Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I've missed my kitchen, I've missed cooking, and I've missed blogging. And after preparing tonight's dinner, laying out the table, saying grace and eating together, I feel some semblance of normalcy already.
I brined this chicken last night and the 24-hour soak really worked wonders. The chicken was very juicy and amazingly flavorful. Even the breast meat, which can sometimes taste bland, was excellent. Of course having each bite with a bit of crisp skin helped.
Asian Brined Chicken
1 3-4 lb. chicken
4 cups water
1/2 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1 tbsp. sriracha hot sauce (optional)
2 tbsp. grated ginger
1 tbsp. minced garlic
3 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 kaffir lime leaves
1/4 cup chinese rice wine
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. five spice powder
1. Mix all the ingredients except the chicken until well blended.
2. Soak chicken in brining liquid for 12-24 hours. Keep chicken in fridge.
3. Butterly chicken (or not, if you so prefer) and roast at 325 for 45-50 minutes.
4. Raise oven temperature to 400 and roast chicken for 15 minutes more.
5. Alternatively, you could use a turbo broiler and roast chicken at 175, skin side down for 30 minutes. Flip chicken over and roast another 30 minutes.
6. Allow chicken to rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
The low roasting temperature for this dish allows the chicken to cook without overbrowning. The soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar will burn if you roast the chicken at a high temperature. So start low and then increase the temperature toward the end of cooking to brown and crisp the skin.
Son #2 had his chicken with hoisin sauce, but I enjoyed mine with a sprinkling of Eurasian Black Sea Salt, which has an "eggy" flavor due to its higher sulfur content. It was a very nice "welcome back home" meal indeed.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
6 pork chops, boneless, each about 3/4 inch thick
2 fuji apples, peeled and diced
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 heaping tsp. whole grain mustard
4 sage leaves
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1. Season chops generously with salt and pepper.
2. In a heavy skillet, sear meat until both sides are well browned.
3. Remove meat from skillet, lower heat to medium and add onions and apples.
4. Saute until onions are partly softened, about 5-7 minutes.
5. Deglaze pan with white wine and add mustard and sage.
6. Reduce until almost all of wine has evaporated.
7. Add chicken broth.
8. Return chops into skillet along with juices.
9. Finish in a 375 oven for 15 minutes.
I served this dish with smashed garlic potatoes, which is one of my favorite ways of preparing potatoes. The skin provides a wonderful contrast to the rustic creaminess of the potato chunks.
6 Yukon gold potatoes, washed well
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup cream or milk
salt and pepper
1. Boil potatoes with their skins on until tender.
2. Drain. In a large bowl, use a potato masher or a large sturdy fork to smash potatoes. Smash the skins as well. You want small and large chunks, not a homogenous, mushy mass.
3. In a small skillet, heat butter and brown garlic just until fragrant. Pour butter and garlic into smashed potatoes.
4. Add cream/milk and season with salt and pepper.
5. Mix everything together until well blended.
Monday, August 20, 2007
- 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat and skin
- 2 whole heads of garlic (about 20 cloves), separated into cloves
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup white wine
- 7-8 springs fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 2 tbsp. cream (I used 18%)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
My hand-written recipe, copied from somewhere long ago, stained with butter from the many times it's been used, is permanently attached to my fridge door.
Sour Cream Pound Cake
- 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp. lemon extract
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2. Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.
3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after eah addition.
5. Add 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sour cream, next cup of flour, rest of sour cream, and rest of flour, mixing after each addition.
6. Add the extracts and baking soda.
7. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes, baking until top is golden and cake tester inserted into middle comes out clean.
The finished cake will look like this...
Invert cake onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioner's sugar. This cake is great with a cup of coffee or tea. It freezes very well too!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Brown Sugar and Mustard-Crusted Roast Pork
*2 tbsp. whole grain mustard
*1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
*1 tsp. salt
*1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
*1 tbsp. olive oil
*1 tsp. dried rosemary
*6 cloves garlic, each clove sliced into 4 slivers
*1 to 1.5 kg pork roast
1. Mix first six ingredients and set aside.
2. Stab pork roast in several places and insert garlic sliver into each hole.
3. Put pork in roasting pan and rub with mustard mixture. Let stand to marinate for a couple of hours.
4. Roast in a 350 oven until thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 140, approximately 60-90 mintes. Once your thermometer reads 140, turn oven to 500 and finish roast for another 10 minutes. You can also use the broiler for 5-7 minutes.
5. Let roast sit for 10-15 minutes before carving.
Rosemary-Garlic Duo of Potatoes
*6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed into 2 inch pieces, skin on
*2 yams/sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed into 2 inch pieces
*3 tsp. minced garlic
*1/2 cup olive oil
*2 tsp. kosher salt
*1 tsp. cracked black pepper
1. Toss everything together.
2. Roast in 350 oven for 30-45 minutes.
3. Brown under broiler or put back in oven when you raise the roast temp. to 500.
4. Watch closely because the sweet potatoes can burn. Brown for about 5 minutes.
Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad with Pears, Dates and Walnuts
*3 cups arugula leaves
*2 slices goat cheese, cubed
*1 bosc pear sliced
*1/2 cup walnuts, toasted lightly
*4 dried dates
*2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
*3 tbsp. olive oil
1. In a small skillet, saute pear slices and dates in a bit of olive oil until pear slices are lightly caramelized.
2. Toss with arugula, goat cheese and walnuts.
3. Dress with an emulsion of 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp. olive oil.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
This is my version of "thirty minute curry." It's delicious, simple, and very easy. Plus, it's a great way to get my kids to eat their veggies. I like the Mae Ploy brand of curry paste but I always fix it up. Somehow, ready made pastes and powders lack that oomph that gives Thai curry its kick.
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 heaping tsp. shrimp paste
- 2 tbsp. green curry paste
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 5 slices ginger
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 3 stalks lemon grass, cut into 1 inch pieces (white parts only)
- 2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1/2 red pepper, cubed
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Maldon salt has an unusual shape. It comes in flakes rather than geometric crystals and I think it's this peculiarity that makes it so special. The flakes provide a rather interesting texture to the food that is finished with the salt. It's also not as aggressive as the usual kosher salt I use. While the kosher salt seems to hit your mouth with full force, the Maldon lingers and gently creeps up on your palate.
They say the best sea salts elevate the simplest of food to a whole new level. Yesterday, a friend gave me some cherry tomatoes that she harvested from her backyard. I popped one in my mouth...good, sweet, intense tomato flavor. I popped another one with a sprinkling of Maldon...wow, what a difference a few salt crystals made! The salt made the sweetness of the tomato come alive and the crisp texture of the salt provided a wonderful contrast to the juiciness of the tomato.
And so I went out and gathered a few basil leaves from my herb planter and made a simple appetizer. Home grown tomatoes and basil, sprinkled with Maldon salt...a taste of summer on a plate.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 bars cream cheese, softened
- 1 can condensed milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. lemon extract
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 3 sage leaves
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp. water
Thursday, August 9, 2007
1. They're heat safe up to 500 degrees. This means I can leave them in my pot/pan and have no fear that they will melt (unlike plastic).
2. They do not conduct/retain heat. Corollary to #2, this means that if I leave them in the pot and touch them a few minutes later, I will not need to go to the ER for burns on my hand. This also means that when I taste as I'm cooking, I need not be worried that the hot cooking utensil will sear off my tongue and lips (unlike metal).
3. They are easy to clean. Silicone does not absorb colors and odors from food so even if I cook a tomato based dish, they will not turn orange (unlike wood).
4. They' re cheap. I paid an average of $5 for each one of mine.
5. They're durable. They look the same today as they did when I bought them a year ago, despite daily use and abuse.
6. They're soft but tough. Soft enough that they won't scratch my non-stick and enamel pans but sturdy enough to scrape the fond when I deglaze.
And, of course,
7. They're pretty! (do you notice a pattern here? pretty mixer, pretty knife, and pretty spoonulas...)
I marinated (actually the husband) 8 quick-fry pork chops for a couple of hours in a paste made with the prepared spices and some oil. I grilled them up quickly and served them with nuoc cham and some long beans with crab and shrimp paste.
From top to bottom: pork chops, nuoc cham, long beans
- 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. water
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 thai bird chili, minced (optional) -- I used chili flakes in oil
- 1-2 tbsp. shredded carrot
Mix all ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.
For the long beans, I stir-fried the long beans in garlic, 1 tbsp. crab paste, 1 tbsp. shrimp paste and 2 tbsp. oyster sauce.
What to serve with all of this? Rice, of course! It was an excellent meal :-)
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
Green Tea Sugar Cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2-3 tsp green tea powder
1. Cream butter and sugar til light and fluffy.
2. Add egg, vanilla and milk.
3. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and add to butter/egg mixture in 2-3 batches until you get a soft dough.
4. Form dough into disk and refrigerate for a few hours until firm.
5. Roll dough 1/4-1/3 inch thick and cut out with cookie cutters.
6. Chill cookie pieces. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350.
7. Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes until the bottom is slightly brown.
8. Cool on wire racks.
Cream Cheese Cookies (basic recipe)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 3 oz (or about 85 grams) cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 1/4 cups flour
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cream butter, cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla and egg yolk until light and fluffy.
3. Add flour in 3 batches, mixing after each addition.
4. Form dough into 1 inch balls with your hands.
5. Take a glass, grease the bottom and dip in sugar. Use glass to flatten dough balls, dipping in sugar after each use.
6. Bake for 12 minutes until bottom is slightly brown.
7. Cool on cookie rack.
For the matcha version, I added 3 tsp. of matcha powder to half the batter. I also used black sesame seeds to top the cookies, more for decoration than anything else. Very zen looking, don't you think?
Saturday, August 4, 2007
This version of mine is by far my favorite way of cooking adobo. I don't make it often because it involves many steps and dirties up so many pots and dishes. But when I do, I make a huge batch enough for 3 meals or so. I serve one portion and freeze the rest so we can reheat the adobo and have it when we feel like having something truly Filipino.
8 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
Concrete example here...
This was the platter of eggs that I cooked this morning. It looks like the United Nations of eggs, doesn't it?
Son #2's sunny side up egg is on top. He likes his sunny side up just barely done, with a very runny yolk and no hint of caramelization whatsoever.
I, on the other hand, like my eggs overcooked. Hence the brown egg on the right. I cook my eggs overhard resulting in a solid yolk. Plus, I like the edge burnt so that it becomes almost crisp.
Hubby like his in between. A hint of browning on the bottom and a yolk that is in between runny and set. So his egg is the one on the bottom.
And Son #1 doesn't like sunny side up eggs. He will only take his egg scrambled or hard boiled. He likes his scrambled egg firm (not fluffy). Almost like an empty omelet. His egg is on the left.
Even though our egg preferences differ, we all agree on one thing though...eggs taste best when eaten with tocino/longganisa/spam/bacon/tapa and rice, of course :-)
How 'bout you? How do you like your eggs?
Friday, August 3, 2007
I'm so happy that my 2 sons have acquired the taste for spicy food :-) It definitely widens the scope of our gastronomic adventures. I remember 2 years ago, Tita N. came and we took her to a Thai restaurant. Son #1 was 8 at that time and Son #2 was 6. So while the adults enjoyed our pad thai and curries, we had to buy pizza for the boys. It's a good thing the restaurant was so accommodating!
But now, they actually request that I make our food even spicier! Today, we had dimsum for lunch and they put chili oil in their soy sauce. Yes, I have made them into spicy food fiends. Success!!!
So while this curry might be a tad hot for some people, our family enjoys this level of heat.
Yellow Seafood Curry
300 grams peeled black tiger prawns or large shrimp
300 grams squid or cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into 2 inch squares (I used frozen ready to cook, that's why it looks so fancy)
2 cups snow peas, topped and tailed
8-10 stalk chinese broccoli, cut into manageable pieces
6 slices ginger
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
1 small onion, quartered
1 can coconut milk
3 tbsp. yellow curry powder
1 tbsp. shrimp paste
1/2 tsp. sugar
1. In a pot, put the coconut milk, onion, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, sugar, shrimp paste and curry powder. Simmer over low heat for about 7-10 minutes.
2. Once the coconut has thickened slightly and has given off some oil, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes more. It won't take long because the seafood and the veggies need only a few minutes to cook. The squid, particularly, will become tough if cooked for more than a few minutes.
Just some notes. The saltiness of shrimp paste varies greatly with brand and country of origin. I used to use belacan, but I've now gone back to Filipino bagoong (I always use the Barrio Fiesta brand). It's gentler and less smelly and has that sweet-salty balance that I like. Also, belacan needs to be sauteed before using, which adds another step. If you don't have shrimp paste, fish sauce is an ok substitute but it doesn't have the depth of flavor that shrimp paste has. My suggestion is to taste the coconut milk before adding the seafood and veggies so you can adjust your seasoning then.
You can use any combination of protein and vegetables for this curry. I've made this with chicken and will try it with beef next time. Mushrooms work very well and so does broccoli. I just tend to use whatever I have on hand :-)
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
I just love scones. Freshly baked and slightly crumbly, with a little pat of butter, they make a lovely simple breakfast or snack. Of course I've had truly bad scones...stiff as a cardboard and just as tasteless. But a well made scone, as Martha Stewart would say, is "a good thing" albeit hard to find. So for a while I went on a scone baking spree and this recipe has become my favorite. I'm not even sure where I found it but it has never failed :-)
Fifteen minutes for prep and 15-18 minutes for baking. That's all you need and you have fresh baked goods sitting on your breakfast table in no time at all. Today, I made some to bring to work (since I start at 10 a.m.)...
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (NOT reduced fat)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
2. Add cream and vanilla.
3. Mix until everything comes together and knead 4-5 times.
4. Pat into a circle about an inch thick.
5. Cut into 8 slices (like a pizza) .
6. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 16-18 minutes.
This recipe lends itself to infinite variations. Sometimes I'd sprinkle raw sugar on top before baking. Or glaze with a cream/confectioners sugar mixture. You can use raisins (like I did today) or dried cranberries (my favorite). You can add nuts, orange or lemon zest, flax seeds, chocolate chips. If you think about it, this would be an excellent way to unleash your creative potential. Enjoy! :-)