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Garlic-Worcestershire Butter Prawns

Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:59:00 +0000

This is one of our archived dishes that is just now coming out!TSThis is an attempt to recreate a childhood favorite.When we were growing up, our family would get invited by this other family who held quite the gatherings. From what I remember, they had an expansive buffet with various stations set up on their lawn. One of the stations was the griddled prawn station.TSThis being the Philippines, when we say prawns, we mean actual prawns as large as one's hands, maybe larger. A lot of "prawns" we see in North America are merely shrimp.At this magical griddled prawn station, each prawn would be butterflied at the back, then put on the griddle, basted with the heavenliest of concoctions.TSWhen we saw these Thai blue prawns, we thought it was time we attempted a re-creation.Of course, JS and I don't actually know what went into making that dish. Thinking back, our best guess is this.TSA whack-load of butter, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.We were aiming to capture that elusive flavor from the past, and did not bother so much with sticking to the griddle method. Perhaps it's because we didn't have a griddle large enough to hold all the prawns, and that would have resulted in dreaded batch-cookery.TSFor simplicity's sake, we threw in the butter, garlic and Worcestershire sauce into a wok and added the prawns. They needed to be tossed around quite a bit for each one to have a turn cooking in the butter/sauce. Maybe we needed to batch-cook them after all.TSAlong the way, we seemed to have determined that the dish needed even more butter.TSAfter making sure the final guy had a dip in the garlicky, Worcestershire-y butter, the dish was done.TSOf course, being drenched in butter, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce, this could only be fantastic!But, is this the same dish as the one at that griddle station?I don't know. I think we probably did not re-create that same dish. I have a nagging feeling that our attempt falls a little bit short. Or, maybe this dish is actually better than the griddled prawns of our childhood. I truly can't say.Such is nostalgia.RecipeGarlic-Worcestershire Butter PrawnsThis dish can be done to taste. Use as much or as little of each ingredient as you wish.prawns or shrimp (or even mussels or clams)buttergarlic, mincedWorcestershire sauce (be aware of the salt content in this ingredient)Pan/WokHeat your pan or wok. Add the butter, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. When the butter has melted, add the prawns.Toss until the prawns have turned color.Serve.GriddleMelt the butter and mix together with the garlic and Worcestershire sauce.When the griddle is hot, put your prawns on it and pour the flavored butter over them. One can also baste the prawns with the flavored butter.Turn the prawns over to cook both sides.When both sides of each prawn have turned color, take them off the griddle. Serve. [...]

Porchetta... and etcetera (2011 Canada Day Event at The Boulevard)

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 04:22:00 +0000

Pork! Pork! Pork!TS:Having recently tried porchetta at a local sandwich shop, JS and I left reminiscing about our own porchettas from the past.Surprisingly, it seemed that we had quite a porchetta spree in 2011. And perhaps 2012 as well!Pork!TS:One such occasion -- it may actually have been the first time -- was during the 2011 iteration of our Annual Summer BBQ Event. (See the event from 2010.)We are usually leery calling this summer party a "BBQ", as guests would undoubtably expect our oh-my-god-it's-so-good Philippine Pork BBQ Skewers. JS and I have not had the time nor energy for such a feat in years. This is, of course, because we would have had to make an obscene number of skewers to satisfy the crowd!So, in 2011, JS came up with a new concept: a do-it-yourself sandwich bar! We can cook off huge hunks of meat and that would be that! (Well, and make all the sides and condiments, too, of course. I mean, we're not slackers or somethin'.)DIY Sandwich Bar, aka "TJ's Sammie Shop"a 2011 Canada Day Event at The BoulevardWHOLE WHEAT FOCCACIA BREADWe've used the foccacia from Calabria Bakery many times before(here, here and here).FillingsPORCHETTAPork loin wrapped with pork belly, roasted with garlic and herbs.There are more gratuitous shots of the porchetta below. Don't you worry.JS’ FAMOUS ROAST CHICKENOur signature roast chicken, shredded and ready for your sandwiches!ROAST BEEF AU JUSRoast sirloin tip with Montreal steak spice, served with its own jus.(Pictured in photo of entire buffet, after a few scrolls down.)TUNA SALADTuna, apple, celery, red onions, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt & black pepper.I have been accused on more than one occasion of withholding some secret ingredient(s) and/or method. But, once again, I say,"YES, REALLY, THESE ARE THE ONLY INGREDIENTS IN IT!"SidesCHEF’S SALADTS’ own mix of good stuff – romaine, hardboiled eggs, ham, cheddar, tomatoes– tossed in a spectacular tangy creamy dill dressing.TUSCAN KALE SALAD WITH CANNELLINICurly-leaf kale with scratch-cooked cannellini beans in a simple lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette.TJ Tip:Add a little dressed Kale Salad to your sandwich for tang & texture!Not just Roast Potatoes,CHICKEN-ROAST POTATOESWhat makes roast potatoes better?Roasting them in roast chicken juices! A little pork fat also joined the party. Woohoo. CondimentsGIARDINIERAPickled cauliflowers, carrots, zucchinis and celery. Its tang is a great addition to your sandwich! We made hot and mild versions.CHIMICHURRIGarlic, bird’s eye chilis, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. More than the sum of its parts.Oh man, what a SUPER APPETITE-STOKER!See it in action here with flank steak and here on a burger.OLIVE SALADThink you don’t like olives? Just add this to your sandwich and it will change your mind. Used in our muffuletta and "muffuletta-inspired" stuffed flank.TJ Tip:Mix the Giardiniera and Olive Salad together to make a SUPER CONDIMENT for your sandwich. Hell, throw in the Chiimichurri as well!Holy, I just drooled a little. Those 3 condiments!!BEEF JUS(Not pictured.)CARAMELIZED ONIONSSAUTÉED MUSHROOMSPROVOLONE CHEESEMONTEREY CHEESEFETA CHEESE(Pictured in photo of entire buffet, after a few scrolls down.)Of course, also available wereMayo, Mustard, Pepperoncini, Hot Sauce…DessertFRUIT CRISPPears, apples, mangos, peaches, blueberries and strawberries baked with a sweet crumbly topping. Great with gelato! (Pictured above before they donned their topping and got baked.)The entire "sandwich bar" in all its glory.TS:Of course, it was a bit of a struggle getting everyone to actually build sandwiches. Everybody just went straight for the meat (and the salads, too, actually). I guess that's just how we roll.And now, more about the PORCHETTA!PorchettaJS:TS is pressuring me to write my bit for the porchetta.You have to remember that this party was almost three years ago! How can I remember what I did to a piece of pork three years ago?!?Deliciousness of the porchetta not withstanding, everything seems li[...]

Pastillas de Leche (Philippine Milk Candy), No-Cook Version and Variations

Sat, 01 Mar 2014 05:54:00 +0000

Strangely flat pastillas de leche.TS:Traditionally, pastillas de leche are made with carabao (water buffalo) milk.I can't even recall if I've ever had carabao milk pastillas de leche, but given that I do like me a good mozzarella di bufala, I can well imagine the joy in eating carabao milk pastillas de leche.But, we all live in an imperfect world.TS:Pastillas de leche are simply cooked down milk and sugar, formed into logs (pastilles, if you will).Milk candy, in other words.I tried my hand making them a while back, but it was laborious, all that stirring and watching over the milk, the worrying about scorching and burning the milk, the constant scraping of the bottom of the pot... I believe it was not long after that experience that I discovered (or searched for, perhaps) the existence of a shortcut way of making pastillas de leche.TS:For this version, all one needs is condensed milk and powdered milk. Of course, this makes sense, for what is condensed milk if not cooked down milk with sugar?If I can't have carabao milk, then I'll definitely take condensed milk. Besides, it's a badly-kept secret how much I love condensed milk. (You cannot even imagine.)TS:The condensed milk and powdered milk are combined, then formed into little logs.There are two ways this log shape can be achieved. One can pinch off a piece from the mixture and form those into logs individually. Or, one can form a long strip with the milk mixture and cut off segments, much like how one would make gnocchi.Dulce de Leche variationIf you were feeling a wee bit industrious, you can heat up the mixture until it becomes a tad caramelized and becomes a faux dulce de leche.Or, even easier, simply buy dulce de leche.What a fantastic idea: dulce de leche pastillas!TS:The shaped logs are then coated in granulated sugar.I don't know what I was thinking or doing, but somehow I don't think I added enough powdered milk to the condensed milk. See how loose my mixture is? Each "log" is blob-by and spreading out!The mixture needs to be more dough-like in consistency.TS:My pastillas are so weird and flat!Earl Grey Tea variation  TS:I thought I'd be hoity-toity and have some Earl Grey tea-scented pastillas.One could go about this in a number of ways. But, the simplest I found was simply dumping a bit of the tea into my granulated sugar. If your leaves are large, or if you have whole-leaf tea, then give them a buzz in a spice grinder first. I could've added the tea to the condensed milk-powdered milk mixture directly, but I wanted to keep that pure.See the bowl of sugar on the bottom right? It has some tea dumped in it.TS:After the roll in sugar, each log is wrapped in paper. Actually, each piece is wrapped in regular paper, then the paper-wrapped log is wrapped in tissue paper.I must confess, though, I gave up wrapping mine. What's the point of wrapping them up when they were to be devoured a few minutes afterwards anyway? We don't know what self-control is.(There is a demo of the wrapping of which I speak in the embedded video at the end of the post.) TS:I don't know if I had eaten all the Earl Grey ones, but somehow these guys were the only ones left for the photo shoot. But, look up there, there's a piece there with Earl Grey tea specks.Other variationsAs you may have gathered, pastillas de leche lend themselves to countless variations.While there are traditional variations (like citrus zest, purple yam, jackfruit, coconut, squash), why not try matcha, coffee, or any of the myriad types of teas?Or try adding avocado, because you know avocado and condensed milk go so well together.GENIUS IDEA -- why not try a play on Cuban Guava and Cheese Pastries and add guava paste and cream cheese to the mixture? WOWZA!Yes, why not add some sort of cheese?Or, instead of tropical fruits, one can add berry purée to the mixture, either solo or mixed. Or a purée of any stone fruit (your peaches, your nectarines, your apricots).Or an apple butter.Or a nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter).Or speculoos cooki[...]

Hot Pot Fun (Chinese New Year 2014)

Sat, 22 Feb 2014 06:00:00 +0000

Perhaps the most important part of Cantonese-style hotpot: the condiments!JS:We have finally succumbed.For so long, we have resisted its siren song.For ten years, every time we navigated the meat and produce aisles of our Asian supermarkets, we would see the signs and the little stickers.clockwise, from top left: Sliced beef, pork & veg dumplings, fish tofu, Shanghai thick noodles, sliced pork butt.JS:Pre-sliced beef in trays. "Hot Pot Fun"Pre-sliced pork in trays. "Hot Pot Fun"Pre-sliced lamb in trays. "Hot Pot Fun"clockwise, from top left: Those same dumplings and fish tofu, beef and pork balls, "tortellini"-shaped dumplings, fish balls.JS:Fish balls. "Hot Pot Fun"Chicken balls. Beef balls. Pork balls. "Hot Pot Fun"All other manner of balls: fish, squid, cuttlefish. "Hot Pot Fun"Wontons and dumplings in the freezer. "Hot Pot Fun"clockwise, from top left: Watercress, Napa cabbage, lotus root, enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms.JS:Oyster mushrooms. "Hot Pot Fun"Enoki mushrooms. "Hot Pot Fun"We've tuned them out, deaf to the delights they promise.See, we're not a big hot pot family. Sure, we've gone to hot pot restaurants but the number of times we've done that in the past ten years can be counted on my fingers. It seems the suggestion of going to a hot pot restaurant is met with sighs of resignation.None among us, except CSC, are particularly fond of hot pot.I probably am the most amenable among the non-hot-pot-lovers, given that I would miss the hotpot experience sometime, thinking to myself that it can be quite healthy, especially when I load up on my vegetables.TS:She lies! JS actually loves hot pot!Look at that incendiary broth! (Little Sheep, December 2012)JS:I especially loved the hot pot experiences that we've had when we travelled to Taiwan. That was where we first had "spicy Sichuan-style mala (麻辣) hot pot", and "pork and pickled cabbage hotpot".TS:I love mala 麻辣 hot pot! Well, in general, I would not crave hot pot, but if I were to go, I would only want Sichuan-style hot pot. The one we first had in Taipei in 2009 was quite eye-opening; it was spicy as spicy can be, but without sacrificing flavor. Why am I yapping about it? I should just show you. I will get on that. Anyway, I'll let JS continue.JS:As I was saying...I probably am the most vulnerable one -- and one that would be the easiest to crack under this Hot Pot Fun assault.The past couple of months, during all grocery visits, I would observe people with their hot pot fun trays at the checkout counter. I noticed how people would linger at the propane cans for the burners."Asian foods in every aisle" at the new Safeway. And yes, even they were getting in on the "hot pot fun" action!JS:When our local Safeway opened, with "Asian Foods in every aisle," we were bombarded again. Their flyers would brazenly advertise the promise of so much hot pot fun!The very hot pot fun we apparently are not having!Fine, hot pot we will have!Chinese New YearThat is one very full pot.JS:Chinese New Year's Eve it is!Or is it?I suggested to CSC and Mama that we can have hot pot on CNYE. But this was a thought just thrown out there. There was no resolution and we didn't come to any consensus. Mama finally decided that she would order some food for takeout -- at least, we'd have something to eat.TS:Having takeout for Chinese New Year? That just seems so sad! This news galvanized me. We definitely need to put on some spectacular hot pot fun.Brand-spankin' new induction burner.JS:First, we had to get the equipment sorted out.As the hot pot lover that she is, and coming from a family of ardent hot pot lovers, CSC mentioned that they had the whole shebang: tabletop burners, the pots (even the divided ones), the ladles, and the little ladle nets.TS and I decided that this was just too much. We'll have to make our own hot pot fun with less.We didn't really want to fiddle around with a tabletop burner with propane cans so we decided to go with an induction cooker that was selling for a very re[...]

Matcha Latte (Japanese Green Tea Latte), Hot and Iced

Sat, 01 Feb 2014 04:08:00 +0000

I took such a long time trying to set up my shots that my matcha latte started to settle. My etched flowers started to shrink and the drink had gotten cold! Food blogger problems.TS:For the past two to three weeks, I have noticed that the left side of my body has been unusually stiff and knotty: the trapezius, the lumbar, and who-knows-what-other muscles. I couldn't quite figure out why this could be. It was getting, and it still is, quite uncomfortable.Then, finally, I realized what it was.It's the blog! It's the blog!I don't know why, as I do usually work at the computer anyway, but working on the blog specifically has resulted in stiff and tense muscles. This cannot go on.To give myself time to recover, I decided that my second post-hiatus post should be a nice and easy one. A beverage post ought to do it.(How many times can I write "post" in this post?)TS:I don't usually drink a lot of milk, but I bought some Avalon milk one day and had to use it up. Avalon is a brand of organic milk sold in glass bottles. Just the glass bottle alone is reason enough for me to buy it, but one can actually taste the difference between this and the other conventional brands of milk sold here.In simple terms, matcha is a green tea that is finely ground. To drink it, traditionally, one dissolves the matcha in hot water.In recent years, matcha has gained popularity in North America not only as a beverage on its own and in latte incarnations, but also as flavoring in pastries and other food items.Dissolved matcha. In the background, condensed milk in a mug and my almost-empty Avalon milk bottle.TS:The first time I tasted green tea-flavored anything was way, way, way back when, upon recently arriving in Vancouver, a family friend took us to Baskin Robbins to try the green tea ice cream. Matcha and I go way back, as you can see.More information about matcha later. Let's just make the drink.Hot My drink had gotten cold while I was taking pictures that I had to re-steam it, resulting in the more homogenous look above.TS:Dissolve matcha in hot water, preferably using a matcha whisk. Then, steam some milk and pour the steamed milk onto your dissolved matcha. (This assumes you have an espresso machine with a steam wand. If not, just heating the milk would work, but of course, one would lose the "sweetness" and additional body that steaming brings.)From here, one can do a myriad of variations.In my case, I tend to like my matcha latte just the teensiest bit sweet. One could just add sugar to the finished drink. Other sweetener choices include honey, agave, stevia, coconut sugar... One could even use white chocolate as sweetener! Just melt the chocolate and add to the drink. I can personally attest to the superb combination of matcha and white chocolate.I used condensed milk in this version of matcha latte.The choice of milk is also yours. There's cow's milk with different fat percentages. There's also soy milk, almond milk, goat milk, coconut milk, and all the other "milks" out there.To make this particular version, I added the condensed milk to my 2% Avalon cow's milk and steamed the lot. I have tried using evaporated milk in the past, but it had too strong or rich a flavor.When making the hot version, try to drink it in a timely manner. The matcha does tend to settle to the bottom.An even easier version is to make your drink iced.IcedTS:I quite liked the condensed milk + milk combination that I did the same thing for my iced matcha latte.Once again, I dissolved matcha with hot water using my matcha whisk. I added the condensed milk to the matcha mixture and mixed well, then poured this over ice. I immediately topped up my drink with cow's milk ("immediately" as to prevent the hot matcha mixture from melting the ice too much).Uh oh, I feel my left shoulder and back stiffening up. Perhaps I'll enlist JS to write about matcha.MatchaJS:Matcha, for those not quite familiar with it, is tea powder made from ground tea leaves. You might think [...]

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Tue, 28 Jan 2014 22:05:00 +0000

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Well, lookee here: we now have a facebook page! Please spare a moment to like us on Facebook. Thank you kindly.

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Water Boil Fish (水煮魚) or Water Boil Beef (水煮牛肉)

Sat, 25 Jan 2014 05:21:00 +0000

TS:I realize I still have quite the backlog of pictures yet to be blogged... from 2010. With the start of the new year, I thought, "Why don't I just start posting?"So, here I am.Fuchsia translates this dish as "Boiled Beef Slices in a Fiery Sauce"TS:I have been looking through these old photographs with a sense of yearning. Oh, to be able to devote time to our cooking projects of yore! Oh, to satiate our stomachs and souls with simple, quotidian meals!(Dramatic, much?)It's been a while since JS and I have cooked on a regular basis; we've only been cooking for special occasions or gatherings. Isn't that sad?But, no more. Maybe this is what they call a New Year's Resolution? Let's just see if it sticks.TS:First post of 2014 is "Water Boil".We attempted this dish 3 times. First time with beef, then the latter two with fish. We were determined to follow the recipe through faithfully the first time, but, man, I don't know what Fuchsia was thinking.I'm getting ahead, though. Let's start from the beginning.v.1 Water Boil BeefTS:Since "Water Boil" is Sichuan, we thought we'd look to Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking. It seems we have used her Hunan book more than the Sichuan -- here, here, here and here. So perhaps we should even it out between the two books.We got our stuff ready, like the good recipe-followers that we are. (People who know us would find that statement funny.) We prepped the celery and green onions. We sliced the beef and marinated the slices in Shaoxing wine and salt.TS:We cooked the prescribed amount of Sichuan peppercorns and dried chiles in oil, then chopped them. We left the now-fragrant oil in the wok and used that to cook the green onions and celery. I love stir-fried celery! I used to hate celery because it was always being peddled to me raw. After trying them cooked and loving cooked celery, I have finally learned to not mind the raw.TS:So far, so good.It's now douban time!Wikipedia: Doubanjiang 豆瓣醬The douban above are both Pixian doubanjiang (郫县豆瓣酱).TS:The prescribed amount of doubanjiang (豆瓣醬) is cooked briefly in oil before the stock joins in. We seasoned the flavored liquid with soy sauce and salt, and brought it to a boil as instructed. We then turned our attention to the beef. TS:What there? We are to add a slurry made with six tablespoons of cornstarch to the beef?O... K... If you say so?We added the beef to the boiling liquid and waited until the slices were cooked. Then the lot was added to the patiently waiting vegetables. Oh yes, the chopped Sichuan peppercorns and dried chiles were added to the finished dish. Meh.JS:We were not thoroughly satisfied with the water-boiled beef -- there was just something lacking from it; it didn't quite have lustre.TS:The something lacking was taste! I don't know how Fuchsia made a dish that had doubanjiang and Sichuan peppercorns, among other things, so bland! She seems quite shy with flavor.We should've known. We had the same issue making her Ma Po Tofu.Besides the overall blandness of the dish, the broth (or "water") also took on a disturbing viscosity. It was unnecessarily thick from the cornstarch slurry, not to mention the slurry giving the "water" a browner color than the red we were used to. And oh yeah, there was no chile oil!Fuchsia, Fuchsia, Fuchsia. [sigh]JS:Disturbing -- yes, that's one way of putting it. Beef in brown sludge. We figured we would change proteins. Maybe the beef overpowered and didn't play nice with the other ingredients of the dish?Or, we have always ordered Water Boil with fish in restaurants. We'll try that, we thought.v.2 Water Boil FishJS:We chose a delicate fish the second time around. Sole. It was so delicate that TS had to roll them up to prevent them from disintegrating into the broth.TS:We also added soybean sprouts into the mix. We have always encountered soybean sprouts in [...]


Sun, 20 Jan 2013 23:39:00 +0000

Pardon the low-quality cellphone photo. Quite a lot of books there, considering we don't follow recipes. Teehee.

Still "hiat-ing" here. But look, I reorganized our cookbooks! Aren't they pretty? =)

Hope everyone had a great holiday season!(image)


Wed, 11 Jan 2012 01:18:00 +0000

Well, as it is very apparent, our blog is currently on a hiatus. (No kidding!) We really do hope to start up again, but do not have an idea as to when this would be. We certainly miss it!

We miss catching up with everybody's blogs, seeing what you all have been up to, food-wise and life-wise. We certainly miss being among people to whom food obsession is not only common, but encouraged. Who knew that this was not the norm in "the real world"?! ;)

We are still cooking, but not as often as we would like. (We do make time for our special events/parties, though.) I have even been taking some photos here and there. Actually, I still have photos from a year or so ago that have yet to be processed and used in the blog!

To new readers, we hope you browse the blog and find the dishes useful or the posts entertaining. There is quite a bit here!

To the remaining handful of readers left, 'til we post again...


Güray Pottery (Avanos, Turkey)

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 06:42:00 +0000

TS:Hmm, so far, still no food posts from our trip to Turkey. But, bear with us while we feature other things. For example, images from our visit to a pottery maker while in the Cappadocia (Kapadokya) region of Turkey.Güray in Avanos, Turkey.TS:Cave structures are common in this area of Turkey. We even stayed in a cave hotel!See, very cave-y.TS:As one may assume, such a "visit" is probably an attempt to sell products to gullible tourists. ;)In actuality, the whole affair at Güray was quite low pressure. Good thing, otherwise I wouldn't have enjoyed the visit at all!TS:We learned about the two types of clay (red and white) and a host of other things (very specific, I know), and watched their artists hand-paint intricate designs onto various objects.Look at that design in the photo above! Holy. I feel like my eyes will go bad if I ever attempted to draw/paint such a thing. ;)Painted works; not yet fired.TS:We also watched a pottery wheel demonstration. While they mostly use automated wheels now, they used one that needed to be turned with one's legs for the demo.Being a family business of multiple generations, these two men are related.Lookee what I found! Videos of the pottery demonstration at Güray! It's even the same guy doing the demos. There is also a longer video of the tour (approximately 8 minutes); you will feel like you were right there!Watch videos #1 to #5.Video #4 is the extended video.Me with my creation.TS:After the pottery wheel demonstration, they asked for a volunteer to give it a try. Of course, you-know-who -- that would be me! -- volunteered. They gave me those loosey-goosey pants to wear to protect my clothes. I managed to pull out that pot/container above. The presenter was quite surprised; he said people do not usually manage to make anything remotely resembling anything when they have a go at the wheel. Well, I have used the wheel in the past, but that was only 2 or 3 times when I was in high school. So, I still think I deserve a pat on the back! =DPsst! Look at that drawing in the back. Isn't that image quite puzzling!?!! It looks like an old man wearing a bra, doesn't it? If anyone can explain it to me, it would set my mind at ease.TS:After the fun at the pottery wheel demonstration, it was time to go to the shop!TS:The above two photos show a type of design that was commonly seen in souvenir shops and such.Blue and white.Small stuff.Hittite designsTS:My favorites were the Hittite-design items. Look at the wine jug with the hollow center! We were told this probably made it easy for someone to carry multiple wine jugs; one simply had to "wear" them on their arms!I was actually a little tempted to buy something from their store, but it was just too impractical. Imagine lugging breakables around!My favoritest. Too cool.For more photos of their many pottery pieces, visit their website:Güray Ceramik HouseThey also have a 360-degree photo tour of the premises. I highly recommend taking a look: 360° Gürayeatingclub vancouver in Turkey (September 2010)Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)Turkey FloraHierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)Güray Pottery (Avanos, Turkey)For Turkish dishes:Turkey (the country, not the fowl)Turkish Çay (Tea)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you! [...]

Chinese New Year Menu (2011)

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 02:20:00 +0000

Happy Chinese New Year!To celebrate, our family will be dining at Fisherman's Terrace tonight. However, we also had a party at home last night (New Year's Eve), inviting friends and family/relatives.Our Chinese New Year Menu(This will be one of those "ugly pictures, good food" kind of moments.)DumplingsTS:Dumplings are supposed to resemble gold ingots, and hence, are good to serve during New Year dinners. We did two types: a plain one with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce, and another with Sichuan chile oil sauce.Recipe:Sichuan "Crossed Hands" Wonton Dumplings, Two WaysRed-Braised PorkTS:I don't know what this dish is supposed to represent. It just happens to be delicious and popular. =)Recipe:Mao's Hunan Red-Braised Pork (毛氏紅燒肉)Noodles: Pancit CantonTS:Of course, the Chinese New Year table has to have noodles to symbolize long life.This is one of CSC's absolute favoritest dishes. Just the mention of "pancit canton" lights up her face and sets her eyes a-twinkling.We have previously mentioned that we always make a humongo batch of pancit canton. Well, for this party, it was even more humongo than usual!TS:Yup, we used this whopping 18QT pot. And, there were barely any leftovers!Recipe: Pancit Canton (Philippine Braised Egg Noodles)Whole ChickenTS:Hmm, it seems impossible to make this dish look good in photographs.This is simply whole chickens poached with leeks and shiitake mushrooms, served in its own broth. Oh, for interest, I made the standard Chinese ginger and green onion sauce to serve alongside.TS:When serving chicken for New Year's dinner, one has to serve the chicken whole to symbolize togetherness. There's the proof above: the chicken feet are still attached to the chicken bodies!Mussels: Baked TahongTS:Clams and mussels are supposed to resemble coins (money, in other words). Of course we would want them on the table!We decided to make the Filipino/Philippine classic, Baked Tahong. Mussels are topped with garlic butter and cheese, then baked. The aroma when they came out of the oven was swoonworthy!Recipe:Baked Tahong (Mussels)Vegetable: Braised Napa Cabbage with AbaloneTS:This is one of those dishes with a "subtle, yet profound" taste profile.A Chinese meal won't be complete without vegetables. We were also going to cook a broccoli dish, but did not have time. We had to pump this out quick!We braised some napa cabbage in stock until soft, then simply used canned sliced abalone. The stock was then thickened slightly with cornstarch slurry.That's it!Shrimp: Shrimp and Walnut with Honey MayonnaiseTS:In Cantonese, at least, the word for "shrimp" sounds like "ha". Hence, it is quite nice to have a lot of "ha ha ha" when celebrating the coming new year. =DThis is our ghetto take on the restaurant dish of honey walnuts and shrimp with mayonnaise sauce.In my much simpler version, I toasted the walnuts first. Then, I cooked the shrimp (seasoning them as I did) and set them aside. I made sure the pan I used was dry before proceeding. I heated some oil, added the walnuts and honey, stirring them round. Next, the mayonnaise went in. When they were well-mixed, I turned off the heat and added the shrimp back. I stirred until everything was well-coated.This dish is so popular that even my poor-man's version went fast!Whole FishTS:Last, but certainly not the least, whole fish!For me, there is nothing like Cantonese-style steamed whole fish. And so that's what we made. In this case, we used tilapia because that was the only fish available live at the Chinese supermarket.Needless to say, one has to serve the fish whole!Why serve fish, you may ask? Let me show you this sign at the Chinese supermarket which offers the explanation:"The pronunciation of FISH in Chinese is as surplus which implies surplus of wealth."TS:To make this, we lay the fish on a l[...]

Sautéed Shrimp with Sacha and Cilantro

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 06:47:00 +0000

TS:Man, these shrimp were really shrimp-y! So tiny!We had other plans for these tiny shrimp but that never came to pass. So, we had to make do with them. It was one of those use-it-or-lose-it moments.In addition, we were pressed for time and had virtually nothing in the fridge. Our solution was this three-ingredient dish.TS:No joke, this dish really has just three ingredients. As the title of this post suggests, the ingredients are:1) shrimp2) sacha/satay sauce3) cilantroSa-what?Sacha SauceTS:We've used sacha sauce before, in Mama's Fish Head Soup and in our Mashed Potato Beef Burger (Red-skinned Potato Salad in Taiwanese Satay Cheeseburger).Sacha sauce is also a popular condiment for Cantonese-style hotpot. It's made with some aromatics, chile peppers, brill fish and dried shrimp.This (or something very similar) is also sometimes referred to as "satay", although this should not be confused with the peanut-based satay sauce, nor the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean dish of skewered meats. it packs a big wallop of flavor is the thing to remember.To make this dish, we heated a pan and added some oil, tossed in these tiny shrimp, some sacha sauce, and when the shrimp were cooked, some cilantro.Easy, easy, easy.TS:Ta-da!My only complaint, as you may have already guessed, is that these shrimp were too small! They were not really stir-fry type of shrimp.But, the sacha sauce was very flavorful and the cilantro did its job of lending a bright, fresh taste to the whole thing. This dish went very well and was very satisfying with some plain white rice.We used sacha sauce in the following dishes: Mama's Fish Head SoupSalmon à la Mama's Fish Head Soup"Mashed Potato Beef Burger" (Red-skinned Potato Salad in Taiwanese Sacha Cheeseburger)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you!"Recipe"Sautéed Shrimp with Sacha and Cilantroshrimp/prawnssacha saucecilantroIn a pan, heat oil over high heat. Add shrimp and as much sacha sauce as you like. When shrimp are cooked through, toss in cilantro.Serve hot with plain white rice. [...]

Stuffed "Muffuletta" Flank Steak

Mon, 17 Jan 2011 02:02:00 +0000

TS:Oh my, it's been a while since we last surfaced! So yeah, belated Happy New Year to all! ;DTS:Some of you may remember the muffuletta we made about two years ago. (Wow, it's been that long?!)Oh, wait, you don't?TS:That towering muffuletta sandwich has salami, mortadella, Provolone cheese, and most importantly, an "olive salad". mere thought of that olive salad is enough to make my mouth water.TS:I mean, just look at that! The olive salad is a mixture of green olives, black olives, roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, some garlic, some dried oregano, lemon juice and olive oil. Oh, and some parsley too.TS:So, when we had some flank steak sitting in the fridge, we thought, "Why not stuff it with the muffuletta flavors that we love?" And so we did. TS:I semi-butterflied the flank to even out the thickness, then layered a few pieces of salami, mortadella and Provolone cheese near one end. A generous amount of olive salad went on top of those ingredients, then I rolled the beef and tied it up.My first attempt at butterflying flank steak resulted in some tears and such. Oops. TS:I seared the outside of the rolled flank, then finished it in the oven. As you can see, the Provolone oozed out a bit from the tears in the meat. But, no biggie.TS:We already know we love these muffuletta flavors, so it was no surprise that this dish was a success! Really, that olive salad is killer.One little flank like that did not actually last until dinnertime; we treated it as an afternoon snack.Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you!RecipeStuffed "Muffuletta" Flank Steak1 piece flank steaksalami, slicedmortadella, slicedProvolone cheese, slicedolive salad (recipe below)Preheat oven to 350F/374F.Butterfly and/or pound the flank steak until even in width. Place slices of Provolone cheese, salami and mortadella near one end of the steak. Spread the olive salad (use as much or as little as you wish) on top of the other stuffing ingredients. Roll flank steak and tie with butcher's twine to make a roast.Heat a pan over high heat, add a little bit of oil and sear the flank roast on all sides until brown. Place browned roast in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until desired doneness.Let sit for a few minutes, slice, and serve.Olive Saladpart of the Muffuletta recipe in America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook1 cup green olives, pitted and chopped1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil4 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (1/2 cup)4 ounces oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (1/2 cup)1/4 cup minced parsley2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice1 teaspoon dried oregano1 garlic clove, mincedMix, cover and refrigerate (8 to 24 hours). [...]

Claypot Chicken Rice (瓦煲雞飯)

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 08:06:00 +0000

TS:A while back, while we were trying our hand at a few Cantonese dishes, we tried our hand at this one.I am not sure if this is "Cantonese" per se, but we definitely see claypot rice dishes on the menu in Cantonese restaurants. I'm guessing that it's a Southern Chinese thing.TS:Claypot rice is another one of those "easy" dishes by which we are baffled. We just assume there are all sorts of secret techniques to which we are not privy.Wikipedia: Claypot Chicken RiceJS:We just have no idea how claypots actually work.JS:From my mother's stories, she claims to have used claypots quite frequently back in the day. She claims that some dishes actually taste better when cooked in a claypot rather than in a metal pot.How memory goes when time flies -- when we ask our mother how to use the claypot, she seems to have forgotten how the entire process works. So, we were left to our own devices, to figure out how to use the claypot that we bought.JS:I also have no idea if the claypot we bought was actually a good piece of equipment: being the cheapskate that I am, I of course looked for a claypot that has a "reasonable" price point. In the back of my mind, I realized that this budget-seeking impulse could lead to my downfall.TS:But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Time to get cookin'.Chicken, Chinese Sausage, MushroomsTS:First, we marinated the chicken in a little soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, cornstarch and minced ginger. Well, the ginger is supposed to be minced, but as you can see, we got a little lazy in the mincing department.TS:Claypot rice dishes are generally simple, so besides the chicken, we only had two other components: Chinese sausage (lap cheung) and mushroom.JS:An easy "rice" dish we sometimes make is Chinese sausage rice, which involves cutting up the Chinese sausage into small pieces and putting them into the rice cooker with uncooked rice and water.The result is delicious, with the Chinese sausage "juices" infusing the rice.TS:We reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms until they were like fresh again. We also used the liquid for cooking the rice for extra mushroom flavor.The ClaypotTS:There it is, the mysterious claypot.TS:We figured we'd have to pre-cook the chicken somewhat, so we cooked them in the claypot for a little bit (not cooked all through). TS:The chicken set aside and the claypot all crusty with good chicken bits...TS:...we added the rice and water into the pot. Um, I guess we should dump everything else into the pot too. In went the chicken, mushrooms and Chinese sausage. We simmered this for quite a while until the rice was cooked.JS:Of course, I thought, in the way lazy people think, why not just put the chicken pieces, the Chinese sausage, mushrooms in the rice cooker to cook?I guess it wouldn't be chicken CLAYPOT rice if I did that.TS:Whoa, that claypot is getting a tad too full. Why do we always end up with a lot of food?TS:So guess what? Since we had a lot of chicken rice to make, we did end up cooking the rest in the rice cooker! We plopped the ingredients in the rice cooker and pressed the button to "cook". Easy. Definitely not a mystery.The Sauce, another mysteryTS:Ah, but here's yet another one. When we order claypot rice in Cantonese restaurants, it is always accompanied by a sauce, served in a separate dish, that is then poured into the claypot.For the life of me, I have no idea what this "mystery" sauce is!It is definitely not just soy sauce!So, we tried to make something up. We started with premium dark soy sauce; it is not very salty at all, but very luxurious. It was a bit too much by itself. So, we added some chicken stock, then seasoned with Shaoxing wine, sugar and five-spice. This was heated on the stov[...]

Sichuan Ma Po Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

Wed, 15 Dec 2010 06:00:00 +0000

JS:Ma po tofu is one of the most popular Chinese dishes around -- and I've eaten my fair share of ma po tofu over the years.I hope I won't be losing my street cred here, but I must admit to liking ma po tofu in any guise. Around Vancouver, I've eaten and enjoyed ma po tofu in Cantonese restaurants and I've also ordered and enjoyed ma po tofu in Taiwanese restaurants.JS:Of course, these dishes bear only a passing resemblance to the Sichuanese, the supposed original. Surprisingly -- and how's this for a twist -- I haven't really enjoyed ma po tofu in any Sichuanese restaurants I've visited. Weird, wouldn't you say?Wikipedia: Mapo doufuSo one day, I decided to try my hand at a home-cooked Sichuanese version of ma po tofu. I consulted Fuschia Dunlop's cookbook to start.I was quite surprised that the recipe called for ground beef instead of ground pork. All my years eating ma po tofu, I've never had it with beef.But, forged ahead I did."Specialty" IngredientsTS:First, some "specialty" ingredients are needed for this dish. One of these is Sichuan chili pepper flakes (四川辣椒).四川辣椒 ("Sichuan chile pepper")TS:I do not actually know what specific kind of chili pepper, except that it is usually labeled "Sichuan/Szechuan chili pepper". Best thing to do is go by the Chinese, as opposed to the English, description. These peppers do have quite a different aroma from regular chili flakes in regular supermarkets.豆豉 (fermented black beans)TS:Another ingredient, probably not as unusual, is fermented black beans (豆豉).These are the black beans in anything labeled "black bean sauce" on Chinese menus -- in Stir-fried Pork with Black Bean Sauce, for example. Or, the classic clams with black bean sauce. We have also used these before to quickly add flavor and seasoning to dishes, like in our Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Black Chinese Food - Fermented Black Beans辣豆瓣醬 ("Broad Bean Paste with Chili")TS:My complaint about Fuchsia's book is that she does not include the Chinese names of the ingredients in her recipes. As some of you may have already experienced, describing something as "bean paste" is not very helpful at all!Wikipedia: DoubanjiangIn the "Sichuanese Pantry" section of her book, she describes "chili bean paste" and includes the Chinese, 豆瓣醬 (dou ban jiang). She also includes a few sentences about a "Pixian bean paste" (no Chinese term included). However, in the actual recipe, she refers only to a "Sichuanese chili bean paste".So, we used la doubanjiang (辣豆瓣醬), which is bean paste with chili.郫县豆瓣酱 (Pixian bean paste)JS:It turns out, or I'm assuming, that I actually needed Pixian bean paste (郫县豆瓣酱), which is a tad different from the normal dou ban jiang (豆瓣醬) we use for other dishes. Pixian bean paste is a fermented broad bean paste, and boy is it potent!花椒 (Sichuan peppercorns)TS:Of course, one must not forget Sichuan peppercorns (花椒)! They taste citrus-y, with an unmistakable numbing sensation.JS roasted the Sichuan peppercorns first, then ground them in a mortar and pestle.Wikipedia: Szechuan peppercornTS:Fuchsia did not specify the type of tofu/bean curd needed for the dish! [sigh... Fuchsia.]JS:The recipe called for blanching the tofu, I think to get rid of the excess water. Well, given that I tend to be rough in handling tofu, I figure if I blanched them first, I would be left with curds. So, I simply cut them into large cubes.TS:JS went ahead and used ground pork. This was sautéed first, then the chili bean paste was added. We used both the doubanjiang with chili (辣豆瓣醬) and the Pixian bean paste (郫县豆瓣酱). The fermented black beans (豆豉[...]

Hierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)

Sun, 05 Dec 2010 07:33:00 +0000

top: Hierapolis ruins; bottom: the TravertinesTS:Believe it or not, the two photos above are taken at the same place! The bottom photo is not a snowscape; it's something else altogether.Map of ancient Hierapolis.TS:And here it is. Hierapolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an ancient "spa" city built on top of hot springs.Hierapolis RuinsTS:As was the usual during our trip to Turkey, we were walking about in these shadeless environs under the sun at its hottest.TS:Why, even our guide, who, while hiking at high noon never as much breaks a sweat, was perspiring!TS:Anyway, I digress. We started at the North gate entrance and worked our way to the South, walking on the main street.That's all Greek to me!TS:According to our guide, the city started out Hellenistic, but was later a Roman city.TS:Hierapolis is also known for having a large necropolis ("cemetery", to put it simply).TS:This structure housed the baths, but was later converted to a basilica (church).Passing through the Frontinus Gate. Look up!TS:We passed through this gate...LatrinesTS:...and arrived at the latrines!Our guide told us that rich citizens would have their slaves warm the latrine seats for them (by sitting on the seats first).TS:The group was supposed to walk to the amphitheatre.TS:But it was still a ways away. By this point, I was completely drained by the heat. I had been a good sport all this while, but I literally felt as if the sun was cooking the right side of my face. Its rays were like lasers!(Being slightly sun-averse, I had of course already taken care to wear a long-sleeved shirt over my T-shirt and long pants. I also had a hat, but its brim was not large enough to cover my face.)I had to stop and cool off. So, as other members of the group trudged on to the amphitheatre, JS and I, and one of our cousins, g2, went to the "Antique Pool" to cool off.Antique PoolTS:We did not go into the pool, but had to buy overpriced bottles of water so we could sit at a table.I had to hold the bottle of water onto my face to cool it down(!), much like shocking vegetables in an ice bath after boiling them. ;)TS:These pools are supposed to have beneficial qualities... but, well, ugh. The whole area was so crowded and the pools so overfilled with people that I felt any benefits may have been negated by the throngs of people. There was also quite an alarming number of Speedo-clad males walking about here.After a bit, the rest of the group came back from the amphitheatre. It was time to go to the Travertines.The TravertinesWe were there.TS:Pretty, eh?These travertine terraces are calcium carbonate deposits left by the hot springs in the area.TS:Apparently, just decades before, one could actually bathe in pools in the travertine terraces. But, a miscalculation made in an effort to boost tourism resulted in the pools drying up.TS:The whiteness of it all is still a sight to see, though.Rough, painful rock.TS:In order to preserve the terraces, shoes are not allowed. But, do you see the surface of that rock? Those jagged surfaces were extremely uncomfortable! Painful, actually.TS:There were also a lot of "silt" in the pools. (I don't know if it is still called "silt" in this context.) So, if one is not expecting them and is not careful, one could very likely slip.After having enough pain in our soles, we walked out of the travertines. However, there were no faucets or similar facilities for one to rinse one's feet! ("No exit strategy", as JS called it.)TS:I remembered that I had some wipes from the restaurant we went to for lunch that day. Teras Restaurant came to the rescue! I wiped my soles and it was back to the minibus/van.For more information:Wikipedia: Hiera[...]

Afternoon Tea at The Athenaeum (London, England)

Sat, 27 Nov 2010 06:24:00 +0000

The Vertical GardenTS:On our way home to Vancouver from Turkey, we decided to stop at London for a couple of days.Two days in London is very short, so we were debating whether we should even spend time at afternoon tea. Of course, the price tag also weighed on our minds.£40 for some crustless sandwiches, a couple of scones and a handful of pastries?!! Pounds, man, pounds, not dollars!JS:We've indulged in afternoon tea service in Vancouver a couple of times previously, but, we weren't really impressed. Close to $40 dollars for mediocre sandwiches and pastries? Steep.But, I suppose I felt we couldn't get out of London without doing afternoon tea, price tag be damned.TS:At first, I was set on booking at Brown's Hotel. Apparently, they were the first hotel in London (or, at least, one of the very first) to offer tea service. Also, their website promised that "[g]uests of The English Tea Room never leave hungry, as the Afternoon Tea is continuously replenished at no additional charge."Continuously replenished!But, our itinerary in London allowed us time only on the day of our flight, so we had to have tea earlier than the usual 3 o'clock. This left only a couple of choices.The Athenaeum Hotel was one of the very few hotels that started tea service early, at 12:30pm. A bonus is that their Afternoon Tea costs "only" £27.50.(Yes, after looking through all the other menus and prices, £28 actually sounded very "reasonable" indeed!)The Athenaeum Hotel: Afternoon TeaA funny thing happened on the way to Afternoon Tea...Ladies Powder Room at The AthenaeumTS:Of course, ladies who do Afternoon Tea have to be, well, lady-like! I think I can safely say that I am not a "lady" in that sense.Since we were still going to be walking about in the morning before tea at the hotel, I could not wear "nice" (and in my mind, "uncomfortable") clothing. Same goes for the shoes. How can I run up and down the stairs of the tube in heels! Insanity!So, our strategy was to wear our usual "casual" (aka ugly) attire, then change at the hotel, donning more Afternoon Tea-appropriate clothing.Doorman at The AthenaeumTS:As we were walking towards the hotel, JS fretted: "What if they won't even let you in, seeing your outfit?""That's why you have to preempt them and tell them right away that you want to change in the washroom," I replied.As we arrived, they indeed had a doorman at the door.We needn't have worried, though, as the very, very tall gentleman at the door -- he was quite a character, actually -- was exceedingly friendly. He pointed us to the powder room near the lobby and off we went.JS:He didn't seem to bat an eye at our "ugly" attire and even mentioned that he wished he could join us for tea.Mineral water and mouthwash in the powder room.TS:Ah, finally, we can change!The powder room was quite nice. As you can see from a previous photo, there was a nice sitting room area. We plopped down our stuff onto the armchairs and started to unpack our things. I laid out items on one of the vanity tables.We actually took our time in the spacious and luxurious powder room. We sipped mineral water while relaxing on the armchairs. Perfect, especially after the mad running around the city in the morning.We even joked that we could actually live in that powder room. Convert one of the bathroom stalls into a shower, rearrange the furniture, add beds, change the locks...Anyway, on to Afternoon Tea!TS:The Athenaeum Hotel has a more modern look and feel than traditional tea rooms, so we were curious as to how this would translate to their tea service.We had the Evergreen Tea service.TeaSelection of teasTS:The "book" of teas was a nice-enoug[...]

Sisig (Philippine Sizzling Pig Face)

Sat, 20 Nov 2010 23:00:00 +0000

TS:Sizzling Pig Face! Aren't you excited?!TS:Sisig is a dish made from parts from the pig's head -- ears, cheeks, jowls -- that are cooked not once, not twice, but three times(!), flavored with calamansi and/or vinegar, and served sizzling on a hot stone/iron plate. is best eaten, people say, when imbibing beer.JS:Although, personally, I've never felt the need to drink beer with sisig -- I can gobble up the stuff just fine!Pig's EarsTS:One fine day, JS bought a couple of packages of pig's ear. Sisig immediately came to mind; I don't actually know too many specific dishes that call for pig's ears besides this one.You're once... (The First Cooking)TS:First, the ears were simmered with onions and garlic in water splashed with a little vinegar. And salt to taste, of course.The recipe I've included at the end of the post is from Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine. That recipe called for adding pineapple juice to the simmering liquid as well. We didn't bother.Well, that recipe also called for passing a deboned pig's head over an open flame to get rid of bristles. Obviously, we skipped that step as well.TS:After simmering the pig's ears, we let them cool in the simmering liquid. We actually cooked them the day before.JS:Being the lazy pig that I am, I actually might have left the pigs ears too long to boil. The ears ended up being softer than I would have liked.I figured we'd leave the ears overnight in the fridge to stiffen up a bit -- but they might have gone too tender on me already.TS:The next day, whoa! Let me tell you, those ears produced a lot of gelatin!Twice... (The Second Cooking)TS:Of course, the best way to grill these would be over charcoal. We had to settle for a grill pan over the stovetop.TS:Hmm, I think I may have overdone the char. But, we'll get to that later.TS:The pig's ears were then chopped into tiny pieces.Three times a pig's head... (The Third Cooking)JS:Third time's the charm: when sisig becomes sisig.Usually, sisig would be served on hot grill plates, sizzling still when it comes to the table. We debated whether we should get one for this post, but decided against it, with the help of inertia, given that it would just be another thing cluttering up the kitchen.TS:Before any sizzling action can commence, I chopped onions and chilies into small pieces.calamansi juiceTS:We had some calamansi juice that we froze from months before.JS:Once the calamansi hits the wok, the game's on. There is really nothing quite like the fragrance and the flavour of calamansi.JS:In lieu of the sizzling plate, we settled on sorta-stir-frying it in a wok.As is our tendency towards laziness and shortcuts, we overcrowded the wok a tad. We're really just too lazy to do stir-frying in batches -- but kids at home, please do it right.TS:The chopped pig's ears were "sizzled" together with the onions, calamansi juice and chilies. We also added more vinegar to intensify the acidity. Don't forget the salt! (And black pepper.)TS:OK, now that we went through all three cooking steps, what was the verdict?It was... meh.So, what went wrong? Let me explain.We only used pig's ears.It was too ear-y for me! I really wanted a mixture of pig parts.We overcooked the pig's ears.They ears were left too long to simmer. They were too tender and lacked that nice cartilage-y crunch.We over-charred the pig's ears.The too-charred nature of the ears lent a decidedly bitter note to the dish.The moral of the story, folks, is to prepare the dish with care.(Well, duh!)Pig's HeadTS:So, another fine day, when we had a pig's head from leftover lecho[...]

Turkey Flora

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 10:26:00 +0000

My favorite shot.TS:As you may or may not have noticed, JS and I appear to be having great difficulty in posting on a regular basis. We have been and are still currently undergoing significant changes in our respective schedules, making it difficult to devote time to the blog. So, please bear with us as we make this transition.A plant that smells like basil. Is it a type of basil?Found at St. John Basilica; Selçuk, Turkey.TS:In the meantime, here are some random images of flora in Turkey. I am not really familiar with plants and such, so I found these either unusual or unusually pretty, or both.Fuzzy!Found at St. John Basilica; Selçuk, Turkey.For more information:Turkey Travel Planner: St John Basilica, Selçuk, EphesusSacred Destinations: Basilica of St. John, EphesusFound in Ephesus, Turkey.TS:If anybody can enlighten me regarding the unknown plants, that would be most welcome.So unusual. This plant -- tree, actually -- has snow pea-like pods and yellow flowers with long red stamens.Found in Troy, Turkey.For more information:Turkey Travel Planner: Troy (Truva), TurkeyWikipedia: Archaeological TroyNothing unusual about these at all. They're potatoes! Our hot air balloon landed in a field of potatoes. I thought that was pretty cool. These look like the rejects, so I don't think our landing on that field caused any harm.Found in Cappadocia (Kapadokya), Turkey.TS:Potatoes in this area were especially delicious!A beach in Çirali, Turkey.BougainvillaFound at Defne Pansiyon; Kaş, Turkey.Found in Ephesus, Turkey.Squash in the Red Rose Valley; Cappadocia (Kapadokya), Turkey.TS:They do love their squash in this region! There were squash everywhere!Squash at the side of the road.Found in Mustafapaşa; Cappadocia (Kapadokya), Turkey.TS:According to our guide, they are grown mostly for their seeds. They do eat some of the squash flesh, but most are discarded. The seeds are where it's at, apparently.Found in Cappadocia (Kapadokya), Turkey.For more information:Turkey Travel Planner: Cappadocia (Kapadokya), TurkeyWikipedia: CappadociaLichen can be classified as "flora", can't they?Found in Troy, Turkey.Fruit growing willy-nilly!The tell-tale shape of the fig leaf. If you look closely, you can see a couple of figs growing.Among the ruins at Ephesus, Turkey.TS:They were growing at sides of roads, amongst ruins...Pomegranate.In someone's backyard; Pamukkale, Turkey.Quince.At the Koray Hotel; Pamukkale, Turkey.Olive.Among the ruins at Hierapolis; Pamukkale, Turkey.In the background, the amphitheatre at Hierapolis.Pamukkale, Turkey.Those plants, closer. They look like some sort of cereal/grain, no?Among the ruins at Hierapolis; Pamukkale, Turkey.For more information:Turkey Travel Planner: Hierapolis, Pamukkale, TurkeyWikipedia: HierapolisFound in the Red Rose Valley; Cappadocia (Kapadokya), Turkey.TS:I end the same way I started, with these dried out-looking things. They're so pretty.eatingclub vancouver in Turkey (September 2010)Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)Turkey FloraHierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)Güray Pottery (Avanos, Turkey)For Turkish dishes:Turkey (the country, not the fowl)Turkish Çay (Tea)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you! [...]

Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)

Thu, 11 Nov 2010 08:00:00 +0000

TS:Call us crazy, but we visited the Topkapı Palace on the same day as the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya.The Imperial Gate (entrance to Topkapı Palace)Walking through the First Courtyard.TS:Never mind that the Topkapı Palace has very extensive grounds!TS:Well, it would have been just fine, if not for the fact that we wasted precious time and energy walking to the Grand Bazaar only to find it closed.TS:We had to go the opposite direction to arrive at the Palace.TS:A mistake we made was not heading for the Harem immediately upon arrival. Supposedly, the Harem is the thing to see.TS:Oh well.We simply did not have the requisite time and energy to tack on the Harem to the end of our long day.TS:I actually did not have all my faculties intact during this visit.With the heat, the jet lag, the previous Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya visits, and the large scale of the site, I was feeling a little overwhelmed.TS:Hence, my photos are totally random things that I found interesting while walking around on the palace grounds.TS:Sorry for the lack of context.TS:With that disclaimer being said, I hope you enjoy the photos.TS:So please, for more information on the Topkapı Sarayı Museum, click on the links near the bottom of the post.For more information:Turkey Travel Planner: Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) MuseumWikipedia: Topkapı PalaceCoincidentally enough, I chanced about Martha Stewart's Istanbul Show videos on her website! There's a short description, as well as a video of her visit. This six and a half-minute video is quite informative.Martha Stewart: Touring Topkapi Palaceeatingclub vancouver in Turkey (September 2010)Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)Turkey FloraHierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)Güray Pottery (Avanos, Turkey)For Turkish dishes:Turkey (the country, not the fowl)Turkish Çay (Tea)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you! [...]

Korean Oxtail Soup (Gom Tang)

Fri, 29 Oct 2010 03:40:00 +0000

Korean Oxtail Soup, served with coarse salt.TS:We bought some oxtails one day. Now what?We have used oxtail in applications that nod to Jamaica (Jamaican Oxtail Stew) and to Mexico (Shredded Beef and Tripe Tacos), but more often than not, we fall back to making our favorites, like a simple Clear Oxtail Soup, or Kare-Kare (Philippine Oxtail Peanut Stew) -- OMGTHEDELICIOUSNESS!!!JS:With oxtails, it is always the "Mendy's question".**See, we're so enamoured with kare-kare and bulalo that we think them the apotheoses of oxtail, oxtail the best that it can be.TS:But, perhaps, this time we should made something totally new.** Seinfeld referenceJS:Okay then.TS:Well, we didn't venture too far when we made this Korean Oxtail Soup. I used the instructions from My Korean Cuisine as my guide. TS:First, I placed the meat in cold water and brought the water to a boil. Once the exterior of the meat has changed color, I drained the pot.After draining, the meat is rinsed to get rid of any residual coagulated blood.TS:I put the meat back into the pot (which I also rinsed out), covered with cold water, and brought the mixture to a boil. The pot is kept at a light boil.Oh, that pouch in there?TS:That pouch contained garlic, ginger, and black peppercorns.TS:Some more components: onions and daikon radish.TS:After about 2 hours of boiling, I added the onions and daikon. Oh yeah, look at all that fat on top. Try to skim that off every so often.I boiled the pot for a couple of hours more.At this point, one can make the broth ultra-milky. My Korean Cuisine recommends removing all the solids from the soup, separating the meat from the bone, rinsing the bones clean and adding only the bones back into the pot, then boiling for more than 14 hours!Well, I had already invested about 5 hours into this soup, and being lazy as I am, I wasn't in the mood for picking meat from bone, so my Korean Oxtail Soup stopped here.TS:This soup is usually served unseasoned, with the diner adding salt at the table. I simply added some green onions for some freshness and crunch.JS:I must say I cannot help comparing this soup to our standard bulalo (Philippine Beef Bone Soup) or clear soup. I found this oxtail soup quite rich -- and I'm afraid that is not exactly a compliment. That is, it seemed to me slightly too bovine-y, as if the oxtails haven't transcended their nature and reached their apotheosis as food. The soup sits heavily in the mouth and on the tongue, and I felt that I needed to rinse the soup out after I finished eating.Maybe I needed to eat it with some kimchi, which alas, we didn't have at that time.TS:Perhaps I'll reserve judgment until after I taste a "professionally"-made soup. But, in this instance, this soup was nice enough, but I'm afraid my heart still belongs to our favorites.For a guide to making Korean Oxtail Soup:My Korean Cuisine: Korean Oxtail Soupeatingclub vancouver KoreanKorean Sprouts & Spicy Cold Cucumber SaladKimchi Fried Rice, an addictionKorean Soybean Sprouts Pancake (Kongnamul Jeon)Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)Korean Roast SalmonKorean Fried ChickenKorean Sweet Potatoes with Yangnyeom SauceJapchae / Jap Chae (Korean Glass Noodles with Vegetables)Brown Rice Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl)Korean Oxtail Soup (Gom Tang)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you! [...]

Shrimp Scampi

Mon, 25 Oct 2010 07:00:00 +0000

TS:It had been a while since we had nice, plump shrimp at home, and an even longer while since we've had nice, plump shrimp with lots of butter. That clearly needed to be rectified.TS:Actually, I've made this dish numerous times before, but I didn't know there was an actual name for it! I've since discovered that this is what people refer to when they say "Shrimp Scampi".TS:There's really nothing to it. Just shrimp, lemon juice, white wine, butter, garlic and parsley.TS:Since I had not a small amount of shrimp, I decided to par-cook them in batches first. TS:The shrimp set aside, it was time for the butter!I heated some butter and olive oil, then added minced garlic. I then added the white wine and cooked out the alcohol. The lemon juice went in next, followed by chopped parsley.TS:The par-cooked shrimp were added to the pot, and more butter was added. I stirred the whole lot around gently until the butter melted and the shrimp were cooked through.TS:Look at the amount of that butter-y sauce at the bottom of the bowl!Be sure not to waste that golden elixir. Spoon it over rice, toss it with pasta, soak bread in it, or fill up some glasses and drink it straight up! ;DEnjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you!What do you know, there's a shrimp scampi recipe in America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I'll just copy that down for y'all.Recipe Shrimp Scampi from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Serves 4 to 6 2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled & deveined salt and pepper 1/8 tspn sugar 2 tablespoons oil 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 garlic cloves, minced2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley1 tablespoon dry white wine or vermouth pinch cayenne pepperPat the shrimp dry with paper towels, then season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the sugar.Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half the shrimp to the pan in a single layer. Cook until the shrimp are curled and pink on both sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and cover with foil.Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and shrimp. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, parsley, wine and cayenne. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the shrimp with any accumulated juice to the skillet. Toss until the shrimp are well coated with the sauce. [...]

Chayote and Bean Thread Vermicelli with Mussel Coconut "Bisque" Sauce

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 07:07:00 +0000

TS:A while, while, while back, we had a party. Besides numerous other dishes (of course), we also cooked off 8 pounds of mussels à la Congolaise.I don't exactly know how these flavors are Congolese. We had seen this descriptor on a local restaurant's menu for a dish cooked with tomatoes, coconut milk/cream, "smoky chili" and citrus.Congolese? Really?TS:Congolese or not, the flavors work.So, I sautéed some onions and garlic along with tomato paste until the tomato paste was nicely cooked.I may or may not have added a little bit of smoked paprika as well.Then, I poured in some white wine and after a little bit, coconut milk.The 8 pounds of mussels jumped into the creamy pool.When they were cooked, I finished the whole thing with just a little squeeze of lime juice, and a generous amount of cilantro.TS:Why am I going on and on about mussels when this dish doesn't seem to have a mussel in sight?After the guests had left, I noticed the serving bowl was devoid of mussels, but filled with the "Congolaise" sauce. As you may have already imagined, cooking 8 pounds of mussels will yield you quite a lot of exquisite mussel liqueur.I couldn't waste that!This was pure shellfish-y gold. It was so rich and flavorful that I had to christen it a "bisque".TS:What to do? What to do?Wanting to do something different with some chayote on our counter besides our usual, I got to thinking and set to work.TS:I brought the mussel-infused coconut-tomato "bisque" to a boil then a simmer, reducing it somewhat, then dumped in my peeled chayote batons.TS:It seemed to me, though, that I still was not taking full advantage of the broth-y goodness in the pot.Noodles! That's what this needs. Taking the path of least resistance, I opted for bean thread vermicelli. No pre-cooking required. I just placed them in the pot until they were cooked. A few minutes, tops.TS:With the bean thread vermicelli, this dish seemed to have taken a decidedly Asian turn.TS:So, why not use up the rest of the culantro, aka saw-tooth herb, aka ngo gai, aka Mexican cilantro, that I still had leftover from making Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)?TS:For a dish of dubious origins and muddled pedigree, this was absolutely mind-blowing!The "bisque" was so rich and satisfying -- I do not know how that amount of liquid could have packed that much wallop of mussel-tomato-coconut flavor.I love chayote and having it in this new, unusual way was a delight. The bean thread noodles absorbed all that bisque-y goodness and the culantro gave the dish a bright, verdant flavor.TS:The moral of the story: next time you have mussel liqueur from 8 pounds of mussels, you know what to do. ;)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you! [...]

Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)

Fri, 15 Oct 2010 05:00:00 +0000

TS:Another "must-see" in Istanbul, the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia in Greek).The unassuming exterior.TS:The Aya Sofya looks quite small and, frankly, quite dull from the outside. But inside...People, people, people everywhere.TS:I don't know how that "tiny" structure outside could house this interior!In a nutshell, work on the present structure began around 532 A.D. and there were numerous instances of damage and periods of reconstruction.TS:It was the largest basilica in the world for around a millenium and had quite an architectural influence.TS:Originally built as an Eastern Orthodox church, it was later converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral, then to a mosque.Carpets once covered the marble floors.TS:Its interior reflects this complicated history.TS:Various types of mosaics reflecting different periods adorn the interior surfaces, with some having been painted or plastered over. The mosaics have been or are being restored.TS:Giant medallions inscribed with Islamic calligraphy hang on columns.Scaffolding.Apparently, there used to be much more scaffolding around in previous years.TS:Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, "father" of the Republic of Turkey, transformed the site into a museum in 1935.TS:That's as small a nutshell as I could manage.Hmm, this is just... um, not "pleasing to the eye".On display:A copy of a record of decisions passed by a general synod (a regular supreme religious assembly) that was held at Hagia Sophia in 1166.Şadırvan, a fountain for ritual ablutions.Nobody seemed to be taking notice of this structure.But, it's nice, no?updateCoincidentally enough, I chanced about Martha Stewart's Istanbul Show videos on her website! There's a short description, as well as a video of her visit.Martha Stewart: The History of Hagia SophiaFor more information:Wikipedia: Hagia_SophiaTurkey Travel Planner: Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia)eatingclub vancouver in Turkey (September 2010)Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)Turkey FloraHierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)Güray Pottery (Avanos, Turkey)For Turkish dishes:Turkey (the country, not the fowl)Turkish Çay (Tea)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you! [...]

Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)

Wed, 13 Oct 2010 22:00:00 +0000

photo courtesy of GO3TS:Oh my, this must be some sort of record, me posting about our trip so fast! ;)Before I continue, I must thank our cousin -- GO3 -- for a couple of the photos here. I must be too used to doing macro shots that I've forgotten how to take regular pictures of larger-than-a-plate sized objects! Or, I actually just do not know how to use a camera.Of course, it didn't help that it was quite dark inside the mosque, not to mention that there was the overwhelming smell of feet. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.View of the Blue Mosque on a sunny day.Only four minarets showing here. There are six.Entering the courtyard.The courtyard.TS:As you can see, it was raining. We first went to the Blue Mosque the day before, when it was nice and bright. We caught the tail end of a three-day holiday in Turkey and perhaps because of that, there weren't many "Western" tourists. The visitors seemed to be "local" to my untrained eye and ears. Being a working mosque, shoes are not allowed inside.TS:For the locals, this was nothing unusual. We and the other visitors were shoeless inside the mosque, necks craned up, with me trying to take usable pictures of the interior.The following rainy day, we officially joined a tour which included a visit to the Blue Mosque. So, we thought we'd just enter the mosque again.On this day, however, there were more people, and more "Western" tourists. They really seemed to be having a hard time donning off their shoes (and putting them back on at the end of the visit).Upon entering the mosque this time around, I felt stifled from the heat of all the bodies inside. More disturbingly, the overwhelming smell of feet that I previously mentioned, well, overwhelmed me. I had to get out!TS:Good thing I already visited the mosque the day before.Oh, why is the Sultanahmet Mosque nicknamed the Blue Mosque? Blue tiles line (mostly the upper levels of) the interior walls. Still a little puzzling, though, this moniker, as the interior doesn't really scream "blue" at all.updateCoincidentally enough, I chanced about Martha Stewart's Istanbul Show videos on her website! There's a short description, as well as a video of her visit.Martha Stewart: Exploring the Blue MosqueFor more information:Wikipedia: Sultan Ahmed MosqueTurkey Travel Planner: Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)photo courtesy of GO3eatingclub vancouver in Turkey (September 2010)Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)Turkey FloraHierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)Güray Pottery (Avanos, Turkey)For Turkish dishes:Turkey (the country, not the fowl)Turkish Çay (Tea)Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to our blog? Subscribe via reader or subscribe via email. Thank you! [...]