Monday, January 27, 2014

Filipino style Arroz Valenciana

Every time I go back home to the Philippines, Nanay always asked what I want to have as my first welcome home meal.  I could request a whole lechon and I know, my Family will go scourge the neighborhood and beyond for the most promising swine to satisfy my home sicked palate. Anything for the long gone child,per se.
To answer that question,  I always and I mean always, requested Tinolang Manok ( native chicken soup), grilled tuna jaw and lastly, something that might request the most work, the Arroz Valenciana . 

My mother's brothers can cook tasty Valencianas. They're the official cooks in the family . So during family feasts and celebrations,  if there will be a pig squealing, chicken chucking or ducks quacking, they are the men behind the animals' distress calls. Don't take it against them or our family, they are farmers who raised animals, very well if I may add ,( much better than how commercialized animals in most develop countries are raised) and slaughter it, for food.
 Valenciana Is always present in our family get together and reuinon. Eating it is somehow interlaced with good times with family and close friends. 
I was feeling under the weather lately and missing my country. It would be another year for the next holiday, so I end up doing something that could make me feel like I'm back home, enjoying a festivity with my big and loud family. Pleasure the palate and soothe the mind. Food really comforts me. 

It was quite a lot of work to cook this dish but it worth it. I was quite happy with the result. By our next family reunion, I'm going to cook this and make my uncle Dodong and Uncle Cito proud of me.


350 g sticky rice + 300 g jasmine rice
1 L chicken stock
1 tsp. turmeric powder ( originally, astuete or annato seed is used but I can't find it here)
1 chicken leg, chopped into bite size pieces
350 g pork shoulder, sliced into bite size pieces
200 g pork liver , sliced
300 g shrimps, shelled
1 medium sized onion, diced
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 red bell pepper, cut into small squares
2 tbsp tomato purée/ paste
1 cup of raisin
1 cup of green peas
3 bay leaves
Oil for sautéing
Salt and pepper
Fish sauce

Cooking Instructions:

1.Cook sticky rice, jasmine rice in the rice cooker. Use about 800 ml of the chicken broth, add salt and turmeric, mix well until rice is submerged in the yellow tinged broth. 

The Protein cast and characters.

2.While rice is cooking. Chop and slice meat and vegetable and set aside.

3.Heat vegetable or olive oil in a non stick pan big enough to hold the protein chunks and carbs.Sauté diced onion until translucent, add in chopped garlic. Add in chicken and pork slices. Keep stirring  and cook for about 10 mins. 

Hello Iron!
4.Add in the liver.

 5.Add a dash of fish sauce. Put bay leaves in the pan. Season well with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for about 8 mins under high heat.

6. Take the lid out. Add chopped Bell peppers, peas and raisins. Stir! Stir! Stir!

7.Dissolve the tomato purée in the remaining 200 ml of chicken broth. Add the mixture into the Pan. Let it simmer for another 10 mins, uncovered.

8.Add in the just cooked rice into the pan. Mix thoroughly.

9.Stir in shrimps. Cover Pan until shrimps are cooked or turn pink. Mine was already glazed so it only took 5 more mins. Test taste. Season with more salt, pepper or fish sauce if needed.

Well? What are you waiting for? Dig in and enjoy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Crispy Chicken Adobo

I just bought  chicken legs at the local butcher. I want to eat some adobo but fried chicken too. Adobo or prito? What to do? Since I'm turned between the two, I decided to have it both! What a treat! It's an orgy of oil, grease and things unhealthy but so damn good it's probably illegal in some countries. Crispy adobo serve with adobo rice, if not for the abundance of bad cholesterol and  sour-y, pickle-y smell that sticks to my hair that goes with this dish, I would have it every  day! Have you ever tried Adobo? If yes, how about pritong adobo? If not, here's how to do it.


For Adobo:
  • 600 g chicken , cut into serving portions      
  • 6 cloves garlic,crushed
  • few bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorn
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • salt to taste
For Prito:

  • 1 cup four
  • 1 tsp powdered garlic
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying
Cooking Adobo is pretty straight forward. 

1. Marinate Chicken pieces in broth, soy sauce, crushed garlic, brown sugar and  bay leaves. Cover bowl with plastic foil and refrigerate for about few hours or overnight. 

2. Put chicken and marinade in a pot. Add in the vinegar . Bring to a rolling boil and  once boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes ,covered. Test taste and  season with salt.

3. Meanwhile. Put 1 cup of flour in a mixing bowl. Add  garlic and ginger powder, season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk everything thoroughly.

4. Put and roll  cooked chicken  pieces in the flour mixture. You can do it in batches.

6. Heat oil in the pan, fry chicken pieces until golden brown and crispy. Another healthier option will be to broil or grill the chicken but...we don't want healthier option now,do we?

 7. You can serve the adobo with steam rice and drizzle it with the adobo sauce, or you can serve it with adobo rice. Just heat the sauce in the pan.

8. Dump cooked rice. The best would be left over rice or 1 day old rice. Stir and mix thoroughly until sauce in incorporated well into the rice grains. Test taste as always. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Done!

Now there's your kanin and ulam na adobo. Next step: Singing ''My Way'' in the karaoke and you are will a step closer to becoming officially Filipino.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Turon Espesyal

I was invited by an always chic German friend, Lady B for dinner. It has been months since I've seen her and my other Russian girlfriends so I was quite excited to go. Plus, a  home cooked meal is something I would never say "No!" to.  A mother of four, this lady friend is used to the ways of the kitchen. She could perhaps cook up a storm blindfolded , one pinky finger  tied to her toe, but would still open  her door looking rather gorgeous in her red lips and stilettos , welcoming guest like she've been in the spa the whole day. Some girls simply have that calm efficiency, plus she never seems to suffer from any bad hair day,  unlike the mere-mortal meh! Who says life is fair?  Having 5 girlfriends over certainly won't give her the heebie-jeebies.
 I was almost rubbing my hands in anticipation at her response to the Menu's query. 
-Tomato soup with croutons, lamb's lettuce with crispy bacon, which happens to be my favorite greens in the universe aaand her Killer lasagna for the mains.
 I offered to bring dessert. Trying to sound not so impressive, I  asked her what she wants .  ''Surprise me.'', was her only reply. Cool and calculating, typically B. Got ta luv the lady!

Looks like I shouldn't make any promise, I could not keep. I had a busy morning shift and when I got home, I took those power naps that supposed to make one look younger and fresher.  The tired eyes that gazes back at mirror screams, I need sleep longer than sleeping Beauty. So I hopped in bed at 3 PM and snored away.It was lady B's call that woke me up. ''Dinner will be half an hour early!, M  is coming all the way from Stuttgart and don't want want to go home too late!'',  she says. Oh buggers! I was so happy chasing calorie-less Adobo in my sleep  that I forgot I will be serving Dessert at 6:30! No sugar in an all girls dinner party? Blasphemy! Its like inviting Germans to your place to watch FIFA without serving beer! You could get yourself killed for that!

It's almost 5 in the afternoon and  my pantry's pretty empty . The contents of the fridge don't look so promising either. What to do?! What to do?! Panna Cotta? Not enough time! Creme brûlée ? Not enough eggs! Chocolate Mouse? No cream in the house! Aaaauuuhhh!!!

I was about to rush to the supermarket to buy something baked, battered , whipped and packed by machines or latex covered hands when I caught the sight few ripe bananas in the fruit bowl. Use me I'm yours. I could almost hear it whisper. So I got back at rumbling the contents of my kitchen  once again. Banana..Check! Spring roll wrapper..Check! Sugar...check! Oil.....check! Ooiihhh, I could make some banana fritters!  30 mins later, I got a tray full of fragrant, crispy Turon.  Gave myself another hour to shower and make myself presentable for the dinner party . I was fashionably late, but one bite of the turon served with ice cream and the girlfriends all forgave me.

Who would have thought that a dish as simple as Turon  could promote world peace,  play Bruce Willis and save the day? 

Making Turon is as easy as tying your shoe. Even 5 year olds could do it, except maybe climb up a banana tree. If you don't believe me, here's the Dummy guide to Turon making.

Peel and cut banana into half then lenghwise. Dip sliced bananas in brown sugar. Wrap in a spring roll wrapper as shown above. Brush the top end with beaten egg to seal. Heat oil in a pan, deep fry turon, sprinkle with brown sugar. Sugar caramelizes at it cooks in hot oil, coating the the turon in a lovely, crunchy, caramel cocoon. Fry until golden brown and serve! Goes wonderfully well with vanilla ice cream.

Tip 1: Add Macapuno Strips or jack fruit.. 

Tip 2: For chocolate lovers.  Spread  Nutella along with banana before wrapping.

Make it look rather fancy by serving it with fruit sauce like raspberry, some crokant (brittle) and duster with powder sugar. Like this...



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

I admit,  I am not really a baker. I don't  mind spending the whole day in the kitchen, stirring vigorously the contents of my pans or watch in silent vigil, at a pot full of animal carcass, cooking gently in its own juice. I rarely follow a recipe and measuring ingredients was never been a habit,  so If a dish doesn't turn out as it should be, a little bit of tweaking and seasoning really helps. A tad of butter, a splash of cream , more salt and a bit pepper could always save a dish, well, almost always.

 Baking, however,  is a completely different story. Every gram of flour or sugar, every drop of liquid, the kneading, the beating, the  temperature, the length of baking, is crucial.  Once out of the oven, there's no salvaging  a burnt muffin , a stone hard bread  or a saggy scone. The trash bin has been fed  more often than I want to admit,  with my failed experiments. Along  with it are the frustrated wails and unladylike curses that made me grateful, I no longer live with my mother. If there's something that could make me lose my cool, than it's probably a baked cake that's stuck in the  pan . I try  not play with my happy disposition , so I tend to bake less and cook more. One of the many secrets of hubby's harmonious weekends.

Now, Chocolate chip cookie is my all time favorite cookie, and I have tried and tried baking it, hoping the it would turn out like I want it. Soft, thick and chewy. Recipes look easy enough, but my numerous attempts always end up a failure. My oven yields annoyingly flat, dry and almost crumbly cookies!  After few failed attempts, I simply gave up on it. It has been three years since I've tried baking it and today I somehow felt...lucky. Maybe it's the Glücksbringer ( lucky charm) plant I got for Christmas . With it on the kitchen counter, anything seems possible. Like reaching my nose with the tip of left big toe, win the lottery or have a soft and chewy home-made chocolate cookie. Well, It goes without saying,  that  I was not able to lift my foot past my navel,  forgot to play this week's Lotto, so  I could at least give cookie baking a go. Luck was  beaming at me today, since I've made the thickest, chewiest Cookie ever! Hep...Hep...Hurray! 

 It might take a while and few more yoga sessions before I could twist my limbs and touch  any part of my anatomy with my toe, and it would probably take eternity before I could win anything in the lottery. So in the meantime, let me share this wonderful recipe with you, while waiting for the first two to happen. Eating it certainly makes the wait, a worth while.

  • 360 g all purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 230 g Butter, softened
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 200 g Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 255 g Chocolate Chips

1.Sift and whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2.In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until no lumps remain.

3.Whisk in the eggs and the vanilla until everything is well incorporated.

 4.Add in the flour mixture and mix everything together using a rubber spatula, wooden spoon or if using an electric mixer, its dough hooks.

5. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

6.When ready to bake, preheat oven to 190 °C . Line baking tray with parchment paper.
Scoop about 1-2 tbsp of dough ( depending on how big you want your cookie to be), roll into into a ball, place it on the lined tray, leaving about 2 iches space between cookies as they spread once baked. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

 Enjoy it warm and with a tall glas of milk!
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