Bibingka!

This is not the first time I made bibingka… truth is, I’ve been experimenting on and off for years.  The first relatively successful one did not look all that nice but it was ok.  This latest experiment is the most successful one, I think (a slightly different recipe from before).

Bibingka is a local “cake” made from rice flour.  I’ve seen many recipes for bibingka without using rice flour and to me this is plain cheating!  It is not bibingka if it is not made from rice flour!  Now, there are many kinds of bibingka – the fluffy kind (which is the kind this one is), a heavier pudding-like concoction, another kind made from cassava… it seems that there are as many kinds of bibingka as there are provinces or regions in the country!!!

The other “secret” to bibingka is the banana leaf lining.  For some reason, it does not quite taste like bibingka unless its bottom is covered in banana leaf!

There are special bibingka “ovens” where several can be cooked, in a “tower” with “drawers” where the bibingka pan is placed.  It is difficult to describe but it is the best I can do.  Google has many images of bibingka ovens for those who want to get a visual picture.

My version of bibingka is the one that I personally like.  I don’t know if it is any one of the variants of any region but what I can say with honesty is that the inspiration for it is the bibingka from Via Mare Cafe.  I “upgraded” my version by including real coconut flakes in the batter. The recipe also has cake flour because I found that the bibingka has a softer bounce to it with cake flour in the mix.

1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

tender/moist coconut flakes, about 1/2 cup

sliced kesong puti (local white cheese made from carabao milk)
1 salted egg, coarsely chopped

butter or margarine to serve (margarine is preferred locally)

grated coconut to serve

Preheat oven to 435 to 450F. Prepare a 2 7-inch bibingka pans by buttering the pan, fitting a banana leaf on the bottom of the pan and buttering the banana leaf.  In my case, I used 1 bibingka pan and 6 large muffin tins to make mini-bibingka.

Note – my bibingka is baked in my convection oven, with the fan on, because I will not buy a bibingka oven!!!

Stir together dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in coconut flakes (or actual coconut strips but make sure that actual coconut strips have been patted dry).

Pour into the prepared pans, top with kesong puti slices and chopped salted egg pieces.

Bake 20-25 minutes for the big pan and about 15 minutes for the muffin tins.

Brush with melted butter straight from the oven.

Serve piping hot with more butter and grated coconut on the side.

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Buko-Macapuno Muffins

I have a basic, standard muffin recipe but I decided I was ready to try another recipe.  The one that caught my fancy was the “Anything but Basic Muffin Recipe” by Broma Bakery.  There’s many variants of the muffin but I wanted to make a variant with a local flair – hence this Buko (coconut) Macapuno (mutant coconut!) muffin.

Mix dry ingredients together –

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix wet ingredients together

2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup melted butter-flavored Crisco (because I discovered too late that I ran out of butter!)
3/4 cup coconut milk (originally buttermilk)
1 teaspoon each vanilla and coconut extract

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet; mixing only until just combined.

Fold in 2/3 cup coconut flakes (the moist, tender kind, not desiccated).

Scoop into muffin tins lined with paper cups (I got 6 large muffins and 8 mini-muffins).   Spoon macapuno (I used chunky sweetened macapuno that came in a bottle) on the top.

Bake in a preheated 375F oven (I did not follow the oven instructions!).  For the large muffins, bake about 25 minutes.  For the mini-muffins, bake about 15 minutes.

We shared the muffins with friends and the consensus is – IT’S GOOD!!!!

Coconut-Rum Cupcakes with Ube Halaya Centers and Ube-Coconut Buttercream

Coconut is never my first choice when thinking of baking cupcakes.  But I had leftover coconut cream in the fridge, as well as coconut flakes… so for hubby friend’s birthday, coconut cupcakes it is.  And, since I had leftover ube halaya, the cupcakes got an ube halaya center and ube-coconut buttercream on top!

Of course I did not have a coconut cupcake recipe on hand!  Thank goodness there’s a number of them on the internet.  I picked one from Brown-eyed Baker.  As usual, I changed a few things…

my adaptation –

1-1/4 cups flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes
1/2 cup butter (I used butter flavored Crisco)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut cream (well-stirred)
2 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place paper cups in cupcake tins.

Stir flour, baking powder, salt and coconut flakes together (I did not process the coconut flakes); set aside.

Beat Crisco and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat to mix well.  Add vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the coconut cream and coconut rum.

Scoop mixture into the paper cups.  Place a small teaspoon of ube halaya in the center of the batter.  Bake for about 18-22 minutes; rotate pan midway.

When the cupcakes have cooled.  Frost as desired.  I used ube-coconut buttercream for mine.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup ube halaya
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut cream (well stirred)

For the frosting – Beat butter and halaya until well combined. Gradually add powdered sugar (adjust according to personal taste). Add coconut cream by tablespoons, beating well after each addition.

 

 

Sukiyaki!

It is undeniable that sukiyaki is one of the most famous Japanese foods.  The usual is beef sukiyaki but since hubby doesn’t eat beef anymore, the one I made is with pork.

I keep thinking that sukiyaki is a complicated dish, because it looks that way when we order it at the Japanese restaurant.  It is definitely impressive, so when 2 of my best buds were coming over to have dinner, I wanted to impress!!!

Not that I haven’t tried to make sukiyaki before but it has not been 100% successful… but this time I think I’ve got the right mix.  I based my sukiyaki on the recipe in this book –

While I did follow the recipe to the letter, especially with regard to the ingredient list, I did think that the most important part of the recipe was the soup base – the sukiyaki sauce.

The difficulty I encountered with the previous recipes was that they all required dashi stock… from scratch.  While it is a good idea to make stuff from scratch, I really did not know where to get the ingredients!!!  What I looooove about this recipe is that it used “instant” dashi, which was available at the nearby Japanese specialty grocery!

As for the other ingredients, I used Chinese tofu, enoki, shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, fish cake slices, Baguio pechay, sotanghon (vermicelli), pork sliced in sukuyaki-style,

As for the sukiyaki sauce, my perfect proportion is 1 part mirin, 2 parts Japanese soy sauce, and 3 to 4 parts water, with sugar to taste (I was actually ok with skipping it) and a couple of pinches of instant dashi granules (although truthfully I’ve also make it without and it was still ok!)

Now, I wanted a prettier presentation but my guests came earlier than expected so I did not manage to arrange the ingredients in organized areas… in the end everything got mish-mashed together… but what counts is that it is delicious, right?

RIGHT!!!

 

Tortang Alimango

This is a simple dish, IF the crab meat has already been removed from the crabs!!!!

BTW, as opposed to the English language where the term crab encompasses everything, in our local language there are specific terms for crab – alimasag for the salt water blue crab, alimango for mud crabs, talangka for salt water shore crabs, katang for fresh water crabs.  We also have coconut crabs (dunno the local term for this one), and recently I’ve come across what was labelled “ocean crabs” whose shells are thick, and whose flavor in dishes is very pronounced but the crab itself has very little meat!  (got a couple of dishes made of these in future posts)

Anyway, the recipe for Tortang Alimango or Crabmeat Omelette is one that was given to me through oral instruction.  Any crab meat may be used and I have, on occasion, bought canned crab meat and frozen flaked crab meat to use.  Traditionally though, we collect the meat found in the “legs” because those tend to be discarded at the dinner table and it seemed a waste!

For every 3 pieces of egg, use about 1/2 cup crab meat.  For a family of 6, we use 6 eggs, which meant we had to collect 1 cup of crab meat – which is definitely NOT easy so if we were short on the crab meat we augmented with diced potatoes.  These days though, I use kani, or Japanese crab sticks (cut into smaller pieces of course) to augment…

Back to the recipe – sauté diced onions and tomatoes (should be proportionate to the size of the omelette) and add the crab meat, stir fry for several seconds.  Remove from the pan and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Stir in the slightly cooled sautéed crab meat.  Pour into a heated, non-stick pan.  Cook until done (both sides).

Serve hot with ketchup!

 

B’s Sandwich…

The kid has always been a picky eater!  When she was a toddler, she ate everything!  But one day, poof!  She suddenly refused to eat her favorite foods.  She only wanted plain white rice and nothing else!

OMG!

We had such a difficult time trying to figure out how to coax her into eating again.  But her pediatrician said not to force her to eat because she could be traumatized so we let her set the pace even as we tried to convince her to eat more.

The good news is things got better.  Years passed and little by little she ate more and more.  Still, the kid is not adventurous at all.  But at least she will try new foods and decide if she is okay with it – it used to be she decided first that she didn’t like it!

Anyway, one of the foods that she absolutely did not like is the EGG!  It didn’t matter what kind or how it was cooked, she refused to eat eggs.

That is, until I made a savory “french toast”…

First, beat an egg with a pinch of salt and pepper in a wide bowl.  Heat a non-stick frying pan (with a little butter).

Then butter a piece of bread and place 2 thin slices of farmers meatloaf, and pile on a piece of toast cheese.  Top with another slice of bread.  Flatten slightly.  Dip the sandwich in the beaten egg; make sure both sides have been dipped in the egg mixture.

Place the sandwich in the pan and cook about a minute on one side and another minute on the other side, until both sides are lightly browned.  (while the sandwich is in the pan, I use the spatula to flatten the sandwich a bit more).

Slice the sandwich into 2 triangles.  Enjoy while the sandwich is hot!

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe for these cookies came from one of my favorite cookbook authors/chefs – Dorie Greenspan!  My brother recently got me a copy of Dorie’s Cookies and of course I just had to try the peanut butter (that being my favorite cookie flavor and all…)

I followed the recipe faithfully, even using Skippy which was the recommended brand! But I swapped the chopped peanuts with chocolate chip cookies… (and halved the recipe while I was at it)

1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup Skippy smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking powder, and nutmeg; set aside.

Beat peanut butter, butter and salt together until very smooth.  Add the sugars, continue beating.  Add the egg and beat some more.

Stir in the flour mixture then fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop, place dough mounds onto parchment or silicone lined cookie sheets.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes or so; or until the cookie edges are set.

We loved the cookies!!!!! And again, the kid praised me for being the best in the kitchen!

The original recipe can be found here.