Monthly Archives: January 2009

“Award-Winning Brownies”

we take this job seriously, the job of brownie baking and testing. after all we have three kids with discerning brownie palates.
so on the snow day allotted to us by the powers up there (the public school superintendent, i mean), we tested another brownie recipe, this time from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread, Cakes, Cookies, Bars, Pastries and More from New York City’s Favorite Bakery, by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree, Wiley.com.
"award winning" brownies
you will love these brownies if you like it deep-down-dark, in your face chocolatey, if you like it chunky (it has dark chocolate chips in the batter), and nutty (we used pecans since we’re all out of walnuts).
i say “we” not to be a royal pain but “we” as in me and my sous chef the #2son.

tasty oats

new and fancy granola bars
sometimes i just can’t take another bowl of oatmeal, even though it’s almost required eating. for variety i turn to granola bars but they seem to be just the same old same old flavor selections, and somehow taste too sweet (blame it on the tortuous years of sweet-tooth-taming i’ve endured :brokenheart: ).

coming soon to your supermarket shelves are these Quaker oats “true delights” bars: toasted coconut banana macadamia nut, dark chocolate raspberry almond, and honey roasted cashew mixed berry.
moist, flavorful, and chunky with nuts and fruits–my kids and i heartily approve :wave: !

fun & personalized gifts

there’s a new baby in our family!
husband’s nephew welcomed their third daughter–technically we are in the grandma and grandpa generation now. sweet!
we are looking for a present to send to Montreal where they live and i found Threadsmith.com that does
custom embroidery for all sorts of goodies. more than just T-shirts and monograms, they embroider logos, insignias, and cute little clip art images–very detailed! and you can easily upload your own images. so maybe a baby blanket with a cute little French bulldog? hey wait a minute i want that, maybe with a button-down shirt or a pique polo shirt. sure beats wearing that polo playing pony rider logo…. :fryingpan

Japanese cheesecake, in two takes

i guess my obsessive compulsive cheesecake disorder kicked in again.
i just love cream cheese. ever since i first tried it on graham crackers as a little kid. then i tried cheesecake, the original New York cheesecake, and made my first one, and served them at parties–imagine my disappointment when i found out not everyone liked creamy-cheesy desserts, that’s being so shamefully ego-centric, isn’t it?, and especially not my rather large family of in-laws. (they think it’s too rich and sinful).
so i only occasionally made them for the kids, who thankfully inherited that gene, in as many variations i could find. bittersweet chocolate orange, New York style, triple chocolate, pumpkin, and so on. (the search button will lead you through this maze of a blog of mine).
then i saw a photo here, of Japanese cheesecake.
it made my mouth water.
immediately i searched for a recipe and found it here, and photo-how-to’s, gorgeous photos!, here.
coincidentally, cream cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese, is on sale this week. stars and planets are aligned.
take one: it rose up lofty and mighty…it rose up too much in my springform pan. mistake! water seeped in through the double layers of foil (it’s supposed to bake in a bain mairie)it needed a parchment paper collar to contain it. cracks, seismic cracks.
Japanese cheesecake, take one
(made me think of dried shiitake mushroom caps.)

Japanese cheesecake disaster?Japanese cheesecake
the texture was oh so fluffy and light, melts-in-your-mouth-tender, and just slightly tangy from the cream cheese scented with lemon zest and juice. it reminded me of Goldilocks mamon, with a lemon twist.

so due to the aforementioned OCD above, i just had to do it again. take two.
egg yolks
separating the eggs (one of my favorite tasks) i noticed the disparity of the yolk colors. these are from brown eggs which is more prevalent here than white. (brown hens=brown eggs).
Japanese cheesecake, take two
i used a souffle dish, with its higher sides i thought i’d have the lofty rising covered, but i added on a parchment collar just in case.
i made sure i did the recipe exactly the same way, but i noticed that this time my egg whites didn’t form soft peaks readily. this could be due to the kitchen temperature, humidity, or what not, but i suspect someone might have splashed a drop of water into the egg whites. maybe.
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the texture was more dense and pudding-like, giving more resistance to the bite. still it was as lemony and creamy in taste as the first.
i must confess i like the mamon-spongey take one better.

chicken and basil fried rice

our bodies are almost cold and numb now from the unforgiving winter (we all forgot how cold it normally is in Boston and vicinity). we do get a little reprieve and they’re calling it a non-snow weekend.
comfort food, hot and spicy, it is then.
this is one dish that all three kids like. we usually order this whenever the mood for Thai food strikes us, at the little take-out place round the corner. my usual complaint is the sparsity(sparseness?), scarcity, kakuriputan?, of ingredients. i mean come on! i can understand skimping on shrimp and shellfish but chicken? tasty as it may be, and easy as it is to just call for an order, i thought i’d try and make this at home. anyway a bunch of fresh Thai or holy basil is only about $1.50 a bunch.
and i can drown it in chicken.
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strip away the leaves from the stems…the scent is intoxicating.

i didn’t put in a lot of chilies. i chopped up a third of a serrano chili and then the rest i put in a dipping bowl with a squeeze of lemon and fish sauce.
jasmine rice
make sure rice is cold and dry and fluffed, to keep grains separate.

i forgot to take pictures until we had finished dinner–this is the portion we saved for our college boy.
chicken basil fried rice

i used skinless and boneless chicken thighs. (or use sliced lean pork or beef if you like).
this recipe was the guide, except that i decided to marinate the sliced bite size chicken in light soy, dark soy, fish sauce, and sugar instead of adding them on later.
over medium high heat, in a wok, stir fry 6 finely crushed garlic cloves until golden, then add the chicken. stir fry till the chicken is no longer translucent. add shallots, onions, chilies, green onions.
mix well then add the rice. season to taste then add the basil leaves and toss it about for a bit until the leaves are wilted.
your kitchen should be very fragrant at this point.

Portuguese fish stew

i got giddy, i still am giddy!
yes a seismic change has come to America, swept away by that big green helicopter :drive: .
i got goosebumps seeing the millions of people cheering at the National Mall and beyond.
i got frightened when Mr. and Mrs. Obama got out of the armoured Cadillac to walk some lengths of Pennsylvania Avenue. what a relief everytime they climbed back in! did you see how thick those car doors were?

all the jubilation sure cheered us up after a weekend where six inches of snow fell Sunday, then after it was all cleared away, another six inches fell overnight and everyone went, “what the ????”

after what seemed like non-stop shoveling, husband still was determined to make this Portuguese fish stew he stumbled upon, a recipe from the hunky Tyler Florence via foodnetwork.

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fortifyingly delicious! just what we need for this wicked snowy winter.

the stew had chorizos, potatoes, little neck clams, fish fillets; it was our first time to try kale, which we liked immensely in this stew. husband followed the recipe faithfully except for using dried herbs instead of freshly snipped; he took note that next time he’ll add the fish at the last possible moment so it won’t disintegrate and disappear into the stew, and i pleaded with him, less salt please Mr. T! my heart, my heart!

Portuguese Fish Stew, a la Tyler Florence (from foodnetwork)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound linguica or chorizo sausage, sliced in chunks
5 sprigs fresh thyme sprigs
1 handful fresh oregano, hand torn
2 bay leaves
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, sliced
3 quarts chicken broth
1 pound kale, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen Littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/2 pound perch, cod, or bass fillets, skin and pin bones removed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

heat the oil in a heavy 4 to 6-quart pot over medium flame. add the onions, garlic, and sausage; cook, stirring with wooden spoon, until the sausage renders out some of its fat and the onions are soft. toss in the herbs and then the potatoes, stir that around for a minute to coat in the oil. pour in the chicken broth and bring up to a simmer. add the kale, season with salt and pepper. cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are nearly tender.

uncover the pot and add the clams; simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until the clams open. add the fish and continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until the fish is cooked. garnish with chopped parsley and drizzle with olive oil. ladle the stew into shallow bowls. serve with rustic garlic bread or other crusty type bread for dunking.

the tunnel of fudge cake

tunnel of fudge cake
we are smothered.
ice, snow, and then more snow on top of it all. i keep myself sane by daydreaming of the things i’m going to do once (if ever?) it warms up, i’ve got to keep hope alive!! amen!
buy a new kettle grill! charcoal! set out the patio furniture! the swing! plant new herbs and vegetables!
over and over i visualize these things, as i drive through the brown and grimy muddy snow, windshield wipers swooping like crazy batty demented eyelashes.

so being cooped up indoors by a snowstorm, again— husband: only 5 inches. not much. me: only? ONLY?! ever the optimist, he considers shoveling good exercise, and i look to him for inspiration so i’ll survive this mad winter, brain intact 😆 —
i made another chocolate cake.

i know, i should create a category here for chocolate all on its own, since i like to bake the latest intriguing recipe i find. this one caught my eye for its title and its premise/promise: a mysterious tunnel of fudge is formed in the middle as it bakes. wow, i thought, sort of like a gigantic Bundt-size molten chocolate cake instead of several tiny ramekin portions. it’s a Pillsbury bake-off champ of a recipe too!
tunnel of fudge Bundt cake
Bundt cake flipped out, unscathed! yehey for my assistant chef, #2son, who buttered and floured the pan extra-enthusiastically. he also confessed, he loves cracking the eggs for me.

tunnel of fudge cake
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups margarine or butter, softened
6 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 1/4 cups all purpose or unbleached flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (i used Droste brand, processed with alkali)
2 cups chopped walnuts
glaze (which i did not make, since it is already quite sugar-laden :drunk: and there’s moistness in the tunnel…)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 to 6 teaspoons milk

preheat oven to 350°F. grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan or 10-inch tube pan. in large bowl, combine sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar; blend well. by hand, stir in flour and remaining cake ingredients until well blended. spoon batter into greased and floured pan; spread evenly.

bake at 350°F. for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is set and edges are beginning to pull away from sides of pan. cool upright in pan on wire rack 1 1/2 hours. Invert onto serving plate; cool at least 2 hours.

in small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. spoon over top of cake, allowing some to run down sides. store tightly covered.

notes from the cook:
make sure oven temperature is accurate (i used an oven thermometer…er ahem two thermometers to be exact, just to be obsessive about it).
measure ingredients exactly.
sift the confectioners’ sugar…do not skip this step!
*you need those two cups of walnuts.

welcome back, comments! and all about NYC

it was getting really really lonesome ’round here.
i must confess, i have gotten kind of blocked, and discouraged, from blogging. i think it had a lot to do with the monetizing and the selling out of the blog to ads and sponsored posts. i forgive myself though, and hopefully my readers, all five (six?) of you :thumbsup: forgive me too. one must do, what one must do.
i feel kind of guilty, and an ingrate of the worst sort, about selling out, because i’ve reaped quite a few rewards already, cash-and kind-wise. so i will try my best to make it not too irritating to my loyal following (heehee, pagbigyan niyo na lang ako, indulge me!) and make them short and sweet, the paid posts i mean.

now it won’t be lonely anymore…because, thanks to my webNinang/Godmother and webSista/Neighbor i have solved the comments problem! wheeeee….. and the cause, shamefully, was one of the codes i had installed to monetize the blog. code begone!!! :wizard: et voila, my cute smilies and comments section are back, and now to make up for all that…the post about our recent trip to Noo Yolk.
i’ve decided that i really really like to bite…the Big Apple!
first bite out of the Big Apple
my first bite, age 18, a thousand years ago, with my old 110 camera
i can’t believe it now, but somewhere along the way, 6 years after the above photo, rolling stone that i was, i lived in one of its boroughs for two years. lived and breathed and WORKED.
that is a big deal to me, now that i am a country bumpkin. i think my whole family too–we were quite overwhelmed by the masses and masses and crowds of people walking around Times Square, craning our necks up to look at the bill boards.
intoxicating Times Square
my #2son got a right proper headache “too big, Mom, too many people!” (cured by a huge salty hot pretzel from a street vendor’s cart).
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we had a whirlwind trip, i couldn’t really focus on it due to the Christmas rush but husband did and booked us a little weekend mini break…it was just what we needed!
gas prices were low that week (they are inching up higher and higher again, ever menacingly!) so we journeyed down during the pre-New Year’s extravaganza weekend.
there being five of us it’s always a challenge to find accommodations at an acceptable price with no crimping on comfort and convenience. so we always look to New Jersey and this time around we got into Homewood Suites. it fit the bill quite nicely, thank you very much! a brand new suite hotel, with free breakfast and the kind of service we like: no nonsense and hospitable, free breakfast, no frills but no shortcuts either. dinner was at the Yamada in nearby Rutherford.
sashimi from Yamada, Rutherford, NJ
perfectly pristine sushi and sashimi for four of us, and udon soup noodles for the 5th one of the family who won’t touch raw fish yet.
and it was just a short drive away from Lincoln Tunnel and the adrenalin rush of Manhattan.

one of the lunches was at Petite Abeille (44 W.17th Street) click the link for other locations in Manhattan.
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a Tintin-nabulous lunch
for lunch it cost us $80 plus drinks and tip…for fancy sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese. but for my pork sausages with stoemp (mashed potatoes with leeks and cream), the ambience and great service (that magical combination of non-obtrusive attentiveness we so crave for–you know, water glasses always filled, needs anticipated, yet no attitude) and the Tintin posters and Captain Haddock statue on the wall–it was well worth it, and yeah, all my three kids have read the books and know all about the billions of bilious blistering barnacles.
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Captain Haddock keeps watch

we met up with my old friend and new celebrity Chito for dinner at Renee’s in Woodside…for Pinoy home cooking:
sisig, from Renee'ssisig, barbecue, pancit palabok andhalo halo. quite adequate for a quick fix, the atmosphere is downright homey and raucous and noisy, but you’ll get what you want if you want simple Pinoy food served no frills and no fuss.
Renee's, Woodside, NYC

the day we went back to Boston we stopped by the Japanese market, Mitsuwa, in Edgewater, NJ. i was so stunned and overwhelmed by it all, i forgot to take pictures!!! unbelievable! but i did remember to pick up some yuzu juice and Sapporo beer on sale for the New Year’s eve celebrations… on our way out we discovered the Quaker Monk parrots who’ve colonized in New Jersey.
Quaker Monk parrots of Edgewater, NJ

i spotted them right away when we were stopped at a red light…their distinctive screeching and bright green and blue feathers were unmistakable.
quite amazing! we saw their stick nests in the billboards, trees, and power lines (worry worry worry)….they’re so beautiful, and therefore it’s just marvelous that they’ve survived the NJ “wilds”…more power to them.
besides our fervent wishes for the gasoline prices not to hike up too high, we hope we’ll be able to go back and sample the brand new Jollibee about to open on Roosevelt Avenue and to revisit Edgewater NJ… i still have to bring my kids to a Peking Duck House and we want to go back to Flushing, NY for some more tripping on dimsum and Asian delights.

orange pound cake

so how’s the new year going, all five days so far?

did you make a new year’s resolution?

i think I just want make it through 2009, alive, and financially, in the black.
i’m not resolving to lose weight anymore, it seems to be an impossibility at this point in my life. i was grateful for my female female doctor saying that i’d done well gaining just two pounds, instead of the usual ten pounds gained every year by women of my age group…it’s all about fitness and health! :drunk:
and if not wealth, then just financial viability.
that’s why i couldn’t bear to buy a pound cake for new year’s eve fondue. it’s quite expensive for its size compared to a homemade one, but this recipe yields a big loaf comparable in texture to the popular Sara Lee pound cake which, when cubed, is just perfect for chocolate fondue dipping.
i made a marbled one this year, using Callebaut white chocolate and Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate.
for the pound cake i turned to Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, from my home to yours (“rum drenched vanilla cakes,” orange version).
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recipe? email me….i still haven’t figured out how to solve the “no comment” problem! soweeee….