Sometimes, we get so caught up preparing for that special holiday dinner that we forget we need to eat breakfast and lunch too. These festive-looking muffins with their burst of colors are perfect for that quick breakfast or brunch. They look so good that they amplify the holiday mood even more. And they are healthy, believe it or not. There is more rolled oats in them than flour and dark chocolate is good for you too — at least, I choose to believe that.
Exactly a week ago, I was in Global City with Speedy, killing an hour before picking up Sam at the condo, and Speedy suggested coffee. We went to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (he is addicted to the pistachio sans rival cake) and I saw something new — coffee cheesecake. I ordered a slice of coffee cheesecake for myself and a slice of pistachio sans rival for Speedy.
We shared our cakes, he liked my coffee cheesecake and suggested I make one at home.
Three years ago, a suggestion like that would have sent me into a panic. In fact, Speedy wouldn’t have suggested it. It was more probable that he’d suggest buying a whole cheesecake to bring home. What did I know about baking three years ago? Very little. But, you know, guts never hurt anyone. I learned. By reading. By trial and error (I’m not afraid of making mistakes — I call mistakes a process of learning rather than treat them as failures). Last night, I baked my coffee cheesecake. I left it overnight in the oven to cool then I chilled it all morning. We’re having it for dessert tonight but I thought I’d cut it and take photos earlier when the natural light is so much better.
This is a light and soft cheesecake, almost like a custard but much creamier. If you want something more firm (Coffee Beans and Tea Leaf’s version is much firmer), reduce the amount of cream by half.
Makes a 10-inch cake. [Read More...]
Making European-style pastries used to intimidate me. They look so dainty and delicate and I’m always worried that I’m too heavy handed to execute them. Well, I’m slowly overcoming the fear. I started with the simplest project — panna cotta. As I became more comfortable with the language and techniques, a tarte Tatin, chocolate souffle, apple strudel and budino. Earlier today, I made chocolate truffles.
What is a truffle? First, let’s not confuse a chocolate truffle with the highly-prized fungus called the truffle. In the confectionary world, a truffle is a small piece of sweet made by chilling ganache or something akin to a fudge, depending on which part of the world you’re in (see the three main types of chocolate truffles), shaping the chilled mixture and rolling them in cocoa powder, nuts or anything that fancies your imagination. You can even dip them in melted chocolate.
The ones I made, based on a recipe from Saveur, fall under the Swiss truffle variety. There are only three ingredients — dark chocolate, cream and butter. Somewhere between soft and chewy, the dark chocolate truffles are decadently rich and crazy delicious. Seriously. [Read More...]
Spring rolls. Every culture in Asia has a version. Both wrappers and fillings of endless variety. These spring rolls don’t have a very Asian filling. In fact, the ham and mozzarella filling is downright un-Asian and stuffing the mixture into Asian wrappers yield spring rolls that defy categorization and culinary labels. There is a word to describe them though — wonderful.
These spring rolls are the perfect appetizer for a party. Indulgent but not overwhelming. They can be rolled a day ahead, frozen and fried a few minutes before they are needed (see how to store uncooked spring rolls).
For best results, use cold ham and cold mozzarella and cut them into cubes small enough to easily stuff into the wrappers but large enough so that the cheese does not melt too fast but just enough to get stringy. I find one-fourth inch cubes to be the ideal size. I do not recommended grating the mozzarella to avoid the cheese from melting too fast and leaking out of the wrappers during frying. [Read More...]
There is a recipe called chicken, tomatoes and pineapple stew in the archive, my version of a dish cooked by my friend Melissa. This is the pork version of that dish. But there is more than just a simple substitution of pork for chicken. Having cooked this dish so many times (the chicken version is a favorite of my mother-in-law so you can just bet that she’s going to request that I cook the chicken version again for the Christmas or New Year family reunion), I have refined and improved it so that the saltiness, tanginess and sweetness intersect so subtly that one can’t decide which is the more dominant flavor.
In a nutshell, this is a dish of pork cubes marinated overnight in steak sauce then stewed the next day. Fresh pineapple tidbits and kalamansi or lemon juice are thrown in and the result is amazingly delicious. [Read More...]