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!)

 

 

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Homage to Tita Linda

My mother and I don’t have much in common, but one thing we share is our cooking/baking hobby and our love for kitchen gadgets and recipes!

But aside from my mother, there is Tita Linda.  She’s the mom of my college bud T.  From her I learned to make Snickerdoodles, which was my second-favorite cookie after Peanut Butter.  She shared not only recipes but life lessons and practical advice on how to live.  Oh, we all had mother issues but from her I learned that a good mother-daughter relationship is possible.

Sadly, she passed away sometime ago.  We miss her.

Today I pay homage to her, with this Tomato Salsa, the recipe of which (and its secret!) she unselfishly shared with me.

For you Tita!

Corn Fritters

I love corn. And while the sweet Japanese variety is delicious, I love the local (or native) white corn even better. Especially when it is fresh and perfectly cooked. Sometimes though, there’s way too much corn on the cob for us to consume. And when that happens, corn fritters are my favorite “recycled” food…

I’ve made corn fritters before.

But this particular batch is different because I used… yes, you guessed it… native corn kernels shredded from their cobs.

The recipe is from this book – I bought it as a gift for BFF but I liked it so much that I bought another one for myself!

The recipe is on this page, but can also be found online.

Two questions came up after I made these corn fritters.  First, why use another recipe when I already had one?  And, second, why buy the book when the recipe can be found online?

Well, to answer the first question… I like trying new recipes… and the picture looked a lot better than what I used to make so why not? And I am glad I did because this batch of fritters looked better than my old ones! Although I did not faithfully follow the recipe (read on for what I did).

As for the second question… the answer is simple. I like books. So even with the ease and convenience of e-books, and even if I have virtually run out of bookshelf space, I will buy a book if it is worth it (and there are A LOT of books that are worth it!)

Anyway, for the changes that I did… basically I omitted the lime juice (hubby is not a fan of the sour taste) and substituted regular flour for the cornmeal (I didn’t have cornmeal!).  Also, instead of cayenne pepper, I used ground black pepper (at least about 1/2 teaspoon!)

Truth is, I like this fritter recipe better than my original one. So this one gets a permanent slot in my “book”! (pun intended) 🙂

Creamy Anchovy Vinaigrette

Ever since I learned how easy it was to make vinaigrette, I’d been experimenting with all sorts of combinations.

The basic elements of a vinaigrette are (1) the sour, (2) the salty, (3) the oily [olive oil], and at times, (4) the sweet, and/or (5) the creamy [if preferred].  Add spices as desired (seasonings like herbs, or flavor profiles like bacon, etc.)

For this salad – mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, feta and double-cream cheese, I decided to use up the leftover anchovies in the fridge.

In a shaker, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons calamansi juice, about a tablespoon of anchovies, mashed, a large pinch of sugar, and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise.  Shake, shake, shake then pour over the salad!

 

Fruit Salad ala Tita Linda

The fruit salad recipe that we are used to is the one with cream and fruit cocktail, or maybe even buko (coconut) and condensed milk.  Some years ago, however, I discovered one that was perfect for hubby, who loves fresh fruits!

A very special lady, Tita Linda, shared her recipe with me several Christmases ago.  It was quite easy – just cube fresh fruits of your choice and toss them in a fruit salad bowl.  Squeeze lemon or calamansi juice and sprinkle some sugar (or sugar substitute) to taste and toss until mixed.  Serve chilled.  Viola!  Great dessert.

Last night, we had our “traditional” Noche Buena… crab sotanghon, Mutsarap chicken, chopsuey… and dessert – Fruit Salad ala Tita Linda.

For this salad, I used 2 apples, 1/2 of a cantaloupe, 1/2 a papaya, a bunch of black grapes (seedless type), 1/4 of a watermelon, kiwis, 1 large Sunkist orange, 1/2 a (sourish) pineapple, and 2 bananas.  I mixed orange juice and calamansi for the “dressing”.

Sadly, Tita Linda passed away last year.  We miss her so and remember her this Christmas through her fruit salad.

 

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.

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.