Monthly Archives: April 2005

love and affection send us off to a well-earned weekend. i still have heaps of laundry! it’s just that i can’t bear for the kids to re-use their clothes (jeans at least). i can’t let go of the idea that school is a virus buffet when they get home i make sure they wash their hands and change. the forecast is for a grey and rainy weekend so…that means time for housework??
i was searching for chocnut and curly tops at the Asian groceries here. no such luck, but i picked up these goodies from Japan and Switzerland. “Apollo” and “choco baby” were gambles that paid off…delicious, on the sweet side, chocolatey. Toblerone, well it’s a nostalgic thing: reminds me of Christmases in Manila when they seemed to suddenly sprout out in the stores and be gifted to ma and dad from their workplaces.

i was moved enough by the chocolate to sing a love song…to chocolate. and for my sweet friends.

“i am not in love
but i’m open to persuasion
east or west
where’s the best
for romancing
with a friend
i can smile
but with a lover
i could hold my head back
i could really laugh
really laugh
thank you
you took me dancing
‘cross the floor
cheek to cheek
but with a lover
i could really move
really move
i could really dance
really dance

i could really move
really move

now if i can feel the sun
in my eyes
and the rain on my face
why can’t i
feel love
i can really love
really love

now i got all
the friends that i want
i may need more
but i shall just stick to those
that i have got
with friends i still feel
so insecure
little darling i believe you could
help me a lot
just take my hand
and lead me where you will
no conversation
no wave goodnight
just make love
with affection
sing me another love song
but this time
with a little dedication
sing it, sing it
you know that’s what i like
once more with feeling
give me love


-joan armatrading, “love and affection”

i’m baaaack…
back to reality, back to routines and schedules. back to my mommybus as chauffeur.
a few weeks ago i read a post by sweet toni on how she wished to be there to make lunch boxes for her kids and it struck me. that’s me. c’est moi! it’s fun and cute and sweet. i make this little bento box style for my #2son everyday, because he starts school a little later than the older two, i have more time to make him a more thoughtful lunch. the other two have very definite tastes already, and they eat well and healthy (brainwashed at school too), but this youngest one i want to be able to shape more.
he doesn’t really need it–he’s a blue blooded foodie, dyed in the wool, genuine, “can i try that mom?” kind of guy. but they reach a certain age and there’s a danger of bowing to peer pressure. you know, chicken-nuggets-and-burgers-and-fries-only types might exert their influence. so i make him these kind of lunches….

monday he had 8 delights lo mein and the box came back empty! heehee.

ear shaped pasta with three peas

orecchiette pasta tossed in crisped bacon, sugar snap peas, pea shoots (my kids laugh everytime i say this, they can barely eat!), thawed frozen petite peas and parmesan. (spinach or watercress can be substituted for the pea shoots if they are not available.)
the recipe is here.
a dish that evokes springtime very well. but.
next time i make it i will brown some garlic in the bacon fat, with a few anchovy fillets and saute until the anchovies melt before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. i will also substitute basil for the mint just to add a bit more ooomph and vavavavoom to the dish.

tuna and cannellini salad, recipe from Delia Smith’s How to Cook

assemble just before serving.

make the spice paste: grind in a mortar 2 cloves garlic, 2 tsps. sea salt, 1 & 1/4 tsps. peppercorns, and 1/2 tsp. powdered mustard (such as Colman’s), until quite pasty.
scrape into a jar w/ a lid and add 3 tbps. oil from tuna, 3 tbsps. lemon juice, lemon zest from 1 lemon, & 3 tbsps. olive oil. shut tightly and shake. (can be made a day ahead.)

warm up 2 15-oz. cans of cannellini (white kidney beans) in a saucepan. drain and add 2 cans of drained tuna in oil (i used Pastene brand)–oil reserved for the dressing. mix well and arrange over a bed of rocket (arugula)* or green leaf lettuce. pour well -shaken dressing over and garnish with thinly sliced red onions.

i love this salad because of the assertive flavors of garlic, mustard, tuna, pepper…but i guess it is anathema to anyone who hates any of those above, as many of my husband’s family are…*sigh*sigh*sigh*. more for me i guess…

*whoa! my first time to try rocket and i was quite surprised at how pungent it was. dear friends, please let me know if this is ‘normal’ or maybe i just happened upon a bad bunch…i don’t like adding to my list of “can’t eat” because i pride myself on eating most things! my can’t eat list right now only consists of sea urchin roe.

clockwise: honey mustard wings, seafood (squid, shrimp and scallop) with vegetables, beef in oyster sauce, yang chow fried rice, roast cuttlefish, scallion chicken, 8 delight lo mein, shrimp lo mein, roast duck, char siu, carrot and cucumber platter w/ TGIF spinach-artichoke dip. center: tuna and cannellini with lemon pepper dressing.

#1son’s party with the clan…he said it would be his last big cake and candle and presents party, which made me sniffle a bit. he’s trying to be a grown up already??
we took a short cut and bought mostly take out from the Chinese grocery’s butchers (the line was long but the meats were fresh and hot!), and noodles, seafood and rice from the newish Chinese restaurant in town. i only made three “anti-Chinese-food” dishes–strictly in the sense of anti pasti, mind) : honey mustard wings, tuna and bean salad with lemon pepper dressing (tastes better than it sounds, promise!) and orecchiette pasta with three peas. both dishes were not too popular with the folks. *sigh* but i thought they were great. husby says it’s too novel for them. oh well.
i had to use up some canned chestnuts and thought i’d make a chestnut cake but i got cold feet and asked husband to buy a little ice cream cake for the kiddies…

recipes for the tuna and bean salad, orecchiette pasta and chestnut cake (chestnut genoise frosted with chestnut mousse cream with a filling of milk chocolate buttercream) to follow….

a little respite

the basin, kancamagus highway, new hampshire

a much needed getaway. we communed with mighty momma nature in the great white mountains. she formed this smooth granite “basin” with the force of churning melting snow water from the tops of the mountain caps. the water was fearsomely powerful. i held on to the little ones really tight despite the fencing all around.
mountains, birch, pine and maple trees. a few hours away from concrete, steel, traffic, grumpy pedestrians…

i was just a tad disappointed that it wasn’t a log cabin this time, though it did have a lovely fireplace and more than enough rooms. (off season for skiers, great bargains for non skiers.)
fireplace bug

when we came back there was a package at the door from the great mommy lola who sent her grandchildren the sweet treats that never fail to transport the kid-at-heart in me.
i know where to get the best Lindt, Droste, Tobler, Milka (at deep discounts!) …but my heart belongs to …
chocnut and curly tops….thanks ma.

grandfather’s birthday dinner

(marinated sliced jelly fish, roast chicken, roast pork, marinated boiled sliced beef)
from grandfather’s favorite restaurant in the heart of Chinatown.
we were the only group there that was not part of a wedding banquet–on that level there was a lion dance (which according to the family was NOT a traditional part of awedding party, but was probably provided to entertain the non-Chinese guests) and raucous toasts and karaoke from people who need some champagne to unleash their inhibitions…my kids and i laughed because at one point we heard someone squawking like when we accidentally step on murphy’s tail!
this is the only photo from 13 courses total, that i could take. so sorry. it was a table full of people (13 in our table), it took 3 hours from start to finish, and…i got too shy to take the camera out at each serving…(translation: too intent on eating.) by the time the birthday cake (Chinatown style, a sponge cake with cream and peaches as frosting, children’s favorite) was served, we were stuffed like turkeys.
from start to finish:
appetizer meat platter
stir fried scallops (sent back, it tasted awful and was replaced by seafood in nest)
stir fried prawns
seafood soup
lobster with ginger and scallion
braised mustard and black mushroom
fried whole chicken
beef in oyster sauce
stir fried sliced chicken
whole steamed fish with scallions
yee mien birthday noodles with chives
yang chow fried rice
red bean sweet soup

husband and siblings thought it was “too much”…but to see grandpa’s face so bright and smiley, i admonished husband to just enjoy the meal for his dad!

bday cake for my first babehlove…

i tried tita nigella’s recipe for cocoa fudge cake, which i “purloined” from emily’s baking beast. when it came time to measure out dry ingredients i got a bit apprehensive though…i decided to use more Droste cocoa (one packed and heaped tablespoon–Dutch processed cocoa with alkali–) than she called for–my chocolate cake experts put the fear in me, they might complain!, and added left over black coffee (about 1/4 cup) to the chilled water to total still the same amount of liquid ( 1 & 1/3 cup).

i also frosted with milk chocolate buttercream from “The Cake Bible” of Rose Levy Beranbaum: melt 16 ounces of milk chocolate and 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler (very low heat, and remove bowl when almost completely melted and let residual heat do the rest of the melting). whip 12 ounces of softened butter then add the melted cooled chocolate. this makes enough to frost an 8-in round two-layer cake.
the birthday boy er guy raved over it, as much as a 16 year old can rave (“what’s in the icing, mom?” “why what’s the matter?”–defensive mom– “nothing, it’s good…”)
the cake itself was moist, deep, and luscious.

my cool dude

chocolate almond macaroons


[husband has implored me to stop cooking! no, he is not tired of my cuisine, yet, but our refrigerator is bulging and bursting at the seams…but he didn’t say “no baking”… ;P]
the little German i know, i learned from the Professor Bhaer of Josephine March (“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott was required reading by my grandmother/lola)…liebling! liebchen! Gott in Himmel, bitte, nein!
hopefully i’ve spelled it out right but-just-can’t-say-it-for-sure, our present favorite German word.
i first had a taste of this nutty macaroon from a German mom, who wouldn’t part with the recipe…
this i found in a “Christmas in Germany” book we borrowed from the library (looking for an authentic gingerbread house recipe). it is a perfect mate to the madeleines to use up the egg whites. they’re quite plain looking, so you can dress them up with a drizzle of or a quick dip in melted chocolate, or fondant icing. but they’re delicious as is: dark, nutty, deep.

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups finely ground almonds
4 ozs. of unsweetened chocolate, finely grated
1 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, finely grated
3 tbsps. water
a heaping 1/4 tsp. of
ground Australian wattle seed,* optional (original recipe calls for cinnamon plus a dash each of nutmeg and all spice; my kids like none of these though)

preheat oven to 300F. line 2 cookie sheets with wax paper.
beat egg whites until stiff, adding sugar gradually just as egg whites start to gain volume.
fold in gently the almonds, chocolates, water, and spices, if using.
drop by teaspoonfuls into the cookie sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are set and dry.
let cool 2 minutes then carefully lift off of wax paper lined sheets.

store in air-tight container.
*i got intrigued when santos whipped up some magic with this at her food blog. it gives an unusual coffee/hazelnut/mild chocolate/vanilla scent. on the tiny little jar it says that it goes well with chocolate and nuts. amen. my kittens are sold on it.


when #1 son saw that the madeleine plaques,newly washed and rinsed, were spread out on the table, he shot me an extra loving look. (which is pretty incredible coming from an almost sweet-sixteen-NOT! boy…)
“mom, could it be… you’re making…madeleines?”
poor baby, i haven’t made these in years. when it was just him and me i made them for him pretty regularly. so i made it for them over the weekend…and they’re all incredibly…gone.
i tried another recipe this time, from Baking with Julia, edited by Dorie Greenspan, and based on the eponymous TV series with the beloved venerable chef and her guests.
i think i like the Craig Claiborne version from “The Best of the New York Times” cookbook, being softer and crumblier, but the sweeties loved them.

once the batter is mixed it must be baked right away to have a good and soft “crumb”.

preheat oven to 400F.

melt 4 tbsps. butter.
use 1 tbsp. to grease generously, and then flour every nook and cranny of the shell shaped plaques. tap out excess flour (i tap the plaque upside down against the padding of my hand over the sink).
measure out 2/3 cup sugar, scoop out 1 tbsp. for the flour mixture.
sift together 1 & 1/4 cups cake flour with 1 tbsp. of the sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt.

beat 4 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs with the rest of the sugar until light and lemony and the consistency of soft whipped cream. add 1 tsp. of vanilla during the last few minutes of whipping. add the flour in thirds, folding gently , by hand, only until flour disappears into the batter before adding the next batch.

mix in the remaining 3 tbps. of melted butter and fold gently until fully incorporated. do not over beat or the cookies become tough.
bake for about 10 minutes or until the tops are set, and there is a little “bump”. remove plaques from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 1 minute. carefully pry the cookies off the plaques with a gentle rocking motion, or use the sharp tip of a knife to pop them out. cool completely. sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar or serve with whipped cream if desired.


but by then my kids have waited long enough…