There’s always a first to everything!

As the title mention of a first to everything, I experienced a very special first a month ago. I took part in my very first competition! As a culinary student, it was such great honour and a nerve-wrecking experience to participate. It was foreign yet, exhilarating! So today, I shall share with you my journey in my very first competition!

This competition is called Project Bake Off 2016. It is a baking competition co-organised by nEbO, a junior membership arm of the Labour Movement (NTUC) Singapore, together with a group of Year 3 business studies students from our local polytechnic in Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic. There were 2 rounds to this competition, a preliminary and final round. In the preliminary round, contestants, a team of 2, were tasked to bake 3 cheese tarts. The tarts would be judged based on creativity on the plating and the taste of the tarts. 10 qualified teams from the secondary and tertiary teams would then proceed to the finals. For the the final round, the teams would have to bake a birthday cake for the celebration of nEbO’s 9th birthday, with a secret ingredient incorporated in the cake.

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It was my partner, Angelyn, and I first ever competition. We are both culinary students, this was a very big deal to us. Therefore when we read the criterias for the preliminary round, we got down to business straight away. We researched on the creativity aspect of plating as the recipe for the cheese tarts were fixed. And so we shortlisted with 3 plates with various flavours infused.

Firstly, we have this vibrant orange spread made from pumpkin puree. We thought it went pretty well with the contrast of the tart shell and it tasted surprisingly fine with cheese! We added some blueberries, mint leaves and meringue for more texture.  IMG_8604 Our second plate, was a little more simple. The spread was a blueberry sauce. Again we played with the colours of the tart. IMG_8499

Lastly, the plate we decided to present, was a rustic and more adventurous plating idea. The base had a meringue, lightly smashed, then it undergo heat to allow caramelisation to take place. Then we added some blueberry sauce and mint leaves for more flavour and texture. IMG_8462

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Our last few moments of plating…

Everyone put up a tough fight for the preliminary round as there were some amazing work done by other contestants, however we were beyond surprised when we got through to the finals.

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Our final product.

The real deal happened during the final round, which happened 2 weeks after the preliminary round. It was intense and we only had 2 hours to dish up an 8 inch cake. We were taken aback by the results from the preliminary round, thus we did not have an idea of what type of cake we would be baking. And with the addition of the secret ingredient, caramelised cookie, we were clueless on what should our product be. We asked for advice from the chef in school and hence, we narrowed down to local flavours.

Our sponge consisted of the caramelised cookie, as we wanted an innovative way of incorporating the cookie into our cake and not just treat it as a garnish. IMG_9280

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Angelyn was in-charge of the sponge. And here she is folding the dry ingredients into the wet.

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While Angelyn worked on the cake, I was preparing the garnishes and cream. The cream used to frost the cake was a coconut cream. In between the layers, there would be a lime curd to moisten the cake. As garnishes we had gula melaka salted caramel and some chocolate barks to give the cake height. Gula melaka is a palm sugar, widely used in asian desserts, thus our idea of having it on our cake.

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The making of the lime curd.
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Making the gula melaka salted caramel.

We made sure all garnishes and cream were ready before we started to assemble the cake.

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We added some more caramel cookies to give the cake crunch and a variety of textures.
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Adding the lime curd in the middle gives the cake a colour contrast and a pleasant surprise!

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We creamed the cake with splashes of orange and yellow colour as orange colour represents nEbO!
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The caramel was too warm when we poured it onto the cake, thus it melted the buttercream a little.

Within 2 short hours, Angelyn and I gladly baked a birthday cake!

It was the shortest 2 hours I have ever experienced, but it was fun and the adrenaline pumping through out the time made this whole experience so worth it. The results we achieved scored extra brownie points in my ecstasy as we clinched 2nd runner up with the most eye-catching cake.

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With one of the judges, Mr Markas Aw, the owner of Crusty Oven, Singapore.

I could not have done this competition without my partner, Angelyn. It was yet another first with you and it was such a lovely journey, from the experiments of the cheese tarts to the birthday cake. Extremely grateful to be able to take part in this competition, it really broaden my horizons in the baking world. The other contestants put up such a great fight and it made this prize even more valuable.

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I would like to thank the 3 gracious judges for giving us your honest feedbacks and ways to improve. To the students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, you have organised such a great event and would be looking forward to participant in more!

Overall, it was an absolutely pleasure to be part of this bake off! It was definitely a good virgin experience in the competition world and I hope to be able to join many more and share it with you!

And if you are wondering what Angelyn and I named our team, We are called ACEsulfame! We chose that name due to the sweetener we learnt in school and also, there’s ACE in the name!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this piece and till next time, See you!

Spread love and Be Kind! Pei Gee

To find out more on the organizers and judges…

Organisers:

nEbO- Not the usual club

Project Bake Off 2016, Facebook

Judges:

Mr Lutfi the founder of Bakers Of Singapore: Instagram @BakersofSingapore

Mr Markas Aw, the owner of Crusty Oven, Singapore.

Ms Sri Suratman, the owner of La Marelle Cafe, Singapore.

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Sweet potato patties are my new favourite!

Remember my previous post? The one on the tofu and sweet potato mash? Well, today’s recipe is going to be something similar as I just used leftover sweet potato mash and made it into a patty! Without further ado, let’s get started with the recipe!

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Like I said I used the leftover sweet potato mash recipe for this recipe. This recipe is basically an open faced sandwich with fried mushroom beneath the patty. I added plain flour to the mash to bind it better, so that it would not break while I flip the patty. I fried it till they are crispy on the outer ring. They gave a fluffy internal structure and a crispy external. It was a surprisingly yummy patty, it could be due to the seasonings of the mash.

Next I merely fry a mixture of mushrooms, enoki- both thin and thick, with a shallow amount of oil, seasoning it with salt and pepper.

Overall, it is a simple and easy meal. The mash does not take a lot of time to make, it is pack full of complex carbohydrates and beta-carotene, which is excellent for the eyesight. Mushrooms are low in calorie, not much fat in them, which makes them super super food. This meal can be eaten as breakfast or lunch, whichever you desire. You could change it up by adding cheese and caramelised onions or salsa would give the sandwich a fresh kick. A sandwich is a mashup of your favourite things combined, so be loud with your creativity when making a sandwich!

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Sweet Potato Patty Sandwich

Ingredient

  • A bowl of Sweet Potato Mash 
  • About 1-2 tablespoon of plain flour
  • A handful of choice of mushrooms
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh greens to give your sandwich a crunch
  • A slice of your choice of bread (I went with  wholemeal bread)

Directions

  1. Add plain flour to the sweet potato mash. Mix till combined, then form a patty using your hands. (Best time for your kids to join in)
  2. On a non-stick frying pan, add a splash of oil and add patty onto the frying pan. Fry till sides are a little burnt, or more if you like it more crispy.
  3. While the patty are browning, add toast into toaster or the grill to toast the slice of bread.
  4. After the patty are done, on the same frying pan, add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once your toast is toasted, layer a bed of greens then your mushrooms and lastly your patty!

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A simple quick fix of all my favourite food. Well, I hope you have enjoyed the recipe today. I got a little free time on hand as it is Singapore’s Birthday today, 9th of August. I would like to wish Singapore a Happy Grand Birthday. And very grateful of the public holiday that I get to recharge myself and write to you. So, thank you for reading and till next time, See you!

Spread Love & Be Kind! Pei Gee

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Sweet potato and Tofu?!

Hi all! I am back with another meatless recipe! The recipe today was created with zero inspiration but a craving for sweet potato and tofu! So without further ado, let’s get started with the recipe.

I created this dish because I wanted a protein and carbohydrate filled dish, while staying meatless. I was actually contemplating on potato and tofu, however I did not like the colour contrast potato gave when put together with tofu, therefore I used sweet potato and the dish came out better than I expected.

I started with 2 firm medium sized tofu, ‘digging’ a hole in the middle, saving the scraps as well, as they could be added into the mash sweet potatoes. IMG_7765

To make the mash, steam sweet potatoes then mash them up and season to your liking. I love mine with a hint of Indian taste to it, therefore I added a touch of cumin and garam masala. Remember to heavily salt your mash as the flavours are solely coming from them.

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I steamed mine in a cute little basket, sweet potatoes cut into smaller sizes as they would cook faster that way.

I steamed the entire dish as I did not want to pan-fry or bake as it would dry them up and add unnecessary oil to the dish. All I wanted was a healthy protein-carbohydrate filled dish and I would say it satisfied all the criteria.

Overall this dish was fun to make, I enjoyed it so much. It could be brought to school in a lunchbox or enjoyed at a picnic. The only issue was that 1 tofu was not enough to fill me up, therefore I accompanied mine with homemade quinoa. You could have yours with a bed of salad greens or soba noodles. Be creative and explore all things, including those in your fridge! Cooking is about creativity and colours and imagination. If you could imagine it, why can’t you make it happen!

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Sweet Potato Mash in Tofu

Ingredients

  • 1 orange sweet potato
  • 2 firm tofu
  • 4-5 white button mushrooms
  • Handful of coriander
  • Touch of prefered spices and herbs (I used cumin, garam masala and paprika)
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

  1. Steam sweet potato till it is soft enough to mash.
  2. Once sweet potatoes are mashed, season it with salt, pepper and herbs and spices
  3. Chop button mushrooms till fine. Lightly fry them in a saucepan with a dash of olive oil
  4. After the mushrooms have softened, pour them into the mash, together with chopped coriander
  5.  Give the mash a good mix and then set it aside.
  6. Make a well in the firm tofu, with the scraps added into the mash.
  7. Before you start filling the tofu, start boiling a pot of water filled to the middle for steaming.
  8. To fill the tofu, take a spoonful of the mash and stuff the tofu with the mashed sweet potato.
  9. After the tofu are filled, steam them for about 10 minutes.
  10. Then viola! You got yourself a stuffed tofu with sweet potato mash! Enjoy it with hot sauce or whatever sauce you desire.

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The dish was simple yet appealing. It was delicious and filled with good nutrients and fiber! I was glad I tried this recipe out despite the fact that I had no idea what the outcome would be. This is a dish I would like to take to another level with more complex flavours and ingredients. So I hope you would try this recipe out and have as much fun as I had.

Thank you for reading and till next time, See You!

Spread Love & Be Kind. Love, Pei Gee

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Month in A Nutshell: June.

Hi there! I think 2016 have been passing by too quickly as June is already over! Much has happened and today, I am going to share with the past and the future.

In the month of June, I travelled to Japan! It was a family vacation. It was a much needed family time as before the trip I was stuffing my face with books and notes as it was the examination period. I ate lots of udon and soba, practiced a little of Japanese and walked the streets of Tokyo. It was a lovely trip, however due to the fact that Tokyo is filled with skyscrapers as it is a city, I did not enjoyed the surrounding. But do not get me wrong, Japan is filled with wonders, both nature and man-made. If you do get a chance to visit, make the most out of it! Below are some pictures of me making the most out of the trip! Also, I wrote about my trip to Japan a couple weeks ago, you could view the post from here!

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The udon were handmade and ingredients so fresh! It was our first meal, and it was amazing!
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Their fish market served another level of fresh produce! All tasted like the sea!
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They took breakfast to a grand and delicious level. 
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Their mochi are aesthetically pleasing, with a smooth skin and right amount of red-bean filling.
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They feast well, very well.

The owl cafes are A MUST!

A trip to Tokyo DisneyLand is a must right…

And lastly, their view.

Happy to say that I managed to get into the kitchen to whip up some meals for myself! I cooked quite a bit, therefore look out for the recipes in the future. However I shall just give you a few sneak peaks…😀

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I published this recipe a week ago, Vermicelli Salad, Asian Style.

These recipes shall be up in the mere future, so keep a look out on it!

Aside from food and travelling, there was something that was truly magical that happened! I am now a writer on My Trending Stories! I would be writing on both Big On Food and My Trending Stories. I was surprised when they emailed me. And I gave it much thoughts, and decided to take up the challenge! It is definitely going to be a challenge as I need to balance my schoolwork with Big On Food and now, My Trending Stories. I would give both site my fullest attention and write with my heart. Thank you for your support and please continue to shower both sites with love! View my articles on MTS here!

 

June was a rather hectic month, however it was over before I knew it. It was filled with ups and downs, with every downs I learnt a little and grew a little. As the days goes on, I am starting to figure things out, what I want my future to be, how I want to think and live my life everyday. And I have been telling myself everyday to live life positively because there is no time for negativity. Move on if that something is making you so upset, because life goes on. You make your own choice for your own life. Live it happily.

Thank you reading and till next time, See you!

Spread Love and Be Kind! Pei Gee

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Instagram @BigOnFood 

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Or, Drop me an email at TPG22@hotmail.com

 

Vermicelli Salad, Asian Style!

Want a fresh and delicious asian salad? If you do, read on!

This recipe was inspired by Vietnamese and Korean food, I wanted to make all things asian for this dish. It is a dish I created with love, however the end product was not too satisfying as I probably did not shower it with more love.

Here let me explain. The dressing for this salad was a little bit underdressed. It was not salty enough, which resulted with a lack of umami taste to the salad. Aside from the dressing lacking a little flavour, it was a rather good lunch, and it is also meatless, so great lunch idea for Meatless Mondays!

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This salad is extremely simple and so fresh with crunchy and juicy ingredients. The star of the salad is the dressing. I tried to combine all the asian flavours, however I did not get a dressing I desired. But, I am more than willing to try to adjust and improve the dressing. For now, I shall share the underdressed dressing.

Salad Dressing

Ingredient

  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 2-4 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 limes
  • 1 red chili
  • 1/2 spring onion
  • about 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Handful of toasted white sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Slice the spring onion and red chili into fine pieces, then add all ingredients into a bowl.

I truly believe the dressing was underdress due to the lack of fish sauce and salt. After I mixed all the other ingredients together, I added an additional pinch of salt onto my vermicelli and it tasted better.

For the ingredients in my salad…

  • 1/4 yellow/red/green bell pepper
  • 3 types of mushrooms (I used enoki, Porcini and oyster mushroom)
  • Chopped cabbage
  • Sliced carrots
  • For garnish – Spring onions and sesame seeds
  • Handful of korean vermicelli noodles

Preparations

  1. Blanch the cabbage and carrots in hot water. You would still want them to retain their crunchiness, therefore 1 minute or 2 would be fine.
  2. Remove the vegetables and DO NOT POUR THE WATER AWAY.
  3. Using the water from the vegetables, cook the vermicelli noodles.
  4. Once the noodles are cooked, shock it with cold water then toss it with sesame oil.
  5. In a pan on medium low heat, fry the bell peppers with sesame oil for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then set aside.
  6. In the same pan, cook the mushrooms. Season them with salt and pepper
  7. To assemble the salad, mix all ingredients in the mixing bowl then pour the dressing over and give it a good toss. Taste as you go.
  8. Serve with a handful of spring onion on the salad and sprinkle sesame seed over the noodles.

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Overall, I would not say I messed up the whole salad, however there are room for improvements. I truly hope you make them yourself and agree with me that this is the greatest summer asian salad you ever tasted. Do taste as you go and season with every bite.

Before I end today’s post, I have an exciting news to share with you. I am now writing on My Trending Stories. My Trending Stories is a new website where writers from all over the world come together to share their perspectives and ideas. I would be sharing my recipes and travel adventures at MTS, therefore head over there and show it some love. My cheeks are still hurting from smiling from the day I received the mail to join the team. It is such a great joy to be able to expand my horizons and my work on MTS platform. It would mean the world to me receiving your support from day 1. Thank you. To check out my work at My Trending Stories, Click here!

That would be all for today! Thank you for reading and till next time, See you!

Spread Love & Be Kind! 

Stay connected with me on…

Instagram @BigOnFood 

Pinterest @PeigeeTan

My Trending Stories

Or, drop me a mail at TPG22@hotmail.com

Travel Adventure: Tokyo, Japan

If you have been following me on Instagram, Big On Food, you would know that I was in Tokyo for a short family getaway. So for today, I would be sharing my highlights of the trip!

I went to only Tokyo, for about 5 days.The weather was amazing, chilly yet filled with sunshine. When we arrived, it was dinnertime. I decided to Google the shops around the hotel, and within seconds, an udon shop appealed to me. I was intrigued and pretty satisfied with my finding. The udon store was just 5 minutes walk from the hotel, which made that factor a brownie point. We took a stroll and found the shop. The shop was tucked in a quiet alley way. It could only accommodate about 10 to 15 people at once. We were lucky enough to patronise the shop when there was not many people. We were seated quickly and was given an english menu, which was very helpful. The shop only sells udon noodles, cold and hot. If you are not a fan of noodles or udon, this might not be the shop for you. But do give it a chance as they sell excellent fresh udon noodles, with the perfect chewiness and great texture.

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Witnessing the master at work…

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We placed our order without difficulty and waited patiently. We ordered both hot and cold noodles.

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In this photo are the cold noodles. The one on the bottom is plain udon noodles with a fried tempura fish paste. The bowl on top was cold udon served with a soft poached egg with braised beef slices. A dipping sauce was given to both bowls of noodles.
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We got a hot tempura udon as well as a bowl of udon in a rich beef broth with beef slices. These bowls are hearty and delicious.

It was definitely a satisfying first meal to kickstart the trip. Both hot and cold noodles were heavenly. The shop was cozy and our meal there was enjoyable. However do keep in mind to visit the shop at a non-peak hour as right after we finished our meal, there was a queue in front of the shop. The shop is located at 2 151 0053, 2 Chome-20-16 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0053, Japan (Shinjuku Station, Exit 6). It is called 慎 Shin Udon. Do check them out as their stuffs are fabulous. 

So after such an amazing first meal, we knew that Japan would not be too disappointing. The next highlight of the trip was Tsukiji Fish Market. This would be the place for all seafood fanatics as the seafood you get could not get any fresher. We spent an hour there and damage was certainly done to our stomach, in a good way.

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We tried fresh oysters, which had the essence of the sea. It was silky smooth and absolutely divine.
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The sea urchins were creamy and exoctic. It was lovely to have tried it at the fish market.
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This dish was pretty unique. It had crab meat, scallop and abalone. It was then blow-torched on the surface with a sauce and then served with fish roe.
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It has an intense flavour, savory from the sauce and sweet from all the fresh seafood. It was an explosion of flavour which I did not mind.

The last dish tried in the fish market was an interesting one. It had various eating methods, so it is best for the shop owners to explain how to eat this dish.

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This dish is a rice bowl with cubed sashimi above the rice. So there 3 ways to enjoy this rice bowl. 1. Enjoy it with plain wasabi and soy sauce. (My favourite method, as it retained it’s original flavours of the rice and fish.) 2. Eaten with pickled ginger and pickles. 3. A broth added to the rice.
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Instructions are provided on the ways to enjoy this rice bowl. It had english and it allows consumers to better understand this dish.

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Overall, Tsukiji Fish Market is a must visit when in Tokyo. You would be able to witness fishmongers slicing fresh whole tuna fish and lots of people trying to get a taste of fresh seafood.

The final highlight of my trip was visiting an owl cafe! It was the most extraordinary of the entire trip. You might be thinking why I am raving for visiting some bird cafe, as you all know, I am staying in Singapore. In Singapore, you do not see much owls, I see lots of bats, pigeons and swallow but no owls, therefore it was an unforgettable moment to be able to visit an owl cafe! The little cafe we visited had about 10 owls, different species and opposite characters. We were able to pet it and hold it. It was impressive that owls were such cute and beautiful souls.

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An owl selfie was necessary when you visit an owl cafe once in a lifetime.
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I was rather nervous while holding onto the owl but all was well in the end.
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Visiting the owl cafe was a memorable event that I would not forget.

These were the highlights of my short trip to Japan. I hope you have enjoyed this post as much as I have. Thank you for reading and till next time, See you!

More information on the places I visited…

慎 Shin Udon–  2 151 0053, 2 Chome-20-16 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0053, Japan (Shinjuku Station, Exit 6). Tripadvisor website: Shin Udon

Tsukiji Fish Market– Above Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Oedo Subway Line 

Shinjuku Owl Cafe, Mohumohu – 5F, 3-35-2 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo

 Spread Love & Be Kind! Xoxo Pei Gee

Stay connected with me on…

Instagram @BigOnFood

Pinterest @PeigeeTan

Or, drop me a mail at TPG22@hotmail.com

MEATLESS MEXICAN QUINOA BOWL!

Here is another meatless recipe to add to your Meatless Mondays! I am sure there are many such recipes out there but I would love to share mine with you! Sit back and enjoy!

I got idea of a quinoa bowl as I needed a quick dinner and I coincidentally have cooked quinoa on hand. This bowl is the easiest bowl you would ever do. There are not much cooking involved, which provides you the maximum nutrients in the ingredients!

IMG_6978In my bowl, there are red kidney beans and corn. I bought the ready-to-eat can beans and corn, all you have to do is drain them. Toss them with the quinoa, with fresh parsley, season with olive oil, salt and pepper and add other spices and herbs to give them more kick!

The other ingredient I added were bell pepper/capiscum. I fried them in shallow oil for a few minutes as I did not want raw capisum in my bowl, however if you prefer your capisums crunchy and juicy, feel free to add them raw. That is pretty much all there is to my quinoa bowl.

Other alternatives are adding avocado, chickpea, mango, even cubes of meat if you want it as a meat alternative. I just wanted full carbohydrates, fibre and protein in a bowl. It filled me up rather well as I had some sides as well.

My sides were mushrooms with a garlic-parsley butter. They were cooked very simply with the butter on the cap of the mushrooms. Simple ingredients at it’s best.

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Meatless Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients: 

Quinoa Bowl-

  • 1/2 of cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup of water (Use vegetable stock for more flavour)
  • 1/2 can of red-kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 packet of corn, drained
  • 1/4 of green/red/yellow capsicum
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley (Use dried if you do not have fresh parsley on hand)
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper for seasoning

Garlic-Parsley Mushrooms-

  • About 2-3 mushrooms (Use portobello mushroom for my tummy-filling. I had to use shitaka mushrooms as my nearby supermarket ran out of portobello mushroom)
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon of butter, unsalted
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper

Directions: 

  1. Cook quinoa in a saucepan with water. Season well with salt.
  2. Slice the capisum into thin slices and fry them in shallow oil. To maintain crunchiness in them, fry them for no more than 2 minutes.
  3. Once quinoa is cooked (It would take about 20-30 minutes),in a large bowl, toss quinoa, capsicum, corn, beans and fresh chopped parsley together. Season with a good amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Do add cumin or paprika for more mediterranean flavours.
  4. To cook the mushrooms, prepare the garlic-parsley butter by melting butter in a microwave. Once the butter have melted, add the chopped parsley and garlic into the butter.
  5. On a pan with a little amount of oil, add mushrooms cap facing down, with the gills showing. Add the butter mixture into the gills and cover the pan.
  6. Allow the steam to cook the mushrooms. The mushrooms should be cooked in about 7 to 10 minutes.
  7. To plate, I rested the mushrooms on a bed of fresh spinach and quinoa on the side.

There you go! My Healthy and meatless mexican quinoa bowl. I ate it with hot sauce because hot sauce goes well with anything! I hope you have enjoyed this recipe and wish that you could give it a shot! Till next time, See you.

Spread Love & Be Kind. Xoxo Pei Gee

Stay connected with me on…

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Or drop me a mail at TPG22@hotmail.com