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April 29, 2009


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Cassava Bibingka
cassava bibingka

I have good news! I just learned that KULINARYA has been available for purchase here in the US. You can order the guidebook and other books by Filipino authors from this Filipino-owned mail order store:

Philippine Expressions Bookshop
2114 Trudie Drive
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-2006
Tel. No (310)514-9139

I was told all the copies were sold out over the weekend but will be available very soon. Email Linda Nietes to reserve your copy.:-)

Meanwhile, enjoy KULINARYA Cassava Bibingka

4 cups grated cassava
1½ cups coconut milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup evaporated milk or fresh whole milk
1 tablespoon soft butter
banana leaves, cut into 4½ inch pieces
twelve 3-inch tartlet molds (or 12-inch round pan)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease banana leaves with soft butter and line molds snugly.
  • Combine cassava, eggs, coconut milk, evaporated milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Spoon mixture into the molds about ¾ full.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set with the center still soft.
  • Prepare the topping while the bibingkas are baking.
3 egg yolks
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups thick coconut milk (cream)

  • Combine the egg yolks, milk, butter, and vanilla extract. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes thick. Add the coconut cream and continue to cook until thick.
  • Spread a thin layer of topping on top of the cakes. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

April 26, 2009

Lasang Pinoy Sundays: Swirls And Twirls

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ube, maple paste
matcha and chocolate, chocolate buns, rye

Swirls and twirls must be two of my favorite words in the English language. How else do I explain my obsession in making swirly bread loaves, buns, and cookies. I seem to be attracted to anything swirly. A few weeks ago I made meringues with swirls. It's very easy to do: Using a small brush, draw three thin lines of paste food dye on the whole length of a disposable icing bag, form the meringues with a large star tip, and you'll have swirly pattern on the cookies. Next time I make these meringues I'll use Filipino flavors such as ube, langka, and buco-pandan. I bet those will taste good.

matcha and lemon meringues

Lasang Pinoy Sundays, a weekly gallery of food photography is hosted by SpiCes.

The Ube Swirl bread recipe is here for those who are interested. :-)

April 24, 2009

Nutella Zebra Cheesecake

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Nutella Swirl Cheesecake
extra yummy with a sliver of hazelnut brittle

Nutella Swirl Cheesecake
less than perfect zebra swirls

I have bookmarked the recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake Swirls in my Filipino recipe collection magazine for 2 years already but was hesitant to make it because the cake is super rich and utterly bad, health wise. The crustless cheesecake recipe by Alice Medrich in Baking With Julia cookbook that has low-fat cottage cheese, Neufchâtel cream cheese, and hazelnut praline paste is a better choice. I adapted her recipe using Nutella and making the zebra swirl effect just like the Filipino recipe. I like that the cheesecake is much lighter and the Nutella is just perfect. I used the hazelnut brittle I made for the original recipe to decorate and enhance the hazelnut flavor of the cheesecake. The zebra effect is not perfect but the cheesecake is very yummy.

Nutella Zebra Cheesecake
2 cups low fat small curd cottage cheese
½ cup sugar, add more to taste
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup Nutella, whipped
hazelnut brittle, optional
  • Drain the cottage cheese for at least 1 hour.
  • Butter sides of an 8-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spoon the drained cottage cheese into the work bowl of a food processor and process for 3 minutes until cheese is silken. Add the soft Neufchâtel cheese along with the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides a couple of times during the process. Don't overdo or you'll have a thin batter.
  • Divide the batter and transfer into measuring cups with pouring spout. Stir in the Nutella in one batter, mixing very well.
  • To create the zebra pattern: Pour half of the Nutella batter into the prepared pan. Then from 1 foot above the pan, slowly pour the white batter into the center of the Nutella batter. Repeat with the batter 3 times, pouring into the center of the pan, lessening the amount of batter with each pouring.
  • Place the pan on a roasting pan, fill roasting pan with hot water halfway up the side of the round pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes. Transfer on a wire rack, loosen cheesecake with a thin knife, and cool completely in the pan. Chill for 24 hours before slicing. Serve with hazelnut brittle if desired.

April 18, 2009


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canonigo and mango: heavenly!

I have never heard or eaten this dessert called Canonigo, the Filipino version of the French dessert ile flottante or oeufs à la neige, and have no clue where in the Philippines the dessert originated. The Spanish word canonigo means parish priest and so I am guessing the dessert as the name implies is a recipe from a priest (not improbable, Father Leo comes to mind), the cook in a priest's household, or a Filipino family whose name is Canonigo. If anybody knows, please enlighten me, I'll appreciate it.:-)

The Filipino Canonigo is cooked just like leche flan. The meringue is spooned into a bowl coated with caramelized sugar and baked in a bain marie. The baked meringue is then inverted on a platter with the caramel on top, then sliced into portions and served "floating" on custard sauce. The guidebook suggests to serve this delicious light-as-feather and melt-in-your mouth dessert with balls of ripe mango. Heavenly is the only word to describe it.

1½ cups sugar
8 egg whites
8 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or finely grated key lime rind)
ripe fresh mango balls for garnish
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Melt 1 cup sugar in a skillet until golden brown. *Pour caramel into a 12-inch stainless steel bowl, swirl to coat the bowl completely. Set aside.
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar and beat continuously until stiff but not dry. Pour into the prepared bowl.
  • Bake in a bain marie for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and from bain marie and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  • Invert the meringue onto a serving platter, letting the caramelized syrup coat the meringue. Let cool before slicing.
  • Prepare the custard sauce: Beat the egg yolk slightly. In a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and milk, and with a heat-proof spatula, cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  • To serve: spoon some warm custard sauce on a plate, put a slice of meringue in the middle, garnish with mango balls.
baked in small stainless steel bowls

*I baked the canonigo in stainless steel pinch bowls for assembling ingredients. It is not recommended because it is very difficult to coat with caramelized sugar which slides down, stays at the bottom of the bowls, and instantly hardens. Likewise, I don't recommend using a large bowl either. Baking the meringue in a loaf pan is I think more practical and uncomplicated for the home cook. Use just half a cup of sugar for caramel and coat only the bottom of the loaf pan.

This is recipe 3 in my KULINARYA series:
1. Kare-Kare
2. Eggplant Salad

April 14, 2009

Glutinous Rice Snacks

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Macapuno Bilo-bilo
Macapuno Bilo-bilo
betcha can't eat just one of these crispy chewy glutinous rice macapuno balls

Several months ago several readers emailed me asking if I can post the recipes for bilo-bilo, buchi, or bicho. These, I believe are variations of the Filipino snack made with glutinous rice and water or coconut milk formed into tiny balls or flat ovals usually boiled in coconut milk, or steamed, fried or baked. The balls I made today are a combination of several recipes I found online. I don't know what it should be called, I think glutinous rice balls or bilo-bilo are both okay. Or Crispy Chewy Sweeties. BTW, I prefer these tiny snacks without any sauce, except for the plains ones which I like with caramelized sauce flavored with a little soy sauce.

Macapuno Bilo-bilo
1 cup glutinous rice flour
½ cup water
½ cup chopped macapuno
light olive oil for frying
coconut sauce or brown sugar sauce (boil 1 cup brown sugar and ½ cup water until syrupy), optional

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the glutinous rice flour and water until a dough is formed. Adjust water or flour as necessary. Add the macapuno to the dough and mix well.
  • Form dough into 1½ inch balls and place on a platter.
  • Heat half an inch of oil in a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Fry the dough balls a few pieces at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with or without sauce.
  • For simple bilo-bilo, omit macapuno and fry as above. Serve with preferred sauce.
  • Variations: omit macapuno and add chopped sweetened ripe jackfruit or grated young coconut.
  • Sauce variation: caramelize 1 cup white sugar and ½ water, add a few drops of soy sauce.

1 cup boiled and mashed yellow mungbeans
1 cup sugar, or to taste
2 cups glutinous rice flour
¾ cup to 1 cup water
½ cup boiled and mashed taro
light olive oil for frying
  • Combine mungbean and brown sugar. Form into 1-inch balls. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour and ¾ cup water until a stiff dough is formed. Add more water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix in the mashed taro.
  • Form the rice taro dough into golf ball size rounds, flatten a little bit, place a mungbean ball in the middle, gather rice dough together and seal. Flatten to about half inch thick ovals.
  • Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Serve immediately.
  • Variation: fill with a mixture of sugar and toasted sesame seeds.
  • Keep leftover mungbean paste in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Buchi With Sweet Mungbean Paste
eat them while they're hot and puffed

April 12, 2009

Rabo de Toro (Oxtail Stew)

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Rabo de Toro
rabo de toro (Spanish oxtail stew)

My daughter says this dish is rather unusual for Easter Sunday lunch. I told her growing up in the Philippines, my family (excluding my atheist dad) celebrated Easter by going to church, and that's about it. My older sister and I used to join the 2 separate dawn processions to re-enact the meeting of the risen Christ and Mary (His mother, not the other Mary); this is called Salubong (meet and greet). The processions, one led by the statue of the risen Christ and the second by Mary, start out from church going in different directions, they meet on the main street, then back to church for mass, with Christ and Mary together side by side at the front of the now joined procession. Holy Week and Easter when we were children were exclusively about Christ, I'm not sure if this is still being practiced in my hometown of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, though. In several places in the Philippines, Lenten season is a serious religious event, check out Sidney's Salubong photos.

Now, back to food, we had ordinary everyday food on Easter Sundays. We also never had Easter egg hunts nor we associated the Resurrection with the carrot-muncher lagomorphs, not even as a dinner fare. Hmm, maybe next year I'll make Conejo en Salmorejo, a Spanish spicy stew with sauce made of hot chili, wine, vinegar, garlic, and paprika. Sounds delicious! ^__^

Spanish Oxtail Stew
Serves 4
4 pounds oxtail, jointed
flour for dredging
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
beef stock or water
  • Wash oxtail, pat dry with paper towels. Season the flour with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Dredge the oxtail pieces, shaking to remove excess.
  • In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and brown oxtail on all sides. Lift out and transfer into a Dutch oven or deep casserole.
  • Discard the fat in the skillet and wipe with paper towel. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and saute the onions until soft, add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add to the casserole with half of the carrots, celery, bay leaf, and thyme. Pour in the wine and enough stock or water to barely cover the oxtail. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 hours or until oxtail is tender. Add the rest of the carrots and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Lift the meat out onto a warmed platter, cover with foil, and leave in a warm oven.
  • Skim as much fat as possible, taste and adjust sesoning. If the sauce is too thin, reduce by boiling uncovered until of desired thickness. Return meat to the casserole, remove bay leaf and thyme, and serve with fingerling potatoes and green beans.

the pesky cottontail wabbit that was plaguing my vegetables last year

Happy Easter peeps!

April 8, 2009

Eggplant Salad

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Eggplant Salad 
eggplant salad with coconut milk dressing

I like the sweetish small Indian eggplants with an unusual name Hybrid Black Chu-Chu. The size of these eggplants, about 3 inches, is perfect for the Filipino eggplant salad recipe from the guidebook KULINARYA. I love the salad's refreshing coconut milk, vinegar, and ginger dressing which goes well with the deep smokey flavor of the stove-charred eggplants. The simple eggplant salad I usually make has grated fresh ginger, salt, and chopped tomatoes which is also very good but I'm liking this KULINARYA version better because of the dressing, sweet red onions, and crunchy sweet green and red bell peppers. Simply delicious spring or summer salad.

 Eggplant Salad
adapted from KULINARYA
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 cup diced sweet red bell pepper
1 cup diced sweet green bell pepper 1 green finger chili, thinly sliced
10 small Indian eggplants (or 6 Asian eggplants)
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
coconut milk vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine ½ cup thick coconut milk, 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger, ¼ teaspoon finely minced seeded green finger chili, 3 tablespoons white cane vinegar, and salt to taste.
  • Pierce surface of eggplants with the tip of a paring knife. Roast over an open flame until skin is charred all over. Peel off skin under cold running water. Flatten each eggplant with a fork. If using long-ish Asian eggplants, cut into 3-inch pieces. Season with salt.
  • Lay one piece of eggplant on a plate, top with 1 slice each of tomato and onion ring, sprinkle with red and green bell peppers, spring onions, and chili. Top with another piece of flattened eggplant, decorate with a few bell peppers, chili, and spring onions. Repeat with the rest of the eggplants.
  • Drizzle with coconut milk dressing. Serve at room temperature or chilled, if preferred.
Eggplant Salad
slightly sweet and tart eggplant salad, specially good with any fried dish

Eggplant Salad is the second entry in my KULINARYA recipe series.

April 5, 2009

Lasang Pinoy Sundays: MELTed Bliss

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Grilled Cheese And Ham Sandwich
Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur

One of the simplest but satisfying treats is grilled cheese sandwich. All you need are 2 slices of bread, a little butter, plenty of cheese, and a hot skillet to cook the sandwich until the cheese has melted. The French version is the Croque Monsieur with added ham in the filling, the Croque Madame has a fried egg on top. This is a rather heavy and filling sandwich, perfect for brunch or lunch.

Lasang Pinoy Sundays, hosted by SpiCes, is a weekly gallery of food photography. Melted Bliss is this week's theme.

Croque Madame: brioche slices smeared with Dijon mustard, filled with sliced Black Forest ham, sliced Swiss cheese, then topped with grated Swiss and Parmesan cheese, and a fried egg

A few of my MELTed Bliss favorites:

Cheesy Ciabatta
seasoned parmesan and mozzarella on ciabatta

apple slices, grated Manchego cheese, and fig preserves
on whole wheat bread

Ensaimada Breakfast
ensaimada topped with grated queso de bola

April 1, 2009

Tourte Milanese

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Tourte Milanese
Tourte Milanese

I have seen on PBS more than 4 times the episode of Baking With Julia with chef Michel Richard making Tourte Milanese. The recipe is in the companion cookbook with the same title which I regularly borrow from the library. *I should probably get my own copy already but my cookbook cupboard cannot take anymore cookbooks*

I adapted the recipe by using half of the eggs for the omelets. I made the puff pastry from scratch but to cut the preparation time, store-bought puff pastry is perfectly fine. I don't think it will make any difference in flavor because the pie filling alone is super delicious. The tourte is good warm or at room temperature. I won't mind making this superb pie again and again.

Tourte Milanese adapted from the cookbook Baking With Julia
1 pound puff pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound fresh spinach (blanched, chopped, and drained very well)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 large roasted red bell peppers
4 extra large eggs (or 6 large)
2 teaspoons chopped chives
2 teaspoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
½ pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese
½ pound thinly sliced ham
soft butter to grease pan
1 beaten egg for egg wash
  • Grease an 8-inch spring form pan with soft butter. Roll out ¾ of the puff pastry ¼ inch thick and line bottom and sides of pan leaving a 1-inch overhang. Roll out the remaining pastry into ¼ inch thick and cut out 8-inch circle. Transfer into a plate. Keep both pastries refrigerated while preparing the filling.
  • Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add spinach and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat, set aside
  • Prepare omelets: lightly beat 2 eggs, add half of the herbs and salt to taste. In an 8-inch skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and coat bottom of skillet evenly. Pour the egg mixture and stir briefly. As eggs start to set, lift edges so liquid can run under. When eggs are completely set but still moist, transfer omelet onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs and herbs.
  • Remove the lined pan from the refrigerator.
  • Layer ingredients in following order: 1 omelet, half of the spinach, half of cheese, half of ham, all of the red bell peppers. Repeat layering in reverse order using the remaining ingredients.
  • Remove the 8-inch pastry from refrigerator and place over omelet. Seal well to pastry lining by pinching together with fingers. With tip of knife, draw desired number of slices directly on the pastry. Make a small hole in the center of the pastry. Brush all over with beaten egg. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Position rack in lower third of oven, preheat to 350 degrees F.
  • Brush pastry one more time with beaten egg. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 1 ½ hours. Cool for 30 minutes, release from pan. Slice and serve warm.
Watch the PBS episode of the chef making the puff pastry and Tourte Milanese here.

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