Sunday, 30 December 2012

HOT BUTTERED CHESTNUTS


In the Philippines, new year's eve celebrations are steeped in traditions and beliefs. We welcome the new year with a bang, literally. Pyrotechnics of all sorts light the sky from dusk to dawn on new year's eve to ward off evil spirits and welcome the good ones. The noise from the fireworks is deafening almost and visibility is close to zero from all the fumes. 

The table has to be filled with food which should include 12 round ones to ensure prosperity for the next twelve months. Oranges, grapes, pomelo, watermelon, cantaloupe, star apples are sure to be included. Some not so round ones are also often included to reach the target. Chestnuts are also counted in even if it is not a fruit.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

HAM AND CHEESE TOAST CUPS


Every year I go through a vicious cycle of being relaxed for the first three quarters of the year and go for a mad rush at the last quarter. I have never learned my lesson from the Christmas pasts. It doesn't get any easier no matter how many times I've done it. 

I breathe a sigh of relief when I have managed to go through Christmas without a hitch, but only for a week. It's now time to prepare for the last hurrah of the year. I have done too much for Christmas already so I just simplify things for the New year's celebration.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

COCONUT MACAROONS


Coconut grows in abundance in the Philippines. Naturally it is used a lot as a cooking ingredient. Although mostly used fresh, dessicated coconut is also used for making sweets and desserts.

We used to make coconut macaroons every Christmas because it is delicious and very easy to make. With the use of a few simple ingredients and a few minutes, yummy little treats can be made. They are perfect for snacks and also as food gifts.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

CHRISTMAS SPICED ROAST CHICKEN


A roast is usually the center of the Christmas table. Here in England, more often than not, the roast is a turkey. 

Turkey is not the easiest bird to cook. Even chefs say so themselves. It is its size that poses a challenge even to experienced cooks. The whole bird has to be cooked throughout, be juicy and succulent and have a well browned and burnished skin. In other words, perfect.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

ROAST POTATOES


Roast potatoes are the tastiest accompaniment to any roast. There is no secret to making them; just a simple straightforward method of parboiling and roasting.

The only trick up my sleeve is light soy sauce to give it an umami boost. This simple addition takes it a notch up the tastiness scale. The flavour is undistinguishable but is enough to make a difference to the taste. Herbs or garlic may be strewn amongst the potatoes for added flavour. 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

BREAD AND FRUIT PUDDING WITH BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE


"It's the season to be jolly." Bear that in mind. 

The frenetic activity to make the season jolly sometimes wear me down so I always have to remind myself to choose the easy route. Sometimes less is  more. Less fuss, more fun.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

MINI TOAD-IN-A-HOLE WITH CRANBERRY AND ONION CHUTNEY


A Christmas table is not complete without ham, cheese and sausages. Here in England, small sausages called chipolatas are served with the Christmas turkey. They are also served with drinks and on canap├ęs.

Toad-in-a-hole is a snack or appetizer which consists of sausages baked in yorkshire pudding batter. It usually comes with a caramelized onion gravy. What could be better? 

This is one of those kind of food that is for ordinary days as well as special occasions. It is easy to make and can be made ahead and re-heated before serving. 

Monday, 10 December 2012

BACON WRAPPED EMBUTIDO


The Filipino Christmas table is always groaning with food. As part of the celebration, every one who visits is invited to a meal. It may seem a scene from nightmares to prepare a buffet for an undetermined number of guests but  Christmas in the Philippines won't be the same if not done that way.

Traditional Filipino food is always served alongside other foreign or more modern cuisine. One of the popular dishes is embutido. Aside from being delicious, it is very easy to prepare. Its festive flavours make it a Christmas favourite.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

SPICY BACON KETCHUP


We've all heard about bacon jam by now and I thought I'll never catch on with the trend. My son is an avid fan of bacon and he is relentless with the hints so I had to give it a go.

Bacon jam is new fangled condiment usually made with bacon, onions, sugar and vinegar. It is of spreadable consistency and is slathered on bread as a base for other fillings. I like that but I had an idea of adding in tomatoes for a more rounded taste. I also wanted it to be a sauce rather than a spread because sauces are more versatile. They can be used as dips and condiments as well as spreads.

Monday, 3 December 2012

CHICKEN DIABLO


When my children ask me what I'm going to make for dinner, I usually give a generic answer, as in chicken or beef or pork. I am not always prepared with a meal plan, especially in the morning (which is when the question usually pops up). 

Chicken is the usual sacrifice in my kitchen. It is the easiest to cook and no one says no to chicken. The key to making a great tasting chicken dish is to get a good quality chicken. It is very difficult to make a tasty dish out of a tasteless chicken. I feel as if I've cooked chicken a million times and they still expect something new and exciting.