Tuesday, May 18, 2010

pan de sal

So, its not that I wasn't really 'not blogging' for a year. living in Phuket, one of the gems that i found is chickynet, its the network of expat women in the island and had wonderfully aided me in my adjustment period as a new resident of Phuket.

we meet for lunches, dinners, sports activities, book clubs, cooking classes (more on that later)..somewhat very stepford wive-ish but in a tropical setting.

( one of the ladies' northern lunch in Surin Beach)

(the Chickynet Dragonboat Rowing Team, we won first in our category)

I'm part of a recipe swap group where we swap recipes of course (no surprise there). The succeeding entries are my recipes for the 'chickies' (yes, that's how we call ourselves):

Pan de Sal according to Wikipedia is "a rounded bread usually eaten by Filipinos. It is a bread made of flour, eggs, lard, yeast, sugar, and salt.". But such a simple bread can inspire a Filipino National Artist to pen a prose that became a classic. NVM Gonzalez ' Bread of Salt' describes poetically and captures the the whole experience of having Pan de Sal..

"The bread of salt! How did it get that name? From where did its flavor come,
through what secret action of flour and yeast? At the risk of being jostled from the
counter by early buyers, I would push my way into the shop so that I might watch
the men who, stripped to the waist, worked their long flat wooden spades in and
out of the glowing maw of the oven. Why did the bread come nut-brown and the
size of my little fist? And why did it have a pair of lips convulsed into a painful
frown? In the half light of the street, and hurrying, the paper bag pressed to my
chest, I felt my curiosity a little gratified by the oven-fresh warmth of the bread I
was proudly bringing home for breakfast."

Although i had it for lunch with grilled chicken and fresh cherry tomatoes..the smell of butter melting on the warm bread brought me home.


2 c milk
3/4 c white sugar
1/2 c butter (about half a stick of the small ones you see in the grocery)
1 (.25 ounce) package of active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 c all purpose flour ( or you can try half all purpose and half whole wheat)
2 tbsp dry crumbs

1. Heat butter. add milk and make sure it will not boil. Add sugar and mix until its melted. Remove from heat and cool.

2. When cooled, pour to a large mixing bowl. Add yeast, salt baking soda, baking powder and flour. Make sure each ingredient dissolves first before adding the next one. Knead dough for 8 mins

3.Lightly oil a mixing bowl,place dough and turn to coat everything on oil. Cover with damp clothe and let it rise till it doubles the volume.

4. Preheat oven 375 F (190 C)

5. Deflate dough and turned it into a flat floured surface. Divide to 12 equal pieces and form into rounds. Placed into lightly greased baking sheets cover with the damp clothe till it doubles its volume. (about 40 min)

6. Sprinkle bread crumbs and bake for 15 -20 min or till the top is golden.

Monday, May 17, 2010

my 34th

Initially, I planned to holiday in Bali. So, I booked, applied for a leave at work. But, I cannot get confirmation for the accommodation that I choose from the list of hotels that I can use my complimentary points. My other option was Vientianne. The Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel is an Angsana hotel therefore I can use my voucher there. But nobody wanted to go with me and Laos is not exactly the kind of place that gives security to a woman traveling all by herself.

Scott then wanted to go to Chiang Mai so I immediately booked for Bodhi Serene as it was well recommended by a lot of people. But my boss told me that I cannot go far because we are downsizing for the low season and there is not enough people at work.

Bangkok? Mai dai! it is red shirt infested so its not fun to be caught in the middle of all the mess. Eventually, we settled for a short respite at the Banyan Tree Phuket (5 min from our apartment) but hey, its good than nothing and its Banyan Tree so how can I complain.

here's our villa:

(its wide and spacious and the living space opens up to a garden with a jacuzzi)

The highlight of it was the dinner that we had at Tre, a Vietnamese/French restaurant that can only be accessible through a buggy (unless you want to ride a bicyle ). Nestled beside a lake and passing through Japanese bridge, the restaurant is enchanting in the evening because of the lanterns floating on the lagoon and being blown away up in the sky. There was also a wedding on the beach that night so we had a wonderful fireworks display to add more magic on the occasion.

And least we forget, the food--ok, i'm guilty of not taking a good camera and not taking a lot of pictures. We were served the usual fare of bread basket with olive oil, butter and Himalayan salt..now, the Himalayan salt is not like any other salt, its the purest salt on earth and has medicinal properties ( i got this one from the raw food workshop that i have been to a few months back). but the flavor is not just.. uhm salty (?) but its with a hint of curry and coriander as well.
for starters, we had rock lobster with mango salsa and Vietnamese spring roll then Scott ordered a veal carpaccio.

Christy ( the one beside me in the above picture) ordered white cod fish with risotto and I had steak. We were then surprised with a birthday cake ( they took note of my birthday from my passport while i was checking in--now that's 5 star!)

I didn't really expect that my birthday would turned out well specially with the numerous changes of plan that went on before it, but a breakfast buffet with champagne the next day sealed the deal that it was one of my best ever!

and here we go again

after almost a year of hiatus - here i am again. so, how should i start over? i figured, i should just pick it up where i left, albeit not exactly on the same place. 10 lbs lighter, a little bit happier .. more at peace with the world.

i thought the most fitting food for the occasion and one that inspired me to go back blogging again would be this simple yet uplifting chicken noodle soup.

made out of shredded chicken, chicken feet,. ampalaya.. kangkong,. sprouts, yellow egg noodle, radish and chicken broth. flavored by ground peanut, chili sauce or. nahm phrik. and dried chilis.

this soup balms the soul, heals the afflicted and puts joy in your heart. Jackie, my office mate (and the girl in pink at the foreground below) can actually eat a bowl everyday (including Sundays since the noodle guy goes to the same church as we do). People in our office look forward to it every morning that there was some sort of bond with us 'noodle people'. Such that when our boss banned us from having our self imposed noodle break, we were provoked closed enough to put on our red shirts and take the issue to the streets ;).

levity aside, this noodle is more that just sustenance .. it lifts your spirit and never fails to put a smile on your morning and like the effect of its simple and clear broth .. its unpretentious, its lightness .. i hope to be back. and hopefully healed.