June 20, 2016

vegetarian fresh lumpia

Aside from Filipino adobo, there are other traditional dishes and snacks that deserve a prominent place in Philippine cuisine. Lumpia is one of them. Unlike the crispy deep-fried lumpia that most people know and love, this type of lumpia is a more of a vegetable dish. Yes, there's a fresh lumpia version and this is the actual filling that goes inside it. I hope this will not be confusing to those who are more familiar with the crispy type of lumpia.

This vegetable lumpia filling may also be served wrapped in fresh lumpia wrappers similar to a savory crepe. I like it both ways but the fresh wrappers are hard to find and I've never been successful making them. Served minus the wrappers, this dish is called "lumpiang hubad" or "naked lumpia" much like the term "naked burrito" when served in a bowl without the tortilla wrap.

This was my version of a vegetarian lumpia (shown above) which had tofu. Cut a block of tofu into 1/2" thick slices. On a tray or plastic cutting board, arrange the tofu slices side by side on a clean towel or sheets of paper towels. Cover with more paper towels and place a cutting board on top. This process will get rid of excess water and prevent splattering when frying the tofu. Dice the tofu and pan-fry in a small amount of oil until lightly browned.

Pork, chicken or shrimp may be added but it's also traditional to add small dried shrimps (called hibe - pronounced as hee-beh) for a more distinct flavor. Rehydrate the hibe in hot water before using. The slight orange color was from annatto seeds  or achuete.

For the recipe, please refer to my 2010 post for Lumpiang Sariwa.

June 15, 2016

seafood night

As far as I'm concerned, I can eat seafood almost everyday :-) Coming from a country of many islands, I was introduced to fish and shellfish early on. My mother's favorite were blue crabs. She would just steam and serve them with a garlicky vinegar dip very much like what I served with these Alaskan crabs.

Alaskan King crabs served with garlic vinegar dip
salmon escabeche 

Another one that instantly brings me back to my childhood is Escabeche, as shown above. Back in Manila, our preference for this dish was "tanigue" fish or Spanish mackerel.

May 18, 2016

white chocolate torte with fresh fruit

I had fun making this cake, although it was a bit complicated. I was inspired by those tall Japanese cream cakes that I've been seeing online mostly in the Japanese food and travel videos I love to watch :-)

The special occasion cake looked impressive and colorful with an assortment of our favorite fresh berries and fruit all piled on top. To start off, the cake itself wasn't too sweet. The fresh fruit and toasted chopped nuts (I used macadamias) made the frosted cake even less sweeter. There was a complete balance of flavors - sweet, creamy and slightly tart. This torte will make an attractive centerpiece for any special celebration.

I plan to make this with a basic sponge cake next time. Perhaps more like a fluffier strawberry shortcake than a dense torte.

The torte was baked in two 9" round cake pans then split to make four layers (shown above). Butter, melted white chocolate and confectioner's sugar were mixed together for the frosting that went along the sides and top. Fresh whipped cream went in between the layers and was also piped on top. I may just try an all whipped cream frosting next time.

The cake recipe was adapted from Land o'Lakes White Chocolate Raspberry Torte. Fruits in season are great to use, however, I may do a tropical version of this cake next time with mango, pineapple and papaya or other available tropical fruits.

May 10, 2016

summer melon drink

Just because it's almost summer and it feels like it with temperatures shooting up to the 80's these past few days...I thought about making this melon drink. It's a simple concoction made with grated or shredded cantaloupe, sugar and water. Cantaloupe is actually called "melon" in the Philippines.

In Manila, it's very common to use this particular shredder gadget to make the cantaloupe "strings" as shown above. At the local markets, it's also a common sight to see melon vendors making this drink right at their stalls. Chop the shredded cantaloupe in smaller pieces if the strings are too long. Transfer them to a pitcher, add water, sugar and ice cubes. The amount of sugars depends on the sweetness of the fruit. For me, this is also one of the best ways to make a not so flavorful cantaloupe much better and more enjoyable. This melon drink never fails to bring back memories of hot summer days in Manila :-)

April 2, 2016

more Hawaii travel ~ part 3

As we have discovered, a week long stay wasn't enough to see everything the Big Island has to offer. What we had was just a sampler and there are many more areas to visit next time. In the meantime, here are a few more highlights from the Big Island.

tourists and cliff divers at South Point
early morning breakfast stop at Aloha Lehua Cafe
in Pahoa on the way to Lava Tree Park

Lava Tree Park in Pahoa was another off the beaten path attraction and a pleasant stop on our day drive around Puna. It was a quick and easy walk around the circular path that can be done in less than 30 minutes. The signs and posters were very informative with all the details describing how the lava trees were formed.

Lava Tree Park and signage

March 29, 2016

more Hawaii travel ~ part 2

After spending a week in Maui, we headed on to the Big Island. It was an easy 40-minute flight with Hawaiian Airlines. A glimpse of the Big Island from the plane is shown below.

the Big Island as seen from the plane and a welcome drink on
board Hawaiian Airlines, a surprising treat for a quick flight
as we approached landing, the most amazing coastline
welcomed us
this quiet strip in Hilo was our home for a week
sunrise views from the rental condo veranda
fish dinner at Seaside Aqua Farm ~ conveniently located 
just across our condo building ~ fried aholehole
(a local fish) and furikake salmon with pasta shown above 

lava cliffs at Volcanoes National Park
A most fascinating combination of snow-capped mountains, active volcanoes and lava fields on one side, cool rainforests thriving with tropical plants and flowers, waterfalls, the most amazing coastlines with black, green and red sand beaches, towering cliffs and unique micro climates. These are just a few things that best describe the Big Island of Hawaii.

the active Kilauea crater at Volcanoes National park

March 10, 2016

more Hawaii travel ~ part 1

It has been almost 2 months now since we got back but Hawaii is still in my mind :-) It was the most unforgettable two weeks in Maui and the Big Island. These pictures are proof that paradise on earth exists.

in Maui, we drove by Ho'okipa Beach everyday
from our Haiku rental place
lava on the beach along the Road to Hana
small waterfalls are a common sight along
the Road to Hana

It was hard to capture the beauty of the Bamboo Forest in pictures. It's one of those that you have to experience to truly appreciate the sounds (the bamboo made a neat percussion sound as they swayed with the breeze), the colors (monochromatic green from young to mature bamboo) and the zen moments within the tall and lush bamboo. There was a portion of the hike when the bamboo got so thick that it turned dark in their midst. The impressive Bamboo Forest can be found at the Pipiwai Trail, one of the most popular and key stops along the Road to Hana. Such a unique experience!