Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chicken Pastel Weekend

When I finally had the guts and courage to use my oven, I thought about baking CAKE. NOT. Thanks to my friend Yvonneski, for the "how to" via chat, and to Tita Alma Buñag for the true to life demo. Thank you, thank you!

Yeah, that's how scared I was! I really needed to see a demo!

Sabi nga sa TCP 101 (Trainer Certification Program: Adult Learning Principles and Methodologies), "Adults Learn By Doing"

Yan naman! (That’s it!)

I like desserts, no doubt about it. But I loooove main courses more!

So my first baking project was to cook Chicken Pastel, with a pie crust on top.

This is a showcase dish in parties, from where I am. An all time family favorite.

It is usually cooked as is, just the chicken pastel but for more awesomeness; it is covered with a pie crust. Just like the photo here! So with the crust included, then maybe you won't have to look for your cup of rice!

uyyy... low carb daw!?

The first chicken pastel that I made last March was a success but the photo does not give any justice to it.

Thank you to Mr. Ron Merlin of The Merlin Menu for the enlightenment and tips - that the food can still look pretty even with your simple camera...and the amazing light box!

I craved for chicken pastel once again this month and I am happier that I cooked it using my new white ceramic pot! (Pa-gourmet effect ever!?) Thanks to hubby for this fabulous gift, among the other gifts hihihi! Mmmwwwwaaaaaahh!!!

While others cook pastel with Ox tongue (Lengua), I prefer to use chicken as I am chicken person. Cooking an ox tongue dish for me is another scary cooking event because it’s really delicate! So maybe the Ox tongue pastel would just have to wait for.. for.. forever? HA!

The original recipe, that served as my guide came from Thank you!

On the photos, I used what was left in the freezer, the pantry and what I could grab from my "suking tindahan" (neighborhood store), and some simple twists:

About half a kilo Chicken breast cut into chunks

soy sauce

juice of 1 lemon (can use about 4 to 6 pieces of calamansi juice)

about 2 tbsps Butter

1 medium onion minced

about 3 cloves of garlic minced

Potatoes, diced

Carrots, diced

1 can of mushroom, cut in quarters

1 small can of vienna sausage (this was from my suking tindahan!)

grated cheese (quick melt) about 3/4 of the block

about 1 cup Chicken Broth



Cream of Mushroom

about half a cup of fresh milk

For the Pie Crust:

2 to 3 cups of flour

about 5 tbsps of softened butter

about 1/4 cup of water

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar (I like my crust with a little sweetness)

egg wash for brushing the crust (for the glazing effect)

The Way for the Pastel/Casserole :

Marinate the chicken breast in lemon juice and soy sauce for an hour.

After marinating, melt the butter and sauté the onions and garlic, add the mushrooms and sausage and the chicken, then add the broth, potatoes and carrots and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Then add the cream of mushroom, the grated cheese and milk, salt and pepper to taste, and then cook for another 10 minutes.

After cooking, transfer the casserole to a baking dish and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 450F or 232C

It's dough time!!!

The Way for the Pie Crust:

Mix altogether the dry ingredients: the flour, salt, sugar. Then add the butter and water. Mix into a ball, knead a little, and then roll flat the dough on a clean, floured, flat surface.

The dough can become really sticky so just put a little flour every time the dough sticks on your fingers or onto the surface. (Thanks to the pinoy cooking shows and to my Mommy Tess – I have seen her done this while I was a kid!)

I am quite OC when rolling the dough so I cover it with cling wrap :P

When the pastry crust is ready, transport it carefully by your loving hands onto the chicken pastel and cover it. Seal the sides and cut any excess dough with a knife.

Using your fork, punch holes on the pastry to let out steam. You can also use your fork to "design" the crust. Just like the empanada hehehe!

Bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

On the photo below, the crust was like saying to me, "smile before you open!" And so I did.

And even smiled again afterwards :-)

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sundays and Rainy Days: Nilagang Bulalo (Beef Shank Stew)

During Sundays, I'm sure some Pinoy families have nilagang baka for lunch, otherwise, sinigang na baboy. That is, according to some of my friends and according to... yours truly.

Eh bakit nga ba lagi nalang nilaga o sinigang pag linggo? Truth is, di ko talaga alam. Di ko talaga alermmmm :-) Sabi nga nila, you can never can tell. Etchos!
Hmmm, I think, reason why we have it during weekends is because it's a just "family thing". When everyone is present at home.

It's a soup to share with everyone (sniff! sniff!).

Parang ang saya pag nag papasahan kayo ng soup bowl and you say: "...sabaw please?!"

we like it because of the homeyness and warmth of the soup (yeah it's a comfort food and well, some like it really boling hot, like my husband - yung asawa ko kasi merong medyas sa dila)

we like it because of the tasty flavor of the beef, as well as the crunch of the fresh veggies from the market.

sabi nga ni Nanay noon, "o, damihan mo ng pres beydstabols" ;-)

And for some people who are not so very concious about their cholesterol level, they also enjoy the cherry on top of it all - the Great BULALO.

And sure I am one of them!

"Akin ang utak, I need it!" (utak = bone marrow)

Kebs! Habang bata!

Most of us are so excited to go to Tagaytay to have a taste of their nilagang bulalo from Leslie's or wherever there is.

But if you have a sudden craving for it, especially during the rainy days and you can't get out of your batcave to go south, I pretty think you can, YES - YOU - CAN - make it at the comfort of your own kitchen.

I think our family makes one of the yummy bulalos in town... and my Mommy Tess has given more justice to this ever so staple pinoy weekend dish.

The classic and commercial one is just as delicious, of course, but it can be more delicioso if you want it to!

Let me share our family's Nilagang Bulalo:

2 medium sized beef shanks with meat
1 to 2 medium sized onions, chopped (quartered or whatever size you like)
1 Knorr Beef Bouillon Cube
A little Patis (Fish Sauce) (uh-oh, not too salty!)
Knorr Cream of Asparagus Soup Mix
2 to 3 Potatoes (quartered)
1 medium sized Cabbage (quartered)
Cracked Pepper to taste

You can also add:

Pechay Tagalog
Onion leeks
Kamote (Sweet Potato)
Saging na Saba (Plantain Bananas)
Corn (cut into half or in threes depending on the size)

and for more sowshyalness, Asparagus (yun yun eh!)

Actually, the more, the merrier, but for us, we're happy with the potatoes and cabbage..

When carrots are available, then they're part of the show.

The Way:

Boil the beef shanks (bone and meat) until tender (start early!). Best if you pressure cook it to achieve tenderness half the time. For pressure cooking know how, please see entry #1.

When meat is tender, take some of the broth and set aside.

Add the onions and the beef bouillon cubes and patis to the shanks and continue to simmer.

Mix the cream of asparagus powder and the beef broth that was set aside, then when it has completely dissolved, add it to the simmering shanks et. al. (i like the "simmering shanks" effex ha!)

When everything looks good, then it's time to throw in the
veggies and the pepper and just leave the cover on for a few minutes then turn the heat off and it's ready to serve. Do not overcook the veggies! No lantang gulay allowed!

I love it when I use a mix of patis and calamansi as a condiment :-)

Some add chili pepper flakes for a one helluva kickin' soup!

I hope you will like the semi-creamyness of the bulalo soup.

It is more hearty, indeed!

And of course...your Nilaga weekends will never be the same again ;-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy 29th!!!

The kitchen started heating up at 8 in the morning
as Rica and I prepared for my birthday lunch with our family.

Now, ask me if I have noodles in the menu. Well, there was none for lunch
... but we had some during breakfast.

Introducing - Lucky Me Lusog Sarap Nutrition Noodles - in "Beef na Beef Flavor"...for Long Life!
Pinoys can't really get away with it huh!? Tayo pa! Kahit anong noodles
basta meron lang pang long-life! ;-)

And honestly, I was a bit too lazy to cook pasta or pancit. Sorry!

My hubby Archie, Rica and I have been brainstorming for hours on what to cook.

So finally we came up with the following:

Clam Soup (Halaan)
Rica's Chicken in Butter Mushroom Sauce (yummy!)
Beef Sanggupsal
Crab Maritess
Baked Tahong Pie
German Beer for the Boys ;-)

For dessert, we attempted to make Tyler Florence's "The Ultimate Cheesecake"

It is indeed a "project" that we have been dreaming about for quite a while, mind you.

The cheesecake was close to success but since time was the enemy, it wasn't served on that day. We learned that it can take lots and lots of hours to make it firm - on the fridge.

So now we know better!

So therefore we feasted on it the next day! Yey!! :-) Here ya go:

The blueberry topping has been waiting for me for months in the freezer, so with that, after defrosting, I had to caramelize it again on low heat with a few teaspoons of white sugar
and ta-dahhh! It's as if it was just poured out from the can!

Thanks to my family for sharing the day with me and for enjoying the food!

You are always what I consider the "Satisfied Customers"
so... "Thank you, please come again!"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A - You're ADOBO-dorable!

So let this be my first ever entry here. Pang Buena Mano!

I have been hanging out in the household kitchen as a fat kid and have seen my Mommy Tess and my Nanay Floring (what I call my Lola) do their magic in the kitchen. So I was there watching and volunteering myself to chop this and that, to fry, to stir and what have you. Kahit pag babalot ng lumpiang shanghai, kinakareer ko talaga. I was a cook wanna be. And therefore I said one day, when I grow up I can also do what they do.

I know for some, cooking the pinoy adobo is just "so so", but for me I consider it a masterpiece and it is cooked with love. I have been trying to get the Umph! in it since I started to cook it on my own and it took me yearssss to realize how to do it and finally hit the bullseye! AMEN.

As said by Chichajo: "I don’t think there is, or will ever be, a truly definitive recipe for Filipino adobo." - this really holds true for us Pinoys. There are just so many ways to cook it. sooooooooooooo many ways: Adobong baboy, manok, combo of both, sitaw, kangkong, pusit ---masabaw, masarsa, tuyo, with potatoes, adobo sa kamatis, adobong may gata, adobong mushrooms, adobong lamb, the chinese adobo (i like!) and all that jazz. whew! I think, with the mix of the ingredients, you can just make any meat, seafood or veggie into a great adobo of your own.

Adobong Liempo (Pork Belly) is my best bet for comfort food. I can eat it for days really. How does the adobo melt in your mouth? Simple. Have your handy-dandy pressure cooker. Yup, that's my baby! It saves a lot of time, at least half the time, effort and gas from it! Many thanks to my boss and good friend who gave it to me as a wedding gift last 2006. Thanks, ate Mori!

Before, I used to cook the adobo in low fire for at least 2 hours so that the meat will be tender and the flavors will really sink in the meat. That's another option if there is no pressure cooker.

In the cooking portion of Boy and Kris (uy showbiz!), Chef Bruce Lim said - on how to use the pressure cooker - the water should just be enough to cover the whole meat. The fire should be in medium to semi-high and allow for it to boil until it reaches cooking pressure. You can say if it has reached it's high point if the top cover jiggles or makes that oooozing sound and you see the white smoke coming out of that little valve on the cover. If you see this, turn the fire to medium-low to low, just enough to maintain the pressure. And guess what, that's just the start of the process in making your meat tender.

After achieving the cooking pressure, it usually takes 30 more to cook the meat. But if you really want to be sure that it will so damn melt in your mouth, make it 45mins to an hour.

After putting off the heat, please do not remove the lid just yet! It might explode because of the pressure. Just like what our mommies do - old style - they put a water wet kitchen cloth on top of the little valve to release the pressure, otherwise, to make it faster, just put the pressure cooker under running water for a quick cool down. Make sure that the water runs down over the lid and not directly over the little valve/pressure regulator.

If all pressure is gone, it's time to take the meat out...and cook the adobo!

I am a person who hates math (or maybe Math dislikes me!). totally. you can ask my gradeshool, highschool and college teachers about it. So if I can do away with anything with numbers, I really would. So with cooking, I can say I try to make "tancha" (estimate) and have this "bahala na" mentality. I mix/combine the ingredients/flavorings by the
ladle/spoon/handful/scoop, by the spoon, by the hand, or by the smell.

I really don't have any, exact measurement in most of my cooking, but since I started this blog, I will try my very best to note down the measurements for future dishes. As for delicate dishes (especially baking) - I have no other choice. Hehe!

Our family Adobo:

Half a kilo of pork belly
lots of chopped garlic (about 4 tbsp)
about 1/2 cup of
white vinegar
about 1/2 cup
of dark soy sauce (add a tablespoon or 2 if you want it a bit more salty)
About 2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar (add sugar little by little, add some more if you want a sweeter version)
lots of pepper, freshly cracked and some uncracked
1 big laurel leaf

The Way:

Saute the chopped garlic until it's about to turn golden brown. If you want, save some for garnishing!

Add the pressure cooked pork belly (drained well)

Add the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and laurel leaf and stir a little and simmer on low heat. do not fully cover the pot so that the vinegar's acidity will evaporate.

As of
7/31/09 Update: - As suggested by my Mommy Tess, as said by most elders --- I have also tried not stirring the mixture yet of the vinegar and soy sauce and allowed the acidity to evaporate. I observed that the result is the same as stirring it (a little bit only). Time is really needed to let the vinegar really cook with stirring or without being touched and let its acidity go away... Whatever works for you! :)

The simmering process can go for about 20 minutes or until the pork belly is already dark and it looks like it has already absorbed all the flavors. If you simmer longer than that, it will kind of caramelize, with the skin and fat popping and getting a bit crispy and the adobo will be somewhat semi-saucy to a bit dry. Yung tipong mabibitin ka and you'll ask for some more.


Bye for now! :-)