Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beef Chili

Even though it's hot and sticky, nothing can stop me from indulging in a hearty bowl of chili. The tender kernels of beef and kidney beans evolve into velvety goodness in your mouth are impossibly irresistible!

This recipe is a variation of my mother's. It's almost exactly the same apart from the addition of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It adds a much welcome layer of umph and heat to an otherwise flawless recipe! I like it with a big dollop of full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream to cut the through the spice:) 

1-2 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. This has a lot of heat so go with less if necessary
1 medium onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
2 cans peeled whole tomatoes
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leafs
pinch of sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a large ovenproof pan add olive oil and sweat the onions on med-low heat until soft and translucent. Add the  garlic cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chipotle peppers and beef. Sprinkle the  chili powder, cumin, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and a good pinch of salt on the beef and cook on medium high heat until nicely brown (about 10 minutes). Add the beans and mix well. Add the tomatoes and all their liquid by gently squeezing them into pieces and then combining it with the beef. Bring to  a boil, add a pinch of sugar and bay leafs. Stir. Put in the oven for 2 hours. Taste before serving.. if it's too sour add sugar, if it's bland add salt, if it needs more heat add some of the chipotle in adobo sauce..

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mom's Peach Pie


This dessert is a childhood favourite and is bold enough to stand up to any other pie. For me, it's the best pie I've ever had. I remember checking on peaches mom would buy from the market every couple hours to see if they've ripened to a point she approved of. Once they did she'd clear the kitchen counter and begin making my very favourite dessert in the whole wide world! It was such a treat because my mom rarely baked so we probably had this once or twice a summer at most! The only annoying thing about this is that you must eat it cold so I had to wait several hours from start to finish.

My mom always reduces the sugar of any recipe which makes this taste so perfectly balanced. You have a very rustic pie crust that's slightly softened by the peaches that have been laced with cinnamon sugar followed by the perfectly tart sour cream custard.

This is to die for! I made it for my husband for the first time and his eyes grew bigger while he exclaimed "this is the best dessert I've ever had...think I like it more than apple pie". That's a massive claim, but i'm happy he agrees. This is the perfect summer treat!


2 cups sifted AP flour
3/4 cup granulated  sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cubed butter
6 small peaches, peeled halfed, pitted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream


Preheat oven to 400.

In a bowl, combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and baking powder.
Using fingertips, incorporate butter until mixture clumps together when pressed.
Press firmly into botton of greased 8 inch spring form pan and about 1.5 inches up the sides. Place in the fridge while you prepare peaches.

The peaches should be soft enough to peel and pit. If they need some help you can blanch them and peel them. 

Arrange peach halfs in one layer over pasty.
Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over peaches and
bake  for 15 min. whisk egg and sour cream, pour over peaches and
bake 20-30 minutes longer until peaches are tender and custard is lightly cooled.
Once it cools, plastic wrap it and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until chilled.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Indian Style Omelette


I'm not a big omelette fan..not until I had a proper Indian omelette. It's delicious. There's thick slices of onion you can bite into, hot green peppers and perfect little cumin seeds that collapse with each bite- releasing even more depth of flavour. The beaten eggs are fluffy and seasoned with a whole crew of Indian spices. It's a very nice way to start your day and eats like a meal whether it's breakfast lunch or dinner. You can beef it up with par-boiled cubed potatoes too!

5 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 tablespoon thickly sliced jalapeno (or less if you're sensitive to heat)
1/2 a medium onion cut into thick slices (about 1/3 inch)
1/2 tablespoon roughly chopped coriander for garnish
salt and pepper to taste


Beat the eggs so they're big and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

Add the spices and whisk another minute longer. In a nonstick pan put enough olive oil or butter to LIGHTLY coat the bottom. Add the onion and cook for about 1 minute. Add the pepper and cumin seeds and cook another minute or so longer. You don't want the onion too soft- it should have some give and texture. Spread the ingredients evenly around the pan add pour the egg over it. Let it cook on low heat. Cover the eggs with a lid that's slightly ajar for 3-5 minutes (this will help cook the top). Flip over and cook another minute more. Garnish with coriander.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Berry Delicious Jam;)

A sign of summer in NYC are the street vendors selling the same fruit as supermarkets for a fraction of the price. I'm overjoyed seeing that a pint of blueberries costs close to $5 at whole foods! My hands stock up in sheer excitement, only to realise half way home, that I have enough berries to feed a small village..

Problem averted- I make jam. My homemade jam recipe is simple and tailored to your tastes. I love the bright taste of softly cooked strawberries generously spread on buttered toast. It makes me long for breakfast all day long.

  I love making homemade preserves because I have complete control over the sugar content. This is a very loose recipe as you will be in charge of how much or little sugar you need. Also, the amount of sugar you use depends on the tartness of your fruits and since that's unpredictable this recipe is subject to revision each time. Basically, it's a simple guideline on how to make homemade preserves for the enjoyment of you and yours! I recommend canning them in sterilized jam jars, this way they can last weeks if you use a clean knife each time:)

2 pint strawberries, hulled and halved (leave the smaller ones whole)
1 pint blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Put both berries and lemon juice in a nonstick (if possible) saucepan . Bring to a simmer, stirring occassionally. When it's reduced by half, add half the sugar. Let it dissolve and cook down for 2 minutes more. Taste it. Is it too tart? If so add the rest of the sugar and repeat. Taste it again. Is it just right? Too tart? Too sweet? If it's too sweet, pray you have some extra berries you can throw in, but I doubt this will be the case since it's only 1/4 cup of sugar. You'll probably end up adding more sugar! You will know the jam is ready when a lot of the liquid has reduced. A good trick is spooning some jam on a cold plate and running your finger down the middle, if it doesn't come spilling back it's ready to eat!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Have you ever had a scone plucked fresh from the oven? The kind that you're so anxious to eat that it warms your face with the sweet aroma of sugar and cinnamon? If you haven't, there's no reason why you shouldn't or can't!

This recipe is insanely easy and simple. You'll have scones in 20 minutes- only 5 of which is prep work, the rest of it lies in your oven. I like my scone slightly browned on the top, it's a personal preference so please don't be put off with the pic, you can have it as pale or golden as you please!

* This recipe lends itself to additions. Add raisins, dried cherries or cranberries for an extra bite!

3 cups AP flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar (I don't like things overly sweet, so I've cut the sugar. It really isn't noticeable once you add jam!)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon demerera sugar
1/2 cup COLD butter cut in cubes
egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Combine the egg and milk.
Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with your hands. You want it to be well incorporated. It should look like coarse bread crumbs and come together when pinched. Be sure not to overwork it. Add the egg and milk mixture with a large spoon until just moistened. It should not be too wet or mushy to the touch at all. Once it JUST comes together, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until it forms a ball, don't overwork the dough or it won't be light and airy.

Roll out with a rolling pin until it's 1/2 inch thick and cut out scones. Place on baking tray, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with demerera. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Easy Asian Salmon

My sister told me she made an awesome Asian inspired salmon for dinner the other night. She described how she ladled the thickened sauce on its slightly charred exterior and how it was the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour. I couldn't get it out of my mind so I just had to make it!

This dish is so incredibly simple. Just put the ingredients together and presto- your job is done! The oven does the rest of the work for you! You can marinade the fish in the morning before you go to the office and pop it in the oven as soon as you get home..dinner will be delicious and ready in minutes!

four salmon fillets or one large cut (preferably with the skin on)
1 tablespoon grated garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
1.5 tablespoons filipino vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon chili paste 

Mix all the ingredients together. Taste it..would you like it more salty, more sweet, more sour? Add more of whatever you feel it needs! Marinade for at least one hour. 

Place fish in a 350 degrees oven until it's almost cooked (internal temperature of 120) put the broiler on high and broil until it's slightly charred. Serve with rice!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sauteed Kale

This is one of my mom's go to dishes. She often serves it with lightly fried fish which I plan on doing tonight. My mom is an excellent cook, she claims she's not fond of cooking and does it more because she has to than out of a deep passion. Bizarrely, for someone who lacks passion for cooking, she is always exploring and comes up with little twists and turns making each dish especially delicious.

I love her sauteed kale. It's clean, perfectly cooked and loaded with garlic! The thing that I always keep in mind when sauteing any leafy green is that it is delicate and can be consumed raw. Given this, I should cook it just until it's cooked through. It's terrible when spinach and collard greens are cooked to a pulp. You still want there to be some texture and give to the vegetable otherwise it tastes like mush.

1 package kale (any variety)
1 generous tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic roughly chopped (you can use less, I really love garlic)
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Remove the stalk from the kale and rinse well. In a medium to large saute pan heat the olive and add garlic. Cook on med-low heat until it softens..if there's not enough oil add a bit more, you don't want to burn them! Add the chili flakes and cook a minute more.

Add the leaves a bunch at a time. Don't be alarmed if they pile up as they wilt very quickly! Cook down until everything has just about wilted. You really don't want to overcook them. They should still have texture and bite. Finish with a good pinch of salt and a little pinch of pepper.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Linguini Pomodoro

When we immigrated from the Philippines my mother found a lovely apartment in a very Italian neighbourhood. An entire family tree inhabited the entire apartment building beside us. I remember being summoned by my friends during tomato season, their Nonno paid all of us for helping clean and separate the tomatoes and I watched in awe and wonder as rows of tomatoes were put in and spat out of what looked like a very outdated machine. It was such a production, from the cleaning, separating and canning. However, the final product was something so lovely, so simply delicious that lasted all year long.

Touched by this ritual, every summer I go to the farmers market and buy bushels of tomatoes. This is a difficult task to manage as our farmers market is plonked in the ever busy union square and the only means of viable transportation I have is a cab. Seeing that this is just stage one of a multi-stage process, I'm sure you can see that this really is a work of love.

Tonight was a very bittersweet moment as I just consumed my last jar. The amazing thing about this sauce is that it takes so little to taste so good. You probably know by now that I'm a garlic fiend. You can use much less when you make yours! If you're feeling lazy or want a really simple pasta, just saute garlic and chili's in olive oil, add the sauce, toss in a good pinch of salt and 1/4 cup pasta water. Let it reduce a bit. Add your pasta so it's well incorporated and presto- an incredible meal.

I will make my tomatoes in late July/early August and will have the entire process articled for you:)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Okra and Eggplant Salad

The okra salad I had at Ottolenghi really inspired me so I decided to recreate it today. Okra is one of those things that falls into two camps- love it or hate it. Some people find its slime-like properties too off putting while others, like myself, love that it's simultaneously soft and crunchy. Its outer-skin succumbs to the heat and creates a silky smooth parcel, giving way to a plethora of seeds which add crunch and a much welcome texture.

Similar to okra, eggplant also softens a tremendous amount when cooked and is more of a flavour vehicle rather than a flavourful ingredient. That's why they both pair so well with a heavy sauce, both the okra and eggplant carry the thick tomato sauce, feta and bell peppers so well.

I wanted to make this more substantial so I added some cooked bulgur wheat to the mix. It added depth and another dimension of texture which complemented the dish very much!

1/2 pound okra, tops trimmed
1 small Italian eggplant cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
5 roma tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 oz feta cheese
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for finishing)
1/2 cup bulgur wheat

Preheat oven to 425.

In a saucepan, saute onions and coriander seeds in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and bell peppers and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until they release their liquids and make a sauce. Add 1/4 cup water and tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium high and let it thicken. Add a good pinch of salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Simmer the heat on low and add a little water if it thickens too much.

In the meantime, place the okra and eggplant in a lined baking tray. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well and add in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes or until soft. Broil on high until they get more colour and the eggplant chars on its sides.

Place 1/2 cup bulgur wheat in 3/4 cup boiling water. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes until soft. Drain excess water and reserve.

Mix all the ingredients together. Top with feta,  fresh mint, parsley and a good drizzle of top quality extra virgin!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Afternoon Tea

Shailee and I concluded our week of eating with something quintessentially English- afternoon tea. It was a perfect day! We strolled the impeccable gardens of Kensington Palace and walked over to the orangery when our appetites beckoned.

The Orangery is so gorgeous- it's white and airy with Cathedral style ceilings. Sun pours in from the floor to ceiling windows- making a rather sparse and large room feel warm and intimate. I loved that there was no pretension as well. The staff was extremely friendly and knew their teas well! All the tables are spaced out comfortably allowing you to sit back, enjoy your conversation and tea as if in your own little world.

The finger sandwiches were perfection but I couldn't get to the desserts because I finished what was the biggest scone I've ever seen. Also, I've never had a scone like this before! Apparently it's a "proper English scone". It was amazing- not too sweet or dense or fluffy. The scone was just right! Oh and the clotted cream and fresh preserves... Come on! My idea of heaven!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Borough Market

I’ve had such a piggy day! Shailee and I went to Borough Market and didn’t know where to start. We fuelled up with a visit to the Monmouth Coffee Company where I sipped on the best cappuccino I’ve ever had. Then we browsed, ate, browsed, sampled, ate some more and so it went on in this fashion until my taste buds were overworked and desensitized… I knew it was time to quit when I couldn’t fully enjoy white truffle honey!

I was really impressed with the pride each person took in the stall they either owned or worked for. Everyone was selling their product not because they had to but because they believed it was the best out there. I swear I don’t recall walking by one empty stall. Everywhere I looked there will people selling and people eating. I’ve never longed to cook as much as I have today. You can get your hands on ingredients that you’d probably have to drive to several specialty shops to find and that’s IF you’re lucky! Borough Market is really such a treat and a source of massive inspiration. Can’t wait to get back to New York and start cooking!