RECIPE: Tuna Pate and Cream Cheese

Here’s the thing with travelling intercontinental constantly:  money runs out.  Hahaha.  You can only imagine the gap I have to augment after all the traveling.  Don’t get me wrong; I love seeing my Le Beau!  He’s my perfect compliment and each destination is more romantic than the next.  But let’s admit it — it can get expensive.  Until we solve the distance problem, I have to be more frugal and more conscientious about my spending.  And that means limiting the out of home food purchase.  I am now looking into packing lunch and snacks for work.

Which brings me to my next recipe.  I first made Jenni Epperson’s Century Tuna Caviar Pie a couple of years back and I remember it being so divine.  Recreating it is something else, since I have to make do with whatever is on the fridge.  But I think I got the the bare necessities in stock:

Spring onions, lemon, 1 8oz. cream cheese block, black pitted olives

Spring onions, lemon, 1 8oz. cream cheese block, black pitted olives

2 cans of tuna

2 cans of tuna

Let’s get started shall we?  Grab a bowl and toss in the cream cheese and chopped spring onions.

Cream cheese in a bowl

Here’s the thing:  you might need a hand mixer.  For me, I just folded and whipped the contents until well blended.  Set aside.

Grab your trusty food processor and toss in the drained tuna and about 2 tbsp of olives.  Then squeeze half a lemon in it.  Start pulsing.

Tuna olives in processor

You want to get a paste-like consistency.  You may have to pulse longer than usual.  Jenni tossed in a pinch of pink salt, but for me this mixture is just fine.

Tuna processed

With this, you will need a small round container.  Layer the cream cheese and the tuna mixture evenly.

Tuna cheese layered

Layered tuna

(That photo is grayer than usual lol, excuse me)

Store it in the fridge and it’s ready to go when you are.  This is a perfect match for crostinis, toasted garlic bread, bread sticks and maybe some fiber crackers.  If I know my mom, she’ll spread this over warm toast.  If you want to serve this right away, you can also use a springform pan.  Just freeze it for a couple of hours so it takes form and you can serve it right away.

Tuna caviar pie

I stored them on two separate containers, because knowing my mom she might want to bring one to the office and that would leave nothing for me.  Haha.

This should take about 15 minutes to make.  It’s quite simple too.  Jenni’s recipe also involved capers, so if you have those, just add a tablespoon in the processor too.

Here’s to hoping this lasts me a good three days of snacks.  Let me know if you try this out!  I would love to see your outcome. <3

Happy eating!

RECIPE: “Roast” Beef

One of my missions when I went to New Jersey for a visit was to be able to recreate the dishes my parents were famous in my family for. It may seem so simple, but really it’s not. Our NJ family has had this recipe for years! They were just too um, busy to execute them. So naturally, with my visit, they requested that I teach them how to make those dishes. One of those was “roast” beef.

This recipe was originally from Tita Pinky, whose love for cuisine only grows through the years.  With ovens that are stuffed with Tupperware and microwaveable containers and a deep-seated desire for boldly flavored meat, you can easily spot where the need for this recipe came about.

There are air quotes on “roast” because we don’t really roast it; it takes far longer to do that. It’s a stove-top dish that is sure to hit the right spot for all carnivores in the family. Oh and it comes with really good mushroom gravy too.

To be honest, I am quite hesitant to share this recipe.  A part of me remains selfish and would like to keep things that relate to my father.  But then, I don’t think he would have liked that.

I would like to apologize in advance the lack of while cooking and actual photos of ingredients for this recipe.  When I made this, everything was happening all at the same time — laundry, baby sitting, basement movie dates — that I didn’t have the time to take pictures in between.  No worries, I’ll do my best to describe each step as precisely as possible.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Around 2lb. US Beef Chuck Roast.  We got ours at A&P for $5.99/lb.

– A whole onion and a whole head of garlic

– Worcestershire sauce.  I am very partial to the Lea & Perrins brand.

– Soy sauce.  I used Less Sodium Kikkoman Soy Sauce for this recipe.

– Half a stick of butter

– 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup

– Mushrooms, sliced and washed

– About 3 tbsp of your choice of brandy (though this is always optional)

 

The first thing you need to do is prep the beef, the onion and the garlic.  Wash the beef and pat dry.  And grab a bowl to soak the beef in; you’ll have to marinate it for some time.  Half of the garlic, you pound and rub on the beef; throw it in the bowl.  The other half, you mince and set aside.  Then mince the onion too, rub it on the beef and throw it in the bowl as well.  Grab some sea salt and rub it on the beef.

Next, grab the two sauces.  Here’s the thing:  there is no exact measurement for the sauces.  It really does depend on your liking, or as long as the beef gets coated with the sauce.  What we usually do is to add equal parts of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

Get dirty; you’ll have to mix all of the contents in the bowl with your hands to make sure the beef is well coated.  Cover with cling wrap and let it marinate for about 2 hours.  (If you’re adding brandy, mix it in as well.  The brandy adds to the boldness of the flavor.  For those concerned about serving the dish to kids, no worries because the brandy usually gets cooked off in the process, but you may also choose to not add this in as well.)

Next, grab a frying pan and heat it up, as in slightly smoking hot.  Take the beef out and sear all sides, as if sealing the marinate in the middle.  Be careful to not cook it too much though, but do not ever skip this step.  Searing the beef makes your dish cut-able for presentation purposes.

After searing, grab a pot big enough to fit your beef in.  Then, toss in the pot the mixture the beef marinated in.  If the remaining amount is too small, just add equal parts of Worcestershire and soy sauces.  In my experience, an additional 2 tbsps would do.  Then add water, just enough to cover 2/3 of the beef.  Bring up the heat to medium and boil for 45-60 minutes or until tender.

In the middle of boiling, flip the beef.  I did this at the 20 minute mark.  It would also give you a chance to pinch the meat and season some more, if you wish.  You will notice that the beef is close to being cooked when you can visibly see that fat separating from the marinate mixture.  When cooked to your desired doneness, turn off the heat and take the beef out.  DO NOT THROW AWAY THE MARINATE.

Now, let’s make the mushroom gravy.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir fry the garlic until slightly brown.  Mix in the mushrooms until brown.  Then, mix in about 3/4 cup of the marinate.  Stir slowly as it simmers.  When it does, mix in the cream of mushroom soup.  Stir until well blended.  Serve over the beef or on the side.  Or both.

The thing with the mushroom gravy though is, because of the cream of mushroom, it tends to expire easily.  Sometimes, we would skip the cream of mushroom and just add 1 tbsp of cornstarch mixed in water instead to get the same consistency.  Without the cream of mushroom, it would definitely last longer.

Don’t worry about making so much of the gravy.  I swear it’s really good.  My niece used it over her rice.  Hahaha.  It also goes well with meatballs and pork chop.

You can serve the “roast” beef with garlic potatoes or steamed rice.  Because we’re severely Filipino, we went with rice.

There you have it!  The recipe of ages, at least in my opinion.  Hopefully when we make it next time, I can post and show pictures.

Let me know how this goes for you.

Recipe: Cheese Pimiento Spread

I’m not really the go-to authority when it comes to recipes.  I grew up with my parents’ cooking, which is mostly based on approximation and seasoning to taste.  So basically, this is not the hard and fast rule when it comes to making this delicious spread.

I actually created an enemy.  Given that my brother’s wedding will be by the end of the year, I only have so many months to get into the habit of eating right and becoming more religious in exercising.  But there’s an abundant amount of Edam cheese in the fridge and it’s obviously been there since Christmas.  Even though my mom promises to slice it up for us to munch on, it never really came true.

So I dropped by the grocery this weekend and picked up some red pimientos and whole wheat bread.  I figured if she’s not going to do anything about that cheese, I might as well get the hint and start working on it.

The recipe is actually my aunt’s.  I remember her teaching me how to make it way back in 2008 (I stayed with them for an entire year while I work as a creative writer for a noontime show).  I remember it quite clearly:  a little butter for some depth, mayonnaise for spreadability and red pimientos for the taste.

It turned out pretty well actually.  The only hard part was (literally) the cheese itself.  We only had a normal grater so imagine the ages that passed in processing the cheese.  Perhaps it would have been faster if I used a food processor, but you want that light stringy texture.  Nowhere near powdery or fine, but it mixes well with the butter and mayonnaise.

The ball mason jars I got from Pretty Little Cravings proved to be the perfect storage for this spread.  It keeps the spread fresh.

Cheese pimiento in Mason jar

My mom said it needed more pimiento.  I put everything in that small can I bought.  For me, it tastes just right.  You might want to be more careful with the pimiento.  Some spreads end up too red and the pimiento starts to overpower the cheese.  For those who doesn’t have leftover Edam cheese in their fridge, quickmelt cheese would do.

I’ve seen a few recipes where copious amounts of butter and mayonnaise are mixed in, AND THEN still seasoned with salt and pepper.  Mind you, cheese is already rich in sodium, so you might want to rethink the salt and pepper addition.  Moreover, like Joey said, low fat mayonnaise can easily do the job of regular mayonnaise.  Like I said, I haven’t really encountered a hard and fast rule in making this spread so feel free to play around the ingredients listed below.  The amounts indicated are the ones that worked for me.

Ingredients:
300g Edam cheese, grated
1 small can red pimiento, drained
3 tbsp salted butter
3 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise

In a deep glass bowl, grate the cheese to your desired consistency.  Throw in the butter.  (Make sure that your butter is at room temperature.  This will make the mixing  much easier.)  Throw in the mayonnaise.  Dice the drained pimientos finely or to your desired size before throwing it in the bowl.  Using a spatula, mix them all together.  You  may adjust the taste with either salt and pepper, or by adding more butter.  To make it more spreadable, add more mayonnaise.

Cheese pimiento spread

The jar used to be full.  It’s only Day Three and you can tell, I’ve had a little bit too much of it.

How do you make your cheese pimiento spread?  How did yours turn out?

Pinterest Day: Stove Top Mac and Cheese

Anyone who is on Pinterest can attest to the desire to make or create at least one of the things we pin to our board.  But then, no one ever really gets around them.  Since my glitter heel venture, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and try another Pinterest venture, this time in the kitchen.

I found this stove-top macaroni and cheese recipe from Evil Shenanigans, and well, it turned out pretty okay.

Here are your ingredients:

8oz macaroni, or any smallish tube shaped pasta
1 tablespoon butter
6 oz evaporated milk
6 oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper

I’m pretty much guilty about not measuring stuff.  I’m more like, “That looks like 8 ounces!” or “I think that’s about a tablespoon”, so I’m quite lucky that it turned out pretty well.


Cook the pasta as directed, but deduct one minute from actual cooking time.  You’re going to need that one minute to prevent it from getting soggy.  Drain the pasta and put in back in the saucepan.  On medium heat, melt the butter well.

Mix together the egg, milk, mustard and red pepper, then pour it over the pasta.  It’ll thicken in about four minutes.  Remove pasta from the heat and slowly stir in the cheese.

No, I didn’t measure the cheese.  You can never have too much cheese.  Ask my niece Chuchi.

My finished product:


I know it’s nowhere close to the one from Pinterest, and I believe it’s mainly because I used too little milk.  The mac and cheese turned out quite “webby” with the cheese absolutely visible when pulled apart. What I liked about it though is the fact that I substituted ½ teaspoon of red pepper for the hot sauce.  It was like mac and cheese with a kick.

What I was trying to recreate:

Photo from Evil Shenanigans

Next time I do this, it would be best to measure everything right?  Hahaha.  I find that funny because I know I’ll approximate yet again.  And dump more milk and cheese.  And more spicy stuff.  Oh well.

This dish goes best with meat.  It’s also a good afternoon snack.  Kids will go crazy for this.

Till the next Pinterest day!