Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pork Cutlets

Pork cutlets is a dish from my childhood. Loved it. Still do. Best eaten with grainy, white rice and the tomato sauce (onions, tomato ketchup, water, tomato wedges). Good as leftovers too either with rice again, bread, or by itself. Delicious finger food. When I was eating pork cutlets for lunch at work (back when we were still living in Southern California), someone came in and called them meatballs. I think I winced inwardly as they were not meatballs to me, they were pork cutlets. Of course they were often described as meatballs because of their shape and pork cutlets around here are not shaped like meatballs.

I found this second definition of cutlet from Answers.com:
A patty of chopped meat or fish, usually coated with bread crumbs and fried; a flat croquette. Okay, I can breathe again.

I prefer pork and chicken to beef (unless it's another old favourite like beef with kai lan) which is another reason why I enjoy eating these cutlets. The pork cutlets that I love and know so well are minced or ground pork mixed with mashed potatoes, soy sauce, salt, pepper, chopped green onions then coated with egg and bread crumbs and fried in hot oil. Those are the ingredients I remember. I sometimes use Italian bread crumbs instead of Plain or a combination of both. I have yet to try it with panko bread crumbs but maybe I will one of these days. The crunchier, the better.

Mine have a tendency to get rather dark too quickly when I fry a second or third batch in the pan for the oil gets too hot. I usually fry them over a medium heat. I wanted them crisp on the outside and I also wanted the meat cooked on the inside. I've been pretty successful so far and we enjoy a pork cutlet and rice dinner every so often. And if there wasn't any of the tomato sauce left, I'd usually heat up the leftover cutlets in the microwave oven (no longer crispy but at least they were hot) and then eaten with rice and bottled sambal oelek. There had to be some sort of sauce or chilli accompaniment and there have been times when I wished I also had sambal belachan at home. Now that would have been delicious as well.

These pork cutlets remind me of my Singapore home, my childhood, and the people around me at the time including, or especially, Ah Eng, Ah Yeng and Ah Choo, who cooked and cleaned for us at different times over the years. And I remember Ah Eng the most because I actually remember her frying the pork cutlets (either for lunch or dinner) and I would go into the kitchen and ask to sample one or two (or three!) that were already cooked. Another nice memory and maybe that's the best part of all. Plus they taste good.

"I give my life, a sacrifice of love for you"

This is the description of the video from the YouTube website:

"This is My Body" was inspired through a conversation that Fr. Pavone had with Dana about the comparison between the words "This is My Body" as used by Jesus to give us eternal life, and as used by abortion supporters to defend the taking of life. Fr. Pavone gave Dana the brochure that he had written about this comparison, and suggested that a song should be written to convey this powerful message. Within a few hours, Dana called him back and said that she had the song basically written! After subsequent meetings and sitting together at the piano, Fr. Frank and Dana were satisfied that the finished product would inspire pro-life people worldwide.

In the song, Dana plays the role of a woman who has had an abortion. Gretchen sings as a woman who believes in the "right to choose." And Mark plays the role of Jesus, who teaches us to sacrifice ourselves for others. They each do this using the same words, "This is My Body."

Carrot Cake

This was my first attempt at baking a carrot cake. The recipe can be found here at the Betty Crocker web site.

It was for hubby's birthday as he had requested a carrot cake. And he wanted a heavy cake. All the recipes I found online mentioned how dense their cakes were. Sounded good to me! I had either whipped the frosting too much (till it got too thin to spread) or it was affected by the heat as it was pretty hot that day. Anyways, I managed to frost the cake and added walnuts to make it somewhat pretty. It wasn't the best-looking cake but at least it tasted good. Hubby was very pleased with it and enjoyed it again and again, sometimes with extra frosting on the cake as I'd kept the remaining frosting in a bowl and refrigerated it along with the cake. I have to admit that I didn't care for it when I first tried a piece. It tasted all right. But it did taste better the next day. The next time I bake a carrot cake, I'll be sure to add more frosting in between the layers. Lots more. You can hardly see any frosting in mine (yes, I was a stingy poker in that department).

I've bookmarked two other carrot cake recipes and will be sure to try another one some other time. And, hopefully, it will be a prettier cake! Practice makes perfect, as they say. Gotta keep practicing!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One Bread, One Body

I felt compelled to post this video when I saw it on YouTube the other day. And when one feels compelled to do something, well, one just has to do it, I suppose. Especially when I read today's gospel reading which included the following lines:

So they said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
(John 6:34-35)

Now how can anyone ignore that?

I have always loved this hymn. And I also like the images in this video. And I wish reverence for the Mass would make a comeback.

Maybe this blog is evolving into something else. Yes, it was inspired by food, initially, but it was never meant to always be about food. And He is the Bread of Life after all. What more could we want?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy

Yup, I did it. It was my first attempt and it was a success or a fluke (one can't tell these things). We already had some leftover dough for the savoury cheese biscuits and hubby wanted biscuits and gravy for breakfast so I made the gravy as per his instructions. I also made a discovery about the cheese biscuits. I don't think the dough can be kept too long. I doubt if dough can be kept too long anyway. Each time I baked the biscuits from the same batch, they looked browner on the top and just a little odd, a little flaky. So maybe it would be best to bake as many as possible except that we couldn't possibly eat them all. But then again, mine didn't look like the biscuits pictured in the recipe either when I made them fresh:

Savoury cheese biscuits from Oregon Street Tea Company

What to do. Mine were nice and fluffy on the inside and were delicious. Will see what I can do the next time.

For the gravy, I followed the recipe hubby gave me as he'd been making it for years, having eaten (and loving) it since young. Over the years, he tried to get an actual recipe but was only told a bit of this, add a little of that. I was making it for one person so it was 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cups milk, lots of salt and pepper. Melt the butter slowly over medium heat (it was actually fascinating to watch the pat of butter slowly dwindle down in size and I found myself staring at it in wonder - nope, I can't explain it either), add the flour and stir slowly to form a roux, mixing really well. Add the milk slowly and continue stirring over medium heat until it thickens. So I continued stirring and was afraid to walk away from the stove and wanted to serve it hot over the biscuits and so didn't take a picture of it. So I found a picture on the web and it looked something like this (no, really):

Picture from What's Cooking America

I ladled the gravy over the biscuits and served them hot. Lots and lots of gravy. I sampled a little bit and I liked it. There was still some gravy left over so it could have been for two persons (if the second person didn't mind less gravy).

Picture from Mama's Southern Cooking

The picture above (found on the web) is sort of how the biscuits and gravy looked except that mine was milk gravy without any crumbled sausage or any other meat in it. And you couldn't see the biscuits at all for they were smothered in gravy. There are scores of gravy recipes out there and for now, I'm quite satisfied with this one since it worked out just fine. My first attempt at making gravy was actually a success. Let's see how it turns out a second time! Oh yes, and have the camera at the ready.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Savory Cheese Biscuits

This recipe is from the Oregon Street Tea Company. They used to have a shop in town and I went there a few times to have their high tea. Yes, including fine china, scones, devonshire cream, sandwiches and desserts. It was one of those lovely treats that one allowed oneself to indulge in every once in a long while. They also had a delicious quiche which I now miss.

I wasn't really one for biscuits at the beginning but soon got used to them as there weren't any scones around. We were used to the Pillsbury brand and others but recently, I found myself wanting to make them from scratch (yes, big surprise) and I'd always wanted to try this recipe ever since I saw it on the web site. It actually turned out quite well and I found myself eating more than one or two. Quite filling too, really. (And I wonder how many calories...)

Ready for the oven

Savory Cheese Biscuits

*2 cups self-rising flour
*1 teaspoon sugar
*1/2 cup butter
*1 cup sour cream
*1 cup grated cheddar cheese

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
*Mix flour and sugar.
*Cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas.
*Add sour cream and cheese and blend thoroughly.
*Roll out dough on a floured board. (Mixture may need a little extra flour).
*Cut with a biscuit cutter and put on an ungreased pan.
*Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Freshly baked biscuits, the one in front broken in half, revealing the melted cheddar cheese. As Rachael Ray says, "Yummo!"

Since I don't have a biscuit cutter, I've been using the rim of a champagne glass (as I didn't want them too big). I made a small batch this afternoon and wrapped the remaining dough in saran wrap and refrigerated it till dinner-time. For the second batch, I used the rim of a wine glass, wanting a slightly larger biscuit. Turned out quite well. Now to get me a biscuit cutter if I'm going to be baking these biscuits on a semi-regular basis!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chinese Wayang

This used to be a familiar scene when I was oh, so much younger and innocent. I can still picture it in my head especially the night scene. I seem to remember a dirt road. People coming and going. And the music. And that familiar stage for it was very familiar once upon a time.

(Picture courtesy of Cantonese Opera)

(Picture courtesy of Cantonese Opera)

It has all been taken for granted and stored away. There were times when I visited Singapore and would hear the familiar strains of a Chinese opera being performed. And I longed to be a part of it, sitting there in the audience, watching and listening to something that was now slightly foreign and yet so familiar. I remember being lifted up as a little girl so that we could visit backstage. It's a nice memory.