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PalwithnoovenP's blog

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

In my last post, my writing in English was complimented by some TFLers. Since this is my last post in the last day of the year (in a few minutes it will be already 2016 here), I will make this special by writing in my first language (We are a former Spanish colony and although we don't speak Spanish, we retained some of their words. If you speak Spanish, you may find similar words with different spelling but the same meaning), it has also many pictures because I also want to show a way of life here. Most words and phrases do not have a direct English translation, there is always something lost in translation so our language is one of the least accurately translated by google translate but don’t worry, I will provide translations. In my country, most are bilingual and we often change languages not only mid sentence sometimes even alternately by word or phrase, we also often conjugate English verbs with our own conjugations that even include “verbing” of nouns. As a result (in my opinion) one never really becomes proficient in any of the languages; in English, often lacking appropriate vocabulary or not being able to utter their speech smoothly and in our language,using wrong verb conjugations and noun forms. This is my way of maintaining my fluency in both languages and to let other people hear our beautiful language.



Ang tinapay na ito ay hango mula sa isang kakanin mula sa timog na bahagi ng aming bansa. Ang karamihan ng mga naninirahan dito ay mga Muslim na hindi nasakop ng mga dayuhan kaya nanatili ang kanilang relihiyon at natatanging kultura at mga pagkain. Gawa mula sa niyog,asukal at giniling na bigas; ang kakaning ito ay kadalasang inihahain lamang tuwing my kasalan at sa mga dugong bughaw. Ito ay tinawag kong Dayang dayang kasunod ng pangalan ng pinakatanyag na prinsesa mula sa lugar.

This bread was inspired by a delicacy from the southern part of our country. Most of the population there is predominantly Muslim who resisted colonization that’s why they preserved their religion and unique culture and cuisine. Made from coconut, sugar and ground rice, this delicacy is often only served in weddings or to Royal bloods. I am calling this Dayang dayang in honor of the famous princess from the island.




Marami kaming niyog sa aming bakuran at kailan lang ay pinapitas ng aking ama ang mga bunga nito. Marami kaming nakuhang bunga, parehong may buko at niyog. Para sa tinapay na ito, niyog ang aming ginamit. Kinudkod ito ng aking ama at mula rito ay ginawa niya ang isa sa pinakasikat niyang panghimagas. Maaring pamilyar kayo sa di-kuryenteng pangkudkod ng niyog ngunit para sa gamit na ito, ang pakamay na pagkukudkod lamang ang natatanging paraan para sa tamang lasa at linamnam. Ang mga niyog naman na hindi na maganda o masyadong nang matigas ay hindi masasayang dahil ito ay magandang pakain para sa mga manok.

We have many coconut trees in our yard and just recently my dad had their fruits picked. We got many coconuts, young and mature alike. For this bread, we used the mature coconut. My dad grated it and from it, he made one of his famous sweets. Maybe you are familiar with the electric coconut grater but for this application hand grating is the only option to achieve the right taste. Those coconuts that are bad or too hard won't go to waste because they are excellent chicken feed.





Ito ang aming kudkuran na bago. May paa na ito at mataas na ngunit dahil matangkad ang daddy ko, ipinapatong pa rin niya ito sa mas mataas na upuan para hindi siya mahirapan ‘pag nagkukudkod.

This is our new coconut grater. It has legs already and made taller than our previous one but because my dad is tall, he still puts it on a higher chair so it won’t be difficult for him while grating.



Ito naman ang aming lumang kukudkuran. Mula nang magkaisip ako, ito na ang ginagamit ng aking ama kapag nagkukudkod siya ng niyog at sigurado akong mas matanda pa ito sa akin. Pinalitan na lang ito ng bago mga ilang taon pa lang ang nakararaan. Di gaya ng bago naming kukudkuran, mababa ito kaya mas mahirap gamitin at sa hagdan ito  inilalagay para magamit ito ng maayos.

This is our old coconut grater. Ever since I became aware of this world, this is already what my dad is using when he is grating coconuts and I’m sure it is older than me. It was just replaced a few years ago. Unlike our new grater, it is low that’s why it is more difficult to use; it is used at the stairs to facilitate proper usage







Upang kumpletuhin ang tinapay na ito gaya rin ng nasabing kakanin, kailangan natin itong budburan ng  pulbos para sa kakaibang lasa at texture. Ang ginamit ko rito ay isang tustadong keyk na tinusta ko pa sa kawali para lalong lumutong at tsaka ko dinikdik sa almires.hanggang maging pino. Naaalala ko ang almires na batong ito na noong hindi pa uso rito ang arinang bigas, ay iginiwa ako ni daddy rito. Mano mano niyang dinikdik ang bigas para sa akin dahil kailangan ko ito para sa isang proyekto sa paaralan. Tulad ng kudkuran ang almires na ito ay mas matanda rin sa akin.
 
To complete this bread like the said delicacy we need some sort of a powder for a unique taste and texture. To make it, I used a toasted sponge cake from the store that I toasted further in a skillet to make it crisper then I pounded it in a mortar and pestle until fine. I remember this stone mortar and pestle; back when rice flour was still unheard of in our area, dad made some using it. He manually pounded some rice into flour for me because I need it for a school project. Like the coconut grater, this mortar and pestle is older than me.





Ang tinapay na ito ay tunay na kolaborasyon namin ng aking ama. Siya ang gumawa ng niyog na pangunahing pagmumulan ng lasa at ako naman ang gumawa ng mismong tinapay. Matapos mamasa, ang niyog ay ihahalo na sa pamamagitan ng maingat na pagtutupi. Matapos itong paalsahin nang magdamag sa ref, ito ay tinilad-tilad ko sa mga parisukat na piraso, pinaalsa ko itong muli ng apatnapung minuto. Iprinito ko ito sa kumukulong mantika hanggang pumula. Matapos itong hanguin ay patutuluin ang mantika ng ilang sandali at dali-daling pagugulungin sa pinulbos na tustadong keyk.

This bread is really a collaborative effort between me and my dad. He is the one who made the grated coconut sweet which will be the primary flavor source of the bread and I am the one who actually made the bread. After it was kneaded, the coconut was blended through a series of folds then it went into the fridge for overnight bulk fermentation. Next day, I cut it into square pieces and fried it in hot oil until golden then they were allowed to drain for a few moments then immediately rolled in the cake crumbs.







Ang tinapay ay malutong sa labas at sa loob ito’y malambot at hindi puro hangin at may sapat na kunat para may kasiya-siyang manguya ang kakain at ang tinustang mugmog ng keyk ay may kaaya-ayang gaspang. Ang lasa ng niyog ay nangingibabaw at bagay na bagay sa tustadong lasa ng pinulbos na keyk.

The bread is crispy on the outside and soft and substantial inside with a nice springy texture that’s enjoyable to chew and the toasted cake crumbs provide a nice gritty interesting texture. The coconut flavor really comes through and goes well with the toasty flavor of the cake
crumbs.







Nang malapit ko nang maubos ang isang piraso, nagulat ako sa malaking butas na tumambad sa akin. Katulad ito ng mga butas sa lean hearth breads. Ano kaya ang naging dahilan nito? Tunay itong kakaiba para sa isang tinapay na may masang minasang mabuti.

As I was about to finish one, I was surprised as a large hole appeared after I took a bite. It's like the holes in the crumb of a lean hearth loaf. What maybe the reason for this? It is really strange for a bread with an intensively kneaded dough.







Short Lesson:

Tinapay = Bread
Trigo = Wheat
Harina/Arina = Flour
Tubig = Water
Asin = Salt
Lebadura = Yeast

Wow! My brain just had a tough workout but it's really worth it! Let me just share my story of languages. I am already a fluent speaker of two languages and though not as fluent as my mother, I could also speak her language as my third language that I can hold a conversation for hours. In high school I considered studying Japanese but was scared by their different word order of S-O-V so I decided against it, now I’m older I noticed that my first language has a very unusual word order. English has S-V-O, ours had V-S-O; realizing that I became fluent in English which has a very different grammar, I now have no fear in studying another language; with time, dedication and passion, I can become fluent in it. Just last month, I studied French to take a break from Mandarin because characters just overwhelmed me at that time and I am enjoying my French study. To kill time, I study languages so instead of clash of clans or other game apps, you will find pleco and duolingo in my phone. Having studied several languages, it just fascinates me about the different aspects of a language and which is the most difficult for learners, for example: we have consistent pronunciation but foreigners find case marking, linkers, verb inflections, and word order very difficult; I could already read Cyrillic but can’t grasp Russian grammar; I could remember most of French verb endings in writing but pronunciation is the most difficult part; and speaking is the easiest part of Mandarin but do not talk about reading and writing! With this I appreciate differences even more and I am more fascinated in the world.

Now, I’m starting to feel my “Mandarin fire” burning again and I will go back studying it in the New Year but I will not leave my French study either! As I was studying French for a month I learnt better through French chansons and I recently discovered great francophone artists like Mireille Matthieu, Françoise Hardy, Joe Dassin and Christophe; I can't stop listening to their beautiful songs. I hope that I’ll be fluent in French and Mandarin by my early or mid thirties just like how ten years of English study made me fluent in it.



Remember the roasted piglet last week? We stretched for a whole week and made some dishes with it so aside from the wrap we also made some stew and soup.





Lechon Paksiw is the classic way to give life to leftover lechon when the skin is not crispy anymore. Stewing it make it gelatinous and tender that it melts in the mouth. We used the tail and trotter for that sticky sauce quality.






Sinigang na Lechon is a new dish for leftover lechon. It is a clear soup with vegetables flavored with tamarind. We used the ribs and trotter for a rich flavored and full bodied soup.







Someone also gave us large prawns. Simply boiled and eaten with vinegar, they were so delicious!



We really had a great year and we thank God for it! I hope it will be the same or even better for next year!

Thank you very much and Happy New Year!


From Pochi, Bimbo, and Fedra: Happy New Year!

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

Yesterday was one of the happiest days of my life! By noon, we went to an unassuming neighborhood to have the best gastronomic experience to date! There, waiting for us is a whole roast pork for us to take home; golden and crackling!



This roast pork was already planned by my dad months ago as a special treat for the whole family. Roast pork is called Lechon/Litson here and is considered a national dish here. It is a popular status symbol back then and often the importance of the occasion is measured by its presence. Though full of fat and cholesterol, it was so delicious and having it once in a while is a real treat. Most lechon came from commercial farms who employed vitamins and feeds for the pigs and large companies roast thousands using modern machinery. It's our first time to have a pork roasted for ourselves; we only have them in parties/dinners/celebrations of friends and relatives and occasionally by the kilo from the market. Dad just learned the best kept secret of roast pork so we tried it for first our roast ever.

Organic lechon is still not widely known here and only a few gets to enjoy its exceptional flavor. By late August, dad talked to a friend who is a pig raiser who is expecting a litter of piglets. We get to choose first the piglet that we want then every month we pay for his labor and the food for the piglet; we basically sponsor the piglet's needs for its entire life. The pig's food is very cheap since it's organic; just rice bran, vegetables, tender branches and leaves and fruits; it makes them very easy to grow but it also makes them slow to gain size. It's simple diet of plants is characteristic of its breed which came from the wild mountain hogs of the country. It is our native pig and very different from the commercial breeds, they are black, smaller and some have tusks making them resemble warthogs and wild boars.

Four months later when the piglet was already 15 kilos (this size could easily feed 10 people and there were only three of us eating it!), we made a trip to the Lechonero/Litsonero that my dad's friend knew and we negotiated the price for roasting the piglet. We made a good compromise since they will take care of all the process from slaughter to roasting. We really made a good choice, this man has enjoyed an excellent reputation for a good number of years, even decades!

This lechon is really artisanal from piglet selection to its diet to the roasting process. We patiently waited for four months so we entrusted this to only the best! After it was cleaned, it was skewered into a bamboo pole and  aromatic herbs where stuffed into the cavity then rubbed with a secret blend of spices. It was then roasted, manually hand turned for two hours over coals until cooked and crisp. This is the secret to the proper taste of lechon, how lechon should taste! 



We got home with the pig still hot from the fresh roast and we ripped it apart with our bare hands!  We first went for the crispy skin, at the slightest tap of the fingers it splintered and shattered into crispy sheets! Oh my, it's pure bliss! The whole family is partaking it without hesitation, fat drips from our lips and fingers to our clothes but we don't care!

This organic lechon (pig) really puts other lechon to shame! What I enjoyed back then seems like cardboard to me now. Daddy really knows best. The skin is super crispy and the meat is firm but tender and the fat is very thin, flavorful and meltingly tender that you will not think twice to eat it even if you know it's fat! It's good that the lechonero seasoned the pork well but what really sets it apart is intense porky flavor that you cannot find in other pigs; hot, cold, or room temperature, that flavor is present even in the deepest parts of the meat where virtually no seasoning could reach. The innards were also great, cooked simply in garlic and vinegar and of course; the liver sauce made from the pig's own liver was exceptional!

We already had the best part, when it was freshly roasted and the skin was very crisp we ate it on it's own and stuffed ourselves to capacity to take advantage of its best quality and our excitement and to savor its pure flavor without the sauce, then at night we ate it with rice and the sauce to stretch it a little since we're already satisfied with the earlier binge! Since it is large and we cannot finish it on the same day, we froze left overs to be eaten for the next couple of days with various dishes to stem from it from sandwiches to stew to soup. 



It's the best I've had and what makes it even more special is I had it out of my Father's love.




Weeks prior to the roast feast, I have already settled that I will serve the lechon in a different way than the usual with rice since this was special by serving it a la Peking Duck! Crispy skin is one of the main features of Peking duck and lechon boasts it too so I think it's a great way to highlight the crispy skin!

I have never had a Peking duck but I saw them served with thin pancakes, cucumbers, scallions and sweet bean sauce. I've also seen some served with steamed buns but I think the thin pancakes will complement the texture and flavor better than steamed buns. After some search, I've found a recipe for them with a very interesting technique. Sandwiches of dough are rolled flat, dry-fried, separated into halves then steamed.



They have to be really thin to have the right texture, chewy yet delicate and this can only be achieved by that technique. Luckily, I've managed to make them very thin even without a proper rolling pin, I just used a steel pipe that is not even perfectly flat. I hope I could improve them more next time. Still not bad, it's thin enough for light to pass through.



How I wish that I served them yesterday when the skin was perfectly crisp but I really don't have the energy to make bread following a sleepless night because of a bad acid reflux attack on Monday night. Today, the skin is not crispy anymore so I fried it and voila! It's crisp again but different. It's close to a lecharon portmanteau of lechon and chicharon, fried pork rinds. I can't emphasize this enough but I think it's really best if we had eaten this yesterday but even though it tastes different, there's nothing to complain! I served it just with cucumber because I was skeptical about the scallions, I don't know if it will complement the lechon flavor.








Interactive dining  is one of my most anticipated parts of a meal, it just makes the experience more fun and I think is best while chatting with friends and family. Let me take you to one of the highlights of our lunch today!

Thank you very much!


Lay the pancake on a plate.



Put a piece of juicy meat with fat.



Add a piece of cucumber for that refreshing flavor and crunch.



Do not forget that crispy pork skin!



Drizzle a little of the mandatory liver sauce...



Roll and Enjoy!!!

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

I made some boiled dumplings (jiaozi) the other day to expand my repertoire and just to try something new. They are rustic, comforting and a really nice alternative to buns, noodles and rice. Read here for more information and how to make them from scratch. Baozi and siumai are my favorite Chinese snacks and these are a new addition to those. I like their simplicity compared to steamed dumplings and pot sticker, drop the into boiling water and when they float they're done. Serve it with your favorite dipping sauce.


The dough before resting, very dry.

The dough is very simple with only three ingredients; flour, water and salt. As usual, I made these without a recipe and measurements. I just made a very dry dough and allowed it to rest for two hours. This resting is a crucial step for a proper dumpling dough, at first it looks very dry but after resting it will be a silky, smooth dough. It is easier to make dumplings with a drier dough so they can withstand boiling. For the filling, I just added stuff that we like.



After resting, it is kneaded some more and allowed to rest for a shorter time. It is then divided and rolled into sheets. I divided the dough into twenty pieces and rolled them five at a time and filled them immediately to avoid drying out. I made large three inch dumpling to cut down on prep and rolling time because I am the only one rolling, filling and cooking! Each dumpling wrapper must be rolled individually with thinner edges than the middle so when they are folded, the top pleats and bottom are somewhat of equal thickness. I made three different dumpling shapes to practice my pleating. This video presents eight beautiful techniques for wrapping dumplings.


After resting and second kneading, it's much softer, smoother and more manageable.

After a seven minute boil, they are ready. I served them on a very old plate. This is already my plate since I was five years old and I bet it's much older than me. The filling was meaty and flavorful and the dumpling skin was chewy yet delicate, silky and smooth. It's so delicious further complemented by the dipping sauce. If you make this, be sure to roll the wrappers thin enough and if you want to serve them in soup, go ahead! They will just be less delicate than wontons but they are a different beast and have their own charm.







I have more than enough wrappers for the filling so to avoid putting them in the fridge for later use, I turned them into noodles. I just cut them into half moons and boiled them. Oh my! This dumpling dough also make fine noodles. They're very delicious just with soy sauce without anymore accompaniments.





Thank you very much!

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

I've never had a pumpkin pie in my entire life because pumpkins and/or squashes are just meant to be savory here. I can't imagine pumpkin as sweet before, then it became a trend to put it in desserts because of the flavor and health benefits; still haven't tasted a sweet with pumpkin. So, pumpkin is generally accepted now to be used in sweet and savory alike but the idea of pumpkin pie with spices (some even call for black pepper and coriander) is still perplexing because the use of spices with sweets is not much accepted, it sure tastes alien here!

Last week, there was a conversation about pumpkin pie on Dabrownman's blog and it really made me want to taste pumpkin pie. I like to taste one to know the reason why every American I knew love the taste of sweet pumpkin with spices in a pastry shell. For me as always there's no other way to taste it than to make it myself as soon as possible.

(This is long post with a ton of pictures because I'm so happy of what I've achieved)

This weekend, my cousin brought us half of the lovely pumpkin (I don't know if it's a pumpkin or squash; what I just know is when I became aware of this world is THIS is the pumpkin or squash that I knew but I'll call it pumpkin in this post) that they harvested weighing more than two kilos. I said to myself that maybe it's really meant and it's the right time for me to make some pumpkin pie.



This pumpkin pie was totally unplanned! I tried to get my palate accustomed first to sweet pumpkin by just dipping my toes in the water, pumpkin sweets with simple clean flavors. First, I thought of making a pumpkin flan but I saw some spices used in pumpkin pie in my bunch of things so my thoughts shifted to a crust less pumpkin pie. When I am to begin my mind was struck again that it won't work so I changed my mind again, I'll just make a pumpkin flavored custard tart. Then again I got really curious about the taste of a pumpkin pie and I got all the ingredients I frequently saw on pumpkin pie recipes so finally I've settled that I will give it a shot. Okay, I am ready to check the internet for an exact recipe but there was no connection! I'll just have to rely on my memory on what I've seen on that recipe. I remembered it has maple syrup, evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.



I really winged this pie, the filling and the crust! I don't have a recipe to follow and I don't have many of the required ingredients in the kitchen. Well, it's not a problem! I am the kind that doesn't hesitate to improvise or substitute.

* I don't have evaporated milk but I have condensed milk- reduce the sugar and add some water. Solved!

*No maple syrup but I have golden syrup and honey- use honey because it will complement the spices better. Solved!

*No ground ginger- use fresh ginger. Solved!

*No butter for the pie crust- use oil and a bit of technique. Solved!



I didn't measure anything too because that's my game, it's where I'm used to. I made four mini ones and one large pie in my llaneras which are flan molds. Unfortunately, my molds won't allow me to crimp the edges which is my favorite part of pie making and I'm so good at it! :P

For the crust, I've read before that oil pie crusts are not as flaky as butter ones so I tapped on my background in oriental pastries. The spiral pastry made with alternating layers of water dough and oil dough is super flaky without even a chunk of butter and works every time so that's what I used here. I made both doughs by adding water and oil little by little until they had the right consistency. 



For the filling I cut off a decent-sized chunk from the pumpkin, sliced it thinly and boiled it until very soft. I then mashed it by hand and added other ingredients with cinnamon being the backbone of the spice flavor. I tasted and tasted it before adding the eggs and made it overly sweet on purpose so when the eggs are added, the sweetness will be right. I also went heavy with the salt for a tremendous flavor boost. Not so fast! Before adding the eggs I saw it was too thin because of too much water added as compensation for the condensed milk, it was like soup! When the eggs are added it will be much much more fluid unlike the pumpkin filling I saw on videos so I made a brave move, I cooked the filling on the top of the stove sans œufs until thickened. When I tasted it, I liked the flavor much better than the uncooked one, more intense and slightly caramelized. Yesterday I remembered txfarmer's favorite pumpkin pie that I read long ago and decided to read it and I was shocked (I've already made and eaten the pie before I read it) that it also calls for heating the ingredients before filling the pie so maybe this is a technique to keep. When the mixture was cool, I then mixed in the eggs.



I suddenly had plan; instead of baking the unbaked dough filled with the filling in my clay pot over a wood fire, I will employ a different technique to test a theory. I will try to bake this in a frying pan on top of our gas stove! To ensure a crisp crust, I will bake it first without the filling utilizing conduction from the mold to cook the dough on the bottom then I will flip it so the radiant heat from the pan will cook the dough from the top so it's really dry and crisp; then to ensure a silky filling, I will bake it at a low temperature and since it is technically a custard or flan, it can be steamed too!



What sounds good in theory doesn't always go smoothly in practice. The dough is a bit difficult to conform to the shape of the mold especially with the large one, I really rolled it into an oval to minimize waste and luckily none was wasted. I intended to serve these as a late afternoon snack but since it was unplanned and I began very late, I had to rush it that resulted in some mishaps. I forgot to  prick the base of the crust and five minutes later they have all puffed up like a balloon so I pricked them with a fork as best as I can to keep them flat. When the crust was cooked I immediately put the filling in and pour water on the pan to steam it, again as an effort to serve it that afternoon so I forgot to shake and tap the pan to raise the air bubbles so they left a mark at the top. I quickly covered it with the lid too not remembering to put a cloth so condensation dripped on the pies and left white marks on the top and a crack on one. If those didn't happen then this pie would have a very smooth top and a more vibrant color. Alright, I learned my lesson! 



The crust was VERY flaky and crisp, this one even managed to keep the spiral pattern too! It may not look like it was because it's pale but it really is. The crust without any barrier from the filling is still crisp even after four days in the fridge! It also goes well with the filling, what more if it's a butter crust!





The custard was smooth and silky, no cracking or weeping. It didn't dome over like most "baked" pumpkin pies. Its texture inside is closer to the one posted by txfarmer. It was spicy, yes and I admit that I really like it as first time maker and eater and I understand now why Americans love it, personally I would love it more if it was more spiced. Now, why it lasted for four days? Because I'm the only one who ate it! People here can't get past the aromatic spices especially the ginger and said "If it was just pumpkin then it would have been delicious or I could have eaten it!" No problem! More treats for me!



It was so delicious but it can be made better. This will be my adjustments next time:

*Use a proper all butter crust- it's my favorite and has the best flavor.

*Add some alcohol- I think it will be really nice; rum, brandy or whiskey, maybe a splash of Kahlua or Tia Maria will be good too for some coffee undertones.

*Add some nuts- walnuts or pecans would be a nice contrast to the silky filling.

*Use brown sugar and/or molasses- I think it is the ultimate complement to the pumpkin and spices.

*Stick to the sweet spice quartet- I'm not a fan of ginger so I'll ditch it. I'll add cloves because that's what I like then use more nutmeg and less cinnamon. I'm sorry cinnamon, it's time for you to move aside and let nutmeg take center stage.

*Make two batches- one for my spice loving self and one for my pumpkin loving friends!


I would like to close this with a satisfying sweet meal. Thank you very much!









PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

I just saw this photos again while I was browsing my album in my phone and they were almost a year old! These are made during my stay at the dorm while having my practicum. They are so easy and fun to make so I thought I'd go post them!

In our house, we don't have a microwave so even if mug cakes are already trendy I still can't experiment on them until I lived in the dorm. The dorm is complete with appliances from a stick blender to a rice cooker to a coffee maker to a microwave! Perfect! People around me are asking where am I getting those fragrant freshly baked cakes without any oven in the dorm, and I say in the microwave that they just use to reheat their food; they were really surprised though it is already common. I think any recipe will work in a microwave though some recipes might have a different texture than when baked in the oven.

For quick breads, baking in the microwave is quick and instant gratification. Mix a small amount of ingredients right in the mug, pop in the microwave and in 2-3 minutes you'll have your treat ready. It is also excellent for portion control. Or if you're in a hurry put a full recipe in a large microwavable bowl/container and in more or less than 5 minutes you'll have a large cake for everyone, perfect for a casual get together.

Strawberry swirl Calamansi mug cake- yellow cake rippled with strawberry jam soaked in calamansi (local lime) syrup






Cooking time depends on the wattage of the microwave. See Gemma Stafford's guidelines for more details here, she really inspired me to try bold things in the microwave and I created my own recipes inspired by hers. Pictured at the top is a calamansi mug cake, yellow cake with the juice of a local lime which has a very distinct taste. I don't even know the wattage of the microwave at the dorm so I just cook in short increments until done. I also used my largest coffee mug which has a capacity of 1 1/4 standard cup.

Plantain-Chocolate mug cake with Pistachio ice cream




Gemma's Chocolate-Banana-Peanut Butter mug cake 






Always clean the sides of the mug before baking if you're giving these to someone for a better presentation. Also be careful with saucy cakes, for my FIRST try I made a chocolate pudding cake and it boiled over and I have to clean the whole microwave. I always give some to my dormmates so I befriended many of them (most are Koreans) and in return I always received something from them like...

Rice Cooker Cheescake with caramel topping




Purple Yam Ice cream Chocolate cake


Unsliced kimbap ~ Eat like ice cream!!!


I hope you like these too!


Thank you very much!



PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

November 11, 2010 was the day Fedra was born and she's five years old today. Coincidentally, we had some nice stuff in the fridge as well so to celebrate her day I cooked some dishes for us, her and her other four legged friends. I had no more flour to bake with so this week is a test of my cooking skills.


The birthday girl!


Mom brought home some good bread from a nice bakery, homemade is still better but this bread is still good compared to what we can find here. All dishes I cooked are best with rice but they're great with bread too! We had them with rice for main meals and bread for in-between snacks!

Oriental Fried Chicken


Katnga (Dried Taro leaves cooked in coconut milk and chilies)


Fried Fishcakes


Spicy Fishcakes


Fishcake Soup



*Maybe we can have a kitchen apprentice (just like Dabrownman with Lucy) screening now for some fun. :P

Fedra is my yellow lab. She is the most hyper of all our canine companions. I can say she has the same personality (super fun loving but knows when to take matters seriously) as me that's why we became each other's partner in this household. She may become a good kitchen apprentice for me, don't you think? I have yet to train her not to eat when no one's looking. :P




This is Pochi, my dad's dog. I know he will not be a good apprentice for me because he obeys a strict chain of command with dad as the supreme commander. He will never do what I say when dad is around instead he will go behind dad as if asking for protection or confirmation.



From those photos about a year ago, Fedra has given birth and is now living with her son Bimbo; he is most likely to choose dad as his master. Her delivery has put her life in jeopardy and we almost lost her because the third pup was lodged in her birth canal for almost 18 hours, I can't imagine her pain! We brought her to the vet as soon as the clinic opened, they tried an assisted normal delivery to no avail so they had no choice but to perform a C-section or she'll die from infection. After 6 hours of waiting, 6 more alive and healthy pups were born and Bimbo was one of them. After two more days in the vet, Fedra and her pups were ready to go home. We took good care of them and they all grew big, strong and healthy!



We're really happy to see them playing together!



Sadly, I have no chicken livers for her now, it is her absolute favorite but in the coming days for sure she can have some since it's only once a year! We really had fun this week! I hope it's the same for all of you too!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FEDRA!!!



Thank you very much!

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

This is the style of empanada in the Ilocos region of northern Philippines. Living in a former Spanish colony; I've seen and tasted empanadas here close to the ones in Latin America, those with flaky crust filled with minced meat and potatoes and either baked or fried, just tweaked to the local palate but the people of Ilocos adapted the empanada like no other. The dough is made with rice flour filled with green unripe papaya, mung bean sprouts, longganisa (local garlic sausage), and a fresh egg then deep fried which makes it closer to a taco or spring roll. Fillings can be customized and can be vegan or a meat lovers delight; vendors are very creative with the names of the various combinations of the fillings like regular, special, seedless, jumbo, double double; refer to this blog for more information, it also tackles the difference between the two styles of Ilocos empanada namely Batac and Vigan style empanadas; more here.

I've never been to Ilocos and from the first time I saw it, it really got my interest and I really want to taste it. Luckily a friend recently had a trip and brought me some. It wasn't freshly fried but oh my! It was really awesome, what more if I had it fresh in Ilocos! I know it will still be a long long time from now before I can go there so to taste it again, I made my own! My Ilocos empanada is closer to the Batac style.



Finding a recipe for this is even more difficult than my previous posts. Most that I read used mochiko but I never heard of a glutinous rice making its way to an Ilocos empanada; it's the ONLY fact that I know, it is made with ordinary non-glutinous rice. Without finding a clue I just designed my own process, this is just my adaptation and does not necessarily mean it is the way they make it in Ilocos.  The dough has only two main ingredients, rice flour and water. You can also add annatto for color which is what I did here, I will certainly add more next time for a lovelier colour. Rice flour behaves very differently from wheat flour and being gluten free is very tricky to roll out thinly without tearing. It is only possible to roll them between sheets of wax paper which I don't have so I rolled them between banana leaves which is also traditionally used in Ilocos. They make it really look effortless making you think it will be the same at home but it's not! For my first attempt I ended up with fillings and torn dough pieces swimming in a pan full of boiling hot oil! It was a disaster! It's quite an ambitious project after all! This post is already my second attempt and I was quite surprised because I managed to slip them in the oil whole without cracks! Another proud moment for me! Still not as pretty but tastes the same. 

When you watch real empanada making, you'll be really amazed with their speed, coordination and efficiency. Watch here, here, here, here and here.

*When I cut my banana leaf from the tree, I noticed a banana heart! Looks like we'll have a bunch of bananas in a week!



Also, the cold northeastern winds are blowing now so it means purple yams! Unlike other yams, our yam does not grow underground instead they grow on hanging vines. This is the first yam of the year.




Back to the empanadas, this is the process that I did for what is called special empanada in Ilocos: (It's difficult to take pictures with oily hands! :P)

1) I rolled the rice dough between banana leaves. I just used a glass bottle because I don't have a proper rolling pin. A crater is then made with the green papaya to contain the egg.



2) Crumble sausage meat is added on top.



3) It is folded with the aid of the banana leaf.




4) The excess dough is trimmed with a plate to form a neat empanada shape.



5)It is flipped onto the hand and then slipped into the hot oil.



Maybe the oil was too hot that's why it had a lot of blisters, still pretty for me!



The crust was crispy and flavorful that you can even eat it alone, the papaya provided crunch, then there's the meaty flavor punch from the sausage and the creaminess of the egg; very delicious! It's really one of the best empanadas! It's even great with rice as a viand. Next time, I will even try to make the egg runny! It is best paired with vinegar with chilies optional but highly recommended! Ilocanos swear by cane vinegar but I and the whole family prefer palm vinegar. If you will be in Ilocos someday, definitely do not miss this along with their other delicacies!
.


After enjoying the empanada, we had a nice sunset that day too!




Thank you very much!

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

Hoptik is a portmanteau of hopia, a Chinese pastry (see here) and tikoy, the Chinese version of mochi. It is essentially a flaky pastry filled with bean paste with mochi in the center that's why they're sometimes called mochipia. I first had this in a Chinese restaurant and we all liked it so I made my own yesterday. The crust is different from my first hopia post because I opted for a more traditional one with a higher fat content. It is the Chinese puff pastry or more commonly known as spiral pastry made with alternating layers of water and oil dough like the ones used in Teochew mooncakes. Similarly, I used homemade bean paste in addition to my homemade mochi. Only a small amount of bean paste was used otherwise it will be too sweet. Since I made them larger than normal, I think they are closer to or another interpretation of a mooncake.



It was difficult to seal without destroying the spiral pattern so I messed up my first to but I made more decent pastries as I go along. Also, it looks burnt in the pictures but they're not. They are full-flavored with rich toasty notes. This is the prettiest one I made, you can clearly see the spiral pattern!




I made two variations on the wrapping.

With mochi in the center



With bean paste in the center



When properly made, they are extremely flaky!



Like the hopia, their flavor and texture improved after a day. Very delicious!


Thank you very much!

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

I first saw this bread about a year ago in this video by chowhound  where Alex Van Buren had it at Rhong-Tiam, a Thai restaurant in New york. I made a lot of research and found out that it is a very popular street food in Thailand. It has very interesting ingredients and technique and looks very delicious, I knew I have to make it but I did not have the guts to try until last Saturday. I do not know why it took me a year to finally make this but I'm really glad and proud of myself for achieving this, not really bad for a first try.

To make banana roti, an unleavened dough is stretched paper thin by flipping and slapping it against the work top then grilled on hot griddle; the center is then covered with a mixture of eggs and bananas and the sides are folded into a neat parcel before flipping it to cook both sides; when browned and crisp, it is cut into bite-sized pieces then drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and sprinkled with salt and sugar. Today there are different additions such as nutella, peanut butter, chocolate syrup, jam sprinkles; anything that goes well with banana is great with it but I think the classic is the best!
Here is a video of street vendor preparing it in Thailand.



The problem in replicating this bread at home as with most street food is the lack of resources on how it is exactly made. After watching countless videos, I only saw the cooking process as the dough making was never shown. I've tried to read on the web; some recipes I've read say it contains condensed milk, others say it has an egg but some even say that both or neither is needed. It's quite confusing! The choice of flour is also difficult because a strong but VERY extensible dough is needed. Though the recipes are confusing I noticed a common step which I think is the key to this type of bread; soaking the dough balls in oil. I thought of using oil instead of flour for the dough not to stick to the surface because I saw the dough is always oily when the vendor takes it out from his bucket  but not in this way. Armed  with that trick I went to make my own dough.

I used strong flour and kneaded less than usual for the balance of extensibility and strength. I added a little condensed milk but discarded the egg because I think the dough should be a little enriched but not too rich since it will be used for a dessert roti and I feel that it's really not necessary. No measurements too, just added water bit by bit until a nice smooth stiff but soft dough formed. After a short rest, it was divided into four balls and soaked in oil for two hours. A four hour soak is recommended and sometimes overnight but I don't have the time.



I proceeded to stretch the dough imitating the technique of  master roti makers in Thailand. The dough stretched really well with no resistance and with all the oil in the bowl my hands are non-greasy and smooth as soon as I finished stretching the dough like no oil touched it. Magic! I tried to stretch it as thin as I can but holes still formed in the dough, my technique needs refinement and practice; no matter what patchwork I do the dough just resists because of the oil. To add to that, I'm only using a large plate to stretch the dough and the masters are using a stainless steel surface because I don't know if it's okay to use oil on a wooden surface which is the only one I have. Here's one of those attempts.



I put it on a heated pan which is a challenge because it is difficult to maneuver the dough through its high sides. The thin sheet of dough is cooked instantly so you have to be lightning fast from this point on. I then put a banana and egg mixture and fold the sides. You'll immediately smell the banana the moment it hits the pan. When It was flipped I put some butter (vendors usually use margarine but I used butter since I don't stock margarine anymore) so it finishes frying in butter for extra delicious flavor. The whole house was filled with the lovely aroma of banana when I'm done cooking this.

Like anything, you'll really get better the more number of attempts you make:

1) This is my first one. The heat is too high so it was a little burnt. The filling also leaked out from a small hole making it look like a scrambled egg. I'm also "not yet into" the folding technique.



2) My second attempt. I overcompensated and left the dough too thick to avoid holes. It was more difficult to fold so it ended up looking funny, still delicious though.



3) My third roti. Getting better but the filling was not distributed well.



4) The last one. This the prettiest that I've managed. Cooked on gentler heat for a longer time, it was perfect. It was almost similar in looks to the real banana roti! I'm really happy!



The bread was crispy and soft with the slightest chew. The banana and egg became a smooth silky custard, very fragrant and delicious! Mom ate hers plain, dad with only condensed milk and I did it classic style, with additional sprinkling of salt and sugar. The sugar provided crunch and the salt cuts through the rich flavors but complements each well elevating this humble dessert to whole new levels. Very very good! I think they are really close to the ones you can get in Thailand







Until now, I still can't believe that I made it in my very own home. I just used to watch this in my laptop but now I have already made, eaten and shared it with my family and we all loved it! There's really nothing like this feeling of satisfaction, fulfillment and pride. I hope you've enjoyed this one as much as I do.


Thank you very much!

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

Hopia (好餅- hao bing in Mandarin) in Fookien literally means good cake/pastry, it was introduced by Chinese immigrants mostly from fujian in the country. They are ubiquitous snacks and can be found almost anywhere; in the general merchandise store in cartons at the street corner to most bakeries to high end Chinese delis in gift boxes. The classic versions are mung bean or pork fat filling enclosed in flaky pastry made by alternating layers of water and oil dough. Today different types of crusts are used and more flavors are available like purple yam, jack fruit, cheese, milk candy, custard and a combination of those. Traditionally made with a lot of lard and sugar, there are a lot of "healthier" versions available like lite and sugar free hopia.

Since these are Chinese treats, it's natural to think that the best ones are from the Chinese delis in Chinatown but they are rivaled or even outmatched by a hole in the wall bakery about an hour away from there. Their hopia are small, non-uniform in size and have charred spots on its toasted crust.They are definitely made with lard and baked in a wood fired oven; this is maybe the artisan equivalent to hopia. A stone's throw away is a famous ham shop and as I've read from a blog, who knows if they use the ham drippings there for their delicious hopia?! Freshly baked hopia are stacked on large trays and just packed when you order. Still warm, it is one my indulgences; not too sweet, savory at the same time, silky, little crispy, soft and flaky.



Featured here is the classic hopiang monggo or mung bean hopia. Chinese delis use peeled split mung beans and have the smoothest filling thus commanding a higher price. I have used here whole mung beans because that's what I had on hand and is similar to how I remember these pastries are; though not as smooth, my homemade bean paste is delicious with the right amount of sweetness and I'm sure that it's made with 100% mung beans unlike other bakers that use different sorts of fillers like potato, sweet potato and even green peas!. It is one of dad's favorite snacks so I tried to make my own version with LESS fat than the traditional ones and in larger size, my own hopia is equivalent to two or three normal hopia sold in stores. Though commonly baked in a oven, I've seen some cooked on a flat grill and that's what I did here too.



The ideal hopia crust has a rich flavor, tender and flaky; "leaves of crust" with distinct layers should fall when you cut or bite into it. With the major tweak, it looked like I made a delicious but completely different pastry. The crust was crunchy and more crumbly than flaky. Dad was looking for the falling leaves and jokingly said that since it is a new style of hopia we should give it a name and  said "hopiang malutong" (crunchy hopia), he said it was still delicious especially the bean paste and I've mastered the technique he taught me for adding the right amount of sugar for the right sweetness without measuring.



We had one for each of us that day, I cut the last one into quarters and after eating one quarter I kept the remaining three so we can have one for each of us tomorrow. Here is where the magic happened; when we ate it on its second day the crust softened, had a richer taste and became flaky and yes, the falling leaves (no pics since we ate it really fast) were there! Perhaps the little amount of fat distributed itself well all over the cakes during its overnight rest, what difference a day makes! I'd dare say it was a 95% close match to the real deal with just a FRACTION of the fat!



Finally, the flood in the yard has dried up after two weeks and it sure created memories. Various beautiful birds visited the yard to look for food; egrets, zebra doves and a kingfisher that dove into the water five times to catch fish; a truly spectacular sight. From the beautiful there are also not so pretty and dangerous events; because of the water, snakes are finding dry land where they can stay and often found their way into our house. There were eight snake sightings this past fortnight; on the sink, in the bathroom, on the window and fortunately most were non-venomous I THINK excluding that FIVE FOOT ELAPID that almost made its way into the garage! The species is notorious for being on of the most common causes of death among snake bite incidents, we should be more careful when there is water around the house.

Anyhow, this one is truly delicious and I really liked how it turned out. 


Thank you very much!

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