Monday, February 27, 2012

THE DARING BAKERS’ FEBRUARY, 2012 CHALLENGE: Quick! Gimme a Flavor! ;)

The Daring Bakers' February 2012 host was--Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

So what are quickbreads? Lis shared Epicurious' definition as: Bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time. That's because the leavener in such a bread is usually baking powder or baking soda, which, when combined with moisture, starts the rising process immediately. In the case of double-acting baking powder, oven heat causes a second burst of rising power. Eggs can also be used to leaven quick breads. This genre includes most biscuits, muffins, popovers and a wide variety of sweet and savory loaf breads.

This challenge was really fun because we were given pretty much a free hand and I decided to experiment with some of my favorite ingredients. Apples, beets, chocolate chips, cheese etc...yes, I just wrote beets. I made apple-beets muffins and they were delicious and very pretty...and I'm sure healthy too!

The muffins came out really delicious...the texture was great. The whole house smelled yummy while I was baking them.

So I followed the Basic Loaf recipe that Lis shared, and added about 1/2 cup of Chocolate Chips. It came out delicious tasting, although the crumb was not as I expected.

The second loaf I made to which I added Quezo de Bola (Edam Cheese) and Spring Onions produced a crumb that was a lot better.

Thank you Lis for this challenge, it was fun experimenting and really delicious! Check out the other Daring Bakers' quickbreads here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tim Ho Wan--One Michelin Star Dimsum Place

I can finally say I've eaten in a Michelin-starred place, yay! It happened last week while I was on a short break in HongKong.
According to Wikipedia: The Michelin Guide (French: Guide Michelin [ɡid miʃlɛ̃]) is a series of annual guide books published by Michelin for over a dozen countries. The term normally refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest and best-known European hotel and restaurant guide, which awards the Michelin stars...
The guide awards one to three stars to a small number of restaurants of outstanding quality. One star indicates a "very good cuisine in its category", a two-star ranking represents "excellent cuisine, worth a detour," and three stars are awarded to restaurants offering "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".
And how was my experience? It was a loooooooooooooooong wait. We arrived before 10:30 A.M. (after going down a sketchy alley) and there was a line already. We were given the yellow menu sheet (in Chinese) on which our number (16) was written and we had to tick our orders. We were told to come back after an hour so we walked to the nearest Starbucks and warmed our tummies with coffee, ignoring the pastries--we wanted to be ready for the best Dim Sum in HK!
When we came back, we waited for 30 more minutes since there were no seats available yet. My anticipation coupled with my growling tummy made me grumpy or as one of my sisters refers to as "hangry"--angry because I'm hungry.
Thankfully our number was called before I was hangry enough to throw a tantrum. Oh boy, was it worth the wait! We were ushered to a table which we had to share but we didn't mind...we were just so happy. After less than 5 minutes, the famed BBQ bun was delivered to our table which we noticed was also on every table. It was the best!
Baked BBQ Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao)
I noticed there was instant camaraderie among us sharing the table. I don't know if it was because of the food or because we were all excited to be eating Michelin-starred Dim Sum. My favorite was the steamed Dumpling Chiu Chow style. It was different from all I've tasted and the texture which came from the peanuts made it extra special.
Steamed Dumpling Chiu Chow Style
And the Shrimp Dumpling (Ha Kaw) which is a staple every time I order Dim Sum was so good, the prawns were tender and tasty. I was sorely tempted to order another basket of this one.
Shrimp Dumpling (Ha Kaw)
And of course, I would never eat in a Dim Sum place without ordering Chicken Feet--my all time favorite! And this was the yummiest I've eaten! Tender and flavorful.
The yummiest Chicken Feet I've ever eaten
For dessert, we ordered "Tonic Medlar and Petal Cake" which sounded weird to us but looked really pretty. I'd have to say, I'm not a fan of flowers in food and this was no exception, it was the only food that was not wiped out seconds after it touched down on our table.
After savoring all this in what seemed like hours, we walked to the cashier by the door, who also acted as the doorman and paid what seemed like a pittance compared to about 30 minutes of culinary bliss. We walked out the door to a waiting throng of expectant, hangry diners much like we were an hour our two ago.
And the total bill is just HK$ 77 or PhP 462!
Tim Ho Wan

2-8 Kwong Wah St
Mong Kok, Hong Kong, China
(No reservations)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Shrimp Saganaki and a Birthday

The first day of February is special in our house because it's my baby sister's birthday. Today she is turning nineteen (!) and it's bittersweet because last year, our mom threw a surprise 18th birthday party for her and starting this year, she will be celebrating without our mom who passed away middle of 2011.
The birthday girl's interests are varied, she does wushu, has gotten her certification to teach zumba, maintains her own blog, is into farming...whew! But most of all just like me, she loves food...and this particular dish combines some of her favorites--shrimps, cheese and wine.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 small Onion, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 kilo Shrimps (peeled/deveined/heads left intact)

250 grams Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup White Wine

250 grams Crushed Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat medium pot with Olive Oil, saute Garlic, Onion and Oregano until fragrant. Deglaze pan with white wine, add the shrimps and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a deep dish (I used a big ramekin) and top with crumbled feta cheese. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees farenheit oven for 20 minutes until bubbling. Serve with bread.
*The leftovers tasted better the next day, we ate it with rice :)
Happy birthday Mycah! You make me so proud of how you are turning out to be!