Dads Cook Good Food

For dads who enjoy cooking for their families

Archive for the tag “vegetables”

Let’s eat what we reaped!


Time does fly when you’re having sun…er, fun! We’re moving towards the end of summer and for us, the end of summer means that my daughter’s small garden is now teeming with nature’s bounty. Since she was five, she has looked forward to this time of the year when she would usually harvest her vegetables. I can only guess that  she gets a kick out of pulling the carrots, picking the cherry tomatoes or plucking the basil leaves.

veggie4   veggie1

But more than the excitement, it is the annual ritual of sowing the seeds during spring and harvesting the fruits of her labour during summer that has taught her so many virtues. For example, she had this realization that the food that she eats entails a lot of hard work. She appeared to have gained some sense of responsibility by consciously watering her plants daily and occasionally checking for weeds. She learned to be more patient and caring (she read stories to them almost every day!); realizing that growing food takes time.


And when I cooked our beef stew, she also knew that the delicious stew had her share when we added her fresh basil, tomatoes and carrots! Indeed, food preparation and cooking can sometimes be a family affair and teach our kids life’s important lessons!


Harvest Beef Stew
(Adapted from Crock-pot: The Original Slow Cooker)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ pounds of beef for stew
Fresh cherry and roma tomatoes (or 32 ounces of canned or stewed tomatoes)
10 pcs of baby carrots
3 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
8-10 pieces of fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
¼ cup all-purpose flour (optional)
½ warm water (optional)

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Brown stew meat on all sides. Drain excess fat.

2. Placed brown meat and remaining ingredients in CROCK-POT slow cooker. Mix well. Cover, cook on HIGH 6 to 7 hours.

3. Before serving, thicken gravy, if desired. Combine flour and warm water in small bowl stirring well until lumps are gone. Add mixture to liquid in CROCK-POT slow cooker; mix well. Cook 10 to 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove and discard bay leaves before serving.


*I usually serve the stew without the gravy but my wife cooks her own gravy and adds this to the cooked stew. Her ingredients include 2 tablespoons of melted butter then add 1 tablespoon of flour. Whisk and add some of the broth from the stew. Season with Lea-Perrins Worcestershire sauce then add these to the rest of the stew and mix.


Cooking a healthier and delicious ASIAN BEEF STEW

A-ha! You might say that this dish can be found in most Chinese restaurants so why bother? Is there something different about this recipe? Our tips may not exactly be new but we thought it’s worth mentioning that preparation and procedure affects the nutrients and taste of food. Now that’s something any parent should be concerned about! 😀

For example, using the Crock-Pot for cooking spare ribs and beef shank makes the task easier (washing the beef, popping in all the ingredients and then getting a good night’s sleep 🙂 !) but has its trade-offs, too. We’re referring to the scum that oozes out of the beef during the slow cooking process which may be difficult to remove in a Crock-Pot. Scum is blood that comes from the beef and we insist that for this dish, the scum must be removed. Not doing so will produce an after taste akin to an uncooked fish (malansa in Tagalog). As well, the blood and fat that comes with the beef is not healthy, too, as it adds up to unhealthy cholesterol (Yeah, we know that red meat is unhealthy, too but reducing the “red” in the meat helps reduce cholesterol! 😀 ). So our proposal is before cooking the beef in the Crock-Pot, boil it first for about 15-20 minutes (optional: you may add salt and pepper) to remove the scum and excess fat to get a cleaner taste and a healthier dish.

Another issue is cooking the broccoli. Although somewhat basic and somehow prolongs the cooking time (!), blanching the broccoli and using an ice bath makes a whole lot of difference.  We learned that even if the broccoli is removed from boiling water, the cooking process continues. Putting it in an ice bath arrests this process quickly, locks in the nutrients and gives the broccoli the crunch that you crave for.

Finally, less is best! Lessening the salt in the dish (dissolving oyster sauce in water, removing salt from preparing the broth), trimming the excess fat from the beef and limiting the amount of cornstarch help reduce the unwanted cholesterol.

Enjoy eating and keep on cooking! 😀


1 ½ pounds of beef shank (bone in) and 1 ½ pounds of spare ribs

2 pieces of beef bouillon dissolved in a 1 ½ cup of water

½ cup oyster sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 head of fresh broccoli florets, stalks chopped

Sesame seeds, toasted


  1. Wash beef and cut up into bite size pieces.  Place them in a pot and fill with water enough to cover the beef. Cook over MEDIUM HIGH heat for 15-20 minutes.

2. Once the broth boils, reduce to a simmer and remove the scum from the broth.  Once the broth is clear, drain and set aside for future use.

3. Place partially cooked beef in the Crock- Pot and pour the beef bouillon and ½ cup oyster sauce. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours.

4. Mix cornstarch and 2-3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid in a small bowl.  Add to cooked beef, stirring well until the sauce  thickens.

5.  In a separate pot, boil water on HIGH. Blanch the broccoli florets for 2-3 minutes then put them in an ice bath immediately.

6. Drain and mix the broccoli with the beef, tossing it gently. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steam rice.

* Recipe partially adapted from Crock-Pot: The Original Slow Cooker (2011).

Oh My Gulay! Dad’s Pinakbet and Fiddlehead Omelette

Parents usually find it challenging to convince their kids to eat their veggies. My memory seems not to serve me right since I do not recall how my own parents convinced me to eat vegetables; like ampalaya or bittermelon. I would think that seeing them enjoying what they were eating  made me try it out until I developed a liking for it. This is why my wife and I are somehow relieved that our kids eat veggies and are audacious enough to try out new ones.

The two recipes I am sharing in today’s blog were adapted then modified from existing recipes. They’re easy and simple to prepare  but the ingredients may be a bit difficult to get because some are seasonal (fiddleheads) while others grow in specific weather conditions (yard beans, squash). If you live in North America, you may find some of these ingredients in Asian supermarkets; otherwise, a substitute may be your best bet in getting the texture and flavour of the dish (e.g. Italian eggplant for a Chinese eggplant). However, fiddleheads (Ostrich fern) are native to North America but are only available during spring. A good substitute for this is the pako, which can be found all-year-round in tropical countries like Malaysia and the Philippines. I remember seeing wild and edible pako and mushrooms near an outhouse once!  :-/

My older kid enjoyed eating the fiddleheads omelette which, she said, tasted like asparagus while the pinakbet was a hit! Enjoy!



1/2 cup fiddleheads

2 eggs

3 tbsp. fresh milk

5 tbsp. butter

3 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste


1. Wash fiddleheads in running water then cut the hard stalks and brown covering.

2. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat then saute garlic for 3-5 minutes.

3. Add fiddleheads for 3-5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Place sauteed fiddleheads in a container.

4. Beat eggs in a bowl, add milk and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Melt remaining butter in the same skillet but over medium heat. Pour beaten eggs and cook until mixture in spread evenly.

6. Add fiddleheads to the omelette then fold uncovered half part. Continue cooking for 2 minutes and serve. If you wish to include grated cheese, you may do so.

(Recipe adapted from The Canadian Living)


10-12 pcs. of yard-long beans

2 pcs. eggplant

1 pc. butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2 pcs. tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1-2 tomatoed, chopped

Pork cracklings (chicharon), crushed

1 liter water for blanching

1/4 cup cooking oil

3 tbsp. fish paste (bagoong)


1. Boil water with a bit of salt. Blanch squash for 5 minutes then set aside. Do the same with the other veggies for about 1 minute.

2. Immediately cool in an ice bath and set aside. This is the secret for keeping the veggies crisp.

3. Heat pan, add oil, saute garlic until golden brown and onions until translucent.

4. Add tomatoes and the fish paste (bagoong) and simmer for 3 minutes.

5. Add all vegetables, cover with the lid and shake the veggies. Be careful not to shake too hard.

6. Add pork cracklings and toss the veggies before serving. Serve with rice!

+ These two veggies,  Ampalaya and sigarilyas (winged bean) , may also be added.

Adapted from Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine

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