In Someone Else’s Kitchen, 4 of 4

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, that is.

This is a crowd pleaser, which is to say that I have never met anyone who did not like it!  But the best thing about this recipe is how forgiving it is.  I have made it with broth, milk, half-and-half, cream… heck, I have even used water!

In this particular case, it was the perfect dish to make – even without basic tools, you can wing it. Really!  (Since I was in someone else’s kitchen and I was too shy to ask where the measuring cups and spoons were, I really did wing it!)

8 to 9 medium potatoes, sliced very thinly (you can peel them, or not, just make sure they’re scrubbed clean!)
a couple of fistfuls of shredded mixed cheese (I just bought a pack of pizza cheese and did not really measure)
butter
200 ml pack of half-and-half
a splash of milk (I just “stole” some from the fridge)
salt and pepper, to taste (or a couple of large pinches of rotisserie chicken spice)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Butter a baking dish (for this project, an aluminum disposable panmine is about 6 by 8 inches.  Arrange half the sliced potatoes in the pan, sprinkle the shredded cheese all over.  Top with the remaining half of potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper or spice.  Top with more cheese.  Pour the half-n-half and milk over the dish.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are done.  Cover with foil if the top gets too browned.  Serve while hot.

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Roast Chicken over Scalloped Potatoes

My little electric oven is such a treasure!  While my gas-fired baby oven is my ultimate favorite (after all I have been baking with it for more than 3 decades – so now you know how old I must be!), my little electric is really more convenient since there’s usually just 4 or 5 of us.  It is just a bit larger than a toaster oven (but yes, it is a fully functioning oven, with rotisserie too!). The largest sized pan that can fit in it is a 9-inch square and even that is a bit pushing it.

Still, it is absolutely perfect for half a batch of cake, 6 cupcakes, a regular brownie or a dozen cookies or so. And for meals? It is just right! A whole chicken with the rotisserie function (but no, a turkey or a super jumbo chicken won’t fit) or half a chicken in a baking pan.

Take this roast chicken meal… quick and easy, and best of all, tasty!

6 pieces chicken legs, cleaned and patted dry
salt and pepper, to taste

5 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
1/2 cup shredded mixed cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan mix)
butter
1/4 cup 35% whipping cream
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Make slits on the chicken legs.  Rub the chicken legs with salt and pepper (I like using sea salt), place some between the skin and meat as well.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 375F.

Butter a baking dish (mine is about 6 by 8 inches.  Arrange half the sliced potatoes in the pan, sprinkle the shredded cheese all over.  Top with the remaining half of potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour the cream and milk over the potatoes.

Arrange the chicken legs over the potatoes.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is done, at 165/170F internal temperature.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Calamansi-Ricotta-Pistachio Cupcakes

We had a bumper crop of calamansi… and I was running out of ideas where to use them!

So… cupcakes…

I was planning to make plain calamansi muffins, but got carried away trying to find a recipe…

In the end, what I did was to use my (super-secret) vanilla cupcake recipe and swap out part of the liquid to ricotta and added 3 tablespoons of pure calamansi juice.  (the cupcake itself, though, I think is a bit lacking in calamansi flavor)

Then to amp up the (super mild) calamansi flavor, I added calamansi syrup and crushed pistachios on top.

The recipe made more than expected – 6 cupcakes, 12 mini cupcakes, and 1 mini loaf!

For the Boys…

Some of hubby’s friends come to the house regularly (we refer to them fondly as “the boys”) and I like feeding them!

The last time they were here, I served them “Make-your-own-pita” sandwiches.  I had originally planned on curried chicken as a filling but at the last minute, having discovered that *someone* used up my curry blend, I had to find something else… that’s when I saw the bottle of (faux) Caesar Dressing that I had made a couple of days ago.  So instead of curried chicken to be stuffed in the pita bread, it became Chicken Caesar!

It was a great hit!

My Quick (Faux) Caesar Dressing, and Fried Kesong Puti

I recently had a taste of fried kesong puti and I loved it!  (which is surprising because I am not a fan of kesong puti.)  So long story short, I wanted to make a salad with fried kesong puti… and since I did not want a vinaigrette this time, I had to fall back on my faux Caesar Dressing…

1 small tin of anchovies
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup good quality mayonnaise
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced

milk, to thin the dressing if necessary

The first thing to do is to heat the olive oil with the anchovies until the anchovies melt into the oil.  Set aside to cool.

Mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard and garlic together.  Slowly add the cooled anchovy-oil mixture and beat well.  Adjust the seasonings as desired.  If the dressing is too thick, thin with a little milk.

For the fried kesong puti, slice the kesong puti into large cubes.  Roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in panko (Japanese bread crumbs).  Pan fry (on all sides to even out the color).

Serve the fried kesong puti over mixed salad greens, sliced tomatoes, ham, grapes, etc. and dress with the (faux) Caesar’s dressing.

 

Salad with Dayap-Muscovado Vinaigrette

My dayap plants have been busy… but what to do with a lot of limes?

Well, I got the zest and froze them so that I could have some to use in the future…

But as for the juice?  Well, one can only take so much lime juice (or its variations) so I used some to make Dayap-Muscovado Vinaigrette!

In a shaker, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 1 to 2 limes, 1- 2 tablespoons muscovado, freshly ground black and white peppercorns, and 1 to 2 large pinches of pink sea salt (vary the proportion according to your individual taste).  Seal the container and shake, shake, shake!

Pour over salad greens and enjoy!

 

Trail Mix for Hubby

Personally I am not a fan of trail mix.  I much prefer a snack of simply nuts, or maybe a mixture of nuts, but hubby likes dried fruit and seeds, and maybe just a bit of nuts, especially cashews that good friend H gave us.

I usually make trail mix with as many kinds of dried fruit as I can find, then add sunflower seeds and pine nuts.  If I am eating some, then I add roasted peanuts and cashews, otherwise, it’s toasted cashews and chocolate chips.

The dried fruit in this one – banana chips, raisins, sultanas, dried papaya, dried pineapple, coconut chips, apricots, and prunes.  For the seeds and nuts I used honey-roasted sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts, roasted cashews and toasted cashews.  I skipped the chocolate chips because I felt like the trail mix was rich enough.

Hubby declared this a winner!

 

4 Cheese Frittata

I have always been a fan of eggs.  Even when it had a bad rep (in the 90s and early  2000s) I always had an egg (sometimes even 2) for breakfast.  In fact, one my fondest memories is of me and my brother J, vying to be first to use the frying pan for breakfast.  We would have 2 eggs each, cooked sunny side up.  But while I liked mine with a soft white and a less runny yolk, my brother liked crispy-edged whites with runny yolks.  In either case, we placed our respective eggs on top of a (huge, as it seemed then) mound of rice after which we heaped tomato ketchup on top and mixed everything into a red, messy, gooey breakfast!

To this day, I still eat an egg with my breakfast.  It is mostly the same soft-edged white with a cooked yolk, with a sprinkling of fresh ground pink salt and black pepper.  Once in a while though, I vary the manner of cooking of the egg.  This is one of my favorite variations… hubby is a fan as well.

1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

100 grams lean ground pork
1 pinch each sea salt, ground black pepper and Italian spice

4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 pinch each of sea salt, ground pepper and Italian spice

1 medium tomato, cleaned and sliced
a handful of kangkong leaves, cleaned and torn into bits

2 tablespoons grated parmesan
2 slices sandwich cheese (the melty kind)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

The very thing I do (after preparing all the ingredients) is to preheat the oven, and preheat a 6 or 7-inch cast iron pan.  The one I have is not a frying pan per se, but what is referred to as an eared pan.  Instead of a long handle on one side, the pan has 2 “ears” or handles, much like a casserole.  I use an eared cast iron pan because it is one that fits in my tiny electric oven.

Anyway, as both the oven and pan is heating up, I prepare everything…. mix the spices and the ground pork, then beat the eggs and the spices together…

As soon as the cast iron pan is hot, I sauté the onions and garlic, followed by the ground pork.  When the meat has given up most of its liquid, pour in the beaten eggs.  Stir lightly so that the egg goes underneath.  Scatter the sliced tomatoes and torn leaves, press down slightly.

Sprinkle with the grated parmesan.  Top with the sandwich cheese.  Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top.

Place the pan in the preheated 375*F oven and bake about 18 minutes, until the egg is fully cooked and the top is lightly browned.

Serve and enjoy hot!

 

Japanese Cucumber and Crabstick Salad with Creamy Sesame Dressing

Cucumbers have a special place in my heart.

I remember that it was a favorite diet food – cucumber salad – a couple of decades ago when we were college students. As college bud S says, back in those days we thought we were fat, but now we realize we may have been chunky but we were (definitely) not fat.

Anyway, I was killing time at the supermarket sometime ago and I saw organic Japanese cucumbers! I immediately thought of hubby and how much he liked the Japanese cucumbers we had a couple of weeks ago at a Japanese restaurant. I also remember how much I liked cucumbers and suddenly I had a craving for it.  So of course, I bought some.

My mom told me that cucumbers needed preparation otherwise it would exude water and ruin the dish. I assume that the preparation applied to all cucumbers, even the Japanese ones, so after peeling strips of skin then slicing the cucumbers into not-so-thin slices, I tossed them with sea salt. The salted cucumbers sat for about 10 minutes (after which a significant amount of liquid came out), after which they are rinsed and then drained for another 10 minutes.  Pat the cucumber  pieces dry with (a lot of) kitchen towels!  Chill in the refrigerator while making preparations for the rest of the ingredients for the salad,

Recipe:

3 pieces Japanese cucumbers
Sea salt
7 pieces crab sticks (optional)

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons roasted white sesame seeds
2 to 3 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ tablespoon sugar
½ to 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Prepare the cucumbers as mentioned earlier.  Mix the dressing ingredients together then toss with cucumbers.

A side note here – I find that too much dressing tends to overpower the cucumbers and then I feel the salad becomes distasteful.  So I add the dressing gradually. And I tend to usually have leftover dressing.

As far as I am concerned, I am perfectly happy with the salad as is.

But hubby likes crabsticks and asked if we had any. We had about 7 pieces left, so I added them to the salad, and added some dressing as well. Turns out my dressing was just enough with the crabsticks added.

In any case, the addition of the crabsticks served to enhance the salad.  The salad is delicious either way

 

 

Corndog!!!

Mine though, is faux!  Faux because I have no cornmeal…

But the little girl loves corndogs.  She likes the one at the weekend market most of all.  She also thinks (for now anyway) that I am the world’s greatest and ablest cook, and as such, can do pretty much anything and everything in the kitchen.  So (obviously) she thought I could make better better corndogs!

Hmmm, well, I told her (truthfully) that I don’t know if I could make better ones, but we (and I do mean the little girl and I) could try!

My biggest issue, like I said previously, was the cornmeal… I found some in our favorite supermarket but… it was so darned expensive!  And I only needed a cup!!!  So, never mind… I had to figure out what else I could use.  It was the little girl who gave me the idea when she said that the corndog was her favorite because it combined the hotdog and the pancake!  Hmmm, so then I decided to use a pancake recipe for the batter covering the hotdog!

My next concern was the amount of oil it would need!  I decided to go the same way as the mini doughnut last week and use the mini hotdogs and the smallest saucepan I could find.

My last question was the recipe for the pancake… I couldn’t use my regular recipe because it’s a thin batter.  I did remember that there was another recipe that I tried and it was a thick one…

Mix together:

2-1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 medium eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

It worked like a charm, although I had to double dip and fry the corndogs since the little girl complained about the first batch being too thin (“Mommy, why is this not taba (fat)?”)

For this project though, the little girl mixed the batter and dipped the hotdogs but refused to go near the hot oil (she saw the oil sizzling and was afraid it would burn her…)

In any case, the project was a huge success, with the little girl and her playmate M declaring:  I want some more please!  And that was after each of them ate 3 pieces already!