Friday, August 30, 2013

On reaching a milestone and going on a trip back home | Chicken Satay Skewers

I move my body from side to side as I struggle in my seat and adjust my seat belt. I am on a trans-Pacific flight heading home to the Philippines. I am simultaneously uneasy and ecstatic.  I tilt my head to lean on the plane's window, unsuccessful in my attempts to manage the mixed emotions flowing through me.  I worry about my family back home, but I also feel pumped up by the good news that my recipes are featured in three - sorry, I still can't believe it! - in three publications. So, I try to focus on the positive and decide not to worry about anything. I am trusting that things will go well.

So, instead, I focus on the reasons why I celebrate: I am visiting my mother, brothers, family and friends.

In addition, I now know how it feels...

- to score a hat trick! In the month of August, three of my recipes are featured in three different magazines. 

- how Angelina Jolie must feel whenever she is featured on magazine covers! 

But all jokes aside, I am grateful to the staff and writers who I have worked with to make these features happen. From the magazine Missouri Life, to my good friends Betty Ann Quirino and Nina Puyat - I thank you for featuring my sliders and spaghetti (Missouri Life), Adobo Burger (ABS-CBN's Food Magazine) and Pancit Batil Patung (Appetite), respectively. I've enjoyed working with you all. I have reached a major milestone since the beginning of my food blog.

To celebrate, I am sharing with you my take on Chicken Satay.  This dish is full of flavors, and the kicker... it's in the peanut sauce.  Enjoy!

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce 
2 lbs boneless chicken sliced thinly.
1 tbsp red curry paste (coriander, cumin, turmeric, lemongrass, shallot, garlic, galangal, chili, lime)
1/2 c coconut milk
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium size galangal, grated (ginger could be used as a substitute)
3-4 tbsp fish sauce
3 Thai chili, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Bamboo skewers
Banana leaves/ Romaine Lettuce for serving

Make the satay marinade by mixing  coconut milk, garlic, curry paste, galangal,  fish sauce, thai chili.  Season with salt and pepper.

Marinate the chicken in the fridge preferably overnight or at least for an hour.
Skewer the chicken and grill until cooked and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Serve with peanut dipping sauce.  I am sharing 2 variations of the dipping sauce.

Peanut Sauce 1 - with red curry and coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili sauce (or to taste)

2 tablespoons peanuts roasted and chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a pan.  Let it simmer until it’s thick and creamy.  You could also use the marinade itself.  Just add sugar and peanut butter.  Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts.

Peanut Sauce 2
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili sauce (or to taste)
2 teaspoons garlic, grated (optional)
2 teaspoons ginger, grated (optional)
2 tablespoons peanuts roasted and chopped

Mix everything in a sauce pan over medium heat to round out the flavors.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Garden Herbs Project | Chocolate Sticky Rice

Seldom am I compelled to write a post like this. 

A few weeks ago, I received a message from my kababayan Manny Barrias.  I've known Manny since we were kids as we both grew up in Tuguegarao.  Manny is a practicing physician here in the United States and he has started The Garden Herbs Project. The project aims to support poor children during the important stage of development of a child's brain, the first 3-5 years. I'd like to share his message - so that it may touch your hearts as it did mine:  

I am running a new project in Cagayan. It is a preschool wellness project, based mainly within barangay (village) daycare centers. The project aims to monitor for developmental delays among children ages 3,4, and 5 enrolled at the centers. It includes a feeding program, sports program, etc. and also includes an annual well child exam by physicians to screen for illnesses. It is called the Garden Herbs Project.

Right now I am raising funds by selling rice products from the Cordilleras imported into the US. These rice varieties are grown in the Banaue rice terraces. www.heirloomrice.comThe project earns from the sale of these rice products.

The project is straightforward:  buy 1 pack of rice and you get to feed five children a day.  Please visit the Garden  Herb Project website here.

With just a few clicks, my order was completed. There is a special feeling once the box came in the mail. First, the different rice varieties are heirloom rice from the famed Banaue Rice Terraces; second, I know deep down my small gesture could bring smiles and joy to 5 children.

As I swirled my hand around the rice while washing it, I felt a connection with the farmers and to the children. I want to get involved in this project. That said, I will be developing a series of recipes using the different varieties of heirloom rice. So for today's recipe I used the Ifugao Diket (medium grain sticky rice) variety.  Please click here to read its description.

Chocolate Sticky Rice

1/2 can coconut milk 
2.5 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk
3/4 c brown sugar (you could add more if you want it sweeter)


Wash the rice 2X-3X with water.  Remove small pebbles if present.  Cook the sweet rice by filling up a stockpot with the rice, 1/2 a can of coconut milk and 2.5 cusps of water. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Set aside.

While the rice is cooking, let's make the coconut crumbs or latik. Latik is the residue formed by the reduction of coconut milk. Just pour the whole can of coconut milk in a thick saucepan.  Bring it to boil (on medium heat) and continue to stir until most of the liquid has evaporated. The milk will begin to change its color to slight brown and begin to solidify. At this point add the brown sugar. Continue to stir until the sugar caramelizes. Once it has caramelized, stir in the cooked sweet rice (mix well). Let it cool. Refrigerate for an hour.  Form into 1 inch balls.

For the ganache
8 ounces of chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 stick of butter

Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl on a baine marie (hot water bath). Stir continously.  Add butter and stir again. Remove from heat. Adjust according to your preferred thickness. Using two spoons, roll the balls into the ganache.  It will be a sticky situation (pun intended) - gooey and decadent... Enjoy!

Notes:  Make sure that the rice balls are firm. They will not roll well into the ganache if it's soft.
In making the ganache, you could also use the microwave. Microwave the chocolate chips for 20 seconds. Stir then put it back to the microwave again for 20 minutes. Stir in the butter. Voila, you have a wonderful ganache.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Missouri Life Magazine Feature | Sesame Beef Sliders

Okay... it's been a month since my last post.  And a few of you have asked me what's up, why the delay in posting my next piece?

It's just that there are too many new developments coming in... some good ones, and some unfortunate ones.  But isn't that what life is about?  The good time mixed in with the bad?  As Ellen Degeneres said: “My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.” LOL! And  I would add the yin and yang - how contrary forces are related and interconnected.

But fine, let's tackle the things that are good - as I am so grateful with all the wonderful opportunities coming my way... Well in the current August issue of  Missouri Life Magazine, I am featured in their Back to School Beef article.  The Missouri Beef Council co-sponsored the article about moms preparing meals for back to school time.

Here an excerpt of what Tina, assistant editor wrote:
When Malou Perez-Nievera's three children would open the front door on weekday afternoons, savory smells would wash over them like an ocean wave.  "Preparing good food is always at the center of a close-knit family, at the dining table where the food is shared and stories are heard" Malou says.  She shares recipes and reflections on her family-centered blog Skip to malou and teaches the Modern Asian Cooking Series in the St. Louis area.

"I would think that in the age of frozen dinners and takeout, it's still important to have some kind of sense of cooking good food--- food that comes from the heart" she says.  Malou's meals are robutst and creative: grilled lemongrass beef, oxtail and tripe stew in peanut sauce, and corned beef sinigang (sour soup). New twists on solid staples spell adventure for her family, and she hopes to ignite that fire in others"

I'd like to thank the staff of Missouri Life Magazine for the write up and for the whole enjoyable experience:  special mention to Tina Casagrand, assistant editor, your article is well written... and Bob Holt for the stunning pictures.  Also Jonas Weir and Danita Allen Wood, the editor in chief and co-owner of the magazine.

Here's the recipe I shared for the back to school issue:

Sesame Beef Sliders

2 lbs. ground beef
1 tbsp liquid seasoning
3 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 stalk green onions (chopped)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsps sesame seeds
1-2  tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, put the ground beef.  Season with salt and pepper.   Mix all the remaining ingredients together.   Since this is for back to school fare, some kids don't like garlic or onions, you could use the powder garlic and powder onions instead.  Gently mix the beef together and remember not to over mix the beef.

To make sure that the beef mixture is well seasoned, pan fry a teaspoon full of the beef mixtures and taste.  Adjust the seasonings if needed.

Now we’re ready to form our patties. Grab a chunk (like a the size of a golf ball) of  beef and gently form a patty. This recipe yielded 12 patties.  Pre-heat a cast iron pan on high heat. Add patties and cook it for about 2- 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top. Let it rest.

Grill the buns on the same cast iron pan.  Then play around with your flavors. For the dressing, I mixed mayo with chopped garlic, a little soy sauce and a little sugar.  If Rachel Ray has her EVOO, I have my SO (sesame oil) so go ahead, sprinkle some sesame oil on your mayo mixture.

Let's build your sliders. First, slice the bun in half, grill both sides (facing down)  Spread the mayo on the toasted bun add the grilled burger. Add a tomato slice, cucumber slice and spinach.  and add the top bun. Finish off with a slice of strawberry on top.  The kids will love the heart shaped topped sliders... ENJOY!

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