Monthly Archives: March 2006

so i am cooking the simplest of food until the splint is off.

3 weeks ago i had carpal tunnel release surgery, considered a minor day procedure. it was a hard decision to choose surgery but i was told it had to be done due to the damage already incurred–next step would have been muscle damage. the relief i felt from the numbness and stinging pain was immediate. finally i could sleep through the night without discomfort. i no longer get the shock that ran through my whole arm with simple tasks like turning a doorknob or stirring batter or soup.
the aftermath though has been a radical change for the family, with husband now assigned as cook and dishwasher, me watching helplessly by and trying to cope with one handedness. it feels humbling and i feel quite useless sometimes.

the other day it took me hours to cook menudo. *sigh* i tried some appliances but well one hand just doesn’t quite perform as well as two.

i did this pancake batter with one hand last week & today i made my right hand do some flipping and turning. so far so good. here is craig claiborne’s buttermilk pancake, truly THE ONE AND ONLY for my kids now: they love it for the school mornings with maple syrup or raspberry jam and butter, and when they get home they root around in the kitchen looking for leftovers.

buttermilk pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour

1-2 tbsps. sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

2 tbsps. melted butter, cooled

1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

preheat the griddle.

whisk together all the dry ingredients. make a well in the middle and add the buttermilk, butter, and egg.

stir only until dry ingredients are moistened then pour 1/8 cupfuls of batter into the griddle and brown both sides.

[my webninang–godmother– has  sweetly done some magic and now you can listen to some of the songs from the “recently listened to music tag”…enjoy!  happy weekend to all…am going to soak in some sunshine!]

tagged by thess: 7 songs

funny coincidence, after hanging out with my brothers discussing old songs and old times i’ve been looking for an upgrade to my kitchen entertainment center (which right now consists of an old battered tv resurrected from the basement to replace my 5 inch baby monitor-tv which broke down from old age).
daydreaming of my dream machine tv-cd player i’d been cleaning up my music compilation especially since an old friend gave me more CD’s with 60’s and 70’s hits, playing them continuously on loop. so happily i comply with thessiree’s tag of 7 recently listened to songs (check out her list with cool samplings to boot!).
1. “My One and Only Love,” Chris Botti and Paula Cole’s(upbeat jazz) and Sting’s rendition (makes me melt, never mind the association with Leaving Las Vegas)

[audio:http://e-writings.com/babyrambutan/audio/03%20My%20One%20And%20Only%20Love%20(Feat.%20Pau%201.mp3]

2. “Wherever,Whenever, Whatever” both by Maxwell (album Urban Hang Suite) and MYMP (Filipino duo “make your mama proud”) love the dulcimer sound on Maxwell’s, sweet vocal of MYMP
[audio:http://e-writings.com/babyrambutan/audio/Maxwell%20-%20Whenever%20Wherever%20Whatever.mp3]
3. “You Say” by Lisa Loeb–reminds me of the ex who let me get away (heehee) but i also love the earnest lyrics from a neurotic relationship

[audio:http://e-writings.com/babyrambutan/audio/Lisa%20Lobe%20-%20You%20Say.mp3]

4. “Happy Man” by Chicago (long lost, rediscovered recently)

[audio:http://e-writings.com/babyrambutan/audio/Chicago%20-%20Happy%20Man.mp3]

5. “Downright Woman” by Boz Scaggs sent by an “old” friend. always nice to recall something sweet, completely forgotten! i didn’t even know it was by Boz Scaggs till Braless sent it…

[audio:http://e-writings.com/babyrambutan/audio/02%20Downright%20Women%201.mp3]
6. “Don’t let the sun catch you crying” version by Rickie Lee Jones, Atinna in Tokyokuni reminded me of this and found Rickie Lee’s version very poignant

[audio:http://e-writings.com/babyrambutan/audio/08%20Don’t%20Let%20the%20Sun%20Catch%20You%20Cryin.mp3]

7. “Dreamsome” by Shelby Lynne–ya she’s in the country music category, but! this song from Bridget Jones’ Diary, is played during the birthday dinner scene when Mark Darcy is staring at her with goo goo eyes over blue soup and marmalade glue…

tagging everyone who likes listening to music while cooking and eating…Braless you too! thanks for the cd’s and the sweet (and salty!)food…if you want you can respond to the tag in the comment box!


just a few of the goodies…greatly diminished boy bawang…salamat “old” friend hehe.

lola’s coconut macaroons

i saw how ma was so busy setting up for the party on Saturday that i asked daughter to help her make one of her signature treats, coconut macaroons. it was a sweet trip down memory lane, and i admired ma’s focus in the organized chaos all around her that day. she made these for us when we were kids, and she made these for the party but with 8 grandchildren in and out of the kitchen swiping a little bite now and then…well she said ok! we’ll keep them for home.
i remember going deep into debt with my great good old friend from high school C.H. who sold them out of her school bag. hers were soft and custardy. my ma’s are crusty on the outside and soft and tender on the inside, and really delicious. and! you can have your kids make them for you…

1 8 oz. pack desiccated coconut (unsweetened)

1 14 oz. can condensed milk

1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

2 eggs

3/4 tsp. good vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350F.

mix together well. pour into paper/foil-lined mini muffin pans. bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set and tops are golden. that’s it. really.

california dreamin’

we’re back, safe and sound from our first cross country trip with all three kids. husband had to stay behind due to work commitments so it was just me and my sore hand. am so proud of my kids, they were such good sports and i am glad to report they had a blast bonding with their filipino folks for their lolo and lola‘s golden wedding anniversary (though a bit anxious about how to catch up on school work).

to all you dearest friends who visited here, thank you!! can’t hold my knives yet and my left hand is quite disobedient–it’s amazing how everything is slower when your dominant hand is disabled.

no new dishes but here are some photos to reminisce with, souvenirs of what happens when a foodie reunites with her foodiefolks…

in and out of this place…i had a cheeseburger, animal style. #1son made sure he had another double-double before we left, one for the road.

el pollo loco was next, yes take out! it was too busy before the party. we turned my ate(older sister)’s house upside down with a total of 12 sleeping in at one point…

we had just a simple get together (i felt like belting out “it’s a miracle!” a la Boy George) at a residential complex’s party place which felt like a gazebo with a center fireplace. lots of room for the children to run around safely…

here’s the star of the show, that beautiful fat creature we met at the party..handsome huh?

cheesey macaroni, vegetable stir fry, chicken pastel-style, baked salmon with lemony mayonnaise topping, prawns (flown in from the Philippines!), wall-to-wall fried lumpiang shanghai…

beef caldereta, pancit sotanghon, pancit molo soup… just some of the dishes, i tried to be as inconspicuous as i could (shhh! they don’t know i have a food blog but they must be getting suspicious especially when i was taking too many photos).

“wedding cake” and a chocolate fountain. not pictured: my ma’s famous chicken-potato salad, and a buko gel fruit salad so delicious it made the diabetics in the family faint with desire.
ready to paksiw!

the golden couple

a trip to Goldilocks so #1son could satisfy his craving for halo-halo and we discovered the best dinuguan and puto we’ve had in ages….

dimsum at Ocean restaurant in downtown LA…
my kuya(older brother) visiting from the Philippines wanted to taste “real” Mexican so my ate asked her Mexican-American co-worker, a foodie himself, and he pointed us to Somis Market in Los Pasos. tucked away beside a convenience store, we ooohed and aaahed over the chimichangas and tamales.

so here we are, slightly hung over from all the bonding (the kids got acculturated quickly to the higher decibel levels and jolly gatherings) and trying to get back to our daily grind….

and i am daydreaming of strawberries and mangoes.

foodie family reunion

am reconnecting with my foodie folks in cold and wintry California. huh?! what happened? everyone says it’s unusual.  fine, but does it have to be cold and wintry while we’re here???

have lots of photos to share, especially of a big fat beautiful creature that we met…

back soon, maybe it would be just my luck that Boston turns unseasonably warm. is that too much to ask for? wah.

i hope spring comes soon to everyone, in every sense of the word.

i bid you goodnight….

doctor said, “you’re anemic.” what to do, what to do?

good thing this is near us. Hilltop Steakhouse is long-time icon of this area, and one of the first places husband took me when we were newly married. they maintain their own butcher shop (a huge walk in freezer–brrr, painful during winter but worth keeping your hat and mittens on for). the prices make me vow to come back at least once a month.
the idea is from eetsmakelijk.com, when chef thess went out to a post valentine dinner and blogged some mouth-watering entrees.

yum neua
or grilled sirloin steak tossed with thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions, on a bed of green leaf lettuce, dressed with a fish sauce based dressing and garnished with fresh mint and cilantro leaves. sprinkled with toasted ground rice.

dressing (perfect hot sour salty sweet combination, but add more or less of each ingredient as your taste buds require):

2 tbsps. lime juice

1 tbsp. fish sauce

3 tsps. sugar

1 finely sliced red chili

and here’s some other treats we’ve had lately.

chicken in sweet wine and mushroom sauce over linguine

(adapted from a famous big Italian American chef–i have revised it too much i don’t think he’d be happy to be associated with this! chicken instead of veal, and i was out of Marsala, so i used Muscat which turned out too sweet. so we had to tweak it a bit. i added some red wine and my precious brown veal stock, and Maggi, and salt and pepper…but it was delicious nonetheless)

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pounded thin and dredged in salt and pepper seasoned flour

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ozs. baby bella mushrooms

1 cup marsala wine

2 tbsps. cold butter

thyme sprigs

heat up skillet to medium, add olive oil, and brown the chicken until deep golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. do not crowd the chicken as they brown so do this in batches. put the chicken aside in a platter.

add the mushrooms and saute over medium low heat until juices run and dry out a bit. add the Marsala and let reduce by a third over medium heat. season with salt and pepper. add the butter. return the chicken cutlets into the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-6 minutes. add the thyme leaves.

husband’s conclusion: always taste as you cook! “season, season, season….”

sweet reward:

banana split at home

my children inhale ice cream, which is sanctioned by the pediatricians as a dreamy source of calcium anyway so we let them indulge. it’s our job to search out the sales: fuel oil price rises directly correlate to the price of ice cream so we buy when it’s buy one get one (only the brands with no more than 3-syllable- ingredients though).

it’s long been my plan to have a “make your own banana split” day… i’d make my own ice creams if i had a lot of time. but to the marketing people who conjure up the names for the ice cream: i want your job! :)

i whipped our own cream and chopped up fresh strawberries (macerated in a bit of lemon juice and lots of fine sugar) and our own chocolate fudge sauce. canned pineapple and toasted almonds (yikes i forogot maraschino cherries!) and that was enough to put my kiddies in “dreamy chocolate,” strawberry, and “pistachio pistachio” heaven.

alistair little’s chocolate fudge sauce from green and black’s unwrapped (boy is it hard to orient myself to ml’s and oz’s!!)

125 ml. heavy cream

5 ozs granulated sugar

1 oz. butter

75 ml golden syrup (Lyle’s)

75 ml milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

100 grams (3 &1/2 ozs.)dark chocolate, preferably 60% minimum cocoa solids (i used Baker’s anniversary special edition)

put all ingredients except chocolate in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over moderate heat, stirring constantly until mixture is a pale caramel color, about 10 to 15 minutes after coming to a slow boil. remove from the heat and beat in the chocolate pieces. stir in 35 ml (about 1& 1/2 oz.) of cold water. if the mixture is still too thick, add more a spoonful at a time, until of good pouring consistency.

this is it for a while, unless i can bribe one of my kids to blog for me :)..

i need to have something done (not liposuction or plastic surgery, sadly! heehee), and we have somewhere far away to go to… thank you thank you all you beautiful friends. i shall return!

MacArthur Park

mango rum cake

one of the first cakes i ever made, i think at age 12. my ma saved the recipe booklet all these years, a Christmas giveaway or “promo” from a Sunday magazine.

i baked it again on the Friday when the whole household  seemed to have heaved a huge sigh of relief from surviving the busy workweek, with brutally cold single digit degrees Fahrenheit whenever i dropped the kiddies off to their respective bus stops (sons) and school (daughter and her best friend).

the tropical flavor i thought would remind us that warmer days are coming back. sometime. hopefully soon.

2 & 1/4 cups cake flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

7 egg yolks

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup mango juice*

7 egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

rum syrup**

mango glaze***

preheat oven to 350F. in large bowl, sift together flour,1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. make a well in the center and add oil, egg yolks, and juice. beat until smooth. set aside.

beat egg whites until frothy. add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.

carefully fold into egg yolk mixture blending well. pour into ungreased 10″tube pan. bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until tester inserted in cake comes out clean. invert pan and cool. then pierce enter top of cake with skewer or bbq stick at 1-inch intervals. slowly pour hot rum syrup all over cake and refrigerate several hours. remove cake from pan and spoon warm mango glaze on top. cool before serving.

*mango juice: if you have fresh very ripe mangoes puree them with canned mango juice until of pouring consistency. i had to make do with Malee brand (fr. Thailand) canned mango slices pureed with its syrup.(there is good canned mango juice available in cans and bottles from the Philippines, available at Asian groceries).

the rest of the can i added to the only mango jam i found (which you’ll need for the mango glaze below), which tasted nothing at all like mango but more like concentrate of citric acid. bleh.

**rum syrup: in small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. remove from heat and stir in 3 tbsps. dark rum.

***mango glaze: heat 1 cup mango jam in small saucepan. stir in 1 tbsp. rum and spread on top of cake while still warm.

recipe from Liberty Flour Mills.

must bake…brioche

the recipe is here, from Baking with Julia, guest baker Nancy Silverton.

it involves several pages of reading and it’s crucial to have a heavy duty stand mixer and a gigantic glass bowl. oh, also half of the shelf of the fridge for the second rising. BUT! i will do it again and again.

growing up, in Manila, i loved to eat this buttery egg bread called monay slightly more than i loved to eat pan de sal (salty bread rolls). so much so that when my cousin was being courted by a boy who gave her the biggest monay we ever saw, as big as an 18-inch bilao (flat basket) and then i found out she didn’t accept his affections i was so bitterly disappointed ;p.

so i’ve been searching for monay recipes and in my search i found brioche. i made my own, and now my next task is to buy a loaf from a real French bakery and see how it compares. for now, i’m very happy with this recipe. (this is also a direct result of my extreme exasperation from making ensaymada, which it also resembles apart from the absence of grated cheese and sugar on top and in between the fluffy soft layers…)

the sponge

the butter beaten into submission, but kept cold

the first rise, after relentless mixing

no brioche mold so i improvised

it was bursting at the seams

a variation: ensaymada, with grated cheese, soft butter and sugar