Thursday, December 24, 2009


The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
It's my favorite time of the year! Christmas makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and everything feels right...except that 2009 has been extra challenging for me in more ways than one. But still, when Christmas comes it just makes things so much better.
And now, it's that time of the month when all Daring Bakers around the world come together to rise up to the challenge! It was a pleasant surprise for me to find out that it was a gingerbread house. This is the first time I made one and I kept checking the forums for tips. I was not disappointed--everyone was kind enough to offer tips and suggestions. I did the recipe of Y and didn't have any problems with it. I made mine very simple :)
The gingerbread after coming out of the oven and cutting
I used extra pieces to hold everything together

The finished product--I have to control myself from eating some of the candies left over from decorating!

Beside the Christmas tree!
Thank you Anna and Y for choosing gingerbread house which I wouldn't do on my own but now have done so!

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge--SALMON EN CROUTE

The 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon En Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetabe En Croute) from Good Food Online.
Oh wow, it's that time of the month again for the Daring Cooks' Challenge!! And this time, I finished mine early!! I chose to make Salmon En Croute even though we were given the option to make Beef Wellington or Vegetable En Croute. Things are a bit hectic here in my part of the world, Christmas starts early in the Philippines, as soon as the "ber" months hits the calendar, everyone is on holiday mode already. The supermarket was full when I arrived at 11 in the morning but thankfully, I still managed to get a slab of salmon fillet, which is not available in the supermarkets near my house. I also chose to use spinach and cream cheese for my sauce. I didn't want to deviate too much from the recipe because I wanted the salmon to be the center of the show. I also made my own shortcrust pastry and didnt have any problems with it. It was the right consistency and wasnt tough at all when baked. And the colors were wonderful...
Spinach and Creamcheese sauce

Salmon on the rolled out shortcrust pasty

Spinach sauce on top of the salmon on top of the shortcrust pastry :)

My Salmon En Croute egg-washed and ready for baking, notice I used the star cut-outs to hide the almost-open pastry :)

The finished product!!
I was happy with this challenge and I think I will be using this recipe for our Christmas dinner on the 24th. The most important thing I did was to choose the freshest salmon I could find because in the end, salmon was the star of this dish.
Thank you Simone for choosing this challenge. A very merry Christmas to everyone!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crab Stick Open-faced Sandwich

It's always a ritual for me to eat a "snack" in the afternoon, when I take a break from working. Light almost always means a grilled cheese sandwich. But there are days when I just feel like eating something different, like this. I was supposed to put this as siding to one of my Sushi Daring Cooks' Challenge but I never got around to doing it. So I made it into an open-faced sandwich instead.
6 sticks crabstick, shredded
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon refined sugar
1 stalk celery, peeled and diced small
Mix shredded crabstick,mayonnaise, sugar until well combined. Add celery bits. Top on toasted sliced french bread. Top with parmesan cheese...Enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Braised Tofu and Mushrooms

I could say tofu is one of my favorite protein sources, there are days, I crave for it especially when I have back-to-back meat days...and this is one of my no-fail tofu recipes, full of taste and texture, I forget there's no meat in it.
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 block tofu, firm
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 piece onion, minced
2 pieces dried wood ear mushroom, rehydrated in hot water and sliced
1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 piece chili, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in
3 tablespoons water

Drain tofu, dice, dredge with flour and pan-fry until golden brown in preheated pan with oil. Drain excess oil, saute onions, garlic and chili. Combine soy sauce, and cornstarch dissolved in water. Add to pan. Cook until fragrant. Pour in mushrooms. Add back the tofu, and cook adding more water as necessary until sauce coats the tofu pieces. You may want to season with salt and pepper. Serve over hot rice.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I have always been fascinated with making my own bread, but it's not often that I have the luxury of time to do it. Today, I had no choice, I had to make time for it even if I was very busy. I made french bread, and sliced them into thin discs. It's part of a Christmas basket that I'm doing with friends. I usually follow the recipe for this in my Professional Baking book but I found this super simple fool-proof recipe online.


1 cup WATER, warm


1 1/2 teaspoons SALT

3 teaspoons YEAST

In a bowl, mix bread flour and yeast together. Dissolve salt in water. Add water a little at a time until dough comes together. You may not need to use all of the water--it's plus or minus. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for 8-10 minutes until dough is elastic. Round out the dough and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and put in a warm place to rise until double in volume about 1 hour. Punch dough to release gas, turn out onto floured surface, knead a little. Divide dough into 3 and form into logs. Make diagonal gashes with a knife. Place on greased and floured pans. Cover with towel and proof for 15 minutes. Before baking brush with a mixture of cornstarch and water. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool, slice into discs, brush with oil and bake for another 15 minutes. This can be used as base for bruschetta. There's nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread filling the kitchen...yum...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Daring Bakers November 2009 Challenge--Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers's Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Mattichio Bastianich and the Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allan Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
It's that time of the month again for the Daring Bakers' Challenge. We were given an option to make our cannolis stacked if we didn't have the Cannoli forms. I tried to make my own forms by wrapping barbcue sticks that were sawed-off in half with aluminum foil. They came out okay but when i filled them, I didn't like the finished product. It's a good thing I also made some shapes for the stacked cannoli. I filled them with whipped cream sweetened with muscovado sugar, sprinkled them with flaked almonds and drizzled with melted couverture chocolate.
My stacked cannolis which tasted really yummy

Thanks Lisa Michele for this wonderful challenge! I can't wait for the December Daring Bakers' Challenge :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Romulo Cafe

I have been working non-stop lately and it has taken its toll on me, I needed a breath of fresh air to clear the cobwebs. I wanted to have a short escape from the realities of my world, but I didn't have time to go on a real vacation. After checking some blogs, I learned about Romulo Cafe which had just opened. The pictures intrigued me and I wanted to see for myself it the place was as photogenic as it looked. And it was a pleasant surprise to learn that it was a stone's throw away from where I lived!

So...last Friday, I called them to reserve a table. And Saturday lunchtime, my cousin and I were parking on the side. The real thing did not disappoint. The place was really nice, it was a white structure (I think it used to be a big white house on that corner). We asked for our table and we were led to the main dining area which was in black and white. It was very nice. The placemats were also in black and white as well as the paper napkins. The food was Filipino comfort food, there was none of the usual Pinoy "fusion" cuisine and instead it was all very simple and straightforward. We ordered the Chicharon (pork skin crackling) for starters, it was served with Pinakurat vinegar-spicy vinegar made from fermented coconut. It was all wiped out within minutes. I could have sipped the vinegar on its own :) We also ordered the Monggo soup which had chicharon bits and malunggay leaves (Moringa) and ampalaya (Bitter Gourd) leaves but I detected a hint of something else--dare I say it's wansuy (coriander)?
For the main dishes, we ordered Bangus Belly in Banana Leaves (Milkfish), which was served with a special sisig sauce (I didn't like the sauce because I was expecting something else) I shuld have saved some of the Pinakurat vinegar for this.
I wanted to try their version of Beef Caldereta which was served with shavings of Quezo de Bola (Edam Cheese). I liked how the quezo de bola added its own taste to the spicy sauce. Of course we ate all this with plain pandan rice, steamed.
For dessert, we shared the Chocolate Lava Cake with Ice Cream which was what the server recommended, washed down with hot cups of brewed coffee sweetened with muscovado sugar.
It was a very pleasant experience, and I would definitely go back soon maybe in the evening to see how it looks and try the other dishes. They also have private dining rooms which are color-themed, all of which are pretty.
And did I say that the prices are very affordable?

32 Scout Tuason Corner Scout Dr. Lazcano
Tomas Morato Quezon City

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge--寿司

My Red Dragon, with tomato scales and green wasabi eyes
Spiral Rolls made with crab meat and mangoes, and the other one with hot dog, cucumber and mangoes

Nigiri made of Hot dog and Crab stick

The November 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.
It's that time of the month again when all the Daring Cooks around the world gather (in cyberspace) and present their version of that month's challenge. This time, the challenge was sushi. I procrastinated until the last moment before I made this, and I'm sorry to say, I wasnt too happy with the end result: note to self--do not procrastinate! There was no avocado in the supermarket so I used tomatoes for the dragon's scales and made mine a Red Dragon :)
For the spiral rolls, I wasnt too imaginative and chose the safe and easy crabstick and paired it with mangoes on one version and mangoes with cucumber for the next one.
Same with the nigiri, I chose hot dog, and crabstick. I enjoyed making this but definitely next time, I'm going to start early!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge: Pho with Jaden of Steamy Kitchen!!!

It's that exciting time of the month again, when Daring Cooks from all parts of the world join together and post their own versions of the DC challenge of the month. To be honest, I almost didn't make it. September was very challenging for me, because last September 26, a super typhoon hit my country and devastated most of the capital. This was especially hard because the community we lived in was completely submerged in water, we lost our pets, our cars and our home in the span of 6 short hours. I was not home when it happened, I was safe at work but my mom and brother and sisters spent almost 24 hours on the 3rd floor attic of our kind neighbors. When you lose everything (material), you suddenly realize the most important things are not material things. I cried and thanked God when I finally saw my family the next day. Sadly we were not able to get much of what was left in the house because when the water went down, mud coated everything. But, we are in a better place now and moving to another place, starting anew is very exciting and challenging.
I am glad I did this challenge, Vietnamese food is a favorite in my family and it was very rewarding to make it on my own.
The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.
• Frying pan• Large stockpot• Tongs• Strainer, sieve or colander• Bowls for serving
Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions
Servings: Makes 4 servings
For the Chicken Pho Broth:

2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off

Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

For the wonton dessert, I made mine into a sweet potato tower. I fried the wonton wrappers and stacked them in between sweet potatoes cooked in caramelized sugar and drizzled them with chocolate ganache.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bistek Tokwa

2 cubes firm tofu (tokwa)
1 piece white onion, sliced into rings
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 pieces calamansi, juiced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup canola oil

Slice tokwa into cubes. Dredge with cornstarch, salt and pepper. Preheat pan with canola oil. Pan-fry tokwa until golden but not crispy. Drain tokwa on paper towels. Pour off excess oil from pan and cook onion rings. Combine calamansi juice, soysauce and water. Pour into pan and cook with onion. Add in cornstarch dissolved in water and cook for one minute. Add back fried tokwa and cook for another 5 minutes until coated with sauce. Serve hot.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spicy Pork Adobo

There are 7,107 islands (low tide) in the Philippines and I bet there are as many recipes for Adobo as well. Philippine adobo is usually any kind of meat (chicken, pork, beef or sometimes lamb) that has been braised in a mixture of garlic, peppercorn, bay leaf, vinegar and soy sauce--which is the basic recipe. This varies from every region and every household I think. My version for today's lunch follows the basic recipe but I chose to make it spicy with the addition of bird's eye chili (siling labuyo) and cornstarch to thicken the sauce a bit.
250 grams pork belly (liempo)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 piece bird's eye chili (siling labuyo), chopped
2 cups water
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons cold water
Slice pork belly into even-sized cubes. Place meat, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorn, chili and water in a pot. Boil for 10 minutes until vinegar is cooked, do not stir. Bring the heat to low and simmer until pork is tender--the mixture can be stirred at this point. When the meat is tender, remove to a plate. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to pan, let the mixture boil until it is thickened. Pour over meat.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stir-fried Tofu and Snap Peas

Im trying to go back to eating healthy these days--really trying. And now that I moved to a new place and living on my own, I think I may just make it. Back at my parent's place, the fridge was always full of tempting chocolates, cakes and other "sinful" delights which I can't resist no matter how I tried! So in my own fridge, I opted to keep these things to a minimum and stocked up on fruits, vegetables, yogurt and the like. For today's lunch I stir-fried tofu and snap peas.
2 blocks firm tofu, cubed
1/2 cup snap peas, cleaned
1 clove garlic, minced
1 piece bird's eye chili, sliced
1 tablespoon salted black beans, mashed
4 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
Sauce mixture
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon less-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 cup water
Slice tofu into small cubes, dredge with 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper. Preheat pan with oil and pan-fry tofu until golden, drain off excess oil on paper towel-lined plate. In the same pan, saute garlic, chili and salted black beans until fragrant. Pour sauce mixture and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add back tofu, coat with sauce and pour in snap peas. Add 1/4 cup water and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Serve over hot rice.

Monday, September 14, 2009


It's that special time of the month for the Daring Cooks' Challenge! For this month Debyi from is the host for the September 2009 Daring Cooks challenge and has chosen Indian Dosas from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal.
This recipe was very new to me because it was a "no-animal product/gluten-free" cooking. It was the first time for me to try out a vegan recipe. But I love Indian food and I decided to go ahead and try it. Spelt flour is not widely available here in Manila so I looked up other alternative no-gluten flours and I came across rice four which is not only available but very cheap here. So I made my dosas with rice flour. For the filling, I opted to use potatoes instead because I really dont like chickpeas. I followed the recipe for the coconut curry. I served this to my mom and sisters and cousin and they liked it. I steamed jasmine rice and served it alongside the indian dosas and I slathered the yummy coconut curry over everything. They liked it so much that I wished I made more. Thank you Debyi for this challenge!

Indian Dosas
Serves 4
Equipment needed:
large bowl
griddle or skilletladle (or large spoon)
vegetable peeler &/or knife
large saucepan
food processor or bean masher

Dosa Pancakes
1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
¾ cup (175ml/6oz) watercooking spray, if needed

Dosa Filling
1 batch Curried Garbanzo Filling (see below), heated

Dosa Toppings
1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated
¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut
¼ cucumber, sliced

Dosa Pancakes
1.Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
2.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
3.Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.

Curried Garbanzo Filling
This filling works great as a rice bowl topping or as a wrap too, so don't be afraid to make a full batch.
5 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

1.Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
2.Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

Coconut Curry Sauce
This makes a great sauce to just pour over rice as well. This does freeze well, but the texture will be a little different. The flavor is still the same though.
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, diced

1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2.Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
3.Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
4.Let it simmer for half an hour.Happy eating!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chicken Curry

It's been raining non-stop here in Manila for more than a week now. Gray skies, cooler weather and the urge to just stay home and curl up in bed with a good book is on my mind all the time. But alas for mortals like me, it's not possible. But thank God for off days, when there is nothing to do but rest and recharge at home! And I can take my time and cook to my heart's content :) Today is my off day and I stayed home and cooked lunch.
There was chicken in the fridge this morning which I've been wanting to cook since the middle of the week but couldn't decide what I wanted to do with it. And today I finally decided to make Chicken Curry.
4 pieces chicken thighs, cut into 2
3 pieces tomatoes, diced
1 piece onion, peeled, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1 small piece ginger, peeled, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
6 tablespoons yogurt, plain
4 tablespoons canola oil
salt to taste
Preheat pan over medium heat. Pan-fry chicken pieces until golden but not cooked through. Remove to plate and set aside. Drain excess oil from pan and saute onion, garlic and ginger until soft and fragrant. Add spices and cook for another minute. Pour yogurt, tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water, simmer. Add back chicken pieces and season with salt. Cook for another 20 minutes until sauce has thickened and chicked is cooked through. Serve with steamed rice.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chocolate Dream Cake

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Shaved Chocolate

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chocolate and Almond Dobos Torte--August Daring Bakers Challenge

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague
It's that time of the month again, when all the Daring Bakers get together to present the their own version of the current month's challenge!! This is my come back post after 5 months of non-blogging, and what a challenge it was! I was quaking in my clogs as I read the instructions for the Dobos torte. It looked deceptively simple but I knew it was far from the truth--so I prepared and thought about it, looking everyday at the forum and mentally taking note of all the experiences of my fellow DBs...and i waited until the last minute before I made it :)
I followed the recipe almost to the letter except that I used almonds and no hazelnuts. The most challenging for me was the caramel layer top, it stuck to the buttered parchment paper no matter how much I buttered it! But in the end, the result was well worth it because my friends oohed and aahed when they saw and more when they bit into the cake. The slices were gone in 5 minutes flat!
Thank you so much for this challenge, once again--I was able to make something which on my own, wouldn't have dared to try by myself!
· 2 baking sheets
· 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
· mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
· a sieve
· a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
· a small saucepan
· a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
· metal offset spatula
· sharp knife
· a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
· piping bag and tip, optional
Prep times
· Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
· Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
· Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
· Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

· 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
· 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
· 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
· 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
· pinch of salt

· 4 large eggs, at room temperature
· 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
· 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
· 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

· 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
· 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
· 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
· 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

· a 7” cardboard round
· 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
· ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:
NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.
1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.
1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.
Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:
1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.
Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos
1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish and Artichokes --DARING COOKS' CHALLENGE

The August Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Olga from Las Casas de Olga and Olga's Recipes. She has chosen Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish and Artichokes by Jose Andres one of the most important Spanish chefs at the moment.
He trained under well-known Ferran Adria at his three Michelin star restaurant El Bulli. José Andrés lives now in Washington DC and he owns several restaurants in Washington DC area (El Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel…).
Ingredients (serves 4):
4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
1 glass of white wine
2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
“Sofregit” (see recipe below)
300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person)
Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional

Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

SOFREGIT Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

2 tablespoons of olive oil
5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 Bay leaf
Touch of ground cumin
Touch of dried oregano
Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
Taste and salt if necessary

The finished product with the sofregit and the traditional allioli on the side.
This is my firs DC challenge and it was great when I found out that it was going to be a spanish rice dish which is very similar to paella--one of my favorite dishes to cook! The sofregit and the allioli added a whole new dimension to the overall taste of the dish. I made this recipe again but added chorizo (spanish sausages) and other yummy!
Thank you Olga for this wonderful challenge. I Had fun making the sofregit and the allioli.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paella in 15 Minutes

The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 300 years which inevitably has left the country a rich culinary heritage. One of the most beloved recipes is that of Paella. There are many versions of this dish in the Philippines depending on the region where the locals have modified it according to the abundant ingredients.
My Paella recipe has been handed down to me by family and friends and I have made it my own by incorporating their suggestions, not only do I use saffron (which by the way, is very expensive that some cooks here have omitted it from their recipe) but I also use tomato sauce to enrich the color and taste.
Here is the recipe of my own version of Paella
4 tablespoons OLIVE OIL
2 cloves GARLIC, peeled and slivered
1 piece WHITE ONION, minced
1 piece BELLPEPPER, cut into strips
1/4 kilo SHRIMPS, deveined
1/4 kilo PORK BELLY, cut into strips
1 big piece CHORIZO DE BILBAO, sliced diagonally
4 cups RICE, uncooked
8 cups CHICKEN STOCK, boiling
250 grams TOMATO SAUCE
pinch of SAFFRON
salt and pepper
Preheat Paella pan over high heat, at the same time boil the chicken stock. It is important that the stock is boiling over high heat to speed up the cooking process. Pour oil in the paella pan and brown the chicken thighs and pork belly, add garlic and onion, saute until vegetables are soft but not wilted. At this point, the chorizo may also be added in the pan. Add in the saffron threads, stir. Add in the rice and make sure it is coated with oil, pour in the tomato sauce stirring until it coats the rice and the meats. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully add the boiling stock. Lay the uncooked shrimps and the bellpeppers on top. Cover with aluminum foil and let it cook at high heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let it set for 5 minutes. Garnish with lemon slices and hard-boiled eggs before eating.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crispy Pata 2 Ways

After 5 months of non-blogging...I am back! And what better way to celebrate my coming back than making the staple of all celebrations big or small in Philippine celebrations--the Crispy Pata!
This recipe is very easy but time-consuming although, it really is all worth it when you bite into the crispy goodness of the fat layer and tenderness of the meat.
6 pieces GARLIC CLOVES, crushed
4-5 pieces of BAY LEAVES, dried
300 ml SPRITE or 7-UP
2 tablespoons of BAKING SODA
2 pieces PORK HOCK (about 1 kilo each) cleaned and trimmed
enough water to cover
1/4 cup good quality FISH SAUCE (patis)
In a big pot, boil pork hocks with garlic, whole peppercorns, bay leaves and sprite or 7-up with enough water to cover the meat for 30 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and cover. Boil for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until pork hock meat is tender. Drain meat and score with a knife, brush with the fish sauce. Cool and wrap in cling film--freeze overnight. In the morning thaw in the refrigerator.
There are two ways of cooking the crispy pata. The first one which is the traditional way of cooking it is to deep-fry it in a big pot of oil (enough to submerge the meat). The oil should have a temperature of 350 degrees farenheit or higher. This is to make sure that the skin is crispy. If the temperature is lower than 350 degrees farenheit, the hock will not cook properly and will be soggy inside because the oil will seep through the meat. The deep frying will take 15 minutes.
The other way of cooking it, which is what I did with mine is to cook it in the broiler for 40 minutes. I prefer it this way because the oil will drip down from the meat making it less "sinful". I found out that cooking it this way also produces a crispy skin.
Crushed Garlic, Dried Bay Leaves, Whole Peppercorns

Cleaned and Trimmed Pork Hocks

The Crispy Pata!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge-Flourless Chocolate Cake

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
When I read this challenge my mind went to overdrive trying to come up with complementary flavors for the cake and the ice cream. But after I had the flavors in mind, it suddenly dawned on me that the real challenge for me this month is making the ice cream without an ice cream maker! Thankfully the hosts and the other DBs included links to browse for people like me who would be making the ice cream manually.
I have done Nick Malgieri's flourless cake which I also blogged about so I wasn't too worried about the cake, however, I wanted it to have that something "extra"--I thought of mint but then I've always combined those two flavors. And then all of a sudden I looked at my spice shelf and the bottle of cayenne pepper winked at me (I swear, it did!) Voila! I had my flavor!! For the ice cream, I wanted it to be a palate cleanser so I chose Basil, my favorite herb.

Making ice cream manually is so rewarding, I am so thankful that I was able to dig up my ancient handheld mixer which I used on the ice cream every 2 hours. The final product was very smooth and the mouth feel was excellent, thanks to this challenge, I will be experimenting with more ice cream flavors from now on...

The cake was very dense and moist, it did not disappoint me. The kitchen smelled wonderful during and after baking it. The cayenne pepper combined beautifully with the rich chocolate flavor (I used Dark Sweet chocolate).

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

* 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper was added to the melted chocolate and butter before adding the eggyolks for the cake
**I used Dharm's Ice Cream recipe infusing the chopped fresh basil leaves in the fresh milk
***I also made strawberry coulis as accent on my plate, using a brush to spread it and covered my cake with chocolate icing

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Very Good News!

I'm sort of laying low nowadays, my brother went galivanting in Dubai taking the faithful point and shoot camera that I use for my food shots. But wonders of all wonders, I opened my email this afternoon and ta-dah!!! I got an email notification that my site was added to !!! I submitted an application a week ago and almost forgot about it. In case you were wondering what this site is, please check it out--I found out about it from one of my favorite blogs
Thanks Alltop!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Sweet Sixteen

February is a busy month for our household. On the first of this month, my baby sister celebrated her 16 th birthday, on the 7th-it was the 17th birthday of a sweet girl who is more like a sister than a family friend, today (which also happens to be Valentine's Day) is the 16th birthday of girl whom I consider to be my adopted little sister, and tomorrow (whew!) is my Dad's birthday! But that's another story...
I made red velvet cupcakes for C, today's birthday celebrant. I was thinking of frosting it with chocolate but at the last minute opted for the usual cream cheese frosting, I just beat 1 box of cream cheese with 1/4 cup of softened butter and 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar. I packed 16 pieces in a box and sent it off.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons
baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened
cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup water
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.
Line a 16-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350
degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yearning for Something Very Sweet

I heart Saturdays, not just because it's kick-off-your-shoes day but also because of the Salcedo Weekend Market which opens just on Saturdays at the Salcedo Village Park in Makati City. There you can find all sorts of tempting things laid out for all to salivate over and if the craving is too great, give in and fork over your hard earned cash in exchange for these goodies.
I have to confess I don't have much of a sweet tooth but when I do get an intense craving for sweets, one of the few things that can satisfy it is this melt-in-your-mouth butter cake. It looks and tastes so yummy. I gobble it all up and later on pay for it on the treadmill. But hey, it is worth it!

And the other one of course is this stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth Brazo de Mercedes. It tastes so good, I can finish two giant slices in one sitting. And what do you know, tonight, I am craving so bad, I just might brave the traffic and go all the way to the Salcedo Market!

Pinakbet and Prawns

Our family had a quick getaway early this week. We chose a fairly new resort in the south of Manila It was a very long drive because of roadside renovations along the SLEX or South Luzon Expressway but in the end it was all worth it. The resort was as breath-taking as the pictures on their website. And the food from the Menu was surprisingly good.
Here is another version of Pinakbet or Philippine-style Ratatouille. Instead of just pork crackling and shrimps, fried crispy fish was added to make it tastier. The usual vegetables, squash, string beans, okra and bitter gourd was still used.

We also ordered Prawns in Crabfat--doesn't sound so good but tastes divine! The Prawns were butterflied and then drizzled with sauteed crabfat and served with some vegetables which I didn't touch. But over all, our family enjoyed the time there and the food was very reasonably priced.