Saging at Yema

I recently made cupcakes with caramel and frosted with caramel buttercream. It is superb combination that is universally liked. But an idea popped into my head after baking a yema-topped cake (joining the bandwagon of yema cakes that have sprouted in many malls!) for a friend…

I wondered what would happen if I frosted my banana cupcakes with yema? Hmmmm…

Yema, after all, is a close relative of caramel… Yema, in the traditional sense is a candy made from egg yolks, milk and sugar (and the “secret” ingredient that is dayap!).

So, what is yema anyway?  According to pepper.ph –

Yema is Spanish for “egg yolk,” and is most likely a reference either to its golden-yellow appearance or to its composition (traditionally a batter of egg yolks, lime peel, and sugar). Intensely rich and similar in texture to the French crème brûlée, it is sometimes made more decadent by the addition of a thin, crisp coating of caramelized sugar. Wrapped in squares of colorful cellophane, yema can be purchased everywhere, from sari-sari stores, roadside stalls, to street vendors outside churches, as well as a few select groceries and bakeries.

Anyway, I experimented with using yema as base for the frosting.  As a safety net, I also frosted some with caramel buttercream and truffle frosting… and was quite amazed at the result! Everybody preferred the yema-banana combination over everything else!

Wow!

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Ube Bread Knots

There used to be a bakery about 3 blocks away from my childhood home where we would go and buy freshly baked bread from.  Our favorite was obviously the pandesal, followed closely by the so-called Spanish Bread.  Not so popular with my brothers but immensely liked by me was the Pan de Ube (Purple Yam Bread).  It was basically a “bun” sandwich which was filled with ube paste.  Now, whether the ube filing is the real thing or not was never an issue (before, that is).

Lately though, I have been “feeling” that the ube filling is not real at all, but just some sweet, purple-colored paste pretending to be ube.  Thus began my journey to make my own ube bread.  I started a couple of years back using straight method dough for bread but lately my go-to recipe is the no-knead recipe by Jeff Hertzbery and Zoe Francois!

As for the ube filling (halaya), store bought is fine (as long as you know they use genuine products) or make your own!

(First of all, ube is not taro, or sweet potato!)

1 kilo ube, steamed or boiled, then mashed
1 cup butter
1 cup condensed milk
1 cup thin coconut milk
1/2 cup thick coconut cream
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter;  Add the condensed milk, coconut milk and coconut cream.  Stir to mix.  Add the sugar and vanilla; mix.  Add the mashed ube and cook, over low heat, until thick, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring constantly.  Take care not to burn the mixture!

(Note – purple food color may be added to enhance the color of the halaya, since the purple pigment of the ube varies greatly.  When the inherent color of the ube is insufficient, the end product is likely to be gray in color and will look unappetizing.)

Let the mixture cool before storing in the fridge.

To make the bread, roll out a piece of dough and spread some ube halaya.  Roll it up into a long strip and fold into a knot.  Bake at 375*F for about 15 minutes (longer for bigger pieces),

 

 

 

Filipino-style Cheese Cupcake

Even before knowing about (American/Western) cupcakes, we were happily eating cheese cupcakes (we are the ones with cheese ice cream too!).  When I was a young girl, all the neighborhood bakeries had their own version of cheese cupcakes.  Some were crumbly, extremely cheesy, sweet, heavy… there were all kinds of it.  My personal favorite was the soft kind with a lot of cheese flavor and cheese strips on top.

I tried many recipes for cheese cupcake and got a myriad of results – crumbly, heavy, sweet… none were as cheesy as I would like.  I later discovered, when someone revealed a trade “secret”, that commercial bakeries used cheese flavoring (either a concentrate liquid or powder) to enhance the cheesy flavor.  Well, I don’t know where to get cheese flavoring, then again, I preferred to achieve flavor naturally.  I was able to do by using parmesan… not the “real” stuff but the prepared and already grated ones readily available in the supermarkets.

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter-margarine blend
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup quick-melt cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix the dry ingredients together, then set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together. Add the condensed milk.

Add half the flour mixture and mix. Add the evaporated milk and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix. Fold in the grated Parmesan. Fold in half the quick-melt and cheddar cheeses.

Scoop batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 15 minures. Take the pan out and quickly sprinkle the rest of the cheeses on top of the cupcakes. Return to the oven and bake further, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take care not to over-bake.

E’s Baking Day, Pandesal…

E has been baking up a storm – of loaves!

But this time around he wanted to learn how to make pandesal.  Of course I was more than willing to oblige.

Pandesal is bread that we grew up with.  Back then it seemed that all the neighborhoods had a panaderia that churned out freshly baked pandesal throughout the day.  In our neighborhood, it was about 3 blocks away.  It was open 24 hours everyday and during the school year, we would buy pandesal at 5 o’clock in the mornng.  But when school was out, we would take our dogs for a walk around the neighborhood at midnight and head to the bakery!  Aside from pandesal, I would buy Spanish bread and ensaymada!

Pandesal, literally, means salted bread.  It is ironic, though, because pandesal is actually a bit sweet.

I couldn’t find a no-knead recipe for pandesal so I improvised by using the basic no-knead recipe I’ve using but I added sugar!  I also substituted part of the water with an egg.

It was a success!  At least for my half of the dough… as pandesal I mean…

When E realized that making the pandesal was more complicated than he thought, he decided that his half of the dough would be baked as a boule!

He did say that he found it a bit weird because it tasted like pandesal but did not look like it!

Anyway, going back to the recipe, it is basically the no knead bread from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” with sugar added and egg substituted for part of the liquid.  I halved the recipe, which makes about 20 to 24 pieces.  The beauty of it is, first of all, no knead!  Secondly, I can simply bake enough pandesal each day and store the dough in the fridge for the following days.

1-1/3 cups water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon melted shortening
7g instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine salt
3-1/4 cups bread flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
breadcrumbs

Mix everything together in a large container with a vent in the cover.  Leave the container at room temp for about 2 to 3 hours, until the dough rises and the top is flattened.  Store in the fridge overnight.

The following day, take out 1/3 or 1/2 of the dough with floured hands (cut with scissors).  Roll out and form a long cylinder.  Roll in breadcrumbs.  Slice the log into 8 or 12 pieces.  Arrange on a baking sheet that is oiled and sprinkled with breadcrumbs.  Leave to rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.  Meanwhile preheat oven to 400F.  Bake pandesal about 10 minutes.  To make sure bread is done, inner temperature should register 195F when tested with an instant thermometer.

 

 

 

Congee? Lugaw? Arroz Caldo?

When I was a kid, we regularly had congee… on most Sundays we had lunch at a Chinese dimsum restaurant and the main meal was either noodles or congee.  My favorite was Lean Pork and Century Egg Congee, sans the fresh egg!

Sadly that restaurant no longer exists.  But my favorite congee variant is pretty common and can be found virtually in any Chinese dimsum restaurant!

At the same time, we had lugaw too.  As I knew it, lugaw is a plain, no flavor, thick but at the same time watery rice that was usually served to me when I was not feeling well.  Needless to say, I do not have nice memories of lugaw!

And then, there is arroz caldo… rice gruel that is savory and deliciously seasoned – with ginger strips, chicken or beef tripe, spring onions, fried garlic!

What’s the difference?  Darned if I know!!!! all of them are rice porridge/gruel dishes.  As far as I am concerned, lugaw is straight-up rice and water and nothing else… great for calming an upset stomach or relieving a headache…

As for congee and/or arroz caldo, I feel they are the same just with different flavor profiles.

In any case, we all know that the secret is to keep stirring the pot, otherwise the rice sticks to the bottom and the dish would be ruined.

But I am too lazy to stand by the stove and stir, so I make mine in my magic cooker (thermal cooker)… which I truly believe is the easiest way to make congee.  It does, however, take a certain amount of time, so I always begin the night before.

8 cups chicken stock
1/2 to 3/4 cup rice

1 large thumb of ginger
1 small onion, whole, skin peeled off and ends sliced off
spring onions, sliced finely

800 grams chicken, cleaned, chopped into serving pieces
50 grams fresh enoki mushrooms
50 grams fresh shiitake mushrooms

salt and pepper, to taste
sesame oil, to taste
toasted garlic or fried garlic

How easy is this recipe?  Well, it is as easy as dumping everything (not including the condiments – salt, pepper, sesame oil, garlic) in the inner pot and letting it boil for 15 minutes before putting the inner pot into the magic cooker and letting it sit overnight.

The next morning, I just reheat the pot (the pot looks very much undone when it is first opened but a few minutes on the stove and the magic is seen!), give the dish several stirs and the congee is done.  What is left is to season, garnish and serve the dish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginataang Mais at Sago

Coconut is abundant in our country. No wonder we have many dishes that use it – be it savory or sweet.  And as main dish, side dish or dessert, coconut-based dishes are a big favorite of mine!

An example of a dessert dish that is an absolute favorite is Ginataang Mais – literally corn cooked in coconut.  But this is a bit of a misnomer because sticky rice, or sweet glutinous rice is also a part of the dish.  In my case, though I veer from the mainstream and add sago – tapioca if I am not mistaken.  This sweet dessert contains all my favorites – coconut, sticky rice, corn, and sago!

My cast of characters –

4 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup muscovado, or to taste
1/2 cup sticky rice (sweet glutinous rice)
1-1/2 cups shredded corn, preferably fresh from white sticky corn
1 cup thick coconut cream
1/2 to 1 cup sago (tapioca)

Mix coconut milk and sugar together in a thick-bottomed saucepan.  Heat on medium fire.  Add the sticky rice.  When the mixture boils, stir the mixture so the rice does not stick to the bottom.  Reduce the heat to low-medium, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Cook about 15 to 20 minutes then add the corn kernels.  Cook until the rice is done (don’t overdo it through), add the coconut cream and sago.  Let simmer a few minutes.  Adjust sweetness, if desired.  Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Ube Bars

My brother tells me that ube bars are common in various neighborhood panaderia (bread bakery).  I felt insulted.  Not my kind of ube bars, I said.  Mine are special!

I set to work to prove him wrong.

My bars have a lovely thick bottom crust… and the ube filling is full of ube flavor – not from a flavoring agent but from the real thing!  And there is a thin, crackly crust on top too.

He sent me a pm a day later – he ate his words.  He said – Definitely not panaderia fare!

Whoooo hooooo!

(The little girl is likewise enamored with it!)

 

Suman sa Kamoteng Kahoy

I don’t have an English translation for this – when I searched (in Google) for what it is in English, most sites said it was a rice cake of sorts.  But this is not strictly true since there are many kinds of suman, and while most are made of rice and/or rice flour, not all suman is made of rice/rice flour…

This suman in particular.  This suman is made from kamoteng kahoy or cassava.

And this is the kind of suman that I loved as a child.  Unfortunately, in recent times, it has been gussied up so much (with chocolate, too much sweetener, etc.) that I can’t find my favorite childhood suman!!!  hmpf.

I want the plain, simple suman!

It is not difficult to make, really. BUT, BUT, what is complicated is processing the cassava.  I had always been warned to be careful because choosing the wrong kind of cassava or making a mistake in grating or processing it means danger – it is said to have a poisonous compound!

Then, wonder or wonders, I found frozen grated cassava in a specialty store!

And of course I set to work making my favorite!!!

1 kilo frozen, grated cassava, thawed
1 young coconut, grated (drink the water, it is healthy!!!)
muscovado sugar, depending on taste, 250grams to 450grams

banana leaves, passed through heat to soften

Just how easy is it?

Mix the thawed grated cassava with the coconut strips and sugar. Wrap in banana leaves. Steam about 30 minutes. Done.

Then enjoy!

Tuyo Fried Rice

I made the mistake of buying spicy tuyo instead of spicy bangus… and while I enjoy eating tuyo, I rather hate the smell it gave out as it is being cooked. I realized, however, that the bottled variety offered the solution – it was good straight out of the bottle!

My other problem though, is how to finish the whole bottle, since it appears that I am the only one in our household who like tuyo!

This morning i found out that it it a good addition to flavor garlic fried rice.

The way I make garlic fried rice has no specific recipe. I just use several cloves of fresh garlic, whatever leftover rice still sits in the rice cooker, and salt! For tuyo fried rice, just add the tuyo, mash it a bit and use less salt, that’s it.

So basically i smashed about 4 cloves of garlic and chopped them roughly. The garlic gets thrown into a hot wok followed by 2 to 3 pieces of tuyo (herring in English). Mash the tuyo ad break into pieces. Then, before the whole house permeates with its smell, the day old rice is thrown in (if I had to be specific, I’d say about 3 cups or so). Cook until the rice is heated through. Season with sea salt, as desired. I go by instinct and throw in a large pinch each time and taste it until It tastes okay to me. Cook a little more until any solid pieces or flakes “melt” into the rice. Err on the side of caution since the tuyo is rather salty already.

Serve hot!

In my case I had it for breakfast with a fried egg and some ham. Yummmm!

Maruya (Banana Fritters)

There are days when I don’t think of my late father at all, but once in a while, his memory just invades my brain…

His death day is coming up and I just remembered one of his favorite foods – maruya, or banana fritters.  When I was a child, we made maruya by estimating the ingredients.  We didn’t have measuring cups or spoons then.  We went by the texture, more or less.

These days I like having measurements because I like that B can follow the recipe!

about 5 saba bananas, sliced diagonally
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, egg and milk together.  Add the banana slices.  Using 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure, pour mixture into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle some vanilla sugar on top.

Best served warm/hot.

Just a note – traditionally the bananas are sliced lengthwise and shaped into a fan shape, but I like mine in more manageable pieces so I sliced my saba bananas diagonally.