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Posts Tagged ‘kitchen experiments’


As I am presently reading Ruth Reichl’s gourmet memoir Save Me the Plums, I remember those days when Nissa and three of her close friends went on a five-day trip to Thailand to learn first hand how to cook Thai food. One of them is a famous chef now, well-known on television and some five-star hotels in the metropolis.  There were times during their student days when they would shop for ingredients and spend the night over cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

One of Reichl’s features in her book was when she went to Thailand to study and learn Thai food.  Once in a while, the kids and I go to a Pad Thai restaurant to re-acquaint ourselves  with the taste and texture of Thai food. The first time I tried a glass of tamarind juice, I was sold.

I am reposting a previous blog post here back in June 2010. You may enlarge the pictures. They are high-resolution shots.

Discovering Thailand Cuisine Through My Daughter’s Eyes

I was plain excited when my daughter came home from a five-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand.  She was in the company of some friends and she was so enthusiastic in sharing her experience touring the place and absorbing  the culture.  Five days would not be  enough to see all there is to see  about the place but they went there for the food tour, they enrolled in a Thai cooking school to learn authentic Thai recipes.  More than  anything , I was elated when she brought home several ingredients for Thai cooking.

Two months ago, I bought a cookbook on Thai Cuisine and both of us planned of trying some of the recipes there.  Thai cuisine has a lot of similarities to some Filipino food so it is not so hard to find

fresh ingredients in the wet market.  I just told her to source for dry ingredients  which are difficult to buy here. And she came home with several packets of Coriander seeds, dried Kaffir lime leaves, red curry paste, chilli powder, whole white pepper, instant Phad-kapraow paste and hot and sour curry paste, good enough for several experiments in the kitchen.

The richness of Thai cooking is more pronounced through its skillful use of wealthy colors, tastes, textures and smell wonderfully incorporated in every recipe that they use.  Many people think that Thai cooking is a complex process since they use a lot of ingredients and spices.   It is said that  “much of the heat of the  spicy dishes comes from red and green peppers” which we commonly know as chillies. The Thai call it Phrik. Thai food comes in varied forms like soups, fresh vegetable salads, dips, grilled meat, fish or chicken but the most popular   is the use of curry paste.  I’ve been accustomed to using the yellow curry powder so I was surprised that there is a red one too.

Here’s one recipe which is the whole family’s favorite when we eat at a Thai restaurant.  It’s called Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus Leaves.

 

Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus Leaves (Kai Hor Bai Toey)

You would need:

2 cups of boneless chicken meat

10 pandanus leaves (Pandan  in Tagalog)

Oil for deep frying

Pound Marinade together into a paste:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp. oyster sauce

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sesame oil

1-2 tsp. pepper corn

3 garlic cloves

2 coriander roots

And the ingredients for the sauce:

1 tsp. white sesame seeds

1/2 cup ( 250 ml.) distilled white vinegar

1 cup (100 grams) sugar

1 tbsp. black soy sauce

1 tsp. salt

Cut chicken meat into bite-sized pieces.  Mix the marinade with the chicken.  Set aside in the refrigerator for three hours. To prepare the sauce, cook the same seeds in a skillet for 2 minutes without oil or until lightly browned. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix white vinegar, sugar, black soy sauce and salt.  Add the sesame seeds and set aside.

Wrap two or three pieces of chicken in each pandanus leaf to form a knot.  Alternatively, wrap each pandanus leaf around the chicken to form a bundle and secure with a toothpick.

Heat oil in a wok or small frying pan.  Deep fry until fragrant.  (about 5 minutes).  Serve with sauce and steamed rice.

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I am not feeling pretty good.  Body malaise but I don’t have fever. I’ve been lazy  lately except for a brief time spent at the garden this morning. I have to re-pot some plants and plant one more head of pineapple. I saved it after  the  new year.  I have about seven heads now plus some ornamental ones.  I understand it would take about two years before they bear fruits and more than six months for them to mature. They are growing nicely here. Sipping a hot ginger lemon tea.

The weather here has been a bit erratic since the start of the new year. In the southern part of the country, they just had the first weather disturbance. Agaton  strengthened into a tropical storm before it exited the  country. Some areas are still flooded because of continuous rains.

Here in Manila, it is still cold at night and in the early morning but the sun shines all day now. I am grateful that we have longer nights than days.  Maybe we’ll have this fair weather until the end of February due to the Siberian winds.

We’ve put away the Christmas decor and the house is back to normal again. We still have some left-over ham and a few rolls of embutido inside the freezer.  Only the pomelo,  some oranges and apples are left of the fruits we  bought before New Year.  Thinking of what to prepare for lunch. I  remember telling you about the watermelon packet I found at the grocery store last week.  I used it for shrimp sinigang with camote tops (sweet potato)  gabi (taro root) and one eggplant.

Watermelon Sinigang

Wow, it is better than tamarind mix. One of these days, I will use watermelon slices.

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This is quite a late post but I am proud to share it with all of you.  A few days after Christmas, my oldest brother gave us  about two kilos of Ube (purple yam). Since it was too  big for us  to just  boil it, Josef and I decided to make Halayang Ube.  We used to buy halaya on certain occasions at home, it is not a regular fare for us.  The day before New Year, we had the whole thing boiled and mashed finely.  There is a sort of excitement making a dessert for the first time. It is time-consuming to mix it while in the pan because you have to make sure that it comes out sticky and thick enough.  Imagine an hour of mixing it on top of the stove while cooking.

I used about two cups of coconut cream, 3/4  stick of butter and three cans of condensed milk, no sugar added. The original recipe calls for the first two ingredients plus two cans of condensed milk, two cans of evaporated milk and a cup of sugar.  My son made a mistake of buying  milk though. He thought he bought two each of milk but when I  opened the cans, the third one is also a condensed milk. Instead of going back to the grocery store, I just used all the three cans of condensed milk without adding sugar.   The halaya was  creamy, just perfect topped with grated cheese.

ZBoiled ube or what we call purple yam.

Boiled ube or what we call purple yam.

 

It's a yummy Ube Halaya, added it to our desserts  during our media noche.

It’s a yummy Ube Halaya, added it to our desserts during our media noche.

There is always a first time for everything. Experimenting in the kitchen was a success.  You have to let it cool for at least two hours inside the ref  before eating. It is best served actually the next day.  I will do this again if we could find fresh Ube  roots in the market. I think that harvesting it is seasonal too.  It is one of those yummy treats that you could make on your own and won’t have to buy the finished product.

 

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I was watching an early morning show on baking and I was impressed with the quick and easy way they bake desserts. I am for simple recipes that I could make in less than an hour and which does not need too many ingredients. I have a favorite site that I watch when I am not too busy with household chores, they make baking so easy and enjoyable. I checked the pantry and I was lucky to find ingredients for raisin cookies. I hope Nate would love this when they come over tomorrow for a visit.

Raisin cookies1

 

Raisin cookies2

You may find the recipe here at this site.  These are larger than those in the recipe since I used an ice cream scooper instead of a tablespoon.

 

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There is really no contest between the two. I love both and this is actually another experiment because it was the first time I used chicken as the main ingredient instead of ground pork. I haven’t baked anything in a while, desserts or recipes. I am not really that too busy  but the last few days have been so stressful that I have to think of a way to relax and cooking relaxes me. One morning while we were having breakfast, Josef and I discussed about what we used to prepare on the table and I told him, let’s prepare something for mom that she would surely like. My mom is turning 86 in a few days and she’s talking of going home to the province before the month ends. I told her to wait for her birthday here. There is no reasoning with our old folks once they decide on something. She just told me yesterday to call my brother so he could fetch her. One thing I like about her is that she is always appreciative of what I cook. When she is not familiar with it, she watches  me prepare the ingredients and asks questions.  We’ve been on mostly fish and vegetables since the season of Lent started and Fridays are totally “no-meat days”. Sourcing what is available in our pantry, here it is, a yummy chicken shepherd’s pie. It always tastes good with panini bread, just plain grilled slices.

Mom loves the melted cheese and mashed potato on top. Baked it just to melt the cheese.

Mom loves the melted cheese and mashed potato on top. Baked it just to melt the cheese.

Never been good at taking pictures of food. One more try, that is...

Never been good at taking pictures of food. One more try, that is…

P. S. And here’s the recipe,as promised Ren. You would need the following:

1 whole deboned chicken breast, boiled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 boiled potatoes

1/2 stick butter

dash of pepper

white onion, diced but it is better to cut it into small cubes

1 large carrot

1 cup of green peas

1 small can of Campbell Cream of Mushroom

grated cheese

Mash the potato with 1/2 stick butter, set aside. Saute onion, carrots, green peas and chicken then add in the can of mushroom last. Don’t put salt because the saltiness of the cream is good enough. Put in a baking dish, top with the mashed potato then grated cheese. A friend suggested that you can add bread crumbs to the cheese to make it crunchy to the bite  (it’s up to you). Bake for 30 minutes covered in aluminum foil or until the cheese melts. Serve hot with your favorite bread. I used the regular American loaf bread pressed on a Panini maker.

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Waking up at an unusual hour of 3am or 4am has its advantage. You get to finish housework early and plan the rest of the day ahead. You get to have time to relax and unwind. One of the perks of being at home  is searching and experimenting on a new recipe that teases the palate and makes you try more.  A few days ago, my son and I went back to Pasig market to buy fruits and vegetables. It is always a delight to find something  new  and cheap at that. Rambutan and lanzones fruits are in season now at it’s quite a thrill to find them at a lower price than in neighborhood fruit stands.  I bought some Granny Smith apples, apple guavas  and seedless dalandan  (Philippine orange).  I  thought of baking apple pie but then I found this simple recipe that does not need too much time to prepare. Another kitchen experiment? You bet!

Grandma’s Apple Crisp

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 cups apples – peeled, cored and chopped

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 175  °C. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oats, flour and butter. Mix until crumbly. Spread the apples evenly over crumb mixture. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and top with the remaining crumb mixture.  Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Here’s how it turned out. I rather like the rolled oats incorporated in the recipe, it’s healthy. I baked it though for at least an hour. The mixture of cinnamon and apple is really, really yummy. And as usual I reduced the white sugar to 1/3 cup.

IMG_5126 IMG_5129 By the way, this is my 1,300th post. Whew, 1,300th post? What have I been writing about the past four years? Snippets of my life of course – my dreams and escapes sometimes.

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Puto is simply steamed  rice cake which is prepared using a round mold  or muffin cups or several small plastic molds, whichever suits you is okay. There are varied ways to make puto one of which is puto pao –  it’s a puto recipe with filling. I used a puto mix here so it is pretty easy to prepare it.

mini puto pao

Ingredients:

200 g White King Puto Mix

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

5 tsp. cooking oil

1 can corned beef (I used the Delimondo brand)

Cook corned beef until it is dry. Set aside.

Boil water in a steamer and grease puto molder. Since I used the smallest puto molds, there was no need to grease them since the mixture comes off easily once it’s done.

Combine puto mix and water until well blended. Add sugar gradually and mix. Gradually add cooking oil and continue mixing until smooth.

Pour batter up to 1/4 of the puto molder, add a half teaspoon of corned beef then continue pouring the batter until the molder is 3/4 full. You can put cheese strips before steaming but this is optional and since you are preparing bite-size puto pao, it becomes salty if you put too much cheese so a thin strip will do. Put a clean cloth between the steamer and the cover so water won’t mix with the puto while cooking.

Arrange puto molders inside steamer and steam for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the surface is shiny and bounces back when pressed.

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Category: Side Dishes & Condiments
Special Consideration: Vegetarian
Description:
Tofu, also known as Soya Bean Curd is called the “cheese of Asia”. It is high in protein, low in saturated fats, a good source of calcium and vitamin E. Recent studies have shown that soya beans and products derived from them may play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.One drawback though is that, tofu easily absorbs cooking fat and soya is also known as a common cause of food allergy. My kids love tokwa as we call it in Tagalog and their favorite is simply ginisa with kinchay. It is best served with daing na bangus or any kind of fried fish.
Ingredients:
10 cubes of fresh tokwa, cut in half
2 medium size tomatoes
canola oil for frying
2 tbsp. soy sauce
garlic and onion
ground pepper
small bunch of kinchay
Directions:
Cut the tokwa in half, fry in canola oil until golden brown or when it turns crispy on the outside, drain in paper towels then cut into cubes.Sauté  garlic, onion and tomatoes. Add tokwa and about half a cup of water. Let it simmer for a minute or two. Add kinchay last and serve immediately while it is hot.

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So what could you buy with P100.oo pesos?

I attended an anticipated mass  last night at Our Lady of Light Parish at the town proper. Sometimes, you just miss the noise of everyday living in a town where food chains like McDonald’s and Jollibee go hand in hand with selling goods in karitons (cart). You’ll see them in every corner near the church – fruit vendors, balut vendors, small stores selling pork barbecue or inihaw na bangus and yes,  vendors selling cartload of fruits in season.

So what could you buy with your P100.00 pesos? That’s the only money  I had in my coin purse and a few loose  change for tricycle fare in going home. I forgot to bring some money except my offering for a mass for our dead relatives and a folded P100.00.  When you are sorely tempted to buy something to munch on after dinner, either it’s an order of  fried peanuts or cornik  but of course with all that oil sticking to your fingers, they’re not just healthy. I saw a vendor selling lanzones  for P70.00 a kilo. I have to haggle with him and he gave me a discount of P10.00 and a half-kilo of  dalandan was selling at P20.00. So make that P20.00 left out of the P100.00 peso bill. What could you buy with that anyway?  I found this, a little stand in a corner selling puto bungbong  or   puto bumbong for some.

I haven’t tasted this for quite sometime. It’s a native delicacy that is usually seen and sold at Christmas time. I have to wait for at least five minutes for it to cook. Four thin bumbong tubes of this glutinous rice costs P18.00 Topped with a spread of margarine, freshly  grated coconut and a teaspoon of sugar….it’s just perfect!  Don’t ask me how it’s done, I’d rather just buy and eat it pronto while it’s hot.  I found this site that shows how puto bumbong is prepared.

Whoa, I still have P2.00 left in my pocket.

Yesterday, I did another experiment in the kitchen. Instead of cooking pancakes the traditional way, I baked it instead. Using a small pack of  Maya hot cake mix, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder,1 egg, 1/3 cup of sugar  and more than a half cup of raisins, I came up with this, a yummy cinnamon raisin loaf.

Even my son did a  thumbs up  when he took a bite. Just perfect for that hot cup of green tea.

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My son and I were watching  a culinary show on TV while lingering at the table after breakfast. Then he said, “I miss lumpiang Shanghai, you no longer prepare that”. I told him we have the ingredients but we don’t have lumpia wrappers. “Let’s experiment“, I said. Sometimes, our kitchen ventures are just that….little experiments that turn out good and yummy in the end.  I remember one time watching a feature on the Coconut House in Quezon City where they use coconut and coconut products  in their restaurant. “Why not Pancit Buko?” So off he went to buy two buko (young coconut), have them shredded and the juice saved for drinks.  This is how it turned out.

Instead of using the traditional noodles like bihon, canton, sotanghon  or fresh miki, buko did the trick. I tell you, it was a yummy dish and the nutty flavor added to the  tasty dish.

It’s cooked like your traditional pancit and it taste great with the veggies. You would need:

  • shredded buko meat  (about four cups)
  • 1/4 kilo pork kasim  (I used 3 pcs. of pork chops)
  • 1/4 kilo Baguio beans
  • 1 large carrot
  • half of a medium-sized cabbage
  • Kinchay (Chinese parsley)
  • green onions for topping
  •  a head of onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste or you can add in 2 tbsp. soy sauce

You can try this maybe even without the pork,  put some quail eggs instead.

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