Jun 29, 2010

Nori Seaweed Chocolate


My sister who only comes home during the weekends brought a special kind of pasalubong this time. Usually she brings home the famous Bulacan chicharon, or pork cracklings, crunchy pork rind still clinging to some meat and a thin layer of fried fat. Deliciously unhealthy, but still a favorite anyway. This time it is a sweet tangy chocolate with a seaweed center. Who knew chocolate can blend so perfectly with the nori sheets I use to make my sushi rolls? Well, for others this may time some adjusting, most especially when you're not the adventurous foodie.

My brothers, specifically the youngest, hates loathes nori, and removes them before eating sushi. Which of course explains why he complained after finishing a small bar of this chocolate, which was bought by my sister's boss all the way from Korea. Why complain only after finishing? The chocolate masks the distinct flavor of the seaweed when eaten together, creating a mild minty tangy taste. But once the chocolate has gone down your throat, there's a slightly strong aftertaste of seaweed that's left in your mouth to linger for a few seconds.


Jun 28, 2010

Stovetop Chicken Barbecue


It was one of those days when I'm out of ideas on what to cook for our packed lunch. Determined not to let Alex and myself eat any of those MSG-filled and sodium rich dishes that our school cafeteria has to offer, I dragged myself to the fridge to see what I can work with. Pork cutlets and bacon on the top shelf, chicken breasts, wings and legs in the middle, and hotdogs, cold cuts, and seafood at the bottom. The freezer is fully packed, but no ideas still. I closed the freezer door, ready to give up, when I saw a flier of Jollibee's chicken barbecue being held by a fridge magnet. I have never tried cooking one of those before, and the only barbecued chicken I knew how to cook were skinless, but I decided to give it a try anyway.


The thought of having to fire up the grill and stand in front of the smoldering heat just before lunch time was enough to drive me into thinking of another dish. But time is running out, and we have to get on the bus before it strikes noon. I took out instead the non-stick skillet and got to work. The result doesn't taste like Jollibee's, a lot more savory without the artificial seasoning aftertaste.

Chicken Barbecue Recipe

Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated

Ingredients

500g chicken legs or thigh
1/4 cup Butter
200 ml barbecue marinade (click for recipe)

Procedure
  1. Pierce the chicken with a fork or the tip of a small knife in several places up to the bone. Do not cut the skin.
  2. Mix the ingredients for the marinade and marinate chicken in some of the mixture for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove as much marinade as possible on the surface of the chicken using your hands.
  4. Heat the butter in a thick non-stick pan on low heat. Brown the chicken quickly on both sides in the butter until just golden brown. 
  5. After the chicken has browned, add the marinade to the chicken.
  6. Stir to coat the chicken in the marinade. 
  7. Cover and simmer while stirring and piercing occasionally with a fork for 15 minutes or until chicken is tender.
Jun 27, 2010

Thick and Savory Barbecue Sauce


We have been making barbecue marinades the simple way for as long as I can remember. My grandma, for instance, would not cook barbecue without blending in a lot of Sprite in the mixture,. My sister likes a lot of ketchup and tons of sugar in her version, and I like putting in hot sauce in mine. Whichever we prefer, it always results into something different, as we live a life of approximation when cooking. Nevertheless, they all come out tasty and delicious. And the barbecue has a distinct Filipino dipping sauce comprised mainly of white vinegar, sugar, some soy sauce, lots of chopped onions, and red hot chilies. Although I'm a fan of the strong dipping sauce my family loves to make, whenever I'm the one who cooks barbecue in our home, I use the marinade to make a great dipping sauce.

Recently I decided to make a staple recipe for barbecue sauce and marinade, one that I would use to make the taste exactly the same every time. I like my marinade sweet and savory, without the vinegar overpowering the taste of the other ingredients. I used this for my Stovetop Chicken Barbecue, and it was just perfect.

Barbecue Marinade: (makes approximately 4 cups)

1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cane vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
2 dashes hot pepper sauce


Jun 26, 2010

Hot and Spicy Pork Steak


Alex and I recently bought chili garlic sauce for the buffalo wings he has been asking me to make. In trying to find more ways to cook with it I thought of using pork this time, with crossed fingers and high hopes that it would turn out well. It did, actually, and Alex consumed probably almost three cups of rice with this dish. It was spicy and tasty at the same time, and the chili garlic sauce added a nice Asian touch to what I otherwise see as braised pork in soy sauce.



If you're buying local chili garlic sauce, the color would be a lot less red, but just as tasty anyways. I used Lee Kum Kee's Chili Garlic Sauce because the local versions don't work quite as well on my version of buffalo wings. For this recipe, I also used Kikkoman Soy Sauce. Regular soy sauce works just fine but I just love the alcoholic aftertaste of Kikkoman's, being naturally brewed and all. This dish, served with ensaladang manga, is definitely a winner.

Hot and Spicy Pork Steak Recipe

Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.
 

Ingredients

5 pcs 3-inch long and 1/2-inch thick tender pork cuts
6 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce (add more to taste)
1/4 tsp grated ginger (optional)
butter for pan-frying

Procedure
  1. Melt butter in a non-stick frying pan.
  2. Lightly pan-fry the pork cuts until the pinkish color is just gone.
  3. Pour the soy sauce and ginger into the pan.
  4. Cover and braise for 5 to 7 minutes, until well done.
  5. Serve hot with a vegetable side dish, like ensaladang manga.
Jun 22, 2010

Chili Garlic Buffalo Wings


Who doesn't like the thick and rich sauce of buffalo wings stickily clinging onto the crisp chicken skin? Alex and I are absolute fans of these babies, and we can go all out and order a lot of these from Formaggio and Don Henrico's. Lately we haven't eaten these since Formaggio closed down unexpectedly despite their fully packed restaurant, leaving many fans in Las Pinas City downright devastated and asking why. Don Henrico's is at least an hour's worth of travel from here, and the buffalo wings would have to wait. So why did I go and cook a light version of the buffalo wings? While recently strolling around the hypermarket and plunking some cooking and baking supplies at the small green basket trolley, I came upon bottles of chili garlic sauce, imported from Indonesia. I would have bought the local version but the color was nowhere near red and I wanted my spicy wings to have that nice red color like they are served at many restaurants. So local would have to wait.

Traditional buffalo wings recipes don't usually contain chili garlic sauce, but I love that stuff and I just thought it would bring a deeper and richer flavor rather than the usual deep-fried battered wings dredged in butter-and-hot-sauce mixture. The result was a rich spicy flavor with a very faint taste of sweet on its rich thick sauce. And the meat? Full of flavour as well.

Chili Garlic Buffalo Wings Recipe

Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.


Ingredients:

500 g chicken wings
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
2 tbs honey
1 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup Tabasco Hot Sauce ( I don't use any other hot sauce as this is the best!)
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup all−purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
10 chicken wing pieces
vegetable oil for frying

Procedure
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine chili garlic sauce, honey and vinegar well. Toss in chicken wings and marinate for at least 4 hours.
  2. Combine the butter, hot sauce, ground pepper, and garlic powder in a small saucepan over low heat.
  3. Heat until the butter is melted and the ingredients are mixed well.
  4. Combine the flour, paprika, cayenne powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  5. Place the wings in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the flour mixture over them, coating each piece evenly. 
  6. Put the wings in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to help make the breading stick to the wings.
  7. Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Deep fry the wings in batches for 10 to 15 minutes or until some parts of the wings turn brown.
  8. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. 
  9. Quickly put the wings in a large bowl. Add the hot sauce mixture and stir, coating all of the wings evenly.
  10. Serve hot.
Jun 21, 2010

Chili Garlic Sauce


This dipping sauce has been a favorite in the household due to many reasons. First, when sauteed lightly, it can be served as a great spicy dipping sauce for fish and meat. It can also perk up your stir fry dishes and add the Asian twist to them without even making your stir fry spicy. It is a great addition to your barbecue marinade, and it is perfect for making buffalo wings like I do.

A small bottle of 220 grams costs Php 95 in most supermarkets, and can be found at the imported section. You can also find cheaper local alternatives in your local supermarket, but they are the well-cooked type which garners a brown color rather than the red you see. The taste is quite similar, and you can try out many versions and find the one suitable for your taste. I personally recommend trying the chili garlic sauce with ginger from the local varieties.
Jun 20, 2010

Healthy Snacks to Go by Katie Kimball


We are excited to announce this new fantastic e-book by Katie Kimball from KitchenStewardship.com. Katie is offering copies of Healthy Snacks to Go to 8 lucky Foodie Blogroll members.

Over and over, Katie Kimball of KitchenStewardship.com heard people lament the difficulty of eating real food away from home.  Cheese and hard-boiled eggs don't stay well in a diaper bag or desk drawer, Quaker granola bars aren't real food, and Larabars cost an arm and a leg.  The solution is in her new eBook, "Healthy Snacks to Go" with over 30 recipes to get you on your way with real food, fast.  You'll find 14 homemade Larabar-style variations, soaked grain options for granola bars and crackers, and bonus lunch-packing tips in this 48-page user-friendly cookbook.

I'm an active member of the Foodie Blogroll, whose widget is shown at my right sidebar. This is a great community of foodies who blog about their food trips and adventures and share them with the rest of the community. I actually love surfing the blogs in this community as you can  really see homemade meals in their rustic glory, just the way food is supposed to be.

Out of curiosity, I commented on the article about this giveaway, and a nice surprise was sent to my mailbox soon after. I was lucky enough to be drawn as a winner of the Healthy Snacks to Go ebook. Maybe sometimes when  I have time to create some of her delicious snacks I will go and share them to you!
Jun 19, 2010

Homemade iLoveYou Pretzels


I was craving for Auntie Anne's famous pretzels, all smothered in rich cinnamon syrup, light and crisp on the outside with the insides soft and chewy. But I have been telling myself to go and try making the food I love to eat instead of lazily going to the mall just to buy some, so I decided to bake a small batch of pretzels for this afternoon's snack. Alex was thrilled to get his hands on some freshly baked pretzels. The ones in the photo above are specially made to bring him a small message.



Considering that it was my first time making these, I was contented with the way it turned out. The taste and the crisp outer layer covering the soft chewy inside was almost perfect, but the way the pretzels looked were a bit of a disappointment. I actually had a really hard time trying to twist it into a pretzel shape, and I had to admit to myself that I should have kneaded the dough a bit longer as my mind has been telling me to. Laziness does have its dire consequences. Setting the looks aside, the pretzels were amazingly delicious even on its own. And it was even better with cinnamon-sugar syrup smothered all over it.

By the way, the alkaline wash is a must-do. This is a traditional way of making pretzels. Omitting this step would only produce regular bread, without the distinct pretzel taste.

This recipe yields 10 large pretzels.

Homemade Pretzels Recipe

Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsps brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
Alkaline Wash
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
Procedure
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and salt with warm water. 
  2. Slowly stir in flour and mix until well incorporated.
  3. Knead and punch dough on a floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic, for about 8 to 10 minutes. 
  4. Grease a large bowl which can accommodate at least 4 times the size of the dough.
  5. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.
  6. Make the alkaline wash by combining 1 cup of warm water and baking soda in bowl.
  7. After dough has risen, cut into 12 equal pieces. 
  8. Roll each piece into a pencil-thin log. 
  9. Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. Dab bottom lightly with paper towels.
  10. Place on greased cookie sheets, and let rise for 5 minutes.
  11. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  12. Smother with cinnamon-sugar syrup.
Jun 17, 2010

Traditional Homemade Mango-Kani Sushi


I was talking to Alex regarding my proposed meal plan for our packed lunch this incoming semester, and as I expected, he was so thrilled about eating those Asian-inspired dishes to be served at our 3-layer bento lunch box, together with the nice sakura chopsticks I bought from Daiso. We then visited the Japanese grocery stores at Cartimar in Pasay City to buy some ingredients that would make everything work out as hoped. He has been asking for sushi so we bought a 40-sheet nori pack, and Japanese brown rice vinegar, which were a lot cheaper than the few supermarkets that carry them. Aside from that, we also bought other ingredients for all the other food that Alex has been asking me to make, so we shelled out around Php1500 for everything.


It was my first time to make my own sushi, and for the past few days I have been avoiding his requests until he decides to buy the nifty sushi roll maker, available here. When he finally gave in after my statement that I won't make sushi without it, I immediately got to work. There have been many sellers of sushi around that sells their products cheaply, using only plain rice without flavor, and regular soy sauce and wasabi to make it taste good. But with me believing that good food doesn't need any sauce or dip for it to taste great, I decided to make sushi rice the traditional way. And the result: no real need for soy sauce. The sushi is as tasty as it can be, on its own. And I used regular high-grade rice. It may seem that the rice is too sticky at the photos, but I'm using my camera phone at that time. I wish you could have seen the translucent grains of rice on the sushi.

Perfect Sushi Rice Recipe


Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar or shin mirin
  • 3 cups cooked rice (you can use regular short grain)
  • 2 tbsp refined sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt (coarse salt)
Procedure
  1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the rice vinegar. Heat in a saucepan until everything is dissolved. Do noit boil mixture.
  2. Let the mixture cool. Spread the cooked rice gently on a large bowl, then pour the cooled vinegar mixture on the rice. 
  3. Quickly mix and fold the rice until the rice is coated with the mixture well. Make sure that you are not squishing the rice so it won't look like paste.
Mango-Kani Sushi Rolls

Ingredients
  • Kani or imitation crab sticks, cut in half lengthwise
  • Ripe mango strips with edges cut
  • Sushi rice
  • Nori sheets
Procedure
  1. Place the nori shiny side down on a clean, flat and dry surface.
  2. Fill the sushi roll maker halfway with rice, the place strips of kani and mango from left to right.
  3. Cover the mango and kani with rice, then push the top mold to make a log roll.
  4. Push the rice out of the mold and into the nori sheet.
  5. Wrap the sushi roll with nori all the way through, and slice into 1" thick sushi slices.
  6. Serve with wasabi paste and Kikkoman light soy sauce.
Jun 16, 2010

Noodle-crusted Eggplant Side Dish


Along with the Korean barbecue and the mung bean sprouts side dish that was served the other night, an eggplant side dish was also cooked so that the eggplants would not be left unused in the fridge to rot. Our house helper seems to hate eggplants, and for months I have watched kilos of the vegetable going to either the trash, or the compost pit in our small garden. My sister is some sort of an environmentalist slash frugal-living lady who would hate to see anything go to waste, and as I was busy cleaning up the pantry of the things I see that belongs to the trash sooner or later, I saw some leftover uncooked misua noodles and Barrio Fiesta pancit canton noodles lying around. The quantities were so small that they won't fit any single serving, and they were crushed to small pieces and would be unfit to be served at the table. I was about to throw them when my sister thought of using them as "breading" or crust as I would like to call it.

The result was actually nice. I found myself munching on the crunchiness of the each bite. I dipped it on vinegar and it was just delectable, well, for a side dish. Here's how these boring eggplants evolved into something better.

Eggplant Side Dish Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • a dash of salt
  • a dash of pepper
  • leftover crushed noodles
  • cooking oil for frying
 Procedure
  1. First, clean the eggplant and slice it thinly. Pierce the eggplant slices a few times with a fork.
  2. Beat the egg, and add a dash of salt and pepper. Don't put too much salt as eggplants have a property of high salt absorption.
  3. Pre-heat oil in frying pan until hot.
  4. Dip the eggplant in egg, then roll in crushed noodles.
  5. Deep fry until slightly golden brown.
  6. Serve hot.
Jun 15, 2010

Stir Fried Togue Recipe (Mung Bean Sprouts)


When I tried to make togue, or internationally known as mung bean sprouts, a few days ago, I was planning on using it for our bento lunch box together with the planned Mongolian chicken. Hopefully everything will indeed go as planned, because it is quite hard for me to come up with impromptu recipes to cook for our baon. Anyway, the togue was used as a side dish earlier than expected because of three reasons. First, I figured that as it stays longer in the refrigerator, it still continues to sprout, and a few have sprouted some leaves. Second, some of them are drying up. The cool air in the refrigerator can indeed dry up some things, and this time it is the mung bean sprouts. Although they are covered, I have no idea why some of them still dried up. Third, my sister insists on having a good side dish for her Korean barbecue, and all I can see that would live up to her expectations were the mung bean sprouts.

This side dish was easily made by stir-frying the mung beans in some of the leftover oil and sauce of the Korean barbecue. We usually cook our togue side dish with minimal saltiness so as not to overpower the taste of our main dish. But if you really want to know how we cook our togue at home, then here's how.
Togue Side Dish Recipe
Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.
 
Ingredients:

500 g mung bean sprouts
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp grated ginger (optional)

Procedure
  1. Boil about 2 cups of water in a pan. Blanch the mung bean sprouts by putting them in boiling water for about 15 seconds, then strain and put under running water.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a saucepan. Add the mung bean sprouts and stir continuously.
  3. Mix the sugar and garlic powder with the soy sauce until dissolved, and pour over the sprouts.
  4. Stir continuously. Add grated ginger and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
Jun 14, 2010

Spicy Korean Barbecue Recipe (Bulgogi)

 

It was one of those Sundays when I get into a fight with my siblings. Our maid house helper has been a pain in every part of my body. She's been sneaking her friends into our house late at night for non-permitted sleep overs. She has also been playing hooky and focuses on her cell phone instead of doing what she's being paid to do. Because of her stupid addiction to her male chat-mates through Smart Uzzap, the rice burned right in front of her. Why she never uses the rice cooker was an entire mystery to me. She sneaks out of the house at midnight to get drunk on our street with other men, which has garnered the much unwanted attention of the chismosas in our street. They have been ratting on and on about how she looks like a ...prostitute. Yup, that's a better term.


Anyway, ever since the early morning at around 6 a.m. I have been doing all the work that I don't see fit mentioning in this blog. And by around 10 a.m. my dysmenorrhea is killing me already. To top it off, I feel like I'm going to have a fever, and my nose is all stuffed with the colds. With the feeling that I am going to faint, I finished off the morning chores for the Sunday, and believe it or not Sundays are the busiest mornings ever, with all the grocery shopping and going to the market and sorting everything out, washing, draining, organizing. Whatsoever. I complained, got into a fight with my dad, and I yelled at everyone. You know how they say that a woman with her period is cranky? Well, I just proved that to myself.

So to make it up to me, my sister decided to make Korean barbecue, with a side dish of togue and eggplants. Here's the recipe.

Korean Barbecue Recipe

Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 4 tbsp refined sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 kilo tender beef, cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce (adjust to taste)
  • sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, pineapple juice, sugar,  garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds, pepper, and chili sauce.
  2. Put the beef strips in the soy mixture and marinate while covered in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. Heat the grill or a non stick pan, brush with sesame oil, then add beef. Cook while turning to brown both sides evenly.
  4. Place1/2 cup of the remaining marinade in a saucepan, and add 1 tsp cornstarch then stir under low heat, until very thick. 
  5. Toss in the cooked beef, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
  6. Serve hot, with side dish of togue or egg-noodle eggplants (recipes will be posted soon!).
Jun 13, 2010

How To Make Mung Bean Sprouts (Togue)


I have been planning on making Mongolian beef or chicken for our packed lunch anytime next week, and with my Alex's tummy growing flabbier as a result of so many meat dishes, I decided that it's time to incorporate more vegetables in his fatty diet. With the Asian inspired menu plan I have in mind for the first part of this incoming semester, there is no better side dish that togue, or mung bean sprouts. So I asked my dad to buy some fresh sprouts when he visited the market, but he forgot it anyway.

It was then that I decided to grow my own mung bean sprouts. There were a lot of mung beans left uncooked in our pantry since my dad has been diagnosed with mild gout. Beans were among the prohibited list and so they were stuck there until I thought of using them just now. It's fairly easy, and you use the sprouts within two days after starting. The photos above are 2-day old sprouts. They're a bit small for my taste, but usable already. How did I do it? Here's how:


  1. First, I assembled an improvised sprouter. What you'll need is a plastic or metal strainer, a catch basin, a plate and some paper weight.
  2. I washed the beans and got rid of foreign particles like dirt and dried up pods. Then I took a deep bowl and soaked the beans in lukewarm water for 4 hours. The beans will be bigger and more plump after soaking.
  3. Rinse the beans and drain well.
  4. Then I poured the beans onto the strainer and let them spread out evenly. I placed a catch basin underneath to collect the excess water.
  5. I rinse the bean sprouts every six hours or so by filling a bigger basin with de-chlorinated water, then submerged the strainer back and forth into the water so as not to disturb their placement.
  6. Then I harvest, rinse, and cook them the way I want to, like as a side dish (recipe to be posted soon!) to the Korean Barbecue (recipe to be posted soon!).
Jun 12, 2010

My Top 10 List Of Great Places to Eat


We have eaten in a lot of restaurants and bistros, but I haven't made a post about some of them because of some reasons. First would be that the dining experience happened before this blog was born. Another reason would be that I wasn't able to take pictures which would prove that I have eaten the meals that I am posting about. After all, we all need to increase our credibility, right?

But this post is an exception, as it is only a list of where we have eaten. Please do consider that the places we dine in were based on a tight student's budget, so don't expect any of those fancy restaurants on the list. =)

  1. Formaggio in Real Street, Las Pinas 
  2. Cabalen in SM Megamall
  3. Congo Grille in SM Mall of Asia
  4. Superbowl of China in Mall of Asia. 
  5. Burgoo in Gateway Mall
  6. Mangan in Mall of Asia
  7. TGIF in Alabang Town Center
  8. Don Henrico's in Ermita, Manila
  9. Pixie's Sinugba in Mall of Asia
  10. Shakey's Pizza in SM Southmall
I would have given brief descriptions of how each dining experience went, and what we ordered and what the food taste like, but I would like to leave that to the readers. These are, after all, places where the price of the food you buy is well worth what you're going to get. They may be classics, or they may be fairly new, but I learned to love these food, and hopefully some of you will as well. The photos above are not related to the list altogether.
Jun 11, 2010

Lunch at Don Henrico's Ermita


It was a hot day, and as we took the cab going to our school for enlistment, it struck me that I forgot to bring our clearance forms, which is obviously needed to be able to enroll for the incoming semester. After a lot of apologies to my already hot-headed boyfriend, we asked the cab driver to take us to Midtown at Robinsons Ermita instead. Such is my luck that Alex's stomach was already rumbling with hunger, and we decided to eat at the Don Henrico's Restaurant just outside the entrance to Midtown.


What I like about this place is that there are not too many people in the place, and you can really get your needed service on time. For our appetizer, we ordered Dips and Nachos, deliciously described as "warm cornmeal nachos, served with creamy cheese sauce and taco sauce", and reasonably priced at Php 180. You might say that it's a bit expensive, but the serving is huge. Literally. And the dips were so delicious, we asked for more dips when we devoured the first batch. But hey, there were so much nachos in their big plate, you know. It may not seem a lot in the photo above, but trust me, in person it was a really huge serving.

 
We also ordered a pasta meal for two called Seafood Pesto Linguine in Cream Sauce, described as "a grand mixture of shrimp, squid rings, crabsticks simmered with pesto sauce, melted butter and minced garlic. Tossed with aldente linguine noodles garnished with yellow lemon wedges," but I can count with the five fingers of one hand the amount of seafood in that plate. It was served with a buttered piece of bread, and this is only Php 280. The taste actually made up for the small amount of seafood. The pesto was full of flavor.

For our main meal, we ordered their Caesar Platter for Php 170, which you can see at the photo at the top of this post. It has a very juicy and delicious buffalo chicken thigh, a small side of Caesar salad, and a small serving of red meat spaghetti. I loved their buffalo chicken, it is way better than Pizza Hut's Spicy Chicken. But the dip was just disappointing. I was hoping for the traditional blue cheese or ranch dressing, but garlic mayo was served instead. Overall, I loved having a full tummy at lunch time. Gives me a lot of energy to window shop at the mall.
Jun 10, 2010

An Aspiring Chef's Nightmare and Gomashio


It has been countless days since I last cooked anything. Okay, so I maybe a bit exaggerating, but a few days of no cooking activity, not to mention being stuck here at home during the last few days of summer vacation, seems like an eternity for a foodie-slash-aspiring chef like me. I have been drooling at the food photos over at Taste Spotting, and I feel so useless like this. But I feel a slight ray of hope as school will definitely start next Tuesday.

So as my hunny has been asking me to make sushi for the opening of classes, I looked up traditional recipes in some cookbooks here at home. But something else caught my attention. There is what they call furikake, or rice toppings. The author at Just Bento claimed that while there are countless recipes for furikake, the most favorite one was the one called gomashio. They claim that while you can get tired of other toppings, gomashio, which is made up of salted roasted sesame seeds, can be eaten every day without getting tired of it. Now, I am no fan of sesame seeds at all, but out of curiosity I took some sesame seeds out of the bag and started the easy process of making homemade gomashio.


The recipe was adapted from Just Bento, with slight change. Their original recipe calls for black sesame seeds, which I have no idea where to buy. Anyway, some say that they taste just the same, but the difference is that black sesame seeds make the toppings look more dramatic. You know how the Japanese are. =)


Homemade Furikake Recipe: Gomashio

Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.

Ingredients:
  • 10 tsp black / beige sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp refined sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water
Procedure:

  1. Dissolve the salt in the water until completely dissolved.
  2. Spread the sesame seeds out in the frying pan. 
  3. Over medium-low heat, stir around until the seeds start to pop. 
  4. Take off the heat and keep stirring until the popping stops.
  5. Return the pan to the heat, and add the salt water. Stir around to distribute evenly. The seeds will clump up. 
  6. Keep stirring over a medium-low heat and scrape off any salt that sticks to the pan. 
  7. Keep stirring and scraping, until the water evaporates. The seeds will coated with fine salt crystals so that they will no longer be clumpy.
  8. Take the pan off the heat and let the seeds cool. 
  9. Once they have cooled down completely and are totally dry, they can packed in an air-tight container. They will keep for about a month in the refrigerator.
Jun 8, 2010

Crumbly iHeart Cookies


These lovely cookies are so adorable, and with just the right sweetness, it can make the boy of your dreams melt with adoration. You see, based on my experiences (with boy friends and boyfriend), they are not so into the overly sweet stuff that I gobble up whenever I need some cheering up or something. They like the "just right" type, bittersweet, less sugar, you know. Trying to show off their manly manliness or just not fond of the extra sugar, whichever the reason is.


This recipe makes use of powdered or confectioner's sugar. Now a lot of people complain that it's expensive, but it's not, when you buy from a wholesale baking supplies shop like I do. It's actually cheap. I love eating powdered sugar since I was a kid on the streets. They have these small plastic baby bottles in the sari-sari stores here in the Philippines containing powdered sugar, which, at that time, I was told by the tinderas that they are special sweet milk powder. Ooohh they are so good that I still eat small teaspoonfuls of powdered sugar up to now.



The iHeart cookies are a favorite of my hunny. He just loves their "crumbly crumbliness" and their sweet trails on his voracious taste buds. This is definitely a keeper. You can sandwich two of these with Nutella as filling, they are so scrumptious! The photo above right is the cooked cookie! Cute, isn't it?

iHeart Cookie Recipe

Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • red food coloring
Procedure:
  1. Sift together the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Divide the butter into small parts, then add to the flour mixture one by one. Do not melt the butter. Mix on low speed, or mix with your hand until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and brandy, and mix with your hand until the dough is smooth. 
  4. Add food color drop by drop until desired color is achieved, depending on the brand. I used around 6 drops. Mix well.
  5. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Roll out dough to 1/3" thickness, and cut using heart cookie cutter.
  8. Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes, until they are done. 
  10. Turn off oven and let cookies cook in the remaining heat for 5 more minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely.
    Jun 7, 2010

    Chinatown's Traditional Hopia Recipe (Red Mung Bean Mooncake)


    Hopia is also known as bean paste-filled mini mooncakes, but somewhere along the past decade new versions of hopia has sprouted, such as the chocolate hopia and the hopia baboy (pork-filled). But the traditional way of making these Chines delicacies was to use red mung beans (sweet red monggo), pound them into a paste, then use it as filling. Served hot together with chai latte or milk tea, now that's truly delicious!

    I remember Dimsum&Dumplings restaurant during their great days when they were still well off and famous. My sister and I used to eat little cubes of freshly made mini hopia squares and wonton soup, and hot steamed buns so full of flavor and taste unlike the siopao many so-called commercialized Chinese food shops sell nowadays.

    As of now, I only see the Dimsum&Dumplings as lowly food stalls, selling those hopia but not quite tasting like they used to. Quality has disappeared when the company has gone downhill. Anyway, I have been to Binondo a couple of times and I can say that the food there are very exquisite and tasty. If you're headed to Chinatown, specifically Ongpin, then don't forget to try out their Fresh Lumpia at the New Eastern Garden Restaurant, and go and take home some of those delicious pure cocoa tableas from the famous La Resurreccion. You won't regret anything.

    If you're part chinese, or if you just want to make hopia the traditional way for Chinese New Year, then here's a great recipe that would certainly garner praise in any occassion.


    Red Mung Bean Hopia Recipe

    Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.

    Filling:
    • 500 grams red mung beans
    • water for boiling
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 3/4 cups refined sugar
    Soft Dough:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 5 tablespoons lard
    • 10 tablespoons water
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    Procedure:
    1. Soak mung beans in water for 1 hour then drain. Place in pan with 8 cups of water over high heat until boiling, then lower heat to simmer afterwards.
    2. Turn off stove when skins break and separate from the beans. Wash to remove skins completely then strain well to remove excess water.
    3. Mix the oil and sugar with the beans and place in a saucepan.
    4. Stir continuously while cooking until most of the liquid part has evaporated and the filling is paste-like. Set aside to cool.
    5. Divide filling into 20 equal parts.
    6. Mix all ingredients for the soft dough until very smooth.
    7. Divide the dough into 20 equal parts to make balls.
    8. Using a rolling pin, flatten each ball of dough into a 3-inch diameter circle.
    9. Put filling in the center of the dough, and fold the edges to the top and pinch to seal edges together.
    10. Place each mooncake into the chinese pastry mold.
    11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then bake mooncakes for 20 minutes.
    Jun 6, 2010

    Homemade Gravy Recipe

    Warm, smooth gravy has always been a great accompaniment to fried chicken, burger steaks, roast meat, lechon kawali and other meals and side dishes such as the Yorkshire pudding. It is served at fast foods and restaurants alike, and at some point or another you may have found yourself licking the gravy off a spoon. Ah, the joys of being a child, where you won't be judged badly based on what and how you eat.

    I made the gravy served in the red heart ramekin above to go with my traditional Yorkshire Puddings. The gravy was very creamy and tastes like the ones served at some fast food. But unlike those served at McDonald's or KFC, this gravy was not made from instant powder, but from ingredients here at my own pantry.

    I tried the leftover gravy with some southern style fried chicken and it was so good! You should try this, it is very easy to make:


    Pearl's Homemade Gravy Recipe

    Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.

    2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
    1/2 tbsp white granulated sugar
    1/2 tsp soy sauce
    1/2 tsp fish sauce
    1 tsp coarse salt
    1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    1 1/2 tbsp bacon, chopped into small bits
    3/4 cup water
    1/2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 tbsp water
    1. Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a pan. Saute the bacon then add the onions.
    2. Cook until onions are clear and caramelized.
    3. Add salt and sugar, then pour water.
    4. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce, as well as the black pepper. Let simmer until a third of the liquid has evaporated.
    5. Add the corn starch mixture, then simmer on low heat until thick.
    6. Serve warm.
    Jun 5, 2010

    Traditional Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

    I was so bored out of my wits this rainy morning that I decided to feature at least one traditional foreign food each month starting now. Which means going shopping for much more ingredients not available in my pantry, and slaving in the kitchen for some time making those food to satisfy my boyfriend's curious taste buds. Upon browsing through the aged cookbooks already in storage, I saw a black and white pixelated photo (yes, very old indeed) of a traditional Yorkshire Pudding. It immediately reminded me of a post by The Recipe Blog, and I thought it would be a great idea to go and try it out.


    Luckily for me, the instructions seemed very easy and the ingredients listed on the almost torn page are in my pantry. I took notes on a piece of paper (the book was very, very dusty) and went to work immediately while singing American Pie by Madonna. Well, it was raining and the first thing that came to my mind was that song. This recipe yielded me 9 large "puddings". The result was amazing, I was so pleased at how my Yorkshire puddings tasted and looked (see the photos I took).



    For the curious mind, the Yorkshire puddings are a traditional side dish served together with roast meat and gravy during the old times. The pudding is actually light crusty bread with a soft center. It originated in Yorkshire, hence the name, but gained a lot of popularity and reached the other side of the world through aged, yellowed cookbooks like mine. It can also be served on its own with sweet jams and sauces.



    Traditional Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

    Note: I use measuring spoons and measuring cups for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate and much less than indicated.

    1 cup fresh milk
    1 cup sifted flour
    2 eggs
    1 tsp salt
    Vegetable oil


    1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Prepare muffin pan.
    2. Beat eggs and milk together, then fold in sifted flour and salt.
    3. Pour 1 teaspoon of oil in each muffin hole.
    4. Put into oven until oil starts to smoke.
    5. Remove oiled pan from the oven and pour batter into holes up to a little more than half of each.
    6. Pop immediately back into the oven.
    7. Bake until very golden brown and slightly crisp outside.
    8. Remove from pan and take off excessive oil by patting lightly with tissue.
    9. Serve with homemade onion gravy