Friday, October 25, 2013

Hunter's-Style Chicken with Rosemary

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
There is nothing more delightful than a simple dish cooked in a very straightforward manner using really good ingredients. What comes off it is nothing short of amazing. Take this dish for instance. It is basically made up of 4 ingredients: chicken, rosemary, garlic and diced tomatoes. The steps required to complete the dish is very basic and even if you are a most likely candidate for the show Worst Cooks in America, you might just ace this one. 

Straight off from Lidia's website, There was nothing to modify other than to add a simple garnish of basil leaves. I was indulging myself since a friend gave me fresh basil leaves from an organic garden and they smelled heavenly. It was just begging to be used in a culinary way. 

Hunter's-Style Chicken with Rosemary - Adapted*

2-3 lbs chicken cut up
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cup diced tomatoes, canned
1 tsp rosemary, dried
8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
salt and pepper

1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a deep skillet over medium heat, brown the chicken in the olive oil. Do 
    this in batches if necessary. 

3. Once the chicken pieces are browned, add the garlic and the rosemary 
    into the oil and saute until the garlic has turned golden brown. 

4. Pour the diced tomatoes and add about a cup of water to loosen the 

5. Bring to a boil and once boiling, cover the skillet and decrease the heat to 
    medium low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. 

6. Check for flavor and adjust accordingly. The dish is ready when the sauce 
    is fairly think but still loose. 

*Lidia's Italy: Pollo alla Cacciatora recipe.   

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beef Stewed in Beer with Caramelized Onions

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is a dish that I tried because it is something I cannot eat. Due to my uric acid problems, I had to sacrifice by not eating a beef dish that looked so appetizing during a meeting I attended about a week ago. I had to settle for a piece of fried chicken while my friends gorged on this beautiful beef dish topped with caramelized onions. My guess was that it was "bistek", or what is the Filipino version of beef steak. 

The term bistek is really a misnomer I think considering that this dish is referred to as our local answer to the American favorite, the steak. For one, the meat is usually marinated in soy sauce and calmondin and the only seasoning for a good steak if you ask a purist is simple salt and maybe a dash of pepper. Two, the meat is sliced very thinly so that it will take only a couple of minutes to cook without the meat becoming rubbery while a good steak is about at least an inch thick. Lastly, it is usually served with caramelized onions as a garnish while a good steak needs no condiments on the side. 

Anyway, back to our dish. With just my instinct and my imagination of what the dish might taste like, I decided to prepare something that resembled the beef dish I was deprived of using a recipe that combined stewing beef in beer and the traditional flavors for bistek. What I created was indeed a version that was surely delectable to look at and after a taste test, my friend informed me that my dish was very similar in taste to what was served in the meeting. That was indeed good enough for me.

Beef Stewed in Beer with Caramelized Onions

3-4 lbs of beef, unsliced
1/3 cup calmondin juice or lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bottles of lager
6 bay leaves
1 1/2 ponds of Spanish onions, sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Marinate the beef in half the garlic, 3 bay leaves, soy sauce, honey, 
    Worcestershire sauce, calmondin juice and season with salt and 
    pepper. Cover and store in the fridge for at least two hours. 

2. In a large pot, heat half the oil and saute half the garlic and the 3 bay 
    leaves over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Once the 
    garlic has softened, brown the meat in the pot on all sides.

3. Once the meat is browned, add the beer and the marinade into the pot. 
    Make sure that the meat is totally submerged and add more water if 
    needed. Bring to a boil.

4. Once boiling, adjust the heat to low and cook covered until the meat is 
    tender. This will take about 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure that 
    it has not dried out. 

5. When the meat is tender, check for flavor and adjust with salt and 
    pepper. Add the unsalted butter and allow to melt into the sauce.

6. In a large skillet, heat the remaining vegetable oil over medium high heat. 
    Saute the onions until softened. Season with salt and keep cooking until it 
    has turned golden and is very soft. Set aside.

7. To serve, slice the beef into thin rounds and top with the caramelized 
    onions. Drizzle the sauce over the beef slices and serve with some extra 
    sauce on the side.    

Chicken Skin Barbecue

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Chicken Skiiiiiinnnn. The HORRORS!!!!! Whatever! Love this dish even though in reality, I can only eat one small stick. The flavors are delish and you will never realize that you are eating chicken skin unless I told you what they are. I seldom use the term delish but in this case, it is very appropriate. The dish is definitely an acquired taste. Being Asian, chicken skin is equated to flavor in the same manner that we think of the fattiest cut of pork as being the best tasting of the lot. What the heck, you only live once unless you are James Bond. 

After searching for a recipe, I found one that was not only amazing but was also a good read. Anyway, as is the case with me, I changed it up a bit and the end result was definitely a dish you will want to try over and over and over again. Save those skins, people!

Chicken Skin Barbecue

100g chicken skins, sliced into strips
6-8 skewers

juice of 2 calamondin or half a lemon
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 inch ginger, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 small onion, diced
2 bay leaves

For the finishing glaze:
1 tsp annatto seeds 
2 tbsp melted butter

1.  Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl and add the chicken 
    skins. Marinate for at least an hour in the fridge. Meanwhile, soak the 
    bamboo skewers in water.

2. Steep the annatto seeds in the melted butter over low heat until it turns 
    red. Set aside. 
3.When ready to grill, thread the skins halfway into the skewers. Do not 
   thread too much skin on one stick to ensure they cook properly. 

4. Over a low burning coal, grill the skins making sure you kill the fire when 
    the fat starts to burn or just be quick to pull them out. 

5. When the skins are lightly browned, brush with the steeped butter on all 
    sides and return to the grill and cook until slightly charred. 

6. Serve immediately. Perfect paired with cold beer as an appetizer.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Very Simple Roasted Chicken - Filipino style

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Okay, This recipe was created out of necessity and just because I wanted a roast chicken but did not want to buy it from one of the many stalls that sell roasted chicken dotting the city. I used to roast meat a lot from chicken to pork and even turkey but I seldom do that here since I came home last year. It might be due to the fact that a tank of gas for cooking is a bit expensive or that my oven is not the best oven in the world and setting it to the right temperature is a pain. Either way, I'm starting to roast meat again albeit not very often. 

This roast chicken is very simple in that I want it again to be the most basic it can be without sacrificing the flavor. I think I managed to achieve that and with the gravy that went with it, it was one delicious and simple dish that any novice can pull off. Just try and make sure that you have a meat thermometer to ensure that the bird is cooked properly. 

Roast Chicken - Filipino Style. 

2 lb young chicken
2 small carrots, quartered
2 celery stalk
1 small bundle of lemongrass
2 tbsp butter
4 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper
4 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to about 375°F. Prepare a 9x13 baking pan by lining with
    foil and arranging the carrots, celery and garlic cloves for the chicken to 
    rest on. Set aside.

2. Season the cavity of the bird with salt and pepper and stuff with the butter
    and the lemongrass. Secure the legs of the bird and season with more salt 
    and pepper. 

3. Arrange the bird on top of the vegetables and drizzle it with the oil. Bake 
    in the oven for about 2 hours or until the skin has turned a golden brown 
    and the meat thermometer registers 180°F.

4. Let the bird rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the carrots and
    the garlic cloves.

5. To make the gravy, collect the drippings in a small potand over medium 
    heat, thicken with about 2 tbsp of flour. Once it starts to thicken, add a 
    tablespoon of butter and continue to cook until the butter has melted. 
    Check for seasoning and correct accordingly. If too salty, thin out with a 
    little bit of water. 

Balbacua Cebu via Bacolod

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is a doctor's nightmare come to life in a bowl but definitely a gastronomic delight. Considered a street food in Cebu, this dish is definitely very unique in the same manner that Kansi is unique to Bacolod or the KBL to the Visayan region. A testament to living in Asia where every bit of animal part is used to maximize the use of a domesticated animal, this dish uses ox cheeks, feet and tail. If you are from the West, you might think it very unappetizing and indeed, as Andrew Zimmern would refer to such fare, bizarre.  However, with an open mind, you might just learn to love this dish.

I normally don't use these animal parts because I never learned how to cook them properly. It was just upon the urging of a good friend that I decided to give it a try. My first introduction to the dish was months ago in a small eatery outside the hotel we were staying at during a conference. For the meager and almost dilapidated look of the place, I was surprised and thought that they had the best omelet, hands down. I ordered those bad boys for breakfast every morning with no fail. It was during one of our visit however, that I came upon this dish. My friend who hails from Cebu ordered the dish and with me having gout issues, I watched in awe and a bit of concern for him at the same time as he ate the dish with such gusto. I was also left wondering as to how he can enjoy such fare when all I see is cholesterol in stew form. I decided I wanted to give it a try the next day but unfortunately, they did not have it and we were scheduled to go home the next day so I never learned how it tasted. Thus, it was left in the back burner until it kept popping into my head a number of times. My final inducement was from the said friend who finally told me to make it and so I did using this recipe as my starting point. Do read the blog post if you have the time for it is quite hilarious.

Balbacua Cebu via Bacolod

8 lbs ox tail, cheeks or feet, cut into serving pieces
6 star anise
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight
1 /4 cup salted black beans, drained
1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
1 small bundle of lemon grass stalk
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 picante chile
10 cups beef broth
salt and pepper
4 tbsp vegetable oil
9 saba half-ripe bananas, peeled and halved
1/3 cup green onions, diced

1. In a large pot over medium high heat, boil the meat with the bay leaves 
    and half the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to boil for 
    another 20 minutes. Discard the liquid and rinse the meat thoroughly. 

2. In another large pot over medium high heat, saute the garlic with the 
    remaining onions in the vegetable oil until slightly browned and season 
    with salt and pepper. Add the ginger, star anise, red pepper flakes and 
    the lemon grass and saute for another minute. 

3. Add the soaked white beans and black beans and mix until seasoned. Pour
    in the broth together with the meat and bring to a boil. 

4. Once boiling, adjust the heat to medium low and simmer covered. This 
    will be the longest part of the cooking process. Simmer for about 5-6 
    hours or until the meat is very soft and is almost falling apart. Add more 
    water if necessary making sure you have enough broth covering the 
    simmering meat. 

5. Add the bananas and the picante pepper when the meat is almost ready 
    and cook until the bananas are soft and yet still hold their shape. Check 
    for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve with a sprinkling of the green 

Almond Jelly with Lychees

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This also took about 15 years in the making. We served this dessert about 15 years ago at a function we catered and it was a hit. We almost ran out but we managed to serve enough to the guests who were invited to the party. That was our first catering job and definitely our last. I vividly remember cooking in the middle of my friend's rental place at 4am in the morning since the function was at 10am. After the event, we decided right there and then that never again will we cater. So now, that was one dream job tossed down the drain. 

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Fast forward to now, I decided to make this dessert for today's event which was my Dad's birthday party. A belated party might I add. We were supposed to go out for lunch but after trying to find food I can eat at the mall yesterday that will fit with my new restricted diet, I decided to cook instead. For the dessert, all we needed was somebody to go up the coconut tree and grab the young ones and the rest were relatively easy to find in any grocery stores here. The jelly mix I use is Indian I believe but they came up with a jasmine flavored one lately so make sure you choose the almond kind. I have yet to try the jasmine variety. 

Almond Jelly with Lychees

3 20-oz canned lychees, syrup reserved
2 4.55-oz pack almond jelly
1 cup milk
4 cups young coconut meat
3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup white kaong* (optional)

1. Drain the lychees and use the liquid to prepare the almond jelly. Measure 
    the lychee syrup and adjust with the milk and water to make up to 6 cups 
    of liquid. 

2. In a pot over medium heat, boil the milk and lychee syrup and slowly add 
    the almond jelly mix. Once dissolved, bring to a boil once and pour the 
    contents into a large shallow pan. Cool and refrigerate. 

3. Once the almond jelly is cool, slice into small cubes and mix with the rest 
    of the ingredients. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

* If using kaong, drain the kaong and wash thoroughly with water before adding to the dessert. It is usually stored in a very thick syrup and the flavor is quite overwhelming unless washed and drained thoroughly.

Maja Blanca (Back to Basics)

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This took about 25 years in the making. My vivid memory of this very humble dessert dates way back in the early 80s when my friend Norlyn made it for one of our parties. It is one of those times when as a bunch of high school kids, we would stay overnight at a friend's house and eat and drink punch and well, stay late. Nope, I'm not divulging any secrets. 

Anyway, her maja blanca was so simple but I could not stop eating it. We were eating so much food during this annual party and this was my choice of food to gorge on. I saw her prepare this dish and I think I commented that she is definitely ready to get married since she is one awesome cook. I was 13 then so I have no idea why I said that. Totally inappropriate definitely. 

Now, enough with the background story. The dish if you google it will show you several versions claiming that theirs is the best maja blanca. I've tried a few of them and they were either too sweet or just plain too fussy. I was looking for my simple and very basic but might I add very tasty maja blanca. 

It was only today that I took another stab at this dessert since my attempt last week resulted to a pudding-like dessert so that went down the drain. With a little help from a friend's recipe which frankly scared me a bit with the 1 kilogram sugar ingredient, I forged on ahead with it. Little did I know that my cousin's actually know how to make it the old school way. After combining both recipes, I finally had my dream maja blanca come to life right before my very eyes. Definitely a very good balm for a bruised heart.

Maja Blanca

3 cups corn starch
12 cups fresh coconut milk
1/2 fresh milk
2 cups white sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a big pot, stir the corn starch with the coconut milk, fresh milk and 

2. Turn on the heat to medium and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. 
    Check for taste and make sure the corn starch is cooked. 

3. Once it starts to thicken, lower the heat and continue stirring until very 
    thick. Add in the vanilla and stir to mix. 

4. Pour the thick mixture into a mold and allow to cool. Store in the fridge 
    before serving. Best served cold.