Hoisin Chicken Stir-Fry

It has really been a challenge for me to cook since I don't really have a place of my own right now. I am currently renting a room with privileges of using the kitchen and utilities. To make things simple, I try not to buy too much ingredients and think of quick and easy dishes to prepare. I do try to consider the family of my landlady when I cook too. They are a carnivorous lot who barely gets enough nutrients from vegetables and fruit. So, I try to sneak in a couple into my cooking. :D

So allow me to share with you this easy dish that I have put together with the available ingredients I have.


1/4 kilo chicken fillet*, cut into strips
2 - 3 tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp. cooking oil (peanut oil, canola oil or corn oil)
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped white onions
1 16oz-bag of mixed vegetables*, thawed slightly
1 block of firm tofu, sliced into cubes and fried
2 tsps. toasted sesame seeds

Mix the chicken strips in the Hoisin sauce, soy sauce and 1/4 tsp of black pepper. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
In a hot wok, heat the oil and saute the garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the marinated chicken strips and reserve the marinade. Stir until the chicken is not any more pink in color. Add the marinade with 1/4 cup of water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes covered. Check if the chicken is tender and cooked through. Once done, throw in the vegetables. Stir and adjust the taste by either adding more hoisin, soy sauce or pepper. Once the vegetables are heated (not wilted). Turn off fire, stir in the fried tofu and top with the toasted sesame seed. Serve hot with steamed white rice.

Breast fillets may be used. But if this is not available, thigh and leg fillets may be substituted.
The bag of mixed vegetables may depend on what is available in the fridge at the moment. Normally I have a bag of mixed stir-fry (carrots, brocolli, snap peas, cauliflower, zucchini) or mixed variety of broccolli, cauliflower, carrots with a few slices of bell pepper. If there are fresh vegetables at hand, these may be used. Just prepare and slice up the fresh vegetables into even sized pieces for even cooking.


Pork in Tomato, Potato and Carrots

I am currently far away from home and I miss the familar surroundings specially the kitchen. When mom called, she began sharing a recipe that I should try. I did and would like to share it with you. It is almost similar to Afritada/Mechado in my opinion and was easy to prepare. I will just call this Pork in Tomato, Potato and Carrots.

1/4 - 1/3 kilo pork, sliced into 1/4th-inch cubes (lomo or kasim)
2- 2 1/2 tbsps minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onions
5-6 pieces Roma tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
3-4 tbps soy sauce
ground black pepper
1 cup peeled and chopped potatoes
1/3 cup peeled and sliced carrots
1/8 cup sliced leeks
1 tbsp. sugar

Marinate the pork in 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and ground pepper according to taste for 4 hours. Saute garlic, onions and tomatoes in a hot pan with about 1 tbsp of oil. Saute until the tomatoes are tender. Add the marinated pork, reserving the marinade sauce. Saute well until all sides of the pork are brown and no longer pink. Add the remaining marinade and enough water to cook the meat until fork tender. Add the potatoes and carrots and adjust the taste by using the remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce, ground pepper and sugar. Once the meat and vegetables are tender but not soggy, add in the sliced leeks. Serves 3-4.

The leeks may be substituted with 1/3 cup sliced bell peppers. If a more rich tomato taste is desired, tomato paste may be added.


Chicken with Brocolli Leaves

500 g. of chicken breast fillet, cut into thin strips
about 2 tablespoonfuls of finely minced garlic
2 shallots (or 1 large onion), peeled and thinly sliced
lots of broccoli leaves, tough ends of stalks cut off and discarded
5-6 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil
3 tablespoons of sherry wine or rice wine
light soy sauce
ground pepper, to taste
sesame oil

Cooking procedure :

Season the chicken breast fillet with 1/4 light cup soy sauce, ground pepper, sherry wine or rice wine, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and 2 tablespoonsful of cornstarch. Marinate for atleast 1 hour.

Heat the cooking oil in a large shallow pan. Add the marinated chicken and cook, stirring, until lightly browned around the edges. Add the garlic and sliced onion. Cook for about a minute before adding the broccoli leaves. Pour in the soy sauce mixture a few at a time, adjusting according to one's desired taste. Add some ground pepper. Stir a few times then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes, depending on how mature the broccoli leaves are. More time is require for more mature leaves over the tender ones. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and quickly stir and remove from heat. Serve with warm rice.

Add more soy sauce, if necessary, before serving. Or serve with soy sauce on the side.

Beef Ampalaya with Oyster Sauce

Normally when we prepare bitter gourd or ampalaya, we would saute it with tomatoes, garlic and onions. But for a change, I decided to add slices of beef to make it a complete meal with rice. My mom would tell me to rub salt on the gourd to remove the bitter taste. While doing this, no sound must be uttered during the whole process else the bitterness would still be present. I don't know if this bares any truth but I always end up with a not so bitter dish and everyone enjoys it.

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 head of an onion, chopped
100 -150 grams of beef loin, pounded and sliced to 1x1/2"
300 - 400 grams of bitter gourd or ampalaya, deseeded, sliced into 1/4" thick
2-3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tsp. sugar

Cooking procedure:

Rub gourd with salt and leave for 5 minutes. Rinse and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Pour a small amount of oil in a medium non-stick wok. Saute beef until color changed. Add the garlic, onion and stir until fragrant. Add 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce. Add water, about 1/4 cup. Simmer until the beef is tender. Add the gourd and simmer for 1-2 minutes covered or until it is half way done. If the water is not enough, add another 1/4 cup. Drop in the sugar, stir and simmer for another 2 minutes or until the gourd is cooked. (Personally I leave the gourd, half cooked so that there would still be texture, crunch and the color would still be bright green).
Remove from heat and serve.

And there was light...

Finally, after a long absence, I am back... I have been gone for along time that I can't keep track of the stuff I am suppose to post.

Many things have happened. I had to have my laptop serviced by someone from Dell because I have encountered the "Blue Screen of Death" as my friends and I would call it. When ever we encounter a blue screen, there is that chance that data could be lost. Most system errors would display this dreaded screen.

Next, I became busy with moving from one home to another. Gosh, I never thought it would be difficult to pack, load and unload all our stuff. I couldn't imagine how much stuff that I have accumulated in my current number of years. There were clothes, shoes and items that I never thought I owned. Luckily, there was a village garage sale the other weekend.

Lastly, I also have been busy with looking for another job. The 50 hour/week is taking a toll in my health, personal life and social life. This does not include the 2-3 hour travel time each day. It seems or it makes me feel that I am missing alot from my life with this kind of schedule. And through God's grace, He gave me the chance to join another company which I would grow with in the years to come.

Well, let me end this now with, thanking your for bearing with my long slumber and hopefully, I enlighten you with a new set of recipes that I have tried and love to share with all of you...


Delays and more delays....

This is really difficult on my part, trying to be dedicated and punctual with my posts but my trusted laptop died on me last June and until now it is still in the "ICU". I came across the "blue screen of death". That is what I call when ever I see a blue screen with the error message scrolled right smack on top of the monitor screen. The last time I saw that, I had to part with my desktop.

One of the sad parts of encounter such a dilemma is not being able to back-up all your work prior this happens. All the photos for my next posts and drafts were all there. I don't have a spare electronic copy nor hard copy. Sigh....

Now, I am trying to work using a 128 memory desktop that we own since... Hmmm, it has been too long for me to remember. But I do recall it used to be the fastest then. LOL.

Allow me to apologize for the delays, and I am trying my best to get back on tract again. Soon I hope... soon...


Estofado Experiment

Whenever there are celebrations at my co-worker's place, her mom would prepare Estofado. I have asked her how her every time how her mom prepares the tasty dish. It's sauce is thick and you could distinctly taste the liver and beef. Though my co-worker's mom palette is on the salty side, it is a dish you would look forward to eating on a daily basis. :)

When she gave me the instructions on how to make it, my mom revised the whole recipe thus the taste was not the same. It had no liver taste and the color was bright red than dark brown. The sauce was thick as well. Mom added vegetables to the recipe.

Let me share with you my mom's version of the Estofado she made. (How much I wanted to replicate the original recipe, I didn't dare interfere with her while she was in the kitchen.)

1 kilo pork, cut into cubes, about 2x2 inches
1/2 of the small can of liver spread
pineapple juice
1/2 of 250g box cheese, grated
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 250g tomato sauce
1 bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
salt and pepper for seasoning
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large carrots, cubed

Marinate pork cubes in liver spread, pineapple juice, cheese and soy sauce for at least 1 hour. Make sure that pork is submerged in the pineapple juice. Saute garlic and onions. Add the marinated pork plus the marinate sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes then add tomato sauce. Continue to simmer until the pork is tender stirring occasionally. Add the pepper, pickle relish to the pork. Season with salt and pepper to taste then simmer for another 3 minutes.

Chayote Tops

When I was young, we were invited to go my aunt's school friend who lives in Baguio. They had a small plot where they would plant vegetables and one of those were chayote. Being a good cook, may aunt prepared a simple dish using the chayote tops or shoots. Having the ingredients right out of the garden, the meal was a delight.

I tried to replicate the same manner using chayote shoots bought from the market. Nothing compares to the my aunt's cooking and the freshness of the green leafy delight. Let me share with you this simple dish that we usuually pair of with fried fish or pork chops.

The Ingredients:
1 bundle of chayote shoots, cut the stalks about 1 inch length, discard the tough stalks and mature leaves
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 - 2 tbsp. fish sauce or 1 - 2 tsps. fish paste
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp. oil

Saute garlic and onion in 1 tbsp. oil in medium heat. Once the onions have reached translucent, add the stalks. Saute for 30 seconds, then drop the leaves and younger shoots. Saute for another 30 seconds then pour in vegetable stock. Add fish sauce or fish paste a little at a time until the desired taste is reached. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked but not overly done.

Serve along side fried fish or pork chops.


A month long hiatus

It has been a month since the last post. Things have been crazy and my photos plus recipes have been piling up. So here I am slowly trying to catch up with my posts and keeping you updated.

So what have I been doing? Work has been dragging me away. Personal errands too. Now, that things have been slower at the office and I have catch-up with personal obligations, I decided to share with you the Beef Lasagna (previous post). It made me think that the process of making lasagna is similar with what I went through with all the things going for the past weeks.

What will you be expecting then? Watch out for the Beef Stir-Fry, Chopsuey and an interesting new kitchen tool.

Keep tuned.... :)


Beef Lasagna

I remember growing up, my brother would painstakingly prepare lasagna for the family. This time around, it is my turn to make my own for the family. I don't have the family recipe with me so I decided to check different typed of beef lasagna recipes until I decided to get bits and pieces for other recipes and combine what I think was do-able for my version. The verdict: Mom's friends loved it. :D.

The Ingredients:
Meat Sauce:
2 lbs. lean ground beef (or 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef with 1/4 lb. lean ground pork)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white onion, minced
1/2 cup tomatoes, seeded, chopped finely
1/3 cup celery, minced
1/3 cup bell pepper, minced
4-6 cups tomato sauce
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 to 2 tbsp. oregano or italian seasoning
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

White Sauce (Bechamel)
3 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 carton of fresh milk
1/2 cup grates quick melt cheese
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

9 cooked lasagna noodles
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
3/4 - 1 cup grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, quick melt)

Cooking Procedure:
Meat Sauce:
Saute meat in a non-stick casserole pam until brown. Drain the meat of the oil. Leave 1 tbsp. oil and saute the garlic, onions, tomato, bell pepper, and celery until cooked through (about 3 minutes) over medium heat. Add drained beef into the pan and mix into vegetables. Pour in tomato sauce and paste and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Season the meat with salt, pepper, seasonings, sugar and add in the mushroom. Simmer again for another 3 minutes. Stir occasionally making sure the bottom doesn't stick. Season the sauce to taste and set it aside.

White Sauce:
Mix flour and butter to form a roux. Slowly pour milk while stirring continuously with a wire whisk to avoid lumps. Continue to stir milk and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the grated cheese, seasonings. Continue to simmer until the sauce is thick and easily falls out of the spoon. You may run a finger at the back of the spoon and when it comes out clean, you may set the sauce aside.

Pour a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of a pan. Layer with noodles, then pour an even layer of meat sauce. Then pour a thin layer of white sauce. Sprinkle with a few pinches of parsley. Layer again with noodles. Repeat the process again until there are three to four layers of noodles. On the last noodle layer, pour remaining meat sauce then white sauce. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and 3/4 cup cheese on top. Cover with aluminum foil. Broil lasagna in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, remove the foil and brown the cheese and white sauce.


Top of the Pop

My brother brought home a bag of these interesting chocolate treats. They are called Top of the Pop. They are from Wilsons-Sonoma. It is large popped corn kernels mixed with almond praline and covered with semi-sweet chocolate. The almond praline was not overpowering with sweetness compared to other chocolates. It had a good balance actually. Too bad he only brought home a few pieces. I guess we will have to wait for the coming Christmas season to get another bite of this wonderful delight. If only they are available all year round :D.

Pancit Molo Soup

My grandmother would make this dish on special occasions. My dad would brag that Lola Paz was the best cook ever. I remember as a child, she would constantly be in the kitchen whipping up something for lunch or dinner. Mom said that she was blessed to have learned her technique in making Pancit Molo Soup.

Pancit Molo Soup

The Ingredients:
1/2 kilo ground pork
1/3 cup onions, minced
1/3 cup waterchestnuts (or singkamas), minced
1/3 cup shrimps, shelled, deveined, minced
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons spring onions, minced
1-1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg
1 package molo wrapper (around 40 pcs.)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onions, chopped
1/4 kilo chicken breast, boiled, deboned, and shredded
4 cups chicken stock
white pepper
cooking oil
extra garlic, chopped or minced,

Cooking Procedure:

Boil the chicken in 5 cups of water with a little salt. Cook the meat until it is tender. Reserve the chicken broth and remove the chicken meat. Once cool, shred the meat into strips. Set aside.

Mix the following ingredients together in a bowl: ground pork, minced onions, waterchestnuts, shrimps, 1/3 cup spring onions,soy sauce and an egg. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Take a teaspoonful and place on the center of a wanton wrapper. Take the four corners and pinch together, forming a pouch. Repeat this until all of the meat mixture have been wrapped in the wanton wrapper. If there are excess wrappers, tear into strips and set aside.

With a 3/4 tablespoon of cooking oil, saute the chopped garlic and chopped onions until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken strips and saute for a minute or two. Pour in the soup stock and season the liquid with salt and a little pepper. bring the liquid to a boil, then drop the molo dumplings one by one. Make sure that the water is roll-boiling. This will prevent the dumplings from sticking together. Add the remaining stipped molo wrapper. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 5-8 minutes. If the liquid is not enough, add more chicken stock or warm water. Season to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the molo dumplings are done. Turn off the heat. Transfer into a soup bowl or individual serving bowls. Top with minced green onions and toasted garlic.

Buko Pandan with Gulaman

My friends and I decided to visit one of the historical places in the Philippines that is just a stone's throw away from Manila. It was my first time to visit the island of Corregidor and it was a wonderful experience. It gave us a chance to capture history through the remnants, stories from the guide and visual markers. A blast from the past so to speak.

One of the unique things that I have tried is their Buko Pandan with Gulaman. It is unique for me since we barely prepare drinks at home that uses these ingredients and the combination of the tastes were different for me as well. The way it was presented was pretty cool with the green pandan juice is set ontop while the red jello (gulaman) is set on the bottom. It reminded me of the traffic lights. Just add color to the center and there you have it. A cool refreshing traffic light in a glass :).

If you haven't been there or would like to reminisce I would like to share with you just some of the photos I took: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78495325@N00/sets/72157603978976564/. Maybe the next time, I visit we might bump into each other there :D.


Celebrity Italian Table - a Free Cookbook with a Cause

I was reading one of my favorite blogs and was attracted to her latest entries. Pinch My Salt came across this site from a fellow blogger Spicy Salty Sweet and it offers a free cookbook. WOW!

The Celebrity Italian Table offers a free download of their cookbook which features celebrated-known personalities from the America, famous Italian chefs and prominent U.S. party planners. The cookbook offers special wonderful pasta dishes and are accompanied with a beautiful and creative table setting concepts to match.

Not only does this delight cook enthusiasts such as moi, but it also allows us to help feed the unfortunate. Barilla's program, which is on its second year, promotes awareness and money to support America's Second Harvest, a US charity that donates 2 billion pounds of food products annually. For each downloaded copy, Barilla will donate $1, up to $100,000, and this will help reach out and feed the less fortunate. The cookbook will be available for the whole month of February, 2008 in PDF format.

Corn Soup

Japanese sweet corn is served boiled, buttered and lightly salted at home. It is sometimes added to dishes like Bulalo or Nilagang Baka (boiled beef stew) that gives a sweetness to the dish. At home, when ever we would get fresh corn ears, we would either just boil them or make corn soup. It is one of the comfort foods that is enjoyed with fried or grilled foods.

The Ingredients;
3-4 ears of fresh sweet corn, cleaned
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium white onion, minced
1/2 - 1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced into thin disks
1 teaspoon corn oil
3-4 cups of water or broth
a handful (approximately 2/3 cup) of chile pepper or cayenne leaves (dahon ng siling labuyo)
salt and white pepper to taste.

Cooking Procedure:
Remove the corn kernels from the cob by running a sharp knife through it. If you want a chunky style corn soup, run the knife as close as you can get through the cob. If you wish a more finer and creamier version, run the knife through the kernels, scraping the top slightly. Repeat for 4-5 times until you get all of the kernels and pulp. You may notice a white kind of liquid coming out, this is the "milk" that makes the soup creamier. Set this aside.

Saute ginger slices, onions and garlic in 1 teaspoon of corn oil. Heat through until the onions and garlic are tender but not burnt. Add in the shredded corn and saute thoroughly for 3-4 minutes. Pour in liquid and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture simmer until the corn is cooked. Add in the chile pepper or cayenne leaves and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot with croutons or as is.

My Notes:
- You may add 1/2 cup of shrimps, bacon, ham or pancetta for a more flavorful soup. You may add these after you saute the ginger, onions and garlic or add this in the end. For the raw shrimps, add them after sauting the aromatics until they slightly turn pink. As for the ham, bacon or pancetta, cook them until they caramelize with the aromatics. Then add in the corn and continue with the rest of the procedure.

- Use a blender or food processor if you wish to have a more smoother consistency.

- A 250ml all-purpose cream or full cream milk may be added to make a creamier corn soup. Add this towards the end of the cooking process. Let it simmer until it reaches to the preferred consistency.

- If chile pepper or cayenne leaves are not available, you may substitute with onion leeks, parsley or cilantro. But the taste would not be the same since it may lack the "slight peppery" flavor.


Dean & DeLuca

My brother brought home a couple of chocolate pieces and he brought these bars. This reminded me of the defunk tv series Felicity where the main character Felicity Porter (Keri Russell) worked for a coffee shop called Dean & DeLuca through out her college years.

During my visits in the US, I never had the chance of visiting the coffee shop since I have never had the chance of visiting New York. Maybe on my next visit, I would drop by and try them out. And in relation to the actress that played Felicity, Keri Russell starred in a movie titled "Waitress". She is again portraying a role of a waitress, but this time in a small dinner which specializes in all types of pies. She creates all these unique creations of pies and dreams of having her own place and live a better life away from her possessive husband. An inspiring flick that encourages adventure in creating different pies.

Spinach DIp

When mom came home, she brought 2 small tubs of spinach dip from Trader Joe's. She said that it was her latest addiction. So when both containers were found in the dish washer, I know I had to find a recipe that was similar to Trader Joe's. After a couple of trials, I finally was able to find one that is if not exactly the same, it was the closest it could get.

It is a pretty easy recipe to follow. This may be served with baked pita chips, Nachos or vegetable sticks.

The Ingredients:
1 10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted or 500 grams fresh spinach
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion salt (if this is not available, add 1/4 cup finely chopped onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt*)
1/4 cup spring green onions, minced
1 8oz. water chestnuts, drained, minced or 1 cup singkamas, minced
1/4 cup parsley, minced (optional)

Cooking Procedure:
For fresh spinach: Remove spinach leaves from stems and clean over running water. Blanch the fresh spinach leaves for a minute to two, if there are no precooked spinach available. Take out from the heat and place it in an ice cold bath (a bowl of cold water with ice) to stop the cooking process.

Squeeze out the excess liquid from the leaves then loosen them over a towel. Make the sure the towel has absorbed most of the leaves' moisture. Once they have been fully drained, chopped the leaves finely and place in a bowl along with the rest of the ingredients.

Mix all ingredients together and chill for at least 4 hours. Serve cold with chips or fresh vegetables.

My Notes:
I add the salt last so I could control the amount of sodium added into the recipe. I add a pinch or 1/8 teaspoon at a time.


Going Calamares

Look how time flies when your busy with work, errands and other things. I do apologize for being gone for a long time. I have been busy with work and running errands for my family and friends. My aunt who came visiting just went back to the USA last week. So I have been running around looking for gifts that she will bring back. At the same time my brother came home to visit. Not only that I am helping a HS girlfriend with her wedding preparations. As a result, I have a ton of photos that need editing, posts that needs to be written and entries that I still plan to make. So things have been pretty hectic.

As for this entry, I would like to share with you one of our favorite dishes. Calamares is made out of squid's body that is skinned, cleaned, sliced into rings, coated with corn or potato flour, dipped in beaten eggs and deep fried until crisp. This is paired off with either tartar sauce, sweet chilli sauce or mayo mustard dip. Personally I prefer using potato starch or flour than corn flour. It produces a more crunchier and crispier calamares.

Did I mention that it is made out of squid body? You might be wondering what about the head. We add that too and fry it as well. But we make sure that the squid heads are dried well else it would be too moist and would not turn into crispy pieces.

The Ingredients:
1/2 kilo fresh squid, skinned, cleaned and ink sacs removed
salt and pepper
2 tsp. lemon juice
ginger slices
1 beaten egg
potato flour
cooking oil

Cooking Procedure:
After cleaning, detach the head from the body of the squid. Slice the body into rings by 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch wide. Marinated in lemon juice and ginger slices to remove the fishy smell for about 20 minutes. Remove from the lemon juice and ginger and lay out on a rack to air dry a bit. Lightly coat with potato flour each piece, dip in the beaten egg then coat again with the potato flour. Fry by batches in very hot oil. Once the crust has turned golden brown, take it out of the oil and drain. Make sure that you do not over cook the squid else them may become tough.

Place drained cooked calamares on a dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce, ketchup, vinegar or tartar sauce.

My Notes:
- Use potato flour instead of corn starch. But if it is not available, cornstarch or corn flour.
- After cleaning the squid, air dry the squid to lessen the moisture.
- When cooking, the oil should be hot enough and the squid should be cooked in batches. Do not over-crowd the pan because this may cause the oil's temperature to drop.
- For a spicier approach, sprinkle salt, ground pepper and pepper flakes over hot cooked calamares.


Griddle cakes

Pancakes... Flapjacks... Flap cakes... Breakfast cakes... Hot cakes... Johnny cakes... Fried bread...
And the list just goes on for what you call griddle cakes. It just depends on which part of the world you are from. Here, they are called hot cakes or pancakes. Normally they are served for breakfast with a dob of butter, tablespoon or spoons of preserves and lots of maple syrup. For some they accompany it with sausages and eggs too.

Last Christmas, I was up early and prepared breakfast for everyone. I remembered my mom buying a box of pancake mix. So to please her, I though of making her a batch. However, the mix couldn't be found. It made me think where it could have went since I never saw or hear anyone at home make some in the past weeks.

Instead of wondering more and trying to figure out the mystery, I threw in a couple of available ingredients and viola, home-made pancakes from scratch. At least, I don't have to have hungry angry household members. Probably I will be making a batch again soon....

Griddle cakes

The Ingredients:
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Cooking Procedure:
Sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat egg. Add milk and butter until all mixed well. Pour into dry ingredients; beat until combined making the batter still lumpy. Heat a skillet or griddle. To test if it is hot enough, drop a little water and it should roll off in drops. Use about 1/4 cup batter for each griddle cake. Cook until bubbles for on surface and edges become dry. Turn; cook 2 minutes longer, or until nicely browned on the underside. Serve with butter, maple syrup, jams and or preserves.

Aligue Fried Rice

Everyone at home loves seafood and crab is one of the most after crustacean, most specially the ones that are rich with eggs or roe or what we call aligue. Others call aligue as "mustard" or "crab fat" because of it's yellowish color and the terribly rich in cholesterol. There are local grocers and food markets that sells jars or cans of this succulent treat and is readily available all year round. There are a couple of recipes that call for aligue, such as aligue pasta or aligue sauce to be paired off with slices of meat. So incase, there is a craving for aligue, one can easily grab one from the stores.
Having a couple of left over crabs, it was not enough for crab cakes. So I removed the excess roe and crab meat and threw in day old rice and mixed vegetables. So everyone had a chance at home to have a share (specially in the cholesterol). :D
The Ingredients:
2/3 cup cooked aligue and crab meat
4 cups day-old rice
1 tbsp. oil
2 tbsps. minced garlic
3 tbsps. minced white onion plus 1 tbsp. minced white onion
1/2 cup mixed vegetables (corn, carrots and peas; may be replaced with just corn and carrots or with other available combinations)
2 tbsps. oyster sauce mixed with 1-2 tbsps. water
1 scrambled egg, sliced into strips
ground pepper to taste
Cooking Procedure:
In a bowl, flake aligue and crab meat. Set this aside.
In a separate bowl, loosen the day-old rice from clumps. This would allow even distribution of the oyster sauce and other ingredients.
In a wok, dry fry the 1 tbsp. onions until it becomes dark in color and toasted. Set this aside. Pour in the oil and saute garlic and onions. Do not over cook the garlic else ti may become bitter. Add in the crab and saute until heated through. Try not to over heat because the meat may become too dry and tough. Add the rice and mix well.
Pour in the oyster sauce evenly over the rice. Season with ground pepper. Mix well to distribute the sauce evenly. Add in the vegetables and continue to stir until the vegetables are heated through and oyster sauce is evenly distributed.
Once done, transfer in a container and top with the scrambled eggs and toasted onions.
My Notes:
When ever my mom used to make fried rice, she would mix the day old rice with soy sauce or left over adobo sauce.


Free Rice

I know that this blog is a collection of treasures in my kitchen but I couldn't miss this opportunity to share this with you.

I stumbled upon Free Rice, a site that not only donates free rice but also helps one's vocabulary by playing the online game. The player receives a word and s/he tries to choose the correct word that best describes the word in question. For each correct answer, 20 grains of rice is donated by the advertiser on the bottom of the page. If you get 10 correct answers, you have contributed 200 grains of rice. The UN World Food Program distributes this to deserving families all over the worlds.

The site does not earn anything from this generous gesture.

Why not give it a chance to not only donate rice but also be able improve your vocabulary.


Present from Tita Pretty

I was looking for a different kind of ensaymada to munch on and came across Mary Grace. I have seen kiosks around Power Plant Mall and Glorietta 4 and cafes in Robinson's Midtown, Trinoma Mall and Serendra but never bothered to get a box until just last September of last year. I never had the chance to post because I got caught up with taking photos and eating delightfully different ensaymada. Normally, we would come across the sweet fluffy cake-y type. This one is rather on the salty side because of the grated queso de bola and the bread is a soft roll that has the right amount of sweetness to complement with the cheese.

I sound like a broken record... Looks like I need to get another one.... I am hooked.

Tita Pretty gave us a box of these yummy queso de bola topped ensaymadas for the New Year. Truly a treasure in one's kitchen for its taste and texture. Soft and moist bread topped with salty grated queso de bola and hint of sweetness too. Thank you Tita Pretty.


Eating shrimp without getting your hands dirty

Growing up, my dad would teach us how to eat properly and one of this is how to peel shrimp without using your hands. Normally, as kids, we would just take off the head with our bare hands, peel off the shell and tail then pop it into our mouths after dipping it in some lemon butter or butter garlic sauce. (Yum.)

The kids would argue with him that there is no fun in eating shrimp with utensils. He would counter that it is best to learn how most specially when the time comes it may come in handy. So with displeasure we had to learn the art. Honestly, it was difficult at first and tiresome. We weren't able to eat as much as we wanted and the process took more time that we lost our appetite.

But that was many years ago. Now that we have mastered the art everything is just a cinch. Thank you dad for taking the patience in teaching us.

How to Peel Shrimps Using a Fork and Knife:

1) With a fork, pierce the part of the body near the head for a firm hold. The shrimp is now lying on it's side. Using your butter knife or dinner knife, decap the shrimp's head (the carapace).

2) Place the tip of the knife right on the legs and try to scrap off the legs (or the swimmerets). This will leave an opening and would make it easier to peel off.

3) Now pierce the fork where the swimmerets used to be.

4) Insert the tip of the knife in between the shrimps body and the shell. Push back the shell away from the body to a point that the shells would detach away from the body. Continue this until the shell have been taken out. The tail may be sliced off or peeled off.

I would say that practice makes perfect but nothing beats eating shrimp using your hands.


Baba Ghanouj

I decided to change my approach to pot luck appetizers. I would normally bring a batch of pork spring rolls, salsa and chips plus dessert. When my HS girl friends decided to call a reunion, I thought of bringing something that would be slightly different from the average Filipino appetizer fare. Why not bring a batch of Baba Ghanouj?

Baba Ghanouj or Baba Ghanoush is commonly served as a starter or appetizer. It is a dip that is paired of with pita chips (but it may be paired with anything your heart desires :D ). The main ingredient is baked or grilled eggplant combined with a mixture of spices, tahini and oil. Tahini is ground sesame seeds with oil that was turned into paste. It is rich in protein, folic acid, B vitamins and iron. It helps with digestion too. However this dish should be taken in moderation for those with arthritis and gout because it may aggravate their condition.

The dish is easy to make and the ingredients are readily available in the market. I figured I would be able to try something new and play around in making my own home-made tahini too.

The Ingredients:
400-500 grams eggplant
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional)
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika or cumin

pita chips for dipping

Cooking Procedure:
Cook the eggplants by either baking or grilling. If you decide to bake them, pierce the skin with a fork for a few times; slice the eggplants into 2 length-wise. Lay them with the cut side down over a lightly greased cookie sheet and roast at 375F until they are soft and tender (about 30-60 minutes depending on their sizes). Cool and drain them them by laying them over a strainer. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl.

To grill, lay the eggplants over open flames and cook until the skins are dark and the meat is tender. Peel off the burned skin. Squeeze out the excess liquid and place the meat in a bowl.

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, except for the olive oil. Blend all the ingredients together until everything is blended. Add olive oil into the eggplant mixture one tablespoon at a time until you have reached the desired consistency. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and taste. Adjust the saltiness and tangy flavor by adding more salt or lemon juice. Transfer dip into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with paprika or cumin. Serve with pita chips.

My Notes:
I prefer to grill the eggplants because the smoky flavor gave the dish more character.
Tahini may be found in super markets. Here is a copy of a homemade recipe.

Tahini - Sesame Paste

In my exploration of recipes, I have encountered the term Tahini a couple of times already without really knowing what it is. Until I met a friend, Ayman and mentioned that it was just sesame seeds turned into paste. Ahhhhh. It is similar to peanut butter except it uses sesame seeds instead of peanuts.

So, in the two years, I didn't even bother trying to find this product locally because no one would appreciate its use. Until recently, I decided to make baba ghanouj. I needed tahini and I had no clue which local grocery carries this. So searched the web and came across homemade tahini recipe by Emeril Lagasse . And boy, it sure made my life easier from ransacking all the grocers here in the metro. I just adjusted the amount since I wouldn't be needing a lot of this.

I just toasted 50 grams of sesame seeds for a few minutes until golden in color. Tried not to over cook and burn the seeds else I would end up with a bitter paste. Placed the toasted seeds in a blender and added 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Blend the ingredients together. Add another teaspoon of oil to make it more spread able. You may add more but try to add in small amounts else you would end up with an oily paste. Store blended paste in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator up to a few months.


The 2007 Christmas Gift Winner

After trying a couple of recipes for this year's Christmas 2007 treat search, finally it is over. And the winner is ....


I saw this online from find.myrecipes.com and since I became slightly obsessed with the idea of using locally available productS (pumpkins in particular) I had to give it a try.

Actually, this recipe is not for cupcakes but actually a marble cake recipe. But I wanted to mass-produce this for friends, so I baked it in muffin cups. I was able to make 4 dozen delicious babies with 1 recipe. I tried to repeat this and was able to make 3 large loaves with one recipe. It was moderately difficult for me at first since I never made marble cakes. But once you get the hang of it, everything was a piece of cake (no pun intended). I didn't add the frosting anymore because I found the cake just right and adding the frosting would make it too sweet. We liked it better refrigerated because it made it more dense-like but eating it in room-temperature is good too.

Maybe, I would be adding this as a regular gift treat and conduct another Christmas Project for 2008.


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