Saturday, November 29, 2014

B's Granola Bars

The little girl received this cookbook last Christmas.

This morning, the little girl asked me if we could make Granola Breakfast Bars from the book.

Except that she had a lot of other requests... chocolate chips instead of raisins, rice krispies instead of nuts... add marshmallows and more chocolate chips!

But most of all, she wanted to make the recipe all by herself.  And for the most part, she did.  Of course I wouldn't let her use the knife or switch the oven or stove on...

(from top left to right, bottom left to right)
1. Mix together 1-1/4 cup oats, 1/3 cup each marshmallows, chocolate chips and rice krispies.
2. Heat 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar over low heat until sugar is melted.  Remove from heat, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt.
3. Pour the hot "syrup" into the oats mixture and mix thoroughly.  The chocolate chips may start melting.  Press the mixture into a buttered, lined and (re)buttered 9x6-inch pan.  (The book recommends the use of a potato masher.)
4. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.

(Note:  We adjusted the recipe to fit a smaller pan and adjusted the ingredients to accommodate the various add-ins that the little girl wanted.)

Bake at 325F for 25 minutes.  Cool completely in the pan before slicing into thin bars.  We cut ours into 12 by 3 bars.

It was sooooooo yummy!  The little girl couldn't help munching!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chicken Thighs with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I'd been eying this recipe for the longest time.  I've read many variations of it... from the so-called Engagement Chicken in the cookbook "100 Recipes a Woman Should Know", to Julia Child's, to a million others on the internet.  But, the price of garlic dissuaded me again and again.  Especially when its price tripled a couple of months ago!

But for now the price of garlic has returned to normal, more or less.  And, for once, the pantry had a lot of garlic, more than usual.  And I was actually fearful that it would start sprouting!

Then, at the last minute, BFF was coming over for a visit, so it was the perfect time for this recipe.  She actually requested lemongrass roast chicken but...  I wanted to (finally) make this chicken with 40 cloves (that's about 4 heads) of garlic! 

Anyway, in the end I decided to adapt Alton Brown's recipe, since it looked simple and fast!  But I "personalized" it.  Here is what I did -

1 to 1.2 kilos chicken thighs (about 7 to 8 pieces)
40 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
2/3 cup canola and grapeseed oil mix
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (leaves off the stem and coarsely chopped)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
juice from 1/2 sweet orange, 1 small lemon and 1 lime (or big calamansi)

Clean the chicken thighs (remove fats and excess skin, etc.).  Rinse, drain and pat dry.  Set aside for a while.

Combine oil and garlic; gently heat until garlic smells fragrant.  This will take just a couple of minutes.  Let the oil cool to almost room temperature.  Meanwhile, mix together rosemary, salt and pepper.

Arrange chicken pieces in a baking tray (I used a disposable aluminum one).  Pour garlic oil all over and (use your fingers) to coat the chicken with the oil.  Rub the chicken with the rosemary-salt-pepper mix (get some in between the skin and meat too!)  Arrange chicken skin side up and drizzle the citrus juices all over.

Bake at 375F for about 45 to 55 minutes or until skin is browned and crisped.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Higado a la Italiana

Hubby likes liver.  And peppers.  And onions.

Me?  Nope.  But because hubby does, I cook them for him.  This time, all in one dish.

I had planned on an adaptation of Julia Child's Liver and Onions (yes, I am utterly fascinated by her cookbook Julia's Kitchen Wisdom, recipe on page 42), but in the end, I chose to adapt this recipe, especially the marinade.  For the peppers and onions, I followed Julia Child's Pipérade recipe, of course slightly adapted too.

Higado a la Italiana, my way:

Liver part:

500 grams liver, cleaned and trimmed to 400 grams or so, sliced into relatively thick slices.

(I used pork liver, but everyone else recommends calf liver.)

Marinate liver in a mixture of:

8 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cava wine vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil

Meanwhile, preheat the wok/skillet with about 1/4 to 13 cup canola oil and prepare the following:

1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small green pepper, julienned
1 small red pepper, julienned
1 small yellow pepper, julienned
1/2 teaspoon oregano, or Italian spice mix
pinch of salt

Flash fry the liver (Julia Child recommends a light dredging in flour, but I was in a hurry and skipped this) then remove from the pan.

Saute the onions and garlic in the same pan (remove excess oil if you like).  Add the pepper strips and stir fry.  Season with oregano or Italian spice mix, and salt.  When the peppers are halfway done, add back the livers and cook until your desired done-ness.  Hubby and Lola N like their livers still pink in the middle but A-te J likes them pretty well done.  Solution?  Remove hubby's portion when done and continue cooking the rest!

In any case, serve immediately!  In my experience, liver does not taste good when they've cooled!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Julia Child's Pipérade

Recently, I received a copy of Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom.  I admit I really haven't read it although I scanned some pages.  This particular recipe caught my attention, due to its simplicity, but mainly because hubby just loves peppers and onions!

Presenting Julia Child's Pipérade -

The recipe is ridiculously easy.  I saw a collection (or selection?) of recipes, including this Pipérade, here.   The only adaption that I did was to include a yellow pepper (because I love yellow peppers!)

Hubby was, as usual, happy!  Because this dish could possibly be his favorite!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Apple Cake

When I was a little girl, I loved apples.  I remember eating at least one each day.  And I loved the tart green apple best of all.

But my love for apples were only for the chilled fresh fruit.  I distinctly disliked apples in any other form except fresh, chilled and without the skin!  So while my mom's apple pie was possibly the best, I ate little of it (although to be fair, it was the only apple pie I would eat).    I did not like apple cake at all, although last year, I decided I liked this Apple Upside-Down Cake.  

As I grew older, I grew less fond of apples.  But this did not mean that I did not try to use them for baking!  Especially since we (usually) get a lot of apples in December.  So I baked a lot of apple desserts... mommy's apple pie (at least trying it), apple tarts, apple muffins, apple cakes... all of which everyone else would eat, not me.

Then last week, I discovered Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Marie-Helene's Apple Cake.  I loved it!  And it was rather easy to make.

As usual I made little changes... like using a mandoline to slice the apples instead of slicing them into chunks (it was really faster to use the mandoline!)... adding apple pie spice...  reducing the sugar and using light brown sugar (and then sprinkling the top with more light brown sugar and more apple pie spice)... and finally, using 2 6-inch Springform pans instead of a single 9-inch.

I used a mix of Fuji apples and Gala apples, although I think I might have overdone the apples.  Dorie Greenspan's recipe called for 4 apples (varying kinds).  What I had was 1 medium Fuji apple and about 6 small Gala apples.  I thought 2 small apples would be equivalent to a medium one...

I love, love, love this cake!!!  It's more apple than cake, I would say, and I really like that the apple slices still have a crunch to it!  And the brown sugar on top added more crunch too.

Hubby had his cake with vanilla ice cream and he was so happy with it that he got second and third helpings!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ham-wrapped Asparagus

This is an easy way to upgrade asparagus. 

Simply wrap parboiled asparagus in ham (in my case spiced ham from the deli) and then bake it for few minutes and it's done.  It is THAT easy to make. 

Cut the asparagus pieces (use the ones with thicker stems) into strips slightly longer than the length of the ham.  Parboil the asparagus, then plunge into ice water.  Meanwhile, remove moisture from the ham by blotting with kitchen towels.  If the slices are thick, cut the ham in half (using a whole thick slice will result in pieces that are too bulky!), otherwise leave the (thin) ham slices alone.  Wrap an asparagus spear in a piece of ham and secure with a toothpick (I cut a double-edged toothpick in half).  Arrange single layer in a baking dish.

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, just until the asparagus spears are warmed through.  Remove the toothpicks (the ham should not unravel!)  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tropical Christmas Fruitcake Bites

For once, it was a very quiet day and I was feeling quite lazy.  So I pushed work aside and went into the kitchen.  Whenever I'm feeling out-of-sorts, I think of experimenting in the kitchen.  So I looked in the pantry and the fridge to see what I had... and found some leftover dried fruits... coconut, papaya, pineapple, mango.  I also had chocolate chips, mixed tropical fruit juice (that the little girl did not like) and Tanduay rum, in addition to the usual flour, sugar, butter, etc.

Then a light bulb moment!  How about fruitcake, but using tropical fruits?  (And yes, cacao is a tropical fruit so chocolate chips count!)  And no, it is not too early to make fruitcake!  (It might even be a bit late if it is for Christmas!)

Anyway, I found a recipe in my mom's files for a "white" fruitcake and used it as a guide to make my own tropical, white fruitcake.  I made a lot of changes, mainly using dried tropical fruits, mixed fruit juice (pineapple, mango and banana juice mix), tropical forest honey (instead of molasses), chocolate chips and cashews.  To hasten baking time, I scooped the batter into mini muffin cups and square muffin cups. 

Immediately after taking the fruitcake "bites" out of the oven, I poked holes all over and brushed Tanduay rum on top several times.  The smell in the kitchen was just heavenly! 

Here's a peek inside...

Basically, any recipe for pound cake would do as a base (a "full" pound cake would make 2 medium loaves), just substitute an egg with 1/4 cup pineapple or mango juice and rum, and 2 tablespoons sugar with honey.  Then fold in about a pound of mixed dried tropical fruit (about 4 cups, depending on the fruits), 6 oz chocolate chips and 6 oz chopped cashews.  A full recipe would yield about 90 to 100 pieces of fruitcake bites (mini-muffin sized).  Of course they're not really white, more like yellowish... 

Hubby, the foremost fruitcake lover, declared this experiment a success!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Last Minute Halloween Treats...

Halloween is a relatively new "holiday" where I'm from.  When I was a child, it was quite unheard of, in fact.  October 31 was simply the day (or night) before the day we visited our dearly departed.

In recent years however, it has become a really big deal!  There are all sorts of activities and the malls are full of Halloween decors and costumes... along side the Christmas decorations!

Anyway, the little girl has discovered Halloween in the last couple of days and all of a sudden wanted to celebrate it.  Unfortunately, I was unprepared.  I had to buy candies as well as figure out how to make Halloween treats that were not too scary for her (gory stuff like witches, ghosts, bloody what-nots...) but could qualify as Halloween-y.  Solution?  Google!

I found "spiders" made from cookies, frosting, and pretzel sticks.  Here is my version. 

And another one...

The little girl was surprised when I presented the "spiders" but she had a great time dismantling the legs and eyes and biting into the body!!!