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: Chinese-style Steamed Egg Custard

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This recipe is not vegan-friendly but so good for other non-meat eaters in general because it’s so easy, so nutritious (eggs basically contain everything required for some cells to turn into a chick) and easy to digest! There are also so many variants of it!

Growing up I used to love this with some marinated minced pork and salted veggies at the bottom. You can add anything or nothing (just eggs and water) to this dish BUT the key thing is to get it silken smooth like a block of tofu! The secret lies in getting rid of air bubbles before steaming and steaming it at a low heat so it doesn’t bubble up. Because when it does, the end result will be a honeycomb-like texture.

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Chinese-Style Steamed Egg Custard

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

3 Large Eggs (retain the larger half of a broken shell)

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons Sesame Oil

1/2 cup Spring onions (for garnish)

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Method:

1. Break 3 eggs into a bowl.

2. Using 1 of the broken egg shells as a measuring cup, put in 1.5 x worth of water into the eggs. If there are 3 eggs, you fill the 1/2 broken egg shell 9 times.

3. Prepare the steaming vessel and bring the water to a boil. (I used a wok with a rack and filled up the water to a level where it wouldn’t touch my bowl during steaming.)

4. Add sesame oil and soy sauce into the beaten egg. Stir thoroughly.

5. Using a sieve, pour the egg mixture into the bowl you’ll be using for steaming. The sieve makes the mixture smoother and prevents the little bubbles from forming, thus ruining the silken smooth texture of the final product.

6. Lower the heat. (I use a low heat – setting 2 or 3). Put the bowl with the egg mixture into the steaming vessel.

7. Cover and steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

8. Upon serving, garnish with chopped spring onions!

T and I had this for lunch with the GARDEIN Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips, a Sesame oil and Ginger Stirfry (which I will share the recipe of soon), and steamed brown Jasmine rice.

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Meatless Monday: Easy Peasy Pilaf



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What in the world is Pilaf? Does it sound fancy to you? Don’t worry!

It’s simply rice cooked in a seasoned broth and there are many variations throughout the Middle East, South Asia, East Africa and many other places. This is my version – fast, cheap, easy and flavourful!

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Easy Peasy Pilaf 

Serves 3 to 4. Prep Time: 2 mins. Cooking Time: 20 mins.

2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water and 1 cube veg stock)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 cup of diced tomatoes (I used ready diced ones in a can)

1/2 teaspoon powdered nutmeg (optional)

1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon (optional)

5 cloves (optional)

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Method:

1. Heat up a pan and melt the butter.

2. Brown the rice in the melted butter. Stir occasionally. Cook for 5 minutes.

3. Turn heat up high.

4. Add garlic,  paprika, chili powder, powdered nutmeg, powdered cinnamon, cloves and diced tomatoes.

5. Turn heat down to medium-high when it starts to bubble.

6. Stir occasionally. Cook for about 10 – 15 minutes until rice has softened and all fluids absorbed.

7. Serve!

This dish is great served cold as leftovers the next day too.

I served mine with Gardein’s Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips – one of T’s favourite flavours of soy meats (we stock up when we find a good price with additional coupon savings). You can eat this Pilaf alone, or with side dishes – everything from some pan-fried tofu, eggs over easy or just lightly buttered greens!


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Meatless Monday: Savoury Meat-Free Muffins

IMG_1283This was an experiment that went right and I was really surprised. Not only was it easy and cheap to make, it was delicious, low-fat AND easy to pack for a lunchbox (or a picnic). The key thing here is a muffin pan – it helps shapes these savoury bites. I guess you could use your hands, roll them into a ball, then plonk them onto a flat baking sheet and hope they stay in shape while baking.

You can substitute any of the herbs and spices below with anything you have in the kitchen (even a simple salt and pepper mix will do). The herbs and spices* basically give the plain all-purpose flour some flavour. Add dried chili flakes if you want a bit of kick.

T thought they tasted like turkey stuffing and were very filling. He had 2 for dinner, followed by some home baked chocolate cake and ice cream. Then before we went to bed, he said he wished he had more of the muffins. Lucky for him, I had prepared some for his lunch the next day.IMG_1281IMG_1282

Savoury Meat-Free Muffins

Serves 4 – 6. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes.

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (or contents of 1 tin)

1 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts (I bought 1 small tin of these)

1 cup flour

1 cup low fat shredded cheese

1 large egg

1 tablespoon dried basil*

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder*

1/2 tablespoon paprika*

1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary*

2 cups dried breadcrumbs (I bashed some saltines in a bowl with a ice cream scoop for this)

1/2 tablespoon of Olive Oil (or cooking spray to grease the pan)

Method:

1. Chop up mushrooms and water chestnuts as small as you can (do not blend in a food processor because you’ll lose some “bite”), then mix it up in a large bowl with the flour, egg, butter, shredded cheese, as well as all the herbs and spices.

2. Keep mixing the contents of the bowl until a ball forms.

3. Pour your breadcrumbs (or bash some saltines) in a separate bowl.

4. Split your wet mixture into 6 – 8 large balls to prepare for rolling in the breadcrumbs. (I used the ice cream scoop but you can do it in any way.)

5. Roll each ball thoroughly in the breadcrumbs then plonk every single one into an individually greased cup of the muffin pan.

6. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 425degF.

7. Remove from oven and let cool.

I served mine with some tomato-based pasta sauce that I had prepared with sauteed onions and some additional herbs. You can eat it with ketchup or any of your favourite sauces.IMG_1284For T’s lunch, I packed 4 muffins and some sauce in separate containers for easy reheating at work. Make these muffin larger or smaller as you wish. They are savoury and satisfying!