Christmas Dinner 2016

First off, Merry Christmas everyone, here’s to a prosperous 2016. So for Christmas dinner, a big event in the Philippines, more like Thanksgiving in the US. I say this because the Philippines is primarily a Christian nation and the birth of Jesus is traditionally celebrated in gratitude for the blessings and as a way for families and friends to gather and break bread.

I’m afraid I didn’t even had the chance to properly decorate the table the way I wanted to or to dress up, I told the guests to come in red or green. My menu is not complementary but is designed to appeal to diverse palates. I will share the recipes later.

Homemade ham
Macaroni salad
Mashed potatoes
Green bean-casserole
Pochero
Dinuguan
Hokkaido Dinner Rolls
Graham fruit cocktail
Leche Flan
Banana Bread

My brother brother brought Thai seafood noodles, while another brought salted eggs.

While we still had Christmas Eve dinner, which is just us a a few friends, as the family wanted to have dinner privately with their own immediate family. We had guests as early as mid-morning, they brought kutsinta (rice cake) and suman (also made of sticky rice) and a block of ham from  another cousin who has a meat processing plant.

All in all, it was a happy occasion, MERRY CHRISTMAS, hope you had a wonderful celebration.

Recipe: Soft and Moist Milk Bread – Mildly Successful

Remember my failed moist bread post ? Got fresh yeast and redid it, I’d say it is mildly successful. But no, I am not giving up yet he he.

I used a convection oven toaster as my oven does not really heat up properly, but then again, I didn’t adjust the temperature and the amount of bake time.

My brother was looking for fill-ins, like raisins and such, that’s how good this recipe is, it is soft and moist. I love it, will I do it again, yes, hoping that I will be able to say, SUCCESS.

Notes: Fresh yeast is highly recommended, Oh I used all purpose flour instead of bread flour will try to use one next time. The roux made a lot of difference, refrigerated in the prescribed manner.

Cheers–

This recipe was adapted from The Culinary Corner repeated and edited here for convenience and clarity.

Ingredients

300g bread flour
30g sugar
8g yeast
25g milk powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs (1 for egg wash)
50g whipped cream

Roux
20g bread flour
1/2 cup water

Equipment

Stand mixer with hook attachment
bread pan
cooling rack
heavy-bottom sauce pan
spatula

Directions

  1. Cook the roux, mixing the flour and water on a small heavy bottom sauce pot, on the stove-top over medium heat, stirring constantly using a spatula. You want a pasty consistency and the water fully evaporated.  Store in a covered container or saran wrap, this is to avoid the film crust on top. Store in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Once done, add the in this order bread flour, roux, sugar, milk powder, yeast, salt, egg and whipping cream in a mixing bowl of your stand mixer and start kneading on low speed slowly adding the the milk.
  3. Continue kneading for at least 15 minutes on medium speed. The dough will be sticky, yet elastic.
  4. Remove from bowl with floured hands and transfer on a flour-dusted work surface, knead for another 2 minutes
  5. Put the dough in a greased bowl and leave in a warm place until double in size. I find it effective to let it sit near the pre-heating oven.
  6. Take the raised dough and put that on to a floured bench and divide in to 4 equal parts.
  7. Roll dough into a rectangular shape, fold one side to the middle and the other side (folding it three-ways) roll the dough again to flatten. Starting from the edge roll towards the end, put in the greased bread pan. Let it rise again. Once it has doubled in size, almost the lip of the bread pan.
  8. Brush the top with beaten egg (egg wash) and bake at 180c for about 40 to 45 min. (Use the lower rack to bake bread if not using fan bake.)
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe: Cake Pops

Three or so years ago, cake pops became  new fad, not just for kids but for grown ups, as well. I say a fad because it is available in Starbucks, Whole Foods, and even in fancy bakeshops. My friend, the ultimate baker, Nikki introduced me to cake pops, she was so good at it that friends started ordering from her.

Cake Pops are actually cake mashed, mixed with cream cheese frosting, balled, and decorated.  Rather pleasing to the eye, tastes good, and the portion is small.:)

The first time I made it, I used a boxed cake mix and a tinned cream cheese frosting, Hines brand. Gifted a friend for her daughter’s birthday, at that time it was difficult for me to control the candy melts.

This time I made the cake from scratch, using this recipe also, used her cream cheese frosting, but the tinned one would have worked better. Martha Stewart also has a cream cheese frosting recipe . So 9 x 13 cake done, cooling on a wire rack on the tray, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Once cooled, remove the edges of the cake to ensure that you have a smooth pop, mash the cake with plastic gloved hand, add the cream cheese frosting gradually while mixing. You don’t want a frost rich mixture as the frosting acts as a binder, otherwise it will be gooey and will not stay on the stick. You want to be able make balls of this mixture, so it will look packed to be able to stand on the pop stick. Using an ice cream scoop, for an even amount, scoop the batter and roll into ball rest on a lined cookie sheet. Once done, refrigerate for at least an hour, the longer the better. While it is cooling gather your materials, as follows:

pop stick
1 bag candy melts
sprinkle
small plastic bags
ribbon

You will also need a cake pop holder available at Michael’s.

I used a chocolate melter, fondue maker or a mini slow cooker will also do the trick, instead of microwaving. Start melting the candy melts, it takes longer using the melter but less tedious, add vegetable oil, lard,  or butter never water to make it smoother.

Oh, you can use different colors, mix colors (red and yellow will make orange, etc.) or you can dip half with one and the other half with another color.

Remove the balls from the fridge, dip the stick first at least a quarter of an inch in the melt, before sticking it in the center of the ball. This will act as a glue and the bottom of the ball will make the ball stay because of the residue left when you pushed the stick unto the ball. Complete this process first to give it time to dry. Put it back in the same tray holding the balls.

Now you’re ready for the fun part, if you don’t have a cake pope holder or rack you can use a lined sheet, to rest your dipped and decorated ball to dry. Dip it once, for a perfect ball, unless you want to use drips as part of the decoration. Immediately put your sprinkles and decorate as the wet candy will glue it. However, if you are painting, you need to let it dry thoroughly, otherwise, the candy will mix with your paint. Rest gently on the lined sheet, otherwise a dented flat top pop (no pun intended:).

It is best to have your sprinkles in “mise en plahs” for easy access. Once you have completed this task, let it dry completely, put in small bags and tie with a ribbon. Voila! you now have cake pops, which can be arranged in bouquets as a present or stand in scotch glasses, the possibilites are endless.

Oh, you can save the left over candy by letting spreading it on your lined tray that you used earlier, make sure though that there are no stray sprinkles. Let it dry, then break it up, put in a zip lock save it for future use, I find it convenient to save my candy melts in the fridge. In this case, I put my leftover melters on silicone ice tray, to be enjoyed as a candy. I guess, you can add nuts, chocolate chips, M&Ms, etc. in between, add sprinkles then you really have good candy.

Notes:  

  1. This is a good way of dealing with left over cakes, just make sure that you use the cake part only.
  2. Consider your location, now that I am in the Philippines, where temp is in the 80′, heat can cause the batter to loosen, so I tend to let it stay in the fridge, even the finish product is now sitting in the fridge. This is also the reason why I suggested to go easy on the cream cheese frosting. Also, the reason why my candy melts are stored in the fridge.
  3. Naked cake balls can be frozen for future use, completely defrost by letting it sit in the fridge, before dipping.
  4. Cake balls can be made in advance up to four days (at least in my experience), just not sure if it can stay that long:)
  5. Great activity for kids, I prepare the balls with the stick and dipped dry and let them decorate.

Cheers–

 

Travel Dining:River boat restaurant, Capiz

This is reminiscent of the ferry ride along the Mississippi River, post Yolanda, the operator was lamenting about the ravages caused by the typhoon.  This is actually a floating cottage pulled by  motor/pump boat, up and back a stretch of the river. It is very serene, great for relaxation. I saw on TV that they do offer spa treatment while on board. I think it is about a 3-hour trip. So wonderful, so relaxing. Highly recommended.

The offerings were quite good, grilled fish, noodles, fruits, barbecue pork, and stewed chicken. A pretty good selection. Here are some of the pictures.

Note: Double on the image to enter the gallery.

 

Travel Dining: Roxas City, Capiz

Homecooked meals were  a feast in itself, seafood, even a whole lechon, or chicken etc. Still for a change of scenery, baybay is still the best choice. What better way to savor your meal,  than being around nature. There are at least 3 restaurants in that district.  The menus are quite extensive, from a huge selection of seafood: stewed, grilled, fried, or anyway you want. The ambiance is laid back, just my style.

Oh, be mindful of the drinking water, insist on hot water or bottled water or try buko (young coconut) juice. And if you are dining al fresco as in this case, make sure you have apply “off lotion” to protect against mosquito bites (remember the Philippines is a tropical country). It is your best protection against dengue.  I did see on the news that there is a recent FDA approval for the antidote, still you want to be on the safe side.

Note: Double click on the image for a bigger image.

There are the regular fares downtown, that you see anywhere, Jollibee, Goldilocks, etc. but that is something that we don’t really look fSSoor when on vacation.

By the way, if you are vacationing on your own or with a group, staying at a homestead, you can always ask the host to prepare a meal for you, that is a cheaper alternative. Or partake of the street foods, it is safe and tasty.

Did you hear about that European guy who just packed up and left his country to be with his Filipina girlfriend? He is making money selling banana crepes (turon), as in selling street food. Their location is not very far from Capiz.

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Speaking of foreign diners, remember I was telling you in the previous post about the USNS Mercy docked in Capiz, so staff and crew are around the city is abuzz with activity, must be good for business. Of course, they are young and curious of everything different or new, in this case, of trying balut (fertilized duck egg). But then, that’s a story for another day. They found it nasty, it is after all an acquired taste.

Cheers –

Produce: Atis, sugar apple to you or Annona

Atis or sugar apple is common all over, except North America, at least that’s what wikipedia is saying. The scientific name is annona, but in the Philippines there is a fruit called anonas, the same texture but with smooth skin and the color is pinkish orange. The guyabano is slightly bigger and the skin is thorny which seems to be more related to cheremoya, (a fruit that is widely available in California) than to the aits.

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Growing up, we had atis trees in the backyard, so when we purchased this house, we thought we will plant the same trees and have that feel of being reminiscent of the old days. We keep saying, “we’re doing it for mom”, but the truth is we want to remember and at the same time share with Nicos, my nephew, how it was then.

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Anyway, the tree finally bore fruit, two in fact, which the resident birds just didn’t miss out on.

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Hah!, look at that wasted sweet organic goodness..

 

Recipe: Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies (penoybalutized)

This is the second time, I made red velvet cookies. The first time, I used Paula Deen‘s red velvet cream cheese sandwich cookies (just because I have cream cheese frosting handy). This time I used Sally’s baking addiction’s recipe.

You must be wondering why it’s not red, he he I don’t have red food coloring.  and I used white chocolate melters instead of chocolate chips.

Reading on various cookie version on the internet, I noticed that some uses corn starch for the soft chewy consistency. Martha Stewart indicated that there are 3 kinds of cookies: soft and chewy; crunchy; and thin. the difference lies in the amount of butter incorporated 2 sticks of butter will make the cookie spread out into a thin and chewy cookie.

My friend Nikki, puts a packet of Knox gelatin powder, while another adds apple sauce as her sweetening agent. Although, it seems a little tricky then the consistency of the batter will be changed.

Refrigeration of the batter for at least an hour is a must. Of course,  the amount of time in the oven, which is 10-12 minutes rotating the tray halfway through the baking process.

My oven is a bit tricky, as it doesn’t seem to reach the desired temperature all the time, so I tend to let it bake for 5 extra minutes. Which works for me because my family has different preferences when it comes to cookies.

All in all it is a good recipe, will try to do it again, following the recipe to the letter.

Cheers —

life, yours, mine, theirs – loose, random — aging gracefully, discovering, cooking brazenly and eating wisely

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