Recipe Share: Baked Mozarella

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One of my recipes reminds me of how I do makeup, it's sort of a go-with-the-flow thing, just getting what I see in the fridge and trying to see what stuff I could magic out of. This recipe is quite easy and makes use of only few ingredients and a microwave oven, so this could be made in a jiffy. A little story on this, I woke up from a long nap and it was time to make dinner. As usual, pasta would be my default dish but I wanted something to go with it. The process of making this is an experiment actually turned nice.

This is a foolproof baked mozzarella version that's a great appetizer or a great snack served to guests without taking much time. It's yummy on its own or what I do, I sear up tortillas so there's something to balance it off.
Thanks TJ Cafuir for the photo.

So here's how to create this simple foodie, no complicated equipment needed.

What you need:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Thin slices of tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Thin slices of mozzarella cheese
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • sprinklings of salt and Italian Seasoning
  • A microwave-safe plate
  • A microwave oven

How to go about it:
  • Drizzle olive oil on the plate and spread it all out so it covers the plate so the mozzarella doesn't stick on the plate.
  • Line the plate with thin slices of mozzarella cheese. You could buy mozzarella per 100 grams in the local supermarket or deli and have them slice it for you.
  • Top with thin slices of fresh tomatoes and fresh basil.
  • Sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and Italian seasoning.
  • Chuck the plate on the microwave and microwave on low heat for a minute or just until the cheese bubbles but doesn't stick, shrink, and burn on the sides.
  • Let it cool a bit and serve with heated smoked ham or any of your favorite deli.

While at it, tortillas are best heated on a nonstick teflon pan on its own. Heat both sides until they're all nice and toast-ey. For more flavor, you could sprinkle the mozzarella with Parmesan cheese.

This is a fairly easy recipe that's a quick way to entertain guests without leaving them for a long time to slave yourself in the kitchen.

Happy Seafood and Fish Treats from Max's.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Although for forty days, I'd pass on the to-die-for Crispy Pata (literally to-die-for) and signature chicken, thank you so much for your seafood choices that you served to us last Monday. The rain and the chores I had at home didn't stop me. Although it was mainly Yeoh who egged me to go if I want to live to see the next day. Whaddya know? I didn't regret it.

Not only did the seafood/fish dishes make Lent less of a chore, but just in time for summer, when eating fresh yummy seafood reminds us of a beach picnic while we're in the concrete jungle.

Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet was a mixture of tasty and healthy. Before the guys took pictures, I already popped a bell pepper in my mouth so poor dish had to be angled. :P

Some are traumatized to eat bangus because a sliver of a fish bone is usually pried in the meat and you have to be OC and careful that no bone comes in contact with the esophagus. This one had nada tinik. Boneless bangus is really boneless. Yummy too even without the vinegar and atchara sidings.

My favorite would have to be a steaming hot pot of Sinigang na Hipon with crisp veggies, a hot, sour tamarind based broth, and bright orange crunchy shrimps. I love that this bowl wasn't stingy with shrimp. I'm a sucker for good shrimp, but these weren't crinkly, old, wrinkly tough shrimp. The shell could easily be peeled off the meat and it wasn't much effort to chuck out all the shells so I could devour them.

Guilty as charged!

Speaking of shrimp, another shrimp dish to behold is the Camaron Rebosado, which were shrimps (wheee) dipped in batter served with sweet and sour sauce. Sige na nga, hindi sya tempura. I thought it was tempura in the picture, but I forgot that tempura uses bread crumbs.

If anyone got hooked to the seafood bug and decided to sample out all the seafood dishes, be sure to get the special seafood fest frequency card, which rewards the bearer a Chicken-All-You-Can treat from Max's upon completion of all six stickers, which should be done in the time frame from March 8 to April 30, 2011.

I am totally serious on the Sinigang na Hipon and Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet that got me hauling seconds and thirds. So I think I know now where I'd be on Friday if I get too lazy to cook. :P

Lunching Solo

Resisting the urge to call delivery for sodium-ladden meals, since I've been spending lunch alone in the four corners of the unit I've been calling home, I just raided the ref and decided to be healthy.

Yesterday, I had salmon with lemon, capers, and a squish of lemon juice. I used smoked salmon here, a bit expensive, but I promised to have this only on special occasions, not to break a dent on the food bill because a little vacuum pack costs Php 231.00 for just a few slivers. I'm not talking big chunks here. However, salmon has quite a rich taste that too much could be horrible after I had a plateful of grilled salmon, so yes, it does make a point to have this only occasionally. Lemon and capers provide a good contrast too.

Since it was fat Tuesday, sige na nga, some pastrami slices na rin! Pastrami's an addicting one, I love peppered spicy smoky beef drizzled in mustard. Realizing I needed carbs because I'll be working and then working out at pole class, I went for the easiest thing I could find: cheapo toasted slices of white bread made sosyal by dipping it in olive oil+balsamic vinegar mix, just like in Italian restos.

Before they get all moldy, I finished up all the leftover strawberries. Thank God they were still okay.

Today was Ash Wednesday and since it's no-no to meat (except seafood today), saffron risotto wouldn't be a crime right? After all, that's just butter, onion, spices, water, saffron, and risotto. However, I found it too plain and I needed protein since I'm building muscle so I used slivers of smoked salmon and capers to put it on top. Didn't add the lemon na, sacrifice na ang lasang isda, fine!
I like how the capers provide contrast on color so it doesn't look like a swarm of warm colors.

It's prolly chore day today, and I'll take a few laps on the pool as soon as I clear the kitchen up. For a dish for one, the sink's quite a loadful.

Interpretations: Pork Chop with Red Onion Confit

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I allowed pork to enter my kitchen, but on the condition though that it go here in the style of fine French food.

Dinner today was an interpretation of one of the recipes in Laura Calder's French Food At Home, which I watch over at Asian Food Network. I found the dish simple and fuss-free with few simple key ingredients that could be found at your local supermarket. Oh, this is the Pork Chop and Red Onion Confit, and the recipe could be found here.

The confit was the first one I made. The trick was to slice the red onion really, really thinly so it resembles noodles and fry it in hot butter seasoned with salt and pepper before splashing it with balsamic vinegar until it gets this deep color. I set it aside and keep it warm.

The chops on the other hand, I made a mistake of choosing chops that were super lean, since I needed a bit of marbling on the fat so that the meat cooks in its own fat. However, a little hot butter was my as i fried it for 5 minutes on each side until the pork cooks through but not too tough. I like pork while it's golden and falls right off the bone. The sugar in the recipe was used to sprinkle each side of the meat as it fries so it comes out in that nice golden color. Then I present it in the plate and top it with confit.

The confit has a strong but sweet flavor which is the perfect accompaniment to the pork chop. I didn't use sauce for this but cook the chop just right and juicy and it would go perfectly with the confit.
As for the salad, since onions fried in rich butter and pork are rich on their own, we needed something light and tangy. The salad was made of parmesan and parsley but since I'm far reach from a grocery, I used another sharp-flavored fresh herb, which was fresh basil and a cheddar slice since my parmesan's the pre-grated one, and I needed something that's sharp.

I'm searching for another recipe to cook the two chops remaining in the ref. I'm sure there's one here somewhere.

How I Spent Chinese New Year With Chowking

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chinese New Year is suddenly becoming one big celebration here in the Philippines. Somehow, we've embraced already the traditions of having dragon dances, having tikoy for breakfast, and all that. Not really following tradition, I'm not the type to follow those to the letter but I do enjoy the occasional tikoy for breakfast or wearing red. Red, after all is my favorite lucky color that never failed me.

Chowking, one of my favorite fast food chains that turned me to a convert at first bite invited me to celebrate Chinese New Year with them in an event that would also showcase their dishes. Of course it was something I couldn't say no to because, I love Chowking and I absolutely have no excuse that it's too far as the venue, Mercato Centrale, is just a hop and a skip away from where I live.

Come that day, I dropped by Kell's office since I told him we'd go together and meet our blogger friends there as I didn't want to go there alone. Kell was happy to oblige going there and had me bugging to get myself there at High Street as he was had at "hosted by Kim Chiu". We met up with the rest of the guys at Mercato where we proceeded to munch on chicharap and siomai while at it.

The event started off with the traditional and oh-so-cute dragon dance with matching mini-fireworks.

Dragon dances are quite popular during Chinese New Year, seeing them in malls and streets as a main attraction. Apparently, Chinese New Year Dragons represent luck and the Chinese Dragon, if my understanding through a bit of googling and reasearch would be correct, ushers in good luck and success in the year ahead for all human beings. The dragon dance also is something like a rain dance, to bring in rainfall, since dragons are believed to be the governors of rainfall (Not too much Mr. Dragon, though, let Mr. Sunshine do his thing too).

After which, we proceded to the dining area, decked in the lucky color of red. After introductions were made by the lovely host, Lyn Ching, we were introduced to the father-and-son team of Chefs Gene and Gino Gonzales who demonstrated to us the old-school way of making famous Chinese dishes like sweet and sour pork, orange chicken, and beef with broccoli.

Chef Gene Gonzales explains to us how to rock that sweet and sour pork. Sadly, I didn't have a pen with me that time because I will be scribbling quickly all his tips, so I relied on memory to retain his pointers namely:
  • In orange chicken and sweet and sour pork, it simply works this way, you bread and fry the meat and dump it in the glaze. However, it's not all that. You need to make sure that the meat is drained and hot before dumping it in the hot glaze. Yep, both need to be hot so the flavors are absorbed.
  • I normally have a problem with my broccoli wilting midway while cooking. The solution apparently was to blanch the broccoli first for a minute in boiling water then douse it with icy water to get that bright green color and make it all crispy and crunchy and add it to the later part of cooking. That explains the bright green crispy broccoli the experts make.
  • In beef, the secret is not to overcook the beef, since overcooking the beef makes it tough. As we add the sauce, the beef at that time is slightly browned but not thoroughly cooked so there's time for the beef to cook and absorb the flavours of the sauces.
Chinese cooking apparently is a science, meaning it's not just dunking in ingredients together. Chef Gene explains that it's actually layers of flavors and amino acids coming together in harmony. It's a bit easy, but somehow complicated, quite hard for me to substitute just to get it right. There's a specific time to put in the glaze, the right temperature, and the right melding of textures, so we get to savor each flavor and texture. Who says Chinese food was boring, right?

After the demo, Chowking ambassadors come out with signature Chowking dishes to see how our favorite Chinese fast food fares with those cooked by the experts.

Here's Kim Chiu with sweet and sour pork

Our favorite leading man Jericho Rosales presents beef with broccoli to the experts. After all three dishes were demonstrated, the audience of course, won't go out without being fed of course.

The orange chicken totally had a lot of improvement from when I first ordered it. Personally, when I first tasted orange chicken, I remember being oh-so-excited about it since it was one of my favorite Chinese dishes. When I finally got to try it, I found the flavor a bit too strong, almost like I was eating citrusy dishwashing detergent. I'm glad Chowking improved the formula so the tangy taste has mellowed down to something more fruity and I could still taste the chicken as well. I like that the breading was crispy.

Among the three dishes, the Beef With Broccoli happens to be my favorite among all three, since I like how tender the beef was. The sauce is also amazing with the Chicharap.

Sweet and sour pork was divine, and take note that I'm not a pork fan. I like that the pork was of fine quality, tender, and melded well with the sauce. The breading was still crisp instead of soggy being soaked with the sauce and on top of that, everything was served hot.

Of course how would an event be without pictures with the stars, right?

Me with Kim Chiu. Believe it or not, I used to be as fair-skinned as she is till the pool and beach found me.
Could definitely not pass an opportunity to have a picture with Jericho Rosales. I. Could. Die. Now. Thanks Russel for obliging to my fangirl mode.

But of course Kell who was the happiest guy of the night.
In all our years of being friends, he has never had a smile that wide. EVER. Russel took a better photo of course, but I stayed as a backup photographer for my dear friend.

The guys and I had fun at the event, and sure enough, we were definitely going to Chowking again. In fact, I tried my hand on orange chicken just yesterday, but I must say, that the one I ordered last Saturday at Chowking Pioneer rivals the home-cooked one I made a few days ago.