Thursday, May 19, 2005

[Recipe] Home Made Pizza Crust

This is a very simple pizza crust recipe that we used to make when I was small. That was before ready-made pizza crusts became popular in groceries. We didn't have any dough kneader back then and we would do it the old fashion way. We would sprinkle the table or a kneading board with some flour and take turns on kneading the dough until it becomes elastic. My mother taught me how to knead it by hand but now I use an electric hand mixer with dough hooks. I just recently swapped my electric mixer with my father because his was more heavy duty (I forgot the brand but we had it for so long now that I can't even remember anymore and it still works great!) and I managed to snap one of the dough hooks with mine and couldn't get a replacement (I was making bread at the time). I think he is very happy with the swap since mine had a stand and a rotating bowl.

I have always liked baking bread. All the kneading and waiting for the dough to rise might be considered as time consuming by some but I feel that it is almost therapeutic for me - I think of it as relaxation time to relieve stress. We would make very thin crusts and ones with interesting shapes. We would make large batches, bake them and store them in the refrigerator (hmm although it might be better to store them in the freezer). It has been a long time since I made bread and I kind of miss it. Maybe I will make some this weekend.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (flour is not packed when measuring)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

Sift the flour together with the salt.
Place yeast in lukewarm water and let stand for about 2 minutes.
On a flour board (or on a clean table top if you don't have a flour board), make a well on a mound of flour and pour yeast mixture at the center.
Mix with hands and form mixture into a ball.
Knead the dough well until consistency is elastic when pulled apart (stretches before it breaks).
You could try doing the pizza toss if it is elastic enough hehe.
Form into a ball again and brush with oil. place in a bowl and cover in with damp cloth. Set aside in a warm place.
Let dough rise for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough becomes double in size (this will depend on how active the yeast is).
After the dough has doubled in size, place it on the flour board and punch the dough in the center to let the excess gas out.
Roll into about a foot long and divide into 8 equal parts. Form each segment as a ball.
On a flour board, use a rolling pin to flatten out each piece to the thickness desired (we like to make really thin ones, the challenge was how to peel it off the flour board but if it was kneaded thoroughly it will be elastic enough not to break when peeled off).
Preheat oven to 425ºF
Place in greased pans and cook until bottom of the crust becomes very light brown (you need to bake it before doing the toppings so that the crust will be crispy).
Top with favorite sauce and topping. Enjoy. Eat moderately. hehe.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

[Recipe] Brown Sugar Drop Cookies



When we were young, my mom used to make these during Christmas to give to our friends and teachers as gifts. It's very easy to make and yet tastes quite good. The dough gets very thick at the end so it will be difficult if you do not have an electric mixer. Don't forget to space the cookie dough in the cookie sheet since the cookie will still spread to avoid "sticking" with the adjacent cookies.



Ingredients:
2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups brown sugar (note that when measuring brown sugar it must be packed)
6 eggs
6 cups flour (flour is not packed when measuring)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons boiling water (you could make this at the end of the preparation)
(note that this recipe is a bit large since my mother liked to make large batches. Divide all ingredients by two if you want a smaller batch)
Directions:
Sift the flour with salt and baking soda. In a separate mixing bowl, add the sugar and the oil
add eggs (unbeaten) one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Add flour mixture a little amount at a time (about 4 tablespoons) mixing thoroughly each time. After each addition of the flour mixture, the mixture will be very sticky. When it becomes too thick, add the boiling water to make mixing easier then add the remaining flour mixture.

Pre-heat oven to 375ºF

On a greased cookie sheet (Thin cookie sheets are preferable than the normal baking pans), place teaspoon sized drops of the batter mixture spaced evenly. Make sure you have enough space in between and from the side of the pan (it will spread during cooking). It is best if you have a 2 level oven to use 3 cookie sheets so you could use 2 in the oven and preparing one sheet at any given time (for large batches). Cook until edges of cookie turns light brown. It may be necessary to reverse the tray position to ensure even cooking (depends on oven, our oven doesn't heat that evenly). Once cooked, remove the cookies from the sheet right away since once it gets too cold it will be harder to get them off. Use a metal spatula or turner to get the cookies (or a rubber spatula if using non-stick pans). It may be a little soft when freshly baked but would harden after cooling. Cool by stacking on a rack or plate. You can store them by placing them in self sealing plastic bags. Some variations on the recipe could be done by adding raisins, nuts or M&M's on top to add more color and flavor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

[Recipe] Orange Butter Cake

This butter cake recipe is easy to make. My mother used to bake this cake when we were little but my father does most of the baking these days. Even my niece knows how to bake this cake. I'm not really a cake baking person but I have baked this on several occasions. I remember this one time when we were children, each of us attempted to bake a cake. My brother and I each made an orange cake and my sister baked a chocolate cake. My brother's cake was dense and flat. Mine wasn't any better (I remember eating it anyway and enjoyed it). My sister's cake however was like an erupting volcano complete with chocolate fudge oozing from the top. :)

Ingredients:

3 cups cake flour (decrease by 1/4 cup if using all purpose - self rising flour not suitable)
2 eggs (room temperature)
3 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup shortening (normally I use butter)
1 2/3 cup white sugar (white sugar is not packed when measuring)
1 cup orange juice (Orange Soda is also fine)
1/2 cup milk

Directions:
Cakes tend to fail when instructions are not fully followed. Note that folding is a mixing technique used when mixing cakes to introduce air gradually in the mixture. Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt (note that sifting may not be necessary for breads and cookies but is essential when making light cakes). Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cream sugar and shortening on a mixing bowl. Add one egg at a time (unbeaten) folding in the mixture before adding the next. On the sugar-shortening-egg mixture, add a little sifted flour mixture then add a bit of orange juice alternating between the two. When the orange juice is added in the mixture completely, start with milk alternating with the flour as before. Note that it is important to start with the flour mixture and end with the flour mixture at the end, using up the liquid ingredients in between. Don't ask me why. I don't know. It's one of those mysteries of baking I suppose. hehe.

Mix in a folding motion until all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. You may want to clean the sides of the bowl from unmixed ingredients with a rubber spatula from time to time. Apply a very thin layer of shortening on a cake pan then dust lightly with flour until all are covered (do this even if using non-stick pans). The batter mixture will be enough for 2 8x8 inch pans. Tap the pans lightly on a flat surface to remove large bubbles from the mixture (it will cause unwanted swelling of the cake during baking - my sister baked a cake that looked like an erupting volcano once). Continue tapping until you observe no more big bubbles rising to the surface. Note that you should not overdo this, the small bubbles are essential for the cake to rise during baking. The cake will also not rise properly as a result of improper folding of the batter during mixing. Using orange soda actually helps.

Place in the center of the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not open oven until this time has elapsed! You could use a flashlight to monitor the baking from the outside. After 20 minutes, test the cake by placing a [clean!] wooden toothpick into the surface. The toothpick should come out clean if it the cake is done (no batter is sticking to the toothpick). The surface of the cake will have a golden orange appearance. Cool first before removing from the pan. Cut into 2" squares. It's good freshly baked but also good even if straight from the fridge as long as kept in an airtight container. In fact I prefer it cold, it tastes a little bland to me when freshly baked for some reason.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2005

[Recipe] Beer Basted Pork Pot Roast

A traditional dish in our family for Christmas or New Year. It replaces the traditional ham usually present at these feasts. My mother cooks pot roast during these special occasions as far back as I can remember. Her recipe is a bit different from mine (she uses Rum instead of dark beer) but my brother tells me my pot roast is a lot better than hers (err... shh... better not tell her that hehe).

Ingredients:
1 Kilo Pork Rump rounded off (with skin on top side)
1 medium sized onion (peeled and quartered)
2 bottles of dark beer
1 can of Sprite or 7-Up
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
3 teaspoon Salt
1 Bay Leaf
Cornstarch

Directions:
Place the rump in a large pot, fat side up (it is advisable to use a low rack so that the meat is not in direct contact with the bottom of the pot - such as the ones used for pressure cookers). Pour in the 2 bottles of dark beer and the can of softdrink. Add enough water so that the meat is fully submerged. Add the onions, Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce, Black Pepper, Salt, and Bayleaf to the pot. Cover the pot and place on high heat until it starts to boil. Lower the temperature and let it simmer for at least an hour. At the end of the hour, skewer the meat with a long tined fork (or a barbeque stick). If the fork easily goes through then the meat is cooked inside. If there is a strong resistance to the fork, let it simmer for about 15 more minutes or so.

It is important not to overcook the meat. The meat becomes flaky and it will be harder to slice later (did that once and the meat was so tender it was coming apart as it was being sliced). To ensure that the meat is cooked through, make a cut at the bottom of the raw meat wide and deep enough so that the center cooks faster. This will also ensure that the marinade reaches further resulting to a more flavourful pot roast. You may opt to cut the rump in two if it is really that big but it won't look as impressive at the dinner table.

Once the meat is cooked, set it aside and strain the liquid from the pot and boil this liquid further. Add the brown sugar and reduce by boiling to about a third of its original volume. Dissolve about a tablespoon of cornstarch in a half cup of cold water. Add the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce. Add more salt/pepper/sugar depending on your preference.

While waiting for the liquid to reduce (in the previous section) to its desired volume, remove the skin from the meat leaving a thin layer of fat at the top. Glaze the fat with brown sugar and place the meat on a rack and place it in an oven or electric broiler (~180ºC). Cook until the top is golden brown (at this point the sugar will caramelize on the fat layer). Before serving slice about half of the roast on the serving plate and place the beer sauce beside it. Eat and enjoy.

Ok I know it's not exactly "basted" as the title suggests but the name just sound so nice. I named it that way in tribute to the "Beer basted boar ribs" recipe in WoW. So sue me... :)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

[Recipe] Pancit Molo

Pancit Molo
Pancit Molo
Originally uploaded by Jepster.
Another favorite dish our family serves during special occasions. Traditionally, my mom would cook this for birthdays or similar special occasions. It's a very filling soup dish made from ground pork and chicken. It's a bit complicated to make but you can mix a huge batch of the meat mix then store it in the freezer in portions to thaw and prepare later. I have written this recipe with inputs from my brother. My brother and I attended a party right after Christmas and the news of how tasty his pancit molo was preceded him with some of the people there calling him the "Molo Man". Haha he doesn't know these people, they were friends from work but they came over for my birthday a few days before so they tasted his pancit molo already. There's a story floating around that one of my colleagues liked it so much that when he went home, he was raving about it to his wife. Unfortunately, he didn't know that she was planning that same dish for their Christmas feast. She decided to change the menu after hearing that. Wrapping the meat is somewhat time consuming so you can prepare this in advance and drop them into the pot to cook when it's near eating time giving it a few more minutes to simmer in the pot. And what if you are allergic to shrimp? Well, I feel so sorry for you. I really do.

Ingredients:
1/4 kilo Ground Pork
Spring Onions (chopped)
1 Egg
1 pack Molo/Wanton wrappers (50pcs)
100 grams Shrimps (shelled)
3 pcs Chicken Breasts
Chicken broth (or chicken bullion)
1 Clove of Garlic
2 medium sized Onions (finely chopped)
Ground Black Pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Molo
Molo
Originally uploaded by Jepster
.

Directions:
Place chicken breasts in a pot and cover it with just enough water so that all the pieces are submerged. Add a dash of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature after it boils and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from the pot. Sieve the liquid and set aside. Shred a chicken breast into strips and thoroughly mince the rest.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, minced chicken meat, egg, finely chopped onions, and spring onions (leave some for the broth later). Mash well adding salt and pepper (the amount would depend on individual tastes but I recomment 1 teaspoon of salt and about half a teaspoon of ground pepper).

To make the molo "heads", place a molo wrapper on a flat surface. Place about a heaping teaspoonful of the meat mixture near one corner of the wrapper. Imbed a piece of shrimp to each ball. Wrap the top part of the wrapper to the "meat ball" then the two sides, then roll downwards (please refer to the picture). The wrapped molo should resemble something like a tadpole. Make several of these heads. You can place the meat mixture back to the freezer and thaw it to use again.

To make the soup broth, Saute the garlic in minimal oil until golden. Remove garlic and pour in the liquid that was used to boil the chicken breasts adding more chicken broth or broth made from chicken bullion. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken strips, then drop the molo "heads" one at a time. Once cooked the molo heads will float. Add the remaining spring onion then simmer for 5 to 8 minutes more. DO NOT COVER! Serve piping hot.