Friday, October 31, 2008

NY Style Pumpkin Cheesecake

photo taken by Daughter :)

It is time once again for Wandering Chopstick's Weekend Wokking. This is truly an exciting challenge as we get to see the different ways we can cook one ingredient. For this month, Precious Pea chose Pumpkin! It is very fitting by the way, because I know it is pumpkin season in America.

However, here in the Philippines, we do not really grow pumpkins! At least the ones you are familiar with in the western world. We have the local pumpkin we call kalabasa. This veggie is available whole-year round. And we do not really carve these pumpkins. Actually, I do not consider these as pumpkins, Kalabasa is more like squash. When I googled, to try to learn more about the difference, I learned that there are many varieties of squash. Pumpkin is one variety of squash. Our local kalabasa is another.

Being true to the pumpkin challenge, I have no alternative but to use the canned variety - which is easily available here. But I do not want to make a pie. At first I thought about making muffins, but another baking event already did that. I also wanted to make a dessert that my family will love. We are cheesecake fans, so cheesecake it is.

For the Crust:

1 C graham crackers, crushed
sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
6 T melted butter

For the Filling:

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 C brown sugar
1 C canned solid-packed pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
2 T all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
sprinkling of cinnamon, ginger powder, nutmeg and cloves

1. Mix the crushed graham crackers with the spices and the melted butter. Press into a 9 inch- spring-form pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preheat oven to 350F.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, flour, spices and salt. Mix until combined. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well each time.

4. Pour into the prepared pan with crust. Bake baine-marie in the oven for 1 hour or until the cheesecake is set.

5. Cool in pan or chill overnight before serving. Cut with a knife dipped in water. Serve as is or topped with ice cream, a dollop of cream, or decorate with candy sprinkles.

Hubby said my cheesecake look better plain (see the first picture). What do you think? I just wanted to decorate with the new autumn-inspired sprinkles that 5th sister gave me. :) The cheesecake tastes great, by the way. But maybe it's just us. We love any kind of cheesecake.

One last note: Whenever I try to bake a NY style cheesecake before, I never included flour. The center of the cheesecake always turns out "sunken." The top of the cheesecake does not turn out even. Last week, my sisters and I were able to taste a cheesecake from a popular coffee chain. We were wondering why the cheesecake top was nicely straight and evenly baked, not like the cheesecake we make at home. When we tasted their cheesecake, the taste was lacking in cheesecake flavor, it tasted like they added lots of flour. So, when I made today's version of cheesecake, I thought of adding some flour just for experiment, so added just two tablespoon of flour (for 2 bars of cheesecake). And look! The cheesecake did not sink at the center! The top was flat and evenly baked! So, that was the secret! And the cheesecake still tastes great! No floury taste at all. :)

Sharing this pumpkin cheesecake with the Weekend Wokking food event. It is a worldwide event created by Wandering Chopsticks to see the many different ways we can cook one ingredient. The ingredient for the month is Pumpkin! The host this month is me! So please check in by Wednesday for the round up of many delicious ways we can cook the pumpkin. I have received so many delicious entries already - both savoury and sweet. You can still join in the fun! I will wait for your recipes until Tuesday. To see previous round-ups, please click here. Next month's host will be Wiffy of Noobcook and you have to check back here on Wednesday to know what is the secret ingredient next month :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Filling and Strawberry Cream Frosting

I apologize for the long title. I do not know what else to call these cupcakes. I wanted to differentiate these cupcakes from the other usual chocolate cupcakes. Besides, these are very special cupcakes, at least in the eyes of my little family. Because these are the birthday cupcakes of my daughter. (Her birthday was two weeks ago, but I have been posting the dishes we had on her birthday one by one...)

These cupcakes are produced by the joint effort of fourth sister and fifth sister. Yup. I did not bake these goodies... They baked the cupcakes at my mother's house (where they live) and then frosted and decorated the cupcakes here at my house (where we celebrated Daughter's birthday). They even brought cupcake holders!

The recipe is loosely based on the Belgian Chocolate Cupcakes found at the Yummy Magazine, Oct 2007 issue. Tweaks made: Sisters added the chocolate cream filling, the strawberry cream frosting and they did not use Belgian chocolate, as we prefer bittersweet.

For the cupcakes:

1/2 C butter, melted
100 gms bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 C butter, softened
1 and 1/4 C sugar
2 eggs
2 T cocoa powder
1 t vanilla
1 and 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C milk

For the chocolate cream filling:
1/2 C all-purpose cream
1 C chopped bittersweet chocolate

For the strawberry cream frosting:
1 C strawberry flavored cream, well-chilled
1/4 C caster sugar

1. Prepare the chocolate filling first. Heat the cream in low fire until very hot but not boiling. (You can also use the microwave.) Turn off heat and add in the chopped chocolate pieces. Stir until all the chocolate pieces are melted and everything is mixed thoroughly. Cool in refrigerator.
When chilled and firm enough to be handled, scoop out chocolate and form into small balls. Arrange on a baking tray and return to the refrigerator until ready to use.

2. To make the cupcake, melt the butter in a small pan. Turn off heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Whisk until blended and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin pans by adding cupcake liners.

4. In a mixing bowl, with electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat until creamy. Stir in cocoa powder and vanilla.

5. Add the melted chocolate (we prepared in step 2).

6. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir this dry ingredients into the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Blend until smooth (Do not overbeat.)

7. Scoop into paper-lined muffin pan and fill only half. Put in a chocolate cream ball (we prepared in step 1) in the middle. Then add some more cupcake batter until 3/4 full.

8. Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before frosting.

9. In a chilled bowl, with chilled paddles of the electric mixer, beat the strawberry cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Do not over-beat. Keep chilled until ready to frost.

10. Using a piping bag, decorate the cupcakes with the strawberry cream. Drizzle with chocolate sprinkles.

Result? Very moist chocolatey cupcakes with melted chocolate cream balls inside!!!

Daughter has to go around the cupcakes to blow all her candles!!!

Here in the Philippines, we do not celebrate Thanksgiving. We do not have an official Thanksgiving holiday. But for most Filipinos, and certainly for this little family, each birthday, and each New Year is already reason enough to celebrate and give thanks to our Creator for another blessed year. So every birthday, family and friends would gather and celebrate the occasion and do something nice for the celebrant. Extra attention is given when the celebrant is celebrating 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100 years old!!!

I am sharing this birthday cupcakes post to the World Food Day - Time to be Thankful event, hosted by Ivy of Kopiaste. The aim of this event is to bring awareness to everyone about the hunger problems that exist around the world and which seem to be getting worse day after day, specially after this huge worldwide economic crisis.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I also teach my kids to be thankful. I live in a Third World country. And yet, I have a very loving family. I have very loving parents, very supportive sisters and brother. I have a super-sweet, loving and patient husband. I have two beautiful and kind kids. I have lots of good friends. I have a loving and supportive church family. I have a house I can call a home. My husband has work. I have work. My kids go to school. We are free to go to Church and worship our God. We are blessed indeed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unagi and Udon Noodles in Miso Soup

Hubby was impressed with the simplicity of the miso soup we cooked here. It was clear, fresh yet tasty and full of flavor. He bought several packs of fresh udon and wanted me to use the same soup base we cooked before. Easy peasy.

This dish is very simple to prepare. It is more like combining the different ingredients more than the cooking itself. First you prepare the miso soup stock. Then you cook the udon noodles (according to package directions) then add the topping. In this case, it is the grilled Unagi.

Unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eels. I was able to buy pre-cooked grilled unagi, which I used as topping. You can also use various seafoods like I used before. You can also use meat like chicken or pork. See? This dish is so super versatile!

There are several popular kinds of Japanese noodles. First is the Ramen, the instant version is the most popular here in the Philippines. These are thin wheat-based noodles. Second is the Soba noodles made from buckwheat flour. I have cooked soba noodles before. Recipes and pictures here. Then we have the Somen. I have not tried cooking Somen yet. It is very thin wheat-based noodles. I believe this is similar to angel hair. Finally, we have the Udon noodles, the thickest noodles of them all, which is also wheat based. This is the noodle that we used for this dish.

Sharing this Japanese noodles dish with the Regional Recipes food event, launched by Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok. It is a blogging event that celebrates food from all over the world! Each month a region will be selected - this month being Japan. Food bloggers are invited to prepare and post a recipe originating from that area. Then, we can learn different Japanese dishes by the round-up time! This month's host is Wandering Chopsticks. To see last month's delicious dishes from Greece, please click here.

400 gms fresh udon noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 pc pre-cooked grilled unagi, sliced
1 pc soft tofu, cubed
nori sheets, cut
1 stalk green onion, chopped

for the soup base:
4 T garlic (optional)
5 C water
2 T mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1 T miso paste
2 T dashi granules (Japanese broth concentrate, available in Japanese or Asian stores)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the water in a pot. When it boils, add the garlic, mirin, and the dashi granules.

2. When the dashi granules are dispersed, turn off heat and add the miso paste. (The healthy benefits of the fermented miso will be rendered useless when coooked.) Mix thoroughly until miso is dispersed. Add salt and pepper to taste. I did not add salt anymore because miso is already salty.

3. In individual serving bowls, arrange the udon noodles. Pour in the soup stock. Top with the grilled unagi, nori sheets, tofu. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve immediately.

Delicious and tasty one-dish meal anybody can prepare in a hurry. :)

Sharing this noodles dish with the Presto Pasta Nights community, headed by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. This week's host is Chef Melissa, the Cooking Diva. To see last week's array of delicious pasta dishes, please click here.

Here are my other Japanese recipes:

Sukiyaki Inspired Beef Udon Soup

Seafood and Noodles in Miso Soup

Soba Noodles with Unagi

Grilled Fish with Miso Glaze

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fresh Clam Soup

We had another cooking session with my Tuesday group at my kitchen last week. It is quite fun to mix cooking, eating, chatting, bonding, with Bible study. Of course we try to start early. Since it is a Tuesday, each one of us came from work. Cooking and eating together is a fun way to relax and unwind from the work day's stress. By the time for Bible study, we are already open, relaxed, and ready to do some serious work. :)

The menu for that night was Fish with Miso Glaze, store-bought grilled chicken (courtesy of V), Pandan-flavored rice, Sweet Corn Muffins and this yummy, flavorful soup.

Remember the statement "Too many cooks spoil the broth?" Well, the opposite is true in this soup dish! This soup is the testament and proof that when a dish is cooked together in good camaraderie and friendship, the resulting dish will also be wonderfully, truly exceptionally good!!!

2 kilos live clams, cleaned
1 large knob fresh ginger, sliced
5 T minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
3 T canola oil
1 small napa cabbage (Chinese pechay), cut
4 T Chinese cooking wine
3 pcs jalapeno peppers or finger chillies (Siling haba), or long green peppers, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
5 C water

1. In a cooking pan or wok, saute ginger slices in oil until fragrant. Add in the onions and garlic. Saute until fragrant but not burnt.

2. Add in the clams. Cover for a minute. Then add in the Chinese cooking wine. Cover for another minute.

3. Add in the jalapeno peppers and stir for a while. Add in the water. Cover and let boil.

4. When the shells of the clams are fully opened, then the soup is ready. Drop in the napa cabbages. Let cook for a while, add salt and pepper according to taste. Ladle up and serve as soon as possible. The clam meat will shrink if cooked for a long time. Discard shells that did not open.

These are the long green peppers that I used for this soup. I would usually call these jalapeno peppers before because this is what I use when I would make jalapeno poppers. But I think it is another variety of hot peppers. This pepper is mildly hot. But it is an excellent source of calcium, iron and phosphorus.

This is also the pepper widely used in Philippine cooking. All our gata (coconut milk) dishes has this. There is even a dish called Bicol Express that uses long chillies as it's main ingredient! We also often add this pepper to our seafood dishes as we believe it can remove most of the "fishy" taste.

Sharing this hot pepper spiced flavorful and fresh clam soup with the Weekend Herb Blogging community created and hosted this week by the original WHB chief herself Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. I chose this dish to celebrate with the WHB community because it contains three long peppers to celebrate three years of hot, spiced (popular) blogging. And this dish is cooked together by good friends, which symbolizes what the WHB community is like: fun, food and learning interesting herbs and dishes and cooking styles from each other. Please check out Kalyn's blog for three give-aways celebrating three years of successful blogging event.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sweet Corn Muffins

This story starts with a lonely box of yellow cornmeal. I bought this box of cornmeal several weeks ago because I wanted to make the Fried Green Tomatoes that JS and TS of Eating Club Vancouver insist we try. This box has been sitting in my pantry untouched because I could not find large green tomatoes!!! I don't think that is a usual produce here... but I am still on the lookout for green tomatoes! Never say never...

Yesterday, I lovingly took out the box from the pantry, and took a good look at it. I was thinking of putting it to some other use. There were several recipes printed at the back of the box. The corn muffins recipe stood out. I just have all the ingredients on hand. Plus, it does not need a mixer. It only needs 2 bowls and a spatula or a wire whisk. Just mix, pour, bake! I love simple and easy to prepare recipes like this! Here is the exact recipe:

1 and 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2/3 C granulated sugar
1/2 C yellow cornmeal
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 and 1/4 C milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 C vegetable oil
3 T butter, melted

Of course, the adventurous (stupid?) newbie baker that I am, I have to make my own tweaks. I do not understand why I have this habit. I definitely have to change a thing or two in a recipe. Maybe this is why I can never be a good baker. Sometimes, the product that comes out is something I have imagined and wanted. (Like these sweet corn cupcakes.) Of course, sometimes, I get failures, too. Maybe this blog should be called a series of kitchen experiments. :) Anyway, here are my tweaks and why I did them:

Because I wanted to use the whole wheat flour I newly bought, and I wanted the muffins to have more "cornmeal" taste, I changed the proportion. I used 1 cup whole wheat flour to 1 cup of cornmeal.

I used washed brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar. Brown sugar has lower caloric value than the white sugar, and yet it has deeper flavor than the white sugar. I also added some honey, not only for the taste, but also for the color.

Because I wanted to make sure my muffins become fluffy, I added 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

Because I have read on various baking blogs that the addition of yogurt would make cakes moist, I figured, it would make the muffins moist as well. So, I reduced the amount of milk and added yogurt.

I used canola oil which is a healthier type of vegetable oil because of its low saturated fat content and high monosaturated fat content.

I added whole kernel corns,too. I figured most muffins have nuts, but since these are corn muffins, why not add whole kernel corns?

What else? Oh, I omitted the butter. I felt the muffins are already rich enough.

Here is the final recipe I used:

1 C whole wheat flour
1 C yellow cornmeal
1/3 C washed brown sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 T salt
1 C fresh milk (you can use non-fat)
1/2 C creamy unflavored yogurt (you can also use non-fat)
2 T honey
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 C + 2 T canola oil
1 C whole kernel corns (I used canned, well drained)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease 12 large muffin pans or line with paper cups.

2. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, the whole wheat flour, yellow cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

3. In another bowl whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt, honey, canola oil. Add in the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Add in the whole corn kernels as well. Stir just until blended. Do not overmix.

4. Spoon into prepared muffin pans or muffin cups filling only 2/3 full (or 3/4 full), bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for a few minutes. Remove to wire racks when warm enough for handling.

The result? Yummy, moist cupcakes filled with corn goodness and taste! Can you see from the picture that the original paper cups are so moist I have to add an additional layer of paper cups for serving?

Sharing these sweet corn muffins with The Heart of the Matter:Eating for Life community, hosted this month by Ilva of Lucillian Delights: An Italian Experience. The theme this month is yellow-orange. These corns muffins certainly are the perfect color! And they are made heart-healthy with using whole wheat flour, cornmeal and whole corn kernels, yogurt, and the omission of butter. The goal of this event is to encourage each one of us to cook healthier food, to be more proactive in taking care of our heart-health. Please check out her blog by the end of the month for the round-up of heart-healthy dishes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mint Tea

It all started two weeks ago. I felt the beginning of an itch inside my throat. I knew the feeling. I felt a bout of cough coming. I put up my line of defense. I drank more liquid, took double dosage of Vitamin C. But the cough still attacked. Accompanied by runny nose and cold, they conquered my body. During the height of their victory, I was coughing non-stop. My forehead was heavy. It was hard to sleep at night. Of course my Hubby's sleep was disturbed as well. Last Sunday, I was to teach Sunday School. I could not call in sick because the Song leader had already called in sick. Besides, I have already prepared my lessons and the powerpoints. I think I was concentrating on the presenting the lessons too much, I did not notice I was coughing most of the time, until my boss - the head of Junior Worship team, gave me a cup of warm water to drink while I was in the middle of my lesson. It was comforting. It was humbling. But I still had to continue my lessons.

Slowly, my body fought back. Ever so slowly, the cough subsided little by little. I remembered the warm water. And I thought if I added mint to warm water, it would be soothing to the throat. What if I make mint tea, instead? Fortunately, I bought several mint seedlings from the plant nursery a few months back. Up to now, I have not used them yet. This picture was taken when the plants were newly bought. The seedlings have grown a little bigger and now have branches that run down the pots, and with more and bigger leaves.

Isn't it great to have your own little garden of herbs in this busy city? I really appreciate my mini-garden pots all the more when I got sick (well, I'm still recovering and drinking this tea everyday.) Since it is not convenient to go out, it is just perfect to cut up some leaves and use them as herbal therapy.

At first, I only gathered several leaves. Probably around two tablespoons worth. When I steeped them with black tea in my 500 ml (half-liter) coffee press, the resulting tea was not minty enough. Well, at least for me. So, the next time, I gathered more, and still not minty enough! The third time around, I gathered a lot, around half a cup worth of mint leaves. Now, that resulting tea was finally minty enough for me.

In the coffee press or tea kettle, add in:

3 T black tea leaves, blanched
1/2 C mint leaves, cleaned

Pour in freshly boiled water and steep for 4 minutes. With the coffee press, pour out the liquid and drink warm.

Drink warm if you want to soothe your throat. But I think this can be a refreshing drink when cold and with ice added. You can also adjust the amount of leaves according to taste.

You may be wondering why I blanch my tea leaves. These are loose tea leaves, not in tea bags. I do not think you need to blanch the tea bags. I pour a little amount of boiling water into the tea leaves, just enough that all leaves are submerged, then, swirl the leaves and water together, and pour the hot water out. I will only drink the brew of the second (or third) hot water. This is to make sure the leaves are "cleaned." Am I considered an obsessive-compulsive then? My mother said she knew of an Auntie who makes this blanching and cleaning three times. Do you blanch your tea leaves, too? When I made lemongrass and ginger tea before, a reader commented that I did the right thing because blanching the tea leaves first would remove as much as 80 percent of the caffeine content of the teas!!! This is an example of how sometimes being obsessive-compulsive pays in the end! :)

Sharing this warm, soothing drink with the Grow Your Own Community, headed and hosted this time by Andrea of Andrea's Recipes. It is a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products.To see last edition's round-up, please check out Gay, a molecular biologist at A Scientist in the Kitchen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creamy Tomato and Prawn Pasta

Hubby bought a small cookbook for me. He knows our family loves to eat shrimps and prawns. This small cookbook is entirely about prawns, containing about 50 recipes. It is a part of the Periplus Mini-Cookbook series published in Singapore.

I know prawns and shrimps are expensive in many countries. I suppose I am blessed to be living in this country with 7,100 plus islands, depending whether it is high tide or low tide. ( I know, this is an old joke!) A variety of seafood is always available and at reasonable prices, too. A kilo of fresh shrimps would cost around 300 to 400 pesos (that's around U.S. $ 6 to $ 8.50). I know this price may be considered reasonable in first world countries. But here in the Philippines, where the average daily income of most working people, is also $ 6 to $ 8.50 a day, this is considered an expensive food, as well. I usually do not serve shrimps or prawns as a main entree. I usually serve it combined with other seafood, or as additional garnishing and flavor to rice or pasta dishes such as this. Except of course, on special occasions like Daughter's birthday. :)

Here is a delicious pasta recipe from the mini cookbook. Though I did some tweaks as usual, like, I added onions and bell peppers. I also added the amount of wine and cream, because the kids prefer more sauce in their pasta. I also let the white wine boil for a while. I added the cream just before turning off the heat as I do not want the cream to curdle.

400 gms fettuccine, cooked according to package directions

2 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
350 gms medium-sized prawns, shelled, deveined
500 gms tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 pcs bell pepper, cubed
a handful of fresh basil, snipped
200 ml dry white wine
1/2 C all-purpose cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil and garlic in a cooking pan. When the garlic is fragrant, add in the prawns. Cook, stirring frequently until shrimps turn pink and are thoroughly cooked. Remove the prawns from the pan, leaving the drippings.

2. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Cook in low heat around 3 to 5 minutes until tomatoes are soft and juices come out. Turn up the heat to high, and add the white wine. Let boil for a while to let the alcohol evaporate.

3. Add in the bell pepper, onions, and basil. Stir for a while to let all the flavors mix. Add in the cream. Mix for a while and turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.

4. You can serve the pasta in individual serving platters topped with the sauce and prawns, or like me, throw in the noodles into the warm creamy sauce and toss the pasta with the sauce. This makes the "mixing" easier. And less messy on the table when you are serving pasta to the kids. :)

This is a creamy, flavorful, yummy pasta dish, best served warm. Other seafood or meat can be substituted for the topping. The sauce recipe is a keeper. I think this will be a regular mainstay in this kitchen :)

Before I end, I simply want to show you these fabulously healthy sweet basil plants, gifts from the President and First Lady of our Couples@Work fellowship. It must be the soil or seeds they used. These twin plants are small yet, the leaves they produce are quite large. I have harvested several times already and the plants just keep producing more leaves for me to harvest! ( Sorry, I think I took this picture after harvest so you could not see their true bounty.) The basil leaves I used for this pasta dish are from these plants. Thank you so much my dear friends! I always remember you when I harvest these fragrant leaves!

Sharing this delicious find with the Presto Pasta Nights Community headed and hosted by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.
To see last week's array of delicious pasta dishes, please check out the wonderful round-up done in Italy by Judith of the Think on It.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Drunken Crabs

I love my Tuesday Bible Study group. Really! They are the sweetest bunch of people I have the privilege of knowing. Remember last Tuesday was my daughter's birthday? When they found out that it was going to coincide with our weekly fellowship, they wanted to help me celebrate! :) V, with her gift of generosity, bought several kilos of live crabs from the market and brought them here to my house. She instructed my maid on how to kill and clean them. H, with her talent and creativity and patience in cooking, cooked the crabs for all of us, and shared her father-in-law's recipe for Drunken Crabs!

Actually, this is their family's secret recipe for crabs. They do not even have a name for it. Hubby was the one who named it Drunken Crabs because H used a whole bottle of gin in the cooking! Truly, this is the best crab we have ever tasted! Even better than the ones in first class restaurants here in Manila!

2 and 1/2 Kilos fresh live crabs
several large knobs of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
several large knobs of fresh turmeric (yellow ginger), peeled, sliced
lots and lots of garlic, minced
1 bottle (1 liter) local gin (may be substituted with cooking wine)
400 ml sesame oil
2 T salt
1/2 C chili paste (more or less depending on how spicy you want the dish to be)

1. To clean the crabs, use a toothbrush or a bigger brush and brush away the shell of the live crabs (the claws were tied) in running water. Make sure all the nooks and crannies are cleaned. Then, chop the crab in half. You can remove the strings that are restraining the crab claws at this point. Clean the "elbow" of the claws. Remove the triangle part under the tummy of the crab. (I should have taken a picture of this. But it was V who was doing the cleaning. I had to prepare the other dishes. Next time I cook this, I promise to take a picture and show you. But the triangle can hardly be missed.)

2. Heat up some sesame oil in a hot wok or a big cooking pan. Add in all the sliced turmeric and ginger. When it turns fragrant, add in the garlic. Saute until fragrant but not burnt.

3. Add in the crabs. Cover for a minute or two. Add in the gin. Cover again. After a few minutes, mix everything to make sure all the crabs are cooked evenly.

4. Add some salt and chili paste. Mix everything until all the flavors are mixed and fully absorbed by the crabs. Continue cooking until crabs are cooked, around 15 minutes. By this time, the sauce is going to thicken. Do not overcook the crabs or the meat is going to be tough.

5. Add the rest of the sesame oil just before turning off the heat.

Can you smell the flavor of the crab? The heavenly combination of alcohol, chili and sesame oil truly made this dish very fragrant and truly superb! It is very, very flavorful, I guarantee that you are going to lick every drop of sauce on the shells and on your plate!

Gin is a type of spirit or alcoholic drink that is made with grain and flavored with juniper berries. This is usually used by the Filipinos in their cooking. What the Cooking wine is to the Chinese, it is the gin to the Filipinos. Primarily because it is widely available and the price is reasonable. Plus, it is colorless, making it easy to use.

Sesame oil is of course the popular Asian oil made from sesame seeds, that is used in every Chinese stir fry. This give a dish a "Chinese" character. But do you know that the Chinese have been using this for medicinal and therapeutic purposes? The combination of ginger, wine and sesame oil is usually used to help mothers recover immediately from the strains of childbirth. I remember during the first 30 days after I gave birth, all of my food contained ginger, wine and sesame oil. This combination is also used to help strengthen any body who are weak and needs more energy. But then, the elderly people are discouraged from taking this because it might raise their blood pressure.

Modern science has shown that sesame has lots of anti-oxidant properties. It also contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B6.

Sharing this dish made fragrantly delicious with gin and sesame oil with the Weekend Herb Blogging Community, headed by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week's host is Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. To see last week's array of delicious dishes, please check out Amy and Jonny of We are Never Full.

Daughter is very happy that so many friends came to celebrate her birthday with us! Another post on Daughter's birthday dishes coming soon. Also please stay tuned for more of H's famous dishes as well. She will be my guest blogger soon! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Eat Healthy: Fight Diabetes with Bittermelon

As we were growing up, we would always be encouraged to eat bittermelon. How many times have we heard our grandma admonishing us to finish our bittermelon? Of course, as kids, we could not understand why. There are a lot more appetizing vegetables out there. Why would our grandma insist that we eat this bitter veggie?

You see, diabetes runs in our family. Both my grandmothers, on the paternal side and on the maternal side, has diabetes. Although both my grandfathers do not. So, we, grandchildren, always pray that we got our genes from our grandfathers instead :)

The reason my Chinese grandma always insist we eat bittermelon is because the Chinese traditional medicine believes that the bittermelon is a very effective preventive vegetable against diabetes. Counting sugar intake alone is not effective in countering diabetes. Because even if people have diabetes, they still need sugar for energy to function well. What they need is something to help their bodies process the sugar they take in. This is where the bittermelon comes in. The Chinese believe that bittermelon helps our bodies process the sugar we take it, such that our bodies can utilize the energy it provides.

My grandmother, by the way, was uneducated (in our definition of the term education). That was the way before. Their generation's parents feel that sending girls to school are useless. So, they were kept at home, to learn household management and house chores and traditional medicine as well as other things a lady of the house needed to keep the home running smoothly. So, she was not totally uneducated! In fact, she can run a household more efficiently than most post-graduate friends I know.

And many, many times, my grandma was proven correct by science. This is one of them. Latest science research has uncovered the therapeutic properties of the bittermelon that makes it a powerful treatment against diabetes. Please read the detailed study here.

When I got married, I found out that diabetes runs in my Hubby's family, too. Both his parents have diabetes. Because of this, I have always regulated the amount of sweets my children can consume. And I am very happy that they have grown up not looking for sweets deliberately. I do not add sugar to their milk and to our coffee. And I have been conscious of cooking healthy food for my family.

Like my grandmother, I am also encouraging my kids to eat bittermelon more often. So far, my Daughter has learned to eat this veggie already. I still have to work on my Son :) I am also constantly looking for ways to make the bittermelon less bitter and more appetizing for my kids. Like this quest, which was successful. Please read on that to know how to make the bittermelon less bitter. Then, you can cook the bittermelon in the following ways or in the way you prefer.

This is a delicious side dish to any entree. This is perfect paired with any grilled or roasted or fried meat dish! It is very tasty and easy to prepare too! Best of all, since it is uncooked, you get all the full nutrients the bittermelon can offer.

Stir-fried Bittermelon with Crabmeat

This is a very healthy vegetable dish any time of the day. It is almost a complete meal in one dish. It has protein (the egg and crabmeat), it has the super healthy veggie (the bittermelon) and it has fruit (well, technically, the tomato is a fruit!)

I am submitting these two dishes with bittermelon to Sangeeth's Eat Healthy: Fight Diabetes event. This event runs until the end of November so we've got a lot of time to learn more about anti-diabetic food. We've got to raise awareness regarding diabetes. Arm ourselves with more information. Live and eat healthily as this disease can be prevented and cured. This blog is for eating healthy. Life is too short to eat bad food.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chicken (Tinola) in Watermelon Soup

"What's that? Blood?" That was my kids' reaction when I first laid this soup on the dining table. :) "Tomato Soup?" asked Hubby. Nope. It's watermelon soup.

Has anyone heard of watermelon soup? I have made one before with pork. It was refreshingly clean, and sweet and flavorful. It was very, very nice. Exceptional soup, actually. So, when I saw this Chicken Tinola in Watermelon soup in the Yummy Magazine (June 2008 issue), I knew, this is going to taste wonderful as well.

I am not sure if I followed the exact ingredients given in the recipe. I just remember that the magazine recommended processing the watermelon in the blender first. Being the lazy girl that I am, I did not do that. I knew the watermelon is already soft and can easily be mashed anyway.

The following is my version:

1 Kilo chicken pieces (I remove the skin, for healthy reason)
2 Kilos watermelon , seedless variety
3 T canola oil
3 slices fresh ginger
5 T minced garlic
2 T fish sauce (patis)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice the watermelon into manageable wedges. Set aside.

2. Heat up the oil in a wok or a heavy soup pan. Add in the ginger and saute until fragrant. Add in the garlic and saute until fragrant but not burnt.

3. Add in the chicken meat. Saute until the meat changes color.

4. Scrape all the watermelon meat (include the juices) into the pan with chicken. Discard the skin.

5. Mash the watermelon in the pan a bit. Let the whole soup boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Do not overcook the chicken or the meat is going to be tough.

6. Add in the fish sauce and slt and pepper to taste.

7. Serve hot with rice or a crusty bread.

Hubby declared this is the best, rich, hearty, flavorful soup he has ever tasted. You really have to try this soup! It is different, and you will not regret it!

Sharing this deliciously warm soup with the Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. To see last week's round-up of deliciously Bookmarked Recipes, please click here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Easy Strawberry Muffins

As I have mentioned before, I am less than an amateur baker. But since I love baked desserts, I have to try to learn baking as well. And because I do not have much confidence yet, I try to look for easy recipes. This is one of them.

The original recipe is for blueberry muffins. Actually, I forgot where I got the recipe from. It has long been tucked inside my to-do folder, so I do not remember. Besides, I have made so many changes, the following recipe does not sound like the original anymore. A courageous (or stupid?) move for someone with not much experience in baking. :)

I substituted the blueberries with strawberries. Because that is what I have in my pantry. No harm there. But I used canned strawberries instead of fresh! The original recipe asked for only 1 teaspoon baking powder for 2 cups of flour. But the instruction on my packet of baking powder says to use 1 teaspoon of baking powder for every cup of flour. Which instruction to follow? I followed the one in the packet. I wanted to make sure my cupcakes turn out fluffy and soft. Then, because I wanted the taste and flavor and scent of cinnamon and nutmeg, I added a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, even when the recipe did not call for it! Are these not harmless tweaks? :)

I was always instructed not to change any recipe in baked goods, because baking requires accuracy. But then, these cupcakes turned out pretty delicious! Pretty in pink, as well!

So, I am sharing these easy to prepare strawberry muffins with the Power of Pink, a Challenge by Jen of the Beantown Baker. October being the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are encouraged prepare dishes that are pink, in order to promote awareness of this disease. We should take a more proactive stand against breast cancer. Because this is a highly preventable and curable form of cancer. Do your own monthly self-examination, go through a mammography annually. Read up. Arm yourself with information regarding the disease, its nature, its prevention and cure. It is not to late to start now!

2 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 C fresh milk
2 T canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 C strawberries (canned)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Coat a non-stick 12-Cup large muffin pans with cooking spray or line with muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.

3. In another bowl, combine milk, canola oil and egg.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in half of the strawberries. Reserve 12 strawberries for topping.

5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, top with a strawberry per muffin and bake 20 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack.

Is this not an easy recipe? No using of mixer, so one less equipment to clean up. You only need two bowls and a spatula. Sounds like a no-fail recipe, too! Perfect for amateur bakers like me who craves for fragrantly baked sweets sometimes.

This is also my inaugural participation to the Sugar High Fridays, with Dessert First doing her inaugural hosting for this "grande dame of online events for sweet-minded bloggers." This month's theme is perfect : Spices for Your Life. And the spices used in these cupcakes are the two spices I cannot get enough of : Cinammon and Nutmeg! Sugar High Fridays is headed by Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess. Check out the previous Sugar High Fridays round-ups here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sardine Pasta With Shrimps

Sardines are actually healthy. These oily fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which can help in maintaining cholesterol level and in having a healthy heart. Recent studies even suggest that omega-3 fatty acids slow the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Sardines are also a good source of protein, Vitamin D, calcium, and Vitamin B.

Sardines are said to be extremely low in contaminates such as mercury. But this has yet to be confirmed.

In the Philippines however, sardines, particularly canned sardines, are always associated with being a poor man's food. Probably because of these fishes' abundance in our waters, they are being sold relatively cheaply, in cans. Canned sardines is often considered a basic food item, like rice, and bread, that even the government has to track its price from time to time. Canned sardines in tomato sauce or in oil is a versatile food item to have in the pantry. It can be eaten straight from the can. Or simply sauteed with onions, or made into soup with misua, or into an omelette with mung bean sprouts.

Recently though, there are "gourmet" sardines (and milkfish) that are coming out in the market. Of course, these are priced exorbitantly. These gourmet sardines often comes in glass bottles, cooked Spanish style in herb-infused Olive oil, thereby justifying their exorbitant price. Being a self-proclaimed foodie, of course, I just have to try and taste these gourmet sardines, even once. :)

Being one not to waste even the oil that comes in the bottle, I decided to use these sardines, olive oil and all in a pasta.

350 gms linguini pasta, prepared and cooked according to package directions

1 bottle (225gms) Spanish Style Sardines in Tomato and Olive Oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 pcs bell peppers, chopped

3 pcs finger chillies or jalapeno peppers, sliced (or more if you prefer it spicier)

5 large tomatoes, chopped

a handful of basil leaves, snipped

1/4 C sliced black olives

1/2 C Olive oil

1 T salt (or to taste) and pepper to taste

250 gms shelled shrimps

3 T olive oil

3 slices ginger

5 T minced garlic

3 pcs sliced jalapeno peppers or finger chillies (siling haba)

1. Heat up the 3 T olive oil in a wok or a large cooking pan. Saute the ginger until fragrant. Add in the garlic and the jalapeno peppers.

2. Add in the shrimps and saute until pink and cooked. Set aside.

3. In the same cooking pan, pour in all the contents of the bottled sardines. Mash all the sardines meat.

4. Heat up the pan, and add in the garlic, onions. Saute everything until bubbly. Add in the tomatoes. Let cook for a while until tomatoes are soft and some juices come out.

5. Add in the finger chillies, bell peppers and the basil. Add in the sliced olives and olive oil as well. Add in salt and pepper. Turn off heat

6. Add in the pasta into the pan. Mix to coat all the noodles well.

7. Ladle into individual serving plates and top with the cooked shrimps.

It turned out to be quite a flavorful pasta dish. Daughter said she prefers this kind of sauce over our regular meat sauce. We shared this with our Tuesday Bible Study group last week and they declared it to be the best "sosi" (the word is slang for high-end) pasta they have tasted.

Sharing this dish with the Presto Pasta Nights community, headed by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. This week's host is Judith of Think On It. To see last week's delicious pasta dishes, please click here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Boiled Live Shrimps (Sua He)

Guess what? My daughter has come full circle in the Chinese calendar officially today. She is twelve. Next year, I will have a teen. Should I be excited?

Last night, her daddy bought live shrimps from the market, specially for her. Let it be stated that my darling Hubby very rarely drops by the market. But this is a special case. You see, steamed live sua-he (shrimps) is our daughter's favorite food in the world. We always order this in Chinese restaurants. But since it is a weekday, and it is the exam week, too. We cannot go out to celebrate. He wanted to surprise her (and me as well.)

This is actually a very simple dish to prepare. If you can find live jumping shrimps in the markets, that is. I am also surprised that many of my friends do not know how to prepare these shrimps. Primarily because you have to cook them alive. And most people are squirmish about cooking things still jumping around in the market bag. How are you going to steam them if they will jump out of the plate or steamer basket before you can even try to cook them? That is why I do not even try to steam them. I boil them instead. It is an easier way to get the same taste we always wanted.

If you do find the courage to try cooking live, jumping shrimps, I promise you, it is one of the best tasting, fresh tasting dish in the world!!! The taste is incomparable!!! You have got to try this at least once in your lifetime!!!

600 gms live shrimps
4 slices of ginger (harvested from my balcony garden)
1 T salt
1 T oil
8 C water

1. Boil water with salt, oil and ginger.

2. When it boils. Carefully open your bag and drop all the shrimps in. Cover at once. This way, once they are in contact with boiling water, they will cease to jump around. Unlike in steaming, where the cooking process is slower, they can still jump around.

3. Shrimps are cooked when they turn pink. Discard the cooking water. Serve the shrimps immediately, as is or with dipping sauce.

for the dipping sauce:

1 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
1 T minced garlic
1 T finely chopped onion
1 T sugar
1 t grated ginger
1 stalk of cilantro, chopped finely (harvested from my balcony garden)

Mix all the ingredients together and serve with the boiled shrimps.

Here is another picture of the boiled shrimps taken under another light.

And yes, you serve these shrimps as is, with shells and heads and tails. The diners are supposed to take off the head first, suck the juices of the head. Does that sound yucky to you? But this flavorful juice is what most Asians look for in freshly cooked shrimps! Then, slowly peel off the shells. The tail will come off easily if it is fresh. An extra empty bowl is placed on the table to put in the discarded heads and shells.

Sharing this dish with the Grow Your Own community, launched by Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, to feature foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. This edition is hosted by my fellow Pinay blogger Gay of A Scientist in the Kitchen. To see last edition's delicious round-up, please click on Chez Us.

More of daughter's birthday dishes coming soon! :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kailan (Chinese Broccoli) Stir Fry

Kailan is the common English name of this vegetable, derived from its Cantonese name Gailan. It is the Chinese Broccoli or Chinese Kale. A picture can be found here. This vegetable is widely eaten in Asia, particularly the Chinese. The Chinese believe it contains as much nutrients as the regular broccoli.

More often than not, the ones sold in the markets are "old and mature" leaves already. So, we often find this vegetable slightly bitter. The fresh young ones should be tender with a hint of sweetness. So when buying the Kailan, make sure the leaves bright green and are not drying up, and the stalks are still slender and yielding to the touch.

Just in case, you are only able to buy the mature ones, it is okay. Just cut away some of the "old" yellowing leaves. The remaining greens and stalks can still be eaten. Prepare the veggies by blanching them in hot boiling water. Drain, and it is now ready to cook.

The usual way of cooking Kailan is steaming them, or boiling or blanching them. Arrange the drained veggies on the serving platter and add some splashes of good quality oyster sauce and sesame oil.

However, on my latest trip to the supermarket, I found this:

Locally, it is called Saganid. These are little fishes, around an inch long, preserved in a salty brine solution and sold in bottles. I was sure these little fishes would be tasty and would be good in a vegetable stir-fry. So, I could not wait to try it!

350 gms Kailan (Chinese Brocolli), blanched in boiling water
4 T cooking oil (prefereably canola or peanut oil)
3 slices fresh ginger
4 T minced garlic
2 T Saganid fishes, mashed
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat up the oil in a wok or cooking pan. Saute the ginger until fragrant. Saute garlic until fragrant but not burnt.

2. Add in the mashed fishies. Saute a bit. Add in the Kailan. Stir around to make sure all the leaves are flavored. Turn off heat soon after. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I realized that many people prefer to bake than to fry or stir fry. But believe me, stir-frying is a very easy way to cook. Not to mention, less cooking gas or electricity is used. All it needs is a very hot pan and a quick movements of the hands.

Try this easy recipe. It is both flavorful and healthy. If the preserved fishes are not available, rehydrated dried shrimps (hebi) or any ground meat and seafood can be good substitute. For a vegetarian stir-fry, you can also use the vegetarian oyster sauce for stir-frying.

Sharing this nutritious vegetable with the Weekend Herb Blogging Community, headed by kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Weekend Herb Blogging is a world-wide food event that features herbs and unique vegetables and the dishes we prepare using these unique ingredients. It is fascinating to learn about many interesting produce available around the world! This week's host are Amy and Jonny from We Are Never Full. To see last week's delicious dishes, please check out the fabulous round-up done by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cream Cheese Spiral Biscuits

I am not a daring baker. In fact, I am less than an amateur baker :) Sometimes, I get by with using pre-mixes. Though I rarely bake, this does not mean that I am shelving my dream of baking something edible... soon. I drool at the wonderful baked creations of the baking bloggers. I often wish I can bake as good as they can.

So, I figured, I have got to start somewhere. This somewhere has to be something easy, you know, the usual requirements: less ingredients, less effort, less baking time, but something my family would eat! Does this sound too good to be true?

Well, I found one here, in this book:

According to the 500 Fabulous Cakes and Bakes, these biscuits look so impressive and melt in the mouth, yet they are surprisingly easy to make.

I read and reread the ingredients and instructions. It does sound like it is easy to make. Cream cheese is something my kids love. Plus, I have all the ingredients on hand!

1 C butter, at room temperature
1 C cream cheese, at room temperature
2 T caster sugar
2 C plain flour
1 egg white beaten with 1 T water for glazing
caster sugar for sprinkling

for the filling:
1 C finely chopped walnuts (I substituted with cashew nuts)
1/2 C light brown sugar
1 t ground cinnamon

1. Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until soft. Sift over the flour and mix until combined. Gather into a ball and divide in half. Flatten each half, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix all the filling ingredients together and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease 2 baking sheets. Working with one half of the dough at a time, roll out thinly into a 28cm or 11 inch circle. Using a dinner plate as a guide, trim the edges with a knife.

3. Brush the surface with egg wash. Then sprinkle evenly with half the filling.

4. Cut the circle into 16 segments, starting from the base of the triangles, roll up to form spirals.

5. Place on baking sheets and brush with the remaining glaze. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Perhaps it is the quality of the butter I used, or perhaps it is the heat in this tropical country, the dough just would not combine together! Immediately after chilling, they would hold enough for rolling out, but I have not yet finished rolling when they would crumble apart. So, I have to chill the dough again. The third time, I did this, I flattened out the dough before chilling, so that, after chilling, I would just have enough time for cutting the dough into triangles and roll them into spirals.

Result? Not as pretty as the picture in the book. But I promise, the taste is just yummy! Melt in the mouth, buttery, creamy, cheesy biscuits. Not too sweet, just the way we like it. The kids finished them soon after.

Sharing these biscuits with the Bookmarked Recipes community, headed and hosted by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. I apologize that this is a bit just near the cut-off time. I already have the recipe, but had been sick the previous days so I was not able to get up to post this earlier. Anyway, to see last week's delicious recipes, please click here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pork Stew (Adobo) with Mushrooms

Adobo is usually the first dish that every Filipino learns to cook. This is of course because it is a very common and very popular dish here in the Philippines. It is almost considered a national dish. It is simple and very easy to make, and yet very flavorful and tasty, perfectly paired with a steaming bowl of rice. Every Filipino family has his/their own version of Adobo, often with the secret recipe handed down throughout generations.

Typically, the dish is made from pork or chicken or a combination of both. It is slowly cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Here, the variation starts. Some versions do not have soy sauce, their dish is simply flavored with vinegar. Some versions have sauces, some are browned in the oven or pan-fried afterwards to get the desirable crisped edges. Some versions contain only plain meat. Other versions can have vegetables like eggplants or spinach or string beans added. Some versions add more herbs and spices like star anise, or the red colored achiote (achuete). Some do not. I have heard of adobo with gata (coconut milk) and chillies (for those who prefer the spicier kick). I also know of a version with pineapple juice (and crush pineapples) added for the sweetish-sourish taste. Of course, with all the different versions, no adobo would taste and look the same.

So what makes a true adobo? Surprisingly, it is all of the above. Every Filipino would know just by smell alone that the dish is an adobo dish, no matter what version it is. Perhaps it is because of the smell, but then perhaps because it is a dish that defines the Filipino!

For my family, a good-tasting adobo is a dish where none of the spice flavors dominates but rather the taste is a delicate balance of all the ingredients. It has the perfect blend of saltiness and flavor with a hint of sweetness and sourishness.

Here is my version of the adobo, adopted from my grandmother's cooking and my father-in-law's version:

1 kilo pork belly, cut into serving sized cubes

4 T cooking oil

8 T garlic, minced (or more if preferred)

4 T sugar

4 T cracked peppercorn

1 and 1/2 C soy sauce

1/2 C rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1 C water

200 gms golden mushrooms

200 gms straw mushrooms, sliced

Salt and sugar to taste

cilantro for garnish, optional

1. Heat the oil in a wok or a cooking pan. Add in the sugar, cook at low heat. Wait for the sugar to caramelize.

2. Add in the meat cubes and stir the meat, so that the cubes will be evenly coated and browned with the caramelized sugar. Add in the soy sauce, peppercorns, garlic. Stir to mix evenly.

3. When the mixture boils, add in the vinegar. Do not stir until the mixture boils again. Accordingly, if you stir, the sauce will have a bitter aftertaste. But I have always followed this instruction so I cannot confirm if this is true or not. :)

4. When the mixture boils, add in the cup of water. Let boil again and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours. Check in once in a while to see if the sauce is drying up. My kids like their adobo saucy, so I add in lots of water. (Alternately, start in the morning and just drop the contents of this pot in the slow cooker and you will have a wonderful smelling dish come dinner time).

5. Add in the mushrooms before serving, and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust taste with saklt and sugar, depending o your preference. Isn't this dish versatile?

6. Garnish with spring onions or cilantro before serving. Serve hot with rice.

Sharing this Filipino dish with the World Food Day event launched by Val of More than Burnt Toast and Ivy of Kopiaste. This event features dishes that represents our own countries, so that we can have a conga line of international dishes to feed the world!

The objectives of World Food Day are to heighten our awareness of the problem of hunger in the world and to bring to our attention what we can do about it personally. It is a day to encourage us and our governments to be well informed on the issues and to have a plan of action!!!

World Food Day brings to our attention the plight of 862 million undernourished people around the world ...even in our own backyards!! This is sadly a true condition that is happening here in this country. Do you know that many - as in millions of children in this country are dropping out of school because of hunger?

Global warming and the biofuel boom are threatening to push the number of hungry even higher in the decades to come. Add to these problems are the worldwide financial meltdown, and the rising food and energy costs. By having more information, by raising awareness, and finding solutions, we can combat hunger around the world together!!!! We need a plan of attack!!! To find out more about what you can do in your area... visit the World Food Day site here .

This is a worthy cause to support. One earth, one people, one dish at a time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Invitation to Weekend Wokking: Pumpkin

photo courtesy of Teczcape

Tigerfish of Teczcape graciously allowed me to use her pictures taken at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival in California, for this post. Aren't they gorgeous? Pretty in orange! :)

Why do I need the pictures? Because I want to invite you, dear readers, to join me in this month's Weekend Wokking. Can you guess the special, secret ingredient for the month? Hee hee... the pictures gave it away! It's the Pumpkin! :)

If you are cooking any dishes, savory or sweet; or if you are baking something delightful or scary; as long as it contains pumpkins, please do join us in the Weekend Wokking community. Email me anytime between now to November 3, and we will learn together on November 5, many different ways we can prepare and serve the pumpkin! (My email address is at my side-bar on the left of this blog :)

photo courtesy of Teczcape

When you think of pumpkins, now that it is becoming more available, do you think of its nutritional benefits? Please do!

What's so good about pumpkins, anyway?
(The following information is taken from the Associated Content site.)

Pumpkin meat is very high in carotenoids. They're what give pumpkins their orange color—but that's the least of their benefits. Carotenoids are really good at neutralizing free radicals, nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage.

Pumpkins are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals in the lens of the eye. Therefore, they may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.

Besides carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are all antioxidants, pumpkins have a lot of common nutrients, like iron, zinc, and fiber. Iron, of course, is needed by red blood cells. Zinc deficiency may be related to osteoporosis of the hip and spine in older men. And fiber is important for bowel health.

Have I convinced you to cook pumpkins, then? Join Weekend Wokking!

This is a foodie event, launched by Wandering Chopsticks, to see the many different variations we can make of one ingredient. Wouldn't it be great to see a variety of cuisines and to see how each of us handles that one ingredient? This month's ingredient is the Pumpkin!

Here are the rules:

1. Entries for Weekend Wokking must be written specifically for the event, and the posts cannot be submitted to other food blog events. Exceptions include entries in contests.

2. Entries are encouraged to be original recipes created by the submitter, but if you made someone else's recipe, please include a link to that person's original recipe. You are allowed to revisit your recipes, provided that the photos and post are new and created specifically for the event.

3. Submissions must include the words Weekend Wokking and a link back to this post. If the round-up is hosted by someone else, submissions must include a link to this post and a link to that round-up's host. Use of logo is encouraged, but not required.

Please email your entries between now and November 3. If you do not have a blog, just send me your recipes and a photo of your dish and I will gladly post it for you. Am truly excited and looking forward to all your recipes!

Happy Pumpkin Hunting!
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