Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pork and Beans

FF has an uncanny habit of buying grocery items on sale. Sausages, sweets, yogurts, beer or chips. It there's a red label attached to it, he'll be hanging to it like a toilet paper on a wet bottom. He could be every girl's  " Mr. Right " if he shows the same fierce determination at ferreting out shoes or handbags.  Unfortunately, his reaction to cut- priced fashion items is as enthusiastic as a person surveying a dead toenail. A girl could only dream, right?  

It was Saturday and we were at our favorite supermarket. He was yet again totally wrapped up in his search for  things he don't need and I don't like. The sudden manic glint of his eyes was all so familiar as he dashes forward to grab something that might slip off his almost quivering palms. Then, he triumphantly raised his hand holding a huge jar of baked beans with a 1 euro stamp on it. Normally, I just roll my eyes at his childish  delight for finding cheap grubs but I just grinned back.  I haven't  seen baked beans at  our groceries before, but then again, American food items  are rarely seen at our German grocery shelves. Looking at it brings back some distant childhood memories. My family often eats canned pork and beans for a quick fix . Served on hot rice, we don't even have to warm it, plus it's relatively cheap and filling. My only complain as a kid was, not having enough meat chunks on it. Eating it was a tedious game of hide and seek. Finding the the tiny speck of meat was the challenge and the winner takes it all. When our luck runs out, we simply rename the canned food, "Bean and Beans" in commemoration of the non existent pork. If the piece of meat ends up on my plate however, I always save that for last, eating and savoring it with the last spoonful of rice. Aaaahh happy , silly childhood memories. I gave FF an affectionate pat on the back before putting his precious loot in the cart.

Cooking the beans was a brisk  plus it tasted mighty fine too. The best euro we've ever spent if you ask me. Way to go Hubby!


Baked beans (1 kg)
1/2 cup of BBQ Sauce 
1 cup of tomato ketchup
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of Apple cider vinegar
3 tbs. of brown sugar
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking Instructions

 Put BBQ Sauce, tomato ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce.

Add in cider vinegar..

 Whisk ....whisk....whisk away until everything's well combined.

Heat a bit of oil in a pan. Sauté diced onion and chopped garlic until aromatic.

Add in cubed pork. Toss and let it brown.

Add the BBQ - Ketchup mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat. Season with salt and pepper, add in bay leaf.

Cover pot, pan or whatever you're using and let the meat and sauce simmer gently for about half an hour or until pork is just-tender. Add 1/2 Cup of warm water if Sauce thickens too much or dries out.

Add in the beans ( On sale or not ). Stir well. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.


Now this one porky beans!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken Afritada Recipe

If I were to call an Afritada dish something, it would be a "classic". Along with Adobo, Sinigang and Lumpia,  this is one dish, almost every Pinoy household knows how to cook.  This tomato based stew is sold in  every run the mill Carenderias, cooked in many feast and special celebrations  or simple lunches and dinners back home. 

There's something comforting about this dish, plus it is easy enough to make . FF embraced this dish like a Filipino when I first cooked it. After all, it has everything he likes in a dish. The chicken, the potatoes, the carrots, the paprika  and of course, the tomato sauce. He generally loves tomato based dishes, so having this on the table is no- brainer.  The vegetables and meat needed in this dish is present in every  local markets and conveniently enough, all grocery shops. 

Just like any other dishes, every household has its own way of cooking Afritada. Some fry the potatoes and carrots first, some put sausages and peas in it. Pork and chicken is commonly use in this recipe and one can even combine both. This is how I did mine.

The Ingredients:  

  •  2 chicken thighs and half chicken breast fillet, chopped into serving portions
  • 2 small or 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • juice from 1 lime or 3 calamansi
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 -5 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 400 ml tomato sauce 
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper ( you can use fish sauce instead of salt)
  • 350 ml warm water
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • optional: chili peppers ( if you want it spicy)

Cooking Instruction:

 Marinate chicken pieces in soy sauce, minced garlic and lime juice for about an hour.
Crack the stove up to high. Heat a bit of oil , brown the meat pieces ( marinade and all) and take out from the pan. In the same pan, saute onion until transparent and aromatic. Put the meat back into the pan, stir until well combined. Pour tomato sauce ,50 ml warm water and pineapple juice. Bring the dish to a boil and once bubbly, turn the heat down to medium, let the meat and tomato sauce simmer for 15 mins, covered.

 Add in bay leaves, sliced carrots and potatoes. Cover the pan and continue simmering for 10 more minutes. If the sauce dries up too quickly, add a cup full of warm water and lower the Heat.

 Once the potatoes and carrots are just-tender, add in chili slices ( if using) and sliced bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper or Fish sauce if you like. Let the dish cook for 5 to 7 more minutes.  Serve with white rice and enjoy !

Chicken Afritada ala Emily

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Namaskaar Baden Baden

There are things in life that make  you realize  you've been missing  until you finally tried it. In my case, it's the Indian foods. It's always been there  but the abundance of other cuisines  like the well-known Thai, the well-loved Italian and even the too-common-for its-own-good Chinese somehow kept Indian cuisine's existence out of my gustatory radar. If only I knew what treat I was missing, I could have dipped my finger into its culinary pie much sooner. There's something about Indian food that entices me. The aromatic smell, the spice-laden sauces, the spicy heat that that leaves a tingling sensation down my throat. It's like a spell that could make anyone simply forget about life's shenanigans for a while. Between appreciative mouthfuls and occasional burst of blissful aaaaahhs and hmmms, good Indian foods shut me up during a meal, only the satisfied shimmer of my eyeballs  speaks volume- I love it! 

I should be thankful to the restaurant that is responsible for this love at first bite . Namaskaar, in Baden Baden. This cozy, little restaurant  garnered quite a reputation for serving excellent Indian Foods in the region. The elegant setting with crisp white linen ,the wonderful smell from the kitchen, the soft Bollywood songs that serenade its guests, the efficient and fast service, the delicious food and generous  but not overwhelming servings . Everything about this restaurant ticks all my boxes. Even the Indian owner, who is renowned for his quick mouth and  witty but sometime dry humour. Confidently aware of his goods, he oftentimes engages in good banter with his patrons  and he tolerates no nonsense when it comes to his food. Love him or hate him , his unique character is almost written on his forehead. And oh yeah, he loves Obama so Republicans, look to your left if you please.

The restaurant is always full to the brim and reservation is a must. Regulars, curious locals from young couples to conservative pensioners, bosses and common employees, sleek suited  gents and their Prada trotting ladies and tourist with their DSLR all flock into this tiny space to gratify their Indian food cravings. Menu is not overly extensive but guest can choose if they want their food mild, medium and spicy .FF and I always go for the medium and our foods are always deliciously warming in the palate without burning a hole in our guts. It made us break a bit of sweat, which is easily tampered by ice cold King Fisher beer or mango lassi.

FF and I were often enough in this restaurant. This superb meal is what we had last Saturday.

Aloo Jheenga:  Potato-wrapped shrimps

Left: Trio of starters with chicken, lamb and vegetable fritters
Right: Complimentary Papadum 

Left:  Murgh Jal Frazie ( Chicken curry with fresh vegetables)
Middle: Freshly baked Naan bread which is available only at dinner.
Right:  Gosht Do Piaza (  Lamb with Ginger, Chili and Onion)

My Plate with shrimp, lamb and chicken dishes  and Naan Bread to to mop it all up!

Aam Bahar:  Mango Ice cream in Saffron sauce

Restaurant Namaskaar
Indische Spezialitäten
Krezstraße 1
76530 Baden Baden
Tel. number +49 (0) 7221 24681

Opening Hours: 12:00- 14:00 and 18:00-22:30
Closed on Tuesdays

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Beef Pilaf

Ate my very first Rice Pilaf last week, when my colleague brought some to work. A wife and a mother of two, she still does most of the cooking at home. Microwave and store bought meals is evidently off her family's menu.

The aromatic smell that came out of her food box that evening completely makes up for the mien of the unassuming lumps of rice and brown meat. It looked somehow placid, plain and obviously home cooked. But oh my Batman,  the whiff of air  coming out of from that dish was so guuud, it got me curious and salivating...silently. Now, I've eaten a fair share of rice dishes, after all I'm Asian, but this dish got me gawking openly. I asked her what it was, before curiosity kills the cat in me. She eagerly answered, ''Plov''.  We spent our break talking about this dish, with a pen and paper in one hand, while spooning the contents of her Tupperware with the  other. It was delicious! Making it sounds easy enough but there is a point in the cooking process, when Ingredients  should ''Nicht gerührt werden!!'' (not be stirred!) She said it with almost ferocious intensity and I actually stop chewing and stared back without blinking. The words naturally, set it. 

Pilaf or Plov as she calls it, is apparently one of her family's comfort and favorite foods. Considered a cult and national dish of her  country, Uzbekistan, Plov is  cooked,  by most of Russian and the rest of the  former Soviet Union households. I haven't cooked anything from that part of the globe, so I might as well give it a go.

So I cooked this dish today and it turned out as good as hers, I simply have to share it ! I hope you will enjoy it as I do. After all, good and delicious foods don't have to be written on a restaurant's menu. 

 Usbek Plov



  •  750 g Beef chuck
  •  6-7 pieces carrots
  •  2 medium sized onion
  •  3 cups of basmati rice
  •  1 big garlic head  or in this case 2 small ones
  •  1/4 cup vegetable oil 
  •  boiling water for braising 
  •  salt and pepper to taste


1. Cut beef chuck into 1/2 to 3/4 in thick cubes or strips and pat it dry using a paper towel.

2. Peel and julienne  carrots and thinly slice the  onions.

3. Crack up the stove to high . Put 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy pot/pan. Oil must be sizzling hot to almost smoking, then sear the meat until brown. Cook for about 10 minutes, uncovered. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Cook for another 5 to 7 mins or until onion is translucent and aromatic.

4.  Add julienned carrots into the pot, stirring well until everything is well combined. Cook,  for about 5 minutes, uncovered. Season well with salt and pepper.

5. Boil some water while dish is cooking. Add enough boiling water into the pot, just enough to barely cover the meat and vegetable. Turn the heat to low and let the dish simmer, covered for 45 mins. Do not mix! It seems like magic is happening when you are not looking. Go read a book, watch Oprah or stalk your frenemis on Facebook to keep your head off the dish and your itchy hand off that lid.

6. Meanwhile, rinse rice over running water until water runs clear. Rinsing the rice gets rid of the starch which causes the rice to stick together.( I just love it when I rationalize my intervention! It's a nurse's thing). Soak rice in warm water about 15 mins before adding into the dish.

7. Once the meat is tender, rinse the rice again and spread it over the meat and carrot mixture. Pour boiling water over it until rice is completely submerged. Season rice with salt. Cook for about 5 minutes in medium heat , uncovered.

8. Cut garlic into half without peeling , exposing the cloves. Bury the garlic into rice, cut side down. Put the lid on, lower the heat and simmer the rice for 10 to 15 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. And don't you dare stir that pot!!

9. Once the the rice is cooked through, remove the buried garlic and you can have your way with the whole dish. Stir, stir and stir to your heart's content  and serve. This dish could serve up to 6 rice loving creatures.

Hearty, filling and delicious mess.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Braised Turkey

As a nurse, I  usually share my patient's bitter sentiments about hospital foods. Let's face it, nobody really shouts out for joy at the prospect of consuming low cholesterol, low sodium,low fat and low flavored foods. Not  when one is already feeling unwell. But then again, one can not really expect a lot from a pot that is used to cook for 2000 other suffering patients and their tastebuds.

 Food comforts me and when I'm ill, soothing  and spoiling my palate somehow  eases a bit of my discomfort. It's also the same reason why I have to sneakily ask FF to buy me Mc Donald's take out ( Burger, fries,  McCafe Triple Choco Chip Cookie and all) a day after undergoing a surgery AND after being told to eat soft diet. I know what patients get when they're on soft diet and 3 soft diet meals is all that I could handle! I was miserable, in pain and hungry. 

I was bringing my patients' lunch last week, somehow anticipating some usual faint mumbling and groaning about watery soups, obviously mass produced mashed potatoes , soggy pastas, dry breads, tasteless meats and overly sweet jelly desserts. Those who don't bother saying anything are just too sick to eat anyway.  One of the dish on that day was Putenbraten or roast turkey in (obviously store- bought , ready-made) brown gravy. But damn it looked good! For once, hospital food looked so appetizing!  I immediately knew, what to cook at home  the next day! Who would have thought that dreadful hospital food would inspire me. Hah!

Since I could not possibly buy an entire turkey for FF and I. There's a thin line between, gratification and overindulgence that we don't mean to cross. We bought turkey legs instead. I bought drumsticks while FF, went for the sectioned thighs. We had it for dinner and eat the leftovers the day after. Nobody was complaining after this satisfying meal.

  • 2 turkey legs, 2 turkey thighs 
  • salt, pepper, paprika powder
  • oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 3 bay leaves, a tsp each of dried thyme's and rosemary

  • 1 Bundle of Suppengemüse, chopped. These are vegetable for making soup comprising of 2 or 3 carrots, 1 or 2 stalks of leak, a quarter celeriac and parley.

Cooking instructions.

1 Wash and carefully pat turkey legs/thighs dry. Season well with salt and pepper. Rub in  paprika powder and set aside for 30 mins. Heat a bit of oil in a dutch oven . Seat meat and brown on all side. Remove meat from the pot and set aside.

2 Add 3 tbsp of oil into the pot. Saute onion until aromatic, add in garlic and toss in chopped vegetables.

3 Turn heat to high and deglaze pan with a cup of read wine. Toss in bay leaves, thymes and rosemary. Put the turkey back into the pan.

4 Pour chicken stock until almost half of the meat is submerged in liquid.Let the liquid boil before putting the pot into a preheated 190°c oven. Bake covered for 1 and half hour. Occasionally check the meat for tenderness and add more stock if the sauce  dries out. Once the meat is tender, remove pot from the oven. Put the pot back on the stove and crank up the heat  and bring the sauce to a boil to thicken it up a bit. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Braised Turkey with gnocchi

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Roman Braised Oxtail: Coda alla vaccinara

Busy little bee have been neglecting her blog lately. Work, family , friends, Christmas holiday and more work were occupying my hours of existence that I could barely spare some time sitting on the  used-to-be-my- butt-imprinted-desk-chair. I bet, that chair have been missing my behind's warmth and shape as much as I miss babbling nonsense in this blog. Anyway, I finally got a few days off and weather's been bleak, cold and gloomy. Perfect time to sit at home and get all cozy. There's something about depressing weather such as this that makes me  think about much better times and much better places. I have been meaning to write something obout our trip to Rome for months anyway and now is the perfect time to do it. Yes, I was in Rome with FF, visited its ruins, the Colosseum and other magnificent architectures, mingle with modern-day-harmless gladiators, ate delicious Italian foods until I got sick as a dog but that's another story.

We did enjoy the foods in Rome, I guess it was sheer luck that almost all restaurant we've been to , from run the mill ,rustic Italian to fine dining exceeded our expectations and gratified our stomachs. Well, in the exception of one ridiculously expensive seafood risotto which twisted my guts and empty its contents on the fifth day . Anyway, one of the many delicious foods that left an impression on me was something I ate at  Risorante Al 34  near the Piazza di Spagna . I had a very rich and delicious braised oxtail that night and I was itching to try it at home since then. I finally got that chance  when FF and I, invited some family over for a post Christmas lunch celebration. Making it was time consuming but it was worth  the electric bill. (^_^)

You need:
  • 1.5 kg oxtail, cut into serving pieces
  • 100 g bacon cut into cubes
  • olive oil
  • 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Parsley and bay leaves
  • 1/2 l white wine
  • 2 l of water
  • 4 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. Paprika powder
  • 1/2  tsp. powdered cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper

1 Wash oxtail under running water thoroughly .  Put oxtail into the pot,add salt, pour 2 liters of water and bring it to a boil. Cook oxtail in salted water for 10 mins skimming off the fat and scums. Remove meat from the pot and set aside. Save about 1 liter of the broth, discarding the rest.

 2 Heat olive oil in huge pot and add in the chopped bacon. Saute bacon bits until aromatic.

 3 Add in the oxtail, brown in all side until meat is slather in bacon's fat/olive oil.

4 Stir in chopped garlic and  onion , saute until onion sweats . Stir well.

5 Add the chopped carrots, a  handful of chopped parsley and few bay leaves. Mix well.

6 Pour 1/4 of white wine into the the meat/vegetable mixture, stir and when it is reduced, add another quarter. Season  with salt and pepper.

7 Dissolve tomato paste in the oxtail broth, pour into the pot. Turn heat to medium low and cook oxtail, covered for about 3 hours to 3 1/2 hours.

8 Once the meat is just tender, stir in chopped celery and cook dish for another 30 minutes. Check meat , it must me fall of the bone tender.  Before serving, season it with cinnamon powder, paprika powder, pepper and salt if necessary .Garnish with more parsley. This dish could be served with crusty bread like I had in Rome, mashed/boiled potatoes, pasta or rice.

Braised Oxtail

I served it with risotto rice and fresh green salad on the side . Buon Appetito!

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