E’s Baking Day, Pandesal…

E has been baking up a storm – of loaves!

But this time around he wanted to learn how to make pandesal.  Of course I was more than willing to oblige.

Pandesal is bread that we grew up with.  Back then it seemed that all the neighborhoods had a panaderia that churned out freshly baked pandesal throughout the day.  In our neighborhood, it was about 3 blocks away.  It was open 24 hours everyday and during the school year, we would buy pandesal at 5 o’clock in the mornng.  But when school was out, we would take our dogs for a walk around the neighborhood at midnight and head to the bakery!  Aside from pandesal, I would buy Spanish bread and ensaymada!

Pandesal, literally, means salted bread.  It is ironic, though, because pandesal is actually a bit sweet.

I couldn’t find a no-knead recipe for pandesal so basically I used the basic no-knead recipe I’ve using but I added sugar!  I also substituted part of the water with an egg.

It was a success!  At least for my half of the dough… as pandesal I mean…

When E realized that making the pandesal was more complicated than he thought, he decided that his half of the dough would be baked as a boule!

 

 

 

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THE Brownies!

I was ten years old when I started baking.  My favorite?  Peanut Butter Cookies.  My siblings’ and mom’s favorite?  Brownies.  My mom liked a particular kind of brownies so much that we (although it really means just me) experimented for several years to get it the way we (she) liked it.

And this is IT.

A not-too-sweet, dense, fudge-y, deeply chocolate-y brownie, with a thin, crispy top layer.

Everybody liked it.  I even made tons of it (figuratively) to sell at Christmastime.  I had determined that my last baking day was the 22nd, but I kept getting orders all the way up to New Year’s!

We were always getting requests for the recipe.  My mom wouldn’t give it (even now she refuses to share her recipes!) except for very close relatives.

How is it relevant today?

Well, basically it is because my mother and I have a complicated relationship.  But we found a common ground in cooking/baking.  From there, we developed a workable relationship.  Even today, when we have misunderstandings and breaks in our relationship, we usually reconnect over matters involving cooking and baking.

So, these brownies…

(Sorry I don’t have permission to share the recipe)

it’s special because it was the beginning…

 

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!

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes is the one by Nestle.  It is a classic after all and it is said that it is the original chocolate chip cookie.

We shouldn’t mess with something that has proven, right?  But I have read online that browning butter in recipes make the end product even better.  So I decided to brown the butter.  The results were fantastic!!!

(Note –  I halved the recipe because 4 to 5 dozen cookies are too much for us)

1/2 cup browned, melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/8 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

(To get 1/2 cup browned butter, start with 3/4 cup butter.  Melt until it is browned.  Pour into a glass liquid measuring cup with the lovely browned bits up to the 1/2 level.  There may be some melted butter left depending on the butter used.  Leave to cool before using.)

Beat the browned butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Add the combined dry ingredients in 3 additions.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop or scoop onto paper-lined cookie sheets.  Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.

yum yum yum!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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.

 

 

E’s Maple-Walnut Loaf

Remember brother E who came over a couple of weekends ago because he wanted to learn how to bake a loaf?  Well, he’s a fast learner and now he has baked his own Maple Walnut Loaf.

The recipe is (still) a variant of the (now quite popular) basic loaf recipe.  A few minor adjustments and a new flavor appears!

The recipe, adjusted

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar (reduced from the original 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup neutral cooking oil or melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream

First, preheat the oven to 325F. Grease, line and re-grease a medium loaf pan.

Mix all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the liquid ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Spoon batter into the prepare loaf pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cover with foil if the top gets too browned. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

 

 

Irish Cream Flan Cake

It was delicious, everyone said.  But it did not look as I thought it would.

I’d always imagined it (as I’d seen other flan cakes) as a cake with a flan layer on top.  Mine came out with a thin layer on top and some flan on the sides.  I don’t know what happened.

At least it was fully cooked this time.

The first time I tried it, a good 5 or so years ago, I ended up with a big goopy mess!  All over the floor!

I followed the recipe and baked accordingly, or so I thought.  I turned the pan over into a plate and whoosh… like a wave and into the floor!

Long story short… this flan cake is (next to the ensaymada and my mom’s apple pie) my waterloo.  But I will keep trying!