Saturday, July 26, 2014

Garlic-Worcestershire Butter Prawns

This is one of our archived dishes that is just now coming out!

This is an attempt to recreate a childhood favorite.

When we were growing up, our family would get invited by this other family who held quite the gatherings. From what I remember, they had an expansive buffet with various stations set up on their lawn. One of the stations was the griddled prawn station.

This being the Philippines, when we say prawns, we mean actual prawns as large as one's hands, maybe larger. A lot of "prawns" we see in North America are merely shrimp.

At this magical griddled prawn station, each prawn would be butterflied at the back, then put on the griddle, basted with the heavenliest of concoctions.

When we saw these Thai blue prawns, we thought it was time we attempted a re-creation.

Of course, JS and I don't actually know what went into making that dish. Thinking back, our best guess is this.

A whack-load of butter, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.

We were aiming to capture that elusive flavor from the past, and did not bother so much with sticking to the griddle method. Perhaps it's because we didn't have a griddle large enough to hold all the prawns, and that would have resulted in dreaded batch-cookery.

For simplicity's sake, we threw in the butter, garlic and Worcestershire sauce into a wok and added the prawns. They needed to be tossed around quite a bit for each one to have a turn cooking in the butter/sauce. Maybe we needed to batch-cook them after all.

Along the way, we seemed to have determined that the dish needed even more butter.

After making sure the final guy had a dip in the garlicky, Worcestershire-y butter, the dish was done.

Of course, being drenched in butter, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce, this could only be fantastic!

But, is this the same dish as the one at that griddle station?

I don't know. I think we probably did not re-create that same dish. I have a nagging feeling that our attempt falls a little bit short. Or, maybe this dish is actually better than the griddled prawns of our childhood. I truly can't say.

Such is nostalgia.

Garlic-Worcestershire Butter Prawns

This dish can be done to taste. Use as much or as little of each ingredient as you wish.

prawns or shrimp (or even mussels or clams)
garlic, minced
Worcestershire sauce (be aware of the salt content in this ingredient)

Heat your pan or wok. Add the butter, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. When the butter has melted, add the prawns.

Toss until the prawns have turned color.


Melt the butter and mix together with the garlic and Worcestershire sauce.

When the griddle is hot, put your prawns on it and pour the flavored butter over them. One can also baste the prawns with the flavored butter.

Turn the prawns over to cook both sides.

When both sides of each prawn have turned color, take them off the griddle. Serve.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Porchetta... and etcetera (2011 Canada Day Event at The Boulevard)

Pork! Pork! Pork!

Having recently tried porchetta at a local sandwich shop, JS and I left reminiscing about our own porchettas from the past.

Surprisingly, it seemed that we had quite a porchetta spree in 2011. And perhaps 2012 as well!


One such occasion -- it may actually have been the first time -- was during the 2011 iteration of our Annual Summer BBQ Event. (See the event from 2010.)

We are usually leery calling this summer party a "BBQ", as guests would undoubtably expect our oh-my-god-it's-so-good Philippine Pork BBQ Skewers. JS and I have not had the time nor energy for such a feat in years. This is, of course, because we would have had to make an obscene number of skewers to satisfy the crowd!

So, in 2011, JS came up with a new concept: a do-it-yourself sandwich bar! We can cook off huge hunks of meat and that would be that! (Well, and make all the sides and condiments, too, of course. I mean, we're not slackers or somethin'.)

DIY Sandwich Bar, aka "TJ's Sammie Shop"
a 2011 Canada Day Event at The Boulevard

We've used the foccacia from Calabria Bakery many times before
(here, here and here).


Pork loin wrapped with pork belly, roasted with garlic and herbs.

There are more gratuitous shots of the porchetta below. Don't you worry.

Our signature roast chicken, shredded and ready for your sandwiches!

Roast sirloin tip with Montreal steak spice, served with its own jus.
(Pictured in photo of entire buffet, after a few scrolls down.)

Tuna, apple, celery, red onions, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt & black pepper.

I have been accused on more than one occasion of withholding some secret ingredient(s) and/or method. But, once again, I say,



TS’ own mix of good stuff – romaine, hardboiled eggs, ham, cheddar, tomatoes
– tossed in a spectacular tangy creamy dill dressing.

Curly-leaf kale with scratch-cooked cannellini beans in a simple lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette.

TJ Tip:
Add a little dressed Kale Salad to your sandwich for tang & texture!

Not just Roast Potatoes,
What makes roast potatoes better?
Roasting them in roast chicken juices! A little pork fat also joined the party. Woohoo.


Pickled cauliflowers, carrots, zucchinis and celery. Its tang is a great addition to your sandwich! We made hot and mild versions.

Garlic, bird’s eye chilis, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. More than the sum of its parts.

See it in action here with flank steak and here on a burger.

Think you don’t like olives? Just add this to your sandwich and it will change your mind. Used in our muffuletta and "muffuletta-inspired" stuffed flank.

TJ Tip:
Mix the Giardiniera and Olive Salad together to make a SUPER CONDIMENT for your sandwich. Hell, throw in the Chiimichurri as well!

Holy, I just drooled a little. Those 3 condiments!!

(Not pictured.)


(Pictured in photo of entire buffet, after a few scrolls down.)

Of course, also available were
Mayo, Mustard, Pepperoncini, Hot Sauce…


Pears, apples, mangos, peaches, blueberries and strawberries baked with a sweet crumbly topping. Great with gelato! (Pictured above before they donned their topping and got baked.)

The entire "sandwich bar" in all its glory.

Of course, it was a bit of a struggle getting everyone to actually build sandwiches. Everybody just went straight for the meat (and the salads, too, actually). I guess that's just how we roll.

And now, more about the PORCHETTA!


TS is pressuring me to write my bit for the porchetta.

You have to remember that this party was almost three years ago! How can I remember what I did to a piece of pork three years ago?!?

Deliciousness of the porchetta not withstanding, everything seems like a dream now, and in two more years, it would not be far-fetched to imagine this porchetta dropping from the sky, like manna.

Maybe we'll just have to wait a couple of years. . .then this post would be FIVE years old.


With a hunk of meat like this, I had to get it special from a butcher. An expensive butcher. I believe the whole thing cost about $300. . . three years ago.

I had asked for a loin and I had asked for belly.

I was concerned that it would take too much muscle (although these butchers were big guys) to try to wrap the belly around the loin, so I suggested to them that draping the belly over the loin would be good enough. They were going to tie the whole thing up with string anyways.

I had the butcher score the skin, as we only had dull knives at home. We still do.

Getting the pork was probably the hardest thing here.

The skin!

From there, it was a matter of seasoning the outside of the log.

Salt and pepper it was! And, I believe, some garlic powder and dried herbs as well (oregano, thyme).

Turned out that was all was needed because the pork was delicious as it was.

Perhaps, technically, this wasn't a "porchetta" because we didn't get to stuff the rolled up piece of meat. But no matter, we're still calling it porchetta.

The loin.

Look at it, so white and so tender and so juicy.


Since we were making this for sandwich filling, we decided to disassemble the porchetta after roasting. We sliced the loin and chopped the belly. We also separated the skin from the meat and chopped that up.

I believe for our subsequent porchettas, we mostly went with just pork belly. Who needs all that lean loin meat anyway?


If I may, I just want to say that the gardiniera was my favourite! Piled on top of the porchetta, it was simply fabulous. I loved the tang, the crunch, and the heat.

Want to try your hand at porchetta? Why not look to The Food Lab at Serious Eats?
The Food Lab: How to Make All-Belly Porchetta, the Ultimate Holiday Roast

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pastillas de Leche (Philippine Milk Candy), No-Cook Version and Variations

Strangely flat pastillas de leche.

Traditionally, pastillas de leche are made with carabao (water buffalo) milk.

I can't even recall if I've ever had carabao milk pastillas de leche, but given that I do like me a good mozzarella di bufala, I can well imagine the joy in eating carabao milk pastillas de leche.

But, we all live in an imperfect world.

Pastillas de leche are simply cooked down milk and sugar, formed into logs (pastilles, if you will).

Milk candy, in other words.

I tried my hand making them a while back, but it was laborious, all that stirring and watching over the milk, the worrying about scorching and burning the milk, the constant scraping of the bottom of the pot... I believe it was not long after that experience that I discovered (or searched for, perhaps) the existence of a shortcut way of making pastillas de leche.

For this version, all one needs is condensed milk and powdered milk. Of course, this makes sense, for what is condensed milk if not cooked down milk with sugar?

If I can't have carabao milk, then I'll definitely take condensed milk. Besides, it's a badly-kept secret how much I love condensed milk. (You cannot even imagine.)

The condensed milk and powdered milk are combined, then formed into little logs.

There are two ways this log shape can be achieved. One can pinch off a piece from the mixture and form those into logs individually. Or, one can form a long strip with the milk mixture and cut off segments, much like how one would make gnocchi.

Dulce de Leche variation
If you were feeling a wee bit industrious, you can heat up the mixture until it becomes a tad caramelized and becomes a faux dulce de leche.

Or, even easier, simply buy dulce de leche.

What a fantastic idea: dulce de leche pastillas!

The shaped logs are then coated in granulated sugar.

I don't know what I was thinking or doing, but somehow I don't think I added enough powdered milk to the condensed milk. See how loose my mixture is? Each "log" is blob-by and spreading out!

The mixture needs to be more dough-like in consistency.

My pastillas are so weird and flat!

Earl Grey Tea variation

I thought I'd be hoity-toity and have some Earl Grey tea-scented pastillas.

One could go about this in a number of ways. But, the simplest I found was simply dumping a bit of the tea into my granulated sugar. If your leaves are large, or if you have whole-leaf tea, then give them a buzz in a spice grinder first. I could've added the tea to the condensed milk-powdered milk mixture directly, but I wanted to keep that pure.

See the bowl of sugar on the bottom right? It has some tea dumped in it.

After the roll in sugar, each log is wrapped in paper. Actually, each piece is wrapped in regular paper, then the paper-wrapped log is wrapped in tissue paper.

I must confess, though, I gave up wrapping mine. What's the point of wrapping them up when they were to be devoured a few minutes afterwards anyway? We don't know what self-control is.

(There is a demo of the wrapping of which I speak in the embedded video at the end of the post.)

I don't know if I had eaten all the Earl Grey ones, but somehow these guys were the only ones left for the photo shoot. But, look up there, there's a piece there with Earl Grey tea specks.

Other variations
As you may have gathered, pastillas de leche lend themselves to countless variations.

While there are traditional variations (like citrus zest, purple yam, jackfruit, coconut, squash), why not try matcha, coffee, or any of the myriad types of teas?

Or try adding avocado, because you know avocado and condensed milk go so well together.

GENIUS IDEA -- why not try a play on Cuban Guava and Cheese Pastries and add guava paste and cream cheese to the mixture? WOWZA!

Yes, why not add some sort of cheese?

Or, instead of tropical fruits, one can add berry purée to the mixture, either solo or mixed. Or a purée of any stone fruit (your peaches, your nectarines, your apricots).

Or an apple butter.

Or a nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter).

Or speculoos cookie butter. SPECULOOS COOKIE BUTTER!

Or nutella.

Or, leaning towards more adventurous flavorings, how about saffron pastillas de leche?

Or lavender pastillas?

Of course, there are all those spices!

Or add a textural component to the lot -- crushed nuts, pinipig, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, sesame seeds, chia seeds -- either into the mixture or as part of the coating.

Endless possibilities.

It doesn't really matter how my pastillas de leche turned out this time, because for me, it's just an excuse to eat condensed milk.

Eating it straight out of the can seems a little gauche, but how the addition of a little powdered milk changes everything!

Perhaps, though, you will make yours nice and pretty. =)

For more pastillas de leche reading, check out the post on Tangled Noodle
Sugar Pills: Pastillas de Leche
It's good stuff.


Pastillas de Leche, No-Cook Version

2 to 3 cups powdered milk
1 can (300 mL) condensed milk
granulated sugar, for rolling 

paper or cellophane, cut to size

Use dulce de leche instead of condensed milk.
Add any sort of texture component (pinipig, shredded coconut, crushed nuts, etc.) either in the milk mixture, or as coating.
Add fruit purée to the mixture for fruit-flavored pastillas de leche.
Add an appropriate cooked vegetable purée to the mixture (eg, squash/pumpkin, taro, purple yam, etc.).
Add any nut butter.

Mix together condensed milk and powdered milk until the consistency of dough. 

Scoop out about a tablespoon's worth of "dough" and roll into a log. Roll log in granulated sugar until coated. Repeat until all the milk mixture is done.

Wrap each log in paper or cellophane. 

A video by Pinay Cooking Lessons for your reference:

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