Friday, 30 December 2011


As always, the holidays has been a whirl. After all the preparations, it is only half gone. Now we have to welcome the new year with a blast. I know that everyone's already tired by now so nice food made with the minimum effort is probably the best thing to make.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I know that we are all fastidious about stocking up for Christmas. It is better to have extra food than be caught unaware when unexpected guests pop around. The downside is that we end up with a lot of Christmas leftovers. I don't like wasting anything so I freeze whatever can be frozen. 

Monday, 26 December 2011


Now that Christmas is over, we look forward to celebrating the coming of the new year. In the Philippines, it is again a very big celebration. We are very superstitious folks and we believe in beckoning luck through observing certain rituals. As with Christmas, the table is groaning with food on new year's eve. We call the new year's eve meal Media Noche which simply means midnight. A table full of food on new year's eve is believed to bring abundance throughout the following year. Twelve kinds of round shaped fruits should be on the table to bring prosperity for the next twelve months. Noodles are also served for long life. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Bûche de noël is a traditional Christmas French dessert which originated from the Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On this shortest day of the year, they would search for a large trunk of oak, beech, elm or cherry and burn it as a symbol of the rebirth of the sun. In the middle ages the youngest and oldest member of the family would carry a decorated log to the hearth and set it alight. This was believed to protect the family from illnesses and evil spirits.

Monday, 19 December 2011


Smoked salmon and gravlax are the favourite festive appetizers that make life a little easier for the host or hostess. Although making smoked salmon is best left for the experts, gravlax (gravad lax or lox) can be made at home quite easily. In the Scandinavian language, grav means "grave" or "to dig" and lax means "salmon". This word was coined because the fishermen used to salt salmon before burying them in the sand to ferment.

Saturday, 17 December 2011


It is that time of the month again when we, at the Kulinarya Cooking Club, get to celebrate our Filipino cuisine by having a virtual potluck of our beloved dishes. This month's theme is special not just because of Christmas but because we get to present a special dish that we usually cook for Noche buena

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Come Christmas, an assortment of desserts at the end of the meal provide a fitting finale to the celebratory meal. Although we are spoilt for choice with the assortment of desserts at the supermarkets, nothing is nicer than a homemade one. I always prepare a few contrasting desserts to suit everyone's taste. This one would be a great alternative to mince pies. It is easy, can be done the previous day and the kids can help make it.

We all love crispy crust on pies but sometimes that doesn't happen when there is a juicy fruit in the filling. Baking blind helps to give the crust a crispy start but I did not want to bake 12 little pastry cases blind so I pre-cooked the filling instead. I thought that filling the pastry with a thick filling rather than a wet mixture would prevent that soggy pie bottom. That did work out quite well. The pastry came out perfectly crisp and flaky.

They were delicious, too, by the way. How can you go wrong with apples, caramel and pecan. The pastry tasted good too as it had cream cheese in it.

Ingredients for the crust:

1 cup flour
1/2 c. butter, cut into cubes
1/2 c. cream cheese (4 oz.)
1 egg yolk plus 1 tbsps. milk for glazing

Pulse the flour and butter in a food processor until the butter pieces are pea sized. Add the cream cheese and pulse again until the dough clumps together into a ball. Wrap the pastry dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 1/4 cm. thickness. Cut into 12 rounds and line  a 12-hole muffin tin. Crease the pastry to fit the muffin holes. This will make a nice rustic look to the pies. Cut out decorative shapes with the rest of the pastry. You can also make a lattice top crust. 

Fill the pastry cases 2/3 full with the cooled filling. Top with the cut-out pastry shapes but leave gaps for the steam to escape. Brush pastry tops with the egg yolk glaze. 

Bake at 350° F/ 180° C for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 300° F/ 150° C and cook for a further 20 minutes. Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes before taking out of the molds.

Ingredients for the filling:

1/2 c. condensed milk
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. corn flour
3 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced thinly
1 egg
6 tbsps. butter
1/2 c. roughly chopped pecans

In a pan, mix the corn flour and brown sugar together until well combined. Whisk in the condensed milk and egg. Put the pan on low heat and add the apples and butter. Stir constantly until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add the pecans. Take off the heat and leave to cool before filling the pastry cases.

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Monday, 12 December 2011


The Christmas celebration in the Philippines is long and elaborate . Being predominantly Catholic, the festivities revolve around the religious significance of the occasion. Family and friends all join in to celebrate together. What better way is there to celebrate than with food.

Friday, 9 December 2011


I come from the town of Marikina in the Philippines and so did my forebears. In fact, I can not trace any root other than this place. It is well known as the shoe capital of the Philippines. A new addition to the list of things to see in my town is the Shoe Museum which houses Madam Imelda Marcos' famous collection of shoes, some of which were made there.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Eating your food by the spoonful takes on a new meaning when it means eating the spoon, too.

They sell nifty pastry spoons for appetizers at the supermarkets. Just for fun (or self torture, more like), I tried to make some just to see if they were do-able at home. They definitely were. Although a bit rustic looking, they looked decent when filled. I'm sure daintier hands can make neater ones. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011


These moreish bars are called food for the gods but us mortals can have it as a treat. These bars are very popular in Philippine bakeshops but, judging from the ingredients, they are surely of foreign origin. They are so delicious but can only be had as a treat because both dates and walnuts are not grown in the Philippines and therefore not cheap. They are in fact sold as little bars wrapped in cellophane_taster or teaser portions.

If you don't want to make fruit cake, these bars are a worthy substitute. These treats are actually very easy to make. They are ideal for Christmas gift giving, wrapped individually in cellophane or baking paper or put them in a nice gift box. 

I have brushed some with edible gold dust for an opulent Christmas look. Wrap a band of unbleached baking paper tied with jute string if you are going for a rustic look. Anyway it's packaged, I'm sure it will be warmly received.

This recipe was adapted from The Best of The Maya Kitchen cookbook.


1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3 medium sized eggs
3 tbsps. brandy
1 1/4 c. sifted flour
1 c. pitted and coarsely chopped dates
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts


Pre-heat the oven to 350° F/180° C. Line a 13"x9"x2" rectangular baking pan. 

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. 

Add the sugars and blend well. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the  brandy. Set aside.

Put the flour in another mixing bowl. Add in the chopped dates and mix very well. Separate the pieces and make sure that they are all coated with flour. This will keep them suspended in the batter when baking. 

Add in the baking soda, baking powder, salt and walnuts and mix very well. 

Add this mixture into the creamed mixture and fold until blended. 

Bake for 10 minutes. 

Lower the temperature to 300° F/150° C and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes. 

Run a knife around the edges. Cool slightly before cutting into bars. Leave to cool completely before wrapping or storing.

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Friday, 2 December 2011


When I was a kid, it was a happy day when my mother cooked fried chicken. We all loved fried chicken. Fried chicken is an ordinary food that has a special taste.