Tuesday, January 26, 2010
One of the food blogs I follow regularly is Serious Eats. One of their weekly columns is Weekend Cook and Tell, which challenges readers to take on a cooking project over the weekend. This weekend's challenge was to cook using superfoods. When I think of superfoods, the ones that pop in my mind immediately are matcha powder, blueberries, pomegranates, raspberries, blackberries, goji berries. I've baked quite a bit with some of these ingredients, especially matcha. But most of my recipes aren't very "healthy" since there is so much sugar and butter.
Looking through my recipes, there's only a handful that I would feel comfortable to categorize as a healthy superfood recipe: matcha green tea latte and mini green tea yogurt cakes.
Reading the Weekend Challenge made me want to create a healthy recipe that incorporates some superfoods. I decided to try making green tea muffins with blueberries and pomegranates. Three doses of superfoods! Also, I wanted to make the muffins as healthy as possible. Muffins are supposed to be healthier than other baked goods and are often eaten for breakfast. While I love muffins, I feel that most muffins offered these days are basically the same as cakes, since the sugar content is so high. A lot of recipes even interchange the words "muffins" and "cupcakes."
Getting back to basics, I chose to find a muffin base that didn't have much sugar or butter. I probably could have made it even healthier by using wheat flour instead of regular flour, but it's something I haven't baked with before, so I didn't want to experiment with now. I found this green tea muffin batter that has almost no sugar and very little butter from Fresh from the Oven. I used this as my base, with some modifications. For instance, I upped the amount of green tea. And I added blueberries and pomegranate seeds.
I loved how my muffins came out. They were soft and moist. And while the batter wasn't sweet, I still liked it. It reminded me of biscuits, bread or corn muffins. And because the batter isn't sweet, the fruit came out really sweet. Usually when I bake with blueberries and pomegranates, they taste sour because of all the sugar in the dough.
I loved the colors too. The dark blue blueberries looked so pretty next to the pale green matcha batter. These muffins were so easy to whip up. And I felt like I was eating something fairly healthy. However, if you feel that you some sweetness in your muffins, feel free to up the sugar portion.
I fed these to Boyfriend with the warning that these were supposed to be healthy muffins and wouldn't be very sweet. He did not like them at all. So, it's not for everyone. He does however, love my green tea yogurt cakes, which I think are fairly healthy with the use of yogurt and green tea.
Green Tea Muffins with Blueberries and Pomegranates (Muffin based adapted from Fresh from the Oven)
Yield: Approx 12 muffins
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (If you want sweeter muffins, you can increase the sugar amount)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup fat free milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons matcha powder
2/3 cup blueberries
2/3 cup pomegranate seeds
the oven to 375°F. Line muffin pans. Mix the flour, matcha powder,
baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Add the egg, milk, and
butter, stirring only enough to dampen the flour; the batter should not
be smooth. Fold in the blueberries and pomegranates.
3. Spoon into the muffin pans, filling each cup about two-thirds full.
4. Bake for about 20
to 25 minutes each. Or until the cake tester inserted comes out clean.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Hello Everybody! It's Kirbie's Boyfriend again.
Its that time again. Time to go visit the Philippines once more! You're getting such a fast forward and brief highlights of these various locations. I wish I could do the place justice in making sure its an interesting place that would make you want to visit the place. If the prices don't make you want to experience it, these fun observations should pique your attention! On to the picks.
This first location is in Marikina, it was hit by the flooding pretty hard as its located about 50 to 100 meters away from the waterfront. My relatives don't have a pool, but this little present by nature made this little enclosure into a great place to find water bugs, mosquitos nest, floating rats and all sorts of creatures that love hanging out in stagnant murky water.
During the flood and the time until the water receded, the community had to use some sort of transportation to go about their days. These boats helped make sure the neighborhood could get out of their homes and off to work or anything they needed to do without getting wet.
Luckily I can read and understand the langauge to capture these funny moments. I was wondering what a cash machine was doing in such an area that didn't need you to pull out so much cash. It turns out this machine is appropriately named for its function. ATM : Automatic Tubig Machine, this is where some tagalog is required. Tubig is water translated from tagalog,
Here's another machine that you might not be familiar with on first glance, it's the recycling "truck."
I didn't know that Mercedes makes a Jeepney vehicle, but as you can see from this Jeepney's grill Mercedes "obviously" makes them.
On this particular trip we decided for an indoor establishment that had air conditioning as most locales were outdoors or did not include a "cool" place to eat. Before you pass judgment, Chowking in the Philippines felt a lot different than the normal US versions. As per all establishments the service is excellent, even for a fast food place. From the greeter to the person taking the orders and the person bringing your food to your table, yes even the fast food establishments they bring your food to you rather than just calling your number.
Beef Noodle Soup – lots of garlic, smells really good, but tastes like garlic soup rather than beef noodle that I'm used to. Even with this first taste, I did try it again at a later time and it was delicious and less garlic-y.
Fried Tofu – This isn't for vegetarians as it has bits of fish mixed with soy sauce and lemon, garlic and onions.
Vegetables – a simple platter of Cancon similar to spinach with a side of bagaong sauce to add your some flavor and sodium.
Lariat – rice with fried chicken, chicharon chips and a purple shoupao with chocolate filling for dessert
Fish – Fried Bangos with rice
Dessert – Boku Pandan – ube ice cream topping this halo-halo with pandan jelly, ice and sugar with not so sweet condensed milk. Coconut bits in the eyes and sprinkled with oats topped this tasty dessert.
It was sometime in the afternoon and we had a fun drive back to the hotel. To cut some time out of our travel time we jumped into the bus lane… only for buses unless you're in a hurry or are in the Philippines where rules are just suggestions. Here we are in the bus lane, honking at the bus to hurry up in our "express" lane.
On a separate day we decided to do some actual touring and we ended up visiting Corregidor, the last bastion of US and Filipino defense during WWII and where General Douglas McArthur states his famous words " I shall return." Here are some quick highlights from the visit.
What you'll find in most historical sites that pertain to World War II are guns and things that were destroyed. Here are a guns and broken things.
This is the old light house that is pretty much just a tourist spot, there is a newer tower that is surrounded by an electric fence that acts as the new light house. I climbed to the top of this old tower and its as sturdy as when the Spanish colonials built, except for the reinforced iron rods added to the building later. Also the electrical system probably wasn't installed until much later either.
Here we have the Malinta Tunnel, bomb shelter, hospital and storage space. It was where the first president of the Philippines Common Wealth Manuel Quezon took his oath during WWII. Today, it is a light show with historical vocal re-enactments and accompanied with old black and white footage. Taking pictures in the tunnels is pretty useless as its pretty much just dark. Can you believe a tunnel into a mountain is dark inside? Here are some images of the darkness.
In the middle of the tour, you get a chance to take a lunch on the best restaurant on the island as this is the only restaurant on the island. Its got a nice outdoor patio area that overlooks the "South Pier" on the "South Beach" where tourists arrive.
As we entered we were given this no alcoholic drink, a Pandan drink. It has a sugar water flavor with a chocolate after taste and jelly on the bottom.
The setup was all you can eat buffet, but it was advisable to not get too stuffed as the tour would continue after the meal. I for one wanted to see how much better I would be treated if I just vomited during the tour so I ate my fill, especially a lot of the desserts.
The buffet consisted of many of the Favorite Filipino foods:
Chopsuey Vegetable – basically a mixture of stir fried vegetables
Pancit – I was surprised this version tasted less than satisfactory. It was a little overcooked in the microwave or something because the noodles were hard, I can't blame them too much the whole facility was pretty old.
Pork Menudo – I can't get enough of this. It was delicious, not that the other food wasn't, but this was exceptional.
Maha Blanka – Corn starch and actual corn inside this dessert that had the texture of a cheese cake. It was sweet with some cheese to make a complimentary flavor of salty and sweet.
Boku Pandan – I was told this was the traditional way to make Boku Pandan. Coconut and grass jelly mixed with condensed milke and pandan jello.
To wrap up the tour we visited the statue of General McArthur saying "I shall return," along side the North pier he stated this. As you can see the pier has seen better days and this garbage you see lapping up the shore is the same exact rubbish floating in the water since the days of WWII. Yes, the garbage is older than me, why else would I document this?
I hope you enjoyed this installment of images and my observations. Thanks and let us know what you think about the food or if this makes you want to visit the country!
- Kirbie's BF
Monday, January 25, 2010
Two weeks ago I tried out a sour cream chocolate cake recipe, in my hunt to find the perfect chocolate cake. The recipe was easy to put together and it was fluffy and moist, but was missing a deep chocolate taste. I got a comment from a reader, Meryl, who recommended the sour cream chocolate cake recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Meryl was also kind enough to email me helpful tips on making the cake, and suggesting that I serve it with whipped cream.
The recipe had a few extra steps compared to the other chocolate cake recipes I've tried, as well as a few extra ingredients. But if it was really that good, then I guess it would be worth the extra effort.
It wasn't hard to put together, but there were a lot of steps. And for some reason, I was making quite a mess and managed to feed my clothes a bit of chocolate batter. Meryl had commented that the cake tastes even richer the next day, after letting it sit, but I couldn't wait that long. I could barely wait for the cake to finish cooling!
I served the cake with whipped cream, which I thought was the perfect complement to the cake. The cake is moist and had a very rich, decadent, chocolate taste. I think any icing would be too much for the cake. The whipped cream is light and not too sweet, and helps the cake from being too overwhelmingly rich. I enjoyed the cake, and think it's my favorite chocolate cake recipe so far. My siblings, who have tasted the various chocolate cake recipes, liked the cake a lot too. Little Sis, who loves chocolate flavored desserts, was especially excited to try this cake, and enjoyed it.
I followed the recipe as written, except that I didn't do the cake release. Instead, I just used some baking spay.
Cook's Illustrated Chocolate Cake (recipe found at OddMuse)
Printer friendly recipe here
Cake Release (I used a baking pan spray and didn't do this part)
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon cocoa
- 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (2 1/4 ounces)
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
- 3/4 cup water (boiling)
- 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
- 2 cups light brown sugar (14 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- confectioners' sugar for dusting
FOR THE PAN: Stir together butter and cocoa in small bowl until paste
forms; using a pastry brush, coat all interior surfaces of standard
12-cup Bundt pan. Adjust oven rack
to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. FOR THE
CAKE: Combine cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder (if using) in
medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth.
Cool to room temperature; then whisk in sour cream. Whisk flour, salt,
and baking soda in second bowl to combine.
3. In standing mixer
fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high
speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium
and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition
and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions.
Reduce to medium-low speed; add about one
third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix
until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using
half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture;
add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10
seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly
combined, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being
careful not to pour batter on sides of pan. Bake until wooden skewer
inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 45 to 50
minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto parchment-lined
wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 3 hours. Dust with
confectioners' sugar, transfer to serving platter, and cut into wedges.