Braised Chicken Thighs & Eggs

This recipe is a winner! I know because the extremely picky kid ate everything on her plate!

The recipe –

about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
about half or whole tablespoon of whole black peppercorns

8 pieces chicken thighs

12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts, optional
boiled eggs, optional

4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 pieces star anise
2 pieces whole cloves
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes. Pat dry.

Sauté half the garlic, ginger and peppercorns. Add the chicken skin side down. Cook (don’t stir) chicken about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms on top of the chicken, and all the seasonings. Add enough water to just cover the chicken. When the sauce starts to simmer, turn the chicken over and lightly mix. Leave to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is done (don’t overcook). If the liquid evaporates too much, add some hot water. To add more flavor, use the mushroom liquid, by tablespoons.

Don’t forget the chestnust and eggs, if using – add them in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Make sure that the eggs get enough color from the sauce.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

B’s Banana Loaf

The little girl (though I think I should stop calling her little…) was so inspired by last weekend’s baking session that she wanted to bake her own banana loaf.  So I handed her the recipe and told her that she was on her own, except for the preheating of the oven and putting/removing the loaf pan in or out of the hot oven.

Of course I stayed nearby to keep an eye on her.  As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried – in fact, I was quite impressed!  Apparently all those times when she showed an interest while I was in the kitchen and/or helped out as I cooked and/or baked, she was really paying attention.

She did everything by herself.  She got out all the ingredients, measured and mixed.  I was amazed that she could handle the hand mixer – one hand holding the bowl, the other hand on the mixer…she was great!

I was only called to help when she realized the mixing bowl with the batter was too heavy for her to lift with a single while the other hand held the spatula to coax the batter into the loaf pan.  And of course, to put the loaf pan into the hot oven.

She watched the oven and checked the progress of her banana loaf every 5 to 10 minutes.  When the timer dinged, I got summoned to take the pan out of the oven and she tested finished product with a cake tester.  The tester did not come out quite clean so she told me – 5 more minutes mommy!

Her banana loaf was beautiful!  And super yummy!!!

At the end of the day, hubby was impressed as well.  And he loved the banana loaf!

I was not surprised that there were none left the next day… a bit disappointed perhaps – simply because I thought I could enjoy a slice with my favorite coffee for breakfast!!!

For the recipe, see the blog entry Baking Day with BFF.


Rowie’s Macaroons

As I said the other day, BFF came over last weekend for a baking session.  Originally she asked to make banana loaf and carrot loaf but I knew she liked macaroons a lot (and it was quite easy) so I snuck a batch in.

Here is the recipe –

1 egg white
1/4 cup condensed milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 cup dessicated coconut and/or coconut flakes, up to 1-1/4 cups

Just mix the ingredients together.  Using a small ice cream scoop, place mounds of the batter on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.  Bake about 10 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.  Cool completely.

The recipe makes about 18 to 20 pieces.



Baking Day with BFF

I always have a great time with BFF.  Today was no different, but what’s special is that today we… yes, WE, were baking!

But since BFF is a beginner and she wants something easy and doable, I gave her an easy, versatile recipe for a basic loaf base that can be made into several kinds.  For today it was banana chocolate chip loaf and carrot walnut loaf.

The recipe for the base –

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup neutral cooking oil or melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

First, preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease, line and re-grease a loaf pan (1 8×4 or 2 mini loaf pans – we used the 8×4 for the carrot walnut loaf and the 2 smaller loaf pans for the banana choco chip loaf).  Get everything ready – tools, bowls, ingredients…

We tackled 2 ways of mixing the batter – one bowl, dump style and creaming.

For the one bowl, dump style – Mix all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and add the liquid ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  The batter will look like cookie dough.

For the creaming method – Stir the dry ingredients (except sugar) together; set aside.  Beat the oil/butter with the sugar for a couple of minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla; mix well.

Then add your main components –

for banana choco chip cake, mix in 2 to 3 mashed, over-ripe bananas.  Fold in 1/3 to 1/2 cup chocolate chips (we overdid it with the chips… it was a tad too much.  1/3 cup is reasonable. 1/2 cup is pushing it… but the 2/3 cup we used – well, it was abusive!!! *smile*)

for carrot walnut loaf, mix in 1 cup shredded carrot.  Fold in 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped (toasted) walnuts.  (sorry I forgot to take a picture!!!)

Bake the larger loaf about 45 to 55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Rotate the pan midway; cover with foil if the top gets too browned.  Bake the smaller loaves about 30 minutes or so.

Leave in the pan for about 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding and letting it cool on a rack completely.

(a bit of a lesson here… for some crazy reason I decided not to use greaseproof paper to line the pan – maybe because my smaller loaf pans were non-stick?  bad idea. though!  It is really easier and more convenient with greaseproof paper!!! our banana cake got a bit stuck and we had a crazy time trying to get it out.)

Anyway… for other variations –

butter loaf – use butter instead of oil.  Add 1/2 cup milk.  Increase vanilla to 1/2 tablespoon.  Optional but recommended – add 1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange extract.

chocolate loaf –  Add 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (sifted) to the dry ingredients, and 1/2 cup milk to the wet ingredients.  Optional but delicious – add 1/3 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

cocomia loaf – use coconut oil, if desired (but optional), Add 1/2 cup coconut cream (coconut milk is ok too), and 1/2 cup desiccated coconut.  Fold in 1/3 cup coarsely chopped macadamias (lightly toasted) or sprinkle the macadamias on top of the batter (press lightly).

We had a great time (of course we chatted all the while…) but what I am happy about is that BFF did everything… I only offered guidance!

My proud moment?  I was going to show BFF how to fold the choco chips into the batter when B volunteered to demonstrate.  B folded the chips into the batter perfectly!!!  wooo hooooo!  I am ssoooooo happy that not only was she paying attention when we baked together, she actually remembered to do it right!  (super proud momma here!)

PS – she also made macaroons but more on that in the next post…




Cheese Pimiento (Salty version)

This is one of my favorite sandwich spreads.  It has always been so since I was a little kid.  Of course when I was a kid, our pimiento came from a bottle we bought from the supermarket.  But in the my teens, my mother got interested in cooking and baking, and she started making her own sandwich spreads, one of which was cheese pimiento.

She experimented… A LOT!  There were cooked ones, uncooked ones, buttery ones, cheesy ones, sweet ones, salty ones, and everything in between… we like some, and absolutely hated the others.

I decided to experiment on my own.  I knew what I did not like.  I did not like the sweet ones, nor the cooked ones or buttery ones.

I wanted a soft, cheesy, chunky mix.

My final recipe is an abomination of my mother’s favorite recipe…  abomination because I removed the butter and condensed milk (coz, those are what I didn’t like!)

250 grams cheese, grated
1/4 cup smooth ricotta cheese
mayonnaise, about 1/4 cup
200 grams pimientos, diced

Since this is an uncooked spread, it goes without saying that the ingredients (their brand) should be those whose taste you really like.  For example, the choice of cheese – the most common is cheddar but there are many kinds of cheddar.  Personally I like a salty, slightly sweet cheddar – the ones specifically adapted to our cultural taste, so I use a local processed cheese product which would probably have cheese aficionados scream in horror.  But hey, that is what my tongue likes.  Otherwise, I use gouda.  For the ricotta, I also use a local brand – with a really smooth velvety texture.  For the mayonnaise I always go for Hellman’s even if it means spending more and looking and searching for it (it is not common on our grocery shelves).  For the pimientos, since I am lazy, I just get a jar off the grocery shelves!

Stir the ricotta and mayonnaise together.  Add the cheese and pimientos, mix until combined.  Add more mayonnaise if desired.  Season with salt, pepper and/or chili flakes, to taste, but it is optional.  In my case, since the cheese I use is salty, I don’t need to add other seasoning.

I sent some over to my mom and she loved it!  The tub did not survive to see the next day… (hahahaha!)



Buttermilk Coffeecake

I was able to find buttermilk last weekend. I dug up my list of to-bake recipes using buttermilk and set about choosing which recipe to make first.

Then, my brother told me that he would drop by and make me a cup of “special” coffee. “Special” because I don’t know how to brew it (it requires special equipment) but he does and he would even bring the “special” equipment over.

And before he puts down the phone, he says – I bring the coffee, you provide the cake to go with it.

Ha. This made my choice easier. Cake to accompany coffee? Coffeecake. Boom!

Now, the usual coffeecake has streusel on top. But I read somewhere that putting streusel in the middle of the cake makes it even more special, so of course that’s what I did!

For the cake:

1 1/8 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

For the streusel topping:

1/3 butter, cold, cubed
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

First make the streusel. Mix everything – by hand (literally) or using 2 knives or a pastry blender, or by processing in a good processor. Just don’t overmix. Set aside. I leave mine in the fridge while I prepare to mix the cake.

Preheat the oven to 325*F. Line the bottom of a 7 x 3-inch round cake pan.

Stir the dry ingredients together; set aside. Beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg; mix, then add the egg white and mix again. Add the vanilla. Stir in a third of the flour mixture then add half of the buttermilk. Stir in another third of the flour then add the remaining half of buttermilk. Stir in the last third of flour. Mix until just combined.

Spread half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle a third of the streusel on top of the batter. (I sprinkled a tablespoon of mini chocolate chips as well.). Be careful and leave the edges without streusel. Scrape the remaining batter into the pan and sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top (might as well add 2 tablespoons of mini chocolate chips to make it consistent…

Bake for about 40 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Enjoy with great coffee! Brother E and I had our cake with single-origin Bukidnon coffee.

Nancy Drew Blondies

While I love (real) cookbooks, there is something to be said about hundreds (or even thousands) of (e)cookbooks in a handy-dandy Kindle!  Which is where I have my copy of Hand Made Baking…

Considering I have loads of cookbooks, it is not surprising that I have not baked from each and every one of them.  (It would be surprising if I had…) But once in a while, I come across something I find interesting… very interesting…

i just have to make it… so…

Even if my age will show, I will admit that as a child, I went through the whole series of Nancy Drew (they were in that famous yellow-colored hard-bound books) and the blondies ARE pretty popular!

As usual, I made some minor adjustments – like I reduced the sugar ever so slightly, then I used 2 kinds of chocolate chips but skipped the white chips, using instead butterscotch chips. And since walnuts are way too expensive here, I used the local cashews… and for this batch, doubled the recipe.

170 grams butter
350 grams muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large cold eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 cup each bittersweet and dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup broken-up cashews

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line an 10×12-in baking pan with greaseproof paper, leave an overhang on all sides.

Melt the butter over low heat; remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt.  Mix until smooth.  Beat in the eggs.  Add the flour, chips and nuts all at once.  Stir until just combined.  Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake about 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan before cutting into serving pieces.

Scallops and Peppers

This is fast and easy dish, and it IS delicious!

Just how easy is it?  Well, it’s as simple as throwing sliced bell peppers (and some sliced onions) in the hot wok and then throwing in the scallops.  All that’s left is splashing in some rice wine, salt and pepper.  That’s it!

It is ready in… 15? 20? minutes!