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!

 

Advertisements

Pineapple Cheesecake

For the last 7 years I have tried to make my sweetie a birthday cake. I usually make it on time but this year I am horribly late, which I blame on the little girl’s quarterly exams. But better late than never, right?

This year I decided on a “healthier” cake, fruit-based, and if my ancestral beliefs are true – lucky!

As a child I’ve often wondered why there were always red pineapple paper lanterns in most Chinese homes and business establishments. My mom always told me they were for good luck, though I never fully understood the reason. It only made sense to me when I was much much older, when it was explained to me that the Chinese name of the pineapple was a homonym for the words that meant ‘good luck come’. It also explained why pineapple desserts are popular in Chinese cuisine!

Anyway, for hubby’s __th (his 38th, he vehemently insists) birthday, I wish him good luck and great fortune with this Pineapple Cheesecake!

For the pineapple cake base –

Heat 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice and cook until reduced by at least half; make sure there’s 3 tablespoons. Let cool. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 7-inch springform pan with greaseproof paper.

Stir together 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1 egg, 3 tablespoons canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons pineapple juice “concentrate”. Mix well. Fold in 1/3 cup fully drained crushed pineapple.

Place batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.

For the no-bake pineapple cheesecake layer –

Beat 300 grams cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add 1/3 cup sugar and mix well. Add 1/3 cup thick Greek-style yogurt, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mi well. Fold in 1/2 cup fully drained crushed pineapple. Pour over fully cooled cake. Chill at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

For the pineapple topping –

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Add 1/4 cup butter. Heat over medium-low heat to a gentle boil. Simmer about 75 seconds; mixture should be thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of Caribbean rum (one with coconut overtones preferred). Stir in 1/2 cup fully drained crushed pineapple. Let cool completely. Spread a thin layer of the topping on the cheesecake. Unmold from the pan. Keep chilled.

Note – the crushed pineapple should be fully drained otherwise texture of the cake will be affected; the cheesecake layer might not set properly and the topping may turn watery (and become sauce instead of topping).

I did not spread a full layer of the topping on the cheesecake, opting instead for a decorative garnish. My reason is a personal one – I wanted enough topping left over so I could make some pineapple tartlets!

Belated Happy Birthday Sweetie!

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.

 

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!