Monthly Archives: August 2008

zucchini squash blossoms

the farmer guy remembered.
i went straight to the organic farm stand and there it was, my bag of zucchini squash blossoms (the male flowers, apparently they are the ones better for eating?).
i was also able to get a phone number to call in case i want to order before the next farmers’ market day, Fridays only in my town, until late October.
do you have a favorite recipe for these pretty flowers? i have to cook them quick, no later than tomorrow. i’ve got a vague idea of stuffing them with cheese, before dipping in a light batter and briefly deep frying, then serving with a tasty, pesto-ey and vegetable-laden marinara.
any suggestions would be most welcome!
zucchini squash blossoms
rainbow of vegetables
a cook’s rainbow, delight!
so nice to see so many people at the farmers’ market

chocolate malted malteser drops

a new family has moved in right next door, and wonder of wonders, joy of joys, they have an 8-year-old boy!

whenever new neighbors arrive, especially this one with a kid the same age as mine, a boy!–it matters very much, you know? at this age they don’t want to hang out with kids of the opposite gender, ahem, YET– i try to do something to welcome them, because i never want anyone to feel the way we did when we first moved here. long story kept short, some of the folks nearby were openly hostile to us.
but we’ve outstayed most of them, so that’s the happy conclusion of that.

a dozen or so of Dorie Greenspan’s chocolate malted whopper drops should do it…i renamed it malteser to signify my preference for the less-sweet UK version of malted milk balls, also i used alkalized unsweetened cocoa; the recipe does not specify the oven temperature so i experimented with a batch at 350F(resulted in thin, chewy soft cookies) and all the rest i kept at 375F (resulted in thicker puffier yet still chewy soft; i kept the remaining batter chilled at all times before baking). (recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From my Home to Yours, Houghton Mifflin, 2006).
chocolate malted malteser cookies
PICT0030before smashing, in a sturdy ziploc bag

Continue reading

my ma’s lengua, the real deal

 ang lengua ni Ma
up to that point i was cooking beef tongue from a cook book.
then this summer when i went to LA with my kids to celebrate my dad’s 73rd birthday, and my ma threw him a sort of big giving thanks kind of party for his friends and family in the area…she asked me to help with some of the cooking and i happily obliged.

especially since i got to know the secret behind her beef tongue.
basically it is a matter of peeling the tongue, marinating, preferably overnight, in soy sauce, calamansi (lemon only as a last resort), garlic, and fresh pepper; browning to sear the flesh and prevent over drying; sauteeing in onions and mushrooms, with some of the broth from the peeling in pressure cooker part up to the point of almost tenderness;
browning butter and flour into a medium dark roux; browning the thinly cut slices of tongue in the roux, then putting back into the reduced and somewhat thickened broth with a bit of sherry or Madeira if necessary.

arrange thinly sliced tongue into a platter and pour some of the mushroom-roux-sherry sauce over the top…

at first, with all the steps necessary for this dish i was tempted to skip the part about the roux but remembering how my ma’s dish turned out i just had to complete all the steps to the last detail. i only skipped the serve w/ mashed potato part, i think my kids have had a potato overload by now…

chicken in red pepper sauce

the original plan was to make arroz con pollo again. kids’ favorite you know.
but i didn’t have any parboiled rice. Uncle Ben’s, in particular.

so off to the recipe bookshelf, straight to the Spanish section. i had red peppers, chicken, tomatoes…hmmmm. no more potatoes! kids ate all the fingerlings with their last steak dinner….then send husband off to buy yukon gold, they really truly love potatoes.

the dish: just a wonderful choice for an easy yet filling and satisfying Sunday supper.
chicken with red pepper sauce
and the secret ingredient…
smoked paprika

pollo en chilindron: (from Recipes from a Spanish Village, Pepita Aris, Simon and Schuster, 1990)

3 &1/4 pound chicken, quartered and backbone removed, cut up (i used leg quarters, divided)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsps. paprika (i used smoked)
2 tbsps. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb. smoked or raw ham, chopped
3 sweet red peppers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup drained canned tomatoes (i used fresh)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

rub salt and paprika into the chicken. heat the oil in a flameproof casserole into which the chicken will fit comfortably and put in the chicken portions, skin side down. fry over medium-low heat, turning until golden on all sides.
while the chicken is cooking, distribute the onion and diced ham in the gaps in the casserole and fry, stirring every now and then, until soft. chicken gives off its fat, so you may be able to remove a couple of spoonfuls of oil at this point. remove chicken to a platter and cover w/ aluminum foil.

pour boiling water over the chopped sweet pepper and let it soak 10 minutes. drain well, then blot on paper towels. if you have a food processor, pulse briefly (this is not crucial, however). [or use chopped bottled roasted red pepper.]
add the garlic, sweet peppers and chopped tomato to the pan, with the dried chili flakes. return the chicken to the pan. cook and let it reduce 4-5 minutes, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, then cook covered 10 minutes.
serve with oven fried yukon gold potatoes.

fresh sweet corn ice cream

corn ice cream w/roasted corn kernels and lime zest
from the farmers’ market, these food finds:
how'd they do that???fingerling schmingerling potatoes...
and the sweetest juiciest corn on the cob…
what to make?
why, corn ice cream of course!

based on chef Joseph Margate(of Clink Restaurant, Liberty Hotel, Boston)’s recipe, published in the Boston Globe Food section, August 20, 2008.

one sweltering summer afternoon, picture this:

town fiesta, Orani, Bataan. hot and sticky and sunburnt from a day at the beach chasing waves and dipping juicy pakwan into the sea-salty waters of Mariveles, a 7 year old girl marveling at…

a long long glass-topped, dining table surrounded by wide open windows, and perhaps three dozen relatives, great-aunts, titas and titos, first and second cousins,
flies being swatted away by blue and red plastic shreds tied together in sticks,
a wonderful meal of steamed crabs, tubs of oysters, platters of grilled fish, sinigang, pancit palabok from the Orani town market, lechon de leche special ordered, bibingka and puto and…

then tita Lu rolls out a serving cart with a large bucket of homemade pinipig (roasted pounded rice) and corn and cheese ice cream.
aaaah! sublime! freshly churned carabao(water buffalo)’s milk, when i close my eyes i can still see it and taste and crunch on it.

i was tempted to add bits of cheddar cheese into chef Margate’s recipe but i figure i’ll give my children their first taste of just-corn ice cream, and break it to them gently, that cheese has to be in it. i’ve seen Mexican grilled corn rolled in butter and crema and sprinkled with manchego cheese, and i’m toying with incorporating it into an ice cream, just like that fiesta lunch years and years ago.

i only added back some of the strained corn, about 2 tbsps. worth, for a bit texture, and used the juice of half a lime. this earned a thumbs up from everyone, and for the encore, maybe the manchego cheese bits.

so that’ll be a future project, especially with the abundance of freshly harvested corn this summer….
sweet corn ice cream

sweet corn ice cream:

5 ears of fresh corn on the cob, preferably from the farm stand, shucked
3 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of half-&-half
1 cup of sugar
6 egg yolks
pinch of sea salt
juice of one lime

in a large heavy saucepan, combine the corn, sugar, cream and half-and-half. heat the mixture stirring constantly, tuntil it is hot but not boiling. remove from the heat.
in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and salt, slowly whisk in about q/e cup of the hot cream mixture. gradually pour the warmed yolk mixture back into the sauce pan, whisking constantly.
return the sauce pan to low heat. stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook the custard for about 8 minutes or until it coats the back of a the spoon. pour the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

seat a strainer over a bowl. strain the corn to extract all the juices.
discard the corn. stir the lime juice into the custard.
freeze the custard in an ice cream maker, using the manufacturer’s directions. transfer the ice cream to a plastic container and freeze until firm.

“at Clink the chef serves the ice cream topped with a sprinkling of freeze-dried corn kernels and a crisp cookie…”
–Lisa Zwirn.

i think grilled corn kernels and lime zest works too!

this site is best seen with firefox!

husband said my site looks really weird on internet explorer.
yah i know that i says to him. firefox is the thing to view it with.
so he says you’d better tell everyone.
so here it is.
this site is best seen with mozilla firefox…

and on a happy weekend note…
our farmers’ market is only on on Fridays, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
so i rushed over there at 12:30, in between my errands and picking up #2son’s friend for a play date….just to get my first glimpse of it, all this summer. it’s been an unexpectedly busy summer, and we’ ve only just started to settle back in. and now… it’s almost over?! :faint:
#2son’s summer camp
swimming lessons, simultaneously
trip to California for dad’s 73rd birthday
trip to Baltimore and Washington DC
family week, daily “smorgasbord” of food and family reunions for mom-and-dad-in-law’s 60th wedding anniversary
daughter’s summer theater camp
and finally, the hazy lazy last days of summer vacation.

Asian ladies with gucci and louis vuitton replicasbags haggling for honey….and the honey retailer trying to be patient: “the price is what it is…” i think both sides need some cultural orientation :drunk: .

a place to get pastries, bread, goat cheese, fingerling potatoes, freshly harvested corn, tomatoes, squashes, blueberries, stone fruits, fresh cut flowers…hopefully squash blossoms for stuffing and frying and stewing with marinara sauce…i hope the nice farmer guy remembers for next week. let’s see, shall we?

raspberry-blackberry-lime drizzle cake

this is the recipe that will surely test your patience.
the moment i saw this on celia K i immediately bookmarked it as a great summer treat for my kids. i wish i could say i used local berries though…the farmers’ market in our town isn’t open till tomorrow, and i just couldn’t wait to make it.

and we couldn’t wait for it to settle down and cool off, the aromas wafting from the oven just were too tempting.
the hardest part of the recipe was converting the weight measures. i had to use my countertop scale.
to keep the berries from sinking down to the bottom, i dredged them lightly in a tiny amount of the flour.
as i prepared the kids’ lunches i also didn’t see that the cake was browning very quickly. instructions call for covering up with the pan with aluminum foil should that happen.

makes you wish for berries all year long…now if only this cake counts as one of the five-a-day fruit-and-vegetable serving requirement…!

(the original recipe is from BBC Good Food. i substituted blackberries for blueberries, and omitted the three tablespoons of lime juice for the cake batter).
poke the cake all over (i used a metal barbecue skewer)…
…before spooning over the “lime syrup drizzle.”

eggplant torta

eggplant torta
i can’t believe i haven’t recorded the recipe for stuffed eggplant (tortang talong), my favorite cozy comfort food of all.

the men in my family vetted their wives by testing their cooking prowess in the department of favorite dish cooked by my mother category.
for my #1brother i think it was bulalo or bone marrow boiled dinner. wife didn’t cook, so i think her employing the right cook was the criterion.
#2 brother loved “lamang buche“, my mom’s dish of ground meat with cubed potatoes, olives and raisins. his wife had to seek lessons from mother in law to perfect it.
my dad sorely tested my mom whenever she cooked adobong pusit (squid in vinegar stew), constantly returning the bowl to the kitchen, “cook it again!” i think my mom deserves a halo for persevering and enduring.
if i were a man (which in childhood i often wished i were, in moments of seething rage when i noticed the brothers getting all the attention) i would have used the tortang talong as my dish.
torta in Spanish means cake but in my paternal grandmother’s repertoire, torta refers to a dish cooked in beaten egg. others probably call this dish rellenong talong, which translates more correctly into stuffed, but i’m using our family’s name for it.

hehe i think it’s probably very telling that i married a non-Pinoy guy….

tortang talong eggplant omelette???:
just broil eggplants, preferably the Japanese or Asian Variety which is smaller and thinner than the Italian kind.
lightly broil with olive oil and make a few slashes across. broil or grill until charred and soft.
let cool.
meanwhile saute garlic, onions or shallots, tomatoes, and ground pork (or other ground meat, like beef, turkey or chicken). season with salt and pepper. you can also add fresh or dried thyme, oregano, or basil, this recipe is quite flexible.
let the meat mixture cool.
beat the eggs.

heat up a shallow nonstick skillet with vegetable oil. open up the eggplant, taking care to keep the skin flat and attached to the stem; alternatively, if you don’t want the skin, scrape off the inner part and mix with ground pork and beaten egg and fry like an omelette. i like the skin on, so i set the whole, cut-up, opened-
up eggplant on the skillet, arrange the ground meat, and pour the beaten eggs on top. carefully spoon back the eggs on top of the meat, then flip, using two spatulas, and cook the other side until set.

serve with the sawsawan of chili, garlic, vinegar; banana or tomato catsup work well too.

broiled eggplant

sawsawan dip

nutella tart

a wedge of nutella tart
PICT0009nutella tart

it happened many years ago.
after what seemed like a day and a night, with a stopover in Bangkok, i landed in Brussels. alone. not speaking a word of French or Flemish.
i was to meet up with my sister to join a tour group in London, but was not able to procure a visitor’s visa in time.
so i had to make my way from the airport to a youth hostel near the City Center for one night, and then join them in Brugges.

which leads me to how i first tasted nutella for breakfast the next day, as a spread for bread.

i’d never had anything chocolatey on bread before, and that was it. hook, line and sinker, i fell for it.

i borrowed “Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme” written by Dorie Greenspan from the public library because of this recipe.
now my sons are raving about the tart they’ve called “heavenly” with their favorite chocolate-hazelnut flavor.
the cookie tart dough is quite tricky to work with but just a perfect foil for the filling: all buttery and nutty with almond powder.
we’ll see about daughter who’s away on a sleepover: she’s not too crazy about hazelnuts, although she too loves nutella especially on pancakes…

nutella tart:
1 baked cookie tart dough*, in a 9-inch springform pan

2/3 cup nutella
4 3/4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, melted over simmering water in a double boiler
1 large egg, lightly broken up with a fork
3 large egg yolks
2 tbsps. sugar
7 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and cut into large pieces

center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375F.
spread the nutella evenly over the bottom of the crust and set it aside while you make the ganache.

using a small whisk or rubber spatula, stir the egg into the chocolate, stirring gently in ever widening circles and taking care not to agitate the mixture–you don’t want to beat air into the ganache. little by little, stir in the egg yolks, then the sugar. finally , still working gently stir in the warm melted butter. pour the ganache over the nutella in the tart shell. scatter the toasted hazel nuts over the top.
bake the tart for 11 minutes–that should be just enough time to turn the top of the tart dull, like the top of a cake. the center of the tart will shimmy if jiggled. remove the tart from the oven and slide it onto a rack. allow the tart to cool for at least 20 minutes or until it reaches room temperature.

*cookie tart dough recipe to follow…it is one tough tart to make! but well worth all the effort.

sour soup with miso, catfish and mustard greens

sinigang na kanduli at mustasa sa miso,
miso sinigang with <i>kanduli</i>
at the Chinese grocery store to pick up spinach and taro for our pork sour soup (sinigang), these two little beauties caught my eye. “kanduli” or Marine catfish cooked in miso sinigang soup was one of my favorite dishes cooked by my ma. in addition to the souring agent of tamarind extract or instant tamarind sinigang mix, miso is added for a deeper mellow note. also this is one sinigang that must be matched up with mustard greens; the usual greens are kangkong (water spinach) or talbos ng kamote (sweet potato tips) or pechay (bok choy).
all these ingredients are available at most Asian grocers.

now on to the cooking part. i don’t really recall eating this when i was a child; i think the first time my ma cooked it for me was when i came home to Manila after two years away; she prepared a lunch of my favorite dishes, mostly seafood, and something new to me, this soup.

i had to call her up for the specifics:
(no measurements, it all depends on the amount of fish and vegetables you have. just make sure to taste and season as you cook).

saute onion and tomatoes lightly in vegetable oil. add a little knob of crushed ginger. add about a quarter cup of miso (preferably the dark yellow brown kind, in this case “yamabuki”) and the fish. gently saute until fish is cooked. add water and bring to a low boil. add the tamarind extract or tamarind sinigang mix, and the mustard greens (washed thoroughly to remove sand and grit, and then sliced into bite size strips); season with salt and pepper if needed.
optional: add a cowhorn/long green pepper when the vegetables are nearly done. keep an eye on the greens-you want them crispy/crunchy, retaining a bright green color, yet cooked through.