Friday, December 23, 2011

The Heart of Noche Buena

Friday, December 23, 2011

    Filipinos love food, their indulgence with delicious fares made every occasion unique, their love of cooking and experimenting ingredients made way of having a distinction when it comes to delicacies.


    In the matter of taste, Filipino dominates. . .
    Another thing Pinoy always wanted to pursue is their love to feast. Their passion to make celebration even in the simplest occasion only prove how big is the heart of the Filipino in appreciating small things.


    And these thought made no single doubt how they value NOCHE BUENA. . .
    Associated with Christmas is what we called “Noche Buena”, the most anticipated gathering of the whole family during the Christmas Eve. It is a tradition inspired by the Spanish and went through decades and generations. And as of today, it is considered as one of the most divulges tradition in the Philippines, delighted with varieties of delicacies, made this occasion an extraordinary.


    As Christmas being tagged “Time for the Family” Noche Buena serves as the initial way to unite. Because of the desire to cook and eat together, relatives from Manila and from other places gather at province to celebrate the nativity at their most traditional way despite of the long trip and uncomfortable bus situation.
    Laughing while exchanging greeting to each of the family members “kumustahan” first satisfy the cravings of one’s heart.  And “beso-beso” would be the warmest greetings of all, perhaps could be called “appetizer”.


    And going through the main dish, there goes the most popular “lechon, morcon, embutido,pansit, lumpia and relyenong bangus” and completing the salo-salo indulgence, “ham on the table will be placed”.

    Foods and love ones . . . these completes the festivity, the occasion that would never be special with the absence of the heart that can truly value the essence of love.
    Because certainl,y Noche Buena is not solely a festivity, abounding with lots of food. Nor on the specialty of the cuisines serve on the table. Above all, it reflects the true meaning of intimacy on the relationship of the family

    A Despicable Merry Dinner
    The problem with most of the Noche Buena dinners we have nowadays is that they are very sumptuous and costly. But having a tight budget doesn’t mean that one can’t afford a merry Christmas dinner for the family.
    During the Spanish Era, it was said that the banquets for the feast of these prosperous colonizers is very sumptuous. Filipinos that time couldn’t afford preparing and finding the ingredients of these Spanish menus. And so, they opted to prepare Chinese cuisines that are not only easy to cook but flavorful and affordable. Why not try some common treats with the touch of Chinese culture.

    Christmas won’t be complete without Pancit. Almost all households have varieties of pancit dishes served on the Christmas dinner. We also have pancit served in all of our holidays and other celebrations. These all time favorite Chinese noodle dish comes in various flavors and is ready to cook. Both for the rich and the poor, you could also made a respectable Pancit Bihon just with noodles, soy sauce, bouillon cubes, slivers of thinly-sliced meat, and shredded vegetables like carrots, peas, and celery stalks.

    Pancit Bihon Recipe
    -           Estimated cooking & preparation time: 45 minutes

    Pancit Bihon Ingredients: 
    -          1 8 oz. pack pancit bihon noodles
    -          1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
    -          2 cups of chicken broth or 2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups of water
    -          1/4 cabbage, sliced into strips
    -          1 onion, pealed and sliced
    -          3 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
    -          1/3 cup scallions, cut into pieces
    -          1 carrot, sliced into strips
    -          2 tablespoons of cooking oil
    -          3/4 cup diced celery
    -          3 tablespoons soy sauce
    -          Salt and pepper to taste
    -          5 pieces of calamansi or 1 lemon, sliced

    Pancit Bihon Cooking Instructions:
    -          Soak the pancit bihon noodles to soften for 10 minutes
    -          Grease a large pan or wok with oil. Sauté garlic and onions.
    -          Add the chicken broth, the shredded chicken breast and all the vegetables until cooked.
    -          Mix in the pancit bihon noodles and add the soy sauce, cook for about 5 minutes or until the noodles are soft.
    -          Salt and pepper to taste.
    -          Serve hot with sliced calamansi on the side.

    Cooking Notes:
    -          Calamansi or lemon is to be squeezed into the pancit bihon before eating.


    And who would forget an all wrapped on treat like Lumpia? Lumpia is a local take on the traditional Chinese fried dimsum. Also known as Shanghai Roll or Spring Roll, it is usually made from ground pork enclosed in a special wrapper made from eggs and flour. The rolls are then deep-fried to a crisp golden brown, with the remaining filling used to prepare other dishes like wonton, molo, and meatballs.

    Fresh lumpia, or lumpiang ubod, is a uniquely Filipino form of spring rolls. Instead of deep-frying, the dish is kept as raw as possible, with only the wrapper steamed and the filling warmed through. Bamboo and coconut shoots are added and the rolls are usually served with peanut sauce and other condiments.


    What makes the Christmas sweeter are our rice cakes or popularly known as “kakanin”. Rice cakes are common in Filipino cuisine, especially bibingka and puto bumbong. These snack items are usually served during Simbang Gabi (traditional dawn masses held for nine consecutive days before December 25). Coupled with a cup of hot coffee or a mug of steamed chocolate, the rice cakes make pulling one’s self out of bed early in the morning and staying awake during the entire homily worthwhile.

    While puto bumbong can trace its origins to traditional Filipino cooking methods, bibingka is remarkably similar to many Chinese rice cakes, particularly those from the Jinan, Qinghai, and Shaanxi cooking traditions. Bibingka can be eaten as is, but is usually served and enjoyed with a slathering of margarine, a sprinkling of salt, and a few slices of red salted eggs. Sitting down to a hot plate of bibingka is like an international dining experience, especially when the rice cakes are washed down with a cup of Spanish hot chocolate or indigenous coffee.





    Holiday treats to keep Fats and Cholesterol at bay
    While it is true that hams, lechon (pork or chicken) and embutido are truly yummy and mouthwatering, they are also full of fat and bad cholesterol, which to the hypertensive and diabetic lot, spell danger. For people with dietary problems or even for the plain health conscious, we recommend you these healthy Noche Buena recipes that are sure to keep the calories and cholesterol at bay.


    Here’s something light and healthy to start your Noche Buena feast – the Ensalada Noche Buena.
    Ensalada comes from the Latin word salata which means salty. Of Spanish origin, ensalada is an appetizer which is actually a medley of vegetables, fruits, nuts, croutons, fish, cheese, etc. served with salad dressing.


    Through the years, culinary experts have created various versions of ensalada using different ingredients and dressings. We recommend this healthy salad to perk up your traditional Christmas family dinner.

    Yield:
    - 8 servings (serving size: about 1 2/3 cups salad and about 1 tablespoon dressing)

    Ingredients :
    -          4 large navel oranges
    -          large red grapefruit
    -          3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled jicama (about 1 pound)
    -          3/4 cup slivered red radishes (about 6 medium)
    -          1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime rind
    -          3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    -          3 tablespoons plain fat-free yogurt
    -          2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
    -          1 1/ 2 tablespoons honey
    -          1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    -          Dash of salt
    -          4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
    -          cup pomegranate seeds
    -          3 tablespoons unsalted pumpkinseed kernels, toasted 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    Preparation:
    Peel and section oranges and grapefruit over a large bowl, reserving juice; add sections to juice. Add jicama and radishes to orange mixture; toss gently. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Combine rind and next six ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Arrange lettuce in a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, place the orange mixture over lettuce; drizzle evenly with yogurt mixture. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seed kernels, and cilantro.

    Nutritional information:
    -          Calories 133 (22% from fat)
    -          Fat      3.3 g (sat. 3.3 g mono. 1.6 g poly. 1.2 g)
    -          Protein    2.2 g
    -          Carbohydrate 26.2 g
    -          Fiber    5.7 g
    -          Cholesterol    2.6 mg
    -          Iron    0.9 mg
    -          Sodium    58 mg
    -          Calcium    65 mg


    How to bake a Banana Cake
    Learn to bake one of the best loved healthy cakes.
    We’ve asked local coffee shop owners what are the top five bestselling cakes and always, the classic banana cake would land on the list. Of course we weren’t surprised. Banana cakes are well-loved because they are healthy (as compared with other super sweet cakes), yummy and easy to make. Try this favorite recipe and earn more!
    Ingredients
    -          1 1/2 cups shortening
    -          4 1/2 cups sugar
    -          1 tablespoon vanilla
    -          6 eggs
    -          2 1/2 cups mashed bananas
    -          7 cups sifted cake flour
    -          1 teaspoon baking soda
    -          1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 1/2 cups buttermilk1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


    The Classic Pinakbet
    There are a lot of variations of this Ilocano dish but nothing compares to the version of the great Ilocano cooks.

    In the Northern part of the country, some people I say pinakbet tastes different from the ones served in the restaurants of Manila, or even from the Southern part of the Philippines. The ampalaya tastes more bitter, the bagoong, saltier and the rest of the ingredients, a little bit crispier.

    Pinakbet is the contracted form of the Ilocano word pinakebbet, meaning “shrunk” or shriveled.” In Ilocos province, people use bagoong as the main flavor of this all-Filipino dish, while in the South, alamang is preferred. Other ingredients include eggplant, tomatoes, ginger, squash, lima beans, winged beans, etc. But through the years, pinakbet has evolved into various forms. Let’s try to learn the classic way of preparing this great Ilocano dish.


    Crunch Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges
    The greatest challenge to most of us is how to trim down those unwanted fat in our bellies. By this time, not all the will power in the world can make us stick to our New Year resolution of losing weight. And while daily exercises or gym calisthenics can help curb our unwanted avoirdupois, we still have to stick to a diet that’s low in fat.


    This simple salad recipe by kmcallister (www.saladbetterrecipes.com) is ideal for people who want to win the battle of the bulge or just want to maintain a healthy, curvaceous figure. You can actually do innovations on your own and vary the recipes as your taste buds desire. If you happen to own an eatery, this can also add up to your growing list of healthy salad recipes and earn additional income. Remember, salads which are easy to make cost an arm and a leg in most restaurants nowadays. The important thing to remember is to ensure that your raw ingredients are fresh (of course organic ingredients are always preferred) in order to get the right benefits that a healthy salad can offer. So here’s to a new year of happy, healthy, eating!


    A Call and a Drive Away or Rush-In Foods
    Not having enough time to prepare some “tummy-friendly” dishes for Christmas? Want an easy, affordable yet luscious food for Noche Buena without even getting tired? Don’t worry… these queries can now be answer in just a call and drive away.

    As the much awaited day of December came nearer, Filipino families got busy buying and organizing various kinds of foods (be it simple or intricate) to be served on each modest yet elegantly arranged tables.
    But because of the mushrooming number of fast food chains nowadays that can be located at every corner of the town plus the fact that it is not time-consuming, most families were more inclined into it. Included here are the widely-known fried chicken, the children’s favorite spaghetti, ice cold drinks, special burgers, small/ large fries, ice creams of different flavors, brownies, pizzas and lasagna.

    It also offers delectable yet reasonable priced meals and various kinds of refreshments. It only requires less time for walking or driving, a call or a text away and just a minute time for waiting (if it is a delivery). 










    The pictures and recipes posted here is courtesy of www.google.com

    Aside from these mouth-watering meals offered by various fast-food stores, people who do not have enough time in preparing for the Noche Buena may also try this dessert that can only be made less than half an hour. Easy, quick and affordable, what else can you ask for?
    A Filipino Noche Buena is not complete without some sweet in the table.

    video

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