Tuesday, December 28, 2010
My favorite holiday treats, Tya Belinds embutido, macaroni and fruit salad
If there was one thing I looked forward to these past holiday season it would have been Tya Belind’s embutido, macaroni salad and fruit salad. Her embutido is a staple during family gatherings like Christmas dinner and fiestas. We would freeze batches of her embutido wrapped in banana leaves and cook it during mealtimes after the holidays. One time I tried jotting down all the ingredients while she was preparing it and I almost couldn’t keep up with the ingredients. In the end I was just amazed by the effort required to cook it. Unfortunately, I lost my copy but I’m sure there was minced meat with some sausages, red bell peppers and raisins in them and it was also steamed for about three hours. Yes, I remember the length of time needed to cook it because I was bored waiting and wondered if our Shellane tank would get depleted before the steaming was done. Now I regret my impatience and wished I kept that copy well, maybe I could ask her to make it again one time.
But of course, I can’t say if Tya Belinds embutido is the best out there but it’s definitely the standard I base other embutidos on. And even if there were better ones, I'm sorry for being biased but I'm sure Tya Belinds version will still be my favorite. Hers has a smoothness in texture that lack in others with well-blended ingredients resulting from long hours of cooking. I just love dipping the meat slices in sweet banana catsup and eating it with a spoonful of warm rice.
Incidentally, her embutido not only goes well with rice but also with macaroni salad. Yes, the macaroni salad. The only thing I tried preparing last Christmas. The only one I could tweak (I added boiled, shredded chicken meat) but her version was definitely my inspiration. Made with cooked macaroni tossed in mayonnaise with raisins and cubed cheddar cheese, you can definitely taste the play of flavors with the sourness of the mayo and the sharpness of the cheese lightly cut by the sweetness of the raisins. And to add a little color and crunch to the white mayo landscape dotted with black raisins, she sometimes sprinkles minced carrots in it too.
And last but not the least, one of my favorite holiday desserts, the fruit salad. When I was younger my Lola would store the fruit and macaroni salads inside small glass jars and place it inside cartons laden with leche flan, Tya Belinds embutidos and other dishes like menudo. These cartons were handed out to three families consisting of my Dad and two other aunts after the town fiesta in Batangas before the New Year. And I remember looking forward to dipping my spoon inside a jar of fruit salad when we get home.
That time, I didn’t care what it was comprised of I just knew that it was yummy and was a little sad once I was scraping the bottom of the last jar, extracting the last spoonful of its creamy goodness. And after tasting Tya Belinds fruit salad this Christmas, the same concoction I usually craved for, I now mentally noted its ingredients. And I learned that aside from the fruit cocktail being imported, an important reminder my Tya Belinds jokingly emphasized (now I know why there were more green grapes and cherries in her salad) it also had strips of macapuno (preserved young coconut sport) and nata de coco(coconut gelatin) in them and tenderly tossed in Nestlé cream and condensed milk.
And though, I’m not really fond of desserts, the fruit salad's velvety texture, sweet creaminess interspersed with colorful fruits, slivers of coconut and slippery coconut gelatin is something I really can’t resist. I can finish off an entire jar if you let me. I’m a sucker for a great fruit salad. And now that it’s the start of the New Year I know I will have to start running again to burn off all the calories I just had during the holidays. But what can I say the food was just worth it.And now I’m looking forward for the next Chistmas season.
Happy New Year to all!