"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Canning: Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup

My first ever batch of canned peaches a few years back

My in-laws gave us 3 bushel of peaches to can last year.

3 bushels of peaches from my in-laws' trees (this is only our share)

Per MIL's instructions, here's how we did it.

Sterilize quart jars and lids.

Blanch peaches for 10 minutes then dip in ice water.

Hubby and MIL helping (we are like an assembly line

Slip skins off. Cut in half and remove pits.

Prepare heavy syrup: 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar ratio.  Boil.

Pack the jars. Pour syrup into the jars until neck level. Use the bubbler to release bubbles.  Adjust syrup so as to leave 1/2 inch headspace.

This packing and processing in water bath was my task.

Wipe rims with wet paper towels.

Adjust lids and bands.

Process in boiling water bath canner for 30 minutes.

Syrup on the left, water bath canner on the right.

Place on countertop with no drafts. Cover with towel to cool, leaving about an inch distance from each other.

42 quarts will last us more than a year.

Canning: Hickory-Smoked Wild-Caught Mackerel

Canned smoked wild-caught mackerel
Last year, I posted about canning mackerel (supplied by my friends who go fishing for fun, so they gave some of their frozen excess mackerels to me).

This year, I joined my friends to fish for mackerel in Rockland, ME. We spent from 11 am to 3:30 pm fishing.

My friend Cecilia and her husband invited me to join them fishing for Mackerels

We used the "Christmas Tree" jigs, aka, fish streamers, where there are 4 hooks with fiberglass type of bunched fibers. At times, we would catch as much as 4 in one go. The mackerels come in waves of "schools of fish" so in between waves, we wait for maybe about 2-5 minutes.  But we were able to fill our bigger cooler then half of the smaller cooler when we finally decided to call it quits.

We split in half, approxiimately. I counted 161 of those I brought home.
It was so much fun, and the main thing that would restrict us from going for more is how we were going to deal with the catch afterwards (the time to take to clean them and still manage to keep them fresh; freezer space; smoking and/or canning). I do can them and I have plenty of freezer space, but my friend Cecilia decided to share some of her portion to our other friends to make her job more manageable.

While my prior blog post was with non-smoked mackerels in pint jars, I did try a batch last year with smoked mackerel, in half-pint jars, and I liked the smoked mackerel better. I got the idea when I found a Japanese-made smoked mackerel in olive oil from an Asian store. So this year, I am making more of them. They are that good. As a matter of fact, I brought a jar to work tonight and shared with two co-workers who love fish (but not sushi) and are also fans of canned herring and sardines. They loved it!

So now I am sharing with you my recipe for canned smoked mackerel.

As a side note, wild-caught oily fish like mackerel is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids (twice that of salmon), the various vitamin B's, and vitamin D. Good for the heart! Click here for more nutrition info on Atlantic mackerel.

There are two steps involved, of course: smoking and canning. This is after you have cleaned the fish and kept them iced. Cut them in either bit-sized pieces or use the half pint-jars to measure the length of cut, such that when you pack the jars with mackerel, there should still be 1 inch of headspace remaining.

Step 1 - SMOKING:

Prepare the brine. For every gallon bags of cut mackerel, use this recipe:
2 qts water
1 cup canning salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 T garlic powder
1/4 T onion powder

Pieces of mackerel in brine, kept in fridge overnight

Soak the pieces for at least 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight up to a day. Rinse in cold water.
My cheap smoker, kept in the garage

Pre-heat the smoker and start the smoke with hickory wood chips. (You might want to try other wood chips like Apple or Alder.)

Cold-smoking for one hour (with lid on, of course!)

Smoke for about 1 hour. You don't want to dry up the fish before canning (if you are not canning, you may smoke the whole fish for 3 hours and continue to dry for another hour).

Step 2 - CANNING:

(If you are new to pressure-canning, please learn the principles first using this website.)

Washed in dishwasher

While pre-heating the smoker, prepare your jars. Your jars should have been cleaned (use the dishwasher and start getting them out when ready to fill).

For every half-pint jar, add the following:
1/8 tsp canning salt
2 whole peppercorn
small piece of bay leaf
1 pitted olive
pieces of tomato pulp (I used my canned whole tomatoes; you can use cherry tomato if you have them)
1/2 Tbsp vinegar (I used homemade.)
sprinkling of garlic powder and garlic onion to taste

Tightly packed

Tightly pack with the mackerel pieces. (They will shrink some upon pressure-canning.)

Add olive oil (I used organic extra virgin) until it fills the jar up such that it has a 1-inch headspace. This is important in pressure-canning. It is necessary to prevent boil-overs and create a good vacuum seal.

Should have 1 inch headspace before placing lids and bands

Wipe the rim of the jars. Place the lid. Apply the bands finger-tight (to allow air to escape but still have good seal after cooling down.

I had 3 layers of half-pint jars.

Pressure-can for 110 minutes.

Let pressure naturally release (I do this overnight) before opening the canner (I do the next day).

Check that all jars have sealed properly. If some have not, consume those first. Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (I had none that failed to seal.)

Approved by my sons, in-laws, and co-workers (those that love fish, that is!).

Enjoy as snack, or as ulam!

I just inspired my brother-in-law and his wife, and some of my co-workers to fish for mackerel and/or to can them.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Canning: Wild Mackerel in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Homecanned wild-caught mackerel
I homecanned mackerel. If you have bought some mackerel in tin cans, I made my own version.
Why homecan?
1. It frees up my freezer space for new items that I can freeze. (We have chicken, pork and beef slaughtered in fall, so I need to clean up my freezers to prepare. That means I need to free up the space.)
2. Making a big batch, enjoy over an indefinite period of time, with serving portions good for a meal or two. This is especially handy when I have the craving for fish and no one to share it with. Both my sons are off to college. My husband does not eat mackerel.
3. When you are a control freak where foods are concerned, that you can be obsessive about the quality of the food you eat, from ingredients to sanitary conditions of food production. I want the best ingredients...BUT...
4. It's cheaper to make them yourself than to buy. A 4.4 oz of great quality canned wild mackerel that are sustainably harvested can cost from $1.25 to $3.15. (That means, the equivalent amount of my pint-jar of canned mackerel can demand anywhere from $5 to $12.60.)
5. They last longer. If canned properly, the shelf-life is basically indefinite. You don't even have to reheat before eating. Compare that to freezing, when they might get freezer burn if you don't consume within a year.
6. It's way for me to share with my sons my love of seafoods (or other foods). I send a jar or two of whatever I homecanned when they are going back to their dorm/apartment. They won't need a refrigerator or freezer for this, and they are ready to take along as well.
7. When fish is pressure-canned, you can eat the bones! That's calcium!

I don't fish as of this typing (maybe that will change later), but a few of my Filipina friends and their husbands do, and I am inkling towards going with them. Anyway, some of them do it for hobby (usually for their husbands initially). And so sometimes they overdo it -- they end up having too much than what their freezers can accommodate or what they can consume in a year. So they give away their excesses. And that's how I ended up with more than two gallon-bags of mackerel (even after this batch, I have two gallon-bags more of larger sized mackerels). They also gave me squids...with the ink bags intact!
Given by friends

If you are new to canning, please use this link to learn the principles of canning first before you embark on it. Believe me, botulism, a form of food poisoning, is common with homecanned foods. So please be smart. Be safe.

Ingredients & Instructions:

Clean the jars in hot soapy water. Inspect for nicks. Must be intact. No need to sterilize. The heat of pressure-cooking will sterilize the jars.
Sliced and kept in icewater

Clean the fish. Hopefully the innards were removed within two hours of catching. Otherwise, removed them before canning. Keep in icewater while you work on slicing the pieces and until you are ready to pack into the jars. You may add some vinegar into the water, they say to remove slime. Slice to fit in the jars you are using, or slice into bite-sized chunks. I like to use wide-mouth pint jars for this so the contents are easier to get out of the jar. You can gather the smaller pieces later to put in a jar, or to fill up spaces.(Note: Do not dump the water. You can use this to enrich your soil/water your garden.)

Boil water enough to cover the lids. Place the lids in then turn off the heat. Do not boil the lids. The heating is just to soften the rubber.

In each jar, place: 1/2 tsp canning salt (I use Morton's), a pinch-ful of whole black peppercorns (3-5 pcs), 1 small bay leaf, 1 pitted olive (I use canned green olives with the carrot or pimiento(?) inside and cut that in three), 1 cherry tomato (just because I was not sure what to do with my harvest). Sprinkle some toasted garlic (I had leftovers from a mushroom sauce-based dish I had for supper. I used my thumb and two fingers to get the amount I need per jar.)
My seasonings

Pack the mackerel in tightly. Use the smaller pieces to fill in. Push if you must to expel air.
Pack them tightly!

Add EVOO, about 3 to 4 T and 1 T vinegar (I used Datu Puti) to fill spaces (and to flavor, of course!) so that your headspace will be that space where you see the ridges for the cap/band (about 1 inch). Do not overfill. This is necessary so you don't have boil-overs and you will actually expel air out during processing (creating the vacuum seal).
See the headspace?

Use a butter knife or bubbler to release bubbles. (I am sure you will find videos on yt how to can, so you get the idea of what I mean here.) Wipe rims with paper towel to make sure there's no oil (that might prevent sealing of the lid's rubber against the jar rim) or other pieces that might interfere with the seal. Place in the pressure canner. Have as much as 2-3 inches water up the sides of the jars. Build the pressure to 10 psi. Time for 100 mins (I based this on an Alaskan govt's method of canning salmon). Let cool off completely before removing from the pot, without removing the weight.

Once pot is cool, open and lift the jars carefully. They might be oily. Wash them with soapy water. Let stand for 24 hours before removing the bands to check for seal. One way to check seal when the band is still on is to see if the lid is concave, which means it was pulled in by the vacuum created. Once you remove the bands, another way to check seal is to lift the jar up with your fingertips only touching the lid, not the jar itself. If lid stays, it's good to go and ready for storage.

Hope I sparked your interest in canning!

Below is the photo of the jar with the least amount of fish that I canned. Fish only filled half the jar, so I used cherry tomatoes as filler.
Straight out of the jar.

Smells and tastes like those sold in tin cans!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Lobster Newburg

Lobster newburg on a bed of zoodles
This recipe was shared to me by a former patient, Jeannine T., who used to work as a chef in Governor's restaurant. (I have been asking patients who love cooking/baking or used to work/currently working as chefs or used to own restaurants for their two fave recipes.) She mailed two of her fave seafood recipes to me a few months after she was discharged from the hospital, coupled with a Thank You card to express her appreciation for the care I gave to her during an unforgettable night that was a life-and-death situation.

When I first made this, I used phyllo shells (never knew they were this small...see photo below). I realized that since newburg sauce is pretty much like any creamy pasta sauce, I next served it on a bed of zoodles (above photo), and I can imagine it being served on a zucchini boat, or any pasta (if you are not gluten- or wheat-intolerant).

My husband does not eat lobsters when he can see them as "insect-like" but will eat lobsters prepared this way since it's all cut up. And he likes this recipe.

Lobster newburg on phyllo shells
1/4 lb butter
2-1/2 cups lobster meat
1/4 cup flour (not sure what could be a good sub for those gluten- or wheat-intolerant, but I might try potato starch as a sub, though I have not tried)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Accent (optional; this is aka MSG. I tried not to use the second time I cooked this, and it was just as delicious)
2 cans evaporated milk (I used 1 can evap and the equivalent amount of heavy cream the second time I made this)
2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine

INSTRUCTIONS (I modified per  how I actually cooked).

IN a skillet on low to medium heat, cook lobster in 2 Tbsp butter to draw the color slight. Set lobster aside. Add the rest of the butter until melted on low heat. Combine all dry ingredients and make a roux by adding to the melted butter and constantly stirring, then slowly adding the milk/cream to make a creamy paste. Add the lobster meat again to coat, then add the sherry slowly while stirring.

Serve over pastry shells or toast (or pasta or zoodles).

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Sauteed Shrimps and Sayote

Simply Savory Sunday brunch: Sauteed Shrimps and Sayote
I used extra jumbo shrimps which still had the shell. While prepping the veggies and cutting the shrimps lengthwise (make them more curly), I was boiling the shrimp shells in water to extract its flavor into a broth, which I added to the dish while still boiling.

2-3 cloves garlic
1 lb shrimps, deveined and shelled then cut lengthwise
2 sayote, sliced for stir-fry
2 T patis (optional) or salt to taste
1 cup shrimp broth
1/8 cup or so of heavy cream (optional; I just like mine to be really savory. If you want this to be Paleo, eliminate the cream. If you are using raw heavy cream, this is Primal.)
various crushed herbs (optional; I used basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and savory)

Sautee about 2-3 cloves of sliced garlic in hot coconut oil. When slightly browned, add shrimps and sayote. Stir-fry for about 2 mins or as soon as shrimps turn pink, add patis or salt, and the (still-boiling) shrimp broth and herbs. Adjust salt as necessary. Turn off heat and add cream.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Buko (Young Coconut) Pie - my most expensive homemade pie in the US

Buko Pie
I had an old old post of buko pie but at the time, not knowing where to get buko, I used macapuno. Not quite the same.

This time, I now know that I can order young coconuts from Hannaford grocery stores and get them the very next day or so. The coconuts are imported from Thailand. I trust Hannaford when it comes to sourcing their produce. So even if pricey at $3.99 per piece, I get my buko fix from Hannaford. Tip: If you order them then get them right away, you will get white meat. If you wait and get the ones displayed on the shelves, the meat is pinkish. Not sure why, but it tastes okay if you can get past the color change.

Yes, it is expensive! Just for the cost of ingredients alone, a pie can cost $15. Add in the labor, gas for the trip to the grocery store, gas to bake, and it could easily be ideally sold at a minimum of $50 per pie! Now if only the pie makers like Marie Callenders can make frozen buko pie from the source, then import them here to the US as ready-to-bake pies...hmmmm...maybe we Fil-Ams should make a demand.

A friend of mine brought buko pie last December for my birthday/Christmas party. One of my co-workers (Black American) who I invited loved the pie and asked me to give one to her as a birthday gift. Her birthday was last Tuesday; I ordered the coconuts Monday. We both worked Wed and Thu, and I finally got my coconuts last Friday. My son's birthday party was yesterday (Saturday) so now that it is Sunday, I finally found the time to tackle this gargantuan task with the help of my son.

Coconut meat scraped from a case of young coconuts imported from Thailand
My able-bodied son cracked the coconuts open and drained the water out into a pitcher, while I scraped the meat. The thinner meat were shaped into squares, and the thicker ones were scraped with the looped scraper (that results to noodle-like shape). After all were done, I ended up with enough to make 3 pies. So, one pie = 3 young coconuts  = roughly 2 cups.

Ingredients: (To make 3 pies)
9 young coconuts (This makes a whole case.)
1 can of 12-oz evap milk
2&1/4 c sugar
1&1/2 c tapioca starch (or cornstarch, if you prefer more body instead of gooey)
1&1/2 c coconut water
3 t pandan extract
few drops of lemon extract

Double pie crusts x 3
egg wash (1 egg plus 1 T milk; beat together)

Mix all ingredients except meat from young coconuts.

Cook on low medium heat while stirring constantly until thick.

Turn off heat and mix in the coconut meat.

This is your filling for 3 double-crust pies.
I only made 2. I froze the third portion for filling another pie at a later time.

I used this organic pie shell for bottom. I used Marie Callender's for top crust.
Brush top with egg wash.

Bake at 400ºF x 15 mins then at 325ºF x 45 mins.

Perfectly golden brown!

Puffed up at the middle. Of course it will shrink once cooled.
Enjoy while warm! Great with coffee or vanilla ice cream. As my son's experience goes, does not go well with cold coconut water (because the coconut water taste becomes indistinguishable).
Mostly coconut meat!

I had a second portion!

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