An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Black Pepper Beef

This is the Chinese-style black pepper sauce I’m most familiar with. Growing up in Singapore, I’ve had this kind of sauce doused over spaghetti (SO GOOD), pork chops and even a burger patty. The recipe I’m sharing is a super easy version of it and can be modified in so many ways – add sliced mushrooms and green bell peppers if you want more than just onions in it – they work so well too! At the same time, you don’t have to use Gardein Beefless Tips like I did here. You can use any veggie meat or even extra firm tofu cut into cubes (be sure to press down down and pat dry so you can get rid of the excess water for a firmer product).

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Vegetarian Black Pepper Beef

Serves 2-4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 – 20 minutes.

2 teaspoons ground black pepper (freshly cracked makes a difference)

1 packet GARDEIN Beefless Tips

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (or dry sherry)

2 teaspoons starch

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, cut into 1/2″ squares

IMG_9211Method:

  1. Heat a wok or cast iron skillet over medium high heat until hot.
  2. Add the oil, and then immediately add the onions, and continue stir-frying until slightly translucent (about 3-4 minutes).
  3. Add the the beefless tips and let it brown (about 6-7 minutes).
  4. While waiting for the beefless tips to brown, mix up all the sauce ingredients in a bowl (including water). Blend and stir mixture.
  5. Pour black pepper sauce mixture over browned beefless tips.
  6. Serve hot.

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The day I made this, I served it with a ring of steamed broccoli (you can also toss the broccoli in while stir-frying the beefless tips). Also, we had brown rice and ABC soup! YUM…


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Meatless Monday: Kuah Satay Linguine

IMG_5939I’ve been having the weirdest PB&J cravings lately and I’m not even a fan of peanut butter. Dare I say, I don’t even like Reese’s Pieces? For some reason, it goes really well with the Oatmeal Walnut loaf that I baked (using THIS RECIPE). After eating it 4 days in a row, I had a craving for satay gravy (or kuah satay). I loved satay and when I ate meat, my favourite were chicken and lamb satay. I’d eat lots of raw onions (YES), cucumber chunks and ketupat while dunking the barbecued meat skewers generously in the peanut gravy. Oddly enough, my inspiration for this dish is not the Satay Beehoon commonly found in Singapore but pad thai (hence the use of linguine).

Peanuts are a wonderful protein source for vegetarians. I’m very concerned about the protein levels in our meals because T is a big guy and he mentioned several times that he doesn’t think he’s eating enough protein required for his height/weight. Peanuts and peanut butter are great in lieu of meat, and in this recipe, I use both.

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KUAH SATAY LINGUINE

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cook Time: 15 minutes.

Pasta (enough for 2)

3 tablespoons lime/lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 cup hot water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup crushed peanuts

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

Handful of spring onions (for garnish)

Method:

1. Cook pasta as directed.

2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except crushed peanuts and spring onions. Whisk.

3. Pour the peanut sauce over cooked and drain pasts. Mix to coat noodles.

4. Serve with crushed peanuts over noodles and garnish with spring onions.

HOW EASY WAS THAT??

The best part is that this dish tastes delicious cold too. Keep the extra sauce separately in the fridge and pour over the cold noodles to re-coat them the next day. Also, add more crushed red pepper if you like it spicier!

Want to use this sauce for your satay skewers? Just add another tablespoon of peanut butter (and switch to chunky peanut butter if you want), and throw in the crushed peanuts to mix. It’s that simple!

I served this yesterday for lunch with boiled edamame soya bean pods and BeyondMeat Chicken-Free Strips which I grilled with some Panda Express Mandarin Sauce.

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Meatless Monday: Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

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Prior to this, I’ve done 2 stirfry recipes (methods?) in my other Meatless Monday posts. Both of which required the use of minced garlic. The thing is, not everybody likes the taste of garlic and some people (like staunch Buddhists) don’t consume garlic at all. Here’s another simple Chinese-style stirfry method that I use. It’s basically 3 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes from start to end – HOW EASY IS THAT?!

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Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 10 minutes.

3 tablespoons Sesame Oil

1/2 cup of sliced ginger

2-3 cups of any kind of chopped veggies of your choice (I just used a frozen pre-packaged mix)

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Method:

1. Peel ginger root, cut into thin slices, then julienne them into matchsticks.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan or wok.

3. Add the ginger matchsticks into the oil and fry till they turn golden brown.

4. Add the veggies (I don’t even bother defrosting mine) and fry till vegetables are soft.

5. Serve hot!

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That is all! And that was what we had for lunch the other day!


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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

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These are Chinese-style dumplings. In my books, they are both wantans (or wontons) and jiaozi. I had a craving for Chinese dumplings in soup and because I now live in Las Vegas, it’s not like I can just go across the street to buy them for S$3 with a belly-warming clear broth. You might have heard this from me before but I’ll say it again, hot soup on a cold day is like a much-needed hug from within… so so comforting!

So anyway, I did the best I could with what I had and T thinks they’re not different from the ones he’s eaten at P. F. Chang’s. Most cooks would probably find that insulting seeing that it’s bastardised Chinese food – but not me. I’m not a cook, you see. I’m a vegetarian trying to make meatless home-cooked meals that are budget-friendly and require almost no effort at all. And if it satisfies my cravings and feeds my husband, I’m happy to share the recipe. 

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Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

Serves 2 to 4. Yields about 25 dumplings. Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 1/2 cups mushrooms (I used a tin of straw mushrooms)

1/2 cup water chestnuts 

1 large onion 

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce (Mushroom sauce)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon corn starch

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder 

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg (used as a wash to seal edges)

Wonton wrappers 

Method:

1. Dice and sautee onions in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil till they are soft and reduced. (Sauteeing them releases their natural sweetness)

2. Mince mushrooms and water chestnuts. 

3. Mix and stir all the ingredients – sauteed onions, minced mushooms, minced water chestnuts, pepper, ginger powder, salt, cornstarch, sesame oil and vegetarian oyster sauce.

4. Prepare wonton wrappers by putting them between moistened kitchen towels to prevent them from drying out.

5. Put a teaspoon of the filling into a wonton wrapper and seal the edges with egg. I dipped my pinkie finger in the egg white and painted the diagonal edges so that it folds up into a triangle parcel. You can stop here or pull the opposite ends of the bottom together and seal again with egg white. Pinch all edges tightly! 

6. Prepare a pot of boiling water while you’re making the dumplings.

7. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water. Once they float, you know they’re done!

I served them very simply with mee sua cooked in a broth of vegetable stock (2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 vegetable stock cube) with egg drop and some julienned lettuce (raw). 

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Meatless Monday: Veggie Burger

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Here’s something I made from scratch – burger patties and the burger buns! If I can do it, so can you. The burger buns recipe is actually French Bread Rolls to Die For found on allrecipes.com. I will continue experimenting with the bread but the patties are good on their own, so if you have no bread, just eat them alone anyway.

The recipe below is for 6 burger patties and is an original.

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Veggie Burger

Serves 6. Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

2 cups water

1/2 cup dried lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced canned tomatoes (I used Fire Roasted but you can use any kind)

2 cups beans (I used chickpeas but you can use pinto or anything else)

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup shredded cheddar (I used Cheddar Jack)

1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko because it’s so crunchy)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground tumeric (Optional)

2 large eggs (beaten)

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Method:

1. Boil lentils in water for about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Drain and mash.

2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients (tomatoes, beans, lentils, corn, cheese, spices, egg, breadcrumbs except olive oil) and mix till thoroughly combined. Best to use hands and feel free to squish everything. Quite fun! LALAALA…

3. Divide the mixture into 6 patties.

4. Fry the patties in olive oil over medium-high heat. Try not to crowd the pan. Cook 3 – 5 minutes on each side until brown.

5. Serve on its own or in a burger bun!

YUM! I popped the 2 leftover patties into a toaster oven for lunch the next day and it was soooo good with extra spicy sambal!

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Meatless Monday: Vegan Corn Soup

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This is a super easy one-pot dinner dish – such a hearty soup, made within minutes and cooked in a rice cooker (in lieu of a slow cooker). I swear, even the meat-eaters won’t feel too icky about this chunky vegan-friendly soup. Of course, the man featured above (aka my husband T) is a vegetarian BUT he is a non-salad-eating vegetarian so that should count for something right?

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Vegan Corn Soup
Serves 2 to 4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots (finely sliced)
2 garlic cloves (lightly smashed with the back of a knife)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon chili flakes (or paprika)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes (I used a fire-roasted one but any will do)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (okay even if frozen)
1 lb carrots (about 3 cups chopped up)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dried basil for garnishing
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Method:
1. In a pot, put vegetable stock to boil. If you are using cube stock, use 1 cube and 3 cups of water.
2. In a pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and garlic. Fry until lightly brown.
3. Add chopped carrots, browned shallots and garlic, canned tomatoes, chili flakes, salt, and ground ginger to the boiling vegetable stock.
4. Once carrots are tender, use an immersion blender (stick blender) or pour out into a food processor to blend.
5. Transfer into rice cooker to continue cooking. (I changed the setting to PORRIDGE on mine.)
6. Add corn and lemon juice into the soup (which is already in the rice cooker).
7. Cover to cook for 15 minutes or leave in rice cooker for as long as you need to keep it warm.
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Upon ladling, I add dried basil for garnishing and served it with these easy to make French Bread Rolls to Die For (which were crusty on the outside and so fluffy on the inside). Also, there’s no shame in telling you that it’s so easy to cook that I basically did the prep work, then while waiting for the carrots to get tender, loaded the washing machine, then made the rest of the soup, left it in the rice cooker then went to watch TV. When the laundry was done, I loaded the dryer and went about making the bread and while waiting for the bread to rise (and the laundry to dry), watched more TV. And while the bread was baking, I watched more TV while folding laundry. I felt like a Super Susie Homemaker that day when my husband came home to freshly laundered clothes and a healthy dinner made from scratch even though I basically couch-potatoed it for most of the day. HAHAHA! Now on to create more meatless meals that take no time at all to make…
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Meatless Monday: Crusty Curry Puff

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I recall trying to explain what curry puffs (or specifically the Malay epok epok we were eating) were to the members of MUTEMATH less than a year ago. When I said they were savoury Southeast Asian empanadas, Roy Mitchell, their bassist immediately got it. He said they were very similar to what he makes at home. Paul Meany, their lead vocalist though, got a little shock when he bit into one because he was expecting them to be sweet, not savoury. Those ones we ate had a dry curried potato filling AND this is exactly what I am sharing today – Malay-style epok epok. The crispy, blistered crust… oh my gawd! I am salivating as I write this.

I have to qualify and say that the crust recipe is not mine. I’d like to thank my friend Syahan for sharing it with me. I failed once before using her recipe to success! My recipe for the filling however, is mine, and super simple as always with my style.

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Vegetarian Curry Potato Filling for Epok Epok

Makes filling for 24. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 big onion diced (you should get about 1 1/2 cups worth)

4 big potatoes (you should get about 5 – 6 cups worth after dicing)

1 tin of Carrot & Sweet Peas (Or you can dice 1 1/2 cups worth from scratch)

3 hard boiled eggs (slivered into 24 pieces)

2 tablespoon cooking oil

2 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

Method:

1. Boil potatoes until they are soft, then peel and dice into as small as you can get them.

2. Fry onions in cooking oil until slightly translucent, add carrots, peas and potatoes into the pan and continue stirring for about 2 minutes.

3. Add curry powder, salt and sugar into the frying pan.

4. Cook till the mixture is slightly mushy. (see the before and after effect in the photo above.

5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the filling into each flattened dough then add a sliver of egg. Do this 24 times till all your dough is used up. You might have some filling left. Eat it on its own. OMG yum!

See the recipe below for dough and cooking each epok epok.

This is copied directly from Syahan and I didn’t alter a word:

Epok Epok Dough

500 gm plain flour

3 tablespoon butter / margarine

40 ml cooking oil

200 ml warm water

1/2 tsp salt to taste

1. Melt butter / margarine in cooking oil. Till all melt and combined. Set aside to cool slightly only.

2. Add hot oil and melted butter into flour and stir using wooden spoon. Be careful oil mixture can be hot here.

3. Slowly add water bit by bit to knead dough till non sticky consistency and soft dough. Do not have to add all the water if you have reached the consistency.

4. Leave dough to rest for 20minutes.

5. Weigh each dough to 20 gm and shape into balls.

6. When ready, flatten dough will rolling pin (to thickness of your preference. Not too thin nor thick.)

7. Add filling and fold the sides. Or use the back of a fork to close the sides.

8. Deep fry into hot oil.

I have no weighing scale so instead, I used 4 cups of all purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. It worked for me! Also, instead of weighing each dough to 20gm, I spilt them into 24 equal (sorta) balls. How I ended up with 24 was divide the entire ball into 3 equally big ones, then split each big ball into 2 and then the 2 medium balls into 4 each. So, try my method if you don’t have a kitchen scale.

Instead of using a fork to close the package, I folded the circular pastry in half and then tried to crimp it by pinching/folding. Try it either way! As you can see, I’m not very good at it either. But it does the job of sealing the puff and keeping the filling in.

Mmmmm… Sometimes I dip it in sweet Thai chili sauce and it’s such a perfect match!

Do you like epok epok or the Old Chang Kee type of curry puffs?