We have been cooking our way around the world during quarantine, since we can’t go anywhere. So far, it has been helping our quell our wanderlust a little bit. A few weeks ago we tried to make Adobo, the de facto national dish of the Philippines. Chicken Adobo can be made a thousand different ways, but generally has a vinegary sauce base. Chef Angela Dimayuga shared her family’s recipe which includes soy sauce, garlic, and three types of coconut: coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut vinegar. You can find the recipe here on New York Times Food. This dish was super easy to make, and was deliciously savory and tangy. We especially loved the spicy pop of the whole peppercorns. This would be the perfect dish for entertaining (someday).
Can you believe that it is already December 1st? I know I can’t. Today the first of our holiday decorations went up, and I am scheming about which holiday recipes to make first (maybe something with gingerbread?) In conducting a search for holiday recipes, I came across a Christmas classic from the Philippines: Bibingka. Bibingka is a coconut cake made with rice flour and topped with coconut, duck eggs and even cheese. In the Philippines, you will see bibingka sellers peddling these cakes on the street around the holiday season. The traditional way to make bibingka is in a terracotta pot lined with banana leaves, cooked over open coals. However, bibingka has now adapted to the contemporary kitchen, and you can make it in a conventional oven. The following bibingka recipes vary a bit, but the rice flour is a must: Kawaling Pinoy Recipe, Panlasang Pinoy Recipe, New York Times Recipe, Zestuous Recipe. Asian in America Mag has a version of mini bibingka that are cooked in muffin tins with banana leaf “liners.”
Ube is having a moment in US food culture. The sweet purple yam flavor seems to be popping up all over in the US, in cakes, ice creams and donuts, mirroring its popularity in the Philippines, where it is incorporated into any sweet treat you can imagine. Ube is truly, shockingly purple, so you definitely won’t be able to miss it. We first had ube-flavored desserts at Village Creamery in the Chicago burbs, and we were hooked. Ube is a traditional flavor in the Philippines, and one of the most popular uses for it is in Ube Macapuno cake (ube = purple yam, macapuno = preserved coconut), a light and fluffy frosted cake with tons of bright-purple goodness. It is getting easier to find ube itself in the US, and you can also find ube powder in some well-stocked Asian groceries. Macapuno, preserved coconut, may be a little harder to find, but the Phil-Am Foods site has both ube powder and macapuno for sale online. Bake Happy has a recipe utilizing Ube Powder (seen below) and Bakanista has a recipe for a cake made with fresh ube (in some places you can even enhance your recipes with McCormick Ube Essence).
Isla Pilipiana (2501 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL) has one foot in the old world and one in the new. The menu features classic Filipino dishes, but the menu itself is designed in an edgy, loopy hand drawn style (even with a reference to Eminem lyrics, see if you can spot them) – which seems to be the perfect summary of what Isla Pilipiana is all about. Isla Pilipiana is a small place with modern decor, and is located in a strip mall just off the main Lincoln Square drag, so you might miss it.
We first ate an ensaimada, a sweet eggy, yeast roll on a warm day in Puerto Rico, not knowing anything of its history, other than that it looked pretty tasty (it is actually called a Mallorca there). However, we did not put two and two together until we stumbled upon the same sweet yeast roll, with the same spiral top, on a cold winter day in Madrid, except this time it was called an ensaimada. When we got home, we did a little research and sure enough these two rolls, encountered an ocean apart, were actually the same pastry.
Enaismada (center) from La Mallorquina in Madrid
Ensaimadas originated on the Spanish island of Mallorca, and gained their name from the pork fat used to make them, saïm. The pastry traveled with the Spanish around the world, and throughout the centuries have found their way throughout the Spanish speaking world to Puerto Rico, and to the Philippines, where they are particularly popular. Ensaimadas, due to their richness, are popular to eat around Mardi Gras time, before all the sweets and butter are given up for Lent, so why not whip some up now? Check out this Spanish-style recipe from Delicious Days, or a traditional Cabell d’àngel pumpkin jam-filled version from the Gusty Gourmet. Jun-blog has a recipe for Filippino ensaimadas, which are miniature-sized and made with butter.
4558 Oakton Street
In honor of National Ice Cream Month, here’s another post about one of our favorite topics. We here at ETW are huge fans of ice cream, but it takes a lot to wow us. Village Creamery, is one place we were pretty impressed by, and the sheer variety of unique flavors was a real treat. Many are inspired by Filipino flavors such as Mangosteen and Lychee and others by American treats, such as those made with Girl Scout cookies or Donut pieces. The variety is truly astounding. If you don’t believe us, check out this complete flavor list on their website. Of course if you are in the mood for a more simple Vanilla or Mint Chocolate chip, Village Creamery has those, too.
All of the ice creams are home made and the rotation of flavors varies from day to day. On the day we visited they had such eclectic flavors as Cheese (!), Crème brulee, Durian, Jackfruit and Halo-Halo Fiesta, a riff on a popular Filipino dessert. We figured the halo-halo was a good choice, so we ordered one cup, along with a cup of the more typical Mint Chip. The Halo Halo flavor consisted of vanilla ice cream with banana, pineapple gel, coconut gel, red beans, white beans, and Rice Krispies. Though the combination seems quite unusual, it really worked. Our friends that ordered more traditional flavors were also pleased. Along with simple scoops, Village Creamery also offers a range of sundaes, milkshakes, malts and even bubble tea. We highly recommend Village Creamery for your more idiosyncratic ice cream cravings and it is one of our favorite places in the burbs for a treat (there is also a location in Niles).
We are totally into Jun-blog, a blog focusing on Filipino food, coupled with some pretty amazing photographs. We especially like the Filipino Food ABCs feature, where a Filipino recipe starting with A-Z is featured. The blog is currently up to N. We are especially excited to try the E-Recipe: Ensaimada brioche rolls.