Thursday, January 27, 2011


Happy new year everyone! It's so good to be baking with the Daring Bakers again after having missed last month's stollen, due to the busy-ness of the season. And I'm really glad that it's something I've always wanted to do for the longest time...but before I get ahead of myself...the blog checking lines first:
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

So what exactly is a joconde imprime? A joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entremets/ formed in ring molds. A joconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbleized for a further decorative effect.

This Joconde/spongecake requires attentive baking so that it remains flexible to easily conform to the molds. If under baked it will stick to the baking mat. It over baked it will dry out and crack. Once cooled, the sponge may be cut into strips to line any shape ring mold.

Entremets (French baking term)- an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold. Think Trifle in a mold vs. a glass bowl.

Joconde Sponge

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners' (icing) sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below
3 large eggs - about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted


  1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
  2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
  3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
  4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
  5. Fold in melted butter.
  6. Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites - about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
  2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
  3. Fold in sifted flour.
  4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

  1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
  2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
  3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
  5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
  6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
  7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)
Just as our host Astheroshe said this dessert looks more difficult than it is! Once I baked the joconde imprime, cut it into the desired height for my cake ring--it was smooth sailing! I opted to use 2 kinds of mousse. One was coffee mousse and the top layer was chocolate mousse. I wanted to show the different colors when the cake was sliced and I wasn't disappointed--doesn't this look pretty?
What a great way to start the new year with the Daring Bakers! A big thank you to Astheroshe for this great challenge!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Our hosts for this month's KCC challenge, Jen , Maribel and Tressa wanted us to cook food that answers the question, "What Filipino dish (savoury or sweet) would you like to have on your birthday?" To be honest, I had a hundred dishes running through my mind, but due to time and budget constraints (haha!) I had to choose this dish that I tasted about 10 years ago but haven't had the chance to eat again...Bringhe.

So what exactly is friend described it as the Kapampangan version of Paella, it also resembles another dish, Arroz ala Valenciana that my grandmother used to cook. Being a rice girl, it's no wonder that I've been on some sort of a quest to find a recipe for it, not just any recipe mind you, but I wanted a recipe that I'm fairly sure will be delicious. I was browsing through the internet and some Filipino cookbooks that I had when I remembered that I had a cookbook by Chef Gene Gonzales whose family is Kapampangan, his Cocina Sulipena, Culinary Gems from Old Pampanga is a treasure trove of history, illustrations, and photographs that opened my eyes to life in the finer families during those times. I knew I had a winner bringhe recipe so I decided to use it as a guide...I didn't follow all of it exactly but made it my springboard for this recipe:


Chicken Thighs 1/4 kilo
Pork Belly 1/4 kilo
*Vinegar 1/4 cup
Patis (Fish Sauce) 2 tablespoons
Garlic, roughly chopped 2 cloves
Black pepper, cracked
* I used my favorite Pinakurat vinegar

Wash chicken and pork. Preheat pan with oil brown chicken and pork pieces. Add vinegar, patis, garlic, cracked black pepper and just enough water to cover. Cook over low fire until pork is tender( add more water as necessary to tenderize meat) and the liquid has almost dried up. Set aside. This step can be done the day before and the meat refrigerated for use the next day.

Glutinous Rice (Malagkit) 1/4 kilo
White RIce 1/4 kilo
Red Onion, small dice 1 piece
Lemongrass 1 stalk
Bay Leaf 1 piece
Coconut Milk 1 cup
Chicken Stock 2 cups
Ground Turmeric 2 teaspoons
Chinese Sausage, sliced 2 pieces
Raisins 1/4 cup
Black pepper, cracked

Soak Glutinous Rice and White rice in water. Pound the white part of the lemongrass and slice thinly. Dissolve ground turmeric in coconut milk. Preheat pan with oil, saute onions until translucent and fragrant. Add cracked bay leaf, lemongrass and rice. Add coconut milk and chicken stock. Stir once in a while to prevent rice from sticking on pan. Season with patis and black pepper. When rice is done, Line another pan with banana leaves, transfer cooked rice and stir in the cooked meats, sliced sausages and raisins. Season to taste. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

The texture of the rice reminds me of risotto, only richer because of the coconut milk. Delicious!

I'm so happy with this recipe, I like that the meats were cooked separately instead of with the rice so that it was delicious even on it's own. Oh and this is the first recipe that I've tried from that cookbook, and this certainly isn't the last!
Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about th Filipino culture and its colorful cuisine.
Each month we will showcase a new dish with their family recipes. We hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.
If you are interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please feel free to drop by our foodblogs and leave a comment--we would love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Banana-Cashew Cake with Salted Caramel Glaze

I love salted caramel, I can't have enough of it! Sometimes I dream about it and I'd have to say one of the most appreciated cakes I've ever made was the salted caramel cake that I made with the Daring Bakers some time ago. Eversince then, I've been on a quest to find another recipe to rival that and I think I might have found it now.

Doesn't this look delicious?? You bet it is! And it's so simple and easy to make...

All-purpose flour 2 1/4 cups
Baking Soda 1 teaspoon
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Refined Sugar 1 cup

Unsalted Butter 1/2 cup, softened + 2 tablespoons melted
Eggs 2 pieces
Bananas, mashed 3 pieces
Plain Yogurt 1 1/4 cups
Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon
Chocolate Chips 1/2 cup
Cashew, roughly chopped 1/2 cup

Cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Grease and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan. Set aside.
Sift flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside. With the paddle attachment of your mixer, beat together the sugar, butter and the eggs until light and fluffy. Turn off the mixer, scrape the sides and add the plain yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined. Add the sifted flour mixture just until incorporated. Combine melted butter (cooled), chocolate chips, chopped cashew and cinnamon set aside.
Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, sprinkle half of the cashew-chocolate mixture, add the remaining half of the cake batter and cover the top with the remaining cashew-chocolate mixture. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake on rack.

Refined Sugar 2 1/4 cups
Water 1/3 cup
Corn syrup 1 1/2 teaspoon
All-purpose Cream 180 ml
Salt 1 1/4 teaspoon

Combine sugar, water and cornsyrup. Dissolve over medium heat without stirring. When mixture has turned amber in color take off heat. Carefully pour the cream without splashing , this is very hot. Mix the salt. Cool the mixture a bit to thicken it and pour over the cooled cake.

We are enjoying an unusually cold January as long as it lasts. But my heart was left in Boracay where I had my vacation last October...I'm counting the days until summer, so we can have blue skies again.

That's me gazing off into one of the most beautiful beach sunsets I've ever seen :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bale Dutung

This post is late but better late than never which might have happened had I not been given a book about Ferran Adria, the Catalan chef who is on the helm of El Bulli restaurant in Spain's Costa Brava which held the distinction of being the "Best Restaurant" in the world by Restaurant Magazine for the years 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and #2 for 2010! He has been credited with putting Spanish cuisine on the forefront of the culinary world.

And this had me thinking about our own Filipino cuisine and where it's at, how the dining scene in the Philippines has become much more vibrant with the injection of new talents (recent graduates of the booming culinary school industry, graduates of the great culinary institutions abroad etc., and home-grown talents with passion for Filipino food) one culinary genius that I particularly admire is, Claude Tayag...not only is he a chef, but a writer (newspaper column, cookbooks) painter, sculptor and furniture designer! So when I saw him at Mercato Centrale where I had a stall, I grabbed the opportunity to say hello, talk to him and have my picture taken with him (okay, that makes me a real fan). After that I really wanted to go and experience dining at Bale Dutung, the Tayag's house and where they accept appointments for dining, I can't really call it a restaurant, because it's more than that.

First of all, we had to drive all the way to Pampanga. I was glad we stopped at Starbucks for coffee because the trip which was supposed to be short (around an hour and a half) turned out to be double than that. We made a wrong turn, got lost and had to stop every so often to ask where Villa Gloria was. Finally we arrived at 1:00 in the afternoon for our 11:30 appointment. By this time, I was hungry and a little bit irritated but as we entered the gate , this was what greeted us...a lush verdant garden with a wooden totem pole and a tikbalang (a Philippine mythical creature half man-half horse). I knew then this was going to be a unique luncheon.

Ensaladang Pako (Fiddlehead Fern Salad)

After the garden, you look to your right, the house comes into view covered with lush foliage...I felt like I was in a secret garden except that there were a lot of people having lunch, the clink of glasses and laughter drifting out to where we were standing. Mary Ann, Claude's wife welcomed us and brought us to our table where our group of 16 grown-ups plus 1 9-month old baby settled down for the long (it says at least 3 hours on their website) lunch. We were given frozen towels to freshen up and cool ourselves because it was open-air dining, I hardly noticed if it was uncomfortably warm because all I could think about was the food.

We chose the Kapampangan menu because we wanted to try the region's specialties and it was really a unique dining experience. Some of the food we were served were quite familiar to me but as each course was served, Mary Ann stood by our table and talked about the significance of the dish to their region. You can tell by the way she talked that she was proud of their food, and that made me understand why they were featured by Anthony Bourdain when he visited the Philippines. Everyone was having a grand time with their food but I was savoring each bite, and watching. There were about 2 more big groups like us and 2 tables which had about 4-5 people each. Then the lechon (roasted pig) arrived and Claude himself carved the lechon, some of the people had their pictures taken with him, I held back for a while. But when he went back to his kitchen and we lined up for the Bulanglang Kapampangan which was like our siningang na bangus with spareribs and prawns cooked in guava broth, we saw him chopping up the lechon in the corner of his kitchen. So we went and had our pictures taken with him.

5 year old naturally aged sugar cane vinegar

What I noticed about the Tayags was that when they entertain in their house, you really feel like you are in your friends' place. They talked to us and regaled us with their foodie adventures around the Philippines where they are seeking out the best of the region they are visiting. It was also fun listening to him recount his conversations with Anthony Bourdain.

Tortillang Lechon (Crispy Roast Pork Flakes on a Tortilla)

Kare-kareng Lamang Dagat (Seafood Cooked in Peanut Sauce)

We left Bale Dutung almost 7 at night. The 3-hour luncheon became 6 hours and we hardly noticed the time. Claude and Mary Ann said they will be offering the Anthony Bourdain menu this January and I am most definitely going back to Pampanga for that!

Paradiso (Dessert of Yam and Coconut, Eggyolk in Water Buffalo Milk)

Bale Dutung
Villa Gloria Subdivision
Angeles City Pampanga
mobile :09175359198

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks January 2011 Challenge: Hearty Winter Stew - The French Way

Happy new year Daring Cooks! It feels so good to be back! I wasn't able to join last month's challenge but I made sure that I started 2011 right by resolving (uh-oh new year's resolutions) to face and complete all challenges (food and otherwise) for the whole year.

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

Cassoulet is a rich, slow cooked stew or casserole that originated in the south of France during the 14th century. It traditionally contains pork, sausages, and white beans as well as a duck or goose confit and then topped with fried bread crumbs or cracklings. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, which is a deep, round earthenware pot with slanted sides. This is a dish that traditionally takes about three days to prepare, but is oh so worth all the effort!! A confit, in case you don’t know, is one of the oldest ways to preserve food. It is essentially any kind of food that has been immersed in any kind of fat for both flavor and preservation. When stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months! Typically meats (most often waterfowl) are preserved in fats, while fruits are preserved in sugar.

*We had to make confit to be incorporated in the cassoulet. I chose the easier route by making chicken confit with butter. Can I just say, the smell, taste and texture of the chicken confit is sooooooooooo good. I couldn't stop myself from smelling and yes, picking some of the chicken just to taste...

For the complete recipe of Anthony Bourdain's recipe click here. I made some changes as suggested by our hosts. I didn't use pork rind to line my dish for the cassoulet, and substituted bacon.

And here is the cassoulet, ready for eating...I had a taste and boy was it good!

Thank you Jenni and Lisa for this month's DC challenge! It was truly a learning experience reading through the posts in the forum and taking your suggestions.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

December and January Recap

Happy New Year everyone!! It's sooooo good to be back to blogging!

December 2010 was one big blur of activities for me. I can't remember being this busy during the past Christmases, not that I'm complaining. Except that I was so busy I wasn't able to join the challenges for the Daring Bakers, the Daring Cooks and Kulinarya for the whole month. And I have not posted anything after my pop tarts. So I'm going to show you dear friends how it was. not as an excuse for neglecting my blog (okay, it is sort of an excuse) but also to share how wonderfully busy it had been...

First of all, I decided to join a weekend market. Mercato Centrale was the newest weekend food market here in Manila and when I learned they were open for vendors, I wasted no time in applying and lo and behold--I got in! It was definitely a learning experience for me, all the sleepless nights, headaches, backaches, getting stuck in traffic, lining up at the supermarket, etc were all worth it! I met my Filipino culinary idol Mr. Claude Tayag of Bale Dutung, I even got to meet Smarla from Everyday Sweet Notes! But I guess it was a case of biting off more than I can chew...sadly I had to withdraw from the market because of my day job. It had gotten too busy that I was almost a zombie at work. But overall, it was so much fun, that I wouldn't mind doing it again!

And then of course there were the baskets, dozens of them! Every Christmas, my friends and I offer Christmas goodies and sell them. This year was no different, we made a LOT and it was too much sometimes, we had to turn down orders because all of us had day jobs and whatnots aside from these baskets. We love the fact that our clients are always clamoring for more and they order every year, no fail. This year I added jams and cakes in tins to our baskets, next year--maybe something even yummier.

I work hard but I also play hard, but this time I wanted to rest, to take a break from all the hustle and bustle. Where to? Hmmm...the most logical answer to that was in Singapore. It's like my second home having worked and lived there. I have friends there and the food is great, and I'm really craving for char kway teow, chicken rice, and one dollar coffee from the hawker center. So off I went, I escaped the noise and smog of the firecrackers here in Manila and had a firecracker-free but definitely fun New Year's eve in the Lion City. It was great walking the familiar streets, smelling all the food and eating of course!!

And finally...dear friends, to start off the year--I was invited to be a guest judge in a morning show for GMA 7's Unang Hirit last monday January 10. Yay! I couldn't have imagined where this blog has brought me so far! I was with Lori of Dessert Comes First which was one of the first Filipino food blogs I've found and enjoyed reading until now, my friend Smarla of Everyday Sweet Notes and my culinary schoolmate Rosebud of Quickfire. It was a new and fun experience. And both the competing teams did well turning out delicious and good looking food. Congratulations to Chef Nino of Pino Kitchen Studio!

And so, that's a recap of the month that was. I am excited for 2011, new challenges, new recipes, new restaurants and new friends!

How about you? How was your December?