Thursday, 28 July 2005

Euro Blogging By Mail

Calling all Europe based food bloggers!! Wouldn't it be nice to exchange food goodies with your fellow bloggers all over Europe? If you would like to join the Blogging By Mail event European edition please point your internet compasses to Andrew's blog at Spitoon for the lowdown on the rules and details.

Nic of Bakingsheet originated this idea (I think it was mostly bloggers from US and Canada who joined) and Andrew decided to have our very own food swapping circle here. Please do join us as you know the more people we have the better.

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Paella Mixta

I've been wanting to post this for the longest time but I had to wait until I get a chance to cook it (not very often) and take a picture. Admittedly, even if in the Phils. this is a 'fiesta' quality dish, I've never really eaten this back home or maybe I did but did not like our first meeting. However, once I set foot here in Europe and had access to the ingredients needed for it, I set about hunting for a good recipe to religiously follow the directions. I got more fuel for it when I visited Valencia, the traditional home of paella, where I got to taste the authentic the real thing. As in my previous Valencia post, the original Paella Valenciana DO NOT have any seafood in it. Traditional ingredients for it include rabbit meat, chicken, broad beans, snails, other vegetables besides of course the rice. If the paella has seafood exclusively then it's called Paella Mariscos. While the one with mixed meats - red, white, seafood, et al - is called Paella Mixta, hence the name of this recipe.

This time around my paella was a bit on the 'wet' side since I put in a whole tin of chopped tomatoes (400gm). I didn't want to put in half and waste the other half however I forgot to reduce the amount of stock accordingly. Also, I think I have to be braver and not be constantly scared that the rice is undercooked. It's cooked alright but it's got more sauce than desired. Like any popular dish, there are hundreds of variations. You can put almost any combination of meat, seafood and/or veggies. Some even grill the top a little, some involves cooking the meat entirely separate from the rice and only combining them together at the end. I rather prefer Delia Smith's technique of cooking the chicken with the rice so that the flavour from the chicken is well infused in the rice. I have loosely adapted this from her How To Cook Book 2. Her instructions and most other recipes says not to stir it much after the rice has boiled. But I can't help it because the pan is so much bigger than the hob consequently the heat is not evenly distributed. Besides the meat will not be cooked well if I don't stir it. Another note, if you're going to cook this please use only paella rice such as Calasparra, Bomba, and Granza. The rice in it is supposed to be creamy and clinging a bit to each other but not exactly sticky - very similar to risotto. You wouldn't want to use long grain or Jasmine rice in your risotto, would you?

Paella Mixta

350 g  paella rice (calasparra, bomba, granza, etc.)
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
750 g  chicken - cut into serving pieces
1 large onion - chopped roughly
1 red bell pepper - diced into 1/2-inch pieces
110 g  chorizo - skinned and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp saffron strands
225 g  tomatoes - skinned and chopped
5 cups stock or water
10-12 raw tiger prawns, shell-on
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
salt and pepper
  1. In a 13-inch paella pan, heat oil then lightly brown chicken in batches. Set aside.
  2. Saute onion, bell pepper and chorizo for about 5 minutes in medium heat.
  3. Stir in garlic, paprika, cayenne (if using), saffron and cook for about 1 minute.
  4. Bring back the chicken to the pan, stir a little; then tomatoes.
  5. Add plenty of seasonings (salt and pepper) and pour in the stock.
  6. Bring to boil then simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.
  7. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and set aside.
  8. Pour rice in the pan and stir.
  9. Bring back to boil, stir once or twice making sure rice is not sticking at the bottom. Lower down heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. As you simmer, move pan occasionally to distribute heat evenly since your pan is more likely to be a lot bigger than your cooking hob.
  10. Return chicken to the pan, cook for another 10 minutes while stirring occasionally (and *carefully* so as not to turn the rice into mush) and adding more liquid if necessary.
  11. Add prawns and peas and cook for another 5-10 minutes turning prawns half way through.
  12. Check rice if cooked especially ones at the outer edges. If not yet fully cooked, simmer for a few minutes more while keeping a close eye to make sure the bottom is not browning too much. Add more liquid if necessary.
  13. Remove from heat. Cover with a tea towel for about 5 minutes to absorb moisture. Serve with wedges of lemon.

Monday, 25 July 2005

Pinaputok na Isda

The husband wanted something 'simple' and uncomplicated for dinner. No rich sauces or dozens of ingredients to purchase. So we thought of this, never mind that the name is quite appropriate in the current climate here in London. Pinaputok in English means fired, popped, or exploded (thank goodness all we're 'exploding' is a fish). I'm not quite sure why this is called as such since it does not really 'pop' though I have an inkling it might have originated in another region where the name means something else. Traditionally, this is wrapped in banana leaves and fried. But I don't have any banana leaves so I used a foil plus we wanted something not oily so we baked it. I imagine this would even be better in a barbecue.

Pinaputok na Isda
(Baked Fish)

1 piece fresh fleshy fish (sea bass, pomfret, grouper, tilapia, sea bream, etc.)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion - chopped
green onion or coriander - chopped (optional)
salt to taste
  1. Scale, gut, clean, and wipe dry the fish. Score with several slits (tari-an) on each side.
  2. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the fish and in the stomach cavity, making sure the salt gets in the slits that you made. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the chopped tomatoes, onions and coriander (if using) in a bowl.
  4. Lay the fish on a piece of aluminum foil big enough to wrap it. Put the tomatoes and onions in the stomach cavity, under and on top of the fish.
  5. Wrap the fish tightly crimping the ends of the foil.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C/fan 180C/400F for 40 minutes or on a barbecue.

Saturday, 23 July 2005

Cookbook Meme

Charlie of What's Cooking? and Stel of Baby Rambutan both tagged me in another meme. Just in time to have some break from all the baking and cooking. This gotta be my favourite of all the memes passed to me. I'm the type who has cookbooks for bedtime reading ...

1. Total number of cookbooks I own.

54 (not including the food magazines and hundreds of clippings)

2. Last cookbook I bought.

Brian Turner's Favourite British Recipes

3. Last food/cook book I read.

Book of Baking by Sue Lawrence

4. Five (cook)books that mean a lot to me.

Why only five? Most of the cookbooks I list here are ones that taught me the basics of cooking mostly from the time I went away and got married. You can easily tell due to the state they're in that they're favourites - dog eared, worn out, food splattered, no cover, etc. I wanted to put in my old beloved Betty Crocker's as well but I lost it when my sister's friend borrowed it then said it 'burned' in an office fire. Yeah right. Hmmmp!

Let's Cook with Nora Daza - when I first set up house with my husband, I only know how to cook the standard Filipino fare of adobo, nilaga, sinigang, and the odd fried fish (or fried anything for that matter). So this was indispensable to me in jogging my memory on how to cook other Filipino dishes.

Maya Cookfest series - my friend Nanette gifted me with the first 2 of this and I bought the last 2. It gives me joy just reading the recipes, always imagining and salivating on cooking the great dishes there.

Chinese Cuisine & Chinese Cooking for Beginners by Huang Su-Huei - this pair guided me a lot in creating and imitating tasty Chinese dishes we had while living in Hong Kong. They are one of my most cherished cookbooks.

How to Cook series by Delia Smith - again another one of my reference books (this time for Western cuisine) whom I consult whenever I want to find out how to cook certain basic ingredients or dishes. Her recipes always work.

The Food of the Philippines by Reynaldo Alejandro - a very good source of information about Filipino food and the recipes work, too.

5. Which five people would you like to see fill this out in their blog?

Most of the people I know has been tagged already so I hope these five haven't been yet:

Thess of Eets Makelijk
Annalyn of Ajay's Writings On The Wall
Ling of Little Gingko Nut
Dilek of Dilek'ce
Riana of For The Love of Baking

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Ayam Tempra

The moment I saw this dish in Stel's blog, adapted from the cookbook Shiok! by Terry Tan and Christopher Tan, I was enamored. I felt I had to try it since we often have chicken at home, much more than any other meat and had to find other ways of serving it from the usual. Both me and my husband love the salty-sweet taste plus the subtle flavour of the blachan which is very similar to the Pinoy's bagoong. Stel was right, hot steaming rice is the perfect accompaniment with this dish plus any salad or stir fried vegetables.

The blachan or shrimp paste that I got from our local Chinese grocery is from Thailand branded as 'Tranchang'. Malaysia and Indonesia also have this pungent ingredient. It's drier, finer and more concentrated than our bagoong but imparts similar taste and aroma. If you can't find it, I think you can substitute bagoong. The only complain my husband had was he got pricked with the lemon grass while eating because what I did was to chop it into small pieces and mash with mortar and pestle. After conferring with the chef Stel, next time I'll cut them into bigger pieces, just slightly bruise them so it can be easily fished out before serving. So here's my take on this tasty dish and thanks to Stel for sharing it.

Ayam Tempra
(Spicy-Sour Stir-fried Chicken)

750 g  chicken - cut into serving pieces
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion - quartered
1 stalk lemongrass - cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces, pounded slightly
1 long green chilli pepper - sliced (optional)
1 bird chilli - sliced (optional)
1/2 cup chicken stock/broth
3 Tbsp lime juice
3-4 Kaffir lime leaves - midrib removed and leaves finely sliced

1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 stalk lemongrass - cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces, pounded slightly
1 tsp shrimp paste (blachan)
3 Tbsp ketjap manis (thick sweet soy sauce), or dark soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 Tbsp crushed palm sugar
  1. In a mortar and pestle mix and mash all marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. Set aside and let sit for at least an hour. Drain and reserve marinade.
  2. In a wok, heat the oil over medium high heat. Saute the garlic, onion, lemongrass, and chili, until fragrant.
  3. Add chicken pieces and stir fry until chicken is well browned.
  4. Pour in the marinade and chicken broth. Bring to boil then lower heat to a simmer.
  5. Stir from time to time, adding more broth or water a little at a time if it gets too dry. Cook until chicken is tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  6. [optional] Remove lemongrass.
  7. Add in lime juice, Kaffir lime leaves, and salt to taste. Stir well and remove from heat. Serve.

Note: If using boneless chicken meat, cooking time is cut drastically and you may not need to add more broth or water.

Friday, 15 July 2005

SHF 10: Honey Cake

As you may have noticed by now, I'm partial to recipes that has few ingredients and/or easy and simple to make. The recent announcement of the current Sugar High Friday theme of honey, which by the way is hosted by Nic of Bakingsheet, got me scouring my cookbooks. Luckily the BBC GoodFood Magazine's 101 Cakes and Bakes yielded this one-saucepan simple and easy cake. But don't let its simplicity fool you for it resulted in a very moist and moreish cake perfect for afternoon tea. The nice thing about it is you can change the taste by using different flavoured honey instead of the usual clear one. You can have flavour as mild or as strong as you like depending on the honey you use. My work colleagues whom I gave a generous part of this cake gave it a resounding thumbs up. This is a definite keeper of a recipe.

Devonshire Honey Cake

225 g  unsalted butter
250 g  honey
100 g  dark muscovado sugar
3 large eggs - beaten
300 g  [2 1/4 cups] self-raising flour
2 Tbsp honey for glazing
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/300°F/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20 cm/8-in round loose-bottomed baking pan.
  2. Melt butter, honey, and sugar slowly in a saucepan. Boil for one minute. Leave to cool.
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time in the saucepan.
  4. Add in the flour; mix well.
  5. Pour into the pan and bake for 50 minutes or until cake is golden brown and spring back when pressed.
  6. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack. Warm 2 Tbsp honey in a small saucepan and brush over the top of the cake to glaze. Leave to cool.

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Prosciutto Quail Egg Rolls

One of the finger foods that I prepared for my aborted participation in the last London Food Blogger's picnic at the Henley Regatta is this scrumptious quail eggs wrapped in prosciutto. Lovely melding of flavours with the spiky tang of the lime zest contrasting with the creamy and a bit salty cream/smoked cheese mixture serving a nice foil to the blandness of the quail eggs while the chewy-citrusy prosciutto completes the melange of flavour. This was a lovely surprise and one that I will definitely make again. Next time I will try it without the smoked cheese or probably choose one that's not too salty.

I love air dried hams such as the Prociutto di Parma or the Spanish Jamon Iberico or Jamon Serrano. They are just so yummy to have very thinly sliced on sandwiches, cheese or just eaten on their own. Steep prices of these is the only thing stopping me from having them all the time.

Prosciutto Quail Egg Rolls

12 quail eggs
40 g  cream cheese
2 Tbsp finely grated smoked cheese
1/4 tsp grated lime zest
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
6 slices prosciutto di parma (parma ham)
  1. Hard boil quail eggs by lowering in a gently simmering pan of water. Cook for 4 minutes. Drain and cool immediately by plunging into cold tap water. Peel and cut in half lengthwise.
  2. Combine cream cheese, smoked cheese, lime zest, chopped basil in a bowl. Mix well.
  3. Cut prosciutto in half lengthwise then cut in half again crosswise making 24 pieces.
  4. Spread cream cheese mixture in each strip then wrap each of the quail egg halves in it. This can be made about 6 hours in advance.

Tuesday, 12 July 2005


A favourite childhood snack of mine is 'biscocho' - toasted left-over bread smeared with butter (or Star margarine) and sprinkled with sugar. Biscocho in Spanish means sponge cake while the Filipino version is a crunchy piece of bread toasted with butter and sugar all around. This is certainly one of my most treasured comfort food from my growing up period in the Phils. The crunchy bite on the bread (usually pandesal) with the salty-sweet taste of the caramelised butter-sugar mixture is simply a great way to fill you up. You could just imagine how this came about - mothers who wanted to use up their supply of stale pandesals and serve as snacks to their brood. What a nice invention.


slices of bread
butter or margarine
  1. Spread butter or margarine on the bread and sprinkle sugar on top. Spread the butter a bit on the thick side to have enough for caramelising with the sugar also to make the sugar stick on the bread. If you prefer you can do this on both sides of the bread.
  2. Grill in a hot oven (about 400F/200C) until butter and sugar bubbles up and turn golden. Serve warm or cold.

Monday, 11 July 2005

Insalata Caprese

Whenever my husband wanted to have a simple uncomplicated healthy light food, the first thing that comes to his mind is this Italian salad. It is quite simply his favourite. And why not? It's one of the very few that he can make without anybody's assistance ;-). Named 'caprese' in honor of the Italian island of Capri where this supposedly originated.

There are only two main ingredients in this one - tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. As for the dressing, some people (like him) like to drizzle just olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it. Others (like me) want something with more flavour like a vinaigrette - any type will do for me. I included a vinaigrette recipe below which I adapted from Delia Smith's The Delia Collection Italian. Make sure to drizzle the olive oil or dressing right before serving because soaking in oil/dressing will just make the tomatoes soggy.

We're having a lot of this lately because of the hot weather and the abundance of tomatoes in season. Beef tomatoes or large vine-ripened tomatoes can be used (though the latter has more flavour, IMO). With the cheese, get the mozzarella that's shaped like a ball and packed with some water. I heartily recommend the mozzarella made from buffalo milk (mozzarella di bufala) due it being more creamy (according to the husband) than the ones made from cow's milk.

Insalata Caprese

fresh ripe tomatoes - sliced 1/4-inch thick
mozzarella cheese - sliced 1/4-inch thick
fresh basil leaves - torn into pieces
salt and pepper (optional)
olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar (optional)

*Vinaigrette Dressing

1 garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped herbs (basil, tarragon, thyme, etc.)
freshly ground pepper
  1. Arrange overlapping layers of tomatoes and mozzarella in a plate.
  2. Scatter the basil leaves on top and crush some salt and pepper on it, if using.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette dressing. Serve immediately.

*For the Vinaigrette Dressing
  1. Mash the garlic and salt with a mortar and pestle. Add the mustard and mash until creamy.
  2. Transfer to a small bowl and add the vinegar, olive oil, and pepper. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the chopped herbs.
  4. Drizzle on salads just before serving.

Thursday, 7 July 2005

Muscovado Brownies

For industrial strength brownie lovers, I dedicate this one. (Am I not sounding like Master Yoda?) I found Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking at our local library and just wanted to try *everything* in that cookbook, forgetting that my ancient oven is not really up to scratch. But since the peculiar characteristic of burnt edges and undercooked middle is perfect for brownies so I gladly made this one. It is indeed intensely chocolately and if that's what you fancy then welcome to this post. Maybe next time I'll try to play around with the chocolate and sugar proportions to tame the chocolate a little bit. My previous brownie recipe of Banana Nut Brownies is not far off from this. I imagine this would be great with milk, ice cream, strong tea or even stronger coffee.

Muscovado Brownies

350 g  dark chocolate (60-70 per cent cocoa solids)
200 g  unsalted butter
250 g  [1 1/4 cups] dark muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
70 g  [2/3 cup] plain flour - sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/325°F. Butter bottom and sides of a deep 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water in a saucepan. Stir and mix until smooth.
  3. In a container or bowl, combine well the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, put in the sugar, making sure to break up lumps if there are any.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add this to the melted chocolate; combine well.
  6. Add in the flour mixture, gently folding together.
  7. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 30 minutes. Cut into squares or desired serving sizes in the pan before allowing to cool completely. Remove from pan.

Tuesday, 5 July 2005

Column Feature and Cooking Meme

What a hectic weekend that was. And it seems everyone else including here in blogosphere is making the most out of the good summer weather and the holidays. Everybody's busy ... partying and relaxing. It's only now that I got to blog. First things first, just want everyone to know that I was included by Ajay in her Blog-o-Rama column in the Manila Bulletin. I was one of four food bloggers in a roundtable discussion about what else - food. Thanks Ajay for featuring us!

Now let's have some fun. I was tagged by the cooking queen of Boston, Stel of Baby Rambutan for this cooking meme, here it goes ...

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?

I clearly remembered being left for about an hour with my 2 younger sisters at home. I was probably 7 or 8 years old at the time. To amuse them, I decided to treat my sisters to popcorns. My mother used to cook popcorns in our a banged up old aluminum pot and I distinctly remembered how she did it. I thought, 'I can do that with no problem at all.' So I turned on the electric stove, put the pot on, poured ridiculous amount of oil then added a fistful of popcorns, covered the pot and waited until it popped. Once we heard the tell-tale popping sounds I dutifully shook the pot just like my nanay did. It was fine until I opened the lid and out came this big black puff of smoke! We thought we had to call the bumberos (firemen). My sisters have to make do with the popcorns on top because all of the ones at the bottom where burned black. Nevertheless, from then on one of the strict instructions from my mother was - no more cooking. Hehehe!

Who had the most influence on your cooking?

That would be my nanay (mother) and my Lolo Apeng (maternal grandfather). Nanay was the one who first taught me how to cook - all the Pinoy basics from anything fried, sinigang, adobo, nilaga, etc. although it was my Lola Ebia (maternal grandmother) who taught me the nuances of cooking rice in a pot. I'd like to think I inherited my cooking genes from Lolo Apeng. He's a great cook and a stickler for details. He's the type who won't cook at all if he can't do it the right way with the right ingredients prepared in the way that he deemed correct.

Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?

Since my childhood photos are few and far in-between, I don't think I have this. Though my family will surely attest that I'm a very enthusiastic eater. :)

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?

I didn't have any before but just recently I get nervous when blind baking tarts or pie bases because of repeated disasters I was in. :(

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?

Well, I don't know if you consider it a 'gadget' but my cleaver is indispensable to me. I use it for most kitchen jobs from slicing, mincing, tenderising, whacking garlics open, etc. Letdown? Hmmm … I think it would be the mini chopper. After only 1 month, the blades were already blunt.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like and probably no one else.

I'm pretty boring in this regard, most of the combinations I like are 'orthodox' such as crispy fried anything with rice and sinigang or singkamas (jicama) sliced thinly and marinated in vinegar and salt and chilled well then I eat it and slurp up the vinegar as well. Yum!

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?

Rice, dimsums, patis (fish sauce), adobo.

3 quickies:
favorite ice cream ...
Rocky Road, Coffee Mangosteen
you will probably never eat ... Like Stel - 'pet food', horse meat, escargot
signature dish ... I really don't have any signature dish to speak of but my cassava cake always get requested.

Tag 3 people ... I think most people has been tagged already but hopefully these three haven't been yet - April Lassy, Ting Aling, and Jmom.