Monthly Archives: February 2005

a day out

we received a Christmas gift certificate from husband’s supervisor at work to the cavernous, noisy, crowded –it was midweek lunch even!– (though it must be because of the winter break for the local kids) tsiskeyk factory (quesocake?–so sorry, i don’t want this to appear in any searches). #2 son said it looked like the casino buffet at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT…and he’s right. this one’s located in a vertical mall at the Cambridgeside Galleria, Cambridge.

…where i had my first mojito. too sweet!!! even for me. i had to ask the server to fetch more and more lime wedges. i think i’ll try these at home (white rum, lime juice, copious ice chips, mint sprigs).
the entrees we had were big on production, supersized, but sad to say, not tasty. daughter’s steak, with a mountain of mashed unpeeled red potatoes, was too over seasoned. poor dear tried, but she didn’t like it. #2 son happily worked on his four cheese pasta and kept stealing from his big sister’s thinly sliced onion rings…
husband’s entree of cajun spiced shrimp over tri color pasta was disappointingly overpowered by basil pesto. i ordered a caesar’s salad; the dressing was obviously made on site, appropriately tangy with parmesan, garlic and anchovies but. a mountain of it? for one person?
these two appetizers were what i liked the best:
i was intrigued by the nori wrapped ahi tuna appetizer, having seen it on the internet menu the night before, but when it came time to order it i couldn’t locate it in the telephone book size menu …good thing server was well-versed and knew exactly what i meant. it was…different, strange, a newfangled fusion dish perhaps? deep fried sashimi basically but with a refreshingly spicy ginger dip.

#2 son enjoyed the spicy chicken taquitos, slivers of chicken breast encased in chili sauce then deepfried, drizzled with sour cream and guacamole, on a bed of lettuce with scoops of tomato salsa, more guacamole and sour cream.

heehee, am no critic, i really love to eat! but. sometimes the fun is just in being able to bundle up the children and get up and go out. anyone who has kids understands what i mean…no spillage, no tantrums, a nice relaxing meal. (#1 son the teenager could not be budged out of the house! hmph.)

“peking noodles”

another fond memory, mine this time. my ate (older sista) used to treat me to lunch at “sing ya toppings” in SM North edsa, Quezon City, decades ago when she was a single new lawyer, and i was a poor social worker descending from the mountains of Bataan to replenish supplies and spirit…even after we got married and had our babies and i’d come home from Boston for a visit she’d still drive me there and take me for a nice haircut…and always this.
pekingnoodle 006
i’ve since found a grand spicy authentic version at mary chung’s in cambridge, ma. (massachusettes avenue, bordering central square).
easy to make and child friendly if you don’t add the chili oil.

1 lb. of fresh white flour noodles (Twin Marquis brand), available in the chiller section of most asian groceries (substitute spaghettini)
1 lb. of ground lean beef or veal
1 tbsp. of minced garlic
1 tbsp. of thinly sliced ginger (so kids can pick them out if they don’t like it)
2 tbsp. of light soy sauce
2 tbsp. of hoisin sauce
3 cups of hot chicken stock
1 tsp. of sesame oil
1/2 tsp. of chili oil (optional)
1 cup of bean sprouts, blanched
1 cup of julienned English cucumber
1/4 cup of julienned scallions
2 tsps. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp. of water

boil and cook noodles according to directions (3-4 minutes) retaining some chewiness.
in a large bowl mix soy sauce, hoisin, and broth and stir until well-blended.
heat peanut oil, stir fry garlic and ginger until fragrant. add ground meat and brown. stir in hoisin mixture and let simmer for about 15 minutes until slightly reduced. thicken with cornstarch solution. (sprinkle with chili oil if using.)
to serve, ladle over noodles and top with cucumber, bean sprouts, and scallions.

a boy’s fond food memory from Hong Kong

pork skin and fishball in curry sauce

husband has been craving this since i can’t remember when. he orders it from almost every dimsum cart we encounter, and we’ve seen it sold on the sidewalks of Chinatowns all over.
apparently when he was very young he roamed around Kowloon and took the ferry at will, alone or with his group of buddies. (told him not to tell the kittens this nugget of boyhood recollections). and he enjoyed the street snacks.
so husband decided to try to duplicate this food memory here at home.
it involves some sneaky shopping–the dried pork skin is hard to find and packaged looking like a flat sheet of dried up bubble packing material, and it’s labeled as “fish maw.” i’m afraid to ask why. the sheets are then soaked in water all day.
then he had to open up this jar of curry sauce.

he boiled the rehydrated pork skin with the sauce, water, chopped onions, thickly sliced daikon radish, and fish balls. he said that next time he would add the radish at the last minute so it wouldn’t disintegrate into the liquid.
yes, there will be a next time. it was delectable. #2 son, a great fan of fish balls and spicy XO flavored ramen noodles, couldn’t get enough. it felt sinful to eat the chewy pork skin but it was good over hot rice. straight up for husband.

the backyardigans

not food related (they eat healthy though).
this winter we have been stuck at home a lot, and trying not to watch too much tv is a bit of a challenge. but #2 son and i discovered this great new kids’ show…
the backyardigans: great music,with choreography!, funny stories, believable (!) cuddly cute but not saccharin sick characters who eat healthy snacks… today my son was grinning beatifically the whole time because the episode was about vikings. i have to find dvd’s or “tivo” it or whatever it is. i want more! (shown on the east coast daily 11 a.m. on nick jr.)

(l-r) tyrone, tasha, pablo(our favorite), uniqua, and austin.

steamed golden syrup spongecake

from Gourmet magazine’s “all about london” issue, march 2005.

there’s a scene from the animated version of Raymond Briggs’ “father christmas”: this irascible santa is home from his grueling night, and he is setting a steamed pudding, wrapped up with cloth, on the stove top . i’ve been intrigued by it since, and did try a christmas one heavy with nuts and fruits and brandy. it was really delicious but quite rich and strong flavored. when i saw this recipe yesterday i just had to try it. like today. braving the snow and ice and cold trudging down the lane…ooops. wrong scene. i hunted down the lyle’s golden syrup in the international foods section and made this for today’s dessert (sssh. husband’s experimenting with his fishball/pork skin curry saute…we’ll see how it turns out.)
the recipe is here.

after an hour and a half of steaming, let “pudding” stand for 5 minutes…

…then invert into a serving plate. looks a bit like…”friar tuck’s” head. the bald spot is from a stuck patch of Lyle’s golden pudding. next time i’m adding more syrup to the bottom of the dish so that it will cascade down the sides of the cake.
slice into wedges and drizzle heavy cream on top.

it was heavenly: creamy, not too sweet and greatly complemented by the golden syrup.
chef celia of english patis has a scrumptious chocolate version.

deep -fried oysters

we had a jam bottle full of left over dashi-based dipping sauce from the fried tofu.
i thought we’d try it with deep-fried oysters, one of our favorite appetizers. dry carefully the drained shucked oysters in paper-lined racks. i put another towel on top as the excess liquid dripped away. i dipped them the same way, first in beaten egg and then in panko bread crumbs, and then fried them in very hot oil for a very quick 1 minute.
serve hot, with lemon or lime wedges.

the quest continues

lolo A. went to friday mass at baclaran church faithfully until the day he fell ill from leukemia and was taken from us. he was not a devout catholic but he had made a pledge to his mother on her deathbed. he was a man of rituals and habits in every other way though…and one of the most endearing was the egg pie he would pick up for lola, sometimes just a slice, once in a while a whole box. for one so eccentric and dreamy, often absent minded, she worried how he would make it back home without falling asleep on the jeep; one time his wallet was stolen and he walked home, all the way to kamuning…but there was always the egg pie.
he must have had a standing account at that bakeshop. my lola never ate the pie (she was already watching her sugar intake). but lucky the grandchild who found it in the fridge. more often than not…me.
i’ve been trying to make this pie to duplicate this precious taste memory, and this is very close but…still not quite it. this one is very similar in taste and texture to “don taht,” the mini custards served in dimsum houses…lolo’s egg pie was firmer, yellower, with a distinctive brown top.
the quest continues

“old fashioned english custard tart” recipe from Delia Smith’s “How to Cook.” (the brown specks, freshly grated nutmeg). my favorite taste testers pronounced it good…back to the drawing board for me.

adapted fr delia smith’s “how to cook.”
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brownies with a buzz…

no not the illicit kind!

espresso brownies, from Mrs. Fields once again. these are fudgy and rich with chocolate and instant espresso powder. husband asked me to make them for “black history month” luncheon at work. (it was supposed to be a flan, but didn’t have all the ingredients and not enough eggs in the fridge…)
preheat oven to 325F. grease an 8-in square baking pan.
whisk together 2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. set aside.
in a large bowl blend 1 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. add 1 cup softened butter and mix well.
melt 2 oz. baking unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler. meanwhile in a small bowl dissolve 1 tbsp. instant espresso powder in 1 tbsp. of boiling hot water.
add chocolate and coffee to the sugar-butter mixture. beat until smooth. add 2 large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. add 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract and 1 tsp. almond extract. scrape down sides of bowl. add flour mixture and 1 cup chocolate chips, blend just until combined. do not overbeat.
pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until toothpick/tester comes out clean. cool in pan 15 minutes. invert on to a rack.

make the glaze: melt together 3 ozs. of semi sweet chocolate and 1/3 cup butter in a double boiler over simmering water. stir until smooth. spread glaze over brownies and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sliced almonds. cool completely before cutting into squares.
this is guaranteed to make your heart race…

“agedashi tofu”

i haven’t made this in years. santos’ post on deep fried tofu with a miso-vinegar dip tripped up the memory which made me dig up my old notebook from singledom. i used to just dip the firm drained tofu in flour, but santos dipped hers in egg and panko before dip frying. i made the children’s favorite dipping sauce from instant soup and sauce base: 1/2 cup “kikkoman hon tsuyu,” 1 cup water, 2 tbsps. mirin, 2 tbsps. Japanese soy warmed up to a simmer and then thickened with 2 tsps. potato starch dissolved in 1 tbsp. water.

draining firm tofu: set over a rack that’s covered with a paper towel, weigh down with a plate.
cut tofu blocks horizontally, dip in beaten egg and in panko bread crumbs. deep fry in hot (350F) oil for about 3-4 minutes or until golden.
drain in paper towel-lined plate.
serve with minced scallions and grated daikon radish.

an easy tasty lunch item for our first day of winter break….thank you santos!