Monday, April 30, 2012

Philippine Mangoes

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
One thing that I missed being away from home was the abundance of mangoes during the summer months. One might say, it is just a fruit but we take pride in our mangoes and we consider them as one of a kind. For one, the texture of Philippine mangoes rival those of canned peaches in terms of smoothness. You basically bite into a smooth and succulent fruit which when fully ripe, is sinfully sweet. Thus, they are ideally suited for use in cakes and mousses. However, they are wonderful eaten just as they are be it sliced or peeled whole like you are eating a mango popsicle. I actually have to control myself since I could easily overindulge. Second, they are just delicious. Nothing more to say really. In the heat of the summer months, all you need is one slice of a cold mango fruit and it makes everything seem better. It is that delicious. 

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Being from Bacolod, we are partial to mangoes from the island of Guimaras which rival the mangoes from Cebu. I have yet to try one from Cebu but due to the proximity of Guimaras to where I live, the favored variety is from Guimaras. These same mangoes make their way into the White House and Buckingham Palace due to their sweetness. I have yet to establish a kitchen that will allow me to bake, much less cook so I'm hoping that I might be able to feature a mango mousse cake any time soon. For now, I leave you with a picture of what a slice of heaven might look like, in fruit form.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Buko Fruit Salad

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Buko or young coconut is found almost anywhere in the country and most especially in the island where I grew up. We used to have three tall coconut trees in our backyard and we also had the dwarf variety which was low enough I could easily just pluck one head off the trunk. That was then but the reality is that we have none of our coconut trees still surviving. However, my godmother next door do have a couple more trees and she graciously allowed us to pick from her tree for this event we were planning for my mom's birthday. 

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I carefully chose the menu for this lunch affair since I was still in reminiscing mode. I chose this fruit dessert since this is my Dad's favorite. Good thing we had a cousin living with us who has no fear when it comes to climbing really tall trees. Look at the picture closely and you will realize how high up he is. This tree is taller than out two-story house. I felt bad taking this picture since he is the one risking his neck for our dessert. Still, the coconuts were the perfect age to make this sweet salad. The main dish was inspired by my Mom's favorite holiday dish and the rest, I filled in with things I missed the most. Recipes from the affair will be featured a bit later.

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This dessert is really easy to make. You do not need any exact measurements since this dessert is assembled according to your specific taste. As I got older, my tolerance for saccharinely sweet desserts have reached a lower level of tolerance so we had to readjust the amount of condensed milk to make sure that the overall sweetness is just right. I'm just glad that the rest of the family have gone this route as well so we're all good! I managed to find young coconuts in the US for about 2$ a pop. Not too bad but you will need at least 10 if you are going to feed an army of 20-25. 

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The other thing to decide on is whether to use Kaong or Nata de Coco. Both are available in major oriental stores if you happen to live close by one of them. Go through the Filipino section and you will find them in either white, green or red color. I prefer the kaong but a close second is the is the Nata de Coco. Of course, you can do away with either one if gelatinous morsels are not your thing. 

Buko Fruit Salad

10 young coconuts, hulled and meat scored into strings
5-6 lbs tropical or regular fruit cocktail, drained
1 32 oz pineapple chunks, drained
3 cup red kaong, rinsed and drained
4 cups white kaong, rinsed and drained
1-14 oz condensed milk
3 cup heavy cream

To make the salad, combine all the ingredients and adjust the sweetness by varying the amount of condensed milk. This can also be made with the addition of raisins, canned sliced peaches and pears and even diced soft cheeses like mild cheddar and Monterrey Jack. You can also add more coconut meat or sliced apples and whole seedless grapes if you prefer. Really, any fruit is a welcome addition to this dessert and it is only your preference to a particular fruit that will limit what you can use to make this dessert. Make sure that you serve this salad really cold.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sauteed Water Cabbage

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Growing up in the city of Bacolod, it was quite fun being in the city and yet be quite far enough to enjoy the perks of a small town. One of the perks is the access to open lots where vegetables can be grown during the rainy months. At this point, parts of the planting bed includes a muddy shallow pool where water cabbages (Kangkong) grow in abundance. Considered a weed in the US, this wonderful vegetable is quite far low in the rung of preferred greens being also used to feed pigs grown for their meat. It is indeed a simple peasant fare but for me, it is something that is a favorite in our family.

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Traditionally, you use only the tips where the leaves are found and cooked adobo style seasoned with vinegar and soy sauce. In some restaurants however, it is seasoned a bit more delicately with oyster sauce and sesame oil. Meat can also be added but I prefer to make this dish without any to ensure you enjoy the full flavor of the vegetable. If unavailable, Chinese broccoli or even regular broccoli and asparagus can also be used as a good substitute.I saw this in the local grocery store and I could just not walk away from it without having to buy it. It was a dish that took 7 years in the making.

Sauteed Water Cabbage

2-3 lbs water cabbage, ends trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch stalks
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp canola oil
¼ cup water
Salt and pepper
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ cup oyster sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

1. Clean and cut the water lettuce to size. Wash and drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large wok over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook 

    until golden brown. Spoon out and set aside.

3. Add the water cabbage and increase the heat to medium. Season with the 

    soy sauce and about a teaspoon of salt and a few turns of black pepper. 
    Add the water and cover until it comes to a boil.

4. Add the oyster sauce and stir to mix. Cook covered until the stalks are 

    tender. Check for flavor.

5. Drizzle in the sesame oil and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with 

    the roasted garlic and serve right away.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Caviar and White Beans

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What can you say, this was my sustenance while packing my stuff before heading home. As inspired by Sophia Loren's version of this dish, all you need really is a good artisan bread, preferably a simple variety and your choice of beans. Canned white beans or cannellini is the preferred choice but if pressed, any canned beans white beans will do. There is not much in terms of a recipe but rather a simple instruction on how to present the dish in a appetizing way and to eat it with as much gusto as you can muster.

Caviar and White Beans

4 oz caviar (your choice of caviar)
1 15-oz can white beans, drained and mashed
slices of white bread
parsley leaf to garnish

To assemble this appetizer, spread an even amount of the mashed beans over the sliced bread. Top with about a teaspoon of caviar and garnish with the parsley leaf. You can spoon a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil or white truffle oil if desired. Enjoy and feast without any wine to savor the flavor of the caviar.

Hong Kong Blues

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I was stuck in Chicago and Hong Kong while traveling for home. While I felt like it was a never ending ordeal, especially when you had to lug large suitcases and a computer bag that weighed a ton due to the Hunger Games trilogy that I refused to let go of, having finally made it to the last leg of my international trip was a relief.

While stuck in the various airports in Chicago O'Hare and the International ariport in Hong Kong, we bonded as a group of desperate passengers trying to get home while trying to finds ways of eating a decent meal to keep up with waiting in line to get our boarding passes. A few of us decided to actually just hang around the airport in Hong Kong instead of leaving for the one hour trip to the hotel and back which left us with just about 4 hours to sleep in the hotel which to me did not make sense anymore. What was good was that we were able to get through the security gates and have breakfast inside the airport and take our time while waiting for the flight to Manila. 

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One thing I noticed though was that the information people (and mostly everyone) at the Hong Kong airport are the rudest people you will ever meet. It is like you are taking too much of their time when they are supposed to be there to help you. I could say more about this but I hate having to turn the pages of my blog blue. Anyway, despite the rudeness, I was able to relish a wonderful breakfast treat of a wrapped sticky rice with a pork stuffing (although I ended up with the chicken version) and it was really good. I thought the leaf used to wrap this wonderful dish are the taro leaves but after some research, it is actually made with lotus leaf. Well, duh to me! I knew this and I just forgot!

Still, having said my piece about Hong Kong being in my list of the last place I want to revisit, the food was excellent. It was good I overcame my annoyance over the people who served them to me. Sadly, being rude is apparently the norm of the people in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Heading Home

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The time has finally come to pass, again. I am going back on hiatus indefinitely. It will be much longer than the one I took last year since this time, I'm heading home for good. And by home, I mean the Philippines. I had a great run living in the US for about 15 years but it is finally time to go home. My decision was made not just for my Dad but also to do what I promised myself a long time ago, to give back and share what I learned in the US to the next generation of scientists back home. It is also time for me to go after my other passion which is cooking. I'm not sure in what capacity but it will be something I will have to figure out with the other cooks in the family, my cousin Estela and my Nanay Mercy.

It has been some time since I have been home but I know that the kitchen has to be remodeled to accommodate my more extensive culinary experience. This might be the major setback to my posting of new recipes but I'll try to post as much recipes as I can once I'm home. There will also definitely be a change in direction in terms of the recipes I post but I will try to strike a balance using recipes that will be easy to cook given the rarity of Asian ingredients in the US or Europe. I may have to find inventive alternatives for some of the ingredients but I promise that it will be delicious.

To all of you who have been following my blog, thank you for keeping me busy in the kitchen. You were all my inspiration. Just keep checking for updates and once settled, I'll try to get back into the swing of things. But for now, happy cooking and until next time!

Fresh Lumpia (Fresh Vegetable Roll)

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Here is another lumpia recipe and this time, it is the more common version of fresh lumpia. What I love about this dish is how healthy and fresh it is. I can also definitely say with confidence that this is a good substitute to the normal vegetable salad typically served when you are having guests over. The trick to this dish is to make sure that you do not overcook the vegetables. It needs to have a bit of a crunch to give it that fresh taste. The flavor also comes primarily from the brown sauce but the roll itself has enough flavor to carry itself. 

Fresh Lumpia

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2 cups jicama, julienned
2 cups carrots, julinned
1 large onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup bean sprouts
4 cups cabbage, julienned
1 cube vegetable bouillon
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large head green leaf 
1 packet spring roll 
1/2 recipe of sweet brown 

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil at medium heat and saute the onions and 
    garlic until softened. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Add the jicama and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bouillon and 
    mix well. 

3. Add the cabbage and mix well. Cover and lower the heat to medium low 
    and cook until the cabbage has wilted. Check for flavor and adjust with 
    salt and pepper. Let cool until slightly warm.

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4. Add the bean sprouts and 
    mix well.
5. To assemble, lay the top 
    of one green lettuce leaf 
    on a corner of a sping roll 
    wrapper. Spoon 2-3 tbsps 
    of the vegetable mix and 
    fold the lower corner of 
    the wrapper over the 
    filling. Tuck one of the 
    edges towards the center 
    and roll towards the other 
    edge. Wet with cold water
    to seal. 

6. Keep chilled and covered with a damp cloth until ready to serve. Serve with
    the sweet brown sauce as a starter course.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Black Forest Gateau

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I know I'm trying to cut down on sweets but when a fellow blogger used my recipe for Black Forest Cake, she informed me that March 28 is National Black Forest Cake day. She also gave me the idea that this cake is the best way to put stamp on my blog which will be on hiatus for some time. This cake is the first posting of cakes for my blog and so it does seem fitting that I'm making this for my last posts before taking off from Montana. 

One thing I want to make sure though is to present a variation of the cake so I looked around until I found this recipe from the BBC Food Recipes website. The author is chef Antony Worrall Thompson. Being a recipe from Britain, I had to modify it into metric measurements for the American and Filipino bakers (and any other nationality for that matter) who have been using my recipes. I initially baked the cake in an 8-inch baking pan but it rose like a souffle and after taking the cake out of the oven, the middle part deflated into a large crater with raw batter underneath the caved in center. I had to tweak it some more and baked the cake using a 9-inch round pan and extending the baking time until the middle part was firm when I took it out of the oven. I thus present to you a highly modified version of Chef Worrall's Black Forest Gateau. 

Black Forest Gateau - Adapted*    

2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
6 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and grease an 9-inch round cake pan 
    and dust with flour. Tap excess flour. Line the bottom with a parchment 

2. Sift the cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. In a mixer bowl, beat the butter with the sugar at high speed using the 
    whisk attachment until and fluffy. This will take about 3-4 minutes. 

4. Gradually add the sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes. 

5. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. 

6. Lower the speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients. Once 
    added, increase the speed to medium and beat until just mixed. Do not 

7. Fold in the vanilla and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in 
    the oven for 60 minutes or until the middle is set. Cool in the pan on a 
    wire rack. 

The cake had two filling components, the sour cherries in a sugar glaze and the whipped cream. The cake is also frosted with a ganache giving it the appearance of a regular chocolate cake. It is only when you slice into the cake that the real cake is revealed.

Cherry Filling:
2 15-oz sour or tart or black cherries, canned + 200mL (1 cup) of the syrup
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla

1. Heat the syrup in a small pot with the sugar over low heat. Bring to a boil and stir in the cornstarch. Break the lumps and stir until thickened.

2. Cool the syrup to room temperature and add the vanilla and brandy. Mix well. Add the cherries and chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. 

Chocolate Ganache:
14 oz semisweet or dark chocolate
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp brandy

Heat the cream in a small pot over low heat until almost boiling. Pour over the chocolate and let it sit until softened. Whisk the ganache until smooth and glossy. Add the brandy and mix to stir. Cool until thickened but still workable.

Cream Filling:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

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Store the mixer bowl and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and beat at high speed until thick and stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and the sugar just to combine. 

To assemble the cake, slice the cake horizontally into three equal layers. Take the lowest layer and lay on a serving plate. Spoon half the cherries and spread evenly. Top with half the whipped cream. 

Top with the second cake layer and spread the cherry filling and the whipped cream. Top with the last layer. Clean up the cake by removing any crumbs with a pastry brush and even out the cake using a metal spatula to smooth out the cream frosting. Set the cake aside in the fridge.

When the ganache is of the right consistency, frost the whole cake and store in the fridge for at least 4 hours to allow the flavors to meld. 

*BBC Foods recipe: Black Forest Gateau.

Potato and Jalapeno Pierogi

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Pierogi have become a favorite of mine after having been introduced to them by my friend Jeff who is of Polish descent. He and his wife, Laurie, made pierogi quite a bit and I was able to taste a few of their creations and I just loved it. These little gems are basically a dumpling made with unleavened dough and filled with a flavored mashed potato filling. The pierogi are then cooked first in boiling water and once cooked, is transferred to a saucepan and fried in butter. Traditionally, meat, cheese, fruit and sauerkraut are also used as a filling. A favorite of mine is mashed potato flavored with sauteed onions and jalapeno peppers whcih gives it a bit of a heat without overpowering the dish. 

Potato and Jalapeno Pierogi

2 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled
1 onion, finely diced
2 large jalapeno, deseeded and finely diced
3/4 cup unsalted butter
salt and pepper
1 recipe pate brisee
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped chives

1.Prepare the pati brisee as directed in Stephanie's blog. Let it rest at room 
   temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Cook the potatoes in a large pot with water at medium heat until a fork 
    pierces it right through. Drain and run through a ricer in a large bowl.

3. Melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onions and 
    jalapeno and cook until softened. Add to the potatoes and mix well. 
    Check for flavor and season with salt and pepper. Cover with clingfilm and 
    set aside.

4. Knead the dough a couple of times on a floured surface and divide it into 
    20 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 5-6 inch disc. Fill with 2-3 tbsp 
    of the potato filling and crimp the edges to seal. 

5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and dump the pierogi in batches to 
    cook. Once it floats, spoon them out straight into a large saucepan to fry 
    in the remaining 1/4 cup butter and olive oil at medium heat. Fry them 
    on all sides until pale golden brown.

6. Once all the pierogi have been boiled and fried, transfer them to a large 
    serving platter and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and butter used to 
    fry them. Garnish with the chives.   

Salmon en Papillote

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As the name infers, this is quite a fancy way of cooking salmon. En papillote is a French method of cooking food in a pouch usually made of parchment paper. Paper bags and foil also works in this case. The idea is to keep all the moisture inside the bag which infuses the dish with both flavor and moisture. A perfect example is this salmon dish cooked in a Newberg sauce and not much else. What you get is a very delicately flavored yet perfectly cooked salmon. The sauce has a Dijon mustard base and resembles a bechamel sauce in preparation and texture. I think that if you plan to serve salmon for a party, you can definitely serve this and impress your guests. They'll never know it is quite simple to make this dish.

The recipe is adapted from my America's Country Inn cookbook and is a recipe from the Lake Quinalt Lodge in Washington state. I've made this a number of times and every single time, I'm impressed by it. I hope you will be too. 

Salmon en Papillote - Adapted*

6 salmon fillets, 5-6 oz each
salt and pepper
6 brown paper bag
2 tbsp unsalted butter
lemon, cut into wedges

Newburg Sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp + 1 tsp flour
2 tsp Dijon mustard
dash of cayenne pepper
1/c cup broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 tbsp sherry

1. Lightly season the salmon with salt and pepper and a dash of paprika. Set
    aside in the fridge

2. Melt the butter and brush the paper bag on the side where the fish will be
    laid. Preheat oven to 400°F.

3. Make the sauce by melting the unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium
    heat. Add the flour and mustard and mix well. Add the broth and stir until
    smooth. Stir in the half and half and sherry and cook for another minute.
    Season with a dash of cayenne pepper.

4. Spoon about 2 tbsp of the sauce on the buttered brown bag. Lay one
    seasoned salmon on top of the sauce and spoon another tablespoon of the
    sauce on top of it.

5. Seal the bag and bake at 12-15 minutes. To serve, break open the bag and
    garnish with wedges of lemon.

*Cole, N.M.; Cummins, M.J.: Editor, America's Country Inn Cookbook, the R.T. French company, Rochester, New York:1984. 

London Cheesecake

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London cheesecake is not what you think it means and is a bit of a misnomer. Nigella Lawson came up with this monicker as her answer to the famous New York cheesecake. However, it turned out that this innocent nod to a classic dessert would ruffle a few people's feathers. The reason being is that  a dessert also named London Cheesecake already exists. The ironic thing is that this dessert is neither made with cheese nor is it a cake. In fact, it is made with puff pastry flavored with jam and fangipane

Looking for a recipe of this elusive dessert, I came upon this post which explains the difference between Nigella's cheesecake and the real London cheesecake. However, I am making the jammed up version which uses frangipane, a common filling used in baked pastry, and apricot jam. A simple recipe of frangipane is composed of equal amounts of ground almonds, butter, sugar and eggs. However, I'm going no-egg on this version so I'm nixing the egg. 

The puff pastry I'm using is the commercial frozen ones sold in stores. It is made with vegetable oils and is 100% cholesterol free. It beats making it from scratch with real butter. The topping is a bit unusual and for an English dessert, it makes you think how they came up with grated or strings of coconut. Still, I'm very excited and I'm hoping it will not disappoint. 

London Cheesecake - Adapted*

1 package puff pastry, thawed as per packet instructions
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup unsalted butter or vegan buttery sticks
1 young coconut meat, grated

Sugar Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tbsp white rum + 2 tbsp water (or 5 tbsp milk)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In your mixer bowl, combine the butter, ground 
    almonds and sugar. Beat using a paddle attachment at medium speed 
    until it all come together. Divide into 9 equal portions.

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2. Lay the pastry sheets 
    flat on a floured 
    surface. Prick with the 
    tines of a fok and divide
    into nine squares. 
    Spread half the pastry 
    squares with one 
    portion of the almond 
    mixture and top with a 
    teaspoon of the apricot 

3. Top with the other half 
    and seal the edges. 
    Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool on a wire 

4. When the cheesecakes are cooled, combine the confectioner's sugar with 
    the rum and water in a small bowl until the sugar melts into a pourable 
    frosting. Drizzle over the cakes and top with string of young coconut 

5. Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

* London cheesecake recipe.

Napoleones ala Bacolod

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I featured Napoleones in one of my early posts since it is a very popular gift item back home. The town where I grew up was the source of the famous versions of this dessert and is highly sought after. I personally do not really care for them as much as I do cakes but there seems to be a lot of interest for this treat so I'm presenting a simple version which anyone can make in their own kitchen. 

There are only three things needed to make this dessert: baked puff pastry squares, a dollop of pastry cream and thin slices of young coconut meat. The pastry is topped with a sugar glaze and is best served either warm or chilled. Variations of this dessert are also available using mango or kiwi fruit slices instead of coconut. The pastry cream recipe is from a post of Glady from the website. I'm using the frozen puff pastry available on most grocery stores which saves me a lot of time since making your own puff pasty is quite an involved process. Young coconut meat is quite easy to find now so that is my fruit of choice for this pastry. Whatever your preference may be, I hope that you give this simple dessert a try.

Napoleones ala Bacolod

1 package frozen puff pastry
meat from 1 young coconut
1 recipe pastry cream

1. Thaw the puff pastry as per packet instructions. Preheat the oven to 

2. Cut each pastry sheet (there are 2 in a box) into 9 equal squares. Prick 
    with the tines of a fork to prevent it from overpuffing while baking in 
    the oven. 

3. Lay each square on a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until
    golden brown. Cool onto cooling racks. 

Pastry cream - Adapted*

3 cup half and half
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 1/2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat the half and half and sugar in a deep pot and bring to almost boiling 
    over medium heat. 

2. Take about 1/2 cup of the hot half and half and mix with the corn starch. 
    Return the mixture into the pot. Stir until slightly thickened. 

3. Temper the egg yolks with a few tablespoons of the half and half mixture 
    and add to the pot while stirring vigorously. Keep cooking until thick and 
    the custard coats the back of the spoon. Add the vanilla and butter and 
    mix until fully incorporated.

4. Transfer the pastry cream into a large glass bowl and cover with clingfilm 
    leaving no gap. Let cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge until 
    ready to use.

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To assemble, take about half of the chilled pastry cream and mix with the fresh coconut meat. Press down half of the baked puff pastry to create pockets. Fill with the pastry cream and coconut mixture. Top with the second batch of the baked puff pastry squares and press down slightly. Spoon a good amount of sugar glaze on top of the napoleon and set aside until ready to serve. You can chill them if you like to serve them cold. The pastry cream recipe gives you double the amount you need to make the napoleon. You can serve the extra pastry cream on the side for those who want an extra creamy sauce to their dessert. Otherwise, they are also great served with fresh berries.

Sugar Glaze:
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
3 tbsp white rum + 2 tbsp cold water (or 5 tbsp milk)

To make the glaze, mix the sugar with the rum and water and stir until it creates a pourable frosting. If a bit thick, add a little bit of water. The rum gives the glaze a mild bitter flavor so if you are worried about this, you can easily use milk.

*Glady from

Lumpiang Jicama (My Adapted Version of Lumpian Ubod)

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This recipe came about out of necessity and desperation. One of the things I loved to cook with my Mom is the Lumpiang Ubod which originally hailed from Silay City, a city about 20 minutes away from Bacolod where I was born and where I grew up. Lumpia is what we refer to as anything wrapped in a spring roll wrapper, be it fresh or fried. Ubod or palm of hearts are readily available in the our town since coconut is a major crop in the province. This sweet savory dish is almost like a crepe but is served like a salad since it is kept chilled prior to serving. The shredded palm of hearts are cooked in vinegar and is balanced by a sweet brown sauce that is flavored with freshly chopped garlic and finely chopped roasted peanuts. I actually made several versions of this dish to find that elusive taste of the original lumpia sold in Silay and we did come close to getting it right. Eating the samples were also a lot of fun so I wasn't complaining. By the fourth attempt however, the rest of the family have had enough so we stopped for a bit until we eventually got it as good as the original dish. A cousin of my Mom sells a really great version of this dish but she cooks this from memory so the chances of getting a recipe from her is close to nil. 

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Here in the US, I tried making this with canned palm of hearts but they were stored in salted water that they ended up basically falling apart during the cooking process. They also lost the crunchiness that is found in fresh palm of hearts. I then realized that the closest thing to getting the texture right is to use jicama. Jicama is the Mexican version of the turnips from back home. Here in the US, they are grown to humongous sizes and has a bland taste. The sauce takes care of the flavor though so I'm not too concerned. The wrapper is another issue. I have been making my version of this dish with rice paper since I'm wary of eating the frozen spring roll wrappers which are indeed fully cooked. I finally decided to give it a try just to see if there is a difference and if one is better than the other. As it turned out, there isn't that much difference. Both work equally well.

Lumpiang Jicama

2 lbs jicama, peeled and julienned
2 tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper
stalks of green onions (optional)

1. In a large pan, heat the oil at medium heat. Add the jicama and saute 
    until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Cook until the jicama is tender but still crunchy. Pour the jicama into 
    a large colander over a large bowl to drain any liquid. Cool to room 

Brown Sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp corn starch in 4tbsp water
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped

1. Combine all the ingredients except for the corn starch and heat in a 
    pot at medium heat until almost boiling. 

2. Add the cornstarch mixture and mix well. Cook until thickened. 
    Check for flavor and adjust with salt. Add the minced garlic and 
    allow to cool at room temperature. Add the chopped peanuts.

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To prepare the filling, combine 2/3 of the sauce with the drained jicama. If using rice paper, follow instructions on how to soften the rice paper. Once softened, lay a piece of green leaf lettuce and top with 2 tbsp of the filling and one stalk of green onion if using. Fold one edge of the wrapper over the filling and tuck the sides towards the center. Roll the lumpia away from you to seal it. Lay flat on a lined baking sheet and cover with a moist towel. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

If using the spring roll wrapper, do away with the lettuce leaf. Both should be served with the remaining brown sauce. If the sauce has cooled and coagulated, add a bit of water and warm it up until pourable.