Monday, June 30, 2014

Toge at Talaba Gisado

Guisado is a Spanish word that means "stew"but in our native tongue it means saute.  Toge is bean sprouts and talaba is oyster.  So, the title, in English, is Sauteed Bean Sprouts and Oysters.

I don't know what it is about bean sprouts but they just go really well with oysters.  Even in oyster cake, there's bean sprouts!  Is it because the texture of the soft, creamy oyster contrasts so beautifully with the crunch of the bean sprouts?  Whatever it is, we love it!

200 grams oysters
300 grams bean sprouts
4 thin slices of ginger
1 medium onion, sliced
1 stalk leeks, sliced
2 small tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the oysters and drain.  Rinse the bean sprouts, then remove the "pointy" end and drain.

Saute the ginger and flash fry the oysters, with a pinch of salt, for a few seconds, until the oysters give up some juice.  Remove from the pan.

Add a little more oil then saute the onions and the white part of the leeks.  When the onions are soft, add the tomatoes and stir fry a few seconds more.  Add the bean sprouts and cook until done (but still crisp/crunchy).  Add back the oysters, adjust the seasonings and cook for several seconds so as not to overcook the oysters.

Garnish with the green part of the leeks before serving.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Taiwanese-style Popcorn Chicken

I had my first taste of this a long time ago when hubby and I were in Taiwan.  They were delicious!  I've tried to make them, but without success, it never got close to what we had before.

This time, however, hubby declared the dish a success (although slightly on the salty side so next time I will probably reduce the salt by half)...

I basically followed this video with a few changes...

First I used skinless, boneless chicken thighs.  Instead of red pepper and white powder, I used all black pepper.  I also used "AA" starch, which was what my mom used for "breaded" pork chop when I was a kid.  I totally omitted the basil.  After deep frying, I sprinkled more black pepper on the chicken.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Potato and Onion "Pie"

I was watching the Food Network the other day, specifically reruns of Tyler's Ultimate.  This was one of the dishes he made in that particular episode... Caramelized Onion Potato Tart.

I found it so enticing that I decided I would make it the soonest that I could!

And I did!!!  And paired it with roast chicken (sans the bacon) from James Beard (from his book The Essential James Beard Cookbook)!

Hubby was impressed!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Diced Tofu, Shitake and Pork

This is another childhood favorite, although I remember it as having "vege-meat" (wheat gluten) cubes as well.  My siblings and I (literally) fought over this dish! 

The best way to serve it?  Piping hot over a bowl of rice!  Oh, topped with spring onions!

To make it:

1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
400 grams lean ground pork (or any ground meat)
about 10 to 12 pieces dried shitake, rehydrated then diced
1 to 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 piece firm tofu, cubed
1 to 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
dark soy sauce, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Saute the garlic and onions.  Add the ground pork.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper; stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the mushrooms.  Splash soy sauce, stir until the mushrooms are partly cooked.  Throw in the tofu.  Add oyster sauce.  The mixture should give up some liquid, if not, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup stock or water.  Season to taste.  Simmer until everything is cooked.  If desired, thicken the dish with some cornstarch slurry.  Adjust seasonings, according ot personal taste.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Spricy Shrimp Rice Topping - for one

Basically I'm home alone... and I do mean it literally.  Not that I'm complaining, I actually relish these moments alone (since they are pretty rare) and the peace and quiet is very, very refreshing!

Of course this means that I have to cook for one.  Truth be told, I'm usually uninspired when it's just me eating.  And ashamed as I am to admit it, I just open a can (just because it is so darn convenient!).

This time, however, I was in the mood for some spicy shrimp.  Spicy because I have a cold and a reduced sense of taste.  Shrimp because they defrost in no time at all and cook really fast.

150 to 200 grams of shrimp, cleaned and shelled*
olive oil
4 thin slices of ginger
6 to 8 cloves of garlic, minced
pinch of dried chili flakes, or to taste
sea salt, to taste
half a small lemon, if desired

Marinate the shrimp in some olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Saute ginger and garlic until fragrant.  Add chili flakes and shrimp.  Stir fry to cook shrimp evenly.  Season with salt, to taste.  Squeeze the lemon over the shrimp, if using.  Don't overcook the shrimp or they will be tough.  Serve over hot rice.

*keep the shells to make broth for use in other foods.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creamy Whole Milk Ricotta, Homemade!

I've always wanted to try and make my own cheese...  I even bought a book on cheese-making only to shelve it because it was full of ingredients I'd never heard of, worse, I don't even know where I could get them!  I thought the whole thing was just too complicated.

But recently a friend told me how easy it was to make fresh cheese, like this whole milk ricotta, and it only took 4 ingredients!

Ricotta?  I always thought it was uninteresting.  (I've always preferred cream cheese!) 

But my friend said:  "this is not the kind you find at the supermarket".  Still, I was not interested.  She said:  "this ricotta is creamy and delicious... almost like cream cheese, without the tanginess".  Ok, I was willing to try it.

I am glad I did.

Like I said, 4 ingredients... 1 liter of whole milk, 1 cup of whipping cream, 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (I used calamansi juice) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Place everything in a large stockpot (not aluminum) and heat to 190F, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom getting burned.  When 190F is reached, remove from heat and let sit 10 to 15 minutes as the curds separate from the whey (remember little Miss Muffet?).

Meanwhile, line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth and place the whole thing over a really big bowl to catch the whey.  Pour the curds and whey into the strainer and let it drain for about 20 or 30 minutes (truth is I couldn't wait, I drained mine just 15 minutes).  After that time it's ready to eat.  But I chilled mine and after several hours, it was perfect!  Hubby said it was like cream cheese, but sweet rather than tangy!  Wow!   

My biggest problem was that I needed pasteurized milk, but all the milk in the supermarket was ultra-pasteurized!  My friend to the rescue, she had a supplier of pasteurized whole milk...

My next problem?  I couldn't find decent cheesecloth!  Guess what I used instead?

A cloth diaper!  Yup, to be specific, a cloth diaper that's known as bird's eye.  It was supposed to be the little girl's when she was a baby, except that she didn't like it.  She preferred the other type, which was the gauze-type of cloth diaper.  Anyway, we had started to use the bird's eye cloth diapers as kitchen towels and when I saw it on the kitchen counter, I thought it would work (of course I asked for one that was unused and sterilized it).

It worked perfectly!  (especially since my strainer was a rectangle... and I used my roasting pan as my catch basin for the whey, which will be used in hubby's smoothies the next few days!)

Although, gathering the ends up was a bit awkward, since the diaper was a rectangle...

The whole project took me about 2 hours... especially since somewhere in the middle, I wondered why my milk mixture was not getting hotter... only to find out that my fire had gone out!  I quickly restart the stove and crossed my fingers that there was no harm done.

Despite some mishaps, I think my cheese came out really well!

And yes, my friend was right!  This homemade ricotta is nothing like the supermarket kind.  And yes, I am a fan!  I will be making this often!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ginataang Puso ng Saging

Puso ng Saging is literally translated into "heart of the banana".  But it's called banana blossom or bud.  To be honest, though, I haven't seen this on a banana tree/plant.

It's easy enough to cook, in my most favorite way - ginataan or in coconut cream/milk.  What I do not like is the preparation of the puso ng saging itself.  All the "hard" work in preparing, however, is well worth it when the final dish is eaten!

1 large puso ng saging

100 grams shrimp
4 thin slices of ginger
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 pieces siling haba/pangsigang (finger chili)
1-1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
salt and pepper, to taste

First, prepare the puso ng saging.  Get ready with a big bowl of water with salt.  Remove the tough outer layers (and anything else that hangs on).  Slice the puso ng saging in half, lengthwise, then slice crosswise to get thin strips.  Place the the strips in the salt-water and soak for a while.  When ready to cook, squeeze the strips dry.

Saute the ginger, onion and garlic.  Add the shrimp and stir fry until the shrimp is pinkish.  Add the coconut milk and siling haba.  Put in the puso ng saging.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Let the mixture boil (the puso ng saging cooks rather fast) then add the coconut cream.  Adjust seasonings.  Let the mixture come to a boil before serving.