Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

When I prepare meals for my family, I usually like to mix something kid-friendly with a dish that my husband and I can enjoy. This gives my daughters an element to look forward to, as well as the chance to appreciate something out of their comfort zone. Tonight I am preparing buttermilk-fried chicken (kid-approved) and serving it with a mushroom risotto (husband-approved). The fried chicken is crispy yet light on the palate while the risotto is smooth, rich and flavorful which makes it a great combination, taste wise. The chicken is deep fried, while the risotto uses a very minimal amount of extra virgin olive oil so it is also well balanced.

Mushroom Risotto & Buttermilk Fried Chicken

This dish may seem like a fete but it is actually quite easy to put together. Because nothing needs to be pre marinated, you can make it as long as you have the ingredients at home. If not, here is a quick grocery list with items that you may not readily have in stock.

Grocery List

Chicken drumsticks

Buttermilk

Fresh mushrooms

Arborio rice

Flat leaf parsley

Begin by preparing your kitchen tools. For the chicken, you will need 1 bowl to bathe the chicken in buttermilk, 1 small strainer and one bowl for the dredging mixture, tongs, a small, deep pan for frying and 1 large strainer and bowl for cooked chicken to rest and release excess oil. For the risotto, a pot to heat your chicken stock, a measuring cup to measure your rice and your wine, a cheese grater, a shallow pan and a wooden spoon.

Recipes

FRIED CHICKEN

9 chicken legs

2 cups buttermilk (you may substitute this with 1 can evaporated milk + 2 tablespoons cane vinegar)

Dredging mix:

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

paprika

salt

pepper

oil for frying

Procedure:

  1. Clean chicken and season with salt and pepper
  2. Let the chicken bathe in buttermilk for 30 minutes to an hour
  3. While waiting, prepare your dredging mix: Sift together flour, cornstarch, paprika, salt and pepper and combine
  4. Heat oil (enough to cover majority of the chicken pieces) on low. Do not go over this because then chicken skin will burn before the inside cooks
  5. When oil is at the right temperature, dredge chicken, piece by piece, completely coating it
  6. Fry for around 6-8 minutes on each side
  7. Place cooked pieces on a strainer to get rid of oil
  8. Serve warm

MUSHROOM RISOTTO

FRESH Mushrooms (I like to mix Portobello, shitake and button)

1 medium sized white onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 cups chicken stock

1 cup white wine

1 cup Arborio rice (do not wash this rice, the starch is needed to thicken your dish)

EVOO

salt

pepper

fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

flat leaf parsley

Procedure:

  1. Bring chicken stock to a simmer and set aside
  2. Clean mushrooms and slice to desired size
  3. In a shallow pan, sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent and garlic is tender
  4. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper
  5. Add the rice and combine with the onions, garlic and mushrooms until completely coated
  6. Begin adding your chicken stock, one ladle at a time so it slow cooks
  7. Add a half-cup of wine in between the stock. Do this until your liquid is done and rice is fully cooked
  8.  Turn off the heat, add your parmesan cheese and give one last stir
  9. Serve hot and garnished with fresh flat leaf parsley

It’s a complete and hearty meal but I always like to get a few greens in so a side salad or steamed broccoli is the perfect finishing touch… Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!!!

Halloween is always special when you have children. Playing dress up with costumes and candy? What a fun combination for my little ones! This year I was asked to do a cooking demonstration for the kindergarten class of my second daughter. I took the opportunity to make some Halloween inspired treats, which (believe it or not) made use of absolutely no candy!

The challenge was finding something that was crafty, easy enough for the children to make and completely edible! Making sure the kids enjoyed the treat was a stretch but I was willing to take the chance.

We are so fortunate to live in the generation of the world wide web I tell you, where so many ideas are right at your fingertips. I found these 2 adorable snacks that met my challenge stated earlier. So it was decided, I would demonstrate how to make cream cheese and cookie owls and raisin ants on a log. I edited my ingredients a little bit based on availability, health benefits and economical value. Here are my versions of the popular snacks.

Cream Cheese Cookie Owl & Raisin Ants on a Log

OWLS

Ingredients:

Digestive Cookies

Spreadable Cream Cheese

Whole Almonds

Monde Eggnog Cookies

Raisins

Peeled Watermelon Seeds (Butong Pakwan)

Procedure:

  1. Spread cream cheese on one side of the digestive cookie and smoothen.
  2. Place an almond, rounded side up, in the middle of the cookie to represent the owl’s beak.
  3. For the eyes, place 2 eggnog cookies, flat side down. Finish the eyes with 2 raisins, using leftover cream cheese as a glue to ensure they stay on.
  4. Place 2 almonds, rounded side down, above the eyes to represent the owl’s ears.
  5. Use the back of a small spoon to create a feather like pattern on the owl’s body.
  6. Arrange watermelon seeds on both sides of the owl to represent the wings.

Check out this link:

http://www.parents.com/videos/v/79901569/halloween-treat-savory-owl-snack.htm

 

ANTS ON A LOG

Ingredients:

Celery Stalks

Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

Raisins

Procedure:

  1. Slice celery stalks. I made mine around 3 inches long, a good size fore kids.
  2. Spread peanut butter.
  3. Top with raisins in a straight line, leaving a bit of space between each.

Check out this link:

http://www.marthastewart.com/335401/ants-on-a-log

The kindergarteners busy working on their crafty snacks

The demonstration turned out to be a success. The children were very excited and happily followed along. They did a wonderful job creating the little owls and logs and you could see their sense of accomplishment when their end product looked similar to mine. And if that wasn’t enough, they all devoured it… Yes, even the celery! There were so many highs, but none more than how proud my 4 year old was to call me “Mommy.”

Scary Faces – Me with my daughter and her class

Fluid for the Flooding

It is that time of year again when the rainy season is in full swing.  Though I live in a gated community, I am no stranger to the floods. My house is in a street that fills up pretty quickly when a bad storm hits. Though many see it as unfortunate that floodwaters have risen as high as 6 feet inside my home, I always have a safe and dry place to go when I evacuate. I am still one of the lucky ones. My heart truly breaks for all the victims that lose so much and don’t have the means to replace them or worse, fall into sickness, injury and sometimes, even death in the most severe of cases.

Though we see terrible typhoons every year, Ondoy hurt us more than ever before. Since then, it is only the recent typhoon Maring that has been comparable. This is a personal account of how it affected me:

I remember the rains beginning to get strong as early as Saturday, continuing on to Sunday. I came home from the whole day spent in my parent’s house to a part of the village already flooding slightly in some of the lower streets. Knowing the drill, we parked our vehicles in some of the higher streets and moved some furniture from the first floor to the second in case water levels rose in the night. And in deed, they did. Our street flooded but luckily the water just barely came into the house. On Monday, I came home early because the rains came at a steady pace. I wanted to cook something warm and hearty that we could continue to heat up and serve over the next few days. (More about this later) We enjoyed this meal for dinner and went to bed early. At around 3am Tuesday morning, I just knew that the rain would not let up. I had our guard dogs moved upstairs and my husband and I brought up a few more valuables. We tried to go back to sleep but the thunder and lightning together with the relentless rainfall kept us worrying. By around 7am the water had already become around 2 feet high inside our home.  It did not take much time before it doubled and decisions had to be made. Do we wait it out with not enough food and water for our family and staff or try to leave while we can? (Meaning before our front door gets completely covered) I, being what my husband calls a “high-strung and panicky woman”, had to get my children out. So calls were made and it was decided that we would go with whoever rescuers made it to us first.  My cousin Fred Gonzales lives a few streets down. He arrived (and when I say arrived, I mean he swam to us) with a blow up boat. My husband put our 2 older daughters in first, then I together with our youngest. The 2 men then swam us out to safety. I will forever be grateful to Fred for being so gallant and I will always see him as someone who truly saved us. When we were clean (doused in alcohol and a hot bath) and dry, I found out the VP Jejomar Binay and his son, Mayor Junjun Binay also came to our house with the intention to rescue us. Though we were no longer there, I would like to send my deepest gratitude. I know he did save many others who reside in my village.

I may have suffered, but nothing in comparison to those that are left helpless. I have added a link below to rappler.com where you can find all the relief efforts to assist those who need it most. Please send whatever goods you can, whether it is food, old clothes, blankets, pampers  or sanitary pads, medicine, first aid materials… ANYTHING. All will be a appreciated.

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/33-editors-pick-moveph/36764-reliefph-help-typhoon-maring-victims

As promised earlier, here is my recipe for one of the most comforting dishes, a local version of Chicken Noodle Soup. This is always perfect to serve when the weather turns cold and a good way to include vegetables into your children’s meal.

Chicken Sotanghon

  • 3 bone-in Chicken Breasts, cleaned, skins removed and set aside
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Celery stalks, one whole and one sliced
  • 1/8 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 handful of Atsuete (Annatto) Seeds
  • 1 Chicken Cube
  • 1 medium sized Red Onion, chopped
  • 1 Leek stalk, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sized Carrots, julienned
  • 1 head of Cabbage, shredded
  • 1 package Sotanghon (Vermicelli) Noodles
  • Patis (Fish Sauce)
  • Salt & Pepper

I begin by placing 1 full celery stalk and 3 bay leaves in around 6 cups of water over high heat. Once it is boiling, I drop the chicken breasts. It usually takes the chicken around 20 minutes to cook.

While waiting, I proceed to make my atsuete oil, atsuete water and soup base. In a small pan, heat around 1/8 of a cup of vegetable oil and fry the left over chicken skin until golden brown. Once crisp, remove from heat and set aside on paper towels to drain oil. Lower heat, add a handful of atsuete seeds and sauté until the chicken oil becomes a rich orange-red color. Replace the small pan with a large soup pot, retaining the low heat then strain the atsuete chicken oil into the pot. While the oil heats, take the left over atsuete seeds and place in a bowl. Take a cup or two of the chicken stock (from the pot where your chicken is boiling) and put in the bowl with the seeds to make your atsuete water. Dissolve the chicken cube in the same bowl and set aside.

If chicken is cooked, remove from heat, shred and set aside. Keep the left over broth as it will be the stock for your soup.

By now, your atsuete oil is at a perfect low heat and you can add your red onion, leeks and garlic. You may add salt and pepper if you wish. Once tender, add celery, carrots and shredded chicken. Strain your atsuete water into this along with the left over chicken broth and bring to a boil.

While waiting, prepare your noodles. Soak the vermicelli noodles for around 5 minutes in water. Once tender, transfer to the pot along with the shredded cabbage. Season with patis, salt and pepper and let flavors come together for around 3-5 minutes. Mince the chicken skin set aside from earlier. Turn off the heat and serve immediately, topped with the crispy chicken skin.

A Local Gem

I am not going to lie there are many things about this country that I dislike… The constant traffic, the humidity, the lack of efficiency in systems, the very sad overwhelming amount of poverty… I guess these are things that most of us wish could improve. But when it comes down to it and I think of the actual land and its fruitful beauty, there is nothing I can complain about. No beach or mountainside has ever disappointed me. I am one of those people who enjoy the drive because I get to look out my window and relish in the magnificent views. Our local trees and plants are stunning, my favorite being the anahaw. And of course, one cannot talk about the wonders of the Philippines and not bring up the illustrious mango.

I don’t believe any other place in the world produces mangoes quite like we do. They are sweet and juicy, just bursting with the most refreshing flavor. Now that it is summer, I find them to be the most satisfying dessert. My favorite way to have them is completely frozen. A few weeks ago I was given a kaing of fresh and ripe mangoes flown in from Guimaras. This province has 8,000 hectares of mango orchards, which is why it is also known as “Mango Country.” I knew I would never be able to eat them all before they went over ripe so I peeled them and threw them in the freezer. Now I get to have a delicious cold treat, perfect for when the heat becomes too much to bear.

Another treat I make with mangoes are popsicles for my kids. When I was young, my Yaya and I would make the same recipe but stick it in a plastic bag and call it ice candy. Because I am working with children, I like to get a bit crafty. Here is a fun activity that will not only keep them occupied but assure you of a healthier alternative to store bought frozen treats. These homemade goodies have no added sugar or preservatives. It also allows you to control the amount of added fat and how many ounces per pop.

Ingredients:

2 ripe mangoes

2 under ripe mangoes (I like those that are already yellow in color but still firm and with a hint of sourness to the taste)

½ cup evaporated milk (feel free to substitute skim milk or even water for a healthier alternative)

Procedure:

  1. Slice mangoes and remove meat from skin. (I save the meat on the seed and consume it separately)
        2. Blend mango with milk until it becomes a smooth consistency.
        3. Pour equal amounts into 6 small plastic cups.
        4. Cover each cup with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. (This will keep the stick in the center)
          5. Insert popsicle sticks.
         6. Freeze overnight.