Friday, May 30, 2008

Minestra di Hierba

Here is a hearty soup that is very easy to make. This is a perfect starter for any meal, best served with seafood dishes. It is a soup made with seafood broth and infused with herbs and spices. You could also use this as a base for your seafood soups. Give it a try. It is perfect for one cold, rainy evening with that special someone or over a good book.

Herb Soup


1L Water or seafood broth (I prefer shellfish broth)
4 bay leaves
12 Pepper corns
1 medium Red onion, minced
2 medium sized Tomatoes, seeded and sliced
1 t dried chili flakes
1 ½ inch of Ginger, crushed or sliced
1 Celery stalk, chopped
1 large Potato, cubed
1C Corn kernels
2 Eggs, beaten
¾ C Shrimps, boiled and shelled
2 C small Clams
300g Mussels
1 t Salt
1 t White pepper
Onion greens, finely chopped
1 bunch of Chili leaves


In a pot, allow water or broth to boil together with the bay leaves, pepper corns, onion, tomatoes, dried chili flakes, celery, potato, corn kernels and ginger. When the ingredients have all been softened, add the clams and mussels. Cook the shellfishes until their shells are popped open. For the eggs, cook them like you are making plain omelet. When finished, slice to bite size pieces and set aside. After the shells have opened, you could put it the chili leaves and flavor with salt and white pepper. Serve in a bowl and garnish with onion greens.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wolfgang Puck - Living the Life

Wolfgang Johann Topfschnig more known to the world as Wolfgang Puck is a famous Austrian celebrity chef and restaurateur based in LA. His innovations in cooking have been enjoyed and praised by world leaders, Hollywood stars and fellow chefs alike. Perhaps you will remember him more with his tag line "Live Love Eat" which also is his company’s trademarked motto.

The first cookbook he wrote was Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen based on his Ma Maison recipes on 1981. He then opened a restaurant called "Spago" located on the Sunset Strip in 1982. Wolfgang’s first signature dish, gourmet pizza topped with smoked salmon and caviar, put him and Spago on the Los Angeles foodie map. Spago Beverly Hills, Wolfgang’s flagship fine dining restaurant, opened in 1997, maintains a cutting-edge role as a creative culinary force, with a blend of updated Spago classics and Austrian-inspired recipes from Wolfgang’s childhood, using the highest-quality, all-natural and organic local ingredients, whenever possible.

The Wolfgang Puck name stands for innovative tastes, the most healthful food, the humane treatment of animals and genuine hospitality, providing guests with the very best in eating and dining well.

He became so successful that he managed to put up the Wolfgang Puck Companies comprised of three divisions - Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. and Wolfgang Puck Catering. The Wolfgang Puck Companies encompass 15 fine dining restaurants, premium catering services, more than 80 Wolfgang Puck Express operations, and kitchen and food merchandise, including cookbooks and canned foods. He is the official caterer for the Academy Awards Governors Ball.

After marking Spago’s 25th anniversary in 2007, Wolfgang evolved his personal passions and philosophies into more formal policies to maintain his demanding standards. In March 2007, Chef Puck and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that the Wolfgang Puck Companies have begun implementing an historic animal welfare program that’s the first-of-its-kind. Puck’s far-reaching, nine-point program, aimed at curbing many of the worst cruelties associated with factory farming in the United States, will meet the HSUS’ most progressive standards and will cover all Wolfgang Puck lines of business including fine dining group restaurants, express franchises, catering and events and consumer products.

He also made some appearances and cameos on numerous shows including Frasier, a recurring role as himself on Las Vegas and a cameo appearance on The Weather Man. He also appeared on iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters, as well as Cooking Class with Wolfgang Puck on The Food Network which I always watch. He was also shown on American Idol during the season finale episode.
Chef Puck has been a regularly featured guest on Good Morning America for nearly 20 years. His fine dining influence is even prominent in the fictional hotel-casino, The Montecito, on NBC’s Las Vegas. The show includes a replica of a Wolfgang Puck restaurant.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Wolfgang has been honored with many awards and accolades, including the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef of the Year, twice, plus Outstanding Restaurant of the Year for Spago Beverly Hills and Outstanding Service Award for Spago, Beverly Hills. His Food Network program, .Wolfgang Puck, won Daytime Emmy Awards for two consecutive years.

Wolfgang Puck Catering, established in May 1998, headquartered in the Hollywood & Highland. For more than a decade, Chef Puck, along with partner Carl Schuster, and his Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) company have created the cuisine for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' post-Oscar-show Governor’s Ball, the official party of the Academy Awards. In addition to the Governor’s Ball, WPC caters numerous movie premieres, galas, fashion shows, charity functions and corporate and entertainment events, as well as in-home catering.

With new venues opening every few months, Wolfgang Puck Catering has become one of the fastest growing catering companies in the country. Chef Puck and WPC are committed the Seafood Watch Program, which allows WPC to offer sustainable seafood options on their catering menus.

Chef Puck also oversees Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. which was established to manage global brand strategy across his business activities in his fast-casual Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express restaurants, as well as consumer packaged goods, kitchen appliances and utensils, book publishing, media content and licensing.
The Express restaurants emphasize quality and freshness and offer Wolfgang’s authentic recipes and menu innovation at affordable prices. Launched in 1991, Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express has since expanded to more than 80 locations in major urban and suburban retail centers, airports and supermarkets throughout the United States, Canada and Japan.

Wolfgang’s empire includes branded cookware, utensils and appliances sold on Home Shopping Network, Sam's Club and the Frontgate catalogue. Other packaged goods include Wolfgang Puck All-Natural pizza, All-Natural and Organic Wolfgang Puck Soups, Stocks and Broths and Wolfgang Puck’s Coffee.

Wolfgang has published six popular cookbooks; including his most recent Wolfgang Puck makes it Easy. His weekly syndicated newspaper column, Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen debuted in Tribune newspapers in 2003 and now appears in more than 30 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada with a combined circulation of more than 5.3 million.

Puck is active in philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations. He is the co-founder of Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation in 1982. The foundation supports the annual American Wine & Food Festival which benefits Meals on Wheels and has raised more than $15 million since it started.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crunchy Squid Rings

Here is a simple appetizer or snack recipe. I altered it quite a bit so I could say it is my recipe. Hehe. The cornstarch will make it crunchy though there might be a tendency that the rings will lose their crunchiness they have been left uncovered or exposed. A quick re-heat or "re-fry" will do the fix.

This recipe reminds me of Conk Fritters. I would love to try one of those. One time I ran out of squid and I was really craving for seafood, I settled on having oysters instead. I have them shelled already. They were kept refiregerated ready to eat with just vinegar, garlic, onions and chili peppers. But no one ever touched them even my Dad. So, what I did that snack time is used the Crunchy Squid Rings recipe and used oysters in replace of the squid. I washed and drained them well because I don't want the slimy substance on the oysters. I deep fried them to achieve my prefered result. They were a big hit together with the Pepper-Garlic Mayo.

Crunchy Squid Rings

¼ kg Squid, sliced into thin rings
2 pcs Egg yolks
1 C Cornstarch, sifted
2 t freshly ground Black Pepper
1 ½ t Fine salt
Cooking oil

In a bowl or any shallow dish, combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper together. Mix well. Dip each squid rings in the beaten egg yolk then dredge with the seasoned cornstarch. Coat well. Shake off the excess cornstarch and set aside. Heat cooking oil in a fryer or cooking pan. Drop the squid rings in the boiling oil. Squid, when cooked could have a tendency to be tough. So, choose squid that are not too big or too small. And do not over cook them to retain their juiciness. A few seconds will do. When the rings turn to light gold or when they are afloat, that means they’re good to drain. Drain the rings on paper towels. Serve with Garlic-Pepper Mayo Dip.

Garlic-Pepper Mayo Dip

½ C Plain mayonnaise
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
¼ t freshly ground black or white pepper
¼ t Fine salt
½ T Chopped parsley or onion greens

Combine altogether. Mix well. Chill if desired. Serve with any finger food.

Tip: You could also try to dredge the rings on a plate. To have well-coated squid rings, you could try to put a few tablespoons of the seasoned cornstarch in a plastic bag or container. Shake the container until the rings are well-coated with the mixture. For storage, you could refrigerate or freeze the rings prior to frying. Alternative coating is crushed crackers or Japanese bread crumbs.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grilled Peppered Pork Belly

Grilled Peppered Pork Belly

1 kg (2.2 lbs) Pork ribs or pork belly, sliced
¼ C Vegetable oil or olive oil
12 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ½ t and 2 T Freshly ground black pepper and crushed black pepper
½ T Rock salt
4 T-1 11/4 C Soy sauce
¼ C Calamansi juice (lemon or lime juice)
3 T Brown sugar
2 pcs Thai chili peppers, minced
2 T Banana ketchup (optional)


In a bowl, put in the meat together with the oil, half of the minced garlic, rock salt and crushed black pepper. Rub and massage the meat with the mixture using clean hands. When the meat is all covered with the rub, pour the soy sauce, calamansi juice, chili peppers and brown sugar. Continue massaging the meat. Tenderize it using a fork by poking through the meat. Soak each piece in the marinade. When all is done, add the ketchup and mix altogether. Refrigerate the meat either inside a plastic bag or a covered container. Do not freeze the meat. You could cook the meat with a pan griller, or with an old fashioned char-griller. When you are ready to grill the meat, use the marinade to marinate the meat while it is being grilled. Traditionally, in the Philippines, we use a banana leaf brush to marinate the meat to keep it tender, moist and juicy. Do not burn the meat. Burnt meat is carcinogenic. The meat is cooked once it is all brown not burnt on each side. Serve with the Green Mango Salad.

Side dish:
Green Mango Salad

2 C Green mango, diced
1 ½ C Tomatoes, seeded and diced
¾ C Red onion, chopped
1 T Fish sauce (preferably, in Filipino cooking, it is Bagoong or Shrimp paste)

Combine altogether. Serve chilled or as it is. Works best with any grilled meat, fish, pork cracklings or eat as salad.