Thursday, September 29, 2011

Puto w/ Cheese

The recent, make that, typhoon has made cooking a challenge. With nothing to do at home, (no electricity, no cellphone signal, no landline and basically howling winds... what is a cook to do?)

Well, find something to cook in the steamer of course!

With no electronic communication whatsoever, the day felt like the longest day of the year! Of course the kids were complaining. (a monopoly board came in handy) and aside from feeling you were in an isolated cabin in the woods, staying at home while checking if your roof is still intact is not too bad.

sooo... anyway, here's the puto recipe (to those not living in the Philippines, Puto is a native steamed rice cake)

You'll need:

2 cups rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups coconut milk or fresh milk
1 cup white sugar
1 180g Cheddar cheese (for topping)

Sift rice flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Add the milk and mix till well blended (no lumps)

place in puto cups (if you don't have them, you can pour into a cake pan and then slice like pizza when done -- so you'll have triangles instead of round puto)--- I do this when I am extra lazy to pour into the molds.... hehehehe

steam them in a steamer for 20-30 minutes. After they are done,turn off heat and top with cheese and leave in steamer for a 1 minute (for the cheese to melt). let it cool and enjoy!

 Some people prefer salted egg on the puto (you can put it if you want) or putting the cheese in when you pour the batter (to each his own). I like my cheese on the top, melted and oozing down the side. (YUM YUM)

In any case, the recipe is for you to play around with if you like. If you are wondering if you can replace the rice flour with regular flour.... the answer is a big fat NO!

I tried that once and the puto tasted terrible! Coconut milk (if you can get it) will make it more luscious but if you don't have it, you can use milk (like I did) and the taste won't suffer. For those in other countries, I think you can get rice flour in your local asian food store. This is quite nice to serve to guests as appetizers or an afternoon snack. (you can call it a Philippine muffin). If you have leftover rice flour... you can use it to make the radish cake in our previous posts.

So, I leave you to this mouthwatering recipe... my puto and coffee is waiting for me.

P.S. - if you like it fluffier, you can try whipping 4 egg whites and then folding it in the batter before steaming it. (I just want it to cook fast so I can eat it right away.... hahahaha)

PPS - For those living in manila, you can source the puto cups and the rice flour in CHOCOLATE LOVER. Flour and all other ingredients you'll need is all there. (cheaper too!) click HERE for their website

Monday, September 26, 2011

Zuppa dI shitake

Mushroom soup.. the GO TO order for any kid in a restaurant. It is our family's "continental" soup choice. It's chinese restaurant alternative would be "chicken corn soup". ( I tell you, I can't even count how many times I have ordered chicken corn soup in a Chinese restaurant)

Having been too busy to cook the past two weeks means I did have a "backlog" of recipes that I wanted to try and since I was always doing dessert, I lined up a few savory dishes for the next few posts.

One of my favorite foods is mushrooms, the other being beans (especially french beans) so I was really excited to try another version of mushroom soup. I don't know what it was, maybe the "zuppa" in the name of this dish made me want to try it. Isn't it very chic?

This recipe is from DAVID ROCCO from the food network. I should say this was originally named ZUPPA DI P0RCINI.. but since I don't have access to porcini mushrooms, I opted to choose what was available in the supermarket, which was shitake mushrooms. (I had actually a choice of button mushrooms and a portabello one but the portabello was sooo expensive-- I think 280 pesos ($6) for 2 huge pieces and since this was my first time doing this, I opted to choose the cheaper mushroom (hahaha)

tip: if you really want to buy mushrooms, there is stall in FARMER'S MARKET in Cubao where they sell quite a lot of mushrooms. (portabello, button, shitake, oyster, golden needle) I saw a couple of restaurant owners buying there. They also have a lot of herbs and beans that are hard to find.

You'll need:

1 cup chopped mushrooms-- caps only (shitake in this case)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
sprig of nepitella (*I don't have this herb so I substituted mint and oregano instead)
5 cups stock
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese
2 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

In pot, heat olive oil and butter, throw in the herbs. Add the mushrooms and let cook for a minute so the mushrooms can absorb the flavors

Add a ladle of stock and allow the mushrooms to cook another minute or until the broth has been absorbed. season with salt and pepper and then pour in remaining broth. lower the heat bring the soup to a simmer for about 10 minutes

Before plating, add the parmigiano cheese and eggs.

The adding of the egg kind of reminds me of those "add one egg" chinese instant soup commercials we had on TV when I was small. The tune was really catchy too... "there are chinese soups... and there are chinese soups, but there is nothing like.. knorr real chinese soup..." hahaha... and the guy was putting on this really thick chinese accent....

ANYHOW...about the adding of the egg... I found you have to be really fast in stirring because if you don't, you'll get a lot of egg clumps and not a streamy egg (I was kind of slow so I had a bunch of clumps). I also opted to put the cheese on the bowls and pouring the soup instead of stirring it in.

You can serve this with toasted slices of french bread for added flair. Overall, the taste was lighter than if you made the soup with cream ( like a cream of mushroom). You can really taste the mushrooms and the flavor of the soup. I was thinking that if you use other kinds of mushrooms, you might get a different taste all together. I have to try it out and tell you next time.

So, why don't you make your own Zuppa today?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Farfalle al Salmone

I love salmon!  Be it sashimi, smoked, or spread, I think it's just yum!  Do you know the life cycle of a (wild) salmon?  Most of you probably don't know.  The first time I heard of it, it kind of made me depressed; and now writing about it, I got depressed again.  So here it goes:

So it starts with the egg from the river, and when the egg hatches and turns into a small salmon fish (a fry), it follows the current down the stream; it will grow up there, spend it's childhood and when they turn 18 (i mean, turn into an adult), they'll swim upstream (yes, against the current) and mate there.  After mating, they lay their eggs and die!  (Yeah! Die.)   This is not to mention the bears waiting for them at the river!  Read more about them here.

It's morbid, but they're delicious, like this recipe!

You'll need:

a piece of salmon fillet, cubed quarter inch pieces
garlic, chopped
heavy cream
parmesan cheese
baby spinach leaves (optional)
tomatoes, fine dice (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
farfalle pasta, you can use any kind of pasta that you want

Cook the pasta according to the packaging, drain and sprinkle a little parmesan cheese, it'll make it creamier.

First, put some (olive) oil into the pan, then put in the garlic right away.  You do not want for the oil to heat up before you put in the garlic because it will burn, and you just wanna infuse the garlic flavor into the oil.  Then Put in the salmon, mix it a little until it's almost cooked.  Do not vigorously stir the salmon or else it'll flake.

Some would probably disagree with me by putting in the salmon so early in the cooking process because you don't want to over cook it, but it is more important for me that my pasta do not smell so fishy.  Sometimes fresh salmon gives this really strong fish odor, and if you don't cook it first, it'll just boil with the cream and I think it's going to ruin the dish.  This, i think, is the Chinese way of cooking that I've grown to adapt.  Unless if you get your salmon, smoked and ready to eat, then I guess it's best to mix it in the last part.

Pour in the heavy cream and some stock, the ratio is really up to you, I'd say the ratio should be around 3:1.  Let the cream boil and then throw in alot of parmesan cheese, I'd say prolly about 1/4 cup.  Let it thicken, then salt and pepper to taste.  If you opt to add spinach leaves,  (you can put the smoked salmon, if you aren't using fresh) put it in at this point and let it wilt and boil with the sauce. .  The tomatoes, just to give color, mix it into the finished sauce.

You can scoop the sauce over the pasta or just mix the pasta into the sauce, make sure that it's still saucy.  Mix pasta in last minute because it sucks up all the sauce and it'll make it dry.

Serve hot and sprinkle even more parmesan chesese on top and a little fresh black pepper.  Buon Appetito!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tortilla wrapped ginger beef

Don't you just love food you can assemble? like peking duck, chinese lumpia or tacos. It's the concept of "making" your own version that I think appeals to most people. (or I guess we have an innate desire to play with our food... hahahaha)

There was a time my son was bugging me to buy him a burrito. I don't think he has any idea what a burrito is. I think if he really KNEW what was inside, he would not like eating it. (I have had burritos when I was an exchange student in the US  and it was nothing fantastic... its just wrapped refried beans!). My son probably thought it was like one of those wraps he saw in a KFC commercial.

So, on this thought, I bought some tortillas in the supermarket and searched for a nice recipe to make. It had to be something you wrap and has a lot of flavor (the tortilla is tasteless). Thankfully, I still had some recipes in my iphone food network application that I had saved to make and one of them is this one. The original recipe was done with pita and a side dish of pickled carrots and cucumbers, but I decided to tinker with it to suit my family's taste. (I was sure they would not like to eat the pickled carrots anyway) The original recipe is by Sandi Richard

You'll need:
1/2 kilo (1 pound) sirloin steak (better put a little baking powder in the meat to tenderize it a bit)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 egg
peanut oil

2/3 cup shredded carrots
2 tbsp. chopped green onions
1/4 cup shredded fresh ginger
1-2 cloves garlic

STICKY SAUCE (I doubled this recipe... it was sooo good!)-- combine all these together in a bowl
1 tbsp oil
3 tbps soy sauce
2 tbsp wine, red or white
4 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 dash crushed chili flakes

lettuce leaves for the wraps
tortilla wraps

slice the steak into strips across the grain. Place the cornstarch in a large bowl and add water- whisk. Beat the eggs into the cornstarch mixture. Toss in the beef and stir to coat. Pour 1 inch oil into wok. Heat until hot but not smoking. Pan fry the beef in oil a quarter at a time.  Drain on paper towels.

tip: do not overcook beef. if they look like they have changed color, you can take them out already. over cooked beef is very tough.

Heat the oil in the wok. Add the shredded carrots, onion, ginger and garlic. In that order.
stir fry for a few minutes until fragrant.
add the sticky sauce to the vegetables and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to simmer and cook until thick. toss in the beef and mix until well coated. serve with tortilla wrap

heat the tortilla in a pan. set aside in a plate.

put one tortilla in a plate, top with lettuce leaves and pour some of the beef. wrap.

The sticky sauce really does it for this recipe. I think you can also try doing this with chicken and it would be good too. The sugar and vinegar gives it a sweet and sour taste all at the same time. As we, Filipinos are very fond of sweet food.. this would surely be a nice addition to our regular family fare.

I think you can also serve this on top of rice or as canapes. (toast some small bread bites and top with lettuce and the ginger beef.)

P.S. I had leftovers and decided to make this into a salad by tearing some lettuce and adding this as a topping. (quick lunch!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Throw Together Beef Short Ribs

I have had a busy two weeks. Aside from work related commitments, I also got sick so had no time to really cook and experiment on new recipes. So this week, having recovered a little, I decided to cook something easier for a change. This is my fourth (so far) beef dish. The other three being the Roast beef , steak burger bursters, and sizzling salpicao. If you have been following the blog, you would notice that the pictures are improving. (hehehe) You know, you really learn from doing.... and I wanted the food to look as nice as it tasted. Been doing a lot of trial and error on how to do better food pictures. I hope it shows in the recent blogs.

The slow cooker is a working woman's God send. The problem sometimes is just finding the right recipe to make. It's a hit and miss thing.

I bought a slow-cooker cookbook by WILLIAMS AND SONOMA and tried one recipe. Uggh! is was awful. The meat came out VERY bland and the sauce was too forgettable. It was a a big waste of really good meat (and money on a cookbook) Truly disappointing.

I scored a few nice short ribs from RUSTANS (they were having a buy one take one offer) and decided to try to find a nice recipe. I found this recipe and changed a few of the ingredients to suit what I had on hand.

This one DID NOT disappoint and I love how you just "throw" everything in!


1 1/2 cups whole or diced canned tomatoes (or you can used tomato juice)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 kilos (4 pounds) beef short ribs
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water


In a small bowl, combine the first nine ingredients;(this does not include the cornstarch...) set aside.
Cut ribs into serving-size pieces; sprinkle with pepper.

In a pan, sear the short ribs until they are browned but not fully cooked.

 Place ribs in a 5-qt. slow cooker; top with tomato juice mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until meat is tender. (how easy is that??)

after 6 hours........
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Pour 1 cup cooking liquid into a small saucepan; skim off fat. Bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over ribs.

6 hours later....

Doing this dish, I started in the morning and mixed everything before I left the house around noon. I did all the things I need to do and when I got back home at 6pm... this is what I saw.... (picture above)

The meat was FALL-OFF-the-bone. LITERALLY. When I mixed the pot, the bones were already separated from the meat. The meat was still intact though and did not turn to mush. Short ribs are the kind of meat cuts that if you don't cook well, can be very tough. This method of cooking is great for making them tender.

So, tasting the dish, it was VERY flavorful, like some kind of barbecue sauce. I scooped out the meat and seasoned the sauce a bit more with salt and pepper before thickening it with the cornstarch mixture.

My husband really liked it and asked that he take it to work the next day as his lunch. (I think that is the best gauge of a successful dish... when your family asks you to brown bag it..... hehehehe)

A really great dish for lazy cooks and sometimes, you just need something easy to serve to your family. Hope you try this!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Baked Garlic Madness

You may think that garlic gives you nothing but bad breath? You're partly right; but garlic also has a lot of health benefits, it's considered as a blood cleanser, it lowers blood pressure, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and a lot more.

Although garlic is best taken when it's raw, when you get all of its nutrients; but we do not want to ward off all your friends either.  Now you'll probably ask, what's the cure for garlic breath?  Some people would suggest you to eat mint gums or chocolate...  Well, you see prevention is always better than cure -- don't eat garlic. ha ha

But then garlic is so delicious, especially when you cook it this way!

You will need:

whole garlics
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut off the top of the garlic until you expose all of the cloves while intact.  Put it on aluminum foil then drizzle some olive oil over it and salt and pepper to taste.  Put it into the oven for about 30 minutes -- you can't over cook it, the more tender it is, the better.  You can of course do this over a grill too, wrapped inside aluminum foil.

When it's cooked, you're gonna get pure garlic spread, and yup, spread it over a nice piece of buttered toast, then take a bite!

For the lazy cook, you can try Star Margarine infused with Garlic Flavor! All I can say is: not bad at all! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I used to dislike Martha Stewart. I thought she was mean and very "plastic"... well, this is from the things I read from the gossip magazines. Lately though, I have watched several of her shows and even subscribed to her magazine- Martha Stewart Living.

Whatever the case, I found her magazine VERY well written and full of information on home decor, recipes and crafts you can do. It also has links to her website where you can download labels stencils you can use to package the food you make. -- and this is for FREE!!!

So, when I went to the bookstore and found her cookbook on sale, I quickly bought it. She has several volumes on different topics. I bought the MARTHA STEWART COOKIES. There are others like pies and cupcakes, To see it click HERE

So, I was eager to try her recipes and see how good they were. My daughter (the slave driver), "ordered" the milk chocolate cookies. (to tell you, my daughter loves looking at cookbooks and giving me "orders" on what she wanted. However, most of the time, she just tastes one and leaves the rest)

For this you will need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably HERSHEYS... it just tastes better)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces (1 cup) milk chocolate (I used bittersweet)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325F or 160C. whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt in bowl. (I sifted these onto wax paper so you can easily pour the contents on the bowl when you are mixing)

Melt 4 ounces of chocolate over a heatproof bowl set over some boiling water. let cool slightly
tip: I used to store my chocolate in the fridge, but this made it impossible to chop once you needed it. So I opted to store it in my cupboard in a plastic container. Is was SOOOO much easier when I wanted to bake. Just don't put it in an area where it is too hot. (like near an oven).

Put chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and mix at medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low and mix in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Using a ice cream scopper, scoop the batter unto a wax paper lined  baking sheet. (this is for easy clean ups), about 2 inches apart. bake until cookies are flat and surfaces crack. about 15 minutes.

The verdict???
It was a success!!! The cookies were very chewy, like the ones you buy from Mrs.Fields. My daughter, the picky eater that she is, consumed most of the cookies. (she took them to school with her)-- she even asked me to make them again! (shock)

newly baked, the chunks of chocolate in the batter were gooey and literally melt-in-your-mouth

What I find about Martha Stewart is that she gives you the best recipes. I have tested another one in the book and it turned out great too. She also included (in the book) tips on how to package the cookies and lots of tips on rolling, decorating, etc which I haven't seen in other books. She is very thorough in making a cookbook. LOVE IT. Can't wait to try the others in the book. I just hope my waitline can cope! hahahah

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mid Autumn means Moon Cake!

The Chinese call it Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋節 and the Koreans call it Chuseok 추석.  Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th of the 8th month when the moon is most round.  That is also the reason why moon cakes are available only during this season.

Mooncakes are usually made with lotus seeds. Honestly, I did not know what lotus seeds were until this blog post.  I know that moon cakes are usually called Lotus Moon Cakes but I never really bothered to find out why it's called lotus.  I probably shouldn't say it but the ignorance in me just assumed it's something to do with Buddhism, meditation, or it's a mythical ingredient like food of the gods (literally) haha.  So here's a photo of the Lotus Seeds, if not made into paste, it's just seeds to snack on, and also to make into prayer beads! If you wanna know more read this.

So there are quite a few Chinese bakeries here in Manila that make Lotus Moon Cakes but they're just not doing them right.  There are a few variations to the moon cake, they have the ones with nuts, the ones with duck yolk, there's the double duck yolk (my favorite!).  There are also other flavors like Mung Bean, Red Bean, Pineapple and others.

I wasn't a fan of Moon Cakes until I tasted one that was given to us by a family friend who just came back from Hong Kong.  It was normal looking from the outside, the packaging was unassuming, it looks like your normal moon cake.  It was called Kee Wah Supreme Mooncakes


We quartered the moon cake and there it was, double yolk lotus moon cake, oozing with rich duck egg oil.  For those who are health conscious, you'd probably think that might be a bad thing, but no for me, at least not for the Chinese, we love oily food!  and then you bite into it, it's so soft, so smooth, just the right amount of sweetness to contrast the touch of saltiness of the duck yolk.

For those who are addicted to moon cakes, you have to watch out for these little monsters.  In Hong Kong they even show warning commercials locally to eat moon cakes moderately, apparently a lot of people get high cholesterol and die from eating too much.

Check out these tips on how to eat moon cake:

Unhealthy Eating No. 1: Eating several moon cakes in one single day Some moon cake lovers, especially the youth, who like moon cake with filling of egg yolk or fruits, will take moon cake as dinner and eat several cakes in one day. The experts pointed out that "it is inappropriate to eat more than one moon cake in one day. No matter how much you love moon cake, it shall not be taken as dinner food, because the sugar and fat one moon cake contains are much higher than rice. The acceptable daily intake of sugar shall be no more than 10 tea spoons, and the content of sugar in one moon cake can reach 14 tea spoons, which is more than the need of the body for the whole day. And the acceptable daily intake of fat shall be no more than 13 tea spoons, and the content of fat in one moon cake can reach 6 tea spoons. It is recommended by the expert that one shall not eat excessive moon cakes. When eating moon cake, it is better to divide the cake to smaller pieces and share with families and friends in order to avoid excessive intake of fat and sugar. Moon cake shall also not be taken as dessert after meal because it contains too little fiber to be the substitute for fruit. 
Unhealthy Eating No. 2: Take moon cake as breakfast Some people like to store some moon cakes and eat them as breakfast. The experts pointed out that "this habit is against the principle of balanced nutrition". The three meals in the day shall be eaten in accordance with the principle of balanced nutrition with the food intake proportion of 30% for breakfast, 40% for lunch and 30% for supper. If one only eat moon cakes for breakfast, then the body takes more fat and sugar but fewer protein. And if this lasts long, the nutrition situation of body will change. It is better to take moon cake as a pastry or supporting food rather than the main course. Sugar-free moon cake improves its flavor with sweetening agent, but it does not mean that moon cake contains no sugar. According to "Guide Manual of Moon Cake Consumption", sugar-free moon cake contains starch which is polysaccharose in itself. As to the vegetarian moon cakes with filling of fruits or vegetables may also contain starch in its crust. Starch is a kind of carbohydrate which may transform to glucose, and eventually leading to the increase of blood sugar. To the overweight people, after eating moon cake, they should reduce the intake of rice and oil to balance the nutrition of the day. A Guangdong-style moon cake of 200g contains energy of 500 calories, and a bowl of rice only contains energy of 270 calories. It is advisable that overweight people with potential sugar and fat metabolic disorder and arteriosclerosis shall eat fewer moon cakes as diabetes patients do. 
Drink tea after eating moon cake After eating moon cake, it is better to drink some tea, lemonade or eat some vegetables for the purpose of balancing nutrition and reasonable dieting. The doctors suggest eating moon cake three hour after meal (those who shall avoid eating moon cake should not eat at all). Eating moon cake before the stomach completely digests the food will cause gastrectasia and lead to maldigestion. It is highly recommended not to eat moon cake for midnight snack. It is OK to eat moon cake for midnight snack occasionally, but not for long. The time of eating moon cake shall be not close to sleeping time. In addition, moon cake is hard to digest, so excessive intake of moon cake will cause problems in liver or gall, and other acute complicating disease in digesting system, such as abdominal distension, chest distress, vomiting, no appetite, constipation, etc. Before eating moon cake, it is good to eat some salty food in order to not feel too greasy, to drink some green tea to digest faster, to drink some soup or herb water such as appetite stimulating tea (like Sour plum juice), digest promoting tea (water with Chinese herbs like hawthorn, fleece-flower root, and cassia seed) to clean intestines and stomach. Some pepsin tablet can also help digesting but please control the amount of pepsin tablets taken.

As I've mentioned in my Best Burger Post is that if ever you're depriving yourself from evil food like moon cake, Peking Duck, or burger etc, for whatever reason it is, make sure that it's worth it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rolled Chicken Breast with Spinach Cream Cheese

I don't know where it started but healthy living is now the "in" thing.  People doing exercise, going to the gym; choosing healthy, eating healthy.  Well I guess it's about time.

One of the easiest things of choosing healthy is eating white meat instead of dark meat.  When we were kids, my sister and I would always call dibs on the leg and thigh part, nobody eats the white meat, it's usually dry and just not appetizing.

With all these media advocacy on eating organic, healthy and right, somehow I got brainwashed and started to enjoy chicken breast myself, here's my Rolled Chicken Breast with Spinach Cream Cheese

You will need:

4-6 pcs of chicken breast
a bunch of Spinach, leaves only
some garlic
cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
kitchen twine
cheese cloth

Start off which stir frying the spinach leaves with garlic season with salt and pepper; put inside the cheese cloth then squeeze out excess water.  After which, chop up the squeezed-dry spinach then mix in some cream cheese, ratio is up to you.

Now get your chicken breast, pat dry with paper towel; cover it with cling wrap and pound with heavy iron pan until flattened.  You don't really want the chicken to be paper thin, but you just wanna even out the thickness so it will cook evenly.

Scoop a teaspoon-full of the spinach-cream cheese mixture onto one breast then cover with another chicken breast.  The most common mistake, and also the mistake I made, was over stuffing it.  Once the chicken cooks, it will expand and all the filling will ooze out.  You don't want that.

Use the kitchen twine and secure it tightly.  You can do as my assistant Sarah did, but you can also just tie it separately each section.  Season the chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper.

Fry the chicken on the pan just to give it a nice golden brown seared color then transfer to the oven to continue cooking through.  After about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken, take out the smaller ones first, don't cook them all at the same cooking duration, or make sure to get same sized chicken breasts! hehe  

Let cool for awhile until just warm enough to handle, remove the twine, and slice them into coins.  My guests arrived early so I hadn't had enough time to let it cool before slicing, so some of the spinach cream cheese oozed out while slicing but delicious none the less.

Try it! :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

I love pumpkin soup! It is a bit heavy on the tummy since it is a complex carbohydrate. It keeps you full for a long time because it takes longer to digest.

Creamy pumpkin soup is very easy to do, I've been wanting to do this since I got my hand blender, hehe. I've been wanting to use that immersion blender the first time I laid my eyes on them. Anyhoo, let's get cooking! You will need:

4 pounds squash or pumpkin, seeded, cut into 1" chunks and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 slices smoky bacon, chopped
1 medium onion
Water or stock, as needed
1 cup cream or milk
salt and pepper
pinch nutmeg
About 2 Tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream (optional)
About 2 Tbsp chopped chives (optional)

Take the chunks of pumpkin, stir fry them to start them cooking and season it with salt and pepper; and then put the pumpkins on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or so until tender.

This part is optional if you are vegetarian, fry bacon then chop them up for garnish; then on the same pan with the fats of the bacon and all, stir fry onions then put in the cubed tender squash, mix it all up then add water or any kind of stock.   Mix it and wait for it to boil, then lower the heat to maintain simmer.

Use your hand held blender and start mashing and blending away.  Add a bit of cream then mix more, if you find the consistency is too thick or too creamy, you can adjust the amount of water and cream you put it.

Put in a pinch of nutmeg into the soup, it sounds weird to put something sweet into something savory, but amazingly, it brings out the flavor even more!  Not too much to make it smell like apple pie!  

Personally, i put a ton of pepper into my soup, but all is up to you!  That's why I like cooking better than baking, because it doesn't have to be exact, you can still get something edible even if you put too little salt or too much water, etc etc.  I enjoy baking on the other hand because it's challenging and it seems so fulfilling to do!

Put some sour cream and sprinkle some fresh chopped spring onion and bacon to garnish.  Voila!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cheesy Cheese Cupcake

I have been looking for a cheese cupcake recipe for the longest time. Cheese cupcakes are very different from cream cheese cupcakes. For one, it uses cheese and not CREAM cheese. It's texture is more savory rather than sweet.

I remember when I was small when my mom was learning to bake. She was not a very experienced baker and all she attempted to do was Pan de sal, chiffon cake and this cheese cupcake. We looved this cheese cupcake and would often ask her to make it. It had cheese in the batter and additional cheese on top. We only stopped baking these when our oven broke down. The cupcakes started coming out lopsided because our ancient oven was not heating evenly. (hahaha- one side was under cooked and the other side was burnt!)

So, after scouring the internet, I tested two recipes and finally found the RIGHT one and tweaked it.  It had a moist interior and was not as dense as the first recipe that I tried.

Cheese Cupcake:

makes about 18 big cupcakes or 24 small cupcakes

1 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs- room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz condensed milk
1 cup cheddar

preheat your oven 350F or 180C

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt

beat butter and sugar (about 4 minutes) then add eggs one at a time till well incorporated. Add the vanilla.

alternate adding flour and milk, starting and ending with flour. Add cheese (about 3/4 cup). set aside remaining cheese for the topping.

mix well and then using an ice cream scooper, pour into paper lined cupcake pans. about 3/4 full. (do not over fill the cupcake molds.. if you do, the cupcake will rise and then FALL when it cools and you will have a sunken cupcake.) It will still taste good, but the presentation will not be so nice.

Bake for 20 minutes in 350F (180c). The cupcake will come out so luscious.

These are better kept at room temperature.  If you refrigerate, you can put inside a your microwave and heat for a few seconds before serving. (If you serve straight out of the fridge, they will be not as nice) heating them up will make them very moist and cheesy.

From experience, these are gone by the end of the day. So I don't think you will have any left to refrigerate anyway.

AAAH.. childhood memories revisited!! So, what food make you remember your childhood? I'd like to know.