Congee? Lugaw? Arroz Caldo?

When I was a kid, we regularly had congee… on most Sundays we had lunch at a Chinese dimsum restaurant and the main meal was either noodles or congee.  My favorite was Lean Pork and Century Egg Congee, sans the fresh egg!

Sadly that restaurant no longer exists.  But my favorite congee variant is pretty common and can be found virtually in any Chinese dimsum restaurant!

At the same time, we had lugaw too.  As I knew it, lugaw is a plain, no flavor, thick but at the same time watery rice that was usually served to me when I was not feeling well.  Needless to say, I do not have nice memories of lugaw!

And then, there is arroz caldo… rice gruel that is savory and deliciously seasoned – with ginger strips, chicken or beef tripe, spring onions, fried garlic!

What’s the difference?  Darned if I know!!!! all of them are rice porridge/gruel dishes.  As far as I am concerned, lugaw is straight-up rice and water and nothing else… great for calming an upset stomach or relieving a headache…

As for congee and/or arroz caldo, I feel they are the same just with different flavor profiles.

In any case, we all know that the secret is to keep stirring the pot, otherwise the rice sticks to the bottom and the dish would be ruined.

But I am too lazy to stand by the stove and stir, so I make mine in my magic cooker (thermal cooker)… which I truly believe is the easiest way to make congee.  It does, however, take a certain amount of time, so I always begin the night before.

8 cups chicken stock
1/2 to 3/4 cup rice

1 large thumb of ginger
1 small onion, whole, skin peeled off and ends sliced off
spring onions, sliced finely

800 grams chicken, cleaned, chopped into serving pieces
50 grams fresh enoki mushrooms
50 grams fresh shiitake mushrooms

salt and pepper, to taste
sesame oil, to taste
toasted garlic or fried garlic

How easy is this recipe?  Well, it is as easy as dumping everything (not including the condiments – salt, pepper, sesame oil, garlic) in the inner pot and letting it boil for 15 minutes before putting the inner pot into the magic cooker and letting it sit overnight.

The next morning, I just reheat the pot (the pot looks very much undone when it is first opened but a few minutes on the stove and the magic is seen!), give the dish several stirs and the congee is done.  What is left is to season, garnish and serve the dish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ginataang Mais at Sago

Coconut is abundant in our country. No wonder we have many dishes that use it – be it savory or sweet.  And as main dish, side dish or dessert, coconut-based dishes are a big favorite of mine!

An example of a dessert dish that is an absolute favorite is Ginataang Mais – literally corn cooked in coconut.  But this is a bit of a misnomer because sticky rice, or sweet glutinous rice is also a part of the dish.  In my case, though I veer from the mainstream and add sago – tapioca if I am not mistaken.  This sweet dessert contains all my favorites – coconut, sticky rice, corn, and sago!

My cast of characters –

4 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup muscovado, or to taste
1/2 cup sticky rice (sweet glutinous rice)
1-1/2 cups shredded corn, preferably fresh from white sticky corn
1 cup thick coconut cream
1/2 to 1 cup sago (tapioca)

Mix coconut milk and sugar together in a thick-bottomed saucepan.  Heat on medium fire.  Add the sticky rice.  When the mixture boils, stir the mixture so the rice does not stick to the bottom.  Reduce the heat to low-medium, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Cook about 15 to 20 minutes then add the corn kernels.  Cook until the rice is done (don’t overdo it through), add the coconut cream and sago.  Let simmer a few minutes.  Adjust sweetness, if desired.  Serve hot.

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.

 

Fudgy Brownies from Bravetart

It is very very fudgy and super chocolate-y, but I wonder why it doesn’t have the crispy crust on top?  Maybe because I used a glass baking dish instead of an anodized baking pan?

Well, I guess that’s it, especially after I read this article.  So now I am on a mad search for an anodized baking pan (or maybe a set…)

Anyway, I bought the book!  Which is rare these days.  I used to collect cookbooks and have hundreds but lately I only buy a book when I really really like it and even then I usually buy the digital version – there is something about being able to bring hundreds or thousands of cookbooks with you all the time.  I like that I can just open my tablet or Kindle and read anywhere, anytime!  Then again, I still like the feel of pages… so…

I bought the book!  I know I could have relied on the recipes that could be found online but after reading all the reviews and hearing all good things about the book… I resisted no further and clicked the “buy” button.

The recipe for brownies was the first I tried.  It’s rather complicated compared to my own brownie recipe (which doesn’t require a mixer even) but still worth it because it is delicious!  Of course hubby declares this brownie (and all others too) as “never as good as” mine but then again, he is my number 1 fan and a super loyalist! (hahaha)

The recipe can be found here.

(Now, where the heck can I find anodized pans????)

Suman sa Kamoteng Kahoy

I don’t have an English translation for this – when I searched (in Google) for what it is in English, most sites said it was a rice cake of sorts.  But this is not strictly true since there are many kinds of suman, and while most are made of rice and/or rice flour, not all suman is made of rice/rice flour…

This suman in particular.  This suman is made from kamoteng kahoy or cassava.

And this is the kind of suman that I loved as a child.  Unfortunately, in recent times, it has been gussied up so much (with chocolate, too much sweetener, etc.) that I can’t find my favorite childhood suman!!!  hmpf.

I want the plain, simple suman!

It is not difficult to make, really. BUT, BUT, what is complicated is processing the cassava.  I had always been warned to be careful because choosing the wrong kind of cassava or making a mistake in grating or processing it means danger – it is said to have a poisonous compound!

Then, wonder or wonders, I found frozen grated cassava in a specialty store!

And of course I set to work making my favorite!!!

1 kilo frozen, grated cassava, thawed
1 young coconut, grated (drink the water, it is healthy!!!)
muscovado sugar, depending on taste, 250grams to 450grams

banana leaves, passed through heat to soften

Just how easy is it?

Mix the thawed grated cassava with the coconut strips and sugar. Wrap in banana leaves. Steam about 30 minutes. Done.

Then enjoy!

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!

Variations…

Variations of the same theme – black chocolate cake, strawberry frosting…

It all began when I had a lot of strawberry frosting left over.  I forgot that my recipe was for a 2-layer, 9-inch cake, and I had made a really small one for the little girl…

I stored the leftover frosting in the fridge.

The next day, early evening, hubby suddenly announces that we’re going somewhere later that evening and it would be nice if I brought something like something I baked.

Problem?  I had an hour to make something!

Solution?  Something that would mix in a flash, bake in a hurry, and cool almost instantly… mini cupcakes.  And I didn’t have to worry about the frosting since I already had the strawberry frosting in the fridge!

The batter mixed in 5 minutes.  The mini cupcakes were done in another 10 minutes.  I shoved them in the fridge to cool them.

Meanwhile I started re-whipping the frosting.  Except that I ended up with a curdled mess.  Then I started panicking.

Of course I went to trusty ol’ google, and there were lots of suggestions but I had no time!  Then, I decided to get in touch with an old cooking/baking “buddy”, crossing my fingers that she was online.

She was and she had a solution.  But I had to be content  with transforming my strawberry frosting into strawberry buttercream…

She had me pour hot water into a bowl that could fit a plate of butter cubes about 75 grams.  Throw the hot water out and wipe the damp inside of the bowl – cover the plate of butter cubes.  Trick worked!  Butter was soft in less than a minute!

Beat the butter until light and fluffy and add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.  Beat some more.  Then gradually add the broken frosting – a tablespoon at a time… Voila!  Strawberry Buttercream!  A tad sweet than I preferred but it still works so –

And I still had a little strawberry buttercream left over!

The day after, hubby told me that it was the birthday of a friend and he requested a small cake to celebrate.

I baked another small chocolate cake – frosted it with truffle frosting and garnished it with what was left of the strawberry buttercream..

Until next year, when the little girl will surely ask for her favorite cake!

My next baking experiment?  Prune Chiffon Cake Roll (half roll, I mean).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I first made this about 5 years ago, during the Christmas season.  That time, one recipe made 2 5.5-inch cookie cakes that I gave away as Christmas gifts, or I make for friends who gave them away.  That time also, I would drizzle chocolate on top – it looked so much nicer.

But this time, I made a larger 8-inch cake and served it plain, without drizzled chocolate.  But I put in way more chocolate chips!!!

The recipe I based this cake on is the world famous Nestle TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

BUT…

(1.) I halved the recipe… AND reduced the sugar a tiny bit because –

(2.) I used 1-1/2 cups of bittersweet chips for half a recipe (instead of just 1 cup)

(3.)  I spread the cookie dough in a buttered, then papered, then buttered again 8-inch round layer pan.

(4.) I baked it at 325*F for about 22-25 minutes (might have been a bit longer because I wanted a browned top.)

The cookie cake was for hubby’s friend, whose birthday was last December.  We only celebrate now due to the hectic Christmas season giving us no time to do so…

Despite being delayed, hubby’s friends loved it!

Soy Sauce Fried Eggs, v2 and v3

Breakfast is not complete if it doesn’t have an egg, specifically fried.  I guess I got used to it because it was a staple when we were growing up.

Nowadays, hubby is served eggs for breakfast too.  On most days they’re plain fried eggs, or maybe scrambled eggs.  But once in a while, he gets a special treat… like today!

These fried eggs with soy sauce is a childhood favorite.  I had forgotten the original recipe and tried to re-create it a couple of years ago. My first attempt was not bad, but something was missing.

Sometime later I tried again, and it was better.  The resulting dish had more depth –

1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1/2 tablespoon mild vinegar
1/2 tablespoon mild honey
1 tablespoon water
dash of sesame oil

The procedure is uncomplicated — fry some eggs, sunny side up.  Place in serving platter (not a flat or shallow one but not a deep bowl).  Mix the sauce ingredients and heat slightly; pour over the eggs.  My variation here is that I added a “century egg”.

[side note:  I found the cookbook sometime after (which is as old as me – it was published the year I was born!) and  I was happy to discover that my recreation was pretty close.]

Hubby liked it, but when he heard there was honey, he asked if (next time) it was possible to skip it…

Fast forward to “next time”, i.e. now – I reformulated my sauce recipe (procedure is the same) …

1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soya sauce)
1/2 tablespoon sinamak (local spicy sap vinegar)
1 tablespoon water
dash of sesame oil
pinch of chili powder

Hubby prefers it this way.  I did explain that the soy sauce I used is a sweet one, but he was ok with it!

Enjoy!!!

 

Super Fudgy 5 Chocolate Red Wine Brownies

I am discovering that I like red wine.  It started with a gift of Sangria (a particular brand which I will not mention for now) earlier this year.  I know friend T says bottled sangria is an abomination (her homemade one is simply fantastic) but not knowing how to make sangria (and not wishing to start anyway), this specific bottled one is good enough for me.

Anyway, hubby and I recently discovered moscato red wine!  How we got a taste of it?  Well, someone gave us a Christmas gift of moscato red wine… it was actually a regift (we know because the giver neglected to check the wine bottle and there was an inscription that was addressed to – NOT US! hahahaha)

Anyway, I was still experimenting with brownie recipes… and I figured, why not go for broke?  Use whatever chocolate I have ( 1-unsweetened baking chocolate, 2-bittersweet chocolate, 3-cocoa, 4-dark choco chips, and 5-semisweet choco chips) and why not the red wine too?

So here they are!  They are the fudgiest, most chocolatiest brownies I have ever made!  That it had a crinkly, cracked top was a delicious bonus!