Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chicken Barbecue, Pinoy-style

I suppose every family has its own recipe for barbecue.  I never really had one, maybe because it was far too easy to buy delicious barbecue...  but hubby requested a "healthier" barbecue, so I thought of boneless, skinless chicken thighs... 

700 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2/3 cup banana (chili) ketchup
1/2 cup Sprite or 7-Up
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground pepper
8 cloves garlic, smashed
more salt, as preferred (about 1/2 tablespoon sea salt for me)

Slice the chicken into cubes and marinate at least overnight.  Thread chicken on skewers and grill over charcoal.  Baste with marinade mixed with 1/4 cup chili ketchup and 1 tablespoon oil.

The flavor of this dish is a bit subtle, which is how we like it.  For a more intense flavor, add more salt and banana chili ketchup, or even chopped chilli.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chicken Tarragon Pot Roast

I recently discovered the convenience (hence, joy) of electronic magazines.  Aside from being able to carry several magazines in one small package (ipad, android, even cellphones if you could read the small print!), the price is friendlier than the print edition, then there's less paper waste... (friendlier for the environment and all that)...

Anyway, one of the magazines that I subscribed to is SuperFood Ideas.  In the March 2015 issue, I found a recipe for this:

Of course I had to make a couple of substitutions, like using 2 smaller chickens instead of 1 big chicken, and using dried thyme (didn't have fresh ones), then skipping the green beans... and the white wine as well...

But the best part of this dish is that it's cooked on the stove, using just one pot.  Since it is summer already, I really did not want to use the oven!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Black Chicken with Cogon Grass Soup

Black chickens are called black not because their feathers are black (the live ones I've seen have white "furry" feathers) but because their skin, beaks, innards, bones, flesh are almost black in color.  They are prized in Chinese cooking for their curative or healing value.  They are considered generally healthier (to the consumer) than regular chickens.  They have less calories, fat and cholesterol, and they have more anti-oxidants, protein, vitamin B and minerals!  In particular, it is said that the herbal benefits of this chicken is that of alleviating headaches (and migraines?) so I am particularly interested (I was recently diagnosed with having severe migraines!

The traditional way (that I know) of cooking black chicken is by way of Sibot soup, which uses a mixture of 4 or 5 Chinese herbs in the soup.  That was how my mom cooked black chickens, and the soup, as my mom claimed, had great curative value.  But ever since learning that consuming sibot was not so favorable to persons with high blood pressure (which my mom and B's lola both are), I decided to cook my black chicken in a different, more simple (basic) soup.

Truth is, I have never cooked black chicken soup before, simply because I don't know where to buy one!  But a couple of weeks ago, a friend gave me one - it seems that they raise some black chickens (organic at that!) for their own consumption and I was a lucky recipient of one!

My mom always told me that to make a great chicken soup, the (cleaned) whole chicken should be placed in about 10 cups of water with lots of ginger.  The whole pot was then heated to boiling, after which the soup was to be simmered for about an hour over low to low-medium heat.  As per my mom's instructions, salt was not to be added (if at all) until after an hour of simmering.  Unfortunately, I do not know the reason/s for these instructions (my mom is great at giving instructions but not so good at explaining the reasons), what I do know is that they just work! 

So that's what I did!  But instead of the sibot herbs, I just added dried scallops, shiitake mushrooms and fresh cogon. 

The soup was sweet-ish, perhaps due to the lack of salt, but it was quite tasty (at least to me!)  The black chicken meat was a bit dry and stringy, or so I thought.  Then again, given its health benefits, dry and stringy meat is not so important.

(Now, where can I buy dressed black chickens???)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Strawberry-Mango Jam

A couple of years ago I ventured into making a no-pectin, low-sugar "jam".  I wanted to try again, especially since I've been seeing a lot of strawberries in the market lately. 

But I wanted try a bit of variation.  In an attempt to use even less sugar, I decided to sweeten the "jam" with ripe mangoes (similar to the pineapple mango filling for the tarts last Chinese New Year).  So I used the basic recipe, substituting the pineapples with strawberries and using only 1 tablespoon of sugar to macerate the fruits with, and 2 tablespoons of honey for sweetness.  Of course I skipped the mixed spice and used some Tahitian vanilla extract instead.

The finished jam was quite thick and only a bit chunky.  But it was delicious!  The lingering flavor was that of strawberry, with only a slight hint of mango!  The yield, however, was less than the pineapple-mango.

It was deliciously divine with cream cheese and toast bread!

Who needs a bagel?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mrs. Field's Chocolate-Glazed Shortbread

The little girl raided the bookshelf and found Mrs. Field's Cookie Book.  (BTW, thanks Auntie C!).  She marked the recipe with a post-it and then asked me every day for a week if we could make the cookies.  I replied (every day) that we could on a day when she had no classes in school.

Last weekend, we finally baked these...

I followed the recipe quite faithfully, except for a couple of changes... I used the seeds of 1 vanilla bean, and half the amount of vanilla extract.  And, instead of chilling and rolling out the dough, I placed it in a piping bag with a star tip and piped out rosettes and a heart...

The instructions said not to let the edges turn brown but as you can see, my cookies were a tad over-baked!

Nonetheless, the little girl was happy!  She took a bite and said:  "Mommy!  I love you cookies more and more!  They get more delicious every time!"

(smile, smile, smile)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pineapple-Mango Tartlets

This was the dessert I made for our Chinese New Year dinner a couple of weeks ago.

I originally intended to make my own crust but as I ran out of time, I made do with a ready-made crust.  The filling, however, is homemade, as I made it ahead a day before.

The fresh pineapples that I bought from the market was a bit on the sour side, the pineapples not being fully ripe yet.  I seriously did not want a ton of sugar in the filling, so I used some over-ripe mangoes that lola N's brother gave us (they have several trees and this year's harvest was more than they could handle!!!)

150 grams ripe mangoes (about 3/4 cup mashed flesh)
250 grams pineapple chunks (about 1-1/3 to 1-1/2 cups chunks)
about 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
large pinch of mixed spice
1 teaspoon calamansi juice

Put everything in a thick saucepan and cook (over low to medium heat) until thickened.  (while the filling was cooking I felt it was still a bit sour so I added about half a tablespoon honey to take the sour edge off).  The recipe makes about 2 cups "jam" or filling.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Skillet Pizza!

Growling tummies and horrific traffic forced us to stop by a (really) small cafe and have lunch.  We weren't even sure if there was a lunch menu but there were cakes and if only to stop our stomachs from complaining of hunger, we took a chance.

Fortunately, there was a lunch menu, even if it was only comprised of 4 selections for entrees, the rest being sandwiches, salad and pizza.  The pizza was what got our attention!  The menu described it as super thin and crispy pizza (5 variants).  We asked how long the pizza would take and (surprise, surprise) the reply was 10 minutes!  And true enough, we were eating in about 9 minutes!

The crust was really thin and had a snap/bite to it.  And I was really intrigued!  And challenged.  I wanted to know the secret.  So, we ordered another pizza to take home.  I deconstructed the pizza.  And I figured out that the crust was some from of flatbread...  (the internet, as usual, was helpful with all its suggestions!)

my first attempt with a wheat tortilla... 

(a quarter of the pizza is just plain cheese for the little girl)

It was easy.  The tortillas, about 9 inches in diameter, were store bought.  I placed some quick-melt cheese on top, then scattered ham, mushrooms and pineapple tidbits (on 3/4 of the pizza).  I sprinkled grated Parmesan, mozarella and cheddar on top.  (The little girl actually helped.)

Oooops.  Before I started, I heated my 10-inch frying pan and let it heat up while I prepared everything else.

Anyway, I placed the whole thing in the skillet.  For a cover I used a pizza pan with holes!

Pizza in 10 minutes!  The best part?  The little girl ate her 2 slices (a quarter of the pizza) with gusto.  She then told me that I make the best things ever, ever (her words!).

We made another one for hubby, his being all veggie pizza.

We spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the tortilla then sprinkled grated cheese (same trio).  Veggies - mushrooms, Spanish onions, tomatoes and yellow bell peppers - went on top, with more cheese sprinkled on top.  He loved it!

So pizza is what we're serving when his friends come over in a couple of days!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Brownie Rounds

I've had the book "Baked:  New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito on my shelf for several years.  And I'd been reading a lot about their brownies and how it is THE brownie even connoisseurs like.  The recipe had been on my list for a while too, but for some reason or another, it was only today that I finally decided to try it once and for all!

Ok, obviously I did not follow the recipe to the letter, but my deviation is only as to form and not substance. 

I used a silicone "fairy cake" pan (shallow round cavities) to make the brownie rounds. 

And I added some peanut butter chips to some of the rounds (because March 1 is peanut butter lovers' day...)

I discovered something else, too!  The brownie rounds were absolutely heavenly straight out of the freezer!

How did I find this out?  Well, I tried to get the brownie rounds out of the silicone pan after they cooled.  But it was tough to get out (even if the pan was made of silicone, hence non-stick), and bits of brownie were sticking!  So I thought of freezing the pans a while; after that the brownie rounds popped right out.  And because I couldn't wait, I ate one.  And realized that the frozen brownies were just fantastic!

(So now they're stored in the freezer!)

The recipe is all over the internet (I have the book, though!) and there's even a spicy version of it (will try that one next time, because hubby loves spicy foods).