Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pork Estofado

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I remember having this dish in one of the parties my Mom used to drag me to. I was probably 7 to 10 years old at that time and since then, I have had my taste of this dish every so often. I was however reminded of its existence since it seems to be a very popular dish in the City where I now live when I am working in the University during the week. Most of the social functions here serve this dish and I really fell in love with it again. The only concern I have is that it uses a fatty cut of pork meat although this can be easily remedied. I know you can prepare this using chicken but the traditional choice of meat seems to be pork. 

There is a Spanish version of this dish which uses saffron and paprika to bring the dish to life. Here in the Philippines, soy sauce is used to give it its rich brown color that is thickened with bread crumbs. I have seem traditional recipes which uses toasted bread as the thickener but the Estofado I'm familiar does away with this ingredient. No matter how you prepare this dish, I think that you will end up with one tasty dish. My version is quite simple but I like it for that reason. I hope that you will too. 

Pork Estofado

2 lbs pork butt or shoulder, sliced thinly
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup brandy
2-3 cups broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 ripe saba bananas, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp pepercorns
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
4-5 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a frying pan over medium heat, fry the banana slices until lightly 
    browned on both sides. Set aside. 

2. In the same pan, add the garlic and onions and saute until softened. 
    Season with salt and the peppercorns. Add the bay leaves and saute for 
    one more minute. 

3. Add the pork and season with salt and paprika. Add the brandy and 
    bring to a boil. Add the broth, soy sauce and vinegar and bring to a 
    boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

4. Add the sugar and continue to cook until slightly thickened. Add water if 

5. When the pork is tender, add the bread crumbs and mix well. Add more 
    water if it thickens and adjust both the flavor and texture of the sauce. 

6. Add the bananas and cook until heated through. Serve immediately.   

Maruya (Banana Fritters)

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Maruya or Banana Fritters is one of my favorite native snacks growing up in our City. I remember the times when every afternoon especially during the summer breaks, there will be vendors peddling native treats every afternoon just after lunch and before 3pm. They were cheap and delicious and freshly made just a few hours before they were packed in woven baskets and covered with fresh banana leaves. Sometimes on weekends, we would make them ourselves but as a child, I was never allowed to help but to just watch and wait until these treats were cooked and ready for consumption.

There were a few of them to choose from but one of the simpler ones is the maruya or banana fritter. Made with ripe saba bananas, this is one tasty treat that is both affordable and simple. Plantain bananas are the closest thing to a saba banana but you may want to cut it in half before slicing lengthwise.

Maruya (Banana Fritters) - Adapted*

6 ripe saba bananas (or 3 plantain bananas)
1 cup flour + extra for dredging
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
Canola oil for frying

1. Peel the bananas and slice lengthwise.

2. In a wide bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, egg, salt and milk. Mix
    well until smooth.

3. Heat enough oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dredge the bananas in
    the flour and by pairs, dunk into the batter.

4. Allow the batter to drip before adding into the hot oil. Fry until golden
    brown on both sides.

5. If desired, you can roll the warm fitters in granulated white sugar before

* Laquian, E., Sobrevinas, I., Filipino Cooking Home and Abroad, National Book Store Inc., Manila, 1977.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Non-sizzling Spicy Tofu

Copyrights 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This dish is a product of both curiosity and excitement rolled into one. My friend had been trying to find the time to meet with me for lunch and this was her agenda: Max's Sizzling Spicy Tofu. Now, as a person with gout, I try to minimize my legume consumption although tofu for some reason is not really as bad and is actually okay to eat when you have gout. My friend being a doctor gave me the thumbs up and so off we went. Both of us were really not into eating chicken that day so we started with another local dish, fresh and fried spring rolls filled with sauteed heart of palm. Our main dish for lunch however was the tofu dish. It actually took some time before it was served but boy was it worth the wait.

After I got home that day, I looked around to see if a recipe was available and there was indeed one but it did not have any exact measurements. I figured it won't be too hard to play around with since the main ingredients seemed to be just tofu, some spicy peppers and a white sauce. It was however disheartening to know that the white sauce was made from mayonnaise. I'm a big fan of mayonnaise but adding a ton of it in one dish seems perverse and defeats the purpose of why you are eating tofu in the first place. Thus, pushing any judgement aside, I went in for the kill, so to speak. A few things I did change included not using a sizzler so I pan-fried the tofu to a crisp. Also, I added less of the spicy Thai peppers and the ones that I did add were deseeded. 

Non-sizzling Spicy Tofu

2 blocks of firm tofu, sliced into eights
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup water
white pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil + more for frying
sesame oil
2 tbsp margarine
2-3 green or red Thai chile, sliced diagonally

1. Heat enough oil in a large pan over medium heat. Fry the tofu until golden
    brown on both sides. Set aside and allow to cool. 

2.  When cool enough to handle, dice the tofu into half-inch squares. Set 

3. Heat 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a wok or a wide pan over medium heat.
    Saute the garlic and onions until softened. Season with salt. Add the 
    peppers and cook for about a minute.

4. In a small bowl, mix the water, mayonnaise and oyster sauce. Add to the 
    pan and cook until simmering. Add the tofu and mix well. Add more water 
    if the sauce gets too thick.

5. Add the margarine and mix until melted. 

6. Check for flavor and season with salt and a dash or two of the white 
    pepper. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve while hot. 

Coffee Break

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Ever since I started working last June, my time has been divided into working at the university, traveling back and forth and coming home to my Dad every Friday where a lot of household chores have to be tackled and completed before I travel back to the University every Sunday morning in time for my Sunday class. It is no wonder that any respite from this schedule is totally welcome and I have to say that more often than not, it has been a short respite which includes drinking coffee with my co-teachers who have also been given the Sunday schedule or a quick coffee date with my best friends in my home town. As such, I have quite a collection of wonderful cakes that we ate during these coffee dates and I'm quite happy to share them all with you.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
First up is a sinful chocolate cake from the Coffee Break Cafe at Smallville. Yup, there is a place called Smallville in Iloilo City. Sadly, you won't find the man of steel whizzing around but the place is budding with small cafes and fancy restaurants for the younger generation. We definitely didn't have any of these growing up. I made my pick of a Devilish Chocolate Mousse if I was not mistaken (see picture above). My co-teacher Steve opted for something more healthy in the form of a carrot cake. I just needed the buzz of caffeine and sugar that day so I threw caution to the wind and ate without any trace of guilt. The cake was delicious and the coffee was really good. I would not mind going back there again. 

Last weekend, I also met up with a friend who asked me to treat her for lunch. She always treats me whenever we go out so it was the right thing to do and pay for lunch that day. We went to Max's which is a food chain in the Philippines who's specialty is crispy fried chicken. However, we were there for something else: the Sizzling Spicy Tofu. Now, I had my mini episode of gout that day but I just had to try this tofu dish and it was delicious. I had to find a recipe and I made my own version although the heat was toned down quite a bit. It may not be as good but it was still delicious. Maybe I should invest in a sizzler plate when my kitchen renovation is complete.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
After our lunch, we went for coffee and ice cream at Cafe Bob's, a local burger joint/restaurant in my hometown which has been a favorite hangout place of me and my Mom ever since I was little. My friend went for her favorite gelato while I ordered a double chocolate mousse cake. Do you see the trend here with regards to my preference for mousse cakes? Once again, the cake was delicious and fed three of us after another friend of ours joined us for coffee. Their coffee is always good so I was not surprised. I actually came back there last weekend but totally forgot to take pictures of their Black Forest cake and their Mango Pavlova. Now, those were two delicious cakes. Yum! Speaking of which, maybe I should try making my own version of Mango Pavlova for my nephew's birthday this weekend. That might be a really wonderful idea. I'll keep you guys posted. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Native Treats

I have to confess my new guilty pleasures. They are sweet, sticky and oh so good to the last bite. I'm talking about the native treats being sold in the local market here in Miagao. I see them all the time being sold on the side of the streets in my local grocery store back in Bacolod and this weekend, I found them in the market here in Miagao where I live during the week. I was actually looking for avocados but I guess they are past their season now so I came up empty handed. That was until I found a couple of ladies selling these delicacies in front of the market. I bought a couple of samples and found them to be delicious. I ended up buying a ton of them for the office today and boy was it good. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
First up is one of my favorites, the Bayi-bayi. This treat is quite popular in the Visayas region which includes my hometown and the place where I now work. This treat is made from toasted ground sticky rice or corn. The process of making the treat involves pounding the rice or corn with coconut meat and brown sugar until you obtain a sticky mass that holds its shape when pressed together with your hands. More coconut meat is added until the desired texture is obtained. A downside to this treat is that is goes bad quite quickly due to the fresh coconut that was added. Good thing this treat is so yummy it almost always disappears before you have to worry about it going bad. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Second on the list is the Puto Lanson. This treat was sold every afternoon by vendors roaming our subdivision when I was growing up in Bacolod City. We would await the sound of the vendor shouting "puto-lanson" in the middle of the day and me and my cousins will be at the gate waiting for my Mom to buy us these freshly steamed snack. The main ingredient is grated cassava mixed with coconut strings, sugar and coconut milk. Sometimes eggs are added but the simpler ones rely on the stickiness of the cassava flour to hold the cake together. They are usually steamed in small round tin pans until they are cooked and can hold their own shape. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Next in line is something that is new to me actually. I've never tasted one before and I will give it the name, Ube (Taro) Cake since it was made in the same vein as a rice cake. I assume that given its similarity to the rice cake, this treat is made from ube or taro flour, coconut milk, grated coconut meat, brown sugar and eggs. This purple treat is steamed and topped with more grated coconut. It was yummy although a bit dense in terms of texture. If I had to choose between an ube cake and a rice cake, I think I'll settle for the latter. This cake albeit delicious is just a bit too "heavy" for my taste. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The fourth treat in my list of guilty pleasures is the Alupe. This treat is traditionally made with ground cassava, brown sugar, coconut milk and bits of coconut strings wrapped in a banana leaf before steaming. This version however was made with ground rice. The lady who sold them to me was quite proud to inform me that this version is better than the traditional one. I do agree with her but I have to say that given the choice between the rice or the cassava version, I might go for both. To me, they are equally delicious. Besides, why settle on one when you can have two equally wonderful treats. Really! 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
And now, the last but not least, the Suman. This traditional treat spans the whole country and is perhaps the easiest to make of the whole bunch. The method of cooking this treat involves soaking the sticky rice in coconut milk while the brown sugar is cooked in more coconut milk until a brown sugar syrup is obtained. The rice together with the coconut milk is added into the syrup and cooked until the rice is just perfectly cooked. They are usually served topped with a "latik" topping which is basically curds from the coconut milk. This is obtained by cooking the coconut milk over high heat until the curds start to form and slowly turn golden brown. Just skim them off with a slotted spoon and set them aside until needed.

As such, I better stop here. There are actually more traditional treats that I can present but these were the five that I bought today. The list can go one for a bit but they will have to wait their turn. For now, my cravings have been sated and I look forward to having some more of these treats later today during my coffee break.