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.