My Legume Love Affair: Pistou provençal vegetable soup

The talented and sweet Susan of Well Seasoned Cook is hosting "My legume love affair" a blogging event not only for vegetarians but for all veggie lovers out there. Eating vegetables has been part of our daily life. Although I am certified omnivore, eating vegetables is one thing I enjoy a lot. Probably it was due to the fact that I grew up in the neighborhood where vegetables are growing abundantly. Waterspinach (kangkong), bittergourd (ampalaya), gourd (patola), gumbo (okra), eggplants are part and parcel of the landscape of my childhood. My parents were not farmer, let just say were lucky to live close to one who loves planting. The old couple does the planting while we do the harvesting :-) But seriously, one thing I admire the most on our neighbor was their generosity to give to anyone who's in need. Sometimes we pay but most of the time they were given to us for free.

Although I miss terribly local vegetables in the Philippines living here now in southern France gives me the same delight everytime I consume vegetables. Being the hottest region in France, explains the reason of the bountiful vegetables available in the market. And when it comes to traditional vegetable recipes inherent in provençe ; Ratatouille and the Pistou soup are the ones to remember. The vegetable dish Ratatouille is so popular that it has even been used as a title of a recent box-office movie. While Pistou soup on the other hand, despite its goodness and richeness the popularity remains locally probably too overshadowed by its italian counterpart (Minestrone soup) in the international scene.

In light with this blogging event I am sharing with you a typical and classical vegetable soup in southern France, Pistou (which means literally basil in the provençal dialect)

The chunky pistou soup
3 courgettes cut in cubes
4 big and ripe tomatoes
2 potatoes peeled and diced
3 carrots peeled and diced
200 g of white kidney beans (soaked over night and cook for two hours in crock pot)
150 g of green beans
2 onion leeks (white part only) cleaned and cut about 3 cms long
5 cloves of garlic
3 branches of fresh basil leaves
salt, pepper
5 tbsp of olive oil
3 liters of water
50 g of macaroni
100 g of parmesan cheese

Wash the cut courgette, carrots, leeks and potatoes. Set them aside. String the green beans and cut them into small pieces. Peel and seed the tomatoes and crush them using the back of the fork. Bring the three liters of water to boil then thrwo in all the vegetables including the cooked kidney beans. Halfway the cooking, add salt, pepper and macaroni. Cook for another one hour. In a mortar pound the cloves of garlic and basil leaves. Continue pounding , then gradually add the olive oil. Mix this paste up with a ladleful of broth and pour the mixture on the boiling soup. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on the top.
My Pistou elements in still life

Caldereta: Devil's Beef Stew Blazing in my Cracked Pot

Outrageously Spicy beef caldereta: beef stew in tomato sauce

When I was a kid, I grew up in a family of fried fish-rice-sautéed vegetables routine on the table. Not that I'm sulking about this habitual at home but it's unthinkable that dad would cook something fancy or elaborate. Lack of time, lack of money, or maybe both? But its true, priceless are those moments we are feasting menudo, kare-kare or lechon at home. That is why we would always look like (my sisters and I) famished kittens devouring those dishes when invited on birthday parties, fiestas and other occassions in the neighborhood. Shamelessly, going back home even with doggy bags. Being married now and living far from my family make me long for those funny childhood "feasting" memories.

As Lasang Pinoy (a food blogging event promoting filipino food) celebrates its 23rd edition with Crockpot cooking. I couldn't think of anything better that falls under the category of "slowly cooked" than making a Spicy Beef Caldereta. It is a beef recipe slowly marinated and slowly simmered with vegetables. There exist plenty of versions of cooking this recipe but so far I judge the one my auntie often cooks for us on special occassions as the best. Unfortunately I don't have her recipe (I think her version is the one that uses 7-Up as the secret ingredient). The only thing I could guarantee you is that this beef caldereta is hideously spicy and it's been cooked slowly in my cracked pot. I'm not a fan of crock pot because I don't have one, but all my slow cooking recipes are cooked on my bygone inherited terrine, an earthenware cooking dish that I cook idly in the oven.
Beef Caldereta

1 kg of stewing beef cut into cubes
250 g
of potatoes peeled and quartered
2 red bell pepper grilled, peeled and chopped
250 g of carrots peeled and cut into cubes
100 g of pitted green olives
half a cup of tomato sauce
1 tsp of tomato paste
2tsps of chili powder or cayenne powder
2 tbsps of hot sauce
2 tbsps of chili oil
2 tbsps of olive oil
10 g of butter

Marinating ingredients:
Half a cup of red wine, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp of crushed garlic, 1 big onion minced, half a cup of coarsely chopped chicken liver, some thyme and rosemary

Marinate for at least one hour the beef. In a pan, fry lightly the beef with olive oil and butter. Use the same frying pan for the carrots and potatoes. Then in a crock pot or any deep and thick casserole put all the ingredients including the marinating sauce. And simmer covered over low fire for two hours.

Pretty in red

If pots could talk, this time-worn thing have a lot to tell

You can find my other filipino recipes at:

Adobo Beef Shawarma
Porc Sarciado
Chicken Menudo

Lemon Meringue Pie: When life gives you lemons, dare to squeeze 'em & bake a pie

Lemon Meringué Mini-pie glazed in caramel syrup

Despite that 2007 started and ended a very promising year for me 2008 on the otherhand didn't start that well in my family; dad's been hospitalized while grand-mom (in-laws side) still in the hospital. Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock and still be the same innocent child I was, more carefree and worry about nothing. For If I could count by liters all the tears I shed over all my frustrations, sadness and fears since I started being aware of the realities of life, It could probably fill up a dozen of olympic size pools. But nonetheless, challenges are part and parcel of life. And the manner we deal with it and what we do next that really counts.

When Lemon comes our way, they don't come once, not twice but dozen

Speaking of challenges, Daring Baker's January challenge hosted by Canadian Baker was all about baking lemon meringue pie. My story with this pie started way back in Japan. We had a kilo of lemon sleeping in the fridge and I thought of using them by baking a pie. I thought I invented something, but to my dismay when hubby told me it's his favorite and this pie really existed. Ha haha, what a great pretention on my side. Anyways, I am never a good baker because I hate following recipes (that's why DB challenges are always a big "challenge" for me), since I normally do it with feeling.

I have noticed that there were quite some complain regarding the result of the recipe provided for this challenge; claiming the lemon custard is too runny or too sweet, and many other more. Since I don't want to do the challenge twice (meaning if I will ruin my first attempt) I opted to solve the issue of the runny custard by baking mini-pies or tartlettes. This way we will never be bothered since the pies will be served invidividually. I would admit I normally have a different recipe when I do my lemon-meringue pie but the given recipe is also worth a try.

Sitting and pondering.........
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
Dare for a bite?

Chicken curry Pizza: A perfect day for Donna's Pizza

Chicken Curried Mango and Mozzarella Pizza

I am one of the few people that doesn't like pizza. For simple reason that its too good yet lavishly rich in calories. Not that I'm concerned with my weight but I feel guilty everytime I'm indulging this italian pie that has been internationally embraced as their own. Anywhere we go we'll definitely find pizza with the local flavor of its own.

When I have learned that Joey, of 80 Breakfasts is hosting the 17th edition of HHDD (Hay Hay its Donna Day) with pizza as a theme; I was really excited to join. Not only because I wanted to show my own "pizzanality" but simply because I was never familiar with Donna Hay. (I know where on earth did I come from :-) ) I have been hearing a lot good reviews about her, her foodstyling and her recipes. But never had really the opportunity to try. And now is the time I try it myself. A perfect day for Dhanggit to try Donna's Pizza.

Care for a bite?

Chicken Curried Mango and Mozzarella Pizza

Pizza Dough
(from Modern Classics I by Donna Hay page 186)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • Pinch sugar
  • 2/3 cup (5 fl oz) warm water
  • 2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

- Place the yeast, sugar, and water in a bowl. Set aside until bubbles form. - Add the four, salt, and oil, and mix to form a smooth dough. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. - Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover, and allow to stand in a warm place until it has doubled in size Makes one quantity.

For Pizza Sauce
8 ripe tomatoes
salt, pepper
thyme and rosemary
2 tbsps of olive oil
1 clove of garlic

In a boiling water drop the tomatoes and take them off after 3 seconds. Wash the tomatoes in running water. This procedure will help you take off the skin. Quarter each tomatoes and take off the seeds. In an electric mixer, start by throwing in the thyme and rosemary, then add the garlic. Put all the tomatoes, the olive oil ,salt and pepper and mix well.

Pizza Toppings
Chicken flakes meat from Roasted Chicken
1 small shallots
1 tsp of curry powder
2 tbsps of olive oil
1 ripe mango
1 onion sliced
1 red pepper
1 ball of fresh Mozzarella

Sauté first the chicken flakes in olive oil with shallots for about 3 minutes. Then add the curry powder. Deglace the chicken with 1 tbsp of lemon juice, add a little bit of salt then turn of the fire. Spread over the pizza tomato sauce prepared over the pizza dough. Arrange the chicken flakes alternately with mango slices, onion, red pepper and mozzarella cheese. Drizzle it with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes at 200° Celsius.

Sleeping Beauty... with rosemary's aroma

Before their unfortunate trip to the inferno...:-)

Tardy Weird Meme & My Weird Click Photo Entry

Well this is quite a tardy post on the "Weird Meme" that Happy Cook tagged me. I would rather say that these are more of 7 "weird" trivial facts about me. Have fun reading this and enjoy my photo entry too for this Click's monthly photo challenge on Liquid Comfort.

Feeling Picasso: Cobweb of chocolate sauce and honey
my liquid comfort

1. The day I was born in the hospital, when the nurses asked what name they chose for me: my dad replied that he wanted to name me after her favorite sexy star (sorry I don't wanna tell); saved by my mom who insisted that I be named after the movie of their favorite actress Rita Hayworth instead. They agreed to drop the "G" and instead use "H" thinking it was much unique at that time. Whew!

2. My husband and I have one big peculiarity; he is twelve inches taller than I am. We are truly a "Mutt and Jeff" couple, after all, all is fair in love. In case you are wondrin, I am five-footer :-)

3. I'm acrophobic, I have extreme fear of heights that extremely manifest when I'm boarded a plane. Not a shot of vodka nor a good movie could wipe away my fears. So for someone who majored in Tourism (I even have MA in Management of Tourism), who loves travelling and travels at least once a year overcoming this phobia is always a big problem. Any suggestions?

4. Long before I started blogging, I was a designer of fairtrade fashion clothes. I put up a cooperative of dressmakers in a poor neighborhood of Philippines while products were marketed here in Europe. Fashion shows, exhibits, autumn-winter collections, spring-summer collections were my kind of thing. But when I got pregnant I realised I'm not tailored for this kind of fast-phased profession. Anyways, we're never to old to start anew.

5. People say I have a very good voice. I always doubted it until one day when I was spotted singing at a lobby of a 5-star hotel (my friend's dad plays piano regularly there). I was offered to be a lead singer of a band. I refused it. Sometimes I wonder what could have been had I not. In case you are wondrin, I have a very husky voice :-) (a cross breed between toni braxton & lauryn hill :-) he he he

6. I sing while I cook. Its obvious these are my two passions after showering with kisses my daughter :-)

7. I'm sometimes dyslexique, I love zombie movies and I read my cookbooks when I am sad.

Hope you liked it. I'm not tagging anybody but if you want to do this meme serve yourself :-)

Ile Flottante: Back into blogging with a sweet floating island

Back in the kitchen with a sweet note: floating island (ile flottante)

Ile Flottante: soft meringué floating in crème anglaise & chocolate syrup drizzled with caramel

We never realise how much we truly love someone until we lose them or almost. Not everyone else is lucky too to have a second chance. After almost 3 weeks of hospitalisation, weeks of prayers and uncertainties, my dad is finally out of danger. He is still recovering but his positively reacting to medications. To everyone, thank you so much for all your kind words and prayers. They meant so much to me specially during those trying times. Now that everything is normal again. I'm finally back in my kitchen.

Well here's a simple and yet really classical french desserts that is one of my favorite: Ile flottante or floating island

Ile Flottante
For the crème anglaise :

1 liter of milk, 1 vanilla pod, 6 egg yolks, 150 g of sugar

For the soft meringué :
6 egg whites, a pinch of salt, 80 grams of sugar

Start by preparing the crème anglaise. In a casserole infuse the vanilla pod and its seeds (cut lengthwise) over low fire until the first bubble appears. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it becomes creamy. Add little by little the milk as you continue to mix it. Once this process is done, put back in the casserole this mixture and cook until it thickens over low fire. Mix it continuously to avoid that the yolks from hardening. Once the cream covers wooden spatula turn off the fire and put the mixture in the fridge. In a salad bowl, beat the egg whites until it becomes stiff. Add little by little the sugar as you continue to beat them. Scoop out two to three spoons of this mixture in your ramekin and cook for about 3 seconds in microwave. Immediately put them in a paper towel to dry them up. Keep them in the fridge. To serve this dessert you can use a wide mouth glasses or deep dessert plates. Put about 8 spoons of cream anglaise. Then add the soft meringue and cover this with hot caramel and chocolate syrup.

Sweet & Salty love affair: Millefeuille of Mekong

Millefeuille of Mekong: Pan seared Scallops served over
layers of crispy rice wrapper and mango tartar salad
with tamarind vinaigrette

When my doctor announced to us the good news of my "pregnancy" (same time a year ago) I knew that there would be clashes of ideas between me and my hubby. For he is a man of science (there is always an explanation to everything) contrary to me that that has strong attachments to "wisdoms" of elder generation. Superstitions related to pregnancy are limitless after all its natural for mothers to do anything they think will ensure the birth of a healthy child. I remember I often hear such funny comments from my aunties like, "avoid looking at ugly people or it will make your baby ugly" or "not to eat chocolate if you do not want your baby to have a dark skin" . Well I'm sure you have heard a lot too. There is a widespread superstition on pregnancy in Philippines called "Paglilihi", a term that describes pregnant mom's strong desire to eat a certain food and that fathers should at all cost make it possible to ensure the birth of their dream child. Well, as my pregnancy progress I noticed that I had that very strong envies to eat "asian food", specially filipino food. My husband told me its normal (of course:-)) because i'm longing for my country that I have not visited for quite some time and it was absolutely nothing to do with my pregnancy. Anyway to cut the story short, I won. He gave in (maybe because he just does not want me to have early contractions) to my "food tantrums". So when we went back from our "shopping spree" in the closest Asian grocery in our city, this is how our living room looked like this.

Our tatami laden with Asian goodies.

We bought tons of noodles, asian condiments, asian vegetables and other hard to find ingredients like: tocino mix (sweet ham like curing powder), guava soupe mix (I love this), shrimp paste, tamarind paste, well the list is really endless. With all this, we concocted this sweet and salty entrée of pan seared Scallops served in layers of crispy fried crispy rice wrappers and mango tartar with tamarind and pomegrate sauce. My husband had the idea of the rice wrappers millefeuille but the stuffing is definitely mine! Hubby called this recipe the Millefeuille of Mekong.

Mango Tartar Salad
1 ripe mango, the seeds of half of a pomegranate, 2 tsps of lime juice, salt, pepper,2 tbsp of olive oil

In a bowl mix the lime juice with salt and pepper. Peel the mango, remove the seed and cut into small cubes. Put the mango and the pomegrate seeds in the bowl with the sauce and add up the olive oil. Put them in the fridge

Crispy Rice Wrappers
6 sheet of dried rice wrapper, 1 egg, 1 tsp of black sesame seeds, 1tsp of white sesame seeds, oil for frying

Dredge in the egg the rice wrapper then sprinkle it with black and white sesame seeds. Fry them one by one in a very hot casserole with oil. Cook each wrapper for about 3 seconds. Dry them in paper towel.
Tamarind and Pomegrenate Vinaigrette
1 tsp of tamarind paste, 3 tbsps of olive oil, 1 tsp of Nuoc Nam, 1 tsp of honey, 2 tbsps of pomegrenate seeds

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, set aside.

Pan seared Scallops
12 scallops, 10 g of butter, salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan , when it becomes hot add the scallops and fry each side for about 30 seconds. Put salt and pepper on the top
Assembling the Millefeuille
Start first with a layer of crispy rice wrapper followed with the mango tartar. You can alternate the layer with the mango tartar and a layer of beans sprout and baby spinach salad. Garnish the top layer with the scallops. Drizzle on the top the tamarind vinaigrette. Bon appetit!!

Ps. Hello blogging friends, you might have noticed that I've been blogging very slowly these past few days and I have been bloging about my old recipes. My family is actually confronting a big problem (my dad is not doing very well). I still try to continue to blog because this makes my mind occupied. :-(

Oven dried Tomatoes: Ode to summer's green revolution and tomato invasion

Dried Tomatoes à la Provençal

People often say that I have a "green thumb". I was never really serious in planting but I had quite some successes with them in the past; As a kid I remember succeeded in growing vegetables from what my mom used to throw away when she prepares some vegetable dishes; from ampalaya seeds (bittermelon), squash seeds to kangkong stalks (water spinach) without really putting much effort. Our balcony in Tokyo, had a flowering geranium and stargazers all year-round, much to my husband's surprise. I dont really have a secret I just plant them and wait that they grow.

But when I met my dad-in-law everything changed. When he pulls out his toga costume and puts down his judge's mallet he metamorphosizes into a certified gardener. Adieu with my "anything goes planting techniques and attitudes". "I can't plant this with this soil, or better check a shady area to grow this or I need to nip some leaves if I want them to bear fruit; those were his normal "unsolicited" comments. Don't get me wrong he is really nice and helpful and I truly admire him. And besides he is a judge, what can we expect. :-) Well every summer in the garden of my in-laws we are given a small spot to cultivate any green of our choice. And last summer we decided to plant italian tomatoes. That summer I gave birth andI never had the chance to blog about this.

When I heard about Andrea's monthly food blogging event Grow Your Own that celebrates food that we grow ourselves, I knew that this is my time to shine. Ooops, I mean my dad-in-law to shine :-) But what do you do when you have more than fifty kilos of tomatoes at hand? You eat them in salad every lunch. You cook some in your pasta sauces. Well the rest you throw them in the oven and make own home-made dried tomatoes.

Last batch of tomatoes harvested looked like this..
photo courtesy of my dad-in-law

Oven-dried Tomatoes à la Provençal
(Tomato confit à la Provençal)
1 kg of italian tomatoes
1 head of garlic
some fresh rosemary and thymes (Herbes de Provence)
salt and pepper
5 tbsp of Olive oil

Put the tomatoes in the boiling water for 8 seconds then take them off. Put them afterwards in a bowl of cold water. This process will help you peel off the tomato skin easily. Cut the tomatoes into two and remove the seeds. Season about half a tsp of salt and pepper over the cut tomatoes. Put them carefully (allow enough space in between) in baking dish. Drizzle it with olive oil and fresh thymes and rosemary. Add the thinly sliced garlic. Cook slowly in a pre-heated oven at 100° for two hours and thirty minutes.
Keep them in a jar filled with olive oil in your fridge. You can use these dried tomatoes in all your pizzas, salad and pasta recipes.
A lyrical composition of spaghetti noodles tossed in the
delicious harmony of sliced kohlrabi, sweet pumpkin and dried tomatoes..
such a lovely note in the belly!!
For my dear french readers, you will find the french version on here:

Stir fry noodles: Noodle, noddle on the wok who's the fairest of them all?

Stir-fry Noodle

I have been absent for a while in the blogosphere world. I must admit that I tremendously miss all my favorite "food blog" I often hangout but Christmas and New Year holidays at our household are important occassions for our family to relax and do our "bonding". And that means no email and no blogging for the last 2 weeks. But nonetheless, Im back in the business.

I'm pretty sure that most people often spend the last day of the year writing or pondering about their "resolutions list". However, I grew up in the family that this day is reserved for undertaking all undone or half-done things. Believe it or not on the 31st day of December I spend the entire day cleaning the house and arranging my kitchen. And I was amazed to discover all the ingredients that have been sleeping for so long in my kitchen cabinet. Tons of spices, dried tomatoes, dried beans, different types of rice, canned goods, jams, some nori wrappers and lots and lots of noodles; all waiting for their turn to be used one day. And you guess it right, that night I cooked some stir fried noodles.

Some are thick, some are thin, some are soft, some are hard
Cook them anyway you want...

Stir-fry Noodles
1 package of noodle (any type)
2 tbsps of olive oil
2 tbsps of Sesame Oil
1 tbsp of Oyster Sauce
2 tbsps of Soy Sauce
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of lime juice
half a cup of shrimps
one cup of diced vegetables (broccolli, carrots, haricot verts, etc)
1 onion chopped

In a wok start by stif frying the vegetables and onion in olive oil. After few minutes add the shrimps and continue stirring. Throw in sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Mix well. Add the pre-cooked noodle and continue stirring. Before serving put the lime juice.

No one escapes the power of my chopsticks!

For my french readers, the french version of this noodle recipe is here :