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.)

 

 

Advertisements

XO Shrimp and Mushroom Sotanghon

I’ve always said that the secret to a good XO dish is a good XO sauce!  Even if nothing else is added to the dish, it will be fantastic!

One of my mom’s favorites among the food I cook for her is this XO Sotanghon dish.  At its simplest, it is just 2 ingredients!  Saute the XO sauce (don’t skimp!), add broth (or even water) then the softened vermicelli noodles. When the noodles absorb the water/broth, it is done!!!

Of course it is made better with other ingredients such as shitake and shrimp or prawns.  Simply saute the mushrooms and the shrimp with the XO sauce and follow with water/broth and noodles… that’s it!!!

 

Maple-Oat Bread, No Knead

I am always interested in no knead bread, so when I saw the e-book “Bread Toast Crumbs” by Alexandra Stafford, and read all the good reviews, I did not hesitate to buy it.  I was excited to try the recipes!

The first recipe I chose is this –

I felt it was perfect, since my mother had just given me a bottle of maple syrup, a souvenir from her recent trip to Canada.

I baked mine in loaf pans.  And, I can attest that this is a super easy bread to make, delicious to boot!!!

Of course I sent one over to my mom, after all, she gave me the maple syrup!!!

The recipe can be found online here.

 

 

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!)

 

 

Orange Loaf

We had a couple of oranges just sitting fridge. The little girl did not want juice and no one else wanted to eat them. I was getting worried that it would spoil… sooner or later…

So as usual, I looked for something to bake that would use the orange! Obvious solution, orange cake! Of course I did not ordinary orange cake, I wanted ooommmph… which meant some form of alcohol content!

I found a solution in the book “Booze Cakes”… the recipe that was entitled “Screwdriver Cupcakes”.  The original recipe used orange vodka, but i used triple sec (I did not have orange vodka on hand!)  The recipe also specified coconut but I skipped that as well.

The idea of a frosting, while tempting, was also dismissed.  I was thinking of sharing the cake with my mother and she does not appreciate frostings!  So I baked the recipe in 2 loaf pans and when they finished baking I just brushed a mix of marmalade and orange juice on top to make a sticky orange loaf!  As extra, I placed some candied orange (diced) on top of one of the loaves (this loaf went to my mom).

Hubby and the little girl loved it!  The little girl!  who often disliked any flavor other than chocolate!  The little girl asked for seconds and thirds!!!

My mom (and younger brother) loved it too!

Wow!

Also, a tip that I learned – takes more work, I know, but believe me, IT IS WORTH IT!!!!

Rub the orange zest in the sugar!!!!!!

Panettone, No Knead

Officially, at least in my country, Christmas is NOT over. Somehow, we start in September and go on until the first Sunday of January of the coming year! So the stores still have their Christmas decorations and displays, as well as their Christmas music blaring.

As for me, I did very little Christmas baking/cooking, if at all. I had asked hubby if he wanted fruitcake (he usually did) but lo and behold, he asked me to hold off on making fruitcake. Meanwhile I anticipated his saying yes and already bought some mixed dried fruit and mixed glazed fruit! I thought, oh well, I could always make something else later on and simply stuck the stuff in the fridge.

But as soon as Christmas day passed, I got an urge to get into the kitchen and do something.

This is what I came up with… considering I already had some “Christmas” fruit mix in the fridge.

Just in time too, for New Year’s Day lunch, when my mom and 2 brothers came over for a meal.

As usual, I chose a no-knead bread… and of course, from my favorite book – The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

The recipe can be found here.  (I halved the recipe.)

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms

Once in a while I cook for my mom and when I do, I always try to make the dish no-salt-added.  Why?  Because she developed hypertension early (in her late 30s I think) and since then she has tried to reduce her salt intake.  So her taste buds (and ours, too because she cooked reduced salt for everyone!) favors the blander side of food.

When I cook of course I use soy sauce and other condiments to flavor the dish, but if the dish is for my mom, I would never add table salt or sea salt, or fish sauce.  Of course it goes without saying, we don’t use MSG.

It is not easy to please my mom, but somewhere along the way, I stopped trying.  I just send over the dish and if she has no complaints, then it’s good news to me!

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms, no salt added.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken wings
12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 pieces star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili
3 stalks leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated
boiled eggs, optional

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes.  Slice each into 2 or 3 chunks.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of mushroom soaking liquid, half the ginger, half the garlic, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

Saute the remaining garlic and ginger, onion, dried chili, and white part of the leeks.  Add the chicken and marinade.   Add the mushrooms and chestnuts.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved mushroom liquid by tablespoons.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the boiled eggs in the last 3 to 5 minutes, if using.  Thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with the green part of the leeks.  Serve immediately.

The secret to the dish is the very flavorful mushroom soaking liquid!

Bread Pudding

When I was little, bread pudding was a popular dessert.  I never realized that it was made from bread until I was much much older!  It was also one of those things that was made from “a feel for it”, no specific recipe to speak of.

The way I was taught to make it?  It first depends on how much bread cubes we had… basically, spread the bread cubes in a single layer in a Corningware square dish (how specific!)  For the “middle-sized” dish, it meant 2 grande eggs (XL-sized).  Now, for every egg used, we add 3/4 cup milk (no low fat milk… we used to use evaporated milk!), 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar, a large pinch of apple spice (or cinnamon) and a small pinch of salt.  This recipe or proportion is by no means a strict one… in fact, we always eye-balled it!

Anyway, our pudding almost always had raisins added to it.  But since I was using the dried fruit bread from the other day, I decided to add chocolate chips instead!  And while I was at it, I added 2 tablespoons of rum too!

The secret?  Leave the bread soaking in the milk mixture at least 4 hours before baking!!!

The verdict?

Everyone loved it… even my hard-to-please mother!!!

 

Year of the Fruitcake

For someone who does not like fruitcake, it is THE one thing that I have been baking consistently and regularly this year!

I started early – in August! Testing various recipes, trying to formulate my own, trying different fruit mixes… even re-working my recipe (of last year) that I had already thought was THE fruitcake recipe for me.

This year I ventured into different kinds of fruitcake – a black one, a white one, a boiled one, a dry one… all with one thing in common – RUM!

So, I decided to make one dedicated to RUM!  In fact, the recipe uses a total of 1½ cups of it!

Basically, I used my favorite pound cake recipe and added rum to it.  I added a mix of dried and candied fruit (pre-soaked in more rum) then after baking, I brushed even more rum (!) on the cake!

What did hubby think of this fruity rum cake?  He LOVED it!

Who else loved it?  My mom, that’s who!

(and yes, it is the last one for this year…)

 

Artisan Bread, for my Kid Brother

So, my mother and brother dropped by the other day and they saw my freshly baked bread rolls.  My mother, in particular was quite intrigued.  She was a quite the bread baker when she was younger – she loved kneading!!!

But age has an unfunny way of rearranging life.  Her kids grew up, moved away and now that there’s only 2 of them in the house, plus her increasing age, she decided to be practical…

Anyway, she was intrigued at how bread could be made without kneading.  So I told her about it.  She got really excited.  Apparently, she is still interested in making bread but felt that she could no longer knead so she pushed her interest aside.  But now that there was a way…

Let’s just say she ordered me to find an oven for her – a small one like mine but perhaps one size bigger… then she told me to buy her all the equipment and ingredients, as well as a copy of the book!  Well, I told her I could scout for everything else but she’d have to get my brother to find her the book!

As for my brother, he asked me to teach him how (the recipe is easy since it’s from the book but he wanted a demo!).  Problem is we live far away from each other so here’s the next best thing –

00_bread-demo

From the top, left to right –

1. proofing the yeast – I use instant yeast but I still let it “bloom” because I once had an experience where my newly purchased yeast turned out to be a bad batch! Since then I’ve been careful and taken the extra 10 minutes to make sure the yeast is still active.

2. Combine the dry ingredients together.  I use half the recipe because the full recipe won’t fit in my fridge, and a 3-liter microwave bowl because it has a built-in vent!

3. Combine the dry ingredients, the proofed yeast and wet ingredients.  Mix well.

4. Set the covered bowl in a warm area and let it rest for 2 hours.  At the start, the dough is just sitting at the bottom.

5. After 1 hour, the dough is more than halfway up.

6. At almost 2 hours, the dough is near the top!  When the dough flattens at the top, shove the plastic bowl in the fridge for at least 12 to 24 hours.

7. The night before I plan to bake the rolls for breakfast, I take a third or half of the dough out, form it into a ball and let it rest for about 5 minutes.

8. Then, I divide the dough into 8 portions (for one third of the dough) or 15 portions (for half the dough) and form them into balls and place them in a well greased baking pan.  Then I let it rise for about an hour, after which it goes back to the fridge, lightly covered with cling wrap.

The next day, I preheat my little electric oven.  It takes about 10 minutes and then I just put the pan in and let it bake for about 20 minutes!  Violá!  Breakfast rolls in 30 minutes!  (If a browned crust is desired, brush with egg wash before baking.)

Alternatively, if I’m feeling lazy, I grab a third or half the dough (still the night before) and form it into a ball (boule).  I place it on a well greased baking sheet and let it rise about an hour, after which it goes into the fridge lightly covered with cling wrap.  It bakes in about 25 to 30 minutes!

00_boule-collageFresh bread every day!!!