Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Impulse Buying

I don't know what got into me.

The Husband and I went to the supermarket yesterday afternoon to purchase fixings for split-pea soup for dinner. That meant grab a slice of ham from the meat department and fill a bag with about 2 pounds of split peas from the bin in the produce section.

But, then we walked by the fish display. Wild, but previously frozen, Rex sole was on sale for $4.99 per pound. Neither of us ever had it before. Its name intrigued me. About a pound, please, sweet butcher lady.

Then I saw the squid. Ooooh. And, the octopus. Double ooooooh. The squid would be a treat for the Mama and for me. The octopus, too, if cooked correctly so it wasn't all rubbery. The Husband doesn't care for either, but he can have 2 pieces of the Rex sole. So, I asked for about a half pound of the squid and a quarter pound of the octopus.

As the butcher lady wrapped the items, I spied the locally made sausages. I turned to the Husband. "Shall we get some sausage?"

"I like those sausages," he replied. I asked for two calabrese sausages, which to my surprise was just over half a pound.

Rex sole, squid, octopus, and calabrese sausage. So many possibilities to create!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Summer of Pizza


One of my favorite birthdays was the year I asked for a pizza, five movie rentals, and to be left alone. And, I got what I asked.

Pizza is one of those treat foods for me.

The first few years that the husband and I were married, we ate a lot of extra-large pizza from this one particular pizzeria. We loved that they delivered. We gained a lot of weight. What kept us from gaining more than a lot was that we moved to a nearby city outside of the pizzeria's delivery radius.

Since living with the Mama, pizza has been a now and then food to enjoy. The pizzas sold around here tend to be heavy. I didn't think I'd ever say it, but yeah, too much salt, too much sauce, too much cheese, and too much grease. And, then there's the cost.  Oh, sure, it's cheap if we just wanted pepperoni and cheese. But, that's not the pizza experience for us. We like a pizza loaded with veggies, with the meat as an extra. 

Then, in late spring,  our favorite cafe  built an outdoor oven and started selling  pizza. Their crust is light and buttery, chewy yet crisp. And the toppings are things we like such as grilled chicken, artichoke, and cheeses others than mozzarella.   Fortunately, there were obstacles to keep us from getting addicted to their pizza: The cafe was in the next town and we're on a tight budget again.

Not having their pizza motivated me to make pizza from scratch. So, this past summer I was on a quest to find that right combination of yeast, sugar, liquids, and flour to form the almost perfect crust. I got close enough.

It's fun making pizza. I enjoy pounding and kneading the dough. It's also fun experimenting with toppings.  They're never the same because I use whatever veggies and meats happen to be in the fridge and pantry. It can get rather creative. The Husband and the Mama don't seem to mind. The last pizza turned out to be a very delicious experiment: First, a layer of roasted tomatoes in olive oil; next, a mixture of sauteed onions, garlic, sweet pepper, and portabello mushrooms; then a handful or two of thin slices of farmer's cheese and garlic cheddar cheese; and then a layer of minced salami, slices of elephant garlic, and chopped parda (a Filipino vegetable)  Finally, it was all topped with several slices of provolone cheese.

My recipe
There's really nothing difficult about making pizza. You can be as precise as you want or be all intuitive about it. The latter is me. Here's what I do to give you an idea of the process of making pizza. (You can easily find a basic pizza recipe with measurements online.)
  1. Warm 1 to 1.5 cup of water in the microwave. Add a teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir and set the solution aside.
  2. Dump about 2 to 3 cups of flour in a large bowl. Make a crater in the flour with your fist. Add the yeast solution and a small amount of olive oil (maybe 1/8 cup).
  3. Combine and knead the mixture, adding a bit of flour at a time as needed. Knead until the dough bounces back a bit when you press on it.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly coat it with olive oil and put it back into the bowl. Cover with something (I use a cloth napkin), set it in a warm spot, and walk away. 
  5. An hour or so later, punch the dough down and knead, knead, knead until you think it doesn't need it anymore. Put it back in the bowl, cover it, and walk away again.
  6. Assemble the pizza. Come back about an hour before you're ready to eat to do this last step. Less, if you've already prepared your ingredients. More, if you haven't and you tend to be slow about preparing things. Baking the pizza takes between 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven's idiosyncrasies, how thick your dough is, and what ingredients you're using.
© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making My First Filipino Dish

The parents liked fresh meat and they believed it was cheaper to purchase a pig (or cow or chicken), slaughter and butcher the animal,  and freeze the parts for when you wanted to cook. Because the cost of purchasing a pig was high, the parents often bought it with one or more friends. They didn't bring the pig to the butcher though, as part of the pig-buying event was the camaraderie among the men as they slaughtered and butchered the pig in our backyard. A bottle, or two, of whiskey also figured into the festivity.

Every part of the pig was used. Everything. For instance, the blood was directly drained from the pig into a pot. The right amount of vinegar was added to the blood and it was beat with a hand mixer until it coagulated into a thick pudding. The blood was used for a pork dish known as dinardaraan, which the Filipinos would call Chocolate Meat as they served it to children or non-Filipinos.

Along with the whiskey, Daddy always  served his compadres a meal of the freshly butchered pig. The rice would be made. Some pieces of pork would go on the makeshift grill in the back yard. And, some chopped pork would be brought into the kitchen for Mama to saute with garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, and pimento (in a jar), and frozen peas (if she had some).

This is one my favorite comfort dishes. Don't ask me what the name is of the dish. I don't know. Even Mama doesn't know the formal name of the dish. At least, not anymore.

It was at one of these butcherings that I made this favorite dish for the first time. Mama was not home, so Daddy called me to the kitchen. He pointed to the meat on the counter,  told me to cook it, and went back outside. There were no if's, and's, but's, or I-don't know-how's with Daddy. So, of course, I prepared it, visualizing how Mama made the dish.

I have no idea how Daddy and his friends liked my first try, whether they actually ate it or chewed it and politely spit it out. Both the parents believed in practice makes perfect. So, Daddy continued to ask me to prepare the dish during these butchering events whenever Mama was not home or she was busy cleaning the pig's guts.

Today, I make this pork and garbanzo bean dish whenever I have a craving for it or when I think Mama would enjoy eating some Filipino food. I know I've done well when she eats all of her meal.

© 2011 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.