Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

My little one is now 9 months old and eats like there’s no tomorrow.  There’s nothing that she won’t try, whether it be ampalaya (bitter melon), okra, crab, shrimps, or liver.  She has eaten portobello mushrooms, truffle pasta, miso soup and more, and she has loved them all.  But there is one thing she hasn’t tried yet that I can’t wait to feed her, but her pediatrician has asked me not to introduce it until she is a year old – peanut butter!

But once she turns a year old, salted peanut butter cookies are on top of my list of things to bake for her!!  Because they are AWESOME.  Peanut butter.  Butter.  Chocolate.  I rest my case.  Just take a look at these babies:

Salted peanut butter cookies

Salted peanut butter cookies

I had to make a few tweaks, those of you who also live in Manila will understand that as much as I want to remain faithful to recipes, there are some things that are quite difficult to buy here.  Pastry flour is one of them.  Based on this post with amazing pictures, I substituted the pastry flour for 2/3 all purpose flour and 1/3 cake flour.  I was able to find natural peanut butter (Skippy) in Landmark.  It was the no-stir kind but it worked just fine.

Natural and salted peanut butter from Landmark

Natural and salted peanut butter from Landmark

For those of you wondering if you can use natural and regular peanut butter interchangeably, the answer is a big fat NO.  I learned this the hard way – I tried using regular instead of natural peanut butter in a recipe I saw for peanut butter brownies and after around 15 minutes in the oven I could hear my batter sizzling…sizzling, people!  Needless to say that was a throw away batch.  After some research I figured out why – natural peanut butter does not contain partially hydrogenated oil which makes it a lot less greasy.

Another thing – use kosher salt!  Do not substitute with your regular table salt.  The cookies will be puffy but not totally golden when they’re done.  If they look done, well, they’re overcooked.  So take them out once your timer hits 18 minutes and they will slowly form beautiful cracks, and sink into peanut buttery goodness.  🙂

You can find the recipe on Orangette here.  Be prepared for your house to smell like heaven.

Salted peanut butter cookies

Fresh from the oven

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Banana cake a la David Lebovitz

My husband is a doctor who holds clinic both in the city and in the province.  If you are a doctor in the province, one thing you can be very sure of is that you will never go hungry.  You will likely never be rich, but you will most assuredly not go hungry!  And that’s a very acceptable trade off to The Part Time Homemaker.  🙂  Our home therefore never runs out of food (fruits, pastries, chocolates) from thoughtful patients.

Almost every week, my husband comes home carrying a huge bunch of bananas, which we either eat plain, mix into Greek yogurt from the Salcedo market, or cut up to eat with cereal.  There are times though that we can’t eat as many as he brings home, and they end up dark brown or black in the kitchen.  Yesterday was one of those times, and nothing screams “banana cake!” louder than black lakatan bananas.  It was almost serendipitous then that I saw this recent post by Marketman on David Lebovitz’s banana cake.  I also happened to have the book this recipe comes from, Ready for Dessert, on my Kindle.  How cool is that?  And so a little over an hour later, the husband and I were sitting down to this:

Banana cake ala David Lebovitz

Banana cake ala David Lebovitz

I’m not a fan of frosting (okay, and I was feeling lazy) so I took my cue from Marketman and just made the plain banana cake.  Some substitutions:  I used instant coffee powder (no espresso powder on hand at home) and I made the cake with walnuts.  It was moist, soft, and absolutely delicious with a hot cup of tea (or coffee).

I tucked it underneath some parchment paper and left it at room temperature overnight.  It was even more delicious in the morning for breakfast!  Guess we know the fate of the bananas that my husband brings home next time.  Only this time I just might wait for them to be overripe on purpose.  🙂

Garlicky pork adobo with balsamic vinegar

Adobo is unarguably one of the most popular dishes in the Philippines, and with good reason.  It’s delicious on the day it’s made and gets even better in the rare occasion that you might have leftovers.  There are probably as many versions as there are households in this country, and of course everyone does it “best” where they are from.  🙂

This version I’m about to share with you is by no means authentic, but it’s a delicious variation in case you want to try something new.  The balsamic vinegar adds a sweetness, complexity, and bright acidity that works very well with the fatty pork – yum!!!

balsamic pork adobo

Balsamic vinegar pork adobo

You could use pork or chicken or a combination of the two, but I rarely combine them as they have very different cooking times.  I like to cook pork adobo for several hours until it’s fork tender and the fat is brown and incredibly delicious!

Garlicky pork adobo with balsamic vinegar

  • 500 grams pork, cut into cubes (make sure you get the part with a lot of fat)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Peppercorns
  • Potatoes (peeled and quartered) – optional but yummy!

Throw your pork into your favorite pot and add your balsamic vinegar and white vinegar.  I used approximately 1:1 ratio between the two types of vinegar.  Add some soy sauce to taste (I usually put half as much soy sauce as there is vinegar), the garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns.  Simmer for around 2 hours, then add the potatoes and continue to simmer until potatoes are soft.

Serve it over tons of steamed white or brown rice.  🙂

Kalua pork and cabbage

I haven’t had much time to cook in the past few months, since by the time I get home I’d rather give my husband and my daughter 100% of my attention.  I appreciate that we have a helper around who can also cook basic Filipino dishes, but both the hubby and I (as self-centered as this sounds) really miss my cooking!

So anyway since our little girl is visiting grandma this week, I was able to make dinner tonight.  It’s a wonderful dish we had during a recent vacation in Hawai’i, kalua pork and cabbage.  Hawai’i has been a favorite vacation spot for my family since I was a kid, but because kalua pork looks unappetizing, I’ve never tried it until our most recent trip when I stole a forkful from my husbands plate in Duke’s Waikiki.  And just like that, I was hooked and ordered it several more times during the duration of our trip.

I asked my Aunt (who has lived in Hawai’i for almost 30 years and is a fabulous cook) how to make it and she told me to just roast pork butt in the oven with a little garlic, Hawaiian red salt and liquid smoke until it’s fork tender.  I also saw a lot of similar recipes online so I decided to give it a shot.  Anything that can be cooked on low heat in the oven can been made in a slow cooker, so I took out my trusty slow cooker early this morning and tonight we sat down to this:

Slow cooker kalua pork and cabbage

Slow cooker kalua pork and cabbage

Kalua pork and cabbage for 2

  • 600 grams pork butt/shoulder/kasim with a good amount of fat
  • 2/3 cabbage (we love cabbage, you can definitely use less if you want)
  • Garlic to taste
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • Salt – I used regular kosher salt since I couldn’t get my hands on any Hawaiian red rock salt
  • A few strips of bacon

Take your pork butt or kasim and salt it generously.  Poke it with a knife and stuff slivers of garlic around the pork.  Stick it in your slow cooker fat side up to keep it moist, add the liquid smoke, set the slow cooker on low, and forget about it for at least 8 hours.  Yes, you can cook in a slow cooker without water or a lot of liquid!  🙂

When I checked on my pork, it was so tender that it only took a few pushes with my bamboo spatula to make it look like this:

Shredded kalua pork after 8 hours in the slow cooker

Shredded kalua pork after 8 hours in the slow cooker

Next time though I would pick a part that had a little more fat since that’s the only thing that keeps the pork moist.  Chop up your cabbage and throw it into the slow cooker, adding a little more salt to taste.

Cabbage waiting for the kalua pork

Cabbage waiting for the kalua pork

Since I felt the pork was a bit too lean, I decided to add a little bacon, which of course goes with anything!  Yum!

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I left this to cook for another hour while I made some brown rice, and served everything with some macaroni salad that I made the day before.

I brought some liquid smoke with me from Honolulu but you can get it here in Manila either in Unimart or Market Market.  I found that information on this great thread on Marketmanila where MM and readers have compiled a lengthy list of where to buy some hard to find items.