Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beef Empanada

Today I conducted a cooking class at home and our main menu was the Beef Empanada. The above photos were made by the students themselves. Our lessons were 1) How to Make Empanada Dough, 2) How to Make Beef Empanada Filling, and 3) How to cook Empanadas.

Chicken Barbecue

It's that that time of the year again, when we stay longer in our backyard enjoying the colorful flowers that are in bloom, the grass that are greener, and the herb garden that's producing more branches and leaves faster than we could consume them. It's summertime. It's my favorite time of the year, aside from the Christmas holidays.

There's no other way of enjoying your backyard than setting up the barbecue pit and start lighting the fire making those coals burn until they have calmed down. That's when I put my meat, either chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetables. This time I am barbecuing chicken marinated in vinegar, pounded garlic, and salt & pepper. When they are almost cooked, I brush them with barbecue sauce and turn the pieces to coat the other side. I do this twice and I cook them for about 3 more minutes. I let them rest for a while before serving.

Aside from the barbecue, I prepared salad made from iceberg lettuce (big chunks) and I quartered tomatoes which were still connected to the vine when I bought them at the store. I threw in slices of English cucumber, sprigs of cilantro, and made a dressing (chilled) out of Mirin sauce with almond oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. We also had corn in a cob, and grilled asparagus.

When I barbecue, I make sure I never leave the pit. I stand right beside it, turning each piece as often as necessary so as not to burn them. I don't like eating burned food. That's very unhealthy. My pit is a simple Weber grill without a thermometer. So, I just adjust the heat manually, adding or removing coals as needed.

My children set the table in the patio, where the old deck used to be. There's never a better time to enjoy your backyard with your family, good food, and good ambience.

Polenta with Stewed Chicken and Green Peas

Polenta is ground cornmeal which is boiled in water for a long time while stirring frequently to avoid clumps. Nowadays, quick-cooked Polenta is so popular and can be prepared for a few minutes in a microwave. Purists may claim that the slow-cooked Polenta is far superior in taste than the quick-cooked one. I am not a purist but I like to prepare my food without compromising the taste. Here's my recipe:


2 pounds chicken legs, thighs, or breast (cut into bite-sized pieces) - sprinkle with salt and pepper
1 can marinara sauce
1 can sweet peas
1 big onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup Polenta
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, for Polenta
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmegiano Reggiano


Heat the olive oil in your saute pan on high and add the chicken. Braise until golden brown (about 10 to 15 minutes). Set aside. Brown garlic in pan on medium-high heat until just a little golden brown and add the onions. Cook until transparent. Add back the chicken, and marinara sauce. Mix well and cook for a few minutes. Add green peas, bay leaf, and sugar. Mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat. Adjust the seasoning. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Simmer on low for a few minutes. Set aside Meanwhile, boil 4 cups of water in a sauce pan. Add 1 teaspoon salt. When it boils, drop Polenta slowly and a little at a time while stirring continuously until all 1 cup is in the boiling water. Lower heat to simmer and stir for about 25 minutes or more until Polenta is cooked. Add butter and Parmegiano Reggiano and keep on stirring until cheese is melted and Polenta becomes thick like porridge. Scoop porridge on a plate and top with the chicken stew.  Garnish with the top of flat-leaf parsley.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

MAMI (Chicken Noodle Soup) and SIOPAO (Steamed Pork Bun)

1/2 chicken cut into pieces
any leftover chicken or meat from previous roasted meal that can add flavor to the broth(if any)
12 cups of water
1 cup carrots (sliced into 1/2")
5 stalks Chinese broccolli (cut 6'' on top and discard the bottom hard part)
4 cups fresh Chinese noodle (can be made or bought from Asian store)
cilantro tops (for garnishing)
3 tablespoons green onions (chopped 1/4 ")
1 star anise
1 tablespoon salt

In a pot, put the chicken or any leftover meat that can add flavor to the broth and then add the water, star anise, and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium -low for one hour. Adjust heat to low and simmer for another hour. Pass broth through a colander and separate the meat and keep broth in the pot. Adjust taste of broth. Add salt to your taste. Remember, to add just a little at a time. Separate chicken meat from bones and set aside. Meantime, Boil the Mami noodles in another 12 cups of water to cook for about 8 minutes or until cooked.  Add the carrots and Chinese broccoli in the broth for three minutes. Set side. Serve this soup individually in serving soup bowls or serve it in a soup tureen for guests to serve themselves. I served mine in a soup tureen so each individual can get the amount of food they want. Put the cooked noodles in the soup tureen. Add the broth. Top with the carrots, Chinese broccoli, and the chicken meat. Sprinkle with the chopped green onions. Garnish with cilantro tops. Serve immediately with pork buns.

Siopao Dough Recipe 

4 tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening (Crisco) or lard
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons white vinegar
6 cups of all-purpose flour
extra flour for kneading

In big bowl, put yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and warm water.  Let rise for ten minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 cup shortening, one tablespoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Gradually add 6 cups of flour. If you're using an electric mixer with an attachment for bread making, pulse until the flour stick together into a ball. If you are making it manually, mix with a big rubber spatula until flour stick together into a ball. Then knead on a clean surface for about 8 minutes, adding about 1/2 cup more of flour if necessary. Form into a ball and place on lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. For commercial, let rise for two hours. Then place on a lightly floured surface and roll to make a long baston and divide into about 20 to 24 pieces. Form into smooth balls, then roll with hands to elongate dough a little. Flatten dough, put filling in the center, seal, and place on paper. Let rise for 30 minutes or until smooth. Put in steamer 1/2" apart. Steam over high heat for about 10 minutes. Wait 5 minutes before removing the cover.

Siopao Filling
2.2 pork butt - sliced thinly into 1/2" cubes.
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 star anise
2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a pan, put pork, 1 cup water, soy sauce, brown sugar, and star anise. Let boil, covered until pork is tender, about 45 minutes or more. Strain. Save sauce. Set aside and make the sauce later.

Mix together 3 cups of water, 1 Knorr beef cube, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed in water. Boil until Knorr cube and sugar have melted. Mix well and cool. Thicken sauce with 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with water. Put a little pork filling in center of siopao dough. Top with a little sauce.

Fill the center with the pork filling, bring up and seal lightly, and put on paper. Let rise for 30 minutes and steam in the steamer on high heat for 10 minutes. Do not open lid of steamer until after 5 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chicken Marsala

4 halves skinless chicken breast (pounded to about 1/3 inch)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon oregano powder
1 tablespoon thyme powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup Marsala wine (sweet)
salt and freshly ground pepper (for seasoning)

Mix all dry ingredients together in a small plastic Ziploc bag. Dredge chicken in the mixture until well covered. In a skillet, add butter and olive oil and brown chicken breast on medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side. Set aside. 

Add sliced mushrooms to the skillet and brown them until they perspire adding more olive oil or butter one tablespoon at a time if needed. Cook for about six or more minutes. Set aside. 

Put the chickens back to the skillet and add one cup of Marsala wine. Add the mushrooms and cover pan with a lid. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until a thick sauce forms. 

Serve individual chicken breast on a plate and top with mushrooms. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley. Serve with bread or white steamed rice.

* Makes 4 servings

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