Monthly Archives: June 2006

easy fish and potato curry

fish and potato curry

this is inspired by a recipe from Indonesia published in Saveur Magazine. i say inspired because i was not able to grind my own curry paste but instead used “Maesri” brand red curry paste. i made up for this dastardly=cowardly=lazy time-saving deed by using frozen coconut milk instead of canned…recipe and reminiscing follow. Continue reading

bibingkang malagkit, glutinous rice cake

my kids were asking for brownies, but i wanted to have some bibingka first. this one’s very easy –i cheated and used bottled matamis sa bao or coconut jam instead of making it up from scratch. there’s a recipe for it here …and steaming seems to yields a meltingly soft rice cake. decrease the amount of liquid if you prefer it chewier.
based on a recipe from “Asian Cakes and Desserts.”

banana leaves cut to line the dish, thawed, washed and wiped clean, then briefly passed over a low flame of the gas burner (or set in the oven rack for a few minutes to dry but not brown)

2 cups malagkit or glutinous rice, soaked in water overnight

1 packet (2 cups) of thawed frozen coconut milk, “handaan” brand; or canned (14 to 15 ozs., make it up with water)
1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

banana leaves for lining the 8″ square cake pan or glass heat proof dish

1/2 jar of coconut jam, more or less, to taste

PICT0023drain the soaked rice and in a large bowl mix with coconut milk, sugar and salt. spread out over the banana leaf-lined (or buttered) dish and steam over medium heat for about 25 minutes. it should be soft and grains should have absorbed most of the liquid. fluff with a fork or a pair of chopsticks.


flatten and smoothen the surface with the back of a spoon, with another piece of banana leaf or oiled wax paper on top.

PICT0022steam for 5 minutes. pour the coconut jam and steam another 5 minutes. let cool to slightly warm before cutting. it firms up more as it cools. store in the refrigerator.

frogfish 011
(an old photo of a bibingka baked in the oven…kids cut into the steamed rice cake before i could photograph!)


salad days

we’re still here! the kids are winding up the school year so there have been recitals and flag day assemblies and final exams. and summer has finally shown up! it’s so unbelievable–after what seemed like endless bouts of pouring rainshowers it’s finally hot and sultry. need to stock up on popsicles and frozen yogurt and make room in the freezer for the ice cream maker bowl.

also time to have more salads…our favorite salad is Caesar, and there are two versions of its origins here. but whatever–we thank them both, Caesar Cardini and Giacomo Junia. we just love it’s tangy anchovy-ey flavors. our favorite commercial brand is Lily’s vintage dressing but when the craving for intense anchovy and lemony flavor gets too intense, i turn to this Craig Claiborne recipe.
butter boiling

first clarify some butter…

clarified butter


bake some croutons, make the dressing, and break up and chill romaine lettuce.
take a cuddle break

baby BaoBao

homemade Caesar's saladtoss together and serve. recipes followContinue reading

the hot and sour soup quest

hot & sour soup

my first taste of it, i got spoiled. the Peking Duck Restaurant on Mott Street, New York Chinatown, in the late 70’s served it pucker-up-sour and searing hot, just perfect for cold and blustery winter nights. it was a very hard act to follow.

now everytime a new restaurant boasting of this cuisine sprouts up nearby, husband and i sample their wares by ordering two things that they ought to get right, or we never return: Peking ravioli (big fat cabbage and pork dumplings with a gingery sauce) and hot and sour soup. more often than not the soup lacks flavor and is gooey with too much cornstarch.
this recipe is the first one we made at home that satisfied us both. the secret is freshly ground white peppercorns…plus hot sesame oil and red pepper powder. pucker-up sour, and searing hot.

(based on Mei Chin’s recipe from Saveur magazine, and her recipe has pork. i think it works just as well without it, and real crab or lobster meat would be better substitutes.).

8 cups chicken broth (skinless chicken bones simmered with 1 unpeeled clove of garlic, 1 peeled onion, and a thin slice of ginger, seasoned with salt and peppercorns)

3 tbsps. white wine vinegar plus

2 tbsps. Chunking vinegar (dark Chinese vinegar)

3 tbsps. cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

1tsp. freshly ground white peppercorns

1/4 cup dried lily buds, rehydrated for at least 30 minutes in warm water

1 can straw mushrooms, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup cubed firm tofu
hot sesame oil

salt to taste

ichimi togarashi

PICT0010(optional: crab or lobster meat, or thinly sliced marinated pork-soy, sherrywine or brandy; add the pork at the start. if using the shellfish, add at the end of cooking time.)

in a large pot bring the broth to a low boil and add the vinegars and white pepper then slowly drizzle in the cornstarch solution while stirring.

bring down to a simmer and add rehydrated lily buds, bamboo shoot shreds and mushrooms.

simmer about 5 minutes then add the tofu. drizzle in the lightly beaten egg in a stream around the pot without stirring, bring back up to a boil then add the salt, hot sesame oil and red pepper powder. stir briefly and serve hot.

arroz con pollo, the one to keep

i was craving something with a saffrony-tomatoey taste, so this came to mind. i combined the two recipes i’ve been working with a new cooking method from a Cuban-American cookbook and it turned out so swell (moist juicy meat and fragrant rice ) that i just had to record it here for immediate recall….

arroz con pollo, baked in the oven

olive oil

10 cloves of garlic, crushed

cracked black pepper sea salt

1 packet of Sazon Goya con azafran *

4-5 fresh sprigs of oregano, coarsely chopped up

1/4 lb. of salt pork brisket, cubed (optional)

6 chicken leg quarters

4 pieces of chorizos de bilbao

1 large Spanish onion, diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced (or bottled roasted red peppers )

1/4 tsp. saffron

4 cups converted rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)

3 cups of chicken stock

1 28. oz. can of peeled tomatoes in juice, drained (reserve liquid for another use)

1 cup of beer

4 bay leaves

1 cup of baby peas, canned or frozen

preheat oven to 375F.

marinate chicken in 5 cloves of the garlic, enough olive oil to coat all pieces, the packet of Sazon, fresh oregano, salt and pepper. rub the spices all over. (*substitute: 4 tsps. hot smoked paprika, 3 tbsps. dried oregano, 2 tbsps. cumin, 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper, sea salt and peppercorns). set aside at least half an hour.

in a large heavy Dutch oven, over medium high heat, boil the salt pork, if using, in 2 cups water until water is almost all gone and then add a tiny bit of oil to help render out the fat. remove all the oil and scoop out the browned salt pork with a slotted spoon to a plate.
add olive oil to the Dutch oven and heat up, then add the chorizos (i didn’t slice the chorizos so as not to get the mixture too spicy). remove the sausages to the plate with a slotted spoon. lightly brown chicken on both sides, removing to the same plate.

add the onion, garlic, and red peppers and saute until soft. add saffron and rice. mix for 1 minute to coat rice. add chicken stock, beer, tomatoes, and bay leaves, stir for 1 minute, and add chicken, chorizo, salt pork, and peas. bring to a boil, cover and bake in oven for 45 minutes. shred the chicken meat and slice the chorizos. serve hot.
(adapted from “Our Latin Table,” by Fernando Saralegui.
blooming herb gardensage in bloom

my herb garden…it’s back! my must have herbs are mint, lemon balm, tarragon (struggling but alive), oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil (passed away, had to replace). i found baby shoots of cilantro yippee. and my stalwart sage was alive most of the winter until all the rain seemed to have drowned it then my daughter found the baby leaves shooting up from the seemingly dead stems. and now it has bloomed! they are the prettiest shade of periwinkle…wonder if i should cut them off to encourage new growth? wonder if i can keep them alive all season?

crispy wings

husband and i quickly discovered we loved this one thing so much that we would try it in all sorts of variations and versions. we would seek out exotic places just to try it out, adding on and spicing it up as hot as we could take. Continue reading

leche flan

classic leche flan

i had some leftover egg yolks from the chicken wings, two half boxes of heavy cream, a portion of condensed milk…this is the only thing that i wanted to make. the original flan that most of us Filipinos are familiar with–in a few of my cookbooks this is steamed rather than baked but i am more comfortable with the water bath baking method.
caramel lining for the mold:

1 cup of sugar

1/3 cup water

preheat oven to 350F. set water bath and mold to warm up.

mix sugar and water over medium heat in heavy casserole until sugar is dissolved. heat up to boiling without stirring and let thicken until golden brown. pour into warmed mold.

the flan:

1 cup condensed milk

3 cups heavy cream (or a combination of light and heavy creams)
4 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs

2 tsps. lime zest

1 tsp. vanilla extract

combine everything and blend well using stick blender or mixer. pour into caramel lined warm mold. set over water bath and bake for 1 hour or until set.

turn off oven and let sit in its water bath until cooled down to room temperature. run tip of sharp knife all around, set serving platter on top, and invert to unmold.

*#1son wants me to make flan only in this way, because he is just so not into the cheesey version anymore….

baby artichokes


[have a large bowl of water, with the juice of a lemon squeezed in,ready to drop the cut artichokes into. the babies brown quickly once they’re cut.].
this vegetable, baby or grown up variety, falls under the “love or hate” category. i must confess the first time it was served to me by a friend in England, i was kind of perplexed. “you do what with the leaves?” i asked incredulously as i tried to scrape the underside with the back of my lower teeth. i also looked askance at the disgusting looking pile of spent leaves on the side of her husband’s dish.

i learned to appreciate it more as a pickle or in using the canned artichoke hearts (or “chokes,” the prize that awaits under all the prickly leaves). i put them in kare kare stew and husband adds them to pasta with chicken and broccoli.

every now and then i would buy just a couple of the grenade size blossoms and have them by myself with vinegar and fish paste, or lemon and garlic. (more recipes and preparation tips here.)

then i found baby artichokes. delicious roasted with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper–the whole piece is edible as long as you know how far down to peel off the outer leaves and then cut the tough tops off.

trivia: who was the artichoke king in the annual festival held in Castroville, California this year? clue: he’s the most famous er notorious reject from the early rounds of “American Idol 3.”

the first queen was Marilyn Monroe…