Thai Iced Tea

Another beverage Miguel (see About) and I both enjoy having! I began my love affair with Thai Iced Tea when I was away for college in San Francisco, CA. It was soooo good I found myself having 2 orders of it each time, at one of my favorite “hole-in-a-wall” restaurants up on Geary Boulevard. I suppose Miguel developed his love for this while he was growing in my stomach. I, of course, couldn’t indulge as much while pregnant. This is my version using a thick 21-ounce glass. It may seem like too much sweetness when you look at the ingredients, but it does taste incredibly good! It’s a perfect balance since I make the tea quite strong.

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Thai Tea Mix and Tea Sock

NOTE: I don’t recommend using tea strainers as I find the tea leaves seeping out when you pour the hot water over them. I tried doing it once about a year ago when a couple of friends came over, and it was quite a disaster! (I was lazy to search for my tea sock and even used a thin, crystal pitcher – what was I thinking???) You may use a traditional coffee or iced tea machine for this as well.

Yield: 1 full 21-ounce glass.

*Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Heaping Tbsp Thai Iced Tea Mix
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water
  • 2 Tbsp Condensed Milk
  • Ice Cubes (or Crushed)
  • Milk

 

*Directions:

Boil water. Place sugar in a glass. Spoon in tea mix in tea sock. Carefully pour in the boiling water over the tea leaves, filling the glass halfway. Submerge the sock in the glass with the tea leaves for about half a minute. The color should be very deep. I suggest to not steep too long as it gives a burnt flavor. Lift sock and carefully twist to release remaining liquid. Discard. Stir in condensed milk. Add ice to leaving some space for the milk. Pour in milk. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Japanese Style Pancakes

These thick and yummy pancakes are quite popular nowadays. Miguel (see About) even fell in line for half an hour at a famous restaurant in Tokyo just to have them! I personally prefer waffles, but this is also a good recipe to try.

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Japanese Pancake Mix (comes in 4 individually packed 1 cup servings)

 

 

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Japanese Mayonnaise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yield: 2″ thick pancakes (using a 4″ mold) or 1 Hungry Miguel (see About).

*Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Japanese Pancake Flour (see photo above)
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt (optional)
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp. Japanese Mayonnaise (see photo above)
  • Strawberries and/or Blueberries 
  • Butter
  • Maple Syrup

*If you don’t have the ingredients on hand and feel like making one from scratch:

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder 
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt (optional)
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp. Japanese Mayonnaise

 

*Directions:

Sift pancake mix, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the pancake mixture and pour in the liquid. Drop in mayonnaise (It will have a smell but don’t worry, it will go away when cooked. The mayonnaise is the ingredient that will make the pancake light and fluffy), and combine. Heat a nonstick pan on low. Place a greased ring mould in the center. (If you have two molds on hand, use a pan that can accommodate both moulds so you can cook both of them at the same time). Pour in the batter 3/4 of the way to give room for the pancake to rise (about 15 minutes). Cover. Once the small bubbles appear, flip the pancake to cook the other side. Leave for another 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the sides of the ring mold to loosen the pancake. Unmold then top with your preferred fruit and sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired). Serve immediately and enjoy!

Note: Flipping takes a bit of practice as the batter can run out when you’re not used to it. Wearing heat proof gloves (not mitts) really does help. If you have no gloves on hand, you may also lift the pan, flip it carefully while assisting the ring mold with a kitchen tong. 

Hot Chocolate

If there’s one thing I enjoy having, it’s a cup of hot chocolate! I find it so comforting and it really puts a big smile on my face. My most favorite of all is the one from Angelina in Paris. Miguel (see About) prefers the Spanish ones but this one is at the top of my list! This is how I prepare my cup:

*Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 Tbsp Angelina Hot Chocolate Powder
  • 1 tsp Sugar

 

*Directions:

Heat heavy cream in a pot with the sugar on medium heat. Once the cream begins to boil, put heat on low and add hot chocolate powder and whisk gently until combined. Simmer until thick. Serve immediately and enjoy. 

 

Bruschetta on Sourdough

The Italian verb, “buscare” means to “roast over coals”, and “busciare”, means to burn or toast. An antipasto, the original, unadorned way of serving “bruschetta”, is with grilled bread rubbed with some garlic and topped with olive oil and salt. A popular variation is adding tomatoes. In other ways, it  may be topped with some vegetables, meats, or cheese.

Each time I find beautiful tomatoes at the weekend market, I make these the minute I get home. My eyes close every time and have this big satisfaction with every bite! Yummy!!!

Yield: 2 servings

*Ingredients:

  • 4 Fresh, Ripened Tomatoes – washed and chopped 
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped plus 1 Garlic Clove, Halved
  • Basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4 Slices of Good Sourdough Bread
  • Salt and Pepper

 

*Directions:

Combine tomatoes, chopped garlic and basil leaves and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Slice sourdough about 1/2-3/4″ thick. Toast. Rub halved garlic and top with tomatoes. Serve and enjoy! 

 

Pineapple and Shrimp Fried Rice

A tropical flavored dish, it’s quick and easy to make! You may remove the shrimps for a vegan dish. Miguel loves this so much he even brings it with him to school! Although it adds color to the dish, Miguel and I are not too fond of adding peas and carrots in our fried rice, so I put it as an “option” in the recipe below.

*Yield: 4 servings or 2 hungry Miguels (see About).

*Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 250grams Shrimps, Peeled and Deveined
  • 2 Tbsps Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Fresh Pineapple (canned may be used too. Just drain liquid)
  • 1 tsp. Ginger, Minced
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, Sliced Thinly
  • 2 Stalks Green Onions, Chopped
  • 2 tsp Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 3 Large Eggs, Lightly Beaten With about 2 tsp Seasoning Sauce
  • 2 Cups Day Old Rice
  • 1 Cup peas and carrots (optional)
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Seasoning Sauce, to taste (optional)
  • Oyster Sauce, to taste (optional)

 

*Directions:

Heat wok or a large pan on medium high heat. Pour 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Add shrimps and stir fry until it changes color. Remove from pan and set aside. Add about another tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir in pineapple, ginger, onions, green onions, garlic, and curry powder. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and push aside. Add the remaining vegetable oil and pour in beaten egg mixture. Once eggs are cooked, pour in rice and combine with vegetables on the side of the pan. Add shrimps, (peas and carrots), and continue to combine. Season with salt and pepper, a bit of Sriracha (if you wish to add a bit more heat), and more seasoning sauce and/or oyster sauce, if desired. Plate and serve immediately. You may squeeze some lime juice, if preferred. 

 

Le Trofie Al Pesto

The word “pesto”, came from the Italian verb, pestare”, means to crush, grind, or pound. This really simple herb composition is made from fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, emulsified in good quality extra virgin olive oil. Pesto came from the Northern region of Italy, and is often served with TROFIE pasta. I personally like it with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Yield: This sauce is good for about 250g (1/2 pound) of pasta. 

*Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (loosely packed basil leaves)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

 

*Directions:

Place pine nuts, garlic cloves, and cheese in a food processor. While the machine is running, slowly pour in the olive oil and emulsify. It should come out like a thick paste. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Use within a week. Cook pasta as directed. Toss pesto sauce with your choice of pasta in a bowl. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. If not using immediately, heat a pan and add some olive oil. Place prepared pesto sauce and heat. Add in pasta and toss until combined. Plate and serve. Enjoy! 

Traditional Cheese Fondue

CHEESE fondue! I introduced Miguel (see about) to this dish when he was in his adolescent years. He enjoyed it so much we ended up having it every weekend for a month! We normally just have it with really good toasted bread (then we get food coma), but sometimes adding sausages, cured meats, and fruits on the side make a good variation as well. YUMMMM!!!

Yield: Serves 4-6 or 2 Hungry Miguels and Mom (see About).

*Ingredients:

  • 1 Garlic Clove, Halved
  • 1 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch 
  • 2 tsp. Kirsch
  • 2-3 Cups Emmental, grated
  • 2-3 Cups Gruyère, grated
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper
  • A loaf of really good quality bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

 

*Directions:

Rub the halved garlic in a heavy pot, (or if you have one, a fondue pot). Discard garlic. Heat pot on medium heat. Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch with the kirsch. Once the pot is hot enough, pour the white wine and simmer. Gradually toss in the grated cheese, a handful at a time, to the heated wine. Stir constantly in a “zigzag” pattern, not in a circular motion, as you don’t want it to ball up. (If this happens, just squeeze a bit of lemon juice to loosen the mixture). Do not allow the cheese to boil. If your pot becomes too hot, lower the heat to medium low or low. Continue to stir until thick. This will take about 5-8 minutes. Stir in grated nutmeg, and crushed black pepper. If using a different pot for cooking, transfer to a fondue pot and serve immediately with bread for dipping. Enjoy!

Note: Have the left over wine with your fondue. Swiss folklore says, “Don’t drink water, beer or juice. Have wine, kirsch, or herbal tea instead with your meal as the cheese will ball up in your stomach and will cause indigestion”.

 

 

 

Buckwheat Pancakes

A healthier alternative to regular pancakes, it is equally as good if not better. I love the flavor of buckwheat flour. It goes perfect with real maple syrup and French butter!

Yield: 2 Servings (about 4 pancakes) or 2 not so Hungry Miguels (see About). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter, Melted
  • 6 Tbsp. All Purpose Flour
  • 6 Tbsp. Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 Tsp. White Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. In a separate bowl, mix buckwheat and all purpose flour together with the sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pour over wet ingredients. Stir to combine well. Heat a pan (or griddle) to medium high heat and place about a tablespoon of butter. Melt then ladle in the batter. Allow to form bubbles then flip. Continue until the batter is finished. Serve and enjoy! 

Moules Mariniére

Moules… Mussels… An inexpensive ingredient that turns into magic when prepared with shallots and white wine. This dish dates as far back as 1235 when an Irishman became famous for the upbringing of mussels in wooden planks. Traditionally served with “pomme frites” (french fries), this popular French (and Belgian) dish is served up to 400 tons in a week during a yearly market festival at Lille, France. Rich in vitamin B12 (for making red blood cells), manganese (enzymatic function, bone formation, and metabolic function), iron (hemoglobin and help support immune function), vitamin C (to help absorb iron), and high quality and complete protein, this mussel dish is a must try! Here’s my version:

 

Yield: Serves 4 or 2 Hungry Miguels and Mom (see About).

 

*Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 Kilograms (3-4 pounds) Mussels, Soaked and Cleaned Thoroughly
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Shallots, Chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. Plus 2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, Chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/4 Tsp. Dried Thyme
  • 2 Cups White Wine
  • 4 Ounces Cooking Cream (optional)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Butter, Divided
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (optional)

 

*Directions:

Heat a deep pan that will fit all the mussels. Melt butter and add chopped onions, garlic, 4 tablespoons parsley, bay leaves, and thyme. Sauté and pour in the mussels and white wine. Cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Open and add cream and remaining parsley. Stir and cover to cook for another minute or so. Remove mussels and place in a serving bowl or a moules pan. Pour sauce and serve immediately with toasted baguette. Enjoy!

Note: I no longer season this dish with salt and pepper as the mussels have their natural saltiness. You may opt to flavor yours further if you wish.

Torchons

I am addicted to online shopping! I see so many things that I would have reasons and excuses to buy. At times, I stay up till the wee hours of the morning, looking at so many sites! It’s sometimes a good thing, and most times… DANGEROUS!  

I found these 1930’s “torchons” online and I just had to have them! They’re pretty difficult to get nowadays and I was so glad I came across them. They will be most useful in my kitchen! “Torchons”, means cloth in French. Commonly called tea towels, there are many uses for them aside from drying dishes. Cooking “au torchon“, means, wrapping food in the cloth and tied securely with a kitchen string. (Cheesecloth is a widely used method). The food item may then be marinated, poached, or both. Using this method shapes the food and when used with ingredients such as foie gras, it stops all the fat from seeping out during the cooking process. They’re widely used in French dishes from vegetables to meats. (A side note: In Belgium, the word “torchon” refers to a RAG to clean the floors with!). Torchons come in different materials such as lace, linen, hemp, and other natural fibers. Natural fibers soften as it ages. Truly wonderful!

I find that wrapping vegetables and other produce keep longer than if kept in plastic wrap when stored in the refrigerator. I also noticed that they are widely used in food photography photos as well. It seems to give that softness and warmth.

This seller went the extra mile as she even sent candies as a “thank you” for my purchase from her shop. It really was such a nice touch! From my experience, smaller stores in Europe tend to still give that “extra touch” of writing to their customers when they send out the packages. It really gives a personal touch. High end boutiques still do it when you physically shop with them by sending you small handwritten notes through mail, but shopping online means the interaction is not physical, therefore, it gives the customer a wonderful feeling once they’ve received their item(s). This old marketing trick never fails. (It more than made up for the heavy taxes). I still love receiving handwritten notes from stores. If I had my own shop, I would probably be doing the same thing! 

Going back to the torchons, I found these “hard to come by” linen cloth 11 meters in length, uncut, and like new despite its age! (It came from an old farmhouse in France. I’m guessing the owner bought a whole bundle and would cut the fabric as needed). How exciting! I am looking forward to having them sewn so I can begin using them. With 11 meters, I believe I can have at least a dozen large size “torchons”. I’m thinking of sharing them with a few friends who love to be in their kitchens like me! As to packaging it, I have some ideas brewing and will update you…