Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teriyaki Chicken Rice

Mike made a really yummy chicken dish yesterday. He never takes measurements, so I'll just describe what he did.


teriyaki sauce
1 onion
4 chicken breasts, deboned and deskinned
steamed rice (cooled)
1 egg, beaten
cooking oil


Marinde the chicken breasts in the teriyaki sauce and honey. In a wok, sautee the onions until translucent. Add the chicken and fry until cooked through. Add the rice and egg, mix well, and continue to fry.

Serves 2.
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saving money in the kitchen.

Saving money in the kitchen.

In this age of high prices, I'm always on the lookout for ways to save money in the kitchen.

One thing I'm thrilled about is the rise in the number of home-based businesses that either sell or manufacture dishwashing and detergent chemicals. The prices are often amazingly cheap.

I usually buy from Speedy Clean which sells dishwashing liquid a P50.50 per liter, fabric softener at P68 per liter or P149.50 per gallon, 2-ply bathroom tissue at P340 for 48 rolls, and detergent powder at P30 per kilo. All of this is less than half the price of what you would spend on Unilever or P&G products in the supermarket. They deliver to certain parts of the metropolis. (Tel. 6355719 to 23).

Sabon Express sells detergent powder at P21 to P50 per kilo, depending on the amount of lather (i.e., how bubbly it is: the more lather, the more expensive), whether you intend to use it for washing machine or handwash, and whether the detergent incldes bleach and antibacterial formula. They also sell fabric softener at P160/gallon, bleach at P80 per gallon, multipurpose liquid cleaner at P160/gallon, glass cleaner at P120/gallon, liquid handsoap at P160/gallon, and mild liquid laundry detergent at P160/gallon. They deliver too, and you can contact them at tel. 994-8853.

Soap on Whells sells detergent powder at P27/kilo, dishwashing liquid at P33.75/liter or P135/gallon, and fabric conditioner at P35/liter or P140/gallon. They deliver for a minimum order of P300. Telephone numbers: 4225308 and 9125645.

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Learning to cook

An friend of mine sent me a flyer for something which I think is a really cool idea: home cooking lessons.

A group of Metro Manila-based chefs is now offering professional culinary lessons right in your home. They've taught cooking to individuals, couples, entire families, children, et cetera, et cetera.

For more details, email Chef Jonas Ng at jonasng[at]gmail[dot]com

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Meat thermometer madness.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband bought a meat thermometer.

Not just any thermometer, but a deluxe kind, with a metal probe that you insert into the meat, attached by wire to a digital read-out that you can keep outside the oven.

With our brand new meat thermometer, we experimented on some steaks that we cooked on our electric grill. The meat came out perfectly done: perfectly medium rare for Mike, and well-done (the only meat--sniff! sniff!--I can eat until I give birth, sigh!).

The following day, we brought the meat thermometer to our friend's house and made a beef roast.

Again, perfect.

The center was an exquisite medium rare, and the ends just hit well-done.

Since then, we've become meat thermometer addicts.

Mike and I eat a lot of steak, and we used to always just rely on the second hand of our kitchen clock and guesswork. We had gotten good at estimating cooking time for medium rare (which, when I'm not pregnant, is the kind of meat I eat), but when we'd have friends over who would want their steaks medium or well-done, or when we cut the steaks slightly thicker or slightly thinner than usual, we'd often get it wrong, having to throw back the slab of beef onto the grill or into the pan to cook out more of the blood.

But having a thermometer takes all the guesswork out of making roasts and steak. Pop the meat in, check the chart for the correct temperature, and a few degrees before the thermometer reads that temperature, take the meat out and let it rest. (It continues to cook while resting, so you want to take it out slightly before it hits target temperature.)

Result? Perfectly cooked roasts/steak every single time.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

American Goulash, attempt #1

The following is recipe based on one from FoodNetwork.com.

Sorry for the blurred photo. This is just 1 serving, by the way. The recipe is double this.

250 g lean ground beef
1 native onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes, diced, together with the tomato juice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
dried basil
dried oregano
dried parsley
garlic powder
dried thyme
dried rosemary
garlic powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
parmesan cheese

In a deep pot, saute the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat, until no pink remains. (We sauteed ours in olive oil because our ground beef was very very lean.) Add the onions and garlic to the pot and saute until they are tender (about 3 minutes). Add water, along with the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, soy sauce. Season with dried herbs, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese when serving.

Serves 2.

Not bad, but it needed more kick. Next time we'll try to put more spiciness--more Tabasco, or chilli flakes perhaps. And maybe more garlic. Before I poured in the elbow macaroni, the dish looked a little watery to me, and I made the mistake of leaving the lid slightly ajar. Twenty-five minutes later, the water was all gone and the macaroni almost burned, so I realize I should've followed the recipe and left the lid on, as instructed. The resulting dish was also a little "bitin" -- I think I'll add more macaroni next time.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Korean chicken rice

There's actually no such dish, but I didn't know what to call our latest concoction. We found some Korean bean paste in Shopwise but when we opened it, it wasn't the black bean paste we'd been expecting, but the red kind (ssamjang). It looks like the red chili paste kind you find in bibimbap, and apparently, the red chili paste is one of the main ingredients of ssamjang (I looked this all up on the Internet.

It's actually a dipping paste, but Mike and I decided to throw something a little different together and here's what we came up with.


sesame oil
5 chicken thighs, deboned and deskinned
2 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped
Korean red bean paste (ssamjang)
kim (Korean nori), cut into sheets measuring approximately 4" x 5"
steamed rice (one bowl per person)


Slice the chicken into strips. Marinate in rice wine, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and onion for about half an hour.

Stir-fry chicken in sesame oil until brown. Add 1 heaping tbsp of red bean paste (or to taste, depending on desired level of spiciness). When chicken is cooked through, add rice and 1 additional heaping tbsp of red bean paste. Fry, mixing well until flavors blend.

Transfer to serving bowl. Shred some kim on top. Serve with additional kim on the side.

Serves 2.

Verdict: Yummy, and super-easy.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The joys of online shopping

This isn't exactly a kitchen post, but it does have something to do with appliances, which in turn have something to do with the home, which is sufficiently related to the kitchen to merit a post on this blog.

I'm on leave this summer (one of the perks of my job is that we get summer leaves every three years), so I've been spending time doing all the home-related tasks and house-related errands I've been putting off all year. I had a plumber come a few weeks ago to fix our leaky kitchen faucets; I had a carpenter come to install some new bookshelves; and (as you know) my husband and I went and bought ourselves a new fridge .... And among the many home improvements I've been doing is making a list of new appliances we need.

And in the midst of all of that ... I've discovered the joys of online shopping.

See, I don't drive. Last week, in the 35-degree heat, I decided that our house needed 2 additional electric fans ... but I was dreading the thought of taking a cab to the mall in the middle of a hot day, buying 2 bulky stand fans, and lugging them all the way to the taxi stand. So I asked my husband if we could just go to the mall one day after he was done with work so we could buy the electric fans. His reply (so obvious to him, because he works in the web industry, but strangely, so un-obvious to me, even if I'm online the whole day), was, "Why don't you just buy it online?"

See, a part of my brain is still stuck in the 1990s, when you couldn't buy anything online in the Philippines. Since then, I actually have done quite a bit of online shopping, but only: (1) on Amazon, when I have relatives flying home from the US and I have padala shipped to them for them to bring here, and (2) to buy airplane tickets.

But, as I've found out these past few days, Philippine e-commerce has really improved in leaps and bounds these past few years, and while we aren't quite at Amazon.com level yet, there are a lot of things we Pinoys can buy online.

So these past several days alone, I've either bought or intend to buy:

  • a Mass card for a family friend who's father passed away (MyAyala.com [which I ought to mention, in the interest of journalistic ethics, is the sister company of my husband's company] -- and they delivered it to the recipient as well)

  • the 2 electric fans (both Abenson and SM Appliance Center have online stores; Abenson has much cheaper delivery within Metro Manila, but when I checked SM Appliance Center had more choices, at least when it came to electric fans [Abenson has more computer stuff, though, which SM doesn't have])

  • a paper shredder, something I've been meaning to buy for ages (National Bookstore -- I plan to make this purchase tonight and I'll probably throw in some school supplies and summer reading while I'm at it, to make the most of the delivery charge)

The thing is, I could go to a mall and buy all that, but the cab ride to and from the mall will cost just as much as the delivery charge (the cheapest delivery fee from the above sites is P150), so why bother? Especially since riding around in cabs in this heat would probably give me a migraine.

So there. Now I think I'm getting a bit addicted to the idea that I can buy things online so easily. I've been browsing the local e-commerce websites, wondering what else I can buy .... Hehehe! Ah, yes, online or in a brick-and-mortar mall, girls will always love shopping. :)

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Chicken with tarragon and mustard cream sauce

After a long while, I decided to try something new (for the last few months we've just been cooking old favorites.

I went online for some ideas and finally adapted a recipe and came up with this:


4 chicken thighs, deboned and deskinned
olive oil or unsalted butter
1 small native onion
1/2 chicken cube dissolved in 3/4 cup water
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 cup cream

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken thighs in olive oil, 2 min each side, over medium flame. Remove the chicken and set aside. Reduce flame to low. Saute onions until translucent. Add chicken broth, scraping off browned bits. Return chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil then cover, lower flame, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove chicken. Add cream, mustard, and tarragon. Mix well and heat until sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Serves 2.

Verdict: Tasty; a little on the salty side, so next time I won't bother adding salt, or maybe I'll put less chicken cube. The broth almost dried out, so it might be good to double check when you're simmering and add water if necessary. Mike said he thought the sauce would go better on pasta instead of rice. The original recipe has brandy in it, and I'm sure the brandy would add a marvelous touch, but I had neither brandy nor white wine on hand, so I simply did without.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Storing vegetables (and some fruits) properly

With a new appliance, I'm fired up to learn to use it properly. So I did a little bit of research about how to store veggies in the vegetable drawer properly ... and found out, to my astonishment, that I've been making some big mistakes all these years! For example, I've always unthinkingly thrown tomatoes into the vegetable drawer ... but apparently, tomatoes ideally aren't supposed to be refrigerated (unless you really intend to keep them longer), because refrigeration changes the taste.

Unfortunately, all the websites I've found regarding vegetable storage were made in the West; I haven't found a website that talks specifically about fruits available in Southeast Asia, or that takes Southeast Asian tropical weather into consideration, but I compiled whatever I found helpful and here's my list. (I changed the name of the veggies to their Tagalog equivalents when appropriate.)

  • Carrots - Remove greens, put in a Ziplock bag, keep in vegetable drawer. Lasts 2 to 4 weeks.

  • Lettuce - I got different advice for lettuce. Two websites said to make the lettuce a little damp (either by wrapping the lettuce in a damp paper towel or sprinkling a teeny bit of water on the leaves), put it in a Ziplock bag, and place it in the vegetable drawer. Another said that the lettuce should be as dry as possible before putting it in the Ziplock bag. Some said the bag should have breathing holes; others said the bag should be completely sealed. Lasts a week to a week and a half.

  • Cabbage - Wrap in Clingwrap, keep in vegetable drawer. Lasts 2 weeks.

  • Sayote - Keep in vegetable drawer. Lasts 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Chili peppers - Put in a Ziplock bag to prevent aroma from spreading to other vegetables, keep in vegetable drawer. Lasts a week.

  • Spring onions - Don't wash. Put in open plastic bag, keep in vegetable drawer. Lasts a week.

  • Ginger root - Wrap in paper bag or newspaper. Store in vegetable drawer.

  • Sitaw - Place in open plastic bag. Store in vegetable drawer.

  • Cauliflower and broccoli - Wrap the head in plastic wrapper. Store near the back of the refrigerator (where it's colder). Lasts a week.

  • Calamansi and lemons - Don't wrap. Store near the front of the refrigerator. Before using, allow to warm to room temperature. Lasts 1.5 to 3 weeks.

  • Squash (opened) - When opened, shop into pieces, wrap each piece well in Clingwrap and keep in the vegetable drawer. Lasts 5 days when opened and stored in the refrigerator.

  • Tomatoes (ripe) - Wrap loosely in paper bag or newspaper. Store on refrigerator shelf. Lasts from 2 days to a week.

  • Kangkong - Put in open plastic bag, keep on refrigerator shelf. Lasts 3 days.

  • Eggplant - Store unwrapped on refrigerator shelf. Lasts 7 to 10 days.

  • Grapes - Don't wash until you're about to eat it. Put in Ziplock bag. Store on refrigerator shelf, near the back. Lasts 2 - 3 weeks.

  • All fruits - As a general rule, don't keep fruits in the same drawer as vegetables. Many fruits need good air circulation and if they need to be refrigerated those fruits are better kept on the refrigerator shelf.

  • Squash (unopened) - When unopened, store outside of the refrigerator in a cool dry place. Lasts a month when unopened.

  • Tomatoes (not yet ripe) - Wrap loosely in paper bag or newspaper. Store in a cool dry place. Lasts from 2 days to a week.

  • The obvious ones: onions, garlic, potatoes.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our new refrigerator

Last week, Mike and I went out and bought a new refrigerator. The old refrigerator in our house was a tiny 7 (maybe even 6) cubic-foot single-door fridge, which we would have to cram like crazy. It still worked, but it no longer cooled our food as well as refrigerators should, especially because it was always so stuffed.

So we took a trip to our friendly neighborhood SM appliance center with a budget of P20,000.

We ended up getting an 11-cubic-foot Whirlpool, a teeny bit over our budget, but pretty much exactly what we needed. We didn't need a big freezer because we have a separate stand-alone freezer, but we did need space for all our bottles (because of all the water one needs to drink in this hot and humid country), and the Whirlpool has nice big door racks for big 1.5-liter bottles, leaving the main chamber free for everything else.

Some happy plusses were a built-in deodorizer, built-in twist ice trays, and Canadian no-CFC technology (good for the environment).

The only disappointment was that the vegetable drawer wasn't much bigger than the vegetable drawer of our old refrigerator.

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What to do with leftover lamb

Mike brought home some leftover leg of lamb after a big business-related dinner at Cyma. So the other day we had a tweaked version of our lamb stew.

leftover lamb, chopped into small pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 can whole tomato, including the tomato sauce
garlic salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
olive oil

We cooked the onion and bacon first, in a large pot, until the onion was transparent, then we threw everything else in, brought it to a boil, then let it simmer.

Yum, it was delicious ...!

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