Monday, November 28, 2016

Adobong Pusit (Filipino Squid Adobo)


Adobo is a staple Filipino dish. Squid adobo makes this already tasty dish an even better delicacy. The recipe I use is the one that my mom taught me over the years. I have found that compared to other recipes on the internet, this version is more simplified. The first key thing to this recipe is ensuring you completely clean out your squid. That means separating the head from the body. For the body, remove and discard all the gunk and the spine (looks like a long piece of plastic). For the head, look for the beak (sharp v shaped piece) and remove it. You will also want to remove the ink sack and set it aside because you can use this for the sauce.





Speaking of the sauce, to further enhance its flavor I add a packet of cuttlefish ink (photos below). I typically have my mom buy a pack from a Spanish store when she visits the Philippines. But, you can probably find it at a local specialty food store. You can also order it via Amazon. (Side note: this is what is used to make squid ink pasta too - yum! Look out for a future blog about that recipe.)



To make the Adobong Pusit, you will need the following ingredients:
- Medium size frozen squid (usually comes in a 3 pound box)
- Bay leaves (2-3)
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 2 packets of cuttlefish/squid ink plus the ink sacks collected while cleaning the squid
- 1 cup of water
- 3- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
Boil the cleaned squid in a pot with the water, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and pepper for about 5 minutes. Once most of the liquid has evaporated add the ink and allow the sauce to thicken. Check for seasoning but the ink should be salty enough that no additional salt is necessary. Serve with rice.


        






Sunday, October 30, 2016

That's Gravy!

The weather is starting to finally cool down and these days have me craving comfort food. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I have gravy on my mind. While I am typically not a huge fan of anything saucy, I do occasionally have cravings for gravy. Mmmmm... Now, I want some biscuits and gravy. HAHA. There's just something so filling about gravy!

Biscuit + Gravy from Brenda's in San Francisco

I remember initially hating gravy because I have had some really bad gravy in the past - usually underseasoned and not enough depth of flavor. The key to awesome gravy is to develop flavor throughout the entire "gravy making process" by making sure each component of the dish is given the time to brown. Anytime you brown foods such as meat, vegetables and even bread, that browning reaction creates a rich flavor in what you are making. This is a result of the Maillard reaction taking place which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that gives browned food its desirable flavor. (Science! BOOM!) This is important. So important that I remember spending almost 2+ weeks perfecting browning food in my food prep class. Step back and allow those flavors to cook and deepen - it is so worth it!



Today, I was able to find some pork chops on sale at my local grocery store. It is always useful to check out manager's specials or the weekly ad circulars for your favorite grocery store to get the best deals. I did not have a specific plan for the chops but once I saw what I had in my fridge I decided to pan fry the chops and make a mushroom and onion gravy.


I have never followed a specific recipe for this dish but the steps are basically as follows:

  • Season meat with the seasonings you like best. I went for simple tonigh and used: Himalayan salt, fresh black pepper, & dried thyme. 
  • Heat about a tablespoon of oil in the pan and brown the chops on both sides. You want the chops to be browned, leaving those delicious brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
  • Remove chops and allow them to rest.
  • Add mushrooms (about 1 1/2  cups, sliced) to the pan and let them brown. Remove once cooked and set aside.
  • Next, add the onions (1 medium onion) into the pan and allow them to soften and brown.
  • Once the onions have cooked, add about 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour into the pan and stir to cook the flour a bit. Then add the mushrooms back into the pan.
  • Then add about 2 cups of chicken stock (or water) and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits of deliciousness off the bottom of the pan. 
  • Allow the gravy to simmer and thicken (that's what adding the flour does). About 5 minutes. 
  • Next add the chops back in and combine with the gravy. I sliced my chops to make it easier to eat. 
  • Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve. Can be served with mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, or bread.

It's really a simple dish that you can make your own. I was thinking of adding red pepper flakes next time for some kick or some garlic cause I love garlic. You can also mess around with the herbs and seasonings on your meat to fit your taste. If you do not eat pork, use chicken instead and it is just as good. Also for vegetarians, omit the meat and just use a number of different mushrooms and vegetable stock. This is a super versatile dish and I hope you try it out sometime. 

-F

Monday, September 12, 2016

Grilled Chicken

One of my favorite protein options for meal prepping is grilled chicken. This recipe is Greek inspired, since I use olive oil and oregano. I REALLY like this recipe because it calls for simple ingredients that pack some great flavor. This is a really good basic recipe to master and you can definitely change up any way you'd like. 

Typically for the week, I grocery shop and cook a majority of my lunches on Sunday. This makes it easier for me throughout the week to eat healthier and to avoid spending so much money buying food. 


Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Combine the rest of the ingredients into a bowl and add chicken. Mix together and marinate for about an hour.

Grill on an outdoor grill or grill pan until fully cooked. About 4 minutes per side.

NOTE: Please DO NOT pour marinade that the raw chicken had been sitting in over the cooked meat. Instead, freshen up the flavor of the chicken using fresh squeezes of lemon juice.


Additionally, the zucchini and carrots photographed were roasted in oven and these yummy vegetables are just as easy to make. I use Ina Garten's (bae!) recipe for roasted carrots. However,  I modify the amount of seasonings based on how many vegetables I am using at the time of preparation. 

Here's how I made the vegetables: 
Season the vegetables with some dried parsley, salt, pepper, and good olive oil. 
Roast at 400 degree F for about 25 minutes. 


Hope you try this out! Let me know!
- F

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is a Felice favorite and I am surprised I had not tried to make this before. This was a fun process from start to finish. Also, pounding out meat is really good for getting aggression out. 

       

Ingredients
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (could use turkey or pork cutlets too)
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 to 3 cups panko bread crumbs, as needed
Kosher salt, as needed
Black pepper, as needed
Olive oil, for frying
5 cups Tomato Sauce
1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ pound shredded mozzarella

Directions
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken thighs between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap or sandwich nag. Using a kitchen mallet or small sauce pan (like I used), pound meat to even 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Place flour, eggs and panko into three wide, shallow plates or bowls. Season meat generously with salt and pepper. Dip a piece in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat until all the meat is coated.

Fill a large skillet with 1/2-inch oil. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry chicken in batches, turning halfway through, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan over sauce. Place chicken over the Parmesan and top with the mozzarella. Top with remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan.

Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy with a salad, side of pasta, or in a sandwich. Makes some delicious leftovers too!



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sinigang



Sinigang is one of my favorite Filipino comfort foods. It is a sour, sometimes spicy, soup with vegetables and meat or fish or shrimp. Traditionally, the soup is tamarind-based, and that is what gives it its distinct sour flavor. However, there are other ways to develop the sour flavor using calamansi, unripe mango, or guava. I have not tried these methods yet but I plan on experimenting soon. I currently use the powered soup mix but I know I should try to use more organic ingredients.


As far as how I like to make this dish, my favorite meats or fish to use are: pork (butt/shoulder cut or spare ribs), salmon, milkfish (bangus), or shrimp. I usually end up using the pork butt/shoulder – it’s the same cut of meat from the shoulder of the animal but both names are used – because it is the most affordable. I add a TON of vegetables because I love vegetables. In addition to the vegetables photographed, I also often add in kangkong (water spinach), eggplant, daikon radish, gabi (taro root), and chili peppers (siling labuyo) to spice up the dish. Also if you choose, you can leave out the meat and this dish would be a great vegetarian option too.

I have found that most of these ingredients are now easily available at any local grocery store in the Asian aisle but they do not stock a lot of the products. So, my suggestion would be to hit up a local Asian market. In the Sacramento area, check out Koreana Plaza in Rancho Cordova or Seafood City in South Sacramento. Both are huge Asian marketplaces that have some of the best stuff and typically aren’t too expensive.


Sinigang na Baboy (Pork Sinigang)

2 pounds Pork Shoulder/Butt
2 Tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 bunches baby bok choy, leaves separated

1 bunch yard long beans (sitaw), cut in 2 inch length

2 packets Knorr Sinigang mix (yes, I use 2!)

Directions:
Pressure cook pork for 40 minutes until tender

Stew pork, tomatoes, and onions on medium high heat, 10 minutes. Add Sinigang mix and bring to boil. Add in bok choy & long beans and simmer for about 15 minutes

Serve with freshly cooked rice and enjoy!

 

Let me know what you think!

- F



Friday, August 26, 2016

Pasta Pasta Pasta!

Tonight, decided to have an easy dinner night to end the week and made some yummy pasta.



I cheated and used a jar pasta sauce tonight because I wanted to save time, however, making your own sauce is just as easy. 

Below is my favorite recipe for a Tomato-Basil sauce courtesy of Tyler Florence (holler!).

Ingredients
3 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions
Coat a sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and warm over medium-low heat. Add garlic until cooked. Add crushed tomatoes and sugar; season with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat slightly to medium and simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil and the remaining olive oil.

I used whole wheat thin spaghetti noodles (my favorite) and added mushrooms, olives and spinach. 

This is also awesome for leftovers! Definitely give this one a try! 




Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chef Bo Chinese Restaurant


Although I love cooking, there are times when I just want take out. Yes, I order take out every now and then like a real adult. 

Tonight, I was craving food from my favorite local Chinese restaurant: Chef Bo Chinese RestaurantThey offer an extensive menu with tons of options and are very affordable. Also, ordering from this place is super easy. You can either call in or place an order online and they also deliver! 

Some of my favorites off the menu are the Honey Walnut Shrimp and Eggplant in Hot Garlic Sauce. I ordered both of those plus Sweet and Sour Pork for Lou tonight.

                               

Aside from being some of the friendliest people, the staff is amazing at packing to go orders. I know this is weird, but seriously, they know how to stack and pack this stuff. I had to take a few pictures because all this survived my crazy driving. Look, no spills! Thank you Chef Bo staff!



Oh & look who got lucky with two fortune cookies in one package. Yup, me!


Try this place out sometime. Let me know your thoughts! :)

- F