Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie

I was stuck at home.  And I was bored.  So I started daydreaming.  And remembered the delicious chicken and mushroom (hand) pie I used to eat.  Then I yearned.

So I cooked.

And it was delicious!

Next time, I want to make individual hand (or mini) pies.

I basically followed the recipe in this book (image courtesy of Google images):

Of course I made some changes.

Instead of leeks, I used a large onion.  Instead of fresh mushrooms, I used canned button and straw mushrooms (both sliced).  I also skipped the red peppers, peas and/or carrots (and increased the chicken to about 3 cups).  I also used one of my mom's pie crust recipes, instead of the pastry topper in the recipe, although to be perfectly honest, the recipe is very similar.  (I also forgot the make vents (slits) in the crust, but it still turned out ok.)

I really want to make hand pies or mini pies next time...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lechon Mami

Mami is a noodle soup.  The most common and popular is chicken.  Chicken Mami is considered as a comfort food.  It's one of mine, too, especially when I feel down (literally or figuratively).

And as I am still NOT feeling up to par, I am craving some major comfort!

I already had chicken sopas the other day, so while I want mami this time, I'd rather have a different flavor other than chicken...

Hence, lechon.

I had made lechon lomi before but I definitely did not want to do that much work!  I wanted a simple noodle soup with lechon as its flavoring meat.  So I followed the cooking procedure for chicken mami, except that I substituted lechon meat for the chicken meat!

And here's my comforting bowl of lechon lomi...

Here's how I made it -

1. Boil 250 grams of lechon - parts with little meat and a lot of bones - in about 6 cups of water, with an onion.  Simmer at least 45 minutes.  Strain the broth.

2. Meanwhile, chop up about 300 to 400 grams of lechon meat; set aside.  Slice an onion, mince 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, parboil some pechay leaves; set aside.

3. Rinse and boil 500 grams of thin egg noodles; drain and set aside.

4. Saute the onions and garlic.  Add the chopped lechon meat and the broth.  Season with salt.

5. Let boil.  Meanwhile arrange some noodles in a bowl and add some pechay leaves on the side.  Ladle soup and lechon meat over the noodles and pechay.

5. Garnish with spring onions and crushed chicharon, if desired.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chicken Sopas

Everyone in the household had been feeling under the weather, some worse than others.  I was the last to fall... today...  I woke up with a headache, aching bones, stuffy nose and sore throat!

When I'm feeling sick, I don't feel like eating anything except... soup.  My favorite?  Chicken Sopas! 

Chicken Sopas is basically chicken soup with macaroni pasta and milk.  There's actually a lot of versions of it but here is mine...

1 whole chicken breast, with bones
about 4 to 5 cups water
1 small onion
thin slices of ginger

about 2 cups uncooked pasta (usually macaroni but I like the twist pasta)

1 medium sweet onion (the white one), sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
half a yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
half a red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small carrot, sliced into thin strips
about 12 stalks small asparagus, discard the tough ends
celery leaves
3/4 to 1 cup fresh milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil chicken breast in the water with the onion and ginger.  When done, strain the broth and shred the chicken.

Cook the pasta until halfway done (do not cook until done).  Rinse, drain and set aside.  (Note here - the amount of pasta depends on your preference.  More soupy - use less pasta.)

Saute onion and garlic.  Add tomatoes, bell peppers and shredded chicken.  Add the carrots and asparagus.  When halfway done, add in the broth and celery leaves.  Let boil, then add the half-cooked pasta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like to add Italian seasoning).  When the mixture boils (and pasta is cooked), add the milk and stir constantly until soup re-boils.

Serve hot.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lime Curd

Ina Garten is one of my most favorite cookbook authors (and indeed, chefs).  So when I was looking for a recipe for lime curd, I looked in her cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  I found a recipe for Lime Curd Tart.  And I decided to follow the recipe for the lime curd, but to make only half the recipe because I wanted the lime curd as a filling for a Lime Margarita Chiffon Cake and needed just a cup or so.

Of course the crucial ingredient is the lime, locally known as dayap.  Dayap, according to internet sources, is Citrus Aurantifolia.  Compared to the Persian lime, the dayap (or key lime) is smaller and more tart (more flavorful), and has a thinner rind.  The dayap turns yellow when ripe.  Dayap is a popular ingredient in local cuisine, generally used as a souring agent, much like the calamansi.  Or as a flavor enhancer in sweet concoctions like the leche flan, or pastillas or yema.

It was not easy to find dayap.  While it may have been plentiful when I was a child (and yes, we took it for granted), it is a bit difficult to find them these days.  In fact, I'd been searching at our local wet market (which is one of the BIGGER markets) and came up with nothing, until someone told me to look in the VEGETABLE section (I had been looking in the fruit section...)  And lo and behold!  there were a few limes... and they were quite pricey!

Anyway, I bought some and went about making the lime curd, staying quite faithful to the recipe except for using the zest.

My lime curd...


How I made my lime curd -

Beat 1/4 cup softened salted butter and 3/4 cup sugar together.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time.  Add 1/4 cup lime juice (mixture may look curdled).  Mix well.

Pour the mixture into a thick bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.  (Remember to cook until at least 160F, which is the temp when eggs are safe.)

Here is the book where I found the recipe (picture courtesy of Google images)

The original recipe (for the Lime Curd Tart) can be found online here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chocolate Mousse Cake, Travel-Friendly Version

A friend of a friend who got a taste of my Chocolate Mousse Cake asked me if I was willing to teach him how to make the cake (and share the recipe as well).  The problem?  He didn't have an oven or baking pans... hmmm...

Well, I figured out a way... sort of...

Given that he had no oven or baking pans, there really isn't a way for him to bake the cake layer.  Solution?  Buy one - a plain sheet cake, pound cake or even a brownie, and put it (cut to size) in a plastic container (about 2 liter capacity, with lid to make it travel friendly).  Pour in the mousse and chill until set.  Then spread whipped cream on top and sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top.  Chill again until set.

Here's the recipe for the marshmallow mousse...  (because I have a thing against raw eggs, I used marshmallows)

Melt together 200 grams of bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%), 1 cup mini marshmallows, and 1/2 cup milk.  Cool to room temperature before using, stir occasionally.

Meanwhile whip 1 cup heavy cream; chill in freezer 5 to 10 minutes.  Fold whipped cream in melted chocolate-marshmallow mix.  Pour into the container (on top of the chocolate cake or brownie layer).  Chill until set.

Whip 1 cup heavy cream.  Pour over set mousse, sprinkle top with mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings.  Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Iced Chrysanthemum Tisane

We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant recently and the little girl discovered chrysanthemum tea.  She asked what it was and we explained that it is a "tea" that is made with chrysanthemum flowers, (although I suspect that the brew offered by the restaurant is actually a "powdered" ice tea mix).  The little girl was so enamored by it that she asked me to make "flower tea" at home, sweetening the deal by offering to help me. 

Good thing I still had some dried chrysanthemum flowers!

The tea itself was not difficult to make, nor did it take too long.  But that's if you like hot tea (which I do) but the little girl wanted iced tea, so she had to wait!

Anyway, my mom always said that chrysanthemum tea had "cooling" effects, which meant that it "cools" the body, so it was a very good drink for summer time.  Or when a person is "hot" with fever, flu, sore throat, or ... STRESS!  Supposedly, this tea also helps with liver rejuvenation, as well as enhancing general health and reducing signs of age.  

And here's our tea "brewing"...

To make it -

1/2 cup dried chrysanthemum flowers (about 15 grams, thereabouts)
1 tablespoon dried goji berries
6 cups of water
2 to 3 tablespoons rock sugar (or to taste) (about 30 to 50 grams)

Boil the water with the rock sugar until the rock sugar melts.

Meanwhile, rinse the chrysanthemum flowers with hot water (pour in hot water, count 1, 2, 3 then strain immediately).  Rinse the dried goji berries (the same way), too.

Let the water boil about 5 minutes then turn off the fire.  Count 1 to 25 (slowly) then put the flowers and goji berries in.

Steep for 10 minutes.  (longer steeping time means stronger flavor.)  Strain and decant to a bottle and let cool completely.  Chill overnight.  (Adding ice is not recommended because it dilutes the mix too much.)

For hot tea, omit the rock sugar and steep 5 minutes after rinsing the flowers.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Paksiw na Pata, Filipino style

Paksiw is a favorite "seasoning mix" of mine but pata (pork leg or hock in English) as a meat part is definitely not one that I prefer.  For one thing, it has too much skin/fat, hence less meat, and it takes a LONG, LONG time to cook until tenderized.  But for some unknown reason, I got some while I was at the supermarket with lola a couple of weeks ago.

I usually make the Chinese style Paksiw, using chunks of pork belly or pork shoulder but this time, however, I wanted to try a different recipe... and the pressure cooker (which is so rarely used!)... since I only had about an hour to cook - to simmer the dish on the stovetop would take a couple of hours!

I decided to follow a recipe found in a cookbook given to me - Our Family Table (Heirloom Recipes & Others, compiled and edited by Carolina Guevarra) - although I haven't seen this for sale in bookstores.

Anyway, here is my dish...

While my basis for this dish was the original recipe found in the book, I found that in order to adapt the recipe to the pressure cooker, I had to make a few changes, the most crucial of which was to change the proportion of the liquids, since I had to have enough liquid to cover most of the meat (I also like a saucier dish!).  Anyway, here is what I did -

First thing is to have a whole piece of pork pata (front part preferred) sliced into pieces (and I discarded the "hoof" part).  Second thing is to clean and parboil the pata.

Then I placed the pata, together with the following in the pressure cooker.

1 cup native vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 pieces bay leaves
about 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons smashed peppercorns (not ground pepper)
1 whole bulb of garlic, smashed
a lot of banana blossoms, knotted
about 1 to 2 cups water

A note for the water, I initially added a cup but it seemed too little to cover the meat pieces so I added half a cup more.

Another note regarding the marjoram - the recipe specified oregano and I thought I had some in my spice cupboard but I couldn't find it so I used marjoram instead.

Anyway, place the cover on the pressure cooker and pressure cook 15 to 20 minutes (after the cooker begins to whistle).  Let the pressure go down and open the pot.  Check if the pork pata is cooked/soft then check seasonings.

I had to adjust mine by adding a couple tablespoons more soy sauce (because I use a less salty, light soy sauce).

Final note - I found other recipes in other cookbooks where the sugar is a whole lot more than 2 tablespoons.  But while I wanted a hint of sweetness, I did not want an overly sweet dish!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Egg Whites Scramble and Dried Scallops

After making some custard, I had a lot of egg whites left over (4 to be exact).  So I decided to make this dish -

Here's how to make the dish:

1. soak about 1 tablespoon dried scallops (not whole) about 4 hours

2. after soaking, place the scallops in a glass bowl with a thin slice of ginger and steam for about 30 minutes

3. after steaming, discard the ginger slice and let the scallops cool completely then shred them

4. whisk 4 egg whites with 1/4 cup low fat milk and 2 tablespoons chicken stock or soaking liquid

5. season the whisked egg whites with a large pinch of salt and several shakes of the pepper mill (or to taste)

6. fold in the steamed, shredded scallops (reserve some as topping)

7. heat a frying pan (with at least 2 tablespoons of canola oil).  stir fry the egg whites with scallops until just cooked (stir constantly)

8. do not overcook. when the whites are just about cooked, transfer immediately to a serving plate and top with reserved shredded scallops.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sauteed Mushrooms

I love fresh mushrooms.  The usual ones we find are shitake, enoki, oyster, Korean shimeji, Korean king oyster, button mushrooms... but while on a road trip up north, I found these...

fresh straw mushrooms:

And these fresh mushrooms whose name I don't know:

I cooked the mushrooms in a simple way that highlights their natural taste and exceptional texture... sauteed in butter with onions.

I found the recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks - a real classic - and my first cookbook at the age of 10 (it was published in 1980).  My original copy was drowned by Ondoy but my brother found a replacement (the 1989 ed) for me!

image lifted from Google Images

The recipe can be found here. And I was quite faithful to the recipe.

I just love fresh mushrooms.  They have such a meaty flavor to them and the texture is different, with a bit of a "crunch"!  I just wish I could find these fresh mushrooms locally!