Monthly Archives: November 2004


Right. Oven and stove top are squeaky clean, turkey-grease free, and ready for more action.
For a change we had deep fried squid with marinara sauce which turned out better than I expected (the last few times were soggy; I must take note of what we did today so we can repeat, and repeat…I’m worried about my brain, it seems to be getting sluggish more and more…)

Salt 1 lb. of large squid. Cut across into rings, rinse and dry with paper towels.
Dip in seasoned flour (salt and pepper). Make sure all surfaces are coated.

For marinara: saute 1 large onion, diced, with salt. When translucent, add oregano and basil. Pour 2 cups of canned tomato sauce, 1/4 cup red wine, and 2 cloves of garlic,crushed, salt and pepper. Let simmer about 30 minutes, tasting to adjust seasonings.

Deep fry floured squid at 375F, about 3 minutes. Wait till squid rings float up to the top (my sous chef did a wonderful job with the 10 yr. old Rival deep fryer: it was light and not at all greasy–thanks Mr. T!)
Serve with marinara sauce and lemon or calamansi slices. (Nice for a fondue party: keep deep-fried calamares warm in toaster oven, spoon marinara sauce into small fondue pot, and serve–also good with fried breaded shrimp or mozzarella cubes).

Paksiw na lechong pabo

“Paksiw” Lechon Turkey
We always do this to our leftover pork…when you order a roast pork, “lechon”, you get a tub or two of lechon sauce and lucky is the party host who gets stuck with leftover meat and sauce. That is, if your guests don’t take home the extra.
When I was around 11 I moved in with my Lola to run away from my heckler brothers.
She taught me how to cook then: while she typed upstairs in Lolo’s library-bedroom on her ancient Remington, she would holler down the instructions on what to chop up next.
“Mince the onions now.”
“Done, Lol! What’s next?”, and on and on until she could come down and show me how it all came together.
This was when I had an inkling that I’d found something I loved to do.
“Salsa ng lechon” is another one from Lola Ebeng. I would sniff my fingers and savor the garlic and onion scents. Since then I’ve had nothing but disdain for bottled Mang Tomas (it has no liver in it! the gall! hmmph).
To cook this dish I had to call my Ma for reassurance. (She had to learn from Lola, her biyenan-mother-in-law-to please her finicky husband and cook his favorite food). When Ma was here for Thanksgiving a few years back she had a sudden flash of inspiration and came up with this innovative dish.

First make liver sauce:
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 large onions or 8 shallots, chopped finely
1 small can of liver pate (I used Roland’s with green peppercorns)
3/4 cup of Filipino coconut vinegar
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar
Kasubha or Saffron threads, a pinch
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper

l. saffron r. kasubha
Mix liver pate, vinegar, water, sugar, pepper, and saffron or kasubha and blend well.
I used the stick blender.

Saute garlic in hot oil. (If desired set aside some golden fried garlic for topping the sauce. ) Add onions and saute until translucent. Pour in liver mixture, bread crumbs, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Turn down heat. Without stirring let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Simmer until slightly reduced. Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding sugar, salt or pepper to taste.
For Paksiw:
Add your cut up leftover roast pork or turkey (pabo), 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1/2 cup or more brown sugar, a splash of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of coconut vinegar, whole black peppercorns, 1 tsp. dried oregano. Let it simmer for half an hour or more. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add hot water a little at a time if sauce dries out too quickly.

This lets you prolong your enjoyment of your roast meat with the advantage of experiencing a different flavor.

before you snicker, scoff or sneer, it looks a mess but listen here, it’s the best, with rice and beer!!!

Brine that turkey…

A nice time was had by all.
The most remarkable was the big bird, which surprised everyone by its size (24 lbs.) and its price ($11!) and its toothsomeness. Hurray for brining.

Here are the links to some of the dishes.

sweet potatoes with minimarshymallows

unmolding the other pumpkin flan

duck and orange terrine slices (from previous post)

it was big, it was heavy, it was unwieldy…brining made it such a moist and succulent beast

Mix 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of kosher salt, 3 tbsps. of whole black peppercorns, sprigs of your favorite herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary) in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Cool completely.
Pour into your container with the fresh or thawed turkey (this is for a 14 lb. size) and let it soak at least overnight.
Store in cold porch/basement, or your large spacious refrigerator…
Before roasting, rinse the turkey well and then proceed with your preferred roasting method.
We have decided to stick to this brining process instead of buying a pre-brined bird, which tends be much more expensive with uncertain mixed results.
It was oohed and aahhed all over and they all wanted to take home some leftovers.

diary of an ersatz chef

We hit 4 stores, #2 son and I, yesterday morning and we were done by 10 a.m., grabbing breakfast on the go (roasted pork bun from the Kam Man bakeshop). I thought I was semi-successful (couldn’t find a Kosher brined turkey, only a 24-lb. behemoth bird and I didn’t feel like shopping around anymore and putting the boy through all I lugged it home and brined it myself. I am nuts!).
Yesterday was the day to make the flan and other desserts and the do-ahead dishes.

Granada (pomegranate) seems to be the “in” chic fruit of the moment. I snubbed our little bush just outside the kitchen in Quezon City, all those years!, thinking why bother, it’s got so many seeds and it’s too sour. The one I got from whole foods was very sweet and juicy and had ruby red jewels inside. I let the kids eat it and used the bottled juice for the cranberry sauce.

A neat way to have an even crust…pottery pie weights.

Bourbon orange pecan pie
My Dad-in-law, the kids’ “YeYe” loves nut pies and I made this for him. He’s 80 years old and very hale and hearty; we celebrate especially for him.

My daughter requested peach cobbler. A promise is a promise..oh wait! there are no peaches in November. Oh no! Then this genius girl saw mangoes at Whole Foods…using a previous recipe from the summer, I used the perfumey-fragrant mangoes, calamansi juice, and cardamom.

…and this is miss murphy who kept me company as I multitasked late into the night
I will be cooking some recipes for sides from my blogfriends and I want to wish you all…
Happy Turkey Day! Give thanks for all we have.

Duck and Orange Terrine

I sometimes do crazy things. Okay, all the time. Husband just shakes his head and shrugs. I set two appointments for the youngest 2 kids on the same day…at different times. The Dr.’s office is not that near so I had to drive and grapple with the traffic twice in a day. I dunno…it gets nutty around here. I get nutty. I thought it would be good to get it all done the Tuesday before Thanksgiving when the school load tends to be lighter. To decompress I decided to make an appetizer for our Thanksgiving meal, which requires advanced marinating, prepping and cooking, and “soaking” to render the best flavors.

I want to prove that a Filipina mama can cook this just as well as the next French mama… The goal is to get from bird to terrine. I just need to read the recipe thru over and over, get the ingredients, and make what is essentially a fancy… meat loaf. This recipe is from the manual that went with the terrine.

Skin the duck carefully (reserve for crackling chicharones), cut the breast fillets in 2 large pieces, separate as much meat as you can from the bones and set aside in a glass dish. Put the giblets and liver in too. Splash 2 tbsp. of cognac and 3 tbsp. of orange juice. Scatter thyme and sage leaves and then mix. Marinate at least 3 hours.

It is so gratifying to see the late season herbs we still have, looking unperturbed from the ice last night.

Put the duck carcass,giblets, and bones from legs and wings in to a stock pot w/ 10 peppercorns, a bay leaf, a bouquet garni of your favorite herbs (I used thyme, sage, and a sprig of rosemary),salt, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, enough to reduce stock to about 1 cup. Brown the duck breast fillets and the duck liver. Set aside to cool. Saute 3 garlic cloves and 1 medium onion over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add 5 tbsp. of reduced stock and bring to a gentle boil. Strain and let cool. Mix chopped up duck pieces from marinade, 12 oz. of ground pork,1 tbsp of grated orange zest, one egg, reduced stock, and 1 tsp of salt. (I skipped the cloves and allspice, we don’t get along…)

Arrange thick bacon slices across the bottom of terrine pan. Fill half the meat mixture over bacon; put the browned duck fillets across, and hard boiled quail eggs (or quartered chicken eggs) and cashews (or pistachios); add the rest of the meat; arrange orange slices, sage and thyme over, then fold over the bacon across the top of the meat mixture, then cover tightly w/ the lid.
duck orange terrine Set terrine over a water bath and bake in preheated 300F oven for about 1 and a half hours or more until meat registers about 160F or until juices run clear.

Set terrine over a rack and press a heavy weight on top of lid (I used my marble mortar) and let cool.

Store in refrigerator at least 48 hours before serving. Unmold, slice thinly and serve over toast points.

“Sunday morning here with you…”

We are always in a rush on school and workday mornings. Sunday mornings we luxuriate in sleeping in till late and indulging in a leisurely breakfast. Somedays we have this, what I call Pinoy omelette.

A simple saute of tomatoes and red onions, in olive oil (I like to sprinkle oregano and basil)…

…set aside and wipe the pan clean. Pour in lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper. When the eggs start to set, put back onions and tomatoes and carefully fold the sides inward and flip.

A once-in-a-while treat, served with crisp bacon and toasted pan de sal.

Chinese-Filipino Binagoongan (pork cooked in shrimp sauce)

My Lola called it “sunok,” and she felt it very often during her stay in upstate New York.
It is the feeling of a tired palate, when applied to appetites, when one feels no gumption to test a new recipe for the same old tired ingredients, when one’s tastebuds are hankering for new adventures. Lola also used to say “nakakasuya,” suya meaning almost nauseating, sickening, when she referred to dishes rich in cream or spice.
So this dish came to be, an offshoot of a dish husband and I used to have in a favorite Chinese restaurant, sizzling platter of squid in shrimp sauce. I bought a bottle of “fine shrimp sauce” and found a recipe for pork which I’ve since revised and tweaked through the years. Guaranteed to spark a dull lull in your tastebuds, when you need a tasty hit of something sharp and strong. (This is not for the timid.)
First you need to find these cross-cut pork spareribs, which are sold in long thin pieces or chopped up. They are often served in tiny bowls at dimsum, steamed in black bean sauce. I like them with shrimp sauce.

Marinate in rice wine and black pepper, at least half an hour.

Add thinly sliced red or green hot peppers, 1 big knob of ginger, sliced, half a head of garlic, crushed. Grind black peppercorns and sprinkle sea salt over the meat. Add 1 stalk of green onions, julienned, green and white parts. Mix in well, 1 (or more, according to taste) tbsp. of Chinese shrimp sauce (Lee Kum Kee or Koon Chun) and 1 tsp. of rice wine, and set over steamer. (Have on hand boiling water in a separate pot to add to the steamer as necessary). Steam until pork is tender and almost falling off the bone, about 1 hour and 15 minutes or more. Add boiling water as necessary.

(Light a scented candle now.) Serve over hot steamed rice. Guaranteed to drive “sunok” blues away.

A Room with a View, as I wash dishes
“…and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life…”
Henry David Thoreau, “On Walden Pond.”
Happy Weekend!

Pumpkin Flan

This is an easy dessert to make for the upcoming holiday parties, for donating to school bake sales, and in this case, for fulfilling spouse’s request for a contribution to the Thanksgiving office party. (We didn’t get to eat this! I’ll just make it again next week.)

Pumpkin Flan from Bon Appetit, Nov. 1999
Preheat oven to 375F. Heat a 2-qt. souffle dish or round ceramic casserole in middle of oven.
Make the caramel: Cook 1 cup sugar in a dry 2-qt. heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork, until melted and pale golden. (You may also add from 1 to 1&1/2 tbsp. water to start dissolving the sugar.) Cook caramel w/o stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Warning: it is very hot!

Quickly and carefully remove hot dish from oven and immediately pour caramel into dish, tilting it to cover bottom and sides. (Leave oven on). Keep tilting as caramel cooks and thickens enough to stay in place.
Scald 1 can of evaporated milk (1 &1/3 cups) and 1 cup light cream or half-and-half in a saucepan and remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat 5 eggs and 1 cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and cream. Beat in 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 15-oz. can solid pack pumpkin(1 &3/4 cups), 2 tbsp. bourbon or rum, and 1 tsp. cardamom, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice. Pour milk mixture through a sieve into a bowl and beat into pumpkin mixture in a slow stream until combined well.
Pour custard over caramel in dish and set in a water bath of 1 inch hot water. Put pan in middle of oven and lower temperature to 350F. Bake until golden brown on top and a knife inserted in middle comes out clean, about 1 &1/4 hours, possibly longer. Remove dish from water bath and transfer to a rack to cool. Chill flan, covered, until cold, at least 6 hours.

To unmold flan, run a thin knife around flan to loosen from sides of dish. Wiggle dish from side to side, and when flan moves freely, invert a large serving platter with a lip over dish. Holding dish and platter securely together, quickly invert and turn out flan onto platter. Caramel will pour out over and around it. Cut flan into wedges and serve with caramel spooned over…
(Will post the unmolding-photos next time…husband did this by himself at the office party–with a slight mishap! but it is all gone by now.)