August 31, 2010

Ube Flan

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Ube Flan

If you are an ube (purple yam) fanatic like myself, you'll love it in flan. It makes a deliciously smooth and delightful dessert specially with a few pieces of slightly tart fruits like blueberries or strawberries. The recipe is a basic ube flan but you can adjust the amount of eggs without major alteration to the consistency of the flan.

Ube Flan
½ cup sugar for caramel
1 ½ cups ube jam
1 cup water
5 eggs, well beaten
1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • Caramelize the sugar and pour into 4 or 5 ramekins or a llanera mold.
  • In a large bowl, slowly add water into the jam and mix until mixture is smooth and has no visible lumps of ube jam. Add the beaten eggs and milk and mix well. Strain into the prepared ramekins or mold.
  • Steam in rapidly boiling water or bake in a bain marie at 325°F oven for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight before unmolding.

Ube Flan

August 27, 2010

Food Friday: Jackfruit

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Fresh jackfruit grown in Florida, in portions or the whole fruit, is now available in Asian grocery stores in my area. They are as good as the ones from Asia but the color is not as deep yellow maybe because the fruits are picked a little early.

Jackfruit is a favorite of mine. I cook them in sugar syrup then add the sweet langka in halo-halo, ice cream, candies, sapin-sapin, guinatan, and of course in saba banana turon which I'll make this weekend. I also boil the seeds with a little sea salt until they are very soft. They're so good for snacking.

guinatan halo-halo

August 20, 2010

Food Friday: Spaghetti with Meatballs

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Spaghetti with Meatballs

food friday chiclet

This is my favorite spaghetti, with garlicky marinara sauce topped with meatballs and freshly grated Romano or Parmesan. Very yummy and comforting.

Italian Meatballs
1½ pounds ground beef
½ pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 eggs
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1½ teaspoons sea salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup water
  • In a large glass bowl, mix everything together, it should be moist. Fry a teaspoon and adjust seasoning. Form into balls, from teeny to ginormous ones and bake in a 375°F oven until lightly browned. Continue cooking in a simmering pan of marinara sauce for 20 to 30 minutes.

August 17, 2010

Flapjacks and Hobnobs

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McVitie's cookies and digestives are my long time favorites British stuff. I usually get them from World Market whenever they are available. A few weeks ago I bought a package with 3 different types of biscuits and one of them is the highly addictive crunchy Hobnobs which according to the package are made with rolled oats, whole wheat flour, margarine, brown sugar, golden syrup, and baking soda. I looked for a recipe online and most have exactly the same ingredients as the package, with a few different variations in the preparation. Having made the digestives and Jaffa cakes once before I thought why not bake some.

The Hobnobs ingredients, except for whole wheat flour, remind me of the British oatmeal bars called Flapjacks which I read about in the bon appétit magazine several months ago. I had to search for it which means reading the table of contents of a few issues and found it in March. The recipe which the author says is similar to Rice Krispies Treats is unbelievably simple to make yet delivers a satisfyingly delicious caramelly oatmeal bars that are chewy in the middle and crispy at the edges. They are addicting just like the Hobnobs.

It's a good thing Lyle golden syrup from the UK is widely available [in almost all grocery stores] where I live. This essential ingredient for both flapjacks and hobnobs is a very very thick syrup and although the ingredient indicated on the label says it's cane sugar syrup, I can taste a hint of salt which I really like btw, and I end up licking my fingers and the spoon I used. But I might be mistaken about the salt. Anyway, look for them at your grocery store's baking section near the sugars and syrups.

by Molly Wizenberg (bon appétit magazine)
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
½ cup packed golden brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
2 1/3 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant or old-fashioned)
pinch of salt
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8 x 8 x 2 inch metal baking pan.
  • Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until butter melts, sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add oats and salt, stir until coated. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread out in even layer.
  • Bake until top is golden (edges will be darker), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 5 minutes. Cut into 4 squares, cut each into 4 triangles (mixture will be soft). Cool completely in pan before serving.



2 cups quick-cooking oats
1¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ teaspoon baking soda
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Pulse the oats in a food processor a few times to break them up into a coarse consistency but do not process too much. In a large bowl, whisk the oats, flours, baking powder, and salt until thoroughly combined.
  • In a medium saucepan, place butter and syrup and heat gently while stirring until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and stir in baking soda; then add to the dry ingredient mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.
  • Using a small scoop, measure out round pieces and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet 3 inches apart. Shape the pieces into balls and with a fork or a small glass, flatten into ¼-inch thick rounds, they will spread while baking. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack. Optional: Melt some milk chocolate and spread on top. Let the chocolate set completely before serving. I myself prefer these cookies plain.

August 11, 2010

Pretzels and Pretzel Buns

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I have been reading about store-bought and homemade pretzel dough shaped into burger and hot dog buns. I have always wanted to make pretzels that are chewy and have thin dark crusts and thought the recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman's BREAD would be a good one to try.

I followed the recipe as written but I didn't poach the dough in lye and water solution because I don't have lye. I boiled the pieces in baking soda and water instead and they came out wonderfully dark brown all over, are soft and chewy and so delicious. The pretzels sprinkled with sea salt are so yummy simply dipped in yellow mustard and the meaty sturdy hot dog buns are perfect with the jalapeno cheese German sausages that a friend gave me.

The bread takes 2 days to make because of the 12 - 16 hour pre-ferment which I usually prepare at about 6PM and let it sit on the kitchen counter overnight. It's ready for mixing the next morning. If you love pretzels I highly recommend this easy recipe and the book, BREAD by Jeffrey Hamelman.

adapted from BREAD by Jeffrey Hamelman

Pretzels and Pretzel Buns

pâte fermentée
1 cup/4.2 ounces bread flour
3/8 cup/2.7 ounces water, room temperature
¾ teaspoon/0.08 ounce salt
pinch of instant yeast

final dough
3 7/8 cups/1 pound 1 ounce bread flour
1¼ cups/10 ounces water
½ tablespoon/0.3 ounce salt
¾ teaspoon/0.08 ounce instant yeast
2 tablespoons/1.1 ounce soft butter
2 teaspoons/0.02 ounce dia static malt powder
all the pre-ferment

poaching liquid
6 cups hot water
¼ cup baking soda

for topping
coarse sea or kosher salt
sesame seeds
  • Prepare the pâte fermentée: Stir the yeast into the water, then mix in the flour and salt until smooth. Cover with plastic film and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at 70°F.
  • Prepare the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add all the final dough ingredients except the pâte fermentée. Mix on the first speed for 3 minutes. As the dough is coming together, add the pâte fermentée in chunks. The dough will be a bit stiff. Increase to second speed and mix for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer into a container, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 1 hour. Transfer the dough on the kitchen counter, flatten slightly into a rectangle and fold one third over to the left and the other third over to the right like a letter. Turn 90 degrees and fold again from right to left then left to right then flip over and return to the container seams side down. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for another hour.
  • Shape the dough: Divide the dough into 3-ounce pieces. Round the pieces for burger buns and roll with your palm. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan 3 inches apart and flatten the dough to less than 1 inch thick. Cover with plastic film. For hot dog rolls, flatten into a rectangle 5 x 3 inch rectangle and roll tightly, using the heel of your hand to seal the seams. Roll into a a 6-inch log. Place on the sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap. To shape the pretzels, roll the pieces into a log. Let the logs relax for a few minutes, covered with plastic. Roll the logs to 16 inch long with the center thicker than the ends. Twist the ends twice and press on the sides or near the bottom. Arrange on the parchment-lined sheet pan 3 inches apart, adjusting the shape. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the plastic and let stand for another 10 minutes.
  • Prepare the water: Heat the water to boiling and add the baking soda. It will bubble. Turn the heat to medium and poach the pieces, 2 at a time, 30 seconds on both sides. Remove with a skimmer and return to the sheet pan, good side up.
  • Score the buns: For the round buns, with a sharp knife score the top with a ¼-inch deep cross; hot dog buns, straight down the middle. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt or seeds and score the bottom, if desired.
  • Bake the buns and rolls: Put the pans in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until buns are dark brown, rotating pans halfway during baking. Enjoy while warm.
German Sausage on a Pretzel Bun
great with beef sausage and Dijon mustard

August 6, 2010


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I have decided to bake my way through Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day at my own pace. There are a little over 30 recipes and I have baked maybe a third when I signed up to be a recipe tester 2 years ago. I will bake all the breads including the ones I already baked and will post the adapted versions as I go along. I highly recommend this baking book for beginner or with a little experience bakers and busy folks as the dough recipes are not very complicated [except for croissants] and are mixed the night before, kept in the refrigerator for 1 up to 4 days and the breads baked at your convenience. This is also not a no-knead bread book; there is minimal kneading with machine or hand, 2 to 3 minutes at the most, which I prefer to the no-knead method because a little kneading makes a huge difference in taste and texture.

To start off this series is one of my top favorites from the book, Croissants. Making croissants is not an easy project. It takes 2 days and there are a number of steps to do but the end result is very rewarding: flaky buttery golden brown crust with delicious pillowy soft elastic layered crumb. After enjoying a few pieces of the croissants specially the ones with chocolate batons, you won't settle for anything less.

adapted from ARTISAN BREADS EVERY DAY by Peter Reinhart

the recipe makes croissants that have flaky buttery crust and soft pillowy somewhat elastic visibly layered crumb

21 oz/595 gm/4 2/3 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour or a combination
0.4 oz/11 gm/2½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 oz/56.5 gm/¼ cup sugar
0.33 oz/9 gm/1 tablespoon instant yeast
7 oz/198 gm/¾ cup + 2 tablespoons cold whole milk
8 oz/227 gm/1 cup cool water
1 oz/28.5 gm/2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
extra flour for dusting

butter block
12 oz/340 gm/1½ cups cold unsalted butter
0.57 oz/16 gm/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

standing mixer
plastic dough scraper
metal pastry scraper
rolling pin

optional ingredients
1 egg for egg wash
3-inch chocolate batons for chocolate croissants
  • Make the dough: With the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add in the milk, water, and butter and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. The dough will look coarse, wet, and shaggy. Adjust with more flour or water if necessary. Continue mixing on the lowest speed for another 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium-high for 15 seconds until the dough begins to smooth out. It will be very soft, supple, and sticky, but not batterlike. Add more flour or water as needed and mix until the dough has formed. It should be soft and pliable and somewhat sticky. Transfer the dough to the kitchen counter dusted with flour and with floured hands, form it into a ball. Place the dough seams side down in a lightly oiled container, cover with plastic film and lid, and immediately refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.
  • Prepare the butter block: Cut the cold butter into ½ inch slices and place in the bowl of a standing mixer. Sprinkle the flour and beat on low with the paddle attachment until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. The butter should still be cold. Using a plastic scraper, transfer the butter mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 6-inch square.
  • Incorporate the butter block into the dough: Have a container of flour nearby. Lightly dust the kitchen counter with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into a 12½ inch by 6½ inch rectangle, about ½-inch thick. Place the butter block on one side of the dough, fold the other half of the dough to completely cover the butter and pinch on all sides to seal in the butter block. You now have three layers: dough, butter, dough.
  • Laminate the dough: With the metal scraper, lift the dough, one side at a time, and toss more flour underneath it. Lightly tap the dough with a rolling pin and working from the center out and then on all four sides, gently roll the dough into a 9 x 16-inch rectangle, dusting under and on top of the dough as needed, always using a metal scraper to prevent tearing and to keep the corners squared. Fold the dough as if folding a letter: fold the right one-third of the dough over to the left, making sure the top and bottom are squared-off and are perfectly aligned with the bottom dough. Fold the left one-third dough to the right the same way. Use the rolling pin to press out any air pockets, then lay it down on a sheet pan lined with the plastic wrap you used for the butter block. Cover loosely with another piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dust the kitchen counter with flour. Transfer the dough back on the counter with the open seam facing away from and the closed side facing you, and gently roll and fold it as before. Return to the plastic-lined pan, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this procedure one more time. You have now completed three turns and created 81 layers of dough and butter.
  • Roll and shape: Transfer the dough back to the flour-dusted counter and gently roll out, from the center to the corners, then out to the sides, until the dough is under ¼ inch thick, about 28 inches wide and 9 inches long, lifting the dough with the metal scraper and dusting the counter underneath with flour to prevent it from sticking and tearing. Remember to always keep the corners neatly squared-off.
  • To make croissants: Using a ruler, make a small notch with the metal scraper at 4-inch intervals along the bottom edge of the dough. Repeat this along the edge of the top of the dough but mark the first at 2 inches from the left and continue measuring at 4-inch intervals from that point. Using a pizza cutter or the metal scraper, cut a line from the left corner of the bottom dough to the first notch of the top dough, then simply connect the marks to cut off the dough triangles. When all the pieces are cut and separated, cut a 1-inch notch into the bottom center of the triangle base. Spread the bottom as wide as the notch will allow to create wing-like flaps. Begin rolling up the dough, gently pulling the top point (nose) as you roll, trying not to squeeze it. It should form in either 5 or 7 "steps". Place the shaped pieces on parchment-lined sheet pans 2 inches apart, with the nose positioned underneath so that it is anchored. Give the end flaps a slight curve and facing in the same direction as the nose is pointing. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2½ to 3 hours or until the croissants look airy and feel hollow. About 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450°F/232°C. Apply egg wash if desired. Place the pans in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375°F/191°C and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until a rich golden brown all over. Allow to cool for 40 minutes before serving.
  • Chocolate Croissants: Use half or the full recipe. Cut the rolled dough into 3½ inch x 6 inch rectangles. Place 2 batons on one short side, roll up, and place on the parchment-lined pans, seam side down, 2 inches apart. Bake as above.

Chocolate Croissant
chocolate croissants

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