Oatmeal, Dried fruits and Toasted Peanuts Cookies

 

dried fruits and oatmeal cookies

 

As I wait, or during lull times, I like to nibble on little treats. Mostly I prefer savory biscuits but sweet treats are always welcome.

Oatmeal, Dried fruits and Toasted Peanuts Cookies
(Makes about 24 cookies Prep time about 30 minutes Baking Time 8-10 minutes)
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups quick cooking oatmeal
½ cup dried fruits (I used a combination of melon, papaya, pineapple)
½ cup pan toasted peanuts

 

Based on a recipe by Roshan Santani
Procedure: Toasting the peanuts
1. Toast peanuts. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Slowly place 1 cup of raw peanuts, skin on, and toast for about 3-5 minutes or until black spots start to appear. Turn off heat.

pan roasted peanuts

2. Lay a dry towel flat on a table. Place the toasted peanuts on the towel, wrap the towel over them then gently rub the skin off. To separate the skin and nuts, use a hair blower to easily send the skin flying.

Procedure: Baking the cookies
1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture at a slow speed. Stir in oatmeal, dried fruits and toasted nuts.
3. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling racks.

dried fruits mix

Rafte (Simmered Pork Belly)

Rafte (Simmered Pork Belly)

I’ve been a fan of NHK World since our cable provider graciously added it to our subscription. I watch it religiously. Design Talks, Seasoning the Seasons are among my favorites. On Sundays I love Cool Japan but my favorite would be Mondays, all the cooking shows are lined up all in one day. Yay!

Here’s the very first recipe I successfully tried and served to the family. It was divine. Really good. I don’t know where the word “rafte” came from and was not interested in knowing until now. Now that I am typing this post and I feel stupid for not trying to find it out. So hold on a minute…

Ooookay…I tried and it gave me a headache. So let’s just leave this one alone for now.

Rafte (Simmered Pork Belly)
1 kl pork belly
1 knob ginger
Water (to cover the pork belly)
5 cups awamori sake ( 1000 ml)
30 g soft brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce (50 ml)

Procedure
1. Put pork into a pan, cook for about 10 minutes after water boils.
2. Wash the pork and remove residue.
3. Put pork back into the pan, add awamori and cover with water.
4. Add crushed ginger into pan, put the lid on and bring to a boil.
5. Open the lid a little and simmer for 2 hours or until half the liquid is gone.
6. Skim remaining residue. Remove pork then wash under cold running water to remove residue and cut into chunks.
7. Add soft brown sugar to the soup. Put pork back in and simmer for 30 minutes partially covered.
8. Take pork and ginger out.
9. Cool the soup in the refrigerate for half an hour.
10. When the fat solidifies, scoop it out carefully. You may use the lard in other recipes.
11. Put pork back into pan and add water just enough to cover pork.
12. Add soy sauce, cover and simmer for one hour.

 

Here’s the direct site for the show. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/tv/kitchen/index.html

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

My dog loves pastry and this is one of her favorites. I’ve been trying real hard to bake anything with no chocolate in them so I could share this with her.
She loves it and I love giving it to her that for some reason I’m beginning to plan what to bake according to her tastes.
Heh.

Lemon Bars

For the Shortbread
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup butter

Procedure
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line the bottom and side of an 8×12 inch rectangular baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to extend over the sides for lifting the pastry after baking,
In a bowl, blend butter and sugar. Add flour and mix just until dough holds together. Press dough in the pan to form a crust. Bake for 15 minutes.

For the lemon filling
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups white sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Procedure:
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until thick and pale. Add flour then juice, mix until blended. Pour over hot crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until top is firm. Remove from oven and cool.
When cool, carefully lift from the pan using the extended paper. Slice into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Sweet Chili Sauce

I wasn’t paying much attention. Not that my full attention was necessary, it’s just that my idle time has become riddled with things I missed. Things that for the most part is unnecessary.
I waited for a couple of weeks before I decided to finish this post hoping I could share anything that might be significant to someone out there. So far, nothing. So I’m sharing something that is significant to me.
Last June, I had scheduled to meet with my doctor for a routine check up. I wasn’t feeling well, my chest hurts for no apparent reason and that doesn’t happen often. That day, I learned about the sudden death of James Gandolfini. It suddenly dawned to me that I had that sick feeling because an actor whom I respect and really love has passed.
He will always be remembered.
***
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of babysitting youngest friend (he’s 2 and a quarter) Shem. He’s a handful mind you but as it turned out he only wanted to stay with me while his mom is at work. The store’s not that busy so I obliged. It was fun all right. I taught him things like, asking for more in Spanish, saying please in French and apologizing for being rude. That boy learned A LOT OF RUDE things via television.
I was never a fan of animated shows even as a child so I couldn’t relate. Not exactly, I do watch a few episodes here and there everytime my brother’s home but that’s about it. My brother’s old enough to understand that it is not a good idea to knock someone’s teeth off using pans and grills. I was proud that in that few hours I was with Shem, I made him apologize sincerely (melted my heart in an instant) with a distinct “I’m sorry” forlorn and all then his mom came to pick him up and he’s all back to his old ways.
His mom tries so hard reform his ways but I guess that’s a part of growing up. I was told he “prefers” to show off in front of crowds.
Here’s what we did:
1. Watched the first 2 minutes of El Dorado. He got annoyed that the horse wasn’t IN EVERY SCENE.
2. Chased Anna and Colin while I carried him. He goes stiff everytime the dog is within breathing distance.
3. Had Yogurt and muffin and fried sweet potato for mid-day snack. Him only.
4. Had an argument about a picture. It was a lion he insisted it was a tiger. It went on and on. Then he got bored and asked about the snake instead (I showed him an old CD copy of The Wild)

The best thing about that half day was all the hugs, kisses and smiles that I got. Nothing beats that especially since he’s not that affectionate at all.

sweet chili sauce

Recipe: Sweet Chilli Sauce
Ingredients
• 7 bird’s eye chillies (see notes after the recipe for an explanation about the amount)
• 3 cloves of garlic
• a thumb-sized knob of ginger
• 1 c. of white sugar
• 2 tsps. of salt
• 1 tbsp. of lemon juice
• 1/2 tsp. of lemon zest

1. Peel the ginger and garlic. Cut off the tops and ends of the chillies. Chop the ginger, garlic and chillies.

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2. Place the sugar in a thick bottomed pot. Add in the chopped ginger, garlic and the salt.
3. Pour in the lemon juice and add the lemon zest.

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4. Add in the cup of water. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and salt.
5. Set over medium heat, bring to the boil then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for 12 minutes.
6. Do not cook the sauce more than 12 minutes to keep it on a syrupy state. As the sauce cools the sauce will get thicker and pourable.
7. Pour and store in a jar. Cover and keep in the fridge.

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Notes:
Please vary the amount of chillies according to your preference. I picked a different variety of chilli from what I usually use so it wasn’t as spicy as I wanted it to be.

Pad Thai

I’ve always been partial to Tom Yum Goong, that sour and spicy shrimp soup that expresses the feelings and thoughts of Thailand. I love soup it wasn’t a difficult choice. Then came Dr. Cal Lightman. His daughter Emily once said that Pad Thai is his favourite. At that time began my interest to make the dish.
Tamarind is the most crucial ingredient in pad thai. As I’ve seen in a handful of Travel and Living shows featuring Thai cuisine. The accompanying protein and vegetables may vary according to your personal taste but the sauce strictly requires tamarind. That’s where the sour component comes from.
It reminded me of that time when I was around six or eight when I’d run over to the neighbour’s lawn and pick ripe sweet and tangy tamarind from the ground. Crack the peel and it will reveal a thick, sticky paste like substance that we liked to dip in a bit of white sugar.
That was a long time ago. Now it has become scarce and I’ve always found it ridiculous that I had to go to the supermarket just get myself some. Good thing I found someone who could give me a bag of tamarind for free. Anytime I want. So Pad Thai for lunch it is.

To Make Pad Thai Sauce:
1. Make tamarind paste by mixing 1 cup of wet tamarind with 2 cups of hot water. Mash with a potato masher until the tamarind forms a paste and then strain to get all of the seeds and veins out.
2. Mix 1/4 cup tamarind paste, 1/4 cup palm sugar (brown sugar is a good substitute), 1/4 fish sauce AND chopped chillies. This measurement is to achieve an equally sour, sweet and salty sauce with enough amount of spice you can manage. You may however adjust the taste according to your preference.

Ingredients:

150 grams rice noodles
1 medium sized burger patty, cooked then roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried baby shrimps
1 small carrot, julienned
two shallots, peel then chop
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a small piece of ginger, grated
Pad Thai sauce
2 tbsps. of sesame oil (vegetable oil will do)
Garrnish with:
chopped dry roasted peanuts
cilantro, parsley or in my case a small handful of mint

Procedure:
Cook the rice noodles in boiling water for about 4-6 minutes. Drain then immediately plunge in iced water then drain again. Set aside.

Heat sesame oil in a pan. Sauté the shallots, garlic then ginger until aromatic. Add the baby shrimps. After 30 seconds add the chopped burger patty. Stir fry for about 30 seconds. Season with fish sauce.

Add the rice noodles. Pour enough pad thai sauce to coat all the ingredients. Stir and toss everything, don’t allow the mixture to dry.

Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with chopped peanuts and mint (again, it is preferred to use either cilantro or parsley).

Serve hot.
This dish is best eaten while piping hot. If I were given enough time I could’ve have chosen to use shrimp and some scallops instead of the burger patty. A handful of onion leaves would’ve have been a good addition as well. I’d also crack an egg into the pan and scramble it then toss it with the noodles that I pushed aside for a bit. Then perhaps some crunchy bean sprouts and chilli flakes as an additional garnish as well.
The things I missed. Then again, the most important ingredient in Pad Thai is the pad thai sauce so for now I’m good to go.

Custard Pie

I’ve been at loss for words and ideas as of late. I’ve found a bit of free non-sleepy state time this past week , I’ve finished my New Year’s first post and is excited to post it. So why didn’t I post it? I was looking for inspiration! Really I was.
So I turned to twitter. Yes, twitter. I follow and read tweets from random people (like myself) and celebrities and news updates. I find it enlightening and relaxing to read ranging topics right? At least I think so.
Exciting and funny things happened to me on twitter! I interacted with (as with their other fans) CL and Dara of 2NE1, G-Dragon of Big Bang and Yoo Ara of Hello Venus. I couldn’t care less even if I were told, “what if that’s not them?’ I was like, “No I’m sure it’s them.”

I share to you my Custard Pie.

Thin Custard Pie
For the Flaky Pie Dough (1 9-inch pie or 2 20×2 CM tart pan)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
6 oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 oz shortening, cubed
1/4-1/2 cups ice water
For the custard
6 large eggs (whites and yolks)
1 cup condensed milk
1 cup full cream milk ( the ready to drink kind)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp lemon rind, finely grated (or lime rind)

Make ahead.
For the flaky pie dough. In a bowl, place flour and salt. Whisk slightly to combine. Sprinkle the cubed butter and shortening. Next sprinkle the ice water. Using a pastry cutter or two bread knives cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it forms close into a ball. Using a clear plastic bag, tightly seal the dough and freeze for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven at least 15 minutes before baking. After two hours, take the frozen dough out of the freezer. Once ready lay on a floured surface then flatten using a rolling pin. Lay on top of your pie/tart pan and carefully cover the pie/tart pan.

Custard:

Pour the prepared custard over the pie dough then bake for 30 minutes THEN another 20 fan forced. ( I honestly wouldn’t know how to convert that into regular baking. You see, I was using a small convection oven. My oven and I named Pyonpyon are still in the getting to know each other stage. To be helpful please check http://www.casaveneracion.com and search for perfect custard cake” because that’s where I based my custard base.)
To check if it’s already cooked. Lightly press the custard with the back side of a spoon, if the custard keeps its shape then its cooked. It would feel like the top of a freshly baked dinner roll. Soft and steady.

This season

I’ve always believed that Christmas and New Year is synonymous to retrospection. To look back and reflect on the past year’s events is tradition to some and commencement to most. As for me it is not something I’ve actively done ever since I realized Santa isn’t real and that was ages ago. what can I say that revelation tore apart my well built Christmas spirit. Oh Santa, dear Santa, why weren’t you real. Asking that might be enlightening but I guess it won’t be answered, ever, because just like I just said Santa isn’t real. NOT. REAL.
Before I get hysterical and feed on my sad 10 year old Christmas memory I’ll take a quick deep breath and enjoy a spoonful of a pastel colour frosting. Ah, now that’s better.

In retrospect.

The Philippines

We, the Filipinos were tested harshly and hardly this year. Not that its something new. Despite the recurrence of tragedies, spun by nature or delivered by humans, we stayed strong and faithful that once again we will rise up and start again. The most recent tragedy that devastated Mindanao (where I reside) remains fresh as it happened close to this season. Watching early evening newscasts says that some families in the greatly affected areas like Cateel, still decided to celebrate Christmas, a feat not everyone who’ve been beaten and broken can do.
News that caught my attention:
January: Chief Justice Renato Corona’s Impeachment trial. ( The man never seemed to waver after all that and during all that.)
February: The 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Negros and Cebu.
July: Dolphy’s death. ( It was expected due to his deteriorating health BUT still sad due to his stellar and one of a kind comedic talent. No one can make anyone laugh as hard as Dolphy can, no matter how corny the joke is.)
August: DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s sudden death. ( I honestly don’t know ANYTHING about Sec. Robredo until his death hit the news.)
September: Cybercrime Prevention Act was officially signed into law by Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III. (Everyone’s still in discussion for this one.)
December:
Manny Pacquiao’s epic loss against Juan Manuel Marquez. ( Call it a lucky punch all you want Juan Manuel Marquez still CLEARLY won the match [and the fight]. No matter, Manny, you’re still a hero to the Filipinos.)
Typhoon Pablo devastates Mindanao.

Entertainment

Local Scene:
Walang Hanggan (TV)
A phenomenon. It lived up to its title. Endless. Infinity. A truly beautifully crafted drama series helmed by ABS-CBN and its perfect team of staff and actors. The Filipino viewing public do love stories centered on ill-fated lovers. This series made me fall deeply inlove with the actor playing Nathan, Paulo Avelino. Man, that boy is magnificent. Where has he been all this years? Yeah, I know he used to work exclusively for GMA 7. Anyways, he’s here (ABS-CBN) now and I am glad. Really glad.
No Other Woman (Film)(2011*, I know but I just really wanted to write something about it.)
This film started a trend. That one sentence says it all. I loved Ann Curtis in this film. It’s a typical story of a cheating husband who (I think) didn’t really struggle in making his choice between his wife and other woman. What I applaud is HOW the story was told and spun for the movie goers to enjoy and indulge in. Personally I was more interested in their dialogues. If you haven’t noticed it yet, the country is under the “one liner AND/OR witty comebacks” attack. Perhaps helmed by Jose Marie Viceral known widely as Vice Ganda.
The Mistress (Film)
Now this movie, I’ll choose-without skipping a beat- over No Other Woman. Five words and a comma. Bea Alonzo, John Lloyd Cruz. It’s no longer a surprise that Star Cinema makes worthwhile films. This one is no exception. Although I had an inkling that Bea Alonzo is the mistress of John Lloyd Cruz it didn’t stop me from watching the film more than once. Mr Ronaldo Valdez’s portrayal of a wealthy and lonely man who needed someone he can require to be there for him was subtly played. There is one thing that annoyed me though, that song that played during Bea and John Lloyd lovemaking scene was too loud. Take it figuratively and literally. Although the later might be due to the theatre’s sound system. Ah, the nuances. I specially loved the ending. I really did. Most of us wished that they could at least get together but I firmly believe that the ending fit the film and story perfectly.

Suddenly it’s Magic (Film)
Cupcakes and Mario Maurer? Count me in. A retelling of some sorts of the Hollywood film Notting Hill. Shot both in the Philippines and Thailand starring Erich Gonzales and Mario Maurer. Fine, the film may lack what i usually find compelling and smouldering in a film but hey, this is a commercial film. It was cute, cuddly, sweet (not because of the cupcakes) and refreshing. The movie delivered what it promised. And I loved it.
to be continued…

As for food, I learned and earned a lot this year. I’m looking forward to a more vibrant, delicious and delectable year ahead.

Happy Holidays.
Merry Christmas.
Maligayang Pasko.