Know Your Ingredient – Nutmeg

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Description

This is a brown-colored hard seed from the nutmeg tree that gives a spicy sweet taste. This originates from Indonesia but can also be found in the Caribbean (Grenada).

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Nutmeg has anti-oxidant, health promoting and disease preventing properties. It’s a good source of minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. It has also B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, and folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin A.

Medical Use

In traditional medicine, it is used as anti-depressant, anti-fungal, aphrodisiac and carminative agent. It also aids digestion and prevents constipation.

Culinary Use

Nutmeg is a popular spice. It can be used in preparing many dishes and recipes. It can be used in making cakes and pastries, and can also be added in making smoothies. Nutmeg is considered a natural flavoring in baked goods, syrups, sweets and beverages.

Fried Rice Last Night!

Hubby came home yesterday afternoon and had a cross between a late afternoon snack and early dinner, then said he probably won’t eat much for dinner because he was full.

With enough leftover boiled jasmine in the cooker, I decided to simply cook fried rice for dinner. One of my ways of recycling food that’s still too good to toss in the bin.

While I didn’t take notes during the preparing and cooking process, I will just do my best to recall how I made it. And since I didn’t really do exact measurements of the amounts of the ingredients I mixed in the dish, feel free to have more or less of the ingredients, depending on how you like it.

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LAST NIGHT’S FRIED RICE

Cooking oil
2 eggs, well beaten
A handful of chicken fillet
50g butter
3 cups cold cooked rice
1 brown onion, sliced
1 piece carrot, chopped to small bits
1 small can of corn kernels, rinsed and drained
A handful of frozen green peas
2 tablespoons fried garlic (we already have fried garlic, so I used that)
A handful of cooked prawns, shelled and each sliced into 2 or 3 parts
Soy sauce to taste
Tomato sauce to taste
Tabasco sauce (optional)
Salt to taste
Ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat oil on pan. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with salt. Fry well beaten egg in the pan until cooked. Take out of the pan, slice to small strips and set aside.

Slice chicken fillet into small parts. Fry in pan until thoroughly cooked. Roughly break up cooked chicken into smaller bits using a wooden spoon. Add butter and onions. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add carrots and corn. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add cold rice. Break up rice and mix well with the other ingredients in the pan. Add soy sauce, tomato sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and ground cayenne pepper to taste. (You can skip the Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper, if you don’t like it spicy.) Mix everything well and cook over medium heat.  Continue to stir every now and then for about 10 minutes.

Add sliced cooked prawns, frozen green peas, and fried garlic. Combine well with the rest of the dish. Cook over low heat for another 5-10 minutes, stirring every now and then so the bottom part doesn’t get burnt.  Serve warm.

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Oh, by the way, hubby ended up eating dinner after this. In fact, he had to stop himself from eating much of this so he could still have enough fried rice to pack for lunch at work today. Lol!

Know Your Ingredient – Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Description
Lemon Balm is a herbal plant that belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. Its leaves are heart-shaped and deeply veined characterized by a mild lemon scent. It grows up to 150 cm tall. It produces white flowers during summer, which attracts the bees. The flavor of this herbal plant comes from its contents like citronellal, geranial, linalyl acetate and caryophyllene.

Nutrients
Lemon Balm contains phenolic compounds, rosmarinic, protocatechuic acids, caffeic, and flavonoids.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use
This herbal plant has been known to cure cold sores, stomach upset, sleep disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used to cure colic to breastfed babies. It also helps in maintaining a normal blood pressure. The leaves are known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s a good treatment for flu, insomnia, indigestion, depression, and Herpes virus. It also acts a memory booster.

Culinary Use
Lemon Balm has a delicate lemon flavor and has been widely used in making dishes. It is a good garnish to fruit salads and drinks.

Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca pudding is one dessert you can serve at a Chinese themed event. It’s actually called by many names. I think some call it Tapioca Pearls With Coconut Milk, and the most interesting name (which I think is how most Chinese folks call it), the Frog Egg Dessert.
A guest in one of our dinners before was this guy from Taiwan. Yup, he speaks and reads Chinese, but he also knows English. Anyway, when I served this tapioca dessert at that dinner, I asked him (for confirmation), “Is this a Chinese dessert?” He said, “Yes, it is” and commented further that they call it as Frog Egg Dessert.
Unfortunately, one of our female guests didn’t quite get what he had said, and she thought that the dessert was made of real eggs of real frogs….and refused to have any!  Oh dear, we had a good laugh at that, and so we had to help her understand that it’s just a name, because its appearance closely resemble frogs’ eggs, but that those round little things are actually tapioca pearls. She was quite relieved, and finally agreed to have some. 🙂
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 And so, here’s the basic recipe for this delicious dish:
TAPIOCA PUDDING
2/3 cup of small uncooked tapioca pearls
Water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sugar
Note: Start preparing this recipe hours before you need it. You can chill it in the fridge while waiting for your guests.
In a pan, heat about 3 cups of water. Dissolve sugar in it before bringing it to a boil. As soon as it boils, lower the heat and add in the whole milk. Mix well.
Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk. (Do not boil the coconut milk, as it would turn the mixture rather oily). Let the mixture cool in room temperature, then place in the fridge to chill.
Meanwhile (or about a couple of hours later), soak the tapioca pearls in water for at least 30 minutes. The tapioca pearls will be absorbing the water and expand and turn into soft, bright white pearls. Drain.  Place in a pot with some water and bring to a boil. Remember to constantly stir the tapioca pearls in the water, so they cook more evenly and so they don’t stick together in huge masses.
When the tapioca pearls have all turned clear, remove from heat.  Drain and add the tapioca pearls into the coconut milk mixture. You may continue to chill them in the fridge, or you can serve them right away in smaller bowls or cups, with a bit of sliced fruits on top.

Know Your Ingredient – Cardamom

cardamom

Description

Cardamom is native to the evergreen rain forest of southern Indian Kerala state and grown in only a few tropical countries. The spice features three-sided pods with a thin, yet tough papery outer cover. Inside, tiny, deep-brown to black, aromatic seeds are arranged in vertical rows with each grain unsheathed again inside a very thin membrane. There are two types of cardamom pods: the green cardamom pod and the black cardamom pod. Generally, the plant can grow up to four meters in length.

Nutrients 

Cardamom is a good source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of iron and manganese. In addition to that, it is rich in many vital vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health. It as well contains many essential volatile oils that include pinene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, limonene, 1, 8-cineole, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-oil, a-terpineol, a-terpineol acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol, and trans-nerolidol.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use

Cardamom has antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic properties. It also helps control heart rate and blood pressure. It is a good source of manganese which is a very powerful free-radical scavenger. It helps in red blood cell formation and cellular metabolism.

Culinary Use

Cardamom is being used as flavoring agent in both soups, foods, and revitalizing drinks. Many sweet dishes in Asian countries use cardamom.

Mermaid Jello Salad

This recipe has been adapted from an old sweetened fruit salad recipe. While the original recipe required slices of various types of fruits, this recipe omitted that and, instead, used only gelatin cubes in colours associated with the mermaid party theme. As well as shredded young coconut, you may also add cooked tapioca pearls (the larger sized ones, almost similar in size to the gelatin cubes) to this sweet salad to balance its sweetness, and for that additional “mermaid” appeal.

Mermaid Jello

Ingredients:
1 packet green gelatin powder (any flavour)
1 packet blue gelatin powder (any flavour)
1 packet purple gelatin powder (any flavour)
Boiling water
Cold water
Thick cream
Condensed milk
Shredded young coconut (optional)

In separate bowls, prepare the gelatin (separately, by colour) according to packet instructions, using the boiling water, then cold water. (For firmer gelatin, slightly reduce the amount of water to be added to each bowl of gelatin powder.) Chill gelatin until completely set.

Slice gelatin into small cubes. Place all the gelatin cubes in a large bowl. Add cream and shredded young coconut (optional). Add condensed milk, until desired sweetness is achieved. Mix well. Scoop into small bowls to serve.

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Love the mermaid themed label card used in the photo? Get it HERE.

Know Your Ingredients – Cumin

 Description
Cumin is an aromatic spice with a unique bitter flavor and strong, warm tang due to its abundant oil content. Cumin looks like caraway, which is oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in color. However, cumin is hotter to the taste, lighter in color, and larger. Its seeds come in three colors: amber, black and white.

Nutrients
Per 2 teaspoon serving, cumin has 16% iron, 7% manganese, 4% copper, 4% calcium, 4% magnesium, 3% Vitamin B1 and 3% phosphorus.

Health Benefits and Medical Use
Aside from giving flavor to food, cumin has also many uses when it comes to health and disease prevention. It is a good source of iron for energy and immune function. Cumin seeds have also been noted to have good effects to the digestive system. It stimulates the production of pancreatic enzymes which are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Furthermore, cumin seeds have anti-carcinogenic properties that help in the prevention of cancer.

Culinary Uses
Cumin matches well with beans, chicken, couscous, curry, eggplant, fish, lamb, lentils, peas, pork, potatoes, rice, sausages, soups, stews, and eggs.

Know Your Ingredient – Coriander

coriander

Description
Coriander is also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania. It is from the family Apiaceae that grows annually. It’s a soft plant that can grow up to 50 cm tall. The leaves have different shapes, largely lobed at the base of the plant, and small and downy higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in tiny umbels, uneven, white or very pale pink in color, with the petals pointing away from the center of the umbel longer than those pointing toward it. The fruit is globular in shape and about 3-5 mm in diameter. Coriander has different description of its taste. Those who like it say it has a refreshing, lemony or lime-like flavor, while those who dislike it says it’s like soap and bugs.

Nutrients
In a 100g amount, coriander leaves are mainly rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, with reasonable content of dietary minerals. Even though seeds generally have lower content of vitamins, they have considerable amounts of dietary fiber, calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium and manganese per 100 g.

Health Benefits
Coriander has linoleic acid and known to have components of essential oils that are used to treat skin inflammation. It has detoxifying and antiseptic properties used to cure skin disorders. They also reduce the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) deposition along the inner walls of the arteries and veins, which can lead to serious cardiovascular issues like artherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. It is also helpful in curing diarrhea caused by microbial and fungal action, since components like Cineole, Borneol, Limonene, Alpha-pinene & beta-phelandrene have antibacterial effects. Coriander is also known to treat many disorders like diabetes, hypertension, mouth ulcers, conjunctivitis, menstrual problems, and small pox. It has also components that aids in digestion, bone development and eye care.

Culinary Uses
Coriander leaves and seeds are both used in culinary arts. The seeds are used as spices while the leaves are used as herbs. It is also used in all sorts of cuisines, from Latin American to Asian. In Mexico and the United States, fresh coriander leaves are frequently used as a garnish for salsas and spicy soups.

Know Your Ingredient – Sage

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General Description

Sage is a grayish green colored herb that has a soft, sweet flavor. It is grown and available anytime of the year. It had been declared as the “Herb of the Year” in 2001.

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Sage contains volatile oils and flavonoids that help maintain stability of oxygen-related metabolism. It also promotes better brain functioning and increases I.Q. It is ads, and also a rich source of carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, sodium, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids and amino acids.

Medical Use

Sage is found effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It can also lower bad cholesterol and increase mental performance. Diarrhea, heartburn, stomach pain and other gastrointestinal problems can be corrected by sage. Asthmatic people also use it as inhaler and some found it effective for dysmenorrhea, and reduction of hot flashes during menopause.

Culinary Use

Sage is used as a seasoning or a spice. It can be added in tomato sauce, or to omelets and frittatas. Pizzas are also sprinkled with sage. It can also be found in salads and in baked chicken.

Know Your Ingredient – BAY LEAF

bay leaves

General Description
An herb from the evergreen bay laurel tree that has aromatic leaves. This is considered one of the well-recognized leaf-spices used since the earliest times. It has dark green leaves and flower buds.

Nutrients and Health Benefits
Bay leaves have several compounds, vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimum health. They are rich sources of vitamin C which is known to boost our immune system. Its fresh leaves are also good sources of folic acid which are necessary in DNA synthesis. Furthermore, bay leaves are very good in vitamin A that maintains our skin health.

Medical Use
Medically, bay leaves have astringent, appetite-stimulant, and diuretic effects. They are also known to soothe stomach ulcers and are used to treat colic pain and flatulence. Aside from that, its leaf has also an insect repellent property, and can also aid in the treatment of arthritis, bronchitis, and muscle pain.

Culinary Use
Bay leaves are commonly used as spices along with sage, savory, celery and basil. The leaves can be dried and be made into an herbal tea. It’s also a main ingredient in making sauces like bread sauce, béchamel, and tomato sauce. It’s also used to flavor sweets like custards, creams, and sweet breads.