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Cooking Inspirations From The World Wide Web

By Nina Daza Puyat

featured image cooking inspo

“Oh, how nice, you’re nesting!” my good friend Emily from the U.S. remarked when I shared that I was busy cleaning and sorting through cabinets and drawers, organizing books and family photos (printed and digital format), and was in fact, very far from being bored at home.

Nesting is often experienced by most pregnant women in the last weeks of pregnancy, when they suddenly feel the urge to clean the house, organize the nursery, and stock up on supplies needed by the baby.

While I am way past child-bearing age, this lockdown period has kicked my mothering instincts into high gear. I feel very strongly about having to protect my home and its occupants (my husband, two sons in their 20s, and two household helpers). Nothing is more important to me than making sure everyone is healthy and well-fed.

On the occasions that my husband Louie and I would venture out, it is always a quick trip nearby to buy supplies—vegetables and fruits, chicken or meat, or even a missing ingredient for a dish. We always felt so accomplished after getting a simple errand done, even if it is just to buy drinks or ice cream at the neighborhood convenience store.

We are lucky to be in a village where our neighbors have started selling key ingredients, too. We have suppliers for fresh fish and shellfish, imported frozen seafood, fruits, assorted fresh mushrooms, dried pasta and olive oils, different kinds of bread, cakes, cookies, and even cooked food, with a changing daily menu. One afternoon, we went to four different houses inside our village, picking up all sorts of goodies. It truly felt like we were on a military mission to collect armory supplies to bring back to barracks!

Perhaps to counter the increasingly depressing news on TV, I make a conscious effort to cook special dinners, changing up the menu to surprise my family, and also to challenge myself to learn new dishes. Old family favorites are still present, of course, but I also have to be creative because shopping for ingredients has become a luxury. Funnily enough, I soon realized that my menu planning was heavily influenced by what I was currently watching on Netflix or on TV.

I had a K-drama phase where we would have Korean ramen, BBQ, and assorted banchan. I even replicated the famous soft tofu stew of Itaewon Class’ Dan Bam restaurant, following the recipe from Maangchi.com, taught by a cute, quirky Korean lady. One afternoon, we had fun making her Korean fried twisted donuts and had them for merienda.

When we caught David Celdran’s Executive Class showing him feasting on Indian food, I switched our menu that night to tandoori chicken. I made dal (yellow lentils) for the first time and served a side dish of cucumber and yogurt raita, paired with pan-grilled paratha (frozen, store-bought) and fried papadum (my husband baptized them as Indian kropek).

The week I watched (and eventually read) Michelle Obama’s Becoming, we had dishes like barbecued ribs and dirty rice, meatloaf, and Boston baked beans. For dessert, I baked apple pie and walnut brownies, both recipes from the new edition of Let’s Cook with Nora. Three weeks later, I tried making an Apple Brown Betty and found that it is the lazy cook’s version of apple pie, but just as good and satisfying.

Perhaps to counter the increasingly depressing news on TV, I make a conscious effort to cook special dinners, changing up the menu to surprise my family, and also to challenge myself to learn new dishes… I soon realized that my menu planning was heavily influenced by what I was currently watching on Netflix or on TV.

One night, my son Joseph and I had a four-hands collaboration and surprised the family with a build-your-own-burger spread. He insisted on simply seasoning the ground beef with salt and pepper and then smashing them onto a hot griddle. He concocted a Shack Burger Sauce, using mayonnaise, catsup, Dijon mustard, pickle brine, and some spices.

He wouldn’t settle for the commercially made burger buns and wanted brioche, so I followed a recipe video from Tasty.com and came up with decent-enough brioche buns to hold everything together. Needless to say, it was one of our more memorable dinners during the lockdown.

Although he’s now working from home as a sound engineer, Joe has been making good use of his free time by experimenting in the kitchen. Relying on Youtube videos, he has made two kinds of chili sauce from scratch, pickled different kinds of peppers, and is now waiting to taste his homemade sauerkraut and tomato catsup in a few days.

Our two eldest children (living on their own) are also cooking more than ever, and I’m very impressed with how much time and effort they spend in the kitchen. We swap photos of our dishes and share recipes and cooking tips over group chat, all hoping to one day soon, sit down at table to share recipes and cooking tips over group chat, all hoping to one day soon, sit down at table to share a meal together once again.

K-DRAMA RAMEN

IMG_1771

Ingredients

  • 1 thick slice luncheon meat
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps. cooking oil
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 stalks onion leeks, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tbsp. kimchi, chopped
  • 1 pack Korean ramen (mild or spicy)

Procedure

  1. Coat luncheon meat slice with brown sugar on both sides. Heat cooking oil and pan-fry luncheon meat until reddish-golden on both sides. Cut into cubes and set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, combine water, leeks, kimchi, ramen spice packet, and vegetable packet. Bring mixture to a boil.
  3. As soon as it boils, add noodles. Cook until noodles are done (about four minutes), stirring to loosen noodles into the soup. Pour ramen into a bowl then top with the fried luncheon meat. Serve immediately.

MICHELLE’S APPLE BROWN BETTY

(adapted from Food.com)

IMG_1790

Ingredients

Syrup

  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsps. lemon juice

Apples Spice Mix

  • 4 medium Fuji apples
  • 1 ½ tsps. cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Crumble Topping

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chilled butter, diced small

Procedure

  1. First, make the syrup. Combine brown sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for five minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn heat off and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and slice the apples (¼-inch to ½ -inch thick). Toss in cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring to coat all slices. Drizzle in cooled syrup, reserving one tablespoon for topping. Place apples in a square baking dish (8” x 8” or 9” x 9”).
  3. Make crumble topping. Combine flour, brown sugar, and walnuts. Toss in butter and cut into the mixture using two knives. Continue until butter is well distributed throughout the mixture. Top this mixture over the apples and spread evenly. Lightly pat to press mixture down. Drizzle extra syrup on top.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for one hour.
  5. Serve Michelle’s Apple Brown Betty warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/02/cooking-inspirations-from-the-world-wide-web/)

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