Since it’s pi day today and St. Partick’s Day is around the corner, today is my chance to make shepherd’s pie!
I have to admit that we didn’t celebrate this holiday when I was growing up in the Philippines. But we did celebrate a lot of other saints days... The day itself commemorates the death of St. Patrick which is the parton saint of Ireland. Depictions of him always involve holding a shamrock, which was said to be a tool that he used to teach about the holy trinity. St. Patrick’s day is celebrated in many parts of the world and for us who live in the US, this day has become an excuse to go to Irish pubs, drink Guiness and Irish whiskey and eat Irish food. I guess it’s ok, as long as we know what it’s all about.
Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with minced lamb and topped with mashed potatoes. Versions of it include the cottage pie, which is made with minced beef. This was peasant food, made to use leftover meat and cheaply available potatoes.
My version of it is made with neither beef nor lamp nor does it have potatoes. So I guess we should call it something else... I used ground chicken and mashed cauliflower topping for this light dish.
1 lb ground chicken
2 tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
1 minced garlic
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes (any tomato)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chicken bouillon paste or cube
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
for the topping:
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup cream cheese
In a cast iron skillet, I melted the butter and added the ground chicken. I tried my best to brown it... I guess you have to use heat heat and avoid the temptation of stirring it to much. Brown and crumble the meat. Then I added the onions and cherry tomatoes, cooking until translucent. Garlic and tomato paste went in after that. After a couple of minutes, I added the water and bouillon cube and let it simmer for about 10 mins. Salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, the cauliflower was boiling in water until fork tender. I then drained it into the blender and added the butter, cheese, garlic powder and salt pepper. Blended it into mash potato consistency but it’s slightly runnier. I then spreaded this right on top of the ground chicken in the skillet. I baked it for 30 mins at 350 degrees C then broiled it to make the surface brown.
I hope you all have a good and safe st. Paddy’s day tomorrow! Try this ground chicken and mashed cauli pie! I don’t have a name for it yet..
Kombucha, the fizzy fermented tea beverage, has been around for a long time but is now becoming more and more trendy. Groceries are now dedicating an entire cold beverage shelving just for these drinks. I did my own googling about the health benefits of this beverage and agree that there are not a lot of good evidence that it is good for you. Old articles in fact talk about cases of illnesses connected to kombucha consumption (consume in moderation, people!).
I personally got interested in it after my dear sister gave me a fermentation cook book, in which this was one of the recipes. It involves transforming an ordinary tea into a carbonated tangy drink through the action of a SCOBY (a biofilm of bacteria and yeast). It sounded like a science project so I was super excited to give it a try! We went to the grocery store to sample some kombucha and get some inspiration and bought the kit to make it. I was also motivated by the fact that the store bought ones had a low carb content. It really makes me wonder why restaurants don't offer this instead of just diet coke/pepsi as the low calorie option...
So far, I've tried different kinds of teas: decaf ginger, hoji-cha, pomegranate tea, strawberry tea, rooibos, chrysanthemum, twinings herbal variety. The only ones that tasted good was the fruit flavored ones, while the rest was weird. I would then infuse the "weird" ones with something else to improve the taste, like basil leaves, blackberries or strawberries overnight in the fridge after separating some from the scoby. I was admittedly scared about trying to make it bubbly because I've read a lot of bottle explosions incidents but finally, I tried it since its the only thing I feel like I haven't tried yet.
The fizz definitely makes this more enjoyable to drink. I just kept an eye on the swing-top bottle and off-gassed a day after adding fruit puree, and then two days and three to see how fast the gas was building up. It took about four days for significant bubbles to build up which could be seen in the bottle (left image). It was really satisfying to pour it into a glass and see that I've created a fizzy beverage!
It's been about six months since the original, rectangular scoby above. I've multiplied the original into three multi-layer scobies. I've read about some people's concerns about this as a "wild" ferment, meaning you don't know what bacterias or yeast are going into your beverage. You definitely have to keep an eye on your culture to make sure that nothing new or hairy is growing on it and that it smells the same. I haven't seen anything suspicious so far yet.
Would I recommend making your own kombucha at home? I think it's not for everybody. But I would definitely recommend that restaurants it on their menu!
Anyone looking for an alternative to panko bread crumbs for breading? I'm using ground pork rinds or chicharron in this recipe to make low carb fried chicken tenders. I thought of this back when my coworkers and I decided to do an 'abs contest'. Whoever can show ab muscles within 3 months wins. So I took it pretty seriously and went on a low carb diet along with p90 x and ab ripper x... Anyway, the best things that came out of it were experimental recipes like this one.
- 1 bag pork rinds (preferrably the kind that are just skin, no 'meat')
- 10 pcs chicken tenders
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup ground parmesan cheese
- ground black pepper
- frying oil, prefferably peanut oil
Grind the pork rinds, either with food processor or smashing it in the bag with a rolling pin. You want to retain some texture to it instead of pulverizing into powder.
Combine the egg and parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken with it and then coat with the pork rinds, pressing it to the chicken to make it stick.
Meanwhile, preheat the oil to 350 degrees F if you have a thermometer. When the oil is hot enough, deep fry away! It takes 5-7 mins to cook each pc., 2-3 pcs at a time to make sure the oil doesn't cool too much. I just watch the thermometer go back up in temp in order to gauge the done-ness of the chicken.
For dipping sauce, I like to use honey mustard (you can find sugar free maple syrup to substitute for the honey).
Ever since going to Dumpling Time, I was inspired to find out how to make baos (or siopao in the Philippines). Their steamed dumpling is the softest I've ever had. So I googled how to make super soft baos but did not find a straight forward answer. Maybe I'm the only one who's not satisfied with what I've made in the past? If anyone has seen a focused article about bao softness, please let me know! This is the other reason why I thought about posting about this. Most people are saying that the flour must be low protein, since gluten in the dough causes it to be elastic or something like that. In the end, I was able to make a recipe that I'm satisfied with.
First, I tried to find a low protein flour (or dumpling flour). I found this Vietnamese dumpling flour mix and modified the recipe. It's nice because it comes with yeast and already has baking powder in the mix. I found that most recipes used milk, oil and baking soda. So I added these to my recipe 😁
- 1 package of bao mix (400 g) (ignore the package instructions)
- 220 g of warm milk
- 30 grams vegetable oil
- 1 tsp baking soda
Take the yeast package out and mix it with the milk. After 5 mins, add it to the flour along with the rest of the ingredients. Put in a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment and knead on low speed for 7 mins. The dough will feel very sticky at this point and not tough. Cover dough in plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 2 hrs somewhere warm. I placed it on top of our stove while I was slow cooking the pork filling.
- pork shoulder cubes 1 lb
- 1 tbsp veg oil
- Chinese five spice 1 tsp
- few slices of ginger
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
Brown the pork in veg oil, add the rest of the ingredients and put in a 325 degrees F oven and bake for 1.5 hrs. Shred the pork using forks. Remove and set aside any of the braising liquid to prevent the bao from becoming soggy from too much sauce. Let the filling cool down.
I prepare the steamer so that it's ready by the time I assembled the bao. After letting the dough rise, I floured it to keep it from sticking everywhere and divided it into 8 equal sized balls. I flattened the ball into a disk and filled them with the cooled pork filling, about 2 tbsp, and close it up into a ball. I put them on a square parchment paper to keep them from sticking to the steamer. Steam them for 20 mins. Serve with the reserved sauce.
I think the secret is having all the leavening agents in the recipe: yeast, baking soda and baking powder. Also, allowing the dough to rise for as long as it takes seem to also be important. I hope this article was helpful to someone out there. Peace out!
I don't know why I didn't think of doing this before. Maybe its one of those epiphanies that happen at a certain point in a home cook's life, and mine just happened right now. I think it all started with the discovery of Chef Chris Consentino's roasted pig's head at Cockscomb. And wanting to make a baked crispy pata at home. Those reasons and I wanted to make something extra special for my birthday party. So I guess pig's head+pata(legs)+special party= roasted sucking pig.
To make this, I've been referencing this detailed blog post (thank you, Serious Eats!). And of course, Julia Child's video (see below). I only had to find a source for piglets. Golden Gate Meat Company here in San Francisco is an awesome source and their staff were super helpful. I've bought from them twice so far and they only needed a few days notice. The only caveat is that they cannot guarantee that you will get a piglet close to 20 lbs. The most important thing I've learned is that the weight is everything, as anything larger than 20 lbs WILL NOT fit in a regular sized oven. Besides GG Meats, I have yet to find a convenient and reliable source for pigs in the Bay Area.
Another source that I've had success with is buying through the internets. SteaksandGame.com was able to provide me with almost the exact weight that I specified and arrived when I needed it (a weeks notice). The only thing is you will get a frozen meat that you'd have to defrost for at least 3 days in the fridge. I researched where they got the pig and found that it came from Lynch BBQ in Iowa, which appears to be a responsible company specializing in swine. I felt pretty good (ok) about purchasing from them but I would really prefer that it was closer to home. As far as cost, it was the same as ordering from GG Meats.
The prep was pretty simple. I seasoned the cavity with a liberal amount of salt and pepper and stuffed it with rosemary, thyme, onions, lemons, lots of garlic. You can also use lemongrass or pretty much anything you would normally use to stuff a chicken. Sewing the belly shut was a little challenging but can be done with a leather needle and butcher's twine (Julia's trick turned out to be the easiest to do but might freak out your guests to see carpentry nails). And then I pat the skin dry and rub with even more salt. Cover ears with foil and stuff the mouth to keep it from closing during roasting. Off it goes to the preheated 275 degree F oven for about 3 hrs (best to stick a meat thermometer) until the meat is 165 C and then blast the oven to 500 C for another 30-45 mins to crisp the skin. You want the skin to be pretty red, not just brown, in order to get the crackly skin.
In the end, I had a great bday party because of this piglet. There were also lots of leftover pork meat, that ended up becoming pozole (omg the drippings from this make such a powerful stock!), sisig and pupusas. I would definitely make this again after I find a good local source.
Thanks for reading! As Julia says... "Don't be afraid!"
We were invited to a potluck at our friends' house and I volunteered to bring dessert. Nowadays we always have to keep in mind that people may not eat certain foods, whether its due to allergies, diet, religious or social reasons. For this particular party, it has to be dairy-free! So I immediately have to cross out the crowd-pleasing Pavlova and figure something else out.
The decision to make Ube roll came down to what I had in the pantry: ube flavoring, flour, 4 eggs and sugar. I only had to make a Trader Joe's run for coconut oil. The final product was a super soft sponge cake and not too sweet coconut icing. I modified a mamon recipe and a swiss meringue buttercream recipe for this. So here's how I made it:
- 1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup separated
- 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp ube flavoring (I used McCormick's)
- 4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp solidified coconut oil
- 1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 X 12 inch pan with parchment paper. Sift together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix egg yolk, veg oil, ube flavoring and water. Fold flour mix to this mix. In a stand very clean stand mixer, whip egg whites until bubbly at low speed, add cream of tartar and gradually increase the speed to medium high. Slowly add sugar and whip until stiff peaks. Fold egg yolk+flour mixture to egg whites until uniformly purple. Pour into pan and bake for 20 mins until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool but while still warm, start rolling it up. It's better to roll while warm to keep the cake from cracking if you try to roll it up cold.
For icing: Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl and place over simmering water. Whisk continuously until sugar is dissolved and egg whites has become runny (about 5 mins I would say). Let cool slightly (about 5 mins I would say) and put on a stand mixer to whip at medium high speed until thick and doubled in size and cool to touch (about 7 mins I would say). At this point you would normally add butter but I substituted with coconut oil (that became solid due to cold weather) out of curiosity, and, well I had to make this dairy-free. I added the coconut oil little by little until incorporated. It ended up just deflating the meringue and was runnier in texture than a traditional buttercream. I mixed in the coconut flakes and this added a more workable and stable texture to this icing.
Unroll the cake, spread the icing thinly and roll it up again. I decided to keep the surface unfrosted to cut back on the sugar.
And there you have it! I wish I had taken more pics but now it's too late. Next time!
It's saturday around 2pm and you are not that hungry but should eat something. You probably also want it to be simple and fast. This shrimp and grits recipe only has a few ingredients and turned out super good!
- 1 cup ground corn (better if your grind it yourself using this kitchen aid attachment)
- 4 cups water
- grated parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)
- butter (1-2 tbps)
- salt (1/4 tsp)
- rock shrimp (0.5 lb)
- Old Bay seasoning
- cayenne for some heat
- green onions (garnish)
Boil the ground corn in the water and salt, stirring occasionally. After 20 mins, test if cooked then add cheese and butter.
In another pan, on high heat add a pat of butter, throw down the shrimp, sprinkle some old bay and cayenne 'til the shrimp is done (about 2 mins).
Put grits on a bowl, add shrimps and juice on top and garnish with green onions.