A Good Twist

February 18, 2015 § 2 Comments

It has been a while, I know. It’s not that I haven’t been around; it’s just that so many things have come to pass; new turn of events had me traveling here and there, back and forth. It had kept me moving about I haven’t had time to tinker around the kitchen. I miss that. Untitled-4 And with the many changes occurring lately, all I want to make and have are food that comforts, that reminds of childhood. Food that gives me the warm fuzzies. Untitled-1 I used to have a recipe for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, back in the days when I was baking a lot. Then I stopped and lost all my recipes from my youth. Untitled-3 I wish I could claim to have thought to make this because this Brown Butter Pineapple Upside Down Cake is just amazing. The sweet, tangy pineapple and the salty, nutty taste of brown butter took this very classic cake and turned it up a notch. Like my life today, it is a mix of old and new, and me loving the new a lot more that the old.

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Savoring Ronda

May 25, 2014 § 4 Comments

Andalusia is undeniably one of Spain’s most diverse, stunning, and enthralling region.  I knew that.  Yet it didn’t prepare me for Ronda.

rock-outcrop

This city in Malaga sits on a plateau of a massive rock outcrop, creating a dramatic terrain and a seriously picturesque vista.

picturesque-vista

However, its charm extends to more than just the landscape;

charming-mountain-town

the cuisine, linked to a deep history, was a revelation, a real delight with more than a handful of fine restaurants and tapas bar to indulge in.

One of the most enjoyable ways to understand Andalusian food is to follow the crowds into a typical bar and try their tapas,

taperia

savored with a glass of vino tinto. Did you know that the region produces the best wines in Spain?

vino-tinto

And the ham!  The Iberico ham from Jabugo in Huelga is known to be (and I can attest to that) Spain’s best ham.

Tapas at Doña Pepa

Ten days in Morocco have induced (in us) an immense appetite for pork and where else do we go? Into a restaurant that has this on display.

Jamon

Restaurante de Doña Pepa, right around the Plaza del Socorro, called out to us.

El-Bodegon-de-Dona-Pepa

We entered and never left—our server, Javier, never gave us a chance. With his help, we ordered and devoured plate after plate of lovely Andalusian dishes (mostly pork oriented).

Jamon-Iberico

Our first Andalusian meal may not have been a bar hopping experience,

Dona-Pepa-tapasClockwise: Montadito, Crullentito de chorizo, Croquettas, Cochifrito, Flamenquin, Gambas ala Rodena

but every plate that came out spelled happiness, cravings satisfied and more. Then after all that, Javier delighted us with a sampling of a plateful of desserts,

plateful-of-dessert

ending a long day of traveling with happy spirits despite the gloomy weather.

The Breakfast at Hotel Colon

Waking up to breakfast of sublimely simple tostada con tomate y aceite (toast with crushed tomato and olive oil) is almost haunting.  With just a pinch of salt, the sweetness of both tomatoes and olive oil marries into something magical. This seemingly simple, bland breakfast transforms into a delectably complex feast in the mouth.  Haunting, I tell ya… haunting!

hotel-colonView from the balcony of the room.

The family run, centrally located Hotel Colon seemed to be a go-to of the locals.

hotel-colon-coffee-shop

Halfway through breakfast, the coffee shop filled up quickly with people tucked in their favorite corner, browsing through the daily, leisurely enjoying their coffee and breakfast.

coffee-and-pastry

Good coffee and wondrous pastries draw crowds into this unpretentious eatery the whole day.

Rabo de Toro and Bullfighting

Ronda is where modern bullfighting began but because it is tucked away in the mountains, bullfighting season in this city is intermittent.

bullring

But that does not stop its people from celebrating the sport. It is known as the home to bullfight after all. Many establishments in this town serve superb Rabo de Toro (tail of the bull)—an Andalusian medieval dish using tails of corrida-slaughtered bulls.

rabo-de-toroRabo de Toro

Restaurante Pedro Romero, opposite the bullring, is where you want to have your first taste of the celebrated oxtail stew.

partridge-patePartridge Pate

secreto-ibericoIberian pork in basil oil and capers

Turning out classic rondeño dishes, this restaurant, named after the legendary bullfighter from the Romero family, was a fine prelude to a profusion of Andalusian meals to come.

Devastations and Tarte Tatins

December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last month was a month of total devastation in my part of the world,  devastation that is unexpected by many, me included.   The most powerful tropical cyclone of the year hit our shores on November 8.  Super typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, smashed into most of the Visayas and some parts of Luzon in central Philippines, affecting more than 10 million people.

5083696-3x2-940x627

Survivors stand among debris and ruins of houses destroyed after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines November 10, 2013.  Credits:  Reuter: Erik de Castro 

With winds that clocked in at average strength of 196 mph (314 kph), Yolanda’s rampage left a city and many islands in ruins, a population with no homes, and countless bodies still being found almost a month after.

I am writing this in the safety of my home, 850km away from the disaster zone.  I shuddered at the thought of what it would have been like if it had hit the metropolis and I count my blessings.  I do my best to help in every little way I can – donations, feeding the volunteers, and eventually feeding the survivors that found their way to Manila.  Not enough, if you ask me, but what is enough?

This turn of events has left me heavy-hearted and shaken, and I turned to one thing that always calms me.  I baked.

whole-4

I’ve always wanted to make Tarte Tatins – a killer sticky sweet caramel-topped French treat that was originally made with apples.  Many, through the years, have twisted the recipes to use different fruits – pears, bananas, peaches, pineapple – I chose to use guavas.  Guavas are heavenly when preserved in sugar.

whole-2

It is one of the easiest to make but likewise one of the hardest.  This tart is made upside down by cooking the fruit in butter and sugar in a heavy-based oven-proof skillet, then topped with pastry before baking.  That’s the easy part.  The hard part is flipping the tart (down side up) without making a mess and burning oneself.

whole

I used two large guavas, which, I think could use more.  So depending on the size of the guavas, you may choose to use three large guavas.

Guava Tarte Tatin

(recipe adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need:

  • 2-3 large Guavas (I used Apple Guavas)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter
  • 1 1/3 cup (266 grams) sugar, divided
  • Puffed pastry, chilled
  • A 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heavy enough that you fear dropping it on your toes

What You Do:

  1. Peel guavas, cut lengthwise into quarters and core (you don’t want the seeds). Then cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge.
  2. Toss guavas with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes to help release the guava’s juices.making-caramel
  3. Melt butter in an oven-proofed skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining (1 cup) sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes a pale caramel color.
  4. Off the heat, add the guavas to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any more guava wedges left rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.cooking-the-guava
  5. Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the guavas and baste them with the caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your guavas in the center are cooking faster, rotate guavas. The guavas will shrink a bit by the end of the cooking time.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Roll out your puffed pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry over guavas. Tuck it in around the guavas for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  7. Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan) over the pasty and tip over the pastry and guavas at once onto the plate. If any guavas remain in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.
  8. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped crème fraîche, or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

 Sliced

Tips:

  • Try other variations:  bananas, pears, apples (of course) — although I haven’t tried making any of these yet.
  • If you don’t have an oven-proofed pan, cook the fruit in a heavy based frying pan, then transfer them into a similar sized pie dish and top with pastry before baking.
  • You can cook this one day ahead, keep it in the mold and reheat in a preheated oven at 150°C for 20 minutes but it is best 1 hour after cooking when still warm.

Macau Eats

August 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

Macau-eatsCredits:  Paper by Haynay Designs from the Scrapmatters’ Life Little Surprises kit

On board the TurboJet catamaran en route to Macau, I mentally planned our next few days in a city best known today as a high-rolling-casino-lover’s haven.  Not by any means my cup of tea, but there is more to this glitzy casino city than just the sin and the bling.  Although heavily dependent on gambling, Macau’s real attraction (in my opinion) has always been the food.  As an ex-Portuguese colony, Macau has married Asian and Mediterranean in its culture, architecture and even in its cuisine.

grand-lisboaThe Grand Lisboa

The flavors of Portugal intermingled with the Chinese and strongly influenced by the Southeast Asians, Africans, and South Americans has brought out a real fusion between East and West and has evolved to what is known today as Macanese cuisine.  The result is earthy and rich in texture, flavor, and aroma.

Macanese food aside, the presence of raved about, quality establishments worthy of a Michelin star or two scatter around this peninsula making Macau a dining spectacle it is today.

First off our agenda: Dim sum

roasted-mushroom-goose-liver-pateRoasted Mushroom topped with goose liver pate

On the 2nd floor of the east wing of Hotel Lisboa is Portas do Sol.  Contrary to its name, it is a “typical” Chinese restaurant, well-lit with a lively atmosphere, serving dim sum dishes as well as Chinese haute cuisine with season specialties.  The extensive dim sum list reveals familiar and unfamiliar but exciting dishes.  Mostly from the Chef’s recommendation, the dishes we chose were as ambrosial as its presentation.

portas-do-solClockwise:  Steamed rice flour with preserved vegetables and barbecued pork, Steamed river shrimp dumplings flavored with basil, Deep fried wonton in sweet and sour sauce, Deep fried spare ribs with garlic and honey sauce, Deep fried diced garoupa in mustard sauce

Margaret

Margaret's-Cafe-e-Nata

Then we walked down the street to a small alley.  Tucked away in that alley is a small café selling the much talked about egg tarts.  Creamy custard centers, slightly burnt caramel, buttery flaky crust – no wonder Margaret’s Cafe e Nata has queues any day of the week… well except Wednesdays, which was when we first found this hole-in-the-wall, darn!  I found myself walking the same route from Hotel Lisboa the next day.  I walked down Avenida Infante D. Henrique, passed the Grand Lisboa, crossed Avenida de Joao IV and veered right on that street until I saw a small (Margaret’s Café) sign pointing into an alley.  I followed that sign and joined the others in the queue and in less than 30 minutes, I was skipping my way back to the hotel with four pieces of exquisite Portuguese egg tarts to be devoured at the comfort of our room with some leftovers, which held up well for breakfast the next day.

pastel-e-nata

A Crossover from Hong Kong

This upscale restaurant has branches in Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai. Chef and owner Tao Hwa Yan, once an apprentice to a legendary Cantonese Chef, Master Lee Choi, opened Tim’s Kitchen in a quiet street in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong in 2000.  Bringing with him the techniques he learned with the master, the restaurant started as an on-site private dining serving traditional Cantonese cuisine.  In 2007, Stanley Ho invited him to open a branch in Hotel Lisboa in Macau.  With both HK and Macau branches currently given a Michelin star, Tim’s is not cheap but worth a visit.

roasted-pigeon

The waiters know their menu, and although we failed to order their (pre-ordered) signature dishes, the recommended succulent baked pigeon with preserved veggies wrapped in lotus leaves had us licking our fingers.

Tim's-kitchen

Other just as good dishes recommended to us were: Sautéed scallops with fungus and chives with XO sauce, Fried rice with minced beef, onions and shallots, and Pan fried pork pie with salted fish.

Antonio

Trade in the gilded casino floor at the Venetian for a quaint cobblestone lane lined with Portuguese styled pastel townhouses in Old Taipa Village.  In one of these houses, at the corner of Rua dos Clerigos is Antonio.

Antonio-facade

Not easy to find, we wandered around way before lunch hoping to get a table.  And in a small Alley, we chanced on some Filipino restaurant staff who happened to be taking their breaks from THE Antonio’s kitchen.  With their help, we managed to get ourselves a table.  Antonio Coelho has been preparing authentic Portuguese food in Macau since he relocated in 1997.

baked-duck-rice

Arroz de Pato – shredded duck, rice, and preserved sausage baked into a flavorful, aromatic dish.  A signature dish not to be missed.

AntonioFrom Left:  Clams in white wine and olive oil, Pork Tenderloin steak, Portuguese style served with fried egg, a pitcher of Sangria.

Following the hearty meal, we wandered around the old village.

pork-bun-line

In a corner, near the Pak Tai Temple, we see a line forming but much as we would love to try Tai Lei Loi Kei’s famous Pork Chop bun, dessert appeals more than the bun.  This will have to wait.  So we walked back to Antonio to where he opened a café across.

casa-do-antonio

We found our corner and ordered 2 amazing desserts to die for.

Antonio-desserts

The Serradura is as velvety as this one and the orange roll is a perfect combination of moist cake, orange liqueur and caramel.  Did I say to die for?

 
Portas do Sol
2/F East wing of Hotel Lisboa,
Avenida de Lisboa, Macau
For reservations call: (853) 8803-3100
 
Margaret’s Café e Nata
Edificio Kam Loi
Rua Almirante Costa Cabral, Macau
 
Tim’s Kitchen
Lobby Level East wing of Hotel Lisboa
Avenida de Lisboa, Macau
For reservations call: (853) 8803-3682
 
Antonio
Rua dos Clerigos No. 7
Old Taipa Village, Macau
For reservations call: (853) 2899-9998

Making Tiramisu

March 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

Credits:  Papers by Sahlin Studio from the Art and Soul kit and Crystal Wilkerson from the Room Collection kit; Elements by Sahlin Studio from the Art and Soul kit for the lace, Ezane from ScrapMatters’ Life’s Little Surprises kit for the journal.

It’s not just another Saturday – it’s the 3rd  Saturday since I moved to my new place.  It has been 2 weeks of unpacking, arranging and cleaning whenever I’m home.

Today I declared a cleaning and arranging time out.  I just want to rest and appreciate my new home.  To celebrate my moving in – so to speak, I invited some friends over for dessert and coffee after dinner.  I’m not ready to invite them for the real deal.  Kitchen still not ready for that, or should I say, I’m not ready for that… haha!

Anyhow, I made tiramisu, my 2nd attempt actually.  The first one failed because I used our local broas – you know the one I used to make this.  It went all watery on me.  The broas was too light, it soaked up a lot of the espresso;

I went and bought this instead.  It’s much denser and holds well when soaked in liquid.

Tiramisu

What you need:

  • 3 large Eggs, with yolks and whites separated
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone
  • 20 Lady Fingers
  • 1 cup Espresso or Strong Coffee
  • 2 tbsp. Cognac or Brandy
  • 1 cup Cocoa

What you do:

1. Combine 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon Espresso, sugar, and Cognac into the large mixing bowl.

2. Beat 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add Mascarpone and beat 3 to 5 minutes until consistency is smooth.

4. In another bowl, combine 3 egg whites and a pinch of sugar. Beat until mixture forms stiff peaks.

5. Gently fold into Mascarpone mixture.

6. Pour rest of Espresso into a flat dish, dip one side of each Lady Finger, and layer on bottom of serving dish.

7. Spread 1/3 of the Mascarpone mixture and sprinkle with cocoa.

8. Continue layering and finish with a Mascarpone layer.

9. Sprinkle with cocoa and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

This is the way to dazzle, I must say.  A no bake dessert that is impressive in flavors – it’s the Cognac.  Simple enough allowing me lots of time before dinner to relax and enjoy the flat.

A Blessed Christmas

December 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Christmas is here and I almost missed it.  It has been crazy catching up with work, fixing my new flat, buying presents, getting together, family reunions…  I could go on and on.  So forgive me, if you will, for not posting a recipe this month.

I’m making it up now by featuring a yummy dessert I got as a present this Christmas.  It’s called Sans Rival Chips and it’s brilliant for the season especially when you’ve had too much to eat.  These chips sans the butter is a great alternative to a sans rival craving… perfect for the season.

Have a Blessed Christmas everyone.

Sans Rival Chips
Fudgies by Jenny S
Contact:  (63) 917-888-1122; (632) 852-0557

Scones and Backaches

September 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

A few months ago, I hurt my back that rendered me useless for a few days.  “Move around”, a friend suggested.  Good advice except that with my tiny studio loaded with all sorts of junk I couldn’t really move around much.  I had this crazy idea to bake – crazy because I could hardly stand up, much less bend.  I did it anyway as I had longed to make some scones with the dried mangoes and candied ginger I purchased a while back.  The scone recipe I learned from a high school friend, now a chef.  It produced scones that are crusty on the outside but light and soft (almost creamy) on the inside.

Quite a versatile piece of cake, bread, biscuit or whatever you might want to compare it with.  While some like it with tea as a snack or dessert, I prefer it with coffee for my breakfast.  Whichever way you have it, there are endless combination you can do with a basic scone recipe, truth be told.  I once combined dried cranberries and chocolate chips.  I have in mind to try it with bacon and cheese for a savory treat someday.

Mango and ginger however, is the best combination I’ve made so far.  Sweet, slightly sour from the mango, hot and spicy from the ginger – a wonderful union, I must say.  Great scones aside, it actually alleviated that nasty ache.

Mango and Ginger Mini Scones

What you need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup dried mangoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, cut into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚ C
  2. Mix all dry ingredients.
  3. Add the heavy cream to get a soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly.
  5. Flatten dough to ½-inch thick.
  6. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with some sugar.
  7. Cut into wedges and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and crusty.

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