Mommy’s Marinara

My mother is a recipe hoarder.  Me?  I definitely got it from her… I also hoard recipes, cookbooks, etc. etc.  These days my cooking/baking list grows even longer since I’ve added her recipes to mine!

There is one recipe, however, that is NOT written anywhere.

A long time ago (when I was just past my teenage years, in fact), I went through a stage where I abhorred meat sauce for pasta.  I was lamenting about it that particular day when she said (paraphrasing here) “what’s your problem? it is so easy to make simple spaghetti sauce!”

She then goes on and dictates “the recipe” (again, paraphrasing here)-

Sauté 4 cloves garlic (smashed) and 1 small onion (minced).  Add a pinch of chili flakes, then pour a (big) can of stewed whole tomatoes in the pot.  Add a fistful of Italian seasoning and season to taste (large pinches of sugar, salt and pepper).  Lightly crush the tomatoes.  Simmer 15 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use the time to cook the pasta, 1 medium pack (which later I found out to be 500grams spaghetti, more or less).  In the last few minutes of simmering the sauce, throw a fistful of grated parmesan in the pot.  Mix.  Done.

Then she continues to say that it is easy to vary and add flavor – add whatever it is before the tomatoes…

for meat sauce, stir fry ground meat (anywhere from 250 grams to 500 grams), add the tomatoes when the meat is browned

for veggie sauce, add diced peppers or pimientos, sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, carrots, asparagus, eggplant, etc.  (if you want the veggies to stay crunchy, add in the last 10 minutes of simmering)

for seafood, add 1 small of anchovies and seafood as desired (just don’t over-do it!)

Later on, someone told me that this was basic marinara sauce.

I’ve used this formula for years!  And hubby loves it!  Any which way I make it! And I’ve made it with shrimps, meat, veggies, clams, mussels, crab, even with canned sardines!!!

But my absolute favorite is this mixed seafood!

 

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Lemon Kiwi Loaf

It was raining like mad, and the flood waters outside the gate have been steadily rising.  When I looked a few minutes ago, I saw some men wading in the flood waters.  The water was almost knee level.

Some of the neighbors, the ones on lower ground, had already left their houses and were huddled under the roof of the sari sari store.  I actually asked hubby if they would like to seek shelter inside our house.  A-te J gave them some shirts because they were soaked.

I am still nervous about flooding, but somehow less now than before.  Still, I always try to distract myself.

Enter this Lemon Kiwi Loaf!!!

Still a variation of the master loaf recipe that I shared with brother E… but with something special…

Kiwis are readily available now in the supermarkets and I had some stuck in the fridge for a while.  So I decided to make kiwi filling and then thought that I could make a loaf out of it…

to make the kiwi filling –

1 cup diced kiwis (about 4 to 5 kiwis, depending on the size)
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar (I actually used 3 because the kiwis were quite tart)
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (keep the zest for the loaf!)
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Place the diced kiwis, sugar, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan; heat over low heat until sugar melts (stir gently). Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with the remaining 2 tablespoons water.

Using a slotted spoon, take out half of the diced kiwis and leave as much liquid as possible in the saucepan. Using an immersion blender, whiz the kiwi mixture in the sauce pan until smooth. Return the removed diced kiwis back in the pan and continue heating until softly boiling. Give the cornstarch water a quick stir then pour into the kiwi mixture. Stir gently until thick. Remove from heat and cool.

I reserved half cup of the homemade filling for the loaf.  I set aside the excess to make kiwi glaze/syrup to garnish the loaf.

To make the loaf, I used the master loaf, adding the lemon zest to the dry ingredients and reducing the sugar by a third (because the filling already has sugar).  When I mixed everything together, however, I felt that the batter was more like dough so I added 1/4 cup of milk, until I felt the consistency was better…

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup homemade kiwi filling

Stir the dry ingredients together.  Add the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in the kiwi filling.

Bake at 325*F for about 40 minutes, taking care that the top does not brown too much (I got distracted and my loaf has an almost blackened top!)

To make glaze, I used the excess kiwi filling.  It went back into the pot with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water (use your best judgement when adding water to thin the filling, too much could ruin it).  Heat the mixture until the sugar melts, the filling should be less thick and more syrupy in texture.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum.  Brush the top and sides of the loaf.  If you still have extra, drizzle over slices before serving!

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

Chewy Cheddar Puffs

We recently had a new addition to our family – hubby gave me a new furbaby!  Coincidentally, he shares the same birthday as the kid, although of course, the kid is waaaayyy older…

Nico

Anyway, everyone knows I cook for my family and that includes our furbabies!  We regularly cook their main meals – a low fat, no salt dish made of ground chicken, liver, several kinds of vegetables, oatmeal and usually wheatgerm.  Occasionally I would make bake treats, depending on what the particular flavor the furbabies like at that specific moment.  For this one, I found this treat

As usual I varied the recipe a bit, mainly because (1) our weather is more humid, more so these days, and (2) the furbabies really, really love cheese, the more the happier they are!

And to make things easier for me (as in less stuff to wash), I just used 1/2 cup measure –

1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
1/2 cup water, at a maximum
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced cheddar cheese

Mix the flours together, add egg.  Gradually add the water (it is possible that not all will be used, depending on the humidity levels.  Mix in the cheese.  The texture of the batter should be stiff, like cookie dough.

Drop half teaspoonfuls on a greased, lined, re-greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375*F, for about 14 to 18 minutes, until done but take care not to burn the treats.  Let cool completely.

I got about 40 pieces of treats.  But guess what?  It didn’t last long!!!

Oreo Brownies

The kid had invited a playmate for a playdate.  As usual, she asked me to make snacks.  This particular instance, she asked for brownies with Oreo cookies.  When I asked why, she replied that it was because she wanted brownies and her playmate wanted Oreo cookies.  Win-win, right?

Well, as may be seen from the picture, it turns out that I had underestimated the number of cookies that the pack contained!  I was sure that it was enough, I had even thought that there would be leftover cookies!

Anyway, it was easy to make – just pick your favorite brownie recipe (here is mine) and skip all the mix-ins.  After pouring the batter into the pan, press Oreo cookies on top of the brownie batter (just make sure you have enough cookies to  cover the whole top, I promise it will look waaaayyyy better than this one that I made)

As always, the best of cooking and baking for the kid, she always gushes that her “mommy makes the BEST stuff”!

(big, big grin!)

Chicken Chilindron

Aside from cookbooks, I also collect cooking magazines… but real books and magazines are bulky!  So sometime ago, I began subscribing to electronic versions…

It is in one of these electronic subscriptions that I saw this recipe by Jamie Oliver… I largely followed the recipe except for skipping the olives, using chicken drumsticks, substituting a couple of ingredients, as well as halving the recipe –

about 700g chicken drumsticks, cleaned, rinsed, pat dry
sea salt and pepper

2 pieces Italian garlic sausages, sliced

1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
8 medium tomatoes, skins removed, sliced into halves or quarters
1 small can sliced pimientos, drained
splash of rice wine
200 ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
a pinch of saffron, steeped in a little hot water
zest from half a lemon
2 anchovy fillets

Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil for a few minutes.  Remove and transfer to a plate.

In the same, stir fry the sausage slices until cooked.  Remove and transfer to the same plate as the chicken.

In the same pan, on low-medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic, until fragrant and soft, taking care not to let them get burned.  Splash the pan with a bit of rice wine to deglaze then add the tomatoes and squish them (!), as well as the sliced pimientos (left them whole largely since they were not big pieces anyway).  Add the chicken stock and rosemary.

When the pan starts simmering/boiling, put back the chicken and sausages.  Cook on low-medium, uncovered, for about an hour, or until sauce is thickened.

After 30 to 40 minutes, add saffron and steeping liquid. Add the lemon zest and anchovies. Season with salt, if necessary (I added a large pinch of sea salt).

Serve hot, with rice!!!!

This stew is so delicious!  According to Jamie Oliver, this stew comes from Aragon in northeastern Spain, and it works with lamb, too.  But lamb is uncommon where I’m from but I think I will try it with pork!!!

Light Tropical Fruitcake

Brother E has been baking up a storm, using the master loaf recipe. He’s tried the ones I suggested and has even come up with a few of his own – avocado, honey and almond, banana-honey, squash… and he is thinking of some others such as salted caramel…

as for me, I thought of making it fruitcake… a white fruitcake.  Why fruitcake? and why white?

Well, since the fire that engulfed my mom’s recipes, I have been in a frenzy to find the copies that I took home with me a long time ago.  As I find them, I encode them (again) to save them… I came across a recipe for white fruitcake with the title “Cely’s White Fruitcake”.  I am presuming that it refers to her sister, my aunt, Cely.

Of course I have no permission to share that recipe but I thought I could adapt my master loaf recipe to make a white fruitcake.  And it was a success!

How did I do it?  Well, first I used butter instead of oil.  Then I substituted some of the sugar with honey.  I added cinnamon and a dried fruit mix which was soaked in my favorite rum!

The first thing to do – soak the fruits in rum… a good 3 hours before making the fruitcake, but preferably the night before.  A note on the fruits – I like a dried fruit mix instead of glazed fruits but it is the baker’s choice!  So you could use whatever fruits you like – mix dried fruits and glazed fruits… add some chopped nuts… like I said, baker’s choice!  (for this I used a tropical fruit mix – pineapple, papaya, coconut, mango…)

150g dried fruit mix (about 1 cup)
75g pitted dates, diced
3 to 4 tablespoons rum

For the fruitcake itself –

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Beat the butter and sugar together, add honey and vanilla. Mix well then add the egg. Beat a couple of minutes.

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
zest from 1 orange, optional
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add to butter-egg mix alternately with

¼ cup milk

Fold in the fruit mix.

Place in a greased and lined 7×3 loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 325*F oven for about 55 minutes. Tent with foil if the top gets too browned.

Brush the loaf with rum and more rum.

The loaf can be aged with rum (keep in fridge, wrapped in foil; brush with rum once or twice a week) or it can be enjoyed sooner – immediately, that is once it has cooled.  Frankly, hubby can be impatient so I cheat.  What do I do? I slice the loaf and brush the slices with rum before serving!

Yummm!

Reduced Sugar Oatmeal Chippers

It is no secret that my favorite cookies are Peanut Butter Cookies.  What is not so widely known is my next favorite – nope, still not Chocolate Chip Cookies – it’s oatmeal!  But not with raisins, or chocolate chips… I like my oatmeal cookies with dates!

But… for this baking project, I gave in to a (supposedly) win-win-win situation – win 1 for me – oatmeal, win 2 for the kid – chocolate chips, and win 3 for hubby – calorie reduced… so I went to my cookbook library and pulled out an old favorite cookbook –

bhg_cookie book

(seriously, I have a collection of BHG cookbooks!  I have at least 4 for cookies alone!)

and decided to use the recipe for Oatmeal Chippers…

oatmeal chippers recipe

with (as usual) some modifications.

To be honest, hubby and the kid were not impressed by the cookies.  They said that the cookies were bland, with a particular texture that they did NOT find appealing.

I shared some with BFF, who shared some with her officemates, and according to them, they were delicious!

So I choose to believe BFF!  hahahaha!

For the recipe –

I used a sugar-stevia baking mix (I found in the baking store), in place of the sugar.  Actually, the instructions on the packet directed using only half of the baking mix in place of the whole sugar amount.  I omitted the nuts (the kid and hubby prefer a no-nut cookie).  I also halved the recipe!

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter compound
6 tablespoons sugar-stevia (sugar substitute mix)
(original is 3/4 cup brown and white sugar mix)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine flour and baking soda.   Beat butter compound and sugar substitute together; add egg and vanilla.  Beat well.  Stir in flour, in 2 additions.  Fold in oats, then chocolate chips.

Using a 1-oz cookie scoop, drop cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated 375*F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned.  Cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The half recipe made around 30 cookies.

Next time I am going to try the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chip Cookies by Martha Stewart!

Steamed Chicken

The problem with my mom’s recipes is that they need decoding!

My mom writes her recipes in weird ways.  Most of the time, there are no instructions; instead there are groups of ingredients with a brief sentence at the end.

Like her recipe for steamed chicken… there are 3 groups of ingredients and a short sentence at the end – Steam for 10 minutes.

Hmmmmm….

Someone else would (probably) throw this recipe out the window but it’s a good thing that I know my mom (pretty) well and can speak her “language”…  As she explains to me, it is deliberate on her part so that her recipes remain her secret.  (As I mentioned before, she rarely shares her recipes!)  So, given her preference, I will not (well, I can not) share her recipe.  I can, however, share mine (even if it is based on hers, it is NOT the same…)

750 grams boneless chicken thighs, skin on, rinsed and dried with paper towels

Slice the chicken thighs into serving pieces (if the thighs are large, cut into 4). Mix together slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon EACH of sesame oil, oyster sauce, and light soya sauce, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon rice wine.  Marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile start boiling water in the steamer.

Prepare:

5 stalks of leeks, sliced at a diagonal, separate the white and green parts
ginger, slice into thick matchsticks
about 12 slices of lotus root, parboiled then drained
about 80 grams fresh black fungus (tenga ng daga), sliced into strips
re-hydrated banana blossoms, thick hard end/s removed

In a round Pyrex dish (a deep pie plate works), scatter the white parts of the leeks. Arrange the lotus root at the base of the pan.  Scatter the black fungus on top, then the banana blossoms.  Arrange the chicken thighs, skin side up, and stick the ginger pieces in between the chicken thighs.

When the water in the steamer boils, put the plate in.  Steam for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces); start counting minutes when the water reboils.

Before serving, garnish the top with the green part of the leeks.

Note – the dish has a delicate and mild taste, should you wish for a stronger flavor, adjust the seasonings as desired, or add slat and pepper, according to personal taste.

Three Crabs and Rice

The good news is I have more of my mom’s recipes that I thought.  The “bad” news?  I am becoming more compulsive in finding more…  And worse…  The more I find, the more I want to make, cook, and bake everything!

The first dish that I wanted to make was her Crab Rice… but as always, I want to do things my way!  So, while her dish is steamed for an hour in a steamer, mine is cooked in my rice cooker!!! I like the convenience of a dump-everything recipe.

I also varied the recipe somewhat… because I could not find live mud crabs, but I had crab meat from blue crabs, talangka (Asian shore crab) and soft shell crab!  Why, you may ask, do I have those???  Well… it seems that I bought them at one time or another and they kinda got stuck in freezer.  By “stuck” I mean it got relegated to the bottom and it only surfaced when the freezer broke and we had take everything out!

So, this dish is based on my mom’s recipe but it is uniquely mine too!

(Note – using 3 kinds of crabs is a bit complicated. The easier way to do it is to simply use 3 to 4 pieces of crab, live mud crabs to be specific.)

1-1/2 cup rice (I use “young” denorado variety)

100 to 150 grams liempo (pork belly strip), sliced into matchsticks, optional
6 pieces (small) soft-shell crabs, rinsed and patted dry
200 grams talangka, cleaned
1/4 to 1/2 cup crab meat
8 pieces dried black mushrooms, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid

several slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small violet/red onion, minced

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 to 2 tablespoons reserved mushroom soaking liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

3 cups cold water, more or less depending on the variety of rice used

flour for dredging soft shell crabs

leeks or spring onions for garnish

Place the cold water in the rice cooker pot.  Set aside for the meantime.

Saute half the ginger, garlic and onions.  Add the crab meat; stir lightly to break up the meat but not so much – leave the mix chunky.  Add the rice grains and stir lightly, just so the rice grains are coated in oil.  Pour this mixture in the rice cooker.  Put the rehydrated mushrooms in the rice cooker pot as well.

Saute the remaining ginger, garlic and onions.  Add the sliced pork belly and stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the talangka and seasonings.  Cook a couple of minutes then dump the mixture in the rice cooker.  Give a quick gentle stir to mix everything.  Switch on the rice cooker and cook.

Meanwhile, dredge the soft shell crabs in flour.  Then, fry it until it is cooked.  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside until the rice cooker finishes cooking.

When the rice is done, put the fried soft shell crabs on top.  Garnish with leeks then serve!

If using a single variety of crab,  get about 3 to 4 pieces of crab.  Parboil the already clean crabs until partially cooked.  Lift the crabs out, reserve the liquid left behind.  Leave one crab whole, and chop the rest into smaller pieces.  There will be more liquid coming from the crabs, save it as well.

Put everything in the rice cooker except the whole crab.  Don’t forget to put in the crab liquids.  Give a quick stir to mix everything up.  Switch on the rice cooker.

Halfway through, put the whole crab in.  Cover and continue cooking until done.

Garnish with leeks or spring onions and serve!

Note about the pork – go ahead and skip it.  I find that it interferes with the overall dish!

Final note – my mom’s recipe specifies glutinous rice but I had none and used our usual denorado instead.

E’s Baking Day, Pandesal…

E has been baking up a storm – of loaves!

But this time around he wanted to learn how to make pandesal.  Of course I was more than willing to oblige.

Pandesal is bread that we grew up with.  Back then it seemed that all the neighborhoods had a panaderia that churned out freshly baked pandesal throughout the day.  In our neighborhood, it was about 3 blocks away.  It was open 24 hours everyday and during the school year, we would buy pandesal at 5 o’clock in the mornng.  But when school was out, we would take our dogs for a walk around the neighborhood at midnight and head to the bakery!  Aside from pandesal, I would buy Spanish bread and ensaymada!

Pandesal, literally, means salted bread.  It is ironic, though, because pandesal is actually a bit sweet.

I couldn’t find a no-knead recipe for pandesal so I improvised by using the basic no-knead recipe I’ve using but I added sugar!  I also substituted part of the water with an egg.

It was a success!  At least for my half of the dough… as pandesal I mean…

When E realized that making the pandesal was more complicated than he thought, he decided that his half of the dough would be baked as a boule!

He did say that he found it a bit weird because it tasted like pandesal but did not look like it!

Anyway, going back to the recipe, it is basically the no knead bread from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” with sugar added and egg substituted for part of the liquid.  I halved the recipe, which makes about 20 to 24 pieces.  The beauty of it is, first of all, no knead!  Secondly, I can simply bake enough pandesal each day and store the dough in the fridge for the following days.

1-1/3 cups water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon melted shortening
7g instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine salt
3-1/4 cups bread flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
breadcrumbs

Mix everything together in a large container with a vent in the cover.  Leave the container at room temp for about 2 to 3 hours, until the dough rises and the top is flattened.  Store in the fridge overnight.

The following day, take out 1/3 or 1/2 of the dough with floured hands (cut with scissors).  Roll out and form a long cylinder.  Roll in breadcrumbs.  Slice the log into 8 or 12 pieces.  Arrange on a baking sheet that is oiled and sprinkled with breadcrumbs.  Leave to rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.  Meanwhile preheat oven to 400F.  Bake pandesal about 10 minutes.  To make sure bread is done, inner temperature should register 195F when tested with an instant thermometer.