Friday, October 25, 2013

no-bake blueberry cheesecake

I haven't made this in a while, and I thought of making a batch as a housewarming gift of sorts .  No-bake cheesecake is one of the easiest desserts to assemble; I learned it when I was a teenager. I love sharing this trick with cheesecake-loving friends, because it's so amazingly simple.

You Will Need:

  • butter, softened
  • graham crackers
  • cream cheese
  • blueberry preserves

Here's How You Make It:

  1. Crush graham crackers into fine crumbs.  The easy, mess-free way to do this is to place them in a resealable bag and roll a rolling pin over, but any which way will do.

    How much crumbs do you need?  It depends on how big you want it to be, or how thick/ thin you want your crust.  I normally use a little less than a cup of crumbs for a 9-inch pie pan.
  2. In a bowl, combine crumbs and butter.  Add about a pat of butter at a time so you can control the consistency.  Your goal is a putty-like consistency, moldable like clay, but a bit crumblier.
  3. Place the crumbs-and-butter mixture onto your pie pan and spread it until it covers the entire base of the pan.  This will be your crust.  I personally prefer a thin crust, about one-fourth thick, but hey, it's your cake.  Press it down with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
  4. Soften your cream cheese.  It would be nice to have an electric mixer, but a bowl-and-wooden-spoon works fine too.  Like it much sweeter? You can stir in some sugar or all-purpose cream.
  5. Lay the cream cheese right over your pie crust.  Stick it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Slather blueberry preserves (or any other fruit jam you like) over the layer of cream cheese.  voila!
Get Creative! 

  • Don't like blueberries?  Make it a cherry cheesecake! Or a strawberry one.
  • Make your own fruit jam for topping: Combine one part each of canned or fresh fruit, sugar and water; bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until gooey. 
  • You can even use this trick to make an Oreo cheesecake.  Just use Oreos instead of Graham Crackers - be sure to scrape off the filling first.  Take the filling and some more crumbs, and mix it all into the cream cheese layer.  Top with crushed cookies.

Friday, October 18, 2013

making sinigang from scratch - with santol ^_^

When cooking, I try as much as possible not to use those "artificial flavor enhancers" that happen to be outrageously high in sodium.  I only resort to them when I'm in a hurry, or when there's a particular flavor that I have a hard time capturing - like the mouth-watering asim of sinigang.

One of my goals this year is to experience cooking different kinds of sinigang from scratch, using the various natural sour ingredients, or "pampa-asim". That means no short-cuts, no flavor packets, no MSG. The easiest natural "pampa-asim" to use is fresh calamansi juice, and I've even tried using lemon juice when I visited my mom in the 'States.  I have yet to experience making traditional sampaloc broth - I have it scheduled for the week after next.

My latest triumph has been sinigang sa santol from scratch.  I hardly see santol fruits these days, and I was quite happy that someone gave me a bunch.  After snacking on a fruit or two, I decided what to do with the remainder:  Use the santol for sinigang.

Santol broth is quite easy to make:

1.  Peel the fruit, discard the peel. Cut the fruit into wedges, careful not to break the seeds (any broken seeds must be removed).  Use 1 fruit for every 2 cups of water.

2.  Place in a pot and cover with water.  Boil for 30 to 45 minutes.

3.  Remove the santol wedges using a slotted spoon. Discard the seeds and mash the flesh.  Put the mashed santol back into the broth; cover and simmer for 3-3 minutes.

Ta-dah! Santo lbroth from scratch!  No need for those high-sodium flavor powders.  It's all natural and  sooooooo divinely flavorful.

To make the rest of the sinigang:

1.  Boil cubes of pork in the broth until sufficiently cooked.  Don't forget to add a bit of salt.

2.  In a separate pot, boil slices of gabi (taro root) until soft.  Remove from water and add to the broth when cooked.

3.  Add 2-3 banana-peppers.

4.  Meanwhile, boil more water in another pot.  When boiling, dunk kangkong and slices of eggplant and okra.  Add the veggies to your stew just before you remove it from the heat.

5.  Season, and serve hot.