October 30, 2006

Aplets & Cotlets

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I have been going frequently to Costco to see if they have Aplets & Cotlets which they usually have at this time of the year. After 2 weeks it seems there won't be any so I ordered 1 box of Aplets & Cotlets and 1 box of Fruit Delights from their website. I don't understand why these candies are not available in stores. While waiting, I tried making my own using one of the recipes available online. 2 batches were palpak (disasters), the first was snotty in texture, yuck, and the second had a strong cornstarch feel on the tongue, blech. I might rethink the title of my post I can do that! because I can't do this. But searching online I found another recipe that sounds promising and will try making again tomorrow. Now that the costume is finished I have time to do other things. As for the Aplets I got a call from the seller that delivery will be delayed by at least 2 more days because of some shipping snafu, whatever. I want my Aplets & Cotlets now!

October 25, 2006

Lechon Kawali (Fried Pork Belly) and Snow Pea Shoots

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I was going to make Pinakbet (vegetable medley) with Bagnet (fried pork belly) that I got from my cookbook Flavors of the Philippines by Glenda Barreto of Via Mare restaurants in Manila. I got this cookbook as a 2001 Christmas gift. It is a very beautiful, clear, direct and precise cookbook showcasing the best recipes of different regions in the Philippines. The photographs done by Japanese American Neal Oshima are fantastic.

The vegetable medley is not the one I grew up eating, we have a different version in my hometown. After deep frying, the pork looked delicious I ended up chopping and serving half of it as Lechon Kawali (pork belly roast/fried in a wok) and reserved half for the pinakbet that I will make this week. This lechon kawali is eaten with either Mang Tomas sauce or vinegar, soy sauce and garlic dip, I had both. I also cooked these fine looking veggies snow pea shoots I spotted at the Korean grocery. They are very tender young leaves that I just washed thoroughly then steamed in a little water and 1/4 tsp salt until just wilted and still a little crisp.

I like the simplicity of just adding a little calamansi juice or lemon juice to this side dish. It does not need garlic, onion or some meat flavorings, I'm really loving it more than spinach or Swiss chard, this is the perfect veggies to serve with the fat laden pork.

Buco Pandan Ice Cream

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Move over coffee mangosteen ice cream! I have a new favorite ice cream flavor, Buco Pandan (young coconut and pandan leaves extract). It is sooo yummy, why didn't I make this sooner. I used frozen young coconut strips and its water, then added buco pandan flavor that comes in a small bottle. I really like the pistachio green hue. This flavor is a huge favorite in Manila using it in everything from fruit salads (a combination of young coconut strips, pandan flavored gelatin cubes, sugar and cream, ooh I'll make this next) to candies, polvoron, barquillos (filled wafer sticks), hopia (Chinese Filipino snacks made with flaky pastry filled with sweet mung bean paste) and buche (mochi).

October 20, 2006

Pancit Bihon and Atis

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We had an authentic Filipino Pinoy dinner tonight: rice noodles and the fruit atis for dessert. These are thin rice sticks sauteed with garlic and onions, soy sauce, boiled pork, carrots, snow peas, and shredded cabbage. It is eaten with calamansi juice (tiny Filipino limes). I found frozen atis, a relative of cherimoya, at the Korean grocery. The consistency of the fruit is altered as expected but tastes the same nonetheless. Fresh is of course the best but I haven't had these in over 15 years, I couldn't resist buying them. I'll make ice cream using 2 of these fruits, yum.

October 16, 2006

Chichiria (Snacks)

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Last Saturday my daughter and I brought some of her things to the townhouse. We used my car for the trunk space. She drives a 2 door mustang which has a fairly large trunk but not tall enough for bulky items. She asked me to help her with the heavy items so I went with her. On the way back she asked me to show her the Philasia Filipino grocery which is halfway between our houses. I ended up buying $20.00 worth of chichiria and sweets. Hoo, that's expensive, 1 can of dalandan (Philippine orange with vivid green rind and vivid orange pulp) soda is $1 each but I haven't had dalandan in over 25 years, and it was worth it.

Dalandan photo courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/santos/. We opened a bag of adobo flavor Boy Bawang (garlic) cornicks (crispy corn kernels) while sipping our dalandan soda and almost finished the whole bag, yum, yum, yum. I declare this Boy Bawang the best munchies ever! Other chichiria we bought in addition to Boy Bawang cornicks: Potato rings, Boy chili corn, Prima toast (tiny toasted bread with lots of butter and sugar) and Jacobina biscuits. The sweets: rice paper wrapped turrones de casuy (cashew nuts), buco pandan polvorones, Ovalteenies (yep, the orange wrapped sweets are candied ovaltines), and tamarind candies. One of our favorite sweets that's already in the pantry is ChocNut, a chocolate and peanut candy.

October 5, 2006

Thai Chicken Masaman Curry

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I never liked Indian food, I find it too strong that even the desserts seem to taste of curry. I went to an Indian restaurant once in Manila and almost barfed. The spices and the smell were overwhelming and I never stepped in another Indian restaurant again. However, here in the US, I went to a Pakistani fast food of sorts like a turo turo (point point) and surprisingly loved the food. It has Indian taste but somehow different or maybe my palate was already changing then and I started liking Indian and Pakistani cuisine. I even bought garam as well as chana masala to add to vegetarian chickpeas stew and regularly make it now. But the one I really love is the Thai masaman curry with coconut milk. It has Indian influence but distinctly Thai, it is much more to my liking. I made chicken with yukon gold potatoes and added egg halves to the finished dish and it is fantastic. I used the ready made canned masaman curry soup, added boneless skinless fat trimmed chicken thighs, simmered for 40 minutes then added the potaoes and simmered for another 20 minutes. It can easily be made full vegetarian by substituting seitan and fried tofu for the chicken. My daughter suggested to use this masaman curry with the chickpeas stew. I ate so much I feel like my tummy is bursting. Now I need some Lindt dark chocolate truffles for dessert. Mmmm.

October 2, 2006

Filipino Kakanin (Snacks)

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The Filipino word kakanin comes from kanin (rice), it also means to eat, hence kakanin. Kakanin are typically made of various forms (whole grain, powdered, soaked in water then ground) of regular rice and glutinous or sticky rice usually combined with coconut milk and sugar, some with salt. They are baked, boiled, and steamed, almost always using banana leaves to line pans and to wrap small bundles called suman. There is a variety of suman names and preparations depending on the region but the nationally known and eaten all over the Philippines is the suman sa lihiya (with lye). It is wrapped in banana leaves and boiled in pairs for 40 minutes and served with muscovado sugar and coconut milk sauce/syrup. A very versatile rice dish is the champorado, it is sweet simmered in water, sugar, a pinch of salt and cocoa powder. It is a breakfast food for most Filipinos but I eat it any time of the day. Champorado is eaten just like any cereals, with milk. There is a restaurant in Manila that serves a tweaked champorado using white chocolate instead of cocoa powder. I made both and served it in one bowl, eliminating the need to add milk to the dark chocolate champorado, they go well together. I call it champorado yin yang.

I also made both white and ube (purple yam) puto - sweet steamed rice muffins, and the Visayan moron (what a strange name), first photo, chocolate and white twists made with both regular and glutinous rice, half has cocoa powder, the other half has chopped roasted peanuts. I never had moron before and read about it in several Filipino blogs. I got the recipe from the The Little Kakanin Book by Gene Gonzalez of Cafe Ysabel in Manila. The preparation was simple and I had all the ingredients, let's just say it will never be a favorite, I still prefer the ones I ate all my life, the one with lye, although I don't put lye in my suman. Hot white and purple yam puto with lots of butter, I'll have them everyday, if possible, yummy.

Bibingka, a baked rice flour cake is a national favorite during Christmas season but is now consumed any day and anytime of the year in restaurants. My favorite is topped with salted eggs and sliced white cheese.
For puto recipes click here

There are many more kakanin that I still have to make and will post them soon if I am able to make them successfully: palitaw, pichi-pichi, piaya, guinatan halo-halo, sapin-sapin, cuchinta, mache (similar to mochi)...I'm getting a little ambitious here.

Suman sa Moron

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