Monthly Archives: December 2007

chocolate-dipped coconut pyramids

pyramids
from Martha Stewart (yes i have two or three of her mags. i admit it!) Holiday cookies, 2001.
shaping

it was all done with good intentions. i bought packs and packs of dried coconut (i found an unsweetened brand without preservatives) and had everything i needed. i was going to put this into my cookie gift tins. but the days before Christmas things just got so hectic that i ran out of time. anyway. more for my kids.
(i just HAD to make spumoni cookies though…required daw ito sabi ng panganay ko.)

recipe follows…

* 1 3/4 cups sugar
* 5 1/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
* 7 large egg whites
* 1 pinch salt
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
* 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vegetable shortening
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together sugar, coconut, egg whites, and salt. Add butter and extracts, and combine well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. Moisten palms of hands with cold water. Roll 1 tablespoon of the coconut mixture in palms, squeezing tightly together 2 or 3 times to form a compact ball. Place ball on a clean surface, and using a spatula, flatten one side at a time to form a pyramid shape.
3. Place pyramids on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart, and bake until edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Leave on baking sheet on a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Place chocolate and shortening in a small heat-proof bowl, and set over a pan of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted. Dip top 1/2 inch of each pyramid in the melted chocolate. Set each dipped macaroon on cooled baking sheet to allow chocolate to harden.

English Gingerbread

somehow a moist, sticky “spicy” (cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) cake is just so symbolic of the holidays that a mere whiff can take you back.
these scents make me remember my ma who used to bake fruit cakes for giveaways and a little mini-business/sideline on the holidays. she’s still making them in Northern Los Angeles area, if anyone’s interested.
i like this English Gingerbread for its hearty, spicy, comforting kick. like a big brother’s hello!
if you invite me to your home during the holidays this is what i’d most likely bring.

English Gingerbread (Rose’s Celebrations, Rose Levy Beranbaum)

Serves: 10 to 12
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1¼ liquid cups golden refiner’s syrup or corn syrup*
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon marmalade
2 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 cup (4 ozs.) sifted cake flour (lightly spooned into cup and leveled off)
1 cup -1 tablespoon (4 ozs.) whole wheat flour (lightly spooned into cup and leveled off)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch salt
lemon syrup:
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
One 8-inch square cake pan, preferably metal*, greased, bottom lined with parchment or waxed paper, then greased and floured.
Note: some metal pans slope inward and are less than 8-inches at the bottom. In this case it is better to use a 9-inch square pan or fill the pan ½ full and bake the excess batter as cup cakes.
In a small, heavy saucepan, on medium low heat, stir together the butter, golden syrup, sugar and marmalade until melted and uniform. Set aside until just barely warm, then whisk in the eggs and milk.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the remaining dry ingredients. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring with a large spoon or rubber spatula just until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, no more than ½ full. Bake for 50-60 minute or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
To make syrup: In a small pan, stir together the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons softened butter and the 3 tablespoons sugar. Heat stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. Brush half the syrup on to the top of the cake. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto a greased wire rack. Brush the bottom with the remaining syrup. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the top is up.
For extra moistness, cover the cake with plastic wrap while still hot and allow it to cool. Wrap airtight for 24 hours before eating.
FINISHED HEIGHT: about 2 inches
STORE: 2 days room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, 2 months frozen.

takes me back home

no other song transports me back home to Christmas in Quezon City with my folks, more than this does.


well now i am in a different “Q. C.”, my family’s grown up/grown old, our home was sold and is now a restaurant(!!!)…yet Karen Carpenter’s voice is still so pacifying/soothing.

(this post tries to make up for that previous blah-bah humbug one.)

a wish

i must admit i am guilty of it too.
i’ve been whining and complaining (mostly to my poor husband, sorry dear!) about the weather woes mostly, because it’s been hampering my progress on setting up a memorable day for my kiddies.
i know that everyone is feeling extra stressed, with the deadline approaching and the snow just piling on…
yesterday though at my #2son’s concert, i felt such shame to see the parents all around me, being rude, obnoxious and uncivilized, on what was supposed to be a joyous event. the little children had been practising for months! they put on their best smiling faces and darling outfits, and the families were supposed to just sit back and applaud and cheer their children on.
but there are some who forget the rules.
i would like to think that they don’t really intend to offend anyone, they just get caught in the excitement and stand up and take photos and videos and forget that there are other parents who want to have an unobstructed view of their beloved children.
a simple gentle reminder would have been enough, but no, some parents have to yell out “SIT DOWN LADY” in the middle of the songs…
there was a couple behind me talking loudly about how much they wanted to shoot poison darts at her. the people in front yelled back at them.
i felt so ashamed of the adults, i felt like shrinking into my seat wishing to disappear. this is not how i want children to see their parents.
thankfully it didn’t escalate/deteriorate to this….

please….THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING. YOUR. EVERY. MOVE.

First Christmas tree blog parade

2007-christmas-tree-blog-pa.jpg

it is finally UP! our tree i mean.
i would have written about it anyway but now there’s a sweet Christmas tree tag from THESS!

we don’t really have a “theme” per se, we just put up everything that will fit, favorites first.
i’ve got it down to a somewhat manageable process, with three biggish boxes of ornaments (mostly little toys; i’m partial to handcrafted wooden ornaments and glass and ceramic. i don’t really like tinsel and glass bolabolas .). my beloved ones are those made by the kids when they were in pre-school.

we’ve collected quite a few over the years. we once had a mishap, in 2001, nay! it was a Christmas tree disaster! that reduced me to tears at 2 a.m. in the morning, when our usually well-behaved gentle cat Murphy climbed up the tree and crashed and “trashed” it, shards of broken glass and water all over the hardwood floors. since then we replaced the tree stand and now tie the tree to a wall support, and i haven’t bought any more glass icicles.

every year i “threaten” to get a plastic pre-lit tree but the kids will have none of that. i guess we all love the scent and “ambience” it brings to our house. it does take a lot of work and we try to bribe be gentle with our “handyman” to persuade him to help us bring a tree home from the (Home Depot) lot.
this year we got a sturdy stout Frasier fir–with lots of strong branches for the ornaments. it doesn’t look so droopy like the balsam usually gets.


THE (naughty) CAts’ view from below?

mukhang gigil na gigil siya dito wild cat looks doggedly determined here

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This is a first annual 2007 Christmas Tree Blog Parade Meme created and conceptualized by OTWOMD of Bluepanjeet.Net The purpose of this meme is to enliven the Christmas spirit by showing to the world our very own Christmas trees. They say that it is on the Christmas tree that best describes how a person celebrates Christmas. So here are the rules:

1. Copy the Logo of this meme (Download it on the sidebar and resize it that will best fit your blog or according to your desire) and post it on your entry.
2. Take a photo of your Christmas tree inside your house. A whole shot is the most appropriate photo. And post it on your entry
3. Tell something about your Christmas tree like who decorated it, what are the ornaments and accessories, or what is the theme and meaning of your Christmas tree this year.
4. You can put any title on your meme but don’t forget to include this “2007 1st Christmas Tree Blog Parade”.
5. Do the link train history. Put the link of your previous bloggers who tagged you and your own link, Example: Tag History: Bluepanjeet – “you” –

The link train will provide clue on “who tagged who” and at the same time a reference of data for the creator of this meme.

On The feast of Three Kings on January (The official ending of the Christmas Season), Bluepanjeet.Net will launch a mini site that will feature all of the participant’s Christmas trees for 2007 with a link back to their site. That is why it is very vital that you maintain the link history so that your Christmas tree will be included in the Christmas tree blog parade of 2007 and will be a part of history.

My Christmas Tag History: BluepanjeetDagboekMOI MOI MWA!
everyone who loves Christmas trees…consider yourself tagged!

chocolate almond cups

pict0005.JPG
dug out from under a heavy blanket of snow, Friday.

but then it snowed then iced up, again Sunday. what do we do?
tree before
almost
we’re getting there…watch out for that wild cat! he’s drooling over the ornaments…

my assistant pastry chef, hard at work

chocolate almond cups for our giveaways (sssh, i hid them from the kids after they took too many “sample” bites.)
recipe upon requests! i gotta de-ice the driveway….brrrrrrr. follows! Continue reading

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THE way to skin a tongue

i have to tell you about this!
i wanted to cook a Basque-style tongue from Saveur magazine,(battered and fried tongue in a pureed dried-pepper sauce–i still have to tweak this recipe!)
pict0004.JPGpict0009.JPG
and have found that the best way to skin a tongue is to pressure-cooker it.
cooking time varies from tongue to tongue though. just check on the tenderness by following manufacturer’s instructions in opening the pressure cooker lid. seal it shut again and cook some more if not yet tender.

bring the tongue to a boil with salt then throw out this water.
refresh with cold clean water then add your seasonings (i used sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme and bay leaves). bring back up to a rolling boil then seal the lid shut.
cook for about 25 minutes for a 2 & 1/2 pound size tongue (counting time starts when the steam starts to be released).
following instructions for your pressure cooker on opening the lid, remove tongue from the broth and peel while hot. it should come off in just about one piece. proceed with the recipe, or slice and serve as is ( it’s good as a “cold-cut” sandwich meat).
peelingoff in one piece

worry-free warm-up

winter’s here!
and there’s no need to look at the date on the calendar, it’s here.
living in the Northeastern United States we’ve gotten a bit spoiled by the last couple of years’ worth of mild winters, and this year seems to be payback time.
we’ve already had two big snowstorms, and below-average temperatures.
and we’ve been keeping a keen eye on the fuel prices.
heating oil prices are the highest they have ever been. we’re lucky that we haven’t come to the point of “groceries versus gas” quandary, yet we also have had to lower our thermostat considerably and started relying on using portable electric heaters to heat up the rooms as needed, instead of heating up the whole house.
there are alternatives! and the website for
ventless gas logs will help you decide on how to supplement your home heating needs without breaking the bank.
they have many alternatives to relying on your furnace, and even have outdoor heating for those who like us enjoy hanging out in the patio for hot cocoa and roasted marshmallows.
imagine enjoying the cozy warmth of a fireplace without having to go through the construction woes of building a chimney and/or vent! there are economical and SAFE choices out there.

spicy pork

yu shiang
warm up with this spicy dishy pork Sichuan style. i can’t believe i have never posted this, one of my favorite winter entrees. i try to request anything yu shang when we go out to eat at Northern Chinese cuisine restaurants.-here’s a simple recipe i found from “Chinese Cuisine” by Huang Su Huei where it’s called “Shredded pork with Fish flavor” meaning pork cooked with a sauce meant for fish!
i’ve done the eggplant version but with the cold and snow descending upon us, nay! bearing down upon us…it calls for anything with “chili” to warm you up, inside and out.

ever heard of the medicinal benefits? “Chili Pepper. Helps dissolve blood clots, opens up sinuses and air passages, breaks up mucus in the lungs, acts as an expectorant or decongestant, helps prevent bronchitis, emphysema and stomach ulcers. Most of chili pepper’s pharmacological activity is credited to capsaicin (from the Latin “to bite”), the compound that makes the pepper taste hot. Also a potent painkiller, alleviating headaches when inhaled, and joint pain when injected. Hot paprika made from hot chili peppers is high in natural aspirin. Antibacterial, antioxidant activity. Putting hot chili sauce on food also speeds up metabolism, burning off calories. Chili peppers do not harm the stomach lining or promote ulcers.” found it on the curezone.

i love that last part about “burning off calories”…even with pork??? 😆

2/3 lb. pork tenderloin
1/2 tbsp. cooking wine or sherry
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp.corn starch
1 & 1/2 tbsp. water
1/2 cup oil for frying
1 tsp. hot chili paste
1 tbsp. chopped green onions
1 tbsp. chopped ginger
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
5 water chestnuts, chopped
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, sliced
4 tbsps. chopped wood ears (rehydrated from dried see photo in eggplant link above)

have ready in a small bowl, mixing well before adding:
1 & 1/2 tbsp. cooking wine or sherry
1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 & 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 & 1/2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
dash of sesame oil

shred the pork, mix with cooking wine, soy sauce, cornstarch and water. add 2 tbsps. oil and stir before frying so that the shredded meat will separate easily during frying.

heat the wok then add oil. stir-fry the meat; remove. remove oil from wok.
heat the wok then add 2 tbsp. oil. stir fry chili paste, green onions, ginger and garlic. add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and wood ears; stir to mix. return the meat to the wok and add the remaining ingredients. turn heat to high. quickly stir to mix. remove and serve.