Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving/Christmas Dinner

It is not my turn to host the Thanksgiving Dinner this year nor last year. So I am not hysterical at the moment...I will come Christmas time. Haha! But since we have basically the same menu for both Holidays, it is like having a preview before I actually have my turn to host.

Anyway, this post is about the traditional Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner our family has...We cannot deviate from the basics...we can only add if we want anything new, but there should always be the following:

Roast Turkey & Gravy with Stuffing
Bread (usually white bread)
Mashed Potatoes
Boiled and Mashed Turnips
Boiled and Mashed Onions
Cranberry Salad
Fruit Salad
Bread & Butter Pickles
Pitted Olives

No we are not pumpkin lovers, so there are no pumpkins here.

We usually get 20++ lb turkey for a gathering of 14 people. The stuffing is cooked with diced celery and onions sauteed in butter. Some stuffing is stuffed into the turkey cavity, and some kept warm in a slow cooker.

My in-laws love the boiled-mashed-buttered turnips and onions (I tried, but they don't appeal to me at all, and they laugh about it, being smug that they found out something I would not eat!).

The cranberry salad is something my SIL Stacey makes, a mixture of cranberry and marshmallows and whipped cream, but I do not know the recipe. I like it, but not so much that I want to learn the recipe.

I love the fruit salad, but my MIL and FIL make that using their own canned fruits (peaches and kiwi in particular came from their own trees, which they canned right after harvesting, and the only fruit here that they get from the store is the cherry topping).

Bread & Butter Pickles is a must for my FIL.

Pitted olives from the grocery store is part of the tradition.

White Bread is made using bread machine/breadmaker.

[Now my frustration is, the same menu is what we have for Christmas. I would want to deviate, but my husband and in-laws are such traditionalists, so I cannot. Ham is for Easter. I can add other desserts, but I cannot change the entree.]

What we are thankful for? That we have a happy and closely-knit family. No one is antagonistic to others. No one is envious or jealous. Everyone is supportive, warm, and loving. The youngest generation, for the most part, behave how they should behave. And of course we are thankful for generally good health for everyone, and all the blessings we receive.

Here's wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Buttermilk Donuts



1 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat lard to 375 deg F. Lard should be enough so that donut will float when cooking without touching the bottom.
Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients together.
Mix them together until soft dough forms.
Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and knead.
Use rolling pin to flatten to about 1/4 inch thick.
Grease and flour your donut cutter before cutting.
Deep fry until well browned.
Let drip on rack liked with paper towel.
Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Per redvelvet's request, I am reposting here the hopia recipe which I posted in series of 3 at my new kusina.


My family went skiing today (it's my first time!) and my body is S-O-R-E all over. Blame my blogging for the lack of exercise, so my muscles were not in their optimum condition to be subjected to this new activity. My upper body strength proved to be almost nil as I tried to get up several times when I chose to fall to the ground rather than roll down the (almost flat) hill. Pathetic...I (alone) never had the courage to go up the hill. My excuse: I am too old for this...I can easily get a fracture with one major wrong move.

Anyway, that is the reason why this is another teaser post the first in 3 (1/3) in my Hopia Series. I will continue tomorrow and the next day as I recuperate from my seemingly major injuries (muscle strain...akkk! I need a soak in the tub but my husband temporarily disconnected it from the pipe as he works on our bedroom...sigh!)

Of course, at least a day before, we ought to prepare the filling. It will be much easier to wrap the filling when it is cold and easily moldable.

My favorite fillings are ube and munggo (mung beans). As you probably know by now, I made ube haleya recently. I had several 8-oz jars in the fridge, some of which were used for the ube cake roll and ube cream cheese filling, and some I reserved for hopia.

Needless to say, I do not have to post here what the recipe for ube filling is for this hopia.

Following is how I prepared the yellow split mung bean filling, following a recipe found here (I did make my own version of the dough).

14 ounces dried peeled split yellow mung beans
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak beans for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.
Add more water to about an inch above. Boil for about 30 minutes (keep watching so it does not dry out). Skim the scum as it arises.
Puree in food processor by batches (see the max capacity of your container). You may want to leave some intact for interesting texture (my kids did not like it, though).
Place back in saucepan and continue cooking.
When almost dry, add salt and sugar. Continue stirring to cook further until dry enough.
Transfer to jars and refrigerate.


Photo above shows the very first homemade hopia I sunk my teeth into.

As promised, I am posting here today the dough for hopia. Thanks to these two recipes that gave me the idea on how to make this pinoy favorite snack that I have missed so much. When my older son tried it, he said that the dough was very much like that of the eng bee tin hopiang ube that I made him taste several days ago, but I noticed the big difference in taste because of 100% ube haleya I used here (the bought one just did not taste quite like the hopiang ube I used to buy back in the Philippines. I don't know if eng bee tin has changed their recipe). The only thing is that the underside is quite thick because of several layers of dough, but it was not too bad once baked.

Just like in one of the above links, I used lard in making the dough. But I used my homemade pork lard. My Nanay has taught me how to render the fat of some meat to use for sauteeing, and I learned how to render my own pork lard when I came to the US. Others might say "ew!" but nothing beats pork lard when it comes to flaky pie crust. Besides, it is very mildly sweet scented with the flavor of pork fat, it is so subtle and pleasant. Every year, I make this after our pig has been slaughtered, so I know where the pork came from, how it was raised, what it ate during its lifetime. In other words, my pork source would be the envy of a lot of real food foodies. You want to question the health implications for this? Here is a quote coming from my previous correspondence with fanatic, a nutritionist by profession.

My opinion about pastry ... there's nothing better than lard for making pastry (with a little butter for flavor). Lard is almost 100 percent fat, where butter is only about 80 percent fat, the other 20 percent is protein and moisture. Butter's moisture (water) makes it a poor choice for pastry (when used exclusively), since water will form gluten when it comes in contact with flour ... making the final product chewy instead of flaky.

I stay away from vegetable shortening. Even though it has about the same fat content as lard (making flaky pastry), the trans fatty acids from the process of hydrogenation are now supposedly more of a health concern than the saturated fat in lard. Shortening is pretty tasteless too.

The lard I can purchase here, believe it or not, is hydrogenated. It also contains BHA and BHT (known carcinogens) as preservatives. It's hardly a product I would consume. You deserve a pat on the back for rendering your own lard!Just yesterday I purchased a new product. It's an organic non-hydrogenated shortening, made from palm oil. Palm oil is very saturated naturally, so it's more solid at room temperature.

Another benefit of using animal fat (lard) for use in cooking ... it has a high smoking point so you can brown with it and it will not break down (oxidize). Most vegetable-based liquid oils cannot be exposed to high temperatures without oxidizing, and oxidized (rancid) fat is carcinogenic. And as your Nanay says ... fresh lard tastes better. I think you need to weigh the costs and benefits of the fat you plan on using.In the end, as long as you eat in moderation and are relatively active in life, I don't believe small amounts of animal fat are deleterious.

With that said, I present to you my recipe for a special hopia dough (I have a hunch that the same practice is done by hopia makers in the Philippines.) If you want, you may use shortening or vegetable lard. If you are interested to make your own, feel free to approach the butcher in your grocery store to inquire. They might even give this to you for free. You can freeze pork lard to keep them fresh longer. Thaw in the fridge when you are about to use. I also use it nowadays for making pie crusts, instead of vegetable shortening.

Dough 1:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup pork lard

Mix together until crumbly (or it appears like coarse meal). Use your hands.
Divide into 4.

Dough 2:
Mix together until crumbly (same as in dough 1):
2 cups flour + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup pork lard

Once thoroughly mixed, add 1/2 cup water to the above and mix with your hand. Divide into four. This dough is not really sticky compared to my pie crust dough, but the principles are almost the same.

Once the two are ready, proceed as follows for each part of the two types of dough (which you now have 4 of each):

Use cling wrap above and under dough 2 to make it easier to maneuver. Flatten with rolling pin and shape into a rectangle. Distribute dough 1 above. Roll the two together. Wrap tightly with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Note: The contact of water in the above mixture will result to gluten formation. Gluten is what makes dough pliable and chewy. The rest time is necessary for the full development of gluten and making this dough more pliable come rolling and wrapping time. Chilling ensures that dough 1 remains physically "unmixed" with dough 2 despite proximity. The flour+lard (or flour+oil or flour+shortening) in between sheets of flat glutinous dough will create air pockets in between the sheets during baking and the results is hopia pastry with very thin flaky "crust" which is not at all crunchy or hard.

[You might be wondering why I have gloves on. Since working as an RN, I have developed dishidrosis, aka "homemaker's hands" and for me, I can very well call it "nurse's hands" because this condition develops when the hands are subjected to frequent handwashing. My skin gets tiny blisters that itch a lot, then turn flaky and super dry, then they crack and it's ouch! So I try to avoid washing my hands as much as possible. Using gloves and washing them instead of my skin helps me avoid exposure to too much handwashing, especially if I want my cracks to heal before my next duty at the hospital. It's not because I am too particular about "cleanliness" when cooking or baking. It's merely to protect my hands. Baka sabihin nyo, ang arte ko. Hindi no!]


This is my final hopia post in a series of 3. I am writing this while waiting for my cinnamon rolls to rise (using supersoft ensaymada dough).

Photo above shows my first batch, with experimentations on different wrapping. Slideshow below shows few hopia I made with the last roll of dough I prepared before (one of 4 rolls), baked in oven toaster set at 450 deg F for 15 minutes or so. Each roll of dough could make 4-5 pieces of good-sized hopia. (Suggestion: Maybe a better method would be to flatten the whole roll and then punch out circles before putting filling in, rather than flattening each piece. )

The slideshow is pretty much self-explanatory.

While my first batch was baked in my oven set at 350 deg F, I figured, I would try baking at almost the same temp I bake my empanada. The main objective anyway is to cook and brown the dough wrapping. The filling itself was precooked, so there is no danger of underbaking.

And since I was left with only a roll of the dough I prepared earlier, I had only 8 pieces to bake. I did not feel like wasting that much energy by heating up the big space of conventional oven, so I opted to use the oven toaster. The only thing to keep in mind when doing this is not to burn the ones closest to the heating element; i.e., the middle row. So after about 10 minutes, I rotated the pieces so that the brownnest ones I placed at the periphery and vice versa, to achieve even browning of all pieces.

Baked at this temp, the crust had more crunch to it, which will only hold true for when it is freshly baked, of course. If you refrigerate then reheat later, you might not have the same crunchiness anymore. Not that a lot of Filipinos will miss this "freshly baked" sensation because a lot of us are used to the already cold hopia in the bakeries. I myself had only a few chances of getting really freshly baked hopia when I was still in PI. The hopiang baboy my Manong and the other bakers in our cheap (neighborhood type) bakery was not one I really liked, mainly because I knew there really was no "baboy" in it; only lots of onions in oil. (That said, please know that I will never have a recipe here for hopiang baboy. Now that I have shared how to make the dough and wrap the filling, it will be up to you to experiment making hopiang baboy or hopiang hapon (although I think hopiang hapon uses a different dough recipe/method).

UPDATE: Here is a recipe for hopiang hapon by Mrs. Rusty. (Note to Mrs. Rusty: Many times I would have wanted to leave a message on your site but I would have to register in Multiply so I back out. I tried to look for a way to send you a message, but it's the same thing. Please know that I love visiting your site!)

I HOPIA all enjoyed my hopia series!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Reader's Gallery # 13

Email by ellen b:

Dear Manang,
i would like to congratulate you for a job very well done when it comes to cooking. most of the food you're making are my favorite so i followed your blog right away. Bravo on the recipes! it is very detailed, with matching pictures and videos pa. every time i make something, like ensaymada for instance i make sure i watch the slide shows too that way when i make it i can picture it on my mind how it's supposed to look like and if it is not similar with your picture i know i did something wrong na or if it is somewhat similar then i can be confident and say that the end product will be good. i was also doubting the comments at first, you know they might not be real or something but when i tried my ensaymada (your supersoft ensaymada recipe) it was really good...

i have been searching on the net for recipes for pan de coco, pan de sal and the like, for a long time na and you are one of the few na ung recipe is very reliable. some sites will give you some of the recipes but not their secret ingredient so everytime i make them it's always not perfect kc me kulang always. i can understand nman why some people don't wanna give their secret ingredient just like that, maybe for business purposes... by the way, i also shared the recipes to my other filipinos friends here, that way they can make filipino foods eventhough they are so far from home (philippines). another thing i like about your site is that you also make an effort to give a different method/instruction on how to make the recipes especially to those people who doesn't have a high tech kitchen equipment such as the bread machine. i am doing all my pastries and breads manually cause i don't have the budget to buy a bread machine and a mixer ang mahal kasi...heehhe... pero ok lang worth it nman kahit manual and pagod masyado kc ang product is excellent!!!

Saludo ako sayo Manang, you are a blessing sa lahat ng mga filipino na nasa ibang bansa tulad ko who craves for filipino food. you make our lives a little bit easier and belly happier...
thanks so much!!! God bless and more cooking pa ha!!!
Aabangan ko yan lagi.

How to Hard-Boil a Single Egg in Microwave

I posted before how I make hard-boiled egg in the microwave, for purposes of adding to noodles, which I cooked together with the egg (see here).

Some of the most common reason readers land on that post was they were looking for a way to hard-boil egg in the microwave. Here is a method for those who want only ONE egg for salads, sandwiches or as snack, not for noodles. If you would like to cook more than one egg, this post is not for you. Personally, if I am going to boil several eggs, then I would just use the stovetop, or as MaMely did, use the rice cooker.

This time, my post is about preparing hard-boiled egg in the microwave using only water, a bowl, and paper towel. NO, YOU DON'T NEED A SPECIAL GADGET FOR THIS. Please take note that my microwave is a 1.6 kW one, so if you are going to try this, you will have to modify the time and experiment until you get it right.

I also have to let you know (so you won't have to repeat this) that prior to coming up with the method below, I experimented placing an egg with cracked end inside a cup with water only, and it exploded within 30 secs (I tried 3 times, using different power levels, then I gave up). Knowing that the egg does not explode when it was with noodles, I then thought, maybe the egg should have some other "competition" for the microwave energy, so it is not too concentrated in the egg and cause sudden increase in temp then explode. Hence, I thought I would try the paper towel, soaked in water so it would not burn. The first time I did this for 2 minutes, the egg had some leaked soft egg white so I nuked 30 seconds more, and the result was perfect. The second time I tried it for 3 minutes, the egg exploded before it reached 3 minutes. The third time was for 2.5 minutes, and that is the method I describe below, which gave me perfectly hard-boiled egg. Lessen the time if you want soft-boiled.

Here's how:
1. Make a ring out of paper towel and place in a small bowl. Add water to soak the paper.
2. Using a corner of a table of your stovetop, gently crack the wider end of an egg to make a small depression. This will serve as an outlet for escaping steam and excess pressure as the egg is cooking and getting hotter.
3. Place the egg cracked end up in the middle of the bowl, supported by the paper
4. Microwave on high for 2.5 minutes (or stop as soon as you notice the depressed crack rise up so it becomes level with the rest of the shell again). You will also notice that cracks will also develop originating from this depression as the egg expands a bit while cooking.
5. Let it sit for 2 minutes. The egg will continue to cook with its heat and that of the water around.
6. Use tongs to get the egg and run it under cold tap water to stop the cooking process and to make it easier to handle and easier to peel (the cold shrinks the egg and it separates a bit from the shell).
7. Peel, slice and enjoy!
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