The Newbie Cook
- 16,486 forkfuls since 16.Oct.10
Making everything for the first time
I was craving for French toast for days. And I had to do something with the two packs of fresh strawberries C and I bought a few days ago. And I figured he could use a little cheering up.
I made the honey-wheat bread myself using Danielle’s recipe. I haven’t perfected it yet so that will be a whole post of its own sometime in the near future when I feel more confident and have photographic evidence. 😛 I’m sure most of us already have our own recipes for French toast but I added mine here for those who do not.
This is quite heavy so we had this for brunch and skipped lunch altogether. Have fun with your own stay-at-home date!
Here’s my husband’s deconstructed toast:
Note (May 25, 2012): I recently made this as a cake with blackberries instead of red currants. Coat blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and spread evenly at the bottom of the pan. Spoon cake batter over it and bake. A lot of people have trouble turning an upside down cake without the middle sticking on the pan. Use wax paper or foil to cover the bottom of the pan so when you flip it over, the whole cake comes out foil and all. If the berries stick to the foil, stick the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes before peeling it off.
Almost a year ago, I had a love affair with muffins. Obsession is probably the proper way to describe it. I wanted to learn how to bake (aside from the token brownies and chocolate cake) by baking as many kinds of muffins as I could find. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of pictures and those that I managed to take were poorly focused and had horrible exposure.
I had the chance to make these muffins again for my friends last weekend. Breakfast should always be the biggest meal of the day and we sure had a huge meal with varied dishes. My contribution was a batch of lemon and red currant muffins.
You can be creative with this muffin and use all sorts of berries. SK’s original recipe uses raspberries. I used red currant here. In hindsight, I think the red currants should have been coated with a tad of sugar since they’re really sour. The first time I made this muffin, it had a cherry centre and I topped it with sliced almonds. I think I like the latter version better. Here’s a photo of it, taken just before I brought them to work for my colleagues:
It’s not great, but I used to be really bad with photography and used the “Auto” setting far too often. *wince* These days, I learned how to adjust my dSLR properly to take the type of photos I want. I still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to composition, but I’ll get there eventually.
Note: The lovely topmost photo was taken by my friend, Jovett, just before we ate them.
I like to think of these as “healthy” muffins. Sure there’s still flour, but it’s whole wheat flour. Sugar is discarded in lieu of natural honey. There are loads of grated carrot involved. The only thing I can think of that’s not healthy is the butter. If you’re a real health nut, maybe you can substitute the butter for olive or canola oil but I don’t know how good the muffins would taste.
I made two batches a couple of hours before work when I woke up too early and decided I was bored. I tried grating the carrots the pioneer way: by hand like a boss! Sadly, I gave up even before the first carrot was done. My fingers were scratched, the carrot wasn’t faring much better, and seeing the number of freshly peeled carrots that were still waiting to be grated discouraged me.
So I asked my (very sleepy) dad to set up the grinder for me. The Moulinex is about 20 years old, possibly older, and has seen and ground a lot of stuff over the years. The carrots were grated perfectly and efficiently in 5 minutes tops.
The muffins baked very quickly. I used the old gas oven in Apartment #1, which can be tricky if you’re not used to these types of ovens. I’ve learned not to time baked stuff. I just use my nose, eyes and a toothpick. Meaning, (1) if the smell permeates the kitchen, it’s probably done or close to it, (2) open the oven a bit to check the color, and (3) pierce a toothpick through the middle of the cake to check if the doughy bits would stick or if it would come out dry. Take them out of the oven before the edges turn brown.
I really like the subtle bite of cinnamon and garlic in these muffins. So did Tita E, Fatma, and my brother. Jiko probably ate one whole batch all by himself. Please don’t invite him to dinner parties unless you’re sure that you have prepared XXXL servings for him. 😛
I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since I posted. It must be my lazy gene at work. I’ve tried a lot of new recipes since the last post but, being Ms. Forgetful, didn’t always have my camera with me so I was only able to document a few. And one of those precious few is the apple cinnamon cake. 🙂
It’s Smitten Kitchen’s mom’s apple cake. But I added a lot of cinnamon and lessened the sugar to suit my taste. I also used yellowish-red gala apples because by the time I realized that there were small green apples that’s probably excellent for baking, I already had the gala apples weighed and priced. Another example of the lazy gene at work.
I left the apples unpeeled so I just washed them thoroughly. My aunts always told me that the nutrients are close to the peeling. And it tastes sweeter the way it is.
Instead of sifting the dry ingredients, which would take forever and a day, I used a whisk to mix them all together. I got that tip from Serious Eats. Besides, I don’t have a sifter. 😉
One creates four layers: dough, apples, dough, then apples. Please use a tube pan for this cake, just like Smitten Kitchen did. It’s actually the second time for me to make this and I used a regular square pan the first time when I made it for my girlfriends. It took a long time to bake and, even when the sides were already crunchy, the center was still uncooked. It was then that the usefulness of a tube pan dawned on me.
It hasn’t even been baked but it already looks beautiful. I did use too many apples for my cake. I also had a smallish tube pan and the dough ran over as it was baking. Put a baking tray under the pan like I did to prevent messing up your oven. (Chewing on the crunchy, fallen bits was also fun.)
I brought this cake home to Apartment #1 where my parents and siblings are currently staying. The kids liked it, so did the adults. I set aside a few slices to bring to work before The Terminator (aka Jiko, the younger brother) finishes everything. Luckily, Tita Edith and Layali both liked it. I guess this is one cake that I am going to make again.
Be careful with slicing and serving because the cake can get crumbly. It’s also a bit heavy for dessert and is probably more suited as a snack with your favorite coffee or tea.
First of all, I want to congratulate my very good friend, Tricia, for taking the same difficult step I took six months ago: learning how to cook. I didn’t find it easy, especially in the beginning. I found it tedious, tiring, and frustrating especially when it bombs even if I follow the recipe to the letter (or when I think I did). There are little successes and almost-successes. I still eat my failures to teach myself to fail much less often in the future.
When we were in college, the only cooking Tricia and I could manage was to fry a can of Spam and to pour water into a cup of instant Yakisoba. Any “proper” food would have to be eaten from restaurants. And we could only afford so much on a college student’s budget.
Now, Trish has a food blog, Whipped, where she chronicles her adventures in cooking and as she eats her way through the finest places in Manila. And to celebrate Tricia’s recent cream dory with mango salsa project (yum yum, I can just taste it!), here’s another cream dory recipe from me.
I’ve seen recipes where they used dill. And I’ve seen dill itself in the supermarket whenever we would do our weekly grocery shopping. It has always been a mysterious herb to me. I’m not sure what it tastes like, exactly, since we don’t usually use dill in Filipino cooking. And I grew up on native homecooked meals.
So I thought dinner time would be a good time to experiment. *evil grin* I have been craving for fish and I suspect that I would sprout wings if I eat another chicken dish.
I kept it relatively simple and broke the rule of using only white wine for white meat.
My fish pictures look awful. But have you ever seen wonderful pictures of raw fish chunks? I doubt it. If Steamy Kitchen — who is a much better food photographer and food stylist than I can ever dream to be — cannot make raw fish look amazing, then me and my Canon EOS1000 probably can’t.
And the end result was… it was surprisingly edible. Okay, okay, it was quite yummy. 😀 I ate it with a half-cup of steam white rice and the spinach dish I was so excited about earlier. Now, please excuse me. I need to think of more things to do with dill.
We held a (belated) bridal shower for my friend, Janis, in Apartment #2. I love our reunions! We always talk too fast because we try to cram months of news within a few hours. 🙂
We had a MAJOR food fest. Ina and Chie brought steamed crabs, hot wings and yummy pork. Jovett brought the drinks. And I made heart-shaped strawberry milk cakes and a generous amount of the squash pasta pictured here.
We had a blast!
One of the many things I love about my friends is that we love eating. We set aside our diets during our get-togethers and just enjoy the company and the food. We never have “diet Cokes only” occasions!
The pasta also served as a pretty good brunch the next day. *licks lips* It can be a good side dish, part of a multi-course meal or can be eaten alone as a light lunch or dinner.
It’s Valentines Day. Or at least it was 48 minutes ago. But that’s not the only reason I tried this strawberry milk cake recipe from The Kitchn. The photos made it look so scrumptious that I’ve been obsessing about it for days and I figured that’s a valid enough reason to bake it. 🙂
I don’t usually buy strawberry milk unless either sibling – Jiko or Sofia – is around since they’re the only ones who like the artificial strawberry flavor. But I’m willing to put my doubts aside for the sake of experimentation.
The recipe is ridiculously easy. I made the cake itself in between breaks from watching The King’s Speech.
But I made a boo-boo with the frosting. Instead of using heavy whipped cream, I used heavy plain cream. The recipe didn’t specify but I should have known better. 😦 Still, the “frosting” made a very nice pale pink ganache.
I wasn’t able to bring Valentine goodies yesterday so I’m taking this to work tomorrow. I made two of these heart-shaped cakes. I’m sure Tita E would love to have this with her morning coffee.
I’m going to make this cake again for our all-girl get-together next week. But with whipped cream this time!
Friday night’s dinner had to be simple and quick. But “quick” and “simple” doesn’t have to mean taking the instant ramen out and having to tolerate the MSG overload. Or frying another pack of hotdogs and eating it with rice. So Dad took out the white fish fillet, sliced it, and fried it.
I borrowed the homemade teriyaki sauce recipe from Steamy Kitchen but changed it a little. Teriyaki sauce is supposed to be made of equal amounts of white cooking wine, soy sauce and sugar. I didn’t have the wine, thought it required too much soy sauce and would prefer to have less sugar.
The best part is the avocado dessert. Luckily, the avocados I bought last weekend had ripened and were just right for eating. Yum yum! Recipe for those in a hurry after the jump.
I haven’t posted here in ages not because I no longer want to cook but because I just came from vacation, got busy, experimented with a few duds that weren’t worth posting and because Dad started to get creative in the kitchen again and OF COURSE I have to eat what he cooks, which are mostly great but I can’t post them in my blog, right? *takes deep breath* Unless he guest-blogs.
Anyhoo, I kept a bunch of interesting recipes from Serious Eats that I wanted to try out. My co-worker, Tita E, picked the Chicken with Lemon recipe out of a pile and we started talking about how wonderful the chicken with lemon or orange dishes are from Chinese restaurants.
And that brought me back to the kitchen, chopping shallots and (just like the Nick from SE) wondering whether this simple recipe would yield the first blogworthy dish I cooked this year. When I was just starting to learn how to cook, one of the first recipes I tried was chicken with orange, coriander and ginger. Just the name sounded so horribly complicated to a kitchen noob and the process wasn’t that easy either. But I made that dish several times after the first try because it was just so addictive. (And it was one of the things I could do well, heehee.)
For the lemon chicken, I added a few very minor ingredients like ground coriander seeds and cilantro but stayed mostly faithful to the recipe. It looked good but the real test would come after the bite.
My eyes teared up a bit. It was definitely the lemoniest lemon chicken I have ever eaten. Beat that Peking! This so beats eating out! And now that I’m done ranting, here’s the recipe.
Credit to this recipe goes to Bella from Bitch & Bake. I’ve been dying to make it for MONTHS but as there is no pork in Saudi Arabia, I had to wait until I was home in the Philippines to try it. Since my vacation included the holidays, I chose it as one of the dishes for my family’s Christmas lunch.
For the marinade, I used white table wine instead of limeade, used a little bit more apricot preserve (Filipinos love sweet dishes), and went easy on the chili sauce since there would be children eating.
I had no idea how to buy pork and didn’t even know what the cuts are called. I knew I needed pork tenderloin but didn’t know what it was called in my native language (I had to know since we would be buying from the local market). I asked my mother and she wasn’t sure either.
Mom: Is it “lomo”? That’s what I usually buy.
Me: Er… I don’t know. Is it soft?
It turned out to be lomo. Hehe. I sliced them while still raw and laid them in rows in a rectangular baking pan before pouring the marinade all over it.
After 45 minutes, it was ready for us to enjoy!
You know what might be better? Letting the meat marinate in the sauce for 24 hours in the fridge before cooking. I might try that next time. But just as is, the whole thing was deelish!!! And it was so good to eat along with the rest of the Christmas dishes: Mom’s homemade ham, steamed brown rice with pandan leaves, seafood pasta sauce with spinach fettuccine (added squid and tuna to this recipe), and pumpkin spiced cake for dessert.
Leftovers are good, too, even when eaten straight from the fridge. It’s easy to guess what I had for lunch today. 🙂