Archive by Author

empanada love

7 May

It all started a few weeks ago when Auntie Claudia of Island Liaison came to my class to do a food/cultural presentation. When we met to plan this, I mentioned that one of my favorite foods is Chamoru empanada. She mentioned that her cousin makes it and that she would share the frozen empanada that was currently sitting in her freezer. Fast forward to her class visit, she ended up bringing an incredible spread to my students.

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Auntie Claudia showing my students that the coconut ladle can be used to serve food and to hit stupid people over the head:)

When I saw the spread, I was really overwhelmed. There was so much more than I was anticipating. When we discussed her visit, she said she would bring “tastes” for my students. However, it ended up being more of a mini fiesta! There were two long desks filled with varieties of taro, rosketti, potu, coconut candy, and my favorite: Chamoru empanada.

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I urged my students to not eat this. Unfortunately, they refused to listen:(

Inspired by her visit, I decided to actively look for a recipe for Chamoru empanada. As I’ve said many times, I don’t trust recipes. Every cook has her/his secrets that are purposely left out. Chamoru food is no different. The few recipes I’ve mastered have come from lots of trial and error. My recipe for Chamoru shrimp patties came from my brother-in-law’s aunt, so it was totally legit. Even then, technique needs to be developed. It takes time.

I have had the recipe book Remember Guam bookmarked on amazon for ages. However, I hesitated because again, I don’t trust recipes. However, Paula Quinene, the author, has a website and a youtube channel. After viewing the video on Chamoru empanada, I decided to buy her cookbook because the recipe and technique seemed legit.

I’m happy to announce that it’s TOTALLY legit! The videos show technique, but you need to purchase the book(s) for the actual recipe. I say do it! In order to respect her recipes, I will not be posting the recipes or my modifications.

Here’s my first stab at Chamoru empanada. There are two steps to this. First, you need to make chalakiles, which is the filling. Note: It’s nothing like Mexican chilaquiles. After making the chalakiles (which is a fine meal on its own), you have to refrigerate it overnight so that it cools and thickens. Here are the pix:

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One of the key ingredients is toasted rice. You can easily do this over the stove. Medium heat and watchful eye is way better than using Cream of Rice (which is what some folks end up using).

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Just so you can see the contrast, the toasted rice needs to be golden brown. Even if you burn it a little, it should be fine because it gives the filling a nice charred taste.

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I used at least double the meat the recipe called for because I like a meaty, chunky filling.

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This is the finished product of the chalakiles. It’s basically a thick soup. Again, my version has a noticeable amount of bacon and chicken.

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After letting it cool and thicken overnight, the filling is ready! There was a lot of chalakiles. Unless you’re going to eat this first and use the excess for filling, I suggest making only half of Paula Q’s suggested recipe. A full recipe will make about 80 pieces.

 

The second part of the recipe is the shell. This is the part that is a bit difficult. I know my mom has stopped making empanada all together because of stiffness in her hands. After doing some online research, I discovered that a lot of people use a tortilla press to bypass the rolling involved in making the shell. BRILLIANT! It totally saved time and allowed some uniformity in the empanada. Again, here are the pix:

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The recipe for the dough is quite simple. Paula Q’s recipe makes about 40 dough balls. Admittedly, I tried to be fancy and this batch was slightly salty for my taste. I have since made notes to adjust. The dough balls need to be the size of a golf ball. Some other techniques is to use an ice cream scooper or a 1/4cup container to measure.

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I wrapped the tortilla press in plastic wrap on both sides. From there, I placed wax paper on the bottom and followed with a dough ball in the center. Note: You’re better off cutting he wax paper yourself. I had the pre-cut ones from Costco and wasted a lot of it!

 

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A simple press of the lever and BAM! A perfect thin shell. I’m sure you can adjust thickness by not pressing so hard. However, I like a thin shell.

The last part of the process is the fold and pinch. This is where the filling and shell meet. It’s quite easy and unlike lumpia, you DO NOT need a binding agent (such as eggs). The challenge is figuring out the right amount of filling. It took me a while and I’m still working on it. I found that my filling tended to spill over a little. It was okay, though because as long as you pinch well and remove the air, things should be fine. Check it out!

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You really want to play with portions. Make sure you press the filling so that there’s no air pockets.

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From there, fold over and pinch. If you look carefully at the top left corner, you’ll see where there was a little filling overflow. The amount of filling is also personal taste. Personally, I like there to be a good amount of filling. A tablespoon or two will do ya!

Once the empanada is made, you want to make sure you keep them in the wax paper. That way, you avoid drying. Also, the shell is really brittle, so the wax paper keeps everything intact. Ideally, you want to freeze these before frying. However, if you can’t wait, please be gentle when peeling the wax paper.

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Because you want the shell to be crispy, I suggest frying 4 minutes per side. Yeah. This stuff is fried. There’s no way around it, folks!

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The finished product. Don’t mind the oil stains. It just means that this is good stuff!

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Again, my filling is meatier than most. You’ll figure out your own adjustments.

There you have it! I’d like to thank Auntie Claudia for an awesome presentation and for inspiring me to finally make this. To my Guam family: We don’t have to buy these at $2.50/piece at the bakery anymore. We can make it ourselves at a fraction of the cost, and with an infinite amount of love!

Live deliciously,

-joanne

we all scream

22 Jan

Fritzie is the ultimate kitchen gadget pusher. Per her recommendation, I invested in a few key pieces for my kitchen. You already saw the incredible slow cooker that is now a regular part of my repertoire. When this ice cream maker went on special, I had to jump at the opportunity. When it finally came in, my life (and everyone around me) was changed forever. First off, take a look at this beauty:

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Confession: I love colorful appliances. It may make for a mismatched kitchen, but colors make me happy:)

I didn’t realize how easy making ice cream was. Just a few ingredients blended together, chilled, and run through the machine in twenty minutes… viola! You have a delicious concoction. I like that I know exactly what’s in my ice cream and that I can control the level of sweetness and tones of the various flavors. Homemade ice cream tastes day and night different from the store bought stuff. Once you start making your own ice cream, I’m sure you won’t go back to mediocre ice cream.

Granted, I’m still tinkering with recipes and proportions. However, I’m having fun thinking up cool flavors. The first ice cream I made was roasted plantain. It was  non-dairy and coconut milk-based. The flavor was good, but I really needed to work with the actual mixture. Also, I didn’t realize that coconut milk freezes to a hard-as-a-rock consistency. This makes enjoying ice cream in days to come a bit challenging. The second flavor I conquered was Vietnamese coffee. THAT was a total winner! I followed the winning streak with creamy kalamansi. I was on a roll!

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Vietnamese coffee ice cream, fresh out of the maker. Initially, it comes out as soft serve. There are less than five ingredients in this!

When I got back to Phoenix, I tried to make another non-dairy batch: mango-coconut non-dairy ice cream. Though it was delicious, I still had the hard-as-a-rock issue to deal with. Shortly after, I made lychee-mango for my nephew Brendan. Finally, this current batch is salted caramel hot coca.

It’s official. I’m an ice cream making addict! If you’re reading this and you have great ice cream ideas, feel free to share. I’m always looking for interesting things to experiment with.

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The salted caramel hot cocoa mix is currently on clearance at Williams Sonoma. That is what inspired this delicious bowl of ice cream that you’re looking at.

Live deliciously,

-joanne

kalua pork

5 Nov

It’s official. Slow cookers are sexy! How sexy? This motherf–kin’ sexy:

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I’ve been wanting a slow cooker for ages and have been doing the proper research. Ultimately, I wanted one that was light. I also wanted the insert to be used over the stove or in the oven in case I was ever in a situation that required that. I’m lazy. Any time I can do something in a single pot, I am one happy camper. Alas, my prayers have been answered with this baby. The All-Clad 7 qt. Deluxe Slow Cooker met all of my basic requirements. Recently, it was on sale at Williams-Sonoma (a.k.a. any cooking lover’s version of Toys-R-Us meets porn video store) and I was given an additional discount. (It’s true. Charm, patience, and a smile will get you far these days.) Yes. I HAD to have this. When it finally arrived, I proudly displayed it on my counter and fantasized about what I would make first. After searching, I decided to break this baby in with some delicious kalua pig! I used Nom Nom Paleo’s recipe and made a few adjustments of my own.

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I chose pork butt with skin on that was just under 4 lbs. Since this was my first time making kalua pork, I didn’t want to over do it. Also, it’s just me and I get tired of food easily. Cooking in big batches isn’t always ideal. This slab seemed to be just fine. The original recipe called for a 16 hour cooking on low. I ended up doing about 10 hours on low and it was perfect. The photo above is what I woke up to. Unlike the Nom Nom version, I lined the slow cooker with banana leaves and I added some liquid smoke to the salt rub (WIN!). When I stuck a fork into the meat, it was super tender, but I was disappointed at how bland it was. With that, I learned that all the salty smokiness is actually in the liquid. This is why you need to get the meat out and shred. The bottom of the pot has lots of liquid.

The leftover liquid looks a little something like this:

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Sticking garlic into the meat is brilliant! I decided that the next time I do this, I’m going to put a bunch of garlic pieces in the pot and let it roast outside the pork. Using the juices, I added a little bit to the newly shredded pork for some flavor. That’s when the first part of the magic happened! The photo below is the pork without any juices. The pork mixture has bits of roasted garlic and bacon. Mmmm!

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Another thing that the juices are good for is cooking the cabbage! Given the ease of the pot, I simply removed most of the liquid and sauteed the cabbage in the juices. Here’s what it looked like over the stove:

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Once the cabbage was cooked (I hate wilted veggies), I just added the pork back and mixed it. The final kalua pig and cabbage dish looks like this:

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You can serve this by itself, or over rice with some mac-potato salad (like they do it in the islands!) I was very happy with how this turned out. I don’t think I’ve ever had pork this tender. If I were to do this again, I’d keep the cabbage separate because the pork can be used for other dishes like tacos, soups, etc. But we’re not done yet…

Remember that slab of skin that was on top? Technically, it does NOTHING for the dish itself, other than keep it moist and fatty (but you can do that without the skin). When I removed the meat from the pot, the skin literally fell off because it was so damn soft. I let sit out for a while to “dry” so I could make chicharon.

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I tried frying it, but I was reminded of why I don’t like making chicharon. It leaves my kitchen in a terrible, oily mess. (Now I have all this oil to clean!) When the popping became way too intense (it didn’t take long), I turned off the stove and was ready to just throw the skin away. However, I could hear the Manpanion’s voice crying in my head. I don’t think I could handle the look of disappointment on his face if I told him I threw out the pork skin! Luckily, the turbo broiler is right next to the stove and I decided to go that route (I did this before when trying to make oven roasted lechon kawali. Unfortunately, it failed miserably.)

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If you’re a Filipino, you have a turbo broiler. Period. The one I have in SSF, is often used by the Manpanion because he (who never cooks) likes how it makes his Costco food nice and crunchy. I’ve had that thing since college (15+ years, if you’re doing the math right). When I moved to Phoenix, some dear friends gave me a VISA gift card as a going away present. I used it to buy this turbo broiler, made by the Sharper Image. Sometimes Costco has them too. I highly recommend! 15 minutes at 350 degrees made this:

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Crispy and delicious. The only thing I hate is that the Manpanion isn’t here to enjoy this. Unfortunately, I’m trying to cut down, so someone around here is gonna have to take this away from me. Besides, I’m fresh out of lechon sauce. Right now, this pig skin is simply useless to me:(

If you have any suggestions on what I should make in my slow cooker, please post to comments… with recipe attached:)

Live deliciously,

-joanne

solo

25 Sep
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Hummus and pita. Made onsite. When in Chicago’s Greek town….

Many moons ago when I used to watch Friends, I recall an episode when Rachel was trying something new: eating out alone. Apparently, there was this whole bru-ha-ha about her eating alone because apparently, only pathetic people eat in a restaurant alone. Admittedly, I thought this was a strange issue to tackle on a TV show. I eat alone all the time. In fact, I enjoy it. (Yes. I’m eating alone right now. In a cafe. In Chicago. And I really don’t give a shit about what the people around me are thinking.)

Granted, I understand why people don’t like eating alone. Our class readings addressed this issue, stating that eating alone is embarrassing and no one likes to admit they eat alone. Perhaps this is why I do so with such pride. Sometimes I need to be by myself so that I can escape my crazy life. When I eat alone, I take my time. I indulge in the menu and order way too much, just so I can have leftovers to take home and reflect on my marvelous meal alone.

For my students, I know that this next assignment was to share a food experience with someone else. I also know that I’m not quite addressing the assignment. However, I do want to tackle this notion of eating alone. For women, eating alone becomes this stigma because the assumption is that you have no one in your life. In contrast, men eating alone has a completely different meaning. Personally, I believe in these small acts of rebellion. Maybe this is why I have no problem eating alone. Besides, just because I entered the restaurant alone, doesn’t mean I’m necessarily alone.

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When traveling, I try to catch up on work. This is why I like eating alone. The waitress suggested this dessert. It was kinda’ custard-y inside with phyllo dough outside. It was okay, but definitely not a total stand-out.

When the Manpanion and I started dating, we reached the point where I would take him to my usual spots. He was impressed that I actually knew the owners and the people that work in the restaurant. For me, establishing this relationship is important. I like to know the story behind the restaurant. How did the restaurant come to be? What compels the owners and workers to do this work? What are the popular dishes? How is this different from the chef’s specialty dish? (Yes, there’s a difference. Always opt for the chef’s speciality!) Admittedly, I have made some wonderful friends by simply starting conversation and community while sitting alone in a restaurant. (OMG. There was this one time, this guy next to me paid for my meal because his daughter happened to be a professor whose work I was familiar with!)

I have this relationship at certain places I shop too. This past summer, I was taking a dear friend to my favorite shoe store to meet my “dealers” (a term I use to refer to the shoe pushers who work at the store). After he purchased two pairs of shoes, he said, “Joanne, the people there aren’t your ‘dealers,’ they’re your friends. They actually enjoy your visit and vice versa. You have an actual relationship with them!” I responded, “Of course! How else does one interact with other people?!”

Maybe that’s the key to navigating solo: make meaningful contact. Living in Phoenix, I’m alone a lot, but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m alone. I try to make conversation and make good company when I’m out and about. On occasion, it’s not  me that starts the interaction. I consider myself a fairly sociable person, so I respond accordingly. If I’m not feeling social, I make that clear too.

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Heaven in a glass.

Yes, I’m here at Artopolis, a bakery/cafe located in Chicago’s Greektown. The wait staff are very kind. The woman helping me is particularly chatty and I like her recommendations. I’m enjoying the Frappe, a cold version of a traditional Greek coffee. It’s delicious, but without all the grit of the traditional hot version. Of course, I’ll snack on other traditional-for-Chicago Greek fare. I’m glad to be here alone because I don’t think I’d have the patience to wait for a group of people to join me. Everyone should experience this Frappe, as I’ll surely miss it when I head back to Phoenix.

Live deliciously,

-joanne

back from the dead

12 Sep

I can’t believe it’s been about a year and a half since Fritzie and I had posted. A lot has happened and I apologize for the neglect. To make a long story short, I finished and filed the dissertation, taught my last class at Berkeley as a graduate student, and then hopped on over to Phoenix to assume my new position as an academic lecturer. I work at that place the Sun Devils call home:)

I’ve decided to upkeep this blog a little better because this semester, I’m teaching a class on Asian Pacific American Literature. When I teach this course, I typically focus on a particular theme. This time around, we’re looking at food in APA lit. Wa-hoo! As part of the class, my students have to maintain a flood blog, where I give them various assignments that reflect the ways in which APAs have incorporated food in the literature we are reading. To honor my students and to sympathize with the work they have to do, I’ve decided to join them in their blogging assignments.

For this first assignment, I had asked them to create a post where they share a recipe, along with a story or memory around the recipe they have shared. (Since this is an upper division course, there are other things they are expected to do, but I won’t get into the details.) Here it goes….

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I made this batch for an Easter celebration. It was the first time the Manpanion was going to meet my family. I figured if he entered the room holding these, they’d love him already:)

Chamorro Shrimp Patties

Yup. That’s right. These babies are a signature dish of mine. Because they’re a signature dish, I will never EVER reveal my secret recipe! (Well, at least not on this blog.) However, I did find this recipe online. While I don’t usually trust recipes, I will say that this one looks pretty legit! (I’m basing that on the reviews and how the ingredients and proportions measure up to my personal recipe.)

Growing up, shrimp patties were such a treat. While they were usually available at the various fiestas I went to, shrimp patties can sometimes be hit-or-miss. Some people over batter it. Others skimp out on the shrimp and use imitation crab meat instead. When I bite into the patties and find no shrimp, I feel disappointed. In short, not all shrimp patties are made the same.

It wasn’t until college that I started taking cooking seriously. For some reason, I felt this need to uphold the culinary traditions of my childhood. Since I was always unsatisfied with other people’s shrimp patties, I decided to embark on a quest to perfect  Chamorro Shrimp Patties.  It took a while to figure out which veggies worked best and what technique ensured they patties would stay round. However, I can confidently say that I have it down. My ultimate secret is love. Really. It is. I don’t make this dish very often because it’s pricey and time consuming. However, when the shrimp patties make an appearance, the family is always happy.

I try to make this at least once a year to celebrate the new year. In my family, a new year’s feast was to include as many round things as possible. Hence, why this is the treat of choice. When my cousin Ray visits, I make these just so he can feel at home. When the family first met the Manpanion, I made these for the Easter celebration. I figured that if he were holding these, they’d have no choice but to love him:) Since it seems they love him more than me, I’m convinced that my plan worked!

The last time I was on Guam was 2008. While there, I went to the ballpark where each week, there is collection of vendors selling food and goods. Naturally, I ordered a plate that had shrimp patties. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the over-doughed, under-shrimped, bland concoction.  Alas, ’tis the curse of perfecting the shrimp pattie.

Live deliciously,

-joanne

a quickie: cafe cubano and pie

9 Apr

I swear I’ll be better and posting.

For those of you who don’t know, I LOVE coffee. I’m not an addict. One serving of coffee per day is plenty for me. These days I’m a bit of a snob. I don’t frequent Starbucks as much as I used to because I pledged to omit bad coffee out of my life. Also, I’m trying to patron local business as much as I can:) However, this is one place in San Jose that I go to, if I’m ever in the area. It’s called Barefoot Coffee. I go to the one on Stevens Creek. It’s a bit spendy, which is why I’m not here too often. However, they make the GREATEST cafe Cubano. I discovered this place through a bad date. Yes, even I can see the light in a horrible date. While I will never speak to this terrible date again, I do thank what’shisface for introducing me to some great eats. In fact, I’ll likely do a post called “great bites from a bad date” soon. Anyway… This place makes a great cafe Cubano because when they make the espresso, they mix the beans with a touch of muscovado sugar, giving it that hint of burnt sweetness. Delicious! If the Cubano isn’t your thing, then check out the Voodoo, which is made with coconut milk (for your paleo folk out there). Here’s my artsy rendition of the cafe Cubano:

Also, for those of you who don’t know, the Manpanion is big on pie. I like cupcakes. He likes pie. We still manage to love each other. One of his favorite places is Chile Pies. If you’re in SF and you have a hankering for pie, check them out. The Manpanion and I discovered Chile Pies in this article. To this day, the Manpanion is STILL in love with the green chile apple pie. It’s an eclectic mix of green chile incorporated into the apple mixture. The crust is is a cheddar cheese streusel. Strange, but wonderfully unforgettable. Check out the deliciousness:

(as you wipe your drool) You’re welcome!

Live deliciously!

-joanne

primal friendly pancakes

26 Mar

Lately I’ve been craving pancakes in a big way. I’m not stranger to making primal friendly pancakes. However, it’s taken me quite a while to perfect this recipe and make it so that a non-primal, pancake-loving friend (or Manpanion) would love it too. The original recipe came from this site. Of course, I adapted. Hope you like what I came up with!

Primal Friendly Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch (or more depending on what it takes to get the thickness right)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • coconut oil for frying

Instructions:

1) Mix the batter in a bowl. To make it smooth, use a hand blender.

2) Grease pan with coconut oil. Pour batter to create pancakes. If the batter seems too thin you may need to add a small arrowroot starch to achieve the desired consistency.

3) Your pan should be set to a low or medium-low setting. I used my new pancake rings because they’re steady and I like the look of them. These new rings are smaller, allowing me to cook FOUR pancakes at a time. Simply fill the rings to make a thin coating (about 1/3 of the way). Leave them in the rings until the sides are solid and the batter bubbles. From there, lift the rings and flip over. (If you’re adding chocolate chips or other goodies, drop them in the partially cooked batter before flipping.) After the pancakes are cooked, enjoy!

Note: The key to making these pancakes work is to make sure that the batter is thick enough. Usually, primal pancakes are runny because of the eggs and coconut milk, which are used to bind the batter. Another issue is they tend to be gritty because of the coconut flour. The arrowroot starch cuts that grit. The bananas also help with reducing the grit and making the batter smooth. If you’re not into bananas, I suggest experimenting with pumpkin, sweet potato, butternut squash, or whatever you think will be a good thickener. You’ll need about 1 cup of it in your batter.

If you want to jazz it up a bit, you can add chocolate chips to add to the deliciousness (the bananas are plenty, though). I usually have a stash of dark chocolate chips (70% or more) on hand. Before flipping the pancake, I slip a few into the mix.

Let me know how this recipe works for you.

Live deliciously!

-joanne

eggplant torta

12 Mar

Okay. Fine. I’ll post a recipe. Before I do, I’d like to note that the reason why I hesitate to post recipes is because everyone and their dog has some bullshit thing to say about the food I cook, how I cook it, and how (un)authentic it is. With that, I am reminded of why I possess not one, but TWO middle fingers;P

Bitter? I know. It comes from a horrible experience in college when I ended up living with my HSBFF (high school best friend). (Note: we are no longer friends. It’s a long story. If you buy the coffee, I’ll spill the beans.) It wasn’t until college that I learned to cook. Before then, mom did all the cooking. All I had to do is watch and eat. However, I quickly learned that all those years watching equipped me with the necessary skills to do some interesting things in the kitchen. Even I can admit that I’m not the greatest cook. However, my kitchen sensibilities come from the ways in which I grew up. Everyone is like this. With respect to Filipino food, the way I cook certain dishes is way different from the way others cook the same dish. With 300+ years of Spanish colonization, Japanese occupation, and American invasion, YES. Lots of Filipino families do similar dishes in a ton of different ways. Get used to it.

PLUS, I’m from GUAM! (insert raised fist in the air)

Back to the ex-HSBFF…. I simply got sick and tired of hearing, “That’s not how my mom/lola/dad/pet dog cooks it!” With the ex-HSBFF, there was a lot of bark, but not a lot of bite. This person barely knew how to boil water! Looking back, I should have just let her starve! Anyhoo….

As I’ve said before, I’m not big on recipes. I have them, I look at them to get a sense of what the dish needs, and I usually go on my own merry way from there. To explain how I make something like eggplant torta is a bit of a challenge. But I’ll try. I hope you find it useful… (If not, you can check out this recipe.)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/3 lb ground beef (I used the organic ground beef from Costco, hence the strange measurement)
  • 6 Philippine eggplants (about medium sized; I looked for ones that were short enough to roast over the stove burner)
  • Gluten-Free soy sauce (or whatever soy sauce you have; you can also use coconut aminos if you’re hard core Paleo)
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 c arrowroot starch (Roughly. In reality, I may have used about half this amount?)

Directions:

1) Roast the eggplant over the stove, until the skin is kind of burnt. You want that outer layer of skin to peel off. Inside, you’ll get soft, smoky eggplant. You can do this in the oven (just be sure to poke holes in the eggplant), but you won’t get that smoky flavor. I happen to have a gas burner. Therefore, I simply washed and dried the eggplant, turned on the stove on low, and placed it directly over the flame. (This is how my mom does it. If you have problems with the technique, tell her and the ninja slipper that awaits in her hand.)

2) After roasting, peel the burt skin and collect the smoked eggplant in a bowl (yes, juices and all). Discard the skin and tops. Let the eggplant cool. At this stage, I also shred the eggplant to break it up.

3) Saute the ground beef with soy sauce and cracked pepper. I know I left out measurements because for me, it’s a matter of taste. I like LOTS of black pepper. For this batch, I easily used 1+ tbs of black pepper with under 1/4 cup of soy sauce. Cook well and let this ground beef mixture cool with the eggplant. For this batch, I let it cool and then stored in the fridge because I wasn’t ready to cook the torta til the next day. (It’s okay of the meat is a little salty because after eventually mixing with the eggplant and eggs, the salt evens out.)

4) Once the eggplant and ground beef mixture is cooled, beat the eggs and fold it into the batter with the arrowroot starch. I’m developing a newfound love for arrowroot starch and will pick up a big bag of it the next time I’m at Penzey’s. I added the starch so that the batter wouldn’t be so runny and it would be easier to flip.

5) When ready to fry, heat up a flat pan and grease it with ghee (or whatever oil you use). Using my new pancake rings (which I bought just for this recipe), I filled each ring with about 2 tbsp of the batter and flattened it in each ring.

6) This is where your senses are gonna need to kick in. The flame has to be about medium because you want to make sure the eggs are cooked and the torta is solid enough to turn. You may need to take a fork and poke the batter to see how hard or soft it is before turning. When you’re ready to turn, remove the rings and turn. (Again, be very careful!)

7) Once the flip side is cooked, remove the torta and repeat the process. You don’t need the pancake rings, but I find that it provides better control and it makes it so darn pretty! Here’s the final dish!

This batch made about 18 pieces. Most people will have this with banana ketchup and rice. Personally, I like it plain because I season it with enough soy sauce and pepper that it doesn’t really need anything more.

While this is one of my personal favorite dishes, it’s something I don’t make that often (but that will change soon). I think with the new pancake rings (and adding the arrowroot starch), I can make it more frequently because it made the process so much easier, giving me less breakage. (Um, I do think I need another set of rings, though.) Before these tools, I had to make them one by one in my egg pan. It took FOREVER! I’ve considered getting one of these pans, but they’re not deep enough and don’t have enough give to flip something this delicate. Another reason why I don’t do this dish that often is because when I was living closer to my sister, these puppies disappeared as quickly as I made them! (Seriously. When I’d bring this to my sister’s house, the person who received the container either ate it on the spot or managed to hide it in the wee corners of the fridge. Silly family! Torta is for sharing!)

As I’ve said before, everyone has their own method to the madness. I’ve had different versions of torta before: with tomatoes, with the eggplan still in tact, with no meat (gasp!), etc. This happens to be the version I like because I grew up with this.  So… what’s your version like?

Live deliciously!

-joanne

current addictions

29 Feb

For this post, I want to share a few things that I’m totally addicted to. First off, I’m currently addicted to listening to the Paleo Summit, that’s going on from now til March 4th. It’s a series of radio interviews with varios experts in Paleo lifestyles. Each day, there is a different set of audio interviews that are posted. These interviews are available for only twenty-four hours. When the summit is done, the interviews and transcripts will be available for sale. I’m loving the plethora of information because the organizer has set up a diverse set of speakers, some who contradict each other. If you have the time, check it out!

As I probably mentioned before (maybe not), I’m currently addicted to Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. Admittedly, I own quite a few paleo cookbooks, but this is the one that I use ALL THE TIME.

There are several reasons why I love Well Fed so much. First, there’s a ton of variety. I’m never bored with the recipes because she lists ways to vary the them so that you can potentially make two to four different dishes using the same components. Second, it’s a true paleo cookbook. I like that Joulwan shows that paleo cooking can be strict, yet delicious. Third, she introduces some simple, but effective cooking techniques such as brining chicken to make sure it stays moist and emphasizing that chili needs to simmer for two hours to ensure deliciousness. Take it from me, she’s TOTALLY RIGHT! Third, her recipes are really easy. Fourth, she has a section where she shows how you can cook/prep for the week, making paleo eating very do-able. (Yes. Treating cooking like a CrossFit WOD definitely helps with making home-cooked meals manageable and efficient!) Fifth, she has a cooking style that I can relate to. I’m someone who isn’t good at following strict recipes. I don’t trust recipes. I take for granted that most cooks won’t share their secrets. Therefore, cooking is about 10% recipe and 90% instinct and soul. Luckily, Joulwan’s directions are great! But they also give you room to experiment. She provides the base ideas and you, the budding paleo cook can run wild. Pretty awesome!

Finally, the reason why I’m addicted to Well Fed is because it introduced me to my next addiction: Penzeys Spices! OMG!OMG!OMG!HOLYJEEBUS!OMG! For those of you who don’t know, Penzeys is a store (and website) that sells spices. That’s it. Just spices. Thing is, it sells deliciously fresh and totally inspiring spices! Luckily, there’s a Penzeys in Menlo Park. At my last visit, I picked up a few things. Aren’t these things just beautiful?

I have to say that shopping at Penzeys has totally inspired my inner chef. First off, it prompted me to re-organize my spice cabinet. Check it out, y’all! Isn’t she gorgeous? FYI – I get my spices in various places. As long as there is a Penzeys nearby, I’ll always go there first. However, I also shop for spices at Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus World Market. Though I have some stuff from Costco, I’m going to stop that because there’s no reason for me to have two pounds of cinnamon. Really. There isn’t.

With my spice rack all revamped, I’ve been really inspired in the kitchen. Here are a few results of this weekend’s cooking adventures. After a conversation with the Manpanion about my eating goals, I told him that I respect his love for carbs and such. Just because I’m trying to be better at a paleo/primal diet doesn’t mean he has to suffer. However, I do want to know that I’m feeding him well. (Yes. I pack him lunch everyday. I’m awesome like that.) I explained that he would see a few changes in his meals. Primarily, I’m cutting out bread, noodles, and pasta. Instead, I’m packing him potatoes (the colored ones, not the Idaho ones), yams, squash, and other friendly starches. He trusts my cooking senses, but will miss the rice. I cooked these seasoned red potatoes to pair with the pot of chili I made.

I swear this next dish tastes better than the photo looks. I wanted to make a creamy Italian-inspired dish. I make a mean alfredo, but I wanted to create something that had those sensibilities, but was (mostly) dairy free. Using coconut milk and two different cheese-flavored spices (they have minimal amounts of cheese, so this dish isn’t 100% paleo), I created this creamy chicken and vegetable dish. It turned out fantastic! Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact recipe. Let me think about this and I’ll post the “recipe” of this dish soon.

And there you have it. A few of my current addictions…

Live deliciously!

-joanne

crepes, glorious crepes!

20 Feb

When I lived in the Philippines a few years ago, one of the restaurants I used to frequent was Bacolod Chicken Inasal, introduced to me by my cousin Ofelia. My favorite dish was their fresh lumpia, or lumpiang ubod. My measure of fresh lumpia (or lumpiang sariwa) is my mother’s, which is filled with pork, shrimp, tofu, veggies, and topped with a peanut and garlic sauce. My mother makes the GREATEST lumpia wrapper. No joke.

The lumpiang ubod at Bacolod Chicken Insasal was very different from what my mom makes because it was small and required no sauce. The taste was simple, just fresh heart of palm, garlic, and some other ingredients that my palate can’t quite identify, wrapped in a crepe. After sifting through my old photos from the Philippines, I’m sad to report that I don’t have a single image of these delicious treats. The closest I’ve found online is here (be sure to scroll down).

Given my love for fresh lumpia, I’ve been trying to find a paleo friendly recipe for crepes (the filling is paleo). Well folks, I think I found it here. I used this recipe and modified by replacing the water with olive oil (a tip from my mom’s recipe!). For fresh lumpia (or savory crepes), add a teaspoon of garlic salt. For sweet or dessert crepes, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Fill as needed. Depending on how thick you make them, you can get about 12 crepes or so.

In truth, I haven’t gotten around to making fresh lumpia. I will say that given the texture and flavor of these crepes, they will work wonders with fresh lumpia.

However, I did make dessert crepes for the Manpanion on Valentine’s Day. His weren’t exactly paleo. For the filling, I sauteed bananas in a touch of coconut oil, making sure they were slightly charred (he likes semi-burnt things). I then spread some mascarpone cheese inside a crepe and placed the freshly charred bananas on top and rolled away. From there, I topped it with cinnamon and vanilla/honey crystals. Here is the result:

It should be noted that the crepes were made on an eight inch nonstick pan and one banana was good enough to fill these three crepes. My VDay crepes, were a little more paleo. I took 1 cup of frozen wild blueberries and slow cooked them with the juice of one Meyer lemon and 1/2 cup coconut milk until it lightly bubbled. My beauties are pictured below. It should be noted that this was quite a bit of filling. I’d say it could satisfy about 6 crepes or so.

A final note… There seems to be some debate about whether arrowroot powder/starch is paleo. With that, I also experimented with this recipe, using coconut flour. My final verdict? I prefer the first recipe with arrowroot starch. It tastes better, has smoother texture, and holds up well even after storing for a few days. The coconut flour one breaks too easy and it has a bit of a gritty texture.

Live deliciously!

-joanne