Friday, 23 January 2015

Macaroni Salad

Filipino Macaroni Salad
Here is another of our family's (and a lot other Filipino familys') favourite holiday food. We almost never make it at any other time of the year except during the New Year holidays. Not even on Christmas; only in the New Year. I never knew why but it must be one of those traditions that was kept on just because that's what we always had.

This is a perfect example of the predilection of the Pinoy palate to crave for the salty-sweet-tangy sour flavour combination. That and together with the richness of the mayonnaise and pasta makes it so irresistible to me as a snack. Actually, you'll be hard-pressed to classify this as savoury or sweet. Because they're really both!

By the way, the Philippines practically only have spaghetti and elbow macaroni in the pasta aisles of its supermarkets. Whereas here, I cannot find decent sized and shaped elbow macaroni. I have to either go to Italian delis or trek to Waitrose where, fortunately, I found this Chiferri Rigate pasta.





Macaroni Salad

500 g elbow macaroni pasta
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken meat
1/3 cup pickle relish
1/3 cup finely minced celery
1 1/2 cups canned pineapple chunks in syrup - well drained
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely minced cooked carrots
1/3 cup finely minced onion (optional)
1/3 cup grated cheddar (optional)
3 cups mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Combine all in a bowl and mix well. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Amish Dinner Rolls

Amish Dinner Rolls
My pictures are a bit lame but don't let that detract you from the fluffiness and delectable taste of this mashed potato-based bread. I already did a similar one before so I was not a complete newbie when I tried this. The bread machine was deployed for the kneading and initial proofing so it certainly was a breeze to do. As you can see, I was so satisfied with the result. Just look how fluffy they are!

The King Arthur Flour website is where I got the recipe I adapted. They have loads of interesting recipes there that I'd like to try someday.


Amish Dinner Rolls


Amish Dinner Rolls

2 1/4 tsp [1 package] active dry yeast
3/4 cup slightly warm water or potato water*
2 eggs
1 cup unseasoned mashed potato
4 1/4 cups plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
6 Tbsp butter - room temperature

*Bread Machine Method:
  1. Put all the ingredients in the bread machine according to the instructions of the bread machine manufacturer. Set the machine for dough program and press start.
  2. Allow the machine to complete its cycle. For most bread machine the rising of the dough is included in the cycle. If not, allow the dough to remain in the machine to rise for for 1 hour or until double in bulk.

*Manual Method:
  1. Dissolve 1 tsp of the sugar in the water. Add the yeast and stir to slightly dissolve. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. By this time, it should foam up to indicate that the yeast is active. If not, discard mixture and start again.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until the dough starts to leave the side of the bowl.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly greased or floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes or until it's smooth and satiny.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Turn it to coat all around with grease. Cover with lightly grease plastic wrap and let rise for about 90 minutes or until double in bulk.

*To Shape Rolls:
  1. Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a few turns until smooth again.
  2. For standalone rolls: divide dough into 16 equal pieces and shape into balls. Place in lightly greased baking sheets leaving about 2 inches of space between them.
  3. For pull-apart rolls: divide dough into 15 equal pieces (I used weighing scale for this). Place in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan into 3 rows of 5 balls each. Space them evenly.
  4. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise for about 2 hours. The pull-apart rolls should be touching each other.

*Baking:
  1. Bake in a pre-heated 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.
  2. Remove from oven and carefully remove from the baking pan.
  3. [Optional] Brush with melted butter.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Oeufs à la Neige

Ouefs a la Neige
The January Daring Cooks Challenge will ensure that no matter where in the world you are, you will have a bit of snow! Kim from Ask a Foodie challenged us to make Oeufs à la Neige, or “Eggs in Snow”.

Oeufs à la neige or Snow Eggs is a favourite of my husband. Whenever we were in France and it's on the menu he often orders it. My cooking/baking to do list had this for a long time. At last this challenge from the Daring Cooks finally forced me to confront this intimidating recipe.

And challenged indeed I was. I halved the recipe since this was an experiment I didn't want to waste too much if anything goes wrong. The meringue was easy enough to do with the help of my hand mixer. But the poaching was something else. I had to emphasize in the recipe that the poaching liquid should be barely simmering. Mine seemed like it was quite hot because the meringues were getting overcooked into shriveled white things. So the poaching time was done very quickly more like 30-45 seconds instead of 2 minutes per side. Also, when you shape the meringues, make sure to use *big* spoons not like the dessert spoons I used. Because they do shrink in size a little after poaching.

Then the caramelised almond slivers came into play. Well I did it all right (although it was a little on the dark caramel side) and set it out in the dining table to cool. By the time I was to sprinkle it on the snow eggs almost all of it was gone! The husband and kids discovered them! Oh well, there was just enough bits I scraped to put as topping.

What of the dessert? How did it go? I was quite eggy, as my daughter said. Well that is a given! For me and the husband, it was very nice although the custard was a bit too sweet for me. I made the adjustments in the recipe below. Other than that I heartily recommend it. Next time I would make the presentation better such as put it in nicer bowls and opt for caramel syrup as well.

The main recipe was adapted from The Encyclopedia of Classic French Pastries by Susan Whatley and the almond praline fron Rachel Khoo's recipe of Floating Island.

Ouefs a la Neige


Oeufs à la Neige
(Snow Eggs)

*For the praline:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup slivered almonds
  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Put sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the slivered almonds to the boiling syrup and keep stirring continuously.
  4. The sugar will being melting again and will take on a golden colour.
  5. Once it turns golden, pour out onto the prepared baking tray and quickly spread as thinly as possible (they set fast). Leave to cool completely.


*For the meringue:

3 large egg whites
5 Tbsp granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup whole milk

  1. Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl with the pinch of salt. Beat with an electric hand or stand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
  2. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar gradually while beating until all the sugar has been added.
  3. Beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to hold the bowl of beaten egg whites upside down without any spilling out).
  4. While you are beating the egg whites, bring the milk on saucepan to a gentle simmer. Lower heat futher until there are only little bubbles at the edges.
  5. Using 2 big dinner spoons, form the meringue into oval shapes. Carefully drop the oval meringues into the simmering milk and poach for about 1-2 minutes each side or until puffed up and set.
  6. Remove from the milk with a slotted spoon and place on a sheet of tea towels or paper towels. Cool and store in the fridge tightly covered until needed.

*For the creme anglaise:

3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
remaining milk from poaching the meringue
  1. Combine the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heat-resistant bowl with a whisk. Gently pour a little at a time of the still warm poaching milk on to the mixture while constantly stirring.
  2. Return the egg-milk mixture to the poaching saucepan and cook at low heat while constantly stirring. There should be about a little less than 2 cups of the mixture. If not, top up with more milk up to roughly that amount.
  3. Cook gently (do not stop stirring) until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a single cream. It should coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Strain the sauce and cool in the fridge covered until thoroughly chilled.

*For the caramel sauce (optional):
 

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water

  1. Prepare a bowl full of tap water (preferably in a sink). The bowl should be bigger than the saucepan to be used for cooking. Set aside.
  2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to boil.
  3. Continue boiling until it becomes golden coloured. Lower heat and cook until it is of the shade of golden colour desired. Immediately put the bottom of the pan into the bowl full of tap water to stop the caramel from cooking further.
  4. Use the caramel immediately

*To assemble:
  • Put about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of creme anglaise in a small serving cup or bowl. Place two or three meringues on top and decorate with almond praline and/or caramel sauce.



Sunday, 11 January 2015

Palutang

Palutang
Palutang - in Tagalog literally means 'about to float'. In our corner of Cavite, this is our version of what others call palitaw. Not only is there a difference in name but palitaws are flat and oval shaped while palutangs are round with a dent or hole in the middle. Actually, I think the palutangs look like belly buttons, no?

This kakanin or snack/dessert is one of the traditional food of Filipino families during the New Year. It signifies rising fortunes and good luck in the new incoming year. I often cooked these with my late grandmother who follows this tradition every year.

It is very simply made with very few ingredients. For the palutang itself, it only has one ingredient, well two actually, if you use the flour form. Then you just serve it with fresh shredded coconut and sugar. And it is this simplicity that I now crave in contrast to the rich and indulgent complicated dishes and Western desserts we had in the Christmas season just gone.

Below are pictures of the stages in making palutang:


shaped Palutang dough
cooking Palutang
Palutang

Palutang

1 cup malagkit (glutinous rice) flour
1/2 cup water

*To serve:
fresh grated coconut
brown or white or muscovado sugar
  1. Mix the rice flour with the water in a bowl to form into a dough. Add more water if needed to make the dough a bit sticky but comes away clean from hands and fingers.
  2. Form into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls. Poke a finger in the middle but not all the way through, just enough to make a dent that will help it float.
  3. Bring a pot full of water to boil. Once it is in rolling boil, carefully drop the shaped palutangs in the pot. Keep the water on high heat.
  4. Once the palutangs float, they are already cooked. Remove with slotted spoon onto a serving dish.
  5. Serve warm or cold with fresh shredded coconut mixed with brown sugar.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Cathedral Windows

Cathedral Windows
One of the winners in the Christmas new recipe experimentations of my family is this great looking and even better tasting Cathedral Windows. I have to thank wholeheartedly Corinne of the excellent Heart of Mary food blog from where I adapted this recipe. Thank you very much Corinne for sharing your family's best ever recipe. We are indebted to you and your aunts for this wonderful refreshing dessert.

This festive dessert I could imagine more in summer feasts because it's quite refreshing in the palate despite the richness of the white binding jelly. Although, this would not go amiss as a foil to all the richness of Christmas season food.

I thought I could get away with using her exact recipe but I couldn't find any thickened cream (Nestle) that is quite common in the Philippines. Good thing I read the voluminous comments of that blog to find that I can use regular double cream (heavy cream) but had to increase the gelatine in the binder. With the first make under my belt, I could see that two jelly moulds could be used in this recipe because I didn't use up all the coloured jellies. So I'll do that next time.

Cathedral Windows
As you can see, I made a mistake in unmoulding the whole thing. It won't come out readily so I immersed the bottom in a bowl full of warm water for, I thought, a few seconds. But it seems I dipped it too long. The top melted and wasn't the ridged smooth gelatine I was expecting. But, nevermind, the taste more than made up for the botched unmoulding. Corinne was right in claiming that it is delicious - it was so yummy. And when I cut it to reveal the inside - wow! To see those colourful jellies floating in white was really really satisfying.

Happy New Year everyone !!



Cathedral Windows

*For coloured jellies:
5 different flavoured and coloured unset jellies*
1 cup boiling water (x5)
1 cup cold tap water (x5)
1 Tbsp sugar (x5)
1 Tbsp unflavoured gelatine powder (x5)

*For binder jelly:
3 Tbsp unflavoured gelatine powder
2 cups apple juice
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup double cream (heavy cream)


For the coloured jellies:
  1. Mix the coloured jelly with 1 cup of boiling water, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp unflavoured jelly powder.
  2. Stir from time to time until everything is dissolved.
  3. Add in 1 cup of cold tap water.
  4. Pour into a moulding container (plastic, glass, or ceramic; preferably rectangular or square) and chill in the fridge overnight.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 for the rest of the coloured jellies.

For the binder jelly:
  1. Heat the apple juice until very hot but not boiling.
  2. Add the unflavoured gelatine, remove from heat and stir until completely dissolved.
  3. In another saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice.
  4. Cook over low heat while stirring until the mixture is thickened.
  5. Pour in the apple mixture and remove from fire. Stir to mix.
  6. Add the evaporated milk and double cream to the mixture and stir to mix.

To assemble:
  1. Before cooking the binder jelly, cut up the different coloured jellies into about 3/4 - 1 inch cubes. Put in a heat resistant bowl.
  2. Wash the final presentation jelly mould with water. Drain water from the inside but do not wipe dry. This is to make the unmoulding of the jelly easier.
  3. Make the binder jelly and while it is still liquid (it sets quickly!) pour it over and combine with the cut-up jellies.
  4. Carefully pour in the jelly mould. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight or until completely set.

*Notes:
  • I used the locally available Hartley's jelly in lime, lemon, orange, blackcurrant, and strawberry flavours.
  • I actually combined the coloured jellies and binder in the jelly mould itself. I just carefully mixed them with a spoon and distributed the coloured jellies evenly.
  • I didn't have one of those nice Tupperware jelly moulds so I just used my regular bundt pan that I use for baking and it wasn't too bad.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Banana White Chocolate Chips Cake

Banana White Choc Chip Cake
The work 'scrumptious' can aptly describe this cake. It is really that good. Funny enough, like most of my experimental recipes, I stumbled across this one because I have a white chocolate bar that's about to expire and a bunch of overripe bananas nearer to the side of rotten. Thanks to member toms112 of the BBC GoodFood website who provided this delicious loaf cake. I will always go back to this recipe whenever a banana cake is requested - promise!


Banana White Chocolate Chip Cake

125 g  [1/2 cup] butter
150 g  [2/3 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 very ripe bananas - mashed
190 g  self-raising flour
1/4 cup milk
100 g  white chocolate chips
  1. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Pre-heat oven to 170°C/fan 150°C.
  2. If the butter is softened to room temperature, beat in a bowl with the caster sugar using an electric mixer until fluffy and light.
    OR
    Melt the butter with the sugar over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Add the mashed banana and mix well.
  5. Fold in the flour alternately with the milk using a wooden spoon. Mix just enough to incorporate the flour.
  6. Add the white chocolate chips and fold to mix.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon
Here's one recipe that I've been doing on and off in different versions for years. And it's only now that I'm documenting it. Actually, the Daring Cooks urged me to do this for the November/December challenge. It was originally the theme all the way back on May 2012. I haven't rejoined yet at the time so I have my excuses.

Beef Bourguignon or Beef Burgundy is like most stews but the main distinction is that it has a lot of red wine while the British variety has beers in different forms (ales, bitters, porters, etc). They're all very good especially during winter when you need something hot and hearty for supper.

For this recipe I made the mistake of reducing the mushrooms. As expected they shrank in size so there wasn't as much as I would like to have. The mushrooms are great to soak up all that robust taste of the sauce so don't skimp on it. Finally, serving this with boiled or steamed potatoes, bread or even rice is great for a hearty meal.


Beef Bourguignon
(Beef Burgundy)

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
200 g  streaky bacon - chopped
1.5 kg stewing beef - cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion - chopped
1 big carrot - chopped into big chunks
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups beef stock
720 ml (1 big bottle) red wine (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, etc.)
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 Tbsp double concentrate tomato puree (tomato paste)
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp butter
300 g  small onions - peeled and kept whole
500 g  small button mushrooms
  1. In a heavy bottomed casserole pot, heat olive oil and fry bacon until brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. In the same casserole, brown the beef pieces in batches until brown all around. Add more olive oil if needed. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add in the chopped onion and cook in medium-low heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots and saute for another 2 minutes.
  5. Return the bacon and beef in the casserole. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and flour and toss for a minute.
  6. Stir in the wine, tomato puree, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and just enough stock to cover the beef. Bring to boil while scraping the browned bits at the bottom.
  7. Lower heat and simmer for 1.5 hours or until beef is tender.
    OR
    Put in an oven pre-heated at 150°C/fan 130°C/300°F and bake for 3-3.5 hours or until beef is tender.
    OR
    Cook in a slow cooker for 3-4 hours on low or 2 hours on high. (Consult your slow cooker manual for best result.)
  8. While it is stewing, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter in a frying pan and saute the peeled small onions until golden brown. Set aside.
  9. Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in the same frying pan and saute the mushrooms until brown. Set aside.
  10. Add the sauteed onions and mushrooms about 3/4 of the way of the cooking time. Continue cooking until done.

Note: Like any stew, this is best served the day after cooking.