Monday, September 28, 2009

Chicken ala Orange

So often than not, you see duck ala orange in the menu and not chicken ala orange. The reason I used chicken is that it is cheaper and I have never cooked duck before. Anyhow, this dish is a little troublesome because of the sauce but hey, the sauce tasted great! It was full of flavor without any use of MSG or any flavoring cubes *knorr* so I was quite happy with it.

First, get some of the frozen chicken stock.

And defrost it.

Now, its time to really make the troublesome sauce. Get a small saucepan and add some white wine vinegar.

With the white wine vinegar inside the saucepan, add some peppercorns, a bay leaf and some minced shallots.

Reduce that until it is dry, while it is reducing. Get some oranges and squeeze the juice out. Taste it. Add some sugar if necessary, mine needed a lot it.

When the white wine vinegar mixture is au sec *almost dry* add in the orange juice into the sauce pan and reduce 1/4 of its total mixture.

Strain the mixture.

You get this strong sweet, tangy, savory sauce.

Now, the sauce needs more body, return the orange sauce to the saucepan, add the chicken stock and reduce! French cooking is always about reduction to enhance the flavor.

As you can see, the left part of the saucepan has some stains. Scrape those off and mix it with the sauce. The fond *stain* is full of flavor so we do not want to waste that.

Set this aside, we will be doing something about this later again.

Now, lets prepare the chicken and all its ingredients. We just need to pan roast it and it is easy.

It's a simple roast, just need some chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, garlic, thyme, butter and olive oil. Pat the chicken with a paper towel, we would want them to be really dry so it browns nicely thus giving it a better flavor.

Season and brown the chicken on both sides.

When it is 70% done, add the garlic, rosemary, thyme and butter into the pan.

Then baste the chicken. Basting is technically pouring the oil in the cooking over the meat. Use a spoon, scoop out some oil, then pour over the chicken.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the pan and let it rest. Then we make a roux *a thickening agent for the sauce*. Making a roux is easy, it's equal parts fat and starch. In our case, the fat that we are going to use is the one we have just used for the chicken.

Add some starch, mine is an all-purpose flour. Then cook it for just a little while to remove the starchy taste.

Then add the orange sauce that we have set aside awhile ago. Pour over a little at a time so that you can control the consistency. Try scraping the pan with a spoon too since there will be good flavored fonds there.

Lastly, mount in some butter to give that extra rich and creamy flavor. In french cooking they call this monte au beurre. Normally, you can make the sauce in advance, then when you want to serve your dish, reheat the sauce, then mount some butter.

Lastly, plate the chicken, cut some chicken then place the sauce around it. Simple plating. :D


Presentation is a little dull. It lacks color. I was first thinking of making a pure orange sauce out from to give it a nice orange color, however; the extra rich flavor that is in the cooking pan will be put to waste if I don't use it, so I did what I did.

Flavor was great. The sauce was spectacular. The only problem was that there were bites that overpowered the chicken. Duck meat could have paired better with this sauce since duck has that robust flavor that will complement really well with my sauce. Still, flavors were great.

Lastly, the chicken breast were cooked nicely. It wasn't dry and it was pretty moist. Moreover, the thin layer of skin on the breast was great with the moist breast meat. Yum :D

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mise en place - Chicken Stock

Mise en place is a french culinary term meaning 'putting in place' or 'everything in place'. Professional kitchen do their mise en place so that during service hours, cooking is faster and easier. Technically, your 'miz' is your prep work in your kitchen. This the time when you make and set aside all the things that can be done in advance like flavored oil, stocks, chiffonades of herbs, sauces etc.. Moreover, it is also about placing everything that must have already been prepared in advance on your work place like cuts of beef, kitchen tools etc..

Normally, the mise en place I do in my small kitchen is all about making stock since it will take you a pretty long while to finish making a stock. A good stock is the foundation of any french cooking, and in my humble opinion, to any cooking.

Stock making is also difficult. It is not just toss everything into the pot and done. There are certain criteria that one looks into their stock: flavor, aroma, body, color, *I think am missing one more*

So here is my prep table for that.

I cut the mirepoix (50% onion, 25% carrots, 25% celery) into large pieces. You want to cut these into large pieces because they will be cooking for at least 4 hours. For the mirepoix, you can change your percentage depending on your taste. I prefer more celery in my mirepoix. :D

After doing that, roast or sear some chicken bones/backs to bring out some of its flavors. I used 1kg of chicken backs for my stock.

Pour in some water to cover your kitchen and bring it to a boil then simmer for around 1 hour to let the flavors of the chicken infuse with the liquid. While doing that, prepare some fresh thyme, parsley, bay leaf, some peppercorns, and 2 whole cloves, tie them all together. After letting the chicken simmer, add the 'sachet' *the herb mix*

Then add the mirepoix and you will have something like this.

Then bring it to a boil again then simmer it again for another 3 hours. Skim if there are any scums. Then strain everything using a strainer, better if using a chinois. :D

The good thing about a stock, it freezes really well. What you should do, since you have liters of stock, get some containers and a couple cups of stock into those containers. So when you need them in the future, just get a container and throw it into the pan. :D

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ultimate Sinless and Guiltless Ice Cream

My mom and I were in Healthy Option the other day and saw an unbelievable product: a 136 calorie pint ice cream.

It comes with strawberries and banana flavors only. The strange part of this product is the packaging. It is packed in a way that you eat the whole thing once only since the cover is nor resealable! Well, for a 136 calories, you can really eat it in one shot, I mean, a serving of wheat bread has more calories to it! Lolz. Anyhow, this is actually a good substitute for those who have sweet cravings during their diets just don't expect that it will taste like the normal ones.


The company did very well for an ice cream that is 136 calories a pint. The texture was better than I expected. It had a good mouth feel for something that has no cream at all. You will feel that it melts it your mouth like real ice cream for only 1 second then everything seems like ice melting in your mouth. The taste was pretty subtle. It took me awhile to get the taste of the banana. The only thing that makes it taste like strawberry is because it is a little sour.

At the end of the day, it is a good alternative if you are on a diet, but I think it is not a good substitute for a real ice cream :D

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Milk, Shredded Coconut and Red Beans

I was watching Bobby Chinn the other day at Discovery Travel and Living. His main cuisine is that of Vietnamese, however; during that episode, he was in Thailand and decided to create a Thai dessert: Mango sticky rice.

His version was simpler, he created the sticky rice with some coconut milk and place some diced mangoes beside it. As I watched him, his dessert reminded me much of our own Philippine sticky rice dish: the 'Biko".

With that in mind, I also created my own version of the mango sticky rice which is very similar with the biko.

First, get some sticky rice or 'malagkit' and cook it. You can easily find this in the grocery or in your local market. Then, as you cook the rice, get some mango and puree it.

Put that slice of mango in your blender and it must look like this.

Next, get a saucepan and heat the coconut milk with some sugar. Melt the sugar in it.

When the coconut mixture is ready, combine some of the mango puree and coconut mixture together. Set aside some coconut milk mixture. This will be your mixture for the mango sticky rice.

Mix the mango-coconut milk mixture with your sticky rice.

After mixing, just assemble it! It is pretty easy, the base is the mango sticky rice, then add some shredded coconut on top of it. To top everything, add some canned red beans. Pour some of the extra coconut milk beside the whole dish and there you go!


First of all, what I like about this dish is that it's a local dish. All ingredients came from the Philippines, meaning, you can expect the quality of the ingredients be very good.

Second, the texture was better than I expected. It seems I undermined the texture of the sticky rice because I thought that it would be mushy, then again, it wasn't. A bite will give you a burst of texture of the sticky rice, shredded coconut and red beans. I felt the every bit of grain of rice there was and the texture of the three elements were quite unique and meld harmoniously with one another.

Lastly, the sharp sourness of the mango paired really well with the richness of the coconut milk. Moreover, the earthy bitter taste of the red beans gave a good balance with the overall sweetness of the dish. This gave a good balance to the dish.

All in all, I was surprised with the dish, it was better than I expected. I feel this dish was well executed and I was happy about it. :D

Saturday, September 19, 2009

145 Farenheit - Steak Splurge

We were supposed to watch a movie the other day, unfortunately; my sister's mother-in-law, Auntie Alice, needed a ride home from her shop so we went back to get her and missed the movie. Fortunately, Clark, my sister's husband, told us that since we missed the movie, we'll just have a nice steak for the evening. And lo and behold, it was the best steak of my life *as of the moment* :D

145F is located in Il Terrace, near ABS-CBN. It is a high-end steak house with a cozy ambiance and great cutleries. They have a nice interior with comfortable chairs. It has a good 'high ceiling' and has a good selection of wines.

This is the place were they expediate the food. Orders go there and orders are sent. Nice kitchen eh? :D

That's their wine rack. Nice selection and well chilled at the right temperature. :)

So that's a small peek of what 145F looks like. :D *sorry for the blurry shot, left is my sister, right is Clark*

The first thing I liked about this place is their bread. They have freshly baked bread served to us. What I like about it is that their rolls have a contrast of texture. It has a very nice thin crust on the outside and has a very light and soft texture on the inside. The rolls were really made perfectly. Moreover, adding rosemary to the rolls gave it a nice woodsy aroma that compliments really well with the 'steakhouse ambiance'.

Great dinner rolls *it made me want to learn baking rolls*

Their butter is infused with some pickled relish instead of herbs. The sweetness of the butter relish paired really well with their rosemary rolls.

There you go, a real match :D

We also ordered their house wine. A Beringer 2006 to pair it with our meal :D

Our first order arrived. Yay! It's a sirloin roast with mushroom pepper sauce and beef jus. It came in with our side dishes of creamed corn and mash potatoes. They said that it can feed four people :D

The flavors were strong. It has this good dense beef flavor that I was looking for. As I bit it, juices of the beef came out. Yummy! This shows that the meat was well rested before it was served to us *around 10 mins of resting*. Furthermore, the color of the meat shows that it was rested because if it wasn't, drips of blood will ooze out and making it redder.

The creamed corn flavor of the creamed corn was fantastic. Its sweetness wasn't that of a heavy one and I love eating it after every bite of the steak. It cleans your palate after eating so the dense beef flavor is wiped away and covered by the smooth texture of the cream.

The mashed potatoes was ok. It didn't fascinate me that much. I think it lacked some rich flavor that I was looking for. I think adding more butter and cream will improve this side dish a lot more. The texture, however; was that of what I was looking for in a mashed potatoes. Smooth texture without and gritty feeling of it in my mouth.

The next order arrived after 2 mins. It was fillet mignon. And I must say, after having this first bite.

It was like heaven!! Very light and soft texture! It was like eating a marshmallow only it has a beef flavor. This was the best piece of meat that I have eaten in my whole life *at that time* It puts any other steaks to shame. Really. It was also seared nicely giving it a nutty crusty texture and flavor too! This was actually the order of Auntie Alice. Nice one :D

The risotto arrived with the fillet mignon. It was ok. Nothing special really. I think because it was too salty for me but the flavor was good in a way that the mushrooms gave the dish a strong earthy flavor, but that's about it. :D

So we just chatted and enjoyed the meal at 145F. All in all, it was one of the best meal I had. Food was great, service was great. The waiters were trained to 'dance and disappear'. Moreover, I never have to ask for the waiter to fill my glass of water. And the best part of all, bread was unlimited :D

Note: If you were to cook your steaks at home, make sure the temperature of the core of the meat is 145F :D

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Low Fat Egg Salad Canape

I want to lessen my calorie intake since am getting huge again and I was thinking of an alternative binder for fillings the other day. So often than not, we usually use mayo for our filling, however; there is just too much calories in it. A tablespoon will cost us 100 calories. Ugh...

While getting some basil for my pesto the other day in Santis, something clicked! The solution for my binder alternative: Cottage Cheese.

It is even low fat! Lucky me! A tablespoon is like 20-30 calories only :D

Am not sure if you can see it, but it has a creamy consistency with little lumps of the cheese. It is perfect for my alternative binder. With that in my hand, I made an egg salad canape! Yum!

It was really easy to make. Just make a simple egg salad, combine hardboiled egg and cottage cheese, season it with salt and pepper, something like this.

Then assemble it! Toast on the bottom, greens on top of it. Canapes are supposed to be small appetizers. They must be eaten easily and it must look appetizing with good flavor and texture.


I like the flavor profile. The cottage cheese paired really well with the egg. It also binded the egg salad really well. For me, it just lacked color. I added some pepper flakes for the color but it seems that it wasn't enough. Oh well, it was still good :D