Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sugar High Friday #26: Sugar Art

Sugar High Friday is a foodblogging event started by Jennifer of blog The Domestic Goddess. As the title suggests, the event centers on a theme for the month based on sweets. Last month's theme was Chocolate Truffles and what a selection of entries! This month's host for SHF #26 is Danielle of Habeas Brulee and the theme is Sugar Art.

My last post was of cupcakes I made for my godson's fourth birthday. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess. These cupcakes were buttery, moist, fluffy and fun to make. I decorated the tops with colored sugar icing and an assortment of soft candies. They were so easy to make I almost felt guilty when I got oohs and ahhs from the adults.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cupcakes for My Godson

It's was my godson Xavy's fourth birthday and I made some cupcakes for his party. Xavy is a twin, the younger twin born minutes after his brother Alexandro. They are so cute! I don't know why, but I'm one of the very few who can tell them apart. Some say my powers of perceptiveness are exceptional seeing as I only see them once a year. And even then, they we're more interested in the balloon art being created by a very talented balloon artist (I'm thinking of using him myself for one of my parties).

Birthday Cupcakes
from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess"

I used candies found at the grocery to decorate these cupcakes, for a girls birthday party you could use mini marshmallows and color the icing in pastels. For adults, leave the icing white and decorate with a single sugar flower. The possibilities are endless, but a good rule of thumb would be to use decor with some height for these almost flat tops.

1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons water or milk
assorted candies

12 cupcake papers

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while pouring milk down the chute. Spoon batter evenly into cupcake cases placed in muffin pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Make the icing by stirring the icing sugar and water until smooth. Divide icing and color each with 1-3 drops of your choice of food colorings (I used blue, green and violet). Decorate tops with candy.

Onion Day!

Onion Day takes place every year on the 4th Monday of November in Berne, Switzerland. Zorra, the creator of Bread Day last October, has made today's Onion Day a new blog event! I'm glad to hear the unassuming onion gets a day of recognition, as it is probably the most used vegetable in any kitchen. Onions come in many forms and sizes, you have red, white and green onions, pearl, Vidalia and the shallot. I use the red onion the most often and green onions (scallions) second. This relish recipe was in my collection of recipes to try out. I had some turkey breast in the freezer and all the ingredients for the relish were on hand. I thought this would make a great salad. Red onions can be pretty strong when eaten raw, a trick I learned to lessen its spicy pungency without loosing any of its flavor or crunchiness, is to soak the chopped onions in lemon juice or vinegar before adding it to the dish your making. In this case, vinegar is one of the ingredients in the recipe so I added the whole onion-vinegar mixture to the rest of the ingredients, otherwise the onions should be drained.

Turkey and Onion Relish Salad
Serves 6

Onion-Caper Walnut Relish
adapted from Marc Meyer's recipe

3/4 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup aged sherry-wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in warm water until puffed

2 cups diced turkey breast

Mince garlic in a food processor. Add walnuts and pulse to a rough paste. Place walnut mixture in a bowl and stir in capers, onions, parsley, vinegar, olive oil and drained raisins. Season with salt and pepper.

Saute turkey in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Add relish and toss to combine. Serve on a bed of salad greens.

Onion Day Roundup

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ladies Lunch Menu for 15

Although no one complained or noticed, I had to take the second course off the menu. The problem was the molds I used for the Chicken Liver Timbale, some of the timbales didn't unmold properly. Anyway, it's a good thing these ladies eat like birds and so there was enough food to go around twice.

Sweet Potato Soup

Chicken Liver Timbale with Tomato Bearnaisse

Lapu-lapu (Grouper) Fillet in Saffron Sauce
(from Time-Life Book of Hearty Home Cooking)

Chocolate Pavlova with Mandarin Oranges

Sweet Potato Soup
A velvety-smooth soup accented with Thai seasonings. Delicious!

1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1 onion—chopped
3 cloves garlic—chopped
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1kg (4 cups) orange sweet potato—peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup red lentils
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

HEAT the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. ADD the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. ADD the garlic and red curry paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. ADD the sweet potato, red lentils, stock, coconut milk, fish sauce and brown sugar and bring to the boil. REDUCE the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. REMOVE from the heat and allow to cool a little. PUREE the soup in two batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. RETURN to the saucepan and stir in the lemon juice. SERVE in bowls garnished with cilantro.

Variations: Replace the sweet potato with butternut squash (pumpkin); substitute the lemon juice with lime juice; and use yellow split peas rather than red lentils (in which case you'll need to cook for around 35 minutes).

Chicken Liver Timbales
I placed this recipe here, despite the minor disaster, because it tasted good and I will add to a future menu. Use non-stick molds!

For 4 servings, you will need:

2 eggs,
2 tbsp. Madeira, sherry, or 1 tsp. lemon juice,

For the roux:
4 tbsp. butter,
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour,
1/2 c. undiluted chicken broth,
1/2 c. milk,
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves,
1/4 tsp. salt.

Butter and bread crumbs for baking dishes (optional, if using non-stick molds)
Tomato Bearnaise (recipe follows)
Chopped chives Parsley and tomato wedges for garnish

Tomato Bearnaise: Into blender or food processor with steel blade, place
3 egg yolks,
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice,
1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, and
3 tablespoons tomato paste.

Process until blended. While blender or processor is on, slowly add
3/4 cup hot melted butter.

Sauce will be thin while hot, but it will thicken as it cools.

Clean chicken livers, removing any fat, tendons or discolored portions. Place into blender or food processor with steel blade in place. Process until smooth. Add eggs, Madeira, or lemon juice. Set aside. In saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour. Cook 1 minute. Slowly add chicken broth and milk. Cook until very thick and smooth. Add the thyme and salt. Blend sauce into chicken liver mixture. Press mixture through strainer and divide among 4 custard cups that have been buttered and sprinkled with crumbs.

Place cups into shallow pan with inch boiling water. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or just until a knife inserted in the center of a custard comes out clean. Meanwhile, prepare Tomato Bearnaise. To serve, unmold Timbales onto individual serving dishes. Spoon on the sauce and sprinkle with chopped chives. Garnish with parsley and tomato wedges. Serve hot.

Chocolate Pavlova
The Chocolate Pavlova was very good. I omitted the chopped bittersweet chocolate because I thought it would be too heavy a dessert and I doubled the amount of whipping cream. It turned out good with the orange segments. But, next time I will add bittersweet chocolate chips and Cointreau to the whipping cream. Alternatively, I could add mint to the chocolate meringue and use strawberries for the fruit. Or, sprinkle the whipped cream with banana chips, add some rum and drizzle with caramel sauce. What else...

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Birthday Brunch

My sister, the party girl, celebrated her birthday all weekend long. Friday and Saturday nights lasted till morning, ending with a Sunday brunch I hosted.

Bloody Geisha
Cava Mimosa

(from Gourmet magazine, Dec. 1993)
Orange Sauce
Maple Flavored Syrup
Crisp Bacon

Crustless Potato Quiche
(from the Food Network's The Barefoot Contessa)

Sausages Stewed in Red Wine

Lemon Cupcakes

Bloody Geisha
adapted from Ming Tsai's Bloody Mary
Sake, a Japanese rice wine, is a wonderful alternative to vodka for those who dislike the strong alcoholic component of the usual Bloody Mary's. Choosing a premium sake is of utmost importance and definately worth the price in terms of flavor.

2 11-ounce cans V-8
11 ounces tomato juice
1 1/2 cups Premium Sake
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon naturally brewed soy sauce
2 tablespoons wasabi paste
1 tablespoon horseradish


In a bottle or other container, add V-8, tomato juice, sake, lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, wasabi, and horseradish. Shake vigorously and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve in glasses filled with ice.

Cava Mimosa

semi-sec Cava or Champagne, chilled
fresh orange juice, chilled

Fill champagne glasses with half oj and half Cava.

These are the best pancakes ever.

3 large eggs, separated
1 stick butter, plus more for cooking pancakes
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients except egg whites, until mixture is smooth. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into flour mixture.

Heat a griddle or skillet on medium-high heat. Melt about half a teaspoon of butter and, using a small ladle, pour batter into pan and cook pancakes for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. A good way to tell when the bottom side is done is when top part is filled with bubbles, it then takes a few seconds for the flipped side to cook.

Serve with 2 kinds of syrup and a side of crisp bacon. Mmmmmmmm!

Crustless Potato Quiche
This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's TV show The Barefoot Contessa. It calls for basil leaves which I didn't have in hand so had to omit, it was delicious anyway. I used a 10-inch springform cakepan to mold the quiche. The recipe's original title is Potato Basil Frittata, I titled it differently because it seems more like a quiche than a frittata to me.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
2-3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch diced boiling potatoes
10 large eggs
15 ounces cottage cheese, drained
3/4 pound Gruyere or Emmenthaler cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch ovenproof omelet pan over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and fry them until cooked through, turning often, about 10 to 15 minutes. Place potatoes in the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan and spread evenly. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan or microwave.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, then stir in the ricotta, Gruyere, melted butter, salt, pepper, and basil. Sprinkle on the flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture.

Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and place the cakepan in the center of the oven. Bake the frittata until it is browned and puffed, 50 minutes to 1 hour. It will be rounded and firm in the middle and a knife inserted in the frittata should come out clean. Serve hot on a round serving platter.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mixology Monday #9: Bitters

It's time to get that shaker and cocktail glasses out of the closet and join Mixology Monday, a monthly blog event that follows a different theme each time. The host for this month is blog A Dash of Bitters and he chose the theme, what else? - Bitters. What a relief for that bottle of Angustura bitters sitting in my kitchen cabinet for more than a year now!

As I was perusing Dale Degroff's The Craft of the Cocktail, I read somewhere in the introduction that the first time the cocktail appeared in print was in 1806 in an American publication written by the editor about a new kind of drink. So this year could well be the 200 year anniversary of the cocktail. Cheers!

Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters. It is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion…
The Balance and Columbian Repository, 1806
(as quoted by The Craft of the Cocktail)

Adonis Cocktail 11
from The Craft of the Cocktail

1 oz dry sherry
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz fresh orange juice
dash of bitters
dash of simple syrup
orange peel, for garnish

Shake with ice and strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

See what others have contributed to this round of Mixology Monday... MxMo9 Roundup

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dinner Menu for 10

Another dinner I catered for my grandmother and mom. I had to leave early and didn't get to say hello to the artist Sanso. The first and last time I saw him was at his apartment in Paris where he served me an exquisite sweet Spanish wine which he said was his favorite (I can't remeber what it was).

Puree of Red Pepper Soup
(adapted from Sun-Drenched Cuisine)

Red Snapper Fillet in Saffron Sauce
(from Time-Life Book of Hearty Home Cooking)

Boiled New Potatoes

Slow-Cooked Duck in Olive Sauce
(adapted from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen)

Gratin of Fresh Fruit Sabayon
(from my Cordon Bleu notebooks)

Puree of Red Pepper Soup

3 medium onions, chopped
9 cloves garlic, chopped
6 tbsp unsalted butter
10 medium sized red bell peppers, stems and pith removed and coarsely chopped
3 cups canned diced tomato
3 tbsp Pernod or to taste
6 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup sour cream

Lightly saute the onion and garlic in butter until softened, then add peppers and cook over medium heat until peppers are softened.

Add tomatoes, Pernod, paprika, herbs and broth, bring to a boil.

Puree soup in a blender. Heat the soup just before serving. Remove from heat and mix in the sour cream.

Red Snapper in Saffron Sauce

1 kilo red snapper (maya-maya) or grouper (lapu-lapu) fillets
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups dry white wine
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme leaves or 2 sprigs fresh
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
20 black peppercorns
2 tbsp butter
40 saffron threads, steeped in half cup hot water for 10 minutes
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cream, mixed with 1 tsp cornstarch

Gently rinse fillet under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle fillets with salt and set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, combine the next 7 ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Put the fish in the pan, lower the heat and poach, covered, for about 6 minutes or until fish is opaque and firm to the touch. Carefully transfer fish to a warm serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm.

Incease the heat under the skillet and reduce poaching liquid to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Strain into a small saucepan, including any liquid that has accumulated in the serving dish. Stir in saffron and mustard, simmer for 2 minutes. Whisk inthe cornstarch-cream mixture and cook until sauce has thickened slightly. Pour the sauce on the fillets and serve.

Slow-Cooked Duck with Olives

2 duckilings (5-6 lbs each)
4 medium onions, coarsely chopped
16 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
3 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, including stems
4 bay leaves
4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp herbes de Provence

Preheat on oven to 475 degrees F. Halve the ducklings by cutting through both sides of the spine, set aside the the back bones, neck and wing tips for the sauce. In two roasting pans or one large enough to fit the ducklings side-by-side, make a bed of the onions, garlic, thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Prick ducks skin with a fork at 1/2-inch intevals. Rub the ducks with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence and set them on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Roast uncovered for 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F. Cover pan with foil and cook duck for about 3 1/2 hours, or until very tender. Remove from oven and brush duck with the oil in the pan, set aside and make the Olive Sauce.

Carefully transfer ducks to a chopping board. Remove and discard any loose bones, chopped vegetables, and clumps of fat. Quarter or cut the duck in more pieces. Wrap in foil or brush with more duck oil to prevent drying out.

Place roasting pan on medium heat and deglaze with wine, scrapping bottom to loosen caramelized juices. Add water and reduce sauce to half its original amount. Add to finished Olive Sauce.

About 10 minutes before serving, preheat the broiler and set the rack about 10 inches from the heat source. Brush with more oil and crisp duck skin under the broiler.

Place duck pieces on a serving platter and pour sauce over. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Green Olive Sauce

neck, back and wing tips of the duck
1 medium onion, sliced
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
3 cups green olives
1/2 tsp herbes de Provence

Slowly brown bones in a skillet. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until browned. Pour off any excess fat.

Add tomato paste, mix well, and cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze pan with white wine. Add stock and water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain, degrease, and reduce to 2 cups. Add sauce from roasting pan.

Before serving, bring sauce to a boil, add olives, and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

Gratin of Fresh Fruit Sabayon
You can use any combination of fruits for this delicious gratin.

1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cored and eyes removed
3 large bananas, sliced and sprinkled with some lemon or calamansi juice
1/4 melon, peeled and sliced
1 pomelo (suha) segments, peeled and white membrane removed

for the sabayon
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water
1 whipping cream
4 tbsp Cointreau

Combine fruits in a large baking pan.

Heat sugar and water until sugar has melted. Whip egg yolks. Gradually add hot syrup and continue whipping until cooled. Add Cointreau.

Whip cream to stiff peaks. Fold into whipped egg mixture until well combined.

Pour sabayon over fruits. Place under a broiler until browned.

*the Fruits with Sabayon may be broiled a few minutes before serving, refrigerate in the meantime.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Day at Tagaytay

I spent the most pleasant day with my sister in Tagaytay. We first went to Ilog Maria to replenish our beauty and health supplies. I can't live without their Honeymilk Cleanser and Probiotic Bee Propolis. Then we had lunch, or rather a very late breakfast, at Breakfast at Antonio's where the entire menu consists of breakfast meals served all day every day. I went all out and had the Fresh Corned Beef with Sauerkraut and Boiled Potatoes AND we split the Chocolate Chip Waffles for "dessert". My sister had the Cheese and Roasted Vegetable Rosti. We then went to see some great furniture at Domicillo which is located at The Cliffhouse. Some really fabulous artwork by Soler Santos were on exhibit. The Cliffhouse is a great little place with some very good restaurants (two of the three restos were awarded Tatler's Best Restaurant 2006) and fantastic views of Taal Lake. I'll be going back soon for sure. We then ended our trip and drove down singing to the soundtrack of Studio 54. Keep on dancin keep on dancin yeah yeah!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ladies Lunch Menu for Four

I cooked this luncheon for my grandmother and her three guests - the former Philippine ambassador to France, the owner of the best pastry shop in town, and my mother. I met the former ambassador when I was studying French cuisine in Paris a long time ago. She would call and ask for recipes I learned at school so she could serve it at her dinner functions. I wonder if she ever did use them?

Puree of Black Bean Soup with Sour Cream & Toasted Cumin Seeds
(adapted from The Culinary Institute of America's Book of Soups)

Mustard Chicken on a Bed of Greens
(adapted from Le Cordon Bleu's Classic French Cookbook)

Chocolate Meringue Gateau
(from Le Cordon Bleu's Classic French Cookbook)

Puree of Black Bean Soup
The original recipe included chopped tomato and scallions as a garnish with the sour cream. Instead, I placed a dollop of sour cream on the soup and sprinkled it with toasted cumin seeds, giving the dish an Indian flavor instead of a Mexican one.

1 lb dry black beans
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped fine (about 2.5 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1.25 cups)
2 quarts vegetable broth (may use chicken broth)
sachet: 1 tsp. cumin seeds, 1-inch slice fresh ginger, 1 dry hot chili, and 4-5 parsley stems tied in a cheesecloth pouch
1/4 cup calamansi juice or 1 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp cumin seeds, dry toasted

Place beans in a large pot and pour enough water to cover by at least 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then remove fromthe heat. cover and soak, 1 hour. Drain the beans and set aside.

Heat the olice oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, leeks and onions. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans, broth and sachet. Bring to a simmer and cook covered until the beans are tender, 1-1.5 hours. From time to time stir down the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to prevent the beans from sticking.

Toast cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat, being carefull not to burn the seeds.

Remove the sachet and discard. Puree the soup in blender. Return to soup pot and bring back to a simmer. Just before serving, stir in the calamansi or lemon juice, season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with sour cream and toasted cumin seeds.

Mustard Chicken
The original recipe called for grilling the marinated chicken. I roasted mine in a turbo-broiler which made the succulent chicken quite tender and crisp on the outside. An alternative would be to roast the chicken on a grill in a roasting pan in a conventional oven.

1 chicken, weighing about 1 kg.
180 ml (6 fl oz) lemon or calamansi juice
75 ml (2.5 fl oz) olive oil
salt & pepper
3.5 tbsp Dijon mustard

With the breast of the bird down, split open the chicken by cutting along both sides of the backbone. Cut along the carcass, removing and discarding all the bones except the leg and wing tips. Open the chicken out flat, skin side up, and press it down with the heal of your hand to flatten.

Mix the lemon juice and oil, pour over the chicken and leave to marinate for 2 hours.

Brush the chicken liberally with mustard and season with salt. Roast the chicken in a turbo broiler, set at 350 degrees F, for 20 minutes or until the juices run clear and skin is crisp.

Remove the chicken from the heat and brush lightly with more mustard. Cut in four pieces. Serve on salad greens tossed with favorite dressing. I used a simple vinaigrette.

Chocolate Meringue Gateau
Probably the most difficult part of making this gateau is making the chocolate cigarettes for decoration, especially in a tropical kitchen with out airconditioning. But, with a little ingenuity, it is indeed possible.

for the almond meringue
100 g ground almonds
100 g confectioner's sugar
3.5 tbsp milk
7 egg whites
350 g granulated sugar

for the chocolate mousse
150 g dark chocolate, cut into pieces
250 g (2 sticks) butter
4 eggs, separated
45 g granulated sugar

for the decoration
500 g couverture chocolate
5 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven 250 edgrees F (Gas 1/2).

Make the almond meringue: mix together the almonds, icing sugar and milk. Whisk the egg whites with the granulated sugar to a stiff meringue, then gently fold into the almond mixture.

Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle (I used the bag without a nozzle). Pipe three 9-inch rounds on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Cook in preheated oven for 1.5 hours. Leave to cool.

Make the mousse: melt the chocolate in a bowl set in a bain marie (or use a double boiler). Remove from the hot water. Add the butter and stir until melted and completely incorporated, then mix in the egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites with the sugar to a stiff meringue and fold into the mixture. Set aside in a cool place (chill in the refrigerator).

Set one of the meringue rounds in the bottom of a 10-inch springform tin. Add enough chocolate mousse to half fill the tin. Set another meringue round on top and cover with half the remaining mousse. Place the third meringue round on top and cover with the remaining mousse.

Prepare the decoration: melt the couverture chocolate in a bowl set in a bain marie, then stir in the oil. At this point, you ar einstructed to pour the chocolate on to a marble surface and leave to chill slightly. This will never happen in a tropical country. So, I poured a thin layer of the chocolate into baking pans and placed them in the fridge until hardened.

Scrape the chocolate into "cigarettes" or small fans with a palette knife.

Remove the side of the springform tin. Smooth the top and cover the sides of the gateau with the mousse, then decorate the top and sides with the chocolate cigarettes. Place back in the fridge until ready to serve.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Family Gathering Menu 2

I found some good recipes while looking through some old cookbooks and magazines. The dishes did not look old fashioned at all.

Pureed Red Pepper Soup with Lemon Cream
(adapted from Sun-Drenched Cuisine)

Yucatan Baked Fish
(Bon Appetit magazine, Sept. 1978)

Braised Beef Short Ribs on Island Style Risotto with Cilantro Oil

Chocolate Mousse
(from my Cordon Bleu notebooks)

Pureed Red Pepper Soup
I used peppers from my Uncles hydroponic farm. The peppers need to be thick and juicy, not the small thin-walled kind you find often in the groceries.

serves 4

for the soup
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium sized red bell peppers, stems and pith removed and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped tomato
1 tbsp Pernod or to taste
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence - optional
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup sour cream - optional

for the lemon cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp grated lemon rind
dash cayenne pepper

Lightly saute the onion and garlic in butter until softened, then add peppers and cook over medium heat until peppers are softened.

Add tomatoes, Pernod, paprika, herbs and broth, bring to a boil.

Puree soup in a blender. You may mix in the sour cream at this point. I left it out to retain the peppers deep red color and flavor.

Prepare the lemon cream: Stir together all ingredients.

Serve soup hot with a dollop of lemon cream.

Pescado a la Yucateca
I had to use tuna for this dish because there was nothing else available. It came out quiet good. Be careful not to overcook the fish.

6 to 8 servings

3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup coarselychopped onion
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1/2 cup diced red bell peppers or pimiento
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup snipped cilantro
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 lbs red snapper or other white fish fillet

Preheat oven to 400 degress F.

Grease large baking dish. Saute onions in oil in medium skillet over low heat, about 5 minutes. Add olives, peppers, capers and cilantro and cook 3 minutes longer. Stir in juices, season with salt and pepper.

Place fish in prepared dish. Pour sauce over and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, basting frequently.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Menu for Family Gathering

I love to cook and I love to give parties and have get-togethers. There's nothing more satisfying to me than to cook a great meal that is much appreciated. This menu is one I created recently for a family lunch at my grandmother's home.


Salmon Poached in Olive Oil
(from The Slow Mediterrenean Cookbook)

Basque Chicken
(from my Cordon Bleu notebooks)
Buttered Rice

Apple Pastis with Vanilla Ice Cream
(from The Slow Mediterrenean Cookbook)

I made everything, except the Salmon and Pastis, a day before. The Pastis is a pie made of crisp layers of filo and thinly sliced apple compote, had I made it a day before the filo would have become soggy so I made the compote a day before and assembled and baked the pie the morning of the luncheon. As for the salmon dish, it needed to be cooked fresh because reheating would have made it tough. The salmon came out meltingly tender and flavorful.

All the ingredient may be altered to suit your tastes. I myself prefer more garlic...

12 juicy red tomatoes, large dice
6 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
2 red peppers, coarsely chopped
2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Arengga vinegar or cider vinegar

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour. After an hour the vegetables should be covered with rendered tomato juices. Puree vegetables in a blender, not too smooth, the soup should be slightly coarse.