Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Roasted Eggplant Salad

I love eggplants. I love them in moussakas, in lasagnas, in tempuras and most especially, roasted in a salad. This salad is very versatile. It can be served as a light appetizer, or as a side dish for anything barbeque'd. I love this salad when I eat my very Filipino meal of fried fish and rice. It adds a zing to the meal and wakens the appetite even more. Let me show you how I prepare this kind of salad.

2-3 oriental eggplants (long thin purple ones)
1/2 medium onion
1 large tomato
Bagoong (sauteed Filpino fermented shrimp)**

1. On a grill, roast the eggplants until the skin is nice and charred. You can also use the direct flame method (that I use) using a metal rack placed on top of your stove and roast the eggplants directly over the flame. You can also use an oven but you won't get that charring effect on the skin and the taste is slightly different. Remember to pierce the skin with a skewer or a fork all over. You don't want it exploding on you while you are grilling or roasting it. (It happened to me and the results were not pretty. Pretty much my kitchen was sprayed with eggplant innards).

2. When the skin of the eggplants are nicely charred and cooked, pop them in a paper bag and let them sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes. The steam from the cooked inner meat of the eggplant will soften the charred skin and make it easy to slip it off. Take the eggplant out and gently rub the charred skin away. Chop or dice the eggplant in small squares and put in a mixing bowl.

3. Roughly dice or chop the onion and tomatoes and add to the mixing bowl. Toss all the ingredients together. Add a tablespoon of bagoong and toss again. Serve as a side dish to your meal.

**If you don't have bagoong, use other fermented shrimp pastes as a substitute.

Roast Thyme Pork Loin - A Family Favorite

My family is a family of meat eaters. My boys and my hubby always crave for a good portion of meat with a starchy side dish (rice, potatoes, bread, etc.). One of the perennial family favorite is my Roast Pork Loin redolent with Thyme. I don't marinate the loin, I dry rub it. 

Marinate is when you soak the meat in a liquid-type mixture of sauces, condiments and spices. Dry-rub is different. You basically take your meat, rub it with whatever spice powder, herb mixture, flavored salt, etc. that you have and let it sit for a while. The best time is 1 hour. But in my case when my days are busy and my men are hungry, I just rub my herbs and powders on and then pop it in the oven.

Here's my go-to mixture of dry rub:

Onion powder
Garlic powder
Lawry's seasoned salt (*if you don't have this, substitute with your choice of flavored salt)**
Dried thyme leaves

1. Put your pork loin on a big platter and pat it dry with a paper towel or a clean dish rag.
2. Sprinkle onion powder evenly to coat all the surface of the loin.
3. Do the same with the rest of the ingredients.
4. Once the meat is thoroughly covered, let it sit for an hour (optional).
5. Heat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and pop the meat in and cook for about 50 minutes to an hour (depending on the size and thickness of the meat).
6. The roast is done when the surface of the meat is evenly browned and the juices run clear when the loin is pierced with a fork.
7. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 5-7 minutes. This will allow juices to come out (for gravy or for drizzling over the starchy accompaniment).
8. Slice and serve the roast.

**(if you don't have flavored salt, just use salt and pepper).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sopas for a Rainy Day

One of my friends warned me that a storm was coming to Korea. Sure enough, it did and arrived at midnight. That morning,  I kept our youngest son from going to his elementary school (and sent the teacher a text message why). I looked inside the fridge and saw I had chicken pieces, some veggies, and milk. Ahhh, time for Sopas.

In my country, rainy days means hearty soups for afternoon snack after school. It can be savory like Arroz Caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge) or sweet, Guinataan (Sweetened Fruits and Root crops in Coconut Milk). And then, there is Sopas. Sopas, literally means soup in Filipino and Spanish (yup, our colonial ancestors brought it to us) and is usually a savory chicken soup with pasta and diced vegetables with a milk broth.

Here is my version of the Sopas.

250 grams of chicken meat (1/4 kilo of meat, either with bone or plain meat)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 carrots, diced
1 stem of celery, diced
1 large potato or 2 medium ones, peeled and diced
2 tablespoon oil
2 cups pasta, you can use any kind tht is small (macaroni, penne, spiral, etc. I used spaghetti which I broke into 1-inch long pieces)
6-8 cups of chicken broth (or 6-8 cups of water plus a chicken bouillon cube)
2 cups of milk

1. In a large wok or heavy bottom pot, add your oil. Heat until it is hot and add your garlic and onions. Saute them until their fragrance fills the room (the garlic will be golden brown while the onions will be translucent).

2. Add your diced carrots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add your chicken pieces now if they cut-up with bone still in them. Sprinkle about 1/2 tablespoon of salt. If you have shredded chicken meat, add that later. Saute until the chicken pieces are slightly cooked (they would look white and not raw).

3. Add your celery and saute for about 1 minute more. Now it's time to add the broth/water. First add a cup to the wok/pot. Stir the bottom, scraping it so that all the crunchy bits that are sticking gets mixed. This will add flavor to your soup. Now add the rest of the water/broth.

4. Bring the pot to a boil, when scum rises, try to skim all of it off. This will make your soup look cloudy and dirty. Keep skimming the scum that floats up. Lower the heat to medium and add the pasta. Stir every now and then so that the pasta won't clump up.

5. Continue simmering the soup until the pasta is half-cooked. Add the diced potatoes. Add another 1/2 tablespoon of salt, a sprinkling of pepper and chopped herbs of your choice (it can be dried parsley, dried oregano, dried sage... in this recipe, I used dried tarragon because I wanted to try it - it worked out great!)

6. Simmer until the pasta and potatoes get cooked really well. Add a cup of water or broth if the soup seems to be drying up. When the pasta and potatoes are done, add your milk. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the stove. Serve the soup hot with crusty bread or garlic toast.


1. This can be your clean-out-your-fridge soup. I have been known to put chopped ham, diced hotdogs/sausages, diced hardboiled eggs in the soup.

2. When using herbs, stick to one. For this soup I used tarragon. Another great herb to use is parsley.

3. The diced veggies you can add is unlimited. You can add zucchinis, mushrooms, squash (my mom did this all the time), etc.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Favorite Fudgy Brownie Recipe

Thank you King Arthur Flour for publishing this awesome fudgy brownie recipe. I have made it time and time again and it has never failed. Two words for those searching for an awesome brownie recipe - MAKE IT.

King Arthur's Fudge Brownies

*1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
*2 1/4 cups sugar
*4 large eggs
*1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon baking powder
*1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
*1 tablespoon vanilla extract
*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*2 cups chocolate chips

1.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

2. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

3. While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

4. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

5. Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

6. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

7. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

A very sinful Chocolate Pie

I had a hankering for a rich, chocolatey pie that was truly sinful. I searched and found many recipes for chocolate pies but this one seemed to be a winner. Once I made it, it proved that it was - a keeper.

Bev's Chocolate Pie


2 cups white sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
4 egg whites
1/4 cup white sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a saucepan, whisk together 2 cups sugar, cocoa and flour. Blend in evaporated milk and vanilla. Beat egg yolks, and stir into pan. Add the butter or margarine. Heat, stirring constantly just until butter is melted. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until pie is not "wobbly" when shaken.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beating constantly, until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue on pie.
Return pie to oven, and bake until meringue is golden

Mexican Chicken

Hubby was getting burned out from the grilled Mesquite Chicken salad that he was having day after day for about a couple of weeks. One night, he suggested I stirfry the chicken breast strips with taco seasoning and veggies. This is the recipe I came up with.


3 chicken breasts, cut into strips

4 bell-peppers, cut into strips

2 onions, you know what to do ;-)

1 tablespoon Lawry's Seasoned salt

3 to 4 tablespoon taco seasoning

2 tablespoon cooking oil

1. I stir fried the chicken breast strips with Lawry's Seasoned salt. Once the chicken wasn't pink anymore I added the veggies.

2. First, I added the bell peppers and after ten minutes of stri-fryingI dumped the onion slices.

3. When the onion was cooked translucent, I added a whole lot of taco seasoning and a cup of water. I let it simmer until almost all the sauce has evaporated.

Serve with Crispy Fries.

What to do with leftover roast beef

If you are lucky enough to have leftover roast beef (like what happened to me after a sumptuous Father's Day dinner), here's an easy Beef Stew Recipe.

Easy Beef Stew

About 3 cups of leftover roast beef, cubed
1 cup of diced cooked carrots (the ones cooked with the roast beef in the crockpot)
2 cups cubed celery
1 large white onion, diced
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 cup leftover gravy
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch miexd with 1/2 cup water

1.In a large wok, saute onions and celery in the oil for 5-7 minutes until they are soft and browned on the edges.
2. Add about 4 cups of water, the beef cubes and bring to a boil.
3.Add the beef cubes and potatoes next. Simmer until the potatoes are almost done. Add the cup of gravy, diced cooked carrots and simmer for a minute or more.
4. Then add the cornstarch slurry to make it the sauce thick. Salt and pepper according to your taste.