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.

 

 

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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!!!

 

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.

Parmesan-crusted Sole

There were nice sole fillets in the market and I could not resist buying some. We usually just sauté fish fillets but I thought of using oven this particular time…

I don’t remember exactly which book I found the recipe from but it is definitely one of the ones in our library.  I copied it hurriedly in my small notebook but forgot to write the source…

about 500 grams sole fillets, cleaned and patted dry

1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1-3/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 tablespoons mayonnaise
fresh juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 375F.

Arrange the fillets in a baking dish; set aside.  Mix together – breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasonings.  Lightly spread over arranged fillets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes then switch to broil; broil 3 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

 

Fruitcake Cookies

This is another recipe from Mrs. Fields; but not from the same book as the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (the post before this one).

And, because we are not exactly fruitcake lovers, I halved the recipe!

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup molasses
1 teaspoon brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1-1/2 cups mixed fruit (glazed and dried)

Sift the dry ingredients together; set aside.

Beat butter, brown sugar and molasses together; add brandy, vanilla and egg. Stir in the dry ingredients (do not overmix!) then fold in the mixed fruit.

Drop by tablespoons onto greaseproof-paper-lined cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated 325F oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until the cookie edges are light brown.  Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes after removing from the oven; then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

I was pleasantly surprised when the kid ate one and declared it delicious!  You see, she does not like mixed fruit of any kind!!!

 

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s good news… and there’s bad news…

The good news is that the kid loved the cookies.

The bad?  The kid was disappointed because the recipe for these cookies came from someone else.  She has this idea that I am the world’s greatest cook and baker (let’s see up to when that lasts… but I am absolutely enjoying it in the meantime!)

Anyway, these cookies were BFF’s request.  And the original recipe is from Mrs. Fields.  Although technically I changed it since I did not like raisins (and BFF did not like it either!) so it got swapped out for chocolate chips (dark mini chips and bittersweet chips).  I also used only 1 kind of sugar (raw or washed sugar that is available locally) and baked the cookies at 325F instead of the original 300F.

1-1/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter (1 225g bar); softened
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Eggs

2-1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats

1-1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes?)

Add honey, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.

Sift in the flour, soda, salt and oats. Don’t over-mix.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop mounds of cookie dough on to greaseproof-lined cookie sheets (I used a small cookie scoop); lightly press to flatten slightly. Bake about 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Do not over-bake!

Cool on cooling racks.

I made about 5 dozen (approx. 1-inch) cookies.

Nevertheless, the kid loved the cookies and asked that I make some more!

Sticky Orange Cake

Who knew that orange would be a fantastic flavor for a cake?  I certainly didn’t.  I didn’t even want to find out.  But with several oranges in the fridge in danger of spoiling (and we were getting tired of orange juice), I was desperate!

Basically, I substituted the milk in a vanilla cake recipe with orange juice and added the zest to the batter.

Then, following a friend’s suggestion, I spread orange marmalade on the top of the cake immediately, right out of the oven.

Wow!!!!  It was simply fantastic!!!  Even my usually picky mom did not complain at all…

 

Puffy Omelette

It wasn’t supposed to be a puffy omelette. What I wanted to do was make a souffléd omelette, which I saw online from Bon Appetit.

But as you can see, something went wrong with my dish… and I tried to follow the recipe faithfully, too!

The kid took one look and said it looked like a big mouth eating worms!

Uh… not a pretty picture!!!

But, the dish tasted ok… at least!

Hahahaha!

 

 

I AM A FILIPINO ADOBO

When I have time to waste, I always go to the bookstore and browse the cookbook section.  It was in one of those moments that I found a cookbook that I could not resist buying.  It was rather expensive, I admit, but after flipping through the pages, I just had to add it to my collection.

The first time I saw the book, it was the digital version.  With the limited browsing facility of Amazon, it did not interest me at all – there are, after all, MANY MANY cookbooks on Philippine food (both local and international) and most of my recipes were given to me by word-of-mouth.  I honestly did not need another one!

But curiosity got the better of me and with the permission of the bookstore personnel, I unwrapped the book and took a deeper look.  And, I swear, there is something about the smell of the pages, as well as the feel of the paper, that has a stronger appeal than the digital version!  In a matter of seconds, I made the decision to fork over the cash!

What I love about this cookbook is that the recipes are very close to what I have been taught (by word-of-mouth) by my mom, our faithful helper (who was with us since I was a child until after I finished schooling (at age 25!), and other elders.  Another thing that I really liked was that the food titles were in Filipino, with an English subtitle.  I’ve seen Filipino cookbooks (by Filipino authors no less!) who write their recipes with English translations, with the original Filipino title relegated to a sub-title, and I felt offended!

Sigh.

Anyway, the first recipe I tried in the book is the Adobong Manok at Baboy (Classic Adobo).  Why?  Well, because it is almost (almost!) the exact recipe my mom dictated to me a couple of decades ago!

While I have several recipes of adobo, depending on who taught me, this is the easiest to remember so I never wrote that recipe down.  All I have to remember is … ONE.

1 cup white vinegar (Datu Puti was what we had), 1 cup soy sauce (the Chinese favorite with the bird logo), 1 whole head of garlic, 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, 1 large bay leaf, 1 kilo of chicken and/or pork, and 1 heaping spoon of guava jelly (though this was optional).  The only other ingredient without a specific measure is the water – basically add enough water to cover everything.  That’s it.

The major difference is that in my mom’s version, there is no marinating the meat.  Just put everything in a pot (kaserola) and simmer until the meat is soft and tender (depending on the pork cubes, it could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour).  That’s it.

Oh, there is another difference… we usually add hard boiled eggs midway!

Yum. Yum. Yum!!!

 

 

Homemade Char Siew

Char Siew, or Chinese BBQ Pork, also known as Asado locally, is one of my childhood favorites.  There was this place in Chinatown where my mom used to buy char siew – it was the best in town!

These days it is not easy to find good char siew,  It seems like just every Chinese restaurant has its version and it is not necessarily a good one… but there is one place I found, a virtual hole-in-a-wall place relatively near, where the char siew is good enough.  They have good lechon macao (known as roast pork) also.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to make a homemade one and this one seems to be the best – and guess what?  It is not even roasted!

I found the recipe online from a lady who calls herself a “Domestic Goddess Wannabe“.  Her recipe and instructions are very clear, and I followed her recipe exactly!

(well, except that my pork shoulder marinated for about 4 to 5 days!  although I had intended to marinate only for a night, and scheduled the char siew for lunch the next day, something came up and I didn’t have the opportunity to cook it until about 5 days later!)

Verdict?

Success!  Hubby likes it!  It is moist and perfect!

Success!  I like it!  It is easy to make!!!!!