Saturday, November 28, 2015

Stewed Snow Fungus, Pears and Red Dates

The last time I cooked this was in 2010.

But when I saw the lovely Packham pears at the nearby fruit store, I couldn't resist buying a pack.  And because I knew my mom would enjoy having snow fungus, I made a batch... no sugar added of course!

Here are the cast of characters...

Here's the recipe:

2 pieces Packham pears or about 4 pieces Chinese pears
1 - 2 pieces dried snow fungus (about 25 grams), rehydrated
12 pieces dried red dates (Chinese jujube), rehydrated
2 liters purified water

Soak the snow fungus in water (not hot) for about 20 minutes. Remove the hard "core" and shred into manageable pieces. Remove any dirt, if any. In the meantime, peel the pears and slice into larges slices or cubes. Make 7 cuts on one end of each red date.

Put the pears, snow fungus, red dates and water into a slow cooker pot.  Cook about 45 minutes (for a crunchier bite to the snow fungus) or up to an hour and 15 minutes (for a really tender and soft snow fungus).  Remove the pears midway if necessary to prevent them from crumbling). Let the water reduce to about 1 liter or so.  Return the pears. Serve immediately.

This can be served cold too!

To sweeten the dish, use rock sugar.  Personally though the pears give a tinge of sweetness which is enough for me.

Snow fungus, or white fungus, is a traditional Chinese "herb" believed to be a general tonic and beauty enhancer (with anti-aging properties).  It is believed to have medicinal value especially in treating dry coughs and heart palpitations.  It has even been said that snow fungus helps battle tumors, lower bad cholesterol, protect the liver and fight inflammation.

As for the red dates (also known as jujubes), they are said to be beauty enhancers, as well as aid in lowering blood pressure, reversing liver disease, treating anemia, and slowing tumor cell growth.

How's that for healthy?!? 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

I have been wanting to make stuffed mushrooms but I never found large enough mushrooms until the other day.  They were pricey, but I could pick and choose so I picked 18 large ones!

This is one of those recipes that is really not a recipe.  I did not measure!  But it is not difficult.  It is so easy I was done in about 45 minutes!

The first thing to do is preheat the oven (375F) and butter the muffin or cupcake pans.  My secret here is really the muffin tins.  Most recipes suggest a baking sheet lined with parchment paper but I encountered a bit of a problem - some mushrooms did not have flat tops and would be lopsided.  I nearly gave up then until I saw the cupcake tin (I used the day before) air-drying on the kitchen rack then it hit me!  I could put the mushrooms in each cavity and the mushrooms would stay put.

So anyway, clean the mushrooms - DO NOT WASH!  Just scrub lightly with a vegetable brush.  Then take the stems off.

Dump the stems in a food processor.  Add maybe about 120 grams of spiced ham, and grated cheese (around 200 grams).  Process until the mixture is in rough chunks then add a couple large pinches of sea salt and a small handful of breadcrumbs.  Process some more.  Test mixture, if it sticks together when squeezed, it is ready!   

Place the mixture in a (disposable) piping bag; cut the tip.  Arrange the mushrooms in the muffin tins, cap side down.  Then pipe the filling in.

See how nicely lined up they are!  The final step is to place a piece of thinly sliced cheese on top.

Bake until done (honestly it is not take long!).  Serve immediately

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Green Veggies Stir-fry

A variation of the same theme.

These days I am busier than usual, which means less time to prepare and cook meals.  At the same time, hubby requests for a meatless dish!  So, killing two birds with one stone (so to speak), here is something...

Although as you cans see, it is not 100% vegetable, since I had too few vegetables on hand to feed 5 to 6 people!  But in keeping with (what I hope to be) meatless, I added squid balls to the mix.

The recipe is (as I say of all my stir-fries) easy.  Just throw in onions, garlic and ginger in hot oil, add the vegetables (which in this case are asparagus, snap peas and celery) then the sliced squid balls.  Stir fry a couple of minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked but still crisp.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and it's done!

Fast, easy and delicious!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Steamed Ground Meat Tofu

I had originally wanted to make Coral Tofu, which is a 3-in-1 dish.  But, for whatever reason, I ended up with something else.

I'm not exactly sure what the dish is but I based it on a childhood dish - firm steamed eggs but not with eggs, and with the meat on the top (instead of at the bottom).  And, Baguio pechay leaves on the bottom.

I made medium-sized dish for my mom and smaller individual dishes for us.

Hubby put a bit of thick mushroom soy sauce on his portion, because he felt it a bit bland (no salt, remember?) but overall he liked it!

2 blocks of soft tofu
300 to 350 grams lean ground meat
3 to 4 pieces dried mushrooms, rehydrated and diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
half a thumb of ginger, grated
1 egg yolk
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoon soy sauce, separated
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
spring onions
Bagiuo pechay leaves

Rinse and drain the tofu.  Cut half of 1 tofu and mash it finely.  Mix with the lean ground meat and diced mushrooms.  Add the grated garlic, grated ginger, egg yolk, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and black pepper.  Mix lightly, set aside.

Mash the remaining tofu and mix with 1 egg, milk, 1 tablespoon soy sauce pepper, and cornstarch.

Start heating the steamer.

Prepare 6 to 8 custard cups (glass cups that can be used for steaming).  Line the bottom with Baguio pechay leaves (also known as Chinese cabbage).  Divide the mixtures into 6 to 8, depending on your custard cups (I made 5 individual servings and 1 double serving).  Place the tofu mixture on top of the pechay leaves and place the meat mixture on top of the tofu,

Steam on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.  Garnish with sliced spring onions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tofu, Shrimp and Celery Stir-fry

This is a simple dish.  But it tastes great, and is ready is less than 30 minutes!

Cube 1 to 2 blocks of firm tofu.  Marinate is light soya sauce (about 1 tablespoon); set aside for a few minutes.

Shell and devein about 15 pieces of shrimp (save the shells for another use).  Rinse well and pat dry.  Slice celery (several "stems")at a diagonal.  Slice a small thumb of ginger in thin slices.

Saute ginger.  Add the celery and stir fry several seconds.  Add the shrimp and cook over medium heat until half done.  Add the tofu and stir gently.  Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pan-fried Lumpiang Ubod

I like lumpia in general, but the lumpiang ubod has got to be the best of the bunch.  I especially like the ones from my mom's home province.  My best memory of that was almost 30 years ago when an aunt brought me loads of it - those small rolls with fresh wrappers and fresh tender ubod... all ubod and nothing else!  Yum!

Of course I have no idea how to make that - especially the fresh lumpia wrapper that was somewhat like a crepe but loads better...  I just have to make do with the regular lumpia wrapper with ubod filling and then pan fried!

What is ubod anyway?

Well, I never really knew what it was, all I knew was that I liked it.  But according to Lola N and A-te J, it comes from the topmost center part of the coconut tree - the heart of the coconut (although they also say that there is another kind of ubod).  Usually, a tree that is still productive will not be used to get ubod (sayang daw, or it's a waste they say).  In any case, there is a part of the ubod that is very tender and there is another part that is crunchy/more chewy...

Anyway, my next favorite lumpiang ubod is the one served by Via Mare... the fried or the fresh one are both ok with me!  But like I said, my homemade version is for the fried one only...  and in my homemade version, I add ground pork and chopped shrimp, just to extend the filling a bit!

The recipe is ridiculously simple...

Rinse, dry and parboil 400 grams of fresh ubod (sliced into matchstick pieces).  Drain and cool. 

Meanwhile, saute some chopped garlic (1 to 2 cloves) until fragrant.  Add 150 grams ground meat and 100 grams chopped shrimp and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the ubod pieces; season with salt and pepper according to personal taste.  Stir fry until the pork is cooked and the ubod is done but still crunchy.

Wrap in lumpia wrapper then pan fry until the roll is lightly browned.

Serve with a vinegar-garlic dip on the side.