Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Burnt Bread

Now, this is not a science project gone bad. It's bread, burnt intentionally! I know that in this age of scented candles, any home would have an assortment of it. Yet they can be slow in getting rid of that overwelming cooked fish smell. Cooking often does, leave a repelling smell in the kitchen. So, here's an ingenous remedy for one of those stir-fried dinner nights. Remember that old bread sitting on the kitchen counter? All you need to do is take a piece of it and hold it with a tong. Place it on top of the stove and let it burn a bit. This won't give the room a fresh spring scent but will surely nautralize the smell from garlicee to bread, fresh out of the oven. Another alternative is to place it in a toaster..., and Voila! Oh, just make sure to leave the windows open. You wouldn't wanna set off the fire alarm.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chow Mein Noodles with Hoisin Sauce

Whether you're celebrating President's Day or the Chinese New Year, here's a delightful quick, picnic fix for an exciting weekend holiday. Most of these ingredients are available at your local asian supermarket.

5 oz. Chow Mein Noodles (available cooked )
1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce (Chinese barbecue sauce)
2 tbsp. Lite Soy Sauce
1/2 Oyster sauce
1/2 cup Beef stock
1 tbsp. Sesame oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, julliene.
2 oz. *Brocolli florettes; steamed or boiled.
1 clove of garlic
Ground white pepper
Roasted Sesame seeds
3 oz. **Steak; roasted, then sliced thin
Coriander, chopped.
Green onions, chopped
1 tsp. Vegetable oil for sauteing.
In a small bowl, whisk together hoisin, soy sauce, beef stock, sesame oil. Set aside. This will be your sauce. Pre-heat pan and lightly saute garlic and julliene onions in vegetable oil. Toss in the cooked Chow mein noodles and saute'. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Add the sauce and let it coat by mixing under medium heat. Let cool before transfering the noodles into a to-go container. Lay the slices of roasted steak on top and drizzle with oyster sauce. Granish with chopped coriander and green onions. Place the cooked brocolli on the side along with slice of lemon and close the lid to keep it hot. This recipe is for a single yield.
Regular brocolli maybe substituted with chinese brocolli or baby bokchoy. Cooked shrimps may replace steak.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuna and Avocado Tartare on Wonton Crisps

Here's an exciting party hors d' ouvre that needs no cooking. It's so easy! All you need to do is chop,mince and stir. I've seen it to be a hit in each of my gathering and it could be a favorite on yours too.


The Wonton Crisps:
12 square wonton wrappers (each cut diagonally in half to form 2 triangles)
Olive oil (for brushing)
Sesame seeds

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. wasabi paste* ( available in powder or in a tube )
3/4 tsp. sesame oil
8 oz. sushi grade, ahi tuna steak (minced)
1 medium avocado (halved, pitted, peeled, minced)
1 cup seeded cucumber (minced)
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Toasted sesame seeds
Chopped fresh chives


For crisps:

This may be prepared ahead of time and will stay crispy for hours under room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange wonton triangles on sheet; brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until triangles are golden brown for about 9 minutes. Cool on sheet.

For tartare:

In a bowl, mix first 5 ingredients. Add tuna, avocado, cucumber, and shallot; combine gently and allow an even coating. Carefully spoon tartare with wonton crisps and place on a platter; then sprinkle with chives and serve. Good for 6-8 servings.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Home-made Cheese and Sour Dough Bread

We're all familiar with milk being right on time when it comes to expiration dates. I'm one that keeps a watchfull eye on these things 'cuz food that goes to waste is...well, wastefull. So, a few days before milk in the fridge go sour, I like turning them into cheese. My procedure is very simple: First, you need milk. A gallon makes a pound of cheese. Heat it up in a stainless steel pot. Be carefull not to burn the milk. Cool it down a bit, pour about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of distilled vinegar. Typically, rennet is used in cheese making but remember that this is homemade. This will react to the cuagulation of milk protein. You will notice a separation happening on your milk. The watery substance is called "Whey" while the solid white matters is the "curd". Curd, after passing it thru a fine sieve layered with cheese cloth is cheese. Seasoning this with salt is optional but recommended. The cheese I made is only partially drained as I wished to create a more creamy, somewhat moist product. Pretty much like cottage cheese...very ideal for spreading.

Sourdough bread is made by using a small amount (20-25%) of "starter" dough (often known as "the mother sponge"), which has the yeast culture, and mixing it with new flour and water. Part of this resulting dough is then saved to use as the starter for the next batch. As long as the starter dough is fed flour and water daily the sourdough mixture can stay in room temperature indefinitely and remain healthy and usable. It is not uncommon to have a baker's starter dough that has had years of history, from many hundreds of previous batches. As a result each bakery's sourdough has a distinct taste. The combination of “starter”, yeast culture and air temperature, humidity and elevation also makes each batch of sourdough different.

This may sound like a science project but it's quite simple and the bread comes out very tasty. Of course, my dough didn't have years of history in it. My starter dough was only a week old which I derived from a previous batch. Sourdough bread is popular, not only for it's wonderful flavor but also for it's distinct character.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Roulade of Chicken Breast with Fettuccini

Not too long ago, I’ve helped a friend celebrate her Birthday. She had a craving for pasta and requested for such. So, I made a wonderful fettuccini dish. Here’s what I did. For the roulade: Place half a chicken breast on a clean work place or cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. This way you won’t have any pieces of chicken splattering all over the place when you pound it flat. Then season with salt and ground black pepper. Sprinkle the inside with fresh or dried thyme and rosemary. Then, layer with Pancetta. PANCETTA is Italian bacon. Strips of regular bacon would do as well. Then gently roll up the chicken tightly. Secure the end with toothpicks or tie with butcher’s twine.

In a hot skillet with olive oil, sear the chicken rolls on all sides (seam first); then finish cooking in the pre-heated oven to 165 *F internal temperature. It is best to have a meat thermometer in the kitchen. That way you won’t have to worry about serving either undercooked or burnt dishes. You could buy one for as cheap as $4.00. Once the chicken is done, hold it hot in any desired container while making the sauce.

The Sauce: In the same skillet, add a bit of melted butter and sauté a few whole cloves of garlic. Add some chanterelle mushrooms and lightly sauté. Sprinkle with some bread flour to make a roux. A ROUX is a thickener used in making sauces or soups. Keep the heat to medium. Do not brown the flour. Deglaze with chicken stock and white wine and whisk until it is free of lumps. Add a bit of cream or milk and simmer. Allow some crumbled blue cheese to melt with the mixture. Sprinkle some finely chopped parsley and season with salt and ground white pepper. Add the cooked fettuccini and allow the sauce to coat.

Mound the pasta on the center of the plate, topped with biased cuts of seared chicken roulade. Serve and enjoy this great dish.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Island Banana Blossom Salad

I was out in one of the many beautiful islands in the Philippines and had a pleasure of preparing a fabulous feast for an important dinner event. I like to share one dish that became closest to my heart...the guests loved it too. This is a new twist to an old favorite in the Samar region. A salad of creamed Banana blossoms.

Banana blossoms are usually available in asian supermarkets in either fresh or canned form. If you're getting them fresh, strip off the first few layers. This tends to be dry and tough. So you want to use the inner, paler layers. Cut them lengthwise and put them in a pot of salted boiling water. Let it poach until done for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing in a bowl by whisking together heavy cream and a bit of lemon juice until smooth. Flavor the mixture with a bit of fresh coconut milk (canned are also available in stores). Slightly sweeten with a small amount of sugar or honey. Add some minced ginger and season with ground white pepper and sea salt.

Cool the cooked banana blossoms then slice thinly. Lighty squeeze out the excess liquid and place in a bowl. Garnish with chopped red bell peppers and red onions. Gently toss the ingredients together and fold in the dressing. Sprinkle with some chopped chives and parsley. Serve chilled

Monday, August 28, 2006

CALDO de POLLO, misen place

Every culture has its own heartwarming and comforting soup; In Mexico it’s called Caldo de Pollo. It is a clear stew of chicken with flavorful vegetables and savory herbs. In English, it’s essentially chicken soup. Certainly other customs have another name for it as well along with their own precious ingredients. I’ve playfully taken the pleasure of incorporating these various influences and created a especially brilliant soupy dish which for me is simply,…dinner.


Whole Chicken, chopped
3 Celery stalks, chopped
4 Red Rose potatoes, small size
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Onion, large
6 oz. Green beans, ends snapped
Head of Cabbage, quartered
8 oz. Squash, large dice
2 whole Corn, fresh or frozen and chopped
2 Plantain Banana, chopped
Coriander, chopped
3 oz. Ginger
Bay leaf
Black pepper corn
Star anise
2 tsp. fried Garlic (available in asian stores)
1 quart of water

Boil chopped chicken parts and onions in water with salt, seasoned with black pepper corn, star anise, cloves, and ginger wrapped in a cheese cloth, "sachet". Bring the broth down to a simmer after it had boiled. Allow chicken to cook, carefully skimming off the scum that forms on the surface. Add the potatoes followed with green beans, carrot, plantain, squash, celery, cabbages and corn. Let the vegetables cook then adjust the salt. Finish with chopped coriander and sprinkle with fried garlic.

Note: Discard the bag of herbs before service.