Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Virtual Girls' Nightout

Stel of Baby Rambutan invited all bloggers for a virtual girls' night out a few weeks ago. How could one refuse? It's complete sacrilege to break my vow to party at a drop of a hat so here I am sashaying to my dance music ready to drink, eat and be merry at Stel's place. Let's parteh parteh partehhh !!

I want to sing in the karaoke so I better drink up. You know my vocal chords don't work when not lubricated by some alcoholic drink. Hic! And y'all better drink up, too. I don't want any complaints of broken ear drums when I sing. Hehehe! ;) Oh by the way, I brought these treats for us to partake ... care to join us?

Cheers mates!

I've got Sangria and some finger foods - Pinchitos Morunos and Tortilla Chilli Cheese. Actually, I also cooked Albondigas al Azafran (Meatballs with Saffron). But I think I put too much saffron and none of us really liked it. So down the bin it got chucked.


1 bottle red wine
2 cups club soda or ginger ale
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup white rum or gin (optional)
slices of unwaxed lemon and/or oranges
chopped fresh fruits (apples, pears, strawberries, pineapples, etc.)
ice cubes
  1. Chill red wine and club soda.
  2. Combine all liquid ingredients in a jug.
  3. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add lemon, chopped fruits, and ice cubes. Serve cold.

Sorry, I overcooked most of this tapas. Actually I forgot it in the oven grill. Good thing it's not completely charred. ;) In the second batch I finally got it right though it got eaten right away that's why only the burnt ones were pictured. But this was really very tasty and I'm sure the Filipino palate would like these. Adapted from Pepita Aris' Spanish Cooking cookbook.

Pinchitos Morunos
(Spicy Moorish Kebabs)

500 g  pork - sliced thinly (or in small cubes - your choice)
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp mild curry
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp paprika
freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Mash garlic in a mortar with the salt. Transfer in a container and mix in all the other ingredients except pork. Combine well.
  2. Add pork slices and mix well. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Skewer pork pieces in barbecue sticks.
  4. Grill in barbecue or oven grill. Cook in high heat for about 4 minutes each side.

This is an appetiser I often see in Mexican or American style restaurants and often have salsa, guacamole, and sour cream instead of chilli con carne. Very easy to make that even my kids can do it.

Chilli Cheese Nachos

plain or ready salted tortilla chips
chilli con carne or salsa
grated cheddar cheese
  1. Put tortilla chips in a wide shallow plate or container.
  2. Spread evenly the chilli con carne on top.
  3. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
  4. Grill briefly under a hot oven grill/broiler until cheese is melted. Serve.

Sunday, 22 May 2005

IMBB 15: Almond Jelly

Summer is nearly here. Along with the warm weather and easy laid back lifestyle, there is a preponderance of barbecues, salads and cold light desserts. Often we have fruit salad in light syrup. Occassionally we 'garnish' it with some almond jelly. This is a staple in Chinese restaurants especially popular during dimsums. Very easy to make with few ingredients. I normally use agar-agar for this but since I don't have any I adapted the recipe using unflavoured gelatine powder we get from local supermarkets.

This is my entry to the IMBB 15 whose theme is jelly or gelatine. The honor of hosting this edition lies on the lap of Elise of Simply Recipes. I'm looking forward to seeing the other entries and fattening up my file of recipes to try later. :)

[Update] If you'd like to see the round-up of all the entries to this IMBB edition, please click here. Thanks again to Elise for all the hard work.

Almond Jelly with Fruit Cocktail

3 x 11.7 g  (3 tsp) packets of gelatine powder
1 cup hot water
1 cup water
2 cups milk
3/4 cup caster sugar (superfine)
2 tsp almond essence
can of mixed fruit cocktail in syrup
  1. Sprinkle gelatine powder in a bowl with the 1 cup hot water. Stir until all of the gelatine is completely dissolved.
  2. Add 1 cup water then cool mixture to room temperature.
  3. Stir in milk, almond essence, and sugar. Mix until sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Pour into a wide container or glass baking pan. (I used a glass 13 x 9-inch pan).
  5. Cover container and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Cut the set gelatine into cubes - about 1/2-inch square.
  7. Place in a big bowl and pour the fruit cocktail with the syrup on it. Mix gently and chill some more. Serve in bowls.
*Note: You may use any combination of canned fruits and/or fresh fruits as long as it is in a light syrup. For the first picture above I used a can of peaches in syrup mixed with sliced fresh grapes and strawberries.

Friday, 20 May 2005

SHF 8: Apricot Lime Cake

Almost didn't make it to this month's Sugar High Friday which is in its 8th edition. I had to email Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess and only found out last Wednesday that this is happening today 20th May and theme is Citrus hosted by Alice of Breadbox. Yikes! I got only 2 days to think of something to do. Good thing I bought the latest Delicious magazine June 2005 issue and there in the last few pages was a cake recipe that piqued my interest. I adapted the said recipe and voila! Here is my entry.

Actually, my previous post of Citrus Trifle would have been perfect. But, oh well, I already posted it here a month ago so had to find another. Since time was of the essence or rather not enough of it, a simple straightforward recipe would be the best answer. And this one did not disappoint at all despite its ease and simplicity of ingredients. Actually I was amazed with the aroma and marvellous blend of taste of the lime and the flour/oil/sugar/apricots. The cake was very moist and soft and sweetened just right with the sharp tang of the lime juice giving it a zing and fabulous whiff. That's why I love these blogging events. It gets me an excuse to try different flavours that I would have been too chicken to try under normal circumstances. I was aiming to use mango here but my local supermarket ran out of the dried stuff. Though, I think apricot did just fine and pineapple would have been great, too.

Apricot Lime Cake

125 g  [3/4 cup] chopped dried apricot or mango or pineapple (reserve a few pieces)
125 g  [1/2 cup] natural yoghurt or sour cream
1/2 cup sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
175 g  [1/2 + 1/3 cup] golden caster sugar (superfine)
175 g  [1 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp] plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs - beaten
zest and juice of 1 lime
100 g  [3/4 cup] icing sugar (confectioner's)
25 g  [1/3 cup] dessicated coconut (may be sweetened)
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease a 2 lb (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan.
  2. In a container, sift flour and baking powder. Combine well and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine sunflower oil and sugar with a whisk.
  4. Add in lime zest, lime juice, eggs, yoghurt and apricots. Mix well.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture and beat until smooth.
  6. Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake in oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out in a rack and cool completely.

*For the icing and toppings:
  1. Add just enough lime juice to the icing sugar to have a thick but slightly runny icing.
  2. Spread on top of the cake and sprinkle dessicated coconut and reserved apricots.

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Pork-Chicken Empanada

The last time I made these was about seven years ago. Too long ago that I almost forgot how to flute the edges of the pastry. Obviously this is Spanish in origin, although the Iberian version is more savoury usually with chorizos while this Filipino version is on the sweet side. Made with sweet raisins on the inside and the pastry added with some sugar.

I'd like to think these meat filled pastries are universal. Virtually every region in the world has a version of it. They vary in size and in fillings and obviously called different names but still is essentially the same 'ol thing. Called empanada in Spanish influenced countries and birdie in Scotland. Make them a bit bigger and they are called pasties in Cornwall.

I was supposed to do Stel's chicken empanada but I didn't make it to the supermarket to buy the all important asparagus soup. So I scrounged for a recipe where I had all the ingredients and found Carolina Acosta's handiwork in the Maya Cookfest 1 cookbook. Some things I have to change like omitting the hotdogs (I didn't have them) and increasing the pork and chicken. I did not precook the chicken just cooked them from raw. And as usual reduced the oil and butter. Turned out okay I thought, however, I surmised I should have stuffed more fillings in each parcel.

Pork-Chicken Empanada

1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion - chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped bacon
1 cup minced pork
1 cup chopped chicken meat
1 cup peeled and diced potato
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup raisins - chopped
2 hardboiled eggs - sliced
chicken stock

2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter
5-6 Tbsp cold water

*For filling:
  1. Saute garlic and onion in oil.
  2. Stir in the bacon and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add pork, cook in medium heat for about 15 minutes. Mash from time to time to break up meat. Add chicken stock 1-2 Tbsp at a time if the pork is getting too dry.
  4. Add seasonings - Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.
  5. Add chicken, cook in medium heat for a further 10 minutes or until chicken meat is opaque and cooked thru. Again add chicken stock a little at a time if it's getting too dry.
  6. Add potatoes, peas, and raisins. Cook until peas and potatoes are cooked through (about 5 minutes). Blend in the butter.
  7. Remove from heat and cool.

*For the pastry:
  1. Combine well the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Cut in butter to the flour mixture with pastry cutter or two butter knives until particles are pea-sized.
  3. Add water a tablespoon at a time while tossing the flour mixture with a fork until all the flour is moistened and can be formed into a ball. Press the dough ball while turning a few times to incorporate all the flour in.
  4. Wrap in plastic cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

*To assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  2. Remove cling film from the dough and flatten with a rolling pin on a floured table or surface and shape into a log. (I usually use greased paper at the bottom and plastic cling film on top)
  3. Cut a piece and form into a ball about the size of a golf ball (1-inch in diameter).
  4. Flatten on the surface and roll out thinly into more or less a round shape.
  5. Put a heaping tablespoon of the filling mixture on the rolled out dough and top with a slice of hard-boiled egg.
  6. Pull one end or half of the dough over the other forming a half-circle shape.
  7. Seal edges by pinching by hand or with the tines of fork while cutting excess dough in the process. Repeat with the rest of the dough and fillings.
  8. Arrange empanadas on a lightly greased baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp milk).
  9. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and serve warm or cold.

*Note: You may also deep-fry the empanadas instead of baking.

Monday, 16 May 2005

London Food Bloggers' EB

In case you don't know, EB stands for eyeballing, which means a meeting - you know meeting eye to eye. I got that from other blogging friends who were great bonuses with this obsession called blogging.

Last Saturday, I had a wonderful chance of finally meeting some of these 'bonuses' - 6 foodie bloggers from the London area (well all over UK actually). Johanna of The Passionate Cook was kind enough to provide her kitchen and her house for our gathering. I certainly enjoyed the company, the conversation and of course the food. Not to mention the choice wines which were provided by our lone male member, Andrew of Spitoon. He was gracious enough to educate us on the fine points of wine drinking even of the origins, nuances, and type of food that goes with them. Very educational, indeed. A favourite by everyone was the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. While I also loved the Cava and the sweet dessert wines Johanna provided. For the complete list of what wines we imbibed, please see Andrew's blog.

On to the food, the theme was tapas and antipasti for ease of serving and minimum prep time. In the picture above from upper left to right, top to bottom:
  • shaved courgettes antipasti - brought by Jeanne of Cook Sister (I forgot to take a picture of her mushroom ones). They were very nice and refreshing to eat on that sunny day.
  • goat's cheese torta - by moi
  • chocolate mousse with praline - one of the 3 gorgeous desserts from Keiko of Nordljus
  • creme brulee - from Keiko which is probably the best I have ever tasted. It had that right balance of eggyness, creaminess, and sweetness. Truly heavenly.
  • cherry tomatoes and mushrooms - by Johanna; great salads on sticks
  • pork-chicken emapanada - from me again (will post recipe later)
  • tuna-chickpea salad - by Jenny of Pertelote; really yummy one with that great smoky tinge from the paprika
  • asparagus wrapped in parma ham with parmesan - from Johanna as well; delightful combination of flavours
  • tiramisu - from Keiko again. Love that creamy confection with the Kahlua soaked sponge layer instead of the usual lady fingers
Our food diva from Dublin, Meg of Though Small, It Is Tasty, (since she was just visiting) supplied us with an array of carefully selected breads.

We were quite a varied lot, me from the Philippines, Johanna from Austria, Jeanne from South Africa, Keiko from Japan, Andrew and Jenny the natives :), and Meg from Australia (or is it New Zealand?). I must say I did enjoy meeting them all and (for most of them) being able to put faces to the blogs I read. Thank you all for the food and company and special thank you again to Johanna and her family for putting up with us. As we were leaving there were talks of having another EB this time a picnic probably in the Henley area - Andrew's turf.

Meanwhile, let me post the bread spread I brought. This was an oft requested recipe in the usenet group way back when I was a lurker years ago. My interest was piqued enough for me to try it. It was a doddle to make for a really tasty treat for breads and biscuits. Unfortunately, the talented lady who thought up this recipe died a few years ago. Wherever you are Susan Hattie Steinsapir, thank you for sharing this. You have made a lot of people happy and full. :)

Goat Cheese Torta

170 g  goat cheese
115 g  cream cheese
2 Tbsp minced or mashed garlic (at least)
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup finely chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper [optional]
  1. Remove rind of goat cheese and mash it. Mix well with cream cheese and garlic. Taste and add salt and ground pepper if preferred.
  2. Line a small rounded bowl (about 2-3 cups size) with plastic cling film. Put about 1/3 of the goat cheese mixture into the bowl, pat level.
  3. Tip the pesto on top, pat level.
  4. Put another 1/3 of the goat cheese mixture on top of the pesto, try to pat level as best you can without mixing it in with the pesto.
  5. Put the sundried tomato on top of this, spread evenly.
  6. Finally top with the last 1/3 of the goat cheese mixture and pat level again.
  7. Cover with another piece of cling film. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight).
  8. To serve, remove the cling film on top and invert onto a serving platter. Carefully remove the other cling film lining its bottom. Decorate with herbs and serve with sliced baguettes or other breads.

Friday, 13 May 2005

Hoisin Chicken

I enjoyed this dish though I can't say the same with my children. You know how children turn up their noses with new flavours. So I had to eat this alone (husby was out of the country) for 3 dinners! If I wasn't careful I'd be crowing already like a rooster!

If you notice, the sauces' measurements all had 1/2 Tbsp with it. It's because I got this from the Australian Women's Weekly's Chinese Cooking Class cookbook. In case you don't know, Aussie tablespoon measurement is 20 ml (4 teaspoons) as opposed to the 15 ml (3 teaspoons) for the US and UK. So it was either I keep the measurements and reduce the water or convert it to the US/UK equivalent and keep the water level the same. I chose the latter because I need enough moisture to cook the broccoli which refuses to cook evenly unless I cover the pan and let it simmer through.

Hoisin Chicken

1 kg  chicken - cut into serving pieces
oil for deep frying
2 Tbsp oil
1 inch piece of ginger - peeled and grated
1 medium onion
250gm broccoli - washed and cut into small flowerets
1 red bell pepper - deseeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 x 425 g  can straw mushrooms
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 1/2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 1/2 Tbsp cooking wine
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 cup water
2 chicken stock cubes
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp cornflour
2 Tbsp water extra
  1. Dissolve 1 Tbsp cornflour in the 2 Tbsp water.
  2. Dissolve stock cubes in the water (I use hot water then let it cool down). Add in all ingredients for the sauce - soy sauce, hoisin sauce, wine, vinegar, sesame oil.
  3. Dredge chicken in cornflour. Deep fry until golden brown, drain.
  4. In a wok, heat 2 Tbsp oil with ginger gently. Once hot and sizzling, add onion; saute for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Tip in broccoli, pepper and mushrooms; cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add sauce and cover and simmer until broccoli is cooked through.
  7. Mix in the cornflour-water mixture and boil until thick.
  8. Add the fried chicken and cook for 2 minutes more. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve.

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Orange-Glazed Kamote

Kamote is the Tagalog word for sweet potato. I was thinking of submitting this in the last IMBB where the theme was orange coloured food. This is certainly looks orange, isn't it? Kamote is often served in the Phils. either boiled, fried (with sugar), or sweetened. Here is an orange twist to the usual Matamis na Kamote (sweetened sweet potato) - gee, that sounds really sugary. I found this in my old Kain Na! cookbook by the Maya Kitchen from the Phils. I have to reduce the butter and orange juice 'coz it made the syrup too thin. Really thick syrup does goes well with this one. The procedure also required blanching the kamote which I have no clue why. But I did follow it and discovered that you don't leave them lying around for long after blanching otherwise they will turn black!

Orange-Glazed Kamote

1 kg  kamote (sweet potato) - peeled and sliced into 3/4-inch thickness
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 - 1/3 cup orange juice
grated orange zest (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C/fan 140°C/Gas Mark 3. Butter an oven proof baking dish.
  2. Boil water and sugar in a saucepan until thick and golden.
  3. Stir in butter, orange juice, and orange zest. Bring to boil, remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Blanch kamote with boiling water for a few seconds. Drain.
  5. Arrange kamote in the buttered baking dish. Pour syrup over them.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until kamote is fork tender while basting with syrup from time to time.

Monday, 9 May 2005

Banana Teabread

Bear with me, I have to include all the recipes I have for using up overripe bananas. Here is another loaf-shaped bread to have with your afternoon tea. It was firm and thus deserve its name 'teabread'. Not too sweet plus the wholesome goodness of wholemeal flour and oatmeal were included. The latter two made it quite filling after only a few slices. I adapted this from my latest cookbook love - the BBC Goodfood Magazine's 101 Cakes and Bakes.

Banana Teabread

175 g  (1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp) plain wholemeal flour
50 g  (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp) medium oatmeal
100 g  butter - softened
100 g  (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp) dark muscovado sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 eggs - beaten
100 g  chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Butter the bottom of a 1kg/2lb (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients (flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and cinnamon) in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, cream/beat butter and muscovado sugar. Add the eggs and continue beating. Add the mashed banana, mix.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  5. Stir in the walnuts.
  6. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. You may cover the cake with foil halfway through the baking to avoid burning the top.
  7. Allow the bread to cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Turn out and cool completely in wire rack.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

Sweet and Sour Fish

Now where could the fish be in that picture? You see it? I almost didn't. :lol: It's like a case of 'Where is Wally?'. I had to wade through loads of carrots, bell peppers, and onions to get to the fish. Whichever way it looked, it was good. Though I've heard a chef friend calling this fish (or chicken or pork) marmalade. Whoa! I'm hurt! ;) I still think it is great as long as it's not sickly sweet. This is also called Escabecheng Isda in the Phils.

I spied a couple of fresh looking breams at the Chinese grocery the other day. There and then I decided to make this. Almost any type of white-fleshed fish can be used here: lapu-lapu (grouper), tilapia, pomfret, red snapper, etc. The vegs are really optional, you can have this without the accompanying palaver. The weather was warm enough for me to fry the fish outside in the back garden. I wouldn't dare do it again in the kitchen or else the whole house will stink even with the extractor on. Or maybe I need a more powerful extractor?

Sweet and Sour Fish

1 kg  whole white-fleshed fish - gutted and cleaned
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 medium onion - sliced
3 pieces dried shiitake mushrooms [optional]
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup julienned red or green bell pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp salt
oil for frying
extra salt for the fish
  1. Make 2 or 3 even spaced slits on the flesh of both sides of the fish. Sprinkle salt all over and set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. If using dried mushrooms, soak these in warm water for about 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze water by hand from the mushrooms. Cut off stems and discard. Shred or slice the mushrooms thinly. Set aside.
  3. Combine ketchup, vinegar, sugar, water, 1 tsp salt, and cornflour in a bowl, set aside.
  4. Heat wok or pan with about 1/2 inch of oil. Pan fry fish in medium heat on both sides until thoroughly cooked and a little crispy. The time for this will vary on how big or thick your fish is. Generally it's about 6-7 minutes each side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Arrange on a serving plate and set aside.
  5. While your fish is frying, saute the garlic and onion in a separate wok or saucepan until onion is translucent and soft.
  6. Add in carrots, bell pepper, and mushrooms (if using). Stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in the vinegar mixture and bring to boil. Cook for another minute. Remove from heat and pour on top of the fried fish. Serve warm.
*Variations: Add pineapple chunks or sprinkle some shredded green onions on top.

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

New Fangled Nutty Loves

'Been very busy man, very busy. But still I gotta blog. And blog I do with these new loves of my snacks. I lurve nuts of almost any kind. I haven't met a nut (the real kind) I didn't like. These new roasted peanuts from KP got me hmmmming while scoffing them down. One is tomato flavoured while the other has cracked black peppers on it. I actually liked the tomato thingie better. Its got this tangy-soury spice that mingles well with the nuttiness of the peanuts as you chomp on it. Have a go. Try it at your nearest supermarkets and groceries.