Sunday, July 31, 2005

IMBB#17: tasteTEA!

it was P.G. Wodehouse.
my lolo (grandpa) had a library where i loved to hang out as a child. it was there that i discovered all his Jeeves books. my lola (grandma) bought me Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott books. i read of the rituals and the pinky up and the white gloves and tea cakes and scones...i'd only ever encountered tea as a ginger brew to cure throat ailments before then.
that is why when i got my hands on my mother's teabags--they must have been Lipton--i started having them in big mugs with milk. powdered milk, more often than not. i remember experimenting with calamansi/native lemon squirts, then with milk, then together. ugh.
i met an Englishman who introduced me to Earl Grey. he used to send them up to me from Manila to the boondocks where i used to work, with instructions on adding "just a splash of milk," and thus was sealed my lingering love affair with tea.
then i married into a Chinese family. they drank it with their fancy lauriat-banquets! after every meal! i was told that it helped digestion immensely. with dimsum it is a must. husband canNOT have the dumplings and morsels without the tiny cups of tea. i learned how to summon more pots just by turning the lid just so....

clement of alacuisine is kindly hosting what promises to be days and days of posts on tea related dishes for this month's edition of Is My Blog Burning? #17.
tea-smoked duck legs and chicken eggs...this i first encountered in an ancient issue of Gourmet magazine found in our second apartment. i served it to my in-laws who pronounced it a winner and since then i've contributed it to many a family gathering.

for the same price as a whole duck, 6 duck legs proffer more meat and palatable skin, we now conclude.
roast 2 tbsps. coarse sea salt and 2 tbsps. peppercorns in a heavy saucepan or wok until fragrant. let cool and rub into 6 duck legs. cover tightly with foil, store in refrigerator overnight.

if you want the smoked eggs:
set 3 large eggs in a pot with cold water to cover by a half inch. turn up burner to medium and bring up to a boil. turn off the water and set the timer to 3 minutes.
immediately remove from heat and let run under a cold water tap. carefully peel the eggs and set aside to cool completely. soak in 2 tbsps. soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. sesame oil and 1/2 tsp. salt. turn eggs to coat evenly.

wipe off salt and peppercorns from duck legs.
steam duck legs over a rack, with water coming up to 3/4 inch in the pan, in a platter, for about 45 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160F. let cool completely to room temperature before smoking.

set duck legs and hard boiled eggs over rack in a roasting pan (or wok) with a tight fitting lid which has been fitted with aluminum foil. sprinkle 1/4 cup black tea leaves (i used oolong) and 1/4 cup raw long-grain rice, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 2 large pieces of dehydrated citrus peel. cover with a large piece of aluminum foil tightly then cover with the lid.

i used a cheap little single burner, OUTDOORS, because we do not have a ventilator/extractor hood. our 110 year old house cannot take it.

heat the burner up to high and smoke for about 4 minutes. the duck legs and hardboiled eggs should brown by then.

...and green tea ice cream! my all time favorite, one of many green coloured ice creams i adore...pandan and pistachio among them.
i tried this first in a Japanese sushi restaurant in lower Manhattan, and i have tried it deep-fried. once. the flavor is deep and smokey and leafy. an acquired taste yes, but quite addictive.

(from Gourmet, July 2002)

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp. salt
6 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsps. matcha (powdered Japanese green tea)

bring cream, milk, and salt to a boil in a 3 to 4 quart heavy saucepan and remove from heat.
whisk together eggs, sugar, and matcha in a bowl (tea will not be completely dissolved), then add 1 cup hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking vigorously. whisk custard into remaining cream mixture in saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spooon, until thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 170 F on an instand-read thermometer (do not let boil).
immediately pour custard through a fine sieve into a metal bowl, then cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. chill covered, until cold, at least 1 hour.
freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.
daughter's garnish is green tea pocky; we spirited away two madeleine cookies from big brother...perfect foil for the mildly bitter and smokey aftertaste of matcha.

thank you to celiaK for pointing out my error of omission of a very important step!!! steaming the duck legs....i've added it in italics above...mea culpa, so sorry, patawad po...*contrite*

Saturday, July 30, 2005

pinoy food news and a tasty nibble

i've stolen a quiet solitary moment. husband has taken the kids out for the afternoon. wheeee.
in between my good housekeeping moments i bring you some tidbits of Pinoy food news.

photo from the Globe

Rachel Kelso of Winthrop and formerly of Newton was featured in the Boston Globe with her riff on Filipino cuisine. her recipe forspicy ginger beef is based on the humble humba.

The Pilgrim is hosting the launch of the first Lasang Pinoy Food Blogging Event to commemorate a beloved hero, Benigno Aquino Jr., fondly called Ninoy by everyone. his tragic assassination on August 21, 1983 reverberates and resonates still throughout the archipelago. now more than ever we need to remember what he died for.
we hope to highlight the complexities of Filipino cuisine with this food event: how it is so much more than ingredients and processes, and how its preparation reflects values we adhere to, like loyalty, resilience, family, and humor.
everyone welcome! please check out the details on Karen's The Pilgrim's Pots and Pans.

"A time comes in a man's life when he must prefer a meaningful death to a meaningless life. I would rather die on my feet with honor, than live on bended knees in shame."
--Ninoy Aquino, from speech at his trial.

(from Aquino, World Leaders Past and Present)

the tasty nibble: fried wonton, by husband-ever-helpful.
just take your favorite wonton recipe (ground pork or chicken, shrimp, rehydrated black mushrooms, finely chopped water chestnuts, salt and white pepper) and deep fry. our children devour these as quickly as husband can serve them up. i like it with the following dip: Chinkiang vinegar or Chinese black vinegar, shredded ginger, light soy sauce and a drop or two each of chili oil and roasted sesame oil.

Friday, July 29, 2005

fishy dishes

if i could i'd eat fish and shellfish most of the time. *sigh* i keep trying to convince the kids there's more to fish eating than fried filleted unrecognizable seafood.
i put the recent fish dishes together in this post so it wouldn't seem too hodge podge. or is it too late? :)

another go at the gravlax recipe from my Swedish Finn friend, cathi.
only daughter tried it, at least. i thought it was great, and satisfied the craving brought on by the trip to Ikea New Haven.

Cantonese steamed fish
this is one of the whole fish, head and tail intact recipes they agree to try.

i zeroed in on the freshest fish (there was no English word though) displayed on ice at the Asian grocers, and immediately thought of steaming it, just like mother-in-law's dish. i dug out the voluminous "the food of China" for authenticity.

marinate cleaned, scaled, gutted whole fish in 2 tbsps. rice wine, 1 & 1/2 tsps. light soy sauce, and 1 tbsp. of finely chopped ginger for 10 minutes.
prepare 3 tbsps. finely shredded scallions, 2 tbsps. finely shredded ginger.

steam fish, along with its marinade, in a large wok or dutch oven with a tightly fitting lid, over simmering water, about 15 minutes (depends on the size of the fish. check for doneness by pricking with a fork--flesh should easily flake). lift fish out of platter onto serving plate and let rest.

heat 2 tbsps. vegetable oil to smoking hot. arrange shredded scallions and ginger over fish, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, and pour the heated oil all over the top.

stuffed roasted bangus (inihaw na bangus)

there's nothing like the bangus belly. it cooks up so sweet and luscious, whether smoked, in sinigang (sour stew), or marinated and fried (daing). my sister and i used to race to the table when our cook or mother made roasted stuffed milkfish. when she was out on study groups or with her barkada(posse/entourage?)...guess who won? *smirk*

i figured out the way to keep the belly whole : ask the fishmonger just to scale the milkfish. cut all along the backbone and proceed to cleaning (remove the gills and innards carefully to keep the belly intact). rinse well and salt thoroughly.
chop red onions and tomatoes (amount depends on the size of the fish) and season with salt and pepper. add bruised lemon balm leaves or cilantro or dill (optional).
stuff the belly and wrap with banana leaves or foil. if using leaves, tie all around with kitchen twine. roast over the charcoal grill or in a 425F preheated oven, or under a broiler, turning once, for a total of 20 to 25 minutes or until flesh easily flakes with a fork.

wrapped in banana leaves

serve with your favorite dip (mine--and my ate's--is vinegar, garlic, bird chili, salt and pepper.
others use soy sauce and calamansi/lemon).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

a refreshing cooling fruity drink, and a tag

have to do so many things at my friend thess said, you can tell the manager of the house does not have internet connection when it is meticulously clean.
so i have to destroy the evidence: lint, dustbunnies, murphyfur, and the rest you can just imagine!
meanwhile we are sweating it out in another heatwave so my kittens are very parched and scorched. must make cooling drinks and turn on the a.c.

"snow" maker

grated cantaloupe, simple syrup (two to one ratio of water to sugar, heated until sugar is dissolved, then chilled), and "snow" in summer.

this "homework" (aaayaaah, i thought i was done with all that? ;p ) is from dear beng of Dusseldorf (sali ko sa windowshopping benggay dear ha)
what are the things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play?
solitude is a precious commodity for me, so i have a lot of fun things i enjoy, as circumstances permit:
* i replace a stressful activity with a quiet trance-like chore, like folding laundry, cleaning the fish tank. am a multi-tasking mama.
*dicing, chopping, stirring, mashing and bashing. assembling the mise en place for a new dish takes my mind off stresses.
* swimming non-stop laps...the ultimate fantasy, for me! ahhh if only. it's just me and the water and concentrating on the strokes and not drowning. i'd build an Olympic length pool in the basement if i could...
* dancing, alone, stereo turned up, windows closed
* singing along, a la diva to regine, angela bofill, patti austin (my family all hie off to their corners, thus guaranteeing my solitude, heehee)
escaping into the Travel Channel or a compelling book
bad de-stresser, terribly hard to give up: potato chips and beer.

what lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level? make a list, post it in your journal.
cozaar, metoprolol, hydrochlorothiazide, champagne...oh you mean, not imbibables?
hmm. first, what causes stress for me?
happily the stress of my life is not much, it's just really "meeting deadlines" and being on time. i get distressed by visitors who drop in without warning because i'm a horrible housekeeper.
it's not good to be a clockwatcher, but i am one, sadly. plus i've had hypertension all my life it seems.
i just stop everything, and be quiet and meditate.
gaze at my babies, my fish tank, cuddle up cat heehee. i water my plants to relax. i look for a new recipe to tackle.

tag 5 friends and ask them to post it in their blogs.
oh oh. seems like everyone's been tagged already.
i don't know if he'll agree to a tag : braless,.
Karen so she'll stop and exhale and inhale slowly. i suspect she thrives on deadlines?
boks when she comes back from her holiday. all refreshed and tanned.
i have a couple of friends who aren't in blogworld i'd love to ask...

where i'd like to be: the best place in the world to de-stress...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

cookbook meme: tagged by sha!

i was given some homework by schatzli...i enjoy these things because i get to find out about my blog friends and i get to examine myself some more....

mein cookbooks
1. total number of cookbooks i own. embarrassingly high number. 109. must weed out. billions of magazines i can't bear to throw/give away
2. last cookbook i bought. The Food of China, Deh Ta Hsiung and Nina Simonds.

3. last food/cookbook read. Shiok! Terry Tan and Christopher Tan.

4. 5 cookbooks that mean a lot to me.
Cake Bible--explanations for the magic of baking
Betty Crocker--sentimental, i referred to it quite a lot as a very young wanna be
Nora Daza's Galing Galing, guide to anyone starting up a pinoy kitchen
Recipes of the Philippines, Enriqueta David-Perez, ed.
Lutuing Pilipino ni Aling Charing--makes me daydream that i'm having a
conversation with my Lola, who never owned a cookbook, who taught me how to cook,
who loved our language greatly.

extra: my favorite food books "French Lessons" by Peter Mayle, and the novel
"Five Quarters of the Orange," Joanne Harris.

5. 5 other people whom you'd like to see fill in this blog "kumares": jmom,
celiaK., manang K (yoohoo manang!!!), ting-aling, purplegirl when she comes back to us (am praying for you ms. ppg!)....

food trip loot

loot from IKEA: horseradish mustard sauce, marabou chocolate bars, ginger thins (ginger, orange, lemon in a cute tin), elderberry syrup

loot from the Reading Terminal market: file powder (ground sassafras! been looking for this for so long--now i can make gumbo!), orange flower water, cherry compote--i adore jars, i collect jars! this one i just couldn't pass up

Ethiopian, from Old City Coffee (the hotel coffee packets just would not do)


we're back from visiting the City of Brotherly Love.

image fr Been There, Saw That

on our way we stopped at our favorite superstore for a quick pitstop lunch--it is right at the end of the exit ramp off Interstate 95. New Haven, CT.

if you MUST have fast food...Ikea's cafeteria where i had the gravlax platter and my guys had the meatballs and fries. and a round of Marabou chocolate bars.

koi in the suite hotel atrium

pampered breakfast buffet and daily "beverage hours"... swimming in the indoor pool

Benjamin Franklin recruited two little Bostonians...

into the Continental Army to fight a worthy war...

ring THIS bell

Betsy Ross' kitchen

Reading Terminal heart pounded, i got dizzy, goosebumpy...thanks to the one and only stef, she who understands of what i speak, for tipping us off. we'll meet next time for sure, okay stef?!

can't not have cheesesteak in Philly. hmmm. i thought, what's the big deal? perhaps i need to try some more.

Vietnam Restaurant
we'd opted for a Vietnamese dinner instead of Chinese, because the week before we'd had a surfeit from all the family reunion dinners. (of course we found a great dimsum lunch place, the H.K. Golden Phoenix.) Vietnam, a cozy elegant place, with dark woods and soft lights--we felt slightly out of place with our little brood but quickly lost all sense of self-consciousness as we dug in. large portions, reasonably priced. it's always great to be daring and risky and just try someplace new. and find the food up to par! it's right next to the 6th district police station, on 11th and Race Sts.

this is the best bun i've encountered so far...the house special with cha gio, grilled chicken, pork, and sausages (they ran out of the squid and shrimp, hmph!)

we enjoyed ourselves immensely. we found it very clean and tourist- and family-friendly. too bad it is far, we want to return again and again. the streets are easy to navigate! the Chinatown is clean! no one honked us despite our touristy pace! the vendors are polite! well i AM comparing it to our hometown ;)
800 miles round trip, our elderly minivan has brought us back safe and sound, next year again NOT same time?...we will return when there is no heatwave.

Friday, July 15, 2005

pandan ice cream

this is it.
my "orig" recipe born out of some desperation.
#2 son took a lick and declared it his favorite when we first discovered it in an Asian superstore in Boston. the only place to get it.
*sigh* $1 per bar. steep, albeit quite delicious. i promised to make it for him instead of trekking all the way there (a couple of times they didn't have it and baby boy went "wahhh!") and plunking down the hard-earned cash.
yesterday's family reunion cookout for husband's family was the perfect occasion and i ended up giving them a foodie lesson on "pandan" ("you know, it's a kind of grass, screwpine? we use it for giving flavoring and scent," and trotting out the frozen packet of leaves from the freezer).
the family pronounced it a winner, worthy of marketing! heehee, i need an ice cream cart and bell. *blush* i'm just so happy that #2 son is now a contented boy and i can claim that i made this up on my own....with a little help from a couple of cookbooks: "Shiok" and "Sorbets and Ice Creams" by Lou Seibert Pappas.
the next quest is to score an extra freezer bowl for the krups ice cream maker so i can make more than 1 quart at a time.

2/3 cup pandan syrup concentrate*, cooled to room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups half and half
6 egg yolks, beaten
1 & 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

in a double boiler, heat the half and half over barely simmering water until scalded. whsik the pandan syrup into the egg yolks. whisk in some of the hot half and half, return the mixture ot the pan, and cook over barely simmering water, stirring constantly until the custard coats the spoon (slightly thickened). immediately place the pan in a bowl of cold ice water and stir to cool to room temperature. stir in the heavy cream.
cover and refrigerate the mixture for 2 to 3 hours at least, or until thoroughly chilled. freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions (for this it took about 25 minutes to get a creamy but firm texture).
makes 1 quart.

*pandan syrup:
1 can pandan juice (Maesri brand) or equivalent of a big bunch of pandan, snipped and processed, placed in cheesecloth, squeezed with water, enough to make 2 cups)
1 cup sugar

mix and bring to boil, until sugar is dissolved. if you have it, add more pandan cut to 1 inch pieces and add to syrup. simmer to reduce to 2/3 cup (it will be somewhat thick). drain and let cool.
add in 1 tsp. pandan essence/extract, if desired.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

an easy tasty adaptation

we took 6 "kids" ages 19 to 5 out yesterday to the friendly neighborhood mini golf course (free ice cream bonus after 18 innocent looking but somewhat sinister holes)
and it was a screaming good time. the five year old finished first but was the kulelat (bottom) scorer...he didn't mind at all, he had so much fun. the winner was the score-keeper so we teased him no end.
we cooled off at home, ordered take out, Chinese of course, and i brought this out of the refrigerator, quickly toasting some thawed grated coconut.
maja blanca is a popular afternoon snack lumped in the kakanin section of my memory of the items my ma or lola (grandma) would bring home as uwi (take home gift) from the wet market. this is what my ma and i came up with years ago when she came to help with birthing the youngest. in trying to figure out how to make our version of tasty maja we tried to guess at how to set it properly. maja is originally made with rice flour but i much prefer the corn-y version. with the use of agar-agar powder and substituting vegetable or canola oil for greasing the pan or mold, or lining the pan with a sheet of washed and gently warmed banana leaf, it could be a palatable dessert dish to bring to a vegetarian pot luck...

maja blanca maiz

grease the pan (i used an oblong pyrex dish, 7 & 1/2 " by 11") with butter.
mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup cornstarch. whisk in 1 cup water slowly until well blended.
boil 1 14-15 oz. can of cream style corn and equal amount of coconut milk together in a saucepan. whisk in 3 tsps. of agar agar powder and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
whisk the sugar, cornstarch and water solution again to ensure no lumps, then gradually stir into the corn and coconut milk. stir occasionally and simmer 5 minutes more.
let cool slightly then pour into prepared dish. chill in refrigerator until firm.
slice on the diagonal and serve with toasted coconut.

*schatzli! this is for you...though i haven't tried using agar agar or gelatin for the classic white maja, i think you'll like this. not too sweet.
to substitute powdered gelatin, dissolve 2 packets of Knox in 1 cup cold water stirring until dissolved, then add to boiling coconut milk and corn mixture.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

a quick one

first thank you to my friends who still keep dropping by my little kitchen to say hi despite the paucity of my posts...
i miss bloghopping so much, but my real life is "happening" all around me right now. i owe a lot of stuff from a lot of nice people, i feel awful! :(
thank you too to the talented and prolific ajay for the feature in Manila Bulletin Technews about Pinay Food Bloggers, Part Two... she has a foodblog too! munchin' in manila is a wonderful repository of recipes and restaurant reviews. salamat ajay! it was great fun answering the questions and feeling like a fantasy celebrity for a day! heehee.

lately we have been the lucky recipients of takehome and takeout ("doggy bags"--i read these are unheard of in the EU! no super-sizing over there?) from our nearest and dearest. it's a great gift for these summer days when it feels like i should wear a hairnet and a whitecoat as a 24 hour lunch matron.
there's a time when i need to get away from all the left overs and i just gotta have something from my secret stash in the deep recesses of my pinay-stocked i made this salad today to accompany my Saranggani Bay tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish).

salted duck eggs, red onions, and vine-ripened tomatoes salad...liberally sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper. and the forbidden (by husband) cilantro.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

summer golden cherries

"broke my piggy bank" cherries
my ma told me they have lots of these where they are (southern california) when i spotted them at the Asian grocery i just closed my eyes to the eye-popping price and got a bag. it was worth it though: sweet and juicy, i had to yield to the kitties though. then they had the pit-spitting contest. aargh. oh well, summer fun food?

Friday, July 08, 2005

salt baked chicken

from the food of china, a great big hunk of a cookbook which i picked up from the wholesale Deh-Ta Hsiung and Nina Simonds.
this method produced a remarkably succulent and tasty bird. not salty as the cooking method implies. just tasty. my customers demolished it in one sitting.

a 3-lb fresh whole chicken
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
4 lbs. coarse sea salt
rinse the chicken, drain, and remove any fat. blanch in a sauce pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then refresh under cold water and dry well. brush the chicken with the soy sauce and hang it up to dry in a cool and airy place for a couple of hours, or keep it uncovered in the fridge.

chilling out
combine 1 scallion, chopped, 1 tsp. grated ginger, 1 crushed star anise, 1/2 tsp. salt, 4 tbsps. brandy (or Mei Kuei Lu Chiew), pour in to the cavity of the chicken. wrap the chicken tightly with a large sheet of cheese cloth.

chicken mummy
heat the salt in a large clay pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, very slowly until very hot, then turn off the heat and remove and reserve about half the salt. make an indentation in the center of the salt and place the chicken in it, breast side up. cover with the remaining salt until chicken is completely buried. cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 45-50 minutes. allow to sit for at least 15-20 minutes (no peeking!) before taking the chicken out. (the top dry layer of salt can be reused).

salt mountain
make a dipping sauce:
heat 1 tbsp. oil in a small wok or saucepan. fry chopped scallion(1 stalk) and a teaspoon of chopped ginger for 1 minute, then add 1 half tsp. of salt and 1/4 cup of chicken stock. bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.