January 12, 2008

Ghosts, Ghouls, Zombies, And A Succubus

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What a way to start the new year: a book and a movie with ghosts, ghouls, zombies and a she-demon.

Mike Carey is the creator of the character Constantine in his graphic novel Hellblazer which was made into a movie with Keanu Reeves as Constantine. The Devil You Know is his first novel published in 2006. The hero, Felix Cantor, a semi-retired freelance exorcist, after a botched job exorcising a demon from his best buddy, is working as a magician in birthday parties to pay his bills. That was until the day he was asked to banish a female ghost in the Bonnington Archive. He could not resist accepting it because he needs the money and gets curious when the ghost would not show herself to him. He wants to know who the ghost was and why she is haunting the archive. The story becomes a murder mystery with Eastern European mafia in the middle of it. Our hero employs a Hawaiian-shirt clad computer expert zombie, gets help from his Catholic Wiccan landlady, falls in love (lust, actually) with a succubus named Juliet (who in the movie version should be played by Angelina Jolie), and almost gets killed by the mafia. Very entertaining, excellent story and writing style. Highly recommended. I can't wait to read the sequel VICIOUS CIRCLE.

Milla with machetes in both hands fighting superzombies! Not an intellectual film, just entertaining. I liked it!

January 9, 2008

3 Pizzas

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duck confit and roasted cherry tomatoes

I don't own and have never read any of Donna Hay's books but have been enjoying reading the HHDD events in several food blogs. It's the perfect time to check out her books and join because I love making and eating pizzas, both savory and sweet, and because Joey of 80 breakfasts is hosting this HHDD #17 edition.

Pizza dough from Modern Classics I by Donna Hay
1 teaspoon yeast
pinch sugar
2/3 cup warm water
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Place the yeast, sugar, and water in a bowl. Set aside until bubbles form. Add the flour, salt and oil and mix to form a smooth dough. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover and allow to stand in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 20 minutes (mine took 40). Makes one pizza dough.
This dough is very small and should be done by hand. I can't remember the last time I kneaded by hand, I normally use either the food processor or stand mixer and it was nice to handle, knead and slap the dough on the counter for a change, good stress reliever.:)

I halved the dough and halved the other half, 3 doughs in all. The half dough I formed into a 12-inch round and topped with duck confit and roasted cherry tomatoes which is my entry to the HHDD #17, and the quarter doughs I made into two 7-inch dessert pizzas, one I topped with PB & J which I really really love, and the other with cream cheese and sliced apricots.

Duck Confit and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes Pizza
half a pizza dough
2 duck legs confit, sliced thin and cut into 1 inch pieces (duck confit recipe below)
fresh mozzarella balls marinated in olive oil, Italian parsley, and spices
cherry tomatoes, halved and roasted in olive oil, garlic and salt
1 tablespoon crumbled goat cheese, optional
Place pan or stone on the lowest rack in the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Form the dough into a 12 inch round. Transfer to a piece of parchment. Arrange mozzarella balls with some olive oil, herb, and spices evenly on the dough. Add the roasted tomatoes, duck pieces, and goat cheese if using. Slide the pizza onto the stone or pan and bake for 20 minutes or until edges are medium brown.

PB & J Dessert Pizza

1 quarter pizza dough
about ¼ cup grape jelly mixed with 1 tsp cornstarch
2 tablespoons reduced sugar creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped peanut brittle
  • Form the dough into a 7-inch round. Prick all over with a fork. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and spread with the grape jelly leaving ½ inch off the edges. Place the peanut butter in a small freezer bag and snip off one corner. Starting from the center, pipe a thin spiral strip of peanut butter on top of the jelly up to near the edges. Return the pizza in the oven and continue baking for 10 -12 more minutes. Let cool until set. Sprinkle the chopped peanut brittle all over.
Apricot And Cream Cheese Dessert Pizza

1 quarter pizza dough
half a can apricots in syrup, well drained and sliced
3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature and mixed with 1 T sugar
1 tablespoon raw coarse sugar
Form the dough into a 7-inch round. Prick all over with a fork and bake for 8 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven. Remove from oven. Spread the cream cheese on the baked dough, leaving ½ inch off the edges. Arrange the sliced apricots on top of the cream cheese. Return the pizza in the oven and continue baking for 10 - 12 more minutes.
Sprinkle raw sugar all over.

Duck Confit

¼ cup kosher salt
½ tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 bay leaves
6 whole duck legs (leg and thigh)
8 garlic cloves, peeled
21 ounces rendered duck fat (may substitute half with olive oil)
½ cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Finely grind first 4 ingredients. Rub salt mixture all over duck legs. Layer legs and garlic in a large freezer bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  • Thoroughly rinse legs and discard garlic, pat dry. Place duck legs in a deep roasting pan.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the duck fat and pour into the roasting pan, the duck should be covered completely with fat. Roast for 4 - 5 hours. Let cool slightly. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Before using duck confit, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove duck from fat and scrape some fat into a skillet, add the vegetable oil. Heat over high heat and fry duck, skin side down, for 1 minute. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until skin is crisp, about 15 minutes.

January 4, 2008

Kumquats And Star Anise Rum

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Kumquats, one of my favorite citrus fruits, are now in season. I candied some last year and paired them with gingerbread cake. This time I used them to make flavored rum which can be enjoyed right after preparing. I like the combination of the slight citrus, anise, and vanilla flavors.

Kumquats And Star Anise Rum
1 cup water
2¼ cups sugar
1 pint kumquats, well scrubbed and well pricked with a fork
½ vanilla bean, cut in half and scraped
4 star anise pods
750 ml white rum
375 ml dark rum
  • In a medium saucepan, boil the water, sugar, vanilla bean, and kumquats. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Add anise and leave to cool to room temperature. When completely cool, transfer to a clean glass gallon measuring cup and mix in the rum. Divide the kumquats and spices and put in two 750 ml bottles. Fill the bottles with the rum mixture. Enjoy! I really love the star anise which is used to flavor Pernod and anisette wine. I am making star anise liqueur as my next alcohol project.:)

BTW, kumquats and calamansi taste almost identical with a slight difference, the kumquat rind is sweet. I eat cold kumquats like candies. Rub them between your palms to soften and to release the oil, then pop them in your mouth. It's sweet and tart and absolutely wonderful.

January 2, 2008

New Year's Eve 2008 Recipes

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A few recipes from our New Year's Eve 2008 dinner menu.
Deep Fried Adobado Cornish Hens

2 Cornish hens, about 1 pound each
½ cup white or coconut vinegar
½ cup dry sherry
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small onion, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns, cracked
1½ tablespoons sea salt
2 bay leaves, crumbled
¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
peanut or light olive oil for deep frying
  1. Rinse and pat dry the hens, set aside.
  2. In a gallon freezer bag, combine all the ingredients except hens and oil for frying. Mix until salt is completely dissolved.
  3. Put the hens in the bag making sure they are equally coated with the marinade, refrigerate for 24 hours, turning once.
  4. The next day, remove hens from marinade, pat dry. Tie legs with kitchen twine.
  5. In a deep pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the hens, cover the pot, and fry for 30 minutes, turning once. Increase the heat to medium-high and fry until hens are golden brown.

2 lbs lean ground pork, or combination pork and chicken
1 Spanish chorizo, finely minced
1 cup Vienna sausage, finely minced
2 slices white bread, finely cubed and mixed with 1 C milk
½ cup sweet pickle relish
½ C finely minced raisins or sultanas
1 cup grated aged edam or aged cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients gently in a large bowl. Fry a small portion, taste, and adjust salt seasoning.
  2. Divide meat mixture into 3 portions.
  3. Spoon each portion on a piece of non-stick aluminum foil and form into a 2½-inch thick log. Close the foil tightly making sure there is enough foil all around. Twist ends.
  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven or steam for 1 hour.
  5. Let cool completely, cut into ½ inch thick slices, fry in lightly oiled non-stick skillet until brown.
Pão De Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Puffs)
These rolls are so delicious and quite addicting. I can't stop eating them!

500 gms tapioca flour (manioc)
250 ml skim milk
125 ml vegetable oil
12 gms sea or kosher salt
2 large eggs
50 ml skim milk
350 grams cheese, finely grated
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Put the flour in a stand mixer with paddle attachment.
  3. In a small pan, boil the 250 ml milk, oil, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle the milk mixture slowly into the flour and stir until all the flour is moistened.
  4. Add the eggs and mix well. Mix in the 50 ml milk, beat well. Stir in the cheese, making sure it is well distributed.
  5. With oiled hands, form into walnut-size balls and place on a cookie sheet 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes or until light brown.
Note: This is half a recipe I got online and I did not bother to convert from grams to U.S. cups. I used my kitchen scale to be able to make the recipe as accurate as possible. Conversion table is here.

Ube Kalamay With Latik

8 oz frozen grated ube, thawed
8 oz glutinous rice flour
1 large can coconut milk
2 cups sugar
banana leaves
1 can coconut milk for latik
  1. Line a 9-inch cake pan with wilted banana leaves, set aside.
  2. In a medium non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat, mix ube, glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar.Bring to a boil , lower heat to medium, cook, stirring constantly to prevent the bottom from burning until the mixture becomes sticky, about 15 minutes.
  3. Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve with latik.
  4. To make latik, cook 1 can coconut milk over low heat in a non-stick skillet.
  5. Let the milk simmer for around 30 minutes until very thick. Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking, turning the coconut as it gets brown. Cook until slightly dark brown and crumbly.

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