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.

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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Paksiw na Pata

Paksiw is basically a stew with vinegar as the main “spice” or seasoning. Pata is pork leg. So Paksiw na Pata is pork leg braised in a vinegar stewing liquid.

I have a go-to Paksiw na Baboy (Chinese-style) recipe that was my late father’s second favorite dish (after adobo, or so I have been told) but after a friend extolled her super-easy paksiw na pata recipe, I decided to try it. She had me at “It’s a dump-everything-recipe!”.

The secret, she says, is to find, not pork leg per se, but pork leg slices that are about 1 -inch thick, and that have been already trimmed of most of its fat and yes, virtually no skin on them. She even recommended to me her favorite meat shop that prepares such pork leg slices! There is even no need to cut the pork leg into serving pieces because, as she says, the pressure cooker does it for you! And no need to parboil too!

She graciously gave me permission to print her recipe.

3 large pieces pork leg slices, already trimmed and cleaned
(about 1 kilo total)

3/4 cup sukang sasa (native vinegar)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
a large pinch of sea salt (may be omitted, if desired)
3 pieces bay leaves
about 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon smashed peppercorns (not ground pepper)
1 whole bulb of garlic, smashed
about 3/4 to 1 cup water
a handful of banana blossoms, knotted (softened in water if necessary)

And just as she says, simply rinse the pork leg pieces and place them in the pressure cooker (I have a small one that’s just perfect for a kilo or so of meat).

Dump the sukang sasa, soy sauces, brown sugar, salt, bay leaves, oregano, peppercorns, and garlic into the pot. Add just enough of the water to barely cover the pork.

Pressure cook about 30 to 40 minutes (start the timer after the cooker starts “whistling”). I cooked mine for 40 minutes because we like really soft meat. Wait for the pressure to be released before opening the pot. Add the banana blossoms and simmer uncovered another 5 to 10 minutes (the sauce should thicken slightly)

Adjust the seasonings as desired.

(Easy peasy yummy!)

Oh, a note about the vinegar – sukang sasa is a local Filipino vinegar fermented  from nipa palm, also known as sukang paombong.  If unavailable, regular cane vinegar may be used but reduce the amount by half or a third, because it may be too strong.  Use your personal judgment to adjust the sourness of the dish.

 

Adobong Manok at Atay

Chicken and Liver Adobo

My family prefers the pork variety of adobo to the chicken variety. But hubby and B’s lola like liver; and liver cooked adobo-style is especially tasty for them. So, since the other family members do not particularly care for liver, I mix in chicken so that everyone can eat! Win-win, right?

My recipe for Chicken and Liver Adobo is a bit different from our favorite pork adobo, although the basics are similar – adobo is adobo after all.

500 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
300 grams chicken liver (remove any other attached organs)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons sukang puti
1/2 cup chicken stock or plain water, or more as needed
Bay leaf

First thing to do is to mix the adobo sauce together – soy sauce, vinegar and half of the smashed garlic. Let it sit for a minutes while the chicken and liver are being cleaned. I remove the white fatty, slimy thingies from the chicken and slice each piece in half to form chunky pieces. Clean the liver as well and remove any slime, and other non-liver parts.

Marinate the liver in about 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce, and the chicken in the remainder of the sauce. Do not marinate together in the same bowl.

Meanwhile, heat some canola oil in a pan. Flash fry the liver but do not cook all the way through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add oil in the pan, if needed. Sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add the peppercorns. Add the chicken pieces (don’t pour in the marinade yet). Stir fry a couple of minutes, until the surface of the chicken is lightly browned. Pour in the rest of the marinade and the chicken stock; add the bay leaf as well. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked just about through.

Pour in the liver and simmer several seconds more or until the liver is just cooked. It is crucial not to over-cook the liver.

This is the saucy, soupy kind of adobo. For the other kind – the oily kind, take the chicken (and liver if desired) out of the sauce/soup and sauté for a few minutes in hot oil, adding adobo sauce if necessary. And that’s it!

Now, I have beed asked a few times why I flash fry the liver first and add it again later. Honestly I don’t know the reason. All I know is, that has been the way it has been done in the family. I will admit, however, that at one time I was feeling lazy and skipped the flash frying of the liver and just dumped it toward the end of the cooking. It just was not the same… so even if I was feeing lazy, I didn’t skip the flash frying… instead I would skip the pre-marinating part! 🙂

Adobo, My Way

For Independence Day, this dish is perfect.  After all, it is national dish of the Philippines (well, not officially…). Seriously, I don’t know anyone who does not like it, even if everyone has varying preferences – salty, tangy, oily, saucy, mixed, double cooked… as it is claimed, indeed, that there are a million and one ways to cook it.

But the adobo that I like and cook at home these days is one where a bit of my ancestry shows through – with banana blossoms (which some say are really lily buds but that’s another story…)

I also like my adobo with bay leaves and boiled eggs… in addition to being all pork, specifically belly part (although on occasion I also use kasim or pork shoulder), where I try to find ones that have very little pork fat (otherwise we trim off as much as we can). And as much as I like pork adobo, I’m really not a fan of the chicken variant, don’t know why.

Anyway, here is my recipe.  It is pretty standard, although I use my magic cooker –

5 to 6 strips of pork liempo (about 750 to 1000 grams), cut into cubes (we trim a lot of fat off…)
1 whole bulb garlic, cloves smashed
2 to 3 large pieces bay leaves, crumbled
1 cup soy sauce (I use light soy sauce)
1/2 cup native vinegar
a handful whole black peppercorns, lightly smashed
1 cup water
a handful of banana blossoms, rehydrated, tough ends cut off
hard boiled eggs (optional)

Clean the pork and place into the inner pot of the magic cooker. Add garlic, bay, soy sauce and vinegar. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Place the pot on the stove, add water and cook (simmer) over low-medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir only after the mixture has bubbled (initial boil). Place the inner pot in the magic cooker and let it sit for at least 30 to 40 minutes.

Return the inner pot to the stove. Add the banana blossoms and boiled eggs. Lightly stir the mixture. Let simmer about 10 minutes. Return to the magic cooker and let sit until meat is tender – another 30 minutes or so.

Adjust the seasonings. I know some people like a really salty, or a salty-sweet adobo, but personally I like mine adobo tangy and only a bit salty so I’ve been known to add a little more vinegar (the banana blossoms add to the tanginess, too).

Yummmmyyy!!! And perfect with ice cold coke (diet or zero). Where’s the rice????