October 12, 2005

chinese-style spareribs

I must admit I’ve learned so much from watching the Food Network. It’s like attending a cooking school without even leaving the house. One show I like is Food 911 with Tyler Florence. A viewer comes to him for help with regards a cooking dilemma and Tyler goes to the viewer’s home and demos the correct cooking technique. It’s a big help for me to be able to watch the actual demo aside from just following a recipe, the cooking tips alone are worth it. I got the recipe and cooking technique for these delicious chinese spareribs from his show aired just the other day. Chinese or barbecue spareribs are best very tender with the meat falling off the bone. Slow-roasting in a lower temperature setting of about 275 to 300 degrees for about 3 hours makes the the most tender and juiciest ribs. Not a dry part at all. The rub is a simple mixture of five-spice powder, salt and pepper. But the secret is the very flavorful teriyaki sauce which is a combination of smashed garlic and ginger, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, catsup and chopped chili or jalapeno, simmered on low heat until reduced and thickened. This sauce is then basted on the meat about 30 minutes before cooking time is over and the meat is starting to pull off the bone. Mouthwatering and finger-licking good...thanks again Tyler!!


A pizzelle is described as a traditional Italian cookie made from flour, eggs, sugar, butter or vegetable oil and flavoring which is often vanilla, anise or lemon. I would say it’s like a crispy pancake. The cookie batter is put into a pizzelle maker or iron which resembles a waffle iron. The pizzelle iron used to be held by hand over a hot burner on the stovetop but now some models are electric and require no stove. Typically, the iron stamps a snowflake pattern onto both sides of this thin, golden-brown cookie, about 4 inches in diameter, which has a crisp texture once it has cooled. They can also be rolled as soon as they’re out of the iron, when they’re still warm & pliable, and later filled with a ricotta cheese cream filling like a cannoli. Pizzelles are popular during Christmas and Easter holidays. They’re best to have with a good cup of hot tea. The recipe for them can be found in the cookbook that came with the gadget. They’re a perfect afternoon tea or midnight snack. Variations can be done, like right now, I’m thinking of maybe adding finely chopped nuts to the batter which will make them extra crispy no doubt or trying out a chocolate version. Flavorings may also be altered. I just used vanilla and lemon for this batch. Storing them in zip lock back ensures freshness and maintain their crispness for several days.
Here’s a pizzelle recipe I got online: Melt 2 sticks of butter in a small saucepan. Beat 6 eggs in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of vanilla (or anise) flavoring. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar to the egg mixture and beat well. After butter has melted, allow to cool slightly and then add to egg and sugar mixture. Sift in 3-1/2 cups flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder into the wet mixture, making sure all flour is completely mixed into a stiff batter. Bake using pizzelle iron. Makes approx. 60 cookies.

key lime cheesecake bars

The same texture and taste as regular cheesecake but in bite-size portions. As I've mentioned before, there's no recipe you can't find online these days. I printed out several variations, which I have also tried and tested, but this one is the best so far. The amount of tart key lime juice, a half cup of it, in this recipe is a good balance to the rich cream cheese. I prefer to use bottled key lime juice which I find so convenient to use. I even use it as a substitute for calamansi ( calamondine ) or lemons. Saves time in squeezing the juice from the fresh lemons and when in a rush, this is quite an advantage. The graham cracker crumb crust is first baked blind for about 8 to 10 minutes, allowed to cool before pouring in the cheesecake mixture to bake next. I have learned to love and appreciate cheesecake here in the US. I must admit they make some pretty mean ones out here. The quality of dairy products in the US is excellent. They have definitely mastered the correct techniques in the production of dairy products here, no doubt about that. So they mean business when it comes to rich desserts, ice cream, milkshakes and cheesecake, of course. The variety of cheesecake is the market is also superb. Although I have met a few who don't care for cheesecake at all, there are some who can't live without it and crave it. Count me in. Although once I had a serving, I'm good to go without it for awhile. These bite-size cheesecake portions are ideal to serve anytime and they're always best made a day ahead and refrigerated before cutting.

October 7, 2005

spam and egg maki rolls

I was watching a feature on the Food Network about Spam and how popular it is in Hawaii. It's definitely a pantry staple in the Philippines along with canned corned beef. In Hawaii, spam sushi appeals to almost everyone. I got this spam and egg maki idea from that feature actually and I thought about trying it combined with egg and even with some carrot & cucumber strips. Had no idea that the same idea won in last year's Spamarama festival in Austin, TX had I not watched the festival also on the Food Network sometime ago! Actually two women contestants from Hawaii won. Anyway, I have been making these rolls for quite sometime now. I must admit Spam is good with anything. This will most probably appeal to Filipinos since our tastebuds always crave for spam with egg, and not just for breakfast. I remember Spam's counterpart in Manila from China was the Maling brand luncheon meat. Somehow, whether it was true or not, some destructive write-up about Maling gave Pinoys a scare but that must have been from some local brand trying to compete with Maling's popularity . As of now, I believe Maling brand had either lost it's popularity or had totally disappeared from the market. I read there's now a Spamjam restaurant in Manila. Very clever idea. I bet it's popular too.

October 6, 2005

cinnamon rolls

Dried cranberries instead of the usual raisins added an interesting twist to these classic cinnamon rolls. They have the same chewy characteristic as raisins and often make a good substitute. We had to cancel our "pizza at home" plan one night, when I realized we ran out of grated cheese, but I had already mixed the dough for the crust, so I decided to store it in a small plastic container in the freezer. Two days later, I thought about the dough in the freezer and decided to thaw it out in the fridge. It was still rising pretty good when I took it out of the fridge to punch down and roll out for the cinnamon rolls. Freezing the dough turned out to be a good "make ahead" idea. I just used the instant mix, quick & ready in 5 minutes. I have also made cinnamon rolls with the same basic pan de sal dough recipe, but it takes more time. For a quick breakfast treat of cinnamon rolls, this instant roll mix works out well everytime.