A handmade Advent calendar

A gift to someone living far but always in our hearts…

This year I thought of making this advent calendar using materials which I have in my craft box. Someone taught me how to sew the pieces together, another researched and wrote on a piece of paper some sayings from the veneto region, another prepared coffee, fantasy and a fond thought for someone dear living abroad….

Have a wonderful sunday everyone!!!

This is also the second sunday of Advent. Wishing everyone a peaceful and lovefilled Sunday!!!

20141207-162242.jpg

20141207-162324.jpg

“Prosecco Hills”, Col San Martino, Farra di Soligo, Province of Treviso, Italy

P1370286

P1370319

P1370411

P1370422Prosecco Hills, Col San Martino, Farra di Soligo, Province of Treviso, Italy

I never imagined how wonderful it is to walk in the midst of grapevines which produces the famous Prosecco DOCG. Thank you very much to Sara M. for inviting me and friends to visit the winery owned by her sister in-law and for showing us the natural beauty of the hills cultivated with grapes intended for the production of very special Prosecco wines, DOCG(Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).

Pan de coco

This is a very well known Filipino delicacy. I think anyone who had the chance to stay in the Philippines surely had the chance to taste this bread buns with coconut filling. It’s probably because I have more time now to dedicate to my favorite hobby which is cooking or baking sweets, after 28 interesting years living outside of my hometown, i finally have these moments where I could try to reconstruct the procedure of how to make some of my favorite Filipino native delicacies. It’s a heartwarming and interesting mental excercise to try to recall past moments and dishes shared with family and friends. Some memories would make me laugh, some would bring tears to my eyes because I just can’t help missing certain special persons in my life, what I surely realize is that….For every moment and for every person that I’ve met, I have learned something….I also know that I’ll always try to make each experience be a lesson to do better and to love more.

PAN DE COCO

I used my Pan de sal recipe for the dough. For 9 coconut filled buns I used the extra Pan de sal dough, which was left after I made some Pan de sal for today and tomorrow’s lunch. I think excess dough was more or less 300 grams.

Filling:

2 cups dessicated coconut
1 1/2 cup brown sugar “Mascobado”
75 grams of butter
1/2 cup milk
2 ml vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon powder, though I prefer without flavoring.

Cook above ingredients over medium fire, continously stirring for 25 minutes. Avoid burning the coconut filling! Cool.

Use 1 full Tablespoon of this filling for each of the 9 portions of dough. See attached picture.

Preheat oven at 180°C/10 minutes

Gather the end of each disc, close well and turn the bun.
Spread some egg wash on top and on the sides of the bun and do a star like cut on the center. If you like, you can sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top before baking.

Bake at 180°C/25 – 30 minutes

Happy baking!!!

20140502-190510.jpg

Mint Tea or Tè alla menta

I’ve always been interested with cultivating herbal plants in my garden and this year I am particularly interested with planting Mentha and Lemongrass. I have 4 varietes of Mint plants and experimenting on how to grow Lemongrass here in the province of Treviso. For the mint plants I was able to buy them from the local plant nursery. Today , I thought of preparing some Mint Tea using some stalks from my Mint plant. I have read about the different health benefits this tea brings, all I can say is…it is truly a very refreshing drink. Oh! I also thought that nature has so many things to offer. We often go to buy Mint teabags from the grocery store without thinking that maybe we could try to cultivate this plant at home.

MINT TEA OR TE’ ALLA MENTA

5 stalks of Mint
4 cups of boiling water
Sugar or honey according to taste. I prefer mint tea without sugar
5 – 6 drops of lemon. By adding lemon, you will obtain a light colored tea and for some, a better tasting mint tea. I prefer mint tea without sugar and without lemon.

Wash the freshly harvested mint stalks, wash them, dry them with a kitchen paper, put them in a teapot, pour the boiling water, leave in infusion for 5 minutes, drain and serve. If you like, you can put the tea in the fridge(once cold!), and use this refreshing drink the next day…

20140501-145313.jpg

“FRITOE”…

Fritters…it is in this period of the year, that this very special sweet is being prepared here in Italy. Like “Biko” during Christmas time. I think that “Carnevale” without these fried specialty is less interesting and lively…maybe this is only my particular way of associating certain foods with certain occasions…and just in case somebody living abroad would like to try this truly fantastic delicacy, here’s the recipe:

FRITOE VENEZIANE

500 grams all purpose flour, sifted
2 cups milk
2 eggs
130 g raisins( soaked in warm water for at least 1 hr and then drained)
80 g sugar
40 g brewers yeast to be dissolved with a tsp of sugar and 3/4 cup warm water
1/8 cup “grappa”
Rind of a lemon
40 grams Pine nuts
2 ml vanilla flavoring
1 1/2 liter of peanut oil or oil for frying

Eggs + sugar + flour, to be added gradually + raisins + lemon rind + pine nuts + grappa + vanilla + pinch of salt. Mix well for at least 20 minutes( fortunately my kitchen Aid is doing the mixing for me!) + add the yeast . Mix well and let the dough rest for 4 – 5 hours. Fry batter (use 2 spoons to drop batter into the pan) , turn the “fritoe”, do not overcook! Remove from the pan after 5-6 minutes or when both sides are brown . Roll over sugar and serve. I think this is best eaten when it is still hot…

20140304-184632.jpg

SHAKOY…

a typical Filipino delicacy. I think that this is the Filipino version of the Italian “frittelle”, the only difference is that the dough is very simple. You don’t add raisins or pine nuts and “grappa”. After a trip to Iligan in 2010, I had the luck to buy from two very young vendors some “SHAKOY” and since that time i’ve always dreamed to make some of this sweet, though not so good for health(because it’s fried!), here in Italy. After so many attempts, I think i’ve found the recipe though I substituted butter with olive oil. For this recipe I used my bread maker to prepare the dough for me. This is the recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup water, lukewarm
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
7 grams yeast
1 tsp. salt
extra sugar- for coating
oil- for frying

Directions:
1.) In large bowl combine flour, sugar, yeast, salt and olive oil. Mix well.
2.) Add the egg into the mixture and lukewarm water and start mixing together.
3.) Knead the dough in clean floured surface until smooth and elastic. Let is rise for 1-2 hours.
4.) Divide the dough into 8 pieces, or more. It depends on the desired size of the “SHAKOY”. Start rolling dough into cigar and twist it.
5.) Let it rise for 20-30 minutes. (Enough time to heat the deep fryer on medium low)
6.) Fry it for about 1-2 minutes each side. Let cool. Put in the plastic bag with sugar and shake it.
7.) Best when serve hot along with your favorite drink.

If you want to use the bread maker,

Water + oil + flour + salt + egg + sugar + yeast. Use program 10. I am using the KENWOOD BREAD MAKER.

After the machine has finished processing the dough, follow stage 4 of the instructions above. Happy cooking!

20140222-213749.jpg

“CHICKEN SALAD” or MACARONI SALAD

It’ s been raining for almost a week now. That kind of rain that keeps on falling just like a particular thought that is bothering me for quiet some time. How to make that “chicken salad” which I used to eat during special gatherings while I was still living in the Iligan City. I think, after so many years of trying to make one of my favorite Filipino recipes, I finally found the right one. Or is it?

MY CHICKEN SALAD RECIPE

285 grams o 300 ml maionese
250 macaroni pasta, cooked “al dente”
100 grams raisins
2 carrots, diced and steamed for 5 minutes
1 Tablespoon “salsa tartara”, tartar sauce
50 grams “cheddar” cheese or similar cheese like “formaggio montasio”, in small cubes
A dash of ground Mix creola – Creola: miscela di pepe bianco, pepe nero, pepe verde, pepe rosa e pimento. – pepper mix – red, black,green,red and pimento
350 g of pineapple tidbits, strained
150 grams of cooked and shredded chicken breast( i cooked the chicken breast with 1/2 liter water,
1/4 onion
1/2 stalk of celery
1/2 medium size carrot, cut in small cubes
Salt to taste

Mix above ingredients together. Put salad in a tightly closed container and let salad rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

20140202-144321.jpg

Auntie Sonia’s Biko

Christmas is a time when we get to hear some warm wishes from friends and relatives living in other countries and just before christmas, I got a call from a very special aunt living in one of the countries here in Europe and so we get to talk about bygone days spent with relatives at home and the different dishes being prepared during christmas and the new year and we started talking about BIKO. Biko is a very important sweet delicacy for most Filipinos. For me, it’s one of those dishes which reminds me of merry gatherings with friends and family. As far as I can remember, Biko was always prepared and offered to visitors or relatives during christmas, New year and All Saints day at home. I’ved always thought, ” no Biko, no party!”. For this christmas, my auntie Sonia shared to me her Biko recipe. Well, the only difference from my recipe is that she added dash of aniseed.

AUNTIE SONIA’S BIKO RECIPE

800 ML OF COCONUT MILK
750 GRAMS OF BROWN SUGAR(MASCOBADO)
1/2 TEASPOON ANISEED
1 KILO GLUTINOUS RICE
1LITER AND 800 ML OF WATER
COOK GLUTINOUS RICE + WATER. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE RICE(USUALLY YOU NEED 20 MINUTES TO COOK IT)

PREPARE THE COCONUT SAUCE:
POUR THE 2 CANS OF COCONUT MILK INTO A WOK OR A WIDE BRIMMED TEFLON PAN AND BRING THE MILK TO A BOIL
ADD THE BROWN SUGAR. CONTINUE STIRRING UNTIL SAUCE BECOMES A LITTLE BIT DENSE(MORE OR LESS 45 MINUTES)
REMOVE SAUCE FROM FIRE.
ADD THE RICE + ANISEED. MIX WELL.

20140102-171427.jpg