Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Desserts in our Noche Buena Table

First of all, let me greet friends and bloghoppers a Merry, Merry Christmas!

Let me share some of the desserts in our Noche Buena table last night. Noche Buena is a time-honored Filipino tradition where members of the family eat together a simple or lavish Christmas Eve feast, whichever way you like it. This happens by midnight, usually after hearing Mass. Gifts are distributed or exchanged, also during this time.

As this is our first Christmas in our new home, we put up our own seven-foot Christmas tree and a twinkling parol (lantern) outside. Our Christmas meal, however, was what I would call the "no sweat" noche buena. I passed on working in the kitchen, with a promise to really get-busy in the New Year. Maybe am still just recovering from a much-needed break from work.

So here it is, the desserts on our table:

Gingerbread house - very pretty! I bought this from S & R thinking it's something the kids would admire, and they did! It's completely edible, but we still have to eat it!

The Christmas Cake - most reputable bakeshops sell this. Ours was from Red Ribbon - white frosting decorated with green and red Christmas trimmings.

Leche Flan - A whole round pan from Goldilock's, with a thick custard. My son, who has a sweet tooth, simply loves this.

Chocolates, Ferrero Chocolates - everybody's favorite.

Note : Except for the Gingerbread House, the Sweetheart sent all of these, via online delivery. He wanted to spare me the hassle of cooking and baking, hehe. Not in photo is the ice cream, chilling out in the ref ;)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lunch boxes will never go out of style: what's for Tuesday?

The Filipinomomblog has launched their lunchbox meme, and I would like to unveil what my twin daughters had for baon this Tuesday. Thin as they are, am thankful that my eight-year old twins are not picky eaters. In fact, I'm training their taste buds this early by tagging them along with me on my food trips. Some of their favorite foods are pizza, tocino, sinigang and dishes with malunggay leaves in them.

Another all-time favorite of theirs is pork and beans. They can subsist on a big can during those times when Mom or the nanny is too lazy to cook. Their main course for the lunch box today is what I would call the "pork and beans" casserole. It's good ol' pork and beans given a tasty twist by adding real chunks of meat and cubed potatoes. How to do this? First, I sauteed pork bits with garlic and onions, added a little water and simmered till it was cooked. Then I poured the can of pork and beans, and seasoned with salt and sugar. After which, I added the cubed potatoes and simmered again till potatoes were cooked.

The other things in the lunch box: rice, mixed veggies, Fuji apple and pineapple juice... good enough for my little daughters with the hearty appetite :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Adobo with Buko Juice

The Adobo Book: Traditional & Jazzed-Up Recipes by Rey Gamboa Alejandro & Nancy Reyes-Lumen is an excellent book on the many variations of our national food. It's interesting how the making of the dish varies by regions and families. Some people have even made their own brilliant inventions with the basic adobo premise.

I'll be trying more recipes from the book, but in the meantime , here's one on pork adobo in buko juice written by Achie Diaz De Rivera. Note that this adobo doesn't use soy sauce. From my own experience, it would be well-advised to season it well. Don't think taste of the juice was recognizable in the final product, though using buko juice is healthy indeed. I would try using pineapple juice too. BUt they'd already call it pork asado in some parts.

How to do:

In a wok, place together one kilo pork spare ribs or belly, minced garlic, 1 tsp. pepper, bay leaf, a tsp. dried oregano and half a nut of the buko juice. Bring to a boil and, without stirring, let simmer over low heat until liquid disappears. Add 1/2 cup oil and toast to golden brown. Scrape the bottom of the wok to loosen the sticking bits and pieces. Remove the excess oil and add the remaining buko juice. Continue cooking until thick gravy is formed.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Highlanders Brown Rice Tea

Don't know if it goes with age, but I've lately turned a convert for anything herbal or "natural." I've tried using Carica shampoo for my hair, papaya soap and also the Zen Zest line - all of which have brought positive results. One good thing I also subscribe to is Highlanders Brown Rice Tea which is made from - you guessed it - a combination of brown rice and ginseng. It claims to be an all-natural beverage adapted from what has been used by ancient Tibetans to fight the cold up in the mountains.

I have to admit I had to resort to drinking this when I worked on shifts and sleeping sometimes proved to be difficult. Wasn't really that comfortable taking melatonin, another over-the-counter sleep-inducing medicine.A cup before bedtime was enough to calm me down (like chamomile), and no getting up to empty the bladder too! The only drawback to this tea is the price, it costs about twenty five pesos per tea bag. Still, that's much cheaper than having your cuppa at Starbucks or any of those stylish chains.

What brown rice tea claims to bring about: (from its official literature)

- better sleep & stress relief
- greater stamina
- reduced night urination
- stimulation of appetite
- improved digestion
- relieves constipation
- better blood circulation
- detoxification
- improved complexion
-regulation of blood pressure
- reduce tummy bulge

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beef Gyudon, Home Version

Beef gyudon is what we usually order in Japanese fastfood chains like Yoshinoya and Rai-rai Ken. But did you know it's easy-peasy to make it at home? Except for the mirin and the sake, most of it is already in your pantry at home. Just remember to order super-thinly sliced beef too from your butcher. In Japan, they usually eat gyudon with beni-shoga) but that can be bought at the Japanese grocery too.

These days, I'll try to make pork gyudon too - I think that would be equally delish.

Recipe below is from local chef Heny Sison (she who's made famous with her fabulous cakes). I happened to have been invited by Abenson to attend her cooking class at her spacious cooking school in Makati. So it was a lazy Sunday afternoon of learning all about Japanese cooking ~ again!

For your big bowl of beef gyudon, you'll need:

500 grams white onions
1 cup white wine, or sake
1/2 cup water
500 grams thinly-sliced beef
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin
4 tbsps. sugar
600 grams cooked rice
pickled ginger or beni shoga, to taste

1. Slice the onions thinly.
2. In a medium-size saucepan, mix sake and water. Bring to a boil. Add the beef slices and simmer for a few minutes. Add 3/4 cup soy sauce, 3/4 cup mirin and 4 tbsps. sugar. Simmer for 3 minutes.
3. Add onions and again simmer until onions are transparent and soft.
4. Prepare hot cooked rice in bowls and add gyudon with the sauce on top. garnish with sweet vinegared ginger.

Baked Fish Fillet with Kesong Puti (Native Philippine White Cheese)

Here's a tried-and-tested fish fillet recipe I got from the Good Housekeeping (Philippines) Cookbook, Volume 4. Cooked this to commemorate Valentine's Day 2008 with the boyfriend..and even though he wasn't here, my officemates loved it. Must have been the cheese. Glad to use kesong puti on this dish, I normally just slather it in my hot pan de sal.

The original recipe called for snapper fillets, but I just used creamy dory since it seems so common in the grocery these days. No problem with that.

You will need:

1/2 kilo fish fillet, trimmed and sliced into four
100 grans kesong puti
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsps. oil
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced

For the Wasabi Cream topping:

1/4 cup wasabi powder
1/4 cup water
1 cup cream 2 tsps. honey

How to Do:

Place fish fillet on a tray and season with pepper. Put kesong puti on top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 530F oven.

Prepare vegetables. In a pan, saute sliced tomatoes and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Make the wasabi cream by dissolving wasabi powder in water. Add cream and honey. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Serve fish with wasabi cream on top and vegetables on the side.

Rating: simple pero effect! :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A pandan kaya recipe, at last!

I love pandan kaya jam, originally from Singapore and Malaysia. Unfortunately, they're not so common in the Philippines as peanut butter or even matamis na bao or coconut jam. That's why I was glad when I attended a cooking event recently, spearheaded by "gourmetician" Chef Lisa Leong. One very funny lady. And some of the recipes she taught was making pandan cake in the recipe cooker and another called MCT Pandan Kaya. MCT is a brand imported from Singapore and is now available in the Tang City chain of restaurants in Manila.

Here's how to make the MCT Pandan Kaya. At least we'll have an idea how kaya is made:

You will need -

5 large eggs
120 g. warm MCT milk (hot water mixed in 1 sachet MCT powder)
1 tbsp. potato starch (mixed into 2 tbsp. pandan water)
130 g. fine sugar
100 g. hot water mixed in 3 tbsp. concentrated pandan stock
3 pandan leaves (knotted)
4 tbsp. COCOS Pandan coconut oil

1. Stir and whip eggs lightly. Add warm MCT milk and cornstarch solution.

2. Heat saucepan, add fine sugar, hot water and pandan stock. Bring to boil until sugar has well dissolved. Add in pandan coconut oil.

3. Remove pan from heat, whisk syrup mixture into MCT egg mixture quickly. Strain through a sieve. Pour pandan egg mixture back into a double boiler pot and continue to stir. Mix for 5 to 6 minutes.

4. Cover and steam over medium low heat for 6 minutes until slightly set. Continue stirring for every 5 minutes until mixture thickens.

5. When kaya is ready, discard the pandan leaves. Bottle kaya in jars and refrigerate.

- Thanks to Team Asia for the recipe

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sweet Baked Tilapia

Sweet Baked Tilapia

Tilapia is my favorite fish, next to the bangus.During a visit to the Legaspi Sunday Market, I chanced upon the stall of Fishda, a start-up company which supplies one of the top barbecue restaurants on my list, Ineng's BBQ. Fishda sells and distributes ready-to-cook tilapia fillets. I immediately grabbed some in order to cook my usual fried tilapia with tomatoes in a different way. It was good that Fishda distributed as well recipe leaflets and I wasted no time doing my own version of the Sweet Baked Tilapia.

This one was so easy to prepare. I just followed the instructions, popped the tilapia in the turbo oven and after a few minutes, out came a dish that's redolent of fish goodness. Long live tilapia!

Sweet Baked Tilapia

4 large tilapia fillets
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. each basil and thyme
1 tbsp. each lemon juice & melted butter
2 tsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450F. Evenly distribute olive oil in the bottom of baking dish and place fillets in it. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the fillets. Bake for 7 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Papaya Lumpia

Here's a tasty alternative to the usual vegetable lumpia or lumpiang togue (bean sprouts.) The ingredients are simple and healthy.. you don't even have to use shrimps! Recipe taken from the DELCA Cookbook: "A Treasury of Plantation Favorites."

Papaya lumpia

You will need the following:

Oil for sauteeing
Minced garlic
Onions, sliced
1/2 cup fried tokwa (tofu), sliced
1/4 cup broth
3 cups shredded green papaya
1/4 cup sweet potato, thinly sliced
lumpia wrappers

Saute garlic and onion. Add tokwa, shredded papaya and sweet potato and allow to cook in broth. When done, set aside mixture and wrap in lumpia wrapper.

Serve with brown sauce if desired:

Combine 1 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup soy sauce. Cook over low heat until thick.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Comfort Soup: Garlic and Cheese Chowder

The recipes we test in the kitchen strictly don't have to be taken from cookbooks. In my case, I try to keep the little leaflets they give away for free inside the fold of magazines and in supermarkets. They were after all tried first in reputable 'test kitchens,' and we never know what gems there may be lurking in the corner.

This recipe for Garlic and Cheese Chowder I found in a leaflet for Alaska, a local milk brand, turned out to be superb! It even contained some trivia about chowder: "The word comes from the French word chaudiere ("pot") which comes from the word chaud. which means 'hot.'


2 tbsp. butter
2/3 cup sliced garlic
1/4 cup flour
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Quickmelt cheese
1 cup Alaska Evaporated Filled Milk
2 tsp. chopped parsley

To make:

Saute garlic in butter. Add in flour and cook for a few seconds. Pour in stock little by little, mixing well to avoid lumos. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. Blend in cheese, milk and parsley and cook for another minute.

Serves 5.