Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Dinner 2008 Menu










Appetizer   : Garlic Cheese Encrusted Mussels
Soup           : Pumpkin Curry Soup
Salad          : Baby Mixed Greens with Raspberries, Prosciutto, Sun Dried

                       Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Entree        : Potato Cheese Souffle
Main Dish : Mongolian Leg of Lamb (bone-in)
Side Dish   : Glazed Carrots, Baby Onions, Mushrooms, Green Beans, and 

                       Basmati Rice Pilaf
Dessert       : Italian Traditional Cheesecake
Beverage    : Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider (for kids) 

                       Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wine, Sonoma Brut
                       Barefoot Cavernet Sauvignon
                       Freshly Brewed Sumatra French Roast Coffee

The guests have all gone. It was another memorable Christmas dinner for a few friends and family that took days to plan, prepare, shop, and cook the food. It's a blessing that my son is taking an interest in cooking. He did most of it. I was only there to guide him and teach him about some of the techniques I know about cooking, wine, and food service.

I will be posting the recipes soon, but for now I am too sleepy and exhausted, I can't even think. It's 2:37AM of the 26th and I'm just waiting for the tablecloth and table napkins to dry.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Deep Fried Quails

You don't always find quails at the Asian store, but I was lucky enough to get 6 quails to cook for dinner. These birds are small. One quail is about 4.3 ounces and the total weight for all 6 quails is 1 pound and 10 ounces. My next question was, how will I cook these tiny birds?

Ingredients
6 Quails
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil


Procedure
First, I washed the birds thoroughly by cleaning the birds inside and out with running warm water. Then I pat them dry and sprinkled salt and pepper. One by one, I deep fried them in cooking oil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

To make Sauce

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan on medium-low heat. Then add 3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce. Keep mixing with a wooden spatula until consistency becomes thinner. Next, add about 2 tablespoons of red wine and sprinkle freshly ground pepper.

Garnish with watercress, thin slices of apricot, and dots of the sauce.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chorizo de Bilbao and Tomato Scrambled Eggs




It must have been around 12:00 noon when I got up from bed to make brunch. The chilly weather made me snuggle some more and enjoy the warmth of my blanket. In my mind, I was thinking what to cook for brunch.

My freezer is almost empty and today I need to go to Costco and to Ranch 99, my favorite Asian store, to stock up my pantry and buy food for the week.

Moisty Tomato Scrambled Eggs (always a favorite) and Chorizo de Bilbao (canned) was a good pairing, so I did not hesitate to cook them for brunch with Garlic Fried Rice. The chorizo was cooked in its' own oil and then sliced thinly. Just these, with a freshly made and newly ground brewed coffee jump started my day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mongolian Fried Chicken


Ingredients
12 chicken legs (room temperature)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
peanut oil or any cooking oil

Procedure
Wash and dry chicken well with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour. Deep fry in 350 degrees Fahrenheit cooking oil in a fryer or pan for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce 
1/4 cup lime juice or rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce (to taste)
1 stalk green onion, chopped 
2 stalks cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil


Mix sauce ingredients together and serve.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies


My baking buddy, Sam, came by today with her dad (my son), and after lunch, we both knew we were craving cookies. Without hesitation, she asked if we could bake her favorite cookies, the chocolate chip cookies, which she had quite mastered to make.

This time, we followed the recipe written on the Nestle Semi-Sweet morsels bag. In a bowl, she measured 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, she beat 1 cup softened butter (by hand) until creamy, and then she added 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. She then added the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then she gradually added the flour mixture a little at a time until incorporated. Lastly, she added the semi-sweet chocolate morsels. We did not put any nuts, for Sam does not like nuts in her cookies. You can if you want, add 1 cup chopped nuts. We also added just 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate morsels, for some of us preferred less chocolate morsels in the cookie. She then scooped the batter using a small ice cream scoop and dropped them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I prefer lining the cookie sheet with parchment paper in making chocolate chip cookies because they are easier to remove later on. The cookies were baked in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 10 to 11 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before eating


Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Collard Greens

With the economic downturn and escalating food prices, I've learned how to shop for healthy and inexpensive food to serve my family. For our everyday food, I always go with the basics. Eggs, milk, bananas, flour (to make bread or pancake), ground beef (instead of expensive meat cuts), and mostly fruits and vegetables in season which I find in the farmers market. One of my favorites is collard greens which is healthy and easy to cook.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 pound ground beef
1 bunch collard greens (you can also use swiss chard) - cut about 3/4"
1 1/2 Roma medium-size tomato - cut into 1/8"
1/2 medium-size yellow onion - sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
3 to 4 tablespoon fish sauce
dashes of freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons cooking (I use canola) oil

Procedure

Brown the garlic in a wok with the oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until transparent. Add the ground beef until cooked. Sprinkle dashes of freshly ground pepper. Add the collards and mix well. Season with the fish sauce and mix until collards are wilted but not overcooked. Serve immediately with steamed rice or bread.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Simple Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

This year, when our family planned the menu for Thanksgiving Dinner, I had to fight for my turkey. I, against the young hip generation, disagreed with whether or not we should have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. They wanted Leg of Lamb, or a Standing Rib Roast, and I wanted my Thanksgiving Turkey.

It didn't take long for me to end this squabble. I just declared my verdict: "Don't take away my Thanksgiving Turkey away from me!" End of story. I explained later on, that a Moroccan Leg of Lamb or a succulent Standing Rib Roast sounds delicious, but we only cook a whole Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey once a year, and only on Thanksgiving Day.



We have agreed on the menu, and my son was chosen in charge of cooking the main dish, the Roasted Turkey. My daughter made Tiramisu for dessert, a recipe shared by her sister, who got the recipe from Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she studied Culinary Arts. My granddaughter and a neighbor enjoyed removing the Brussel Sprouts from the stalk which was made into a side dish.


We all helped in setting the big dining table for 12 family and friends with my daughter in charge of the decoration. Although it's tedious to wash all the special china, silverware, wine glasses, and serving plates by hand, we all shared the work. There is something beautiful about this sharing, a giving of oneself to a special celebration. We shared a feast prepared by everyone and we were thankful for all the blessings.

With my son in charge of the event, I sat back and relaxed, reminiscing when I used to do everything by myself. I remember having to wake up early in the morning to prepare everything so we could have a good thanksgiving dinner. Now that my children have grown up, they have learned the values and tradition I have tried to inculcate in them all these years.


We had a simple thanksgiving dinner, fine enough to have reason to use our special china, silverware, and wine glasses. Our menu of traditional roasted turkey with simple side dishes, and dessert were easy to make, just right for our budget, and were enjoyed by everyone.


Thanksgiving Dinner Menu


Appetizers       : Sliced Baguettes with Triple Creme Cheese
Soup                 : Cinnamon Pumpkin Soup
Salad                : Herbed Butter Lettuce with Sprinkles of Goat Cheese
Main Dish       : Rosemary Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Sauce and Turkey Gravy
Side Dishes     : Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli florettes, Carrots, Corn, Corn Bread Stuffing,
                             Mashed Potato
Bread                : Dinner Rolls
Dessert             : Tiramisu, Lazy Woman's Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie
Beverage          : Apple Cider (for kids)
                             Santa Rita Cavernet Sauvignon RESERVA 2005 D. O. Maipo Valley, Chile
                             Freshly Brewed Newly Ground Coffee


The roasted turkey was crispy outside and juicy inside. It was cooked at 350*F throughout. My son was planning to cook the turkey in a lower temperature like most people do (at 325*F), but he knew most of us preferred the skin crispy and the turkey still juicy inside. He stuffed the turkey with onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper, and rosemary which he snipped from our herb garden.


The salad was easy to make, just a whole bunch of butter lettuce broken by hand in big pieces strewn with pine nuts and sprinkles of goat cheese. The mashed potato was made with yellow potatoes, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, and Romano cheese. All the vegetables were steamed separately. He also made the gravy from scratch by boiling the neck, the gizzard, and the liver of the turkey, and then he made roux to make the gravy.


The recipe for the Lazy woman's apple pie is actually the same recipe as my regular apple pie. The only difference is, we did not use a pie pan. The pie was baked on a cookie sheet. The round Pate Brisee crust was set in the middle of the sheet and the pie filling was plopped on the center of the crust, the sides were folded toward the center of the pie. Hence the name, Lazy Woman's Apple Pie.

The wine we served at the dinner was a fine wine from Chile. It was a Cavernet Sauvignon reserve wine from Maipo Valley Vintage 2005, with superb quality and craftmanship, well structured, fruity and youthful style, perfect for any occasion.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

San Francisco's Artisan Food Marketplace

There is no other farmers market in the San Francisco Bay Area that celebrates food in all its forms, from rare gastronomical finds in locally grown fruits and vegetables, artisan cheeses and bread, world class wines, fresh seafood, poultry and meat, than the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Embarcadero in the city. Located at the famous San Francisco landmark, the Ferry Building, it boasts of a 245 foot tall clock modeled after the 12th century Seville bell tower in Spain. Aside from the outdoor farmers market, the Ferry Building Marketplace also houses artisan stores, restaurants and cafes that serve cuisines representing the cultural diversity of San Francisco's award-winning chefs and gourmets.

Having withstood two strong earthquakes, the 1906 and the Loma Prieta in 1989, the Ferry Building was restored in 2004 and since has become the marketplace for serving both local residents and travelers. In November of 2005, the Ferry Plaza Marketplace had a royal visit from England by Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla. It is now becoming recognized worldwide as a marketplace destination in artisan food.


The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is California certified and is operated by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). It's open Tuesdays from 10:00 am  to 2:00 pm and Saturdays 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Most regular shoppers like the market because it reconnects them with their food sources: how their food is grown, who grew them, and why they taste so good. Another reason is that most of the food is organic.

Just days before thanksgiving, my family and I took a trip to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to see what local produce we could find to serve on thanksgiving day.

Our first stop was a stall that sold an unusual looking citrus fruit called, "Buddha's hand". It is not hard to see why, the fruit looks like a hand with several slender fingers. Originating from India, it is a fragrant citrus with a thick peel and very small amount of acidic flesh. It is good for its zest, and used in salads and steamed fish.

Towards the back of the Ferry Plaza, we sampled cheeses by Farmstead Cheese Company in Point Reyes, California. The blue cheese teased our taste buds so we bought it. We also found Brussel sprouts that were still connected to the stalk which will provide my granddaughter endless fun in removing. We eyed some fresh kale with its rubbery yet curly dark green leaves which we will use as liners for the turkey. We also came across some very interesting produce such as; rare squashes, human shaped potatoes, and a giant pumpkin.

Inside the Ferry building are neat stores of local food growers/owners selling gourmet products like; Far West Fungi, who sells different kinds of mushrooms; Farm Fresh To You, where my daughter bought bite-sized pretzels dipped in chocolate drizzled with some nuts; Ciao Bella, where we stopped by to get Gelato ice cream, and many more. There are about 30 or more stores in the plaza and if you plan to visit, I suggest you check their website.


After strolling through the many stalls at the farmers market, our olfactory nerves were hit by the delicious barbecue smell that was wafting in the air. Seconds later, we discovered it was coming from a big rotisserie van. In the van, on long metal skewers, golden brown chicken sizzled as it slowly roasted. Roasted beef lined the bottom of the rotisserie, its juices glistening in the sun. If smelling and seeing the food didn't convince you to try it, the sight of the long lines and drooling faces would. Unfortunately, the only downside to this sidewalk heaven was that you would have to find a place to sit and eat under the hot sun.

As we turned the corner of the building and found ourselves once again on Embarcadero, we saw the Market Bar, a restaurant with an outdoor patio where people were sitting under yellow umbrellas enjoying the breeze of the wharf in the unusually warm weather in the midst of winter. The patio was adjacent to the sidewalk and a low iron railing was the only separation between the diners and passers by.



We decided to eat here because we wanted to enjoy and experience the great atmosphere, not only with the wonderful weather, eclectic diners and passers by, but because of the beautiful view of the Bay Bridge, the sparkling blue water of the Bay, and the glistening towers of the city. Aside from the buzz and laughter of the people, the lapping of water, and the sound of seagulls, there was music being played by a sidewalk musician.

Sitting back in my chair, sipping coffee, I was reminded, with everything that I saw and did that day, why I came to live in this unique and beautiful city and how I came to love it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dinardaraan (Filipino Stewed Pork Blood)



Dinardaraan is the native name for the savory Filipino Stewed Pork Blood in Ilokano/Pangasinan, a region in northern Luzon, in the province of Pangasinan, Philippines. In tagalog, it is called Dinuguan.  This exotic dish is sometimes made of pig's stomach and beef blood cooked in vinegar and spices.

My childhood memory of this dish was triggered when my friend, Mi, came over to visit me on my birthday bringing with her the said dish and some native sweet desert/snack food made of some root crops and banana, cooked in coconut milk, which she made herself.

Ingredients

2 pig's stomachs - boiled until tender and cut into small bite size pieces
1 big chunk of pork or beef blood (solid) - cut into 1/2 inch cube
1 container beef blood (add 1/2 cup of the vinegar to this)
1 cup native vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leafs - break each leaf into 2
1 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cups sliced yellow onions
8 to 10 long slim green pepper or 6 jalapeno peppers
3 to 4 tablespoons canola oil

Procedure

In a saute pan, brown garlic in canola oil until golden brown but not burned. Add sliced onions and cook until transparent. Add cooked pig's stomach and cook for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Add cut solid blood and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes mixing well to cook all blood. Add the salt and the ground pepper, and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 of the vinegar. Add the liquid blood and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ginisa mix or the beef boullion cubes. Add the slim green peppers and cook for 2 to 5 minutes on medium-low. Serve hot with Puto or hot steamed rice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Caldereta


Ingredients
2 pounds beef sirloin or goat meat, cut into pieces (grass-fed and finished preferably)
1 whole head garlic, crushed
1/4 cup coconut vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 laurel leaves
1 big can tomato sauce
1 big red bell pepper, sliced into strips
3 medium-sized potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons liver spread
1 cup pitted green olives (optional)
3 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)

Procedure
Marinate the beef or goat meat in vinegar, crushed peppercorns, sliced onion,  salt, and laurel leaves for at least 1 hour. Strain or discard liquid.

Brown beef or goat meat in olive oil. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup water.  Cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes or until meat becomes tender.  Add water as necessary to prevent mixture from drying.  


Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Add the red pepper and olives and cook for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of liver spread and mix well with the sauce until well blended. Season with fish sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. 

* Serves 8

* Serve with steamed jasmine rice or bread

Friday, June 6, 2008

Samantha's Chocolate Cupcakes







Ingredients
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Procedure

Preheat oven to 350* F. 

Line muffin pan or cupcake pan with paper cups. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside. Cream the butter and add the sugar a little at a time until well blended.


Add egg and the vanilla extract together and alternately add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) a little at a time. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes.  Put icing and sprinkles on top if desired. 

Edited by author 05/14/2011

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Apple Pie




This apple pie's crust is Pate Brisee, a quick and easy crust to make, which I prefer for apple pies. You can also make it from other kinds of pastry like the Puff Pastry, if you prefer.

Ingredients

5 Granny Smith apples and 4 delicious apples
1/2 cup dark brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 Pate Brisee pastry, made beforehand and stored in the refrigerator


Procedure
Bring one pastry out of the refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes. Roll out into a 12" diameter and set into a pie pan. Fold up excess pastry hanging on the side of pan and arrange evenly around edge of pan.Cover with parchment paper and put back in the refrigerator while you work on the other pastry.

Once again, roll out the other pastry into a 12" diameter. Put on a cookie sheet lined with a parchment paper. Again, cover with parchment paper and store in the refrigerator while you work on your filling.


In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground black pepper together.


Peel, core, and slice all apples into about 1/4" thick. Add the sugar mixture. Mix well. 


Drain juice from apples and put in a glass measuring cup and add the butter. Microwave for 6 minutes until mixture caramelizes. Let cool.


Add cornstarch to apples and mix well. Meantime, bring out pie pan with set pastry, then poke holes on the bottom of pastry. 
Add all the sliced apples. Pour the caramel made earlier and distribute evenly on the apples.

Bring out the other pastry from the refrigerator and lay on top of the apples. folding down the excess pastry. 
With a little water, wet the top edge of the pastry at the bottom of the pan where the apples are and crimp to join pastry together. With your fingers, crimp both pastry sides together and form a wavy edge design.

Brush top of pie with egg wash and cut four 2" slits in the middle of the pie for vents. Keep in refrigerator for 1/2 hour or in the freezer for 15 minutes.


Bake at 425 degrees F for 55 minutes until golden brown or until syrup boils at the slit in the center of pie. Make sure you cover the sides (edges) of pie when baking to avoid brown crust.

*Kitchen tested by author June 4, 2008

*Edited by author 05/14/2011


Friday, May 30, 2008

Simple Custard Pie


Ingredients
4 eggs, lightly beaten, plus one egg (use the white to brush bottom of pie pan to prevent crust from becoming soggy and add the yolk into the mixture)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 uncooked pie crust for 9" pie pan

Procedure

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
Lay 1 uncooked pastry shell on a pie pan. Crimp the sides. Put in the refrigerator while mixing the filling.

Beat the eggs lightly and add milk, sugar, salt, lemon or orange zest, and vanilla. Mix to combine thoroughly by hand.


Pour into uncooked pastry on a pie pan. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon. Put in the oven at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes and cover with aluminum foil to prevent browning of crust.


Lower temp to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes degree F until cooked. Test for doneness, by inserting a toothpick on the center of custard pie. If toothpick comes out clean, pie is cooked.


Cool for 30 minutes before slicing.


*Kitchen tested by Author on May 30, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pate Brisee Pie Crust Recipe

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter - cut into 1/2" cubes
4 to 6 tablespoons cold iced water

Procedure
Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse to mix.
Add butter and pulse to mix. Do not over pulse.
Add iced water 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture binds together and mixture forms into pea-size.
Test by pinching with your fingers the dough and it should bind together. If not, add a little more icy cold water and pulse mix again. Do not over pulse-mix.
Remove dough from machine and place in a clean surface to knead.  Sprinkle surface with flour and lightly knead dough. 
Form into two round flat dough. Do not over knead. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the two round dough.
Wrap the two dough in separate plastic food wrap and keep in the refrigerator for at least one hour before baking. The dough will keep for two days.

*Makes 2 uncooked Pastry Shell
*Kitchen Tested by Author on May 29, 2008
*Edited by author 05/14/2011

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Banana Nut Bread


Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 ripe mashed bananas
1 cup chopped nuts (walnut, pecan, etc.)


Procedure
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a loaf pan size 9 1/2" X 5 1/2".

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix together. Cream butter with the sugar until well blended and add the eggs and milk. Beat well until creamy. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the egg mixture and beat on medium speed. Fold in  the bananas and then the nuts until well distributed. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until done. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center of the bread. Toothpick should come out clean when done. Cool in a rack for 25 minutes before slicing.

To serve, slice 1/2 inch of the bread and put on a center of a serving plate with one scoop of vanilla ice cream and throw in some fruits like blueberries, strawberries, rspberries, etc.

*Kitchen Tested by author on May 21, 2008
*Second kitchen tested by author on 01/30/2011
*Edited by author 01/27/2011
*Approved for Publication


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