Butterscotch Dreams

Not being a big fan of chocolate, my bar of choice has always been butterscotch – specifically the one that my Ilonggo relatives would bring when they came for a visit.  It was difficult to describe, but it was buttery, sugary, and something else.  Over the years it has morphed into many variants, including my all-time favorite cashew and mango!

I never figured out how to bake those Pinoy (or Ilonggo) Butterscotch but I have tried to make butterscotch bars on and off throughout the years.  I was never quite satisfied… and eventually gave up.

You see, I did not want a butterscotch-chip bar, I wanted butterscotch bars!  I wanted the flavor of the butterscotch to permeate every bit of the bar cookie… and I wanted a butterscotch bar stuffed with dark chocolate chips… or cashew nut bits… or maybe even bits of dried Philippine mango…

The answer came to me in a dream – literally!  A couple of nights ago i woke up from a dream where I’d been mixing batter for butterscotch bars… I woke up to darkness (it wasn’t even close to dawn!) and scurried into the kitchen before my memory of the dream faded!

Thank goodness I had all the ingredients on hand!  And so, my experiment began… I had no guide except for my dream… and as I added ingredients, I noted it in the little girl’s whiteboard!

The resulting bars were even better that I imagined!

The recipe will have to wait though… because friend S expressed her desire to keep the goodies to ourselves for a while.  Besides, I think it just made the Christmas Giveaway List this year!

(Thank you friend T for naming this treat!)

 

 

Inasal na Manok

Hubby is predicting that our electric bill is going to skyrocket, with the baking I am doing with the small electric oven!

But I am just soooo excited!  And I’m having fun with it.  Especially the rotisserie function.  Here’s my second chicken project – the Inasal Chicken.

Inasal Chicken is a local dish of Bacolod, in the Western Visayas (Panay region) and its neighboring provinces.  The chicken is marinated in native vinegar, calamansi, achuete and pepper, then roasted, in pieces on a wooden skewer, on a charcoal grill.

My chicken inasal, at least for this occasion, is not grilled over charcoal.  Instead I cooked it rotisserie style.  I really like the rotisserie function of my ovenette – it enables me to multi-task.  I put the chicken in and leave it to roast.  I go and do whatever else that needs to be done and violà, an hour and a half later, we get to eat!  Isn’t that wonderful?

The recipe –

1 whole chicken, about 1.2 kilograms, cleaned and patted dry

8 cloves garlic, grated
1-1/2 tabelspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup sinamak (spiced coconut vinegar)
1/3 cup pure calamansi juice
2 to 3 stalks tanglad (lemon grass), white part only, smashed
reserve the green part
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh coarsely ground pepper
a pinch of annatto powder

Clean the chicken and pat dry.  Place the chicken inside a ziplock bag.

Combine the marinade ingredients together.  Pour into the ziplock bag containing the chicken.  Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 48 hours, turning the chicken every 4 to 6 hours.

Skewer the chicken on the rotisserie rod, stuff the cavity with the reserved green part of the tanglad (lemongrass) and (as I prefer) tie the chicken securely.  Roast the chicken at 240C for about 70 minutes.  Check the inner temperature of the chicken.  It should be between 75C to 77/78C.  Alternatively, chop into pieces, skewer on wooden sticks and cook over charcoal.

I got my recipe from a friend who claims to have gotten it from a native of Bacolod.  She says that the secret is using sinamak, the native spiced vinegar.  Sinamak is also the condiment served with the chicken.  Sinamak can be purchased at the supermarket but it is not difficult to make your own!  (Recipe coming up in the next entry!)

Minced Pork and Mushrooms, My Way…

One of the most popular dishes that my mother had in her arsenal was/is this diced pork-mushroom-tofu dish in a thick, sweet-salty sauce. I have tried to recreate it time and again but I never came close. It hasn’t stopped me from trying, and I always opt for ground pork instead of diced (less work!) but…

In any case, I prefer fresh mushrooms to dried ones, and a like a variety too, but sometimes I use dried shitakes also, when the fresh ones are unavailable.

400 grams lean ground pork
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons light soya sauce
4 to 5 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoons shao xing wine
1/2 to 1 tablespoon sesame oil

300 grams assorted fresh mushrooms
or a handful of dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated

4 thin slices of ginger
1 small onion, minced finely
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced finely

fried shallots (or shallot sauce)
2 cups stock, part mushroom soaking liquid
(if using dried shitakes)
1 piece star anise
1 small piece cinnamon stick
1 small piece rock sugar, or to taste

Marinate the pork in oyster sauce, soy sauces, wine and sesame oil for at least half an hour.

Sauté the ginger, onions and garlic.

Add the pork.  Stir fry until pork is almost done.  Add the mushrooms. Stir briefly.

Add the shallots, stock and spices.

Simmer until almost all the liquid is gone.  Or, to make a real soft, mushy dish, put in a crockpot or thermal cooker.

Serve with boiled eggs, garnished with fried shallots.

 

 

 

 

Honeycomb-Vanilla-Yogurt Ice Cream

I went through an ice-cream making phase and the first thing I did was to buy “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz.  I love, love, love his Philadelphia-style Vanilla Ice Cream! (p. 25)  It’s fast, easy and delicious!!!

And after getting rave reviews of my first attempt, I wanted to try it again, this time with a few adaptations – adding leftover honeycomb and using a little yogurt (my homemade Greek-style yogurt).

2-1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
1 teaspoon (my homemade) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (my homemade) Greek-style yogurt
100 grams honeycomb

Place 1 cup cream, sugar, salt, scraped vanilla seeds, and the vanilla pod in a small pot.  Heat over low to medium heat and stir until sugar is melted and incorporated completely.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Then add the remaining 1-1/2 cups heavy cream, yogurt and vanilla extract.  Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, crush the honeycomb ( I used a crab mallet — it was so much fun!) and set aside.

I didn’t have an ice cream maker so I used the 2-bowl, ice and salt method to “churn” my ice cream. (Don’t forget to take out the vanilla pod!)  It took about 30 minutes or so until it came to a soft-serve consistency.

Fold in and folded the honeycomb pieces (some large and others quite powdery) into the ice cream.  Transfer to a 1 liter container and freeze.

Just look at that lovely texture (after being frozen overnight) and the lovely crunch pieces.

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The little girl wanted hers with chocolate syrup.

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This batch of ice cream (almost a liter) was gone in 24 hours! Wow!

Patola Misua Soup

This soup, sponge gourd and thin wheat noodle soup, is one of my favorites, as well as a comfort food for me.  It is usually cooked with ground pork, but chicken strips are used as well, and, if a more decadent version is desired, with shrimps.

In my household, we always use a combination of ground pork and shrimps.  But depending on the state of the local treasury, the amount of pork and shrimp used vary!

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My recipe:

1 large patola (sponge gourd)
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
50 to 100 grams ground pork
12 pieces shrimp, trimmed and cleaned
40 to 60 grams misua, or thin wheat noodles, or as desired
3 to 6 cups shrimp stock, or water
salt and pepper, to taste
toasted garlic bits or chips, optional

Begin by preparing the sponge guard.  Peel the skin off and slice the gourd into thin rounds.  Rinse and dry.

If desired, the shrimps can be shelled and diced.  The shells and head can be used to make shrimp stock, which can be added to the soup for more flavor in lieu of water.  Otherwise, use chicken or vegetable stock.

Saute the garlic and onion.  Add the ground meat and shrimps.  Stir fry several seconds.  When the ground meat and shrimp are cooked, add the stock, or water.

Let the mixture boil.  Add the wheat noodles, simmer a couple of seconds until the misua is softened and cooked.  Season with salt and pepper, as preferred.

Garnish with toasted garlic bits or chips, if desired.