December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


Have A Happy (And Sweet) New Year!

Fig Charlotte Shooters, Pistachio Sans Rival Cake
Leche Quemada, Spanish Soft Turron and Italian Torrone

Our New Year's Eve 2009 menu is heavy on appetizers and desserts and very little meat.


  • Rye And Pumpernickel Squares: Shrimps and Fried Capers, Black Beluga Lentils With Chives and White Cheese, Shirred Eggs with Caviar
  • Crostini: Sobrasada and Shaved Manchego, Mayonnaise and Shaved Cucumbers
  • Marinated Olives
  • Marinated Bocconcini
Main Course
  • Broccoli Rabe Tossed In Herbed Oil
  • Peppercorn Coated Beef Tenderloin
  • Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

  • Pistachio Sans Rival
  • Fig Charlotte Shooters
  • Leche Quemada
  • Italian Torrones And Spanish Turron
  • Calamansi Cupcakes
  • Oranges in Red Wine
  • Grapes
  • White Sangria
  • Café Brûlot

December 28, 2008

Flan de Naranja

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Have you ever had a baked custard (flan) without milk? Well, I haven't until last week when I made 2 kinds for Christmas dinner, one with the usual fresh whole milk and a second one with clementine orange juice. We bought a large carton of Spanish clementines that are not very sweet, some are slightly bitter. I didn't want to throw them away so I have been juicing them and I peeled, sectioned, and marinated a few pieces in red wine. I will slice and cook the remaining pieces in sugar syrup to garnish cakes. The orange custard is surprisingly very good. Although it is not as creamy and smooth as the milk flan, I love that it is very light, refreshing, and citrus-y. Those who are lactose-intolerant will love this milkless custard. I encourage you to bake one recipe and find out for yourself just how yummy it is.

The recipe is adapted from my cookbook THE FOOD OF SPAIN AND PORTUGAL by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz.

Flan de Naranja
½ to ¾ cup sugar for caramel
6 whole eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 cup fresh clementine or navel orange juice, strained
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
6 small ramekins or 1 large flan mold (llanera)
  • In a stainless steel skillet, heat the sugar over low heat until golden in color and caramelized. Pour equally among the ramekins. Put ramekins into baking pans with sides that are 2 inches high. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine eggs and sugar and beat with a fork until smooth. Add the orange juice and mix until well combined. Strain using a fine mesh into another bowl preferably with spout and handle. Stir in orange zest. Pour into the prepared ramekins. Fill the baking pans with hot water halfway up the sides of ramekins.
  • Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until set. Flan will be slightly wiggly, it will firm up when cooled. Cool for 30 minutes on a rack. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

December 27, 2008

Vegetable Paella

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One of the dishes I cooked for Christmas is the very yummy Vegetable Paella, the recipe adapted from the cookbook MADE IN SPAIN by the Spanish chef José Andrés whose restaurants are among the highest-rated and more popular here in the Washington D.C. area, most notably Jaleo and the minibar inside Cafe Atlantico. I purchased MADE IN SPAIN, the companion cookbook to his PBS cooking show, a few days before Christmas and bookmarked the Vegetarian Paella right away. I will probably try to cook most of the dishes in this cookbook which look really delicious and seem easy enough to prepare at home. I also love the photography and layout of the book which has one recipe all on one page and the photo on the facing page. It also gives helpful resources for Spanish ingredients and acceptable substitutions if necessary.

Prepare the sofrito early in the day or a day or 2 ahead.

10 ripe plum tomatoes
1½ cups Spanish extra virgin olive oil
4 small Spanish onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
3 bay leaves
  • Slice the tomatoes in half. Place a grater over a mixing bowl. Rub the cut surface of the tomatoes over the grater until all the flesh is grated. Discard the skins. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onions, sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 45 minutes. You want the onions to caramelize, if they get too dark, add ½ teaspoon of water to keep them from burning. Stir in the tomato puree, the pimenton, and the bay leaves and cook for another 20 minutes over medium heat. You'll know the sofrito is ready when the tomato has broken down and deepened in color and the oil has separated from the sauce. Discard the bay leaves. Makes 3 cups of sauce.
slow cooked Catalan tomato and onion sauce

Vegetable Paella
¼ cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil
8 baby yellow squash, halved lengthwise
1 cup half-inch eggplant cubes
3 cups cauliflower florets
¼ pound fresh wild mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ripe plum tomatoes
¼ cup sofrito
1 cup dry white wine
pinch of saffron
3 cups filtered water
1 cup Spanish bomba rice or medium-grain rice
2 ounces fresh or frozen green peas
sea salt to taste, about 1½ teaspoons
2 ounces piquillo peppers, cut into ½ inch strips
  • Heat the oil in a 13-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the squash and brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Add the eggplant and cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the plum tomatoes and the sofrito and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the white wine and let it reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
  • Crumble the saffron into the pan and pour in the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the rice and peas until well combined. Reduce the heat to medium high, season to taste with salt, and cook for 4 minutes. Do not stir the rice again, as this can cause it to cook unevenly.
  • After 4 minutes, reduce the heat to low, lay the pepper strips on top of the paella, and cook for another 7 minutes. Remove the paella from the heat, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

delicious vegetable paella, the perfect rice dish to go with a meat-rich Christmas dinner of baked ham and Chicken Relleno (roast boneless chicken filled with highly seasoned ground pork)

December 22, 2008

I'm Dreaming Of A Filipino Christmas...

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...just like the ones I used to know [as a child]....

Where the streets and houses are decorated with brightly lit multi-colored parols (lanterns)....
And children gather every night to sing both Western and Filipino carols from house to house....

Where for 9 consecutive days from December 16 of each year, right before dawn, people go to hear mass and enjoy native snacks and hot tea sold outside the church....

SIMBANG GABI image courtesy of

On Christmas eve people go to midnight mass to celebrate Christ's birth, have either an elaborate or simple meal with their families at home....

And on Christmas Day children wear their brand spanking new clothes, shoes, and/or purses to visit and give respect to their grandparents, relatives, and godparents who in turn give them gifts and new never-used crisp peso bills....

Pagmamano image courtesy of Wacom-Asia Community

Where Christmas has always been and still is [I hope] a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Maligayang Pasko
Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad
Joyeux Noë
More on Filipino Christmas traditions here.

December 17, 2008

Sweet Potato Rolls

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Sweet potatoes are a new favorite in my house. The past month we have had simply roasted, sprinkled with a little flaked sea salt and topped with créme fraîche, in challah, French fried, and recently in dinner rolls. We just love this root crop that makes everything taste milky sweet. The dinner rolls are super soft and delicious hot with butter or filled with cheese or meat spread. I baked another batch today for my daughter's office Christmas party and will make them again for Christmas and maybe another recipe with ube (purple yam) powder as well.

Sweet Potato Rolls
1 packet instant yeast
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk or whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
extra flour for dusting, optional
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix 1 cup flour and yeast, add egg and mashed sweet potatoes and mix on low for 1 minute.
  • In a saucepan heat buttermilk, sugar, salt, and butter. Stir until butter is melted and temperature of mixture reaches 120°F. Pour milk mixture into the mashed sweet potato mixture. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup of the flour and beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Remove paddle attachment and replace with dough hook. Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, brush top of dough with oil , cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Remove dough from bowl and transfer onto a clean surface. Knead dough lightly to remove air bubbles. Cut into 18 pieces and shape into ovals or rounds. Place on silpat or lightly greased sheet pan 1 inch apart, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double in bulk, about 40 minutes.
  • Dust tops of rolls with flour, if desired. Bake rolls in a preheated 400°F oven for approximately 20 minutes.


I'm sending this over to Joelen's Culinary Adventures Tasty Tools Event for December, 2008: Baking Sheets

December 14, 2008

And On The Tree All The Ornaments Glow...

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The National Christmas Tree in Washington D.C., a live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce on the Ellipse, the grassy area near the White House. It is surrounded by 56 smaller decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia.

and Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple in Kensington, MD
live Nativity scene

The title of this post is a line from Christmastime, a song from Aimee Mann's Christmas CD, One More Drifter In the Snow.

December 12, 2008

Chicken Adobo Tostado

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After reading about THE ADOBO BOOK over at Marvin's, I was convinced and finally got my copy. I was hesitant in buying this book when I first read it in Market Manila's blog a few years back because of its author. I purchased two of Reynaldo Alejandro's cookbooks, I kept one (taking up much needed space in my cookbook cabinet) and the better of the two I gave to a friend who does not cook very often. I checked and some insane person is selling it for a ridiculous price of $324.95, and another for the more reasonable but still waaay too expensive $34.95. This book costs $5.00 in the Philippines and if you have relatives or friends coming to visit, you can ask them to buy it for you. It is thin and small and won't occupy much space in their luggage. The recipes are from some well-known Filipinos (at least to me they are), a few from the author himself, and some from the relatives of the other author who belongs to a family of restaurant owners in the Philippines. After reading and cooking a few recipes, I can say it is very good because it has some recipes that my own mother had prepared which rarely get mentioned in any other Filipino cookbooks. I give this cookbook a two-thumbs up regardless of the absence of photographs.

One of the recipes that I cooked is Maverick's Adobo Tostado because it is very similar to one of the adobo recipes I make, with wine vinegar or sherry and then deep fried. The recipe is from Marivic Rufino Buenaventura whom I met and worked with briefly at the Philippine Airlines ticketing office over 30 years ago. I was in that office for only two weeks when she was hired answering telephone inquiries. I did not know who she was until she approached me and asked if I have heard rumors about her (I had not at the time). She confided in me that she felt the women in the office were gossiping about her, talking amongst themselves in front of her in their dialect (Cebuano) followed by giggling. I later learned what the rumors were about which followed her wherever she was assigned that went round and round the 2 years she worked at the airline. I did not know her that well because she left after 2 weeks but I do believe that she was and still is a very nice soft-spoken gracious person, and her adobo recipe is delicious. I'm not sure how she got the nickname maverick, though.

I made chicken adobo adapted from her recipe adding ¼ cup of cider vinegar because her recipe has only a cup of wine vinegar and I prefer my adobo a little bit more sour. It also does not specify the cooking time, you have to eyeball and cook it by instinct, how much sauce you want, taste it and adjust accordingly.

Maverick's Adobo Tostado
1 cup olive oil
3 heads garlic, crushed and finely minced
1 kilo pork belly, cubed
1 kilo chicken parts
1 cup wine vinegar or leftover white wine
¼ cup Kikkoman soy sauce
1 - 2 bay leaves
rock salt, to taste
1 tablespoon freshly ground peppercorn
corn oil for deep frying
a bit of Tabasco
  • Fry 2 heads of garlic in olive oil until brown. Set aside garlic.
  • Sauté pork, add chicken. Continue to cook till brown.
  • Add wine vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, wine, salt, peppercorn, and the fried garlic. Simmer for hours on low fire. When cooked, drain chicken and pork. Keep sauce separate.
  • Heat oil, add the remaining garlic and deep fry chicken and pork cubes until crispy. Drain and serve in a large platter. Serve sauce in a separate bowl.
Note: the Tabasco does not appear in the recipe. I guess you can sprinkle the cooked adobo before or after frying or maybe add a few drops to the sauce.

December 7, 2008

Sniff Sniff

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the stinky lunch

One lunch we had last week made quite a stink, literally. After having too much turkey, we were ready to move on. I decided to make a light meal of white lasagna and paired it with the leftover uncooked Brussels sprouts. Bad.Idea. The aged Romano cheese in the baked lasagna and the notorious sprouts gave off a combination of an odor so strong that I had to burn scented candles and spray the whole house with Oust in between bites. Pardon me for sounding crude but my daughter dubbed the food combo foot-and-a$$, hahaha.

A lot of websites give advice on how to prevent the unpleasant odor by not over-boiling them. They suggest roasting or pan frying which I did with half of the sprouts. We didn't smell anything then, or maybe the roasted turkey masked the odor of the sprouts. This time I steamed them in a microwave bag which helped retain their bright green color but I suspect was the reason for the smell.

Stinky aside, I loved the lasagna and the steamed, buttered, and salted Brussels sprouts were a revelation, simply delicious! They are sweetish and have just a hint of bitterness which I find strangely appealing. I've had these tiny green stink balls just once almost 20 years ago. I remember them being very pale green, bitter and almost mushy and vowed never to serve them at home. But my daughter asked for them for Thanksgiving this year and I compromised by getting the freshest sprouts. I bought a whole stalk from the grocery which costs about the same as the loose ones. The advantage in buying the whole stalk is there are more of the tiniests (is this a word?) which cook faster and have a sweeter flavor. I am loving this vegetable regardless of the smell.

delicious tiny stink balls

Lasagna Margarita
8 sheets no-cook lasagna, soaked for a few minutes in cold water to soften
16 ounces ricotta cheese, divided into 4 portions
8 ounces farmer's cheese (paneer or queso blanco), diced and divided into 4 portions
2 cups shredded Parmesan or Romano, divided into 4 portions
3 cups white sauce, divided into 5 portions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pat dry the lasagna sheets on kitchen towels.
  • Ladle one portion of the white sauce on the bottom of an 8-inch square pan. Put 2 sheets of lasagna on top of sauce. Ladle another portion of sauce on top of the lasagna and spread evenly. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly. Repeat with the rest of the lasagna, sauce, and cheeses. Bake until bubbly and golden on top.

December 2, 2008

Lasang Pinoy Sundays: Silog

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pink dogsilog

I love this week's theme, silog, shortened combination of the words for Filipino breakfast fare sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg). Any type of silog, which I have previously written about here, is a favorite of Filipinos anywhere in the world they may be. It seems that the silogs have expanded to various meats including hot dogs (Filipinos probably are the only people who eat hot dogs with rice), and dried fish such as danggit and squid. Check out Ces's squidilicious Pusitlog and the rest of the silogs at Ces's blog by clicking on the yellow button. Warning: may cause excessive drooling!:D

runny egg yolk, just the way I like it

November 30, 2008

Go 'Skins

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There are only 5 more games left in the regular football season and I know I'm late to start watching which is well and good because I think American football is one of the most boring sports, second only to baseball. The only way to enjoy football is going to the actual game and have a tailgate party before it starts or have friends over for a 3-hour beer and munchies orgy. Without beer and food, watching football will make everybody fall asleep, or maybe just me.:D

I remember when we first arrived here in Virginia in 1992, we were greeted by tons of Redskins banners, pennants, caps, and tees everywhere, in the hotel where we stayed, McD's, groceries, etc. We were all wondering: what are REDSKINS? We came from Asia (Hong Kong) where we never heard of Redskins or American football. The football we knew was called soccer and the most popular sport in Hong Kong was and still is rugby. We found out that the Redskins won the Super Bowl just the night before and the area was still giddy with the win. When I saw the players's photos on the Washington Post I wondered what's up with the funny helmets and padded shoulders? Since the season was over I had to wait for late August to watch and understand the game that the whole country seemed to be celebrating. And it was to me a bit boring, nothing seemed to be happening for almost an hour and when I looked away for a second, there were large men in tights all piled up on top of each other. What the heck happened? I found out after the referee started peeling them off one by one that someone fumbled. It was odd to see a bunch of butts in tight pants staring back at me.:D

After watching and learning how the game is played and scored, I never watched ever again. And the Redskins has never won another Super Bowl, 17 years is a looong time for them and I believe this year is not good either. It's okay because today, win or lose to NYC Giants, I'll be enjoying some snacks, minus the beer because I don't drink beer. I will have vanilla malted milk, chai, hot spiced apple cider, or hot cocoa with rainbow-colored mini marshmallows and heavy cream, definitely NOT your typical football drink. For snacks: sweet potato fries with sea salt and coconut sauce, mini Pringles, homemade pink hot dogs, and mini sugar butter toasts (biscocho).

Coconut Sauce
1 can coconut milk
2 pieces raw sugar (panocha or gur), broken into pieces
  • In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar melts completely. Turn heat to medium-low and let simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until dark brown, about 30 minutes. The sauce should be pourable.
  • Transfer into a clean jar or serving container. Refrigeration is not necessary.
The coconut sauce which we always have with glutinous rice bundles called suman is fantastic with the salted sweet potato fries. Yummy to the max!

coconut sauce

blue sweet potato fries with sea salt and coconut sauce

suman: boiled glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves

white bread
soft butter or Star margarine
  • Remove the crusts from bread and cut into 4 pieces.
  • Combine equal amount of soft butter and sugar. Spread on both sides of the cut bread. Toast on a rack in a 275 degree oven until crispy. Do not let the toasts brown.
  • Dunk in coffee, chai, or hot chocolate.
very yellow and crunchy sweet bizcocho

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

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Happy Thanksgiving Day!

In addition to our usual Thanksgiving Day menu we will be having Baked Sweet Potatoes topped with sour cream, steamed buttered Brussels sprouts, and Sweet Potato Challah.

Challah which I regularly buy from the grocery bakeshop is one of our favorite sweet breads. For this year's Thanksgiving I wanted sweet potato challah but the store does not make them. I found and adapted this simple recipe. I like that it is has very little butter and just 2 eggs yet very rich tasting and absolutely delicious. The sweet and tart craisins (sweetened dried cranberries) that I added make me want to eat this challah all day long. I guess I won't be buying challah anymore from the store.:)

Sweet Potato And Craisins Challah

1 package instant yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
½ cup warm water, about 110 degrees
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
3 to 3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup mashed sweet potatoes
1-inch piece grated ginger
2 cup Craisins or sultanas
1 egg and ½ tablespoon water for egg wash
  • In a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attached, combine 1½ cups flour and yeast. Add 2 eggs, butter, water, salt, and sugar. Mix on low speed until well combined. Add sweet potato and ginger, mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Stir in more flour, half cup at a time. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl if needed. Remove paddle and replace with dough hook. Knead on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add dried cranberries and knead on low for 1 minute, finish kneading with hands. When the dough is smooth and springy to the touch, shape it into a ball.
  • Transfer the ball into a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat the surface. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  • Remove dough from bowl and transfer into a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly to remove gas and let rest for 2 minutes. Divide in half if you want 2 small loaves (I made one very large loaf). Divide each half into 3 pieces and roll out each piece into a 12 inch long log, making the middle portion thicker, then taper both ends. Pinch together the logs at the tips, braid, then pinch together the other end, tuck the ends under. Repeat with the other dough half.
  • Transfer loaves into a silpat-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost double in bulk.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the remaining egg with water or heavy cream. Brush tops with egg wash. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Transfer into a rack to cool completely.

November 21, 2008

Pumpkin And Squash Recipes For Thanksgiving

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Here are a few pumpkin and squash recipe suggestions for Turkey Day, 3 recipes can be prepared a day ahead and the soufflé an hour before dinner starts.

I have been cooking several kinds of squash these past 3 weeks and whenever I see unfamiliar ones at the farmer's market I couldn't resist buying them. The Hubbard squash which looks like a very large (about 5 pounds) pregnant and pockmarked zucchini has a very mild sweetish flavor and light yellow color. I like that its skin is soft and edible just like zucchini and kabocha. And when I saw the teeny tiny less than half a pound Sweet Dumpling squash I knew I wanted to make it into, what else, dumplings! It is also very mild in taste and color and the recipe I found online is just perfect in its simplicity.

tiny Sweet Dumpling squash and Sugar pumpkin
the quite large Hubbard squash

Sugar Pumpkin Soufflé recipe adapted from here
Kabocha Cupcakes recipe adapted from here
Sweet Dumpling Dumplings recipe adapted from here
Baked Hubbard Squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
20 ounces peeled and thinly sliced Hubbard squash
salt and pepper to taste
grated nutmeg
1½ cups heavy cream
2 medium tart apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
3 ounces goat cheese, diced
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Rub casserole dish with 1 T butter. Place dish on a baking sheet. Cover bottom of dish with a layer of squash, season with salt and pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Repeat with remaining squash and seasoning. Pour heavy cream over all.
  • Bake 30 minutes, remove from oven. Press squash/cream mixture down using heat proof spatula, return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
  • Toss apples with the oil. Cover top of squash with a single layer of apple slices, overlapping slightly, pressing apples gently into cream mixture with a spatula.
  • Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with cheese. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned.
Take your pick, they're all delicious, I promise you!:-)

November 17, 2008

Churros And Hot Chocolate

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tsokolate-eh and churros

One of the eating habits we sorely miss doing back in the Philippines is sitting in a Spanish coffee shop called Dulcinea sipping cups of tsokolate-eh (hot thick chocolate drink) and munching on freshly fried churros. They are best enjoyed when cooked and served by other people. There aren't shops or restaurants here in my area that serve similar churros. We are not fond of the extremely large and airy ones sold in the malls, amusement parks, and at the Costco fast food counter. The only way for us to enjoy the Spanish/Filipino churros we prefer is to make some at home which I am not willing to do very often because I am not a deep fry enthusiast. Deep frying makes the house smell of oil for hours and hours, the odor sticking to furniture, clothing, and hair. Ack!

Once in a while specially during the cold months, I get the munchies for churros and hot chocolate. Two weeks ago I found a packet of chocolate tablets at the Filipino grocery. They are pure cacao and sugar formed into thick 1-inch round tablets that are dropped in a saucepan of milk, water, or a combination and simmered until they are dissolved. The cooked chocolate is then beaten using a wooden beater to create froth. The beater resembles a large honey dipper. The dark chocolate has a very distinct flavor that my daughter says reminds her of champorrado (glutinous rice and chocolate sweet porridge}, a favorite Filipino breakfast. When I suggested I add a few pieces of bittersweet chocolate she refused because she loves the taste of this chocolate on its own.

chocolate tablea from the Philippines


1 cup water
2 teaspoons fruity olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
light olive oil for frying
sugar for sprinkling
equipment: cookie press with large star tip, or pastry bag with large star tip.
  • Heat 2 inches of oil in a medium pan to 400°F.
  • Prepare the dough: Place the sifted flour in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the water, oil, and salt, let come to a boil. Pour hot water mixture into the bowl of flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed. Transfer into the cookie press or pastry bag.
  • Press directly into the hot oil forming a 4-inch loop. Fry until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  • Serve immediately. Don't forget to dip them in the chocolate, extra yummy.
they are a bit pale but so crunchy and yummy

November 14, 2008


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kabocha soup

It's been chilly the past 3 weeks which means time to enjoy plenty of delicious soup for dinner. I have made Matzoh Ball, Kabocha Squash, Chicken Tinola, and Hot & Sour, the recipes I am sharing except for the Matzoh Balls because I prepared it straight out of a box. The soup is really good, we all loved it. I bought some matzoh crackers and will make the balls and soup from scratch and will write about it soon.

Kabocha Squash Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 cups peeled and cubed kabocha
2 to 3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
grated orange zest, optional
crème fraîche* or sour cream
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add garlic, shallot, and ginger. Stir fry until shallot has softened, making sure the mixture does not get brown. Add the kabocha, water, salt, and orange zest, if using. Increase the heat to medium high and let come to a boil. Cover the pan, decrease heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off. Puree the soup in the pan using a stick blender. Or transfer into a blender and puree.
  • Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.
*To make crème fraîche at home: in a clean jar, combine 2 T buttermilk and 1 cup heavy cream, both at room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and leave on the kitchen counter for 24 hours or until thick. Refrigerate immediately. Will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Hot And Sour Soup

This Chinese soup is one of our all-time favorites. It takes very little time to prepare and enjoy. The soup usually has a cup of julienned lean pork which I omitted.

2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup sliced shiitake or baby portabella
½ cup julienned bamboo shoots
¼ teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with ¼ C water
1 cup diced firm silken tofu
1 large egg, beaten
sesame seed oil
snipped scallions
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the stock, soy sauce, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, cornstarch mixture, tofu, and pepper flakes. Boil gently while stirring until the soup becomes clear (cornstarch is completely cooked). Turn the heat off and stir in the beaten egg and a few drops of sesame seed oil. Transfer into a soup tureen.
  • To serve: Sprinkle individual bowls with scallion and sesame oil.
Chicken Tinola

I don't have the exact measurements for this Filipino chicken soup and did not follow any recipes. I made it from what I remember it should have and taste like. My mother's tinola had young capsicum leaves added for color and extra nutrition. I used green beans because that's what I had available when I prepared the soup.

1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
4 cups water
2 tablespoons peeled and sliced fresh ginger
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoon fish extract
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorn
1 small green papaya, peeled and cubed
green leafy vegetable such as baby bokchoy or horseradish tree leaves
  • In a large pot, heat water and chicken and let come to a boil. Skim off the foam and discard, then add ginger, scallions, fish extract, salt, and whole peppercorns. Cover pot and let boil over medium heat for 40 minutes. Add the green papaya, boil for another 5 minutes. Add the green leaf vegetable and cook for another 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

September 15, 2008

Gone Fishin'

I'll be back the second week of November.:-)

Six-Layer Lemon Chiffon Cake

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I will be taking a break from this blog and will be back the second week of November.

Before I go on "vacation" here's a sweet treat for you which I made last Saturday for my daughter's birthday: the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth Six-Layer Chiffon Cake with Cointreau flavored buttercream frosting and served with red-tinted crumbled toffee crunch. The recipe is adapted from a Filipino recipe called Seven-Layer Toffee Crunch Cake (FOOD magazine Special Recipe Collection issue). This is a very easy cake recipe to make and I can assure you it is the best cake I had in over 15 years, the cake literally melts in my mouth.

Seven-Layer Toffee Crunch Cake With Strawberries And Cream
for the lemon chiffon cake
2¼ C sifted cake flour
1½ C sugar
1 T sifted baking powder
1 tsp pure lemon extract
zest of one lemon
1 tsp salt
½ C vegetable oil
¾ C water
5 egg yolks
8 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar

for the toffee crunch
1½ C sugar
¼ C light corn syrup
¼ C water
1 T well sifted baking soda

for the whipped cream
8 ounces cream cheese
2 T orange liqueur
3 C heavy cream, whipped
2/3 C powdered sugar

for garnish
fresh strawberries
  • Make the lemon chiffon cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of four 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 cup of the sugar, lemon extract, lemon zest, salt, oil, water, and egg yolks. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth. Set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat until frothy. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar while continuing to beat on medium speed until stiff but not dry. Fold in 2 cups of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold into the rest of the egg whites until mixed. Divide among the pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until cake tests are done. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. When cool, slice the cakes into halves.
  • Prepare the whipped cream frosting: In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese to soften. Add remaining ingredients and continue to beat until fluffy (I did not make this icing recipe, I used Italian or Swiss meringue buttercream frosting because I can't stand the sandy tongue-feel of powdered sugar).
  • Prepare the toffee crunch: Generously grease an 8-inch square pan with butter. In a thick large saucepan, combine sugar, syrup, and water and heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Clip a thermometer on the side of the pan. Allow to boil on high heat, reduce heat to medium, and cook to 300 degrees. Remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda. Pour into the buttered pan. Allow to set completely before breaking into small pieces with a small knife and fork.
  • To assemble: Secure a cake layer on a serving platter with a little of the frosting. Frost in between layers, the sides, and top of cake. Garnish the sides and top of cake with the toffee crunch pieces. Decorate top of cake with whole strawberries.

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