Friday, August 29, 2008

Lunch Club – Sarah’s Cannelloni Alternative (Low Carb)

We’re really serious about this whole healthy lunch thing.

For this week Sarah has prepared a Cannelloni Alternative. By “alternative” I mean the dish was similar to how you would do cannelloni except no cannelloni was used. What??? cannelloni without cannelloni? Yup!

Sarah used omelette instead of pasta! How clever! The end product was this low carb vary tasty alternative to a pasta dish.

But since I love carbs I had to have bread with the dish (defeats the low carb intent!). We served some Tigger Vienna loaf and cucumber and artichoke salad.

Below is her recipe:

Sarah’s Egg Cannelloni

for the stuffing:
finely shredded and steamed spinach
1 pot of cottage cheese (low fat of course!)

for the "cannelloni" (enough to make 4 pancakes on a breville toastie maker):
6 eggs
splash of milk

for the tomato sauce:
chopped garlic and onion
tin of whole tomatoes
squirt of tomato sauce (tacky but i love it!)

mix the spinach and cheese, and roll the mixture in the pancakes
spoon a layer of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, place the rolled pancakes on top, and pour the rest of the sauce over. top with herbs and seasoning.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lunch Club – Mike’s Beef Rendang

Mike cooked Beef Rendang about a couple of weeks ago. That was when we were still having incredibly rich food…with rice, of course.

It was spicy with just the right amount of heat. He served it with Basmati rice rather than the usual Jasmine. There’s the healthy bit for you. Basmati is supposedly low GI in comparison to Jasmine.

He used Bamboe branded Rendang paste. The cooking instructions are printed on the packet.

Thanks Mike! Your curries are good! No fried rice and noodles please…

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lunch Club – Sarah’s Tofu Flan

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but since we started Lunch Club we have been serving foods that are quite rich. The only time we get to eat something light and healthy is when it is Sarah’s turn to cook.

We've all agreed that we should change direction a little bit. So beginning this week each of us will endeavour to prepare something “not too rich”.

Let’s me first revisit Sarah’s Tofu Flan. The recipe is actually for a Spinach-Mushroom Quiche but i like Sarah's name for it better. It soounds a lot more artery friendly! The recipe can be found in 101 Cookbooks. I would have copied it below (just to add to the length of the post) but i'm not sure sure if i might be violating some copyright rule. Just follow the link!

For the crust, rolled oats and sesame seed were used instead of flour. For the filling, tofu was substituted for eggs and cheese. The result was this amazingly light and tasty flan (or quiche)!

I’ve bought some salad mix and some marinated bocconcini to serve with the quiche.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lunch Club – Pancit Sotanghon (Stir Fried Bean Thread Noodles)

Lunch Club is turning out to be a mini quest for me to introduce Filipino food to my community (made up of mostly non-Filipinos). Although Filipino food is equally as good as other Asian cuisines what we’re well known for outside of the Philippines is mainly classified as bizarre food. In fact, the only TV show that showcased Filipino cuisine was Bizarre Foods on the Travel & Living channel.

So anyway, in my own small way I am trying to make a difference. Today, we had Pancit Sotanghon (Stir Fried Bean Thread Noodles). Among all the stir fried noodles this is one I find the easiest to make. Bean Thread Vermicelli is quite forgiving in that it doesn’t break up quite easily like rice or egg noodles. You can have it cold like in a noodle salad. You can have it in a soup. Or like today’s menu, you can have it stir fried.

I especially like the texture of this noodle. It’s a bit jelly like. It doesn’t have a strong flavour like other types of noodles. It just absorbs the flavours of the other ingredients in the stir fry.

I made some Pan de Sal to go with the Sotanghon. Traditionally we squeeze Calamansi (Philippine Lime) into the noodles before eating but lemon would do for today.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I rarely get surprised. And when I do, I write about it! ;)

Food is my passion but I generally do not express this to every person I meet. On a recent trip to Gladstone (yes, again!) I spent a bit of time with our manager of that area. I don’t know what the reason was but at some point during my meeting with him the conversation turned to food (probably because I started to hear my tummy grumbling as it was close to lunch time and I can’t wait for my dose of Swain’s fish & chips). Amongst all the other food matters we talked about I mentioned to him that I actually have a blog (which is generally about food).

The surprise was Adro (not his real name to protect his “tough” identity) expressed how he’s some kind of a “foodie” as well. Well, they say food is the new porn. So maybe he’s a foodie in that sort of way. Just kidding! I don’t even know what I mean by that statement!

I just couldn’t believe it! This Adro guy that I’m talking about has a built of someone who probably works outside of a nightclub (read: bouncer) rather than inside the kitchen (read: cook). He’s 10 feet tall with a built of a rugby player! Actually, he was a professional rugby player in his younger years! So there you go! What a pleasant surprise it was!

In honour of this I have uploaded photos of his cooking from his favourite food magazine! No, I don’t know the name of the magazine. I also do not know the name of the dishes. Nevertheless, they all look very appetizing! Good on ya Adro!

Here’s the link to Adro’s oft visited food website:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Ube (Purple Yam) Ice Cream Experiment

What’s common to some can be quite exotic to others. Alain de Botton’s book titled The Art of Travel tackled this particular subject.

Now, to be more specific, what I thought were common ice cream flavours my colleagues thought of as exotic. I’m talking about Philippine ice cream flavours in particular.

The idea of an ice cream made from anything other than vanilla, chocolate or strawberry was just too exotic to some of my workmates.

I didn’t plan this experiment at all. But on a recent trip to Chinatown I brought two of my Lunch Club mates to a Filipino store. I wanted to get something uniquely Filipino that I think they would probably enjoy as well.

Why not get Filipino ice cream? I found a small tub of Ube (Purple Yam) ice cream made by Nestle. Some other more Pinoy brand would have been better but Nestle would do for now. Nestle just doesn’t seem uniquely Pinoy.


I brought this 425ml tub of ice cream back in the office. My Lunch Club mates were the first to try and the absolutely loved it! This gave me more confidence to ask some of my other colleagues to try it. As it was only a small tub a teaspoon size serving was all I could give to each one who was willing to try.

I’ve asked them to try the ice cream first before telling them the flavour. Some just couldn’t get past the purple colour of the ice cream. That was exotic enough for them not to even dare try. But a lot more were quite game and happily tasted the ice cream.

I wasn’t surprised with the result at all. Everyone who tried was very positive! Some even asked me to buy them a tub or two next time I do my Pinoy grocery shopping. It was a new taste sensation none of them could describe. No one was able to guess what the flavour was.

The idea of a root vegetable (or fruit, or root crop, or whatever you might to call it) as an ice cream flavour is now not so exotic anymore.

Ube (Purple Yam) today! Next comes Quezo (Cheese), Macapuno (Sweet Coconut), Mais (Sweet Corn), Langka At Kasuy (Jackfruit & Cashew), Halo-Halo (mixed fruit/preserves/beans), Durian, Avocado, etc.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lunch Club - Thit Heo Kho (Braised Pork Belly in Coconut Juice)

Pork belly would have to be my favourite cut of meat. I find it to be most versatile. You can roast it! You can barbecue it! You can braise it! You can cook it in whatever way you like! I like it because it has a lot of flavour thanks to the fat content of this cut of pork. It probably horrifies some health freaks out there but yes, I like FAT! I eat FAT! But I’m not FAT!

I always welcome new recipes that use pork belly. Thit Heo Kho (Vietnamese style Braised Pork with Egg) is new to me but it is well known to many Vietnamese for centuries!
There are a lot of similarities with the Filipino Pork Adobo. Both use the same cut of meat. A lot of garlic is used. The main points of difference are the addition of fish sauce, the use coconut juice/water instead of vinegar and lastly the addition of hard boiled eggs. The end product certainly looks very similar to the Adobo. But the gap is widened farther in the taste area. Thit Kho is more on the sweet/salty side. Adobo, on the other hand, is more on the salty/sour side. But both are very good!
Tramy served Thit Keo Kho with fresh salad leaves and some preserved mustard leaves (very similar to the Filipino "burong mustasa") to balance the richness of the dish.
Again, thanks to our miss from Saigon for introducing Lunch Club to another gem!
Here’s the recipe courtesy of Food Safari on SBS television:
Thit Heo Kho
1 kg pork belly (not too fatty), cut into 5 cm cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 shallots (small brown onion bulbs), finely chopped
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tbsp dark soy sauce
4 star anise
½ tsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
2 whole green shallots 1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ white onion, finely diced
3 cups (1 bag) young coconut juice (not milk or cream!)
1½ cups water
8 hard boiled, free range eggs, peeled
Jasmine rice and coriander, to serve

Combine pork belly, garlic, shallot, fish sauce, soy sauces, pepper, star anise and palm sugar. Use the whole shallot including roots. Lay on a chopping board and smash with the flat side of the knife then chop finely. Add to marinade. Marinate pork for at least 3 hours or overnight. Heat vegetable oil in heavy based pan and brown onion. Remove pork from marinade and add to the pan and seal over high heat. Add coconut juice, marinade and water. Bring pan to the boil and skim surface. Simmer for 1 hour on low heat (skimming occasionally) and then add eggs. Simmer for a further hour. Serve with steamed Jasmine rice and garnished with coriander.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Christmas in July '08

I’ve never heard of this “Christmas in July” concept until I came to Australia.

look at that spread

I’m originally from the Philippines where the weather is quite warm most times of the year. But during the Christmas season it actually gets cooler. If you like, Christmas actually feels like “TV” Christmas in the Philippines. Not quite white but it certainly feels Christmassy in the northern hemisphere sort of way.

Winter in Queensland this year feels a lot cooler than previous years. Is it due to global warming (God help us!)? Or is it just part of a normal cycle? Whatever the case may be, we have a good enough reason to celebrate Christmas in July. Thanks to Sarah who has organised the whole thing.

Quintessential Aussie (or is it NZ?) dessert...the Pavlova

The initial email that was sent out inviting everyone to participate has a lacklustre response. I was quite surprised to see a lot more faces when the day finally arrived. Not only that, everyone actually made an effort to bring something to share.

what's Christmas without Krispy Kreme

As I was actually away the day before the even I didn’t have time to prepare anything. Guess what I ended up bringing? It was a hit though!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Apple Tea (as inspired by Marketman)

I have been reading Marketman’s blog for quite some time now. I know the author has got a love hate relationship with the Philippine Daily Inquirer but it was actually through this newspaper that I found out about his site. Anyway, this post is about a Marketmanila post about Apple Tea.

I love coffee but I also love tea. And for the past few months or so I have only been drinking tea, jasmine green tea, in particular. I’m not tired of it yet but I felt quite inspired to try Marketman’s recipe. The recipe seems simple enough. It doesn’t require to fly to Turkey (or anywhere else just to source ingredients). Everything I need can be found in the (office) kitchen.

Here’s the recipe from Marketmanila:

“Pour some boiling water into a tea pot or glass with about 1/2 of a nice sweet apple (I used a royal gala, peeled and sliced thinly) and a black tea bag and let this steep for a few minutes and remove the tea bag. Add some sugar if desired and voila!, homemade apple tea!”

I don’t know how the Turkish one tasted but mine came out nice enough. The apple flavour was quite subtle. Should I have used a different variety of apple? I used Royal Gala. I didn’t peel it though. I thought the peel would make the apple flavour more intense. Maybe I should have. I also did not add sugar to mine. Maybe sugar will bring out more of the apple taste. Maybe next time.