Posted in Cook, Uncategorized, tagged appetizer, citrus, food, jose andres, lemon, olives, orange, recipe, tapas, thyme on January 10, 2011 |
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Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oil
My friends have been known to say that I like to complicate things. I once complained to my husband that there was too much sun coming into the bedroom window which was waking me up earlier than I wanted. I thought long and hard about how to fix this and finally I decided that I was going to buy large sheets of black paper and sticky tape and cover the windows to block out the morning sun. So off I went to buy the supplies and was excited to show my husband my handiwork.
“What are you doing??” My husband asked when he entered the room.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged appetizer, eggs, food, gluten-free, onions, potato omelette, recipe, spanish dishes, spanish omelette, tapas on January 4, 2011 |
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Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)
Very early on Saturday, with my husband still in a deep slumber, I snuck out of bed, put on my thickest pair of socks and tiptoed down to the kitchen. I held my breath as I passed the guest room, fearing that even my breathing would be loud enough to be heard. The wagging of the dog’s tails against the wooden walls magnified across the hallway and I tried to calm them down to prevent anyone from waking.
Finally, I got to the kitchen… “I made it!” I thought. I was finally going to have a few hours in the kitchen all to myself!
Because as you all know, when Mom’s are visiting – you pretty much have to give up whatever rights you have in the kitchen because, when they’re around the kitchen ain’t yours… it’s theirs!
I wanted to make this this Tortilla Espanola (Spanish style Potato Omelette) for a tapas party I was throwing for New Year’s day. Made with only four very accessible ingredients (eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil), a really good tortilla is guaranteed not only to bring any Spaniard to their knees, it’s also sure to please any guest for a tapas party. It’s also great eaten cold or at room temperature so you can make it in advance for any occasion.
And whatever happened to my covert CIA operation? It pretty much lasted a whole five minutes before I turned around, saw my Mom and heard her ask “Can I help?”
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Posted in Cook, Uncategorized, tagged canape, capsicum, cheese, Christmas, easy recipe, food, holiday food, peppers, pimiento, queso de bola spread, recipe, recipes, toasted cheese on December 20, 2010 |
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Queso de Bola Spread
Because the holiday season is already so stressful, there are some things that you should never do in December.
Getting married is one of them.
This of course is from first hand experience when eight years ago, three days after Christmas, I said “I do.” When I got engaged my then fiancé said “pick a date” and there was no doubt in my mind that we would get married around the Christmas holidays. I had visions of a string quartet playing Christmas carols at the wedding reception, pointsettias hanging around the ballroom and because my Mom was taking care of the catering, I asked for a Holiday themed menu including glazed hams and roast turkeys.
The stress started as early as September when the dressmaker told me that because I wanted a beaded dress, whatever my current weight was then was what my weight had to be at my wedding. There was no room to put on any holiday weight as this would mean major adjustments to the dress.
It was hard to enjoy engagement parties and holiday get togethers when every time I’d want to stuff myself silly I’d envision a little bubble over my head and inside was the dressmaker shaking his head saying “Tsk… tsk… I told you not to eat so much!”
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged dessert, food, frozen dessert, ice cream, mango, martin benn, recipe, sepia restaurant, sorbet, weiss bar on November 28, 2010 |
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Mango Weiss Bar
Sometimes I think I am in over my head asking chefs for their recipes. Last week I had a dream that I asked Gordon Ramsay for his Caesar Salad recipe and he screamed at me. He said there was no way he was going to give it to me and I should just wait for the release of his next book where I could find it! I swear, I woke up in a sweat and my heart racing.
Howard from Eat Show and Tell and another friend had Dared Me to get Sepia‘s famous Mango and Vanilla Weiss Bar and so I approached the restaurant for the recipe. I made contact with Vicki Wild not only who manages the front of house but is also partner to Head Chef, Martin Benn. I thought, if anyone could charm Chef Benn into parting with such a coveted recipe, it would be her. And luckily, Vicki Wild is much more charming and accommodating than Gordon Ramsay.
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Fettuccine alla Carbonara (Recipe from Family Italian)
When I was a child, I dreamt of being adopted by an Italian family. I loved their accents, the way they sounded like they were shouting at everything when in fact they were carrying on a normal conversation, I loved how they always called me Bella and of course, their food.
Fast forward to my first year of high school where I spent the summer travelling around Europe with my family. Italy was my favourite of the ten countries we visited that summer, and this time I had dreams of marrying a vespa driving, cappucino drinking, dark eyed Italian as my ticket to that Italian family.
Through the years, I figured the only way to get my Italian family was to amass an unusually large number of Italian cookbooks. So when I told my husband that I had a copy of John Lanzafame’s Family Italian cookbook to review, he said what any practical husband would say “Don’t you have enough Italian cookbooks already?!”
So here in my hands was an Italian cookbook from that Italian family I never had but always dreamed of having.
So to answer my husband’s question whether I have enough Italian cookbooks? There’s always room for one more, especially when it’s inspired by Mum’s cooking.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged alimasag, Christmas, crab, filipino food, kulinarya, philippine cuisine, recipe, relleno, stuffed crab on November 21, 2010 |
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Relleno Alimasag (Philippine Style Stuffed Crab)
One of the greatest food writers in the Philippines was a lady by the name of Doreen Fernandez. When I was in the Philippines I took for granted her contributions to our cuisine and so I rarely paid any attention to her works which was a pity since I have been crazy looking for some of her books which are almost impossible to find. Last month in Melbourne I went to a store called Books For Cooks where tucked in a corner was one of Doreen’s books. I couldn’t believe my luck! The book is called Palayok (a type of native cooking pot) and while not a recipe book, is filled with valuable information on what and how our cuisine has come to where it is today. The chapter I’m reading now for instance, is on the Spanish influences on food.
This influence is of course inevitable considering we were a colony from 1521 to 1898 (I tell everyone we were colonized for around 300 years, but now I realize it’s 377!). The first Spanish settlers were officials and their families then later on, friars. Ingredients in the Spanish kitchen often make an appearance in our food like chorizo (sausages) and jamon (ham). Another example, is in our cooking methods. To saute in the Philippines is called “gisa” from the Spanish word guisar.
Another cooking process commonly used in the Philippines, is called relleno which means to stuff. With some types of relleno, the Spanish influence is much clearer, for example, rellenong manok (stuffed chicken) will typically be stuffed with pork, chorizo and ham. Other relleno has been adapted to the produce more easily available in the Philippines, for example, rellenong bangus or stuffed milkfish (milkfish is very accessible in the Philippines).
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The other day, as I do every morning, I took my two labradors for a walk. Nothing out of the ordinary except I had overslept and had less time to walk them and get ready for work. I knew I had to rush. So we went to a park that was 10 minutes away and I let them loose thinking I would let them spend a good ten minutes chasing each other and sniffing other dogs. This took longer than I expected because the little one, Bizou, decided to forage for breakfast which meant I had to spend an extra ten minutes chasing her and trying to get her to stop.
As we made our way home I saw a man stading infront of his truck. He must have been in his twenties, and I suspect he was in the construction business because he was wearing a fluorescent yellow safety jacket, worn boots and had a rugged look about him. As we walked towards him I saw him look at them and his face broke into a wide grin and then he looked at me and said “Can I pat them?”.
He kneeled down and my dogs made a dash for him. He started patting them and then Baci, flirt that she is, lay on her back as if to ask for a tummy rub, which made him smile and happily oblige.
“You have a labrador too?” I asked him.
“Had,” he replied. “She died early this year. She was fifteen.” Then I saw him close his eyes and give each dog a big hug.
I was in a hurry and had an early morning meeting that I didn’t want to be late for… but at that moment none of that was important.
“There’s a park across the road, I was going to take them there for a little run. Did you want to come along for a few minutes?” I asked.
What mattered was that I felt like I was giving him a few moments with his dog back.
There are times in our lives when we have the opportunity to help someone relive a certain moment, it’s wonderful when we can oblige. Whether it’s spending an extra few minutes with them… or even cooking a dish that brings back the memory.
Which is why I made these Chorizo Croquetas the other day.
But I’ll save that story for another time.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged cantonese, chili, chinese, dried prawns, dried scallops, hong kong, pastes, relish, sauces, XO, XO Sauce on November 10, 2010 |
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Hong Kong ranks up there among my favourite cities. I love it’s vibrance, diversity and the fact that I can indulge in two of my favourite hobbies when I’m there. Food and shopping. I love that the malls close at 10 pm and that they take their sales very seriously (nothing perks me up more than a sign saying 70% off!). It’s not unheard of to spend the whole day shopping at a mall and then at night, despite the aching feet, we continue on to the night markets. Of course there’s also the food. On my last trip there with my Mom, sisters and aunt, indulged in dim sum, peking duck and roast goose in between marathon shopping.
I’m sure though that Hong Kong isn’t for everyone. Some may complain about the pollution or the cramped living spaces. I know for certain my husband doesn’t get the same thrill when setting foot in a new mall and he makes numerous excuses when I ask him to come shopping with me.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged bacon, baking, biscuit, cheese, food, michael ruhlman, ratio, recipes, savoury, scones on November 4, 2010 |
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Bacon and Cheese Biscuits
As part of “The Cooking Basics” series, I thought I’d share with you one of the books I consider to be an invaluable resource for creating your own recipes. Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking” is slowly turning out to be pretty handy in the kitchen.
Essentially, the author refers to a culinary ratio as a fixed proportion of one ingredient relative to another. He says that these proportions for the backbone of the craft of cooking. The book contains ratios for doughs, stocks, sausages, sauces and custards and once you know the basics, you are really only limited by your imagination. For example, the ratio for bread is 5 parts flour : 3 parts water. So combining 500 grams of flour plus 300 grams of water plus a small amount of yeast will give you the basic bread dough. Now, once you know how to mix this properly, comes the fun part! Looking for a savoury bread? Add bacon, caramelized onions, or cheese. In a nutty mood? Add walnuts, olives, and raisins.
I must caution, if you are looking for a “cooking bible” or “the best bread recipe, best custard recipe etc” this is probably not what you are looking for. Think of this more as a guide to help you understand how certain ingredients work together to give you different results (for example, pizza dough and bread are made up of the same ingredients but why are they so different?)
This book enables you to rely less on cookbooks and more on your creativity and as the author says “When you know a ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly knowing a thousand.”
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