Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mixed Berries and Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Thinking of a gift for mother's day? Why not surprise your mom, (or the mom of your kiddos) to a breakfast-in-bed with this super easy bread pudding. It's so easy to make that I did it during my lunch break! It takes 5 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake. How easy is that? However, if you have time, I would recommend you let the bread soak in the milk mixture for a good 20 minutes before you pop in the oven to absorb the flavor.

Difficulty: Easy

4 slices of white loaf bread, cut into 1 inch squares
4 eggs 
1cup fresh milk 
1cup heavy cream 
1/2 cup sugar*
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt 
a few shavings of nutmeg 
1 and 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries 
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips 
maple syrup, to serve (optional)
*If not using maple syrup, sugar may be adjusted from 1/2 to 1 cup.

1. Preheat oven to 200*c. 

2. Except for the bread, berries and chocolate chips, mix everything together in a saucepan over low heat. I don't intend to cook the mixture, I just find it easier to mix together when its warmed, 3-5 minutes. 

3. Butter 4 ramekins. Divide the bread, berries and choco chips into 4 ramekins. Pour over cream mixture (Note: If you're not in a hurry, leave it for 20 minutes in the fridge so the bread will soak up more of the cream). 

4. Put the ramekins into a roasting pan with water halfway to the ramekins and bake bain marie for  20 minutes. You may also sprinkle sugar on top 1 minute before you get it out of the oven and crank the heat to broil so you'll have a bruleed crust. But watch closely, you want the top bruleed not toasted.

5. Serve hot drizzled with maple syrup on top.

Serves 4.

Homemade on 23 April 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013


My Beef Caldereta, a traditional Filipino stew, is probably the most requested dish friends ask me to bring whenever there's a potluck get-together. I love that they appreciate my cooking; to be asked for a repeat is the best compliment for an aspiring cook like me, (or it could be that I have really nice friends!).

Before, potluck get-together meant take-aways, home delivery or we just chip-in some cash for the food. It all changed when I got into the hobby of cooking. I feel I show a bit more appreciation to the host when I make the effort to prepare and bring something homemade. There's that added It's not always a success though, sometimes what I make doesn't look (or taste!) exactly how I wanted it to be, like this one here, oh what a disaster!
instagram: tea cakes...epic fail! :'(
When this happens, a good bottle of booze is in order...or Krispy Kreme :-)

Recently, some of our friends organized a surprise send-off party to a lovely couple who are dear to us. We expats are used to hellos and goodbyes. For most of us Bahrain is (just) a "transient home". Sooner or later, we will bid ma'a salama (goodbye). But while we're here, we make friends, build relationships and touch lives. Some of my dearest and closest friends I met here in Bahrain, friends like the couple we honored that night. It was fun and loud as usual, but poignant nonetheless. We will miss them terribly, but it doesn't mean our friendship has to end. The world is smaller now and there are many ways to get in touch, (thanks mostly to Facebook!). And so though we will be miles apart, instead of goodbye, we say "till we meet again".

Going back to the caldereta, which was the dish that i brought to the send off, I thought it was high time to share the recipe so my friends, near and far can enjoy it anytime. And I'm dishing out my secrets why this dish is different from most caldereta you might have tried.

I'm going to peg this dish at medium difficulty not because it is complicated, it is really pretty simple and easy to prepare, but it is time consuming. You need 45 minutes pre-cooking and at least 2 hours resting time. You can even pre-cook the beef the night before. You can skip the resting time but I do this for one reason alone, which is secret no. skim off the fat.

I pressure-cook the beef then separate the beef from the stock and strain the stock to remove the spices. Pop the stock in the fridge for 2 hours to overnight. What happens next is the reason I take these extra steps...the fat will settle on top and harden forming a crust as seen here. Then it will be easy to remove these artery-clogging fats. So I get all the flavors of the fatty parts of the beef without the actual fats. I then add a different kind of fat, the ingredients that makes this dish creamy...dairy, make that 2 kinds of dairy-- butter and cheese. Hey, I didn't say this dish is healthy, but it is soulful, perfect to share with good friends.

How about you, what's your favorite dish to bring to a potluck?

Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 + 30 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

1 kg beef ribs, cut into cubes
1 kg beef brisket, cut into cubes
6 cups water
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp whole black peppercorn
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 head of garlic, whole, top trimmed + 1 head of garlic, minced
2 tbsp EVOO
1 stick of butter
2 medium sized red onions, diced
500 g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cube
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch thick
1 large green capsicum, deseeded and cut into square (1 inch), about 2 cups
2 cups green peas
2 packs Mama Sita Caldereta Mix
2 Reno liver spread
100 g sharp cheddar cheese, grated


1. Pressure cook the beef in water, salt, whole black peppercorn and 1 whole head of garlic for 45 minutes. Cool before opening the lid. Transfer the beef in one container and strain the stock. Discard the spices. Pop the stock in the fridge for a good 2 hours until the fat forms a crust on top. Skim off the fat and discard. Warm the stock over low heat. Set aside.

2. In a large, deep pot, melt the butter with EVOO over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn the garlic and the butter. Add the onion and crank up the heat to high. Saute occasionally for another 3 minutes until the onion is semi-translucent. Add the cooked beef, potato, liver spread, 4-5 cups of stock and Mama Sita Caldereta Mix. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes then turn down the heat to medium. Cover the pot and stir occasionally until the potato is almost cooked, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add the ground pepper and salt as needed.

3. When the potatoes and carrots are cooked, add the capsicum, green peas and cheese just before you turn off the heat. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Makes 12-14 servings.

Home-cooked Meals
21 Sep 2012