A Taste of Greece

Greece has always been at the top of my bucket list.  The Mediterranean has always fascinated me.  I only had a couple of opportunities to wander through some of the countries bordering its seas – Italy and a teeny-weeny bit of Spain to be exact. One day I came across this post.  It not only revived my fascination for the Mediterranean — more specifically Greece, it had me craving for some Greek food too.  And since souvlaki is only the most popular Greek food, I thought of savoring a bit of Greece by re-creating Jen’s souvlaki recipe.  Although souvlakis are usually small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer, I pan-fried mine and did away with the skewer.  And instead of pita, I topped it on my basmati rice.  Equally as yum.

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Souvlaki

  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup Greek or plain yogurt
  • 300g. boneless chicken breast cut into cubes

Here’s 2 ways to do this:

  • In a large glass bowl, mix together lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, yogurt and garlic; add chicken (or pork / lamb) and stir to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Option 1: the traditional way

  • Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers.
  • Lightly oil grate. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or to desired doneness, turning skewers frequently for even cooking.

Option 2:  If like me, you don’t own a grill

  • Lightly oil pan or a cast iron grill pan with a little bit of olive oil.
  • Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes or to desired doneness.

Because the enzymes of the yogurt helped tenderize the meat, this chicken was moist, juicy and very flavorful to boot.

Parma Ham & Quinoa

A colleague came back from Parma, Italy and brought home for me a whole chunk of… Parma ham, what else?  Oh my!  How the hell do I slice this beauty nice and thinly?  So it sat on my ref for forever.  But hooray to Santis… they agreed to slice this whole slab for me (for a fee of course but who cares for as long as I get to partake of it and not just drool whenever I open the ref) and so this has become a usual fare lately.

Team it up with cheese and bread, eaten either as is or as a sandwich… heaven.  Love it and could never tire of it.  Vacuum packed, it goes a long way too.

The very nice staff of Santis asked me if I wanted the ends.  “It’s good for soups and stews”, they suggested, so I asked them to throw that in too.  And this is how I used it.

Not (yet) on a soup or stew dish.  I always have veggies that needed to be eaten yesterday.

So some cubed ends of the ham got thrown into a medley of stir-fried veggies (carrots and string beans) for flavor and some guilty pleasure to an otherwise healthy dish.  Instead of rice, I felt like having it with quinoa.  It’s a highly nutritional seed that is prepared and eaten like whole grain such as rice or barley.  I like it because I like the firm and slightly chewy texture.  I usually cook it with milk and sweetened with honey or Agave syrup. But I came across a savory recipe that piqued my curiosity.

Topped with fried egg… super yum!

Boil with chicken or pork stock then top with the stir-fried veggies (with the ham) and you’ll be hooked.  How to cook quinoa:  you can either follow the instructions on the label or watch this:

Useful Info:

Where to find Quinoa in the Philippines?  You can find it in any Healthy Options store in the metro.

My take on Kalbijim

A and I love Korean beef stew or Kalbijim as they call it in Korea.  For some reason – with all the delectable authentic Korean dishes we had during our 4 days stay – Kalbijim was surprisingly not part of the menu.  Don’t ask me why, it’s a mystery to me as it may be to you.  So in the spirit of my visit to Korea and missing out on the authentic taste of this wonderful tasting beef stew, I’ve decided one evening to look up a recipe and reminisce the taste of Korea just one more time.

Korean Beef Stew

  • 1 Kilo short ribs or beef flank
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 tsps. garlic, chopped
  • 1 pc. onion, sliced
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsps. brown sugar
  • 6 tbsps. Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 pc. carrot, cubed
  • 2 pcs. raddish, cubed
  • 1 tbsp. Manjo Mirin
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • sesame seeds, toasted
  • leeks

Here’s what you do:

  • Boil beef in 3 cups water seasoned with salt and pepper for 30 minutes.  Set aside.
  • Saute ginger, garlic, onion, chili powder.  Add sugar and beef.  Make sure to cook until slightly brown.
  • Pour soy sauce and beef stock.  Cook until beef is tender.
  • Add carrots, raddish, mirin, sesame oil.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and leeks.

I had some mushrooms so I threw that in which explains the inclusion in the photo.  Totally optional, just wanted to use up the remaining mushrooms I had and add more veggies onto the dish.  If you want a truly authentic beef stew, omit the mushrooms.

Roasted Veggies!

I’ve been stuffing myself with way too much meat lately.  So, last night I scrounged through my ref and put together a medley of veggies that will soon waste away from neglect.  I cut up a piece each of zucchini, carrot, onion, and some breakfast sausages – just for flavor.

I sprinkled on to the veggies a small amount of rub, which I got when I was in Healdsburg a couple of years ago, coated it with a bit of olive oil, and popped into the oven to roast till veggies caramelized.

Turned out quite well, if I may say so.  As the label suggests, it is best with pork or lamb but it surprisingly is very good with grilled or roast veggies too.  The sweetness of the veggies combined well with the herbs and spice blend.

Luckily, this all-purpose rub is sometimes available at Chelsea.  Would you believe I went crazy when I recently caught sight of it and bought one of each variant they had? Heehee!

Orange You Glad?

Credits:  Typed letter paper from JSprague’s Thank Ya Kindly kit; Brush from J Crowley’s Beautiful Evidence.

That’s one in a series of vinaigrettes that came out in the market of late.  One thing I love about salads aside from the healthiness it accords one’s body is the ease of preparation.  Packed washed salad greens are plentiful in the groceries with so many varieties to choose from nowadays.  And although I like making my own dressings, sometimes ready-made dressings are a blessing especially if all you want to do, after a long day’s work, is to plop on the couch and have Ellen Degeneres liven up your evening.  So yes, orange you glad there are washed salad greens just waiting to be eaten or served, yummy ready-made dressings to perk up your salad and of course, the frozen chili I made a few weeks ago, apportioned and ready to be heated anytime you feel like it?  Yes, I am glad to have these on lazy nights such as tonight.   😀

My Very First Chili con Carne

I love food and cooking has always fascinated me.  But cook I seldom do.  I can come up with a good number of reasons why but that would just be justifying.  Admittedly, it has been a while since I endeavored to cook something new and exciting, let alone raved about it.  I attempted to start several years ago and failed miserably.  The sorry number of posts listed on my “culinary endeavors” category is proof of that.  But that will hopefully change soon.  Yeah, I have resolved to cook one new dish a month.   Pretty doable, right?  Who says you can’t start a resolution mid-year?

So I flipped through my cookbooks that were collecting dust, wandered through some of my favorite blogs and stumbled on this.  I love Chili con Carne but A (I found out) is not too crazy about it.  Yikes!  He gave the thumbs up though, but maybe that was just to cheer me on.  Hee hee!   😛

I was enticed to try this because of the many versions that can be made depending on one’s preference.  It’s a recipe that I can own.  A good first attempt, don’t you think?  Here’s the recipe I ended up with.

Baked Chili Con Carne

  • ½ kilo ground beef
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 cup corn kernel
  • 1 16 oz.  canned kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ bottle of dark brown beer
  • 2 14 oz. cans diced or crushed tomatoes with liquid
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper

For Garnish:

  • shredded cheese (I used cheddar & mozzarella)
  • 2 eggs

Here’s what you do:

  • Brown the beef in a large pot.  Remove. Set aside, drain the fats.
  • Add around 2tbsp. canola oil to the pot and cook the vegetables until soft.  Add the beef back and then the seasonings.
  • Add the beans, tomatoes, and beer.  Then add salt & pepper to taste.  Adjust seasonings if needed.  Let simmer, partially covered, for an hour.  Stir every 20 minutes.
  • Transfer to a baking dish, crack the eggs and top with cheese.
  • Bake in 180˚ C until the egg white is set.

I would have loved to try it with chocolate, which goes well with chili, but A is not a big fan of spicy hot dishes so I decided against it.  This one turned out well.  With a little inspiration here, I added eggs and truth to tell, I think this was what won A’s  approval.

Broccoli Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Parmigiano Regiano.  That’s what I have a lot of nowadays.  A friend got hold of a whole wheel and he found 4 of us to share.  That was how I ended up with a quarter of a wheel of Parmesan cheese.  Yummy though as it may be, I think it is way too much even for a cheese aficionado like me.  So I am thinking cheese a lot nowadays.  The other day I came across this and thought… hmmm.

The recipe called for 12 eggs – 12!  Well, living alone and all, I never have that much so I used 6 although I think it could use 1 more.  I had some gorgeous mushrooms and to the casserole it went too.  As for the cheese, we all know what we used.  I also had a block of Roquefort so I used a tad just to add more flavor and it did not disappoint.  I’d probably add a semi-soft cheese like Gruyère or a Fontina next time to achieve a smoother melt.  Perhaps I should have added the cheese before the egg mixture as per the recipe — but you see I don’t follow instructions very well.  Overall however, I think it came out beautifully.  On a scale of 1-10, I’m giving it a 7 because I didn’t have enough eggs and the cheese didn’t melt very well.