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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beef casserole with cheese and chives dumplings

There's nothing like the aroma of a good casserole cooking in the oven to warm up ones home. Figuratively and literally because my oven also doubles as a heater when I'm baking . It's very old and does not contain the heat inside. Good in winter but in summer I use a small oven that I have in the garage. This recipe is based from taste casserole recipe. This is the first time I tried it and it's really, really heaven. True! that was the thought came to mind with the first spoonful. The dumplings was crusty on top and soft and moist inside and the stew was rich and thick and full of flavour from the vegies.

beef casserole with cheese and chive dumplings
500g stewing beef, cubed
1/2 c plain flour
1 large carrot
200g button mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
1 400g can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 c beef broth
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1 c self raising flour
30g butter
1/2 c grated cheese
1 tbsp chopped chives
1/4 c milk

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Dust the beef cubes with flour and brown in oil in two batches. Save in a plate. Add some more oil and saute onion until transluscent. Add the beef and pour the tomatoes and beef broth. Simmer until beef is tender then add the vegetables, balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Return to boil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer in an ovenproof dish.
Preheat oven to 190c.
Meanwhile to make the dumplings, rub the flour with butter until texture resembles
breadcrumbs. Mix cheese and chives and pour in milk. Use a knife and make a cutting motion to mix the dough. Form into 8 balls and top on stew. Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until dumplings are golden brown. Serve warm with steamed vegetables.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bicol express

It's not very often that I make bicol express at home even if it's one of my hubby's all time favorite ulam. One, it's full of the creamy goodness of coconut milk which is good if not for the artery clogging saturated fat and two, it's loaded with salt from the alamang. But I have to keep the ironman happy or there will be a lot of unwashed dishes hehehe.
Ok before I completely turn you off, seriously this dish is so full of flavour from the coconut milk, alamang and I always add ground cardamom or coriander seeds with coconut based dishes. This is optional. I got this from the Indians who put cardamom or coriander seeds
with their curry. Just a pinch or two because these spices are very strong and overpowering.
I used alamang that I sauteed in garlic, spring onion, paprika(hence the reddish color), sugar and vinegar. I just keep it in the fridge for kare-kare or manggang hilaw.

bicol express
5oo gms pork leg or shoulder, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 thumb ginger, grated
5 long green chilli, seeded
2 tbsp alamang
1 c coconut milk
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom or coriander seed
2 tbsp cooking oil
pepper to taste

Heat the cooking oil in a pan and brown the meat in high heat. Add the onion ginger and garlic and turn down to medium heat. Saute until the onion is soft and transluscent then stir in the alamang, cardamom and sugar. Pour the coconut milk and cover and simmer until the meat is tender. Slice the chilli and add to the pan. Simmer until the sauce is thick. Season with pepper and serve it topped on a steaming bowl of jasmine rice.

Do not remove the seeds from the chilli if you like it hot.
Add more coconut milk if the dish is too dry

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rosemary and seasalt focaccia

Focaccia is an Italian style bread. It is very versatile as you can use this as a base for your pizza, as a sandwich or just spread garlic and butter to accompany your favorite pasta dish.

The recipe for the dough is the same as the pizza dough recipe in this blog. Just substitute the wholemeal flour with plain flour and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Flatten it in a pan. It should be thicker than a pizza dough. Allow to rise for about an hour. Use your finger to press holes in the dough. Sprinkle some fresh rosemary and flakes of seasalt. Finally brush with olive oil and crushed garlic and put in a 220c preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

I usually have this for lunch when I couldn't be bothered to cook and just want a quick one. I just spread some pesto, top the focaccia with roasted capsicum, zucchini and mushroom, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill it until the cheese melts.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tokwa't isda (tofu and fish)

I still have a fillet of thawed white fish that is a part of a batch which I cooked as fish tempura (coming up on this blog). I saved this one fillet because I thought the 3 fillets would be too much for the 3 of us since I also made vegetable tempura and a cold leftover tempura is no fun to eat.
This dish is very timely for the coming lenten season. Although we do not do abstinence, we keep it simple on good Fridays. What is the purpose of giving up meat if you're going to have prawns and lobsters instead. I believe that the true meaning of abstinence and fasting is sharing Jesus' suffering in our own small way so we can truly appreciate God's love for us.
Those of you meatlovers should give this dish a chance before you turn your backs.
Have I mentioned that this dish is derived from the famous tokwa't baboy?

tokwa't isda

200 gms of white fish fillet(cut into strips)
6 blocks of tokwa(tofu, cubed)
1 red onion
1/2 c light soy sauce (kikkoman)
1 tbsp white vinegar (thinly sliced)
crushed garlic
chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 cup flour
cooking oil for deep frying

Season flour with pepper. I don't add salt anymore because the sauce is salty enough. Pat dry the fish and dredge in the flour shaking off any excess.
Heat the oil to high and deep fry tofu in batches until golden brown. Deep fry the fish taking care not to over crowd the pan. Combine tofu and fish in a serving dish
To make the sauce, mix the onion, garlic, chilli flakes, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce in a small bowl. You may pour it over the fried fish and tofu or you can serve it as a dip on the side which I prefer to avoid the dish from getting all soggy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Banana jaffa loaf cake

I cut out recipes that captures my fancy from newspapers and magazines and stick them in my recipe books and generally forget about them. The other day, I was just sorting through my old stuff and found this recipe for a banana chocolate cake. I already have a recipe for a banana cake which uses grated orange rind and just smells wonderful and is light and moist. So I decided why not marry the two recipes. The slightly bitter cocoa dusted crust creates a delicious contrast to the sweet flavour of orange and banana.
This is also good for the lunchbox. I generally don't buy cakes and muffins for my boys' lunchbox. It's not just the cost, which mind you is really outrageous. Most store bought cakes, cookies and pastries have trans fat.
This loaf is so easy to make, I timed myself and it took me 30 minutes max. Don't count the 1 hour that it sits in the oven. You don't have to watch it. You can make dinner while it's in the oven. Just don't forget to set the timer. To freeze this cake. Slice into desired thickness and wrap individually in a clingwrap. Just pop in your kid's lunchbox and it will thaw by morning tea.

Banana jaffa loaf cake

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
grated rind of 1 orange
3/4 c caster sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/4 c extra light olive oil or canola oil
1/3 c milk
1 1/3 c self-raising flour
3/4 c coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 c chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt

preheat oven to 180c
Spray loaf pan with cooking oil spray and dust all sides with cocoa. Sift self raising flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix in walnuts and chocolate chips. Make a well in the centre. In a smaller bowl, combine first 6 ingredients and mix well. Pour into the flour mixture and gently stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for approx. 1 hour or until top springs back when pressed. Stand in the pan for 5 minutes.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chicken kaldereta

I'm trying to add more tomato based dishes in our meals because tomatoes has lots of antioxidants and good for the male specie (lowers risk of prostate cancer). So if you want to keep your MOTH(man of the house) for a long time, feed him tomato based dinners. Raw tomatoes are not as good because it has to reach a certain temperature before it releases lycopene(the good stuff).
I always make beef kaldereta but this is the first time I've made chicken kaldereta. Unlike beef kaldereta, I wanted the sauce to be light and not too rich. I omitted the liver pate' as I thought it's too overpowering for the chicken but I added fennel seed and some herbs that I have in my garden. Dried ones works well too but reduce the amount to a third. I also added lots of stuffed olives because all of us love it including my son who has developed a gourmet taste. He was two when he first tried pesto served on the plane when we went home to the Philippines for a holiday and since then became his favorite pasta sauce.

He loved the kaldereta and couldn't wait for dinner as you can see in the photo.

chicken caldereta
1 k chicken drumsticks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c tomato paste
1bay leaf
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium carrots, cubed
1 medium capsicum (bell pepper), diced
1 small can pineapple
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 c frozen peas
1 c green olives
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 sprig rosemary
pinch of fennel seed
olive oil
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil and saute onion and garlic until transparent. Turn up heat and add chicken until slightly browned. Turn down heat to medium high and stir in tomato paste and saute for 1 minute. Pour 500 ml of water or chicken broth and add paprika, herbs, fennel seed and bay leaf and cover for ten minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots, pineapple and capsicum and boil until the potatoes are tender then season with salt and pepper and stir in the frozen peas, olives and 1/2 c grated cheese and return to boil. Turn off the heat and serve.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


This recipe is so simple and quick to make. I wasn't even thinking of posting this but I noticed that the other recipes I happen to check were all requiring rice flour. My instinct already told me that I should use glutinous rice flour like my mother and lola used to make. That nothing was wrong with that recipe. But no, curiosity killed the cat or palitaw in this case. It turned out tough and nothing like what palitaw should be.

So folks here is a true and tested recipe for palitaw. I added a few drops of sesame oil in the 'galapong' because I did not have any sesame seeds and sesame oil is the only sesame thing that I have if you get my drift, so it will have to do. I think I just set the world record for using the word sesame in one sentence. Just a few drops to give that fragrant flavour. I don't use grated fresh coconut because I dont like it in my palitaw but feel free to do so.

Serve while warm or microwave it and sprinkle more peanut mixture. I like to have native kakanin with jasmine green tea. It compliments the delicacies sweet rich taste.

3 cups glutinous rice flour
1 1/3 cup water
pinch of salt
dash of sesame oil
2 c roasted peanut, ground
1 1/2 c white sugar

Boil water in a pan or pot.
Mix the first four ingredients. Add some more water if the 'galapong' is too dry or flour if it's sticky and hard to handle. Mix the ground peanut and sugar adjusting the sugar to suit your taste.
Roll 'galapong' into balls and flatten with your thumb. Slowly slide them in the boiling water. Do not overcrowd. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the ones that have floated to the surface.

Coat each palitaw with the peanut mixture and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle some more of the ground mixture and serve warm.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cornbread muffins

Normally, I would make a mashed potato or turmeric rice to go with the roast chicken but I thought I'll give the cornbread muffin another go. I made this muffin in the not so distant past and it turned out tough. It took me awhile to figure out how I can make it better. I reduced the amount of polenta(cornmeal) and increased the amount of plain flour and it turned out just the way I wanted it to, crunchy top and soft bottom.

Cornbread muffin

makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 c self-raising flour

1/2 c yellow cornmeal

3/4 c sugar

3/4 c corn kernels

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 c milk

1/4 c cooking oil

2 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp baking powder

pinch of bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 190 c

Mix all the dry ingredients and in a bowl. Add the corn kernels. Make a well in the center and add the milk, eggs, vanilla and oil. Fold gently until just combined.

Divide into 12 1/3 cup capacity muffin pans and bake for 12-15 minutes or until top springs back when pressed.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday roast chicken

One of our all time fave dinner and my fave to prepare. I named it sunday roast chicken because I usually make this when the boys are home and we all can share a nice dinner without turning my kitchen upsidedown in preparation. It's simple, it's easy and it's yummy. Just rub the chicken with the salt rub and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight. This chicken is so tasty I don't need to make a gravy unless it's mash potato on the side. This time I made corn muffins ala kenny rogers to go with it. I'm going to post the recipe for that in my next blog.

I just pop the chicken in the oven and do something else. Microwave a bowl of frozen peas, corn and carrots and dinner's ready.

You can also use the salt rub for the grilled chicken breast to be used in the chicken pesto pasta recipe

sunday roast chicken

salt rub:
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp
grated rind of 2 lemon, juice reserved
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp olive oil

Clean a 1.5 k chicken excess fat removed. Dry with a paper towel. Pour the lemon juice and rub inside out. Mix all the ingredients for the salt rub and massage it to the chicken including the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the lemons that's been juiced. Leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to overnight to let the flavours develop. The longer you marinade it the better. Just don't go overboard. There's always the danger of salmonella poisoning when poultry is left too long in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 190 c or 180 for convection oven. Roast the chicken for 1.5 to 2 hours. Prick the thickest part of the thigh. The juice should be clear when cooked. If not return to the oven and cook for a further 15 mins before checking again.