March 28, 2008

Jalapeño And Cheese Sausage

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When I'm chatting on the telephone with my friends we somehow always end up talking about food. A friend mentioned that she and her husband visited Austin, TX and brought home 10 pounds of jalapeño sausages from a German sausage shop. She was raving about them that I looked at my Charcuterie book for a similar recipe but couldn't find any using fresh jalapeños. So I adapted the fresh bratwurst recipe from Charcuterie and added sliced fresh jalapeños and cubed aged cheddar cheese. The sausages are so soft, juicy, slightly spicy, and cheeseliciously fantastic! These sausages will also be great on the grill and they're absolutely perfect with truffle oil flavored baked/sauteed red potatoes.

Oggi's Jalapeño and Cheese Bratwurst
3½ pounds pork shoulder, cubed, leave in freezer for half an hour
½ pound pork fat, cubed
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons ginger powder
1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ cup soy protein powder, optional
2 small eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup very cold heavy cream
ice water, if needed
1 cup thinly sliced fresh jalapeño peppers with seeds
2 cups aged white cheddar cheese, diced into ¼ inch cubes
hog casings, softened in warm water for half an hour
  • Mix first 7 ingredients. Grind using a small die into the bowl of a stand mixer atop another bowl of ice water.
  • With paddle attached, add the eggs and mix on low speed. Slowly add heavy cream and increase speed to medium until mixture is sticky. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time if mixture appears too dry and difficult to mix. Add jalapeños and cheese and mix on low until evenly distributed.Heat a small skillet and fry a tsp of the sausage. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stuff casings and twist into 6-inch links.
  • To cook: put 2 T water on a skillet, add 6 links, cover and let simmer on low-medium heat until all the water has evaporated. Uncover, add 1 T light olive oil and fry until golden brown. Freeze uncooked links. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.
Sauteed or Baked Red Potatoes
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ sliced shallots
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tsp salt
dash ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
black truffle flavored extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a deep roasting pan, mix potatoes, shallots, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Bake in a 350 degree oven until potatoes are golden brown. Add parsley and sprinkle with truffle olive oil. Serve immediately.
  3. Or, saute potatoes in olive oil for 4 minutes, add onions, salt, and pepper and continue to stir fry another 5 minutes or until potatoes are soft and golden brown. Add parsley and truffle oil.

March 24, 2008


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top left to right: sagada, Figaro blend (barako and arabica), benguet

bottom left to right: LAVAZZA pure arabica, pure barako

Italian stovetop moka pot

My husband and I did a sort-of taste test of the Philippine coffee beans we recently acquired: sagada, benguet, and barako from Baguio and Figaro barako/arabica blend he brought home from his trip to the Philippines. All of them were brewed using the Italian stovetop moka pot. I wanted to use other coffee makers but I thought it was too much trouble. I don't know if the result would have been different if I had used all 4 coffee makers: moka pot, drip, espresso machine, and Melitta manual coffee basket.

We compared the taste of the sagada, benguet, and the Figaro blend with Italian LAVAZZA espresso beans which is what we have been drinking for the last 18 years or so, with a 2-year break when we couldn't find them in the grocery stores and bought Starbucks espresso/French roast blend whole beans. When LAVAZZA became available again in some grocery stores and online I have not bought nor taken any other beans but lavAzza. Barako has a very unique Filipino taste and should not be compared with anything else. Filipinos who are familiar with barako will know with one sip if it is genuine barako beans which the H says is somewhat "grassy".

If you have relatives coming to visit or if you are visiting the Philippines, I recommend buying whole coffee beans, vacuum seal them immediately, and do not refrigerate but store them in an opaque container and keep them in your luggage to prolong its freshness. Two years ago my father-in-law sent us ground barako beans that he stored in his freezer which is the last place you want to store your coffee, and when they got here the coffee grounds were stale and undrinkable.

pure barako: medium roast which is the norm for barako, medium aroma, very good strong barako taste

ME: I love it!
H: likes it, authentic barako taste

sagada: dark roast arabica, very little aroma, okay taste, slightly acidic

ME: not my favorite, won't recommend them
H: just okay, nothing special

benguet: dark roast arabica, very sweet aroma and flavor

ME: sweet aroma, slightly over-roasted and more bitter than LAVAZZA but I love it, comparable in taste to LAVAZZA arabica/robusta espresso blend, highly recommended
H: detects a cigar-like aroma, likes the flavor

Figaro blend: blend of medium roast barako and dark roast arabica, sweet aroma, strong barako taste and hint of arabica

ME: I do not like barako mixed with other beans
H: likes it because he prefers bitter French roast type beans and doesn't mind barako mixed with other beans

LAVAZZA 100% arabica: espresso roast, strong aroma and sweet strong but smooth taste

I will not replace LAVAZZA with other coffee beans anytime soon but will have benguet and barako beans if they are available.

We are not coffee experts and this is just our honest opinion on the different Philippine coffee beans and taste is always subjective. My only advice is do not purchase coffee from McD[s and any other fast food joints, they sell the most awful coffee. The first time I had them I thought I had the flu or getting sick. What I mean is when your tongue is coated and can't taste anything, something like that and realized I was not getting sick, it's the tasteless coffee from McD's and the hotel we were staying in at the time!:D

March 23, 2008

Iloilo Tortitas

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I have read so much about tortas, a very rich sweet Visayan cakey buns loaded with egg yolks and butter, similar to ensaimada. I have never tasted them before, and when I saw the recipe in the FOOD magazine the hubby brought from the Philippines as one of his pasalubongs I was excited to be able to make them. The smaller buns called tortitas, adapted from the recipe of Mrs. Cosette Montelibano, are from Iloilo. The recipe has yeast as leavening making them bready and should not be confused with the Cebuano tortas which look more like a leche flan/cake combination. The Cebuano tortas have more egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and have baking powder or the coconut sap toddy called tuba as leavening agent. I'll also try to make the Cebuano version without the tuba just to compare them.

I made some flat-ish buns as described below and some I baked in lined cupcake pans. I can't tell if this is what they should look and taste like but I love that they are not overly sweet, they are very soft but not very delicate, they don't get crushed or get out of shape when you bite into them or cut with a knife. Preparing the dough is easy although the rising times are long, two 2-hour risings, but it's worth all the time I spent making them. They are perfect for Easter breakfast with sliced aged edam cheese and barako coffee or hot chocolate.

BTW, the 2 FOOD magazines have loads of yummy cakes and desserts that I am salivating just looking at the photos and will make them ASAP, the 7-layer toffee crunch cake and ube roll are two on the top of my list.:-)

Tortitasadapted from FOOD magazine
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
12 egg yolks
1 cup butter, softened
6 to 7 cups all purpose flour
melted butter for brushing
sugar for dusting.
  • In a small bowl, combine warm water and 2 tsp sugar, sprinkle yeast and whisk to mix. Cover with plastic film and leave in a warm place for 5 - 10 minutes or until bubbly.In a large bowl of stand mixer, mix together sugar, salt, and egg yolks. Add butter and mix until well blended. Add the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. (I finished kneading by hand for 3 minutes).
  • Form dough into a bowl and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic film and leave in a warm place for 2 hours.
  • Remove from bowl, punch down gently and divide into 60 -70 gram portions. Shape into buns and lay on a greased or parchment-lined baking pan. Cover with plastic film or cloth and let rise for another 2 hours or until double in bulk.Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly then brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

this is a very yellow dough

March 18, 2008


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sagada, benguet, and barako coffee beans from Baguio

I love getting pasalubong from the Philippines, who doesn't? It's exciting to open the box to find what goodies are inside. I received one such box from Texas today, many many thanks to my good friends Yoly and Joe L for the pasalubong they got for me on their recent trip to the Philippines. XOXOXO!

a cup of dark roast sagada which I believe is arabica

caycay - a yummy candy from Bohol
peanuty candies that resemble Butterfinger but better because they're less sweet

puto bumbong steamer made of tin or maybe steel

Pasalubong Part 2 (from hubby) tomorrow...

Yoly asked me to rate the coffee beans. I will have a taste test and compare them with my regular coffee beans and will post the result sometime this week.

March 15, 2008

Tokwa't Baboy (Fried Tofu And Boiled Pork)

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tokwa't baboy and lugaw
Blogging makes me want to eat Filipino food that I did not eat frequently while living in Manila. The pork, which is usually ears and some meaty parts, in Tokwa't Baboy I probably ate just once. It's weird that when I chewed on the ear I felt like I was chewing my own ears, much like the way I feel when eating ox tongue, as if I'm chewing my own tongue. But I love fried tofu, one of my favorite food ever, specially with vinegar/soy sauce/garlic dipping sauce. I can eat them everyday without getting tired of them, seriously. A week ago I read about the tofu frites over at White on Rice Couple blog and made them yesterday. I convinced myself to buy a few pig's ears, and I also bought 2 thick strips of pork belly (in case I gag while eating the chopped ears), boiled them for almost 2 hours in water, salt, garlic, whole peppercorns, and bay leaves and ate them with lugaw (congee). My meal was just fantastic! I didn't mind the crunchy ears, they are actually very good with the excellent yummy crrrunchy tofu fries.:D

tofu fries with flaked sea salt

the pork does not look appetizing yet delicious

lugaw (congee) topped with fried shallots and calamansi juice

Lugaw (congee)
1 cup rice
6 cups water
1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
salt, to taste
topping: slivered ginger, fried shallots, sliced green onions, calamansi juice
  • In a Dutch oven, boil rice, ginger, 1 tablespoon sea salt, and water for 2 - 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more salt to taste.
  • Serve with calamansi juice and choice of ginger, fried shallots, or green onions

March 11, 2008

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes


mint chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting
I have been making cupcakes recently. Cupcakes have been the "it" thing since the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes became famous. Many copycat bakeshops have sprouted not just in the USA but everywhere on the planet and I have been reading about them in several food blogs. Recently a very successful bakeshop that only sells cupcakes in Washington, D.C. was featured in the Washington Post which makes me want to open my own bakeshop, if only I can find a rich partner or financier or the courage to start a business. I have baked red velvet cupcakes before which were delicious but require a lot of work and clean-up. The latest I made was chai cupcakes which were just okay, the chai flavor was very faint and the recipe had loads of sugar. Next on my cupcake list is either chocolate or an alcohol drink inspired (margarita, zombie, etc.) but when I found online a really easy chocolate with mint cupcakes I knew right then the zombie cupcakes can wait. The mint chocolate cupcakes are a breeze to make, not excessively sweet, and have a super soft melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I iced them with my favorite buttercream frosting tinted with green food color gel. (Just in time for St. Patrick's Day celebration.) I have already devoured 3 of these delicious cupcakes, 15 more to go.:-)

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
½ cup boiling water
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup grapeseed oil or butter
½ teaspoonvanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely minced mint leaves or ½ tsp mint extract
4 large eggs, separated
1¼ cup sugar
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
for garnish: small mint leaves, chopped roasted pistachio
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line 18 cupcake tins with baking papers.
  • In a heatproof glass cup, add cocoa powder to boiling water, stir until smooth. Add oil or butter, vanilla extract, and mint. Stir until mixture is glossy, set aside to cool. Stir the egg yolk with a fork until smooth, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift together 1 C sugar, the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat egg whites with mixer on high for 1 minute, add 2 tablespoons of the remaining ¼ cupsugar and beat on high for 30 seconds. Slowly add the remaining sugar, beating until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes, set aside. Add the chocolate mixture and egg yolks to the flour mixture. Using a flexible rubber spatula, stir by hand until well combined, scraping bottom well. Add ½ cup of the whipped egg white and stir well to lighten the flour mixture. Gently fold the rest of egg white mixture until the batter is of uniform chocolate color. The batter will be light.
  • Using a small ladle, spoon batter ¾ full. Bake for 15 minutes or until top springs back when touched. Cool in pans until ready to frost.
the softest velvety smooth chocolate cupcake

March 6, 2008

Buco, Pandan, And Sago (Tapioca Balls)

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buco pandan salad with mini sago balls

Over a year ago I had buco pandan salad in a friend's house but I kept forgetting to make one at home. It's similar to the ubiquitous Filipino fruit salad made from canned fruit cocktail, canned cream, and sugar, some recipes add condensed milk which I find too cloyingly sweet. That fruit salad is a dessert that is both beloved by most and perhaps ridiculed by some Filipinos. I grew up eating them at parties, fiestas, or any get-together, and at home. The cherries were so special because there were very few pieces in a can and were divided among us when we were small. I don't know why as children we were attracted to those bright red things.:)

I can't remember the last time I made fruit salad, I normally eat just fresh fruits. Today I had a sudden craving for fruit salad but was not in the mood to drive for a can of fruits, and remembered I have both canned and frozen buco. So I finally made the buco pandan salad which I think is way much better than the canned fruit cocktail and I prefer the combination of buco and pandan flavors anytime anyway which is so much more Filipino, in my opinion. I love this dessert specially with the sago topping.

Buco Pandan Salad
5 pandan leaves, washed very well and snipped into 1 inch pieces
3½ cups water
1 agar bar, shredded
¼ cup sugar, more or less to taste
1 cup water of young coconut
meat of 1 - 2 young coconut, grated
12 ounce can Nestle cream
¼ cup sugar, more or less to taste
½ cup mini sago pearls
  • Cook mini sago pearls in rapidly boiling 4 cups water, add sago pearls and let boil until transparent. Drain and transfer into a bowl of cold water; set aside.
  • Blend water and pandan in a blender. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium saucepan. Add the shredded agar and let stand for 20 minutes. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally until all the agar has melted. Stir in sugar. Strain into an 8-inch square pan. Refrigerate until completely set, about 30 minutes. Cut into 1-inch squares.
  • In a large bowl mix sugar and cream until sugar has melted, add the buco and buco water. Mix in the pandan gelatin squares. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Add 1 tablespoon of cooked sago on top of individual bowls.
I also made buco pandan sago drink which is also very good. To make: in a tall glass mix ¾ cup each buco and pandan water and 1- 2 tablespoons sugar until sugar has completely dissolved. Add ¼ cup cooked mini sago balls. Mix in ½ cup crushed ice.

buco pandan sago drink

March 3, 2008

Kue Kiam (Seafood Sausage)

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Kue Kiam, also spelled quekiam and kekiam, is a Chinese Filipino fish and shrimp sausage with a slightly chewy texture, which I really love, btw. Kue kiam sausages are gently steamed, then sliced, dipped in beaten egg, shallow fried, and served with sweet and sour thinly sliced radish or sweet and sour chili sauce. I have never made kue kiam before but used to buy them from the store or had them at restaurants in Manila. I haven't seen them in Chinese restaurants here in the US. I made my own recipe by combining the kue kiam recipe in my cookbook and a recipe for seafood sausage I found at the Washington Post food section. I poached the sausages then fried the slices just like kue kiam. The ingredients that I omitted from the Filipino cookbook are cornstarch/flour and the pork fat which I substituted with heavy cream. The result is a lighter color and texture, but when fried becomes a teensy bit chewy like a fishball but very tender inside and sooo delicious.

Kue Kiam
8 ounces catfish fillet
8 ounces shelled medium shrimps, deveined
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions, white parts only
1½ teaspoon sea salt
2 egg whites
½ cup heavy cream
saran wrap
1 egg, well beaten
light olive or grapeseed oil for frying
  • Cut fish and shrimps into cubes. In a food processor mix the seafood, salt, and scallions. Process until mixture is smooth and sticky, scrape down sides. Add egg whites and process until mixed. Add heavy cream slowly while pulsing, do not over-process.
  • Cut 3 pieces of saran wrap 8 inches long. Spoon the mixture in a freezer gallon bag and snip an inch off one corner. Form an 8-inch log on one short end of wrap. Or you can simply spoon a third of the mixture near one short end of the wrap, form into a log. Roll using the wrap as a guide, fold ends halfway through and continue rolling up to the end of wrap. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  • In a skillet heat an inch of water to 180 degrees and poach sausages for 5 minutes on each side. Snip one end of the wrap and slip out the sausages. Slice sausages at an angle, set aside.
  • In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 T of oil. Dip sliced sausages in beaten egg and fry until golden brown. Add more oil as needed.
  • Serve with sweet and sour radish. To make: peel one medium daikon radish and cut into 2 inch pieces, shave using a vegetable peeler. Mix with 3 T cider vinegar, 2 T sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Chill one hour before using.
sweet and sour shaved daikon

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