.Can you layer lip balms?

Yes you can totally layer lip balms especially with Balm Kitchen lip balms. Ingredients such as castor oil and candelilla wax act as a barrier to prevent moisture loss (transepidermal water loss, TEWL) through our lips where the skin is quite thin. You can apply the lip balms when you go to bed at night and keep your lips well protected especially if you are sleeping in the air-conditioned room which is very dehydrating the lips and skin too.

9. Any misconceptions about your products you wish to clarify?

My products are made with all natural, plant based vegan ingredients and many may confused that natural would mean organic. Currently the only organic ingredients in my balms is the coconut oil. Although they are not all organic, I give the assurance to my customers that I only curate the highest quality ingredients for my balms. I am already working towards creating an all organic products in the near future as I write.

10. Will you always be doing vegan friendly products or only for your current range?

Yes and will continue for all future products i.e. no honey, beeswax and diary. I want everyone to be able to use my products. My goal is to have my products verified vegan and bunny approved and working towards it!

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Currently, Teresa is participating in the Organic October/Make the switch event organised by Saferskin. She will give a $1 discount on all lip balms/shimmer lip balms and/or body balms when customers bring in their current lip products i.e. lip balm, lip gloss and/or body lotions, creams, etc, to her pop up store which she will post the details on her website, Facebook and Instagram. Offer is limited to one lip balm/shimmer lip balm and one body balm per customer. There is also FREE local shipping for all online purchases during this month long event. P/S: Teresa also shared that the shelf life of her products are good for a year as there is no water in the product hence there is lesser chance of them going bad.

I look forward to more creations from Teresa and I am pinching with joy that more homegrown labels like hers will be sold around the world! Support Local, Go Local and Try Local:)

Homemeals: Vegan Red Chard Pie

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I have always walked past supermarkets and wondered what do people do with chards. They look too gorgeous to be eaten, especially the rainbow ones. A challenge came through my way when Supernature Organic asked if I was keen to try their latest series of chards that just hit their stores! I was up for the challenge and googled for the best vegan chard recipes. Finally, I found a really interesting one from fatfreevegan.com to experiment and this turned out way better than I expected.

Ingredients (Recipe taken from here)

  • 12 ounces ( 340 g) chard
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces (349 g) lite firm or extra-firm silken tofu, drained
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) plain soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (1/2 ounce or 15 g) raw cashews (optional)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 9-inch ceramic pie pan lightly with non-stick spray.

Wash the chard but do not dry. Remove the center stem from each leaf. Set the leaves aside and chop the stems into small pieces. In a large skillet, sauté the onion and chard stems until softened (about 5 minutes), adding a tablespoon of water if necessary to prevent sticking.

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I did mine as per the recipe and kept a portion of the leaves to make chard chips!

Meanwhile, cut the chard leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the pan along with the garlic, reduce heat, and cover. Cook until all chard is wilted. Remove from heat. If any water has accumulated, drain it; then spread chard in bottom of prepared pie pan.

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Place tofu and remaining ingredients in a blender, and puree until very smooth. Pour over the chard in the pie pan. Use a spoon to gently open holes through the chard so that the tofu mixture penetrates it. Smooth the top so that tofu layer is even and covers all the chard.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until center is set. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

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It was not the most good looking dish in town but the taste made up for the lack of presentation. It was really creamy, smooth and after 2 slices, most of my guests were full. It went super well with kale and chard chips and the chards in the pie was really soft and tasty. I am now more willing to give chard a try and they contains so much wonderful sources of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber.

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I also made some vegan curry carrot ginger soup to go with our pie! Found the recipe here. We want to thank the team at Supernature Organics for sponsoring the yummy organic vegetables used in this post and do drop by their online shop to check out their home delivery service for vegetables and fruits box parcel!

SuperNature (Flagship Store)
#B1-05/09 Forum The Shopping Mall
583 Orchard Road
Tel +65 6304 1336
Fax +65 67350366

Opening Hours:
10am – 7.30pm daily

Hands on Vegan Canape Cooking Class (Recipes included)

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A couple of months back, I attended a hands on vegan canape cooking class with my close friend Vidhya. We booked our tickets via Palate Sensations a month ago and was counting down the days. Finally the day arrived and we met Nisha who joined us in a team of three to prepare 5 mouthwatering vegan dishes. When we were at our working space, we each had our ingredients prepared for us and each team had to work together to create the dishes in less than three hours. It felt like we were on masterchef television show without the glitz and tv glamour of course. But the pace everyone was working on felt pretty intense but strangely it was quite therapeutic to work as a team as I usually cook alone in my small kitchen. The materials, equipments and ingredients at Palate Sensations were really top notch, clean and well laid out. It was really easy to get any item in your wishlist easily and their resident chef and team members was at hand to assist us all throughout the workshop.

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I had the opportunity to try the vitamix for the first time and am still dreaming of this mega machine for Christmas this year! It worked so much faster than my usual blender as vegan cooking requires lots of nut mixtures.

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We started the first dish with mini baked mac and cheese with romesco sauce as it requires 20 minutes of baking time. The romesco sauce is really unique and really tips the mac and cheese muffins to another level. The sauce works equally well as a salad or pasta dressing too.

1)Romesco sauce:

-1 large roasted red bell pepper, drained if out of can, roughly chopped

– 3/4 cup unsalted almonds, toasted (10-12 mins at 180 degree, stirring occasionally

– 1 cloves of garlic

-3 tbs of tomato paste

– up to 1 Tbs of sherry or vinegar

– 1 T cup of olive oil

– Salt to taste

– 1 Tbs parsely ,stemmed and roughly chopped

1) In a food processor, puree the peppers, garlic, juice of an orange, orange zest, tomato paste and sherry. Gradually add the olive oil. Taste for salt. Then pulse in the almonds and parsley (save a pinch for serving). The end result should be chunky and flavorful.

2) For the Mac & Cheese:

– About 125g (a heaping cup) uncooked dry macaroni

– 1 1/4 cups raw (unroasted, unsalted) cashews, soaked for 20 minutes to overnight, rinsed and drained

– juice of 1 lemon

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 1 1/2 tsp of tomato paste

– 3/4 tsp soy sauce

– 1 1/2 tsp of yellow mustard

– 1 tb of white miso

– 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast flakes (found in health food stores or online)

– 1/4 cup all purpose flour, divided

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder

– 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

– 1 small pinch of cayenne for a kick (optional)

2) Make garlic confit: place the garlic and oil in a small saucepan on low heat, cover and let it to simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the garlic is soft and golden and oil is fragrant, checking that it doesn’t burn. When done, turn off the heat to let it cool to a safe temperature.

Preheat oven to 240c. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to boil. Line muffin tins with cup liners or just oil lightly and set aside.

In a blender, combine the garlic confit with its oil, the rinsed and drained cashews, lemon juice, tomato paste, soy sauce, mustard, miso, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cayenne (opt.) and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth and well incorporated; adjusted seasoning as needed.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook al dente according to instructions on package (usually 6-8 minutes once the water has returned to a rolling boil), stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Avoid overcooking the pasta as it will be submitted to heat a second time during baking. Drain the pasta as soon as it’s done, and transfer to a mixing bowl to coat evenly with the sauce, incorporating a little flour if the sauce is too liquid to stick to the pasta.

Divide the pasta evenly into the muffin pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until edges start to brown. When done, remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes before unmolding. Top the Mac and Cheese bites with the romesco and remaining chopped parsley and enjoy warm.

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Mushroom Avocado Ceviche Romaine Bites was the next dish we made was one of my favourite! It tasted really refreshing and I could eat this everday.

1) Ceviche:

– 1 large Portobello mushroom cap

– 1 1/2 large ripe avocados

– 1/2 of a ripe mango

– 1 large fennel bulb

– 1/2 of a red onion

– 1/2 of a small can of hearts of artichokes, rinsed

– juice of 1-2 lime

– 1 clove of garlic, minced

– 1 small mild chile, minced

– olive oil, salt, pepper to taste

– 1 Tbsp soy sauce

– a few sprigs of fresh dill

1) Preheat the oven at 240c. Dice the mushroom into bite-size pieces, toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 12 minutes, until easy to pierce with a fork. Peel and dice the avocado, the mango, fennel, onion, artichokes so that they’re all the same size, toss to combine in mixing bowl with mushrooms, minced chili, garlic, soy sauce, dill, and the lime juice. Let the ceviche rest refrigerated for 15 minutes to an hour.

2) Half a head of romaine lettuce and arrange the romaine leaves on a serving plate and spoon an even amount of the ceviche onto the stem side of each leaf. Sprinkle with shredded nori (use 1/2 a sheet of nori, shredded into small pieces or get ready shredded ones)

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The third dish Vegan Egg Salad Canape, Coriander carrot puree, chive was hubby’s favourite. This is the best dish for any vegans craving eggs, especially scrambled eggs and is perfect for brunch.
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1) Coriander carrot puree

– 200g of carrots, rinsed, peeled, chopped

– juice of 1/2 of an orange

– 2 1/4 tsp coriander seeds, toasted, ground (on low heat in a pan, stirring, until fragrant)

– a pinch of paprika or cayenne, optional

– salt to taste

1) Cook the carrots with a pinch of salt in just enough liquid to cover, until fork tender. Puree in a food processor or blender with grounded toasted coriander seeds, the orange juice, optional cayenne or paprika, and carrot cooking liquid if needed to obtain a smooth (not runny) result. Season to taste.

2) Eggless egg salad

– 1/2 block of soft/silken tofu, drained well, divided

– 1/4 cup raw (unroasted, unsalted) cashews, soaked for 20 minutes to overnight, rinsed, drained

– 1 1/2 tsp vinegar, preferably apple cider

– 1 1/2 tsp white miso

– 1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard

– 1 cloves of garlic

– 1 yellow onion, small diced

– 1 block of firm tofu

– a pinch of Kala Namak, indian black salt (available in Little India or online)

– 1/8 tsp turmeric powder

– salt and pepper to taste

– juice of 1 to 2 lemons

– 1/2 bunch of chives, minced

– 5-6 sprigs of coriander, chopped

2) In a blender, combine half the silken tofu with the cashews, vinegar, miso, and mustard. In a saucepan, heat a tablespoon of oil and saute the garlic and onions until translucent, on medium heat. Turn the heat up and add the firm tofu and remaining silken tofu, crumbling it into the pan with your hands. Stir to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Add the turmeric. Once the mixture has dried out a little, transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. Once the mixture has cooled, add just enough of the blended mix to coat. Add a little Kala Namak to taste. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed. Fold in chopped coriander leaves.

Assemble the canapes by spreading a layer of the carrot puree on the slices of the bread, then a scoop of eggless egg salad, and topping with chives.

We also made  herbed white bean spread with pickled grapes and crostini. I have made it a few times at home and guests love it!

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1) For pickled grapes:

– 20 grams of seedless grapes, rinsed

– 1/3 cup vinegar, preferably apple cider vinegar

– 1/4 cup sugar

– 1 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

– 3/4 cumin seeds

1) Slice each grape in half. Combine all ingredients except for the grapes in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. After 1 minute, turn the heat off and let the brine cool for 5 minutes. Place the grapes in a container and pour the brine over them. Let them pickle for 15 minutes minimum; they can then be kept refrigerated in their brine for up to a week.

2) For the crostini:

– a slab of ciabatta bread (or half a French baguette) preferably a day old

Preheat oven at 240c. Using a bread knife, slice the bread into 75 mm thin slabs. Arrange slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through, until nicely roasted

3) For the herbed bean spread:

– a small can of cooked white beans (cannellini, great northern, navy..) rinsed and drained

– 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh herbs of choice: tarragon, parsley, coriander, chives..

– 1 clove of garlic, minced

– 3 Tbsp of olive oil (can substitute half for vegetable stock for a low fat version)

In a food processor, puree the garlic and beans, adding the oil gradually. Run until smooth and creamy, pulsing in the herbs at the end. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Spread the white bean onto each crostini and topped with a few pickled grapes.

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One last item which we did towards the end of the class was warm cashew cheese stuffed dates wrapped in eggplant bacon. Our eggplant got stuck to the oven after baking and looked a far cry from the picture above. We tried assembling them together and although the flavour was great, the appearance looked horrid!

1) For the eggplant bacon:

– 1-2 chinese eggplants

– 2 cup oil

– 1 tablespoon and 1 tsp soy sauce

– 1 1/2 tsp sugar

– 1/2 tsp black pepper

1) Preheat oven at 240c. To make the marinade, combine well the oil, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper in a mixing bowl, taste to adjust seasoning and set aside. Peel the eggplants and, using a mandolin, very carefully slice the eggplants lengthwise into thin strips, and cover them with the marinade. Line the baking tray with parchment paper and arrange the eggplant stripes in a single layer, with a little space separating each strip to prevent sticking. Bake off for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through. They should get evenly cooked and pliable but not dry or burnt.

2) For the cheese:

– 1/3 cup of raw (unroasted, unsalted) cashews, soaked for 20 minutes to overnight, rinsed, drained.

– the juice of half a lime, or more to taste

– salt, to taste

Drain and rinse the cashews. Combine all ingredients in a blender with just enough liquid to cover, and blend using the tamper (or pausing the motor to scrape down the sides) until a smooth cream is obtained. Adjusted seasoning if necessary.

3) Assembling and serving:

– 6 pitted dates, sliced halfway through lengthwise

Using a small spoon, stuff each date with the cashew cream (checking for pits each time). Carefully and tightly wrap a piece of eggplant bacon around each date. Arrange on a baking sheet and return to oven for about 5-10 minutes, until warm. Serve immediately, sprinkled with smoked paprika.

Overall, I had a blast and each dish is perfect for any dinner parties. I am eyeing to remake a few of them for our Christmas dinner soon.

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Chinese Reunion Feast at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (Quality hotel)

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Hope everyone had an awesome Chinese New Year break and although this post came too late, we still want to blog about how good our reunion dinner was. Lotus vegetarian restaurant at Quality Hotel was one of the rare places that offer buffet menu for customers and my parents have heard great reviews of their food. So off we went with another 10 more family members for a evening of feasting. Each dish was so good, we wiped out everything all at once. The good thing about the menu was majority of the items were stewed dishes which was healthy, tasty and not heaty. We have eaten at many chinese vegetarian restaurants that offers tonnes of mock meat and fried dishes which can be quite a bore and taste quite gross after a while. Imagine our surprise when most dishes were fresh vegetables with beautiful sounding names! The best dish of the night had got to be the chicken rice!! OMG! It was so good, we were snatching to eat the second round which we did not have many to go around. The rice was so fragrant with the accompanying chilli and we want to go back again to have it with the soup too.

Quality Hotel Marlow

201 Balestier Road, Singapore 329926

Daily Operation Hours

Lunch from 1130hrs to 1500hrs
Dinner from 1800hrs to 2200hrs

For reservations, call Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant at (65) 6254 0090/91.

Home Cooking: Potato Rosti with Vegan Franks and Creamy Tomato Soup

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Another recipe I tried recently was Lush Route’s potato rosti with store bought vegan franks from SuperNature. This recipe requires some work but the end results was some lovely crispy rosti which was yummy!

Ingredients
3 Medium/Large waxy potatoes (I use golden delight)
3 Sprigs of rosemary
¼ cup butter (I use earth balance)
Salt & Pepper
Sunflower Oil (for frying)  I used canola oil

Instructions
1. Rinse, peel and grate your potatoes (try to do long grates across the whole grater for longer pieces). Squeeze out the water, then place in a clean tea towel and pat out any extra water. Place in a bowl.

2. Pull the rosemary of the woody stalks, and chop to a fine grain. Add the rosemary, along with room temperature butter to the potato, season with salt and pepper (I use a lot of pepper but not too much salt as it isn’t very good for you).

3. Mix all of the ingredients together (I just use my hands – wash hands prior!) until well combined. Preheat oven to 180c.I also made a cream tomato soup to go alongside this dish and the taste was not as great as I expected it to be. Somehow I prefer my tomato soup sour instead of it being cream. But it was a really simply recipe and a quick soup to whip up.

4. Heat a shallow amount of oil in frypan (be careful of hot oil, hold your hand a few inches above the pan to feel the temperature of the air but be careful if the oil is bubbling as you might get splashed) when hot enough, add a scoop of the mixture (about a tablespoon) to the pan in a clump, and pat down with your utensil until about 1-2 cm’s thick all over. Let each rosti cook on one side until golden brown and stuck together, then flip and cook for only a minute or two on the other side. Repeat this process for each rosti, adding them to a baking tray after each one is cooked – second side down.

5. Place the tray of rosti’s in the oven and cook for another 5-8 minutes until crispy and golden on both sides.The reason I use the oven and the pan is firstly so that I can arrange other foods whilst they are remaining warm, and secondly to crisp them up a bit more. Add your rostis to your preferred hot breakfast dish, or simply eat them on their own! (I used this method as well and it worked!)

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time:  5 mins
Total time:  10 mins

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
1 clove Garlic (peeled)
1 Shallot (peeled)
2 – 28 oz cans Peeled Whole Tomatoes
1 cup Almond Milk (I used coconut milk instead)
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tablespoon Celery Seed
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil (plus additional for finishing, optional)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

Place all the ingredients in a blender
Blend until smooth
Heat up and serve
Enjoy!!!!!!!!!

Home Cooking- Crispy “Chick”ness Nuggets

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It has been awhile since I cooked! And I decided to make fresh chickpea nuggets from Murr’s Menu Blog. I doubled the recipe portion and kept the remaining portion frozen for another meal a couple of day later. It was still fresh and crispy.

Ingredients:
(Makes approx 12 chick’n nuggets)

*Chick’n
1/2 large onion, diced
1 can chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp lemon juice (I did not add this)
2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (I used corn starch instead)
*For more of a ‘cajun’ style chick’n nugget, add 1 tsp hot sauce and a pinch of cayenne. I chose this style

Coating
1 C Gluten free bread crumbs (I used a mix of a finely ground bread crumb with a more chunky/crispy bread crumb so I could get a crunch)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Coconut oil (or oil of choice) for frying (I used vegetable oil)

Directions:

Saute your onions on the stovetop until soft

Put your onions, garlic and chickpeas in a food processor. Pulse until the chickpeas aren’t whole, but do not blend until smooth. You still want it to have a little bit of texture to it.

Bring your chickpea mix to a bowl and blend in all of your spices and lemon juice. Follow by blending in your flour and starch,

Store your mix in the fridge for at least 30 mins

Next, mix the ingredients for your coating in a bowl. Remove your chick’n mix from the fridge and make your chick’n nugget shapes. If it’s too soft to shape, them add in a bit more flour until you can handle the mix in your hands.

Bring a large frying pan to a medium-high heat with plenty of oil for frying. If there’s not a good layer of oil, the nuggets won’t cook on the outside properly.

Take your chick’n nuggets and toss them in the coating mixture until it has a good coating on it. Put them on on the frying pan and cook for about 5-8 minutes (until browned) on each side. You should notice a sizzling when you put your nuggets on the pan. You’re going to be cooking them again after, so make sure they’re not turning black when you take them off the pan.

Once the chick’n nuggets have all been fried to get their crispy coating, they are most likely still going to be too soft on the inside to be considered a ‘chick’n nugget’ (you’ll be able to tell just by lightly feeling them). If this is the case, bring the heat down on the frying pan, and cook your nuggets again for another 5-10 mins.

Afterwards, move your chick’n nuggets to the fridge for AT LEAST 10 minutes so that they will firm up to the right texture. The longer your nuggets are in the fridge, the better consistency they become (more of a firmer texture, like a ‘chicken nugget’). I did not try this step and mine was quite firm!

A lovely recipe with a bit of effort especially so as I used  dried chickpeas instead of canned ones. It had a better texture and I could control the flavours as well. I followed the clear instructions from this blog and will never go back to canned versions anymore.

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