Friday, December 28, 2012

The Christmas Ham

      Growing up in the Philippines, a country where Christmas season officially starts on September 1st and ends on the Feast of the Epiphany, there are so many beautiful traditions that now I would like to pass on to my children.  Since we don't have the same 4 or so months of celebration here in the United States, I try to make December 24th and 25th as special as possible.

       Noche Buena or the Christmas Eve Meal is the highlight of the Filipino celebration.  This festive meal which usually takes place at exactly midnight, according to my late grandmother is a birthday party for Jesus Christ.  I remember family members would gather around the table, say grace and enjoy each other's company (or not! Well, one has no choice coz the elders require your attendance) while eating what seems to look like more than a week's worth of food. 

       For this year, I still continued the midnight feast.  However, I have to change the menu since most of the almost all the traditional food are not allergy friendly. Goodbye to the cheese platter, Buco Fruit Salad, Chicken Macaroni Salad, Embutido, Morcon etc.

        I was about to scrap the idea of having the star of the Noche Buena which is the Chrismas Ham since most of the pre-made hams aren't allergy friendly or if so, it's crazy expensive.  Come on, it's not Christmas without the ham!  

       While doing last minute grocery shopping at the local Asian store, I came across this nice sized fresh pork shoulder labeled as  Pork Ham.  Call it a light bulb moment but I was inspired to make my very own Christmas Ham.  Though I forgo the curing and the drying steps necessary for regular hams, this version is so easy to follow and delicious you'll come back for more.      


3 1/4 to 4 lbs of fresh bone in pork shoulder
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
3 1/2 Tbs. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp cloves
1 pc sliced pineapple

1. In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the pork shoulder.  Make sure the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
2. Score the skin of the pork shoulder and put in the bowl with the seasoning mixture.
3. Cover the bowl and let the pork marinate for at least 2 hours.
4. Transfer the pork and marinade to an oven proof dish and bake at 400 degrees for an hour.
5. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees, cover with foil and bake for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Baste the pork with the marinade every 30 minutes.
6. Once cooked, slowly remove the skin and glaze the ham with the sauce collected in the pan. Let the ham rest in the pan for 20 minutes.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and top with a sliced pineapple.
8. Slice thinly and enjoy!

- Roz

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chicken Marsala - Gluten Free Recipe

      Chicken Marsala is one of my favorites. It's simple to prepare and only requires just a few ingredients.  When our household became gluten, dairy and egg free, I thought I will have a tough time remaking this dish.

        Last month, while wine shopping at Wegman's, I accidentally passed by the Marsala wines. With just 2 bottles remaining, I had this urge to grab one.  The next day, I worked on my new version of Chicken Marsala.  With a little tinkering on the breading, I was able to come up with a dish that I'll say even better that my regular recipe. 


5 pcs. Skinless, boneless Chicken breast portions

Breading Mix:
2/3 c Waterchestnut powder (you can also use corn starch)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder

1 cup Marsala wine
16 oz chicken broth
2 Tbs. sea salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp chili flakes
2 Tbs vegan buttery spread (or regular butter)
4 Tbs olive oil
3 medium sized bell peppers (cut into strips)
1 medium sized onion (sliced in half moon shapes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Prepare the chicken breast by slicing it in half and pounding it to about 1/4 inch thick.  Set aside.
2. In a big shallow bowl, combine the ingredients for the breading mix.
3. Heat a big skillet and add the olive oil.
4. Coat the chicken pieces with the breading mix and pan fry in batches.  About 3 minutes on each side.  Do not overcook.
5. Using the same pan, add the butter and saute the bell peppers and onion.
6. Once the onions turned translucent, add the marsala wine to deglaze the pan. Make sure to scrape the browned bits.  Those are full of flavor.
7. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.
8. When the stock starts to boil, season with the oregano, black pepper, chili flakes and 1 Tbs. of sea salt. 
9. Taste the sauce.  If you think it needs more salt, slowly add the remaining 1 Tbs. tasting after each addition. The amount of salt you will use depends on the type of stock you used. 
10. Put the chicken pieces on the the pan with the sauce and simmer covered for 20 to 40 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking on the bottom of the pan.
11. Turn off heat and add the chopped parsley.  Mix before serving.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Ham & Cheese Breakfast Roll Ups

       Breakfast is always big in our house.  Since it is the first meal of the day, I want to make sure that everyone gets to have their fill of carbs, protein and even vitamins. After that, they can eat crappy right? (Yeah right!)

        Anyway, while I was making some pancakes the other day, I was inspired to use the left over ham and Daiya shreds in the fridge.  What could possible go wrong?  After all, when I was still in school, I remember having those Waffles filled with salty ham and gooey cheese at the cafeteria. Ah!  I know what you're thinking when I said the C word.  Well, I confess I am one of those lucky ones whose food were made from scratch by the Sisters everyday and these nuns are such great cooks.  Having said that, this simple recipe brings great childhood memories.  Plus, it's so easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time. 

Your favorite Pancake Batter  (I used the Cherrybrook Kitchen Pancake Mix)
Organic Deli Ham Slices
Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds or regular shredded cheese (your fave)

1. Prepare the batter.  Since I used a mix, I followed the directions to make 7 pancakes.
2. Pour the batter on a hot skillet or griddle. Pancakes should be at least 4 inches in diameter. 
3. Once the surface looks like it's ready (about 2-3 minutes), place a slice of ham and flip. You will hear some sizzle.
4. Cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Transfer to a plate with a ham side up. 
6. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and roll.
7. Enjoy!


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