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Kick-ass Sweet and Sour Pork

Posted by c5 on 2005.12.13 at 22:31
Anything in sweet and sour sauce generally don't hold any appeal to me. This is the one dish I'd probably never order in any Chinese restaurant because to me, Sweet and Sour anything is a cop-out. And corny.

So when Cirio wanted to serve sweet and sour pork for his birthday dinner with friends last Saturday, my reaction was less than enthusiastic. But it was his birthday dinner and he would get whatever it is that he wanted. So after a few hours of reconciling myself with the idea of cooking such a cop-out dish, I set out to prepare a sweet and sour pork dish that kicked ass. Honest. It was so good, it gave me hope for all other sweet and sour incarnations.

pork (the ones for pork chop but cut into bite-sized pieces; about 1 kilo)
tomato sauce
carrots  (a big one, cut into discs)
ginger (cut into discs)
onions (finely chopped)
garlic (finely chopped)
bell peppers (finely chopped)
vegetable oil (a LOT)
sesame oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper

a deep fryer (or a deep pan)
a wok
knives and cutting board

Marinate the pork in lemon juice, salt and pepper for at least one hour. Heat about a litre of vegetable oil in a deep pan. Heavily dredge the pork with cornstarch then throw it into the pot of boiling oil (otherwise known as deep frying heh).

Tip: When deep-frying anything, the best way to know if that thing is cooked is to wait for it to float to the surface of the oil and the bubbles around it to kind of die down. When that happens, that thing needs to be taken out of the oil.

Set the deep-fried pork aside (you might want to drain excess oil by putting the pork on kitchen towels).

Sautee the onions, garlic and ginger in about a tablespoon of oil. Mix the tomato sauce and honey, then pour the mixture into the sautee pan. Place the deep fried pork back into the sauce, pour some gin over it and then lower the heat. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until the gin begins to bubble. Then mix in the carrots and the bell peppers. Wait two more minutes, then turn off the heat. Drizzle with sesame oil before serving.

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

Posted by c5 on 2005.12.01 at 22:32
food mood: comforting and hearty
ambient noise: damien rice
Served this at the last Weirdok dinner as well.

pork sausage (about .5 k, get the semi-sweet kind, roughly chopped up)
portabello mushrooms (about .25 k, cut into bite-sized pieces)
white button mushrooms (about .25 k, cut in halves)
oyster mushrooms (about .25 k, cut into bite-sized pieces)
angel hair pasta (1 kilo, cooked al dente)
olive oil
garlic (peeled, chopped, lots)
gin (half a cup)
dried basil
cream (about 1 1/2 cups)
salt and pepper

Pasta cooker
knife and cutting board

Sautee the sausage in olive oil, then remove from the pan and set aside. It will take about 10 minutes to cook the sausage.

With the same oil, sautee the garlic until golden brown, add the portabello mushrooms and the oyster mushrooms.

Cover the pan for about five minutes, then add the button mushrooms (man, remove the cover first, ok?). Cook for about five minutes.

Then lower the heat and pour gin. Cover and let simmer for another five minutes.

Add the sausage again. Then pour the cream and mix it in. Add the dried basil. Then simmer for another five minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Top the cooked pasta with the sauce and serve.

The Peanut Dip! The Peanut Dip!

Posted by c5 on 2005.12.01 at 21:39
food mood: intense
ambient noise: damien rice
I am a sucker for requests. fairlycloudy demands the recipe for the Peanut Dip I served last Friday and so it shall be hers.

peanuts (I use 1 bag of garlic-roasted peanuts + 1 bag of plain roasted peanuts)
chili oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper

mixing bowl

Pour the peanuts into a pan then pour enough water and some lemon juice (just a splash) to cover the nuts. Soak for at least an hour (3 hours would be best).

Cook the peanuts and water in low heat until the peanuts turn a bit transluscent. Turn of the heat then allow to cool.

Drain the peanuts, but set the water aside. Blend the peanuts, adding the broth slowly until its well-blended. Place the mixture back into the pan and heat it slowly, adding chili oil, salt and pepper.

You can use this thing as salad dressing or as base for other dishes. Or you can steam veggies, open a few bags of chips, and serve it as dip.

The Packing Day Bribery: Pasta with Chili Chicken

Posted by c5 on 2005.10.25 at 00:49
food mood: on the fly
ambient noise: bad hip hop song
So Friday evening, I managed to get some of my friends to come over and help me pack my stuff. Of course, food was the only bribery I could afford and they would take to get their butts over to my place and fold my clothes. I was planning a full-on Bulgarian-inspired dinner, but my life had other plans and I ended up at 5pm with a fridge-full of stuff but nothing marinating.

Kitchen Cheat #4: Stock up on Chili Flakes in Oil. It's the easiest way to jazz up what would otherwise be a bland meal.

So on to the Friday night's pasta dish: Chili Chicken

chicken (about a kilo, chopped; if you're feeling the need to work, deboned)
garlic (2 cloves, peeled, chopped)
pickled peppers (sliced)
cottage cheese (luckily, I bought a tub from Bulgaria)
spicy tuyo flakes
peanut oil
chili flakes in oil (I buy the Lee Kum Kee one)

Sautee pan
Pasta cooker

Heat the peanut oil, saute garlic in it. Then add the chicken just before the garlic browns. Add the chili flakes in oil. Let the chicken brown for a bit, then lower the heat, pour about a cup of tequila then leave it. (Note: Do NOT stir vinegar or alcohol before it has come to a full boil. Otherwise, it won't cook and the dish would be nastily sour!).

Boil water. Add salt and some oil. Cook the pasta.

Once the pasta is cooked, while it's hot, crumble cottage cheese on it, and add the pickled peppers and some tuyo flakes. Toss. Then put it in the serving dish.

Back to the chicken. If the chicken is super cooked, take it out. You'll find that there are dregs left in the bottom of your pan. Lower the heat some more then pour about half a cup of tequila. Let it boil. Once it's boiling, scrape the sautee pan, and mix the dregs with the tequilla. When that's all done, top the pasta with the sauce.

Top the pasta with the chicken pieces then serve.

c5's Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Posted by c5 on 2005.09.26 at 03:09
food mood: easy comfort
ambient noise: silence
I love grilled cheese sandwiches. To me, they're instant food -- best for when I'm hungry and need food quick. I've been experimenting with grilled cheese sandwiches for quite sometime now (combining different kinds of cheese and types of bread).

Gruyere or the Strong Bitey Bega Cheese (sliced)
Cream Cheese (the Magnolia one is really not as good as the Phillidelphia brand)
Chili flakes in sesame oil
Bread (any kind, I've tried this with wheat bread, oat bread, rye bread and white bread and it tastes great with any kind of bread)

Oven Toaster (or oven grill)
Knife + chopping board

Slather cream cheese on one side of a slice of bread. Drizzle the cream cheese with chili flakes in  sesame oil. Place the gruyere slices on top, then place the other slice of bread on top of it. (Man, if you don't know how to make a sandwich, you need to go to the nearest grocery store and get yourself some common sense!)

Place in the oven toaster and toast for 4 minutes. Once that's done, slice the sandwich diagonally (I'm obsessive about slicing sandwiches diagonally, I don't know why). Enjoy!

Shitake and Tofu Honey Thingie

Posted by c5 on 2005.09.03 at 02:54
food mood: healthy
ambient noise: sneaker pimps
One more tofu dish.

Shitake mushrooms (1/2 kilo)
Tofu (2 blocks, chopped)
garlic (1 head, peeled, chopped)
honey (about three table spoons)
soy oil
sesame oil
sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Frying pan or wok
knives + chopping board

Heat the soy oil. Fry the tofu chunks until crispy. Set aside. Sautee the garlic in the same oil. Add the shitake. After about two minutes, place the tofu back into the wok and mix with the garlic. Let it stay there until the tofu gets soggy with the shitake's juice. Mix the honey in. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the flame off then drizzle a bit of sesame oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Note: This also works well with a combination of shitake and white button mushrooms. Avoid oyster mushrooms in this dish because they don't play nice with other shrooms...

A tip I got from fullview about mushrooms: They lower people's energy levels, so before doing anything with them, soak them for about 30 minutes in lemon juice and water (3 parts lemon juice, 1 part h2o). That's supposed to counter the energy-sapping effects of mushrooms. Of course, this goes against every culinary school's instructions on how best to handle mushrooms prior to cooking: Keep them away from water! But I've tried the lemon / water soaking thing and it made the shrooms taste much better, so I recommend doing that if you have the time, energy and lemons.

Kang Kong and Tofu Salad

Posted by c5 on 2005.09.03 at 02:40
food mood: healthy
ambient noise: sneaker pimps
Tags: ,
Lengkot asked for a Tofu Dish, so here goes.

Tofu (about four blocks)
Kang Kong leaves (or any green leafy vegetable)
Tomatoes (chopped)
garlic (1/2 head, peeled, chopped)
honey (half a cup)
soy sauce (half a cup)
soy oil
sesame oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Mixing bowl
Boiling Pot
kitchen paper towels
knives + chopping board

In a mixing bowl, dunk the soy sauce, garlic and honey. Mix with a spoon. In a square pan, place the tofu blocks, then pour the mixture on it. Make sure there is enough of the soy-honey sauce to cover the tofu blocks. Place on the fridge and leave it there for at least 30 minutes (2 hours is over kill).

Take the tofu blocks off the marinade and place them on kitchen paper towels. Cover the tops with more paper towels, and then place something heavy on top of it. Not your stove or your tv! Something lighter, like a recipe book (make sure it's clean though) or a heavy bowl. The point is to squeeze excess marinade from the tofu blocks. Leave it there for about 10 minutes.

Heat the soy oil and fry the tofu until they're crispy on the outside. Some people like to fry their tofu blocks whole then chop them up so they get more soft parts. Personally, I like cutting them into chunks then frying them so there'd be more crispy parts. Once that's done, set it aside.

Boil a pot of water. Place the kang kong leaves in the strainer (collander) and pour the boiling water on it. Once it turns a deep green, put it under cold tap water. Shake off excess water and then dunk the leaves in a salad bowl together with the tofu and the tomatoes.

Toss everything with lemon juice and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: You can add sesame seeds or grated parmesan before serving. You can also add cottage cheese, if you want to up the comfort-food level of this healthy dish.

Mandarin Orange and Soju Chicken Salad

Posted by c5 on 2005.08.31 at 00:35
food mood: tiredtired
ambient noise: annie lennox
Tags: ,
OK last for the evening. Hopefully, this will be enough for Kramos to prepare a great meal for Lengkot and their Weirdokis Apprentice.

chicken (1.2 k, deboned, chunked)
garlic (1/2 head, peeled and chopped)
salad greens (personally partial to the Arugula salad mix available at the Rustan's grocery)
mandarin oranges (6 pieces, peeled, pitted, de-veined)
soju (half a cup, from some Korean grocery in Japan)
Dijon mustard (roughly two tablespoons)
sesame oil (roughly half a cup)
cane vinegar (about a cup)
honey (roughly 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper
canola oil
sesame seeds

a small jar with a wide mouth and a lid
salad bowl
knives + chopping board
a medium sauce pan

Chicken first. Dunk the chicken chunks in hot canola oil, followed by garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes. Then put the heat on very low and douse it with soju. Let it cook on low heat for a long time, until the chicken is well-cooked. Set aside and let cool once that's done.

Then the dressing. In the small jar, put the Dijon mustard, sesame oil, cane vinegar, and honey in. Close the lid. Turn on your radio and shake the jar in time with the music until everything is all well blended.

Open the arugula mix package. Tear up the greens into bite-sized pieces. Put the chicken (+ the sauce it cooked in) and the oranges. Pour the dressing around the salad. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge. Allow maybe about 30 minutes before serving. Pepper the salad with sesame seed before serving.

Note: I think this salad would also work well with a bit of chopped, roasted peanuts. But I hesitate to put nuts in anything because a lot of people are allergic to them. Don't want any medical emergencies at my dinner table.

Cheesecake Experiment v1

Posted by c5 on 2005.08.30 at 21:16
food mood: blahblah
ambient noise: tv sounds
Finally conquered my fear of baked desserts. Of cheesecakes, in particular. Last Sunday, I baked cheesecake and it was good. Well, according to my brother, my sister and my tastebuds.

It was not as hard as I thought it would be. Now that I've got the basic cheesecake conquered, I can play with cheesecake. But for now, the Basic Baked Cheesecake:

crushed graham crackers (1 cup)
butter (about 1/8 of a bar of butter)
cinnamon (a pinch)

cream cheese (softened, 8 oz.)
eggs (2)
condensed milk (1 cup)
heavy cream (2 cups)
lemon rind (grated)

6" x 3" springform pan
Mixer (or an egg beater)
Mixing bowl
Oven (or convection oven)

First, the crust. Mix the crust materials in a bowl. Use a fork. You know you're done when the mixture feels like sticky brown sugar. Place everything (except the bowl and the fork) at the bottom of the springform pan (man, if I need to tell you to make sure that the bottom of the pan should be there and the spring contraption is locked, stay the hell away from the kitchen forever!). With a spoon, pack the graham mixture. The best way to do this is from the centre to the sides of the pan. Put this in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Then, the cheesecake itself. First, split the heavy cream into two cups. Place on cup in the fridge, you'll need that later. Then dunk everything with the other cup of heavy cream in the mixing bowl then mix until smooth. Pour the cheesecake batter into the springform pan.

Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees celsius. Bake the cake for 25 minutes. Leave it in the oven for another 30 minutes after the oven has been turned off. Leave the cake to cool for another hour outside the oven. Don't panic when the middle of the cake deflates. That's cool.

Pour the remaining heavy cream on top of the cake then place the cake in the fridge for at least 5 hours (8 hours is best).

To serve, unlock the spring contraption and lift the cake out of the pan. Cut and serve.

Non-Pretentious Black and Green Tapenade

Posted by c5 on 2005.08.30 at 20:26
food mood: blahblah
ambient noise: still hugh grant on HBO
Mention the word tapenade in some circles and you're elivated to hoity-toity status (in some circles, that's actually a good thing, but those circles are not really worth it; they'd soon relegate you to eew level as soon as you sing the first lines to Aegis' Basa). In any case, tapenade is a loaded word. Perhaps it's because it conjures images of dining in an outdoor cafe in the South of France. Or perhaps it's simply because people don't know what it is.

Tapenade, basically are anchovies, olives and capers puree'd in olive oil. And it's super easy to make. I have my own version that I keep handy in the fridge for quick snacks and salads.

black olives (1 can, pitted)
green olives (1 can, pitted)
capers (1 small bottle, or 1/4 of the amount of olives)
garlic (1 head, roasted)
olive oil

Broiler for the roasted garlic
Nice jar for storing in the fridge

Dump everything in the blender. Add the olive oil in increments until everything is well incorporated with each other. But you're not aiming for smoothness here. It has to be a rough paste.

That's it. Non-pretentious Black and Green Tapenade.

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