Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

The family gathers for Mother's Day Brunch.

It's Mother's Day and happy wishes to all the mothers out there in the world. Decided to prepare Mother's Day Brunch for my mom and my aunts. Here's our menu:

- Beef Tapa
- Pork Tocino
- Scrambled Eggs
- Pancit Bihon
- Applewood Smoked Bacon
- Steamed Rice
- Blueberry Muffins
- Steamed Asparagus
- Mixed Fruit
- Buko Pie
- Oven Shrimp
- Blood Orange Juice
- Aida's Grand Reserve from Stumptown

Blueberry muffins hot from the oven.

Originally, my plan was to do a traditional American-style brunch but as I got into planning things yesterday, I realized that while I enjoy pancakes and such, why not focus more on our traditions and go with a Filipino-style brunch. Suddenly, more items started dancing in my notebook: ensaymada, ukoy, fire-baked bibingka, sinangag and dried fried fish.

It's so easy to drive over the Filipino grocery store and buy the packaged tocino and tapa, but why? With such great ingredients at my disposal, why choose commercially processed meats over the great local meats? So, I drove out to Springfield Farm to load up. With pounds of bacon, flank steak and pork butt (not to mention a few pounds of chicken backs for stock, and a couple rib eyes) in tow, it was back home to get things rolling.

Sliced flank steak and some Shaoxing wine for marinade.

Truth be told, I'd never made either tocino or tapa before. I looked up some recipes and started mixing. The tocino is a pretty simple mixture of salt, sugar and achiote powder. Slice the pork butt into thin planks, sprinkle the dry mix, top with sliced garlic and let marinate overnight. Of course, I didn't start until the morning so I needed to speed things up by bagging and vacuum packing the seasoned meat.

Tapa was equally simple. Slice the meat into thin planks and marinade in a mix of Aloha Shoyu, Shiaoxing rice wine, coconut vinegar maasim (hot), sugar and lime juice. This needs to marinated for at least an hour, better overnight, and then air dried for 12 hours. Of course, it's the morning and I'm under the gun. Vacuum pack the meat and marinade to speed the process for an hour, lay the planks on a drying rack in a 175F oven for awhile, finish drying in the hot sun and then pan fry.

Marinated beef tapa basking in the sunshine.

Happily, I still have some of the fresh blueberries I froze from last summer. My supply is now dwindling but the flavor is still bright, sweet and intense. The perfect specimens for muffins. Taking a cue from the current issue of Cook's Illustrated, I whipped up their recipe of flour, sugar, baking powder, butter and oil with a cup of frozen blueberries and some of the blueberry jam I have from last summer. Coat with a liberal application of lemon accented sugar and bake at 425F for twenty minutes. Beautiful.

Everyone works the line...