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.