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BAKED DELICACIES FROM ILOILO

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Iloilo is known as “Heart of the Philippines” because the province is shaped like a heart. It’s capital, is known as the “City of Love” and is one of the most urbanized cities in the country and is considered one of the economic hubs in the Visayan islands. It is located in Western Visayas, and occupies the largest portion of Panay Island. Many tourists visit this part of the country because of its famous historic churches, natural attractions and festivals.

Aside from the many historic sites that you can visit and the many festivals you can enjoy here, Iloilo is also a locality that boasts of a number of food items that are generally considered homegrown. Included in the list of popular Ilonggo foods are La Paz Batchoy, and Pancit Molo. Both are soups that have savory broths, with the first one being a noodle-type meal with a variety of meat toppings on it, and the latter being a dumpling style soup that has a savory meatball in the middle of a doughy dumpling.

The area is also home to baked delicacies that are both unique and familiar at the same time. You can enjoy these while there and when you take these home. After visiting Iloilo’s historic and natural attractions or enjoying their wonderful and fun festivals, buying delicacies and pasalubongs from the province is the perfect conclusion to your trip. There are many stores that sell these and a few specialty shops that specialize in these particular goodies.

The delicacies you can find here include those that are also found in its sister city, Bacolod, which also speaks the same dialect, Ilonggo. These include such favorites as barquillos and biscocho, which are also available elsewhere in the Philippines.

Here are the favourite delicacies you can buy as pasalubong:

Biscocho – Biscochos are the popular specialty delicacies of Iloilo province. These are bread that are baked and are topped with butter and sugar, and sometimes, garlic. These can come in the usual bread slice shape or in the elongated shapes that are reminiscent of Spanish bread split in half and toasted to become biscocho.

Galletas – Galletas are made of flour, sugar, eggs and food shortening. They are not as sweet as the other Ilonggo delicacies. These go perfectly well with coffee.

Barquillos – Barquillos are rolled thin wafers and are perfect with ice cream. It is also available with polvoron filling, which are called barquiron.

Cream horn – Cream horns are puff pastries that are shaped like a horn and filled with cream, as the name implies.

Bañadas – Bañadas are made of cake flour, baking powder, corn starch, confectioner’s and refined sugar. These are usually light and airy with a glaze of confectioner’s sugar on top for sweetness. This is also available in Bacolod.

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KALAMANSI MUFFINS

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 pcs eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup kalamansi

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 degrees Celsius.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) in a medium sized bowl then set aside.
  3. Combine milk and kalamansi together in a separate bowl, set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and stir well.
  6. Add in milk mixture and flour mixture.
  7. Stir the mixture evenly.
  8. Line your muffin pans with cupcake liners or use non-stick muffin pans and scoop the mixture into each cup, about 2/3 of the way full.
  9. Bake in your preheated oven for 18-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
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DIFFERENT KINDS OF BREAD AND BREAD DOUGH

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Baking different kinds of bread actually requires different kinds of bread dough. Although most bakeries create bread using one basic dough, adding ingredients to this dough to create the kind of bread that they want to make, some bakeshops actually go out of their way to follow the very specific ingredients needed for very specific breads. Here are some of the kinds of bread dough and breads that you can expect from bakeshops and that you can try making yourself:

Croissant Dough – croissants are flaky kinds of bread so using your standard bread dough to create a croissant will have you ending up with a solid type of bread instead of a flaky one. This kind of bread dough has chilled butter rolled into it to help create the flakiness that is required of it, and this is sometimes called a cross between puff pastry and simple bread dough, albeit only sweeter.

Brioche Dough – while most doughs for bread use oil, this uses butter. While most doughs used for breads are also kept warm to help these rise, this one is actually used cold or chilled before shaped and baked. Of course, the dough that is used to make brioche is left warm to make it rise but then has to be cooled to get the right texture and consistency for this type of bread.

Puff Pastry Dough – this is not necessary a bread dough, but some breads are actually made using this, like turnovers and Danish breads. This is made with the use of a standard dough which has a slab of butter incorporated into it by way of folding and rolling. The resulting layers of dough-butter-dough-butter create the flakiness that makes the baked goody puffy, hence the name puff pastry.

Wholewheat Dough – this kind of bread dough is considered healthier to white bread dough due to the higher fiber content. The creation of this dough requires more water to be added as compared with standard bread dough, and this is because the flour and other ingredients used to make it absorbs more water than ordinary bread flour. The fiber that you get from this bread makes it somewhat coarse, but it gives you twice the dietary fiber than white bread.

Multigrain Dough – used to make multigrain bread, this kind of dough is made out of, as you may have already guessed, different kinds of grain apart from wholeweat. You will find different combinations being used by different bakeries, but the most commonly used combinations include whole wheat, cracked wheat, rye, oats, corn, and barley. Some bakeries even add in nuts, fruits, seeds and a variety of spices to make their multigrain bread unique and distinct from the others.

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TIPS FOR BAKING IN HUMID CLIMATES

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When it comes to baking, humidity is one factor that you need to take into consideration. The amount of moisture in the air, or lack of it for that matter, can actually affect your dough, batter, and other baked goodies. This is why you need to adjust how you make your baked items based on the climate of the area you are in. If you live in an area that is known to have a rather moisture laden atmosphere, there are some things you need to do to ensure your cakes, breads, and pastries turn out the way they should.

Here are some tips to help you when you are baking in humid climates:

Compensate rapid yeast growth – Humid weather will hasten the growth of yeast resulting to over-rising of the dough. To compensate, you need to reduce the amount of yeast in your recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons, reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon. Another way to compensate for rapid yeast growth is by adding salt. Salt is believed to inhibit the growth and fermentation of yeast.

Reduce the amount of Liquid – Because of the high moisture content of the air when an area is humid, your dough will have more moisture content. You may need to reduce the amount of liquid that you add to the recipe by about one-quarter. For example, if the recipe requires 1 cup, you may reduce it to 3/4 cup. You also need to check the batter after mixing. If it is dry, add in more liquid a tablespoon at a time until it you achieve the right consistency.

Adjust baking time – Baking in moist climates may require a trial and error process. If adjusting the amount of ingredients you put in, such as yeast and liquid, is not enough, you may also need to adjust the baking time to ensure baking success. If the humidity is high, you may need to increase the baking time because of the excess moisture the ingredients absorbed due to moisture content of the air. You will also need to test for doneness at five minute intervals until baking is done.

Reduce Sugar – Yeast needs sugar to produce the carbon dioxide that will stimulate the chemical reaction needed. This reaction will cause the dough to rise. With little or no sugar, there will be no rising process. To slow down the yeast growth, you may lessen the amount of sugar in the recipe.

Use flour with high gluten content – Flour changes with the weather. For instance, when humidity is high, it absorbs more water and if humidity is low, the ingredients are susceptible to dryness. You may use bread flour when you are baking in humid climates because it has higher gluten content and it will absorb more water than other types of flour.

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BAKING TIP OF THE WEEK – FREEZING BREAD DOUGH FOR FUTURE USE

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We don’t always have time to indulge in the creation of dough for fresh bread, but the taste of home-baked bread is something that is worth creating dough for. The smell of newly baked bread wafting through your home is something a lot of people love, but the creation of the dough for this usually takes a lot of time, particularly due to the need for time to make the dough rise.

If you love freshly baked dough, but don’t have the time to create bread dough from scratch every single time, you can actually create large batches of dough and freeze these for future use. This is what you do:

  • When you make your bread dough, use active dry yeast and not the fast acting type. Double the amount of yeast for the recipe you are following. This is because it is highly likely that half of the yeast you use in your recipe will die during the freezing process, so doubling the amount will ensure that your bread will still rise even after the dough has been frozen.
  • After mixing your dough, let it go through the customary first rising. Afterwards, punch the dough down, then divide evenly into sizes that can be used in the creation of one loaf each.
  • Place each batch in a bread pan then freeze in your freezer for at least half a day, or 12 hours. Make sure your bread pans are greased so the loaves are easy to remove when you need to make stuff that is not loaf shaped.
  • When the dough is frozen, remove from the pans and place each one separately in plastic wrap. Always label your frozen dough with the date as to when you made these, and use these within a month.
  • After wrapping, return your pre-prepared dough to the freezer. When you want to use the dough, remove the batch that you will be baking at least 8 hours before use. Leave this in the lower part of your refrigerator to thaw evenly. Use as you would fresh dough after it is fully thawed out.

Making a huge batch of dough once every few weeks will give you enough dough for these days when you want freshly baked bread but do not have the time for making the dough. This will ensure that when you want fresh bread the next day, you can just thaw it overnight and bake it the next morning for breakfast.

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CHOCO CHIP CASHEW COOKIES

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, semisweet

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit  or 175 degrees Celsius.
    2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
    3.       Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla to the mixture.
    4.       Dissolve baking soda in hot water, add salt to the batter and stir into the mixture.
    5.       Mix flour, baking powder, chocolate chips, and nuts and add into the butter mixture. Mix all ingredients well.
    6.       Using a small ice cream scoop, drop the cookie dough onto ungreased pans with baking paper.
    7.       Place the cookie dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.
    8.       When you are ready to bake, make sure that the dough is at room temperature and continue with the recipe.
    9.   Bake for about 10 to12 minutes in the preheated oven until edges are golden brown.
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HOW TO KEEP YOUR BAKED DELICACIES FRESH FOR LONGER

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Nothing beats the smell and taste of fresh-baked goodies right out of the oven. We will always want to preserve their drool-worthy freshness. However, because they are exposed to air some time, they will go stale and loses their flavor and taste. It will no longer be an enjoyable eating experience. Good thing there are several things you can do to prolong the fresh taste of your baked goodies.

 

Here are some tips to keep your baked goods fresh longer. These will help retain the taste and moisture of your baked goods for days or even weeks after you bake them:

Add apple to the storage container – This is one of the common and effective trick you can do to keep your baked goods fresh. Apples have high moisture content and adding apple slices to the container of your baked goods will help retain its moisture. The apple will release moisture and this ensures that your baked goods are fresh for a longer period of time.

Wrap and Freeze – Before wrapping cakes and bread, it is important to let them cool completely. Wrapping warm baked goods will capture moisture and might cause spoilage. Wrap cakes and bread in a cloth towel before freezing. The towel will remove the moisture from the baked goodies. You can also cover them with a cloth if there is no enough space in your freezer.

Refrigerate – It is important that any baked goods with frosting or icing made with cream cheese, whipped cream or custard cheese should be covered and refrigerated. Cheesecakes and cakes with fruits should be refrigerated as well. When you are ready to serve your baked goods, you need to ensure that they should be at room temperature. This is important because refrigerating sometimes shrink the flavors.

 

Proper Storage – Baked goods should be stored in airtight container after they have cooled. Then, inside the container, place a moist paper towel (but not directly on them) and seal the container with a lid. Putting a moist paper towel inside the container will retain the cookies moisture for a longer period because it will suck in the moisture from the paper towel. In case you still have cookies left inside the container and the paper towel is already dry, you can replace the paper towel with a new one.

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BAKED DELICACIES FROM MINDORO

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Mindoro is the seventh-largest island in the Philippines and is located off the southern tip of Luzon, and northeast part of Palawan. It was previously called Mait by Chinese traders and, Mina de Oro by the Spaniards. Today, Mindoro Island is divided into two – Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro.

Mindoro is famous for the Mindoro Tamaraw and its wonderful natural attractions, such as pristine beaches, premier diving and snorkeling spots and picturesque mountains. Mindoro is blessed with a diverse range of flora and fauna and is considered a paradise by nature lovers.

It is also the home of relaxing pristine beaches. The province’s foremost tourist beach spot is Puerto Galera. The Talipanan beach in Puerto Galera is not crowded and it provides tourists a tranquil beach experience.  Another famous tourist attraction in Puerto Galera is Tukuran Falls. It can be reached by walking or riding a carabao with a local guide.

Aside from all these attractions, this island located near Batangas and Romblon also has a few delectable baked treats that people can enjoy both while there and when they get home. These pasalubongs are not necessarily exclusive to the island but are considered part of what they have to offer visitors and locals alike. A trip here would be incomplete without trying one or all of these baked goodies.

Here are some of the delicacies from Mindoro that you can try and bring home as pasalubong:

  1. Cassava Cake – Cassava Cake of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro is one of the famous delicacies from Mindoro. These are made from cassava starch with different local flavors like langka, macapuno and cheese.
  2. Coco Flakes – Coconut flakes are made using shredded coconut meat that is dried and baked until golden brown.
  3. Banana Chips – Mindoro’s main economy is based on agriculture and bananas are one of the fruits locals harvest all year around. Banana slices are deep-fried or baked until golden brown. The chips are drizzled with honey once out of the fryer or oven.
  4. Cheesy Cake – These tasty cheesecakes are made from the finest ingredients from Mindoro’s farms. These cakes are made from butter, cheese topping and signature special ingredients from the bakery.
  5. Peanut Bar – Peanut bars are tasty and high-protein snack bars you should try when you are in Mindoro. These peanuts bars are originally made in Occidental Mindoro and are made of squeezed peanuts and natural ingredients such as honey.
  6. Toasted Pastillas – These are fresh creamy candies made of flour, condensed milk and butter. It is sweeter than the regular pastillas because of its caramelized coating.
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CHEESECAKE RECIPE

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Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 4 cups cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
  • 1 tsp. orange zest, grated

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup sour cream, light
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Berries (optional)

Directions

  1. Place a baking pan in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
  2. For the crust:
  3. Melt the unsalted butter.
  4. Brush a spring form pan with some of the butter.
  5. Combine the remaining butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt.
  6. Evenly press the crust mixture over the bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake the crust mixture, 15 to 18 minutes.
  8. Cool the crust and set aside
  9. For the filling:
  10. Beat the cream cheese with a hand-mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  11. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy
  12. Slowly add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla and  citrus zests
  13. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.
  14. Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes at 325 degrees F.
  15. For the topping:
  16. Combine and stir the sour cream, vanilla and sugar.
  17. Remove cooked cheesecake from the oven and spread the topping on top of it.
  18. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
  19. Cool the cheesecake after baking at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
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HOW TO EMULATE RECIPES THAT YOU LOVE

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Eating out at our favorite restaurant or diner is something that comforts our taste buds. There are meals in the menu that we consistently order when we dine at our favorite restaurants because of our culinary craving. While this is a pleasurable experience, this can become costly after a while and there are times our wallet would prefer to cook at home. This frustration amuses our culinary senses and challenges us to emulate these recipes that we love.

Emulating and recreating recipes is not an easy task. It is a challenging trial and error process. Here are some tips to help you save time and frustration when recreating your favourite recipes:

Research – Restaurants will possessively guard their recipe secrets so as to not lose business. Chances are when you ask the chef or server what the recipe is, or what secret ingredient or cooking technique was used, they will not tell you.

While you don’t know yet how to recreate the dish, you do not need to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch. You simply need to do some research. Google is your ultimate modern tool when researching something. You might be surprised that there are actually recipes posted online that are similar to the recipe you are trying to recreate. There are even copycat recipes available on the internet that you can start with.

This doesn’t guarantee it will yield a replica of your favourite recipe however. It will still require your intuitive culinary senses. You need to smell and taste the result, and improvise if necessary.

Ingredients – When following the recipes you researched (or found with the help of Google), try to use the exact ingredients described first. For example, if the recipe calls for whole black pepper, DO NOT use ground black pepper. The same goes for the quantities of the ingredients. This is a trial and error process, in case you feel it doesn’t taste the same or as good as you remembered the original to be, you can now improvise by changing the quantity or even substituting ingredients.

Cooking Method – Cooking methods and techniques are critical in any meal. The restaurant may give you a hint on how it was cooked. Researching will also help you identify the cooking method used in the recipe. For example, it might be pan-fried, baked, grilled, etc. It is important to follow the original cooking method. A different cooking method may result to a different taste, texture or even smell.

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BAKED DELICACIES FROM ORMOC

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Ormoc is a port city in the province of Leyte and is touted as the “Beauty by the Bay” because it is located on a large, natural bay with picturesque mountain views. It is the economic, commercial and transportation hub of Western Leyte. Its main and popular tourist attraction is Lake Danao, formerly known as Lake Imelda (the lake was named after Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady).

While most lakes have indefinite shape, Lake Danao has a violin shape. This and its beautiful natural scenery charm tourists to visit the city again and again. The locals made floating cottages for picnics and boats for cruising. The lake is also surrounded by lush mountains and the tourists or locals visiting can also enjoy trekking.

Lake Kasudsuran and Lake Janagdan are the other lakes in Ormoc City that offer the same quaint scenery. Aside from these lakes, the other tourist attractions in Ormoc City that many people enjoy are Tongonan Hotspring National Park, Leyte Golf and Country Club, Pineapple Plantation and Centennial Park.

It is not only Ormoc City’s ecotourism that is luring tourists to travel there. It is also because of their famous sweet pineapples called Queen Pineapples that make Ormoc such a great place to visit. These Queen Pineapples are known for its unequalled distinct sweetness, and is one of the sources of the local’s livelihood.  Ormoc City has a rugged topography and this terrain is perfect for cultivating these pineapples. In fact, Ormoc City dedicated 210 hectares of land to ensure that they are cultivated well. These plantations are open to the public and are places where one can buy fresh Queen Pineapples.

Visiting Ormoc is not complete without buying pasalubong or trying their baked delicacies. Here are some of their popular pasalubongs:

Cassava Cakes – Aside from Ormoc city, cassava cakes can be found in other regions as well. These are made from kamote or cassava roots and made tastier by adding milk, eggs, young coconut and cheese.

Mango and Pineapple Tarts – One favorite local baked delicacy is the mango and pineapple tart. Because of Ormoc City’s abundance of sweet pineapples, it is inevitable to see desserts and pasalubong with pineapple. Locals are also selling pineapple jams and fruit shakes.

Cheese squares – while not necessarily an original delicacy of Ormoc, this is still considered one of the more popular treats that you can find here. You can find these in variations that include mango and cheese, as well as ube and cheese combinations.

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ESPASOL RECIPE

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rice flour
  • 4 cups coconut milk, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup young coconut grated

Procedure:

  1. Toast the rice flour in a skillet until light brown and aromatic. You can also use your oven to toast your rice flour. Just spread evenly on a baking sheet and keep a close eye on it while it is browning in your oven. Set aside 1/2 cup for rolling.
  2. Combine coconut milk, salt and sugar in a separate pan and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture in medium heat until sugar and salt are dissolved.
  3. Turn the heat to low and slowly add grated young coconut.
  4. Add toasted glutinous rice flour to the mixture and cook in low heat.
  5. Stir the mixture until it becomes thick, sticky and oily.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a flat, working surface layered with wax paper. Place another wax paper on top, apply pressure to flatten the mixture
  7. Cut espasol into strips (your preferred size and length)
  8. Roll espasol in toasted flour until fully coated.
  9. Wrap each piece in wax paper or banana leaves.
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