Posted on 19 September 2014.
If it were not for Downton Abbey, I wouldn’t have known that ironing newsprint sets the ink, leaving the reader stain-free. Then again, I have yet to test this method. My last newspaper delivery subscription ended more than half a decade ago. J’s mom, on the other hand, still gets her daily Globe and Mail. I kind of miss it and I must admit, I don’t think I’ll mind having stained palms. They remind me of simpler times.
I remember being six or seven, eagerly awaiting the warm-off-the-press newspaper and a big jug of freshly pasteurized carabao’s milk from the nearby dairy farm. The milk would usually arrive first, and aside from drinking it for breakfast, it would sometimes be poured over fried or steamed rice and sprinkled with rock salt– I kid you not. And it was damn good. As for the newspaper, I would take it to the dining table and everyone would have their piece of it. I took the comics section, with Garfield and Dennis the Menace. On Sundays, they came in full color. Breakfast chatter was a mix of chatter about the headlines, sports (oh, how Filipinos love their basketball), and everything and anything that’s going on. There were no table-side electronic gadgets that demanded attention then.
W (J’s mom) shares her newspapers every now and then, when there’s something interesting to read (we don’t live close enough to share papers reguarly), like the 2-page spread of the different FIFA teams and schedule of games two months ago. She’ll sometimes bring a newspaper clipping of a recipe she thinks we’ll enjoy, like this chocolate babka. She gave it to us on a Thursday night and after quickly going through it, I decided to make it the next evening. Saturdays being our cleaning days, I go for recipes I can make ahead on Friday nights. This fits the criteria perfectly.
In the morning, I did the egg wash, and made and sprinkled the crumble, while preheating the oven.
You’ll know the chocolate is melting between layers of dough when the scent of chocolate makes its way from the kitchen to adjacent rooms. For us, it’s practically knocking on the second floor bedroom doors by the time it’s baked. Open the oven and you’ll meet an impressive-looking loaf.
However, don’t start calling every one to the table just yet. Unless you are alright with having the chocolate ooze out while the bread is being sliced, it is best to delay (every)one’s gratification and let it cool for a bit before slicing. Your reward after a two-hour (!!!) wait is having cleanly sliced pieces of bread with the chocolate intact.
Of course the wait is worth it, or I wouldn’t tell you about this. It can melt any morning grumpiness. Truly.
If you want to take it one chocolate step further, spread Nutella on a slice. And know what else this would be good for? Chocolate French toast.
I’ve included a lot of photos to guide you through the different processes. Please report back if you get a chance to make it.
Posted in baking, bread, breakfast, brunch, chocolate, coffee buddy, make-ahead, snacks
Posted on 24 August 2014.
I get a lot of random late night cravings, anything from cherry clafoutis and fresh homemade margarita, down to the basics like fudge brownies. Alone in the house one night, going through unanswered emails, I had the strongest need for chocolate chip cookies. I had to stop what I was doing and bake some stat.
I make different kinds all the time, but I tend to favor this recipe because the resulting cookies remind me of the palm-sized ones you grab from bakeries right before you pay–you just couldn’t resist getting them. Comfort me with big, chewy mouthfuls of chocolate goodness, please.
I almost forgot to tell you that it takes under an hour to make and you don’t need any special equipment — just your able arms and a good-sized bowl and trusty spatula. It’s just perfect for those last-minute cravings.
Posted in baking, cookies, dessert, quick & easy
Posted on 17 August 2014.
There’s nothing more definitive of my childhood breakfast –and I guess, the same goes for many other Filipinos–than pan de sal. The steam escaping out of the brown paper bag from the freshly baked buns, the crumbs getting all over your fingers, the hot, tongue-numbing first bite…I missed every bit of it when we moved here. We eventually found out about Aling Mary‘s where we could get them fresh from the oven, which I remember doing twice. Twice.
Pan de sal and coffee is akin to butter and bread. Inseparable, and you couldn’t go wrong with that combination.
As the years went on, I slowly learned how to cook and bake, and eventually baked my own bread. I yearned to make pan de sal. I tried making my own half a decade ago, but they didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. At the beginning of this year, I set out to give it another go. After trying many recipes I found, I STILL wasn’t satisfied the least bit. Some tasted like brioche, others were too dry, and they all basically don’t have the right flavor and texture. It was frustrating, there’s no question about that. I experimented a lot. I wasn’t as lucky creating the recipe as I was when I made another Filipino classic, the mocha cake. It took me more than 20 batches of pan de sal and a lot of eating before I was finally happy with it. [Huge thanks to the beau J and the kids for putting up with all the not-so-perfect pan de sal iterations!] Then I’ve had a lot of people outside of family taste it over the course of more than 6 months — both Filipinos and non-Filipinos love them. And then when I thought I arrived at my final recipe, I baked pan de sal almost every week, sometimes even twice a week, because we went through 2 dozen buns so quickly during the school weeks (they make awesome lunch sandwiches). Continue Reading
Posted in baking, bread, coffee buddy, experiments, featured, Filipino dishes, make-ahead, original Gourmeted recipe, snacks
Posted on 01 April 2014.
I wasn’t the type of person who kept frozen fruits in the freezer. A firm believer of eating everything fresh, I just bought what’s in season at the farmer’s markets. Shakes or smoothies weren’t my ‘thing’ either, preferring to masticate on my fruits and veggies to fill me up because I tend to snack throughout the day. It wasn’t until I lived with a smoothie-loving frozen fruit-stocking partner that I realized what I had been missing.
While I (still) rarely reach for a shock of cold fruit drink, except for two scorching-hot summer days every year, I appreciate those bags of frozen fruits now. They satisfy any last-minute cravings for fruit pies, especially for out-of-season fare. Whenever everyone in our household would have the patience to wait for a couple of hours, I would make pie–double crust and all– or tart, but a quicker substitute for our dessert-/sweets-loving family is this go-to simple crumble. This minimal-effort snack, dessert or breakfast treat requires only these 3 easy steps:
- Toss the fruits in sugar and flour. [I add a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg sometimes.]
- Top with a layer of easy-mix crumble.
- Bake for half an hour or so. Do something else.
We love having this for dessert and I usually prepare this right after dinner. While it’s baking, the girls either do homework and we’ll catch up on some reading (or knitting) or we’ll play board game if it’s a non-school night. Easy peasy.
Posted in baking, breakfast, brunch, dessert, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy
Posted on 25 January 2014.
Last Monday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, according to a publicity campaign from a travel company. This pseudoscience was based on a formula including factors such as weather conditions, debt level (i.e. debt from the holidays, I assume vs ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action. Needless to say this is rubbish. Any day could be really bad for anyone, just as it could go stupendously well for another.
Ground frost from our New Year’s Day walk in the park.
Posted in baking, cheese, Meatless Monday, tarts, vegetables, vegetarian
Posted on 18 January 2014.
How is it that we’re more than halfway through January? The three-week stretch before the holidays felt like the longest and slowest marathon of parties, get-togethers, preparation, shopping and errands and then Boom! time moves in lightning speeds.
It was lovely to spend some relaxing time with our loved ones once the flurry of pre-Christmas stuff settled down. The beau’s brother and his girlfriend flew in for the holidays, so it was quite a treat to have the entire family around the table on Christmas Eve. I remember when we were kids, my cousins and I were too eager and impatient for everybody to show up so we could eat then open our gifts. As an adult, one thinks about how to keep the kids preoccupied so we can enjoy each other’s company in peace. On the beau’s side, the girls are old enough that they engage in our conversations–they have very interesting things to say! We don’t have to give them toys and talk over the noise of their toys! Ha. On my side, my nephews are four and five, living and breathing dinosaurs, Transformers and Angry Birds. They can be really blunt and honest, which make gift-opening around the tree hilarious. You never really know how they’d react or what they would say. Oh, I don’t like that! [My gifting success average has been great so far when it comes to them. I pick items based on what I would like if I was a kid. Now what does that say about me?] Christmas reminds me of how fun it was to be very young and carefree, but then I’m glad I can sit back and appreciate the comfort of, and being with, family.
Living in a beautiful city–a prime winter destination at that–means getting a chance to repeatedly explore it like tourists whenever friends and family visit. The beau and his brother love skiing so a day trip to Whistler during their short stay was a no-brainer. Vancouver being Vancouver, it did take a bit of wrestling with weather scheduling, but in the end one should just go and prepare for the worst. It wasn’t a great snow day for our skiing companions, but the rest of us who roamed the village and took the leisurely gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb didn’t have much to complain about the view and the powder.
Whistler Mountain, by the Peak To Peak gondola
View from Blackcomb Mountain
Posted in baking, bread, brunch, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, quick & easy
Posted on 22 November 2013.
The truth is, I’ve had the recipe written for weeks now, but I just never had the chance to take a “proper” photo. In an age when the homemaking and crafts queen gets severely criticized for her bad food photo, dare I post a sub-par representation of this fabulous cake?
Dear readers, I do. I’m channeling Martha. There.
Several people have been waiting for this recipe and all I have is a phone photo taken before the Nth cake was devoured. This is the kind of cake that you bake and it disappears. This shot does not do the grandeur of this stunning cake justice, but this will do for now so people can actually make it.
I think this would be wonderful surprise dessert for Thanksgiving. Don’t be deterred by a not-so-great food photo and make sure you give it a try. Happy weekend!
Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert
Posted on 01 October 2013.
I feel like it’s okay to talk about Pumpkin Pie now. It’s the first of October and Our Canadian Thanksgiving is two weeks away. Pretty soon my inbox would receive a trickle of requests for a “foolproof” pumpkin pie recipe.
Well, this is it. This is what I’ve been making the past 5 years whenever the occasion calls for it. It has received nothing but praises and and an occasional whine when the last wedge has been taken. It has an enormous amount of spices, but you’ll appreciate them once you taste the finished pie. I promise it’s not overwhelming once it’s baked. This Fall favorite goes extra smooth and creamy, and is light. The understated crust is up to the task of keeping its hefty boss intact and allowing it to shine. It’s flaky without being too buttery.
Make it once and you’ll make it all the time from thereon. I’ve baked one a week ago and I’m craving for more. Oh, dear.
I wish I could say I concocted this recipe, but all the credit goes to America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated. If you have yet to subscribe to that fine publication, I’m telling you now to do it. It has saved my kitchen dilemmas numerous times. I highly recommend the digital subscription because you’ll have access to their magazines and database of recipes.
Please enjoy the pie!
Posted in baking, dessert, pies
Posted on 27 September 2013.
I have this thing about bananas: I like to buy them. I anticipate that someone else would eat them if it’s available at home, but it’s really just me. I’ve been conservative with my banana purchases lately, but even so, I end up with 4 out of 5 bananas getting too ripe to fast before I can consume them. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m getting pretty tired of banana bread. Last week I looked for something else that’s fairly quick to make on a busy weeknight, because let’s face it–bananas won’t wait for you before they’re ready for the compost bin. And I really feel guilty throwing away food due to bad planning.
I turned to one of my go-to baking books, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, for inspiration. Sure enough, it saved the day (or evening) with an easy recipe for banana Bundt cake. It’s moist and light, almost like a teacake. The only ingredient change I made is with the sugar, decreasing it by a quarter of a cup. It was just the right sweetness for us.
All the ingredients for the recipe are readily available and you should be able to whip this up last minute. I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream (my preference of the two), which we almost always have except for that one evening. Oh, Murphy.
If you are fast, you can get this in the oven in 15 minutes. I did it in 20, photography included.
Once it’s done, the top will be shiny and moist, but a knife inserted in the middle of the cake would come out clean. Really try to control yourself from eating it right out of the oven.
We enjoyed this for breakfast, packed it for school and office snacks, nibbled on it while playing a board game and even gave a couple of slices to the out-laws. If you’re unsure of making this because of the size, I assure you, this will be gone in no time. Bring it to a party or to work and you will come home with an empty plate.
If you’re in Vancouver, baking this would be a great way to warm up the house and it’s a simple, yet delicious snack on this rainy weekend. I’d recommend it with a cup of tea and a good book.
Posted in baking, cakes, fruits, quick & easy
Posted on 15 September 2013.
It’s been an interesting week at home to say the least, with two kids suffering from stomach flu (three if you count the furry and whiskered middle child who had a couple of non-projectile episodes) and two adults fighting off something, including one who’s in varying degrees of undiagnosed pain at any one point (i.e. me). The girls’ virus is contagious and we are officially on flu-cation until we’re all symptom- and germ-free.
It’s a bummer to be stuck at home under these circumstances, but what can you do? I’ll just welcome the indoor time and go through my pile of unread magazines, continue knitting sock #1 of two, bake some bread and pie or tart, write letters with a pen and paper, edit photos from our cycling trips and post here some more.
Here’s another recipe I’d like to share with you and it’s a good one to try before the blueberry season comes to an end. It’s probably the quickest fruit pie I can make because there’s neither a need to peel and/or slice the berries or pre-cook them.
It’s important to pick ripe and sweet blueberries so you don’t need that much sugar. If your berries are a bit tart, simply add more sugar (about 2 to to 4 tablespoons more).
Dreading the soggy bottom crust, some cook the berries to reduce the liquid. I prefer baking them fresh and keeping the globules intact, which is why choosing the right ripeness is crucial. I also use equal amounts of flour and cornstarch as thickener and an egg yolk as a binder. Yolk. You read it correctly. It works.
Once cooled for serving, the pie filling stays intact. There’s no excess runny liquid and the fruits stay within the boundaries of the slice when cut.
If you’re like me, sometimes craving overcomes reason. What waiting? I’ll slice the pie before it cools down. It’s great that there’s no excess liquid to soak up the crust. Goodbye soggy bottoms.
I’ll make sure to bake another one or two of these before saying adieu to the blueberries this year. I hope you’ll do, too!
Posted in baking, dessert, fruits