Seafood Congee

I actually made this dish twice, this week!!!

The first time was on Monday.  Hubby announced, at around 5pm, that a couple of his friends were coming over IN AN HOUR (!) and asked me to prepare something…

But there was nothing!!! there were frozen meat in the freezer but it would not even thaw in time!!!

Long story short, I took out one of the two frozen ocean crabs in the freezer and made congee with it, adding squid balls and some frozen shrimp to the mix, as well as century eggs and hard boiled eggs!

It was a hit!

So much so that I made another batch and sent it to my mom and to my father-in-law!

The recipe (using my magic cooker) –

Rinse about 1/2 cup of rice then place it in the inner pot.  Add about 4 to 5 cups of broth or water.  Place 1 medium to large-sized crab (cleaned and chopped) inside, as well as ginger slices and a whole onion (peeled).  Boil for 15 minutes then put the pot in the magic cooker chamber.

After 90 minutes or so, take out the inner pot and bring to a soft boil on the stove.  Add shrimps, chopped squid/octopus or whatever seafood you like to add.  Season to taste.  Stir until all ingredients are cooked and congee is thick and creamy.  Garnish with chopped green onions or leeks.  Serve with hard-boiled eggs.

(The second batch of congee for my mom and F-I-L were made with crab, shrimps, octopus, squid balls and abalone mushrooms.)

 

 

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I AM A FILIPINO ADOBO

When I have time to waste, I always go to the bookstore and browse the cookbook section.  It was in one of those moments that I found a cookbook that I could not resist buying.  It was rather expensive, I admit, but after flipping through the pages, I just had to add it to my collection.

The first time I saw the book, it was the digital version.  With the limited browsing facility of Amazon, it did not interest me at all – there are, after all, MANY MANY cookbooks on Philippine food (both local and international) and most of my recipes were given to me by word-of-mouth.  I honestly did not need another one!

But curiosity got the better of me and with the permission of the bookstore personnel, I unwrapped the book and took a deeper look.  And, I swear, there is something about the smell of the pages, as well as the feel of the paper, that has a stronger appeal than the digital version!  In a matter of seconds, I made the decision to fork over the cash!

What I love about this cookbook is that the recipes are very close to what I have been taught (by word-of-mouth) by my mom, our faithful helper (who was with us since I was a child until after I finished schooling (at age 25!), and other elders.  Another thing that I really liked was that the food titles were in Filipino, with an English subtitle.  I’ve seen Filipino cookbooks (by Filipino authors no less!) who write their recipes with English translations, with the original Filipino title relegated to a sub-title, and I felt offended!

Sigh.

Anyway, the first recipe I tried in the book is the Adobong Manok at Baboy (Classic Adobo).  Why?  Well, because it is almost (almost!) the exact recipe my mom dictated to me a couple of decades ago!

While I have several recipes of adobo, depending on who taught me, this is the easiest to remember so I never wrote that recipe down.  All I have to remember is … ONE.

1 cup white vinegar (Datu Puti was what we had), 1 cup soy sauce (the Chinese favorite with the bird logo), 1 whole head of garlic, 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, 1 large bay leaf, 1 kilo of chicken and/or pork, and 1 heaping spoon of guava jelly (though this was optional).  The only other ingredient without a specific measure is the water – basically add enough water to cover everything.  That’s it.

The major difference is that in my mom’s version, there is no marinating the meat.  Just put everything in a pot (kaserola) and simmer until the meat is soft and tender (depending on the pork cubes, it could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour).  That’s it.

Oh, there is another difference… we usually add hard boiled eggs midway!

Yum. Yum. Yum!!!

 

 

Pizza Night!!!

The kid can be a picky eater, but when it’s pizza time… all she wants is CHEESE!

She will (and does!) pick all other ingredients and put them aside!

Soooo….

Because I was feeling a bit lazy and because the kid kept asking for it, we had pizza night.  For her… cheese pizza.  For me… Hawaiian!

The best pizza crust recipe (for me) is the Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  But I halve the recipe since I don’t have a container that’s big enough.

1-3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3-3/4 cups bread flour

Just stir everything together and then leave it at room temperature for a couple of hours.  Then stick it in the fridge overnight.  The next day, pinch off some dough and roll out as thin (or thick) as you like.  We like ours super-thin, about 9-1/2 inches in diameter.  (Then again, an off-the-shelf frozen pizza crust works just as well, too.)

Put some fresh diced tomatoes (or by all means use the ones from a can, just remember to drain them… or go ahead and spread on some ready made pizza sauce, that’s fine too!) then pile on the cheese!  In our case we already had cheddar, parmesan, and toast cheese so we just had to get some mozzarella (I saw an all-in-one pack of shredded pizza cheese and was so tempted to buy it; and I’m sure I would have if we didn’t already have other cheeses at home!)

Anyway, bake the pizza at the highest setting (as possible – ours was about 475*F) of the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes… then enjoy!!!

(for the Hawaiian just put sliced ham and pineapple chunks!)

 

 

 

Bola Bola Soup

Bola is our word for “ball”, so literally, bola bola is 2 balls.  But what it really means is any kind of “meat” balls… so it could refer to meat, fish, chicken, beef, squid, mushroom, etc.

The bola bola that I knew consisted of 2 kinds – the fried one and the processed one that was usually floating in chicken soup!  It was a bowl of comfort!

The simplest kind is the one with fish or chicken stock and fish balls, with chopped spring onions as garnish.  The more elaborate ones have shredded chicken, noodles, pechay, sometimes even mushrooms, and several kinds of balls.

The first thing I always do is boil chicken breast with onions, salt and ginger ti make the stock.  The stock is strained of impurities and the chicken is shredded and put back into the stock.  The stock then is reboiled and the balls are added.  When the balls float to the top, it is time to put in the pechay (wombok).  The soup is ready!

To take it one step further, the soup can be ladled into a bowl with parboiled egg noodles to make noodle soup!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!