The immortal Asian spring rolls with a classic Mexican filling — whole chilies stuffed with cheese. And, yes, it is ovo-lacto vegetarian. These spring rolls were dipped in eggs and dredged in flour prior to frying to seal in the cheese and make sure it doesn’t seep out when it melts in the hot oil. So, these are probably more egg rolls than proper spring rolls. What’s the difference?
If there’s a delectable vegetarian dish for Sam, there must be an equally delicious meat dish for Alex.
The slab of pork was pressure cooked in broth with lots of aromatics, cooled then chilled overnight, sliced thinly a half hour before lunch then braised in a mixture of light soy sauce and honey. A very easy dish to make with very little preparation required. You don’t even need to dress up the sauce because the pork had already absorbed all the flavors of the herbs and spices in the broth in which it had been cooked.
Last Sunday, we were at the mall to check our prices for Sam’s rollerblades, it was dinner time, we were hungry and the first restaurant I saw that wasn’t crowded was Bacolod Chicken Inasal. We had been there before, we liked the food so we went in thinking there would be at least one vegetable dish that Sam could eat. Turned out that dining out is not easy for vegetarians in Metro Manila. Although there are a lot of vegetable dishes in restaurants, most are served with small pieces of meat or seafood. And that is true with Bacolod Chicken Inasal. Sam ordered bangus (milkfish) spring rolls instead of the vegetable dishes that came with pork or chicken. She could only eat two pieces of spring rolls. After that, she just poured the sauce over her rice and contented herself with eating that.
Watching her eat… it tore my heart. And I told her that the following weekend, I would cook great vegetarian food for her, that I’d research some more for new and creative ways to prepare vegetarian dishes. Then, she made a suggestion that would have put any research to shame. She mentioned the mashed potatoes and pesto spring rolls before and she said substitute mashed beans for the potatoes, add peppers and other vegetables for a contrast in texture, and then stir in cheese. Genius, isn’t she?
There is another white corn soup in the archive with pork and squash flowers. This version is not as colorful but it is definitely richer in flavor. If it were a photograph, I’d describe the flavors as deep tones and bold saturation. What makes it so richly flavored? Caramelized onions. Instead of simply sautéing sliced onions, I cooked them gently until they had rendered their natural sugar and I waited, so very patiently, until the sugar had turned amber.
It starts with white corn — the kind that isn’t sweet enough to munch on but starchy and sticky when shaved and cooked for a long time. If you’re wondering if you can substitute yellow corn, I will tell you straight off that it won’t give you the thickness that white corn does. If you ask me if canned corn can be substituted, I’ll tell you good luck.
When Sam was a baby just learning to stand up on her own by holding on to the sides of her crib, we saw her once chewing the painted wood railing of the crib. We knew the dangers of ingesting paint and Speedy wrapped every part of the railing with cloth.
After Sam turned two and Alex was not even a year old, we moved from Speedy’s parents’ house to my parents’ house. My parents’ house had not gone repainting since I was in grade school, some of the old paint was cracked and falling off the walls. Sam noticed Alex, who was at the crawling stage, picking up something from the floor and putting it in her mouth. Cracked paint. I took her off the floor, opened her mouth and cleaned it out. Then, a few months later, I had the entire ground floor wallpapered. Old paint scraped off completely and then wallpapered. Another few months after that, I had the entire second floor wallpapered.
The issue? Lead, of course. Lead in paint. It’s harmful. In young children, it can cause retardation, among other things. In ways that we can keep lead off our children’s reach, we do what we can. But what about lead in glaze used in tableware? That left me stupefied. It still does.
I saw these bacon onion cheddar biscuits and I wanted to make something similar. Not biscuits though but muffins. For brunch. I went through the ingredients and realized that sugar was not listed, and I was ninety per cent certain that my girls would balk. When I make savory pies, I add a little sugar because they don’t like plain salted crusts. A muffin is an even more serious issue. I tried to decide how much risk I was willing to take tweaking the recipe blindly. Then, I remembered. Somewhere on the shelves is a little cookbook called Baking (from the Essential cooking series, Hinkler Books) that Alex gave me for a birthday (or was it Christmas?) gift a few years ago. And in that cookbook is a recipe for cheese and pepper muffins. I decided I was going to combine the two recipes.
I was posting messages on Twitter and Facebook right after I ate a muffin and I described the experience as having died and going to muffin heaven. Overacting? Yeah, well, it sometimes happens. I’m probably going to get blamed for ruining everyone’s diet in this house but these muffins are absolutely delicious! The saltiness of the bacon, the natural sweetness of the onion and bell pepper, the addition of a little sugar… they all went wonderfully together to make something I can’t quite describe but can’t help but eat (it’s been three and a half hours since the muffins have come out of the oven and I have eaten three so far). And the texture! Because of the addition of yellow cornmeal, the texture is more dense than most muffins but it stayed soft and moist inside because of the butter, the natural juices of the vegetables, the cheese and the little bacon fat.
I think that’s quite enough chest-beating. The recipe… Please don’t forget to view the end notes.
It is often the case that Holy Week is the hottest part of Philippine summers. So hot that it is best to keep a jug of iced water when traveling by road. This year was no exception. On Good Friday, after shooting everything that could be photographed in Pangil, Pakil, Paete and Siniloan, we stopped at Mabitac on our way back to Antipolo. The primary reason was to buy a broom. Along the highway were stalls of native products and we stopped where there were the most number of stalls. You know, so we could compare prices and haggle. You won’t miss the spot if you find yourself in Mabitac. In Barangay Paagahan, there is a row of stalls selling rocking chairs, hammocks…