Tuesday, June 26, 2012

summer mix

"Shaved Ice for $1.00"  the sign said.

All of a sudden, I feel homesick, as I remember a Filipino summer favorite ice treat of mine, halo-halo.  In the midst of a sea of people watching a summer concert in the park, I feel alone.

"Orange, Strawberry, Pina Colada" are the suggested flavors.  I picked the pina colada.  While I mix the shaved ice, the familiar sound gave me a childish giggle.  But the shaved ice is unable to give me the same delightful experience.  I craved for the real thing... I craved for halo halo.

As I obsessively try to make my time with the snow cone more enjoyable, my mind races to list down the ingredients that I could gather from my pantry. The traditional halo halo back home consists of shaved ice with sweetened fruits, dried nuts and tapioca pearls.  What I was able to assemble from my pantry included: bananas, rice krispies to replace the pinipig (dried rice), green gelatine (agar-agar) and sweet rice (this is one of the ingredients popular in my home province).

I got some shaved ice, leche flan (custard ) and drizzled the crushed ice with condensed milk...

Ahhh...  I was ready to enjoy my home made halo-halo. 

Some would like to arrange the layers into different colors, making it a visual treat.  But most of us would not bother, as all the ingredients are mixed together anyways (halo-halo literally means mix-mix). The soft gelatin and the sweet rice plus the crispiness of rice krispies blended in my mouth like a beautiful orchestra... it was definitely delicious - just as my palette remembers my childhood favorite.

Well you can tell... the whole serving disappeared in no time...

With the heat rising to almost a 100 degrees, we needed another bowl of halo halo to enjoy...

Although I was not able to get more traditional ingredients, my version of halo-halo hit the spot.  The traditional recipe will include ube (purple yam), canned jack fruit, sweet beans and nata de coco (sweetened coconut).  Shaved ice is added to the top of the sweetened fruits, beans and dried rice.   Evaporated milk is then poured on the ice and a slice of flan or a scoop of ice cream is added on the pile of shaved ice.  This designates it as a "special" halo-halo, in contrast to the "regular" version, which we add sugar to the ice before we mix in fixed anticipation of savoring the different ingredients.

Despite being in the Midwest thousands of miles away from my hometown, a spoonful of this cold treat made me feel like I was at home... But then again, this is my new home, made more meaningful and special by my memories of the Philippines.  Looking back at the concert, I did have fun listening to the jazz band and enjoying the late summer day.  More thoughts flooded my head as the band played "Deacon Blues" by Steely Dan.  But alas, these stories deserve another post.  In the meantime, I rifle through the songs from my youth on Spotify and reminisce with a smile on my face.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pizza Friday | Asado Pork Pizza

I had announced earlier that my blogging may take a back seat over the next few weeks.  I don't have any excuses... as I'm enjoying the company of my kids who are in town for their summer break.  Oh well, but I guess I can't help it, as blogging can be addicting.  And here I am in front of my laptop again, trying to find/ squeeze in a little time to write... It's like having an affair, really, haha.

So shhh while my family is busy watching TV, I'm here writing a short post.  You see yesterday my friend dropped off some dough... No, not as in that kind of dough or cash, it was pizza dough.  And just like a Quickfire challenge from Top Chef, I had to use the dough as today's ingredient.  But then again if I was a Top Chef contestant, I would have lost because the dough was given yesterday, hahaha.  No time pressure for me please.

Well I've never made pizza and I thought with the ready made dough, I'm a step closer to making my first.  My inspiration was to take the flavors of an Asian favorite - pork bun or siopao, and add it to the pizza.  So here it goes, my take on the asado pork pizza.

Asado Pork Pizza
Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. 

For my asado recipe click here.
Slice the pork into thin slices.  Set aside.
Prepare other toppings:
Onions: slice and caramelize onions until they turn brown.
Peanuts:  Roast some peanuts and pound them into tiny bits
Chives: slice them into tiny bits

Shape dough into pizza.  Click here for a tutorial.
Spread asado sauce into the dough.  Layer with onions, pork slices (I also added sausages, you could add more meats if you desire) Sprinkle peanuts and chives.  Break an egg on top of the pizza.

Bake for 10 minutes and your pizza is ready!

Verdict: I've never seen my friend dance a happy dance after taking her first bite... yes it was delish!  Happy Friday!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

say cheese.... burger

What's with men and grilling?  Or men's craving for burgers?

My husband's request for Father's day is burgers.  So burgers it will be.  But when my husband heard the patty start to sizzle, he said: "call me when the patties are about to be cooked, I'll show you a technique that I watched in Guy Fieri's show"

My eyebrows raised.  I'm intrigued what technique he's going to show me.  So I got my camera ready and started to take pictures as he was about to do "his technique"

He first laid cheese on each patty...

 and added a little more just like so...

Then surprise surprise... he adds some ice chips into the pan...

and covers the pan instantly...

The steam causes the cheese to melt...

 ...and the result?  Hmmmm so good.  This is a very cheesy burger.  In fact if you add more cheese, it will create a skirt around the burger, which you can add to the bun.  To tell you honestly, I had to make another burger for my photo shoot (that's why you'll notice the difference in the color of the cheese... for my photo shoot I used white American cheese) because the burgers disappeared from the table quickly.

Then we layered the burger with tomatoes, romaine lettuce, caramelized onions, ketchup and jalapeno mustard.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have yet to finish the burger while it's hot... I hope you had a great Father's day too!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

weekday easy: seared tuna belly

The guitar has been unstrung, now quietly sitting in its case against the black book shelf. The ukulele sits by the end table and it has been at rest since January. The white linens are still crisp and sleekly folded, the closets are clean, shoes are on the shoe rack where they belong. But guess what??? In a few days, the bed will be left unmade,  there will be shoes in the hallway, the sound from the frets of guitar and the ukulele will echo throughout the house. Yes I am thrilled to no end... my kids are coming home!

Like any excited mom, I'm sure you know the drill:  Clear closet space... check. Plan the itinerary... check.  Do some grocery shopping plus menu planning and the list goes on and on. Having a long list of things to do, the plan to work on a post today has been moved to the back burner. And I'm sure you'll forgive me for doing this.

But fret not, because today, I'm bringing Lanie back. I am sharing one of her recipes that I still vividly recall. This dish was served along with a wide array of other entrees, but the tuna belly was the highlight of the table.  The moist, sweet and salty charred tuna belly melts in your mouth like no other...  It is easy to prepare too, so it's perfect for a weekday meal.

Seared Tuna Belly

2-3 lbs. Tuna belly (you could buy these at Asian specialty stores)

For marinade:
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 inch ginger root (pounded and sliced)

For the sauce:
4 tsp soy sauce
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup soup stock
2 tsp chinese mustard (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red onions, sliced
1 stalk green onions, sliced

Marinade Tuna Belly overnight or for at least 4 hours.  Drain the marinade.  Meanwhile lightly coat an iron cast skillet with cooking oil.  When hot, sear Tuna for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Set aside.

For the sauce

Saute garlic, onions and green onions together on a skillet.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Let it simmer.     Pour over the tuna belly slice.  This dish is best served while hot... enjoy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

weekend treat: avocado shake

What did you have for breakfast?  my friend asked me.
"Uhhhm... an avocado shake" I answered.
And her face did not hide the disgust when she heard AVOCADO SHAKE like I said something politically incorrect.

Truth to tell, I also reacted the same way the first time I heard about avocado used as a dip (guacomole) or avocado slices in sandwiches.  Talk about cultural differences!  But through the years, I learned to love avocado in new dishes, like in savory and spicy guacamole, just as much as I love avocado slobbered with cream and ice.  

My friend gave me a piece of avocado (thanks Kelly!) and I was torn whether I should make a shake or a guac.  But the result of my poll in my facebook page dictated I should make a shake... with temperatures rising to the 90's I grabbed some ice cubes, vanilla ice cream and a few minutes later,  I was sipping a delightful shake.  The smooth, thick and creamy texture transported me to avocado heaven. 

After a long week, you too deserve a sweet treat.  It's avocado season, so why not make yourself a creamy, velvety shake that will lift you up!   

Avocado Shake

1 piece avocado, pitted and sliced
9 pcs. ice cubes
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp condensed milk
1 scoop of vanilla ice cream

Put ice in a blender together with all the other ingredients except avocado slices.   Pulse or blend them together.  Add avocado slices then pulse again.  I  want  some avocado bits so I put it last.

I am submitting this to this month's Kulinarya. June theme is to bring to the table a recipe that is distinctively Pinoy.  Thank you Cherrie and Tina for hosting this month's theme.  Please come visit all the other KCC members who took part in this month's challenge.

Palitaw  from Day of Chef by Day 
Avocado Shake from Malou of Skip To Malou
Pinais na Isda from Iska of Iskandals.com
Tapsilog from Cherrie of Sweet Cherrie Pie
Kutsinta  from Tina of Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner 
Kare-kare from Adora of Adora's Box
Kulawong Talong from Elizabeth of Asian In America

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

celebrate | vegetable and tofu in chili ginger sauce

"This looks amazing" says my husband as he sees the plate of  arranged vegetables in a block of tofu.

"Do I hear sarcasm?" I retort back.

"No for real, it is a compliment" says he.

I look at him in disbelief.  Earlier while I was plating the veggies, I'd imagine him say something like: "have you gone nuts?" coupled with his usual rolling of the eyes.

"Someone is inspired" he says again.

Inspired? Well maybe yes and I giggle. I couldn't wait for us to sit down to tell him how I got an email from Yahoo! You see I am now a regular contributor for Yahoo! Voice.  This is an opportunity I welcome... and I celebrate as a food blogger.  I feel my heart is applauding the moment. (I'm sure my foodblogger friends know what I mean).

I take the celebration and inspiration to heart, and look how this simple side dish turn out to be the piece de resistance of our dinner.

"But wait a minute", he says.  "How come the tofu does not taste like anything?"

"Well the secret is in the sauce."  I reply.

"Hmm I love the crunch of the veggies and that sauce, wow you have your stamp on it.  But make sure to tell your readers that the secret is in the sauce ok?"

I smile back... so let me share with you Vegetables and Tofu with Chili Ginger Sauce and remember the "secret is in the sauce!"

Vegetable and Tofu in Chili Ginger Sauce

1 bag of mixed vegetables
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp of water or soup stock
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce (add more if you want it spicy)
1 clove garlic, minced
green onions, sliced

Pour a cup of water in a stock pot.  Add a teaspoon of baking powder.  Let it boil.  Drop the veggies and remove it 1-2 minutes after boiling.  Drain the excess water.

For the sauce:  Mix soy sauce, soup stock, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, chili garlic sauce, minced garlic and green onions in a bowl.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Adjust to taste.  Serve veggies with the sauce on the side.  But remember to tell your family and friends that the "secret is in the sauce" haha!  I like this dish spicy.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 4, 2012

a visit by fairy hobmother | lemon wasabi chicken


Half awake, I sip my warm cup of tea to wake myself up, when my attention is drawn towards my little nook as it is glistening. Next thing I see is pixie dust all over my laptop.

Hi Malou! I'm the Fairy Hobmother, spreading light and joy across the blogosphere with the help of talented bloggers like you, the note said.

I take a few more sips to wake me up further but the note continued: I tracked down your blog from a comment you left on another blog and was pleased to find your impressive selection of delicious recipes, some of which I would never have thought of in a million years. Your creamy potato salad with orange zest is genius!

I'm delighted to say that I think you deserve a little something from the Fairy Hobmother to brighten your day, so I'd like to send you a gift in the form of a $50 voucher for Amazon to do with as you please.

Before I could even open my mouth to say thank you, I  hear wings flapping, as he leaves a trail of twinkling pixie dust.

Now, if you believe in fairy tales, leave a comment and you might get a visit from him.  Did I say "him?"  Yes it's a "him" because apparently the Hobmother is a guy named  Matthew Mitchell .  You could find him on Twitter @Fairyhobmother or you could visit him too at Appliance Online and find out how he could help you with your kitchen appliances.  He offers a wide array of gas cookers that will be right for your personal specifications. He is not only your "appliance specialist" but he is definitely good in the business of spreading joy and light!  Thank you my Fairy Hobmother.

Now, if you want some magic in your kitchen, get ready for this easy chicken recipe that I'm going to share with you.  Get your "wands" ready as I share with you:

 Lemon Wasabi Chicken

4 pcs chicken breast skin on, cut into strips
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
onions, sliced
1/2 c almonds
1/2 c soup stock
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp white sugar (optional)
2 thinly sliced ginger
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon
3 beads of wasabi paste (you could add more if you want if you like the heat)
salt and pepper to taste


In a bowl, thoroughly mix chicken with soy sauce, sesame oil, and oyster sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, wasabi paste. Toss cornstarch to coat chicken. Set aside.

*Note: If you are not in a rush, you can refrigerate the chicken to allow the marinade to soak in.

In a skillet, heat cooking oil. Add chicken, do not stir immediately. Allow one side  to caramelize then flip it to caramelize the other side as well. Add the nuts, stir fry until cooked. Drizzle some sesame oil to enhance the flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

And voilĂ  like magic, dinner is ready... Yes, believe... Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

All Good Things St. Louis: The London Tea Room


This is how my husband describes classy people and places.  When I hear this word, I imagine guys in khakis and sweater, or women like Jackie O.  Sorry but I don't think of Victoria Beckham, maybe David, but not Posh Spice.  

I also relate posh with nice things British.  And there's nothing more British than afternoon tea.  So when I discovered the London Tea Room in downtown St. Louis, I immediately said this is quite posh.  Although afternoon tea in England is meant more to fill in the gap between meals, I had lunch at the Tea Room.  The London Tea Room is our next stop for my blog's feature on: All Good Things St. Louis.

The London Tea Room is located in the Washington Avenue Loft District in downtown St. Louis.  The high ceiling gives you a loft feel but the walls done in pastels and the traditional farmhouse tables and cupboards traded the industrial feel to a warm and friendly Tea Room. 

I ordered a turkey-bacon panini with a waldorf salad.  The salad was a surprise, it had a hint of curry, which I truly enjoyed.  I also tried their tomato bisque, which was refreshingly not as thick and creamy as others I've tried.    

Of course I savored on the English blend tea with clotted cream (or heavy cream).  You'll have to request for this specifically, and the server was surprised that I requested for it as they usually serve it with scones. 
 This is also the perfect place for afternoon tea, as they sell scrumptious pastries.  A slice of their decadent chocolate cake is to die for.  They also serve scones and tea cookies but  I need to try them on my next trip. Overall I was delighted as a first time customer that I found myself going back there on the same week.

The London Tea Room is now one of my go to places for a light lunch or afternoon tea.  Although we do not consider being an integral part of the British empire, afternoon tea is one English custom that we can still all enjoy.

Now who's up for the season finale of Game of Thrones?  haha! Have a great weekend!

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