September 26, 2006

Thai Green Curry

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Thai cuisine has been a favorite since I tasted my first Pad Thai and Tod Mun Pla (fish cakes) at Flavours and Spices restaurant at Mile Long Shopping center when the place was just a tiny hole in the wall, where you can watch the cook prepare the food you ordered. This was 20 years ago, before they moved to that big place at Greenbelt. (I wonder if they are still in business with Thai restaurants mushrooming in Manila like crazy). My office mates and I would go to Makati from the old Asian Development Bank Headquarters at Roxas Blvd in Pasay City, ignoring the traffic and the mild reprimand of our bosses for getting back late from lunch. In my opinion nothing can match Flavours and Spices (in the Philippines and US) in authenticity and taste except of course, in Thailand where the best Thai food I had was in a very small restaurant in Patpong, yes the red light district Patpong in Bangkok. Last night I made beef and tofu green curry, I think I overcooked the tiny eggplants and my sauce always comes out green/brown because I use the Thai ready made green curry paste which is a little brownish. It does not matter, the curry tastes excellent. I usually prepare Thai curry with lots of sauce to pour over rice. I'll never get tired of this food.

Thai Beef Green Curry
½ pound sliced thin very lean beef
1 brick cubed firm tofu
2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
2 tablespoons fish extract
3 makrut lime leaves, fresh or dried
10 halved Thai tiny green eggplants
1 cup fresh Thai basil (no substitutes)
1 large can coconut milk.
  • If using tougher cut of beef, boil in ½ cup of thin coconut milk for 30 minutes. While boiling, saute curry paste in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 1 minute, add coconut milk, lime leaves, tofu and fish sauce or extract, simmer for 15 minutes, then add the beef, eggplants and half of the basil, simmer for 5 minutes, add the rest of the basil, turn off heat. Dish up and serve with hot steamed jasmine rice.

September 24, 2006

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

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I didn't know what to do with these gigantic (6 inches) portobello mushrooms that I got from Costco. I used to just saute them in lots of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and some Knorr seasoning served as a side dish, but this time I wanted a little variation. I read a variety of recipes for stuffed portobello and settled for this one: panko breadcrumbs, bacon, garlic, onions, romano cheese, and butter or olive oil. I sprinkled half a tablespoon of crisply fried chopped bacon on each mushroom before topping with the breadcrumb mixture, this way the flavor of bacon is absorbed more by the mushrooms. They turned out to be a very light, very tasty main dish. I served them with hot Italian bread and good Spanish extra virgin olive oil. I sauteed the really large ones, at almost 8 inches, the usual way, they pair well with bistek tagalog (Filipino style beefsteak).

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

We had this flavor of Breyers many many times perhaps 3 years ago when it first came out and then got tired of it. Now that I'm still in an ice cream frenzy I made it last week. I used the store bought dulce de leche spread, it tastes just as good as the home boiled canned sweetened condensed milk and it's even better because of its deep caramel color. I mixed in about 3 tablespoons of the spread while the machine is churning then added swirls in between layers when transferring into the container.

Notice how funny the lower portion (dulce de leche) of this picture looks like lips, ready to MWAH!

September 21, 2006


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Although we are coffee drinkers, my pantry is bursting with a variety of teas: English breakfast, Earl Grey, Chinese jasmine both loose and bagged, Korean corn, Japanese green, mango and vanilla flavored black, salabat (ginger) and today I bought Indian tea leaves. I am not a fancy tea drinker, I have always taken English breakfast tea just with cream, no sugar, the jasmine with dim sum and Chinese food but recently have been brewing vanilla and mango flavored to take with Japanese food since I discovered they go well together when we ate at Pauli Moto Asian Bistro (co-owned by Iron Chef Morimoto where by the way food is excellent, if you know which dish to order). I have always wanted to try chai ever since we had over an Indian guy for lunch a few months ago. After lunch I offered coffee which he refused and tea. With the variety of teas I have I thought he would be able to pick one but he again refused and said he only likes chai. He proceeded to lament that since his girlfriend left him he doesn't eat home cooked meals and doesn't get to drink homemade chai anymore, boo hoo. How good could this chai be? Well, apparently he is right, it is extremely good. This afternoon I made a pot of slowly simmered tea leaves with a variety of spices and it could be addicting, specially now that it's getting cold. I nibbled on Pocky sesame seed sticks while sipping this wonderful brew, yummy.

These are the spices I used: cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, black pepper, fresh ginger, and nutmeg. My daughter likes it with a little honey, I prefer ½ tsp of raw sugar in mine and my son who doesn't drink coffee or tea also liked it. An added bonus is the house smells wonderful for hours.

To prepare: measure 1 ½ cups water and ½ cup milk in a stainless steel pan. Spices: 1 inch piece fresh peeled sliced ginger, 6 cloves, 6 whole black peppers, 4 cardamom pods, 1 small cinnamon stick, dash of nutmeg. Crack or pound lightly the cloves, black pepper, cardamom (make sure the seeds inside are cracked) and the cinnamon stick. In the pan add 1 tablespoon Darjeeling blend tea leaves and all the spices. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and slow simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into a teapot, add sugar to taste. Enjoy.

I got this tinned loose Indian tea leaves from the Korean grocery store. It's a bit pricey, although it's a pound of excellent tea leaves, it's worth the money. Don't use the tea bags you find in the grocery, only loose Indian tea blends will make excellent cups of chai.

Indonesian Soto Ayam (Chicken and Noodle Soup)

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I read about this soup in MarketManila's blog, his description and photos inspired me to make it and I was not disappointed, it is delicious. I have an Indonesian cookbook which I use once in a while to cook meat dishes but have never cooked any of the soup recipes because there are so many ingredients and steps to do. It is tedious if you don't have a domestic helper to do all the chopping and cleaning up. This soup/noodle is different from the Filipino style sotanghon (mung bean noodle) dish, it's spicier of course. You can make it even spicier with the addition of the home made sambal (chili dipping sauce). For the soup I followed my cookbook's recipe but I prefer and used Marketman's sambal recipe. I will definitely make this again in autumn and winter, yes definitely.

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