Originally meant as a repository of sort for published manuscripts and articles, but reading amazing food blogs lately, I was encouraged to include topics on food and gardening and share other topics of interests to other women like me, who love to garden, fine foods and good cooking.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Prawns and Celery Salad

Is your tummy tired of take-aways and greasy foods? Give it a break! Here's one interesting dish without the grease. Served with steaming white rice, it is nice and light on the belly. Enjoy!

Prawns and Celery Salad with Ginger Dressing

500 grms prawns, raw
2 large celery stalks and leaves
15 ml (tbsp) rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1 tsp finely grated ginger

Steam the prawns until they turn pink. Drain and remove shell.

Cut celery stalks into 2 inches long, then cut each length into very thin length-wise strips.

Fill a small bowl with iced water. Add celery strips to water and sit for 5-10 minutes or till they are crisp.

Drain celery and discard water. Dry with paper towels to remove as much water as possible.

In a large enough bowl, combine prawns, celery leaves, vinegar, sugar, salt, and ginger. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Transfer to a medium plater and serve with steaming white rice.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tamarillo (The fruit that tastes like tomato)

The sun struggled to come out this morning after what seemed to be endless wintry blasts that brought about heavy snow in the South Island and in some parts of the North Island as well. Green pasture farms turned to vast snow fields. Farmers in the highlands had to use helicopters to gather and feed their stock. Over here at the Wairarapa area, incessant rains caused heavy flooding, damaging roads and cutting bridges, isolating some communities. There was loss of fragile lambs too, for some farmers.

It was a welcome relief to finally see the sun after days and days of dark clouds and pouring rain. I had the chance to go out to see how the garden was doing. The hothouse was under water--the ampalaya vine which I had been keeping inside with the hope of it surviving the winter was showing signs of surrender, the pepino plant's leaves were eaten by frost, exposing its fruits, most of which were yet to get ripe. On the positive side, the garlic bulbs and the shallots we planted on the first week of June have started to spring up. They seemed to love the cold and the wet weather. Even the broad beans looked happy despite wet feet.

Under the tamarillo trees were several of their fruits that fell onto the ground. They were either forced by the wind, or maybe, they were about ready. Like the feijoa, the tamarillos are not picked off the tree, they do a natural fruit drop when they are about ripe.

With its oval shape and an outer skin that is either red or purple toned, the ripe tamarillo really looks nice and appealing. Cut cross-wise, the fruit reveals an orange-y flesh and an interesting dark pattern formed by its edible seeds. But the thought of a fruit tasting like a tomato and using it as a dessert, did not really appeal to me. Well, at least, the first time I tried it. But David really, really loves it as a topping for his hokey-pokey or vanilla ice cream!

Like the feijoa that I also did not like initially, I tried the tamarillo as a fruit shake. Cutting the fruit into half, I scooped the flesh out and prepared the rest of the ingredients. I was surprised to find a very appealing purplish colored smoothie that was a hit for both David and me.

Tamarillo Shake

2 pcs ripe tamarillo
1 cup soy milk
2 cups cubed ice
1 tbs honey or brown sugar
( Variation: You can use a ripe banana if you do not want to use honey or sugar)

Put together all ingredients in a blender and process to a smoothie.

Tamarillo Tidbits

The tamarillo (Cyphomandra) is a member of the Solanaceae family, with the potato, tomato, eggplant and capsicum peppers as relatives.

These egg-shaped fruits were formerly called tree tomato, and were originally from South America, until New Zealand's Mr W Thompson of the New Zealand Tree Tomato Promotion Council coined the term "tamarillo", from a combination of the Maori word "tama" and the Spanish word "amarillo" for the color yellow. The term stuck and has been in use since then.

There are two varieties: one is the yellow/orange toned and the red/purple toned. Red tamarillos are more acidic (tart and tangy ) than yellow or gold tamarillos. The difference can be likened to non acidic tomatoes and normal tomatoes. And speaking of likeness with tomatoes, tamarillos can also be skinned easily like the tomatoes by blanching the fruits in hot water for a couple minutes or so, then rinsing them with cold water. The skin should come off easily after this.

Both types contain edible seeds, and the flavor of the flesh within the two types vary considerably. Because the red or purple toned tamarillos have a more tart taste than their yellow or orange toned counterparts, they are more frequently used as a vegetable than as a fruit.

I have yet to discover the other uses of this fruit/vegetable, although one book I have read said that the red or purple toned tamarillo can be used as you would a tomato--peeled and sliced and served as a cold side dish, added to sandwiches and salads, baked, frozen or eaten raw. The yelllow or orange one can be sliced and added to fruit salads and other deserts.

For the meantime, we would have to enjoy the tamarillo as a fruit shake. And yes, as fruit topping for David's vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lemon grass soup

"Guisang Sale Manok", is one of the family's favorite soups. It is chicken sauteed in lemon grass (Related to citronella, lemon grass is a bulbous, greyish green tropical grass with a delicate, lemony essence. Its taste is refreshing and light, with a hint of ginger), and pieces of freshly picked corn on the cob added to it. The corn adds a hint of sweetness to the lemony flavored soup. When the corn was ready in summer and the family was gathered for the Sunday lunch, this soup-dish would almost always be present on our dining table. However, it is important that the chicken used for this soup is a free-range (we call them native chicken) one as the poultry-raised chicken is too watery and not as tasty.

But a native chicken would sound a tall order for me. I was lucky enough to have bought the lemon grass last week, and I have to make do with what is available--like the frozen sweet corn on the cob, instead of the freshly-picked white corn.

So with my ready chicken soup stock and slivered chicken meat, the lemon grass was sauteed in a little oil, then soup stock was added. I allowed it to boil for a couple minutes before adding the sweet corn and the sliced carrot. And just before serving, sliced pechay baguio leaves were added to the soup.

It has been raining for two days now and the temperature has dropped to zero, so what could be more comforting than this hot chicken soup and steaming white rice for lunch. It was the first time David had a taste of the lemon grass soup, and am glad he too, enjoyed it. Too bad, I could not "jack up" my legs and hug my knees while eating. That would have completed the feel of dining ala probinsiyano.