Categories
dessert Filipino Instant Pot recipes

Mom’s Leche Flan (Instant Pot Version)

leche flan

My mom had a stroke 11 years ago and as a result, she hasn’t been able to do a lot of cooking since then, especially not something as fussy as making a leche flan. Last year (Christmas 2015), my mom said she wanted to make leche flan for Christmas. She tried to talk me through the process, but they didn’t turn out as well as she wanted, which frustrated and saddened her because making leche flan was one of her specialities.

As Christmas 2016 approached, I thought about making leche flan again, especially after seeing a sous vide version on Betty Ann Besa-Qurino’s blog. However, like many people in the last couple of years, I bought an Instant Pot on Amazon and have been fascinated with the cult-like community that has emerged. One of the first things I thought of doing when I got Instant Pot was seeing if you could pressure cook a leche flan. The answer is a definite “Yes,” and it’s so easy that making flan is no longer a chore.

I used my mom’s recipe, which I’ve modified since I originally posted it, and referred to Amy and Jacky’s Creme Caramel post at Pressure Cooker Recipes to figure out the timing. I used small ramekins to make this for Christmas, but you should be able to use any pan or mold that fits in the Instant Pot to make this.

Ingredients

7 egg yolks
1 egg
2 cups evaporated milk
1 tsp. lemon extract or lemon zest
1 cup sugar
Extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to caramelize before adding the rest of the mixture

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently whisk (or use a hand or stand mixer on the lowest speed) to mix the custard together. To ensure the smoothness of the custard, you should strain the mixture while before pouring it into the baking dish or mold.
  2. Place extra sugar in a small pan and heat it over medium heat until the sugar melts and browns.
  3. Pour caramelized sugar into your baking pan or mold so it coats the bottom.
  4. Add custard mixture to your baking pan or mold on top of the caramelized sugar.
  5. Cover the baking pan or mold with foil and place it into Instant Pot on top of the trivet or steaming rack. I was able to fit 4 small ramekins in my 6-quart Instant Pot.
  6. Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot.
  7. Cook on High for 9 minutes and let it naturally release.
  8. Remove from Instant Pot and let cool on the counter. You can also refrigerate the leche flan after it reaches room temperature if you’re making this ahead of time.
  9. When you’re ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the flan. Place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert it quickly. Be careful not to spill! When properly executed, the flan will be golden brown on top and yellowish on the bottom.
Categories
dessert Filipino recipes

Froot Loops Cereal Milk Philippine Ice Candy

Confession: The subject of this latest Kulinarya challenge is completely new to me!

I had never heard of Philippine Ice Candy until Jun Belen brought it up to me as we were discussing this month’s challenge. I was born in California and didn’t grow up eating Philippine ice candy. I grew up on Popsicles and Fudgesicles, Push-Ups and the occasional Otter Pop when I was at a friend’s house. Oh…and Thrifty ice cream. Remember when triple scoops of Thrifty’s legendary Chocolate Malted Krunch were 15 cents? Yeah…I’m that old. :)

Ice candy is typically made using long plastic bags that are tied at the top. These bags are usually 1½x10 inches and from what I hear, can be found in the US in Filipino markets. I didn’t have a chance to get to my usual spots, but I found 2×10 inch bags on eBay, which produce a thicker ice candy, which was just fine with me. Use your favorite popsicle mold if you can’t find the bags.

While doing research for this challenge, I loved seeing all the different ways ice candy is served in the Philippines; the use of fresh fruits is pretty mind-boggling. But if I was going to do this challenge any justice, I’d have to draw from the memories of my own American childhood.

Cereal Milk Ice Candy
Fruity Pebbles Ice Candy (center) guarded by Froot Loops Ice Candy.

Cereal milk has always been an indulgence, especially when artificially flavored fruity or chocolately cereals are involved. It’s analogous to the icing on the cake; an extra reward after finishing off something delectable and sweet. Over the past few years, cereal milk’s popularity grew when it became a drink and a featured ingredient at David Chang’s Momofuku Milk Bar. Bottles of cereal milk, cereal milk soft serve ice cream, and cereal milk panna cotta — along with Milk Bar’s compost cookie — made Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi famous, and the official Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook was released in October 2011.

You don’t really need to follow the recipe in the book…cereal milk is made by simply steeping cereal in milk and then straining it. Tosi adds a little brown sugar and salt after steeping to balance flavors, but your own taste buds will let you know if you’re satisfied with the flavor after steeping. Tosi’s recipes use toasted Corn Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, and Cap’n Crunch, but you can use whatever cereal you want. Serious Eats has a fantastic post about the best chocolate cereal to make chocolate cereal milk (they preferred Cocoa Puffs and I concur with them that Cocoa Pebbles are generally awful.


Making a batch of Cocoa Puffs cereal milk.

For this version, I used Froot Loops because they were my favorite fruity cereal when I was a kid (and I was always kind of a Kellogg’s loyalist). My first batch of cereal milk was made with Fruity Pebbles using the Momofuku recipe. I liked it a lot, especially for the color, but it was really sweet. I made a second batch with Froot Loops, which I freestyled, and was really happy with the results. Froot Loops aren’t as sweet as Fruity Pebbles, which I preferred, but you’ll miss out on the pretty peach pink color. The Momofuku cereal milk recipe is below, but feel free to make your cereal milk however you like. :)

Fruity Pebbles Cereal Milk (from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook)

2 cups (100g) Fruity Pebbles
3¾ cup (825g) cold milk (I used 1%)
2 Tbsp (30g) tightly packed light brown sugar
¼ tsp (1g) kosher salt

  1. Crush the Fruity Pebbles with your hands until it’s the texture of coarse sand.
  2. In a large pitcher, add milk and crushed cereal and stir vigorously. Steep mixture for 20 minutes at room temperature
  3. Strain milk into a bowl using a fine mesh sieve
  4. Whisk brown sugar and salt into the milk until fully dissolved. Store in a glass pitcher or milk jug, refrigerated, for up to one week. (I doubt it will last that long!)

Cereal Milk Ice Candy (inspired by Busog Sarap)

2 cups cereal milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar

  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl or blender and stir to combine.
  2. Use a funnel to fill the bags leaving enough room so you can tie them off at the top. Tina at Pinay in Texas has some really good instructions on how to do this.
  3. Place ice candy on flat on a tray or plate and put them in the freezer for at least 8 hours. When they’re ready, the ice candy will be firm but not rock hard.
  4. Cut the knot off the ice bag and enjoy! :)

You can join the Kulinarya Cooking Club too!
Categories
breakfast Filipino kulinarya recipes

Tocino and Blue Potato Hash

This is my first post for the Kulinarya Cooking Club, a collection of Filipino food bloggers that celebrates Filipino cuisine every month. This month’s theme was the “Colors of the Philippine Flag,” which doesn’t sound hard until you consider that there isn’t a lot of blue food from which to choose. The rules did allow for garnishes or dishes to be used to represent the color blue, but I wanted it to be a main component of the dish.

My original idea was to do tocino chilaquiles, but I thought that was a little too easy since I would’ve simply bought a bag of blue tortilla chips. The hash idea evolved naturally from there, and blue potatoes was a natural choice. I wanted to tocino to represent the color red, and I used Jun Belen’s tocino recipe. I’ve been experimenting with tocino recipes for awhile, but I wanted to try Jun’s recipe because I like its simplicity and his use of red beet powder as a coloring agent. I added red bell pepper at the end for a more “pure” red color, since the tocino’s redness would diminish a bit when cooking. To round out the colors, I used a sunny egg for the yellow and white, which also fairly accurately represents the sun on Philippine flag.

For the technique, I pretty much followed the steps for the corned beef hash at Simply Recipes. It’s really straightforward and easily adaptable. Thanks, Elise!

I think I should’ve maybe used some yukon gold or other light-colored potato to maybe help the blue potatoes stand out more, but in the end, it was delicious and that’s all that really matters. :)

Tocino and Blue Potato Hash

(adapted from Simply Recipes.)

1 lb. cooked tocino, finely chopped
1½ cups cooked blue potatoes, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat butter in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes, until translucent.
  2. Mix in the chopped tocino and potatoes. Spread out evenly over the pan. Increase the heat to high or medium high and press down on the mixture with a metal spatula.
  3. Do not stir the potatoes and tocino, but let them brown. If you hear them sizzling, this is good. Use a metal spatula to peak underneath and see if they are browning. If nicely browned, use the spatula to flip sections over in the pan so that they brown on the other side. Press down again with the spatula. If there is too much sticking, you can add a little more butter to the pan. Continue to cook in this manner until the potatoes and the tocino are nicely browned.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in chopped red bell pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Top with fried or poached eggs for breakfast.
Categories
dessert musings recipes

A Pie for Mikey…and Moses

I’m one of those people that’s on my iPhone all the time checking Facebook, playing Words With Friends, scanning through tweets, etc. Most of the time it’s the rhythm of my online addiction that causes me to pull out my phone and start rapidly swiping and pushing on my touchscreen, sometimes not knowing where I actually want to go or what I’m trying to find. On Twitter, I’m following so many people that staying current with my Twitter feed is a real challenge. But last Sunday, amidst the river of tweets I watched speed past my eyes, this tweet interrupted my flow…

I assumed the worst when I first read it, but my gut reaction wasn’t confirmed until Wednesday when I saw that Gluten Free Girl retweeted Jennifer’s tribute to her husband Mikey.

I don’t know Jennifer very well at all. We first met at BlogHer Food 2009 when we sat at the same table for lunch. It wasn’t my first food blogger conference, but I remember being really intimidated about being at my first BlogHer event because I am, after all, a man. :) Both Jennifer and Gina von Esmarch immediately made me feel at ease, and we suffered (and laughed) through the trainwreck of Rocco DiSpirito’s keynote lunch presentation (where conference sponsor Bertolli thought serving a room full of food bloggers their line Frozen Classic Meals at the St. Regis Hotel was a good idea). After that, just like with many other bloggers I’ve met, we’d exchange random thoughts via Twitter every once in a while. A year later, I ran into Jennifer in an elevator at BlogHer Food 2010. I stuck out my hand to greet her and reintroduce myself and she said she remembered me, as well, which I really appreciated.

Of course, you don’t have to be directly connected to Jennifer to understand the devastation and grief she and her two young daughters are experiencing following Mikey’s death — you merely have to have a heart.

Last month, my cousin Moses died suddenly. Like Mikey, he was only 51, which is far too young, especially with three beautiful daughters, grandkids and an extended circle of family and friends that are still reeling from his loss. I met Moses for the first time in March—he was a lot closer to my parents—and found him to be as funny and magnetic as my mom always said he was. I wish I met him sooner because he was a fun guy to be around.


Moses with his daughters Faith, Hope, and Joy.

Jennifer said Mikey loved her Creamy Peanut Butter Pie, and she posted the recipe in her tribute post with one request:

For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

So here’s my pie for Mikey. I’d like to think that Moses would’ve liked this too.

I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, but I swapped out the 8 ounces of chocolate cookies with 4 ounces of Annie’s Chocolate Bunny Grahams and 4 ounces of Newman-O’s sandwich cookies (sans creamy centers, of course.) When I got home from the store with all the ingredients, I realized that I forgot to buy peanuts, so I harvested some from two individual-sized packs of Costco trail mix that we have in the house. :P

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
adapted from Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen

Serves 10 to 12

4 ounces Annie’s Chocolate Bunny Grahams

4 ounces Newman O’s sandwich cookie pieces (repurpose creamy centers at your peril)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Categories
travel

Eating London – Day 1: Fryer’s Delight and St. John Restaurant

After spending Six Hours in Boston, we hopped on another red-eye to London. We arrived in Heathrow at around 7:15am and hadn’t really slept in two days. But after finally getting into London at around 9:30am and settling into the Russell Square flat where we were staying, we went looking for food.

One of my eating missions for our trip was to find a chippy for some proper fish and chips. I’d read a lot about various chippies around London, but when I learned that Fryer’s Delight was walking distance from our flat AND fried everything in beef tallow, it immediately got on our “must” list. I ordered the haddock and my wife had the cod. We got it with a side of forgettable mushy peas, but you can’t really go wrong with this as a first meal:

Fried Haddock and Chips at Fryer's Delight
Fried Haddock and Chips at Fryer’s Delight

Energized by fried food, we walked our way through Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, and Camden until we ended up at the British Museum, a welcome (and free) sight since it was drizzling outside and my wife doesn’t like the rain.

The main hall at the British Museum
The main hall at the British Museum

(We had a lot more pictures, but my wife’s bag was stolen, including our beloved Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 inside, while we were shopping in Piccadilly Circus before we had a chance to download the pictures from the camera. Because of this, pictures from the first two days in London are from my iPhone 4. Good thing I was taking pictures, too!)

After looking at mummies and other artifacts that were stolen from Egypt, we went back to the flat to rest before for our dinner at St. John Restaurant, Fergus Henderson’s shrine to nose-to-tail eating. The restaurant is in Clerkenwell, which wasn’t that far from the flat, so we walked to dinner. We walked a lot in London, which is funny because at home, we normally drive to places that are much closer than many of the places we walked to in London. I hope this changes now that we’re back.

St. John Still Water
St. John still mineral water by Hildon

We met one of my wife’s friends at the restaurant, which meant there was going to be more food to sample. :) We started with the Roasted Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad, which is just about as classic as you can get. I loved that there was still meat on the bones for us to gnaw on along with the marrow and toast.

Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad.
Roasted Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad

Our other starter was simply called “Terrine” on the menu and contained Middlewhite pork, duck, rabbit offal, foie gras and some other awesome stuff I don’t remember.

Terrine
Terrine

Our friend ordered the Turbot, Fennel & Samphire, which she liked a lot, and we all learned that a samphire is a “sea green bean.”

Turbot, Fennel & Samphire
Turbot, Fennel & Samphire

I ordered the Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli, a simple and delicious roasted pork dish that came with a nice surprise…a little chicharron. I always appreciate a little fried pork skin when it’s made available to me. :)

Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli
Roast Tamworth, Carrot & Aioli

Speaking of fried pork skin, my wife ordered the Pig’s Cheek & Dandelion, which features one of the best parts of the pig and also contained some fried bits of pork skin and crunchy breadcrumbs for texture. This was our favorite entrée of the night.

Pig's Cheek and Dandelion
Pig’s Cheek & Dandelion

St. John may be a mecca for meat lovers, but their desserts were also outstanding. The Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream was the best peach dish I’ve ever eaten and is one of my favorite desserts of all time. I love peaches, but I’ve never eaten anything this pure before. Simply stellar.

Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream
Poached Peach & Vanilla Ice Cream

My excitement over the peaches didn’t malign my impressions of the other two desserts we ordered. The Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche was a decadent combination, and the Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream was a great showcase for the season’s freshest strawberries.

Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche
Chocolate Mousse & Crème Fraîche
Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream

You have to order the Madeleines at least 15 minutes in advance, which we did, and they were a great way to end the meal. They’re pretty hefty and we ended up taking a few home and eating them for breakfast the next morning.

MadeleinesMadeleines

My only regret was that I didn’t order the Ox Heart, Beetroot & Horseradish, but overall, I think we had a pretty good first day of eating in London. We returned to the flat to rest up for day two, which featured more English culinary royalty…Heston Blumenthal.

Fryer’s Delight
19 Theobalds Road
London WC1X 8SL
44(0)20 7405 4114

St. John Restaurant
26 St. John Street
London EC1M 4AY (map)
44(0)20 3301 8069
Web site

Categories
travel

Eating London – Day 2: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

The first place many eaters think of when they’re making restaurant reservations in the UK is Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray, and I was no exception. The Fat Duck is one of the world’s best restaurants and serves a fun and experimental menu that showcases Blumenthal’s creativity alongside his culinary expertise. And this is the guy who used a hot tub as a waterbath to sous vide a whole pig…why wouldn’t we want to eat there?

Cost was definitely a factor, especially at £160 (approx. $260) per person and the US Dollar being so weak, and we didn’t want to spend a huge chunk of our eating budget at one restaurant. Plus, we weren’t too keen on traveling all the way out to Bray from London just for dinner when we already had other day trips to Oxford and Warwick on our schedule.

Menu Holder

Then I heard that Blumenthal opened a new restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, at the tony Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, and I focused my efforts on getting a booking there. The only problem with this plan was that Dinner is one of the hardest reservations in London and was booked solid till July…or so I thought. I gave the restaurant a call and snagged a booking for a Saturday lunch, which was fine with me because we had full access to the menu (there’s a set lunch menu Mon-Fri), and in the daytime the natural light in the restaurant is good for pictures. :)

The focus at Dinner isn’t a multi-course, avant-garde tasting extravaganza but simply the modernization of classic British dishes, and on the menu, every dish has a date next to it signifying the approximate year it originated. I was glad to see this because I wanted to believe that British cuisine had been maligned by cliché stereotypes, and I was confident that Blumenthal could dispel these aspersions.

Two of Dinner’s most talked/written/blogged-about dishes are on the starter menu. The Meat Fruit looks like a mandarin orange, stem and all, but when you cut the mandarin gel “skin,” a creamy chicken liver parfait is revealed. Spread the parfait on toast and you’re in business, and don’t forget to include a little bit of the mandarin skin for a subtle citrusy note.

Meat Fruit (c. 1500)
Meat Fruit (c.1500)
Mandarin, chicken liver parfait, grilled bread

The Salamagundy is made up primarily of chicken oysters, bone marrow and horseradish cream. The original dish was what passed for a salad back in the day, and the name generally means a hodgepodge of disparate items. In this case, these disparate ingredients make a tasty appetizer.

Salamagundy (c. 1720)
Salamagundy (c.1720)
Chicken oysters, bone marrow, horseradish cream

My wife ordered the Cod in Cider, a relatively modern dish compared to the rest of the menu. She said it was “the best-cooked fish I’ve had since Le Bernardin” (approx. three years ago) and liked the way the acidity of the cider complemented the cod.

Cod in Cider (c. 1940)
Cod in Cider (c.1940)
Chard and fired mussels

I ordered the Sirloin of Black Angus with mushroom ketchup, red wine juice, and triple-cooked chips. The steak was outstanding on its own, but the dollops of bone marrow topped with bread crumbs and chives on top of the steak took it to another level. The chips were some of the best fries I’ve ever had.

Sirloin of Black Angus (c.1830)
Sirloin of Black Angus (c.1830)
mushroom ketchup, red wine juice, triple-cooked chips

Dinner’s desserts are also getting a lot of buzz, especially the Tipsy Cake, which is basically brioche infused with creme and served in a cast iron cocotte alongside a piece of spit-roasted pineapple. If you’ve ever had grilled pineapple, I think spit roasting is much better because it’s a slower process that produces a deeper caramelized flavor.

Tipsy Cake (c.1810)
Tipsy Cake (c.1810)
Spit-roasted pineapple

We also had the Baked Lemon Suet Pudding, which is a suet cake filled with lemon caramel pudding. I love lemon desserts, so this one was also a favorite.

Baked Lemon Suet Pudding (c.1630)
Baked Lemon Suet Pudding (c.1630)
Lemon caramel & jersey cream

Service was casual and generally attentive, but they kinda forgot about me when I wanted tea at the end of the meal. I ended up just asking for coffee and the check. One really cool thing was that when we had to pay, we had the option of paying in US Dollars, which gave us the best exchange rate and eliminated at least one credit card foreign transaction fee. I assume this is because the restaurant is in a big international hotel; we didn’t get this option at any other place during our trip.

We liked Dinner a lot and would definitely go back if we had another opportunity, especially because the one dish I really wanted to try, the 72-hour sous vide short rib dish known as the Beef Royal, wasn’t available, and you know how much I love my short ribs. Still, despite outstanding meals from two of London’s most acclaimed (or overhyped?) restaurants within 24 hours of each other since our arrival, little did we know our best meal was yet to come…

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7LA (map)
44(0)20 7201 3833
Web site

Categories
musings travel

Six Hours in Boston

It’s been a long time, huh? I’m still around but took a little break from blogging (as you might have noticed). :) I fully intend to start writing again, and I’ve been working on some things that I really want to share with you. But before we get to that, l’m currently on vacation in London, and we head to Paris for a few days next week. I vowed before we left that I would use the trip as a vehicle to start writing again, so Inuyaki is going into travelogue mode for the next couple of weeks.

Our outbound trip consisted of two consecutive redeyes—one of from SF > Boston and then Boston > London. There was a 12-hour gap between these two flights, so we decided use that time to explore Boston’s colonial heritage, as well as some of its more modern treasures.

One thing I loved was the water taxi service from Logan Airport to Rowes Wharf. It was a clear day and we had a great view of downtown Boston from the boat. There are several water taxi services available, but we picked Rowes Wharf Water Transport because they were the only water taxi service I could find that offered luggage storage.

Downtown Boston from our water taxi.
Downtown Boston from our water taxi.

After disembarking, we headed straight for Flour Bakery for breakfast. A couple friends recommended Flour Bakery to me, but it was my old Asian American studies professor Emily Lawsin who let me know that it was owned by Joanne Chang and that she beat Bobby Flay in a sticky bun Throwdown. That information was good enough for us, but this picture is pretty convincing evidence, as well.

Flour Bakery’s famous sticky bun.

We also ordered one of Flour’s bacon, caramelized onion and bleu cheese biscuits and a couple glasses of milk, and afterwards, we really needed to go for a walk, so we headed towards Boston Common. There was one specific reason I wanted to go up there, and it wasn’t to enjoy the park. It was to pay tribute to the movie “Glory,” a movie that my wife and I both love. “Glory” tells the story of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first all-black regiment to fight in the Civil War. There’s a monument dedicated to them in the northeast corner of Boston Common, and we had to check it out.

54th Massachusetts Memorial in Boston Common
“I love the 54th.”

We continued walking west on Beacon Street because there was a place I just had to go. A place “where everybody knows your”—nevermind. ;)

Cheers
“…and they’re always glad you came.”

We continued through The Public Garden and we had a little fun taking pictures of the George Washington Statue.

George Washington Statue
George Washington statue

We were going to hop on the T and go to Fenway Park for a tour, but we decided keep walking. We walked down Commonwealth Avenue and admired the neighborhood, and then we worked our way past the Boston Architectural College and the next thing you know, we’re in front of Berklee College of Music. Fenway was close and in sight. We trudged along, walking down Boylston Street and then Ipswich until we saw the back of Fenway Park. Now, I’m not a Red Sox fan, and I’m not even the best baseball fan in the world (especially with my Dodgers in a state of disarray), but I still love baseball history and Fenway’s full of it. My wife could care less about baseball, or sports in general, but she’s been a great sport after dragging her on a tour of old Yankee stadium and now Fenway.

Fenway Park
This sign is on a wall near the back entrance at Fenway.

The tour guides at Fenway lay the Red Sox propagand—er…history on thick, and they’re not shy about taking shots at the Yankees either. I don’t remember the Yankees stadium tour guide ever mentioning the Red Sox, but when you think about it…why would they? :) Rivalries aside, if you love baseball and remember the feeling you got the first time you walked into a baseball stadium and saw the field, those feelings are exactly the same when you walk into Fenway.

First steps into Fenway

And the view from the The Green Monster is pretty sweet, too.

The view from the Monster seats.

After the tour, we were starving and hopped on the T to Boston’s North End to have Lobster Rolls at Neptune Oyster. We had one hot with butter and one cold with mayo dressing. They were both really good, but we preferred the cold lobster roll…probably because it was 86F and muggy outside.

Lobster Roll (Hot)
Lobster Roll (hot with butter)
Lobster Roll (cold)
Lobster Roll (cold with mayo dressing)

Our last stop before heading back to the airport was Mike’s Pastry for cannolis. This place is crazy busy and their cannolis are gigantic. We had a limoncello and a chocolate ricotta cannoli. I liked the chocolate ricotta better, and it was also the better of the two pictures I took, so here you go…

Chocolate Ricotta Cannoli
Chocolate Ricotta Cannoli

I really wish we had more time to explore Boston, but I think we did a pretty good job considering our time restriction. I hope we make it back to Boston soon with more time to really experience it. And maybe next time, I’ll make it more interesting by wearing Lakers gear around town. :)

Categories
dessert Filipino street food

Puto Bumbong

Puto Bumbong is a Filipino delicacy that’s traditionally served during the Christmas season in the Philippines. It literally translates to steamed glutinous rice (puto) cooked in bamboo (bumbong), and it’s a staple at my best friend’s house, where we gather for Noche Buena at midnight on Christmas Eve. The purple color comes from the mixture of sweet rice and black rice (pirurutong), but I’ve seen recipes that call for purple food coloring, which is obviously cheating! Puto bumbong is served with butter, sugar and freshly grated coconut on top. I asked my friend’s mom if she would show me how to make puto bumbong, and she was happy to oblige.

Puto Bumbong
Dave Chappelle says “I want that purple stuff!”

Cooking puto bumbong is fairly quick but preparing the rice is a three-day process. On the first day, you take a mixture of equal parts of sweet rice and pirurutong and soak it overnight. On the second day, you take the mixture and grind it in a blender. (In the Philippines, you’d traditionally use a grinding stone of some kind.) Then the mixture is placed in a cotton sack (like a flour sack) for another day in order to drain any excess water. Since it’s generally warm at Christmastime in the Philippines, you’d simply hang the bag outside and let gravity do the work. With the colder winters here in the States, better results are obtained by putting a heavy weight on the bag to force the excess water out.

The rice mixture should be ready the next day, and it should be moist, not dry. The next step is to use your hands to mix it up and break up any clumps.

Purple Rice Mixture
Clumps are bad.

To cook the puto bumbong, you need a special steamer. This one has three holes on top so that the steam can escape and cook the puto in the bamboo. The cloth wrapped around the bamboo helps prevent burnt hands.

Puto Bumbong Steamer

Simply fill up the bamboo with the rice mixture and put it on top of the steamer. You can tell when it’s done when the rice turns dark purple and kind of shrinks into the bamboo.

Three Different Stages of Doneness
Clockwise from top: almost done, just started (light purple), and finished (dark purple).

Before you remove the puto bumbong from the bamboo, hold the top of the bamboo over the steam to finish cooking the end that was farthest away from the steam.

Finishing the Ends...
Finish off the tip.

To remove from the bamboo, hold the bamboo in your left hand…then hit the pinky side of your left hand against your right palm by the base of your thumb. The puto bumbong should plop onto plate.

Puto Bumbong with Butter
Lots of butter is very important!

To finish, slather the puto bumbong with butter and then top it with freshly grated coconut and sugar (either white or brown). In the Philippines, puto bumbong is sold by street vendors after Mass during Christmas week and is wrapped in banana leaves so customers can take it with them. Since we normally enjoy these at home, we just eat it fresh from the steamer…no banana leaves required.

Thanks to my Tita Lety for showing me how this delicious Christmas treat is made. It’s always great going to their house on Christmas Eve for Noche Buena just a few hours after finishing our own Christmas Dinner.

Categories
recipes sous vide

Thanksgiving Turkey with Kikkoman & the Sous Vide Supreme

Kikkoman Sous Vide TurkeyKikkoman-brined Sous Vide Turkey

I don’t think I’ve ever written a post on this blog that directly promoted specific products, but my attendance at BlogHer Food ’10 a couple months ago in San Francisco netted me a couple opportunities from Kikkoman and Sous Vide Supreme that I couldn’t really pass up. Writing about Kikkoman products wasn’t a problem for me because I was raised on Kikkoman soy sauce, and it’s also the only shoyu my wife allows in the house.

Longtime readers of this blog know that I’ve been sous vide cooking for a few years now and that I’ve had issues with the immersion circulators I’ve owned. I’ve been in the market for a replacement since my latest stopped circulating and the Sous Vide Supreme is an option I’ve been considering. I recently received a demo unit of their new Sous Vide Supreme Demi and decided to sous vide some turkey that was brined using Kikkoman’s soy-sauce-based recipe.

Instead of buying a whole bird, mainly because I didn’t want to break it down into parts, I bought separate turkey pieces: two each of legs, thighs and breasts. I deboned the thighs and breasts and removed the skins so I could make turkey chicharrones. That’s right…turkey chicharrones.

Turkey ChicharronesTurkey Chicharrones

If you’re curious, I basically followed the same method I used in my fried pork rinds post to make the turkey chicharrones. They’re not as crispy and delicate as pork chicharrones, but they’re still tasty.

After brining the turkey overnight, I turned on the Demi and set the temperature to 65C. As the Demi was heating up, I rinsed the turkey pieces and then bagged and sealed them using the Sous Vide Supreme vacuum sealer. Since dark meat takes significantly longer to cook than white meat, I put the legs and thighs in the Demi at around 9am and went to work. At around 5pm, I called my wife and asked her to take out the legs and put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and quickly bring them to a safe temperature. The legs were replaced in the Demi by the breast meat. Dinner was at 8:30, so this was plenty of time to cook the breast meat.

When I got home around 6pm, I took the legs out of the ice bath, cut open the bag and set aside any juices in the bag for gravy. I put the turkey legs on a rack with an electric fan pointed at it to dry out the meat. My plan was to fry the turkey legs in oil to crisp up the skin, so the legs had to be as dry as possible. The legs sat on the rack for a couple hours alongside the turkey skin that I had been drying out since the morning. (Chicharrones fry up nicely when the skins are completely dry but since I didn’t have a food dehydrator handy, I used the electric fan method.)

When I was ready to get dinner plated, I filled a cast iron skillet with enough oil to fry the turkey legs (about halfway up the side) and heated it to 350F. While the oil was heating up, I removed the thighs from the Demi and finished them by searing them a separate pan with a little bit of oil for a couple minutes on each side until the turkey was nicely browned. When the frying oil for the turkey legs reached 350F, I fried the legs for about five minutes—turning them as necessary so they didn’t burn—until the skin was brown and crispy. The legs and thighs were more than enough to feed the five of us, so I didn’t bother finishing the breast meat and saved it for later. While the turkey legs were frying, I assembled the gravy heating up the bag juices in a small pot then mixing in a little butter and flour until it thickened.

Turkey Breast with GravyWe saved the breast and ate it two days later after reheating it
in the Sous Vide Supreme Demi.

The finished turkey was juicy and the flavors were well balanced. The soy sauce didn’t overwhelm the turkey but merely enhanced all the other flavors around it, and it helped give the turkey a nice brown color. I think the goal of Kikkoman’s marketing campaigns the last couple years is to show that soy sauce can break out of its Asian sweet spot and be used to enhance the flavors of any genre of food, and this turkey brine is proof of that.

So if you haven’t figured out how you want to cook your turkey or you want to try something new this year, Kikkoman’s soy sauce turkey brine is easy, and you can cook the turkey any way you want—fry, roast, sous vide—the choice is yours. Here’s the brine recipe to get you started. :)

Kikkoman Turkey Brine

2 gallons cold water
10 ounces Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons dried celery seed
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories
Filipino Oakland reviews

Pulled Pork Adobo Sandwich at Cafe Gabriela – Oakland, CA

Pulled Pork Adobo Sandwich

Cafe Gabriela has been open for around seven months and it’s a couple blocks from my office, but I never thought about going there until my friend Luis told me they served a pulled pork adobo sandwich. After I read that tweet, I immediately left the office to go get some lunch.

The adobo is cooked long enough so that the pork pulls apart easily, and flavorwise, I really liked that you can actually taste the vinegar. It’s served topped with onions and any juices are absorbed by a perfectly toasted baguette. Owner Penny Bee, who named the business after Philippine heroine Gabriela Silang, developed the recipe herself and says she’s gotten several requests for a chicken adobo sandwich, as well.

Aside from their signature adobo sandwich, Cafe Gabriela’s other menu options include a turkey cranberry sandwich and an heirloom tomato salad. They also make a point to showcase some of the East Bay’s best businesses, including The Bread Workshop, Blue Bottle Coffee, Arizmendi Bakery, and Pepples Donuts.

I’ve been desperate for Filipino lunch options since I started working in downtown Oakland in February. With Cafe Gabriela and the newly opened No Worries vegan Filipino restaurant just a few blocks in the other direction, my Filipino lunch cravings are finally satisfied.

Cafe Gabriela
988 Broadway
(between 9th St & 10th St)
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 763-2233
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