Saturday, April 24, 2010

Unbelievable Buttery Shortbread

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I’ve always had an inclination in favoring simple shortbread biscuits over rich chocolate cookies. Technically speaking a biscuit is a cookie in the U.K., and since the shortbread I’m raving about is from Scotland, we’ll call it a biscuit. I particularly like how the shortbread crumbles in your mouth. Shortbread is so named because of its crumbly texture from an old meaning of the word short, containing or cooked with shortening, such as butter. The cause of this texture is its high fat content, provided by the butter. Hence it’s crumblyness. Aside from it being delicate, it still is heavy because it’s unleavened. Like most commercial cookies they are almost always made with some form of leavening agent such as baking powder which gives it a different texture.

I so happened to come across a curios looking package containing shortbread biscuits while I was scrounging around Duty Free when I got back from Hong Kong. It was packaged simply without any extravagance at all that would indicate the makers to have hugely invested in their marketing strategy to sell their product. It was quite pricey, about $3.99 for a 160gram pack. But nonetheless I had to try it.

At first bite, Walker’s Pure Butter Shortbread did not disappoint me at all. It boasted of using the same Scottish family recipe since 1898. In fact, I could hear bagpipes playing in the background.

Since I tried Walker’s Pure Butter Shortbread, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. It’s not readily available in the groceries. So if you come across it, indulge yourself and try it. Who knows, this time you might get to have tea with Sean Connery.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Great Italian Meatball

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For anyone wishing it would rain meatballs like in the animated flick, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, here’s the next best thing. I always like my meatballs huge, but not gigantic. I want them juicy and tasty. Of course good sauce would make you the perfect spaghetti and meatballs dish but Del Monte’s Italian spaghetti sauce works perfect for me, especially when I can store a batch of meatballs in the freezer and have it anytime I want. Because I know for a fact how expensive this can be at supposedly a fastfood joint such as Sbarro’s.

Growing up, meatballs has always been a quick and easy solution for lunch when school’s out. The ones I grew up with are really simple, just the usual ground pork mix with onions etc. Since I started my love affair with dogs, I try to minimize the use of onions, although I must admit, it is almost a necessity in every Filipino dish, but for my meatballs, no onion is required. I tend to give a tiny little nibble to my babies as a treat sometimes.

Ingredients:

1kilo ground beef
1/2 c. bread cut into pieces
1 egg
1/4 c. finely minced fresh parsley
1/4 c. Parmesan or Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
8 to 10 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 small white onion, finely chopped

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and shape it into the size you think is a perfect meatball size for you. What I do once I’ve balled all the meat is I steam them till they’re cooked. Because if they’re quite big, it doesn’t completely cook all the way through the middle if it’s fried. And if you fry them till the middle part is cooked, it tends to be too toasty for my taste. Once they’ve been steamed, cool them for a bit before you freeze them. Then whenever you’re craving for spaghetti and meatballs, or just plain meatballs, you can fry them either in olive oil or whatever kind of oil you fancy. Don’t forget to sprinkle extra cheese.

Craving For Inexpensive Alternative To Nutella

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Lately I’ve been craving for the taste of hazelnut chocolate spread. Nutella automatically pops into your head. The consistency is like the chocolate dip of Yan-Yan sticks but it’s got a sharper nuttier taste to it that just hits home run.

First time I tried hazelnut chocolate spread it was Crumpy Duo. With its white cream mix, it left the hazelnut taste almost unrecognizable. And its consistency was a bit thicker than Nutella. With Nutella being way over priced as usual with everything imported in the Philippines, I began to experiment with different chocolate hazelnut spreads that are a lot cheaper. I came across one called Nusica. It comes in a glass bottle, with the color of its printed paper really dull, so you’ll miss it if you’re not really looking for it. It’s made in Holland which is a country that produces fairly decent if not good chocolate. A 400 gram bottle costs P102 as against a 400 gram bottle of Nutella which costs around P250. The consistency is almost the same, if not as creamy. It has a less prominent hazelnut flavor, but all in all, it’s a lot better than the other chocolate hazelnut spreads available. And you save over P140.

So next time you’re thinking twice about indulging yourself with Nutella, try Nusica. It won’t hurt your pocket, but it will surely satiate your craving.

The Perfect American Breakfast Sausage

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A few years back, I always thought that to get the perfect American breakfast, everything had to come from the States. So I either had to spend double or even triple the cost of anything American I was craving for or wait until someone from the States brought me some. One such example is Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Links. For anyone who ever ate at Denny’s or International House of Pancakes (IHOP), any one of these two restaurants are my first stop as soon as the plane lands. Nothing beats a hearty American breakfast whatever time you get there.

To save me a plane ticket, one day, I finally got tired of spending too much on something that I know only costs 97cents at Albertsons. Everything that you ever tasted and tickled your taste buds can be made. It takes a lot of trial and error when you’re trying to get the perfect bite. But eventually you’ll get there.

I will be sharing this very simple recipe, because I’ve tried a number of them and only found this one to be the closest in taste to Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Links. The secret is not to over mix it to get the perfect texture to your sausage. The tedious part is trying to shape it into something that looks like a sausage link. I prefer doing the rolling and shaping myself lest you don't mind other people fondling your sausage. No pun intended.

Ingredients:

1 kilo ground pork (preferably not lean, because it's the fats that makes the sausage juicy)

2 teaspoons rock salt

1 1/2 teaspoons roughly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons sage

2 teaspoons thyme

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( I always use the packet that is leftover from pizza deliveries)

Directions:

Just combine ground pork with all other ingredients and roll them into links, or if you prefer, mold them into patties.

Breakfast links also comes in maple flavored packages. If you are looking for the maple taste you can try substituting the brown sugar for maple syrup, it'll make the sausages smell really good while frying them. I on the other hand tend to have sausages with pancakes topped with maple syrup, so I don't really mind the original recipe. But as I always say, it all depends on how you like it.