In Someone Else’s Kitchen, part 2 of 4

Let’s talk about apple crisps.

I started making apple crisps when I realized that the very real possibility and probability that I would never succeed in making my mom’s apple pie.  I got the filling right but somehow my crusts were always wrong.  So apple crisp was what I came up with.

The recipe that got me started is Dorie Greenspan’s, from her book “Baking My Home to Yours”.  As always I adjusted to suit my taste… which meant I skipped some and added others…

Anyway, this was the dessert I made for our host last week.  Why?  Because it is easy to make, with ingredients commonly available, and impressive, too.  The best part?  It bakes while we have dinner and when it is served, it is perfect straight out of the oven!

The ingredient list is fairly easy too.  The beauty of modernization is that virtually anything can be found anywhere. So even when I am 250 kilometers away from home, I can find the ingredients that I need.  The nearby supermarket and specialty shop had everything, even real cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg!  Dishes aren’t a problem too, since there were plenty of disposable aluminum pans – in various sizes and shapes at that.  But silly me, I forgot to buy the oats…

(truth time – the pic above is NOT the apple crisp I made in someone else’s kitchen.  I forgot to take a pic of that one)  The one I made in friend G’s house is one I made from memory and I somehow got the sugar amount wrong – I put in waaayyy too much, so it was a tad on the (really) sweet side.

picture courtesy of friends G and J. The topping is all flour, no nuts

Like I said, it is easy to make –

First, generously butter a 6-inch square baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 375F.

Peel and core 2 large Fuji apples and 3 to 4 small Gala apples.  Slice into wedges.  I slice mine in varying thickness because I like a bit of crunch and a bit of mush at the same time.  Toss the apple wedges with 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar, 1 teaspoon apple pie spice ( or cinnamon), 1 cinnamon stick (broken in half), 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 tablespoon whipping cream, juice from 1 fresh calamansi, and 2 tablespoons flour.  Place the apples in the buttered baking dish.

(a short note here – the original recipe called for maple syrup, which is a rare find in my country, so instead I use a mix of vanilla sugar, butter and cream)

Stir together 2/3 cup of flour, 2/3 cup oats (not instant), 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or cashews (optional), 4 to 6 tablespoons vanilla sugar (I usually use 5 tablespoons), a pinch of salt, and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg.  Plop 75 grams of soft, unsalted butter in the mix.  Use a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a food processor, as you prefer but I personally use my hands!  Mix until just clumpy; don’t overdo it.  Scatter over the apples.

Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the topping is a lovely brown.  If the topping gets too browned, cover with aluminum foil.

Best served with cold whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

 

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In Someone Else’s Kitchen

We had a lovely vacation (read as hubby had a couple of meetings but the kid and I relaxed and enjoyed the cool air!) and our generous host fed us scrumptious meals.  Of course I had to reciprocate!

(Flashback to some 3 decades ago, when I cooked paella for 20 people in someone else’s kitchen!!!)

It is not easy cooking (meddling???) in someone else’s kitchen, mainly because I have no idea where anything is!  But what is quite nice about the kitchen of someone who likes to cook is that the kitchen would definitely have the basic tools and then some.  Since friend G had an oven, I gladly made use of it.

My menu consisted of 4 parts – protein, carbohydrate, healthy (veggie) and something sweet.

For the protein, I thought roasted salmon was perfect!  And again my favorite recipe comes from Mark Bittman.  With a bit of a twist, though.  The online version of the recipe is slightly different from the book version –

First, I used half butter and half olive oil, which I seasoned with pink salt and freshly cracked peppercorns… and about 1/2 tablespoon of dried dill seeds.  Off in the oven it went until the butter melted and stopped fizzing.

I then placed 4 pieces of salmon fillet slabs, about 220 to 250 grams each, skin side up, into the pan and back to the oven it went and stayed for about 5 to 7 minutes.  The fillets got flipped to get the skin side down.  And then I sprinkled some more pink salt and crushed peppercorns over the top.  It went back into the oven for another 5 to 6 minutes, just until it was done.

 

Salmon Roasted in Butter and Dill

When I think of experimenting in the kitchen, I browse and peruse my cookbook collection. One of the first books I reach for is Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”.

It is there that I found a super easy and very tasty recipe for salmon.

I used half butter and half olive oil, and fresh dill, following the secondary instructions for ‘Salmon Roasted with Herbs’.

The recipe can be found online – http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/04/mark-bittmans-roasted-salmon-with-butter.html

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding

The easy way to do this is to use a boxed chocolate cake mix and a boxed chocolate pudding mix.

But it is just as easy to use a favorite one-bowl chocolate cake and an easy from-scratch pudding recipe such as Hershey’s Quick Creamy Chocolate Pudding, which was what I did, except that I used half a recipe (for both cake and pudding) because I wanted a small cake.  But I also wanted a little oommph for the pudding, so I made a few changes…

Prepare the chocolate cake and bake as usual.  When the cake is done, remove from the oven and poke holes in it using the handle of a wooden spoon.  Start cooking the pudding.  When the pudding is done, pour over the hole-ridden cake.  Press plastic wrap on the pudding and chill until set.

My Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding –

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt and milk in a thick saucepan.  Cook until thick and boiling.  Simmer at boiling for about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla and Irish Cream, mix well.

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Snickers Peanut Butter Squared Cookies

If there is one candy that I cannot resist, it is Snickers Peanut Butter Squared.  It is not all that common locally so when I find them, I hoard!  My problem now is that we have too much and I can’t finish them all!!!  (and Hubby is not a fan of peanut butter…) so… I decided to convert them into… cookies!!!

The original recipe estimated a yield of 4 dozen.  Frankly, I don’t know how all of that would be consumed (even assuming that I was giving half away!!!) so I used only half the recipe (using all butter also instead of a butter-shortening mix) and added a little less than 2 cups of chopped up Peanut Butter Snickers!

1/2 cup butter
3/8 cup each brown and granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/8 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups chopped Snickers Peanut Butter Squared candies

Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; mix well.  Stir in flour and baking soda.  Fold in chopped candies.  Drop by round tablespoons (a 1-oz scoop is very convenient) on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375F oven for 8 to 11 minutes.


They are so yummmmyyyy! And the smell that wafted through the house as the cookies were baking – so heavenly!

I was done in less than an hour and the cookies were soft and chewy! The peanuts in the candy provided the crunch while the caramel and nougat in the candy bits provided just enough sweetness! I got about 30 cookies from half the recipe. I’m definitely making these cookies again!  Maybe I will try adding different kinds of chopped candy…

The original recipe is from this book:

The recipe can be found here, with a couple of its variants.

Upside Down Apple Cake

The usual upside down cake is pineapple, and that’s the kind I made when I was younger but my favorite these days is apple!

My first attempt at it (it was not pretty at all!) –

A look at a slice –

And I really love this cake!

I followed the recipe for the pineapple upside down apple cake in this book (image courtesy of google images) –

The recipe is also online here

Basically I followed the recipe, except…

1. I used 2 smaller pans instead of 1 big pan
2. I used all the schmear in the 2 smaller pans (it’s really delicious, but I might have over done it, seriously…).
3. I sprinkled apple pie spice over the “schmear” before putting in apple slices.

By the way, I used Fuji apples… and they were still crunchy even after baking!

The recipe (and hence, the cake) was absolutely spectacular! A tad bit sweet for me but otherwise, super yummy!!! So from now on, this is my go-to upside down cake recipe!

 

 

Inihaw na Piña!

I’ve often felt that barbecuing over charcoal took a long time and was so tedious that it was better and faster to buy barbecue, or anything inihaw (grilled) and just eat it at home.  But that is not to say that I would not have a barbecue night, because I wanted to try having a whole dinner that’s barbecued!

Our menu –

Inihaw na Liempo (Grilled Pork Belly)

Inihaw na Puting Mais (Grilled Native Corn)

Inihaw na Pinya (Grilled Pineapples)

The best of the lot were the grilled pineapples! We bought a fresh pineapple from the wet market and skewered the slices. The skewered pineapples were basted with a glaze then grilled.

I found a recipe for the glaze in this book… on the very last page!

A similar recipe is here.

But, as always I made a couple of changes, here and there… basically I skipped the honey and used coconut sugar instead. I also used my homemade apple pie spice instead of cinnamon…

For my glaze, I melted 1/4 cup butter then added 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, juice from 1 small lemon, 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice and a pinch of nutmeg. When the coconut sugar was almost melted, I took the pan off the stove and added 1 tablespoon of gold rum and 1/2 teaspoon of my homemade vanilla-rum extract.

The pineapples were absolutely delicious!

 

Kesong Puti

Kesong Puti is, literally, “white cheese”.  It is a cheese that is truly Filipino!

This kesong puti has got to be the easiest cheese ever!  The most difficult part of this recipe might be sourcing the carabao milk!  In my case, I found fresh carabao milk at the weekend market in Centris.  I have been told that certain supermarkets do sell pasteurized carabao’s milk.

Anyway, the recipe has only 4 ingredients… carabao milk, salt, vinegar and lemon juice.  That’s it!

Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt in 500 ml of carabao milk.  Heat in a double boiler for 15 minutes.  I started counting when the water underneath reached boiling.

Remove from heat and immediately mix in 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons vinegar, in my case I used Datu Puti.  Curds should form almost immediately.  Leave to cool and set for an hour.

00_kesong-puti

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth-lined strainer.  I used an old birdseye cloth diaper, sterlized of course!  Gather the ends together and squeeze lightly.  If a soft creamy cheese is desired, then it is done at this point.

But in my case, since I wanted a drier, crumbly cheese, I squeezed more whey out.

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Whether soft and creamy, or dry and crumbly, wrap the kesong puti in a softened banana leaf and store in an airtight container.  Chill and enjoy!

Consume within 7 days.

The original recipe is from yummy.ph.  I halved the recipe and used a bit more salt.

A final note about salt – adjust it as you like.  We found the original recipe to be lacking and added a bit more.  When I make the recipe again, I may add a little bit more since hubby commented that it could use a tad more…

Tablea Chocolate Cake

Tablea is what we call our locally produced, pure cacao tablet.  Recently, a friend gave me a pack of tablea that she claimed was the renowned one in her province…

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And while I could use them to make sikwate – a hot chocolate beverage made with locally produced tablea, I decided I wanted to make something else… a chocolate cake using tablea!

00_tableacakw2

The basis for my cake is from the local Yummy magazine – http://www.yummy.ph/recipe/chocolate-tablea-cake-a185-20120319.  I used about 100 grams of tablea.

So how does the tablea chocolate cake compare with the regular chocolate cake?  Well, there is a different dimension to the the tablea choco cake and a slight tang but it was delicious in its own special way!