even though my kitchen isn't quite finished, i'm beginning to map out renovation of my folks' kitchen. i have a pretty good idea of what i want to do in there, but i'm still in the planning stage.
has anyone done any kitchen renovation? is there anything you absolutely LOVE about your space or something you would absolutely change, given the chance?
do you have a dream appliance? i have to say, i would love a kim chee refrigerator for home kim chee fermentation. hey! it's my fantasy. in it, i eat a lot of kim chee.
quick cucumber salad to go with your red rice and barbecue: chop up some cucumbers, add to finadene.
now how simple is that?
a staple at guam fiestas and on party plates is red rice. it is most likely a bastardization of paella, the saffron-tinted rice dish from spain. saffron threads are from the stamen of the crocus sativa which is indigenous to western asia, but is not found on guam. its substitute is achote, or annatto seed, which is found in the pods delightfully named bixa orellana, a shrub originally from the carribbean but transplanted on the islands during the spanish exploration days. achote does not have a noticeable flavour, but when the seeds are soaked in water, it imparts a distinctive orange-red dye, which is essential to the dish.
for this recipe, prepare 3 cups of short grained rice for cooking in a rice cooker. set aside.
sautée one finely chopped medium yellow onion (or half a large one), with 6 to 8 slices of smoky streaky bacon, chopped finely (i cut this bacon rather chunkily, by request). drain off any excess oil, and add this to the rice pot. for a vegetarian version, add a little more onion, and a little hickory or kiawe liquid smoke, if desired.
achote comes in seed form, which must be soaked, but also comes in more convenient powder or liquid forms. i use powder, which can be found in many latino food shops as annatto or achiote. i add one scant tablespoon of the powder for every cup of rice cooked, but adjust it according to your colour preference--i like mine to be more orange, while others prefer a deeper, almost paprika-hued red. close the lid to your cooker, and cook as regular rice.
mix the rice through to distribute the onions and bacon and it's done!
leche flan (léh-che flahn) is a baked or steamed egg and milk custard with a caramel glaze quite popular in the philippines. a typical recipe calls for a dozen egg yolks, condensed milk, and whole milk--a dairy delight. i like leche flan, but can only take it in small doses, as it's quite rich, sweet, thick, and creamy.
i don't exactly recall why i started making lighter flans. i don't think it was for health reasons, but while it's not healthy in any way, this version is probably less bad for you. i do like this better than most, as it's not as cloyingly sweet or that...that...i don't know how to describe it, it's that milky sticky cheese-like texture that bugs me sometimes. but it is still quite sweet, and rich. you will not mistake this for a "diet" recipe.
the typical philippine-style flan is oval shaped and relatively thin; the best mold i've seen is those large flat-bottomed ovoid sardine or mackerel tins (not the ones with the key; did you see "chungking express"? like the ones tony leung had.) if you don't have any, you can use pretty much anything round or oval or even loaf tins.
this recipe is enough for two flans:
6-8 egg yolks, depending on the size of the yolk and how firm you want your flan
1 can condensed milk
dayap or lime zest or vanilla extract or almond extract (i almost always use the citrus zest)
whisk the egg yolks together. add the can of condensed milk, one scant canful of water (swirl it around to get all the milk clinging to the sides), zest or extract. whisk together well. set aside.
the caramel topping is simple. i don't know if i should tell you how simple it can be, so first let me tell you the conventional method: place one cup of white sugar with 1/4th cup of water in a saucepan, cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the sugar begins to caramelize. once it reaches a light golden colour, turn off the heat, but continue stirring. the caramel should darken more to a light maple syrup colour. i'm not sure how long this takes as i usually make the caramel in the microwave, which i think is highly frowned upon, but let me tell you, it works. however, you really have to watch it--it can all go kablooey in seconds. it's best to make it in small batches, so for this recipe, put one-half cup of sugar and two to three tablespoons of water in a heavy glass microwaveable measuring cup (a 2-cup one works best), set microwave at highest setting, zap until it turns light golden colour (about a minute and a half in a 1300watt oven), turn off (it will continue to darken). you will need to stand in front of your microwave and watch the colour intently--it only takes a couple of seconds more for it to get too dark, bitter and acrid. if this sounds dangerous and/or overwhelming, stick to the stove top method. pour the caramel (quickly!) into the bottom of your mold, coat the bottom and a little up the sides (see pretty photo in previous post). this is enough caramel for one mold, so repeat for the second one.
fill each of the coated molds with half the custard mixture. it should not go above 1 1/2 inches from the bottom, unless you want to live dangerously, as any deeper and it may not set properly and collapse on you when you plate it.
me, i like to live dangerously (snort).
place the molds in a larger roasting pan, and then into the oven preheated to 375˚f. pour hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the mold. cook in this bain-marie for 1 hour (up to two hours, if your flan is quite thick) or until the top and sides are firm (the middle might be a little shaky underneath the top, depending on the thickness of your flan). chill for several hours or ideally, overnight.
to unmold your flan, run a sharp knife along the edge, place a plate on top, and holding both plate and mold firmly, invert. the caramel will have thinned considerably, so take care not to spill all the amber loveliness.
update: four out of four flan tasters agree: "it's normal!"
typical guam snack: chicken kelaguen, wrapped in a flour tortilla, for the chamorro on the go.
i buy a lot of cookbooks and food magazines from australia because i think much of the food is suited to island lifestyle and product/produce availability. i look for simple recipes without a lot of pfaff (a little pfaff is good :-)), and of course, gorgeous photos.
i don't think i'd ever made something from a book where the end product looked exactly like the photo, until i discovered bill granger's cookbooks. whatever i cook from any of them looks just as gorgeous as the picture in the book. that is so hot. i am so shallow. luckily, the food tastes as good as it looks, most recipes are easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found with relative ease. whoo, bill.
this cake is from sydney food, one of my favourite cookbooks overall. i would love to reproduce all my favourite recipes from here, but i think buying the book would be the better way to go for all concerned.
**update: i originally had posted the recipe ("sydney food," page 108) but i found it here as well. as i don't quite get the whole copyright issue thingy, just click on the link to get the full recipe.**
notes: i used 2 1/2 cups of blueberries, just because, and a tablespoon of yuzu (a japanese citrus fruit--if you were so inclined, i'd use a mix of lemon and lime) zest in the cake batter. my regular oven wasn't working so i used a tabletop convection oven on non-convection mode (bigger than a toaster oven, smaller than convential oven), and it took almost twice the cooking time, 1 hour and 45 minutes. hm. if anyone decides to try this recipe, could you tell me if the regular cooking time works?
esther and lyndon are probably still celebrating. the little giveaways were chopsticks and a soy sauce bowl, a sachet of tea.
i don't know the couple very well at all; i don't even think they knew i attended. i wonder if they'll ever find out about this post.
the bride's brother made the cake. han is solo no more.
...by producing a bottle with a graphic of what looks to be a typhoon forming over southern japan.
just in time for one of the busiest typhoon/hurricane seasons ever.
i saw a photo of a soup done by rick stein in the september issue of delicious magazine; i had fully intended on following the recipe, but i lost the issue, and i don't really remember what the creamy stuff was--potatoes? cauliflower? earwax? no matter. my cousin's aunt (other other side of family) has a predilection for cooking using visual clues, which can lead to some, uh, interesting results; lasagna made with enchilada sauce and processed american cheese comes to mind (sorry, tita--you do good soup, though). alarmingly, i seem to be picking up on this trait, but thankfully, i seem to stick to relatively "safe" food items (imagine if the soup had been blue...). so, i decided to wing it.
having said that, i'm not so sure about this one. i'm fairly positive i've got the visuals correct, and i'm close enough with the fried linguiça(portuguese sausage)and parsley that i used instead of the chorizo in the rick stein version. for the soup i settled on a garlic-potato soup made from chicken stock, sautéed onions in butter, a couple of potatoes and a head or so of garlic simmered until the potatoes and garlic go soft, a cup of heavy cream, then whizzied through the blender. a little salt, a little white pepper, and i had something very mellow but tasty. i garnished accordingly, and dug in.
the soup was full bodied, but cooking had tempered the bite of the garlic significantly. on its own, it was great, but with the addition of the linguiça (even milder than the chorizo), it became bland and tasteless. the spicy sausage was drowned in the sea of white, like a blanket of mashed potato. sort of a waste, really.
maybe i should have gone for the spicier chorizo. maybe i should look for the magazine.
when i speak of mayonnaise, it's mostly kewpie brand japanese mayonnaise. what makes it different from the american stuff is that it's creamier, slightly sweeter yet slightly tarter, and generally just tastes better to me just because it actually tastes like something. it also comes in this really cool plastic squeeze bottle that has a star-shaped tip, so you've got an instant decoration tool.
had a little leftover salmon, added some basil leaves, a little japanese mayonnaise, and onion sprouts.
onion sprouts. who knew. i didn't.
|[+/-]|my photo service is wigging out on me, making it impossible to post photos. ok, all better now.
so, for your entertainment:
monster mushroom found in scottish field
and, to add to scotland's scariness:
scottish couple grow monster vegs by sprinkling them with rocks
meats and cheeses, wilma! what is going on?
poached salmon, on a bed of potatoes in herby mayonnaise. completely and utterly inspired by/ripped off from a recent post on noodlepie about the incredible burrastow.
i've been drooling over the location and the food for the better part of a week now, so i thought i'd better do something about it. since it was easier to recreate the recipes than come up with $500k (burrastow's for sale!), i went for the salmon. pieman mentioned that the food was like "delia-gone-rough-around-the-edges", so i headed to delia, and found my starting point.
i boiled four largish red potatoes in salted water until tender, drained and cubed them, but left them in the pot to stay warm. i followed delia's recipe for the mayonnaise, but instead of the green herbs she suggested, i used what fresh ones i had: parsley, basil, dill, and mint. i folded the mayonnaise into the warm potatoes, and set them aside.
unfortunately, i didn't have scottish farmed salmon to work with, but that meant that i didn't feel so bad about cooking the fillet in the microwave--maybe sacrilegious, but it really works. i put the 1 3/4 inch thick fillet in a microwaveable dish, seasoned it with salt and pepper, topped it with 1 bay leaf, a generous amount of fresh dill, and a teaspoon sized pat of butter. it was then covered in clingfilm, and zapped at half-power in a 1200 watt microwave for 4 1/2 minutes. perfectly, barely cooked through--not a dried out bit anywhere.
mmmmmmmmm.mmmmf.mmm. i don't know if it's anything like what pieman and noodlegirl had, but it doesn't matter. still pretty darn good.
the 8th edition of IMBB is on, the theme: lift your spirits high! the idea: use wine or spirits as a central component to your recipe.
thought about it, and the only two recipes i have and like that use spirits as a central (actually, *essential*) component, are grilled sea bugs, and cherry marys. couldn't decide which was
cuter sexier, so i tossed a coin, and the latter won. so my IMBB entry is a previous post, the cherry mary.
for those of you bored with olga, here's something else:
oysters on the half shell with salmon roe, chives, tiny diced tomato, and wasabi-vodka ice.
the wasabi-vodka ice is made simply by mixing one cup of water with one ounce of wasabi paste (about 2/3rds of a standard sized tube), and the zest of one lime. freeze, using the monkey method, or put into a resealable bag, freeze, and break up any big crystals intermittently. add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of premium vodka, and spoon onto oysters.
revision: i'm still tinkering with the wasabi ice recipe; i'm thinking better results can be had with 1-1 1/2 cups of soda water (fluffier ice), and 1/4 cup of vodka (less melting).
this one's for chika
coffee jelly drink, made with coffee gelatin cut into cubey shapes, milk, black coffee, and kahlua. the coffee jelly was simply made with a cup of black coffee (i use iron chef sakai coffee, always) and a packet of unflavoured gelatin dissolved through, then set in the fridge.
chika at she who eats has a similar recipe(with cute ducks even); since she posted first, she gets the first glass.
six of us went to dinner at nana's cafe, in tumon. housed in the former sails restaurant, it is one of the last beachside restaurants and bars on the island. nana's is basically a steak and seafood joint (aka surf + turf, beef + reef), but in a weird quasi-formal/completely casual way that only a restaurant owned by japanese corporate management on a dinky tropical island can achieve. the current chef is takuhiko kishimoto, who used to be at seahorse kuramaya (which was demolished last year), and it looks like the menu and the clientele followed him over.
like the seahorse kuramaya, nana's is actually divided into two restaurants--nana's takes care of the "indoor" menu, which focuses on kishimoto-san's strange but tasty cajun and italian infused blends. (yes, i know--cajun and italian, sometimes in the same dish. mostly it's best to forget about this, and just focus on the flavour.) the beachside barbecue is still known as sails, where diners sit around a teppan-yaki style grill right by the ocean, and partake in a jovial beef and beer fest, surrounded by tiki torches and warm tropical breezes. which means no locals would be caught dead there. sticky, nenes, and like, sand gets in *everything*. i think, however, you can get anything from the "outdoor" menu brought inside.
the restaurant itself is one giant room, with plate glass windows that overlook the outdoor dining area and the beach beyond. the room is filled with local nara wood carvings, and tropical wood furniture, which is softened by bamboo matting and palm weavings. the staff is friendly and brisk, despite being undermanned on a busy weekend night. we shared three starters: vegetable summer rolls made from julienned vegetables and glass noodles in a rice wrapper and served with peanut sauce, poached shrimp in a sauce that was a cross between an aioli and a zabaglione--like a frothy mayonnaise spiked with lemon and balsamico, and a mixed seafood cocktail in a fresh tomato sauce and creme fraiche with pink peppercorns.
the summer rolls were good, if standard; the shrimp jarring at first with the sweet seafood and tart creamy sauce, but it grew on you. the seafood cocktail was a bit strange looking, but very refreshing--the tomato sauce was lively and the creme fraiche quite light.
the soup and salad bar used to only be featured at lunch, but is now a part of the dinner service. it's quite small, but fresh, and has a crazy build-your-own miso soup.
the two main entree salads ordered had grilled shrimp and panko breadcrumb- coated soft shell crabs, respectively.
i'm assuming the former was very good, as it was demolished within minutes. pinch was put off by the appearance of her soft shell crabs--she claimed (correctly) that they looked like deep fried tarantulas. the crabs were rather large and fresh, but the heavy breading detracted from the creamy sweetness within. they were also slightly undercooked in the middle, enhancing its ocean-flavour, which is not necessarily a good thing--sometimes, you don't want to know where a crab has been.
we also ordered two seemingly different items--the grilled salmon, and the fried mixed seafood, but both were smothered in that strange aioli-zabaglione sauce, with a few herbs added in. kishimoto-san is known for his skills in the sauce department, but i think he was a little too in love with this one.
it's good, but a little goes a long way. also, the menu did not mention it would be on either dish (in fact, i think the mixed seafood plate at lunch is completely different).
the only two things from the old seahorse menu we ordered were the cajun chicken--a roasted spicy chicken breast with a fricasee of onions, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, garnished with black olives; and cioppino, a mixed seafood stew in a tomato broth. the chicken was as it always was--a surprisingly well-suited blend of strong cajun spices and strong mediterranean vegetables that do not overwhelm the chicken, which actually tastes like chicken (a rarity these days). as for the cioppino, well, who knows. the table next to got the last two servings, but we didn't get short shrifted by the staff--the very kind floor manager brought us a lovely, massive, t-bone steak (alas, not cooked in duck fat), from the "outdoor" menu--grilled and served simply with grilled onions, eggplant, and a very mild finadene. free of charge.
and a complimentary tiramisu.
despite the glitches, and the sauce-that-would-not-go-away, the overall tastiness of the other items, the completely amenable staff, and the lively company made it a great meal. we'll be back (and we'll all order the cioppino to see what happens next).
pale san vitores road, behind the plaza
tilapia in black bean sauce. the tilapia was cut into steaks, fried until golden, then finished in a sauce of made from fermented black beans, garlic, onion, calamansi juice, and water.
what three bands/singers and three foods don't you like that other people do? we're talking rant v rave, here.
ps--i'm hoping more than 3 people will actually respond to this....
i'm told it's really good, but i wouldn't know. i'm so allergic to avocados, i can't touch them or i break out in boils. just looking at this photo makes my throat tighten up.
so why do i make it? people ask for it. it's my own personal "fear factor", s'pose. and i love the fact that in french, the word for 'avocado' is the same word for 'lawyer'.
this is based on a recipe from border grill in santa monica, ca. i love it to pieces, but i wish they would stop adding avocados to my food, even when i specifically ask not to have it in. *sigh*. okay, ingredients: 3 ripe avocados, roughly mashed; the juice from two juicy limes; one red onion, finely chopped, one giant bunch of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped, one habañero pepper, finely chopped (with seeds!), salt and pepper to taste.
mix. eat or stare at it, depending on your allergies.
ps--salsa recipe pretty much the same, only instead of avocados, it's a couple pounds of tomatoes, and an addition of two finely chopped garlic cloves.
part three of the dead bread trilogy
maybe i'm the only person in the world who can't finish a whole croissant, maybe i'm not. whatever. say you have a croissant lying about so long you're about to charge it rent, here's what you do: cut it in half width-wise, not lengthwise, so you have two crescents. if it is rancid, throw it out! if it's dry, hollow out the centers carefully; if it's still flooby, push aside the layers so you create a pocket. beat an egg white with a glug of simple syrup, or any flavoured italian soda syrup, or honey, brush on the inside of the pocket and on the crust, sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake at 350ºf for 10 minutes or until crispy. cool on a rack. fill with your favourite ice cream.
trust me on this one.
one of my favourite places to spend summers is new york city. i used to do it a lot, before mortgages and dog feeding schedules got in the way.
i love everything about the city in the summer, even things that bug me in other seasons, or other places. it's sweltering, but sultry: everyone's a little sluggish, so you move a bit slower; there are so many bodies you can feel heat radiating off someone, but if someone quickens her step, you feel the breeze in her wake. clothes stick to your body, so you wear loosely fitting linens or cotton that get drenched and cling in sudden thunderstorms that make the pavement steam and everything a little blacker before they stop--just as suddenly--and like magic, everything's clear and the edge has been taken out of the day. every colour pops against its grey and gritty backdrop, everything you eat tastes a little more--saltier, sweeter, bitter, better. worse. everything you do, you remember in bright, jagged fragments.
i love walking, walking, walking with someone or no one, through the busy, crowded metropolis that gives way to patches or even acres of green. you jostle for space on the train platform, the concert floor, the coffee line, you find yourself alone in a museum hall, a matinee movie theatre, down by the riverbanks. your eyes ache and your feet blister, but you don't notice because your whole body is trying to absorb and remember the assault of sights, smells, and sounds around you. days end suddenly, nights stretch out and despite your fatigue, you fall into a state of dreamlessness and dreaming--the city's still moving and you can hear it outside your bedroom window. you can even feel the shadows the amber streetlights cast around you. it's at this moment you realise you are so anonymous you've become one with the city, your heartbeats are the same. the city really is at its stillest and darkest just before dawn, and it's only then you can finally drift off to sleep.
why am i telling you this? oh, i don't know. i was reading gothamist, and just daydreaming, i suppose. oh, and i picked up this faboo recipe for summer vegetable cassoulet from dinky, lovely ivo+lulu's.
i am actually eating it at this moment. yeah, it's 1am. i was busy.
it's like a jelly donut, but not!
there is actually some history behind this, it wasn't some weird bit of kitchen god cookery in a panya somewhere in tokyo (actually, maybe it is a little). this bit of strange genius was created by toyoharu nakada at catlea bakery in 1927. who knows what he was thinking when he decided to encase curried fillings (this one is veggie, but i've had chicken, beef, and a scary tuna one) in a deep fried, panko-covered sweet dough.
i'll bet apu sells these at the qwik-e mart.
pain perdu with warm guava preserves and mascarpone
part two in the dead bread trilogy
pain perdu, literally "forgotten bread" in french, aka french toast. i like the idea of forgotten bread, the phrase "french toast" makes me think of clinking champagne glasses at new year's. i like to bake pain perdu instead of pan frying it, as it uses less butter, and frankly, i'm totally useless first thing in the morning--it's an effort to turn a knob, never mind flipping things in hot fat.
ingredients: 8 slices of stale bread, 4 eggs, 2 cups milk, pinch of salt. since i usually use bone dry bread (see part 1 of the dbt), this dish must be refrigerated overnight, or left to sit for at least half an hour. because of the varying soaking times, you'll get different results--the bread that is left to soak overnight is softer and slightly custardy, the half hour soaked bread is firm and has a bit of tooth.
if you are going for the overnight method, grease or butter an ovenproof dish, place the bread in the dish (try not to overlap the slices). mix the remaining ingredients, pour on top of the bread, and refrigerate overnight.
the half hour method is similar. place the bread in a shallow dish, and pour the other mixed ingredients on top. soak for 30 minutes (less if the bread is thin, more if it's not). take the bread out of the egg mixture, and place on a greased baking sheet or dish.
for both methods, bake for 40 minutes at 350˚F. you may need to turn the bread over once for the bread that hasn't sat overnight in the fridge.
why have two methods? well, you never know how much time you'll have. also, you may be looking for a particular texture for the dish. when i am making a sweet pain perdu, i like to use the overnight method, and sometimes i'll add orange zest, vanilla, or a few tablespoons of sugar to the egg mixture. for a savoury dish, i will slit the bread in half and stuff it with ham and/or cheese, and when it's soaked for a short period of time, it becomes similar to a monte cristo sandwich, only marginally healthier, as it's not deep fried in butter. i will also toss some chopped vegetables coated in olive oil (zucchini works well) in, to mini-roast along with the stuffed bread.
pain perdu stuffed with ham and brie, served with roasted cherry tomatoes
i received this gorgeous little lunch box of mariebelle hot chocolate for my birthday a couple of months ago. mariebelle is a lovely chocolate shop in soho in new york city, and one of their specialties is this, their aztecan style hot chocolate. it is made with pure belgian cocoa, refined sugar, corn starch (as is tradition with aztecan style), and a variety of spices. it is a dark, rich cocoa drink, thick and full-bodied, earthy, not sweet at all. my particular favourite is the aztec spicy, which contains cayenne pepper for an interesting kick, which can be further enhanced (as suggested by mariebelle herself) with a shot of tequila. some nightcap.