Comfort Soup

One of my favorite soups that my dad would make is sopas. Sopas is soup in Spanish, but when you say sopas in the Philippines, it means elbow macaroni in a creamy soup. The meat in the sopas is usually chicken, but the way my dad would make it is with ham.

Nick and I were buying some groceries at Safeway when I saw a package of smoked ham hocks sitting in the shelf. The first thought that came to mind was my dad’s sopas so I just had to get some some carrots and celery, and I was ready to make it.

And because I was originally making Chicken Afritada for Nick, I cooked both the Afritada and the Sopas at the same time. Take note, it was 9:30pm when I started cooking. Talk about late cooking in the Hayes household.

In the Philippines, we usually eat sopas for merienda (midday snack). I remember eating it for lunch in high school on those cold rainy days in June. Ah those days. It seemed like it was yesterday when classes would be cancelled midday because of a typhoon and we’re already in school so we have to wait for my dad to pick us up. Where else would we hang out but the cafeteria. The lunch ladies would be ready for the onslaught of orders from the excited kids who want to eat as they wait for their parents to pick them up. But I digress…

Below is the Chicken Afritada I made for Nick. I wasn’t in the mood for it since I felt that I was making it a lot, but since Nick wanted it, I made it for him.
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Instead of using elbow macaroni, I used the egg noodles that we had. It was kind of the same. Texture-wise, I think I like the elbow macaroni more. I remember the days of eating soggy macaroni in the sopas. Ahhh heaven.
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I know if my dad saw the photo below, he’d be so proud of me. I think my future kiddies would love this. It’d be their favorite and they’d ask me to add extra milk in it. Just as I did when I was young.

My dad would be cooking the sopas. I’d watch the whole process of how he did it and learn from him. Well sometimes he’d walk away to do other things while the sopas is simmering. What I would do is sneak in more milk into the soup to make it extra creamy. I don’t think he ever noticed. He would then say, “Wow this is really good.” He’d be so proud of what he made. And inside I was thinking, “That’s because of me, I put the extra milk in there to make it yummy.”
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He Would Think it is Gourmet

There are times when I get home from work and all I want to do is sit on the couch, watch Bizarre Foods and eat. Yes I can do that without puking my guts out. The thing is, food doesn’t make itself. And eating canned sardines and rice everyday is not really my thing. I love Filipino sardines with rice though. What I’m saying is, I have to cook and Nick can’t because he has to study.

The one thing about my 9-5 job is that, when I get home, I don’t have extra work stuff to do. Nick does because he has to do homework. I don’t have any excuse for not cooking. Ah, these are the times that I wish I had a helper at home. Some of y’all in Manila better not be complaining about how hard your life is if you have a helper. Puuhleeeez! Ok I’ll save that for another post.

My introduction is getting long. Anyway, I made some Mahi-mahi with capers and onions on a bed of  couscous. Sounds fancy doesn’t it? I made this with just 10 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cooking. 25 minutes total is pretty fast if you’re a Filipino because we like our stews and stews take a while to cook.

I was also craving for fish so I just HAD to get me some Mahi-mahi.

I got this recipe from Epicurious. I started with the onions. Carmelized them in butter and olive oil.

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And while that was carmelizing, I prepped the fish and placed it in the oven. Remember to preheat your oven.

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I cooked the onions until it was carmelized and in the end added more butter as well as the capers and a lemon juice. I took it off the heat and covered it to keep warm.

As I was doing all this, I was also making couscous. I made the instant one from Trader Joe’s.  When the fish was ready, I plated it as so.

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It was sooo good! Nick loved it and raved about how it looked so gourmet. Tasted gourmet too. Fancy I tell ya! It was fast, we ate, and then I finally got on the couch. Perfect!

Do you have any quick recipes that’s a winner with the family?

Chicken Wings

Dark meat. I love dark meat. And when it comes to chicken, my favorite dark meat on chickens are the wings. I don’t know. I feel like the closer it is to the bone, the more flavorful it is. And I’m also the type that doesn’t mind working to get to the food. Like clams that are still their shells in a linguine, or eating crab meat that’s still in the crab. I just love it!

One day, to surprise me, Nick came home with chicken wings.  Uncooked chicken wings.

Nick: Hey babe! I have a surprise for you!

He gave me the plastic bag he was holding and then I looked inside. I saw some uncooked chicken wings.

Me: Uh…ok. Chicken wings.

Nick: But I thought you loved chicken wings.

Me: Yeah! The cooked ones!

Nick: Well they’re you’re favorite. I was grocery shopping and I thought I’d get them for you.

Tanya: Ohhhhkayyyy.

Nick: Come on love, I thought you’d like it.

Tanya: I do but a good surprise too is that when I get food, I don’t have to cook it.

Nick: I’m sorry love. I just thought you’d like it.

Tanya: I do like it. It’s just… it’s just that it’s the first time someone has given me uncooked food as a surprise. That’s all.

Nick: Ok. Next time I’ll remember to bring home cooked chicken wings.

I guess this is what makes my husband charming.  HAHA!  Yes it’s sweet that he bought me chicken wings but I think he forgot the part about who’s going to end up cooking it.  Which happened to be me of course and I was happy I did.

I got the recipe from allrecipes.com and adjusted it by adding 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to balance out the flavors. I wanted something easy to make so I used that recipe.

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Establishing Shot

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Medium Shot

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Close Up

It turned out so good, Nick ate half of what I baked in one sitting.  His surprise ended up to be a good surprise for the two of us.

Noodle Doodle

You’ll see that there will be more and more posts about food and eventually recipes.  For now, I’m just going to take photos and tell you what I’ve been cooking and eating.  Nick’s been pretty happy with all the cooking that’s been happening in this house.  Especially if it’s not him that’s doing it.  He gets to study and get fed at the same time.  That was my life back when I lived at my parents, I guess that’s just a dream now.  The good part is, Nick let’s me buy the ingredients I want, despite how challenging it is to find it.  Like the dende oil that I bought for my Moqueca de Peixe (Photo NOT by me) that I made last Saturday.  I assumed that oil will be available at the Brazilian store up in the U-District but when Nick got there, the cafe/store was closed. So he tried 5 other places and failed. I eventually got it from Latin Merchant at Pike Place Market.  I cooked the stew for Nick’s family and unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera to the island.  So I didn’t have a step by step photo process on how I made it. Next time.. I promise….next time.   But to comment on how good the Moqueca was… let’s just say, “Don’t be afraid of palm oil, because you don’t know how amazing it makes a dish soooo good!”

Here’s to showing you all that I made up for my previous noodle post.  That was really stupid of me to post that entry because it looked pretty disgusting and I know I have an option to delete it but I guess I wanted to show you all the improvements that I’ve made.

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Noodle Craving No. 2

One of these days, I’ll take my noodle craving on another level and really make some ramen from scratch. Boiling some pork bones for hours on end.  We’ll see when i’ll get there but for now, I’ll be playing with my new dutch oven first. 🙂