Meat-Free Arroz Caldo

>> September 29, 2011

Who said you can't have Arroz Caldo without the chicken?

A lot of you might say that Arroz Caldo is not an Arroz Caldo if there's no chicken in it. It's the chicken that gives Arroz Caldo its life. I mean no disrespect to this timeless recipe (it's one of my favorite Filipino merriendas) but I did make one without the chicken - and I even skipped the mandatory fish sauce :P. Hey! Vegetarians also have the right to enjoy the yummy arroz caldo, specially in this kind of weather we are having lately - rainy and grey. Perfect for a hot tasty arroz caldo!


- 1/2 cup white rice
- 1/2 cup sticky rice (glutinous rice)
- 6 cups of water (or vegetable stock)
- small ginger, cut in strips (i used about 10 strips)
- 2 Tbsp safflower (kasubha)
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (for garnishing)
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
- onion spring, finely chopped (for garnishing)
- 1 calamansi or lemon (for garnishing)
- 1 hard boiled egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil

1. Add some olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the garlic until it's golden brown. Set aside. We will use this for garnishing later.
2. In a pot, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
3. Saute the 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic until golden brown. Add the onions until soft, and then add the ginger until it releases its flavour.
4. Pour 6 cups of water (or vegetable broth). Add 1/2 cup white rice and 1/2 cup of sticky rice.
5. Set the stove to medium heat and let it simmer. Stir occasionally to make sure that the rice doesn't stick on the pot. Add more water if necessary. The goal is to make it look like risotto (but maybe softer). If it gets sticky, just add water.
6. Sprinkle the safflower (kasubha) and stir. Add salt and pepper according to your taste.

To serve:
Scoop the arroz caldo in a bowl. Sprinkle the toasted garlic (oil drained) and spring onion.Cut the hard boiled egg in half and put it on top. Serve with calamansi or lemon slice. Add a dash of pepper if you wish!

Best matched with fried tofu.


The Veat Meat + Ensaladang Talong

>> September 28, 2011

Mark is always on the look out for meat alternatives every time we are doing our grocery shopping. Here's one of his new discovery.

Veat Pandan Chicken Style.
Image from : Kawan Food
The Veat alternative meat products are soy-based. We tried the Pandan Chicken Style. It can be deep fried, baked, or just microwaved. My cooking time last night was consumed by my eggplant grilling so the pandan chicken style ended up in my microwave.

Taste: It is very flavourful, although, if you hate ginger, this might not suit your taste. The ginger, in my opinion, is very prominent. I hardly tasted the pandan. But pandan leaves are usually flavourful when it's fresh. Since this is frozen, the pandan flavour is not as tasty, so I didn't expect much. The spiciness is just right. It won't make you sneeze.

Texture : It was a bit soft and smooth in my tongue, but I suppose it's because I microwaved it. Maybe if it was prepared in the oven, or deep fried, it will give a better texture.

Overall, I find it yummy. Some soy-based alternative meat products usually taste like soy (well it's made from soy :P), and you can easily tell that it is fake meat. This usually gives people a hard time to transition to a vegetarian life style - if you know you are eating fake meat, plus it taste super fake. I guess, if you are just getting started to go vegetarian, it's important to find tasty and flavourful meat alternatives so you don't easily crave for the real one. Well, until you are used to no meat at all. The Veat pandan chicken style seems to work for me.

I matched it with ensaladang talong (eggplant salad) and garlic fried rice. Here's the recipe for ensaladang talong:
- 3 medium size eggplants
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 3 chopped tomatoes
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2-3 Tbsp of vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Grille the eggplants, until it's blistered and sort of burned in the outside. Set aside and let it cool down.
2. When it's cold enough to touch, remove the outer skin. Remove the branch and top head.
3. Mash it on a mixing bowl.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, onions, vinegar and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. You may add more vinegar according to your taste, if you like it more sour.

Serve chilled.


Vegetarian Burger

>> September 13, 2011

My dear husband has recently publicized this blog to almost everyone he knows, and took the liberty to make me a facebook page for my home cooking. I know, he's my biggest fan (because he have no choice but to eat what i cook :P), I really am flattered and I feel like saying "awww", but at the same time I feel pressured now to update as often as I can as well as to make quality postings!

Here's a vegetarian patty recipe that's tasty, even a non-vegetarian would enjoy!

Ingredients :
1 cup dehydrated mock ground meat (soy based grains)
1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 small carrot, grated
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
4-5 pcs swiss brown mushrooms, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large egg
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
pickled green pepper, sliced
honey-mustard sauce

1. Put the dehydrated ground meat (soy based grains) in a bowl. Pour hot water until completely submerged.
2. When it's soft enough, drain the excessive water and put it in a mixing bowl.
3. Toss the grated carrot, onion, coriander, bell pepper and swiss brown mushroom and mix well. At this point you can also add the cumin, about 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper (according to your liking).
4. Divide the mixture in to two. Keep half of the mixture in the freezer. We will only cook half of it as it makes about 5 patties.
5. Add the egg and butter.
6. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of flour. The flour's purpose is to hold together the mixture. If 1/4 cup is not enough, add flour gradually until you reach the desired firm texture to mold the mixture.
7. Prepare your frying pan and heat oil.
8. When the oil is hot enough, make a ball out of the mixture and put it in the pan. Flatten it with a spatula.
9. Turn the patty to the other side when it's golden brown and ready.

I usually cook in low heat so i can evenly cook the inside of the patty as well as not to burn the outside.

To serve:
1. Toast your burger buns.
2. put a good amount of arugula on the base. Top it with the burger patty.
3. Spread some honey mustard on the patty and top it with the pickled green peppers.

Don't be afraid to free style. You can put fresh onions, caramelized onions or tomatoes. Guacamole also works as a dressing for the burger if you want to skip honey-mustard.


Sweet Potato for Breakfast

>> September 8, 2011

As usual, when I run out of ideas of what to cook, I food hunt in my favorite food blogs. This morning's breakfast, I was in the mood for something simple. I found Potato Latkes recipe and was immediately inspired to make one. On a side note, my husband loves sweet potato so I replaced the ingredient with sweet potato instead. I am not too crazy about sweet potatoes because of a childhood myth I grew up with that it makes you fart like crazy. A lot of sweet potato lovers might probably object, but like I said, it's just a myth - with or without sweet potato, we will fart. It's just my mental issue.

- 1 cup (packed) grated sweet potato
- 1 large beaten egg
- 1 small white onion, minced
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Squeeze the grated sweet potato and remove the excess liquid in it.
2. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper according to your liking.
3. Heat pan with cooking oil.
4. Pack a tablespoon with the mixture and put it in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes or when its golden brown. Turn to the other side when ready.

1 cup makes about 5 small pieces. If you wish to make more, the proportion of grated sweet potato and beaten egg should be 1:1. The egg is present just to hold it together. We wouldn't want the egg to overpower the flavor of the sweet potato. You can serve it with ketchup, or sour cream as a dip.


Baked Herbed Vegetables

>> September 1, 2011

I've been thinking of herb usage since my mini herb garden's been blooming. I always feel bad to trim them and then not able to use them. So this evening, while I was cleaning up the fridge, an idea came - that is to make a vegetable side dish, infused with herbs.

This vegetable side dish is a great partner for the vegetarian meatballs I prepared together with it.

- small broccoli flower head, chopped and washed
- 1 small carrots, sliced in circles
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped in big chunks
- Baguio beans, cut it in half if it's too long. You may also use french beans.
- 2 tbsp of corn kernels
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- a few sprigs of thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp butter (optional)

1. Toss all the vegetables in a mixing bowl.
2. Sprinkle the olive oil and herbs. Add salt and pepper according to your taste and set aside for 15 minutes to marry the flavors.
3. Preheat oven to 200 C.
4. Make a bag out of aluminum foil and put the vegetable mixture, including the marinade in it. You may add about a tablespoon of butter.
5. Seal it and put it in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes. Make sure you do not overcook the vegetables inside. I love the carrots when it's still crunchy :).


Bubble Blahs

I work and live at night time. I am a person deprived of natural light. I rarely cook in the morning as I'm almost always asleep, else busy with house chores. As much as I love natural light in my photography, I'm afraid I don't usually have that luxury, unless I sacrifice my sleep, or make an effort to stay up longer during the day to do a cooking + photo session. So I depend on my flash, and sometimes, available light from my fluorescent bulbs. Although, in my opinion, nothing beats the natural light, I am, so far, satisfied with my shots using my flash that I learned to love.

I always look forward to the weekends for some sunlight.

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