Bread, bread, bread!

(#30 in the limited series: cooking/baking in the time of the coronavirus quarantine)

It’s all over the internet – people are gung-ho about baking, specifically bread… so much so that in certain places, yeast and flour have sold out.  In my case, I have plenty of yeast (since I bought2 packs early this year) but I was running out of flour!  My usual sources of flour were closed due to the quarantine and I was down to my last kilo of bread flour and all purpose flour.  Hubby managed to find me 3 kilos of cake flour but I did not think it would work for bread!

Anyway I did find someone on an online shopping site who sold flour and order some, never mind the price was slightly higher and the delivery fee more expensive than the item itself!  But.  But.  The product never arrived.  Good thing I did not opt for prepayment and instead insisted on COD.

Just my luck when hubby told me that he found an online baking supply store that recently opened online even if their physical store was closed… I quickly made an order!  I had to be a little patient since there were little snags but all is well that ends well… I got a supply of flour – and it was enough (hopefully) to tide me over until quarantine ends (hopefully not extended any longer).

And then… wouldn’t you believe it, my mom calls and complains that there was no bread to be bought in their district!  Long story short… I made bread… bread… bread…

I sent over – a sandwich loaf, corned beef buns, spicy tuna buns, plain rolls, and raisin bread.

But I did not bake them YET.  i kneaded the dough, let it rise, and then formed them and placed them in disposable aluminum pans (with covers) and froze them.  So all my brother had to do was defrost them and let them rise (for the 2nd rise) then bake them!

The ones pictured here were the “leftovers”…

Pork Leg Misua

The base of this dish is, of course, Stewed Pork Leg – my mom’s original recipe.

The usual noodle dish offered in Chinese restaurants using stewed pork leg is Pork Leg Bihon or Pata Bihon. Bihon is a kind of thin noodle, similar looking to mung bean threads (sotanghon), but is made from rice. While I am ok with eating Pata Bihon in restaurants, I have rarely cooked with it. Long story short – bihon is my least favorite noodle!

Instead I cook with sotanghon… it is easy (as far as I am concerned) and it is liked by the whole household… plus, a dear friend introduced me to a particular brand that we really like!!!

But my all-time favorite noodle is misua, which is a very thin/fine noodle made from wheat flour. Apparently, they have been my favorite since I could eat solid foods (if my mom is to be believed) so much so that my mom fondly called me “misua” once in a while!

There are 2 kinds of misua – the thinner/finer one that is used in soups (just dump it in boiling soup and turn the heat off and it’s done) and a slightly thicker one that can be used for a stir-fried noodle dish… in addition, there’s egg misua which is misua noodles enriched with egg – these noodles are thicker and yellowish.

Anyway, my pantry is never without the thinner misua for soup, but I have never made the stir-fried misua dish before simply because I never found decent misua for guisado (stir-frying) that passed our standards.

That is, until last week…

Hubby and I went to the nearby Chinese grocery (the only around since we were far away from Chinatown). There were lots of people in the store and no parking available so hubby had to wait in the car and I just had to rush in and get the things on my list and leave. But as I was getting ready to line up, I saw a hoard of people grabbing stuff off a shelf that was nearly empty.

Curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of the salesladies what it was that was so popular that it was literally flying off the shelves!

It was the misua for stir-frying! And the reason for its popularity? Apparently there was some kind of occasion coming up. Ahhhh… because misua (whether for soup or stir-frying) symbolizes long life!

And since I had the attention of the saleslady anyway, I asked her to tell me how it is prepared. Wouldn’t you know it, it was easy – just parboil the noodles in boiling water for several seconds, drain then dump and mix it in your noodle stir-fry base!

Well then, I just had to get one, right? I managed to snag the second to the last piece on the shelf!

And, using the Stewed Pork Leg dish as the base, I made… Stewed Pork Leg Misua!!! I added some shrimp for my mom’s serving because I know she likes shrimp.

(The short cut version, without having to go through making the Stewed Pork Leg dish is to just open a can of… Stewed Pork Leg!!! hahahaha)

Mommy’s Loaf Bread

There’s one good thing about my mom’s being OC about certain recipes… OC is a mild term since she would make the recipe over and over, week after week, month after month (!) until she got it perfect… the good thing being that when I make one of her “perfected” recipes, it is bound to be good!

I’ve mentioned before that I started bread baking late because bread baking was my mom’s passion, well, I found her recipe for loaf bread and found the best opportunity to make it – when my brother requested me to bake some bread and bring it over!

As always I halved her recipe (hers made 4 small loaves!!!) and because I had some ube halaya in the fridge, I made one of the loaves an ube-swirl loaf.

Needless to say, it was a hit! both for our household as well as for my mom and brother! In fact, I had just arrived when my brother started eating the bread and within minutes, it was gone!!!

The kid, once again, proclaimed me the best baker ever, ever. I had to be honest and revealed to the kid that the recipe was not mine but her a-mah’s (grandma). Her reply – never mind, mommy, it’s still good!

heh?

Radish Cake

This was not the first time I tried to make radish cake. My first attempt was a colossal failure. It looked like radish cake but the texture was all wrong. You see, I did not know that there was difference between glutinous or sweet rice flour and plain rice flour. As you may have guessed, I used glutinous flour when I should have used plain rice flour.

Years passed by before I decided to try again. Why? Because the truth is, it is way easier to just buy it, especially since there’s a reliable and authentic Chinese place nearby.

But why try again, if it is easier to buy it? Well, it’s the best reason ever – I found my mom’s recipe for radish cake! But, for some reason, her recipes are often for a large batch so I always scale it to at least a third, or in this particular case, to a fourth of the original.

The problem? I am rather lousy at math, and worse, afflicted with what my mother refers to as “carelessness syndrome”. Oh yes, there’s also the “not-listening-too-well sickness”!

Long story short, I still made mistakes!!! (Don’t I always???)

What did I do wrong? Well, I scaled the recipe to a fourth of the original, right? Problem is, I miscalculated the radish and ended up with twice the amount…

Fortunately though, in spite of my mistake(s), the radish cake turned out pretty well. The best part is both hubby and the kid loved it! Hubby said that it had a real and authentic radish flavor that was usually lacking in other (commercially-made) radish cake. The kid has been eating it for the last few days!!!

When I sent some to my mom and brother, they also liked it although my brother felt it lacked a bit of salt.

It’s a good thing that I am diligent in taking notes so my (mis)calculations are duly recorded. I will make it again as per “my” recipe (adapted from my mom’s of course) and if I get the same results, the recipe will be mine!

Orange-Apricot Loaf

I never thought that an orange flavored loaf (or cake) was delicious and because of that, I stayed away for orange cakes. But at some point, a friend (from the culinary world) urged me (rather strenuously I might add) to give it a try, promising me that it would “definitely change my mind”.

Well guess what? My mind was blown at my first orange cake!

Since then I have made many orange cakes!

Here’s another one… with apricots! I found the recipe online – from Sunset

I didn’t have sour cream on hand though, instead I used 1/4 cup EACH orange juice and orange marmalade. As always, I brush the top (after baking) with a glaze made from apricot preserves, brandy, and water. I baked the recipe in 2 disposable aluminum loaf pans for about an hour.

We ate a loaf after dinner and sent the other one to my mother.

It was spectacularly delicious!

Childhood Favorite…

For some reason, this dish made lots of appearances on our table when I was growing up.  I’ve tried to recreate this dish many times but I was always too lazy to dice the pork, instead using ground pork.  It seemed to never taste the same as my favorite childhood dish.

This time however, I took the time and effort and dice everything.  Wow, it transported me right back to my younger days.  Who knew that the cut of pork mattered?  Perhaps this was what my mother meant when she nagged me endlessly to NOT be lazy!???

Egg Tofu… stir-fried

Remember the egg tofu project a couple of weeks ago?  Well, I made another batch (one for my mom and one for us) and cut the tofu into cubes after it cooled completely.  My goal was to stir-fry the tofu with ground pork to see if it would crumble as well as to check how stir-frying would affect the delicate texture of the tofu.

It was a huge success!  The tofu did not crumble and it stayed soft and delicate!!!!!!  It was soooooo delicious!

And the dish cooked in just a few minutes!

First saute garlic and onions until soft, add about 100 to 150 grams of ground pork.  Stir fry the pork with a teaspoon of oyster sauce.  Halfway to doneness, add the tofu cubes and mix gently.  I didn’t have to add salt to the dish because the tofu was already seasoned nicely.

It was sooo good as topping for steamed rice!

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.)

 

 

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!!!!!!