Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Guisadong Togue (Sauteed Bean Sprouts, Filipino-style)

I love my country's cooking. I mean, really - even the bean sprout recipes start with "Take some pork - nothing lean, mind you...." Bean sprouts were on sale, so I figured I'd give the recipe (based on the one in, you guessed it, Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad) a try. Upped the garlic - no surprises - and cut out the salt (assuming the patis and pancetta provided enough of that) and sugar.

This one still needs a bit of tweaking, but it's a promising start.
  • 1/4 lb. boneless pork (necessity substitution: 3 oz. pancetta)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about a heaping tbsp.)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (necessity substitution: half a 14.5 oz. can of tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 tbsp. patis
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 lb. shrimp, chopped (necessity substitution: one 4.5 oz. can of those tiny shrimp)
  • 1/2 cup water or broth
  • 1 lb. bean sprouts
  • 4 scallions, chopped

Place pork in pot with 1/4 cup water over medium heat. Simmer until the water evaporates and the fat renders. Stir for a couple of minutes. (Tried it this way, but next time will just render the pancetta till crispy, then reserve the meat.)

Add garlic and onions. Cook, stirring, till onions are translucent.

Add tomatoes. Saute until mixture turns mushy.

Add patis and pepper. Mix well.

Add shrimps and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add broth or water. Correct seasoning, then bring to a boil. Add bean sprouts. Cover, then cook till the sprouts are tender but still with a bit of bite to them, 3-5 minutes.

Garnish with scallions and serve.

Tinolang Manok (Chicken Ginger Soup)

This is probably one of my favorite dishes. It can be delicate, with minimal amounts of ginger and patis (as with the recipe in Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad). Or it can be intense and flavorful enough to survive being eaten cold from Mr. Bento when I'm too lazy to head downstairs to the microwave. The recipe below is the latter type, with a high broth-to-cluck ratio and more greens (but alas, no chayote or unripe papaya); the original recipe's proportions are in italics.

NOTE: For some odd reason, saltiness seemed to keep fluctuating. A day after, 3 tbsp. patis + 1 tsp. salt seemed too salty; the day after that, it tasted fine. May go back to little/no salt and see how that goes.
  • 2 tsp. cooking oil (I use vegetable)
  • 3-4 tbsp. (or about a 3 in. by 1-1/2 in. piece) ginger, julienned (original: 2 tsp.)
  • one medium onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, lightly smashed (original: 1 clove)
  • 1-1/2 lbs. chicken (original: 3 lbs.)
  • 3 tbsp. patis (original: 2 tbsp.)
  • salt to taste (original: 1 tsp.)
  • 5 cups water
  • 10 oz. spinach, roughly chopped (original: 8 oz.)
  • 1 unripe papaya or 2 chayote, peeled and sliced (alas, didn't have these)

Place oil in a pot. Saute ginger, onion and garlic over medium heat for a couple of minutes.

Add chicken pieces and saute till chicken colors slightly, about 3-4 minutes each side. Season with patis and salt.

Add water. Bring to a boil, then simmer till chicken is done (about 20-30 minutes). If using chayote/green papaya, add and cook till tender but still firm, 5-7 minutes.Correct seasoning.

Add spinach. Cover and remove from heat. Serve in 4-5 minutes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Catfish Sinigang (Catfish in Sour Broth)

I haven't made this lately, but figured it would be a good one to archive here. This recipe is a rather modified version of the "Sinigang na Bangus" recipe in Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad.
  • 1-1/2 lbs. catfish fillets
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 4-5 medium Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp. patis
  • salt for fish
  • 1 lb. green beans, cut into 2-3 in. lengths (all the better to fit into Mr. Bento's soup compartment)
  • 6 oz. spinach leaves (or more if you like), roughly chopped
  • 2-4 baby bok choy, chopped - separate stems and leaves (optional but yummy)
Cut fillets into serving or half-serving sized pieces, depending on your inclination. Salt them.

Put water, tomatoes and onions in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook till vegetables are getting tender (maybe 5-7 mins).

Add green beans (or blanch them first and reserve till you add the fish - I've never been fancy enough for that option) and baby bok choy stems, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 4-7 minutes more, till beans are softened but not quite done.

Add lemon juice and patis. Correct seasonings.

Add fish. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until fish is opaque.

Remove from heat, add spinach and baby bok choy leaves. Cover and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Serve with patis and lemon to pass around.

Benedictine Qui Venit: The Frisco

I've a taste for whiskey- and bourbon-based drinks, and I like trying new liqueurs, so this recipe (courtesy of Serious Eats) was an excuse to acquire a new bottle of straight Kentucky rye (the cheap and serviceable Old Overholt) and to purchase my first-ever bottle of Benedictine. After I got the proportions right (one taster referred to my first attempt as a "lemony snickett"), the resulting concoction was something like a tangier, less sweet hot toddy. Quite a bit more complex, thanks to the Benedictine, but more like a mood drink than a regular presence at the table. Perhaps some judicious jiggering with proportions will produce something even better. And now that I have most of a bottle of Benedictine, I can start experimenting with more drinks that feature it.

Recipe reproduced below, with my approximations:
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Benedictine (1 tbsp. and a bit)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice (when lazy, which is pretty much always, I just call this the squeezings from 1/4 of a lemon)
If you're being all fancy, combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for about 10 seconds, then pour into a chilled glass. Or you can just throw everything in and stir, the way the iceless needs must.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cheesy Catfish Chowder

So catfish was on sale at Peapod again. While I typically make catfish sinegang or Bittman's "Catfish Poached with Ginger and Soy Sauce," it was time to branch out. To the internet! And behold - this recipe (via came to light. Did I have everything? Close enough. A search through the fridge produced a few stalks of limp celery and a half-bag of forlorn, drying carrots; an IM sent across the hall revealed both a baking potato and a large container of cow juice that I could borrow. Thus came about my first attempt at a milk-based soup - the version below incorporates my modifications.
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup; more is fine)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large baking potato, cut into 1/2-3/4 in. cubes
  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 tsp. salt + more to taste (used maybe 1-1/4 tsp. total)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper + more to taste (used maybe 3/4 tsp. total)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1- 1/2 lbs. catfish fillets, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • about 1 cup grated cheese (this time I used a mix of Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano)

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions, carrots and celery for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, till the vegetables soften a bit.

Add potatoes. Cook 10 or so minutes, so vegetables are soft but still firm.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour into 1-1/2 cups of milk. Add to Dutch oven and mix.

Add the rest of the milk, the salt, celery salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens - maybe 5-7 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.

Add catfish. Cook another 5 or so minutes till fish flakes easily on a fork but isn't overdone.

Stir in cheese; cook another minute or so, then turn off heat. Serve with more grated cheese, if you like.

NOTE: This came out wonderfully - vegetables were cooked through but not mushy; the catfish was moist and soft and chewy. A bowl apiece is more than enough dinner for myself, John and Bradley; the rest is currently cooling on my counter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dreaming of Summer - Le Petit Hiboux

I first read about Lillet in Thomas Harris' Hannibal; the title character serves it with a slice of orange after dinner. It does make a nice aperitif - even when you haven't been dining on the brains of your beloved's enemy beforehand. This cocktail (via CHOW), the product of The Little Owl restaurant in Brooklyn, is a simple, easy but lovely drink. It was - and will probably be, once the weather warms up again - one of the staples of our weekend "lawn" lounging.
  • 2 ounces Pinot Blanc or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 ounces Lillet Blanc
  • 2 ounces apple juice
Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled glass and stir.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Miso...Diligently Posting Recipes

Thankfully, the local organic grocery store now has all the ingredients for miso soup (well, except for the dashi. But they do have dried bonito flakes, which I'll try once the mix runs out). Though my heart still belongs to instant ramen, I've been having miso soup - with or without rice - as a light breakfast or a pre-gym snack; some of it was in today's Mr. Bento, as well.

NOTE (Mar. 3): As part of his Miso Soup Project, has a handy post on 54 different ways to cook miso soup.

This is a basic recipe - possible additions include chopped spinach (probably added after the tofu) and various kinds of fresh or dried mushrooms.
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp. hon-dashi granules
  • 2-3 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu (most recipes use more, but I'm not a huge fan)
  • 2 5-inch lengths of dried wakame, cut into inch-long strips (most recipes use less, but I'm a fan)
  • 3 tbsp. white miso paste
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped

Soak wakame in cold water for at least 30 min.

Put water in a pot, then add hon-dashi granules. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for a minute or two.

Alternate preparation for the stock, adapted from the package of bonito flakes I bought: Put 4-5 pieces of kombu in 4 cups of water, then bring to a boil. Add 1/2 cup of bonito flakes. Remove from heat, then strain out both the kombu and the flakes.

Cut tofu into 1/2 in. squares, or whatever size you fancy. Drain wakame. Add both to pot. Turn heat to low and simmer for a few more minutes.

Ladle some of the liquid into a bowl, then dissolve the miso paste into it. Stir the miso mixture back into the soup.

Turn off the heat, then add the scallions.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Refrigerator Remix: Braised Endive

So there I was, determined to neither waste nor want (and on a mission to fill at least one of Mr. Bento's compartments with greenery goodness). Found in the back of the fridge: four endives, a fortnight old but still in good shape. To Bittman! (The original recipe, from How to Cook Everything, is below, with my tweaks in italics.) Alas, the pantry contained neither prosciutto nor decent broth, but I did have some aging carrots and celery. Why not hearken to both Ruhlman's and Bittman's disdain for pre-prepared stock, add an onion to the mix, and make a mirepoix of it? And, hey, how about some of that garlic? While we're at it, why not mince some of that kielbasa in the freezer as a substitute for the prosciutto?

Note: Bradley, John and I ended up making an impromptu dinner out of this and John's first-ever attempt at risotto while watching the No Reservations: Philippines episode - a rather greens-and-grains heavy meal to be eating while lusting after sisig and lechon.

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 endives, trimmed at the base
  • 1/4 cup proscuitto or other minced ham (substituted equivalent amount of minced sausage)
  • 1/2 cup chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water (doubled to 1 cup of water, because of the added vegetables)
  • 1 small carrot, chopped into 1 in. chunks (not in original recipe)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped into 1 in. chunks (not in original recipe)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (not in original recipe)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, unpeeled (not in original recipe)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet that can be covered. Add the endives and cook, turning once or twice, until they begin to brown.

Add the meat, braising liquid, vegetables, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low or medium-low until very tender, about 45 mins. (took me about an hour).

Uncover and turn heat up to evaporate remaining liquid (I liked the resulting broth, so I skipped this step).

Drizzle with lemon juice or vinegar and serve.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pasta with Spinach and Pancetta

I had a 10 oz. bag of spinach that needed to be used up, but was neither in moo-mode enough for Bittman's "Fettucini with Spinach, Butter and Cream," nor feeling sufficiently salt-licky for "Pasta with Spinach, Garlic and Capers" (courtesy of Aaron, who taught me how to make it during a cook-for-Obama event - recipe coming at some future point). So, clearly, this called for a bipartisan compromise that would hopefully combine the richness of the first with the stimulative properties of the second.

NOTE (24 Feb.): Dish tastes fine, but seems a bit thin. Next time, I may either increase the amount of spinach to 1 lb. or decrease the amount of pasta to 3/4 lb. And there's always the more pancetta route.

  • 1 lb. pasta (I used whole wheat linguini this time)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, more if needed
  • 1.5 oz pancetta (wanted 3-4 oz, but that's all I had easy access to)
  • about 1/4 cup garlic (half a head or so), cut into dimes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 oz. spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more to pass around

In a large skillet or pot, render pancetta in a small amount of olive oil over medium-low heat till brown and crispy (around 10 mins.). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Augment pancetta juice with olive oil if needed. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat till onion is soft but not translucent, about 2-4 min.

Add spinach. Lower heat, cover and cook till spinach is tender (about 10 min).

Meanwhile, generously salt a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain.

Add pasta to spinach mixture along with grated cheese and a bit more olive oil, if necessary; mix and correct seasoning. Garnish with pancetta and serve with more grated Parmesan.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mushroom Ragout with Pasta

Haven't tried this one yet and am not sure where it came from - just found it in my Moleskine, dated Nov. 14, 2008. I think I was at my sister's that weekend, and paging through her cookbooks - it may be from one of her Martha Stewarts.... Ah well. The point is, it sounds easy and good. Possible changes are marked below, in italics.
  • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise 1/2 in. (pfft - just four slices? Unlikely! Maybe 3-4 oz. diced pancetta instead?)
  • 1 small onion (probably make this large), finely chopped
  • 20 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 20 oz. button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (see below for possible substitution)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 lb. spaghetti
  • shaved Parmesan for garnish
In a 5 qt. sauce pan, cook the bacon over medium heat till it's crispy (about 5 min.). Set aside.

Saute onion till golden (about 2 min.). Add mushrooms, cover, and cook till juices evaporate (about 20 min.).

Stir in tomato paste, thyme and water. Cover, then cook till sauce has thickened (around 10-15 minutes). (May just use a can of tomatoes instead of the paste and water - just hand-crush them and cook till saucy.)

Stir in parsley and vinegar. Add bacon.

Meanwhile, cook pasta till al dente. Drain, then return to pot.

Toss pasta with ragout. Garnish with cheese and bacon.

Touch of Evil

I came across this recipe (the work of San Francisco mixologist Jacqueline Patterson) at CHOW; it inspired my first foray into simple syrups. The result is a wicked, complex, deceptively innocent-tasting drink - a femme fatale disguised as a cheery Southern coed.

Incidentally, rhubarb is one of the recommended substitutes for tamarind in some sinegang recipes.
  • 3 parts Bulleit bourbon
  • 2 parts rhubarb syrup (recipe follows below)
  • 1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 dash absinthe (they recommend St. George, but note that Kubler is acceptable)
  • ice
  • 1 lemon twist
  • mint leaf, crushed
Combine bourbon, syrup, lemon juice and absinthe in an ice-filled shaker. Shake, then strain into a glass.

Garnish with lemon twist and mint leaf. (Alternately, you can muddle another mint leaf in the glass.)

Rhubarb Syrup (makes 1 and 1/2 cups)
  • 5 ounces rhubarb, washed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until rhubarb is falling apart and color has bled into the syrup, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from heat. Strain and discard rhubarb solids. Let syrup cool to room temperature, then transfer to a resealable container and store in the refrigerator.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Shiitakes

I love leeks, and mushrooms, and chicken thighs, so this is really a win-win-WIN all around. The original recipe is here; I re-fatted it a bit because chicken skin is awesome and doubled the amount of leeks because...well, because I love leeks.

I've also been considering a variant where, instead of using olive oil, I render some diced pancetta, reserve it for garnish, and use the fat from that instead. If this ever comes to be, results will be posted in the comments section.
  • 2 chicken thighs - bone-in or boneless, but with that lovely skin intact, TYVM
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, diced
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Sprinkle chicken with flour, and reserve the excess.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover it with foil.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, leeks and mushrooms to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Sprinkle the reserved flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. Add broth, wine and salt and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, until it is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in tarragon.

Dreaming of Summer - Poste's Basil Lemontini

After I discovered this drink while having oysters with John at Poste, it promptly became a mainstay of our weekend "lawn" (i.e., the park across from our apartment building) layabouts. I first found the recipe here (PDF warning!), but am reproducing it below for ease of reference.

  • 3 oz. vodka (the original recipe calls for Absolut Citron, but Svedka Citron works just as well)
  • 3 oz. lemonade
  • 1 oz. sparkling wine
  • 3 basil leaves
Muddle two basil leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker (or in the glass itself, if you're being low-ren efficient).

Add vodka and lemonade.

Strain into a glass (or not, if you're already there).

Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a basil leaf.

Sinigang na Baboy (Pork in Sour Broth)

While the pre-prepared sinigang mixes (Knorr and Mama Sita) I've used contain tamarind, I use lemon juice and patis (fish sauce) when cooking from scratch. This recipe is modified from Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad.

NOTE: The original recipe calls for 5-6 pieces of tamarind to be added along with the tomatoes and onion. Then it should be removed, mashed with some of the broth, and the resulting liquid should be returned to the pot. Lemon juice is one substitute; another is 2-3 stalks of rhubarb - I've never tried this, but assume that some adjustment would be necessary.
  • 2-1/2 lb. baby back ribs, cut into pieces
  • 10 cups water
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced (I use Roma)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4-6 tbsp. patis
  • 4-6 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 5 oz. spinach, chopped
  • 2-4 baby bok choy, chopped - separate leaves and stems (optional but yummy)
Bring water and pork to a boil. Add tomatoes and onions. Simmer covered for 1 hour, or until tender.

Add lemon juice and patis. Taste and correct seasoning.

Bring to a boil, then add green beans and baby bok choy stems. Cook for 5-8 minutes more, or until beans have reached desired texture.

Add spinach and bok choy leaves, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.