Cooking to me is a luxury these days – which is a pity since I am more passionate about food than religion or sex.Before JR’s eyebrows rise a notch higher, let me try to explain: am no frigid babe but a chunk of steak is more accessible to me than human flesh.And while I may not be particular about the assortment of food I pile up on my buffet platter, experience has taught me to discriminate among the smorgasboard of men ripe for the picking, at the risk of suffering those terrible womanly woes.
Now, I can’t imagine myself being a vegetarian but I swear the picture above turned me into an instant salad fanatic. I first tasted this Caesar’s salad Pinoy version at Hotel Pontefino but I found out it is also in prime chef Gene Gonzalez’s ensalada book where it was called Salad ni Cesar. After tasting this salad, I did not want to have the traditional version anymore where the thousand island dressing comes straight from the bottle. Caesar’s Salad, Pinoy version, has a delightfully sweet tangy taste made more unique by the slightest hint of Balayan bagoong which is native to the province of Batangas.
How to make the dressing: Crush garlic very finely then whisk in some egg yolk. Add the mustard and slowly pour in some canola oil oil and whisk again until the mixture becomes of sticky consistency. Afterwards, add the following: 1/3 tsp. calamansi juice, Lea and Perrins worcestershire sauce, a dash of Tabasco and pepper (eight turns from your pepper mill). For the final touch, add 1/2 tsp. sauce from the Balayan bagoong (if you’re using the bottle, be sure to skim the watery portion on top).
Dish #2 was a new dish I tried when I miraculously woke up early this week. A consolation for this lazy cook was that it was duly savored by my officemates and twins. Kaldereta is a spicy Filipino stew, probably of Spanish origin, which normally uses goat’s meat (kambing), beef or chicken.
For this kaldereta, I had to use lamb chops. I love lamb but most Filipinos don’t. In fact, the cruel carnivores among us prefer dog’s meat (aargh!)Which is a pity since lamb has less fat and is healthier than those pork dishes like the lechon and binagoongan we die for.
Because I am always challenged making something from scratch, this kaldereta had to go the way of whatever was left in my ref and my kitchen: lamb chops left over from the weekend barbecue,Jean Brunet confit of chicken liver with armagnac (a.k.a. chicken pate)left over from the office Christmas basket (expiry date: February 2006) in lieu of the customary liver spread and Parmesan cheese instead of the Quickmelt, which I didn’t have.
How I cooked: Marinate the lamb chops in vinegar and pepper for at least 30 minutes, best if overnight. You may add garlic and salt. Then brown the meat in olive oil (because I want to save on the expensive olive oil, I make it half and half between the olive and Minola), then saute in garlic and onions. Afterwards, pour in tomato sauce and enough water to tenderize. Add paprika, sliced red pepper as well as a little liquid from the olives. If you want a more spicy dish, throw in some fiery siling labuyo. When meat is tender, add the liver spread (or pate, in this case) olives, cheese, salt and a little bit of sugar to taste. Stir to blend and continue simmering till sauce is of desired stewing consistency.
You may ask, measurements, where are the measurements? One of my greatest sins is that I don’t measure except when I bake but I’ll try to do so when my dream food blog comes in.