January 30, 2010

Tuscan Bread: BBAC #38

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Tuscan Bread
Tuscan Bread
The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge #38: Tuscan Bread

Making this saltless bread was not the real challenge, but looking for ways to enjoy the bread or the reasons to justify its existence was. I actually liked its natural sweet flavor but after eating 2 slices plain, I was craving for something savory to eat it with. According to Peter this bread should be eaten with rich flavorful meats and soups.

After rubbing the slices with garlic, I drizzled some olive oil, then topped it with spicy Portuguese sardines, strips of roasted sweet pepper, capers, flaked sea salt, and a few drops of sriracha sauce. It was delicious, but then the same toppings tasted way better on salted bread. Sorry but Tuscan bread just can't win. The wonderful texture and ease of preparation aren't good enough reasons to make this again.

One important thing I learned from baking Tuscan bread: now I know what bread to avoid if ever I visit Tuscany. I just saw an episode of Food Trip With Todd English on PBS where he was in an open market in Tuscany. He was offered a slice of Tuscan bread but was also told that very few people buy them because they're tasteless. The seller offered him another type of rustic bread to try. So, why do they still bake their bread without salt when it seems it is not very popular even in Tuscany? Just asking.;-)

Tuscan Bread
egg salad and inexpensive lumpfish caviar
spicy Portuguese sardines, roasted sweet red pepper, capers, hot sauce

flavor 1
texture 5
visual appeal 4
ease of preparation 5
performance 5
worth 0
Total: 20
Average: 3.3

January 28, 2010

Mongolian BBQ Fried Rice


Mongolian Barbecue was all the rage in the Philippines in the mid-1980s. We used to eat it regularly in fast food restaurants that serve them. What's not to like: meats or seafood mixed with lots of vegetables and flavored with highly seasoned sweet sauce. We never had it again when we moved here in the US and I have forgotten about it.

About 5 years ago, Mongolian Barbecue restaurants started sprouting in the Washington D.C. area and one opened in my town only to close after 2 years. I guess people here don't like the idea of mixing everything like chop suey.

Mongolian BBQ is of course best eaten with a bowl of steaming hot rice and what could be better than mixing them all together and make it into Mongolian Barbecue Fried Rice.

Mongolian BBQ Fried Rice

¼ cup rice wine or cream sherry
½ cup water
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
½ tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 star anise
1 green onion
  • Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat until boiling, reduce heat to medium and continue boiling, partially covered, until reduced by half. Remove star anise and green onion and discard. Transfer sauce into a small bowl. Set aside.
fried rice
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 green onion, sliced
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, thinly sliced
½ green pepper, sliced into strips
¼ cup shredded carrots
½ cup shredded cabbage
¼ pound beef or pork tenderloin tips, cut into strips
¼ pound prawns, peeled, deveined, and cut into three pieces
½ cup blanched mung bean sprouts
2 cups freshly steamed Japanese rice, keep warm
Mongolian sauce
  • Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a wok. Add green onion and egg and stir cook until set but still slightly runny, transfer into a plate and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining oil, add the onion and saute until soft. Add the meat and prawns, stir fry until they change color. Stir in the carrots, green pepper, and cabbage and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cooked egg.
  • Add the rice, pour in enough sauce to coat the rice evenly, about 6 tablespoons, and mix well. Taste and add more sauce if necessary. Stir fry for 1 minute. Gently stir in the mung bean sprouts.
  • Serve immediately in individual bowls with extra sauce on the side.

January 26, 2010

Swedish Rye (Limpa): BBAC#37

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Swedish Rye Bread
Swedish Rye Bread
The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge #37: Swedish Rye (Limpa)

Wow, I love this bread. I was prepared for a disappointment but reading through the ingredients I knew this would be a yummier rye bread because of the spices and orange flavoring. These are the ground spices that made me fall for it: aniseed, fennel, and cardamom. These spices combined with dried orange peels*, brown sugar, and a small amount of molasses make this fragrant sweetish loaf so good just by itself, with butter, or with mild cheeses such as brie or young Gouda. The crumb and crust are soft with a bit of chew and the flavors complement each other, not one flavor is dominant.

I think I'm beginning to really love rye breads but will probably take a long time or maybe never to appreciate the 100% Sourdough Rye Bread (BBAC #32).

Swedish Rye Bread
extra yummie with brie

flavor 5
texture 5
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
performance 5
worth 5
Total: 30
Average: 5

* I usually get dried orange peels [for Chinese-style meat stews] from the Asian grocery store. About a month or so ago I dried some orange peels from 4 large oranges by leaving them on the kitchen counter for 3 days. Then to make sure they are super crispy I put them in the very low heat dry setting of the toaster/convection oven for 20 minutes and stored them in an airtight jar. I pulverized the peels in a coffee grinder for the limpa.

Dried Orange Peels

January 23, 2010

Lasang Pinoy Sundays: Chocolate

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champorado with dark and white chocolate

Champorado, a Filipino breakfast food, is a sweet chocolate sticky rice porridge. The rice is boiled in water with cocoa powder and sugar, then served with milk just like cereals. After a day in the refrigerator the leftover champorado becomes thick and pudding-like but still very yummy.

The photo is ancient, taken in 2006. I chose this photo from my "chocolate" archives because it's perfect for this edition of LaPis: Chocolate. I made 2 separate champorado, one with dark and another with white chocolate, and served them both in one bowl. There is no need to add milk to enjoy this all-time Filipino favorite and you get to savor two kinds of chocolate all at once in one spoonful.

Lasang Pinoy Sundays is a gallery of food photography, Filipino style, is hosted by SpiCes and FeistyCook.

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