Monday, December 31, 2012

Italian American Meatloaf (Polpettone)

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Christmas lunch was a success, thanks to all new recipes that I thought I will give a try. I just wanted something different for a change from the usual Filipino food that everybody prepares for the holiday season. I of course turned to Lidia for some inspiration. Her recipes always come out a success no matter how bad you are in the cooking department. A not so new thing for me, I decided to try and make her meatloaf recipe. I used to follow a friend's recipe for meatloaf but I tired of it and it was only now that I thought I'd give the meatloaf another go but with an Italian flair this time.

While making the meat mixture, I totally forgot that the meat here is sold in kilograms while in the US, the pound unit is still in use. I then ended up with two times the amount of meat that I initially needed but after a few minor changes, things worked out quite well. The meatloaf is delicious and very moist and worked quite well paired with either rice pilaf or a French bread. You can definitely cut this recipe in half if two loaves of meatloaf is just a bit too much for you.

Italian American Meatloaf - Adapted*

3 lbs ground pork
3 lbs ground beef
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 cup onions, diced finely
4 tbsp garlic cloves, minced
1 cup celery stalks, diced finely
2 cup diced tomatoes, canned
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 tsp salt
4-5 tbsp olive oil
4 cups country bread, diced
1 1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten

1.  In a small bowl, combine the sliced country bread with the milk. Allow the 
     milk to soak into the bread. Mash with your hands until a fine mixture is 
     obtained. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Line a large baking pan (10x10 inch) and grease with the olive oil. You can 
    partition the pan into two to obtain two meatloaves. 

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Add the bread
    mixture and work into the meat mixture with your hands. Do not overmix.

4. Transfer meat mixture into the prepared pan and smoothen the top and 
    edges to form a uniform loaf.

5. Bake in the oven for about an hour or until the internal temperature 
    registers at 160°F. Let cool for about 15 minutes.

6. Transfer onto a large serving plate and slice. Drizzle the gravy from the 
    baking pan all over and serve some on the side as well. 

* Lidia's Italy: Italian American Meatloaf (Polpettone).

Duck Cassoulet

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I never really thought that this will be something I'll be able to tackle if it were not for my friend, Agent Macy, who demystified the myth about duck being very difficult to cook. I guess it was fate that brought this event to pass since I also saw the movie Julie and Julia on tv a few weeks back and to quote Julie when she was cooking stuffed duck: "No fear!" It was definitely no time to be fearful although the pressure was on since the main dish upon my suggestion for the dinner event was Cassoulet. To be exact, Duck Cassoulet.

I heard of Cassoulet from my French friend Cedric especially after he went to France for a conference although he is from France so to him, it was just a trip home. They may have partaken of this dish since it was brought up in conversation when they came back. I looked the dish up at that time but having no experience with cooking a duck, it was an alien concept to me. As of late though, my friends have been craving for a duck stew courtesy again of my friend Agent Macy and this gave me the courage to tackle something I've never cooked before. Thus, I'm presenting my rustic and simple version of Duck Cassoulet. With no duck confit available and after totally forgetting that it can be actually prepared ahead of time, I figured using a whole duck will be good enough for this dish. I synthesized my own version from two recipes of this dish: one is from Julia Child and the other is from Mark Bittman of the New York times. Bon Apetit! 

Duck Cassoulet

5-6 lbs whole duck, cut into smaller pieces*
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme, dried
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
2 cups white wine
5 tbsp tomato paste
5-6 cups beef broth
5 lbs Cervelat sausages, halved
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 14-oz cans white beans, drained
2 cups bread crumbs + tsp of Herbes de Provence
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, brown the duck skin side down in 
    2 tablespoons olive oil. Fry in batches and make sure that the skin is crisp 
    and golden brown. Flip until all sides have been browned. Set aside both 
    the browned duck and the frying pan with the rendered fat. 

2. In a deep pot over medium high heat, saute the onions and garlic in the 
    remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened. 
    Add the bay leaves and the dried herbs and saute for another minute. 

3. Add the wine and the broth and bring to a gentle boil. Return the duck 
    pieces and cook at a boil for about 5 minutes. Lower heat and bring to a 
    simmer and cover. Cook for about 2 hours or until the duck is tender. 

4. While the duck is cooking, melt the butter into the duck fat in the frying 
    pan used to brown the duck. Add the sausages and brown on all sides. Set 

5. Add the tomato paste and check for flavor. Make sure you have enough 
    broth covering the duck meat. Add water if necessary. Add the drained 
    canned beans and the sausages with the fat and cook for another 5 
    minutes. Check for flavor and remove from heat. 

6. To assemble the cassoulet, arrange a layer of the beans in a 9x13 baking 
    dish and top with the duck meat and sausages. Cover with the rest of the 
    beans and the sauce. 

7. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and top with a teaspoon of Herbes de Provence.
    Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 30 minutes. Halfway through,
    poke the toasted breadcrumbs into the cassoulet with a large spoon. If a 
    bit dry, add a little bit of water to prevent it from burning.

8. Serve with a good loaf of French bread.

* The duck was cut into smaller pieces as you would a chicken. It is a bit tougher so be ready to sweat just a tiny bit. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Beef Braised in Beer (Brasato alla Birra)

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Another holiday recipe I decided to try out is Lidia's Braised Beef in Beer. The recipe is basically a three step process so it was a good choice for this holiday season where the degree of cooking is in the stratospheric level for most families. As I was the sole cook, I had to come up with recipes that were both simple and yet, delicious. The recipe actually reminds me of Beef Goulash in a way. The main difference lies in what was used to flavor this dish. My choice of beer is the local dark ale, San Miguel Cerveza Negra. 2 bottles were enough to flavor the meat during the braising process. I actually did the braising part in a pressure cooker so the cooking time was reduced to just under an hour as opposed to 3 hours. I used large chunks of beef and sliced them thinly prior to serving. It was delicious. 

Beef Braised in Beer - Adapted*

4-5 lbs beef chuck
4 oz bacon, diced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 large onions, diced finely
2 bottles of dark ale
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
6 cups beef broth
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp thyme, dried
4 tbsp olive oil

1. Coat the beef pieces with the flour. Meanwhile, in a large pot over 
    medium high heat, brown the bacon until it has rendered its fat and is 
    crisp. Spoon out the bacon and set aside. 

2. Tap off the excess flour and brown the beef in batches on all sides on 
    the bacon fat. Set aside. 

3. Add the olive oil and saute the garlic and onions. Season with salt and 
    pepper. Continue to cook until softened. Return the bacon pieces and the 
    thyme. Cook for another minute. 

4. Add the broth and bring it to a boil. Drop the browned meat carefully into 
    the broth and add the beer. Bring to a rolling boil and cover. Lower the 
    heat to low and continue to simmer for about 2-3 hours or until the meat 
    is tender. 

5. Once the meat is tender, add the mustard and check for flavor. Adjust 
    accordingly. Simmer for another 10 minutes. 

6. To serve, slice the meat pieces into thin slices. Fan out the meat pieces on
    a large tray and drizzle the sauce over it. Serve the remaining sauce on 
    the side. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired.

* Lidia's Italy: Beef Braised in Beer (Brasato alla Bira). 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Arroz ala Cubana

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
One of the few things I loved eating as a college student was this Cuban-inspired dish. The flavors have been adapted and Filipinized but the fact that it is easy to make and quite tasty makes it a favorite of hungry young students like I was once a very long time ago. It might seem very basic considering that it is traditionally served with steamed white rice together with fried eggs and Saba bananas (or plantains) but that is part of its appeal. Put together, the flavors just makes sense. You might mistake it for a breakfast meal but it actually makes a wonderful meal any time of the day. When you are hungry and on a budget, this is definitely the meal for you. 

Arroz ala Cubana

2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 dried bay leaves
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp ground annatto seeds (or smoked paprika)
5 tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp chopped parsley

3-4 Saba or 2 large ripe plantains

1. In a small pan, heat 3 tbsp oil over low heat and add the annatto seeds. 
    Heat until the oil turns orange red. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Add 
    the garlic and onions and season with salt and pepper and saute until 
    softened. Add the bay leaves and cook until aromatic.

3. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned. 
    Add the annatto oil and mix well. 

4. Add the potatoes and carrots and the beef broth. Bring to a boil and cover 
    until the vegetables are tender but firm. Lower the heat to medium.

5. Add the tomato paste and raisins and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add 
    the peas and cook until bright green. Check for flavor and adjust 
    accordingly. Garnish with the copped parsley.

6. Serve the dish with steamed rice and fried bananas and eggs.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mango Pavlova

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
After a few trials, I finally got this dessert right. Using my oven here in the Philippines, I mean. I've always thought making pavlova was something I can do in my sleep but to do so, you will need a reliable oven. Mine isn't so reliable at the moment so I had to make sure I had the means to control the oven temperature before proceeding with this dessert again. I made a double batch of this pavlova a few weeks ago and it came out okay although the edges were way too brittle. The taste was alright and my friends actually loved it. I was relieved. Still, I was not satisfied and I wanted to perfect it for my blog. 

For this version, I used a single recipe of the Pavlova from the Joy of Baking website and topped it with my Mango Fool and finished off the dessert with more slices of mangoes. The result is quite spectacular both in the ease of preparation and in the taste of this heavenly and summery dessert. You can also use regular whipped cream or follow the recipe from the pavlova recipe I adapted this dessert from and either one works. One word of advice: keep the cream base chilled until ready to serve and assemble only prior to serving.

Mango Pavlova

1 recipe of Pavlova base
1 recipe of Mango Fool
2 ripe mangoes

1.  Prepare the meringue as per instructions on the Joy of Baking website. 
     Cool and set aside. 

2. Prepare the Mango Fool recipe or if using regular cream, whip the same 
    amount of heavy cream and beat to stiff peaks and flavor with one 
    teaspoon of vanilla extract.

3. Top with more mango slices and serve immediately. 

Mango Fool

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Mango Fool was something that came to mind when I was trying to make Mango Pavlova. My initial attempt at a pavlova since I've been home has been a mitigating failure due in part to my uncontrolled oven temperature. I got a bit optimistic when I finally bought an oven thermometer which gave me some sort of control on the baking temperature of my oven. 

With a few ideas ringing in my head, I decided to go for both the Mango Pavlova and of course, Mango Fool. Mango Fool is a departure from a recipe of Nigella Lawson, the Rhubarb Fool prepared by caramelizing in-season rhubarb stalks with white sugar in the oven. I figured there has to be a Mango Fool version and I was right. There are actually quite a few version so I decided to make mine a bit simpler. For both desserts though, an essential love for something creamy is a must. Otherwise, there is no point in experimenting with both desserts. The Pavlova recipe is up next.

Mango Fool

4 ripe mangoes
2 tbsp Cognac
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Base:
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Slice the mangoes and spoon out the flesh. Mash with the back of a fork. 
    Add the vanilla extract and Cognac and mix. Set aside in the fridge.

2. In a mixer bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add in the 
    sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Add the vanilla and fold into the mixture. 


You can prepare this dessert as a layered treat or you can go rustic as well. If you are serving this for dinner with friends, I suggest the layered version but if it is a dinner for one or two, go for the simpler or rustic version and indulge shamelessly. It is however best to let the flavors meld so prepare about an hour or two before serving it.

To prepare the layered version, take a wine glass and alternate layers starting with the cream base and ending with the mango mixture. Garnish with more mango slices and a dollop of the cream base. 

To prepare the rustic version, fold in the mango mixture into the cream base and serve in large dollops in a deep bowl.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Polpette di Livia (Livia's Meatballs)

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is quite the breakaway star having the most request for a recipe from my co-workers when I offered my services to cater for lunch since we were going to have a lunch party in the office. I had no class that day so I had the time to prepare lunch for about 25 people. I presented them with an Italian menu and I'm glad I found most of the ingredients I needed to pull off this ambitious plan. To balance the more involved recipes, I decided to cook one of the simplest dish I could find: Sophia Loren's meatball dish. A favorite of her two sons, this dish is indeed a family recipe. Very simple but also quite rich and very very delicious. With all the excitement of an office party, I failed to take pictures of the dishes I made and considering that this is a new recipe for my blog, I had no choice but to cook it all over again.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The dish involves a two-step process with each step being fairly basic. The meat patties are cooked first until browned on the outside. No need to worry about them being fully cooked since it will be reheated in the second step. The final step and this one is definitely the reason why it is so yummy or arteries-clogging depending on how you see it, is to cook the browned patties in a heavy cream sauce. I did away with the white wine and substituted with just chicken broth but if you have one on hand, I suggest you use it for this dish. 

Polpette di Livia - Adapted*

2 lbs ground pork (beef and turkey will also work)
8 slices of bread
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
salt and pepper
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup chicken broth (or 1/2 cup white wine + 1 cup broth)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a large bowl, douse the bread with the milk until softened. Mash with 
    your hands to break up the larger pieces. 

2. Add the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Combine well. 

3. In a large plate with about 1/2 cup flour, dredge 2-inch sized meat 
    patties and flatten a little bit. Do the same for the rest of the meat 

4. In a deep pan, heat the oil at medium heat and cook the patties until 
    browned on both sides. Set aside. 

5. In a new deep pan, bring the white wine to a boil if using and add the 
    broth and bring back to a gentle boil over medium low heat. Add the 
    browned meat patties and cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

6. Add the heavy cream and cook for another 2 minutes or until the cream 
    is heated gently. Do not bring to a boil. Serve immediately and garnish 
    with chopped parsley. 
*Loren, Sophia: Sophia Loren's Recipes and Memories, GT Publishing, New York: 1998.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Linguini al Limone (Linguini with Lemon)

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Another pasta dish that I decided to make was this simple pasta dish from Sophia Loren. I've made this dish before but I always thought it needed a little bit more sauce so that is what I did. The dish in itself is almost like pasta alfredo but the addition of lemon rind gives it a bit of a freshness which is quite unexpected. Also, A good drizzling of extra virgin olive oil makes the difference. It adds to the richness of the sauce without overpowering the citrus flavor of the lemon zest. I made this for breakfast and although my nephews loved it, I am sure they added more sauce to the dish when I left that day for work. Unlike me, they like their pasta dish swimming in sauce. I used dried linguini pasta instead of spaghetti which added more body to the whole dish. My nephews are growing boys so anything this heavy is actually something they prefer.

Linguini al Limone - Adapted*

2 lbs dried linguini
1/4 lb bacon, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper
Parmigiano cheese
zest of 3 lemons
olive oil

1. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. 

2. In a large saucepan, brown the bacon over medium low heat. Add the 
    butter and the garlic and cook until the garlic is slightly browned. 

3. Add the cream and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Keep 
    warm at low heat. 

4. Once the pasta has reached the al dente stage, toss into the warm sauce 
    and mix until combined. Remove from heat and add about a handful of 

5. Serve with a good drizzling of extra virgin olive oil.

* Loren, Sophia: Sophia Loren's Recipes and Memories; GT Publishing, New York: 1998.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Mother's Favorite Beef Stew

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I did not know that I have not featured this dish before. My Mom likes to call it Bakareta coined from the actual name of the original dish, Calderata. Caldereta is made with goat meat, thus, the change in the name since we are using "baka" or beef and a new yet familiar dish was born. The recipe is quite involved but I've simplified it using local ingredients and adding a few changes here and there. The most obvious is the use of small red onions which is the local variety of onion sold in the market here. Pearl onions would have been ideal but this more strongly flavored variety will be a more intensely-flavored addition to this stew. I definitely want to keep the overall flavor local so aside from oregano, the dish will be more of a Filipino beef stew in terms of flavor and a lot less Italian-inspired. I'm sure that my Mom will approve. This was one of her new faves the last time I came home for a visit when I was still living in the US and when she was still with us. This one is for you Mom! Love you always!

My Mother's Favorite Beef Stew

3 lbs beef, 1-inch dice
1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups small red onions, peeled
6-8 cups beef broth
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup green peas, frozen
1/4 cup green onions, sliced thinly
salt and pepper
1 cup flour, for dredging

1. Dredge the beef pieces in the flour. Tap off the excess. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Brown the beef in 
    batches and set aside. 

3. In the same pot, brown the small red onions and set aside. Add more oil if 

4. Saute the diced onions and garlic and cook until softened. Season with salt 
    and pepper. Add the bay leaves and oregano and cook for another minute.
    Return the browned beef with the liquid and mix well. 

5. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to low and 
    simmer covered until the beef is tender. This will take about an hour to 
    two hours.

6. Add the potatoes, carrots and browned small onions and cook until the 
    vegetables are tender. 

7. Add the tomato paste and stir well. Check for flavor and adjust 
    accordingly. Simmer for another ten minutes. 

8. Add the peas and green onions and cook until bright green. Check for 
    flavor one last time and serve right away.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chicken Cooked in the Manner of Rabbit

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKichen blogs
This dish is my version of something cooked a little bit differently because the main star of the dish is quite hard to find. Rabbit is considered a pet and is not really considered as a source of meat in my country. Thus, the best way to substitute this important ingredient is to use chicken. Turkey thighs might actually be a better substitute but they are also quite rare to find here in my local grocery store as well so chicken it is. 

The recipe is from Sophia Loren's cookbook and is a dish I've always wanted to try but never dared to. However, I'm running out of ideas on what dish to make so I figured now is a good a time as any to finally try it. A few changes included the omission of marinating the chicken pieces in vinegar. This is usually done to neutralize the gaminess of the rabbit meat but with chicken, there is no need to worry about this issue. I also used brandy instead of white wine to braise the chicken and it works quite well.

Chicken Cooked in the Manner of Rabbit

2 lbs chicken thighs, skin on
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup olive oil
4 oz bacon
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery branch, diced
1/2 tsp rosemary, dried
1/4 tsp thyme, dried
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup black olives
flour for dredging

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and tap off
    excess. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan. Fry the chicken pieces until
    browned on both sides. Set aside.

3. In the same pan, add the bacon and fry until crisp. Add the onions, celery
    and carrots and cook until softened. Add the herbs and cook for another

4. Add the brandy and bring to a boil. Return the chicken pieces and add the
    wine vinegar and once boiling, decrease the heat to low. Cover and
    simmer until the chicken pieces are cooked. If it gets too dry, add small
    amounts of water.

5. Season with salt and pepper and check for flavor. Adjust accordingly. Add
    the olives and cook for another 5 minutes. Check for flavor one last time
    and serve warm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cabbage Rolls

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
What do you do with leftover cabbage? Aside from coleslaw, I was wondering if there are other recipes that makes use of cabbage that did not involve stuffing it with meat or using it as a vegetable component of a meat dish. My first thought was a cabbage burger but I've never heard of one so I looked for a recipe of a burger patty or a burger fritter anyways and lo and behold, there it was: Cabbage Rolls. The recipe from Louanne's Kitchen blog called for a large cabbage so I had to buy more to ensure I had the right amount of cabbage for the recipe. The rolls are held together by an egg and bread crumbs and it definitely needs an overnight chilling to help keep it together in one piece prior to frying.

Cabbage Rolls - Adapted*

1 lb cabbage, shredded finely
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1-2 tsp salt
4 cups chicken broth

For frying:
1 large egg + 2 tbsp water, beaten
1 /2 cup flour
1/2-1 cup bread crumbs
pinch of basil and thyme
2-1/2 tsp coarse salt
vegetable oil for frying

1. Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the shredded cabbage and 
    cook until softened. Allow to cool and drain. 

2.  Combine the rest of the ingredients with the cooled cabbage and mix well.
     Allow to meld in the fridge for 6 hours to overnight.

3. When ready to fry, roll the cabbage mix into 1/4 cup-sized balls. Season 
    the flour and the breadcrumbs with a pinch of the herbs and 1/2 tsp of 
    salt. Set them aside in two separate platters. Beat the egg with 2 
    tablespoons of water in a shallow dish. 

4. Take one cabbage mix ball and roll in the seasoned flour. Dip in the egg 
    mixture and roll again in the breadcrumb mixture. Flatten the patty 
    before frying in the oil at medium heat. 

5. Do the same for the rest of the cabbage mix and fry until golden brown 
    on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with a side of tartar 

*Louanne's Kitchen blogs: Fried Cabbage Patties.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Seared Marinated Chicken with Shiitake Mushrooms

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I needed a chicken dish for a dinner I was cooking for my friends and I had very little time. Knowing from experience that my best bet would be one of Lidia's recipes, I found a recipe which I think will be great for a dinner for 12. I already cooked most of her dishes in her website so I needed to try something new. I was also cooking at my friend's house where there was no functional oven so I had to settle for a skillet-cooked dish.

Mushrooms were in season so I was glad that they were selling fresh shiitake mushrooms although I think they were oyster mushrooms and not the shitake ones. Either way, I got almost a kilogram of fresh mushrooms so I used most of them for this dish. I also used a handful of dried shitake to up the flavor of the dish without having to add white wine. My friends are not wine drinkers. 

Seared Marinated Chicken with Shiitake Mushrooms - Adapted*

3 lbs chicken breasts, skinned
1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, chopped 

Shitake Sauce:
1 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms
200 g dried Shiitake mushrooms 
4 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup brandy
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup capers

1. Marinate the chicken in the olive oil, crushed garlic, Herbes de Provence, 
    and season with a tablespoon of coarse salt and a few dashes of pepper. 
    Seal and store in the fridge for two hours. 

2. Reconstitute the dried mushrooms in the hot water. Let it soak until the 
    mushrooms has softened. Remove the stems and set aside the 
    reconstituted liquid.  

3. In a large skillet, heat the 4 tablespoon of olive oil and sear the chicken 
    in batches until browned on all sides. Set aside. 

4. In the same pan, add the minced garlic and saute until softened. Add the
    brandy and the softened mushrooms and bring to a boil.

5. Add the broth and reconstituted liquid and once boiling, return the chicken 
    pieces and braise until cooked through. Check for flavor. 

6. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan with a slotted spoon and 
    arrange in a serving platter.

7. To the sauce, add the butter and mix. Add the fresh mushrooms and 
    capers and cook until the mushrooms are softened. 

8. Spoon the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken pieces and garnish 
    with the chopped parsley. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired.

*Lidia's Italy: Seared Marinated Chicken Breasts with Shiitake Mushrooms.

Italian Meatballs in Savory Tomato Sauce

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I made this dish over the weekend when I cooked dinner for me and my Dad. He eats mostly fish everyday so every time I come home, I will cook something for him that is meat-based while I cook something that is fish-based for me. I try to eat less meat when I'm not at home but sometimes, a meat dish is what is readily available so I just try to eat less of it. Since I barely have any time to cook an elaborate dish, I go for the simple ones and this is what I came up with. 

The recipe is based on one of my trusted cookbooks but I tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes and what was available in my fridge. There was no need to really go all out since my Dad prefers to eat very simple dishes. This is actually both a blessing and a curse for me. I could try and fix a very complex dish and he might find it a bit too unusual for his tastes. If I go the simple route, he might really enjoy it but I end up making dishes that hardly need a recipe and are not worth posting on the blog. This dish is I think a compromise and is both simple and yet, complex enough it warrants a recipe. Here then is a meatball dish that can be eaten as is with a baguette or over a cup of hot steamed rice. You take your pick. 

Italian Meatballs in Savory Tomato Sauce

1 1/2 lb ground pork
1 onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
2 eggs
salt and pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small carrots, diced
1 cup broth
1 tsp dried oregano
1 30 oz diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup frozen peas

1. To make the meatballs, combine the ground pork, diced onions, Herbs de 
    Provence, eggs and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and 
    combine until just mixed. Form into one-inch balls and set aside. 

2. Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Fry the meatballs 
    in batches until just browned. Set aside. 

3. In the same pan, add the garlic and saute until softened. Add the diced 
    tomatoes  and the broth. Bring to a boil and add the oregano. Lower the 
    heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. 

4. Add the meatballs, tomato paste and the diced carrots and simmer for 
    another 15 minutes. If too thick, thin out with water.

5. Check for flavor and adjust accordingly. Add the peas and cook until 
    bright green. 

6. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blog
Okay, I know there is hardly any need for a recipe for this classic side dish but I think this slaw is quite good. The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart and I have to say, aside from her wedding cake recipe, I hardly use her recipes because she is quite annoying to watch. I tried but I find her very condescending so I usually pass on her recipes. However, this recipe is quite simple and truth be told, looked like a slaw I would love to munch on. I've tried some fairly complicated recipes and ended up with tons of coleslaw that I never wanted to eat again. This however, was really good especially after the flavors melded upon sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours. With a bit of a tweak since I wanted a smaller amount of coleslaw, I cut the amount in half and adjusted the spices according to my taste. 


1 lb cabbage
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp lemon or calamondin juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 large carrot, grated coarsely
1 onion, grated coarsely

1. Core and shred the cabbage. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the onions and 
    carrots and mix well. 

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with about a teaspoon of salt. 
    Cover and let sit in the fridge for two hours. 

3. Stir and check for flavor. Adjust with salt if needed.

Pork Moroccan Kebabs

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I already featured this dish using beef and featured as Kebab Koutbane. I essentially used the same recipe with a few changes in terms of spices. There wasn't anything wrong with the original recipe really. I just could not find the same spices here in the city where I live. I had my co-workers buy some of the spices but they ended up buying the wrong kind. I did not have the heart to tell them otherwise. 

Coriander is a pain to find here locally. Cilantro which is the plant from coriander tastes differently as a seed. The seed is a cross between a thyme and lemon so I ended up using dried thyme to at least give a hint of the missing coriander taste. I was also unsure if the marinate will translate well to pork which has a more bland flavor when not seasoned well so I upped it just a bit to make sure that the kebab will cook with the right amount of flavor. 

Pork Moroccan Kebabs

4 lbs pork meat, 1-inch dice
2 large onions, shredded
4 garlic cloves, grated
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp coarse salt
grape tomatoes

1. Marinate the pork in the oil, onions, garlic and spices. Leave it to marinate
    at room temperature for 3 hours. 

2. Skewer the seasoned pork in bamboo sticks and top with a tomato. Slather
    the leftover marinade over the kebabs before cooking on a charcoal spit. 

3. Cook until the meat is browned on all sides and serve immediately. 

Potato Salad with an Asian Flair

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
We are celebrating the birthday of our secretary this week and we decided to throw her a barbecue of sorts. For some reason, the parties in the office have developed a certain theme and this one is no exception. The choice for this party was American so I was actually in my element. I do know what it is that makes my American friends eat up a storm. Sadly, it is the exotic ones that seem to tickle their tastebuds. In the end, I had to settle for something that is both American with a bit of an Asian flavor to it.

I was tasked to prepare the actual barbecue which is kind of ironic or maybe unfortunate since I am having gout issues again. Argh! Anyway, I was thinking of something very American to go with it so I thought, aside from apple pie, the one thing that was never absent from any good barbecue is potato salad. Not having access to my cookbooks, I thought of the basic ingredients that I might need and pickles and carrots came to mind. When it came time to actually put it all together, it turned out that pickles and diced carrots are not really common ingredients. Well, I decided they were staying anyways for the added crunch. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchens blog
My inspiration for the recipe is from Ina Garten. A few changes I made was to make sour cream from heavy cream and souring it with Calamondin juice. Lemon juice can also be used but I wanted a more local flavor to the dish. Stone ground mustard will be wonderful but I have no access to a gourmet shop so a regular Dijon mustard will have to do. In the end, I used powdered mustard instead. I bought regular potatoes but chose the smaller ones to avoid having to peel them. In any case, I have decided to keep the skin on for my potato salad for a more rustic flair. In the end, not bad for a potato salad made in the small kitchenette inside our office.

Potato Salad with an Asian Flair

2 1/2 lb small potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon or calamondin juice
1/4 cup red onions, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 cup pickles, diced
salt and pepper
1 tsp dill seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 tsp mustard powder

1. Place the potatoes in a pot with enough water. Bring to a boil over 
    medium high heat and cook until fork tender. Drain and allow to cool. 

2. In a small bowl, combine the heavy cream and calamondin juice and 
    stir. Allow to thicken. 

3. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice into eighths and 
    transfer them to a large bowl. 

4. Add the carrots, red onions, pickles, mayonnaise and thickened cream. 
    Add the mustard powder and dill seeds and mix well. Season with salt and 
    pepper and check for flavor. 

5. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Stir one last time before serving. 

Pasta Oglionesca

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This term might drive Italians crazy and might even come after me with pitchforks but the inspiration for this dish is a pasta dish that I shared with my friends over dinner during reunion night.We ordered a pasta dish named Aglio-Olio described as an olive oil and garlic pasta. It had a hint of heat which I assumed came from the red pepper flakes or as Lidia B would call it, peperoncino. I just thought it would make a wonderful Sunday dish so I gave it a try. I did make an adjustment by adding fresh tomatoes ala a puttanesca dish which funnily enough was my initial  choice had it not been for my friend suggesting the Aglio-Olio pasta instead. 

I made a small batch good enough for two or if you are really hungry, for one. All I had were some leftover shell pasta and a handful of red pepper flakes along with some really good olive oil. I had no cheese on hand but as it was, it was quite tasty. I finished the dish with dried basil leaves which gave the dish a wonderful aroma. It came out a bit spicy but it was not the first spicy dish I made so I quite enjoyed it. 

Pasta Oglionesca

1/4 lb shell pasta
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
3 small tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of dried basil leaves

1. Cook the pasta as per packet instruction. When the pasta is almost al 
    dente, heat half of the olive oil in a large pan and saute the garlic over 
    medium low heat until golden brown. 

2. Add the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Spoon the cooked
    pasta into the pan and mix well. Season with salt and check for flavor.

3. Turn off the heat and add the diced tomatoes. Mix well and sprinkle with 
    the dried basil leaves. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and serve. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chili con Carne Part Deux

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Chili con Carne was a special request of my colleagues at work. After the soup last week, they specifically asked for this dish since they associated the white beans I used for the vegetarian soup last week to chili con carne. However, I made the Texan version which is pure diced meat floating in a thick rich chili sauce. This also marked the first time I used fresh tomatoes instead of the usual canned ones that I find very convenient to use. It wasn't a really a conscious decision but since I'm buying my ingredients from the local market here, I had to settle for fresh tomatoes. In short, I had no choice.

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The dish is quite spicy due to the fact that I totally forgot about the difference in the spice level of the local chili and those available in the US grocery stores. I was glad to find chili powder in bulk but the fact that it is more of an orange red color and not the intense dark red color of the chili powders in the US should have been a red flag to me. I was quickly reminded how intense they were after my initial taste so I had to add less to make sure that those who would like to try the dish can eat it without having to run to the nearest source of water. I also used fresh local chilis (the taxonomy of which I am unsure) and after deseeding and deveining then, I was happy to find out that they were quite sweet and not as potent while adding a whole new dimension to the flavor of the dish. Cilantro was nowhere to be found so I did away with it. Sour cream was also difficult to find here in the local market so I bought about a cup of heavy cream and soured it with a couple of tablespoons of the local citrus, Calamondin. Lemon juice or white vinegar will also work if you can't find sour cream in your local grocery stores. I wanted to make corn bread but finding corn meal is a challenge so I opted to buy the steamed rice cakes in the market and they go beautifully together as well.

Chili con Carne Part Deux

4 lbs beef, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs fresh tomatoes, diced
4 tbsp olive oil + a few tbsp extra
1/4-1/3 cup chili powder*
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp cumin
salt and black pepper
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp oregano
3 cups beef broth
1/3 cup tomato paste
6  fresh chili, deseeded, deveined and diced
sour cream

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil at medium high heat and brown the diced 
    beef in batches. Set aside until all the diced beef have been browned. 

2. In the same pot, saute the garlic and onions. Season with salt and black 
    pepper. Saute until softened. Add the fresh chilis and saute for another 
    minute. Add more olive oil if a bit dry.

3. Lower the heat to medium low and add the chili powder, coffee, oregano, 
    cumin and cayenne powder. Saute for about a minute until aromatic. 

4. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Mix well and saute until the 
    tomatoes are softened. Increase the heat to medium high and add the 
    browned beef and the broth. Bring to a boil. 

5. Once boiling, cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring 
    occasionally. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer covered for 40 

6. Add the tomato paste and check for flavor. Adjust accordingly. Simmer 
    for another hour or longer until the beef is tender. 

7. If too thick, add some water until the desired consistency is achieved. 
    Check for flavor one last time and serve warm with a dollop of sour 

LtDan'sKitchen blogs
* The original recipe I have uses 1/3 cup chili powder but depending on your tolerance for spicy food and the variety of chili powder available in your local grocery stores, I suggest you go with 1/4 cup to start with and if you think you can handle more heat, then go add some more chili powder. Most Asian chili powders are a lot more spicy but a little bit less aromatic so I added more cumin and fresh chilis to compensate. Freshly baked corn bread or a freshly steamed rice cake is definitely a wonderful way to cool off the heat in your mouth.