February 28, 2008

My Sweet Loaf

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I've been busy baking the last 2 weeks, the baked goods I post in my baking photo blog without the recipes, just the photos. The photo blog is for a future project with a friend and I'm not sure how long we'll keep it or how it will develop. Yesterday I made a sweet dough that I adapted from the March 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine which is also adapted from the recipe of French master baker Richard Bertinet. The dough is difficult to handle because it is very very sticky and it requires 3 risings. I followed the recipe to a T and the result is a very light and flavorful bread which is surprisingly not very sweet at all. I'm not sure though if I'll make it again because it took me 12 minutes for the dough to come together and took a total of over 5 hours from start to finish. I prefer using the machine to knead bread because it's faster and my arms don't get tired. Maybe if the time comes when I have the need to knead, feeling masochistic, or maybe mad and want to slap someone but can't, I'll prepare sweet dough using this method again.:-)
In case anybody is interested you can watch the video of Bertinet preparing the dough here.

I made one loaf using half of the dough and the other half into pockets filled with bucayo which are already almost gone. Bucayo, mint, orange..mmm

Sweet Dough With Orange And Mint
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons mint-infused whole milk*
1 packet active dry yeast
1 pound 2 ounces bread flour
½ stick unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 T cointreau or 1 tsp orange extract
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
  • Stir yeast in flour in a large bowl. Rub in butter. Stir in sugar and salt. Fold in milk and eggs with a flexible plastic bowl scraper, rotating bowl, until the liquid is absorbed and a wet sticky dough forms. Scrape dough out onto an unfloured surface. Dough will be very sticky but don't be tempted to add flour. By working the dough through the process of repeatedly stretching and folding into itself, trapping air, the dough will become cohesive and supple.
  • Slide your finger underneath both sides of the dough with your thumbs on top. Lift dough up (to about chest level) with your thumbs toward you, letting dough hang slightly. In a continuous motion, swing dough down, slapping bottom of dough onto the surface, then stretch dough up and back over itself in an arc to trap in air. Repeat lifting, slapping, and stretching, scraping surface with flat side of bowl scraper as needed, until dough is supple, cohesive, and starts to bounce slightly off surface without sticking, about 8 minutes to 12 minutes.
  • Transfer dough into a lightly floured surface. Form into a ball by folding each edge, in turn, into a center of dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating ball as you go. Turn ball over and transfer to a lightly floured bowl, then cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.Stir zest and liqueur together. Gently release dough from bowl with scraper onto a lightly floured surface, then flatten slightly and spread orange mixture. Fold dough in half several times, then work, slapping and stretching as described above until zest mixture is incorporated. Form into a ball and transfer into a lightly floured bowl, cover with kitchen towel. Let rise again in a draft-free place at warm room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Gently release dough from bowl with scraper onto a lightly floured surface, do not punch down. Divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten with heel of your hand into a rectangle, 8 x 6 inches. Fold a long edge into center and press seam down with heel of your hand. Fold opposite edge over to meet in center, press seam down with heel of your hand. Fold in half along seam, pressing edges to seal. Repeat with the other ball. Put, seam down, on a lightly buttered large baking sheet. Brush tops of loaves with egg and let stand a few minutes until egg feels dry. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until almost double and springy, about 1½ hours.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush tops of loaves again with egg. Holding a pair of scissors at a 45 degree angle, make snips along top in a line down center of each loaf. Transfer to oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until dark golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
*To make mint-infused milk, bring 1 C plus 2 T whole milk and 1 bunch mint to a simmer in a saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Strain through a sieve and return to saucepan, discard mint. Reheat to 130 degrees before using.

with mint butter

February 24, 2008

Almond BucaJoy Is Lasang Pinoy

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bucayo squares, almond bucajoy, bucayo

I have always wanted to make dark chocolate coated Almond Joy candies at home and when I learned that the current Lasang Pinoy theme is coconut I immediately thought now is the perfect time to make them. The event is being hosted by Kai of bucaio and the name gave me the idea of filling the candies with bucayo instead of plain white coconuts. The candies are so delicious, I can eat them all day. I kept popping one in my mouth while photographing them. And for an interesting added flavor I toasted the shredded coconut in a 400 degree oven until it has turned dark brown and burnt at the top. This is called burnt coconut which I read about in Amy Besa's cookbook Memories of Philippine Kitchens. She writes "one of the most exciting discoveries of Filipino cooking techniques happened in Tiaong, Quezon" when she visited the potter/artist UGO BIGYAN who showed her how to prepare burnt coconut. He returns the freshly grated coconut back into the shell/husk and places a live coal on top to burn the coconut. The milk extracted from the burnt coconut gives a smoky barbecue flavor to any dish, dessert, or dipping sauce. I might try that in the summer and will make his suggestion of adding a little grated green mango and chiles before extracting the milk for a slightly tart, smoky flavor with a little bit of spice.
I made a second recipe of bucayo with plain grated coconut which is so good as pan de sal filling or to spread on toasts. Although the plain and burnt coconut bucayos are equally delicious, the burnt coconut is simply superb when paired with dark chocolate, they complement each other very well.

Almond BucaJoy

2 cups grated fresh coconut
2 cups packed dark brown sugar or 1 pair panocha
juice/water of 1 buco (young coconut), reserve 1 tablespoon
meat of 1 buco, cut into 1-inch strings
2 tablespoons cornstarch
toasted whole almonds
dark chocolate chips
  • Put the sugar and buco water in a medium non-stick sauce pan and boil on medium-high heat, uncovered, until sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the grated coconut and cook for 20 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with the reserved buco water and stir in thoroughly. Add the buco meat, stir cook until coconuts are completely coated with syrup. Continue to cook while stirring until very thick, about 10 -15 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off, transfer mixture into a shallow container and let cool for 10 minutes. Line an 8-inch square pan with plastic film. Transfer bucayo into the pan. Cover with another piece of film, press the mixture to compact evenly. Freeze for 1 hour. Remove from freezer and cut into 1-inch squares. Put one almond on top of each square, press slightly. Dip in tempered chocolate and let set on the counter.

bucayo squares for dessert or for snacking

Check out these coconut dishes and desserts from my archives:
Bicol Express
Maryland/Virginia Blue Crab
Coconut Leche Flan With Caramelized Macapuno
Guinatan Halo halo

February 20, 2008

5 Random Facts - A Meme

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I got tagged by Dhanggit for a 5 random facts about me meme. It took me longer to come up with 5 things since I just did the 7 weird things less than a month ago.
  1. Believe it or not, I hated HomeEc in High School specially cooking and sewing. I did not help my Mom nor did I show any interest in cooking while growing up. I volunteered to do household chores, shopping at the market, etc. but begged not to help in the kitchen. In college I learned to fry stuff, cook rice and other food because I had to. Most of the food I know how to cook now I learned mostly from cookbooks, magazines, and some from both my mother and mother-in-law. For someone who was averse to cooking for more than half of her life, I never thought I would enjoy cooking and baking as much as I do now.
  2. I don't have a single picture of myself as a baby. My mother probably destroyed them or did not allow anyone to photograph me. And I know why, when I was about a month old my maternal grandmother declared that I was the ugliest baby ever. When I was in HS my Inana (grandma in Sariaya, Quezon) described to me what I looked like at 1 or 2 months old: bald, neckless, fat lips, cheeks drooping and almost resting on my chest similar to, say, a bulldog, and to add to the unprettiness my Mom dressed me in bright red clothes which to my grandma was a no-no and I totally agreed with her. She was not being mean, she was just trying to emphasize her amazement that I was transformed from being an ugly duckling or bulldog into a movie star beaut, just kidding about the movie star, heheh.
  3. I went to sing on TV once in HS in a noon-time variety show: sing, dance, skit, games, etc. Every day a singing group from various High Schools in the Philippines was invited to perform and they were cheered on by 2 busfuls of their classmates. I remember we were dressed like sailors, white blouse and skirt trimmed with navy blue collar. Don't ask me what year, it was many many many moons ago.
  4. To continue being baduy, which roughly translates to unfashionable or for the masses, I once had a blind date with that comedian Jimmy Santos. I was living in Cebu and he was a student and player for the Jose Rizal College basketball team. My best friend at the time was dating another player, Norbie Rivera. When their team came to Cebu for college tournament games Norbie arranged the blind date. To my dismay the guy was too tall, thin, extremely awkward, very shy, and mumbled...all the time. My friend and I were annoyed with her boyfriend for playing a joke on me. When he became a TV personality/comedian after his pro basketball stint I couldn't believe he was the same ungainly guy my friend and I endlessly made fun of as soon as we got home. BTW, he was and still is not qualified as a hottie, faaar from it.:D
  5. I don't think reading about me being a neat *and control* freak will be interesting so I decided to make a treat for you instead: Calamansi and kumquat chocolate filled turon (fried lumpia). Enjoy!
Calamansi Chocolate Turon

Calamansi And Kumquat Chocolate Turon
2 calamansi
3 kumquats
8 ounces dark or milk chocolate, finely chopped
½ C heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 T cointreau, optional
1 T soft butter
Filipino lumpia wrapper (do not substitute with the Chinese egg roll wrapper)
grapeseed or canola oil for frying
  1. Place chocolate in a food processor or blender.
  2. Remove seeds from calamansi and kumquats and reserve juices. Slice the rinds.
  3. In a small sauce pan, mix cream, juices, rinds, and salt. Heat mixture until bubbling at the sides.
  4. Pour into the chocolate in blender and leave for 2 minutes. Blend on medium until smooth and glossy. Add egg yolk and liquor, if using, until incorporated. Blend in soft butter.
  5. Line an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with plastic film. Pour chocolate mixture and let cool.
  6. When cooled put in freezer for 20 minutes. Remove from freezer, remove plastic film and cut crosswise in half. Slice into 36 pieces, about 2 x ½ inches.
  7. Wrap in small pieces of lumpia wrapper and freeze for 10 minutes.
  8. Heat oil and fry until golden brown. Serve immediately.
I'm passing this meme over to marvin, g_mirage, caninecologne, Ruy or Liv, and raissa. Thanks dhanggit for making me reminisce once again.

February 15, 2008

Bicol Express

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I wrote the draft for this dish/post the second week of January and forgot about it. I have several drafts that I fail to go back to for posting. I recently cleared all my posts in draft but kept this one so I'm posting it rather late.

Bicol Express is one of the simplest but yummy Filipino dishes you could make. The dish, named after the train that goes to the province of Bicol where they like their dishes super spicy, was invented by the owner of The Grove restaurant in the Philippines. I had visited their Makati branch countless of times and loved their buffet lunch (see photo below), and Bicol Express is one of my favorites along with guinataang kuhol (snails in coconut cream ). The chiles usually used in this recipe are the long thin light green medium hot ones. I used a combination of green, orange, and yellow and included 1 red for color. I made it with lots of sauce, almost soupy which is so good poured, not drizzled, over steamed rice. I also prefer Bicol Express with very little pork, you can add more if you want it meaty.

Bicol Express
¼ pound pork shoulder, sliced thin and julienned
1 tablespoon grapeseed or light olive oil
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
2 tablespoons shrimp bagoong
3 cups sliced or julienned green long chiles
3 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil, add and stir fry pork for 5 minutes. Add garlic and onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp paste and coconut milk, cook for 1 minute before adding the chiles. Taste and add salt if needed. Turn heat down to medium low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. If you want the dish drier, simmer until sauce is very thick and the oil separates from the cream. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

The photo below from one of my Filipino cookbooks is a small portion of The Grove restaurant's buffet table array. This was taken most probably in 1976, I'm not sure if the retaurant still exists and if it is I can't be sure if it still offers this lunch buffet.

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