Friday, October 17, 2008

Another Ham

Sorry, I forgot to take a photo so the one above is recycled :-) But I finally made another ham yesterday. And this time I had the presence of mind to jot down what I used.

1 large can pineapple juice
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. peppercorns
1 tsp. dried fennel
1 tsp. coriander seeds
few gratings of nutmeg
1 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled

and of course, the ham.

I buy this smoked pork shoulder at the grocery. It's not available all the time so when I find it, I grab one and keep it until I feel like making a ham. It's uncooked and the package says to boil it in water for 2 to 3 hours. Instead of water, I used the mixture above. The pork shoulder simmered in my enamelled cast iron pot for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. I took it out of the liquid, sprinkled the top with sugar, and stuck it in a 350 degree over for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I skimmed the cooking liquid to remove the fat, reduced it down til it was thick and syrupy, and used that as a glaze/sauce. Yummy! And the best part, lots of leftover ham to get creative with :-)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spaghettini alle Vongole

We had a very memorable farewell meal for my father-in-law in a small, quaint Italian restaurant the other night. They had the BEST spaghetti alle vongole I had ever tried. The pasta was redolent with the taste of the sea and the clams were fresh, clean and flavorful.

So of course, I just had to try making the dish at home. My end product was not quite as transcendental, but better than most generic pasta with clams that I've tried. The trick to making this dish special is removing the pasta from the boiling water a couple of minutes before it's done and finishing the cooking process in the clam sauce/broth. The pasta then absorbs all that rich brininess and garlicky goodness in the sauce which makes for excellent eating.

1 lb. dried spaghettini (any other long noodle such as spaghetti or linguini would work too)
1 whole garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
3 lbs. fresh clams, soaked to make sure they have no sand in them
1 can clams (yes, I cheated), drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1. Put clean clams in a deep pot with white wine. Steam until the clams open.
2. Discard clams which did not open.
3. Remove the clams from the liquid and strain the liquid to remove any sand. You can use a cheesecloth, which I didn't have, or a coffee filter, which I did have.
4. Combine the liquid with the juice from the canned clams. Set aside.
5. In a large pot, saute the garlic in the olive oil until the garlic barely has a hint of gold.
6. Add the whole and canned clams.
7. Add the clam juice and most of the parsley, reserving some for final garnishing.
8. Taste and season with salt (I didn't need to) and freshly ground pepper (this I did).
9. Simmer until you have about 1 and 1/2 cup of liquid left in your pot.
10. Meanwhile, boil pasta in lots of salted water. A couple of minutes before it's done, drain it and throw it into the pot with the sauce.
11. Toss the pasta with the sauce over low to medium heat until the pasta absorbs the rest of the liquid.
12. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley on top.

Note: Remember, no cheese with this dish, please. Traditionally, seafood based pasta dishes are never served with cheese. Although as you can see here, I've never been a stickler for rules.

Molo Soup

The fall weather is upon us and when the chill in the air is beginning to show its face, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of soup.

Molo soup is a Filipinized version of wonton soup and it's basically made from very similar ingredients. I personally think that Molo soup tastes better...but that's just me :-)

1 lb. lean ground pork
1 lb. peeled shrimp, finely chopped
1 onion, minced finely
1 carrot, minced finely
3 tbsp. oyster sauce
salt and pepper
70-80 wonton wrappers
1/2 chicken or 2 bone in chicken breasts, boiled and shredded (use this to make your chicken broth)
2 heads garlic, minced
4 spring onions, chopped
8 cups chicken broth

Step 1: Make the filling
1. Combine pork, shrimp, carrot onion, and oyster sauce.
2. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Mix well until thoroughly combined.
Note: The food processor makes very quick work of this.
4. Set aside 4-5 tablespoons of the mixture and use the rest to make the wontons.
5. Place half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of filling in each wonton wrapper. Seal edges with a bit of water. Set aside.
Note: To see if seasoning is ok, I usually nuke a small bit in the microwave for 10-15 seconds so I can actually taste it before I go ahead and make the wontons.

Step 2: Fry garlic in oil until slightly golden.
This is a very important step. The savory, crunchy bits of garlic floating on the soup makes this dish. No garlic, no molo soup.
Note: Do this in the soup pot where you will actually make your soup so you can use the garlic infused oil to saute the soup base.

Step 3: Make the soup
1. Saute half of the chopped spring onions in the garlic infused oil for a few seconds.
2. Add the meat/shrimp mixture and break it up as you saute.
3. Add the shredded chicken.
4. Pour in the chicken broth.
5. When the soup is boiling, drop the wontons ever so gently in the broth, stirring gently after every few pieces so they don't stick to each other.
6. Season to taste with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
7. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Step 4: Assemble the dish
Ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh spring onions and fried garlic. Enjoy with eyes closed. Feel the warmth of the broth take away the chill of the nippy fall air.

Note: This recipe serves 8-10 people. If that's too much, keep some of the wontons and fry them up another time. It's excellent dipped in sweet chili sauce.