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Shrimp, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Salted Duck Egg Pasta

After a two-month break, Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge is back with a very interesting theme for the month of February...and that is "PULANG ITLOG" (Red Egg) or what's also known as Itlog na Maalat (Salted Eggs) in the Philippines.

Like other Filipinos, I really enjoy eating itlog na maalat. I love it as a filling for pandesal, as a topping for bibingka and large ensaymadas, and as an accompaniment to any fried fish. When I was young, I loved eating it with daing na bangus for breakfast. I remember my mom slicing the salted eggs into wedges and serving it with diced onions and tomatoes and the fried daing na bangus. Hmmmm...that was one simple meal that never failed to satisfy my tummy! Having that on our table would always make me eat more rice than I usually do! 

For this month's Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge, I decided to share a recipe that I created instead of the above mentioned ways that we Filipinos use salted eggs for. I call it Shrimp, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Salted Duck Egg Pasta. It's a simple pasta dish that uses itlog na maalat  both in the sauce and topping, and that gives it an interesting texture. 

Easy Baked Chilean Sea Bass on Bed of Roasted Potatoes, Tomatoes and Onions

After enjoying the wonderful Prime Angus Filet Mignon from Certified Steak and Seafood Company, I just couldn't wait to try the Chilean Sea Bass that was also sent to me. Chilean Sea Bass, as you know is a soft, smooth fish with a rich melt-in-your-mouth flavor that's popular in restaurants across America. But did you know that Chilean Sea Bass does not necessarily come from Chile and is certainly not a sea bass? It's actually just the marketing name for the fish called Patagonian Toothfish which is not always fished in the waters of Chile, but Chileans were the first to market it so the name just stuck.

Chilean Sea Bass is not listed as endangered species however, due to its premium value, it is subject to illegal fishing which depleted the population of this fish. In addition, the longlines commonly used to catch Chilean Sea Bass hook and drown thousands of endangered albatrosses and other seabirds each year. So whenever you purchase this fish, please make sure it comes from a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified market. Though I didn't see any certification mark on the Chilean Sea Bass that I received, the good quality that I've seen in each fish fillet, made me believe that all the products of Certified Steak and Seafood Company came from certified sources and their Chilean Sea Bass are harvested and processed under close inspection of the National Marine Fishery Service.

To keep the flavor of the fish, I prepared it in a very simple manner. By simple I mean simply sprinkling each fillet with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cajun seasoning...and baking it for 20 minutes! To make it a complete meal, I roasted potatoes, onions and tomatoes which I also sprinkled with the same seasoning as the fish, then I simply layered the fish on top of the roasted veggies...and VOILA!  

Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon with Balsamic Red Wine Sauce

If you are following PiTCC on Facebook then you might have seen this gorgeous Filet Mignon plate on our page last Valentine's Day. 
Rather than fighting the crowd to get an expensive meal at an overrated restaurant,  I decided to just prepare a lovely dinner for my family using the Prime Angus Filet Mignon that was sent to me by Certified Steak and Seafood Company as part of their ongoing promotion.

French Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Making French Macarons has been in my to-try list since I started blogging...but I've read so much about how finicky it is to make. I even remember reading in one article that "making French Macarons takes skill and is not advised for novice bakers". That intimidated me and I decided to just set aside my dream of being able to serve my daughters homemade French Macarons. I was already contented of just buying these treats from a nearby store at $1.50 per small piece (1 inch in diameter) or $12 per dozen...and I never thought I would ever dare to try making them myself! Thanks to my friends at Baking Partners, especially to Vidhya of A Portion to Share and Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen who chose the theme for this month's challenge. Because of them, I was inspired to turn a long time dream into a reality...and now I know that making French Macarons at home is totally do-able and actually not that hard! The troubleshooting guide from Foodnouveau and  howtocookthat's YouTube video provided me everything a first timer French Macaron baker should know! 
I followed a simple French Macaron recipe from Martha Stewart which only requires a few ingredients. I couldn't find almond flour so I decided to just make use of blanched slivered almonds and ground them myself. I've read before that grinding blanched almonds in a food processor won't work. They need to be ground in a special way that prevents them from becoming oily, so I thought I'd use a coffee grinder. Well, it worked well for me. 

All the tutorials I've read suggested that to be more accurate, weighing the ingredients is better compared to just measuring them in cups. I stick to using cups though, but I see to it that everything is exactly measured. I must say that I really had a great first time experience in making French Macarons, and I've learned that if you just measure everything accurately and not over beat the meringue nor over mixed the batter, even the most novice baker can make good French Macarons! The only difficulty I had was shaping them into equal sizes. I even printed templates for 1 inch circles and put them between the cookie sheet and the non-stick parchment paper that I lined it with...but my macs still came out in different sizes. :) Oh well, you can't expect much from a first timer, right? But my daughters said my macs tasted a lot better compared to these ones they usually eat. 

Lengua De Gato

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so I thought I'd bring you another Filipino favorite to sweeten your celebration. Known as Lengua De Gato, these thin buttery sugar cookies shaped like cat’s tongue can make a wonderful treat for the sweet ones in your life...

In the Philippines, Lenguas De Gato which are usually packed in a clear plastic jar with yellow lid, are a favorite “pasalubong” (homecoming gift), and you can find them in bus terminals, roadside pasalubong stalls and now, even in the mall and grocery stores. I haven't had these treats for years, so when I saw a recipe for Lengua De Gato in my new Goldilocks Bakebook, I was so anxious to try it! I immediately made two batches, one with the regular butter flavor...and the other one, with a hint of chocolate. They're really easy to make. The only thing I found difficulty with is making them into equal size cat's tongues. :) I also noticed that the plain butter ones didn't turn out as yellowish as they're supposed to be. I even added one egg yolk to the recipe, but they still turned out pale. But they are delicious and close enough to the Lengua De Gato I've always loved. Try it yourself...I'm sure that like me, you will love their melt-in-your-mouth goodness! 

Wishing you all a HAPPY VALENTINE"S DAY!

Easy Chicken Satay

Yesterday marks the first day of the 15-day celebration of Chinese New Year. Though my family and I don't celebrate it, I thought it would be nice to enjoy an Asian dinner instead of the usual pasta or pizza that we normally have on a Sunday night. I got a sampler pack from Thai Kitchen® through Foodie Blogroll last week, so I decided to try making Satay Partay - a delicious chicken dish featuring Thai Kitchen®'s Coconut Milk, Premium Fish Sauce, Red Curry Paste, Lemongrass and Peanut Satay Sauce. This is an adaptation of the Satay recipe which originated in Indonesia and is also popular in other Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Thailand. If you have tried making Chicken Satay before, you know how much ingredients you will need to make the perfect spice paste and peanut satay sauce needed in making this delectable dish. If you want to enjoy Chicken Satay but want to save time, using off-the-shelf satay marinade will be an excellent option. Thai Kitchen® can help you with that! They offer a complete line of Asian ingredients and convenience items, including sauces, curry pastes, fish sauce, coconut milk, noodle kits, and more which are great when you want to serve something up quick. Most of their products are free of gluten, artificial colors/flavors and MSG, so you can feel good about serving them to your family.
We all enjoyed our dinner last night. Thanks to Thai Kitchen®'s Coconut MilkPremium Fish SauceRed Curry Paste and Peanut Satay Sauce, I was able to prepare an authentic tasting Chicken Satay with less time and effort! My daughters said the Thai Kitchen®'s Satay Partay tastes close enough to the Chicken Satay I've made before, the recipe of which I got from Rasa Malaysia. I still prefer making everything from scratch whenever possible, but during busy weeknights or when I'm hosting parties or I'm being too lazy to spend time in the kitchen, I can always use help from a dependable convenience food product line like that of Thai Kitchen®. The best thing about it is no one would even know that I didn’t make it all from scratch because the ingredients taste so fresh! 

Thai Kitchen® products are available in most grocery stores here in the US so be sure to check and try them out for your next big party or even for your regular family dinner. Their website features an extensive library of easy and quick recipes that I'm sure you'll love to try!

Mamon Espesyal

With Valentine's Day coming up, I thought of sharing with you one of my favorite Filipino treats. It's not something chocolatey, but who says Valentine's Day is all about chocolates? It is a day to show our love and appreciation for those we care about, and I believe one of the perfect ways to do that is to give them homemade sweet treats (which doesn't necessarily mean something with chocolates!). Homemade treats never fail to show your thoughtfulness and for me, it's the simplest but sweetest way to say "I love you". The effort and time you spent in making them will never go to waste, I tell yah! But don't get me don't have to spend the whole day in the kitchen. Neither do you need to be an experienced cook to make something lovely and yummy. Like these Mamon, for instance...
It only took me a little mixing and less than 30 minutes to make them! Mamon is the Filipino version of sponge cake which is really soft and tasty. What makes Mamon different from regular sponge cake is that they are baked in small molds which are good for individual servings. They are usually served for merienda (snack), and can be eaten plain or topped with butter and grated cheddar cheese. The ones with toppings are what you call Mamon Espesyal (Special Mamon). When I was growing up, only the regular Mamon was available. I was already in college when I first got to try the one with toppings. Well, I honestly love them both...and believe me, they make perfect gifts for any occasion.

Follow these easy steps (adapted from Goldilocks Bakebook) and enjoy Filipino-style mini sponge cakes yourself!