Monthly Archives: January 2005

mocha. MOcha. moCHA.

mocha. i’d name a new puppy or a new kitty…a new baby? aargh! mocha.

new neighbors have moved in to where our beloved “betty” used to live and i knew i wanted to welcome them in the way that we were NOT.
see when we moved in to this old blue house, the immediate adjacent neighbors welcomed us warmly and politely. but the ones in front…on our first day, accused us of banging into their tenant’s car and adamantly & hostilely made sure we knew they were here first and they owned the street….well. i would have none of that and have been pointed in pointing it out that they can’t bully us. since “arthur” died and his wife ‘eva” moved away, and betty too, i thought, i must do the right thing and welcome this new young family with cake and good luck wishes.
if you grew up in Manila like i did, you would know about Magnolia ice cream. my lolo and lola adored macapuno (“mutant” coconut sport ice cream) but i always longed for the mocha flavor. if my ma ever deigned to ask me what my favorite was i would always ask for mocha cake for my birthday. since the day i learned how to bake i have been looking for that elusive chocolate-coffee flavor i so loved…and…*sniff* i finally have it.
mocha bundt cake from debi fields’ great american desserts

preheat oven to 350F. butter generously a bundt pan, and sprinkle 2 tbsps. of granulated sugar to coat all surfaces.
cream 3 sticks of unsalted butter (1 & 1/2 cups) and 2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy. add 5 large eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg.
add 3 ounces of melted bittersweet Trader Joe’s Belgian and blend well.
whisk together 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. of baking powder, 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. of salt.
mix well 3/4 cups of hot strong (or espresso)freshly brewed coffee, 1 tbsp. of instant espresso powder, 1/4 cup of Kahlua (coffee liqueur) and 1 tbsp. of pure vanilla extract.
add flour in thirds to egg and butter/sugar mixture, alternately with thirds of coffee mixture. mix only until homogeneous.
bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean but top is still soft.
cool cake 15 minutes on wire rack. invert into serving plate, cool completely, then
drizzle with powdered sugar.

a nice cake to welcome the young family next door, with a few slices; the rest to reward my little kittens with, for good behavior…

a foodie’s song

michael franks;
joe sample on keyboards and larry carlton on electric guitar

whenever I explore the land of yin
i always take one on the chin
and now this lioness has almost made me tame
I can’t pronounce her name but eggplant is her game

the lady sticks to me like white on rice
she never cooks the same way twice-
maybe it’s the mushrooms
maybe the tomatoes
i can’t reveal her name but eggplant is her game

when my baby cooks her eggplant,
she don’t read no book.
she’s got a Gioconda kinda of dirty look

And my baby cooks her eggplant,
about 19 different ways
but sometimes I just have it raw
with mayonnaise

maybe its the way she grates her cheese,
or just the freckles on her knees
maybe it’s the scallions
maybe she’s Italian
i can’t reveal her name but eggplant is her game.

the art of tea, 1975

ice house

we’ve ventured out from the polar bear den for some air. ahhhh. it was 37F, almost balmy. for these parts anyway. husband took us out to lunch for some elementally satisfying pho bo (Vietnamese beef and rice noodles) and cha gio (spring rolls) and #2 son exclaimed that he felt very little, due to the huge snow banks all around us. it really looked like another planet, a dirty grimy snowy planet. the public works tractors are out dumping snow into trucks to lug into “snow farms,” far away from water sources, so that cars may have safer passage…
and this is what happens to the harbor after weeks of below 0 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures….yes, that used to be the ocean blue. now it looks like a National Geographic documentary where you wait to view a cute polar bear family lumber past….

boston harbor??

meanwhile as i miss my new friend beng who is currently soaking up a lot of sunshine in a tropical island…i looked up her elegant (& very well-organized!) collection of recipes at aromatic blend…can’t wait to try her sausage rolls. as soon as i shake off this sleepy hypothermia-hibernation-sluggish-slothlike mode i will make them.

further adventures with an old minivan. off to the repair shop it goes. hope to see you again soon old dear.
a very sad and sorry sight indeed….

sometimes i cruise up and down the food aisles of the Asian market just looking at the array, reading labels and trying to decipher what the exotic sauces and marinades could be used for. this one from Malaysia caught my eye and i bought it because it reminded me of the peppercorn bush near the fence of our old home in Diliman (which is now a restaurant)… the ingredients listed “sugar, black pepper, garlic, vegetable oil, tomato paste, soy bean paste, wheat flour, salt, oyster extract, caramel, soy extract, food acid, modified starch, natural spices and flavor enhancer.”
it was a quick and easy meal to prepare. a lifesaver for this weird wintry week.

i marinated a pound of sirloin steak strips overnight and set them under the broiler…they were flavorful, spicy, full-bodied…the children enjoyed them immensely over hot rice.

beef with black pepper sauce

what a week it has been.
my kids are really grand people you know? i’m so proud of them. they’ve been quite stoical, being stuck here at home with ME, with no car, no roads to ride on that are safe, and just plain old enduring the dreary COLD.
my #1 son who was supposed to have midterm exams all week, has perfected his bass playing techniques. daughter has rediscovered the “joy” of playing with her 5 year old “pesky” little brother (she’s 10 and prone to daydreaming, lately just into games with her girly friends and their American girl dolls), and the little boy has concocted intricate battle scenes with his little toy soldiers. they get together sporadically to tease and heckle each other (under my watchful refereeing of course–no physical stuff, no verbal abuse allowed!).
dare i say we’ve bonded even more? tacky glue tight?

literally reaching into the depths of the bottom freezer, i would like to tout this product from New Zealand called “greenshell mussels.” sold in boxes in the freezer case, next to the sea cucumbers and packs of squid heads/tentacles…of course it is no comparison to the fresh mussels from Cavite or Orani but in these parts…simply thawed and steamed briefly and served with the fancy-schmancy-ly named mignonette sauce –a dip(sawsawan) of white wine vinegar, shallots/red onions, salt, generous lashings of black pepper and a sneaky bird chili (siling labuyo)…
it was heavenly.

more of the frozen white stuff

metaphysical questions of the day: where are we going to dump all this snow? how will i jump into the shower? hmmmm.

making it easy on myself, though i must say i am so proud of the kittens who are holding up well despite the third day of being snowbound. maybe they’re losing their appetites? last night we tried to cheer them up by buying their favorite pizza from the joint down the street run by these young enterprising Greek guys.
today i thawed the frozen unagi kabayaki, broiled seasoned eel, cooked some short grain California rice, toasted a sheet of “nori” seaweed, and scooped out some kimchee. searched for some extra eel seasoning sauce…and there it was, a nice change from the stews and soups we’ve been having.

beef stew, Japanese flavor

i raided Hiroko Shimbo’s Japanese Kitchen and made a beef and potatoes stew based on her recipe.
cut a 3-lb piece of beef brisket (it seems like a lot but the beef shrinks and well, it’s cold, and our appetites are sharper) into 2-inch cubes and splash about 2 tbsps. of Yamasa or Kikkoman soy sauce. toss to coat completely and cover with foil.
peel and cut 2 lbs. of russet or Idaho potatoes into quarters, pan fry and drain on paper towels. set aside.
extract 1 tbsp. of ginger juice using a grater or a garlic smasher, or mortar and pestle, squeezing the ginger well.

brown the beef in hot vegetable oil in several batches, making sure the cubes don’t crowd each other, just enough to brown all over.

put the browned beef into a pot with a tight fitting lid (or pressure-cooker) and pour 1 & 1/2 cups of sake and enough cold water to cover beef by 1 inch. pour the marinade, if any, into the pot as well. simmer about 1 hour and a half, or pressure cook for 35 minutes, or until beef is tender. add 2 tbsps. of sugar and simmer 5 minutes more. add 1/4 cup of soy sauce and stir in the potatoes and 1/2 cup of baby or chunky cut carrots and simmer another 10 minutes.

at the end of cooking time, add the ginger juice and give a quick stir. add a tablespoon of potato or corn starch, stirring quickly to thicken the sauce.

serve hot, over rice.

skies are blue again, the sun is glaringly bright on the snow-white (6-foot? high) drifts…i don’t remember it ever being this cold AND snowy, ever, in the 17 years i’ve lived here in this state. the schools called off both Monday and Tuesday, yesterday. that’s unheard of. (kittens were jumping up and down in rapture. #1son has midterm exams all week so he’s grinning, Cheshire cat style.) it’s too cold to play outside so thankfully my kittens are entertaining themselves at home (the tv is off too! how unbelievable is that?). we’ve had our anxiously awaited oil delivery which was delayed by the high demand and blizzard conditions. (we were hovering near empty.) we’ve bundled up our papa and sent him out of the cabin to hunt and gather…it feels like a scene from laura ingalls wilder’s “little house on the prairie,” doesn’t it? a little bit?
our back door neighbors have a tractor moving the snow around and the mailwoman even arrived.
we’re going to be OK.

what street where??