Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Australia – the Food Icons – Pavlova

unwhipped cream and pomegranate

Here’s another classic dessert that has dubious origins. By that I mean both Aussies and Kiwis claim this as their national dish. Apparently the dessert was named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It was supposed to have been created to honour the artist on one of her tours of Australia and New Zealand.

Pavlova is a meringue based dessert topped with whipped cream and fresh seasonal tart tasting fruits (mainly strawberries, kiwis and passion fruit).

Whenever the wifey makes leche flan, pavlova is sure to follow. It is the perfect solution to the leftover egg white problem after making the classic Filipino dessert.

The recipe below is actually the wife’s.

Cherry’s Pavlova

5 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoons cornflour
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
3. Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat until soft peaks form.
4. Add the caster sugar a little bit a time.
5. Add the salt.
6. Beat for a few more minutes until stiff peaks form.
7. Add the vanilla and beat a little bit more.
8. Fold the cornflour into the mixture.
9. Form approximately 12 several individual pavlovas or 1 large (approximately 20cm in diameter) pavlova onto the baking tray.
10. Lower the heat to 125°C and bake for 1 ½ hours.
11. Turn off the heat and leave the pavlova to cool down in the oven with the door ajar.
12. Dress your pavlova with whipped (fresh) cream and fruits in season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

12 years…

If I am a comedian I’m literally running out of material…

After 12 years (make that 17 if we include the years before the wedding) together you’d think finding a gift for your spouse would be a walk in the park. On the contrary, I walked and ran and still I couldn’t find the perfect gift for my lovely wife. There’s so much I want to say that one gift was not going cut it.

So, I’m not going to talk about what I got her. This year she’s certainly outdone me in the gift giving area.

For one, what she gave me is something I really want. Another reason is I really want she got me. Did I already say I love what she gave me? In fact, I wanted it so badly I joined a couple of competitions (unbeknownst to her) hoping I wouldn’t have to shell out that much moolah for a book(I’m still waiting for the email notifications to tell me I’ve won).

Yes, it’s a book. It’s actually a food book. I say it’s a food book because it’s more than just a collection of recipes. My newest food book is titled The Songs of Sapa, Stories and Recipes from Vietnam by Luke Nguyen of the renowned Red Lantern restaurant of Sydney. The title says it all. If you’ve been following this blog you know how enamoured I am by that country’s cuisine.

A food journey similar to that of Luke Nguyen (with the Philippines as the setting) is something I hope to make in the future.

Dreams do come true! After all, I’m married to my one true love…

Happy anniversary sweetheart!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Baon – Ginataang Hipon at Kalabasa (Prawn & Pumpkin in Coconut Milk)

In the past I never would have dared bring such delights to work. But after my tuyo and curry lunch barely caused a murmur I feel almost invincile and uninhibited to bring whatever i fancy. I figured there couldn’t be anything worse of an assault to your nostrils than dried fish (there's plenty I know but let’s not get side tracked).

The recipe is a rehash of a previous post with a slight variation. I peeled the prawns before cooking for a less fiddly lunch at work.

I also brought some tuna for another layer of flavour to my lunch.

Ginataang Hipon at Kalabasa (Prawns & Pumpkin in Coconut Milk)

1 medium onion chopped
6 slices of ginger
6-8 medium prawns peeled
Pumpkin (I don’t know how to quantify this. 1 regular size wedge, I suppose)
1 bunch mustard greens (mustasa)
1 can coconut milk
Fish sauce or sea salt
Oil for sautéing

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Sauté the ginger for about a minute then add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the prawns and cook for about a minute.
4. Add the pumpkin.
5. Add a bit of fish sauce or sea salt at this stage of the cooking.
6. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer until the pumpkin is done.
7. Add more fish sauce or sea salt if necessary.
8. Add the mustard greens and cook for another minute.
9. Serve with grilled or fried fish.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Baon – Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)

The one and only sandwich that truly hits the spot for me is the Vietnamese Banh Mi.

What is Banh Mi?

It is a sandwich composed of a light and crispy baguette (made using a combination of rice and wheat flour) filled with mayonnaise, liver pâté, chillies, coriander, cucumber, pickled carrot and your choice of protein (Vietnamese cold cuts, leftover roasts/barbecues, etc.).

It does sound a lot…because it is. But you only need small quantities of each to create this masterpiece of a sandwich.

For today’s lunch I’ve used leftover lechon (and Vietnamese pork roll) to give it a Pinoy touch and then some beetroot instead of pickled carrots to add a bit of an Aussie element to my sandwich.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baon - Pork Adobo

Adobo is a cooking style indigenous to the Philippines but is similarly named to a Spanish cooking method. Filipino adobo basically means cooking meat (sometimes fish and seafood as well) in vinegar. The addition of soy sauce and other spices, black pepper and bay leaves in particular, came later when the Filipinos started trading with other cultures (especially the Chinese).

Homemade ensaymadas for breakfast

There are as many versions of adobo as there are Filipino households around the globe. Mine is quite simple and I prefer to use only pork. To achieve a real authentic adobo I suggest you use Filipino branded coconut vinegar (Datu Puti perhaps) and soy sauce (Silver Swan).

To balance the fattiness of my adobo I would normally serve it with a side of vegetables. For my baon today I brought fried eggplant that I topped with caramelised garlic and onion from my adobo.

Pork Adobo ala Kidpawan

1kg pork belly cut in fairly large chunks
60ml coconut vinegar
60ml Filipino soy sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
Black pepper
1 head of garlic chopped finely
1 large onion chopped
Water (just enough to cover the meat)
Bay leaf (optional, I don’t use it in mine)
A bit of oil for sautéing

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot but set aside a quarter of the garlic and onion for sautéing later.
2. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour or so or until desired tenderness of the meat is achieved.
3. Remove everything from the pot but separate the meat from the sauce.
4. Heat up a bit of oil in the same pot. Sauté the garlic then the onion.
5. Add the meat pieces back in and fry for a couple of minutes. If you prefer a “crispier” adobo fry it a bit longer.
6. Add the sauce back in and simmer for another five minutes.
7. Serve with steaming hot jasmine rice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Minatamis na Kamote (Sweet Potato in Rich Syrup)

A bad kamote (sweet potato) experience as a youngster put me off this tuber for a long time. I would naturally substitute regular potato for any savoury recipe that calls for kamote.

I was re-introduced to it when my wife craved minatamis na kamote and asked me to prepare some. I willingly obliged, of course, consequentially resurrecting a dead and buried taste for this root crop.

I like my minatamis chewy and stretchy. By this I mean I want the kamote almost candy like. I prefer it to have a bit more bite resulting from engorging each piece of kamote in the rich syrup. This is not hard to achieve. NEVER ADD WATER!

The recipe is actually quite simple and needs only 3 ingredients. I use the purple skinned/white fleshed sweet potato variety. This strain of kamote, I find, is able to hold its shape well even after a long cooking process.

Minatamis na Kamote

1-2 kamote (sweet potato) cut into cubes
1-2 cups brown sugar (depending on how much syrup you want)
A bit of butter

1. In a thick based pan combine the kamote and the sugar. Use low to medium heat. There is no need to put any liquid as the water in the kamote should suffice to melt the sugar. Using water will boil the kamote and not result in the chewy texture that I’m after. Let this simmer for about an hour.
2. Add a bit of (real) butter at the end then turn the heat off. This is a personal preference. The butter turns the ordinary syrup into something like creamy caramel.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baon – Spaghetti Bolognese with Meatballs

Who doesn’t like spaghetti? We might not agree on what is the best but everyone knows about it making it quite a “universally accepted” dish to have for lunch at work.

Spaghetti is quite popular among Filipinos (albeit, a version catered for the sweet-toothed). Evidence of this is found in all the popular fast food places. I might be wrong but I think it is only in the Philippines where you’ll find spaghetti at McDonald’s and KFC.

Brioche & Coffee for breakfast

I usually don’t make my Bolognese sauce from scratch. Getting home close to 7pm just does not give me enough time to pick tomatoes from the garden and simmer my sauce for hours and still be alive at the end of it. I use bottled pasta sauce (que horror!) and just tweak it to suit my taste. To give the sauce more body I add homemade meat balls.

Brioche w/ Nutella

Easy Meatballs

500g beef mince
1 bread slice torn to pieces then soaked in milk
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 egg

1. Squeeze the excess milk out of the bread pieces.
2. Combine all the ingredients together
3. Form into your preferred size balls.
4. Cook half-way through by frying in olive oil.

Quick Bolognese Sauce

1 onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
1 carrot chopped finely
1 celery stick chopped finely
500g beef mince
1 jar Raguletto Romano Cheese Tomato Pasta Sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive Oil

1. Heat up some olive oil.
2. Sauté the onions until soft.
3. Add the garlic, carrots and celery.
4. Add the beef mince and cook until the meat changes colour.
5. Add the pasta sauce.
6. When the sauce starts bubbling add the meat balls. Simmer until the meat balls are thoroughly cooked. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste.
7. Serve with spaghetti or whatever pasta you prefer.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coffee at Work

One thing I don’t understand is why my workmates insist on getting coffee outside when at work we’ve been provided with first-rate espresso machines that produce decent coffee.

Coffee made using these machines are not inferior substitutes but rather equal if not better alternative. We’ve got at least five Delonghi Magnifica Espresso makers that allow you to make coffee that suits your taste. The machine uses whole beans (that it grinds itself) rather than ground coffee (plus for freshness!). You are able to regulate the strength of your coffee by adjusting the machine controls (unlike bought coffee which is normally set for one and all). The added bonus…it’s FREE!

I’ve got nothing against dairy (I consume milk in more delectable forms like cheese, cream, butter, yoghurt, ice cream, etc…) but I prefer soy milk in my coffee. This I buy myself but I do not mind it at all. There’s a plethora of choice in soy milk but the one that suits my taste best is the one in the photo.

To make my soy latte I heat up about ¾ of a cup of soy milk in the microwave (I could use the machine frother but this would take a while). I then set the machine at 2 shots of espresso and water mark 2. Press the button and voila, soy latte!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baon – Singapore Chicken Curry

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll probably realise how much I love curries. It’s easy to make, keeps for long, and very tasty. Also, the variety of curries available guarantees a lunch that is not going to be mundane.

Toasted Ham & Cheese Croissant and Soy Latte

The other bonus, it is an “acceptable” meal to have at work…even inside the office. Some of my workmates might not squeal with delight when their nostrils are hit with the aroma of curry but no one protests as it is not an unfamiliar scent.

One of the easiest curries to make would have to be Singapore Chicken Curry and this is what I brought to work today.

Singapore Chicken Curry

2-3 Desiree potatoes (one potato cut in 4)
½ a free range chicken cut up in large pieces
2-3 tablespoons Singapore curry paste (depending on how spicy you want it)
Water or coconut milk (if you prefer a creamier sauce)
Salt to taste

1. Marinate the chicken pieces in the curry paste for at least half an hour.
2. Fry the potatoes until golden brown.
3. Heat up a little bit of oil and sear the chicken pieces a few at a time. Set aside.
4. Add the chicken pieces back in the pan. But if you prefer a spicier curry, sauté some curry paste on the same pan used to sear the chicken then add the chicken pieces.
5. Add the desired amount of coconut milk or water.
6. Simmer until the chicken is cooked.
7. Add the potatoes.
8. Adjust the taste by adding salt or fish sauce.
9. Serve with roti and/or steamed rice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baon – Open Face Tuna Sandwich

A sandwich is not my idea of a meal. It could be a precursor to a meal but never the main event. I am always left unsatisfied even after gobbling down conspicuous amounts of these sliced bread concoctions.

But there are days when I’m left with no choice. I spent most of the weekend outside the house. There are therefore no yummy leftovers to speak of.

If you’ve been following this blog you know how much I can’t stand soggy bread. That is why I prefer my sandwiches open faced. The bread and the filling only have a few seconds to get acquainted before they get devoured.

For today I am having an open face tuna sandwich. I could have brought some cucumber to liven up this grey mass a little bit but I also did not have time to shop.

To make the tuna filling you basically drain a can of tuna, add a bit of mayonnaise and white pepper and mix together. I had it with lightly toasted wholemeal bread (only because we’ve run out of white).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Baon – Thai Green Chicken Curry

Now that I’ve decided to post about my packed lunches I make that extra effort to actually plate my food, nicely. I the past, like fellow blogger Julie (of Mama at Home to Two) I didn’t bother. I’ll heat up my lunch and eat it straight out of whatever csontainer I brought that day.

Also, to solve my “sauce-infused rice” issue I’ve decided to start bringing my lunch in at least two containers. The rice would always have its own. I’ll put it in a plastic bag if I have to.

Today’s lunch is Thai Green Curry Chicken. I also brought tuyong biya (as a challenge) which I like having with Thai curries. There you go Edik (of The World According to Melchizedik), I’ve done it! No more kaluoy!

Extra treats for today included leftover pancakes for breakfast and a pink muffin for morning tea as part of the Pink Ribbon Breakfast to help breast cancer research.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Baon – Leftover Steak Dinner

I like my rice plain. But one thing that is almost unavoidable when bringing baon to work is soaking it in whatever ulam I’ve brought. Unless I’ve got separate compartments in my baunan my rice is bound to be infused. The rice and the ulam will go together later on anyway so what am I fussing about? Well, I like to do it in my own terms…

For today, I’ve brought left over steak and vegies. My workmate also gave me some home made bola-bola siopao (Vietnamese style) which I had for breakfast.