Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beef Watercress Soup

I get my regular supply of watercress from my mother-in-law. Thanks Mama! It has a great story that comes with it too! The chinese name for watercress is "Western Vegetable." According to the story, this vegetable came from the west.

The story goes something like this: A poor fellow from China wanted to try his fortune in the west. Where exactly is west, the story did not say. I mean, how west is west? How far west did he go? Back to the story, nobody wanted to hire him though. Probably because of the language barrier? Or probably because he looked different, you know, an eastern looking person? The story did not say. The story probably wanted to be politically correct too. So this fellow became even poorer and hungry and destitute and he finally became sick. As he was wandering about in this western city, he finally fell, unconsious, by a riverbank. Probably due to extreme hunger? When he regained consciousness, he noticed this plant by the river, which was within his arm's reach. So, with nothing to lose, he thought he was going to die anyway, he got some of those plants and began eating them - raw. Then, he fell unconscious again. When he woke up, he did not feel hungry anymore and he felt a little bit okay. So, he continued eating this plant until he got better. He was so ecstatic with his new discovery that he brought it back with him to China. Since they have no name for it, they just called it "Western Vegetable."

My mother-in-law believes this is one of the best vegetables we have, next to brocolli, that is. And a quick search on the internet produced a website watercress.com that says this vegetable has more calcium than milk, more vitamin c than an orange and more iron than spinach. Wow! A super vegetable!

I usually cook watercress in soups. This is the only way I know. But the watercress site offers more creative recipes. I will try those one of these days. Meanwhile, enjoy this bowl of hot soup. Perfect for our cold weather these days caused by La Nina.

1/4 K lean ground beef, marinated in soy sauce and some cornstarch
3 T chopped garlic
1 small onion, chopped
4 T cooking oil
1/2 can button mushrooms, sliced
4 C water
3 T cooking wine
1/4 K watercress, washed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 T cornstarch dissolved in water

1. Heat up the cooking oil in a wok or deep casserole. Saute the onions and garlic until fragrant.

2. Add the marinated beef. Stir fry for a while to blend in all the flavors. When the beef turns color, add the cooking wine and button mushrooms. Stir to blend everything again.

3. Add water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

4. Add the watercress. Wait for the soup to boil again.

5. Add in salt and pepper to taste.

6. Thicken the soup with the cornstarch solution, if preferred.

This recipe is so versatile. You can also use lean ground pork, oysters, shrimps or mixed seafood instead of beef. Just add ginger slices if you will be using seafood. Hmm.. I'm sure a seafood base will be yummier. I've got to try that some time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chicken Adobo with Pineapples

Daughter said the picture looks ugly. Oh no! That's one of my feeble attempts at food styling. I am not making excuses for my erratic photographs. But you have to know, I did not take any photography classes. I did not even exhibit any interest in photography or handling the camera until I started this blog a few months back. I did not take any food styling classes either. But I do enjoy good food photography and I do oggle at the yummy pictures of food magazines, food sites on the internet, and the sites of other food bloggers as well. And I'm learning! So, hopefully, the food and the pictures I will produce will get better.

This chicken adobo is actually yummy and flavorful. It is a family favorite. However, the recipe is not mine. My very dependable assitant cooks this. The children would request her to cook this again and again. My son particularly loves the sauce and would hoard the sauce to put on top of his rice.

1 K Chicken leg and thigh, cleaned, chopped
3 T cooking oil
4 slices ginger
2 T garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/4 C soy sauce
2 T vinegar
2 T sugar
1 t crushed peppercorns
1/4 C water
1 small can crushed pineapple
salt to taste

1. Heat up cooking oil in a wok or skillet. Pit in the ginger slices. When they are browned, add the garlic and onions.

2. Add in the chicken. Stir-fry for a while. Add in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, water, crushed peppercorns, and the crushed pineapple. Mix for all the flavors to blend and coat all the chicken pieces.

3. Cover the cooking pan. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer until chicken is cooked and fork-tender, around 20 minutes.

Since my son loves the sauce so much, we would increase the amount of liquid. We would just increase the amount of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and water proportionately.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kahlua Brownies

Marathon Chocolate Baking IV - Kahlua Brownies

This is another deliciously moist and yummy brownie recipe that is so easy to make and bake. With a little spike from the coffee liquor, you might find this to be a bit strong. You can omit Kahlua, if you prefer, but then, this would just be another mocha brownie instead of Kahlua brownies.

1 C semi-sweet baking chocolate ( I lessened the amount to 3/4 C)
1/4 C butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 T Kahlua coffee liquor
2/3 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 T coffee
1/8 T baking soda
1 T vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8" x 8" baking pan.

2. In a saucepan, melt butter amd chocolate together. Remove from heat and stir in coffee, egg, and egg yolk. In another bowl, sift together flour, sugar and baking soda. Mix dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture.

3. Stir in vanilla and kahlua.

4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Let brownies cool and cut into squares.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cauliflower and Watercress with Anchovy Oil

Here's a delicious veggie dish and dip from Food Magazine! It is simple to make, flavorful and healthy. Even the children loved it! Actually, the original recipe used brocolli, but I substituted watercress since I have lots in the fridge, courtesy of my mother-in-law. I was afraid they might spoil easily, so I experimented and used watercress. It turned out ok! I assume this dip is so versatile you can use almost any vegetable like carrots or radishes or asparagus, celery and even mushrooms!

1 bunch watercress, trimmed, washed
1 large cauliflower, trimmed

1. Bring salted water to a boil in a large wok or pot. Blanch the cauliflower florets and watercress separately. Do not overcook.

2. Immediately pluge the vegetables in cold water as soon as they are cooked to maintain crispiness. Dish up.

1 C olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 T garlic, crushed
1 T anchovies, mashed
salt and freshl ground peppercorns to taste

1. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions until golden.

2. Stir in garlic and anchovies. Remove from heat. All the rest of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Serve as a vegetable dip.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Molten Chocolate Cake

This is the chocolate dessert I made for Hubby for our Valentine Dinner. Actually, thit is the first time I made this. I got the recipe from the internet (Truly sorry I forgot which site.) I modified the ingredients a bit, actually just lessened the chocolate content but otherwise, I stuck to the original recipe. Also, I think the souffle cups I used are bigger, so it took a bit longer time to bake.

After I transfered the cakes onto our plates, and we started cutting it, Daughter ooohed and aaahed. It really looked so delish! With the molten chocolate oozing out, we couldn't wait to put those tasty goo into our mouths!

3 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 T cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed cocoa)
1/2 C butter
1 C granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 T flour

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Butter 2 pcs "1 cup" custard cups or souffle dishes. Place on baking sheet.

2. Microwave baking chocolate, cocoa powder and butter in a large microwavable bowl on high 1 min; or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Add in the vanilla extract. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter between the 2 prepared custard cups.

3. Bake 15 - 18 min until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run a small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert plates. Serve immediately.

You can decorate the chocolate cakes with whipped cream or just sprinkle with powdered sugar. But I did not do this anymore because the cakes already looks so rich and so pretty. You can add some more flavors like cinnamon (1/4 t) and nutmeg (also 1/4 t) or you can add coffee powder to make molten mocha cakes. However, I think that this original pure chocolate form is still better. Try this recipe. The cakes are flaky on the outside and soft and gooey inside. Best served warm. This is an easy recipe to make for such a deliciously rich and yummy treat!

Dijon Crusted Fish Fillets

We saw some nice frozen white cobbler fish at S & R Membership Shopping Store. The price is quite reasonable so we bought several packs. We were pleasantly surprised to find this meaty fish deliciously soft and flaky when cooked. This fish will be included again in our next shopping trip.

I would usually sprinkle the fish fillets with salt, pepper, and dill then cover both sides with olive oil before grilling them on my stove-top grill. The only variation I have is to change the type of pepper I use. Sometimes I would use the cayenne pepper, sometimes the Japanese chili pepper. I was looking for a different way to cook the fish fillets and this is what I found. If you like the taste of mustard and horseradish (we do!) then you will definitely enjoy this dish!

2 pieces cobbler fish fillets, each cut in half
1/4 C mayonnaise
1 T dijon mustard
1 T prepared horseradish
1/4 C bread crumbs
1 T grated parmesan cheese

more parmesan cheese and bread crumbs for sprinkling.
some olive oil or butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking dish.

2. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard, and horseradish. Stir in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Dip each fish fillet in this mixture. Make sure both sides are covered. Lay down on the prepared baking dish. Do the same with the other fish fillet pieces.

3. Sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top of the fish fillet and some more bread cumbs. Dot wil butter or sprinkle with a little olive oil.

4. Bake for 18 - 20 min, or until fish is cooked.

5. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Grilled Steaks with Spiced Mushrooms in Olive Oil

Happy Hearts Day!!!

Hubby and I usually do not celebrate Valentine's Day in a restaurant. Aside from being so ridiculously expensive, the restaurants oftentimes prepare a set menu, lacking in quality. Because the restaurants are full, we do not get the quiet intimate ambience that we prefer. So, I would usually surprise Hubby with a home-cooked valentine dinner, prepared with much love. Of course he knows that I would prepare something special (since I have been doing it for the past 13 years!) This year, I am making it simple because we will have another valentine dinner tomorrow with the Couples@Work Fellowship at the church gardens. There would only be a three-course dinner tonight. A Salad, a Steak and a Chocolate dessert. Hmm... maybe, I will add a warm soup.

Hubby loves a nice juicy steak and chocolates. We usually do not indulge in steaks because of the calories and the cholesterol. Most of our home-cooked meals comprise of vegetables and seafood or chicken. So, this steak is a real treat. I bought some Angus beef from Santis' Deli for the steak. The steak itself is simple to prepare because the beef is already flavorful. I just sprinkled both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper. Then added some olive oil. Let it sit for a while as I prepare the mushrooms.

2 T garlic, chopped
2 T onions, chopped
2 T red bell pepper, chopped
6 T olive oil
1 can button mushrooms, halved
1 t paprika
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t S & B japanese chili powder
2 T cooking wine
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute garlic, onions, bell pepper in olive oil.

2. Add button mushrooms, paprika, cayenne pepper, and japanese chili powder. Stir for a while to blend.

3. Add the cooking wine and let the wine evaporate.

4. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside while grilling the steaks.

5. Prepare the grill and make it really hot. Sear one side for 2 min or more, depending on how well-done you like your steak. Then flip to the other side.

6. Place cooked steak on a serving plate, top with the spiced mushrooms. Drizzle more olive oil on top. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

I use my trusty stove-top grill for this dish. It gives the seared black lines without the toxic carbon residue. Of course, other gourmets and foodies will protest that the flavor and grilled aroma will be lost in this process. Honestly, I do not know for sure. I have not tried using the real hot coal grills. Maybe one day, I should.

I prefer my olive oil not cooked. If I have a dish that needs olive oil, I would usually use a little for the cooking and then drizzle the dish straight from the bottle when serving. I started doing this when I read from somewhere that olive oil should not reach boiling point or its molecules and the good healthy fats associated with olive oils will break down and be rendered useless.

Here is the picture of the steaks in their raw form :

Do you see anything wrong with the meat? Sigh! I did not know! I suppose I am not really a gourmet person yet. Just trying hard to recreate "professional" dishes at home, through experiments and the traditional trial and error. I thought those lovely lines were marbling! After all, this is Angus Beef! They turned out to be ligaments! Oh well, the meat parts were tender and soft, however, the ligament parts were inedible! GRRR!

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Marathon Chocolate Baking II - Chocolate Fudge Brownies

This is definitely the best brownie recipe I have tweaked so far! It is luscious, moist, dense and oh-so-fudgy. I brought 2 serving trays of these brownies to the Couples@Work Fellowship last Friday and they were gone in no time! This will definitely be another favorite mainstays.

I have always read from baking books, food magazines and internet food sites that to make brownies (and chocolate cakes, too) moist and fudgy is to underbake it slightly. This time, I really sat beside the oven and kept careful vigil over this batch. And yes! They came out tasting perfect!

1 & 2/3 C granulated sugar
1/2 C butter
2 T water
2 oz Baking chocolate
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 & 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 & 1/3 C All purpose flour
2 T Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13" x 9" baking pan. Set aside.

2. Microwave butter, sugar, water in a large microwave-safe bowl until mixture bubbles, around 1 and 1/2 min on high, stirring only once. Add the baking chocolate. Stir until melted. (If not using a microwave, use a saucepan to heat butter, sugar and water, just to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat then add the baking chocolate. Stir until melted.)

3. Stir in eggs, one at a time until blended. Stir in vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, cocoa powder salt. Stir well. Stir in nuts, if using. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake in preheated oven 15 - 20 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool in pan before cutting into bars.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tomato Basil Salad

This is such an excellent siding for steaks or grilled meat dishes. Choose the really nice fresh crunchy cherry tomatoes. I was surprised to find packs of fresh cherry tomatoes at SM hypermart, quite on the expensive side. But I bought several packs anyway. We love tomatoes!

2 C Cherry tomatoes, halved, rinsed, dried
1 white onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C basil leaves, washed, dried, chopped
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a bowl, put together the cherry tomatoes, white onions, garlic and basil leaves.

2. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss together.

3. Refrigerate for a while to allow the flavors to develop. Toss again before serving. Season to taste.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Divine Truffle Brownies

Marathon Chocolate Baking I - Divine Truffle Brownies

Warning: This is for true-blue certified chocoholics. This brownie is dense and bittersweet. Even I cannot take the heavy chocolatey taste.

Just went to visit Chocolate Lover's Store in Cubao last week, and brought home loads of chocolates. So, I decided to put these chocolates into good use, and I will be making several chocolate-based goodies from now on until supplies ran out. Am looking forward to brownies, molten chocolate cakes, chocolate souffles and more brownies.

8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/4 C butter
3/4 C sugar, divided
2/3 C whipping cream
3 eggs, divided
3/4 C flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8" square pan with foil, with ends extending over to the sides of pan. Grease foil. Set aside.

2. Microwave 2 oz of the chocolate squares and the butter in a microwavable bowl on high for 1 min 30 sec or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in 1/2 Cup sugar. Blend in 1 egg. Add flour. Mix well, spread into prepared pan.

3. Microwave remaining chocolate squares and cream in a microwavable bowl on high for 1 min 30 sec. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Beat remaining 1/4 Cup sugar and 2 eggs with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and lemon colored, about 1 min. Add the choco-cream mixture. Mix well. Pour this over the batter in pan.

4. Bake 35 min or until batter is set. Cool in pan. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen brownies. Remove dessert from pan using foil handles. Cut into 16 squares to serve. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to garnish.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sticky Rice Cakes

Happy New Year! Daughter is particularly excited in welcoming the year of the rat because she was born in the year of the rat. She has come full cycle! That means she is 12 this year. Sigh, time flies so fast. Indeed, it is another new year to celebrate!

One of the beautiful traditions of the chinese new year is the giving of sweet, sticky rice cakes to friends and families. For my family, this has two-fold meaning. One, to seal friendship and ties between the giver and the recipient (this is where the stickness comes in.) Two, to wish the recipient continual prosperity (this is where the rice comes in.)

We have received several boxes of sticky rice cakes this time. And yes, at this time of the year, to the consternation of my hubby, I ignore my self-imposed diet and indulge in the sticky sweetness of fried rice cakes.

1. Slice enough 1/4" thin rice cakes into bite sized squares. Number of slices depends on how much you can consume.

2. Beat one whole egg. Heat up a frying pan. Add oil to fill around half inch deep.

3. Dip a piece of the rice cake in the egg and fry in hot oil. Do the same with the other pieces until pan is filled. Turn over the pieces to cook the other sides.

4. Fry in batches to prevent overcrowding. Once done, drain on paper towels before serving.

There are many kinds of sticky rice cakes in the market nowadays. Aside from the variety of sizes, there are many flavors to choose from. In the picture above, I cooked the rice cakes made with brown sugar, hence the brown color. For the supposedly health-conscious, there's even lite versions! These lite versions use sugar substitutes instead of the real sugar. What is the use of using sugar substitutes? You still get your carbohydrates from the rice itself!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chinese Flavored Rice (Kiam Pung)

This is definitely one of our family's comfort foods. I think every family have their own versions of Kiam Pung. My version is taken both from my own grandmother's recipe plus my mother-in-law's recipe. So, technically, this recipe is a marriage of both families!

My grandmother's Kiam Pung uses the rice cooker. Come to think of it, despite having bound feet and no education, she is quite a modern cook! She would cook chicken adobo first, soften the dried scallops and the shiitake mushrooms. Then, she would put all the ingredients with the rice inside the rice cooker to cook. Sounds very easy? But whenever I use this method, the rice always turns out either too soft and mushy (too much water), or too grainy and half-cooked (too little water). I remember my grandmother would just use her fingers (to check the height of the liquid) to measure the amount of liquid in the rice. And her Kiam Pung would always turn out perfect.

My mother-in-law's Kiam Pung uses the cast iron wok. This, I think requires more skill, particularly paying more attention to the sounds made by the cooking wok. She would saute sliced pork tenderloin and softened dried oysters in soy sauce. She would then add mustasa (mustard leaves? mustard greens?) at the bottom of the wok. Then, she would put the washed rice on top of the leaves and add enough water (again, measured by the finger method.) Then cover the wok, and she would listen to the sounds and gurgling made inside the wok. Based on the sounds made, she would know when to lower the fire, when to turn the wok around so that it would cook evenly. Accordingly, we cannot take a peek inside until we hear another kind of sound. Then, she will open the cover, mix all the ingredients inside, and quickly soon after, her Kiam Pung is done. Sigh... obviously, I was not able to learn this "listening" method of cooking. Or perhaps, I do not have the patience for it too.

With this wok method, the rice is not burnt because the mustasa leaves acts as the base. The rice is also very pleasantly veggie-flavored. However, the leaves becomes too wilted, and sometimes bitter.

My veggie-lover Hubby of course likes his Kiam Pung with mustasa, preferably not ovrcooked. So, I have to quickly learn and experiment on how to cook this dish, in any way, as long as it comes out edible, preferably yummy! And yes! After experimenting several times, I came out with this recipe that is easy to make, very flavorful that even the children love it! (Shhh.. they prefer my version over my mother-in-law's version.)

Of course I have the more "modern" advantage. I use a teflon wok (therefore, no burnt rice) with a see-through glass cover! Hee hee.

5 slices ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/4 C dried scallops, softened
2 C cooked chicken or pork adobo, sauce included
1/4 C softened shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 can straw mushrooms, whole pieces halved
1 can golden mushrooms
5 C rice ( I use Jasmine rice)
water to make a total of 7 and a half cup liquid (see later note)
1/4 K mustasa (mustard leaves or greens), washed, cut into pieces
soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute ginger slices in cooking oil. When slightly brown, add the onions and the garlic.

2. Add in the softened dried scallops. Add in the rice. Splash some dashes of good quality soy sauce. Mix to blend in the flavors to the rice.

3. Add in all the mushrooms and the chicken or pork adobo. Add water. Mix everything and cover. Lower heat when it comes to full boil.

4. When the rice is nearly cooked ( I use see-through glass cover so I can see.) open the cover, toss everything a bit, then add the mustard greens. Mix everything again. Cover and cook until done. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve hot.

Some versions of Kiam Pung uses half regular rice and half malagkit or sticky rice. But I am not confident in using malagkit rice yet. And my family is already very happy with Jasmine rice. The amount of liquid to be added to your Kiam Pung actually depends on the quality of rice you will use. With the Jasmine rice, the proportion is one and a half cup of liquid (the adobo sauce counts) for every cup of rice.
LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs