Taisan

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

About a week before the deadline of the extended enhanced community quarantine, the announcement of yet another extension came…

The first thought in my head – I know that it is for my own safety but I am finding it more and more difficult to cope.

Well, when I am stressed… I do one of 2 things – I eat, or I cook/bake.

This time I baked and I looked for something that I really felt as comfort food.  And I remember in my youth how I loved Taisan.  I would buy it from the local (famous) bakeshop until my mom and I found a recipe for one that we were happy with.

I hadn’t baked it in at least 25 years!  And somehow, I don’t see it in the bakeshops these days…

Thing is, I tried looking for a recipe in my cookbooks.  I did find a couple but it is not come out the way I wanted.  Then it occurred to me that the first place I should have looked in was my mom’s recipes!!!  (Crazy of me, right?)

So there it was… in the middle of my mom’s clearbook!

(Sorry though, as always, I do not have her permission to share…)

Anyway, with the wonderful scent of the Taisan wafting throughout the house was comforting!

And then, Doughnuts!

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

Honestly, I do not know how or why I made doughnuts!  Maybe it’s because doughnuts were a favorite comfort food – in my teens, it was a favorite of both my brother and mine… we would split this giant doughnut and pair it coffee!  It was also my go-to comfort food when I first started working in the 20s.  The doughnuts I/we loved were simple sugar-dipped or honey-raised doughnuts.

I guess with this quarantine still ongoing and getting extended several times already, I wanted serious comfort.

I followed the recipe on Fleischmann’s Bread World… primarily because the yeast I had on hand was… Fleishmann’s, although this is the first time I would be using this brand.  I know that it is a brand that is very popular in America but the brand that I used since I was a teen (the same one my mom made bread with all her life) is SAF Instant.

So why do I have Fleischmann’s instead of my usual?  Blame it on the quarantine restrictions!

Anyway, I really intended to make doughnut holes… I did not want a big doughnut since that meant using more oil for frying and the times being such, it was a good idea to always conserve supplies!

And, of course, my doughnut holes would be dipped in sugar and cinnamon!!!

 

Ampalaya sa Malaat na Itlog at Adobong Dilaw na Baboy at Atay

(#40 & 41 in the limited series: cooking/baking in the time of the coronavirus quarantine)

It’s certainly not the first time I cooked ampalaya.  It’s the second time!  simply because I DO NOT LIKE BITTER GOURD, which is what ampalaya is in English… as the name says, IT IS BITTER!!!

I’ve been told so many ways to reduce the bitterness but at the end of the day, it is still bitter!  But, because hubby loves it… I give in once in a while and cook it.  His favorite style for cooking ampalaya?  Stir-fried with salted egg!

Of course that meant I had to cook another dish otherwise I would not have any lunch!!!

Adobong dilaw it was!  Because Lola harvested some turmeric we had planted in our concrete garden…

And because adobo (all the many ways it is cooked) is a comfort food for me…

Creamy Tuna Spread

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

This came about after hubby made a request for a tuna hand pie.  Confession time, though, this is not the first time I tried to make a tuna pie that hubby will like… so far, my attempts have been… ho hum at best.

But, this one, hubby is very happy about.

My usual tuna spread for sandwiches has the usual ingredients – tuna, minced onion, pickle relish, salt and pepper, and of course, mayonnaise.   But that was good for a sandwich but not as a pie filling… pie filling should be thicker I guess and, as hubby says, must have a cheesy component…

Well, in experimenting, I decided that I was not so fond of the raw onion taste so the first change I did was to cook the onions with the tuna.  Then, because hubby is not so fond of pickle relish, I did away with it.  Then, he wanted cheese, so he got cheese – I used some quick-melt (which I added to the onion and tuna cooking on the stove).  I had some grated carrot, so that went in too… for salt I used celery salt… and of course, mayonnaise!!!

Saute some minced onion (about 2 tablespoons) and 2 small cans of tuna (drained of course)… smash the tuna so no large pieces remain.  Add about 1/2 cup of shredded quick-melt cheese and cook just until the cheese is melted.  Then, let the mixture cool to room temperature.  when the tuna mixture is no longer hot, mix with 1 to 2 tablespoons grated carrots and about 1 cup of mayonnaise (use more mayonnaise if you want a creamier spread).  Season to taste with celery salt and pepper (take it easy on the salt, though because the cheese has a bit of saltiness already).

A final note – since hubby likes spicy food, I actually halved the tuna (and in effect the recipe) and added a ton (figuratively) of chili flakes for his share.

I used some puff pastry to make tuna hand pies with his half of spicy tuna spread…

 

Steamed Pork with Salted Eggs

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

This dish is pretty common in Chinese households.  My ancestry is Chinese but I was born a citizen of my country.  So I have an affinity with food in both cultures…

But, the funny thing is, this was not at all common in my mom’s kitchen.  I first had a taste of this in a “small” food center in the unofficial Chinatown in our city, specializing in Taiwanese cuisine.  This is the first time I would be trying to make this dish.  I tried looking in my chinese cookbooks but somehow I did not see any recipe for it.  So I went to the internet and I found this site so I am basing my dish on it.  I increased the proportion since my ground meat (packed from the market) was at 400g (of course I did not want any leftover meat…)

The original recipe did not add ginger or onion to the meat mix but I always, always add it to all my meat dishes…  A note about the salted eggs, so far I have not found raw salted eggs locally – they are usually boiled and cooked already so I had to use the whole salted duck eggs instead of just the egg yolks, and to replace the salted egg white in the meat dish, I added a regular egg.

400g ground pork with about 15% fat
grated ginger
minced onions
splash of rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 salted eggs, cubed

Combine and mix everything, except salted eggs, by hand. Fold in diced salted eggs.

Place into an oiled glass bowl/lidded plate. Steam 20 to 25 minutes, longer if the plate/bowl is “tall”, internal temperature of the pork should be 160*F.

It was a hit with the family!  The steamed pork was soft and creamy and the salted eggs provided a salty pop (notice I did not add salt anymore to the meat)

Bread, More Bread!

(#36, 37 & 38 in the limited series: cooking/baking in the time of the coronavirus quarantine)

I woke up at 3 am and could not go back to sleep.  So I went down to the kitchen and started making bread.  I ended up with hotdog rolls and parmesan tuna buns…

IMG_6569

Then as a last hurrah, I made blueberry loaf (pictured on top).

The kid was happy to have the hotdog rolls for breakfast and we were happy to eat the parmesan tuna buns.  The blueberry loaf was what we snacked on the rest of the day.

After breakfast I went right back to sleep!!!

Chicken with Pechay

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

If there is one thing I noticed about my cooking while under quarantine, it is that my stews are more saucy that usual.  For one thing, I like sauce on top of my rice, and so does the kid… and it is an easy way to “extend” the dish…

10 chicken drumsticks, cleaned, rinsed, patted dry
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Marinate the chicken, about 30 minutes to an hour.

1/2 head of pechay (bok choy), sliced into 3-inch pieces

handful of ginger slices

Heat oil in a large pot and sauté the ginger slices until the ginger exudes its fragrance. Add the chicken and cook until browned. Add enough water to cover the meat (or some more).  Let the stew boil then simmer about 45 to 60 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Add the pechay pieces, let simmer until the veggies are cooked but still crunchy. Adjust seasonings as preferred.

Serve over hot rice.

Magic Vanilla Cake

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

The concept of one mixture that makes a 3-layer cake had always fascinated me.  In fact about 10 years ago, I attempted a flan cake – supposedly one bake (2 batters though) that make a 2 layer cake… but I flopped royally…

I bought the book because I was utterly fascinated and it looked easy enough… in my mind perhaps even “no-fail” but… but…

As you cans see, my cake only has 2 layers instead of 3.  My theory?  I think perhaps I over-baked it a tad…

Anyway, hubby and the kid still liked it… enough to request another one (to which I said, next time since I have others on my list to make while the quarantine is still in effect)

I scaled the original recipe to 3/4 of the original and baked it in a 7×3-in round pan with removable bottom… lined of course, so that the batter does not spill or leak.

3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (100g) sugar

Mix for about 4 minutes until thick.  Add –

85g butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

then stir in –

85g (9 tablespoon) flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk

Beat until stiff peaks –

3 egg whties
3/8 tsp cream of tartar

Then fold the yolk batter into the stiffly beaten egg whites.  Leave some blobs of egg white floating on top.

Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about 50 to 55 minutes.  The sides should be firm but the middle should still jiggle slightly (mine did not jiggle in the middle hence my conclusion of having over-baked mine).  Cool completely then chill at least 4 hours.

Sabaw na Kalabasa

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

The first time I tasted this kind of soup was on a date with (then boyfriend) hubby.  But on the menu, it was named/described as Cream of Pumpkin Soup.  I remember asking hubby… meron bang pumpkin dito sa atin?  (do we have pumpkins locally?)  and he replied – pumpkin, squash, kalabasa yan…

Since then we’ve tasted many versions – thick, thin, chunky, sweet, and yes, even awful ones!  The best I think was one from a Chinese gourmet restaurant where they called it Seafood in Pumpkin Soup – it was thick, creamy, and chock-full of seafood bits (fish, squid and shrimp!)

Anyway, my first attempts at making a homemade version were dismal failures, sad to say.  I could never get the proportions right, I suppose.  Well then, I kept on experimenting until I realized, or learned, or discovered… that…

1. the kind of squash is important… in local terms, the best squash to use is the one referred to as malagkitsticky… my indicator is a dark orange color (as opposed to a yellowish one)

2. use minimal water… add just enough to barely cover the cubed squash.

3. a hand blender is a great blessing!  when the squash is cooked and soft, turn the heat to low and let the hand blender work its magic.

4. add cooking cream with a light hand.  the star of the show is the squash!

5. season with salt and pepper… then add a couple of turns of fresh nutmeg from the grinder…

Lastly, if adding chopped seafood, precook (saute) the seafood then add to the soup right around the time the cooking cream is added.

Enjoy!!!

Menudo

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

Menudo, Filipino-style of course, is a regular in our household.  It doesn’t make as many rounds as adobo but it is a favortie nontheless.  Of course during this time of quarantine, some modifications were made due to existing circumstances but it remains mostly faithful …

My recipe…

800 grams pork shoulder, skin and fat trimmed off
200 grams pork liver, cleaned and trimmed
2 thin slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large sweet onion, minced
3 largish tomatoes, sliced
1 can pimientos, sliced
2 medium sized potatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce (optional)
3 pieces dried bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Dice or cube the pork and liver in roughly the same size (I like the pieces in 1-inch cubes). Marinate in a little soy sauce for about 10 minutes.

Saute the ginger and flash fry the liver. Remove from the pan and discard the ginger.

Saute the garlic and onion until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and pimientos. Stir fry several minutes then throw in the pork and stir fry a couple of minutes. Add the tomato sauce, if using, and the potatoes. Pour enough water or stock to barely cover the meat and potatoes. Season to taste. Throw in the bay leaves. Let simmer until pork is cooked and sauce is slightly thickened and reduced. Put back the liver and remove from heat once the mixture comes to a soft boil.

Serve on top of steamed rice!

The main difference from the previous versions is that this time around, I deliberately made the dish saucier.  The reason?  To extend the dish!  🙂

Chicken in Milk

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

The first time I made this dish was a good 5 years ago.  I was at a second-hand bookstore when I found a second-hand copy of Jamie Oliver’s “Happy Days with the Naked Chef”.  I flipped through the pages and was intrigued with his Baked Chicken in Milk.

That time I used fresh sage from our garden… this time around I no longer had the sage plant – let’s just say the doggies found it an interesting toy and shredded the poor plants into smithereens!

What I used instead was my marjoram.  And I placed some thin potato slices under the chicken (in the milk).

Still yummmm!

 

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”…