Monthly Archives: April 2010

fish tales

you know that sensation when you can’t think of what to eat, and the kids only want something from that limited repertoire of spaghetti, sinigang, steak and potatoes?
mussels, "enselada"
this is one of my cures.
mussels in vinegar dressing (enseladang tahong, inspired by sybaritic diversions by Midge, blogging about a bonding bbq with delectable salads)….
then i got this craving for monkfish. click if you’re brave enough to peer into this frightful fish. Continue reading

bug off!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Mosquito Magnet. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you ever hated something so much you are driven to kill?
Oh, sorry, that sounds so violent, I am only referring to mosquitoes. See, I’ve had a lot of trouble, heartache, miseries, from this bug, the mosquito.
One summer my #2son was hospitalized because of cellulitis, due to a mosquito bite. Another summer, he was in the emergency room, due to cellulitis, from a mosquito bite. So i hope, you understand why I’m in a killing mood when it comes to these pesky insects. My kids and I were discussing how it’s the only bug we truly hate. We thought about the reasons why they even exist, and I taught them about the food chain and all that. You know, how they provide sustenance for the smarter more useful animals like bats and frogs and turtles and spiders.
But oh my goodness how many cookouts they’ve ruined! Our guests just literally evacuate to the indoors, to escape the tremendous nuisance of mosquitoes.
So it was quite heartening to read about a mosquito magnet review and see some genuine, sincere testimonials about how the ultimate mosquito trap truly works–with vivid pictures and factual reviews.
This tiny little bug delivers so much illness–dengue fever, West Nile Virus, malaria,
Eastern equine encephalitis virus…
Pardon my French. But!
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Birthday in Boston

my son celebrated his 21st birthday, and he chose this Boston institution to get legal.
Jacob Wirth, Stuart St., Boston
yeah 21 is the age when he can legitimately buy alcohol, lottery tickets, get into a casino….but i do believe and know my son is a very level-headed and intelligent guy and wouldn’t go overboard on those things.
knock wood.
but i’m here to tell you how much fun we had at Jacob Wirth & Co., on Stuart Street in Boston.
i’m not much of a sausage aficionado, but i am a bona fide beer nut, and i can only rave about the selection of Belgian and German and American artisanal brews they have.
well obviously i only had a couple of beers…..*wink*
we had researched before we went out to dinner (who doesn’t??) and determined what we’d order beforehand:

calamari at Jacob Wirth

potato pancake at Jacob Wirth
and potato pancakes for appetizers.
the kids picked sandwiches for dinner (something exotic for them! for dinner!):
angus cheeseburgers for the boys
kids love sandwiches
fried chicken BLT
fried chicken BLT for the daughter…
husband picked the sausages
sausage plate
and i had the Wiener Schnitzel with potato and dill dumplings :thumbsup: .
wiener Schnitzel w/ spaetzle dumplings

cake and champagne, at home!

“sizzling hot!”

spicy pork with coconut and chilies
the dish has contentious origins. is it an invention from a Manila restaurant, or an original dish from the Bicol region?
i first heard about it from dorm-mates and work colleagues at the Refugee Center in the bundoks of Bataan–but i never did get a chance to try.
the kids wanted Popeye’s fried chicken but i had a hankering for something different, something spicy, so i dug up several recipes from the web and checked the pantry for what i needed…a couple of fatty pork chops, coconut milk, ground turmeric (in place of fresh), bagoong alamang (fermented shrimp paste), and mounds of sliced fresh green chilies. i don’t dare call it “Bicol Express,” never having tasted the real thing myself. i’ll just say it’s pork with coconut milk, turmeric, bagoong and chili peppers.
it was truly zesty, and made me want to gulp it down with lots of hot jasmine rice and ice cold beer…

“best ever” carrot cake?

a bit wrecked….
the mission, and i did choose to accept it, was to conjure up a carrot cake by Wednesday.
it was supposed to be homemade, and not have walnuts, and not have any cream cheese touching it anywhere.
and since it was The Birthday Boy requesting it, i happily acquiesced (though i did flirt with the idea of ordering one from the European bake shop…just for a second).
i thought i’d make something different from the usual, especially looking for a recipe for carrot cake that starred only carrots: no pineapple, sweet potato, coconut, apple/applesauce…just the carrots.
whenever i stumble upon a recipe that says “best ever” it’s like a “throwdown,” a challenge that i take really personally.
so. a just-carrot recipe, check.
now for the frosting: green tea mousseline cream? chestnut whipped cream? lemon buttercream?
finally, getting down to the wire, i firmly decided on white chocolate ganache.
and it was a roaring success! The Birthday Boy, er no, the Birthday Man i should say, was terribly pleased.

“best ever” carrot cake, based on a recipe from Cakes, 1001 Recipes from Around the World, Reader’s Digest, 2003. Continue reading

deluxe chocolate walnut cookies

deluxe chocolate walnut cookie
this cookie and the fact that it has made it to the baby rambutan is a testament either to my hoarding instinct, or to my chocoholic proclivity.
or both.
i’ve had this recipe stored away for twenty years! wow. in Tagalog, “grabe.”
i also have a stash of chocolate that i “need” to use up. anyway, isn’t it firmly established by now that chocolate is REALLY REALLY good for you? and that you have to eat a certain amount of walnuts everyday? i don’t recommend eating more than one of these cookies a day, you’re on your own after you’ve baked these.
The Mezzaluna
for the love of chocolate walnut cookies ( a taste i first encountered when my Ma brought home a box of Mary See’s chocolates from San Francisco) i dug out this nasty looking guillotine-like contraption, the Mezzaluna chopper which i’d seen Nigella Lawson using to chop up herbs and nuts and various other ingredients. i barely use it, i think it is the most dangerous tool i have in my arsenal, worst than the Benriner….

by the by, why does BBCAmerica only show all the ghastly old reruns of Gordon Ramsay now? i mean, i admire the guy and all his recipes, just not the swearing and yelling. but isn’t there anything else from the BBC UK that is allowed to be shown in America? just griping…

from the Boston Globe, November 1990, on a feature about the best cookies from gourmet shops.
8 ozs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
tiny pinch salt
1 & 1/2 tsps. vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup walnut pieces not too finely chopped
2 cups semisweet large chocolate chunks
1 cup large milk chocolate chunks
(total chocolate: 14 ounces)

preheat oven to 350F.
line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone.
cream the butter and sugar and salt until light and well blended. stir in vanilla and egg. stir in flour and soda and mix well. fold in nuts and chocolate.
form into generous tablespoons of batter and press onto baking sheet.
bake 12 to 15 minutes until they are lightly golden and edges are browned. makes about 2 & 1/2 dozen cookies.

a hidden jewel

on the day we visited the graves to honor my kids’ great-grandparents….

the in-laws decided to be bold and daring and try out a “new” restaurant.
when we walked in we were a bit alarmed due to the strong scent of incense (they must have been praying to the ancestors too) and the scarcity of customers at that time, 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening.
the fish-head for the fish-head soup
i’m not sure if i was swooning from hunger, but i am sure that this fish head soup was the best:
the waiter had picked out a black cod and presented it in a bucket to my father-in-law, and it promptly flopped and flipped and almost escaped. a demonstration of freshness, no doubt about it.
the fish-head soup
milky, yet clear (i don’t quite know how to describe, i know), it tasted like the firm white flesh had been extracted and distilled into this sharp and gingery concoction. the fish head was cut up and served alongside, with mustard greens (it’s not on the menu though–but a special posted on the wall).
lazy Susan at South Garden
after the first soup course, we were stoked, and each dish successively and promptly put forth from the kitchens did not disappoint. my favorite that evening was the calamari in shrimp paste, pictured on the bottom right.

as the evening wore on the tables got filled and all around us were little families enjoying a Sunday dinner out. i only wished they’d turned off the two big screen televisions showing first a basketball game then “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” but that’s just me.

my tummy’s rumbling now, just thinking about it. i think it’s time we go back and sample the frogs’ legs, the seafood in taro pot, the pea pod stems in crabmeat, no, wait maybe the fried pork intestines…with hundreds of items on the menu, and specials posted on the walls, it’ll be a tough decision.

South Garden
217B Quincy Avenue
Quincy, MA
(617) 328-6628

a frame for the face

i started wearing them when i was ten years old, but i do remember that as a two year old waiting for my big sister to come home from school and walk through the iron gate, watching from the bedroom window grills and shutting first one eye, then the other, and marvelling at the difference in clarity.
the last pair split in two! and so once again it is time to pick out a new pair of eye glasses. i must have had a hundred pairs already in my lifetime, and i can tell you, i’ve had some funky pairs. i think my problem is that i don’t take too much time to fuss about choosing the right pair, when i know i should really take time. after all i wear it all day and everyday. i mean i’ve had octagon frames–at least twice!–that should give you a clue. perhaps, until my eyesight got truly bad, that was why i kept taking them off and only wore them to be able to see the blackboard, or to drive. naturally when contact lenses became popular i pounced on them.
as the children were born i found that i’ve had to rely on glasses exclusively due to the sheer lack of time and energy for maintaining contact lenses. i’m about to schedule the appointment with the optometrist, and i’m determined to be more careful in my frame selection.
if only i could have one pair for each day of the week…

i need help.

desperately seeking

Have you seen Sally Field lately?
She’s long been one of the most admired women on my list, along with Meryl Streep and Candice Bergen and Catherine Denueve.
The one thing they have in common that I most admire? The fact that they have chosen to go au naturelle.
I can easily spot who’ve gone the nip and tuck way, versus the ones that Hollywood cinematographers and lighting directors and whatever their titles might be, choose to mist up and conceal.
I think there’s so much more beauty and grace in ageing naturally compared to the surgically enhanced faces that look so stretched out and stiff they can’t even smile or express emotions anymore.
I think, that if you don’t smoke, and instead cover up with sunscreen, and live a life of moderation, that is, don’t over imbibe with the (ahem) toxins and poisons of beer and wine and rich food, and use skin care products
like a decent wrinkle cream with the proper retinoids and beta and alpha hydroxy acids and the all-important suncreen and high SPF factors, and get a good dose of exercise and fresh air and get rid of all the toxins in your life (human and non-human)….you just might make it to a dignified old age.

not-so-instant sisig

the craving just got too intense, too hot to handle.
i even ordered some from the one and only Pinoy restaurant in…my city? the state? the whole of New England?
it would have been good, except that they put a LOT of minced ginger in their otherwise delicious (and reasonably priced) sisig.
it took too long to pull out the finely minced pieces–don’t get me wrong! i like ginger, i love ginger!–just not in my sisig.
so of course, the only recourse, is to make some myself.
i first had mine, sizzling, at Trellis Restaurant–at the site which used to be my Uncle’s house.

there’s so much fun in the search for ingredients. (???) first you have to find a pork head. barring that, you find pork face/snout. the best sisig i had was in California, Ma-made, with fresh roasted lechon and the creamy pork brain mashed in.
impossible? then find some pork belly and ears to provide that unique crunchy chewy “makunat” texture.
i got lucky and found pork snouts. i just supplemented with a meaty pork belly, and the instant sisig packet,
and my fresh calamansi from California, and bottled labuyo juice,
and fresh chopped red onions. roast parboiled chicken livers stand in for the brains….

and the cravings have been satiated.
for now.
now where’s that sizzling platter?