Maja Blanca

Maja Blanca | Pinky's PantryMaja Blanca is a traditional Filipino dessert. It’s kindof like a coconut pudding studded with kernels of corn. It sounds strange to think of coconut and corn together, but believe me this dessert is sooo good, you’ll find yourself coming back for seconds and thirds. I think Maja Blanca is traditionally topped with latik which is basically coconut milk curds. To make latik, you bring some coconut milk to a simmer and keep simmering till the oil separates from the milk solids which eventually start to fry in the oil and and turn into little brown curds. It’s a lot of work. My shredded coconut topping is way easier.

When you shop for the canned milks for this recipe, you’ll need to buy:

  • 4 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

From the 4 cans of coconut milk, you’ll be able to get 5 cups for the 1st Mixture, but you won’t have enough left over to make 2 cups for the 2nd Mixture. Never fear. What you’re going to do is pour the last of the coconut milk into your 2-cup measure and then add enough of the liquid drained from the whole kernel corn to make 2 cups.

Same thing with the evaporated milk. You won’t have enough in the can to make 2 cups but it’s not worth opening a whole ‘nother can when you’re just a little bit short, so pour the evaporated milk into your measuring cup and then add enough corn liquid drained from the whole kernel corn to make the 2 cups that you’ll need for the 1st Mixture. If you run out of corn liquid, go ahead and use water. It’ll be fine.

MAJA BLANCA

1st Mixture:

  • 5 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (14¾ oz.) cream-style corn
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) whole kernel corn, drain and reserve the liquid

2nd Mixture:

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  1. Grease a rectangular pyrex glass baking dish or metal baking pan with butter or margarine.
  2. Mix all the ingredients of the 1st Mixture together in a large pot.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the ingredients of the 2nd Mixture using a wire whisk until smooth.
  4. Bring 1st Mixture to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally.
  5. When boiling, pour the 2nd Mixture into the pot, scraping it all in with a rubber spatula, and continue to cook, stirring constantly until thick. The mixture will thicken really fast so this step is best done by two people. One person to stir the pot while the other person pours the 2nd Mixture into it.
  6. Quickly pour maja into prepared baking pan.

Toasted Sweet Coconut Topping:

  • 1 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  1. Melt butter in a frying pan.
  2. Add grated coconut and sugar and toast, stirring constantly until golden brown. Watch carefully because the coconut burns fast!
  3. Sprinkle toasted sweet coconut over maja blanca.

NOTE:  If you can’t get fresh grated coconut, you can substitute unsweetened dessicated coconut. If you can’t get unsweetened dessicated coconut, you can use sweetened dessicated coconut but cut the 1/2 cup sugar down to 2 tablespoons.

This is a big recipe so it’s great for potlucks or family gatherings. It makes enough to fill a 9×13 rectagular baking dish with enough left over to fill an 8-inch round pie plate. If you have a dish bigger than 9×13, use it.

 

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Oven Roasted Crispy Pork Belly (Lechon sa Hurno)

Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
Filipinos eat a lot of pork. They’re really good at cooking it, too. Lechon is one of the national dishes of the Philippines. It’s basically a whole roasted pig. The pig is skewered on a bamboo pole and slow roasted over hot coals while being continuously hand-turned like a giant rotisserie till the skin turns a crisp, reddish-brown and the meat becomes juicy and tender.

Lechon Kawali is made from pork belly that’s boiled until tender, then dried overnight, and the next day, is deep fried in a kawali (Filipino wok) till the skin is puffed and crunchy. However, cooking lechon kawali can be a dangerous endeavor. The pork belly pops and can splatter hot oil (or make talsik” as they say) quite violently and can cause some pretty serious burns if you’re not careful. Not to mention making a greasy mess. Few are the Filipino cooks who have escaped unscathed from a bout with a slab of frying pork belly.

Enter Lechon sa Hurno (Oven Roasted Pork Belly). Lechon sa Hurno is prepared similarly to Lechon Kawali except instead of being fried, the pork belly is baked in the oven. No oil splatters, no greasy mess, and no visits to the urgent care clinic. Just some tender pieces of pork topped with a delicious crunchy skin.

This recipe differs from traditional Lechon sa Hurno in that you don’t boil the pork first before roasting. My cousin, Ana, has a business in the Philippines selling crispy pork belly and she said she uses lemon grass and bay leaves for “aromatics.” Meanwhile, I’d heard of roasting pork belly with a salt crust, kind of like the way they do with prime rib or whole fish, and decided to try the salt crust method of roasting the pork belly with aromatics underneath it for flavoring. Success! The meat was so tender and tasty. And the skin was to die for! Nicely seasoned and so crisp, you could hear the crunch across the kitchen as you sliced it.

LECHON SA HURNO (OVEN ROASTED CRISPY PORK BELLY)

  • 2½ – 3 lbs. boneless, skin-on, pork belly
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup salt
  1. The day before you plan to roast your pork belly, wash it in cold water and dry it very well with paper towels. Then put it on a platter, skin side up, and place the pork, uncovered, in the fridge to dry overnight.
  2. The next day, take a long sheet of foil, fold it in half so you have a double thickness, and press it into your roasting pan.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  3. Lay a bed of chopped onions, lemon grass, and garlic on the foil, then place the oregano, thyme and bay leaves on top. These are your aromatics. If you’re not sure how to work with lemon grass, you can read about it here.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  4. Place the pork belly, skin side up, directly on top of the aromatics in the pan.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  5. Look at your pork belly skin. If one portion of it seems to dip lower than the rest, take a piece of foil, scrunch it up, and tuck it under the lower part to raise it. You want the skin on top to be as level as possible so that it crisps evenly. (I learned that the hard way after the sides of my pork belly starting browning faster than the center portion which was lower.)
  6. Pull up the foil to enclose the bottom and sides of the pork belly, pinching the corners to fit the foil around the meat. Leave the top open to expose the skin.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  7. Carefully pour water against the foil along one side of the pork belly so it runs underneath the meat and mixes with the aromatics. This helps keep the aromatics from burning. If any water gets on the skin, dry it quickly with a paper towel.
  8. Pour the salt on top of the skin and pat it smooth to make a salt crust.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  9. Bake at 350ºF for 1½ hours. Remove from oven and raise oven temperature to 425ºF.  Pull foil open to expose the sides of the pork.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  10. Using a pair of tongs, carefully lift off and discard salt crust.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  11. Usually, the salt crust lifts off in one piece. If it breaks like mine did, don’t worry about it. Just throw away the broken piece and carefully remove what’s left.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  12. After discarding the salt crust, pick up the pork belly with the tongs, hold it over your sink, and brush off any excess salt that may have spilled onto the skin.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  13. Place a wire rack over the pan and place the pork belly on the rack.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  14. Return pork to oven and bake an additional 30 minutes more.
  15. Turn off oven, turn on broiler to low, and broil for about 15-20 minutes or until skin is completely puffed up and golden brown all over. Watch carefully that it doesn’t burn!
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry
  16. Slice into 3/4-inch strips. Then cut the strips crosswise into 1-inch pieces and serve.
    Crispy Pork Belly | Pinky's Pantry

Americanized Bibingka

Americanized Bibingka | Pinky's Pantry
Living in the United States, we don’t always have easy access to Filipino food. I guess it depends on where in the U.S. you live. Unfortunately, where I live, if you want Filipino food, you need to make it yourself. There have been times when I’ve really been craving some native food from back home. This recipe was born from one of those cravings.

Filipino bibingka galapong is a native cake made of rice flour that’s cooked in a clay pot lined with banana leaves. As strange as it sounds, the sweet little cakes are dotted with pieces of quesong puti (carabao milk cheese) and wedges of itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs). Growing up, the best bibingkahan to get hot, fresh-made bibingka was a place called Ferino’s. It was started in 1938 by a man and his wife who made their bibingkas on three clay pots set on a bench. From there, the business grew till they eventually had shops all over town.

Anyway, I was craving the taste of Ferino’s bibingka one day. Since I don’t have a clay pot or banana leaves, and since we can’t get quesong puti or itlog na maalat where we live, I came up with this recipe which I called “Americanized Bibingka” because I baked it in a pyrex glass baking dish in the oven, and I substituted American ingredients for the native Filipino ingredients I couldn’t get – cream cheese for the quesong puti and dried shredded coconut for the itlog na maalat. It’s not Ferino’s, but it’s a really good substitute.

This recipe makes a big pyrex dish so it’s perfect for parties or get-togethers. Don’t expect it to look anything like traditional native Filipino bibingka galapong. Just follow the recipe and you’ll get a good taste of what bibingka is like, albeit without the look. Everybody loves it, including all our American friends.

AMERICANIZED BIBINGKA GALAPONG

  • 4 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 box (8-oz.) cream cheese
  • ½ to 1 cup shredded, sweetened, desiccated coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, sugar and water.
  3. Pour batter into a greased 9” x 13” pyrex glass baking dish.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt and stir together the butter and cream cheese. The cream cheese mixture will be separated and lumpy. It looks weird, but don’t worry. This is normal.
    Americanized Bibingka | Pinky's Pantry
  5. Pour cream cheese mixture as evenly as you can over the cake batter. Don’t worry about trying to make it perfectly even. You can’t.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove cake from oven and top with shredded coconut (as much as you want).
  8. Return cake to the oven and broil till the coconut flakes turn golden brown.

NOTE:  If you can’t get self-rising flour, you can make your own by mixing together:
                4 cups all-purpose flour
                2 Tbsp. double acting baking powder
                2 tsp. salt

Filipino Buko Pie (Young Coconut Pie)

Buko Pie | Pinky's PantryMy Dad’s family hails from a place called Bay, Laguna in the Philippines. Bay (pronounced “Bah-eh” by the locals) is one of the oldest towns in the province of Laguna. Legend has it that the Datu or Tribal Chief of the area had three beautiful daughters. When the Spanish came to convert the natives to Catholicism, the Datu’s three daughters were baptized and renamed Maria Basilisa, Maria Angela and Maria Elena. The first letters of Basilisa, Angela and Elena were put together to form the name “Bae” which over time changed to “Bay.” The district of Santo Domingo in Bay was actually named after my great-grandfather, Domingo Ordoveza, who was a wealthy landowner in the area.

I remember going to Bay as a little girl with my grandparents. We went every year during the town fiesta. There would be a huge party on the plantation with lots of people, tons of food, games, prizes, and fun. We stayed at the family homestead which I remember as a big, white house surrounded by lanzones trees. Lanzones is a small, yellow fruit native to the Philippines. I remember watching the boys climb the trees to pick the fruit for us to eat.

One of the things I also remember eating is Buko Pie. The province of Laguna with all its coconut trees is famous for its buko pie. Buko is the Filipino word for “young coconut.” As a coconut matures, the meat becomes thicker, firmer and whiter; but young coconut meat is thin, soft and almost opaque in color. That’s the coconut we use to make buko pie. The coconut shell is cut in half and the buko is scraped out with a shredding tool that produces thin strips or strings of the meat. It’s absolutely delicious. Where I live in North America, I can’t get fresh buko (or fresh coconuts for that matter) so I have to buy frozen buko from the Asian grocery stores. It’s not as good as fresh, of course, but it works fine when you’re craving a slice of nostalgia in pie form.
Buko Pie | Pinky's Pantry

FILIPINO BUKO PIE

Crust:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup cold shortening, cut into pieces
  • 5-6 tbsp. cold water
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Pinch off a small clump of dough and squeeze it in your hand. If it does not hold together, sprinkle the dough with 1 tablespoon of ice water and blend with a fork. Keep adding ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture just holds together when squeezed in your hand.
  4. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly bigger than the other, and flatten each ball into a disk.
  5. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days.

Filling:

  • 3 pkgs. (about 3 cups) frozen shredded buko, thawed and drained
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup buko juice
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  1. In a small saucepan, stir cornstarch into buko juice until completely dissolved.
  2. Stir in evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla and buko.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

To Assemble Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Sprinkle flour on work surface and roll out the larger of the two disks into a 12-inch circle. When rolling, work from the center to the outer edges, spinning the dough occasionally to get an even round shape.
  3. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, pressing into the bottom and up the sides.
  4. Trim off any excess dough.
  5. Place bottom crust in refrigerator while you work on second disk of dough.
  6. Roll out second disk on lightly floured work surface, spinning occasionally to get an even circle large enough to cover the pie.
  7. Take bottom crust from the refrigerator and pour filling into it spreading evenly.
  8. Place top crust over pie.
  9. Roll the edge of the top crust just underneath the edge of the bottom crust and flute the edges together all around the pie.
  10. Make an egg wash by beating 1 egg and 1 tablespoon cold water together.
  11. Brush egg wash all over top crust.
  12. Prick holes on the top crust with a fork to allow steam to escape the pie while baking. You could also cut 6 or 8 vent holes with a sharp paring knife, or cut out decorative designs with a pie crust cutter.
  13. Bake pie in oven for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  14. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

NOTE:  If you have a food processor, use it to make the pie crust. It makes it so much easier and quicker. Besides, the less you handle the dough, the more tender and flaky your crust will turn out. Just follow the directions as listed, but instead of using a pastry blender or a fork, pulse the ingredients together in the food processor.

Frozen buko comes in plastic bags like this:
Buko Pie | Pinky's Pantry

Mango Float

Mango Float | Pinky's PantryMangoes are indigenous to the Philippines. They grow quite a few different varieties all over the country. Filipinos love to eat them ripe and sweet, or green and sour. Philippine mangoes, in my opinion, are the best in the world. My favorite is the variety they call Carabao Mangoes. Their thin, smooth skins are easy to peel and hide a golden orb of juicy sweetness that’s unrivaled by any other country’s. South American mangoes, though good, are very fibrous. In contrast, Philippine mangoes have very little fiber. You could cut one open and eat the flesh with a spoon.

We had two huge mango trees in our garden when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of sitting under the shade of the trees on lazy afternoons, reading a book or drawing. When harvest time came, we would get baskets and baskets full of bright yellow fruit from the overloaded branches. Way more fruit than we could ever eat. Our cook would make mango desserts, mango jam, and “burong mangga” (sweet pickled mangoes). We also gave away lots to friends and neighbors.
Mango Float | Pinky's Pantry
Mango Float is a very popular dessert in the Philippines. How this dessert got its name, I have no idea. To me, the name Mango Float conjures up images of a milkshake-type drink. Nothing at all like what this dessert is truly like. It’s rich and creamy and utterly delicious. You’ll find yourself wanting a second and third helping, it’s so good. And because it’s so easy to make, you’ll find yourself wanting to make it again and again.
Mango Float | Pinky's Pantry

MANGO FLOAT

  • 4 large ripe mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cans (12.8 ozs. each) Nestlé table cream
  • 1-2 cans (14 ozs. each) condensed milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. salt, optional
  • 1 box graham crackers
  1. Whisk the Nestlé cream, 1 can condensed milk, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Taste the cream mixture. If you want it sweeter, open the second can of condensed milk and add more, a tablespoon at a time, until the cream is sweetened to your liking.
  3. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer at the bottom of a 9×13″ pyrex glass baking dish. Cut and trim the crackers with a knife as needed to fit the baking dish.
  4. Spread 1/3 of the cream mixture over the graham crackers.
  5. Top with a layer of sliced mangoes.
  6. Repeat layering two more times with graham crackers, then cream, and ending with mango slices.
  7. Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

NOTE:  If you want thicker layers of cream between the graham crackers, add 1 can of Nestlé cream and ½ can of condensed milk to the cream mixture, then taste for sweetness and increase condensed milk by the tablespoon, if desired. No need to increase the vanilla and salt.

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche | Pinky's PantryDulce de Leche is a South American caramel confection. It’s made by cooking sweetened condensed milk until the sugar is caramelized and the milk is thickened and brownish in color. I remember my Mom boiling an unopened can of condensed milk for what seemed like hours on the stove. Of course we all grew up hearing the horror stories and dire warnings of how you should be careful because the can could explode, but none of that ever seemed to matter. What was most important was getting a taste of that sweet, thick, and sticky treat. I remember how awfully hard it was to wait for it to be ready, and even harder to wait for it to cool! But you had to let it cool before you could open the can or the dulce would spurt out and could burn you. We would eat it by the teaspoonful, carefully eking it out and eating it ever so slowly to make it last as long as possible because Mom would never let us have more than 2 little spoonfuls of it in one day.

There are many different ways to make your own dulce de leche at home. You could do like my Mom always did and boil an unopened can of condensed milk on the stove for 2 or 3 hours. You could bake an unopened can in a water bath in the oven; or cook a can in a pressure cooker; or cook it in a slow cooker; or open a can, empty the milk into a pot and cook the milk over the stove, stirring till your arm falls off (don’t ask me how I know). Why, I’ve heard you could even make it in a microwave!

My favorite method is super easy and doesn’t involve any risk of explosion or having your arm fall off. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.

HOMEMADE DULCE DE LECHE

  1. Empty 1 can of sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate.
    Dulce de Leche | Pinky's Pantry
  2. Cover pie plate tightly with foil.
    Dulce de Leche | Pinky's Pantry
  3. Make a water bath by placing a pan larger than the pie plate into the oven and filling it with enough water to go 3/4 up the side of the pie plate.
  4. Place pie plate in center of water bath and bake at 400ºF for 1½ hours or so, adding water as needed. The longer you cook it, the darker the caramel gets.
    Dulce de Leche | Pinky's Pantry
  5. Remove foil. The edges are usually more cooked than the center so take a wire whisk and whisk everything together until it’s well-combined and smooth.
    Dulce de Leche | Pinky's Pantry
  6. Pour into a clean jar and allow to cool before using.
  7. Store dulce de leche in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Leche Flan Cake

Leche Flan Cake | Pinky's Pantry
We ate Leche Flan Cake all the time when we were growing up in the Philippines. There was a canteen near my Lolo’s (grandpa’s) office that sold it for a few cents a slice. It was always such a treat to go visit my Lolo at work because he invariably would give us some money to run down to the canteen for a slice of Leche Flan Cake. Looking back, I think it was probably his way of getting rid of a bunch of noisy kids so he could work in peace for a while. LOL! Either way, I always thought the cake was the best part of visiting my Lolo at his work. Now, I make my own leche flan cake and hopefully, it’s created some fond memories for my own kids to look back on, too.

Traditional leche flan cake has a thin layer of flan on top of a thick layer of cake, but my Old Goat would always ask if I could make the flan layer thicker (like I do with Chocoflan Cake). So I finally gave in and that’s why my leche flan cake doesn’t look anything like traditional Filipino leche flan cakes. I have to admit he was right though. I do like it better with a thicker layer of flan. The fam sure does, too. And so will you!

FILIPINO LECHE FLAN CAKE

For the Caramel Sauce:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  1. Pour sugar into 9×13-inch metal baking pan and set on stove over low heat.
  2. Cook sugar until it melts and begins to turn caramel colored.
  3. Tilt pan so caramel coats the bottom evenly. Use oven mitts! The pan will be hot!
  4. Set aside to cool. The caramel will harden and could crack as it cools. Don’t worry. This is normal.

For the Leche Flan:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolks (save the whites for another use)
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. In a bowl whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, evaporated milk, condensed milk, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Pour the mixture over the cooled caramel in the baking pan.

For the Cake:

  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup oil
  • 4 egg yolks (save the whites to make meringue)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the center.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla.
  4. Pour the milk mixture into the well of dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  5. Set batter aside and make meringue.

For the Meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • ½ cup sugar
  1. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until frothy.
  2. Decrease speed to medium and gradually add the sugar.
  3. Continue beating on medium until eggs whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.
  4. Take a third of the meringue and carefully fold it into the cake batter to lighten it.
  5. Fold the rest of the meringue into the cake batter until no more white streaks remain.
  6. Pour batter slowly over the leche flan mixture in baking pan.

To Bake:

  1. Place baño maria (water bath) inside oven. You can use a large roasting pan for this.
  2. Fill with enough water to come at least halfway up sides of baking pan.
  3. Turn oven on and preheat to 325ºF.
  4. When oven is ready, carefully lower baking pan with batter into hot water in baño maria.
  5. Close oven door and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.
  6. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely; then chill in refrigerator overnight.
  7. Run a knife along the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan.
  8. Turn cake out onto serving platter with a rim to catch any caramel sauce that might drip.

Chicken Sopas (Filipino Chicken Macaroni Soup)

Chicken Sopas | Pinky's PantryI guess this soup would be the Filipino version of chicken noodle soup. It’s certainly one we ate often growing up so it’s definitely comfort food for me. It brings back a lot of fond memories. I remember eating this for lunch at my grandparents’ house and then going into the family room after the delicious meal to sit and watch TV while my lola (grandmother) worked on her latest crochet project. She crocheted beautifully and made everything from colorful glass coasters to warm, snuggly blankets. She tried to teach me but I was never very good at it and wasn’t all that interested in learning to crochet in those days.

Anyway, this tasty soup is a complete meal into itself. It has chicken, vegetables, pasta, everything you need for a hearty and nutritious feast. It looks like it has a lot of ingredients, but once you get everything chopped up and ready to go, it comes together fairly quickly. It’s a very filling soup that would be perfect to serve on a cool fall evening while you sit warming your toes in front of the fire……gritting your teeth as you struggle to crochet and wishing you’d paid better attention when your lola was still alive.

CHICKEN SOPAS (FILIPINO CHICKEN MACARONI SOUP)

  • 3 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
  • ½ head of cabbage, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk (can substitute fresh milk)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Melt butter or margarine in a large stock pot.
  2. Sauté garlic and onions until onions become translucent.
  3. Pour in chicken broth.
  4. Add chicken breasts, celery and carrots and bring to a boil.
  5. When chicken is cooked, remove from pot and shred or dice.
  6. While you shred the chicken, stir in macaroni noodles and chicken bouillon and bring back to a boil.
  7. Lower heat to medium, return the shredded chicken to the pot, and continue to simmer till macaroni is almost cooked. (If the soup seems to be drying up too much, add more broth.)
  8. Stir in the cabbage and evaporated milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes more.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Filipino Pork Barbecue

Filipino Pork Barbecue | Pinky's Pantry
It’s No. 1’s birthday tomorrow. To celebrate, we’re having a Filipino dinner. I’m making Filipino pork barbecue among other things. Pork barbecue is a favorite party food in the Philippines and is often the first thing to disappear from the table. It’s also a popular street food and you can always find barbecued pork, chicken or innards being sold on city street corners. Filipinos prefer their barbecue a little on the sweet side and it is often served with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce made by stirring finely chopped chili peppers, onions, garlic, salt and pepper into a bottle of white vinegar.

I learned to make the original recipe for pork barbecue from Mrs. Carrion, my 7th grade cooking teacher at the Assumption Convent where I went to school. I can still hear her trying to impress upon a bunch of young girls the importance of cleaning up as you work. Since then I’ve modified her original recipe, making changes and additions to suit my own taste. And yes, I do clean up as I work. That part of making this hasn’t changed.

FILIPINO PORK BARBECUE

  • 3 lbs. boneless pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch thick chunks
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup Mafran or Jufran banana ketchup
  • 1/2 cup 7-Up
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 whole head garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Marinate the pork overnight.
  3. While the pork marinates, soak bamboo skewers in water overnight. This helps to keep them from burning on the grill.
  4. Skewer the marinated pork onto the soaked bamboo sticks.
  5. In a small bowl make a mixture of 2 parts Mafran ketchup to 1 part of the marinade mixture for brushing over the pork while grilling (i.e. 1 cup Mafran + 1/2 cup marinade).
  6. Grill pork until done, brushing with Mafran mixture while grilling.

NOTE:  Nowadays, you can purchase Mother’s Best or Mama Sita’s Barbecue Marinade in Filipino or Asian grocery stores. I think both brands are very good and make a quick and easy marinade when you don’t have time to gather and measure out all the ingredients for the traditional recipe. You’ll have to try both brands yourself to decide if you like one better than the other. They both taste delicious to me so I usually just pick up whichever one is on sale at the time I’m at the store.

QUICK AND EASY MARINADE:

  • 2 cups Mama Sita’s or Mother’s Best barbecue marinade
  • 1 cup 7-Up
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and crushed

Follow the steps above, including making the 2:1 Mafran/marinade mixture to brush over the pork while grilling.

Spanish Chocolaté

Spanish Chocolaté | Pinky's Pantry
Churros are a traditional and beloved Spanish snack. They are often served with little cups of chocolaté (pronounced cho-ko-lah-tay) for dunking. There are churrerias all over Spain where you can get churros con chocolaté. However, the Spanish chocolate drink is nothing like our American hot cocoa. Spanish chocolaté is thick and when I say it’s thick, I mean thick. But it’s rich and creamy and oh-so-delicious. It’s the perfect complement to the crispy churros.

Growing up in the Philippines where the Spanish influence is very strongly visible in our food, I always had hot chocolate prepared the Spanish way. My Mom would buy these chocolate tablets or tableas as they were commonly known which were made from locally grown cacao beans. The brand we used most often was Antonio Pueo Chocolate which was founded by a Spanish immigrant and has been manufactured in the Philippines since the early 20th century. It’s easy to find here in the States but if you can’t find it, you could substitute Mexican chocolate in a pinch. Pueo chocolate tableas come in two forms – pure cacao tablets which are wrapped in gold paper, and cacao-and-milk tablets which are wrapped in white paper. I prefer to use the gold-wrapped tablets, though the white ones work just as well.

In the Philippines, traditional chocolaté (or tsokolaté) is prepared by placing chocolate tableas in a pot with some water and then setting it on the stove to boil until the chocolate dissolves. The mixture is then transferred to an iron pitcher called a tsokolatera, after which milk and sugar are added, and then it is hand-beaten with a utensil called a batidor which is like a wooden stick with a carved knob at one end. You hold the handle of the batidor between your two palms and then rub your palms together back and forth causing the batidor to spin left and right. This is the hard part. You spin and spin and spin and spin some more until you’re sure your arms are going to fall off, but as you spin the batidor, the chocolaté froths up into a creamy, thick, slightly grainy concoction that smells divine and tastes like heaven. Some people like to add ground peanuts to their chocolaté which gives it a delicious nutty flavor.

I make my chocolaté the lazy man’s way which is definitely easier on your arms than using a batidor though you still have to whisk. No getting around that. But first I pulverize the tableas until they’re crushed into small pieces because they dissolve much faster that way. I also add a little cornstarch to my mixture which helps ratchet it up to the Spanish level of thickness.

SPANISH CHOCOLATÉ

  • 1 pack (7.4 ozs.) Antonio Pueo Chocolate Excellent (in the gold wrapper)
  • 3 cans evaporated milk
  • 1 can condensed milk (you won’t use the whole can)
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup milk or water
  1. Crush the chocolate tablets in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and pound them with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin. It is not necessary to pulverize them to a powder. Just crush them into small pieces.
    Crushed Chocolaté | Pinky's Pantry
  2. Combine crushed chocolate and evaporated milk in a heavy-bottomed pot, stirring with a wire whisk to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. This can take some time so just be patient and keep whisking.
  4. Meanwhile, taste the mixture for sweetness. If you think it’s not sweet enough, whisk in ¼ cup condensed milk and taste again. I would start with ¼ cup and go from there. If you want it still sweeter, just add more condensed milk, little by little, till it reaches the sweetness you desire. I find that ¼ cup is plenty sweet for me, but if my daughter Bashful had her way, she’d pour the whole can of condensed milk in!
  5. Once chocolaté starts to boil, reduce fire to low, and whisk in cornstarch mixture.
  6. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until chocolaté is thick and smooth. If the chocolaté doesn’t seem to be thickening, raise the fire a little to bring the mixture up to a boil again. Don’t forget to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn!
    Spanish Chocolaté | Pinky's Pantry
  7. Pour into demitasse cups and serve with churros. We also love it with hot pan de sal or ensaimadas. Yum!

NOTE:  I have made this with both the pure cacao in the gold wrapper and the cacao with milk in the white wrapper using my same recipe. Both work fine. Even though the white-wrapped Pueo tablets already have milk in them, there’s no need to adjust the amount of evaporated milk you use. That being said, I like the pure cacao in the gold wrapper better. It has a much richer, bolder chocolate flavor.