Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's Bento

Leftover tinola (variant detailed in second comment), rice, cherry tomatoes and Laughing Cow babybels.

John has been making dinner for us lately. Last week's fare included chicken with BBQ sauce and baked potatoes (another good use of the chives in our front yard); turkey burgers with onions, leftover salad greens and more BBQ sauce; and a lovely, light but filling caprese salad to begin the weekend. Now if only he'd note down some of his recipes....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pesang Manok (Boiled Chicken Soup)

Had a couple of inches of ginger and some softening celery to use up, so I figured I'd order a cabbage and some chicken thighs and make some boiled chicken soup, Filipino-style. Now, I've almost eaten all the soup, but I still have more cabbage than I know what to do with - this monster weighed over seven pounds! (See what can happen when you order produce, sight unseen, from Peapod?) This can result in a dish that's fairly bland on its own, but comforting and delicious when served with a dish of fish sauce on the side. Took Market Manila's suggestion and browned the chicken first, which helped deepen the broth a wee bit.
  • 1 tbsp. or so peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2"-3" in. ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 lbs. chicken (I used thighs)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tsp. peppercorns (next time, I'll use more)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 3-4" lengths (used more as I had a bag to get rid of)
  • 1 small cabbage, roughly chopped (about 1/4 of that monstrous head)
In a pot large enough to hold all the soup ingredients, saute the ginger and onion till they release their aromas, about 1-3 mins.

Add the chicken. Brown slightly on both sides, about 3-5 minutes/side.

Add the water, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and cook till chicken's almost tender, 20 or so mins.

Add the celery, wait a few minutes, then add the cabbage. Cook till the veggies are tender - another 5-10 minutes.

Serve over white rice with patis and sriracha on the side.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Infusion: Ginger Vodka

The conservative proportions of this CHOW recipe aside, two other websites advocated for 1/2 cup of ginger to 750 ml. of vodka. Since I had a surplus of the root in question, I opted for the latter proportions. We'll see how it turns out in a week or two (or three). There's also this roasted ginger variant that might be fun to try later.

And yes, I have been cooking (and bento-ing). It's just been more of my easy go-to (pasta with sardine-tomato sauce and sausages), though I declared today veggie day and treated myself to a custom Chop't salad that was good enough to eat sans dressing, with just some salt and pepper (tested, but didn't want their red wine vinaigrette to go to waste): spinach with crumbled hard-boiled egg, red onions, white mushrooms, smoked bacon, artichoke hearts and grilled asparagus.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Drinking: Mockquavit

While in Portland, I had a delicate, fresh-tasting version of a Bloody Mary - Pazzo's Bloody Dane (PDF warning): a combination of cucumber-infused Aquavit, tomato juice water, lemon and fresh dill. Alas, the local store didn't have any Aquavit, but this post on infusing vodka inspired me to create an infused approximation. And now, finally, my third-ever attempt at infusion is ready - not quite as subtle and clean as the cucumber-infused Aquavit, but summery nonetheless.

Next time, I may invest in a wide-mouthed jar - I would have liked to strain and mash some more flavored spirits out of everything.

Herewith, my version of the recipe:
  • 1 750 ml. bottle of vodka (I used plain Svedka)
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 heaping tbsp. ginger, julienned
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • peel from 1/2 lemon
Stuff everything in the vodka bottle. Close the lid and keep the bottle in a cool, dark place for at least 1-2 weeks.

Taste periodically. When the flavor's to your liking (I bottled it on July 20 and, after one too-early taste test, finally deemed it ready today), strain the vodka through double layers of cheesecloth into another container.

Keep in the freezer and serve chilled.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Catfish Sinigang 2: Rhubarb

Made this recipe, sans leafy greens and substituting 5 stalks of rhubarb for the lemon, the day before yesterday. Didn't use enough, at least for my tastes - while the rhubarb did add a nice, subtle tartness to the soup, it wasn't quite the strong sourness I was looking for. Still very tasty, though - tester #1 concurs.

Cut rhubarb into 4-inch lengths. Boil in three cups of water for 15 minutes or until tender.

Remove from water. Strain and mash with a spoon to release additional liquid into the water.

Add green beans, onion and tomato and proceed as usual.

Summer Drinking: Mint "Limonata"

First made these a couple of weeks ago, but kept forgetting to add the recipe (from CHOW). Substituted San Pellegrino for the soda water. Raves all around - a good combination of effervescence, sweetness and tartness (next time, I may add a squeeze or two of lemon juice to increase this).
  • Crushed ice (we didn't have any, alas)
  • 2 oz limoncello
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. soda water (used San Pellegrino mineral water instead)
  • 2-3 medium mint leaves, torn in half
Put ice in a shaker-type container. Add limoncello and vodka; shake to combine.

Add soda water/sparkling mineral water to shaker and stir to combine. Pour into a rocks glass and serve topped with the torn mint leaves.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tomorrow's Bento: Couscous and Snozzages

This variant on couscous with basil, tomatoes and zucchini made just enough for lunch for both me and John. In deference to his ailing plant, I did away with the basil; I also halved the couscous and oil, but kept all other proportions the same. Win-win: fridge cleared of perishables, and delicious, healthy noms for tomorrow made. It's also a one-container meal - which is handy, since I won't have to drag Mr. Bento to the Los Campesinos! concert tomorrow.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chicken Adobo, Part 3

Tried the Bittman (2nd ed.) version this time - with rich, silky, decadent gata (coconut milk), to be fair, and broiling the chicken into crispy deliciousness, so it's hardly fair to the other recipes. Will try each again, replicating at least the latter step.

The sauce turned out to be rich but extremely salty; to be fair, the chicken tasted fine, as did judicious application of the sauce on rice. I may try this again with a low-sodium soy sauce, though (used normal Kikkoman this time), or with a soy sauce-water mix.

Eater review: "Simple, savory. As satisfying as any meal I've had in recent memory. I would recreate this, if I were able, on my own in an instant."
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cup coconut milk (used a can of Taste of Thai)
  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs., trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces (used 4 whole legs)
Combine soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, pepper, bay leaves and half of the coconut milk in a pot large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, turning once or twice, till the chicken is almost done (20-25 min).

Heat oven to 450. Remove the chicken pieces from the liquid and dry them with paper towels. Grill, boil or roast the chicken till it's brown, crisp and hot (about 15-25 min.), turning as necessary.

Meanwhile, bring the sauce to a boil, adding the remaining coconut milk, over high heat, till it's reduced to about a cup (I love sauce, so went for a cup and a half).

Serve the chicken with the sauce over rice.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Market Sunday

Note to self: never shop at Eastern Market right after the gym, especially if you have no companion to help keep you in control. Got some lovely Big Boy tomatoes to have with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar, and some really sweet peaches to have with sparkling wine. Also acquired a few organic chicken legs for yet another adobo recipe (with gata [coconut milk] this time?), some green beans that may be turned into a cold salad, and some rhubarb that may become a simple syrup, a daiquiri ingredient or a souring agent in a sinegang variant. Oh, and a pint of marinaded mushrooms that are mostly gone.

Tonight's Dinner

Whole-wheat spaghettini with a variant on my sardine and tomato sauce: added 4 minced anchovies with the onion and garlic. Yum!