Sunday, May 25, 2008

Grilled Spiced Shrimp With Mangoes

Today's dish can't get any simpler. I wanted to have a dinner that is both light and flavorful. Since I got shrimps , then shrimp it is. Grilled shrimp. We have not had this in quite a while.

Now, I still need to think of something to go with the shrimp. I wanted the skewer to not only look
pretty but to be tasty as well. My initial plan was to grill some onions and bell peppers with the shrimp, but I changed my mind. I wanted something else, something different.

As I was contemplating on this, the mangoes on my kitchen counter caught my attention. Hmmnnn.... I have a couple that need saving, as I never want to throw anything away. I'd have to use my mangoes then. My initial thought would be to make a mango salsa, but I thought of something else. How about grilling the mangoes with the shrimp? Well, there's only one way to find out... And that's how this dinner came about.

grilled shrimp with mangoes served on a bed of shredded lettuce & carrots

It is such a simple recipe. I rubbed the shrimp real good with the spices and let it rest for a while, allowing a little time for the shrimp to soak in those spice-goodness. But my anxiety lies in the combination of the shrimp and mangoes. How would they come out, I wonder? I've never had grilled mangoes before, so there was an element of suspense in this dinner. (Watch the skewers closely as shrimp cooks in no time.) We shall see (or taste, in this case) the result.

And.. drumroll... well, the mangoes tasted real sweet and smokey. It balanced the spicy shrimp very well. I like it. But best of all, I got a thumbs up from the hubby. It's another successful experiment.

Spiced Shrimp With Mangoes

1-1/2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deviened
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
2 pc ripe mangoes
10-12 skewers, soaked in water for 2 hrs.
Lime wedges
Chives, for garnish

1. In a bowl mix sugar and the next 5 ingredients (thru oregano).
2. Add shrimp to bowl and make sure that all shrimp are coated with the rub mix. Set aside.
3. In the meantime, peel mangoes. Cut the flesh into 2-inch pcs.
4. Thread shrimp and mango alternately into skewers, 2 pcs of shrimp and mangoes.
5. Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Place skewers on grill rack and cok for 2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp is no longer gray.
6. If preferred,drizzle a bit of lime over the shrimp. Serve immediately garnished with chives.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pinoy Bistek (Filipino-Style Beefsteak)

Filipinos in general, like the rest of the Asian countries, are not heavy meat eaters. Most of our dishes are prepared with lots of vegetables or noodles in them. Or, when we eat meat, we eat a matchbox-sized piece with lots of rice. (Yes, we love rice. We eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and yet, most Filipinos are petite. So rice really cannot make one fat!)

I can only attribute the way we eat to the Philippines being a third world country, that is, poor. Majority of the people cannot afford to have meat dishes on a daily basis. For a famiy of seven (the average size of a Filipino family), the meals can become real costly. Thus rice, vegetables and noodles are thrown in to extend the dishes and make a big meal out of a little piece of meat.

As for my family, this dish was one of our Sunday lunch tradition. This happens to be one of my Dad's favorite, so my Mom prepares this for him. This is called "bistek", or the Filipino-style beef steak. It is not like the steak that you would think it to be here in the U.S. They're smaller pieces of beef sliced thinly and marinated in "kalamansi" (key lime), soysauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Some say, "bistek or bistec" refers to the Hispanic style of cooking a dish with a sauce. This is most probably true, considering that our culture is heavily Hispanic-influenced.

I remember hating this dish when I was younger because I didn't like the pieces of the meat that get stuck in between my teeth. I would be crying by the end of our dinner. But thankfully, this is not the case anymore. In fact, this has become one of my favorite Filipino comfort food.

Now that my Mom has passed on to be with the Lord, this dish brings back loving memories of her and my family as I was growing up.


Pinoy Bistek
1 lb. beef (round, sirloin or tenderloin), sliced 1/4-inch thick
6 tbsp. of kalamansi (key lime) juice
1/2 c. dark soy sauce
3 tsp. garlic, minced
black pepper, freshly ground
2 large onions, sliced into rings (I used red onions)
2 tbsp vegetable cooking oil, or more if needed
flour, for dredging

1. Slice the beef. Take a piece of plastic wrap and cover the meat. Pound the meat mallet or a heavy skillet. Do this carefully so as not to tear the meat. (This is to ensure that the meat would be tender, but you can skip this step).

2. In a bowl, mix the next 4 ingredients (from the kalamansi juice thru pepper). Mix well and let the meat marinate in it for at least 30 minutes. (My opinion, the longer the marinating time, the better the meat tastes)

3. When ready, bring a heavy skillet up to temperature. Add the vegetable oil. Fry the onions lightly, just until tender. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

4. Take the meat out but reserve the marinade. Dredge the meat lightly with flour, carefully shaking off the excess.

5. Add oil to skillet and heat until smoking. Pan-fry the meat until brown (in batches if you have to). When the beef is done, add the marinade into to the skillet and let it boil for a minute or two. Then add the beef back into the skillet. Mix until all pieces are coated well with the sauce. Add the fried onions. Simmer for another minute or two.

6. Serve immediately with white rice. Enjoy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Taste & Create X: Ham Croquettes (Croquettas De Jamon)

First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the efforts of Nicole King, the author/organizer, Taste and Create, an event where two foodie bloggers are partnered and then they get to do whatever recipe they like from each other's archives. I can just imagine the many hours she dedicates inorder to make sure that this event happens every month. Kudos to you Nicole - for your creativity and for your patience!

With that said, I am both thrilled and a bit apprehensive when Nicole advised that I will be her partner for this months' Taste & Create. Here I am, a novice at both cooking and blogging, paired up with an obviously seasoned cook and blogger. Just check out Nicole's blog (here), and you will know what I mean. But, learning from others and taking on a challenge is the essence of this event, right? So, I'm going to learn as much as I can, and enjoy the ride as well while doing it.

When I learned that Nicole will be my partner, I knew immediately what I would do. I visited her blog a few days before the announcement, and was already planning on trying one of her recipes (among others), the croquettas de jamon, or cuban ham croquettes.

ham croquettes on a cuban roll

It is ironic that I would get the recipe for this dish from someone who is in Germany! I am based in Miami, Florida where Cuban abounds (next to Cuba, that is) so I should have been the one who had the recipe, right? But sometimes, distance also has something to do with everything. Because these croquettes are readily available here in Miami, I never had the motivation to make them at home. Ok, ok.. excuses, excuses....

Seriously, like Nicole, I had honestly thought that this would be complicated to make. Almost every Cuban I know has a grandmother who "makes super good croquettas". So, I had naturally assumed that this dish is not only complicated, but would also be very time consuming..... WRONG! As a mattrer fact, it is exactly the opposite. And I have Nicole to thank for proving that it is not. Just read the recipe, or better yet, try it and you'll find out.

The croquettes that are commercially sold, I know, have lard and all kinds of preservatives in them which make them not so good for our health (and figure). With this recipe, I probably would never buy ham croquettes from the bakery ever again. This is so much better! Because I know the quality of ingredients that went into it, I can now truly enjoy eating them without feeling guilty afterwards. (Though next time, I will try baking them for an even healthier version).

If you want to make this, the recipe is here. When I was shopping for the ingredients, I was so delighted to find an already ground ham. Awesome. This has even saved me one more step in making this dish. Talk about living in America!

ham croquettes ready for frying

Anyway, since the ham is water cured and not baked (recipe calls for baked ham), I added a 1/2-teaspoon of cumin for a smokey taste in the background. And then, I also added about 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice for freshness, plus a dash of crushed red peppers for a little kick. These are about the only variations I did to the recipe, otherwise, everything is a-ok!

Now, the next step is to learn making another one of my Cuban favorite, those guava and cheese pastelitos... anyone have the recipe?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chocolate Anise Biscotti


I don't consider myself a coffee drinker, per se. What I mean is, I'm not a heavy coffee drinker, somebody who consumes 10-12 cups a day. Uh-oh. I'm what you maybe call a light coffee drinker. One good cup a day, preferrably for breakfast, is enough for me.

Why am I talking a about coffee? It's because I have here something which is best enjoyed when accompanied with a good cup of coffee - regular or espresso. It could also be served as dessert, accompanied by a good italian wine, vin santo.

For those of you who don't know, "biscotti" (singular, biscotto) is an Italian word meaning, twice baked. The Italians during the medieval period baked their biscuits twice so that they could be stored for long periods of time, which was especially important during journeys and wars.

Now the transition from medieval Latin times to the modern period and how the biscuits then became cookies now, I have no idea. I will tell you about it when I'll find the history. But for now, I am thankful to whoever came up with this ingineous idea.

Being twice-baked, biscotti are crisp, and with their elongated shape, they are perfect for dunking in your coffee, or wine, whichever the case may be.

Biscotti is one of my favorite go-to sweets. It is simple to make - almost fool proof. There are so many variations to the flavors of this cookie, but what I prefer the most is the traditional one -- biscotti with chocolate and anise. And this is what I have here for you. Hope you try it.


The cookie logs after the first bake

The biscotti cooling off after the 2nd bake

Chocolate Anise Biscotti
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground anise seed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl to blend.
4. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Add the ground anise seed and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Form the dough into a 16-inch-long, 3-inch-wide log. Transfer the log to the
prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Cool 30 minutes.
6. Place the log on the cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices.
7. Arrange the cookies cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake the cookies until pale golden, about 15 minutes.
8. Transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Peanut-Ginger Rice


This is the rice that I served with my Sesame-Crusted Tuna With Roasted Cipolline Onions. I normally prefer just plain, white rice because I don't want the rice to compete with whatever I am eating it with. But in this case, the rice is the perfect accompaniment to the tuna dish. I might be biased though, because I love Thai food.

Anyway, you can use those boil-in-a bag long grain rice that you can buy in the grocery. But as for me, I prefer to cook the rice myself. As an Asian, it would be a shame for me to use those boil-in-a bag stuff. And even if I'm feeling lazy- I still got the hook-up -- rice cooker, baby!


Peanut-Ginger Rice
4 cups rice, cooked (I prefer Jasmin or Basmati)
1/4 cup sliced green onions, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
2 tbsp Thai peanut sauce*
2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp salt
Roasted peanuts, for garnish

1. Cook rice according to direction, ommitting salt and fat.
2. Stir in onions, peanut sauce, ginger and salt.
3. Garnish with additional green onions and roasted peanuts. Serve warm.

*NOTE: You can increase amount of Thai peanut sauce according to your liking. If you don't have the bottled peanut sauce, you may mix 2 tbsp of creamy peanut butter with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp hot sauce, 1 tsp lime juice. Mix thoroughly and add to rice.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sesami Crusted Tuna With Roasted Cippolline Onions


It all started when I saw the beautiful tuna steaks in the supermarket. I couldnt resist them so I bought, albeit with eyes half-closed because this fish could get a little pricey. But heck, we're treating ourselves tonight because all work and no fun makes us dull.... yep, good food is fun, especially the kind that you don't have to feel guilty about after having wiped out your plate. And this dish fits the bill (no pun intended).

I love fish, and if you've read my previous blogs, I grew up in the Philippines having the freshest fish from the Pacific Ocean. (Just an observation, I think the seafood from the Pacific Ocean taste much sweeter than those from the Atlantic... in my opinion). Anyhow, we try to eat fish once or twice a week. First , because I'm not really a big meat eater (Mr. J is, though), and second, because of all the nutrition that you can get from them (Omega 3 acid, most especially).

I have made this dish before, but this time I just dressed up the tuna a little bit with the black and white sesame seeds. Honestly, as much as I love fish -- I can't say which one I love better in this dish- the tuna or the cippolline onions in balsamic reduction. I think they go oh so well together that one cannot be without the other.

I served this this with a Peanut-Ginger Rice (see recipe in my next blog).



Sesame-Crusted Tuna
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tbsp sesame oil
4 (6-oz) Yellowfin tuna steaks*(about 3/4 oz thick)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted ( mix black and white sesame seeds if you have them)
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp green onions for garnish

1. Combine tuna , soy sauce and lemon juice in a bowl, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because the soy sauce is already salty. Let tuna marinate for a few minutes.
2. In the meantime, heat oil in a large , non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
3. Dredge the edges of tuna in sesame seeds.
4. Add tuna to pan and cook until desired degree of doneness.
5. Serve tuna with the cippollini onions (recipe follows) and peanut-ginger rice (recipe following this post).

*NOTE: If you want your tuna cooked rare, buy sushi-grade tuna.


Roasted Cipolline Onions
1 lb cipolline onions (or pearl onions)
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel the onions and cut off the root ends.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Toss the onions, vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a baking dish.

4. Roast in the oven until the onions are tender and golden, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes to 1 hour.

1. Get the onions to the oven first as this takes the longest to cook.
2. 20 minutes before the onions are done, get the rice started.
3. 10 minutes later, start on the tuna. By the time tuna gets done, the onions and rice should be done and just waiting to be served.

Gnocchi With Chicken Sausage


One Sunday morning, Mr. J and I found ourselves at home. This is not normal for us since our Sunday mornings are usually spent in church. Nope, we didn't skip; we just went a day earlier. We were invited to a Saturday night service to one of Mr. J's friend's church (that's a mouthful). We went and boy, was I thankful that we did because their guest speaker was awesome and spoke about a challenging and thought-provoking message on missions.

Anyway, before I digress here way too much, since Mr. J and I were home, I thought that it would be a good time for us to visit a local Farmer's market which I heared, takes place every Sunday from morning until noontime. We've never been able to go because by the time we're done with church, the market would already be over, or just about to be over. So off we go. I was so excited as I've never been to a Farmer's market here in Miami and this would be a first for me... Farmer's market, here we come!

Unknowingly, I was in for a great disappointment. When we got there, nobody was around - well at least the place where the market should be was empty. Where is everybody??? Well, to make a long story short, I learned that the market ended the week before. Apparently, the Farmer's market here only takes place during spring, from February to April, mid-April to be exact. The heat this year came a little to early so they decided to end the market earlier as it was getting to be too much for the farmers here in South Florida. My oh my... so much for the Farmer's market.

What now? Well, the next best thing to do is to go to Wild Oats (owned by the same company as Whole Foods). We were there for maybe a couple of hours. Going around the store made me feel a little bit better. So, my Sunday didn't totally suck...


Here's a dish that is remembrance of that fateful Sunday. The sausage you see is something that I got from Wild Oats that day. It is a roasted-pepper with apple organic chicken sausage. Hmmn... even the sound of that already tastes good, doesn't it? And you bet, it is... The sausage is a little spicy and sweet, hmmn.. perfect for the gnocchi and fennel. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I should add the red bell pepper since the sausage already has roasted-pepper in it. But I added it in the last minute anyway because fresh pepper would add a different taste to the roasted one. And of course, the red color just made this dish that much more attractive to the eye, don't you think?

As for the sausage, you can always change it up according to your preference. It's up to you, the sky's the limit.


Gnocchi With Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper And Fennel
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces chicken sausage*, casing removed and sliced
1 cup fennel, thinly sliced
1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Pecorino Romano* cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp butter*
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Omit salt and fat. Drain the gnocchi but reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep gnocchi warm.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Mix till butter is well incorporated. Add parsley for garnish.

*NOTE: As I mentioned above, you can always change up the sausage. Original recipe suggested basil and pine nut chicken sausage. For the cheese, you can also use Asiago cheese or Parmesan if you like. As to the butter, you can omit it. I just added a tad bit to mine for a richer flavor.

Simple Brioche

There's nothing like homemade bread. Nowadays, homemade breads are a luxury. But this is one luxury that I do want to indulge in. Nothing beats eating freshly baked bread - biting into that warm dough, seeing the butter melt when you slather it onto the piece that you're holding. Hmmnn..

Sadly, I haven't tried baking bread, on my own at least. I did it a couple of times with some girlfriends quite a while ago, and the bread came out good. But I cannot own the bragging rights about its success, because I did not do it by myself.

Bread baking has always intimidated me, but it is not to say that I am not willing to take on the challenge of learning it. I really would love to learn the art of baking bread, not just on bread machines, but the good-old fashioned way of kneading the dough by hand. But how else am I going to learn if I don't try ? As they say, practice is the mother of all perfection. So, what am I waiting for?

I looked through my cookbook, Baking With Julia. Oh my, there were a couple of pages of instructions for making different kinds of bread. I thought, I can never do this! Fortunately, I did a research and found this recipe in La Tartine Gourmande's site. A Brioche recipe!!! And I happen to love Brioche too. I ate this bread a lot when I was was in Europe. It is the simplest brioche recipe ever! Yipee! It is a perfect starting point for me. So, I rolled up my sleeves to do what would be my very first homemade bread....


Hmmnn... I just love the smell coming from the oven while the bread was baking. And my brioche came out not too bad for a first try. You can be sure that I will make this again. (Now this is a potential problem as Brioche is not the bread for the weight conscious).

I would have eaten at least half the loaf as soon as it came out from the oven. I had to exercise utmost self-control. Thankfully, I was able to stop so I had some left for breakfast the next day. Many thanks to Bea for this user-friendly recipe!

Simple Brioche
8 3/4 oz (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 3/4 oz butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 dose dry baker’s yeast (1 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp fine sugar
1/3 cup warm milk
1 pinch salt
1 egg yolk, for glaze


1. In a bowl, mix the flour with the yeast, make a hole in the middle.
2. Add the warm milk mixing with the tip of your fingers (if using a stand mixer, pour the milk slowly and steadily while mixing, with the hook attachment.)
3. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt, then add the soft butter, piece after piece, waiting each time that each piece is asborbed.
4. Then one by one, add the eggs, mixing well between each. Work the dough until it is elastic and detaches from your fingers more easily (or from the bowl of the stand mixer).
5. Cover and let rest in a warm place, away from drafts, for two hours, until it doubles in size.
6. Work the dough again for 10 min and divide it in four balls. Place them in a greased rectangular mold and cover. Let rise for an hour again.
7. Preheat the oven at 400 F.
8. Brush the brioche with the egg yolk mixed with a dash of sugar. With a pair of scissors, make small cuts at the top of each ball.
8. Place in the oven to bake for 10 min then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for about 20 to 30 min.
10. Remove, unmold and let cool on a rack.

Singapore Style Noodles

Well, it seems like I've been giving you a tour in Far East with my Asian-themed dinners recently. Believe me, this wasn't planned at all. It just happened. What can I say, I'm originally from the Philippines, therefore, I'm Asian by race.

Growing up in the Philippines has naturally exposed me to the varied kinds of Asian noodles, mostly Chinese. One of the earliest settlers in the Philippines are the Chinese, and so you will notice that there's a huge population of Chinese-Filipinos in our country. Consequently, Chinese cooking has made a huge impact in our cuisine. I would say that the food and spices are among the best legacies of the early Chinese settlers in my homeland.

Anyway, this time I am doing the Singapore Mai Fun or the Singapore rice noodles. (I've been to Singapore three times, and I believe this is one of the cleaner, if not the cleanest country in the whole wide world). This noodle is unique, in that it calls for curry powder. If you love curry like I do, then this is for you.

This dish is pretty healthy too.Traditionally, this is done with skinny rice noodles, but I have the flat/wider kind in my pantry so I used that instead. But if you want to try this recipe, I suggest you use the skinny ones. That way, your dish would look more like the traditional one.

Singapore Mai Fun
1 (6 oz) package skinny rice noodle ( I used the flat/thicker one as I said above)
1/2 cup chicken broth*
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce*
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Cooking spray
1 tbsp peanut oil*, divided
1 large egg*, lightly beaten
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast thinly sliced
1-1/5 lbs med shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup snow peas
1 cup green onions, sliced into 1-inch

1. Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Omit salt and oil. Drain.
2. Combine broth, soy sauce, sugar and salt; stir until sugar dissolves.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or Wok, if you have) over medium high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 tsp oil. Add egg; stir fry 30 seconds or until soft scrambled, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.
4. Wipe clean the skillet. Heat the remaining 2 tsps oil in pan over medium high heat. Add bell pepper strips, snow peas, garlic and crushed red bell pepper. Stir fry for 15 seconds.
5. Add chicken and stir fry for 2 minutes, or until done.
6. Add curry and shrimp; stir fry for another 2- minutes.
7. Stir in noodles, broth mixture and egg. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

*NOTES: You may certainly use fat-free, less sodium chicken broth if you prefer. Reversely, you can use regular soy sauce instead of the low-sodium, but I suggest that you omit adding the salt. As for the egg, I used egg-beaters (egg substitute) in mine and it worked out well.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Seoul-ful Chicken With Minted Cucumber

I am always interested in educating my palate, that's why I was eager to try this recipe that I happen to find when scanning an issue of Cooking Light magazine - chicken and cucumber done Korean style.

Kimchi is pretty much all I know about Korean food, and I'm sure that there's more to it than kimchi. It is one of the least familiar cuisine to me among the Asian countries, so I'd be glad to get to know a bit more of Korean cooking.

So here's something that resembles that of a korean dish (I hope). The chicken calls for ingredients common in Asian cooking, of course. As for the cucumber salad, it's some kind of a kimchi-type accompaniment, very similar to your cucumber salad with vinaigrette but with a slight difference in the prepartion. Find out how...


1 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 2-1/2 cups)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp shallots
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp season rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

1. Place cucumber slices in colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing well. Drain 1 hour.
2. Place cucumber slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
3. Combine cucumber, shallots, and next 6 ingrediets (thru chile) in a large bowl; toss gently. Cover and set aside.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast*, about 1-1/4 lbs
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 c green onions, thinly sliced
4 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

1. Place the chicken between 2 sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness.
2. Combine soy sauce and the next 5 ingredients (thru garlic) in a large zip top plastic bag.
3. Add chicken to soy sauce mixture in a bag, seal. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.
4. Heat grill pan over medium high heat. Coat with cooking spray.
5. Remove chicken from the bag; discard marinade. Cook chicken for 6 minutes on each side or until done.
6. Serve chicken with 1/2 cup of cucumber; sprinkle salad with green onions, and chicken with sesame seeds.

NOTE: Recommended meat is chicken thigh (boneless,skinless), but we prefer the breast. You may certainly use chicken thigh if you want, which is actually a juicer and more tender meat.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spaghetti With Meatballs

Spaghetti being made from worms????? That is sooo not true!!!

Well, if I was told this information today, this exactly would be my reaction. But as a young and innocent kid, I somehow picked up a rumor from school that spaghetti (meaning the pasta) are made of worms. And not knowing any better, this false information naturally affected my behavior towards spaghetti and I grew up not liking this dish at all.
But thank God this dislike did not stay with me forever. As I grew a bit older, I came to know more about food, and I discovered that spaghetti is pasta that is made from wheat/semolina flour, and that it is one of the most popular Italian dish all over the world. Information is indeed power, and armed with the knowledge and new determination, I overcame my aversion to spaghetti so much so that it is now one of my favorite comfort food.
Growing up in the Philippines, spaghetti is not considered an everyday dish. It is a viand reserved for special occasions, such as birthdays. Mind you, where I come from, most folks still eat spaghetti with rice... True story! No meal in my homeland is complete without rice, so people eat rice even with noodles and/or pasta.

Anyway, someone from my office brought spaghetti for lunch a few days back. When warmed in the microwave, the smell of spaghetti just permeated my office, and apparently, my brain as well. Eversince, my brain has reminded me constantly of that rich, meaty spaghetti sauce that I inhaled at the office… Finally, I had to concede for my own peace's sake - I just gotta make my own Neapolitan spaghetti with meatballs. My brain dictated and won. It's really mind over matter, huh?

Spaghetti With Meatballs
1/2 lb spaghetti
Salt, for pasta water
1 bottle of your favorite store-bought marinara sauce (or you can make your own if you've the time)

1-1/4 lbs ground sirloin
2 tsps Worcesteshire sauce
1 egg, beaten, plus Eggbeaters measure equivalent to 1 egg
1/2 cup grated Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or romano), and more for topping
1/4 cup onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp parsely, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp unsalted butter, for browning meatballs
Olive oil, fro browning meatballs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, mix Worcestershire sauce and the next ingredients through red pepper flakes.
3. When thorougly mixed, add ground meat. Mix with hands just until ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix.
4. Roll meat into 1-2/2 inch sized meatballs (or any size you like. The smaller it is, the quicker it cooks.) Set aside.
5. In the meantime, heat a deep oven proof skillet over moderate heat. Add butter and olive oil (2 turns around the pan, approx). When oil is hot, add the meatballs. Saute them until brown on all sides.
6. While browning meatballs, on another pot, bring to boil your marinara sauce. When boiling, lower heat and let it simmer while waiting for the meatballs to get ready.
7. When meatballs are brown, time to add your hot marina sauce into the pan. Sauce should cover the matballs a little more than halfway.
8. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 30 mins.
9. While meatballs are baking, in another pot bring water to a boil. Cook pasta as directed or until al dente (firm to the bite). Drain. You should start doing this so that the pasta cooks at the same time as the meatballs are done.
10. Add the pasta to the meatballs. Mix and serve spaghetti with grated parmesan cheese on top, if preferred.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Apricot Pork Chops With Roasted Brussel Sprouts


I am always in constant search for new ways to do pork chops. I am sure there is a thousand other ways to do it, but it seems to me that I am stuck with my 2 other reliable recipes - breaded or adobo-style (Filipino-adobo).

And so here's a new recipe inspired by Cooking Light magazine. Apart from it being pork chop, the other thing that attracted me to this dish is its glaze. Adding fruit preserves to a savory dish is a new thing for me, and I've been trying this only recently. It's a whole new world for me that I have yet to discover.

And so, here's an Apricot Glazed Pork Chop. I would say that the apricots can easily be subsituted with other fruit preserves such as peach preserves or orange marmalade.

For this dinner, I served the dish with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes.

Apricot Pork Chops
Cooking spray
4 boneless loin pork chops
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sliced green onions
dash of freshly ground pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper to chops.
2. Add pork to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.
3. Add onions to pan; saute' 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in preserves, soy sauce, garlic and salt.
4. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened. Add pork back to pan, turning to coat.
5. Serve. Garnish with green onions.


Roasted Brussel Sprouts
1 lb brussel sprouts
2 strips bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pcs
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Wash and peel off any damaged leaves from the sprouts. Trim the root end and cut in half.
3. Cook bacon in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat until bacon begins to get crisp, about 4 mins.
4. Transfer bacon to a bowl and set aside. (Take out some of the bacon grease if you think it's too much.) Add sprouts to the skillet, season with salt and pepper.
5. Transfer skillet to the oven and roast for about 30-45 minutes, or until the sprouts are cooked through and golden.
6. Crumble bacon over the sprouts and serve.

NOTE: I did not include a recipe of the mashed potato as I'm sure you have your way of doing it. You can do it however you like yours done.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Churrasco, baby!

Hey, it's Mr. J here again, the mystery chef (or shall I say guest chef in this blog.. hehehe). One day I felt like making a special dinner for my gorgeous wife, so I thought to myself there's no better way to show my love than to grill up some churrasco, baby...MMMMMM! I love to cook a tasty piece of meat, especially when its got that fat slightly marbled throughout the cut. When grilling, this type of meat is not as easily dried-out by the heat and delivers, in my opinion, a better flavor than super-lean cuts of meat. Follow closely as we cook up some awesome steak and side dishes that will have you smacking your lips!

Spice Rubbed Skirt Steak With Apple-Glazed Sweet Potato
1-1/4 lbs skirt steak (churrasco)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

Ready, Set ... Remove Churrasco meat from refrigerator to let it come to room temperature. Rub lightly with olive oil, and coat evenly, (on both sides) with the spices: Cumin, ground black pepper, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and some chili powder. Rub well into meat. Now, most recipes I've seen ask you to make a special rub for the meat beforehand by combining a long list of ingredients (not that there's anything wrong with that...LOL), but for me I know what I like and when I am being lazy I can do it this way and still know that I am going to get a good flavor from my steak and seasoning without all of the fuss.

After seasoning, let the meat stand for about 30-45 minutes before heading off to the grill. This gives you ample time to get started on those sweet potatoes. Actually, you should've had them in the oven 15 minutes ago... :O)

Apple Glazed Sweet Potato
2 pcs good sized sweet potato
2 pcs large apple (Macintosh/Golden Delicious), diced
3/4 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

I upgraded this dish to almost like a dessert. For starters, get those potatoes cleaned up and dried. Take some butter and coat the outside and wrap in foil before placing them into the oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
To make the glaze, I melted the butter in a pan over medium heat, then added the sugar and cinnamon to it. When the sugar has melted, I added the apples and just stirred them in to be coated with sweet butter-cinnamon mixture. I didn't let it stay long under the heat though because the apples are diced, red and delicious,but still not as firm as say a granny smith's apple -- So, it cooks pretty quick. Set the glaze aside until later.

When you have about 15 minutes left on your potatoes, get the grill going and start cooking your meat, after all its all about timing. Churrasco time! Go ahead and cook your meat about 4-6 minutes on each side over medium heat, for medium doneness. Don't forget to get the nice grill marks before flipping! The olive oil will help out with that since it has a lower burning temperature than regular oils. Focus on cooking the steak how you like it, because your potatoes will be ok until you get to them.
Once the meat is cooked set it off to the side and grab your sweet potatoes. Plate them first, pop 'em open, and add the glazed apples to the top of them. Start cutting into that churrasco and get some of that on your plate.

If you have some chimichurri sauce laying around go ahead and add that to your steak for more kick! If not, don't worry the steak will be great all on its own. We also had a mini-salad with our meal, nothing too special; simply a spring salad mix with tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

It doesnt take a lot to have a special meal, just good timing! Enjoy!