Thursday, May 29, 2014

Death by Chocolate

Death by Chocolate... The Last Word on a Consuming Passion by Marcel Desaulniers

I was 16 when I saw Marcel Desaulniers on cable TV.  He was making something with chocolate and I was so utterly fascinated that I went on the subway (by myself) and bought his book, with money that I had been saving for something else.

Then a few years back, I lost my entire library to a severe flood and I realized that this was one of the books I had to get another copy of, otherwise, I would forever regret it.  Thank goodness I found one!

Today, I (finally) made a batch of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies that's in the first few pages of the book.  I'd always planned to make a batch of these cookies but it always got pushed back.  Now I wish I had made them sooner!

These cookies are THE most delicious cookies I have ever tasted!!!

I swear! 

I ate 2 giant cookies... with cold milk!  within 10 minutes of them emerging from the oven!

(and I don't even like chocolate, or milk!!!!)

And the little girl?  She looked at me with so much admiration and said:  Mommy, you make everything so delicious!

Now I know why the book is called Death by Chocolate!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Childhood Chicken Curry

When I was a child, there were no curry pastes or garam masala mixes and such (that was available locally, that is).  But we had chicken curry!  Often, too!  What did we use?  McCormick curry powder.  I remember that we had a really big bottle of it and it didn't really last long because chicken curry was a stand-by favorite of ours, and it looked something like this--

This is the chicken curry of my childhood.  It was made with a whole chicken cut up into serving pieces (although these days I just buy skinless, boneless chicken thighs) with potatoes, carrots and peas, and sometimes bell peppers.  It was a snap to cook, too.  No coconut milk or coconut cream... instead we used evaporated milk... and sometimes (gasp) just plain water!

About 1 kilogram of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 thin slices of ginger
2 whole onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 to 3 tablespoons of curry powder
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup water or chicken stock
1 medium sized carrot, cubed
2 large potatoes, cubed
salt and pepper, to taste

Clean the thighs and cut into 2 or 3 pieces per thigh.  Or use a whole chicken cut up into serving pieces.

Saute the ginger, onions and garlic until fragrant; then add the curry powder (personally I use 2 heaping tablespoonfuls but it really depends on your personal taste).  Stir fry a few seconds then add the chicken thighs.  Stir things around until the thighs are coated with the curry powder then add the milk and water/stock; mix well.  Add the potatoes and carrots; adjust seasonings according to personal taste.  Simmer until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through, and the sauce is thickened.

Serve over rice!!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Smoked Salmon Salad in Cucumber Cups

This is such an easy dish to make... and looks and tastes so extraordinary!

It's basically chopped up smoked salmon with mayonnaise, chopped onions and some dill (salt and pepper, to taste, of course), spooned into hollowed out cucumbers, then topped with tobiko!

I got a lot of praises for this one!  Hardly seems fair since it was done in no time flat!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Ginisang Talbos ng Sayote sa Hipon at Itlog Maalat

As you can probably tell, this talbos ng sayote (chayote tops/leaves) have become a favorite.  Here's another way to cook them - sauteed with shrimps and salted duck eggs...

As always, we begin by picking the leaves, shoots and soft stems, discarding the tough stems.  Rinse the leaves, shoots and stems to remove any dirt; drain. 

Saute ginger, onions and garlic.  Add some about 100 grams of shrimp.  When the shrimp starts becoming pinkish, add the sayote tops and throw in couple of pinches of sea salt (easy with the salt since the salted eggs are pretty salty as their name implies).  When the sayote tops are nearly cooked, add 2 pieces chopped salted duck eggs.  Stir fry and mix until the talbos ng sayote are cooked.  Check seasonings.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ginataang Talbos ng Sayote

The vegetable sayote is one of my favorite vegetables, but its talbos (vegetable top leaves) was not known to me before.  In fact, I only knew of it when Tita S served us a salad using talbos ng sayote (sayote tops/top leaves).  We liked it so much that we've made our version of talbos ng sayote salad many times.

The other day we found really fresh talbos ng sayote and thought of buying a kilo.  But the tindera (sales lady) offered us 3 kilos (her whole stock) at a "buy 2, get 1 free" scheme.  At first I objected, saying we couldn't possibly consume 3 kilos as a salad, to which she replied "Ha?  Salad lang ang luto ninyo?  Maraming luto na masarap itong talbos ng sayote!"  (What?  You only "cook" it as salad?  There are many delicious ways to cook sayote tops!)  Of course I asked how else they were cooked?

The tindera said that the best and most delicious was ginataan (cooked in coconut milk/cream) and she proceeded to tell me how...

First pick the leaves, shoots and soft stems, discard the tough stems.  Rinse to remove any dirt.  Saute ginger, onions and garlic.  Add some ground meat and shrimp (or rehydrated hebi/dried shrimp).  Add thin coconut milk then add the sayote tops then a couple of pinches of sea salt over the sayote tops (this is the secret method, she said).  The coconut milk should be enough so that when the sayote tops shrink (as they cook) they will be submerged in coconut milk (so add more coconut milk if needed).  Season to taste (I added dried chili).  When the sayote tops are nearly cooked, add thick coconut cream (check seasonings) and let it simmer until thick.

She also said the sayote tops can be sauteed simply with garlic, or for a special touch, with inihaw na liempo (roasted pork belly) or it can be added to pakbet (a northern mixed vegetable dish cooked in bagoong na isda or fermented fish paste/sauce).

In short, I bought the whole lot.

We plan to cook another kilo as ginisa with liempo (sauteed with roast port belly).  For the third and last kilo, we plan to use half in a salad and the other half to add to a pakbet dish (as she suggested!)


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Century Eggs over Tofu

This is a dish that hubby likes very very much.  The best part is that it's foolproof... the secret is simply the quality of ingredients... all 3 of them!

This dish begins with a good quality silken tofu, which is steamed then cooled.  Then 2 to 3 pieces of good quality century eggs are sliced and placed on top of the tofu.  Lastly, a good quality thick soya sauce is poured over the whole dish.  Viola!
Century eggs are basically preserved eggs.  Supposedly, centuries ago in China, someone discovered some eggs buried in a lime pool and decided to eat them.  He liked it so much that he set about making more... and the century egg was born.  Suffice to say, they have existed in China and Chinese cuisine for several centuries already.

When I was a child, my mother told me that it was an egg that was buried in soil, straw and horse manure for at least A HUNDRED YEARS, hence the name "century" egg.  I now know that it DOES NOT take a hundred years to make, but my mother still insists - this time however, that it took at least a hundred DAYS that the eggs were buried and preserved...

Anyway, the eggs are slimy and quite gross especially for one who did not grow up with it on the dining table; after all it looks greyish, greenish and/or blackish AND it has a different taste and aroma (that I've heard to be described as stinky).  But it really is quite a delicacy with its creamy center (not unlike a soft boiled egg) [although I've eaten a lot with a firm center] and jelly-like "egg white".  When I was asked how it tasted like, my answer was that it tasted like a regular egg but concentrated.  It was actually the texture that I had to get used to but then again I don't like soft boiled eggs either!

But going back to this dish, the 3 ingredients are the basic components.  It can be dressed up a lot of ways... pork floss (or vegetarian floss), spring onions, cooked ground meat, leeks, whatever floats your boat basically!  In one variant, the tofu was topped with 3 kinds of eggs - hard boiled eggs, salted eggs and century eggs!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pork Estofado

In all honesty, this is probably the first time I've eaten estofado.  The reason?  Bananas.  As far as I am concerned, bananas are ingredients for dessert, or sweets.

But B's A-te J was raving about an estofado dish she had recently eaten and she wanted to share it with us...

So yes, this dish is entirely A-te J's!

Here's her recipe... in as much as I could follow it (since she didn't exactly use measuring cups and spoons!)

4 pieces ripe saba bananas, cubed
1 whole bulb of garlic, smashed
1 big onion, sliced
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 kilo pork shoulder (kasim), cubed
2 cups stock or water
1/2 cup tuba vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
2 pieces bay leaves

Fry the saba banana cubes; remove from the pan and set aside.

Saute the garlic, onions and peppercorns.  Add the pork cubes and stir fry until lightly browned.  Pour in the stock/water, then vinegar; do not stir until the liquid boils.  Season with soy sauce, sugar and salt, if desired.  Throw in the bay leaves.  Simmer until pork is almost tender; add the fried bananas.

I did like the dish, and it was an interesting mix with the sweetness of the bananas adding something to the dish.  But truth be told, I stayed away from the bananas themselves!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Adobo sa Dilaw

I love adobo, especially when it's done the way I like it (it is said that adobo has a thousand and one recipes, as each family would have its own "secret" recipe).  But recently I discovered a totally different way of adobo.  And it's one that we really, really like... The thing is, it does not have soy sauce as an ingredient!

The first time I made this dish was a couple of weeks ago, quite by chance.  I had recently discovered yellow ginger (or turmeric) and had bought quite a lot.  So I had been looking for recipes that used it as an ingredient.

There was none in my foreign cookbooks.  And while I found an article about a regional dish popular in the south, describing "original" adobo dish made with local vinegar, no soy sauce and turmeric, there wasn't a recipe attached to the article.  So I started experimenting.

The first time I made it, I winged it by following a basic adobo sans the soy sauce.  I discovered that the dish was a tad sour and rather bland without a salty component.  I fixed the sourness by adding soda and the blandness by adding a couple of large pinches of sea salt.

The result?  A really happy hubby!!! 

At that time I really did not intend to share the recipe.  But as luck would have it, BFF and I were talking the other day, and she mentioned that contrary to most of our countrymen who are lovers of adobo, she vehemently disliked adobo.  (She was referring to the dark colored, soy sauce rich adobo that was the norm.)  And I told her that she just had to try this particular kind of adobo!

So, on our next get together (a few days after), as a special treat for her, I cooked another batch of adobo sa dilaw!

She tasted it and liked it so much that she asked for the recipe. 

So here it is!

1 kilo pork, cubed
4 pieces yellow ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp black and white peppercorns
1/3 cup tuba vinegar
1 cup soda water (7-Up or Sprite)
1 cup water
2 pieces bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt
sugar, to taste

Saute the yellow ginger, garlic and peppercorns.  Add the pork cubes.  Cook until the pork is lightly browned.  Pour in the vinger, soda and water; do not stir until the liquid boils.  Throw in the bay leaves and season with salt, and sugar, if desired.

Simmer until the pork is tender (for smaller cuts of pork it's about 30 minutes).  That's it!