Steamed Sunday Crabs
If you are a seafood lover and love crabs, then Sunday is the perfect day of the week to eat these crustaceans mainly because I believe that eating crabs require a good amount of one’s patience, even tenacity. You have to take time extracting every bit of delicate sweet meat inside every leg, both claws and body to appreciate and honour this fine sea creature and it is only at a leisurely pace that this is ever possible.
© Jeannie Gust 2013
Spaghetti and Spicy Meatballs
This is my very first proper food photo shoot after a few months of what seemed to be a very long hiatus. I am very happy that I finally got my food photography mojo back, very inspired to again cook simple but beautiful and scrumptious food and share the wonderful colours and texture of food through my photographs.
© Jeannie Gust 2013
Texas Barbecue Feast
[Brisket, Hickory Smoked Barbecued Chicken and Ribs]
My husband loves to walk, and I obviously love to eat. And so to meet in the middle, we walk to eat… we walk to have lunch or dinner (or both) to a restaurant then walk back to partially burn the calories we consumed. It is a good plan, but then we somehow always end up with meat and starch and only an occasional salad, and here in this case, I ended up with a Texas serving of barbecued meats. But I’m happy to say, I only managed to wipe-out the brisket and the sides… and well, a small chunk of this chicken and the end portion of a rib. Okay! so I almost ate the whole darn carnivore’s platter, but I needed the energy to walk back home! :)
Chicken and Saffron Arroz Caldo with Spring Onions, Fried Garlic Bits, Boiled Egg, Chicken Skin Chicharrones and Calamansi
If I am to be asked about what dish I would happily eat repeatedly for a month or two, in a heartbeat, I will definitely say, Chicken Arroz Caldo. It is the one and only soup dish, but really more accurately, a savoury and chickeny rice porridge, that comforts me, even comforts my spirit, and by this I mean, that this dish is warming, hearty, fills anyone up real well and quite blissfully, eases the suffering of anyone who is sick, and really, to me it is my kind of Chicken Soup For The Soul… my soul.
Arroz Caldo (Spanish for rice soup) is a Hispanicized or Spanish version of the Chinese’ Congee. It is Hispanicized because of the addition (traditionally) of safflower or kasubha in Tagalog (a cheaper and more abundant counterpart of the much proper and expensive saffron… but obviously I decided to be a bit posh and used Saffron in this) use to colour the porridge, and black pepper along with the aromatic trifecta of garlic, onion and ginger sauteed along with morsels of chicken or beef to which a Chinese congee is deprived of.
And although this rice soup/porridge dish is Chinese in inspiration and Spanish in adaptation, this is spot on natively Filipino in taste… I call this Filipino soul food.
This dish is one of the first things I made myself learn how to cook when I was a teenager only because I wanted so bad to cook it whenever I want it. It is one of my favourite humble foods to eat most of the time… any time.
I never often asked my mother or grandmother (when she was still alive) to teach me how to cook certain dishes, I just avidly watched them prepare the ingredients, and the steps or stages they went through cooking every dish from start to finish. And in making this particular dish, I learned from both my grandmother and mother, that the best rice to use in Arroz Caldo is glutinous rice because the starchiness of this variety of rice helps thicken the soup much more gloriously than the regular variety. Also, it is crucial for this dish that the rice is totally puffed or cracked because texture wise, it is much more better in the palate than munching on whole al dente rice grains.
I will not give the recipe for this as I always make it in a large stock pot. But here is the procedure; In a stock pot, put this ration of 1:3 glutinous rice to hot chicken stock with either safflower or in this case, saffron threads infused in the stock. Place pot over high heat and wait for the rice and stock to get to a boil, then turn down heat to medium-low and gently simmer rice. Meanwhile, in a sautepan, saute finely chopped ginger in canola oil for 3 mins over medium-high heat, then add finely chopped onions, sweat onions for 3 mins, then add finely minced garlic and saute until garlic is soft and fragrant. Add either cut up chicken pieces or chunks of chicken breast fillets, and saute with the aromatics until cooked. Transfer sauteed chicken into stockpot with simmering rice. Mix together and season with salt (or fish sauce, optional) and fresh cracked black pepper. Continue simmering the soup/porridge until liquid has slightly thickened and rice is puffed or cracked.
Serve piping hot in bowls and top with thinly sliced spring onions, fried garlic bits, sliced hard boiled eggs and either chicken skin chicharrones or crushed pork cracklings (optional) and serve with calamansi halves or lemon wedges on the side.
Chilli, Garlic and Butter Prawns
Prawns, I think, are the best protein to make a dish of for when you only have 15 minutes to cook.
This simple but boldly flavoured dish is incredibly easy to whip up, all you do is saute, toss and YOU’re done!!!
1 kilo large prawns, shelled (but with heads intact) and deveined
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 whole head of medium size garlic, minced
2 red chillies, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
* 1 teaspoon Asian chilli-garlic paste (optional, but suggested)
salt (according to taste)
- Heat a saute pan or wok (if you have one) over medium heat and put in the butter, extra virgin olive oil and garlic.
- Saute garlic until aromatic and soft. Add chopped red chillies or dried red chilli flakes and Asian chilli-garlic paste (optional).
- Increase heat of the stove to high. Add prawns in the pan and toss into sauteing garlic and chillies.
- Cook prawns 4-5 minutes or until they are curled and turned orange.
(note: shrimps/prawns cook quickly, so a couple of seconds longer and they tend to instantly get overcooked.)
- Serve with rice or toasted and crusty garlic-rubbed baguette bread.