Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Waldorf Salad

The only good recipe that came out of the new ones I made this Christmas is this tweaked version of Waldorf Salad from the Epicurious website. The key here is to let the salad sit in the fridge overnight so that the flavours meld well.

This salad is a great refreshing contrast to lots of rich and fatty food that is often served during the holiday seasons. I highly recommend this one folks especially with the Sweet Spicy Pecans that adds a bit of crunch and strong flavour.

Waldorf Salad

1 1/3 cups very thinly sliced celery
1 1/3 cups red seedless grapes - cut in half
4 Golden Delicious apples - cored (not peeled) and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cups dried cranberries
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp sour cream or plain full-fat yoghurt
1 tsp sugar
  1. Put dried cranberries in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water on top. Let soak until soft - about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a big bowl. Stir until well combined.
  3. Add all the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  4. Chill in the fridge overnight.
  5. Serve on a bed of lettuce and with a sprinkling of Sweet Spicy Pecans on top.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Adobong Mani

This is best paired with a tall glass of Coke with lots of ice. Yum! One of the favourite snacks of Pinoys is this deep-fried peanut aka adobong mani. Why it's called adobo, with nary a sight of vinegar nor soy sauce, I do not know. I just go with the flow or rather the flavour and do not attempt to explain things away.

I used to watch my more enterprising younger sister make this when she was still in elementary school. She then proceeds to package it into small plastic bags and sell it via a corner store. Me and the rest of our siblings? We gamely volunteered to pack it for her with the eye of course of sneaking every other spoonful in our mouths. You can probably guess that my sister's business didn't exactly flourish. Hahaha.

The thing with deep frying the peanuts is once it reaches the cooked stage it can very quickly burn in a matter of seconds. So it is imperative to immediately remove all of the peanuts from the deep fryer once you think it's cooked otherwise you will have a mix of crunchy well cooked ones and some burned ones. Not nice at all.

My sister did not have any deep fryer thermometer nor use a timer when she was cooking this. All she had for indicator was the garlic - if it turned to golden crispy and the peanuts are of the right colour then it is done. You can use that as a guide although timing it and pre-heating the cooking oil to the right temperature would help a lot from guesswork.

Adobong Mani
Deep Fried Red-Skinned Peanuts

dried red-skinned peanuts
garlic cloves - smashed skin-on
cooking oil
fine salt
  1. Pour some cooking oil into a saucepan to reach at least 1/2-inch up the side. Heat until it reaches 180°C/350°F in temperature (or if a grain of rice dropped in it pops right back up and starts cooking; or if you stick the end of a wooden spoon or chopstick in it and it starts to bubble up around the wood then it is ready).
  2. Deep fry the garlic and peanuts in batches making sure that the peanuts are submerged in oil. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes for peanuts with small kernels and 4 - 5 minutes for big kernels. Alternatively, fry until the whole garlic (not just the edges) turns golden brown and crispy.
  3. Set a metal sieve or strainer on a deep bowl big enough to fit all the oil in your saucepan. Once the peanuts are cooked, carefully pour the whole lot in the strainer making sure that the bowl will catch the hot oil. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Add fine salt to taste.
  4. Pour back the oil in the saucepan, re-heat to 180°C, and repeat for the next batch.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Baked Pork Chop Rice

This is my homage to Hong Kong-style fastfood restaurants that ushered me gently into the wonderful world of Hong Kong food. At the start my stint in the former British colony in the early 1990s, I was quite intimidated of walking into any restaurant for fear of being reprimanded or ignored due to my lack of Cantonese language skills. So the fast food restaurants of Maxim's and Cafe de Coral were heaven sent for me. If the staff does not speak English I simply point to the brightly coloured pictures of mouth-watering food on the wall and I get served pronto!

Thank god the fast food there were so much healthier than the usual Western ones. The mains were almost always a rice-based meal or noodles with meat. Although there are some pretty weird ones like Hot Lemon Coke. Once I plucked the courage to order it to satisfy my growing curiosity. How did they do it? They filled up a tall glass with Coke, stuck in a microwave and nuked it then, just before handing it to me, dropped a slice of lemon in it. Et voila - hot lemon coke! I was laughing pretty much of the time I walked to my table. The concoction had a strange chemical potion taste to it. Similar to a medicine you're forced to swallow when you were little except it's hot. It was okay though I'm not hurrying to order another one any time soon. LOL.

Baked Pork Chop Rice is one of my favourites among Cafe de Coral's menu. It is simply fried pork chops (marinated and floured), put on a bed of egg fried rice, topped with a tomato-based sauce and grated cheese then baked. Just remembering the smell when it comes out of the oven onto my plastic tray and the wonderful taste of the succulent chops starts me drooling.

My well-thumbed Chopsticks Recipes Introduction cookbook by Cecilia J. Au Yeung is where I got the recipe that I adapted.

Baked Pork Chop Rice

500 g  pork chops or pork rib steaks or pork shoulder steaks
grated cheddar cheese

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp celery salt (optional)
1 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp cooking oil

1 medium onion - chopped
2 medium tomatoes - chopped
1/2 cup of chopped vegetables - carrots, peas, sweetcorn, celery, etc.
1 Tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
1 cup stock
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp cornflour
3 Tbsp water
1 cooking oil

*Egg Fried Rice:
4-5 cups cooked rice (preferably chilled)
2 beaten eggs
3 Tbsp cooking oil
salt to taste
  1. Pound the meat with a meat mallet or the back of a cleaver knife to tenderise.
  2. Combine all ingredients for the marinade and mix with the meat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the oil and marinate for another 10 minutes.
  4. While it is marinating, make your egg fried rice. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat.
  5. Add the cooked rice plus salt according to taste. If you're using chilled cooked rice, crumble the rice first before adding to the wok to separate the grains.
  6. Stir fry for a few minutes.
  7. When it is almost done, push the rice to the sides of the wok and drizzle a little oil in the middle. Pour in the beaten eggs and cook in the middle for a few seconds until almost completely set. Then combine it with the rest of the rice breaking it up as you stir it in.
  8. Remove from heat and set aside.
  9. For the sauce, heat the cooking oil over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  10. Saute the onion in medium heat until translucent.
  11. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft. Mash the tomatoes with a spatula.
  12. Tip in the soy sauce, sugar, tomato paste, pepper, stock, and vegetables.
  13. Bring to boil and then simmer until the vegetables are cooked (about 5 minutes).
  14. Dissolve the cornflour in the water and then add to the sauce.
  15. Bring to boil on medium heat and stir until thickened.
  16. Remove from heat and set aside.
  17. Dredge the marinated pork chops in flour.
  18. Deep fry or pan fry until golden brown - about 3-4 minutes each side.

*To assemble:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/430°F.
  2. Divide the egg fried rice into oven-proof bowls.
  3. Top each one with one fried pork chop.
  4. Spoon sauce on top.
  5. Sprinkle grated cheese.
  6. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes.
  7. Serve while hot.

Friday, 18 March 2011

German Apple Pancake

Lesson for this recipe: use a non-stick pan! As you can see from the pictures the brutality of the removal from the pan I used is quite evident. :) I swear I'll post a better illustration later.

Despite the messed up appearance of the final product the flavour was sublime. Yum! Most especially since it is not particularly sweet. If you need further sugar boost, copious amount of maple or golden syrup over it will do the job.

This is adapted from excellent The New Best Recipe cookbook which is currently providing me with a lot of culinary ideas.

German Apple Pancake

3/4 cup whole milk (or half single cream and half whole milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs - lightly beaten
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 medium Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp icing sugar (confectioner's)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 260°C/fan 240°C/500°F.
  2. Peel and core the apples and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Mix the milk, eggs, vanilla, salt and granulated sugar until well combined. Set aside.
  4. In a 10-inch non-stick oven-proof pan, melt the butter.
  5. Add the apples and sprinkle the brown sugar over.
  6. Cook over medium-high heat while stirring occasionally until the apples turn golden (about 10 minutes).
  7. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour the batter around the edge of the pan then over the apples.
  8. Place the pan in the oven and reduce the temperature to 220°C/fan 200°C/425°F.
  9. Bake until puffed and browned - about 16 minutes.
  10. Loosen the edge of the pancake with a heatproof spatula. Invert the pancake on a serving plate and dust top with icing sugar. Serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


I'm so happy, I'm so giddy, I'm so happy and giddy and gay! (to the tune of I Feel Pretty). Why do I feel this way? I found these chocolate covered marzipan in my local Lidl shop. You know how I loooooove these ground almond concoction. And now knowing that I can have my twice-a-year marzipan fix made me so so much happier. See, Lidl only sells these during Christmas and Easter time. I know the latter is still a good 2 months away but the shops are already awash with Easter eggs. I wouldn't complain with the crass materialism of a supposedly religious event as long as I can have my yummylicious chocolate marzipan. LOL.

Well, actually I can have them any time of the year by buying from premium brands. But there's no way my conscience can get over the guilt of spending so much. So these very good value for money Lidl ones are what I eagerly await twice a year! Not having them often makes them even more a reason to celebrate during these times.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Beef Rendang

This is one of my all-time favourite winter comfort food. It's rich, spicy, flavourful, and very Southeast Asian. Like our adobo, there are a lot of variations on it as there are households. But from what I can gather, the essential ingredients besides the meat are the spices (onion, curry leaves, curry powder, turmeric, and chili pepper) and the coconut milk. All the other ingredients are fair game to the diversity of adaptations. And when I say lots of variations that means you will see more versions of this particular dish that I will experiment on and will invariably be seen in this food blog sometime later. In the next decade perhaps? ;)

I love the resulting sauce in it (eaten with lots of hot steamed rice) after a long stew. According to my Malaysian friend, people in the northern parts of Malaysia and Indonesia cook it until the sauce dries out and the meat is fried in the rendered oil from the sauce. This they say is primarily done to preserve the meat and not spoil easily. Believe me, I tried this once and it was superb! It's wonderfully good with some white fluffy bread with some lettuce and cucumber stuck in.

This recipe is adapted from an old Asian cookbook in the Bromley Library which I forgot to write down the name. In fact, the title of the recipe in the book was 'Dry-Fried Beef Curry'. The instruction was to cook until dry but I love the sauce very much that I put in the option of not doing this if preferred.

Tamarind liquid is used here. You can make this two ways: first by diluting tamarind paste with water; secondly by soaking about 1 Tablespoon (add more or less depending on the sourness you want) of tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup of hot water for about 15 minutes then strain the liquid through a sieve and discarding the pulp. The tamarind pulp I get here in the UK are all in rectangular block shape. While in the Philippines (well at least in our barrio), it is formed into balls and are called tipe (ti-pe). My lola (grandma) used to always ask me to buy some from the corner sari-sari store whenever we have pinangat na isda (stewed fresh fish) for our meal. We make tamarind liquid with it which is then mixed with either our home-made patis (fish sauce) or heko - the scum skimmed from the boiling talyase (big wok) of liquid during patis-making. Yumm-mmy !

Beef Rendang

1 kg  stewing beef - cut into serving sizes
2 medium onion - chopped
6 fat cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
2-3 fresh red chillies - stalk and seeds removed
2 tsp sea salt
2 cups [400 g] coconut cream or thick coconut milk
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp chili powder (optional)
2 tsp ground coriander
6 curry leaves
1 stem fresh lemon grass
1 tsp galangal or ginger powder
1/2 cup tamarind liquid
2 tsp sugar
  1. Place garlic, onion, ginger, fresh chillies, and 1/2 cup of the coconut cream in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Put in a wide mouthed casserole. Wash out the blender with the remaining coconut cream and add to the casserole.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except tamarind liquid and sugar.
  4. Bring to boil then add the tamarind liquid. Lower heat to low and simmer until meat is tender (about 1.5 hours) while stirring from time to time.
  5. By this time, the sauce would be reduced and thick. Add the sugar, stir and cook for about 2 minutes more.
  6. Dish up and serve with hot steamed rice.

*Note: If you decide to do the dry-fry version:
  • Cook this uncovered. When the sauce gets too dry add a little water just prevent it burning before the meat is tender.
  • Continue simmering until almost dry. Stir often.
  • When oil separates from the gravy, stir in the sugar. Allow the meat to fry in the oily gravy until dark brown while stirring constantly.