Sunday, 8 January 2006

LP5: Pinoy Christmas Around The World

London Christmas 2005
The Christmas season 2005 for me was like a whirlwind that grew into a tornado, swept me off and deposited me helplessly at the state I'm in now. I should have clicked my heels before to regain my sanity but then I needed red shoes for that. ;) What I wanted to say was it so busy and hectic for me what with the numerous Christmas parties at work, with friends, and with relatives. Add more of the usual shopping madness and Christmas card postings plus the added worry of being made redundant - but that's another story.

I'm beating around the bush! Just trying to excuse myself for being late with my entry and for completely forgetting to take pictures of our decors. And have you heard? My supposed traditional rellenong manok (stuffed chicken) morphed into a beef roast. Of all the years I've been living here in UK, the ones that run out everytime before Christmas are the turkeys. Why oh why could I not find any whole chicken two days before C-day? I searched high and low in all butchers that abound and the supermarkets littering our high street but no freakin' chicken!! In my exasperation, I picked up the last remaining slab of prime rib of beef on the counter and proceeded to harass Stel on the phone on how to roast the darn thing. Kind and ever helpful, she put me thru the paces even though she was frantically preparing for their own Christmas family do. Despite my initial bad impression with our main course, it turned out beautifully - delicious actually! So simply cooked with all the traditional sides and a great gravy that my family wanted me to do it again at the earliest possible time. The lovely Stel of Babyrambutan provided the easy peasy recipe. Thanks dear!

This 5th edition of Lasang Pinoy is hosted by Mike of Lafang. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you how we spend our Christmas - in the days before we usually go round some friends' houses to give out our gifts. We try to attend a Christmas eve mass but there are years like this one that was just so so busy. Usually we have either a sumptous Christmas lunch or dinner but this year, ostensibly to let me have a relaxing Christmas day, we had our celebratory meal on Christmas eve dinner. Morning after that were spent ripping out gift boxes and saying our thank yous to everyone and phoning all the friends and relatives to wish them a happy Christmas. I wish my children can experience the magic of Christmas right in the Philippines but since they can't I'm sure we captured the spirit by being together and cherishing our company with our little meals and whatever gifts we can come up with. :)

Roast Ribs of Beef

Roast Ribs of Beef

one whole slab of prime ribs or forerib of beef (on the bone)
sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 240°C/fan 220°C/475°F.
  2. Place beef on a roast pan and rub all over with the sea salt. If meat has some fat on one side/edge, try to position it so that the fat is at the top so that the fat rendered will drip down on the meat and keep it moist.
  3. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes.
  4. Lower heat to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F and bake with the additional cooking time depending on the weight of the beef. The general rule of thumb would be 20 minutes per pound of meat for rare, 25 minutes for medium rare, and 30 minutes for well done. You may baste the meat from time to time with its own dripping.
  5. Remove from pan (do not discard drippings) and transfer to a serving platter cover with foil and let rest for up to 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Beef Gravy

beef fat and drippings
2 heaping Tbsp flour
2-3 cups stock (approximate)
salt and freshly milled black pepper
  1. Remove the beef fat from the roasting pan but retain about 2 Tbsp.
  2. Put the roasting tin on the cooker hob and heat up the fat.
  3. Once moderately hot, sprinkle the flour on it. Blend in the flour well (preferably with a wire whisk)with the fat.
  4. Add the stock gradually while continually stirring making sure to scrape the bottom for all the roasting bits left in the pan.
  5. Bring to boil. Add more stock or water if it's too thick.
  6. Taste the gravy; add salt and/or pepper if necessary. Serve hot.

Now this one, I was quite amazed how homemade roast potatoes would taste so invariably superior to store bought ones - frozen or otherwise. It was simply superb my kids were raving about it. I adapted this from the November 2005 edition of the BBC Good Food magazine which they dubbed as 'The Ultimate Roast Potatoes'.

Roast Potatoes

Roast Potatoes

1.5 kg  floury potatoes (preferably Maris Piper) - peeled and evenly quartered
2 tsp flour or cornflour (cornstarch)
1/3 cup oil (goose fat, olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.)
sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F.
  2. Put potatoes in a saucepan. Add salt (about 1 tsp) and enough water to cover it. Bring to boil. Once it boils, lower heat to medium-low and start timing it for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour oil in a clean roasting pan and place it in the oven.
  4. Drain water completely from the saucepan. Put the cover on then shake the pan back and forth. This is to rough up the outside of the potatoes to give it that crispy outer covering.
  5. Sprinkle the flour on the potatoes and shake it some more.
  6. Carefully put the potatoes in the hot fat in the roasting pan. Spread in a single layer making sure they have plenty of room. Turn or baste them to make sure they are coated with oil all over.
  7. Roast for 20 minutes then take them out of the oven and turn the potatoes over.
  8. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes and turn them over again.
  9. Roast a further 10-20 minutes or however it takes to make them golden and crisp.
  10. Sprinkle sea salt over, put in serving platter and serve right away.

Okay are you ready to see a monster? I made a leche flan a few days before and I thought I would use up the extra egg whites by making this longed for dessert that I saw in the Good Housekeeping magazine eons ago. I didn't bargain for it to be this humongous. Even when I was beating it up, my puny little handheld mixer was drowning from too much meringue that I thought it was gonna die on me. But still I plodded on and out came this huge ... thing ... which would be perfect as a some 'shock and awe' type of dessert in dinner parties. Not for small family dinners because no matter how delectable it is (which this certainly was) there's just too much of it to be consumed in 1, 2, even 3 sittings. Though I did love the nuggets of marshmallows and chocolates in the ice cream (shades of rocky road!) then combined with the freshness of the banana then the crunch of the meringue with almonds. Hmmmm ...

Marshmallow Meringue Cake

225 g  [scant 1 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
125 g  light brown sugar
6 large egg whites
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp vinegar
50 g  flaked almonds - toasted (optional)
150 g  small white marshmallows
1 liter good quality vanilla ice cream
150 g  dark chocolate - chopped
4 bananas - sliced
chocolate savings and icing sugar to dust
  1. The meringue must be done at least a day before serving. Trace two 23cm (9 inch) circles on two baking parchment paper set on two baking sheets.
  2. Sift the caster sugar and brown sugars together in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven at 120°C/fan 100°C/250°F.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they're stiff and dry.
  5. Whisk in the sugars, one tablespoon at a time, until mixture is glossy and very stiff (about 5 minutes).
  6. Then whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.
  7. Spoon half the meringue on one of the baking parchment papers in a garland shape.
  8. Spread the other half in the other parchment paper evenly to cover it completely.
  9. Sprinkle both with the toasted almond flakes.
  10. Bake for 2-2.5 hours. Turn off oven and leave the meringues inside to cool for at least 30 minutes (or you may leave it there overnight).
  11. A few hours before serving, soften the ice cream by transferring it to the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  12. Once soft, put in a bowl and fold in the marshmallows and chopped chocolates.
  13. Put back in the freeze for about 30 minutes to firm it up.
  14. To assemble, place the meringue circle on a large serving plate. Arrange the sliced bananas on top in a single layer. Spoon the ice cream mixture over the bananas. Then place the garland meringue on top. Decorate with chocolate shavings and dust with some icing sugar. Serve.
Note: To freeze ahead: complete the whole recipe without decorating with chocolate shavings and icing sugar; wrap it and freeze. To serve, take from the freezer and unwrap. Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours, then leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. Decorate and serve.

Lasang Pinoy 5

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