Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies

I am a fan of Ina Garten.  I love her shows and I am enamored with her cookbooks!

Here is her brownies.  It is great for a crowd or party because the recipe makes a really big batch.

And it has a lovely texture... very fudgy... and chocolate-y...  after all 3 kinds of chocolate are used (unsweetened, bittersweet, and chocolate chips).

I added a little bit of nuts, because I like nuts...  I also did not bake everything in a big pan, instead, I used aluminum brownie pans (so that I could give them away to family and friends) and for our own, I baked a few in shallow round cups.

They were good, but a tad on the sweet side.  I think it was so because of the chocolate chips, which were sweet chips.  I think next time I will use bittersweet or at least semi-sweet chocolate chips.  (My friend Daisy suggests using cocoa nibs.)

I sent a box over to my mom and my brother.  My brother said they were good.  My mom said... too sweet!

The recipe can be found here (click for the recipe).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pork, Sausage and Beans

Just because I wanted to see if I could do it...  from scratch...

2 cups cooked beans, drained (or for a shortcut, use canned)
250 grams pork, sliced
1 to 2 pieces sausage, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 small can pimiento, drained, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
Italian seasoning
bay leaf
2 to 3 pieces dried chili, chopped

Saute onion and garlic.  Add pork and a large pinch of salt.  Add sausage and stir fry serveral seconds.  Add the beans, tomato sauce, pimiento and enough stock to barely cover everything.  Season with Italian seasoning (about 1/2 teaspoon) and salt and pepper, to taste.  Throw in a bay leaf.  Simmer in magic cooker for about 3 hours.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lumpiang Hubad

Or, cooking without a recipe...

When I was little, I used to watch a Chinese cooking show (yes, in Chinese!).  I was fascinated because the food always looked good and seemed easy to make - imagine 2 or 3 dishes all done in 30 minutes!  Of course I was young and did not know the magic of TV... but what amazed me even then was that no measuring instruments were used.

So how did she cook then?  Well, she would always say... a bowl of this, half a bowl of that, two bowls of this...  a pinch of salt... that sort of thing...  Of course when I followed instructions for my first dish (ever!), it was a dismal failure!  How was I to know that I should have used a standard bowl?  We had several, all of different sizes at that, and I used them all!

How's that memory relevant now?  Well, these days, there is such a thing as cooking without a recipe!  Or precise measurements.  Such as this dish...

Lumpia is the Filipino spring roll.  Lumpiang Hubad is literally "spring roll that is naked".  In short, it is just the filling of the spring roll.

There are many variations of the spring rolll - a meat filled version "Lumpiang Shanghai" and the vegetable version "Lumpiang Gulay" or simply "lumpia".  The vegetable version has many variations too, depending on the vegetables used.  It is usually a mix of cabbage, carrots, green beans, bean sprouts, singkamas (jicama), with a little ground pork and/or chopped shrimp.  My favorite version is the one with mostly bean sprouts with a little carrot and green beans, with quite a bit of meat and shrimp.

We make this without using a formal recipe at all, or exact measurements.  While we always buy the bean sprouts (it's the main ingredient after all), everything else is depending on what can be found in the fridge.  This particular time, it was only a lonely carrot.  And about 100 grams of ground meat and 6 pieces of shrimp!

So, how does one go about cooking without a recipe?

Well, it always begins with sauteing garlic and onions.  Then stir-frying the ground meat and the chopped shrimp.  Then the vegetables (rinsed, dried and sliced into similar size) are thrown in.  If the mixture is too dry, then water is added gradually.  Then it is seasoned to taste (in this case, very lightly with soy sauce and pepper, no salt because the dish is for my mom, remember?)

Easy, right?


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Roast Chicken, the Day After

This is a great way to make a new dish out of old roast chicken.  had 3/4 of a chicken left over so for today's lunch we had Creamed Chicken and Mushrooms over Smashed Potatoes!

To make the creamed chicken and mushrooms, shred leftover roast chicken.  If the chicken has gravy, thin it with a little hot water.

Saute onions and sliced mushrooms then throw in the shredded chicken with its gravy.  My gravy was a cream gravy so my dish turned out whitish, but white or brown gravy is fine.  (Lechon manok sauce doesn't work so well, though.)  If the roast chicken has no gravy, add chicken stock and some fresh milk or cooking cream and thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Cook until the mixture just boils.  Season to taste.  Then serve on top of potatoes or rice! 

That's it!  Easy-peasy!  Hubby didn't even notice (or recognize) that it was the previous night's dinner!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms

Once in a while I cook for my mom and when I do, I always try to make the dish no-salt-added.  Why?  Because she developed hypertension early (in her late 30s I think) and since then she has tried to reduce her salt intake.  So her taste buds (and ours, too because she cooked reduced salt for everyone!) favors the blander side of food. 

Of course I have to use soy sauce and other condiments, but if the dish is for my mom, I would never add table salt or sea salt, or fish sauce.  Of course it goes without saying, we don't use MSG.

It is not easy to please my mom, but somewhere along the way, I stopped trying.  I just send over the dish and if she has no complaints, then it's good news to me!

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms, no salt added.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken wings
12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 pieces star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili
3 stalks leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated
boiled eggs, optional

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes.  Slice each into 2 or 3 chunks.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of mushroom soaking liquid, half the ginger, half the garlic, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

Saute the remaining garlic and ginger, onion, dried chili, and white part of the leeks.  Add the chicken and marinade.   Add the mushrooms and chestnuts.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved mushroom liquid by tablespoons.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the boiled eggs in the last 3 to 5 minutes, if using.  Thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with the green part of the leeks.  Serve immediately.

The secret to the dish is the very flavorful mushroom soaking liquid!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bringhe, or Valenciana

Bringhe is how it is called in the central Luzon area.  My mom calls it Valenciana, so does A-te J.  What is it?  It is, I believe, the Filipino adaptation of the Spanish paella.  In the end, the dish seemed to veer away from the paella... no saffron, no seafood, different rice used...

Instead, turmeric was used (I suppose in place of the safforn), chicken and pork instead of seafood, and glutinous rice.  And most importantly, coconut milk!  So what is difference among the Bulacan, Pampanga and Visayan (Valenciana) versions?  I honestly do not know.  I asked around and what I got was... Bulacan version adds peas and uses ham.  Pampanga version adds raisins and uses chorizo.  The Pinoy Valenciana is apparently closer to the paella since it has shrimp, and either saffron or turmeric or both can be used.  In all of the cases, coconut milk is used!

This is how I made my version...

750 g chicken thighs (or wings)
salt and pepper
thin slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
200 grams bacon, trimmed of fat, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped turmeric
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup glutinous rice
1/4 cup regular rice
1 cup chicken stock
400 ml coconut milk
1 to 2 tablespoons raisins

Rub salt and pepper onto chicken thighs.  Meanwhile saute the ginger.  Flash fry the chicken until lightly browned.  Remove the chicken from the pan.  Remove the ginger.

Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add the crushed turmeric; press down and stir fry until the mixture in the pan is evenly yellow.  (Alternatively, use 2 to 3 teaspoons of powdered turmeric.)  Add the bacon and bell peppers.  Stir fry a few minutes.  Add the rice and chicken stock.  Mix until the rice is covered yellow.  Add the chicken back to the pan.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Add the coconut milk; mix.  Simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, mixing occasionally.  Add the raisins.  Then lay a banana leaf flat on the mixture, simmer another 5 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.  Make sure that the chicken is also cooked through.

Serve on a large banana leaf, garnished with slices of hard boiled eggs.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pinoy-style Arroz ala Cubana

The first time i encountered this dish was at a (late) college friend's house.  I think we were working on a project and ended up having dinner at her house.  And it was Arroz ala Cubana.  I was intrigued by the presentation... a ring of rice with ground meat piled in the middle and fried saba adorned the edges of the rice ring.  It was delicious, to boot!

This is my tribute to her, because today, out of the blue, I remembered her.

The inclusion of fried eggs is what makes the dish Pinoy style.

1 medium onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian spice
1 teaspoon ground chili
1 small carrot, cubed
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 pieces sausage, diced, optional (garlic brats in my case)
500 grams ground meat (pork in my case)
1/3 cup tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
handful of raisins

5 pieces saba, sliced and fried
5 fried eggs

Saute the onions and garlic until fragrant.  Sprinkle in the chili and Italian spice; saute until fragrant.  Add the diced carrots and peppers.  Throw in the diced sausage and stir fry several seconds.  Add the ground meat and mix until the spices are evenly distributed.  Add the tomato sauce and mix again.  Cook until the ground meat is cooked then add the raisins.  Stir-fry a few seconds more.

Put the rice in a cake mold (or half bundt) and turn over onto a platter.  Spoon the ground mixture in the middle and pile it high.  Arrange the fried eggs on top of the rice.  Arrange the fried saba around the base of the rice ring.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chinese-Style Beef and Mushroom Stir-fry

I've been cooking beef dishes more and more lately simply because the little girl seems to eat more when beef is on the table.  Not that she eats the beef itself, but she likes the sauce mixed with her rice.  So what I do is mince the cooked beef finely and add them to the rice with the sauce!

500 grams sirloin
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, sliced thinly
200 grams fresh button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
cornstarch slurry

Slice the beef as thinly as possible and marinate in the oyster sauce and soy sauce mix for about 20 minutes.

Saute the garlic and onion until soft.  Add the sliced mushrooms.  When the mushrooms are lightly browned, put the beef (and all the marinade) in the pan and stir fry.  I usually add about 1/4 cup of hot water because I want more sauce!  Season to taste and then thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Serve immediately!