"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Baking & Cooking

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

It's Halloween!
From pumpkin carving


One thing we have embraced in the Western Culture is the tradition of pumpkin carving during this holiday. I have to go to work tonight so we did this last night. Too bad my stepd had to be with her mother so she was not able to join in the fun. (We also made sugar cookies and tried to decorate them.) Here's my artwork, and those of my kids can be seen in the slideshow below.

I purchased a cheap pumpkin carving kit from Hannaford a few weeks ago. The boys were quite excited when they saw it (first time to have that at home!) so last night was the opportunity they (we all) have been waiting for. I myself had some fun (I joined in the carving craze since my stepd was not here and my husband never really was interested in this activity. He just likes appreciating our finished products.) Now I am off to find a recipe for the seeds...

Mozarella Sticks

There is a family-friendly restaurant about 45 minutes away from our house that we visit often. Our favorite appetizers is the mozarella sticks.
From Mozarella Sticks

At home one attempt that I have made to come up with something close is to make them using lumpia wrappers instead of batter, then dip in homemade marinara sauce (I'd like to think that I made marinara sauce although I was not looking at a recipe when I cooked it. Basically sauteed lots of tomatoes with other ingredients we usually use. We like the outcome and that's all that matters!). For purposes of simplifying things, I suggest you use the recipe below for marinara sauce.

Then one day, my older son and I thought of trying to really copy those served in that restaurant. I looked up the ingredients and one weekend we tried. We were very satisfied with the outcome, and my son had fun making them. Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.


Mozzarella SticksPrep Time: 30 min Inactive Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min Cook Time: 10 min Level:
Intermediate Serves:
6 to 8 servings (makes about 56 pieces) 1 1/2 cups Italian-style dried breadcrumbs
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
2 (16-ounce) blocks pasteurized mozzarella cut into 4 by 1/2-inch sticks
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups Marinara Sauce, recipe follows


Stir the bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl to blend. Dip the cheese in the eggs to coat completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Coat the cheese in the bread crumb mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Place the cheese sticks on a baking sheet. Repeat dipping the cheese sticks in the egg and bread crumb mixture to coat a second time. Cover and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the fried cheese to plates. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve with the Marinara Sauce.



Marinara Sauce:


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

Yield: 2 quarts
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sauteed Pork with Veggies

This one is easy to make, especially when you have Filipina friends to do all the chopping.
From sauteed pork with veggies


We had a get-together last Saturday, when I brought lechon paksiw. We needed veggies and I had most ingredients on hand. But the way we Filipinos cook, we usually have protein-rich ingredient with veggies, and that means bits of either pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp. I brought the veggies, and told the hostess she needed to provide the meat. No problem! So chop they did, and I started cooking.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 lb pork, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 small upo, cut into chunks (similar to zucchini, only tougher and more solid)
3 tomatoes, sliced
handful of green beans
half cabbage, cut into chunks
salt and pepper to taste
ground dried basil leaves

Instructions:

Sautee garlic and onion in 2 tbsp oil until translucent. Add pork and stir-fry until browned. Add tomatoes until caramelized. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Add carrots and upo and cook for about 2 minutes then add green beans and cook for another 2 minutes. Finally add the cabbage. Sprinkle with some basil leaves. Enjoy while hot.

Note: Never cover stir-fried veggies (I was told by a friend/classmate from Medicine class). This tend (I observed it as well) to lessen the lively color of veggies that they appear like they are no longer crunchy, although they still are (if you stir-fry them first such that they get coated with oil before they steam from their own juice).

Ginisang Mani (Peanuts Deep-Fried with Garlic)

When I was still in PI, I used to buy freshly cooked
From ginisang mani
peanuts from one of the street vendors, and I would often request to include lots of toasted garlic. Since coming to the US, I have not really had peanut prepared this way. What I often see in the grocery stores are honey-roasted, or plain, and while they are crunchy, they just do not taste the same.

Then I saw some small uncooked peanuts in a natural food stall near me (Spice of Life). So I excitedly got a bag, then tried to cook them FOR THE FIRST TIME in my life. I knew I had to use enough oil to submerge the nuts. I knew I had to stir often. I knew I had to use garlic. What I did not know was the timing. I ended up with burnt (overcooked) peanuts with chewy (undercooked) garlic. Probably because I placed all garlic and peanuts at the same time. Probably I waited too long for the peanuts to brown and get crunchy (I tried to taste them before getting them off the pan).
I chucked them away.

It took a while before I had the gumption to try again. I got a small bag of peanuts from a Chinese store in Portland (2-hr ride from my house!) some months ago. Now I finally had the courage to try again. And I was glad with the outcome.

First I heated the oil to med high (6) for several minutes. I added the garlic to

cook until translucent before I poured in all the peanuts. Now the peanuts lowered the temp right away, so I put the heat on high (10)for about 2 minutes or so then back at med high and kept stirring. When I saw a slight change in color and some bubbles forming on the surface of the peanuts without cover, I started scooping them out with a strainer and placed on paper towels and let them cool off a bit before trying them. This time I ended up with just the right taste and crunch both of the peanuts and garlic. And no, I do not eat the big chunks of garlic. I sliced them big enough so I can easily pick them up when cooked, but breaks off just a little piece to eat with 4-5 peanuts at a time. I love the mingling of flavors that way.

I brought this to work that night and was quite surprised at how others were eating them, even the garlic! I was even warned by my charge nurse that if I did not hide it, she would not be able to stop herself from getting more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lechon Paksiw

To foreigners: Please be warned: Contents and photos might offend you. If you are the type who cringes at the thought of having ligaments and skins in your food, please leave this page.

Notice my cute halloween background? Saw it first in Liz's blog, and followed the link to download the same background for me!
One of my friends roasted pig (lechon) during her birthday. I was on duty that day but I promised to visit her the next day. So I did. She sent home with me a bucketful of leftover lechon. I got to admit I am not a big fan of (tasteless) lechon, except for crunchy skin. But I do love leftovers because I turn them to lechon paksiw. I froze the leftover for a while until my Filipina and friends could get togather again (last week). I did have to browse the net for some basic recipes, and remembering what my Nanay used to do with hers, I added some breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce. I also used the slow cooker, and prepared this the night before the get-together. I had too much (for 4 other Pinays) that even with the take-homes, I still ended up with half the original amount to bring back home. I kept it on keep warm setting at home with occasional stirring and my sons would eat this whenever, for three days! Masarap pero nakakasawa din ha...

Ingredients:
2-3 pounds leftover lechon, cut into big chunks
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 big onion cut into chunks
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt (then add more later to taste)
additional water to cover
2 (11.64 oz) jars of Mang Tomas Sarsa ng lechon
additional breadcrumbs for thickening

Procedure:
Place lechon pieces into 3-qt slow cooker. Pour the rest of ingredients except water, sarsa, and breadcrumbs. Cook on slow setting for 2-3 hours. Stir in MT sarsa, add enough breadcrumbs to thicken to desired consistency. Adjust taste with salt as necessary.


Ultimate Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pancakes

As I have repeatedly said recently, (kulit!!!) I have been using more and more of ready mixes. Bisquick is one of my faves, especially for waffles or pancakes. I particularly love this recipe that they have on the back if you want melt-in-your-mouth fluffy pancake types (achievable by adding the lemon juice and baking powder). My family absolutely loves them!
Below is a copy and paste of the recipe from the offical website of Bisquick.


Ingredients:

2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs

Procedure:

1. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375°F; grease with cooking spray, vegetable oil or shortening. (Surface is ready when a few drops of water sprinkled on it dance and disappear.)
2. Stir all ingredients until blended. Pour by slightly less than 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle.
3. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook until golden. To keep warm, place in single layer on cookie sheet. Cover with aluminum foil, and place in 200°F oven up to 10 minutes.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I had salad for lunch today!

When I am alone at home and it's lunchtime, I graze over fridge contents. I so happened to have leftover from previous night's supper. We had grilled chicken that was marinated in WishBone Robusto Italian dressing, served with iceberg salad and rice (mashed potatoes for my husband). For leftovers, I had a whole chicken breast, which I cut in half (two servings for me) and 1/3 bag of the iceberg salad mix. Then I thought I'd throw in some croutons as well. I used the same dressing as above. I wish I had on hand some cherry tomatoes and crumbled cheese, but I just had to content myself with what I got.
These were my bestfriend today. I prepared another for me to bring to work that night, and I learned that croutons should not be thrown in along with the veggies and chicken and then refrigerated. I knew I had to add the dressing just immediately prior to eating this, but the croutons were soft already! Now I know what not to do for bring-to-work salads.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Beef Stew

How many times have I said that
From beef stew
I have been using more and more ready mixes since I started working? Well, this beef stew is a recent addition to those dishes. I particularly like McCormick mixes.

Although my Filipino tongue prefers the tomato-based kaldereta style of beef stew, I figure, if I use these ready mixes, I cannot go wrong in that my husband's palate will probably be familiar with that taste. After all, they are just a mix of spices. As long as I use our home-grown beef, and fresh ingredients from the grocery store, then I am all set.

The ingredients and directions are in the back of the package itself, so I will not post it here anymore.


Chicharon using Smoked Pork Fat Back and a Meat Slicer

This is the pan fried fat back slices I used in place of bacon. When I made this, it turned out to be like the homemade chicharon; however, the rind part is so tough, my kids did not like those parts. But once they were soaked for a while in the chowder (where I used them), they were tender and added flavor!

I had three slabs of these smoked fat back that my MIL gave to me, and I experimented with the first one by boiling it then broiling, hoping to come up with some sort of crispy lechon, but I only ended up with gallons of oil drippings and chewy rind on top of melting fat...I tossed it away.

Well, this time, after hearing my MIL say that she likes cooking this as she would bacon, I tried the same thing, using my Rival meat slicer that I got several months ago but was just sitting in the uppermost shelf of one of my cupboards. While I was not completely satisfied with the operation of this cheap meat slicer, I was quite content with the outcome of the slices. At least it did the job easier than I if I did it by hand using a (dull and cheap) knife. Clean up was not that easy (and I don't remember seeing the instructions for it. Easy enough to figure out, though.

If I was not too cheap, I should have checked amazon.com first for reviews on top rated meat slicers before buying. The Chef's Choice 610 would have been a good Christmas gift for myself. :) Even hubby says that is not too expensive for a meat slicer. Hmmm....

For those who might be interested on HOW TO MAKE CHICHARON the DOST way, here is their recipe (I have not tried):
CHICHARON

Materials:
1 kilo of pork skin 4 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt vetsin and pepper

Procedure:

1. Boil the pork skin in a sufficient amount of the prepared solution until tender.

2. After boiling, cool and remove the fat portion.

3. Slice into desired sizes.

4. Dry under the sun until firm.

5. Deep-fry at about 188 C and strain.

6. Pack in plastic bags.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Butter Fried Chicken Strips

My husband loves this simple chicken dish. I first had it when we celebrated a family occasion at my sister-in-law's. She used several pans over several burners to cook all the pieces and serve them at the same time. My husband was so excited when he saw them cooking. So I had been cooking them from time to time since then, using chicken breasts, but I was not really satisfied with the bland taste of the meat until I experimented with brining the pieces first with a mixture of kosher salt and spices. I was in heaven when I bit! My husband noticed the flavor as well, and asked if I used garlic. I admitted, and I asked him if he did not like it. He said he liked the garlic flavor. Whether he really liked it or not (maybe he was just avoiding hurting my feeling?), if I ask him and he hinted approval, then that is how he will get the dish every time in the future. But then, I have had dishes that I modified and he frowned upon tasting the difference from previous, so I would take his word when he said he liked the garlic flavor of this.
For the brining solution, put simply, I use a 1:1 ratio for water and kosher salt. That is, 1 gallon of water to 1 cup of kosher salt. I love the effect of kosher salt. It just brings out a special flavor even in fried rice (if used in place of table salt). I adjust the ratio accordingly. I first learned brining when I had to host a Thanksgiving get-together, and I wanted flavor deep into the meat rather than just on the surface (like how my in-laws usually would have with their turkeys). Everyone loved the flavor of that turkey and my SIL even brought home some for sandwich the next day.

Ingredients:
2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 stick butter

Brining solution:
1/4 cup of Kosher salt
1 quart (4 cups) of water
3 cloves garlic, crushed
freshly milled pepper (about 5 turns)
3 bay leaves

Procedure:
Brine the chicken pieces and let sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
Drain chicken pieces well.
Using a thick, preferably cast iron pan, melt butter in medium high heat (#6 with my stove). Once butter has clarified, pan fry the chicken pieces. Add more butter as necessary while you turn to cook other sides of the pieces. Drain on paper towels before serving. Serve with salad greens and mashed potatoes or fries.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Apple Crisp

One time, after baking two apple pies, I still had extra apples and I was kinda getting tired of making pies, so I searched for another apple recipe, and apple crisp was suggested by my older son, as they sometimes have this at school and likes it. I liked it too when I tried the outcome of the recipe below that I lifted from joyofbaking.com, although it was mainly the topping that I copied. The filling I prepared as I usually do for my apple pie . Hubby liked it as well, especially served while warm, with vanilla ice cream.


Ingredients:
Topping:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Filling:
8 pcs of apples (I used Cortland) peeled, cored and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Procedure:


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray with a cooking spray, a 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Set aside.

For Topping: Place all the topping ingredients (flour, sugars, spices, butter, oats, and nuts) in a food processor and process until the mixture is crumbly (looks like coarse meal) and there are no large pieces of butter visible. (This can also be done with two knives or your fingertips.) Set aside while you prepare the filling.

For Filling: Place the apple slices in a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and the rest of the ingredients. Transfer to your prepared baking dish. Spread the topping evenly over the apples.

Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat before serving.
Makes 4 servings

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lobster & Corn Chowder

As I mentioned earlier, I used my leftover lobster meat for chowder (my favorite food to make with lobster heads and smaller claws).
From lobster chowder
But since this time I had 3 leftover whole lobsters (that is, after I made my lobster roll for lunch the next day), I had a total of almost 2 lbs meat, and the chowder I came up with was enough for supper, and even for breakfast (I myself brought a bowl to work that night).
I got the idea and tweaked some from the recipe at epicurious. The tweaking depended on what I had on hand, as usual.

Ingredients:
2 lbs leftover lobster meat (previously boiled)
8 slices of smoked pork fat back, pan fried until crispy (I used this in place of bacon)
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, diced (smaller than potatoes)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup celery stalks, sliced into 1/8 inches
4 cups frozen and thawed sweet corn kernels (I had mine from my garden; feel free to use canned)
6 cups lobster broth (prepared day before))
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp butter

Procedure:


Prepare lobster meat. Set aside in the fridge.

Purée 2 cups corn with 1 1/2 cups broth in processor until almost smooth.

Pan fry on medium heat the thin fat back slices (or bacon) until crisp. Place on paper towel to drain excess oil, crumble and set aside. Leave about 3 tbsp of oil drippings in the pan.

Cook partially the diced potatoes and corn. Doing this helps them retain their shape and prevents making them too starchy/pasty. Set aside.

Pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pot. Add onions to pot; sauté until light golden, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery; sauté until vegetables soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Add broth; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in corn puré, corn kernels and heavy cream; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove soup from heat; stir in sour cream.

Melt butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add lobster meat and sauté just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with lobster pieces, crispy fat back (or bacon bits) and serve.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lobster Rolls

Last Sunday night we ate the lobsters with my favorite tender rolls, pandelimon. While traditionally, lobster rolls use the typical hotdog buns, I used leftovers of both lobsters and pandelimon to make myself some "lobster rolls" for lunch the next day. Pictured here are two of them (I already ate the first one).

How to:

Slice horizontally and place your rolls in oven toaster at 350 F for about 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the lobster meat into bite-size pieces,mix with about 1 tbsp mayonnaise, sprinkle with some (real) lemon juice (probably 1/2 tsp), add a dash of salt and pepper (I used Kosher salt and freshly milled pepper). One whole lobster can make 4 of these (or two using hotdog rolls). I was only able to eat 3 as I was stuffed! I saved the remaining lobster filling for later when my sons came home. The first one to see it got to eat it, who happened to be my older son. He loved it! He said, "Now I know how lobster rolls are made!" I did not really know the exact recipe for that, and I just went ahead with my insticts, but it made me try to search for recipes, and what I saw were the same ingredients. I should learn to trust my instincts...




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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lobster Dinner

I have posted sometime in the past that our family traditionally has lobster dinner at Boothbay Harbor during summer. Well, we usually do that once a year, since the trip is quite a long one. However, last week, one of my neighbors asked me if I wanted to order some, as her oldest son was going to catch some lobsters. He would set the traps Wednesday and haul them Sunday. He would be back around noontime. At $5 apiece, one lobster weighed around 1.5 lbs. That was super cheap!!! We were scheduled to go leaf peeping (quite late) that day, but I ordered some for me (15 pieces) and asked my friend Ana and my SIL. We ordered a total of 37, and got them as soon as we were back home. I invited my MIL and FIL to have supper with us that night.
From lobster dinner


My in-laws were delighted, of course! Except for my hubby (who never liked lobsters) and daughter (allergic to most seafoods), we were all heartily stuffed that night with this rare (and often expensive) treat. My husband and daughter ate Italian sandwiches. We had melted butter (for FIL and MIL), mayonnaise (MIL), and a mixture of lemon, butter, salt and pepper (for my sons and I). My sons ate these with rice. The rest of us ate pandelimon rolls as starch source. I prepared the leftovers as lobster roll and lobster and corn chowder (upcoming posts).

Things I learned while we were waiting for the lobsters to cook:
1. Never cook a dead lobster. It could make you wicked sick and may even be fatal. Cook only those that are still alive. Chuck the dead ones.
2. Do not eat the greenish part of the lobster. That is the liver and is loaded with mercury.
3. Better to cook them all at once than freeze to cook later.
4. Have water boil first before putting in the lobsters. Once water re-boils, time cooking for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Best-Ever Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake

Since having worked as an RN, I have become increasingly reliant on mixes, but I did not particularly like the generic taste of boxed cake mixes. I want my birthday cakes to still have a special taste to it that makes it like I had a special touch. Well, Kraft Foods' food & family magazine I referred to in an earlier post has several wonderful recipes that combine a lot of those mixes and ready-to-use kitchen helpers (like the frozen whipped cream), and the outcome is usually so out of this world! This chocolate cake is now my signature birthday cake for the chocoholics in our family (especially my husband). Rich, but not overly rich, with the right moistness that makes us savor every bite and want more. This cake is gone quickly.
Ingredients:

1 pkg. (8 squares) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided (Note: each square is 1 oz)
1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
4 eggs
1 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 tub (8 oz.) frozen COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
2 Tbsp. PLANTERS Sliced Almonds

Procedure:

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round baking pans. Chop 2 of the chocolate squares; set aside. Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened. Beat on medium speed 2 min. Stir in chopped chocolate. Spoon into prepared pans.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 min. Loosen cakes from sides of pans. Invert onto racks; gently remove pans. Cool cakes completely.

PLACE frozen whipped topping and remaining 6 chocolate squares in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth, stirring after 1 min. Let stand 15 min. to thicken. Place one cake layer on serving plate; top with one-fourth of the chocolate mixture and second cake layer. Spread top and side with remaining chocolate mixture. Garnish with almonds. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

See the kraftfoods recipe webpage here.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake


Chocolate Molten Lava Cake served
with Whipped Cream and Strawberries
Everyone in our family loves chocolate cakes. I have been seeing photos of this cake in the King Arthur Flour catalog that I always get. They sell the mix and the silicone cups to bake these with. They look so good, but I did not want the extra expense of a shipping charge. One time I was intrigued by the Betty Crocker chocolate molten lava cake mix, which I tried. Something in what I did went wrong, and I did not get the desired result. In any case, it was disheartening, and I never tried that mix again...

Then I saw a recipe in Kraft's Food and Family (free) magazine, and at the time I had all the ingredients on hand. I decided to give it a try and made 6...we were hooked!!! The recipe is good for 4 cups, so if you want to make more, adjust the proportions accordingly.
Look at that gooey center of rich chocolatey goodness!

BM French Bread

Taken from Taste Of Home's website, this was recommended to me by a co-worker. I just changed the yeast from active dry yeast to bread machine yeast. Husband raved about it! We all loved it!

From french bread (BM)



Ingredients:

1-1/4 cups water (70° to 80°)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3-1/2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 tablespoon cornmeal

GLAZE:
1 eggwhite (I had leftover eggwhites, which I used instead of whole egg in the orig recipe)
1 tablespoon water


Directions:
In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).
When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.
Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.
Whisk eggwhite and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beef Pares with an Apple Twist

From 10-06-08 dinner

I used the Beef Pares recipe, and added carrots and ginger (per comment of one who tried adding these to my recipe), then instead of using frozen beef broth to top the chuck roast (to avoid drying it up), I used half of the apples I usually use for an apple pie, mixed with the usual spices cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves.



When cooked, I placed the apples in a bowl first and mashed with a fork. Then I strained the sauce (separating the spaces and carrots in the process), then thickened and finalized the gravy the usual way. Then I mixed some of the gravy with the mashed apples, tasted it and adjusted by adding some soy sauce as needed. The resulting applesauce was yummmmmylicious! Hubby liked it as well! (He usually does not use the sauce of beef pares; he likes savoring the flavor infused in the meat itself.)

Then we had very little leftover. At first I was considering making beef asado roll but since I did not have enough meat mixed with remaining applesauce, I decided to use it for fried rice (I had plenty of gravy remaining, perfect for flavoring the rice!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Menu for Supper of 10/10/08

Usually after working straight for 3 nights (which usually means quick-fix or TV dinners) and sleeping most of my first day off, I get into a cooking fever the following day. Our supper that day (10/10/08) was a whole-day affair for me. Hubby, starved after working 10 hours that day, said it was supper worth working for...("And what work will you do for me, Honey?"...He gave me a naughty smile...)

We had Beef Pares with an Apple Twist, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Brocolli, French Bread


and Molten Lava Cake



Recipes to follow...
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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Maple Syrup Making

Have you tasted real maple syrup??? We love them, but oddly, my stepdaughter prefers the fake syrup.

My in-laws usually tap maple trees around the month of February to start collecting the clear sap into buckets that will later on be boiled to reduce into what we commonly know as maple syrup.


Any Filipino exposed to the Western influence knows about pancakes and waffles eaten with syrup (usually karo, made with high-fructose corn), but usually do not have a clue that there is such a thing as real maple syrup, and that this is derived from trees! (One of my friends sent me a message telling me that after he saw a webpage I made during the pre-blogger times.)

See more of how maple syrup is prepared on the slideshow below.

A good resource in making your own is found here.
A pdf article is also found here.

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