Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beef Nilaga in Summer!!!

In the Philippines, Beef Nilaga (Beef Soup) is Add Imageusually cooked during a cold and rainy day. Well here in Melbourne, I've decided to try cooking one of favorite soup dishes in the summer. It was of course a welcome treat for all of us since it's been a while since we've had this. Basically, it's a soup with very simple ingredients. You've got beef. It's best to use cheap cuts. I usually use a combination of cheap cuts and osso bucco. This makes for a more flavourful soup. I then include a bunch of vegetables like bok choy, carrots, potatoes, and an onion.

So here the steps:

  • Place the Beef in a pot and cover it with cold water.

  • Bring this to a boil and simmer for about an hour per 500 grams or until tender. During the simmer, I add a few whole black pepper corns.

  • Once the meat is tender, add in a quartered onion, the potatoes, and carrots.

  • Of course, you will need to add salt to flavour this. I usually use Fish sauce for this.

  • Once the potatoes and carrots are tender, add in the bok choy.

  • Continue to simmer for a minute or two and then serve with rice and more fish sauce.

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Baking

Baking is now a regular routine for myself. My wife and kids are just requesting me to bake them a few treats every now and then. Also, activities at school demand me to bake more goodies for my kids to bring.

Proud to say that I've managed to contribute a few muffins in a few bake sales at school. It is a bit difficult to compete with a lot of the moms at school, who regularly bake. I admit that the stuff that I bring up are not up to scratch with what they can whip up; but it's still good enough for my family.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Lobster Mystery

Before we came to Australia, there are foods that I just dreamed of serving to my family. Roast beef, Roast duck, Alaskan Snow Crab, and even turkey are just a few on my list. One that is on top of my list is the Lobster.

A Lobster was a mystery to us before we came here. There were a lot of things that I thought it would taste like. Firstly, I thought that it would taste like chicken. I also thought that it would taste like shrimps or crabs. Back in the Philippines, we couldn't afford to buy a Lobster. It was way too expensive back then. Actually, it is still expensive here; but relatively, it is more affordable than back in the Philippines.

So I could happily say that the Lobster mystery has been solved here, and I was able to serve it to my family. My kids didn't like it much, but the wife just loved it. It didn't really take like chicken; but resembled more of the shrimp and crab.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Veggie Night

I admit that my kids are a bit picky with their food, but thank goodness we've manage to instill in them that having a well balanced diet is important. We try to tell them what any parent would tell their children: 'Eat your vegetables!!!'. So to ensure this, we try to adopt an all vegetable night. Our kids aren't usually happy about this, but they end up loving any dish that I whip up anyway.

One of a regular Filipino dish that I cook for these night is the Chopsuey. It's basically vegetarian stir fry. There are different variations of this dish, and can be combined with beef, chicken, pork, and even shrimps; but for these night, I would just include Shitake mushrooms and or tofu.
The basic ingredients of the dish are cabbage, carrots, onions, green beans, snow peas, and the mushrooms. Alright. I admit that there are shrimps in this instance. I have to make sure that my youngest eats too you know. But anyways, majority of the stuff is vegetables. There are just a few steps to this recipe. Just sautee the onions, the shrimps, and the mushrooms. Then add the rest of the vegetables. To season, you can choose from a variaty of asian sauces. For my version, I normally use soy sauce and oyster sauce.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My First Cake

Like I said before, I would definitely end up baking my first ever cake. So I did, but this time with a little help from my wife's Russian friend. She gave us this idea for a simple Carrot Cake. The recipe was indeed simple, and only required a few ingredients, but being the creative chef as I am, I decided to do my own twist. Finally, I had my very first cake.
I called it moist carrot cake. Actually, it was very moist.
I used the following ingredients:
Grated Carrots - preferably organic. This is what our friend recommended.

2 Eggs - preferably grain fed. This is what our friend recommended.

About 250 grams of butter. Our friend recommended plain vegetable oil.

Flour - about 2 cups. Of course, I used organic as well.

One cup of milk. Any variety will do. Full cream will give the best results.

2 teaspoons of baking powder to give the cake a lift.

Do the following steps:
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

I then blitz all the ingredients together (except for the carrots) in the food processor.

I then pour the batter onto a mixing bowl, and add the grated carrots.

I then lined a bread pan with baking paper, and poured the ingredients into it.

Place the pan in the middle of the oven, and lower the heat to 180 degrees C.

Cook the cake for about 20-25 minutes.

There you have it, my very first cake; and it's a healthy one.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shrimp and Peas

One of the challenges of working 8 hours a day is having time and the brain capacity to whip something quickly for a family dinner. So I usually try to be invented as I go. I just try to pick up anything in the fridge and whip up a dish that my family will scarf down. It was actually in one of those days when I invented this dish which has now become a regular for us. It was quite easy, and very tasty too.
It all started with the idea of just coming up with a dish that had 3 ingredients only. So here they are: Shrimps (preferably peeled ones and cleaned), frozen peas, and tomatoes (the mini Roma variety is best with this). All you need to do is microwave the peas for a couple of minutes. This is just to defrost them and partially cook them too. You can also boil the peas if you prefer. Cut the mini Roma tomatoes in half. They are small enough to be bite size, so cutting them in half would be fine. Then stir-fry the shrimps with a little salt and garlic powder. Add the peas and tomatoes when the shrimps are cooked. Let the peas and tomatoes cook for a while, and then the dish is ready to serve.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Piece of Cake

One of the top things that I want to learn in the kitchen is baking. The task seems simple enough. You just have to mix butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, and other ingredients together; and presto, you've got a delicious cake. Well, actually it's not that simple. It just looks simple when you watch professional pastry chefs get into it. But for a mere father like me, it's probably a tall order.
To be honest, I've never really had a chance to do any baking back in the Philippines. You see, one tool required for this task is an oven. And we didn't have that back. Here in Australia, the oven came with the house that we rented. So aside from roasting, which was another thing that we couldn't do back then , I decided that I will finally learn baking. I didn't care if I could easily buy a cake cheaper than buying the ingredients I would need to make my own. This doesn't even include the hard that I'll probably exert to make it.
Anyways, hopefully it would be a piece of cake once I had enough practice. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Lunch Box

I've been having trouble lately with making fresh ideas for my kids Lunch box. I often wonder how with all my ideas for dishes, I can't think of proper lunch box dishes. I bet, any Master Chef would think this is a tall order. I don't think it has something to do with the taste at all. I mean, I know that you can try to please kids with the usual sweets or savoury dishes. But I guess that is precisely the problem. The food has to be appealing to the kids. If the food doesn't have much flavor or the kids won't like it; it will definitely end up in the bin.
One other problem that I face everyday is how to make the food nutritious. I can't just serve them hot dogs everyday. I'd probably have malnourished kids if I did that. The food has to have nutritional value. For some parents, it has to be a well balance lunch. That's is another problem that I would have to overcome. One of my kids doesn't like to vegetables too often.
Anyways, the lunch box is still a constant challenge for me. I try very hard to keep it exciting for the kids. It's good thing so far that they seem to finish their lunches.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Buzz of Masterchef Australia

When I started watching Masterchef on the Food Channel, I was immediately captured by how the show was all about passion for food. Yes, I am fond of watching cooking shows especially the ones where chefs (amateur or professional) battle it out in the kitchen. You've got your Iron Chefs (Japan and America). It is more a battle arena for the World's elite "Foodistas". And you've got the Gordon Ramsay shows (Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, etc). But to be honest, I'm hearing more swear words than seeing more cooking getting done.
The format that Masterchef UK showed was clean, and honest. I guess the best thing about it was that it was all about the food, and the cooking. Yes, people clamoured for success in a career in the food industry, but that doesn't get in the way of a good and well executed dish.
When Masterchef Australia was announced several months back, I knew that people would be seeing a new format. Unlike the UK version, Masterchef here in Australia already showcased the contestants from the start. Auditions were here held, but unlike Idol, the center was on food knowledge and cooking passion. Yes, this follows much of the format from the UK version, but Channel 10 has added more flavour into the mix.
I am actually surprised by the vast success of this show. It's proven because even my kids and their friends at school have interest in the now famous contestants. And of course they also love to see the great food that's being prepared. As detailed in a recent article on the Age, the show has changed the landscape of reality TV. And yes, it is for the better. It just goes to show that you can have reality TV that gives more of a positive impact on all ages. It is one thing to eat food, but it is totally another thing to clamour for food that you've prepared yourself. The show has certainly tapped into this.
As this current season is about to end, people are just buzzing to find out who is Australia's first Masterchef. I myself am wanting more and can't wait for the next season. I suppose the challenge for myself is to try and audition.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Pasta of a Time

I confess that my family is a big fan of pasta. We made it a tradition this time to have pasta once a week, preferably on Sundays. Now, when I say pasta it doesn't really mean the sort of stuff that you see in an Italian restaurants menu. I'll probably simply refer to it as Filipino style spaghetti.
An alternative to pancit, the Pinoy style spaghetti is usually a main stay in any birthday party. Of course you wouldn't be able to force kids to like pancit because of the veggies, so spaghetti is there for them to enjoy. The recipe isn't really fixed either, it can vary from region to region or even family to family. But there is one common ground around the Filipino style spaghetti, it is more sweet to taste. A typical Italian Spaghetti Bolognese wouldn't be as sweet, and it wouldn't have slices of hot dog either.
I myself have grow up to a family that loves spaghetti. Now that I'm all grown up, I find that my kids love it too. I've started developing my own variations of the dish, and could even do it in a few ways. On Sundays, I cook Filipino Style Spaghetti. Sometimes I use ground beef with my sauce, and I would do it with ready-made meatballs too.
It's not really too difficult to cook. All you need to do is cook the noodles as per packet instructions. I used to cook my sauce from scratch, but I found that the ready-made sauces were convenient and less hassle for me. Of course, I don't rely purely on there bottle recipes. I add to their sauces to make it my own. Sugar is the one ingredient that often add, and maybe some diced carrots too (it often adds to the sweetness). I would often add some herbs too (coriander, basil, or some dried oregano).
Of course, I love to eat my dish too. But the ultimate goal for myself is to see my kids and wife smile with every dish I make. Filipino style spaghetti is always a winner in their books.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Noodles for Dinner

I've always had a fascination for stir fry or any Asian dish for that matter. This is one of thoes dishes that I just pulled out of my bag tricks. Couldn't really think of a dish that can be quickly prepared. So this one came to mind. The dish is called Quick Stir Fry Beef Noodles. No fancy ingredients here except for the noodles. I used Hong Kong style shrimp noodles, but it could easily be Singapore noodles or plain egg noodles.
Quick Stir Fry Beef Noodles
Basically, the dish is simple in that I've only used 4 core ingredients. The noodles, stir fry beef, bok choy, and oyster sauce. The steps are as simple as well.
You just have to cook the noodles as per packet directions, drain and set aside.
Then in a hot wok or pan, stir fry the beef until brown.
Add the oyster sause and then the pre-cooked noodles. Lastly, stir in the bok choy.

That's how simple a good dinner can be. The quantities of the ingredients can be up to you. It all depends on how many people are having the meal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Kitchen is Open...

I have been blessed through the years in having a good sense about food. I am even luckier to be allergy free, so this allows me to taste pretty much anything. Aside from my love of eating just about anything, I am also a chef at heart. I just love to cook. Most people would probably agree with me saying that there is something about cooking that calms the mind.
The Kitchen has always been my second favorite next to the TV room. At home, you would find me in front of the TV or right in the middle of the kitchen wipping up a nice meal or a tasty snack. Aside, most of the things that I watch on TV are either Sci-Fi or cooking shows on the LifeStyle Food. It's just one of the best ways to learn to cook and enjoy at the same time. I have not been a book fan, but I still end up collecting cook books and magazines.
Since we moved here in Australia, I've had more time to explore a few dishes. I've also learned a few more things. Baking is one of them. Back in the Philippines, I've always wanted to start baking; but an oven is never around. Here, the right ingredients and equipment come together to allow me to invent and expirement. And that is what I've been doing for the few months now. I even cook my kids snacks now, and we've already opted out of those unhealthy stuff that you get from the supermarkets.
So this is just the beginning, I plan to start sharing stuff that I've learned and I will have nice pictures courtesy of my love wife.