Friday, 30 December 2011


As always, the holidays has been a whirl. After all the preparations, it is only half gone. Now we have to welcome the new year with a blast. I know everyone's already tired so nice food made with the minimum effort is probably the best thing to make.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I know that we are all fastidious about stocking up for Christmas. It is better to have extra food than be caught unaware when unexpected guests pop around. The downside is that we end up with a lot of Christmas leftovers. I don't like wasting anything so I freeze whatever can be frozen. 

 We always have roast turkey and trimmings every Christmas. English roast turkey is a bit different from the American one. The forcemeat stuffing is made with sausagemeat. It is stuffed on the neck end of the turkey and the rest made into balls and cooked separately. Traditionally served with this are chipolatas (mini sausages) wrapped in bacon. My favourite way of rehashing the turkey dinner is by making potted meat. The chipolatas, stuffing and the turkey put together results to a fantastic meat spread. Any cooked meat can be made into potted meat. Throw in some ham and cooked bacon to give it a more interesting taste. It goes so well on crackers or bruschetta, on its own or with some relish or chutneys on the side. Fill little pots or pastry cases to make individual portions to include in your cheese platter. 

Eating leftovers need not be a drag. Inventive remakes may make you even look forward to it.


1/4 c. butter
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped
2 c. of chopped cooked meat (any meat or meat combination)
2 tbsps. marsala wine, sherry or brandy
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg
1/4 c. cream cheese
clarified butter
herbs for decoration

Sauté  the garlic and onions on low heat in the 1/4 c. butter until the onions are translucent. 

Add the meat and the marsala wine, dry sherry or brandy. Sauté for about 4 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the black pepper and nutmeg and season to taste with salt. 

Transfer to a food processor, add the cream cheese and puree until smooth.

Transfer to a container or several small containers. Garnish with a sprig of herbs (I also added dried cranberries for colour) on top and spoon in some clarified butter. This may be refrigerated or frozen.

To clarify butter: Melt butter in a microwave. Skim off the clear oil that floats on top on use to top the potted meat. Discard the milky liquid.

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Monday, 26 December 2011


Now that Christmas is over, we look forward to celebrating the coming of the new year. In the Philippines, it is again a very big celebration. We are very superstitious folks and we believe in beckoning luck through observing certain rituals. As with Christmas, the table is groaning with food on new year's eve. We call the new year's eve meal Media Noche which simply means midnight. A table full of food on new year's eve is believed to bring abundance throughout the following year. Twelve kinds of round shaped fruits should be on the table to bring prosperity for the next twelve months. Noodles are also served for long life. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Bûche de noël is a traditional Christmas French dessert which originated from the Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On this shortest day of the year, they would search for a large trunk of oak, beech, elm or cherry and burn it as a symbol of the rebirth of the sun. In the middle ages the youngest and oldest member of the family would carry a decorated log to the hearth and set it alight. This was believed to protect the family from illnesses and evil spirits.

Through time the tradition evolved to serving a log shaped dessert made of sponge and buttercream. Any type of sponge or frosting and filling can be used but it usually is chocolate to make the log more realistic in colour. 

I chose a simple sponge roll adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe of bûche de noël, but omitted the walnuts. I chose to fill mine with chestnut buttercream because chestnuts is just one of those ingredients that spells Christmas. A rich chocolate truffle icing enrobes the log. 

This is actually an easy recipe that can be made ahead and would serve at least 12. 

Ingredients for the sponge:

1 c. plain flour
2 tbsps. corn flour
1/4 c. of cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
5 eggs, separated
3/4 c. caster sugar
3 tbsps. marsala

Pre-heat the oven to 350° F/180° C. Line a 10 1/2" x 14 1/2" Swiss roll tin with baking paper, making sure that the paper is higher than the sides.

Sift the flour, corn flour, cocoa, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. 

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then add half the amount of sugar and whisk again until glossy.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until light and fluffy.

Sift the flour mixture over the egg yolks, then fold in. Add the egg whites and fold in gently.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes or until the top is springy.

While still warm invert into a sheet of baking paper. Brush with the marsala.

Cut a 2" wide strip from one narrow end and divide this strip in half. This will form the stumps on the log. 

Roll the large piece of sponge along the long side, with the baking paper inside it. Secure with rubber bands. 

Do the same with the 2 pieces of sponge but rolling from the narrow side. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying.

Set aside while you prepare the chestnut filling and chocolate icing.

Ingredients for the chestnut buttercream:

1/2 c. of slightly salted butter (such as Lurpak)
1 1/3 c. of unsweetened chestnut puree
1 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Whisk the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and the chestnut puree while whisking until well combined. 

Ingredients for the  chocolate icing:

300 mls. double cream
1 c. castor sugar
275 gms. of good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped

Put the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Put the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat, then add to the chopped chocolate. Stir until melted and leave to cool. When cooled, whisk until light and fluffy.

For the leaf decorations:

35 gms white chocolate, chopped
35 gms. of dark chocolate, chopped
holly leaves, washed and dried

Melt the chocolate separately in a microwave on low heat. Take out every few minutes to stir. When there's only a few solids left, just stir and there would be enough heat in the bowl to completely melt it. 

With a teaspoon, dab a little bit of dark and white chocolate on the underside of a holly leaf. Use a cocktail stick to spread while gently swirling to make a marbled effect. 

Clean the excess chocolate from the other side of the leaf so that it is easier to peel off when the chocolate sets. 

Arrange on a baking tray and freeze until ready to use. Gently peel off the leaves before using.


Unroll the sponge and spread the chestnut buttercream on it. Re-roll tightly. 

Do the same with the 2 small pieces of sponge. Cut off a diagonal piece from each small piece of roll to make slanted ends.  

Line your serving dish or tray with strips of baking paper along the edges to keep the dish clean while you frost the cake. Lay the long piece of sponge in the middle and cover with chocolate icing. Drag a fork lengthwise to make patterns to resemble the grains of wood. 

Stick the two small pieces with the slanted end on the cake and cover with icing. Do the woodgrain pattern again. 

Decorate with the chocolate holly leaves or with whatever decoration you want.

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Please support Adora's Box by making your and (use the code STMMMS55174) purchases from this site. Click on their respective banners to proceed to their websites. It will not cost you a single cent more but will help sustain this blog. Thank you.

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Thanks for dropping by. It would be nice if we could meet up on FACEBOOK or TWITTER

Monday, 19 December 2011


Smoked salmon and gravlax are the favourite festive appetizers that make life a little easier for the host or hostess. Although making smoked salmon is best left for the experts, gravlax (gravad lax or lox) can be made at home quite easily. In the Scandinavian language, grav means "grave" or "to dig" and lax means "salmon". This word was coined because the fishermen used to salt salmon before burying them in the sand to ferment.

Saturday, 17 December 2011


It is that time of the month again when we, at the Kulinarya Cooking Club, get to celebrate our Filipino cuisine by having a virtual potluck of our beloved dishes. This month's theme is special not just because of Christmas but because we get to present a special dish that we usually cook for Noche buena. Noche buena is an old tradition of having a special family meal after the midnight mass on Christmas eve. This brings so much nostalgia, especially for those of us who are away from home, to remember the special food that we eat, while surrounded by all our loved ones, at Christmas time. 

It gives me pleasure to bring to our potluck a rellenong manok. Relleno is a Spanish word meaning stuffed or filled and manok is a Tagalog word that means chicken. Dishes that are painstakingly tedious to prepare are usually cooked at Christmas because that goes to show how special the occasion is. My favourite ingredient, the chorizo is what gives this relleno its richness and smoky taste. I think chorizo gives any dish that instant lift. Sausagemeat, pork and spices are usually in the stuffing mix used to fill a whole deboned chicken. I've added dried cranberries to my stuffing for a Christmassy twist.

In our family, noche buena is moved forward to dinner time because we attend the early morning Christmas mass. All the special Christmas dishes are eaten at this meal and all throughout Christmas day. Mealtime becomes a blur on Christmas day as it is all day feasting as we open our doors to family and friends. A breakfast buffet of ham, queso de bola (edam cheese), hot dogs (we love hot dogs), spaghetti, bread and hot cocoa is set as early as 8:00 a.m. This then changes to a lunch buffet at around 11:30 a.m. Aside from rellenong manok, the special dishes we usually eat at noche buena and Christmas day are arroz valenciana, hamonado, everlasting, waknatoy and estofado. There's also salads and cakes for desserts.

Ingredients for the roast chicken:

1 medium whole free-range chicken
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
extra softened butter for greasing
2 hardboiled eggs
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 stick of celery, sliced
1 tbsp. light soy sauce plus 1 tbsp. honey for glazing

Ingredients for the stuffing:

2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsps. butter
1 c. breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tbsps. flour
300 gms. fresh pork sausagemeat
2 chorizo, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/4 c. sultanas
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/3 c. grated processed cheese
1/4 tsp. pepper
salt to taste
2 tsps. sugar


You can ask your butcher to debone your chicken. If you want to do it yourself, just follow these steps. I actually cut the chicken at the back instead of deboning it through the body cavity. This is so much easier than deboning the chicken whole, with just the hole in the cavity as the access. 

Cut a slit through the center of the back of the chicken. While keeping a sharp knife close to the bone, cut away the meat from the chicken. When you've reached the thighs, cut at the joint. Debone the thigh but leave the leg bones intact. This will keep the chicken's shape. Lay out the chicken and season with soy sauce, lemon and pepper and set aside while you prepare the stuffing. 

For the stuffing, put the garlic and onion in a bowl, add 3 tbsps. of butter and microwave for 3 minutes. Take out of the microwave, and add in the breadcrumbs and mix. In another bowl, put in the rest of the stuffing ingredients except for the boiled eggs. Add in the breadcrumb mixture and mix very well. Put a spoonful of the mixture in a small bowl and microwave. Taste and correct the seasonings if needed. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 325° F/ 170° C. 

Lay the chicken on a tray and spread the stuffing on top of it. Lay the boiled eggs in the middle, lined up vertically.

Take both cut edges of the chicken and make them meet in the middle. Sew up the joint. Use a bright coloured thread so you can easily spot it when it's time to take it off. Mould the chicken back into shape so it looks like a whole chicken again. Tie the legs up and tuck the wings in. 

Smear the softened butter all over a big sheet of foil. Lay the chicken, seam side down. 

Wrap The chicken and crimp the edges tightly.

Put the sliced onion, sliced carrot and sliced celery on a roasting pan then add water. Lay a roasting rack on the pan. Do not let the water touch the rack. This will make the chicken roast in moist gentle heat. Roast for 1 hour. 

After an hour, take the roasting pan out of the oven. Using tongs, open the packet carefully and snip the foil around the chicken. Baste the chicken with the drippings. 

Return the pan to the oven and increase the heat to 350° F/ 180° C and roast for another 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is evenly browned. The chicken should be firm to the touch. Take out of the oven and transfer to a serving dish. 

Save the pan drippings for the gravy. Brush the chicken with the soy sauce and honey glaze. Leave to rest and cool. Take the sewing thread off before slicing.


4 tbsps. butter
2 1/2 tbsps. flour
strained pan drippings plus chicken stock to make 3 cups of liquid
2 tbsps. evaporated milk

Heat up 3 tbsps. of butter in a pan. Blend in the flour and cook on medium heat until the flour becomes golden in colour. 

Take off the heat while you add the stock gradually while stirring with a whisk to incorporate. 

Return to the heat and bring to a boil while still stirring. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the milk and the last tbsp. of butter. 

Take off the heat and transfer to a gravy boat. Serve with the chicken.

The noche buena is such an integral part of the Filipino Christmas that there is a Tagalog Christmas carol dedicated wholly to it. If you are wondering what the lyrics mean, its all about the food eaten at the noche buena.

Thank you to our gracious hosts this month: Joy of Gastronomy by Joy and She of Señorita Sisa. Visit the other member's blogs to see their noche buena dishes. 

All rights reserved ©Adora's Box Copyright 2011

Please support Adora's Box by making your and (use the code STMMMS55174) purchases from this site. Click on their respective banners to proceed to their websites. It will not cost you a single cent more but will help sustain this blog. Thank you.

You might also like
Fely's Estofado
Arroz Valenciana
Thanks for dropping by. It would be nice if we could meet up on FACEBOOK or TWITTER

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Come Christmas, an assortment of desserts at the end of the meal provide a fitting finale to the celebratory meal. Although we are spoilt for choice with the assortment of desserts at the supermarkets, nothing is nicer than a homemade one. I always prepare a few contrasting desserts to suit everyone's taste. This one would be a great alternative to mince pies. It is easy, can be done the previous day and the kids can help make it.

We all love crispy crust on pies but sometimes that doesn't happen when there is a juicy fruit in the filling. Baking blind helps to give the crust a crispy start but I did not want to bake 12 little pastry cases blind so I pre-cooked the filling instead. I thought that filling the pastry with a thick filling rather than a wet mixture would prevent that soggy pie bottom. That did work out quite well. The pastry came out perfectly crisp and flaky.

They were delicious, too, by the way. How can you go wrong with apples, caramel and pecan. The pastry tasted good too as it had cream cheese in it.

Ingredients for the crust:

1 cup flour
1/2 c. butter, cut into cubes
1/2 c. cream cheese (4 oz.)
1 egg yolk plus 1 tbsps. milk for glazing

Pulse the flour and butter in a food processor until the butter pieces are pea sized. Add the cream cheese and pulse again until the dough clumps together into a ball. Wrap the pastry dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 1/4 cm. thickness. Cut into 12 rounds and line  a 12-hole muffin tin. Crease the pastry to fit the muffin holes. This will make a nice rustic look to the pies. Cut out decorative shapes with the rest of the pastry. You can also make a lattice top crust. 

Fill the pastry cases 2/3 full with the cooled filling. Top with the cut-out pastry shapes but leave gaps for the steam to escape. Brush pastry tops with the egg yolk glaze. 

Bake at 350° F/ 180° C for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 300° F/ 150° C and cook for a further 20 minutes. Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes before taking out of the molds.

Ingredients for the filling:

1/2 c. condensed milk
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. corn flour
3 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced thinly
1 egg
6 tbsps. butter
1/2 c. roughly chopped pecans

In a pan, mix the corn flour and brown sugar together until well combined. Whisk in the condensed milk and egg. Put the pan on low heat and add the apples and butter. Stir constantly until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add the pecans. Take off the heat and leave to cool before filling the pastry cases.

All rights reserved ©Adora's Box Copyright 2011

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Monday, 12 December 2011


The Christmas celebration in the Philippines is long and elaborate . Being predominantly Catholic, the festivities revolve around the religious significance of the occasion. Family and friends all join in to celebrate together. What better way is there to celebrate than with food.

Friday, 9 December 2011


I come from the town of Marikina in the Philippines and so did my forebears. In fact, I can not trace any root other than this place. It is well known as the shoe capital of the Philippines. A new addition to the list of things to see in my town is the Shoe Museum which houses Madam Imelda Marcos' famous collection of shoes, some of which were made there.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Any food in edible vessels are pretty cool. They sell nifty pastry spoons for appetizers at the supermarkets. Just for fun (or self torture, more like) I made some just to see if it is do-able at home. It definitely is. They are a bit rustic looking but I'm sure daintier hands can make them better.