It was an afternoon filled with fun and great company. Those invited included my sister in law Arlene, who is a caterer extraordinaire, my niece, Ayi, a young food enthusiast, and my old friend, Mia (Tita Bess' daughter who is a dedicated wife and mother of two sons). Cooking has always been close to our hearts and we were all so comfortable being in the kitchen.
Kapampangan specialty. She is the expert to go to as her family's roots hail from Pampanga. She could make tibuk-tibuk from memory but that afternoon she handed us (yes we took home our own copies) a cookbook of her aunt Africa Valdes Reynoso, The Reynoso Flair.
Tibuk-tibuk is a delicate creamy dessert and I would dare say that it is the panna cotta of the Philippines. Okay it may not be as refined as what the Italians have but it has the same smooth and velvety texture, and it lends to a decadent, creamy delightful dessert.
When we got there, all the ingredients were already prepared. So let's begin:
(This recipe was adapted from The Reynoso Flair cookbook)
1 1/2 c rice flour
1/2 c latik (coconut milk reduction sprinkles)
3 whole coconut (grated)
250 ml full cream milk
1 cup sugar
1 lemon (rind)
4 pandan leaves
2 tbps oil from the coconut reduction
For the Latik: (I've shown this process in a previous post, but here are the steps again)
Grate one coconut. Add one cup of water and squeeze. Pour the coconut milk in a thick sauce pan. Let it boil and continue to stir until most of the liquid has been reduced. The milk will begin to change its color to slight brown. Don't overcook, set aside for garnish.
Pour 2 1/2 cups of hot water over the 3 grated coconuts. Squeeze until it yields 3 cups of the first extraction. (In Tagalog that's called kakang gata). Set aside on a bowl. Pour another 3 cups of hot water on the grated coconut and squeeze the second extraction.
Place in a saucepan 1 1/2 rice flour and pandan leaves.
Add the second coconut milk extraction a little by little while continuously stirring with a wire whisk.
When the mixture thickens, add 3 cups of the first extraction. You must add it slowly to avoid forming lumps. When quite thick, add milk and sugar. Continue stirring (about 15 minutes) until thick.
Remove pandan leaves.
Add the rinds into the thickened mixture.
Pour the mixture into pans...
Sprinkle the latik
While I'm back to my home base, I still cherish that afternoon. Because in between stirring and cooking came the swapping of stories and reminiscing our childhood days that elicited laughter. Lots of laughter. Although separated by time and distance, we all share the common joys of cooking... and the memories forged that afternoon is as sweet as the dessert that we just made together. Memories that will last a lifetime.
Thank you Tita Bess and Mia for having us at your house. Arlene and Ayi, thank you for joining us that afternoon.