Saturday, October 23, 2010


This month's theme at Kulinarya Cooking Club is Suman. Traditionally, it is glutinous rice cooked in coconut cream, wrapped in either banana or coconut leaves, steamed and served with sugar on the side. (Check out the other blogs below for their delicious take on this popular Filipino snack.) My version is called Sumang Hubad, or Naked Suman, cooked without the banana leaves, using mini-cake molds instead. Glazed with salted caramel topping, these little sumans are a comforting snack on this rainy afternoon.

Sumang Hubad

2 cups glutinous rice
3 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
caramel topping, purchased or home-made

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Wash the glutinous rice and drain well. Over medium heat, cook rice with coconut milk and salt in a heavy bottomed pot, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 20 minutes until the coconut cream is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the meantime, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of caramel topping on each mold. Fill the mold with the partially cooked rice, pressing to fill the mold evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a baking tray, pouring enough water in the tray to make a water bath (bain-marie).

Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the rice is tender.

Let cool for a few minutes before removing from mold. Makes 12 mini-sumans.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.

Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.

The current members are:

Kath -
Trisha -
Trissa -
Olive -
Caroline -
Ninette -
Asha -
Malou -
Cherrie -
Acdee -
Valerie -
Sheryl -
Divina -
Annie -
Dahlia -
Joy -
Maribel -
Jen -
Pia -
Malaka -
Mimi -
Erika -
Kat -
Lala -
Selfie -
Connie Veneracion frm
Oggi from
Katrina Kostik from
Rochelle Ryan from

Friday, October 22, 2010


It was a hard-fought battle between the two favorite football teams. My sons' team was the defending champion, but unfortunately had been beaten by a wisely-coached rival. The ride home was heavy with unuttered frustrations, until Son #2 declared that HE'S HAD IT WITH FOOTBALL!, and would now BECOME A VEGETARIAN! (please don't ask me to explain the connection).

We'll see, I thought, knowing that I had prepared some duck breasts that the butcher had been raving about earlier that morning. My butcher usually sells these imported from France, and was thrilled to have found a local farmer that supplied him with fresh duck of the same high quality. After looking into my pantry, I thought of using some orange marmalade, balsamic vinegar, and marsala wine for a sweet and tangy glaze. True to the butcher's word, the duck was indeed juicy, tender and flavorful. Delicious enough to forget the vegetarian idea until the next football season!

Duck Breasts with Balsamic Orange Glaze

2 duck breasts
olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup marsala wine
2 shallots, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper

Season duck breasts with salt and pepper. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat olive oil and pan fry the duck, skin side down for 15 minutes under medium heat, until skin is golden brown.

Turn over and continue pan frying for another 5 minutes for medium doneness, 10 minutes for well done. Remove and let the duck rest on the side.

Remove excess oil from pan and leave about 1 tablespoon in. Saute the shallots and garlic until translucent, then pour in chicken stock, marmalade, balsamic vinegar and marsala wine. Stir well and reduce until the glaze is thick and syrupy. Season to taste.

Slice the duck breasts and spoon the glaze over the crisp skin.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recipes Lost and Found

In this digital age, our generation reveals itself when we still collect newspaper clippings and file them in a folder. I have such a folder sitting on my kitchen bookshelf, filled with recipes in greying newsprint, having caught my interest at one point, waiting to be tested, but mostly ignored in favor of brighter food magazines and cookbooks.

These days we scan through information at warped speed, getting to the point in nanoseconds with a series of rapid clicks. I found this recipe the old fashioned way, leafing through the pages of my folder, straightening the folded edges, reading each clipping to find my culinary inspiration for the day.

I thought I would challenge my aversion to baking once more, and this recipe from The Straits Times October 2007 issue looked simple enough. It involves boiling and pureeing oranges and does not use any butter, but a lot of eggs and two kinds of flour. This zesty cake is as yellow as the afternoon sun! Serve with a bowl of cream cheese frosting on the side.

Orange Cake

3 fresh oranges, medium sized
230g granulated sugar
6 eggs
140g cake flour
100g ground almond flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Boil the washed oranges in a pot of water for about 20 minutes. Drain and cool. When cooled, slice oranges into quarters, remove seeds, and puree in a blender, unpeeled.

Beat the eggs, adding the sugar a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Sift in the flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl, add the almond flour and fold gently. Mix in the orange puree and fold until blended.

Lightly grease a cake tin and pour in the batter. You may need 2 tins depending on its size. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, testing for doneness by inserting a skewer. If batter clings to the skewer, bake for a little longer and continue testing until the skewer comes out clean.

Dust top with icing sugar, or serve with your favorite frosting.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Little India

Which shop should I enter, I wonder, as I walk down Little India's streets in search of the ingredients I needed for a new recipe. I spot a stall where a little granny, in her bright pink sari, hovers over a large basket of dark purple eggplant, just delivered by the Chinese lorry driver. The granny furiously picks through the heap, and soon enough a crowd of market-goers, including me, were joining in. A young lady catches me with an eggplant in hand and teaches me to discard the ones with tiny holes. This is the place, I thought, and entered the adjoining spice shop with my basket of veggies and my grocery list. There were rows and rows of herbs and spices, black lentils, yellow lentils, flours from wheat to chickpeas, and mounds of fresh curry leaves and cilantro. I was overwhelmed. I didn't know where to begin, so I showed the shopkeeper my list and asked him to help me. With a little smile, he went from shelf to shelf, dropping into my basket the cumin seeds, chili powder, garam masala, mustard seeds and chickpea flour I needed. After paying for all this, the shopkeeper reminds me to pass by the huge trough filled with curry leaves and cilantro, and take as much as I needed, no charge to his customers.

In the spirit of the Commonwealth Games going on in Delhi, the October issue of Food and Travel (UK) magazine featured a luscious feast. This is one of the many tempting recipes I have adapted, tucking into my spice basket from Little India.

Aubergines (Eggplant) in Yoghurt
serves 4-6 people

300g eggplant, washed and dried
125g besan or gram flour
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
oil for frying
300g plain yoghurt
1/4 tsp paprika or cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 sprigs of curry leaves, stems removed
(or you can use mint leaves)
lemon or lime

Slice the eggplant 1.5cm thick, place in a colander and generously sprinkle some salt to draw out the bitterness.

In the meantime, mix the flour, garlic, chili powder and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl. Add enough cold water to make a thin tempura-like batter.

Dry the eggplant slices on kitchen towels and heat oil in a frying pan. Dip each slice into the batter and fry as many pieces in a single layer in the pan. When golden brown on each side, transfer to a platter lined with kitchen towels to drain excess oil. Add more oil as necessary while frying the rest of the eggplant.

In another bowl, whisk the yoghurt, paprika and cumin powder. Season to taste. Layer the cooked eggplant in a flat serving platter and trickle the spiced yoghurt over them.

Heat up about a tablespoon of oil in another frying pan and quickly fry the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Immediately pour this over your eggplant dish. Squeeze some lemon or lime juice and serve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lazy Daze

Another Lazy Sunday Morning. I've just let the dogs out to graze in the garden and chase after the blackbirds poking around the freshly cut grass. Husband's catching up on sleep after ten days of time zones and jet lag, and the teenagers never get up before their internal alarm clock says On Sundays, breakfast is at noon, and lunch is whenever. Our otherwise scheduled life gets put on hold, and today we're all allowed to be in a daze.

Yesterday I had a craving for something chocolate, so I drove to Jalan Merah Saga, a street lined with cookware boutiques, a cooking school, an Italian deli, a French bistro, a butcher, and a pet shop. Everything I need, and want, in one stretch! I popped into the cooking school to get a supply of Valrhona cooking chocolate to make the rich, dark and delicious Chocolate Pots which we'll enjoy after dinner today, whenever that will be.

Valrhona Cholocate Pots
from Shermay's Cooking School

300 ml whipping cream (35% fat)
200g Valrhona or other good dark chocolate, with 53-70% cocoa solids

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons liqueur of choice (Grand Marnier, Kahlua, etc)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (for a non-alcoholic version)
20g unsalted butter
chocolate powder for dusting

Over medium-low heat, bring the cream to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pan, until cream just starts to bubble slightly.

Immediately remove from heat and add the chocolate pieces. Allow the chocolate to rest and melt in the cream for a few minutes then stir with a whisk until smooth.

Add in the egg york, stirring continuously to avoid curdling. Add liqueur or vanilla extract, then butter. Stir well until blended.

Pour into espresso cups or any small individual pots. Cool to room temperature then transfer to fridge to set for about 2 hours.

Dust with cocoa powder or sprinkle with chocolate shavings just before serving.

Serves 6.