Friday, January 27, 2012

JANUARY, 2012 CHALLENGE: Back to Basics:Scones (a.k.a. Biscuits)

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers' host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

"Scones (biscuits) contain only a small number of ingredients they are fast to make, quick to bake, only cost cents per batch and most importantly are super FUN to eat. In England and Australia scones are eaten with jam and butter usually with cups of tea or coffee mostly as a sweet snack, while in North America they are usually eaten with meals as a savoury side."

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)

Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) sconesRecipe can be doubled

1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder

¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt

2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk

optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones


1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.

2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)

3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.

4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)

6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.

7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.

8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.

9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

I made a plain one which my sisters and I ate with Pineapple-Ginger Jam while drinking hot tea and watching Downton Abbey :)
I also experimented with a dried Garlic & Herb salt free seasoning. The scones came out flecked with spots and tasted great with home-made pesto!

Thank you for the recipe Audax, it was simple and resulted in great tasting scones! Don't forget to visit the other Daring Bakers' scones!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Our hosts for this month, Pearl of My Sassy Chef and Thea of Words and Nosh gave us an excellent theme to start the year for Kulinarya Cooking Club. They decided to let us make a dish that we would like to have on our birthday and give it a healthy twist. I will be turning 40(!) on my birthday this year and I wanted something that is definitely over the top and not my usual favorites. I couldn't decide which one I liked best until I had a brilliant idea to combine two--Caldereta and Paella!

I used lamb for my caldereta and brown/black rice for the paella to make it healthier...


1/2 kilo Lamb Cubes, trimmed of fat

6 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed

1/4 cup White Wine

2 Tablespoons Lauric Oil (Coconut Oil)

1 medium Onion, peeled and minced

1 medium Carrot, peeled and cut into medium dice

1 Red Bellpepper, sliced into strips

250 grams Tomato Sauce

1 liter Chicken Stock

200 grams Baby Potatoes, washed (do not peel)

100 grams Green Olives, drained

1/4 cup Green Peas (frozen)

50 grams Edam Cheese (Quezo de Bola), grated

Salt and Pepper, to taste


Marinate lamb cubes in garlic and wine for 1-3 hours. Preheat pot with oil, add minced onions and lamb cubes, cook until lamb pieces are golden. Set aside the lamb on a plate, in the same pan add the carrots and bellpeppers saute for 3 minutes and add back the meat. Pour in the tomato sauce and the chicken stock. Cook until lamb is tender about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When lamb is almost done, add the potatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes. When potatoes are tender, add the olives and grated edam cheese, season with salt and pepper. Cook until sauce is reduced and thickened.


1/4 cup Lauric Oil (Coconut Oil)

1 clove Garlic, peeled and sliced thinly

1/2 medium Onion, peeled and minced

4 parts Rice

8 parts Chicken Stock


*Notice that I didn't specify the measuring unit I used for the rice and the stock, but this formula works the best for me and is perfect for my 14" paellera.

Boil chicken stock with Saffron, simultaneously preheat the paellera with oil and saute garlic and onion. Add the rice and stir it until rice grains are coated with oil. Pour all the cooked caldereta in the pan, stir until rice is coated with caldereta sauce and pour in the boiling stock. Cover with foil and allow to boil from 15-20 minutes until rice is done.

*You will need 2 burners going, and both are turned up high. This ensures that the paella is cooked in 20 minutes or less.

And there you have it, Lamb Caldereta Paella to celebrate my big 4-0! Thank you Pearl and Thea for the year 2012's first Kulinarya Cooking Club theme.
Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies (Kath, Trisha and Trissa) living in Sydney, who are passionate about Filipino culture and its colorful cuisine. Each month we will showcase a new dish. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.If you’re interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please visit, and please feel free to check out and follow our members' blogs. You don't have to have a blog to join -- everyone is welcome.

Monday, January 16, 2012

TAMALES (Filipino Version)

I've just finished the Daring Cooks' January 2012 challenge which was Mexican Tamales, finding ingredients for which was a challenge in itself. Aside from the filling, I don't think I'd be making it again.
Here in the Philippines, we have our own version of Tamales which uses toasted rice flour. Much like the Mexican Tamales, it is also wrapped, steamed and encases a filling. My sister and I were thinking that it was highly possible before the advent of sliced bread and zip lock, this was how they made lunch-to-go in our great-grandparents' time :)
When I was a little girl, I remember eating Tamales and not liking it but when I grew up and developed a more (hopefully) discriminating palette, I rediscovered and liked it. It wasn't something I thought of making myself because my mother found someone who sold delicious tamales. When my mother got sick and eventually passed away last year, I sort of forgot all about it until the aforementioned Daring Cooks' challenge this month. I looked at several recipes and found that this is the one I liked best...
Banana Leaves (washed, wiped and passed over fire to make them easier to fold)
3 1/2 cups Rice Flour
4 Tablespoons Peanut butter (creamy)
5 cups Coconut milk (soak freshly grated coconut in 5 cups hot water, wrap in cheesecloth and squeeze, set aside liquid)
1/2 cup Annatto water (soak annatto seeds in 1/2 cup hot water for 30 minutes, strain and set aside liquid)

Chorizo Bilbao, sliced into rings
Hard-boiled eggs, sliced into rings
Ham and/or Bacon
(Cooked shrimps can also be used, the filling can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be)
Combine rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and peanut butter, mix well. Divide in half and cook one half over medium heat until mixture comes together and thickens, this will take about 15 minutes. Set aside. Cook the other half and mix in the annatto water, coloring the mixture and cook until it comes together and thickens like the other half. Set aside, you will have two mixtures, one is light colored and the other one is yellowish. Cut 4 inch strips of banana leaves and spread with the light colored mixture, arrange the filling and cover with the other yellowish mixture. Wrap carefully with the banana leaves and repeat until mixture and filling is used up. Steam for 40 minutes.
*I usually eat Tamales at room temperature. This keeps well in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
And there you have it, the Filipino version of Tamales!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Happy new year to the Daring Cooks! What a great way for us to start the new year..., this is the first time I will be making and tasting Mexican Tamales, it was really exciting! Some of the ingredients however were not available in my neck of the woods but I wanted to participate so bad that I went ahead and substituted. There was no tomatillos here so I used grilled tomatoes and peppers for my filling. I also couldn't find masa harina and so I dared to substitute it with cornmeal just because I didn't want to miss this challenge.

Green Chile Chicken Tamales

For filling:

1 pound (455 gram) tomatillos (can sub mild green chilies – canned or fresh)

*I used red bellpeppers and roasted them

4 – 3 inch (7½ cm) serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped (can sub jalapeno)

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups (480 ml) low sodium chicken broth

*I made my own chicken stock

4 cups (960 ml) (400 gm/14 oz) cooked and shredded chicken

2/3 cup (160 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) roughly chopped fresh cilantro (also known as coriander)
For the masa dough:

1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (265 gm/9⅓ oz) lard or vegetable shortening

*I used butter

½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (10 gm/1/3 oz) salt (omit if already in masa mixture)

1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (8 gm/¼ oz) baking powder (omit if already in masa mixture)

4 cups (960 ml) (480 gm/17 oz) masa harina (corn tortilla mix)

*I used white cornmeal

1 ½-2 cups (360 ml – 480 ml) low sodium chicken broth

1. Preheat grill and place washed tomatoes, bellpeppers and chicken. Grill until the skin of the vegetables are almost black and peeling off. Grill chicken 5 minutes on each side. Set aside chicken and flake with fork. Peel the vegetables and take out the seeds. Put roasted peeled peppers and tomatoes with the garlic and process. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the pepper and tomatoes puree and boil, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes (it should turn thick like a paste). Add in the chicken broth, stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture coats the back of a spoon and is reduced to about a cup (240 ml). Stir in the chicken and cilantro, season with salt.

2. Prepare the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed, cream together the lard or vegetable shortening, baking powder and salt. Mix in the masa harina, one cup (240 ml) at a time. Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually add in 1 ½ cups (360 ml) of the chicken broth. If the mixture seems too thick (you can taste it for moistness) add up to ½ cup (120 ml) more of the broth 2 tablespoons (30 ml) at a time. (The dough should be a cookie dough like texture). Take a large pot with a steamer attachment. Pour about 2 inches (5 cm) of water into the bottom of the pot, or enough to touch the bottom of the steamer.

*I also used banana leaves instead of corn husks for my tamales.

3. Unfold 2 corn husks onto a work surface. Take ¼ cup (60 ml) of dough and, starting near the top of the husk, press it out into a 4 inch (10 cm) square, leaving 2-3 inches (5 -7½ cm) at the bottom of the husk. Place a heaping tablespoon (15 ml) of the filling in a line down the center of the dough square. Fold the dough into the corn husk. And wrap the husk around the dough. Fold up the skinny bottom part of the husk and secure with a corn husk tie. Steam for about 40 minutes until the dough deepens in color and pulls away from the husk.Thank you Maranda for our first Daring Cooks' challenge for the year 2012, for the other Daring Cooks' versions of Tamales, click here. We have our own version of Tamales here in the Philippines and I will be posting it here soon :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello 2012!

The start of a new year always makes me look back with gratitude for everything that I have experienced because I know that however unpleasant some of those things may be, I learned something from them.
The year that was 2011 is not so easy to forget...on the second month, I found out that my mother had cancer and in 4 short months, she passed away. To say that the first half of 2011 has been challenging for me is an understatement. After that, everything just passed by in a blur. And now we have welcomed the year 2012...
...I wonder what is in store for this new year. I am preparing myself to face more challenges and to learn more new things. So, hello 2012!