Alabang Saturday Farmers Market

Earlier this month, I took a break and went to Manila for a change.  I came down specifically to attend my high school reunion in Colegio San Agustin, Makati. The same time spend some time with my batchmates who I have not seen for 24 years. Yes, 24 years. It was a great feeling.  It took me back in time.

I would also like to thank Candy for personally inviting me over and opening her home for me for a couple of days.  Truly grateful and will never forget her kindness.  This was taken the morning of August 10th 2013, she took me to Alabang Saturday Farmers Market for a brunch.

I love weekend markets. They have been a homemaker alternative palenke (market).  You will find the freshest harvest, newly-caught fish, crustaceans and innovative food stuff that ranges from alternative Filipino dishes with a twist to a variety of breads, cakes and pastries.  Yes, even suman and puto.  Oh, one more thing – Lebanese food.  I got myself a Shawarma and the guy even knows my family.

Considering the area, they all come at a considerably lower price.  It’s a quite farmers market, not crowded as the one in Makati. If you are based in Manila or planning to visit one day, come and check them out.

Sibid-Sibid Restaurant

After Cagsawa Ruins, me and my niece ventured out to Sibid-Sibid Restaurant located at Bonot, Legazpi City. Sibid-Sibid is a full service restaurant that serves seafoods and traditional pinoy dishes at very reasonable prices. Love the ambiance of the place built by local fishermen.

We had fresh coconut, Bicol Express Seafood, Pancit Seafood Canton, Sizzling Seafood Plate and Garlic Rice…Yummy!

The best seafood restaurant in Legaspi!

Fish Bicol Express Recipe

meat of one pampano or large besugo, chopped
2 green siling haba (finger chilis)
4 cloves of Philippine garlic (or any small, strong variety)
1/2 tbsp ginger
black pepper
2 tbsp. calamansi (Philippine lemon)juice
2 tablespoons bagoong (Filipino shrimp paste)
1 crushed Philippine siling labuyo (or Thai bird chili)
1 bulb lemongrass
2 cups thick coconut milk
pinch of turmeric
sea salt to taste

preparation

Remove seeds from siling haba, cut into rings, and soak in water. Set aside.

Mix garlic, ginger, black pepper, calamansi juice, bagoong, siling labuyo, crushed lemongrass bulb, and 1 cup of coconut milk in a pot. Heat for a minute and add fish. Stir constantly to avoid curdled coconut milk.

When fish is half-cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk, turmeric. Simmer til cooked.

Season with salt and pepper if needed, and mix in siling haba.

Read More: Fish Bicol Express

“Bignay Wine” – Tropical Sweet Wine

Guess what I found!

Don Ramon Bignay, a tropical sweet wine, from Naga Camarines Sur. Found this wine the other day while strolling in the Naga City market.

Bignay or Antidesma bunius is a sour edible fruit but often neglected because of its small size. The fruits come in bunches like grapes but this bignay has the size of a toy pellet gun bullet. The seeds are big in proportion to fruit size. The popular product for Bignay is wine. Jam and juice can also be made out of bignay. Added to dish as flavorings. Young leaves can be eaten together with rice. The bark contains a toxic alkaloid. The heavy fragrance of the flowers, especially the male, is very obnoxious to some individuals. The bark yields a strong fiber for rope and cordage.The timber is reddish and hard. If soaked in water, it becomes heavy and, according to Drury, “black as iron”. It has been experimentally pulped for making cardboard.The leaves are sudorific and employed in treating snakebite, in Asia.

The fruit has been used to treat such ailments as dysentery, diabetes, gastric intestinal problems and indigestion to name a few. The potent antioxidant properties of these compounds cannot be explained alone by the presence of vitamins, minerals or fiber content. These plant compounds which help protect the fruit against its environment have numerous health benefits to humans. The most prevalent of these compounds in bignay fruit are a group of flavonoids in the sub-class known as catechins, identified as procyanidin B1 and B2. Catechins, also found in red wine and dark chocolate, have antioxidant properties and are free radical scavengers, meaning they help prevent free radical damage to DNA. This means that catechins are anti-carcinogenic and anti-aging  They can also help protect us against cardiovascular diseases.

By the way, the fruit tree is also found in Florida introduced by Philippines during the earlier part of the century.

How to make Bignay Wine?

1. Extract the juice by mashing or crushing. Filter or strain the juice to remove any solid particles. Add 200-300 ppm sodium or potassium metabusulfite to prevent contamination and browning. Place the treated juice in a sealed container and keep it for 24 hours. In case the metabisulfite solution is not available, simply boil the juice.

2. Before fermenting, test the acid and sugar contents of the treated juicer or must. for testing acid content, use pH paper. To produce dry wines, set pH at 3-4. For sweet wines, use pH 3.5-5.5. Adjust pH with juice or citrus or unripe fruit, or dilute with water.

To test sugar content, use the hand refractometer. A reading of 20 oB is good for dry wine and 25oB for sweet wine.

3. Add yeast to the must. Commercial dry-wine yeast starters can be used, but good results can be obtained with pure cultures of wine yeast in agar slants. Fleischman’s or baker’s yeast can be used, but it imparts a “bready” aroma and flavor to the wine.

4. Stir the mixture thoroughly and transfer it to fermentation containers. Enamel, floss, wooden oak, earthenware, and plastic containers are suitable for wine making. Wide-necked vessels are preferable for pulp-fermentation to facilitate removal of pulp and cleaning. Narrow-necked containers are best suited for juice fermentation and storage, since they can be sealed easily with a lock or rubber bung.

5. Seal the fermentation container with a water valve or water bung. When bubbles form, it means that fermentation is going on. The rate at which gas bubbles through the bung indicates the rate of fermentation.
Do not allow the temperature to drop below 19oC or exceed 28oC.

6. After four or more weeks, the absence of gas indicates the end of the fermentation.

7. Siphon the clear liquid into sterile bottles or oak barrels. In moving the jar, be careful not disturb the sediment. Fill the bottle or barrel with semi-clear wine 1.5-2.5 cm below the cover, so that only a minimum amount of air is allowed inside.

8. Age the wine for one year or longer. Longer aging results in more mature and mellow wines. If sediments form, transfer wine into another bottle.

9. after aging, the wine should be clear. When it is not, use clarifying agents, such as egg whites, gelatin, milk, bentonite or powdered charcoal. Add and stir the agent. Let it stand for 7-10 days, and filter the wine into clean, properly sterilized bottles. Seal bottles with cork.

10. Store wine with drive-corks in horizontal position. Place the bottles in a cool, well-ventilated, and dark place.

Source: Pinoy Food Recap

The Red Apron Food Blog

The Red Apron.

Gghie, my sister-in-law, wants to say thank you everyone for all the help naming her blog [previous post]. She finally chose “The Red Apron.” She wanted Daily Delights from Lance’s comment but there were many blogs with that name. She found all of them cute but finally settled with The Red Apron.

She is a Mom of two beautiful children and a wife to a great husband, my brother, who loves anything she feeds him. Owns Dulceria Maria, a Filipino pastry business based in Novi Michigan. She is not a chef but loves to cook on a pauper’s budget!

Please click the above link “The Red Apron.”

Thank you once again…from Gghie

My family 😉

Can you please help my sister-in-law name her new food blogg?

Hello Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been bugging my sister-in-law to start a food blogg.

She is based in Novi Michigan together with my brother and their two lovely children.

She cannot decide what name to give her new food blogg.

To all my followers, can you please give me suggestions what to name her new blogg.

Please………………………….

Tabbouleh Salad

Recalling my childhood family gatherings, I remember every time we have a celebration like birthdays, holidays and get together with friends and relatives. My mother would never miss the Tabbouleh Salad. Never ever ever ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! According to my mother, the Tabbouleh Salad is for our Lebanese Heritage while the 4-7 other dishes are for our Filipino Heritage. LOL!

I remember seeing Sinigang, Barbecue, A Big Big Fish (I called it Lapu-Lapu), Crabs, Pancit or Palabok, and Chicken or Pork Adobo. Oh, forgot the dessert Leche Flan…Then, you will see all Filipino dishes huddled together just like in the picture and that one out of place dish in the very end of the table seated just right beside my Lebanese-Palestinian dad “The Tabbouleh Salad…”

Memories………

Cast of Characters:

  • 1 cup medium Bulgar Wheat (#2)
  • 2 -3 bunches parsley, stemmed and chopped, depending on size
  • 1 -2 bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, depending on size, more to taste
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped
  • 4 -5 ripe firm tomotoes, partially seeded and chopped
  • 3 -5 lemons, juice of , to taste
  • ½ cup extra olive oil, to taste
  • salt & fresh ground pepper

The Plot:

  • This recipe is a breeze if you have a food processor, a little more work if you don’t but my mother would prefer to do it the harder way (more authentic according to her)
  • If using a processor, chop parsley and mint together, using a pulsing action, to ensure that you don’t end up pureeing them, and remove to a bowl.
  • Repeat with green onions, and add it bowl.
  • Chop tomatoes, preferably by hand, into about 1/4″ dice, and add to bowl.
  • If you are making this for company, you might want to chop everything by hand.
  • It makes a much prettier dish than when made in the processor, but I never bother when it is for personal consumption; I just take a little care when using the processor.
  • Wash bulghur thoroughly, drain, and soak in fresh hot water for about 1 hour.
  • Drain and squeeze as dry as possible, and combine with vegetables.
  • Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss thoroughly.
  • You can be quite generous with the pepper.
  • Refrigerate for about an hour, taste, and adjust salt and pepper.

Ma’amoul- Middle Eastern Cookies with Pistachios, Dates and Walnuts Fillings

Ma’amoul are small shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios and walnuts; sometimes almonds and Figs. They may be in the shape of balls or of domed or flattened cookies. They can either be decorated by hand or be made in special wooden molds.

My grandmother shared Ma’amoul cookie recipe to her children; daughter-in-laws and to my mother. Then, my mother shared the recipe to her daughters including me. Not a cook nor a baker but my sister does make it every holiday especially Christmas and she also, takes in orders to give as gifts. My family embraced the Filipino way of living while very little of the Middle Eastern culture except through food such as the cookie Ma’amoul. My mom said to keep it a secret as advised by my grandmother but with internet, you can pretty much get the recipe that way. One way to celebrate a heritage left and given by my grandmother through a cookie called Ma’amoul.

The Cast of Characters:

For the dough

  • 850g semolina or about 5.5 cups
  • 200g of ferkha (farina or potato starch) or about 1.5 cups
  • 450g of butter, melted
  • 250ml or 1 cup of orange blossom water
  • 200g of caster sugar or 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon mahlab or fenugreek
  • 3 maamoul molds (oval for pistachios, circle for walnuts and the one that resembles the sun for dates)
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Walnut Filling

  • 200g walnuts (about 2 cups)
  • 80g of sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water

Pistachio Filling

  • 200g pistachios (about 2 cups)
  • 80g of sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water

Date Filling

  • 250g dates, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 50g of walnuts (about 1/2 cup

STEPS

  • Mix the semolina, farina, mahlab, sugar and butter together.
  • Now slowly add the orange blossom water a tablespoon at a time, kneading and working it into a soft sticky dough. It’s not supposed to stick to your fingers though. Cover the dough and let it sit 2 hours.
  • Knead dough one more time and then divide the dough into three even quantities.
  • Roll out each third into a long thin rod like form. Each third will be used for a filling.
  • Pinch off small lumps off the dough, pinched off about 1 inch pieces. Using the palm of your hand flatten the dough and make sure it is quite thin but not too thin that it will tear.
  • Place the flatten dough into the mold of choice and add the filling associated to that mold, gently pressing down and make sure it’s quite compact. Don’t exert too much pressure as you don’t want to tear the dough. You can use the mold you like for the filling you like but traditionally these molds and their designs have been used as standards so that one can determine the filling.

  •  Bring the edges together and seal well. Now pinch off any excess dough, gently remove from the mold and roll into a ball.
  • Dip the ball in farina and then press into the mold. Release by tapping the mold on the table to remove the ma’amoul cookie.
  • Your ma’amoul cookie should look like the below, clearly stamped with the design. Dust a baking tray with semolina or farina and bake in a preheated oven 400F/200C/6G until the sides are slightly pinkish in color. It will vary depending on oven. It took me about 20 mn. Leave aside to cool then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

There are also two different ways to make these cookies. Others like to add the filling using the mold because they found it to yield more consistent results. However, you could just flatten the dough in the palm of your hand while making a hole in the paste then stuff it with the filling, seal the edges, roll it into a ball then finally press it into the molds for shape. And if you don’t have the molds, you could just use a fork to create design of choice that will differentiate the cookies from each other depending on filling.

Ma’amoul cookies with the date filling are not sprinkled with powdered sugar but it’s up to you. My sister sprinkles it with powdered sugar. Baking time will vary but Ma’amoul should spend the least time in the oven to avoid the drying. Therefore a hot oven is important to keeping their baking time short.

Ma’amoul cookies will keep, unrefrigerated but well sealed for up to one month, if they last longer than a day.