December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

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Morcon

Beef Morcon

beef
2 pieces beef round, about ½ inch thick, butterflied
2 tablespoons calamansi or lemon juice
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt

filling
Vienna sausages sliced lengthwise in four
Cheddar cheese strips
boiled eggs, sliced in strips
sweet whole pickles preferably very small (cornichons), otherwise cut into strips

stewing liquid
2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
water to cover meat rolls
soy sauce, salt, pepper to taste
  • Mix ingredients and marinate beef overnight in fridge. Drain meat, reserving the marinade. Lay on a large platter, place one set of filling on one long end, roll up, place another set of filling up to just halfway of the meat, roll up completely. Tie with kitchen twine all over, crosswise and lengthwise. 
  • Place in a large pan, add the reserved marinade and all the sauce ingredients, simmer in medium low heat for 2 hours. 
  • Fish out the rolls and let rest. 
  • Remove the bay leaves, adjust seasoning, then puree with an immersion blender or let cool a bit and transfer to a blender, blend in batches. Spoon sauce on a serving platter. 
  • Remove twine, slice morcon, arrange on top of sauce. Serve hot with lots of sauce.
Macaroni Salad


Macaroni Salad

1 pound cooked elbow macaroni
1½ cups mayonnaise
1 16-ounce can pineapple chunks, cut into four
1 fresh red bell pepper, diced
3 Nathan's all beef hot dogs, sliced thin
salt and sugar to taste
  • Mix all ingredients and chill overnight before serving.


New Year's Eve Menu Is Halfway Done

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Philippine Yemas

The macaroni salad is cooling in the fridge and the morcon is already stewing. Oh, yeah, I remember now why I never make morcon: it is so tedious to prepare. It took me almost an hour tying the rolls and maybe used up a hundred yards of kitchen twine! I made the yema balls last night and baked the meringue for the silvanas. I still have to prepare the buttercream though and I'm not sure if I still have the energy.

Philippine Yema Candies

Philippine Yemas

6 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup sugar
toothpicks
pieces of cellophane to wrap candies
  • In a small saucepan, mix milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium-low heat to a paste, stirring constantly. Form into 1 inch balls. 
  • In a heavy stainless steel pan, caramelize half the sugar. Moving quickly, dip the balls with toothpicks. Remove the candies by gently twisting the toothpick then pull out. Set the candies on a piece of aluminum foil to cool. 
  • If the caramel turns too brown throw it out. Clean the pan, caramelize another ¼ cup of sugar and dip the remaining balls. 
  • You can also roll the yema balls on white sugar, if preferred.
  • Wrap in colored or white cellophane.
Caramel Coated Philippine Yemas

I don't use non-stick pan to caramelize sugar to be able to see the color progress of the caramel properly. Once the caramel gets too dark, throw it out and heat up another batch, ½ cup at a time.



December 29, 2006

Son-in-Law Eggs

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Son-in-Law Eggs

I'm not sure why the Thais call this dish son-in-law eggs. hmm. This is one of the simplest but tasty egg dishes to make, the ingredients are few and preparation is so easy. With very fresh tip yuchoy you can have a meatless dinner that's healthy and satisfying.

This recipe is from The Thai Cookbook by Pannipa Dibbayawan and Guy Cox, published in 1988

Son-in-Law Eggs
6 eggs
light olive oil
2 tablespoons fried shallot flakes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons nam pla (fish extract)
2 tablespoons vinegar or tamarind water (1 teaspoon tamarind paste + 2 tablespoons water)
  • Boil eggs for 8 minutes, cool immediately in cold water. Peel them then cut in half, you can leave the eggs whole but you will need more oil. Cover a big frying pan with 1/3 inch oil, fry the eggs cut side down until brown or slightly blistered but do not overcook. Arrange on a serving dish fried side up. Remove all the oil and throw in the shallot flakes, fry for a second, then remove them. On low heat stir brown sugar, nam pla and vinegar, bring to a boil then pour over the eggs. Sprinkle fried onions evenly on top. Garnish with chopped chilis and serve with steamed rice.
*I fried only the egg yolk side and did not wait until they are golden brown in color as eggs become rubbery when overcooked. I think frying the eggs whole until golden brown will make the dish more visually appealing.

Tip Yuchoy
fresh and crunchy steamed tip yuchoy season with sea salt


December 28, 2006

Filipino Style New Year's Menu

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I have been thinking of making round shaped food for New Year's Eve. I grew up with this tradition of eating 12 round food on New Year's Eve, usually 12 grapes, you can't really eat, say 12 apples (or watermelons?) or 12 putos in one sitting. It has something to do do with money (coin), which means the New Year will bring you luck, financially, the next 12 months. This old wives' tale/superstition most probably came from the Chinese, or maybe from the Kastilas (Filipino term for the Spanish-Filipino) or a combination, I don't know. I remember as a child every January 1st I was forced to wear a polka dot dress, silly, I know, but what can you do when you're a child, you have to do what your parents tell you. You can't have a tantrum or you'll be crying the next 365.242199 days.

New Year's Eve Menu:
Beef Morcon (meat roll-up or roulade), recipe here
Filipino style macaroni salad, recipe here
A plateful of puto: white, ube, pandan and Biñan, recipes here
Caramel coated yemas (egg yolk candies), recipe here
Piayas and Silvanas (if I have time)
I will post the finished snacks and sweets on different days as I finish making them.

December 22, 2006

My 2006 Top Fiction Books

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I just finished reading my last book for this year, the excellent MEASURING THE WORLD by Daniel Kehlmann, translated from German by Carol Brown Janeway.

Here are my 2006 top 5 fiction books, all earning 5 stars, in no particular order:
  • THE LAST WITCHFINDER James Morrow
  • MEASURING THE WORLD Daniel Kehlmann
  • AMAZING DISGRACE James Hamilton-Paterson
  • THE PALE BLUE EYE Louis Bayard
  • THE BLUE AFTERNOON William Boyd (1995)
I read a total of 25 fiction and 4 non-fiction books this year, oof, that's too much (I need to watch more TV):D


December 21, 2006

Cornish Game Hens Adobo

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Game Hen Adobo

I couldn't decide what to prepare for Christmas. Turkey is for Turkey Day so that's out, I was considering roast duck or goose but then I have to either roast a small chicken or cornish game hens for people who don't like duck. I decided on a large chicken to add to the usual ham, queso de bola, etc. Since I already have these very tiny (less than a pound each) Cornish game hens taking up space in my freezer (nope, I did not hunt these myself) I cooked them adobo style using fruity pineapple vinegar and sherry instead of the usual Filipino coconut vinegar, and with just a tablespoon of soy sauce. The result is a sweetish adobo with deep dark brown sauce and is utterly delicious. It reminds me of the quail adobado that we used to order at Mingoy's restaurant in Magallanes. I was really thinking of quail to make into adobado but then the ones I saw in the grocery all look anorexic, literally skin and bones. The cornish game hens are healthier looking and meatier and cute...

Mung Bean Soup

Boiled mung beans with garlic chunks, sliced onions, a bay leaf, some sea salt and lots of Spanish extra virgin olive oil is the perfect vegetable soup to serve with the flavorful hens. I don't saute the garlic and onions, I just boil them together and there are no added flavorings.

LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS WISH: Aimee Mann Christmas CD
This seems out of the ordinary. The queen of angsty music and perpetually dour Aimee Mann singing Christmas songs! I can't wait to hear them, one song was co-written by her husband Michael Penn and Jon Brion, woohoo.

December 19, 2006

Quince Marmalade

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Quince Marmalade

Quince

I am loving David Lebovitz' cookbook RIPE FOR DESSERT. His quince marmalade looks so good with Spanish Manchego cheese, one of my favorites which I always use for apple and fig grilled cheese sandwich. You will need 3 quinces and half a lemon.

To make: Place in a medium sauce pan 3 cups sugar and 4 cups water, bring to a boil. Quarter, peel and core the quinces then coarsely grate using a metal grater. Add the lemon half and the grated quince to the boiling syrup. Slow cook on medium heat until thick and reddish in color, about 30 minutes or when candy thermometer reads 220. Remove the lemon half and spoon into clear jar. Enjoy.

Celery Root Soup

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Celery Root Soup

My daughter has been nagging me to make this soup that I borrowed from my favorite food blog. The soup is really delicious, an excellent alternative to potato or corn chowder. The 2 strips of bacon is just the right amount of flavoring. Perfect with grilled (aged gouda) cheese sandwich.

Celery Root
ugly on the outside, super yummy in the inside

December 18, 2006

Sorbet In Winter

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Sorbet

Costco always has something new in their warehouse that will surely make you buy (and become obese if it's food). I went this afternoon for more persimmons (there was none) and saw a table offering low fat, low sugar sorbet. After tasting the really really good ice dessert I noticed the single serving (about less than a C) containers: a very tiny real pineapple shell, a real coconut shell, hollowed out half orange and lemon rinds. The box contains 2 of each flavor : orange mango, lemon, coconut and piña colada. My freezer is full but I just can't resist them, nobody can, I think. As I was leaving the table a large group of women were already oohing and aahing. Costco is the devil!

Orange Sorbet
I already had the orange mango....hmm tomorrow, the coconut, can't wait.

Note on the title: the weather is not so wintry nor Christmas-y the last week or so, specially today, high was 61° F in Ashburn, as high as 72° F in DC, that's hot! I hope it gets colder by Christmas.

December 15, 2006

Been Baking and Frosting The Whole Day

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Cupcake Tote

Today is my daughter's office Christmas party, she asked me 2 weeks ago to bake a dozen each of both the vanilla and red velvet cupcakes. Baking 2 half batches of different flavors is time consuming, I kid you not. It took me the whole day including frosting them and putting them on the carrying trays (and I don't get paid for my efforts). Hmm, I should be selling these cupcakes next time. I was worrying that they would get squished or damaged during transport, but then I saw this 3 piece gadget: baking pan, tray, and a cover that has a handle to carry both pan and tray and they all lock in place, very nifty idea. You can easily bring 2 dozens iced cupcakes with ease, without them touching and moving around. I love the person who invented this.

December 12, 2006

Orange Cauliflower

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Orange Cauliflower

I see a lot of different colored cauliflowers, purple, lime green and orange in many groceries lately. The label on this orange one says it has added nutrients and because I buy produce that looks pretty for posing, this one is a winner. I looked online for a good recipe and found this. I used the juice of one key lime in place of lemon. This dish is delicious! I really really like it. I never imagined combining anchovies with the bland and awful smelling cauliflower but the different flavors blend well perfectly.

Orange Cauliflower
homemade Spanish chorizo, orange cauliflower with anchovies, and ube pandesal for dinner

Fuyu Persimmons, Kumquats & Key Limes

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Fuyu Persimmons
Fuyu Persimmon
note the 8 point star, similar to caimito, although the consistency is not as snotty

I just discovered these wonderful fruits Fuyu persimmons that I have been reading about and ignoring. I saw them in Bangkok 20 years ago and was told by the hawker not to bother with them, that they are very expensive and don't taste great. He said only the Japanese tourists love them, and I believed him. How can a fruit that looks like a very pale tomato taste good. That's my reason for not trying them for that long. Over a week ago I bought 3 pieces to photograph. One Korean lady told me to leave them on the counter for 5 days to ripen and to eat them when they are very soft but not mushy. Well, the Thai guy was wrong, they are very good when fully ripe and I love them, they're very sweet and the middle section near the seeds (2 or none at all) has the consistency similar to the Philippine caimito or star apple. The fruit is not bland at all, it has a unique taste I guess. I bought a box of 10 pieces today and will wait at least 3 days to enjoy them. I also bought fresh key limes, which is dayap in the Philippines, and kumquats.

I also have been ignoring kumquats because I don't know how to use them in cooking. But they look so pretty, I bought a small quantity to take photographs for my flickr site. The salesperson told me to roll them in my hands until they are soft and they somehow become sweeter and she is absolutely right. You eat the whole fruit skin and all, except the seeds, it's sweet and tart, I also love them and they are so photogenic, too. They can also be candied whole or sliced. I prefer to eat them fresh.

Kumquat
Kumquats
Kumquat
tiny at 1½ x 1 inch sweet and tart kumquat, the taste lingers in your mouth like a breath freshener

Key Limes
key limes

December 8, 2006

Magnolia Bakery's Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

The recipes in this cookbook are not so extraordinary. I think many of the recipes can be found in other American cakes and cookie cookbooks like Better Homes & Garden recipe collections. But I am very satisfied with the red velvet 3 layer cake recipe which I halved and made into cupcakes for my daughter to try if they are good enough to take to her office Christmas party. The recipe is not as simple as the vanilla cupcake recipe and requires a lot of cleaning up afterwards. But then you are rewarded with these very very red, soft and moist delicious cakes. I didn't make the Creamy Vanilla Frosting that's supposed to ice these cakes because I wanted to try this real buttercream icing with powdered egg whites, butter and sugar. This is the best buttercream icing ever, not so sweet, it is very creamy and just perfect.

Red Velvet Cupcake
Red Velvet Cupcake

I ate 2 of these sweeties after posing them, I can't help it, they're so yummy.

Red Velvet Cake with Creamy Vanilla Frosting
From MORE FROM MAGNOLIA cookbook, pages 86 & 87

cake
3 1/3 cups cake flour
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla exract
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 ½cups butttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
  • In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • When the cake has cooled, spread the frosting between the layers, then ice the top and side of the cake with Creamy Vanilla Frosting.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting
from MORE FROM MAGNOLIA cookbook, page 126

This silky smooth frosting is made by beating together softened butter and sugar with a thick saucelike base. Be sure to follow the recipe directions exactly.

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10 - 15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, on medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.
  • Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer - set a timer!). Use immediately.

December 4, 2006

Chili With Pink Beans & Chouriços

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Chili with Pink Beans and Chourico

Hot and spicy chili with beans is the perfect dish when it's cold outside. My stick-on thermometer at 1 PM today registered a low 28°F and with a slight wind chill it feels like 25°F. It is cold!! And I was thinking of putting the Christmas lights on my front bushes later today. I guess I have to wear a thick jacket and eat lots of chili before going out.

8 ounces dry pink or pinto beans
1 pound chouriços or chorizos, diced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 Thai red chili, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped fine
16 ounces can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup beef broth
grated cheese and saltines
  • Soak the beans overnight, simmer until tender, drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute garlic and onion for 2 minutes, add sausages and saute until sausages are cooked and slightly browned. Add all the spices, cook for 2 minutes, then add all the remaining ingredients except cheese and saltines. Simmer for 1 hour. Adjust seasoning. Serve with grated cheese and saltines.

December 3, 2006

The Washington Post Book World Top 10 List for 2006

None of the fiction books I read this year made it to this year's The Washington Post Book World top 5, one non-fiction did, THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: A NATURAL HISTORY OF FOUR MEALS by Michael Pollan.

Books I read that are in the 100 best fiction:
THE LAST WITCHFINDER James Morrow
THE MISSION SONG John le Carré
THE PALE BLUE EYE Louis Bayard
RESTLESS William Boyd
TALK TALK T.C. Boyle
BLACK SWAN GREEN David Mitchell
THE CRIMES OF JORDAN WISE Bill Pronzini

I am baffled that THE ACCIDENTAL by Ali Smith is among the list of 100. I think this novel is incredibly awful and one of the worst books in my honest opinion.

Possibly The Worst Books I Have Ever Read In My Entire Life (in no particular order, they are all terrible):
THE ACCIDENTAL Ali Smith
THE FIG EATER Jody Shields
DEADLY SLIPPER Michelle Wan
LAST MAN STANDING David Baldacci

December 1, 2006

Choucroute Garnie

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Choucroute Garni

Choucroute garnie for dinner tonight. Just a fancy French name for sauerkraut and meat, this recipe is from my old reliable Betty Crocker cookbook. I make this dish when I only have an hour to cook dinner, it is very easy and simple to prepare and so delicious. Make sure you have plenty of hard rolls to soak up the sauce.

2 rashers bacon, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 chopped onion
16 oz drained sauerkraut
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 pound smoked beef kielbasa, cut into 3 inch pieces and scored
4 smoked porkloin
2 apples, sliced into 8 wedges
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup chicken broth
6 peppercorns, 2 whole cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley - put in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with string.
  • In a large pot, fry bacon until brown. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat, add onions and saute until cooked, add sauerkraut and brown sugar. Add the spices and meat, put the potatoes and apples on top. Pour the chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes.

November 27, 2006

Ube Pandesal

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Ube Pandesal
Ube Pandesal

I baked ube (purple yam) pandesal (breakfast or dinner rolls) today, the recipe from the Filipino cookbook Memories of Philippine Kitchens. The bread is so soft and has a fine texture. The ube taste is faint, though, but I really like the nice light purple color. Add ½ cup of ube powder with every 3 cups of flour to your recipe for hot rolls or pandesal.

I was running late as I had a lot of errands to do today but was able to bake a batch of Cherry Sultana cakes and the ube buns. Every Christmas season I buy cakes and other goodies like marzipanstollen and pfeffernüsse cookies which are only available this time of year. I made the Cherry Sultana because I haven't seen them here in the US. The ones I had in the Philippines were from Australia that came in a sealed tin, I remember them so moist and filled with lots and lots of cherries. This recipe says there is no need to ripen but I still moistened the cakes with Kirschwasser syrup and will cure them for at least 2 weeks. I altered the recipe by adding 1 more cup of cherries, the more cherries, the better, trust me...

Cherry Sultana Cake

moist chock-full of cherries and sultana cake

I fried some thick bacon rashers and added them to baked beans, so good with the hot rolls.

Ube Pandesal Dinner
breakfast food at 7 in the evening, yum, yum

November 23, 2006

It's Turkey Day!

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Tommy

Everybody (maybe) is happy, thankful and full today except for baby Tommy. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 17, 2006

Chestnuts

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Chestnuts

As a child I didn't care much for chestnuts. When I was around 5 or 6 years old I was baffled by my mother's yearly love affair with castañas (Spanish for chestnuts) usually in December as Christmas approached. She used to sit quietly at the table nibbling on maybe a pound of them until they're all gone. She was the only person in my family at that time who loved roasted chestnuts. My father, my older sister and I never shared her enthusiasm for them, we all thought they tasted of boiled sweet potatoes, nothing special about them. Most probably all those years she was secretly ecstatic that she didn't have to share them with anyone. Once in a while over the years she would coax us to try them but we were not convinced, same with the 2 younger siblings that came after me. I only "discovered" how good they are when I was in my 20s, with a 3 year old child. The new neighbors who also had a small child once waved us over to her house to introduce themselves. They were on their front porch eating roasted chestnuts and offered some which I refused but the wife was insistent and even opened and skinned one for me and since then I was hooked. I was wondering why they didn't taste of sweet potato as I remembered from childhood!! Since then every December I looked for them at the grocery (Rustan's) and at the Greenhills Shopping Center to see if they're available, which was not often in the Philippines. The ones we used to get came from China which in my honest opinion is the best tasting and the sweetest chestnuts, maybe because they are small and the flavor perhaps is concentrated, I don't know. There were years when there weren't any chestnuts at all due to restrictions on imported goods. When I was working at the Asian Development Bank my boss used to give us a Christmas gift basket with chocolates, imported fruits and the most important and the ones I treasured the most were the Japanese chestnuts. They were a lot bigger than the Chinese variety but were not as sweet. But chestnuts are chestnuts, I'll take them wherever they came from. I had my first European chestnuts in Luzern (Lucerne), Switzerland in October 1987. My companions and I were walking for some sightseeing when we stepped on colossal chestnuts that have fallen from the trees along the sidewalk. One of the girls and I were shrieking with glee and started picking the nuts (I know, WE WERE NUTS!), not thinking how and where in the hotel we were going to cook them. I was wearing a sweater that did not have pockets and my handbag had no room for the nuts so my friend put them all in the huge pockets of her jacket. Then as we turned the corner there was a vendor selling freshly roasted chestnuts. The two us felt really stupid and bought a pound each that we nibbled on as we walked to meet the other people in our group. She did not throw the nuts in her pockets, I think she brought them back to Manila.

Untitled

My friend, her name is Tess, is on the right clutching the brown paper bag, that's me in the middle with my own bag warming my underarm. The other girl whose name is also Tess thought we were really crazy. That same year in December I was in chestnuts heaven. We were invited to the office Christmas party in Hong Kong and on our last night there, I saw a hawker right ouside the MTR train station beckoning me with the smell of roasting chestnuts, I felt giddy, all these wonderful chestnuts right in front of me. I asked the hawker for the price which was HK$12, and I asked for 10 pounds. He got mad and shooed me away, all the while mumbling in Cantonese and I was confused. Did he not want to sell me 10 pounds? Did he only sell half pound at a time? And then it came to me, since he did not understand English he thought I was asking for a discount, so I pointed to the weighing scale, my finger went round 10 times and he understood, grinned from ear to ear and gave them to me for HK$10 per pound. In my opinion the Chinese have the best method of roasting chestnuts. They cook them in a very very large wok filled with small stones or pebbles that are oiled, they bury the chestnuts in the very hot stones, then mix them once in a while with a gigantic spatula and fish out the chestnuts with an equally gigantic sieve. I can't figure out why the inner thin skin does not stick to the nuts at all even when they have gotten cold. It's a pity in my excitement I did not take a photo of the hawker. So, I carried the big bag of hot chestnuts to our hotel room and hand carried them back to Manila. Yes, I am nuts for chestnuts! And the chestnuts gods were kind to me, the very next year we moved to Hong Kong and I had my roasted chestnuts for the next 4 Christmas seasons. The first marrons glacés I had were a gift to my father-in-law from some Japanese businessmen also in the 80s. The Japanese marrons glacés were heavenly and once again I fell in love with another kind of chestnuts, this time it's candied. I know they are really, really expensive and only bought them once but haven't tried the French ones. My homemade ones are good enough for me. Nowadays, I buy dried Chinese chestnuts whenever they are available at the Korean groceries. I use them with bread stuffing and with Chinese recipes. I also buy the packaged roasted and peeled, ready to eat, also from China, very cheap at .90¢ for a 100gm package and they are available all year round.

Roasted Chestnuts

November 13, 2006

Sweet!

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Chocolate Covered Potato Crisps
chocolate covered rippled potato crisps, sweet and salty all at once

Candied Chestnuts
marrons glacés, very difficult to make but worth all the effort

Chocolate Covered Candied Pomelo Peels
Candied Pomelo Peels
candied pomelo, so good either with chocolate coating or rolled in sugar

Sweet!
Tada! A plateful of sweets to satisfy sugar and chocolate cravings

Giant Muffin
really big super yummy chocolate chip muffin, great with chai

Vanilla Cupcakes

And, my attempt at Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcakes. This recipe is so yummy, they came out perfect. My only complaint is the butter icing, it uses powdered sugar which makes them terribly sweet and leaves a powdery tongue feel. I will have to use another buttercream icing with less sugar next time I make these which is...in a few days.

November 5, 2006

Marrons Glacés and Black Forest Cake

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Candied Chestnuts (Marrons Glaces)

The marrons glacés are almost perfect, I have to adjust the icing though as it crystalized overnight. I only learned this morning I should use glucose to prevent the icing from crystalizing and they have to be consumed right away (no problem there). The broken ones are wonderful as vanilla ice cream topping. I would have preferred the European or Japanese jumbo chestnuts but they are not available here and the fairly large Italian ones I bought the past years were not so good, half of them were rotten. These same size as Italian chestnuts from Korea were fresher and there were very few bad nuts (they probably are in the North, just kidding). I will be featuring, actually reminiscing about, chestnuts in future post. I was going to throw the glaze that's stuck on the cookie rack and sheet but my daughter suggested we use it to sweeten coffee or tea. And she is absolutely right, the sugar has a faint vanilla and chestnut flavors, we started picking and eating them! Mmmm, sugar...

Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake

I froze the cake overnight for ease of slicing and for the slices to look neat. My cake does not look like it came from a bakeshop (sigh), I can never make those beautiful chocolate curls and make them stick on the side properly (Note to self: learn how and practice till you get it right!), but it certainly tastes excellent and that matters more than looks.

November 3, 2006

Marrons Glacés and Candied Pomelo

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Candied Chestnuts

Since I am temporarily giving up on making Aplets & Cotlets (we have 2 18.5 oz boxes, that's more than 2 lbs of candies), I am attempting to make marrons glacés and candied pomelo. Both are tedious to make, but I know I can do it! The marrons need at least 3 days to make and the candied pomelo a week perhaps. At the insane price of $18 for a 1.5oz of French marrons glacés and the readily available Korean chestnuts so cheap at $1 a pound it's worth making. I am also making Black Forest cake today, it's been maybe 2 years since I made this. I'm taking a short break from ice cream, there are other fatty unhealthy food to consume, hehe. The chestnuts were shelled then boiled for 30 minutes, then the inner skins were peeled, then boiled for 30 minutes in syrup (with vanilla). They will sit in syrup overnight. Tomorrow I will fish them out one by one then boil the syrup, dip the chestnuts, boil the syrup again, then dip again....you get the point ....until the chestnuts are properly iced or glazed. I'm making them now and if they turn out great I can make more for Christmas.

Pomelo

I will start with the pomelo tomorrow. The cake is just to satisfy a craving for dark chocolate cake moistened with kirschwasser...filled with morello cherries...iced with sweetened whipped cream...decorated with chocolate shavings/curls...... Why so much sweets? Well, why not?

November 1, 2006

Vegemeat and Potato Pie

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Vegemeat and Potato Pie

I have been cooking a lot of fatty pork dishes lately I'm afraid that we might start oinking. I know it is so unhealthy but I got tired of making the same seitan/tofu, but what is there to make? Beans, beans, beans, also boring, boring, boring. With the addition of the left over candies I really HAVE to prepare something healthy. Standing in front of my cookbooks and with my eyes closed I got the first that my hand landed on which was a very old Singaporean cookbook, a compilation of recipes from a Singaporean magazine called Female. The recipe I chose is not Asian, it's more British-ish, a sort of shepherd's pie, meat sauted with onions but the potatoes are sliced and layered instead of mashed and piped on top of the meat. The pie is topped with bechamel sauce and grated sharp cheddar cheese.

To make: Boil 1 lb whole yukon gold potatoes, set aside to cool, when cooled, peel and slice. Saute 1 chopped onion until cooked, add 1.5 lbs combination of ground beef flavor seitan and tvp, add salt and pepper to taste, add a cup of reduced fat milk, simmer until almost dry. Grate cheese to 1.5 cups. Prepare bechamel sauce, add half a cup of cheese to the sauce, then add half a cup of the sauce to the vegemeat. Oil a deep baking dish, layer potatoes, then half of the vegemeat, then another layer of potatoes and vegemeat. Spread all the sauce on top then sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top of the sauce. Bake in a 400F oven until brown.

Vegemeat and Potato Pie

 
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