Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rum Cake

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This cake is something that I have been baking for quite some time although not really the actual cake. I use the cake recipe as the base of my Black Forest Cake until I decided to change it using Dave Liebermann's simple chocolate cake recipe. I have been wanting to bake the actual cake the way it was written in my old cookbook but unfortunately, it has disappeared along with some of my old trusted cookbooks. However, I do remember enough about the cake to know that it gets soaked with a rum syrup and the frosting is made of whipped cream and finished off with chocolate curls. I'm glad that I saved the actual cake recipe but to make the rum syrup, I am using a basic syrup recipe and flavoring it with white rum. I decided to jazz it up a bit with the chocolate decorations since I have both dark and white chocolate bars in my pantry. The giraffe pattern is inspired by a cake in one of my cookbooks. The chocolate curls are a bit messy but working with chocolates in a tropical country in the middle of summer with no air conditioning around tends to be a bit of a challenge. I usually bake at night but I just did not have the time to do so for this cake. It tasted plenty yummy to make up for the not so clean decorations. This is an adapted recipe for sure but since I cannot give credit to the actual authors at this point, it will have to stay uncredited.  

Rum Cake - Adapted*

1 ½ cups flour
10 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cup sugar
4 eggs separated
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
½ tsp vanilla

1. Sift all solid ingredients and add the sugar. Mix well and make a well in 
    the center.

2. Combine egg yolks, oil, milk and vanilla. Mix well with wire a whisk. Add 
    into the flour mixture.

3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peak forms. Fold into the batter.

4. Divide the batter into two 9-inch greased round pans lined with wax paper.

5. Bake at 350°F in a preheated oven for about 30-45 minutes or until cake
    tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire 
    rack and peel off the wax paper. Cool completely.

3  cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp gelatin softened in 1/4 cup hot water. 

In a large metal bowl, add the softened gelatin to the cream and whip until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and the vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed. Do not overbeat. Keep cool and set aside.  

Rum Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp white rum

In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and the water over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook for 5 minutes and take off the heat. Add the rum and allow to cool.

To assemble, arrange one of the cakes on a cake platter and poke with a toothpick to create holes for the syrup to penetrate the cake. Spoon half the syrup over it to soak the cake. Spread with enough cream frosting and top with the second layer. Soak with the remaining syrup and cover the cake with the remaining cream frosting. Garnish with chocolate curls and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Arrange white and dark chocolate curls on top of the cake and store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

* Good Housekeeping 

Butterscotch Cake with Dates

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
One of my best friends gave me a box of dates dusted with sesame seeds given to her by one of her patients. She told me to try and make something with it. She was really hinting at my Foods for the Gods but I was skeptical since I'm not sure how sesame seeds will play into the final flavor of the bar. It was then maybe planned in this lifetime that my nephew came up to me this morning asking for a chocolate treat. Yep, I'm a grocery store of sorts to him.  It was then that I decided to make my butterscotch bar which he loves and convert it into cake form although it is relatively different from the chocolate biscuit my nephew wanted. As I was about to add the final ingredient which was the vanilla, I had this epiphany of sorts and decided to add the dates that my friend gave me. So in went a cup of pitted dates and a prayer came along with it hoping the sesame seeds will not taste too weird after the baking period. As a side note, what makes a cake a cake and a bar a bar? Is it just the shape? Anyway, I'm classifying this dessert as a coffee cake of sorts. Very yummy by the way and the sesame seeds added a nutty flavor to the cake. You can serve it warm which means it is still a bit gooey or cooled to room temperature in which case, the cake has firmed up just like your regular favorite baked bar but in wedge form.  

Butterscotch Cake with Dates

1 cup margarine, melted
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pitted dates, diced

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
    Grease and line a 9-inch
    round baking pan with 
    aluminum foil and set 

2. In a small saucepan over
    medium low heat, melt 
    the margarine. Add the 
    brown sugar and 
    continue to cook until 
    the sugar has melted. 
    Remove from the heat 
    and allow to cool. 

3. Transfer the margarine and sugar mixture into a large metal bowl. Add the
    eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. 

4. Sift the flour and the baking powder into the egg mixture and combine 
    with a wooden spatula until the flour is incorporated.

5. Stir in the vanilla and the pitted dates and pour the batter into the 
    prepared pan. 

6. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle
    of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into 

Ox Tongue in Mushroom Sauce with Risotto Alla Milanese

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Hosted another dinner party at the request of one of my very best friends since her family will be in town to attend a family wedding. I usually cook dinner every time she is in town after informing me a few weeks earlier of course, that she is flying in (with my godson usually) and what it is they want to eat. That or we go out if I don't have the time to cook. For this dinner however, her husband requested ox tongue which is something I've done before as a dare to my American and European friends. My only concern is whether if I could find a meat shop that carries quality ox tongue and well, the amount of work it will take to cook the dish. 

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Ox tongue is usually cooked in a sweet peppery sauce flavored with pineapples as a sweetener. For me however, I prefer to cook it in a thick mushroom gravy served over risotto or a garlic-infused mashed potato. Both are equally good but the former is typical of a dish served during weddings or fiestas while my version is more suited for fine dining in my house as it invokes touches of the French style of cooking. Okay, I'm not being snooty, I'm just saying that I prefer to cook my ox tongue a bit differently. My friends loved it so I'm relieved that my efforts paid off. Anyway, I only took the before picture but spared you from the messy in-between takes of the preparation. Might have been a good idea but pictorially, it will be a bit of a mess. So, if you are really interested in making this dish, I can direct you to a few videos that go over this in detail.

Ox Tongue in Mushroom Sauce with Risotto Alla Milanese

8-10 lbs ox tongue (each tongue weighs about 4-5 lbs)
8 bay leaves
1 tbsp peppercorns
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 lb dried shitake mushrooms
1 tbsp salt (for parboiling)
1 large carrot
2 large onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, mashed
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp black truffle oil
6 tbsp olive oil
2 beef stock bouillon 
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
Risotto Alla Milanese

Parboiling and Cleaning:

1. In a large pot, combine the ox tongue, 4 bay leaves, peppercorns, white 
    vinegar and enough water to cover the tongue. 

2. Bring to a boil and cook for at least 30 minutes or until the tongue has 
    shrunk to about half its original size. 

3. Remove from the cooking liquid and allow to cool. Discard the cooking 

4. Once the tongue is cool enough to handle, clean it off by removing the skin
    using a knife. I sometimes use a vegetable peeler. Rinse and set aside for 
    the next step.   

Main Preparation:

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, 4 
    bay leaves and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute until the 
    onions are slightly browned. 

2. Add the tongue and brown on both sides. Pour in enough water to cover 
    the tongue and drop in the carrots and the beef bouillon. Bring to a boil.

3. Once the pot is boiling, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours or until a knife 
    goes through the thickest part of the meat easily. Remove the tongue and 
    allow it to rest. Save the cooking liquid.

4. To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. 
    Add the flour to make a roux.

5. Pour the cooking liquid onto the pan over a sieve. Mash the carrots and 
    onions and force it through the sieve. 

6. Stir and cook over medium heat until thickened. Add the truffle oil and 
    Worcestershire sauce. Check for flavor and season with salt and pepper. 
    If too salty, just add more water.

7. Slice the cooled meat into thin slices and add into the gravy. Simmer 
    over low heat until ready to serve. 

Sauteed Shitake Mushrooms:

1 lbs fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black truffle oil
salt and pepper
1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and
    saute until just softened. 

2. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook 
    until the mushrooms have softened. Drizzle in the truffle oil and remove 
    from the heat. 

To assemble this dish, spoon out a good amount of Risotto Alla Milanese and top with 3-4 slices of the ox tongue. Top with a tablespoon of sauteed mushrooms. Drizzle with the gravy and garnish with a sprig of parsley.    

Monday, May 20, 2013


Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I had to cook something for the white fish I bought which was sold to me as a Jack O Trevally but as it turned out, was actually a Red Snapper. It came in cheap for just about $6 for 4 pounds of fish so I bought it. I made a sour soup with a third of the fish but I always get this not so pleasant fishy smell whenever I cook a snapper and I never really understood how they are so well loved by a lot of people I know. I tried frying the second third and it was a disaster even my dog would not eat it. My fault in part for not heating the oil to the proper temperature. But for my dog not to eat my cooking, that stung a bit. Thus, I had the last third to contend with and I eventually decided to try the fishcake recipe from my new Danish book. At this point, my expectation level is fairly low so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the dish was actually quite good in its simplicity. I added some Herbes de Provence hoping to mask the fishy smell but there was no hint of it actually which was a welcome surprise indeed. 

Fishcakes - Adapted*

1 lb meat of white fish, deboned and diced
4 tbsp flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
dash of black pepper
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4 cup milk
oil for frying

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. 

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Take two tablespoons of
    the patty and fry in the pan. 

3. Fry for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown and flip. Cook for another 2 
    minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with your favorite condiment. 

*Forlag, N.N.; Busck, A., Dining with the Danes, Denmark:2011.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Black Risotto with Squid

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I wanted to make this dish the minute I saw it on Nigella Lawson's show the other day. I was actually surprised to realize that I have the Cooking Channel on my local television cable network together with the Lifestyle Network. It was like Christmas in May. Anyway, this was something she cooked in her show along with a crunchy chocolate bar but I'm not going for a dessert recipe at the moment so I'm sticking with the Black Risotto. I simplified my own version since I did not want to use fish stock but I also forgot to pick up a vegetable broth for the dish. I basically used a variety of dried herbs which I think might work and it came out quite good. Overall, it is a bit of work (as always) for a simple dish while the flavor is just okay. I think this is not a dish for everyone although I did splurge on one thing: Black truffle oil. I used the truffle oil to saute my rice (gasp!) and the squid topping as well. I could just feel a number of unknown people cringing at what I did. Sorry, but I had one bottle lying around that needed to be used up so there. Anyway, I liked the dish enough but I think I prefer cooking my squid by itself swimming in its own ink and eating it with steamed rice on the side.  

Black Risotto with Squid

8 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
salt and pepper
Heads of 2 lbs of squid with the inc sac, beak removed

To prepare the broth, add the dried herbs to the water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Once boiling, add the squid head with the inc sac and lower the heat to a simmer.

2 cups short-grained rice
1 onion, diced
4 tbsp truffle oil
2 tbsp parsley, chopped

Squid topping:
2 lbs squid mantle, pens removed and cut into rings
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 tbsp garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp truffle oil
salt and pepper

1. In a deep pan, heat the truffle oil over medium high heat and add the 
    onions. Saute until softened. Add the rice and cook until the rice is coated 
    with the oil.

2. Slowly add the broth a cup at a time waiting for the broth to be fully 
    absorbed before adding more broth. Continue to cook until the rice is 
    al dente. 

3. When the rice is almost ready, cook the squid topping. Heat the truffle oil 
    in a small pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and red chili flakes 
    and cook for about a minute. Add the squid and cook quickly until the 
    squid has turned opaque. Season with salt and pepper and remove from 
    heat. Set aside. 

4. When the rice is ready, spoon a good amount into a plate and top with the
    sauteed squid rings. Garnish with the chopped parsley and a good drizzle 
    of extra virgin olive oil.  

Ham Hocks Ragout

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is one of the Danish recipes that I wanted to try out from the new book my Danish friend sent me for my birthday. This is actually my third recipe from the book and while the first one is already posted, the second one unfortunately was not completed since I deleted the pictures I took of the dish even before I could post it. It will have to wait for a bit. This third one actually is a modified version of the original dish since I'm using ham hocks and not oxtail. The local butcher shop will not sell just the ox tail but it has to come paired with the beef hocks. I know they are available in specialty meat shops in the city but I don't have the time nor the courage to go around town looking for oxtail in the middle of summer. I'm already suffering from heat rashes in the comfort of my house more so if I went walking under the scorching heat of the sun. It was my Dad who finally made me decide to use ham hocks instead of oxtail since he wanted a dish with pork legs despite the fact that he is not supposed to be eating pork. I'm enabling him but I'm sure he'll blame me for any discomfort he will experience later today after eating this dish. I think this substitution will work since both cuts of meat are fairly similar. If you do have access to oxtail, just make sure that you cook it long enough so that it falls off the bone by the time you are done cooking.Very very yummy!

Ham Hocks Ragout - Adapted*

2-3 lbs ham hocks
1/4 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
4 carrots, peeled and quartered
2 tsp Spanish paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp celery powder
6 tbsp tomato paste
12 cups beef broth
1/3 cup unsalted butter
salt and pepper
2 tbsp parsley, chopped

1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Dredge the hocks with 
    the flour and fry until browned on both sides. Set aside. 

2. In the same pot, increase the heat to medium high and saute the garlic 
    and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Once softened, add the paprika, 
    bay leaves, celery powder and thyme. Saute for another minute. 

3. Return the browned pork pieces and pour in the broth. Bring to a boil and 
    cover. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour. 

4. Add the carrots and cook for another 30 minutes uncovered. Stir in the 
    tomato paste and increase the heat to medium high. Continue to cook 
    until the sauce has thickened and the meat is very tender. 

5. Check for seasoning and add the parsley. Serve with steamed rice or 
    mashed potatoes. 

*Forlag, N.N.; Busck, A., Dining with the Danes, Denmark:2011. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kansi - A Local Dish

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Kansi, or to aptly describe it is a soured beef stew. It has been praised to high heavens by almost everyone I know and I have tried it a few times to say that is does taste good but it was not until I decided to make my own version did I realize that I have been eating this dish ever since when I was little. It is actually something my Mom used to cook on Sunday lunches but I never really knew it by name, just by taste. Sadly, this realization brought down the novelty of the dish to something very mundane. Still, this is one tasty dish and is definitely worth a try.

Batwan Fruit
Copyright 2013 LtDan’sKitchen blogs

In essence, the dish is similar to the Tagalog Sinigang (Soured Stew) except for a few key ingredients. The souring agent for Kansi is a fruit locally known as batwan instead of the often used tamarind fruit. The batwan fruit gives the stew a mild sour flavor which is balanced by the citrus aroma of fresh lemon grass.  Also, the vegetable used is unripe langka or jackfruit which adds to the simplicity of the dish. The dish is finished off with annatto oil which gives the signature orange tinge to the broth. 

Unripe Jackfruit
Copyright 2013 LtDan’sKitchen blogs
Looking at online recipes, I combined a recipe using ginger in the broth and Market Man's version which invloves pre-cooking the beef shanks to remove any debris formed when parboiling the meat (bone-in). I hope that in a couple of hours, my family will be enjoying a hot bowl of Kansi despite the summer heat. I'm sure a cold bottle of Coke will be enough to bring balance to this steaming hot dish.


4 lbs beef shanks
2 onions, diced
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
4 stalks of lemon grass, tied into a bundle
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
6 cups beef broth
2 lbs fresh batwan fruit
2 lbs unripe jackfruit, sliced
2 Asian chili peppers
salt and pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp annatto seeds + 4 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a large pot, boil the beef in enough water to cover them. Season with a 
    tablsepoon of salt and cook until the beef has released most of the debris 
    from the bones. Remove the beef pieces and wash with water. Set aside. 
    Pour the broth into a large pot through a sieve.

2. In another large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat and 
    saute the garlic and onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until 
    softened. Return the meat pieces and brown. Add the ginger and the 
    lemon grass and pour in the beef broth.

3. Add enough of the boiling broth to cover the meat and bring back to a 
    boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium low and simmer covered 
    for 2 hours or until the beef is tender. 

4. Set aside the pot of beef and ladle about 4 cups of the broth into a small 
    pot. Add the batwan and cook until softened. Once softened, mash with 
    a fork or potato masher and pour the liquid back into the large pot over a 
    sieve. Add more broth if necessary to extract all of the soured broth and 
    pulp from the batwan. Check for flavor and add the sugar to balance the 

5. Return the big pot into the flame and add the jackfruit and the peppers. 
    Cook uncovered until the jackfruit is cooked. Check for seasoning and 
    adjust with salt and pepper.

6. In a small pan, extract the annatto oil by frying the annatto seed in the 
    vegetable oil over low flame. Cook for 2 minutes and set aside.

7. To finish the dish, add the annatto oil into the stew and serve steaming 
    hot with steamed white rice.