Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kalamay with Buko

The smell of cooking caramel and coconut engulfed my kitchen as I mix the contents of my wok. I have been on it for more than an hour now,  cooking, stirring , sweating and watching how a thin,  white solution made of coconut milk and powdered glutinous flour transforms into this gooey, thick , aromatic and delectable treat. Making Kalamay is laborious. Those who actually cooked it , could attest to that. Maybe that's the reason why, many would rather buy it from stores  than cook it from scratch at home. Often packed  in  coconut shells, this Filipino sweet is sold even at some local airports back home and  makes fabulous  but cheap and very much welcome pasalubong ( Filipino tradition of a homecoming gift)  . 

A good friend of mine is celebrating her birthday and is inviting me for lunch. I could have bought a box of chocolate but I know this will please her much, much more. She and her family love Kalamay , after all.  Being far from our country, Filipinos often use foods to fight whatever melancholies our hearts feel. Foods and karaoke, actually. Well, foods, karaoke and Pinoy soppy teleserye to be exact. My friend was quite happy with my simple yet very personal gift. The shimmer of her eyeballs speaks volume , if not her salivating maw. She couldn't just stop eating it. ''Taste like home!'', she says, many times. I was more than glad. Happy birthday Jassy!

Cooked with love...

I put young coconut meat in this recipe. It turned way better than I expected. Everybody who have tried it, actually liked it. Even my German husband, FF!  I guess, I will be ditching tins  of Christmas cookies this year and will be giving kalamay in jars instead. Nifty idea, don't you think?


For latik: 
250 ml coconut milk

For Kalamay:

800 ml coconut milk
200 ml water
200 g ground glutinous rice
100 g palm sugar
250 g muscovado or brown sugar
1 cup  coconut meat, cut into thin strips

Cooking Procedures:

1. Make latik. Pour coconut milk in  a pan. A non stick one will make your life easier, so don't be a masochist and use one. Bring coconut milk into a boil . You. Shall .Not. Stiiiiir. Voice ringing like Gandalf here. Let it cook until it curdles . Once oil separates, carefully scrape  off latik crumbles from the pan. 

 2. Once latik is cooked, it should be crumbly and caramel brown, like the picture above. Carefully take latik out from the pan and dry excess oil using a paper towel. You can save the coconut oil and use it to grease your Kalamay container/ serving dish.

3. Combine coconut milk , water and ground glutinous rice flour. Use a whisk to dissolve powder. Mass must  be homogeneous. Add in coconut meat.

4. Put mixture in a pan/ wok, preferably non stick. Bring mixture to a boil. Keep stirring. Curl those biceps! Flex those muscles! The mixtures curdles as it cooks until it becomes one sticky mess  mass. Just keep on stirring. Let mixture cook for about 30 minutes.

5. Stir in  sugar. Muscovado gives deeper and richer colour  and more intensive flavour . Use it if you could get your paws on it. Sugar liquefies as it cooks. Turn the heat to medium low and keep cooking and stirring for another 30-40 minutes. I told you soooo.

7. Brush serving plate with coconut oil ( from cooked latik) and spread Kalamay over it. Let it cool and sprinkle latik on top . Pat yourself on the back for doing a good but undeniably  hard work and put the calories you've lost while cooking on, one sticky spoonful at a time. Enjoy your reward and share those calories to your  friends or better yet, your foes!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Things to do and see in Málaga

I am in no means an expect when it comes to this city, however, let me share  a thing or two about Malaga and its people base on the things I've seen, observed and experienced while on a too- short- for - my- liking- birthday- getaway. Exploring Malaga is never tedious and stressful  unlike other big cities. For one, this is  the most pedestrian friendly place I've ever been to. Most landmarks, museums , plazas, gardens and the beach are accessible by foot. Aside from a short ride to and from the airport, we never took a bus, taxi or train to go anywhere while we were here. The city centre where most attractions are,  is compact yet never gives an impression of being overcrowded. The labyrinth of cobbled streets makes me feel like I'm just passing through somebody's backyard. It has less tourist compare to Barcelona, Madrid or any Spanish cities. Less tourist means, less crowd and yes,  less expensive! Although peddlers are starting to be visible on the streets, they are still nothing  compare to what I saw in Rome. It means, you can leisurely   enjoy the place,  eat outside in the restaurant and still have very little tendency of having empty cups, anything plastic or another things shove up your nose. People are also genuinely warm and welcoming . When FF and I asked for directions, the locals we met are always been ready to provide whatever help they could give. One old guy even went up different buses to ask drivers for information which he himself could not provide. How nice of him!

Also, locals  especially those in tourism are never pushy , making this place tourist friendly!  We stopped by horse-drawn carriages  out of curiosity, when a driver came  asking if we want to have a tour around the city. After saying, ''No ,thank you.'', he politely step back without insisting , with the same friendly smile on his face. People in the restaurants also give us and other by passers space and time while we look over menus, which are mostly displayed in front of the restaurants. You don't feel rushed or intimidated . You can literally look around without having anybody breathing down your neck.Your personal space will be respected . 

 We saw and did many things while in Malaga. Here are my favourite 10.

1. Start your day right. Have some  churros con chocolate..

Freshly deep fried dough, dipped in thick hot chocolate.  Available at many cafes around the city. If this is not the perfect way to start your day, please share  ideas on how to better spend your mornings.

2. Visit the cathedral.

Fondly referred to as La Manquita or the ''One armed Lady'' by the locals because having two towers, one being unfinished, this  mosque turned catholic church was built between 1528 to 1782.  The influences of different eras are evident  in its diverse architecture. Renaissance interiors  and Baroque style facades, Medieval  Moorish walls and Gothic altarpiece.This is Malaga's main architectural landmark and a must-visit site .

The  interior with its stained  glass windows, marble sculptures, impressive paintings, wooden choir stalls is just as impressive as the facade .

3. Explore the long stretch of Costa Del Sol .

 Enjoy the warm and calm sea,   walk and let the fine , powdery sand tickle your toes. Get that marvellous ,  been-to-the-tropics- tan you could brag to your stressed and pale colleagues.

 When hunger strikes, eat freshly caught grilled sardines  by the beach . The tantalising whiff  of sea and seafood could be smell a mile away. Just follow your nose and it will lead you to these al fresco dining by the bay.

 Spend a lazy afternoon at Muello Uno.  Enjoy the sight of the sea, sunshine and flashy yachts, gigantic cruisers and colourful fishing boats moored at the newly spruced up and revamped city harbour.

When the sun sets , have a drink or two, or have a nice  dinner at the some trendy bars and restaurant along Muello Uno.. 

4. Pay some interesting museum a visit.

Málaga is the birthplace of the famous Pablo Picasso. Some of his works and art pieces are proudly displayed at the museum. 

5. Visit Roman Theater and the neighbouring Alcazaba Fortress

6. Wear a comfortable shoe and go up Gilbralfaro castle

Nothing beats the city view  from up there!

7. Visit the Central market

One of the cleanest markets I've ever been to. The harvest of both land and sea are abundant and fresh.

8. Who cares if you're not in Valencia? Have a Paella!

Try this place  for some authentic paellas in town. You will be licking your paella pan clean in no time!

9. Join locals and tourist at Calle Larios and enjoy shopping, dining and  people watching 

Calle Larios at night.

10. You are in Andalusia, have some Tapas!

Tapa Bars are abundant in the city .If you are unsure where to go and which amongst the hundreds of tapa bars offer excellent foods, try this guided tapa tour . You will not be disappointed

Monday, October 13, 2014

Baked shrimp and chicken paella

Saffron is known to be the most expensive spice on Earth. A kilo of these golden threads is enough to buy you a ridiculously expensive crocodile skin its meat. Yeah, it's that expensive. Fortunately, you don't have to marry a well- tattooed  underwear model,-cum -hair and fashion trend-setter -cum  - retired footballer named Beckham, to be able to afford it. We ,  non- zero sized  mere mortals could purchase a pinch, a flick or a dust of this luxe spice to  perk our risottos, bisque, chowders and paellas. A few thread is what one need for it goes a long way.

I was at a local market in Andalucia, Spain last summer, when the sight of a stall selling spices caught my attention. It was the Paella mix spice that particularly pique my interest. Andalucia, particularly Valencia, is famous for their paella.  Knowing that saffron is the most essential spice that gives this rice dish its characteristic colour and taste, I was rather surprise how cheap this mix spice is. It did not take long before I was happily swaying a plastic tote bag containing a quarter kilo each of Mandras curry and paella mix , worth an astonishing 5 euros . Imagine how many pots or curry and pas of paella will I be making with these! What a steal!

I made Beef mandras curry, using that curry powder  for the family on my b-day celebration at home. Needless to say, everybody immensely enjoyed it . This week, I decided to give the paella mix a try. I was equally happy with the result Here's how I did it.

Oven baked paella ala Emily


4 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
500 g, chicken cut into pieces
300 g paella rice
600 ml chicken broth
2 smoked sausages or chorizo
1 green and 1 yellow capsicum,   seeded and diced
1 red capsicum, seeded and cut into strips
400 g raw shrimps, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
1 pinch of saffron or 1  tbsp. of paella mix if you have some at hand

  The spice mix is deep orange , almost red. Reminds me of paprika powder.

1.  Bring chicken broth to a boil. Stir in saffron thread ( if using). I used a tablespoon full of my magic and cheap paella mix spice and waaaa la! The broth turns golden yellow! Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

  2. Heat a tbsp. olive oil in  the paella pan. Brown chicken pieces. Toss until all sides are equally golden in colour. Take out from the pan and set aside.

3. Add the rest of olive oil in the same pan. Heat chopped smoked sausages. Add in diced onion. Sauté until  translucent.

 4. Add diced yellow and green bell pepper. Toss  well. Kitchen is smelling' rather guuud at this  moment.

 5. Add in risotto rice.  Stir well until each grain of rice is coated in delicious grease.

 6. Put browned chicken pieces back into the pan. Pour chicken stock . Let it simmer for 5 minutes.

 7. Arrange raw shrimps over rice and chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  8. Carefully place red paprika strips over it. Put pan into a preheated ( 200° C) oven, cover loosely with aluminium foil and bake for 30 more minutes or until rice is al dente. I'm Asian and I like my rice a bit mushy. I cooked mine for about 10 more minutes. (^_^)

                   Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!
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