Friday, July 31, 2009

Dim Sum at HongKong Causeway Bay in San Mateo, California

Today is my daughter's birthday and as we were getting ready to go to a newly opened Cantonese restaurant in San Mateo, the "H. K. Causeway Bay", the doorbell rang. It was the UPS guy delivering the Spanish sausages, made in Spain, my other half and I ordered online from 'La Tienda', a Virginia based importer of Spanish food products, the night before.

Everyone got excited seeing the box of sausages and some Crema de Turron from Spain. My other half couldn't wait and he wanted to open the box. It was almost twelve noon, the set time for the birthday lunch. I told him I was driving ahead to the restaurant, if he wanted to stay behind. My daughter and my son were supposed to drive by themselves.

The restaurant was packed. I didn't realize they were serving dim sum for lunch, for we always went there for dinner. We were met by a lady Maitre D' who was delighted to see us as she walked us to our reserved table with some family and friends already seated waiting for us.

I called in the night before to reserve my favorite "Rose Chicken", as they call it, but it's actually Soy Sauce Chicken, cooked in such a way that it melts in your mouth. They only make about 10 "Rose Chicken" in one day.

I originally planned for a Lauriat-style dining, but all that changed, when I saw the little plates of Dim Sum being served to other diners. There was a quick switch in the plan, barely noticeable to family and friends, except maybe to my daughter, who knew about the previous plan.

I picked up the paper with the lists of Dim Sum, which you can just check and indicate how many orders you want. Then, I ordered the Rose Chicken, the Birthday Noodle, and the SF Dungeness Crab deep fried with egg batter, another favorite of mine. It's so different from the salt and pepper crabs or the crabs deep fried in garlic.

Some of the interesting Dim Sum we had were the numerous tiny little duck tongues with sweet white beans, solid squared chicken blood cooked with chives in a special sauce that went well with the chicken blood, chicken feet cooked in two different ways, stuffed eggplants, deep fried stuffed taro, pork buns, scallop dumplings, tender greens with oyster sauce, and Sharksfin siomai.

For desert, we had their delicious mango pudding. Then, we were given, on the house, Gelatin with Beans, which was color purple and an orange colored one with the red Goji berries in it. There were six blocks of these 2' X 1 1/2" gelatin sitting right next to each other with a cute little colorful yellow umbrella stuck to it.

My daughter's jubilant smile and mood was hard to miss. She enjoyed her birthday lunch with close family and friends.
As we walked to our car, she gave me a hug and a kiss, and thanked me for the dim sum birthday lunch in HongKong. Not quite, but the food was.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scrambled Eggs with Feta Cheese and Chinese Sausage

Some of you might raise an eyebrow in disgust. Some might say, "what is she doing?" or "yuck! ", but it was actually delicious.

This fusion or marriage of the Greek feta cheese with the Chinese sausage was not intentional. It could have been a fusion/marriage of the Italian sausage and the Greek feta cheese, but Italian sausage was used to make pizza the other night. Besides, we were using up all the ingredients in the fridge so we can clean it and put in fresh new ones.

That was our breakfast this morning with newly ground freshly-brewed coffee and a toast. It was so easy to make. I like my scrambles eggs a little moist but not raw.

Ingredients

4 eggs were beaten 
3 Chinese sausages were sliced thinly 
spinach leaves
Feta cheese

Procedure
Heat a pan over medium high heat, then add the sausages. Brown for about 2 minutes. Then add the fresh baby spinach leaves and cook until lightly wilted or for 1 minute. Pour the eggs and wait for about 25 seconds before I stirring with a wooden spatula. 

Lastly, I sprinkled the feta cheese around, and I immediately served them on plates.


Photography by Chris Nyles

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shrimp Asparagus Fettuccini

It's just me and Ann, and Marley, our Chihuahua puppy. Bened and Ina, and Julie (my daughter's best friend since they were in grade 2) left for Las Vegas the other day to meet their Dad who was arriving from P.I. via Los Angeles. B and J received comp rooms at the Venetian and Palazzo Hotels and they're meeting some friends who were going there as well.

Dinner is always impromptu. No plans. We just check on what we have in the freezer, the pantry, the veggies. Then we decide on what we want to cook. Today I found big shrimps, asparagus, and Fettuccini. Ann wanted to cook, so I gave her the floor.

Before that, I defrosted 18 pieces of the big shrimps, removed the heads, removed the shells except the segment near the tail, and then I deveined them. The asparagus was cut about 1" and the tough ends were discarded. I minced about 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped 1/2 of the yellow onion, and then Ann took over.

She browned the onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil until they became transparent, and then she added the minced garlic. Next she added the cut asparagus and cooked them a little bit before adding the shrimps. Shrimps were cooked about two minutes or until all shrimps were pink. Marinara sauce was added , turning all the shrimps to make sure they were cooked. A splash of white wine and it's done.

Ingredients

16 big shrimps - remove head, remove shell except the last segment near the tail, and devein
1 bundle asparagus - remove all tough end parts and cut 1"
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
Parmegiano Reggiano - for sprinkling on top
chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnishing
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 laurel leaf
1 package Fettuccini - cook in boiling water for 8 minutes

Monday, July 20, 2009

What made me Start Blogging and Why about Food?

It all started in Spring Semester 2007 when my daughter would ask me what I thought about her articles in her Digital Journalism class at University of San Francisco. She was on her junior year and she was hoping to graduate with a major in media studies and a minor in journalism the next year.

We would stay up all night at my office, an old garage that I renovated and converted into an office at the back of our small Victorian-style cottage house. She with her laptop and I with my old, slow, almost obsolete computer.

Not a pin drop is allowed in this session. I was not allowed to make any noise, talk, or do anything that would distract my daughter's trend of thought and concentration when she was writing. Because I loved her, and because I wanted her to finish a good, well-thought article, I conceded.

That opened the door to my blogging. In exchange of my proofreading her work, she taught me the mechanics of digital journalism.

My first blog was a personal blog called "My Autobioblog", then I changed the name to "One Day at a Time", and now it has a new title, "it's a beautiful world".

I opened more blogs, and one of them is about my custom decorating/design business, another is a blog about my poems (which I temporary stopped publishing), and the other is about food and cooking, a journal of recipes I cook everyday for my family. The recipes were from my grandmother, my mother, my mother-in-law (born in China), my sisters-in-law (Mary and Lechu Uy Kho), my own creations, and modified recipes of other cooks. Many of these recipes are not published in my blogs with hopes that someday, I will be able to compile them and author a recipe book.

My food blogs's title underwent several changes. The first title was "Cooking Enthusiast", but I found out later that there's someone who has that title. Apparently, she does not blog, but she maintains a store online. Next title was "Cooking with Chris". Unluckily, when I googled that name online, I was surprised to find out that there were more than two people who had that title. "Chris' Passion with Food" followed, and now I have finally concluded, "A Taste of Home Cooking" is more upright and fair to describe the kind of cooking I am into.

It's funny how people from different parts of the world, who have never met each other, are thinking of the same thing, doing the same stuff , and having the same names.

But again, what's my flavor? I have mentioned earlier in my posts that I love all flavors, and it's true. I have not tasted a cuisine from another country that I did not enjoy and appreciate.. Each culture has its' own uniqueness and ways of preparing and cooking their food. Some may have similarities, but what differs are the variations on how the ingredients were prepared, seasoned, cooked, and presented in their own peculiar way.

Take for example the south american "tamales". The Mexican version is different from the tamales from El Salvador. They are both wrapped in little bundles (made of corn husks or banana leaf), and made from the same cornmeal. But I have observed that, they differ in where the sauces and condiments were to be added. Mexican tamales have the sauces and other condiments on the side, and you could put the right amount in your tamale as you desire. On the other hand, the El Salvadoran tamales is made in such a way that the sauce is mixed with the filling (either pork, beef, or chicken), thus presenting a complete flavorful meal without any need to put additional sauce.

Same with the "Empanadas", the variations in the pastry dough I tested/tasted were different from different cultures. I had to adjust some of the ingredients to suit my family's taste to make the crust a little stronger to hold the filling inside which is a meal by itself and balance the pastry dough from becoming soft and mushy.

But again, what's my flavor? Is flavor determined by the country of one's origin? Or is it determined by what you have been accustomed to cook and taste in your more recent life? If it is based from the first, then I would have to go back to my country of origin, the Philippines, which I have left decades ago.

Not to bore you, Philippines, a small country in southeast Asia, is one of the most diverse country in the world. It was colonized by Spain for hundreds of years, a short time by the British, the Japanese, and the last were the Americans. Previous to that, traders came from China, Indonesia, India, and other countries. There were intermarriages among the locals and the foreigners and thus explain the mixed race. The Philippine cuisine is also so diverse that some dishes are from Chinese origin, Mediterranean (Spain) , and from other countries that traded or colonized the country.


My great great grandfathers and grandmothers from both my maternal and paternal sides were from Portugal and Spain. Some of my uncles and aunts spoke Spanish with their children at home. I also have a little Chinese and Malay in me, a mixture of Asian and European lineage.

They say one's early upbringing and breeding make a person. Does it count where one grew up and was schooled? I grew up in Manila, schooled in an all-girls boarding school in Baguio City, nestled on the Cordillera Mountains in Northern Luzon in the Philippines, which was then ran by the Belgian nuns.

But, what's my flavor? To me, my flavor is a mixed flavor. I cook any flavor, as long as it taste good to me and my family. I enjoy and I appreciate all cuisines and all cultures.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Today my children and my granddaughter made chocolate ice cream. They went to the store to buy the ingredients and they all help make this delicious, creamy, and rich chocolate ice cream. I asked them for the recipe which they followed from the instruction and recipe booklet that came with the ice cream maker. I adjusted the sugar to just 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup written on the recipe because it was too sweet.

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (broken into pieces)
2 cups heavy whipping cream (well chilled)
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract

Procedure:

Scald the milk in a sauce pan on the stove (you can also microwave).n a food processor or blender, pulse the sugar with the chocolate until very fine. Add the hot milk and process until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Chill 30 minutes or more. Turn the ice cream maker on and pour the mixture into the freezer bowl through the spout. Churn until thickened about 30 minutes. Cover the freezer bowl with a plastic and keep in the freezer with temperature of 0 degrees F for two hours. Transfer to a plastic ice cream container and freeze for longer hours. The longer the better.

*Make sure freezer bowl was kept in the freezer for at least one day before using.

*Edited by author 02/01/2011

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to Cook Crabs


I prefer cooking crabs by boiling them in a big pot halfway filled with water and with a few tablespoons of salt. My son prefers steaming them in a metal steamer with just enough water.


Before you put your crabs in the pot, your water should be boiling high. Dunk each live crab head first or where the mouth is, one by one, holding it with a tong, or with your hand covered with a thick kitchen glove. If I use the tong, I hold the crab in the middle portion of the crab, gripping as hard as I can, so it doesn't slip.


Sometimes the crab fights back, and that's when I get my thick glove and hold the crab in one of it's smallest claw, and I quickly dunk it into the boiling water. Cooking time should only be about 15 to 20 minutes. Crabs should be fully submerged in water when cooking. Crabs should all turn red when cooked.

When cooked, let rest for about 5 minutes. I always serve my crabs after cooking. So get one crab, lay it on a cutting board and remove the white covering underneath. Open the crab separating the red shell from the other white part that contains all the meat. Clean the shell by removing the part in between the eyes which is the intestine. Leave the red fat which is the best part of a crab. Chop or cut with a kitchen scissors the tips of all the legs. Next, cut the other white half part of the crab into two at the center. Crack the claws and the legs with a kitchen mallet or the back of a cleaver to make them easier to eat. To avoid splattering on my kitchen, I put my crab inside a big Ziploc and then I pound with a mallet. Then cut each of the two parts into three with their legs still connected. Do the same to all the crabs. Serve all cut parts on a big platter and top with the red shells. Serve with lemon-butter sauce, cocktail sauce, or vinegar & oil, or you can make your own. I like mine with coconut vinegar with chopped yellow onions, salt, and with a drizzle of sesame oil.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries


Chocolate Dipped Fruits are one of the tricks I use to make my children eat fruits. So easy to make and so delicious to eat. You can either buy your chocolates raw (they sell them at Ghiraldelli Square in San Francisco), make them out of semi-sweet chocolate morsels, the ones that you use when you make chocolate chip cookies (melt in a double boiler), or buy the ready made ones that you can just microwave (sometimes available at Molly Stone's).

Whichever way you prefer to make it, your finished products will be a hit. Make sure you buy enough strawberries. You can also make them out of table bananas (cut into bite-sized pieces) and blueberries.

Simple tips: 
Use a toothpick. Insert halfway through the stem side for each strawberry and dip easily in melted chocolate. Let cool to harden for a few seconds holding it in your hands twirling the toothpick slowly so chocolate will stick to the fruit and not drip before laying down on a serving plate. Let cool until hardened. You can also keep them in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate. Do the same thing with 2" cut banana. I would patiently do the same with the blueberries.

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