Monthly Archives: October 2008

squidly spaghetti

certainly not for the squeamish.
if you have to deal with whole squid that is. to me, finding freshly thawed previously frozen squid is like discovering a vein of gold in the back yard, because i can remember a distant time when i lived in a little village in upstate New York when there was none to be found. not a shrimp, fresh fish, or oyster was to be had.
i never take it for granted no sir!

i guess it is just not typical fare for a majority of Americans–i once met a New Jersey boy raised on peanut butter and jelly and potatoes and he told me squid was fishing bait! tsk tsk tsk.

whenever i came home to my Ma in Manila she always made sure there was adobong pusit on the table for my first meal back. hands down the best way to have pusit–freshly caught.

so, feeling that urge for a squid binge after chatting with my old friend Carole who told me about Saba squid with soy sauce and chili, which i did not find in my Asian grocery, i decided to buy a couple of pounds of fresh squid instead and to cook this squid and spinach and pasta dish that we used to order from an Italian restaurant near us….based on a recipe from Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey (of London River Cafe fame)’s Italian Two Easy(i used spinach instead of their zucchini).

it’s truly a revelation!
now i’ve discovered marjoram, which mixed with lemon zest and juice, elevates squid into fragrant and most unfishily unsquidly heights.
1 lb. squid
1 bag spinach, 12 ozs. (or 1 lb. zucchini, sliced, salted, rinsed, drained)
2 garlic cloves
1 dried hot chile
1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps. fresh marjoram leaves or 2 tsps. dried
11 ozs. spaghetti

prepare the squid by pulling away the head and tentacles from the body. cut off the tentacles and squeeze out the beak. open the body out into a flat piece and scrape away the soft interior pulp. finely slice the body. separate the tentacles. wash and pat dry.

peel and finely slice the garlic. crumble the chile. grate the zest of the lemon finely, then squeeze out the juice.
heat a large, thick bottomed skillet, add 3 tbsps. olive oil, and when smoking hot, add the squid and dried marjoram, if using, like i did… (otherwise add fresh marjoram with the spinach). stir briefly, then add salt, pepper and chile, followed by the garlic. stiry fry just to brown the squid. add the spinach, lemon juice and zest, (and the fresh marjoram). stir. remove from heat.

cook spaghetti per instructions then drain and add to the squid mixture. toss, and serve with drizzled olive oil.
(i also sprinkled a tiny bit of romano cheese on mine)….

Truffade: skillet cooked potatoes and cheese (and bacon! yum!)

a specialty from the Auvergne.

“whoever decided that potatoes, cheese and bacon should go together???”–said #1son, home from college, scrounging around the kitchen, looking for something to eat. he said it in a somewhat demanding tone, so i braced myself for a complaint.

“…must have been a genius!” he continued.

this is a sinfully savoury side dish, just perfect for a sizzling steak hot off the grill pan, or i imagine, it would do very well paired with that roast beast you’re planning to cook this Thanksgiving.

i wanted to scoop it up and gobble it up like ice cream! penitence the next day meant extra laps in the pool.

the recipe calls for 8 ozs. of Gruyere, (or Cantal cheese), and i only had about 5 ozs. so i filled in the rest with finely grated firm Cheddar from Vermont.
i found that the mixture got too thick before the potatoes were fully done so i added a little splash of milk to facilitate the stirring.

recipe painfully extracted from a box in the November 2008 issue of Saveur magazine.


skillet-cooked potatoes and cheese

2 lbs. new red or waxy potatoes, sliced thinly 1/16th inch
1/4 cup canola oil
3 strips of smoked bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices (heehee i doubled the bacon, i used 6!)
8 ozs. grated Gruyere
8 ozs. farmers’ cheese (such as Friendship brand)
1 clove garlic, minced finely
sea salt and pepper to taste
finely chopped chives

place potatoes in a bowl of cold water, set aside. heat canola oil in a 12″ cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. add bacon and cook, stirring, until its fat has rendered, about 6 minutes.
drain potatoes in a colander; add to the skillet. season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally and crushing potatoes into small chunks with a wooden spoon, until potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. add grated Gruyere, farmers’ cheese, and garlic to skillet; stir to combine. reduce heat to medium-low; cover.
cook, scraping bottom of skillet with a wooden soon, until cheese is melted and the potatoes are mashed, about 5 minutes.
stir vigorously and season with salt to taste.
sprinkle with chives and pepper to taste.

raspberries on cheesecake squares

sugar on raspberries
this is my official denial-that-summer-is-really-really-over dessert.
sigh. i have to wear all these layers and layers of clothes and the heavy clunky shearling boots for the next, what?, 6 months? *bitter*bitter*bitter* :melodramatic:

so the best way to cheer up is to macerate some fresh raspberries (at rock bottom bargain prices! woo hoo :bouncy) in sugar and lemon (or calamansi, as i did) and plop them on top of cheesecake squares.

because i need a sweet and hopeful reminder that summer will come back. eventually. :drunk:
raspberries on cheesecake

recipe based on “minted blackberry cheesecake squares” from Gourmet magazine, August 2008.

lucky birthday boy

lucky boy
WOW, he’s 9!

the eve of his birthday, the 22nd, he won a gingerbread house full of goodies at his school’s pasta supper night. that explains the big wide grin! it is from the famous Ginger Betty’s, featured in food network for their intricate and tasty gingerbread creations.

i was so thrilled i forgot to take pictures of him picking up his prize :fryingpan .
the teachers put on a superb supper, complete with bread and salad, drinks and desserts, with everything donated by corporate sponsors and the hard working teachers and staff.

yesterday i ended up with 66 cupcakes after i doubled Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “all occasion downy yellow cake” (from the Cake Bible), frosted with the other Rosie, Judy Rosenberg,’s easy buttercream frosting. and when i brought them to his classmates for a quick bite during snack time, the children were all amazed. i think most of them usually have grocery-store cupcakes…
66 cupcakes, a portion
i detected some budding foodies in the class (“hmmm, smells like butter!” “i taste whipped cream!” “THIS is frosting!” ) and they were very appreciative of the cold jug of milk i brought…

here are the recipes for those lucky enough to be allowed to bring cupcakes and treats to school. i’ve heard of more and more school districts banning baked goods and candy from school. the cupcakes guaranted to elicit bright smiley faces all around….
Continue reading

food from daisy

this is food that i could eat all day.

i was watching Daisy Cooks! over the weekend and i was growing faint from the combination of hunger and desire. years ago my Boricuan buddies Judith and Albert served me beans with potatoes. and there was Daisy Martinez, who gave the proper recipe. see, Albert’s version had Spam and salt pork, both of them really some of my most favorite flavors but sadly not very healthy at all.
Daisy’s version has ham cubes–a big improvement! i decided to go “whole hog” and cook the entire meal:

ham and beans and potatoes
(i had it for lunch, over white rice)
pink beans with ham and potatoes,habichuelas rosadas con jamon y patatas

yellow rice with corn, arroz con maiz,

and the sweetly named
chuletas de abuela, Grandma’s pork chops.
comfort food
this was our supper. forgot to garnish with cilantro. we. were. famished.

flavors that go so fantastically well together. i’m lucky that my grocery has a Spanish section and stocks alcaparrado and Spanish style tomato sauce and bitter orange marinade, but in a pinch it wouldn’t be hard to substitute hard-to-find ingredients.

some advance planning is required, as far as the pork chops are concerned: they need long marinating for maximum flavor. for the yellow rice, fresh corn on the cob is ideal but you can use frozen. that’s what i love about Daisy’s recipes–building up the complex layers of flavors can be easy if you have to take shortcuts, that is, using bottled sofrito and recaito and dry rub or marinade. recipes here

devilish chicken nuggets

i plead guilty.
yes, i bought 10 fastfood chicken nuggets last week. with the buffalo sauce for dipping, it was a very satisfying snack to munch on while waiting for my kids at the school parking lot.
i wasn’t able to convince my hungry high schoool freshmen passengers to have any (they were quite horrified! they’ve been brainwashed educated well against junk food…)
i felt really ashamed.
but i was hungry! and sometimes the craving for those sinful nuggets gets the better of me.
the next time the gnawing craving struck me again, i decided to fight back, by making these deviled chicken thighs.
devilish chicken
the recipe is from Gourmet, August 2008, and these are NOT fried but baked! the original recipe called for drumsticks but
i already had these boneless skinless thighs in the fridge. **i also inadvertently left out the 3 tbsps. melted butter meant to be drizzled over the cheese and panko coating…they still turned out quite well.

8 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, or 12 drumsticks
1/2 cup Dijon style mustard
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated coarsely
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
**(3 tbsps. melted butter, cooled)
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

preheat oven to 450F. set the oven rack to the upper third of the oven.
rinse the chicken and dry very well.
mix parmesan, panko, cayenne and salt and pepper.
coat the chicken with mustard, then dip into the cheese and panko mixture.

butter a baking pan and arrange the chicken in a single layer, set far apart.

bake for 30 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the chicken registers 180F. let rest 5 minutes before serving.

they cooked up crispy and tasty.
and they’re great in a sandwich too, with green leaf lettuce and tomatoes on whole-grain bread. healthy nuggets! who’d have thought? :detective:

here’s another take on deviled chicken, devilishly complicated but devilishly delicious!

eyeglasses for everyone

I had to get new eyeglasses and give the progressives another try–the ones from a couple of years ago were not doing me any good, I just couldn’t get used to them. I ended up either taking them off and tripping on things or getting dizzy. The optometrist persuaded me to give them another try, saying that the technology had improved in the last two years.
I was tempted to order contact lenses!
After having three babies though, contact lenses don’t fit my lifestyle anymore and so I focused on getting better and lighter and fashionable eyeglasses.
Lucky for our family we have insurance coverage but even then I ended up with a co-payment of $150, even with sticking to the plan’s selection (not too stylish, unfortunately).
I wish I had known about eyeglasses from!

Whether you need single lenses, bifocals, progressives, and those magical eyeglass-to-sunglass transforming ones (photochromic)…their prices that are so low you’ll go nuts in picking out the best fashion eyewear–maybe a fashion-mad girl can get one for every occasion?

They’re so with it, price wise and selectionwise, that the buzz reached Clark, a popular consumer advocate site.

They are able to keep prices down because they sell their own brand directly to the consumers.
I’d say these are perfect from children who are active or prone to losing their glasses–almost-painless replacement, right?

I wonder if these would look good on me?zenniglasses.jpg from the $8 selection!

strawberry-almond-yogurt cake

strawberry-yogurt-almond cake

sometimes it just happens that you have all the leftovers ingredients on hand, and magical googling instantly unearths the perfect recipe!

somehow this cake feels healthy, despite the three eggs in the recipe, due to the absence of that wicked bad butter…*sigh* i have to watch out for this now, and serve it less (no i am never going to substitute evil margarine either!) to my kids. we will still have butter for sure, but not as much. *sigh*sigh*sigh*

easy! based on the recipe from happy home baking follows… Continue reading

fortune and fame?

A few movies have been shot in and around Boston…has anyone noticed? Mystic River, The Departed, My Best Friend’s Girl, are just some of the recent and famous ones.
I have been on the lookout for wandering celebrities, particularly whenever Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to be in town…perhaps checking out the local dining scene? but have had no luck. Ricky Gervais was supposedly here, right here in my town, at the notorious and creepy granite quarry.
We know of a few people who have “lucked out” and gotten bit parts in some movie-making ventures here.
My son’s second grade teacher played a corpse, for one! She had to be in costume and waiting/lying around for seven hours but she had a lot of fun.
I’ve been mulling the idea of being a movie extra just for fun, but had not been brave enough, I mean, how do I know if the casting call is authentic or not? Well now there’sTalent6.

Visit, and call this number 800-493-9047 to talk to a manager, who knows, you just might be the one they are looking for to fill a restaurant dining scene or a face-in-the-crowd action sequence. I mean, after all they can’t hire a big name movie star for every part, Talent6 needs “real” people! And you get to experience the work that goes on behind the scenes!

beef stew, “mother’s specialty”

edamame, soy beans
i am so suffering from hypothermia right now! i can’t seem to shake off the sleepies. i often find myself nodding off at every turn. durn it i even feel so drowsy while swimming laps at the Y, it might be the first drowning-while-sleeping emergency in my town!

and the cold times call for soul-warming stews, like niku jyaga, “mother’s specialty” a quick and easy sake-soy-mirin flavored beef stew from Emi Kazuko’s “Japanese Cooking.”
i substituted edamame soy beans for the peas…my kids are just so suspicious of anything pea.

they come frozen in bags at the Asian grocery. i chose those still in pods, figuring, quite deludedly i’m sure, that they have less of the pesticides and toxins that might have soaked through from the growing and the processing.

i blanched them briefly in boiling water and then when cool enough to the touch, i podded them.

trouble was, everytime i turned around, the little pile got smaller. a ha! my youngest child was pilfering them!

you know, these edamame beans, you don’t even have to know that they’re good for you, they’re just so gosh-darn delicious you just gotta scarf them down. (hey why am i starting to sound like that VP candidate who doesn’t believe in science???)

simmered beef, Japanese flavor
thinly sliced beef rump bottom round roast, simmered with onions, carrots and potatoes in a soy-sake-mirin flavored broth. so wonderful topped over steamed short-grain rice with the flavorful gravy drizzled on top.