Kitchen Tips // Don’t make this mistake

I sat down with Chef Clement to talk oils, because in our circles, oil is a pretty hot topic! :) We want to know – which are the best, how to use them, how to properly store them… Chef is all about cooking and eating foods that makes you feel your best – so I thought why not ask him about his approach.

Honestly, I expected to come back to you with a long list of oils everyone should have in their pantry , but his answer was: Keep It Simple! And I have to say, I like that attitude much more!

cookingtoomanyoils

When it comes to choosing an oil – you have plenty of options, each boasting different health benefits. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m quick to pick up the latest healthy oil and enjoy having variety for my salad dressings and cooking. In my house right now, I have:

Pumpkin Seed, Grapeseed Oil, Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Safflower Oil, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil and Infused Chili Oil. 

And if you’re like me – you’re going mostly cold-pressed, extra virgin oils for the health benefits. But, these oils are highly perishable, and every time you use them, you’re exposing it to light and air causing it to oxidize and go rancid quicker.

toomanyoilsThe oils in my kitchen today…

If you have have a few different oils on the go – ask yourself - can you really consume them all before they turn rancid? Once a bottle has been opened, it should be consumed – on average  - within six months. The more stable oils like coconut and olive oil can go for up to 1 year. 

But, unlike wine, there is no benefit to keeping oil for a long time. Within 60 days of opening, the oil will begin to oxidize and change in flavor. So, instead of stocking your kitchen with different oils – Chef Clement recommends that we go minimal and stick with one or two at a time. 

goodamountofoilsKeeping it simple

  • One heat-stable oil for cooking, like refined olive oil or coconut oil (or butter)
  • One cold-pressed oil for salads, like extra virgin olive oil

Once you’ve finished a bottle, you can always try another new type of oil. It’s always good to play and experiment, but perhaps not with too many at the same time!

Pro Tips:

  1. If you cook daily, don’t use from the oil bottle directly. To avoid constant light and oxygen exposure, decant your oil into a smaller oil dispenser or squeeze condiment bottle and re-fill it as you need. Store the main bottle of oil in a cool, dark cupboard.
  2. Add variety and flavour to the same oil by using different ingredients:
  • Blend some oil with fresh herbs and use it throughout the week in your cooking. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week
  • When you roast veggies like capsicum, mix the juice in with the oil. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week
  • Use freshly squeezed juices like calamansi lime, orange or pineapple to create new dressings and sauces! Store in the fridge for up to 1 week
  • Stock up on vinegars! Try fruit vinegars, apple cider, red wine, balsamic – they are more shelf stable and will produce completely different flavors!

Hope this helps you! Chatting with Chef, really helped me to simplify my kitchen even more – so I wanted to pass along this tip to you too!

PS: If you have a ton of oils in your kitchen, here are some other great ways to use them:

Do you live in Singapore? Check out Chef Clement’s take-out cafe, Simply Eden! Get the red velvet muffin and chia seed baguettes to bring home with you!! YUM!

What I’m currently reading

Book-I'm-Reading

What book have you been reading lately? I have three on the go… wait, do cookbooks count? Sure they do! Two of my current reads, I discovered at the library – a resources for cookbooks that I’ve never considered before. Am I the only one? Usually I’m at the bookshop debating whether or not to spend $50 on a cookbook – now I bring home tons of new inspiration! It’s been a lot of bread, and buttery scones recently. So this week I deliberately went for some healthier reads:

1. Preserved. This book covers preserving through different methods. I picked it up looking for early Christmas gift ideas (I know) like this raspberry vinegar. But it also turned out to be an unexpected source of food ideas for kids  - homemade “canned” baked beans!

preserve

2. The Sprouted Kitchen. How beautiful is this book! She’s a whole foods advocate – no specific diet, just well-balanced eating on the menu. This weekend I’m testing out the hollandaise sauce made from goats cheese (yum!) and lentil meatballs!

sprouted-kitchen

3. Cooked, I bought on my Kindle. What do you think about Kindles – Some people don’t like them, but I’m a big fan – especially in bed! I prop it against the pillow… perfect for lazy reading!

Micheal Pollan is my favorite food writer and, in this book, he sets out to master the act of cooking –  an endangered skill that makes us uniquely human. Pollan argues the case that: a life involving no home cooking, is a life diminished. Read this book and try not to bake a bread, slowly caramelise an onion or ferment a cabbage!

cooked

If you get the chance, check out these books – but mostly,  If you haven’t been in a while, I encourage you to check out your local library and see what new inspirations you bring home!

Learn to Make – Chef Clement’s Asian Pesto Recipe + 3 Ways to Use It!

Chef-Clement

Chef Clement runs a healthy lifestyle bakery & gourmet takeaway, Simply Eden. He’s passionately obsessed about whole foods – one conversation with him will take you from bread, to chocolate, to protecting our earth – all seamlessly intertwined.

Constantly experimenting, Chef plays all day in his kitchen, combining flavours like sun-dried tomato and chocolate, baking breads from ground flowers… (both of which I tried – amazing!)  He’s living his passion and what I love is that he shares it. He teaches workshops to make the very recipes that he sells in his bakery, inspiring people to play and become confident in the kitchen.

When I asked him to share a recipe with you, I told him it could be anything - and he thought about it for a few days. Then I get a call and he says to me, “Pesto! I want to show everyone how to not only make a recipe, but how to make the most out of it so that there’s no waste. With this one pesto, they’ll be able to make breakfast, lunches and dinners!”

Not just a recipe – but kitchen philosophy… let’s do it! It wasn’t until I saw his “pesto” ingredients, did I realize – Chef had been playing with this recipe too…

Pesto-Ingredients

This recipe uses the traditional pesto flavours of olive oil and parmesan cheese – but here’s where it takes an Eastern turn.

Sweet Basil – You know that forgotten half-packet of limp basil in your fridge… maybe you’re not sure what to do with it? It’s perfect for this dish. Chef Clement’s face lit up as he talked about making use of  aesthetically-challenged ingredients that often get chucked into the bin. As if rooting for an underdog, “It’s a little bruised, but so what, it’s full of flavour!”

Mint – This is a common flavour match to sweet basil – it lifts and brightens the dish.

Ginger Blossom (rojak flower) - A member of the ginger family, rojak’s demeanour is much more gentle. It imparts a light, almost floral taste with a citrus touch. I think this is what gives the pesto its unique  freshness – a flavour which transported me to a day at the beach, with a fruity drink and umbrella.

Candlenuts – This is a nut found in Asia with a very mild flavour, but gives the pesto its body. You can substitute this for any nut (pine, almond, walnut). Chef Clement likes to use what’s available, fresh and local. Candlenuts can be slightly hard to digest for sensitive stomachs. If that’s the case for you, Chef recommends not eating them raw – lightly toast the pesto in a pan, before eating.

As we examined and talked about each ingredient, Chef Clement tossed it into the blender. Quite beautifully, the pieces came together into one emerald green concentration of flavours and aromas.

Pesto-Blended

Chef Clement’s Asian Pesto Recipe

ingredients:

  • 50g sweet basil
  • 100g mint
  • 1 stalk ginger blossom (rojak flower)
  • 4 candlenuts (or handful of your nut of choice)
  • parmesan cheese to taste
  • drizzle  of olive oil

directions: 

  • blend all of the ingredients together

Once you make your pesto, store in a glass jar, drizzle oil over the top to keep it fresh. It will last for 3 weeks. Pesto is a solid investment: for 10 minutes of prep work, you’ll enjoy an abundance of effortless meals.

CHEF’S TIP: Do not add salt to the pesto, it draws out water and causes it to spoil quicker. Instead, season each serving as you eat it.

Here are 3 ways you can use your pesto – breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Toastie

Cheesy Pesto Toastie Recipe

ingredients

  • crusty bread (If you’re in Singapore, you must try Chef’s chia seed loaf!)
  • 1 tbsp pesto
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • toppings of choice (tomato, sliced onion, micro greens… or what ever makes you smile)

directions:

  1. blend equal parts of pesto to cream cheese
  2. spread your mixture over the bread, sprinkle over salt & pepper
  3. place it in the oven to toast the bread and warm the cheesy pesto
  4. add your toppings

CHEF’S TIP: Chef Clement recommends this dish, not just for breakfast but also as a party appetizer. Prepare the toastie and then slice the bread into bite sizes to serve.

Pesto-Pasta

Quick Pesto Pasta Recipe

ingredients:

  • 150g cooked pasta
  • 2 tsp pesto
  • 6 slices of mushrooms
  • 6 cherry tomatoes cut in halves
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh basil to taste

directions:

  1. heat up the olive oil, season the oil with salt & pepper
  2. add in the cooked pasta, cook for a minute
  3. add the pesto and cherry tomatoes, cook for another minute
  4. lastly, toss in the mushrooms and cook for one minute
  5. garnish with fresh basil and extra parmesan cheese

Foil-Packet

Foil Packet Pesto Baked Fish Recipe

ingredients:

  • white fish fillet
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • slices of tomato
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt & paper to taste
  • foil paper

directions:

  1. pre-heat oven to 200 c / 400 f
  2. cut a large piece of foil paper and small piece of parchment paper
  3. lay the fish fillet over the parchment, in the center of the foil paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. In a bowl, combine the pesto and cream cheese
  5. spread wholegrain mustard over the fish
  6. next, spread on the cream cheese pesto
  7. place sliced tomatoes on top and basil
  8. drizzle over olive oil to prevent the fish from sticking to the foil
  9. wrap the fish by folding in half and sealing the ends by making one inch folds until it’s at the fish
  10. bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes

Pesto-Fish

Singapore Shopping Guide

  • Order basil, mint and ginger blossom (grown here in Singapore) from Green Circle
  • candlenuts can be found in many wet markets

Citrus & Berry Thirst Quencher Recipe

beauty-water3

If you struggle to drink plain water all day, this is something you may like! This is flavoured water – a great alternative to anyone who goes for the bottled drinks – try this instead! I’ve been making flavoured water with different flavour variations – but I think this combo is especially yummy. Ever since I started making them – I’ve had no problem staying hydrated and I feel better. And that’s we want, right – to feel our best!

Not only will you get the benefits from water which include mental clarity, energy, healthy gut, overall health – but because of the citrus and berries – you’ll get the added vitamins too! Full of beautifying properties and antioxidants – you get a boost of vit C which plays a key role in healthy, youthful skin!

Now, it’s not a juice – it doesn’t even taste like one. It’s a really good flavoured water, light and refreshing with a touch of sweetness. Make a whole litre of it and keep it in the fridge or carry it out in your water bottle. You’ll see, drinking water will become an enjoyable treat!

Drink-water

 

Citrus & Berry
Thirst Quencher

ingredients:

  • less than 1 litre (about 4 cups ) of water – (the fruit will fill it up)
  • 1 sweet orange, peeled
  • 4 ripe strawberries (don’t take the greens tops off!)
  • a toddler’s handful of blue berries

directions:

  • in your blender, blend up all the ingredients (check my my top 3 favorite blenders)
  • recommended: strain the mixture so it’s not gritty from the seeds
  • bottle it up and drink

I don’t think it needs sugar or sweeteners – make sure to choose ripe fruits so that it’s naturally sweet.

If you like this, let me know and I’ll share some more of my fav. combos.  Also, let me know what flavoured waters you come up with!

How to Use Your Aloe Vera Gel

get-to-know-aloe

Every natural home has to have aloe on hand. Whether it’s bottled, or fresh – aloe does wonders for your skin, hair and health! We all know that it’s good for burns – but you really needn’t wait for an accident to use aloe!

Benefits: Aloe packs an impressive 75 nutrients and 200 active compounds including 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins – a true superfood. Not only does it nourish the body, but with its regenerative properties it helps to protect and heal it as well. I thinks it’s a good habit to apply aloe after a day out – even if you’re not out sunbathing, you’re still getting exposed to sun and pollution and this accumulation of damage is what ages us. Aloe helps the body to repair itself and boosts new cell production, making it your new favorite anti-aging care!

It works in the same way when you consume it – it helps to boost your immunity and  keeps your body strong from the inside out!

Choose it: Fresh aloe is always great. When you cut out the inner fillet, you’ll see a yellow liquid form – it smells obnoxious and when consumed, it’s a laxative – so I always wash it  under water first. If fresh aloe is not easy for you to come around, or if like me you go through a lot of it – I like this brand of bottled aloe vera gel, Lily of the Desert. It’s 100% pure aloe vera gel, with a natural food preservative – which I like because it also helps to preserve any skincare I make with it.

Store it: If you buy it from the bottle, store it in the fridge. It should last 6 months once opened. A fresh cut leaf keeps for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You can just slice from it as you need.

Use it: You can apply it directly on the skin. If you use it fresh, check this post where I show how to remove the inner fillet. Here are three recipes for you to try!

aloe-sea-salt-spray

Aloe Sea Salt Spray Recipe

This is skin freshener and toner that is  great especially for oily skin and breakouts. When you come out of the shower, mist it on over any areas that you are breaking out. It’s even used on hair to create those natural beach waves! Sea salt is a natural detoxifier and delivers important minerals for the health our skin,  but it can be drying. Aloe is a natural moisturiser, so it will help to balance it out.

ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup aloe gel
  • 1 pinch of sea salt

Directions: If using fresh aloe, cut out the inner fillet, wash it under water and blend it to liquidize. Mix the ingredients into a spray bottle.

aloe-clay-mask

Aloe Clay Mask Recipe

This is such a beautiful mask. Clay is like a vacuum cleaner – sucking up excess oils, dirt, grime – you will feel so thoroughly cleansed after this treatment. Mixing it with aloe helps to soothe the skin.

ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp aloe gel
  • 1 tbsp clay powder

Directions: mix the ingredients together. This amount is enough for the face, but you can make more and do your whole body! It should form a thick paste. Apply it onto the skin and let it sit for about 15 minutes until it dries. You’ll feel a tightness. Wash it off in the shower.

aloe-green-shake

Aloe Green Shake Recipe

This is a great way to pack in loads of nutrients! It’s tasteless, so you won’t even know it’s there, but your body enjoys a cocktail of nutrients, minerals and vitamins!

There are tons of recipes you can try – here’s my favorite, just add the aloe. If you haven’t tried a green shake yet, you’re going to love it! Here’s another good one:

ingredients: 

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup aloe gel or 1 slice of inner fillet from a plant
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 banana
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 pear
  • 1 nib of ginger (optional)

directions: blend all the ingredients until completely smooth, about 20-30 seconds.

Online Shopping Guide

  • Bottled Aloe Gel - I’m liking this brand, Lily of the Desert – you can pick it up at iHerb
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