Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chicago Weekend | Ensaladang Talong con Lechon Kawali ala Bonni (Eggplant Salad with Crispy Pork Belly)


Chicago has become one of our favorite cities.  

Luckily, it's a short drive from St. Louis so a weekend in Chicago is a welcome respite.  I thought of sharing some pictures I took during our last trip... so here it goes:


Oprah's Lake Point Tower, is an iconic building located by Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago. You can't miss it especially if you are at the Navy Pier (a popular tourist destination) It looks like a giant perfume bottle haha, but it has become our "inside joke" among friends that this is our next residence- NOT, lol!


Chicago skyline is a beautiful site to behold... don't you think?

It was a lovely day, so riding the Water Taxi was a lot of fun.



The center building is Trump Tower.  Remember Bill Rancic?  He is the first winner of The Apprectice and he managed the construction of the tower.


Luckily we had our friend Bonni with us who served as our tour guide.
"The middle structure is the Wrigley Building at Michigan Avenue.  The Wrigley building was modeled after the Giralda tower of  the Cathedral in Seville.  The Wrigley Building  once served as the headquarters of the Wrigley company" he says.





This is the Marina City Complex, says Bonni again.  The two cylindrical towers by Chicago River has a unique shape, the towers are locally known as the corn cobs."


We were there on a Sunday, so were pleased that The Union Station was not as crowded.

We know that Chicago has a dynamic food scene but for now, let me share with you one of  the dishes that our host prepared.


Yep, this is Eggplant Ensalada con Lechon Kawali (Eggplant Salad with Crispy Pork Belly), knocked my socks off.  The pungent taste of bagoong (shrimp paste) plus the soft and rustic flavors of the grilled eggplant and the decadent crispy pork belly got me.  With Bonni's permission I would like to share the recipe with you.

 Eggplant Ensalada con Lechon Kawali ala Bonni (Eggplant Salad with Crispy Pork Belly)

Ingredients:
Lechon Kawali (chopped into bite size)  Get Lechon Kawali recipe here.
2 medium eggplant (grilled and charred skin removed)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)



Procedure:
Put the grilled eggplant on the bottom of a serving dish.
Then layer it with the chopped crispy pork belly.
Meanwhile, saute the onions and tomatoes.  Quickly, add the shrimp paste.  Toss additional tomatoes (Bonni said, you want the tomatoes to be crisp and not mushy).
Pour the sauted tomatoes on top of the dish.  Toss them altogether.
Serve immediately while the pork belly is still crispy.  Enjoy!


And oh, lastly, this is  Cloud Gate also known as The Bean.   It is an amazing piece of art located at the Millenium Park.  Initially I thought it looked like a helmet (I actually called it The Helmet--haha).  



It's whimsical... magical...

Yes it's a silver bean sculpture which has become a popular tourist destination.  If you make it to Chicago, it's a fun (and free) thrill.  Enjoy!

And again, Bonni, thank you for the recipe.  You and Priscilla are awesome hosts... til next time!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Waffle Frolic | Lemon Infused Fried Chicken and Waffles

When we visited our son in Cornell, he never heard the end of it from my daughters - taunting him of how Cornell "is in the middle of nowhere."

But of course that's just part of the sisters-brother dynamics, right? For my daughters, who come from SoCal and NorCal, the Central NY terrain is very different. Listening to them tease each other made me chuckle as we drove past acres and acres of beautiful green fields and rustic farms.

Here's their conversation while we were driving on the side roads through the fields and farms - admiring all the bucolic charm of upstate New York:

"What are you taking a picture of?" my older daughter asked her sister.  "There's nothing there", she added.
"Exactly... Nothing! That's why I'm taking it", said my younger daughter.  They said this to give their brother a difficult time.

And of course, by the time we get to the campus and downtown Ithaca, they were charmed by the beauty of the town.

For breakfast, my son took us to a place called Waffle Frolic and we were smitten. The small  hole in the wall stood out from the rest and we knew that we had to go in. I ordered their chicken and waffles and loved it.   

So since July 6 is Fried Chicken Day, I thought I'd share with you my take on  Fried Chicken and Waffles.  I wanted to infuse, or layer, lemon in every aspect of the dish-- the batter, the breading and the chicken itself... so here's my Lemon Infused  Fried Chicken and Waffles.


Enjoy!

Lemon Infused Fried Chicken and Waffles

For the waffles:

Pre-heat the waffle maker.  The pilot light will turn green once it's ready.  Meanwhile whisk the following into a bowl:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 fresh egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon rind

Pour the batter into the waffle maker.  Again, the pilot light turns green once it's cooked. Set aside.


For the Fried Chicken:
I  tweaked my recipe for Fried Chicken Ala Jollibee.  I ditched the five spice altogether and replaced it with Italian seasoning... added lemon rind to brighten up the chicken goodness.

Ingredients:
8-10 pcs chicken thighs and legs
lemon
salt and pepper


For the breading:
1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 c flour
salt & pepper
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon rind

Procedure:
Marinate chicken with lemon and salt and pepper overnight or at least 30 minutes.

Fill a large skillet (cast iron is best) about  half full with vegetable oil. Heat until VERY hot... or better yet use a deep fry thermometer and fry chicken at 360 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, roll the chicken pieces on to the breading.
Shake off excess flour.
Drop  5-6  pieces into the hot oil.
Make sure there's enough space to stir the chicken.
Deep fry it until golden brown.
Drain the fried chicken.
It should be crispy golden brown like so


Lemon Glaze
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c lemon juice
3 tbsp of the chicken breadin
1 cup chicken broth
1-2 tbsp sugar

Melt butter, add garlic,  When garlic turns light brown, add flour.  Mix altogether then add chicken broth and lemon juice.  Season with salt.  then add sugar.  Adjust according to taste.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Come out and Play | Adobo Burger with Mango Ensalada

Fire up the grill, it's the 4th of July!

To celebrate Freedom Day, I am sharing with you my take on the quintessential burger.  Almost everyone will be having a burger this holiday, so I've added some twists to make this recipe stand out.

I want to break out from the shackles imposed by mainstream, snotty food experts who think mixing cultural influences into a traditional dish is taboo.  

Risotto with fish sauce, yikes, they say.

Ube flavored macaroons, Why? they ask.

My response:  Why not?

My point is, why not play around with the flavors you are familiar with-- and when you get the balance right -  it just works.  A case in point is the Korean-Mexican fare that the Kogi truck in LA has popularized.  Here in St Louis we have Seoul Taco, who have taken a page out of the Kogi truck experience - and they get the flavors right. The long lines forming at their food trucks prove that people like what they are creating.

So again, it's freedom and we are free to play around... And so this is how I play!





Adobo Burger with Mango Slaw

Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground beef
1/3 c soya sauce
1/3 c vinegar
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 large eggs
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste


Procedure:

In a bowl, put the ground beef.  Season with salt and pepper.   Mix all the remaining ingredients together.   Crack the egg.  Mix altogether, gently.  Do not 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 of  beef and gently form a patty. This recipe yielded 6 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 teaspoon of vinegar and soy sauce, sugar and pepper.

For the mango ensalada mix together, sliced mangoes, sliced cucumber and sliced tomatoes.(You may also add chopped cilantro)  Set aside.  Mix together 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1/3 cup vinegar, sliced onions, 1/2 tsp of chili garlic sauce, salt and pepper and sugar  to taste.

Come out and play... Enjoy!



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