Thursday, May 27, 2010

MAY 2010 - Daring Baker's Challenge : PIECE MONTÉE

Time sure flies when you're having fun! It's the 27th of the month again, and it's Daring Baker's time!!! But first, the mandatory blog checking lines...
The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri
I had a teacher once in Baking class who actually studied under Chef Nick Malgieri at Peter Kump's and he was all praises for Chef Nick and his style. Fast forward almost 8 years after and I was priveleged to attend The Modern Baker Seminar with Chef Nick here in Manila in 2008! He was exactly as I imagined him, very knowledgeable but at the same time he was funny and in touch with his audience. He's one of the pastry chefs that I truly admire. So when I read this challenge, I felt at ease that this recipe will definitely work, knowing it came from him.
Making pate a choux and creme patissiere wasn't new to me, I have made it a dozen times but assembling a crocquembouche ("crunch in the mouth") was! So it was understandable that I whizzed through baking the cream puffs and making the pastry cream, but the assembly time took a little more time and some burned fingers. I assembled everything in the summer heat which actually lessened the sensation of burnt fingers because I was distracted with wiping my brow several times or else my piece montee would be drowning in a pool of sweat--not a very appetizing scenario! I chose to assemble it with just the caramel glaze without the help of toothpicks or molds--I'm stubborn that way. Half-way through assembling and re-assembling though, I wished I had some sort of a mold because the cream puffs were falling all over themselves so I went crazy with my caramel "glue" and finally had my finished piece montee! If you look closely you can see where I had to apply more than usual, that's where it was falling apart.
I took this picture of my piece montee near the doors leading to the back of the house, I had to keep myself focused and not pick on it to munch on
I filled my cream puffs with Mango creme patissiere
Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch6 Tbsp.
(100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
* I added 1/4 cup of Mango puree to the egg and cornstarch mixture before incorporating the boiling milk
Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Preparing batter:Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Piping: Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
Baking: Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.
Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
Filling: When you are ready to assemble
your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.
Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.
Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place.
When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit
I enjoyed making this challenge as much as we enjoyed eating it after the pictures were taken! Thank you Cat for this wonderful challenge!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Restaurant Uno

This isn't the first time I ate at Restaurant Uno, I have eaten here a number of times but not as often as I want to. I have been reading a lot of good reviews about it lately so my interest was piqued again. I called them up about 2 days before my intended lunch with some of my friends and made my reservation for 12:30 noon on a sunny Saturday. I arrived about 30 minutes before my appointment, I was led to the main dining area upstairs. Our table was next to the unadorned windows. One of the most noticeable features of this restaurant is the elegant simplicity of the place, crisp white table linens, white plates. The walls were also white and the furniture wood, the floor was also a wood laminate which warmed the place. The waitstaff were smartly dressed in black. I remember they used to be in white a while back. I ordered coffee first. They brought me butter and the bread basket. The bread was really good. it was crunchy outside and inside was chewy.

I chose among the three soups they were offering and I decided on the Roasted Tomato Chili Soup, I wasn't disappointed! The taste was clean and really flavorful, this coupled with the bread was actually worth the lunch, I had to remind myself that I still had to eat the main course.
Among the entrees, the Pan-fried Catfish Stuffed with Spinach and Feta Baked with Roasted Garlic Cream, what a mouthful! The catfish was tender and the filling was just the right taste, I noticed that no one among us needed extra seasoning. We didn't ask for salt and pepper at all. Two of my friends ordered the Pork Shoulder Chops with Rosemary, Garlic and Dried Apricots while the other two settled for the Shrimp Al Diablo with Lemon Angel Hair Pasta.
And finally for dessert I had to go for their Cheesecake, one of the simplest and yummiest I've ever tasted. It was more like a Japanese Cheesecake type, and not the usual kind that we are used to but this one is definitely a winner. The Fallen Chocolate Cake is also very good, dense and rich in taste.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant. The dishes are simple and delicious, and the ambiance just invites you to linger a little while. And the best reason for going back is that the menu changes every so often, so that means, when I go back there would be a new set of mouthwatering dishes to be tried.

Restaurant Uno
195 Tomas Morato Corner Scout Fuentebella St. Q.C.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kulinarya Cooking Club May 2010--Pancit

Kulinarya Cooking Club's theme for this month is Pancit, or the ubiquitous pan-fried noodles at every occasion or celebration wherever Filipinos are found. I celebrated my birthday this month which meant I was able to share the pancit to people at work, perfect--because, I don't think pancit can be cooked in small quantities--it is meant to be shared and eaten with a lot of people, hence it is the perfect party food in my humble opinion. I've never really thought much about cooking pancit because it's always been there. It's not something I cooked during parties because there are more than enough pancit experts among family and friends. But this time, I had to do it on my own. There are so many choices for noodles but I chose pancit canton.

Pancit Canton
250 grams Chicken breast, deboned and sliced into strips (save the bones)
150 grams Shrimps, peeled and deveined (Save heads and peel)
2 pieces Shanghai sausages, sliced diagonally
1 piece Carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
1 piece Cabbage (small), sliced thinly
2 pieces White onions, minced
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Fish sauce (patis)
to garnish Wansuy (coriander leaves)
350 grams Pancit Canton noodles, dry
In a medium-sized pot, cover chicken bones, shrimp heads and peel with enough water. Boil over medium heat, turn down fire when boiling, skim the scum from the surface of the water and simmer gently (about 1 hour). You can do this step while preparing the other ingredients.
Slice the deboned chicken breast into strips. Devein the peeled shrimps and set aside in the refrigerator. Slice the sausages diagonally. Wash the vegetables. I removed the outer leaves of the cabbage before i sliced it into quarters. Slice the cabbage thinly. Peel the carrots and slice into rings, set aside.
Mince the onions and the garlic cloves.
Preheat pan or a wok which is perfect for cooking pancit. Pour in about 1/4 cup of oil. Add onions and garlic, cook until fragrant, pour in the sausages and the carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes or until carrots are soft. At this point you can add the sliced chicken. Add the cabbage and some of the stock. Cook until the vegetables are wilted and the water has evaporated. The chicken meat is also cooked at this time. Remove to a plate. In the same pan, pour the soy sauce and patis with approximately 2 cups of the stock, let it boil, add in the pancit canton noodles. Stir and cook until noodles are soft. Thicken the sauce by adding the cornstarch dissolved in water. When the sauce is thick, add back the cooked vegetables and chicken. Stir until well combined. Add the shrimps and continue cooking.
Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna + Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chiken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.
Wow, time does fly fast! I still remember doing last month's challenge and here I am posting this month's challenge again! To be honest, I didn't think I would be doing this challenge because I couldn't find tomatillos but then I read the other DC's posts on the forums that using green tomatoes was a good substitute and so here I am. I used green tomatoes instead of tomatillos and I'd have to say it really tastes good! So good that I ate it for lunch and then I ate another plate for dinner--all in one day :)
I wanted to stay as close to the original recipe, so I made it with the green tomatoes for the tomatillos, otherwise everything was the same as given recipe, oh and the peppers, I used local peppers here called siling haba since I can't find Anaheim chiles. The smell of the peppers and tomatoes being grilled was heavenly.
I also made a simple corn and mango salsa to go with my enchiladas, I just seasoned it with cayenne pepper, salt and a little lemon juice. It went very well with the rich taste of the cheese.
Thank you Barbara and Bunnee for this month's challenge, I enjoyed making this as much as eating it!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My First Foodie Exchange Package from Italy !

I love the idea of meeting new friends through my blog that's why I joined The Daring Bakers, The Daring Cooks, Kulinarya Cooking Club and now Foodie Exchange which is:
A group for foodies from around the planet who wish to exchange their local food specialties as a care package with other foodies
I received my first foodie exchange package today from Rossella of Milan, Italy. I felt like a little girl opening a present on Christmas day-- look what she sent me! Penne pasta, Extra-virgin Olive Oil, Nutella, Lentils, Pesto, Saffron, Oregano and Tomato Paste. Aside from the food, she also included a dish cloth, a hand-made bag and a mini Italian recipes book. She also enclosed a recipe for risotto--so thoughtful of her :)
Thank you Rossella for sending a very thoughtful foodie package! I love everything you sent!