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

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Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding | Pinky's Pantry

This bread pudding was made without the raisins.

My Mom used to make bread pudding for us all the time when we were growing up. It was a good way to make use of stale bread or left-over crusts that she had removed from sandwiches for a party. She would coat her pan in caramelized sugar which would turn into a sort of self-basting syrup for the bread pudding so there was no need to make any kind of sauce to serve with it. We loved it!

The raisins are traditional. I always liked them in my bread pudding but I remember my little sister didn’t so she used to pick them out. It’s totally fine to leave them out if you prefer a bread pudding without raisins. The recipe still turns out delicious even without them!

Rum-raisin is a common and well-loved flavor combination, but sometimes, just for a change, I replace the rum with cinnamon. I mean, who doesn’t love a slice of buttered cinnamon-raisin bread? Right? And that’s what it tastes like.

OLD-FASHIONED BREAD PUDDING

  • 4 cups bread cubes (cut with a knife or tear into pieces by hand)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 4 cups evaporated milk
  • 6 whole eggs
  • ½ cup butter or margarine, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. rum, optional (or could substitute 2 tsp. cinnamon)
  1. Toss bread cubes and raisins together in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, whisk all the remaining ingredients together with a wire whisk until well combined.
  3. Pour the milk mixture over the bread cubes and stir together well.
  4. Let soak as long as possible, preferably overnight.

To Cook Bread Pudding:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place sugar and water into a 2½ – 3 quart metal bowl.
  3. Heat bowl over low heat on stove top until sugar is completely melted and begins to turn caramel-colored, swirling bowl quickly to coat bottom and sides with caramel. Make sure to use oven mitts because the bowl will get hot!
  4. Set bowl aside to let caramel coating cool and harden, about 5 minutes or so. Don’t worry if the caramel cracks as it sits. This is normal.
  5. Pour bread pudding mixture into the bowl that has been coated with caramel.
  6. Cover tightly with tin foil.
  7. Place in large roasting pan and fill roasting pan with enough water to come at least halfway up sides of bowl. This is called a water bath.
  8. Put into oven and bake for about 1 hour. To test for doneness, remove foil cover and jiggle bowl back and forth. You want to see a slight jiggle in the center of the pudding.
  9. When done, remove bowl from water bath and place on a rack to cool to room temperature.
  10. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. You could also eat the bread pudding warm if you want to.
  11. To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the pudding to loosen it from the pan.
  12. Invert pudding out onto a serving plate with a lip to catch the sauce.

NOTES:

  • If you prefer, you can make the caramel sauce by just melting 1 cup of plain sugar without adding any water to it. This goes much faster, but it can burn faster too, so watch your caramel carefully!
  • You could also cook the caramel in a saucepot or skillet. Once the caramel reaches the color and consistency you want, quickly pour it into whatever container you’re making your bread pudding in, swirling the container to coat the bottom and sides.

Mom also had what she called her TIPID VARIATION (economical variation):

  • 2 cans evaporated milk + 1 cup water
  • 5 cups bread cubes
  • 4 eggs

Pear Pie

Pear Pie | Pinky's PantryIn the movie “City of Angels,” when Seth (Nicholas Cage) asks Maggie (Meg Ryan) to describe to him what a pear tastes like, she says, “Sweet, juicy, soft on your tongue, grainy like sugary sand that dissolves in your mouth.” It’s the perfect description for this unpretentious little fruit.

We don’t have pears in the Philippines so I’d never tasted them before coming to America. My mother-in-law (who was Dutch) loved them, though, so I always made sure to buy some whenever she came to visit. I learned to love them because of her. This recipe is actually one of the very first pies I learned to make when I arrived in the United States as a teenager. It’s an easy recipe and has long been one of our family’s treasured favorites.

PEAR PIE

  • 1 unbaked, 9-inch, deep dish pie crust (store-bought frozen, or make your own)
  • 2 pears (Anjou, Bartlett, or Bosc pears are good for baking)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Line pie crust with parchment paper or foil and fill bottom with pie weights or dried beans.
  3. Bake pie crust for 8 minutes, then remove parchment paper and pie weights, and continue to bake another 3-5 minutes until light brown.
  4. Remove crust from oven and set aside.
  5. Lower oven temperature to 350ºF.
  6. Peel, core, and slice each pear into 8 wedges for a total of 16 wedges.
  7. Arrange pear slices in pie crust like spokes of a wheel with narrow ends toward center and overlapping. You can slice portions of the narrow ends off to make them thinner and easier to overlap and fit in the crust. I usually take one of the pear slices, cut the thicker end off and lay it over the center to cover the overlapping ends. Also, you may not need all the pear slices depending on how big your pears are.
    Pear Pie | Pinky's Pantry
  8. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar together.
  9. Add flour, melted butter, and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  10. Pour custard over pear slices.
  11. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until custard jiggles slightly in the center when shaken.
  12. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

Mixed Berry Trifle

Mixed Berry Trifle | Pinky's Pantry
I was asked to bring the dessert for the family’s 4th of July barbecue this year. I thought it would be fun to fix something red, white and blue. And what could be better than using ripe red strawberries, sweet blueberries and creamy custard? So I decided to make a berry trifle.

A trifle is an old English dessert. It’s traditionally made with sponge cake (usually dipped in sherry or some other wine), fruit, gelatin and whipped cream. I made this trifle without the alcohol, gelatin, or whipped cream, but it was still wiped out! Bashful decorated the top of the trifle with a berry flag which turned out really cute. It was the perfect dessert to take to the barbecue!
Mixed Berry Trifle | Pinky's Pantry

MIXED BERRY TRIFLE

  • 1 package white cake mix (or bake your own from scratch)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup butter
  • fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
  • fresh blueberries
  1. Bake cake according to package directions. You could use yellow cake mix if you don’t like white.
  2. Cool the cake completely, then cut it into 1-inch chunks.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, mix together the evaporated milk, sugar, flour, egg, egg yolk, and salt with a wire whisk.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until thick and smooth.
  5. Remove custard from heat and stir in butter until completely incorporated.
  6. Allow custard to cool, then assemble trifle by layering cake, fruit, and custard in a trifle bowl. End with custard layer on top.
  7. If desired, you could make a flag on top of the trifle with strawberries and blueberries as pictured.

Coffee Panna Cotta

Coffee Panna Cotta | Pinky's Pantry
We’re having some old friends over for dinner tomorrow. We haven’t seen them in a while so I’m really looking forward to it. For the dinner, I thought I would keep it simple so I’m making a slow-roasted beef brisket with mushroom gravy, roasted potatoes, and steamed broccoli. But for dessert, I wanted to serve something that would be easy to prepare and yet be fancy enough to make a statement. I decided to make Panna Cotta but didn’t feel like doing the traditional vanilla flavor. Then I thought, ‘how about coffee flavored?’ It would jazz up the custard quite nicely and make it sophisticated enough to appeal to the grown-up palate. If I could come up with some kind of sauce to serve it with, that would be the icing on the cake!….. or the icing on the cotta….. LOL! I must say, I think it turned out pretty well! I hope my friends, Maureen and Bullet, like it too.
Coffee Panna Cotta with Coffee Cream Sauce | Pinky's Pantry

COFFEE PANNA COTTA

  • 1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ tsp. instant espresso or coffee granules
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, soften gelatin in cold water; set aside.
  2. Place whipping cream, sugar, instant coffee and vanilla extract in a saucepan.
  3. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
  4. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add gelatin to hot cream mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves.
  6. Pour into 6 lightly oiled 1/2 cup ramekins or other small containers and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  7. Once panna cottas are firm, turn out onto dessert plates.
  8. Decorate with chocolate covered espresso beans and mint leaves.
  9. If desired, serve with Coffee Cream Sauce.

Weight Watchers Lime Panna Cotta

Weight Watchers Panna Cotta | Pinky's PantryMy family loves creamy, rich Panna Cotta, but let’s face it – it’s not exactly the lowest calorie dessert out there. However, I do have the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Cookbook sitting on my bookshelf, and browsing through it I was more than pleased to discover that it contained a recipe for a low-fat Panna Cotta! I decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised. Of course, there’s nothing like the flavor of a full-cream Panna Cotta, but when you’re trying to cut down on the calories, this really was a good substitute.

LIME PANNA COTTA WITH BERRY COMPOTE

  • 1-1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp. water
  1. Spray four 6-oz. custard cups or ramekins with nonstick spray.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of the half-and-half in small bowl. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup half-and-half, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the lime zest, and salt in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, whisking, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, bring just to boil, and remove saucepan from heat. Whisk in gelatin mixture, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Pour through fine sieve set over medium bowl.
  4. Whisk buttermilk and vanilla into strained mixture. Divide mixture evenly among prepared custard cups. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and set, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
  5. To make sauce, combine 1/2 cup of the raspberries, the blueberries, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and the water in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and cook, stirring often, until blueberries pop and sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1/2 cup raspberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. To serve, run thin-bladed knife around edge of each custard cup; then dip cups into bowl of hot water, holding them there about 15 seconds. Immediately invert cups onto plate. Top each with 2 tablespoons of the sauce.

ONE SERVING (1 custard with 2 tablespoons sauce) = 4 POINTS

NOTE:  I followed the Panna Cotta recipe as is, but I didn’t have any raspberries or blueberries so instead of making the Berry Sauce, I made an Apricot Sauce to go with it by first draining a can of Lite Apricot Halves, and then pureeing the fruit with an immersion blender. Stir in a little squeeze of lemon juice and you’re good to go. If you want it sweeter, just add some Splenda to taste.

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Strawberry Panna Cotta | Pinky's Pantry
Panna Cotta is an Italian custard dessert. Panna Cotta literally means “cooked cream.” My kids love Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta which I usually serve with different fruit sauces, but since strawberries are in season, I thought I would try making Strawberry Panna Cotta by switching the vanilla bean for strawberry extract and making a strawberry sauce. They liked it a lot so I made it again to take to my sister’s house for Labor Day. It was a hit.
Strawberry Panna Cotta | Pinky's Pantry

STRAWBERRY PANNA COTTA

  • 1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 cups cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. strawberry extract
  • few drops of pink baker’s gel food coloring (or red grocery store food coloring)
  • fresh strawberries and mint leaves, for garnish
  1. In a small bowl, soften gelatin in cold water; set aside.
  2. Place cream, sugar and strawberry extract in a saucepan.
  3. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
  4. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add gelatin to hot cream mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves.
  6. Stir in a few drops of food coloring until mixture reaches the shade of pink desired. This is optional. You could skip the food coloring if you want.
  7. Pour into 6 lightly oiled 1/2 cup ramekins or other small containers and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  8. Once panna cottas are firm, pour a little strawberry sauce on top.
  9. Decorate with sliced strawberries and mint leaves, if desired.

STRAWBERRY SAUCE

  • 1-1/2 cups strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • sugar to taste
  1. Blend strawberries and orange juice together until smooth.
  2. Add sugar to taste. How much sugar you add will depend on how sweet your strawberries are. Just add in one tablespoon at a time until it’s as sweet as you want it.