Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do You Have an Emergency Plan? If Not, Make One Today.

This is not a food-related entry, but since it's important, I'd like to share this with you.

My mom recently had a stroke.

An event like this puts in sharp relief that which I know I have taken for granted: healthy, productive parents who don't seem to age and who can manage their own affairs. Family relationships that I don't pursue on a regular basis because I assume they will always be there. Things I choose not to know because I'm a kid and my parents are the parents.

With my mom's stroke, this bubble has burst. Life is ephemeral. Health is fleeting. Relationships are transitory.

And I'm not just talking about my parents. I'm talking about myself too. Death and disability are equal opportunity employers.

Philosophizing aside, there are some very real impacts to living a life that is decades old, no matter how ephemeral it is. Wordly entanglements abound -- bills to be paid, vital family records to be located, arrangements (funeral, disability, assisted living, hospice) to be made, wishes to be known, business information to be disclosed, wills to be executed.

We owe it to our loved ones to help them help us when the time comes.

Make an emergency list and tell your loved ones where everything is.

Parents, there is no need to feel you have to tell all your financial secrets, but you should tell your children the basics so they know where to look in case of emergency. Better yet, tell several people, so you're covered in case things gets lost. And perhaps keep a separate file cabinet that has all the vital records in one place, so loved ones don't have to sift through files and files, all seemingly of the same importance.

And if you're the main record keeper/bill payer, tell your spouse where everything is and how bills are paid. There are plenty of cases where the unknowing spouse has lost his or her home or insurance has lapsed because he/she didn't know that there was a mortgage or a premium to be paid.

I've put together this list for my parents, which I want to share with you in case it's helpful. I also made a similar list for my affairs which I gave and will give again to three of my relatives.

Also, get a durable power of attorney and perhaps put a child or trusted relative on your bank account, so they can write checks for you without a hassle.

- Attorney(s) (attorney should keep copies of will, trusts, living will, etc.)
- Accountant(s)
- Doctors
- Insurance agent(s)





LIVING TRUST (if applicable)

DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY (Health care proxy and financial matters proxy)

INSURANCE POLICIES (health, life, auto, homeowner, disability)






FAMILY RECORDS (Birth, Marriage, Death, Immigration, Passports, Social Security Cards)






If you own a business or businesses, you should also put together a similar list for that part of your life.

By the way, my mom is virtually fully recovered. She is lucky. We are lucky. We still have the chance to ask her the above, so we can be of help when the time comes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Bakers July 2009 Challenge: Mallows and Milano Cookies

The non-baker bakes again!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

For the recipes, please click here.

In this challenge, my daughter Christina and I learned the following:

1) How to cook a sugar syrup to the softball stage or 235 degrees. We used a candy thermometer to keep us on track, but if you don't have a thermometer, you simmer the solution for about four minutes, and to test it, you take it off the heat and if the bubbles hold their shape and when you drop a small spoonful of the syrup in cold water, it becomes becomes a soft, gelatinous mass, then it's at the softball stage. Also, make sure to use a silicone spatula or something that will not melt at high temperatures.

2)How to beat egg whites to soft peaks. We used a Kitchenaid mixer, and I watched a video, which I now can't locate, to show me the way. I liked this video, because the author showed what all three stages looked like (soft, medium, stiff).

3) How to make marshmallows. Marshmallow making is easy if you get the egg whites beaten to a soft peak and you get the sugar to the softball stage. A couple tips: once you add the hot sugar syrup to the beaten egg whites (in a stainless steel, non-meltable/crackable bowl), keep whipping until the bowl is cool. Also, if you swirl a spoon through the mixture and it holds its shape, the marshmallows are ready to be shaped.

4) How to use a piping bag and pipe the marshmallows onto the cookies as soon as possible. I have used a piping bag before so this wasn't really a new skill. I put the bag in a drinking glass, which makes it easy to fill the bag. With the mallow recipe, you want to have your cookies made already and pipe the marshmallows on top of the cookies as soon as the marshmallow mixture is ready. If you wait too long, the marshmallows will set and you won't be able to pipe them. Use a disposable bag too for easy clean up.

5) How to temper chocolate. Well, we almost learned this skill. We did try to temper the chocolate which was used for the chocolate glaze but failed. Once the chocolate hardened, there was a full bloom on the chocolate.

Bloom aside, the cookies were delicious!

The other challenge cookie was Milano cookies. These were much easier and faster to make than the Mallows and much more popular. They were inhaled by my family!

The skills we learned here were:

1) How to pipe a thin batter. I don't know if I much got the hang of this since my cookies sizes weren't consistently the same size and shape, but I certainly got practice.

2) How to make a chocolate ganache. In the recipe you pour hot cream over the chocolate to melt it. Even I couldn't mess this one up.

I must say after a few more of these challenges, I might not be able to call myself a non-baker. One of the most important things I've learned in baking is to be disciplined about measuring everything before I start baking. I definitely don't cook this way, because I cook on the fly, but it works for baking.

So for all my fellow non-bakers, there may be hope for you! Come join Daring Bakersand you'll see.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Asian Pork Patties

Last night, I was making some sample meatballs for an appetizer I was thinking about, orange-soy glazed cocktail meatballs. I mixed together some ground pork with shredded zucchini (my friend Kate gave me one from her garden), panko bread crumbs, minced scallion and garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little orange juice. Out of the pork, I made three mini-meatballs coated with sesame seeds and three without, and I made a glaze out of soy sauce, orange juice concentrate, chicken broth, and aromatics.

The verdict? My husband liked the sesame-coated balls, and I liked the plain. I wasn't quite satisfied with the results and decided to continue the experiment another day. I threw the remaining pork mixture in the fridge.

When I came home tonight, I ferreted around the fridge for possible dinner and there was the leftover meatball mixture.

I sauted some carrots, which I minced out of shredded carrots, and I added the soft, cooled carrots to the pork mixture, formed them into patties and cooked them with hoisin sauce. Since I had some hashbrown potatoes in the fridge for another appetizer experiment (hashbrown baskets with chorizo and manchego cheese), I made some hashbrowns to go with the patties.

They were delicious! I think I now have a good meatball base for my appetizer -- somehow, I think ground pork needs the sweetness of carrots -- and these patties stand on their own as a great meal. The meat base is almost like a lumpia filling without the wrapper.

A word on hoisin sauce. There are a lot of inferior products parading as hoisin sauce in American grocery stores, so read the labels. If one of the top ingredients is high fructose corn syrup, I would recommend not buying it. I like Koon Chun Hoisin Sauce the best.

For some wonderful Vietnamese pork patty recipes, check out Ravenous Couple, which is an excellent blog. One of my favorites.

Asian Pork Patties
2 pounds ground pork or chicken
1 large carrot, minced (if you're using the shredded carrots, half a bag is probably fine; mince the shreds into small pieces)
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (optional)
3 large scallions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh ginger, grated with a Microplane to taste
1 tsp. Salt
Onion powder
2 tbs. soy sauce (or fish sauce)
Sesame oil

Hoisin sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix ingredients together. Form into patties. Brush with hoisin sauce.

Heat skillet over medium heat until hot. Cook patties on each side until browned and place on baking sheet. Put in oven for 20 minutes or until the center is not pink and the patty is cooked through.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Seasaltwithfood's Stuffed Red Peppers

I never liked stuffed peppers. I can't really remember why.

But one look at Seasaltwithfood's entry on stuffed red peppers made me want to give the little fellows another chance.

Am I glad I did! The roasted red pepper was sweet and tender, and its ground meat filling which was simmered with tomatoes, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes was flavorful and satisfying.

Since I cut out gluten this week, this delicious gluten-free recipe hit the spot. I didn't miss bread or pasta at all.

Finally, this technique is so versatile! You could stuff the pepper with anything ... meat, veggies, rice, beans, lentils, and any flavors (Italian, Greek, etc.). What a great way to use up leftovers.

By the way, Seasaltwithfood's pictures are much more appetizing than mine. I was talking on the phone when I was cooking, plating, and photographing the stuffed peppers. You can see how well that went!

Stuffed Bell Peppers
from Seasaltwithfood

10 Medium Bell Peppers
220 g Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Beef Mixture
400 g Ground Beef
8 Sun-dried Tomatoes in oil, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 Large Yellow Onion, finely chopped
2 tsp Dried Parsley
1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, torn
1 Can (28 Fl oz) Whole Tomato, crushed and drained
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp Chili Flakes
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Sea salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Prepare the beef mixtures: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and sauté until translucent, for about 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef and cook until the meat is no longer pink in color. Then add the sun-dried tomato, chili flakes, parsley, and give it a quick stir. Mix in the can tomatoes, tomato paste, and basil leaves and cook for another 10 minutes. Season the beef mixtures with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 205˚C/400˚F.

Clean the peppers, sliced the top off (reserved), discard the cores and dry with paper towels.

Brush the peppers with olive oil on the outsides. Fill the beef mixture in to the peppers and top with the cheeses. Lightly oil a baking tray, place peppers and the reserved top besides them.

Roast for about 25 minutes or until the cheese have melted and light brown in color. Remove from the oven. Let it cool slightly before serving.

Leftover Maven: Puerto Rican-spiced Chicken and Rice Casserole

Since my sister's husband is a pastor and they founded their own church, my sister and her family are surrounded by a wonderful and caring group of people. The church members have really helped my sister during her recovery, bringing food for dinner every day.

Josie, a warm and friendly woman who is in charge of hospitality at the church, dropped off a vat of Puerto Rican rice and pigeon peas, and Puerto Rican chicken fricassee.

I took some of the leftover chicken and rice, and along with leftover chicken broth, corn, salsa, scallions, and grated cheese in the fridge, made a chicken and rice casserole. The casserole was bound together by a hybrid bechamel-veloute sauce, which was made from milk and chicken broth and thickened with a roux.

It was terrific, creamy from the sauce, a little crunchy from the broiled cheese topping, and a little spicy from the well-seasoned rice and chicken.

This recipe from was my inspiration. The technique (leftover meat, rice, and veggies, brought together with a sauce, baked) can be used with any leftover meat and rice, and can take on different flavors, from Mexican, Puerto Rican, to Hungarian paprikash, to even Indian curry. You get the idea.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award - Thank you Zurin

Imagine my surprise when I found a Kreativ Blogger Award in my mailbox from Zurin of the Cherryonacake blog. Zurin gave me this award for my "beautiful blog and ... amazing creativity with food powders on [my] latest post Daring Cooks July 2009 Challenge." Thank you, Zurin!

This award requires the following of its awardees:

1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on the blogs you have nominated to let them know they have been nominated.

Seven fun facts about me:

1. I'm an all or nothing person. I can work tirelessly at work or on this blog, but my closet is a sight to behold and mail piles up around my house like snowdrifts, because I hate opening mail.

2. I love my job as a fundraiser. Nothing is better than being able to help an organization secure the resources it needs to fulfill its mission and being with donors who dream beyond their own welfare and make big things happen for the benefit of others.

3. I love to hang around vibrant, positive, big-hearted, opinionated, funny people. I named my blog "Big, Bold, and Beautiful" because it reminded me of my friends Patti and Coleen. When I'm with them and my other friends and family, I'm on Cloud 9 as I know how lucky I am.

4. If you need something done, I'm your woman. I'm a "get it done" person and experienced problem solver, just like my friend Julia who has been a guest blogger here.

5. I am not a pet person, and never ever liked cats, but somehow Isabelle the Kitty has come into my life and stolen my heart. When my kids pulled a "please, please, please"on me and gave me the big soulful eyes from Puss in Boots in the Shrek movie, I gave in reluctantly but now I'm so glad we have this pouncing, playful, crazy kitty.

6. I am a social person. My kids are at their grandparents' house during the summer, and when my husband left on a week-long business trip to Asia, I was out every night with different friends, except one (and that was because I wanted to cook Malaysian chicken curry for the blog). I tell myself that it's good to be alone sometimes, but it's really not my thing.

7. I have been blessed with a loving (and very good-looking) husband, to whom I've been married 16 years at the end of this month and with for 24 years, and two nice, smart, and talented daughters who make my life a wonderful journey.

I award the Kreativ Blogger award to:

Marc of NoRecipes: Marc makes the most interesting meals, and his hip, cosmopolitan style in his food and photography shines through and through. His blog was one of the first I saw, and I am continually impressed with his imagination and technique.

Nana of LatabledeNana: When I go to her site, I feel like I am entering another world, a world of beauty, grace, and eternal dappled sunshine. While Marc's photos channel the city, Nana's are of the French countryside. I hear the birds and smell the aromas from my tea and pastry, when I'm on her site.

Kevin of Closet Cooking: I love Kevin's blog, as do the 1,000 plus people who are following it. He is always taking fresh ingredients and making them into different dishes in his Kevin-like way, which I imagine as very creative but efficient too. His trademark saying is "it's really tasty!"

Audax of Audax Artifax: Audax is the guardian angel of the Daring Cooks, always the first to post and show us the way. He also always takes time to comment on each of our challenge results in our blogs. Finally, he doesn't just do the challenge as posted -- he does three or four variations of the challenge. Amazing.

Carole of Hey Mom, What's for Dinner Tonight?: If I ever met Carole, I would give her a big hug. I suspect Carole is a big (in heart), bold, and beautiful person. Her food is creative, as is Carole as she is into all sorts of things, as you will see in her blog.

Cory of CulinaryCory: I really enjoy Cory's blog as he is always doing something different, and I like the variety of posts in his blog. His chocolate pancakes, which he just posted, are driving me crazy ... I guess I'll have to make them to try them!

Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen: Aggie is an awesome person and awesome cook, featuring healthy, flavorful food. She helped me, a complete stranger, get my blog up and running, and I am forever thankful!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Daring Cooks July 2009 Challenge: Skate, traditional flavors powdered (slightly altered)

This month's Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Sketchy of Sketchy's Kitchen.

This is a dish from Grant Achatz, found in the Alinea cookbook - page 230 and is an example from a branch of cooking called molecular gastronomy. Says Sketchy ... "I picked a recipe that could be completed without having to order a bunch of specialized chemicals or powders. Just a little work and you can make this, the techniques are not very hard and only require a few tools."

Hahaha. When I first read the recipe, my head spun around a few times. Wow, I wanted a challenge, but this recipe was *really* a challenge. I was on the fence, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, until I finally said to myself, "this is why you joined Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks, to stretch yourself."

For the recipe, which is featured on the Daring Kitchen site, click here. Even if you don't want to read the recipe, you should go look and see the rotating pics of everyone's dishes. It's fascinating how everyone starts with the same recipe but they all end up looking so different.

Once committed, I jumped in, dehydrated different foods, and ground them into powders to serve with lemon sole (a substitute for the skate). Since I didn't have a dehydrator, I used the microwave, cooking the foods on half power until they were dried and ready to be ground.

I made several powders:

Parsley-cilantro (green), red onion (pink), and lemon citrus (light brown on plate). On the fish (see picture below) is banana-cream (darker brown and made from banana chips and dried cream powder that was browned in the oven),

I made two designs out of the powders. On a round plate, this design below resembles a flower shape.

On a rectangular plate, this design below channels a wave pattern.

On both, the fish, poached in a beurre monte solution, tops green bean rounds and thick cut bananas. Yes, I said bananas. And you know what? The bananas were the highlight for me.

In the Daring Cooks forum, where everyone posts their results, many members were delighted with the medley of flavors on their palates, and many experimented with additional powders.

For me, the dish was good, but I didn't get the same thrill that others did.

That said, Sketchy picked a great challenge, and I learned to think out of the box about food.

Thanks, Sketchy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Award-winning Pineapple Custard Pie

My aunt-in-law Pat McLaughlin brings this pineapple custard pie every year to the annual July 4th get together at my parents-in-law's lakehouse. At first, I wasn't sure. Pineapple pie?

But one bite convinced me otherwise.

I asked my aunt if I could share the recipe on the blog, and she graciously agreed. She said credit goes to her nephew's wife, Joan Rauseo and her father, Louie Marion. Louie lived with Dick and Joan for a couple of years. Joan thought it would be a good experience for him to enter some of his favorite recipes at the L.A. County Fair. He won second place with his Raisin Pie and Joan won first place with this Pineapple Custard Pie.

Being a non-baker, this was the third pie I ever made in my whole life, and I had no problems. It's as easy as ... pie!

I don't know what's better -- eating it or smelling the enticing sweet tropical smell of pineapple and the homey goodness of pie crust as it bakes.

Please try it and enjoy.

Award-winning Pineapple Custard Pie

Pastry for 9-inch two crust pie, unbaked
3 eggs
2 tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup water, at room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted 1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Beat eggs lightly. Add water, lemon juice & butter; blend. Add sugar, flour & salt; beat until smooth. Mix in pineapple.\ 3. Pour mixture into unbaked bottom crust. Cover with a lattice top.
4. Bake in pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Filipino Arroz Caldo

Arroz caldo is Filipino rice porridge, or congee. Infused with the healing power and flavor of fresh ginger, arroz caldo restores the body and comforts the soul. For this reason, I made it for my sister who is recovering from major surgery.

Having a recipe for arroz caldo is like having a recipe for chicken soup - you won't need one once you know the basic steps. Its base is just chicken, water or broth, and rice (cooked or uncooked). The flavorings are ginger, scallions, and soy sauce or patis (you can also use garlic and saffron, but I don't). You can also add a squirt of lemon juice or calamansi, Asian sesame oil, hot sauce, and fried garlic as condiments.

When you make arroz caldo, it will start off soupy (as shown in the picture), but as it cooks and the rice absorbs more of the broth, it will become thicker and more like porridge. As long as the rice is tender, you can eat it at any stage that you like. If it's too thick for you, you can always add more chicken broth or water to loosen it up. You can also keep adding to this as you go. For example, if the pot is half gone and you know more people will want to eat it, just add more chicken, rice, and flavorings, and you can keep extending the soup.

Be sure to use a short- or medium-grained white rice and not Uncle Bens, North Carolina rice, or basmati rice. If you use an Asian rice (Japanese, Thai jasmine, Chinese, etc.), you're sure to have good results. These rices have more starch, which is what gives the arroz caldo its body. You can start off with uncooked rice, but I almost always used cooked rice, because I usually have some around.

To make the broth, I poach skinless, bone-in chicken breasts or thighs in chicken broth. Some brown the chicken and saute garlic and onions before adding the broth, but I don't because I like the clear flavor of unbrowned chicken in this case. The bones are important because they add flavor to the broth, and I like to use organic chicken broth instead of water for flavor. My dad uses water, but he will add a few chicken bouillon cubes to up the flavor, and he sautes the chicken with garlic and onion powder, but he doesn't have the heat so high as to brown the chicken. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken and chicken broth if you don't have time to poach and shred the chicken.

The amount of ginger and soy sauce or salt is up to you. Let your tastebuds guide you. I like to grate the ginger with a microplane into the pot, so I know right away how gingery it will be, but others put "coins" of ginger and let them steep in the soup instead (if you do this, remove the coins before serving).

Below, I will give my "Italian grandmother" instructions, which is more technique than exact recipe, but if you'd like to see another recipe, click here to see a nice recipe I found on Nibbledish.

Arroz Caldo
Serves 4

3 bone-in skinless chicken breasts or 4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs (or shredded rotisserie chicken if you're taking a shortcut)
2 containers Pacific organic chicken broth, a large can of chicken broth, water, or water with bouillon cubes
4 cups cooked rice or 2 cups uncooked short- or medium-grained rice
Ginger, peel enough to cut into 4-10 1/4 inch coins, depending on how much you like the taste of ginger; alternately you can grate in an amount to your liking
3 or 4 scallions, chopped finely, separating green and white parts
Soy sauce or patis
Fresh ground black pepper or white pepper

Table-side condiments (optional)
Soy sauce or patis
Lemon or calamansi wedges
Sesame oil
Hot sauce or togarashi ichimi (Japanese red pepper)
Finely chopped scallions
Fried garlic (either can be homemade or can be bought at the Asian store)

Put chicken in a dutch oven pot and cover with chicken broth. If you're using canned chicken broth or chicken broth in the cardboard containers, and you don't have enough broth to cover the chicken, just add water until the chicken is covered. If you're using water and chicken bouillon cubes, cover the chicken with water and throw in a few cubes. It doesn't have to be exact and you can always add more bouillon cubes later if you want more chicken flavor. If you're using water, then just cover with water.

Add grated ginger, white part of scallions, pepper, and a couple splashes of soy sauce to the chicken and broth and bring to a low simmer (do not boil) and let poach until chicken is cooked, about 20-30 minutes. Add uncooked or cooked rice now (or you can add it after you cook the chicken and shred it). If the porridge is getting too thick, just add more water.

To check if the chicken is done, you can take two forks and pull the meat apart -- if it comes away easily and you don't see any pink, then it's cooked. If you poach it longer than 30 minutes, it doesn't matter either. You can't overcook the chicken in this recipe.

Once the chicken is done, take it out and shred it with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back into the pot. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more soy sauce if it's bland, or adding more water if it's too salty.

When the rice is tender or when the soup has reached a consistency you like (soupy to very thick) and you're about ready to serve it, add 1/2 of the remaining green scallion and stir into the pot.

Serve the soup and let people top their own soup with the condiments of their choice (scallions, fried garlic, lemon or calamansi juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, fried garlic).

Leftover version with rotisserie chicken, chicken broth, and cooked rice:

For an even quicker meal, put some shredded rotisserie chicken, chicken broth, and cooked rice into a pot. Add ginger, soy sauce, and scallions. Simmer until the rice thickens the broth and it becomes like porridge. Serve with above condiments.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Roti Canai

I've always wanted to try to make Malaysian roti canai. My perfect opportunity came tonight when I made the Malaysian chicken curry from the blog Almost Bourdain. The blog also recommended a link on how to make roti chanai - - so I went there for the video instructions and recipe.

The roti was delicious -- thin, crispy, and tender just like the restaurant version. I was very proud of myself! Still, once I get a little practice under my belt, I'll be able to get the roti not just thin but paper thin.

Notes: As with any dough, the recipe is more a guideline, because flour will require more or less liquid than a recipe indicates depending upon the moisture in the air. When you make this recipe, add enough liquid to let the dough come together. Go slowly as you reach the end of the liquid as you may not need all of it; conversely, you may find you need more.

The recipe has rests of several hours for the dough. I only let the roti dough rest for 30 minutes before I broke it into balls, rubbed them with butter and then rolled them out. It worked out just fine.

By the way, you must see this entry on the Cherryonacake blog if you're interested in finding out how to make roti from an expert.

Roti Canai
from SBS Food (be sure to click on this link to see the instructional video)


3 cups plain flour
½ cup milk
¼ cup water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
Peanut oil

Place flour into a large bowl and gradually add milk and water, working the mixture with your hands. Add salt and sugar and keep kneading for 6 to 8 minutes until dough leaves the side of the bowl and is soft, smooth and elastic, like play dough. Set aside in a warm place for at least 2 hours or over night, covered with plastic wrap.

Simply pull off a bread roll-sized piece of dough, roll it and shape it into a ball in floured hands. Continue until you have 6 balls. Rub a little butter in the palms of your hands to melt it, then pick up each ball and rub it to seal it with butter. Replace on tray and let balls stand for 2 to 3 hours.

Tip a little oil onto a clean working surface and moisten your hands with it. Place a ball in the centre and flatten it with your hands, pressing and pushing constantly until it is a fine sheet, forming a rough rectangle about the size of a big plate.

Add a little oil and continue to flatten the dough, using an oiled rolling pin if you like. Don’t worry if it looks like a mess, it’s meant to. To get it really thin, pick up the flattened sheet and flop it back onto the bench 2 or 3 times. Repeat process with each ball. Now, fold each side in, to form a neater rectangle and then fold each corner in, to form an envelope shape.

Heat an oiled baking tray over a gas flame until hot, and fry each side until golden.

Remove quickly and crush roti in your hands, letting shreds fall onto serving plate. Serve hot. Each ball will make enough for 2 people.

Malaysian Chicken Curry

I was perusing dishes I marked as favorites on Foodgawker and came across this Malaysian Curry Chicken Recipe from the great blog, Almost Bourdain, whose author, Ellie, got it from another favorite blog of mine, Seasaltwithfood.

Ding! I knew what I was going to eat for dinner.

Over the years, I have had several friends who taught me how to make curry. I learned how to make Japanese beef curry from a neighbor when I lived in Urayasu, Japan. Mala Sertima, my colleague when I worked at Columbia University in New York City, taught me how to make Guyanese chicken curry. My BFF Coleen, a fellow fundraiser, showed me the ways of making Jamaican chicken curry.

I even had a chance to help a fellow blogger, Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen, when she had a craving for Thai curry. I gave her some general instructions, which she turned into a delicious Thai curry with spaghetti squash. I learned how to make Thai curry from Kim, who had lived in Thailand and with whom I worked at a Boys & Girls Club.

But I had never made Malaysian curry before, although I had enjoyed it immensely at a restaurant my Uncle Pros likes in Queens, New York.

The chicken curry was fantastic, particularly with the homemade roti canai I made to accompany the curry. You have to try it.

Below I include the curry chicken recipe from Almost Bourdain, which inspired me.

Notes: I did make a few changes to the recipe: I used bone-in chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts; I marinated the chicken with the chopped onions and curry powder for 30 minutes and I sauted both of them together instead of separately as the recipe indicates; I didn't use any chili powder, which is why the curry is not as red as it usually is; I didn't pre-cook the potatoes but cooked them in the broth until they were tender; I didn't use as much oil or water; and I didn't cook down the broth as much to make a dryer curry as I like having a little sauce. Although the recipe doesn't say to keep the bones after you cut up the chicken, you should keep the bones and cook them in the broth, as they will flavor your broth.

The two most important tips I've learned from my friends are to coat the meat in the curry powder and marinate the meat in the dry rub for at least 30 minutes or overnight, and to fry the spices in oil to release their flavors.

Malaysian Curry Chicken Recipe
from Almost Bourdain


2 Chicken Breast (about 650 to 700 g) Bone In, cut into smaller pieces
4 Medium Yellow Wax Potatoes
6 Large Eggs, boiled
60 g Chicken Curry Powder (about 4 tbs.)
10 g Chili Powder (please go easy here if you don't like it hot because this is about 1 tbs. of chili powder)
2 Sprigs Fresh Curry Leaves
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 Can (400 ml) Coconut Milk
1 1/2 Cup Water
5 Tbsp Of Peanut Oil
Salt To Taste


Cut the chicken into smaller pieces and marinate with 1 Tbsp of curry powder.
Marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Boil the eggs, cool and shelled.
Then boil the potatoes until they are cooked but still firm. Peel and quarter.
In a heavy pot, heat the oil and add the chopped yellow onion, together with the curry leaves.
Cook until the onions are lightly brown.
Add the curry and chili powder. Cook until they are fragrant.
Mix in the marinated chicken and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked.
Add the coconut milk with 1 1/2 cups of water.
Bring the curry sauce to a boil and then lower the heat and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes.
Then, add the eggs and potatoes and cook further, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Season the curry with sea salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Leftover Maven: Southwestern Pork Chili

Summer means weekends at my parents-in-law's lakehouse, and the kick-off is always July 4th weekend. We kids and grandkids, along with close friends Tony and Celeste spend the weekend, and the entire McLaughlin clan comes on Saturday for a BBQ and to celebrate my daughter Christina's birthday. We look forward to this weekend every year.

Everyone contributes something to the table. Tony and Celeste bring freshly made Italian sausage and sauteed onions and peppers, and brother- and sister-in-law Mike and Rachele come loaded with cold cuts for lunch. Uncle John bakes bread (vegetable harvest and a cranberry raisin bread this weekend), Aunt Ann composes a giant fruit salad, Aunt Pat makes her signature pineapple pie, and cousin Karen whips together extra-large chocolate chip cookies.

My mother-in-law Joyce also cooks up a storm, this year making a roasted pork loin with gravy on Thursday night and then for the BBQ, marinated chicken and beef kebabs, grilled potatoes, and steamed carrots and green beans.

So what about me? For Sunday lunch, I made a Southwestern chili out of the leftover pork loin, carrots, green beans, and sauteed onions and peppers. To them, I added some leftover mild salsa, fresh diced tomatoes, a little chicken broth, and a whole bottle of Dos Equis amber beer. For spices, I threw in some chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper. To give it that Southwestern flair, I finished off the stew with black beans, corn, and cilantro.

Hannah, my 11-year old niece, said she really liked how the chili was a little spicy but a little sweet from the vegetables. I loved that the chili was a little tangy from the salsa.

For another tasty Southwestern pork stew recipe, please check out this link to Barbara Bakes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 50th Anniversary to My Parents

On June 27, my parents, Drs. Romeo and Nelly, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in St. Augustine, Florida. My siblings and I threw a party in their honor at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village where they renewed their vows and spent a wonderful evening with 115 family members and friends. Congratulations, Mom and Dad! I love you and am forever grateful for the example you have set for a loving and lasting marriage.

Not surprisingly, one of my tasks was to select the food for the evening from the hotel's array of choices. The menu:

Asian salad in phyllo shell
Prosciutto-wrapped melon with tropical mint cream sauce
Jumbo gulf shrimp served on ice with cocktail sauce
Hoisin beef satay
Spinach and artichoke tartlette
Duck springroll

Soup - Italian wedding soup

Salad - Chop chop salad (fresh greens with pine nuts, blue cheese, and garlic vinaigrette)

Dinner (choice of ...)
Chicken wellington with lyonnaise potatoes and sauteed asparagus
Prime rib with smashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus

If you have never been to St. Augustine, Florida, stop by some time and enjoy its low-key atmosphere. It has beautiful beaches and a historic downtown. We stayed at the Castillo Real at St. Augustine Beach, which I recommend highly for three reasons. One: it has free, and yes I said free, wireless internet. Two: it's across from a cool and happening place called Cafe Eleven. Great bubble tea and coffee, a $10 buffet breakfast (how can you beat that), live music at night, and really nice, hip staff. Three: it's right on the beach.

My family also had a great breakfast one morning at the Bunnery Bakery and Cafe in the historic district. We bought some raspberry squares and lemon squares from them for the late night dessert table at the party and they were fantastic.

I would say the biggest hit of the night was family friend Marge Anloague's Filipino mocha cake, which she drove all the way down to Florida from Cleveland, Ohio. If I could get her recipe to put on this blog, we would all live happier lives! I guarantee it.

Note: If you're looking to plan an event in the St. Augustine area, definitely take a look at Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. Tammie Bryant was our coordinator there, and she and the entire staff were very helpful and accommodating.