Instagram Has Killed The Radio Blog?

No it really hasn’t! If anything, it’s my crazy schedule that’s been hindering me from updating my blog!

Instagram is a quick and dirty way to share my foodie adventures, so please add me up! I’ll try to upload more recipes as they come.

I just came back from the East Coast/USA and I finally understand why bagels are a BIG DEAL!

OMG it’s basically warm and chewy pizza crust, which is one of the best things on earth!. I love salmon. I love cream cheese. So dang if this didn’t hit the spot.

I also tried Famous Nathan’s hot dogs. They were…underwhelming? Maybe some Gray Papaya’s next time when I see them!

Yay Waffles!

Yay! Got myself a new waffle iron for Christmas. So I get to make waffles, thus ending the monotony of Saturday morning pancake breakfasts. It came with a cookbook on how to make waffles, it is quite easy.

For 20 waffles:

A block of soft butter or margarine (250 g), 200 g sugar, 2 packets vanilla sugar, 5 eggs, 500 g flour, 5 g baking powder, and 400 ml milk.

Scramble the eggs, stir in the sugar and the butter/margarine into a smooth dough. Add the vanilla sugar, flour, and baking powder. Slowly add the milk until the batter has a smooth consistency.

The batter is much heavier than pancake batter, it doesn’t run or spread as much as pancake batter, and has a stiffer consistency after cooking,

I was also pretty stoked that I got a Raclette grill, cookbooks galore (I Know How to Cook and The Silver Spoon), and new china. What did you get for Christmas?

Nigella’s New Orleans Coleslaw

It’s really nice that this dinner with friends thing is turning into a regular happening. Last dinner’s theme was comfort food, which accidentally turned into a belated 4th of July party. A friend made fried chicken and Macaroni and cheese, and I made Nigella Lawson’s New Orleans Coleslaw.

A surprisingly easy recipe to make, with unanticipated substitutions. The recipe calls for either white or Savoy cabbage, known as Wirsing in Germany. I thought I wouldn’t be able to find it since it’s summer, but it was all there for the taking. I thought pecans wouldn’t be a problem, but I couldn’t find them even after scouring three supermarkets that I ended up substituting with walnuts.

Julienne-ing the cabbage was the fun part. Mixing them in a too small-bowl was trickier. Anyhoo, I got really good results and I would really recommend this recipe!

Vanilla Sugar or Vanilla Extract?

So, we’ve been beset by Christmas cookie baking season. I’m also late in the game, and I plan to change that this weekend.

I grew up in the Philippines using Vanillin, which is artificial vanilla extract. It is quite ironic, since we could grow vanilla in the Philippines. I used it to bake cookies, to flavor drinks.

In Germany, I was able to get my hands on the real thing, at Xenos, of all places. Xenos is a Dutch-owned chain that sells cheap, classy looking Chinese crap (excuse my French, but products aren’t really great), and some exotic food items.

However, Germany is not vanilla extract land. Over here, they use vanilla sugar. in fact, vanilla extract is hard to find in stores in Germany. Over here, vanilla sugar reigns!

Ever since I found a super recipe for making my own vanilla extract, I’ve never looked back. Reformhaus in Germany doesn’t tempt me anymore with its overpriced vanilla extract. A vial of good vanilla beans with 2 pieces in it can set you back 5 euros, way cheaper than 7 euros for 100 ml of vanilla extract. This is literally the never ending vanilla extract. It will last you for years. So when I bake American, I use vanilla extract.

But since I developed full-blown baking fever in Germany, I also have a lot of German recipes that use vanilla sugar. I think this is a great option for people who can’t eat/drink anything with alcohol in it.  I don’t understand why so many people buy vanilla sugar in those 50 g packets, when making your own is so much more cheaper! Many people make their own vanilla sugar by throwing in two vanilla beans in an airtight container full of sugar, but I prefer Jaime Oliver’s recipe.

In Jaime’s book The Naked Chef, he recommends blitzing 4 vanilla beans in a food processor, scraping the black gunk from the sides, and adding 1 kg of white sugar. Blitz it again and sieve. Blitz what remains in the sieve again in the food processor until you get a brown-grayish mass.

Since I have the option of using both, I normally use vanilla extract AND vanilla sugar in my  recipes. wasteful, yes but worth it. 🙂

The Mommy Files: Well-Played, Peking

As I have mentioned, I am always on the lookout for amenities for families with young children. Peking Airport has really done well in this aspect! There are several “parents only” restrooms with a changing table for babies, and a fully-equipped playground (Made in Germany).

Flying to Manila from Frankfurt via Air China means a six-hour stopover in Peking. Passengers can nap on lounge chairs in a remote corner of the airport, not so far from where this playpen is located. It does face the sun, however, so be prepared for a tan afterwards.

Families, if they request for it early enough, can get a room in the airport hotel/lounge and sleep there for a few hours. The room is tiny, and there is a lot left to be desired, hygiene-wise, but after a long flight, a bed–any bed–seems like sweet relief.

So in total, I give Peking Airport an A-.

 

Julia Child’s Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe

While it could be described as wasteful, I would have to say that this recipe puts the cream in cream of mushroom soup. As Julia Child recipes go, this requires copious amounts of butter. Yum.

You would need:

3/4 to 1 pound mushrooms (300 to 400 g). I used Champignons.

A 2 1/2 quart saucepan, and 2 smaller saucepans. Heavy-bottomed.

1/4 cup minced onions

5 Tablespoons of butter

3 Tablespoons of flour.

6 cups of boiling white stock/broth. the book says chicken, I used pork and broccoli.

2 Tablespoons parsley, and their sprigs

1/3 bay leaf

1/8 tsp thyme

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt, a bit more to season, and pepper.

2 egg yolks and whipping cream (Schlagsahne) For lack of it, I discovered that plain yoghurt was a good alternative.

Julia also talks about fluted mushroom caps. It is basically a way to decorate the mushrooms, jazz them up a bit.  I’ll talk about them later.

First off, you have to clean the mushroom with a paper towel to rid it of the dirt. Then separate the stems from the caps. After that, save 5 to six of the best looking caps, chopping the rest of the caps into thin slices. 

Cook the onions in the big pot in 3 Tablespons of butter over slow heat, up to 8 minutes. The onions should be tender, but not brown. Add the flour and stir over moderate heat without browning. Take it off the heat.

Your stock should be boiling in another pot. Off heat, beat the broth into the onion with a wire whisk and blend thoroughly, bit by bit. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mushroom stems, parsley sprigs and herbs, and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Strain, and press the juices out of the mushroom stems. Then return the soup back into the now-empty saucepan.

In the saucepan where the stock used to be, I melted 2 Tbsp butter in medium-low heat until it bubbled. The book says foaming. Then toss in the thinly sliced mushroom caps, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and the 1 tsp lemon juice. Cover and cook for five minutes. Then add the whole thing, juices included, in the soup base and simmer for 10 minutes. If you are not using this immediately, pour a tablespoon of milk on the soup and wait until it forms a film over the surface. Re-heat to a simmer before the next step.

Beat the egg yolks and cream with salt and pepper in a mixing bowl( in my case I just re-used a saucepan for less washing-up). Beat in the hot soup by the spoonful, until a cup of soup has been added. Then gradually stir in the rest. Return to the bigger saucepan and stir over moderate heat for a minute or two, but don’t let the soup come to a simmer.

fluted mushrooms

As for decorations, remember the saved mushroom caps? Basically all you need to do
is to press the mushroom between your thumb and middle finger. Take a paring knife and and cut a shallow incision diagonally, from where your thumb is. And make a parallel cut to form a wedge. 

  Like so.

When you’ve peeled the top off, you’ll have a white triangular strip. With your index finger, turn the cap towards the groove between your thumb and index finger and start over, until you’ve made a mushroom “flower”. Saute the caps in some butter and a spritz of lemon juice.
Before serving the soup, stir in 3 Tablespoons of butter by the tablespoon. Pour into the serving bowls, and decorate with the fluted mushroom caps and finely chopped parsley.
This was so rich and creamy, I was secretly happy that the Germans did not touch this when I brought this to a pot-luck! It was meant to serve eight people, so I ended up eating this for the next two days.

Book Review: Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Mastering the Art of French Cooking is an American classic, a cookbook normally handed down through generations.

Written by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle, it revolutionized post-war American kitchens by breaking middle-class America’s infatuation with processed food and replacing it with another infatuation; namely French cuisine.

I got the book after our book club watched the film “Julie and Julia” over the Christmas holidays. I decided to read it like a novel. I am still at “Sauces.”

What they say about this book is really true: the recipes are all road-tested and fool-proof. Have you ever tried a recipe, and then ended up adding this and doing that differently because it didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? It has never happened with this book. Not yet, anyway.

The descriptions and instructions sometimes bug me, because it is just so anal, but I get it, Julia and Simone. I understand why you are being so anal. It’s not to annoy me, it’s basically to ensure that I get the best–dare I say–the only? result I am supposed to get.

I have tried to see whether I can find shortcuts to some of the procedures. I still haven’t thought of one that would give me a better result. If I do find that rare loophole, I’ll let you know. Anyway, this book is a keeper and worth the money you’ve paid for it. Get the hardbound version, you won’t regret it.

My Imitation Orange Chicken Recipe ala Panda Express

Anyone who has been to the US West Coast would have heard of Panda Express. It is a Chinese restaurant chain from California and looking at their website, I could see that they are growing fast, with locations in NYC and Mexico.

I really loved their Orange Chicken, and started craving for it when I got back to Germany. I tried to re-create it at home. I tried different recipes, found one that had potential, and adjusted it according to my tastes.

You would need:

1 kg chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

Breading:

1 egg, salt and white pepper, 1 Tbsp. wok oil or sesame oil, and 1 proportion cornstarch to 4 of flour. That means if you are using 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, you need 4 Tbsp. of flour. If you can find tapioca starch, much better!

Sauce for stir-frying:

1 Tbsp. minced ginger, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp crushed chili pepper or a knifetip of sambal olek, 1/4 cup spring onions, 1 Tbsp. rice wine, 1 Tbsp cornstarch (or Tapioca starch) and 1 cup water.

Orange Sauce

3 Tbsp. light soy sauce, 2 Tbsp sugar, 3 Tbsp. water, Juice of 1 orange (abt. 5 Tbsp.), and if available, zest of an orange.

FIRST, PREPARE THE SAUCE! I cannot stress this enough.

Mix all the ingredients of the orange sauce in a cup. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, Saute ginger and garlic in about a tablespoon of oil until fragrant (use wok oil if available). Add the chili or sambal olek and green onions. Add the rice wine, and the orange sauce. In the same cup, mix the cornstarch with the water, dilute and pour into the saucepan. Stir until the sauce has thickened. Set aside.

Now it’s time to work the breading and chicken.

Place the chicken in a bowl, and season it with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, scramble the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper too. In yet another bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, more salt and pepper with a wire whisk to incorporate well.

Now it’s time to deep-fry the chicken. Take a small, deep saucepan or soup pot. Mix normal oil with the wok or sesame oil, until you have about half a cup of oil. Please use new oil to minimize the risk of setting your house on fire. Set the stove on medium high and wait until the oil starts making diamond patterns (at least on my stove!) Dip the chicken pieces into the egg, then the flour mixture, and deep fry until golden brown. Do not overcrowd your pot! Overcrowding the pot means you will end up with soggy chickens, since this lowers the heat. Once a piece is done, set aside on a plate covered with a paper towel. You can mix the chicken with the sauce or ladle it on top of the chicken before serving to ensure crispiness!

I enjoyed this recipe so much, and I hope you will too. Homesick Californians have no excuse now to miss Orange Chicken 🙂