Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The New Year in the Philippines!

Our author Karen Hulene Bartell continues our Filipino Menu Series by giving us a look into what festivities and foods have become a tradition in the Philippines on New Years Eve and Day!

On New Year’s Eve, Filipino families make as much noise as possible by lighting firecrackers, beating pans, and blowing horns or whistles until midnight. The Media Noche is a snack served at midnight.

Media Noche New Year’s Eve Snack
Sweet Rice
Salabat Ginger Tea

On New Year's Day, try something different. Roast a pig over hot coals and serve with traditional Pancit, Lumpia, and Adobo.
New Year’s Day Dinner
Whole Suckling Pig

Canton or Noodles Cantonese Style
Lumpia Shrimp and Vegetable Wraps
Lumpia Sauce Pork
Steamed Rice
Papaya Atsara
or Green Papaya Pickles
Sweet Potato Flan
Star Fruit
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Buko I (Five-Minute Coconut Salad)

What could be easier than a recipe that calls for only three ingredients? Look for lychees and canned coconut in Asian supermarkets.

3 (11-ounce) cans whole lychees, quartered
6 (3.5-ounce) cans canned grated coconut in syrup
1 cup heavy cream

Combine the lychees with the undrained coconut in a medium bowl. Fold in cream. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Yields 8 servings.

Coconut Salad
Buko II

Filipino ingredients are available in Asian supermarkets.
8 ounces frozen shredded buko (young coconut), thawed
8 ounces fruit cocktail
1 (15-ounce) jar mata de coco (coconut gel)
1 (12-ounce) jar kaong (palm fruit in syrup)
1 (8-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8-ounce) can Nestle cream (thick, sweet topping)
or 8 ounces vanilla yogurt

Drain the buko, fruit cocktail, mata de coco, and kaong thoroughly; combine in a medium bowl. Add the milk and cream, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Stir well before serving.
Yields 8 servings.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Noche Buena (Christmas Eve Midnight Feast)

Enjoy a few sample recipes from Karen's Filipino Christmas Eve menu for a flavorful evening!

Arroz Caldo Con Pollo Chicken Rice Soup with Ginger
Caldereta Hearty Beef Stew
Paksiw na Lechón Pork Pot Roast in Lechón Sauce
Hamon Chinese Ham
Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Buko Coconut Salad
Yema Egg Balls
Polvoron Powdered Milk Candy
Christmas Cookies
Tsokolate Rich Chocolate Drink
Roasted Chestnuts

Arroz Caldo Con Pollo

Make this comfort food a day ahead to allow the flavors to marry. Besides being traditional Christmas Eve fare, the soup is also a cold remedy.

1/2 cup minced garlic
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, coarsely chopped or squeezed through a garlic press
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
1 (2-pound) chicken, cut into serving-size pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt or patis (fish sauce)
1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

Using a 3-quart pot, sauté 2 tablespoons garlic, the ginger, and onion in 2 tablespoons oil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic is golden, and the onion is translucent. Add the rice and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add 10 cups water to the rice mixture. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat, add the chicken, and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Add the salt during the final 5 minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, sauté the remaining garlic in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until the garlic is a golden brown.

Serve the soup in a preheated tureen. Garnish with the sautéed garlic, green onion rings, and black pepper.
Yields 4 servings.
Note: Patis is a fish sauce used for seasoning nearly every Filipino dish: chicken, beef, pork, fish, shrimp, crabs, and other seafood. However, patis is an acquired taste. A good substitute is rock or iodized salt. Other substitutes for patis are a mixture of soy sauce and freshly squeezed lemon juice or soy sauce and kumquats. Patis is available in Asian supermarkets.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Traditionally the batter for flat cakes was poured into a banana leaf–lined clay dish and baked over charcoal. The cheese was made from the milk of water buffalos. However, what an aluminum cake pan, electric oven, and prepackaged cheese lack in local color, they make up for in convenience. Coconut milk is available in Asian supermarkets.

1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup baking powder
1/2 cup grated Edam cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup grated coconut

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Combine 3/4 cup sugar with the coconut milk. Blend in the beaten eggs.

Combine the sifted flour, salt, and baking powder, and sift again. Fold in the egg mixture. Turn into a lightly greased 11 by 16-inch cake pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese, and bake for another 15 minutes, basting twice with the melted butter. Remove the cake from the oven, brush with the remaining butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the coconut. Slice into squares, and serve.
Yields 15 to 20 squares.

Tip: Because of its versatility and availability, coconut is widely used in Filipino foods. Buko or fresh young coconut produces a refreshing juice and sweet white flesh, while the mature coconut or niyog is grated and squeezed with water to make coconut milk or gata.

The nine-day pre-Christmas novena ends with midnight mass on Christmas Eve. After mass comes the Noche Buena, or Midnight Feast, where the traditional meal is Arroz Caldo Con Pollo, Caldereta, Paksiw na Lechón, hot Tsokolate, a native chocolate drink, Buko salad (a misnomer), and an endless supply of Christmas cookies!

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelet)

Serves 4

4 Philippine eggplants

l tablespoon minced garlic
l/4 cup diced onion
8 ounces ground pork
l medium potato, diced

l/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
4 eggs 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Boil the eggplants for 6 to 7 minutes, or until tender. Remove the skins. Set aside and keep warm.
Sauté the garlic, onion, ground pork, potato, and bell pepper until the vegetables are tender and the pork is thoroughly cooked. Season with salt and pepper, and keep warm. Separate the egg whites from the yolks; beat the egg whites until stiff. Mix in the yolks. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon 1/8 of the beaten egg mixture into the skillet, and let it cook until it forms a crusty bottom. Place an eggplant on top of the egg. Lightly spread the pulp and top with 1/4 of the pork-potato mixture. Add 1/8 of the beaten egg mixture to the skillet. Carefully turn over the omelet to cook the topside. Repeat with the remaining eggplants, pork-potato mixture, and eggs.

Salabat (Ginger Tea)

Serves 4

3 inches fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Heat 4 1/2 to 5 cups water with the ginger and brown sugar just until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add more water to weaken the tea. Strain and serve hot or cold.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pan de Sal (Fresh Breakfast Rolls)

Pan de sal is a familiar bread roll. The Filipino version differs slightly in that it is sweeter than the regular roll and delicious when eaten warm from the oven with butter.
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 cups flour
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

Soften the yeast in 2 cups lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar added. Set aside for 6 to 7 minutes.

In a bowl, mix together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup oil. Add the softened yeast and 3 cups flour. Blend well, gradually adding the remaining 3 cups flour and mixing until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, and knead until smooth, 8 to 9 minutes.* Form the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly greased bowl. Brush the surface of the dough with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise in a warm place away from drafts (inside a kitchen cupboard) for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Punch down. Roll out on a floured board to 3/4-inch thickness, and cut into 1 1/2-inch strips. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon bread crumbs. Let rise for another 15 minutes.

Cut dough into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange on a lightly greased cookie sheet, cut side up, about 1 1/2-inches apart. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons bread crumbs. Let rise for 30 minutes more, or until the dough doubles again in size.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake the pan de sal for 12 to 15 minutes, or until light brown. This recipe may be halved, or freeze the leftovers. Yields about 36 rolls.

*Tip: To knead the dough, curve your fingers over it and press down with the heels of your palms. Give the dough a quarter turn, fold it over, and push down again. Knead it until it is elastic and has a satin sheen.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Maligayang Pasko! (Merry Christmas!)

Spice up your Christmas the Filipino way by decorating and cooking up a festive menu provided to us by Karen Hulene Bartell! Karen says:

Christmas is Filipinos’ best-loved celebration. Star-shaped lanterns, called parols in the Filipino language Tagalog, signal the start of the Christmas season in the Philippines. As early as September, these five-pointed representations of the star of Bethlehem begin lighting up neighborhoods. Why so early? Filipinos associate the months’ suffix ber with Christmas, so September, October, November, and December are all considered holiday months.

Parols, the Filipino counterpart of Mexican piñatas, are beacons of hospitality hung outside doors and windows, so the cheerful light brightens the evenings and welcomes visitors. Originally the parols were used to light the way to the Misa de Gallo or the Mass of the Rooster, which is held early in the morning on Christmas Day, before the roosters crow.

Framed with bamboo or rattan, the lanterns’ sides are made of translucent rice paper, tissue, or colorful cellophane. To make a lantern, string together five long pieces of bamboo to form a star; make a second star. Place five twigs or small pieces of bamboo between the two stars, so that they bow apart but are joined at the points. Apply glue to the bamboo frame and cover with tissue. Tradition calls for a candle, but to be safe place a flashlight inside the lantern.

To prepare for the holiday, many people begin a novena on December 16, known as Misa de Aguinaldo. They attend nine consecutive days of outdoor masses held as early as four o'clock in the morning. After each mass, Filipinos gather for the traditional almusal or breakfast: salabat, local ginger tea, and bibingka or flat cakes served on banana leaves and topped with brown sugar and freshly grated coconut.

Breakfast for Four

(Misa de Gallo Almusal)
Experiment with only the traditional Bibingka and Salabat for a quick breakfast, or try all the recipes for an unforgettable Filipino holiday brunch. For a larger group, double the recipes!
Pan de Sal Fresh Breakfast Rolls
Tortang Talong Eggplant Omelet
Adobong Manok Chicken Adobo
Mango Papaya Fruit Salad
Bibingka Flat Cake
Champorrado Chocolate Rice Porridge
Salabat Ginger Tea
Barako Coffee
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bacalhau da Consoada (Christmas Eve Codfish)

The New York Times recently had an interesting article on the importance of salted cod to Portuguese Christmas dinners:

“Bacalhau, as the fish is called here, is to Christmas Eve in Portugal what turkey is to Thanksgiving in America. Treasured since the 16th century, when Portuguese fishermen first brought it back from, it bore the nickname fiel amigo — faithful friend. Its correct
preparation is a source of pride, a sign of respect for family values."
"Every Portuguese, it seems, likes to boast that there are 1,000 recipes for bacalhau and that the people here eat more of it than do those anywhere else in the world.”

If you want to try celebrating this Christmas the Portuguese way, we recommend this traditional recipe from Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters, Expanded Edition. As the author Cherie Hamilton says about it:

Codfish prepared for the consoada (the traditional Christmas Eve dinner) is an alternative to the codfish cooks with todos (literally "all"), which is traditionally served for supper on December 25. This particular recipe, besides being very enticing, appeals to those who like their codfish served in large pieces. In some homes it is served as a second course, preceded by boiled crabs, shrimp, and lobster; and followed by roast turkey or Roast Suckling Pig (page 44) and the trimmings.

2 pounds thick salt cod fillets
6 medium onions, peeled
6 carrots, peeled
2 pounds medium white potatoes, peeled
3 pounds collard greens, stems removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic, smashed
6 to 8 hard-boiled eggs (1 per person)

Soak the salt cold fillets in cold water to cover for 24 hours int he refrigerator, changing the water frequently.

Drain the salt cold and place in a large pot with the onions, carrots, potatoes, greens, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and saute the garlic cloves until lightly golden. Keep warm.

Arrange the codfish, onions, carrots, potatoes, collards, and eggs on a large platter or several platters. Serve the warm olive oil with garlic in a bowl on the side to drizzle over the fish and vegetables.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Khoreshe Karafs (Celery Khoreshe)

This entry has been taken from The Art of Persian Cooking, authored by Forough Hekmat.

Khoreshe is a Persian stew. All khoreshes are modestly spiced, but flavored with sour juices. The meats most often used for khoreshes are lamb, chicken, duck or other fowl rich in fat. The usual spices used are saffron, black pepper, and turmeric, but for some khoreshes hot spices are required.

Serves 4 to 5

1 Pound hind shanks or round of lamb or veal, cut into large pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cups hot water
A large bunch or 2 small bunches of celery with the leaves
1 small bunch mint (1 ounce), if desired
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron

Saute the meat with the onion, turmeric, salt, and pepper in half the oil until well browned. Add the water, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Cut off and set aside the celery leaves and cut the stalks into 4-inch pieces. Saute them slightly. Mince celery leaves, coriander or parsley, and the mint. Saute in remaining oil and add to the meat with the lemon juice. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until meat is partially tender. Place celery pieces on top of meat and continue to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes longer, or until meat is tender and the gravy is rich. Add prepared saffron and serve with chelou, kateh or dami and fresh lime or lemon.

Note: Fresh green beans may be used instead of celery. When using beans, add 1 cup tomato juice or 3 large tomatoes, chopped, and no lemon juice.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.