Saturday, March 30, 2013

Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Around this time last year, I had the privilege of observing Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Tuguegarao (my hometown). After more than fifteen years, it was wonderful to be part of the festivities again. Through my pictures, I hope to share with you my experience.


This is Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. On a personal note, this Cathedral is where most of my family's sacraments took place:  my parents' wedding, my siblings' and my baptism.  And when I was young, this is where we would attend mass each week.  What's most exciting for me is that the current Parish Priest is my brother, Fr. Gerry :)


The cathedral was built in the 1700's and is considered one of the biggest in the region. During Sundays and holidays, the cathedral is fully packed with devout Catholics.

Just like any other Catholic church, Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral's Holy Week schedule is full.  One of  the highlights is Good Friday's "Way of the Cross" procession.  Here are some images.










Each image is assigned to a family or clan.  For almost 50 years now, our clan has been in charge of the statue of Sta. Veronica.   With the permission of my cousin Nanny P. - I am sharing pictures from his Facebook wall.

Shown above is my brother Francis, who owns a local flower shop in Tugue called Blooms Central, and is in charge of the flower arrangement.
And my cousin Nanny writes:
This is an annual Holy Week activity that my whole family and relatives look forward to since our childhood. It has been an obligation handed down to me by my maternal uncle about 28 years ago. The holy week of the family is incomplete without honoring SANTA VERONICA during Holy Thursday and Holy Friday processions. 


And when the procession ends, all the flowers are gone.  The town folks scramble to get flowers throughout the procession, as their panata or belief is that the flowers will bring them luck.

What ever you believe in, I hope the true meaning of Holy Week - which is of love and hope - reaches your heart!. And may the real gift of the risen Lord be yours to keep...Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Seafood Weekend | Crawfish ala Hot and Juicy

I love it when my husband cooks with me in the kitchen.

Well OK, maybe sometimes!  There are times when we disagree, and oh you don't want to hear that part of the story. : )  But I can say that for the recipe I'm about to share, it states that "I'm lucky I fell in love with my best friend". Yep, this is definitely one of the best collaborative cooking experiments that we've done.  

For today's recipe, my husband and I prepared a Hot-N-Juicy (H-n-J)-inspired crawfish and shrimp with Louisiana-Style seasoning. We went to the market earlier today and they had live crawfish. So crawfish it is... and we want it spicy... Oooh Baby!



Hot N Juicy is similar to The Boiling Crab in Southern California - which is well known for the long lines and wait - but it is soooo worth it.  So H-n-J is a crawfish joint that started in Las Vegas and has several locations in the East coast and So Cal. We've visited the Orlando location - thanks Dick and Marvie for the invite. Expect it to be hot and messy when you dine here, as the seafood can be really spicy and it is served in a plastic bag with all the juices and seasoning.   



So taking the cue from Hot N Juicy, we cooked the crawfish with shrimp, potatoes, corn and sausage - all sprinkled liberally with spicy seafood seasoning - or simply known as the crawfish Louisiana Boil recipe.  To put a Filipino take on this dish, we added sweet longganisa instead of andouille sausage.  And guess whose suggestion that was?  Yep I have to give it to my husband.  And the result is outstanding! Uhm let's say we were in a food coma after, haha!



Crawfish Ala Hot and Juicy
You could use Louisiana (brand) boil powder - but there is a hint of anise - which may not be to everyone's liking. So we concocted our own seasoning - Louisiana-Style.

Ingredients:
1.5 lb. crawfish
1 lb shrimp
1 pack of sweet longganisa (around 12 bite size pcs,)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 pieces whole corn (sliced in half)

Spices for boiling:
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp chili oil
1 tbsp seafood salt
1 tbsp seafood seasoning
4-6  cups of water (enough to cover the crawfish)
1-2 tbsp of Louisiana hot sauce (adjust to heat preference)

Ingredients for the sauce:
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chili oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp seafood salt
1 tsp seafood seasonin
2 pc bay leaf
2 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce

Procedure: 
Wash and clean the crawfish several times with tap water.  Click here to see how.

In a pot, boil water.  Add salt, chili oil, seafood salt, seafood seasoning and Louisiana hot sauce.  Let the water boil for 10 minutes.  Then add the crawfish.  Let it boil for 6-8 minutes.  Turn off the stove and soak the crawfish for an additional 20 minutes, uncovered.  Drain and set aside.

In another pot, boil for 10-12 minutes the potatoes, corn and longganisa, with the same ingredients used in boiling the crawfish.  Drain and sear the longganisa and potatoes on a separate pan.

In a bowl mix the lemon pepper, red pepper flakes, Louisiana hot sauce, seafood salt, seafood seasoning, and chili oil - set aside. In a big wok, saute garlic with butter. Add bay leaf then add shrimp.  Cook for about 4 minutes or until shrimp color changes to orange.  Add crawfish and the spices you mixed earlier. Stir and cook for another 4 minutes.  Add the seared longganisa, potatoes and corn. You may add the broth used to boil the corn and longganisa.  

It may seem complicated, but trust me, it's worth all the trouble!  ENJOY!



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Breathe | Squid Adobo Balsamico Pasta

Mum - breathe... take a break!

This was my daughter's message as I was telling her how intense this Coco Cooking Contest has become.  Call it madness but I have been totally obsessed with trying to win this cooking challenge via online voting.





But through it all, I am most grateful to all of you - and I am glad that I have so many supportive friends. Thank you to my new friends I met through the promotion of my recipe for this contest. Thank you for voting for me from all over the world - my friends from the Southern Philippines, in Manila, and of course those in my hometown of Tuguegarao.  Thanks to all those who voted in the US, special shout-out to friends and family in Las Vegas, San Diego, LA, SFO, Oregon, Nebraska, Alaska, Georgia, Florida, New York and New Jersey - some of these places I am more familiar to than others - but you were one in supporting me.   I may finish second in the competition but your support made me realize that I have already won.

My daughter is right. I should take a break... and when I take a break, you will find me in my kitchen, trying to express myself  through my recipes...

So to my friends, here's a recipe called Squid Adobo Balsamico Pasta.  Thank you for your votes.  And in case you have not voted (opps I can't help it.) I would like you to take a few seconds to give me your vote.


SQUID ADOBO BALSAMICO PASTA
I was staring at the thawed baby squid when my phone notification beeped.  It was a message from my friend Orly.  He was busy giving me his statistical analysis of the voting results when I asked him a random question: What is your favorite Filipino food? His reply was: Adobo, because of the myriad variety to cook it.On  that note, I took the humble traditional squid adobo and amped it up like what I love to do. Thanks Orly for the inspiration and for all that  you do.



Ingredients:
2 lbs baby squid (clean with salt and rinse well)
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp crema de balsmico
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red onions, chopped
2 tbsp capers
fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
cooked pasta

Procedure:

First clean the squid and follow instructions here Make sure to reserve the ink sac.

In a pan, saute garlic and onions.  Cook until onions are wilted.  Add squid and its ink. Cook until squid renders its own liiquid.  Add wrocestershire sauce, crema de balsamico and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook for just a few minutes as overcooking the squid will make it rubbery. Sprinkle thyme, give it a quick stir.  Add in the capers. The dish should be saucy and creamy.  Pour over a platter of cooked pasta.

Garnish:
Drizzle with toasted garlic and olive oil.
Sprinkle grated ginger. (freeze a thumb size ginger and grate it over the plate of pasta)
Add more capers (optional but i do love capers so I usually add more)
Add cherry tomatoes.
I also added fried calamare to add more texture

Enjoy!

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