Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Daring Cooks' April 2012 Challenge - Create Your Own Recipe!

Our April 2012 hosts were David and Karen of Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients.

I really like it when we are asked to come up with our own recipes because it brings out everyone's creativity. So what is the list of these ingredients that we can play around? They gave us 3 sets and we had to choose one from each list:

1. Parsnips, Eggplant (Aubergine), Cauliflower

2. Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Chipotle Peppers

3. Maple Syrup, Instant Coffee, Bananas

Along with the list, they also provided some recipes but I decided to completely come up with my own. I chose Eggplant because I haven't seen parsnips around here in Manila, and no I don't really like cauliflowers so eggplant it is. I also have balsamic vinegar and maple syrup in the cupboard so I just came up with a dish utilizing those three: Eggplant, Balsamic Vinegar and Eggplants.

Being the true Filipino that I am...when vinegar is listed as an ingredient--I always think of Adobo. So that is what I decided to cook. Adobo is a dish that is cooked with vinegar and/or soy sauce and garlic. There are as many versions of this as there are many cooks in the Philippines. I was going to make my own version based on my 3 ingredients.
1 kilo Beef Cubes (cooked in the pressure cooker the night before)
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
10 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
2 pieces Bay leaves (dried)

1 teaspoon Black Peppercorn
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Maple syrup
Combine beef cubes, garlic, peppercorn, balsamic vinegar, soysauce and enough water or stock to cover everything in a pot. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes (this process is shorter because the meat was already cooked in the pressure cooker). Do not stir until boiling or the vinegar will taste raw. When mixture is boiling turn down the heat and season with salt, pepper and maple syrup. Cook for another 10 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Okay, so what about the eggplant? I cut it into rings, salted and rinsed. Grilled with olive oil (no need to season with salt, they might come out too salty).

And there it is...Adobong Baka with Grilled Eggplants. Thank you David and Karen, this was a wonderful challenge!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bagoong Alamang at Mangga

I didn't realize how easy it was to make Bagoong Alamang. I have a friend who grew up in Navotas, a seaside community here in Manila and they used to make their own Bagoong Alamang, she was the one who told me how to make it. For the uninitiated, Bagoong Alamang is shrimp paste made from very small shrimps that are fermented and then sauteed with additional ingredients (onions, garlic, etc). I was supposed to make it from scratch but all I had available was pre-fermented alamang... BAGOONG ALAMANG

500 grams Alamang (fermented)

1 piece Red Onion (peeled and minced)

3 cloves Garlic (peeled, smashed and minced finely)

2 pieces Chili (minced)

2 tablespoons Oil (I used the solidified fat from the braised pork belly)

200 grams Pork belly (roasted in oven for 4 hours, cut small dice)

1/4 cup Cane Vinegar

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

Sautee minced onions, garlic and chili in oil until fragrant. Add the diced pork and the Alamang. Pour in the vinegar and let mixture come to a boil. Add the brown sugar and mix well. Cook this mixture until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Adjust the sugar as needed.

Cool and store in jars in the refrigerator.

Just as I was taking the picture...Hipster the cat decided to make an appearance to check out the delicious fishy smell coming from the bowl.

Bagoong Alamang can be used in many different ways. It can be a dipping sauce for Kare-Kare, or used in Binaggoongan. But my favorite way of using it is on Green Mangoes...yummmmmm...
Nothing says Summer more than Bagoong Alamang and Hilaw na Mangga (green, unripe mangoes).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bonding Over Cognac Truffles

A while back my baby sister, actually more like begged me to help her make these. I really cherish the times I have with my family especially my younger sisters, having lost our mother 10 months ago made me feel more maternal and protective towards them so when I found time (long weekend because of Holy Week) I grabbed the chance and we set aside an afternoon making these yummy treats. I love anything chocolate, and one of the best ingredients to combine with chocolate in my opinion is alcohol, which this recipe both have. It's quite easy to make and only took about 3 hours of the afternoon, including refrigeration.


500 grams chocolate (we used unsweetened, but you can use bittersweet)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup cognac

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup ground walnuts

Chop chocolate roughly, set aside. In a glass or stainless steel bowl melt butter and cream over a double boiler. Take off heat and pour the cognac. Add to chopped chocolate and mix until combined. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).

Form into balls and roll in powdered sugar or cocoa powder or chopped walnuts. Flavors can be combined as well.

Cognac Truffles in Powdered Sugar

Cognac Truffles in Cocoa Powder
Cognac Truffles in Ground Walnuts

Yummy truffles all lined up ready for eating and giving away to friends!

And here is my sister after we made the truffles :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Braised Pork in Oyster Sauce

Everyone needs weekends for relaxing...I especially love Saturdays because it's market day at home and lunch is usually better than usual. There are extra special saturdays when we decide to splurge, like last week when my sister bought crabs and prawns which we made into chili garlic crabs and prawn sinigang. She also asked me to cook braised pork belly which came from last month's Daring Cooks' challenge.


1.5 kilos pork belly, skin on

250 ml orange juice

1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, minced



Wash pork belly. Pat dry, rub with salt and pepper. Place on an oven proof dish (I used a baking pan) pour the orange juice on the belly and scatter the onions and garlic. Cover with aluminum foil, which I completely forgot but had a delicious consequence--the skin became crispy! Roast in a preheated 350 degrees farenheit oven for 4 hours. Take out of the oven, cool in pan and refrigerate overnight.

1/4 cup Oyster Sauce

1/4 cup Stock or water

Salt and Pepper to taste

Take out the belly from the refrigerator, remove the garlic and onions. Chop into cubes. I had to pry off the crispy top and chop it separately. Take about a spoonful of fat from the pan where the belly was roasted, and use that to saute the garlic until fragrant. Mix the Oyster sauce and water and pour it on the garlic, add the chopped pork belly. Cook just until the meat is coated with the sauce and season with salt and pepper, I had to cut back on the salt because the Oyster sauce was flavorful enough. Serve hot.

*Set aside the solidified fat from the baking pan for future use(I will post separately about it).

And there you have it...the pork belly was tender and the skin was crispy. I was hoping there would be leftovers for dinner, but it was wiped out!