Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Leftovers and Dumplings

There's nothing I love more than the sight of brightly colored foods, and I'm always treated to that whenever my parents come over to visit.

Here we have stir-fried julienned carrots with chicken, julienned potatoes, purple cabbage and stir-fried palm vegetable (forgot the name).

This kind of food goes down nicely with rice.

And there's no reason to not indulge because it's mostly all healthy. That's probably why we never got fat when we grew up.

The next day we made some dumplings. Now just to let you know our family is a bit of a dumpling snob, because we used to make it every Sunday (when most families hit the diner to McD's for their Sunday brunch).

We like our dumplings handmade, from the dough to the innards, using nothing but the finest ingredients. This one is made with seafood, eggs and dill.

I still haven't learned how to make the dough from scratch, probably because I don't know how to use the rolling pin ><

But hopefully one day I'll be able to turn raw ingredients into this plate full of delishness:

Just a note about boiling the dumplings, you have to actually "boil" it three times for the perfect consistency and chew. First fill up your pot with water just barely covering the dumplings. When the water comes to a boil, drop in the dumpling, one at a time, giving the water a swirl counterclockwise as you do it. Then when the water comes to the second boil, add more water and more dumplings. Continue to do so for another boiling.

The next day we had some simple leftovers. The one on the top right is called 8-treasure rice, a mixture of glutinous rice with cranberries and dates.

Then one of the weekends Hubby made this crockpot chicken with a pre-mixed Moroccan chicken mix. It was surprisingly pretty but, albeit a little greasy.

Just a side note: make sure you have enough people to finish the chicken, because we made one pot and couldn't finish it until a week later.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Homecooked Goodness

So after getting home from the culinary heaven that was our vacation, we landed ourselves back in the thick and thin of things, starting with leftovers in the fridge.

Thankfully, there wasn't very much leftovers in the fridge, so we made some congee from whatever rice that was leftover (note the cute monkey spoon I got in California).

And some honey mint tea with the homegrown mint:

Look at that floating loveliness...

And I have to say that even though the cocktails at the resort were nothing sort of amazing, it still pales in comparison to the simple taste of mint.

I also cooked up some breakfast with the chives in the backyard (hubby didn't like it but I insisted on some "vegetables" in the eggs). The pancakes are from a mix, and Hubby complained it was too thick (roll eyes).

I on the other hand settled from some cereal (I really missed the crunchy goodness of colorful flakes and cinnamon-ma-bobbers!)

Then for lunch I settled for some congee, homecooked burdock and a colorful plate of sweet bell peppers and bulgogi (store-bought marinated beef). The thing on the top right-hand side is spicy squid, which I also whipped up myself.

For dinner, I settled on some braised tofu and mushrooms. To get it right this time, I actually googled a recipe as well as yes, how to cut the tofu so it's perfect for this dish.

So apparently, you're supposed to half it then cut it again into four long blocks, then for each block make 4 cuts to create 10 pieces each. In the meantime, soak some mushrooms in water to expand the meat of the mushroom.


Once that's done, throw everything into a pan, along with some green onions. Cook on medium-high for about 3 minutes.

Then create a semi-glutinous mixture of soy sauce, corn starch, rice vinegar, salt and sugar (and a dash of spice if you'd like) and leave it there to cook on medium-high.

You want to cook until most of the juice has been absorbed by the tofu. This makes the tofu both firm and juicy, exactly how Hubby likes his tofu. I dropped some goji berries in to add some color and nutrients to this meat-like dish.

In fact, he liked it so much he ate the whole thing, leaving none for me to even try. And that's okay, as long as he does the dishes.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Welcome Sweet Potatoes

On our last day at the resort, Hubby and I woke up early to grab brekky, then waited around in the lobby for our cab. I was actually amazed at their punctual service up until our last day, because everything seemed quite orderly. Somehow on the last day, the cab that was supposed to show up at 10:30 came at 11am. I guess their cabs still run on vacation-time.

So I took the time and liberty to snap a few last photos of our picturesque resort, including the flowers and leaves that amazingly seem to even line up beautifully.

If I ever built a house/hut, I would want to to look exactly like this:

We got to the airport still about 2 hours early, so we wandered around the duty free shops amongst all the American tourists. The prices there are still pretty steep - the only thing I could afford was a bottle of vanilla, but even that was $5. 

So I was pretty glad that I had this banana (and various other assortment of fruits) with me on the plane. We'd swiped it off the tree from the spa, and I left it inside the ice bucket for the duration of the week so it would ripen. I ate it on the plane, and it was probably the best small banana I've ever had. It was tart yet starchy, just the right combination of banana-ness for me.

After we got home, we made some ramen, just about the only thing we had left in the cupboard. I almost forgot how to make it lol. Compared to the food at the resort, this was definitely something from different realm.

The next week it was back to domestic living. Hubby got off work early one day, and I made him some eggs n tomatoes, along with a cucumber, orange pepper and Korean seafood sausage stirfry. It was pretty yummy for the most part, except he complained that the sausage wasn't cooked still. So I had to go back to fry it again.

Three Color Stirfry
I also reheated some pita bread, which went well the eggs n tomatoes to soak up the juices.

I also popped some sweet potatoes in the oven to make sweet potato fries. It was pretty difficult to cut these babies, so I didn't manage to get it out on time. But it provided for a sweet ending to the meal.

Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Last Meal in Paradise

If had to eat your last meal tomorrow, what would it look like? If it looks something like this, would you still be afraid of the afterlife? 

To answer that question, I'd look forward to the first day of mine (afterlife). We started the day at Aquamarina for sit-down breakfast. I decided that since today was my last meal here, I would go all out and eat whatever without any reservations for the calories.

I started with a cup of cappuccino and a cherry cream danish, the combination of which was pure bliss - the bitterness of the coffee complemented the sweetness of the danish wonderfully.

Tulum Juice: Pineapple, Pear and Guava 

Then I got a Tulum juice to imprint the flavors of the tropics into my tastebuds. The drink was freshly squeezed and savory as usual.

Motul Style Eggs

Hubby got the Motul style eggs, sunny side up over fried tortilla, with a side of plantains, sweet peas, ham and fried beans. He also got a side of hash browns on the side. It's hard to believe that normally that's the amount of food and calories I would eat in a day!

Here's a sideview of the Motul style eggs. It wasn't quite cooked the same as the one I'd ordered earlier, because the egg here was a tad on the runny side.  It's also hard to eat this thing because when you bite down everything spills over, throwing out bits and pieces of tortilla chips and beans.

Eggs Benedictine
I went a bit boring on the side and got the eggs Benedictine with hollandaise over english muffin, with a side of cambray potatoes.

Here's another look at my beautiful eggs Benedictine. I really liked how the muffin absorbed the richness of the egg and sauce.

As we left to go, I took one last sweeping view of the beach. I also took a little dip into the ocean to remember the freshness of the waters.

I'd never imagined my experience in Mexico would be like this - I'd always envisioned Mexico as a land of tacos and burritos. But now, Mexico will forever have a place in my heart as my little piece of R&R.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Third Time's the Charm

It's funny how we have so many sayings about numbers in life, like "two's a party, three's a crowd", "sweet sixteen", "sixth sense", and the likes.

But these aren't just a play on words - sometimes, they actually carry predictive meaning.

On our last night at the resort, we decided to have our last dinner at Amber. The first two times, if you recall, ended not-so-spectacularly. So we thought that third time has got to be the charm, and decided to venture again into the unknown space of fine dining.

We decided to sit on the outside terrace this time overlooking the cenote, because I'd noticed that couples outside tend to be louder than the elderly couples inside. Or perhaps it's because of these round balls of decorations that make it more festive.

We noticed a lot of new face that evening. I noticed that the tourist turnover rate at the hotel is about a week. By Friday of every week there tends to be more and more new faces, like our fresh, untanned faces a Friday ago when we'd first arrived there. Sitting beside us was a couple from Montreal who probably have a few drinks too many before coming in. 

Amber's menu pretty much remains consistent throughout the week, with daily specials now and then. They usually put the daily specials at the beginning of the menus so you can see right away what is new and different.

Our waiter was ironically the same waiter who'd served us earlier that day at Ceviche when we grabbed some late-afternoon snacks. He told us that they change shifts in the afternoon, working at multiple locations around the resort. 

By now we'd recognized all the service people's faces, and it was kind of sad to think that we'd leave their warm tutelage soon. 


After perusing the drinks menu, we settled and this and this:


Yea I know what you're thinking, "Boring!" Trust me, we'd get booze if we could, because the entire drink menu is dedicated to the fine art of well, getting drunk. But we decided to be good-two-shoes and drink "healthier" options instead. I got the guavapple drink and Hubby his usual lemon water. Speaking of lemon water, I like how the waiters come around with a plate of lemons, limes and cucumber to ask you which one you'd like in your drink.

The meal started with some seared tuna croquette, which was dainty yet refreshing. I was worried that the tuna was raw, but when we bit into it (yea I know, I probably should have asked first), it was surprisingly warm. 

Since this was the last dinner here, Hubby told me to go without reservations and order whatever I wanted. I got this red bell pepper cream soup as my appetizer.

Red Bell Pepper Cream Soup
It was pretty creamy, so much so that I couldn't finish it. I had to dip my entire bread in it to dampen the flavor. Hubby chided me for being picky with my food, so I had to shove more of it into my mouth.

Surprisingly, the more spoonfuls I ate, the less heavy it became. I managed to finish all of it, albeit with some help of course.

Hubby on the other hand got the endives salad with grapefruits, which was surprisingly light but flavorful.

For my main, I got the shrimp breaded with coconuts with a side or rice served in a cute dim sum basket with a plantain chip. Not sure why I didn't get this earlier, because not only did it look positively charming, it was delicious as well. Here's a closer look at that dim sum basket of rice-y goodness:

I really couldn't get how they managed to make the shrimp so crispy yet tender. It was the perfect combination in terms of texture and taste. I actually managed to polish off the whole thing.

Hubby got the beef flank sad with chimichurri, beet puree, and grilled eggplant. I'm not sure why he didn't get it earlier either, because this was so flavorful and tender, even though he'd ordered it well-done.

I also liked the pieces of eggplant and carrot on the side, because this time it was actually grilled to an edible state, unlike last time when it was still semi-raw.

We thought we'd go all out with dessert as well. I got the chocolate torino with carmel sauce and vanilla ice cream, while hubby got passion fruit gelee.

While the passionfruit looked positively radiant in its presentation, it was devoid of much flavor, putting it on the bland side. Again, the only "good" part was the fig.

The chocolate torino on the other hand was overwhelmingly sweet, but it worked with a cup of dark Americano. The ice cream? Nothing but divine.

So after that long and filling meal, we lingered around, listening to the laughter and watching the (obese) chef cook up a storm with the guests who were pouring in (it was around 9pm already, but hey they operate on vacation-time there).

You know it funny how we remember things - our memories have a place not only in our minds, but also in our heart. I know I'll remember this meal for a long time to come.