Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Papa's Beef Kaldereta (Beef Stew)

Kaldereta and a glass of red wine
I'm blessed with amazing cooks in my family.  I've been surround by delicious food all my life.  The best of the best...My dad's cooking.  I can't think of one single thing he makes that I don't love.  Of course he specializes in Filipino food although he makes a legendary roast beef with gravy.  For so long I've tried to make my Filipino dishes taste like his and I couldn't!  Even though he gave me the recipe.  The problem is...he (and all my aunties who are all great cooks) don't measure anything.  They do everything to taste and trying to get an actual recipe with specific measurements is like having soup with a slotted spoon.  Well, in last couple of years, I've started to become successful in replicating some of my favourite dishes...carefully taking note of my measurements for future reference.  Hubby loves Kaldereta.  It's probably his favourite Filipino dish.  This and mechado (a future blog post I'm sure).  And my Little Miss L loves rice.  She asks for it everyday.  So what is Kaldereta? (pronounced CUL - da - reh - tah)  Beef stew!  Beef and a variety of veggies in a savoury tomato sauce.  It's a hearty meal served with hot steamed rice.  This recipe is great when you're having company over because it serves 6-8 adults.  If not, leftovers are great the following day or two or can even be frozen.  Or you could half the recipe.

Papa's Beef Kaldereta
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves 6-8

2 kilos chuck roast, cubed into 1 x 2 inches chunks (don't buy too lean)
2 onions, chopped
½ head of garlic, chopped
1 can 28 oz or 796 ml tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
½ cup soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
12-15  baby potatoes
2 cups water
1 cup baby carrots
1 small jar of stuffed green olives
2 bell peppers (I like red), cut into large pieces
2 cups green peas
Brown beef in batches in a large pot and set aside.  Saute garlic and onions in the same pan and add oil if necessary.  Add tomato sauce, soy sauce, bay leaf, black pepper and diced red peppers.  And beef back into the pot.  Saute for about 10 minutes then add  2 cups of water.  Simmer until meat is tender about 45 minutes.  Add  potatoes, carrots and olives.  When the potatoes and carrots are cooked add red and green pepper and green peas, simmer for about 5 mins.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve over steamed rice.

oops!  I forgot the olives this time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A lot of chocolate cake

Chocolate cake...I've been on a mission to find chocolate cake that's like what I remember from growing up in the Philippines.  Chocolate so dark, it's black.  Not brown, not dark brown, not even black/brown.  It's black.  Well, last summer my mission accomplished!  My parents came home from their visit to the motherland with this:
Caro & Marie Black Cocoa Powder
I promptly whipped up a pure black chocolate cake using my favourite chocolate cake recipe from Sweetapolita.  It was so black, I had a terrible time taking it's picture.

It was good and not super sweet and very, very black.  But, I found that it lost "chocolatey-ness".  

I made another attempt when my friend, Ms. Physio specifically requested a dark chocolate cake for her birthday.  This one was perfection. Probably the best cake I've ever made so far.  It was SO good.  The cake was rich, very dark, moist, chocolatey and not overly sweet.  The frosting was light, mousse-like and the perfect sweetness to compliment such a rich cake.  I used the exact same recipe but instead used half Dutch processed cocoa and half black cocoa for the cake.  For the frosting, I used Dutch processed because I wanted to see contrast between the cake and frosting.  My favourite part about this recipe is you get to throw all the ingredients in one bowl and mix.  Even if you don't have black cocoa, make this cake and you'll love it too.

Rich Dark Chocolate Cake with Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting
Yields: 8" 3 layer cake
Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

For Chocolate Cake:
2-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon (330 g) all-purpose flour
3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (135 g) dark cocoa powder (I used 1/2 cup black cocoa)
1 tablespoon (15 g) baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
1-1/2 cups (360 mL) strong black coffee, hot
3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil
1-1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pure vanilla extract

For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
1 lb butter (4 sticks)(2 cups)(454 g), at room temperature
4 cups (500 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
3/4 cup (75 g) Ovaltine Classic (brown in colour)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
8 oz (250 g) quality Belgian chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
1/2 cup (120 mL) whipping (35% fat) cream


For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8" round cake pans (line bottom with parchment paper and spray sides with non-stick spray).
In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. (Batter will be thin.) Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
Black vs Dutch Processed Cocoa

For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute.
Add malt powder, vanilla and salt, and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).
Add whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for another minute.

Once the cakes have cooled completely, I wrap it up in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for about 30 mins.  Alternate layers of frosting and cake and make sure you have a good amount between the layers.  Cover the top of the cake and sides with more frosting.  Chill for at least a hour to let the cake set then allow to come to room temperature before serving.