Monthly Archives: August 2005

rain on copley square
photo taken two weeks ago, this is how it still looks like around here.
*sigh* this photo looks too gloomy for this bright new space but i wanted you all to see what kind of week we’ve been having. although i do love summer rain–it reminds me of “home”–i do appreciate a spot of sunshine once in a while…
on that day we went for a dimsum treat at mary chung’s, a famous institution on central square, massachusetts avenue. it is a mandarin restaurant which means that dimsum offers no shrimp. northern chinese cuisine is mostly all about pork, cabbage, floury dumplings, noodles..and chilis. whatever seafood is river fish…but of course the entrees have to offer shrimp and scallops and fish cooked in the northern style.
we usually zero in on our favorites here. this time we were a bit late and dimsum hours were almost over but what we had was freshly made and luscious…peking ravioli, deep fried tofu in dan dan sauce, peking noodle (“chinese spaghetti” to husband when he was a young lad), salty tofu soup (w/ preserved vegetables, strips of nori seaweed), wonton soup, and dragon buns.
these are steamed pork balls encased in a thin wrapper with a surprise broth inside–it’s been known to squirt out as you pierce it with your chopstick! it is served with a ginger-soy-vinegar-and chili oil dip.
i was only able to take a few pictures, my family got sort of scowly faced and self-conscious as i aimed the camera…
dragon buns

mary chung restaurant
460 massachusetts avenue (617) 864-1991

*cash only

so for today’s rainy day i am doing an encore of a little snack i made for my kiddies which they are stuck on for a bit…
4 plantains, peeled, sliced lengthwise and cut into 3 inch sections
vegetable oil
1/4 dark brown sugar plus more according to your taste

heat the oil in a wok up to medium heat and add dark brown sugar and when it caramelizes, carefully add the plantains and turn constantly. sprinkle on more sugar if you like it syrupy.
you may also use light brown sugar for a lighter taste.

celebrating with blog-inspired dishes..

welcome to my new kitchen! babyrambutan is now blogging in this spanking bright brand new place.
a new toy to play with, a new pet taken home from the shelter, a new place to live…isn’t it exciting?
to celebrate i report to you some recent dishes borne out of bloghopping and sniffing around when i gatecrash into my bloggerfriends’ kitchens.

santos’ post on her recent trip to Manila and a visit to an intriguing restaurant prompted this experiment. it’s a take on my grandpa lolo amado’s favorite thing to order at the chinese restaurants, camaron rebosado (breaded shrimp) with a sweet and sour sauce.
shrimp puffs with honey chili garlic sauce, as described by santos...

shrimp puffs with honey chili garlic sauce
1 lb of large shrimp, peeled and deveined but last segment w/ tail intact
1/3 cup potato starch
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 lightly beaten egg
enough ice water to make a light batter–about 3/4 cup, add slowly so you can gauge better
1/8 cup finely chopped scallions, white and green parts–about 1 thin stalk
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for deep frying

honey chili and garlic dipping sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup mild vinegar, such as rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce (such as Maesri brand)
a splash or two of soy sauce
fried browned garlic for topping (2-3 cloves, smashed and minced)

mix honey, vinegar, and sweet chili sauce in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until well blended and gently simmering.
remove from heat and add the soy sauce. at this point taste the mixture and adjust as you like it…top with the fried garlic

drain and rinse shrimp and pat dry. lightly salt. mix potato and corn starches. combine egg and ice cold water, then whisk into the starches, adding more water as needed to make a light batter. stir in scallions.
dip the shrimp and deep fry in hot oil about 2 minutes (shrimp turns pink, and batter crispy). drain into paper towels and serve right away!

i have also cooked chef celiaK’s blonde adobo which i can’t get enough of so i had to replenish the (forbidden) supply of pork belly. ssssh! don’t tell my family. it is such a delicious change from the usual. i plan to add some chopped long green sili in the next batch, or fresh thyme and oregano, to spike it a bit.
from a long ago memory of a young teenager’s visit to Norfolk, Va. where i had my first taste of pinangat (tomato steamed butterfish). my ex-Peace Corps husband exclaimed, hey that is SAP-sap! i had to laugh because of the accent but he’s right of course. although the sapSAP i remember is bigger and mostly fried or vinegar-stewed (paksiw) the pinangat method is quite a refreshing change from garlic and vinegar stewing…

pinangat na sapsap
6 sapsap or butterfish, cleaned and gutted, rinsed and light salted
1 thinly sliced plum tomato
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice or calamansi
1 tsp. soy sauce, preferably Filipino brand such as Silver Swan or Pina
1 tsp. oil

mix lemon juice, soy and oil in the bottom of a saucepan large enough to fit the fish, and has a tight fitting lid.
layer the sapsap over and arrange the thinly sliced tomatoes. grind some fresh black peppercorns over the tomatoes. cover tightly and set over a medium low heat. begin timing after the liquid starts to simmer and cook for about 7 minutes or when the fish starts to flake easily with a fork.
this is delicious with green mango shreds which i can only daydream about…and lots of hot rice and fish sauce.

so next post i hope to bake a cake to complete my move to….much much gratitude and appreciation to my WEB “ninang” the fairy godmother maker-of-magic from Holland…

upside down cake

this is the first cake i remember eating. my ma must have perfected it and served it as her signature mainstay eye popping dessert to countless family parties. i remember that her sisters (she has seven!) all had almost similar versions: canned pineapple slices which come out on top of a sponge cake base as you flip the pan over.
i haven’t made this in a very long time–so long that my resident cake critic(#1 son) couldn’t remember when was the last time.

i’d plucked a plump pineapple out of a very fragrant batch of Chiquita’s at a very low price*, and when i sliced off its top the perfume was just so juicy sweet, i was tempted to eat it fresh. by myself heehee.
but no i resisted because i’d read it in another cookbook that upside down cake made from fresh pineapples is incomparable. i also used a buttery cake batter.

prepare a 10-inch pan by lightly greasing with butter. preheat the oven to 350F.
make the topping: in a heavy sauce pan, melt 4 tbsps. unsalted butter with 1/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar . mix well until blended and syrupy.
spread the topping on to the greased pan. arrange slices of pineapple with maraschino cherries (make sure the fruits are well drained and patted dry).
set aside. (additional toppings, which i omitted for my finickydiscerningly tastebudded children: raisins, pecans or almonds.)
whisk together in a bowl 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 2 tsps. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
mix together 1/4 cup rum, 1/4 cup pineapple juice (if using canned, use the drained unsweetened juice, or from the carton, or orange juice), and 1/4 cup buttermilk.
in the bowl of your mixer, cream 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, with 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar until fluffy. add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. beat in 1 tbsp. pure vanilla and 1/2 tsp. orange extract or Grand Marnier (orange liqueur).
add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture in thirds, alternating with the rum juice mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
blend well until flour is well incorporated and batter is smooth.
scrape down the bowl.
pour the batter over the fruit in the pan.
bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in the cake, but not down to the fruit, comes out with a few moist crumbs.
let cool in a rack for 10 minutes. set the serving platter on top, flip, and let rest for 10 minutes more. remove the pan. if some of the fruit is stuck to the bottom, just gently lift out w/ a thin spatula and rearrange…

(based on debbi fields’ great american desserts. i omitted the addition of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves and used a simpler sugar topping).

*fellow Filipino foodfloggers…if i say my sentence above out loud, you will find out why i’m shy about speaking American English. apter a while my p’s and f’s and b’s and v’s get all wonky!

homey pizza

i have to post this most delicious pizza dough that i found from “baking with julia.”
it never fails to receive standing ovations from my favorite patrons…i think the thinner you can manage to roll it out on a nice stone peel (pizza pan thingy) –the crustier. i don’t have one of those though…i just use 2 metal nonstick pans–one is perforated with holes and it comes out really crunchy, the other one just plain solid comes out softer and thicker.

the method seems involved and arduous but it really isn’t. all it takes is timing: start the dough about 4 hours before you plan to serve. this recipe is enough for 2 10-inch pizzas. one kid friendly and one adult.

1 1/2 tsps. active dry yeast, i used Fleischmann
1 & 1/2 cups tepid water (80F–use an instant read thermometer, this is important to have the temp right
2 tbsps. olive oil
2 & 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, such as King Arthur’s

this is the sponge or starter dough.
sprinkle water into the yeast in the bowl of your mixer. stir well until yeast starts to get creamy and let stand 5 minutes.

mix in olive oil and pour in 2 & 1/4 cups flour gradually until dough is blended well–texture will be loose and sticky. let rise in a warm place–85F–until doubled, about 1 & 1/2 hours, covered with a kitchen towel, undisturbed.

punch down dough with a spatula and in the mixer with a dough hook, add 2 cups flour and 3 tsps. salt on low speed. increase speed to medium and beat 4 to 5 minutes until dough is soft and sticks only a bit to your hands as you work it–add up to a 1/4 cup more dough by the spoonful until it is of right consistency.
set on a bowl that has been wiped with olive oil lightly and then turn around and around to coat evenly with the oil. cover with towel again and let rise until double, about an hour and a half more.

divide dough into two, and bake pizza one at a time.

preheat oven to 475F. roll out pizza on a cool surface (such as a marble slab) and roll out thinly to a round that fits the pan. allow the dough to rest every few minutes as you stretch it out.
spread your favorite pasta sauce (we like Classico Roasted Garlic), cover with grated mozzarella, parmesan, or romano, then pepperoni. my kids’ all time favorite!

(my adult pizza toppings: thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, torn up anchovies, thinly sliced basil and oregano fresh from the garden, thinly sliced fresh mozzarella ball, thinly sliced red onion slivers and freshly ground black pepper. optional: crushed red pepper flakes. ahh! it was heavenly.)

bake for 13 minutes until edges are slightly puffed and deeply golden….
well worth the extra effort for the freshly baked dough.


okoy(or ukoy) vegetable fritters with shrimp

it’s festival time. if you go to international food festivals around this area you will invariably bump into the Filipino booth where they serve deep fried spring rolls and pancit (stir fried noodle medley). sometimes you get lucky and find okoy.
you can use grated papaya, bean sprouts, grated potatoes, sweet potatoes or a combination! i love it with bean sprouts (trimmed rinsed, salted, drained, patted dry) and sweet potatoes and white potatoes, totaling about 4 cups of grated vegetables. i tried a new batter recipe. (adapted from “Asian Cookin”, Sallie Morris and Deh-ta Hsiung.)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup potato starch
1 tsp. baking powder
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. salt
(water to thin the batter as you desire)

mix together batter ingredients. you can do this two ways: mix in the grated vegetables into the batter before frying, or pour the batter into a shallow panful of hot vegetable oil, and,working quickly, spoon the vegetables over. constantly scoop the hot oil over the top. as it starts to set add the peeled deveined shrimps and julienned scallions. flip over very carefully.
or you can deep fry the okoy in very hot oil.

drain into paper towels and serve with a dip of coco vinegar, garlic, bird chilis and salt and pepper.

gustatory Tagalog

a meditative post on the colorful language that i love…many words cannot be translated into English satisfactorily but i will try my best. i also noticed that almost all of the words can be applied to non food contexts, such as to people who behave in ways that leave that flavor in your mind.
see i grew up with a lola(grandma) who used to say: tela, add some hot water now!
tela: how hot, lol?
lola: maligamgam
tela: huh? how hot is that lol?
lola: malahininga (as hot as the breath you take)….

it occurred to me that there are so many words to describe the tastes and textures of food that i had to write them down as i remember them. please feel free to correct me: i am out of practice, as my husband is not Filipino and i am always a phone call away from speaking in my beloved native tongue.

malasa=tasty, flavorful
malinamnam=luscious, delectable
nalalasap=appetizing, lipsmacking good
matabang=lacking flavor (also applies to non-food situations, as in describing a person who fails to display enthusiasm or provides a lackluster effort; beware if you detect this flavor in a lover, potential lover, work colleague)
matapang (matindi)=strong as in coffee, or to describe intensely flavored food (contrast to above)
nakakangilo=sweet to the point of toothache
maango=smelly old stale?
maanghang=peppery, spicey hot
mapakla=acrid, leaves an unpleasant coating in the tongue such as when one eats fruit that is not quite ripe or when one witnesses meanness in another
nakakasunok or nakakasuya or nakakasawa=inducing a feeling of fullness to the point of nausea, or tiredness from eating the same food over and over again (same feeling you get when you feel like you’ve blogged the same food over and over again in different guises)
malansa=fishy, gamey; also applies to Filipinos who do not acknowledge their roots, according to Jose Rizal
madulas=slimey, as in okra
hilaw=unripe, uncooked; also refers to a half-baked effort or half-cooked strategy
(i.e., the post is so hilaw, it makes you wonder if it’s…)
hinog sa pilit=refers to fruit that is picked before its prime (did blogger participate in something unwillingly?)and forced to speed-ripen far from the tree; therefore not as sweet or juicy
lihi=a pregnant mother’s craved-for food; thought to imbue the infant in amnio with the food’s qualities. i.e, if it is a sour food, the infant will be of sour countenance. i only remember the craving i had for my 3rd child, which was the Vietnamese beef soup, pho…i don’t know yet how that has influenced my #2 son.
napaglihihan describes the food for which the mother craved for.
makati=induces a scratchy feeling in the throat, such as when anaphylactic shock is about to set in and choke the living daylights out of you for eating a forbidden allergenic food

and then there are the words to describe how a person enjoys food;
matakaw, masiba=gluttonous (one of the seven cardinal sins,#4 )
mahilig=(extreme) fondness bordering on lust(#7 on the list)
maganid=avaricious, greedy (#6 and #3 in the list that i had to memorize for the missionary sisters of saint joseph)
matipid=skimpy on money, portions or ingredients

i will be adding on to this list as i remember my words better. and i will try to add the appropriate accent/emphasized syllable.
see. i think if you undertake to do something you can’t do it half heartedly.
otherwise, don’t do it at all. you don’t do it for others, you do it for yourself.
otherwise don’t do it.
at all.

puchero story

(kuwentong puchero)
a chicken and pork version of what we always used to have as beef and pork. interestingly, i adapted this recipe from “Asian Cooking”, edited by Sallie Morris and Deh Ta Hsiung, where our cuisine is puzzlingly lumped together with Vietnamese.

put 3 chicken leg quarters and 4 country style spareribs (bone in) in a large pot. cover with enough cold water to cover by an inch. bring up to a slow boil, take out meats onto a colander, rinse lightly; discard the broth and clean the pot. yes it seems like a lot of work, but this i find produces a clearer broth.

return meats to pot, cover with water again, and bring to a boil. season with sea salt and peppercorns and a bay leaf and let simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
remove spareribs and chicken from broth. separate chicken thigh from drum stick. reserve the broth.

in a large saute pan or wok, heat oil and saute 2 garlic cloves, smashed and sliced, 1 sliced medium onion, and 2 tomatoes, minced.

stir fry until onions are translucent and tomatoes are meltingly soft. add the chicken and pork and mix gently. pour about a quarter cup of broth and 1 14-oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed. add 2 pieces of chorizo, sliced on the diagonal, 2 plantains, sliced into 3 inch pieces. (you may also add sweet potato, preferably the purple skinned white fleshed kind, typically labeled Japanese yam).
simmer gently until plantains and sweet potatoes are soft, about 12 minutes.
season with salt and pepper.

to the broth you may add your choice of green leafy vegetables. i prefer to use sliced Napa cabbage and baby bok choy (bok choy muoy) but others you can use are green beans, cabbage, broccoli or sweet pea pods. i also didn’t have sweet potatoes on hand so i boiled baby white potatoes in the broth.

serve the sauted chicken and chicken pea mixture in a serving platter with bowls of soup, topped with the vegetables, alongside.
my kids loved the combination of chicken and sweet plantains and chorizos…they made what i call “rice floats” in their bowls of soup.

Lasang Pinoy #1: joy and pain

sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan. (for the country’s progress, we need discipline.)
tangkilikin ang sariling atin. (buy Filipino)
ang Bagong Lipunan. (the New Society).

remember these Martial Law-era catch phrases?

i grew up with a strong awareness of the political events swirling all around in the years before 1972. i eavesdropped on the adults’ discussions and sneaked away with the Philippine Free Press magazines that exposed the payola scandal, Congressman Quinteros, Dovie Beams, the Bloody Plaza Miranda rally.
my grandparents were loyal government servants in the presidencies of Magsaysay, Garcia and Macapagal…imagine their disgust, horror, and demoralization as they witnessed Marcos systematically dismantling the democratic processes and openly pillaging the treasury.
thus, to them Ninoy Aquino was a living, breathing, hero. they spoke of him as if they knew him intimately, as if he were a close relative.
on the declaration of Martial Law i remember that my lola bitterly proclaimed that it was a good thing lolo was gone, or else he would have been picked up and jailed alongside Ninoy for all his vehement opposition to the tyrannical ruler emerging…

i can’t seem to tell this story without relating it with my lola (grandma).

in the spring of 1983 my lola suffered cardiac arrest following her mastectomy in a hospital in upstate New York. she thankfully bounced back and i was summoned to help her recover, taking a leave of absence from my remote job site in the mountains near Morong, Bataan.
around this time Ninoy was strategizing for his return home from exile, meeting with oppositionists and expatriates from all over the US.
we thought we had a chance to meet Ninoy when he was rumored to be giving a speech near our late great-uncle Miting’s place in Norwich, NY. lola was strong enough to travel by then, and we all hied off only to be disappointed. also around that time we watched an interview with Ninoy on American television which greatly thrilled us by his eloquence and charisma. he said he yearned to go back, to touch the people’s hands and to just be with the people.

so the hope of Ninoy coming home to challenge the dictatorship, the joy of seeing a healthy invigorated ex-political prisoner aboard a plane full of journalists, wearing a white travelling suit…all these dreams were dashed with a bullet to the head.

the country was stunned. the assassination was so bold and brazen, as if the perpetrators were completely assured of invincibility. it was the last straw for the Filipinos…most of whom were valiantly bearing hardship, breaking their backs, in the name of sustaining their families, in the midst of the harsh military regime masquerading as the New Society.

ninoy packing up at his home in Newton, Ma. (photo from “Aquino”, World Leaders Series, Howard Chua-Eoan)

joy and pain, sunshine and rain…

for the first Lasang Pinoy food event cooked up by Karen and Stef i post two humble dishes that my lola prepared always together. she had many combinations: pancit luglog always with sinigang (tamarind soup), kare kare with adobo. puchero with broiled eggplant salad. no telling how the combinations came about but we just happily ate them. monggo guisado(stir fried mung bean) and lola’s plain escabeche(sweet and sour fish sans embellishments) are two healthy and economical dishes that is typical of a home cooked meal, the kind that one would have on an ordinary day, or on a day when one sought comfort from sorrow.
it is unthinkable to have one without the other.

homely escabeche
1 cleaned and gutted white fleshed fish, preferably milkfish, or sea bass, grouper, salted
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/3 cup shredded ginger
1 whole onions, sliced thinly
2 tsps. conrstarch dissolved in 2 tbsps. water

rice vinegar
granulated sugar
soy sauce

pan fry the fish, about 4 minutes per side, depending on its size, in a pan with vegetable oil. drain off excess oil. set aside to cool.
the proportions of vinegar, soy and sugar are according to your taste. i start off with equal amounts of each, then taste until it is to my liking. add water if necessary.
heat the solution to simmering. meanwhile stir fry the garlic, onions and ginger until fragrant. add the soy solution, bring up to a slow boil, and add the cornstarch mixture. stir until thickened. season with salt and pepper.
pour the sweet and sour sauce over the fried fish.

monggo guisado:
1 cup mung beans, rinsed, drained, boiled in 6 cups water until soft
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
2 tomatoes
1/2 lb. fatty pork
1/2 lb. shrimps, shelled, deveined, chopped
2 tbsps. bagoong (preserved bottled shrimp fry)
1 cup shrimp extract (pound the shrimp heads and shells and pour luke warm water over a strainer)
a cup of young pepper leaves, or a pack of frozen pepper leaves

put the fatty pork in a wok with enough water to cover. add salt and pepper, bring up to a boil, then when the water is almost gone, turn up the heat and brown the pork. remove to a plate and drain over paper towels.
in the rendered fat from the pork (add vegetable oil if it is too little), saute garlic, onions, tomatoes. add the extract, pork , and bagoong.
mix well and let simmer 5 minutes. add the monggo with its liquid, stirring constantly. add the shrimp and when it is pink and firm, add the pepper leaves.

never forget

A time comes in a man’s life when he must prefer a meaningful death to a meaningless life. I would rather die on my feet with honor, than live on bended knees in shame.”
–Ninoy Aquino, from speech at his trial.

i returned to work. i remember the sultry Sunday afternoon when it happened. i felt a heaviness, hopelessness, disgust. unfortunately i was never able to witness the rallies and demonstrations; there were very few television sets in the place where i worked. word was sent up by my parents to stay put.
lola was back in Manila by then.
she lived three more years to see the day when Ninoy’s widow would triumph over Marcos.

“L” right back at you thess!!!

saucy chocolate pudding

…or messy cake?

this is my second attempt at a saucy chocolate pudding from Jacqueline Bellefontaine’s “chocolates” from the how to cook series.

my kids love the messy gooey icing on the bottom. the batter is poured into a dish, then on top goes a watery chocolatey sauce. the whole thing bakes together then the sauce separates on the bottom for a pudding like consistency. yum!
(the first time i gave in to my self-doubts and let the cake bake longer…the sauce got absorbed by the cake. still great tasting and moist, but not pudding-y at all.)

3 tbsps. Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa
4 tbsps. light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups hot boiling water

mix together cocoa and sugar well. pour in enough water to make a smooth paste. pour in the rest of the water, whisking well to blend.

cake batter:
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 & 1/4 cups self rising flour
2 tbsp. Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa
1 & 1/4 cups whole milk
2 & 3/4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken up into pieces

preheat oven to 350F.
whisk flour and cocoa together.
heat milk gently, add chocolate and mix until melted.
cream butter and sugar until light.
add flour and cocoa to butter and sugar, then add the melted chocolate, beating well, until batter is smooth.
pour into greased pan (i used a 2-qt. pyrex oval). pour the sauce on top without mixing. bake 40 minutes until top is dry but still springy. let stand 5 minutes and sprinkle with pearl sugar (or confectioners’ sugar). scoop with a large spoon into bowls.

strawberry raspberry gelato

a visit to my friend mommyspots prompted this experiment. she’s been trying out her battery powered ice cream maker that churns inside the freezer, coming up with English rose tea gelato.
how cool is that!
so i dug out my ice cream book and, under the influence of spots, and tried this gelato.
i added the raspberries because they are on sale this week i am a big fan of tangy.

3 cups of strawberries (a little less than a quart), washed, hulled, patted dry
1 cup raspberries (6 ozs.), briefly rinsed, dried
2 tbsps. sugar
3 tbps. lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup heavy creammix 2/3 cup sugar and water in a pan and bring up to a slow boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. cool to room temperature. puree fruits with sugar in blender or food processor.
add fruit puree and lemon juice to the syrup, cover, and chill in refrigerator 2 hours. stir in the cream, and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.churning up the gelatoprepared without a custard base, gelato is lighter, softer, and intensely flavored. the kids really loved the tangy sweetness, perfect for this hot steamy Saturday…
(based on a recipe from Sorbets and Ice Creams by Lou Seibert Pappas.) strawberry raspberry gelato