Monthly Archives: June 2005

a shiok! chicken

it was a bit too sweet for me but perfect for the kids. it was demolished fairly quickly…
i changed the method from the book by Terry Tan and Christopher Tan because i used “variety pack” chicken–all dark meat of course–instead of the skinless boneless thighs called for.

spicy-sour stir fried chicken
ayam tempra, or spicy-sour stir-fried chicken

3 thighs, 3 legs, 3 wings (about a pound and a half) of chicken

3 cloves of garlic sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed cut diagonally, pounded
1 tsp. shrimp paste (blachan)
3 tablespoons ketjap manis (thick soy sauce), or dark soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoon crushed palm sugar

in a mortar and pestle mix and mash all marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. let sit at least an hour. (reserve marinade for the stir fry.)

heat 2 tbsps. vegetable oil over medium high heat. saute 2 cloves of garlic, 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and quartered, 1 trimmed stalk lemongrass, cut diagonally & pounded, 1 sliced long green chili pepper, and 1 sliced bird chili, until fragrant.
add chicken pieces and stir fry until chicken is well browned. pour in the marinade and 1/2 cup chicken broth. stir continuously, adding more broth or water a little at a time if it gets too dry. you should have enough to coat the chicken well…it makes for luscious finger licking too. cook until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes.
pour in 3 tbsps. fresh lime juice and sliced Kaffir lime leaves (middle rib cut, leaves snipped finely) and salt to taste. stir well and remove from heat.
serve with plenty of hot jasmine rice. and lots of table napkins.

(if using boneless chicken thighs or breast meat, cooking time is cut drastically and you may not need the broth-water step.)

is my blog burning #16: eggs!

IMBB #16:eggs!

viv of seattle bon vivant is the gracious host of this month’s EGGy event…it’s no yolk, it is a lot of work to do the round up so thank you viv.
i knew right away what i’d post. this is a dessert that’s commonly served on special occasions in the Philippines, especially during the Christmas season. it is no doubt of Spanish origin, though i’ve not found it in either of my 2 Spanish cookbooks. it is a deconstructed version of the brazo de Mercedes, which i already knew my children loved even though i feel like i haven’t perfected it yet… i decided to make the delicate, ethereal canonigo–a meringue cake with custard sauce–you can make in a bundt or tube pan (the one-piece kind, not the one with a removable bottom because it has to bake in a hot water bath) so they’d think it’s a bit of a change. :)caramelize 1 & 1/2 cups sugar with 1/2 cup water (mix sugar and water constantly over medium heat until sugar dissolves; bring to a boil without stirring and hover over the pan till you see it golden brown and thick). immediately pour into warmed bundt pan making sure to coat all surfaces well. allow to cool and grease lightly with butter.
for the bundt cake: preheat oven to 350F. prepare the bain mairie–hot water bath–have ready a pan big enough to hold the bundt pan [almost in a panic before i spotted my paella pan! whew!] and pour enough warm water to come up to half the bundt pan.
paella pan to the rescue

in an electric mixer, using a metal bowl, whip 8 egg whites till frothy, and gradually add 1/2 cup fine granulated sugar and 1 tsp baking powder and beat until stiff. pour into prepared bundt pan. cut into the meringue batter with a spatula knife to eliminate huge air bubbles and tap the pan on the kitchen counter top.
bake for 35 minutes. cake is done when it is not jiggly and a long seafood pick or toothpick comes out clean and dry. let cool 5 minutes then tip over to a serving platter. be careful as the caramel will be quite hot as it cascades over the meringue cake.
while cake is baking, prepare the custard sauce:
in a bowl set over a double boiler combine 8 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 can of evaporated milk, whisking well until sugar dissolves. whisk constantly over the gently simmering water until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. add 1/4 cup rum (i used only 2 teaspoons as this is a PG kind of cake) and 1 tsp. vanilla. (substitute 3 tbsps. orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier for adults only version).


grilled lobster

with pesto butter or anchovy butter

in the previous post i featured poor babyrambutan’s lobster, monkfish, but in reality it is really nowadays poor b.r.’s monkfish, lobster, the latter costing $2 less as of this moment in the grocery store where the lobsters are on special, the lowest they’ve cost all winter and spring and now summer.
so of course i had to catch me some. i even taught the clueless young clerk guy how to tell the males from the females (the first pair of swimmerets are soft and thin on a female, sharp and saber-like on a male). i like the females for the coral roe, some others prefer the male for the meatier and sweeter flesh.
i have no fear of “working” with a live lobster and splitting it right down the middle but my kittens were hovering in the kitchen so i resorted to the boiling method first. didn’t want to traumatize them and put their sweet mommy in a whole new light heehee.

in a pot large enough to hold the lobsters bring water to a boil with sea salt, then plunge lobsters head first in and put on its tight fitting lid. start timing when it comes back up to a rolling boil and turn down to a simmer (5 minutes for the first pound, 3 minutes for each additional pound).
remove from heat and set in a platter to cool.

prepare anchovy butter.
mix together:
8 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
6-8 anchovy fillets from a freshly opened can, snipped up
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
juice from one half of a lemon
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste (anchovies are salty so be careful)

mash and bash everything together or process briefly in Cuisinart or blender.
tip over to a sheet of cling wrap/plastic wrap and form into a log, and chill until firm. (recipe from julia and jacques cooking at home)

split the lobsters down the middle into halves.
preheat the broiler or light up your charcoal grill.
dot the anchovy butter (alternatively, softened butter plus a bit of pesto if you don’t like anchovies) over the length of the lobsters.
grill for about 3 minutes under the broiler or on top of the grill until butter is melted and shells are slightly browned.

serve with lemon slices and snippets of dill or fresh basil leaves. YUM.

a monkfish tale

gigot of monkfish romarin with anchovies, and tomato vinaigrette

i’ve been longing to make this dish since i first saw the two fat ladies many years ago on the food network.
but the odds of snagging a monkfish tail in this neck of the woods are as long as the lottery odds….so when i spotted a few of them at the upscale market in the ritzy town quite a bit of a drive away, i immediately grabbed them. i think the fisherpeople must be delivering them straight to the restaurants these days.
Andreas Viestad showed a live freshly caught monkfish on his Norwegian tourist board cooking show…and one immediately understands why it took so long for anyone to figure out that they were delicious to eat. it looks like it’s all mouth with nasty jagged teeth.
“ankoh” teppanyaki table-top grilled, Japanese style, served with grated radish and wasabi, would be my next dream dish if i catch any more. i have yet to taste monkfish liver too…*sigh*
but the meat itself is…dare i say it?….lobster-like. it cooks up white and firm, not flaky, and it was called “poor man’s lobster” but now it costs even more per pound. shall we call lobster “poor man’s monkfish” then?
Clarissa Dickson-Wright says in the book “cooking with the two fat ladies” that this is a Scots dish.
my husband took a bite and said, “isn’t this the way you cook your lamb chops?” i think i’ve trained him well.

sprinkle the tails with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. marinate in smashed garlic cloves, lemon juice and olive oil at least an hour, turning once or twice.
preheat oven to 350F.
make crosswise slits on the tails, just deep enough to tuck in anchovy fillets.
in an oven proof dish, scatter as much rosemary as you like, place monkfish on top, sprinkle the garlic from the marinade, and the olive oil (plus extra to moisten the rosemary completely).
roast for 45 minutes. remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes, then pour tomato vinaigrette over.

for the tomato vinaigrette:
4 tsps. sherry wine vinegar
2 tbsps. finely diced tomatoes
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

mix ingredients in a small saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring.
season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

tod man

fish and shrimp cakes, Thai style

another recipe i learned while sitting in front of the tv with my newborn first baby. we didn’t have cable then so it was the local public television station, WGBH. it seemed so easy! and i could make so much more for the price of a take out order!
the wild lime leaves are widely available in Asian grocers here and really, there is no substitute for the strong floral note it lends to dishes…lime zest is a wimpy stand-in. i recommend grabbing a pack if you ever see one and store in the freezer.

wild lime leaves

recipe from “The Frugal Gourmet.”

3/4 lb. chopped peeled deveined shrimp
1/2 lb. ground fish fillets (i used bluefish, it was the freshest looking one in the bunch, but you can use other firm fleshed fish like snapper, sea bass, etc..)
3 stalks of yard long beans, sliced thinly
2 eggs
2 tbsps. cornstarch
fish sauce, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 leaves of wild “Kaffir” lime, cut down the middle, spine removed and snipped very finely, or 1 tsp. lime zest
1 tbsp. red curry paste (i used Maesri brand).

mix all ingredients. drop by the rounded tablespoonful into very hot oil (preheated to 350F) and deep fry about 4 minutes total, allowing the oil to heat up before adding each scoop.
drain on paper towels and serve with cucumber-red onion pickles or the following dip:

green chili dipping sauce:
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 long green chili, seeds and veins removed and sliced thinly
2 bird chilis, if you can take them, seeded, finely sliced
2 tbsps. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. grated palm sugar or brown sugar
2 tbsps. fish sauce

mix together until sugar dissolves. add more or less of above ingredients, according to your taste.

sugar high friday #9 : tarts

this is the tart i’d make if you asked me to make a tart.
this is a sugar high friday event, but our host jarrett of life in flow has kindly announced a savory tart permissible as long as it’s a prelude to a sweet.
i thought i’d make the late great Pierre Franey’s vegetable tart from “Pierre Franey Cooks with his Friends.” it beckoned to me from the cover of the last compilation of his recipes. the tart is from the chapter with his fellow Burgundian Marc Meneau. it seemed a great new way to get my kids to eat vegetables and at the same time make use of summer’s bounty and the herbs from my garden. you may substitute other vegetables or herbs and sprinkle cumin or ground coriander. i omitted the spices to increase the chance of my children having a bite. they loved it, especially the pastry that had absorbed the vegetables’ juices.
when they saw it on the table they proclaimed, “hey mom! is that the same idea as a Chinese fried noodle basket?” well, what do you know, they’re right.

vegetable tart
1 12-oz. sheet of store-bought fresh or frozen puff pastry
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. of finely minced garlic
1 cup of sliced carrots
1 cup of sliced zucchini
4 small white onions
8 sprigs of chives cut into 3-inch lengths
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 pound baby portobella mushrooms
8 sprigs of fresh chervil
1/4 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
1/4 cup water or broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper

preheat the oven to 375F.
place the puff pastry in a lightly buttered 10-inch tart or quiche pan, making sure to line the sides as well.
place a sheet of aluminum foil over the bottom and cover with pie weights or dried beans. bake for about 15 minutes or until sides are lightly browned. remove the beans and aluminum foil and bake for another 5 minutes, until the bottom is brown. remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

trim and cut the carrots, zucchini and asparagus to be about the same size/lengths.
heat the oil and butter in large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. add half the chives and garlic and saute briefly, stirring. add the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes. add the carrots, zucchini, asparagus, and onions. add about 1/4 cup water or broth, the cumin if using, half the chervil and salt and pepper. cover tightly, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until crisp-tender.
place in the tart shell and return to the oven for 5 minutes. garnish with the remaining chervil and serve immediately.

the sweet tart is from “chocolate,” the What’s Cooking Series, recipes by Jacqueline Bellefontaine.
my husband had tasted a brownie topped with pears in syrup served at a graduation party and that gave me the idea of making a tart with chocolate and fruit. not with pears, because my children prefer them fresh and crisp. i used a jar of the sweet-tart dark morello cherries that went well with the chocolate and almond flavors. i’ll give the canned pears a chance another time.

chocolate cherry almond tart, with warm chocolate sauce

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup butter, chilled
about 3 tbsps. ice water

2 cups dark morello cherries in syrup, drained well, patted dry
4 tbsps. butter, room temperature
4 tbsps. superfine sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup ground almonds
2 tbsps. unsweetened Dutch cocoa
1/4 tsp. amaretto or a few drops of almond extract

lightly grease an 8-inch quiche or tart pan with butter. sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the almonds. blend in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. add water 1 tbsp. at a time, just enough to mix to a soft dough. flatten to a disk, wrap in cling film/plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes, then roll out and use to line the pan. prick the base all over with a fork and chill.

for the filling, preheat the oven to 400F. cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. beat in the eggs. fold in the almonds, unsweetened cocoa, and liqueur/extract. spread the chocolate mixture in the pieshell and arrange the cherries on top, pressing down lightly. bake in the center of preheated oven for 30 minutes. on until the filling has risen. cool slightly.

chocolate sauce:
place 4 tbsp. sugar, 3 tbsp. golden syrup, and 1/3 cup water in a pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. boil gently for 1 minute. remove the pan from the heat, add 6 oz. broken-up dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate, and 2 tbsps. butter and stir until melted. serve with the tart.

pancit Bataan

pancit ng Orani, Bataan (one of husband’s favorite Filipino dishes)

i have posted this before but i wanted to show Beng the pancit from my lola’s hometown, Orani, famous for its seafood and patis (fish sauce) and arrowroot cookies (araro).
it is made with extra thick rice noodles and palabok sauce (fried garlic, shallots, shrimp head extract) and large quantities of seafood (shrimp and/or flaked crabmeat) and tinapa (smoked milkfish/bangus). here i used canned smoked mussels (couldn’t find smoked bangus boohoo) , sliced salted egg, scallions, and ground chicharon (fried pork rinds). my lola used to add sliced camias (bilimbi fruit) for tartness; she told me finely sliced green mangoes or pajo would work too. serve with calamansi or lime wedges and fish sauce. just like how anna banana takes it.

kangkong blachan

i didn’t eat vegetables as a child. a stubborn child.
but when i started eating them i loved crunchy kangkong in any fashion: adobo, in sinigang, or just steamed simply. when i found greenhouse grown kangkong water spinach, water convolvulus, at the Asian market, vivid green and no grit or mud i decided to try it in a new recipe, and am quite pleased to announce, the whole family ate it.
*sigh of relief.* #2son just requested less chili (told him, take a mouthful of rice sonnyboy! it’s good! but he was unconvinced).
the original recipes called for dried shrimp and even more chilis. (i only had dried scallops but it turned out very well).

kangkong blachan from Shiok! by Terry Tan and Christopher Tan
9 oz. kangkong
1 tbsp. shrimp paste
2 tbsps. dried scallops, soaked for at least 3 hours, drained
2 red chilis
4 cloves garlic
4 tbsps. oil
2/3 cup water

cut off and discard 1 inch from kangkong root ends. slice stalks into 3-inch lengths, then rinse very well in a basin of cold water to remove any grit.
grind shrimp paste with dried scallops, chilies and garlic until fine (i used my mortar and pestle). heat oil in a wok over medium high heat and fry paste vigorously for 3-4 minutes until fragrant.
add kangkong and stir fry to 2 minutes, then add water and stir 1 minute more. serve immediately.

shrimp paste

my frying amnesia

vegetable mix for lumpia*


i was so traumatized by my last attempt at cooking lumpiang prito (egg rolls, spring rolls, poh pia). a disaster. the contents spilled out into the oil, the wrappers unfurled, a soggy inedible mess. for an obsessive cook with multiple clientele–hee hee–it was a new low.
but. daughter kept badgering me with her sweet round eyes, “mama, please???” that i had to give it another try.
so it became like a new cooking lesson. i have to remember what to do. i’m getting forgetful.

tips for preventing another lumpia disaster:
keep vegetables just almost cooked.
keep the mixture cool and drain the cooking liquid before wrapping. (i scooped the vegetables into a large sieve/ strainer on the wok before rolling them up in the spring roll pastry wraps.)
follow the instructions on thawing the wrappers, if using the frozen kind. (sounds simple right? in general, remove from freezer only 30 minutes before rolling. i had been getting arrogant and not reading! aargh, for shame for shame!)
after wrapping, place rolls in one layer on a wax-paper-lined flat cookie sheet or freezer-proof platter, and put in the freezer until ready to fry.
get the oil hot. 350F for deep frying, meaning frying in oil deep enough for the lumpia to float. allow the oil to get hot again before adding in more.
do not crowd the lumpia (lest they get mad at you and hurl out their contents).
and it only takes about 3 minutes so they don’t soak up the oil.
remove with a wire spatula or bamboo net strainer, letting excess oil drip out and then place on a paper towel or brown paper-lined platter.

serve with garlic chili vinegar dip, seasoned with salt and pepper, humbly.

*vegetable mix:
1/4 pound of pork belly, skin removed, cubed
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 small red or white onion
1/4 pound of shrimp, shelled, deveined, chopped
combination of thinly sliced vegetables:
snow pea pods
bean sprouts (sprinkle with salt, let stand in strainer so it exudes excess water)
drained firm tofu cubes

saute pork in small amount of peanut oil until browned. add a cup of water and let boil until tender, adding more water as needed.
when water has evaporated and pork is tender add garlic and brown. add onions and cook until softened. add shrimp and cook until pink. add carrots, celery and snow pea pods and stir fry for 1 minute. pour in about 1/2 cup of water and a tbsp. of oyster sauce and a splash of soy. add cabbage, tofu and bean sprouts. mix well and turn off the heat. season with salt and pepper. they will be undercooked at this point but they will be well done in the deep fryer.
let cool completely and drain off liquid.

i also put in sliced boiled eggs in some of the lumpia rolls.

(other options: rehydrated tree ear fungus, bamboo shoots, thinly sliced jicama “singkamas”, Japanese sweet potatoes, garbanzos)

“chicken parm”

yes, i’m still cooking and feeding the kids. it’s just that they’re creatures of habit, and it’s been hot as in dog day pant-pant-pant hot, and busy as well with their end of school activities. so i’ve been dishing up their favorite least-effort kinds of viands: rib roast, roast or steamed chicken, boiled beef dinner, sinigang, fried fish. you know, the kind that i put on the stove, leave, then when i come back, it’s done! so they’ve been having their old favorites.
my version of the Italian-American dish that my kittens love…”chicken parm” for parmesan took a bit more effort and gallons of sweat but it was well worth it all. i made this up as i went along and it turned out so much better than the store-bought frozen chicken patties husband is so fond of. it is usually breaded chicken breast meat served with pasta on the side and topped with sauce and cheese. i wanted to make it less rich and do away with the egg dip; and i wanted it to be very tasty hence the chicken thighs.

combine the following in a shallow glass bowl or pan:
6 boneless chicken thighs ( you may use lean pork or veal cutlets), pounded and flattened with a meat mallet
4 garlic cloves, smashed
fresh oregano and thyme sprigs and
basil leaves (from my little tiny garden!)
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
sea salt
a splash of Maggi liquid seasoning (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or enough to cover the chicken

mix well and cover with foil or cling film and marinate at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator.
scrape away the garlic and herbs and shake off the excess oil. dip in bread crumbs, making sure to coat every every nook and cranny of the meat.
warm up 2 tbsps. butter and 2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil in nonstick wide skillet, and brown the chicken cutlets over medium heat about 3-4 minutes per side. keep warm on a rack in a pre warmed oven about 250F as you brown the rest of the chicken.
serve with pasta tossed with marinara sauce and topped with parmesan and melted mozzarella.
(the kids also loved it in bread bun; you may add lettuce and mayonnaise and pickles as you wish.)