Sam’s jellyfish jelly Sam's jellyfish jelly

My daughters have this habit of cooking something — anything — when they’re stressed out. It’s final exams week and moods are volatile. On Saturday evening, Alex de-stressed by cooking a cheese omelet. Well, Sunday morning, actually because it was after midnight already. And, on Sunday evening, Sam made a gelatin dessert that she called jellyfish jelly. Two layers of gelatin, blue underneath and clear on top, with whole lychees visible through the transparent gelatin — like jellyfish swimming in the sea.


A few weeks ago, out of nowhere, Sam started talking about getting jellyfish for pets. In an aquarium. I told her that was illegal. No, she said, miniature jellyfish are sold as aquarium pets. I don’t know about that so I didn’t argue.

I must admit that watching the graceful movements of miniature jellyfish through a glass aquarium would be a mesmerizing sight. But, still… jellyfish don’t have a particularly long life span and considering how depressed Sam gets over the death of a pet, I’m not so sure about jellyfish in a aquarium — if that is even legal. But her jellyfish jelly is not only legal — it is delicious. [Read more...]

Sam’s rum, lychee and lemon cocktail

The recipe was born as an afterthought. Sam loves lychees — canned, for convenience — and her favorite thing to do with them is to make a lychee smoothie by roughly pureeing the fruits in a blender along with the syrup, sugar and ice. But because she can’t finish an entire can of lychees by herself, whenever she makes lychee smoothie, everyone else in the house gets a glass (or two or three) of her addictive potion. Well, except Alex who really doesn’t like lychees.

One time, we had guests at home and Sam made her signature lychee smoothie. But because we were already having cocktails, I commented that, perhaps, Sam could add something alcoholic to her smoothie to make it a bit more attuned with the rest of the drinks that we were having. She said, rather automatically, “Rum.” I took my glass, poured some rum into it, stirred everything and tasted the mixture. It tasted good — but it needed something more. Lemon, I thought, and I squeezed a quarter of a lemon into the glass. I stirred the drink again and it was awesome. Perfect for a sweltering summer night. [Read more...]

Buko (coconut) and lychee sorbet Buko (coconut) and lychee sorbet

The first time I made a sorbet (see mango rum sorbet), I did not use an ice cream maker. I had none at the time. I didn’t even know I would get one eventually. So, yes, it is possible to make a sorbet with no fancy equipment. It takes longer though and a lot more work but the result can be just as good and no one will ever know you had to mix it every few hours over a 12-hour period. And that introduction is meant to encourage everyone to make a sorbet, with or without an ice cream maker.

What is a sorbet? Think of it as ice cream but with neither milk nor cream. Like a low-fat version of ice cream. But to call it frozen sweet drink would be misleading. A properly made sorbet scoops like ice cream. It is smooth and evenly textured with no large ice crystals. [Read more...]