Missing Spain

July 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’ve been remiss, forgive me. This is the real world catching up with me here. It’s been a busy few months since I got back from a month-long trip that started in Casablanca and ended in Madrid with Lisbon, among other cities, in between. And now I am missing the flavors of Spain.

GranadaGranada

SevilleSeville

Spain. A country of soaring mountains, beautiful cities, towns and villages, outstanding art and architectures, and a diverse cuisine left by the Moors, Romans and the Greeks.

cochinilloCochinillo before the chopping ritual

dessertCoffee and dessert in a coffee shop in Ronda

Although very familiar to me, its cuisine still managed to leave a lasting impression. One dish that persists three months after our pleasurable acquaintance is Salmorejo, a variation of one of Andalusia’s famous dish, Gazpacho. A close cousin, if you will.

Like gazpacho, it is a cold tomato soup, only thicker. While gazpacho has tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and onion, the vegetable present in Salmorejo is only tomato, and it uses garlic, not onions. Not as popular as gazpacho outside of Cordoba, where this soup originated, it has lately been gaining more recognition in and outside of Spain. Both are excellent summertime dishes, great as a starter or a light meal.

salmorejo

Usually served with hardboiled eggs and Spanish ham (Jamon Serrano or Iberico), I opted for the lighter accompaniment of green grapes and almond, a garnish borrowed from another cold soup, Ajo Blanco.

Salmorejo

Adapted from Food And Wine June 2013 Issue

What You Need:

  • 1 kilo tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups white bread or baguette, crust removed and cubed
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • salt

Garnish:

  • a few seedless green grapes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. roasted almonds, chopped

What You Do:

  1. Scald the tomatoes: Bring to a boil a large pot of salted water. Cut a small cross at the bottom of each tomato. When the water is boiling, add the tomatoes, leave for 30-60 seconds. Remove and immediately place in ice water. The skin will peel right off.
  2. Cut out the cores of the tomatoes. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the bread cubes. Let stand for 15-minutes until the bread is soft.
  3. Transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor. Pulse with the grated garlic and vinegar until smooth. With the machine on, gradually add in the ¼ olive oil. Season with salt.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with the grapes, almonds and a drizzle of olive oil.

I find that the longer it sits in the fridge, the better the flavors of the ingredients meld. And on a truly hot day, the cold grapes is a burst of refreshing sweetness, combine it with the crunch of the almonds… you know you have a winner here.

For more of Spanish food goodness, check out the article I wrote for Exquise Magazine here.

Eggs…

June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Is it foe or is it friend?  The great egg debate persists.  They say eggs are bad for the heart and have been the subject of criticism and scrutiny for the last few decades.

EggsCredit:  J Sprague DIDer Lesson 4 Supplies

A more recent probe though suggests that this versatile food, the ultimate fast food, has moved from health hazard to dietary recommendation.  No food has had more high and lows for over a decade than the common egg. It is blamed as the culprit for heart disease and strokes, they now say that, yes it does increase cholesterol levels but studies also show that an egg a day for healthy men and women is unlikely to have any real change in heart disease and stroke risk.

IMG_3168

I happen to enjoy, no make that—love eggs—who doesn’t?  It ranks close if not equal to butter on my list.  It is an essential staple that saved many a hard-pressed, lackadaisical night.  But on the flip side, it also is muse to many ingenious dishes.

Baked Eggs with Rosemary, Garlic and Parmesan

(A recipe from the Food Channel)

IMG_3171

You Will Need:

  • ¼ teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • Toasted bread

What You Do:

  1. Preheat broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
  2. Combine garlic, herbs, & Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Carefully crack 2 eggs into small bowls, making sure that the yolk is intact.
  4. Place 2 individual ramekins on a baking sheet.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and ½ teaspoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
  6. Quickly pour 2 eggs into each ramekin and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Place back under the broiler for 5-6 minutes or until white of the eggs are almost cooked.  The eggs will continue to cook after it is taken out of the oven.
  8. Cool for a minute and serve hot with toasted bread.

I had this for lunch, but it can be a great kick-start to the day.  If fresh herbs are a problem, dried herbs work well too.  Reduce them to at least half the amount and you will also get wonderful results.

IMG_3170

My take on this persisting debate:  Eggs are an important source of high quality protein, it is packed with essential nutrients, and a good source of omega 3.  The highest source of protein is in the yolk, they say.  I say the highest source of flavor is in the yolk.  So missing out on the yolk means missing out on the best benefits this tiny piece of heaven has to offer.  And besides, egg whites are really meant for macaroons, yes?

*  Source:  http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Egg_Yolk.html

A Happy New Year!

January 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

Sick during the holidays – how sad is that?  A week after and I am still nursing a bad cough, nose still pretty clogged.  I have so much food from the holidays but appetite eludes me.  So, I ended up with more food than ever before.  I bet the people at reception, maintenance, even the guards won’t ever forget me – either they love me to pieces for all the holiday goodies I brought their way or they are avoiding me by now for dumping so much food on them.

I trekked to the doctor’s clinic last week.  “I need to be well by Saturday”, I told him.  And like a good doctor that he is, I am feeling better now, thank you, although I am still not in creative cooking mode.   Until last night, when I whipped up a pleasant meal of leftovers, which I ate with gusto – and that is a wonderful sign that I am on the road to real recovery.

IMG_2871

I had some fresh mozzarella that needed to be consumed soon, what to do?  I didn’t feel like a pizza or a sandwich.  I didn’t have fresh basil and tomatoes so a salad is out too.  Besides, I wanted something more filling – a first in weeks!

IMG_2869

So, I beat to combine a couple of eggs and a couple of tablespoons of milk.  Sliced the mozzarella.  Washed some leftover spinach my mom sent my way before she left for abroad.  Threw some bacon bits on the pan – I always have bacon, no mater what!!  Then I threw in the spinach, seasoned with salt and pepper.  Poured the egg mixture into the pan as soon as the spinach starts to wilt.  Before turning over, I added the mozzarella cubes.  It’s smoky with a mild cheesy taste.  I think it’s awesome.

IMG_2873

A very belated New Year greetings to everyone.  May you cook more and eat more healthily, be blessed with more opportunities to try new foods and flavors this year.

Are You a Morning Person?

September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Me, I am not.  Snooze is my best friend.  Funny that the sound of the alarm does not exactly wake me up but rather does the opposite.  It’s in the mindset, some say, but I don’t know…

I, however, love breakfast and no matter how late I wake up, I hardly skip it.  On weekdays, I usually have something simple like jam and butter on bread, granola with either milk or yogurt or just yogurt and some fruit – anything that is fast and easy because I’m always late.

Now, breakfast on weekends is a different story.  It usually is more special, grander, prepared with more love and attention.  Eggs are usually reserved for the weekend and I am, at the moment, enchanted with Paprika on eggs.  Not any kind of paprika, mind you.

Although a staple in my spice rack, Paprika was only meant to add color to chicken, stews, potatoes… until Pimentón de la Vera came into my life, that is.  Smoked Paprika from the Tietar River valley in La Vera, Spain changed my concept of Paprika forever.  It is the precious spice used in Spanish chorizo distinctly known for its amazing smoky flavor and aroma.

I am loving it in anything and everything, but most especially on eggs.  They come in 3 variants – dulce (sweet and mild), agridulce (bittersweet and med hot), and picante (hot).  The slightly sweet smokiness of my favorite variant, dulce, perks up the flavor of the eggs.  Makes me excited to wake up in the morning… hmmm, maybe I should try making this on weekdays? 

Credits:  Papers by Simply Kelly Designs

Baked Eggs with Pimentón de la Vera

What You’ll Need

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. unsalted butter
  • Pimenton de la Vera (dulce or picante)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

What You Do

  1. Preheat broiler for 5 minutes and place oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
  2. Crack eggs without breaking the yolks on a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Place cream and butter on a ramekin dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  4. Quickly pour the eggs into the ramekin dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the a few dashes of pimentón.
  5. Return under the broiler for 5-6 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked.  The eggs will continue to cook after taken out of the oven.
  6. Cool for a minute and serve hot with toasted bread.

Avocado and Feta

August 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

I am obsessed with avocados at the moment.  Partly because it is in season and I see them everywhere but mostly because I am loving its über creaminess on almost everything.  It makes for a wonderful dessert when combined with condensed milk and have been greatly enjoying it for decades now.  Some experimenting led me to a new discovery.  Buttery avocado, sharp Feta cheese and peppery Arugula mingle well together.  Finish off with some sliced fresh button mushrooms and honey-mustard dressing and they end up very good friends.

I’ve been occupied lately and I’m afraid I’ve neglected this blog a bit.  But I’ve been working up a storm in my kitchen despite my absence here.  In between work and travelling, I’ve been entertaining on the side so may this whet your appetite, as salads always do, for what’s to come.

Arugula, Avocado and Feta Salad

What You Need:

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

For the Salad

  • Baby arugula
  • 1 medium avocado, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese marinated in oil
  • 4-5 pieces fresh button mushrooms, sliced

What You Do:

In a small bowl, combine mustard, vinegar, honey and salt.  Whisk to blend well.  Add olive oil and whisk vigorously to emulsify.  Adjust according to your taste.

Mix salad ingredients together and toss with vinaigrette.  Makes 3-4 serving.

Note: I like using baby arugula but if this is hard to find, the regular ones are good too.  Feta cheese can be substituted with goat cheese.  Left over roast chicken torn into bite-sized pieces goes well with the salad, as is tuna from the can.

French Toast

April 16, 2012 § 5 Comments

I read somewhere that when you have old bread, make French toast.

I was away for Easter break.  We hopped around the nearby islands, feasted on wonderful food but for the most part, it was lounging at the beach or on a hammock near our cottage with a good book… a perfect getaway from the busy schedule.  A much needed rest, truth to  tell.  I hope yours was as restful as mine.

So I come home and there it was on the fridge, pitifully staring back at me.  “French Toast time”, my thought balloon goes.  Not that I wait for bread to go stale but days old bread make a lovely French Toast.  I like mine a bit crisp on the edges but still soft and creamy in the middle.  The trick is let the bread soak for a minute or 2 and cook it with a fair amount of hot oil.  Adding sugar to the mixture will crisp up those edges.

I like using thickly sliced loaf breads.  I am currently loving the Premium Bread from BreadTalk but baguette or Jipan’s Monroe bread works well too.

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life, Burg’s French Toast is by far, the best French Toast I had ever made.  So addictive I have become, I find every opportunity to make them.  Served hot with butter and Maple syrup – what a way to start the day.

On occasion, I’d sub the maple with fruit jams.  Equally as heavenly.

Making Tiramisu

March 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

Credits:  Papers by Sahlin Studio from the Art and Soul kit and Crystal Wilkerson from the Room Collection kit; Elements by Sahlin Studio from the Art and Soul kit for the lace, Ezane from ScrapMatters’ Life’s Little Surprises kit for the journal.

It’s not just another Saturday – it’s the 3rd  Saturday since I moved to my new place.  It has been 2 weeks of unpacking, arranging and cleaning whenever I’m home.

Today I declared a cleaning and arranging time out.  I just want to rest and appreciate my new home.  To celebrate my moving in – so to speak, I invited some friends over for dessert and coffee after dinner.  I’m not ready to invite them for the real deal.  Kitchen still not ready for that, or should I say, I’m not ready for that… haha!

Anyhow, I made tiramisu, my 2nd attempt actually.  The first one failed because I used our local broas – you know the one I used to make this.  It went all watery on me.  The broas was too light, it soaked up a lot of the espresso;

I went and bought this instead.  It’s much denser and holds well when soaked in liquid.

Tiramisu

What you need:

  • 3 large Eggs, with yolks and whites separated
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone
  • 20 Lady Fingers
  • 1 cup Espresso or Strong Coffee
  • 2 tbsp. Cognac or Brandy
  • 1 cup Cocoa

What you do:

1. Combine 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon Espresso, sugar, and Cognac into the large mixing bowl.

2. Beat 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add Mascarpone and beat 3 to 5 minutes until consistency is smooth.

4. In another bowl, combine 3 egg whites and a pinch of sugar. Beat until mixture forms stiff peaks.

5. Gently fold into Mascarpone mixture.

6. Pour rest of Espresso into a flat dish, dip one side of each Lady Finger, and layer on bottom of serving dish.

7. Spread 1/3 of the Mascarpone mixture and sprinkle with cocoa.

8. Continue layering and finish with a Mascarpone layer.

9. Sprinkle with cocoa and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

This is the way to dazzle, I must say.  A no bake dessert that is impressive in flavors – it’s the Cognac.  Simple enough allowing me lots of time before dinner to relax and enjoy the flat.

Not Quite There Yet

February 28, 2012 § 5 Comments

Exhausting weekend.  No, I have not moved yet but my paintings and most of my furniture has though.  I spent most of last Saturday general cleaning and planning which wall the paintings go.

Tama na ba ma’am, Is this alright?  “Baba pa, taas pa, medyo kanan pa, lower, higher, a little more to the right…” – an example of the weekend I had with the workers.

The grease trap under the kitchen sink leaked, flooding the kitchen.  The drain in the balcony is clogged, the range hood doesn’t have a socket nearby, the lights are not bright enough… problems one wouldn’t know or notice until one is about to move in, I reckon.  It was so exhausting but satisfying at the end of the day.  Seeing that I’m almost there make me jump for joy.

A glimpse of my unfinished living room

While the recent purchases are settled in their own little corner in my new flat, there are the existing things that I own that needs to move with me.  That is no doubt, stressing me out.  Imagine the packing and the unpacking.

I’ve weeded out stuff that I don’t need over the past months.  I’ve sold some, given away many and ate at home so much.  Truth to tell, I’ve stopped stocking up on food.  I’ve been consuming stuff from the freezer and the cupboard (which would mainly be canned and bottled products).  The less you have, the less you’ll need to transfer, yes?  I’ve made some progress… I’ve consumed the last of my canned tuna and with it I made a quick lunch just to get us by.

Tuna with Fried Kesong Puti

I used this recipe sans the arugula and mushrooms.

You will need:

  • 1 can tuna in Olive Oil
  • ½ a tablespoon capers, slightly crushed
  • A dash chili flakes (optional)
  • A few strands fresh dill, (I snip it with a scissor)
  • Any bread will do; I used English Muffins but Ciabatta or sliced baguette will do just fine.
  • Kesong Puti (Filipino fresh cheese), sliced

What you do:

  1. Sauté the capers with a bit of oil from the can until it start to crisp.
  2. Stir in the tuna with half of the oil from the can, adding more depending on your preference (I like mine drier).
  3. Add the dill and let it simmer for a minute. Season with chili flakes, salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, pan-fry the sliced cheese in hot oil until golden brown.
  5. Spread tuna mixture on your choice of bread and top with the fried kesong puti.

Enjoy!  And being a new member of the Kulinarya Cooking Club (yay!), I was inspired to fuse in a Filipino ingredient on this dish.  It has inspired me too to learn to cook more Filipino dishes.  In my attempt to whip up new dishes, I’ve neglected our own native dishes along the way.  So here’s to more Filipino (inspired) dishes on this blog.   🙂

Happiness

February 7, 2012 § 4 Comments

Is it February already?  Boy, what a hectic start of the year.  It’s performance review again at work and I’m in the middle of moving with last-minute touches and changes here and there.  So you can imagine what’s been keeping me busy lately.  Except for the one weekend I was in Laos, I haven’t had much of a weekend since 2012 set in but my new flat is getting to look livable by the day. Not without glitches, I’m afraid.  I hope I am still friends with my contractor-friend when we’re done.  I wanted to move in 2 months ago but… well it didn’t happen.

Another problem came up today.  I could sulk and brood about it but I chose to look at the brighter side.  Today, I purchased the most beautiful and perhaps the most valuable piece of furniture I so far own.  That makes me happy.  And when I’m happy I make Tuna Mushroom Pasta.

Canned tuna never tasted so good.  I passed by the deli before heading home and was even happier to find fresh dill.

This must be God’s way of telling me that everything is not all that bad.  The problem will be solved (hopefully tomorrow) but tonight, we will celebrate.

Tuna Mushroom Pasta

You will need:

  • 1 can tuna in Olive Oil
  • 3-4 shiitake or brown mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ a tablespoon capers, slightly mashed
  • Baby Arugula
  • A dash chili flakes (optional)
  • A few strands fresh dill, (I snip it with a scissor)
  • 200-250 gram pasta of your choice

What you do:

Cook the pasta as the pack directs.  Meanwhile, sauté the capers with a bit of oil from the can, add the mushrooms and sauté for another minute or until the capers starts to crisp.  Stir in the tuna with half of the oil from the can, adding more depending on your preference (I like mine drier).  Add the dill and a bunch of arugula.  Let it simmer until the arugula starts to wilt. Season with chili flakes, salt and freshly cracked pepper.  I chose to have it with pasta, but this dish goes well with pasta, rice, and oatmeal or even on top of sliced baguette.

Everyone knows that the saltiness of the caper and the citrusy burst of fresh dill is perfect complement to tuna.  We added a new dimension as the mushroom lends an earthy flavor, the arugula some tangy zest while the chili boosts all these up.  Go ahead, give it a try and let this simple dish give a bit of happiness today.

Great Holiday Leftover Ideas: Pulled Chicken Melt

January 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Every year, Christmas passes and stuffs your refrigerator with so much food.  What do you do with all these?  A friend’s solution to his “too much food” dilemma is to throw a party to serve all the cold cuts, cheeses, hams and wine he received over the holidays.  A cool idea, don’t you think?

Overwhelmed with the pile of food I have in my refrigerator, I noted to myself to eat at least half of what’s in it before I leave for a trip next week.  Not an easy task really, but I shall try.

Knowing that I love pulled pork, my US-based cousin home for the holidays, brought this for me.  She said the pork was not available but this was just as yummy.

I usually have them the traditional way – on a bun but I didn’t have any.  I made Pulled Chicken Melt instead with leftover Fontina on sliced ciabatta bread.

A few minutes in the toaster oven, just to melt the cheese and lunch is ready and yummy to boot.  How easy is that?

This is great as hors d’oeuvres too.  Ahhh… I shall share this at tomorrow’s “leftover” party.  Jack Daniel’s Pulled Chicken consumed.  Fontina consumed.  More to go…

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Quick & Easy at Storm In My Kitchen.