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!

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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!

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.

Maruya (Banana Fritters)

There are days when I don’t think of my late father at all, but once in a while, his memory just invades my brain…

His death day is coming up and I just remembered one of his favorite foods – maruya, or banana fritters.  When I was a child, we made maruya by estimating the ingredients.  We didn’t have measuring cups or spoons then.  We went by the texture, more or less.

These days I like having measurements because I like that B can follow the recipe!

about 5 saba bananas, sliced diagonally
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, egg and milk together.  Add the banana slices.  Using 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure, pour mixture into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle some vanilla sugar on top.

Best served warm/hot.

Just a note – traditionally the bananas are sliced lengthwise and shaped into a fan shape, but I like mine in more manageable pieces so I sliced my saba bananas diagonally.

 

Adobong Manok at Atay

Chicken and Liver Adobo

My family prefers the pork variety of adobo to the chicken variety. But hubby and B’s lola like liver; and liver cooked adobo-style is especially tasty for them. So, since the other family members do not particularly care for liver, I mix in chicken so that everyone can eat! Win-win, right?

My recipe for Chicken and Liver Adobo is a bit different from our favorite pork adobo, although the basics are similar – adobo is adobo after all.

500 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
300 grams chicken liver (remove any other attached organs)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons sukang puti
1/2 cup chicken stock or plain water, or more as needed
Bay leaf

First thing to do is to mix the adobo sauce together – soy sauce, vinegar and half of the smashed garlic. Let it sit for a minutes while the chicken and liver are being cleaned. I remove the white fatty, slimy thingies from the chicken and slice each piece in half to form chunky pieces. Clean the liver as well and remove any slime, and other non-liver parts.

Marinate the liver in about 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce, and the chicken in the remainder of the sauce. Do not marinate together in the same bowl.

Meanwhile, heat some canola oil in a pan. Flash fry the liver but do not cook all the way through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add oil in the pan, if needed. Sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add the peppercorns. Add the chicken pieces (don’t pour in the marinade yet). Stir fry a couple of minutes, until the surface of the chicken is lightly browned. Pour in the rest of the marinade and the chicken stock; add the bay leaf as well. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked just about through.

Pour in the liver and simmer several seconds more or until the liver is just cooked. It is crucial not to over-cook the liver.

This is the saucy, soupy kind of adobo. For the other kind – the oily kind, take the chicken (and liver if desired) out of the sauce/soup and sauté for a few minutes in hot oil, adding adobo sauce if necessary. And that’s it!

Now, I have beed asked a few times why I flash fry the liver first and add it again later. Honestly I don’t know the reason. All I know is, that has been the way it has been done in the family. I will admit, however, that at one time I was feeling lazy and skipped the flash frying of the liver and just dumped it toward the end of the cooking. It just was not the same… so even if I was feeing lazy, I didn’t skip the flash frying… instead I would skip the pre-marinating part! 🙂

Butterscotch Dreams

Not being a big fan of chocolate, my bar of choice has always been butterscotch – specifically the one that my Ilonggo relatives would bring when they came for a visit.  It was difficult to describe, but it was buttery, sugary, and something else.  Over the years it has morphed into many variants, including my all-time favorite cashew and mango!

I never figured out how to bake those Pinoy (or Ilonggo) Butterscotch but I have tried to make butterscotch bars on and off throughout the years.  I was never quite satisfied… and eventually gave up.

You see, I did not want a butterscotch-chip bar, I wanted butterscotch bars!  I wanted the flavor of the butterscotch to permeate every bit of the bar cookie… and I wanted a butterscotch bar stuffed with dark chocolate chips… or cashew nut bits… or maybe even bits of dried Philippine mango…

The answer came to me in a dream – literally!  A couple of nights ago i woke up from a dream where I’d been mixing batter for butterscotch bars… I woke up to darkness (it wasn’t even close to dawn!) and scurried into the kitchen before my memory of the dream faded!

Thank goodness I had all the ingredients on hand!  And so, my experiment began… I had no guide except for my dream… and as I added ingredients, I noted it in the little girl’s whiteboard!

The resulting bars were even better that I imagined!

The recipe will have to wait though… because friend S expressed her desire to keep the goodies to ourselves for a while.  Besides, I think it just made the Christmas Giveaway List this year!

(Thank you friend T for naming this treat!)

 

 

Inasal na Manok

Hubby is predicting that our electric bill is going to skyrocket, with the baking I am doing with the small electric oven!

But I am just soooo excited!  And I’m having fun with it.  Especially the rotisserie function.  Here’s my second chicken project – the Inasal Chicken.

Inasal Chicken is a local dish of Bacolod, in the Western Visayas (Panay region) and its neighboring provinces.  The chicken is marinated in native vinegar, calamansi, achuete and pepper, then roasted, in pieces on a wooden skewer, on a charcoal grill.

My chicken inasal, at least for this occasion, is not grilled over charcoal.  Instead I cooked it rotisserie style.  I really like the rotisserie function of my ovenette – it enables me to multi-task.  I put the chicken in and leave it to roast.  I go and do whatever else that needs to be done and violà, an hour and a half later, we get to eat!  Isn’t that wonderful?

The recipe –

1 whole chicken, about 1.2 kilograms, cleaned and patted dry

8 cloves garlic, grated
1-1/2 tabelspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup sinamak (spiced coconut vinegar)
1/3 cup pure calamansi juice
2 to 3 stalks tanglad (lemon grass), white part only, smashed
reserve the green part
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh coarsely ground pepper
a pinch of annatto powder

Clean the chicken and pat dry.  Place the chicken inside a ziplock bag.

Combine the marinade ingredients together.  Pour into the ziplock bag containing the chicken.  Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 48 hours, turning the chicken every 4 to 6 hours.

Skewer the chicken on the rotisserie rod, stuff the cavity with the reserved green part of the tanglad (lemongrass) and (as I prefer) tie the chicken securely.  Roast the chicken at 240C for about 70 minutes.  Check the inner temperature of the chicken.  It should be between 75C to 77/78C.  Alternatively, chop into pieces, skewer on wooden sticks and cook over charcoal.

I got my recipe from a friend who claims to have gotten it from a native of Bacolod.  She says that the secret is using sinamak, the native spiced vinegar.  Sinamak is also the condiment served with the chicken.  Sinamak can be purchased at the supermarket but it is not difficult to make your own!  (Recipe coming up in the next entry!)

Minced Pork and Mushrooms, My Way…

One of the most popular dishes that my mother had in her arsenal was/is this diced pork-mushroom-tofu dish in a thick, sweet-salty sauce. I have tried to recreate it time and again but I never came close. It hasn’t stopped me from trying, and I always opt for ground pork instead of diced (less work!) but…

In any case, I prefer fresh mushrooms to dried ones, and a like a variety too, but sometimes I use dried shitakes also, when the fresh ones are unavailable.

400 grams lean ground pork
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons light soya sauce
4 to 5 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoons shao xing wine
1/2 to 1 tablespoon sesame oil

300 grams assorted fresh mushrooms
or a handful of dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated

4 thin slices of ginger
1 small onion, minced finely
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced finely

fried shallots (or shallot sauce)
2 cups stock, part mushroom soaking liquid
(if using dried shitakes)
1 piece star anise
1 small piece cinnamon stick
1 small piece rock sugar, or to taste

Marinate the pork in oyster sauce, soy sauces, wine and sesame oil for at least half an hour.

Sauté the ginger, onions and garlic.

Add the pork.  Stir fry until pork is almost done.  Add the mushrooms. Stir briefly.

Add the shallots, stock and spices.

Simmer until almost all the liquid is gone.  Or, to make a real soft, mushy dish, put in a crockpot or thermal cooker.

Serve with boiled eggs, garnished with fried shallots.