Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mondongo (Tripe and green beans)

May Ann showing off The Claw:
Sri Lankan crab at Singapore's No Signboard restaurant

Most of the dishes of the Macgregor-Esposo clan are quite unheard of such that a boyfriend once told me that if we get married I cannot cook what we eat at home because they are not "pambahay' recipes. Good thing he's married to someone else.

Below is another interesting recipe from Mommy and Abuelita dearest. I've looked it up in the Internet and Mondongo is a name of a tripe stew popular in South America. This one is done differently, though. You will need a few hours to cool the stock from the boiled tripe before going on to complete the procedure.

1/2 kilo ox tripe
1/2 kilo green beans or habichuelas, cut two inches long
2 medium potatoes, cut like fingers, two inches long
4 cloves garlic
1 big onion
5 whole tomatoes peeled (boil in water till it cracks, then cool and peel)
olive oil or cooking oil for sauteing

Cook the tripe in just enough water in a pressure cooker. Once tender or after around 30 minutes or so, remove the tripe and set aside the liquid to cool at room temperature.

Cut the tripe into strips and set aside.

After liquid cools to room temperature, put it in the refrigerator and wait till the fat hardens on the surface. Remove this fat. You will use the remaining liquid as your stock.

In a pan, saute the garlic, onion and peeled cut-up tomatoes until well blended. Add the tripe, add ground pepper and saute some more. Add the refrigerated liquid and bring to boil. (Make sure tripe is very tender at this point, otherwise, keep boiling until tripe tenderizes.)

If you have too much liquid, evaporate the liquid until it just about covers the ingredients in the pot. Add in the potatoes. Stir in the green beans when potatoes are nearly done. Salt with patis.

Chicken Chuletas

My mommy's mom , my abuelita, is a no-nonsense self-educated Bicolana who signed her documents with her thumbprint. She is perhaps responsible for improvising from the original versions of many of our dishes. She is so creative that when my brother Billy was 3 years old, she taught him to recite the story of Jesus' passion weaving bits of Bicolano, Cebuano, Spanish and whatever other language to create a very original oratorical piece.

(Sample line: Si Hesus nag-agto sa balay ni Caiphas....Pag-tapos gi-purung-purungan...) Can't really remember most of the lines, pity they did not have digicams then. During Lent she will take Billy to priests and nuns so that he could perform the lines. Abuelita would be all smiles and so proud as the nuns and priests allowed them into their cloisters.

We know this dish as simply "Chuletas" . It is a very simple dish but what makes it interesting is its lightness and piquant flavor. This dish is very economical because the whipped egg white provides volume while the strong flavor used to cook the chicken provides the distinctly tarty taste.

1 chicken breast
2 eggs
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
1/8 cup water
salt as desired
oil for frying

Pound the garlic, peppercorn together, then add the vinegar, salt, and the water to the mixture and mix well. Place the chicken breast in a small covered pot and pour in the mixture and boil, making sure the chicken is evenly saturated with the liquid. Boil until done and when liquid has evaporated and has been absorbed by the chicken. (It will be good if chicken is left with a light liquid coat from its own oil and the liquid mixture. ) When cool, cut the chicken in thin strips--it's okay to keep the peppercorn and garlic bits in. Set aside.

Separate the yolk from the whites. Whip the egg white in a bowl until it very stiff.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan.

In a separate bowl, add the egg yolk to the well-beaten egg white. When pan is very hot, quickly put a tablespoon of the frothy re-united eggs in a saucer and mix in 1 tablespoon of the chicken. Drop the chicken and egg mixture as though you are making a small pan cake. Fry lightly and turn. If your pan is big, you can fry several chuletas at the same time but make sure they don't touch each other. It is important to work fast because the egg mixture tends to lose its frothiness when exposed to air too long.

Don't over-fry, these things taste better when a little moist inside--a light brown color on each side would be perfect.

For busy moms, you can do the chicken and chop them ahead, ready for cooking with the egg at your convenience. Food keeps well because of the vinegar.

My maid is too lazy to whip the egg to a peak --the result is disappointing but tolerable, oh well --so today I bought her an electric beater. I must insist you make sure the egg mixture is frothy when you put them to the fire!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Scotch Broth

Photo shows the family in La Trattoria Pallota in Assisi doing what we do best--EATING!!!


1 kilo beef brisket, in small cubes
(The Scots use lamb shoulder but Mommy said brisket is better. The Scots are simple, hardy folk and this is apparent in their fuss-free dishes.)

2 stalks celery, chopped
one onion, chopped
1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup dried split yellow peas
2 cubes beef bouillon (if using water instead of beef stock)
8 cups beef stock or water
1 carrot, grated
pepper, salt as desired

Soak the barley and peas separately for about 4 hours, then drain.

Boil the beef with celery, chopped onion, pepper, salt, and beef stock in slow fire until beef is very, very tender. Add in the dried peas, barley, beef bouillon and grated carrots. Cook until barley and peas are tender. (Barley cooks faster than dried peas but since this is soup, it's okay. The longer you simmer the ingredients together the more they give out taste!)

Remove from fire and serve hot.

Note: Use your common sense-- this is supposed to be a soup. If you end up with very little liquid, just add some more water.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sarsa Italiana

Sharing an explosive moment with sister Dorthy
after a hearty meal at the Trattoria da Erminio:
"It must be the beans!" said I.

Sarsa Italiana

Maybe my mom called this Sarsa Italiana because of the typical use of lots of tomatoes. Like most of her dishes, this is simple and very good.

6 pcs Pork steak cut, skin removed
half cup flour
1 egg
cooking oil
3 cloves garlic
1 onion, sliced
8 pcs red juicy tomatoes

Immerse tomatoes in boiling water until it cracks. Cool slightly and peel tomatoes then slice them in small wedges.

Break an egg on the pork slices and then add in salt, pepper, flour until well coated.

Fry each pork pieces until brown and set aside.

Remove some oil from the pan and saute garlic, onion and tomatoes until well blended. Add in the fried pork pieces and cook for about 20 minutes or until pork is completely cooked and liquid becomes thicker.

Remove from heat and serve.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chicken Tim

I know Pata Tim as a Chinese pork dish so I have always wondered why my mom referred to this as Manok Tim. I have never encountered this dish anywhere else. But it is some kind of soul food!

whole chicken, cut up
1/2 kilo green onions, stalk intact (remove only roots)
1/2 kilo kinchay, stalk intact (aka Chinese celery) (remove only roots)
Note: buy kinchay that has a shorter sprout to make sure you don't end up with over-mature ones that become bitter when cooked.
1 tbsp patis or fish sauce
1 cup water
1 cube chicken bouillon
slice of ginger

Aaahhh! Real Pizza Napoletana!!!

Wash green onions and kintsay very well, cut off the roots but keep the stems and leaves intact except for the roots.
In a heavy or non-stick pot, create a nest from the green onion and the kintsay at the bottom of the pan. Add the ginger and the water and the chicken cube. Place the cut-up chicken on the vegetable nest. Cover and cook on medium low, keeping it covered for around 30 minutes. (Pot must be good enough to keep moisture in, otherwise you have to add a little water time and again)

Keep water level in the pan at least an inch thick. As the dish cooks, the vegetables give out a lot of liquid and this is what is infused in the chicken and in the resulting liquid.

After around 30 minutes, turn the chicken in such a way that the vegetables are also turned around it. Cook another 20 minutes or so.

Vegetables are supposed to end up very wilted and looking like loose ribbons wrapped around the chicken cuts.

Pour on dish and serve.

Mommy's Beef Olives

We simply call this "Olives" and it has been the main fare of our Christmas holidays among the Macgregor Esposo Filipinos for as far back as I can remember. Not advisable for those already health-challenged but for those who still can, it's very easy to make and quite delicious! (Not a good idea for dieters or Xenical users though!)

2 kilos kabilugan (eye round), sliced half-inch thick
one half pound butter
2 cups sliced pitted green olives
4 big onions chopped; 6-7 onions if medium-sized
two 8-oz can of tomato sauce

(I don't add water because the onions provide the liquid and the butter provide substantial fat but keep looking anyway because you may need to add some water in case there is some danger of drying--usually the case when your cooking pot is thin or do not have a tight lid. )

Put all ingredients in a good pot or Dutch oven (non-stick would be better) and cook in a slow setting, allowing the butter to slowly permeate the mixture. It may take 2 hours or more for beef to be to desired tenderness. It is important for the liquid to evaporate and leave the butterfat showing on the surface. (one and a half blocks of butter will certainly provide a good oily surface!)

TIP: Your dish is perfectly done if the beef had slightly disintegrated and can be cut with a fork. Butterfat should be the surface liquid.

This dish tends to taste better when allowed to steep in its flavor for a few hours and then reheated.

Great with French bread as you will have lots of nice sauce for dipping. My mother used to put this in sandwiches for us to take to school and the bread will be saturated with a curiosity-arousing red buttery sauce. Rice eaters that we are, we have learned to love this with plain steamed rice.

Asado de Carajay

Mom took up cooking lessons with a Spanish chef. Abuelita, my grandmother, probably improvised this recipe by adding soy sauce. I added a little of my own (a dash of clove powder) after I found out that the recipe is very similar to sauerbraten. I always get good feedback from those who got to try it!

NOTE: Hey, use your common sense because these measurements are estimates. I never measure!

1.5 kilos kalitiran whole
one full head garlic, crushed
two tablespoons peppercorn, crushed with the garlic
one big onion, chopped
two laurel leaf (bay leaf)
two tablespoon soy sauce
half a cup of vinegar
dash of clove powder
olive oil for sear-frying

Marinate whole kalitiran at least overnight with all the ingredients, except olive oil, better for 24 hours.

Heat oil in non-stick pan. Remove the kalitiran from the marinating liquid and sear-fry till all the sides are sealed and browned well. Remove from pan.

Using the same pan, fry the solid ingredients of the marinating liquid briefly, then add the rest of the liquid.

Transfer all the contents of the pan in a pressure cooker, keeping the kalitiran whole, if possible. Otherwise, you can halve it. Add a little liquid as required for pressure cooking.

Pressure cook for around 40 minutes.

Remove the kalitiran from the pot and evaporate some liquid till it leaves a reasonable amount for gravy.

Cool the liquid, remove the bay leaf and use a hand blender to liquefy the garlic and onion in the cooking liquid. Dissolve flour in little amount of water and add to liquid to make gravy. Heat this mixture for gravy.

Cool the beef. Once cool, slice very thinly, across the grain is best. Then pour gravy generously on top of the sliced beef.

Same procedure can also be used for ox tongue.

Our clan's Pinacbet

My father was Ilocano and my abuelita was Bicolana. Since they were raised in their hometowns, this had helped enriched the culinary treasure chest of the resulting generation. But our use of native words were so mixed up that sometimes, we presumed some Visayan terms were actually Tagalog. For example, when my brother Billy was in grade school at the Ateneo, his teacher asked the class about the Tagalog term of certain parts of a chicken. No other hand was raised when the teacher asked for the Tagalog word for 'gizzard'. Happy to be the only one who seem to know the answer, Billy waved his hand high and responded with pride: "Baticulon, Sir, " to the amused guffaw of the teacher. Baticulon of course is Visayan for "balun-balunan".

The Ilocano side of my family takes pride in cooking pinacbet in the traditional clan recipe.
My Ilocano background and my love for Italian food combine to make this dish interestingly flavorful.

This version minimizes use of cholesterol because it uses olive oil and cooked lechon sa kawali which had already rendered of some of its fat. I only use the small round ampalayas and small round eggplants. No squash, no okra for me, at least for this dish. Lots of tomatoes help neutralize the bitter taste of amplaya.


1/2 kilo cooked but still crispy lechon sa kawali sliced 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches long
olive oil
2 big red ripe tomatoes halved then sliced (use more if using small or medium tomatoes)
1 8-oz can crushed tomatoes
8 big cloves of garlic; 1 big onion, halved then sliced
3 slices ginger, crushed slightly; small can of salted anchovy fillets mashed in its oil or, half a cup of strained bagoong isda
3/4 kilo small round ampalaya cut in half and pitted
3/4 kilo of small round eggplants, cut in half but cut only when about to be put in the pot
(For even cooking, best to use those thick bottom pots with efficiently tight lids, or better yet, use non-stick))

Heat a generous amount of oil, making sure it covers the bottom of the pot generously. Put in garlic, red ripe tomatoes, ginger in the hot oil and cook for 3 minutes. Put in halved ampalaya first, then the eggplants, cutting them in half just as you are about to add them. Pour in the canned crushed tomatoes and the mashed anchovy or bagoong isda. Put the lechon sa kawali over the mixture. (Canned crushed tomatoes should provide the liquid for cooking while the olive oil will give it a shiny appetizing finish.)

Cover the pot and cook over medium high but watch out that it does not dry up. After around 15-20 minutes, turn the mixture by tossing the contents without removing the cover. Cook another 15 minutes. (After this take a peek and use your common sense. If you think the eggplant and amplaya is not cooked through, then add a few more minutes)

Turn off the heat and keep covered for 10 minutes.