Eggplant Parmigiana with Beef Bolognese

This version is using the Asian eggplant variety. They are more tender and takes shorter time to cook. Assuming that you already have the sauce ready, this literally takes half an hour to prepare. In this version, I used my own beef bolognese instead of the usual marinara sauce. On the side, is pasta with kale.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces  Japanese Ichiban eggplant
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese
  • Bolognese sauce
  • Pasta 
  • Kale, cut in pieces

Preparations.

  • Heat the water for the pasta. The kale needs 15 minutes to cook so if the pasta of your choice takes 10 minutes to cook al dente, put the kale in the boiling salted water 5 minutes earlier, then add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is cooked al dente following the box instruction. 
  • Cut the eggplant in half. Slice each piece into four without cutting though the end, opening the slices like a fan. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper. Note that it is not necessary to salt the eggplants to remove the water and some bitterness as usually done with the big Italian variety. 
  • In a pan, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil, fry the eggplant, opening the slices like a fan. Set aside.
  • Turn on the the oven to broil. Set a rack about 6 inches from the top.
  • To assemble, using a Pyrex dish or metal pan, spread about ½ cup of sauce on the bottom, arrange the eggplant pieces. Top with some sauce, slices of mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Put under the broiler for 10 minutes until the cheese melts. 

Plate with the pasta-kale and some sauce.  
   
  

     
Buon appetito!

Grilled Bone Marrow with Rosemary and Lemon

 This is a simple but tasty way to start a meal.

Allow 1 or 2 pieces of marrow per person. Select marrows about 3 inches long or have your butcher cut it.

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.

Cut a 4-inch foil and wrap the bottom of each marrow and stand in a baking pan.

Chop fresh rosemary.

Finely zest 2 lemons, preferably, Meyer lemons.

On top of each marrow, put a ½ tsp each rosemary and lemon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Drizzle with olive oil. 

Bake for 20 minutes.

Slice a French bagette thinly. Arrange in a baking pan and put in the oven, bottom shelf, in the last 5 minutes to crisp.

Serve with lemon wedges.

To enjoy, spoon the marrow on toast. 

Whole Wheat Pandesal

Pandesal is a Philippine bread typically made of four basic ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water. Hence, the name pan de sal or bread with salt. It’s baked like dinner rolls only topped with bread crumbs. 

A bit healthier than white flour, here’s a whole wheat version.
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flour. This makes the whole wheat flour dough soft. 
  • 1/4 cup non-fat powdered milk
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup or 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • Bread crumbs for dusting

Directions.

  • If using a bread maker to make the dough, load all the ingredients in the order listed. Set to Whole Wheat Dough setting.   
  • If kneading using a stand mixer, mix using dough hook at low speed for 5 – 7 minutes until it forms a soft ball. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let rise for 2 hours.
  • When complete, cut the dough in 16 pieces and arrange in a baking pan. Using store bought bread crumbs, sprinkle generously on top of the shaped rolls. Let rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Bake in the middle rack for 15 minutes.  If using white whole wheat flour, the color of the baked bread is golden. 

This is really good right out of the oven with butter or cheese. 

  
  
 

Sumang Cassava (Cassava Steamed in Banana Leaves)

The beautiful banana leaves in the garden made my husband think of eating ‘suman’. Suman is a Filipino dish, usually sweet, made of rice or cassava wrapped in banana leaves and cooked by steaming.
When I make this type of Philippine sweet, I always go back to the basic recipe in the old, ripped, yellowing pages of a manual I saved decades ago.
Fresh cassava root is widely available now in supermarkets or Asian provision stores if you live in the West, East and South coasts of the Unites States. Frozen cassava can be substituted.
As with the cassava, the coconut and banana leaves are also available fresh or frozen.
To prepare the banana leaves, cut about 12 – 6 inch pieces. Then pass each pieces over a hot stove to wilt the leaves. This will prevent from ripping when wrapping.
Ingredients:
3 cups grated cassava, fresh or frozen
1 cup grated coconut, fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
1 cup jackfruit, cut in pieces. I added this for flavor and aroma.
This recipe will make 12 pieces of suman.

To grate the fresh cassava, I use a food processor. A manual grater can also be used.
Measure all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until thoroughly mixed.
Alternately, just mix everything by hand.
To wrap, put 3 tablespoons of the mixture on one side and roll. Tuck the ends under. Set aside while making a second piece. Using a kitchen twine, tie the two pieces together on both ends with the folds facing each other.
What I like to do when I make suman is use a smaller pieces of banana leaf and position the layers with the grains in opposite directions.
Using a steamer, cook for 30 minutes. Make sure that there is enough water on the bottom pan at all times.
Unwrap, enjoy while warm!

(The rest can be stored in the refrigerator up to a week or freezer bags in the freezer for a month. To enjoy, thaw and microwave for a minute.)

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Homegrown anything is just amazing! We recently harvested these beautiful bananas from our garden. How cool is that.

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Banana bread is just one way we enjoyed this bounty. I adapted this recipe from King Arthur’s Flour.  Double the recipe to make two flavors from the same batter.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups ripe bananas, about 4 medium size
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾  cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½  cup chopped walnuts  or ½  cup chocolate chips

Cinnamon Topping:

  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • ½ cup walnuts

Chocolate Espresso Topping. Make sure to use a good instant espresso coffee because this tastes absolutely delicious.

  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 T espresso coffee
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Procedure:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the loaf pan.
  • Put bananas, oil, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla in a food processor with plastic blade, pulse until combined. Or using a large bowl, mash the bananas and mix the above ingredient stirring to combine.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients and continue mixing/pulsing  until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour half of the batter in a separate bowl. Mix nuts on one and chocolate on the other.
  • Pour the batter into the pan.
  • On one pan, spread the walnut on top, then spread the mixed brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • On the other pan, spread the chocolate chips on top and then with the mixed brown sugar and espresso coffee.

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  • Bake for 60 minutes.  Test with a cake tester. Bake an additional 10 minutes if not done.
  • Remove from the oven, cool in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer to a rack to completely cool.
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With walnut and cinnamon brown sugar topping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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With chocolate chips and espresso brown sugar topping.

 

Slice and enjoy! Just another way to spell H-O-M-E!

 

 

DIM-SUM

Last Friday was my turn to host the neighbors’ monthly get-together.  Inspired by the Chinese New Year celebrated this year on January 31, I decided to make it a dim-sum night.  These are the items I prepared.

Beef Sio-mai on spinach wrap

Beef Siomai on spinach wrap

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb ground sirloin, I purchased the pack with the lowest fat content
  • ¼ cup chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 t sesame seed oil
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 1 t sugar
  • ¼ cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 25 pieces spinach wonton wrapper.  The package suggests to use this type of wrapper to make vegetable dumplings, but I thought it would add some color and I decided to use green peas to complement the  spinach wrap.

Mix all the ingredients and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup boneless chicken breast, chopped
  • ¼ c chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ c Chinese black mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame seed oil
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 15 pieces shrimps, shell and slice in the middle to remove the black vein
  • 25 Siomai wrapper

Mix all the ingredients, except the shrimps and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Wrap the siomai using 1 T of chicken top with half the shrimp. Make a circle using the index finger and the thumb. Put the siomai on the hole and lightly grab the ends to make the siomai pockets.

Chicken Siopao

Chicken Siopao

I have posted the recipe for Chicken Siopao. For this occasion, I just made them smaller, about 2 inches diameter.

Turkey Dumpling

Dumpling with Turkey

This is actually called Peking Kuo-Tieh Dumplings.

Dough Skin:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cup boiling water
  • 5 T cold water

Sift flour in a bowl, mix in the boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, then add the cold water. Transfer into a mixer or knead manually until it forms a soft ball.

Filling:

  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • 1 T chopped  fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 1 T rice wine

Cut the dough into round the size of a pecan nut. Using a rolling-pin, flatten each and put 1 T of filling.  Make pleats on one side of the round and pinch on the other side to form the dumpling. This process really takes time but it is worth it.

Boil water in a pot. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water few pieces at a time. The dumpling will first sink into the bottom of the pan and then rise to the top when cooked. Scoop out each floating dumpling and set aside. Spray some oil to prevent from sticking to each other. Store in the refrigerator. This can be done the day before.

On the day of the party, fry the dumplings in a hot pan with little oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan. This takes about 3 minutes on each side.

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Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor

Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor

Ingredients:

  • 2  lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs, If you buy the ones with bones, simply cut around the bones. Cut in bite-size squares.

Marinade overnight in:

  • ¼ c vinegar
  • 1 whole clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric, finely chopped or 2  t turmeric powder if fresh is not available
  • ½ cup chopped lemongrass
  • 2 T salt

On the day of the party, put 3 or 4 pieces in small bamboo skewers.  With little oil to prevent sticking, cook the sticks in a pan for 5 minutes each side. Start with a really hot pan.

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb egg noodles. udon noodles will work too
  • 4 pieces scallions, the white part only, slice lengthwise
  • 3 pieces of kirby cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers, or equivalent measure of English cucumbers
  • 1 sweet red pepper, slice into strips
  • 1 cup carrots, cut in sticks
  • Dressing: 2 t sesame  oil; 1 T peanut oil, 1 T peanut butter, 2 T rice vinegar, 1 T miso, pepper to taste .

Boil water in a pot and cook the noodles according to package directions.  Rinse and drain when done.

Make the dressing and toss everything. Serve immediately or keep cool in the refrigerator.

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 can sweet red beans. I cooked mine using dried azuki beans, sweetened with little sugar
  • 1 cup  Philippine sweet coconut or macapuno, optional

Use the same dough as for siopao. Put 1 T filling inside and steam for 10 minutes.

Egg Custard Tart

Egg Custard Tart

Custard:

  • 1 ½ c hot water
  • ½ c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t white vinegar
  • Dissolve sugar in hot water. Allow to cool and add the remaining ingredients. Strain and set aside.

Pastry:

  •  1 ½ c all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 stick, plus 2 T cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Combine flour and sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Combine the egg and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Transfer into a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  • Divide the dough into 18 or 20 pieces and press into 2 ½: tart pans. Since I don’t own the small  tart pans, I used the mini muffin pan.
  • Stir the custard mixture and pour into each tart. Bake in pre-heated 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Can be served hot or cold.

I offered different sauces to go with the dim-sums.

  • Soy-Vinegar.  ¼ cup soy sauce,  3 T rice vinegar, ½ t black pepper, finely sliced 1 scallion. Mix together. This is good for the dumplings. For variation, instead of scallions use, 1 T finely diced fresh ginger.
  • Hoisin-Sesame:  3 T hoisin sauce, 1 t sesame oil. Mix. This is good on Chicken Siopao.
  • Worcestershire: Also good used in the chicken siopao.

For drinks I served lychee juice,  jasmine tea and chilled sake.

Making each dumpling requires patience.  It’s been my habit to turn the TV on while I work in the kitchen. This time I tuned in to Netflix for my favorite old movies. I figured since I already saw the movies several times,  there is no need to pay attention much to the dialogues while making the dumplings.

Dim-sum night was a hit. My friend Isabel said to me, ‘this is over the top, you know I can’t match this’,  while her Italian husband said, ‘I am serving pizza on my turn!’.

To that I responded, ‘I would like that since I have been saying that the day I meet a pizza I like, is the day I become a true Floridian’.

Because right now, when it comes to food,  my heart still belongs to New York!

By the way, I completed the preparation of these good morsels while two of my favorite old movies played on the TV: School Ties and Last Holiday.  It provides me with the proper rhythm. Try it, it’s fun.

Laing (Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk)

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Freshly harvested taro corm and leaves

I decided my taro plant is ripe for harvesting.  The plant was from a corm I obtained from an Asian store.  This member of the potato family is called many names in different places.  The most famous variety is the Hawaiian taro. In the Philippines, it is known as gabi. In the Caribbean countries, it is called malanga. And yet in other places like Japan and India, it is known as eddoe.

I know that in the Philippines, the leaves and stalks are eaten as well and in Hawaiian cooking, meat or fish are wrapped and cooked in taro leaves.  I have never learned to cook the  gabi leaves and so I posted to my Facebook friends and asked for suggestions as to what to do with the leaves. Apparently, there are two schools of thought on the matter: one is to cook the leaves and stalks when fresh and the other, is to dry them first.  Only one friend, who hails from the Bicol region which I believe is the home of this dish gave a detailed instructions on how to prepare  the fresh leaves.  A good number of friends, said that the leaves should be dried.

To seize the opportunity, I decided to try to cook them fresh first.  I’ll try the dried ones, the next harvest time.

My ingredients:

  • 10 stalks of gabi or taro
  • 2 cans of coconut milk. But since I was out of canned coconut milk, I extracted the cream from freshly grated coconut that I keep in the freezer.  I extracted a total of 2 cups of liquid.
  • 1 T sliced  garlic
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 T thin strips of fresh ginger. My ginger also came from my garden.
  • fresh hot peppers.
  • 3 T fish sauce.  I decided to make it a vegetarian dish so that it can be eaten as a side dish to fish or meat.  Everyone suggested to sauté with either smoked fish or pork.
  • 1 t oil

Procedure:

  • Peel the stalks and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Cut the leaves in small pieces, about 1/2 inch squares
  • Heat the oil in a pan, stir fry the garlic, ginger and onions for about 3  minutes enough to release the aroma of the garlic and ginger.
  • Add the taro leaves and stalks, coconut milk and fish sauce. Cover and bring to boil.
  • Lower the heat. Simmer  to slowly cook the leaves. Check and stir once in a while to make sure that the bottom is not burning.
  • Cook until the coconut oil is rendered. This takes a good hour.
  • Add the hot pepper any time  you desire to control the spiciness.

The resulting dish resembles creamed spinach. The taste,  non of that bite on the throat that everyone says would result when the leaves are not dried first.  This dish was never prepared in our home in the Philippines. I probably ate this no more than 3 times in my entire life. So I can’t be an expert on this dish.

But my laing is tasty. We just had it for lunch as a side to grilled fish.

Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk

Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk