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December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve 2008

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New Year's 2008 Collage

cherry tomatoes, embutido, deep fried adobado Cornish hens
Brazilian cheese rolls, ube kalamay with latik, kuchinta
fried bilo-bilo with coconut sauce, queso de bola and grapes, silvanas

I have decided to continue making round shaped food for this year's New Year's Eve dinner. It's not because I came into loads of cash last year preparing and eating round shaped food, I just think it's fun to make them, and the 2 rounds of number 8 inspired me. Have a Prosperous 2008 to all!

2008 New Year's Eve menu:
  • Tomato Salad With Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Pork And Chicken Embutido
  • Braised Scallops
  • Deep Fried Adobado Cornish Game Hens
  • Brazilian Cheese Puffed Rolls
  • Kuchinta
  • Fried Mungbean-filled Bilo-Bilo In Coconut Cream Sauce
  • Sliced Queso de Bola and Red Seedless Grapes
  • Ube Kalamay
I'll post the photos and recipes of some of the recipes another day.

December 18, 2007

Hang A Shining Star...

This is one of the Filipino Parol (Farol or lantern) made of multi-colored capiz shells that I hang at the windows inside the house. They are very colorful and pretty when lit.


I will be back blogging before or after New Year's day. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Merry Christmas
Maligayang Pasko
Feliz Navidad
Joyeux Noël
Maupay nga Pasko
Fröliche Weihnachten
Mele Kalikimaka
God Jul
Buon Natale
Shinnen omedeto
Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Malipayong Pasko
Glædelig Jul
nga Pascua




December 14, 2007

Christmas Goodies

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Christmas Goodies
top: gingerbread with egg liqueur filling
bottom: marzipan stollen


Christmas season in my house means indulging in cakes, cookies, candies, puto and other Filipino kakanin...we eat them non-stop all season long. In addition to homemade fruitcakes and cookies we buy German Marzipan Stollen and assorted gingerbread/cookies. Every year new products come out and our snacks cabinets are overflowing with these yummy treats. I made gingerbread once or twice but they can't compare with the German gingerbread and cookies which are soft and have that melt-in-your-mouth quality. They are not very sweet and lightly spiced just the way we like them.

Yesterday I baked 3 kinds of cookies adapted from the recipes in last Wednesday's The Washington Post Food Section. These are very good cookies for adults, not for children though, because they are very chocolaty and not overly sweet. I will bake 2 or 3 other cookies next week and another batch of the savory Quinoa Cheese Cookies (Biscuits) which have become our favorite.

I used dark cocoa for this cookie because that's what I have in my pantry. I also did not add the chocolate covered espresso beans because the chocolate is extremely sweet. I added 1 T coarse ground coffee and increased the chocolate chips.

Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies

Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies

2½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground espresso beans (I used lavAzza)
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup cocoa powder (do not use Dutch processed)
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cups semisweet chocolate morsels
8 oz chocolate covered espresso beans
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground espresso beans, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the butter in a bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for several minutes until it is fluffy and lightens a bit in color. Add the sugar and beat until it has the consistency of thick frosting. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition; scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Add the vanilla extract, then reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three or four increments, mixing well after each addition. The dough will be moist and uniformly brown. Stop the mixer and add the chocolate morsels and espresso beans with a spatula, mixing until evenly distributed.
  4. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of the dough on the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes on the middle rack. Let the cookies sit on the sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Initially I was doubtful about quinoa in a cookie and it has no sugar in it. But I love quinoa and cheese and was delighted that the cookie, more like a biscuit, is so delicious. The recipe asks for flakes but grains also may be used. I really love the flakiness, the crunch of the quinoa grains, and the slightly salty and cheesy flavor of these cookies.

Quinoa Cheese Cookies

Quinoa Cheese Cookies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1½ cups grated mild cheddar cheese
1 cup flour
½ cup quinoa flakes or grains
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ to 1 teaspoon water, as needed
  1. Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese in a bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and the cheddar is well distributed.
  2. Sift together the flour, quinoa, baking powder, and salt onto a piece of wax paper. Reduce the mixer speed to low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms. If the mixture is too crumbly, add water as needed. Transfer to a large piece of plastic film and roll to form a compact log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Cut the dough log into ¼ inch thick slices and place flat on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
These cookies remind me of Oreos. They are dark, almost black but without the cloying sweetness of the cream filling. I also love the crunch of the cacao nibs and the burst of flaky sea salt. Definitely for adults only.

Chocolate Shortbread With Cacao Nibs And Sea Salt

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies With Cacao Nibs And Flaked Sea Salt

1 cup flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons cacao nibs
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Combine the cacao nibs and salt in a separate bowl.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl when necessary. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low, add half of the flour mixture, mix well, then add the rest of the flour, mix well. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Stop the motor and fold in the cacao nibs and salt by hand.
  4. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a square ¼ inch thick. Using a knife cut into squares or rectangles and place on the baking sheets 1 inch apart. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate sheets front to back and bake for another 8 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

December 10, 2007

Buco-Pandan Chiffon Cake And Kaya

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Buco-Pandan Chiffon Cake And Kaya
kaya on a slice of Buco-Pandan Chiffon Cake

I was going to make a round pandan chiffon layer cake with coconut milk-egg filling (kaya) but I and my Fil-grocer both ran out of pandan essence. I made a buco-pandan chiffon cake that I baked in a loaf pan, sliced the cake like bread, and smothered the slices with kaya. I have read about kaya at Anton of Our Awesome Planet and Lori of Dessert Comes First blogs. I looked for it online but couldn't find anyone that sells it. Our Asian groceries also don't have many Malaysian or Singaporean stuff. Come to think of it, I have not seen any Malaysian or Singaporean in my area, not that I am an expert in recognizing them. What I'm saying is there are few Asians where I live. I have one Vietnamese and one Indian neighbors but not one Filipino or any other Asian. *I wonder where they're at* That could be a reason why there are very few Malaysian/Singaporean food products available here, or maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

Kaya
homemade kaya

I made the kaya last night which I thought at first was a total waste of time. The mixture curdled regardless of cooking on very low heat and with constant stirring, the result is a yellowish ugly lump, not the caramel colored jam. I advise you NOT to follow the recipe on the link, it's meant for professional kaya makers or people who have the patience to stir it for maybe 5 hours in a double boiler. Anyway, I saved the curdled jam by blending it with a little pandan water. I caramelized 2 T of sugar until it's really brown, added that to the mixture and voila! kaya that's so smooth and caramel colored and so delicious. Now I understand the appeal of this jam, it is practically a spreadable leche flan (eggs, coconut milk, caramelized sugar). And it is the perfect spread to go with the buco-pandan slices. I also had it on toast this morning for breakfast, with a sunny side up egg to complete the Malaysian/Singaporean treat, so yummy and may be addicting. The next time I make kaya I will temper the eggs first. If successful I'll post the complete recipe.

Buco Pandan Chiffon Cake
I love the light mint green color and subtle flavor of this Buco-Pandan Chiffon Cake

Buco-Pandan Chiffon Loaf Cake
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
1½ teaspoon baking powder
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup pandan water*
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon buco-pandan essence
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
  • Sift dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the next 4 ingredients and mix very well, set aside.
  • In a large clean bowl beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until stiff but not dry. Mix ¼ of the egg whites into the flour mixture to lighten. Add the flour mixture into the rest of the egg whites and fold gently. Spoon into a bottom-lined 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Smooth top. Tap gently on the counter to remove large air bubbles.
  • Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until cake test done. Cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.
*To make pandan water, blend 12 well washed and dried pandan leaves with 2 cups water. Strain using coffee filter on a sieve. Refrigerate until ready to use.

December 8, 2007

Tikoy

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Brown Tikoy
dark brown tikoy

Tikoy is a Chinese New Year's staple in the Philippines but in my mother's hometown of Sariaya, Quezon the very dark brown and very sticky tikoy has always been part of the Christmas season spread. Although I also like the white tikoy I prefer the Quezon Province brown tikoy. I like it for breakfast either with coffee, Chai, or jasmine tea.

Dark Brown Tikoy
16 ounces sweet rice flour
1½ cups muscovado or panocha
1/8 tsp salt
2¾ C water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 well beaten egg, optional
butter for frying
  • Mix sweet rice flour, sugar, and salt. Add 2 cups water, mix well. Slowly add the remaining water and vanilla extract. Spray a round baking glass with oil spray. Pour the sweet rice mixture and place on a steamer. Steam on medium heat for 1 - 2 hours. Refrigerate until firm. Slice thinly then fry in hot butter until soft, or dip in beaten egg before frying.
The steaming time is rather long at 2 hours but I did not mind the wait because I was busy putting up the Christmas tree and the lights on the front of my house yesterday while the tikoy was cooking. It was very cold and windy the past 5 days and as of yesterday there was still 3 inches of snow on the ground. It's hard to walk back and forth to drape the light netting on the bushes and small trees, the hem of my jeans getting cold and damp but I got it done. We are ready for Christmas.:-)

Snow

Update: 01/17/2008
White Tikoy
2 ½ cups sweet rice flour
1 ¾ cups water
1 cup sugar
  • Mix all ingredients until smooth. Line a bamboo steamer with cloth. Pour mixture into the lined steamer and steam for 1 - 2 hours, or until set. Cool completely. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate overnight. Slice thinly, then fry in a non-stick skillet with a little butter, or dip in beaten egg before frying.

December 5, 2007

My First Meme

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This is the first time I got tagged for a meme, thanks to Marvin of Burnt Lumpia.:)

What were you cooking/baking 10 years ago?
I'm having a senior moment and can't recall that far back but I know what I did not bake 10 years ago: pan de sal and loaf breads of any kind. I was a lousy bread baker then. I have made very good cookies and cakes but struggled for many years with bread baking and simply gave up.

What were you cooking/baking one year ago?
I picked up bread baking again, this time using the ube pandesal recipe from the Filipino cookbook Memories of Philippine Kitchens and to my utter surprise it turned out great. From then on I got the confidence and started baking other breads with great success, with the help from cookbooks and the web.

Five snacks you enjoy:
  1. Adobo Spanish peanuts with red seedless grapes or sliced pears
  2. Chilled Milkyway chocolate bar
  3. Fuji apples, alone or with sliced Manchego cheese
  4. Barquillos
  5. Triscuits topped with chorizo paté
Five recipes you know by heart:
  1. Chicken and pork adobo
  2. Any sinigang
  3. Fabada
  4. Thai minced chicken with basil
  5. Chinese Ma-Po bean curd
Five culinary luxuries you would indulge in if you were a millionaire:
  1. I will have only one entry: buy an airplane so I could go wherever and whenever I feel like, say, Korean Stuffed Baby Chicken In Broth.
Five dishes you love to cook/bake:
  1. Paella
  2. Pinaupong manok
  3. Any dish with Longaniza and Spanish chorizo
  4. Thai cuisine
  5. Silvanas and Sans Rival Cake
Five dishes you cannot/will not eat:
None, I'll eat anything that is considered food.

Five favorite culinary toys:
  1. Krups The Butcher Shop (for sausage making)
  2. Bamboo steamer
  3. Japanese santoku knives
  4. Soehnle electronic kitchen scale
  5. Microplane zester/grater
Five dishes for your "last meal" menu:
  1. Japanese muskmelon and prosciutto
  2. Sopa de mariscos
  3. Chicken and pork adobo with plenty of steamed rice
  4. Braised baby lobster, Hong Kong style
  5. Marrons glacés and endless cups of Italian espresso (not Starbucks, please!)
Five happy food memories:
  1. My first sip of ice cold Coke when I was 4 years old
  2. When I was little, awaiting the weekend for my Lolo's pasalubong of a bar of chocolate, a small bag of adobo peanuts, and a small box of raisins: the original fruit and nuts chocolate combo
  3. When I was 6, together with my older sister, we peddled bananacues on our street to help out my godmother's family and because we thought it was cool to sell stuff. We got an earful from our Dad but were so happy with the payment of a skewer each of the yummy bananacue.
  4. Munching on the most sour greenest unripe Indian mango halves topped with alamang everyday while walking home from school
  5. I'm not sure if this is considered happy, it is more comedic, really. On my first trip to Singapore with the H, we went to an open air eatery, got our food, went to a table, and then a very thin Indian man in a white dress approached us mumbling something. We waved him away thinking he was a beggar. We realized we did not have drinks, the H went back to the counter to buy Cokes and the man asked why didn't we tell the thin guy in white we wanted drinks when he asked. We were so embarrassed and apologized to the guy. We later learned that begging is illegal in Singapore.
I am passing this meme to Ruy, Dhanggit, and Raissa. They shouldn't feel obligated to participate, though. I'm also inviting anyone who would like to try it, I enjoyed playing this game a lot.:-)

December 3, 2007

Cooking With Pandan

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Pandan

Reading Ruy's blog got me drooling for chicken wrapped in pandan. This is a very popular appetizer which I had countless of times in Thai restaurants but have never cooked it because it seems tedious to prepare. It takes time to wrap the chicken pieces and I am not a deep-fry enthusiast but the finished dish is rewarding in its yumminess. Unbelievably, my 2 Thai cookbooks both don't have a recipe for this dish and searching on the web is frustrating because there are several versions of it. I used the ingredients that I like from 2 recipes and made my own marinade. It is so finger lickin' (and pandan-licking) good and does not need any dipping sauce. All you need is plenty of steamed rice.

Chicken Wrapped In Pandan


Chicken Wrapped In Pandan
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro with roots
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1½ tablespoons fish extract
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon palm or regular sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine
pandan leaves, thawed and well cleaned
peanut or grapeseed oil
  • Mix all ingredients except pandan and oil. Marinate for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Form pandan into little pockets and fill with 1 tablespoon of the marinated chicken, or simply wrap a few pieces of chicken with pandan. Fry in medium hot oil until pandan has turned brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain well and serve immediately.

Chicken Wrapped In Pandan
finger and pandan-licking good

Pandan is used extensively in Asia: Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and I think, India. They all use pandan to flavor sweets and savory dishes. In the Philippines it is used to flavor rice cakes, chiffon cakes, ice cream, gelatin, hopia, polvoron, barquillos, and any sweets you can think of. My mother used to add a leaf in boiling rice for its fragrance and flavor. It also makes the house smell good that you want to dig in as soon as you get inside.

December 2, 2007

2007 Best in Fiction and Non-Fiction Books, Movies, And Music

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Most came out in 2007, a few in the 90s and 80s.

Books
Fiction
ANGELICA Arthur Phillips
THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION Michael Chabon
AFTER DARK Haruki Murakami
THE WATER'S LOVELY Ruth Rendell
MAKING MONEY Terry Pratchett
THE OTHER SIDE OF YOU Salley Vickers
LOVING FRANK Nancy Horan
BANGKOK HAUNTS John Burdett
THE PRESTIGE Christopher Priest

Non-Fiction
THE WILD TREES Richard Preston
ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE Barbara Kingsolver
TRAIL OF FEATHERS Tahir Shah
THE PERFECT SCOOP David Lebovitz
THE ELEMENTS OF COOKING Michael Ruhlman


Movies
THE FOUNTAIN
THE PRESTIGE
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP
THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED
DIVA
FULLTIME KILLER
STRANGER THAN FICTION
KNOCKED UP
ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS

Music
PROG (jazz) The Bad Plus
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE (jazz) Jason Moran
THE DEAFENING TWILIGHT (metal) Zebulon Pike
OCEANA (classical) Osvaldo Golijov -composer
THE FOUNTAIN FILM SOUNDTRACK Clint Mansell - composer
TALK TO LA BOMB (electronica) Brazilian Girls
ONE MORE DRIFTER IN THE SNOW (Christmas songs) Aimee Mann

December 1, 2007

Christmas Movies on DVDs

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3 must-see Christmas movies on DVDs:
  • Raymond Brigg's THE SNOWMAN, a 1982 half hour no dialog animation from the UK about a boy who built a snowman who comes to life. The boy, James, invites the snowman inside the house, shows him around. They go back outside on the yard, ride a motorbike, then they go flying up in the air while the beautiful song WALKING IN THE AIR plays, and join other snowmen at Father Christmas' party. Play the You Tube video of Walking In The Air and you'll fall in love too.

  • A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
A Charlie Brown Christmas>
  • A CHRISTMAS STORY
A Christmas Story

The Top 10 Hilarious Lines and Scenes
  1. You'll shoot your eye out, kid!
  2. Flick's tongue stuck on the frozen flagpole
  3. Ralphie uttering Oh, fuuuuu** in front of his Dad
  4. I triple-dog dare you!
  5. Randy paralyzed by his snowsuit: aurnnm aurnnm (I can't put my arms down)
  6. The yellow-eyed Scotty Farkus affair
  7. You used up all the glue on purpose
  8. Be sure to drink your Ovaltine
  9. Ralphie in the pink bunny suit
  10. Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra

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