Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Recipe | Battered Fries

One of the reasons why I didn't get to read as much books in 2015 compared to 2014 is because I always distract myself watching YouTube videos - especially those food related ones, be it about street food around the world or baking tutorial...until I chanced upon HellthyJunkFood's channel. From their dish recreation of KFC's Chizza, I binged watched their videos, until I get to see this -

...a video tutorial on how to recreate Arby's Curly Fries. Now, there is no Arby's in the Philippines, but this reminded me of McDonald's Curly Fries as well as KFC's French Fries, which had a thin batter unlike the other Fries that is pure potatoes and salt (or flavoring powder). Anyway, even if we don't have the spiral cutter and that the nearby supermarket only sells frozen French Fries, I still wanted to try this one out.

If you didn't watch the video I shared above, and if you didn't pause to 1:48 of the video to see the full ingredients, here's what you need for the batter:
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 cup Water 
  • Oil for deep frying
The procedure is very simple - heat oil for frying, and mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Toss the potatoes and fry them once your oil is hot enough.

Unfortunately, simple as it may be, I must admit I went through a trial and error phase for this dish.

First time I tried it, I was very hesitant in adding that much salt and paprika, so I ended up just putting one and a half teaspoons of salt and one tablespoon of paprika. I placed all the dry ingredients in the bowl and poured all the water needed. It resulted to a very thin batter that won't stick to the fries. I added a little more flour to make it look like the batter used in the video, and this very small batch was the one that my sister and I shared. We both agreed that it lacked salt, but it had a good mix of flavors.

The second time I tried it, I mixed all the dry ingredients needed, and added the water slowly, and ended up not using all of the 1 cup needed for the batter. This batch was difficult to cook. The batter won't crisp up (compared to the last batch) - it looked soggy, and it turns very brown almost immediately, making the potatoes mushy and very very soft. I ended up frying the potatoes twice - not minding if it would look very toasted.

Doing all the adjustments needed, I found the balance when making the third batch. For this, I only added one tablespoon of paprika and added all the water needed, still adding it gradually to check the consistency of the batter. I was able to fry the potatoes for a longer time as I do prefer my fries crispy. Confident now to serve this to my mom and sister, I sprinkled a little parmesan cheese for added flavor and I made the dip by mixing mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, finely minced garlic (just one small clove), a few drops of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sugar (plus chopped spring onions).

I loved how this turned out, and my sister said discovering this recipe from HellthyJunkFood might make us into Battered Fries converts.

If you want to elevate your usual home-cooked French Fries, you might want to check this out. This post is in no way connected to HellthyJunkFood, but I would take this chance to invite you to check their page, they do offer lots of interesting recreations of fast food dishes. I am now thinking of recreating the KFC Chizza and the Mountain Dew Wings.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Weekend Eating | Bookstagrammers Day Off


Aside from food, the other thing I am "passionate" about is books. Sometime in 2014, I decided to shift to an Instagram page dedicated to books - what I read, what I bought... things like that. I am blessed to have met fellow bookstagrammers who became online friends, then later, real life friends.

Last Saturday, we decided to meet up just to enjoy life outside Instagram.

I first met up with Eunice and Rexy at Glorietta. These two girls have been my friends on Instagram the longest; and we decided to eat lunch at Pizza Warehouse, a food place somewhat similar to the S&R Pizza place. I went for a slice of Pepperoni Pizza and a cup of softdrinks, and I did like the taste of their pizza, though it was a little oily (typical to pepperoni pizza, I guess).

I wasn't able to take food pictures, but this picture I took and shared on my Instagram page, to showcase the gifts Rexy gave me. We don't chat on Viber as much as I chat with the other girls, but I am touched that she took note of the things I love - cats, food, and watercolors. I especially loved the spoon and fork paperclip book marks, I already know what to do with it.

After lunch and a quick stroll around the mall, we went to Bonifacio High Street (Bonifacio Global City) to meet with other bookstagrammers-turned-friends - Lei, Arra, Avy, Jovel, and Janna. We did shop a little at Fullybooked, then later, we stayed at Serendra to share hearty laughs and this ginormous set of churros from La Lola. I ate a piece of the chocolate covered churros, and it was different from the rest of the churros I ate before.

It has been a great day. I look forward to our next get together.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Weekend Eating | Healthy Shabu-Shabu (Shangri-La Plaza)

Years ago, I used to talk about Weekend Eating here on my blog - be it a family's food trip or trying a new recipe. I want to get back to that, starting today.

09 January is dad's birth anniversary. If he would be alive, he would be 69 years old today. On that day this year, the girls and I decided to spend a weekend together - going to ACE Water Spa and checking in at a hotel for some staycation.  We chose to stay at Red Planet Hotels in Ortigas, and since Shangri-La Plaza Mall is just a walking distance away, we thought about eating Shabu-Shabu (or Hot Pot) because it was one of daddy's favorite food, and was something we learned about through him.

Healthy Shabu-Shabu is a popular hot pot place, my sister speaks highly of because of their food's quality and value for money. For this food trip, we decided to go for two individual sets because we seriously couldn't eat one set each. Our choice were beef  striploin and prawns.

This is how one set looks like - a plate of thinly sliced beef, a plate with pechay, napa cabbage, shiitake mushroom, a carrot, a wedge of tomato, corn, tofu, crab sticks, mushroom balls, squid balls and two kinds of noodles - glass noodles and egg noodles. Also included in the set were - minced garlic, chopped chilies, chopped spring onions, sate sauce, an egg and a small bowl of brothy sauce.

As usual, we let sister lead the way in preparing the dish - letting the broth boil and placing ingredients one after another, starting with the ingredient that would cook longer. The restaurant gives free broth refill, but because we could only eat one serving, we decided to just jam all the ingredients inside the pot.

As for the sauce, what you need to do is - add half of the garlic and spring onions (plus the amount of chilis you prefer) in the small bowl of sauce, crack the egg and dip the yolk on the hot pot to cook it a little. Once it reached the soft boiled stage, add it to the sauce and mix it together. The other half of what's left, including the egg white, you place in the pot before adding the rest of ingredients.

My sister is allergic to seafood, so she ate more of the beef, mom ate more of the prawns, and I ate more of... balls. Yes, balls. Personally, I prefer the balls in hot pot, so I ordered extra squid balls and mushroom balls and ate them with gusto.

We paid 900+ for both sets. Still a good amount to pay for two hot pot of comfort and joy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Recipe | Garlic Parmesan Wings

It is true, planning what to cook for a few people. For Noche Buena, my sister and I decided we will go for finger food, and among the different dishes we lined up, we both voted for Nachos and Chicken Wings. She allowed me to choose the flavor for the wings, and because I am not (now) into spicy food (heartburn), I searched thru YouTube for different wings recipes.

I came across CopyKat Recipes by Stephanie Manley, who posted a video tutorial for Wingstop's Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings. I still haven't dined at Wingstop, but this sounded good, so I jot down the recipe and made it on Christmas Eve.

Stephanie's original recipe -

Wingstop Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings
Serves - 4

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley for garnish - if desired
How to Cook

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Blend together flour, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper and ground black pepper. Cut wings and dredge them in the flour. 
  • Heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry wings for about 5 to 7 minutes, and then drain on a wire rack. Depending upon the side of your pot fry 5 or 6 wings at a time. Be sure to stir the wings once during cooking to make sure that the wings cook evening. Cook the wings until they just begin to brown. 
  • Bake wings for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Prepare the sauce by melting the butter and the garlic powder in a small pan. 
  • When the wings have finished cooking in the oven place the wings into a large bowl. 
  • Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese into the melted butter. 
  • Pour the melted garlic butter over the wings and toss until the wings are well coated.
  • Serve the wings by sprinkling the remaining Parmesan cheese top of the wings.

I only cooked six pieces (from 3 full wings), so I kinda just eye-balled the amount of ingredients to be used. I cooked this around 11pm on Christmas Eve, and only have an hour to cook, so I went for full frying method, skipping the baking part. For this recipe, I went for the double-fying technique, frying three pieces of chicken on low/medium heat for about 10 minutes, allowing it to rest while I fry the next batch. As soon as the second batch rests, I will re-fry the first batch of chicken in medium/high heat until it becomes golden and crispy. Right after taking this batch off the oil, I then coat it with the sauce and repeat the process with the second batch.

Since this is the first time I cooked such dish, I was a little hesitant in adding garlic powder, so the lack of garlic taste was evident. Even so, the dish tasted good, and the parmesan cheese gave it a new kind of saltiness that we really liked. A fairly easy dish to cook, for sure I will cook this again, but the next time I do, I might marinade the chicken in milk and garlic and I might use real garlic cloves while melting the butter. I didn't make a dipping sauce for this, I just added in some drops of hot sauce for a little kick. I will update this post once I try this recipe again.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcoming 2016

Christmas, it was just three girls celebrating the event. It was a good thing that we didn't prepare too much food, for it might get wasted. However, even if we didn't have a lot of food on the table, my sister and I had to face a lot of dishes to be washed, and since it is chilly during Christmastime, we found too tedious of a task to wash the dishes. For New Year, my sister suggested that we order cooked food instead. My mom and I agreed to this, and our first choice was to order food at Amber.

Choosing Amber had its risks, biggest of all was the location. The nearest branch to us is the one in Tomas Morato, and it was difficult to gauge the time - will there be heavy traffic, will there be public utility vehicles on the road, will the food last 'til midnight without getting stale. It was a risk we took, and we were grateful that Amber still accepts orders for delivery / pick-up even on New Year's eve. We opted to pick it up because aside from these food, we still had to buy round fruits, and we wanted to all in one go.

It was months ago when I last went to Tomas Morato, when I attended the grand opening of Book and Borders Cafe. That day, I got to see Amber's branch across the cafe, so I knew where to pick up our orders. Unfortunately, when we alight the jeepney, the branch was closed and we were told that a new branch opened four blocks away. We had no choice but to walk, but we were surprised that it was more than four blocks away. Hahaha. No worries, we did like the workout and we were greeted with warm, friendly faces, so all was fine.

We got home as early as we predicted, and since we had to refrigerate the food in time for midnight (it was only 2pm), we took pictures first, thinking that when we reheat the pansit and the lumpia, it won't look as good as this anymore.

What we served for Media Noche -

Pork BBQ.
At 22 pesos a piece, it sure looked small, but we love the thick cut meat pieces. The only negative thing we could say is that it felt as if it wasn't 100% smoked - like it was boiled first, or that it was grilled on gas grill. It lacked that charcoal smell and smoke flavor.

Lumpiang Shanghai.
The very first time I dined at Amber, my sister and I tried their single serving of Spaghetti and Pansit Bihon (or was it Canton, I forgot). Checking the menu, I also wanted to try their Lumpiang Shanghai, but we didn't order it because the noodles were already enough for us. When I phoned in our order, my sister didn't list this one (though I requested for it) because it was not listed on their Delivery Menu. Good thing, the person at the Amber's call center suggested this dish, and learning it was only 8 pesos each (minimum of 5 pieces per order), I placed an order for 10 pieces.

It was very crunchy (I had one as soon as we got home). The filling was a little difficult to explain - it sure felt as if it had more finely grated vegetable (couldn't tell if it was singkamas or water chestnuts or potato or unripe papaya), but it sure tasted really good! I think I already found my favorite Lumpiang Shanghai ever!

Pansit Malabon.
My sister loves Amber's Pansit Malabon... me, not so much. It was delicious, don't get me wrong, but I personally prefer the oily kind of Pansit Malabon. Regardless of how it was prepared, Pansit Malabon (or sometimes Pansit Palabok) is considered as one of my favorite foods, so I was very satisfied with this dish.

Aside from Pansit Malabon, Amber is known for their Pichi-Pichi, which is also a family favorite. It was lightly sweetened, it was smooth, the cheese they used wasn't so salty, and it didn't have the "visible" lye flavor I hated in native delicacies like this one and in Kutsinta. We usually order their Cheese Pichi-Pichi, and wanted to try their Coconut Pichi-Pichi, but we feared it might get stale even before we eat it. Maybe next time we will go for that.

Leche Flan.
Now this was something my mom ordered from our next door neighbor. Last Christmas, this neighbor of ours delivered a tub of Leche Flan, saying another one of our neighbors ordered from her and asked to deliver it as their Christmas gift. We loved it - it was creamy and silky smooth, and it wasn't overly sweet, so mom ordered five tubs for New Year. Before I took the picture, mom already gave two tubs away, and another one was given to our relative.

Fried Tilapia.
They say Media Noche has to include one whole fish. We usually go for steamed fish, and we were too lazy to grill, so we just fried a big piece of tilapia. The seaweeds were given by Aunt Mary (straight from Bolinao, Pangasinan), and was the perfect partner for the fish. I love this kind of seaweeds - bigger, and has a kick of spice. Very flavorful.

With the food preparation out of our to-do list, we were able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and early night time just relaxing and catching up on TV shows missed. I guess this will now be our yearly tradition.

2015 is not really that great of a year for me as far as blogging is concerned, but I am optimistic, 2016 will be a better year. Thank you for reading my posts.

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Jenn, the Foodie

I come from a family who loves cooking and eating. I never had any formal training in cooking and that I taught myself how to cook based on the handed down recipes, but I could say that I can cook good food. In 2008, I started documenting my food trips for my travel blog, and since I have quite enough to start a food blog, might as well put all those food trips in one location. Thus, a food blog is born - thanks to the new Friendster Blogs. However, due to several problems, I was left with no choice but to pack bags again and move here instead. Here's the permanent address, promise! Enough talk, let the food trippin' begin! {Know More About Me}