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More Chips and Trips!

 Continue to follow my eating adventures on chipsandtrips.tumblr.com/.

Deathly Chips

This is Chef A's chicharon aleta.  Very thinly sliced pork that is breaded and deep fried.  A favorite at gatherings but soon enough will have to come with a dose of Lipitor...  

My All-time Favorite Fruit

I love strawberries.  The fresh kinds as I'm not into the various preserved versions.  I love them even more with chocolate and cream.  Pictured here with an almond brownie that R brought home from Davao and r who refused to get out of the frame.

Comfort Food

 This is the only halo-halo that I like and it ALWAYS hits the spot.  

I go through phases when I have it at least once a week, then I have to stop lest I get tired of it.  Along the way, I discovered that Razon's has a lot of other yummy stuff we now constantly go back for.  Top pics are their sisig and homestyle hamburger (sorry, no pic of this yet) which is just like the soy sauce-marinated burgers that many of us grew up eating at home.

Pantry Loading

Thanks to traveling family and friends, we keep a steady supply of our favorite food items.  Ya Kun Kaya from Singapore, Horlicks and Aik Cheong Teh Tarik from Malaysia, Vanilla Bean paste from Australia, Reese's Peanut Butter Chips from the US (safely stashed away in the fridge), etc.  However, local supermarkets already carry a wide range of international products so you don't have to go far to get good chorizo (that won't cost an arm and a leg like El Rey), seaweed, Japanese sauces, pasta, etc.  Eating out is a greater challenge now because we'll only pay for things that we can't or are too difficult to replicate in our kitchen.  That's why KFC will always have a place in our hearts.

Orange Cake Attempt #1

I put a zester on my wishlist last year and received a great one from S.  When I mused about what I could bake with it, she immediately said orange cake!  Here's the one she adores from Bellini's.

We learned somewhere that it's called Torta di Arancia and R searched the internet for a recipe.  Only one was in English!  We tried it anyway (and finally took my cathedral pan out of storage) and were quite happy with the results.  We've always had a thing for orange-flavored desserts and this one did not disappoint in terms of flavor.  The cake was very similar to a pound cake so it was considerably heavier than Bellini's, which is more butter cake-like.

This version then (with some modifications) will now be referred to as A's orange cake, while the quest to approximate Bellini's continues!

Why Llaneras are Shallow

The cupcakes I did a couple of months back left me with a lot of egg yolks.  I wasn't in the mood to make vanilla custard and since I was already in an experimenting phase, I figured I'd try something new again.  Leche flan.  I found a simple recipe in an old cookbook and Market Manila had very thorough posts about his own leche flan experiments that I had a fair idea of what to do.  I opted to use a bain marie in the oven that was still fired up from baking the cupcakes as I have always been intimidated by the pressure cooker.  Instead of the usual oval-shaped llanera, I took out the trusty Selecta can that my mom has always used for making leche flan. 

So I prepared the batter and the bain marie.  Instead of lime or lemon juice, I tried orange.  Again, a surplus ingredient from the cupcakes.  Into the oven it went and I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  For some reason, it took much longer to set than the 30 minutes indicated on the recipe.  After almost an hour, R said it should be done.  So even if I wasn't entirely convinced (the flan somehow didn't look quite right), I took the can out of the oven and unmolded the flan into a glass serving dish.  As I turned the can over, I heard a loud splat!  Under his breathe, R muttered uh oh

My flan dismounted out of the can and ended up in a bit of a heap.  The top had a nice caramel color and emitted a sweet orange scent.  The flan was soft but not mushy, something like a firm creme brulee.  I love orange-flavored desserts and I used enough juice for the flavor to be distinct.  Looks aside, I was quite happy with how my first attempt at leche flan came out.  All I have to do now is make it look better so r will eat it.  Right now, he say's he prefers Mita's because her flan it prettier.

Remnants of Lunch

 I was in Kuala Lumpur for work last week and decided to take a few days off for a side trip to Singapore on the way home.  P moved to Sing a few months ago and I was eager to see her and what her new home looked like.  The only other time I had ever been to Singapore was more than 10 years ago when I wasn't very adventurous with food yet.  So aside from visiting P, I was excited about eating my way through the weekend.

R and I took the last flight out of KL and settled into P's condo at around 9pm and were quite hungry by then.  So hungry that we forgot to take photos of an absolutely delicious dinner at Boon Tong Kee of steamed chicken, tofu in hotpot, imperial pork and chicken rice.  I'll be back there someday if only to take photos to properly document and share the experience (excuses, excuses).  

We did a little better the next day, remembering to take out the camera before completely polishing off the dimsum at Yum Cha in Chinatown.  P calls it a hole-in-the-wall but the nearly SG$20/person that it came out to didn't strike us as so.  In any case, we loved it  for its wide selection of delicious dimsum --- over 70 according to the website and a relief for me whose options are usually limited by a seafood allergy to chicken feet and spare ribs.  We had everything from the usual steamed spare ribs to mushroom dumplings (chopped mushrooms and vegetables wrapped in glutinous rice similar to a mochi) to siao long bao (siomai with soup inside).  R says that the siao long pao is actually a siopao (given the thicker wrapper than siomai) but is sized and shaped similar to siomai.  We learned from one of our lunchmates of Chinese descent that the proper way of eating it is putting it on a spoon, biting off a little off the top, then sipping the soup through the hole.  Oh, so that's how you DON'T burn your palate with the sudden rush of steaming broth in your mouth (that happens when you pop the whole thing in). You learn something new everyday...

Other dishes we savored were the Crystal Paper Chicken (wings baked in paper to preserve their moisture and prevent burning) and Mini Egg Tarts.   One of our Thai lunchmates was about to overlook the plain-looking egg tarts because we were already stuffed.  And was she glad for the sudden change of heart!  These egg tarts had a very smooth filing and a wonderfully flaky crust.  A great end to a fantastic meal.  

Thank you, P, for sharing the sumptuous meal with us to celebrate your birthday.

C is for Chendol


Or I should say, Chendol for C.  My family likes to travel and eat.  Sometimes, we travel TO eat.  And whenever we can't travel together, we eat for each other.  Vicarious satisfaction if you will.  So on this brief trip to Kuala Lumpur that R and I took, C asked us to have Chendol for her.  Chendol is a Malaysian dessert made with sweetened red beans, black gelatin, syrup, coconut milk, and some gooey, sticky green worms (or at least, what we call worms) made of glutinous rice.  These are served with some finely shaved ice, similar to our native halo-halo.  I am not fond of beans but I had a request to fulfill.  And I am glad I did!  Chendol is apparently an excellent dessert!  The red beans did not have the grainy-ness that I usually associate with beans and the coconut milk melting with the ice gave it a very cool and refreshing flavor.  The slight chewiness of the black gelatin and green "worms" give the dish a nice texture that help you savor the flavors longer.

Cuppy Cakes

I've always been intimidated by egg whites so light cakes were never my thing.  The whole business of having to fold in egg whites to make a chiffon or "cooking" them with hot sugar syrup to make icing always made me turn to the next page on a cookbook.  R says that we should open a store called Ugly Desserts because we make some really great tasting treats but they're usually not very pretty.  Decent-looking enough but nothing that'll ever hold a candle to the likes of Sonja's or Bizu.  But this whole cupcake craze has made me curious about frosting.  The only problem was, how could I get around egg whites?

I searched the internet and found a video on youtube that demonstrated how to make frosting with no egg whites.  Great!  Next problem, the cupcake recipe it came with had the dreaded whites.  Since I promised myself at the start of the year that I'd try to make at least one new thing each month, I might as well go ahead with this one.   And the first attempt was a smashing success!

Separating the eggs was expectedly the trickiest part.  But I followed the recipe to the letter and out came wonderfully moist cupcakes bursting with fresh orange flavor.  My antiquated oven was working perfectly that afternoon that each batch came out cooked exactly to the same doneness.  The recipe says it's for 12 cupcakes but I yielded 30!  Maybe the cups I used were smaller than intended.  The latter ones got pretty dense either because the air in the batter had already deflated while waiting for their turn in the oven or because the additional mixing I did ruined them.  In any case, I had way more than 12 good ones.  Now for the icing.

I again followed the recipe closely, albeit using just half because it looked like it would yield too much as well.  I found it too buttery so I adjusted by adding more confectioner's sugar.  I eventually arrived at something that was pretty close to Sonja's in terms of texture and basic flavor.  I didn't feel the need to flavor it because I didn't want it to compete with the orange flavor of the cupcakes.  Next up was color.  I don't know if it's the kind that I used or the strong yellow color from the butter but the closest I could get to the orange that I was aiming for was a rather melon-like hue.  I eventually stopped trying to add more because I didn't want to use too much food color and settle for a light orange shade.  Now the fun part:  frosting the cupcakes!

I bought a cheap icing bag set several years ago just to play with and now was the perfect opportunity to finally open it.  Wilton tips they're not so I had just one decent tip available for this purpose.  They worked well enough that I can at least say I can decorate something if I really had to.  And then inspiration struck.  I have always had a thing for orange-flavored chocolate so why not have a chocolate frosting for my orange cupcakes?  I dug through the fridge for baking chips (which we usually keep a steady supply of) and some leftover heavy cream.  Stuck them momentarily into the microwave, stirred until smooth, and voila!  Chocolate frosting!  This combination, I swooned over!

And so my first attempt at cupcakes were not half bad.  Not the prettiest, but certainly delicious.  My sugar-averse mom finish one (sans the icing) and her sister (who had the orange-frosted one because she can't have chocolate) even asked for the recipe.  And r is happy that he can now have cuppy cakes at home.  I gave myself a good pat on the back this one.



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