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skillet chocolate chip

18 Mar

Friday night was spent grading final papers and baking whole wheat chocolate chip skillet cookie.  Never thought I’d say this ever, but I actually enjoyed reading almost all of my students’ papers.  Graded all of them in one sitting!  Reading these papers and getting nice e-mails from students are the only things that keep me going these days.  It feels really nice to see that most of them have a good grasp of hard theoretical concepts.  More than what I understood when I first read those materials in undergrad!  Guess the burn out from teaching is worth it.  Oh, baking and cooking non-stop has been helping too!

Back to the cookie.  Thanks to 101 Cookbooks for the recipe, which I followed completely.  No modifications except for using chocolate chips than chunks.  So the first time I tried these cookie, I was not impressed at all.  I was looking for that caramelized  taste.  But this cookie actually get better with time.  It’s so good a day or two later.  Made with whole wheat flour.  It’s almost healthier than the regular kind and the whole wheat flour brings in a natural nutty flavor without the addition of nuts.  Next time, I might caramelize half of the butter first and do the America’s Test Kitchen approach in making chocolate chip cookies.  By the way, America’s Test Kitchen recipe is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever made so far.

I love my cast iron skillet!  Not only is it affordable but it is a total workhorse.  I have made the perfect ribeye, pizza, pancakes, etc.  I can make almost anything with it.  The only part I don’t like about my skillet is that I have to clean it right away after using or it will rust.  Here are some awesome tips on how to use it and how to take care of it.

thank you

14 Mar

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This awesome cookbook arrived in the mail today.  I was totally surprised since it has my name and address on it only I never ordered the book in the first place.  There was no receipt, no inscription, nothing at all to let me know who it came from.  It took me all day, a lot of text messages, and even several phone calls to finally figure out the culprit.  Good one.

But the thought and act of kindness that came with this surprise couldn’t have come in a better time.  It’s the end of winter quarter.  I’m burnt out and my spirits are starting to get low.  Dearest mystery person, thank you for making my day today.  This gesture means a lot to me.

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Guess this means we’ll be taking up the cookbook challenge come spring quarter. Quickly browsing through the recipes so far, it feels like my advisor just told me to read Of Grammatology in one day and take another day to write a ten page analysis of it.  I mean this is a serious cookbook that tells you how to make your own ramen broth from scratch.  Did you know making your own broth takes at least 16 hours?  And it involves making your own bacon.  I think I’ll start with the fried chicken.  But then again a 16 hour broth sounds better than a nine hour qualifying exam.

It’s going to be so much fun, I’m excited!  I think humanities doctorate programs should start handing out dual degrees–one on an academic subject and another one on cooking.  Seems like so many academics become really great cooks to cope with the intellectually demanding lifestyle of academia.

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

whole wheat pancakes

12 Mar

Few years ago, a friend of mine made me pancakes when I was visiting her and her family.  She made these delicious pancakes that she said she got from Alton Brown.  Since I bought this huge bag of whole wheat flour to make the coconut muffins, I thought of experimenting with mixing whole wheat and all purpose flour together.

This recipe turned out really well.  Nice, fluffy, and tasty.  Although, I made  a slight mistake of putting a little too much more salt and baking powder than the recipe calls for.  I really shouldn’t be doing math in the morning when I just woke up.

This is a great basic pancake recipe that one can create wonders with such as adding chocolate chips, blueberries, etc.  Maybe one can even add macadamia nuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, and even substitute coconut oil instead of the butter?  I’ll have to experiment with this idea next time.

Whole Wheat Pancake Flour Mix

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown

4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix all together.  Keep in a well sealed container.  Use within 3 months.

Pancake Batter Recipe

2 eggs separated
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups of the Pancake Mix above
butter to grease the pan

Beat the egg yolks and buttermilk together.

Beat the egg whites and melted butter.  Make sure the butter is slightly cooled.

Combine the buttermilk and melted butter mixture together.

Combine with wet and dry ingredients together.  Do not over mix.  Cook over a buttered skillet or griddle.

green tea mochi cake

11 Mar

I’ve been on a baking roll because I need to feel that I am accomplishing something right now.  I’ve been wanting to try this recipe but it makes a huge pan of mochi and I actually don’t like eating what I make.  I made these for my students for our last section and they seemed to enjoy it.  I think adding unsweetened coconut on the batter would work well.  Even better would be a plain mochi with macapuno filling.  Espresso flavored mochi would work well too.  I wonder if ube flavored mochi would taste good?

Green Tea Mochi Cake

Adapted from Gourmet via New Asian Cuisine

1 lb box of mochiko flour or 3 cups of sweet rice flour
2 1/4 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of matcha powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
5 large eggs
1 stick of butter melted and slightly cooled

Preheat oven at 350 degrees, grease a 9×13 pan.

Stir together rice flour, sugar, baking powder, matcha powder, and salt.

Mix together coconut milk, milk, eggs, and butter.

Combine wet and dry ingredients together.  Pour in the pan.  Don’t forget to tap the pan in the counter to get rid of air bubbles.

The recipe says bake for an hour and a half but mine were done in an hour.  So make sure to check after 50 minutes to avoid overcooking.  Then again our oven is from the turn of the century and tends to cook things quickly.  I ended up having to cut out all the edges because they were almost burnt.  With minor modifications such as adding more green tea powder and adding less sugar, this recipe turned out well and the mochi was tasty.

triple coconut muffins

8 Mar

When I get annoyed, cranky, and stressed out, I bake or cook then I feel so much better afterwards. I was having one of those days and in academia those days can be pretty often. Cooking and baking are instant gratification. Ideas and papers take a long time to come together while a muffin is done in an hour or less!  The more complex the idea I’m working with or the more stressed out I am, the more labor intensive cooking I do.

I’ve been planning on making these with friends but I couldn’t wait.  Sorry!  These muffins turned out amazing.  None of that cloyingly sweet fake coconut taste.  It’s light, fluffy, moist, and full of coconut flavor.  As already pointed out at Smitten Kitchen, this recipe is very versatile and can be modified in so many ways, one can add semi-sweet chocolate chips or even macadamia nuts.  I love it plain and simple since coconut is already rich.

Recipe with my mess

Batter.  Silicone spatulas are awesome, from baking to cooking, won’t scratch your cookware!  Very versatile and practical.

Before

After

Lightly golden brown.  Baked perfectly!

Coconut Muffins
Adapted and modified from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup and 1 tbsp. sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.

Mix coconut oil, egg, vanilla, and coconut milk.  Make sure the coconut oil is cooled before you mix in the egg otherwise it will cook the egg.  To quickly turn an egg to room temperature just dunk it on warm tap water for a little bit.

Stir together flours, salt, baking powder, and shredded coconut.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients together.  Do not over mix.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Mine took a little bit longer to bake so just keep checking.

Happy baking!

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

beef short ribs adobo in coconut milk

26 Feb

Seasoning and pan searing the short ribs until golden brown.  Get the beef plate not the English cut short rib.

Short rib on top of Jasmine rice and sautéed kale courtesy of MF (aka Octavia)

Octavia: “We have no footmen to serve the dinner!”

Beef Short Ribs Adobo
Adapted from Memories of Philippine Kitchens

3 Tbs. canola oil
3 lbs. beef short ribs, cut in equal pieces
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 head garlic, cloves peeled, separated, and smashed
3 bay leaves
3 whole birdseye chiles or red pepper flakes (optional)

Season ribs with salt and pepper and pan sear. Transfer ribs to a plate and pour off the oil. Return ribs to the saucepan add all the rest of ingredients plus the remaining 1 tsp. of pepper. Bring mixture to a boil then slow cook until the meat falls off the bone about 3 hours. Skim excess fat as you cook. Take out ribs and reduce the sauce until thickened.

This dish was absolutely delicious but I think the vinegar came out too strong for my taste and overpowered the creaminess and sweetness of the coconut milk.  For next time, I’ll only include 3/4 cups of sherry vinegar.

Tamarind Martini Cocktails
by HM (aka Hotdish)

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Can there be anymore perfect cocktails for the night?  I absolutely loved the chili powder and sugar on the rim.

Homemade Coconut Ice Cream topped with Coconut Flakes
by AK (aka Maplescone)


One of the best coconut ice cream I’ve ever had hands down.  As Octavia aptly puts it, “it has a very sincere coconut taste.”  The coconut flakes add a nice texture and balance to the smoothness of the ice cream.  I didn’t care if I lost and came in third.  The ice cream made up for it!

Nothing beats good food, good company, and a game of scrabble.  Hope you all had a great Saturday evening.

-FM (aka Flamin’ Fritzie)

dry roasted baby back ribs

21 Feb

Pan searing the baby back ribs since they ran out of short ribs at the store.  I love my new cast iron pan but it is hot and heavy!

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Finished product.

Roasted Pork Short Ribs
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc

Short Ribs
Sea Salt
Pepper
Canola Oil

Make sure the meat is at room temperature. Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 20 minutes for the meat to absorb the seasonings otherwise the salt and pepper will just end up on the pan. Pan sear the meat until golden brown on all sides. Roast in the oven, 350 degrees for about two hours. Let the ribs rest somewhere warm for at least 30 minutes. Longer resting time will yield more tender meat!  I’m now waiting for my dinner to finish resting.

In the meanwhile, I made some enselada as a side salad and dipping sauce: vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, red onion, and tomatoes.

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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