Saturday, 28 July 2012

Kitchen Experiment #5 Holy Guacamole !

Our family lived in Northbrook, Illinois for close to 4 years. Our favorite Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood was San Gabriel Mexican Cafe. My husband and I would usually cap off the week with a glass or two of their phenomenal Margaritas alongside freshly made tortilla chips and Guacamole en Molcajete. Their version of guacamole is made table side on a molcajete, a bowl carved from volcanic rock . I loved it a lot that I searched far and wide to buy my own molcajete so I can make an authentic version of this healthy dip at home anytime.


I started out by chopping some onions, garlic, tomatoes, Haas avocados, and cilantro. I then squeezed the juice of one lime.

I put some of the chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, lime juice and sea salt on the molcajete and pounded them into a paste.  The salt helps break down the chunks thus releasing more flavor out of these ingredients.

I then added half of the chopped avocados and tomatoes, put in more lime juice, salt and pepper and mashed everything together. For extra chunkiness, I added the rest of the chopped onions and tomatoes without mashing them. Lastly, I garnished the dip with some chopped cilantro.

It was a perfect snack while watching the opening of the 2012 London Olympics.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Kitchen Experiment #4: Biscotti

I have a handful of biscotti recipes but the Americas Test Kitchen version is my holy grail. My favorite combination is pistachios and cranberries. The only problem is finding peeled pistachios here in Toronto. It is so hard to peel pistachios so I ask my boys to help (after thoroughly washing their hands) and promise them a yummy treat after their hard work.

Contrary to public perception, it is actually very easy to make biscotti. No matter how many times I make this treat without paying too much attention to measurements, they always turn out great. The only really tedious part is having to bake them twice -- the first time as loaves...

and the second time as strips ...

Then they turn out delicious ! Nothing is more satisfying than a cup of tea and some biscotti.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Kitchen Experiment #3: Mini Bruschetta Bar...Can it pass for a light dinner ?

After gorging on all you can eat sushi at Sakura, our favorite neighborhood Japanese restaurant, we arrived home all in a state of food coma. A few hours later, my eldest son shouts -- What's for dinner, Mom?  These bottomless pits ! What can I possibly whip up in minutes ? One todo on my list which I always forget is "thaw out the chicken". So I had to make do with whatever was in the fridge -- mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula. Bruschetta maybe ? Good thing I grabbed some good quality baguette on my way home that morning.


I sauteed some baby bella mushrooms with lots of garlic and some butter.

I then chopped some roma tomatoes and basil leaves, drizzled them with extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned them with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I sliced the baguette into 1/2 inch slices, brushed the slices with olive oil, rubbed them with garlic, and popped them into the toaster oven. While waiting for the bread slices to toast, I washed some baby arugula.

Voila ! A Mini Bruschetta Bar !

The tomato and arugula bruschetta was a sight to behold with the bold red color from the fresh roma tomatoes and the vibrant green from the baby arugula! It was as tasty as it was pretty!


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Kitchen Experiment #2: Trying to replicate a favorite steak dish from a restaurant 8,000 miles away

My 8-year old son has been bugging me the past few days about craving for steak. He remembers the steak we used to have at a restaurant in Manila called Mamou. I knew that unless I buy a dry aged cut of Angus beef, my experiment of coming up with something close to that will fail. Nonetheless, I had to try to satisfy his craving with whatever ingredients I could easily find.


I chose rib eye slices from Costco. I'm a rib eye devotee and so are my husband and kids mainly because of the extra moisture brought about by the heavy marbling. With the help of some basic seasoning and cooking gadgets, I took a stab at transforming these pieces of meat into chunks of heavenly bliss.

My basic seasoning repertoir consists of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. All of us prefer our meat unadulterated and free of any heavy rubs.

After generously seasoning the meat with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, I laid them down onto a very hot grill pan to get a good char on both sides. I wish I had grapeseed oil on hand which has a neutral taste and works best when cooking at very high temperatures.

Once I got the char I wanted, off the slices went to bask in a 350°F oven until my instant read thermometer reached 135°F (I was aiming for a Medium Well). A generous dab of butter as soon as they got out of the oven was a must as well as another sprinkling of sea salt. I served the steak with sautéed fresh mushrooms, mashed potatoes (using Betty Crocker Butter and Herb -- didn't have energy left to make it from scratch) and summer sweet corn.

Steak by Mamouommy!


Kitchen Experiment #1: Trying out Peameal Bacon

Kitchen Experiment #1: Trying out Peameal Bacon

At the grocery store today, I chanced upon a different kind of bacon -- peameal bacon.  The information on the packaging screamed “I’m the healthier bacon!” with 85% less fat and 40% less salt. So I didn't think twice on putting it in my cart.

Peameal bacon....what is it? Obviously, I was not raised in Canada to know that this type of bacon originated from Canada and that peameal bacon sandwiches are considered to be a signature dish of Toronto with its most famous versions sold at the St. Lawrence Market.


When I opened the package, it did seem like the healthier brother of the traditional pork belly bacon since it came as slices of trimmed boneless pork loin rolled in ground yellow cornmeal. To cook them, I followed the suggested stove top cooking method which is to pan fry the slices over medium heat on a lightly oiled cooking surface 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once.

I served the bacon with English muffins, cheese, soft scrambled eggs and some fruit to complete the meal. Breakfast is served !