Apple Crisp

Over the Christmas holidays, while we were having Christmas lunch with my mom, we talked about (what else?) Christmas baking! It cropped up because I gave my godmother (who joined our Christmas lunch) fruitcake – my mom’s recipe (slightly adapted for my personal taste, of course) so then naturally my mom asked if I had successfully made her apple pie (she wanted to taste it again but did not want to make it).

I had to admit that while I was successful with her apple filling and the pie topping, I kept getting the bottom crust wrong. She then told me that the bottom crust was not important, so I could use whatever bottom crust recipe I wanted (or was comfortable with) because her secret was, first and foremost, the filling, followed by the topping. The crust, she said, was some recipe she picked up somewhere and was really nothing special.

A-ha!

But. But.

I am still chicken to make it. I did have moderate success a while back doing just what she suggested – generic crust for the bottom. But they were mini pies (baked in cupcake tins) and when I tried to make them in a proper pie pan… alas, same deal as before – nice filling and nice topping but blah bottom crust!

So, even if we have apples in abundance for the Christmas season, I am, yet again, still chicken to try mommy’s apple pie!

Instead I made her filling and topped it with my own oat-crisp mixture! And to make it extra special, I served it with vanilla ice cream (store bought) and homemade Brandy Caramel Sauce…

Personally I am happy with this Apple Crisp and would be just as happy to skip the apple pie altogether if only it were not an heirloom recipe as my mom claims it to be. (So as you can guess by now, my only interest in successfully making the apple pie is for my mom – for her to taste it once again, as well as to keep it alive for the next generation!)

Happy New Year!

It’s 2020!

For our media noche (new year’s eve feast), I decided to be lazy and do take-out. As much as I love to cook and bake, and will at every opportunity I can find, it made sense to take it easy and just enjoy the turnover from 2019 to 2020.

We usually clean up/out at the year’s end and hubby is in the midst of a massive reorganization… he even rearranged his side of the dressing room!

Me? I have loads to clean up but I am doing it bit by bit. Honestly I am too afraid to do it at one go – I am afraid that I would never finish! Hahaha

Anyway, i might have gotten take out but I made sure to make dessert!

In line with feeling “chicken” I have postponed, yet again, trying to make my mom’s apple pie. This year should have been the perfect time to try again since we received many apples this year but as I said, I did not feel confident to make the attempt.

As I’ve often said, my mom is known for 3 things at Christmas time… lasagna, fruitcake and apple pie… I have been successful 2/3 which is to say that I got her lasagna and fruitcake down pat but the apple pie? 2/3 still – that is to say that I’ve got the filling and top crust perfectly but I still flunked the bottom crust part. Sigh.

So what to do with all those apples? If there’s one thing I am good at with apples, it is apple crisp! This time though using mommy’s recipe for the filling (of course)!

For this year’s apple crisp, we spruced up by having it with vanilla ice cream and homemade light brandy caramel sauce!

As for the rest of the apples… maybe upside down apple cake… maybe…

Orange-Apricot Loaf

I never thought that an orange flavored loaf (or cake) was delicious and because of that, I stayed away for orange cakes. But at some point, a friend (from the culinary world) urged me (rather strenuously I might add) to give it a try, promising me that it would “definitely change my mind”.

Well guess what? My mind was blown at my first orange cake!

Since then I have made many orange cakes!

Here’s another one… with apricots! I found the recipe online – from Sunset

I didn’t have sour cream on hand though, instead I used 1/4 cup EACH orange juice and orange marmalade. As always, I brush the top (after baking) with a glaze made from apricot preserves, brandy, and water. I baked the recipe in 2 disposable aluminum loaf pans for about an hour.

We ate a loaf after dinner and sent the other one to my mother.

It was spectacularly delicious!

Christmas 2019

To be honest, I was unprepared for Noche Buena… I’d been so busy with baking and finishing Christmas orders that right up to yesterday, I was not sure what to serve for our Christmas Eve Midnight feast!

In fact, yesterday morning, in total defiance of my decades-old policy (of not going with the crowd for last minute shopping the day before Christmas), we went grocery shopping for Noche Buena! Needless to say, the counters at the supermarket were ALL open, with corresponding long lines!

Happily though, we made it through the day and with a decent “feast” even if I was on my feet the whole afternoon until evening! What did we have? Simple fare – baked lasagna… pineapple ham… mixed veggies… and fruit salad!

Date Walnut Loaf

I’ve made the usual Christmas treats this year, but I felt the need to try something new.

A friend of mine shared her recipe and agreed for me to share it…

200g chopped, pitted dates
4 tablespoons brandy
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup butter
1 cup Muscovado sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-3/4 cups flour, reserve 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon brandy, opt.
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

(I made a couple of changes to her recipe though, simply because I wanted booze in mine!)

Soak the chopped dates in brandy (I used a local brand which is very fragrant and fruity) for about 15 minutes.

Cream the butter and oil with the sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.

Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. (Toss the dates in the remaining 1/4 cup flour.) Stir half into the butter-egg mixture. Mix in sour cream and brandy if using. Stir in the remaining flour mixture.

Fold in floured dates and walnuts.

Spoon the batter into 2 loaf pans (our local fruitcake loaf pans are 6x3x2 inches until 3/4 full. (I had batter left over that fit 2 mini loaves!). Bake in a preheated 325*F oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

Brownies Brownies Brownies!

As hubby says – this is THE BROWNIE I made for him… thirty years ago!!!  Look at the fudgy center and the thin, crispy, crinkly top!

Anyway, it has been years since I opened my kitchen for business at Christmastime. Somehow I forgot how hectic it was!

But it was too late to turn back and before I knew it I had orders for more than 30 boxes of brownies! As well as more than 40 bottles of cheese pimiento! Some more for fruitcake… and chocolate chip treats…

Here’s the 30 boxes of brownies!

2019 Food for the Gods

I’ve written previously that this treat exists only in our country – elsewhere it is known by its real name Date Walnut Bars.  It’s available all year round, but its abundance multiplies exponentially during the Christmas season!

I suppose each baker has his/her own secret recipe for these bars. It is certainly true for my mom and me. But at the core of it all, it is a basic bar stuffed with a lot of dates and walnuts. What I found to be a big variance is the amount of sugar a recipe contains. I’ve even seen a recipe for an 8-inch square pan with 3 cups of sugar in it!

In any case, even if we have our own secret recipe, I still try out other recipes… like this one –

2/3 cup butter
1-1/2 cups muscovado sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100g dates, coarsely chopped
100g walnuts, broken

Cream the butter and sugar for at least 7 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.

Combine flour, soda and salt. Stir into the butter-egg mixture; take care not to over-mix. Fold in dates and walnuts.

Instead of placing the batter into a baking tray/pan, I scooped the batter into a silicon pan with rectangular cavities and baked them at 325*F for about 12 minutes.

I sent the gift box to my mom and younger brother. When I asked my brother how they were, his reply was ours (referring to our secret recipe) was better, but this was good enough!

Cheese Pimiento!!!!

It was about this time last year that my kitchen opened officially for Christmas.

This year I actually started earlier since my first batch of fruitcakes have been “curing” in the fridge for several weeks now.

And… a couple of people asked if I would sell my fruitcakes! I wasn’t…

But, I thought I would accept orders for cheese pimiento (and a couple of other baked goods). I wasn’t really prepared since it was a spur of the moment decision and for the bottles to put them in? Well, I had some bottles left over from last year so I said if I could sell enough to use up all those bottles then I’m ok!

As it turned out, there were more orders than I expected! I had to buy more ingredients!!!

This pimiento is not like the one I made before (May 2018). I figured this one out with the kid in mind – she has a different and a very particular taste preference so I chose her favorite cheese as the main ingredient. And since hubby wants the kid to eat “healthier”, I omitted salt, sugar, flavoring, color, and preservatives!

I must say that the kid eats this with gusto! It is especially good with pandesal… the good news? Everyone who has had a taste of this wants more!

(smile, smile, smile!)

My Mom’s Fruitcake

I’ve always said that my mom is famous for 3 things during Christmas – one of which is her fruitcake. I’ve scoured her recipe files and found 3 recipes.

I tried the recipes.  None of the 3 seemed to be “IT”.  When I asked my mom about it, she just said it had to be one of the 3… but I was quite certain that it was not.

Well, remember I found her black books?  There was a fruitcake recipe in one of the books, and it was for a big batch of fruitcake – 1 recipe made about 6 to 8 loaves!  I scaled it down a bit and baked it – AND I HIT THE JACKPOT!  It was THE recipe!

Even hubby was satisfied and convinced!

Incidentally, it was this fruitcake that topped his tower of treats for his birthday!

When her recipe was broken down, it seemed similar to one of the recipes that I figured out last year – there were only slight differences! But I think what really set her fruitcake apart was her baking (?) method. Her recipe specifically specified to steam the fruitcake, which resulted in a very moist cake!

Another Fruitcake

This is the last one, I promise!!!

The recipe for this one looked easy – it mixed in one bowl, with no pre-soaking required.  Best of all, it was ready to eat after baking (and cooling)!

The secret? Condensed milk!

I followed this recipe from Eagle Brand.  But not knowing where to find mincemeat I just used mixed dried fruit, about 2 cups worth.  I also added about half a tablespoon of apple pie spice…

Fast.  Easy.  Delicious.

Yuummmmmm!

 

B’s Hot Chocolate 2018 Christmas ed.

B: mommy, can you make me hot chocolate? With marshmallows?

M: of course

(Of course, i had to deliver more than what was asked… added chocolate on the rim, and topped the whole thing with ice cream and choco syrup!)

B: Wow mommy! It’s beautiful!

(And after tasting it)

IT IS SOOOOOOOO YUMMMYYYYY MOMMYYYYY! You’re the best at making the best stuff!

(I so love it when she thinks I’m the best 😍)

Homemade Irish Cream

I tried my hand at mixing homemade liqueurs last Christmas but for some unknown reason I skipped the recipe for homemade Irish Cream.  Maybe it was the astronomical price for Irish whiskey…

This year however, I decided that i would try to make the recipe even if I used ordinary whiskey!!!  I don’t know what difference it would make in the recipe but at the end of the day, plain whiskey is what I can afford (and believe me, the price of the real Irish Cream is cheaper than the price of Irish whiskey!!!)

So I followed this recipe and it’s fantastic!  When they said that the homemade version is way better than Bailey’s, they weren’t kidding!!!

It is sooooooo yummy that I will be  making another batch in the next few days!  The recipe says that it is good for 2 months in the fridge.  Well, I know this for sure – it will long be gone before then!!!