October 29, 2007

The Bad Plus And Jason Moran Concert

I went to see a double bill performance concert last night in the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C. First on was jazz pianist Jason Moran who did an excellent show. He was accompanied by a small band: alto and tenor sax, trombone, trumpet, tuba, bass and drums. His program was based on a 1959 Town Hall concert by Thelonius Monk. Before every song begins, a visual and audio of Monk being interviewed or talking with his band was shown on a screen behind the band. It was like a TV special with live music, interesting and entertaining. All the musicians are exceptional although in one instance I hardly heard the piano during the loud playing of all instruments specially the 2 saxophones. I did not expect to love it but I honestly did regardless of the sax. I haven't listened to anything with saxophone (thanks Kenny G for ruining sax for me and probably for everyone else on this entire planet!) but with excellent musicians playing avant-garde jazz style I might start liking the saxophone again.:=) Click on his name to check out the next two performances. I highly recommend his show.

The Bad Plus as usual did not disappoint and was LOUD when it was time to be loud. Some parents who accompanied their teenagers left the auditorium when they thought nobody was looking, I guess they didn't like tbp's music. Well, their music is not for everybody. If you like classical piano AND hard rock, you will probably like them but if you are into smooth jazz you'll probably hate their style of music which is hard to categorize, they are jazzy with a little bit of rock and a touch of classical piano playing. (One example is their cover of Black Sabbath's Iron Man, the tune is familiar but with semi-classical feel with the piano and bass sound, plus relentless drumming.) They played 4 new songs and 4 songs from their records. What I like is they vary their sound each time they play a song. And the last song they played, Silence Is The Question, from their first album GIVE (I played this song over and over for maybe 6 months non-stop) started very slow and soft, as it should be, for maybe 5 minutes then they gradually got louder, more forceful and the ending was magnificently heart pounding! I love tbp!

October 28, 2007

Nuts About Nuts!

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It's the last week of October which means party, party party! which will probably last until early next year. It also means you have to think of what food to bring to these events. Because I love nuts I recommend sweet or savory nuts. They are easy to prepare and to transport unlike cakes which can easily get squished or the quick to spoil macaroni salad. They can be served as appetizers or desserts or dinner/lunch munchies.

October 24, 2007

Mushroom And Wild Rice Soup

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Finally, it feels a teensy bit like fall. Usually by this time of the year I would be making soup at least twice a week but since the first day of autumn the temperature started rising and stayed at a summer-like 80°F until today. Actually it still isn't as cold as it should be but I'm in the mood for mushroom soup and because I have a container of assorted dried mushrooms: morel, porcini, Brazilian caps, ivory portabella, shiitake, oyster. I adapted the recipe on the container using vegetable broth and added fresh baby criminis and cooked wild rice. The wild rice is a wonderful addition because of its chewy texture not to mention it's good for you.

Mushroom And Wild Rice Soup
2 cups re-hydrated mixed wild mushrooms (cut big ones into bite size pieces)
2 cups fresh baby crimini
2 cups cooked wild rice
¼ cupbutter
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 cup flour
½ cup dry sherry
6 cups vegetable broth
salt to taste
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, add oil, onion and garlic and saute until onions are soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until all the moisture is mostly gone. Add the flour and stirring often, cook for 5-7 minutes until the flour looks and smells lightly toasted. Add sherry and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in vegetable broth and salt. Let come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add rice, heavy cream, and thyme and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread or garlic bread sticks. Or top spaghetti noodles with this thick soup, it's incredibly delicious.

October 21, 2007

Marzipan Halloween Candies

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marzipan pumpkins

marzipan fingers

A large bag of almonds has been sitting in my freezer for I don't know how long. I had to use them up before they go rancid so I made marzipan. Making your own marzipan is time consuming but costs just a fraction of what you'll pay for several 7-oz cans of ready-made marzipan which will probably yield just a dozen of miniature fruits per can. The other advantage of making your own is you are sure there are no additives in your marzipan. And I had so much fun making the miniature pumpkins and "severed" fingers. This is a great project for children. Making fruits like bananas, cherries, and oranges is similar to working with clay, the difference is they are cute, edible, and yummy.

4 cups skinless almond meal
2 egg whites
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
powdered sugar for kneading
1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix sugar and water, stir until sugar is melted. Add cream of tartar, bring to a boil. Cover pan and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, attach candy thermometer and cook to 240°F. Turn off heat, stir until the mixture has thickened slightly. Stir in almonds and egg whites. Turn heat back on and cook for 4 minutes. If using almond extract, stir it in now. Transfer the mixture into a silpat-lined board or surface. Using a spatula, turn and knead until cool enough to handle. With gloved hands, knead until pliable, sprinkling powdered sugar if too sticky. Divide into 8-oz pieces, form into rounds, and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate until ready to shape.

Marzipan Pumpkins
8 unces marzipan, homemade or store-bought
orange food color paste
dark brown food color paste
powdered sugar for kneading
  • Set aside about 2 tablespoons of marzipan. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on a silpat-lined surface or large baking sheet, knead the remaining marzipan, add 1/8 tsp orange food color paste, knead well until uniform in color. Add more coloring if you want it brighter than the ones I made. Cut a small piece and shape into a 1-inch ball. Flatten the balls slightly. Using a toothpick, make vertical marks to resemble pumpkins. Set aside.
  • Add brown food color paste a little at a time to the 2 tablespoons marzipan until it is dark chocolate brown in color. Roll into a very thin long piece. Cut into ½ inch pieces. Using the tip of a Japanese plastic chopstick, make tiny holes on top of the pumpkins and insert the stems.

Marzipan Fingers
8 ounces marzipan
10 pieces whole almonds with skin
red food color paste
toothpicks or small food-safe brush
  • Divide marzipan into 10 pieces and form each into fingers. Using a toothpick, make marks to resemble fingers. Using your nails or toothpick fray one end. Using toothpicks or a small brush, dab color paste on frayed end. Taper the other end and press an almond. You can brush the almond the same red food color paste, if desired.

October 19, 2007

Stuffed Edam Cheese Ball

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I bought a cheap, at $6.00, domestic 2-lb baby edam cheese ball for the Via Mare recipe. The aged edam from the Netherlands that traveled to Manila before being exported here in the US (it went on a trip more than halfway around the world) is much too expensive to make into a vegetables and bread sticks dip.

October 16, 2007

Matcha Roll Cake

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I made this cake once before and I really like it. The green tea flavor is so subtle and the cake is not extremely sweet, is so soft and spongy, and with the clean taste of slightly sweetened heavy cream this cake is just so dreamy, mmmm. I will add more matcha next time or maybe food coloring to intensify the grassy green color.

Matcha Roll Cake
¾ cup cake flour
2 tablespoons matcha powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
2 - 3 tablespoons milk
filling: beat 2 cups heavy cream until almost stiff, add 1 - 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
  • Sift together flour, matcha, and baking powder 3 times, set aside.
  • In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, set aside.
  • In another bowl beat egg yolks until very light. Add sugar gradually and beat until light. Add flour mixture, stir on low speed. Add 2 tablespoons milk, continue stirring until mixed. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  • Spread mixture on a parchment paper-lined jelly roll pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
  • Trim edges. Using paper as guide, roll cake from short side, leave on a rack to cool completely. Unroll cake, spread the whipped cream. Re-roll cake, peeling paper as you roll. Refrigerate for 2 hours before slicing.
  • Note: Jelly roll cake recipes usually say to transfer the cake on a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is not really necessary and the powdered sugar will make the outside of the cake whitish and of course add to the sweetness. The paper is better because it will remove the brownish surface layer of the cake and the result is a cleaner, prettier cake.
Check this out. They sell the cake and also has a similar recipe.

October 15, 2007

Pink Hot Dogs

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Have you ever had these Swift brand bright pink almost red hot dogs from the Philippines? I spotted these in the Phil Asia grocery and had to get them. The hot dogs here in the USA pale (no pun intended) in comparison not just in color but also in flavor. These mini hot dogs are super delicious, smooth, meaty, tender, juicy, and most important not as salty as the US hot dogs. The only brand I buy is Nathan's but lately they have become saltier and saltier, sometimes I can't eat them at all. There are some bright red hot dogs in our groceries but they look nasty unlike these cute but yummy Swift babies. Of course, because we are Filipinos, we ate the pink hot dogs for dinner with garlic fried rice and omelet.:D

We also love hot dogs filled with crushed pineapple mixed with yellow mustard, topped with partially fried bacon then baked in the oven until bacon is crisp. This hot dog dish is my version of my mother-in-law's which uses whole strips of bacon wrapped around each hot dog. I cut the bacon in half, fry them to remove some of the fat, then lay each half on top of the hot dogs. They're not as pretty as my M-I-L's hot dogs but they are just as yummy.

hot dogs, yum...plus bacon, double yum

October 11, 2007

Puto Bumbong

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Watching the Via Mare recipes makes me think this early of the coming Christmas holidays, Stuffed Queso de Bola and Stuffed Turkey (or a large chicken) are already on my menu. And I have also been dreaming of Filipino Christmas treats like puto bumbong smothered with butter, plenty of shredded coconut and sugar while drinking hot tea. Black glutinous rice from Thailand (I wonder if the rice is originally from the Philippines just like the jasmine rice, more on this later) is readily available here in the US and procedure for making them is all over the Internet, the only thing missing is the steamer. But when I get a craving I can't seem to stop until I get to eat it. Luckily I have an Ikea silicone ice mold that has long and thin cavities meant for water or soda bottles which worked surprisingly well. Now I can enjoy puto bumbong any day of the year.:-)

Puto Bumbong
1 cup black glutinous rice
½ cup white glutinous rice
½ cup regular rice
banana leaves
shredded fresh coconut
  • Mix rice with water to cover top 1 inch, set aside for 2 hours.
  • Grind in blender until smooth. Pour the mixture on a large piece of muslin, twist the cloth and tie with kitchen twine, place on a large sieve. Put the sieve on top of a big bowl, weight down with a sauce pan filled with water, and leave 4 hours or overnight.
  • The next day, crumble the damp rice paste and fill well-oiled molds loosely. Steam in boiling water for 12 minutes. Remove with a plastic chopstick onto banana leaves. Spread butter all over and serve with coconut and plenty of sugar.

I had these with cold-brewed green tea (instead of hot) which I declare is the perfect drink with puto bumbong.

About the jasmine and the black rice, I don't know if it is a unique Filipino rice because China also has its black rice variety, although non-glutinous. Thai black glutinous is the one being sold here in my area and I read somewhere that this variety is now being grown in California. Could the Thai black rice have come from the Philippines or China or maybe it's native to Thailand. I'm sure most Filipinos my age know that the white Thai jasmine rice was developed, or what is now called genetically engineered, in the Philippines in the IRRI, International Rice Research Institute, based in Los BaƱos, Laguna in the early 1960s. The GE rice was named and branded MILAGROSA (miraculous) and when it first became available to the Filipino public my father refused to eat it and had forbidden my mother from buying it. He was not willing to eat this 'frankenrice' because he honestly believed part of it is a variety of weed, yes weed, in the Philippines.

Read related article here: Part II, item I and if you LOVE to read here is an even longer study on rice varieties and development in the Philippines. It seems milagrosa has been around as early as 1915! I didn't know that.

October 5, 2007

Fried Lumpia Taugeh (Mung Bean Sprouts)

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fried lumpia with vegetables, mung bean sprouts and tofu

My daughter's friend is coming home from working overseas and he asked her if I can make him lumpia. Lumpia and pancit are the most popular or maybe the only familiar Filipino food here in the US. I asked my daughter what kind he likes because there are several ways to prepare lumpia:
  • fresh with vegetables or heart of palm and wrapped either in egg and cornstarch mixture or flour lumpia wrapper served with a sweet and salty sauce
  • fried with vegetables and prawn filling
  • fried with mung bean sprouts, vegetables and firm tofu, true vegetarian but so delicious
  • lumpia Shanghai filled with either prawns and ground pork or a mixture of both, the difference from 2 & 3 is these are thin and sliced into 2-inch pieces before frying, these are also served with sweet and sour sauce
My favorite is the one filled with mung bean sprouts eaten with vinegar and garlic dip. When I was working at the Asian Development Bank one of our co-workers came in the morning with all sorts of food stuff to sell and these were the ones I bought regularly. I never cooked fried lumpia of any kind in Manila and rarely here in the US because it is tedious to prepare. Separating the wrappers alone takes time and patience. We usually bought them or had them in restaurants and in Manila the maids cooked them for us and sometimes I asked my mother to make them, she is an excellent cook. This is only the second time I made fried lumpia and I was only able to make 3 decent looking ones that are photo worthy. The others are sort of ugly looking but nevertheless yummy. I'm not sure if I can make good-looking lumpia for him or if I have the enthusiasm to make them. Maybe she should bring him to the Little Quiapo restaurant near Washington, D.C. where the food is decent but not spectacular.

Lumpia Taugeh
8 cups mung bean sprouts, washed and very well drained in a salad spinner
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup firm tofu, diced
1 cup julienned green beans
1 cup julienned sweet potatoes or carrots
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
ground pepper
lumpia wrappers
grape seed oil for sauteing and deep frying
  • In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil and saute garlic and onions for 3 minutes. Add tofu, salt, soy sauce and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes then add beans and sweet potato. Cook for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in mung bean sprouts, mixing well. The mixture should be dry. Let cool for 20 minutes before filling wrappers. Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown and crisp, drain well on paper towels. Serve immediately.

October 2, 2007

Ube Waffles

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I wanted to make stroopwafels, unfortunately I don't have a pizzelle wafer iron but I have a 10-year old Belgian waffle maker and that's good enough for me. I have been reading about stroopwafels in other blogs and magazines for the last year now that I want to try them so badly. Strange thing, I went to visit The Netherlands in February of 1982, never noticed a single shop that sold these, or maybe I didn't know what they were, but I could have seen other people eating or lining up to buy them to get my attention but I did not. Oh, well. One thing I acquired from the Dutch and glad I did is eating French fries with mayonnaise.

Anyway, I made regular waffles using baking powder instead of yeast and replaced ½ cup of the flour with purple yam (ube) powder. I love the milky smell, taste, and texture of ube in just about any bread including puto. The butter-rich dark syrup, actually thick caramel sauce rather than syrup, the recipe I got from a Dutch recipe website, is super yummy but beware of the fat and sugar content. This snack/breakfast treat should be eaten in moderation.:=)

ube waffles with dark buttery syrup, sooo yummy

Ube Waffles
1½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup powdered ube
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups milk
½ cup melted butter
2 eggs
  • Preheat waffle maker. Mix ingredients until smooth. Bake waffles according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve hot topped with warm syrup. Or slice the waffles and spread caramel/syrup on one slice, top with the other half and eat like stroopwafels. Either way it's delicious.
Dark Treacle
1½ cups dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
6 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Mix syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until sugar is melted and mixture is smooth. Serve warm with the waffles.
I recently read that ready baked wafers are available at Trader Joe's. I guess it's time to go to TJ's.:-)

October 1, 2007

Peanut Butter Truffles & Grape Jellies

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peanut butter truffles with various coating: ground peanut butter, cocoa powder, dark and milk chocolate and peanut butter chips
grape jellies
A few weeks ago I borrowed from the library the gigantic and super heavy THE FRENCH LAUNDRY COOKBOOK by Thomas Keller which has really superb and elegant recipes but some are too complicated for everyday meals. I prefer to cook simple dishes and if I want fancy I'd go to a restaurant. The desserts are very good, though, some are simple to make. I'm still deciding if I'll buy my copy. I got the peanut butter truffles and fruit jellies idea from this cookbook but did not follow the recipes for both the truffles and jellies.

Peanut Butter Truffles
1 cup crunchy or creamy peanut butter
1 cup chopped milk chocolate (chips are fine)
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
suggested coating: ½ cup each semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate and peanut butter chips, ¼ cup ground roasted peanuts, ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • Melt all ingredients except coating in a small pan over low heat. Pour into a metal square pan. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Using a melon baller, scoop out portions and place pieces on a piece of aluminum foil. Working quickly, shape the candies into marble-size balls. Divide balls into 5 portions. Keep 4 portions in freezer for 1 hour. Roll the remaining balls in ground peanuts. Refrigerate.
  • Coat another 1/5 of the balls in cocoa powder, refrigerate. Melt chips one at a time, coat each portion, sprinkle tops with ground peanuts, if desired, then refrigerate. Transfer candies into individual paper cups, if preferred. Refrigerate leftovers.
The recipe for jellies is here.

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