Friday, June 19, 2009

Fresh Clam Soup with Tofu and Mustard Greens

This is a popular clear soup in Chinese restaurants and "paluto" restaurants here in Manila. It is not surprising, really, since this a flavorful, yet refreshing hot soup. It cleanses the palette in between eating dishes and viands of different flavors. It is healthy and nutritious and virtually non-fat.

This is definitely Hubby's favorite. The secret is getting fresh, live and clean clams. I try to prepare this every chance I get fresh clams from the market. I was just wondering myself why I have not blogged about this before :)

In this nutritious soup, the clams provide the flavor, the tofu provides the protein and I think the ingredient that makes this soup stand out in flavor is the mustard greens. Contrary to what you might suspect, these greens will not make the soup bitter. The leaves made the soup lighter and more refreshing.

1 Kilo fresh clams, clean very well
1 block soft tofu, sliced
100 gms mustard greens, cleaned, chopped
5 slices fresh ginger
1 onion, chopped
3 T canola oil
5 T minced garlic ( we prefer garlicky flavor, lessen if you prefer)
4 T Chinese cooking wine
5 C water
salt and pepper to taste

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 water. Cover and let boil.

4. When the shells of the clams are fully opened, then the soup is ready. Drop in the soft tofu and mustard greens. Let boil, and 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.

If you are cooking soup with strong flavor like clams, or beef, consider adding a few mustard greens. Mustard greens not only adds to the clear taste, but gives a lot of nutrition as well. This food is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. (source: I am surprised to learn that this is one of the few greens that contain protein because it is rich in amino acids. This means this is an ideal food for vegetarians.

Sharing this healthy and nutritious soup with the Weekend Herb Blogging community, headed by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once. This edition is hosted by Astrid at Paulchen's Foodblog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Red Cooked Pork (Adobo) and Mushrooms with Beer

Here in Asia, we simply call this dish Adobo. Anything stewed in soy sauce is Adobo. But I have heard that in the West, this is called red cooked pork. :) Of course my kids insist that the color of adobo is brown, not red. I explain that red-cooked pork sounds nicer than brown-cooked pork :)

By whatever name this dish is called, this dish is still the ultimate comfort dish for many Filipinos. Have you heard of the saying that if you do not know what dish to cook, simply prepare adobo?

This is a simple Pork Stew, easy to prepare and yet, the taste is made sublime by the addition of beer. The fragrance is more complicated as well. :) By the way, this dish is certified kid-friendly because by the time the pork is cooked, the alcoholic content of beer had already been evaporated. You cannot detect the taste of beer in the finished dish.

I confess I did the same cooking style as I did with our regular Adobo, except that instead of adding water, I added beer.

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

2 cans Beer

1 C water, optional (my kids prefer lots of sauce)

200 gms golden mushrooms

200 gms straw mushrooms, sliced

4 pcs large dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water, then chopped

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 2 cans of beer. 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 shiitake mushrooms and 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 straw mushrooms and golden mushroms 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.

Make that lots of rice. You will not be able to resist the aroma and the taste.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spiked Minty Green Tea

During parties in my high school days, the naughty boys would spike our fruit juices with rum or brandy. These delicious, lightly intoxicating, fruit punches made us feel all grown-up indeed... :) Of course, we smart girls, would never touch any of the boys' concoction. At least, I remember being happy (and safe) with a can of soda instead. I would never risk being found out by my parents, nor risk being grounded, or worse, never to be allowed to attend parties anymore!

Of course, now that we are adults, we are allowed to add alcohol to our party drinks! Only, if we drink in moderation... :) This lightly spiked drink is reminiscent of our younger days. Try this! It healthy - it does not contain sugars from fruit juices. It is refreshing; cool for the palette and warm for the tummy. :) Of course, if you prefer a drink with no alcohol, feel free to omit the sake (rice wine). This drink will still taste good and refreshing!

3 pcs green tea bags
a handful of fresh mint, washed, dried
3 C hot, boiling water
1/2 C sake (Japanese rice wine)

1. In a large, heat-proof pitcher, steep the green tea bags and mint leaves in hot boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool before chilling in the refrigerator.

2. When ready to serve, mix in the sake. Pour into individual cocktail glasses. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired.

Sending this simple, refreshing drink with Ria's birthday celebration over at Ria's Collection. Check out her blog after June 21 for the delicious treats of cookies, cakes and cocktails.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Japanese-Style Potato Noodle Soup with Crabsticks and Nori

Don't be deceived by the long title of this dish. (I just do not know what to call this noodle dish I came up with.) This is actually a very easy dish to prepare. This is more like putting all the ingredients together.

Let's start with the noodles. This is another kind of potato noodle I bought. It is flat and took a few minutes longer in cooking. We first discovered potato noodle here. It was deliciously chewy and better tasting than ramen. So, I would always be on the look-out for potato noodles in the market. Simply boil the noodles in water according to package directions and set aside.

I normally would have homemade broth - either pork or chicken - on hand. Homemade broth are so versatile. And especially useful for those busy weeknights when you only have a little time to prepare for dinner. But this time, I had none! And I so wanted to make a quick noodle dinner!

This is what I made:

1 sachet (15 gms) bonito flakes (Japanese dried fish flakes)
1 C dashi
1/2 C Japanese soy sauce
1/2 C mirin
2 C water
salt and pepper to taste

12 pieces kani or Japanese crabsticks
1 sheet nori (Japanese seaweed), cut up
sesame oil with chili, optional

3 packs (350 gms) potato noodle, cooked according to package direction

1. Boil water, dashi, bonito flakes, soy sauce, mirin together to form your broth. When the soup boils, add in the kani or crabsticks. Turn off heat.

2. In individual serving bowls, portion off each serving of noodles. Top with nori. Pour in the soup with the crabsticks. Drizzle with sesame oil with chili, if preferred. You can also add chopped green onions. But I didn't have any on hand :)

A very easy, fast noodle dish to prepare, if you have the Japanese ingredients available in your pantry. We are fans of Japanese dishes because they are simple to prepare, very tasty and very healthy. So, these ingredients are regular items of my pantry. I would recommend you to start having these Japanese staple in your pantry as well.

Sharing this simple Japanese noodle soup with the Presto Pasta Nights community, headed by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast. This edition is hosted by Daphne of More Than Words.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Basil and Cheddar Bread

I think I have discovered the best bread ever. At least for my little family's taste :) To veer away from our regular whole wheat bread, I added chopped fresh basil leaves and grated cheddar to our bread and the result was delicious!

This adventure all started when our German missionary friend, A, gave me a bottle of homemade salsa. (see the picture above?) She said this salsa would be delicious as dips or spread over tortillas or bread. I got her recipe, by the way, for the delicious spicy salsa, but have yet to make it :)

Anyway, I thought bread with basil would go well with the tomato salsa. And it does! I just thought of adding cheese because I have some left-over from the fridge. :)

Here's what I did:

2 and 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C grated cheddar cheese
2 T chopped fresh basil leaves
1 and 1/2 t salt
1 and 1/2 t instant dried yeast
3 T olive oil
1 T honey
1 and 1/4 C warm water
grated parmesan cheese, for dusting

1. Put all the flours in a large bowl. Add in the cheese, basil, salt and yeast. Add the oil and honey. Gradually mix in enough water to make a smooth, soft, dough.

2. Knead well on a floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. For some techniques on kneading bread, please click here.

3. Put the dough back into the bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm or a clean towel and leave in a warm place to rise for one to one and a half hour, until doubled in size.

4. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, knead well then cut into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 inch length and transfer to a large greased baking sheet (I used olive oil in greasing the baking sheet.) Leave some space in between the dough rolls, to allow them to rise.

5. Make diagonal cuts along the top of each loaf, at intervals. Cover again with the oiled clingfilm and allow to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

6. Sprinkle the loaves with parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 400 F. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped with fingertips. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

These are the loaves fresh out of the oven. They smell really heavenly. I could not resist a bite. :)

This is a whole loaf, ready to be wrapped in foil. Sent this to A, whose delicious salsa was the inspiration for this bread. Guess what? She said their family liked this bread so much. (Maybe you think she is just being polite. No, ma'am. Our friendship is quite close enough to tell each other whether we like our food or not; and we do criticize each other's cooking and baking.) Even her little girl, who is a picky eater, loved it. And she asked me for the recipe. Here's the recipe, A. Enjoy! :)

Sharing this deliciously fragrant bread with the BYOB Bake Your Own Bread community, headed by Sandy at the Baker's Bench.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Siniguelas or Spanish Plums

Say hello to Sir Lancelot - our pet lion cub! Hey! He's an authentic lion imported from South Africa! Even if he was looking intently at the siniguelas, he will not bite :) All he does is sit around the sofa the whole day!

Ok, back to Siniguelas or Spanish plums :) This is a fruit which I don't think South Africans lions are familiar with. Since it is summer here, lots of summer fruits come out and Siniguelas is one of them. It is purplish green when unripe (like the photos shown here). It tastes a bit tart and sweetish at this state, the skin is taut and crunchy when you bite into it. This is sooo yummy eaten with a few grains of salt! It makes my mouth water just writing about this. I have heard before that this is the favorite fruit of singer Gary Valenciano.

The fruit turns either yellow or deep red when ripe. Then, it becomes sweet. Still yummy and oozing with juice with every bite. Beware the large seeds however. :)

The siniguelas is a small fruit, approximately one inch to one a half inches in length. It looks like this:

Why write about this fruit? Because this fruit is a part of my childhood summer memories of playing in the streets with the neighbors. Remember jackstone, hopscotch, and Chinese garter? And of course, munching on these Siniguelas (aren't they the perfect size for small kiddie hands?) dipped in salt...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Korean Beef Stew (Yukkae Jang Kuk)

Here in Manila, we do not usually stew beef in soy sauce (adobo). Pork adobo, yes. Chicken adobo, yes. Beef adobo? Very rarely. We always cook our beef as steaks, or in soups, or smothered with tomato sauce or peanut sauce (as in Kare-kare). But then, my knowledge of Filipino food is limited to the Tagalog and the National Capital region :)

The Koreans have this mildly spicy and sweet soy sauce braised/stew beef dish. The sauce is so delicious and flavorful with rice. The kids love it. The good news is, this is so easy to prepare at home. Just dump all the ingredients in a pot and simmer away. :) Or you can add all the ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning before you go to work, (or when you do your errands) and when you come back, you will have melt-in-the mouth beef stew that goes very well with fragrant jasmine rice. :)

1 and 1/2 kilo beef ribs or beef shank, chopped (I used beef shank)
1 C soy sauce
1/2 C sugar (or more - up to 1 cup, if you prefer sweeter sauce)
1 whole garlic, peeled, chopped coarsely
1 onion, chopped
1 large knob of ginger (about 2 inches), sliced
3 -4 pcs green peppers (siling haba) or jalapeno peppers (more or less according to taste)

2 pcs radish, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks spring onions, chopped
2 T sesame seeds
dash of sesame oil, optional

1. In a deep pot, add in the beef, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onion, ginger, and green peppers. Add enough water (around 1 to 2 cups) to cover the beef pieces. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 to 1 and a half hours until beef is soft. Alternatively, you can use slow cooker and simmer for 4 hours or longer.

2. Add in the radish and cook radish in beef for 15 minutes more. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle up in a serving dish. Add in a dash or two of sesame oil. Sprinkle sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve hot with rice.

Other Korean dishes I have made:

Korean Bulgogi
Korean Chap Chae (Noodles with Beef)
Kimchi Fried Rice

Sharing this melt-in-the mouth beef stew with Regional Recipes, a food event created by Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok. This edition's host is Wandering Chopsticks. Please check out her blog after June 15 for the round-up of delicious Korean recipes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Food Trip Singapore Part 3

One of my favorite things to do when I visit a country is to bring back the food and the food products unique to that country or those products that are not available here in Manila. Here are some of my food "loots" during this trip to Singapore several months back. (Click here to see Part 1 and Part 2 of our Singapore Food Trip :)

A pack of ginseng root. I use this for our tonic Chicken Ginseng Soup or our delicious Snow Fungus with Red Ginseng dessert. This pack costs around 16 Singapore dollars. That's roughly 500 Philippine pesos. But since I use this pack for several servings, each serving would be less than 100 pesos (less than US $ 2).

Flower teas. I tried the dried rose petals. Well, it smells like roses. But I still prefer the good ol' green tea :)

Finally, I got fennel seeds! The other pack (below) is coriander seeds, but we have that available here. I have been searching for fennel seeds for a long time here in Manila and could not find some. Now, I know what it looks like, what it smells like... I sound like a kid :) Anyway, I have baked bread with fennel seeds, this one waiting for its turn to be posted.

I have tasted this crab sauce and it is oh-so-flavorful, so I bought a bottle. I do not have to slather this on crabs. I think this would be perfect for stir-fry noodles! :)

Is this the Bak Kut Teh spice pack recommended by Noobcook? I think it is. This pack is more expensive than the other Bak Kut Teh spice packs but I think it is worth it because it contains real dried Chinese herbs. I have made soup with this and sure enough, it tasted better than the other brands of spice packs we've tried. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of my soup! But not to worry, I have several more packs and I promise to take a photo and blog about this! :)

I do feel good when I can recreate here at home some of the foods I've enjoyed in other countries, don't you?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whole Wheat Pizza with Shrimps, Olives and Tomato Pesto

It is pizza for dinner again! :)

After making my very first pizza, I found out that home-made pizza is not only delicious - it is better tasting than store-bought pizza. Plus, it is quite easy to do. Of course it will take some time for the dough to rise, so you have to plan and allot some time for that. But other than that, there should be no problem at all. And you will be able to save some money because store-bought ones are not exactly cheap!

Another big plus factor is that I got the kids to help me with the pizza making. Since pizza is something they love to eat, they are quite excited to help out in the kitchen. Daughter did the kneading this time. And being not used to exerting her muscles, :) she said that she realized it was not easy, but that it was good exercise!

I was ready and excited to experiment with different toppings and different types of flour for the dough. Here is my first experiment using whole wheat flour for the pizza dough and shrimp tomato pesto for the toppings - all the ingredients that my family loves!

For the dough:

3 and 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 t salt
1 t caster sugar
1 and 1/2 t instant dried yeast
3 T olive oil
1 C warm water

For the topping:

1 C tomato pesto
1/3 C sliced pitted black olives
1 C cooked, boiled (peeled) shrimps
5 T minced garlic
4 T chopped basil leaves
salt and pepper
4 T olive oil

1. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the oil and gradually mix in enough warm water to make a soft dough.

2. Knead well on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

3. Grease the pizza pan (I also used olive oil). Tip the dough over to the pizza pan, and use hands to spread and shape the dough to cover the pan. I have read somewhere that using a rolling pin would alter the texture of the pizza crust. It should look like this:

4. Spread some tomato pesto (I used store-bought this time), then add boiled, peeled shrimps, chopped raw garlic, sliced pitted, black olives, chopped sweet basil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. I wrote down n estimated amount that we used. But the amount of topping actually depends on how much you prefer. I also drizzled the top with additional olive oil so that it will not dry out. It looks like this:

5. Let rest for 30 minutes, to let the dough rise again. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Because I used quick-melt mozzarella, I had to add in the grated mozarella cheese at the 8 minute mark, returned the pizza to the oven and baked the pizza for 2 minutes more until cheese are all bubbly and melted.

6. Slice and serve immediately.

Please note the difference in oven temperature and baking time between my first pizza and this second pizza. In the first pizza, I used 375F with a longer baking time. This time, I used 425F with a shorter baking time. With this slightly higher temperature, I was able to get a nice crust - which is crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside.

Sharing another delicious pizza with the Bake Your Own Bread community, headed by Sandy at the Baker's Bench. Check out what the BYOB gang have been baking at the Sandy's site by the end of the month.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Salad Greens with Orange Balsamic Dressing

My mother-in-law says that her son - my Hubby can "sleep on a bed of vegetables." (That's my translation from Chinese.) She meant this figuratively, of course. I found this to be true early in our marriage. Hubby can eat a meal without meat (you know, the usual viand or ulam of chicken or beef or pork or fish...) Hubby can eat a meal even without rice (that is, if I serve him pasta, or noodles, or bread). Hubby can eat a meal without soup. But he will complain if I serve him a meal without vegetables. He just has to see greens on his table during meals.

I am happy our kids learned to eat veggies at an early age. And we didn't have to force them to learn. I think this came naturally as we have veggies on our table everyday.

Salad greens is a common veggie we have. We eat them raw, of course, drizzled with homemade dressings. Our current favorite green is lollo rosso lettuce. But sometimes, we have romaine. Depends on what's available fresh... Sometimes we add cucumber, onions, tomatoes. Sometimes we add fruits such as apples, or oranges or mangoes or grapes. The possibilities are endless. What is important is that I create a variety of flavors at every meal.

150 gms lettuce greens
a handful of grapes
a handful of cherry tomatoes
an orange, peeled, segmented
1 white onion, sliced

Wash all of these very well, and drain all the water. Arrange on serving plates. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.

Orange Balamic Dressing

1/8 t salt
1/4 c orange juice (I use freshly squeezed orange juice)
2 T Balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 t olive oil
1/4 t pepper

Mix all the dressing ingredients well. Either by using a fork, or a hand mixer, or shake them in a clean bottle, etc. Drizzle over the salad greens or serve on the side.

This is a delicious, both sweet and tart dressing that is becoming our favorite. All natural and homemade with nutritious ingredients.

Sharing these healthy salad greens with FIC: Food in Color with your personal favorite color as this month's theme. Actually, this is the family's favorite food color - Green! FIC food event is launched by Sunshine Mom of Tongue Ticklers and hosted this month at Tasty Curry Leaf. Check out her blog first week of June for tasty and colorful dishes.

Also sharing these healthy salad greens with SWC - Cooking with Greens, hosted by Sowmya of Creative Saga. Check out her blog after June 6 for the round-up of healthy and delicious green dishes. As Sowmya had said, it is very important that we have our cup of greens daily. I know this dish is not exactly cooked. But greens are better served raw! Then you will be able to get the full benefits of the nutrients present in green food.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pan-Seared Fish with Capers and Lemon Cream Sauce

This is one of those dishes that sound sophisticated but is actually very easy to prepare. And I promise it tastes great, too! The recipe is also quite versatile as you can use any kind of white fish,whether filleted or not : halibut, dory, tilapia, snapper etc. And you can even substitute filleted chicken breasts or chicken tenders. This is so delicious with rice, and you can even serve this with pasta. A recipe so versatile and delicious such as this is definitely a keeper.

600 gms fish fillets, both sides sprinkled with
salt, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
flour, enough to slightly cover both sides of fillets

juice from 1 lemon (save a slice or two for garnish)
1/2 C dry white wine
1/4 C heavy cream (or sour cream or plain yogurt, whatever you have on hand)
3 T capers (drained)
3 T olive oil
3 T butter
4 T minced garlic
1/2 onion, minced

1. In a wok or skillet, heat up the olive oil and butter until butter melts. Turn up the heat and brown or sear the fish fillet on one side. Turn the fish over to sear the other side.

2. Add in the garlic and onions. The pour in the white wine and the juice of one lemon. (You can add 1/4 C water if you prefer more sauce). When the sauce boils, let simmer in low fire for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add in the capers and cream. Mix the sauce well. Let boil, lower heat until fish is cooked (This will take only a minute or two.) Serve immediately.

All these effort took less than 30 minutes of preparation and cooking. The result? A very tasty and flavorful dish we ate with fragrant jasmine rice. This is so delicious the kids had second helping of rice. :) Daughter said she thought the fish was baked because of the melt-in-the mouth texture.

Sharing this dish with the Weekend Wokking community, headed and hosted this month by Wandering Chopsticks. The featured ingredient for the month is Lemon! Check out her blog first week of June for the round-up of delicious sweet and savory lemon dishes. To see the previous round-ups of different ways to cook an ingredient, please click here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Do You Think About My New Header?

The title should be : What do you think about my new header, again?

Last year, my daughter made a header for me. If you remember it was made from pink and green motif. Quite girly, but what do you expect from an 11-year-old? I am quite proud that she can even make something like that, so this site proudly wore that banner until today...

Today, my daughter presented me with a new header. Wow! Isn't this a great Mother's Day gift?

When I was 12, I did not know anything about computers. (But then, up to now, I do not know much about computers, either... ha ha ha!) Hey! I am not that old. It was just that, I do not think computers were common in ordinary homes at that time. I was out, playing hopscotch or Chinese garter on the streets. I was also a junior girl scout in school. We were not allowed to direct traffic and help other kids cross the street like what kids in more modern countries do. But I remember we were supposed to watch and guard over the playground - to keep kids safe, to keep them from fighting and to report any injuries. I do not remember if I did my job well or not, the memories are fuzzy as the movements on the playground... but I did receive a medal at the end of the year... so maybe I did do something good :)

Nowadays, kids are not allowed to play on the streets anymore. For safety and health reasons. And the kids' school removed their playground equipments because of the number of injuries and fighting (are kids more violent these days? or the parents more prone to complain?) There are no physical education subject up to grade 3! And so, what is a mom to do? I enrolled them in sports classes like swimming to keep their bodies fit.

But swimming does not occupy a whole lot of time, so the children became computer literate early. By the way, television viewing as well as computer time for kids is limited in this household. :) And we say no to violent computer games :)

I admit my kids are more computer literate than I am. My 12-year-old designed this new header. This site will be proudly wearing this banner until the time, when she makes a new banner again or maybe when my 8-year-old will be able to make his own design as well. I thank God for my kids. Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tarragon Green Tea

Let's take a break from our Singapore food trip (You may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 here and here) and enjoy this refreshing drink.

I discovered this delicious drink when we were dining in a restaurant with our pastor. He ordered the tarragon tea. Maybe you already know about tarragon tea, but this is our first time to encounter this concoction. I found it to be refreshing and delicious! It was slightly sweet, with a flavor not far from rootbeer. In fact, my son was asking me if the rootbeer is made from tarragon or not! Since we love rootbeer, we of course, fell in love with tarragon tea - a healthier alternative to rootbeer!

I know about tarragon, the herb and its usage in food and in cooking. I know it is a popular herb used in French cooking. I rarely use this herb in our home cooking though, because, well, for a time, it was not available here. Maybe it does not grow well in tropical weather. But lately though, this herb can be found sold fresh (not dried), in upscale supermarkets, supplied by specialty farms from Tagaytay ( a cool, mountain city south of Manila).

And so, I bought a pack of fresh tarragon leaves and made this tea. A 100 gm pack gave a lot of cups of tea! This is very simple to make. Simply steep 4 or 5 stalks of tarragon (per cup) and green tea in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the tea leaves and the tarragon leaves. Enjoy! You can drink it hot or cold. I also prefer our tea unsweetened.

By the way, this is my own concoction. I think the restaurant simply used purely tarragon leaves and nothing else, for the tea they served was very light colored- almost like water. While my version with green tea turned amber. And by the way, I used China green tea, which turns amber when steeped. This is different from the Japanese green tea, which turns green when steeped.

Try this refreshing drink this summer. Or after eating a bowl-ful of spicy food :)

Sharing this refreshing drink with the Weekend Herb Blogging community, launched by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, now headed and managed by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything At Least Once. This edition's (#185) host is Susan from the Well-Seasoned Cook.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Food Trip Singapore Part 2

Part 2 of our Singapore Food Fair brings you some of the food we were able to taste. Not much, for we have eaten with our friends before we visited the fair :) We chose the food that we have not tried before (except for the noodles), that we do not usually find here in Manila...

These grilled sausages were so tasty and juicy. They come in different flavors - if I remember right, they have three flavors, selling at S$1 each. The peppered sausages stood out for they were really full of peppers. You cannot taste the meat anymore :) Daughter loved it, nevertheless. Another one was cheese sausage, and it was super cheesy, one bite and the hot cheese spurted out. The other was plain meat sausage. These two were very tasty. We went back for seconds :)

I simply call these omelets. But they have a fancy name for these omelet (which I forgot... he he...) They also come in three flavors, but we chose the salmon omelet (the ones on the left where the seller/vendor was cracking an egg.) The base is made mostly of cabbages. These were cooked right on the spot, so they come piping hot.

This is the salmon omelet, served in the ever-convenient, but definitely not earth-friendly styrofoam... all chopped up into bite-size pieces. Actually, it was nothing fantastic. It tastes like... well... egg, fish and veggies... plus a dash of mayonnaise... It was a bit disappointing actually. I was expecting a different exotic flavor, like a special herb used or something... :(

Ahhh... the Laksa. When you come to Asia, specially Singapore and Malaysia, you really have to taste their laksa. This is a spicy noodle soup dish made with coconut milk and various spices. This stall sells the laksa with different toppings - chicken, prawns and I think one with no meat topping at all. But the noodles used are the same, and the soup base is the same. The vendor simply laddles the same soup to different bowls.

We chose the prawn laksa. For the price, he only included one piece of prawn per bowl. :) The vendor was thoughtful not to include the chilli directly into the noodle soup so that we can have the choice to put in the amount of heat that we can take. This one is soo yummy, it is making me hungry just to remember and type about it... :)

Hubby bought this "Mee Goreng" (fried noodles) from another stall that I was not able to take a good picture. (Sorry, it was really crowded. It was kind of hard to jostle for a space to take picture when many people are queing and waiting for their food...) This looks like our regular pancit canton (stir fry noodles) But it is not. It has a different flavor, and quite spicy but very yummy. I detected a little curry, a little chilli, soy sauce, of course...

Up next are the food we bought to take back home... :)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Food Trip Singapore - Part 1

I had to unearth my photo archives for these pictures. I totally forgot that I wanted to share these pictures with you. These are some pictures taken from a food fair in Singapore. Isn't it just great that when we arrived in Singapore a few months back, there was a food fair! We actually did not know about this. We have to thank our friendly taxi driver for this valuable information :) (Of course this information is valuable to us food lovers... he he)

Of course no Singapore food fair is complete without the Bee Chieng Hang. This is Singapore's most popular food store! It is often featured in Singaporean movies. I love their meat floss and peppered beef jerky. Yum!

Takoyaki Balls, Singaporean style. I think this originated in Japan?? Taiwan also has their own version. These are made of eggs and various fillings. Very tasty!

Hubby, being a noodle fan, of course, cannot resist handmade noodles!

Madelines and other sweets and pies...

More pies, both sweet and savory... can you see the people waiting for their turn?

Why is it I cannot resist Sushi wherever I go?

Stay with me! More foodie pictures to come!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chicken Ginseng Soup

For the Chinese, this is the ultimate comfort Chicken Soup - the one with Ginseng (Ren Shen).

The golden brown root you see in the above photo is ginseng. Ginseng in traditional Chinese medicine revitalizes the body energy, improves circulation, increases blood supply. If you ask the elderly people what other benefits ginseng has, they will be surprised why you have to ask such a question. It is good for you. It is the ultimate - the sovereign remedy to any illness anyone could ever have. Period.

Lately, Western researchers have started to study the nutritional benefits of ginseng and initial findings show that ginseng has anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties.

Ginseng is usually available in dried form, this should be available in Chinese or Asian stores. We usually steam ginseng sweetened with white fungus, or bird's nest. And it can also be added to chicken soup that will make this truly a comfort and energizing food for every member of the family.

This is a very easy to prepare soup. Just add all the ingredients to boiling water, simmer for an hour and you have a nourishing, energizing soup.

1 K chicken, chopped (preferably organic, or native)
4 pcs dried ginseng root
1 stalk leeks, washed, chopped
a knob of ginger, sliced
1 clove garlic
3 T Chinese wolfberry (Guo Qi Chi), optional

salt and pepper to taste

Sharing this nutritious soup featuring ginseng to the Weekend Herb Blogging community, headed by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything At Least Once. This edition is hosted by Marija of Palachinka. Check out her blog on Monday for the round-up!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Veggie Juice : Juicing for Your Health

Am I hearing "Yuck! Yuck!" from you??? :D Please take time to read. I hope you might change your mind just like I did. :D

I have heard of juicing many times before. But I never paid attention to it because I could not imagine what raw veggie would taste in liquid form. I would eat them cooked, but juiced raw?? I thought that would be yucky! In Filipino, "Kadiri!"

My interest was piqued when the children's Ninong (godfather) DL was raving about the health benefits of juicing. Why? This good friend of Hubby was a certified junkfood addict (chips, processed canned meats, soda, etc) And if he liked the raw veggie juice, then it would not be all that bad!

In the same week, our good friend and co-worker at Couples@Work Fellowship, J, (the same J who gave us strawberries last December) shared with me that they have also started juicing because of its healthy benefits. She was the one who taught me the ABCs of juicing. And it is so easy!!!

This is the simplest to remember: Take a look at the picture above, top row, left to right, then bottom row left to right.

1 A -- Apple
2 B -- Bell Pepper and Bittermelon
3 C -- Cucumber, Celery, Carrot

Wash them well, chop them and throw all of them (yes, while they are still raw) into the juicer. Drink fresh, at room temperature. Preferably at breakfast.

I admit the taste is something you have to get used to. But really, it is not bad. If you do not like the taste of bittermelon, you can add one more apple to sweeten your juice. (Shhh... sometimes I do not add the bittermelon at all...)

Actually juicing is also very versatile. You can juice any vegetable you prefer. You can start with just celery and cucumber. Then you add more veggies as you go along. You can add lettuce and spinach. Later on you can even add bok choy and cabbages. The key is that you try to juice different vegetables each day so that you can maximize the different vitamins and minerals that different veggies offer. Instead of apples to sweeten the taste, you can try coconut or grapes. Experiment on different combinations and find the taste that you like.

Why juice instead of eating them cooked? Health proponents say that cooking and processing our veggies alters their nutritional benefits. It is better to eat the veggies raw in order to get the full value of nutrients the veggies offer. And if we get the full benefits, it would greatly help our immune system. Another thing is that our digestive system is already impaired because of our poor food choices over the years. And juicing would help us absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables.

Oh, and one more tip, clean your juicer immediately after juicing. I add a small plastic bag inside the tray that catches the pulp. So when I am finished juicing, I simply throw away the plastic bag (containing the pulp.) As for the blades, I use a toothbrush and run it under the tap. I also rinse the other washable parts under running water. No need for soap.

I feel good when I drink this veggie juice. I know I am doing something good for my health. I do not feel constipated. I feel more energetic. Many health sites claim that we can lose weight if we try vegetable juice regularly. Well, I am looking forward to losing some weight. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easy Beer Bread

I found this intriguing bread recipe from Maggie's Doghill Kitchen. She in turn got it from the Zesty Cook. Maggie gave good reviews to this bread, so I knew I just have to try this. And guess what? When I was viewing YouTube, looking for videos on the proper techniques on how to knead bread, I found this video that shows us how to make Beer Bread!

This bread is really super easy to do. No yeast needed. That means no more waiting for the dough to rise. The beer gave the bread its distinctive aroma. And the melted butter poured on top before baking gave the bread a nice crunchy texture. This bread is so delicious, I already made this several times. Once, I served this with soup. Another time, I simply slathered on some cream cheese and it made a tasty snack.

mixed dough placed in the loaf pan

1 and 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 C whole wheat flour
4 and 1/2 t baking powder
1/3 C brown sugar (I used muscovado sugar)
1/2 C butter, melted
1 can (12 oz) beer

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add beer until dough is thoroughly mixed.

3. Place dough in a lightly greased loaf pan. Drizzle melted butter on top.

this may look so sinful and artery clogging
but when baked, it dries up into the crust
that gave the bread its crunchy texture

4. Bake until golden brown (approximately 50 to 60 minutes) Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely. Resist from temptation to taste :)

The first time I made this bread, I used dark ale. I thought I wanted the taste and flavor of strong beer. I found that though it was yummy, there was a slight bitter aftertaste. So, the next time I experimented and used light beer. The flavor of beer is less and there was still that ever-so-slight bitter aftertaste. I wonder why. However, inspite of that aftertaste, this bread really tastes good and the recipe is definitely a keeper.

Sharing this bread with the Bookmarked Recipes community, created by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments.

Also sharing this bread with the BYOB Bake Your Own Bread community, headed by Sandy of the Baker's Bench.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stir Fried Bok Choy (Pechay) with Pork and Tomatoes

Bok Choy or Pechay is one of the first vegetables my kids learned to love. This is not surprising actually because it tastes mild and sweet and its texture is crunchy. Another factor to love about this vegetable is the price! It is one of the cheaper vegetable available around here. We all know that we have to be more budget-conscious nowadays. And bok choy simply fits the bill! Nutrition wise, it is high in calcium, potassium and even in vitamin C! There is nothing that you will not like about the ever-versatile BokChoy!

This is also a very easy vegetable to prepare. You can put it in soups, or make stir fries such as this recipe. Cooking time is short, so this is also a perfect veggie for quick-cooking meals.

300 gms Bok Choy, cleaned, cut into 1 inch pieces

100 gms ground pork, marinated in
1 T soy sauce
1 T cornstarch

4 T cooking oil, preferably canola
4 T minced garlic
2 pcs tomatoes, washed, seeded, chopped
1 T fish sauce (or substitute soy sauce)
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Marinate pork for about 15 minutes. You can do this before washing the veggies and preparing the ingredients. By the time you're finished washing and cutting up your veggies, you are ready to cook.

2. Heat up the oil in a wok or a cooking pan. Add in the garlic, and saute until fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and allow the tomatoes to wilt a little, around 2 minutes. Then, add in the marinated ground pork. Saute until the meat changes color and add in the fish sauce. Simmer and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until meat is cooked through.

3. Add in the bok choy, starting with the stem cuts. Stir for a while so that all the bok choy will thoroughly absorb the flavors. Cook for around 1 minute, as we prefer our vegetable still crunchy. Cook longer if you prefer wilted. Add a dash of freshly ground pepper before dishing up.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


view from down under

I bought some sweet potatoes some weeks back, planning to bake some healthy sweet potato fries. I packed them away in the pantry and promptly forgot about them.

Today, I found that my sweet potatoes has sprouted! Normally, I would throw them away. But this time, I took a photo first, for Jugalbandi's Click April, the theme is Spring or Autumn. I am not really a good photographer, but these budding leaves who thrived inspite of being kept in a dark place with no soil, no water, no sunlight - truly gives an inspiration for life!

Then, after I post this, I am going to plant these babies in a pot. Maybe I will not grow new sweet potatoes (I am not sure if these root crops will thrive in a pot) but I will have the leaves that will add beautiful colors to my humble abode. :)
LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs