i don't know if i've mentioned this, but i'm not a cookie person. they're not the first baked good i want to eat, nor make. but, my mom wanted oatmeal cookies, so i obliged. i made these from a so-tweaked-its-no-longer-anything-like-the-original-recipe recipe i found on the web (hence, no link, because it's really not the same cookie).
1 c. loosely packed brown sugar
1 c. unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 c. dried cherries
1 c. slivered almonds
2 large eggs
1-2 tbsp. golden syrup (optional)
2 c. self-raising flour
1 1/2 c. flaked oats
1/4 tsp. baking soda
cream sugar and butter. add eggs and golden syrup; mix well. meanwhile cook cherries in water (to cover) in microwave for about a minute to plump them up. discard half the liquid, cool. mix flour, baking soda, oats and nuts together. add cherries and cooking liquid to the wet ingredients; mix well. loosely fold the dry ingredients in, leave batter to sit for at least half an hour (can be refrigerated overnight, but the cookie texture will be different). drop teaspoons of the batter onto a greased cookie sheet. bake 13-15 minutes at 350˚F. cool before storing.
they are soft, a little chewy, and not particularly sweet. i slightly undercooked half the batch, to see if they'd become chewier (not really), then baked the other half until golden brown for crispy edges. i have to confess, i thought these cookies were just okay. other people loved them, though, and my mom liked them enough to request a second batch.
tomato basil (what's that? ok, whatever) cheesy bread
the teenage relations are addicted to pizza, but their folks are (understandably) loathe to constantly part with the dosh for the pie to sate their seemingly endless appetites. these growing (fortunately more up than out) kids range from 11 to 17, and their ability to hoover down the goods is mind-boggling.
so, one afternoon, i taught them a simple, relatively fast and fumbleproof bread recipe so they could make their own pizza-like creations. since the emphasis was more on cheap than authentic, we made focaccia-like pan breads which they could top with whatever was in fridge.
the basic dough recipe is 3 cups flour, 1 cup water, 1 packet of yeast, 1 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp. of sugar, 1 glug of olive oil. mix and knead until smooth, throw into a large storage bag or container and leave to rise for 1 hour at room temperature or overnight (or, during school) in the refrigerator. oil a baking pan, smoosh dough gently with fingertips to fit the pan, leave for at least a half hour, ideally an hour (do some homework already!), top with stuff, bung into an oven heated to 400ºF, for 20-25 minutes, depending on the shape of the pan. easy enough for kids to remember, filling enough for their guts, and cheap enough for them to be left with more money for (sigh) more ps2 games.
ham and cheesy bread
these are the chamorro version of empanada, a filled pie or turnover. the local version is filled with ground, toasted rice cooked into a mush flavoured with chilis, pepper, and garlic then coloured with achote(ah-chó-teh), otherwise known as annatto. the rice is sometimes cooked with a stewing chicken, to give it a richer flavour, but the meat is rarely included. the shell is made from masa harina and is also coloured with achote, and the whole thing is deep fried. it's both bland and spicy, crunchy and mushy. it's basically a vehicle for chili peppers and a way of filling up yer belly. v. addictive.
i bought these at my friendly neighbourhood convenience market. actually, it's not so friendly, and it isn't in my neighbourhood, so it wasn't that convenient. but neither is making these. take a gander at the recipe at the greatly named website Hey Nene! Come Kiss Your Auntie Charo!. the second i saw the ingredients list (8 cups of rice, a 15 pound bag of masa), i knew it was best left to the experts.
i don't know why this is normally called banana bread, it seems more cake-like to me. the original recipe is a quickbread recipe from a bed+breakfast in hawaii--i've never been there, but it was the best recipe from the long list of b-bread recipes i've tried. it is super-moist, actually tastes like there might be bananas innit, and given my haphazard nature, almost foolproof. i've tweaked it only slightly, but it's more exact than my usual fistful/glug directions.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. dessicated coconut
1/2 c. almond slivers
cream butter and add sugar, a little at a time. beat in eggs. add vanilla, bananas, and sour cream; mix well. sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; mix well. add coconut and almonds. pour into a lightly greased square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until done.
my favourite comfort food: multivits, spirulina, and a glass of ribena. oh, and an ibuprofen for dessert.
did i say something about a sunny day? shazbot! another storm on the way.
on the other hand, my latest attempt at brioche was the most successful to date. a little fluffy though.
our first sunny afternoon in weeks. glorious. soundtrack can be found here (p77-007 mix, look for thora+steve).
suman(súmahn) is the filipino steamed rice cake. it comes in as many different forms as there are provinces, but the basic recipe is waxy (sweet) rice wrapped in leaves, then cooked.
rose makes the best suman i've ever tasted. i don't know how she does it, but they consistently have the distinct taste of whatever leaf she uses, the rice grains retain their integrity, and the whole packet doesn't become a goopy, gloopy mess.
before the storm she made suman sa lihiya, which is waxy rice soaked in lye, then wrapped in banana leaves, and boiled for a couple of hours. it is served with sugar and freshly grated coconut, or with latik (lah-téek)--coconut milk solids that are formed when boiling fresh coconut milk.
one of the things you come to expect during a typhoon is that the power will go out. no one ever knows when or for how long, so you and your freezer are at the mercy of the power company. if you are a filipino, this generally means one thing: time to make adobo.
filipino adobo and the latin american adobado are both derived from the spanish word adobar, which means "to stew". i am mostly unfamiliar with the latin version of adobo, but i believe it mostly has to do with chiles that are roasted and stewed in vinegar, garlic, and onion, then pureed and used as a marinade for foods that can be further cooked by other methods. filipino adobo can be made with almost any ingredients, but the heart of it is the stewing mixture, which is one part soy sauce to two parts vinegar, water, minced garlic, chopped onions, black pepper and bay leaves. it is the copious amount of vinegar that make it a typhoon food--the vinegar acts as a preservative, so the dish can stand for quite some time without refrigeration (another hint: if you are making a pot of rice that needs to sit out for spell, add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to the pot before cooking; it will keep for much longer). you can add a variety of meats and starches, and some even add vegetables--whatever takes your fancy.
everybody has a different recipe for adobo. mine comes from the province of pampanga, in the philippines. kapampangans, or natives of this region in central luzon, are well-known for their cuisine and cooking skills. my family (on both sides) is from there, and there are many excellent cooks on either side.
of course, no one ever really writes down a recipe, and amounts are usually discussed in terms of finger lengths and strange gesturings. i'll take a stab at it, but i can't guarantee that what you'll end up with is what you're looking for. you should end up with a meat stew that is savoury and slightly sharp, with meltingly soft onions and sweet garlic throughout.
sauté a head or so of garlic, minced finely, in a couple tablespoons of oil, until lightly browned. add 2 chopped yellow onions, continue until softened.
in a dutch oven or heavy pot, place a 3 to 4 lb. fryer chicken, cut into pieces, and chunkily cut russet potatoes (depending on the size of yr taters, 3 should do it). add 1 part soy sauce to 2 parts vinegar and 2 parts water (you want this to just cover the ingredients). add a fistful of bay leaves and peppercorns, and bring to a boil.
add the sautéed onions and garlic to the pot. return the pan to the fire, and add more oil. take the chicken out of the boiling mixture, and brown in the heated oil. this will keep the chicken from falling apart in the stew, and add extra flavour and texture.
mikey waits for something, anything, to come leaping out of the pan.
when the chicken has been evenly browned, drain/pat off the excess oil from the meat, and return it to the boiling pot. reduce to a simmer, until the stock has thickened, and the potatoes are cooked through, roughly 30 to 45 minutes.
serve with steamed rice, and a rough salsa of chopped tomatoes and cilantro to lighten the flavour.
a present from steven. two little crickets or grasshoppers, two larvae, coated in white chocolate and milk chocolate. they were a little bleah. kinda like pencil shavings coated in some hydrogenated candy product. here you can see the larvae trying to escape its congealed shell:
tiny sea crabs, dipped in seasoned flour, then deep fried. not your every day pulutan (filipino finger food, beer food).
it's only fair that since i blogged about smoo, i should blog about the other familial pets, mikey (top) and pig (curled up). they are no less beloved, just far more camera shy.
they eat dog food. they sleep in the kitchen.
that's pretty much it.
sunday started early; i had spent the morning checking out work and living spaces, clearing, shuttering, securing. even though we had started yesterday, there's always something else. winds started picking up on saturday night, and by noon were at 20 to 30 mph. right about then i remembered i hadn't eaten yet, but with the typhoon quickly approaching (3 hours and counting), few places were open. there is a fuji-ichiban ramen shop that is always open, i thought i would chance it. luckily, it was open. unluckily, it was packed, and there wasn't any parking available. ominously, as i searched for a space, i peered into the window and realised that there was someone being arrested inside. okaaay. there's a smaller branch, just up the street, so i headed there.
ah, only two tables occupied; i sat at the counter. the only sounds besides the howling wind were the drone of the newscaster on the radio, giving updates on the storm and the faint sizzle of cooking in the back. 30 to 40 mph winds by 4pm...shelters in the north are full...this is a very dangerous storm..... the other diners had grim faces and were silent. two older men sat towards the front, staring blankly out the rain spattered window, nursing beers. the family in the back had their heads down in their ramen, determinedly eating with no joy. a little girl whined petulantly, but softly, knowing there would be nothing to appease her. i ordered something that would be fast and filling, and just then, the lights went out. the waitress looked at me, with her mouth set in a straight line and a look that said this is when it begins. the door gusted open, as if to affirm her thought.
as i waited for my food, the waitress picked up a mop and a squeegee, and set futilely to stem the tide at the door. try to catch the deluge in a paper cup....the two men decided now was a good a time as any to leave, and the family in the back discussed getting a hotel room across the street, instead of trying to make it home. the woman peered at it. "no shutters." she murmured. "last time they had to evacuate everyone. we're safer at home." so they quickly gathered up their things, paid the bill, and i was left alone with the waitress and the lone cook.
the cook came over with my food. "how long do you have to stay here?" i asked. he shrugged. "i don't know. our boss wants us to stay. but he's safe at home." "i should be your last customer." mild outrage poured out of me. i ate my food without thinking about it, but knowing i needed to fill my stomach. it was only after i finished my last gyoza that i realised today was imbb day. there was nothing cute about these dumplings, no comfort, no joy, no reassurance, despite the fact that they were hot and nourishing. i paid my bill, left a generous tip and advised the staff to leave, and literally took off, myself.
sometimes food is just food.
guam is in the middle of a typhoon sandwich, with chaba to the east, and aere to the west. aere is just a tropical storm, but her swift upward track to japan means that chaba can't go north, which means she'll most likely hit the island sometime tomorrow.
right now chaba is holding at only 80 mph with 100mph gusts, so if she hits, it won't be horrible. however, chaba is expected to become a supertyphoon within 72 hours. hopefully, she won't slow down on her way here!! in 2001, we had two supertyphoons within 6 months of each other that both had winds in excess of 165 mph/190mph gusts. needless to say, it was a harrowing, horrible time.
anyway, i think i'm still a little shellshocked from then, so i'm not looking forward to sunday. so much for imbb!
i'll be tracking chaba's progress on my other blog, if you're interested. and, if you're interested, think good thoughts (i'll take your prayers too) for us over here!
i love reading about food; i read far more food-related sites than i have listed on the sidebar, i comb used bookshops for out-of-print cookbooks that pertain to asian or pacific cuisines, i buy and read far more cookbooks than i'll ever actually use. when it comes to magazines, however, i'm like a crazy woman. i *love* magazines. i love the glossy paper and the pretty photos, the layout, the up-to-the-minute news and techniques, the surprise of getting one in the mail, and finding the time to pore through one from cover to cover.
unfortunately, one of my favourites is no more: eat magazine, an english language food magazine based in tokyo, folded in april, after four years and 16 issues. it was one of the funkiest magazines i have ever come across. each issue would take a theme and run with it: the first issue was entitled "temptation" and included essays on what they thought was the sexiest fruit, what food drove religious types to distraction, the most memorable meals they've ever had. my favourite issue was number 8: ritual, which shared the secrets of wine and cheese service, attended a jewish wedding in romania, exposed the oddities of japanese christmas and the intricacy of asian death rituals. not only was the writing first rate, but the packaging was exquisite--each magazine was crafted as finely as any art book.
i know that my current collection of publications screams bin! ebay! firetrap! but it will be a very long time before i part with any of my copies of this particular magazine. their website is still up, and back issues are still available. the publishers promise to return in another form sometime, but sometime isn't soon enough for me!
and satsumas, oranges, mangoes, apples, pears, grapes(if you peel them).
everybody, this is smoo. smoo, this is everybody.
this is from aji-hey! (or is it aji-hey!! ?), an izakaya-style restaurant in front of my condo. they just opened a bento place in our office building as well, so there's no escaping them! another name i like to say: aji-heeeey-what's that? aji-hey! where are you going with that?! it's run by an insanely cute japanese couple, and it features 6-8 different bento boxes each day.
this one is soooo girly, it's all about the grazing, with each element in the forest of food consisting of one or two bites each. starting from the top left-hand corner, going clockwise: fried salmon chunks pickled with radish and carrot, a corn croquette, shu mai, shoyu-cooked hot dog, karaage fried chicken, a cherry, a piece of pumpkin stewed in soy and mirin, tamago egg omelette, a tiny panko breadcrumb-coated prawn, grilled salmon, and pickles. >whew!< did i forget anything?
aji-hey bento/snack house
itc building, tamuning
mostly inspired by reid's post, but also by the gold medal winning japanese men's gymnastics team, harrrrrr....
unagi uramaki with radish sprouts, butter lettuce, cucumbers, covered in dynamite sauce made with japanese mayonnaise, masago roe, thai chili sauce, sesame oil, brushed with unagi sauce and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, then broiled.
dog has moved roughly 4.8 inches in 48 hours
how much do i love saying that word? okonomiyaki! oh! kono meeeyakeee...oh, kono? miyaki! okay, *enough*. kind of a cross between a pizza and an omelette, generally made from flour, eggs, cabbage, shrimp (or in this case octopus) then topped with bonito shavings, aonori (dried green seaweed), a brown sauce which is a type of thick worcestershire sauce, and japanese-style mayonnaise. okonomiyaki restaurants are usually a place for friends to gather and have a cheap and cheerful meal; okonomiyaki at home usually means you're cleaning out the fridge....
part of the eating olympics, btw.
watching world class sporting events such as the athens olympics really makes me want to sit back and eat a ton of junk food--albeit a better class of junk food. go figure.
oven-baked potato wedges dusted in garam masala and sprayed lightly with olive oil before baking, served with a raita made from plain yogurt, thinly sliced cucumbers, mint, and sliced onions.
kaiso salad with noodles--a mix of various seaweeds, harusame (yam starch) noodles, with a rice vinegar dressing.
playlist: cocteau twins, massive attack, kate bush.
black food for a black mood--you hear that blogger?!
squid ink spaghetti with a sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, bell peppers, carrots, chili peppers, and copious amounts of squid ink.
playlist: nick cave, birthday party, crime+the city solution, big black, this mortal coil.
what was up with the traffic today? okay, it's friday (the 13th), it's raining, a power line went down, but why did everyone have completely outer limits and forget every traffic law known to humanity??!!!
i was having some sort of...episode, so somewhere in between lying to everyone else about doing an errand and actually doing it, i stopped by bestseller books and café, bought a book i never thought i'd buy, had a lovely herby tea (khan's delight--a mix of hibiscus, lemongrass, and mint), and a cardiac arrest disguised as an almond croissant. which was not just an almond croissant, but split, slathered with sweet cream butter and sprinkled with crushed almonds and sugar, then toasted. ?? a sacrilege, surely, a travesty, okay, but durn it if i didn't scarf that pillowy pastry down....
there are a few restaurants in our office building, but the one i go to the most is phô, a vietnamese restaurant which specialises in (cough) phô, a noodle-rrific soup. i will confess that i don't actually like phô all that much (i like dry noodles more than wet ones), but there's plenty of other items on the menu for me.
the thing i usually order to go is cold noodles (or as it's sometimes known at phô, cold noodle noodles)--a salad of rice vermicelli noodles, barbecued meats, various shredded raw veggies, and crushed peanuts. it's served with a too fishy fish sauce and vinegar, so sometimes i swap it out with a peanut sauce or finadene.
it is a lovely, lovely dish, especially on hot summer days, but a series of unfortunate events involving long lines and traffic, led me astray and i filled my belly with somethin' else. eh. i'll have it for dinner.
i don't like making brownies, but other people like eating the brownies i make! this is the fourth batch this week.
fabrienne is back home for awhile; she's my favourite vegan. i thought i would make her some vegan cookie bars, based on an anzac biscuit recipe: flour, oats, coconut, coconut oil, date sugar, and a hefty amount of golden syrup (hey just because they're vegan doesn't mean they're good for you!).
today's bento was okay, some pork and onion sticks covered in panko-style breadcrumbs and fried (not as interesting as reid's surprise bento, imo).
the reason i picked it over whatever else was there was because it had my favourite pickled item, some dense black threads of something. seaweed? fungus? fern? purple perilla stalks? it's not too salty, has a sort of seawater-y taste, and it's quite mild, with bits of something soft and sort of orangy yellow throughout. anyway, i'd appreciate it if someone let me know what it's really made of and what it's called....
inside a look at my cold black heart
oven roasted tomatoes in a parmesan-fontina-gruyere-pecorino short crust pastry shell.
i got these mini tomatoes from tokyo mart the other day. they are this vivid so-red-its-almost-pink red, tiny (about 1½ inches in diameter), and look more like pin cushions than actual tomaters. they are really cute.
they are also really odd; besides the crazy red colour, the stems are super-furry, the skin is tough (easy to peel, though), and this is what they look like when cut open:
no seeds! not a one! wha? they are very flavourful, too. without the seeds, they are not watery, not bitter at all. it is as if someone took a bigger tomato, scooped out some flesh with a melon baller, then covered it with a bio-engineered skin. the closest i can come to describing the taste is that its like a fresh version of a sun-dried tomato--concentrated, sweet, raisiny, without a trace of saltiness or bitterness.
the label is so completely unhelpful, so i don't know what variety of fruit this is. i think it might be a ceylon tomato but i'm not sure. does anyone know?
a tregroes toffee waffle--two paper-thin waffles sandwiching a layer of buttery caramel--placed over a steaming mug of café con leche (coffee with milk), so the spicy, milky candy layer oozes invitingly over the crispy cookies....
you can get disinherited for not serving this!
pochero, a filipino stew made (in this case) with chicken, pork chunks, pechay (i think it's also known as pak choi), potatoes, sweet potatoes, and saba bananas, in a garlic, onion, annatto-infused broth.
everyone is in a really vile mood. my mother is watching a hideous lifetime made-for-television movie, my father is kvetching about the n-teenth severed phone cord (don't ask), i'm bored in my flat so i'm here watching the damn made-for-television movie and installing a new phone cord.
made a very seventies ladies-who-lunch salad that used to be very popular on island but has fallen out of favour in the recent years. i used to see it at every fiesta and at a lot of fast food places, but towards the end, it was a gloopy mess, which is probably the reason for its demise. however, i'm surprised it hasn't made a comeback because it seems relatively atkins friendly: all it is imitation crab (which i think is real fish), steamed broccoli florets, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt and pepper. squeeze out all the excess liquid from the krab and the broccoli, mix all the ingredients, let sit in the fridge for a bit, serve with wedges of lemon and you've got lunch for a bunch of women in floppy hats. yay.