My two sisters are great cooks and while I love to cook for everyone in the family, once in awhile I like to sit back and enjoy their great food. This weekend the family celebrated Easter lunch at my place and I asked my eldest sister to make her Leche Flan. This dessert is the Filipino version of creme caramel. I’ve always thought a great leche flan/creme caramel is very intimidating to make. I prefer one that has a very smooth texture and a dark, almost bitter, caramel sauce. My sister however thinks it’s the easiest dessert to make and hers comes out perfectly every time. The recipe was passed down from my Grandmother and it takes less than ten minutes to put everything together and around 40 minutes to cook. Very minimal effort for an impressive dessert.
Leche Flan (Filipino Style Creme Caramel)
- 1 cup sugar
- 375 ml evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup sugar (additional)
- 5 egg yolks plus 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla beans
- Boil the sugar in the sauce pan until dark brown and pour in a 23 cm metal cake pan and allow to harden.
- In a sauce pan, combine the evaporated milk, 3/4 cups sugar, vanilla beans and eggs, whisk lightly. Place over a gentle heat and mix gently for a few seconds (you don’t want the eggs to cook). Pour the milk and egg mixture into the cake pan. Cover with foil.
- Steam the flan over slow heat for 40 to 45 minutes until the flan is set.
- Allow the flan to cool. Refrigerate the flan for a few hours. When ready to serve, run a knife around the sides of the cake pan. Place a large serving plate over the cake pan and flip over. Pour the extra caramel over the flan.
Posted in Bake, El Comedor | Tagged caramel, creme caramel, filipino food, leche flan, philippine cuisine | 1 Comment »
Beef Ribs with Chimuchurri
A few weeks ago I decided it was time to re-organize my kitchen. The cupboards were overflowing with spices, sauces and other goods that were well past their expiry date. I also started to pack away some of the gadgets that I hardly ever used, like my blender, ice cream maker and juicer. The one piece of equipment I couldn’t part with was my stove top smoker. I can never get tired of the flavour and aroma that smoking imparts on food.
This weekend I took out my trusty smoker to make these slow cooked beef ribs. I knew that smoking the meat would make this dish extra special but the big surprise was the chimichurri sauce we made which turned out to be absolutely delicious! This was my first time to make chimichurri – the recipe is a funny one as it was handed down from one person to another until it finally reached my hands! It was dictated to me by the butcher who said his wife had tried it from a magazine. He said it would be perfect with the beef but equally good with even grilled chicken or seafood so make sure to make more than you need when making these ribs.
Beef Ribs with Chimichurri
- 2 kilos beef ribs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup salt
- 50 ml maple syrup
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup corriander leaves
- 1 french shallot, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 red chili, chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of one lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the beef in a large pot with the brown sugar and salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 2.5 hours. Remove the beef from the pot and place in the smoker. Drizzle the top with maple syrup.
- Smoke the beef for 45 minutes, when done, remove from the smoker and allow to rest for a few minutes.
- Heat a pan with some oil and sear the beef ribs, around 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned.
- For the chimichurri, combine the remaining ingredients and blend in a food processor.
- Serve the beef with the chimichurri sauce.
Note: If you don’t have a smoker, just simmer the beef for 3 hours instead. When done, sear the ribs as per instructions above.
Posted in Cook | Tagged beef ribs, chimuchurri sauce, slow cooking | 6 Comments »
The other day SBS Food Safari did a feature on Filipino Food. It’s not very often that Filipino food gets center stage, so it was fantastic to finally see our cuisine getting some attention. I am very grateful to the team of Food Safari for doing such a wonderful job! All of the dishes and cooks who showcased our food made me so proud to be Filipino. It was a pity that the episodes are only 30 minutes long – a series on Filipino Food definitely deserves longer!
For those that missed the episode, it can be found here. My recipe for Pinakbet can be found here.
It also made me realize how neglected this blog has been in the last few months. A new job and a few new hobbies have left me thin for time but watching the Food Safari episode made me want to blog again… and share more of what Filipino food is all about (yes, contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about pork!).
Filipinos love the sour flavour and Sinigang is one of the Philippine’s most loved dishes. In fact, the late Doreen Fernandez, who was one of the most respected food writers in the Philippines once argued that sinigang, rather than adobo should be considered the national dish of the Philippines, after all, Filipinos are the champion lovers of sourness…
Sinigang is a soup whose flavor is soured with fruits abundant in the Philippines like tamarind, guava, green mangoes or bilimbi (kamias). My personal favourite is the guava sinigang. The dish is easily adaptable depending on what protein is on hand, but most frequently made with pork, beef, or prawns. The soup is also rich in vegetables that are easily available in the Philippines like daikon, eggplants, snake beans and water spinach.
I had been craving guava sinigang for a few months. So much so that I bought my own guava tree but was told that it would take at least another two years to bear fruit. I search everywhere for guava only to discover it is quite difficult to source in Australia. Finally, I found a supplier of pure guava puree online and was so relieved that I ordered five kilos to freeze for future use. It you are lucky enough to source the fresh ripe fruit, that’s even better. Boil the fresh fruit until soft and then use a blender to mash the guava into a puree.
Sinigang na Bayabas (Seafood in Guava Sour Soup)
- 12 large prawns
- 500 grams firm white fish fillets, sliced (like ocean perch)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 300 grams guava puree
- 1 long green chili
- 1 piece radish, peeled and sliced
- 1 bunch snake beans (sitaw)
- 1 bunch water spinach (kang kong)
- Peel the prawns and place the heads and peel in a pot and add 1 liter of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime, devein the prawns and set aside.
- Sprinkle some salt on the fish and set aside until ready to use.
- Place the oil in a large pot and add the onions and add the tomatoes. Saute until the onions are translucent, around 5 minutes.
- Add the guava puree, green chili, sliced radish, snake beans and shrimp stock and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- When the soup is done, set the green chili, radish and snake beans aside. Place the broth in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Strain the soup and add it back into the pot and return the chili, radish, and snake beans. Finally add the prawns, fish and water spinach and simmer until the seafood is cooked and the vegetables are warmed, around 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve while the soup is still hot.
Posted in Filipino Food, kulinarya cooking club | Tagged bayabas, filipino, filipino food, guava, sbs food safari, seafood sinigang, sinigang | 5 Comments »
Preview to SBS Food Safari:
Last year I was contacted by the producer of SBS Food Safari, only the best food show ever, asking if I would consider featuring a recipe for an episode on Filipino Food. I think it was on the back of some of the posts they had seen on the Kulinarya Cooking Club. There was certainly no way I would pass on this chance!
As we tried to decide which recipe to feature, the producer suggested Pinakbet. When I asked Georgie why she was interested in that recipe, she mentioned that it was one dish that really stood out as featuring unique ingredients that Australians wouldn’t have normally cooked with. She was right, Pinakbet is a traditional vegetable stew usually made up of okra, talong (eggplant), ampalaya (bitter melon), and shrimp paste. I could understand why the dish would be worth showcasing but at that time it was not exactly a dish I would consider as a top choice. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have even been in my top ten favourite Filipino dishes.
I didn’t grow up enjoying vegetables. In fact, as a child I used to think that whoever invented Pinakbet must have really hated children because it had all the bitter and slimy vegetables I detested. The only saving grace, I thought, was the crispy bits of pork belly that was sprinkled throughout the dish. But I was determined to make sure that I would practice making the dish several times before the actual filming date.
The funny thing is, I started to appreciate the slimy okra, the bitter ampalaya, and the eggplant. The tastes started to grow on me and I thought of it as an acquired taste. The same way I learned as an adult how to appreciate a beautifully bitter dark chocolate, where as a child I would have preferred a sweeter milk chocolate.
The day of the filming came and I can honestly say I was a convert to Pinakbet. I cook this dish regularly nowadays. Sometimes the prejudices of our youth prevent us from enjoying something special.
And about the show? Maeve, the host of SBS Food Safari, and her team were fantastic! They do so much to promote the many cultures and cuisines of Australia. I was worried that Maeve would have the same reaction to Pinakbet as I did when I was a child. I was so wrong. She absolutely loved it! And in case you’re wondering, Maeve is every bit as nice and beautiful in person as in the show.
Food Safari airs in Australia on 7 March 2013 on SBS One at 7:30 pm.
Recipe for Pinakbet can be found here.
Posted in Cook | Tagged ampalaya, bagnet, crispy pork belly, filipino food, kulinarya, mixed vegetable stew, okra, philippines, pinakbet, sbs, sbs food safari, talong, vegetable stew, vegetarian | 11 Comments »
Two months ago my husband and I decided to go for a run in a park a few minutes away from the house. I still remember that morning as if it was just yesterday. I took my GPS watch so that we could measure the distance we would go. The area was really more of an oval but truth be told, I wasn’t able to measure the entire distance as we stopped around half way through. My husband was out of breath – after 190 meters. The next day we ran the entire oval then walked another round. Little by little we would progress around the oval until one day we could do three or four rounds without stopping or heaving for breath.
Sometime in mid-December we agreed that we would have a goal, and that was to run in the Color Run that would be held in the Sydney Olympic park in February. So off we trained, a few extra hundred meters at a time until we were running the five kilometers maybe three or four times a week.
My brother, who runs marathons as a pastime told us that “one day, running the five kilometers will come so easily that it will feel like nothing…” that day, was clearly not going to happen anytime soon. We would finish each run, muscles sore, sweating profusely and trying to catch our breath. There were days when we would feel like sleeping in but we would try to motivate each other with little quotes like “there will come a day when you will not be able to run… today is not one of them” or when it was rainy we would tell each other that “there was no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”.
The Color Run is a five kilometer run loosely based on the Indian Holi festival. Everyone starts with a white T-shirt and each kilometer is associated with a designated color. As you run or walk (or dance) each kilometer, you are blitzed with color so that by the end of it, you look like some sort of colorful grunge art piece.
There is a reason that the Color Run is called the happiest five kilometers. The event itself was truly amazing. There were over 20,000 who participated and needless to say running through each color zone definitely made the run more fun. But what really inspired and motivated me was crossing the finish line with my husband. Here was someone who could barely run 200 meters just two months ago and was now finishing his first run. Something he never (ever) thought possible.
This salad was a recipe given to me by my Aunt Jenni. I am not sure what the origin of the salad was but I think one of her friends gave it to her. We used to call it the Qantas salad because someone said they used to serve this as part of the first class meals (I have never ridden first class so I can’t confirm). In any case, I’ve renamed it the Color Run Salad in honour of our first run together. It’s as tasty as it looks beautiful and it’s healthy too!
The Color Run Salad
- 1/2 butternut pumpkin
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 beetroots
- 1 cup semi dried tomatoes
- 2 cups spinach or rocket leaves
- handful of pinenuts, toasted
- 100 grams feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Peel and cube the pumpkin, sweet potato and beetroot into cubes. Toss with the olive oil, mixed herbs and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the vegetables in the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- To serve, combine the roast vegetables with the pinenuts, feta and spinach/rocket leaves.
Posted in Cook | Tagged color run sydney, healthy, roast vegetables, salad, vegetarian | 6 Comments »
Every few months or so, I’ll discover a restaurant that quickly becomes my new favourite. It always plays out the same way, I’ll go back several times in a month and think how handy it would be to have a “standing reservation” every week. My husband prefers to try different restaurants so by the third or fourth time, he is pleading we try something new. A restaurant that made it to the favourite list and one we visited more than the usual was a restaurant serving Japanese pub food in Surry Hills called Izakaya Fujiyama.
They are famous for their charcoal grilled fish head which is limited in availability. They manager mentioned that it’s only available usually once a week. Naturally, when we found out that there was a tuna head was available, we had to order it. We asked the waitress for it and she put in our order. A few minutes later she came back with bad news. “Chef says that you cannot order it. It’s too big.” She told us. Given that we had already ordered four other dishes, she tried to persuade us that there would be too much food. We said we didn’t mind and we really wanted to order it so she went back to the chef to place our order. Forty minutes later this monster of a fish head arrived in our table. The head was so large that all our other dishes had to be cleared because the wooden serving plate covered the whole of the table. Of course there was no way we could finish the dish. In fact, we shared it with the table beside us and still had half to take home!
We rolled out of the restaurant thinking we would need to take at least four or five people to join us next time. Later on my husband told me that when the waitress went back to tell the chef we were insisting on ordering the dish, he saw the chef laugh and shake his head.
Equally as impressive, this tuna dish is definitely more manageable. Tuna Poke made with sashimi grade tuna marinated in soy, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, over a bed of seaweed and topped with crispy wonton strips.
serves 2 as a started
- 250 grams sashimi quality tuna
- 100 grams seaweed
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Dash of shichimi togarashi
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame
- strips of fried wonton wrappers
- Diced the tuna into 1 cm pieces. Set aside.
- Mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, shichimi and toasted sesame in a bowl and spoon over the tuna.
- Lay the seaweed salad on a serving plate, top with the marinated tuna and finally the wonton wrappers.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged hawaiian food, japanese, sashimi, seaweed salad, tuna poke | 8 Comments »
Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta
My husband and I like to go to a little Italian restaurant around the corner from where we live (well, more like in the next suburb to be exact). The other day we were heartbroken to find out that the restaurant would be moving. We said that we needed to go there as often as we could so as to enjoy their food until the big move. One of the specials on the menu were these zucchini flowers stuffed with a prawn and scallop mousse. Of course we ordered the dish! How was it? It was fantastic. Crisp batter and a beautifully light mousse.
Do you remember how my Mom, aka the blog monster, thinks she is part owner of this blog? Well now there’s my husband as well, who I like to think of as the aspiring blogger. The other day he came home with a packet of zucchini flowers and said he would stuff them like the dish we ate a few nights earlier. He said he planned to make a vegetarian version with ricotta and some fresh herbs from our garden.
So he prepared the zucchini flowers all by himself, the only advice I offered was for him to stuff them using a piping bag instead of a spoon. But I pretty much left him alone in the kitchen. A few minutes later I heard a click from the kitchen… then another click… click … click…
Curious, I went to have a look, to see my husband taking photos of the zucchini flowers with his iphone! I knew then and there I created another blog monster! But hey, if he keeps churning out dishes like this one, it will definitely be worth it!
Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta, Herbs and Pine Nuts
These zucchini flowers are a nice vegetarian dish. The ricotta mousse was delicious with the chopped herbs and the pine nuts added some nice texture to the dish.
- 8 zucchini flowers
- 250 grams ricotta
- 1 egg
- 25 grams pine nuts, crushed
- 2 teaspoons of mixed fresh herbs – basil, parsley, and mint
- salt to taste
- 160 ml ice cold water
- 100 grams tempura flour
- oil for shallow frying
- First remove the yellow stamens inside the zucchini flower by pinching it off.
- Make the ricotta mixture by combining the ricotta, egg, pine nuts, fresh herbs and salt to taste. Place in a piping bag.
- Pipe the ricotta mixture into each zucchini flower, making sure not to overfill the flowers. Twist the edge of the flowers to seal.
- Make the batter by combining ice cold water and the tempura flour. Mix lightly, around 5 to 6 times, making sure not to over mix the batter, it should stay lumpy.
- Heat the oil and dip the zucchini flowers into the batter and then carefully lower into the oil. Shallow fry the flowers for around a minute in each side until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges and sprinkle with salt prior to serving.
Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta, Herbs and Pine Nuts
Posted in Cook | Tagged fresh herbs, pine nuts, ricotta, stuffed zucchini flowers, vegetarian, zucchini flowers | 3 Comments »