My Last Sunday As A Goddess
It’s been quite a journey for me being the Goddess of Scrumptiousness here. I spent two years of every free time I had posting, hearting, commenting and tagging food posts. Throughout the two years of my existence here I’ve learned a ton about life, people and how Tumblr can be as addictive as alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex and chocolates… oh and cheese too!!!
My dearest friend Laura always told me to live my life in the real world. It took me quite a long time to follow her advice, but now I do, I am… for the times I was NOT HERE or in other social media sites, I spend living my life in the real world… and finally living it and savouring it the best I can and that is relishing everything tangible. And although I know that I can always still be in social media and here on Tumblr even on short visits, my heart just whole-heartedly shouts that it is now the time to move on and turn the page… live the next chapter.
And so this is my real and permanent goodbye “last post”, and this time I am saying goodbye with a smiling heart, renewed spirit and eagerness to walk alongside my beloved.
I wish each and everyone of you all the best in life, love and food.
All my LOVE,
[Photograph by my husband]
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.
Purple Yam Fudge (Halayang Ube)
I remember a couple of Christmas and New Year days in my childhood, and those were spent visiting houses of other grandparents, aunts and uncles and even friends of my mother’s. And every single house I had gone to accompanied by my mother or aunt or grandmother, I was always handed a platito (saucer) with a slice of Halayang Ube (purple yam fudge). Now, proper etiquette for visitors here is to always welcome and be gracious to anything the hostess offers or serves you, I never had a problem following this particular rule of etiquette, most specially if it is food that is generously shared to me.
By tasting about 3 or 4 versions of Halayang Ube from each house I visited at the end of the festive day, I somehow, and although a bit embarrassed to admit, haven’t had the resolve (even at an early age) NOT to be a silent judge and NOT knit-pick and compare (like a Top Chef judge) each purple yam fudge I tasted.
One can tell which home spent hours cooking and stirring their purple yam fudge and which did not, and even who was patient and meticulous enough to not let any chocolate chip-size morsel of boiled purple yam get mixed up with the finely grated mound, and who was not that particular in making their halaya close to lump-free perfection in texture.
There are, I think, close to a dozen arguments on how to make the best Halayang Ube throughout this country. But all I wish to divulge is how I make mine.
- You have to buy the best looking purple yams with the most intense purple colour, which can range from bright lavender to Barney purple to really deep dark purple (almost verging into blackish in colour).
- You can either boil or bake the purple yams, skin still on (this way none of the gorgeous purple colour bleeds out of the root vegetable) until very tender. Finely grate the yams using a fine grater, or for your modern-day convenience, use a food processor- cut the boiled (or baked) and peeled yams into medium dices. Fill the food processor tub half full (for each batch) with the yams and blitz/puree.
- The amount of milk (both condensed milk and evaporated milk) is as much as important as the amount of purple yam is. The creaminess and richness of the milk should compliment and enhance the starchy quality of the purple root veg.
- Use a large non-stick (teflon coated) pan to cook the mixture. I do recommend using a big and sturdy silicone (very heat resistant) spatula to stir the mixture, and also by using a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon, you can conveniently scrape all the sticky mixture away from the base of the pan preventing scorching or burnt bottom.
- And finally, patience is really the key element in making this decadent confection. For the amount of purple yam fudge mixture in this recipe, you have to cook and constantly stir it for 3-3 1/2 hours on a stove top over medium heat or until the fudge when stirred, can be lifted off the pan like a dense dough. The best characteristic of a very good Halayang Ube is that is it chewy and dense and rich and toothsome.
2 kilos finely grated purple yams, prepared*
*(boiled or baked with skin still on until fork tender, then peeled and finely grated or blitzed in a food processor)
4 cans condensed milk
2 cans evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted butter + 2 Tablespoon softened butter (to lightly coat the moulds the purple yam fudge will be poured to be moulded and set)
1 teaspoon salt
Prepare moulds- coat the base and sides of dish moulds with softened butter.
- In a large non-stick pan or even teflon coated wok (much suggested and preferred) , combine all ingredients and thoroughly mix until homogenised.
- Place pan over medium heat. From this point, you only have to stand in front of the stove and your pan of purple yam mixture for the next 3- 3 1/2 hours- constantly stirring, making sure the bottom of the mixture doesn’t get scorched and burnt.
- After working the hours stirring the fudge, it becomes chewy and much like a very heavy and dense dough, and you can see that the mixture easily lifts itself off the pan. At this stage, turn off heat.
- Divide purple yam fudge into prepared moulds/dish. Smoothen the surface of the fudge with an offset or regular spatula lightly coated with softened butter (this will make the surface shiny). Cool completely and let it set.
- Slice according to preference.
Makes about 3 kilos
Note : Arms, neck and shoulder massage is recommended… most probably inevitable, afterwards. :)
Purple Yam Fudge (Halayang Ube)
Purple yam fudge or more natively known as Halayang Ube (in the Philippines) is one of the decadent confections that is always made during the holiday season. And is always served during Christmas (Pasko), New Year’s Eve (Bagong Taon) and even Fiestas.
Halayang Ube is made by finely grating boiled purple yams, adding to it condensed milk, evaporated milk (other provinces even use fresh water buffalo’s (carabao) milk), sugar, butter and a bit of vanilla flavour. The mixture is then slowly cooked and constantly stirred for hours over medium heat until it gets thick and chewy. It is then moulded into serving platters or whatever serving vessel and is served in slices.
I stood for 3 1/2 hours in front of the stove cooking this until the sweet and milky purple puree turned into a chewy deep dark purple mass.
This confection is indeed a labour of love, and really, a test of one’s virtue of patience. But the end product is absolutely delicious!
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.
Of Reading and Eating… and doing both at the same time.
To most, the idea of lounging on a sofa reading a good book or, maybe, eating food they love at a leisurely pace is their ideal form of indoor relaxation. I, on the other hand, always believe in simultaneous nourishment of both mind and tummy - figuratively and literally.
I love reading cookbooks and any publications really that ingeniously incorporated either cooking or dining scenarios. But even if let’s say I am reading a proper fictional novel or biography or history I still double the pleasure of the reading experience by always having something to pick up, bite in, munch on and wash down with either a cup of coffee or tea. It’s just how I process and absorb words and knowledge, I mean, a mind cannot function well while the tummy keeps on sending it hungry post-it notes every 3 minutes. And so I always give in and munch away in the same rate as I read words per minute.
I love reading short passages about eating experiences and food sentiments. I can never get tired of those. Maybe because I am eternally passionate about food and any thing related to it, or I am just a hopeless case of a food addict. Nevertheless, I want to share a few of my most favourite passages and sentiments about food.
If some of you are wondering why I included in these pictures Audrey Hepburn’s Biography book (???) knowing that she will probably be horrified with the idea of me munching happily on this calorie laden Carrot Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting while reading a book about her whole life and looking at all the glamorous pictures of her - classy, petite but statuesque figure, all I want really is to let her know (in spirit) my foodie sentiments for her, which is ” Eat your heart out, SKINNY BITCH!!! “. -j.m
Orgiastic About Oranges
One Thanksgiving dinner, my friends and I decided we would each answer the question: “If I were going into the desert and I could only take one thing for my comfort, what would it be?” I said my choice would be an orange.
An orange is packed with pleasure in so many different ways. Simply to hold one in your hand is pleasing to the eyes and touch and nose. And when you open it up, you have both thirst-quenching liquid and flavorful food. Everyone has their rituals for peeling an orange. Some people eat the white down beneath the peel, others pick it off. some bury their face in the flesh and get the juice all over their chin. I prefer the delicate approach, and the mandarin is the best orange for this. first I break it into segments. Then I take an individual segment and bite into the inner part, separating the skin from the flesh. i love the feel of the moist globules bursting with flavor against my tongue. this is serious pleasure.
(simple pleasures : soothing suggestions and small comforts for living all year round, “fall” chapter)
Espresso and reading are complementary pleasures. I look for a place with no music or good music, a place where people stay put for a while and there’s not too much commotion. The espresso must be strong and thick so the foam from the coffee sticks to the spoon, and it must be served in small cups. Once I have my coffee in front of me, I take out my book and read extremely slowly, pondering each sentence, perhaps scribbling notes or comments. Poetry or philosophy is best- something that provides pleasure in prose so dense and exquisite that it matches the intensity of the coffee. A single sip of espresso reverberates in my body while the words resonate in my mind with interesting meanings.
(simple pleasures : soothing suggestions and small comforts for living all year round, “fall” chapter)
Smoky Baked Potato Wedges with Hickory Smoked Bacon served with Spanish Red
I like comfort foods but I like comfort cooking more. My self-definition of comfort cooking is to cook something easy yet pleasurable in all aspects - doing the cooking at a convenient time, cozy atmosphere in the kitchen, ingredients that are pleasurable to eat as they are or put together to create something of a hearty dish, a blissful eating experience which, really, can be instantly achieved when all your heart and attention are focused only at the promise of bite after bite of satisfying morsels of starch, and cheese and Bacon.
These baked, cheesy potato wedges are flavoured with Spanish sweet smoked paprika, olive oil, cream cheese and manchego cheese, topped with smoky hickory bacon bits and a dash more of pimenton dulce de la vera.
1 large potato (1/2 pound), scrubbed, unpeeled, quartered and boiled in slightly salted water until tender
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon good quality dijon mustard, Maille Fine de Dijon
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika, Pimenton Dulce de la Vera
1/2 cup grated manchego cheese (or can substitute gruyere or swiss cheese), divided into 2 (1/4 cup), 1/4 cup to mix in the mash, 1/4 to sprinkle on top of the potatoes
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup crisp hickory smoked bacon bits
1 Tablespoon chives, finely chopped
- While potatoes are still hot, scoop the flesh and put in a bowl.
- Mash potatoes and mix in extra virgin olive oil, softened cream cheese, dijon mustard, milk, Spanish sweet smoked paprika, chives, grated cheese and season with salt and pepper (to taste).
- Spoon mixture on potato skin wedges, top with the remaining grated cheese and a few bits of bacon.
- Bake in a 375’F oven for 12-15 minutes or until cheese has melted and tops are browned.
- Top with remaining bacon bits and a few dashes of paprika (pimenton).
Makes 1-2 servings
* I paired this dish with a Spanish red wine Almez Tempranillo - acidic and fruity with blueberries and lilac notes which complimented the smokiness of this dish.
Goddess of Scrumptiousness Food Photography and Original Recipes by Jeannie Maristela are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at goddessofscrumptiousness.tumblr.com