Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Calamansi basil chicken with garlic parmesan brussels sprouts

My daughter is the biggest foodie in our family and she is constantly hungry. I can't blame her because I take her to every food event and her palette has grown over the years. She really won't settle for just any snack, especially on her days off from school. McDonalds and fast food isn't really her thing and she'd rather go to a food truck. But today was a great day...according to her. "Daddy, can you make me something!" OK, so what can I make for this little foodie that wouldn't take forever. I had some chicken breast thawing in the refrigerator and some brussels sprouts that I just picked up from the market. Luckily for me, our family isn't big on rice so it was perfect. But, she's all about flavors so I had to add a bit of kick to the chicken and do something with the brussels sprouts. 

So the plan was simple...make a nice pre-workout lunch for the both of us, take some photos, and post! It wasn't really my intention to make a blog post out of our lunch together but why not. So off she went to play Wii and back to the kitchen for me.

The ingredients were simple, and  I was limited since I didn't do my grocery shopping yet.

2 skinless chicken breasts (serves 2)
1 lb of brussels sprouts...ok...a couple of handfuls to be exact!
dried basil leaves
garlic powder
fresh parmesan
extra virgin olive oil
fresh calamansi
2 tbsp of vegetable oil

First I tenderize the chicken. All chicken whether whole or pieces should be put into a large bowl or a clean sink with cold water and a 1/2 a cup of salt. Leave for 20 minutes to half an hour and then rinse the chicken or chicken pieces well. This not only kills any bacteria on the chicken, but also tenderizes it. Drain your liquids and coat your breasts with olive oil. Next season with salt, pepper and dried basil leaves. Lastly, squeeze your fresh calamansi over your chicken. Save some calamansi  for might want a bit more zing. Make sure you preheat your oven to 350. Now in a oven safe skillet, brown both sides of your breasts in a tbsp of olive oil at medium heat for about 5 min per side. After browning, finish your chicken in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Make sure your internal temp is at 160 degrees.

Now for the brussels sprouts. Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any raggy outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and gently rub each half with olive oil, keeping it intact. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a few pinches of grated parmesan. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet on medium. Place the brussels sprouts flat side down for 5 minutes or until your edges have a slight browning. Next toss them in the skillet to get a little browning on the round side. I like them a bit bitter, and the more you cook them, the less bitter they become. Finally, take them off the heat and plate immediately. 

I'm sure there are more ways to cook the brussels sprouts but this was pretty simple and my dining partner definitely loved what she was eating. She took a few of breaks in between her Wii tennis match to sneak in a couple of bites. After taking a few bites myself, I started to offload pictures from my digital camera. I wasn't paying attention to my daughter but I knew that she wasn't playing her game. She couldn't be napping. I walked over to the table and she was munching away at our lunch. Was I mad, of course not. According to her, it was the best lunch she had ever had!

My dining partner

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from the Bay Area

Happy Thanksgiving from the Bay Area! For me, the best part of the holidays is when we get to share a meal with family and friends. From traditional dishes to original recipes, the table is always filled with delicious bites to be enjoyed the entire day. I usually have the responsibility of deep frying the turkey. Some believe that it's dangerous but only if you don't watch your fryer and let your dog loose in the back yard! If you do decide that deep frying is your route, be safe and keep a fire extinguisher handy. 

Enjoy the holidays and make sure to share some food with someone. If you have time, go out and volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen. There are a ton of people that aren't as fortunate as most and could really use your support. Happy holidays.

The buffet

Twice cooked crispy abobo wings

Lumpia Shanghi

The beautiful crabs

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Next Food Network Star audition and my tofu sisig recipe

I love sisig? 
Ok, so the name of my blog probably throws visitors off a bit. So I guess it's time to explain the name and logo behind all the magic. Sisig to me, represents the ultimate pulutan food...or finger foods eaten with alcohol and more specifically beer. It's crunchy, fatty, salty, sour, spicy, sweet and even a bit bitter. Almost representing every single thing I like about Filipino cuisine. And I love everything about Filipino food and what it that's where the heart in my logo comes from. Now the spoon in the fork symbolizes the big ass spoon and forks that are on every, ok maybe not every, Filipino households wall. Mine does at least! So there you have it. The story behind the name.

For an authentic sisig recipe and great write up on the origins and variations of sisig, read @CzarinaCleo article "How to Cook Sisig - Authentic Filipino Recipe Perfect with Beer"

The Challenge
I do live in Bay Area and we all know that we do things a bit different out here. So different and unique that the first ever vegan Filipino restaurant, No Worries,  was opened in Oakland to much success. It was the first time, I have ever experience Filipino food without having to eat real meat or seafood. This entire year, Twitter has really introduced me to great groups of people, especially food bloggers and foodies. Actually, because of social media, the first annual AstigVegan Challenge was born. The challenge for the competitors was to create a dish that was Filipino inspired but totally vegan. Ok, no problem right? Right? I'll just get some soy protein, simmer it in soy sauce vinegar with some garlic, bay leaves and pepper corn and presto...adobo! But that's the obvious type of $#!% you would expect. I wanted to come out and represent the foodie in me and also my brand! Yup....according to one of my Foodbuzz Festival blogger sessions, my blog is my brand. So vegan sisig it was. (OK, i wanted to get fancy, so I also came up with vegan binagoognan with vegan bagaoong conjured up by my good friend, Chef Dom Ainza of Mercury Lounge - recipe to follow later...I promise!)

Next Food Network Star meets Dinner impossible meets possible disaster
In order to have the texture and crunch that was needed for my recipe, I knew that the sisig had to be finished and plated at the event. Did, I mention that the potluck was outdoor at a park, with no outlets? No problem, they do it all the time on TV. So off we go, well after having deep fryer issues and packing up tables, catering trays and a whole bunch of necessary items. Did I mention that I forgot to pack some important utensils! Luckily RG had some to lend.

Didn't realize it was going to be a demo! yikes

So after an hour and a half  of traffic, we arrived a few hours late and just in time to do a cooking demo. Wasn't planned but since I was the last person there and all of the other dishes already eaten, my first official cooking demo was scheduled! Luckily my bro-in law John was on hand to lend his culinary expertise and food prep skills during the demo.

added pressure from tweeter @R1Chsy
Coming up with the recipe was easier than I thought. The night before, we tried a couple of different techniques like batter and panko, but we decided to keep it simple.

2 packages of Extra Firm tofu - use more if you have a large party
1 onion diced
1 bundle of cilantro (chopped)
2 medium sized jalapenos (julienned)
1/2 cup of Sukang Maasim (cane vinegar)
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
Philippine sea salt (I had some so I used it)
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
Fresh Calamansi - the more the better.

Drain the liquid out of the tofu packages and slice into 1/2 inch patties. Using a deep fryer set to 375 without the basket, place your tofu patties into your oil until crispy and golden. (We deep fried our tofu before we left of course) Feel free to pan fry your tofu if a deep fryer isn't an option. Now set aside to dry and make sure to salt to taste. Now mix all your ingredients together, minus the onions, in a large bowl and marinate for a few minutes. In a large pan, saute your onions for approximately 5 minutes.(You can saute for less if you want a bitter taste) Finally, mix in the rest of the ingredients and heat for about 2 minutes. Presto you are ready to serve! Depending on your taste, you can add calamansi to your marinade as well. You can never go wrong with calamansi and sisig.

30 seconds remaining!
Finishing with the calamansi
So in less than a hour, we set up, cooked, plated and served. I must admit, there was a ton of pressure especially with people over your shoulder and in your face. We were too late for the judging but definitely in time to share and satisfy peoples bellies. And that's what I love about sisig. It's meant to be shared and enjoy with family, friends and even a few strangers.

First time vegan and filipino food diners
Time to eat
The event was awesome and it was great to meet  RG of AstigVegan and share food with all the attendees. I can't wait till our next event, who knows...maybe I'll try to do a vegan lechon kawali. Check back soon for my vegan binagoongan recipe. BTW, I will definitely not be trying out for The Next Food Network Star. It wouldn't be fair :)

Vegan binagoognan photo courtesy of AstigVegan
Astig Vegan
twitter: @astigvegan

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Low carb, sugar free steel cut oat champorado

For a year, my weekday breakfasts have consisted of non-fat cottage cheese and blue berries. Not very exciting at all especially considering I look at myself as a foodie. I have definitely grown to accept my healthy breakfast and sometimes I even imagine it being a bowl full of sisig. But who cares, just as long as it gets me closer to my high school body. Do I crave anything else for breakfast? Of course I do, but I won't risk increased blood sugar and pre-diabetes to satisfy my appetite. Filipino food is my passion, and yes, sometimes the dishes call for ingredients that are not that great for diabetics or people trying to go for a low carb high protein diet. But that shouldn't stop you from adapting the recipes to suit your needs or stay within your dietary guidelines.

Steel Cut Oat Champorado
One of my favorite breakfasts growing up was champorado. Champorado is a sweet chocolate rice porridge in Philippine cuisine. It is traditionally made by boiling sticky rice with cocoa powder, giving it a distinctly brown color and usually with milk and sugar to make it taste sweeter. In our household, we don't really eat white rice. I know, send in the Pinoy police! Restaurants give me crazy looks every time we skip the rice. Anyway, I still wanted to enjoy champorado, but come up with a simple alternative that was sugar free, low carb and had some protein value. The solution was actually an accident. My wife was baking gluten free, sugar-free, vegan chocolate chip cookies. So I stole some of the chips and threw them into my pot of steel cut oats! Bam...I'm a friggen genius. Ok maybe not but pretty close right?

Steel-cut oats are inherently full of nutritional value and are high in B-vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber while low in salt and unsaturated fat. Don't use regular instant or rolled oats because they have been processed and aren't as nutty and chewy than steel cut.


1 cup of steel cut oats
1/2 cup of sugar free dark chocolate chips - use whatever chocolate you like...sugar conscious foodies should stick with the sugar free chocolate.
tsp of salt
3 cups of water


Bring 3 cups of water to a boil then add 1 tsp of salt. Mix in your oats and reduce to a simmer. Continually stir your oats for about 20-25 minutes. Turn your heat off and mix in your chocolate until you get a uniform consistency. Now your ready to serve. You can add condensed milk or non-fat milk to your champorado and even garnish with some dried fish depending on your sodium restrictions.
I know, I know, this isn't traditional champorado, but who cares! You'll be able to enjoy my healthier version and your body and your diet will thank me later.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kare Kare: My favorite Filipino food memory...and recipe of course

Hello all. I've been pretty busy lately, working on a few projects with my foodie friends, and I have been meaning to finish around 10 blog post drafts dating back to June. Anyway, I decided to share a recipe with you, but more of a memory from my childhood. Growing up, both my parents worked full-time jobs and my grandparents took care of me during the day. Food wise, grandma always gave me pandesal with a little ham and cheese or champorado and tuyo for breakfast. Sometimes, I even had garlic fried rice, spam fried egg...I was down with spamsilog 30 years ago! Grandma always cooked delicious Filipino food and I could tell that she loved what she was doing. The smells and aromas coming from the kitchen around 3:30 everyday made me float like I was in heaven. I couldn't help but peak at what was going on in her lair. My grandpa, lovingly,  would be helping open and shave coconuts or peeling slicing mangoes, while grandma was chopping vegetables and getting all her ingredients together. What had to be my favorite sound,  would be the hissing coming from the pressure cooker. I knew what was going down for dinner that night when I heard that whistling. "Grandma, are we having kuree kuree? YAY!". I couldn't wait for dinner to come. The tender fall off the bone oxtail meat, peanut sauce, veggies brought together by fermented shrimp paste (bagaoong), would have me back for seconds and definitely straight to bed afterwards. Ever since I was a kid, grandmas kare - kare was the best anywhere. I really never tried the dish at a restaurant until recently.
So my goal was to try to recreate that magic that came from my grandmas kitchen so I could share it with my family.
OX Tail
The supporting cast
 Ingredients for Kare Kare ni Fred

1 lb beef sirloin cut into cubes (add the sirloin for more servings...oxtail is expensive)
2 lbs oxtail, cut 2 inch long (1 package pre-cut is fine)
3 cups of peanut butter
1 large onion, diced
2 heads of garlic, minced
1 tsp achiote  powder
1/2 lb eggplant, sliced 1 inch thick
1 bundle (Bok choy)
1 bundle of sitaw (string beans) cut these to your liking
1/4 cup oil
8 cups of water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cooked bagoong

  1. I will be using my electric pressure cooker that I picked up from HSN. This nifty appliance is great for great home cooked meals that usually take hours to prepare. 
  2. Place your meats in your pressure cooker and add 2 cups of water with 1 beef bullion cube, dissolved of course. Put the cover on and seal. My WGP (Wolfgang Puck) pressure cooker takes about 30 minutes for the oxtail. If you don't have a pressure cooker, use a large enough pot, bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours.
  3. Next remove your beef from your broth and set aside. If you are using a traditional stove top pressure cooker, you can continue to cook your kare-kare in the same pot.If you are using an electric one, transfer the broth to a large pot. 
  4. Now in a pan, saute your garlic and onions in the peanut oil. I actually brown my oxtails a bit at this point. 
  5. Transfer your oxtail, onions and garlic to you large pot. Add your peanut butter and achiote powder and simmer for 5 minutes. Throw in your veggies and simmer for an additional 7 minutes while you continue to mix your pot of gold while you wait. 
Not quite ready
Ready to enjoy. 

You'll know when its done. I wait for the sauce to gain a thicker consistency before I take it off the heat.

So that's my Kare Kare! Not exactly my grandmas recipe and probably not like your recipe either. All I know is that when my little 5 year old hears the pressure cooker going and smells the food simmering together on the stove she screams...."Dad, are we having kuree kuree?YAY!" just like her daddy used to say. Enjoy

For a Low Carb option, try using brown rice or Quinoa.

Kare Kare ni Fred
Me and Grandma