Thursday, February 15, 2007

Super Strawberry Jam

Jams are not a childhood favorite. I must admit I was more partial and still am to peanut butter, nutella, even chiz whiz. The famed strawberry jams of Baguio, the only place where it can be grown in the Philippines, are much sought after. Even I hoard it even though it takes us months and months to finish it in the house. Although I occasionally indulge in it, I find it a bit too cloyingly sweet.

Not this jam I just made! It is perfect in all aspects. The hue is perfectly red and the taste so not that annoyingly sweet. I hope I can take the credit for creating this perfect jam, but I have Nigella Lawson to thank for it :) Her wondrous book How To Be A Domestic Goddess carries this recipe, and I think the trick really is adding balsamic vinegar to the mixture. It is absolutely true what she said that it sort of brings all the more the strawberry flavor. If you have strawberries in season now, like what we have here, I urge you to please please give this a try.

For three breakfasts in a row, I have been having this with toasted wheat bread and butter. I really have to stop now, as I am trying to lose a few pounds. But I cant help it, Im even scheming to do another batch later to give to friends!

The saucer thing in the freezer (to test on jam doneness) didn't once again work for me. I hope it can be more specific by what it means by wrinkles when pressed. Nevertheless, I am so loving my strawberry jam.

Strawberry Jam
From How To Be A Domestic Goddess

3 - 3 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Put saucer in your freezer. (This is to test for jam doneness) Mix all ingredients in a saucepan, stir with wooden spoon until nicely incorporated. Put to low heat and put to boil stirring constantly. Let boil for 5-8 minutes depending on the size of your pan. Start the saucer test from 4 minutes (take saucer out of the freezer, put a spoonful of jam, let cool a bit and poke at the jam. If it wrinkles, it's done). While testing doneness, take the pan off the heat. When done, let cool for 20 minutes before storing in clean sterilized jars.

Ive made my second batch, it turned out divine though I liked the first batch better if only for the more fiery red color. The only difference was that this time I used fresh strawberries, unlike the thawed ones before. The color turns out better when the strawberries are frozen then thawed. Sort of makes it more watery, and the color really comes alive.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blueberry Cheesecake

My very first cheesecake! With blueberries to boot. It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! And I really cant say that enough. Im quite picky when eating cheesecakes, and I can tell if ingredients were scrimped if it has jelly-like consistensies (substituting cream cheese to gelatine?) For me, its the real deal or none at all, most especially where cheesecakes are concerned.

This recipe is such a keeper, and I really have the ultimate dessert lady to thank for it. She did all the homework so all of us can enjoy and bloat to our friends that we make the best cheesecakes ever! It is incredibly easy to make, and when I say easy - its just mix and pour and bake - literally!

Blueberry Cheesecake
From Lori of

2 cups graham crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 8-oz packages cream cheese
1 can condensed milk
3 eggs
2 tsps lemon juice or juice of two calamansi (local small lemons)
For the sauce:
8 ounces blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven 300 degrees. Combine crumbs, butter and sugar. Press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

With mixer, beat cream cheese in largr bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and lemon juice. Mix well. Pour into prepared pan, even if still warm. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until center is slightly jiggly but perimeter is set. Cool 1 hour. Chill at least 4 hours to let flavors develop. Ms. Lori said this will keep for two weeks, but it lasted only two days with us, its just too yummy :)

To make the blueberry sauce, combine together in a saucepan until just boiling and the juices are oozing. Adjust sugar according to taste, then put to slow boil again. Top in cheesecake after cooling.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Blueberry Muffins

With the blueberries waiting to be used in the ref, I excitedly put out my copy of the sexy Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess and chose between making a trifle or a muffin. The muffin won over as I lacked some of the ingredients of the trifle. These were great, and a good start for this Nigella-wannabe. As my copy is fairly new, this is the very first recipe from the book that I have tried.

The locally-grown blueberries did not disappoint, and provided just a tad tartiness to the muffin. The Little Bee tried it, and was amused that we were putting fruits in our baked goods. She prefers chocolate chips though.

Blueberry Muffins
Freely adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup + 2tbsp buttermilk (or 1/2 cup yoghurt + 1/4 cup milk)
1 large egg
7 ounces blueberries

Melt butter. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat gently egg, buttermilk and butter. With a light hand using a wooden spoon, pour over wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix gently. Do not overwork, lumps are ok. Fold in blueberries gently. Pour half-full into muffin papers. Bake for 20 minutes and cool.

Fresh bake aroma was wafting in the house the whole time these little muffins are baking in the oven. Oh, how I wish I could have all the time in the world to bake, if only for the warm fuzzy feeling that certain aroma brings, especially on a particularly cool February night!

Monday, February 05, 2007


The weather has been pretty balmy the past two weeks, it has been very pleasant outdoors at about 20 degrees temp instead of our usual 32. Nights are so comfy and we always find it hard to wake up in the morning as our pillows are so irresistibly huggable! Strawberries from up north are finding its way to the markets, but I was still amazed to see blueberries on sale! This is really the first time I've seen locally grown blueberries and while it is pitifully small than the Western counterparts, I still got excited! So many recipes to finally try! The vendor said it can last a week in the ref, and in the meantime Im thinking of ways to put it to good use. With a busy sked ahead, I sure hope I can sneak in some time to sit down and properly pay these little rare berries some respect. Blueberry muffins? Blueberry cheesecake perhaps? Or blueberry jam?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Sight To Behold

I did not just conquer a mountain, I saw the SIGHTS... It was the most amazing experience especially when shared with a loved one. The hurdles were plenty and the sacrifices abound, but the sights and the experience were unforgettable. Hey, I am now a mountaineer :)

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

In an attempt to produce more baked goods over the holidays for gifts, I reached for the first interesting recipe I saw which seemed easy and quite different. The tiny little word 'flourless' appealed to me in this recipe as well as the fact that peanut butter remains to be a favorite. I should tell you though, that (horrors!) I was not in my best of moods when I baked these, you know those few days before Christmas when everything is in a rush and you oftentimes wish that Christmas is still a month away? That was my kind of day, and if you live in this part of the planet - you will know and you will understand that the HUGE stress-inducing holiday problem is almost always the traffic all around the city.

So I started to bake very late, and the next day was the last day of work before Xmas and I had to, I just had to give out already the goodies. And so it was too late to realize that being flourless, the cookies did not keep well in their containers and kept on crumbling! They are fantastic nonetheless, but is best eaten and served right in your own home as it really does not travel well.

Flourless Peanut Butter & Choc Chip Cookies
From Bon Appetit Sept 1999

250 g chunky peanut butter
200 g golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
160 g miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix all ingredients except choc chips in medium bowl. Mix well then add the choc chips. Using moistened hands, form generous 1 tbsp dough for each cookie into ball. Arrange on 2 ungreased baking sheets, spacing 5cm apart. Bake cookies until puffed, golden on bottom but still soft to touch in the center, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely.