Sunday, November 10, 2013

#153 Sashimi Lemon Dipping Sauce

It takes a lot of patience to shape thin slices of raw fish into salmon roses. It was very challenging, without proper research and especially when my stomach was growling! Very little patience was left, since there's the picture taking that needs to be done. :)
The end result, is a nice image, looks nothing like a rose :/, but I did a very good job on the leaves and stem I believe, I used the wasabi paste extracted from a tube, so that part was very easy. For this recipe, I just wanted to share a really tasty dip for your sashimi, or thinly sliced raw seafood. It is very simple to make, here's how:


1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 green onion, (green part only), chopped finely

  1. Heat vinegar, sugar and sauce in a small saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat, add rind; let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle sauce with onion.
Recipe adapted from Tasting Japan, Australian women's weekly magazine

This weekend, I learned a few do's and don'ts in Japanese etiquette, but here is what I learned about serving Sashimi:
When serving sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi on the side, it is traditional to serve the wasabi and soysauce separately, that is, not to mix the ingredients. This is because the wasabi does nothing to enhance either the flavor or sensation of the sauce. And, you don't know how much wasabi your guest wants in her/his soysauce! Leave the mixing to them.
Another important thing that I learned is, you can use your own chopsticks to take food from the communal dish if no serving implements are provided, but turn them around and use the clean handle end. Turn right way around again to use them for picking up your own food. :) Good to know!

Blogging is great. If I didn't have this blog, I don't know if I would even try making my own salmon roses! :) When I ate sashimi with friends  at restaurants, which I have- so many times, nothing compelled  me to learn more about it. I simply know it was Japanese food, raw, tastes good and then enjoyed it while catching up. None of our conservations revolved around food, it was always about our busy lives and all the crazy stuffs around us. Starting a food/cooking blog definitely opened my eyes,  I learn so much, I see food and home cooking in a different light now; cooking to me  is no longer a task, but a really fun, intimate activity at home, it helped me personally develop things within me that I didn't know I had. I am  also falling in love with food photography.  I think it is time to retire my point and shoot camera. :)

#152 Sashimi Rolls

I am a huge fan of Japanese cuisine. It is delicious, low in fat, deceptively simple to prepare, beautiful and fresh. I have always thought that the Japanese diet is a great attribute to their longevity. Their methods of cooking  have very little added fat. They consume lots of fish, and fucoidans, which are long chained molecules found in seaweed. Researchers believe that fucoidans are partly responsible for the extraordinary longevity observed in Japanese populations, where organic, unpolluted seaweeds form a significant dietary component. To embrace the Japanese diet is a no-brainer, but having cooked, photographed and posted 151+ dishes now, for me it is truly hard to stick to Japanese cuisine exclusively, especially here in the United States, there's just too many choices available. However, it is not too difficult to stick to a healthy diet. There is a saying, if it is important to you, you will make a way, if not, you will find an excuse. So if longevity is important to you, you will find a way to eat healthier, like the Japanese do. 
One of my favorites is a Japanese delicacy called Sashimi. It is thinly sliced raw seafood, traditionally served with soysauce and wasabi paste. You can use tuna, fatty tuna, squid, prawn, octopus, mackarel, snapper, white snapper and red salmon. I haven't tried prawn and octopus, yet. :) Maybe when I am bored with the fish variety, I can try eating octopus tentacles. Umm, okay, maybe just the prawns! Now sticking to red salmon and tuna, which are my two most favorite.  I found this recipe for sashimi rolls,  I loved the idea of inserting raw vegetables in each roll of the sashimi. It was fun, definitely worth all the effort because it was different and  delicious!



sashimi fish
cucumber, halved lengthways
red bell pepper
green onion

japanese soy sauce

  1. Sharpen knife using a steel; wipe knife. Cut fish into paper-thin slices.
  2. Remove and discard seeds from cucumber and membrane from  red bell pepper. Cut cucumber, red bell pepper and green onions into long thin strips; trim strips  to approximately the same size as the width of the fish slices.
  3. Place one fish slice on board; place one or two pieces of each vegetable at one end. Roll fish to enclose filling; repeat with remaining fish and filling. Serve sashimi rolls with soy sauce in a separate bowl.
recipe adapted from Brigid Treloar, Australian Women's weekly test kitchen

Saturday, November 9, 2013

#151 Asian Eggplant Dip

Eggplant or also known an aubergine, brinjal, brinjal eggplant, melongene, garden egg or guinea squash. Wow, I didn't know this vegetable has so many different names! We call it talong in the Philippines. They come in different variety names, in different colors and can be cooked in many different ways. Back home, we throw it on a hot grill or steam it, and  then dip it in a mixture of soysauce, lemon, chopped green onions and crushed fresh hot chili pepper. A very simple poor man's meal. We also use it in stir fries and add it in soups as well. I didn't know of any other ways to cook it then. When I moved to the United States,  I was surprised to discover the many wonderful ways it can be enjoyed. Ratatouille, Parmigiana di melanzane,  Baba Ganoush, Moussaka, etc. So delicious!

I was craving for eggplants, so when I visited Ranch 99, which is an Asian grocery store, I picked up a couple of giant eggplants. Although there are many ways to enjoy it, I always go back to how we prepared it while I was growing up.  Good old grilling and making my spicy hot soy sauce dip. The taste always brings back great memories. 
Once I took it off the grill, I stared at it for a long time because it was then that I realize, I did not have green onions and soysauce. I ran out of soysauce! For the first time!  

Instead of grabbing my key to drive to the nearest grocery store, I  started searching for baba ganoush recipe, I quickly found it and learned that it is easy to make IF I had tahini, which is the major ingredient. :/ I searched the fridge to see what I had, and found lemon, ginger and garlic. I quickly peeled and  minced the garlic and ginger, I knew in my heart that the mix of flavors will work! No need for me to rush to the grocery store! I then scraped the meat of the grilled eggplant and mixed all other ingredients with it in a bowl, squeezed in the fresh lemon juice, and then added the salt to taste. What would I do with out salt? :) Next, I added ground pepper.. Yum! Then, I sprinkled red pepper flakes, mixed it all good, and a great asian flavor inspired dip is created!
It was a great dish to enjoy with left over crackers and that smoked salmon that I picked up from Trader Joes that's been in the fridge for a while.
Ready to make yours? Here's how:
2 large eggplants, halved, grilled until soft
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 root ginger, peeled and minced
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
smoked salmon, optional
  1. Scrape the meat off the grilled eggplant using a fork.
  2. In a bowl, mix the eggplants, minced garlic, minced ginger, lemon, salt, mix well.
  3. Add pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

#150 How to cook Quinoa, the mother of all grains

Post #150. Today is the first day of September. I haven't blogged in 2 months! Cooking is time consuming, taking pics and editing then blogging takes A LOT more time than cooking. 215 dishes more to cook! That's a lot. :)
So where have I been for the last 2 months? LOL. Many things happened. We moved back to San Jose, California in early June. BVS is a beautiful place with 4 seasons, we love it there and we miss it, but it was time to leave to go back to Silicon Valley for work. A week later after moving back to SJ, I started training for a new position, and then after that, just got so busy day after day.  All summer, I drove atleast 150 miles every day for work, 200 + some days. I talk non-stop all day, and by the time the day ends, all I wanted to do was just rest and spend time with my daughter before I complete more paperwork. I worked 6 days a week, so cooking really was not something enjoyable with all the changes going on. So did I cook anything within the two months? Once in a while, yes. But we ate mostly take out..Ugh!. BUT, I also had good food made for us by my friend's Mom, we were invited to their dinners several times :), and we were blessed to receive home cooked meal almost every day from my dear friend A. But I do feel so guilty for not cooking, and blogging! I caved in to my busy schedule instead of rising above it!

Thank goodness, now I am well adjusted to my new routine. For me, driving all these miles everyday is  really, okay. I love what I do and have been doing it for almost 3 years now.  I like going to bed every night knowing that I am making money by  helping the environment and many homeowners save money drastically and live healthier. I must say, it has been a phenomenal summer filled with  changes, many challenges and many successes. All settled in, with most of our stuff organized in our new place, I now have all the space and time and excitement to finish my project.
Today I am blogging about Quinoa, a grain like crop  grown primarily for it's edible seeds. It was first domesticated by the Andean peoples around 3,000 years ago, and was considered holy as the  "mother of all grains" by the Incas. Today, it plays a huge role in global food security.  I wanted to share because I really love it, and hopefully you will check it out as well because it is very easy to cook, it tastes good and goes well with anything. I eat as a side dish much like how I eat rice. But I like it better than rice because it is highly nutritious, and considered a superfood. It is a source of complete protein, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium and is gluten-free. Read more


1 cup quinoa
2 cups of water


  1. Place 1 cup Quinoa and 2 cups of water in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, for about 10 to 15 minutes. When done, the grain appears soft and translucent, and the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain.

My big thank you to the Andean peoples for preserving Quinoa for us and the future generations to enjoy. I have a similar mission in life as the Andeans, and it is why I am passionate about energy efficiency and renewables: to preserve our  natural resources and live in harmony with nature, for the present and the future.
2013 is declared as the "International Year of Quinoa" by the United Nations General Assembly. The objective is to draw the world’s attention on the role that quinoa plays in providing food security, nutrition and poverty eradication, in support of achieving Millennium Development Goals. Source:

"Faced with the challenge of increasing the production of quality food to feed the world's population in the context of climate change, quinoa offers an alternative for those countries suffering from food insecurity" -

Saturday, June 29, 2013

#149 Vietnam's phở Sài Gòn

Saturday is here, after a crazy busy week. It's time to rechannel my energy and connect to home, where the heart is. Time to relax, and gives lots of hugs to the ones I love that's near, thoughts and prayers to a dear love who is thousands of miles away, and praise to the Almighty who makes things okay in the end. And it's the time I make my plans on what to make for the next week, do some grocery shopping and go the farmers market. Ingredient hunting has become one of my favorite things to do. Cooking so many different dishes introduced me to a new perspective in life, I feel more connected to nature. Now each ingredient is no longer viewed as just a spice, meat, or a vegetable, but each has it's own character and is special. I marvel at man's intelligence, how each of these ingredients were discovered, and I thank to God for being alive in this day and age, because everything is just so convenient to make, which makes it easy for everyone to forget how special every single living or non-living thing is, in this lifetime.

I made  phở Sài Gòn, or beef soup. And what a great dish it was. Soup brings me great comfort, and it is easy to feed to others who are hungry, especially the little ones, and simple to make too. :) I cannot get over how good this beef phở was. Unbelievable. I usually go to a nearby Vietnamese restaurant, there's lots of places to enjoy a good beef pho in this area, but this time, I wanted to learn how to make it.  I was introduced to many new ingredients and a special way to make soup using the recipe I found online. I've been planning to make this soup since the inception of, and I am so happy I finally did! Oh my, what took me so long? This is one of the best soups I have made in my entire life. In the Philippines, we make broth based beef soup also by boiling the meat with bones for long periods of time. It's a national favorite and it's really good, but what makes this beef phở better in my opinion, is the blend of the herbs, and the spices, absolutely amazing.

I needed to make this right the first time so I made sure I also bought the  cheese cloth. It is very important, because it is what you use to wrap the spices before adding it in the water to cook with the meat. I also made sure  I bought star anise also (pictured below).  Illicium verum, commonly called Star anise, star aniseed, or Chinese star anise is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a medium-sized native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening.Star anise is grown in four provinces in China and harvested between March and May. It is also found in the south of New South Wales. It has been used in a tea as a traditional remedy for rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion, in traditional Chinese Medicine,  star anise, as a warm and moving herb, is used to assist in relieving cold-stagnation in the middle jiao, which refers  to the midsection of the body and includes the Spleen, Stomach, Gall Bladder and Liver organs. Read more

Cinnamon, I love it's scent, and little did I know  what great flavor it brings when added to soup. Fragrant, it is referred to as the "real cinnamon", most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as "cassia" to distinguish them from "true cinnamon". It was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god: a fine inscription records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the temple of Apollo at Miletus. Though its source was kept mysterious in the Mediterranean world for centuries by the middlemen who handled the spice trade, to protect their monopoly as suppliers, cinnamon is native to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malabar Coast of India and Burma.

Allspice berries are the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The fruit are picked when green and unripe and are traditionally dried in the sun. When dry, the fruit are brown and resemble large brown peppercorns. The plant is dioecious, meaning plants are either male or female, hence male and female plants must be kept in proximity to allow fruit to develop. Read more

I read many recipes for  beef phở before I even bought the ingredients, I was confused which beef cut to use, and got all the more confused because there are so many variations and recipes you can find online! After going back and forth, and asking myself out loud at the grocery store "Why is oxtail so expensive?", my little girl said: "but Mom, the more expensive it is, the better the quality"...LOL. She's right on that, and.. there's only 1 oxtail in 1 cow, I took that long to figure it out? duh..basic economics!  I am such a natural bargain hunter, and my brain does not operate like that in stores.  I don't know if her knowing that this early is good or bad?! :) So after I bought the oxtail, I was $14 poorer, it is a highly priced commodity for making beef broth. I learned that in the past, the price for oxtails was nowhere near this expensive, it is when a chef extraordinaire like Anthony Bourdain let out secrets of whipping up great food made of oxtails that the price started soaring high. I tried not to visualize a live cow, which was hard because oxtail does not look like a regular meat, this is a body part of a cow that moves, and I always notice it when I look at cows...and  then peeled, and cut. But guess what, if I got over that stage and cooked it, and enjoyed it, you can too! :) And now I know why it's expensive. The broth was delicious, and not as fatty as the regular cuts. My best friend A came over and saw this too, and he said "holy cow, I did not think oxtail had that much meat?!" :)

Daikon radish is a great vegetable for clear broth based soups. They're  huge, so I just used half of it, and half of which I sliced thinly and snacked on it.

Purple stemmed basil? Yes and with flowers too! This is Thai basil, tastes very much like the regular basil, but it's prettier don't you think? Also called  Asian basil (húng quế in Vietnamese) is a type of sweet basil native to Southeast Asia that has been cultivated to provide distinctive traits. Its flavor is more stable under high or extended cooking temperatures than that of sweet basil. Thai basil exhibits small, narrow leaves and purple stems, with a mauve (pink-purple) flower. One cultivar commonly grown in the United States is 'Queen of Siam'. Read more

I bought this mint from the Asian market, and not only did I notice the bigger leaves compared to ones sold at whole foods, trader joes or nob hill, the packets are also much bigger! for a fraction of the price!

So can you imagine this soup's flavor with all the spices and herbs pictured above? Hard to explain, but once you taste will know what I am trying to say. And that beautiful blend of flavor? Fresh cilantro ties them all together. When I ate it without Cilantro, it was great. But a generous amount of it added to the soup, made it perfect!

And beef  phở is not perfect without mung bean sprouts as part of the garnish. Great flavor! You see,  making this soup was not just plain cooking for me, it was a discovery, a great adventure to the unknown, and a great joy.

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles, a few herbs, and meat. It is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. Pho is primarily served with either beef or chicken. The Hanoi and Saigon styles of pho differ by noodle width, sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs. The origin of pho and its name is a subject of scholarly debate.  The style in which we made ours is called, phở Sài Gòn,  a variation of pho that originated from the Southern part of vietnam. The several regional variants of pho in Vietnam, particularly divided between northern (Hanoi, are called phở bắc or "northern pho"), and southern pho (Saigon, called phở Sài Gòn). Northern pho tends to use somewhat wider noodles and much more green onion, and garnishes offered generally include only vinegar, fish sauce and chili sauce. On the other hand, southern Vietnamese pho broth is slightly sweeter and has bean sprouts and a greater variety of fresh herbs. The variations in meat, broth, and additional garnishes such as lime, bean sprouts, ngò gai (Eryngium foetidum), húng quế (Thai/Asian basil), and tương đen (bean sauce/hoisin sauce), tương ớt (hot chili garlic sauce, e.g., Rooster Sauce) appear to be innovations made by or introduced to the south,also called Pho Sai Gon ("Saigon Style" Pho). read more from source.

Are you ready to make yours? Here's how:

Yield: serves 6
phở Sài Gòn 

5 pounds beef knuckle, with meat
2 pounds beef oxtail
1 white (daikon) radish, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 ounces whole star anise pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 slice fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 1/2 pounds dried flat rice noodles
1/2 pound frozen beef sirloin

chili pepper sauce or chili pepper paste
hoisin sauce
thinly sliced onion
chopped fresh cilantro
bean sprouts (mung beans)
sweet Thai basil
thinly sliced green onion
limes, quartered

  1. Place the beef knuckle in a very large (9 quart or more) pot. Season with salt, and fill pot with 2 gallons of water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 hours.
  2. Skim the fat from the surface of the soup, and add the oxtail, radish and onions. Tie the anise pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice berries, peppercorns and ginger in a cheesecloth or place in a spice bad; add to the soup. Stir in sugar, salt and fish sauce. Simmer over medium-low hear for atleast 4 more hours (the longer, the better). At the end of cooking, taste, and add salt as need. Strain broth, and return to the pot to keep at a simmer. Discard spices and bones. Reserve meat from the beef knuckle for other uses if desired.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Soak the rice noodles in water for about 20 minutes, then cook in boiling water until soft, but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Slice the frozen beef paper thin. The meat must be thin enough to cook instantly.
  4. Ladle soup and meat in a bowl, and add toppings to your desired amount. Squeeze limes in soup before serving. 
Recipe adapted from here

Add freshly squeezed juice of lime, it's heaven on Earth!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

#148 Flank steak with Bok choi

Bok choi (one of the vegetables pictured below) is a green leafy vegetable,  it has white succulent stalks and is highly nutritious. It is also called chinese cabbage, pak choi, or bokchoy. You can find plenty in Asian markets and in the leafy green section of your favorite grocery store. We grow it also in the Philippines and we call it Pechay, or Petsay. It is really easy to grow, my Mom has a garden full of it. Ever wonder what you can make with bok choi leaves?  There are many ways to enjoy it! We add it in clear soups and stir fries. This recipe by Lisa Bell that I found years ago in a Cooking Light magazine is just one of many dishes that you can make using bokchoy, she added shiitake mushrooms, but I omitted it. You can add about a cup of sliced shiitake, and cook it with the bell peppers and onions, it tastes great! I have tried making it with shiitake many times, I just did not have any on that day. What I love about this recipe? It's quick cooking and inexpensive, low in fat since very little oil is required, and the use of a leaner cut of beef: the flank steak. Bok choi contains just 13 calories per 100g. It's a delicious dish that will allow extra calories to consume for the day. :)
Yield: serves 4

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced
Cooking spray
1 cup thinly vertically sliced onion
1 cup red bell pepper strips
4 cups sliced bok choy (about 1 medium head)
1 cup less-sodium beef broth

  1. Combine ginger, garlic, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, oil, and crushed red pepper in a large zip-top bag; add steak to bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray, and add onion, and bell pepper to pan. Cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; transfer to a large bowl. Add bok choy to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until slightly wilted; add to bowl; keep warm.
  3. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add half of steak mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl; keep warm. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add remaining steak mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add to bowl; keep warm.
  4. Combine broth and remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Add to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Return steak and vegetables to pan; toss gently to coat.
Recipe adapted from: Lisa Bell, Cooking Light, 2005

Flank steak is a lean, flavorful, boneless cut favored in Asian cuisines. This thin, flat steak comes from a well-exercised part of the cow, as evidenced by its striated muscle fibers and connective tissue.

Eat up your bokchoy!  Here are the nutritional benefits of this low calorie vegetable:
  • Bok choy is one of the popular leafy-vegetables very low in calories. Nonetheless, it is very rich source of many vital phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals and health-benefiting anti-oxidants.
  • 100 g of bok choy contains just 13 calories. It is one of the recommended vegetables in the zero calorie or negative calorie category of foods which when eaten would add no extra weight to the body but in-turn facilitate calorie burns and reduction of weight.
  • As in other Brassica family vegetables, bok choy too contains certain anti-oxidant plant chemicals like thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. Along with dietary fiber, vitamins these compounds help to protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood.
  • Fresh pak choi is an excellent source of water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin-C (ascorbic acid). 100 g provides 45 mg or 75 % of daily requirements of vitamin C. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  • Bok-choy has more vitamin A, carotenes, and other flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants than cabbage, cauliflower, etc. Just 100 g of fresh vegetable provides 4468 IU or 149% of daily-required levels vitamin A.
  • Pak choi is a very good source of vitamin K, provides about 38% of RDA levels. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone metabolism by promoting osteotrophic activity in bone cells. Therefore, enough vitamin K in the diet makes your bone stronger, healthier and delay osteoporosis. Further, vitamin-K also has established role in curing Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
  •  Fresh bok choy has many vital B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish.
  • Further, this leafy vegetable is a moderate source of minerals, particularly calcium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium. Potassium is an important electrolyte in the cell and body fluids that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for the red blood cell formation.

Good food that is really easy to make!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

#147 Greek Inspired Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken is one of the  easiest dishes to  fix for dinner and it is healthy too. I made this Mediterranean inspired Greek Roasted Chicken. We had a jar full of kalamata olives and so I decided to make a rub using it. Herbs were a plenty since it was on sale for $.99, grocery discounts always make me happy, especially if they sell herbs for  half the original price, organic herbs  can get pricey but it is essential in good cooking and in my opinion, must never be skipped. I've always wanted to start planting my favorite herbs, and will do so very soon. Finally I will have a small herb garden, I need to :)  as you can see in the photo below, I used lots of fresh herbs! I actually overstuffed the poor bird! But I think I will be forgiven, because it's main purpose is to nourish another form of life, not only did it nourish us, it gave us joy. :) I wanted to find out if  using all the herbs will add a strong unbearable flavor to the chicken, but the result was quite the opposite! It was delicious, the flavors were not shy, yet far from overwhelming. It was a perfect blend of the fresh and dried herbs, lemon, garlic and the kalamata olives.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Whole roasting chicken
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup jarred kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion quartered
sprig of fresh thyme
sprig of fresh sage
sprig of fresh mint
sprig of fresh rosemary
sprig of fresh basil
4 cloves of garlic

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 F. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry all over with paper towels. Remove the giblets from the cavity of the chicken, generously add salt and pepper into the cavity, and return the giblets. Squeeze the lemon in the cavity, then add the lemon itself, pushing in each half gently. Insert quartered onions, garlic and all the fresh herbs: thyme, sage, mint, rosemary, basil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine:  1/4 cup butter, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint,1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper. Gradually working your fingers under the skin to gently loosen it so it does not tear. Rub the mixture under the skin, and all over the chicken. 
  3. Gently slip chopped kalamata olives under the skin.
  4. Truss the chicken and place it breast side up, on a rack if you like, in a large baking pan. Roast in the center of the oven until the bird is golden on the outside and the leg joint moves easily when you rotate it, about 1 hour.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, add pepper generously all over. Flip the  bird onto the breast side and let it rest, uncovered for at least 15 minutes and as long as 30.
  6. Carve the chicken and arrange it on a warmed serving platter. Cut the giblets into thin slices and arrange them on the platter. If a substantial amount of cooking juices remain in the baking pan, place it over medium heat and bring to boil. Scrape up any browned bits, stir in 1/2 cup of water, and pour the juice over the chicken.
So if you are not gentle in adding the rub in between the meat and skin of the chicken, you will tear the skin, just like what happened here.
I added more kalamata olives in the roasting pan and some parsley too which cooked great with the chicken. We loved it! Roasting chicken at home is fun and it tastes so much better!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

#146 We made our own Flour tortilla

Since the day I started making breads, I have been dying to make my own flour tortilla. I am so glad I found this recipe.  Because of our food allergies, we cannot buy food from her school's cafeteria, so cooking in the morning and packing lunch is an absolute must for me. We like to pack tortilla and quesadilla, and we  buy flour tortillas from the grocery stores to make it. Well, after I learned how easy it is to make a home made tortilla using organic flour, I will not be buying for a long long time, or maybe, even never! :) This recipe does not require lard nor shortening, which is a great plus, it is very quick and easy to make, soft, really good for quesadilla. 
Yield: 12 medium sized tortillas


4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups warm water ( not HOT) 

  1.  Mix the dry ingredients. 
  2. Add oil and mix with hands. 
  3. Mixing with your hands, add water a little at a time, until you get a soft dough. 
  4. You should be able to mix in all the dry ingredients, but the dough shouldn't be sticky. 
  5. (You can add in more flour if you add too much water.) On a floured surface, knead the dough for 2- 4 minutes, adding flour if the dough is sticky. 
  6. Form dough into a ball, cover with towel and place upside down bowl over dough. 
  7. Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes. NOTE: the dough will not rise, this just rests the gluten. 
  8. Heat ungreased griddle to medium-high. 
  9. Break off golf-ball sized pieces of dough and flatten into 5 inch circles. 
  10. On a floured surface roll out tortillas using a back and forth motion, turning the tortilla 1/4 turn after each roll. 
  11. Flip the tortilla at least once. 
  12. Place tortilla on hot griddle and cook till bubbles rise (20-25 seconds). 
  13. Flip and cook on the other side 20-25 seconds. 
  14. Finished tortillas will be speckled with brown. 
  15. Place cooked tortilla in a bowl covered and lined with a towels.
Recipe adapted from Stacy Diaz featured on an article in San Jose Mercury News

A tortilla (or flour tortilla to differentiate it from other uses of the word "tortilla") is a type of thin flatbread made from finely ground wheat flour. It originated in Mexico and  has been a staple food of the Mexican region since pre-Columbian times. Read more from our source.
I learned that wheat flour tortillas have been used on many American spaceflights since 1985 as an easy solution to the problems of handling food in microgravity and preventing bread crumbs from escaping into delicate instruments.
Below is hilarious line from the funny and smart movie I recently watched: One Day; in the movie, Emma (Anne Hathaway), who was working in a  restaurant in London, educates a customer:
"A tortilla is either corn or wheat. But a corn tortilla folded and filled is a taco, whereas a filled wheat tortilla is a burrito. Deep fry a burrito, it's a chimichanga.Toast a tortilla, it's a tostada. Roll it, it's an enchilada." :)

#145 Horiatiki Salata (Greek Salad)

With no lettuce nor other leafy greens and using only fresh plump tomatoes and other equally fresh, crunchy vegetables, kalamata olives, a simple vinaigrette, and sprinkled with feta cheese before serving,  this recipe makes a simply delicious Horiatiki Salata or Greek salad. Horiatiki means village-style. This is how I ate salad back home in the Philippines since we did not have an abundance of lettuce, but without the olive oil and cheese. After I tried this for the first time, I fell in love with it and now  Greek Salad is a must have at least once a week for me. It's one of my favorites.  I did not remove the cucumber seeds as per instructions, because for some odd reason, I cannot eat cucumbers without the middle part, it ruins the taste for me. I also added radish because I like it very much, adding radish to Greek salad was introduced to me by a former co-worker of mine, who always shared her Greek Salad with everybody every single day, and it was always delicious. Simple, flavorful and with feta cheese, it's heaven!
Yield: Serves 6

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large-diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large-diced
1 bunch of radish, peeled and halved,  or cut smaller if you like
1 pint fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half-rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

  1. Place the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
  2. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. 
  3. Add the feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten's Greek Salad here

I omitted the onions, but I highly recommend not to, because onions add a great flavor to it. 
It's your personal call. It's yummy either way. :)

#144 Spiral shortbread

We found a children's baking book by Sara Lewis in the library and we instantly fell in love with the spiral shortbreads featured in the book. Of course we had to  make it and we had so much fun! A very simple recipe, we loved the pretty pattern after we cut the roll. We both liked how it was not overly sweet like the regular cookies. We made different shapes from the scraps, marbled butterflies and hearts. :) This is a really good recipe to bake with kids. We will make many more in the future.

Yield: 16 pieces


2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa pwd
1 tbsp boiling water
1 cup butter - at room temperature
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Dissolve the cocoa powder in the boiling water until smooth.
  2. Mix the butter, flour and sugar into a crumbly mix. Divide equally between 2 mixing bowls.
  3. In one bowl, add the vanilla extract. Knead well and set aside
  4. Add the cocoa paste to the other bowl and knead well, until the chocolate blends well into the flour mixture, the more you knead, the darker the dough color will be.
  5. Roll out the two doughs between 2 sheets of parchment paper into 8 inch squares each.
  6. Carefully place the cocoa dough over the vanilla dough. Roll the two together as tightly as possible.
  7. Chill for 15 mins. In the meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
  8. Cut the rolls into about 16 slices. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet before serving.

Shortbread is a classic Scottish dessert that is made with flour, butter and sugar and is baked at a low temperature to avoid browning. It was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland, it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. It has been attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, who in the mid-16th century was said to be very fond of Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread originally flavoured with caraway seeds. Read more from our source here