Dec 22, 2004

Beginner's Potluck

Thinking of what to bring to that holiday potluck party? This Spanish inspired Filipino dish duo is surprisingly easy to cook up. It's teeming with the lush and vibrant flavour of chorizo bilbao (Spanish sausage) and the aromatic, citrusy tang of roasted lemon garlic chicken. Just cook and go!

Iberian Chicken with Chorizo Fried Rice

Garlic Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, at least 1 1/2 kilos
1/2 of a lemon
1bunch parsley
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 whole heads garlic, crushed and chopped coarsely
freshly ground black pepper (lots of it!)


Chorizo Fried Rice

3 tablespoons oil from chorizo Bilbao
2 tablespoons atsuete
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 pieces of Chorizo Bilbao, chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups cooked rice, moistened with some water

1. Wipe the chicken dry with a paper towel. Drizzle with lemon juice. Place the used lemon and the parsley in to the chicken cavity. Rub coarse salt inside and outside the chicken. Pour the olive oil over the chicken, then rub chicken with the chopped garlic and black pepper.

2. Marinate the chicken inside the refrigerator,preferably overnight.

3. Bake the chicken, covered with foil, in a 400 fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the cover and continue baking for 30 to 45 minutes until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is tender.

4. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the atsuete and toss until the oil is colored. Remove the seeds. Saute the onions,celery, and bell peppers. Add the chorizo and cook until almost crisp. Season with paprika, salt and pepper.

5. Add the rice and mix until well blended. Seve with the roast chicken.

Dec 18, 2004

Christmas Cocktails

'Tis the season to get tipsy! Chill down and get merry with these holiday-themed drinks. Happy holidays!

SCROOGEDRIVER

Ingredients:
• 4 to 5 oz. orange juice (fresh)
• 1 1/2 oz. vodka

Mixing instructions:
Mix orange juice and vodka in a highball glass filled with ice.


THE GRINCH

Ingredients:
• 2 oz. Midori
• 1/2 oz. lemon juice (fresh)
• 1 tsp. sugar syrup

Mixing instructions:
Mix all ingredients with ice in a shaker. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Option: Garnish this green drink with a red cherry.

Dec 16, 2004

Midnight Mixers

Mango, considered as the "peach of the tropics" makes an irresistible and delectable garnish and mixer for beach bound tropical drinks. Get shakin' and movin' with these island coolers. Warm over winter?

Blue Citrus Cooler

Pour 3 tbps. vodka, 1 tbsp. curacao liqueur, and 1/2 cup lemonade into an ice-filled glass and stir well. Garnish with fresh mango and pineapple wedges.

Mango Rum

Pour 3 tbps. white rum, 2 tbps. mango nectar, and 1 tsp. lime juice into an ice-filled glass and stir. Add 1/3 cup club soda, then 1 tbsp. grenadine. Garnish with a lime twist.

Dec 15, 2004

Biscotti Blitz

Biscotti and coffee go together like a wink and a smile.

Biscotti, an oblong shaped, crunchy cookie that originated from Prato in Tuscany has hundreds of flavours and variations to date. The popular biscottis are baked with dried cranberry, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon, raisins, miniature dark and white chocolate chips, allspice and toasted nuts. Biscotti is so delightfully crunchy that it should be dipped in coffee, latte, espresso and even vino for maximum pleasure.

This particular recipe beats other biscotti flavours I've tried.

Brownie Biscotti

1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened coca powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. water

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grease baking sheets,or line with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, crea together the butter and sugar until sooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder, stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Dough will be stiff, so mix in the last bit by hand. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
3. Divide dough into the two equal parts. Shape into 9x2x1 inch loaves. Place onto baking sheet 4 inches apart. Brush with mixture of water and olk.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm. Cool on baking sheet for 39 minutes.
5. Using a serrated knife slice the loaves diagonally into 1 inch slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet placing them on their sides. Bake for 10 to 15 monutes on each side, or until dry. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Dec 14, 2004

Seoul Food

An Asian cafe in my city serves oriental favourites such as Mee Goreng, Pandan Chicken, Lemongrass Ginger Chicken and Yakisoba over fragrant Jasmine rice in funky Chinese lunch pails. However, they've missed putting Korean Beef on their menu. A classic Asian dish, Korean Beef has intense smokey, barbeque-y flavour coupled with the saucy tartness of tomato sauce. It is an absolute rice bowl favourite.

Korean Beef

1/2 kg beef sirloin, sliced into thin strips
3 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
150 g. bean sprouts

Marinade:

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 stalks green onios, chopped
1 can (273 g.) spaghetti sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar

Marinate beef for 30 minutes, Drain but reserve marinade. Stir-fry beef in oil until cooked. Set aside. In the same pan, simmer marinade for 5 minutes. Combine with cooked beef. Add bean sprouts and sesame seeds. Stir once.

Chow, baby!

Dec 13, 2004

Just add rosewater

There's a way to sweeten plain, boring yoghurt. Turn it into Rose Lassi.

Lassi is the milkshake of India, an ayurvedic concoction made of yoghurt, rose water, cardamon, mint, cumin and pistachios. In particular, rose water or gulab jal is an important ingredient in the kitchens of Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Rose Lassi is divinely magical. I blended my first rose lassi drink a few Valentine's ago after seeing a recipe in a popular food magazine. To my surprise, rose lassi proved to be a potion for the heart. Not even rose wine or sparkling champagne could mimic magical feelings. The scent of rose water mingling with yoghurt and ice cubes evoked love. The pink paleness of yoghurt stained with rose petals was wonderfully soothing to the heart. After a few sips, I was drunk with the headiness of damask rose. Truly, rose lassi is a lovely, inspiring, mystical Indian drink.

Rose Lassi

2½ cups plain yogurt
½ cup fine sugar
2 teaspoons pure rose water
¾ cup iced water
1 cup ice cubes, cracked
a few fragrant rose petals for garnish

Blend the yogurt, sugar, rose water and iced water in a blender for 2 minutes. Add ice and pour the lassi into tall, refrigerated glasses and garnish with rose petals.

Sip and fall in love with life.

Dec 12, 2004

She who eats alone, chokes alone

I like quaint, tiny restaurants and cafes that offer comfort and personal space to the solo diner. No rude waiters who give weird stares and chilly reception. No nosy diners who think you have a psychological problem. Just a cozy place to be blissfully alone with your food. Food trippers haven.

During one of my island sojourns, I chanced upon a roadside Mexican cafe so tiny it could only accomodate 4-6 diners at a given time. It's loud fiesta inspired interiors and lively Mariachi music enticed me to stop and look at the chalkboard menu. Burritos. Tacos. Enchiladas. Margaritas.

I decided to stop by. Pretend I'm in Puerto Escondido or something.

After a few minutes, the waiter served the margarita and the hefty tacos with four accompanying chili sauces. I blissfully crunched through the tacos until I felt smoke columns rise up the roof. Holy guacamole, my tongue, no my skull was on fire!

Arms flailing and hot chili tears running down my cheeks, I wildly gestured at the waiter at the counter.

"Water, aqua, anything! Fire extinguisher?"

She who eats alone, burns her tongue alone.

Dec 11, 2004

Tamarind Tango

Factoid:

Tamarind is so sour that Marco Polo claimed the Malabar pirates made their victims swallow a mixture of tamarind and sea water, forcing them to vomit the entire contents of their stomach, revealing any pearls they may have swallowed to conceal them.

Tamarind pulp has more sugar and fruit acid per volume than any other fruit. It is also an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.
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I'm chomping on some excruciatingly sweet golden Thai tamarind. It is unusually sweet, unlike the Philippine variety which is well, excruciatingly sour. As a kid growing up in a tropical country, sweet and sour tamarind candy balls covered in white sugar are one of my favorite treats. Tamarind candy is usually wrapped in colored cellophane and sold in ethnic fruit food stalls. It's the fruit version of Cry Baby Extra Sour Gumballs sold in candy shops.

Tamarind is a staple in Asian cooking. It's succinct, distinct, tongue curling sourness makes it a great condiment to naturally sour soups and sauces.

Here's a Thai-inspired vegetarian tamarind sauce that’s divinely fruity and flavourful. It melds with the flavours of Thai Garlic Chips, fresh scallions, and cilantro. The recipe is adapted from Theresa Volpe Laursen and Byron Laursen's book, Bangkok to Bali in 30 Minutes.

Sweet-and-Sour Tamarind Sauce

½ cup vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon palm sugar or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons liquid tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoons light soy sauce

Golden Tofu Squares

One 24-ounce bottle peanut or vegetable oil
one 15-ounce package soft (silken) tofu, drained and cut into 12 pieces about 2 ¼ x 1 ¼ x I inch
2 slender scallions (white and tender green parts), angle-cut into thin slices
Thai Fried Garlic chips (see below)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, including the stems.

1. To make the sauce, heat the vegetable broth and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and well blended with the broth and bring to boil. Stir in the tamarind sauce and soy sauce, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring a few times, until the sauce begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Cover and set aside, off the heat.

2. To make the tofu squares, pour the oil into a large, deep skillet and heat over medium-high heat to 360 degrees F. (To test the oil temperature, dip a wooden spoon in the hot oil; it should bubble and sizzle around the bowl of the spoon.) Fry the tofu squares, a few at a time, turning them after about 1 minute on each side, until puffy and golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Remove with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on a baker’s rack with paper towels placed underneath.

3. Gently rewarm the sauce, if necessary. Transfer the fried tofu to a serving platter and sprinkle with the scallions and garlic chops. Top with the cilantro. Serve hot, with the tamarind sauce on the side.


Thai Fried Garlic Chips

1 cup peanut or vegetable oil
¼ cup thinly sliced garlic (about 12 cloves)
1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, drop in a slice of garlic. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the garlic and stir-fry just until it becomes aromatic and turns a pale golden color, about 1 ½ minutes.

2. Remove the skilled from the heat, lift the garlic chips out of the oil with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, and transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve warm, or at room temperature. The chips will keep for a few days if stored in an air-tight container.

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