Baked Linguini by BFF!

I love cooking and baking for others.  Hubby even jokes that even if I have no recipients for the goodies I make, I will still bake and give them to any Tom, Dick or Harry on the street, or to just about anyone who would accept them!

But.

When someone makes something in their kitchen for me… That is when I feel blessed… extra special… and, super loved…

Thank you BFF for the special treat!

Merry Christmas!!!

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Paella Negra

While mine was delicious, it did not look like the ones served in restaurants.  Those were really black while mine were, well, a bit brownish greyish…

And I used real squid ink too.  From about 700 grams of squid, I was able to get more than 1/2 cup of squid ink.  Perhaps I could get better results if I use commercial squid ink paste?  Then again, I don’t know where to get it!

The recipe –

1/4 cup olive oil, or more as may be needed
350g shrimps
700g squid, cleaned, sliced, black ink reserved

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion medium, finely diced
1 medium pimiento, sliced or diced
3 small tomatoes, diced
2 cups, approx 500g raw rice, rinsed
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup squid ink
1 1/2 cups fish or shrimp stock
1/4 cup hot water with a pinch of saffron

2 boiled eggs, sliced into wedges

lemon slices for serving

(In a paella pan) heat half the olive oil. Stir fry the shrimps and squid for a couple of minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add remaining oil in the pan and saute the garlic and onion until soft and translucent. Add the diced tomatoes and pimientos.

Add the rice and stir fry a couple of minutes. Add the white wine, squid ink, stock and hot water with saffron. Stir lightly then cover. Cook on low, low-medium for 20 minutes approximately, stirring occasionally. Check once in a while if more liquid is needed. Likewise, check the seasonings, if needed.

Mix in the shrimp and squid (top decoratively with a few, if desired) and cook another 5 minutes. Garnish with boiled egg slices. Serve with lemon wedges.

Chinese-style Fried Rice

I grew up with rice.  In our corner of the world, bread was not the carbohydrate of choice (although it is growing exponentially in popularity).  We had rice for breakfast, rice for lunch and more rice for dinner…  This means that we always have leftover rice, in one form or another.

In the morning, leftover rice would become garlic fried rice (Filipino-style).  For lunch or dinner, we would have the Chinese-style fried rice.

When I was way younger, I would watch my mom make fried rice.  (My dad would occasionally make sinangag, but for Chinese style fried rice, mommy was the cook.)  I remember that the egg went in the pan last and it would make the rice look yellowish.  But that meant there were little, if any at all, egg bits in the fried rice.  (and I wanted lots of egg bits!)

Later on, I noticed that she would make scrambled eggs BEFORE the frying the rice and then add it last, stirring everything together and breaking up the already scrambled eggs.  And that’s when I saw my preferred egg bits!

Another thing about fried rice, especially those in Chinese restaurants, there are usually vegetables such as diced carrots, corn, green peas, and even shredded lettuce, and definitely spring onions.  In my version, I usually skip the veggies, except for the spring onions (and of course the standard garlic and onions).  Almost always, though, there’s some form of meat – shrimp almost always, and pork or chicken, or the famous Chinese sausage!

Also, I don’t really have a recipe for fried rice.  It was one of those things that we learn “by feel”, and by estimation… trial and error, if you will.

Frist thing to do is get out a Chinese wok – it is the best to cook fried rice in!  Heat it until smoking before adding some oil.  Pour in 2 beaten eggs and stir to scramble, remove from the pan (it’s ok it it slightly undercooked).

Heat the pan again and add some oil.  Saute minced garlic and onions, until they are soft and fragrant.  Add the protein you prefer – my favorites are shrimp and Chinese sausage (diced, in chunks, or sliced, whichever you prefer) and stir around the pan for a minute or two.  (if you like some vegetables, this is when you add them too – diced carrots, peas and shredded lettuce are most common.)  Add day-old rice (2 or 3 cups worth?) and a light dash of light soy sauce (not too much because I find that the rice tends to get mushy, as well as get an unappetizing color).  Stir-fry until done, season with salt as preferred.  Add the scrambled eggs back in, stirring lightly to break up the curds.

Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with spring onions and serve!

 

Super Easy Lobster Rice

Truth be told, this is a super cheat recipe…

Why?

Well, first of all, I couldn’t afford lobster!!!!  So the cheat part of the recipe is that I used the “doggy bag” that hubby brought home the other day (he had a business dinner at a [very very] posh restaurant).  One of the guests requested lobster and there were leftovers…

The super easy part is using the rice cooker!  Place 2 (rice cooker) cups, rinsed clear beforehad, in the rice cooker.  Mix the leftover lobster dish (which was cooked in garlic) with the appropriate amount of water and pour into the rice cooker, then switch on the rice cooker.

When the cooking is done, fluff up the rice with lobster pieces and serve!

How easy is that?????

Best part is how yummy it was!  The rice was infused with lobster goodness!

 

Mommy’s Marinara

My mother is a recipe hoarder.  Me?  I definitely got it from her… I also hoard recipes, cookbooks, etc. etc.  These days my cooking/baking list grows even longer since I’ve added her recipes to mine!

There is one recipe, however, that is NOT written anywhere.

A long time ago (when I was just past my teenage years, in fact), I went through a stage where I abhorred meat sauce for pasta.  I was lamenting about it that particular day when she said (paraphrasing here) “what’s your problem? it is so easy to make simple spaghetti sauce!”

She then goes on and dictates “the recipe” (again, paraphrasing here)-

Sauté 4 cloves garlic (smashed) and 1 small onion (minced).  Add a pinch of chili flakes, then pour a (big) can of stewed whole tomatoes in the pot.  Add a fistful of Italian seasoning and season to taste (large pinches of sugar, salt and pepper).  Lightly crush the tomatoes.  Simmer 15 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use the time to cook the pasta, 1 medium pack (which later I found out to be 500grams spaghetti, more or less).  In the last few minutes of simmering the sauce, throw a fistful of grated parmesan in the pot.  Mix.  Done.

Then she continues to say that it is easy to vary and add flavor – add whatever it is before the tomatoes…

for meat sauce, stir fry ground meat (anywhere from 250 grams to 500 grams), add the tomatoes when the meat is browned

for veggie sauce, add diced peppers or pimientos, sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, carrots, asparagus, eggplant, etc.  (if you want the veggies to stay crunchy, add in the last 10 minutes of simmering)

for seafood, add 1 small of anchovies and seafood as desired (just don’t over-do it!)

Later on, someone told me that this was basic marinara sauce.

I’ve used this formula for years!  And hubby loves it!  Any which way I make it! And I’ve made it with shrimps, meat, veggies, clams, mussels, crab, even with canned sardines!!!

But my absolute favorite is this mixed seafood!

 

Three Crabs and Rice

The good news is I have more of my mom’s recipes that I thought.  The “bad” news?  I am becoming more compulsive in finding more…  And worse…  The more I find, the more I want to make, cook, and bake everything!

The first dish that I wanted to make was her Crab Rice… but as always, I want to do things my way!  So, while her dish is steamed for an hour in a steamer, mine is cooked in my rice cooker!!! I like the convenience of a dump-everything recipe.

I also varied the recipe somewhat… because I could not find live mud crabs, but I had crab meat from blue crabs, talangka (Asian shore crab) and soft shell crab!  Why, you may ask, do I have those???  Well… it seems that I bought them at one time or another and they kinda got stuck in freezer.  By “stuck” I mean it got relegated to the bottom and it only surfaced when the freezer broke and we had take everything out!

So, this dish is based on my mom’s recipe but it is uniquely mine too!

(Note – using 3 kinds of crabs is a bit complicated. The easier way to do it is to simply use 3 to 4 pieces of crab, live mud crabs to be specific.)

1-1/2 cup rice (I use “young” denorado variety)

100 to 150 grams liempo (pork belly strip), sliced into matchsticks, optional
6 pieces (small) soft-shell crabs, rinsed and patted dry
200 grams talangka, cleaned
1/4 to 1/2 cup crab meat
8 pieces dried black mushrooms, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid

several slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small violet/red onion, minced

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 to 2 tablespoons reserved mushroom soaking liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

3 cups cold water, more or less depending on the variety of rice used

flour for dredging soft shell crabs

leeks or spring onions for garnish

Place the cold water in the rice cooker pot.  Set aside for the meantime.

Saute half the ginger, garlic and onions.  Add the crab meat; stir lightly to break up the meat but not so much – leave the mix chunky.  Add the rice grains and stir lightly, just so the rice grains are coated in oil.  Pour this mixture in the rice cooker.  Put the rehydrated mushrooms in the rice cooker pot as well.

Saute the remaining ginger, garlic and onions.  Add the sliced pork belly and stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the talangka and seasonings.  Cook a couple of minutes then dump the mixture in the rice cooker.  Give a quick gentle stir to mix everything.  Switch on the rice cooker and cook.

Meanwhile, dredge the soft shell crabs in flour.  Then, fry it until it is cooked.  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside until the rice cooker finishes cooking.

When the rice is done, put the fried soft shell crabs on top.  Garnish with leeks then serve!

If using a single variety of crab,  get about 3 to 4 pieces of crab.  Parboil the already clean crabs until partially cooked.  Lift the crabs out, reserve the liquid left behind.  Leave one crab whole, and chop the rest into smaller pieces.  There will be more liquid coming from the crabs, save it as well.

Put everything in the rice cooker except the whole crab.  Don’t forget to put in the crab liquids.  Give a quick stir to mix everything up.  Switch on the rice cooker.

Halfway through, put the whole crab in.  Cover and continue cooking until done.

Garnish with leeks or spring onions and serve!

Note about the pork – go ahead and skip it.  I find that it interferes with the overall dish!

Final note – my mom’s recipe specifies glutinous rice but I had none and used our usual denorado instead.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seafood Pasta Paella

Sometime ago I was given a largish packet of saffron. I knew it was expensive so I used it sparingly. Until the other day when I saw that its expiration date was drawing near. It would have been more wasteful if I just left it to expire, so I set about to cook with it!

My first project? Paella of course!!! But not with rice, with pasta!

I planned to serve this to “the boys” – hubby’s friends who come to the house twice a month or so.  They were polite enough to rave and gush at my cooking!

*smile*

400 grams spaghetti

2 tablespoons hot water
large pinch of saffron

1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, smashed and minced
4 large tomatoes, sliced into large dice

4 pieces small crab
6 pieces large shrimp
4 pieces large mussels

1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes, to taste

5 to 6 cups of fish stock or water

Get 2 pots ready on the stove – one for the spaghetti (with salted water) and the other for the paella (I took out my paella pan!!!)  Start the water boiling for the spaghetti and heat the paella pan.  Meanwhile, steep the saffron in the hot water.

When the paella pan is hot, quick fry the bell pepper; remove when it is almost done.  Toss in the garlic, onion and tomatoes.  Stir-fry several minutes.  Add the saffron and the infused water.

(At this point, check the other pot, the water should be boiling, in which case, throw the spaghetti in and cook until halfway done, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.)

Add the crab, then remove when almost done.  Add the shrimp and the spices (paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper and chili flakes, to taste.  Add about 4 cups of fish stock.  When the mixture simmers, add the half-cooked spaghetti and cook until almost done.  Towards the end of cooking, add the mussels and crab.  Add stock or water as necessary.  Season to taste.  Do not over-cook!

Before serving, arrange the seafood decoratively on top of the pasta.

Easy Chicken ‘n Rice

This recipe is easy because it is basically a dump-the-ingredients-into-the-pot recipe.  The secret to this dish is a rice cooker!  A rice cooker is a staple in Asian kitchens, and while I’ve seen high-tech ones (with goodness-knows how many settings), for me, nothing beats the simple standard!

First thing to do – make the Ginger Dipping Sauce!

Grate some fresh ginger to measure about 2 tablespoons. Squeeze ginger juice out of the grated ginger in a bowl (keep the ginger juice!!!) Mix the grated ginger with 1 teaspoon minced spring onions, green part only, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture sit in the fridge until the dish is ready.

Next, rinse 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs and pat dry.  Slice the chicken into bite size pieces, then marinate, for 30 minutes, in a mix of:

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
the reserved ginger juice from the grated ginger earlier
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Meanwhile, prepare the following:

1 piece Chinese sausage, sliced thinly (but I omitted this)
about 6 large pieces dried mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced into strips
(reserve 1 tablespoon of the mushroom soaking liquid)

1-1/2 cups white rice grains, rinsed clear (I use Dinorado, not laon variety)

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon mushroom soaking liquid
1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
3 cups chicken stock, more or less, depending on the type of rice used

Place the rice grains into the rice cooker (I don’t remember the capacity of our rice cooker but it is definitely not a big one. This recipe fills it to the brim). Place all other ingredients in it (do not include the chicken pieces). Stir lightly, cover, then turn the rice cooker on. Cook until the mixture is bubbly and rice grains are puffed but not yet done.

Using tongs, place the marinated chicken on the rice (do not pour in the marinade). Cover and cook further. If the rice cooker goes on “keep warm” check if the rice is done (move chicken slightly to expose rice and get a small teaspoonful to check). If the rice is done, leave on “keep warm” 5 more minutes then turn off. If the rice is still undercooked, press the “cook” button after 5 to 10 minutes to cook further.

When the rice is done, garnish with sliced spring onions and serve with ginger dipping sauce.

NOTE #1 – the chicken pieces should not be too big or it will not cook fully.
NOTE #2 – the dish can be served as faux “Claypot Chicken Rice”. When the rice is done, mix the rice and chicken together before serving.

Enjoy!

I served this to “the boys” and it was gone in an instant!!!

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!