Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seasonal Fruit Spread

I was feeling so helpless watching the news feed about Typhoon Ondoy. After all, the streets that got flooded: Katipunan Avenue, EDSA, C-5 highway, all these were familiar routes to me. Why, we just passed through them coming and going to visit friends, relatives and the Trinoma Mall in Quezon City. So, when I heard 5,000 folks were waiting out in Trinoma, I was feeling sad. Not because they were in danger, but because Trinoma has all the things you would want for the day and night: spa, movies, restaurants, hair salon, atrium, all kinds of American, European and Native shops. This quickly became our favorite when we vacationed in July and August. That was just a month ago, and to hear that folks are now wading in a waterworld, this was so hard to believe. The rains were non-stop and in six hours, the lakes were formed, where formerly were streets, roads, beautiful gardens, and now: mud, bent lamp posts, and vehicles that should be on the ground, now are floating. Floating like play cars in a bathtub. This not playing. This is real life.

So, instead of feeling helpless, and continuing to repost calls for help on Facebook, thank God for Facebook, which helped saved lives, and thank you for the inventors of Facebook - this social networking tool brings people, resources and quick ground floor photos and news. I decided to make some fruit spread and bake my standard banana bread recipe.

Here is the fruit spread:

15 nectarines, cut up into small pieces
3 whole calamansi fruit, washed, uncut
1 basket of green figs, cut up in halves
a handful of blackberries
a handful of raspberries
Juice of one orange
1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar - make into a sugar syrup, by boiling together
2 drops of peach liquer

Cut up the nectarines. Add the calamansi fruit, add the cut up nectarines and figs. Boil over slow fire, and fully attend to it. It is almost therapeutic, to just keep stirring the mixture, smell the smells of fresh, organic, seasonal fruits. Then, as the mixture thickens, add the sugar syrup. Taste it. If too sweet, add the juice of an entire large orange. Keep stirring, until you have the consistency you want. I want mine not too thick, but spreadable. I added the blackberries and raspberries for color. Amazing to see that blackberries when cooked lose their black tinge and almost became deep ruby red.

You see, this is why I put so much labor of love in my cooking, I watch and observe the colors change, my sense of tastes and smells satiated and my oh my, a new surprise for me -- I looked at the fruit spread, and knowing we will not consume all the fruit spread, I decided to use half of the fruit filling into my banana bread.

So, as I finished the fruit spread, I set aside the banana bread. I poured the mixture into the small loaf pans, half of it only, then, spread the fruit fillings, and then, poured the next half of the mixture over it. Oh my, oh my, the smells of banana, mixing in with the fruit spread really made one feel like this is still summer. It is not summer. In fact, today is Sept. 29, 2009, but there are still floods and typhoons. So, in celebration of the seasons, to keep my attitude going to help out other folks by posting relief information in Facebook, I completed my task for the day: organic nectarine, fig, berries spread. Do you have a cute name for it? Let me know...

The verdict: My hubby finished up half a loaf to himself. Maura, my cleaning lady was so happy with the loaf she took home for her husband and her to eat the next day. I did the same, devoured half a loaf with my morning juice.

Check the juice recipe in my blog - that was created by my hubby. A lot of what we eat, we create recipes for, it is just part of good living, I think, to interact with your senses, to put your mind into it, to put masipag technology in your cooking, and sprinkle it with lots of love for others to be satisfied with. After all, it is about enjoying life! And you cannot enjoy life without food!

PS: I do not like posting photos of the created recipes, for I want you to imagine them, and be persuaded that there is nothing better than creating your own experiments with good food dishes! Sometimes, I do, as my mentees will suggest, please post our photos and the food. So, I make an exception. Next time, I will post farmer markets' produce.....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inspired Week of Cooking - Day 6 - Power Juicing with Vegetables and Fruits

I goofed, I said I gave you the recipe for the juice. Well, I made a mistake, when I scrolled down my blog, it was not there. It was in facebook that I shared the recipe with Soji. Okay, so forgive me, my readers, here is the recipe of juice.

It is pictured here on the left side of the chilaquiles, with our favorite read: Sunday's New York Times.

Something about this juice, this connects me with my hubby of 30 some years, actually 32 of being together. He helped me in regaining my health and wellness, after a bout of asthma, allergies and influenza all at the same time, and finding a wonderful doctor in the Philippines, who did his research and prescribed the medications that are efficacious. Wow, I can now breathe and have more energies.

Okay, I admit I got distracted. I was talking about juicing. This is why my hubby at times gets annoyed listening to me, although he keeps it under wraps in deference to not annoying me in turn. He developed this formula, mimicking the organic way we were eating: mostly fresh fish and fresh vegetables and fruits when we vacationed in the Philippines. I know, I know I said, the juice. So, here is the story behind the juice and FDA folks, I am not doing a commercial sale here, I am just sharing, so I am not violating any rules of fairness in trading and fair business practices, as I am not selling juice.

Buy your produce of course at a reputable store, we buy ours at a Jewish store near our house.

Use the masticating type of Juicer which masticates the vegetables and fruits, rather than the centrifugal juicer, which ends up defeating the veggie fibers and you end up struggling with extracting their juices.

Tips in using oranges, lemons: remove the peel and donot use the white pith - trust me, they are bitter. It would be like adding dandelion leaves, yuk, that is what I had today in my juice and my husband lovingly justified it was good for me, and in deference to my palate, he only added two leaves, but yuk, it tasted like 20 leaves.

Fresh, Natural, Uncooked, P-8, P10 or P-11 juice ( the name depends on how many fruits and vegetables you want to combine )

1 apple - cut up in 8 pieces to fit into the funnel of the machine
1 lemon or 1 orange - peel removed, as well as the white pith
1 cucumber
1 zucchini
1 bunch of parsley - my Jewish American Doctor, who will remain unnamed shared that parsley acts as an antibiotic, removes the bacteria in your system. So when our stomachs are grumbly, we make it two bunches of parsley to normalize us once more.
1 bell pepper - cut into 8 pieces to fit the funnel
1 carrot - my cousin noticed the "orange color" in my hubby's hands, so she suggested we lessen our carrots or make it one carrot every other day. So there, the disclaimer has been shared. Too much of a good thing becomes a poison.
1 cup of spinach leaves - more than a cup makes it yukky...trust me, I am the guinea pig on this one, and my husband makes juice almost daily and I have tasted at least 100 yukky juice days. I love it when he gets it so right and I savor each drop of juice as I drink it.
1 stalk of celery - do not add more than 1 stalk, as celery has salt and if you are prone to salt levels in your body system, you can feel a change in your body condition. It happened to me, I am one of those folks...so, instead of energizing me, it wilted me.
1 bunch of grapes - my favorite, when he adds this -- oh boy, the juice is great!
1 slice or two of jicama - this gives the juice some body.

Secret weapon: The juice of four kalamansi fruits ( small green or yellow citrus fruit, sometimes called citronella by French folks ) -- this is really the kicker as the juice gets tasty because of this.

Okay, the recipe is not complete if I do not share that greens have to be juiced first. My hubby shared that the other day, as the green extracts of parsley, spinach have to be washed down by the later addition of the hardy ones, like carrots, jicama, apple, oranges and grapes. Depending on how you juice it, and the moisture in the fruits and vegetables, we normally get a yield of three 10 oz. glasses. So, we can have a full glass all to ourselves.

The best part of juicing is I have become less susceptible to colds. The bad part of overjuicing and using the wrong ingredients, like raw beets, is you develop allergies. All of a sudden, you are needing anti-histamines. 

So there, I have fully declared our energizing mornings of juicing and we pair that with my experimentation on banana breads and egg-centric hollowed-out olive breads.

Come to think of it, when we are "eccentric" and focused on just ourselves, like " ego-centric ", we actually become more hollowed - out, feeling used-up, vacant and irrelevant. 

That is my belief, so I stay engaged with the community. That is my zany reflection for the day! Ala Julie on Julie and Julia, did you see that movie? I even bought the book, My life in France by Julia Child, oh I just love her zest for life!! And I love Meryl Streep for portraying her brilliant vibrance!

Happy juicing everyone and the net effect of juicing for a year for me: no fevers, no prolonged colds, no prolonged bouts with influenza and of course, I believe God's blessings are with us, because we treat Mother Nature with care and respect. By the way, we compost the extracted fibers and seeds, so the soil becomes fertile for the Holland bulbs I just planted. And it keeps my marriage on solid footing, instead of diseased foundations because of wrong breakfast foods like sugar and caffeine!

Happy juicing everyone! The formula was developed by Enrique Delacruz. I just documented his practices and he has the last word on this, as he developed the formula, so ask him directly. You can leave me comments on your own experiences.

Juicing is like cooking, it is personal and it is what works for you, so find the right formula that works for your family, this formula works for ours!  I wrote this in 2009, it is now 2011 and we are still juicing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Inspired Week of Cooking - Day 5 - Coconut Leche Flan or Coconut Creme Brulee

I have been cooking for five days now. Is my inspiration coming from the lotuses that are displayed?

Today, my creative self wants to experiment with coconut milk and coconut oil. Why? Josephine gave me two cans of coconut milk and Celia gave me a bottle of coconut oil. So, what is the plan, I asked myself?

Of course, the first thing a cook does or even a baker, is to scout if all the ingredients are available. And what are we cooking today?

Coconut leche flan in a heart-shaped pan

6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon sugar ( caramelize over hot flames, until brown in color, let cool in container )
1 can of condensed milk ( Lechera brand is the less sweet of all the varieties I have tried )
1/2 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla

Whisk the egg yolks, careful not to overbeat and careful not to introduce too much air. Add the condensed milk, 1/2 can of coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Strain into the heart-shaped pan with cooled caramel. Cover well with foil, so that steam or excess water is kept out and not allowed into the mold. Prepare the steamer and add water.

When boiling, add the foil-covered mold and steam for 45 minutes in high heat. When done, set aside. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, run the knife by the edges and corners of the mold or heart-shaped pan, and unmold into a plate. Serve a tablespoon at a time with a scoop of ice-cream, preferably vanilla, or a flavor that synchronizes well with coconut leche flan, therefore, I suggest no chocolate, but if your palate desires the combination, go for it.

The verdict, when I shared with friends: the coconut flavor was robust, but a bit sweet. I think I will add a tablespoon or two of water next time to just dilute the sweetness. Try the recipe first as you might find it pleasing to your palate before adding water next time. Bon Appetit, as Julia Child would say!! Kain na, I would say!

Inspired Week of Cooking - Day 4 - EggCentric Olive Bread

Today, for breakfast, my daughter, Corina and hubby, Enrique went for a hike at Runyon Canyon, with Delilah, part chow, and a very sweet dog. They were gone for more than an hour.

I decided to surprise them with a homemade breakfast, after all, my hubby had a busy day ahead of him, teaching for over six hours and my daughter had a full day of classes for her law school. So, I looked at what I have. The saying goes that the test of a good cook is how she uses the available ingredients and most recipes are stumbled upon by mistake or accidents. Well, for me, it is not by accident or mistake, it is by intention. My inntention is to memorialize my choice recipes for my children, and for them to refer to, even in my absence.

Hopefully, I succeed to entice others to eat organically. It really makes sense to me as my palate is so satisfied, am not munching at all, and I do not get hungry until after four hours.

Eggs-Centric Olive Bread

4 Hollowed out Slices of Olive Bread from La Maison du Pain
Olive Oil
4 Eggs
Parmesan Cheese Shavings
Pesto dill Spread
Parsley snips

Spray cookie tray with olive oil. Spread the slices of hollowed-out olive bread. Break open the eggs in the center of each slice of bread. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Spread pesto dill on the surfaces of the bread. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for 11 minutes. Keep an eye on the egg, sometimes it cooks for less, depending on the size of the egg and the temperature of the oven. Remove from the oven and serve on a platter. Top with shavings of parmesan cheese and decorate with parsley snips. Toast the hollowed out pieces and serve with slices of nectarines and the P-8 or P-10 juice. I provided the juice recipe in an earlier blog post. Okay, this is a hearty breakfast, it keeps you full for at least four hours. Happy walking!!

Inspired Week of Cooking - Day 3 - Beef Steak Filipino Style using Filet of Tenderloins

It was a surprise visit from my Tita Lydia, who arrived from the Philippines to bond with her grandchild that inspired me this day. She and I have not seen each other for years. So, a visit from her with my cousin, Olet and his son, Jio was most welcome. Why? She is a mighty good cook. And my favorite was her pancit. Before getting a haircut, free that is, she would feed us her newly cooked pancit. We were spoiled by her generosity. And the best part of getting a haircut from her, she also shared her wisdom generously, so instead of staying angry or having teenage issues, she taught us the duet of generosity and understanding.

It was ten am, and they just came from church. And we are now in Los Angeles, no longer in Manila where she fed us then her pancit. They have not yet eaten breakfast. So, I hurriedly thawed out some filet of tenderloins. It took ten minutes, soaked in water. So let me walk you through this recipe. And the best part is they stayed till dinner so we had a complete day of bonding that can last us for awhile until the next reunion.

Filet of tenderloins, Filipino Beefsteak Style

3 filets of tenderloins, seasoned with adobo seasoning, and calamansi juice ( this is Philippine lemon, which I picked from the tree growing in our backyard. )
1 onion, diced
1 garlic head, minced ( Filipinos eat a lot of garlic which is a good anti-oxidant. It just so happens that our recipes call for a lot of garlic )
Juice of six to eight kalamansi fruits
lemon zest ( zest entire lemon, that is the yellow peel of the lemon, not the bitter white pith )
Olive oil

Marinate the filets with diced onions, minced garlic, kalamansi juice and two tablespoons of low salt soy sauce for a few minutes, I did mine for fifteen minutes as folks were hungry, so I had to do this dish in less than thirty minutes, just like Rachel Ray.

Heat up the cast iron pan, with no oil yet. Turn on the stove at 375 F.

Heat the pan well on the stove, as it is important for searing the meat. After the pan is sufficiently heated, add olive oil. Add diced onions. Caramelize the onions, as if partially charred, the sweet flavor comes out. Add the minced garlic that was used for marinating. Then, sear both sides of filets, at least 3 minutes each side. Add the sauce used for marinating the filets. Add some lemon juice if needed, and season it to a balance of sweet, salty and pleasing to taste. Add a bit of water to make sure enough sauce is left for the second part of cooking, which is baking.

Put the cast iron pan inside the oven, to finish cooking the steaks. Keep an eye on the steaks, it just needs another five to seven more minutes to fully cook. Do not overcook especially for those folks who like their steaks medium rare. That is why it is important to touch the middle part of the steaks, if tender to touch, it is done! Remove from the pan, and serve with charred onions. There should still be enough sauce left to flavor the filets. Steaks should be tender to touch in the middle, and the sides are browned well. Serve with roasted potatoes and steamed rice.

Side dish of Roasted Potatoes

Quartered Potatoes
Minced Garlic
Olive Oil
Rosemary herbs, remove from stems and chopped...

Heat up cast iron pan, add olive oil and garlic. Once the whiff of garlic smell, add the quartered potatoes. Sear the potatoes. Add chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake at 375 F until done, about 25 minutes or more. Potatoes are cooked if you can pierce with a fork and it feels tender.

Much of my cooking is done by sensual observations, rarely by time, as potatoes and other ingredients are biological in nature, they have varying levels of moisture and therefore behave differently, but one thing I know for sure, smell of cooked ingredients is different from the smell of raw ingredients. Once your nose gets used to this kind of cooking, you seldom need to taste the sauce before serving. Your nose can be trained to have a whiff of a good balance of sour, sweet worthy of a balanced, platinum palate.

Inspired Week of Cooking - Day 2 - Christmas-Motif Pasta

Tonight, I decided to experiment with scallops. Why scallops? I had them in my freezer and since my friend, Gil is going fishing, he told me to make room for some tuna or red snapper on Monday, that is next week. He goes fishing in San Diego aboard a chartered fishing boat and mostly guys have this privilege. It is not exclusively guys, the tough women who know how to bait their fishing line and know how to reel in their fish are allowed to come, and of course the fee. It used to be a hundred dollars for a weekend of fishing, including meals on board, but since gasoline skyrocketed in price, it is close to four hundred dollars.

So, let us go through this recipe.

Scallops with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

1 bag of jumbo scallops ( Trader Joe's brand )
Balsamic Vinegar Blanc ( sweet type, with raisin juice, I bought this bottle in Provence, France )
head of garlic, minced ( reserve half for the spinach )
red pepper flakes, a pinch ( I like it with a bite or a sting, but not fiery that suffocates )
olive oil
cherry tomatoes ( 6 to 8 )
roasted tomatoes ( remove skin and diced them )
1 tablespoon butter ( yes, butter the real one to flavor the scallops before serving )

Heat up cast iron pan. Add olive oil, immediately add garlic and red pepper flakes. Olive oil darkens when heated up, so add the garlic to prevent this. When you get a whiff of garlic smell, add the diced tomatoes. Add scallops, and flavor with two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, blanc, pepper and a dash of salt. Go easy on the salt as scallops are fruits of the sea.

Cover the pan and add cherry tomatoes. The heat will burst the tomatoes. Scallops are done when it changes color from raw flesh to cooked flesh. You will see the change in colors, from opaque to solid white flesh. Do not overcook scallops, they become hard. Add 1 tablespoon of butter before serving. You can also turn off the flame after cooking the scallops and allow the residual heat for the last five minutes of cooking. This way, you do not overcook the scallops. Set aside.

Before serving, pop into the microwave with the bed of spinach and heat for less than a minute. There is nothing like a hot entree over newly steamed cup of brown rice.

Side entree of Spinach
1/2 head of minced garlic
olive oil
3 cups of spinach

Heat the pan. Add the olive oil. Then, add minced garlic. Add spinach. When semi-wilted, after sauteeing, serve on a dish. Use this bed of spinach to top with the scallops.

The verdict - my husband really loved it. In fact, I loved it too and the entire bag of jumbo scallops was mostly devoured, except for a few for tomorrow's lunch. Honestly, it was good! And the dessert, we split a red velvet cake from La Maison du Pain in 5373 West Pico Blvd. LA, 90019.

Inspired Week of Cooking - Day 1 - Chocolate Risotto

Red Borong Rice

Okay, it is almost the end of summer and somehow, I found my inspiration this week. As to how, I am not sure. Maybe it is the new purple, fragrant orchid flowers which got me going. Or maybe the violin music that I play each night before I sleep. Or it could Oprah's magazine by my nightstand. Or the Balikbayan Magazine published by Asian Journal with breathtaking photographs and literary stories written well. One of my favorites was a story about Nick Joaquin by Joel Pablo Salud.

Enough of the introduction. Here are my recipes that I remember. I cook by instincts, smells and what my heart dictates. So, I really do not follow recipes. But this is what I recall...

Chocolate Risotto aka Champorrado

3 cups organic red borong rice ( obtained from Angge's Organic Rice Farm in Zambales )
16 cups of water
1 can of lechera condensed milk ( I like this brand, as the other brands are too sweet for my taste, this is the less sweet variety )
1 chocolate disc ( tableya, is the local name )
1 cup of Ghiradelli chocolate powder
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon vanilla flavor
pinch of salt

Combine water, condensed milk, chocolate disc, cinnamon sticks, salt and red borong rice. Since this is organic rice, it is best cooked using masipag technology. Impatience is not welcome. So, patiently stir the granules of rice in the liquid mixture until it is almost cooked. You will notice the transition from raw to almost cooked, just by looking at the kernels. Then, before it is fully cooked, add chocolate powder and vanilla flavor. Keep stirring. When you notice that there are no more raw kernels, and rice is almost cooked, turn off the flame and cover the pot. Allow the residual steam and heat from the covered pot, without any flame to finish the cooking of the rice. Oops, I forgot to give you my secret. Email me and I will disclose it.

Oh, this recipe is so good. How good? Well, I shared a small pot with my friend who has a platinum palate and she gingerly apportioned it for breakfast each morning. She would add pure cream, heat it up in the microwave for about a minute, or even less, and then, she sits down at 4am enjoying her breakfast of chocolate risotto or champorrado. How to pronounce it? Chum...po ra...do....

This is also good with smoked fish, or bacon, depending on what part of the globe you are in. For me, I had it with my P-1o juice, made from zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, apple, orange, kalamansi, spinach, parsley, cucumber, celery. Sometimes it is called P-11 as we add grapes to it. The best part of drinking this juice is you need not worry about eating 9 servings of fruits and vegetables. By juicing, you get your entire nutritional need in one 8 to 10 ounce glass. It is best to juice this fresh every morning.

Now, the hard working folks might say, who has time to do all this? Well, I figure I have a choice. I can do this for my body every morning or I can stay in a hospital bed, taking pharmaceuticals. When that choice is presented to me, I find the time to treat my body right.

Okay let me know how the tsamporado recipe turned out for you. If you do not have red borong rice, you can use California sweet rice. This recipe can feed a whole neighborhood, almost ten people and there are some more left. Happy eating!